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Old 2007-03-17, 08:50   #1
cheesehead
 
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"Richard B. Woods"
Aug 2002
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Default The Republican War on Science - Chapter H R 985

H R 985 -- Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act

This bill, which was just passed by the US House of Representatives and has now been referred to the Senate, would, in the words of Dr. Francesca Grifo, Senior Scientist and Director, Scientific Integrity Program, Union of Concerned Scientists (http://www.ucsusa.org/news/commentar...oric-0016.html),

"for the first time, grant federal scientists and contractors the right to expose political interference in their research without fear of retribution."

Among the provisions of the bill, according to a summary at
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquer...:@@@D&summ2=m& is that it:

"Includes within the meaning of 'abuse of authority': (1) actions that compromise the validity of federally funded research or analysis; and (2) the dissemination of false or misleading scientific, medical, or technical information."

- - -

Some of you may ask: Why is this protection for whistleblowers in matters of scientific research only now being granted (if the Senate also approves it, that is)?

I'll tell you why:

(1) Before the current Bush administration, we never saw such widespread, concerted, sustained efforts to suppress or distort scientific findings for political reasons, so there wasn't a perceived need for this explicit protection.

(2) During the first six years of the current Bush administration, Congress was controlled by Republicans.

(3) Now that Democrats are back in the majority in Congress, this bill is both necessary and feasible for the first time.

Let's look at some subtotals in the bill's final roll call vote (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll153.xml):

Of Republicans, 102 voted in favor and 5 did not vote. 94 Republicans voted against this bill.

Of Democrats, 229 voted in favor of this bill. 3 did not vote. Not a single Democrat voted against this bill.

Do any conservatives care to explain what 94 Republicans, but no Democrat, found objectionable in this bill?

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2007-03-17 at 09:14
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Old 2007-03-17, 10:11   #2
cheesehead
 
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"Richard B. Woods"
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Only parts of the whole bill were specifically science-related, but if you look at the amendments offered, the only ones not passed by voice vote concerned science. That is, only two provisions, both science-related, were contested enough to require a roll-call vote .. and in those cases it was only Republicans who were voting for reduction, or against extension, of protection to scientific whistleblowers.

(Oh, rats -- I had a direct link to amendments and roll calls, but ... there were problems.)

To see the amendments and corresponding votes, go to

http://thomas.loc.gov/bss/110search.html

then under "Enter Search", select "Bill Number" and enter "H R 985" (or "HR985" or any reasonable facsimile).

On the results page, click on

A) "Amendments" to see the amendments.

B) "All Congressional Actions with Amendments", then near the bottom of where that takes you, you'll see links "Roll no. 151", "Roll no. 152" and "Roll no. 153". Click those to see who voted for or against amendments or bill passage.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2007-03-17 at 10:41
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Old 2007-03-17, 14:56   #3
Zeta-Flux
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
(1) Before the current Bush administration, we never saw such widespread, concerted, sustained efforts to suppress or distort scientific findings for political reasons, so there wasn't a perceived need for this explicit protection.
Do you honestly believe this?

Quote:
Do any conservatives care to explain what 94 Republicans, but no Democrat, found objectionable in this bill?
Why don't you look at the reasons they gave for their objections? Most politicians make public the reasons for their actions.
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Old 2007-03-19, 01:30   #4
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
Do you honestly believe this?
Yes. If you disagree, what was/were the earlier occurrence(s)? I don't recall any during my lifetime, but I don't claim to have perfect memory or information.

Quote:
Why don't you look at the reasons they gave for their objections? Most politicians make public the reasons for their actions.
I honestly don't have time to track down the answer to every question that occurs to me. In this particular case, I also have not happened to hear/read anything about possible reasons for opposition from any other sources.

It seems reasonable to me that those who are temperamentally or politically more likely than I am to oppose the bill (which I abbreviate to "conservatives") are more likely than I to know, or quickly deduce, where best to look for that information. (E.g., who's the best spokeperson for the opposition?) Left to my own, I might well stop looking when I found a first, but vague or inadequate or inferior, explanation rather than seeking a better or clearer explanation, because I may not realize what might be the primary opposition reasons or the best expression of them.

Note that, correspondingly, in the discussions of creationism vs. evolution, I recommend that objectors (on either side) get their explanations of the "other" side from proponents, rather than from opponents, of that "other" side, prior to carrying out a sincere comparison. Creationists should get their explanations of evolution from evolutionists, and vice versa, to help ensure that those explanations are accurate. If I had not actually read accounts of creationist theories written by creationists themselves, I would be less able to argue evolution's superiority. When I ask evolution-objectors whether they have read evolution texts written by evolutionists rather than by creationists, I all-too-often find that they haven't (they usually dodge that question), and are basing their objections only on the "straw man" distortions of evolution that creationists have presented.

Similarly, I've noted elsewhere the long-standing advice that in resolving a dispute, it's a good idea to have each side state its understanding of the other side's opinion, so that the other side can correct misunderstandings, until each side agrees that the other side can fairly portray the side it opposes, before getting down to the business of hashing out a solutiion or compromise.

I'll be happy to look at the opposition reasons if someone such as you will show us where those are best or most clearly stated. Caution: readers, or I, may interpret an absence of presentation of the opposition's good arguments as evidence that no such good arguments exist!

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2007-03-19 at 01:31
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Old 2007-03-19, 03:22   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
Yes. If you disagree, what was/were the earlier occurrence(s)? I don't recall any during my lifetime, but I don't claim to have perfect memory or information.
I just found your claim a little too strong. Maybe I was reading "we" to mean "Americans, throughout history" whereas you meant something like "America, in my lifetime." I'm sure there have been many a time in American history when politics has distorted science. Some claim that happened with the egg-shell thickness studies done with respect to pesticides.

Interestingly, I started thinking about fish species and evolution, and why different lakes across continents have the same species. When googling the great lakes, I found a strange bit of history. Apparently Bill Clinton signed into law that one of the nearby lakes was a 6th "great lake" which allowed scientists in the area to apply for funding to study there. Basically, it was a political move. Later the lake was relegated back to non-greatness.

All sorts of things like this happen all the time, in my opinion.
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Old 2007-03-19, 17:21   #6
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If you have heard of either of them,
who is the best guitarist. Steve Cropper or Roy Buchanan?
I know one is dead so he has an unfair advantage, but try to
ignore that.
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Old 2007-03-19, 19:12   #7
xilman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davieddy View Post
If you have heard of either of them,
who is the best guitarist. Steve Cropper or Roy Buchanan?
I know one is dead so he has an unfair advantage, but try to
ignore that.
I was rather puzzled too.

Who or what are these "Republicans" of which they speak?


Paul
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Old 2007-03-19, 19:22   #8
ewmayer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
Apparently Bill Clinton signed into law that one of the nearby lakes was a 6th "great lake" which allowed scientists in the area to apply for funding to study there. Basically, it was a political move.
Possibly, but in that case it would at least have been a pro-science (and likely pro-environment) political move. That sounds to me like politics in the interest of learning more than one otherwise might, rather than in the interest of stifling discussion or dissent, allowing only politically preferred outcomes to be published, &c.

Bending the rules to make it possible for more scientists to apply funding to study something of interest to them is a completely different kettle (or Great Lake) of fish than the kind of shenanigans and strong-arm tactics that are legion under the present administration.
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Old 2007-03-19, 20:34   #9
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ewmayer,

Quote:
Possibly, but in that case it would at least have been a pro-science (and likely pro-environment) political move. That sounds to me like politics in the interest of learning more than one otherwise might, rather than in the interest of stifling discussion or dissent, allowing only politically preferred outcomes to be published, &c.
Are you speaking from an informed position, or are you shooting from the hip? Are you sure that the money would be spent in better ways than before? Are you sure it wasn't a move to give additional funding to specific states? etc... etc... There is a difference between stifling discussion and dissent and opening government funding up.
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Old 2007-03-19, 21:32   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta-Flux View Post
Are you speaking from an informed position, or are you shooting from the hip? Are you sure that the money would be spent in better ways than before? Are you sure it wasn't a move to give additional funding to specific states? etc... etc... There is a difference between stifling discussion and dissent and opening government funding up.
The fact that I specifically used words like "possibly" and "that sounds to me" in my post should indicate to you that I was engaging more in speculation about possible motives than advancing a legal-standard argument. Specifically, I was replying to your wording about the alleged Clinton policy (which you also gave sans specific links and using words like "Allegedly"):

"...allowed scientists in the area to apply for funding to study there"

which I think (again, as in, "in my personal and not legally binding opinion") would not lead most people to conclude that the events you describe (or more precisely, allege to have occurred) were some kind of political ploy or pork-barrel project.

Gee, sorry that I wrote a somewhat-speculative post containing my actual subjective personal opinions rather than a refereed doctoral dissertation, in reply to your somewhat-speculative post containing your actual subjective personal opinions.

But here ya go, allow me to do both of our research for us:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...AAZUOmA&show=7

"Lake Champlain on the border between upstate New York and northwestern Vermont briefly became labeled by the U.S. government as the sixth "Great Lake of the United States" on March 6, 1998, when President Clinton signed Senate Bill 927. This bill, which reauthorized the National Sea Grant Program, contained a line penned by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) declaring Lake Champlain to be a Great Lake. Not coincidentally, this status allows neighboring states to apply for additional federal research and education funds allocated to these national resources. The claim was viewed with some amusement by other countries, particularly in the Canadian media as many Canadians were originally unfamiliar with the lake's existence (despite its role in the War of 1812) and the lake is small compared to other Canadian lakes (such as Great Bear Lake which has over 27 times more surface area). Following a small uproar (and several New York Times articles), the Great Lake status was rescinded on March 24 (although Vermont universities continue to receive funds to monitor and study the lake)."

So it's possible that Clinton owed Senator Leahy a favor, but even if there was a pork-barrel element to the reauthorization in question, there seems little doubt that there was legitimate scientific research to be done, as the rest of the above page makes clear.

Sheesh, I feel like I'm in a discussion with cheesehead...

Whatever my beefs with the Clinton administration may have been, them being anti-science or anti-environmental were not on the list. And unlike Bush, Clinton actually was working with budget *surpluses*. Tell you what - by way of you backing up some of *your* assertions and implications, why don't you go find out just how much money was spent on Lake-Champlain-related research and edutational programs as a result of the Clinton reauthorization of the National Sea Grant Program, and compare that to both the Clinton-era budget surplus and to the cost-so-far of the Bush-era war in Iraq. Then we can engage (if you like) in an informed "was the money well-spent?" debate.

Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 2007-03-19 at 21:35
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Old 2007-03-19, 22:10   #11
Zeta-Flux
 
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ewmayer,

Quote:
The fact that I specifically used words like "possibly" and "that sounds to me" in my post should indicate to you that I was engaging more in speculation about possible motives than advancing a legal-standard argument.
I figured you were speculating. But it doesn't hurt to ask, and so that is where my first question came from. I am a little confused at the tone of your post, since I wasn't trying to harrass you or anything. Anyway, sorry for the confusion.

Cheers,
Zeta-Flux

Last fiddled with by Zeta-Flux on 2007-03-19 at 22:11
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