By Jay Hansen
At least at the federal level. A new study came out last week that has lead me over the course of the past few days to a series of realizations and reminders of older stories. With the puzzle pieces assembled here, they make a powerful case for why anyone who isn’t an absolute nut job really needs to stop voting for federal Republicans, including those of conservative ideology. While I may personally have a laundry list of reasons why not to vote for them on ideological grounds, there are far more important reasons why no one, not even conservatives, should.
Last week Raw Story had a piece with some disturbing poll numbers in it. According to the story, belief in a “second coming” of Jesus reduced the probability of someone supporting action to combat climate change by 20%. Simultaneously, 76% of Republicans believe there will be a second coming of Jesus. Translation: a little under half of this country is Republican, and an overwhelming majority of them (three-fourths) believe Jesus is coming back to save all of them… therefore, why should they have to care about the environment? We now see a disturbingly large segment of the population that will not budge, ever, on climate change or the environment because of religious convictions. It sounds like some rhetorical abstraction of conservative ideology, but the statistics are starting to prove this exact pattern of thinking.
But that’s not the primary point in the story that really made me decide to write this article. In the Raw Story piece, it had a 2010 quote from Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL). Shimkus stated his opposition to any legislation trying to prevent climate change because “the Earth will end only when God declares it to be over,” and washed his hands of the issue. That, my friends, is the definition of a blind follower.
Some of you are probably wondering why this one quote stood out so much to me given that I’ve cited Senator Inhofe’s infamous quote “the arrogance of the people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what [God] is doing in the climate is to me outrageous” at least five million times. The reason why Shimkus’ quote is far more damning is because Congressman Shimkus is currently the chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. The man in the House of Representatives that is in charge of overseeing the House’s work in regards to the environment literally believes there’s no point or even need to take care of the environment whatsoever because the world is going to come to an end soon and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Do you feel safe yet?
It’s not just Shimkus either though; Senator Inhofe himself served on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee for many years, even though he similarly believes the environment is entirely in God’s hands and there’s nothing humans could possibly do to harm, or save, the planet and we should just resign ourselves to death and the end of mankind. Now ask yourselves; how did these men end up on these committees? This is not a question of too much government or too little in regards to environmental regulation; these men clearly have no interest in protecting the environment whatsoever. Who either appointed them or requested their positions on these committees? And why?
These people are blind followers both of their religion and of their party’s establishment. They will disregard everything to fulfill the demands of these two institutions at the determent of everything else; their responsibilities as a member of this committee, the will of the American people, and most of all, just human intelligence.
Speaking of intelligence, let’s not forget our friends at the humorously named House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, or just House Intelligence Committee (consider that your oxymoron of the day). I say oxymoron because let’s not forget this Committee’s most tragically outspoken member is Congresswoman Michelle Bachman. There’s no way I could list all the examples of her incompetence in a single article, but Mother Jones has a decent list, and I’ve complied my favorite eight here. All you really need to know about her is that she spouts so much utterly, inarguably false information that the Associated Press literally had to limit the amount of resources they would devote to fact-checking her. She actually overloaded the media’s bullshit machine (the mainstream media at that; they aren’t exactly known for being the most vigilant fact-checkers these days). When the media does actually press her on one of her lies, she literally runs away. And this woman serves on the House Intelligence Committee.
Let’s not forget her colleagues on the Intelligence Committee, though, specifically the chairman. Just as Shimkus was to the House Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy, Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI) is just as ironically the chairman to the House Intelligence Committee. First and foremost, Rogers was possibly the biggest supporter of CISPA in the House. If you don’t know what that is, which is probably a tragically high number of Americans, I highly suggest you click the previous hyperlink before continuing. Better than being the bill’s proponent, he seemed genuinely clueless as to why there was supposed opposition to it. His actual quote on the bill was “[CISPA] does something very simple: it allows the government to share zeroes and ones with the private sector.”
Oh, is that all? It allows any company to share any information it wants about its clients and customers with the government whenever either party finds it beneficial to them? Obviously, Rogers is either being sickeningly disingenuous, condescending, and extremely presumptuous about the intelligence of American voters, or he himself is as hopelessly incompetent as such a presumption would require. Usually I’m inclined to believe the former, but then we get to his second quote when confronted about CISPA. Rogers doesn’t understand why there’s opposition to the bill or where such opposition is coming from because, and I quote, “we have yet to find a single United States company that opposes this bill.”
Well then, if it’s unanimous amongst American companies, why not make it law? I mean, it’s not like the actual American people should have a say in it. Rogers is apparently so incompetent, or at the very least brazen in his corruption and disinterest in serving his voters, that he completely forgot that he’s supposed to at least act like he represents people and not corporations.
We’re still not even done with the Intelligence Committee though. Rogers was actually pretty tame compared to most members of the Committee. Another name that jumped out at me serving on it is Congressman Peter King (R-NY). King became infamous back in late 2010 for becoming the new Senator Joseph McCarthy. King’s “Commie hunt,” however, was a Muslim hunt, wherein he held hearings as the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee into the “radicalization among American Muslims.” So in other words, if you are an American Muslim, King already suspects you of guilt and wrongdoing, and you have to prove your innocence in a very un-American guilty-until-proven-innocent fashion. His sentiment towards Muslims is no secret, as he is on the record completely fabricating statistics like 85% of mosques in America are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists and just making flat-out racist statements like, again, I quote, “there are too many mosques in this country.”
What’s worse about King than his flagrant prejudices, though, in sticking with our main theme, is the irony of his positions. King is no longer the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, but still serves on it, as well as the House Intelligence Committee, giving him significant oversight of the CIA and the war on terror. The irony in King’s positions may be the most directly dangerous of them all because Peter King is an outspoken supporter and funder of terrorism. Specifically, King has defended and raised money for the Irish Republican Army, who were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians in their violent attempts to drive the British out of northern Ireland. He called the IRA a “legitimate force” to combat “British Imperialism,” and worst of all in 1985 said “if civilians are killed in an attack on a military instillation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it.” He was so close to the IRA that the Irish government once boycotted the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York because King was chosen to be the Grand Marshall, and King has been thrown out of an Irish courthouse on the grounds that he was “an obvious collaborator with the IRA.”
And remember; this is the man that was chosen to be the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee to help combat terrorism.
After King, like some horrible version of Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon, I noticed another name that serves with him on the House Homeland Security Committee; Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA). I’ve written about Broun before because he gives King a run for his money at the title of “most ironic” position within the Congress, and easily wins the most indirectly dangerously Committee appointment because of the long-term damage it could do. What’s more ironic than a terrorist supporter combating terrorism? Someone who does not believe in science being appointed to the House Committee on Science and Technology. At least Shimkus and Inhofe’s scientific ignorance seems to stop at climatology and evolution; Broun denounces all science; evolution, embryology, even the big bang theory, and “all that,” referring to science in general, as “lies straight from the pit of hell” (actual quote). Broun goes on to explain his beliefs, which would require him further denouncing paleontology, archeology, continental drift, and much more as well.
But Broun’s not alone on that committee, of course. Let’s not forget that former disgraced Congressman Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin (R-MO) also served on it with Broun. Akin was infamous for his disbelief of evolution as well as his complete and utter ignorance of the absolute basics of human biology children learn in fifth grade (he said that it’s physically impossible for women who are “legitimately raped” to get pregnant, which is fundamentally untrue, earning him the nickname Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin for the rest of time). More important than Akin, though, is the current Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) who just recently introduced a bill in Congress that attempts to change how the scientific process works through legislation. I’m not even kidding. The legislation would abolish the National Science Foundation’s peer-review process, which would eliminate the need for an independent expert to duplicate the results of an experiment or study before it can be accepted as a legitimate experiment or proven hypothesis. In other words, Congressman Smith is trying to make it law that as soon as they find one scientist or guy that’s willing to pretend to be a scientist that can kind of endorse whatever they want to prove (name it; global climate change isn’t real, off-shore oil drilling is good for the environment, evolution isn’t true, fracking creates baby unicorns, whatever) it will be legally acceptable as legitimate science without someone having to duplicate or review their work.
This man is the Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Who put him there? The Republican Party establishment.
When you vote for Republicans at the federal level, specifically in the Congress, you’re not voting for an individual politician. Instead, you are voting for the collective Republican Party establishment, which operates as a single organism. Keep in mind, at the end of the day, political parties are largely just private organizations that can manage themselves; they choose who gets leadership positions and committee appointments internally, not democratically. Earlier in this article I asked how people like those I’ve listed could be put in these positions, and why they are appointed to them. The answer should be obvious by now; these people are nothing but pawns that will do whatever the party establishment wishes, regardless of the damage it could do to this country or how contradictory it is to their position, their conservative values, or their responsibilities in the US Congress.
The Republican Party Establishment, for this reason, will always appoint people like this to their Committees and Chairmanships. People who don’t care about the environment will be put in charge of protecting it, people who support terrorism will be put in charge of fighting it, people who resoundingly reject science will legislate what is science and what is not, and people who just lack adult intelligence are put on the Intelligence Committee with oversight of our nation’s most sensitive material.
I would hope that anyone reading this, including the conservatives, don’t feel that the Michelle Bachmanns and Paul Brouns of the Republican Party represent their views or what they think the Republican Party should be. The problem is it doesn’t matter if you agree with these unquestionably moronic members within your party or not; they will always be the ones that get these sensitive appointments because of their blind willingness to do as they are told. A vote for a Republican representative is a vote for the Republican Establishment and nothing more.
This is in contrast with the federal-level Democratic Party. If you’re still afraid or unsure about voting for Democrats on ideological grounds, keep in mind that one of the greatest strengths of the party is also one of its greatest weaknesses. When it comes to ideology, the Democratic Party is the “big tent” party. There are people at all ends of the political spectrum in the Democratic party, even though this leads to great internal conflict on some issues (health care, gun control, green energy, to name a few). Like Mark Twain said, “I do not belong to any organized political party. That is why I am a registered Democrat.” Here in red states like Oklahoma, there are often primaries on the Democratic ticket between the progressive candidate and the conservative candidate, the latter of whom usually agrees with Republicans nine times out of ten anyway. Finding a Democratic politician you agree with is very much possible even for the farthest right of conservatives (that are still sane, of course).
No matter what you think of their ideology, Democrats will at least appoint people who actually care about the environment to the committees and positions dedicated to protecting it. They will at least appoint people who actually believe in science to those positions concerning science. And even if you don’t like a Democratic appointment, just keep in mind that all FOX News has to do is sneeze at one and Democrats will trip over themselves to see who can fire them first. So please, do this entire country a favor and stop voting for Republicans at the very least at the federal level. The only reason you have to continue doing so is because you literally don’t want to protect the environment at all or that you yourself oppose science, which I certainly hope isn’t any of my conservative friends.