GUEST: Journalist David Roberts of Vox.com
PLUS: More on concerns about KY election results; NY AG subpoenas ExxonMobil...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2015, 5:58pm PT  

Yes, there is a U.S. House Committee that is even worse than the Benghazi Committee, argues my guest on today's BradCast.

But, first, we follow up yesterday's disturbing show with a few more concerns about the accuracy of the 100% unverified results of Tuesday's Gubernatorial election in Kentucky and state Democrats' ability (or interest) in understanding the dangers of computerized vote tabulation systems. In short, they don't get it. Not by a long shot --- at least if my conversation with folks at the state Democratic Party today are currently any indication.

Next up today, David Roberts of Vox.com joins us to discuss the McCarthyesque behavior of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, as the Republican assault on science continues. Smith, Robert's reports, is wielding unprecedented new subpoena powers in an unyielding attack on scientists and public institutions researching climate change and more.

"In the almost two years since he's run the Science Committee, Lamar Smith has issued more subpoenas than all previous chairs of the committee, going back some fifty years," Roberts explains. "He's newly empowered and he's going nuts with it."

Roberts details three different cases in point, as laid out in his recent article at Vox, including extraordinary demands being made on a number of different, largely unknown scientists, who had the temerity to study and speak out about findings on global warming.

"Our politics are so crazy these days that it's hard to register anything as particularly extreme or outrageous because there's such a flood of extreme, outrageous stuff happening all the time," Roberts tells me. "But, honestly, the head of a Science Committee accusing the head of a government scientific research body of deliberately falsifying data in order to support a political effort to pass climate policy is really a serious accusation. It shouldn't just be part of the daily noise of politics. This is a serious deal."

Roberts says this amounts to little more than an effort to keep scientists from being able to do their work, to frighten them away from reporting their findings and, hopefully, find something --- anything --- that can be taken out of context in hopes of embarrassing them somehow. "Everybody knows why they want" all these personal emails, he tells me. They want to "look for bits and pieces that, if you yank them out of context, look suspicious, and selectively leak those emails to reporters --- who, history shows, will credulously eat it up. For all the incompetence and haplessness of the current GOP right now, one thing they're really good at is they've figured out how the media ecosystem works."

Making the case that this is all worse than what the ridiculous Benghazi Committee is doing, Roberts explains: "[Hillary Clinton], at least, has the power and the resources and the wherewithal to defend herself. But these individual scientists, they don't know anything about politics. They don't know how to play this game. They don't have money for lawyers. So the damage that this threatens to do to the open practice of science in the U.S., I think, is worse than the danger posed by these more high-profile political committees. The damage that they're doing to the practice of science in the U.S. is much deeper and more disturbing than whatever the ebb and flow of who's up and down in electoral politics."

Finally today, some late breaking news on a story we've been following closely for several months now, as New York's Attorney General files subpoenas against ExxonMobil concerning what the company knew about climate change, when they knew it, and how much they may have worked to obscure that information from the public (and their own investors)...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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