Friday, March 31, 2017

Lamar Smith Leads The Charge, Successfully, In The Republican War On Science


My best friend Roland teaches science to elementary school kids in Compton, California. When he saw this headline Wednesday night he shook his head and asked me if I thought people around the world were going to see it too. Tim Cama's report for The Hill was mind-boggling; what century was he writing about! "The House voted Wednesday," he wrote, "to restrict the kind of scientific studies and data that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can use to justify new regulations. The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, passed 228-194. It would prohibit the EPA from writing any regulation that uses science that is not publicly available. It’s the latest push by House Republicans to clamp down on what they say has turned into an out-of-control administrative state that enforces expensive, unworkable regulations that are not scientifically sound."
Democrats, environmentalists and health advocates say the HONEST Act is intended to handcuff the EPA. They say it would irresponsibly leave the EPA unable to write important regulatory protections, since the agency might not have the ability to release some parts of the scientific data underpinning them.

The HONEST Act is similar to the Secret Science Act, which leaders in the House Science Committee sponsored in previous congresses and got passed.
This garbage legislation was proposed-- predictably-- by Texas neanderthal Lamar Smith, who was appointed head of the House Science Committee as a GOP in-joke. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the Science Committee’s top Democrat, slammed the committee Republicans for a misguided effort to stop sensible EPA regulations, denying that the EPA is overly secretive with its science, saying it often doesn’t own the information and has no right to release it. "The secret science bills the Republicans tried to enact over the previous two congresses were insidious bills, designed from the outset to prevent EPA from using the best available science to meet its obligations under the law. Those bills were constructed to hamstring the ability of EPA to do about anything to protect the American public... In reality, this bill isn’t about science. It’s about undermining public health and the environment."

The bill passed 228-194, with 7 mainstream conservative Republicans abandoning the lunatic who have taken over the House GOP, crossing the aisle and voting with the Democrats. Of course, 3 of the most corrupt and wretched Blue Dogs shit-eaters-- Collin Peterson (MN), Jim Costa (CA) and Henry Cuellar (TX)-- crossed in the other direction and, as usual, voted with the GOP.

Lamar Smith represents a well-educated, mostly suburban district that stretches from Austin into the Hill Country and down into San Antonio. The district is transitioning in such a way that it will soon be inhospitable for an ignorance-based politician like Smith. In 2012 the district went for Romney over Obama 60% to 38%. Last year Hillary made some significant inroads without once campaigning in the district; Trump won 52.5% to 42.5%. And Tom Wakely, the independent-minded Democrat who took Smith on-- with zero help from the DCCC, needless to say-- did better against Smith than any Democrat had done previously. Tom hopes to finish what he started last year and defeat Smith-- if Smith even dares run for reelection-- in 2018. After the vote we spoke with Tom on the phone.
My first thought when I saw the "House votes to restrict EPA’a use of science" in the subject line of an email I received was-- "fake news." However, it was sent to me by a friend with a link so I went ahead and clicked on it. I expected the link would take me to the Onion, or some similar satiric website but no, it took me to an article written by Timothy Cama, who works for the political website The Hill. My second thought was, "Say it ain’t so, Joe." Well, the story is true and all I can say is "God help us all."

When I told my wife about what the House had just done she just shook her head and said that is exactly what the PRI does all the time in Mexico. She should know; she is from Mexico. Anyway, she said the PRI manipulates the facts; they lie and do whatever was necessary to convince people that they should just trust the government and that is exactly what Lamar Smith is doing right now. When the House passed the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, Smith was front and center leading the charge to deny science, once again?

It seems everyday now, Smith and Trump are doing everything they can to destroy our world. Pesticides once banned because they were found to damage children’s brains have been given the green light under Trump’s and Smith’s watch. Scientific data is being deleted from government websites. I close my eyes and I can see the clock being turned back, not by a day, not by a month, but by a century or more.

I have accepted the reality that Donald Trump is President. I know things are bad and I know that they will only get worse but I am reminded of something that LBJ once said: "Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose." Those words are what have given me hope. We must continue to fight Trump and Lamar Smith and the best way to do that is by electing a brand new Congress in 2018. Something I hope to be a part of next year.

Kim Weaver ran against Iowa bigot Steve King last year-- also with no assistance from the DCCC and also going to a rematch in 2018-- and she wasn't surprised to see backing Smith's anti-science/anti-EPA legislation. "It's disappointing," she told us, "to see Steve King and House Republicans continue to follow Donald Trump's lead in dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency. Steve King claims that climate change is 'more of a religion than a science.' At a time when we desperately need to address climate change, our country is being led by a party that refuses to even acknowledge that it exists. We have an obligation to protect our environment for future generations, and if House Republicans refuse to step up to that challenge, we need to replace them with people who will."

Goal Thermometer Replacing Lamar Smith and Steve King with candidates of the quality of Tom Wakely and Kim Weave is an endeavor-- a crusade-- worth participating in. Except for people who abhor fact-based reality and think our approach to Climate Change should be ostrich-like. Please consider tapping the ActBlue thermometer on the right and contributing whatever you can to these two excellent candidates-- or any of the other pro-Science candidates on the page. Whoever thought our politics would come down to contrasting candidates by noting who is pro-science and who is anti-science! But the records of these crackpot Republicans can't be denied. And we need people in Congress who will stand up to their ugly, willful ignorance and their reactionary worldview.

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At 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US is like the retarded, psychotic bully in the class. Only if the rest of the class collaborates and beats it to death with axe handles will anyone else be safe. ever.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Thomas Ten Bears said...

Recent scientific analysis indicates the Neanderthal may well have much more sophisticated than the swarthy southerners who overran and assimilated them.

Am oft reminded these day's of an eightyish margarine commercial: starts out all sweetness and groovy, flutes and clarinets, butterflies and bunny rabbits, golden sunlight trickling down through an impossibly green canopy upon a beaming Mother Nature applying a "spread" to her English muffin. Which is not butter. Boom! Thunder, lightening, tornados, hurricanes, no doubt floods of "biblical" proportions around a wicked witch.of the west. It's not nice to fool (with) Mother Nature.

That and Bambi v Godzilla.


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