July 31, 2008

You may be sweet and nice
But that won't keep you warm at night

Saul Leiter, Lanesville (variant), 1958

* Hiring political at White House. excerpt:

"On May 17, 2005, the White House’s political affairs office sent an e-mail message to agencies throughout the executive branch directing them to find jobs for 108 people on a list of 'priority candidates' who had 'loyally served the president.'

"'We simply want to place as many of our Bush loyalists as possible,' the White House emphasized in a follow-up message, according to a little-noticed passage of a Justice Department report released Monday about politicization in the department’s hiring of civil-service prosecutors and immigration officials.

"The report, the subject of a Senate oversight hearing Wednesday, provided a window into how the administration sought to install politically like-minded officials in positions of government responsibility, and how the efforts at times crossed customary or legal limits.

"Andrew Rudalevige, an associate professor of political science at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania who studies presidential power, said that while presidents of both parties over the last half-century had sought ways to impose greater political control over the federal bureaucracy, the Bush administration had gone further than any predecessor.

"'The Bush administration is unprecedented in how systematic the politicization is and how it extends both across the wider organization chart and deep down within the bureaucracy,' Professor Rudalevige said. 'They’ve been very consistent from Day 1 in learning the lessons of previous administrations and pushing those tactics to the limit.'"
"'We pledge 7 slots within 40 days and 40 nights. Let the games begin!' Jan Williams, then the White House’s liaison to the Justice Department, said in an e-mail message two days later.

"Within a week, messages between Ms. Williams and the White House showed, she began trying to match the White House-vetted names of people who had been 'helpful to the president' — like campaign volunteers — with openings for immigration judges, positions that are supposed to be filled using politically neutral, merit-based criteria.

"Ms. Williams told the Justice Department inspector general that she had not realized that immigration judges were career jobs subject to Civil Service rules. Mr. Fratto said there was no evidence that White House officials realized that at the time, either."
"Paul C. Light, a professor of government at New York University, said the administration had fostered an atmosphere that encouraged blurring the line between politics and policy, as when Mr. Bush gave Karl Rove, his top political adviser, a policy-making role in the White House. That atmosphere, Professor Light said, increased the chances of scandal by over-eager political appointees who ended up embarrassing the president.
"But nowhere have the charges of politicization been as intense as at the Justice Department, where the investigations into personnel practices began with the firing of nine United States attorneys in 2006.

"The overlapping investigations have already led to the resignation of several top department officials, including Ms. Goodling and former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. And Democrats show no sign of easing up.

"At Wednesday’s hearing, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the Justice Department reports had made clear that 'the problems of injecting politics' into decisions that are supposed to be nonpartisan 'are rooted deeper than just the actions of a handful of individuals.'

"On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted on party lines, 20 to 14, to recommend that Mr. Rove be cited for contempt for ignoring a subpoena and not appearing at a hearing to discuss the accusations of political interference by the White House into hiring practices at the Justice Department."

* Scenes from Iowa, July 2008.

* youtube: Bonnie Prince Billy Agnes Queen of Sorrow

* "Art is not a thing; it is a way." -- Elbert Hubbard


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