Daily Archives: June 26, 2004

BA Clears Scientists for Correct Political Views

The Bush Administration has taken yet another step toward politicizing science. Tommy Thompson, SecHHS, has just ordered that any Admin scientist who has dealings with the World Health Organization, even if it just involves going to a meeting, has to be cleared and approved by ‘a senior political appointee’ before they’ll be allowed to go.

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has ordered that government scientists must be approved by a senior political appointee before they can participate in meetings convened by the World Health Organization, the leading international health and science agency.A top official from the Health and Human Services Department in April asked the WHO to begin routing requests for participation in its meetings to the department’s secretary for review, rather than directly invite individual scientists, as has long been the case.

Officials at the WHO, based in Geneva, Switzerland, have refused to implement the request thus far, saying it could compromise the independence of international scientific deliberations. Denis G. Aitken, WHO assistant director-general, said Friday that he had been negotiating with Washington in an effort to reach a compromise.

The request is the latest instance in which the Bush administration has been accused of allowing politics to intrude into once-sacrosanct areas of scientific deliberation. It has been criticized for replacing highly regarded scientists with industry and political allies on advisory panels. A biologist who was at odds with the administration’s position on stem-cell research was dismissed from a presidential advisory commission. This year, 60 prominent scientists accused the administration of “misrepresenting and suppressing scientific knowledge for political purposes.”

As we all must understand by now, science is largely political in nature. There’s no such thing as ‘scientific fact’, only scientific theory, and scientific theory is a matter of opinion and belief.

If Republicans Had Been Around in 1492

Tom DeLay: “The world isn’t round. It’s flat and all the pictures supposedly taken ‘from space’ that show round astral bodies are clearly fake and the traitorous liberal astronomers who forged them should be sent to the guillotine.”

Denny Hastert: “I’ve checked our records and I’d put them up against the records of partisan liberal space monkeys any day: the world is clearly flat. It’s obvious–all you have to do is look out the window.”

Donald Rumsfeld: “Is the earth flat? Of course it is. Is there is overwhelming evidence that proves the world is flat? You bet there is, but I can’t show it to you because it’s classified.”

Dick Cheney: “What do you mean the world isn’t flat? Fuck you. And my colleagues will agree with me that it’s about time somebody said it.”

Condi Rice: “Darling Georgie-Porgie…um, President Bush says the world is flat. That’s all the proof I need.”

Ann Coulter, Andy Sullivan, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Reynolds, the National Review, the Wall Street Journal, FOXNews, and the rest of the radical GOP’s Mighty Wurlitzer: “In a time of war we have to support our leaders in their fight against pernicious scientific falsehoods that endanger our safety and threaten our freedom. If you say the world is round, then you hate America, you hate the flag, and you support round-earth terrorists like Columbus.”

George W Bush: “Who cares what you think?”

The NYT Editorial Board on the Cheney Decision

They’re disappointed.

In its ruling yesterday, the court — with Justice Scalia in the seven-member majority — sent the case back to a lower court, instructing it to give greater consideration to Mr. Cheney’s separation-of-powers argument. Although the decision does not resolve the dispute, it makes it more likely that the task force records will remain secret. Even if they eventually become public, they are not likely to do so before this year’s election.The court is right that inquiries aimed at the executive branch must meet a higher standard, but its ruling leans too much toward secrecy. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg notes in a dissent, Mr. Cheney could have asked the trial court to narrow the questions it allowed. Instead, he challenged its ability to elicit any information at all.

When Congress passed the Federal Advisory Committee Act, it wanted the public to be able to monitor the influences exerted on government policy makers. The court’s decision is likely to frustrate that important goal.

Relax guys. As soon as a Democratic Pres or Veep tries to use the same arguments, the Scalia majority will be all in favor of openness again, just as they were when Clinton used them over the Health Task Force.

This is the most politicized SCOTUS we’ve had in a hundred years and it’s a mistake to treat any decision they make that involves this Admin as if it were objective or judicial.