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Truthout: We're All Mad Here


February 20, 2011- As Alice (in Wonderland) stumbles upon the Matter Hatter's tea party, the Cheshire Cat greets her with, "Come on in, we're all mad here." The Cheshire Cat should be posted at the door of the new House of Representatives. With the Republicans turning Congress into a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, first in line to receive the sentence of "off with their heads" are environmental regulations and the scientific community, if not the scientific method itself.

Disdain for climate science has become obligatory for Republican politicians and even a few Democrats. Former believers like Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) (Tweedledee and Tweedledum) have disappeared into the Republican global warming witness protection program. Every single Republican presidential hopeful is making the March Hare look sane by proudly standing up for scientific illiteracy.

The impetus for this antiscience rumpus is not that the scientific evidence has been repudiated, or even lost its shine. Quite the opposite. The research, the scientific conclusions and the warnings of the scientists have only become steadily stronger. This year's catastrophic worldwide weather extremes add further urgency to their warnings. The world's largest insurance companies and even our Defense Department believe strongly in the science. The supposed "climate-gate" email scandal that made headlines last year and was recited relentlessly by climate deniers has been thoroughly debunked by multiple independent investigations.

Nonetheless, House conservatives are serving up a brew of political ideology, theology and electoral expediency they believe has created a new truth, making rationality, empiricism and science irrelevant. They have even threatened that the scientists themselves may become targets of criminal investigations, kind of like mixing Orwell's "1984" with the Salem witch trials.

And the new intoxication with antiregulation goes far beyond climate science. Many Republicans are calling for a "full offensive" against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcing the Clean Air Act, declaring it "job-killing" federal regulation. Many Tea Party victors proudly profess their desire to abolish the EPA altogether, a move that would no doubt hasten their version of Nirvana - a brutal corporate free-for-all and everyone for themselves.

Though suspicion of science has always been part of conservatives' DNA, it is their carrying water for corporations that has dragged the country down the rabbit hole many times before. When scientists declared that cigarettes were deadly and manipulated to be addictive and that we should regulate them, big tobacco screamed "junk science." When it became obvious that automobiles were unsafe gas hogs, the Big Three whined that seatbelts, then nonexploding gas tanks, then air bags, then catalytic converters and, finally, increased fuel efficiency would all be job-killers and would put them out of business.

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