January 12, 2017

This is horrifying:

President-elect Donald Trump asked Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a proponent of a widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism, to chair a new commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, Kennedy said Tuesday.

The stunning move ... comes after Trump -- who has long been critical of vaccines -- met at Trump Tower with Kennedy, who has spearheaded efforts to roll back child vaccination laws....

Kennedy has been a notable proponent of nonmedical exemptions for parents who seek to prevent their children from being vaccinated, which is mandatory in most states.

He has argued that mercury-based additives in vaccines explain the link to autism. And he has alleged that government scientists, journalists and pharmaceutical companies have colluded to hide the truth from the public.

“They get the shot. That night they have a fever of 103. They go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone,” Kennedy said at the premiere of an anti-vaccination film screening in California in 2015. “This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.

A lot of us have known for a while that Trump is a vaccine skeptic:

Even before he entered politics, Trump said he believed vaccines cause autism. In an interview with the Sun-Sentinel in 2007, he said:

“When I was growing up, autism wasn't really a factor…And now all of a sudden, it's an epidemic. Everybody has their theory. My theory, and I study it because I have young children, my theory is the shots. We've giving these massive injections at one time, and I really think it does something to the children.”

In 2014, Trump tweeted: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!”

But I don't know how many Trump supporters really noticed. Now he has the opportunity to provide a huge megaphone for the anti-vaccination movement -- much bigger than that of Jenny McCarthy, who did (and continues to do) tremendous harm.

Here's what I worry about. A few years ago, right-wingers generally distrusted Vladimir Putin. Sure, there seemed to be a few conservative commentators who swooned over his strongman act. But the rank and file weren't huge fans.

Then Trump came along, and:

Back in July 2014 just 10 percent of Republicans held a favorable view of Putin, according to a poll conducted by the Economist and YouGov. By September of 2016, that number rose to 24 percent. And it's even higher today: 37 percent of Republicans view Putin favorably, the poll found in December.

If Trump and Kennedy make a great show of denouncing established science on vaccines at some point in the future, how many Trump diehards are going to decide that the great man is right about this issue? Will some deplorables stop (or delay) vaccinating their kids? What happens to the rest of us in that case?

I'm reading about this at the same time I'm reading a short New Republic piece titled "Hillary Clinton’s Cabinet Would Have Been Bad." It's based on a ex-Politico writer Mike Allen's list of possible appointees in a Clinton Cabinet. The conclusion of NR's Sarah Jones:

If Allen’s list is accurate, Clinton viewed the presidency as an opportunity to empower her wealthy, centrist allies.

Yes, but no Clinton appointee at any level would have deliberately encouraged Americans to expose entire populations to extremely dangerous infection diseases -- among other ways in which even centrist mediocrities are better than the hardball-playing maximalist right-wing ideologues and dyed-in-the-wool bigotsTrump is bringing into the government.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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