On Saturday, I wrote a post for Oxdown Gazette, wondering who had placed a hold on two important science appointments in the Obama administration. Sunday I received emails suggesting the culprit putting holds on the nomination of Dr. John Holdren as Obama’s science advisor, and on Dr. Jane Lubchenco to head the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
Calls early this afternoon to one of the Senators on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation in Washington D.C. (and to another source in DC) confirmed that the holds have been requested by Sen. Vitter. Nobody felt at liberty to tell me why the holds have been placed, but my last source stated, "We want these nominations to proceed as soon as possible."
Sen. Vitter was the only Senator to make a fuss during the February 12 nomination hearings. Here’s how Mike Dunford from the Panda’s Thumb described part of Vitter’s questioning of Holdren:
Vitter asked Dr. Holdren about a statement that Dr. Holdren made back in 1986, where Dr. Holdren said that global warming could cause the deaths of 1 billion people by 2020. The key word in that sentence is "could." Just in case you are as unfamiliar with the English language as Mr. Horner’s source appears to be, allow me to point out that "could" is not in fact a synonym for "will".
Dr. Holdren responded by saying that he thought that was unlikely to happen. For the comprehension impaired, which apparently includes both Mr. Horner and his hearing room confidant, that means that he doesn’t actually think that’s going to happen.
Vitter interrupted him, saying, "do you think it could happen?" Dr. Holdren said that he though it could happen. Vitter interrupted him again, saying, "so you would stick to that statement?" Dr. Holdren replied that he didn’t think it was likely. Vitter repeated his question again, and Dr. Holdren agreed that it could. Vitter clarified by asking, "one billion by 2020?" and Dr. Holdren responded by saying, "It could."
At the end of his questioning, immediately after being chastized by the chair for already being well over his allotted time, Mr. Vitter returned to the topic, asking yet again if Dr. Holdren thought that 1 billion deaths was still a possibility. Dr. Holdren agreed that it is in fact possible.
Anyway, we now have somebody to watch. Vitter’s February questions to Holdren about billions of people dying have been picked up by some in the wingnutosphere. As if they don’t have more than enough fantasy world stuff to deal with already.
hat tip to Siun for help on getting information on Sen. Vitter