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Federal Science Gets More Politicized

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the fact-based-policy-making dept.

Republicans 567

amigoro writes to let us know about the noise a group of scientists is making to call attention to Executive Order 13422, going into effect today, that gives political appointees final say regarding science-based federal agency regulations. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote a letter to two Senate committee chairs urging that questions about this executive order be asked at the confirmation hearings for the nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget. "UCS urged the Senate committee to ask [the nominee] Mr. Nussle how he would ensure that political appointees would not interfere with the work of agency scientists." Late last month the House voted to prohibit the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from spending federal money on Executive Order 13422. Democrats called the order a "power grab."

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So... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975659)

When are you guys going to re-take your country?

Re:So... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975701)

The worst terrorist attack in recorded history occurred nearly a year ago, followed by a Holy War against Islam, and now Israel and the Palestinians as well as India and Pakistan are teetering on the brink of their own war, Argentina is in the midst of a financial crisis, America is considering launching attacks against Somalia and Iraq, and you people have the gall to be discussing the politics of federally funded Science???? My *god*, people, GET SOME PRIORITIES!

The bodies of the thousands of innocent civilians who died (and will die) in these unprecedented events could give a good god damn about federally funded Science (considering it's of no use to them SINCE THEY'RE DEAD), your childish Lego models, your nerf toy guns and whining about the lack of a "fun" workplace, your Everquest/Diablo/D&D fixation, the latest Cowboy Bebop rerun, or any of the other ways you are "getting on with your life" (here's a hint: watching Cowboy Bebop in your jammies and eating a bowl of Shreddies is *not* "getting on with your life"). The souls of the victims are watching in horror as you people squander your finite, precious time on this earth playing video games!

You people disgust me!

Re:So... (5, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975793)

When are you guys going to re-take your country?

They can't. Intelligent voters are about 1% of the population.

Re:So... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975883)

We need to entice the other 99% with more reality shows and fried twinkies.

Optimist (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975903)

Intelligent voters are about 1% of the population.
No, voters are about 30% of the population, intelligent citizens are maybe 3% of the population, but you have yet to demonstrate that the intersection of the two sets is non-null.

Re:Optimist (3, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976103)

No, voters are about 30% of the population, intelligent citizens are maybe 3% of the population, but you have yet to demonstrate that the intersection of the two sets is non-null.

The answer is simple. If you don't vote, don't count yourself as "intelligent".

Re:So... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975843)

When the niggers raped the women I remained silent because I wasn't a woman
When the niggers raped the children I remained silent because I wasn't a child
When the niggers raped the other niggers I remained silent because I wasn't a nigger
When the niggers raped me, I couldn't speak because there were 4 black cocks in my mouth.

Ow, my ass hurts and my jaw is broken.

Surprised? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975663)

I can't imagine how it would be possible to fund anything through tax money and not expect the outcome to be determined by the power elite who control that money.

Re:Surprised? (5, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975837)

Sometimes the greatest wisdom is to simply say, "I don't know, but this is my best effort, and I'm ready to be corrected."

The most dangerous facet of this administration has been their certainty in every single thing they do, and their machinations to give that certainty free reign in every way possible.

Re:Surprised? (3, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976093)

Sometimes the greatest wisdom is to simply say, "I don't know, but this is my best effort, and I'm ready to be corrected."

I know. If only the other guys would say that more often, since they are always wrong.

Expecting our side to say that? Well, that's just plain ignorant!

Re:Surprised? (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976351)

Please. Plenty of leaders regardless of party say that. Reagen in my opinion was particularly good at recognizing when his ideals didn't mesh with reality on the ground. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, are all way off the charts of believing that whatever they think is right is right regardless of what anyone else says or what actually happens. Nobody has been as completely brazen about ignoring the advice of experts within their own administration telling them that their pet theories are wrong. Has there been a single failure in Iraq that was not predicted in advance by experts, including top generals? Even members of Rumsfeld's office were trying to prepare for the obvious problems, but he forbid them from doing so because he believed it wasn't necessary.

I'm serious, drop the "oh, everyone thinks their party is great and hates the other guy" bullshit. It's crap. If you don't realize that Bush's administration is running on pure ideology and letting not a single fact get in their way, you're just not paying attention. If you care about what party they are in, then you're a partisan stooge. If you don't care, you're just ignorant. I don't care which is the case -- wake up, and stop saying "the other guy is just as bad, so this guy is okay". That's a lame and meaningless excuse. Start looking at the actual person, the actual decisions being made, the disconnection from reality that is by now well documented, the continuous stream of former officials saying they didn't know jack shit. I suppose they all just hate bush because he's a republican too. Or maybe, just maybe, what the evidence seems to say is actually true: The country is being run by idiots who think ideology trumps reality and thus reality can be ignored.

Oh, so it's OK then! (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975855)

Thank goodness. We're off the hook!

Re:Surprised? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975961)


When the niggers raped the women I remained silent because I wasn't a woman
When the niggers raped the children I remained silent because I wasn't a child
When the niggers raped the other niggers I remained silent because I wasn't a nigger
When the niggers raped me, I couldn't speak because there were 4 black cocks in my mouth.

Ow, my ass hurts and my jaw is broken.

Re:Surprised? (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975997)

I'm sure the gang of internet trolls ranting "conspiracy theory" would be more than happy to explain it to you since they always follow me around.

Oh that's insightful (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976019)

Just define those who control taxes (our elected officials, mind you) as "The Power Elite" and you've got an instant "argument" against government and taxes.

OOOOh! Scary! Our taxes are controlled by the Power Elite! (whoever they are, you know, the all purpose Bad Guys. The Man!) So all taxes are bad because they never do anything good for The People, only for the Power Elite. And all government is bad because it runs on taxes! Therefore (let me guess) Libertarianism is the only way to Freedom and Justice! Am I right?

You know, there are actually cogent arguments against our form of government, and against a system of taxation enforced through the threat of violence. Not saying I buy them, just that in comparison to your argument, they're decent and well thought out.

Re:Surprised? (2, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976051)

Should the populace expect, even cynically, such behaviour from their politicians the shady machinations shall become all the more easier to execute. Anything less than outrage and strong disapproval of these states of affairs mean silent, obedient consent for these machinations, even if a cynical worldview would happen to be realistic.

-- Thomas Jefferson^W^WMyself (What, you only listen to quotes if the person has long since passed away?)

Re:Surprised? (2, Interesting)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976073)

I can't imagine how it would be possible to fund anything through tax money and not expect the outcome to be determined by the power elite who control that money.

Simple! All one needs is a dominant national culture that demands political accountability and effectiveness while staying vigilant and involved enough to ensure these outcomes, instead of a culture of lowered expectations that grunts, "them gummint bastards are all thieves anyway, shoot 'em all" while reaching for the next beer and the remote control/mouse/DVD.

And, while I'm at it, I'd really like a pony.

Re:Surprised? (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976185)

I can't imagine how it would be possible to fund anything through tax money and not expect the outcome to be determined by the power elite who control that money.

Except that until now, the outcome has not been controlled by the people who control the money; it's been controlled by people hired by the people who control the money, and given the authority to do as they see fit.

This is a lesson that every businessman worth his salt learns early in his career: don't micromanage. Just because you pay the bills doesn't mean that it's appropriate for you to tell your employees how to do their jobs. Hire smart people, make sure they understand the overall goals of the organization, and give them a free hand. If they screw up, that means you hired the wrong people; it does not mean you should try to control every detail of how the job is done.

And it's a lesson the US government learned too, once upon a time -- but now, under our MBA President, is busily unlearning, like just about every other lesson on good governance which history can provide.

Disappointed But Not Surprised (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976191)

You don't need to use your imagination, Anonymous Republican operative Coward. You can look at the last 218 years of America's government, and see that it's never been anywhere near this bad. Even though tax money has always funded the government, and been determined by the "power elite" who control that money.

Because the proper and usual traditional functioning of the US government has not been through the power monopoly that Bush's Republicans had for the last 6 years. Following 6 years just controlling Congress, after 12 years controlling just the White House, which came 5 years after Nixon got kicked out for trying a smaller-scale tyranny.

The Constitution balances conflicting powers to control that money. But Bush/Cheney's government has united all the power into a "unitary executive" [wikipedia.org] exploit of weaknesses of our system: a king and his court routinely ignoring Congress, rigging/endrunning the courts and making "laws" without the process that don't apply to them when they break them.

Congress has to impeach these criminal tyrants. That might surprise you, Anonymous Republican operative Coward, because you thought impeachment was just to attack a popular president. But anyone else who cares about our Constitutional democratic republic should have seen it coming for a long, long time.

Re:Surprised? (2, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976201)

I can't imagine how it would be possible to fund anything through tax money and not expect the outcome to be determined by the power elite who control that money.

It's fair enough to assert that control has to be exerted somewhere in any exchange of money, even where that money is being used for the good of all. But I think this stance assumes far more than that - I think you're assuming that ANY administration of ANY government using ANY tax system is inherently going to be ultra-biased and spend that money to promote their own causes at the pure cost of everyone paying taxes.

Science has value. Value that doesn't tend to happen without public investment. Value that doesn't promise a financial return - only more questions.

Governments matter. When they quash an environment of open scientific inquiry for their own petty goals, they crush that value that can come from science.

Also, bias isn't really the issue - a person can be as biased as they can be, so long as their data and circumstances can be openly reproduced by others, and they don't act to cut off the results other get in any way.

Costs are inevitable in life. You can live on your own resources in a harsh world paying for every person you need to interact with, or you can cooperate with others to build roads and an environment you can all live in. Taxes are the imperfect result of what humanity has done to build a world for itself. Science is our shared resource for what reliable evidence we have for how the world works. It ends up being a drastically lower cost to everyone to cooperate on many resources, than it is for everyone own their own slice of everything - especially when it comes to the evidential truths of the universe.

Dismissing the loss of science, because you disagree that any government should pay for it sounds like me like a man disingenuous man complaining that the rest of the world wants to cooperate to paint a (evidence based) larger picture for everyone. The reason? You don't like to see them wasting paint.

Ryan Fenton

Control vs. Frameworks (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976339)

Political organizations are supposed to define policies, management should be left to managers, and actual work should be left to the workforce.

Sun Tzu's classic document "Art of War" makes it very clear that you should NEVER have a politician actually commanding the armed services. The same logic goes for all other departments. Politicians are very good for looking at the big picture (well, in theory) in a way that specialists in individual fields cannot. That makes them good for determining priorities, allocating resources, setting long-term objectives, etc. But once they have issued those decisions, the rest should be entirely left to those who are competent in the field -- with one exception. Governing entitles politicians to penalize those who violate the rules necessary for a coherent organization.

The modern idea that politicians should be in control is a bastardization of the entire concept of a democracy or republic. Plato's Republic is a little dated, but does explain the difference between a ruling class and a governing class. This is an important distinction and one that many have apparently forgotten. Rulers rule. They impose. That is their nature, that is their job. If that is how you see American politics, then you are saying America has an elected monarch. (I believe the archaic term is Bretwalda, and yes elected kings have existed throughout history.) Governors govern. If the populace is the clay and the civil service are the artists, the government is nothing more than an art critic sponsoring the latest work. Nothing more.

Now, personally I don't believe that quality government exists. Here, there, or anywhere. I also generally believe that most existing Governments in the world are indeed elected monarchies... with the rest being hereditary monarchies, dictatorships and fiefdoms of various sorts. Despite the roots of constitutional law being over 5,000 years old, the notions of democracy reaching back over 2,500 years and the concept of politics as a science being studied and researched for many centuries, I can recall no time in history or in the modern world where anyone has actually applied any of these ideas.

To me, the question boils down to this. If everyone in America treats the Federal Government like a kingdom and the States like princedoms (yes, the term does exist), why not cut to the chase and cut costs at the same time by declaring it such? If people truly, honestly, believe that's what they have, then what are they going to miss by making it official? If, however, you believe that the Government is truly restricted to governing and nothing else, then you not only should imagine the government spending tax money without controlling how it is spent, you should require it.

Re:Control vs. Frameworks (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976431)

Now, personally I don't believe that quality government exists. Here, there, or anywhere. I also generally believe that most existing Governments in the world are indeed elected monarchies... with the rest being hereditary monarchies, dictatorships and fiefdoms of various sorts.
I agree with the sentiment which you have expressed.

I am making note of your post mostly as a way to illustrate that, had I posted similar material, I would have been deluged with trolls ranting "conspiracy theory", demanding evidence, demanding links, and making any number of personal attacks on me throughout the course of their vitriol filled diatribe.

That they have not yet responded to you illustrates that they have targetted me, deliberately and repeatedly, over the last six months to the exclusion of other users on this system expressing the same or similar points of view. This is direct evidence of harassment and stalking across an electronic medium.

Re:Surprised? (2, Interesting)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976495)


Funny thing. I find this to be a very common response from people who voted for these clowns, when confronted with any of the endless examples like this. It sort of sounds like "it's all a bunch of crap so nothing matters". As if there aren't degrees of good or bad.

In my country, a (now convicted) businessman started a national newspaper with the explicit goal of convincing people of his political views. When you ask people whether this is really a good source of political news, they respond with a similar sort of 'nothing matters' argument: there is no such thing as objective so what does it matter.

I actually don't think you really are nihilists - I think its just an easy thing to say when you want the issue to go away.

Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975665)

I love how slashdot has become kdawson's personal political blog. So typical that the anti-republican, anti-bush stories get front page attention from him.

Is it any wonder what his political affiliations are from his story selections? Why do some editors use slashdot as their own soapbox? This stuff belongs in a journal or dailykos dairy, not here. The UCS is a notorious left wing group, yet slashdot posts news from them like its fact and that they represent all scientists.

News for nerds my ass. This place has turned into slashkos, lefty political slams by kdawson, for kdawson. Someone please stop him before he gets worse than michael ever did.

Why do I get the feeling... (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975867)

that the parent poster has an agenda... hmmm? :)

Anyway -

So typical that the anti-republican, anti-bush stories get front page attention from him.

I don't know, maybe because a lot of slashdotters are anti-republican and anti-bush (and also anti-congress lobbying by the RIAA,anti-bipartisan and anti-big brother)?

News for nerds my ass.

Just because we're nerds doesn't mean we don't care about politics. In fact, we SHOULD care.

Re:Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975875)

Are you saying that as a republican, you don't mind a little censorship, as long it used to promote our corporate ideals?
Why exactly do you love bush so much?

Re:Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975963)

Politicians are the absolute worst scientists. If you were any kind of nerd you'd fucking know that.

Re:Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976043)

> The UCS is a notorious left wing group

Truth does have a liberal bias.

Oh, you've got a few folks pushing creationism, yeah. Big luminaries in science, those folks.

Re:Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976105)

I get it, we are supposed to think everything is OK and just go back to sleep. Why didn't you say that to begin with?

Re:Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976221)

Quit trying to make sense. Don't you realize that Bush is the reason babies die. When his term ends, everything will be all butterflies and puppy dogs. Either that, or somebody else will now be the reason babies die and the whiners will continue.

Re:Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (1, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976277)

When you find a Republican position which either is well-supported by science, or supportive of science, let us know, okay?

Re:Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976455)

Nuclear power. The UCS is against it even though it is safer and cleaner than other sources. I just OWNED YOU BITCH!!. Go back to school, little boy.

Re:Slashkos aka kdawson the political hack (1)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976325)

You don't think abandoning scientific research methodology in behalf of political agendas is "news for nerds"?

I do.

white house edits (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975673)

scientists: car exhaust and industrial pollutants have caused increased rates of cancer in the Los Angelos area. white house edit: car exhaust and industrial pollutants have not caused increased rates of cancer in the LA area. do you think they'll abuse this?

Re:white house edits (4, Informative)

inKubus (199753) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975751)

This reminds me of Soviet Russia or a dictatorship. Having a political "officer" involved in every decision. This is why we hire experts, educate people, etc. Granted, a headless horse may not move quite right. So it's a toss up. I can see the reasons why, to consolidate power in the government from top to bottom and make it move as one. Great. Gone are the bureaucratic stumble blocks which kept us from moving forward with good ideas. Gone are the bureaucratic stumble blocks which kept us from moving forward with BAD ideas.............

Re:white house edits (1, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975865)

This reminds me of Soviet Russia or a dictatorship. Having a political "officer" involved in every decision.

Your point is well taken, but replace "political officer" with "scientist" and see if it sounds any better. Remember that unlike Soviet Russia or a dictatorship, in the US, "political officers" are elected directly or appointed by someone elected. Elected officials are beholden to the electorate and the Constitution. Scientists are not elected and have taken no oath to the Constitution. So while I don't trust politicians either, at least I can hold them to the Constitution or vote them out of office. I have no such power over scientists.

Re:white house edits (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975981)

replace scientist with "stupid people with pork" 'cause that's what we've got here.
-nB

Re:white house edits (0, Flamebait)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975987)

No, I think he has it correct in saying political official.

I got a degree in Electrical Engineering, but I have been doing computer programming ever since. So 'technically' I am an electrical engineer, but in reality I am a computer programmer.

So in the above example, he is correct in saying political official. Even though 'technically' this person may be a scientist with a degree and everything, they are a political official once they take that office. Given Bush's track record of appointees, like Harriet Ellan Miers, supreme court nominee, I'd say this is more of a tactic to shut up the scientific community.

Of course you trolling republicans, who like to mod posts down that differentiate from your political views, will probably mod this down. So I hope that the trolls that mod this down have their dicks fall, their families die, and their lives turned all f***ed up because of the bad decisions of this 'leader' they choose to follow.

Re:white house edits (1, Insightful)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976007)

huh? We're in the U.S. we're all equally bound by the constitution whether janitor or senator. It really matters not, scientists shouldn't be making decisions about public policy but they certainly should be making their recommendations unaltered by publicly elected officials.

I see no reason to change how this works as that's pretty much how it exists today. Unfortunately that means the publicly elected officials invariably listen to corporate wants more than what is best for the most people. It's the price we pay as we can elect somebody else if our representative is bad enough to warrant a change. Of course with political parties mucking up the whole thing the issue gets more complicated with seniority and affiliation affecting appointments to committees.

I think we agree on this issue though in that scientists are not the right people to be making decisions about public policy but their voice is certainly worth hearing along with the people adversely affected by the proposed changes. Change is hard, and in my mind, it should be.

Re:white house edits (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976081)

> we're all equally bound by the constitution whether janitor or senator.

Well actually, the Senator has sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. But it's really just for show, it's not like violating it has any real consequences.

Re:white house edits (0)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976267)

I agree with your expressed sentiment.

I am responding only to note that your comment has not been followed up by ACs posting vitriol filled rants in response to your comment. Had I posted the same, or a similar, comment I would be hounded endlessly with rants decrying "conspiracy theory" and deluging me with personal insults.

There is a group of dedicated internet harassers on Slashdot and they choose to follow me to the exclusion of all other users.

Re:white house edits (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976501)

I hope they succeed. I'm tired of reading about your paranoid persecution complex.

Re:white house edits (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976419)

I really should have added to my text to include the fact that the constitution only applies to what the government can do to the people. The constitution is not what makes it a bad decision to let scientists make decisions, it's the accountability involved in a publicly elected official that makes it the right person to make the hopefully informed decision.

Of course your statement is quite correct and it was entirely my fault for being unclear.

Re:white house edits (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976483)

I really should have added to my text to include the fact that the constitution only applies to what the government can do to the people. The constitution is not what makes it a bad decision to let scientists make decisions, it's the accountability involved in a publicly elected official that makes it the right person to make the hopefully informed decision.

Of course your statement is quite correct and it was entirely my fault for being unclear.


I was going to comment, but then I realized I better keep my mouth shut since my history credentials includes getting B's in college history and having a freaky relationship with a women's history major. (Better to keep my mouth shut and thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.)

Re:white house edits (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976059)

So while I don't trust politicians either, at least I can hold them to the Constitution or vote them out of office. I have no such power over scientists.
I think the last 20 years have shown rather thoroughly that, no matter what the politicians do, you still don't have any power over them.

You don't get to vote the dog out of office... the ringmaster allows the pony to win this time.

Re:white house edits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976303)

I think the last 20 years have shown rather thoroughly that, no matter what the politicians do, you still don't have any power over them.
Someone needs to brush up on their history.

Re:white house edits (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976077)

I have no such power over scientists.

That's because you are not a scientist. Peer review is far more effective than elections, it's just really damn slow.

Re:white house edits (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976197)

Remember that unlike Soviet Russia or a dictatorship, in the US, "political officers" are elected directly or appointed by someone elected

A political apointee is elected? wellt hats news to me, when did they redefine the word apointee.

Re:white house edits (1)

Marillion (33728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976463)

Well .... mostly

There are many positions within the US Federal Government which are considered "Officer" positions. These are directly analogous to military officers. In fact, people who hold these positions are eligible to use military officer quarters and services if their duty requires them to visit a military installation. These positions, in the corporate world would be similar to Manager or Director roles in the private sector.

All "Officers" of the US Federal Government, military or otherwise have to go through an appointment process. And they are approved by the US Senate. 99% of the time, these are non-political appointments who never met nor would ever meet the elected representatives who "appointed" and "approved" them. The news never covers these. These are also done in bulk - Thousands at a time.

Furthermore, USC 5 sect 3331 [gpo.gov] details the oath all government officers are required to take. This oath usually done in writing.

Re:white house edits (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975957)

This reminds me of Soviet Russia or a dictatorship. Having a political "officer" involved in every decision.

Yes, this is exactly what happens when the government controls the purse-strings.

How to fix it... how to fix it... hmmm....

Re:white house edits (2, Insightful)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976395)

This reminds me of Soviet Russia or a dictatorship. Having a political "officer" involved in every decision. This is why we hire experts, educate people, etc.

Imagine that: politicians in government.

The directive, according to TFA, "bans any regulation from moving forward without the approval of an agency's regulatory policy officer, who would be a political appointee."

Uh, isn't this a good thing? The alternative would be some guy hired for the job by some random person. This guy would have no accountability to anybody but his boss, who could also have little accountability.

This new directive will make politicians who appoint these people responsible for the actions of the department.

Regulation shouldn't move forward unless our elected officials say so. I'm shocked this wasn't in place before. I really hope they don't have any more agencies where this is necessary.

I mean, imagine a person writing regulations that affect your life who aren't even accountable to the person you voted for. Yes, it's bad to give the president more power, but if there's regulation happening, I want it under someone directly or indirectly accountable to the people. Having them appointed by an elected official is good enough. If it were up to me, I wouldn't even have most of these agencies, but since everyone loves government these days, I'll settle for accountability.

I think this group who wrote the article (UCS) is pretty obviously writing this article because they fear Bush (and specifically Bush, look at their site [ucsusa.org] ) will use this power to further bring this government away from environmental protection. That's a valid concern, but you can't have it both ways: either the government can regulate the environment, or they can't.

If you want to grant the government the power to mess things up, you have to accept that the people you elect may use that power.

Re:white house edits (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975775)

scientists: car exhaust and industrial pollutants have caused increased rates of cancer in the Los Angelos area. white house edit: car exhaust and industrial pollutants have not caused increased rates of cancer in the LA area. do you think they'll abuse this?

I think you are missing the point. The point is that the Feds create Federal Regulations, based on scientific findings, not the scientists. Using your example, the logical solution to the pollutant problem would be to ban automobiles. Should scientists be able to make into law? Of course not. It's the legislature's job to make legislation based on the will of the people. It's the scientists job to make scientific discoveries. Scientists take no oath to the Constitution and are not bound by it.

Re:white house edits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975885)

New Moderator Guidelines:
Bush Bad=Insightful
Bush Good=Troll
Troll/flamebait isn't about what you say. It's about how you say it. What your sig fails to explain are conservatives who get upmodded.

Re:white house edits (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976249)

I think you are missing the point. The point is that the Feds create Federal Regulations, based on scientific findings, not the scientists. Using your example, the logical solution to the pollutant problem would be to ban automobiles. Should scientists be able to make into law?

A lot of people here appear to have difficulty discerning between legislation and regulation.

Almost exclusively, regulation is the purview of experts working for federal agencies, who are often scientists. They decide safe levels of carcinogens in the air, the proper distance between two joists, the proper composition of roadway materials, how often a nuclear plant gets inspected and sundry other things about which politicians know exactly Jack Squat. There is no place in their work for political considerations.

Federal Agencies don't make law. But they do make recommendations that can be taken into committee, so that law-makers can make law. That's as it should be. These law-makers - your elected representatives - do not need political handlers to interpose themselves between them and the scientists. They have staff for that. Committee members are usually responsible for making an extra effort (pace, Ted Stevens) to understand the technical details of particular bills, and to consider them line by line.

So exactly what useful role would politically-appointed overseers have, save to intrude on a process that doesn't need them, in order to ensure political influence over activities that already have an appropriate balance between technical and political considerations?

I'm fine with it... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975695)

if it means that we finally get the accountability that Bush promised to us 7 years ago, then sure, go ahead and make his appointees actually have to approve and be responsible for the actions of their departments. No more heads of agencies going "LOL Dunno \O.o/" whenever someone gets fired for reasons unexplained, no more agencies doing a "heck of a job" by spending more time blaming everyone else than doing their own damn job.

Chances are, though, this executive order does absolutely nothing to hold Bush's administration members responsible for their actions.

Re:I'm fine with it... - Well, I'm not. (1)

Pinkfud (781828) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976355)

Political hacks "rewording" scientific findings to suit their own purposes is exactly why we now have so many environmental problems. And one Al Gore hasn't helped that situation one bit. We need to listen to REAL scientists who MIGHT actually have some idea what we should do. But with all the government interference, the real stuff keeps getting drowned out by bogus scare tactics. Oh shit, I sound like a dork here and I'll probably get flamed for it. But I am a "real" scientist. And I know what we should do about global warming, just as I know we won't do it. Because too many special interests want their profit more than they want the world to survive. Sorry, it's a sore topic with me. I hate political "peer review" screwing over the real work. Only PEERS should do peer review.

great (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975697)

Now that Mr President can control scientific results. A few simple changes to the laws of thermodynamics should solve all of our energy problems.

Re:great (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976279)

Perhaps Republic Congressmen should consider the consequences of allowing senior members of government, whether or elected or appointed, to suppress evidence in the name of political expediency. They did that in China under Mao, and we still don't know how many people died because of the Great Leap Forward.

Global warning is a sign of the times (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975703)

Soon Jesus will come back, and there will be flying dragons, frogs will fall from the sky and we will slowly sink further into hell, exposing people in red tailed costumes. Scary stuff. Repent now, and bow to the sky daddy.

Don't turn around. (2, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975709)

"The executive order bans any regulation from moving forward without the approval of an agency's regulatory policy officer, who would be a political appointee."

- UCS Press Release [ucsusa.org]

"Don't turn around.
Der Kommissar's [wikipedia.org] in town."
- Falco

There's an In Democratic Republic of Germany joke in there, but my regulatory political officer oversees me.

The problem is........???? (4, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975719)

Requires agencies to identify "market failures," where the private sector fell short in dealing with a problem, as a factor in proposing a rule.

I see this as a good thing. Many times Government sticks their noses in at the wrong time and end up making a problem much worse. This will allow the private sector to fix the problem before hand. And believe me, this is an incentive because the last thing many folks want is the Government coming in.

On the other hand, if we're going to talk about the mining industry (and other like them who get a free ride on the backs of the tax payer) and how they count on Government coming in to clean up their mess, I would want some penalties against the private sector when the Government is required to come in. It's just not fair for the American Tax payer to clean up the mess that the private sector causes and allow them to go away free and clear.

Except... (1)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976001)

There's no example where industry spends money that doesn't somehow contribute to their profits.

Unsafe cars provide automobiles for more people at lower prices. Safe cars are more expensive.
Forests? They have no value as trees. Company X makes paper, company Y makes furniture.

I was going to throw a similar kind of bomb about pornography, but I think you get the point.

Sadly, most of America have no clue where the dividing line between Science and Policy should be. Hell, they aren't capable of discussing the concept of a gray area between Science and Policy. Sadly, you fall in there somewhere.

Mention Bush Three times (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975725)

Yes but do they mention Bush's name three times [slashdot.org] on every page of their letter?

oh, how many books I read...... (5, Insightful)

acvh (120205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975743)

.....where in the Soviet Union a political officer was attached to just about every governmental agency, department, road crew etc.

when do we start calling a spade a spade?

Re:oh, how many books I read...... (0, Offtopic)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975773)

In NeoCon America spades call YOU!

Re:oh, how many books I read...... (2, Informative)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975893)

You know, the USSR had an embassy in Australia. Since the US has an embassy in Australia as well, clearly the US is now a marxist dictatorship. Just calling a spade a spade.

There needs to be a 'political officer' in every department in the US. Do you know why? Because this is a democracy. People elect leaders who then direct the government through their appointed agents. I presume you prefer that government agencies not be run by agents of an elected official but are instead unaccountable to the people visa vi their elected officials.

You know, that way they can do silly things like ban cigars outright without being stopped by the head of thier agency who is appointed by someone who was chosen by the people who like cigars, right?

Re:oh, how many books I read...... (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976111)

People elect leaders who then direct the government through their appointed agents.
This is reality, not Social Studies class. People do not elect leaders. Rich kids run for office: people elect the ones with lies which promise the most. Once in office they're not leaders--they're leeches on the taxpayer payroll.

Re:oh, how many books I read...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976403)

This is reality, not the Flat Earth Society. People elect leaders. Rich kids may have some amount of influence: people elect the best candidate. Once in office they're not leaches-- they're leaders on the taxpayer payroll.

Re:oh, how many books I read...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976147)

unaccountable to the people visa vi their elected officials.

Any day now we'll get the power of recall, any day now.

Until then, don't make up unsubstantiated stuff about how officials are "accountable" to the various lies they tell to get elected.

Re:oh, how many books I read...... (1)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976157)

Callling the USSR Marxist simply because they claimed to be Marxist indicates that you have fallen for Soviet propaganda. The Soviet Union was Stalinist and prior to that Leninist, but Marx himself would have been revolted at them.

This is really funny... (2, Funny)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975755)

Especially when you remember that some of these political appointees were, shall we say, totally unqualified for any job, given their only major was in law from a fundamentalist christian "university". Read (or re-read): "Are We Rome? [salon.com] "

Dear Americans: please impeach that chimp already (I am trying to stay polite here).

Dear American Scientists: I hope you'll still be able to work at a (non-federal) University. Good luck.

Dear Slashdot Republican supporters: please don't bother answering this post. Thank you.

Earth centered Universe (1)

Nonillion (266505) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975769)

Here we go back into the dark ages where the 'Earth Centered Universe' held sway for 1500 years.

Re:Earth centered Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976003)

cf. Lysenkoism [wikipedia.org]

voting on reality.... time to move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975779)

this is what you get when the people of the United States no longer value knowledge and are far more willing to believe a comfortable lie. It simply floors me that there are people that exist on this planet that actually believe they can vote on reality. Things either exist or they don't, it has nothing to do with what you want to believe. in short, you can vote/believe that you can walk on water but I am going to bet good money on science that you're going to drown in the attempt.

Re:voting on reality.... time to move (2, Insightful)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975939)

I must agree. This notion of "equal coverage for both viewpoints" has gotten out of hand. The universe exists independent of Gallup's latest poll.

Welcome: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975809)



    to the United Gulags of America [whitehouse.org] .

Re:Welcome: (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976151)

I'm going to tag this post to note that the cabal of ACs that usually rant and rave at me didn't manage to find you.

This is to support the theory that they are, indeed, a cabal of targetted harassers who pursue me to the exclusion of any other targets.

Re:Welcome: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976433)

One word: satire.

Nor more political than ever (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975845)

It's just that the current Administration has all of the subtlety and finesse of California mudslide.

An Idea (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975861)

How about a tenured [wikipedia.org] science ministry, overseeing all research funding and hirings/firings. It seems to work OK for the best research institutions in the world.

Then don't listen to the Feds. (1)

zussal (1058116) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975925)

They lie about everything anyway.

Re:Then don't listen to the Feds. (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976181)

I agree with you.

I am responding to your post only to demonstrate that there is a cabal of dedicated harassers who will target me, to the exclusion of every other user, for expressing the very same thoughts.

Had I posted what you posted there would be at least 2 AC posts following mine launhing diatribes of ridicule.

Re:Then don't listen to the Feds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19976521)

The thing about humans is that we are generally tolerant beings. Although, as with everything, there are limits.

When someone posts the same bullcrap, everyday, in a long, ranting, complaint, that tolerance wears thin. If the GP starts to exhibit your extent of delirium, have no doubt, a group of unorganized people will gradually begin to reply to him.

In related news... (1)

anarkhos (209172) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975927)

Government is political.

More news at 10

Re:In related news... (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976199)

And then at 11, stay tuned for our in-depth news special where we amaze and mystify our viewers with the fact that it is politicians who are to set policy, such as federal agency regulations, not scientists.

You'all know what "G.O.P." stands for, right? (2, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 7 years ago | (#19975975)

Graft

Oubliettes

and

Pollution

(Thanks, Joel!)

Screenwriter and comic John Rogers wrote a great polemic called "I Miss Republicans," [blogspot.com] ruing the disappearance of practical, technocratic Republicans in favor of the screwball ideologues:

No, seriously. Remember Republicans? Sober men in suits, pipes, who'd nod thoughtfully over their latest tract on market-driven fiscal conservatism while grinding out the numbers on rocket science. Remember those serious-looking 1950's-1960's science guys in the movies -- Republican to a one.

They were the grown-ups. They were the realists. Sure they were a bummer, maaaaan, but on the way to La Revolution you need somebody to remember where you parked the car. I was never one (nor a Democrat, really, more an agnostic libertarian big on the social contract, but we don't have a party ...), but I genuinely liked them.

How did they become the party of fairy dust and make believe? How did they become the anti-science guys? The anti-fact guys? The anti-logic guys?


Sorry, folks, this isn't "business as usual" or "a pendulum swing" we don't have to worry about because it will swing back. It's the Wedge Strategy. It's Lysenkoism. It's the Ministry of Truth. It's 24 year old college drop-outs micromanaging NASA scientists' press activity.

Get government out of science (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19975999)

This type of interference with science was always possible under government-funded science; it has simply become more common and obvious in recent years. Even if you replace the current crop of crooks in Washington, the politicians who control the money will still be a threat to the process.

And as long as it's our tax money, it's right they oversee how it is spent, in accordance with our wishes -- even if our wishes are irrational. Our money should not be spent in the pursuit or correct over incorrect, accurate over inaccurate; it should be spent however the fuck We The People want it, integrity and scientists' opinions be damned. Government must work that way when it comes to our involuntarily-paid money, or we're screwed.

And yet, that is incompatible with science. Science unlike politics, isn't about what we want or what is fair; it's about how things are.

The only resolution that is compatible with the needs of science and the needs of fair politics, is to stop spending tax money on science. Give your money to a private foundation instead of the tax man.

Tax man, stop collecting it. We'll decide what scientific pursuits are worth funding on our own, without guns to our heads. And yeah, we'll probably all go in different directions. It will be wonderful.

Re:Get government out of science (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976239)

How is one to govern without accurate information? How is one to assess the accuracy of information without a methodology? If one, for instance, wishes to assure that vital crops will not fall victim to serious viral, bacterial or fungal plagues, and thus effect the well-being of the people, then one is going to need to fund science.

What you advocate is essentially the permission for government to define data in any politically expedient way, or even to ignore or manufacture data. That has been tried. Just look up Lysenkoism and what it produced in the USSR.

The group that politicized science complains... (1, Troll)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976005)

because science has become politicized. They started promoting a political agenda by the 80's (I think they actually started doing so from day one, but I'm not sure), by lobbying against SDI. SDI was many things, but it was not a science issue. The UCS starts with a political agenda and then looks for science to back it up. The UCS support for Global Warming is one of the reasons I have been so skeptical of it. I used to give a lot of creditability to UCS, then I noticed that they always oppose Republicans and usually support Democrats (I would say always, but I might have missed the occasional opposition to a Democrat idea).

Re:The group that politicized science complains... (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976237)

I used to give a lot of creditability to UCS, then I noticed that they always oppose Republicans and usually support Democrats (I would say always, but I might have missed the occasional opposition to a Democrat idea).

A bunch of really smart people whose job it is to study the world in careful detail through the analysis of data notices that the data tend to support Democratic positions over Republican ones. Imagine that.

Re:The group that politicized science complains... (4, Insightful)

Ardeaem (625311) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976377)

Science, because it is a principled method of determining how the world works, SHOULD have an influence over policy. However, policy and ideology should not have an influence over science. But this is what the Bush administration wants. A major problem with SDI, as many saw it, is that it was a massive waste of money. Scientists and engineers, who are the authorities on this matter, saw that the system was largely unworkable and required a huge amount of money. It is reasonable for them to have their say. This is science having an influence over policy. (I will not deny that some had other motives, and to the extent that scientists confused political arguments and scientific arguments, they were wrong.)

However, it is NOT reasonable for political considerations or the favor of particular individuals and industries to affect scientific reasoning. I also reject the notion that every organization should support Republicans and Democrats equally. If you are anti-abortion and that is an important issue for you, you would be unprincipled to support most Democrats. Likewise, it appears to me a pro-science citizen should lean toward the Democrats more often than not. Between evolution, climate change, AIDS, and sex education, and several other issues I could name, frankly, it would be hard to pick a worse party than the Republicans.

It is silly to think that "fair" people should always be split 50% between Republicans and Democrats. It all depends on the issue at hand.

Impeach the Criminal Tyrants Already (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976109)

We need Congress to impeach Bush/Cheney already. This national nightmare has gone on far too long.

Re:Impeach the Criminal Tyrants Already (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976225)

I agree with you.

I am responding to your post only to note that, had I posted a similar comment, I would have by now at least 2 AC posts with diatribes full of venom laden rants and demands for evidence and justification as well as personal insults.

This is to add evidence to the existing pile that there is a group of dedicated internet harassers who target me, specifically, to the exclusion of other members on this website who express similar opinions.

Once upon a time... (5, Interesting)

NIN1385 (760712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976121)

Once upon a time in a land far far away, I was helping Mr. Nussle record a radio ad that he was recording in response to his candidate attacking him. I watched him go over the script and when he got done reading some of the critical points he just looked at me and rolled his eyes and muttered "Yeah, right." I simply grinned as to not reveal what I really thought of that statement and his character.

I was very happy the day I was able to cast my vote against him and he lost because I got to see the true side of this man and do something about it. People would be shocked and awed (sorry for the terminology) if they heard half the crap that comes out of these politician's mouthes.

Right now Michael Vick is in big trouble over a dog fighting ring he was in the middle of, and the first thing the media jumps all over is how we hold our athletes to such high standards. Well, when politicians are caught lying, cheating, stealing and whatever else they ALL do... I cannot help but wonder why the media doesn't ask why we hold our politicians to such high standards as well.

I don't think we will ever know the answer to this unless some real political and campaign finance reform is put into place, but I like to ask questions. I still blame the fluoride.

Private sector (2, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976229)

One of the worst areas of this is where it asks for justification of where the private sector has failed, but of course leaves the judgement of the failure up to the executive. So lets ask ourselves

Climate Change v Car Industry & Exxon
Evolution v Some Christian Fundy "private" research organisation
Effect of Torture v Halliburton

Saying that you have to prove where private research has failed is just offering those corporations a blank cheque to perform dodgy research. Federally funded research on things like Smoking, Asbestos, Drugs and more have consistently held private corporations to account specifically because they could start research on the basis of questioning data rather than having actual proof of failure.

It takes research to disprove a theory, unfortunately this is effectively about invalidating the scientific method. By requiring people to demonstrate failure of a theory BEFORE THEY HAVE DONE THE RESEARCH quite neatly makes sure that corporate research cannot be questioned.

Astonishingly dreadful

Stay and Fight (3, Informative)

shma (863063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976231)

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's well documented how the Bush administration let unqualified and biased political operatives rewrite science policy in direct contradiction to the science. The only difference is now it's official.

What I'd like to do is address anyone out there who works for one of these federal agencies. While orders like these usually result in mass resignations, it's important to remember that the Bush administration's goal is to eventually populate all levels of government with sympathetic lackeys (ex. DOJ). Any resignations play into their hands. The best way to fight this is by obstruction. Keep these people out of meetings. Go over their heads. Release all unedited documents to the public over the web. Do anything you can to get the real science out. This is the only way to keep Americans from being fed lies to support bad policy.

Political Officers are in vogue again I guess (1)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976281)

This sounds exactly like the old Soviet Political Officer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_commissar) system.

Way to go!

Mad Science: Where's the line? (1, Offtopic)

--daz-- (139799) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976311)

Ok, admittedly this is a slippery-slope argument, but Science is all about slipper-slope (sometimes good, sometimes bad) and we see it all the time from cloning research to end-of-life medicine care where the 'terminal, no more care' line keeps trending younger and younger and more and more people being condemned as not-worth-treating-anymore (look at the Netherlands).

So let's say we life the federal ban on embryonic stem-cell research funding and scientist's have a hayday creating embryos in dishes and killing them with reckless abandon and harvesting whatever they harvest.

I guarantee you that in a few years they'll realize that actually zygotes are better... "it's just a lump of cells... well more cells" everyone will say.

Pretty soon you'll have several-weeks-olds being raised in order to harvest early heart cells for cardio treatment in adults, etc. The 'lump of cells' argument won't work here, then we'll here more of the 'it's for the greater good' arguments that the unborn's rights are somehow less important than that of a 40 year old lifetime smoker who ate bacon 3 times a day, etc, etc, etc.

Where's the line? Who determines it? The Government? The Scientists? The voters? Ultimately it's the voters, I guess. But it seems that if we want any hope of having true respect for human life, we better protect it at both ends because we're giving up our rights left and *ahem* right. Pretty soon only life from 5 to 55 will be considered 'valuable' and everyone will go 'WTF OMG!!!111 PWNED!!'

Be careful what you wish for. By the time this all comes down, most of you will be in your elder years and could be headed for the chopping block.

Stupid Politicians (0, Troll)

Rostin (691447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19976505)

Here's a thought. Let's amend the constitution so that only people with PhDs in science, engineering, or math can hold office. That's the best way to guarantee that scientists, and only scientists, get to make policy decisions. This is desirable because, after all, scientists are good at science, so they must also be good at setting policy.
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