Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Republican War on Social Science

They’re winning it.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., boards an elevator at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Dec. 31, 2012.  

The first time anyone outside of Florida’s Space Coast heard of Rep. Bill Posey, he was talking about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. It was March 2009. Posey had been in office for two months, and he was the first to propose a bill requiring presidential nominees to hand over “documentation as may be necessary to establish that the candidate meets the qualifications for eligibility.” He was Internet-famous overnight. Stephen Colbert was asking him to prove that he, Posey, wasn’t part alligator. “There is no reason to say that I'm the illegitimate grandson of an alligator,” said the congressman.

Posey’s been re-elected twice since then, and on April 17, he got the chance to stare down the president’s science czar, John Holdren. Posey and fellow Republicans on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee wanted Holdren to explain why the National Science Foundation was wasting so much money from an asked-for budget of $7.6 billion.

Posey read off titles of NSF-funded research projects. “ ‘Picturing Animals in National Geographic for the years 1988 to 2008’ costing $227,000,” said Posey. “ ‘Kinship, Women's Labor and China's Economic Performance in the 17th to 21st Centuries’ costing $267,000. ‘Regulating Accountability and Transparency in China's Dairy Industry.’ … I mean, it's just hard to conceive how those are important to our national security or our national interest.”

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