House Science Committee Actually Gonna Do Some Science Now!


"I don't think we can control what God controls."

Do you know who said that? This pendejo, hijo de puta:

Ah, Texas GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, who has chaired the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology since 2013. You know, the one that oversees little agencies like NASA, FEMA and the EPA, which Congress created after the Reds beat us to space. We WANTED to out-science people back then, not drop out of global alliances (Paris climate deal) and attack our own scientists. Sherman, set the wayback machine to December 1, 2016. That's when the committee Tweeted a link to a Breitbart "article" claiming that climate change is just a result of the natural way of things.

The committee used to NOT be a joke. Honest! Ah, but happy days are here again thanks to the good Democratic guys and gals winning back the House. Lamar Seeligson Smith, climate change denier and former Breitbart contributor, is out as the head of the committee. Happily, he's also retiring! (To be replaced by a climate science denier, naturally.)

Bueno, bueno, Carlos, you say, the House Science Committee will once again feature "science." But what does the committee actually do?

Plenty! It reauthorizes specific programs within the agencies it oversees with budgets totaling over $40 billion. Here's some scary language from the committee's most recent plan:

The Committee will ensure that federally funded research conducted through NSF, and all agencies, is in the national interest. Unfortunately, NSF has funded a number of projects that do not meet the highest standards of scientific merit – from climate change musicals to evaluating animal photographs in National Geographic. To make the agency more accountable, the Committee will enforce the original intent of the 1950 NSF Act to require that all grants serve the "national interest."

The scary part isn't a climate change musical. I mean, Hamilton made history fun, so maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda could strike gold there too. No, the scary part is the Orwellian bit about the "national interest." With a climate change denier heading up the committee, he could decide that ANY research into that crucial subject is NOT in the national interest.

So, who is replacing this shambling pile of dumb? I'm glad you asked!

Smith's likely replacement is Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, also from Texas, but she is a Democrat!

She is pretty much the exact opposite of Smith. She's a psychiatric nurse -- the first registered nurse elected to Congress, actually -- and she's a woman of color. She was the first black woman to head the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1977. She was elected to Congress in the 1990s and became the 17th chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. And now she's gonna rock the science committee, baybeee!

If she gets the gig, and the smart money says yeah, she's already got a plan. Here are her three priorities from her November 6 press release:

  • Ensure that the United States remains the global leader in innovation, which will require attention to a wide range of activities: promoting effective STEM education solutions, engaging the underrepresented minorities and blue collar workers in the STEM fields, supporting a robust federally funded R&D; enterprise and emerging areas of science and technology, defending the scientific enterprise from political and ideological attacks, and challenging misguided or harmful Administration actions;
  • Address the challenge of climate change, starting with acknowledging it is real, seeking to understand what climate science is telling us, and working to understand the ways we can mitigate it; and finally,
  • Restore the credibility of the Science Committee as a place where science is respected and recognized as a crucial input to good policy-making.

So basically it will be the exact opposite of Lamar Smith's shitshow! Mother Jones wrote almost a year to the day ago about Smith and his destruction of science in the actual committee that's supposed to protect and encourage it, under the headline "Science's Top Foe in Congress is Retiring". If Johnson gets the role, she'll be the first head of the committee to have a STEM background since, drumroll please,…

The 1990s!

Dude. That's not right.

Still, even if it's not Johnson, we'll be getting a new sheriff in science town and I hope she cleans up the joint!

What? This pithy bit of journalism piqued your interest in the committee? Well, you are in luck! Here is a 156-page history of it! Enjoy.

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Carlos Sagan

I am a biochemist MexiCAN. I also write screenplays, ever hoping to get one made.

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Good morning, America! Attorney General Bill Barr is doing a presser at 9:30 AM EDT about the Mueller report, which nobody will be able to see until around noon or after, once Congress gets the redacted report on CDs. Seeing as that is bullshit, there's no reason to watch this thing, as journalists won't be able to ask him questions about a document they haven't seen. So ... go back to bed, everyone!

Ugh, fine, we guess we will do this, and that is because we care, even though we are quite certain HGTV is doing some kind of very important "Property Brothers" marathon that adds much more of value to the national discourse, and also covers it up with shiplap accent walls. Does Bill Barr do cover-ups with shiplap? No, because he doesn't have the good taste for that.

Reportedly, we are going to hear from Barr why certain things were redacted, including why he thinks certain facts are subject to executive privilege, which is funny because he is not the president and therefore cannot invoke executive privilege. But oh whatever! Details! Robert Mueller won't be there and none of his team will be there, which tells you something about how they feel about this whole process. If they felt like this was on the up-and-up, you'd imagine they might show up to present a united front. As that is not happening, assume the entire thing is a bullshit act meant to help Donald Trump set the narrative for what will otherwise be a very bad day for him.

The New York Times reported last night that the White House has already been briefed on significant portions of the report, because Bill Barr is a rightwing scam artist piece of shit who gives the Trump White House reacharounds. The briefings have reportedly been very helpful for the White House in coming up with how to rebut today's report, which is funny because we thought Trump said this report was a full exoneration, NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION. (Actually nope on both counts, since Mueller didn't decide the obstruction question, and even according to Barr's mash notes, he took a very limited view of the conspiracy question, focusing on the Russian government's hack and dump WikiLeaks operation.)

Anyway, assuming Trump is right about full exoneration, we guess Rudy Giuliani's rebuttal will state that Trump is guilty, full stop. Because that's what "rebuttal" means, correct?

Committee chairs in the House including Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters have called upon Bill Barr to cancel today's briefing, as it is useless horseshit. Because Barr literally gives zero fucks about his reputation and apparently is OK with going down in history as a fecal stain on our institutions and the rule of law, the show will go on.

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Now What? Wonkagenda For Thurs., April 18, 2019

Bill Barr's book report, the NRA is doomed, and Johnny Cash will watch over the Capitol. Your morning news brief!


Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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