I told you so

By Phil Plait | October 7, 2008 10:12 pm

Man, I hate being right all the time.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics

Comments (150)

  1. Aerodoq

    Did you catch the debate tonight? He highlighted building a planetarium as an example of wasteful spending he’d cut.

  2. I already blogged about that, Phil. We were alternately laughing and sneering at him and his silly comments.

    Gargggh!!!!

  3. I can’t decide which is more breathtakingly stupid: the fact that he didn’t know what kind of projector was at Adler or that he thought it was a good idea to attack planetariums and science education (by concatenation).

    As I asked in my blog entry, if they got this one wrong, what ELSE are they getting wrong?

  4. Maria Myrback

    Isn’t $3 million dollars for an overhead projector a bit on the excessive side? What about private funding? I’m all for supporting the sciences BUT I really feel that it should be voluntary and not something the government is MAKING me do.

  5. hale-bopp

    I thought I heard someone’s head explode…

  6. Jose

    Apparently you didn’t notice that John McCain: literally antiscience was actually about gay marriage. The title was pretty misleading.

  7. Rahne

    I wanted to hurl something at my TV when I heard McCain blather on about that. Twice. And how he made sound all evil and crap.

    I’m PO’d.

  8. Jose

    It’s a projector. It projects things over your head. Once again McCain was 100% correct. And he was gentlemanly enough to not even raise the fact that Obama wanted to us the projector to show hardcore porn movies to kindergarteners and terrorists.

  9. RoaldFalcon

    I don’t keep up with politics much, so I have no clue what anybody here is talking about (specifically, I mean). And the provided link is only a tease.

  10. John Keller

    You are all the time? I remember some blogs about the Grand Canyon that you had to retract.

  11. «bønez_brigade»

    I’m actually glad he mentioned it (twice). Hopefully it will get people to actually investigate why the planetarium was funded (and at the same time to realize that McCain leans toward anti-science).

  12. Davidlpf

    Well with the McCain/Palin ticket you know McCain is not Palin’s puppet, he just somebodies elses puppet now. Hopefully Obama will win, at first I was just did not like the first black or first woman in the whitehouse stuff going on earlier in the campaign.
    At least I was right about Chenney’s puppet.

  13. quasidog

    When the hell is this thing going to be over so Obama can win (which any idiot can see he will) and my television (in Australia) can stop flooding me with stuff I don’t care about. Grr

  14. Um, Jose, what? The link goes to a post I wrote about this whole planetarium issue with McCain.

  15. Rabor

    This is such nonsense. Obama’s stance on Sarbanes-Oxley is far more “anti-science” with it’s destructive role in the capital markets, which fund a lot of science.

    Guess what kiddies, a lot of things are going to get cut now that we have a 700B bailout. Get ready to start calling everyone anti-everything.

  16. The planetarium issue evolved into some other issues and then the homophobes crawled out from under their rocks but that happened late in the posts – around 240 by then.

  17. Jose

    @Phil
    It was a joke. Read the last 50 or so comments on the old thread.

  18. TW

    Where in the Constitution is Congress given the power to spend money on a planetarium?

  19. themadlolscientist

    Bah. Humbug. Planetariums (planetaria?) are one of the greatest things that turn kids on to science. McCain is so full of crap, his eyes are brown. As they say in Ireland: “Feckin’ eedjit!”

  20. quasidog:

    It may seem obvious to you (hell, you’d think it looks obvious by looking at fivethirtyeight or electoral-vote), but I don’t think anyone on the Obama side is calling this one in the bag, not after the widespread corruption of the last two cycles. In fact, a great many of us liberals are convinced that the fix is in. Hell, I still think the fix was in in 2006 and the Democrats retook Congress in spite of it.

  21. Will

    Yeah that really boggled my mind, if he was highlighting wasteful spending, $3 million for science/education is a REALLY bad example compared to $10 billion a month on war…

  22. Maybe McCain just needs a simple guide to projectors as it sounds like something he’s picked up from someone else and doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. Unfortunately there are no shortage of people who would lump “$3 million overhead projector” with “$50,000 toilet seat” and other financial boondoggles they’ve heard about.

    I wrote a quick guide on my blog to inform those who don’t know the difference.

  23. tacitus

    A more salient point about McCain’s crusade against earmarks (not a bad thing in itself) is that it wouldn’t make any difference in the end. As Obama correctly says, earmarks are a vanishingly small portion of overall government spending — sweep them all away tomorrow, and this country is just as screwed as it was yesterday.

    Lobbyists seeking legislation giving their clients untold billions of dollars in tax breaks and giveaways is a far greater problem but McCain can’t talk about that because his campaign is neck deep in lobbyists. Removing or even just reducing the influence of lobbyists (at the very least bar them from writing the legislation!!) would save the taxpayer much more money than scrapping congressional pet projects.

  24. I’m not a McCain supporter, but I can see no reason why a projector is a federal responsibility. Just because something has “science” attached doesn’t mean it should get instant funding, nor should it get funding by the federal government.

  25. PhantomPhoton

    Yeah, thanks to you Phil I knew exactly what he was talking about when he mentioned it and therefore I can be appropriately ticked off at his idiocy. I long for the day when a presidential debate pits two highly intelligent people with differing opinions against each other so that voters can decide FOR THEMSELVES (as opposed to voting solely on the basis of political party) who will be better for our country.

  26. Ad Hominid

    That whirring sound from Paradise Valley AZ is aviator, amateur radio operator, GOP presidential candidate, and ASTRONOMY ENTHUSIAST Barry Goldwater spinning in his grave.

    McCain was a naval officer and Annapolis graduate; he has to know better than this.

  27. Daniel

    I wish NASA would help out the states for some of this stuff (The Challenger Centers were an awesome attempt). A projector for a planetarium aint cheap, but it is so worth it.

  28. Lawrence

    NASA doesn’t have enough money for the stuff it needs to do now (triple the funding tomorrow & they are still in the hole by more than a few billion). Just like Vietnam & Stagflation killed the lunar missions and Mars, Iraq (and a much lesser extent, because I think it is right for us to be there, Afghanistan), and the current crisis are pretty much going to kill or at least postpone plans for the next series of Lunar missions – kinda hard to be arguing we should be on the Moon when the economy is cratering.

    For the first time, I am extremely excited about an election – where I feel like I have the chance to send a message, to put someone in the White House who will take the country in another direction, make decisions based on logic and reason, and will truly have the best interests of the country and the people at heart.

    Say what you will about politicians (yeah, most are scum), but there are still a few out there (and I count Obama as one of them) that are trying to do what is best for the people.

    As a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, it really upsets me that my Party has abandoned its principles, has been bought and sold by the corporations and the evangelical Right, and has squandered the financial resources of this nation. So, for the first time in a long time, I’m going to vote my conscience.

  29. DrFlimmer

    Let the world decide for you, Americans, and everything will be right! Almost everyone on this planet earth wants to see Obama in the White House – only in the US McCain is still in the race (oh, and in Russia btw ;) ).
    Please, do yourself and us “out there” a favour and get the “right” one into that building!

  30. I found this post a bit odd. There is only a link to a previous post. What’s the point of that? Usually when saying “I told you so”, you link to a previous post AND a recent event that has caused you to say “I told you so”.

    I’m confused.

  31. jasonB

    Hey, let’s just keep spending money we don’t have! I want a planetarium so just give me the money. But it’s to “help the kids” learn about science.

    And when someone tries to cut an entitlement (or keep it at the rate of inflation) “It’ll hurt the most vulnerable, the kids and the elderly.”

    Face it folks, we are writing checks NO ONE is going to be able to cash. Keep trusting politicians who promise you the world. If you just let them steal the money from one person to give it to another.

    Do you guys really think this is just Bush’s fault? Or is it the fact that DC is so wrapped up in whole financial mess that a lot of them would be in jail if it were to be properly investigated? This is the worst financial scam of all time? (as quoted by many of our pols.) Why is no one under subpoena?

    Yet you wish to give them MORE control over your life. Taxes are what feed the government beast. The more they take and dole back to you, the more they can tell you how to behave.

    One last thing for Phil. This planetarium seems pretty important to you? How about when you’re jetting around to various sci-fi/skeptic gatherings you start networking and raise the money yourself? Lots of corporations have budgets just for charity. Might be a little tougher now but, if it’s that good of an idea you should be able to sell them on the idea.

    How many of you here on this board that scream about it’s importance will be ponying up?

    I’m in.

  32. Todd W.

    @Mike Torr

    The post is in response to last night’s (Oct. 7) presidential debate, where McCain brought up, twice, in short succession, earmarks for a $3 million “overhead projector”, as he called it. McCain’s statement is, how shall we say, a bit misleading, though as Jose noted above, he is technically correct. A planetarium projector does project things overhead, but it’s a wee bit more complicated than shining a light through a transparency, bouncing it off a mirror and through a lens and onto a pull-down screen in a classroom.

  33. quasidog

    Brian X : “…..but I don’t think anyone on the Obama side is calling this one in the bag, not after the widespread corruption of the last two cycles.”

    true. I didn’t really factor that in ;p

  34. Trykt

    Here’s a fun game: how many Ron Paul supporters can you spot in the comments for this post?

    Hint: I’m one.

  35. RJ

    Hey, just keep it up Phil and maybe you’ll get annointed a prophet like Palin.

  36. MattFunke

    Gary: “I’m not a McCain supporter, but I can see no reason why a projector is a federal responsibility. Just because something has “science” attached doesn’t mean it should get instant funding, nor should it get funding by the federal government.”

    While this doesn’t justify blanket funding for all science-related endeavors, I think the simplest answer is because a well-educated populace is better equipped to vote intelligently. It’s better to vote and solve problems according to the way the Universe actually works, not the way we think it works or the way we hope it works(*). The principle of serendipity shows us that we never really know *which* information will prove valuable for analyzing the problems we will face in the future.

    It’s also in the best *economic* interest of the citizens to make sure that the population is well-educated about science; we live in a technological society, and enjoy a standard of living made possible because we have achieved a certain level of technical prowess. Fundamentally, of course, certain jobs are simply impossible without decent scientific education (if you don’t believe me, try to get a design engineering company started in El Salvador); but even more importantly, without a steady stream of students who remain interested in science in spite of its difficulty, we will simply lose the ability to support our collective technological ability (never mind *compete* technologically).

    In some measure, then, government must invest in the science education of our young ones, up to and including a few big sexy things to ignite young interests in the first place — simply because we think about the future, not just the present.

    (*) This, IMHO, is the biggest problem with having laws passed by a body of lawyers. It seems like laws are frequently passed out of emotional reaction to a situation rather than a careful collection and consideration of the facts involved.

  37. Reginald Selkirk

    I’m not a McCain supporter, but I can see no reason why a projector is a federal responsibility.

    We could have an honest discussion about that. Derisively labeling a planetarium star projector an “overhead projector” is not honest.

    Lump this together with McCain’s selection of a Creationist for his running mate, and comments by both about “teaching all sides” on evolution, and it is clear that this is the anti-science education ticket.

  38. Greg

    I was kind of surprised Obama let him slide on this point in the debate. He could’ve utterly demolished McCain by pointing out what a planetarium “overhead projector” actually does, and that it’s a real shame Sen. McCain is so against something that inspires so many children to reach for the stars and further their education and interest in science. Easy segue into his science, education, and NASA policies.

  39. What is astonishing to me is the level of incompetence McCain (or somebody on his advisory/training wheel board) shows if they think they can characterize a science visualization system as an “overhead projector.” Which is what I wrote in my entry — and I’ve seen the same sentiment in other places this morning. It’s just indicative of how out of touch his campaign is. What’s next? Calling a car a horse and buggy and ranting about how Obama’s buddies helped fund highways to help these contraptions get around?

    There are many earmarks for education in budget bills…sometimes it’s the only way things get done, particularly in science education. Those of you whining about the planetarium really should do a little research (you know, that scientific thing of “checking the facts”) to see what’s being funded. You might be pleasantly surprised to see that sometimes federal money does do good things.

    And as someone else pointed out, $3 million for an upgrade to Adler benefits a whole lot more people than a 700 billion dollar bailout or a costly mistaken war.

  40. schism

    I was kind of surprised Obama let him slide on this point in the debate.

    The format of the debate was too rapid-fire to get that bogged down in details. Hell, that’s probably why McCain was blathering out talking points so much; he was attempting to knock Obama off-stride by forcing him to respond to McCain rather than the question at hand.

    Not to mention that, to be blunt, most people don’t care about planetariums as much as a specialized discussion group like this one.

  41. If anyone cares:

    THE FACTS: McCain’s phrase suggests Obama spent $3 million on an old-fashioned piece of office equipment that projects charts and text on a wall screen. In fact, the money was for an overhaul of the theater system, which projects images of stars and planets for educational shows at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. When he announced the $3 million earmark last year, Obama said the planetarium’s 40-year-old projection system “has begun to fail, leaving the theater dark and groups of school students and other interested museum-goers without this very valuable and exciting learning experience.”
    — The Associated Press

    …You call that wasteful spending? I call that revamping a vital location that gets kids interested in science.

  42. Dave M

    Just like Phil said in the original post, McCain is willing to club the baby seal of science in order to try to win a few votes.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to put on my seal-skin gloves and go to work.

  43. Celtic_Evolution

    I really can’t believe the short-sightedness and completely insular attitude of some of the posters here. Right out of the “I don’t care about it, so why should anyone else” mold. Truly inspiring.

    Museums, whether they be art, science, technology, or history, are a critical component to a successful society. They are the gateway for young minds in developing an interest in the arts and the sciences. They are critical devices for shaping a culture of advancement and enlightenment, and to belittle their importance as McCain has done time and again, and to show a complete lack of understanding for the importance of science and education to the future of this country, displays a total lack of vision. McCain is the most dangerously provincial, isolated and narrow-minded presidential candidate we’ve had since… well, unfortunately since our last president. IMO, it has been this continued short-sighted, insular mindset over the past 8 years that has brought us to the situation we’re in now.

    There is no better way we can spend our money than by making investments in the advancement of our education and knowledge.

    It’s clear to me, for one, that based on statements like the one he made last night in the debate, education and science are near the bottom of his priority list. So if an educated, enlightened, well developed society equipped with intelligent young men and women with the skills necessary to lead our country out of the mess we are in and into the future in really not of interest to you… then go ahead… vote for “that one” (McCain).

    I think I’ll vote for the guy who understands that importance.

  44. Ray

    Still not seeing why the Federal government should be giving money to the planetarium. Or to build bridges, roads, etc. All of these things could and should be funded by state and/or local government. Yes, the feds could give the states pools of money, but the states should spend it, not some Congressman trying to buy votes.

  45. Frank Ch. Eigler

    Phil, you need not worry about being right all the time.
    The word “literally” does not mean what you think it means.

  46. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Ray

    Yes, the feds could give the states pools of money, but the states should spend it, not some Congressman trying to buy votes.

    meh…

    So if you felt that the congressman wasn’t trying to buy votes you’d be OK with the federal government providing funds this way? Excellent argument.

  47. Dan

    “One last thing for Phil. This planetarium seems pretty important to you? How about when you’re jetting around to various sci-fi/skeptic gatherings you start networking and raise the money yourself? Lots of corporations have budgets just for charity. Might be a little tougher now but, if it’s that good of an idea you should be able to sell them on the idea.” – JasonB

    I suggested something like this when the issue first came up. Remember, they don’t want to pay for anything, they want force everyone else to pay, they want the government to provide housing, health care, and TP to wipe. $20 trash can or $3 mil projector, makes no difference. Don’t take my money to pay for the things YOU want, pay for it yourself. In all this time nobody has collected the $3 mil for it, apparently they do not want it badly enough, so they should do without. If you want things, you work for them. If you want a house, you work hard, save money, and buy a house, if you want health insurance, you work hard and pay for it. Take responsibility for yourself.

  48. I love that he can’t tell the difference between a planetarium, and an overhead projector.

    I was also amused when the moderator decided to refer to an energy project as a new Manhattan project, rather than a new Apollo project.

  49. yy2bggggs

    Yeah, the federal government should not be wasting my tax dollars on projectors that are just going to inspire awe in people and make them turn to science. We should be spending that money on more useful things, like education!

    If you want to motivate people to go into science for your own selfish motives, use your own dollars and don’t waste mine.
    [/satire]

  50. I think McCain was baiting Obama with the “overhead projector” comments, and Obama was wise to simply ignore it. Far too often in the past the democrats have spent considerable time and energy defending against worthless accusations, rather than putting forth their own message. That just focusses attention on the republican message.

    And for the record, the planetarium in question is a historically significant, public institution that does have substantial funds through private and corporate donations. The government contribution was a top up to support bringing one of the most important educational institutions in the country into the 21st century, not a freebie giveaway.

  51. themadchemist

    Phil,
    You are starting to be a bit too liberal with labeling things “anti-science” and much like others who see racism everywhere it is losing any gusto with me. Just because someone thinks it is wasteful to spend taxpayer money on upgrading a planetarium doesn’t make them anti-science. Forcing teachers to teach ID is anti-science, ignoring all scientific research to promote a vaccine/autism link is anti-science. Phil I think you are beginning to let your own politics get in the way of your science and your desire to just dislike McCain clouding your judgment and this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like McCain and will not be voting for him.
    Regards,
    Caleb

  52. BethK

    I support government funding of sciences and think paying for the Adler Planetarium’s projector upgrade is a fine idea. But why does it have to be as an earmark attached to some unrelated bill? Why couldn’t they apply for some other funding program that is reviewed and awarded on merit? Adler Planetarium does that, but this seemed to be an attempt to get the money in another way. Everybody else does it, so let’s try the easy way …

    I don’t like that any more than I like all the things that were added to the bailout bill. Legislators are thinking, “what’s in it for me and my constituents” rather than “what’s the correct way to solve this problem.” Not that there are good answers for that.

  53. MattFunke

    Ray: “Still not seeing why the Federal government should be giving money to the planetarium. Or to build bridges, roads, etc. All of these things could and should be funded by state and/or local government. Yes, the feds could give the states pools of money, but the states should spend it, not some Congressman trying to buy votes.”

    Would you agree that these things are important, and that therefore *someone* ought to pay for them?

    If the federal government pays for it directly, this payment avoids the middle management/bureaucracy of the state and local governments. In other words, if they simply give the money to the states, they have to give enough money for the project *and* to pay the employees of the state and/or local governments who handle the money as it travels to its destination. In short, more money is paid to governments of one kind or another.

    Given the propensity toward bureaucracy of government agencies, and the expense of said bureaucracies, I’d rather cut out inefficiencies wherever they can be removed.

    You could argue that the taxation systems need to be revamped so that money goes where it should (such that the federal government doesn’t even get to touch the money for a planetarium, say), but that’s a separate issue involving creating new expenses; moreover, it’s an issue which completely ignores the fact that we live in a *nation* where some parts of the country support other parts. (It’s enlightening to look at how much states pay in taxes versus how much they receive from the federal government, especially in light of the political leanings of some of those states.)

  54. Celtic_Evolution

    Don’t take my money to pay for the things YOU want, pay for it yourself.

    Yet another short-sighted, insular comment. Keep it up… you’re showing us all that what’s important to you ends at the tip of your nose.

    Now try figuring out the difference between something that’s just “wanted” and something that’s critically important to a public educational institution, as BudgetAstronomer pointed out above. Or maybe you think we should just add that $3 mil to the bailout package?

  55. Dave C

    In the previous debate, McCain also cited genetic research on bears as a prime example of government waste.

    I’m sure there is plenty of waste in governement. McCain has no shortage of examples to choose from. He should pick the worst of the worst to use in a debate. Yet, in spite of this, he cites only examples relating to scientific research or scentific eduction. The inescapable conclusions is that this man considers science and science education to be an egregious waste of money.

  56. Todd W.

    @CE

    Umm, point of order, but it’s not a “bailout”, it’s a “rescue”. Just like it isn’t civil war in Iraq, it’s sectarian violence. (Obligatory nod to The Daily Show.)

  57. Celtic_Evolution

    I support government funding of sciences and think paying for the Adler Planetarium’s projector upgrade is a fine idea. But why does it have to be as an earmark attached to some unrelated bill? Why couldn’t they apply for some other funding program that is reviewed and awarded on merit? Adler Planetarium does that, but this seemed to be an attempt to get the money in another way. Everybody else does it, so let’s try the easy way …

    I would agree, Beth, that the way earmarks are used in seemingly unrelated budgetary bills is confusing at best, and certainly leads to a high potential for abuse. I wouldn’t argue against overhauling the entire system.

    But that’s really not the heart of the discussion here. This is the way the system works now, and short of it being overhauled, this is how money for these projects gets appropriated. The key issue here is that it’s intellectually dishonest for a man in McCain’s position to refer to it as an “overhead projector”, and conveniently leave out that the $3 mil was only in part to pay for the device. It’s like me completely renovating my kitchen and then someone claiming I spent $40,000 on a dishwasher. It’s dishonest and slimy.

    The other issue is, whether or not government funds, in whatever means they are acquired, should be used for this project, and I think a pretty darned good argument has been made here that they absolutely should.

  58. XI

    Phil…. constitution…. read it…. The federal govt has absolutely no business funding anything like this.

  59. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Todd W.

    Darnit… thanks for clarifying that… I don’t know what came over me…

  60. Phil I think you are beginning to let your own politics get in the way of your science and your desire to just dislike McCain clouding your judgment and this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like McCain and will not be voting for him.

    Only beginning? Phil has been a fully paid up member of the Cult of the Obamessiah since the start. He’s in the tank for The One since day one.

    It is his right of course, but Phil’s claims to be objective are taking the utter piss, and have done so for some time. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

  61. Ted H.

    The ‘overhead projector’ line really had me yelling at the TV.

    Asking if the federal government should be paying for these kinds of things is a legitimate issue. But calling a fairly sophisticated piece of equipment an overhead projector trivializes the whole thing. It is true that a planetarium projector has no direct scientific value, but like (most) museums, they are educational tools that promote interest in science. When I was a kid, we would go to Griffith Park Observatory every few months. It was my first real exposure to science, and gave me a love of astronomy that stayed with me. Now that I live in the DC area, I love taking my daughter to the Smithsonian, and I hope that I am planting a seed there.

    What I want to know is how far this resistance of funding goes. Would President McCain stop funding, for example, the Smithsonian? They are all free to get in because of government funding. Our tax dollars and all. Again, you can make the argument that the users should pay for it through entrance fees and the like, and this is something that can/should be discussed.

  62. Celtic_Evolution

    @ Dave -

    Thanks for the contribution.

    Now, can you kindly point out how objectivity would have in any way changed the fact of wither of these posts?

    Additionally, Phil is an man of, and an advocate for science. Phil has pointed out clearly where McCain is completely anti-science. Why should he be objective in light of this? Would you be objective if either candidate came out and said “there is no god”?

    I didn’t think so.

  63. Celtic_Evolution

    ugh… typo… the post above should read “EITHER of these posts”, now “wither”.

  64. DGKnipfer

    McCain has literally become a disconnected caricature of Don Quixote tilting at the windmill that Earmark Spending represents. He doesn’t care how important an advanced projection system for Adler Planetarium is because to him it’s just one more pet project. It’s not an education issue or a science issue to McCain; it’s only a spending issue. If he gets elected I fear government will grind to a halt because he doesn’t have a fix for the system; just a personal crusade against all Earmarks.

  65. Quiet_Desperation

    I think the simplest answer is because a well-educated populace is better equipped to vote intelligently.

    Wow. So it’s a *magic* projector with powers to upgrade the base intellectual prowess voter base? I tease. :-)

    Is a planetarium projector the best way to educate people? Why not use the money to buy out something Starry Night or Stellarium, and make it a free download for everyone. That way kids could explore the night sky whenever and for as long as they wish. Maybe coax the OS vendors to include it (and other science software) free with their operating systems.

    http://www.starrynightstore.com/stniso.html

    http://www.stellarium.org/

    Yeah, Stellarium is already free, but use a fraction of the $3 million to distribute it to schools.

    Maybe create a “Science DVD” full of science software and give a small tax break to computer vendors who bundle it.

    Think outside the box, savvy? We have a market system. USE it, for goodness sake.

  66. IVAN3MAN

    At last! It took over 7.5 hours’ for “[my] comment [(above) to get through] moderation”! What took you guys so long?

  67. BethK

    @Celtic_Evolution
    Continuing the kitchen analogy, saying the $3 million is for an ‘overhead projector’ is like saying someone contributed $40,000 for the dishwasher when the while kitchen makeover cost $100.000. It wasn’t only the projector and this wasn’t the only funding. I couldn’t find numbers on the Adler’s budget. They do ask for and receive substantial government but also corporate support.

    As a scientist and parent, I’m scared of what would happening to science and education funding in a McCain administration.

  68. DGKnipfer

    @ XI,

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    I think this most defiantly falls under this line in from the Constitution, “…promote the general welfare…” It’s right there in the Preamble which is most defiantly a part of the Constitution. And since the job of congress is to create laws and pass spending bills I fairly sure that our founding fathers would regard a spending bill like this one as promoting the general welfare just as the Constitution requires.

  69. I’m a bit upset people are getting thier gripe on about this projector. It was expensive, yes true. Nobody said anything when various smithsonian institutions put int thier gigantic IMAX theatres. I live just outside of DC in Va. (still in the Capital Beltway, which makes me a commie according to Joe McCain apparently, jerk), and while a younger lad had the oppertunity to visit the IMAX theatre in the Air and Space Museum. Recently I also visited the theatre at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and saw an IMAX feature there as well. As a culture, we experience much through television and film. We want to SEE the world and universe above, around and below us. To those who live in a big city and have never seen a Truely dark sky in all its glory, the closest they can often get is in a planetarium. Sometimes seeing helps believing

  70. DGKnipfer

    Damn spell checker. Defiantly should be definitely.

  71. Celtic_Evolution

    Phil…. constitution…. read it…. The federal govt has absolutely no business funding anything like this.

    XI – ahh… the old “I’m way better at interpreting the constitution than you are” argument. When can we expect your Supreme court nomination? OK, Mr. constitution… kindly point out where in the constitution it so clearly states what you said, in such “absolute” terms.

    I’ll be waiting to take copious notes…

  72. Celtic_Evolution

    Continuing the kitchen analogy, saying the $3 million is for an ‘overhead projector’ is like saying someone contributed $40,000 for the dishwasher when the while kitchen makeover cost $100.000. It wasn’t only the projector and this wasn’t the only funding. I couldn’t find numbers on the Adler’s budget. They do ask for and receive substantial government but also corporate support.

    Well… not really… because what you state implies intentional deception, by stating the dishwasher cost more than it does and leaving out the intent of overhauling the entire kitchen. No such deception took place here.

    IIRC, the original earmark in 2006 was for $300,000, strictly for updating the projector. In 2008 it was amended to $3 mil for upgrades to the entire planetarium… including the projector system.

  73. Jeffxandra

    @Rabor

    Blaming Sarbanes-Oxley for the financial situation is like blaming the doctor because he told you you were sick.

  74. The first poll after the debate was quite enlightening: Obama wins in almost all categories (such as “more intelligent”), except one – McCain was seen as the “more typical politician”. The ‘maverick’ mask has come done, even before Halloween …

  75. Celtic_Evolution

    @ QD -

    So are you arguing that planetariums in museums like Adler have no intrinsic value because the basic function can be displayed on your home PC? I’m not sure that’s thinking outside the box…

    I’ll give you out of the box… let’s pretend for a minute that it isn’t an either / or decision…

    We have Stellarium at home but my daughter still sits in awe and wonder when we visit the planetarium, and it’s one of the first things she wants to do when we go to the Science museum… I have no doubt it’s stoked her desire to learn more about astronomy and science in general… sorry… going to have to heartily disagree with you here…

  76. Tom Marking

    The only thing I can find on the planetarium was on the ABC web site:

    “In July 2007, Obama requested a $3 million earmark for the Adler Planetarium to repair the 40-year-old projector to the Sky Theater, as detailed on his Web site.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Adler planetarium charge admission to their various shows?

    http://www.adlerplanetarium.org

    It talks about tickets but it doesn’t give the ticket prices. I wonder why the projector repairs couldn’t be funded out of the proceeds of the ticket sales. Why do the taxpayers have to pay this expense?

  77. XI

    @Celtic_Evolution

    Amendment X:
    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

    This lesson is free…. Bill of Rights > one vague phrase the Preamble.

    Yes, I anxiously await your own elevation to the high court… :/

  78. Celtic_Evolution

    @ XI

    Thanks for the quote… now explain to me how it applies in this case, specifically

    I humbly await your otherwordly interpretation…

  79. XI

    Apologies… the substance of my last comment was directed @DGKnipfer

    The snark, however, is reserved for Celtic_Evolution ;)

  80. XI

    @Celtic_Evolution

    Please…. do your own homework. and show your work.

  81. Celtic_Evolution

    @ XI

    No response… as I expected… just spout out quotes from the constitution and pretend it applies without being able to explain how or why.

    Thanks for the lesson indeed.

  82. Celtic_Evolution

    So, XI… does the same constitutional argument apply for federal money for upgrading water supplies and waste treatments in a given state? How about public hospital upgrade projects… hell, does ANY public infrastructure or educational facility qualify for federal funding using this “clear constitutional argument”?

  83. XI

    @Celtic_Evolution

    Just had to try to get the last word… as I expected… what part don’t you understand? Help me help you. Its the gdamned Bill of Rights… We are talking about federal spending, I don’t have to *pretend* that it applies.

  84. XI

    @Celtic_Evolution

    “does ANY public infrastructure or educational facility qualify for federal funding using this “clear constitutional argument”?” In a word, no. In 20 words, if any you can find justification in one of the Articles or in a subsequent Amendment, then yes. Otherwise, no.

  85. Todd W.

    @XI

    Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution:

    No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

    By that, the US Congress can withdraw money to be used by the government if an appropriations bill is passed into law.

    You said:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    Which specific power do you feel applies to this situation? A law was passed that allowed for the government to spend money. Included in that was money for a planetarium, a project which benefits the country as a whole, not just Illinois or even just Chicago. The law did not say that the money was going to the government of the state. The law did not dictate how the state should spend any of its own money.

    So, please clarify how you feel that the section you quoted applies. I could “do my own homework”, but that would not give me any insight into what your reasoning is.

  86. Todd W.

    @XI

    Also of interest is this, from Article 4:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.

  87. Dave C

    The head of Adler Planetarium claims that millions of people visit it each year. Let’s say that means 2 million.

    In one year, that means $1.50 per visitor for the projector. Pretty cheap for such an amazing show.

    But the thing will last a lot longer. It it keeps on working for 20 years, that comes out to 7.5 cents per visitor.

    That’s too expensive for McCain. Science education isn’t worth that price to him.

  88. MattFunke

    Tom Marking: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Adler planetarium charge admission to their various shows? … It talks about tickets but it doesn’t give the ticket prices. I wonder why the projector repairs couldn’t be funded out of the proceeds of the ticket sales. Why do the taxpayers have to pay this expense?”

    Name three world-class museums that have remained open on the basis of ticket sales alone.

    If you’re going to have a museum, it makes sense to keep admissions down to a reasonable level so that they can serve the people they are meant to inform and educate. If you’re going to have a world-class museum, the cost of upkeep makes restricting income to ticket sales difficult (to put it mildly). And educating our people in a way that remains competitive constitutes a strong argument for having and maintaining world-class museums.

  89. XI

    @Celtic Evolution
    Just because you view this or that to be beneficial, does not mean that the federal govt is acting within the Constitutional framework by funding it.

    I fail to see what that clause has to do with any of this; all it says is that no money can not be spent in absence of legislation. However, Article one is fairly specific about what Congress is allowed to legislate, and no where does it mention planetariums or anything that could be remotely construed as such.

    So, to answer your question, the specific power that applies is: the power to levy a tax to pay for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a planetarium or any other educational facility that does not somehow fall under interstate commerce, national defense, or any of the ENUMERATED powers of the Federal Government.

  90. XI

    Sorry, last comment was to Todd W.

  91. MattFunke

    Dave C: “The head of Adler Planetarium claims that millions of people visit it each year. Let’s say that means 2 million. ”

    Really? If Adler Planetarium is open six days a week (and ignores all other holidays), that averages over 6400 people a day. That seems a bit excessive to me. Even if you had a little over 300 people per show, that’s 2o shows per day.

  92. Tom Marking

    In any case, the Adler Planetarium released a statement which essentially calls John McCain a liar. There was no such earmark coming from Obama. If so I wonder why Obama didn’t nail McCain’s hide to the wall during the debate. (See Phil, I can criticize the liar McCain just as much as the liar Obama).

    http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/pressroom/pr/2008_10_08_AdlerStatement_aboutdebate.pdf

    STATEMENT ABOUT SENATOR JOHN McCAIN’S COMMENTS AT THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

    Last night, during the presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, Senator John McCain made the following statement:

    McCain: “While we were working to eliminate these pork barrel earmarks he (Senator Obama) voted for nearly $1 billion in pork barrel earmark projects. Including $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?”

    To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support – which was not funded – to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler’s Zeiss Mark VI projector – not an overhead projector – is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler’s projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium
    projector in the Adler’s 78 years of operation.

    Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

    Senator McCain’s statements about the Adler Planetarium’s request for federal support do not accurately reflect the museum’s legislative history or relationship with Senator Obama. The Adler has approached the Illinois Congressional delegation the last few years for federal assistance with various initiatives. These have included museum exhibitions, equipment and
    educational programs we offer to area schools, including the Chicago Public Schools. We have made requests to Senators Durbin and Obama, as well as to 6 area Congressmen from both political parties. We are grateful that all of the Members we have approached, including Senator Obama, have deemed our activities worthy of their support, and have made appropriations requests on our behalf, as they have for many worthy Illinois nonprofit organizations.

    As a result of the hard work of our bipartisan congressional delegation, the Adler has been fortunate to receive a few federal appropriations the past couple of years. However, the Adler has never received an earmark as a result of Senator Obama’s efforts. This is clearly evidenced by recent transparency laws implemented by the Congress, which have resulted in the names of all requesting Members being listed next to every earmark in
    the reports that accompany appropriations bills.

    October 8, 2008

  93. Todd W.

    @XI

    Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 (emphasis mine):

    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States

    That is a power given to Congress by the constitution. I think that promoting science education falls under “general welfare”. I’ll admit that I am not a Constitutional lawyer, but that appears pretty clear to me. Perhaps you would say that educational facilities do not contribute to the general welfare of the U.S., but I’d be very curious to hear your arguments supporting such a statement.

  94. Tom Marking

    “In one year, that means $1.50 per visitor for the projector. Pretty cheap for such an amazing show.

    But the thing will last a lot longer. It it keeps on working for 20 years, that comes out to 7.5 cents per visitor.”

    I finally did find their prices:

    http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/plan/index.shtml#prices

    General admission is $10; General admission and 1 show is $19; General admission and 2 shows is $23. According to your data they would have to raise their prices to $10.08, $19.08, and $23.08 to cover the cost of the upgrades over 20 years, or $10.15, $19.15, $23.15 over 10 years, or $10.30, $19.30, $23.30 over 5 years. So even trivial adjustments in ticket prices will pay for the upgrades in only a few years. This does NOT cry out to me as a case where federal money is needed.

  95. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    Some quick calculations. Assuming 20 shows a day with 600 people per show (12,000 people/day), 6 days a week, including holidays (313 days a year), at the highest ticket price ($23 for non-Chicago resident adults), that gives us a ticket income of $86,388,000. On top of this are private, corporate and government contributions.

    Out of the total income are the typical expenses of any organization: salaries (a single full-time, low-pay-grade scientist would be about $50K per year, but likely more; clerical positions would also be around $30-40K per year;management positions (e.g., CDO) would be around $130K or more per year), capital projects, maintenance, and so on. In addition to all of those expenses are fees to rent exhibit items from other museums and research projects. General operating expenses, plus exhibits and research would leave very little left of that $83M from ticket sales. And again, that’s assuming that they have 12,000 non-Chicago resident adults per day, 6 days a week, and are open on holidays. My suspicion is that the real intake from tickets is considerably lower than that figure.

  96. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    Another quick note regarding donations. Working in the non-profit sector, I can say with near certainty that a lot of the gifts they receive are very likely restricted in how they can be used.

  97. Chris A.

    As a career planetarium professional, I believe I can speak to this issue.

    Planetariums can educate, to be sure. But how much education can you cram into one 30-60 minute program? In all honesty, not much.

    Far more important is the planetarium’s ability to _inspire_. I don’t know of many planetarium professionals who agonize over how to cram more facts into their visitors’ heads in a given visit. The goal is for the visitor to leave _wanting to learn more_. If they also gain an appreciation for why Federal funding for giant telescopes is tax money well spent, that’s a bonus.

    Now, Adler could try to raise the money to upgrade their projector (built in 1970–incidentally, how many pieces of 38 year old technology do you still use at home or work? Your TV, your phone, any major appliances?) by jacking up their admission prices. For some visitors it would be no big deal to pay $30 or $40 to walk in the door. But there are many, many more who would no longer be able to attend, mainly those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale–arguably the ones who are most in need of inspiration. $3M in Federal funds is an investment which will pay dividends in the form of students who ultimately pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, etc. But that’s a hard thing to justify in a budget, because it doesn’t show up readily on a balance sheet.

    To put this in perspective, the theater where I work opened in late 1995. At the time, it was state of the art. Today, we are facing obsolescence that could literally shut us down any day. Upgrading our theater to the current projection technology (which covers the dome with a high-resolution video image) will cost, at a minimum, around $0.75M. Ours is a 50′ dome seating 144; Adler’s is a 70′ dome seating nearly 400. That additional 20′ of diameter will require almost twice as much resolution and brightness to produce a decent image, and that doesn’t come cheap. Frankly, compared to the cost of the theater for the Rose Center in NYC (in the 10s of millions, IIRC), $3M is a bargain.

    Consider also that Adler was the very first planetarium installed in the western hemisphere, and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It is as much of a national treasure as the Smithsonian (with apologies to the National Air and Space Museum’s Einstein Planetarium–very nice, but doesn’t quite measure up to Adler in terms of historicity or comprehensiveness, given that Adler is both planetarium and dedicated astronomy museum).

    Bottom line: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Oh wait, we did that in 2000 and 2004. I’m hoping we’ve learned our lesson and aren’t going to give ignorance another four years.

  98. XI

    @Todd W.

    I also admit to not being a lawyer or prof, however I think your interpretation of those 2 words is overly broad. Granted, its semantics and opinion at this point, but you are basically saying that “Congress shall have the power to collect taxes to provide anything they think is good.” In my view, the Framers were far to skeptical of Federal power to allow for such a gap. Honestly, the Constitution is a not much more than a list of *explicit* things that the govt is allowed to do. To simply tack “and also anything else” on to the end it is a very dangerous proposition. Many would say that faith and religion is essential for our “general welfare”. I think you’d change your reasoning if President Palin were to submit legislation to build federally funded bible camps.

  99. Chris A.

    @Tom Marking:

    You make the assumption that raising ticket prices will produce no consequent decrease in the number of visitors. In my experience, that is a very bad assumption, only likely to get worse in a down economy.

    To clarify for some others: The Adler is both a planetarium (two, actually) and astronomy museum, which is how they can accommodate so many visitors in a year (not all of whom take in an actual planetarium show). There are separate charges for each theater and the galleries, so these simply analyses of raising money through ticket price increases probably don’t obtain.

  100. Tom Marking

    @Todd “that gives us a ticket income of $86,388,000″

    Again, we’re talking about a $3 million capital improvement project. Using your number of $86.388 million in yearly ticket sales, a 3.5 percent increase in ticket prices pays for it in only 1 year. But let’s say you’ve overestimated ticket sales by a factor of 3. Still, a 10.5 percent increase in ticket prices pays for it in only 1 year, or a 2.1 percent increase in ticket prices pays for it in 5 years.

    BTW, that $86.388 million pays for 1,700 of your $50K scientists, or more realistically, 5 $130K managers, 250 $50K scientists, and 1,830 $40K clerical people. Somehow I doubt their staff is that big.

  101. Todd W.

    @XI

    Your statement regarding faith and religion is off the point and does not bolster your argument, thanks to that little bit in the First Amendment.

    Really, though, quoting bits of the Constitution back and forth is kinda pointless, since what is required is a look at Supreme Court cases on the issue. What does judicial interpretation say about it? That is what will determine whether or not Congress is operating outside its bounds as set forth in the Constitution. If there are no cases on this issue, then we are left to speculate until such a case is brought.

  102. Celtic_Evolution

    XI, Todd W, etc…

    shoot… had a meeting to go to and could not participate in the discussion.

    Todd W makes the point very well, and answers my point to XI correctly. My point is, XI, that your interpretation of that part of the constitution for the purposes of federal funding for elements in the public interest is, to say the least, far-fetched.

    This is proven out by the fact that federal funds are used for such purposes all the time and such a challenge to the constitutionality of federally provided funds has never been successfully put forth… so either your far-fetched interpretation of the constitution is wrong, or you (and every other constitution interpreting apologist that comes in here with the same blather) are just smarter than everyone else in the last 150 years of government and know better what the founding fathers really meant. Guess which way I’m leaning?

  103. Mena

    A $3 million projector is cheaper than a sports stadium, yet those keep getting public funding. It doesn’t matter that planetaria don’t pay their star scientists that much every year and are sometimes struggling to get by while actually contributing something to the world, they apparently over funded? WTH?

  104. Quiet_Desperation

    So are you arguing that planetariums in museums like Adler have no intrinsic value because the basic function can be displayed on your home PC?

    No, not really.

  105. Law Mom

    As a practical matter, Congress can justify just about anything under the Commerce Clause. There are really no limits to this power. If the projector is made in, say, California and shipped to Illinois, bingo, it’s interstate commerce.

  106. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    Your calculations are ignoring plant costs, exhibit rentals, research projects…pretty much everything other than human resources.

    I can’t find anything on their staff size, but let’s just suppose for a moment, that they have a Development Staff alone of about 35-40 people. That’s 1 CDO ($150K), 2 executive directors ($130K each), 8 major gift officers ($90K each), 4 coordinators for the MGOs ($45K each), 1 coordinator for the EDs ($45K), 1 coordinator for the CDO ($50K), 1 dir. of research ($90K), 2 researchers ($45K each), 1 dir. of donor services ($65K), 4 donor services coordinators ($45K each), 1 dir. of stewardship ($70K), 3 stewardship coordinators ($45K each), 2 receptionists ($40K each) and a couple of temps ($30K each), oh, and 1 dir. of events ($90K), 6 coordinators for events ($45K each). The salaries of this office alone would be about $2.535M. This is a typical model for a small Development shop, and that number is, again, for salaries alone. Now, add in costs for office space, utilities office supplies, waste management, travel expenses, donor events and you are adding on another at least $6-8M per year, if not more. Bringing the total up to somewhere around $10M for just one department, as a conservative estimate. Not every department will be that big, and there may be a few that are bigger. Scientific research costs would also figure rather highly into some department budgets, as well.

    Again, I’m just putting forth estimates, but I think that I’ve shown how ticket sales alone would not cover the total costs of renovation of their theatre. The money just isn’t there.

    I wish I knew some people who worked in the development office of a science museum. They would be able to speak a little more accurately to this.

  107. XI

    wow, Apologist? forgive me for daring to interpret a document. I’m not voting for McCain and I have never said that planetariums are the devil (in fact i rather enjoy them), just that it is improper for the *federal* govt to fund it. If we were talking about the Illinois State Senate, then this discussion would have never happened. Build all the planetariums you want…

    I’m really not surprised that you are tired of “quoting bits of the Constitution back and forth,” since I’m apparently the only one who can find anything in the damned thing that supports my argument. “General welfare”? and my interpretation is far-fetched? Looking back over the last 150 years of government, I can find PLENTY of faults. If you can’t then you are either dishonest or wrong.

    Todd, you are correct that these issues are ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, but the correctness of their judgment is never closed for debate. ever.

  108. DGKnipfer

    @ XI,

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 gives them the authority under the Common Welfare clause. It allows congress to collect taxes to support “general Welfare” as shown here.

    “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”

  109. Celtic_Evolution

    @ QD

    No, not really.

    Yeah… ok… re-reading your post, perhaps I did spin that a bit too far from what you actually said.

    Retracted.

    However, I still feel that funding of this kind is important and necessary, and I stand by the rest of my response to you.

  110. Celtic_Evolution

    @ XI

    you are correct that these issues are ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, but the correctness of their judgment is never closed for debate. ever.

    Yes, but more importantly, so far not once has your position or interpretation in this case ever been upheld by the supreme court. So I ask again… what makes you think you know better? Or can you not conceive that perhaps you might just be wrong in your interpretation?

  111. XI

    @DGKnipfer

    True enough… why stop there? why not include the rest of Section 8?

    Section 8 also explicitly list 17(!) functions to which Clause 1 applies. They didn’t list 2 or 3 and say “You get the idea.” There is no “etcetera” or “and so on”. To add insult to injury, the word education does not appear anywhere. You are welcome to think that is awful, but then thats what Amendments are for.

  112. Tom Marking

    “However, I still feel that funding of this kind is important and necessary, and I stand by the rest of my response to you.”

    Dang, then I suppose you must be steaming mad now that you find out that Obama did NOT cause any earmark spending for the Adler planetarium. What the heck is wrong with that dude? Who does he think he is? Can’t he see that spending on planetariums is important and necessary? :)

  113. Todd W.

    @XI

    If you’ll notice, the Constitution is incredibly vague on just about every power it gives the different branches. This is because the writers understood that times, technology and other factors would change. Frame it too narrowly, and the government could very well be hamstrung and unable to accomplish its tasks.

    Yes, “general welfare” is vague. I’m quite sure that the framers did not foresee $X million planetaria as a potential project. There are probably a number of very specific projects that promote the “general welfare” of the country, and not just a particular state, that they did not foresee.

    So, again, the vague language of the Constitution gives the federal government the flexibility it needs to deal with issues that were beyond those things pertinent or even known to the Founding Fathers.

    Also note that the promotion of science and education was an important issue to the writers, as well, as noted in the clause that is basically the foundation of patent law. It is not unreasonable, then, to suppose that levying taxes to be used for a project that promotes not only the general welfare of the country (in that it advances our science and technology resources as a whole in the form of new scientists), but it also promotes science and education, something that was clearly important to the Constitution’s framers.

  114. XI

    @Celtic_Evolution

    [sigh]i know you are but what am i?

    Are you really stating that the Supreme Court has never ruled in favor of the 10th Amendment? I hope so, because that would be awesome.

  115. XI

    @Todd W

    I disagree. Overall, I do not find the Constitution to be all that vague in general (parts of it? sure). That is not to say there is not room for intelligent debate, but I believe that you overestimate the wiggle room. The founders were largely an enlightened bunch, and a few were even accomplished scientists in their own right. Why didn’t they include *anything* about federal education, science or otherwise? I would submit that is because the did not *believe* in federal education.

  116. Celtic_Evolution

    Are you really stating that the Supreme Court has never ruled in favor of the 10th Amendment? I hope so, because that would be awesome.

    Hmmm… let me look… nope… nope…. nope… don’t see anywhere in there where I stated that. Not at all… let me look again.

    Alas, all I see is where I’ve made the point that nowhere has the supreme court held up that the federal government providing federal funds to support public institutions, like would be the case with the museum planetarium, violates the US Constitution, as is your argument.

    So, nice job pulling a statement I never made out of your backside and stating it as fact, but sorry… fail.

    And I’m still waiting for you to tell me why you continue to insist you just know better.

  117. Celtic_Evolution

    Dang, then I suppose you must be steaming mad now that you find out that Obama did NOT cause any earmark spending for the Adler planetarium. What the heck is wrong with that dude? Who does he think he is? Can’t he see that spending on planetariums is important and necessary?

    Actually… I would make the same point whether he did or didn’t… it’s still important and necessary whether it was appropriated through earmarks or not… whether Obama caused the earmark, supported it or did anything either way with it does nothing to change my position…

  118. Todd W.

    @XI

    Okay. You submit that they did not believe in federal education. As the argument currently stands, that is your opinion and interpretation. Now, if you can come up with letters or other documents by the men who wrote the pertinent parts of the Constitution that show that they did not feel that the federal government has any business funding public institutions, then you have something.

    By the way, the reason I said it was pointless to quote different parts of the Constitution back and forth is because it is opinion, insofar as our interpretations go. You are convinced in yours and are likely not going to be swayed by anything I say. Likewise, I see nothing in there strictly prohibiting the government from such funding actions, but I do see text allowing it. You see my interpretation of “general welfare” as being too broad and not at all what the FFs intended, but in the absence of anything more specific, the room for that interpretation is there. Barring Supreme Court cases addressing the specific issue of federal funding for public institutions like the Adler Planetarium, neither of us has any weight behind our arguments. We are merely spouting opinion and nothing more.

    So, to convince me of your opinion, you’ll need to provide either Supreme Court cases that uphold your position, or documents by the FFs that clear up what their intention was, regarding federal funding and levying of taxes. I’m guessing that such is a bit more work than you will want to do. It’s more than I’m really willing to do, too, since I just don’t have the time to devote to such an endeavor. But, if you feel like taking the time, I would be very interested in reading what you find.

  119. XI

    @ Celtic_Evolution

    Hey man, it was just a question…. I guess I misinterpreted your statement:

    “Yes, but more importantly, so far not once has your position or interpretation in this case ever been upheld by the supreme court.”

    Thanks for clarifying. Still not sure exactly what you meant by that but at least we know you are not so obstinate as to deny that the 10th Amendment is upheld from time to time. So what do you propose then, a 50/50 rule? whereby we would respect it only half the time? only when it suits us?

    I tire of your little ad hominem game of gotcha. “What makes you so smart?” thats your retort? pathetic.

  120. Lawrence

    I believe what is being said is “that’s your interpretation” – but what has the Supreme Court said?

    If you think you are right, find a reason to file a lawsuit against the Congress & see if you can get it to the Court & have them rule on it. Your opinion is one thing, what actually is, is quite something else entirely.

    And the court can’t rule against an Amendment to the Constitution – they can only interpret what it means.

  121. themadchemist

    I have continued to read through these comments and I still don’t see how this justifies Phil’s claim that McCain is anti-science. If McCain said we should not fund planetariums because we all know that stars are really lights stuck in the center of crystal spheres rotating around the earth I would agree. From what I can tell Phil thinks any time a politician believes money being spent of something science related is wasteful spending that makes them anti-science?
    (I am funded greatly by NIH grants so you can be assured that I do like government funding)

  122. Celtic_Evolution

    Thanks for clarifying.

    You’re welcome.

    Still not sure exactly what you meant by that

    Really? How could I put it any more plainly? I’m not sure, so I’ll just repeat my last statement on it: nowhere has the supreme court held up that the federal government providing federal funds to support public institutions, like would be the case with the museum planetarium, violates the US Constitution, as is your argument.

    Clear yet?

    but at least we know you are not so obstinate as to deny that the 10th Amendment is upheld from time to time.

    Well, considering I never made such a statement, I’ll assume that when you say “we know”, you mean “you know”.

    So what do you propose then, a 50/50 rule? whereby we would respect it only half the time? only when it suits us?

    Hmm… don’t remember saying that either. And you accuse me of “gotcha” ad-homs? Please. My point and position has been the same from the start, and you’ve still not made a convincing case of when your interpretation on this issue has ever been shared by the supreme court.

    You can turn what I said into a petulant immature put-down if you want, but that’s your problem, “man”… not mine. Based on your statement early on, and my argument that the supreme court has not and does not support your interpretation, and yet you continue to insist you are right, my question is both appropriate and valid. What makes you smarter than the supreme court in this instance? That you don’t like the question because you don’t have a good answer is not really my fault. But you turning it into a “slap fight” is just a decoy.

    Pathetic indeed.

  123. I caught that too! I was livid. There is goes again talking about science spending as wasteful….It’s not like the Planetarium (which BTW is a top notch science & education & public outreach facility) spent a mil on a dell laptop projector. It’s to project images from DEEP, DEEP outer space.

    %@$*! I feel like inventing new swear words to express how I feel. I just might visit that planetarium this weekend just to show my support of the museum and to protest McCains sorry %@# words.

  124. Todd W.

    @XI

    The question is not whether or not the Supreme Court has upheld the 10th Amendment, but rather, have they upheld the 10th Amendment as it applies to the federal levying and spending of taxes.

    And, yes, Lawrence, that is what I was trying to say. Thanks.

  125. @ XI,

    Directly from Article 1 Section 8, “…To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;…”

    Look, Promote the Progress of Science!!!! It is in the Constitution. Now, I admit that this is considered the Copy Right and Patent clause but it clearly shows that the founding fathers did indeed intend that the Federal Government support the Sciences. And considering that adding a listing of absolutely everything that the founding fathers might consider important into the Constitution would be an endless volume of extraneous information that even if comprehensive in 1787 (as unlikely as a comprehensive list would be) would have required continuous update on at least a yearly basis, bringing our all ready unwieldy Congress to a complete standstill, and still not be capable of keeping up with half of the things that a General and Open interpretation allows for.
    It seems to me that our founding fathers believed in a common sense approach to governing. Besides that, well over half of Supreme Court Justices have always disagreed with you (including the ones appointed by our founding fathers) and use the Preamble to expresses in general terms the intentions of its authors. It is sometimes referred to by courts as evidence of what the Founding Fathers thought the Constitution meant and what they hoped it would achieve. I’m sure they have a little more experience in Constitutional Law than you and I. I’m going to side with the Supreme Court on this idea.

  126. Jose

    @XI
    its semantics and opinion at this point, but you are basically saying that “Congress shall have the power to collect taxes to provide anything they think is good.” In my view, the Framers were far to skeptical of Federal power to allow for such a gap.

    Or maybe the framers were smart enough to realize that they could never account for every situation where federal spending might come into play, and specifically included the phrase “general welfare” should such an occasion arise. You say the framers were far too skeptical to allow for such a gap, yet they did. And it’s a big, fat, obvious gap. Were they idiots?

    And if your interpretation is in fact what they intended, why didn’t they say something like “Unless something is specifically mentioned by this document, it falls out of the jurisdiction of the federal government.” Again, were they idiots?

    I’m apparently the only one who can find anything in the damned thing that supports my argument.

    That’s funny. You don’t actually believe that, do you?

  127. XI

    @Todd W.
    Its pretty hard to prove a negative, so I tend to think that the burden is on you to prove that they DID mean to include such things. But in the interest of debate, I think the short answer is to look at the Federalist papers. But if you think its hard to come to agreement based on the Constitution, I think broadening our discussion to include that sprawling collection would fuel the flames indefinitely. Suffice to say any meager research we could do barely scratch the surface. The fact that the debate continues to date, is a testament to

    My intent here was never to bait or shout down, so I regret the tone that this has taken. I am not opposed to the spirit of your goals. Quite the opposite in fact. I want kids to be fascinated with the grandeur of the cosmos as much as anyone here. I just disagree with the notion of imposing the lethal force of the federal government to attain such goals, if for no other reason, it opens us up to less noble abuses in the future. Does that at least make sense?

  128. Celtic_Evolution

    @ XI…

    I will concede that perhaps phrasing the question “what makes you smarter than the Supreme Court” may come across as condescending. I don’t want my point to get lost in those semantics, so maybe I could re-phrase the question for you in a less confrontational way:

    On what basis do you insist that your interpretation of constitutional law in this matter is correct, despite no support whatsoever from the Supreme Court?

  129. Todd W.

    @themadchemist

    I don’t think it’s so much that McCain is calling the planetarium project wasteful that Phil believes makes him anti-science, and Phil, correct me if I’m wrong, but rather the attitude that McCain is taking toward it. In addition to calling it wasteful, he belittles it by referring to it as an “overhead projector”. This has combined with his other pet target for wasteful spending, the bear DNA project, which, again, he belittled by making a comment about bear parentage or involvement in a crime. He has also taken, if not a definitive “yes” to the teaching of creationism/ID in the science class, at least a rather wishy-washy stance on it.

    Has he picked out any other earmarks as wasteful that are not related to science or education? I ask because I don’t know. If he has, has he also treated them in a similarly demeaning manner?

    It is the combination of these factors that, as I see it, has led to Phil calling him anti-science. And again, BA, correct me if I’m wrong.

  130. Celtic_Evolution

    @ XI

    My intent here was never to bait or shout down, so I regret the tone that this has taken.

    Then perhaps you should take another look at your initial post, which is what I think set the tone for this argument in the first place:

    Phil…. constitution…. read it…. The federal govt has absolutely no business funding anything like this.

    Do you think that was the way to start a constructive debate on the subject? I know it got my defensive dander up…

  131. Jose

    @themadchemist
    I have continued to read through these comments and I still don’t see how this justifies Phil’s claim that McCain is anti-science.

    I think that intentionally misrepresenting and belittling funding intended to refurbish a historically important planetarium qualifies. Also, choosing a running who believes creationism should be taught alongside evolution doesn’t help much.

  132. XI

    @DGKnipfer
    Yes i saw that part too. Its funny in this context, but largely irrelevant since it is rather specific in its application. As for your appeal to authority, it may seem sensible to defer to them, since they ARE the Supreme Court, but it is still a logical fallacy and will not win any debates.

    @Jose
    “And it’s a big, fat, obvious gap. Were they idiots?” No not idiots, but I think it certainly possible that it was an oversight. You have to admit that its too vague to be authoritative either way, and I personally find it presence odd in such a meticulous and specific document. Why include any of the specifics if you’ve got a the catchall “All the good stuff”.

    “That’s funny. You don’t actually believe that, do you?” It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I didn’t see anyone post anything that proved that education was not one of the powers “reserved to the states, or the people”, which goes to the heart of my argument.

  133. Todd W.

    @XI

    it opens us up to less noble abuses in the future. Does that at least make sense?

    I understand your concerns. And I agree that vague language like “general welfare” leaves open a lot and does present potential for future abuses, not to mention ones that have already happened.

    Suffice it to say, though, your opinion that Congress has no business funding the planetarium is based solely in opinion, at this point. If you feel that it violates the Constitution and that you have suffered some wrong because of it, you (or a group of people) could try your luck to challenge the issue on Constitutional grounds. If you win, it will no longer be just opinion, but rather it’ll become the law of the land. If you lose, then Congress will continue to be free to spend federal money how they see fit to spend it.

    That’s one of the prices of living in a free society. You give the government the freedom to act how it sees best for the betterment of the country. Sometimes, their choices align with your opinion. Sometimes it seems that they overstep their bounds. The fact of the matter is, though, that unless the Supreme Court rules on the interpretation, the government can continue to work in a manner that it sees as a proper and justified interpretation of the Law.

  134. Shoeshine Boy

    It was either very disingenuous or ill-informed of Senator McCain to call the planetarium projector an overhead projector. (I’m leaning toward disingenuous.)

    That said, I personally don’t want the federal government funding the project right now.

  135. Reginald Selkirk

    I have continued to read through these comments and I still don’t see how this justifies Phil’s claim that McCain is anti-science.

    In this particular instance, McCain is being anti science education. Ridiculing a star theater projector as an “overhead projector” is to diminish it with ridicule. Fit that in with McCain’s previous statement about “planetariums and other foolishness.” Fit that in with his selection of a Creationist for a running mate. Fit that in with the use of the Creationist talking point “teach all sides” used by both McCain and Palin. Fit that in with his comments on the bear DNA study, in which he mockingly turns it into a joke.

    We could have a serious discussion about how to fund a star theater in a non-profit planetarium. We could have a serious discussion about the merits of the bear DNA study. But it’s clear that someone effecting such a posture of ridicule doesn’t want to have a serious discussion.

  136. XI

    @Celtic_Evolution

    Apologies, but my first comment was a one sentence, unsupported response to a one sentence, unsupported blog post (“I told you so”), which seemed appropriate to me, since I do not believe that opposing federal funding of this or that makes me inherently ‘anti-science’. Its fine that you felt the need to respond in defense of your position, but next time, please don’t just imply that the other person is an idiot just because they don’t hold a seat on the highest court in the land.

    To sum my position up, I can’t think of very many things that the govt handles well. Federal money rarely comes without strings attached, and I’m not comfortable with taxes being used in non-prescribed ways. If we have to agree to disagree on that, then thats fine.

    @Jose
    “I think that intentionally misrepresenting and belittling funding intended to refurbish a historically important planetarium qualifies.” Ok, this I did not realize… If its a Federal Landmark, then I would concede that Federal dollars could be spent on its repair. Is it?

  137. @ XI,

    Not an appeal to authority but a reference to the Constitution making the Supreme Court the Final Arbiter of Constitutional Law. As the Constitution makes the opinion of the Supreme Court the final say on such matters, and the Supreme Court considers the General Welfare clause valid, it is therefore valid because the Constitution makes it valid through the power it grants the Supreme Court. This may seem to be circular logic but remember that we are not debating science we are debating law. As such, if the final arbiter of Constitutional Law, the Supreme Court, considers the General Welfare clause valid then the authority given to them by the Constitution itself makes it valid.

  138. The Adler planetarium here in Chicago has released a statement regarding McCain’s remarks.

    http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/pressroom/pr/2008_10_08_AdlerStatement_aboutdebate.pdf

  139. Celtic_Evolution

    @ XI

    To sum my position up, I can’t think of very many things that the govt handles well. Federal money rarely comes without strings attached, and I’m not comfortable with taxes being used in non-prescribed ways. If we have to agree to disagree on that, then thats fine.

    We can quite rationally agree to disagree on this issue, and to a certain point I would agree with this statement on its face, in some cases. However, that’s a far cry from your initial contention that this case is flat-out unconstitutional. And that was really my main point of contention. My apologies if the conversation took a more confrontational tone than it needed to.

  140. @Todd W. – thank you for the enlightenment! I’m in England and I don’t watch TV, so I was probably one of the least likely people to have known about the content of the debate :|

  141. You know what anti-science is, Phil?

    If we go by his actions, Barry Obama is the most-antiscience presidental candidate ever.

    When he and his unrepentant terrorist pal Bill Ayers ran the Woods Fund together in the late 90s, they cut off and refused funding to improve mathematics and science education, instead funnelling vast sums of money to far left indoctrination.

    Nice Presidental Candidate you got there, Phil. The only thing of note he’s done in his life, apart from hanging around a racist church for 20 years, to is fund the murderous ideas of a terrorist.

  142. StevoR

    Uh Dave : You know what anti-science is, Phil?

    Yes -I’fd trust DrPhil Pliat’s word on what’s pro& anti-Science anyday given he’s been apracticingscientist &scienceeducator for a very long time now. As opposed to ..well what is your expertise here Dave?

    Dave : “If we go by his actions, Barry Obama is the most-antiscience presidental candidate ever.”

    What? You froma parallel planet or something? Have you forgotten the current “president” George II already? (or the Shadow President Chgeney who’s pulling his strings? ;-)

    If anyone’s the most anti-science ever it’d be “Shrubya” George W. Bush the Mad with that Planetarium-hater & creationist-partner incontinent old man McCain the next worst.

    BrianX Said on October 7th, 2008 at 11:38 pm
    “quasidog:

    It may seem obvious to you (hell, you’d think it looks obvious by looking at fivethirtyeight or electoral-vote), but I don’t think anyone on the Obama side is calling this one in the bag, not after the widespread corruption of the last two cycles. In fact, a great many of us liberals are convinced that the fix is in. Hell, I still think the fix was in in 2006 and the Democrats retook Congress in spite of it.”

    I’ve got a horrible sinking feeling that the Republican party re-election plan involves an incident being provoked or manufactured and war breaking out before the end of Bush Junior’s term.

    My bet is either the USA directly or its proxy Israel withUS support and backing and soon enough involvement will be launch a war on, probably Iran and, possibly, also other unfortunate South-West Asian nations before too long.

    Then they’ll use the “we’re at war,can’t change, patriotism as scoundrels last refuge” excuse to either re-elect their puppet ( & I don’t think Bush or McCain are more than figureheads on a very dark and nasty iceberg) – or postpone or even cancel the election entirely.

    Maybe this sounds paranoid but its not like there’s no precedent -Iraq for one. I wouldn’t paut itpast them -the NeoCon’s really are that evil. :-(

    I think the best thing the Democratic party – & Americans in general – can do now is act immediately to impeach Bush and his puppet-masters without any delay!

    Why this hasn’t already happpened is something I find utterly staggering given the seriousness of Bush’es misconduct and the crimes of his regime.

    Nations posing you no threat have been wrongly invaded and destroyed.

    Hundreds of thousands of innocent people – & US soldiers – have been killed.

    Yet this “president” gets away scot-free!?

    Whereas Clinton was facing impeachment simply by lying over a consensual sexual affair that hurt no-one physically and only a few people emotionally.

    How does that figure?
    What the Blazes is wrong with you people??!!
    .

  143. funnelling vast sums of money to far left indoctrination.

    I can’t dispute the evidence you presented to back this claim. Literally, I can’t.

  144. StevoR

    %$$#@@#!!# typos & #@@!#$%^#@@ lack of editing capability here .. Sigh.
    ———————————–

    CORRECTED VERSION :

    Uh Dave : “You know what anti-science is, Phil?

    Yes – he does. I’d trust Dr Phil Plait’s word on what’s pro & anti-Science any day given he’s been a practicing scientist & science educator for a very long time now. ;-)

    As opposed to ..well what is your expertise in that area Dave?

    Dave : “If we go by his actions, Barry Obama is the most-antiscience presidental candidate ever.”

    Nonsense Dave! Are you from a parallel planet or something? Have you forgotten the current “president” George II already? (Or the Shadow President Cheney who’s pulling his strings?)

    The most anti-science candidate ever is “Shrubya” George W. Bush the Mad with that Planetarium-hating & creationist-partnering fool McCain as the next worst.

    BrianX Said on October 7th, 2008 at 11:38 pm
    “quasidog:

    It may seem obvious to you (hell, you’d think it looks obvious by looking at fivethirtyeight or electoral-vote), but I don’t think anyone on the Obama side is calling this one in the bag, not after the widespread corruption of the last two cycles. In fact, a great many of us liberals are convinced that the fix is in. Hell, I still think the fix was in in 2006 and the Democrats retook Congress in spite of it.”

    I’ve got a horrible sinking feeling that the Republican party re-election plan involves war breaking out before the end of Bush Junior’s term with an incident being provoked or manufactured. My prediction is either the USA directly or its proxy Israel will be launch a war on, probably Iran and, possibly, also other unfortunate South-West Asian nations before Bush the Lesser departs.

    Then they’ll use the “we’re at war,can’t change, patriotism as scoundrels last refuge” excuse to either re-elect their puppet ( & I don’t think Bush or McCain are more than figureheads on a very dark and nasty iceberg) – or postpone or even cancel the election entirely.

    Maybe this sounds paranoid but its not like there’s no precedent -Iraq for one. I wouldn’t paut itpast them -the NeoCon’s really are that evil.

    I think the best thing the Democratic party – & Americans in general – can do now is act immediately to impeach Bush and his puppet-masters without any delay!

    Why this hasn’t already happpened is something I find utterly staggering given the seriousness of Bush’es misconduct and the crimes of his regime.

    Nations posing you no threat have been wrongly invaded and destroyed.

    Hundreds of thousands of innocent people – & US soldiers – have been killed and maimed and had their lives ruined.

    Yet this “president” gets away scot-free!?

    Whereas Clinton was facing impeachment simply by lying over a consensual sexual affair that hurt no-one physically and only a few people emotionally.

    How the blazes does that make any sort of sense?!!

  145. StevoR

    Oh & Dave you were right about one thing :

    “Nice Presidental Candidate you got there, Phil.”

    Yes Barack Obama is the best US Presidential candidate for a very long time. There hasn’t been an American politican this good since JFK! ;-) :-P

    But you reverted to your usual completely wrong status when you ranted about your next president -lets hope :

    “The only thing of note he’s done in his life, apart from hanging around a racist church for 20 years, to is fund the murderous ideas of a terrorist.”

    Not true.

    1) Obama has been a Senator passing,asmending and preventing many bills from becoming law.

    2) Obama won the Democratic Party nomination for President beating Hiliary Clinton and a whole lot of others.

    Plus

    3) Obama’s written a book, “Audacity of Hope’

    4) given inspirational speeches, and
    5) his campaign has changed the culture creating new hope for the UnitedStates and World communities.

    As for your Retardican parties mud-slinging slanders – you are just plain wrong and offensive.

    Obama’s church may not be your or my idea of the perfect church (ceraytinly notmine as I’m against all organised religions) but racist? Not exactly. More like anti-racist actually in having affirmative action maybe & from recognising the realities facing the African -American community.

    And the “weatherman” humbug? Sheesh. Obama was 8 at the time and hardly knew the guy- then or later. If that’s not the Retardicans going for a new low in longest dirty scraping at the bottom of the barrel gutter politics then I don’t know what is …

  146. StevoR

    Doh! Italics. Grrr …

    ****

    Oh & Dave you were right about one thing :

    “Nice Presidental Candidate you got there, Phil.”

    Yes Barack Obama is the best US Presidential candidate for a very long time. There hasn’t been an American politican this good since JFK! ;-) :-P

  147. KARL

    PHIL,DO YOU HAVE THE CAPACITY TO PROCESS THOUGHTS OR DO YOU JUST PUSH THE BUTTONS IN FRONT OF YOU? YOUR IGNORANCE OVERWHELMS ME.YOU WILL SAY ANYTHING TO DISCREDIT JOHN MCCAIN..SHAME ON YOU AND DISCOVER MAGAZINE!

  148. IVAN3MAN

    Oh, Gordon Bennett! :roll:

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