Geary Higgins, Universal Expert

Being elected a member of the all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors has an astonishing effect. One day a man is an ordinary mortal; the next day he is a universal authority, holding forth to his subjects — excuse me, constituents — on all manner of topics about which he knows absolutely nothing.

Thus Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin), in his latest “news[sic]letter,” pontificates at length to share with us his latest “knowledge” about Lyme disease, supplied courtesy of the quack promoters whose businesses are driven by whipping up a continual mood of mass hysteria and ill-informed scientific nonsense about the disease. For some reason, these businesses have got a very nice foothold in the local Republican Party, and Geary seems all too glad to  return the favor of their political support by shilling for their wares.

So in his latest “news[sic]letter,” our local elected official — whose job we naively thought it was to represent his district and manage the county’s government honestly, efficiently, and soberly — gushes enthusiastically about a testing laboratory he has “become aware of” that “offers tick testing for a variety of diseases, including Lyme. This can be helpful if you find a tick on you or a family member but don’t necessarily want to take a trip to your physician right away.” Yes indeed! Why seek competent medical advice when you can react hysterically on your own, and flush hundreds of dollars down the toilet on a scientifically useless bit of playing doctor at home to line the pockets of a testing lab heavily promoted by the highly commercialized “Lyme Disease Association” (not a real medical organization).

Here by the way (you could look it up, Geary!) is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to say about the uselessness of testing ticks you find on yourself, whether or not your local Republican county supervisor recommends it:

“In general, testing of individual ticks is not useful because:

  • If the test shows that the tick contained disease-causing organisms, that does not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
  • If you have been infected, you will probably develop symptoms before results of the tick test are available. You should not wait for tick testing results before beginning appropriate treatment.
  • Negative results can lead to false assurance. For example, you may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected.”

Geary also throws around a bunch of scientific words he has just heard about to try to defend the scientifically indefensible program he and his fellow scientific illiterates on the Board rushed into last year, and continued this spring, involving spraying toxic pesticides around a bunch of randomly selected county parks to try to pretend they’re doing something to combat Lyme disease (and also promoting heavily to the public the idea of having their own properties sprayed by one of the various companies offering such services, some of whom just happen to be prominent local GOP campaign contributors).

Geary’s bafflegab is one of the most comical bits of logical nonsense we’ve seen in some time from a politician, which given that we live in Loudoun County is saying something.

Geary claims that hosing down a few county parks with a toxic, carcinogenic pesticide is actually “Integrated Pest Management,” and goes on to quote a page from the CDC website defining IPM as a “science-based commonsense approach.”

The trouble is that that CDC page he quotes has absolutely nothing to do with Lyme disease. The bigger trouble is that what Loudoun is doing has nothing whatever to do with IPM. IPM is a systematic approach to controlling pests  that emphasizes using biological controls, eliminating pest harborage, and other means all with the overriding aim of minimizing pesticide applications.

But Geary, with a brilliant command of the logical syllogism, states that IPM “sometimes includes the judicious use of pesticides,” thereby concluding that since Loudoun is using pesticides, it is practicing IPM.

Let’s run this one by again.

Major premise: IPM can sometimes include the judicious use of pesticides

Minor premise: Loudoun is using pesticides

Conclusion: Therefore Loudoun is practicing IPM

The fact is that all of the available scientific evidence shows that spraying for ticks is a wasteful, environmentally dangerous, and above all ineffective (and even counter-productive) means of preventing Lyme disease. At best spraying temporarily reduces — but cannot even come close to eradicating — tick populations. The only effective measure to prevent Lyme disease is personal responsibility in the form of using an insect repellant containing DEET and checking oneself daily for ticks. That is thus something you  need to do even if you’ve gone out and hysterically hosed  down the world with pesticides. And meanwhile, the pesticide being used (Talstar) kills honeybees and is a human carcinogen.

You can find this information by actually reading the CDC’s website — and not just cherry-picking a bunch of scientific-sounding phrases from random places to support your incorrect ideas . . . incorrect ideas that also just so happen to have been supplied by the  Lyme disease hysteria industry that this Board seems happy to promote as part of its duty to the public.

By the way, if I were Geary Higgins I think I’d want to really avoid mentioning the words “stink bugs,” after having made the world’s most inane campaign promise that he was going to “attack” this menace “head-on” once in office as a Loudoun County supervisor and thus having the command of the county’s vast bug-fighting but heretofore unaccountably underutilized resources at his beck and call.

Since then Geary has been understandably silent on his one-man crusade against a problem that we innocently supposed might be better addressed by, oh say, people with a PhD in entomology working for the USDA research laboratory at Beltsville, Maryland, that has a century of experience developing effective controls against imported insect pests.

But Geary couldn’t resist apparently, once he was on a roll explaining all about IPM and pesticide spraying and tick testing, and in his latest “news[sic]letter,” he breathlessly informs us that Congressman Frank Wolf (R) has “included language” in the farm bill (that Republicans in the House have been unable even to pass, but never mind) that instructs USDA “to continue their efforts in researching ways to minimize the damage stink bugs” do. Thank you Geary! Where would we be without you, telling us that Frank Wolf has boldly told USDA to keep doing what it was doing anyway, and putting that in a bill that the Republicans can’t even get their own party to pass!

And finally, Geary spends a lot of time in his “news[sic]letter” earnestly assuring the residents of Western Loudoun that some of his best friends make goat cheese. This is part of his and Janet Clarke’s (R-Blue Ridge) very recent attack of the jitters that it wasn’t such a hot idea to support the elimination of the Rural Economic Development Commission and other anti-rural economy measures. So Geary tells us about all the farms he’s just visited and how enthusiastic he is about farms and how “blessed” we are that there are such nice farms in his district, and how many times he could say the word “farm” in one paragraph.

Well, Geary, as they say in Texas: All hat, no cattle!

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