Not surprisingly, the blogosphere is all over the "White House Rewrites Science" story... and a consensus take is forming: these guys have done it before, they'll do it again, and -- unless we keep nailing them on it -- they'll keep doing it. Here's a quick roundup of what's being said:
Corrente: R.I.P. Science (Truth We Buried A Long Time Ago)
What were we saying about the Bush regime's manipulation of scientific evidence? Oh, yes, the Union of Concerned Scientists had a problem with the rigorousness of their scientific method. You can imagine, then, how they must feel about this latest revelation:
Talk about executive branch lobbying. Another upsetting example -- with fingerprints on the documents -- of the Bush administration and comrade Dobriansky putting the interests of the American people beneath those of the energy industry to which they are so beholden. So this wouldn't be leaking from the British, would it? Update: Even better than executive branch lobbying by the oil industry is getting the oil industry's top lobbyist a top position on environmental affairs in the White House. From the NYT.
The Road To Surfdom: On purpose
Postmodernism doesn't just happen, you know. You have to work at it, and sometimes that involves grunt work with a red biro:
You see, there is truth and there is power. And just because your side has the power to say something is one way and not another, and just because that way suits you politically, that doesn't make it true. ALSO: Here's another article in which the mainstream media becomes alert to the postmodern tendencies of the right.
Two years ago this month, a report from the Environmental Protection Agency was going to provide the first comprehensive review of what is known about various environmental problems, where gaps in understanding exist, and how to fill them. Naturally, there was a large section on global warming - right up until the White House stepped in to delete it because it was inconsistent with Bush's political agenda. As it turns out, the Bush gang was so fond of editing out information about global warming they don't like, they've done it again.
Let's put this in context. Qualified scientists prepared reliable reports based on real information. Before they could be shared, however, the White House turned them over to a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry, to edit to his heart's content. This is the Bush administration's approach to quality science. In one instance, a report noted the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding. Cooney saw a section on projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack, didn't like it, and deleted it. Cooney has no background in science - he's a lawyer by trade - but the Bush gang has made him the chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Credibility? Integrity? In the Bush administration? Then again, maybe the White House is on to something here. Embracing a sense of denial to all inconvenient facts may be a good idea. * If terrorist attacks increase around the world, the government can simply stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism. * If the Bureau of Labor Statistics uncovers data about factory closings in the U.S., the administration can cancel the report and hide the data. * If an administration report shows that the feds aren't doing enough to help states in the midst of fiscal crises, the White House can announce that the report wouldn't be published anymore. * If Bush's Department of Education sees evidence that charter schools are underperforming, the agency can simply stop collecting data on charter schools. Oh wait, the administration has already done all of this.
One thing that's worth remembering is that the war on science isn't a Bush administration innovation. Not at all, in fact. Gingrich's 1994 revolution had its own set of ideas for recasting the role of science in regulatory law, and they, if possible, were even more sophisticated about it than the Bush administration. Rather than going for simple Stalinistic tactics like changing language and erasing information, they tried to discredit the science itself. Under their plan, all new regulations would have to come with a risk report, explaining how bad the problem to-be-regulated was and how certain we were that it would get to that point, thus codifying scientific uncertainty so it could be used in political fights. Next up, all science had to be objectively verifiable and reproducible by outside scientists, meaning industry experts. After that, any large-scale regulation needed to face a panel composed of industry reps and private scientists, and any and all questions they raised had to be answered and put to rest. Lastly, courts would be empowered to hold hearings on the science underlying the regulations and throw out the law if they deemed the science inadequate. This meant that industry could get the best lawyer and pseudoscientists into a courtroom, hoodwink a judge not trained in the subject, and get him to throw out the offending regulation.