Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 26, 2009

HOAXES.... Listening to the House debate over the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) is a surprisingly frustrating experience. It's probably better that most Americans don't actually see these debates -- it would undermine faith in our system of government.

At one point today, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) noted, "It is very difficult to find common ground if the other side rejects the science of our times." Truer words, never spoken.

Take, for example, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.). Broun is perhaps best known for telling reporters late last year that he fears that President Obama may establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on Americans. He added at the time that Obama reminds him of Hitler. Today, the Georgia Republican shared his thoughts on the environment.

"Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.... And who's going to be hurt most [by ACES] the poor, the people on limited income…the people who can least afford to have their energy taxes raised by MIT says $3,100 per family.... This bill must be defeated. We need to be good stewards of our environment, but this is not it, it's a hoax!"

The "$3,100 per family" line has been debunked over and over again -- the MIT scholar Broun cites has specifically tried to explain to Republican lawmakers that it's completely bogus -- but they just can't seem to stop using it.

Regardless, the general inanity of the speech is what's troubling. Ideally, the two major parties would at least agree on reality. Reasonable people would look at the evidence and recognize the seriousness of the climate crisis. From there, Democrats and Republicans could argue fiercely over how best to address the problem.

But policymakers can't work together to tackle problems when one side prefers to believe the problems don't exist.

Steve Benen 4:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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Reality has a strong liberal bias.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on June 26, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

GOP 2009: Crazy people need representation too !

Posted by: mr. irony on June 26, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I would use every ounce of influence you have to martial a massive push to get the house and senate democrats to abandon all pretence of bipartisanship before it's too late. The GOP is dead and it isn't going to come back to life again.

Posted by: rbe1 on June 26, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think Global Warming Denialism is a hoax perpetrated by Washington Monthly and the blogging community as a way of having something stupid to mock; thus generating higher ad revenues. I personally have never met one of these so-called "denialists" and so I can only imagine that they are some sort of computer-generated effect designed solely for the purpose of generating outrage and blog traffic. I find that much more comforting than to believe that important people could be this stupid.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on June 26, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Well, what do you expect? Republicans think they need science like a fish needs a bicycle.

Posted by: Kurt on June 26, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Opponents and skeptics on global warming are ramping up. See Kimberley Strassel in WSJ. She claims many scientists now doubt AGW - but before assuming anything, check the names and their opinions if available, and get back to us. It may now be more uphill.

One irony the skeptics don't appreciate much, is that if they complain that we can't be sure what will happen - that's just a reason then for risk avoidance.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on June 26, 2009 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus will be back before the Greenland icecap meltwater is knee-high.

Ok. Thigh-high, tops. But no higher. Trust me.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 26, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know that these people are crazy per se - I think people like Broun and Inhofe are basically just bought and paid for by those who have a financial interest in not seeing anything done to fix the problem.

"Drill, Drill, Drill, Baby!"

Posted by: andy on June 26, 2009 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's just amazing. I mean, you could fake computer models and argue about historical data, but how do you ignore melting ice caps? At some point, won't they ever believe their lying eyes?

And how many Bangladeshis have to die before they agree to take action. How many Floridians? Last I checked, the American south is the only GOP stronghold left. You would think self-interest would kick in eventually for the southern GOP pols.

Posted by: danimal on June 26, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus will be back before the Greenland icecap meltwater is knee-high.

Maybe he'll teach us to walk on water.

Posted by: Danp on June 26, 2009 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Unhelpful? Obstructionist? Pretending the problems don't exist? But ... that's where the money is!!

Screw this "governing" crap. The modern GOP exists for purposes of furthering its own power and financial goals, and rewarding its contributors. Running things and taking responsibility for results actually runs contrary to those purposes.

That, and a large amount of the GOP's base seems to be bats!t crazy on issues like climate change.

Posted by: Bokonon on June 26, 2009 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

They do not care. Their constituents, bigoted, ignorant, superstitious savages with cell phones, do not care.
If I were a Bangladeshi, I'd be lobbying my government to get its hands on a nuclear weapon or three. Just a little wake-up call for the First World.

Posted by: JMG on June 26, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Doctor Biobrain, we invite you to riff on this: Broun is an MD

Posted by: tsynnott on June 26, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

"it would undermine faith in our system of government".

Uh, that hasn't already happened? Even with the reps out, the dems don't have the balls to do anything. Bipartainship? Fuck that. Ram it through. Ram everything through.

Posted by: smartelephant on June 26, 2009 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, a certain percentage of the U.S. electorate thinks they are best represented by morons. It's Democracy in action.

Posted by: Jon on June 26, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

My daddy used to say that ignorance can be cured; stupidity cannot.

Posted by: mlm on June 26, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Much of America is becoming too stupid to govern. This is the bitter fruit of always shorting good public schools and affordable college education.

As Will Rodgers said back in the 1930s, "Stupidity got us into this situation. Why can't it get us out of it?"

Posted by: Ed in Montana on June 26, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

What's truly frightening is that many, many folks, a surprising number of otherwise reasonable folks I know here in pure blue Central Texas, do not "believe" in global warming. I think this is pretty simple - folks without much else still have a Wal-Mart cheap, consumptive, materialistic American lifestyle to cling to, and you're gonna have to pry that out of their cold, dead fingers. Drive less in smaller cars? "Fuck you." Eat less, live in smaller houses in denser neighborhoods? "Fuck you." Give up the puerile 'freedom' to chew up and spit out everything in sight? "Fuck you."

I have no pity for either the predators who are leading these sheep to slaughter, or the ignorant fish who swallow the worm. Fuck them. This is bigger than psychic zombies trying to assert their pathetic, squeaky voices; this is where the adults either push the children aside and step up, or share the blame for a melting planet. You listening, Dems?

Posted by: Conrads Ghost on June 26, 2009 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that lack of any scientific literacy by a large part of our citizenry is a big part of the problem. The speeches today were a disgrace!The ignorance and confusion on BOTH sides is just depressing-not to mention the corporate bias...

Posted by: sue on June 26, 2009 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

"$3,100 per family" - "a list of 50 Communists in the State Department" - "Iraq will be able to pay for its own liberation".

Finding a Republican lying is like finding out the sky is blue.

Posted by: TCinLA on June 26, 2009 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Trust me, Dr. Biobrain, the Climate Change Deniers are indeed out there. I talk to three or four of them every day. Most of them are in the South, and perhaps the largest number (off the top of my head with my swiss-cheese meium-term memory) are found in Georgia, but yesterday I talked to a guy in San Francisco who was not only a denier but a member of the Sierra club!

Posted by: TCinLA on June 26, 2009 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

As to just how scientifially illiterate the average American is, a poll taken the end of last month reveals that 23% of Americans know what "cap and trade" means, while 46% think it has to do with salaries on Wall Street.

2-to-1 folks, 2-to-1!

Posted by: TCinLA on June 26, 2009 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

As a proud native of the state of Illinois, I can't help but wonder sometimes if old honest Abe wouldn't be kinda rethinking that whole "indivisible union" thing.

Of course, then we'd basically have a Christianist Iran on our Southern border, so that would be a problem too.

Brainwashing might be the answer, if we were sure there were brains there to launder.

Posted by: bluewave on June 26, 2009 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

You can't find common ground with people who reject the idea of ground itself.

It's because Christianity gives them a fantasy of normal life they can act out with utter impunity, assured that nothing will make any difference at all.

That or they're just stupid whores.

Posted by: alan on June 26, 2009 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Yes watching that would cause us to lose all faith in our government. When our representatives can pass a tremendous tax on the voters just because of their climate religion, it is definitely time to clean out that house.

China is laughing their rear ends off right now.

Posted by: dude1394 on June 26, 2009 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

OK, here's what's gonna happen. Congress will pass some weak changes that will slow Co2 a little. Way too little way too late. In twenty or thirty years we will be considering whether to spend billions putting a dam around New York City. Holland will be deciding whether to give up or not. Florida will be underwater. Vast numbers of humans worldwide will be moving away from coastal cities, which unfortunately is most of them. Then Congress will finally close all coal plants, put on a big carbon tax, ration electricity etc. The standard of living will be halved if we're lucky. Evangelicals will claim that this is God's plan and the Rapture is here.

Posted by: emjayay on June 26, 2009 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Not only does the elephant never forget, he also never learns anything to forget!

Posted by: Tom on June 26, 2009 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Global Warming Is A Hoax"

"The President Is A Socialist Muslim"

"Torture Is An American Value"

...such strange epitaphs for a Grand Old Party.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on June 26, 2009 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

This proves a point I thought would never happen again. This bill is Smoot-Hawley II and we learned in school that no Congress would ever make that mistake again. Little did we know.

Posted by: Mike K on June 26, 2009 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK
we learned in school

Alas, Mike, I'm afraid that the evidence to date indicates that you learned absolutely nothing in school.

Isn't it funny how there's really no difference between our dear chum Mike and his spoofer? Content-free, wholly ignorant, mindless partisan drivel -- it's all the same.

Posted by: PaulB on June 26, 2009 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the $3100 figure is ridiculous. Don't you guys read World Net Daily? According to them, the real figure is $71,000.00 per family.

At this rate, we're all going to owe a billion before the bill even gets passed. And that doesn't count the three or four hundred million jobs that are going to be lost, in the first week alone.

Posted by: Green Eagle on June 27, 2009 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

The House of Representatives is the house of the businesses, not the people. For me the paradigm always has been that America's prosperity has always been dependent on a healthy business community, so whatever threatens the business community threatens America, period. We're fond of using the term lobbyist in the perjorative, but the overwhelming majority of these lobbies represent business. A few of the lobbies push such issues as clean air, water, reduction in greenhouse emmisions, worker safety, etc, but we shouldn't be fooled into thinking that these public interest lobbies are on a numerical par with the vast sea of business lobbies. So why should we be surprised at the margin of this vote ? It's nice to label these representatives as in the pocket of business in order to feel more self-righteous, but this, in fact, is exactly what they are.

Posted by: rbe1 on June 27, 2009 at 4:25 AM | PERMALINK


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