James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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As Bush people approach endangered species status, scientists find other rats, vipers and creepie crawlers

Posted by James McPherson on December 17, 2008

Now here’s an intriguing lead:  “A rat believed to be extinct for 11 million years, a spider with a foot-long legspan, and a hot pink cyanide-producing ‘dragon millipede’ are among the thousand newly discovered species in the largely unexplored Mekong Delta region.”

That’s the first sentence of a CNN story today. Apparently Agent Orange, war-ravaged and starving natives and other Vietnam War-associated horrors failed to kill off the rat. Come to think of it, judging by 1950s films such as “Tarantula,” “Earth vs. the Spider,” The Deadly Mantis,” “The Black Scorpion,” “Them” (giant ants), and “Beginning of the End” (giant grasshoppers), Agent Orange may even have created the spider and the millipede.

Based on a World Wildlife Fund report, the  story later states: “Perhaps a more startling discovery than the rat was a bright green pit viper scientists spotted slithering through the rafters of a restaurant in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand.” Maybe it was searching for an 11-million-year-old rat. Regardless, Southeast Asia just slipped a notch or two on my list of desired travel locations.

The WWF offers a list of endangered species to watch, and uses government science to point out the increased danger to species from global warming. Unfortunately, as with other areas of public policy, when it comes to global warming and endangered species the Bush administration has a perhaps-criminal disregard for science.

In a typical Friday move, at the end of last week the administration announced a plan that will let bureaucrats instead of scientists determine the fate of some endangered species. Three days later, in what has become a regular occurrence, a government report revealed wrongdoing on the part of Bush officials involved with at least 15 endangered species cases.

And no, those aren’t cases regarding retirement funds, the Big Three auto makers, or the endangered folks who were tortured by the Bush war team captained by Dick Cheney or and its allies.

Though it’s probably coincidental, perhaps the latest actions by the outgoing Liar in Chief explain why Barack Obama introduced key members of his own “environmental team,” including Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, this week.

On the other hand, to be fair, maybe Bush has a good reason for ignoring scientists: Maybe he saw those same 1950s horror movies. For something considerably less scary than the Bush administration, see almost eight minutes of “Them” below:

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13 Responses to “As Bush people approach endangered species status, scientists find other rats, vipers and creepie crawlers”

  1. Gabrielle said

    Was Southeast Asia EVER on your list of desired travel locations?

  2. James McPherson said

    Not at the top, I must admit–but I’ve heard it’s beautiful.

  3. smithson said

    First time I’ve read this blog – will be my last. It’s your blog so you can have your opinions – but it’s a shame that they reflect negatively on Whitworth. After sending two sons to Whitworth I will seriously consider NOT sending my daughter there with obvioulsy angry left-wingers like yourself teaching there. I’m open to diverse opinios – just not hateful opinions that you show in your blog.

    Sorry Bill, this one’s a loser. Whitworth can do better than this!!

  4. James McPherson said

    Sorry that you feel that way, friend. If you were a regular reader, you’d know that while I may be a left-winger I don’t “hate” anyone and am rarely angry (though an administraton that engages in illegal activities–whether headed by a Bush or a Clinton–does raise my ire).

    As I wrote quite some time back, one of the blessings of teaching at Whitworth is that it does honor diverse opinions. You can see more about that, and about my relationship with a great friend who happens to be a conservative Southern Baptist, at https://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/begging-to-differ/.

    And if you’re inclined the next time you’re on campus, look me up and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee. I suspect that we (and your sons) would agree on many things about what makes Whitworth such a special place. Thanks for being concerned enough with the school to post a comment.

  5. Smithson, that’s unacceptable. Judging a person and an entire university based on a single read of one professor’s blog? Remarkable. Shielding your children from opinions counter to your own? How arrogant!

    Whitworth does not employ angry faculty. I am a Whitworth grad, and I look up to and admire Jim. Whitworth is better because of Jim, and Bill knows that.

    The university is open to diverse opinions, and Jim’s response demonstrates exactly why you owe him your respect. He’s not an angry person, but I am much less willing to stand by while you insult the university or its staff – come back after you’ve read more, and then (maybe) you’ll have a valid opinion.

  6. … Not to say that Whitworth is immune to criticism. The university has policies and programs that I disagree with, and members of the faculty have viewpoints that I do not respect.

    However, hasty generalizations and ad hominem insults are not acceptable means of criticism. I have very little patience for that kind of method. Smithson manages to attack President Robinson’s judgment/character in the same breath he uses to invoke his name. Bill, if I’ve caused Whitworth to lose a student, I apologize – but at least you won’t have lost anyone who respects you or the values you want Whitworth to have. I rest my case.

  7. James McPherson said

    And that’s the point, I think, that you (in your blog and elsewhere) and I try to promote–that only reasonable disagreement prompts meaningful change. We make our points the best we can and then live with the results. Thanks for the reminder, and the supportive comments.

    And I doubt that Bill bothers to read my blog, or agonizes too much over the opinions of a single faculty member, student or parent. He’s far too busy, and does a great job (based on my experience as advisor of the student newspaper) of letting everyone have their say while keeping things in perspective.

  8. I enjoy this blog because I think the criticism of unreasonable arguments is doled out relatively evenly across the political spectrum – though I think you do a good job of admitting your biases.

    You were the one who told me the best indication of a fair article: people from both sides of the issue complain that it is biased toward the other side.

  9. […] lame-duck actions–which so far include attempts to ease offshore drilling, weakening the Endangered Species Act, trying to rewrite the history of his administration while dodging shoes (and perhaps other […]

  10. […] As Bush people approach endangered species status, scientists find other rats, vipers and creepie c…Burn a flag for the Fourth […]

  11. […] have derived their powers from nuclear accidents or scientific experiments gone awry, perhaps the return to science by the federal government–and the effort to reduce reliance on oil–also provides new […]

  12. […] something. We’re not sure what, or if it matters, but once we identify and start following a scary threat or trend–however inconsequential it may be–we have to stay on its slimy trail. Unless […]

  13. […] As Bush people approach endangered species status, scientists find other rats, vipers and creepie c… […]

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