Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Cruising the Web

I just don't understand how vaccines suddenly became a question for Republican candidates. This should not be a tough question. Now we have Rand Paul voicing some concerns about whether mandatory vaccines violates parents' rights to make such decisions for their children. Richard Epstein answers Paul's concerns by explaining why a libertarian should support mandatory immunizations.
The blunt truth is that even libertarians and other defenders of small government should support the basic constitutional framework that gives public officials extensive powers to control against infection and disease by devices such as quarantine and vaccination. Apart from the forced vaccination of compromised individuals, it is difficult to carve out some enduring constitutional island of individual rights from the general principle of state control.

The weak constitutional system does not mean that nothing else should be done. Rather, it suggests that relief in this matter rests on two uncertain supports. The first is the awareness of most parents that vaccinations for their children are justified even on the narrowest grounds of individual self-interest. The bloated parental fears of adverse reactions to standard vaccines have to be effectively countered by concerted campaigns from both public and private sources. The simple truth is that in most cases, vaccinations make overwhelming sense as a way for parents to protect their children’s health.

Second, a constant pressure has to be placed on health and school officials to be sensitive to the difficult trade-offs involved in all these decisions. Thus far, the bad news is that private decisions have led people to let down their guard against communicable diseases on the na├»ve assumption that the diseases won’t spread. The good news, so far, is that the public response has been sensible. Let's hope, going forward, it stays that way.
And now the White House press secretary can't answer a straight question about whether the President believes in mandating vaccines for children. Amazingly, some of those who are most virulently rejecting vaccines are wealthy and live in liberal clusters.
Seth Mnookin, a journalist who's chronicled the anti-vaccination movement, observed a few years ago that you only had to go visit a Whole Foods to find anti-vaxxers.

Now, it doesn't seem that anyone's actually done the science on that one, but Mnookin's point here is obvious — the anti-vaccination movement is fueled by an over-privileged group of rich people grouped together who swear they won't put any chemicals in their kids (food or vaccines or whatever else), either because it's trendy to be all-natural or they don't understand or accept the science of vaccinations. Their science denying has been propelled further by celebrities, like Jenny McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and actress Mayim Bialik, who is also a neuroscientist and even plays one on TV....

The real problem is that these people tend to stick together. A new study this week finds strong evidence that people who rejected vaccines for their young children are clustered together in the same communities. And that only increases the risk that measles — a highly contagious respiratory disease that was believed to have been eradicated 15 years ago — will spread to more children.

Researchers analyzing records for about 55,000 children born in 13 northern California counties between 2010 and 2012 found five geographic clusters of 3-year-olds with significantly higher rates of vaccine refusal.

These included East Bay (10.2 percent refusal rate); Marin and southwest Sonoma counties (6.6 percent refusal); northeastern San Francisco (7.4 percent); northeastern Sacramento County and Roseville (5.5 percent); and south of Sacramento (13.5 percent). By comparison, the vaccine refusal rate outside these clusters is 2.6 percent, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

These are some of the most privileged parts of the Bay Area, although South Bay counties around Silicon Valley aren't on the list. The median household income in Marin is $90,535, compared to $61,094 in the state of California. In Alameda County (home to towns like Berkeley) in the East Bay, it's $72,112. One exception is Sacramento, where median income is only $55,064.

The communities where anti-vaxxers cluster are also among the most liberal. Marin County, San Francsico County and Alameda County all voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008.
As David Harsanyi points out, this is just one of several issues on which liberals ignore science, a type of ignorance usually portrayed as happening exclusively among conservatives. But many liberals ignore the evidence that global climate alarmists have been making claims that haven't been borne out even within the scope of their own predictions. It is liberals who have unwarranted fear of genetically modified foods and fracking.

The WSJ provides a brief history of anti-vaccine mania and offers some advice for Rand Paul.
As for Mr. Paul, he will have to avoid these libertarian dormitory passions if he wants to be a credible candidate. Government doesn’t “force” parents to vaccinate children. The states impose penalties (such as barring attendance in public schools) on those who pose a risk to public health by refusing vaccinations against infectious diseases. This strikes us as a legitimate use of state “police powers” under the Constitution. It is also a reasonable and small sacrifice of liberty to prevent the potentially fatal infection of unsuspecting infants at Disneyland.

Let’s chalk up the weird science of Messrs. Paul and Christie to a lack of information, and we’re happy to send them 13 years of vaccine editorials if they want to study up. The not-so-great measles vaccine debate of 2015 is one of those events that makes us wonder if there is such a thing as human progress. But then we live in America, so we know there’s hope.

Kudos to Maine's new Republican governor, Paul LePage, for actually following federal law and telling able-bodied welfare recipients must actually get a job. If they can't get a job, they must volunteer 20 hours a week or enroll in an employment program if they want to get their food benefits. And the recipients aren't happy about it.

Thomas Sowell ponders how President Obama's habit of denigrating the United States when he travels abroad.

Jonah Goldberg celebrates the "vanilla power" of Scott Walker.

The South doesn't look any better for Democrats in 2016. And they shouldn't depend on Hillary Clinton repeating the appeal of her husband's in Southern states.

Remember how, in 2012, Republicans were begging Chris Christie to run for president. He chose not to, but now he seems to be very interested in running for 2016. However, he keeps making mistake after mistake.
This morning, The New York Times will hit doorsteps with a front-page take-down detailing Chris Christie’s “Fondness for Luxe Benefits When Others Pay the Bills.” Parties with Bono at King Abdullah’s palace and $30,000 hotel bills cannot be expected to play well in Iowa, where last night a new Des Moines Register poll showed Mr. Christie tied for eighth place with the support of only 4 percent of Republican caucus goers.
This comes after whooping it up in Jerry Jones' private box and making a misstep answering a question on vaccines. And screaming at a heckler. He already had problems winning over conservatives. I don't see how he accomplishes that with so many missteps when there are several much more appealing candidates out there.

The media are ready to jump in to attack Republican candidates. They don't show the same sort of eagerness to examine Senator Elizabeth Warren's personal background.
The media blackout on Warren is particularly galling. She presents a target-rich environment for any enterprising journalist.

Warren maintains in her recent memoir that she is Cherokee Indian, despite evidence to the contrary. Her claim is relevant in light of her tenured professorship at Harvard, which claimed her as a minority.

Her Senate financial disclosure records reveal that she is a multimillionaire, yet she demonizes "millionaires and billionaires." Then there's her shoddy scholarship, which has been exposed by several colleagues.

Her honesty and integrity are ripe for debate, but the big media aren't interested. Because she claims to champion the poor. St. Elizabeth gets a pass.
Yet we get super-long reports on Jeb Bush's high school years or Rand Paul's affiliations with strange groups or Christie's enjoyment of hanging out with rich people. Those stories are all fine, but it would be nice to see a similar effort to examine Democrats. How about looking into Harry Reid's wealth? Or all the rich people Bill and Hillary have been hanging out with and getting free travel from? The media are picking up just where they were in 2008 and 2012 in the differences in how they portrayed the Republican candidates compared to Barack Obama.

What a sweet story about how a single dad took lessons from a cosmetologist so that he could learn how to style his young daughter's hair. And now he's a master at hairstyling.