How much can the White House do to destroy America?

By Phil Plait | May 13, 2008 10:00 am

Evidently — and I do mean evidently — there is no "too much". And for this, we have a threefer:

1) The Bush White House has politicized the EPA so much that it is making it very difficult for the agency to protect citizens from toxic polluters.

2) What does this Administration do when they find someone in the government who supports the people over industry? Oh, we know the answer to this all too well: they fire them. After all, it’s better to have a company dumping toxic chemicals into rivers and lakes for a half century than it is to protect humans.

3) This one may be the most incredible: The Bush Administration doesn’t want meat packers to voluntarily test cattle for Mad Cow disease. They’re afraid of "false positives" upsetting consumers. Hey, here’s a thought: regulate the testing so it’s done correctly. Of course, given the mutilation of science done by this White House, I wouldn’t trust them to regulate anything fairly, but wouldn’t that make at least a bit more sense than trying to gag the packers? The trumping of corporations over consumers is so blatantly obvious by the Bush Administration that this is positively Orwellian.

I assume that our chocolate rations will be increased from 30 to 20 grammes any time now.

The past seven years have been one of seemingly unending downward spirals into recession, far-right control of the government, loss of liberty, and nothing but non-stop lies from the Bush Administration. I can only hope the damage they can do to America over the next 7 months is minimal, but even if Bush sat that time out in the Oval Office playing tiddlywinks, the damage is done, and will continue to grow (at $20 million per hour).

January 20, 2009 cannot come fast enough.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars for the purging article and the Mad Cow article.

Comments (103)

  1. It would be a little hard for him. You know, America is a whole continent; there are many individual countries there.

    You really should know better Mr. BA, you’re a scientist and have an international quorum.

  2. oceania has always been at war with eurasia

  3. Technodawg

    And Obama wants to chop NASA’s budget.

    Stick to astronomy. K thx.

  4. J. John Johnstown

    “Grammes”? What country are you in? ;)

    (252 days left.)

  5. Dan

    I come here to read about astronomy and science. This site is becoming more and more political and will likely lose my interest. If I want political news I’ll go to MSNBC or FOXNEWS. You have the right to post whatever you want, that is one thing that makes the United States great. As Technodawg says “Stick to astronomy.”

  6. Yet you complainers clicked on a post with the title “How much can the White House do to destroy America?”

    Did you expect this post to be able Dark Matter. Ok maybe the stuff between Bush’s ears ….

  7. anonymous canuck

    @Dan I use an RSS feed and can pick and choose. I normally ignore a lot of the political posts. But then I can’t vote in the US either.

  8. madge

    Being a human being, a skeptic and critical thinker how could BA NOT speak out? I for one come here for astronomy, science and a healthy dose of politics and reality on the side (with a liberal sprinkling of humour and cheese!) Way to Go Phil! Keep telling it like it is!

  9. The PLoS piece (out today) on another EPA firing of the lone official actually looking out for the people. Speaking of Deborah Rice, the author writes:

    Under her chairmanship, the PBDE report was completed and submitted in February of 2007. The American Chemistry Council (ACC), a chemical industry trade group, did not elect to contest the statements of the report; it chose instead to accuse Rice of bias against the use of deca and to pressure the EPA to dismiss her from the panel. In a letter to EPA Assistant Administrator for Research and Development George Gray on May 3, 2007, the ACC argued that Rice’s appointment represented a conflict of interest and “might lack the impartiality and objectivity necessary to conduct a fair and impartial review of the data,” based in part on testimony she gave to the Maine State Legislature describing the dangers of deca-BDE and advocating a state mandate to phase out its use (for more information on her dismissal, see: here [NOTE FROM JANIEBELLE- I shortened this link to a .pdf paper for formatting reasons]) [1].

    The EPA, without examining or contesting the charge of bias, complied. Rice was fired. The next formal act of the EPA was to remove all of her comments from the written report and completely erase her name from the text of the review. There is now no evidence that she ever participated in the EPA proceedings, or was even in the room. The only indication that another reviewer had served on the panel was this note in the “revised” report: “Notice: EPA modified this report in August 2007 to include only four of the five reviewers’ comments. One reviewer’s comments were excluded from the report and were not considered by EPA due to the perception of a potential conflict of interest.”

    The author of the piece is Herbert L. Needleman, Professor of Child Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Needleman is the guy who did so much to expose the risks of lead on the cognitive ability of children back in the day.

  10. *waves*

    Bye Dan!

    Door. Butt. Hit not.

  11. Phil: keep it up! These people from both political parties in the US that try to destroy science and spout their anti-intellectualism need to be discussed. Unfortunately, science and politics have become more and more intertwined. As such, it is inevitable that politics must be discussed with science, as it directly affects the science, scientists, and those of us who still see science as one of the few positive forces left in this society.

  12. Dan,

    So you would go to FoxNews for your news? I think that says a lot about your mindset.

  13. gopher65

    I too use the RSS feed on this site. The BA makes a good number of posts that simply don’t interest me (like all those skeptologist posts or whatever they are, and all those “lookie at my new bookie!” posts, and all those “OMG I looooooove Randi and TAM *drool*!” posts. Boooring.).

    When he makes such posts I simply don’t click on them. It’s easy. I don’t have to read every single word that he writes.

  14. Peptron

    I keep my idea that most of the Bush Administration is actually composed of Chinese spies. One big thing preventing China from becoming the 1st superpower is of course US competition, so it’s obvious China would want to undermine the US from inside.

    Many of the decisions made by the Bush Admin seems to have as a direct purpose to have the US plunge and drop its status of the world 1st power, and probably drop its status of an industrialized country altogether. A lot of it actually directly advantages China, so to me it just makes sense that the Bush Admin is actually a Chinese conspiracy to destroy the US from inside and have China raise in triumph.

    I actually think that this conspiracy theory has potential. I mean, everything adds up if you think about it!

  15. xav0971

    “January 20, 2009 cannot come fast enough. ” Phil, then you can start complaining about McCain being too much like Bush. He’s an anti-science guy too. Mark my words, McCain will be the next president. I really, really wish Obama would be the next president but too much racism in this country to win. Majority of Americans vote for the most religious candidate to be president. Oh well, we might have to wait another 8 years.

  16. Dan

    Phil? Did you hire some editors?

    It still cracks me up that the fiddly, little, whiner-trolls feel obligated to carry on about how dreadful it is that Phil is posting his opinions on his blog.

    Personally, I am happy that Phil seems well-adjusted enough not to have astronomy consume his thoughts every waking hour.

  17. Mike

    I agree with Dan. Lately I’ve been thinking that this blog is more of a skeptic/political blog than an astronomy blog.

    I’m no fan of this administration but neither is anyone else. I can hear people bash bush on TV, radio, or a bazillion other web sites. I’d prefer to get astronomy news from astronomers and political news from political pundits.

    I’m pretty sure you can subscribe to categories of this blog but that wouldn’t help in this case. This post was categorized as “science” which doesn’t seem appropriate for the post’s content.

  18. Jeff

    I’ll never understand the far-rightness of the Bush administration, considering the amount of spending and regulation and government control they’ve put into place the last 7 years.

    I guess when ThinkProgress is the source, that’s what gets distorted.

  19. Gyaagh!

    Why do I have to share a name with the content-troll?

  20. “3) This one may be the most incredible: The Bush Administration doesn’t want meat packers to voluntarily test cattle for Mad Cow disease. They’re afraid of “false positives” upsetting consumers.”

    Well, what’s the false positive rate on the test? What’s the incidence of Mad Cow Disease? If A > B or A ? B or A is not significantly smaller than B, they’re absolutely right. You could make arguments about the government overstepping its authority, but since you suggest regulation, I don’t think that’s what you’re attacking.

    All tests give false positives and false negatives. Good tests give very few of both. Given the failure rate of the mad cow tests, given the population of cattle to be tested, a 1% false positive rate would devastate the industry. Even a 0.1% false positive would be devastating, given the number of cattle. The false positive rate has to be significantly lower than the incidence of the disease- which is extremely rare.

    Mind you, this is the only time the government uses this logic. The “War on Terror” garbage uses tests with high rates of false positives to weed out very rare events- terrorists. So they’re still inconsistent and stupid, but I think #3 isn’t something to get upset about.

  21. Hasn’t Dan (the whining one, not the non-whining one) threatened to leave over this issue before? Why are you still here, Dan? Just go already. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

  22. Joe Meils

    Despite what others may say, I feel this is YOUR blog, and you can talk about what you like. You titled the entry in a way that we all could have skipped it, if we wanted to.

    Yeah, Bush is destroying America. Yeah, we need to toss his (and his cabinet) ass out on the street. If there were any justice in the world, the smarmy little creep would die of a stroke right now.

    Yes, Obama wants to cut NASA’s budget. He also wants to pull us out of Iraq, (thus saving 12 billion a month) I think NASA can eke by as it always has while we keep the US economy from collapsing. (thanks to the $9.9 trillion we’re in debt thanks to these GOP bozos)

    The sad thing is, the damage has gotten so bad, that the political griping leaks into EVERYTHING we do and say. It’s like being caught in a flood (Katrina reference) and no one saves you from your roof… you have a right to bitch as you tread water.

    Suck it, republicans!

  23. Matthew A Mahon

    The chocolate rations comment got a chuckle out of me, however for maximum effect, I think it should be changed to “Choco rations”.
    ;-)

  24. Chip

    By way of analogy, I agree with the gist Peptron’s post above, but with some modification. Its not China as much as “serve the highest bidder for corporate profit” mentality.

    If the terrorists were more subtle and wanted to destroy America and degrade our democracy by undermining and sapping our nation over the long term, they could do no better than hire the Bush/Cheney administration. A bunch autocratic, yellow-bellied, self-serving, tacitly-treasonous s-o-b’s.

    “Conservative” has long ago lost its meaning and “Liberal” has been vilified by Faux News nitwits.

    But then again, [Boast] I was bashing Bush before 9/11. [/Boast]

  25. Matt Garrett

    I have to agree with TechDog and Dan. BA, if you want to get into the fever swamp, apply to blog as Kos or Huffington Post.

    We come hear to learn about astronomy. Shut up and star gaze.

  26. Dan

    Paul: Today was the first time I posted on this site. So, no I haven’t threatened to leave it in the past.

    Craig: If you read my entire post you will see I get my news from FOX and MSNBC. Both sides of the aisle. I also read the Christian Science Monitor and BBCNews. I am a registered Libretarian and have no great love for Mr. Bush. You do not know my mindset since you do not know me.

    I am being blasted for expressing my opinion, just as Phil has done. To me that is anti-intellectualism. In just one hour I have been called a troll, anti-science, anti-intellectual and been told to leave because I expressed an opinion. I never said Phil shouldn’t or couldn’t post whatever he likes. I merely stated I didn’t care for the political posts.

    Thank you,

    Dan

  27. Dutch

    Phil
    Does the DNC email you their “talking points” memo daily or do you have to request it?

  28. Dan Evens

    Great post Phil! Certainly better than all those tedious posts on what some wonk saw through a telescope. It’s the science posts that should be cut back, not the politics ones. After all, we come here for red raw opinion, not objectivs science. And thinkprogress, the Chicago Trib, and AP are of course the highest publications in the land. Never mind all that tedious mucking about with science journals and careful objective analysis. We all know the truth already, the debate is over.

    Tell us who to vote for. Tell us what to think about every day events. Tell us who is right and who is wrong. And skip all that junk about so-called cool science.

  29. Taz

    Matt Garrett – “We come hear to learn about astronomy. Shut up and star gaze.” You got a mouse in your pocket? Speak for yourself. I think giving examples of the Bush administration subverting science is completely appropriate for a science blog. And it’s funny how many bushies have been reduced to stinking their fingers in their ears and shouting “I don’t want to hear it”.

  30. Doc

    Dan (whining one),

    I hate to tell you, but FOX and MSNBC are not both sides of the aisle. I’d suggest PBS for balance, but even they have been slowly sliding to the right lately.

  31. Waaaaah.

    Y’know, it’s funny. Yeah, I could make the usual point, “why are people complaining about Phil’s posting of his opinions on his blog?”

    But really, what strikes me as bizarre is the fact that even if there were some Prime Directive of Blogging requiring Phil to stick to science, these posts would still be 100% relevant.

    Rarely does Phil blog about politics just for the sake of blogging about politics; usually, as is certainly the case here, he’s talking about political interference in *science*. Any way you slice it, that is certainly science-related and perfectly on-topic.

  32. “3) This one may be the most incredible: The Bush Administration doesn’t want meat packers to voluntarily test cattle for Mad Cow disease. They’re afraid of “false positives” upsetting consumers.”

    Well, what’s the false positive rate on the test? What’s the incidence of Mad Cow Disease? If A > B or A = B or A is not significantly smaller than B, they’re absolutely right. You could make arguments about the government overstepping its authority, but since you suggest regulation, I don’t think that’s what you’re attacking.

    All tests give false positives and false negatives. Good tests give very few of both. Given the failure rate of the mad cow tests, given the population of cattle to be tested, a 1% false positive rate would devastate the industry. Even a 0.1% false positive would be devastating, given the number of cattle. The false positive rate has to be significantly lower than the incidence of the disease- which is extremely rare.

    Mind you, this is the only time the government uses this logic. The “War on Terror” garbage uses tests with high rates of false positives to weed out very rare events- terrorists. So they’re still inconsistent and stupid, but I think #3 isn’t something to get upset about.

  33. Doc

    BA,

    Thanks. I understand the urge to speak heresies and treasons about King George, and of course his rabid supporters will attack you for it. Still, keep speaking as you are lead.

  34. Jeffersonian

    Something you have to live with everyday is hard not to think about and unhealthy not to discuss. A blog is, by nature, somewhat stream of consciousness. Regardless of what people may say now, 51% of your fellow Americans were given the facts about the environment, the economy, and the war, and still rehired him for the job. This means 51% have no business complaining about any of it. It also means they’re going to do it again.

    Which candidate has a stronger science platform? Which candidate is facing the most heat about their minister? Why do you suppose that is?

  35. Rob the pilot

    Impeach the bastards already. The damage they have done is deep and ongoing, and not just to science. They screw up everything.

  36. Chaos

    @Peptron:

    All those years, I´ve been thinking, “If this was still the Cold War, I´d think Bush et al are Soviet saboteurs… but now?” Thanks for clearing this up.

  37. riki

    This is why people are loosing their freedom, because they’re too busy being entertained.

  38. Hoonser

    Hold on… You don’t like George W. Bush?
    I’m so disillusioned now!

  39. Duane

    To all the “stick to astronomy” folks:

    What did God invent on the 8th day?

    Verily, He created the scroll wheel.

    By combining a mouse with a, well, a wheel, He provided a way to rapidly, well, SCROLL past things.

    And there was much rejoicing.

    And on the ninth day, He (i.e. Bill Gates) did retire to his lakeside mansion with his hot wife and hotter tub, and billionaire servants. But He will return again.

  40. Duane

    With an even newer, more vast and uncomprehensible version of Windows.

  41. I remember once reading a bunch of political opinions from both sides of the aisle, and then I swapped the headings, changing the Democrat rubric to Republican, and vice-versa. You want to know something? I couldn’t tell the difference, because they were *all* rants.

    Sigh…

    I guess I expected more out of you than a rant. But, I will keep coming back, ’cause you do have a nice astronomy blog.

    Regards,
    Mikel

  42. Dave

    I agree with t3knomanser… I’d like to see the math on #3 before I get too upset about it.

    As for the rest… I do admit, I enjoy the blog more when it’s about “Bad Astronomy” rather than “Bad Politics”.

    Furthermore, expecting different results from a new administration is just foolishness. The candidates we have to choose from are just further products of the same system, regardless of the rhetoric they’re spouting to get votes. None of them support science. Or liberty. And you won’t see less government control from any of them.

  43. overstroming

    I read “Chocolate Rasins”

    but seriously, just how much further to the right are the US going to go?

    The next administration is going to have it’s hands fully occupied just dealing with the unbelievable cluster###k Bush’s people have left.

    The future of science and the future of astronomy probably depends quite a lot on who is in power and whether they have money to spend on science that might not “pay off” for them during their term.

    I’m no expert but American astronomy seems linked very tightly with American politics and I like to visit this blog and read BAs views on the whole scene. So the politicical posts are fine with me. I get a view of American politics here that I can relate to.

  44. Taz

    Mikel – How is what Phil posted a rant? He mentions three specific actions by the Bush Administration he considers wrong. You may disagree with him, in which case you’re free to argue the other side. (As t3knomanser does about point #3). But just to label any criticism of the actions of the administration “a rant” is absurd.

  45. defectiverobot

    I’ve come to notice that by far the most common opinion ever posted on a blog is how other people shouldn’t have opinions:

    “It’s my opinion that you should quit expressing your opinion. I, however, will not do likewise because, in my opinion, my opinion is the only opinion that matters and thus you are not allowed an opinion. You, stick to playing in the dirt. And do it quietly, I’m trying to listen to Rush Limbaugh!”

  46. Jeffersonian

    Regardless of what people may say now, 51% of your fellow Americans were given the facts about the environment, the economy, and the war, and still rehired him for the job.

    Actually, it’s rather worse than that. 51% of people who voted voted for Bush. Many other eligible voters didn’t go to the polls at all. They have the right to complain, but I don’t feel the need to listen to them, either.

  47. Dutch

    Instead of “rant” how about the following.

    Bombastic statements
    Rhetoric
    Spin doctor for the left.
    Inflamatory

  48. infidel

    The Creekstone thing is old news to anyone who listens to the Charles Goyette show (local Phoenix talk show, also on internet).

    I wouldn’t pin it on the current Administration so much as just the general slide towards fascism* in the USA. One small company wants to provide a particular level of service to their customers, and the corporate overlords fear them making their own products look bad by comparison so they leverage the federal government to squish the little guy.

    I am SO siding with the Libertarians on this one.

  49. To Taz –

    Hmm…interesting. You thought I said his rant was a rant because it criticized the administration? Read my note again. I think anything written in the manner BA did is a rant. I am an Independent, neither Republican nor Democrat. There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between any of them; they’re all politicians.

    He could have written the exact same kind of rant about Democrats, or even Libertarians. It’s still a rant.

    So there…that’s my rant.

    – Mikel

  50. infidel

    * no, I’m not bringing up the Nazis so nobody can dismiss me with Godwin’s Law

  51. Mooney

    @Haplo:”It would be a little hard for him. You know, America is a whole continent; there are many individual countries there.

    You really should know better Mr. BA, you’re a scientist and have an international quorum.”

    Well, there’s the continent of North America, and the continent of South America, but there’s no single continent called “America”

    And as far as I can tell, there’s only one country that uses the word “America” in its name.

    Really, Haplo, you should no better. You’re an international commenter on a science blog. ;)

  52. Mooney

    lol, “know better”

  53. Quiet_Desperation

    “Conservative” has long ago lost its meaning and “Liberal” has been vilified by Faux News nitwits.

    Both groups have no one to blame but themselves.

    Conservative can blame their marriage to the religious idiots. Goldwater warned them about that decades ago. Hell, even *Nixon* knew better.

    Liberals can blame their approach to problem solving: “OK, big government program. Oops! That didn’t work. OK, even bigger government program that does the exact same thing! Oops! OK…”

    The real problem is that people call themselves “liberal” or “conservative”.

    Once you can describe your world view with a single world, you have abandoned critical thought and reason.

    How is what Phil posted a rant?

    Well, I have no problem with Phil’s political posts, I even agree with him on a number of items, but I, for one, would wish for less hyperbole.

    Not because of any proprietary feelings about the blog as a regular poster, but because, above all, he is supposed to be a SKEPTIC, and a good skeptic polices himself for such things.

    I mean, come on, invoking Orwell is Middle School debate class level stuff. Isn’t that what we skeptics admonish the woo woos for?

    I know! How about posting pictures of Nazi death camps in between the paragraphs? Then we can descend to Ben Stein’s level! Woot!

    There’s also a feeling, by this point, of “Yes. OK. Bush is teh suxors. Can we move on? Nothing can be done until 20 Jan 2009.”

    I read “Chocolate Rasins”

    Ooo! I know what I’m having for dessert later!

    What did God invent on the 8th day?

    Skeptics. We’re the quality control system. :-)

  54. Ray Works

    Phil,

    Exactly what makes you think a new administration will be any better?

  55. Will. M

    Yeah, I too am getting tired of the folks who bitch about this website not giving them astronomy 24/7. Since no one is forcing you folks to visit here, when you do, WHY do find it necessary to whine? If you don’t like the entire content, DON’T #@&%*!$ read it! And stop with the snide, derisive, offensive comments about Dr. Plait and the rest of us who generally agree with him. That kind of behavior isn’t endearing you to anyone here. And to whine about “anti-intellectualism” and getting dumped on for “expressing an opinion” is absurd, when the content of your post is derogatory or otherwise a rant about the CONTENTS of the blog, which ISN’T up for criticism. Gripe about the topic, gripe about the poster’s responses, but not about the blog in general.

    I went to Obama’s website, but I couldn’t find anything about his statement to cut NASA’s budget, so I left him two questions: If elected, 1. do you plan to cut NASA’s funding, and 2. what is your opinion on administering vaccines to children.

    In the 2004 presidential election, 60.7% of the electorate voted. Bush AND Kerry received more votes than any previous presidential candidate in U.S. history (who was R.Reagan). Bush’s popular vote was 62,040,610, or 50.7%; Kerry’s popular vote was 59,028,444, or 48.3%.

    Today Microsoft announced that it had completed the Worldwide Telescope and it will be free online to the public. They will also make available a more inclusive version for professional astronomers. The resource is provided free in honor of Jim Gray, the Microsoft researcher whose work this project is mostly based upon, said Microsoft. Gray disappeared while sailing to the Farallon Islands to scatter his mom’s ashes.
    I hope this last isn’t already up on the blog; I just read it in this morning’s S.F. Chronicle of Tuesday, May 13.

    Will. M

  56. Chris

    Repeat after me, “There is no bottom to this administration.”

  57. Taz

    Mikel – “You thought I said his rant was a rant because it criticized the administration? Read my note again. I think anything written in the manner BA did is a rant.” Actually, I wrote my post hurriedly and phrased it badly. I was disagreeing with the contention that what BA wrote was a rant, regardless of whom it was aimed at. But that’s a matter of opinion. However, I do disagree with this “There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between any of them; they’re all politicians.” I think the first point in BA’s post is a good example of how it matters a great deal who’s elected. They may all be political animals, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all run their administrations the same way. Bush has politicized the operations of the executive branch to an unprecedented degree. The EPA, the CDC, the Justice Department, and the Iraq reconstruction effort are all examples of this. I don’t think any of the three remaining viable contenders will be as bad as Bush is in this regard. Let’s hope not anyway. Then, of course, who gets elected matters if you’re worried about the direction of the Supreme Court.

  58. Derek

    Your reference is from a liberal blog, not a real news source. Hence your opinions are based on someone else’s imagination. Very creative indeed.

  59. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Matt Garrett

    We come hear to learn about astronomy. Shut up and star gaze.

    You’re kidding me, right? YOU are making that statement? Anyone who reads this blog regularly lately knows that you are one of the FIRST ones in here spouting off against pretty much anything the BA has to say on any issue of politics, religion, and the like. I won’t say that it’s none, but I can’t think of very many times I’ve even seen you pop up in a non-politics / religion / evolution post.

    So I’d reply to you… shut up and learn about astronomy, and ignore the rest. PLEASE… I beg you.

  60. Dutch

    Wil M. wrote,
    ” Gripe about the topic, gripe about the poster’s responses”

    Here goes.
    The first paragraph in your post is about the silliest thing I ever read.

  61. Derek

    “The past seven years have been one of seemingly unending downward spirals into recession, far-right control of the government, loss of liberty etc….).”

    Far-right government???? He’s increased spending on every social level, plus bailing out the mortgage industry to name just a few instances that prove those three words wrong. This is the opposite of far-right.

    Although if you take into account the fact that he lowered taxes for EVERYONE (including allowing a large percentage of low income folks to pay NO taxes) and still increased revenues to record levels. Since that is a fact, I guess a far-left government’s raising of taxes on everyone (ahem Barack Hussein Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton & probably John McCain) will indeed decrease overall revenues. Then there is less money to spend on the already most expensive per-child education system in the world. Aren’t there several posts on this blog lamenting poor US high school science understanding??? I guess less money from higher percentage federal income taxes won’t offer you any cheese with your whine.

    Name just one liberty you have lost since Bush came to office??? I guess for Phil, the only liberty you’ve lost is probably the ability to view and disseminate pedophile videos. But for the rest of us, there has been no loss of any liberties. Just like in ’04 when a Bush reelection would mean South Park would be taken off cable, Howard Stern would be fined and in jail and newspapers would be shut down (that last one hasn’t happened since democrat Woodrow Wilson shut down over 100 newspapers in his presidency). Since Bush’s reelection, we now have Family Guy back on the air. Everyone WINS!

  62. David D

    Yeah, this is BA’s blog and he can say whatever he damn well pleases. It is the hyperbole that most certainly detracts from his skeptical “cred” and this is what turns off most people who come here, looking for astronomy, and finding rants instead. Some commenters like Phil’s non-astronomical postings. It is my observation (crude as it may be) that they are the ones whose politics are more aligned with Phil’s. If the shoe was on the other foot, i’m not so sure they would be as happy with the political posts.

    Politics is less about cold hard facts, and more about feeling and passion, and your interpretation of current events (57 states, anyone? How ’bout 100 years in Iraq?). Makes for great opinionated discussions, though.

  63. Don Wiseman

    Everyone has a write to have and publish opions on any blog that will have them. So? I wonder, on occassions, when passion does blow rationality out of the water? Skeptics – of whom I am skeptical) seem to believe ony in facts (that they approve of). Which is one reason scientists fight like kids at a playground (occassionally) and eventually the truth (as we know it) seems to some out.

    Omitted fact: No executive branch controls the budget. The congress does. Democrats (primarily lawyers) have been as historically wrong about science and technology as Republicans. Don’t trust me on that. Investigate – then as so often happens, minimize what does not agree with your hypothesis.

  64. Dutch

    I think we all know that Phil is just working the system. He needs to keep the number of hits and posts up. How do you do that? Make one sided blanket statements such as ” The past seven years have been one of seemingly unending downward spirals into recession” for which there is no truth and he apparently has no base of knowledge. Then sit back and let the money roll in. All he has to do is every once in a while post something that has truth in it on a subject he has knowledge of, so that he maintains some credibility.

  65. davidlpf

    If politicians stayed out of science, scientists can stay out of politics.

  66. Pisces

    The sad (and somewhat amazing) aspect of this is that a large # of Americans voted this administration in for a SECOND TERM! Please people….pay attention this time! The country you save may be your own!

  67. David D

    “Hat tip to Crooks and Liars . . .”

    Crooks and Liars? Hmmmm. . .

    Here’s the latest blogposts at Crooks and Liars:

    “Voters still more concerned with Bush than Jeremiah Wright”
    “Countdown’s Worst Persons: Wally World, McCain’s Myanmar Lobbyist & BillO”
    “For John McCain, Hating On Trial Lawyers More Important Than Equality & Fairness”

    Wow–pretty damn objective.

    Hey, Phil–don’t let us hear you whine about FoxNews, again, OK?

  68. dharmadove

    Supporting your right to expression, you entiltiled to your opinion anytime in my book. This is your site and you have the right under (The US) Constitution of free speech.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech

    Science IS Politics (and religion to some)…

  69. Daffy

    After 8 years of the Republican party controlling all 3 branches of government, we are left with an unending, pointless war; an ever deepening recession; rampant corruption; runaway deficits; and loss of respect across the globe. And there are STILL people who are Republican loyalists.

    Why? They got to run everything the way they wanted for years, and this is the result. What possible reason could anyone have for being a loyal republican anymore?

    Democrats have their own set of problems too, of course…and I am no more loyal to them than I am Republicans. Blind partisanship is destroying this country.

  70. davidlpf

    No science is not politics people make political when it does not match their personal beliefs such as creationism, the enviroment and when life starts. That is way things like ID get a foot hold or people arguing over global warming while global warming is happening, and stem cell research that could benefit millions of people around the world is partially put on hold because of some politicans personal beliefs.

  71. tallcoldone

    Phil, as a scientist you should not make decisions (your item #2) about issues based on one news article. I work for Dow and I don’t know all that has happened, but I do know that there were capricious steps taken by the EPA on this that did nothing to promote a cleaner environment or advance public well being. You can’t give up your hunger for data-based judgements just because it fits your worldview (which I happen to agree with most of the time).

  72. David D

    @Daffy

    You knew I was going to respond . . .

    –Pelosi et al in charge of House since 2006–your 8 years is wrong.

    –unending, pointless war–I’ll give you that one.

    –recession: really? by what definition? BTW, unemployment incredibly low, Dow >12,000, etc. Economy is not as bad as you would make it.

    –corruption, deficits, loss of respect-no real change there (except maybe for deficits) in at least 30 years, so you can’t lay that at the current occupant’s doorstep.

    But I think we can all agree that it is time for a new occupant.

  73. Josh

    yeah, fuk bu$h, amirite

  74. Derek, I was going to reply to some of your points in a reasonable manner, but then I got to

    I guess for Phil, the only liberty you’ve lost is probably the ability to view and disseminate pedophile videos.

    Never mind, it’s clear that you’re not interested in rationality when you start randomly accusing people with different opinions of pedophilia. Why do people bother to post this kind of crap? If they care about the issue enough to write a post, why on Earth are do they blow their own credibility by using ad hominem attacks which are, let’s be honest, libelous?

    Quiet Desperation, re Liberals

    “OK, big government program. Oops! That didn’t work. OK, even bigger government program that does the exact same thing! Oops! OK…”

    I have to disagree with this interpretation of history. Liberals are no more pro-“big governement” than conservatives in this country. In fact, the biggest increases in Federal spending have been under, yep, the most conservative presidents in recent memory. (Where the two groups like to spend their money is, of course, quite different.) The reason “Liberal” has become maligned is indeed somewhat the fault of the liberals, but I’d say mostly for allowing such tripe as the above to be repeated so often that it becomes part of the conventional wisdom. (I think it was Reagan who really started the idea that Democrats/liberals are all about “tax and spend”, but it could pre-date him.)

    Frankly, neither side on the standard political spectrum is interested in shrinking the size of the government for the simple reason that the system is rigged against that.

  75. Matt Garrett

    Celtic, that’s because I LEARN from Phil’s astronomy stuff. I don’t need to debate it.

    All I’m saying is if he wants to do politics, THEN DO POLITICS. But to co-opt what was once a fine blog on astronomy and turn it into a “let’s bash believers and Republicans” blog cheapens the site, and alienates those of us who lean in that direction.

    All I’m saying.

  76. LaCreption

    @Dutch 13 May 2008 at 2:34 pm

    ‘Richard Dawkins in an interview by the BBC titled the Richard Dawkins interview about the book ‘Richard Dawkins’ by Richard Dawkins with Richard Dawkins by richarddawkins.net’.

  77. Mark Hansen

    Matt,
    He does politics where it interferes with science. If you don’t like that, then don’t visit, or don’t click on those subjects; they are pretty easy to identify. Remember, just like adult sites, no-one is forcing you to click on them. But you and others have been told this before ad nauseum so all I can assume is that you’re either thick or hypocritical.

  78. Daffy

    David,

    Yes I did. ;-)

    The only thing I can add is that I made it clear partisanship on both sides is what I object to. Too many people love their party over their country, IMO.

    If it makes you any happier, I would like to see one party control the White House and the other control Congress and the Senate. And I don’t care which. Just as long as one party does not control everything; that has been proven to be a disaster.

    I concede I was sloppy with the 8 years number…doesn’t change my point, though.

  79. Tyler Durden

    “–Pelosi et al in charge of House since 2006–your 8 years is wrong.”

    Personally I found the Democratic takeover of the House in ’06 to be completely irrelevant. They’ve only got a slim majority, and it requires virtually all of the Dem representatives to vote the same way for anything to be accomplished.

    These are politicians, not scientists.. you’re lucky to get a group of them to agree on what to order for lunch. Expecting them all to agree on a political issue is naive.

    On a more personal note if I had a time machine and a good high-powered sniper rifle I’d have a damn good time back in 2000. Would probably need to get silver bullets though, otherwise no way Cheney would be taken out properly ;)

  80. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Matt Garrett

    All I’m saying is if he wants to do politics, THEN DO POLITICS. But to co-opt what was once a fine blog on astronomy and turn it into a “let’s bash believers and Republicans” blog cheapens the site, and alienates those of us who lean in that direction.

    And all I’m saying is that it comes off as pretty hypocritical of you to jump on this thread and bash BA for expressing his opinions outside of astronomy on his own freakin blog, when you are one of the first people in every political / religion / controversial thread to pipe up and disagree with pretty much any opinion he expresses.

    How do you reconcile spending so much time, which I’ve seen you do post after post, expressing your opinions on these subjects, with then turning around and making an argument that he should stick to astronomy. Come on Matt… what you’re doing here is no different than what you do in every other thread… you come in to take any opportunity to disagree with, bash, or just simply take the opposite position on pretty much any and every issue BA talks about.

    And you hide behind occasional platitudes like “this was once a fine blog on astronomy” as if you know what on earth you are talking about. This blog has been more or less what it is now for years… (only better) as long as I’ve been coming here. I’ve said this before… I don’t agree with many of Phil’s points and views, but I wouldn’t change a thing, and I think it’s just plain ungrateful of you or anyone else to ask Phil to filter his site for the things you don’t want to see, considering the service he provides you with his own time.

    The point, Matt, is that in this case you didn’t just disagree with Phil’s position… no, you disagreed with his decision to post it. So if that is your problem, then don’t read those posts, and stop commenting on them!

    And same to the rest of you with the same ridiculous argument. Sheesh.

    Rant over.

  81. According to this site, there’s only another 252 days to go until Bush leaves office.

  82. Duane

    Regarding whoever came up with that “blog:”

    I’m no more a fan of GWB than you are, yet I think it’s hilarious that there is at least one person out there who literally counts down each day until Bush leaves office. What a long stretch of years it’s been, kind of like me counting down the minutes until Christmas morning when I was a kid, only sadder and funnier at the same time.

    Yeah, yeah, I get it: he sucks. But aren’t there personal goals this poor person could spend his or her limited time achieving instead of this? Are there people who have literally put their lives on hold for eight years?

    Are there no mountains to climb, women (or men) to love, children to be helped and nurtured, trees to be planted, elderly to be assisted, cats to be kicked (well…) or wilderness left to save?

    2009 is coming, whether one gets out of bed in the morning and accomplishes some good in this world, or not. The fact that there is no guarantee that I, personally, will see a single day of 2009 motivates me to get up, get out there and get my portion of the world’s work done as best I can before The Cloaked One With The Dusty Eye Sockets taps me on the shoulder and says “it’s all over, Johnny.”

    Stop lamenting. Do SOMETHING!!

  83. Duane

    By that “blog” I meant daysuntilgeorgebushleaves.blogspot.com. Not THIS blog (badastronomy). THIS blog is fantastic!

  84. Annoyed

    McCain is going to win. Get over it!

  85. Tyler Durden

    These are politicians, not scientists.. you’re lucky to get a group of them to agree on what to order for lunch. Expecting them all to agree on a political issue is naive.

    Irrelevant to anything else here, but I felt compelled to note that if you think politicians are hard to convince to agree, you really should try herding scientists. To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, give two scientists opposite ends of a rope and they’ll instinctively pull in different directions. It’s actually a fairly normal human condition for people to pull in opposite senses, I’ve noticed. Scientists are probably worse than most, though: we’re less used to having to bow to practical realities of needing to agree and even encouraged to think differently. This makes for good science, although lousy science planning.

    Hey, it’s a science blog, what did you expect? :-)

  86. Walabio

    Jeffersonian:

    > “Something you have to live with everyday is hard not to think about and unhealthy not to discuss. A blog is, by nature, somewhat stream of consciousness. Regardless of what people may say now, 51% of your fellow Americans were given the facts about the environment, the economy, and the war, and still rehired him for the job. This means 51% have no business complaining about any of it. It also means they’re going to do it again.”

    The exitpolls disagree. Some exitpolls were as far off as 12%. When converted into standard deviations, that is 24 standard deviations. In 2003, Walden “The ElectionFixer” O’Dell promised to fix the election using his voting equipment. Evidently he did.

    It seems that Kerry was the first Presidential Candidate to ever get over 60 million popular votes, while president moron got less than 50 million.

  87. Quiet Desperation

    John Weiss: “Frankly, neither side on the standard political spectrum is interested in shrinking the size of the government for the simple reason that the system is rigged against that.”

    Oh, I don’t disagree. I was just listing the *top* problems of each group. For conservatives, well, yeah, they have been big spenders for some time now, but it’s still #2 or #3 under the religious nonsense. You savvy?

    The system is rigged to keep thoughtful, intelligent people from ever even considering running for office. Who wants to subject their lives to that level of scrutiny where every tiny thing is magnified a million-fold.

    In my case, I had a pretty wild time in my younger years, including a number of years in the California BDSM scene. You think I could *ever* run for an office? ;-) Maybe In Europe I could, especially Germany. :-P

    And that’s where the media is to blame. Gotta dig up the DIRT (even if it’s not really dirt but just a different approach to life than the boring vanilla types) on the candidate. Forget about reporting on viewpoints and issues or anything from this century.

  88. dharmadove

    I’m still waiting for someone to toss around the “Nazi” word on this thread…

  89. Nazi….. Happy now?

  90. Grand Lunar

    News like this make me want to find a method to bring 1 January 2009 faster. Appropiately, you can do that by going faster.
    Just have to get as close to light speed as possible. Hope I don’t overshoot.

    I hope that ways can be made to keep such nonsense from happening again from future CICs.

  91. Grand Lunar: Actually, Bush’s term ends at noon on January 20, 2009. That means an additional 20 days of his nonsense.
    As for anyone who thinks that criticism of Bush is somehow unpatriotic, remember what Theodore Roosevelt said: “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.”

  92. wolfwalker

    So the Bush administration is an enemy of all that is good, but the Snobama administration will be all sweetness and light?

    You ideologues never cease to amaze me. You spend hours, days, months, years meticulously listing every single thing the Opposition lizards do that you consider to be wrong — yet at the same time you think that when your lizards get in office, the government will suddenly, miraculously start running smoothly and Happy Days Will Be Here.

    Hah.

    When Snobama wins this fall with a supermajority in both houses of Congress, and there is no effective Opposition to his policies, you’ll really find out what repressive government is like. Bush is a piker compared to what Snobama and his cronies will do. And you fools won’t even realize it until too late because you think he’s on your side, he’s a servant of Light, and he wouldn’t do anything like that.

    Hah again.

    It’s a source of never-ending amazement and despair to me, how people so skilled at logical thought in the realm of science and engineering can completely lose that skill when the subject is politics.

  93. Wolfwalker: you’re showing your true colors with the schoolyard name jokes, but the messenger does not change the truth value of the message. Blind adherence to ideology, any ideology, is the death of skeptical and rational thought.

    Always question authority, while simultaneously respecting it (until such a point that said authority has no grounds for respect).

    Always question the truth, or any model of the truth, while respecting what utility can be gotten out of it. Once truth gets capitalized, things start going pear-shaped.

  94. Kirk

    This Science Community discusses science AND contemporary politics….. the best of both worlds. Onward Phil & adios Dan.

  95. Quiet Desperation, I see your point, but I’d modify it a bit: I think you were listing the main perceived problems of the two parties. There’s what the media/spin-doctors/public/etc. see as the parties and then there is reality. Reality is that neither party is any good at governing at this point. They’ve both become ultra-specialized at winning elections, which is a very different thing. That’s why neither one can spend money responsibly of make the tough decisions that will make them even vaguely unpopular (like cutting spending).

  96. Will. M

    There you go again, Dutch, sounding just like your nicknamesake of 25 or so years ago (he, too, wasn’t the sharpest tent peg in the bag). Let me see if I can simplify this for you even more: when you’re in a Chinese restaurant, you can criticize the Mushu Pork, the Spring Rolls, the Drunken Shrimp all you want; but when you complain about Kentucky Fried Chicken, you sound like a fool and annoy the waiter.

  97. Johnny Rotten

    I’ll quote the great man (BA), and do my best to take it completely out of context in the hopes of making everyone mad:

    “I’m telling the drama queens that when they leave, they can simply do so without The Grand Speech…”*

    * From the Politics/Religion link found on the menu of *every* page of this site, comment 122717, 15 Jul 2007, The Bad Astronomer

    That was easier then I thought. Mission Accomplished.

    From my perspective, I feel it’s rather silly to demand changes to information service that I have zero financial investment in. If I was paying for this service, I would feel more comfortable demanding more of X and less of Y. When I don’t pay anything, and in fact enjoy a completely free service that BA isn’t on the hook in any way to make available, I feel privileged to have access to it at all. “Shut up” isn’t in my vocabulary in this scenario.

    Furthermore, those that advocate the “shut up” approach would have more credibility if they practiced what they preach. In my opinion, there is a fundamental flaw in their argument: They reserve for themselves rights that they aren’t willing to grant to another. It’s rather ironic: they feel they are entitled to express themselves – their views and complaints in the comments; however BA isn’t allowed to do so in his comments, i.e., “The Blog”.

    – JR

  98. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Shut up and star gaze.

    Wow. Just…wow.

  99. Dutch

    Will M.
    In your first paragraph you say the following “WHY do find it necessary to whine?” Then you proceed to whine like a baby.

    Next you state the following “If you don’t like the entire content, DON’T #@&%*!$ read it! ” May be you should take some of your own advice and DON”T READ IT.

    Next you state the following ” stop with the snide, derisive, offensive comments” Again take you own advice. I think in your last post your said I was not to sharp and I sound like a fool. I guess there is nothing snide, derisive or offensive in that comment.

    You are a case study in conflict. You must live by the motto ” Do as I say, not as I do.”

  100. IBY

    No, the Republicans said the grams of chocolate has been increased from 10 to 20 grams. Doubleplusgood! You are in unorthodoxy, they shall recondition you in room 101.

  101. Will. M

    “Dutch
    Phil
    Does the DNC email you their ‘talking points” memo or do you have to request it??
    and

    “Dutch
    Instead of ‘rant” how about the following..
    Bombastic
    Rhetoric
    Spindoctor for the left.
    inflamatory(sic) and

    “Dutch
    Phil is just working the system. He needs to keep the number of hits and posts up. How do you do that? Make one sided blanket statements such as ” The past seven years have been one of seemingly unending downward spirals into recession” for which there is no truth and he apparently has no base of knowledge. Then sit back and let the money roll in. All he has to do is every once in a while post something that has truth in it on a subject he has knowledge of, so that he maintains some credibility. and

    “Dutch
    Will M.
    In your first paragraph you say the following “WHY do find it necessary to whine?” Then you proceed to whine like a baby.

    Next you state the following “If you don’t like the entire content, DON’T #@&%*!$ read it! ” May be you should take some of your own advice and DON”T READ IT.

    Next you state the following ” stop with the snide, derisive, offensive comments” Again take you own advice. I think in your last post your said I was not to sharp and I sound like a fool. I guess there is nothing snide, derisive or offensive in that comment.

    You are a case study in conflict. You must live by the motto ” Do as I say, not as I do.”
    Next you state the following “If you don’t like the entire content, DON’T #@&%*!$ read it! ” May be you should take some of your own advice and DON”T READ IT.

    Next you state the following ” stop with the snide, derisive, offensive comments” Again take you own advice. I think in your last post your said I was not to sharp and I sound like a fool. I guess there is nothing snide, derisive or offensive in that comment.”

    Will. M
    Dutch:
    “Yeah, I too am getting tired of the folks who bitch about this website not giving them astronomy 24/7. Since no one is forcing you folks to visit here, when you do, WHY do find it necessary to whine? If you don’t like the entire content, DON’T #@&%*!$ read it!”

    What is it you find “silly” about that statement? It’s pretty straightforward: if you don’t like what content Dr. Plait puts in his blog, then don’t read it. This applies to all the “keep it to astronomy” whiners, of whom there seem to be an increasing number of late. No whine there; only straight talk. Do you belong to that category?

    I like the entire content of this site, Dutch. I just don’t like folks like you who carp, criticize and whine incessantly, using snide and derisive commentary completely devoid of factual rebuttals for your criticism (see above), which is directed mainly at Dr. Plait and not at what his post references.

    And if you read my comment re your nicknamesake, nothing in it directly calls you a dullard, a fool, or an annoyance. It does imply that anyone who can’t understand the restaurant analogy might think the comment was directed at him, though.

    (the rest of my first post)
    “And stop with the snide, derisive, offensive comments about Dr. Plait and the rest of us who generally agree with him. That kind of behavior isn’t endearing you to anyone here. And to whine about “anti-intellectualism” and getting dumped on for “expressing an opinion” is absurd, when the content of your post is derogatory or otherwise a rant about the CONTENTS of the blog, which ISN’T up for criticism. Gripe about the topic, gripe about the poster’s responses, but not about the blog in general.”

    This didn’t apply to you, Dutch, as well – although you seem to think it did. But I will concede that the last part was badly phrased, especially the last sentence, and might have led to some confusion on your part. To post-edit the post: If the only reason to comment here is to complain about the lack of an astronomy-only content, or to otherwise post ad hominem (attacking an opponent’s motives or character rather than the policy or position they maintain) attacks on Dr. Plait or the posters, then don’t read the site. Howzzat?
    And to make you happy:
    You are offensive, snide, foolish and certainly not witty with your whinging (that’s a synonym for whine) and unsubstantiated comments about Dr. Plait. There.
    Happy now?
    Will. M

  102. Joe

    “January 20, 2009 cannot come fast enough.”
    Actually the fun starts January 21, 2019, one second after midnight.
    W won’t be fed, just another state murder.

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