Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Irony of UAB Bedding Down With the GOP

We have presented substantial evidence that U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, Alabama Governor Bob Riley, or people connected to them helped engineer my wrongful termination at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

The notion of a university, one with a major biomedical research enterprise, jumping in bed with Republicans is filled with irony.

Why? Consider this piece from The New York Times by evolutionary biologist and author Olivia Judson. She notes that the hallmark of George W. Bush's science policy has been to consistently distort and suppress scientific evidence in order to fit an ideological perspective.

A new book, Undermining Science: Suppression and Distortion in the Bush Administration by journalist Seth Shulman, sounds like must reading for folks who want to know more about this subject. It is filled with case after case where scientists in government posts were intimidated by Bush officials. Shulman catalogs a long list of government scientists who resigned their government positions in despair.

So what is going on at UAB? The university receives more than $400 million a year in federal research funding, more than the University of Alabama and Auburn University combined. In fact, only the University of North Carolina and Duke University top UAB in federal funding among research institutions in the South.

So UAB's status as a research institution depends almost totally on federal support for scientific inquiry. And yet the school jumps in bed with Bush acolytes who have shown that they are not friends of scientific research.

Riley, for example, supports the teaching of alternative philosophies to evolution (including intelligent design) in science classrooms.

Also, Riley has thumbed his nose at UAB, sending gobs of state dollars to support a biotech center in Huntsville, funds that could have boosted a biotech infrastructure that already existed in Birmingham.

Federal funding for research was largely level or stagnant under the Bush administration. In fact, with massive amounts of money pouring into defense, funding for health research declined 10 percent.

Makes a lot of sense for UAB to bow down to Bushies doesn't it? And that doesn't even account for the rampant corruption that marks the Bush administration. Evidently UAB is perfectly fine with that.

But here's some irony for you: Now that the political climate has changed following the November election, UAB is more than happy to put its hand out for the Obama administration. We learn that UAB now is counting on the Obama stimulus package to beef up its sagging research enterprise.

Let's see if we have this straight: UAB, clearly acting at the behest of its GOP boosters, fires an employee for writing a progressive blog--on his own time. Then, when a progressive administration takes over the White House, UAB is ready to tie on its bib and eat like a pig at the federal trough.

How very Orwellian.

In wrongfully firing me, and mistreating other veteran employees, UAB has shown a disdain for federal employment laws. And the university has a recent history of fostering rampant research fraud that cheated federal agencies out of hundreds of millions of dollars--but UAB got off with a "slap on the wrist" from the Bush Justice Department. (Much more on this case, and the "cover" Alice Martin provided for UAB, coming at Legal Schnauzer.)

Here is a question for progressives in Alabama and beyond: UAB is a university that has shown disdain for democratic ideas of fairness and justice. In fact, I am living proof that UAB will fire an employee simply for expressing progressive ideas. And yet, the university now has its hand out, seeking financial support from the Obama administration and other Democrats, at the national and state levels.

Isn't it time that progressives asked UAB a few hard questions and held this rogue institution accountable? Are progressives going to let this Southern institution, which is infected with a peculiar brand of right-wing sleaze, play them for dupes?


Unknown said...

Legal Schnauzer, get over your UAB firing. I'm tired of seeing you conjure up these haphazard allegations against UAB. You can't possibly consider yourself a journalist since you obviously have a strong bias.

I'm sorry that you were fired; if you feel legitimately wronged, then why don't you sue UAB and the GOP?

You are harming UAB as an institution, Birmingham as a city, and yourself as a disgruntled ex-employee.

Anonymous said...

"We have presented substantial evidence..."

I quit reading right there because you haven't presented anything but rambling conspiracy theories. "Legal Schnauzer"? What does this blog have to do with "legal" anything? You'd be laughed out of the courtroom.

legalschnauzer said...

You might try paying attention.

Also, you quit reading right there? Well then no wonder you don't know what the post, or this blog, are about.


Matt Osborne said...

"You are harming UAB as an institution, Birmingham as a city, and yourself as a disgruntled ex-employee."

To Nathan, it is a worse crime to complain about UAB's wrongful termination than for UAB to wrongfully terminate. This is the standard response whenever anyone criticizes a small southern community, corpus, or campus.

A couple of years back, I took citizen action to draw public attention to some buildings in Sheffield that were rotting from the inside. One of them was causing severe problems for the public library next door.

Of course, 'polite society' condemned me for "tearing down" the city and its citizens. Never mind the absentee landlords with empty, rotten, vermin-infested buildings -- those who call attention to the falling-down, rotten, vermin-infested buildings are the problem. The absentee landlords were fine upstanding Christian folk who didn't deserve the embarrassment of the falling-down, rotten, vermin-infested properties they had abandoned.

It is ever true with Nathans. They would ignore the rotten smell, the collapsing walls, the rats and roaches. They would have us stop complaining because someone has applied a new coat of paint -- never mind the roof is missing.

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