Sometimes good things happen: The antivaccine fringe suffers a setback in Congress

Well, it’s done. The server migration should be finished. I was out and about last night giving a talk; so I’ll only have time for a relatively brief post (for me, at least). Once again, things happen while I’m otherwise…indisposed. This time around, it’s something that warms the cockles of what antivaccinationists perceive to be my pharma shill heart. Normally, it’s considered bad form to openly express schadenfreude, but I do make at least one exception, and that’s when bad things happen to antivaccinationist plans, particularly after they’ve been crowing about them for weeks.

You might recall that a while back, I learned that the antivaccine fringe group known as the Canary Party had seemingly, in essence, bought and paid for Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Issa now holds the very same chair once held by Dan Burton, the most antivaccine of all antivaccine legislators ever to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, who fortunately retired at the end of the last Congress after decades of making mischief about science. And what did they buy (or think they bought)? Another hearing, another chance to promote the idea that vaccines cause autism, although that’s not what it was billed as.

Last year around this time, Issa held a hearing “investigating” the “autism epidemic.” Although ostensibly about just autism, the hearing rapidly devolved into an antivaccine wankfest, a mummer’s farce, as all such “hearings” do, with antivaccine activists testifying one after another and hapless CDC employees trying to answer questions from clueless Congressional Representatives. I can never figure out why government agencies seemingly send the least prepared of their people to such functions, but that’s the way it seemed last year. This year, Issa was going to “investigate” the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) and the Vaccine Court, based seemingly upon a the same sort of misinformation promulgated in a video narrated by the latest clueless celebrity to jump on the antivaccine bandwagon, Rob Schneider. Plans had even progressed to the point where antivaccine lawyer Mary Holland held a briefing for Congressional staffers less than two weeks ago. As usual, it was the same misinformation, misrepresenting the Vaccine Court as some sort of abomination that prevented children with vaccine-induced autism from receiving compensation. Of course, given that vaccines don’t cause autism, it’s not surprising that the Vaccine Court hasn’t granted compensation for that indication, although it’s not for lack of bending over backwards to give parents every opportunity to make their case.

So, here we were, looking forward to more of the same on December 4, when this hearing was supposedly scheduled. Then, the other day, I learned it had been canceled, although I had no confirmation. So I waited. I wanted to see what the reaction of the antivaccine movement would be. A deafening silence blanketed the usual suspects, such as the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism and The Canary Party. Then, our old “buddy” Jake Crosby posted:

Unconfirmed reports by several reliable sources including an attorney have been brought to the attention of Autism Investigated. According to these reports, the congressional hearing on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has been cancelled by the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform chaired by Congressman Darrell Issa. This information comes after a vaccine-injured child’s case was misrepresented at a congressional briefing by Canary Party, video footage of which was removed along with an entire post from the Canary Party-sponsored Age of Autism blog.

After Autism Investigated reported on the deletion of the video, Age of Autism restored the post without the video, claiming technical difficulties. Then, after Autism Investigated posted a link to the video and an Age of Autism reader requested AoA also provide a link, the video was fully restored with the technical excuses scrubbed. Below is the NVICP hearing cancellation message from the attorney who gives insight into the reasons behind the cancellation:

“I was just informed by the Counsel for Chairman Issa that due to ‘great deal of reluctance about participating or being drawn into what they, in their private candid discussions with us, say they see as an overly divisive issue’ they are canceling the hearing.”

It’s rather hilarious, actually. Later in the post, Jake refers to news of last year’s conference being “leaked,” which is silly. People who deal with Congress have their ears to the ground and find out about these sorts of hearings before they show up on the official Committee schedule all the time. No leaking necessary. This year, particularly, vaccine advocates have been keeping their ears and eyes open, expecting The Canary Party to pull something like this again. It is rather amusing, however, to see Jake lash out yet again at his former allies and friends:

If confirmed, it will be a tragedy that direct interference by Canary Party and specifically Mark Blaxill led to the collapse of the hearing. Blaxill said on Linderman last month that Canary Party asked for hearings on NVICP instead of CDC malfeasance (as was falsely promised to autism parent and scientist Dr. Brian Hooker) because that was the topic Issa wanted. Yet now Issa is cancelling the hearing because of the divisiveness of the topic itself – the very topic Blaxill claimed Issa wanted to hold the hearing about.

Meanwhile, later yesterday, the antivaccine crank blog finally had to acknowledge that, yes, the planned Committee hearing was indeed “postponed indefinitely” (translation: canceled):

Yesterday The Canary Party and her partners who have worked for a year on getting hearings on vaccine injury in Congress were informed that the hearing on the VICP that was set for December 4th has been postponed until next year. We had a call this morning with the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government to get more clarity on their decision, and were informed that while the community of vaccine injured families is eager to testify, they were finding “reluctance” from others to participate in the hearings.

Our response? Of course they don’t want to participate in these hearings! Those both inside and outside of government who are involved in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the monumental injustice that is being inflicted on untold thousands of vaccine injured children do not want to have to show up and explain what they have done under oath!

More like this: NVICP and CDC officials likely don’t want to waste their time answering spurious, pseudoscience and conspiracy laden nonsensical charges about the NVICP in front of a committee chaired by a scientific ignoramus. Meanwhile, Jennifer Larson and Mark Blaxill posted a gut-bustingly hysterical letter bemoaning the decision, perhaps the only good decision Darrell Issa has made about science since he took over as chair of OGR and urge AoA readers to call, e-mail, and mail their Congressional Representatives on the committee. Personally, I hope they all do just that. Blaxill and Larson’s letter is probably the most “reasonable” commentary Congressional officials will get. Just dive into the comments to see the sorts of things committee members can read. In fact, pro-vaccine advocates might want to send links and screenshots of comments like this:

I don’t believe we will get justice for this planned children genocide with toxic vaccines in the US Congress, which is totally sold to pharma cartels. We should sue these cartels and their govt collaborators in the International Criminal Court at Nuremberg-like trial.

And:

Speechless, but not surprised. The stonewalling, cover-ups, and corruption continue…unchecked. Meanwhile, the “autism” epidemic rages on…unchecked. Profits for Big pHARMa grow bigger…unchecked. The ethics and morals of our elected officials head further south…unchecked. Vaccine-injured children and their families continue to suffer and be left without meaningful help or services…unchecked.

Shame on every single elected official who has allowed this hearing to be delayed. News flash for you: you, your children, and your grandchildren will be joining our ranks, of that you can be sure, because you continue to allow the use of neurotoxic, immune, gut, and nervous-sytem damaging vaccines, poisonous GMO foods, nerve-damaging pesticides, and dangerous chemicals…unchecked. You and yours will not escape your unethical and immoral decisions.

If you are not going to serve the public, but rather big business and their special interest groups and lobbyists, then please resign and go work for them directly…or are you already?

Yes, more comments like these to committee members, please. There’s nothing like letting the antivaccine fringe speak out freely to reveal even to Darrell Issa that they are complete and total cranks.