A Blog Around The Clock

In a few minutes, I will post the interview with Sen. John Edwards on this blog. All the questions are related to science (and yes, it was not easy to cut down the number of questions and the length of each question – there is so much to ask) so they should be of interest to the readers of this blog.

As I am not a journalist or an analyst who needs to preserve an appearance of ‘balance’, I have always been unabashedly open about my support for John Edwards, first in 1998 when he ran for the Senate (that was the first election I could vote in after becoming a US citizen), then in 2003/04 when he ran for President (and subsequently Vice-President), and finally now, as he is running for President again.

Feel free to search this blog (or my old blog) for his name and see what I have written in his support before.

I have not been in the past, nor am I now, officially connected to the campaign (though I walk my dog in front of the Headquarters every day and say Hi to staffers I recognize), but I am a big fan. And hey, we are neighbors – a few months after I moved from Raleigh to Chapel Hill, John and Elizabeth did the same.

As I’ll be running to work (my brand new job) in a few minutes, I will not be able to hang around and moderate comments. I hope you all stay civil and on topic – I know it is politics and trolls will come out of the woodwork, but ignore them and I will clean up the thread when I come back online tonight.

Also in a few minutes, I will post links to the interview on DailyKos, MyDD, TPM Cafe, Science And Politics, Liberal Coalition and, of course, the Edwards campaign blog. I’ll add the specific links here once I have them, so you can see what others are saying and perhaps want to comment on those places as well.

If you are interested in more details of Edwards’ policy proposals related to science, technology, medicine and environment, check them out directly on the John Edwards campaign website and search the Issues and Press Releases.

You may also want to read and write comments on my diary on DailyKos, mydiary on MyDD, my diary on the Edwards blog, my diary on TPM Cafe, my post on Science And Politics and my post on The Liberal Coalition.

Also, read the commentary by other people (to be updated as links come in): Kevin Beck, Argo, Anterior Commissure, Omni Brain, Unscrewing the Inscrutable, Ed Cone, Griftdrift, Pharyngula, The Greenbelt, Backreaction, Mark Adams, Dispassionate Liberal, As Ohio Goes…, Blog For Edwards, Billy the Blogging Poet, Philgoblue, Corpus Callosum, Thus Spake Zuska, Pithing Contest, The Voltage Gate, Laelaps, Shakesville, .Benny’s Blog, Democratic Underground, Space Politics, Thoughts From Kansas, Hope for Pandora, Dispatches From The Culture Wars, Yesh, Gene Expression, Metachat, Accidental Blogger, Neurophilosophy, TPM Election Central, Seed Zeitgeist, Pam’s House Blend, The Scientific Activist, Mythusmage Opines, Wired Science, EENR at DailyKos, NCDemAmy on MyDD, Dragyn’s Breath, Boston for Edwards, All These Worlds, Treehugger, Election Geek, America on Mars, Mass Eyes & Ears, Lance Mannion, …

Comments

  1. #1 Bee
    July 9, 2007

    Thanks for making this possible, really interesting. Reg. the last point I’d like to add the US should put more effort in international exchange programs for undergrad/grad students/postdocs e.g. with scholarships. How many students/postdocs from the US spend a year or two overseas? I couldn’t even name a handfull who I’ve met.

  2. #2 greensmile
    July 9, 2007

    This is awesome, Bora! I just hosted one of the MoveOn house parties for the planet Saturday and while it was fair exposure for each candidate, most of us felt we had not really heard any of the candidates in enough detail to make better informed choices.

    This interview is more likely to settle a few minds…I hope lots of people are reading.

  3. #3 Gerard Harbison
    July 9, 2007

    Nice job of serving up softball questions.

    Why didn’t you ask him about using discredited theories of the origin of cerebral palsy to extort money from Ob-Gyns for birth defects they had no part in creating?

  4. Bora,
    Thanks for this great interview. I hpe others will read it and see it for what it is: straight talk from a man who knows what he’s talking about.

  5. #5 Dave Beckwith
    July 9, 2007

    It is said that in Hell, Frank Luntz gets to ask all the questions, but in Heaven, Bora the Coturnix has that job. What does this mean? I’m not sure. I’m still trying to find out who said it. I think it may have been me. But be that as it may, I still contend that there is wisdom in the proclamation. And the wisdom here is made sweeter by the fact that the person being questioned is our own beloved Senator John Edwards…a man who, if fate had allowed to remain inchoate, would alas have had to be invented, since the subjects of his concern — the poor and the as-yet-empowered — have multiplied so decisively under the George the Unready.

    We at the anonyMoses Blog headquarters would like to applaude both Bora and Mr. Edwards for this inspiring exchange, with hopes that there will be a series of such forays into the intelligence of those who would be president, because it has become quite clear that the high-paid “professional” questioners are, themselves, questionable…seeking mainly, or so it seems, to stay within the frame of their paymasters who, in large part, control the outcomes of the elections.

    A friend once said that ecology should become the new religion, and as the world begins to suffer more and more because of the nescience of “leaders”, I am beginning to see the wisdom of such a vision. Science is indeed the engine of innovation, and will, alas, move us beyond our superstitions of fear and want.

    Encore!

  6. #6 Robert P.
    July 9, 2007

    This is great Bora. Glad to see candidates, especially MY candidate answering questions about science. The right-wingers are more than happy to talk about NOT believing in science and evolution, we need to be out there pushing back.

  7. #7 Benny
    July 9, 2007

    I thought it was an excellent interview. I get so tired of wedge questions such as “Do you believe in Evolution” from the RWN machines. These were more succinct and genuine, and answered as such.

    Congrats on your new job in the big field of scientific scholarly communication. PLoS is an important place to see cutting edge research and done so because we need to see the new ideas quicker than what one sees in the money-mongering publishers who continue to rack up profits on the backs of libraries which cannot afford their sticker shock prices.

  8. #8 Valerie
    July 9, 2007

    I teach at a local university and work in a health research laboratory. I am pleased to see that you asked how we are going to encourage young people to enter the fields of science. I get so discouraged when I go to scientific conferences and see few women and Americans represented. I also hear my students say how science is “boring” or takes “too much time” to earn advanced degrees. Fact is, few young people actually KNOW a scientist or know what they do every day. Or, they see their tenure-track professors and can’t imagine themselves in those roles. As a country we have to change this or else our innovative edge and economy will suffer as we will have to buy the technology from other places.

    I would have liked to have seen you ask a question about government funding levels for independent research. Right now,for example, the National Institute of Health is only awarding about 10% of all first-time submitted proposals for research. I’ve been a researcher for a long time and can’t remember when rates were this low. I’m not sure about the other agencies but it sure doesn’t propel our country into cutting-edge concepts because everyone will feel pressured to “play it safe.” Keep up the good work and representing science, a crucial topic for USA’s global standing.

  9. #9 Jeff
    July 9, 2007

    I consider a good interview being one that asks tough questions, not playing into the interviewee’s hands. This was not a good interview.

    He was allowed to attack others without any proof of basis. He was allowed to promote what “current science” is saying, again with no proof of basis.

    The fact is that even the scientists who worked for Gore on his documentary say facts were distorted.

    Global warming is real. The human effect on global warming is also real, although relatively negligent comparatively speaking. Why don’t “science promoters” like Edwards talk about the cyclic trend in global warming/cooling in recorded and even non-recorded history? Because it doesn’t suit their campaign.

    Edwards is merely another politician saying what he thinks we want to hear to get his backside in the comfy chair in the oval office. What we need instead is someone like Truman who had more respect for the office than himself.

    Bad interview, bad discussion. Another play-into-the-hands-of-the-politician piece of garbage can fodder.

  10. #10 llewelly
    July 9, 2007

    The human effect on global warming is also real, although relatively negligent comparatively speaking.

    I agree. It is indeed negligent of humans to cause global warming.

  11. #11 Phil
    July 9, 2007

    I’m all for encouraging HS and college kids to go into the sciences and engineering, but let’s not forget the many advantages of the humanities/liberal arts. The core programs in HS and colleges and universities should strongly emphasize humanities/liberal arts.

    Honestly, after the core in the first and second years, we should be pushing kids into the sciences, tech and engineering, and especially away from (what I consider to be) the largely useless business school programs.

    We need well-rounded folks that can make things.

    Great interview Bora, congrats to you and John for really reaching out the the blogosphere (and understand that it aint just DailyKos).

  12. #12 Peggy
    July 9, 2007

    MSM really doesn’t seem interested in asking the candidates questions about science and science education (other than the “believe in evolution” gotcha). Thanks for getting Edwards’ take on science issues on the record. Are you planning a series with the other candidates? I hope yes.

  13. #13 Elayne Riggs
    July 9, 2007

    I have a question, Bora:

    Good lord, when do you sleep???

  14. #14 thomas robey
    July 9, 2007

    What are Edwards’ views on embryonic stem cell research?

  15. #15 Ferris Valyn
    July 9, 2007

    I wish you could’ve talked more about spaceflight. Espcially manned spaceflight, but more importantly, the private spaceflight industry. However, I do have to take severe issue with your arguement that manned spaceflight is of dubious scientific value. From a pure “trying to understand the unverse” perspective, it is argueable that it doesn’t have a scientific value. However, manned spaceflight (and more specifically, space colonization) can play a huge role in dealing with things like global warming, economic development (like the brain drain issue), and the development of new technology.

    Now, I admit, Orion is of dubious value, but then, it did come from the Bush administration – if it came from them, its almost certainly of dubious value.

    But Orion isn’t the end all of manned spaceflight. That is why I am particularly interested in private manned spaceflight – much more exciting things are happening there.

    But this brings me back to my original point – manned spaceflight isn’t of dubious scientific value. In fact, I would argue its short-sighted and unscientific not to use space colonization as an answer to some (if not many) of our problems.

  16. #16 kate
    July 9, 2007

    congrats, bora – this is exactly the dialogue that we as scientists need to open up, and exactly the info that we as voters need to hear. well done.

  17. #17 Nick Anthis
    July 9, 2007

    Well done, Bora. It’s nice to see the Democrats taking bloggers, scientists, and (gasp!) science bloggers seriously.

    I’d like to hear a little more detail from Edwards about how an Edwards Administration would tackle declining success rates of NIH grants and declining support for basic science at NASA, as well as how the U.S. can make up for the years it’s lost in not federally funding embryonic stem cell research during the Bush Administration. I’d like to hear a detailed plan for avoiding political interference in science from throughout the executive branch. In addition, I’d like to see him include nuclear energy as one point in a comprehensive plan for addressing global warming.

    Regardless, though, this is great.

  18. #18 machka
    July 9, 2007

    I’m so glad you actually got to do this, Bora.

    As with other commenters on this thread, I agree that it’s good to see a presidential candidate taking the time to talk about scientific issues — and that he sees the connection btwn these scientific issues and “real-life” campaign issues.

    Good job.

  19. #19 bsci
    July 10, 2007

    I second Gerard Harbison’s comment on Edwards’ days as a malpractice lawyer. I would never vote for Edwards in the primary and have serious concerns voting for him in a general election until he frankly and directly addresses his malpractice lawyer days.

    Sure he can make some nice sound bites on how is loves science and science education, but when he had a chance to abuse science to make a profit at the expense of doctors’ careers he didn’t respect the science. For that matter, I’ve never heard him say anything about what should be done with the current malpractice system. How he can propose universal health without mentioning his former profession (in many statements of his that I’ve read) boggles my mind and makes me think he’s a dishonest lawyer willing to say or do anything to get elected. He can change my perspective by addressing my issues about, but, considering he’s been on the national stage for over 4 years and hasn’t yet doesn’t give me much hope.

  20. #20 llewelly
    July 10, 2007

    However, manned spaceflight (and more specifically, space colonization) can play a huge role in dealing with things like global warming, economic development (like the brain drain issue), and the development of new technology.

    The zeroth requirement of space colonization is the demonstration that humans can build a working, sustainable, human tribe-supporting ecology, which is a nearly closed system, having the sole input of energy in a form readily available in space (e.g. solar) . Without that, all manned spaceflight is wasteful pig excrement. The last effort to develop such an independent ecology, ‘biosphere 2′ was poorly run, and ultimately corrupted. No attempt has been made since.
    I grew up reading science fiction, and following space shuttle flights. So I have certain amount of empathy for those who dream of space colonization. But what we have today is manned space flight whose sole function is to demonstrate that it is good for nothing, and appallingly expensive. Without an independent human-sustaining ecology, manned space flight is just an extremely expensive way to poison dreams.

  21. #22 Ambitwistor
    July 10, 2007

    Does Edwards really think we can cut GHG emissions by 80% in ~40 years? That’s almost a complete decarbonization of our economy in a few decades (unless he thinks we can sequester a lot of it). I feel the Democratic candidates all want to name a bigger number for abatement than their competitors, without regard to what is realistic.

    Jeff,
    The human effect on global warming is far from negligible. I wonder what you think the dominant contribution is. There is also no “cyclic trend” in temperature that is evident in the recorded or reconstructed observational record, other than very long term periods like the ice age cycle.

  22. #23 Ferris Valyn
    July 10, 2007

    llewelly,
    We don’t opperate individual communities that way, or even countries. Many places on earth aren’t self sufficent, by themselves. However, human society, as a whole, is self sufficent. The key point is being able to pay for imports out of your own pocket – ie economic self-sustainablity, not ecological.

    Space can easily be economically self-sustaining – when the COST of transport is actually reflected in the PRICE of transport. Because the current prices for going into space aren’t accurate compared to the costs.

    Furthermore, this can’t just be a governmental endevour – thats key. Private industry has to play a role, which is why I am excited about things like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX. Because right now, because of how things are set up, the price to space tell many people/companies/organizations that space is too expensive for them. But that is beginning to change with the companies I’ve mentioned.

    With low cost access to space, we open up possiblities, for things like space solar power, zero-g manufacturing, off planet mining, and countless other possiblities. But we have to have cheap access, which we are very close to having. Just as we have embraced the alternative energy industry, we need to embrace the space industry.

    Without embracing space colonization, I’d argue we are looking at failure on many levels, from an ecological standpoint, to an economic standpoint, to even a socialogical standpoint. We can’t save the earth if we focus only on the earth – we have to look at enlarging what we consider earth.

  23. #24 mollishka
    July 10, 2007

    What we need instead is someone like Truman who had more respect for the office than himself.

    … you mean the guy who so successfully got us into a cushy 40 year cold war?

    I also wish the question on NASA hadn’t been so skirted; as an astronomer, I have a strong interest in what’s going to happen to that particular budget after the Oval Office change.

    I also wish it was easier to get the bottom line on ethanol fuel; everything I’ve heard is that it’s not as good (and might even be bad) for the environment and the economy as proponents would lead us to believe … how does it work to be against large farm subsidies but for ethanol fuel?

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