April 21 Sources - Politicizing Science

The most interesting of today’s sources is “When Scientists Politicize Science” making the point that scientists provide options to policymakers, but they are not themselves decision makers. It is a common fault of experts in one field to think that gives them expertise in everything else. The best leader may have little understanding of science. But then the best scientist may have a childish grasp of policy making.

Science doesn't make decisions. Your doctor may be correct when he tells you that a particular operation carries a 10% risk of death and a 90% chance of full recovery. He may also tell you that avoiding the operation will virtually eliminate the risk of death but creates a nearly 100% chance of serious disability, but he cannot tell you how to decide which risk to take. That depends on what you value. Science is often like that.

It is useful to remember that the word science comes from the Latin word for knowledge, NOT the word for wisdom (that’s sapientia). Good decisions are informed by knowledge but made with wisdom.

Sources for Today

Factcheck: DNC Immigration Ad Misleading
Hilary Frontrunner Stakes out the Middle
Mistakes in Iraq
Support for Raising the Minimum Wage
Politcal Report May 2006
President Bush’s Ratings Remain Low
Public Disillusionment With Congress at Record Levels
Beyond the Crisis in Black America
When Scientists Politicize Science

Posted by Jack at April 21, 2006 10:15 PM
Comment #142263

Sorry Jack, but this piece is a red herring - or a straw-man - or red herring man or something. I’m sure there are lots of scientists who politicize science but the real issue in our country is not that President Bush doesn’t accept policy recommendations of scientists, its that he doesn’t respect or even acknowledge the science in the first place.

Posted by: adverbal at April 21, 2006 10:59 PM
Comment #142266

Did I mention Bush?

It is about the nature of decision making. Science doesn’t make decisions and a scientist’s opinion on a political issue is no better than yours or mine. Depending on his other experience, it might be worse.

Science should be the start of a decision, but it is not the end. I think the medical analogy I used puts it in perspective. There was an interesting article in “the Economist” about experts. It said that the better informed patients tended to get LESS surgery. They asked the right questions and made the right decisions. Sometimes the expert’s opinon was modified by the questions.

BTW - I suppose it would be a red herring if you think that it is an irrelevant point meant to distract. But since the article is the main point, I don’t think it is a red herring.

Posted by: Jack at April 21, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #142270

Science is not beginning, middle or end. It’s the attitude with which you make your decision, and correct the inevitable errors of that.

That article missed a very important point early on: if you don’t get the facts straight from the start, every decision after that is compromise. In fact, at times, that compromise can compound on itself, creating a disaster.

So many political decisions nowadays only consider political realities, which is to say no reality but that of perceptions. This can quickly degenerate into muddled paralysis, as the politician chooses simply to maintain the status quo and shove bad press out of the public view.

We have to start from the standpoint of what the decision means in the real world. Part and only part of that is the social and political context, and I would argue that those are most flexible parts of any response.

If we get things like global warming wrong, we do more than harm the environment, we shoot ourselves in the economic foot. If our people are the ones leading the push to more efficient, more advanced technologies, again, we will be shooting ourselves in the foot.

Bush is loading the magazine and putting the clip in the pistol, in my opinion. He regularly interferes in the language, conclusions, and various other parts of government reports on scientific subjects. Trouble is, we will still have to deal with the underlying realities, and Bush’s deception on these issues cripples us there. If you want to talk about being scientific, talk about it while supporting a president whose view of the value of science is not so egocentric.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 21, 2006 11:59 PM
Comment #142273

You may not have mentioned Cheney/Bush by name, but when you refer to science as knowledge and politics as wisdom, are you leaving Cheney/Bush out for a reason?

Posted by: Marysdude at April 22, 2006 12:08 AM
Comment #142282


It is a red herring straw because this blog is titled “Republicans and Conservatives” and because, by your posting it here, there is an implication that this paper is related to the oft repeated criticisms of the president and his approach toward science.

If am making an improper inference and you don’t believe that this paper relates to Mr. Bush repeatedly turning a deaf ear to the opinions of scientists then say so and I’ll apologize for jumping to a wrong conclusion. But if you’re trying to defend the administration’s denials of scientific learning then this is an attempt to mislead.

Posted by: adverbal at April 22, 2006 12:29 AM
Comment #142291

Quite right, Jack. Welcome to the age of specialization, where many experts in their fields all have data to put into the equation for a wholistic postive beneficial policy outcome. Only problem is, there are few to no knowledgeable generalists to weave that wholistic equation together. We get politicians instead.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 22, 2006 1:50 AM
Comment #142297


To apply your Doctor analogy:

Bush is the MD.
We the people are the patient in need of treatment.

Rather than using the best avaliable scientifically sound treatments, our doctor listens to the drug company sales pitch, his personal religious convictions and economic advisors and then makes his decision with no concern for the safety, will or comfort of the patient.

No wonder conservatives are so afraid of socialized medicine.

Posted by: Alex at April 22, 2006 2:52 AM
Comment #142307

Marysdude said: “but when you refer to science as knowledge and politics as wisdom, are you leaving Cheney/Bush out for a reason?”

For lack of Reason, more like it, eh? :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 22, 2006 5:45 AM
Comment #142313

“But then the best scientist may have a childish grasp of policy making.”

Indeed. I suppose the politicians will stop the polar ice caps from melting and rising the ocean level 3 cm.. This, ofcourse, supposes Republicans will even admit the Ice is melting. When they start using canoes in Manhattan, I expect Bush to standup on a platform and screech “This is all natural.”.

Posted by: Aldous at April 22, 2006 8:48 AM
Comment #142322

Alex extrapolated:

Bush is the MD. We the people are the patient in need of treatment.

Rather than using the best avaliable scientifically sound treatments, our doctor listens to the drug company sales pitch, his personal religious convictions and economic advisors and then makes his decision with no concern for the safety, will or comfort of the patient.

You left out:

“And then he amputates the wrong limb of the patient sitting next to us.”

Posted by: Betty Burke at April 22, 2006 9:50 AM
Comment #142328

The increased longevity is good news for old desert rats like me but bad news for the far reich as it spells more entitlement spending for social security and medicare/medicaid. But Shrub et al. have figured out the solution to gut entitlement spending with a double-edged sword. Literally.

Cut out healthcare to the elderly, the disabled, the poor children, and all the other budget benders and both problems are solved. If the neocons can kill off everyone who gets social secirity income or government subsidized medical care there are no more payments for income or life sustaining treatments thereby slashing entitlement spending to the bone. Literally.

However, it won’t help the deficit because what used to be spent for entitlements in the name of humanity will be shifted more to the entitlements of big oil, big business, inoperable defense schemes, and congressional/administration entitlements. This has been the role model of Shrub’s administrative propaganda machine and has worked well based on the tried and true Goebbels principles. Who cares if it’s Draconian as long as entitlements are eliminated. Correction: shifted around.

The most vicious example of this reworked Kommandant Eicke principle popped up in the last budget combat when the far reich wanted to conserve world oxygen by taking it out of medicare/medicaid coverage. There’s so little oxygen in the stench in D.C. little reason could be seen that others might actually depend on it for their very life. They almost succeeded but settled instead by dropping crucial medicines which kept people alive, further decreasing the entitlement obligation. What’s the difference if they suffocate to death or just die in unending agony as long as the Eiche-Rove principle works?

So profiteers should drop their holdings in Linde and buy as much stock as they can in Chinese casket companies.

Posted by: texex at April 22, 2006 10:10 AM
Comment #142332

Why do Democrats not understand? Why do Republicans act so politically correct? Look, science is supposed to be based solely upon facts or evidence that brings about a ‘scientific’ theory. When politics are added there is no fact or evidence that will be regarded because of political infighting and one upmanship. No longer is global warming fact or fiction it is political and no one regards the truth, only the evidence that helps your political affiliation is accepted.

Posted by: Preston Venzant at April 22, 2006 10:25 AM
Comment #142333

Jack keeps trolling the right wing think tanks. This institute also promotes “privatization”, which is a Republican and Democratic cover for political patronage funding.

Scientist have political opinions. Amazing! These guys really are human beings. I thought they were computers. Some people have informed opinons.

We all know that Bush is the decider. I just wish he would stop putting non-scientific political hacks in charge of putting science “on message”. This is no different than what the Catholic Church did to Galileo.

I noted something Interesting the other day: Dr William Gray of the University of Colorado,famous for his annual hurricane predictions, does not think our current warming trend is man-made. He thinks it is a natural variation.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 22, 2006 10:27 AM
Comment #142336

Jack M

My sources lean right, but they are fairly distributed (Pew, Factcheck, Brookings, Harris etc)

Stephen et al

I think we are missing the point about science and decision making. Science does not provide the actual decision criteria. When we say let the science decide, it is an abdication of reason. We also often forget how intimately science is tied to society and culture. We may well use the scientific method to arrive at conclusion, but societal context determines what we will study and the relative value we give the conclusions.

Consider the case of Summers at Harvard. His case showed that there is some science that cannot be considered in today’s political climate. Or I recall a time not long ago when the idea that genes helped determine intelligence was considered unacceptable.

Here’s some hands on science. I didn’t write anything on this blog on Thursday and most of Friday because I was out in the field studying fire in natural environments. If you burn pine forests regularly you create a savannah like system that some kinds of wildlife love. In fact, wildlife loves a clear cut forest especially if you set it on fire. So what does science tell us? Science tells us if we slash and burn in a middle Atlantic ecosystem, we will increase the numbers of deer, turkey, quail etc. But science also tells us there are costs. Certain other types of wildlife are disadvantaged and you produce less timber. You also run the risk of silting streams.

So does science tell you to burn or not? Yes.

How about this for a value judgment? If you create a good environment for deer, quail and turkey, you have more animals to kill. What if that is the reason I do it. Does that change you opinion about whether we should burn or not? If so, that is not a scientific feeling.

Let’s take the macro scientific/environmental problem - global warming. We don’t know how much warmer the world will get or the precise form it will take. In some scenarios, agricultural production actually increases in some areas and overall in the U.S. Science tells you that. Science also tells you that polar bears may be endangered and that seas will rise and drown some coastal areas. The relative value we place on polar bears versus agriculture is a values judgment. Science provides options and scenarios, not decisions.

And please nobody quote the precautionary principle. That is the most anti-scientific idea currently popular in our society.

Posted by: Jack at April 22, 2006 10:42 AM
Comment #142337

Alternative reading:

Busting big fat liars

Academic Bashing

A Shill for Crooks

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 22, 2006 10:45 AM
Comment #142338

I agree with Jack that science doesn’t decide for you. However, many people claim, therefore, that science can lead to any conclusion. The problem is that many people have not been taught critical thinking. Looking at the source and motive of those who preach is often very informative.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 22, 2006 10:52 AM
Comment #142340

One of the positive developments in the recent science/politics debate has been stem cell, but this is a round about thing. Let me explain.

We should study stem cells and I disagree with the President on this. However, stem cells are unlikely to be the panacea some claim. Why is the conflict good?

Stem cell research is a kind of biotechnology. Because of their hatred of Bush, many leftist have jumped on the stem cell bandwagon and so are riding the biotech road as well. Among these stem cell “supporters” are many who would be anti-globalist. They used to call biotech Franken foods and they would probably oppose gene research if not for stem cells and the position they have to hold. Now they cannot attack biotech with the same zeal. The stem cell debate has co-opted and neutralized them. Stem cells are side show and now we can get on with biotech in relative safety.

Jack M

Look at the titles of your sources and those of mine. In fact those titles are more like those I use (hysterical liberals etc) when I am staking out an ideological position. What does that tell you.

Posted by: Jack at April 22, 2006 11:36 AM
Comment #142341

Sorry, Jack M.,

I’d love to teach critical thinking to my students, but the standardized tests don’t measure it so I can’t afford to take the time. If my students can synthesize various pieces of evidence, look for patterns, form their own conclusions and then support their conclusions but they don’t know the name of the general who led the Union forces at Bull Run then I’m a failure as a teacher.

A more paranoid person might believe that this is by design. If we raise a generation of fact-knowers* rather than critical thinkers then how much easier it is to push a particular agenda or to confuse an issue by treating opposing sides as if they were both equally valid, thus leaving the electorate to throw up their hands and say, “you decide for us, oh great leaders!”


I’ll say it again. The problem of scientists having their own political agenda may be an issue but it is not the issue. To give an analogy, congressmen may spend too much time at restaurants with lobbyists, but the issue is not the time their wasting but whether or not anything is passing under the table.

For years Republicans have been denying that the climate is warming. Not weighing both sides, just ignoring the science that says it is. Now that there is overwhelming evidence that it is, they are choosing to ignore those scientists who say that it is due to man made causes. Not weighing the two sides, but simply pretending that the evidence they oppose doesn’t exist.

In your examples above you use essentially use a cost/benefit analysis to determine the most prudent course of action - but that’s not what the administration is doing. Rather than considering whether it might make sense to enact some changes - just in case human activity might be adding to any natural warming tendencies - they simply dismiss the whole argument as coming from a bunch of hysterical tree huggers.

If there was any valid debate within the administration your post might be relevant. But as it is it’s just an interesting little read.

BTW, I think Pielke is a little to quick to cry politics. If a scientist dismisses a study because it goes against his beliefs you can not necessarily assume a political motivation. If you told me about a documented research study that concluded the moon really is made of green cheese I wouldn’t have to read it to debunk it. Its not that I’m cheese-ist, its just that my belief system is strong enough to conclude that any evidence in the report is obviously doctored.

* “fact-knowers” is not a term coined by GWB, but it sounds like it could be, doesn’t it?

Posted by: adverbal at April 22, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #142349

Jack, I’ve noticed that as the Bushies become less and less defensible, your posts get vaguer and vaguer. The issue isn’t whether scientists should make policy - of course they should not - but whether policy should be informed by scientific opinion - which of course it should. More generally, policy should be driven by reality, and in complex domains, reality must be assessed by scientific methods.

Unfortunately this administration has a poor record on making policy in an informed way - it ignores scientists about scientific issues, just like it ignores generals about military issues, and heck, it even ignores hurricane warnings from the NOAA. Makes you wonder why they bother tapping our phones :-) since they never listen anyway….

Posted by: William Cohen at April 22, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #142350


It depends on if you mean the first or second battle of Manassas.

Re global warming, President Bush is taking the steps important, i.e. advocating nuclear power, working with China & India and others on the Asia Pacific Partnership, methane to markets etc. And we know that the price of energy is going way up, which will encourage both conservation and alternatives.

If you watn to slow global warming, that is what you need to do: more nukes, higher prices. Whether or not to say you believe in global warming or not makes no difference if you are DOING the right things.

Since Kyoto, U.S. energy intensity has dropped much more than that of the EU. Our emissions of CO2 have rise by about the same (although the U.S. was a bit lower - 4.7% versus 5.3%). The rhetoric was different, but the results similar, with the U.S. doing a little better.

I accept that the world is warming. The contribution of humans is a big question, but I also accept that human activities are contributing. That is what science tellus. What do we do about it is the question.

Kyoto was very unscientific since it left out big developing countries and had a redistributive nature. About Kyoto, science tells us it won’t do very much good. It will delay global warming by a couple of years and I bet that is even changed with the greater than anticipated growth of China and India.

So the solution, based on the science, is more nuke & higher prices for carbon based fuels.

Posted by: Jack at April 22, 2006 12:51 PM
Comment #142355


I agree with your solution but its not enough. President Bush says “we’re addicted to oil,” but it’s a joke.

“Gee pal, you’ve really got a drinking problem…let me buy the next round.”

A real energy policy would encourage conservation such as increasing fuel standards and using some of his political capital to encourage Americans to forgo their desire for bigger and bigger vehicles (who on Earth NEEDS a Cadillac Escalade for heaven’s sake?). It means leadership - not being afraid to promote ideas that are counter to his base’s existing philosophy and desires in order to best serve the country. Man-made global warming or not, the benefits of more small, fuel efficient, vehicles on the road far outweigh the downsides. But Republicans never take that road (so to speak). Bush is like the revolutionary who sees the peasants tearing through the streets and says “I must find out where my people are going so I can lead them.”

He had an opportunity to promote reduced consumption of oil as a national security issue - which it is from various perspectives but he never took it.

P.S. First battle. Now, name the general and discuss whether or not the political pressure placed on him caused him to overplay his hand and led to his defeat. Or was the Confederate victory a foregone conclusion? Bonus: what lessons from this battle can be applied to the current situation in Iraq?

It’d be great if I could actually teach this way, but I’m too busy making sure that students know how to completely fill in the bubbles on the scantron sheet.

Posted by: adverbal at April 22, 2006 1:21 PM
Comment #142357

Actually, the people comparing Bush to the MD in Jack’s story are incorrect. Jack clearly said that the MD is the one who provides the options, and the patient makes the decision. Bush has also called himself “the decider”. But in this case, the decisions are being made by Bush, for us. So who does that make Bush and us in the analogy? Simple: it makes us children, and Bush the father who needs to make medical decisions for us. Only in this case, our “father” doesn’t believe in medicine and is going to just take us home and pray for God to heal us (or not, His will be done.)

Stem cell research is a kind of biotechnology. Because of their hatred of Bush, many leftist have jumped on the stem cell bandwagon and so are riding the biotech road as well. Among these stem cell “supporters” are many who would be anti-globalist. They used to call biotech Franken foods and they would probably oppose gene research if not for stem cells and the position they have to hold. Now they cannot attack biotech with the same zeal. The stem cell debate has co-opted and neutralized them. Stem cells are side show and now we can get on with biotech in relative safety.

Jack, for an obviously intelligent man you make amazing leaps in logic when trying to support your position. Stem cell research = biotech = frankenfoods? Supporting one = not opposing the other? Errm… no. In fact, the two technologies aren’t even remotely related. Stem cell research involves culturing cells to grow into different types of tissues and organs. Frankenfoods involve genetically modifying existing food to add proteins or other characteristics from different foods. They are no more related than cloning is to organ transplant.

Genetic Modification of foods has been known to increase allergic reactions in humans. Additionally, due to the incredible lack of controls on frankenfoods, they can and do contaminate other food sources. The US corn supply has been irrevocably contaminated by the GM corn StarLink.

Furthermore, there is a general lack of study done on GM crops before they are labelled as being safe for human consumption, even when they contain new synthetic hybrids of existing proteins:

There are both scientific and anecdotal evidence, reviewed in earlier reports, suggesting that the natural Cry toxins pose serious health hazards to human beings and animals. Bt spores containing a mixture of different Cry toxins caused allergic reactions in farm workers [8]. Cry1Ac, in particular, has been shown to be a potent immunogen [9, 10]. The synthetic Cry toxins incorporated into GE crops differ from the natural toxins in many respects and are often hybrids of two or more Cry proteins. These synthetic proteins are completely unknown and untested for their toxicities and allergenicities [11].
Posted by: Jarandhel at April 22, 2006 1:31 PM
Comment #142360
Frankenfoods involve genetically modifying existing food to add proteins or other characteristics from different foods.

Edit: from different foods, or nonfoods.

Posted by: Jarandhel at April 22, 2006 1:41 PM
Comment #142364

When scientists politicize science???

Isn’t that backwards? Bush has been firing scientists that don’t draw the conclusions he wants them to.

Posted by: Max at April 22, 2006 2:09 PM
Comment #142366


I just skip a step in your chain. Your goal is to get people to drive less, make cars more efficient and encourage alternatives to CO2 fuels. Your solution is to legislate, which will drive up the prices of goods, make it more expensive to drive and (we hope) encourage alternatives. This might work, but it is indirect and time consuming. Much faster is just to have a high price for energy. This will happen with legistlation anyway.

What President Bush is NOT doing and what no mainstream politician advocates is raise taxes on energy and make the prices stay high.

I also have been writing post on nuclear power. There is no alternative to more nuclear power unless you want a world richer in CO2.

So you cannot have cheap energy and less CO2 and you cannot have less CO2 w/o nuclear power. Skip the intermediate steps and join the solution.


Starlink has “contaminated” the U.S. corn. We have all eaten starlink according to your story. So have our farm animals. And the harm has been? Besides the unreasonable fear, that is.

Bitech hold great promise. We should regulate it as we do other food innovations, but not more. It is here already.

The stem cells are very similar. The experiments are designed to manipulate humnan beings. You can’t get more extreme. I support those experiments. I am happy that this has caused some confusion among the anti-biotech luddite community. And whether or not you like my characterization, it clearly has done.

Re alergies - biotech allows a more precise “building” of an organism. The way to do it non-biotech is to create random mutations, which have lots of baggage. We are moving away from the cave man approach. That’s good.

And it does seem to me that if you are in favor of stem cell reserach that could alter humna genetics, you can’t be against biotech, which aims at the same thing. That would be anti-science.


Anybody you can name actually got fired for drawing the wrong conclusions? This is another one of those ghost stories. Eveyone knows of someone, but nobody has actually seen one himself.

Posted by: Jack at April 22, 2006 2:32 PM
Comment #142368


Frankly, I don’t think I can have a rational conversation with you on this subject while you hold to the delusion that stem cell research involves altering human genetics. Stem cell research involves cellular differentiation, a process in which the morphology of the cell changes while the genetic material remains the same.

Further, the issue with StarLink corn contaminating the food supply, which you so quickly dismiss using the same arguments as its creators, is this: it was never approved by the FDA for human consumption, only for use as animal feed. Yes, in this instance it appears not to have caused any problems that we are presently aware of, however are most people even aware that it’s now a part of their diet? Would most people even be able to make the link between new health problems they may have and a food they don’t even know they’re eating? When GM crops are allowed to contaminate non-GM food supplies, the choice of whether to consume GM products or not is taken out of the hands of the consumer. I would have thought you’d be against that, in a free market sort of way.

Further, presently we do not regulate GM foods in the way we regulate other food innovations. Under US law, “genes” are considered a chemical found in every kind of food and are “generally recognized as safe”, which places the onus on the public to prove that they are not, rather than on the food companies to prove that they are. Little to no investigation is done on the results of genetically modified foodstuffs by the government before it hits the shelves of our local grocery stores. And in many cases, consumers don’t even know the stuff they’re eating has been genetically modified because it’s not required to be labelled as such.

You’re comparing apples and oranges when you compare stem cell research which modifies single humans on a nongenetic level and GM products which spread and propagate whole new strains of themselves and contaminate existing non-modified strains and affect MANY humans who consume they or the foods they have contaminated.

Posted by: Jarandhel at April 22, 2006 2:59 PM
Comment #142374


I realize my post makes it sound like I favor a solution through legislation, but other than higher fuel efficiency I’m really talking about voluntary behavioral change. The president should be a leader and should use his “bully pulpit” to encourage behavior that is in the long term interests of our country as a whole. Driving less and driving more fuel efficient vehicles is part of it, but there are plenty of other ways we can reduce consumption without substantial sacrifice and without needless legislation.

BTW, I just read your profile and saw you have “April 1865” listed as one of your favorites. I didn’t realize that when I chose the Civil War example earlier - just a funny coincidence I suppose.

Posted by: adverbal at April 22, 2006 3:28 PM
Comment #142377

You’re confused about what has generally been happening in this administration: the big problem is not scientists politicizing science- it’s politicians imposing a political (or in most cases, religious) warp on scientific research results.

Look at yesterday’s report that the FDA is denying the usefulness of medical marijuana despite all research to the contrary. Or the FDA continually tabling the vote to allow OTC sales of emergency contraception despite absolutely no evidence that it promotes promiscuity.

Next up? A knock-down drag-out over whether to allow the new HPV vaccine that would virtually eliminate cervical cancer. Who’s leading the charge against this? A political-religious group that thinks the vaccine would promote promiscuity. They seem to think death from cancer is a suitable punishment for naughty girls.

Posted by: pianofan at April 22, 2006 4:40 PM
Comment #142394


I am for both stem cell research and biotechnology because I don’t believe in limiting the options science can provide. I admit that I am not an expert on either. That is the problem with science today. Nobody can be an expert in anything except a very narrow field. The point of the original post was exactly that science gives options and we decide.

Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain, value judgments of all kinds remain necessary - lbert Einstein

There are two aspects to what I wrote re biotech and stem cells.

I believe that they are similar in that they are advancing scientific options. I may be wrong about the details, but the direction of both is clear. We can dispute that.

The other side is the public perception. I believe that the public perceive biotechnology and stem cells as similar. The Scientific American lists articles about stem cells under biotechnology, and biotechnology firms carry out stem cell research. It will be hard for the public to separate them. So the support of stem cells help the case of biotechnology.


We need some legislation. But the bottom line is that we will need higher prices and nukes to succeed. Higher prices will help people make the voluntary decisions.

Re “April 1865” I read it a long time ago. The ending of the American Civil war in April 1865 was an event unique in human history for its wisdom and generosity. Civil wars just don’t end that way anywhere else. We should all study it closer.


Medical Marajuana is one of those red herrings. I suppose it can work on occassion. I suppose it should also be possible to extract whatever it is that makes it work and eliminate the need to smoke it.

Personally, I don’t care if people smoke marajuana, but I do object to the idea that it is harmless.

Posted by: Jack at April 22, 2006 8:35 PM
Comment #142395

Jack, I’m hoping you got my point. Couching an argument in hyperbole or psuedo logic doesn’t make it any more valid. I’m not disagreeing with you’re point.

Think tanks are not scientific bodies. They are political policy bodies. Most have a predetermined policy tilt.

As to nuclear energy, If Bush were to do something he would go on the road promoting it like he did his social security crap. Do it now before the crooks speculating on gas are caught. As to people wanting to restrict vehicle size, gas price will do that. I drive an SUV for my job. I have to carry test equipment with me a motorcyle won’t work. A lot of trucks are used in business. You’re on the wrong track here. Move away from fossil fuels. The problem is economic. We have the auto industry and roadway system designed around oil. China and India are bigger threats to the CO2 problem. I frankly don’t think Americans have air pollution as their major problem. The UK in 1952, now that was air pollution. A War over oil is a much bigger and more immediate problem. We are behaving much like Japan prior to WWII.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 22, 2006 8:38 PM
Comment #142398

Jack M

Yes. Think tanks make statements on policy. They are not science. Science cannot make policy.

I would like to move away from fossil fuels. The problem is that despite the current high cost of oil, it is still cheaper than viable alternatives.

Another problem with getting better mileage as a goal without price is that most people have a budget for gas, whether they know it or not. When mileage increases, they drive more, move farther from work etc.

We also have a bottom line. There is no silver bullet. If we are to use less CO2, it will cause living standards to be lower than they would otherwise be. That is one of those tradeoff we talk about.

Posted by: Jack at April 22, 2006 8:59 PM
Comment #142418

The Resume of George W. Bush
George W. Bush
The White House, USA


—I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol.

—I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver’s license suspended for 30 days.
My Texas driving record has been “lost” and is not available.

—I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use.
By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.

—I graduated from Yale University with a low C average.
I was a cheerleader.

—I ran or U.S. Congress and lost.

—I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975.
I bought an oil company, but couldn’t find any oil in Texas.
The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

—I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

—With the help of my father and our right-wing friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.

—I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union.
During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

—I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

—I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.

—With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father’s appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.

—I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

—I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.

—I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

—I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

—I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

—I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

—I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

—In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

—I’m proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My “poorest millionaire,” Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

—I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President.

—I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.
My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.
My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.
I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.
More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

—I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

—I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

—I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

—I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.

—I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

—I’ve broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.

—I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

—I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

—I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. “prisoners of war” detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

—I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).

—I set the record for fewest number of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

—I set the the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period.
After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

—I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

—I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.

—I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families — in wartime.

—In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq, then blamed the lies on our British friends.

—I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security. I am supporting development of a nuclear “Tactical bunker Buster,” a WMD.

—I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden.


—All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father’s library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

—All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

—All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

**And I Think The US Constitution Is
“There’s an old saying in Tennessee - I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can’t get fooled again.”

Posted by: impeach gwb at April 22, 2006 11:37 PM
Comment #142423

thanks for the material betty.

Posted by: FA STEPHENS at April 22, 2006 11:50 PM
Comment #142429


I have to assume you are joking and thank you for the caricature the hysteria of a Bush hater. I like to see it. It is funny. Like those commercials that feature chimpanzees at work.

Posted by: Jack at April 23, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #142431

watch blog manager ! this utter crap posted by impeach gwb.should be removed! what does it have to do with the blog?. this is the kind of garbage you see on aol. i thought this place had a little class. i believe in free speech but this kind of bizarre crap is perverted. and it is coming from the so called smart side? this blog is out of control. write something like that on the left and see how fast it stays!!!!

Posted by: steve at April 23, 2006 12:21 AM
Comment #142433


I kinda like the impeach type thing. It shows how hysterical and stupid the opposing arguments can be. Unfortunately, the person who posted it has probably just hit and run and will not know that we taunt him.

Posted by: Jack at April 23, 2006 1:00 AM
Comment #142443
It shows how hysterical and stupid the opposing arguments can be.
Tangential? Yes. A non sequitur? Yes. Hysterical and stupid? Not at all.
Posted by: Charles Wager at April 23, 2006 2:50 AM
Comment #142452

>>Hysterical and stupid? Not at all.

Posted by: Charles Wager at April 23, 2006 02:50 AM

Jack thinks anything posted that he disagrees with is ‘hysterical’…I think it is ‘hysterical’ that he thinks that way…

Posted by: Marysdude at April 23, 2006 7:31 AM
Comment #142480

“impeach“‘s post is a combination of indisputable facts that are serious criticisms of Bush, indisputable facts that are judgement calls as to whether they reflect badly on the president, opinions, speculation, and statements that are difficult to judge without proper context.

The bottom line, though, is that I have to agree with Steve - to keep these blogs from becoming completely pointless we need to to stick to the topic or at least go with tangents that follow as a natural result of the conversation thread. Pointless attacks on the president can’t just be thrown in ad hoc.

Posted by: adverbal at April 23, 2006 1:08 PM
Comment #142625

Obviously, someone found something that is “going around” via e-mail and po/asted it here.

Was it Me: no.

It’s a bit Long for my tastes. And obviously Off Topic to this thread. I prefer to attack extemporaneously and get to the point.

Is it Accurate: yes.

There is nothing in that piece saving the Opinion right at the very end which is not true. Sad, really.

(BTW, Right-WingNuts: if you think that someone presenting a long list of the heinous crimes and personal failings of Your Fearless Leader is giving you ammunition, you really are stupid! I can take a quick look through that List and see things I had put way, wa-a-ay on the Back Burner, for so long that they hardly cross my mind anymore. But, they are still there, yes? Not forgotten, not forgiven: they fester away in the Open Sun like a decaying corpse - Conservatism, rotting from the Head. Have you Gorillas checked the Public Opinion Polls lately? The Chimpanzees and Orangutans are starting to Bang the Rocks Together; there’s a Reckoning coming… Who do you think is going to be Voted Off The Island?)

Posted by: Betty Burke at April 24, 2006 2:23 AM
Comment #142627

Adverbal is right: so I’m going to add an On Topic post to this thread.

Not since the days of Catholic Rule in Europe has there been as Anti-Science a Government as this one.

From Global Warming to Evolution to Stem Cells, this bunch of hooting morons have given Anthropoids a bad name. Or, at least their particular sub-species of them…

I recently posted a reply to Jack regarding his “cooling trend” nonsense; it had to do with Global Dimming:



Did I receive an answer? Of course not!

You see, the Facts were Too Cruel to his preconceived Notions - which are extremely important for a man in Jack’s position (Pulp-Mill Owner): without them, why, he would be some sort of, of - criminal - engaging in the knowing destruction of his own species’ environment. I just don’t know how a man could live with himself, knowing that…

So it’s important for Conservatives to believe that the vast majority of the world’s Scientists are just dead wrong!

Besides, it’s good for Business.

Posted by: Betty Burke at April 24, 2006 2:36 AM
Comment #142651

As to nuclear energy, If Bush were to do something he would go on the road promoting it like he did his social security crap. Do it now before the crooks speculating on gas are caught. As to people wanting to restrict vehicle size, gas price will do that. I drive an SUV for my job. I have to carry test equipment with me a motorcyle won’t work. A lot of trucks are used in business. You’re on the wrong track here. Move away from fossil fuels. The problem is economic. We have the auto industry and roadway system designed around oil. China and India are bigger threats to the CO2 problem. I frankly don’t think Americans have air pollution as their major problem. The UK in 1952, now that was air pollution. A War over oil is a much bigger and more immediate problem. We are behaving much like Japan prior to WWII.

Posted by: 公司法 at April 24, 2006 6:47 AM
Comment #142740


I think this is like the third time you’ve either written that you agree with something I wrote or been perfectly in synch with what I’m saying. I’m starting to think you made me up too! (hee-hee).

Posted by: adverbal at April 24, 2006 5:19 PM
Comment #142792


I accept the probability of global warming and I advocate steps (nuclear and prices) to help slow it. I wrote a whole post about it.

I also advocate stem cell research and in fact most types of biotech.

I own a forest, not a pulp mill. And I take care of my forest and the water and animals very well. You probably don’t know this, but 70% of the commerical forest land in the U.S. is owned by small holders like me. We love our land and take care of it. I don’t suppose you can understand that. You don’t own any forest land, do you?

You are arguing with yourself or with the stereotype you have created of conservatives. I guess the fact that there are nuances must have confused you.

Sometimes you don’t get an answer because you have not asked a valid question or your conclusion is so odd that I can’t figure out what you want.

Posted by: Jack at April 24, 2006 8:59 PM
Comment #142809

Yikes! What a testament to the lack of education as to what science is. After reading or at least scanning 40+ posts I have yet to hear little of either side actually using the concept of science as anything other than a justification of a particular position. Science is neutral. It is a process, a concept, and a pattern of behavior. It is limited to exploring the content and workings of the natural world. The problem with any administration is that each tries to manipulate and claim that science backs their position. This is a cheap way to capitalize on the work of tens of thousands of “scientists” who follow the process of science and adhere to its tenets. Having said that, each uses it to advance an ideological agenda. For a recent example look at the Intelligent Design /Creationist movement. The President and many of the Republicans say, “Teach the controversy” what controversy?? When do we teach the capitalist/communist controversy? We don’t come close to that in this country. Our right wing friends tell us we are a liberal country. Not even close. By the way, Republican friends, Liberal are mainstream. Radical when used term is used properly is the left side. But I digress. Our population for the most part can’t even explain how capitalism works yet explain the economic philosophy behind communism or socialism. In any case both use the good name of science to justify their agendas.

Posted by: 037 at April 24, 2006 9:40 PM
Comment #143287

Ha, ha, ha, ha, Jack. This is a page right out of the Rovian playbook, and as transparent a play as they come. “Attack the other side for what you are blatantly doing. That way, those not up on the issues think that both sides are doing it and it’s just a word war.” There has been no administration, not even the Reagan era, where science has been so politicized by those in government. Yet we have the spectacle of Jack throwing stones at scientists (note that they form “the other side” of this debate the Rovian formulation) for “politicizing science.” Here that amounts to insisting that the science be properly represented by the government who paid for that science and not be twisted or suppressed. This is what Jack’s heroes consider politicizing science. It’s like that Will Farrel lampoon of GWB talking about global warming. “What kind of book do you want me to use? One with facts? Yeah, I bet you’d like that!”

When science produces politically inconvenient truths, the administration flaks simultaneously attack the scientists who produce the science, find a few crackpots who claim to be scientists to gainsay the findings, and produce attacks like this.

I’m feeling more and more that Jack no longer is seeking to discuss issues, but rather is one outlet for trial-ballooning the administrations attempts at deflecting accurate criticism. His posts smell more and more of Rovian attack strategies and less and less of an attempt at intellectual discourse. He would have to be an idiot to not recognize the Bush administrations political manipulations of science, yet he comes up with this? I am bereft of any other explanation.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at April 26, 2006 2:41 PM
Comment #143317


As Sarah Vowell puts it: the absolute paucity of our most pessimistic imaginings with regard to the Damage the Bush administration could do beggars speculation.

Posted by: Betty Burke at April 26, 2006 4:23 PM
Comment #144059

Isn’t this kind of a weird political topic to bring up? I mean, come on, with all the troubles our country is facing, our government being taken over by scientists is the least of our worries.

Even if this was a serious issue in America, I’d rather trust a few intelligent scientists (not being controlled by corporate or oil interests) to make policy than Bush co. The Bush syndicate has damaged our country so badly with its greed, corruption, and incompetence it’s hard to imagine anyone being worse.

Far from our country depending too much on science (assuming the objective search for truth should only be limited), it’s the complete opposite. We live in an anti-intellectual climate, with politicians who don’t care about science, and a population that get’s stupider and stupider (I forget the percentage of Americans who think evolution is a myth, but it’s very high).

With all due respect, I suspect Jack doesn’t want to focus on, or admit, the failures the neocons have brought us, so instead he distracts us with non-issues and red-herring topics instead.

Posted by: mark at April 29, 2006 1:35 AM
Comment #144192

Spot on, Mark! It’s the old Dazzle and Baffle (without so much Dazzle and a heaping helping more of the Baffle), and you have called it!

Posted by: Betty Burke at April 29, 2006 5:22 PM
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