Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Johnson, Who Once Marveled at Medical Science, Pooh-Pooh's Vaccines Because God Didn't Make Them

Wisconsin's Republican Senator, Ron Johnson, is trying to win the hearts and minds of anti-vaxxers by becoming the most anti-vaxxer lawmaker in Washington — and embarrassing our state in the process.

Here's the latest of what Johnson has peddled against vaccines, via Raw Story:

During an interview with WCPT, Johnson said that vaccine scientists are wrong to think that they "can create something better than God."

The Wisconsin Republican recalled that he had tested positive for Covid-19 last year while being free of symptoms.

"Why would we just automatically assume that our natural immunity is going to be awful?" he ranted. "You would think the default position would be, if you've already had it, you ought to be pretty well protected. Why do we assume that the body's natural immune system isn't the marvel that it really is?"

"Why do we think that we can create something better than God" is quite the argument for Johnson to make against medical science — especially from someone who used to discuss the wonders of medical science in order to (somehow) bash the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.

Here's a statement from Johnson in 2012:

"The types of medical innovation that saved my daughter’s life [and] that saves millions of Americans — I wont’ say it’s going to come to a grinding halt but it’s going to be severely limited [by Obamacare]..."

The logic behind Johnson's attacks on the ACA were, in fact, illogical, as
his claims of "severely limited" healthcare never came to fruition

image via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons, modified
(indeed, his claims were about as believable as "death panels"). But that's not the point: the real issue here is that the Wisconsin senator used to give high praise to the things medical science could provide, specifically noting that his daughter benefited from such innovations. But today, he refuses to do so for vaccines that could save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.

That's because it's not politically advantageous for him, as a member of the anti-science, pro-Trump wing of the GOP. Now, he's got to act like vaccines are somehow an affront to God in order to get support from his far-right base in Wisconsin (and campaign cash from others elsewhere across the country). 

Here are the facts: the vaccines work, and they're safe. Omicron has proven that variants have the ability to result in breakthrough infections, but those who do get COVID after a vaccine rarely need hospitalization, including in Wisconsin, where an unvaxxed person is more than 10 times more likely to need to go to the hospital than a person who has received their shots for the virus.

In places where vaccine rates are higher, there are fewer hospitalizations — and fewer deaths. In the state overall, the rate of fully-vaccinated individuals sits at 62 percent. During the past seven days, a total of 163 Wisconsinites have died.

Compare that with Dane County's rates. With four-in-five residents vaccinated (80 percent), just seven residents in the county have died during the past week.

We also know that so-called "natural immunity" that Johnson is pushing is bogus — that method is less likely to create the same/consistent levels of antibodies that the vaccines safely create. It's also a process that requires thousands of people to get sick and die in order to be effective. 

"We have never successfully been able to do [natural herd immunity] before, and it will lead to unacceptable and unnecessary untold human death and suffering," Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Institute, said in October 2020.

So the bottom line is this: we have proof that vaccines are working and that they're safe to administer. We also have never seen "natural immunity" tackle a virus like this or any other ailment causing this much harm to the public. The vaccines are our best shot at combating this pandemic.

Ron Johnson's belief that a man-made vaccine is an affront to God would be silly, were it not so seriously deadly. This senator needs to go, because his words are dangerous.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Trump Implies He Fared Better On COVID Than Biden, But The Facts Say Otherwise

"Far more people died this year than last," Trump is now pointing out in one of his latest statements from his pseudo-campaign website.

The former president is critical of President Joe Biden in his comments, saying that the coronavirus pandemic "has beaten him." 

Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia Commons
CC-BY-SA 2.0
The implication from him is that Biden has failed and Trump didn't, when it came to the pandemic. Of course, as is often the case when it comes to the former president, the opposite is true, for a number of easy-to-see reasons.

First, an acknowledgment: more people DID die this year than last. But it's important to note that the virus was in the U.S. for longer in 2021 (all 12 months) than in 2020 (the first reported death happened in late February, so only nine months out of that year saw substantial numbers). When you take that into account -- when you look at how many perished on a per-month basis -- 2020 was indeed a worse year.

Second, you have to consider that Trump was president through January 20, 2021, a time when COVID-19 deaths were at their highest point. After he left office, those deaths wavered off, thanks to vaccines that were developed (and yes, those vaccines were developed under his watch -- but the former president was hardly a proponent of the vaccines, both before after he left the White House). When you add that extra almost-month into Trump's totals, again, on a month-by-month comparison, Trump did worse than Biden.

Finally, there are newer variants that exist now that pose a greater challenge than the original COVID-19 strain did. Delta spreads faster than the original strain of the virus, which made things problematic in the fall months, and continues to pose challenges at this moment. At the same time as that all started happening, more places opened up (particularly Trump-leaning areas), with much of the nation even becoming more lax on masking requirements in public places.

But the real evidence of Biden having done a better job than Trump may lie in the fact that counties that voted for Trump last year are faring far more poorly than Biden counties are. Heeding Trump's advice and commentary on the virus over the past year and a half, his followers are getting sicker, and dying more often, than Biden's are.

I take no pleasure in acknowledging that fact. But it serves to showcase that Trump, far from being a better president when it comes to coronavirus, actually engaged in actions that caused catastrophic harm to his own supporters.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Derrick Van Orden harassed a library page over LGBTQ books — but please, don't say he's "not inclusive..." 🙄

A Republican congressional candidate from western Wisconsin harassed a library worker in Prarie du Chien over a display of LGBTQ-friendly books in the children's section, then complained about the books possibly depicting Republicans as not being inclusive.

Throwing such a hissy-fit over these books, and checking them all out so that no one else can read them, however, suggests that Derrick Van Orden, the congressional candidate who made a scene at the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library in the first place, is not an "inclusive" GOPer.

Nenad Stojkovic/Flickr, with alterations

The Associated Press reports that the staffer had said Van Orden "complained loudly" about the display of books. He also filed a written complaint to the library over the inclusivity question.

According to the staffer, Van Orden's "voice was loud," and he was "aggressive" toward her. The staffer described herself as feeling "very uncomfortable" during the event, and Van Orden's actions as "threatening" in her mind. The library page — who was 17 at the time this incident happened, mind you — later told her parents she no longer felt safe at work.

From The AP:

Van Orden repeatedly demanded to know who set up the display so he could “teach them a lesson,” she said. She had set up the display but was too afraid of him to tell him, she said.

“He was full on shouting at this point and he kept aggressively shoving the books around,” she said.

I would say this is surprising and alarming behavior for any adult to take, except that this is Derrick Van Orden we're talking about — a man who was on the grounds of the Capitol complex in support of Donald Trump as a mob of loyalists to the former president sought to usurp the democratic will of the nation, and who exposed another man's genitals to two women without their consent.

Van Orden is running to become the next member of Congress for Wisconsin's third district. It would be a disgrace for him to win that race, a blemish on the state that would be hard to erase for years to come.

When it comes to Van Orden...let's just not, okay Wisconsin?