The Presidential candidates on space policy

By Phil Plait | August 21, 2008 8:50 am

The Planetary Society has posted both Obama’s and McCain’s statements on space policy.

Both sound good, I’ll admit. Obama’s is a lot more thorough, with more specifics (which I had to chuckle over, given that many of his detractors falsely claim that he only makes broad generalizations, with no specifics). Both hit a lot of the high marks: we need to explore space, they both support NASA but see that it needs work, Constellation needs attention and money, and so on. Again, Obama’s statement is a lot more detailed (including education, which I like), with clearer statements about funding another Shuttle launch if needed, and other things I’ve previously discussed.

As before, I think they are pretty close, with Obama edging out McCain when it comes to policy. And, as I said before, I’m not a one-policy voter, and McCain has gone a long way out of his way to alienate folks like me (you know, reality-based people). We’re still a long way (sigh) from November, so we’ll see how this plays out. In general space and science policies are not fodder for the mainstream media, so keep your eyes out here for more info as I find it.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Space

Comments (55)

Links to this Post

  1. Skepacabra | August 21, 2008
  1. Gary Ansorge

    I have a problem with McCain that goes beyond his adherence to the Bush administrations policies. It’s just that I am really tired of high end leaders who, like McCain, ranked in the bottom one percent of their (Naval Academy)graduating class and only managed to remain in school because he had three admirals in his family. Talk about elitist!

    I understand Barack Obama can actually spell antidisestablishmentarianism,,,
    THAT’S the kind of president I want.

    GAry 7

  2. Brian Gefrich

    Hey Phil.

    This is obviously an important topic. I think it’s important to point out that in 2004, Senator McCain answered the Issue Positions survey on votesmart.org and said he was in favor of slightly decreasing space exploration budgets.

    I suppose that’s slightly worse than with Senator Obama, in which we just have to take his word for it.

  3. Edward

    My sentiments exactly.

  4. kuhnigget

    I’m far too cynical to put much faith in any candidate’s words during a campaign. Seems to me there’s a lot of boilerplate in both statements. What presidential contender has not talked about education? Or the importance of exploration?

    I agree that Obama at least has a few more specifics, though I thought this was rather a howler: “The International Space Station is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished through international cooperation.” Umm…what exactly has been accomplished, other than a big tin can established on orbit? Yeah, okay, we’re learning a lot about how to put structures together in microgravity, but…what’s it for?

  5. Espen

    Oh dear, you shouldn’t listen to anything politicians say. We should all be more concerned with finding new ways to make politicians useful, like making them in to fertilizer.

    I will, however, commend you on your ability to read some of the crap they manage too cook up while still retaining your sanity. Well done, sir ;)

  6. SLC

    Unfortunately, Senator Obama appears to have abandoned his previous position on deemphasizing manned space exploration. I guess he decided that Bob Park and Steven Weinberg don’t know what they are talking about.

  7. Cheyenne

    I think I’d be more interested in what the congressional candidates have to say about science funding. They are, you know, they ones who actually control the purse strings.

    But I don’t see much difference at all between these two candidates on science. Think I’m going to end up making my pick based on other factors (like whether my coin comes up heads or tails before I enter the voting booth).

  8. Joe Meils

    It’s interesting to me that the “liberal media” is trying to force an opinion that Obama has no substance, while giving McCain a pass on the very details that would cost him dearly in the polls. If anything, I think the republican owned and operated media is doing it’s best to throw the election to the right… again.

  9. Gary Ansorge

    Bob PArk is a crusty curmudgeon, who is often against anything that might be seen as a bit too pricey, like humans in space.
    I know nothing of Steven Weinbergs opinions on human presence in space but hey, he was born in 1933. Which is to say, his dreams were more oriented to the pragmatic.

    Space is a new environment, one which will severely test our ability to adapt. If the first amphibian to crawl out of the sea had to contend with its peers opinions , we’d all still be breathing water,,,and it’s really hard to smelt iron in the water,,,

    If humans ever DO develop effective life extension techniques, I would restrict access to those technologies only to people willing to live and test themselves in that harshest of new environments. That’s the only way I can think of to prevent the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few gerontological oddities. That was one of the concerns of Issac Asimov, that extreme life extension technologies would bring human evolution to a screeching halt because power and wealth would inevitably end up being concentrated in the hands of a few old farts,,,forever,,,

    GAry 7
    PS. I may be one of those old ones, but I really prefer the company of the young. They’re much more energetic and interesting,,,

  10. Frank Ch. Eigler

    Phil, by identifying yourself with the silly propaganda phrase “reality-based person”, will you be scientific & rigorous enough that if some of your revered beliefs turn out to be false, you’ll retract the claim of being “reality based”? Or is this a meaningless “reality, as I see it today”?

  11. StevoR

    Deja vu poerhaps but don’t I seem to recall reading a similar post on US presidential candidates beliefs not too long ago? (Like, say, a few months back when Hiliary was still in the running?)

    Has much changed since?

    Personally, I really cannot understand, how any US citizen could even consider voting for a party like the Republicans – or the “Retardicans” as I prefer to more accurately label them? They are simply too evil, unethical, destructive, anti-science, anti-compassion, pro-war, pro-religious bigotry, pro-Big Oil at everyone’s expense for words!

    As for their candidate, why in the blazes would anyone for an man who is nearly 100 yeas old wishing for a war that lasts 100 years in Vietnam er .. Iraq. I mean this guys big claim to fame is that he was too incompetent or okay maybe just toounlucky to avoid being sot down over enemy territory and captured. If McCain’s the best the Republicans can do … ???

    Please Americans please for the sake of the rest of the planet – including your own you have simply got to vote for Obama.

    Voting for McCain is like voting for Lord Voldemort or Darth Sidious / Emperor Palpatine – with consequences for the decent people on the planet as severe. It really is just that simple.
    :-(

    —–

    Okay that’s my opinion, but Sheesh! Just open your eyes and think!

    Please USA whatever oudo don';t vote for the Republican party and Jo

  12. Troglodyte

    Frank,

    It’s not a silly propaganda phrase; a reality-based person molds their beliefs around the evidence and proof for a specific concept. Our understanding of the mechanics of the universe evolves as we gain more knowledge and better ways of gathering it, so it’s not an insult to a reality-based person to say that they would shift their perspective given superior information or a better way of modeling reality.

    Contrast this to those who don’t consider themselves reality-based; there are people who believe in nonsense that is either demonstrably false or at best has no evidence. Perhaps a reality-based individual doesn’t know the precise mechanics of the universe, but they strive to understand them and better model them, whereas the opposite is true for many people. I’ll give you an example: there are legions of people who believe that vaccines cause autism, when study after study has demonstrated that it simply isn’t true. A reality based person looks at this data and realizes that vaccines are an amazing public health asset and, since they clearly don’t cause autism, advocates them. Now, let’s take an imaginary scenario: 50 years down the road it’s discovered that vaccines are the cause of all disease (obviously they aren’t, but work with me here). A reality based person– the same person who advocated vaccines 50 years ago– would stop their support of vaccination, assuming the evidence was reliable and accurate.

    You don’t have to be perfect to connect to reality; it’s a matter of skepticism, honesty with yourself, and a desire for a better understanding of the way the universe works. Science has struck down any number of “sacred cows” and will strike down many more, and every time it’s resulted in more wonder at the universe and a greater drive to understand than ever before.

  13. StevoR

    Frank Ch. Eigler said on August 21st, 2008 at 9:58 am :

    “Phil, by identifying yourself with the silly propaganda phrase “reality-based person”, will you be scientific & rigorous enough that if some of your revered beliefs turn out to be false, you’ll retract the claim of being “reality based”? Or is this a meaningless “reality, as I see it today”?

    Well “reality as we saw it yesterday” would hardly be called reality now would it? ;-)

    As for “reality as we’ll see it in the future” .. Well .. we just can’t see that now so we’re left with only “reality as we know it today” – & perhaps more importantly, the set of methodologies called science & logical reasoning that enables us to discern what’s reality from what’s not – as our only real ;-) option!

    What’s your alternative – ask our imaginary sky fairy friends to tell us what to do & take them (or some third parties interpretation of the will &commands of such imaginary friends) on blind faith without having any real reason?

    Oh & if so then whose imaginary friends do we choose? The Pastafarians? The Satanists? The Mormons? The Hindu pantheon? The ancient Greek pantheon? The Cargo Cult of the Papuans? Well …?

  14. Robbie

    StevoR, posting in lots of italics, bold, and emoticons doesn’t actually make your posts easier to read.

    Your post is also even more off-topic and the this one.

    Space is good, we should conquer it. There, I’m on topic now.

  15. StevoR

    Thinking of Deja vu (which is not quite as nice as Dejah Thoris princess of Helium ;-) ) I know I’ve asked before already but I’m really keen for an
    answer :

    BA Please can we have the second installment of the “No Green stars?” topic soon & also hear any news on the mysterious planetary nebula puzzler that you posted on ages ago here soon~ish?

    Pretty please with a conveniently placed bright supernova & another great Comdt like McNaught 2007on top!? ;-)

  16. David

    Phil, Obama DOES speak in broad generalizations. Just because he was a little more specific about space policy than McCain does not mean he is ALWAYS more specific or more specific more often!!
    But the real truth of the matter is that Obama can not be trusted AT ALL. So what if he says he will do this and do that.
    He CHANGED his views on off shore oil drilling, iran, iraq, NAFTA, public financing, seating FL and MI, gun control, accepting money from special interests and lobbyists (this is more of a lie than a flop), FISA and many other things.

    Now think about that for one second. If Obama can SO EASILY change his mind on an issue like, say, FISA-an issue that you can easily find 3 dozen you tube videos and quotes of him being SO AGAINST. If a man who once said “I am sick and tired of democrats thinking the only way to fight the war terror is to vote like George Bush politics” than he can just as easily change his mind on space policy. Not because of new facts but because of SAME OLD POLITICS.

  17. Flipping a coin to decide who you’re going to vote for is, pardon me, god-awful stupid. If you honestly think Obama and McCain are so alike that it doesn’t matter, then you are grossly misinformed. You can remedy this by visiting their websites and learning more about their positions (or learning about a 3rd party candidate that you like). If you choose to remain wilfully ignorant, then please renounce your citizenship, because you don’t deserve it.

  18. StevoR

    Robbie Said on August 21st, 2008 at 10:36 am :

    “StevoR, posting in lots of italics, bold, and emoticons doesn’t actually make your posts easier to read.

    Your post is also even more off-topic and the this one. Space is good, we should conquer it. There, I’m on topic now.”

    Well, sorry, I know I get a bit carried away sometimes but I’m trying to empahasise certain lines & get these strongest points to stand out.

    I’m trying to indicate emotion & indicatewhen I’m joking & not & I understood the convention here was to have people’s tags in bold as asign of respect & indicate who you’re talking too & since block quotes don’t seem to be working I’m putting quoted text blocks into italics toshow they’re actually .. well ..quotes!

    I wish there was a better system here – & I wish I could edit these posts but there isn’t & I can’t so I’m left making the best of what they’ve got here.

    I’ll try to keep your comments in mind.

    BTW. Would you happen to be the “Robbie” I think you might be??
    A fellow Adelaidean & SF writer?

  19. StevoR

    As for the topic well it is political & discussing the merits of the two US presidential candidates.

    I see absolutely NO merit in the Republican candidate or his party whatsoever & I am just stating my view on this and asking why anyone could possibly think otherwise ..

    Isn’t that what blogs like this are for?

    To enable people to expressing and discuss their opinions and comment and communicate with others on such matters?

    I do fully agree however with your statement that :

    “Space is good, we should conquer it.” (Or at least ‘explore & learn to live in it.’)

    I think an Obama Presidency will enable us to do this while a McCain one will destroy it along with a great, great, great, deal else.

  20. Charles

    One problem with an extra Shuttle flight not intended to visit ISS is that unless the orbit allows for safe haven at ISS another Shuttle must be prepared to complete a rescue mission. Will NASA need to have Pads 36A and 36B occupied by operational, flight ready birds and not launch the rescue craft once the primary ship de-orbits?

    Secondly, an extra Shuttle flight also delays retrofits that will be necessary for an Ares launch. That will not shorten the spaceflight gap, it will lengthen it.

  21. Cheyenne

    @Carey – When did I say that McCain and Obama “are so alike”? Oh wait, I didn’t. Nice thought process there. I was an early Obama supporter but am now feeling like I’ll probably (well, might just) vote for McCain. Quite frankly, I don’t like either of them too much, but since the Dems control congress I think I would feel better with the Repubs in the White House.

    Thanks for the tip on going to their websites to get me more up-to-date! I’ve heard there is fantastic information out on the intertoobs – I shall avail myself to it immediately!

    This is an absolute gem- “If you choose to remain wilfully ignorant, then please renounce your citizenship, because you don’t deserve it.” You deserve a nice smile, a pat on the head, and a fresh baked cookie for that zinger.

  22. Cheyenne – there are worse ways to choose a candidate other than celebrating an “opposite day” with two of the three branches of government (as if that’s working so great right now). Some people spend the entire campaign trying to figure out which Ivy League grad is a more down to earth person that they’d rather have a beer with. To each his own.

    You can refuse to educate yourself. You can engage in childish patter. It’s your choice. I’m just asking you nicely to keep your uninformed self as far away from the voting booth as possible.

  23. Conspiracynutcracker

    John McCain said,”Seek to maximize the research capability and commercialization possibilities of the ISS National Laboratory.”

    So does this mean that he supports turning the ISS into a space hotel?

  24. jdcllns

    Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game because they almost always turn out to be–or to be indistinguishable from–self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.”
    — Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon)

    I guess it’s time to stop following this blog! To much “reality-based” crap.

  25. blake

    lets not play dumb. saying you are a reality based person is nothing more than a cheap shot at those that use the term faith based. it takes quite a contortion to pretend he meant to comment the on the rigorous methodology that his understanding of reality is always based on! even i know that, and i am the most ardent atheist, darwinist, etc. you will ever meet.

    this article was only mildy partisan, but it just goes to show you, if expose any crack in your edifice of impartiality, the commenters will charge in and turn it into another worthless argument accusing the other side of everything evil their respective echo chambers taught them to think.

    alas, plait needs to get over the idea that every republican is like the ones he sees colbert parody each evening.

  26. SLC

    Re Gary Ansorge

    Attached is a link to a discussion between Steven Weinberg and Richard Dawkins in which the former discusses his view of manned space flight. His position is similar to that of Bob Park, namely that the scientific benefits accrued from manned space flight are far outweighed by the cost and that we will get nearly as much information from unmanned flights as from manned flights at a far lower cost. I posted this link once before but here it is again.

    http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=%22steven+weinberg%22+%22richard+dawkins%22&__q=%22steven+weinberg%22&btnG=Google+Search&lr=&dur=2&so=0&num=100#

  27. Robbie

    Conspiracynutcracker: “So does this mean that he supports turning the ISS into a space hotel?”

    That would be awesome!

    StevoR: “BTW. Would you happen to be the “Robbie” I think you might be??
    A fellow Adelaidean & SF writer?”

    Nope, I’m just some dude.

    StevoR: “I think an Obama Presidency will enable us to do this while a McCain one will destroy it along with a great, great, great, deal else.”

    I don’t think even the mighty and evil Republican McCain can destroy space.

  28. SLC

    Re Gary Ansorge

    Apparently, there is some kind of problem that causes a comment with a link to be deleted. Attached is a link with the h in http missing to a video containing a discussion between Steven Weinberg and Richard Dawkins in which the former discusses is view of manned space flight.

    ttp://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=%22steven+weinberg%22+%22richard+dawkins%22&__q=%22steven+weinberg%22&btnG=Google+Search&lr=&dur=2&so=0&num=100#

  29. SLC

    Re Gary Ansorge

    I give up. attached is a link to a video with Steven Weinberg where he discusses if view of manned space flight. The reader must supply the initial http:// information.

    video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=%22steven+weinberg%22+%22richard+dawkins%22&__q=%22steven+weinberg%22&btnG=Google+Search&lr=&dur=2&so=0&num=100#

  30. Foggg

    I take it flipflop-obsessed David won’t be voting for McCain either, whose list of flipflops is longer than the Shuttle runway.
    http://www.alternet.org/election08/90956/?page=entire

  31. tacitus

    …but since the Dems control congress I think I would feel better with the Repubs in the White House.

    Because that worked so well in the past two years?

    Huh.

    If you want to ensure a solid right-wing Supreme Court rolling back progressive legislation and rulings for the next 20 years, including the inevitable banning of all abortions in some states, vote for McCain.

    If you want to continue a bellicose foreign policy that might have already prompted the Georgian president to believe he could take on a Russian allied rebel region with impugnity, then vote for McCain. (And what would he have done as president during the Cuban Missile Crisis when escalation was the preferred choice of the armed forces?)

    If you want to believe that Bush economic policy is good for the country and those who are suffering are just a “bunch of whiners”, then vote for McCain (Phil Gramm will be in his first administration, no doubt about it).

    If you want the lobbyists to remain firmly in control of Washington then vote for McCain (McCain has an astounding 159 lobbyists helping his campaign, at the last count — and this is after he claimed not to be beholden to them — many of his best friends and closest advisors still either belong to lobbying firms or own them, and people like Charlie Black have lobbied and made millions by working for some of the worse scum on the planet.

    If you want to make sure the new super rich become the super-super rich while the rest of us continue to stagnate and struggle under a weak economy, then vote for McCain.

    But, as we are being constantly reminded by McCain’s campaign on a now daily basis, that’s all okay and it’s unfair to criticize him because he was a prisoner of war for five years.

  32. blake, you need to stop reading into my writing things I didn’t put there.

    Reality-based is just what it means. The opposite isn’t faith-based, it’s unreality-based. Neocons tend to fall into that category.

    Also, I have never, to my knowledge, painted all Repubs with one brush. Just the “leaders”, the neocons, and the like. I have a few friends who are in fact Republicans, and we get along just fine.

  33. tacitus

    The problem is not Republicans, per se, it’s how far to the right their party (and especially their leadership) has become. McCain sure looks more moderate in comparison, but he hasn’t got the muscle or perhaps the will to move his party back to the center — just look at how far he’s stepped into line with virtually everything Bush administration policy in the past few months.

    Add to that, people underestimate McCain’s social conservatism. He may not be a fire-breathing fundamentalist, but he has always been anti-abortion and left no-one in any doubt that when the next two Supreme Court justices hang up their robes, the replacements will be two more Scalias or Robertses. Roe v Wade will be overturned and abortion will become completely illegal in a large swathe of the USA. (Of course, McCain’s rich buddies won’t have to worry — getting a quiet illegal abortion for a wayward heiress has never been much of a problem).

    He has also said that while he might actually consider a pro-choice running mate (yeah, right) they cannot be pro-gay. Apparently gay people are still second-class citizens in McCain’s conservative world.

    McCain has never been a moderate. He has always been a solid conservative on all the issues that matter. If you want to see what a moderate conservative looks like, then take a look at David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party in the UK. The difference is night and day. (Imagine McCain issuing a statement that he was delighted a gay colleague of his had just gotten hitched… yeah right. Yet David Cameron did just that last year.)

    McCain is and has always been a creature of the right. He is playing the maverick card for all it’s worth but the facts don’t lie. For the past few years the “maverick” has been MIA as he has aligned himself with the Bush administration on issue after issue, including voting against the latest anti-torture legislation and against increasing benefits for veterans. When he has bothered to turn up at all for votes this year, he has voted with Bush 100% of the time.

  34. justcorbly

    Cheyenne: Congress does control the budget, but all of NASA’s human spaceflight initiatives came about via the White House.

    Eigler, et al: Faith and belief are, by definition, based in the non-reality quadrant. If you can prove something is real, you no longer need faith or belief to accept it.

    Meanwhile, Obama has always had plenty of detailed policy positions available at his website and elsewhere, for those who can be bothered to make the effort. Sadly, many Americans aren’t.

  35. SLC

    Apologies for the multiple posting of the link to the discussion by Steven Weinberg. Apparently, a comment with a link in it is not deleted but delayed for some reason.

  36. jim

    I feel sorry (not really) for all the Obama lovers out there. And for you to think McCain is far right leaning conservative. HAH! He is BARELY of Republican ilk. He is almost left of moderate. On the other hand, Obama is so far left that he is nearly beyond being a socialist.
    I don’t know either’s policy on Space funding. I wish we could spend more on space and less on war. But you Obama babies …. God help America if he wins and Congress gets a super majority. But I’m sure you’ll blame all the bad things to come SOMEHOW on the Republicans. You are always quick to take credit for anything good, and quicker to blame someone else for the bad things. Yeah, vote Democrat and keep bleeding those who furnish jobs and money to us poor slobs working hard for a living. Just watch them curl up and stop furninshing jobs and salaries. Just wait. Should be an interesting 4 years….if we survive.

  37. Here’s a crazy attempt to keep this on topic-

    In terms of space policy -and by extension science education in general- who is the better candidate?

    Neither Obama nor McCain appear to have distanced one from the other on these subjects as far as I’m concerned.

    I think it’s hilarious that Phil is whining about neocons, when what he probably doesn’t like about them is THE WAR IN IRAQ, thus ignoring the fact that even progressives and “non-neocons” voted unanimously for the Authorization To Use Military Force in Iraq. There is no difference in how they voted on the issue. But yeah, blame the “neocons”.

    Put all that aside, and which candidate has a better handle on these issues?

    McCain- Jet pilot, well versed in high tech education, strong supporter of NASA and the space program.
    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2008/01/27/mccain-strong-supporter-of-nasa-and-space-program/

    Obama – Lawyer, constitutional scholar, Wants to Slash NASA’s Budget.
    http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2007/11/obama_wants_to.html

    Who is better fit to truly better the country in terms of science and space exploration?

  38. StevoR

    jim said on August 21st, 2008 at 8:50 pm :

    “I feel sorry (not really) for all the Obama lovers out there. And for you to think McCain is far right leaning conservative. HAH! He is BARELY of Republican ilk. He is almost left of moderate. On the other hand, Obama is so far left that he is nearly beyond being a socialist.”

    What planet are you from mate?

    The problem with America is – thanks in large part to the witch-hunting Senator Joe McCarthy – it effctively has NO left (or to be accurately Progressive or Correct!) wing party. There is only two major parties – the right wing Democratic party and the extreme lunatic Right-wing Republicans.

    Far from being a true model democracy the USA is an oligarchy offering minimal real voter choice & participation.

    If you want to see how real democracies look & how much more choice and how much more balanced they are compare yourselves with New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Australia, Belgium, Spain, France, et cetera ..

    Despite its loud self-proclaimations to the contrary, the United States is actually one of the worst and weakest democracies in the Western world in terms of what democracy really means. It even looks second-best against Turkey where the State / Church (or mosque in their case) divideis rigourosuly enforeced and religious interference in the political sphere viewed extremely negatively.

    I’m not saying this just to cheese y’all off either – its the reality which you can examine for youreselves.

    As for Obama being left-wing to the point even remotely near socialism anyone who believes that is so seriously deluded and /or ignorant about politics that I don’t know whether to laugh at them or pity them.

    On the other hand there is a far better case that McCain – and the whole Bush NeoCon regieme are being pretty fascist – almost to the level of Nazi stupidity extremes. After all, both Nazi’s and Republicans invaded & occupied other nations seeking bullying power over theworld. Both torture and execute, both have harsh attitudes and cold hearts against those who are worse off in society.

    ————————–

    Godwins law? Stuff Godwin’s law – the comparison is apt & worth making & considering. Bush -& his buddy McCain really are that bad.

    I hope for the sake of all our futures Amercians are NOT sostupoid as to continue the disaster they’re in by voting for more war and less science.

  39. tacitus

    jim — McCain *left* wing?? LOL. Name one “left wing” position McCain takes…

    Abortion? No. Supreme Court? No. Iraq? No. Foreign relations? No. Economics? No. Immigration? No. Environment? No. Energy? No.

    I’ve given plenty of examples of McCain’s solid right-wing credentials. Where’s your counter-argument? Oh, that’s right, you have none.

    As for those poor widdle rich people — you know, the ones who have never, ever, had it so good as in the past decade of Bush rule? Bleeding them dry? That’s so funny.

    You know how much the middle class pays net in taxes? About 20%. The rich and super-rich? About 20%. With Obama’s tax plan that might go up to 21% or 22% net. Oh, the humanity — how will those poor multi-millionaires cope. They might even have to sell one of their half-dozen homes or their third yacht. I can’t even bear to think about it. The horror.

    Seriously, it’s a complete myth that the rich in this country are being soaked — that they are some poor oppressed minority taken advantage of by evil Democratic lawmakers as that Republicans and neocons will have you believe. It’s never happened. The *only* countries in the world where the rich and super-rich are better off than in America are those non-democratic countries where money buys you even more privilege and access than it does in the USA.

    So jim — care to pony-up and lay out some real evidence to refute my assertions? Or are you just a neocon troll?

  40. StevoR

    For the purposes of political calibration :

    What US politicans consider the political left is what most other Western or Wsestern-style democratic nations would consider the moderate right.
    (The Democratic party fits here.)

    What US politicans consider the political Centre is for most nations seen as the far Right.

    What US politicans consider the political Right is for most nations seen as the extreme far Right …

    & what US politicans consider the far right is for most democratic nations seen as the monster raving loony Right. (the Republican party fits here.)

    The USA essentially lacks any left wing politicans (well not beyond a tiny fringe with sadly, no influence at all.)

    That the most militarily & politically powerful and culturally influential Western nation – the USA – is so horrendous ipolitically unbalanced is a tragedy and major problem for the whole “Western civilisation.”

    I hope one day that problem will be remedied but sadly things just seem to keep going from bad to worse. :-(

    An election victory for Obama is a necessary step away from the precipice of disaster, but far more will still be need to bring the US back in step with the rest of the Western democratic world.

  41. StevoR

    @ Robbie who said on August 21st, 2008 at 2:13 pm :

    ” … StevoR: “BTW. Would you happen to be the “Robbie” I think you might be?? A fellow Adelaidean & SF writer?”

    Nope, I’m just some dude.

    StevoR: “I think an Obama Presidency will enable us to do this while a McCain one will destroy it along with a great, great, great, deal else.”

    I don’t think even the mighty and evil Republican McCain can destroy space.”

    No but the evil Republican-NeoCon Bush-McCain mob are certainly in the process of destroying the Earth or taleast our civilisation on it along with our lives and our chances of ever properly getting into space. :-(

    Oh well, thanks for your constructive criticism anyway. I will try to keep it in mind. :-)
    ======================================================

    “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    “Although it is true that not all conservatives are stupid, it is also true that most stupid people are conservative.” – John Stuart Mill

    “We cannot consider that the armed invasion and occupation of another country are peaceful or proper means to achieve justice and conformity with international law.”
    – President Eisenhower

    ‘Since it is impossible to coerce thought, the way to social harmony is to discuss conflict and pursue truth; the more people speak their minds freely, the more they are likely to be loyal citizens.’ – Jewish Dutch 17th C philosopher, B. Spinoza

    “.. the very best defense against terrorism would be the example of the world’s strongest nation leading the world in the moral battle against poverty, disease, intolerance, and oppression.”
    – Jim Wallis, head of the ‘Sojourner’s’ Christian Anti-War movement.

  42. llewelly

    Yet again we have two cannidates justifying support for the ISS on the most ridiculous grounds. In fact it has proved late, useless, and entirely unsuited to nearly every technology its advocates claimed it would help develop. Why can’t we face up to the fact that the sunk cost fallacy is the only thing keeping anyone interested in the ISS?

    Perhaps more importantly, it’s worth noting McCain has repeatedly voted against funding of satellites needed for the study of global warming, while Obama has voted in favor of them more often than not. (Those of you who’ve been reading Joe Romm’s blog, climateprogress know McCain’s claims about his policies on global warming cannot be trusted. )
    Finally, those of us who were awake in the 1990s recall that Bill was forced to abandoned many of the programs he desired in favour of fiscal responsibility – a necessity given the huge deficit inherited from the administration of old George H.W. Bush. Not only will the next president face much higher deficits than Bill did, they’ll have a grotesquely expensive war on their hands, and they’ll need to face the fact that many essential federal agencies have been gutted and crippled by the Bush administration. Now McCain might be more than happy to continue slash-and-burn deficit-spending – certainly his congressional record shows he supported nearly all of Bush’s worst offenses in this area – but Obama will probably feel required to cut spending on all sides in order to avoid financial disaster. More importantly, Democrats will probably gain seats in both the house and the senate, and likewise feel required to cut spending on all sides to avoid financial disaster. (The huge influence of the president on spending is largely a quirk of the last 30 years so. There’s no guarantee congress will allow it to continue. It was after all Democratic senators and Representatives who in 1993 told Bill he couldn’t count on their support if he sought funding via deficit spending. )

  43. llewelly

    jim:

    But you Obama babies …. God help America if he wins and Congress gets a super majority. But I’m sure you’ll blame all the bad things to come SOMEHOW on the Republicans. You are always quick to take credit for anything good, and quicker to blame someone else for the bad things. Yeah, vote Democrat and keep bleeding those who furnish jobs and money to us poor slobs working hard for a living. Just watch them curl up and stop furninshing jobs and salaries. Just wait. Should be an interesting 4 years….if we survive.

    Copy, paste, search and replace. Your ‘argument’ was used against Kerry in 2004, against Gore in 2000, against Clinton in 1996, against Clinton in 1992, against Dukakis in 1988, …

    Today America’s economy is a train wreck, largely due to the policies of the people who put that argument into jim’s brain. Yet jim keeps repeating the argument, like an ant that keeps climbing to the top of a blade of grass, where a sheep is more likely to eat it.

  44. blake

    mr plait, with all due respect, as you do/have done important work, but the term “reality based” came into existence as an mocking antonym to “faith based”. i have never heard it used otherwise. but i would be willing to hear you out on which other subjects mccain has engaged in unreality.
    stevor, you have no idea what a democracy is apparently. democracy is about process, yet you use opinions/positions of the people and their outcomes as examples of how the US democracy is broken. i expect you would find fault with the processes too, but these things shouldnt be conflated. if you start judging democracies by outcomes instead of processes, then you start to sound an awful lot like those “neocons”. and by the way, the US is a republic.

    to all; neocon =/= any republican you disagree with. lets try to keep this straight.
    it is a social liberal who believes in a muscular foreign policy, no more, no less.
    bush, cheney, rumsfeld are not neocons. they may be many bad things, but they are not neocons. leibermann is basically a neocon.

    also mccain=/= bush. mccain wants to see iraq through, and that is about it. his view on abortion is that he doesnt care much either way. mccain is no friend of the religious right; stopping his outright criticism of them is not the same as endorsing them. mccain deserves credit for that. the last point is especially important to me, as there is little hope that the libertarian party will nominate a sane person, and i am frustrated that both viable parties let the kookiest, most glory hungry slobs cloak themselves in the “legitimacy” of religion. lets not turn a blind eye to the antics of sharpton, jackson and the man who was pastor to our probable future prez for about 20 years, the “reverend wright”. they easily match the nonsense of robertson, dobson, etc.

    and finally, neither mccain nor obama are true friends of science,

    neil degrasse tyson for prez!

  45. Don Snow

    I neither believe nor trust very much of what either candidate has to say. But, I do think Senator Obama goes further in saying whatever it takes to get elected, whether he means it nor not.
    That doesn’t mean I favor Senator McCain.
    I’m still looking for a write in.
    Sorry, Prof. Plait, you don’t get my vote, either. You’re already a president. Just one presidency to a customer, in my book.

  46. Grump

    It was a neocon who invented the term “reality-based community”, and he considered his philosophy superior: That the neocons would simply create reality as they saw fit. Arrogance and delusion writ large.

    And it’s clear that the current American administration (and the current British one) is faith-based. And not necessarily religious faith: Their’s is the faith of the anonymous neocon who invented the “reality-based”. They believe that reality is what they want it to be. So when scientists, conservationists, sociologists and military planners tell them something they don’t like, they either ignore them completely, or find some tame counterpart that will support the party line. Then the neocons will do what they wanted to do all along, in the faith that it will all go well.

    I could bore you with detailed examples here (Iraq, environment, education) but if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve not been paying attention for the last 20 years. Go back to sleep.

    And to the poor, poor oppressed Christians who hate the term: Get over yourselves! Far, far worse gets said about the reality-based community every single day, by the faith/wishful-thinking based community.

  47. Tman, you are way off here. I do have problems with the war in Iraq — a whole mess of problems, including the spineless dems who bent over for it — but that is one of many. many issues I have with neocons. Maybe you should try going through this blog, where I have made myself clear, before speculating incorrectly on what I think.

  48. Phil,

    “Neocons” are not a political party. They aren’t a lobbying group, they don’t hold rallies, they aren’t a particular 501 group. Wiki says “Neoconservatism emphasizes foreign policy as the paramount responsibility of government, maintaining that America’s role as the world’s sole superpower is indispensable to establishing and maintaining global order”.

    So other than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, what government policy has been influenced by “the neocons”? I can’t think of any.

    Now if you want to say “conservative religious republicans” you have a problem with, I would probably agree with you. I don’t like the creep of the religious right in to politics through the republicans. I don’t like their adversion to reason based science education policy, most specifically in terms of the non-debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools.

    “Neocons” is more a misnomer than anything. Bill Clinton could be considered a “neocon” for all intensive purposes.

    If you really want a debate about the presidential candidates on space policy, than let’s debate that. I tried to start it off by listing the first things I could find relative to their positions on space policy. From what I can see, Obama would not support NASA and other space projects the way that McCain would.

    Do you agree? Disagree?

  49. Gary Ansorge

    tman: your NASA watch site is shilling for the neocons. What Obama said in 2007 has no bearing on his orientation today, because he has the ability to change his mind when presented with facts, something the neocons adjure. As has been referenced, Obama DID say he would “consider allowing off shore drilling, if that was the ONLY way to get Republican consensus for alternative energy support.”
    Note, the key word “consider”. He understands what you obviously do not: politics is a process of give and take. NO ONE gets to have it all their own way. EVERYONE has to give up something. That’s the nature of politics.

    I personally do NOT want someone in the highest office in this land who ranked in the bottom one percent of his Annapolis graduating class, as did John McCain.

    John McCain is an elitist and not the good kind, the kind that educated themselves by dint of brain busting work. He comes from a privileged family with three admirals. He married into great wealth(his wife Cindy, bless her little heart, inherited a $ 100 million estate) while Obama earned his wealth.

    I much prefer going with the one candidate running who made it working from the ground up. NOT someone who inherited his estate,,,like John McCain.

    ,,,and last but not least, Obama is a CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER. Which says a lot for his understanding of the limitations he must face as president, something the current weasel in the White House loves to ignore,,,

    Gary 7
    PS,,,besides, I just don’t like most of the people I know who are older than me (and I don’t mean chronologically),,,McCains brain is rusty,,,

  50. Gary,

    I’m not interested in arguing the non-space related aspects of this particular discussion of the candidates. There are plenty of other sites I can debate the pros and cons of those subjects for both candidates.

    But this site is dealing with Space and Astronomy, and I’m trying to keep the argument within the context of the post.

    You have stated that the links I listed were “shilling for necons”.

    Here’s one from the Boston Globe, that you cannot possibly accuse of “shilling for the neocons”.

    http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2008/08/mccain_bashes_o.html

    John McCain opened a new front today to bash Democratic rival Barack Obama, accusing him of straddling on cutting the space program.

    Last year in New Hampshire, Obama suggested delaying NASA’s mission to Mars to help fund education improvements. But earlier this month in Florida, he appeared to back away from any NASA cuts.

    Today at a business roundtable at the Astronaut Planetarium at Brevard Community College in Cocoa Beach, Florida, McCain pledged to keep space exploration a top national priority.

    “I know that earlier this year, Senator Obama proposed cutting the NASA budget and delaying the timetable for our return to the Moon and the Mars mission,” McCain said, according to prepared remarks released by his campaign. “I believe that he later repudiated his own plan. Sometimes it is difficult to know what a politician will actually do once in office, because they say different things at different times to different people. This is a particular problem when a candidate has a short, thin record on the issues as in the case of Senator Obama.

    “Let me say, just in case Senator Obama does decide to return to his original plan of cutting NASA funding – I oppose such cuts,” McCain added. “That position is a shortsighted approach that fails to recognize the benefits of space exploration and the technology and economic advantages that result from the space program.”

    Thoughts?

  51. tacitus

    Blake:

    his view on abortion is that he doesnt care much either way. mccain is no friend of the religious right; stopping his outright criticism of them is not the same as endorsing them. mccain deserves credit for that. the last point is especially important to me

    This is what’s frustrating about the current campaign — it’s as if McCain’s actions and crystal clear statements over that past few years can be excused by claiming that it’s not really what he believes, he’s “just saying that to get election”.

    Yes, it’s true that McCain is not an fundamentalist Christian, but he has done far more than just stopping outright criticism. He has sought out the endorsement of the religious right (with hilarious results, I might add) and has explicitly promised, over and over again to put more “originalist” judges (in the mold of Scalia and Roberts) on the court. You don’t believe him? They didn’t believe Bush either, yet he more than kept his campaign promise on that regard. You really want to see a hard-line right wing Supreme Court for the next 20 years? Because that’s what you’ll get with McCain and libertarians will not be happy with the results.

    As for abortion. How on earth can anyone get the sense that McCain is ambivalent about it? He has been solidly anti-abortion his whole career, always voted anti-abortion, and he’s only wavered from the hardline position a couple of times when he said he would like to see exceptions for incest and rape. Funny though, since he became the candidate for the Republicans, that little concession has fallen by the wayside too. And we’re supposed to believe he doesn’t really care that much? He obviously cares enough to ensure that he keeps the religious right happy.

    Any credit he gets in the past for criticizing Falwell and others has long since been squandered. For months he sought out two of the worst pastors of the religious right he could possibly find (Hagee and Parsley is really scraping the bottom of the barrel) and won their endorsement. Even as he had to back away, McCain must continue to court the religious right and, like Bush, will continue to do so after the election. He has to. They are a core constituency of the Republican party and party leaders will not let him abandon them (even if he wanted to).

  52. Phil,
    what blake and tman said.

    Stop using the term “neocon” as abusive (and utterly inaccurate) shorthand for “any republican you don’t like”. By the standard (actual) definition, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton could be described as neoconservatives. By continuing to be inaccurate in this, you are detracting from the rest of your message.

    Steven R, do you ever get tired of posting your crazy far-leftist rants? We get your whole “people who disagree with me politically are evil and stupid” vibe without you having to repeat it 100 times down the thread. And as for your “As for their candidate, why in the blazes would anyone for an man who is nearly 100 yeas old wishing for a war that lasts 100 years in Vietnam er .. Iraq.”, well, that’s a lie of course. What McCain actually said was that if conditions in Iraq turned out to be the same as in Germany and South Korea (i.e. democracies at peace), he wouldn’t mind the troops being there.

    P.S. although I’m British and across the pond from Phil, if I could, I would vote McCain. I would have voted for Bush both times without a hesitation. I’m also doing a degree in Astrophysics and have written for talkorigins.org. Am I “too evil, unethical, destructive, anti-science, anti-compassion, pro-war, pro-religious bigotry, pro-Big Oil at everyone’s expense for words!”?

  53. badnicolez

    I’ll stick with McCain, thank you very much, since as tax rates go up, revenues go down, and if he and the Dems in congress finish off the economy with their massive planned tax hikes, that will mean even more drastic cuts for the space program under Obama.

    We do need to get off this planet eventually (some time before we rot in our own filth), so for me it’s all about the money, honey, and MANNED space flight.

    An observation, off-topic – how is it that libs/Dems/”progressives” seem to comprehend the concept of “evil” enough to paste the label on conservatives/Republicans/”neocons,” the “rich” AND corporations, but utterly fail to apply it to the Islamo-fascists (and to be clear, before I am accused of being racist and/or bigoted, I am talking about the terrorists, not Muslims in general)?

    Finally, on the spending issue, McCain has always very clearly been anti-earmark and fought against wasteful spending, so for those of you who don’t know, thanks to his leadership, Arizona ranks dead last in dollars per citizen for earmarks. I seriously doubt he would reverse course on a long-held belief and continue the slash-and-burn spending that Bush has supported.

  54. Captainastral

    Saturn has a moon that’s practically made of hydrocarbon fuel….
    The best part is, by the time we can get to it and exploit it, we will perforce have developed better methods of obtaining and utilizing energy, so we won’t need to burn even vaster amounts of the deadly stuff, and can use it for fabrication, etc.

    Oh, yes, as far as the election goes, two choices is too close to no choice!

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