For some reason, it would appear as if the members of the US’s Republican Party are having a not-so-secret competition to see who can out-crazy each other. It’s as if the guys further down the ladder were watching the Clown Car of Candidates during the Republican primaries and went, “Is that the best you can do? Watch this!”
Let me give you a couple of examples. First up, we have those two lovely gentlemen from Arkansas. Jon Hubbard, a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, thinks slavery was a good thing for blacks (“the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”) And no, he wasn’t caught saying this on a secret recording at a Klan rally… he wrote a book about it.
Not to be outdone, Charlie Fuqua (I wonder if that rhymes with “fucker”) also wrote a book. In it, Fuqua – who laughingly describes himself as being pro-life – advocates the death penalty for “rebellious children.” So yes, he’ll fight to ensure that your unwanted child is born, but then if that kid turns out to be a problem, he’ll be right there to stone the little bastard to death. Fortunately, Fuqua is only running for the House of Reps in Arkansas. However, given my complete lack of faith in the collective sanity of the US electorate, I expect him to win by a landslide.
Then I came across the outpourings of one Rep. Paul Broun, who described evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory as “lies straight from the pit of hell” to keep good, God-fearin’ folk away from Jesus. Now, he is from Georgia, so it’s probably easy to write him off as just another batshit insane fundie from a backwater state. Except for two things – firstly, Broun is a qualified medical doctor.
Secondly, he’s a member of the United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in Washington. Yes, the man who thinks the Big Bang theory is a “lie from the pit of hell” sits on the committee that oversees non-defense federal scientific research and development. Not only that, but they’re responsible for – amongst others – NASA, Dept. of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, FEMA and the US Geological Survey.
So a man – who also believes the Earth is 9,000 years old (what happened to 6,000 years?) and was created in 6 days – is part of the gang overseeing most of the non-military science stuff in the US… oh yes and he’s also the Chair of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. Which got me to thinking – if this yahoo could get into that committee, how many other fundamentalist fuckheads have the Republicans slipped into this committee, as they wage their insane war against women, science and reality?
So I decided to have a look. According to the official webpage, the committee consists of 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats. Given that the GOP are the majority, they get to pick the chairman, and that’s Ralph Hall. From Texas. Uh-oh. Alarm bells are already going off.
Ralph Hall – he’s 89 years old, which means that he should probably be sitting on a patio somewhere, not making policy decisions. Oh yes, he also doesn’t believe in anthopogenic climate change, and is on record as saying as saying scientists concoct evidence in order to gain grants. He also calls the hearings which cleared the whole Climategate mess “straw-man reviews.” It also worth noting that he has close ties to big oil and gas. Surprise, surprise.
He’s threatened to subpoena climate scientists, and given that he wants to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and saw the Deep Water Horizon disaster as a ““tremendous, blossoming flower of energy.” No, really: “As we saw that thing bubbling out, blossoming out – all that energy, every minute of every hour of every day of every week – that was tremendous to me. That we could deliver that kind of energy out there – even on an explosion.” Remember, this was something that killed 11 men, and caused more pollution than the Exxon Valdez.
And this is the man heading up the committee under which the EPA falls.
Jim Sensenbrenner – Hall’s 2IC and chair of the sub-committee that investigates scientific activities. Not a very nice chap. He walked out of the House Judiciary Committee, where he was Chairman, when asked about the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo; he voted against $50 billion in emergency aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina; he voted for additional criminal penalties for illegal immigrants; and he attempted to delay a bill that would have provided benefits to the Japanese widow of a US Marine killed in action.
Oh yes, and he’s a climate change denier. In fact, he goes as far as to say that the Earth is cooling, and has been for 10 years. Oh and solar flares are more responsible for climatic cycles than anything that human beings do. Perhaps the best quote from the vice-chair of the Science Committee is: “CO2 is a natural gas. Does this mean that all of us need to put catalytic converters on all our noses? The fact that people think CO2 is a pollutant … basically goes into propaganda.“
He’s also a speaker for the Heartland Institute – you know, the guys who used the Unabomber in a campaign to discredit global warming.
Lamar Smith – And it’s a hat-trick! Smith also doesn’t accept that the Climategate hearings cleared them of any wrongdoing and still insists that “prominent scientists were so determined to advance the idea of human-made global warming that they worked together to hide contradictory temperature data.” Oh yes, and he’s also voted for outer continental shelf oil drilling and against having the EPA regulate greenhouse gasses and against limits on CO2 pollution.
Dana Rohrabacher – Ah, this looks promising. The man is all about space. He even wants NASA to develop a strategy “for deflecting and mitigating potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.” Cool! Oh no… wait… This yahoo thinks that previous cycles of global warming were caused by CO2 being released by “dinosaur flatulance.” Yes, you read that correctly. He also thinks that a good way to prevent what he thinks is a problem – decaying matter in the rain forests releasing carbon – would be to chop down all the old trees and plant new ones.
For that matter he also believes that CO2 is not a pollutant, and that it’s “not toxic to human beings.” I’d like to put him in a room with a 3% CO2 mix in the air and see how long he lasts.
Roscoe Bartlett – another one who votes for drilling and against the regulation of pollutant gasses. he also voted against tax breaks for green energy. oddly, he is on record as being in favour of responding to climate change by using less oil and more renewable energy. Just a shame his voting record doesn’t show it. But just in case you thought this was a sane Republican in the committee – wrong. Despite being a scientist himself, with a Ph.D in physiology, Bartlett seems to belong to that strange school of conservative men, who have no idea how ladies’ naughty bits work. He’s one of those that believes that “very few pregnancies occur as a result of rape.” Because, you know, the female ovaries can magically detect what is good and bad semen.
Oh yes, and he also equated student loans to the Holocaust. Because the fact that federal government would be the lender was a slippery slope, and in Germany, that slippery slope led to the Holocaust.
Frank Lucas – Finally! A voice of reason emerges! From Oklahoma, he’s probably well aware of the effect of climate change on crops, so not only is he for doing something about climate change, he wants there to be a bi-partisan effort in doing so. Sadly, he seems down on the EPA, feeling they’ve overstepped their bounds.
Judy Biggert – Yet another climate change denier, not to mention that she lives up to her name by opposing the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (Biggert – Bigot – geddit? Oh, never mind). She was amongst those who voted against an amendment that said climate change was occurring and said that her main concern was with the ffects of the unseasonably warm weather the country had experienced, not its cause.
Todd Akin – Where better to leave off then with the man who has done to science what the Boston Strangler did to door-to-door salesmen. This is the man who went on record and said that women don’t fall pregnant from rape. In fact, what he said was, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” How on earth can a man with such little knowledge of basic physiology serve on a committee dealing with science? He also feels that the rapist should be punished, and not the child – i.e. y being aborted. He’s notably silent on the suffering of the victim, who has to carry the child. Still, maybe she’ll be lucky and Fuqua can stone the little swine to death. Oh, and just to prove my complete lack of faith in the American electorate, apparently Akin has raised $1 million in on-line campaign contributions. This man shouldn’t be running a lemonade stand, let alone a country.
So… that’s basically a third of the Republican side of the Committee covered, of which all but one come across as being inept, stupid and in one way or another, radically opposed to basic science.
Clearly, this cannot be a coincidence, but rather a concerted effort by the Republicans to drag American scientific thinking back to the 19th century. Not since the Taliban came to power, have so many medieval-thinking people been in positions of power.
More to follow, when I can stomach this sea of ignorance again.