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April 27, 2007


Sadly, the politics of this are obvious. To this administration, govt agencies are political tools. That they may have substantive functions, such as tracking or preventing disease, is either an opportunity or a threat, not a purpose.

Consequently, all foreign assignments are potentially dangerous. Foreigners, like the Chinese and the uncooperative French, revere scientists and give their statements great weight. For the equally uncooperative Germans, Herr Professor Doktor is a higher title than managing director or president (a sin in businessman's America).

The foreign press will pick up what these scientists say faster than their controlled American cousins, and give it more prominence, making it hard to get off message remarks back in the bottle.

Real scientists, for whom rationality is a reason for being, are likely to say things off message. Like, sexuality education and contraception are inherently necessary components of quality maternal and infant care programs. Or, of course we should test all cattle for BSE, not just the ones so sick they spit up and fall down like a Skull & Bones man. Or, absolutely, avian influenza virus could spread by transporting chicken carcasses from Hungarian abattoirs to UK storage facilities.

Imagine the collective strokes and heart attacks among the authoritarian religious right and the agribusiness, chemical and pharmaceutical industry executives. Imagine the angry phone calls to Karl that taxpayer funded scientists are hurting their businesses. Imagine the threats of cuts to contributions to the RNC.

Anyway. What the public doesn't know can't hurt it, can it?

CDC is not beneath playing political games of their own. There've been conveniently released studies, with accompanying pressers, right around budget time highlighting this disease or that.

I follow CDC professionally, have even been to the Atlanta facility and have had staff visit my offices. They do good work but they ARE an product of the process. But like any research institution, the scientists were never freelancing policy, at least not in my experience working with them. That was for administrators to do.

I myself was a political appointee at a small mosquito control district. I didn't, not for one second, entertained the thought of assisting any of my board members in their campaigns.

These guys are redefining what a political appointee is. Just like they keep saying "under law" like what Toensing keeps babbling. Just like Habeas Corpus being optional in Gonzo's mind.

They are attempting, successfully I might add, to redefine the paradigms so they can say "there is no spoon".

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