Pandering to Ignorance

Is the US Becoming Hostile to Science?: “In the past five years, the scientific community has often seemed at odds with the Bush administration over issues as diverse as global warming, stem cell research and environmental protection. Prominent scientists have also charged the administration with politicizing science by seeking to shape data to its own needs while ignoring other research.

Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians have built a powerful position within the Republican Party and no Republican, including Bush, can afford to ignore their views.” (Reuters)

All the vice president’s men

Juan Cole: The ideologues in Cheney’s inner circle drummed up a war. Now their zealotry is blowing up in their faces.: “Most of the members of Cheney’s inner circle were neoconservative ideologues, who combined hawkish American triumphalism with an obsession with Israel. This does not mean that the war was fought for Israel, although it is undeniable that Israeli concerns played an important role. The actual motivation behind the war was complex, and Cheney’s team was not the only one in the game. The Bush administration is a coalition of disparate forces — country club Republicans, realists, representatives of oil and other corporate interests, evangelicals, hardball political strategists, right-wing Catholics, and neoconservative Jews allied with Israel’s right-wing Likud party. Each group had its own rationale for going to war with Iraq.

Bush himself appears to have had an obsession with restoring family honor by avenging the slight to his father produced by Saddam’s remaining in office after the Gulf War. Cheney was interested in the benefits of a war to the oil industry, and to the military-industrial complex in general. It seems likely that the Iraq war, which produced billions in no-bid contracts for the company he headed in the late 1990s, saved Halliburton from bankruptcy. The evangelicals wanted to missionize Iraqis. Karl Rove wanted to turn Bush into a war president to ensure his reelection. The neoconservatives viewed Saddam’s Iraq as a short-term danger to Israel, and in the long term, they hoped that overthrowing the Iraqi Baath would transform the entire Middle East, rather as Kamal Ataturk, who abolished the offices of Ottoman emperor and Sunni caliph in the 1920s, had brought into being a relatively democratic Turkey that was allied with Israel. (This fantastic analogy was suggested by Princeton emeritus professor and leading neoconservative ideologue Bernard Lewis.) This transformation would be beneficial to the long-term security of both the United States and Israel.

None of these rationales would have been acceptable across the board, or persuasive with Congress or the American public, so the various factions focused on the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately for them, this rationale was discovered to be a mirage. And in the course of trying to punish those who were pointing out that the emperor had no clothes — or, in this case, that the dictator had no weapons of mass destruction — Cheney and Bush’s underlings went too far. Ironically, their attempt to silence critics succeeded only in turning a harsh light on their own actions and motivations.” (Salon)

The Bad News

“At his news conference, Mr. Fitzgerald did not explain his reasons for taking no action against Mr. Rove, even though the prosecutor had advised him that he might be indicted and had continued interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence as recently as midweek.

Lawyers in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald had misgivings about whether he could prove that Mr. Rove had deliberately sought to mislead investigators about his conversation with a reporter. Allies of Mr. Bush said the expectation within the White House was that Mr. Rove would not be charged although he had received no official word of being cleared.” (New York Times )