Thursday, December 14, 2006

Senator Tim Johnson: The Balance of Power

I don't have much time for you this morning, Bush. I'm trying to meet a deadline, and the job is far from finished. But I did want to put in a quick word about the stroke--no matter how you cut it, that's what it seems to be--suffered yesterday by Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota and its possible consequences on the balance of power in American politics.

First, of course, along with all right-thinking people, I wish heartily for the Senator's full and speedy recovery. Then again, I'm not sure what "right"-thinking people are thinking, since it might well serve their cause should the Senator not recover fully enough to serve out his term. If that turned out to be the case, the Republican governor of his home state would be in a position of unimaginable power: he could literally change the course of history with his little finger by tipping the scale in the US Senate back in favor of his own party. That would require, in my view, incredible hubris on his part--to override the decision of the people of his state (to elect a Democrat) for purely partisan political gain.

I don't know anything about the person who occupies the governor's mansion in the state ot South Dakota, but it's a fraught question: would he have the balls to single-handedly corrupt the will of the entire American electorate?

I trust that this one person will never be given this fateful power. I suppose a proponent of the selection of a Republican might bring up the example of Senator Jim Jeffords, who changed his alliegeance--and the balance of power--a few years back. But there it was the choice of a man elected to the seat to follow, presumably, the dictates of his conscience. In the case of Tim Johnson, it would be some other person usurping the power given him by the electorate.

I'm hoping that it doesn't come to this, Bush. I don't know about you. I very much fear that in your own evangelical hubris you might mistake this unfortunate medical event for the action of that higher Father you claim to hear whispering in your ear.


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GringoWithoutBorders said...

Hi Peter, I know this is not applicable to your post but I am pretty positive this will interest you and fellow readers, saw it on BBC website last night:

US scientists reject interference
By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

Some 10,000 US researchers have signed a statement protesting about political interference in the scientific process.

The statement, which includes the backing of 52 Nobel Laureates, demands a restoration of scientific integrity in government policy.

According to the American Union of Concerned Scientists, data is being misrepresented for political reasons.

It claims scientists working for federal agencies have been asked to change data to fit policy initiatives.

The Union has released an "A to Z" guide that it says documents dozens of recent allegations involving censorship and political interference in federal science, covering issues ranging from global warming to sex education.

Campaigners say that in recent years the White House has been able to censor the work of agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration because a Republican congress has been loath to stand up for scientific integrity.

"It's very difficult to make good public policy without good science, and it's even harder to make good public policy with bad science," said Dr Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security.

"In the last several years, we've seen an increase in both the misuse of science and I would say an increase of bad science in a number of very important issues; for example, in global climate change, international peace and security, and water resources."

The statement was released at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting. It is an annual gathering of Earth scientists.

Last year, it triggered a major row when a discussion here resulted in the renowned US space agency climate scientist Dr James Hansen later claiming he had come under pressure not to talk to the media on global warming issues.

Michael Halpern from the UCS said the statement of objection to political interference had been supported by researchers regardless of their political views.

"This science statement that has now been signed by the 10,000 scientists is signed by science advisers to both Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to President Eisenhower, stating that this is not business as usual and calling for this practice to stop," he told BBC News.

The Union said is was hopeful that the new Congress taking office in January would show a greater commitment to protecting the integrity of the scientific process.

PK said...

Yeah, I woke up to this this morning. I sure do wish him a speedy recovery too! But even if he takes his time, he shouldn't be shut out of his position. There are those that have had problems before and been able to keep their positions. Like you say though, if that nut case gets it in his head to try to do something about getting rid of him, we may have problems. We also have another situation with something like, I think I read, 18,000 votes not counted in one state. The computer just nixed them altogether. I signed a petition for a re-vote in that state. Otherwise we are going to have a Republican, and that is going to throw this katty whompus too. So we have 2 Dems in situations right now. I'm quite sure that Bush has been appraised of this by now. Well, it's off to snoop the Net to find out more about what's happening with all this;D. Have a nice evening Peter.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, Gringo, for posting the piece about the scientists. It's past time for this kind of public statement from the world of science, so badly trashed by our numbskull leader. And PK, always a pleasure to hear your voice! Chhers, PaL

GringoWithoutBorders said...

If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around,does it make a sound?

If a protest screams and there is no media to cover it, does it make a sound?