Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, February 8th, 2006.


Brownie News

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Bush Administration

I swear, the Bushies know how to pick ’em. Andrew Revkin reports in today’s New York Times:

George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters’ access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word “theory” at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said.

Mr. Deutsch’s resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his résumé on file at the agency asserted.

Reading between the lines, ones suspects NASA scientists had been complaining about Mr. Deutsch:

The resignation came as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was preparing to review its policies for communicating science to the public. The review was ordered Friday by Michael D. Griffin, the NASA administrator, after a week in which many agency scientists and midlevel public affairs officials described to The New York Times instances in which they said political pressure was applied to limit or flavor discussions of topics uncomfortable to the Bush administration, particularly global warming.

The 24-year-old Deutsch was given a job writing for the NASA public affairs office after working on Bush’s re-election campaign and inauguration committee. He had claimed to have a Bachelor degree in journalism from Texas A&M, which says he doesn’t. A copy of Mr. Deutsch’s resume had been forwarded to the New York Times by “someone working in NASA headquarters.” This someone and others at NASA told the NY Times that “Mr. Deutsch played a small but significant role in an intensifying effort at the agency to exert political control over the flow of information to the public.”

Blogger Nick Anthis of The Scientific Activist had uncovered Deutsch’s resume padding a couple of days ago.

But the real issue, as expressed by Scott Shields at MyDD:

Pardon me for a moment, but what in the hell?!?! How on Earth (no pun intended) does a 24 year old kid who didn’t even finish college get to work for NASA in a position where he has control over information to such a degree? Yes, to that’s somewhat of a rhetorical question. Of course I know the answer is that he was a Bush appointee. (Heckuva job, Deutschy.) But what I really don’t understand is why a position like this is filled by political appointment. There should be no politics whatsoever involved in NASA’s press office. It’s absolutely absurd to me that this is the way things are handled down there.

It’s not startling to me that a 24-year-old might have gotten an entry-level writer’s job in the public affairs office, but it’s astonishing that the little twerp actually was calling the shots about what the public affairs office was sending to the public. You’d expect that someone with that kind of authority would have a little more seniority. But Deutsch, apparently, was sending directives to NASA scientists without going through a supervisor.

In other Brownie News, Warren P. Strobel of Knight Ridder reports that old-hand weapons experts are leaving the State Department in droves.

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. [emphasis added]

Maybe we should just change the name of Washington, DC to “Mayberry, home of the Mayberry Machiavellis” and be done with it.

Update: Eric Alterman writes,

Is it the incompetence? The ideology? The Dishonesty? Every day we find these three defining characteristics of the Bush Administration in competition with one another to define its most essential quality. Everyone in this government is Michael Brown, from George W. Bush right on down. Today’s Exhibit A is George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters’ access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word “theory” at every mention of the Big Bang. Turns out the 24 year old writer and editor in NASA’s public affairs office lied about, get this, graduating college. And this lying little pisher was telling James E. Hansen what he could and couldn’t say about the science of Global Warming. Really, would James Frey even dare make these people up? Doesn’t every single person in the country who ever said a word about George W. Bush’s “competence” owe an apology to every single other person in the world? (Plus the little twerp’s a polar bear killer.)

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Dog Whistle Racism

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American History, big picture stuff

More commentary on the rightie reaction to Coretta Scott King’s funeral:

Jane Hamsher:

It’s nice to know that whenever MSNBC needs something said that is so ugly, so fulminatingly rancid and dog-whistle racist that even Bill Bennett will not show up and do the honors that a vile, bilious hatchet-faced nag like Kate O’Beirne is always at the ready (see video at C&L).

Why didn’t she just come out and say “negroes don’t know how to act at funerals?” Because that’s exactly what she meant.

Steve Gilliard:

What so disturbed me about Kate O’ Beirne’s filthy comments is that is part of a conservative shell game to claim the legacy of Martin Luther King, by denuding every bit of the radical nature of his message and tying it to some bland form of equality. …

… Now, why does the GOP so desperately want to hijack the memory and legacy of King, with old segs like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell now tormenting gays as they once tormented blacks. Why do they embrace the damaged and offer them up as leaders? Former criminals and self-hating blacks, people unworthy to represent a dog pound.

Because being the white people’s party is a losing proposition. Ken Mehlman knows his party must look like America or die. And it look like anything but.

Amanda Marcotte:

… does this mean Peggy Noonan is going to write an editorial in the voice of Coretta Scott King where she imagines the civil rights icon wagging her finger at the still-living and telling us that it’s very rude and wrong to care about the poor and the oppressed?

Steve M:

November 23, 2002: Coretta Scott King argues against war on Iraq …

… So if the Reverend Joseph Lowery wants to talk about Iraq at Mrs. King’s funeral —

    We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. [Standing Ovation] But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor.

— he doesn’t need the permission of Matt Drudge, Michelle Malkin, Kate O’Beirne, or any of the other spiritual descendants of the people who attacked the civil rights movement in its heyday, thank you very much.

Steve Soto:

This is what happens when you step outside of your bubble and away from the carefully screened Stepford crowds, in front of an audience of people who:

•Saw your level of concern for African Americans less than six months ago in New Orleans;

•Saw your commitment to civil and voting rights by disenfranchising them in both of your “victories”;

•See what lengths your Department of Justice will go to undo the Voting Rights Act in red states; and

•Have already shown a greater commitment to their fellow man that you will ever do in ten of your pathetic lifetimes.

Tbogg:

If it will make the folks on the right feel any better about people not acting WASPY enough at funerals, I will gladly volunteer to appear at any one of their funerals to stand up and applaud. I’ll even pay my own way.

I think this is very white of me.

Oliver Willis:

For the first time, Bush met the people on the front lines of post-Katrina America. It was not a pleasant encounter for the 43rd president.

Good.


Greg Saunders:

Face it conservatives, Coretta Scott King was a liberal. While civil rights heroes like the Kings were leading a non-violent struggle for equality, your political heroes were finding new ways to court southern racists away from the Democratic party. The Republican journey to victory was fueled by the votes of bigots, so it’s a little late in the game to start acting like you have the right to speak for the leaders of a movement you fought against.

Dr. Atrios:

When I die, please let it be known that my family and friends are entitled to conduct my funeral in any manner they see fit, including but not limited to talking about the things which were important to me in life.

SusanG:

Not only do these hypocritical conservatives want to step in and tell me and my family that I can be kept alive for years against my wishes, a petri dish harboring their precious “culture of life,” now they want to control the “message” at my funeral. Well … I’ve got news for them. It’s time they shut their yaps, this GOP party of control freaks extraordinaire. …

… Here we have a woman who spent her lifetime speaking out, marching, lending her name to causes and fighting injustice with integrity in every breath she took. Her husband died for speaking out and she continued to do the same. Am I really to assume she would “tut tut” at the heartfelt and sometimes raucous, sometimes tear-inducing funeral we witnessed today? Am I really expected to presume that Michelle Malkin and the other winger crybabies know better than her family what would have pleased her at her last official ceremony?

Please, these people need – and I say this with all the respect it’s due – to shut up. Go have a second 10-day proto-patriotic binge about Ronald Reagan. Progressives won’t begrudge it, we promise, as long as we’re not forced to watch or attend. The music will suck and have a lousy beat, and the speeches will put everyone in a godawful coma, but … hey, whatever floats your flag-wrapped, compassionate conservative boat.

Just get out of our lives. And our deaths. And our funerals. And the way we honor our heroes, damn it.

PSoTD:

Oh, please. Let go of your guilt, people, see the light, set yourselves free. So the disenfranchised and the unempowered and the disagreeing and even the powerful took the opportunity to make a few, slight, clever, quiet and accurate comments that alluded to the current Presidency at the funeral of a national political and cultural figure. Imagine that. How often does Reverend Lowery get George Bush’s ear? How about Jimmy Carter, for that matter? I’ll be the first to say it was inappropriate if Coretta Scott King’s family comes out and says they were unhappy about it. But that’s the point – it is their call. Who the hell is Kate O’Beirne to say? How does she think she owns this event? Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but it’s amazing how O’Beirne is entitled to blare her sniffling guilt-racked ignorance on national television.

Kevin Hayden:

Coretta Scott King and her husband stood with unionized labor, antiwar activists in the last big war of aggression the US was wrong to escalate, the poor, the downtrodden, the victims of injustice marginalized by the majority and the government.

Reverend Lowery and President Carter merely overturned the merchants’ carts in the temple yesterday, following a tradition the Kings lived, and the King of the Jews did before them. The Right can express their outrage till they’re red in the face, but they can’t overcome the facts of the very real lynchings men like King and Christ experienced for standing with the weakest with the greatest weapon of all: the truth.

I just hope Coretta Scott King’s spirit enjoyed hearing it once again, and may she rest in peace.

To view a collection bucket of rightie drool, see Dave at Seeing the Forest and Pam at Pandagon. At MDD, Matt Stoller deconstructs rightie racism.

Updates:

Scott Lemieux:

Given the way that many people will attempt to “Wellstone” the funeral of Coretta Scott King, it’s worth nothing that the Wellstone meme itself is based on on a series of lies. The objectionable “politicization” of the Wellstone funeral was the way in which many people who despised everything Wellstone stood for distorted it for nakedly political ends.

Kevin of Lean Left:

Just a quick question for Senaotr McCain and Kate O’Brien [O’Beirne! She’s no kin o’ mine!– maha] and anyone else the right wing trots out in what appears t be a sure to grow smear campaign: where the hell do you get off telling the family and friends of Coretta Scott King what they can and cannot say at her funeral? What kind of soulless ghoul takes it upon themselves to tell the family of a dead woman how they should and should conduct themselves at her funeral?

ReddHedd:

.. the condescending tone used by critics of Rev. Lowery, a man who helped to found the SCLC with Dr. King and others, who fought on the front lines of the civil rights movement beside Dr. and Mrs. King and so many others, and who has dedicated his life to the principles of equality and liberty and peace — to say that he had no right to speak as he did ignores the whole history of the civil rights movement.

    “She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar,” Lowery said. “We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew, and we knew, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor.”

And it just goes to show how used to hand-picked audiences and shutting out any and all criticism this Administration and its supporters have become. Cowards, hiding behind their wall of secret service agents and GOP gate-keepers.

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