Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 31, 2009

HARD TO ARGUE WITH LOGIC LIKE THAT.... It was certainly discouraging that Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) argued, publicly and with a straight face, that if we limit carbon emissions, we're "taking away plant food from the atmosphere." But I was also impressed by Shimkus' theological argument against combating global warming.

Shimkus explains -- well, perhaps "explains" is a strong word -- his belief that we need not worry about the effects of global warming, because his interpretation of the Bible suggests planetary changes are solely in the hands of the Christian God. "The Earth will end only when God declares it's time to be over," the Illinois Republican said. "Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a flood.... God's word is infallible, unchanging, perfect."

What's more, be sure to watch to the end of the video clip, at which point Shimkus argues that we're not pumping enough carbon into the atmosphere: "There is a theological debate that this is a carbon-starved planet, not too much carbon."

I've heard a few conservatives over the years argue, "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out." I didn't expect, however, to hear an elected member of Congress apply this thinking to environmental policy.

Shimkus' "insights" came around the same time as Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Texas) argument that we need not worry about global warming, because in a pinch, humanity can simply pursue an "utterly natural reflex response to nature," by finding "shade."

There's a genuine policy discussion to be had about climate change. If policymakers like Shimkus and Barton represent the mainstream of House Republican thought, this discussion won't be bipartisan. Indeed, for humanity's sake, it can't be.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (47)

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Comments

The stupid. It hurts us.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 31, 2009 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Can't there be an IQ test for Congress? I'd be against means testing but jeebus on toast points there's a limit to the belief that even morons need representation.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on March 31, 2009 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Google James Watts.

Posted by: Roger on March 31, 2009 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

This is the same Shimkus who was Mark Foley's enabler in the page scandal in 2006.

Posted by: Danp on March 31, 2009 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Well, there's a few thousand dollars we can save in next year's budget. Since everyone's fate is in the hands of Rep. Shimkus' god, we can quit paying for health insurance coverage for him and his family. All he needs is prayer.

Little by little, these savings will add up. . . .


Posted by: SteveT on March 31, 2009 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Our Pres said it all last August.
"It's Like These Guys Take Pride in Being Ignorant"

Posted by: John R on March 31, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Well, in a way, Shimkus is correct. Humanity will not "destroy" the planet. We can render it inhospitable to current forms of life, or indeed any life. That is something we can do. It is something God will allow us to do, as we are creatures given free will.

Posted by: Andrew on March 31, 2009 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Let's just assume for a while that in your moment of death all your failures and mistakes become clear for you, ahead lies the road of truth and all your sins would be forgiven...

...then these guys would argue that spreading the shit like they do will render this moment of truth even better...

Posted by: Vokoban on March 31, 2009 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Cue Amy Sullivan concern-trolling us about reespecting ignorant evangelical jackasses like Shimkus in 3...2...

Posted by: Gregory on March 31, 2009 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, Welcome back! Oh for the day that I will not continually be embarrassed by the elected officials of my state. WTF is up with that??

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 31, 2009 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

There was this fellow by the name of Benjamin Franklin who invented a clever device called the "lightening rod".

It was often installed on the tallest building in town, the church. This proved to be controversial as many good Christians thought that Franklin's invention interfered with God's judgment, i.e. lightening.

Rep. Shimkus seems to be continuing this tradition.

Posted by: Jim Ramsey on March 31, 2009 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Darwin tells us the inferior of each species get culled from the gene pool over time.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on March 31, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Could it be that Shitcuss's district has suffered from heavy deposition of mercury from God's coal fired power plants and that John demonstrates the beneficial effects from mercury fertilization on the human nervous system? I mean if ignorance is bliss, then John is certainly blessed.

Sadly, as a downstate Illinoisan, I know all too well that John's ignorant evangelical political stripes are too damned representative.

Posted by: lou on March 31, 2009 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Darwin did not say the "inferior" he said the ones that did not adapt. Quite different. Shimkus may be perfectly able to survive in our environment, hence genetically he is not inferior. Intellectually, yes, but survival doesn't usually depend on intellect, except in human environments.

Posted by: Carol on March 31, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

A sizable number of Americans would agree right down the line with what John Shimkus said about global warming. That's the real problem.

I swear when I met Shimkus in 1988 he was not like this. He was a conservative to be sure, but he was at the time a traditional Lutheran - Lutherans as a rule reject the more outlandish evangelical lunacy. I suppose this is what twelve years of pandering to your base gets you.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 31, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Shimkus is the dumbest member of the Illinois Congressional delegation, a hotly contested title.

Posted by: shortstop on March 31, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

total fuk-tard! Could he pick and choose other parts of the Bible to support a different position? Of Course he could. But that wouldn't benefit his bank account and current investment strategy quite so well. How about “The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” (Job 41:11), so the earth is not ours to abuse. Or the mere fact that we are ALL responsible for the earth because we have been entrusted with it....for “when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him” (Luke 12:48-49). True stewardship requires both respect for the trusteeship, the covenant itself, and an active effort to improve the land for the future and to use it in a manner to benefit God's other children. We are only borrowing, using His property as a guest. It is not ours to destroy or ruin. How do responsible, ethical, considerate, moral guests act with the property of another that was graciously lent to them? God's property no less! Why Shimkus would say that people do whatever they want and let the owner worry about what happens to it and when. That sounds blasphemous to me. But I'm sure your God will buy that rationale when you see him on Judgment Day. Nice way to show how much you love and respect Him and the gifts He has entrusted to you. Moron.

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on March 31, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, he sounds almost sane as he is reading his little tract. At least down here, the southern preacher voice cues you to the nuttiness to come.

Posted by: martin on March 31, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Deep Thoughts: If God's in command, then why the hell do we even need Congress?

Posted by: MissMudd on March 31, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Rep. Shimkus makes a great case for a blame the voters campaign! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 31, 2009 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Where does Shimkus get off talking about dinosaurs, fer cryin' out loud? Doesn't he know there WERE no dinosaurs? Those "fossils" were put there by Satan to make us THINK there were dinosaurs.

I thought every dumb-as-a-stump fundy knew that.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on March 31, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

We've been saying for awhile now that we need "more and better Democrats," in that we could affect policy in more substantive ways if we were all on the same 'team,' as it were, and without what has been called the DINOs (Dems In Name Only).

The same can be said for Republicans. Sure, we have to have them--there will always be an opposition party. But what we also need are more and better Republicans, defined as those who actually maintain currency with respect to knowledge of issues, with consensus, and with fact. At least then we could have real, honest debate about the issues, and not this horrific, continuing devolving of elected Republicans spouting such nonsense. As the conservative NY Times columnist Brooks said, you can't have reasonable discussions with Republicans when they are largely insane.

Posted by: terraformer on March 31, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

dr. sardonicus is absolutely right -- bad as Shimkus is now, he wasn't always this nuts. This is the fine handiwork of the religious right, piously crapping all over our country for decades now. I think I need to mix in more metaphors.

Posted by: shortstop on March 31, 2009 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Too bad stupidity isn't painful...

Posted by: stevio on March 31, 2009 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

Stupidity IS painful; just not to the stupid.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on March 31, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe God is ending the Earth, he's just letting the Devil manipulate evil people like Shimkus into doing it for Him of their own free will. No Heaven for Shimkus.

Posted by: Shalimar on March 31, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Oh God..


again....

Posted by: The Galloping Agnostic on March 31, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

"he wasn't always this nuts"

Maybe not, but he has been making the dumbest freaking arguments and statements for a long time.

But, peel away the dumb and evangelical veneer and you will find that many of his policy objectives probably do not differ that much from even our more "progressive" and "liberal" politicians including Durbin and Obama. Try corn ethanol and coal for instance. Some of the crap just goes with the territory.

Posted by: lou on March 31, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

"I didn't expect, however, to hear an elected member of Congress apply this thinking to environmental policy."

You need to get out more often.

This is the same kind of nuttiness that was championed way back when by James Watt, Secr of the Interior under Reagan (and former Board Member for Jim Baker's PTL), whose argument for raping the land was that Armageddon was soon approaching, and if we didn't extract all the resources we could asap, it would all go to waste.

Posted by: Disputo on March 31, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

In a way I can't describe, I appreciate people expressing different ideas...[trying to reset my jaw drop]

"I'd be against means testing..." aimia
We got no child left behind dumped on us, what about a form of remedial education to get members of congress up to at least a conversational level of logic and rhetoric. Palin could be who you point to to sell the program. I've always thought candidates must pass a history course to be allowed on the campaign trail-I'd trade that bar over any age stipulation.

Darwin tells us the inferior of each species get culled from the gene pool over time. -pj
The timelines are excruciating and carbon based life forms have only election cycle memory.

Posted by: Kevin on March 31, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

This is not the first time. I believe Secretary of the Interior Watt explained in the 80s to Congress that "exploitation" of the environment was okay because Jesus was to return soon and would be upset if humanity had not exploited - i.e. used up - all the resources available.

Posted by: ggersten on March 31, 2009 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, Disputo. Nice to see you.

Posted by: shortstop on March 31, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Smokey Joe Barton gets a hat tip here at WashMonth. As a senior member of the House, Barton certainly does represent the mainstream of GOP "thought". Of course Barton doesn't have to think as he slavishly represents the interests of Big Oil, energy and other chronic polluters.

Posted by: ckelly on March 31, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

"A carbon starved planet" and a bunch of oxygen starved 'brains'; they go forth hand in hand to heaven! These are your leaders?!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on March 31, 2009 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Good grief. I live in this idiot's district, and we can't get a decent Democrat to run against him. Last November it was some kid who actually took down his campaign website after the primary. Every time Shimkus speaks, my head hurts.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on March 31, 2009 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

If only these people would decide that Jim Jones was Jesus and that he wants them to drink the kool-aid.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on March 31, 2009 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

God (if he exists) also gave us a brain. I presume that was so we could use it, but maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe he gave us a brain so we could turn it off and simply do whatever we interpret the Bible as telling us to do.

Posted by: Franklin on March 31, 2009 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Also, why worry about nukes? We shouldn't, because apparently man can't destroy the Earth.

Posted by: Franklin on March 31, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, if it is, indeed, a hotly contested title, their Final Fours must be highly interesting, giving March Madness a new slant.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 31, 2009 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

So, this former West Point grad ascribes the Cubs to the Sunnis and the St Louis Cardinals to the Shiites, as well. What a waste of an education. Yeah, the Iraq War was just another series between the Cubbies and the Cards. Would not surprise me to see him converting to Catholicism under the purview of Rev C. John McCloskey, the darling of the far right.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 31, 2009 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

I like your headline, "hard to argue with logic like that"--it's so painfully true!

Shimkus is not unintelligent... he is delusional. Big difference. It is gobsmacking to think that he is okay with the implication that his loving God can kill millions or even billions of people by flood, drought, disease, famine and war because that's God's Will. Because, obviously, God wouldn't ask US to change or turn from our sins to save the lives of others?

I find it bizarre that on the one hand Creationists insist on the literal truth of the story of Adam and Eve, yet simultaneously deny that Christians have responsibility for the health of the earth. THIS is where they have gone with Original sin and the doctrine of atonement? Not only are they nutters, they are bad theologians.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 31, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Bring on the witch trials!

Did you see the woman behind him almost roll her eyes when he started off on his lunatic rambling?

THAT'S the problem with DC. They feel like they need to give a low-IQ theocrat the respect they'd give to a non-insane person.

Does he represent Talibanistan, IL?

Posted by: Mike on March 31, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK
Where does Shimkus get off talking about dinosaurs, fer cryin' out loud? Doesn't he know there WERE no dinosaurs? Those "fossils" were put there by Satan to make us THINK there were dinosaurs.

I thought every dumb-as-a-stump fundy knew that.

Shows what you know. The Bible mentions dinosaurs (see "Leviathan"), and they'd be around today except that they were too big to fit onto the ark.

See this display from the Kentucky creation museum if you don't think humans and dinosaurs coexisted.

Posted by: nonc on March 31, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK
I like your headline, "hard to argue with logic like that"--it's so painfully true!

I'm reminded of a comment that a friend of mine, a staunch Democrat, made when explaining why she had decided to vote for Weld, the Republican, over Silber, the Democrat, in a Mass. gubernatorial race some years ago:

"Weld is wrong, but Silber is crazy. You can argue with 'wrong'."

Posted by: nonc on March 31, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK
"The Earth will end only when God declares it's time to be over," the Illinois Republican said.

I sent two boats and a helicopter...

Posted by: God on March 31, 2009 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call..." Personally, it's a matter of taste, I guess. I would have chosen a calliope, but I assume God didn't know what they were back then.

Posted by: sparrow on March 31, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Good grief. I live in this idiot's district, and we can't get a decent Democrat to run against him.

Over in the district next door, Democrat Jerry Costello would be vulnerable to a strong Republican challenge - the goldmine of Democratic votes that is East St. Louis is what keeps Costello in office. There's probably a deal that if the Republicans don't mess with Costello, then the Democrats won't mess with Shimkus. That's the way Illinois politics works.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 31, 2009 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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