Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

newsweek

Sarah Palin and the political spotlight

Sarah Palin - Going Rogue Back in 2008, during the presidential campaign, I wrote about Sarah Palin in a post titled “Folksy” doesn’t belong in the White House. By that point, I’d gotten enough information about Palin to make up my mind about the election and her poor qualifications, anti-intellectualism, and “folksiness” disqualified her for my consideration, costing McCain my vote.

Since that time, Palin has turned into a Republican darling for reasons that only reinforce the new Republican image; an image that emphasizes (and practically glorifies) lack of education, dogmatic dismissal of science, hate-fueled misinformation, and general ignorance. Republicans used to be the party of fiscal responsibility… the party of smaller government and lower taxes… the party that wanted to keep government as unobtrusive as possible. I liked that. Now, it’s the party of “no,” the party of science denialism, the party of right-wing, fundamentalist religion, the party of self-righteous moral proselytizing and intrusion into private, personal matters, the party of selective free speech (free speech as long as it’s speech of which they approve), and the party of unwavering faith in misinformed, spiteful “leaders” like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity.

I digress.

Palin has worked hard to maintain her position in the Republican spotlight and recent polls show she has fairly strong support among Republicans when it comes to presidential contention. That indicates the lamentable state of the American voting public.

Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece for Newsweek about Palin’s appeal to “populism” and her constant denigration of the “Washington elite.” Says Hitchens…

Sarah Palin herself can apparently never tire of contrasting her folksy provincialism with the pointy-headed intellectuals, and with those in the despised city of “Washington,” where her supporters want—it would seem against her own better instincts—to move her.

It’s an interesting point. Palin rails against Washington and the “elite” but seems to have a strong desire to become a Washington insider herself… as if her poor qualifications actually make her more qualified. She is (again from Hitchens)…

[…] anti-Washington except that she thirsts for it, and close enough (and also far enough away to be “deniable”) to the paranoid fringe elements who darkly suspect that our president is a Kenyan communist.

Palin, by any rational standard, is “out there” in her views on a number of issues… not the least of which are creationism and the exorcism of witches. Her statement that she hopes our soldiers are being sent to Iraq on a “task that is from God” is also disturbing on a number of levels. Someone with her purported beliefs should not be in charge of this country if we are to be successful… and free.

Hitchens concludes (and I agree)…

Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime. This completes the already strong case for allowing her to pass the rest of her natural life span as a private citizen.

Here’s hoping for that.

Newsweek on Inoculation Misinformation

H1N1 Vaccine Newsweek has a great article addressing all the misinformation flying around regarding the H1N1 vaccine. It’s definitely well done and worth the time to read, if only to counter those folks who cry about conspiracies and dangers and government plots to use vaccines to control your mind by enslaving you with a thought-control drug and giving you Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Vaccines are a critical tool in our medical arsenal to combat illness and death. Major diseases have been all but eradicated from the face of the planet due to vaccinations and others have been reduced to the point of near insignificance because of the effect of herd immunity in the world population. Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy has a great rundown of articles about the benefits and safety of vaccines, including Gardasil, the relatively new HPV vaccine.

Here are the summary points from the Newsweek article about the H1N1 vaccine.

    • The vaccine does have some risks – the same risks as the seasonal flu vaccine. Except for the virus, it is functionally identical to the vaccine that’s given every year.
    • The multidose formulation of the vaccine contains thimerosal, which prevents contamination. Some have accused thimerosal of causing developmental disorders in children, but scientific evidence doesn’t support this.
    • The vaccine does not contain squalene, which has been accused – also without good evidence – of causing Gulf War syndrome.
    • There’s no reason to believe that a vaccination would cause Guillain-Barre syndrome. GBS was associated with several hundred flu vaccinations in 1976, but there’s been no evidence of an association since then, despite close monitoring.
    • While it’s true that a Navy vessel was prevented from deploying because of a flu outbreak, that had nothing to do with the vaccine, which hadn’t been developed at the time. And there were no deaths aboard the ship, as some e-mails claim.
    • Vaccination is not mandatory for the public nationally or in any state, although New York requires that health care providers get vaccinated. Massachusetts legislation granting standby powers in case of health emergencies does not require vaccination or establish quarantine “camps.”

    Read the whole article to hear some of the crazy misinformation flying around… and the actual facts that show why it’s crazy.

    …then tell others.