Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has been a focus here over the years because he’s Professor Jacobson’s home state Senator. 

Whitehouse’s speech against opponents of Obamacare, in which he invoked Kristallnacht and lynchings, is legendary in the wrong way:

History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrels have rolled through taunting crowds. Broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from Southern trees. Even this great institution of government that we share has cowered before a tail-gunner having secret lists. Those malignant movements rightly earned what Lord Acton called “the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict upon wrong.”

He then went on to accuse opponents of racism:

So it’s not really shocking that amidst the reports of the death and destruction caused by the tornado in Oklahoma on Monday, Whitehouse is at it again.

The most tragic aspect of this disaster is that the twister hit an elementary school:

At least 20 of the 51 people killed by a devastating monster tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., were children, the Oklahoma Chief Medical Examiner said this evening, as searchers picked through the rubble of schools, homes and businesses leveled by the storm.

I follow climate science discussions closely, and figured that it would be about 24 hours before some politician would tie the tornado to man-made global warming.

It didn’t even take half that time before a Democratic Senator made the distasteful and unscientific commentary:

While many Americans were tuned into news coverage of the massive damage from tornadoes ravaging the state of Oklahoma, Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse took to the Senate floor to rail against his Republican colleagues for denying the theory of anthropogenic global warming.

Whitehouse spent 15 minutes chastising GOP senators and justified his remarks by alluding to states that seek federal assistance in the wake of natural disasters.

“So, you may have a question for me,” Whitehouse said. “Why do you care? Why do you, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, care if we Republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? I’ll tell you why. We’re stuck in this together. We are stuck in this together. When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms. It hits Oregon with acidified seas, it hits Montana with dying forests. So, like it or not, we’re in this together.”

There is a fairly long list of tornado outbreaks that have impacted this country over its history.  They include time periods before the use of fossil fuels and the Republican Party (e.g., The Great Natchez Tornado of 1840).

More dead than injured
Today, most government agencies — the National Water Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and others — put the death toll at 317 and 109 injured, the only tornado where the dead outnumber the injured…The tornado’s destruction on land and water was estimated at $1,269,000 in 1840 dollars. That would translate today into about $21 million.

How strong was it?
So destructive was the storm that a piece of a steamboat window was reportedly carried 30 miles. Government weather agencies have no idea where on the Fujita scale of F1 to F6 the tornado would rank, though it seems likely that its devastation would certainly equal an F5, the highest ever recorded, which carries winds of 207-260 mph

It would be very refreshing to see a Democratic representative refrain from using children’s deaths to deride Republicans for a change.

And I say that as a Democrat.

Update: Sen. Whitehouse pleads ignorance, says he had no idea about Okla. tornado when he gave his global warming remarks. And he also didn’t know his investment advisor was selling out his portfolio just before the 2008 crash, Sheldon Whitehouse, luckiest investor in America?


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