Come Inside the Mind of an Anti-Vaxxer

Behold the jumble of conspiracies, idiocy, and MAGA thinking.

1. “Were They Immigrants?”

Yesterday I stumbled across a tiny artifact of our politics, a forgotten meeting from the Missouri House Elementary and Secondary Education committee this past March.

The committee was discussing HB 37, a bill that would make it easier for students to get an immunization exemption and remove private schools from immunization requirements. It’s an anti-vaxx bill. Testifying before the committee that day was a lobbyist from one of the pediatric groups opposed to it.

There’s video.

After the lobbyist finishes testifying, Representative Justin Hill begins questioning him.

Hill starts by talking about immunocompromised children and how dangerous it is for them to be given vaccines. The lobbyist says that kids who are immunocompromised can get vaccine exemptions.

Hill then he moves on to asking who provides these exemptions. The lobbyist says that doctors do.

Hill takes exception to this, saying that, “What’s interesting is that . . . potentially a physician with no children could have . . . more ability to get a child into school than a parent that has concerns. Maybe a parent who has experienced harm from a vaccine.”

So this guy wants parents to be able to exempt their kids from vaccine requirements on their own say-so. Because parents know more about medicine than doctors who don’t have kids. Or something.

Hill then talks about “acquired immunity” and says that if someone simply knows that they have had an illness, that should be enough to exempt them from vaccine requirements. He relates a story about how his kid once had chickenpox, but was never officially diagnosed with it. Hill explains that he had a doctor falsify his kid’s immunization record because he assured the doc that the kid had had it. Hill seems proud of this story, as if it proves a point.

Hill says that while he was never diagnosed with COVID by some fancy doctor,

I think I had the coronavirus. I’m not going to get a vaccine. . . . Am I educated enough to be able to put on a card saying that I don’t need the vaccine because I’ve lost my smell for four months?

I know what you’re thinking: Quaestione ipsa responsiones.

But we’re not done. Justin Hill then asks,

Hill: What districts do you know that had outbreaks where children were less vaccinated in the state of Missouri?

Answer: We had a situation a few years ago in Nixa where a community that was a daycare center that had several unvaccinated children had a measles outbreak . . .

Hill: Okay . . .

Answer: That was the most recent, but we’ve had several over the last decade across the state and I can compile that information . . .

Hill: I would love that information because, do you know the specifics about that district in Nixa? Were they, by chance, were they immigrants?

He just . . . my dude just said it. Out loud.

In case you’re wondering—since Rep. Hill was jUSt aSkINg QUEstioNs—the lobbyist replies, “They were not.”

At which point Justin Hill is visibly deflated. “They weren’t? Okay. Ummm . . .” he says.

And Hill’s cross-examination abruptly ends.

People are complex matrices of opinions, beliefs, values, and experiences. Just because Justin Hill knowingly asks doctors to falsify vaccination records and thinks that disease outbreaks only come from immigrants doesn’t mean that he’s some stereotypical MAGA dude who signs on with all the rest of the—

Oh boy. That’s doesn’t look good. Maybe the text of the story will be better?

Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake Saint Louis, said he didn’t enter the Capitol, but did watch the mob from a vantage point at the rear of the building.

“I wasn’t close enough to see anything. I didn’t see any vandalism,” Hill said. . . .

Hill was the leader of an effort among fellow members of the House in December to approve a resolution declaring that Missouri lawmakers “have no faith in the validity” of 2020 election results in six battleground states President Donald Trump lost. . . .

Hill said he went to Washington to discuss his effort.

“I came out to meet with our delegation about the resolution I filed, to talk to them about our state’s position on election laws,” Hill said.

He said he attended the morning rally near the White House.

“It was just amazing. A lot of families, young kids, several different nationalities and races. It was peaceful, a lot of prayer, a lot of patriotism,” he said. . . .

“I went to lunch and started hearing sirens about an hour later. I walked to the back of the Capitol, and man, the crowd that was there was not the crowd at the rally,” Hill said. “It was different people.”

It’s always the ones you most expect.

Get MOAR Bulwark

2. Andrew Cuomo

I don’t mean to minimize how damning the sexual harassment report on Andrew Cuomo is. If it was the only charge against him, it would be reason enough to get rid of him.

But to a certain extent, it feels like the tax evasion charges against Al Capone, because Cuomo’s handling of COVID was not just terrible, but actively evil.

So yes, Cuomo should resign. But he’s not going anywhere unless New York Democrats make him.

This is a real test for the Democratic party and as we try to evaluate how they do, here are some markers:

  • What percentage of Democratic lawmakers oppose Cuomo?

  • What percentage of Democratic lawmakers support him?

  • What position do the Democratic lawmakers in leadership take?

  • Does the legislature undertake impeachment proceedings?

  • Do Cuomo supporters threaten retaliation against anti-Cuomo Democrats?

The answers to these questions will tell you about the health of the Democratic party. So far, what we’ve seen has been encouraging. But the job isn’t done.

One of the ways Biden differs from his predecessor is that he more or less stays in his own lane. With one or two exceptions, he doesn’t get involved in fights that are outside his control.

So why did Biden say that Cuomo should resign?

Probably as a means to give cover to Democrats in New York’s legislature and aid an effort to impeach the governor.

As president, Biden has been reliant on the inside-game. He thinks that working behind the scenes is more productive than public-facing communications. We’ll see if that works with Cuomo.

3. Ginger

Remember the crazy hype about the unveiling of the Segway?

In January of 2001, a startup news website broke a huge technology story: A charismatic millionaire was secretly developing an incredible invention, one that would change the world, in his lab in New Hampshire. The news came via a leaked, secret book proposal, which had just sold to the academic publisher Harvard Business School Press for $250,000. Within hours, the story was everywhere.

The proposal quoted Steve Jobs saying the invention would be “as significant as the personal computer.” Jeff Bezos said it was “revolutionary.” But what was surprising about the book deal wasn’t merely the praise the invention and its charismatic inventor, Dean Kamen, garnered from tech world luminaries. It wasn’t merely the substantial investment the inventor had received from famed venture capitalist John Doerr, the largest in the firm Kleiner Perkins’ history. What stood out most of all was the detail that Harvard was paying a quarter-million dollars for the book—and it didn’t even know what the invention was. The inventor was paranoid about leaks, and the book’s author withheld that information from the proposal. No one—not even the literary agent who had submitted the proposal to editors, swearing them to secrecy—knew what the invention was. All they knew was the single word of the book’s title: IT.

The tech bubble was bursting, and all across Silicon Valley, paper fortunes were vanishing. Now here was something different, something that felt new because it was old: a real invention, not just lines of HTML. Soon IT was on Lycos, on NPR, in the New York Times, on late-night talk shows. An IT message board thrown onto the internet by two entrepreneurial brothers received 100,000 hits in its first 24 hours. The explosion of the IT story in the winter and spring of 2001 represented an entirely new kind of media frenzy, the birth of virality as we now know it.

And then IT, too, popped. In December 2001, a year after the initial leak, the world finally learned what IT was, as Dean Kamen presented his invention on Good Morning America. With great fanfare, an actual curtain raised to reveal a bulky two-wheeled scooter.

“The Segway,” Kamen announced proudly.

“That’s it?” Diane Sawyer asked. “That can’t be it.”

The Segway did not change the world. It was not bigger than the PC. It ended up a joke, the province of mall cops and G.O.B. Bluth on Arrested Development. The Segway flopped so badly that one of its first boosters still keeps his in the garage, “to remind me,” he said, “of my own fallibility.”

Read the whole thing.