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Items tagged with: politics

“Following the #science” is not quite as simple or straightforward as it sounds. #politics

My research focuses on how senior congressional staffers in the U.S. make decisions on #science policy.

For over a year, I’ve been sifting through hours & hours & hours of transcripts from my interviews while analyzing the data & writing.

Now, it's time to begin sharing what I've learned... #politics

A few folks have asked for details on my last post & I realize many may not know I am finishing a Ph.D. related to how Congress makes science-related policy decisions.

Nearly 20 years ago I worked in the Senate & now my research considers where staffers go for #science information & who they trust. The literature largely focuses on politicians, but staffers are responsible for policies w/o electoral accountability. I'll share more once it's published. #politics

"Most politicians are honest about not knowing enough science & rely on experts." [Source:]

As someone writing a dissertation on where policymakers seek out information related to #science policy, I wholeheartedly disagree.

Scientists & other experts are not a top source for information. They're not even a 2nd or 3rd source. #politics

This week's comic: The things Mike Johnson has said are so over the top that I thought I might place him in the role of my flaming conservative character (hence the flames, in case anyone was wondering about that). It’s almost impossible to exaggerate this man’s theocratic worldview, so I tried to use actual quotes where I could.

#uspol #politics #cartoon #democracy #authoritarianism #republicans #theocracy #lgbtq


1. Cable news anchor: Welcome to Punditspew! With me tonight is the new Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

Mike Johnson with flames shooting out of mouth: The 18th century is BACK! What is this "television" you say I'm on?

2. News anchor: Speaker Johnson, what do you think about the state of America?

Johnson: "Experts project that homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic."

3. Anchor: And what is behind the epidemic of gun violence?

Johnson: "No-fault divorce laws!" "The sexual revolution!" "Radical feminism!" "Legalized abortion!"

"We're living in a completely amoral society."

4. Anchor: Now, about that attempt you made to overturn the 2020 election for Trump...

Johnson: "We live in a postmodern culture. Postmodernism is defined by the absence of truth."

But I will set things right!

Drew this one just before an insurrectionist was elected Speaker of the House

#uspol #cartoon #politics #fascism #democracy #authoritarianism


1. Party leaders and followers show how it's done! First, try to overturn election results through violent insurrection.

 Capitol building with January 6 rioters in front. In the crowd is a "Stop the steal" sign and a hangman's noose

2. After that, bully state officials and Congresspeople into not certifying the vote.

Republican lawmaker: They'll firebomb my house if I don't do this! (Pushes nay button)

3. When that doesn't work, harass judges and prosecutors who try to hold people accountable for crimes.

Prosecutor holding indictment papers, being harassed. Thought balloon: I did not sign up for this.

4. Then threaten members of your own party who won't support an insurrectionist for speaker of the House.

Voice on Congressman's wife's cellphone: Get your husband to vote for our man or we're coming after you!

Kicker at bottom of panel: Democracy at work!

Ben Sargent's latest Loon Star State cartoon, from the July/August 2023 issue of Texas Observer magazine:

#TexasNeedsAnObserver! Become a member and get our magazine, six times per year:

#politics #news #USpol #Texas #GregAbbott #HB2127 #democracy #journalism #comics

An older man in a Texas flag cap is reading a newspaper, confronted by a dictatorial looking person labeled “Legislature.“
Man: Wait, you're gutting local control ...
Lege: You can't be trusted with local government ...
Man: And public education?
Lege: Or public education ...
Man: Yeah welll ... You just wait 'til th'next election—
Lege: ... And certainly not elections.

Today is my dissertation proposal defense. That means I'll give a public lecture about my research in front of my committee.

As some folks may know, I'm doing another round of grad school, mid-career, focused on scientific decision making in the U.S. Congress #science #politics

In terms of PhD-ing, this is kind of like the pregame. I passed my comprehensive exams last year & will officially defend my dissertation & finish this Fall. So here goes...

Happy #Newstodon Friday, a day to celebrate the journalists and publications on the #Fediverse.

This week, we're highlighting @justinmiller's deep investigation into the #pollution, corruption, and waste surrounding Greg Abbott's ever-growing #border-wall,. This is the cover story to the July/August 2023 magazine issue:

If you enjoy reading #news on Mastodon, remember to support outlets you love with donations & memberships.

#politics #HumanRights #immigration

Science Debate is now "Science on the Ballot" with @SciPolNetwork

This nonpartisan initiative, which I cofounded in 2007, asks candidates, elected officials, the public & the media to focus on science policy issues prior to Election Day. #elections #science #politics

U.S. state coalitions are launching on Tuesday, July 18 at 7pm ET & you can join the kickoff event to get involved, learn about the program & work with campaigns. Register at

By today’s standards he seems mild. Even Obama praised him. Along with Lincoln, Republicans trot Ronald Reagan out every time Democrats praise the communication wizardry of Obama, Clinton, or Kennedy, or the stalwart composition of FDR or integrity of Truman. In reality, Reagan was an impenetrable facade of congeniality who was quite hostile to civil rights.

1/ #BlackMastodon #Histodons #History #BlackHistory #Politics #StillWeRise

Boris Johnson Partygate report: Key findings at a glance

A report by MPs into whether the former prime minister misled Parliament has finally been published.

(c) #BBC #News #Politics

“Data shows for the first time that the peak demand for electricity this summer will exceed the amount we can generate from on-demand, dispatchable power, so we will be relying on #renewables to keep the lights on.”

But rather than fix the grid, #Republicans spent their time in the #Texas legislature trying to block renewable #energy:

#environment #infrastructure #ClimateChange #TXlege #politics #news #USpol #OilAndGas

.@w3c WCAG should not be developed/designed for the benefit of #accessibility testing vendors. It is there to improve the user experience of disabled people.

#web #a11y #politics #WCAG #WebStandards

Me, standing on the viewing floor at top of CN Tower in Toronto. I am wearing my #a11y is political t-shirt. Behind me, a view of Toronto.

Democratic Underground shared this quote from my 2009 book, Unscientific America, as a quote for the day.

It’s interesting to return to in 2023, especially given my research on scientific decision making in Congress. I’m not quite sure how I would change it at first glance, but my perspective is more nuanced 14 years later. #science #democracy #politics

Quote for the Day: 

“It's important to remember that when it comes to their treatment of science, politicians reflect their constituents and the rest of society. They rarely denounce science outright, any more than average Americans do. Rather, they use it and abuse it as convenient, because too often, that's all science means to them: It's a tool to achieve an end. On the surface, science appears beloved; beneath it, hardly considered, save among those few legislators who work directly on setting science policy and funding levels.”

Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum. Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future. Basic Books. © 2009.

Gender-affirming care—for ADULTS—is now predictably under attack in #Texas. This is part of a Republican plan of genocide underway against #trans people. We need cis allies to be loud and angry on our behalf. Pay attention, this doesn't end here or with us: via @texastribune

#LGBTQIA+ #transgender #transphobia #HumanRights #Healthcare #news #Politics #TXlege #USpol #gender

While I was overseas, I completed 2 manuscripts, with another coming. And that’s only the beginning.

Some stories didn't fit neatly into articles but seem quite timely in 2023. For example, congressional staffers tend to know about the hidden health status of aging members of Congress. Grandstanding doesn’t necessarily reflect what happens once the cameras go off. And social media restricts policy opportunities in ways we don’t see. #politics

”Employees are expected to comply with this dress code in a manner consistent with their biological #gender.”—#Texas Department of #Agriculture memorandum

Ag Dept employees received an unwelcome surprise in a new dress code issued last week that seems aimed at oppressing #transgender and #nonbinary workers, reports Digital Editor Kit @oconnell based on a document leaked to us:

#transphobia #LGBTQIA+ #news #politics #USpol #trans #HumanRights #GregAbbott #Republicans
Screenshot of “Texas Department of Agriculture Dress Code and Grooming Policy,” with Commissioner Sid Miller’s name and seal at the top. In the opening section labelled objective: “All employee’s appearance should reflect the culture, dignity and professionalism of the Texas Department of Agriculture. All employees, regardless of assignment, are expected to present themselves in a professional manner that cultivates a favorable impression from coworkers, other government officials, agency customers and the general public. Employees are expected to comply with this dress code in a manner consistent with their biological gender. [The previous sentence has been highlighted in yellow.] Basic elements for appropriate attire across the board consist of clothing that is in neat and clean condition.” The rest of the screen shot explains that this dress code applies to everyone at TDA, that supervisors should exercise discretion and make sure everyone looks professional. People sent home to change won’t be compensated, and in general, business attire is expected.

In 1990, Springfield parents wanted to “kancel” Michelangelo’s David for its “evil parts.”

My 10yo has been making his way through The Simpsons & just called me in to watch this prescient scene from Season 2, Episode 9 😮 #politics #news

We’re told flattering anecdotes about how elected leaders came to write a bill or introduce a plan.

Usually it's fiction.

New post: #politics #news

With so much speculation around what silly nickname Donald Trump will call Ron DeSantis, I wrote about associative learning & the psychology of name-calling along the campaign trail - and why it can be a surprisingly effective strategy. #science #politics #news

Imagine you’re a 25 year old staffer in Congress responsible for drafting legislation, meeting with constituents, writing speeches & responding to lobbyists. You also make recommendations for how your boss should vote.

Here's how you might start the day: #science #politics

Many congressional staffers I interview in my research say they wish that the same science groups visiting the other party's offices would also reach out to them.

When some staff feel ignored by scientists, they may not seek out their guidance on legislation.

The result is two different policy conversations happening on single issues by each party across Capitol Hill. That’s bad for democracy & chips away at the ability to compromise.

New post: #politics

In 2007, a small group of concerned citizens co-founded the nonpartisan ngo Science Debate. The goal was simple: Science Debate asked presidential candidates to answer science policy questions related to issues like competitiveness, space exploration, & pandemic response.

Why? If candidates addressed #science issues, they should be more likely to arrive in office with a plan for how to deal with challenges related to health, tech & the environment. #politics

5 towering men filed into our conference room in the Hart Senate office building.

“Hello little lady,” one lightheartedly greeted me, glancing back at the door as if still waiting for someone.

“It’s nice to meet you,” I began. “What brings you here today?”

The group shifted in their seats, perhaps mildly irritated. I guessed they expected to speak directly with a U.S. senator rather than the 25yo woman sitting across from them.

Today, a story from my past: #politics

Sweden only has a problem with burning the quran if and when it upsets Erdogan and hampers our inclusion to the nuclear weapons club known as Nato.

#Birdsite #Sweden #Politics #Nato #Racism #SwedishPM
screenshot of swedishpm twitter account. caption: "Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act. I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today."

President Biden has had our backs.

He really has.

We need to have his back now.

We know he isn’t a criminal.

We know he would never, under any circumstance, place national security at risk.

When we see the media try to trash his reputation, we need to call them out.

Don’t click on the clickbait, and turn the channel if a reporter tries to start a feeding frenzy.

Republicans are the danger.

#politics #biden
President Biden with a blue background. 

President Biden has done more to earn our trust than most Presidents in our lifetime. He is not a criminal. He is a good man. Republicans and members of the media who try to sell you a different story are the problem, not the solution.

In #politics, consensus doesn’t require that information is correct or understood. Policymakers may even find that turning to experts for guidance doesn’t serve their needs or interests.

And even when they look for accurate data, they’re likely to disagree about what comprises expertise & evidence. After all, every DC think tank claims to deliver “the facts” in white papers & briefing materials, yet their conclusions rarely align.

TL/DR: Facts aren't enough.

I arrived as a Senate staffer in 2006 with a Masters in policy, but academic training did not prepare me for the job.

I spent my 1st morning marveling at how interested my colleagues seemed to be in “R&D,” assuming it reflected a shared appreciation of research & development (a term that broadly encompasses science policy issues). Science touches everything after all.

An hour later, I sheepishly discovered they were simply referring to Republicans & Democrats. #politics

When we elect U.S. Senators & House members to office, we expect them - and by extension, their office staff - to reflect the preferences & attitudes in our district or state. But do they actually know what constituents want?

It’s complicated, but the limited evidence we have so far suggests no.

New post: #politics #Congress

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