John McCain - the anti-science candidate

I am not sure how much interest there is in American politics, but being American, I thought I would throw a couple of things out there.

I did not watch the presidential debates (no coverage, and not enough bandwidth to download a 90 minute debate). However I have read some discussions and some transcripts on them.

I would think that Americans in science, science education, or any parent wanting a proper science education for their children would have made more of an issue about McCain’s remarks about a projector in the last two debates.
For background on the matter, the Adler Planatarium in Chicago has a projector that is 40 years old. It is so old that they can’t get parts to repair it, and Obama set out an earmark for $3 million to replace it (as well as some other improvements at the planetarium).
This has been characterized by McCain as “pork barrel” spending and further called it “foolishness”.
It should be plain what his views on science education is.
Furthermore, he kept referring to this projector as “an overhead projector”. Now, he is either totally ignorant of what a planetarium does, or (and I think this more likely given the lies throughout his campaign) he is being dishonest and trying make it seem that Obama wants to spend millions on a simple piece of office equipment.
Phil Plait has a more extensive post.

The remarks on the funding of the projector is an indicator of what the administration’s attitude toward science and science education will be should John McCain become president.
The US has been steadily losing her dominance in various sciences and engineering for too long. Bush exacerbated this by educating foreigners at US institutions, but not allowing them to remain in the country afterwards, and this could continue under McCain.

While McCain has talked the talk with regard to Climate Change, he has voted the party line when it comes to research and change. And that party line has been to deny that anthropogenic global warming occurs at all until overwhelming evidence is produced that it does. The Bush administration used junk science for years to drag their feet on this issue, and to this day fight tooth and nail against making any real changes. McCain will likely not make real changes during the next four years either.

Furthermore, because of the Republican pandering to the religious right, we are already years behind in stem cell research. McCain has made clear that research in this area would continue to lag behind the rest of the world until research in the US would become irrelevant if he is in power.
Tax money for research at Universities in general has slid so far down the scale, that it will soon be impossible for any but the largest Universities to conduct it. McCain is unlikely to change this trend where Obama almost certainly will try to push those levels back up.

In spite of a devastating court defeat in Dover, Pennsylvania last year, there are efforts under way all over the country to slip Creationism into the public school systems. While the seperation of church and state is in the constitution, so is beyond the administration’s control, any person who supports religion in the science classroom should not get a single vote from anyone who cares about science education. I have not heard McCain explicitly say that we should “teach the controversy” as Bush did, but, I get the strong suspicion that he feels the same when I read some of his statements.

The bloggers over at ScienceBlogs organized Science Debate 2008, which never became an actual debate, but they did get the candidates’ responses to some basic questions about science and politics. The answers, of course, should be considered in light of each trying to win an election, but if you read carefully, it seems McCain will not change the status quo of the Bush administration when it comes to stem cell research, public school funding, research funding, among others. And change is needed. Urgently. To see some scientists’ analysis of the answers, do a search at There are many.

Finally, while not directly related to science education, but indirectly will affect the funding of it, is the current state of the economy. McCain has consistently supported Bush’s policies that brought this crisis about in the first place. This is not suprising because he repeatedly stated that he did not know much about economics until he started claiming that he could get us out of this.

Right now, it is looking good for Obama. I hope it stays that way because McCain will be a disaster for the US.

Although I am not from the US, I think so too. A possible worse scenario is that his homeopathic medicine and his imaginary boogeyman fail to prevent him from keeling over and Sarah Palin steps into his shoes! (The link is interactive - check inside the dustbin!) :slight_smile:

I thought exactly that when I re-read my post. The fact that she is one myocardial infarction away from the oval office is horrifying. OTOH, I would need another, much longer, post to address the problems (or even scratch the surface) with Palin.

Not to rain on your (or the world’s future) parade, but we’ve discussed the Obama/McCain contest at length with an acquaintance who served in the US diplomatic corps at a fairly senior level for over two decades. His opinion is that the average US Joe and Jane, i.e. the voting majority, are still too conservative to elect a non-white, non-older-male president.

Let’s hope his assessment is wrong because a president who shares a name with an Australian frozen vegetable organisation is just too creepy…


How long ago did your acquaintance say this?
I really thought the same as him/her during the primaries, but the numbers have changed quite a lot since then. Analyzing the numbers on the swing states that are left, it will take something dramatic for McCain to pull out a win. The Democrats are turning out in huge numbers as well pushing some pretty big registration drives.
That the McCain campaign has turned so negative, is a sign that these things are working (when one goes this negative, it is usually desperation). Obama has been winning the debates with the undecided voters according all but the most conservative run polls.
Also, from the time this credit crisis started a few weeks back, there has been a 10 point swing in the polls.
It could be said that all those undecided voters will, at the last minute feel that we are not ready for a young black president, but as we mentioned above, I think they will be more afraid of having someone like Palin as second in command.
I do still worry about this election, but I am cautiously optimistic at this point.

Hmm, you may have a point. The discussion took place about a month, maybe six weeks, ago. As said, let’s hope the negativity is unwarranted.


Yes, let’s hope.
I should also mention a couple of other things that are positive.

His negative campaining has raised the ire of some other influential Republicans at least one of whom has un-endorsed him. He has basically conceded Michigan since he also pulled out of campaigning in the state to put his funds in other states.
He is not even getting unified support from his own party, which I think was crucial for him to have a shot.

The above article gives the scenarios for which states McCain will have to win, and it seems Florida has really become “a toss up”.
Finally, if Colin Powell (a major Republican influence) endorses Obama, I think it is definitely over for McCain.
Regarding your first response, since I read it, I keep picturing a political ad on TV with the fade out saying “Think again. Think McCain.” :smiley:

Maybe the appropriate slogan should be, “Think again. Think, ‘Oh crap, not McCain!’”


Thanks for that, my keyboard got wine spewed on it ;D…
If only they had the same ads for McCain veggies in the US, we could make some really awesome parody ads on YouTube.

I am personally getting tired of the two horse race (hey, at least that’s better than South Africa’s one horse race - but I digress).

I have been reading a lot of diverse blogs over the past few weeks (since the Biden - Palin debate) and I have found that the debates have had no effect on party loyalty. Thinking that I might find just one republican write that Palin was a disgrace in the debate, I was sorely disappointed to find not one case of that happening. Instead, in what seems like the strangest dismissal of cognative dissonance there were many bloggers saying how brilliant Palin was and how she had won! If either candidate stood up during the debate and said nothing but “wooobleegoo” in response to all question then the supporters would find some way to defend that (probably saying that he/she had guts to show that the question was ridiculous and was making a stand against media control, or something).

The electioneering seems to be a formality, especially when we look at people like these bigoted southerners who would need a surgeon to actually change their mind because evidence is apparently not good enough. They continue to chant “he’s a terrorist” and “he’s not a christian” despite the evidence.

But then, today, I had a moment that made me have faith in the political system of the richest democracy in the world; today, Electronic Arts, under the banner of their upcoming game Red Alert 3 have announced that incumbent president Ackerman will be entering the race and have launched campaign commercials with his tagline “Vote for me, if you want to live”.

That moment of faith didn’t last long, unfortunately; the duration was measured on the imaginary scale.


It is not always so simple as being a two horse race, although they are usually the only two parties with a realistic chance of winning.
This election we have seen much less activity with the smaller parties because the issues are so polarized for most people.

Finally, if Colin Powell (a major Republican influence) endorses Obama, I think it is definitely over for McCain.
Good news: He has done so. He also is not the only one to have done so. A few conservative newspapers have evidently endorsed Obama as well. It seems that the only supporters that McCain is holding on to are the ignorant, racist, bigotted, creationist, kooks.

Here’s another McCain supporter that will blow your mind!

It was so hard not to bash my head on my desk while watching that. She’s basing her vote on which candidate has the most faith. She shouldn’t even bother to vote anyway seeing as her god will provide, blah,blah,blah…

I just had to add the following as well… :wink:

"Let me see if I have this straight…
If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you’re ‘exotic, different.’.Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack, you’re a radical, unpatriotic Muslim. Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you’re a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard Law School and you are unstable.
Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you’re well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer, become the
first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and
Veteran’s Affairs committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to become the country’s second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 daughters, all within Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian. If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, left your wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society. If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state’s school system while your unwed
teen daughter ends up pregnant , you’re very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent America. If you’re husband is nicknamed ‘First Dude’, with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn’t register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now. "

You must be slow if you only understand these things now. They should be obvious, and the only reason Obama is leading is because he is hypnotizing millions of unsuspecting Americans. ;D

On the serious side, McCain continues to hemorrage supports, but I am still not breathing completely easy yet.

I know a few people who will agree with you on that. :wink:

I agree with you. I’ve been following the candidates quite closely, I have a friend in Indianappolis and we chat a few times a week, so I get news from her perspective too. I was very glad to see Colin Powell come out in support of Obama. My concern is that although people may say they’re supporting him, they may change their minds when they vote and decide that they’re not ready for a black President.

The last sentence in that link you added stood out:-

We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.

That’s so true.

BTW, I don’t post often, but I read the forum daily and just wanted to say that some of us did miss you and welcome back. ;D


So far it is still looking positive :slight_smile:

Again, sorry I am thrashing the forum with the US elections, but it is getting close, and no one is forced to read my crap ;D
I actually didn’t know there was a term for what I have discussed with many people here including with 'Luthon64 in this thread, but it is called the Bradley effect when people say they will vote for someone, but then do not because of skin color.
Some don’t think it will have any effect on results as opposed to polling data for Obama.
Let’s hope he is correct.

No, please continue. It’s very relevant to all of us. I’m sure anyone concerned with the role of science and religion in modern society is keeping an eye on this one…

I picked this up from Pharyngula this morning; it’s probably one of the reasons why McCain couldn’t tell the difference between and overhead projector and a planetarium projector.

Dear friends, In these times, with extremely serious, complicated crisises confronting us both economically and internationally, we need to have intelligent, educated people as president & vice president:

Educational Background:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B.A.
Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism