This Is Me [shudder] Agreeing With Perry And [vomit] Limbaugh

Seems Michelle Bachmann is trying to give her flagging presidential campaign a boost by jumping on the anti-vaccination train to Whoops-All-Our-Kids-Are-Dead-From-Measlesburg.

In a Republican presidential debate last night, Bachmann attacked Rick Perry over his attempt to mandate Gardasil for young girls in Texas. (Gardasil being the vaccine that prevents the spread of HPV.) During the debate, she attacked Perry’s failed Gardasil initiative for being a violation of liberty; then afterward, Fox news reports her saying:

“I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate,” Bachmann said. “She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”

And that’s just really, really dumb. Vaccines don’t cause retardation. End of story.

Now I can’t say that I’m all that surprised to find evidence that nutty Michelle Bachmann is also a dangerous anti-vaccination kook. Seems to fit somehow that she’d want to keep one more avenue open through which women can die from having sex.

But what does bother me is that Rick Perry apparently worked very hard to make the HPV vaccine mandatory in his state. The initiative failed because of rank nutters like Bachmann but still the program is… erm… something I agree with. No one should get HPV. And mandatory vaccination has succeeded in stamping out some diseases (kiss science’s ass, polio!) and dramatically reducing others (yoo hoo! where are you, measles? haven’t spotted you in a while!). I think it’s a grand idea to send another nasty infection packing.

So, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m going to have to publicly say, this was a good thing to come from Governor Rick “climate science is a lie, fight wildfires with prayer not fire fighters, and I’ll execute innocent people if I like” Perry.

And, just to make things even more complicated, on his show today, Rush Limbaugh is saying Bachmann’s campaign has now jumped the shark thanks to her Gardasil attack.

Great. I agree with that too.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5’10” tall and he was born in a place. He’s not there now. He’s sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It’s “Girl From Ipanema”, thanks for asking.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

27 thoughts on “This Is Me [shudder] Agreeing With Perry And [vomit] Limbaugh”

  1. I don’t think it’s as simple as “vaccines don’t cause retardation”. Several vaccines out there contain ingredients which are known to be brain-toxic. This doesn’t mean that vaccines are bad, but it does mean that I think that people throwing out the idea of a vaccine harming someone should look a little harder at their data and see if maybe, just maybe, it might make sense to make modifications to the formula? I’m all for science but ignoring data is BAD SCIENCE. I don’t know if this is the case or not with this particular vaccine, but I do make a point of researching every vaccine before letting someone inject me or my children with it. I don’t trust big pharma or our government who is bought and paid for by big business enough to just go in blind because they say so, every time.

  2. Well, this is me (shudder/vomit) agreeing with Bachmann – at least on the point that Gardasil should be approached with great suspicion. No it doesn’t cause “retardation” (who even uses that word anymore anyway?) but I think it’s definitely dangerous to essentially use an entire generation of girls as guinea pigs. Especially when we know that the alternative (regular internal exams with pap smears) is the most effective way to stay on top of our sexual health.

    By the way, why aren’t boys being targeted for inoculation? Doesn’t that seem odd?

    HPV is everywhere. It’s been with us forever and there are many different strains. Some are obviously problematic, while others really aren’t. Plantars warts, for example, are HPV. Regular screening is the answer, not vaccinating 10 year old girls for something they may never have to deal with.

  3. Gimme a break, tho: If Rick Perry said that hamburgers were good, I’d have to agree with him; if he said tea was quite nice, actually, I would have to agree. I do recognize the novelty in a Freeper like Perry promoting a common sense policy, but there’s bound to be many common threads we all agree on. BTW, hamburgers are good is a winning campaign theme, less the PETA and Vegan-taunting that sometimes accompanies.

  4. Funny you should bring this up, Barb. There was a bit of information I left out of my blog post.

    Apparently, Rick Perry’s former chief of staff did lobbying work for Merck, the company that manufactures Gardasil. Also, Perry received a $5,000 contribution from them (a small amount as these things go, but there it is).

    So, complicated? Maybe. Or maybe completely consistent for a Republican and just taking his lead from a corporation. Who can say?

    Personally, I don’t much care about his motivations. He’s right on one big issue. And I’ll tip my hat to the man on that. Meanwhile, he’s wrong on enough other important ones that I still don’t like the guy. (As a prospect for president, that is.)

  5. Oh anon, which ingredients and what’s the dose in which vaccines? Those are also pretty crucial bits of data. We ingest brain toxic stuff every day from perfectly natural sources but in such miniscule amounts that it has no impact on us.

    As for your vague hand-waving claims about vaccines, I’d need some specifics if I’m going to respond. Otherwise you’re just fomenting a general vaccination anxiety. (Ooooo, scary big pharma! Oooo, scary big government! Oooo, scary chemicals!) And that seems pretty irresponsible to me.

  6. Vanda,
    The risk of getting cervical cancer from HPV is much much higher than the risk of getting penile or anal cancer. Hence the urgency in getting women vaccinated.

    As for why we’re not vaccinating men anyway, you can blame the accountants for that. (A loathsome fraternity if there ever was one.) For the public-health bean counters, it’s deemed not cost effective to vaccinate a population (men) that isn’t in significant danger from the virus in question. I think it’s bogus, but then, I think we need a big boost in income tax and a massive influx of cash into the healthcare system. So what do I know?

    As for the regular exam+pap smear option, easier public health measures work better than more involved ones. And prevention works better than early detection.

    I don’t get it… the HPV vaccine saves women’s lives. That makes me a fan. I see no grand, malevolent conspiracy here.

  7. @Barb: That was a breezy little quip meant to induce pleasant smirks. Here’s something that’s not an over-simplification: Rick “right on this one thing” Perry is a monster. His positions on science (doubts evolution and climate change), his expressions of religion (prayer for drought) and his record on issues from reproductive rights (mandatory sonograms) to the death penalty (won’t pardon convicts even in the face of overwhelming evidence) to safe driving (vetoed a texting while driving ban)are varying degrees of abhorrent. He’s demonstrably an awful man whose despicable behaviour is cartoonish.

    I don’t think Rick Perry is complicated at all.

  8. Paul, did you notice how the fear mongering about HPV and cervical cancer started to escalate right around the time Gardasil hit the market? I’m not calling it a conspiracy (it’s just good marketing, really), nor do I think vaccinations in general are necessarily a bad idea, but I do think making such a vaccination mandatory is a violation of a woman’s right to make choices about her own health.

    Given that screening for cell abnormalities is what brings a lot of women back to their gynecologists year after year, making that a non-issue by giving them a vaccine at age 10 will likely result in a false sense of security and fewer women getting internal exams on a regular basis. -And there are other things to look out for besides HPV. Guardasil doesn’t offer protection against all cervical cancers. An industry that expects women alone to shoulder the risk over this new vaccine, frankly, smacks of misogyny.

    The fact that this is being pushed by people who violently oppose socialized medicine should be a red flag that this isn’t about protecting women’s health. It’s about making money.

  9. I am not anti-vaccine in general, although I am cautious about which ones I give my kids. I do have a problem with the government mandating that I need to give my 10 year old daughter something. At that age they are old enough to have a reasonable conversation with and to make the decision with me as to whether or not they want to have gardasil. The ties to the pharma companies in this case are not irrelevant either. There have been cases of things going wrong with some girls in areas where this has been mandated (Australia comes to mind). Any drug has the potential for negative side effects. There have been many reports (although some feel they have been disproved – I’m unsure where I stand on it) of gardasil causing seizures and paralysis. I am not sure if I will recommend to my daughter that she get this vaccine when she gets older, but I do want it to be a choice that she and I and her doctor make, not something that is forced on her. You have made something into a black and white issue which is simply not as one dimensional as you would make it out to be. Oh yeah, and all those listed (Bauchmann, Gingrich, Perry) are nutbars who have no place making decisions for me and mine.

  10. Oh dear, on all of this, which is what I think every time the Gardasil vaccine comes up. I’m with Vanda, and everything she said.

    And as for Paul’s public health argument, if you believe that a vaccine is effective, then vaccinating the whole herd only makes sense to reduce the virus in the population. I hadn’t heard the argument that anal and penile cancers aren’t as common, which is likely true just because of the numbers. However, there are no screening programs for anal or penile cancer, so boys who get HPV are doomed — again, if you believe the assumptions out there re: HPV and Gardasil. All that aside, because this is a vaccine given to girl children to save them from heterosexual sex, negating the possibility that some children are boys who may grow up to be anal sex lovin’ men.

    The message to me is that girls are born to get the diseases the men give them, and there is a whole system in place to take care of that. Sorry, but it reminds me of the days when only female dogs got spayed.

  11. Anon,
    About: “There have been many reports (although some feel they have been disproved – I’m unsure where I stand on it) of gardasil causing seizures and paralysis.”

    Over 26 million doses of HPV vaccine have been administered in the US. The incidences of serious negative side effects that can be associated with the administration of the vaccine is about 1,200. Maybe that sounds like a lot but do the math. That’s 0.0046 per cent. That’s random chance. That’s coincidence. That may also be trying to find a bugaboo where none exists.

  12. Vanda and Carle,
    A few points…
    – “mandatory” is clearly a poor choice of words because you can always opt out of any vaccine you wish and let natural selection have its way. Maybe “strongly recommended” is a better word.

    – Let’s be clear on something: _I_ never said boys shouldn’t get this vaccine. Merck didn’t either. Public health officials who don’t want to pay for it did. Not me. And in the US and UK, boys can get the vaccine. I haven’t checked for Canada yet.

    – Saying a generation of women are shouldering the risks of this vaccine is assuming that there are significant risks associated with it. There seem to be none. And I’ve yet to read anything that suggests there are any red flags for serious risks. Your phrasing is a scare tactic.

    – No, HPV vaccines don’t stop all the HPV types that increase cervical cancer risks. I’ve read they stop about 70 per cent. (That’s pretty good. Actually, no, that’s excellent.) That’s why no one is saying women should stop getting exams and pap smears.

    – “lull women into a false sense of security.” You know the flip side of that argument is that we should keep cervical cancer around so as to keep women on their toes when they’re having sex.

  13. Carle,
    You know I love you but…

    “The message to me is that girls are born to get the diseases the men give them…”

    is very eloquent, a nice turn of phrase that sounds very convincing but it’s paranoid bollocks.

    I could just as easily write,

    “The message to me is that there are finally enough women in laboratories and in the upper levels of public health that girls are finally starting to get the protection from fucking cancer that they deserve.”

    Sorry guys. I don’t think we’re going to find common ground on this one. I hate fucking cancer so fucking much I’m not going to play the “let’s find a misogynist conspiracy” word game today.

  14. Okay.

    Paul: How important is the mandatory vaccination of HPV? Is it comparable to something like whooping cough, where elective vaccination has driven an increase in cases? Or does it work differently? Basically, would a voluntary vaccination regime be ineffective? How problematic is non-vaccination of males?

    Carle: That men are not vaccinated for HPV is not a reason to pull an effective health program. You have correctly identified something that is sexist and completely sucks ass tumours. I’m with you on that. But ending vaccination is a chucking-the-baby-with-the-bathwater approach. I are strong oppose.

    Vanda: Corporate interests are present throughout health care — why single out an effective vaccine? Also, I’m skeptical that vaccinations for HPV discourage other prevention regimes. Is vaccination being used politically to justify cutbacks to women’s health services? If so, that’s where you should direct your criticism. In any case, suggesting that vaccination is akin to mad-scientist experimentation (“entire generation of girls as guinea pigs”) seems reckless. Vaccination is an extremely safe and effective medical procedure. It seems to me like you’re arguing against it on liberal arts rather than scientific grounds.

    Finally, everyone: There’s a lot of assumptions in everything I just wrote about the science of vaccination. If anything I said is fundamentally corked, let me know.

  15. I guess I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of trusting that a vaccine is safe or even effective, without questioning anything. I am not saying that Bachmann is right or that gardasil itself is bad… just that looking down your nose at “anti-vaccination kooks” is a gross over-generalization. Some people have perfectly rational reasons for not wanting a particular vaccine. To me, being unquestioning is crazier.

  16. Argh, Paul, argh: I think the main (non-insane) criticism of the vaccine is that it’s expensive overkill driven by clever marketing, politics, cancer and virgin girls. HPV is mostly harmless, except when it isn’t; about 400 women die from cervical cancer each year. They die not because they weren’t vaccinated, but because for whatever reason, their cancer was missed by regular screening. There is no evidence yet that this death rate will be reduced: we don’t know if the vaccine lasts for the decades a woman will be exposed to HPV. The false sense of security issue is not small and also something that will be unknown, and make it harder for screening agencies to carry out their work. Critics like epidemiologist Dr. Abby Lippman argue that the money would have been better spent catching those cases that are already missed by screening programs until there is a vaccine that is more proven and worthy of such a huge public investment.

    And stopping 70 per cent of a virus that in the vast majority of cases the body’s immune system clears up on its own – isn’t all that excellent for that amount of money. I think what bugs me is the implication that it would stop 70 per cent of cancers, which it doesn’t. It does make otherwise thoughtful people go on the “Cancer! Bad!” bandwagon. Of course cancer is fucking bad. Of course a vaccine against cancer is good. This isn’t a vaccine against cancer.

    For the record, if I had kids I would get them vaccinated (especially boys, who have no screening programs) – it couldn’t hurt. I am against the way it’s been rolled out — if it’s a virus that everyone gets, then everyone should get the vaccine (provided, of course that it’s effective), and yes, we should pay for it. Unless an effective vaccine gets the whole population, it just ensures that the virus will keep going around.

    And I love you too.

  17. This debate about vaccinations is one I have been hearing a lot about since having my daughter 6-years ago, mainly regarding the supposed “proven” link to causing autism (which has since been rebunked when the former doctor who made this “discovery” was proven to have fudged his numbers, while basing his findings on a very small test group). I had my daughter vaccinated, as my mom had me vaccinated.

    Also, as someone who had gone to her doctor once a year for her annual pap and bloodwork, but who also had a cervical cancer scare, I will seriously look at having my daughter vaccinated for HPV. If it increases the chance that she will never have to face an abnormal pap test, then I am all for it. But of course I will remind her that having an annual pap test is crucial to any woman’s health after she becomes sexually active.

    I am just glad that I have some time before I make that decision, as it is always benficial to have data about a vaccine and its short and long term effects.

  18. And Steve: From a Maclean’s interview with Dr. Abby Lippman in 2007:

    “It’s very nice to have governments wanting to help women’s health – I’m all in favour of that. There’s no way I would object to that. [But] let’s do it right. This is the first of many vaccines that have come along, let’s not make a mistake. What are the goals of this? Because if we don’t have goals we won’t know if it has been successful. If the goal is to reduce cancer, then why are we not looking for the best vaccine that covers the most strains? If the goal is to prevent infections, then we should be giving better thought to immunizing boys and men. What’s the goal?”

    http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=20070802_164509_5908&page=2

  19. Anonymous: I dispute that reasons for opposing vaccines are “perfectly rational”. Vaccine opposition was fueled by one bogus, thoroughly-discredited study that claimed to link vaccination to autism. This isn’t science, it’s mysticism.

    As for Gardasil specifically, I’m now waiting for our writers to beat this debate down into mutually-agreed on facts.

  20. I’d like to add more to the discussion, but I think Carle just nailed it. But seeing as how I’m on lunch break and have some time to kill…

    HPV has many different strains and even the strains that do cause cancer don’t cause it in all cases. The average healthy person’s immune system usually fights it off. Unless it doesn’t, and that’s why we screen.

    There actually have been some side effects associated with Gardasil, most alarmingly autoimmune disorders and blood clots (in a minority of cases, but still).

    What’s infuriating about Rick Perry mandating (that’s the word he used, right?) the inoculation of all girls against HPV is that he’s simultaneously lining the pockets of a pharmaceutical company with the money of countless people who really should be covered by some kind of state-level health care but aren’t. And that’s how he likes it.

    As for the long-term efficacy, I guess we’ll find out when these kids are in their 30s and 40s. Or not.

    Paul, as for your “let’s find a misogynist conspiracy word game” dig; don’t get cute. This vaccine is being blatantly marketed at girls and that’s bullshit. And show me someone who does like cancer. Perhaps the guinea pig analogy was a bit much (perhaps), but I think you’d have to be blind to not see the ulterior motives afoot. Someone’s making a lot of money by scaring parents into thinking their little girls are going to get cancer some day, but they’re not disclosing all the information.

  21. I would argue that ASSUMING that ALL vaccines are safe and effective for EVERYONE seems more like mysticism than wanting to check into things before getting an injection. As far as that one “debunking”, I’ve personally seen a kid get sick the same day as an injection of the MMR vaccine, and then never act the same again…. and then be diagnosed with autism. Yes I know that this is a logical fallacy to presume that since A follows B, B caused A, but to make the observation and then discover that there are a TON of parents out there making the same claims, doesn’t that at least make you think “gee there MIGHT be something to this?” rather than just dismissing everyone as whackos? Especially when the vaccine contains mercury, which is known to be brain-toxic. When I first heard of this one I fully expected to dismiss it as hogwash, but the more I read about it the less clear things were, and the less sure I was that either side was really right. I am not anti-vaccination, I think vaccinations are a great innovation, but I don’t put blind faith in every vaccine either.

  22. Carle,

    If you had started there, we could have had a discussion about this subject. But frankly, I don’t trust the direction this thread’s been going. First we start with brain-toxic, girls being used as guinea pigs and girls being prepped to become receptacles for male disease. Now, after pooh-poohing public health officials for not vaccinating boys due to their cost-benefit analysis, you seem to be arguing that the vaccine shouldn’t be part of the public-health vaccination schedule for anyone because of a cost-benefit analysis. And, that, despite everything that went before in the thread, you’d vaccinate your own kids anyway.

    Seriously, what the fuck?

  23. Anon #24:

    I’ve personally seen a kid get sick the same day as an injection of the MMR vaccine, and then never act the same again…. and then be diagnosed with autism.

    I don’t have time for this so I’m just calling bullshit.

  24. Sorry, Paul, maybe I’m just cranky from too many hours in the stirrups. When there is equal vigour in assuring men get tested and treated for STIs, then we can talk, which will be never. And in this context of interminable tests and pap smears and fear, along comes Gardasil, another drug that catches a bad sex thing long after it’s wound up in a woman’s body.

    It’s not black and white, like other vaccines that target a specific thing in a population. You can’t use the population health argument with this one, because only half the population is getting the vaccination in the first place. I get miffed that Gardasil is used either by the right or the left. Would I get my kids vaccinated? Probably yes. Would I trust that it worked? Meh. Do I think there should be a massive campaign aimed only at girls and sold as a much bigger population health measure than it is? No. I would rather see that money going into more research into vaccines, and tighter screening and tracking programs.

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