Clearly, the political focus of the year is a certain mind-boggling presidential candidate who hardly touches policy matters — and when he does, tends to push absurd ideas and proposals that would tank our economy, lead to world war, destroy our climate and environment, and piss off our allies. However, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Donald Trump’s success in politics wasn’t magic — far from it. Donald Trump’s success in politics was built on the back of decades worth of conspiracy theories and anti-science rhetoric and extremism from the Republican Party. (Come on, people, there’s a reason he won the GOP nomination.)
Rather than focus on The Donald here, though, I will just highlight a couple of his claims and will uncover much more of the anti-climate, anti-environment, and anti-cleantech extremism that has long come from Republican Congresspeople who support Donald, from Republicans who have said they can’t support Donald and in some cases who have even said they will be voting for Hillary, and from the Republican Party itself. Have a look and tell me what I’m missing.
- Starting with Donald, though, I can’t get over this absurd claim:
It’s pretty amazing that the Chinese have somehow tricked 18 prominent U.S. scientific organizations and 197 prominent scientific organizations worldwide. Luckily, Donald knows better, right? He says it like it is. (Anyone who believes such nonsense needs to really look more deeply into who this guy is and what his track record is, especially if you’re concerned about scandals. Don’t wake up next year panicking over a superficially conducted experiment based on lazy voting.)
- Perhaps more surprisingly, Donald apparently thinks asbestos is great and that asbestos bans actually stemmed from a conspiracy to benefit the mob. (As I’ve mentioned before, Trump has a strong tendency toward conspiracy theories.) Here’s a quote from one of Donald’s books: “I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob, because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal. Great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented. Millions of truckloads of this incredible fire-proofing material were taken to special ‘dump sites’ and asbestos was replaced by materials that were supposedly safe but couldn’t hold a candle to asbestos in limiting the ravages of fire.” Note that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared that there’s “no safe level of asbestos exposure.” Maybe Donald has simply been exposed to asbestos too many times on building tours. Hmm….
- With regard to President Obama vetoing the ridiculous Keystone XL pipeline, Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader and Republican from Kentucky, said: “The president’s veto of the bipartisan Keystone bill represents a victory for partisanship and for powerful special interests.” Powerful special interests? Oh, you mean the people of the United States — not the dirty energy lobby that supports you and heavily funds half of Congress. Got it.
- Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, #2 in the GOP presidential nomination process behind Donald Trump: “If you’re a Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging Greenpeace activist, you should love the Keystone pipeline.” Err, what? (Btw, ridiculous statements from Cruz about global warming can be found here.)
- From the actual Republican Party 2016 platform: “The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource. Those who mine it and their families should be protected from the Democratic Party’s radical anti-coal agenda.” Clean? Affordable?
- Again from the Republican Party platform: “We oppose any carbon tax. It would increase energy prices across the board, hitting hardest at the families who are already struggling to pay their bills in the Democrats’ no-growth economy. We urge the private sector to focus its resources on the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology still in its early stages here and overseas.” Yikes. Such a stupid statement that I feel like my IQ just dropped.
- Again from the Republican Party platform: “We support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower.” Hmm, that’s funny — the GOP is implying that renewables aren’t much cheaper than coal and nuclear power. LOL.
- Again from the Republican Party platform: “The [Obama] Administration now requires the Department of Defense, operating with slashed budgets during a time of expanding conflict, to use its scarce resources to generate 25 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2025. Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue. This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it.” Yikes!
- Again from the Republican Party platform: “Energy is both an economic and national security issue. We support the enactment of policies to increase domestic energy production, including production on public lands, to counter market manipulation by OPEC and other nationally owned oil companies. This will reduce America’s vulnerability to energy price volatility.” You’re kidding me, right? This party is supposedly working for energy security, yet wants to keep us focused on limited fossil resources rather than renewable energy sources that come directly from the sun, wind, and water?
- Again from the Republican Party platform: “Our agenda is high on job creation, expanding opportunity and providing a better chance at life for everyone willing to work for it. Our modern approach to environmentalism is directed to that end, and it starts with dramatic change in official Washington. We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA into an independent bipartisan commission.” Yes, the Republican Party wants to eliminate the EPA and create a much less powerful “bipartisan commission.” Somehow, that is supposed to be related to job creation, even though regulation and the resulting innovation create more jobs that business as usual.
- Again from the Republican Party platform: “We will likewise forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide, something never envisioned when Congress passed the Clean Air Act.” The Supreme Court has already ruled that the EPA not only has the right to regulate CO2 but is actually required to do so.
- Again from the Republican Party platform: “The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy. We will evaluate its recommendations accordingly. We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, which represent only the personal commitments of their signatories; no such agreement can be binding upon the United States until it is submitted to and ratified by the Senate.” Say what??? I’m almost too stunned to respond to this one. A “political mechanism?” You’ve got to be kidding me. And regarding the COP21 Paris Agreement, 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement — but Republicans in Congress want to make the United States the outlaw of the world and reject the agreement?!
- Again from the Republican Party platform: “We demand an immediate halt to U.S. funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in accordance with the 1994 Foreign Relations Authorization Act. That law prohibits Washington from giving any money to ‘any affiliated organization of the United Nations’ which grants Palestinians membership as a state. There is no ambiguity in that language. It would be illegal for the President to follow through on his intention to provide millions in funding for the UNFCCC and hundreds of millions for its Green Climate Fund.” No joke — the Republican Party wants to pull the US out of the UNFCCC over a technicality regarding Palestine.
- First used by former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, who later became Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and then popularized by Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin: “Drill, baby, drill!”
- Roy Blunt, a Missouri Senator since 2011 who is in a tight race for re-election right now, said a couple of years ago: “There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate or path of the Earth.” Riiiiiiiight. 18 prominent U.S. scientific organizations and hundreds more around the world must be confused.
- This was Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the lead Senator on environmental issues, explaining why global warming is supposedly a hoax: “I ask the chair, you know what this is? It’s a snowball, just from outside here. So it’s very, very cold out. Very unseasonal. Mr. President, catch this.” Yes, his argument was that snow in the middle of winter meant global warming wasn’t happening. It’s actually an argument Republican Congresspeople have made several times.
- Senator Inhofe also referred to global warming as the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Seriously.
- Fred Upton, U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 6th congressional district, serving since 1987, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce: “I have said many times, and there was a report a couple of weeks ago that in fact you look at this last year, it was the warmest year in the last decade, I think was the numbers that came out. I don’t – I accept that. I do not say that it is man-made.”
- Asked if he believed that climate change was happening, Joe Heck, U.S. Representative for Nevada’s 3rd congressional district since 2011 and the GOP’s nominee for a Nevada Senate seat being opened up by Harry Reid’s retirement, said: “Well, I think certainly over the millennia, we’ve seen changes in our climate both ways, and I think throughout the future millennia we will continue to see climate change that goes both ways. But the issue for this election is not what’s going to be happening in the next 200 years, it’s going to be what’s happening in the next 12 months.” Well, that’s apparently leadership as far as the GOP is concerned these days.
- Joe Barton, U.S. Representative for Texas’s 6th congressional district, serving since 1985 : “Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it is hotter to areas where it is cooler. That is what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I am not saying that is going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something. You can’t transfer that heat and the heat goes up. It is just something to think about.”
- Again Joe Barton: “I accept that climate change is happening. I don’t accept that what we do as humankind is a causal agent of this.” (There’s also this gem from Barton on a related topic.)
- Again Joe Barton, in reference to people dying from mercury emitted by coal power plants: “I’m not a medical doctor but my hypothesis is that’s not gonna happen.” Uh, yes, people will and do die from mercury emitted by coal power plants.
- Rob Bishop, U.S. Representative for Utah’s 1st congressional district, serving since 2003: “It is becoming increasingly obvious that the EPA is more interested in grabbing power over our entire country than in getting the science and the answer right.” The EPA is?? How does Bishop mistake the letters “EPA” for “GOP,” which is obviously who he’s talking about, right? Right?
- John Boehner, Former Speaker of the House and U.S. Representative for Utah’s 1st congressional district: “Listen, I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change. But I am astute enough to understand that every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs. That can’t be the prescription for dealing with changes in our climate.” B.S. But what’s new from modern Republican “leaders” like Boehner, Trump, McConnell, Ryan, etc.?
- Steve Scalise, House of Representatives Majority Whip and representative for Louisiana’s 1st congressional district, serving since 2008: “The Obama administration needs to finally abandon their radical climate change agenda that is killing jobs and increasing costs for American families.” Radical. Oh, yes, very radical — trying to protect society from collapse. That’s pretty extreme.
- Cathy McMorris Rodgers, U.S. Representative for Washington’s 5th congressional district, serving since 2005: “We believe Al Gore deserves an ‘F’ in science and an ‘A’ in creative writing.” It would be funny if it wasn’t so ridiculously scary and sad.
- Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator for Florida up for re-election: “Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to man-made activity. I do not agree with that. I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That’s what I do not – and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it.” No, Marco, that’s not what the scientists have done, and you know that, which just makes you a lying jack*** who is purposefully harming human civilization, and certainly the state you supposedly represent.
- Paul Ryan, current Speaker of the House, U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, serving since 1999, in response to a question about whether he understood that global warming was caused by humans: “I don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t think science does, either.” Mmm, yes, thousands and thousands of climate scientists have confirmed that the science is crystal clear.
- In 2011, House Republicans earned Congress the worst environmental voting record in history. We can count this as one point, but in actuality, House Republicans together voted 191 times against environmental measures. In total, that means thousands of anti-environment votes. That included “27 votes to block action to address climate change, …77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections, …28 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections, … [and] 47 votes to weaken protection of public lands and coastal waters.” This is aside from putting anti-environment “poison pills” into related and unrelated legislation in order to kill it before a vote.
- It seems the story got even worse after that, perhaps as more climate-concerned Republicans left or were kicked out of Congress due to a deepening rift between them and the GOP as a whole. The information above was from a House Committee on Energy and Commerce minority report. A few years later, the League of Conservation Voters also gave House Republicans their worst grade ever in its annual National Environmental Scorecard. “House Republicans had the lowest average score since LCV began putting out the scorecard in 1970,” The Atlantic reported. “Average House Republican scores have dropped steadily in recent years, from an average of 17 percent in 2008, to 10 percent in 2012, down to the low average of 5 percent for 2013.” Republicans in Congress have long been anti-environment and pro-pollution voters, but the story has gotten more and more extreme. That score was “considerably lower even than what congressional Republicans averaged during the Gingrich revolution in the 1990s. In the four years Newt Gingrich was House speaker, the average Republican score was 21.93 percent, according to LCV’s records.” Any wonder how the Republican nominee can now be a person who claims global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese?
For a broader look at how Donald Trump’s extremism at the head of the Republican Party is capstone of past GOP efforts and propaganda, I highly recommend this article (h/t Dragon). Here’s one paragraph from that article to explain why I continue to write about political matters:
“If we do not push the media, academics and others to tell the real story of the GOP, you can guarantee they will once again be allowed to play their double game two or four years from now. Rather than letting them blame whatever happens in the 2016 election solely on Trump, we need to do our part to make everyone understand how the Republican party purposely built the politics of hate, fear and ignorance – before it rightly blew up in their faces.”
And one more:
“If you feed your people a diet of conspiracy theories and idiotic, illogical talking points every day, don’t expect them to make thoughtful, reasonable decisions. People convinced through years of brainwashing that their president is a Muslim plant and that all the world’s scientists are in conspiracy against them will elect a Trump, not a Churchill. Could anyone expect otherwise?”
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