Tuesday, December 13, 2011

CD6: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's Sci-Fi Re-Election Agenda // Billions to Defend Against Electromagnetic Pulses & Solar Flares?

Newt Gingrich & Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Push Bizarre Issues in 2012 Race

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has recently been in the news for something other than his Presidential campaign. The New York Times this week wrote about an odd policy priority for the former member of Congress:
In debates and speeches, interviews and a popular book, he is ringing alarm bells over what experts call the electromagnetic pulse, or EMP — a poorly understood phenomenon of the nuclear age.

The idea is that if a nuclear weapon, lofted by a missile, were detonated in outer space high above the American heartland, it would set off a huge and crippling shockwave of electricity....

Mr. Gingrich is part of a conservative movement that calls EMP an underappreciated danger. In Congress, spurred by Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett, Republican of Maryland, members of the movement hold hearings and recommend new safeguards, especially for the nation’s power grid, for which protective steps could run into many billions of dollars....
As the alarms grew, critics voiced skepticism. In 2004, Philip E. Coyle III, a former head of Pentagon arms testing, wrote that the EMP lobby seemed to “extrapolate calculations of extreme weapons effects as if they were a proven fact” and “puff up rogue nations and terrorists with the capabilities of giants.”
The NYT isn't the only publication to trace Mr. Gingrich's EMP craziness back to Maryland's Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches magazine recently elaborated on Mr. Bartlett's role in the EMP debate:
The instigator of a Congressionally-authorized Commission to study EMP is Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Republican and Seventh-Day Adventist profiled in the denomination's magazine Spectrum for his role in a survivalist documentary in which he "shares his fear of impending threats to America and advocates that people move out of urban areas." And even though the EMP is nothing more than sci-fi fantasy, according to experts, Bartlett's theories about about it are promoted by Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Frank Gaffney, and other neoconservatives.
The national security-focused blog Dick Destiny had even harsher things to say about EMP warnings:
This is always coupled to pleas for more spending in ballistic missile defense and recommendation for preemptive sneak attack on Iran.... It is a persistent lobby with no constituency anywhere but in the far right....

In addition, it has also inspired a small congressional caucus of worthless and demonstrably incompetent nobodies — most notably the ancient Republican Rep., Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland who made it one of his life’s causes....
Indeed, The Washington Post noted yesterday that Rep. Bartlett is justifying his CD6 re-election campaign through the EMP issue and other strange priorities:
Bartlett also singled out some rather obscure interests that he said he wants to “see through” before he retires, such as hardening the state’s electrical grid from potential catastrophic damage from an electromagnetic pulse.

A destructive solar flare is a question of “when, not if,” Bartlett said. 
Notably, Mr. Bartlett yesterday stated that he was running for re-election because Republicans would lose without him. Now that I'm seeing more of his views and priorities, I'm not so sure I agree. I just can't see how these quirky conspiracy-theories and survivalist priorities will play in the new CD6.

If you want to see more evidence of what I'm talking about, check out the trailer to Urban Danger, a survivalist film featuring Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. The film labels the Congressman a "Great Depression Survivor" and states:
Watch the trailer for Urban Danger and learn why, if you have the means to do so, you should get you and your family out of major cities.

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