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Federal Science Gets More Politicized 567

Posted by kdawson
from the fact-based-policy-making dept.
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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Federal Science Gets More Politicized

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  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:24PM (#19975659)
    When are you guys going to re-take your country?
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:33PM (#19975793) Homepage Journal
      When are you guys going to re-take your country?

      They can't. Intelligent voters are about 1% of the population.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        We need to entice the other 99% with more reality shows and fried twinkies.
      • Optimist (Score:5, Insightful)

        by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:44PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Spy der Mann (805235)

          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:Optimist (Score:5, Insightful)

            by The Spoonman (634311) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @08:20PM (#19977769) Homepage
            The answer is simple. If you don't vote, don't count yourself as "intelligent".

            Yeah, 'cause voting counts for anything anymore. We're trapped, and he's going to seize all of the power and make himself emperor. And, yes, I still vote. I just don't see the point anymore. I don't get to vote FOR anyone anymore, just against.
            • Re:Optimist (Score:5, Funny)

              by OakDragon (885217) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @09:23PM (#19978307) Journal

              We're trapped, and he's going to seize all of the power and make himself emperor.
              Here's a challenge for you. If GWB does not step down on January 20, 2009, I will buy you breakfast. If he does step down, you will buy me breakfast.

              We don't have to meet. I will gladly pay for your breakfast if you email me a copy of your receipt. I can send you a check, or PayPal funds, whatever you would like.

              Be warned, I plan to eat a lot.

            • Re:Optimist (Score:4, Insightful)

              by jamstar7 (694492) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:12AM (#19979995)

              Yeah, 'cause voting counts for anything anymore. We're trapped, and he's going to seize all of the power and make himself emperor. And, yes, I still vote. I just don't see the point anymore. I don't get to vote FOR anyone anymore, just against.

              I haven't seen the death of the 22nd Ammendment yet, so no way he can run again. Getting a Constitutional ammendment rammed through Congress takes time, more time than what's left in his administration, even with zero resistance from the 'opposition'. This being the case, I don't see how he can legally suspend the elections next year to avoid a transfer of power. Even in a state of emergency, it isn't legal or even constitutional to suspend elections.

              Personally, I'd like to see some real candidates for a change. None of this nonsense of voting for the 'lesser evil', the problem is, the lesser evil is STILL evil.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by VJ42 (860241) *

                None of this nonsense of voting for the 'lesser evil', the problem is, the lesser evil is STILL evil.
                Why settle for the lesser evil, when you can vote for cthulhu [cthulhu.org]? ;)
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by gstoddart (321705)

                I haven't seen the death of the 22nd Ammendment yet, so no way he can run again. Getting a Constitutional ammendment rammed through Congress takes time

                Sure, actually amending it takes time.

                Getting an opinion from your Attorney General that you're allowed to completely circumvent the whole constitution takes almost no time at all. They do it all of the time. (So much so, that I'm forced to believe that Gonzales either got his law degree from a Cracker Jack box or has never actually read the constitution or

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @08:36PM (#19977901) Homepage Journal

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

        They can't. Intelligent voters are about 1% of the population.
        Sure, but I believe there's an innate sense of fairness and pragmatism in the American people that, although it takes a good long while to emerge, is pretty reliable, and fierce when unleashed.

        Most Americans, even those that can't articulate exactly why, know there's something rotten in the way things are going. I'm not talking about Republicans vs Democrats or liberals vs conservatives. Even those that voted for George Bush because they believed he would best avenge 9/11 now realize that something stinks.

        Talk radio hosts have been wetting themselves over the fact that no matter how many times they trumpet what a great booming economy we have, more than 70 percent of Americans will reliably say that things are getting worse. Polls from all sides of the political spectrum are now showing a 25 percent approval rating for George Bush, and even less for a Congress that hasn't paid off on their promise to end the war in Iraq. Ask some guy sitting in front of a TV in Central Missouri what he thinks of the testimony of Alberto Gonzales in front of Congress today, and it may pain them to say it, but their instincts tell them this is one bad actor. There may be a lot of faults in the old USA, but watching this Nation slowly wake up is a thing of beauty to behold. The people who are touting this War in Iraq and the Global War on Islamofundamentaliberalism are going to pay a heavy price in the years ahead when they're fully exposed. There are real problems in this Country, in this World, and an increasing number of Americans are figuring it out. The problem is, the reality doesn't quite jibe with what we've been told. Even the captive media, who's been reliable in their ability to prop up a corrupt system, has been losing their mojo. If we can keep the Internet fairly free from the absolute control of corporate interests, we may still have a chance to turn things around. But it means that some of us are going to have to start learning that there are more important things than iPhones and PS/3s. But if you read some of the subtexts you find in the comments around here, it's clear that an increasing number of us are starting to raise our heads and look around.

        There's a reason that the Establishment's candidate Mitt Romney has been falling on his face despite raising huge amounts of money and getting the backing of all the "Kewl Kids" in the Establishment Media. There's a reason so many people say they would never, ever, vote for Hillary Clinton despite her supposed "inevitability". And most important, despite the best efforts of pundits and phony ministers and talk radio big mouths, most Americans just don't want to walk around believing that half our fellow citizens are the Enemy. It just doesn't match up with our daily experience of one another as a basically decent sort who mostly still believe in "live and let live". Even here in Chicago, if I get a flat on my way to work, I'll have several people who stop and ask if I need help, no matter if they're driving an F150 with a yellow ribbon or a Prius with an IMPEACH sticker.

        No, there are still plenty good reasons to be optimistic about our future.
    • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @08:58PM (#19978097) Homepage Journal
      Contrary to protestations of the left, many of us Republicans like what the President is doing just fine.
  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:25PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:39PM (#19975837) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • by feepness (543479) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:00PM (#19976093) Homepage
        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? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:19PM (#19976351) Homepage
          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.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Scrameustache (459504)

            The country is being run by idiots who think ideology trumps reality and thus reality can be ignored.

            I do not believe for a single instant that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice are idiots (I'm not sure about the frontman though).
            I believe they are crimina... er... 'perfectly legal' masterminds, coldly going about their well thought out plan, and letting nothing stop them.

            They only seem like idiots if you actually believe their hearts are in the right place. They are acting perfectly rationally, and with great cunning, when you take into account that they are, well, I'd call them evil. That is what I call people

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by rewinn (647614)
              The old adage "Never attribute to malice what may be adequately explained by stupidity" should be replaced by "Never attribute to stupidity what may be adequately explained by avarice"
            • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @07:33PM (#19977269) Homepage
              I do not believe for a single instant that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice are idiots

              Oh, I do. I absolutely do. If they weren't idiots, the war would be going better. You think that wouldn't serve them? The American people would be pleased as hell to let our troops stay in Iraq for years while Halliburton builds huge army bases and all the defense contractors suck up billions of taxpayer $s, if the war were going better. They'd have their non-Saudi middle east military bases, their oil reserves locked up where our troops are close by, and a friendly government right next door to what they wanted to be their next adventure, Iran. Instead, they've botched everything up, more and more Americans are demanding we leave lucrative base-building contracts be damned, and they lost their pet Congress that was allowing them to get away with all this crap. No, no, if they were smart, they could satisfy whatever their desires are without all this blow-back. They have simply fucked up majorly because they never had any idea what they were doing.

              I used to think that they were smart but duplicitous. Then mistake after mistake after mistake after predictable mistake. When we found out that the administration had been taking most of their cues on Iraq from an Iranian agent, I knew they were fucking clueless. He told them exactly what they wanted to hear, and they believed it whole heartedly. They ignored any military adviser who told them something they didn't want to hear, such as that Rumsfeld's fast & light military strategy was retarded. They just didn't want to hear it, even though if they heard it and acted on it then their goals would have been better served. That means they're stupid.
          • I am not happy with the Dept of Homeland Security or USA PATRIOT, but, even with those issues aside, I could make the argument that in total, Bush has done more to EXTEND freedom to the American people than Democrats would have.

            a) By continually deregulating everything, Bush gives the small business owner and entrepreneur more rights, whereas Democrats would take them away. Bush has made it easier for people to use their land as they best see fit, and made it easier for business's to hire whom they want, w
            • by Izaak (31329) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:59AM (#19980213) Homepage

              I am not happy with the Dept of Homeland Security or USA PATRIOT, but, even with those issues aside, I could make the argument that in total, Bush has done more to EXTEND freedom to the American people than Democrats would have.

              This is hilarious. Even while pointing out the evidence of Bush's attack on the Constitution and our fundamental freedoms, you grasp for the opposite conclusion. Better yet, your automatic assumption that a Democratic administration (regardless of the character of those staffing it) must certainly be worse belies the very partisan bias you would accuse others of. I can only assume you are joking, that this is a parody of some sort. Nevertheless, though I come to this thread somewhat late, I think I must respond.

              a) By continually deregulating everything, Bush gives the small business owner and entrepreneur more rights, whereas Democrats would take them away. Bush has made it easier for people to use their land as they best see fit, and made it easier for business's to hire whom they want, when they want. Democrats, on the other hand, would make it harder for a person to use their land the way they want, harder for businesses to hire flexibly, and harder to adjust to market conditions for wages.

              The current climate of deregulation mostly benefits the largest corporations to the detriment of most small business owners. The best example I've run into is deregulation of the telecom industry wiping out many smaller phone and Internet companies, resulting in fewer choices, higher prices, and worse service for consumers. As a consultant and small business owner working in this industry, I've witnessed it first hand. You can find many similar examples in the energy sector, agriculture... almost anywhere you care to look.

              Rolling back environmental regulations has certainly made it easier for many big real estate developers, but this often comes at a high cost to working people. In my home town a developer pulled political strings to build a massive subdivision of condos, destroying the natural watershed that would normally be protected as a wetland. After the inevitable flooding of neighboring areas, the taxpayers were stuck paying for a massive concrete and steel water management structure to fix the problem. It cost an order of magnitude more than the condo project.

              And then there is the added medical costs we all carry as result of other environmental rollbacks. BTW, I am currently buying and renovating a Brownfield property [wikipedia.org], so I know a little bit about environmental regulations and business investment. 'Getting rid of government regulation' makes a great sound bite... but the attraction pales when the results turn up in your food or drinking water.

              b) George Bush has reaffirmed the right to revolution by changing the Justice Dept stance that 2nd Amendment implies an individual right to keep and bear arms, and backed that up by letting the assault weapons ban lapse.

              The right to bear arms is cool and all... but personally I'm a bit more concerned about my right to privacy, due process, and habeas corpus, all of which have been eliminated or seriously curtailed under Bush. Just recently in fact, Bush released an executive order saying he can seize the assets of anyone they feel are interfering with the administration's Iraq plans. No warrant necessary, no trial... gone. Yeah, I feel a lot more free.

              c) George Bush's tax cuts have allowed people to keep more of their money, and, more importantly, his cuts on the death tax allow people to decide what their life's work is for, not the government.

              Lower taxes are certainly nice, but never at the expense of higher deficits. That is unforgivably bad economic policy. Any benefit we might personally gain from those cuts is more than wiped out by the negative long term consequences (such as higher interest rates, inflation, and a weakening dollar... not to mention the obvious side effect that more
    • Thank goodness. We're off the hook!
    • by spun (1352)
      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!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sunburnt (890890) *

      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 co

    • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:08PM (#19976185) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @07:06PM (#19976929) Journal

        but now, under our MBA President, is busily unlearning, like just about every other lesson on good governance which history can provide.
        I think you're missing what is going on here.

        Bush isn't unlearning anything.
        He is doing exactly what you said, with one caveat.
        He is also changing the "overall goals of the organization".

        In the past, the goal was to provide policy based on sound science.
        Now, the goal is to provide policy that jibes with the White House agenda.
    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:08PM (#19976191) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RyanFenton (230700)
      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 mone
    • by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:19PM (#19976339) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Qwavel (733416)

      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 sim
  • 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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by inKubus (199753) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:31PM (#19975751) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ArcherB (796902) *
        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
        • replace scientist with "stupid people with pork" 'cause that's what we've got here.
          -nB
        • 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.

        • 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.
        • by Marillion (33728)

          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 hav

      • by feepness (543479)
        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by slughead (592713)
        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
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      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 scientis
      • by grcumb (781340)

        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

  • great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:27PM (#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.
    • 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.
  • Don't turn around. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:27PM (#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.

  • by iknownuttin (1099999) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:28PM (#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.

    • 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
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes but do they mention Bush's name three times [slashdot.org] on every page of their letter?
  • by acvh (120205) <<moc.sragicsm> <ta> <keeg>> on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:30PM (#19975743) Homepage
    .....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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MBraynard (653724)
      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 vi

  • by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:31PM (#19975755) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Here we go back into the dark ages where the 'Earth Centered Universe' held sway for 1500 years.
  • It's just that the current Administration has all of the subtlety and finesse of California mudslide.
  • by Xeth (614132)
    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.
  • Government is political.

    More news at 10
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:52PM (#19975975) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:02PM (#19976109) Homepage Journal
    We need Congress to impeach Bush/Cheney already. This national nightmare has gone on far too long.
  • Once upon a time... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NIN1385 (760712) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:02PM (#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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:11PM (#19976229) Homepage
    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 (Score:4, Informative)

    by shma (863063) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:11PM (#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.
  • This sounds exactly like the old Soviet Political Officer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_commissar) system.

    Way to go!
  • 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 kil
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stokes (148512)

      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.

      How can you possibly guarantee this? Do you have the expertise in cellular biology to make such predictions with any real accuracy?

      Your argument is basically science fiction, each logical leap broader than the last. It depends on scientists as a whole being completely amoral and being given carte blanche. Organ transplants have been done for decades in

  • Read the E.O. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Enrique1218 (603187) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @06:53PM (#19976767) Journal
    I think if we are going to discuss this issue. We need to go straight to the source and decide for ourselves what it means. Here is the link [whitehouse.gov] to EO 12866 including admendments [whitehouse.gov] set forth by EO 13422. No conspiracy theories! no partisanship! Lets just read the thing and make our own minds on the implications.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @06:57AM (#19981275) Journal
    If the executive order stands I guarantee you that executive order will stay right in place when the next president comes into office, democrat OR republican.

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