Friday, February 17, 2006

OMB Held Hostage!

Further evidence that the Office of Management and Budget is under the President's thumb: in their recent rundown of all federal programs, they call FEMA's disaster response 'adequate'.
Of course the criteria of 'adequacy' and the evaluations are made by the same people who won't let NASA scientists talk in public about global warming, or the Big Bang.
And just how much will "Operation Iraqi Liberation" cost, again, guys? Sheesh.


Blogger Management said...

Administration spinning science to advance agenda

Washington Post editorial

It is a rare thing for the biography of a 24-year-old NASA spokesman to attract the attention of the national media. But that is what happened this week when George C. Deutsch tendered his resignation. Deutsch had, it emerged, lied about his (non-existent) undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University. Far more important, recent New York Times articles have exposed Deutsch as one of several White House-appointed public affairs officers at the agency who tried to prevent senior NASA career scientists from speaking and writing freely, especially when their views on the realities of climate change differed from those of the White House.

Deutsch prevented reporters from interviewing James E. Hansen, the leading climate scientist at NASA, telling colleagues he was doing so because his job was to “make the president look good.” Deutsch also instructed another NASA scientist to add the word “theory” after every written mention of the Big Bang, on the grounds that the accepted scientific explanation of the origins of the universe “is an opinion” and that NASA should not discount the possibility of “intelligent design by a creator.”

The spectacle of a young political appointee with no college degree exerting crude political control over senior government scientists and civil servants with many decades of experience is deeply disturbing. More disturbing is the fact that Deutsch’s attempts to manipulate science and scientists, although unusually blatant, were not unique. Just before Christmas, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued “talking points” to local environmental agencies. These suggestions were intended to help their spokesmen play down an Associated Press story that – using the EPA’s own data – showed that impoverished neighborhoods had higher levels of air pollution.

At the Food and Drug Administration, the director of the Office of Women’s Health recently resigned because she believed that the administration was twisting science to stall approval of over-the-counter emergency contraception. Off the record – because they fear losing their jobs – some scientists at the Department of Health and Human Services say that Bush administration public affairs officers screen their appearances and utterances more carefully than anyone ever did. Scientists at places such as the Agriculture Department, not a part of the government known for its publicity hounds, have made the same claim.

In every administration there will be spokesmen and public affairs officers who try to spin the news to make the president look good. But this administration is trying to spin scientific data and muzzle scientists toward that end. NASA’s Hansen was right when he told the Times that Deutsch was only a bit player. “The problem is much broader and much deeper and it goes across agencies,” he said. We agree.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Management said...

NASA scientist rips Bush on global warming
Renowned expert says data 'screened and controlled'

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Bush administration is trying to stifle scientific evidence of the dangers of global warming in an effort to keep the public uninformed, a NASA scientist said Tuesday night.

“In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now,” James Hansen told a University of Iowa audience.

Hansen is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and has twice briefed a task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming. He was also one of the first government scientists tasked with briefing congressional committees on the dangers of global warming, testifying as far back as the 1980s.

'Recipe ... for disaster'
Hansen said the administration wants to hear only scientific results that “fit predetermined, inflexible positions.” Evidence that would raise concerns about the dangers of climate change is often dismissed as not being of sufficient interest to the public.

“This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster.”

Hansen said the scientific community generally agrees that temperatures on Earth are rising because of the greenhouse effect — increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other materials into the atmosphere that trap heat. Most of that increase comes from burning fossil fuels.

These rising temperatures, scientists believe, could cause sea levels to rise and trigger severe environmental consequences, he said.

Hansen said such warnings are consistently suppressed, while studies that cast doubt on such interpretations receive favorable treatment from the administration.

He also said reports that outline potential dangers of global warming are edited to make the problem appear less serious. “This process is in direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science,” he said.

Bush wants more research
White House science adviser John H. Marburger III has denied charges that the administration refuses to accept the reality of climate change, noting that President Bush pointed out in a 2001 speech that greenhouse gases have increased substantially in the past 200 years.

The president has also said that while he believes warming is a serious problem, he doesn't feel the threat his imminent and has instead ordered more research. He has also sought voluntary steps by industry and pumped federal dollars into technology projects like capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide emissions.

Hansen said he was speaking as a private citizen, not as a government employee, and paid his own way for the Iowa appearance. He described himself as moderately conservative, but said he will vote for John Kerry in the presidential election.

“He certainly is not in denial of the existence of climate change problems,” Hansen said.

7:45 PM  

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