If there was ever any doubt whatsoever about exactly who Republicans work for and represent, or who is directing their time and money-wasting agenda in the U.S. Congress, an event in Texas reveals what most Americans already know.
If one was unaware of what era this is, they may think it is the 16th Century and congressional Republicans are the High and Holy Roman Catholic Church attacking science and scientists for contradicting god almighty and the Christian bible. But this is 21st Century America and instead of “the church” conducting an inquisition and attacking science and scientists, it is the fossil fuel industry using congressional Republicans to impugn and “intimidate” scientists for being scientists contradicting the fossil fuel industry.
At a Texas Public Policy Foundation event this week where the fossil fuel industry gathered to plot their attacks on the climate, the owner and CEO of coal giant Murray Energy thanked the industry’s leading inquisitor for using the U.S. Congress to attack scientists. The recipient of the glowing praise, heartfelt gratitude and effusive congratulations was anti-science Chairman of the House Science Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX). The Murray Energy CEO, Robert E. Murray, enthusiastically praised Smith for leading an inquisition into noted and prominent climate scientists and environmental officials tasked with gathering empirical data to help protect Americans’ air and water.
Murray, after “congratulating” Smith for doing the lord’s work in issuing a congressional subpoena to the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) head Kathryn Sullivan, issued further orders to Smith. Murray demanded that Smith immediately issue more congressional subpoenas and start investigating the American Meteorology Association (weather forecasters) and the Union of Concerned Scientists; two private nonprofit organizations that serve the scientific community and the American people. According to Murray, the organizations also “need to be investigated” because they have empirical scientific data and mounds of research contradicting the fossil fuel industry’s claim that global climate change is a liberal hoax to rob Americans.
It is noteworthy that the anti-science climate-denying attendees, all donors to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, were “inadvertently” disclosed as billionaires at Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Chevron, VF-Russia, ConocoPhillips and Murray Energy among many others. The president of the event’s sponsor, Brooke Rollins, explained how and why event was conceived and why it is “critical” to the industry’s assault on scientists, the environment, and Earth’s climate. Rollins said,
“About a year and a half ago, a supporter of ours that I know well and is a good friend, said ‘Brooke, I think we really need to pull together the best and the brightest who are debunking the myth of climate change and global warming.'” Rollins then revealed that the filthy rich “supporter and good friend” was none other than noted hydraulic fracturing executive and climate change denier Bud Brigham; a real piece of fossil fuel work and Lamar Smith cohort.
Since the anti-science Smith has chaired the House Science Committee, he has led a series of unrelenting fossil fuel-funded attacks on the scientists and scientific consensus around global warming. Smith even wastes taxpayer money by holding congressional hearings for the sole purpose of allowing Koch Republicans to each take a turn at berating NOAA, National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) scientists involved in providing empirical data necessary for climate policy founded on reality.
Smith has also proposed Koch-ALEC legislation to create new fossil fuel industry-mandated criteria for all future National Science Foundation studies and duly slashed the budgets of scientists involved in climate research; he has not yet prohibited the words “climate change” from being uttered like other state-level Republicans, but it is likely on the near horizon. Smith has rapidly ramped up his aggressive tactics against science and scientists that garnered high praise from the coal industry’s largest corporation and inspired Smith to get serious about expanding the industry’s crusade and inquisition.
For example, in June, after NOAA scientists published a study in the highly-regarded peer-reviewed journal Science that used scientific research and empirical data to refute the absurd Republican claim that global warming they claim does not exist has “paused,” Smith immediately issued congressional subpoenas to the scientists who participated in the study.
The very serious House subpoenas included NOAA director Kathryn Sullivan demanding, not more scientific data, but all personal “communications between or among all NOAA employees.” It is what Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson(D-TX) charged was just Smith’s way of “furthering a fishing expedition.” Less politically-correct human beings would label Smith’s actions a religious witch hunt or what they truly are; 16th Century Vatican-like inquisitions and attacks on science that targeted the likes of Galileo and Copernicus. In Koch Republicans’ minds, disagreeing with the fossil fuel industry is tantamount to disputing the authority of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and god almighty himself, and they have congressional authority to do something about it.
Americans not beholden to the Kochs’ fossil fuel industry say Smith’s investigations are deliberate attempts to intimidate scientists whose research may pose a financial hardship to the fossil fuel industry which donates heavily to Republican politicians; including Chairman of the House Science Committee Lamar Smith. As well-regarded scientist and Slate writer Phil Plait notes, Smith’s subpoenas are “politically-motivated strong-arm tactics,” and not remotely related to “an actual attempt at oversight.” Although Plait is highly-respected in the scientific community, and by this author, it is curious he failed to question how on Earth a science-denying moron and fossil fuel industry puppet like Smith could possibly provide any oversight to scientists, but perhaps that is why Phil is a noted and respected science spokesman.
This week, seven leading scientific societies issued a damn tersely-worded letter to the anti-science Smith asserting that, “Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that some may see as politically controversial.” It is true, of course, scientists should not be investigated or harassed for doing their jobs with due diligence, but this is America controlled by fossil fuel acolytes and driven by a 16th Century religious mindset with congressional subpoena power; power bestowed on them by the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry.
It is not difficult to imagine how far back in time Republicans will eventually take America. First it was deluded tea party, real Americans, driving to return to the 1950s, and then it was evangelical fanatics lusting to return to Old Testament theocratic rule. Of late, it is a small vocal group of Republicans intent on tactics devised by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime and now it is the Koch-Republicans drawing inspiration from the 16th Century Roman Catholic Church attacking scientists. Besides a push to leave the 21st Century, the only connection between all the GOP’s attempts to “take their country back” in history is that they are driven by special interests. And it is not the interests of the incredibly stupid people who continue putting Republicans and their fossil fuel masters in power.