Tag Archives: Rep. Scott Garrett

My Congressman’s Belated Conversion on Trump

Note: This article contains uncensored quotes of American politicians, and may be unsuitable for polite company or children.

Dear Congressman Garrett (R-NJ-5th):

I was curious to find your name on the growing list of Republicans who have jumped ship on Donald Trump. Finally, after The Washington Post released video recordings of him boasting about sexually assaulting women. Digging a little deeper, I found only a vague statement from you calling his conduct “inexcusable.” Specifically, it appears you said:

“I am appalled that he would brag about violating a woman’s physical boundaries. As a husband and father of two daughters, I denounce his comments and the behavior that it incites.”

On October 7, the Washingotn Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

On October 7, The Washington Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

Well, that’s good. Here in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, I suspect that just about everyone with daughters or granddaughters (like me) would say no less. And most people who care for any woman or girl would surely agree.

So, bravo, congressman! I guess.

I’m assuming this means you’re no longer really supporting Trump. Am I right? To be sure, you’ve been willing to stand with him through a lot. Until now, nothing he’s done has cost him your support. But then, why now? Please, sir: How is this so different from the litany of outrages that you’ve tolerated to this point?

  • Mexicans are criminals and rapists (June 16, 2015). Trump kicked off his campaign with this shocker. Not a problem for you, Mr. Garrett. Right?
  • POWs, like John McCain, are not war heroes (July 18, 2015). A little awkward? But you went along.
  • “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” (November 12, 2015). I guess we’ll just call that political hyperbole, right? All good.
  • “Now this poor guy, you ought to see this guy” (November 24, 2015). Trump flailed his arms to mock the disability of a reporter who had debunked his scandalous claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. But this somehow didn’t bother you?
  • “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” (December 7, 2015). You remember? Trump’s absolutely shocking call to violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Sure, it wasn’t your religion he was talking about. But it was too much for your fellow NJ Republican, Christie Whitman.
  • Cozying up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (December 18, 2015). That cost Trump a few GOP endorsements, but you were still good.
  • PolitiFact gave Trump the 2015 Lie of the Year Award (January 1, 2016). 70 percent of Trump’s public statements were Mostly False, False, or Pants-on-Fire False. Only 16 percent were either True or Mostly True. You, a religious man, were unmoved. At least he isn’t Hillary (whose PolitiFact ratings bear absolutely no resemblance to Trump’s).
  • “Knock the crap out of them, would you?” Trump’s many instances of incitement to violence against opponents (this example, February 1, 2016) were a bit awkward for people who favor peaceable discourse. For you, not so much.
  • Torture as American policy is a good thing: “I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” (February 6, 2016). It was way too much for many of your GOP colleagues. But despite all that stuff in the Bible, the Constitution and the Geneva Convention about the dignity of human life, not you.

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump's statements in 2015 to be false

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump’s statements in 2015 to be false

  • KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsed Trump, and the candidate refused to disavow the endorsement (February 28, 2016).  Practically every Republican with the word “Former” in his title condemns Trump at this point. Any reaction from you, Mr. Garrett? Hmm.
  • A candidate who boasts to the country about the size of his penis (March 3, 2016) is probably something our nation’s founders probably never really thought much about. Mitt Romney flipped out. Still no word from you.
  • My wife is prettier than your (ugly) wife (March 23, 2016). Trump’s Twitter post to debase Ted Cruz’s wife based on her appearance shocked women everywhere. Despite your love for wife and daughters, no comment from you.
  • A judge can’t rule on my Trump University fraud case because his parents were Mexican (June 5, 2016). Mr. Garrett, this didn’t bother you? You still didn’t speak up?
  • We just might renege on our treaty obligations and abandon our NATO allies: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself” (July 20, 2016). Even the prospect of a Free World without solid alliances didn’t bother you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Let’s ask Russia to hack into the Democratic Party’s computer records (July 27, 2016). Cyber warfare may be a serious threat, but let’s keep our priorities straight: Beat Hillary at any cost, right?
  • Bereaved Muslim Gold Star parents have nothing to say, and it’s because of their barbaric religion (July 30, 2016). The trickle of GOP defections from Trump swells to a torrent, but still no word from you, Mr. Garrett?
  • After the election, NRA allies can still stop a future President Hillary Clinton, implicitly by assassinating her (August 9, 2016). Well that was awkward. Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan – all great leaders tragically shot. But I guess we’ve got to find some way to stop our political opponents in this country of ours. Still no word from you?
  • “He’s the founder of ISIS” (August 10, 2016). Interviewers virtually begged Trump to say he was joking about President Obama, but he held the line. And you went right along. A torrent of GOP defections ensued. No problem yet for you, Mr. Garrett?z1aj7ceqopjtftpbiflgptm_cmiobey5ovqq4xbavwfn-wiqdt8uxf4xw_l9lxoj3lrw5swoojhfyvaexdttr8xkqcf58toz5batt_ph-zxreoflclsqeoxmgzbzmqe6gs2yoacg
  • “I’m not a big believer in manmade climate change” (August 11, 2016). Eleven times, Trump called climate change “a hoax” or “bulls**t.” He even promised to kill all American and global efforts to save our children from a chaotic climate future. Still no problem for you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Trump asserts that five black men who languished in jail for 13 years for a crime they did not commit were guilty anyway, even though their innocence had been conclusively proven (October 6, 2016). Still nothing there to lose sleep over?

So far, no problems. Trump is still your man, Congressman Garrett. But there’s big trouble just around the corner. We’re about to learn – finally – something about this otherwise good man that you simply cannot abide:

“Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.” On October 7, 2016, headlines all over the world scream out Trump’s obscene boast. If you’re a rich and famous star like Trump, “you can do anything” you want to a woman.

Now that’s different. You are shocked. Shocked! Talking disrespectfully about women. Bragging about committing a vile crime. Boasting about being so powerful that you can force American women to have sex with you. Beautiful women. Women whom you can picture looking like your own daughters, perhaps?

Well, golly. Now that’s inexcusable. Do we have this right Mr. Garrett?

Just to be clear, then, it was okay that Trump vowed to kill the world’s last and best hope for saving our children from catastrophic climate change, right? It was okay when he trashed Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, women, war heroes, disabled people, and grieving Gold Star parents? It was okay when he admired dictators, advocated torture, incited violence among supporters, and hinted at assassination of an American president? And you didn’t mind when he threatened to break faith with our closest allies, and suggested they get their own nuclear weapons?

But now, he’s finally done something that bothers you. Well, sir, we welcome you. We, too, were horrified with what Trump dismisses as “locker room talk.”

But I just can’t contain my curiosity: You had no problem with all this other stuff? Really?

Digging deeper:

  • Trump’s PolitiFact dishonesty record: Here
  • Scott Garrett finally speaking up on Trump: Here
  • Trump’s statements about the “climate change hoax”: Here

Editor’s note: Beloved Planet comments exclusively on matters related to caring for God’s injured world, and especially matters related to climate change. We do not endorse candidates for public office. But this election cycle has featured very little meaningful debate on the threat of manmade climate change, one of the greatest threats faced by our world and the global Christian church today. Republican Donald Trump has vowed to kill the Clean Power Plan (as has Libertarian Gary Johnson), the centerpiece of America’s crucial contribution to the global Paris Climate Accord, signed by more than 170 countries. Such a move would almost certainly spell the Paris Accord’s complete failure.  Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have vowed to implement the Clean Power Plan and comply with the Paris pact.

So, What’s Causing Global Warming, Congressman?

After months of writing and waiting, my congressman’s office finally called back.

This isn’t just any congressman: This is Scott Garrett, the long-time Republican congressman representing New Jersey’s 5th District. The map of the 5th District tells you immediately that something fishy has been going on. It’s an irregular strip of upper- and middle-class suburban and ex-urban communities stretching from wealthy Wall Street bedroom communities to rural horse farms. Rep. Garrett’s stock in trade is his powerful voice on the House Financial Services Committee, the source of a trove of cash he receives from the banks he is charged with overseeing.

But that doesn’t keep Garrett from wandering into the general vicinity of climate science. Not surprisingly, Garrett is one of the many in Congress who swell the ranks of climate denial. In fact, the League of Conservation Voters gives him only a 3% rating, one of their very lowest. In 2010, Garrett told the New Jersey Herald that he had no idea if global warming was even happening.

Superstorm Sandy convinced many New Jerseyans that climate change was a serious risk

Superstorm Sandy convinced many New Jerseyans that climate change is  a serious risk — but not Rep. Scott Garrett.

“The real question that still exists in a lot of people’s minds, experts and non-experts alike,” said Garrett, “on the area of global warming and what role the government should have in this realm … I’ve heard a number of experts on both sides of the equation on this issue and to me the evidence, the question is still out there.”

Well, since then, more than five years had passed, several global heat records have been broken and super-storm Sandy has ravaged Garrett’s home state. So I figured that the congressman might have noticed that there simply isn’t any more scientific debate over the reality and the cause of climate change, and its costs to the folks back home. So I began writing and calling. I wasn’t going to be put off by the standard form letters touting how much he loved “landscape” and “beauty,” and all the “job-killing” EPA action he was opposed to.

I asked what he actually supported in dealing with climate change.

I asked again. And again. Until I finally got a call back, after months of trying. It wasn’t Rep. Garrett himself, mind you. It was a fellow named Stephen, one of Garrett’s staffers. Stephen had an upper-crust British accent and the refined manners that would go with it. I couldn’t believe that I was hearing from a Tea Party politician’s office; it sounded like Buckingham Palace on the line.

I’m afraid that Stephen’s British manners outshone mine by a longshot. I kept interrupting his canned talking points about “energy independence” and “all-of-the-above energy” and “job-killing regulation” with one repeated question: “What will the congressman do about the climate crisis?”

Well, of course, the actual answer was – Nothing. But you can’t acknowledge that we face a crisis, and still insist on doing nothing. So Stephen began asking me how I was so sure that climate change is happening. And particularly, didn’t I think that El Niño might have something to do with it?

“El Niño?” I asked, flabbergasted. I thought I should explain some basic facts to this mannerly Brit: El Niño patterns occur every decade or so in the Pacific, and seem to accompany spikes in global temperatures. Yes, the last strong El Niño event occurred in 1997, ushering in the then-record-hot year of 1998 (since then, a record broken four times). And yes, 2015 – the world’s hottest year ever – was also an El Niño year.

But, I asked, didn’t the congressman understand that El Niño effects last only a year or two, while global heat is growing year after year in an alarming pattern? Doesn’t he read about the decline in Arctic sea ice, and the melting of the polar ice sheets? Doesn’t he know what’s happening with rising sea levels? Doesn’t he understand the nature of greenhouse gases that are rising year after year as we burn more and more fossil fuels?

Picture2

Thermal imagery of effects of 2015 El Niño in the eastern Pacific. NASA image.

The staffer’s response took me off guard: “I suppose,” he said in his most dignified British manner, “we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

What? Wait a minute! You’re not disagreeing with me. You’re disagreeing with every university in New Jersey – Princeton, Rutgers, Drew, Fairleigh Dickenson and more. And you’re disagreeing with NASA, and NOAA, and the US Armed Services. And you’re disagreeing with 195 other countries that just signed the Paris Agreement to fight global warming.

“So, what’s your alternative theory for rising global heat?” I asked. El Niño is probably to blame, Stephen implied in an artfully cautious response. El Niño, the periodic one-year phenomenon that the whole world has failed to understand as the cause of a century-long heating of the earth.

“And how do you know about El Niño?” I asked. Of course, he admitted what everyone knows: from climate science. You know, the same scientists whose conclusions Stephen dismisses as alarmist propaganda. Or at least, when those conclusions suggest that we need to move away from fossil-fuels produced by powerful campaign contributors like the Koch Bothers.

Well, Rep. Garrett, this is simply ludicrous. Any of the thousands of young people enrolled in New Jersey’s fine colleges and universities can tell you that the basic science of climate change is well settled, and highly unlikely to be undermined by the sources you rely on, like the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute.

Maybe it’s too late, but let me just hope one last time: There are Republicans in Congress who have recognized the danger to our country, our children and our world, and are calling for climate action. In theory, at least, you could join them, and restore our confidence to some degree. The Climate Solutions Caucus is one option; the Gibson Amendment is another. And if you were to add your name to either one, you’d likely hear cheers from the 56% of Republican voters who actually support regulating carbon emissions from power plants.

And then maybe we’d manage to forget that you tried to blame long-term global warming on this year’s El Niño.

I haven’t given up hope just yet. You can still do something really good for us and our children.

What Will My Congressman Do About Climate Change?

You wouldn’t have expected to find a New Jersey produce farmer at the global climate change “COP-21” summit in Paris last December.

But there I was, among Christians from countries all over the world, praying, learning and speaking out – all in support of action to combat the climate pollution that is threatening so many communities worldwide today.

I was amazed at the strong voice in Paris from Evangelicals. The World Evangelical Alliance, representing some 600 million Christians, sent their Secretary-General, Bishop Efriam Tendero, a tireless advocate for poor. The National Association of Evangelicals provided a video message from their President, Rev. Leith Anderson, encouraging and blessing those of us on the ground. The Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization was there too, on behalf of evangelical Christians representing the church in 190 countries.

Christian speakers at Paris Climate Summit: Dave Bookless (A Rocha), Caroline Pomeroy (Climate Stewards), Bishop Tendero (World Evangelical Alliance), Katharine Hayhoe (Texas Tech. Univ.)

Christian speakers at Paris Climate Summit: Dave Bookless (A Rocha), Caroline Pomeroy (Climate Stewards), Bishop Tendero (World Evangelical Alliance), Katharine Hayhoe (Texas Tech. Univ.)

And virtually every other Christian community – Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Anglicans – were there as well, all declaring that “the earth is the Lord’s,” and appealing for all to “tend and keep” this injured earth as God’s stewards.

After two weeks of intense activity, I returned home to my farm in Andover, New Jersey. My first act was to sit down to write my congressman – Rep. Scott Garrett – asking him to join with a group of Republicans who are breaking ranks with party leadership in its opposition to climate action. I told him that every country in the world has now agreed to take bold steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that they are supported by ecumenical alliances representing virtually everyone on earth who holds to the Christian faith.

Rep. Garrett sent me back a polite note, with the disappointing news that he is opposing the Administration’s plans to fight climate change, especially the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of our nation’s commitment to reduce carbon pollution. Even so, Rep. Garrett assured me: “Like you, I support responsible, balanced environmental policies that protect the natural landscape and beauty of our nation.”

Well, I was disappointed, of course. All those awkward questions from Paris came back to me in vivid relief: Why do your politicians remain willfully blind to the cost that we all bear for your pollution? Why do you insist on the right to pollute the air we all share? Can’t you see what’s happening to the world’s climate?

Rep. Scott Garrett, NJ 5th District

Rep. Scott Garrett, NJ 5th District

And they’re talking about my own congressman, no less.

But Rep. Garrett’s reassuring words about his desire to protect the environment made me curious: What specific “responsible policies” does he actually support? So I asked him: “Please be specific: What ACTUAL policies do you support to reduce carbon pollution to reduce the harm of climate change?”

Well, this time, Rep. Garrett’s response didn’t come so promptly. I waited more than a month. Nothing.

Three weeks ago, I summoned up my hopes and wrote Rep. Garrett again: “You have assured me that you share my concern for the creation that we have been entrusted. Please tell me then, what do you propose to do about the alarming increase in greenhouses gases that are dangerously heating the planet that our children will inherit from us?”

Once again, silence.

Well, Rep. Garrett, the world has finally decided to act on climate pollution, and to solve the threat to our children and the poor of our world. Democrats in our country are mostly on board. Some Republicans are speaking up as well. Two Florida congressmen – one from each party – have formed the Climate Solutions Caucus for bipartisan cooperation on climate action.

It’s okay with me if you don’t want to answer my letters. But would you at least consider joining them? Our kids are depending on you to protect the world we will leave them.

John Elwood owns Good Hand Farm in Andover, NJ, and serves as an elder in the Presbyterian Church.