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Tilting at Windmills

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May 12, 2009

ASK A WINGNUT.... The fine folks at Salon have a fun new feature called "Ask a Wingnut," in which reasonable people, curious what a real-live conservative thinks about a given issue, get to pose a substantive question to a former Bush administration official. We don't know who the official is -- he/she writes pseudonymously -- but the "wingnut" goes by the name of "Glenallen Walken."

In this week's edition, readers asked why the Republican Party, and conservatives in general, are hostile to science. Glenallen Walken responded:

To me, the question is almost laughable on its face. Conservatives are pro-science and, as a general rule, pro-cost-benefit analysis and pro-thinking.

As evidence to support the argument that the right loves science, Salon's resident wingnut pointed to some specific examples: Reagan supported the creation of a missile-defense system (SDI) a few decades ago; George W. Bush once said something about going to Mars; Gingrich supported expanding NIH funding 15 years ago; and Bush "was the first president to propose federal funding for stem cell research."

While I'm delighted that "Glenallen Walken" is willing to respond to questions like these, his/her response isn't exactly persuasive.

Right off the bat, the provided examples are pretty weak. Most notably, Bush may have been the first to make federal funds available for stem-cell research, but that's a silly argument. For one thing, it's a new scientific field. I'm sure FDR and Abe Lincoln would have been happy to invest in such research if it were available before the 21st century. For another, Bush's approach to stem-cell science was utterly ridiculous, and the restrictions he imposed were incoherent. This isn't evidence of Republicans embracing science; it's evidence of the opposite.

But just as important is the fact that "Glenallen Walken" takes an incredibly narrow view of the question. Right now, the Republican mainstream rejects scientific evidence on everything from global warming to stem-cell research to evolutionary biology to sex-ed. Recently, the very idea of credible scientific inquiry -- "something called 'volcano monitoring'" -- became the subject of Republican mockery.

Under Bush/Cheney, there was an effective "war on science," in which scientific research was either rejected or manipulated to suit political ends. The integrity of the scientific process itself came under attack, to the delight of the party and its base.

If "Glenallen Walken" thinks the question is "almost laughable on its face," it only helps reinforce why this is a problem for the party.

Steve Benen 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (80)

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Comments

There was no "War on Science" under Bush. There was resistance to the liberal scientific establishment imposing their views on everyone else.

Scientists have a right to hold whatever views they want. They don't have the right to impose those views on others.

Posted by: Al on May 12, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Fish. Barrel. Bang.

Posted by: tatere on May 12, 2009 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

to win the war on science, we must torture logic.

eric

Posted by: eric on May 12, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Reich wingers have a right to hold whatever views they want. They don't have the right to impose those views on others while ignoring the science that debunks those views.

Posted by: What Al Really Meant to Say on May 12, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on May 12, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Al proves his total ignorance of both science and recent history in only two short paragraphs. Not bad!

I checked out the "Wingnut" feature. Interesting idea for an atricle, and his responses may be of clinical use in some future study on early 21st century conservative pathologies. Not much worth the time reading, though. I think we've heard it all before.

Posted by: Jon on May 12, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

You missed the point, Steve. It's never been about anti-science. After all, lots of Republicanites make big bucks from science and technology. No, no, no. It's called strategic lying. No reasonable person will really believe the GOP is anti-science. Which, of course, leaves the unreasonable people, the GOP base, to hoodwink. And let's not forget all those swell campaign contributions from their industry friends (overlords). Strategic lying kills two birds with one stone - cash and crackers.

Posted by: numi on May 12, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wingers think science is great if they think it supports the policies they want to advance. Otherwise, not so much.

Posted by: MattF on May 12, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Under the Bush Administration, scientists were treated much the same as OLC lawyers. The administration dictated its demands and desires, lawyers and scientists were expected to defend the administrations positions.

Then we get to Al's world where we all believe the world is flat and damn any scientists trying to impose some other view on us. Liberal scientists are the most imposing, pushy species on Earth. Why can't they just go along with us?

Posted by: Capt Kirk on May 12, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

That was a damned good Al. I wish they were all of that quality.

Posted by: shortstop on May 12, 2009 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Glenallen Walken was, I believe, the fictional Republican House Speaker played by John Goodman on "the West Wing."

A telling choice for someone who's so stuck in an alternate reality.

Posted by: TR on May 12, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

What about the liberal war on science?

Solar and Wind power are able to handle all the energy needs of the country.

Vaccines are often too dangerous.

Organic food is healthier than non-organic food.

Little cars can be made as safe as big cars

I could go on but you get my point.

I wish that liberals and conservatives would accept scientific facts that they might not like.

Posted by: neil wilson on May 12, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Ask a wingnut" has been one of Salon's most worthless features. All he does is repeat standard right wing talking points and platitudes. I think a lot of the audience was hoping for some detached explanation of why the Republican party does what it does, but the writer has drunk too much kool-aid to make the column useful.

Posted by: Tyro on May 12, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

How many cures or medicines have come from embryonic stem cell research?

Answer: zero

How many cures or medicines have come from adult stem cell research (ie, research that doesn't involve culling cells from aborted babies).

Answer: many

So who has a war on science? Liberals or conservatives?

Why does Gore bleat on and on about Global Warming and then not reduce his own carbon footprint?

Maybe because he is a fat jackass.

Or maybe he realizes his "science" is nothing more than quackery that makes him a quick buck.

There are plenty of scientists who think Global Warming is not caused by man, if there is Global Warming at all.

If not man, then who? What object could cause global weather changes? It would have to be quite large and capable of transmitting huge amounts of energy to the earth. Kind of like the sun...

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Solar and Wind power are able to handle all the energy needs of the country.

Forgot about that one. Nothing like liberal bird-lovers going apeshit on a liberal energy nut. The latter never mentions the harm wind power will do to the bird populations.

Or how solar power uses so much water.

Or how hydroelectic power fouls up migrating salmon.

It's almost like clean coal IS the answer...

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber, parody or troll?

Sigh, we have reached Poe's Law.

Posted by: dk on May 12, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Al - Science has a distinct liberal bias.

Someday with any luck there will be an American Wingnut Exhibit at the local zoo, where all the little children can view the dwindling specimens from the Idiot Branch on the Tree of Evolution.

Posted by: Mr. Stuck on May 12, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber, parody or troll?

Both. He believes a good deal of what he's saying. Not all of it, but more than enough.

Posted by: on May 12, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber wrote: "There are plenty of scientists who think Global Warming is not caused by man, if there is Global Warming at all."

You are an ignorant idiot or a deliberate liar, or both.

In either case, your rote regurgitation of the inane talking points that Rush Limbaugh spoon-feeds you impresses no one.

However, on a thread entitled "Ask A Wingnut", I suppose it is helpful to have an actual "wingnut" show up to demonstrate the weak-minded, ignorant, mean-spirited mental slavery to corporate-sponsored propaganda that is called "conservatism" in America today.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 12, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Of course "Glenallen Walken" rejects the notion that conservatives are hostile to science. It's a coherent theory that's supported by overwhelming evidence, so it can't possibly be correct.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on May 12, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be more fun to ask a random wingnut on the street the questions. The pro will know how to spin the answers for Salon's audience.

Posted by: PeakVT on May 12, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

SDI isn't much of an example either. More like science fiction.

Posted by: Halfdan on May 12, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I was extremely disappointed with the "Ask a Wingnut" column. I'd hoped for a substantive, logical, reasonable explanation conservative thought. Unfortunately, each "answer" is to thick with ad hominim attacks, talking points, logical fallacies, and a determination to ignore the meat of the question, that it became a joke by the end of the second column, and not a good one at that.

I'd love to sit down and listen to a conservative explain their views without hectoring, shouting down the "opposition" and mindlessly attacking anyone with a different idea. Privately, I suspect that the entire column is an example of Poe's law in action, or a very subtle Colbertesque (Cobertian? Colbertish?) satire that many of us haven't got the joke. Then again, I'd hoped the same thing about Dick Cheney for years, so I may be mistaken.

Posted by: Diogenes on May 12, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

SDI isn't much of an example either. More like science fiction.

Science fiction that works.

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber, parody or troll?
Both. He believes a good deal of what he's saying. Not all of it, but more than enough.
Posted by: on May 12, 2009 at 1:13 PM
----------------
McGruber is the idiot on SNL that always gets blown up because of his own stupidity, so I say parody.

Posted by: ScottW on May 12, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

"There are plenty of scientists who think Global Warming is not caused by man, if there is Global Warming at all."

If by "plenty" you mean "a couple hundred people with PhDs in any of 100 scientific disciplines entirely unrelated to climatology, geology, oceanography, or atmospheric science." Then sure.

Posted by: Halfdan on May 12, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Walken's comments indicate that he is a comfortable person.

He had a comfortable job in the Bush administration, where he had a comfortable office with a comfortable chair.

He took meals with other comfortable people who comfortably agreed with each other that they all lived in Fluffy Bunny Land and that life was comfortably good without bothering themselves with uncomfortable things like knowledge or awareness of life and events outside of their own comfortable universe.

It's so nice to be comfortable, isn't it, Mr. Walken?

Posted by: Curmudgeon on May 12, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

You're right. You beat me (and us). We conservatives hate science, especially the science around baby-making.

Abortion isn't really all that bad. Those fetuses aren't real human beings until they pass through the vagina, when a small pixie sprinkles dust and - huzzah! - a new little person springs into being.

Before that, it is nothing but an amalgamation of cells that can be extirpated at whim.

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

If by "plenty" you mean "a couple hundred people with PhDs in any of 100 scientific disciplines entirely unrelated to climatology, geology, oceanography, or atmospheric science." Then sure.

They can't hold a candle to the scientific acumen found in Al Gore's brain.

He did invent the intertubes.

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

One example nobody has commented on: Conservatives' support for the scientific feasability of the SDI missile defense system brooked no dissent. One of the Republican Congress' first acts after taking over in 1995 was to disband the Office of Technology Assessment; OTA's questioning of the fantasy science put forward to support SDI was a large factor in the agency's demise.

Posted by: Walsh44 on May 12, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I had my doubts, but the wingnut's inane and unresponsive answers are proof of authenticity. SDI only shows that the right loves boondoggles, not science, especially when the billions flow to their favorite welfare queens in the defense industry.

The only thing that has ever worked in the entire SDI program is the cash register. Ka-ching, baby!

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on May 12, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Me thinks someone has stepped on McGruber’s douche bag.

Posted by: Chopin on May 12, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hold it... SDI- aka Star Wars- as an example of being pro-science? As all the research into the idea demonstrates, SDI is science fiction or fantasy, not science fact.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on May 12, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Those fetuses aren't real human beings until they pass through the vagina, when a small pixie sprinkles dust and - huzzah! - a new little person springs into being.

At which point the repug wingnuts stop caring about them-except for maybe torture experiments.

Posted by: McGruber Is An Idiot on May 12, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I don't get it. The Salon piece isn't a joke?

If it's not...well, it should be. It's pretty funny.

And if it's not a joke -- what's with the pseudonym? The Republican Party is such an embarassment that Salon couldn't find someone to write a column under their own name?

Posted by: eric on May 12, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Dumbass Ditto-Head "McGruber" is here today to impress himself with his ability to manipulate you into wasting your valuable time reading and replying to his blatantly idiotic bullshit.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 12, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber proves the superfluousness of any "Ask a Wingnut" column. You don't even have to ask, they'll find you and start blithering away on their own initiative. It's not like they are some rare, shy, silent creature you have to gently coax.

As they say, the "Silent Majority" is neither.

Posted by: Jon on May 12, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

At which point the repug wingnuts stop caring about them-except for maybe torture experiments.

No, we anti-nanny staters believe that the family should care for those children.

I'm sure in the liberal world, you see children as just another problem for the state. Another mouth to feed. It's best to eliminate them before they are born - more spendulous program money for you.

How about letting the family take care of the child, or - gasp - putting the child up for adoption.

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

My word, their obsession with abortion is kinda creepy eh?

Talk with a wingnut long enough and the conversation will invariably turn to how much liberals LURVE abortions and how AWFUL health care is.

It's just weird. Creepy and weird.

Posted by: neilt on May 12, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

No, we anti-nanny staters believe that the family should care for those children.

You know what's nice these days. That wingnuts like MCgruber and his ilk are firmly entrenched in minority status, where they are free to espouse the lofty virtues of conservatism. It's all quite simple for them, good/evil up/down black/white. And of course regarding children, there are only two options -- an ideal nuclear home for a child with all the wingnutty upbringing that is needed. -- Or, adoption into same when dreg liberals make babies they don't take care of, and good goopers families are there to take up the slack. Governing the infinitely complex realities of American life are not their cup of tea, but they sure can talk a good game, if only people elected them, wingnut nirvana would ensue.

Posted by: Mr. Stuck on May 12, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

You know what's nice these days. That wingnuts like MCgruber and his ilk are firmly entrenched in minority status, where they are free to espouse the lofty virtues of conservatism. It's all quite simple for them, good/evil up/down black/white. And of course regarding children, there are only two options -- an ideal nuclear home for a child with all the wingnutty upbringing that is needed. -- Or, adoption into same when dreg liberals make babies they don't take care of, and good goopers families are there to take up the slack. Governing the infinitely complex realities of American life are not their cup of tea, but they sure can talk a good game, if only people elected them, wingnut nirvana would ensue.

It may not be that black/white, but it sure beats just killing the child because you find it to be inconvenient to your lifestyle at that given moment.

So let me get this straight: it's barbaric to torture a known Al-Qaeda terrorist who planned 9/11, but OK to kill an innocent child.

Got it.

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Al, that is just about the dumbest damn couple of sentences I've read in a while.

Posted by: Mike on May 12, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

He cites SDI as an example of the fruits of pro-cost-benefit analytical thinking? The mind reels.

Posted by: dob on May 12, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

SDI? Science?

No, SDI was a means to funnel large amounts of tax dollars to Reagan's rich friends.

No chance of it actually working. Even the babystep tests they conducted failed. But let's suppose somehow, someway, you actually thought you have a working missile shield. So how are you going to test it? "Hey, Russkies, can you lob a few dummy missles our way?" Oh, we'll test it with our dummy missles -- which have different performance characteristics, and of course we won't get to see the effects of the nuclear fallout as part of the test. Sure.

No, SDI is a perfect example of Republican hostility to science.

Posted by: Jupiter on May 12, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

The 'SDI' was correctly perceived as NOT a threat by the Soviets after Soviet nuclear physicist and Nobel Laureate, Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, informed the top generals in the Soviet military that a 'Strategic Defense Initiative' was well beyond any technology available at the time, as the technology did not yet exist to construct a theoretical weapons system that could handle the number of equations required to track numerous incoming MIRVed ICBMs. He explained that even if it COULD be built, the Soviets could easily and QUITE CHEAPLY overcome it by filling the skies with decoys which would quickly swamp and render useless any American system. We know Mr. Sakharov was absolutely correct on both counts, as both statements are STILL TRUE TODAY.

So, the Soviet military knew quite early on that a 'SDI' was a scam, and Robert (Bud) McFarlane, who was Reagan's National Security Advisor from 1983 to 1985, subsequently admitted in a 60 Minutes interview that the 'SDI' program was nothing more than "a bargaining chip".

So much for science.

Posted by: Joe Friday on May 12, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight: it's barbaric to torture a known Al-Qaeda terrorist who planned 9/11, but OK to kill an innocent child.

So now your justifying torture because it's no worse than abortion. Something that is legal and has been for a long time.

Got it.

Posted by: Mr. Stuck on May 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Their cost-benefit 'analysis' for the Iraq war was spot on.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on May 12, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The missile defense excuse is the perfect example. These dipshits don't even know how to read a flow chart. Let me spell it out for them

Research

Development

Deployment

Get it? The order matters. You don't deploy the god damn thing until you do the R&D. One would have thought that this would be a no brainer. But of course I suppose they have a production line somewhere for flying cars as well. These people are so monumentally stupid that they don't even know that they are stupid.

Posted by: SW on May 12, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ditto-Head stooge McGruber wrote: "No, we anti-nanny staters believe that the family should care for those children."

No, the only thing you "believe" in is hatred of "liberals".

The only real content of your fake, phony, scripted, focus-group-tested, corporate-sponsored, one-dimensional cartoon comic-book so-called "conservative" pseudo-ideology is hatred of "liberals".

Just as the only real content of the pseudo-ideology of mid-1930s German brownshirts was hatred of "Jews".

Hitler and his propagandists told their weak-minded, ignorant followers that "Jews" were baby-killers. And the obedient mental slaves believed it, and obediently, slavishly, frothed with hatred of the evil "Jews".

You are no different. Rush Limbaugh tells you who to hate, and you obey like the mental slave you are.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 12, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

'Get it? The order matters. You don't deploy the god damn thing until you do the R&D. One would have thought that this would be a no brainer. But of course I suppose they have a production line somewhere for flying cars as well. These people are so monumentally stupid that they don't even know that they are stupid.'

Of course if you are a defense contractor making billions of dollars making worthless pieces of shit that will never work it is actually pretty smart isn't it? It just relies on the support of incredibly stupid people.

Posted by: SW on May 12, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

No, the only thing you "believe" in is hatred of "liberals".

The only real content of your fake, phony, scripted, focus-group-tested, corporate-sponsored, one-dimensional cartoon comic-book so-called "conservative" pseudo-ideology is hatred of "liberals".

Just as the only real content of the pseudo-ideology of mid-1930s German brownshirts was hatred of "Jews".

Hitler and his propagandists told their weak-minded, ignorant followers that "Jews" were baby-killers. And the obedient mental slaves believed it, and obediently, slavishly, frothed with hatred of the evil "Jews".

You are no different. Rush Limbaugh tells you who to hate, and you obey like the mental slave you are.

Wow. I've never seen anyone take a pro-lifer and compare them to a Nazi! Kudos and the Darwin award, fine sir.

Needless to say, you are wrong. I don't espouse the wanton killing of innocent persons - I believe in the hope and joy of new life.

I don't believe in the massacre of a whole class or ethnic group; unlike the abortionists. Didn't Sanger talk about getting rid of all those black babies via abortion? Babies of the poorer classes?

Wasn't Sanger a KKK member? If not, then why did she speak at KKK rallies?

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber: "I've never seen anyone take a pro-lifer and compare them to a Nazi!"

Your so-called "pro-life" pose is as fake and phony as the inane bumper-sticker talking points that you slavishly regurgitate.

You are an ignorant, brainwashed tool. Period.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 12, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

SDI has nothing to do with science. It's like defending Republicans' record on science by pointing out that they supported development of the F22.

These days, you'll find few scientists who are supportive of Republicans because of the party's open hostility to science and scientists. At best you can find a few people who didn't make it in academia in the employ of a think tank who's willing to say what the think tank's funders want him to say.

However, the anti-science stance of the Republican party and outright hostility to scientists when it came to the policy consequences of empirical data has damaged the Republicans in the eyes of scientists for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: Tyro on May 12, 2009 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Glen Allen is a small town outside of Richmond, Virginia; it was a Virginia Republican talking!

Posted by: Tom on May 12, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

You are an ignorant, brainwashed tool. Period.

Posted by: McGruber on May 12, 2009 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber is a Saturday Night Live spoof of MacGyver (the 80's secret agent what could make bombs from hairpins and dog crap).

The scene starts with a bomb ready to go off in like 20 seconds and McGruber is trying to stop the bomb but he gets distracted usually by arguing with his mates over something extremely mundane and the bomb blows.

McGruber is doing the same, sans the bomb. He argues about the most mundane unrelated non-sense while the real concern at hand passes by. There is no doubt he is a satire because the only other option is that he picked a scene name of known buffoon who presumably dies every scene because of his own stupidity. Or the his name really is McGruber which if it wasn't so funny, would be tragic.

Posted by: ScottW on May 12, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

don't wanna set off a star trek/star wars flamefest...but i suspect we'll see warp drive before we see a workable SDI....

Posted by: dj spellchecka on May 12, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives, including a lot of the trolls responding here, seem to always confuse science and technology. Acuse them of being anti-science, and they trot out a lot of programs that prove they are protechnology. SDI is technology (or would be if it worked), not science. Faster rockets, bigger radars, faster computers; this is all improved technology with very little science. Conservatives love technology, real or imagined, and often see it as the cure to all problems. At the same time they dislike science because it tends to conflict with their preconceived prejudices.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on May 12, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

As the Wingnut is evidence that Salon is in a death spiral. A few years ago it was a must-read, or at least must-look-at, with insightful and substantive articles. It has been getting thinner and thinner of late, substituting flashy click-bait pieces like this. While it is all great fun to read this and point out its obvous inadequacies, this is not substance. I don't need to go to Salon to find idiotic right-wing talking points to mock.

Posted by: Richard Hershberger on May 12, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I was surprised anyone even read Salon anymore frankly.

Posted by: drichmond on May 12, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I remember Star Wars. I remember one of the program's directors giving a presentation on some of the orbital-missile techniques they were claiming to have under development and telling some old guy he didn't know much about gravitation. Some old guy name of Chandrasekhar.

Now that's pro-science.

Posted by: paul on May 12, 2009 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't Sanger talk about getting rid of all those black babies via abortion? Babies of the poorer classes?

Via Sanger, wingnuts are now moralizing for the protection of "Black Babies" and "Poorer Classes". LOL. Well, bowl me over with a feather.

Here Macgruber, let me sharpen your shovel.

Posted by: Mr. Stuck on May 12, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "There was no "War on Science" under Bush. There was resistance to the liberal scientific establishment imposing their views on everyone else."

PBS' Frontline documented instances where the Bush administration did indeed suppress climate change science that it didn't like. I also know of other fields of research where the findings of government scientists were suppressed because the results of their research was not favorable to business interests.

"...Scientists have a right to hold whatever views they want. They don't have the right to impose those views on others."

"Impose views?" In contexts where scientists have the freedom and/or the responsibility to make public their findings, or it is their job to generate knowledge about an area of research or an issue, "their views" are indeed in the public interest. If some members of the public don't like those conclusions then I suppose that is their right, but those disagreeing or disapproving individuals do not have the right to suppress those conclusions from others!

Posted by: Varecia on May 12, 2009 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

2 of the 4 examples alleged to prove that Republicans love science weakly support the opposite conclusion. Both the SDI and the mission to Mars are based on preferring pleasing fantasies to scientific facts.

Love of technology is not love of science. Blind faith that all technological problems can be solved (and in a cost effective way) requires ignoring science. For example, faith that faster than light travel is possible requires the assumption that existing theories are wrong (always possible). Now in each case many experts claimed the problems could be solved (and that it would be worth the cost). Many of them were asking for more money to administer. In neither case did Republicans agree (or disagree) with scientists as a group.

I am actually surprised that Glenallen didn't claim that Republican love of science is demonstrated by the claim some Republicans make that if we leave the free market alone it will develop technologies which will solve the problem of global warming. This requires ignoring the historical evidence and the not really a science of economics, and shows the exact same confusion of science and mystical faith in technology.

Oh and cost benefit analysis is based on the assumption that the happiness of the rich is more important than the happiness of the non rich, Not surprising that Republicans like it. Actual economists know this and either reject the concept or are frankly ultra-reactionary.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on May 12, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK
"...Scientists have a right to hold whatever views they want. They don't have the right to impose those views on others."

--Al

Al to English translation:

Scientists have a right to discover whatever facts they want. But that doesn't mean I have to let those facts interfere with the distorted and narrow reality I've created for myself.

Thanks, however, for summing up so well the conservative mindset, in which scientific reality is somehow up for debate if it interferes with political interests.

Posted by: Mark D on May 12, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Question for Glenallen Walken (its a name of the Gooper substitute President played by John Goodman on West Wing by the way):

Why are Republican Conservatives so fond of blowing goats?

Posted by: bmaz on May 12, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Why bother? I can listen to rightwingers anytime I want to on my FM dial. And dollars to donuts given a specific issue I could make up an answer that would work pretty well across a wide spectrum of rightwing opinion. I just need to start with a three basic premises: 1) liberals are responsible for everything that is bad or has gone wrong or will go wrong any time, any where and 2) I am infallible and right about everything absolutely, 3) and finally facts and reason are irrelevant such that I can make up stuff or alter it however I like to support my opinion.

Posted by: mickster on May 12, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hey McGruber, wasn't it wonderful that Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol decided to have her baby?
But wait a minute..."deciding" means she had to choose from among alternatives....and "to choose" means she had the freedom to make a choice...or does that freedom only accrue to the pregnant daughters of Republican office holders?

Posted by: lucslawyer on May 12, 2009 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Wingnuts love science in the same way they love state's rights:

If a state law is to the right of the federal law then they bellow about state's rights, but if a state law is to the left of the federal law they want to crush it. You didn't hear any wingnut state's rights fans supporting California's right to have stricter car emission standard, did you?

Same with science. If the conclusion of any scientific study supports their position, then it's great, otherwise they're against it.

Posted by: Nutella on May 12, 2009 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'm convinced Republicans are low IQ/functionally impaired. I've engaged in a few conversations lately that remind me of that Salon post, where the conservatives not only seem to genuinely believe what they're saying, they're convinced that other people, upon hearing them, will believe the same thing.

Posted by: Wallace on May 12, 2009 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

McGruber: Ah, but she did have the choice...or so Sarah would have us believe...even paying lip service to the idea that her daughter would be able to choose between birth or abortion is rather revealing...

Posted by: lucslawyer on May 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Conservatives are pro-science and, as a general rule, pro-cost-benefit analysis and pro-thinking".


Uhhhh.....yeah.
(snort)
Nuttier than squirrel poo.

Posted by: Stevie B on May 13, 2009 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

You forgot to mention that, 25 years later, SDI still doesn't work!!! The "interceptors" can't even hit a missile that's sitting up there with a radar homing device in it, something Kim Il Sung is unlikely to put on one of his missiles.

Want to talk about a plausible way a nuke will really arrive in America? Try this:

Pakistani ISI gives one of their nukes to Al Qaeda, who sends it by camel caravan to Sinjiang Province, China, where it gets put into a cargo container and loaded aboard an 18-wheeler, where it gets taken to Shanghai, loaded aboard a container ship, and sent to the port of Long Beach, where it sits in the container cargo yard the Chinese have there - 1 container in 20,000. According to what I was told 47 years ago when we were sent tracking a Soviet missile boat off Catalina island during the Cuban missile crisis, a 20 megaton nuke (not very big nowadays) would completely devastate the entire Los Angeles basin, out to the San Gabriels and the Anaheim hills, and flatten the place.

No expensive missile needed, no expensive guidance system needed, no radar track of where it came from to provide proof of who did it...

What? Do we think the people we're fighting are stupid enough to do something like this in a way that guarantees massive retaliation????

Only a Wingnut could be moron enough to think SDI was ever anything but a way for him and his fellow members of the Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization known as the GOP to rip of the government for a few billion in contracts to play this game.

Posted by: TCinLA on May 13, 2009 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

"I was surprised anyone even read Salon anymore frankly".

Posted by: drichmond on May 12, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Only for the Glenn Greenwald posts...

Posted by: Stevie B on May 13, 2009 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

I just want to thank McGoober for proving once again that computers are so user-friendly that bipeds lacking frontal lobes and opposable thumbs can use them just like real human beings.

Posted by: TCinLA on May 13, 2009 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget:

Creationism! ('cause Darwin really wasn't that cool).

Morning after pill! ('cause all the studies on safety were led by women ... and who can trust them).

Oil spills! (See, even the Alaska Gov said it wasn't that bad. All those little penguins came back. Yes, they have two spines, but that's GOD's creationism at work!).

Asbestos! (Rather than it being a poison, just see it as God's way of saying it's time for you to get cancer.)

Sludge pools! (That black sludge runoff from coal is no more harmful than the Anacostia river water!)

-getting serious-
Honestly, this is just one reason I left this party. It used to be cool to be intellectual, well read and up to date on science. What does it say when the Catholic Church (believes in evolution) is more in touch with science than the Republican party?

Posted by: ShawninPHX on May 13, 2009 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives have had a beef with science ever since Edmund Burke dismissed scientists as "sophists, economists, and calculators."

Posted by: jonp72 on May 13, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

>Conservatives are pro-science and, as a general rule, pro-cost-benefit analysis and pro-thinking.

Right, shure.
Earlier this week Chris Matthews had some "moderate" Republican officeholder on Hardball.
The MRO was going on about how progressive, forward thinking, and reality-based he was.
Matthews sed, ok, do you believe in evolution?

As noted above, Glenn Greenwald is the only part of Salon worth one's eyeballs' time.
The poor fellow backpedalled so fast he nearly broke his collarbone.
Matthews

Posted by: bartkid on May 13, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Weird.

My comment got garbled.
The last two sentences should be flipped and the lone word "Matthews" should be struck out.

Weird.

Posted by: bartkid on May 13, 2009 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

How exactly are these camel-riding Al-Qaeda guys going to get the documents to send a nuclear bomb to the U.S.?

You've heard of bribery, I take it? I'm sure no port/cargo inspector has ever been bribed to look the other way when a certain container containing, oh I don't know, some other kind of contraband was being loaded.

Posted by: Ol'Froth on May 13, 2009 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter McGoofer:

Container ship nukes? Pfft! Waste of time to worry about it, because ICE personally double-checks every goddamn container that comes into the country. I mean, it's not like any contraband ever makes its way past them, or anything.

Let's pour hundreds of billions down a rathole on an unworkable missile defense system, though, to counter a wildly improbable hypothetical threat, just to irriate the Russians and provide jobs programs for poor starving aerospace engineers. Republican science, baby!

Posted by: Owain Glyn Dwr on May 13, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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