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Live blogging the autism hearing

November 29th, 2012 · 3 Comments · Facepalm

You can watch the House Committee on Government Operations and Reform online HERE.

12:59 pm CT – Joe Biden is shopping for children’s books at Costco. Welcome to C-Span 3.

1:00 – OK, here we go. Chairman Darrel Issa reminds us that the mission of the committee is to make sure tax money isn’t wasted. The topic today, he tells us, transcends partisan politics.

“If the numbers grow from 1:88, then we will in fact have an epidemic.”

” The committee will be acting as a conduit of information for the rest of congress.

Issa thanks Brian Hooker of Focus Autism for bringing autism to the committee’s attention. Hooker is a regular contributor to AgeOfAutism, Whale. to, NaturalNews and other anti-vaccine websites.

1:10 – Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), promised retiring Dan Burton that his work will be carried on.

1:13 – Burton:  “Contrary to how the media have portrayed me, I am not anti-vaccine.” OK, then.

He’s on a roll now. “It wasn’t so bad when a child gets one or two or three vaccines… Mercury accumulates in the brain until it has to be chelated.”  This guy is totally unrepentant for the problems he’s caused.

It doesn’t sound like Burton is aware that thimerosal has been absent from childhood vaccines for ten years.

“(Children with vaccine induced autism) will live for another 67 years, and they will be burden on society, and on their parents.”

Burton is so crazy, that the SAFE MINDS guy will come off as calm and rational.

1:20 – Rep.Danny Davis (D-Chicago) thanks Burton for using his position as chairman to bring attention to autism.

1:22 – Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) – He recalls the language snuck into a Homeland Security bill ten years ago that would have shielded drug companies from liability for poisoning people with thimerosal. “This is a new beginning, and I salute the chair for making it, but it goes well beyond thimerosal and includes coal.”

1:26 – Issa introduces Dr. Alan Guttmacher from the NIH, and Dr. Colleen Boyle from the CDC.

The two witnesses are sworn in.  A-CHAMP was hand-wringing in its latest press release that the witnesses would be allowed to lie.

Gittmacher is reading an uninspiring statement about the IACC, what it does, etc. He’s justifying the money Congress pours into the IACC, then launches into a long laundry list of studies and programs that Congress has funded.

Colleen Boyle, CDC epidemiologist is next. Her current autism budget is $21 million, and she’s going to tell us how the money is spent.

She names all 12 states of the ADDM network. Fun!

Darrell Issa asks a couple questions. “Is autism in history pre-date all vaccines?”

“Definitely” says Colleen Boyle. Guttmacher talks about Kanner in 1943.

Issa asks if autism has more than one cause. “like cancer.” Yes, says Guttmacher.

“Is it fair to say we can rule nothing out in absolute terms as far as being a contributor? Including things we haven’t yet looked at?”

Guttmacher some factors have been looked at so carefully that we can rule them out (hint: vaccines).

“Are we waiting too long to have children?” asks Issa, noting that medical science has accommodated parents who want to have children later in life.

Rep. Commings notes the “looks of frustration” on the visitors seated at the back of the room. “What can we do to help the folks behind you?” he asks the two government scientists.

Guttmacher reassures the congressman that he shares the frustration of the parents, some of whom can be seen rolling their eyes and laughing in the same camera shot as the government scientists.

Cummings asks about the make up of the IACC.

Burton is going to show a two-minute video. “I know there are manu causes of autism, but the one I’m talking about is vaccines.”

The video slams mercury amalgam, and draws on discredited University of Calgary research.

“This is worse than an epidemic! It’s an absolute disaster! How can anyone watch this video and not be alarmed!”

The peanut gallery applauds when Dan Burton finishes. Then explodes in anger when Colleen Boyle notes that thimerosal is no longer used in schedule pediatric vaccines.

1:58 – Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Wash. DC) – Asks if there are undiagnosed young adults with autism, and what do we do for them. Norton is a long-time advocate for persons with Down Syndrome.

Is that Katie Wright in Colleen Boyle’s camera frame? She’s very, uh, expressive.

Rep. Paul Gosar, (R-AZ), asks if the CDC looks at diet as a possible cause of autism. He reminds us that he is a dentist.

“We should be listening to the families,” he says, motioning toward the peanut gallery. He’s a GF-CF proponent. “You name a disease, you will find a dietary aspect.”

The small-government Republican wants government to tell parents how to eat. He says he has spent hours walking through a grocery store, looking for gluten free food. He shares an anecdote about an autistic child who was recovered after he was taken off gluten and milk. The peanut gallery swoons.

2:11 -  Rep. Kucinich. He’s been researching the association between mercury and autism. He’s gunning for big coal. I sure am glad vaccines don’t contain coal!

Now he’s quoting the Palmer study that supposedly found an association between coal-fired power plant emissions and autism. Kucinich wants more research into mercury from coal and autism.

2:16 – Freshman Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) -   says he doesn’t know a subject that has caused do much frustration among his constituents. He cites the latest prevalence numbers. “Has anything accelerated to this degree in your experience?” he asks Boyle.

“As we’ve seen this acceleration in the diagnoses, can you tell us why this isn’t a public health crisis?” Now he’s channeling those frustrated constituents. “Who’s in charge of this?” he asks while stabbing his fingers in the air.

Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass) – He asks Boyle why thimerosal was removed from most vaccines.

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) – “How do people in impoverished areas get access to services?”  Yes!

Rep. Davis asks about prevalence rates of black, white, and Hispanic children. “Are there socioeconomic barriers that prevent parents and physicians from recognizing ASDs in persons of color?” Guttmacher:  “There are issues of access here.”

Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) asks if children from Africa have more autism since being vaccinated. He is a big fan of Dave Weldon, an anti-vaccine congressman who retired a few years ago.

Posey asks if the CDC has ever conducted a vaccinated v. unvaccinated population. “You’ve wasted two minutes of my time,” he says to Boyle.

Now he’s asking about Poul Thorsen. “Have you gone back to validate his studies? I mean, he’s an enormous scumbag, one of the most wanted people on earth?”

Now he’s quoting the SAFE MINDS “study” that correlates mortality rate with vaccination schedules.

“Multiple bomb blasts of multiple vaccinations in a short period of time.”

2:46 – Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) – He wears an autism bracelet.

What would the CDC and NIH do with an extra $2 billion or $4 billion?

Guttmacher praises private efforts. “We need to keep that partnership.”

Need more research into environmental and genetic factors. The go together, he says. And more money for intervention.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) – Takes credit for funding and establishing the IACC.

“The 1:88 figure – horrible number, terrible number!”  He’s been in congress for 32 years, and has considerable experience with Africa, and says he has never seen a spike in autism in Africa. He asks about gut flora and its contribution to autism. Why is the NJ prevalence so high, but other states much lower?

Consistency is not this guy’s strong suit. On one hand he says autism is an epidemic. On the other, he acknowledges that the harder you look for autism, the more you find.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) – “Autism is becoming a growing epidemic in the US, and I want to complement Congressman Burton.”

She wants to know why autism has grown from 1:10,000 to 1:88. The prevalence for autism has never been 1:10,000, but Maloney is on a roll.

Interesting fact: Carolyn Maloney has proposed on several occasions that the CDC research why the Amish don’t get autism. The bill never made it out of committee.

“I’m for vaccinations, they prevent diseases, but why so many when the verbal evidence from so many parents is that they cause problems?”

Verbal evidence = unconfirmed anecdotes.

Peanut gallery applauds.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, (R-FL) – Do we get 40 vaccines these days? Why is it twice what France is, three times what Finland is? The SAFE MINDS lobbying initiative must be awesome!

Buchanan says the care cost for autism is $2.3 million per person.

Now Rep. Cummings is picking up where Buchanan left off. “There’s something wrong with this picture. When the rate goes from 1:10,000 to 1:88.”  Now he’s questioning the vaccine schedule. The peanut gallery applauds.

The camera pans the audience, and we see a crying mother.

A Utah congressman wants to know why his state has the highest administrative prevalence in the US. Except he didn’t use the words “administrative prevalence.” And it’s been a year since the CDC numbers came out, and the Utah congressman has apparently never investigated how the ADDM works.

“I’m not a statistician, but I just see big numbers.”

But he plays one on C-SPAN.

Burton is back. “Why did the CDC take out the thimerosal?” What, Burton knows most vaccines don’t use thimerosal? Guttmacher and Boyle wisely say they will look into it.

3:18 -  The room clears out. Round two coming up.

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