Litmus Testing

A follow up to my polemic on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, to hopefully further illustrate my point that, in the most scientifically advanced civilization in the history of history, the people making policy decisions about science have no clue what they’re doing.

Not to say that everyone on this committee doesn’t deserve to be.  I understand the committee is large, and it would be unreasonable to expect everyone to have a background in science — and it would probably be unwise, as well, as scientists tend to be (myself included) an excitable and erratic bunch and it’s nice to have some lawyers and CPAs to reign us in and tether us to physical and fiscal reality.  But take a look at this list of all the members on the science committee, and ask yourself if we maybe can do better.

I maintain that I’d like to see committees in the House and Senate have a basic literacy test to determine whether you are allowed to serve on them — I know I, for example, would have no clue what to do if placed on, say, the agriculture committee.

Oh, and when you get to Jerry McNerney, pause and ask yourself how he’s managed to refrain from murdering everyone he works with out of frustration.

Without further ado — the entire composition of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in the 112th Congress is as follows (all information courtesy of Wikipedia, take with a grain of salt):

  • Ralph Hall (R-TX, chairman): 89-year-old lawyer with a background in old-school metal casting and forging; does not believe in anthropogenic climate change, contradictory to 90-something percent of the entire scientific community
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX, ranking member): registered nurse; voted against net neutrality
  • Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI, vice chairman): lawyer whose closest experience with science since junior high biology seems to be the fact that his great-grandfather invented Kotex napkins
  • Jerry Costello (D-IL): police officer
  • Lamar Smith (R-TX): lawyer who introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was widely panned by, oh, everyone in the technology industry
  • Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): history major and judge who denies global warming, crediting rising carbon dioxide cycles to — and I quote — “dinosaur flatulence”
  • Lynn Woolsey (D-CA): HR manager
  • Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD): 86-year-old with a B.S. in biology (good start) and a PhD in physiology (solid) who defended Todd “Shut That Whole Thing Down” Akin by claiming “there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape” (face plant)
  • Zoe Lofgren  (D-CA): lawyer; opposed SOPA; anonymously dubbed a “Hero of the Internet,” possibly by Anonymous (finally, a winner!)
  • Frank Lucas (R-OK): farmer and agricultural economist whose family has lived in Oklahoma for over a century; sits on the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics
  • Brad Miller (D-NC): lawyer and economist with no background in energy; ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment
  • Judy Biggert (R-IL): lawyer on the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment with a 0% satisfactory score from three different energy interest groups
  • Dan Lipinski (D-IL): PhD in and professor of science (unfortunately, political science)
  • Todd Akin (R-MO): not even going to belabor this one any more
  • Donna Edwards  (D-MD): worked for Lockheed and the Spacelab program before earning a law degree (nice)
  • Randy Neugebauer (R-TX): accountant rated by one survey as the “most conservative” member of the House, which would be an impressive superlative if it wasn’t so terrifying in its implications for the advancement of scientific progress
  • Ben Luján  (D-NM): career politician
  • Michael McCaul  (R-TX): lawyer and richest member of Congress; routinely votes against anything with the word “renewable” attached to “energy”
  • Paul Tonko (D-NY): degrees in mechanical and industrial engineering; CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (awesome)
  • Sandy Adams (R-FL): police officer (respectable, don’t get me wrong, but not relevant)
  • Jerry McNerney  (D-CA): PhD in math, focusing on differential geometry; scientist at Sandia National Labs; wind power consultant; turbine engineer (total BAMF)
  • Ben Quayle (R-AZ): Dan Quayle’s son; lawyer; argues Barack Obama is the “worst president in history,” which William Henry Harrison might have a point or two to argue with if he HADN’T DIED AFTER A MONTH IN OFFICE BECAUSE HE WAS TOO GODDAMN STUPID TO PUT ON A RAINCOAT
  • Terri Sewell  (D-AL): lawyer with degrees from Princeton, Harvard, and Oxford (totally under-qualified for this job, clearly)
  • Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN): lawyer; missed a massive 17.8% percent of floor votes this quarter (median is 2.5%)
  • Frederica Wilson (D-FL): educator; has asked John Boehner to lift the rule prohibiting hats on the House floor as she is an “avid wearer of hats” (relevant? maybe)
  • Scott Rigel (R-VA): ex-marine and car dealership owner; supported Paul Ryan’s budget which makes massive cuts to science, space, and technology funding
  • Hansen Clarke (D-MI): lawyer; bachelor’s degree in fine arts
  • Steven Palazzo  (R-MI): ex-marine and CPA
  • Suzanne Bonamici  (D-OR): lawyer
  • Mo Brooks (R-AL): lawyer
  • Andrew Harris  (R-MD): anesthesiologist (no complaints from me on this one)
  • Randy Hultgren  (R-IL): lawyer
  • Chip Cravaack (R-MN): ex-Navy and -commercial pilot; B.S. from the Naval Academy (again, no complaints)
  • Larry Bucshon (R-IN): heart surgeon (no complaints)
  • Dan Benishek (R-MI): surgeon; endorsed Herman Cain for president, which should say something about his intelligence, if not his sanity
  • Paul Broun  (R-GA): medical doctor WHO IS ON, I WILL SAY ONE MORE TIME, THE GODDAMN HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND FUCKING SPACE AND STILL — STILL — SAYS SHIT LIKE THIS

The Earth is about 9,000 years old.

The Earth was created in six days as we know them.

The sciences of embryology, evolution, and the Big Bang are lies straight from the Pit of Hell.

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