January 2, 2009

every possible kind of incompetence

The Bush administration: refusing to regulate workplace safety in order to more aggressively regulate allowable species of service animals.

I almost want to leave it at that, but there are a few things in the articles that are too good to pass up. From the OSHA article, which you should read only if you still have the capacity to be shocked by Bush administration venality:1

In 2006, Henshaw was replaced by Edwin G. Foulke Jr., a South Carolina lawyer and former Bush fundraiser who spent years defending companies cited by OSHA for safety and health violations.

Foulke quickly acquired a reputation inside the Labor Department as a man who literally fell asleep on the job: Eyewitnesses said they saw him suddenly doze off at staff meetings, during teleconferences, in one-on-one briefings, at retreats involving senior deputies, on the dais at a conference in Europe, at an award ceremony for a corporation and during an interview with a candidate for deputy regional administrator.

His top aides said they rustled papers, wore attention-getting garb, pounded the table for emphasis or gently kicked his leg, all to keep him awake. But, if these tactics failed, sometimes they just continued talking as if he were awake.
Foulke's explanation excuse? "He was often tired and sometimes listened with his eyes closed." I am an expert on this particular tactic. It is entirely a deception.

The guide animal article profiles a seeing-eye pony, a parrot that accidentally got trained to shout, "Calm down, Jim!" when its owner is about to start a psychotic fit (incidentally, this works very well), and a monkey that staves off panic attacks. I didn't know about the psychiatric care animals, which seem very practical, although I used to work with 'therapy' dogs at a wilderness program. The range of species, and the specific considerations involved, are fascinating; Rebecca Skloot, who wrote the article, also has video and more photographs of the animals in question at her personal blog. Most interesting single tidbit: guide horses can have working lives up to 30 years.

1. I continue to be surprised, once in a while. I think it's less that I don't believe they would, than a sort of astonishment that somehow this administration has managed to think of everything. It's like the Eddie Izzard bit about killing extraordinary numbers of people: you screwed that up too? Really? It's impressively thorough.

No comments: