Antivaccine nonsense Autism Medicine Politics

Minnesota State Senator Jim Abeler: Stealth antivaccine advocate?

Recently, Sen. Jim Abeler of Minnesota created the MN Autism Council, an advisory panel tasked with advising the legislature on autism policy. A closer look at the story reveals that Sen. Abeler is a chiropractor, two of the members are antivaxers, and one of them was a founding member tasked with forming the council. This is how antivaccine activism is disguised as autism advocacy.

Last week, the World Health Organization included vaccine hesitancy on its list of top ten global health threats for 2019. In his discussion of the issue, Steve Novella recounted a depressing litany of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases all over the world, particularly in Europe, to which vaccine hesitancy and the antivaccine movement have been major contributors. Thus far in the US, we’ve avoided the massive outbreaks of measles that are continuing in Europe and Israel, for instance. That’s not to say that we don’t have our own outbreaks. Currently, there are measles outbreaks in New York City in ultra-Orthodox Jewish populations and Clark County, Washington (just across the Columbia River from Portland). A couple of years ago, antivaxers contributed directly to a large measles outbreak among the Somali immigrant population in Minnesota. Basically, local antivaccine groups laying the groundwork by taking advantage of an observation that there appeared to be a higher prevalence of autism among the children of Somali immigrants by promoting Andrew Wakefield’s discredited and fraudulent research linking the MMR vaccine to autism. As a result, uptake of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine plummeted. Basically, antivaxers targeted a vulnerable community—repeatedly—with antivaccine propaganda. Indeed, Andrew Wakefield himself even paid Minnesota a visit in 2010. Even as the outbreak was raging, antivaxers doubled down, sending Mark Blaxill there to tell the Somalis, in essence, not to listen to the public health authorities desperately trying to contain the outbreak. In light of that recent history, it was particularly disturbing to see what was reported in Minnesota last month, courtesy of Minnesota State Senator Jim Abeler:

Autism activists are concerned that the appointment of vaccine skeptics to a newly formed state council gives credibility to views the state has struggled to dispel.

The MN Autism Council was formed last fall by Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, to discuss autism and advise the Legislature on public policy.

Abeler said he wants the group to represent diverse viewpoints and said it will be focused on issues like housing, employment and education, not vaccines.

First of all, it is very common for antivaxers who believe against all evidence that vaccines cause autism to cloak their true nature in autism advocacy, at least for purposes of appearing “respectable” and insinuating themselves into advisory committees for government and nonprofits. In fairness, some of them actually do autism advocacy work because many of them became antivaxers after having a child diagnosed with autism. The problem is that these same antivaxers use their autism advocacy to promote their antivaccine views as well. Indeed, an unfortunate problem with autism advocacy in the age of Wakefield is that autism advocacy is all too often tainted with antivaccine views. Some autism advocacy groups, like Autism Speaks, have tried to have it both ways, doing a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” in their stances on vaccines and autism.

So who is Sen. Abeler, and who are the antivaxers now serving on the Minnesota Autism Council? Well, surprise, surprise, Jim Abeler is a chiropractor, or, as I like to say, a substandard physical therapist with delusions of grandeur. His clinic website features the usual chiropractic quackery about subluxations and spinal manipulation, but also includes quackery for ADHD, colic, ear infections, pregnancy, and chiropractic care for children. It describes Abeler thusly:

His technique includes a gentle approach to spinal care utilizing the use of an Activator for adjusting, kinesiology, spinal and muscular balancing, nutritional advice and a strong emphasis on personal responsibility on the part of the patient. In addition, Dr. Abeler looks for underlying causes of any disturbance or disruption (which may or may not be causing symptoms at the time) and make whatever interventions and lifestyle adjustments that would optimize the conditions for normal function.

In other words, the usual “we treat the underlying causes” nonsense favored by alternative medicine practitioners everywhere.

Elsewhere on Abeler’s website, we find a blog post on how chiropractic can “boost your immunity”:

Chiropractic adjustments can remove misalignments, allowing the nerves in your spine to operate with less interference. When the brain and nervous system are able to communicate effectively your immune system is back running at full capacity. Anoka chiropractic doctors may also reduce your back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, headaches, and shoulder pain so you can function in your day-to-day life more efficiently. While chiropractic treatment can influence your immune system directly, it can also heal your body so you are in a position to be more active.

And for children:

Kids seem to be at the mercy of just about every type of virus and illness out there and childhood immunity is always a hot topic of conversation. Things like ear infections, colds, allergies, and tonsillitis can cause a lot of discomfort and become serious in some cases. Just as with adults, children can receive chiropractic treatment that will ease tension on nerves and improve their immune response.

Interestingly, even doing Google Advanced Searches, I was unable to find any posts on vaccines on Jim Abeler’s website. Ditto when I searched for the word “autism”. However, there are strong reasons to suspect nonetheless that Sen. Abeler is antivaccine. The first of these is that he’s a chiropractor, and chiropractic as a “profession” is rife with antivaccine views, with many, if not most, chiropractors discouraging vaccination in favor of their quackery. Chiropractic is like naturopathy in that respect, full of antivaccine pseudoscience. Second, he chose two prominent antivaxers to be on the panel, Wayne Rohde, co-founder of the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota, one of the groups involved in promoting antivaccine views among the Somali immigrants in its state, and Patti Carroll, who was involved with organizing antivaccine outreach in the Minnesota Somali community. Rohde is also an executive for Health Choice, a group that believes that most chronic health issues in children are due to “unhealthy choices,” including “industrial processed foods, side effects of vaccine choices, and other environmental and lifestyle factors.” If you check out the Vaccine Safety Council’s website, you’ll find it packed with the usual antivaccine talking points:


  • We demand full disclosure by government and health officials of both the risks and benefits of vaccines.
  • We support unbiased safety studies for every vaccine and every combination of vaccines the government recommends.
  • We provide education on dishonest representation, legal issues, parental choice, and true informed consent.
  • We advocate for complete transparency by state and federal officials in vaccine law and policy decisions.
  • We promote consumer safety by calling for vaccines free from mercury, aluminum and other dangerous ingredients.
  • We work to preserve individual freedoms by opposing mandatory vaccination.

Note the antivaccine dog whistles, such as “unbiased safety studies” (translation: any study not run by big pharma or the government or academic institutions), “full disclosure” of “risks and benefits” (in reality, vastly inflating the risks and downplaying the benefits of vaccination), the promotion of vaccines free from “mercury, aluminum, and other dangerous ingredients” (mercury isn’t in childhood vaccines anymore and haven’t been for over 16 years, and none of the other ingredients in vaccines are dangerous at the doses used), and, of course, the “vaccine freedom” gambit. Elsewhere on the website, you can find videos by antivaxers such as the producer of the antivaccine propaganda film disguised as a documentary VAXXED, Del Bigtree, along with links to VAXXED itself and a host of other antivaccine propaganda videos. The reading list on the website includes the usual list of antivaccine books, and the “research” section of the website includes Pubmed links to studies frequently misinterpreted as supporting antivaccine views or horrible studies by antivaxers themselves.

Amusingly, Kim Stagliano over at the antivaccine blog Age of Autism is crying “Help, help, I’m being repressed!” as antivaxers are wont to do whenever they are called out by the press:

Wayne Rohde has written a carefully researched book on The Vaccine Court that every American should read. He moved to Minnesota from Oklahoma to help his son. His son Nick was the namesake of “Nicki’s Law” which in 2008, fought for medical coverage for autism in Oklahoma. Monday (May 19), two newspapers – both in predominantly Republican communities – published editorials in support of “Nick’s Law,” a measure by Senator Jay Paul Gumm that would require health insurance policies cover diagnosis and treatment for autistic children. Patti Carroll has worked tooth and nail for ALL people with autism in Minnesota and also to protect those not “yet” touched. She was especially involved in helping the immigrant Somali population as they faced autism for the very first time, once here in America. To offend them by writing them off as mere “antivaxxers” is an insult in the extreme.

It is all very well and good that Rohde fought to pass Nick’s Law (which ultimately did not pass, from what I gather), but it is not well and good that he now fights in Minnesota to demonize vaccines. As for Patti Carroll, I can’t help but note that the link chosen by Stagliano to represent the “good” she did for the Somali immigrant community in Minnesota was to a post entitled “MN Department of Public Health Coerces Somali Families into MMR Vaccine“, with an image proclaiming “the bully vaccine.” Basically, it’s a blog post by Patti Carroll about how she was trying to counter the MN Department of Public Health’s efforts to persuade Somalis to vaccinate their children. If you want an example of how antivaxers equate autism advocacy with their antivaccine activism, I can’t think of a better example! Stagliano and Carroll actually thought Carroll was doing good by fueling a measles outbreak by persuading a vulnerable population that vaccines cause autism and that they should therefore not vaccinate their children against a highly contagious disease.

Which leads us to Stagliano’s usual drama:

We are the new N word. We are the new R word. I was supposed to speak at an autism school somewhere in the United States in 2 weeks. I was hired as keynote speaker for their annual fund raiser. Some parents at this fine private school caught wind that “KIM ROSSI OH YOU MEAN STAGLIANO THE ANTIVAXXER” is being hired and guess what? They got me FIRED from the job. They cancelled my signed contract. I was really looking forward to meeting a new group and sharing my experiences by using my humor to make them laugh.

To which I say: Good for those parents! Well done! As for Stagliano, her comparison of the criticism and deserved ostracism that antivaxers experience to the racism and persecution that black people have suffered over centuries in this country is so overwrought and off-base as to be deeply offensive. I suppose I should be grateful that she didn’t compare herself to Jews during the Holocaust as well, because other antivaxers have done just that.

Getting back to Wayne Rhode, we see in an article in The Daily Beast that he invokes exactly the same persecution complex, just without the offensive analogies:

Abeler, who believes doctors should tell parents the “pluses and minuses of vaccines,” appointed anti-vaxxer Wayne Rohde, co-founder of the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota, a group that is skeptical of vaccines, and Patti Carroll, who was involved with organizing anti-vaccine outreach in the Minnesota Somali community.

Rohde refutes the label of “anti-vaxxer.” “Those who question vaccine safety are quickly marginalized as saying ‘We’re anti-vax,’” Rohde told the Star Tribune.

No, Rohde is called an antivaxer because that’s what he has demonstrated himself to be, through a long history of words and actions. He’s even written an antivaccine book, The Vaccine Court: The Dark Truth of America’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, full of misinformation about and mischaracterizations of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. I can tell just from the blurbs that it includes the same sorts of misinformation and half-truths that the Canary Party, an antivaccine group associated with Jennifer Larson of the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota, has been pushing for at least six or seven years now.

Now, let’s look a bit at Abeler’s history with Rhodes and Carroll:

You can read the whole post on Facebook if you like, but I’ll quote relevant passages:

In spring 2018, Senator Jim Abeler SD 35 proposed legislastion [sic] for a statewide autism registry in Minnesota.

Following public outcry, particularly from the #actuallyautistic and greater disability justice community, the proposed legislation was pulled. After a community meeting, Sen. Abeler appointed two parent advocates, Jean Bender and Wayne Rhode, to design a new task force-type group for the state of MN. Dr. Sheryl Grassie, executive director of the MN Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, volunteered to contribute as well. The Autism Spectrum Planning Group was formed.

It is very telling that Abeler picked an antivaxer as one of three key people who set up this task force! As for the others, Dr. Grassie seems legit, and Jean Bender is a board member for the Autism Society of Minnesota. That they would work with an antivaccine activist like Wayne Rhode does not speak well of them, however. It’s a deal with the devil that demands too much.

Of course, Abeler denies that vaccines will be an issue:

Abeler told the Daily Beast that the goal of the council is “to address the present and future needs for education, employment, housing, transportation and independent living in the autism community.” He added, “There is no plan or intention of taking any positions about vaccines.”

Rohde told the Star Tribune that while he does support parents’ rights not to vaccinate, “we’re not about causation within the council. The council is all about how to deal and help those who are afflicted, and their families and those who provide services.” Rohde has a son on the autism spectrum.

Of course, I don’t believe this for one second. Here’s why. Note the part about how the council is allegedly “all about how to deal and help those who are afflicted.” That’s basically code for adding autism quackery to the mix of “how to help” autistic people, and most autism quackery is based on pseudoscience claiming that vaccines cause autism. Don’t believe me? Think I’m reading too much into this phrase because I’ve been too close to the issue for too long, rather than that I know antivaccine code phrases? Well consider this.

As mentioned above, the original idea for the panel was the Autism Spectrum Planning Group and was born in the wake of the outcry over legislation that Sen. Abeler had introduced, SD 35, which would have created a statewide autism registry in Minnesota. Thus, the autism task force ultimately formed was, in essence, Plan B. However, that didn’t stop Abeler from going to Plan C when he didn’t like how the task force was turning out. After months of planning by a group that included autistic people, Abeler did this:

Over approximately four months, The ASPG met and developed a mission statement, a purpose statement, a group structure [sic], representation priorities, and a proposed list of members for The Minnesota Autism Council. The first meeting of the council was scheduled for November 8th, 2018.

Recently, two members of the group—Wayne Rhode and Dr. Sheryl Grassie, both original members—met privately with Sen. Abeler. As a result of that meeting, Sen Abeler scrapped both The ASPG and our progress. He then created a new work group, appointed leadership that includes no autistic members, and instructed them to form a council that does not reflect the priorities the ASPG spent four months identifying. The ASPG was not consulted or informed prior to Sen. Abeler’s announcement of these changes during the commitee [sic] hearing on 10/17/2018.

It is vital to note two things:

  1. These changes remove all autistic voices from the leadership team that will design and implement The Minnesota Autism Council.
  2. These changes implicitly invite multiple specific organizations to the table that prioritize treating and/or curing autism. These organizations were not included in the proposed membership developed by The ASPG.

Sen. Abeler is a chiropractor. Although he doesn’t mention autism on his website, it would not surprise me in the least if he treats autistic children, trying to “cure” them with adjustments. He has an autistic child. He knows antivaxers and thinks enough of them to appoint two of them to an important state council to advise the government on priorities and policies to help autistic people. If Sen. Abeler is not antivaccine (which, the more I read about him, the more I doubt), he’s at the very least what I like to call antivaccine-adjacent.

The pro-vaccine members of the panel are also laboring under this delusion:

“If their total focus was to come up with a recommendation related to vaccination, yes, it might give me pause,” she said. “But on the other hand, it seems this group is focusing more on how they can support families.”

Sonya Emerick, who is involved with the MN Autism Council, said she is worried about having vaccine skeptics in the group. But she wants to focus on the work, rather than lingering on that. If a group with such a wide range of opinions can move forward with shared policy priorities, she said it could have major effects on Minnesotans.

Sure, it will likely be this way in the beginning. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about antivaxers, it’s that they can’t keep their antivaccine pseudoscience from infecting everything they do, particularly when it comes to autism advocacy. Minnesota autism advocates know this:

Idil Abdull, a longtime autism advocate at the Capitol, was part of the previous task force and clashed with some members of the group. She is not part of Abeler’s committee, but has aired concerns with it.

“The fact that he appointed so many people from the anti-vaccine community who will try to divide us is heartbreaking,” Abdull said.

And that is exactly what will happen. It might not happen right away. Antivaxers can “play nice” for a while. However, eventually, their pseudoscientific beliefs will infect the deliberations. For example, it would not in the least bit surprise me if the antivaxers on the panel start advocating that the state support “autism biomed” quackery for autistic children or promote funding for alternative medicine practitioners like naturopaths. Belief in such quackery often goes hand-in-hand with the belief that vaccines cause autism, and it’s quite possible to promote antivaccine beliefs without explicitly mentioning vaccines. Promoting autism biomed quackery is one way to do that. Antivaxers know this, which is why they lobby so hard to attach themselves to government autism advocacy and advisory panels, even when the mission of the panel does not include childhood vaccination.

This is why antivaxers should never be on government panels. Such panels should indeed include people with a diversity of backgrounds, beliefs, and opinions, but it is essential not to think that “diversity” must mean including people with dangerous pseudoscientific beliefs. That, unfortunately, is exactly what Sen. Abeler and Minnesota have done. Meanwhile, in other states, antivaccine legislators are doing their best to make measles great again.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

93 replies on “Minnesota State Senator Jim Abeler: Stealth antivaccine advocate?”

These changes remove all autistic voices from the leadership team that will design and implement The Minnesota Autism Council.

There needs to be pushback against this. Imagine if a working committee for wheelchair users had no paraplegic or quadriplegic members. Or if an organisation to fight racism had no minority members. There would be an outcry.
Removing all autistic voices also gives the lie to Abeler’s denials about being antivaxx.

“strong emphasis on personal responsibility” = it’s your fault if it doesn’t work.

So a group which included autistics came up with a plan and priorities. An antivaccine activist and one other person we do no know didn’t like their results and complained to Abeler, and because of their complaints Abeler scuttled the representative group and created another, with no autistic adults and with two antivaccine activists.

Where are the other legislators? This should viewed with suspicion and any recommendations by such a group approached with extreme skepticism. Of course, this can very well undermine the ability of the new group to do even helpful things for people with autism, but given Abeler’s problematic actions, it can’t be uncritically trusted.

“Where are the other legislators?” Well, on actually obscuring that issue, the article in the Strib would fail Journ 101 if I was the instructor:” The MN Autism Council was formed last fall by Sen. Jim Abeler…” How does one Senator “form” an official council for the whole state? . I tried to dig a bit deeper, and found this:

The Minnesota State Senate recently announced it is launching a Minnesota Autism Council group that will work to improve services and opportunities for Minnesotans with autism. According to statements from Senator Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, the state is striving to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism, particularly by providing individualized educational opportunities for children with autism. Senator Abeler is the chairman for the state Senate’s Human Services Reform Committee, which will be determining the Minnesota Autism Council group’s policies going forward…

It seems, then, that the new council was proposed by Abeler, advanced by his committee, and then approved by the Senate as a whole. The MN Senate was and is in Republican control. Abeler was elected to the Senate in a special election in 2016. So he hasn’t even been there a full term. My point: this isn’t just about him, but the state party. The MN GOP leadership put a first-term chiropractor Senator in charge of the Senate’s Human Services Reform Committee, and has rubber-stamped his wolf-in-sheeps-clothing agenda. While Abelar doesn’t have Senate seniority, he’s not an unknown quantity to his party. He was in the MN House for 16 years before moving up to the Senate, and he, “served as chair of the Health Policy and Finance Subcommittee for the Health Care Cost Containment Division during the 2005 to 2006 biennium.” [More right-wing-ideological fun: he founded a Charter School!]

IDK what, if any pushback this proposal received from the Dems in the minority. I’d guess not much, given how it was framed and how many other issues of undoing old GOP mischief or blocking more obvious new proposals would be on their agenda. I also don’t know why the GOP has given an anti-vax sympathizer a position of authority in a relevant committee. I don’t think TPTB are necessarily “antivaccine-adjacent”. My guess would be they’re trying to show some love to a well-heeled anti-vax donor or two (e.g. someone like Jennifer Larsen).

Orac, someone once said to you:

“I just came here to show my support for The arguments there are intelligently presented and backed-up by published studies. I challenge anyone here to find fault with that site.”

To which you responded:

“Be careful what you wish for…”

I was just wondering if you ever granted that “wish”. And if so, please provide the link.

This is why antivaxers should never be on government panels.

This is precisely why they abhor being called anti-vaxxers; it (rightfully) deligitimises their ideas and they crave legitimacy hence the re-branding to “vaccine safety advocates” or “health freedom activists”.

Anoka chiropractic doctors may also…..

They are DC’s–doctors of chiropractic (whatever that means), NOT chiropractic “doctors”. Another twisting of words to pretend you are a doctor in the sense of medical doctor.

Ugh.This whole thing is just creepy. This DC and his “panel” are taking advantage of people who don’t know most of what is presented here. It is the inevitable result of the decades long propaganda war on expertise (which has been made much easier by the internet).

1) “Stealth advocate” antivaxer
2) “Both ways” antivaxer
3) “Nudge, nudge, wink, wink” antivaxer
4) “Play nice” antivaxer
5) “Vaccine hesitant” antivaxer
6) “Vaccine safety” antivaxer
7) Chiropractic antivaxer
8) Legislative antivaxer
9) “Health freedom” antivaxer
10) “Autism biomed” antivaxer
11) “Vaccine freedom” antivaxer
12) “Plan C” antivaxer
13) “Anti-vaccine adjacent” antivaxer
14) “The bully vaccine” antivaxer
15) “Friend, of a friend, of a friend” antivaxer

Q. Again, how is “antivaxer’ defined.

A person who opposes vaccines.

I realise that there are particular situations when certain people cannot be vaccinated for scientifically valid reasons such as undergoing chemotherapy, having an immunological issues, real allergies etc.: these are small numbers, not trumped up excuses such as those MJD and other anti-vaxxers throw around haphazardly.

“…not trumped up excuses such as those MJD and other anti-vaxxers throw around haphazardly,” writes Denice Walter.

MJD says, “Having the CDC as a respectable partner, when it comes to vaccine safety, is excuse-resistant.”

There isn’t an issue anymore when it comes to the flu vaccine and latex. This wouldn’t have been possible without Denice Walter, RI, Orac’s minions, and especially Orac. THANK YOU!

@ Denice Walter,

Is the word “anti-vaxxers” the correct spelling? Orac spells it “antivaxers.”

Q. What do you get when you add a hyphen and the letter “x” to the word “antivaxer.”

A. Haphazard spelling

MJD says,

Don’t ever go away, Denice Walter (Minion #1).

@ MJD:

Sorry to tell you but an internet search shows both variants being used so there’s nothing ‘haphazard’ about it.
In fact, it may inform the less literate amongst us that it isn’t pronounced in a way so as to rhyme with “fakes”.
Plus it looks better on the page.

No one is “Minion #1” : we are equals.

Is Abeler an Enabler?**

The Antivaxxer formerly known as Stagliano is now using Rossi most of the time whilst carping about her divorce. Her views are even amplified at @ KimRossi 1111***. She especially likes to claim membership in MeToo because ” all women should be heard”.

** Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
*** 1111 is an “angel number” – if you see it on a clock it means that angels are looking on or some other poppycock.

The Antivaxxer formerly known as Stagliano is now using Rossi most of the time whilst carping about her divorce.

Imagine my complete lack of surprise.

Patti Carroll has worked tooth and nail for ALL people with autism in Minnesota and also to protect those not “yet” touched.

One doesn’t work “tooth and nail”, one fights tooth and nail. Add common English language idioms to the list of things that anti-vaxxers don’t understand.

One doesn’t work “tooth and nail”

You clearly haven’t worked in a cat shelter.

Hilarious but true.

I just learned that cats’ nails can be an expensive proposition: my cousin adopted a black cat with black nails – being less experienced with cats, she couldn’t see the “safe area” to trim and has to take the creature to a groomer monthly: I said that there HAS to be a cheaper method perhaps by measuring.

I said that there HAS to be a cheaper method

I believe the name for this is “leaving them alone.” Don’t know how the little rubber things perform, if it’s a furniture issue or some such.

It’s not a furniture issue AFAIK but she isn’t used to cats.

Personally, I cut cats’ claws whenever they get caught in furniture/ drapes and scream a lot.

One can make matters worse by dremelling them altho some cats will tolerate that. You can see where the nail extends off the quick and standard pet nail trimmers (when used properly) have a buffer that will allow you to cut the nails without hitting the quick.

Narad, “soft paws” are rather interesting as you may end up with severe lacerations just trying to get the damn things on and then you will invariably find them all over your house or embedded in your furniture. Yet for some, they work well.

Personally, I cut cats’ claws whenever they get caught in furniture/ drapes and scream a lot.

I would take this as a sign that the claws aren’t sharp enough. There are a couple in the gulag who start making bread in their beds but wind up getting hooked. They’re old beds. Not everyone takes kindly to being manually unstuck, as well.

Interesting. My mom says she used to trim my cat’s nails back before I was staying here and he had moved himself in, both because of furniture scratching and because of general pokiness. (She doesn’t care about pokiness anymore because Chicken never snuggles her now, he is my boy, and she wasn’t big on it in the first place.)

I just leave his claws alone now, there’s no real problem. He doesn’t poke me much when he’s cuddling, and there’s not much in my room for him to destroy. When I’m home alone and he’s in the living room with me, I just put blankets over the leather foot stools; I figure the sides of the couch can withstand the occasional scratching.

I always clipped the nails of my own cats. I don’t like to try it with my dad’s cat, though perhaps I have to. My dad used to let the vet clip her nails at every visit but lately some of the nails have grown into the paws. The cat is old and doesn’t scratch much, so to prevent the nails for growing to long, they have to be clipped more often and I don’t really like to travel a lot with the cat with public transport. I don’t have a car and my dad doesn’t have a car as well. Besides he is 90, so not really able to take the cat to the vet on his own.

My dad used to let the vet clip her nails at every visit

That reminds me of one time that a vet at the local practice tried to trim the nails on my first cat, Beulah, over my objections. He was one tough cat (still went down two flights of stairs to hunt giant noisy bugs after he had gone blind from a retinal detachment), and this did not end well. Nor did that vet’s tenure with the practice.

I turned up at work after a few days off to have several people ask me, discreetly, if I was OK, because they thought I’d been self-harming. I explained that no, I’d been giving a flea treatment to a cat.

I trim my cat’s nails and he tolerates it just fine. This is for my safety, mainly, because he likes to hide under furniture and swipe when you walk past in an attempt to sever your achille’s tendon and bring down his prey.

Humor aside, though, Judas has a point. If you’re going to use a colloquialism in your writing, use it correctly.

Which came first, the antivax chicken or the quack-med egg?

Given that most anti-vaxers who are “concerned” with autism also believe in a wide array of quackery from merely useless (“energy healing”) to abusive and dangerous (bleach enemas). Also given, the high probability of a mutual back-scratching club between Sen. Enabler and various lobbyists.

Enabler himself, as a chiropractor, is undoubtedly in touch with many others, and from there to naturopaths, homeopaths, “energy healers,” “health gurus,” etc. So it’s almost a certainty that plenty of them consider him to be “their Senator” and are pestering him to “produce” for them. As in, do stuff that will drive patients to their doorsteps.

That, as Orac points out, will also get patients and policies on the antivax track.

All factors in, I’m inclined to think that the financial motives are uppermost in the mix. From there, the rest of the unsavory brew follows.

And anyone who was involved in causing that measles outbreak among Somali immigrants needs to not only be thrown out of any elected or appointed position having to do with health, they should also be sued from here to Mars and back for contributing to the outbreak: civil fraud, monetary losses, pain & suffering, general tort, etc.

A good working definition of “antivaxer” is:

Someone who strongly opposes all (or virtually all) vaccines, continually promotes false information about them (even when presented with powerful evidence that he/she is wrong), espouses conspiracy theories to explain why immunization has become central to public health efforts, and consistently engages in personal attacks on pro-immunization advocates instead of acknowledging them as human beings with which they differ.

Don’t like being referred to as an antivaxer? Don’t behave like one.

@ Dangerous Bacon (Minion #2),

Your “fluffy” new-age rhetoric to define the word “antivaxer” is very ambiguous. Please provide a quantifiable definition of the word “antivaxer,” using the language of science, before heartlessly accusing anyone of behaving like one.

Right after you provide a water-tight definition of “adolescent” that is both inclusive and exclusive. Of course, you can’t do it. Despite which there are human beings who clearly fall into the group “adolescent”, and those who clearly don’t, plus a nebulous group who are not clearly adolescents and not clearly non-adolescents. Such is life…speaking of which, there is no defintion of life either that is both inclusive and exclusive yet, amazingly, there are living things and non-living things all over the place. Though you may be hard put to know where to put prions and viruses,

BillyJoe asks,

Right after you provide a water-tight definition of “adolescent” that is both inclusive and exclusive.

“Of course I can try. Adolescent, as defined herein, is a person’s chronological age in a range of from (X) to (Y) +/- (Z); wherein (X) = Years, (Y) = months, and (Z) = days,” says MJD.

Orac doesn’t try to define the pseudo-word “antivaxer.” And Denice Walter’s attempt is very non-adolescent based on her chronological age.

Please provide a quantifiable definition of the word “antivaxer,” using the language of science

Oh man they’re going to kick me out of the sub shop if I don’t stop laughing so crazily. Please provide all future comments using first-order predicate calculus.

Narad (Minion #3) writes,

Oh man they’re going to kick me out of the sub shop…

MJD says,

Q. Why does Narad only order tuna-based sub sandwiches.

A. It’s the only way he can get his house cats interested in him.

Orac doesn’t try to define the pseudo-word “antivaxer.”

Orac has given a definition of the word. The fact that you dislike his definition as it calls you out as an antivaxxer doesn’t change that fact.

Make no mistake, Abeler is purebred antivax. He sponsored bills way back in the day (2004ish) when he was in the MN House to ban thimerosal-containing vaccines.

I do wonder whether AoA has been filing their 1099’s since Dan’s premature death.

I see Stagliarossi is still doing fine work in dispelling that pesky notion that AoA-er’s so-called “autism advocacy” is actually just self-obsessed attention whoring.

Hello to those who live in Wacky Washington Way Out West… Also known as the state of Washington* where there is presently a measles outbreak in Clark County. Which is just across the border from Portland, Oregon… and includes the town of Vancouver, WA*.

Check out this website and send feedback to your state legislative critter:

By the way, the original proposed name of this state was “Columbia” (just like a river that runs through it!). It is bad enough being confused with our nation’s capitol, I can’t imagine what it would be if it was confused with the province of Canada directly north of us. Though some from New Mexico would understand. Before the days of smartphones I had to go to a payphone to get directions to a hotel in Vancouver, WA only to be asked by the guy at the other end if I was on Vancouver Island. Um, no.. I was not actually in Canada! Which was slightly less amusing than the guy from an idiotic national bank who when I said I was in Seattle, WA kept asking me if I was in the City of Washington…. AAARGH! (no longer dealing with that bank)

I can’t imagine what it would be if it was confused with the province of Canada directly north of us.

How many lost souls end up in Vancouver Washington rather than Vancouver British Columbia?

Nova Scotia has a city called Sydney. Therefore we have Sidney NS.
New South Whales has a city called Sydney. Therefore we have Sydney NSW.

Every year or two I hear or read about a bewildered traveler who arrives in Nova Scotia when expecting Bondi Beach and the Sydney Opera House.

“How many lost souls end up in Vancouver Washington rather than Vancouver British Columbia?”

Fortunately, much fewer than if they ended up in Vancouver, Columbia.

There’s also Ontario, Canada (Ontario, CA) and Ontario, California (Ontario, CA). I used to fly out of the California Ontario regularly and always made a paranoid double check that I wasn’t buying tickets to Canada.

According to a demographics site, NJ has 4 Washington Townships, one Washington and one Washington Borough. Although they are scattered all over the state, they don’t cause too much confusion because most of them are tiny** and honestly, not much happens there.

** however one is in metro NY, larger and near the ((shudder)) shopping mall capitol


There once was a spammer on a listserv many years ago who mentioned “those in Washington.” Being obnoxious I used the primitive version of the Googles (after Altavista just disappeared) to look up every place called “Washington” I could find, which I listed after I asked him “Which Washington?”

It was more extensive than this list: Which is incomplete, because there is a “Mount Washington” also in British Columbia. 😉

I can get a wee bit annoying if one assumes that a place name is unique. I think I did that shortly after someone posted a question about something in “Richmond.” I had to ask her did she mean Richmond, CA or Richmond, BC (it was neither of those two).

There’re also Richmond counties- including Staten Island, NY ( NYC has 5 boroughs which are separate counties)
the reddest part of NYC.

Article in the WaPo today about the Clark County outbreak:

Apparently, Clark County diverges from the Pacific NW stereotype. One commenter refers to it as the area’s MAGA capital, another writes “Vancouver, also known in the region as Vantucky”. The State Rep. there is a Republican — who, refreshingly, appears firmly pro-vax:

Washington state Rep. Paul Harris, a Republican from Vancouver who represents Clark County, introduced a bill that would prohibit all exemptions from the measles vaccine requirement save for medical and religious reasons. “It’s about public health,” he said. “People have told me they won’t go to the store or out into the community as much because they have cancer and are getting chemotherapy. So it doesn’t just impact those people who choose not to get vaccinated.”.

The comments also note that an anti-vax immigrant community – in this case Russian Orthodox – has been a major factor in the outbreak. This seems to be a pattern, tight-knit subcultural groups as clusters, after the Somalis in MN and the Hasidic in Brooklyn…

I forgot to mention an article I read this morning:

This is a pertinent quote (with added emphasis): “Jodie believes her 3-year-old son suffered encephalitis and developed autism as a result of shots he received at a medical center in Texas in 2016. She concedes that there’s no way for her to prove the vaccinations caused his condition. (Study after study has shown no link between vaccines and autism.)”

I am glad that a journalist is finally asking for evidence of harm.

In other anti-vax news…

Children’s Health Defense ( @ ChildrensHD) :
is Kennedy thinking about suing Merck for vaccine injury? He remarks about Monsanto and Merck? Losing lawsuits, I assume?

There is an open case in California against Merck for a claim of a person who alleges Gardasil caused an autoimmune disease (showing that the claim that you cannot sue is incorrect; the plaintiff here went through vaccine court, and then sued). From the anti-vaccine claims, it looks like Merck is pointing to large epidemiological studies and plaintiffs have the flawed individual case studies and bad mice studies we have seen in the past, and a few conspiracy theories claiming Merck misrepresented data (one of them built, apparently, around a typo). It doesn’t read like a case with any merit.
Discovery has not started yet.

Thanks, Dorit.
Just wondering about RFK jr:
does he function as a lawyer – perhaps initiating suits? Or is he just an activist/ mis-informationist.

He’s part of the legal team, but I am fairly sure he did not initiate, and I don’t know how dominant he is. At least some of the arguments in the article Lyn Redwood wrote the plaintiffs’ lawyers raised in the trial appeared to come directly from that problematic HPV book, so he may have been instrumental in making some of them. But that’s guesswork.

<a href=”>Okey-dokey.

Sol’s experience and professional relationships with nationally-renowned medical experts, economists life care planners, and others in the medical related field make him one of only a handful of attorneys in the United States who can successfully handle this type of complex vaccine medical litigation.

Hope that this doesn’t double:

In other anti-vax news…AoA , today:

Connecticut makes it harder for parents to attain religious exemptions by no longer allowing school nurses to sign forms.
Patricia Finn, an attorney in Rockland County** ( remember her?) is opposing similar tightening efforts in NY: she believes that ” vaccines can cause measles”

** in the Hudson Valley which has several Orthodox Jewish enclaves ( New Square, Monsey) and a history of outbreaks

Twin Cities-area pharma vassals, don’t miss out on an appearance later this month by environmental “legend” RFK Jr.

He’ll be speaking at the Minneapolis Club on Feb. 19, an affair sponsored by the Organic Consumers Association, Children’s Health Defense and Health Choice Minnesota.

The latter two organizations have an overriding (if not exclusive) focus on attacking vaccines (RFK Jr. is chairman of the board of Children’s Health Defense) and both groups are run by a who’s who of antivax campaigners. The OCA, while heavily involved in anti-GMO proselytizing has also been active in fulminating against immunization.

Should be lots of fascinating dialogue as anti-biotech/glyphosate frenzy continues to cross-pollinate with antivax loonery.

I don’t see anything about an admissions fee and there’s a cash bar, so bring plenty of $$ so you can survive the evening.

Orac, someone once said to you:

“I just came here to show my support for The arguments there are intelligently presented and backed-up by published studies. I challenge anyone here to find fault with that site.”

To which you responded:

“Be careful what you wish for…”

I was just wondering if you ever granted that “wish”. And if so, please provide the link.

From a generally good Washington Post article on Friday’s public hearing on a bill to eliminate “philosophical” exemptions for childhood vaccinations:

“Anti-vaccine activists, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent vaccine conspiracy theorist, claimed that health officials are covering up vaccine dangers. Some said their children had been injured or sickened by immunizations. One falsely said the majority of people diagnosed with measles have been vaccinated.
When Washington Health Secretary John Wiesman debunked those claims, some members of the audience murmured in disapproval.”

Good for the Post for not falling for the perceived need to provide “balance” between solid science and nuttery.

It’s accurate to refer to RFK Jr. as a “vaccine conspiracy theorist”, but it just seems redundant, since (as far as I know), every leading figure in antivax-land imagines such conspiracies.

Basically, they’re showing that a group of people from out of state were brought by the local antivaccine activists to tell legislators things that aren’t true in the middle of an outbreak. That’s not likely to be helpful to the antivaccine cause.

And they don’t seem to realize that legislators can understand that the few hundreds of people (at least some from out of state) they brought may be more than usually comes to hearing, but is still a tiny minority of the citizens of WA.

Especially since there is a handy online form to express our views, which is much safer in the present icy/snowy conditions. It takes time and effort to go to Olympia, and some of us have things to do during working hours.


Uff da!, ja? We’ve gotten an absurd amount of snow up here on Mt. Adams over the past couple days. I trudged out to the pump house this afternoon and the snow was up to my waist and it’s still snowing, and nothing but snow in the forecast. (Well, actually, there could be a few hours of rain tomorrow afternoon – although that’s the forecast for town – so my brother’s coming over to shovel off the roof in the morning. He came over today and plowed the driveway; nobody’s getting to work anyway.)

Oh! There’s a slight possibility that I’ll end up in your neck of the woods; I just applied for a job at Nintendo as a localization editor, basically editing the English in-game text and manuals and stuff. I haven’t heard back from the UC Press, although the position I actually ended up applying for (in international rights) is still open. But this other job pays a lot better anyway, and the climate’s a lot better. Plus I’d get to go to Japan once in a while.

But whatever, who knows. I’m working on casting a net in a few different places. Portland has a lot of appeal, but here ain’t sh!t for work, especially considering how much it costs to live there these days.

It is presently raining. Lots.

Hope all goes well in the future job prospects. Though is is not cheap to live here either… even east of Lake Wasihngton.

Yeah, it’s not cheap, but there are actually decent jobs up there that pay commensurately. I’m getting to the point where I don’t entirely even understand how people are managing to live in Portland.

I didn’t know where to put this excellent news.
Toronto health conference cancels appearance by anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree

Organizers of a controversial natural-health conference have cancelled the appearance of an anti-vaccine activist who had been scheduled as a headline speaker at the April event.

The change comes after The Globe and Mail reported that Del Bigtree, who spreads false information about what he describes as the dangers of vaccines and a vast government conspiracy to cover them up, was to appear at the Total Health Show in Toronto in April. Conference organizers declined an interview request on Thursday. Mr. Bigtree did not respond to an interview request.

And another one, from “Without a crystal ball” on Patheos.
Jenny McCarthy’s Anti-Vax Doctor Makes Urgent Plea to Vaccinate

Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine pediatrician for her son, Evan, is encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against the measles. Dr. Jay Gordon tweeted late last week that “Now is the Time” for parents to vaccinate their child due to outbreaks in multiple states. Gordon has long advocated against vaccines. He falsely believes vaccines cause autism. McCarthy has helped catapult the doctor’s fringe beliefs mainstream.

I see that Jay is only urging vaccination for “older” children, and only those “in the midst” of an outbreak (if you have young kids especially susceptible to measles’ damaging effects and/or live somewhere that has declining vaccination rates and is ripe for an outbreak, like some hotspots in Texas, I suppose you can wait and hope for the best).

Still, it’s progress, of a pitifully weak sort. And we should never forget that Jay (as he proudly tells us on his website, along with promoting homeopathic treatment of pediatric ear infections) is “Intensely interested in infant nutrition and breastfeeding, Dr. Gordon is the first male physician to sit for and pass the International Board of Lactation Certification Exam”.

Interesting article in The Guardian about anti-vax and Facebook:

“Money quote”, literally:

In addition to hosting many closed anti-vaccination groups, Facebook has taken in thousands of advertising dollars from those who specifically target parents with often frightening false messages meant to undermine trust in vaccines.

The story details one closed group run by a scammer claiming high dose vitamin C eliminates the need for childhood vaccination – the selling of which, of course, being her livelihood.

Not sticking around guys, just a hit-and-run. Seriously, have you heard the latest news, it’s actually going worldwide? Teens are now taking to the ‘net to rail against their antivaxx parents and get vaccinated. Orac, this is titillating stuff here, why haven’t you blogged about it?!

Anyway, seems like most of the reactions are supportive of these ‘brave’, ‘smart’ teens who are defying their parents and acting in their best health interest. As to the parents, listen to what this ‘nutcase’ antivaxx mom had to say. Oh well, I suppose we should give her credit for being real and not a Russian bot.

My mother had a saying, “He wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him in the face. “

And after saying he was not sticking around, he is still contaminating other threads on this blog with his idiocy.

Seriously, have you heard the latest news, it’s actually going worldwide?

You don’t say.

Oh man, that’s a <a=”″>colossal fail. Pardon me while I carmelize some onions.

They need to stop talking for autistic people, I’ve actually never met an autistic person who is antivax.

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