Idiots


Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.
— Mark Twain

Despite deniers’ neverending claim that they’re “winning” their campaign to spread doubt about global warming, they’re losing. Big time. They just can’t win against nature. With heat waves on four continents at the same time this summer, once-in-a-thousand-years drought and flooding, wildfire on the rise in western North America, sea level rise enough that coastal cities now flood at extreme high tide even without storms or rain, an astounding record-breaking hurricane year in the Pacific, their precious “pause” in temperature rise shown to be a sham all along, and two record-hottest years in a row, people are catching on. Even tea party republicans can’t swallow the lie any more.


But there’s one group that not only still swallows the lie, but repeats it and tries to force it down everybody’s throat: politicians. Specifically, republican politicians. Not republican voters, mind you — they’re catching on. It’s republican politicians. For years they’ve spread the misiniformation, but in their desperation to swim against the tide of truth they’re getting nastier.

The most visible example is Texas congressman Lamar Smith, the subject of a major opinion piece in the LA Times. What makes him even worse is that through some perversion, he’s managed to become chair of the house committee on science, space, and technology. Worst choice ever.

But it’s not just Lamar Smith. Republican politicians have vowed to sabotage U.S. efforts to work with the rest of the world in the Paris climate talks. They’ve also been pushing legislation to kill the clean power plan.

What they’ll really end up doing is killing their own political party. If republican voters want to have a say in American politicians, if they want the voice of conservatism to have a seat at the table — if they still want to have a political party five years from now — there’s only one way to save the republican party: get rid of the climate denier politicians.

Republicans, this means you’ve got to make some sacrifices. You have to vote for democrats. Maybe you hate the idea — but if you don’t, if you succeed in re-electing the climate-denying idiots you’ve got now, it will kill your party.

Climate denial is a cancer on the republican party. Even though it’s painful to put up with surgery, you’ve got to cut out the cancerous tissue. Even though it makes your hair fall out and your stomach turn, you’ve got to swallow the chemotherapy. The only other choice is death.

So here’s your prescription, from the doctor who isn’t going to sugar-coat the situation and tell you it’s all O.K. but will tell it like it is: unless Lindsay Graham gets the republican nomination (which ain’t likely), you need to vote for Hillary Clinton for president. None of those other republican contenders is acceptable — even the ones who seem “moderate” like Bush and Rubio are just climate deniers without the balls to be honest about it. You hate the idea? Too bad, it’s time to take your medicine. For the sake of the republican party.

Because when it comes to your precious republican party, the only alternative is death.

36 responses to “Idiots

  1. Which is sad. The GOP was a splendid party in the days of Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt was no slouch, either. Eisenhower was a good president, and frankly, Nixon was never the monster he was made out to be–crook or not, he was a good administrator who never denied reality. But the 21st century GOP would have no room for a Nixon, Ike, Teddy, or Abraham Lincoln. It’s become a caricature of itself, a Democrat’s nightmare from the 1960s.

  2. The GOP more generally is into reality denial; climate denial is just one of the tumors.

  3. Interesting you choose to open your post with a quote from Mark Twain. As you probably know, Congressman Lamar Smith is a Christian Scientist. Here’s what Twain had to say about that: “Science and Health” was sent down from heaven to Mother Eddy, after having been sent up there by Brother Quimby, and upon “Science and Health” stands the great and growing and prosperous Christian Science Church to-day. Evidently one of the least difficult things in the world, to-day, is to humbug the human race.
    – Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2 (2013), p. 247. Dictated 8 October 1906

  4. I’m not convinced that the eight scientists (seven of them at Penn State) who ranked Democrat and Republican contenders on their knowledge of climate change in Associated Press’s recent study/article did so on a genuinely blind basis. Some of the more idiotic collections of statements would have been identifiable as coming from a given politician. (The quotes and statements that were used in the ratings weren’t given.)

    That said, the 1-2-3 ranking of Clinton, O’Malley (my favorite) and Sanders and the dismal showing of the Republicans (Graham was not included) speaks for itself.

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/3e946f29fa534a0b9c1d064b16e06b61/ap-fact-check-most-gop-candidates-flunk-climate-science

    (As an aside, that’s quite a URL, AP. Is the 16-byte hexadecimal string in it really needed? Planning on 2×10^19 articles listing GOP candidates and climate science?)

    • Well if it sounds like an idiot, it is an idiot. Note that they set aside pronouncements of policy, and did not pass judgment on those, e.g., Christie.

    • I had to laugh at Judith Curry’s assessment of the climate change credentials of the candidates. She puts Ted Cruz near the top, for crying out loud!

      • “The other Republican candidates have perfectly reasonable perspectives and positions on the climate change issue.” – Judith Curry

        It seems that Prof. Curry, after abandoning science by the side of the road several years ago, has reconsidered and now made a U-turn.

        …in order to drive back and run it over.

  5. Modern Republicans are agents of the Undefeated Armies of the South, now marching in their last Pyrrhic victory.

    • Paul Krugman wrote an opinion piece about the Paris climate talks that includes the bold line: “…we may be doomed. And if we are, you know who will be responsible: the Republican Party.”

      Pretty strong for any mass media –
      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/opinion/republicans-climate-change-denial-denial.html?ref=opinion

      Top comment for this post is quite sharp::

      > Socrates Downtown Verona, NJ 28 hours ago
      >
      > The reality is that Republicanism is not a political movement per se as much as it is an organized religion, with ‘faith’ in the Republican holy trinity of God (Christian Shariah Law authoritarianism), Guns (Fear, Paranoia, Spite, Violence, War) and Greed (a deregulatory, zero tax paradise of plantation economics) leading the medieval sensibility of Republican masses over fresh cliffs of unreason and nihilism every waking second.
      >
      > Just as it’s considered rude and insensitive to characterize organized religion as the serious psychological disorder and clear product of global intellectual child abuse it is, it’s considered rude and insensitive for the media to call out modern Republicanism as nothing less than the cult of unreason, sedition and whirlpool of intellectual depravity it truly is.
      >
      > Hofstadter’s essay discusses the personality type of America’s unique right-wing membership as politically paranoid individuals who feel persecuted, fear conspiracy, and act over-aggressively in response to just about every idea outside their holy trinity of God, Guns and Greed.
      >
      > And eerily enough, Hofstadter’s essay was adapted from his lecture at Oxford University on November 21, 1963, the very day before the first of three great progressive American visionaries (JFK, MLK, RFK) were violently slaughtered by right-wing gun freedom.
      >
      > America has never quite recovered from it’s 1960’s right-wing hijacking.
      >
      > And here we are in 2015, with most Americans still very much afraid of being shot.

      • Pretty spot on, and pretty funny. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a pretty strong parallel between abandoning fossil fuels and abolishing slavery. We are going to take some pain for long term gain. But if slavery was still common practice, would modern day Republicans be against it?

  6. Nor room for Lincoln or Eisenhower? There is no room in the current GOP for Reagan or either of the Bushes. Which of them would openly advocate building walls, and sending the armed forces to enforce a mass deportation of a million people? What will they call it ? “Clearing the ghettoes”?

  7. Point one. There was an article (someplace: no longer have the link) which claimed a number of ideologically true Republicans were switching parties to be able to vote in the Democratic primary for Sanders. Given Sanders’ heralded performance as a conservative mayor in Vermont, he seems genuine to many people who cannot stomach the Republican options. Now the cynics may say this is a ploy to divide the Democrats, but, from where I sit, Hillary Clinton is no avowed supporter of strong climate policy.

    Point two. As Tamino says, continuing to espouse an anti-science and anti-Humans-Did-It positions is going to kill off Republican chances for a decade or long when things turn badly. What’s remarkable to me is that being so insistent on these positions goes against the most basic instincts of a politician, instincts which suggest they should never say anything is absolutely so, or anything which they can be solidly pinned down about. They are.

    Point three. Florida. The top-level politics all pretend SLR isn’t tied to climate or isn’t happening. Yet the officials in charge of remediation need to act like it does. So what’s that about? Is it like Argentina where all taxes are paid off official currency, but businesses keep two sets of books, the second in U.S. dollars, so they don’t have to pay taxes?

    Point four. Things like Point three are not, unfortunately, exclusively a Republican thing. In Massachusetts, Senator Warren came riding along with the cavalry to be sure FEMA flood insurance rates were not oppressively increased for people some of who should probably not be rebuilding in places like Scituate and Marshfield in the first place. And Democratic Attorney General Healy, despite her finding that Massachusetts does not need the methane pipelines the Governor’s administration and the utility companies say they do, also found that the rates insurance companies were setting based upon projections of coastal flooding were unwarranted, and ruled they could only use projections based upon historical trends. Sounds to me like another step down the slippery slope of protecting people who make dumb decisions about where to build from being responsible for those.

    Yeah, Lamar Smith is an idiot, with Rubio and Cruz racing him for the title of Chief Idiot. But there’s stuff to fix in the Democratic Party, too, and administrations which should know better (City of Boston) aren’t doing what they need to do. Some are (City of Cambridge).

  8. Just look at the GOP nomination race – the more offensive, mendacious & moronic you are, the better your poll numbers.
    It’s looking an awful lot like President Trump will be golfing on the White House lawn – on artificial turf – in 2017

  9. George Pataki also acknowledges climate change and thinks CO2 emissions reductions are necessary. His chances of being the GOP Presidential candidate are about the same as Graham’s.

  10. The worst thing for emissions mitigation would be electing Ms Clinton, as the supposition might be from some that she’d do something effective. She will do nothing and the blowback will be even worse in 5 years time.

    I am with Tom Murphy (Do the Maths blog), solutions won’t come from politicians, they will only come from the people. We don’t do away with slavery by owning slaves, we won’t combat carbon emissions by continuing to emit and blaming others for those profligate emissions.

    [Response: Do you really believe electing Hillary Clinton would be worse than having Ted Cruz?]

    • No. Hilary’s plan isn’t perfect, but it’s a good deal better than ‘nothing.’ And she would also protect whatever agreement is reached in Paris, which would be really crucial.

  11. I would remind you that there seems to be a bipartisan dynamic here. Remember the 95 to 0 Senate vote refusing to do anything that would “hurt the US economy” BEFORE Ktyoto. Sponsor of S.Res.98? Democrat Senator Robert Byrd. Democrats against the Resolution. You work it out.

  12. There undoubtedly will be a massive effort at revisionist history David Barton style, that will claim that REAL republicans NEVER denied AGW.
    No, it was they that fought against a tyrannical takeover by rabid liberals using climate change as a stalking horse for their evil plot to create a one world government that would subjugate their rights and confiscate all the guns, and take all the money from hardworking, deserving, rich, and hand it all out to the lazy and dangerous poor.
    Hyperbole? Maybe, but judging from the current rhetoric coming from the right, only a little.

  13. Jonathan Chait wrote about this in New York magazine:
    “The rise of Trump, and his increasingly cartoonish lies, has framed the Republican Party as split between the Establishment and the kooks. But on the climate issue, at least, the kooks are the Establishment.”
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/12/how-gop-thought-police-enforce-science-denial.html

    En passant, the AP evaluation cited by Magma isn’t the only one. Readers might also be interested in seeing this:
    http://climatefeedback.org/how-much-do-the-us-presidential-candidates-know-about-climate-change/

    The site also contains short criticisms of climate journalism written by scientists.

    “What is Climate Feedback?

    Climate Feedback brings the expertise of the scientific community into the world of online climate coverage to provide readers and authors with in-situ feedback about the content’s scientific credibility…
    Our aim is to make the scientific realities of climate change better known to the public by allowing every reader to see how trustworthy their online information is, while also providing reliable and accessible references to science-based information.”
    http://climatefeedback.org/about/

    • Thanks cosmicomics… the Climate Feedback link is a superb, more detailed follow-up to the AP story and makes for essential reading.

      I don’t know how I overlooked it in the first place, but the page is undated so maybe it’s recent(?)

    • As a side note, the figure in the nymag.com article contains what may be the simplest, clearest, easiest to understand data-based depiction of GHG-driven warming I have ever seen in the popular media. (No, not the photo of Lamar Smith… the other one.)

      I’d appreciate comments on this, and any information as to whether this is an original graph or if the idea has been done before.

    • OK, found it. It’s an NOAA figure from 2010, covering the period1880-2009. It’s overdue for a refresher, unless that’s already been done.

    • Thanks for that link, for some reason, I haven not seen that site before. Looks like a solid roster of contributors. Bookmarked!

  14. The basic problem of the Rethug party is the juxtaposition of math and policy. Their basic premise is that rich people know what to do with money better than poor people. Now this may seem to be true at some level until you take into account that a lot of wealth is inherited, and financial acumen is not inherited…or that once you reach a certain level of wealth concentration, you so distort the economy that you have deflation in every market except luxury goods, and so on. However, the problem this causes for the Rethugs is that the beneficiaries of their policies will always be a tiny minority, and in a democracy you have to at least get close enough to a majority that your theft of an election can be plausibly denied.
    The answer: Court single-issue voters, no matter how loopy and suppress voter turnout on the other side. It also helps to keep the voters uneducated, so they’re more gullible. They’re a big-tent party because loonies take up a lot of room.

  15. I don’t mean to intrude on the conversation here but what are the chances that something binding comes out of the Conference? Are we getting indications as to how this might all shake out? Thanks

  16. Perhaps off topic, commentor TonyW linked an op-ed piece by Matt Ridley in Scientific American! http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-will-not-be-dangerous-for-a-long-time/ It contains all the usual denier lines you would expect Does anyone know why Scientific American has decided to give voice to anti-science laymen?

    • Holy crap! You’re right Michael, that article was nothing but a clever distortion, exploiting some acknowledged uncertainties, and picking the same old cherry suggesting that warming has slowed down (notice the time period used as a base of comparison).
      I can only imagine the avalanche of push back that that article will generate. SA should be ashamed. They certainly need to allow a vigorous rebuttal, and soon.

    • My guess is that they think (perhaps rightly) that such an article will generate controversy and increase page views.