Tuesday, October 27, 2015

On Lamar Smith, Chair person of the House Science Committee

Rep. Lamar Smith
Chair of the House Science Committee
Alfred E, Newman
Mad Magazine
You can easily tell the two apart, since Rep. Smith wears glasses and parts his hair on the left.

You should read "The House science committee is worse than the Benghazi committee". The article says that the NSF budget is some $7 billion per year. and that Chairman Smith has asked for complete information on 20 NSF grants with a total value of $26 million; the projects date back to 2005. If my arithmetic is right, the total budget for NSF in a decade (2005 to 2014) would be $70 billion, and the $26 million of projects that interest Rep. Lamar Smith would represent 0.0037 percent of the NSF budget over the period. The article reports:
Four times this past summer, in a spare room on the top floor of the headquarters of the National Science Foundation (NSF) outside of Washington, D.C., two congressional staffers spent hours poring over material relating to 20 research projects that NSF has funded over the past decade. Each folder contained confidential information that included the initial application, reviewer comments on its merit, correspondence between program officers and principal investigators, and any other information that had helped NSF decide to fund the project.
The article also states:
This year, Smith was one of the committee chairs granted sweeping new subpoena powers by his fellow House Republicans, what one staffer called "exporting the Issa model." No longer is the chair required to consult with the ranking member before launching investigations or issuing subpoenas.......No chair has taken to his new role with as much enthusiasm as Smith.
The article also cites a letter from the ranking member on the Science Committee, including the following:
In the past two years and ten months that you have presided as Chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology you have issued more subpoenas (six) than were issued in the prior 54 year history of the Committee. 

Rep. Smith apparently was not on the Science Committee before being appointed to be its chair. He is a member of the Tea Party Caucus.
Smith is skeptical of global warming. Under his leadership, the House Science committee has held hearings that feature the views of skeptics, subpoenaed the records and communications of scientists who published papers that Smith disapproved of, and attempted to cut NASA's earth sciences budget.
Smith has consistently supported restrictions on abortion. In 2009, Smith voted to prohibit federally funded abortions. In 2006, Smith voted for the Abortion Pain Bill, which would “ensure that women seeking an abortion are fully informed regarding the pain experienced by their unborn child”, and the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would “prohibit taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions”.
He graduated from T.M.I.: The Episcopal School of Texas (1965), Yale University (1969), and Southern Methodist University Law School (1975). He is a a Christian Scientist. In 1992, he married Elizabeth Lynn Schaefer, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, as was his first wife, Jane Shoultz, before her death in 1991.

I don't see anything in that background that prepares him to lead legislation on science.

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