For many years now, the internet has been giving celebrity vaccine deniers like Jenny McCarthy a lot of grief, on account of all the, you know, children killed due to vaccine refusals. Apparently some of that finally got through, because over the weekend McCarthy published an aggrieved op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times claiming she's been misrepresented:
I am not "anti-vaccine." This is not a change in my stance nor is it a new position that I have recently adopted. For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, "pro-vaccine" and for years I have been wrongly branded as "anti-vaccine." [Chicago Sun-Times]
Nope! As detailed here and here, McCarthy has, for years, loudly and angrily asserted scientifically false things about vaccines: most prominently, that they're filled with toxins, and that they cause autism. No, this is a tactical retreat to a less outrageous anti-vaccine position, motivated by the total scientific and ethical collapse of the purported vaccine-autism link. Because despite her attempted whitewash of history, McCarthy is still effectively scaremongering about vaccines:
I believe in the importance of a vaccine program and I believe parents have the right to choose one poke per visit. I've never told anyone to not vaccinate. Should a child with the flu receive six vaccines in one doctor visit? Should a child with a compromised immune system be treated the same way as a robust, healthy child? Shouldn't a child with a family history of vaccine reactions have a different plan? Or at least the right to ask questions? [Chicago Sun-Times]
As Aaron Carroll points out, these less alarming "questions" about vaccines are either strawmen or scientifically bogus:
She asks that we consider the "gray zone." But in many areas, there is no gray zone. Do vaccines cause autism? No... Do they overwhelm the immune system? No... She's conflating totally different things here... She asks if a sick kid should get vaccines. If they're not more than mildly ill, yes. Maybe if they'd gotten the flu vaccine they wouldn't have the flu. She brings up immunocompromised kids, but they absolutely do get considered differently already. No decent physician would not consider a child's individual medical history. Same with those kids with a history of adverse reactions. We consent people for vaccines, and ask if they've had bad reactions before.
And no one, absolutely no physician I know, refuses to answer the questions of parents. [The Incidental Economist]
Yet again, she's been sowing scientific controversy where there is none. Sorry we hurt your feelings, Jenny, but lives are literally at stake here. Ryan Cooper
Hours after he was sworn in on Friday, President Trump signed an executive order making it his administration's official policy "to seek the prompt repeal" of the Affordable Care Act, though he can't repeal it without a bill from Congress. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the order's goal is "minimizing the economic burden" of "ObamaCare," giving the Health and Human Service Department and other federal agencies authority to try and ease the "fiscal burden" the law purportedly places on states, health care companies, and individuals. A Fox News poll on Thursday found that 50 percent of Americans view ObamaCare favorably and 46 unfavorably, a notable improvement in the law's standing from previous Fox News surveys.
Trump "has been told that he needs to comply with the law," Timothy Jost, an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, tells CNN, "but is directing the agencies to begin taking steps towards reducing regulatory requirements and giving more discretion to the states." Priebus also issued a memo telling all executive agencies to freeze pending regulations and delay enacting ones already approved. Such memoranda are pretty common for incoming administrations — former President Barack Obama's chief of staff issued a similar one in 2009.
Right after his inauguration, featuring a speech that scorched the do-nothing politicians in Washington, Trump had officially nominated his Cabinet choices in an office just off the Senate floor, surrounded by congressional leaders from both parties. It involved a lot of pen-swapping awkward jokes about who likes which Cabinet nominee. Watch below. Peter Weber
When WhiteHouse.gov abruptly switched over from the Obama administration to the Trump administration on Friday afternoon, President Trump's biography immediately popped up, with a technically correct and very Trumpian recounting of his business career and presidential victory. First lady Melania Trump's biography touted her modeling career — including her "major layouts" in "the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Allure, Vogue, Self, Glamour, Vanity Fair, and Elle" — plus her "numerous television commercials and television programs" ("including co-hosting The View with Barbara Walters") and her own business acumen.
"Melania is also a successful entrepreneur," the bio says. "In April 2010, Melania Trump launched her own jewelry collection, ‘Melania™ Timepieces & Jewelry,’ on QVC" — or at least it originally included that plug, according to The Washington Post. By Friday night, Melania Trump's bio just said that "in April 2010, Melania Trump launched her own jewelry collection." The Post gives some context: "It is not uncommon for the White House to note the accomplishments of the first lady in her official biography, but Trump's decision to include a detailed list of her media appearances and branded retail goods is unusual."
In any case, QVC told The Washington Post it no longer carries Trump's jewelry. Trump's biography also notes that her "penchant and passion for the arts, architecture, design, fashion, and beauty... can only be surpassed by her dedication to helping others, and her generosity has been noted." Her focus as first lady will be "issue impacting women and children," the bio concludes, "and she has focused her platform as first lady on the problem of cyber bullying among our youth." You can read more about Melania Trump and her life and work at WhiteHouse.gov. Peter Weber
At the Freedom Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C., on Friday night, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump took the stage for their first dance to the song "My Way," made famous by the late Frank Sinatra and written by Paul Anka based on a French song by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. Trump had refused to rehearse the dance, CNN reports, and he set it up by talking about his victory in the presidential race, promising action and not talk, and marveling that the rain only poured once he was done with his inaugural speech. "My Way" was performed by a trio of vocalists:
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, came out halfway through — the Pences looked like they had rehearsed, or like dancing together — and Trump's children came out for the end of the song. Sinatra's daughter, Nancy Sinatra, wasn't necessarily impressed with Trump's selection for his first dance, saying on Twitter, “Just remember the first line of the song." Though, honestly, Anka's opening lyrics — "And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain" — is no less inappropriate an inauguration song than The Rolling Stones' "Heart of Stone." Peter Weber
Donald Trump played a lot of different songs during his presidential campaign — from the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" to the Puccini aria "Nessun Dorma" — but rival Hilary Clinton was known mostly for one song, Rachel Platten's "Fight Song." So of course, at Donald Trump's first inaugural ball, the Freedom Ball, the group The Piano Guys played "Fight Song," as part of a medley with the hymn "Amazing Grace." The ball's other performances were mostly vocal jazz standards and show tunes, starting with the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht song "Mack the Knife," about a serial killer.
Poaching Clinton's trademark campaign anthem could be seen as a fig leaf, or something closer to the presumed message of "You Can't Always Get What You Want." To be fair, the "Fight Song"-"Amazing Grace" mash-up is one of the novelty group's hits. You can watch their video of it below. Peter Weber
Washington, D.C., interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said Friday evening that police had arrested 217 people for rioting during a day of Inauguration Day protests throughout the city, demonstrating against President Trump. A "very small percentage" of the thousands of protesters were violent, he said, though that faction caused "significant damage" along a number of blocks. Protesters blocked several security checkpoints, and a group of "black bloc" anticapitalist, antifascist activists threw rocks and bricks at police, smashed windows, set a handful of trash cans and a limousine ablaze. Police responded with chemical spray and flash-bang or stun grenades.
"It's a little jarring when you're in a peaceful march with drumming and chanting and the next thing you know flash bangs are going off around you," Daniel Hultquist, a protester from Rhode Island, told The Washington Post. "People that throw rocks and bricks are undermining the cause." As people got out of work, anti-Trump protesters also gathered in cities around the country, including Nashville, San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta, Portland, and Seattle. You can see the burning limo in the Inauguration Day roundup from The Associated Press' Julie Pace below. Peter Weber
After confirming Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday evening, 98-1, the Senate approved the nomination of former retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly as secretary of homeland security, 88-11. Kelly, who retired last year as head of the U.S. Southern Command, will take over a department with more than 240,000 employees who oversee everything from border security to protecting the president and America's electrical grid. Among Kelly's most controversial items on his roster of duties will be carrying out Trump's orders on immigration and building a Mexico-U.S. border wall.
Trump said at a luncheon after his inauguration that Mattis and Kelly were straight from "central casting," pointing specifically to his new defense secretary. "If I'm doing a movie, I'd pick you, Gen. Mattis," he said. Trump reportedly took looks into serious consideration when assembling his Cabinet. Peter Weber
Despite a beautiful sunrise over Washington, D.C., on election day, the skies turned cloudy with scattered light rain on Inauguration Day. Maybe that's why President Trump's inaugural crowd was notably smaller than former President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration — when he was also, to be fair, the first African American to be sworn in as president — and also Obama's crowd after he was re-elected in 2013. Also, maybe the weather is why CNN decided to show video of Obama's 2013 crowd and Trump's 2017 swearing-in side-by-side, without comment:
Other possibilities: Obama had more high-wattage star power at both inaugurations, and home-team advantage — only 4.1 percent of Washington, D.C., voted for Trump in the election (versus 91 percent for Hillary Clinton), versus Obama's 91 percent in 2012 and 92 percent in 2008. Clinton also won neighboring Maryland and Virginia. Trump, of course, won the Electoral College, which is why he is president. Peter Weber