"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Heckuva Job 

For better or worse, cronyism is an element of government and probably always will be. It's never a good thing, but it is only rarely a disaster. So while Michael Brown - whose incompetence clearly cost people their lives and livelihood - represents one face of cronyism, the more common occurrence is represented by George Deutsch:
[The New York Times' Andrew] Revken called attention to yet another example of political interference by George Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose resume says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

Deutsch "told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word 'theory' after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times. . . .

"The Big Bang is 'not proven fact; it is opinion,' Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, 'It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator.' "

Today, we learn that Deutsch lied on his résumé when he claimed to have graduated from Texas A&M, and has now resigned in disgrace. In any event, George Deutsch was never in a position to do much harm, except perhaps to the careers of scientists who had the misfortune to work at NASA during his tenure there.

But you may rest assured that there are still a frightening number of unqualified political appointees in our federal government, and some of them are in extremely sensitive positions. Indeed, some of them are in a position to do more harm than Brownie could ever have hoped to do (via Rising Hegemon):
State Department officials appointed by President Bush have sidelined key career weapons experts and replaced them with less experienced political operatives who share the White House and Pentagon's distrust of international negotiations and treaties.

The reorganization of the department's arms control and international security bureaus was intended to help it better deal with 21st-century threats. Instead, it's thrown the agency into turmoil and produced an exodus of experts with decades of experience in nuclear arms, chemical weapons and related matters, according to 11 current and former officials and documents obtained by Knight Ridder.

The reorganization was conducted largely in secret by a panel of four political appointees. A career expert was allowed to join the group only after most decisions had been made. Its work was overseen by Frederick Fleitz, a CIA officer who was detailed to the State Department as senior adviser to former Undersecretary of State John Bolton, a critic of arms agreements and international organizations.

Remind me again - how is it, exactly, that the administration is keeping us safer? Oh, yeah, that's it - by handing the job over to a bunch of Brownies.




I agree - in the grand scheme of things Deutsch is small fish, BUT he is symptomatic of the larger culture of censorship that pervades not just NASA, but the entire administration.

Envrionmental Action has launched a petition to NASA to put the heat on and stop the censorship -

To sign the petition, go here.

And thanks for covering this issue.
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