Thursday, July 26, 2007

Can We Talk About Cronyism?

This story on feministing caught my eye. I wish I could say that it surprised me that Bush would would appoint someone to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who, in his last job, "undermined the unit's mission of securing the employment rights of women and minorities in the public sector, while defending employers' rights to discriminate based on religion." Because, you know, nothing screams equal opportunity like institutional discrimination. Er. Right?

Sadly, this administration has a bit of a history with making bullshit inappropriate nominations and picking the worst possible appointees. It's so fucking ridiculous when you start to think about it. Has Bush made a single good nomination? Did someone accidently misexplain the situation to him? Is he under the impression that you're supposed to appoint people with blatant conflicts of interest to positions? Does he think that the point of the EEOC is to violate equal employment opportunities?

But, like I say, it shouldn't be a surprise. Bush has repeatedly made awful nominations, and has a habit of using... *ahem*... underhanded appointment methods. When he doesn't put people into positions that they're woefully unqualified for, he sticks morally bankrupt criminals into positions of power.

Which is odd... because Bush seems to understand the point of political appointments. The White House homepage claims that "One of President Bush's top priorities is to select men and women of the greatest ability and highest ethical and professional integrity to serve in policymaking and key administrative positions in his administration." Bush himself says of political appointments:

The success of the Bush-Cheney administration will depend on the quality appointees we choose to join us to lead this nation in the years ahead. I will look for people who are willing to work hard to do what is best for America, who examine the facts and do what is right whether or not it is popular. I will look for people from across the country and from every walk of life. I welcome all who are ready for this great challenge to apply.

Read that, then consider some of his past appointees and nominees:

Michael D. Brown - appointed to the position of Undersecretary of Emergency Preparedness and Response by Bush in 2003.
Qualifications: Um. Well... none, really. He has a BA in public admin and poli-sci from 1978. He had absolutely zero experience in emergency management before joining FEMA.

Lest you think that Brown was the only FEMA official with no business being there-
Patrick Rhode - appointed as Chief of Staff of FEMA.
Qualifications: None. Has aboslutely no experience in emergency management. But, he was an event planner for the Bush campaign. That counts, right?

Scott Morris - Appointed to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff of FEMA.
Qualifications: ... Yeah. None again. No experience what-so-ever in emergency management. Served as a marketing director for an e-business application software company, and served as a media strategist for the Bush campaign.

Claude Allen - Appointed as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and, then, in 2005, appointed to the position of Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, where he provided advice on non-economic policy issues like education, health care, HIV/AIDS, etc.
Points of interest: Supports abstinence only sex education. Opposes legalized abortion. Has made anti-homosexual comments to the press. In other words, exactly the sort of person I'd want in charge of shaping public policy. Yep.

Julie Myers - Became the Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a recess appointment.
Points of interest: Lack of law enforcemnt experience

Joseph Schmitz - nominated to be Defense Department Inspector General.
Point of interest: Left his position to take a position with the Prince Group, who are associated with the mercenary group Blackwater USA.

Daniel E. Troy - appointed lead counsel for the FDA.
Point of interest: Has begun shooting down lawsuits against pharmecutical companies over claims that meds caused harmful and unexpected side effects. Oh, right, I almost forgot! Prior to taking this position, Troy was a lobbyist for the drug companies, and, as a lawyer, repeatedly sued the FDA.

Ann-Marie Lynch - appointed as a member of the Health and Human Services Department charged with helping provide advice to the president regarding consumer issues and medical drug policies.
Qualifications: Former drug industry lobbyist who fought attempts to institute drug price caps. After taking her position, pushed for policies that benefited drug companies and blocked reports critical of drug-company claims.

They're not the only ones- Bush has appointed over 100 former lobbyist and advocates into positions where they're expected to help govern the very industries they used to work for.

George Deutsch - Appointed to be the press officer for NASA.
Qualifications: Claimed to have graduated with a BA in journalism from Texas A&M, but didn't graduate until a year after he resigned. Instructed NASA website designers to add the word "theory" after every occurrence of the phrase "Big Bang" on NASA sites, claiming that "this is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue."

Philip Cooney - Appointed to head the Council on Environmental Quality.
Qualifications: Despite the position being of scientific nature, Cooney holds no science experience, but is actually a lawyer and holds a BA in economics. Prior to holding this position he worked as a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute who opposed emissions limits. Later took a position with ExxonMobil.

Eric Keroack - Appointed as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Qualifications: Keroack is a non-board certified ObGyn who opposes contraception, including the birth control pill, and has claimed that premarital sex impairs one's ability to create successful long-term relationships.

Janet Rehnquist - appointed as Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. Resigned after a Congressional investigation into her actions regarding an audit of Florida's pension fund, and allegations that she forced out top career staff members for politcial reasons.

Kenneth Tomlinson - appointed to chair the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Later resigned in the midst of scandal and accusations that he had used his position to push a decidedly political agenda in an attempt to "purge" the "liberal bias" of the CPB.

John R. Bolton - Nominated to the position of permanent Ambassador to the United Nations. After a filibuster prevented the nomination from succeeding, was appointed via a recess appointment.
Qualifications: Bolton has strongly criticized the UN for most of his career, stating "There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States." There were serious allegations that Bolton abused "power and authority" over intelligence analysts and contractors, including throwing objects, making derogatory remarks about sexual orientation and weight, and other inappropriate remarks.

Hans von Spakovsky - nominated as a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, later appointed by recess appointment.
Points of interest: Implicated in the recent investigations surrounding the dismissal of US Attorneys. Pushed for policies that would restrict the voting rights of American Indians, and pushed for the Georgia ID voter law (later ruled unconstitutional).

Bradley Schlozman - Appointed as US attorney in Kansas City MO.
Points of interest: Accused of politicizing the civil rights division of the Justice Department. Along with Spakovsky, Schlozman strongly advocated the Georgia Voter ID law. In 2003, approved a plan to redistrict Texas, despite Justice Department lawyer opposition and arguments that it violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

David Safavian - appointed as the top procurement official of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.
Qualifications: Had less than two years of procurement experience prior to be placed as the top procurement official in the White House. Arrested three days after resigning in connection with the Jack Abramoff scandal. The previous appointee to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy has two decades of procurement experience.

Julie MacDonald - appointed to the Interior Department.
Points of interest: repeatedly rejected and mocked staff scientist recommendations about protecting threatened plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act, and urged scientists to more strongly consider the positions of industry and business leaders. Her actions have resulted in adding only 10 species to the endangered/threatened species list per year, compared to 64 a year under Clinton and 59 a year under Bush Sr.

Lurita Doan - Nominated to lead the General Services Administration.
Points of interest: Proposed cutting GSA contract audits which have saved taxpayers over $1 billion in the past two years. Violated the Hatch Act when she used her position to try to come up with plans to help Republican politicians in future elections.

Oh, and let us not forget good ol' Scooter Libby. Assistant to the president. Chief of Staff to the VP. Assistant to the VP for National Security Affairs. Also: convicted of disclosing the classified identity of a covert CIA agent, obstructing justice in a grand jury investigation, perjury, making false statements to federal investigators. Oh, and Bush commuted his sentence. Lovely.

I could go on, but, honestly, it's pretty depressing when you see the level of graft and corruption present in many of the appointees. It's clear that, in a disturbingly large number of cases, it's not strong ethical character or experience that are rewarded- it's political affiliation, loyalty to the president, and backing the party line.

1 comment:

Moody said...

He's the poster boy for our flawed system.