Obama's science policy

By Phil Plait | September 8, 2008 9:31 am

Science runs your life. Have no doubts about this at all. It is in everything you do, everything you are. How we deal with science, engineering, and innovation affects the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, the medicine you take, the lifespan you statistically enjoy, the computer you are sitting at, and the prosperity — or lack thereof — of the country you call home.

Right now, science in the US is under the heaviest attack it’s suffered since Galileo’s time, and for too long the citizens of this country have acquiesced. In November, we can do something about it.

Both Senators Obama and McCain have made cursory statements about various aspects of science, but that’s not enough. Science is critical, absolutely critical, to the health of the US, so we need better and more in-depth answers. To get them, a group of six citizens created Science Debate 2008 to "… restore science and innovation to America’s political dialogue."

They asked each candidate a series of science questions. As of this moment, Obama is the only one who has answered, though McCain says he will.

Obama’s answers to these questions are, to me, very heartening. He has been accused of giving no specifics when answering questions, but that is misleading at best (the noise machine is very good at making noise). In these answers he does indeed give many specifics, and to my eye is taking the right road to scientific progress and innovation in this country.

I won’t detail all his answers, but I do want to point out some specific things he wrote.

On science innovation:

My administration will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade. We will increase research grants for early-career researchers to keep young scientists entering these fields.

The number of young scientists in America is in decline, so this is a good idea. I suspect McCain’s campaign would do the same thing.

On climate change:

There can no longer be any doubt that human activities are influencing the global climate and we must react quickly and effectively. First, the U.S. must get off the sidelines and take long-overdue action here at home to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions. We must also take a leadership role in designing technologies that allow us to enjoy a growing, prosperous economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

I love that first statement. Imagine, a leader who actually has a grasp of reality! I very eagerly await John McCain’s statement on this topic. It’s not hard to see that working on this issue will lead to engineering breakthroughs (or even incremental steps) that will generate tons of money for large and small businesses. That’s a good thing, and something we should have been pursuing for decades.

On energy:

This research will cover… A new generation of nuclear electric technologies that address cost, safety, waste disposal, and proliferation risks.

Stereotypically, it’s been liberals opposed to nuclear power, and conservatives who are for it. However, I find this statement by Obama to be very encouraging. I am all for better nuclear tech, as we all but abandoned this energy production method decades ago, and we desperately need it. The engineering exists to make it clean, safe, and efficient. I’d very much like to see us increasing our use of this technology.

On science education:

I recently introduced the “Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Act of 2008″ that would establish a STEM Education Committee within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies engaged in STEM education, consolidate the STEM education initiatives that exist within the Department of Education under the direction of an Office of STEM Education, and create a State Consortium for STEM Education. … I also recently sponsored an amendment, which became law, to the America Competes Act that established a competitive state grant program to support summer learning opportunities with curricula that emphasize mathematics and problem solving.

I’d love to see a multi-departmental multi-agency (Dept. of Education, Dept. of Energy, NASA) collaboration on STEM education. Fermi (what used to be GLAST) is a collaborative effort of the Department of Energy and NASA, and while developing educational materials for it was difficult due to the bureaucracy, there is a lot of money for education in various governmental sectors. We need to take advantage of that, so we don’t waste money developing the same things repeatedly while also being able to pool intellectual resources.

On stem cells:

I strongly support expanding research on stem cells. I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations. As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight.

Awesome. And this:

I am also aware that there have been suggestions that human stem cells of various types, derived from sources other than embryos, make the use of embryonic stem cells unnecessary. I don’t agree. While adult stem cells, such as those harvested from blood or bone marrow, are already used for treatment of some diseases, they do not have the versatility of embryonic stem cells and cannot replace them.

Also awesome. this is something the Bush Administration has been lying about since practically Day One. Stem cells may lead a revolution in medicine, or they may just be a helpful line of inquiry, but either way we won’t know until the draconian and illogical rules prohibiting their use are lifted.

On space:

I’ve reported on this before, but I do want to point this part out again:

Between 1958 and 1973, the National Aeronautics and Space Council oversaw the entire space arena for four presidents; the Council was briefly revived from 1989 to 1992. I will re-establish this Council reporting to the president. It will oversee and coordinate civilian, military, commercial, and national security space activities. It will solicit public participation, engage the international community, and work toward a 21st century vision of space that constantly pushes the envelope on new technologies as it pursues a balanced national portfolio that expands our reach into the heavens and improves life here on Earth.

The NASC would be another step in the process to make sure we are making the right moves about space exploration. This is an advisory council, so it has no legal impact, but it sounds to me like Obama does tend to actually listen to expert advice (perhaps he understands the definition of "elite"). If that is indeed the case, then reinstating the NASC is an excellent idea.

And finally,

On freedom of scientific research:

I put this last, but perhaps I should put it first. Squashing actual scientific freedom and burying, distorting, and outright lying about scientific results that go counter to ideology may very well be one of the major ways the Bush Administration will be remembered. What does Obama say on this?

Scientific and technological information is of growing importance to a range of issues. I believe such information must be expert and uncolored by ideology.

I will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best- available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees.

Senator McCain? The ball is in your court.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Politics, Science

Comments (155)

  1. Quiet Desperation

    Wow! Can I vote for the person who actually composed Obama’s answers?

  2. scotth

    These make me very happy….

  3. Amen on the Nuke Tech front, In terms of what I’m thinking of specializing in when I get to grad school, Nuclear Chem is at the top of the list. I’m especially interested in methods of neutralizing and mitigating nuclear waste. Like this.

    Nuclear gets a bad rap because of the disasters in its infancy. Even Chernobyl, which wasn’t that long ago, could have easily been avoided. Glenn Seaborg toured Soviet plants as AEC commissioner and asked why they had zero (again: ZERO) containment measures. The reply was that a well designed reactor didn’t need one. Hence Chernobyl.

  4. McCain despises science. It teaches critical thinking, it teaches individuality, it teaches people to test, retest and test again. You see, he runs on this party that calls themselves “Conservatives” – the CORE VALUE OF THE CONSERVATIVES IS TO STOP PROGRESS! How can we be so gullible to even grant McCain the light of day to run on a ticket, yet alone still have a decent amount of the population believing his lies, hate and fear mongering.

  5. Chad

    Odd that you didn’t ask about we should do about the idiots who won’t vaccinate their kids because of un-scientific autism fears (hence spreading real diseases), or about GMO’s, which could save hundreds of millions from malnutrition, ease the food/fuel debate, and allow us to save millions of acres for nature.

    When you cherry pick your questions, you wind up with very dull answers.

  6. Hmm, I’m not sure Obama and McCain actually differ much on any of those basic ideas. It will prolly come down to different ways to fund and enact policies.

    I do know that McCain has been more vocal and pushy about nuclear energy than Obama, though Obama’s been open to it all along.

  7. @Quiet Desperation:

    I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic, but just in case… in all probability, it was Obama who wrote Obama’s answers. After all, it’s Obama who writes all of Obama’s speeches, so I see no reason to believe this is any different.

  8. Mark

    I’m not too fond of nuclear energy – it has a history of being handled exceptionally poor, especially when it comes to the waste it produces, and the costly complexity of the plants. Be that the leaks of the french nuclear plants, or problems like the failing nuclear waste dump of Asse in Germany, overall there seems to be too much eagerness to cut costs or to look away until the problems get out of hand. It may be the only large-scale source of energy which can be put into effect on a (rather) short timescale, but the money spent on it could also be invested into more renewable sources that do not leave us with difficult waste.
    Just my 2c, of course.
    May be moot if we’re stuck with “four more years” and cheap Alaskan oil, anyway. Remember, Jesus might show up every moment. Why save for later?

  9. Charles

    But Sarah Palin is teh hott !11!!!

    And she’s a MOM!!111!

  10. @Mark:

    “It may be the only large-scale source of energy which can be put into effect on a (rather) short timescale, but the money spent on it could also be invested into more renewable sources that do not leave us with difficult waste.”

    That’s a false dichotomy. The idea that you can’t put money into both nuclear technology *and* renewables is, frankly, silly. We, as a planet, need to get off the hydrocarbon teat, and we’re going to need a myriad of technologies to do it. There’s no logical reason why nuclear can’t be one of them (particularly if the US would drop it’s ridiculous limitations on breed reactor technology).

  11. Mark,

    Every form of renewable energy has tradeoffs and impact on the environment. I think modern nuclear technology makes the waste manageable enough for now, and in the future we’ll figure out some thing else to do with the waste.

  12. madge

    His science policy looks really good to me. Let’s make sure that he sticks to it! Or is that asking too much of a politician? :)

  13. Dirk Talamasca

    Absolutely marvelous. I would like to think that his statement on taking a leadership role in new energy technologies would be especially critical so that the country uses its tax dollars wisely. If there is any apprehension I feel towards funding such projects, it is that “Green” has such an emotional impact upon our citizens that it opens the door for charlatans or quacks that may tout their products or technologies as “Green”. We must be careful to attack this issue in the most appropriate way possible and do our homework to ensure that we do not end up creating a bigger problem than we already have.

  14. Cheyenne

    I’m pretty impressed with the Barack campaign’s statement on science policy. I think it heads in the right direction. I’m particularly pleased with what it says about nuclear power (it’s reliable, runs 24/7, and is the only thing that can make a big impact in a short to mid term time frame).

    But that said I’m interested to see what McCain thinks. He believes in global warming (despite when people try- very desperately in some cases- to claim he is the exact same as Bush) and stem cell research. I know he doesn’t “hate science” as some like to say. Guess we’ll have to wait and see what he says. But if I was going to bet I would predict he puts out as just a generic statement on science that Barack just did- and that it follows the same basic themes.

    But we’ll see. As BA says, it’s in McCain’s court now.

  15. Tim G

    The word, “nuclear” is the N-word of energy policy. Nuclear power’s risks have been distorted. I seem to recall one political ad for a referendum to close down a nuclear plant that claimed its waste would be deadly for a quarter of a million years. High level nuclear waste becomes less radioactive than uranium ore after one thousand years while the chemicals underneath my kitchen sink would continue to be hazardous.

  16. Cheyenne

    “science in the US is under the heaviest attack it’s suffered since Galileo’s time”…..hmmmm….not too sure about that one- for a couple of different reasons….

  17. Four years ago I took an environmental geology course froma crotchety old guy. He failed me for the final exam essay, a two page explanation of americas future energy directions. I championed the atom smashing, he was a coal man. I sat down and discussed it for an hour with him and pulled a 3.5 out of it. Todays nuclear power ain’t the same as your daddies nuclear power.

  18. @Cheyenne:

    “He believes in global warming”

    Well, even Bush believes in global warming. The question is, does he believe in anthropogenic global warming? You’re right, it’ll be interesting to see his answers, as hopefully we’ll understand what his position is on this topic.

    “I know he doesn’t “hate science” as some like to say.”

    You ‘know’? How?

    Frankly, I know very little about his positions on science because he hasn’t really stated a position. That said, his association with the republican party, and his sharp turn to the right in the last few years, doesn’t give me a lot of optimism.

    “But if I was going to bet I would predict he puts out as just a generic statement on science that Barack just did”

    Huh? How was Obama’s response “generic”? He *specifically* outlined various policy positions and actions he plans to take. Frankly, I find his response is remarkably detailed… what, exactly, were you expecting??

  19. Celtic_Evolution

    I sooooo want to believe that the words will actually lead to real policies and actions…

    Maybe I’m just jaded… must be reading too many of QD’s posts… ;^)

  20. LOL, I just wrote a blog about the general American lack of science knowledge in my local paper. Of course, I live in McCain/Fundyland, so I doubt it will have any appeal to them. As soon as I am able, I will transfer it to my personal blog and link in to this entry. Thanks!

  21. Brett,

    McCain’s positions are out there. I don’t think they veer that much different than Obama.

    And while I don’t think Obama’s answers are generic, they are not remarkably detailed. When I ask for details, I want to see some outlines of why his plan will have the desired results, and what unintended consequences there could be. I’d like to see this from McCain too.

  22. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Brett

    Well, even Bush believes in global warming. The question is, does he believe in anthropogenic global warming?

    Well… whom do you mean when you say “he”? If you mean Obama, well then his statement, “There can no longer be any doubt that human activities are influencing the global climate and we must react quickly and effectively” answers that pretty clearly. And if you mean Bush, I think his actions and policies, if not his statements, on the subject also pretty clearly give you that answer (in other words, it’s opposite of Obama’s take).

    By the way… I’m writing this post using Google Chrome, with built in spell-checking that underlines my many, many typos… WHEEEEEEE!

    To paraphrase the famous Red-Stripe beer commercial… it’s Google. Hoooraayyyy Google!

  23. > I suspect McCain’s campaign would do the same thing.

    I suspect McCain’s campaign would CLAIM to do the same thing then change positions the day after inauguration.

  24. @Celtic_Evolution Says:

    “Well… whom do you mean when you say “he”?”

    Sorry, I thought the line of conversation made that clear. By “he”, I meant McCain.

    “And if you mean Bush, I think his actions and policies, if not his statements, on the subject also pretty clearly give you that answer”

    Specifically regarding Bush, my understanding is that he, much like your average Republican, will admit that global warming itself is probably happening. But they will flat out deny that humans are responsible (this is the ‘anthropogenic part’), and in the case of Bush’s administration, will go so far as to censor science in order to ensure that view prevails.

    As such, I would be entirely unsurprised if this is the line McCain takes… ie, GW is happening, but it ain’t our fault. ‘course, until he responds, we won’t know for sure.

  25. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Brett

    Right… so I think we are pretty much in agreement…

  26. Metre

    Being a skeptic, pardon my skepticism. Where exactly is all this extra money that Obama talks about going to come from? Politicians routinely promise extra government funding to every constituency they deem important -and they rarely deliver. The fact is, increasing the science budget means cuts elsewhere or raising taxes. Obama can say what he wants, but I doubt he can or will deliver without raiding your wallet and mine.

  27. It really does look like you (Americans) finally have the candidate you need. It looks like a duck, it even quacks like a duck, it may even really be a duck for change. So what are you waiting for? Oh, I see November. Well vote in November then. Even if it does all go pear shaped for a President Obama how bad could he be? It couldn’t be as bad as the last 8 years could it.

    Totally OT but the stem cell thing reminded me, but what is the problem people have with cloning? Leaving aside religious reasons, what seems to be the issue? Doesn’t matter what side of politics you’re on it seems to be the only thing the everyone agrees on is the ban on human cloning. I don’t have a problem with twins and I don’t think the German people have been waiting for 60 years in expectation of a new Fuhrer either.

  28. David D

    @ Brett–

    You “know” he hates science? How? And you really think Obama writes all his own speeches?

    It’s hard for me to take these kind of position statements at face value; do you? Are you so swooned by Obama that you think he’s the 1st pol to come along and not BS the public?

  29. @ shane
    It’s ALL about religion. Most Christians aren’t the frothing loons that make the news. Most disagree with their positions when questioned. But they don’t bother to learn about the positions. They read a few headlines and base their positions on that. Everything they know about cloning they learned from Spiderman comics and bad sci-fi.
    Remember, 8 years ago a disturbingly large chunk of the population (which I suppose could be defined as more than none) thought that George Bush was quite literally Jesus returned.

  30. Todd W.

    @Ibid and shane

    It’s not all about religion. There are other concerns, as well: potential for genetic abnormalities/early death of the clone, potential for genetic diseases, decreased variety in the gene pool, potential (real or imagined) to create a “super race”, and so on.

  31. gopher65

    Errrm, FF has had a spell check for a looooong time now Celtic_Evolution.

  32. @David:

    “You “know” he hates science? ”

    Umm… no, I don’t, and I said as much. Please continue to practice your reading, it appears you’re a little rusty.

    “And you really think Obama writes all his own speeches?”

    It appears I’ve exaggerated a bit, here, based on the erroneous impressions I’ve received here and there (I freely admit this is a bad habit of mine that I’m constantly working to address). To answer your question, he does… sort of:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/84756

    Yes, he has written his own speeches in the past. Yes, he has a speechwriter now. However, it appears to be a heavily collaborative process, so while he does not necessary pen his speeches from start to finish, he most certainly does not simply parrot the words of someone else.

    ‘course, that may be representative of how *all* speechwriters work with their respective candidates, I honestly don’t know.

    “Are you so swooned by Obama that you think he’s the 1st pol to come along and not BS the public?”

    Not at all. He could be completely full of crap, just as George W. Bush was full of crap when he stated he would cross party lines and act to clean up Washington during his initial run for president. I honestly don’t know.

    That said, I don’t believe in blind, abject cynicism, as you apparently do. So I choose to believe that, while he says the right things, he’ll also endeavour to do the right things. That may be naive or overly optimistic, but I think that’s better than choosing to disconnect from politics under the presumption that all politicians are liars and nothing good will ever come from the process.

  33. MH

    Obama isn’t usually the sole author of his speeches, but he does have much more involvement in the writing process than most presidents. For sure he has a stronger claim on writing his own speeches than McCain or (oh dear lord) Bush.

    And in fact there was at least one speech he DID write 100% on his own – his speech on race back in March, which was the first time a president had sole authorship of a speech since Nixon.

    More info here:
    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1837368,00.html

  34. Sili

    Between 1958 and 1973, the National Aeronautics and Space Council oversaw the entire space arena for four presidents; the Council was briefly revived from 1989 to 1992

    Hmmm – Nixon and Clinton?

  35. stopgap

    “It really does look like you (Americans) finally have the candidate you need. It looks like a duck, it even quacks like a duck, it may even really be a duck for change.”

    No, we don’t have any good candidates running. I’m sorry but I don’t want a change to more government. That is not even change. That is more of the same.

  36. David

    “Wow! Can I vote for the person who actually composed Obama’s answers?”

    That is the most hilarious comment I have seen in a while!!!

    Too bad people. Hillary Clinton had similar science policies if not better AND she had the knowledge and qualifications/credentials to carry them out.
    It is all a moot point because as of today McCain is killing Obama in all the new polls.
    Michigan has become a battleground state with Obama leading by 1 with a margin of error of 4 points

    Hold on to your pants because we have FOUR long horrible years coming up before we elect Hillary for 8 years.
    Great job democrats!

  37. Lawrence

    People complain about the dangers of Nuclear power, but we haven’t built a new plant (with all of the latest & greatest safety features, including compartmentalized design, which limits the interactions between the different areas of the reactor – virtually eliminating the chances of a core accident) in decades. Reactors today would be substantially smaller, more efficient, but still cost billions of dollars to build (always a but in there somewhere).

    As far as money for all of this research – well, I can think of 50 – 70 billion dollars a year that are going to Iraq, that could be useful elsewhere. We also still have a Defense budget that is larger than the entire rest of the worlds’ combined – perhaps we could shave a billion or two off (two or three less joint strike fighters).

    And for the attack on science, if you look back over the last few centuries – you find large-scale religious revivals taking place in the first to second decades of each new century (1600s – the Pilgrims) (1700s, 1800s & 1900s – evangelical revivals) and the same is happening today – people are confused and scared by the changing pace of technology & its effect on the world around them. They ache for simpler times, simpler morals & tend to be very reactionary for about a decade before it simmers down.

    If we can get through the next several years ok, we should see this all kind of fade away again, at least until 2101.

  38. Ibid, those people are just as excited about Sarah Palin this year, unfortunately.

  39. Gazz

    I’m just amazed and appalled at how anyone, let alone a skeptic, can still give any credibility whatsoever to any promises made by any politician running for office, as if everyone completely forgets every 5 years how all the previous presidents have totally broken every one of their promises.

  40. Dan

    Phil,

    Can we get Obama’s answers to all the questions? I’d be interested in seeing the whole document.

    Thanks

  41. @brett: My guess is that he’ll be writing less of his own stuff (and having more of it vetted?) as things ramp up, for sheer lack of time, but I can’t imagine he won’t have his hands all over what he doesn’t write, he’ll be editing it and tweaking it and making it his own. But indeed, he’s famous for doing his own thinking and writing. Folks who studied law under him have spoken of how clearly it’s his own brain, as it’s so much like his teaching has been over the years.

  42. taypro

    It is, of course, wonderful to see Obama’s views on science grounded in reality. I hope some of these statements resonate with lawmakers (where it matters!)

    I’m also glad BA shared his comments! To be honest, I had already read (skimmed) through Obama’s statements a few days ago and missed the whole thing about nuclear energy. NUCLEAR ENERGY IS OUR FRIEND! I encourage people to educate themselves (and others!) about the technology and safety measures at work at this time.

  43. I have generally been very impressed with Obama, and this only confirms that he is the right person for our country at this time.

    As for McCain – I simply don’t trust him. And given that he put previously unknown Sarah “the Creationist” Palin on his ticket, who will only be half a heartbeat away from the highest office in the land, my distrust of him is growing by the day.

    I’m particularly interested in what the candidates say about space exploration because the US, in my opinion, has really been lacking in this field lately.

    Great blog, by the way! Keep up the good work!

  44. Todd W.

    @Dan

    Phil linked to the questions and answers in his post.

  45. as if everyone completely forgets every 5 years how all the previous presidents have totally broken every one of their promises.

    Like how they promise to serve 5 years, and then go and have another election after only 4 ;)

  46. Wendy

    Obama… Love him!!!!!!!!! Vote for him!!!!!!!!! Cast a vote for me!!!!!! (I wish us Canadians could vote in your elections. It’s not like your gov’t doesn’t affect things up here too…)

  47. Byron: “McCain despises science. It teaches critical thinking, it teaches individuality…”

    Obama and his liberal cohorts are the very antithesis of critical thinking. Just look at their recent attempts to censor critical views. And their blackballing anyone who even thinks about questioning AGW.

    The left-leaning socialist mindset cannot tolerate critical thinking, because even a little bit of it puts their agenda in jeopardy.

    Brett: “After all, it’s Obama who writes all of Obama’s speeches …” Nice try. If only it were so. Check this out:

    What would Obama say?

    “Mr. Favreau, the campaign’s 26-year-old head speechwriter, found himself in the hotel lounge with less than three hours to revise what was to have been a victory speech.
    . . .
    … he leads a team of two other young speechwriters: 26-year-old Adam Frankel, who worked with John F. Kennedy’s adviser and speechwriter Theodore C. Sorensen on his memoirs, and Ben Rhodes, who, at 30, calls himself the “elder statesman” of the group…
    . . .
    Mr. Favreau also used this time to master Mr. Obama’s voice. He took down almost everything the senator said and absorbed it. Now, he said, when he sits down to write, he just channels Mr. Obama — his ideas, his sentences, his phrases.”

    Now we know where Obama’s brilliant oratory comes from.

    So much for “Obama, the modern-day Cicero”.

    “He believes in global warming …” You “believe” in things that you have no evidence for. I don’t “believe” in Newton’s laws, and I don’t “believe” in the Theory of Relativity. I know they’re all fact, proven over and over by experimental evidence and sound mathematical physics. And I certainly do not “believe” in AGW, because I know there are insufficient facts to back it up.

    Metre: ” Where exactly is all this extra money that Obama talks about going to come from?” Anybody that thinks science isn’t going to take a back seat to the massive social programs (aka “wealth redistribution”) that Obama’s troops ared going to railroad through Congress is living in Wonderland. Does anybody really think that the Obama/Pelosi/Reid faction is going to happily allocate a few billion dollards to the Large Hadron Collider? Especially with their enviro-buddies (and even a few scientists) claiming that it’ll open up a big ol’ black hole and swallow up the Earth? Are those the guys you really want to point to as exemplars of a science-literate populace?

    Stopgap: “No, we don’t have any good candidates running.” I tend to agree there. But I’ll still vote for the guy who served his country rather than the guy who served himself. And Gov. Palin is the brightest light we’ve seen on the national political scene since … well, JFK comes close.

  48. JohnW

    As such, I would be entirely unsurprised if this is the line McCain takes… ie, GW is happening, but it ain’t our fault. ‘course, until he responds, we won’t know for sure.

    McCain actually sponsored anti-GW legislation with Lieberman. It didn’t pass:
    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/02/13/the_turning_point_on_global_warming/

    Unlike the other guy, there’s actually a record to reference to find out what he believes.

  49. I agree Wendy that is the only thing stopping me from voting for Obama too.

    on the other hand we have our own election coming up, I wonder if our candidates would answer this survey too

  50. This is good to read…I hope he is not making empty promises…I believe he is intelligent enough to do what is right…I support him all the way from Nigeria…I hop we could have someone better that Obama has our president in the nearest future…

    http://www.spiritofjesus.blogspot.com
    http://www.lnsbizsolutions.blogspot.com
    http://www.naijapatriots.ning.com

  51. Todd W.

    @Wendy and Truenorth

    You guys should just become part of the U.S. I mean, other than your currency and a few French-speaking revolutionaries, you’re basically us anyway. Not to mention that Gov. Palin already seems to consider Canada a part of the U.S., seeing as her “foreign affairs” experience only focuses on Russia. ;) j/k

  52. John

    Pure awesomeness on the part of Obama.

  53. Since it’s been mentioned peripherally, I just want to make a note about the upcoming Canadian election.

    Stephen Harper KNOWS full well that if Obama were to get elected in the U.S., then the conservative party would quickly loose its support (as with many things Canadian, our political culture tends to ride in whatever wake is created in the US). So it’s smart of Harper to call this election before november. Somewhat coniving and sinister (as is his m.o.), but smart.

  54. Thomas Siefert

    I just came back from New York, if the toilet graffiti is anything to go by your next president will be Obama :-)

  55. Quiet Desperation

    Maybe I’m just jaded… must be reading too many of QD’s posts… ;^)

    Fear not, young padiwan. Skepticism against politics is even *more* important than skepticism against religion. The mythologies and iconographies of ideology are far more insidious and seductive.

  56. Quiet Desperation

    I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic, but just in case… in all probability, it was Obama who wrote Obama’s answers.

    Yeah, good luck with that probability thing.

    After all, it’s Obama who writes all of Obama’s speeches

    That would be news to Jon Favreau.

    so I see no reason to believe this is any different.

    Hey, *someone* around here has to maintain a level skepticism when the blog waxes political.

  57. Cheyenne

    Yeah, the toilet graffiti might end up being more predictive, but for anybody else that is interested in this election check out the latest national and battleground polls that have come out today. Wow.

    If Obama doesn’t want to become the next Dukakis he better get on the ball. His grassroots supporters too.

  58. JohnW

    I think my comment got eated, so I’ll edit it and repost (sorry if it turns out to be a double!):

    As such, I would be entirely unsurprised if this is the line McCain takes… ie, GW is happening, but it ain’t our fault. ‘course, until he responds, we won’t know for sure.

    McCain actually sponsored anti-GW legislation with Lieberman. It didn’t pass:
    google McCain-Lieberman

    Unlike the other guy, there’s actually a record to reference to find out what he believes.

  59. Mikel

    Now, if you go over the eventual McCain comments in the same manner you have just done to the ones of Obama, I will be impressed…

  60. Chip

    Obama all the way. Obama is big on applied science.
    Biden too is big on science and education.

    On teaching intelligent design-creationism in schools, (encouraged by Palen,) Biden said:
    “We don’t have to go down this road. I refuse to believe the majority of people believe this malarkey!”

    Biden said: “Barack and I have a bill to make sure that every automobile made or sold in the United States has to be a flex- fuel automobile…”

    (This prompted McCain to include mention of “flex fuel automobiles” in his acceptance speech, though he stumbled over the words and clearly shrugged afterwards not really knowing what they were.)

    Biden supports expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 (S. 5).

  61. David D.

    @Brett–
    I stand corrected; should have read the comments more closely, although it does seem that perhaps you do believe that McCain is anti-science. It is a stereotypical view, well supported by opinion, not necessarily backed up by ALL OF THE FACTS. Not publicly funding various areas of research is not the same as censorship.

    I don’t find Obama’s answers to be particularly specfic, like this:
    “I recently introduced the “Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Act of 2008″ that would establish a STEM Education Committee within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies engaged in STEM education, consolidate the STEM education initiatives that exist within the Department of Education under the direction of an Office of STEM Education, and create a State Consortium for STEM Education.”

    Sound more like bureaucratese to me. His answer on adult stem cells seems a little dated in light of some of the most recent research findings. ANd I’m pretty sure that the US has actually done better than many Kyoto signatories in reducing greenhouse gases already. I do applaud his idea of growing the economy while simultaneously reducing emissions. He seems to be a late-comer to the nuclear fold.

    I’m not a single issue kind of guy, and while a politician’s ideas on science are important to me, there are a lot of other things I consider in addition.

  62. CogitoRgo

    Metre puts his finger right on it! Where will the money come from? Do people think the criticism of Obama’s “no specifics” is about the details of his plan? Anyone can formulate the specifics a plan. But, as they say in The Right Stuff: “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.” Sorry, Phil, but the pundits are correct here…he gives no specifics–he can’t, it would make him unelectable.

  63. Dave Hall

    Sili Says:
    Between 1958 and 1973, the National Aeronautics and Space Council oversaw the entire space arena for four presidents; the Council was briefly revived from 1989 to 1992
    Hmmm – Nixon and Clinton?

    Not Quite Nixon killed it before he fled the White House, and George H W Bush killed it again before his one term was up.

    QD: Did it ever occur to you that even it someone else wrote the speeches, the bottom line is that the Presidents (or candidates in this case) approve of and agree with the material of their speeches?

    I can only think of one President who was likely to deliver speeches without questioning their content and that was Ronald Reagan–especially in the last couple of years in office.

    “Hey, *someone* around here has to maintain a level skepticism when the blog waxes political”

    Agreed–as long as we remember there is a difference between Sceptic and Curmudgeon.

  64. tacitus

    Let’s just get everything into perspective regarding the polls. Obama got a convention bounce — he was ahead by nearly 10 points in some polls a week ago. McCain just got a convention bounce and now he’s tie or slightly ahead. That’s what a week in the limelight and free T.V. coverage will get you.

    They are called “bounces” for a reason. You cannot judge the reality of the election race on the day the bounce is measured. We still have two months of campaigning, four debates, and more gaffes to come — and the GOP’s new celebrity and superstar (remember how that was supposed to be a bad thing, oh, two weeks ago?) will eventually have to come out of hiding and start facing some tough questions.

  65. Todd W.

    In terms of specifics in policy statements, Sen. Obama has generally been somewhat more specific than Sen. McCain. Neither one really touches on where the money for these programs is going to come from, but then again, as CogitoRgo says, to do so would make them unelectable.

    On the other hand, Sen. McCain is doing a far better job playing on the emotions of the public than Sen. Obama, and he has been running more ads. Just yesterday, I saw the same ad for McCain about a half dozen times, and not a single one for Obama. Furthermore, the ad made good use of imagery and color to associate Obama with the Roman Empire (I think that was what the pillar in the background was), and despotism/Communism (through color and stylization). At the very end, McCain’s face is shown with blue skies and a slight sunlight effect from above and behind, giving him something of a halo. The verbal message is the typical “Democrats are a tax and spend group that you don’t want” that Republicans seem to always use.

    All in all, voting is typically won by emotion, not by reason.

  66. Dave Hall

    Er–even _it_ someone else wrote the speeches IF

    Skeptic–danged Freudian slip typos!

  67. Quiet Desperation

    QD: Did it ever occur to you that even it someone else wrote the speeches, the bottom line is that the Presidents (or candidates in this case) approve of and agree with the material of their speeches?

    Yes.

    I was merely pointing out that Obama does, in fact, have speechwriters. Nothing more.

    Agreed–as long as we remember there is a difference between Sceptic and Curmudgeon.

    It’s a thin line when it comes to politics. :-)

  68. Quiet Desperation

    Skeptic–danged Freudian slip typos!

    Oh. I just assumed from “sceptic” you were in England.

  69. Dave

    David Says wrote: “It is all a moot point because as of today McCain is killing Obama in all the new polls. ”

    You know, this kind of statement has always annoyed me because it doesn’t take into consideration the electoral college, which is what really matters. If you take the electoral votes into consideration, the polls still have Obama in the lead by a wide margin. (301 to 224, 227 votes needed to win) See http://electoral-vote.com/

    The elections futures markets are showing similar results (http://electoralmap.net).

    Of course it is still early and things could change…

  70. Celtic_Evolution

    @ gopher65

    Errrm, FF has had a spell check for a looooong time now Celtic_Evolution.

    Yeah… well, I know this will cause some of you to go into convulsions, but I don’t like FF. :/

  71. Celtic_Evolution

    @ QD

    Fear not, young padiwan. Skepticism against politics is even *more* important than skepticism against religion. The mythologies and iconographies of ideology are far more insidious and seductive.

    Well… I just said it was making me jaded… I didn’t say that was a bad thing necessarily, oh wise one.

  72. Tim G said,

    The word, “nuclear” is the N-word of energy policy.

    You get ten points for rhetorical flourish. Enjoy.

  73. Brother Jerry

    I can only see one when Obama talks….my taxes going through the roof.
    He talks alot of programs and fun entitlements and grants and goverment funding this and that….but no where does he let you know how he is going to pay for it.

    I can tell you one area he will get the money from. Defense spending. If you thought Clinton was bad at cutting defense….oh wait if you support Obama then you also thought Clinton was great too. BO will be raping our military as far as troops, funding, development, everything. And I do not know if you realize this or not…but there is a great deal of money in the space program as well as the innovation market that is driven by the defense sector…dry that up and you will dry up a lot of other development.

  74. Dave Hall

    Quiet Desperation Says:

    Agreed–as long as we remember there is a difference between Sceptic and Curmudgeon.
    “It’s a thin line when it comes to politics.”

    On that, we are most firmly agreed! Take No Prisoners!

    “Oh. I just assumed from “sceptic” you were in England.” :) Actually, I am in Spokane and am contemplating the need to have my sceptic tank pumped out. The only question is: wait until the elections and risk overflow–or do it now and expect a rapid refill?

  75. Dave Hall

    Brother Jerry Says:
    I can only see one when Obama talks….my taxes going through the roof.
    He talks alot of programs and fun entitlements and grants and goverment funding this and that….but no where does he let you know how he is going to pay for it.

    Maybe he will take a hint from the last eight years and use the White House Credit Card.

  76. @Brother Jerry:

    Actually, he’s mentioned in the past that he plans to increase corporate taxes, close loopholes, etc. That’s not to say that he explains where all the money is coming from, but he’s made it clear that he plans to cut taxes for the middle/lower class households while increasing taxes for the rich and corporations (a policy that makes perfect sense to this evil leftish socialist :) .

    As for cutting defense… well, it’s a matter of opinion, but it strikes me that the US already spends *way* too much on defense, and would do well to cut down on invasions so that it could better use the money for domestic purposes. *shrug*

    As a side note, I can only assume you regularly levy those same criticisms against the neocons that have recently been in power and have ballooned the national deficit and debt to previously unseen heights. I mean, it’d be pretty nasty partisan hackery to complain about “tax-and-spend” liberals when the country is currently being run by “cut-taxes-and-spend” neocons.

  77. Dave Hall

    Brother Jerry Says:

    I can tell you one area he will get the money from. Defense spending. If you thought Clinton was bad at cutting defense….

    Here is a thought for you: Clinton was in for eight years, all of which time, he faced opposition from a Congress bent on finding grounds for impeachment.

    He did NOT single-handedly cut defense spending.

    He could not without the aiding and abetting of the Republicans in the Senate and the House.
    It was a win-win situation for them. If the defense cuts proved beneficial and successful, they could claim credit. If it proved a disaster as it did, they had someone to blame. And they had the extra benefit of closing bases and cutting defense dollars in Democrat-controlled states like California.

  78. David

    We have to remember that Obama has had a very very long time to come out with policies. Mostly it was a response to Hillary Clinton. He didn’t have any major policy proposals until she came out with them first (healthcare, economy, and a couple more)
    McCain has not been responding to an opponent for the same amount of time as Obama has.
    McCain said:
    “Limit carbon emissions by harnessing market forces that will bring advanced technologies, such as nuclear energy, to the market faster, reduce our dependence on foreign supplies of energy, and see to it that America leads in a way that ensures all nations do their rightful share.”

    I think he will be good for science policy and MOST importantly he will be able to deliver. Obama will not do 10% of the things he says. Yes change takes time but it also takes experience and KNOWLEDGE.
    McCain believes in global warming! For a republican let us give credit where credit is due.

  79. tacitus

    Let’s try another dose of reality (though it never seems to help):

    WASHINGTON (AP) – Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress. The study by the Government Accountability Office, expected to be released Tuesday, said about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.

    Collectively, the companies reported trillions of dollars in sales, according to GAO’s estimate.

    More than 38,000 foreign corporations had no tax liability in 2005 and 1.2 million U.S. companies paid no income tax, the GAO said. Combined, the companies had $2.5 trillion in sales. About 25 percent of the U.S. corporations not paying corporate taxes were considered large corporations, meaning they had at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in receipts.

    Get that? Two thirds of all corporations operating in the US did not pay a dime in federal taxes in the seven years of the study (and nothing has changed in the past three years). The reason, corporations have become masters at exploiting the loopholes in the tax laws to avoid paying anything.

    Closing loopholes would certainly bring in plenty of revenue, not to mention the colossal savings from ending the war in Iraq. The ending of Bush’s tax breaks for rich will also bring in billions more.

    And even if you don’t believe Obama, are you sure that McCain is any better? McCain plan to balance the budget by cutting pork barrel spending (while making the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent) has been ridiculed by economists of all political stripes. Even if he managed to cut *all* pork from the budget (yeah, right, we all believe he would do that) it would not even begin to pay for the tax cuts he is proposing, and I haven’t exactly seen him promising to cut other government programs either.

    Once again, for the umpteenth time, the US economy has done *better* on average under Democratic presidents in the past several decades. Americans have by far the lowest tax rates of just about any democracy on Earth (about 20% over all income brackets, yes, even the very rich) and will continue to do so whether Obama or McCain take office. (Of course, as a result, Americans pay up to *four* times is much for their health care than other western democracies) so the savings on taxes is pretty much a mirage anyway.

    I know it’s hard to digest facts when political pablum is much easier to swallow, but sometimes it’s well worth the effort.

    Oh, and regarding military spending. How many trillions in new missiles and fighter aircraft do you need to fight a bunch of terrorist thugs who hide away in caves in friendly nations or among us in this country. We need smarter defense, not more expensive defense. Simply throwing dollars at a problem doesn’t make it go away.

  80. JohnW

    Maybe he will take a hint from the last eight years and use the White House Credit Card.

    Heh. It’s funny (sad!) cause it’s true.

    Actually, he’s mentioned in the past that he plans to increase corporate taxes, close loopholes, etc. That’s not to say that he explains where all the money is coming from, but he’s made it clear that he plans to cut taxes for the middle/lower class households while increasing taxes for the rich and corporations (a policy that makes perfect sense to this evil leftish socialist :) .

    Makes no sense to me. He complains about our jobs going overseas, yet he wants to increase our already sky-high corporate tax rates.

    it’d be pretty nasty partisan hackery to complain about “tax-and-spend” liberals when the country is currently being run by “cut-taxes-and-spend” neocons.

    I’m not Brother Jerry, but this is very true. Which is why I’m voting for the budget-hawk/ anti-earmark/ reformer ticket, McCain-Palin! (And I approve this message!)

  81. JohnW

    Once again, for the umpteenth time, the US economy has done *better* on average under Democratic presidents in the past several decades.

    There are 2 fatal flaws with this argument, tacitus:
    1) Reagan had to fix the severely broken economy he inherited from Carter. And
    2) Clinton ran and governed as an economic moderate/conservative. New Democrat, DLC, etc.

    Which Obama – and, come to think of it, every other Democrat presidential candidate since Carter – shows no signs of doing.

  82. David D.

    Actually, nearly every politician says they will cut taxes for the little folks, and increase it for the rich and evil corporations. Certainly makes perfect sense to some folks, but not to a lot of people (the soak the rich part). And whether it works in actual practice . . .

    As far as spending*way* too much on defense: even given our activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense spending as % of GDP is below the 45 year historical average, and far below even Vietnam/ColdWar levels. And yes I am aware of the supplementary spending bills that largely fund current military actions; even counting this it is still a relatively small percentage.

  83. @JohnW:

    “Makes no sense to me. He complains about our jobs going overseas, yet he wants to increase our already sky-high corporate tax rates.”

    See tacitus’s post. While, on the books, corporate tax rates look high, the reality is they’re really really not.

    “Which is why I’m voting for the budget-hawk/ anti-earmark/ reformer ticket, McCain-Palin!”

    I’m sorry, which McCain? I mean, I remember reformer McCain… a few years back everyone was calling him a maverick, and rightly so. But I’m pretty sure that reformer McCain was killed and buried by candidate McCain. You know the one: the guy who’s moved steadily to the right, even pandering to the likes of hatemongers like Jerry Falwell, all to secure the Republican ticket. The one who, for the last few years, has toed the party line with Bush, opposing many of the very proposals maverick McCain introduced.

    Honestly, as much as you distrust Obama, I can’t fathom how you can believe a word that comes out of candidate McCain’s mouth these days. Either you have to believe he’s just pandering to the base in order to get elected, lying all-the-while, or he’s done a complete 180 on many of his own policies. Neither is a good thing, at least in my mind.

  84. @David D:

    “As far as spending*way* too much on defense: even given our activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense spending as % of GDP is below the 45 year historical average, and far below even Vietnam/ColdWar levels.”

    I’m not sure what your point is. A percentage of a disgusting amount of money can still be a disgusting amount of money.

  85. Mitch Miller

    “Right now, science in the US is under the heaviest attack it’s suffered since Galileo’s time”

    Wow, this ridiculous statement hurts an otherwise solid argument. We had the Salem Witch trials, Scopes Monkey trial (in which a state had a law making teaching evolution in public schools illegal) and more recently the rise of Uri Geller. Sure it is important to stamp out anti-science, but making exaggerations of this magnitude is not going to help.

  86. tacitus

    There are 2 fatal flaws with this argument, tacitus:
    1) Reagan had to fix the severely broken economy he inherited from Carter. And
    2) Clinton ran and governed as an economic moderate/conservative. New Democrat, DLC, etc.

    There is one fatal flaw if your counterargument. You deliberately ignored those two little words — “on average”. You can always focus on one presidency to find an outlier. For every Reagan inheriting a bad economy, there’s a Bush II inheriting a great one. And again, you repeat the myth that Obama will somehow be outside the mainstream of Democratic presidencies. Go back and read the stump speeches and policies of Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton — better healthcare, social security, minimum wage, progressive income taxes, and so. By that measure, there is nothing in Obama’s policy documents that indicates he is anything but an economic moderate. Indeed, in places like Canada, Australia, the UK, Scandinavia, Germany, etc. etc. he’d probably be running as a moderate conservative.

  87. David D.

    @tacitus
    “I know it’s hard to digest facts when political pablum is much easier to swallow, but sometimes it’s well worth the effort.”

    Try reading these facts about corporate taxes. Or is it worth your effort?

    Glad you sent your tax rebate back to the government. You did send it back, right?

  88. Todd W.

    I find it interesting that Reagan’s economics are used as an argument in favor of Republicans. The man was in office for 8 years, and he ran up the deficit to numbers only surpassed, I believe (admittedly, I’m not a historian), by the current Pres. Bush.

    As for the anti-earmark ticket of McCain/Palin, umm, are we talking the same Palin that hired people to lobby for earmarks for a certain bridge, flip-flopped on it once Congress killed further funding of it and it became a public disgrace, and did not exactly return the earmark money that Alaska had already received for the project back to the Feds?

  89. Daffy

    Todd,

    Reagan also DRASTICALLY raised taxes on the middle class…something diehard Republicans refuse to believe, even if you show them the numbers. The false image of Reagan as a middle class tax cutter is just too ingrained.

  90. Celtic_Evolution

    Glad you sent your tax rebate back to the government. You did send it back, right?

    Gee, David D… I didn’t realize that was even a real option. Or was that just a snarky remark devoid of any real substance?

  91. David D.

    Why wouldn’t it have been an option?

    Like I’m the ONLY commenter here practicing snarkism. . .

  92. Todd W.

    Pre-primary McCain wasn’t all that bad. But once he started campaigning, he began a slide into pandering to the woo crowd that did not sit well with me. Then his pick of Palin rubbed me the wrong way (not that I would’ve been comfortable with any of the others on the “short list”, either). Now, she might be okay as a VP, but I seriously would not want her as a President, and, looking at our track record of Presidents of advanced years, it doesn’t look good. McCain is older than any previous one, and of the next two oldest, one declined into Alzheimer’s and the other died of pneumonia (granted, this was in a time of poorer medical care).

  93. JohnW

    David D. – How, oh how did I know there would be a good debunking of this bunk out there?

    Even in good times, there are plenty of losers in a dynamic economy. The BLS’ Business Dynamics Survey, for instance, shows that in 2005 there were 7.3 businesses that were contracting for every 7.6 that were expanding, including 1.3 that were closing their doors for every 1.5 that were starting up. Large businesses were hardly immune to this kind of tumult. For every 5.8 jobs added by firms with more than 500 employees, other firms that big eliminated 4.9 jobs. Among those hit hard in 2005 was General Motors, which despite $193 billion in revenues wracked up a $10.4 billion loss and cut its workforce.

    Pretty much says it all. I’d like to see some numbers on the overall percentage of government revenue contributed by the business income tax, but can’t be arsed to look it up right now.

  94. JohnW

    But I’m pretty sure that reformer McCain was killed and buried by candidate McCain. You know the one: the guy who’s moved steadily to the right, even pandering to the likes of hatemongers like Jerry Falwell, all to secure the Republican ticket. The one who, for the last few years, has toed the party line with Bush, opposing many of the very proposals maverick McCain introduced.

    What principles did he abandon exactly? I know he changed his mind on the Bush tax cuts – which, apparently, Obama has now, too – and on offshore drilling. The facts change, positions change, nothing unprincipled about that. He’s also determined to secure the borders before going ahead with a guest worker program, which is pretty much a political decision. Don’t see how he had much choice there, since the public consensus was overwhelmingly against him. Bush was in favor of this, too – is that what you mean by toeing the party line?

  95. JohnW

    You deliberately ignored those two little words — “on average”. You can always focus on one presidency to find an outlier. For every Reagan inheriting a bad economy, there’s a Bush II inheriting a great one.

    That’s because “on average” makes a pretty lousy and simplistic argument without going into policiy specifics. Clinton was no outlier – he did a good job with a healthy economy. That’s why, on average, his economy did better than Reagan’s – he didn’t have the massive systemic problems to fix that Reagan did. Stagflation, ridiculously high marginal tax rates, the need for expensive hardware to win the Cold War, etc. Specifically, Reagan was better, and Clinton adopted many of his policies.

    But Bush II did not inherit a great economy, the economy was in recession in 2001 when he took office.

    Reagan also DRASTICALLY raised taxes on the middle class…something diehard Republicans refuse to believe, even if you show them the numbers. The false image of Reagan as a middle class tax cutter is just too ingrained.

    Please, show us the numbers.

  96. Grand Lunar

    I do hope Obama delivers on his statements.

    I know the stem cell issue may get him in hot water with not-so-reality based opinions held by my family and their church community.
    Well, that’s their view. I’ll hold on to mine; we need this research.

    I’m also hopeful for new nuclear power stations. Technology has changed greatly since the days of Three Mile Island. And the US has never had anything like Chernobyl.
    Being in the US Navy, I know that with the right tech and the right procedures and the right people, that nuclear power can serve us well.
    I don’t mean to sound like a cheesy 1950s promotion for nuclear power, mind you. It’s just that with today’s situation, nuke power is the only availabe, large scale power source we have.

    I hope that new research can give us fusion power, though. That’ll be even better.

  97. Chris A.

    It is my fondest wish that Obama sets the record for the fastest appointment of a National Science Advisor since the creation of the post, unlike his predecessor who set the record for taking the longest. It speaks volumes.

  98. Celtic_Evolution

    Why wouldn’t it have been an option?

    OK… tell me how that would have been possible… what would I need to do to send that check back to the government and tell them “no thanks”, and have them receive it and put it back into the “deficit fund”. How does that work, exactly… I’d like to know that process… is there a form I fill out?

    Like I’m the ONLY commenter here practicing snarkism. . .

    Nope… but so far the only one trying to make a sarcastic point using a distinct impossibility as if it were an obvious alternative.

  99. Quiet Desperation

    The man was in office for 8 years, and he ran up the deficit to numbers only surpassed,

    Congress passes spending bills. Reagan was complicit in not vetoing them, but Congress spends the money. Same with Bush #2. The only thing he vetoed after years was stem cell research.

    Meh… I’m voting Spongebob for President.

  100. Quiet Desperation

    Well… I just said it was making me jaded… I didn’t say that was a bad thing necessarily, oh wise one.

    Exactly, padiwan. Jaded is the true enlightened state in this day and age. :-)

    If Obama really really pushes nuclear, though, it’ll almost be worth it. I just hope he doesn’t rape and murder my attempted early retirement too badly.

  101. Todd W.

    @QD

    True. Thanks for reminding me. The President does, however, have a big hand in determining the budget.

  102. Samu

    I <3 Obama.

    I <3 <3 <3 Phil (that first paragraph just brings a tear to my eye).

    Need I say more?

  103. thegiantsnail

    Good luck getting McCain to release details on anything he plans to do.

    Take a look at Project Lexington: http://www.johnmccain.com//Informing/Issues/17671aa4-2fe8-4008-859f-0ef1468e96f4.htm

    This is about the shallowest display of policy you could possibly have. “John McCain believes” appears nine times, usually preceding a vague statement about something he can’t really promise, for instance “John McCain Believes That The U.S. Must Become A Leader In A New International Green Economy. ”

    It’s been drilled into everyone’s mind by the media that Obama is the candidate of empty words and no plans. I’m doing my small part to put a stop to this. McCain’s web page is skin deep, no links to actual policy. Project Lexington is about 2000 words long. Obama’s rundown on energy here:
    http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/factsheet_energy_speech_080308.pdf
    is about 4500 words long. and contains “Obama believes” only five times.

    Just the facts, folks.

  104. jasonB

    David/Celtic

    I sent mine back. To pay part of my quarterly taxes!

  105. Celtic_Evolution

    Clever, jasonB… However, ultimately that’s still paying yourself.

  106. kuhnigget

    @ Mitch Miller:

    The Salem witch trials (before there was a U.S.), and the Scopes Monkey Trial pale in comparison to the politicization of science the Bush administration has championed. The BA’s assessment, while obviously a bit over the top, is pretty accurate.

    The damage done to the way scientific research is viewed by non-scientists in positions of power will be felt for decades…assuming this policy changes. While I have hopes for Obama, I fear like all things in politics, once the proverbial cat is out of the bag it’s damned hard to get the critter back in.

  107. David D.

    Typical political thread–starts out on topic talking about the candidate’s opinions on science, and now devolves into an argument about a tax rebate, and who’s snarkier and more sarcastic.

    Whodathunkit.
    :)

  108. @JohnW:

    ROFL, you want flipflops? Alright, here’s a list:

    http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/flipflops

    I’m sure you’ll find rationalizations or excuses for all of them (judging by your willingness to ignore his reversals on the Bush taxcuts, not to mention the very border security bill he proposed), but hey, maybe others here will find it amusing.

  109. Celtic_Evolution

    Interesting point, David D…

    just don’t forget the part you played in the very point you just made…

  110. David D.
  111. a lurker

    I strongly suspect that one of the important science and science education decisions the next president makes will be who to nominate to the Supreme Court of the United States. And I am not just thinking about the creationists getting their legal foot back into the education door. The courts can screw sound science policy in many ways. That alone is good reason to go with Obama instead of McCain. Another important thing that can be asked for for a candidate would simply to respect scientific expertise and not politicize and/or rig scientific advisory panels. In that aspect either Obama or McCain would be a huge improvement over Bush. Obama has said the right things here and I doubt McCain would say much differently. Whether they would live up to that in practice, there is only one way to find out.

  112. Quiet Desperation

    Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress.

    The actual report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08957.pdf

    See Table 1, page 23, lower right corner. 25.2% of large corporations paid no taxes in 2005. The rest to the left are increasingly smaller businesses operating on slim to no profit margins. This is business. This is real economics. It’s hard to turn a decent profit. Look how long Amazon took to get into the black despite it becoming a household name years earlier, and everyone and his grandmother was “ordering it off of Amazon.”

    85% of those that didn’t pay taxes didn’t do so for the simple reason of having no income. They lost money. Taxes are on profits.

    Like JohnW posted above, the sneaky tax dodge of, say, General Motors, was to lose $10 billion in 2005. Wow! A real conspiracy of the rich going on there!

    And this, folks, is why I rail against ideology and “preach” skepticism on all political stories. It’s more insidious than religion because it bandies about numbers and alleged facts and can sound so reasonable. The 2/3 number wasn’t even technically a lie, but they left information out to give the impression of lots of big corporations getting off with tax free profits.

    You HAVE GOT to look past the news stories to the real numbers. If a story sounds out of kilter, it is. If it firmly fits the bill of “what I’ve always expected”, then you there’s even MORE reason to investigate further. Comfortable news is the most dangerous.

    Closing loopholes would certainly bring in plenty of revenue,

    What loopholes? You mean deducting expenses? I know several people running small businesses. They are successful, but their margins are thin, and every dime of profit goes back into the business. If you take away their “loopholes”, they are out of business. Period. And then you get no revenue from them or their laid off employees.

    We really need to start teaching hard core economics in grade school.

  113. Breeder reactors are nifty. I wanted to study nuclear physics after graduating from high school (didn’t actually go for a half-dozen years, and then when I did, it was computer science). Then again, I wanted to be a nuclear power plant jumper, too. And I’m very aware of the end-product issue as well (which is why some breeder reactors are extra nifty), and though it’s at the other end of the state and a long ways away, Yucca Mountain is still in the state I call home.

    @Lawrence “If we can get through the next several years ok, we should see this all kind of fade away again, at least until 2101.” Or 2100 for that ilk. . . :-/

    P.S. I lived in Anchorage for 18 years and I knew of Sarah Palin at the time; I’m trying very hard not to objectify her (but I’ll willingly object to her). I left the state before she ran for governor.

  114. Luke

    To say the debate on global warming is over is just like saying the debate on general relativity is over. As a person who is studying geology I can say that the earth has been much much hotter and much much colder than it is now and it was still able to support life. The earth and life has survived at least 5 mass extinctions, so a mean rise of 1 degree Celsius over a 100 year period (of which is the start of the coming out of a mini ice age)

    As for alternative energy I support T Boone Pickens. We need to drill in ANWR ( it would be 2,000 acres of of millions and it is basically a swampy shelf) drill off shore, drill our oil shale, drill for natural gas and mine for coal. We have come to the point where the biggest threat of oil is from shipping it over seas not mining it. With it in our borders the threat is basically nill.

    When we are doing this we need to build 1,000s of wind farms in the great planes, solar panels in the desert southwest, and build many more nuclear power plants. The problem with this is PETA is opposed to solar and wind farms, and some groups are against nuclear power. It is the far left that needs to come together and not stop these alternative energies from being used.

  115. Quiet Desperation

    @Luke: I have a similar attitude. We must do it ALL. Our energy needs are not an either-or situation. We need oil for now and other things for the mid and long term.

    I believe the current thought on oil shales is to somehow extract the oil in place (thermally, perhaps) and pump it like a normal oil deposit. The main expense of shales now is that it has to be *mined* like an ore.

    In the Green River shales alone there might be three times the Saudi Arabian reserves of extractable oil.

    And what happened to the big find in the Gulf Of Mexico? It made the news last year and then vanished.

  116. Dave Hall

    Quiet Desperation Says:

    Congress passes spending bills. Reagan was complicit in not vetoing them, but Congress spends the money.

    Reagan was not merely complicit: The White House actively participated in creating the spending bills he signed. There was plenty of feed back Reagan’s side. Remember his promoting that goofy Star Wars SDI stuff?

    Same with Bush #2. The only thing he vetoed after years was stem cell research.

    Why was that? Because with a neocon majority, Congress marched lockstep with his every command. And IF by chance they passed something Dubya didn’t want he signed it including a “signing satement’ which in effect said: I’ll sign it into law, but it will not apply to my anministration.
    Cute cheat, huh?

    Meh… I’m voting Spongebob for President.

    OK by me, but ONLY if Patrick runs for Veep.

  117. Dave Hall

    Quiet Desperation Says:

    Congress passes spending bills. Reagan was complicit in not vetoing them, but Congress spends the money.

    Reagan was not merely complicit: The White House actively participated in creating the spending bills he signed. There was plenty of feed back Reagan’s side. Remember his promoting that goofy Star Wars SDI stuff?

    Same with Bush #2. The only thing he vetoed after years was stem cell research.

    Why was that? Because with a neocon majority, Congress marched lockstep with his every command. And IF by chance they passed something Dubya didn’t want he signed it including a “signing satement’ which in effect said: I’ll sign it into law, but it will not apply to my administration.
    Cute cheat, huh?

    Meh… I’m voting Spongebob for President.

    OK by me, but ONLY if Patrick runs for Veep.

  118. Frank

    Nuclear power is just another exhaustible energy source. Fine for the short to medium term, but in the long term some sort of solar or wind power has to be the goal. I can’t see ocean-powered solutions to the corrosiveness of the sea, nor barnacles. Just ask anyone that owns a boat.

  119. md-mbe

    Radioactive materials are decaying constantly the world over, so what’s the problem with strapping them to a power plant?

    Anyway, Phil, do you plan to do the same summary when McCain gets around to releasing his responses?

  120. JohnW

    Brett: I don’t have to find ratinalizations or excuses. Clicking through the link on one of the “flip flops” at random lead to a Time magazine article, which says:

    “Despite the claims of some partisans, McCain’s decision was not a flip-flop, but rather the continuation of a position he took in 2005 when he first championed a bill to restrict the Bush Administration’s ability to mistreat detainees.”

    The other ones I clicked through are pretty pathetic, for instance, this one on dealing with Hamas:

    “McCain answered: “They’re the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it’s a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.””

    “Deal with them, one way or another” is hardly the same as “talking to them without precondition,” which is/was Obama’s famous position.

  121. Research!America and our more than 40 partners have asked both candidates for their positions on health, science and research. While a slightly different focus than ScienceDebate2008, which we have signed onto, it does add to the picture of the candidates’ positions. Check out both presidential candidates’ responses (and responses from Congressional candidates and a related public opinion poll to compare where Americans stand) at http://www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.com.

  122. @JohnW:

    Well, to be clear, I don’t claim that every member of the list is a good example. It’s clearly a partisan page, and as such, I’m willing to bet the author included some more questionable items. But there are few who deny that McCain has taken a *sharp* veer to the right in the last couple years, backing Bush and the neocons on virtually every issue that he’s voted on, and I find it surprising, and a little sad, that you’ve managed to blind yourself to that fact.

  123. @JohnW:

    It’s worth pointing out, though, that regarding the Hamas issue, it’s clear McCain is being more than a little hypocritical. On the one hand he admits that the US will have to engage them diplomatically. On the other, he attempted to smear Obama for taking what is fundamentally the same stance (that the US administration *will* have to talk to them, one way or the other, as they are the legitimate government of the region).

    Regarding waterboarding, I consider that issue more of a capitulation on the part of McCain, but I agree, it’s not a great example. As the article you mentioned points out, “McCain sided with Bush in opposing a further restriction of CIA techniques”. In other words, he took a bit of a wishy-washy stance on that one, on the one hand stating that the US shouldn’t torture, but on the other, stating that the CIA shouldn’t be bound by the army field manual… which, unfortunately, opens the door for more… umm… exotic interrogation techniques, which is precisely what he has spoken out against. Yes, he claims he’s “monitoring” the situation, but it’s hard to deny that, at best, it was an unpleasant compromise in order to avoid further confrontations with the whitehouse.

  124. Mitch Miller

    @kuhnigget

    BA’s statement was that science is the US currently is under attack at a level that wasn’t since 1650. I gave examples that where after Galileo and worse than whats going on in the US currently. My examples did not have to be from the US to contradict BA’s statement. You are dillusional if the Bush administration, while bad, is the worst attack on science since Galileo. In the Scopes Monkey trial, a state had laws on the books that made teaching evolution illegal. And they actually tried to prosecute somebody for this!!!

  125. @Mitch:

    I gotta agree with you on this one. I love reading the BA’s blog, but when things get political, he has a tendency to go a little… hyperbolic. :)

  126. JohnW

    But there are few who deny that McCain has taken a *sharp* veer to the right in the last couple years, backing Bush and the neocons on virtually every issue that he’s voted on, and I find it surprising, and a little sad, that you’ve managed to blind yourself to that fact.

    He’s veered right on taxes, drilling, and immigration. The first two from changing economic reality, the last because of political reality.

    Oh, sure, he’s done some courting of evangelicals. Big deal. He’s never been hostile to them as portrayed, he had some angry criticism for Robertson and Fallwell in 2000, but that was about it.

    It’s worth pointing out, though, that regarding the Hamas issue, it’s clear McCain is being more than a little hypocritical. On the one hand he admits that the US will have to engage them diplomatically. On the other, he attempted to smear Obama for taking what is fundamentally the same stance (that the US administration *will* have to talk to them, one way or the other, as they are the legitimate government of the region).

    I don’t see the hypocrisy. “[S]ooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another” is not the same as meeting without precondition, which Obama said he would do (regarding Iran), and which McCain has criticized him for.

    I don’t really understand what the issue is on the waterboarding – he wants it to apply to the military, but not the CIA? Which was his position all along, or not?

  127. Tacitus: “… Get that? Two thirds of all corporations operating in the US did not pay a dime in federal taxes in the seven years of the study (and nothing has changed in the past three years).”

    Care to guess how much taxes were paid by ExxonMobil, Shell, …?

    “About 25 percent of the U.S. corporations not paying corporate taxes were considered large corporations, meaning they had at least $250 million in assets …”

    You might consider that no-one pays taxes on assets. (But it’s early yet – Obama might get elected.) You pay taxes on net income, which is Profit – Expenses.

    If even one of these companies were evading their fair tax, they’d be up Enron Creek.

    QuietDesperation gets it. True, tax laws are even more arcane than the Kabbalah, but they’re what they have to work with.

    People who think these are “loopholes” are the same ones who think that all the money is really the government’s, and they just let us use a little of it now and again. (Some other people talking about a big expensive program, like to say, “Good thing it’s government money and not ours”.)

    QuietDesperation misses the mark with this one: “And IF by chance they passed something Dubya didn’t want …”

    You mean things like the billions in pork-barrel earmarks that the Democrats push through with painful regularity?

  128. Daffy

    John W.,

    Look up the numbers yourself; it’s public record. Most people didn’t notice Reagan’s tax increases because they came out under employment tax…which most people ignore. Those of us who are self employed noticed because we have the money in our hands, and then have to then turn it over to the IRS.

  129. Quiet Desperation

    ZZMike said: “QuietDesperation misses the mark with this one: “And IF by chance they passed something Dubya didn’t want …”

    Er, I didn’t say that. That was Dave Hall responding to me.

    Remember kids, quote carefully. :-) And use italic or bold tags to differentiate them.

  130. JohnW

    Look up the numbers yourself; it’s public record.

    What a dodge. If you’re making the argument, provide the evidence.

  131. Vlad

    On global warming…

    I think it is exceptionally arrogant to believe that humans can have such an outrageous effect on nature. One volcano pumps more greenhouse gases into the air in one day than we can in 100 years. I think our arrogance is along the same lines as the arrogance that lead to believing that the earth was the center of the universe back in the Dark Ages.

    That being said, I do think we need to be responsible and do everything we can to cut back on our output of greenhouse gases. We do need to attack this issue aggressively. I agree that this will lead to engineering breakthroughs that are much needed.

  132. Daffy

    John W.,

    Here you go…you will, of course, just reject it out of hand, thus proving my point.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B05E5DE1F31F93BA35755C0A9629C8B63

  133. Dirk Talamasca

    Just received this in passing SPAM in the mailbox.. This is in no way an endorsement for the magazine (Newsmax). I just found the topics of the interview to be pertinent to the thread here.

    It seems that Ms Palin isn’t concerned about the greenhouse effect at all.

    =======================================

    This edition also includes an exclusive interview with McCain running mate Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin. In this interview she reveals her take on the vice presidency, John McCain, abortion and other issues. She also explains why she doesn’t buy into “global warming” theories.

  134. Dirk Talamasca

    @Mitch Miller

    Mitch Miller says, “In the Scopes Monkey trial, a state had laws on the books that made teaching evolution illegal. And they actually tried to prosecute somebody for this!!!”

    We currently have laws that will seek to prosecute those studying and experimenting with stem cells. A course of study that has the potential to save and improve many, many lives.

    Your point is not well made as the fears and superstitions surrounding this area of study can also meet with dire consequences when its intent is to further humankind, increase our capacity to live more fulfilling, healthy lives and cure diseases.

  135. Nate Grover

    I wonder how many of these cynical venom spewers are being payed McCain Points©?

    In case you didn’t know, conservative (or just plain old troll) comments can be reported on McCain’s web site to “receive points”. ( http://www.johnmccain.com/ActionCenter/BlogInteract/BlogInteract.aspx )

    Being so hopeless you need to have a section that tells the good little sock puppet trolls to hit the blogs with copy-and-paste Talking Points is despicable. A majority of these anti-Obama comments are probably from the McCain spam bots. Bleep-Blip-Boop my robo-friends!

    A fun game to play is to compare their free-thinking “comments” with the spam copy-and-paste talking points of the day.

    Have fun racking up Spam for McCain Points you little trolls! :]

  136. Thank you for posting this. I hope you will post McCain’s responses as well (when he provides them). Too few journalists are talking about these issues, which is baffling to me. Obama’s on the record now. That took courage. McCain needs to do the same. It’s not too late for a science debate. Help me understand why the media isn’t joining forces to demand such a debate….

  137. I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread, but McCain finally responded:

    http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php?id=42

  138. GMACD

    CO2 does not cause heating in the atmosphere or anywhere. Please explain to me why then our CO2 emissions are heating up polar ice caps on Mars and some moons at Jupiter and elsewhere? How are we influencing a solar system wide warming on most stellar bodies? It’s been proven that we’ve actually experienced one of the coolest times on a very long record of extreme temperatures on the planet. Co2 levels are shown only to rise after a warming period. Besides CO2 id a life giving gas for all plant life and I’m sure some other life that we don’t know yet breathes CO2. Do you really want a global tax on the very air that comes out of your lungs? Come on! We’re going to be seeing much cooler temperatures from now on such as the sun has moved in to a cool down cycle. I mean scientifically, if the world is heating up, let’s understand that the greatest source of heat coming to us is the sun but 2/3 of our planet is water. Well water has quite the heating potential right…let’s disseminate this properly.

  139. Jason

    “Wow! Can I vote for the person who actually composed Obama’s answers?”

    A common misperception (encouraged, no doubt, by certain media outlets) is that Obama doesn’t write his own responses and speeches. In fact, he’s one of the presidential candidates we’ve seen in recent years that does:

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1837368,00.html

  140. bipolar2

    ** Science doesn’t “run” anything.**

    Large science is totally dependent upon government grants. Its administrators hustle about like scared House candidates scrounging money all the time. There’d be no WWW without defense dollars from DARPA back in the ’60s.

    Small-scale university science depends on grants, both US and private. “Pure” research, like God, died a long time ago.

    Technology, which at best is trailing edge science, may attract private capital. But, investment capital expects return short-term. Toys like iPods and iPhones may enrich Steve Jobs and Apple stock holders, but they do nothing but serve trivial ends of popular culture. Big Pharma will fund small pharma, because BibP can only market — it can no longer create.

    If Galileo were alive today, he’d still starve.

    bipolar2

  141. joshua

    obama will do a good job

  142. Like to watch Stargate Atlantis episodes and also Lost. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  143. Monique

    Our world is changing and growing as well as our technologies. It is important for our country to have the latest and best technologies. Obama has hired a new crew of scientists to research new innovations that will advance America towards a better future by saving money and energy. Obama is committed to science and has invested the largest amount of money in history into scientific research. Scientific education is also being prioritized in order to spark the clean air revolution. Biden and Obama have created the Recovery Act which is the plan to pull our nation out of the recession. In order to achieve goals for new technology and find new innovations, a large investment must be made. Obama has made a historical commitment to science for our country which is very important to the growth and survival of our economy.

  144. Julia R.

    Our lives, our planet and our surrounding all are a part of science so I’m glad Obama is in the works to prioritize scientific education because our future depends on it. I also think he should make recycling mandatory for all business/organizations and maybe scientists should develop some kind of device that sorts through trash to sort out the recyclables. This is just a thought on the new thechnologies that could be and should be developed.

    We can all make a difference too by urging our local school districts to have thorough science curricula. The school where I work was audited because our students performed low on the state test on all parts including science, but it’s not our teachers it’s the curriculum. All the employess were interviewed by the district’s instructional superintendents and I made sure to tell them that we lacked a science curriculum and that we need to enlighten and inspire those young minds to be the future scientists that will make a difference. I’m just so happy Obama is so into science, I hope all goes well with that. Great leaders don’t just talk, they make things happen and Obama is proving well.

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