15 December, 2008

The War on Science

Ed Brayton has an appalling article pointing up just how very fucked science has been under Rethuglicon rule:

Never before has science been so highly politicized as during the Bush administration. As Chris Mooney so aptly demonstrated in The Republican War on Science, on issue after issue the Bush administration distorted, ignored or stifled science in the service of political aims. Emily Badger has an excellent review of the Bush administration and a look forward at how Obama can fix some of the problems.

Barack Obama received a relatively quiet endorsement on Aug. 23 from 61 of the country's Nobel laureates in physics, medicine and chemistry -- scientific heavyweights who used the occasion to both call for a scientific renewal in America and critique the state of American science at the end of the Bush era.

"During the administration of George W. Bush," their open letter charged, "vital parts of our country's scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support. The government's scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk."

It gets worse, and worse, and worse... and even then, only the surface is scraped, as Jason F. points out in a long and sobering comment:

I'm a biologist, employed by the federal government. I won't say which agency.

I honestly think most folks would be absolutely horrified to hear some of the specifics of what has gone on under the Bush administration. Yeah, we hear about the regulatory and policy changes they've pushed through, and even some of the omission of key findings from reports, but I'm telling you, it goes much, much, much deeper than that.

It was immediately clear after Bush was "elected" in 2000 that federal agencies tasked with an environmental mission were in for a rough stretch, but no one I've talked to ever imagined it would end up as bad as it did. Political appointees in D.C. would call staff-level biologists and say, "Your opinion is X", and if the biologist argued that the data said otherwise, he either had his job threatened or was "reassigned" to meaningless busywork. This would go on and on until either someone was in place who would comply, or (what happened to me numerous times), the document would go up the ladder and would get "edited" to suddenly say the opposite of what it had said before. Yet there would be no record of this change, so it would appear the biologist wrote it.

But that's not all. These agencies regularly had their budgets cut (or frozen, which is the same, i.e. costs go up but your budget doesn't, you have to make cuts somewhere). Promotions were denied wholesale, and entire staffs in most offices would frequently work one or two pay grades below what they were actually doing. As I was fighting to get a pay grade I deserved, I came across a policy document that stated all reviews of employee grade levels must be consistent with the overall bureau efforts to reduce staff average grade! And when did this policy go into effect? Why 2001 of course.

Offices were split apart, administrative support was denied, basic office supplies were short, travel budgets were slashed, early retirements were offered so that when someone took an early out, their position was done away with rather than filled. Meanwhile, workload continues to skyrocket.

The end result of all this is a work force that is understaffed, underfunded, underpaid, yet faces an increasingly complex and heavy workload, and has had to endure 8 years of overt, agressive, and counterproductive political interference. As one former employee put it when interviewed by Slate Magazine, "We're walking around like a bunch of whipped pups".

Further, keep in mind Bush et al. have 8 years to put their cronies in key positions, and they in turn hire more neo-cons, who hire more under them, who hire more under them, and so on. The end result after 8 years is Bush loyalists who see environmental regulation as unnecessary in positions all the way down to the field office level. So the last couple of years, it hasn't been so much political appointees in D.C. you're fighting, but your immediate supervisor!

In sum, whatever you read (including this post) about the Bush administration treatment of science agencies, keep in mind the reality almost certainly 10 times worse.

For the sake of science, to ensure we have a future, we need to make bloody damned certain that Cons don't get their filthy stinking cretinous hands on the reins of power for at least the next 8 years. Dems sometimes do a horrible job themselves, and there are short-sighted, ignorant sons of bitches in their ranks, but they are never this fucking greedy, insane or stupid.

Not even Blagojevich.

And the fucktards are rare exceptions, rather than being, as in Con ranks, the fucking rule. A few clueless dumbshits can be picked off in targeted primaries. A whole herd of conniving Cons back in charge of the federal government doesn't even bear thinking about.

There's going to be a temptation to forget about the endless stream of abuses and outrages perpetrated by the Cons while they ruled. After four years, or eight years, of Democratic rule, people are probably going to be tempted to give the other party a turn at the wheel.

My question will be this: What did you love so much about being steered over a cliff the last time?

Never. Forget.

1 comment:

Cujo359 said...

For further reading, click here. It's an article I wrote in January. At this point, it's mainly interesting for the links, which document several more examples of Bush Administration interference with science.

The Bushies are just the latest symptom of a far more problematic trend, which is the increasing ignorance of science and the world in general among Americans.