Sunday, October 22, 2017

#1913: Lisa Lyons

Quacks and altmed promoters have made persistent efforts at the state level to achieve legislation either officially endorsing their practices or – more obviously – removing pesky measures that might make them minimally accountable or responsible for providing evidence that the nonsense they peddle is efficacious or at least safe. Naturopaths are particularly persistent (and make no mistake: naturopathy is ridiculous, anti-scientific quackery.

And they have enablers in those state legislatures. In Michigan, for instance, they found a champion in Lisa Posthumus Lyons, the Republican representative for District 86 between 2011 and 2016 and chairperson of the House Education Committee. In 2013, Lyons introduced Michigan House Bill 4152 (2013), which would license naturopathic “physicians” in the state – and it should be noted that the bill was a bipartisan effort, with Ellen Cogen Lipton being the Democratic half. The bill defines “naturopathic medicine” as “a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases,” which is a rather laughable attempt at defining “naturopathy”. (They did not attempt to define “natural”, but presumably just assumed the woo connotation.)

Lyons is also on record congratulating one Kelly Hassberger for opening her new Naturopathic Health Clinic in Grand Rapids; one notes that Hassberger focuses on “homeopathic medicine”, which is hardly surprising given naturopaths’ troubled relationship with facts and evidence, and the nonsense that passes for “accredited” naturopathic “education”. Despite the fact that naturopathy is medieval medicine-inspired, quasi-religious nonsense and naturopathic “education” an unfunny joke, House Bill 4152 would give naturopathic pracitioners wide-ranging authorization to offer nonsense and quackery to patients in difficult situations.

The bill didn’t pass then, but Lyons returned with Bill 4531 in 2015. A good survey of the authorizations in that bill, and the dangerous nonsense Michigan naturopaths actually offer, can be found here. Again she found a bipartisan group of co-sponsors (Andy Schor (D-Lansing), George Darany (D-Dearborn and co-chair of the Committee on Health Policy), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) and current chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, and Kathy Crawford (R-Novi)). The bill hasn’t been signed into law thus far, but even if it isn’t we expect further, similar efforts down the road.

Diagnosis: A danger to public health, no less. Lyons is an apparently ardent champion of pseudoscience and quackery, and has – or at least had – the power to do real harm to real people.

Friday, October 20, 2017

#1912: James "Ace" Lyons

James Aloysius “Ace” Lyons is retired admiral in the United States Navy, currently chief executive officer of LION Associates, and delusional wingnut and conspiracy theorist.

Lyons has claimed (during a National Press Club conference) that, under the Obama administration, the Muslim Brotherhood has succeeded in infiltrating every US security agency. He also stated that CIA director John Brennan is a Muslim convert and secret Saudi agent. (Presumably Lyons got the idea from John Guandolo; you don’t get to get your ideas from Guandolo and still count as reasonable.) As Lyons states, it is “interesting that no counterintelligence alarm was triggered at the time that this alleged conversion was occurring.” Which may, of course, be because it never happened, but Lyons’s mind doesn’t work in a manner that allows him to consider that possibility: “Most likely, that’s because at that time the sophisticated Islamic objectives driving the global jihad movement by the Muslim Brotherhood were not understood by those who witnessed his ‘conversion.’” According to Lyons, Brennan has a “track record of empowering the Muslim Brotherhood both domestically and abroad,” for instance allowing “the jihadist enemy access to the highest level of government,” such as in his meetings with “terrorists like Nihad Awad.” For the record, Awad is the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

And according to Lyons, Islam is not a real religion, but “a political movement masquerading as a religion,” and presumably as such completely unlike his brand of fundie Christianity. It means that you cannot even in principle be a Muslim without being a terrorist. Lyons, of course, has his own idea about how to deal with foreign policy issue, and has suggested that the only way to gain credibility and win “hearts and minds” in the Middle East is to “kill them into submission.”

And of course, the conspiracy goes all the way to the top. “Not only is Obama anti-American and anti-Western,” says Lyons (at the Iowa National Security Summit), but he is actively “pro-Islam, pro-Iranian, and pro-Muslim Brotherhood,” and to achieve the aims of the radical Islamists – imposing sharia law on the US – he has been colluding with Bill and Hillary Clinton. In his attempt to take down America, Obama used “sequestration” “as a vehicle for unilateral disarmament”. One suspects that Lyons does not know what “sequestration” and “unilateral disarmament means”. That’s actually the charitable interpretation of what he’s saying.

To top it all, Russia was likely blackmailing Obama. No, Lyons cites no evidence whatsoever. But Russia was blackmailing Obama because they know the truth that he wasn’t born in the United States.

He also argued that that the Muslim Brotherhood was planning to start up a political party to influence American domestic politics, which is puzzling since he thinks they already control the Democratic party. Then again, Lyons’ most characteristic trait is not his acute cognitive faculties.

Moreover, Lyons has weighed in on Benghazi, and even been part of the wingnut Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi whose goal was to find the real truth (which they already know, of course – they just need to make the evidence fit). According to Lyons the GOP-led Benghazi Special Committee was aiding the Benghazi cover-up. The evidence for the committee being part of the conspiracy is that they found no conspiracy. So it goes.

Lyons is not fond of zeh gays either, saying that “the gay, lesbian, transgender lifestyle is nothing but a return to a pagan ethic … which has led to the downfall of previous civilizations.” And at the CPAC conference in 2010, Lyons’s said that “in the Navy in the late nineteen hundreds, homosexuality was rampant in the United States Navy. It was so bad that mothers would not let their sons enlist in the Navy until the Navy cleaned its act up. … On board ship the Navy found that there are three things unacceptable to good order and discipline and its impact on readiness. You cannot have a thief aboard, you cannot have a drug-user or a drug-pusher and we found out you could not have a homosexual.” He did not cite sources because he is a venerable retired admiral, and venerable retired admirals don’t need to cite sources.

He should not be confused with equally crazy conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist James Lyons-Weiler.

Diagnosis: Crazy dingbat yelling at clouds and accusing them of all sorts of ills that exist only in his own deranged mind. But wingnuts have nevertheless been sure to promote him to the many who don’t care about such things either – Trump proudly mentioned Lyons’s endorsement during his campaign, for instance.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#1911: Harry Lyon

A.k.a. “Low Carb” Lyon

Harry Lyon is a perennial candidate for various political positions in Alabama, representing various parties. He is perhaps most famous for being the Democratic candidate for the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012 (running a hopeless campaign against Roy Moore) on a platform of random drug testing of school children and executing illegal Mexican immigrants on Alabama soil: “It would only take five or 10 getting killed and broadcast on CNN for it to send a clear message not to fool, or not to step foot rather, in Alabama,” said Lyon.

Lyon is a lawyer whose credentials include having served in the marines and being shot twice, neither time while in the military: One in what Lyon describes as an intentional hunting “accident”, the second by one Robert Black after Lyon poured Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup on Black’s car; Black was charged with attempted murder but acquitted after the defense subpoenaed Lyon’s neighbors to testify about his character. Lyon claims that Black was framing him by pouring chocolate over his own car. In 2001 Lyon was convicted of menacing after pulling a gun on a neighbor and holding police at bay for two hours. When running for the Supreme Court, though, Lyon claimed that “[o]ther than a traffic ticket, I have never broken a law,” since the gun one doesn’t count in his book. He has also “never been disbarred,” which should be encouraging but probably tells you more about the Alabama bar association’s, uh, bar for disbarment. He also swore that he is not crazy.

At one point he planned to run for mayor of Pelham as “Low Carb” Lyons, with a platform of driving the fat folks out: “Let’s face it. The fact is that fat people are ugly and disgusting to look at as much as is traffic congestion and wasteful spending by our city government,” said Lyon. He is also on the record callingfaggotry” an abomination and saying that “only sick and perverted persons believe in homosexuality or lesbianism, though there are a lot of them.” He is also apparently opposed to the separation of church and state. In short, he’s not really all that different from Roy Moore.

Apparently his statements are not supposed to be taken seriously, however; Lyon ran on a platform of my-statements-should-not-be-taken-seriously before it got popular.

Diagnosis: Since he has not a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected to anything, we should probably count him as colorful and (generally) harmless. Though Lyon is no more crazy than the people the good folks of Alabama tend to actually elect to political office.