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Friday, May 04, 2007

Old McDonald Had No Charm

Andrew Leonard finds a Brownie:

Fish, Wildlife and really, really bad manners. by Andrew Leonard: What do the sage grouse, tiger salamander, Delta smelt, Alameda whipsnake, Preble's Meadow jumping mouse, Southwest willow flycatcher and Kootenai river sturgeon have in common? For the last five years, their sworn enemy has been Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald, a Bush administration political appointee with no wildlife biology experience, who during her tenure did everything in her not inconsiderable power to undermine the protection offered to these animals under the Endangered Species Act.

MacDonald resigned in disgrace on Tuesday, nine days before a congressional oversight hearing investigating the Bush administration's violations of the Endangered Species Act and one month after the release of a devastating report from the Department of Interior's inspector general proving, among other things, that MacDonald had been e-mailing nonpublic documents from the Fish and Wildlife Department to organizations such as the California Farm Bureau and the Pacific Legal Foundation that actively represent business interests threatened by the application of the Endangered Species Act. (Thanks to Salon reader Dan Helming for pointing us to an Environmental News Service story on the resignation.)

The report makes for highly entertaining reading. Certainly, at this late date during the decline and fall of the Bush empire, it comes as zero surprise to anyone that a Bush appointee dedicated herself to serving corporate interests in contravention of the law of the land and the public interest. The country got what it asked for when it elected Bush, and environmental protection wasn't part of the package. But it's still shocking to see how brazen MacDonald was -- calling up field biologists and demanding that they change their scientific findings, handing over confidential government information to entities engaged in suing the federal government, and attempting to circumvent, by every means possible, the laws that she was supposed to uphold. Kudos to the inspector general for documenting her abuses, and good riddance.

But reading between the lines of the report, you can't avoid a more sobering conclusion. If Julie MacDonald hadn't been the nightmare boss from hell, she might well still be in her job, doing as much damage to American wildlife as possible. The investigation began because an anonymous Fish and Wildlife service (FWS) employee complained that MacDonald had "bullied , insulted, and harassed the professional staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to change documents and alter biological reporting regarding the Endangered Species program."

Maybe if she'd asked more nicely, she still would have a job! Interviews conducted by the office of the inspector general (IG) reveal that MacDonald was "an angry woman," a "pain-in-the-butt," had a confrontational "in-your-face" management style, and was "disrespectful, rude, and unprofessional." An assistant regional solicitor stated that "'never in over 20 years of government service' had he seen a political appointee behave like she did."

MacDonald herself revealed that "it was not beyond the realm of possibility that she swore at field personnel when challenging them on their scientific/biological findings."

It seems pretty obvious: Most of the people working under her hated her guts...

Which just leaves us with the rest of the Bush administration appointments, at least some of whom are presumably serving their corporate masters with better manners.

The president had this to say:

President Bush: Julie, you've done a "heck of a job" showing the American people just how dysfunctional and bad government can be.

It's not government at its best that people have to worry about, it's government at its worst that is the danger. I set out from the start of my presidency to show the people of this great nation just how big a danger bad government can be. We've demonstrated the dangers of incompetent leadership in government agency after government agency since I took office.

What this shows is that there's only one solution, only one way to avoid this danger. We must cut government to its bare bones, we must either eliminate or privatize every government function that we possibly can.

For helping us to see the way forward, I've invited Julie to the next White House medal ceremony honoring those who were willing to put their incompetence on full public display for the good of the country. Thank you Julie.

    Posted by on Friday, May 4, 2007 at 12:15 AM in Economics, Environment, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (7)


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