The continued lowering of standards in government

The Trump Administration seems to take pride in finding people to nominate for important positions who aren’t really qualified to do them. We’ve seen judges who’ve never issued an opinion until now, we’ve seen wedding planners appointed to oversee federal funding for housing, and we’ve seen talk-show hosts nominated to be head scientist at the US Dep’t. of Agriculture. Even in this partisan era, you’d think some Republican Senators, even one Republican Senator, might have felt that the person selected to run the 20-billion-dollar National Aeronautics and Space Administration should have some scientific background and proven management abilities beyond running a small museum in Tulsa. But no, on a 50-49 vote they confirmed former US House member Jim Bridenstine to lead the agency. He’s apparently a space enthusiast, which is good, but he’s also a quibbler about climate change:

Yesterday Bridenstine got a grilling on the subject, particularly from Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. Asked repeatedly (watch here beginning at the 1:30:10 mark) whether he thought human activity was the main cause of recent climate change, Bridenstine looked like an animal trying to wriggle free of a trap. Virtually all scientific organizations, including the American Meteorological Society, the National Science Foundation, and the American Geophysical Union, have no problem with such a clear statement. But when the Senator pointedly asked the NASA nominee “What is the scientific consensus on climate change?” Bridenstine waffled: “I think right now we’re just scratching the surface as to the entire system of the Earth…” Frustrated, Schatz gave up. Even though NASA itself says the consensus is very strong, Bridenstine, for whatever reason, couldn’t bring himself to say it. He was evasive to the point of dishonesty.

Wonderful. NASA isn’t a regulating agency, but it provides a lot of the data Earth Science professionals use. What’s this guy going to say or do when some newly-acquired data is put into a report confirming that humans have increased the rate of climate change? We’ve seen reports suppressed before for political reasons. Not by NASA, but I remember a report the Department of Homeland Security issued a few years back which determined that the terrorist threats America had most to fear were from right-wing extremist groups; conservative Republicans in Congress raised such a fuss the report was pulled.

Just another example of the malfeasance of Trump and the people who voted for him.