Followup: Rep. Ralph Hall's unbelievable statement on science funding bill

By Phil Plait | June 2, 2010 1:33 pm

TXRepRalphHallHey, remember Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX) who inserted a totally non sequitur amendment into a science research and education funding bill in a blatant partisan ploy to derail the bill and make Democrats look bad? And remember how the Democrats tried to compromise, removing almost $40 billion of the funding from the bill, but Republicans still stonewalled?

After the Democrats managed to pass the bill despite this, guess what the honorable Ralph Hall had to say. Go on. Guess.

Did you guess this?

"I am disappointed that my Democratic colleagues resorted to using a procedural tactic to defeat Republican changes that would have saved over $40 billion and restored the original COMPETES priority of basic research," science committee ranking member Ralph Hall said in a press release after the vote.

Oh, Representative Hall. It wasn’t enough for you to accuse the Democrats of blatant and transparent partisan parliamentary tactics when they were responding to your very own blatant and transparent partisan parliamentary tactics, was it? So you went ahead and blamed them for not saving the $40 billion that they offered to cut to make you happy in the first place. Instead of taking that compromise, you slammed the door in their face.

Oh, that wacky, wacky Representative Hall. Hyperpartisan hypocritical hackery doesn’t look good on anyone, sir. I sometimes think the Emperor would be better off just coming out and saying he’s naked, rather than trying to sell us on his new clothes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (65)

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  1. Here, Have a Tiny Roundup. | BECARDIGANED | June 2, 2010
  1. Zathras

    As the Angry Astronomer says so eloquently, on occasion:


  2. Oh, the Infamy of Hall’s

  3. Cindy

    He’s just grumpy because the Democrats outmaneuvered him and also exposed his tactics.

  4. Kaptain K

    Makes me ashamed to be a Texan.
    I don’t know whether to be glad he’s not my congrescritter or wish he was, so I could vote against him come November.

  5. Allen

    Not at all surprised. It doesn’t seem like politicians care if they look like idiotic hypocrites or not.

  6. Hm…what’s that word again? Oh yes.


  7. It wouldn’t be so sad if it wasn’t what they are all doing. Blatant hypocrisy apparently works. It gets you elected.
    We live in an era of out of context sound bytes. So he will get quoted and no back story will ever mentioned. And his constituents will say – Rep Hall, our hero.

  8. RobinS

    I’m not surprised, either. His latest statement will likely feed the rats in the bellies of his supporters, and that’s all he cares about.

  9. During the healthcare reform legislation, there were quite a few people who were disgusted by the whole proceeding, irrespective of the legislative outcome: old hands yawned, and made remarks about about sausage-making. This feels like more of that (not being an old hand myself, I can’t say):

    Step 1: Lawmaker picks random piece of legislation that he knows will likely pass come what may.

    Step 2: Lawmaker suggests various amendments in the general ideological direction of his party, that he knows will ultimately fail.

    Step 3: Lawmaker issues statement deploring the base tactics, wrong-headedness and general depravity of other party.

    Step 4: Lawmaker is vilified by political opponents in blogosphere (or, in days gone by, the press).

    Win! “Look! That effete liberal atheist sciency hopey-changey warmist Bad Astronomer is against me! I must be doing something right!”

    Step 5: Lawmaker increases vote at mid-terms.

  10. Anne Noise

    What’s the easiest way to carpet bomb his e-mail with links to this post?

  11. John Matthews

    I have to echo Kaptain K’s comments. I too, am an ashamed Texan that wishes he could vote against Representative Hall.

    Thankfully, there were enough sane people left in Congress to keep his meddling at bay…

  12. There must be some sort of mental test we can apply to the dork.
    But it needs a name, a proper product name befitting it…
    I have it!
    Hall’s Mental Litmus!

  13. Sir Eccles


    step 6: Lawmaker gets caught doing what his amendment outlawed

  14. AckHallsDistrict

    Oh please, please, PUHLEASE move to his district! I need help defeating this goob. I’ve voted against him & Faily & Cornyman every time I’ve had the chance.

    I am not ashamed to be a Texan, but I am ashamed of him.

  15. Indignation

    He’s 87. At least he’ll probably be dead soon.

  16. Dwatney

    He fails Wheaton’s Law — Don’t be a dick.

  17. Levi in NY

    I feel sorry for the poor people who have to be represented by this guy. Well, I at least feel sorry for that subset of them who won’t be voting for his re-election in November.

  18. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Congressman Ralph Hall – doomed. [/cat eying delectable mouse.] (Yeah, I wish.)

  19. I saw the Rubber Man performing at the circus. Even he couldn’t pull off the contortions needed for this.
    Can we enlist our representatives in NASA’s new space exploration programs? I’d get a lot of value sending my congresscritter to another planet.

  20. Jones

    It was a stupid and petty political comment. However, I’m just as concerned with the people who believe that ‘science always pays off far more than you invest’, and blindly support an unlimited amount of the public’s resources to be put towards anything with the ‘science’ label.

  21. @ RD the SB:

    Hall’s Mental Litmus!

    Bwah haw!

  22. Mort

    He’ll watch us suffer, with a smirk of great contempt, from his lofty perch on his fully operational Death Star.

  23. Nuke3d

    I agree that we have to invest a lot in science. But at the same time I think that a colossal amount of that investment is just WASTED. Studies without result, unethical spending, wrong people getting funded, outright idiotic research being done (by complete idiots).
    Still, I think we have to live with the waste because the part of the money that actually gives real results is well worth the rest. It’s just a pity that some people can profit without contributing anything remotely valuable.

  24. Zucchi

    I love how politicians say and do things that can ONLY work if their constituency is stupid. (I’m mostly looking at Republicans, but I can’t pretend it doesn’t happen in both parties.)

  25. Ad Hominid

    I wish Hall could be more like our own representative, Randy Neugebauer (R-Tx 19th)

    No, Randy isn’t any smarter than Hall, possibly less, he just keeps such a low profile that his potential for embarrassing us remains blessedly low.
    He did rouse himself long enough to co-sponsor a Birther bill earlier this year, which gives you some idea what he might be capable of.

  26. Bruce the Canuck

    @Nuke3D re “I think that a colossal amount of that investment is just WASTED. Studies without result, unethical spending, wrong people getting funded, outright idiotic…”

    Dude, really, have you spent ANY time in private sector product development or around startups? Corporations waste *vast* amounts of money, and startups have a face-plant rate of around 90%.

  27. R.W. Thomas


    You can’t research applied science.

    You can research science–and then find the applications afterward.

    When Hertz was researching the electromagnetic spectrum, he had no idea the future his
    research would unlock.

    From teh Wiki:

    Hertz did not realize the practical importance of his experiments. He stated that,

    “It’s of no use whatsoever[…] this is just an experiment that proves Maestro Maxwell was right – we just have these mysterious electromagnetic waves that we cannot see with the naked eye. But they are there.” [3]

    Asked about the ramifications of his discoveries, Hertz replied,

    “Nothing, I guess.” [3]

  28. R.W. Thomas

    “You can’t research applied science.

    You can research science–and then find the applications afterward.”

    You know what I mean. ;P

    I mean more to describe that science doesn’t set out to find new way of doing things. It sets out to understand. Once we understand, people take that understanding and figure out new ways of doing things.

    For instance, Hertz.

  29. Chief


    Unfortunately it is not always clear where the money spent will give the best results to payback in spades. Of course some are a head scratching moment on what were they thinking but it is almost a toss of the dice on some of the predictions on where the next big thing will develop. I’m a big fan of James Burke’s Connections and When the Universe Changed and it is quite a journey to see the many twists and turns behind a idea or product.

  30. Brian Too

    Hey, look at the bright side people. He lost!

    Let’s face it. If you’re in opposition, there’s no profit in applauding the party in power. There are basically 3 messaging strategies when facing a successful gambit by the controlling party:

    1). I decry this piece of legislation;
    2). I applaud this piece of legislation but decry the means used to achieve it;
    3). I applaud this piece of legislation but decry the time taken to achieve it.

    In fact, I’ll generalize further. It’s not just opposition parties, it’s any unsuccessful political gambit. If the opposition party is successful, the controlling party will use one of the 3 above responses too.

    In every case the subtext is, if this had been won by me and my party, we’d have done better. Vote for us!

  31. Redefines the “Hall Effect”. And not in a good way.

  32. cgray

    Wow, it’s a good thing liberal Democrats never EVER engage in this kind of behavior. Of course, if they did, I’m sure Phil would be the first to call them on it. Right.

  33. Meskine

    To AckHallsDistrict: I’m here with you, voting against them as hard as I can, but alas, we live in a time capsule.

    I try not to be ashamed to be a Texan. I really try. Then along comes Hall. And Governor Goodhair. And the State Board of Education. Those idiots in Dallas on “America’s Got Talent”. This idiot in East Texas who actually watched that crap. Tis a heavy cross to bear.

  34. llewelly

    cgray June 2nd, 2010 at 9:03 pm Says:

    Wow, it’s a good thing liberal Democrats never EVER engage in this kind of behavior. Of course, if they did, I’m sure Phil would be the first to call them on it. Right.

    In reality, Phil does complain when democrats behave stupidly.

  35. jcm

    Looks like Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX) got a taste of his own medicine.

    In other news: The American Journal of Gastroenterology retracts another Wakefield paper.

  36. Your Name Here

    Wherever Ralph Hall comes from:


  37. Timmy

    If I’ve said it once ………. party politics at it’s best , both sides. It’s not about us, it’s about the party.

  38. Venture Free

    As someone who has never followed politics too closely, it seems that politics since Obama’s election has been especially vitriolic and partisan. I can’t remember seeing so many blatant attempts at stopping any and all legislation at all costs. A co-worker said that she wouldn’t be surprised if a democratic bill saying only that oxygen is good was filibustered by republicans because it’s one step away from a total socialist takeover of government.

    Do you suppose this is because we’re at a low point in the political cycle (a theory of my Dad’s) and that it can and will get better eventually? Or is it simply that politics has always been this way and I’ve only really been paying attention recently? Or has there been a fundamental shift due to information being so easily accessed that more and more BS must continually be generated to prevent voters from being better informed? Or do you think maybe it’s some other option that hasn’t even occurred to me? Or a combination of some or all of these?

    I’m not sure I know which is the true situation. I’m not even sure which one I would prefer to be the case.

  39. Timmy

    41. Venture Free Says:

    I’d say that it’s almost the always been with us. BUT we do not really know. We have history, biographies, letters and media for our information sources. All written by bias humans. Following party politics or assigning yourself a title of say left, right, concervative, liberal, republican or democrat is just lazy. No one can possibly agree or disagree with 100 % of the ideology.

  40. david

    VF said – “As someone who has never followed politics too closely, it seems that politics since Obama’s election has been especially vitriolic and partisan.”

    don’t worry. politics is usually vitriolic and partisan, you just weren’t paying attention.

  41. A lying Republican nitwit? What are the odds?

  42. fathernicolow

    Call me naive but why didn’t we just pass it with the porn ban in there? It’s not like it would have been that big of a deal.

  43. Peter

    Oh, that’s nothing. Very much akin to Microsoft spin.

    The mantra is: We are allowed to do whatever we damn well please, and when our actions turn against us it’s always the others’ fault.

    People like Hall and Microsoft executives aren’t dumb. The simplly suffer from a mental illness: they are sociopaths.

  44. dcurt

    Go figure…using a ploy to stop gov’t abuse. Politics is dirty…

    I know it’s probably hard for you to get past your obvious far left leaning…but the “COMPETES” act was intended for funding basic research and development. Not the garbage that liberals added. The original 2007 bill passed with bipartisan support. This one didn’t have the same support….

    …and you in your blind hatred you just assume that it’s conservative evil. Because it couldn’t possibly be liberal greed and an attempt to expand gov’t even more.

  45. PatK

    I’m sorry, but Republican lawmakers wouldn’t know basic funding for research and development if it bit them in inappropriate places. They still kowtow to the fantasy of the open market.

    Basic research is not-for-profit. It has to be, otherwise “results-driven” science would never take a look at the viscosity of mayonnaise and figure out there’s really, really minute effects that eventually will affect nanotechnology disproportionately. Tell me the profit potential of the Ice Cube (cubic kilometer neutrino observatory in Antarctica).

    This one “didn’t have the same support” because it had any Democratic backing at all. The mantra right now is super-obstructionist, so yes: if Democrats tried to pass a motion backing water as essential to life, it would somehow be twisted into mandating open-source not-for-profit big-government hydration over the small-businessman and his other-clear-liquid alternatives.

  46. stogoe

    it seems that politics since Obama’s election has been especially vitriolic and partisan.

    Yes and no. Politics has always been hardball, but the militia-folks who are uncomfortable with a Melanin-American being POTUS have hijacked the Republican Pravda and as such the crazies have full control of a cable news network (and regular appearances on the other two).

  47. Ginger Yellow

    “Studies without result”

    If we knew there’d be a result beforehand, we wouldn’t have to do the study in the first place.

  48. Nige

    @Nuke3d It’s part of the nature of science that sometimes you don’t get results/results aren’t publishable. Of course good scientists will always find ways to minimise risks/factor in as many variables as possible to hopefully avoid bad results. There isn’t enough reporting of negatives in science journals IMHO, sure its great to know what does work but if you don’t know what doesn’t work then there is no way to stop people from replicating previous errors.

  49. Mike

    Get government/bureaucrats/politicians out of my bedroom, away from my body, out of the marriage business, out of the backyards of other nations, and yes, out of science.

  50. dcurt

    “fantasy of the open market”…are you serious? It’s the open market that even provides the money that our politicians are so eager to spend. I guess you’d prefer a gov’t manufactured car or maybe even some tasty gov’t cheese.

    “Basic research is not-for-profit”…I guess that’s why this bill needs the DOC Loan Guarantee Program for businesses and DOC “regional innovation clusters” to “facilitate market development of products and services.”

    New programs:

  51. RMcbride

    It’s things like this that make me think that we are all doomed. We have a history of what it is like to be in the dark ages, but people like this actively seek policy that will bring it back. At least for us.

  52. Daffy

    It’s funny…during the Bush years when Republicans controlled the entire federal government, spending and deficits skyrocketed, as did expansion of government, corruption, and its intrusion into our personal lives. And still everyone talks like Republicans favor fiscal responsibility and smaller government. It actually is kind of funny.

    Or, as Harry Nilsson once wisely observed, “Everything is the opposite of what it is.”

  53. DennyMo

    You see incorrigible evil, I see someone fighting a losing battle against a spend-crazy majority engaged in reckless growth of our national debt. It is naive of BA to expect a program that once received unanimous support to continue to receive that support when it balloons so wildly beyond its original intent.
    “The original 2007 legislation passed Congress with bipartisan support-the consensus being that the priority of the bill was to focus on the important needs of basic research and development. This bill shifts those priorities, both through the implementation of new programs and the modification of existing programs, to focus on technology commercialization, which many members may consider to be corporate welfare.”

    Daffy, reading off Keith Olberman’s talking points, I see. Not all conservatives were happy with governmental growth during the Bush years. My Republican congressman voted against a lot of stupid (including against invading Iraq), too bad there weren’t more like him…

  54. QuietDesperation

    Makes me ashamed to be a Texan.

    Never understood that. Why? California is full of idiot politicians of all Party colors, but I’m not “ashamed” that I happen to live here.

    As someone who has never followed politics too closely, it seems that politics since Obama’s election has been especially vitriolic and partisan.

    Yes. It is an entirely new phenomena.

    So, where exactly is the sealed subterranean bunker in which you spent the last decade? Was it comfy? It wasn’t Vault 101, was it?

  55. Gary Ansorge

    For those of you who haven’t yet lived long enough to have seen politics as an essential human endeavor, here are some really ancient points of view of that subject, dating from the 1880s by the satirist Ambrose Bierce.


    A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”


    An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.”

    ,,,and the practice of politics has changed not at all in the ensuing 130 years.

    One might also include the definition of Sorcery as: “The ancient prototype and forerunner of political influence. It was, however, deemed less respectable and sometimes was punished by torture and death.”

    Gary 7

  56. Paul

    It is not surprising that a Texas Republican would be against basic science research. They tend to be much more comfortable with faith than with science. Science makes that 6,000-year-old earth look pretty foolish, but faith can make one feel so loved. Remember, there is no gravity. It is just a loving earth holding us close.

  57. Daffy

    QD, you might want to leave your own bunker. The media are dominated these days by right wing wackos like Glenn beck and Rush Limbaugh. You are living in the past yourself if you still believe in the mythical “Liberal Media.”

    Maybe once upon a time, but no more. Nowadays it is treason to criticize a Republican president; it is our patriotic duty to criticize Democratic one.

    (The truth is it is our patriotic duty to criticize either one, IMO.)

  58. Mena

    Daffy, what I find hilarious about that is that they do indeed whine endlessly about the evil liberal media eating their babies but in the next breath will tell you that Fox is teh awesome because (insert memorized numbers) people watch it and it’s #1 in ratings. Reciting memorized factoids doesn’t count as knowing what one is talking about, and that’s why “conservatives” are usually ridiculed by people outside of their circle. Yes, I’m looking at you dcurt…

  59. Gonzo

    However, I’m just as concerned with the people who believe that ’science always pays off far more than you invest’, and blindly support an unlimited amount of the public’s resources to be put towards anything with the ’science’ label.

    Oh, yeah, right. Because science gets unlimited federal funding. And I forgot this bill represents a new unlimited amount of funding. Save the faux-but there’s another side to this-outrage for something real.

  60. David Padawer

    What a pig. I suggest he drive to his Texas coast, hop on a speedboat. drive to the middle of the Gulf of Mexico and toss a match.

  61. I am running against Ralph Hall in November 2010.

    My first and foremost mission is to oppose the coming unilateral, pre-emptive invasion of Iran, supported by the Republican War Party.

    After watching Rick Perry (R-TX) reject $Billions of federal education money, in order to perpetuate his “Onwards Christian Soldiers” war policies for Texas kids, and seeing Ralph Hall blindly follow along on the winds of war, my conscience compels me to run against him.

    Gone are the days of unchecked Republican rule around here!

    Jonathan Gal
    US House District TX4

  62. H Lee

    What planet are y’all from? I wish there was a required IQ test before you were allowed to vote. John Stossel said the other night that “stupid people shouldn’t be allowed to vote”. I agree. Many of our problems would be eliminated and many of you on this thread could go back to worrying about replacing the mud flaps on your trucks and planting your cannibals in the back yard and frolicking at hippie hollow.


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