The Candidacy and Claims of RFK Jr.

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Yves here. Rajiv Sethi has a look at RFK, Jr. based on positions he has taken in recent interviews. One can infer he’s not enamored with RFK, Jr.’s populist leanings, but points out the elites have set themselves up for that. Sethi also has a long discussion of a RFK, Jr. claim that has gotten many upset, that Pfizer’s own data shows all-cause mortality was higher, albeit slightly, among those that got the shot than those that got a placebo.

While Sethi’s take is more careful than most, he still reveals the dangers of economists (or pols or class action environmental lawyers) opining about medicine. IM Doc, who recall was overseeing clinical trials as part of, and for five year board chairman, of an institutional review board. He said an increase in all-cause morality would lead to an immediate halt in the trial to revisit safety. In other words, Sethi is incorrect to dismiss this signal as insignificant.

Mind you, the fact that Sethi is not quite right does not exonerate RFK, Jr. for having overegged the pudding. And the rules of engagement for critics of mainstream institutions and practices are that the burden of proof is on you, so you need to be accurate, otherwise you’ve made it easy to be dismissed. RFK, Jr.’s history of vaccine opposition has now anchored him to that topic, which may be appealing to a hard core of supporters. But it has the effect of forcing regularly to defend those views, when most Americans are concerned about bread and butter issues, not relitigating the vaccine wars.

By Rajiv Sethi, professor of economics, Barnard College. Columbia University. Originally published at Imperfect Information

I knew very little about RFK Jr. until a couple of months ago, when he announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. The reaction on social media, or at least in some corners that I inhabit, was swift and fierce. He was described as a crank and conspiracy theorist, opposed by members of his own family, running in the wrong party, his campaign destined for ignominious failure.

But the problem with mass opinion on social media is that it doesn’t reflect independent judgments. People tend to echo and promote the views of those they hold in high esteem, adopting beliefs by proxy. Both extravagant praise and merciless demonization ought to be met with a healthy dose of skepticism, at least until some direct knowledge has been attained.

So I listened to Kennedy on Rogan, Breaking Points, and Honestly, and to conversations about him on Bad Faith and the Fifth Column. I read measured critiquesby Vinay Prasad, and brutal assessments by Naomi Klein and Rebecca Traister. This took a lot of time as you can imagine, but at least I was able to form something resembling an informed opinion.

Kennedy believes with a high degree of subjective certainty many things that are likely to be false, or at best remain unsupported by the very evidence he cites. I discuss one such case below, pertaining to all-cause mortality associated with the Pfizer vaccine. But the evidence is ambiguous enough to create doubts, and the failure of many mainstream outlets and experts to acknowledge these doubts fuels suspicion in the public at large, making people receptive to exaggerated claims in the opposite direction.

Furthermore, the general themes that arise in Kennedy’s rhetoric—the corrupting influence of money in politics, the folly of military adventurism abroad, the smugness and failures of elite opinion, and the need for open and robust debate—will strike a chord with many voters across the ideological spectrum.

It’s an uphill campaign but I don’t think that it is doomed to failure. A couple of weeks ago, Adam Ozimek posted some prediction market prices according to which Kennedy had a 6.6% chance of securing the nomination. Chris Hayes thought that these prices were crazy, Conor Sen suspected that Russian money was involved, and many other replies echoed these sentiments. I felt, in contrast, that Kennedy was being underpriced by markets at that time. A few days later PredictIt listed the Kennedy contract in their nominee market, resulting in a huge spike in volume. The contract has traded in the 10-14 range ever since, ahead of Kamala Harris and behind Gavin Newsom:

These odds strike me as reasonable. If Kennedy surges, I suspect that Newsom will enter. And if Biden prevails regardless, his prospects in the general election will depend very much on the respect with which he treats Kennedy and his voters.

Of all the commentary that I have seen and heard on Kennedy’s candidacy and beliefs, the best by far is a Bad Faith episode in which Briahna Joy Gray presents the strongest case for each claim and Vinay Prasad responds thoughtfully on a case by case basis. But there is one important claim that they did not cover, and this concerns all-cause mortality associated with the Pfizer vaccine. Coleman Hughes mentioned this on the Fifth Column podcast, and observed that the alleged debunking of the claim by the AP made no sense at all.

Kennedy argues that according to Pfizer’s own data, the vaccine increases rather than decreases all-cause mortality. As Coleman observed, the attempt by the AP to debunk this claim is worse than useless:

This is an extraordinary response. The claim in question is not that the vaccine is ineffective in preventing death from COVID-19, but that these reduced risks are outweighed by an increased risk of death from other factors. I believe that the claim is false (for reasons discussed below), but it is not outrageous. This is the data to which Kennedy is referring:

The vaccinated group had fewer COVID-19 related deaths (one instead of two) but more deaths overall (fifteen rather than fourteen). In particular, there were more deaths from cardiac arrest (four instead of one). Kennedy interprets this as a consequence of the vaccine, while the researchers attribute it to random chance.

As discussed in this excellent post by Shin Jie Yong, the Pfizer study was not designed to detect differences in mortality risk, and participants were screened on entry to ensure that they were not especially vulnerable. As a result, the number of fatalities is too small (29 among 44,000 subjects) to make any confident statistical inference. Meanwhile, there are clear benefits of the vaccine in reducing rates of infection and severe disease (the filled in markers identify severe cases):

It is not unreasonable to suppose that among more vulnerable populations (who were excluded from the study by design), all-cause mortality would have been lower in the vaccinated group. Observational studies certainly seem to support this.

But the broader point here is that there may be groups in the population for whom the vaccine does not lower the risk of death. Even for such groups, one may encourage or even mandate vaccination in order to reduce transmission to those who are more vulnerable. But an honest debate would have to consider the extent to which the vaccine prevents infection and transmission, with a proper appraisal of the uncertainties involved. And on a range of issues—including vaccine mandates, masking recommendations, and school closures—an honest debate was not what we experienced.

This is fertile ground for the emergence of an insurgent campaign. Kennedy’s bid remains unlikely to succeed, but if his own party adopts a dismissive and contemptuous stance towards him and towards those whom he has mobilized, it will sink its own prospects. The proper and prudent response it to identify and absorb his legitimate concerns, while pushing back firmly but respectfully on the claims that lack merit.

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  1. John R Moffett

    If there is one thing we can’t have in this country anymore it’s an honest conversation. There are too many powerful and competing interests for that to happen. The corporate owned news will always skew the narrative toward the status quo and neoliberal policies. On top of that, dissenting voices are silenced and not given any opportunity to join the discussion.

    1. JayJay

      Amen. So here’s to RFK. For the first time in my 73 years, I’m tempted to work for a presidential candidate.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Involving yourself on a political campaign is a rush. It’s like going to church multiple times a week except better: your god is alive and has polling numbers.

          1. Arizona Slim

            And, Benny, I’m one of them. That’s why I’m a wee bit reluctant to volunteer for Bobby Kennedy or any of the other candidates.

            Add to this, the fact that I’ve recently launched a publishing venture, and let’s just say that I need to stay laser-focused on that mission.

          2. barefoot charley

            I supported Bernie and enjoyed his pan-flashing without the slightest hope that he could get the nomination. He was as much reality as could slip past the two-winged party monster–nowhere near enough. Same for Trump I guess, except he would double the estate tax exemption and not lie about it. That’s a powerful argument Bernie couldn’t make.

          3. some guy

            If they got to know eachother and lay the basis for lateral cross-organization among their several million selves, then their time was not wasted even if Bernie didn’t win anything in the end.

            If they didn’t get to know eachother, or having gotten to know eachother have not bothered to lay any bases for lateral cross-organization among their several million selves, then they have in the end wasted their own time and thrown away a potential strength and power-building nucleus they could have had.

      2. Rubicon

        The notion that RFK would win in the ’24 Election is preposterous. Didn’t we already learn that last time when the ’20 election which was stolen via Big Tech and Big Money.

        When RFK comes out and says, “things need to change” with the US judicial or political system.” It’s preposterous. Who is RFK’s poilitical manager, or does he even have one?

        At this point in time, it would take the power of Almighty God to save America, and its citizens. Sadly, He isn’t known to conduct such miracles when it comes to saving a highly corrupt country.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          It does not have to be stolen. Given that the Democratic party uses superdelegates, who will never vote for an insurgent, his odds of winning the nomination are zero.

        2. arihalli

          I don’t know if anyone has the ability to predict the ‘mood’ of the populus.

          It seemed incredible that Trump would topple the GOP and Democratic establishment parties and win the nomination. He was voted in on pure disenchantment. Is that disenchantment less or more then in 2016?

  2. JayJay

    Overegged the pudding? We are talking about an experimental vaccine that did not work. One death would be too many, and there have been many. And you can’t relitigate a case that hasn’t completed the discovery phase.

    1. chris

      The workings of the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna have been a topic of debate on NC for a while. But as a matter of rhetorical effect, I wonder why RFK doesn’t point out the original Anthrax debacle? Or the fact that most of the parents with young children in the US agree with him on the Covid vaccines? If you combine that with the fact that many people had bad reactions to the mRNA vaccines, we recently withdrew approval for the J&J vaccine, and vaccines like Shingrix have well know awful side effects, the case RFK Jr. is trying to make seems a lot stronger. Certainly the position of people like Hoteaz seems even weaker when you can easily point to all those recent issues. And certainly, the floor is wide open for rhetorical judo here. No one is stepping up to loudly proclaim the benefits of vaccines like the MMR or TDap Make these people go on the record for that. If they refuse to do so, then RFK Jr. goes from conspiracy crank to prophet.

    2. BeliTsari

      As someone who’d delayed a 2nd mRNA & boosted with Novavax due to injury. The WORST damage we see every day: CDC’s “vax, relax & unmask” non sequitur that’s very likely killed a couple million “excess mortality,” PASC damaged & indentured tens-of-millions of re-re-reinfected working class victims (basically, powerless to do anything & unable, even to inform ourselves; since much of what we’d learned was SEOd down Google’s memory hole, censored by libertarian think-tanks, declared disinformation by algorithms, we have no idea exist or is simply BS?) Vaccines were to get us poors back to our plantation, unmasked to serve Brunch, Happy Hour & ICUs devoid functional NPI or legal remedy, once they’d actually killed us?

      1. Apple

        What about the other vaccines RFK jr is against?

        The ones RFK jr claims gives children autism? Measles, rubella, whooping cough, polio, etc.

        Should we as a society sit down and try and figure out if vaccines are a good for society or an Ill?

        1. tardigras

          Last week (on Newsmax?) he said he is NOT anti-vaccine and is commonly misquoted on that point. He simply wants the FDA to provide long term safety data so you can make an informed consent. Vaccines are not subject to the same standards as drugs when it comes to this type of analysis. The MD he was debating was shocked to hear that.

            1. Arul

              VAERS has issues. Here are a couple of instances where this blog discussed them.



              I don’t mean to argue that RFK Jr is right, but the establishment has not exactly been a shining example of transparency. It is a known fact that there are multibillion dollar interests motivated to privilege vaccines over all other forms of intervention and cure.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                The complaint by RFK was the data is not available.

                The data is accessible but the problem is it is not complete with respect to Covid. Some attempted entries were been excluded by non-MDs acting like petty bureaucrats and some important tertiary hospitals could not be bothered to report (both drug and vaccine safety databases rely significantly on voluntary reporting). But the VAERS database is accessible. From what I can tell, the comparable FDA data on pharmaceuticals is not. And the data relies on required and voluntary reporting. The FDA seems to summarize data and provide alerts as well as allow access to the AERS database, but AERS seems to be aggregated, while I have the impression that VAERS was actually more (or at least no less) granular


                1. Uncle Doug

                  It should be remembered that VAERS is open to, indeed intended for, post-vaccination reports from absolutely anyone. There is no validation and the data is unfiltered, except that there is an effort to purge multiple reports of a single adverse event.

                  The CDC, FDA and other researchers are able to mine VAERS for valuable data, *and* it always contains many submissions that are confused, misguided or manipulative and sometimes deliberately fraudulent.



                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    IM Doc and others have found that MD submissions of reports to VAERS have been rejected for completely bogus reasons. So I would argue that anecdata suggests that VAERS is under, not over, reporting Covid vaccine injuries. Mine certainly isn’t in it, for instance, and neither is IM Doc’s (the tertiary hospital that treated his case could not be bothered) and IIRC at least two he tried to make on behalf of patients.

                    1. Uncle Doug

                      Given the widespread, longstanding controversy over vaccines in the US, and the fact that absolutely anyone can submit VAERS reports (and that a large number of “anyones” do just that), together with the explosion of the controversy during the Covid pandemic, it would be absolutely astonishing if Covid vaccine injuries were under-reported in VAERS.

                      That said, my point is just that raw VAERS data is simply too raw, and too erratic and inconsistent, to be more than input requiring filtration before analysis.

                    2. Yves Smith Post author

                      This is shifting grounds of the argument, which is bad faith. RFK, Jr. carried on as if the data was not readily accessible, that there was a transparency problem, as opposed to a quality problem. The point here is the accuracy of RFK Jr.’s attacks on the vaccine orthodoxy, which presents many valid targets, like depicting the Covid vaccines as sterlizing when they never were. RFK, Jr. does not make that claim but instead a demonstrably spurious one.

  3. Carolinian

    This is fertile ground for the emergence of an insurgent campaign.

    No, Kennedy’s views on Pfizer or vaccines in general are almost totally irrelevant to his candidacy. If Kennedy should prevail it will be as the anti Biden and the same is true if Trump should win. The zealous efforts of the MSM to ignore the elephant in the room–the insistence on an 80 year old man with dementia that he should be the most powerful person on the planet–suggests that if there are credibility problems then it would be theirs more than anybody else’s that we should be worried about.

    The Dem establishment are only going along with the farce because they think their control of the coverage will carry the day for their absurd premise. But it’s quite awhile until the election with Ukraine defeat and other factors looming. These are vastly more important than whether Kennedy is right or wrong about a vaccine that is fading into history. That’s exactly why they aren’t being talked about.

    1. Socal Rhino

      Anecdotally, Dem voters I have spoken with have him pegged as a vaccine crank. It’s the label, not the specifics that could give him a low ceiling. These people also opined that Hillary should be president.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Fought about this on Twitter over the weekend except with demexit types who want the focus to be on third party candidates. Talking about Biden’s crew visibly trying to orchestrate a nuclear incident at Zaporizhzhia doesn’t phase them at all because Putin is evil but they can’t explain why other than “invaded Ukraine!” and so you respond with Banderites and then they don’t want to talk to you anymore.

        Don’t let your friends off the hook. Say the things that make them uncomfortable. First rule of UNDOING PROPAGANDA CLUB is that you do not let any lies get past you. It’s all part of the same rotten picture and once you unravel one corner of their beliefs, all that’s been tightly packed will begin slowly leaking out like the sands of an hourglass.

        When you hear “but antivax!” simply reply “but Ukraine! but Joe Biden’s crime family! but FBI corruption! but Afghanistan! but Russiagate! etc.!” We have more buts (but there’s probably a better way to say that).

        1. Bsn

          Very good Mark. The same thing applies when in the company of others and someone spouts a racist comment. Now a days a “racist comment” can mean anything, so a recent example. A person I’ve only recently met, while we were all talking about travel and various cultures mentioned that Mexico was nice but the Mexicans that come across our border and/or live here are “bad” Mexicans. We can’t just let these comments go by. It was a short debate as I pressed him. Name a few bad Mexicans. Point out some bad Mexican actions. He fizzled away. Water on a witch.

        2. Screwball

          I hope you have had more luck with these people (those the propaganda club) than I have. I have come to the conclusion they are a waste of time and nothing I will say is going to change that.

          There is nothing you can say they don’t have an answer to – right or wrong – that’s what they are going to believe and how dare me to even question it.

          Russia is winning the war and Zelenski is one of the worlds greatest leaders. Putin is a fascist dictator who wants to take over Europe. He wants Donald Trump back in the White House (who he directly pays) to destroy America. They think, at some point, they will be killed by the Trump Red Hats who openly admit they want to kill liberals. The election might set this off or something else, but it’s coming – vote blue – your life depends on it.

          The media is in the tank for the GOP. Hunter Biden and Joe are as clean as falling snow. The media and the GOP are on a witch hunt over the laptop – none of which is true or to be believed. Kamala and Pete are rising stars in a stacked bench, Rachel Maddow is a top notch journalist, and they love Bill Kristal, Jennifer Rubin, Bellingcat, and any other propagandist who tells them what they want to hear.

          Vaccines were a miracle, didn’t harm anyone, should be mandatory for all, and anyone refusing them should be shot dead on sight (or close). Fauci is a national treasure, along with Hortez, Walenski, and Gates. Do NOT question the science, ever…

          I made the mistake of telling a few that Ukraine wasn’t winning the war. That was received by a bunch of gasps and head shakes at my ignorance. They looked at each other and one said “imagine rooting for Putin.”

          Good luck with these people, and I respect your efforts – I gave up long ago.

          1. Phenix

            Please avoid these people. Luckily most of the people who share these thoughts have zero martial skills unfortunately they can “win” elections.

            I am a leftist but I work with a lot of conservative Republicans or libertarians. We are able to talk about issues because I am a mix of a social conservative…mainly on kink in public which is sadly a corporate pride month push. We mostly agree that people should stay away from our children.

            I do not talk to anyone that espouses woke ideology. The people talk politics with all go the other way. We know that they will go after our jobs.

            I’ve talked several people into pro-peace position and a national healthcare system since our plan is something like 20 an hour…we would all take a chunk of that then pay an 8% tax/fee for healthcare.

        3. Nikkikat

          I just hit these dummies with the fact that Biden mandated these at the very least
          Crappy non sterilizing vacccines. He mandated that people take a vaccine that was not tested for the most part. I will never get over this fact. Mandated vaccines. With not a care whether they actually worked. Forced people to do this or lose their lively hood. Forced people to possibly be vaccine injured, or you can’t work! I think this should be the focus on Biden among the many bad things about Biden. This is where he became a wannabe dictator. I would impeach Biden for this issue alone.

          1. endlessly_curious

            The vaccines were tested and they are now among the most tested pharmaceuticals in history. Do you understand that if the vaccines caused vaccine injury that the world’s medical establishments would be overwhelmed? You cannot hide much in 2023. Everyone has a smartphone. 3 billion vaccinated. That is a huge number. That means that huge numbers of vaccine injured yet…, nothing.

            Vaccine mandates have been around for a hundred years and the only people mandated were government workers. Employers can provide those mandates, it is not new. I haven’t seen other President’s overturn them.

            I’m no Biden fan but a dictator? How? He is your typical neoliberal like most of the POTUS we have had the last few decades. Were all the other POTUS dictators too because we had vaccine mandates? Like I said, that isn’t a novelty, we have had them for 100 years.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              The vaccines were NOT “among the most tested.” The safety testing was light and the testing concentrated on efficacy.

              The safety signal of the increase in all cause mortality was ignored. IM Doc, who spent ~15 years on an Institutional Review Board, said that normally the trial would have been halted and more studies on safety would have been performed.

              And Pfizer and Moderna made it impossible to properly track vaccine safety for even as little as a year by quickly offering the placebo pool the vaccines, nearly all of whom took it. That too is a huge departure from normal practice and vitiates your “most tested” claim.

              I had a vaccine injury and had to have a medical procedure. My records in NY, which is very vaccine gung ho, attributes the condition to the vaccine. IM Doc had a vaccine injury that required treatment managed by an expert out of a tertiary hospital. Our aide had to go to the ER for severe vasticulitis which they attributed to the vaccine and said if she got there much later she would have been in a lot of trouble.

              IM Doc has patients that were injured, one that died, and VAERS would not take their reports. Menstrual disruption is now acknowledged as an effect and some women have lost their periods permanently. There are many cases of strokes within 48 hours of the vaccines. A friend has 4 within her circle and none were seen as at risk of stroke. Oh, and none were reported to VAERS because the patients and MDs were not disposed to see them as connected.

              The issue of second trimester miscarriages, which are normally extremely rare, is also being ignored. IIRC IM Doc has seen three or four in his small hospital in the last year, when in his entire past career, he saw two and at least one of those two was trauma induced (car accident).

      2. Carolinian

        If he had never mentioned vaccines they would find some other reason to shove him aside. Think Dean Scream. Arguably this has been the role of the media for decades now. Think Gary Hart or Dukakis/tank.

        My argument is that the prospect of four more years of Biden is so horrifying that Kennedy may have a chance. Kunstler and others claim Biden is never going to make it to the next election, perhaps his announcement is some kind of placeholder.

      3. endlesslycurious

        He is a vaccine crank. As an autistic person, he has been responsible for a considerable amount of damage to our community. We have children being sent to “conversion camps” so that the autism can be cured. We have autistic adults being given shock therapy. I could go on but this insistence that autism is “caused” by something rather than the truth which we are born this way, is incredibly dangerous and leads people to think this is an illness rather than a neurotype. Our brain is different than most. We do not have autism, we are autism.

        People including Dem voters are going into the specifics. I have seen people discuss his views in depth including people who identify as hardcore leftist. I would not presume that people will not dig into his views. It is unfortunate because he has done some good but he also is a kook. It is like he is throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks.

    2. chris

      I think Team Blue can keep the Ukraine farce going through the primary season but it will crash come the general. I believe the assessments of critics behind US support who aren’t Russphobes are accurate. Just like it would have taken nearly 2 million boots on the ground to subdue all of Iraq, it will take a lot more soldiers in Ukraine for Russia to claim a total victory. But perhaps completely shredding Ukraine and removing it’s capability to wage war effectively is possible with a smaller force, resulting in the predicted rump state? I don’t know.

      What I do know is the reality distortion field presented by the powers that be will either become their saving grace or their downfall this election season. Either it will be so obvious that they’re lying that voters won’t be able to take them seriously or it will be so impossible to know what is real that voters won’t be able to credibly doubt them. I can see a future where we are told about another letter signed by 50 different intelligence officials that reports of Odessa falling to the Russians has all the hallmarks of a GRU operation and should not be published in the media for general consumption…

    3. jsn

      If Ukraine is winning, so is Biden.

      Thus far, the media are making the message.

      When exactly did Bagdad Bob lose his job?

    4. digi_owl

      Almost like they want Biden there in the hopes that he keels over during the term, passing the presidency to the VP that they really want to lead.

      1. endlesslycurious

        You think anyone wants Harris to lead. The most invisible VP maybe ever. If you want someone to lead, you give them the spotlight. You keep them in front of the public. Harris practically doesn’t exist. She isn’t popular, why would anyone want her to lead?

        1. some guy

          The Financialist Community would like her to be President when they set off their next Great Financial Crash so that they can get the same immunity/impunity gift from her that they got from Biden. She proved she would do it by doing it for Mnuchin when Atty. General of California.

          So the Financialists definitely want Harris to be ” the one who leads”.

    5. Benny Profane

      The same Dem establishment that’s performing a real life Weekend at Bernie’s by wheeling Fienstein in and out of Congress every day.

    6. DJ Forestree

      Carolinian writes: “an 80 year old man with dementia that he should be the most powerful person on the planet”. I would say that this is one of those myths that the American MSM, the nation’s politicians and its corporate establishment, and probably most American citizens like repeating over and over again, when in fact it’s probably not true at this point in history (if it ever was).
      The old man with dementia mentioned above has at his disposal huge destructive power, and he nominally sits at the top of a government that exerts decisive influence over a minority [the “international community” (IC), and then some beyond the IC] of the world population. Jumping from that to the statement about him being “the most powerful person on the planet” seems more than a bit of an exaggeration IMHO.

      1. Carolinian

        I don’t think the absurdity is proportionate to the power. By any measure Joe Biden as president–twice!–is an absurd notion.

        But arguably no Joe Biden as president and no war in Ukraine and no tens of thousands of dead young men so that’s quite a lot of power whether or not it’s the most power. The buck does stop with him and not his twittish advisors.

        1. Mike

          And… getting rid of him will not make the cause of wars or autocratic government go away. We are part of a system that includes major parts of the bureaucracy in the federal and state administrations, plus a ton of sycophants and wallet-blinded employees who gather at the sound of kaching. Yes, there are alternatives to be chosen, but the catch is they must “perform” within the cesspool of lobbyists, bribers and persuaders who can turn one persons head anywhere along the 360° path (as if politicians have never been persuaded to follow contrary paths before!). Voting for any such token, like Bernie, leads to heartache and ultimate disappointment (definition of betrayalcould be added). One man alone changes little- he or she needs backing, support staff and maybe aload of propaganda ala Bernays.

          1. Carolinian

            Well come next year’s SC Dem primary I’m not voting for Biden–that’s for sure. Perhaps the “if it would make a difference they wouldn’t let us do it” argument is true much of the time but not all of the time.

  4. Socal Rhino

    I saw an interview with RFK in a town hall format. He made some statements of fact that could be proved or disproved. One was that there were open questions about the chicken pox vaccine’s long term risks, and that unlike the US, Europe does not mandate the vaccine. The other was that no vaccines receive the same standard of placebo based safety testing as other drugs, and that when challenged in a suit, Fauci had ultimately admitted this was true. Vaccine testing focuses on effectiveness. Given that, and the fact that the vaccine didn’t prevent transmission, led him to oppose the mandate, not the vaccine.

    Regardless, he is getting the Bernie treatment by the mainstream press, while every marginal Republican contender gets airtime (e,g, Haley, Christie).

    1. Greg Taylor

      In the town-hall, RFK Jr. pointed out that the 1986 law exempting vaccine manufacturers from liability created bad incentives that have corrupted industry-controlled research on efficacy and long-term side effects. They’ve also promoted an excessive number of vaccines (and an expanded definition of “vaccine”). Hard to argue with RFK Jr. on this – he’d aim for better policies and incentives if elected. Not sure why Sethi misses this.

      1. fringe element

        He covered this in the Rogan interview too. If it were up to me to explain his position on vaccines to someone, I would say that he is against regulatory capture not vaccines.

        1. Stephen V

          Exactly fringe e! Being a lazy sort in some areas and knowing about the get out of jail free card from 1986 and the “market” in patent rights coupled with the $125k/ year limit on royalties to Fowlchi and his buddies, I haven’t waded into the stats analysis needed to make an informed decision on the vax.

        2. John Mc

          RFK jr also made the claim that the red line for so many of these disorders we did not see in the same numbers or samples in previous generations occurred in 1989 (when the deregulatory piece met with new vaccination regimes/aginents) – after the Reagan administration okay’ed the lack of downstream litigation.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Thanks for giving this context, Yves, especially with IMDOC’s experiences.

    So here’s another datapoint not about RFKjr, but about his campaign. The podcast “Can RFK Really Change the World?,” is hosted by Aubrey Marcus, a self-described “human optimizer,” fitness expert, ayahuasca advocate and Aaron Rogers advisor. Marcus’s guest, Charles Eisenstein, is a writer with an orientation toward New Age ideas and generally Lefty politics. Eisenstein describes himself as a member of Kennedy’s “inner circle” after becoming acquainted with Bobby because both wrote essays passionately opposing the “lockdowns.”

    It’s interesting to hear these two describe the reasons they’re such strong supporters of Kennedy and what they see in him. I heard a little of myself talking about Bernie during his two runs. Both have had extended personal interactions with Kennedy and put all their emphasis on his personal qualities rather than any issue positions. Hmmm. So I offer this not as some sort of guilt-by-association (“The kooks support a kook!) because I like some of Eisenstein’s ideas. Instead, it gave me something to think about in terms of the ways people put such hope in politicians to rescue this situation.

    I don’t know if either Marcus or Eisenstein was invited to attend Omeed Malik’s cool Vegas party with Hillary and other A-listers. If so, I hope Marcus was seated next to the perennially frustrated Presidential candidate. She could use some ayahuasca. (Couldn’t we all?)

  6. Thomas Schmidt

    I have a 100% effective method of keeping people from dying from cancer: throw anyone with cancer off the Empire State Building.

    We would never evaluate cancer drugs just on whether they prevent deaths from cancer, but whether they lead to greater survival over five years. If the study lacks sufficient power to show that the Pfizer vaccine leads to a worse result, why is such a study not ongoing? Saving one life from Covid but losing more lives from side effects looks like a really bad deal.

    1. Victor Sciamarelli

      You raised a good point about side effects. RFK Jr remarked that the US is one of only two countries, the other being New Zealand, that allows direct to consumer advertising of prescription drugs on TV. The result is that Americans consume 3-4 times the amount of prescription drugs as Europeans. And Kennedy points out that the side effects can include depression or suicidal thoughts.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        RFK really has nailed the cozy relationship between Big Pharma and the feds. The problem is what is he going to do about it. When Krystal Ball asked him if nationalizing pharmaceuticals was the answer, he replied emphatically, “Oh no!” When she pressed him, asking if the profit motive wasn’t the problem, he answered, “The profit motive is human nature.”

        He does not support M4A. His answer about the climate catastrophe is to rely on markets but make the pricing reflect externalities. He does not seem able to imagine a situation where a real lockdown following by testing, tracing and quarantine would be warranted. He seems to really be a Libertarian, and I don’t see how someone with that mindset will make much headway against our problems.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          I want to retract my accusation–and to me it is an accusation–that RFKjr is a libertarian. I’ve been listening to a fascinating interview of Kennedy done by Reason, the most obnoxious of the Randians, and that’s saying something. As I noted above, I based that opinion on Kennedy’s interview by Ball, and one possibility for my wrong inference is that Kennedy seems to like being a little contrarian in his interviews. No problem with that. He’d fit in well with us around here.

          Kennedy stands up strongly against these arrogant a-holes on a couple of things. First, they were asking about regulating companies on environmental matters. Kennedy said it was necessary because otherwise you ended up with the tragedy of the commons (not the most sophisticated understanding of that concept, but…). So, of course, they came back with, “Doesn’t that mean we should minimize commons, allow property rights to extend to these resources? “That’s how you got Runnymede,” Kennedy said. “King John was trying to privatize the river, set up tolls on the Thames. It’s basically anti-democratic.” That didn’t make the Randy boys too happy.

          Then they went to free speech, and after setting him by getting him to talk about Youtube censorship, etc., they play a ’14 clip of him at an environmental protest saying the Kochs belonged in jail for funding climate denial. He didn’t back off. He brought up how a Republican New York state AG had revoked the charter of the Tobacco Institute for lying for decades about the dangers of tobacco. He would use the government to bring actions to revoke charters of these billionaire institutes that lie for the purpose of deceiving the public. (But Bobby, what about the Great Barrington Declaration?)

          So I came away assured that he is not a libertarian, But he is also definitely not a socialist or even a Sanders-style liberal.

          1. Victor Sciamarelli

            I agree that RFK Jr is not a libertarian and I saw the Reason interview, but I disagree that he does not support M4A. He has made it clear that as president he would not have the power to create a gigantic new agency, through legislation, and bring it whole into being; it wasn’t realistic and anybody who said they could do it wasn’t serious.
            This type of legislation requires multiple steps and perhaps a generation to completely implement. Kennedy’s plan is to introduce the public option to Medicare. This would allow time for the system to expand, work out the kinks, and allow time for the public and business to adjust to a new way of doing things. His endgame is M4A (his words), his tactics are a bit different.

            1. marym

              When M4A legislation was first proposed in 2003 the bureaucratic infrastructure was already there.

              If RFKJ said that by now the subsequent privatization of parts of that infrastructure would be difficult to unwind he’d have a point, but it would be a pretty defeatist point.

              Original Medicare was implemented in one year.

              1. Victor Sciamarelli

                Unfortunately, today’s DP does not support M4A. The DNC, congressional leaders like Pelosi, Jeffries, and Schumer don’t support M4A. If somehow it came up for a vote it would not pass.
                It may seem unimaginable but when Medicare passed in 1965 the Dems controlled the Senate 68-32; 57 D and 13 R voted yes. With the exception of two years the DP controlled the House for three decades. In 1965 they held a majority 293-140; 237 D voted yes. Moreover, unlike the current cardboard cutout for a president, President Johnson was a politician with considerable political skills.
                I think RFK Jr has a real solution with the public option. A president Kennedy, or any president for that matter, can exercise more control and influence over the military budget than other areas, and Kennedy wants to rein in the military. This could provide savings and leverage to persuade Dems to approve the public option as a step toward M4A.

                1. marym

                  Proposals for a so-called public option allowing people to buy into an increasingly privatized-for-profit public insurance system while also retaining the existing for-profit insurance system are even less likely to lead to universal healthcare today than when Obama pretended to be for it before he didn’t care about it.

                  People made numerous coherent arguments against a public option in 2009, at a time when there were at least some proposals being discussed about incorporating features and criteria to make it not so bad.


                  Retaining and strengthening the private-for-profit system and it’s inroads in public systems is no more “a step toward M4A” today than it would have been in 2009.

                  RFKJ was an educated adult with an interest in public policy at that time. He doesn’t get a pass to pretend to have invented some new idea that will magically work this time in terms either of appealing to establishment Congressional Democrats or of actually leading to universal healthcare.

                  1. Victor Sciamarelli

                    You offer no solution and zero hope. The DP is influenced and dominated by its liberal wing which includes Obama, the Clintons, Pelosi, Schumer, and Biden, et al., and they are adamantly opposed to M4A; same goes for the RP. In other words, M4A will never happen.
                    In contrast, RFK, Jr., publicly announced his support for M4A under a plan of first introducing a public option and expanding the base of participants.
                    Like most Americans, I think healthcare is a crucial issue and fundamental change requires a presidential candidate not chosen by the liberal wing. Thus, I will support RFK, Jr.

            2. Whiteylockmandoubled

              Oh ffs, why would he have to create a whole new agency and bring it into existence? CMS exists. It’s a thing.

              It oversees both existing Medicare and the federal role in Medicaid. Eliminate the latter, eliminate the whole idiotic need to oversee Medicare Advantage enrollment and you’d have a lot of administrative capacity to take on additional expansion work. CMS pays hospitals and doctors already. In fact the payment structure for US hospitals (DRG-based IPPS) is the same analytic system used by most countries with universal coverage systems.

              There would be a lot of work to do if M4A became law, but this idea that M4A requires creating something “omg totally brand new!!!” is dopey.

          2. Phenix

            The Breaking Point interview was terrible. Krystal Ball is a personal friend of Marianne Williamson. Williamson officiated Ball’s wedding and the happy couple were the ones that pushed Williamson to run for office.

            Kim Iverson did a video on Ball’s financial incentives for lockdowns and vaccines after that hit job/interview aired. If you read the comments on any Dem primary video you see her own viewers lambast Ball and ask for Saagar to leave and for a new show.

            Her own viewers voted that video down…I did not renew my support of BP. I’ll probably send that to another media outfit.

            The 2nd BP interview was not bad.

            1. chris

              It’s not wrong to support lockdowns IMO. It’s wrong to support how we implemented lockdowns in the US. We had so many other choices and so many ways we could have communicated with, and supported, everyone who was affected. We made really bad choices. I think it’s like you can be opposed to drunk people driving without being opposed to driving in general.

              1. Phenix

                Krystal and Kyle or it was her ex husband were made investments into companies that were profiting off of the lockdowns and school closures.

                Krystal never disclosed this information and it paints her in a bad light….I guess. She is still an imperialist liberal. Her economic opinions are usually good.

          3. Valerie in Australia

            There is also a very good interview with RFK by Glenn Greenwald on System Update. Greenwald also does a reflection on the interview in a separate episode which is very interesting.

      2. Thomas Schmidt

        One of my lessons from Covid is not to trust any medium that derives revenue from Pharma about Pharma. The constant drumbeat of drug ads never penetrated my consciousness but now I cannot unsee it. Any channel that takes any drug ad cannot afford to be critical of any drug lest it lose the revenue from it.

        NC, by contrast, has become MORE valued by me because it takes no drug ad money. I’m glad to chip in my contribution here.

    2. Alphonse

      Maybe this is obvious, but the Empire State Building thought experiment doesn’t just show why it’s necessary to look at all cause mortality. It caricatures the mechanism by which a bad vaccine could appear to prevent virus deaths.

      Suppose you had a virus that caused people with weak hearts to die of heart attacks. Say you developed a vaccine whose only effect was that it that weakened the heart, resulting in some people who took it dying of heart attacks. The vaccine might appear effective: fewer vaccinated people die from the virus. But what the vaccine would actually be doing is pulling forward the deaths of some of the people most vulnerable to the virus, killing them before the virus had a chance.

      I am not suggesting and do not believe that this is what the Covid vaccines do. I just want to emphasize that the Empire State effect is not at all silly.

      1. chris

        I guess I’m tired of all the vaccine fetishism. A vaccine is one tool. One method. But the goal is health. The target is finding a preventative medicine that helps with the problem of a disease. I don’t care what credentialed cranks with bow ties have to say about vaccines. I want good medicine. If the vaccines we’re provided are good medicine, that’s great. If they’re not, we need to improve. And the problem with these vaccines is that we know the tests weren’t great, we know they lied about the benefits, we know they suppressed any information about complications and real vaccine injuries, we know that they did not react to questions about effects like menstrual issues until forced, and we know that the contractual issues behind these vaccines are so favorable to the manufacturers that they seem wrong. It’s hard to defend what vaccines have become post COVID because of the people pushing this story in the media while ignoring all those details I just mentioned. Even though it appears the mRNA vaccines were beneficial in some ways, the costs were too high to not discuss all the related problems.

        And there’s this… Pakistan and Afghanistan have been Polio reservoirs for years. We were asking strides to help that until 2011. What happened in 2011? Well, our intelligence officials abused a vaccine program.

        Given that, would you trust the people pushing vaccines in our country?

        1. Thomas Schmidt

          Yeah, the absolute destruction of trust is the biggest tragedy of Covid. Like you, I think the vaccines were beneficial for some people. Understanding who that group is has become impossible because of the drumbeat to require EVERYONE to take them drowning out real investigation of numbers. I don’t know where public health goes to get its credibility back.

          1. Carla

            To get its credibility back, public health will have to start being PUBLIC health. The last few years have proven, at least to me, that in a for-profit-healthcare environment, that’s impossible. I am beyond being upset or distressed about this. I am absolutely disgusted.

        2. rob

          I have to add to the list of abuses by “our government”, the very real possibility that THIS covid era, MAY have been caused by the incompetence of “our governments” money, which funded the program that MAY have leaked their “creation”(the covid virus with the furin cleavage site added), to the whole world.
          We may be talking about a situation where our dear leaders both screw up the response, in every way profitable, while the whole issue is the carnage of their actions.
          How can we really do worse?

      2. Thomas Schmidt

        It’s not my thought experiment. It originates with an English doctor whose bugaboo is statins and cholesterol, who wrote a book called Doctoring Data. The goal of any treatment isn’t to prevent you from dying of X while increasing your chances of dying from Y; it’s to lower your overall chances of dying; that’s why cancer drugs evaluate the 5-year survival rate overall, since killing people by heart attach while they survive dying of cancer is kind of pointless.

        One other conclusion from the Pfizer data (and whatever anyone wants to say about Pfizer data, the design of the study was good) is this: since 2 people died in the unvaxxed group and 1 in the vaxxed group, and both were about the same size (22k), you need to vaccinate about 22,000 people to save one death from Covid. If that’s true, then vaccination could save a maximum of 15 thousand lives in the USA, given that there are about 330MM people and there are 15,000 sets of 22,000 of them.

  7. RookieEMT

    After two Bernie campaigns, I’m being much more picky on who I support. Also, a not so healthy emotional desire in watching the Democratic party collapse.

    If they double down on Biden, then I wonder if it’s over for the Dems. Who’s left to pickup the pieces and repair the party?

    1. JonnyJames

      The party is beyond repair. It’s time to demand a new electoral system, and new political parties.

      Sanders is dishonest and a hypocrite: he’s Sheepdog who always herds his followers to the D party camp. He then drops out, and tells everyone that the future of US democracy depends on them voting for the right-wing authoritarian crook with a D after their name. In US pres. elections,, both candidates are always right-wing authoritarians. See

  8. mrsyk

    BTW, is there an Amber Alert out for Cornel West? Haven’t seen or heard from him in a rather long time.

  9. Jackiebass63

    I listened to him speak once for 10min. That is all I could stand. He will never get my vot. He is entitled to his views but not to his facts. If his last name wasn’t Kennedy he would be a nothing.

    1. Bsn

      I’m curious. Was there one subject that you heard in that 10 minutes or did he touch on a few? I Disagree with him on a few fronts but mostly I am in accord. I can’t say that about any other candidate.

    2. Milton

      I thought you were going to touch on his strained voice being the reason. I can’t listen to him for too long because of it but I will go out of my way to read his speech transcripts. For me, my biggest strike against him, would be the same as with Tulsi, his fealty to empire. But he has good reason, I guess, having first-hand experience as to what happens when one crosses the entrenched state.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I have heard him say that he believes the CIA were behind his uncle’s assassination, with reasons to back this up, and that the state “Intelligence” apparatus has gotten too entrenched for a robust democracy. This is fealty to empire?

  10. Oh

    RFK Jr. receives my applause for his environmental lawsuits. As regards the Covid vaccine from Pfizer, he’s probably right to blame them for deaths. From what I’ve read from links at NC it looks like the trials were performed poorly and probably rigged. I have a hunch that Fauci had a hand in this. It burns me that the USG gave away the patent rights to Pfizer and Moderna after spending public funds for coming up with the vaccine. Thanks Trump and Biden!

    I suspect that RFK Jr. will not get the nomination no matter what. Biden and the Democrat party will make sure of that. With the duopoly in the political system anybody hoping for an honest candidate from either party needs to have his/her examined. The system needs a wholesale overhaul.

    1. ISL

      I am reminded of the saying that when the tide goes out you see who are swimming naked – RFK Jr plus Joe Biden’s enfeeblement are a tide that will expose the anti-democratic character of the democratic party leading nauseated voters to do the unexpected – not sure what. A massive protest vote for ……. (fill in the blank – probably far right)?? I am sure the DNC will NOT do the right thing – honor the vote, there is too much $$ at stake.

      Particularly, Kennedy’s claim that as a trial lawyer, he has decades of successful experience fighting the regulatory capture (with campaign donations), that makes a mockery of “we the people.” No candidate for decades has had a snowballs chance of addressing or even cared to try. But RFK Jr is facing a very different political class than Nader did – unserious candidates to the job of empire management (by leaving it to the mandarins). Of course the media (ad revenue from the industries profiting from regulatory capture) avoids focusing on RFK Jr’s primary message – no surprise there.

      In any case, it will accelerate US prestige-loss globally – as the US looks less and less a stable society (compared to its peer competitors), while the demilitarization of NATO on the killing fields of Ukraine are toppling one of the key (trillion dollar) US support pillars.

    2. Benny Profane

      RFK begins his chest beating by taking about his environmental achievements, and it’s great that he directed some energy towards that, but, he rode a wave of momentum that saw our industries vanish to other parts of the world, and bring our pollution with them. In one recent interview he talked about the Hudson turning different colors, and the color du jour was whatever the cars were being painted at the Tarrytown plant. Well, that plant doesn’t exist anymore, closed, oh, late 80s, early nineties (?), and is now a condo complex with a view. So much can be said for most of the industry in upstate NY, now an industrial and employment wasteland. But, the Kennedys are summering at Hyannis, as usual, and he’s doing pretty well extracting a nice salary from his law firm, making the world a cleaner place. Ka ching.

  11. Joe Well

    The most damning accusation against RFK Jr. is that he has helped spread hesitancy for childhood vaccines for years, claiming they have mercury (they haven’t since 2001), especially as president of Children’s Health Defense.

    Of course, the lies and posturing around the Pfizer vaccine have given him credibility and everyone who defends Pfizer only helps. And the fact that they are defending the vaccine now that it can do fairly little good in the face of current variants and widespread community immunity, just makes it more obvious they’re corporate shills.

    And yes, his appeal is just as a “middle finger” candidate. If you put a gun to my head and made me vote for president, I would vote for him over Biden or any Establishment candidate.

    1. Joe Well

      So, if they don’t take out the mercury, they’re bad, and if they do take out the mercury, they’re bad?

      1. chris

        Because they found something cheaper/better/more beneficial to replace it with? Because after reviewing they exercised the precautionary principle to make sure what they were giving to children was as safe as possible?

        See this is what I meant in my post up above. The people pushing all this have screwed up so many ways that even topics with simple answers get obfuscated. And the question that keeps driving all these issues is consistently ignored: what are we doing to our kids?

        Are we seeing more US kids with autism, with disabilities, with obesity, because we’re so much better at screening and all kinds of demographics are getting better interventions which recognize these problems?

        Or is it that we’ve made a society that creates sick kids? Especially if they’re coming from poor families. Or maybe we’ve created a society where even the people with access to resources and good healthcare are forced to wait so long to have kids that the risks of having children with all kinds of difficulties when they’re born to older parents is increased? Or maybe we’re just poisoning everybody?

        We have real health problems in this country. We need real answers. We need a national healthcare system! But instead all we get a well paid pharmasluts hawking crap on TV.

    2. tevhatch

      Who made the quote: “Thiomersal does not cause Autism ans is perfectly safe! But we took it our of the vaccines anyway so. what are you complaining about?”

      1. tevhatch

        That can be a good sign and it can be a bad sign. I’d only note it is impracticable to do testing without eventually using extremely large groups, which is why monitoring and reporting on new drugs is necessary. A downside of drugs being with drawn over safety effects is they may reduce the pool of available treatments to those who truly benefit. That’s why a raw number or even a set of numbers isn’t terribly useful without context.

        1. ISL

          Or, industry tests are skewed and captured regulators look the other way until the lawsuits mean they cant anymore. I have seen a few (peer reviewed) published studies of drug efficacy professionally pulled apart – so why are the studies not done by third parties? Its a system designed to create conflicts of interest and bad drugs, and the opposite of informed consent.

          Your argument suggests eliminating any regulation of big pharma. You might look up Vioxx to see how bad that solution can be.

          1. tevhatch

            “Your argument suggests eliminating any regulation of big pharma. You might look up Vioxx to see how bad that solution can be.”

            Really? I don’t know myself as well as you do then.

            “That can be a good sign and it can be a bad sign.” Interpret this then, it should be interesting.

            1. ISL

              “I’d only note it is impracticable to do testing without eventually using extremely large groups”

              Suggests testing is impractical.

              My argument, is one should test without the evident conflicts of interest that leads to a highly predictable outcome – unsafe and ineffective drugs presented as an option when they are not, and obscuring from doctors those drugs that are effective – particularly repurposed pharmaceuticals which already have passed the large group test, but are not profitable.

              “Show me the incentive and I will tell you the outcome” Munger

              1. tevhatch

                “Suggests testing is impractical.” To you. To me it suggest that sample sizes have to grow to cover more and more variability in humans, which is exactly why government oversight of a continual monitoring of drugs upon release is necessary, and by the way, even early testing is done on humans. They may not be your nationality, maybe not from your class, but they are humans.

    3. Carla

      “widespread community immunity” — huh? did I miss something?

      I don’t understand the meaning of that phrase when applied to a virus that is constantly mutating, with surges of infection and reinfection continuing to disable and kill victims worldwide.

      1. tevhatch

        Think small pox or the flu in white people vs. the first nations/native populations of the “New” world. It kills in both populations, but with highly variable depending on populations “immunity” rates. Not pleasant idea, but extermination of the virus isn’t practicable under current management, heck, they may have even created it.

        1. Raymond Sim

          This is slightly, but significantly inaccurate.

          Past early infancy, ‘Immunity’ to smallpox is acquired via exposure to the smallpox virus or closely related pathogens, one way or another.

          For any given pathogen some individual’s immune systems will be worse at coping with the disease than others. This cannot be equated to their possessing ‘weaker’ immune systems however, as the phenomenon is often quite pathogen-specific, and greater resistance to one threat may confer increased vulnerability to another.

          As a species we cope with this via genetic diversity. Extremely severe diseases like smallpox reduce that diversity in the populations they afflict, and thus potentially weaken them.

  12. Bsn

    In the overall debate or history regarding these Pfized vaccines, it is easy to “knit pick” a small portion of the study and pull off a “gotcha” on Kennedy, or anyone else. However, the weight of the evidence showing the danger and ineffectiveness of these vaccines is overwhelming. Consider EU batches being placebos, Phizer’s docs showing 1.6 million adverse events, vaginal bleeds, 54% of the pregnant women in P. trial with AEs, observing spike protein on it’s own (without nucleocapsid protein present) in the brain – direct result of vax (not Covid itself). I, and many others, could go on and on. Focussing on one small portion of Pfizer’s study is a fool’s errand. This writer picks up one one portion of the studies and ignores the rest. Kennedy does not.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Actually I would say our biggest problem is the underwhelming nature of the evidence available to us. Additionally, important topics remain sufficiently triggering to pro- and anti-vaccine types alike as to be taboo.

      For instance, what percentage of vaccine injuries occur in patients with undiagnosed persistent SARS-COV-2 infections? Nobdy with an axe to grind wants to know.

      Another example: Right now our point on the SARS/Covid timeline corresponds to about 1975 on the HIV/AIDS timeline. Immune dysfunction comparable to that seen in AIDS is already being described in Long Covid patients. That’s about 5 years ahead of schedule. Cognitive dysfunction similar to that seen with Covid also occurs with HIV infection, again usually much later in the course of disease. In other words right now Covid is on track to be worse than AIDS, potentially much worse.

  13. Victor Sciamarelli

    RFK Jr might not be 100% correct about vaccines but he also said, “Show me the evidence where I got it wrong and I’ll change my position.” Is being wrong disqualifying for president? Joe Biden was wrong about the Afghan and Iraq War, and he’s now wrong about Ukraine. He used his position as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to push for the invasion of Iraq and to persuade others Dems to support it as well. Was Biden ever accused of leading a conspiracy?
    It’s clear RFK Jr supports the science. He said numerous times that he and his children are vaccinated. Kennedy, however, has a problem with some of the scientists and agencies, like those at the CDC and NIH, who he asserts are corporate compromised.
    Moreover, there were protocols in place to handle a potential pandemic like Covid, such as using existing remedies that were potentially effective. According to Kennedy, the protocols were ignored in favor of lockdowns and an emergency push for new vaccines.
    The US was the most vaccinated country, yet, we had more death and worse outcomes than every other industrial country and many poorer countries. More than one million Americans died during Covid. We should know what happened.
    It’s worth noting the World Health Organization is 30% funded by governments. The remainder comes from private sources, 88% of which comes from Bill Gates, an investor in MRA vaccines, and who played an influential public role during Covid.

    1. Joe Well

      The US is very far from the most vaccinated country, and that has been reported so widely and discussed so much that I’m not going to bother getting a link. Where on earth did you get the idea that the US was the most vaccinated country? Seriously, I’m curious. It’s like saying the ocean is dry. The fact that people can be so misinformed goes a long way to understanding the appeal of quacks like RFK Jr.

      1. Victor Sciamarelli

        It was somewhat misleading to say the US is the most vaccinated since countries like India and China have massive populations.
        Nonetheless, according to the NYT Covid Tracker, updated March 23, 2023, the US vaccinated 80% of its people which is roughly in line with the G-20 countries. Yet, it administered 633 million doses which puts it third in the world behind China and India.
        The problem is the death rate. RFK Jr said the US has 4% of the world’s population but 16% of the Covid deaths. Thus, the question is why do poor countries like Vietnam (45 deaths per 100,000), Cuba (75 deaths per 100,000) and India (39 deaths per 100,000) or a rich country like Germany (203 deaths per 100,000) all have fewer deaths than the US (342 deaths per 100,000).

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Making Shit Up is not on here.

          Here is a list of countries over 85% vaccinated. First column vaccinated second column fully vaccinated:

          Macau >99% >99%

          Brunei >99%* >99%*

          U.A.E. >99%* >99%*

          Qatar >99% >99%

          Samoa 97%* 90%*

          Nepal 97% 85%

          Chile 95%* 93%*

          Malta 95% 94%

          Portugal 95%* 87%*

          Nicaragua 95% 92%

          Cuba 95% 88%

          Vietnam 94%* 89%*

          Mainland China 94%* 91%*

          Peru 93% 88%

          Hong Kong 93% 91%

          Bangladesh 93% 84%

          Cambodia 93% 89%

          Canada 92%* 84%*

          Argentina 92% 78%

          Taiwan 92% 87%

          Bhutan 92%* 89%*

          Costa Rica 91%* 85%*

          Singapore 90%* 90%*

          Brazil 90% 83%

          Mauritius 89% 86%

          Ecuador 88% 82%

          Malaysia 88% 86%

          Spain 88% 87%

          Australia 88%* 85%*

          New Zealand 87%* 84%*

          Uruguay 87% 84%

          South Korea 87% 86%

          Kiribati 86% 69%

          Iceland 86%* 80%*

          Colombia 85%* 73%*

          Aruba 85% 79%

          So advanced economies actually did poorly on vaccination.

          And pop size is no excuse. China is 91% vaccinated. Vietnam is 94% vaccinated

          India’s vaccination rate at 75^ is comparable to Germany’s at 78%.

          The vaccination data does not align at all with your claims. I’m not saying they weren’t overhyped but you are really distorting facts.

          1. ChrisPacific

            I would also quibble with the definition of ‘vaccinated’ as having received a single dose. A single dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is not an approved treatment for Covid anywhere in the world as far as I know (and the evidence I have seen suggests the effect is minimal). I’d describe that as ‘partially vaccinated’, even leaving aside the question of boosters.

            Assuming VS is relying on CDC numbers (and leaving aside the many problems with their data gathering methodology) the fully vaccinated number for the US is 70%. This is an unusually large falloff between doses and leaves them with an even worse placing.

          2. Victor Sciamarelli

            I saw the same list but the crucial question raised by RFK Jr, as I mentioned above, is that with 4% of the world’s population why did the US have 16% of Covid deaths?
            How relevant were the vaccines? Nigeria is the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined but its population of 230 million is 7-times larger than these two states; Nigeria is crowded. It fully vaccinated only 26% of its people, yet, there were merely 2 deaths/100k people.
            Yemen is small and poor and fully vaccinated only 2.6% of the population and reported 7 deaths/100k people. In contrast, 68% of Americans were fully vaccinated and 342 deaths/100k people were reported. What gives? How does Nigeria with 2/3 the population of the US, mostly unvaccinated, do better than the US?
            Kennedy said that prior to Covid a US law was in place such that in the event of a pandemic if potential remedies existed to mitigate the disease, which he said did in fact exist, then “emergency” authority cannot be granted to new vaccines. Kennedy questioned the motives of those in charge who claimed no remedy existed and pushed for the “emergency” authority and a multi-billion dollar case for new vaccines.
            He also said lockdowns were known to make things worse and that the prior protocol called for isolating the sick; not lockdowns.
            Like most readers, Kennedy is aware that Big Pharma spends millions advertising their products on tv and there is reason to question the influence of Big Pharma on the news reports, the integrity of the reporters, and what Americans were told and/or prevented from learning.
            Therefore, should there be an investigation into the motives of the people who made crucial decisions during Covid?

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Our GM, who looked at vaccine reporting all over the world and has lived in distressed countries, thinks the reporting out of Africa is terrible and thus cannot be relied upon.

              Specifically with Central Africa, Vitamin D has been shown to greatly reduce the incidence of severe outcomes. 20 minutes of full body sun = 20,000 IU of Vitamin D.

              The problem with Kennedy’s line on the vaccines is they do reduce deaths. The skeptics’ case is the increase in all cause mortality is due to vaccines, when is pretty certain it is due to the health cost of getting Covid and may also be due to the health cost of getting vaccines, and we lack the data to pick the two apart. A second argument is getting boosted frequently actually appears to increase the odds of getting non-lethal Covid cases and thus can be increasing negative health effects, particularly getting Long Covid.

              So Kennedy isn’t making factually well grounded arguments against the vaccines. I saw this in his book. I found examples even in one chapter of him footnoting studies and having flat out misrepresented what they said.

              Lockdowns were effective, see Australia and South Korea. Vietnam, as we pointed out early on, was on to ventilation. Open windows in hospitals and therefore low death rates compared to ours in hospitals.

              One big issue is our pretty much vax only approach. A secondary one was limited access to tests. A third is our poor medical system.

              The problem is we did only what amounted to partial lockdowns and have had poor mask compliance. I have argued a big reason all of Southeast Asia has done better is high mask use, I was in Bangkok in February and about 80% were using masks.

              And as for other explanations, how about our generally poor state of public health, high level of obesity (a big Covid-co-morbidity), and grossly overpriced medical care system? Thailand now has longer life expectancy than the US, as an example. Why isn’t RFK, Jr. railing about that?

              1. Lmcdel

                He is. Listen to his announcement speech. His concerns for the health of the American populace are much broader than vaccines. Chronic childhood illness and obesity, chemicals in our food, water and environment, captured CDC and FDA etc. He is getting all the attention for the vaccines due to his recent work and book, and media trying to smear him. But he has said it is not a big part of his platform.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  None of those issues address our lack of a single payer health care system. Your list confirms my point. The rest of the world generally has as much or more in the way of environmental toxins. The rest of the world is also adopting the Western diet and some countries have higher rates of diabetes than the US, with the US ranked #59 ( The underlying problems are not particularly American but our very poor outcomes are. Again, Thailand now has a longer life expectance at birth, despite high air pollution in most parts of the country, particularly during the months when they burn off crops.

              2. Victor Sciamarelli

                I agreed with most of what you wrote, especially the “poor state of public health, high level of obesity, and grossly overpriced medical care system.” My intuitive reaction, however, is that, if a new Covid variant appears in February 2025 which turned humans into hairless zombies within hours, I would rather have RFK, Jr., running the store then any of the low voltage delinquents like Trump, Biden, Desantis, et al.
                I think Biden is a dangerous president largely because he is convinced American values are universal values. Thus, he views governments that don’t explicitly do things our way as a threat.
                I think RFK, Jr., who is not without faults, is a better hope for the country and the world.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      “Show me the evidence where I got it wrong and I’ll change my position”

      This is just a clever litigator’s trick to switch the burden of proof, not an indicator of open-mindedness. He uses this any time someone challenges him on a scientific basis. He’s running for President with a largely hostile press, so his use of such tactics is understandable, but it’s still a debate device.

    3. Basil Pesto

      Moreover, there were protocols in place to handle a potential pandemic like Covid, such as using existing remedies that were potentially effective. According to Kennedy, the protocols were ignored in favor of lockdowns and an emergency push for new vaccines.

      Funny. The last lockdown before Covid was in Samoa in December 2019. It was a lockdown to control a measles outbreak that killed
      dozens of children. These deaths would have been completely preventable with routine child measles vaccination in the population, but such a programme had been undermined in large part because Samoa had become a hotbed for unscrupulous anti-vax dickheads including RFK Jr himself, who visited Samoa in 2019 before the outbreak to spread the bad word. The lockdown controlled the spread and bought time to vaccinate those who needed it, which brought the outbreak under control.

      He’s a moron, a charlatan, and a scumbag. So it’s easy to understand his electoral appeal, notwithstanding the supplementary commentary of Vinay Prasad-endorsing economists. I really do try not to spend too many of my waking hours thinking about him not just because I fear that liquefied grey matter will start leaking out of my ears if I do so for too long, but because it’s truly a pointless waste of time. Either the likely thing happens and he stays an irrelevant political blip remembered only for being Cheryl Hines’ husband, or he flukes his way to the presidency and everything stays shit for America and the world for another 4-8 years, given that beyond his eccentric little grifty ecosystem, he remains a generic Obaman neoliberal capitalist. It is nice and, as they say, wonderfully clarifying to know where he and his grotesquely named org stands on dead samoan kiddies though. And my, doesn’t the playbook described in that article sound awfully familiar? – there’s a certain delicious irony that after all the inane vaccine fearmongering stateside in the last two years, and the pantomime villain hysteria, RFK Jr may well have had a hand in more vaccine-adjacent deaths of children than the devil Fauci himself, based on his Samoan escapades alone!)

      1. JBird4049

        I have questions about the vaccines myself although I am vaccinated for all sorts of diseases. My problems are with the declarations of complete vaccine safety has started to sound like “Because we say so!” of the Covid vaccines as well as the barrage of closely spaced shots in children. When I add the medical disasters caused by the increasing incompetence, corruption, and regulatory capture of a number of federal agencies like the CDC, FDA, and agriculture I worry more.

        That grifters, fools, and mentally deficient people have decided to say that all vaccines are dangerous and/or unnecessary does not challenge my concerns at all.

        All this being so, I am less unhappy about JFK’s stance on vaccines than one might think. However, do to our federal, state, and municipal governments’ collective corruption and incompetence dealing with Covid, people are more likely to not take the vaccines that are safe and do work, if someone like JFK has any questions about them. But, ultimately, it is the fault of the government for those fears not being calmly, honestly, and respectfully by them.

  14. tevhatch

    I just hope he can admit to himself that he made mistakes and is able to allow all sides of an argument to be heard. If he can do that he’s already way ahead of everyone except Cornel West.

  15. aj

    No more political dynasties. I refuse to vote for anyone from a family that has already held the presidency. No more Bushes, Clintons, Kennedys, Trumps, Obamas etc. We were supposed to have ditched hereditary monarchy in the 1700s

    1. John

      You forgot the Adams and Harrison and Roosevelt families each of which already has two presidents. Is your distaste quantitative or qualitative? Were I to subscribe to your positin, it would be on qualitative grounds.

      1. tevhatch

        What about the Vanderbilt, Rockefellers, and all the Boston Brahmans, those who have owned the administrations for eons, and where JFK threatened the Rockerfeller’s gold mine in Indonesia, had them removed then from office.

    2. Geo

      Agreed. But, people seem to love their celebrities, chain restaurants, franchise films, and name brand products. Easier to sell name recognition than quality.

  16. swangeese

    Meant as a reply to Monkeypaws. D’oh!

    As an autist, I’m decidedly not an RFK jr fan. He can be correct on the Covid vaccine and FDA skepticism, but he has also done a lot of harm by persuading parents not to give their children tried and true childhood vaccinations by scaring them about autism.

    Autism likely has both a genetic and/or environmental cause. In my case, it runs on my dad’s side of the family and skips around. The environmental cause (or influencer) may be something that sadly a parent can’t control for like plastics and other pollution. I follow autism research and there is a whole lot about it that we simply don’t know about.

    Anyway regarding mercury and childhood vaccines:

    Basically there was a law passed in 1997 that required a review of all mercury containing food and drugs. The mercury limit was based on methylmecury and not ethylmercury (thiomersal). It was determined that mercury exposure of 6 month olds due to vaccination only exceeded EPA guidelines.

    However there was a debate amongst scientists on whether or not to remove it from vaccines and the compromise was to remove thiomersal because childhood vaccination is more important than keeping a preservative that can be replaced.

    Wikipedia (yeah I know) link

  17. Susan the other

    IMO anyone except Harris is better than Biden. But I’m not crazy about RFK because I’m a cryptophobe and he likes crypto. When it comes to foreign policy he has good sense. Funny thing watching Col Mcgregor on YouTube – he’s entertaining running on an RFK ticket – and he even gave a nod to crypto which immediately told me he doesn’t know hot rocks about money. The US isn’t gonna go belly up from debt anymore than the rest of the planet will. Debt is just the accounting system. It makes me smile to imagine what crypto debt (as opposed to sovereign) would look like… in no time flat. At least then the absurdity of it all would be pretty obvious.

    1. Joe Well

      You’re right that the US federal government can’t go belly up from debt, nor can the UK or a number of other governments. Other countries have gone belly up from debt because their debt was denominated in US dollars or another foreign currency, and when their own currency inevitably depreciated (nothing goes up or even stays flat forever), the debts became hard to pay back. A very few US state and municipal governments have gone belly up because they’re not the currency issuer.

    2. Pat

      No Buttigieg? Please don’t forget Manchin who was threatening to run. I would include Lieberman in this but he was talking a No Labels run. Both Biden and Harris are hideous human beings with disastrous instincts and policies, but the bottom of the barrel they inhabit is very very crowded.
      If the last few decades are any indication you can pretty much guarantee that anyone they don’t actively try to kneecap in a primary and certainly anyone they nominate are going to be people that shouldn’t be anywhere near power, not even on a Congressional level much less Presidential.

  18. Boomheist

    I had never heard one sentence spoken directly by RFKJr in all these years, until about two weeks ago, and of course have over the years built this belief he is a crank, a conspiracy theorist, and a wacko, not to mention my own strong personal bias against anything Kennedy-family related (or any family dynastic situation). So when I finally did steel myself to actually listen to this man – which itself required swallowing and forcing myself to stand the sound of his voice – which I did at I think his latest Town hall (Newsmax?) I was fully expecting to watch for about three minutes, confirm all my sour beliefs, and change the channel. I am a five times vaxxed, 3 years without Covid 76 year old man, born and raised in Massachusetts so familiar with the Kennedy story. My wife and I avoided the MRA vaccines and elected J&J which seemed more “traditional” and which did not promise to save us from Covid, only promised to avoid serious hospitalization and death, but of course then our boosters were all either Moderna or Pfizer. I got covid though a month ago anyway, despite being careful, wearing a mask in close public places, no idea how, started with muscle aches in the back then a cough and sniffles and a slight fever which lasted only a day, then days of great fatigue, sleep and listlessness. Tested positive for 13 days then finally negative, and now much better, back to normal routines. Point being, I have never been an anti-vaxxer and have dismissed all the theories about nasty plots and lies and devious motives. But, at the same time, and in parallel, the Wuhan Lab theory was something that seemed and seems to me to be the Most Likely Cause of Covid and this is being confirmed, so now what about vaccines? Anyway, all this to say that I approached Kennedy with a great anti bias based on what I had rrad about him and my own faith in the medical establishment (which I still have) and not being an anti-vaxser.
    I watched the Town Hall, then other Town halls, then a bunch of interviews, as the author of this post did, over the last week and a half, and I am astonished to state that pretty much everything Kennedy says I agree with, even some of his anti-vax or needing-further-research-vax ideas. He seems the only candidate speaking the truth about basic taboo subjects in our discourse – the empire, the power of pharma, the destruction of unions and the middle class. He seems all over the Internet now, but maybe this is just the algorhythm, but if not then his message and views are being seen by more and more among us.
    This is of course Biden’s and the PMC and the DNC’s worst nightmare. But this may also be Trump’s worst nightmare as well. I recall from 2016, before the election, driving cross country after a gig on the last mershant ship I sailed on, seeing in many red states good old boys and their wives with Bernie stickers, which immediately shifted to Trump when Bernie was killed by the DNC. I am wondering now if RFKJr may strike the American electorate with the same sort of sudden and enormous shock as Trump did back in 2016 – someone not from within the comfortable political single-party PMC corporate system serving a great hunegr among the electorate that every year is pushed down by the political class.
    In 1980 John Anderson ran as a third party and Reagan beat Carter. He may have beaten Carter anyway, but Anderson bled votes from Carter. In 1992 Ross Perot pretty much delivered the election to Clinton from HW Bush. If RFKJr ends up running as a third party this time, this may deliver the country to Trump, in fact probably will, but who knows? However, if RFKJr smokes Biden in the early primaries watch out. Right now the PMC and the Commentariat and the MSM continue to sniff and tut-tut about this whacko with a difficult past having in their views only the famous name. We shall see.
    Anyway this is a damn long way of saying I came to actually listen to this man talk with a huge chip on my shoulder and all the negative bias from what everyone else has been saying and I now come away startled and somewhat shocked to seeing that I agree with his positions in almost every case.

    1. RookieEMT

      Ain’t it just fascinating. I don’t like his statements on Israel but when talks about the border disaster or foreign policy it’s like… hearing minute upon minute of truth.

      What I’ve noticed is the overwhelming majority of comments on any youtube video from his interviews being positive. Including people claiming to be libertarians and republicans saying they will actually vote for him.

      1. wexstein's sanhedrin

        Why does Israel always get a pass, even over and above the vaunted US imperial machine?

    2. Bruno

      Amazingly, not a single comment above has mentioned the decisive issue about the RFKjr. candidacy: THE ASSASSINATIONS. The most important fact about US politics for the last 60 years is that the controllers of the police-military-Intelligence establishment carried out a successful coup d’état and have remained in “deep” command of the State ever since. Kennedy–and noone else (not even the King family)–has expressed recognition of that reality. But no radical change in US politics that does not *begin* with such recognition is and will remain totally impossible. Of course, Kennedy (whatever his animadversions about things like crypto) is right about the central current issue–the war against Russia. But that isn’t even the main thing. The kennedy-haters (far from unrepresented here) are totally, 100%
      wrong. It is his NAME that centers the assassination-deep state issue. That is what counts.

      1. John

        Thank you Boomheist. I am in general agreement with your views on RFK jr. so I shall not repeat what you an other commenters have already. said. The Covid vaccines issue is a tangle of conflicting views, politics, marketing, hyperbole, and pure nonsense such that I surrendered and stopped trying to make sense of it, which may be exactly what some parties hoped would happen. There are many issues that I think more central to the presidency. I prefer to focus on those.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Perhaps President RFKjr might declassify a few documents related to the series of assassinations in the 1960s. I wonder who might be disturbed by that idea.

  19. Onward to Dystopia

    I know it’s weird I don’t care about the vax issue very much, or I don’t have a particularly strong opinion on it — I know it’s important, but the way I see it, it’s been made clear we’re not getting Medicare 4all, minimum wage is gonna stay at $7.25 forever, we’ll always find another war to flush money down the hole, mass shootings every other day, infrastructure collapsing, and life is just gonna get worse…it just feels like the vax is a busy box (perhaps Deep State Approved) as things collapse around us at this point.

    He’s also bad on Israel, throwing Roger Waters under the bus, running as a Democrat, the whole crypto razzle dazzle. RFK jr. hasn’t gone on many Leftist podcasts lately that I know of — and I bet that’s because the aforementioned list would only get longer with that sunlight exposure. But perhaps worse of all, him going to dinner with Hillary Clinton, Mike Pompeo and Larry Summers in Las Vegas ???

    If he’s really committed to running in the Dem party, they ain’t gonna let him win anyway, and they won’t even need to cheat because the Dem primary voters, perhaps the most propagandized population in the world, will eat him alive.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      This is my take as well. We’re not going to vote our way out of the issues we have. Furthermore, if we could, RFKJ isn’t the vote that will do it.

    2. Acacia

      If he’s really committed to running in the Dem party, they ain’t gonna let him win anyway…

      Yes. Isn’t this is 800 lb. gorilla in the room?

      The article sort of vaguely gestures towards this point in the final paragraph, but if RJK jr. doesn’t fully support the DNC agenda, they will absolutely block him, getting Obama to stab Kennedy in the back, throw him under the bus, call in favors from media hacks to smear him as a crank, whatever it takes.

      Agree with JohnnyJames on this, just below.

      Na ga happen.

  20. JonnyJames

    Sorry to be doom and gloom skeptic (realist?) but we cannot expect to elect a savior to fix broken and corrupt institutions of power.

    Money is legally defined as free speech, unlimited political bribery is formalized. The US has no functioning democracy.

    As we see in plain sight: SCOTUS, Congress and the office of POTUS are institutionally corrupt.
    The two-party dictatorship and the oligarchy they represent have a stranglehold over the political process. The Mass Media Cartel dictate public discourse: they tell us what to think, what to talk about – it is becoming, or already has become, dystopian

    The US is an oligarchy, not a democracy, even Jimmy Carter said this.

    If we want to change things, we first have to emerge from the denial phase: we don’t have a functioning democracy, even loosely defined.

    Some say I “waste” my vote by writing in candidates, but I refuse to “vote” for an amoral sociopath, no matter if they have a D or R after their name. It is pretty sad when we are told to vote, and then are told we “wasted” our vote because we didn’t vote for the pre-selected candidate. It’s Orwellian

    Will I “vote” for RFK? For symbolic purposes perhaps, but I don’t think he will make it past the primary. He will pull a Sheepdog Sanders: bow out, and then tell everyone to vote for the right-wing authoritarian D candidate (Biden or whoever)

  21. Societal Illusions

    As discussed in this excellent post by Shin Jie Yong, the Pfizer study was not designed to detect differences in mortality risk

    so it hasn’t been studied at all? why not?

  22. Benny Profane

    Screw all this vaccine talk. I want a robust debate about this idiotic and dangerous Project Ukraine, and the only two political figures who can bring that are RFK Jr. And Trump.

    1. JonnyJames

      Trump is a re-tread. He had 4 years and did nothing but continue US imperialism, despite the cheap blah blah, Why do people believe the BS? A nation of suckers?

      What he did do was move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (as far as I know, an illegal act), he assassinated Iranian Gen., Suleimani, a crime and act of war, he bombed Syria (war crime), gave Israel more support for the Genocide of Palestine, continued to support UkroNazis, illegally blockaded Venezuela, Cuba etc. Told bald-faced lies about China, escalating tensions and on and on
      He appoitned John freakin Bolton and Fat Mike Pompeo ffs! Let’s wake up from the fairly-tale

      1. sharonsj

        There is no genocide of Palestinians. Their population has only grown exponentially larger. Jews, on the other hand, have been ethnically cleansed from every Muslim country (only Iran retains about 10% of its Jews).

    2. Mikel

      “I want a robust debate about this idiotic and dangerous Project Ukraine…”


  23. castilleja

    RFK Jr. is the only federal level candidate I can recall in my adult life who talks in something other than platitudes or soundbites. I am very tired of all the sniping at him.

  24. Jeremy Grimm

    When Jill Stein ran for President in 2016 the press labelled her as ant-vax, e.g.: “Jill Stein May Not Be Anti-Vax, But She’s Pushing A Dangerous Anti-Vax Theory: We know a dog whistle when we hear one.”
    The u.s. Media seem remarkably lacking in creativity. I guess — “why reinvent the wheel?”

    I like this quote from that article:
    “While Stein is not strictly “anti-vaccine,” she is promoting a narrative that the vaccine regulation process in the U.S. is corrupt and untrustworthy ― a common refrain from actual anti-vaxxers. In fact, the U.S. vaccine regulatory process is a global model for how any drug should be tested and approved before hitting the market, several vaccine experts told The Huffington Post.”

    Sound familiar?

  25. Jeremy Grimm

    One aspect of the general brouhaha — not just RFKjr smears — around vaccines that I believe deserves more attention is the radical regulatory easing of the constraints on the testing, and approval process for drugs and vaccines. Big Pharma has a range of applications for their mRNA vaccines that they have long wanted to free up for use in the Market:
    “Can mRNA Vaccines Help Treat Cancer?”
    “In fact, scientists at both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna drew on their experience developing mRNA cancer vaccines to create their coronavirus vaccines. Now, some investigators believe the success of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines could help accelerate clinical research on mRNA vaccines to treat cancer.”

    “As stunningly successful as the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been…” [from that same article] —
    I am skeptical about unleashing their super powers on the Populace through what I regard as radical regulatory easing of the drug development and vaccine development.

    As for JFKjr, he has my vote for the Democratic primary. He is not Biden and he is not the selection of the party bosses. I am inclined to vote for Cornell West in the general election, depending on how things look at that time.

  26. Bru

    According to the “Summary Basis for Regulatory Action” document released on November 8, 2021, by the FDA, there were 21 deaths in the COMIRNATY group and 17 deaths in the placebo group. Page 23:

    From Dose 1 through the March 13, 2021 data cutoff date, there were a total of 38
    deaths, 21 in the COMIRNATY group and 17 in the placebo group. None of the deaths
    were considered related to vaccination.

  27. John Mc

    I think the central issue here with RFK jr is who is the most capable of unwinding the empire (from a Unipolar miasma that we have gotten into with Bush jr, Obama, Trump and Biden) into a Multipolar global competitor focused on the people who live in the US, safety, health, and economic fairness. This may be too high minded to hope for — but it will certainly not happen under the rest of the creep crawlies (not including Dr. West in that, would love for him to play a role in this. Plus Dennis Kucinich would be a powerful running mate, making it undesirable to assassinate a 3rd Kennedy by the intelligence/military arms of the US imperialism.

  28. rob

    one point in favor of RFK jr. would be that he fits the description of micheal hudson’s / aristotle’s point about the cycle democracies that go from democracies to oligarchys to aristocracies back to democracies ; when a minor member of an aristocracy(the kennedy’s), uses his proximity to power to get the people behind him , to usurp power from the leaders of the governing class, by using popular support as a means to achieve power . Which then begins the democracy phase of the cycle again.
    So maybe he can be a useful idiot to the people’s agenda? Far-fetched ,I know. But there it is.

  29. rob

    Another point about RFK’s run ,as a democrat, and Cornel West’s… of the green party.

    Is that what we need is a party of IDEAS. And NOT of people/personality/celebrity.

    People always fail to hold up to what is needed. We all have opinions, patterns, weaknesses that should not be baked into what people are voting for.
    We need to have a party , where the ideas are what people vote for. And if it turns out that on the way to materializing these ideas, the main ball carriers show themselves to be foolish, untrustworthy, flawed, etc., the idea can be separated from the people who are in control of the party, and live. While the people can be jettisoned.

    We have this now, except that the way we have been led into this neoliberal dystopian present by the likes of the policy community , who live under the guise of ongoing groups/think-tanks like the council on foreign relations and the like, which have existed for 100 years and spawned the myriad of actors moving the world in this enfeebled direction we are now on. Their main tool is money. And the creation of money. The creation of markets. These help those who help the group by always being funded. They always will have endeavors outlasting their lives. The never-ending stream of money, has built the machine that keeps us all oppressed. Everyone who fights the establishment, either runs out of money, or time. Everyone dies. But corporations, trusts, and institutions are trying to be immortal. They have a competitive edge.
    the people only have ideas.
    Ideas are bullet-proof. you can’t kill an idea.

  30. Raymond Sim

    I haven’t been keeping up with political news, but Twitter accounts I read are quoting RFK jr as having asserted that infectious diseases are not a tremendous threat to human health. Is that correct? If so, can anyone fill in some of the context in which he said it?

    Having spent much of the past couple weeks trying to learn more about infectious diseases and their sequelae, I can’t think of many things a politician might say in public that would more thoroughly antagonize me.

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