The other half of the story...

Making America Dumb Again

The Republican Party is making this country more ignorant, bigoted, and intolerant every day.  Their adamant refusal to compromise, their denial of evidence regarding our climate, and their blatant pandering to the evangelicals is hurting our country.  Our political system hit a nadir last week when, during a nationally televised debate, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump bragged about the size of his penis as he smugly looked at the cameras.  He does not act even slightly presidential, he repeatedly tells blatant lies (even by political standards), he denies the reality of climate change, and has nothing substantive to say—and yet none of this has hurt his popularity.  As President, Donald Trump would do his best to be a dictator, as he revealed when he recently said that he would change libel laws to allow him to sue any newspapers that wrote unfavorable pieces about him.  Some of his supporters can’t tell the difference between his quotes and those of Adolf Hitler.  According to a study by Politico Magazine, Trump tells a lie every five minutes.

At a campaign rally in Iowa, Trump advocated violence among his sycophantic fans and even promised to pay the legal fees if someone committed assault.  At another rally that same month, Trump told the crowd that he would like to punch someone who was protesting at the rally.  On Friday, a reporter filed a battery complaint against his campaign manager, who allegedly threw her to the ground.  A rally in Chicago was canceled that night due to risks of further violence.  At a recent rally in North Carolina, a protester was being led out by police when a man named John McGraw sucker-punched him.  Later, McGraw showed no remorse, saying, “We don’t know who he is, but we know he’s not acting like an American.  The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”  Donald Trump could easily take a public stance and urge his crowds not to resort to violence—but he hasn’t.  While he tries to claim that he doesn’t condone the attacks, his public statements say otherwise.  We cannot let this megalomaniac be the Commander-in-chief.  He would scare media outlets into producing only positive pieces about him, and he would have his goons attack anyone at press conferences who stood up to his bullying.

A man who can’t seem to do anything but boast about his supposed greatness and lash out at his critics with ad hominem attacks is somehow the most likely candidate to be the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States.  An investigation published Friday by the New York Times reveals that students were coerced into giving good reviews after being scammed by Trump University.

Donald Trump isn’t the only problem in the Republican Party, however—far from it.  All of the remaining candidates hold archaic beliefs that are demonstrably wrong.  Marco Rubio won’t disclose how old he thinks our planet is, and he denies the reality of climate change.

At a New Hampshire rally on January 19th, Ted Cruz had this to say about climate change:

If you are a big government politician, if you want more power, climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory. How many of y’all remember high school biology? Remember the scientific method? You start with a hypothesis and then you use evidence to try to disprove the hypothesis, to test it to see if it’s true. Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory because it can never, ever, ever be disproven. If it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier — the climate has always changed since the beginning of time. It will continue to change till the end of time.

Ted Cruz has repeatedly denied that climate change is real, and has accused scientists of lying in order to support what he calls the “religion” of climate change.  While trying to justify his drastic cuts to NASA’s Earth Science budget last year, Cruz was rebuked by NASA Administrator (and former astronaut) Charles Bolden: “We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it.”  Oil and gas companies have given $952,607 in contributions to Cruz.

Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is (inexplicably) the Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He also is a vehement denier of climate change, and has been leading a personal witch hunt against the NOAA, due to his belief that they have falsified data because of the “climate change agenda”.  He has subpoenaed thousands of emails, despite not being qualified to understand the data.

Last month, the Union of Concerned Scientists sent a letter to Rep. Smith, asking him to call off his campaign of harassment against the NOAA.  Instead, Smith is casting an even wider net, demanding any NOAA emails that contain the terms “temperature”, “climate”, “change”, “President”, “Obama”, “White House”, and others.  Obviously (given the nature of the NOAA’s research) this would apply to almost all of the emails sent by NOAA employees.  Rep. Smith is doing all of this, despite not having any evidence whatsoever that climate scientists are falsifying anything.  Maybe the $657,397 that oil and gas companies have contributed to Lamar Smith affects his judgment (or lack thereof).

People like Louie GohmertJim Inhofe (who also blames “Darwinism” for abortions), Joe Barton, and others are helping the Republican Party fight legislation that is intended to help our environment.  In 2009, Paul Ryan (now Speaker of the House of Representatives) wrote that climate scientists were guilty of a “perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion” and that “leading climatologists make clear efforts to use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.”  Senator Inhofe is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, despite his rejection of facts and evidence.  A year ago, he attempted to disprove climate change by throwing a snowball on the Senate floor.  He has written a book that calls climate change a hoax.  For anyone with access to the evidence to be so willfully ignorant is shameful; for that person to be in charge of a committee that has anything to do with the environment is unacceptable.  By the way, the oil and gas industry is the largest contributor to Inhofe’s campaign finances, with total donations of $1,832,177.  At the very least, this is an enormous conflict of interest.  In December 2015, while world leaders were holding the COP-21 climate talks in Paris, Inhofe gave a speech to a small “climate conference” sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a group that has done more to spread climate change denial—through vigorous lobbying, and also by lying to ignorant people—than any other group.

Jim Inhofe’s ties to the Heartland Institute are strong.  He regularly gives keynote speeches at their gatherings of reality-deniers and in 2015 said that “God is still up there” as an “argument” that humans cannot affect the climate.  In June last year, the Heartland Institute honored Inhofe for “Challenging Climate Change Myths”.  The same group that experienced a severe backlash after putting up billboard that compared people who “believe” in climate change to the Unabomber (seriously) is proud to be associated with other influential people who are deliberately ignorant.  What a shock.

In 2012, the Texas Republican Party’s official platform stated: “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

After the death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year, Republican Senators—led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—have vowed to block any nominations to replace Scalia until after November’s election.  They have claimed that they will not even deign to have a courtesy meeting with whomever is selected by President Obama as a potential nominee, due to their misconception that what they call the “Biden Rule” set a precedent in 1992.  The eleven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee signed a letter to McConnell, vowing to refuse to even consider any nominee(s) to fill the void left by Justice Scalia’s death.  Texas Senator John Cornyn (one of the letter’s signatories) commented, “I don’t see the point of going through the motions if we know what the outcome is going to be.”
This refusal to cooperate with the other party echoes statements made by Mitch McConnell (before Barack Obama was even inaugurated) that revealed his plans to obstruct any legislation that President Obama would try to pass.  In 2013, Ted Cruz was instrumental in causing the two-week shutdown of the entire U.S. federal government, all because Republicans didn’t like the fact that “Obamacare” passed, and so they decided to act like spoiled children instead of doing what was in the best interests of this country.  In 2015, Cruz threatened another shutdown after the release of recordings that supposedly incriminated Planned Parenthood in illegal activities, including the harvesting of organs from fetuses.  Despite the fact that Planned Parenthood did nothing illegal (a Texas grand jury not only didn’t indict Planned Parenthood, but they indicted the people responsible for the fraudulent videos), the Republicans almost shut the government down for the second time in two years.  Even though a shutdown was avoided this time, several states have defunded Planned Parenthood.  On November 27, 2015 Robert Lewis Dear, Jr. opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.  Three innocent people were killed and nine were wounded before Dear was arrested.  After his arrest, he revealed that his murderous spree was in response to the controversial video.  He told law enforcement officers, “No more baby parts”.  The mass shooting in Colorado Springs highlights another issue, as well (one that I have written about): gun control.  Despite the fact that three and a half months into this year, there have already been 49 mass shootings in the United States (there were 372 in 2015), Republicans have blocked all attempts made by President Obama to pass gun control laws that would make us safer.

All the mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015 (Image credit: PBS NewsHour)

The problem is, Republican politicians have seemingly made it their mission to take the least-qualified people, and give them positions of authority.  With their ignorance, they appeal to the lowest common denominator and get votes, but the scary result is that they keep our society from advancing.  By rejecting things like climate change and evolution, the GOP’s elected officials are hurting everyone, including future generations.  Their partisanship, backwards views, and absolute refusal to compromise have held us back for too long.

The Author

  • Well done.. nice article..

  • AYearningForPublius

    Early on I became fearful of Donald Trump — for a variety of reasons, many of which you point out here. What capsulizes my opposition of Donald Trump is that he so much in so many ways reminds me of Barack Obama. The way I see the presidential election is three Liberal/Progressive/Democrat candidates: Clinton-Sanders-Trump vs. one Constitutional Conservative: Ted Cruz.

    On a different subject, are you aware of this upcoming debate

  • Boops

    Another well researched article, Brian. Great stuff… it condenses their gobsmacking stupidity of the last few years nicely 🙂

    • Haha, thanks. It was too frustrating for me to not write about it!

      • Boops

        I bet!

  • Boops

    Soooooooo,what the hell happened over there!? Trump won 8|

    I jumped on here hoping to see a blog post about the election from you, Brian. It will be an interesting four years.

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