Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bush's faith-based reality: Stop the insanity!

In a roundtable interview yesterday with a group of Texas journalists, as reported by the Post's Dan Froomkin, President Bush addressed Rove, Palmeiro, and intelligent design. (You might want to sit down for this.) In the interview, Bush:
  1. Expressed "complete confidence" in top aide Karl Rove -- while stubbornly refusing to say anything more about what he knows about the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity;
  2. Said he still believes his friend, Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, has never used steroids -- in spite of the player's suspension Monday for violating baseball's anti-drug policy; [and]
  3. Endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to include the teaching of "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.

The complete transcript of the interview is here.

Essentially, Bush believes in Rove, believes in Palmeiro, and believes in something other than Darwinian evolution. Does the evidence even matter? No, of course not. Rove and Palmeiro are friends, each of a sort, and that's all that matters. Bush likely hasn't taken the time to study evolution, nor to weigh the cases for and against so-called intelligent design, and that's all that matters. It's enough to believe that something is true, or at least that something else may or may not be true. And this from the president of the United States! This from the most powerful man in the world!

Okay, it's the second one that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Bush may still have "complete confidence" in Rove even if the latter has committed a crime or otherwise acted unethically. Similarly, he may believe in some sort of divine (which is what "intelligent" means in this context -- it's just a way for creationists to skirt around the issue) order to the universe even if the available scientific evidence would seem to support Darwin. But how can Bush possibly believe that Palmeiro has never used steroids even after the latter tested positive and had his appeal rejected by Major League Baseball? Or is this just a case of Palmeiro's tricky rhetoric coming to mirror Bush's? You know, WMDs become WMD-related programs, the war on terror becomes the struggle against violent extremism, and Palmeiro conveniently inserts the word "intentionally" into his denial.

(No wonder they're friends.)

In Bush's White House, reality stops at the door to the Oval Office. (Is it possible the Bush presidency isn't real? Maybe if I believe hard enough...)

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  • I had meant to comment on this in the Palmeiro post, but didn't.
    First question: is it possible to test positive for steroids without taking steroids? I almost want to say yes, or rather, that it is also possible to test positive for steroids, but not be taking them for perfomance enhancing reasons (such as illness?). Anyway, I am sure someone can weign in on this with more authority.
    Secondly, should performance enhancing drugs be outlawed anyway? Isn't diet, extreme training, and weight machines a means to enhance performance? Is the implication that anyone with enough dedication can become a great athlete? I am curious what other people think about the legalization of perfomance-enahncers in sport....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:37 PM  

  • I doubt that you have much of a problem with false positives. And in this case, Palmeiro doesn't seem to be denying that he took them, just that he took them unintentionally. It is conceivable that some over the counter supplements contain steroids, so I guess it is theoretically possible for someone to ingest steroids inadvertently. But apparently, what Palmeiro took is a "serious" steroid that wouldn't likely be found in a supplement. It sounds to me like he is just out and out lying. And, yes, there are steroids used for medicinal purposes; I was prescribed steroids for a condition a couple of years ago. But if that was the case, he certainly should have notified the Commissioner's office.

    As for why steroids are and should be illegal, the point is that steroids are dangerous and have potentially devastating side effects. You could say, well it's his body, but if you allow steroids, you are essentially forcing anyone that wants to compete at the highest level to take them. I might want to be a baseball player and might not want to take steroids, but if everyone else is taking them, I would pretty much have to. I don't think that's fair and I don't think it's something we should be encouraging people to do.

    Other types of "performance enhancing" activities in general don't have the kind of effects that steroids do. Moreover, from an aesthetic standpoint, I think there is a difference between improving your performance by hard work (ie, practice, weight training, etc.) and sticking a needle in your arm. And no, no one is saying that steroids alone will make you a great athlete. Steroids isn't going to help a guy hit if he can't hit now--it's not going to improve his hand-eye coordination. But it does give you an advantage obviously.

    I think you have a point that, as technology advances, we will have to address what are legitimate and non-legitimate ways to improve performance. For example, what if you can surgically improve your heart's performance or something like that? I think these will be increasingly difficult questions. But it seems to me that, at a minimum, anything that creates an incentive for someone to risk their health should not be legal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:25 PM  

  • I think Bush's comments don't mean anything. It's sort of like when someone asks how you are; you say fine even if things are terrible. Bush does a lot of that. His comments about intelligent design show a typical lack of intellectual curiosity. He doesn't really care about the issue; he just knows what he sort of feels and, more importantly, he knows what his supporters feel.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:28 PM  

  • the kinds of tests for steroids used in professional athletics are pretty definitive for the steroid subclass of "performance-enhancing" drugs (I guess this depends on what kind of performance) - there really aren't many medical uses I can think of for what was identified - a similar drug is sometimes used to treat endometriosis... not likely to be a problem for Mr. Palmeiro.

    But on to the Bush thing. Every day I am more stunned at the statements that guy makes. Truly, he is a laughing stock - which says a lot about my country. It seems there isn't a muzzle large enough to reign him in. What the hell is "intelligent design" other than fancy wording for religion in the classroom, where it has no place whatsoever outside of a course in anthropology.

    The noise my head makes when I bang it into the wall gets evermore resonant.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:06 PM  

  • Erica,

    Just realize that when you bang your head into the wall, God designed both. It's scientifically proven!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:54 AM  

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