Finito la Commedia


Update: Norm Colman responds to my “Live Free or Die Horribly” letter!

Update to my previous post “Live Free or Die Horribly“:

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman - aka The Empty SuitI have to give the guy credit: even though I specifically told him that I neither wanted nor expected a reply to my letter because I was sure he would just dismiss me as some “radical,” U.S. Senator Norm Colman sent a thoughtful, if a bit bright-eyed and idealistic, response to my angry e-mail. I think his response shows that he has considered the issues carefully, again to his credit. However, I have to conclude that he has not been watching the news. (Note: All typos below are as they appeared in his original e-mail.) My comments to follow:

Thank you very much for contacting me regarding military commissions for suspected terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay , Cuba .

The Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ruled that a new, Congressionally-mandated system was needed to handle trials of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay . As a result, Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham introduced the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006. This legislation was passed by the Senate on September 28th, 2006, by a bipartisan vote of 65 to 34 with my support. The House subsequently voted on the measure and it was signed into law by the President on September 29th. The MCA provides the statutory framework for military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants, and uses the Uniform Code of Military Justice as the basis.

I believe that in dealing with enemy combatants being tried for war crimes, the U.S. must ensure due process while administering justice. I believe that the trials authorized by the MCA, together with the system currently used to ascertain the status of suspected terrorists, will provide suspected terrorists with due process. Under the MCA, every detainee will have the opportunity to defend himself before a military commission, the structure of which exceeds all of our obligations as signatories of the Geneva Conventions and our own statutes.  Suspected terrorists will even have access to classified evidence being used to prosecute them, with certain protections for our national security.

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More shame for the Bush Administration

Assistant Interior Secretary Caught Rewriting Endangered Species Science

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that high-ranking political appointees within the Department of the Interior have to prevent the protection of several highly imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act. Click here to read the Washington Post story.

This latest example of the abuse of science centers on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald, a civil engineer with no biological training, personally changed scientific conclusions and ordered the agency to refrain from protecting several species under the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act requires the FWS to use the best available science when making decisions regarding what species should be protected under the Act. 

The documents showing MacDonald’s edits and edicts were obtained by several conservation organizations through the Freedom of Information Act. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) brought the documents to the Washington Post in the context of the greater issue of political interference in science. Click here for a summary of the issue and to view the documents.

Through this effort, we have already achieved a notable success: Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) has indicated that he will hold oversight hearings regarding this matter should his party take control of Congress after next week’s elections. But we’re aiming even higher: we’re asking new Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to take concrete steps to restore scientific integrity to the agency.

Sincerely,

Dr. Francesca Grifo
Senior Scientist and Director
UCS Scientific Integrity Program

P.S. The article has also appeared in the following newspapers. You can also consider submitting your letter to one of these publications:

Contra Costa Times
Denver Post
Houston Chronicle
Myrtle Beach Sun News
Rocky Mountain News
Salt Lake Tribune
Seattle Times

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Scientific Integrity Network

The Union of Concerned Scientists relies on individuals like you to support our research and advocacy.
Join us to promote practical, science-based environmental and security solutions.

We are committed to protecting your privacy, your email address will NEVER be sold or exchanged.

[Note from Finito la Commedia: I removed a section of the above message. The message contained a plea to write a letter in response to the above-referenced article to the Washington Post or one of the other newspapers listed. Since the requested letter was to be sent by November 3, 2006, I removed that plea from this view of the UCS’s e-mail.]

If government secrecy wasn’t enough for you, how about government lying?

This appears to be but one example of the Bush Administration’s refusal to believe scientific proof that their positions cause real damage. Indeed, it is an example of how the Bush Administration does not appear to believe in science at all.

Personally, I believe that certain Evangelical Christians have chosen to believe that science is just another belief system that can be disregarded. Unfortunately, in this case, for all of us, science is not the same as religion.

I speak as someone with at least the basic training in science that used to be required by public and private schools. The basic understanding of the scientific method that used to be considered necessary for all educated people.

I also speak as a religious person. Religion is not the same as science, and religious truth is not interchangeable with scientific fact – nor should it be.

In my life, I use scientific fact to further illuminate my understanding of the divine. I don’t use religion to spread false information or to promote irrational public policy.

Shame on those who do.



People who make me want to secede from the Union – part II

It’s Not that We Hate Gay People…Um, Well…Yes, It Is

If your state has a “Defense of Marriage” amendment on the ballot and you’re considering whether to vote for it, you’re probably relatively centrist.

After all, if you hated the very idea of people who are different from you being in committed, loving relationships, you would just vote for the damn thing and hope that would put an end to it.

But if you’re on the fence, please consider this short post so you’ll know who you’re getting into bed with.

I don’t have much to say, except that I have never seen the anti-gay marriage folks state their true objectives so boldly.

Here are some actual quotes from the primarygroup promoting the “Defense of Marriage” amendment in Wisconsin, 2006 – the Family Research Institute and their spokesperson, Julaine Appling.

Julaine Appling - Proof that Satan has infiltrated the Christian church“I think we’ve been extremely tolerant in allowing [homosexuals] to live wherever they choose.”
   – Julaine Appling, Isthmus, September 9, 2005 [a Madison, Wisconsin alternative daily which does not take a position against the amendment]

“Society needs to control sexual activity,” she said. “Anytime that you have rampant sexual activity, with no prescriptions on it, society is headed for trouble.”
-Julaine Appling, Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, “Decision 2006: Wisconsin votes on Same-Sex Marriage,” KARE 11, October 23, 2006

Does that represent your view? If so,

Go Blue State Sesesh!