Tag: anti vaxxers
How RFK Junior's Farcical Campaign Betrays The Kennedy Legacy

How RFK Junior's Farcical Campaign Betrays The Kennedy Legacy

When a neophyte named Edward Moore Kennedy first ran for the Senate in 1962 at barely 30 years old, his primary opponent delivered a debate quip that still echoes.

"If your name were Edward Moore," cracked Ed McCormack, then Massachusetts attorney general, "your candidacy would be a joke." Ted Kennedy won that primary, ascended to the Senate, and then spent a lifetime winning over skeptics with hard work and liberal commitment.

But that harsh zinger could score a bullseye on a different target now: Uncle Teddy's errant nephew Robert Francis Kennedy Jr., the grifting anti-vax lawyer and conspiracy monger whose campaign for president of the United States should be a joke — and certainly would be if his name were merely Robert Francis.

The difference is that RFK Jr., seeking public office for the first time, isn't 30. He is 70, a senior citizen, with a long and checkered record whose bright spots are overshadowed by menacing darkness. Far from upholding the values his family represents or the legacy of his martyred father and uncle, Bobby Jr. is an opportunist whose ambition, greed, dishonesty and arrogance have led him far astray.

There was a time many years ago when, as an environmental lawyer, Kennedy did useful work — usually under the tutelage of wiser heads — after he emerged from the drug addiction that followed his father's murder. At one point, I even wrote an admiring magazine profile of him.

But not too many years later, Bobby began the deceptive anti-vaccine campaign that has marked his moral and intellectual decline ever since. Having authored articles claiming childhood vaccines cause autism, he clung to their refuted arguments and falsified data long after the magazines were forced to withdraw them. He insists those lies are true to this day — and the anti-vax propaganda from which he profits is leaving American kids vulnerable to disease.

How would his late uncle John F. Kennedy, whose memory he so often invokes in his current campaign, react to what Bobby has done? In 1961, President Kennedy worried that resistance to the polio vaccine, which was still rather new, meant millions of schoolchildren might contract that deadly and crippling virus.

At a press conference that April, the president said: "I hope that the renewed drive this spring and summer to provide vaccination for all Americans, and particularly those who are young, will have the wholehearted support of every parent in America."

The following year, JFK pushed through the Vaccination Assistance Act, which financed immunization drives in every state for polio, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. That massive campaign established the federal government as the central authority in establishing and coordinating immunization policy for the nation — a role Robert Kennedy Jr. has persistently sought to undermine or even abolish, at potentially enormous cost.

Bobby's betrayal of his family goes further with every step he takes in this campaign, and in every direction. JFK and RFK were both known for surrounding themselves with advisers whose intelligence and experience drew admiration; Bobby is drawn to intellectually null sycophants and boobs, including a large contingent of crooks like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, as well as the anti-vax scammers, some of whom are outright fascists. These are people his father and uncle would have privately mocked and publicly shunned.

Even worse, Bobby has become a shill for Russian propaganda and an opponent of American military aid to Ukraine's besieged democracy. We don't have to wonder what his uncle would have said, because history tells us.

In his inaugural address, JFK uttered this indelible sentence: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." Liberty doesn't mean surrendering to Putin and abandoning our allies.

Lately, Bobby has been sucking up to the Libertarian Party, whose platform would tear down all the achievements of his father and both of his uncles in civil rights, education, health care, environmental protection, food security and a score of essential programs. He wants their ballot line, and he is willing to promote their destructive ideology for his own benefit.

In this campaign, he has reversed the old epigram about history and its personages. In the first act, he presents a farce — and in the second act, should he help to elect Donald Trump, he will bring forth a tragedy.

Joe Conason is founder and editor-in-chief of The National Memo. He is also editor-at-large of Type Investigations, a nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom formerly known as The Investigative Fund, and a senior fellow at Type Media Center.

How The Republican Party Endangers The Health Of American Kids

How The Republican Party Endangers The Health Of American Kids

When it comes to children’s health, there are two terrifying headlines this week. The Washington Post reports that “CDC data shows highest level yet of vaccine exemptions for kindergartners.” The New York Times says, “At Least 2 Million Children Have Lost Medicaid Insurance This Year.” These interlinking stories are both the results of decisions by Republicans to put MAGA anti-vaccine politics above children.

Vaccination refusal for kindergarteners increased from 2.6 percent during the 2021-2022 school year to three percent in 2022-2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in its most recent review of vaccination records. Every state and Washington, D.C., requires proof of vaccination for measles, whooping cough, and polio at a minimum. Every state allows exemptions for health reasons, but an increasing number of states allow them on religious or “philosophical” grounds.

No, it’s not just MAGA parents who refuse to participate responsibly in civil society by protecting their and other children. But the big increase, according to a December 2022 survey from Kaiser Family Foundation, is among Republicans. “Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, there has been a 24 percentage-point increase in the share” of people who say “parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their school-age children, even if this creates health risks for others.” That’s an increase from 20% in 2019—before the pandemic and MAGA vaccine hysteria—to 44 percent in 2022.

Plenty of those kids and their school and playmates who either aren’t vaccinated or are put at greater risk by being exposed to unvaxxed kids don’t have health insurance anymore since pandemic-era expansions ended; more than 2 million of their policies, as the Times reports. It’s not clear how many have found coverage from other sources, Medicaid expert Joan Alker told the Times. She estimates that there are at least 1 million children without coverage.

That information comes, again, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been following the “unwinding” of Medicaid coverage since the pandemic expansion of the program expired. That’s just among the 21 states that report the data on who has been kicked off the program by age.

“As of November 8, 2023, at least 2,006,000 children had been disenrolled out of 5,238,000 total disenrollments in the 21 states” KFF reports. Here’s the chart of those 21 states. It’s pretty clear that some of the reddest states have been the most effective in taking health care away from children.

Bar chart showing percentage of children dropped from Medicaid in 21 states reporting that data.

The Medicaid unwinding process has been complicated and difficult for most states. Through the pandemic, Medicaid enrollees didn’t have to continuously prove their eligibility for benefits and 21.2 million people, including children, were added to the program during the pandemic. Some states (mostly the blue ones) worked hard to reach out to enrollees to explain to them how to keep their families covered. And some states (lots of the red ones) were less proactive in helping their citizens.

Both issues are political, and the results are children subject to harm. Kicking kids off of Medicaid and promoting the idea that vaccinations are dangerous and that public health isn’t as important as MAGA beliefs are part and parcel of the Republican ideology these days. That would be the self-proclaimed “party of life,” forcing children to be born so that they can then be neglected and out-and-out harmed by Republican policies.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Alex Jones Dumps Trump For DeSantis: ‘We Have Someone Way Better’

Alex Jones Dumps Trump For DeSantis: ‘We Have Someone Way Better’

Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has rescinded his support for former President Donald Trump’s expected 2024 bid for the White House and thrown his support behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Jones, a once-passionate advocate of “Stop the Steal”, admitted on his podcast this week that he had “pigheadedly” supported Trump for fear of Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden becoming president — a decision he said had earned him persecution.

The far-right host told his audience that he had grievances with Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration mid-pandemic initiative geared toward expediting the production of Covid-19 vaccines — but supported him anyway.

“I've been persecuted like nothing in my life for supporting [Trump], and that made me kind of pigheadedly support him a few years ago even though I disagreed with his Warp Speed,” Jones said.

An outspoken anti-vaxxer, Jones declared his support for “way better” DeSantis, who recently appointed a state surgeon general who has publicly questioned the effectiveness of the Covid vaccines.

Last year, Jones called Trump a “dumbass” for advocating Covid vaccination, said he wished he never met the ex-president, and threatened to “dish the dirt” on him for publicly supporting vaccination against Covid,” per The Daily Beast.

"This is what Trump should be like. And I've been hammering this point, and he's doing it now. And we have someone who is better than Trump. Way better than Trump," Jones said, suggesting that the ex-president emulate DeSantis.

“But that said, I am supporting DeSantis. DeSantis is just gone from being awesome to being unbelievably good ... He's getting red-pilled more and more each day ... I'm a DeSantis guy,” Jones announced.

He also insisted that he had seen “real sincerity” in DeSantis’ eyes when he reviewed footage of the governor.

“I don't just watch a man's actions, as Christ said. Judge a tree by its fruits. I can also look in his eyes on HD video and I see the real sincerity,” Jones told his audience.

Neither Trump nor DeSantis has announced their intention to run for president in 2024, despite outdoing each other on recent hypothetical conservative polling for Republican presidential candidates in 2024.

Jones’s once fervent support for Trump saw the conservative podcast host peddle the Big Lie — that widespread election fraud had cost Trump the election — and make an appearance at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The Justice Department has reportedly probed Jones’s role in the January 6 insurrection, and the House Select Committee, the bipartisan congressional panel investigating the January 6 attack, subpoenaed Jones last November. The select committee received his text messages, which were leaked accidentally during the latest Sandy Hook trial.

Jones has wavered in his support for Trump before. Last month, he called firebrand Trump-supporting Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene “smarter” than Trump and DeSantis and asked the congresswoman to run for president.

Early this month, Jones was ordered to pay $49.3 million to the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre after a Texas jury found him liable for defamation in a default judgment issued by District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble for calling the tragedy a “hoax” and smearing the victims’ families.

Right-Wing ‘Pastor’ Wants To Hang Obama Over Covid-19

Right-Wing ‘Pastor’ Wants To Hang Obama Over Covid-19

Shane Vaughn, a right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist who still believes that ex-President Donald Trump will be reinstated, has blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on former President Barack Obama.

Vaughn, the founder of First Harvest Ministries in Waveland, Mississippi, has a history of making baseless assertions about the coronavirus. Last December, he proclaimed that wearing a mask was promoting the "spirit of the antichrist" and that the pathogen was sent by God as punishment for Americans' supposed belief in the supernatural. He urged his followers to "get a shot of faith" instead of the vaccine and said that God told him that "miracles are attracted by faith, not mask."

His latest tantrum was on par.

In a live stream entitled Obama's Bloody Footprints that was posted to Twitter on March 28th, Vaughn falsely accused Obama and Dr. Anthony Fauci of "financing communist China's gain-of-function research" – a debunked conspiracy theory that SARS-COV-2 was engineered in a research lab in Wuhan and then deliberately released into the human population.

He then declared that Fauci, then-National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, and their colleagues committed "treason" and should be "hung from the gallows" for their alleged crimes against the American people.

"The lengths that Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci went to to convince people that COVID-19 originated naturally; and that these blanket lockdowns were necessary; and to silence dissenting voices from prominent scientists prove that they were more interested in hiding their role in financing communist China's gain-of-function research than they were in helping their nation," Vaughn growled.

"They are treasonous," he continued. "They should be hanged on the first gallows. They turned on their nation to hide their crime. They are guilty of treason."

Watch the excerpt below via Right Wing Watch:

Twitter users accused Vaughn of racist hate speech for calling for the murder of the first Black president.

Some people want the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into Vaughn's comments, as they may constitute a crime.

Vaughn was reminded that Trump, not Obama, was the commander in chief when COVID-19 first broke out. He too lied about the severity of the crisis, peddled fake cures and treatments, and accused China of failing to protect the United States. Under his watch, 700,000 Americans perished.

The Twitterverse also pointed out that Vaughn himself is a convicted felon, having served three years in prison for insurance and bank fraud.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet