Preposterous Universe

Friday, July 09, 2004
Ranks of the shrill

Today the quotes will speak for themselves. It's all rabid political polemic, so those of you looking for our regularly-scheduled insights into the workings of the universe will have to wait until next week.

From Chris C. Mooney, more complaints from high-level scientists about the administration's unbelievable politicization of the scientific advisory process. From his notes on a Union of Concerned Scientists press conference:
Janet Rowley, cell biologist at the University of Chicago and President's Council on Bioethics member. Rowley delivered what I consider a startling revelation: That her appointment to the President's Council in 2001 was politically vetted to an inappropriate extent. In her own words, the White House personnel office asked her the following questions: "Had I voted for president Bush's election; also, did I support president Bush's policies." Rowley said she "remonstrated" that these questions had no bearing on her competence to serve on the council. "The response from the White House was that this was a presidential appointment, they wanted to appoint people who supported the president," Rowley continued.
Also links to a new report from the UCS.

From Talking Points Memo, a pointer to an article in The New Republic about the administration's attempts to score a big coup against terror just in time for the election:
This spring, the administration significantly increased its pressure on Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, or the Taliban's Mullah Mohammed Omar, all of whom are believed to be hiding in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan. A succession of high-level American officials--from outgoing CIA Director George Tenet to Secretary of State Colin Powell to Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca to State Department counterterrorism chief Cofer Black to a top CIA South Asia official--have visited Pakistan in recent months to urge General Pervez Musharraf's government to do more in the war on terrorism. [...]

This public pressure would be appropriate, even laudable, had it not been accompanied by an unseemly private insistence that the Pakistanis deliver these high-value targets (HVTs) before Americans go to the polls in November. The Bush administration denies it has geared the war on terrorism to the electoral calendar. [...] But The New Republic has learned that Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce HVTs by the election. According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), "The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections." [...]

But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

And from Political Animal (via Brad DeLong), a link to a CNN story explaining (yet!) another reason GWB is the odds-on favorite to be judged Worst President Ever:
President Bush declined an invitation to speak at the NAACP's annual convention, the group said.... NAACP spokesman John White said Wednesday that Bush has declined invitations in each year of his presidency — becoming the first president since Herbert Hoover not to attend an NAACP convention.

It's enough to make even a libertarian like Jacob "I've never cast a vote for a major-party candidate for President" Levy come out in favor of Kerry. As he says here,
This time, it seems very clear to me that the Bush Administration has failed basic tests of competence in policymaking and execution, and of trusteeship of long-term interests like alliances and trade negotiations and moral credibility. I expect to dislike an awful lot of John Kerry's policies. But I don't expect that kind of failure of the basic responsibilities of the office.
Hopefully enough folks in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania will follow suit (link from Balkinization.)

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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