Sunday, January 29, 2017

JANUARY 2017 BONEHED ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH



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1. Mick Mulvaney, Ultra-Conservative South Carolina Congressman. How do you prove you're really the anti-science administration? It’s not enough just to deny climate change or spout anti-evolution slogans—any Republican can do that much. To be a serious member of the anti-science brigade, you need to stop funding research, including medical research.
 
Mulvaney, whom Donald Trump has tapped to be his budget director, has questioned whether the federal government should spend any money on scientific research. He recently delivered his brilliant insights to the flouride-is-a-communist-plot John Birch Society, and for those really craving a flashback to the days of “the AIDS virus does not cause AIDS,” the man who would have his finger on the figures for the nation’s research budgets justified the attack on basic science by questioning the connection between the Zika virus and birth defects.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded in April that the Zika virus causes microcephaly and other defects. But Mulvaney wrote:
 
“Brazil's microcephaly epidemic continues to pose a mystery -- if Zika is the culprit, why are there no similar epidemics in countries also hit hard by the virus?”
 
The answer is likely one that Mulvaney never even paused to consider—abortion. Brazil was hit first, but as the disease spread to other areas, increased awareness of its effects made detection and treatment more available. 
 
But for those like Mulvaney, who regard all of science as some sort of mystery religion run by a cabal of leftists who only want excuses to steal money from hard-working billionaires and halt the righteous profits that could be made selling DDT, the idea that Zika only caused 1,500 cases of microcephaly is a reason to stop the payments on science.
 

Monday, January 2, 2017

DECEMBER 2016 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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1. Senator Jeff Sessions. Back in 2000, Sessions put his finger squarely on the source of problems in America’s schools: disabled children. Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general claimed, on the floor of the Senate, that while it was a good thing for schools to make accommodations for disabled students, it had just plain gone too far:

 
… we have created a complex system of federal regulations and laws that have created lawsuit after lawsuit, special treatment for certain children, and that are a big factor in accelerating the decline in civility and discipline in classrooms all over America. I say that very sincerely….Teachers I have been talking to have shared stories with me. I have been in 15 schools around Alabama this year. I have talked to them about a lot of subjects. I ask them about this subject in every school I go to, and I am told in every school that this is a major problem for them. In fact, it may be the single most irritating problem for teachers throughout America today.
 
In his statement, Sessions repeatedly cited the federal government falling short of its funding commitments to help schools comply with the law—but his answer was not full funding, it was going harder on disabled kids. Don’t think this is just Sessions rhetoric; the new AG has also walked the walk. As Alabama’s attorney general in the mid 1990s, he fought school equality after a judge ruled on behalf of about 30 of the state’s poor school districts who sought reforms. The case continued to languish in the courts while disability advocates worried that the poorest school systems didn’t have enough to fund the bare essentials for special needs students, according to a New York Times account. The case ended in 1997 ― after Sessions won a senate seat.
 
Add disabled children to the long list of people and principles Jeff Sessions won’t be protecting as attorney general.