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The Future of Science Research

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In the bigger context of the horrors to come, the future of science research in this country seems perhaps less significant than attacks on immigrants, Muslim watch lists, etc. But it’s also utterly baffling that we have an entire political party hostile to basic science. And of course it’s not only climate science. It’s a combination of hostility to any government funding for anything that is not defense or an opportunity for personal graft with a disbelief in the basic principles of science. And it’s really frightening because these people have access to the levers of power.

President-elect Donald Trump recently picked Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina to head the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Like many of Trump’s other Cabinet nominees, Mulvaney seems to have a disturbingly low opinion of science.

In a stunning September 9 Facebook post (that’s since been deleted but is still cached), Mulvaney asked, “… what might be the best question: do we really need government funded research at all.”

The post was written in the midst of a heated debate in Congress about how much more money to allocate to the fight against the Zika virus. It wasn’t clear whether Mulvaney, a budget hawk, was referring to all of the government’s scientific research or just to government-funded research on Zika. (We’ve asked his office for comment and haven’t heard back.)

But Mother Jones’s Pema Levy pointed out that Mulvaney exaggerated the uncertainty around the link between the birth defect microcephaly and Zika to cast doubt on the need for Zika research funding. His argument, in other words, was: Scientists aren’t sure what’s going on with Zika, so why do we need research?

The future epidemics rolling over America will be fun. But both sides do it or something so let’s not be partisan in our criticisms!

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  • Warren Terra

    See also Gizmodo‘s post today about how awful the House Science Committee has become, and how trying it is to be a sane person on that commitee. It’s mostly or maybe even entirely about climate change, which is unfortunate – hugely important as that issue is I’d have liked to see other issues discussed.

    • petesh

      Thanks for that link; shocking but not surprising. Yes, follow-ups on other issues would be welcome and would (I strongly suspect) come to the same conclusion: These people are dangerous idiots. OK, it’s not news, but it bears repeating with chapter and verse.

      As one who favors sensible, moderate regulation of fast-developing technologies, especially in the gene-editing and related fields, I remember with horror the stem-cell wars of the early 2000s, which pitted the knee-jerk religious right against scientists who (understandably but unfortunately) all too often took a somewhat libertarian position and simultaneously over-promised cures. It was hard trying to establish the middle ground that Obama finally occupied. But the next couple of years could be much worse.

      • guthrie

        Part of the problem with “over promised” is that the scientists themselves usually have little to do with the boosterism and embiggening of the discoveries. Instead, those who worship dollars talk things up.

    • Origami Isopod

      From that article:

      Witness the 52 percent of Republicans who currently believe Trump won the popular vote, and you get the idea.

      The post-truth society.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Within a year, probably much less, the number will approach 100%.

        For info on how reliable memory is, look for the article about the increasing number of people who are certain they saw a non-existent movie starring Sinbad called Shazzam.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          This one. (I just sent it to someone last night, so the link was still in Jumpcut.)

          • snarkout

            Wow, that was unexpected. (I wrote Jumpcut, years and years ago.) Glad to see you’re still using it, Time Lord Jed.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              THANK YOU. It is a lifesaver. I have no idea how people live without it. First thing I install on new computers.

              Wait, is it going to stop working if I upgrade my OS?

              • snarkout

                It should still work! It’ll break eventually — a chunk of the underlying code is more than a decade old — but things are still creaking on, as far as I know. (I’m running it on Yosemite, personally.)

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  But…but then you’ll make a new version? Right? Right? (Also, an app? I can has app version?)

        • swkellogg

          They probably saw Kazaam, but the trauma was so great, they sought mental refuge in the conflation of Sinbad with Shaq, as even Sinbad’s movies weren’t quite that awful, close, but no cigar.

        • Brett

          I think they’re blurring Kazaam together with Sinbad because Sinbad did a ton of kids movies in the 1990s (I remember watching a bunch of them on the Disney Channel).

          Of course, you know what this means for the future, don’t you?

          DISNEY OPTIONS SHAZZAM RIGHTS, IN TALKS WITH SINBAD

        • If you’re into this, google the “Mandela Effect”, named after a supposedly common belief that Nelson Mandela died in prison. Note: the main sites you will find about this tend to have a consensus that their various misrecollections of art, movies, books, the spelling of “Berenstain Bears”, etc. are all due to either some sort of parallel universe Sliders thing or the Large Hadron Collider and/or NASA rewriting history. It’s a fun read.

          • I half-facetiously wonder whether the Mandela Effect explains how we got into this timeline from one in which Hillary Clinton was on track to be president. If Community is right, this is the bad timeline and thus the logical course of action is to become the evil versions of ourselves. Which I’m not going to do, but it sometimes is tempting.

      • MAJeff

        The post-truth society.

        Anti-truth society.

      • guthrie

        This whole ‘post-truth’ thing is annoying me, on several levels.
        1) POwerful people have always lied and twisted things.
        2) people are describing the post-truth society, then stopping at their description. They aren’t making any useful comments about how it arose, or what to do about it. It’s just “It’s a post-truth society” followed by a shrug. As if we haven’t been here before
        3) and we have been here before. Anyone with a decent knowledge of history is aware of the sorts of governments we had before democracy. Yet somehow more egalitarian, reality oriented societies were built and evolved.

        • Origami Isopod

          Oh, FFS. Sardonic observations do not mean a commenter has given up. Any more than angry venting means a commenter wants to put all political opponents to the sword. Can we leave the context-free hyper-literalism to the wingnuts?

  • JL

    One of my friends is a first-year PhD student in an engineering subject, working on humanitarian applications. A few days after the election, her advisor called all his students in and said that they were going to have to leave at the end of the school year because there was no way the lab was going to have money for them in a Trump administration. She’s a woman of color in a field that has very, very few non-white-guys, which is just the icing on the shit sundae.

    I’m certainly a bit uneasy about whether there will be money for me, as I look for postdocs. One of my advisor’s most famous former PhD students has an opening in his lab, but it’s in England, and I would be loathe to leave the country when it needs people here to fight, and going from a xenophobia-swept country where I’m a native-born citizen to a xenophobia-swept country (with at least as much antisemitism and probably more, even with the current wave of antisemitism in the US) where I’m not a citizen, seems like maybe not the best idea. And I don’t know how my spouse would find work, and English postdocs apparently don’t pay much.

    • swkellogg

      It’s already pretty bad in basic. Nature gave the cover to the problems facing the young’uns recently (27 Oct 2016), but since the sequester it hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk for the olds either.A lot of good people have been shown the door when the RO1 runs out.

      Of course now that high priests of woo and free market chicanery are looking at free rein over funding when The Leader ascends to the throne, it looks like darker days are most definitely on the horizon.

    • Tyro

      One of my advisor’s most famous former PhD students has an opening in his lab, but it’s in England, and I would be loathe to leave the country when it needs people here to fight,

      I would be loathe to head to the U.K., particularly England, under the present circumstances. However, as a scientist, you have to be loyal to science as a culture and head to a place that prioritizes science, both professionally and culturally. That is not the USA now, and probably will not be ever again.

      I appreciate the idea of “stay and fight,” but honestly it’s more about giving a hand to those who suffer under the new US model, and you don’t have to be present for that. The old days aren’t returning, and our country’s future is culturally going to move away from fact-oriented understandings of the world.

    • delazeur

      Your other concerns aside, I don’t think you have an obligation to weather the storm within U.S. borders. There is always plenty of digital activism to do, and having one extra body at a protest probably isn’t worth sacrificing your professional future over.

      • JL

        I’m not exactly one extra body in the sense you mean, though. I have a particular skill (first aid, specifically as it’s applied to protests and other low-resource situations), and take a particular role, that’s needed and often doesn’t have enough people, especially experienced people, doing it. And I’m a trainer, I run health & safety trainings for protesters as well as trainings for new street medics. Not to mention my other organizing stuff – I do community organizing for my local rape crisis center, I volunteer for an abortion fund, I do LGBTQ stuff, I’ve been doing a little bit of tech policy volunteering with the ACLU (including testifying at a Boston City Council hearing) and am planning to do more, I’m now doing action and strategy planning work with If Not Now and their #JewishResistance campaign (which is about progressive Jews resisting the Trump administration and trying to get establishment Jewish orgs to do it too). There are other things that I want to do, like be a medic for a US/Mexico border humanitarian team for a couple of weeks if I can manage to finish my dissertation in time for it to be reasonable. That’s all part of my life, just as much as my professional life, and it took a long time to build, to get to the skill levels where I was the kind of person that other people come to for guidance. And it seems like it would be very difficult to figure out how to transition from that into effective digital activism (which isn’t something I have any particular skill in), while figuring out a new (and also precarious) home culture and political environment, and dealing with the money woes of crappy Brit postdoc pay.

        • Steve LaBonne

          You are clearly a really awesome person and my hat’s off to you. But I’m still going to gently suggest that you ponder the oxygen mask principle- you have to be OK in order to help others.

        • algebraiccyclist

          Cheer up, to get a work visa in the UK, your employer has to pay you at least 35K (I’m currently a postdoc in London). I believe your spouse would have the legal right to work, too.

          Granted, the current government seems to be doing its best to kill off academic research, and no one knows what’s going to happen to all the EU research money currently coming in…

          • guthrie

            It’s all right, once we’re out the EU there’ll be no EU funding to distribute, and the government won’t have any to spare from building nuclear death machines.

    • Ronan

      Doesnt a lot of academic funding in the UK come from the EU, so when the UK officially leaves that could be hit as well? Is your friend in the UK worried about funding, do you know ?

      • JL

        Not sure. I wouldn’t have thought he’d be trying to hire two postdocs right now if he expected his funding to evaporate.

  • DrDick

    The only positive note here is that this will likely get a lot of push back from their corporate backers, since so many of them depend heavily on government funded basic research. They really do not want to have to pay for that out of their own pockets.

    • Nobdy

      Are you suggesting a plan by which the government directly subsidizes private companies to do research now done through nonprofits and then the private parties get to profit off the patents??

      A lot of Republicans would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      • DrDick

        That is not at all what I am talking about. The government is the primary funder for basic research (stuff with no obvious commercial value). Companies then use the results from some of this research, which appears to have commercial merit.

    • Warren Terra

      There is already a strong push to prioritize funding of projects ready to be exploited by industry, as opposed to basic science or less obviously commercial research, or even to defund research that doesn’t fit this description. This phenomenon has been particularly pronounced in Britain and under the previous government in Canada, but it’s happening here, too – see for example this recent post by Michael Eisen.

      Lobbying by industry will not save the distinguishing strengths that have made the US the scientific powerhouse of the world. At best they’ll only distort and destroy the system differently than the “burn it to the ground” approach Mulvaney and his ilk offer.

      • petesh

        See also Google/Alphabet/Calico:

        Calico has other researchers “a little miffed,” says Felipe Sierra, director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging. “We want to know what they are doing so we can focus on other things, or collaborate. They are a research company, so what are they researching?”

        • Warren Terra

          For better or worse, they’re a private company doing research in private. Not really the same thing.

          • petesh

            Agreed, but they do distort the system

      • swkellogg

        “…or even to defund research that doesn’t fit this description.”

        I harken back to the musings of Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods and her comment about “fruit flies, fruit flies…can you believe it?”

        Some one has to get the word out: Boner pills came from the study of giant squid neurons!

        • delazeur

          I thought boner bills were originally supposed to be blood pressure medication. Did the blood pressure medication come from a study on giant squids?

          • Warren Terra

            It’s not something I’ve ever looked into, including not Googling it just now, but my recollection agrees with yours, that it was developed from a molecule observed to dilate small blood vessels, which was anticipated to be helpful with heart conditions and turned out instead to assist with more metaphorical matters of the heart.

          • swkellogg

            PDE5 inhibitors may have been developed as drugs for blood pressure initially, I’m not up on the history. They basically potentiate the effects of nitric oxide, a key signalling molecule involved in vasodilation — a process necessary for lowering BP and sustaining an erection.

            NO signalling was initially characterized, at least in part, through studies done on giant squid axons. At least that’s what the folks in the CWRU Department of Pharmacology always used to say when they went on about their Nobel laureate (Murad?).

            • delazeur

              Cool!

            • Sentient AI from the Future

              they were originally blood pressure pills. until the test subjects started reporting the “side effects.”

              giant squid is cool, but my favorite basic research anecdote is about taq polymerase, which is the discovery that underlies literally every biotech advance in the last ~30 years. it seems a bit of a stretch to think that industry would be willing to fund blue-sky research on deep sea heat vents just because they want to copy DNA faster.

        • LF

          And that fruit fly research that she complained about was all about controlling a species of invasive fruitfly. A couple hundred thousand dollars’ investment in research has saved the U.S. olive industry millions of dollars and generated knowledge that will help manage the problem in other industries. Growers and other producers were very happy that this research got done. But I guess it sounds funny when you reference it out of context, so let’s just cut the whole program.

          • If you need so-called "context" to make your point, you don't really care about truth. At the very least, maybe you should consider the possibility that you're wrong.

      • DrDick

        Hell, that has largely been implemented at NSF in terms of the prioritization.

      • guthrie

        And last I read, the demand for all scientific research to be exploitable, in the UK, has led to two things. One, a drop in actual useful science done, and two, even more time wasted writing fluffed up grant applications that don’t really address anything.

        • I read an SF story once that said international conventions were created by the aliens to waste scientists’ time so we wouldn’t make any more scientific progress. Grant applications probably the same.

  • Nobdy

    Remember when Hillary Clinton helped run a foundation that does a lot of work fighting diseases globally and it was a big scandal because some of her donors were a bit unsavory and she met with a Nobel Peace Prize winner and other donors tried to get favors from her (unsuccessfully)?

    Good times. Gooooood times.

    The hostility towards science is one of the signals that the inmates really are running the Republican asylum these days. Industry has no interest in cutting off basic research, which is often very profitable to them, but in the pursuit of fighting certain specific research (smoking causes cancer and climate change) they managed to discredit all of science for a significant portion of the populace and many of those moron true believers got elected, so that the small lie became a big lie that the liar now believes.

    It is a goddamned mess. The modern history of the Republican party is spectacularly shortsighted men doing dumb shit for personal gain and having it snowball out of control to the point where our president is now unabashedly pro nuclear weapons but would staunchly oppose the very government programs that created those weapons.

    Even under Bush I did not feel ashamed to be an American. I do right now.

    • CP

      The hostility towards science is one of the signals that the inmates really are running the Republican asylum these days. Industry has no interest in cutting off basic research, which is often very profitable to them, but in the pursuit of fighting certain specific research (smoking causes cancer and climate change) they managed to discredit all of science for a significant portion of the populace and many of those moron true believers got elected, so that the small lie became a big lie that the liar now believes.

      In grad school, I had to read an article once about the evolution of think tanks in the U.S. According to it, when the phenomenon got off the ground a century or so ago, it involved a ton of private funding by various business interests who, precisely, needed good and apolitical research on a number of topics related to the fields they made a living in. (Hence, the interest in a degree of separation from government, and therefore politics).

      The article claimed (which I can well believe) that this phenomenon was stood on its head beginning in the seventies, when think tanks started being set up not to provide quality research untainted by politics, but on the contrary to provide politicized “research” that would “prove” what the donors wanted to believe in the first place. A phenomenon that’s run completely amok since.

      As you say:

      The modern history of the Republican party is spectacularly shortsighted men doing dumb shit for personal gain and having it snowball out of control

      Yup.

      Sadly, I’m not even sure the proper description is “the inmates took over the asylum,” so much as “the guards and the warden all went crazy as well and now you can’t tell them apart.”

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        to provide politicized “research” that would “prove” what the donors wanted to believe in the first place.

        I think in many/most cases it was to get the public to believe what the donors wanted them to believe. The donors generally know the truth, and how inconvenient it is for them.

        • Nobdy

          Used to be the case that the people in power or running the actual research knew the truth. Now a lot of the relevant people have lost the plot.

          Cognitive dissonance is a hell of a thing. You can either speak the truth or believe the lie but it is hard to say something day in and day out and not start to believe it.

          • CP

            Used to be the case that the people in power or running the actual research knew the truth. Now a lot of the relevant people have lost the plot.

            This.

            It’s inevitable. You can’t just go on bullshitting like this without losing the plot at some point. Especially since no one likes to think of themselves as dishonest and harmful.

      • swkellogg

        “I had to read an article once about the evolution of think tanks…”

        Heathen!

        Think tanks did not “evolve”. They were created in their present form by a powerful, fearsome and jealous Gawd!

        • Bill Murray

          and that Gawd was Mammon

    • swkellogg

      “The Republican party is spectacularly shortsighted men doing dumb shit for personal gain and having it snowball out of control to the point where our president is now unabashedly pro nuclear weapons but would staunchly oppose the very government programs that created those weapons.”

      Busted. You copied and pasted that from their mission statement.

  • ThrottleJockey

    Off Topic but hopefully we get a chance too discuss this which I find fascinating…Who are these liberals who voted for Trump and why did they oppose Hill?

    The exit polls also show all of the signs that Mr. Trump was winning over Obama voters. Perhaps most strikingly, Mr. Trump won 19 percent of white voters without a degree who approved of Mr. Obama’s performance, including 8 percent of those who “strongly” approved of Mr. Obama’s performance and 10 percent of white working-class voters who wanted to continue Mr. Obama’s policies.

    Mr. Trump won 20 percent of self-identified liberal white working-class voters, according to the exit polls, and 38 percent of those who wanted policies that were more liberal than Mr. Obama’s.

    It strongly suggests that Mr. Trump won over large numbers of white, working-class voters who supported Mr. Obama four years earlier.

    • BartletForGallifrey
      • ThrottleJockey

        Lol was that supposed to be a mirror Bartlet? I’m not white. So while I’ve spoken about why blacks were skeptical of Clinton I was surprised to see how many white liberals were also. In contrast to myself I haven’t seen many other commenters except Ghostship complain white liberals being so disaffected with Hill that they voted for Trump. The question for liberals is how we win these folks back?

        • Nobdy

          My understanding was that it was vampires, rather than black people, who couldn’t be seen in mirrors.

        • swkellogg

          “The question for liberals is how we win these folks back?”

          Medication?

        • DonN

          Hillary lost by 80000 votes spread out over three states. s
          She won thenpopular vote by almost 3000000 votes. Comey pretty much is a singular explanation that explains it all. It is easy to find a unlikeable candidate type narrative that “explains” Hillary being a loser. It just wasn’t broadly true.

          DN

    • ThrottleJockey

      The story includes a poll which makes you question how well liberal priorities align with those of white Democrats. It looks like the liberal view on gun control is very problematic:

      Percentage of white Democrats without a college degree who say …

      Gun rights are more important than control……. 45%

      Getting tougher with China on economic issues more important than building relationship…… 40%

      Free trade does more bad than good…… 39%

      They have a favorable view of N.R.A……. 38%

      Immigrants are a burden to society…… 38%

      Newcomers threaten traditional values…… 35%

      • I thought Bill Clinton took all my guns away back in the 90s?

        • ThrottleJockey

          Wow I heard you were MIA Major. Glad to see you back. Happy Holidays to you.

      • JL

        White Dems without a college degree != white Dems in general. Of course, people (not everyone – different people organize different communities) do need to put in work organizing white Dems without college degrees. But the fact that large minorities (but still minorities!) of white Dems without college degrees have policy views that go against those of mainstream Dems, doesn’t mean that white Dems are lost.

        If anything, I’m pleased (except on the [how we implemented] free trade one), and surprised, that everything you listed here was a minority view among white degree-less Dems.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Welcome back to the board JL. Good to see your comments again. Happy Holidays to you.

      • Bill Murray

        45%, which I will note is less than half, sees like an odd choice to label a result very problematic. Further, did the question test the actual positions of the Democrats and Republicans or just generic terms? These aren’t at all the same and, in any case, the effect on voting may not be great. One can’t tell from the data and I could find no link in your comment, so how sure should we be that this isn’t isn’t some crap that John Lott made up?

        • ThrottleJockey

          45% even if not a majority is a large segment of your voting bloc to disagree with you. The link was attached to the block quote above since it came from the same story.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/upshot/how-the-obama-coalition-crumbled-leaving-an-opening-for-trump.html?_r=0

          I don’t disagree with you that I’d like to see other stats in context, but 45% is meaningful. I “felt” like Clinton went too hard on gun control in an attempt to get to Sanders’ left, but I hadn’t seen data to support that position until today. Obama, though he feels strongly about it, notably didn’t emphasize it near as much in his election campaigns. I’ll see if there’s more data.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            White Democrats are only 60% of the party, White Dems without a degree are a fraction of that – probably less than half, though I can’t find an exact number, and 45% is less than half of *that*.

            So this “large segment of our voting bloc” is maybe 10-15% (and there are some non-whites and whites with degrees who oppose gun control too, which brings it up to 20% as you note below). The Democrats are a coalition party of many interest groups, so it’s not at all surprising to see that some of them disagree with the overall platform on any given particular issue. That doesn’t mean they don’t agree with the platform overall.

            Heck, even in the GOP, there are quite a number of folks who don’t agree with the party on particular issues (e.g. Log Cabin Republicans). There is probably less disagreement on the GOP side, but that’s because there are far fewer interest groups (basically fundie Christianists, racists, and rich businessmen – with a lot of overlap between the three), and they are an authoritarian party in general.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Here’s some more data from Pew which “somewhat”* aligns with Upshot’s data. What you’ll see is that at a broad level a narrow majority of Americans “feel its more important to support gun rights than to regulate guns” whereas on an individual policy level Democratic positions often enjoy majority support:

          By more than four-to-one (79% to 19%), Clinton supporters prioritize controlling gun ownership over protecting gun rights. By about nine-to-one (90% to 9%), Trump supporters express the opposite view – that it is generally more important to protect gun rights than control gun ownership.

          So gun control (broadly) is an issue which favors Republicans because whereas 20% of Clinton voters oppose gun control, only 10% of Trump supporters support gun control.

          I imagine from a strategy perspective the best electoral messaging would be to go small on gun control, minimizing it as an issue and saying only that you favor “common sense” gun legislation which enjoys “majority support”. Going big on gun control as Hill did invites suspicion that you favor more dramatic gun regulations. Though she never said she favored an assault weapons ban as did Bill in the ’90s, I certainly “felt” from her rhetoric that she favored such a ban.

          *I say ‘somewhat’ because Pew’s data looks at all Democrats not just white, blue collar Democrats and we know from polls that gun ownership is inversely correlated with education level and positively correlated with being white. Hence Upshot’s number of 45% could be pretty close to Pew’s cross-tabbed data which says that 1 in 5 of all Dems think its more important to support gun rights than to regulate guns.

    • Hogan

      It would be good to know why those voters think they’re liberal and what they think Obama’s policies were.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        I suspect they’re union members/supporters. LOTS of white union folks are pro-gun, anti-immigrant, and socially conservative in general.

  • The future epidemics rolling over America will be fun.

    Nature always finds a way, doesn’t it? As advances in medical science burden the planet w/ an excess of humanoids, a generation of cretins appears as if by magic to interfere w/ research & restore nature’s balance.

    • swkellogg

      Well even the Republicans believe in preparation.

      Expect more funding for cupping research and homeopathy.

      • Ahuitzotl

        Invest in Leeches futures now

  • Steve LaBonne

    If anyone is still crazy enough to consider doing a science Ph.D., better plan on learning to read Chinese.

    • Or, for those of us who are Jewish and don’t already know the language, Hebrew. (Though, to be fair, if you qualify for aliyah, they teach it to you for free anyway.)

      I would never have even considered moving to Israel before this election, as I’ve regarded it as an apartheid state for over a decade. At this point, however, I’m honestly estimating there is around a 50% chance that I will do so in the next four years. Possibly even greater.

      • postmodulator

        I would never have even considered moving to Israel before this election, as I’ve regarded it as an apartheid state for over a decade.

        What’s the difference? You live in a country governed by a minority now.

        • That’s part of the reason I’ve changed my mind. This country may not have qualified as apartheid before, but it certainly will after Trump is done with it. I might as well move to one where I won’t be in physical danger from being a minority, which seems increasingly likely to happen here if things keep going down the path they’re currently on. I might be able to make a difference in Israel, anyway. I’ve given up hope that I’ll be able to make a meaningful difference here.

          The other reason, of course, is that if I’m going to flee fascism, I only want to have to do it once. Moving and obtaining citizenship is an expensive and time-consuming process. I don’t want to move somewhere else only to have anti-Semites come into power there too. That won’t be a problem in Israel. So yeah, if I leave the country, that’s probably where I’ll end up.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            The other reason, of course, is that if I’m going to flee fascism, I only want to have to do it once.

            This is why I’ve always said if I have to leave I’m going to Israel. My family has fled how many other places? Fuck it, I’m going to the one country I know I won’t have to flee.

            • Ronan

              I’m genuinely surprised you’d see Israel as a safer place to be
              .

              • BartletForGallifrey

                Por que?

                • Ronan

                  Leaving aside the politics of Israel itself, you’d still be in a region going through an extremely unstable phase, unlikely to be stabilised by president trump. You’d be surrounded by a number of organizations and states explicitly commited to Israel’s destruction (whatever the plausibility of carrying out such, real or rhetorical, aspirations)
                  It seems to me more plausible that Israel will find itself in a full scale war, possibly nuclear, with its enemies before a trump admin instigates a policy of mass violence against US Jews. In terms of weighting risk it seems to me being based in the Levant at the minute would be considerably more dodgy than being stuck in the US.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  I would rather get blown up in Tel Aviv wearing my Magen David than not be able to wear it here.

                • If there’s a nuclear war, it’s quite likely that nowhere on the planet will be safe, and anyone who survives may as well find the nearest firearm and shoot themselves in the head rather than condemn themselves to a slow death from radiation sickness.

                  And sure, Israel is in an unstable part of the world, but so are we at this point. We have a clinical malignant narcissist about to become the most powerful person in the country. That ain’t exactly safe either.

                • Ronan

                  “If there’s a nuclear war, it’s quite likely that nowhere on the planet will be safe, and anyone who survives may as well find the nearest firearm and shoot themselves in the head rather than condemn themselves to a slow death from radiation sickness.”

                  A cheery thought for Christmas eve ; )

                  “I would rather get blown up in Tel Aviv wearing my Magen David than not be able to wear it here.”

                  That’s Fair enough.

                • Hogan

                  If there’s a nuclear war, it’s quite likely that nowhere on the planet will be safe, and anyone who survives may as well find the nearest firearm and shoot themselves in the head rather than condemn themselves to a slow death from radiation sickness.

                  My longstanding plan is to be at Ground Zero with a catcher’s mitt. Put ‘er right there!

          • Ronan

            The probability of Israel developing into a peculiar type of religio-security-right wing state is higher than the US. Admittedly you might be on the right side of the fascism nexus in Israel (probably not though, if the religious right have their way) but regardless it won’t be good for the soul.
            If you’re fleeing, just try to get citizenship in Sweden. Might be more difficult but is a better long term bet.

            • If large numbers of American Jews flee to Israel, as seems increasingly likely to happen if things continue getting worse here, there is essentially no chance whatsoever of that happening. We’d basically double the population of the country and Likud would never win another election.

              And Scandinavia has been getting its fair share of white supremacists in government lately, too.

              • I think that’s wishful thinking and actually agree with Ronan (though probably would have agreed with you 20 years ago). It’s nonsectarian liberal democracy or the whole world’s f*cked, and I frankly don’t want to be the majority in that kind of state.

                • To be honest, before Trump came to power, I wouldn’t ever have expected Israel to change. However, the rise in anti-Semitism not just here but elsewhere is incredibly alarming. I’ve come to expect the worst, so I expect things to continue to get worse here. We tend to be extremely aware of historical parallels because we have good reason to be, and I have to think those of us at this blog aren’t the only ones who see what’s going on. If that’s the case, there’s good reason to think there’s going to be a major diaspora out of regions where we’re threatened by anti-Semitism. So, strangely, this is one of the few places where I feel I have a reasonable cause to be optimistic.

                  I don’t like the trend towards sectarianism any more than anyone else does, but frankly, if things get bad enough, I’d rather not be threatened by having a minority status in places where that could be a severe personal danger. And if large enough numbers of us flee situations like that, I have to think that will transform Israel’s politics. People who have fled from fascism are likely to have a very different political outlook than people who have felt more or less safe and in the majority for their entire lives.

                • I’m kind of surprised that you, as a political scientist, think there’s any promise in the Israeli constitution given present trends, or that as a non-cis person you’d feel more comfortable in Israel right now.

                • Well, to be fair, it does depend whether my prediction of a ton of Jews leaving America and other countries for Israel is correct. If it isn’t, then yeah, it’s hopeless. If it is, then I’m not convinced the current constitution even matters, because I don’t think it would survive an influx of millions of new citizens.

                  As far as being trans, I don’t know if there’s anywhere on the planet that would actually be safe for an out non-binary person right now. (Which is why I’m not out right now, and why it’s very important to me that I continue to pass as cisgender until this changes.) Israel doesn’t, at least, have anyone in the government who is as hostile to queer people as Pence is, as far as I know.

                  But yes, all of this is predicated on whether my prediction of a diaspora from the U.S. happens or not. If it does, then Israel will look very different four years from now. If it doesn’t, then it’s certainly likely that little will change.

              • We’d basically double the population of the country and Likud would never win another election.

                It seems to me that the right wing in Israel would do literally anything to prevent that scenario.

                • Would they be able to, though? If they stop people from fleeing to their country from fascism, that could cost them politically in and of itself. Something tells me that’s not the sort of thing the Israeli populace is likely to look kindly upon.

                  That could be a reasonable reason to apply for aliyah sooner rather than later, though.

              • Ronan

                “And Scandinavia has been getting its fair share of white supremacists in government lately, too.”

                Sure, and Israel/Palestine has Hamas ….

                • Certainly, but I don’t see them winning any Israeli elections anytime soon. And sure, there’s a threat of terrorism in some parts of the country, but there’s a threat of dying in a mass shooting here, and I’m honestly not even sure it’s less severe now. Everywhere has its problems.

  • mombrava

    My dad spent several years in his mid-50s unemployed due to the recession, only to find a new career he loves at an NSF-funded research lab that focuses mostly on climate science. He is in his early 60s now, doesn’t have the money to retire any time soon, and is real concerned about the future of his employer. Not that our new overlords would ever care about the livelihoods of those who run our research infrastructure. But government science employs a lot of people who are going to be hard up if Ryan et al get their way.

  • MPAVictoria

    Come on people what has government funded research ever accomplished?

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/ebola-vaccine-who-guinea-1.3909865

    • Steve LaBonne

      Wha have the Romans ever done for us?

      • Hogan

        It would be nice to see a version of that scene with some Tea Party Republicans discussing “What have the Democrats ever done for us?” Can some of you make that happen kthxbai

        • Well, we can start by rounding up a number of accomplishments of liberals (probably a better choice than the Democratic Party specifically), and then basically swap out elements of the skit for things liberals have done for us. The forty-hour work week, minimum wage, child labour laws, clean water, clean air, and food safety are good places to start. Unfortunately, some of these have already begun eroding (water in particular).

      • Breadbaker

        What is the means by which this blog is disseminated again?

        • Ahuitzotl

          Pigeons bearing electronic stone tablets, of course

          • postmodulator

            I had that fight so. many. times. with dot-com employees in the late 90s who had the impression they were about to be millionaires and were resolute in their insistence that they should pay nothing nothing whatsoever in taxes, because the government had nothing to do with their success. Never mind that the Internet started life as a government research project, and that they were all loyal to Unix-based open standards, which were the fruits of government regulation.

            In the end almost none of them became millionaires, though. The only one who did, funnily enough, wasn’t particularly opposed to taxes or government — even later on, when he became a small business owner in San Francisco, which if we’re being honest would turn anyone into Milton Friedman.

            • For what it’s worth, even Milton Friedman thought poverty was a serious problem that needed to be addressed by the government, which places him well to the left of, well, basically the entire modern Republican Party. One chapter of Capitalism and Freedom is entirely devoted to his proposal for a negative income tax to alleviate poverty, though he stopped short of advocating for addressing income inequality.

              • econoclast

                The difference between Friedman and his intellectual descendants is that Friedman actually lived through the Great Depression. His modifications of libertarian orthodoxy are directly in response to the lessons of that.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  So the next generation will be more like him, then?

          • Warren Terra

            The implementation of this system might often seem preferable to my ISP.

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