Blogs

Bush's EPA Pollutes Science

| Mon May 5, 2008 5:11 PM EDT

periodic-table-FINAL.gif

The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Check out the interactive version.

Science Soviet style! More than half the scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency report political interference in their work over the last five years. This, according to a new investigation by the Union of Concerned Scientists, follows on the heels of prior UCS investigations (Food and Drug Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as climate scientists at seven federal agencies). The earlier examinations also found significant manipulation of federal science by the Bush administration.

"Our investigation found an agency in crisis," said UCS's Francesca Grifo. "Nearly 900 EPA scientists reported political interference in their scientific work. That's 900 too many. Distorting science to accommodate a narrow political agenda threatens our environment, our health, and our democracy itself."

Among the UCS report's top findings on the EPA: • 889 scientists (60 percent) said they had personally experienced at least one instance of political interference in their work over the last five years. • 394 scientists (31 percent) personally experienced frequent or occasional "statements by EPA officials that misrepresent scientists' findings." • 285 scientists (22 percent) said they frequently or occasionally personally experienced "selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome." • 224 scientists (17 percent) said they had been "directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from an EPA scientific document." • Of the 969 agency veterans with more than 10 years of EPA experience, 409 scientists (43 percent) said interference has occurred more often in the past five years than in the previous five-year period. Only 43 scientists (4 percent) said interference occurred less often. • Hundreds of scientists reported being unable to openly express concerns about the EPA's work without fear of retaliation; 492 (31 percent) felt they could not speak candidly within the agency and 382 (24 percent) felt they could not do so outside the agency.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Awkward Sports Metaphor of the Day

| Mon May 5, 2008 4:23 PM EDT

I'm going to start referring to America as the "home team."

"We're going to knock balls out of the country's park," [Hillary Clinton] says, standing in a minor-league baseball stadium, "for the home team, which is America."

In Case You Forgot John Bolton Is Crazy

| Mon May 5, 2008 4:02 PM EDT

bolton130.jpg He went on Fox News and had this to say about Iran arming militants in Iraq:

"I think this is a case where the use of military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we're not going to tolerate this is really the most prudent thing to do."

More on Bolton, plus video of the quote with the obligatory braindead+militaristic Fox News anchor at, Think Progress.

Politics, Pandering, and Policy at the Pump: Who Wins?

| Mon May 5, 2008 1:53 PM EDT

hillary-clinton-at-gas-station-250x200.jpg We've made it clear how we feel about the gas tax holiday being proposed by Sens. McCain and Clinton: It's a boondoggle.

Seemingly every economist in America agrees. But the economists are in the wrong subfield of punditry: they look at the relevant numbers, come to a conclusion, and violavoilà — their moment in the spotlight is over. On the other hand, political analysts and campaign correspondents, unburdened by facts, can and have speculated for weeks about a question like which candidate the gas tax kerfuffle helps more. I've avoided entering this discussion, because the only way to comment seriously is to go to Indiana and North Carolina and conduct in-depth conversations with dozens of voters.

But what the hell.

Clinton on Iraq: Got Some Explaining to Do?

| Mon May 5, 2008 1:17 PM EDT

There's a 2005 Face the Nation excerpt floating around the web that makes it look like Hillary Clinton was once sympathetic to John McCain's argument that a long-term occupation of Iraq isn't objectionable as long as American casualties are down.

Senator McCain made the point earlier today, which I agree with, and that is, it's not so much a question of time when it comes to American military presence for the average American; I include myself in this. But it is a question of casualties.
We don't want to see our young men and women dying and suffering these grievous injuries that so many of them have. We've been in South Korea for 50-plus years. We've been in Europe for 50-plus. We're still in Okinawa with respect to protection there coming out of World War II.
You know, we have been in places for very long periods of time. And in recent history, we've made a commitment to Bosnia and Kosovo, and I think what is different is the feeling that we're on a track that is getting better and that we can see how the Iraqi government will begin to assume greater and greater responsibility. The elections were key to that. The training, equipment, equipping and motivating of the Iraqi security forces is key to that. But so is our understanding that if we were to artificially set a deadline of some sort, that would be like a green light to the terrorists, and we can't afford to do that.

Clinton says we've been in South Korea "for 50-plus years," but doesn't explicitly say that she approves of a similar situation in Iraq. She might just be counseling caution to those who, in 2005, had already seen enough of the war. Her argument might be, in other words, "Look, other conflicts have taken decades. Let's be patient."

But this situation does raise new questions Clinton should answer. Did she ever support a 50-year occupation, or think of it as one of many acceptable outcomes? When and why did she switch to her current position?

The Weekly Standard Does Not Have the Democrats' Best Interests At Heart

| Mon May 5, 2008 10:55 AM EDT

Over at the Plank, Chris Orr approvingly excerpts a Weekly Standard article that claims Hillary Clinton is "running a right-wing campaign."

Bad idea. Clinton does attack Obama from the right and does use classic right-wing frames, so I can understand why Orr might see the Standard's point. In fact, he's welcome to try to make the point on his own. But progressives shouldn't use conservatives' arguments as evidence or confirmation. The mouthpieces of the far Right don't make their arguments about internal Democratic politics in good faith. They seek to divide progressives and fuel whatever media meme is most damaging to the Democratic Party at the moment.

As evidence, take a look at what the Standard piece accomplishes. First, it tars Hillary as a do-anything-to-win politician who is willing to change her core identity in a quest for power:

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Oh, I Forgot to Mention

| Mon May 5, 2008 10:15 AM EDT

Obama won Guam. It was close. He and Clinton will split the territory's four delegates evenly.

Lawmakers Continue to Push for Investigation of Pentagon Puppets

| Mon May 5, 2008 9:35 AM EDT

Building on the early efforts of Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), forty members of Congress have sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, demanding an investigation of the now-suspended Pentagon puppets scandal. Can't be long before the Waxman gets involved, I suspect.

RumInt: New Bush Iran Finding?

| Fri May 2, 2008 4:58 PM EDT

Counterpunch's Andrew Cockburn reports today that six weeks ago, Bush signed a new Iran "finding" that expands US aid to opposition groups to the Tehran regime:

Bush's secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Chasing down such a potentially explosive report on one of Washington's first balmy Friday afternoons is a challenge. Asked if the report sounded plausible, one Hill source contacted indicated, no, it does not. A second responded, "I have no information to support or refute this article. However, [the report's] credibility is undermined by the notion that a ship commander, during a moment of crisis that only is of several minutes duration, would have the time and luck to reach the CENTCOM head to solicit his advice and feedback during this short window of time."

Will keep chasing. Stay tuned.

Music: Just How Good is the New Portishead Album?

| Fri May 2, 2008 3:14 PM EDT

mojo-photo-portisheadthirdcover.jpgOkay, I promise that my week-long series of Coachella afterglow posts will come to an end right after this one. In fact, while my appreciation of the long-dormant Bristol combo Portishead was confirmed by their spectacular performance in the desert Saturday night, I'd been enjoying their new album, Third, for a while. While I (lovingly) mocked it a while back here on the Riff for the, er, intensity of its lyrical misery, there's something exhilarating about Third. It's that rarest of comeback albums: less a return to form than a return to function, evidence of a band's determination to explore new musical territory (and new depths of despair), just as they always have.

After the jump: what's Rob Sheffield's damage?