Stumped By Earth, Congress Looks For Intelligent Life Elsewhere

The Congress that shut the government down ponders how we would talk to a planet of zebras

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NASA / Getty Images

In this handout image provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Earth's horizon and the moon can be seen from the International Space Station July 12, 2011 in space.

These days Capitol Hill creates more problems than it fixes. The most unproductive Congress in history can’t agree on traditionally bipartisan defense or farm bills, adopt a budget agreement except under tight deadline, or pass modest gun control reforms that the vast majority of the public professes to want. Compromise eludes it; outrage is the currency of choice. And so, vexed by the challenges of this world, Congress on Wednesday went in search of life elsewhere.

Inside a Rayburn building hearing room adorned with quotes from Proverbs (“Where there is no vision, the people perish”) and Tennyson (“For I dipped into the future, far as human/eyes could see/Saw the vision of the world and all the/wonder that would be), about 20 members of the House of Representatives dedicated a few hours Wednesday morning to pondering our place in the universe. Appearing before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, a trio of scientists briefed lawmakers on the status of the search for extraterrestrial life.

“This is the first time in human history that we have the technological reach to cross the great threshold,” said Dr. Sara Seager, a planetary science professor at MIT. “This search for finding life beyond Earth—it’s so revolutionary it will really change the way that we see our place in the cosmos.”

Seager urged the development of a technology known as direct imaging that could enhance scientists’ ability to find new, life-supporting planets within a few years. “It could be our greatest legacy,” she said. Dr. Steven Dick, the astrobiology chair at the Library of Congress, urged a mission to dig into the ice crust of Europa, a moon of Jupiter: “it’s less than a billion miles away.” The third member of the panel, NASA astrobiologist Mary Voytek, touted a plan to sample the plumes of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn.

Some members of the Congressional committee, however, remain stuck in this world, where budgets are strained and constituents are focused on mundane matters like the economy. There was little indication that the government will provide any more funding for finding life on other planets. But other lawmakers seemed to jump at the chance to spend a few hours pondering metaphysical questions.

“What if they found a place with all zebras?” committee Chairman Emeritus Ralph Hall (R-Texas) mused after the meeting. “How would we talk to them?”

Others jumped at the chance to question scientists about the dangers of catastrophic asteroids or the soaring temperatures at the time of the dinosaurs. Rarely in this Congress are there moments of childlike wonder, and members seemed to enjoy the break from partisan sniping.

“It’s fun to hear something and not to leave a hearing frustrated,” said Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), “or like you want to throttle the other side.”


Dear Congress:

Since it is now beyond dispute that your flippant disregard for the Public Interest knows no bounds, and that you and your super-PAC puppeteer have chosen to make a complete mockery out of the Founding Fathers’ Legislative branch (see, e.g., reading Dr. Seuss on US TAXPAYER time), perhaps this is an apt pretext to point out an important area of “concern” that you seem to be bribed to and, shockingly, even unwilling to address: the Due Process right of the People to receive the dutiful performance by YOUR BODY to receive the underlying benefit of the Social Contract. By way of pertinent example, the efficacy and streamlined FUNCTIONING of the Independent Judiciary is being COMPROMISED by the Congress’ REFUSAL to RAISE REVENUE for the general Welfare. As in so many other contexts, here the “paid for” GOP is trying “weaken the State indirectly” by (drumroll, please) starving it of NECESSARY revenue…and, what, hold “hearings” on E.T.? How is the Congress REFUSAL to RAISE REVENUE pursuant to the express language of the Constitution NOT a "deprivation" of life, liberty or property? [see, Davidson v. Cannon (1986) 474 U.S. 344]

What, a government BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE does not have a DUE PROCESS right to ascertain if Foreign money is behind this contrived, self-imposed fiscal starvation?

Read: WHY ELSE would the State deny "entitlements" to its own People? Abolish the EPA and Social Security? 

There is no other explanation.

Reduced to its essence, the Congress has arguably already exceeded its legal authority (see, pre-meditated “shut down” in 2013) by its willful REFUSAL to perform necessary, prescribed FUNCTIONS of the Legislative branch including, but not limited to (1) promulgating a commercially reasonable Budget that ENDS the unnecessary “Sequestration” cuts; (2) confirm the hundreds of reasonable appointments to honor the Advice and Consent function of Article I, Section 8; (3) revise the Energy Bill to enjoin “fracking” within the jurisdiction of the United States to avoid unnecessary National Security risks and foreseeable Due Process deprivation to the Several States of its potable water supply WITHOUT mechanism for JUST COMPENSATION [see, e.g., documentary “Gas Land” on Netflix]; and (4) its egregious subversion of the People’s Due Process RIGHTS via Congress’ “refusal” to COLLECT ALL INCOME TAX LAWFULLY DUE to the People from ALL United States Corporations [see, e.g., documentary “We’re Not Broke” on Netflix] that have “minimum contacts” with the Several States. In short, the Federal government has no “discretion” under Federal law to “selectively enforce” the Tax laws on “fictional citizens” and “actual citizens.” Such an abuse of discretion constitutes a Due Process violation. [see, Daniels v. Williams (1986) 474 U.S. 327 (“Fair process is required
for any such intentional acts of the government or its employees causing
deprivation of property interests”)].

O beloved Speaker, would you agree that the premeditated “shutdown” is
 the de facto result of the Tea Party-led GOP’s own (1) dishonest conduct regarding
following the oath to serve the People and (2) failure to Faithfully Execute
the FUNCTIONS of Congress? 

The fact the contrived “shut down” was effectuated in a 
pre-meditated manner tends to show the Tea Party Scienter of either deliberate
 and/or negligent recklessness towards both the Full Faith and Credit Clause AND 
the Contract Clause of the US Constitution. 

In this latter regard, by
 such deliberately interference with the Several States' ability to honor their 
respective bond obligations- THIS ALONE constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of Procedural
 Due Process. The same is true of the REFUSAL to disclose this "anti-ACA playbook" to the People.  [see, Young v. Rosenthal 212 Cal.App.3d 96, 119 ("Law prohibits
 party from testifying falsely and/or effectuate larger plan to willfully and 
repeatedly refuse to allow proper government procedure to go forward");
 see CA Evidence Code Section 1222(b). Here, the misuse of the Filibuster by the
 GOP –that is, refusing to simply bring matters to a full vote likewise
 contravenes Substantive and Procedural Due Process owed to the People AND the
 Several States. [See, United States v. James Daniel Good Real Property (1993)
510 U.S. 43.] That is, the PEOPLE and the SEVERAL STATES have a LEGALLY RECOGNIZED third-party beneficiary claim to a SUBSTANTIAL PERFORMANCE of the Social Contract by the Congress. 

"It's called PLENARY power because it's exclusive to Congress, you &%$#-head." - Miss Vito, 'My Cousin Vinny'

What, the citizens of the Several
 States don’t have Due Process rights selectively incorporated via the 14th
Amendment because the GOP says so? 

What, the case law OUTLAWING Gerrymandering based on race “is no
 longer the law” because the Tea Party pays you to say so? 

[see, Shaw v. Hunt
(1996) 517 U.S. 899] 

What, the case law OUTLAWING Gerrymandering based on politics “is no longer the law”
because the Tea Party pays you to say so? [see, Davis v. Bandemer (1986) 478
U.S. 109]

That too, is a subversive
 notion, and is wholly without legal support.

summary, because the Congress REFUSES to cite not a single mandatory authority, and cannot
 proffer SPECIFIC provisions within the CONSTITUTION itself to even lend support 
to your collective "wishful" construction of our laws and Social
 Contract, the entire Tea Party-led GOP is therefore on direct notice that the
 conduct they seek to "garner support for" is, under any reasonable
 construction, outside the ambit of lawful State Action.

unlike your Dr. Seuss citing leaders in Congress, you are wasting everybody's
 time proffering "subjective" law according to the Decider. Our Bill
 of Rights precedent is more pertinent insofar it was established to LIMIT such 
transgressions of Federal law SELECTIVELY INCORPORATED by the Several States.

Res ipsa loquitur.

There is no greater INJUSTICE UNDER THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE than the most profitable United States Corporations paying an “effective” rate of ZERO when they receive the SELFSAME BENEFITS of the Federal and Several States’ concurrent jurisdiction. Not simply the Common Defense, but also Transportation, Health Care, Education and other necessary and proper administrative functions that touch and concern Interstate Commerce. 

I dissent.


While SETI is a fascinating inspiration in one sense, it's also completely ridiculous. Elements of the U.S.G. have known, since long before NASA existed, that UFOs represent extraterrestrial civilizations observing and interacting with our civilization.

If you don't believe that, then try asking NASA a simple question: "Speaking for the U.S.G., would you welcome an open and public message to the people of our world from any advanced civilizations in our solar system?"

Here's the explanation:


Eh, this is just for show/PR for members of congress. You don't cut NASA's budget at the same time as you search for life on other planets.


"Stumped By Earth, Congress Looks For Intelligent Life Elsewhere"

To find intelligent life you don't need to leave Earth; just Washington D.C.


For the cost of one nuclear submarine, we could conduct these experiments.


Congress needs to fund the effort to look for intelligent life because it surely doesn't exist in Congress.


It is ridiculous to think that Ralph Hall would come up with such irrational thoughts. No wonder why the government is looking to other places. Why are they concerned about finding intelligent life, yet there are more pressing issues in congress?


How amazingly scary and sad to think that Ralph Hall (R- Texas), whose imagination could come up with nothing more exotic than zebras as an extraterrestrial life-form, and Chris Stewart (R-Utah), whose ability for diplomacy and interaction consists of violent feelings for those who disagree with him, are (partly or otherwise) in charge of the committee which controls funding for the search for intelligent life.  Doesn't one have to begin with a basic minimum before trying gain knowledge and understanding?    


@samT If the zebras were more intelligent, we wouldn't be intelligent enough to know!


No wonder they're looking elsewhere. There are no signs of intelligent life found within Congress....


Stumped By Earth, Congress Looks For Intelligent Life Elsewhere

You could say GOP congressmen are stumped and have a problem with intelligent life as opposed to Congress. Just saying.


And this group of clowns wonder why their whole part of government is held in such low disregard?

Of course, that committee is loaded with people who believe that the universe is 6,000 years old and that every word in the Bible is absolutely true.  I wonder when the sun quit revolving around the earth as you would think the resulting reaction on the earth might have been severe enough that someone would have recorded it.


@ARTRaveler" would think the resulting reaction on the earth might have been severe enough that someone would have recorded it."

Too much risk of falling off the edge.


 “What if they found a place with all zebras?” committee Chairman Emeritus Ralph Hall (R-Texas) mused after the meeting. “How would we talk to them?”

Scientists plea for funding and this is the idiotic response we get from Congress. I don't know why I'd expect anything more.