Four at Four

This is an viagra generico 25 mg pagamento online a Venezia OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started.

  1. The New York Times reports that a senior State Department calls the Kurd oil deal at odds with Baghdad. “A senior State Department official in Baghdad acknowledged Thursday that the first American oil contract in Iraq, that of the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas with the Kurdistan Regional Government, was at cross purposes with the stated United States foreign policy of strengthening the country’s central government… ¶ Hunt Oil, a closely held company, signed a production-sharing agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government this month. The company’s chief executive and president, Ray L. Hunt, is a close political ally of President Bush and serves on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board… ¶ The embassy official said at least four other American and international oil companies had consulted with the State Department about energy investment in Iraq… ¶ Iraqi Kurdish officials bristled Thursday at word that the Iraqi central government would sign an agreement with Turkey on Friday that Kurds fear might pave the way for Turkish soldiers to cross into Iraq to pursue Turkish Kurdish separatists who take refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan.” In semi-related news, Spiegel has an interview with Seymour Hersh claiming Bush has ‘accepted ethnic cleansing’ in Iraq.

    The Surge means basically that, in some way, the president has accepted ethnic cleansing, whether he’s talking about it or not. When he first announced the Surge in January, he described it as a way to bring the parties together. He’s not saying that any more. I think he now understands that ethnic cleansing is what is going to happen. You’re going to have a Kurdistan. You’re going to have a Sunni area that we’re going to have to support forever. And you’re going to have the Shiites in the South.

  2. News from Aghanistan in The Guardian today — Taliban stands to recapture territory, warns Nato commander. “The Taliban stands to recapture ground this winter previously lost to British forces, the Nato commander in Afghanistan has warned. ¶ General Dan McNeill said the alliance had made important military gains in the past six months. ¶ But he said Afghan security forces might not be able to hold the territory as the Taliban regroups during the winter.” The BBC has more with Gen. McNeill in Afghan gains ‘could be lost’. Even more on McNeill and the detiorating situation in Afghanistan in my essay, ‘Top Commander in Afghanistan Doubts Taliban Ever Defeated‘.

  3. According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Army looks to accelerate expansion. “Army Secretary Pete Geren said the planned expansion from its official size of 482,000 to 547,000, announced by President Bush in December as the first post-Cold War increase in U.S. forces, should be completed in four years rather than five to alleviate the strain on troops from frequent combat tours… ¶ The new Army plan would attempt to build the larger force in a shorter time by instead moving aggressively to retain personnel. ¶ The military has begun to consider options beyond the traditional cash bonuses and college scholarships to entice soldiers to continue service. New approaches under consideration include the promise of graduate school for young officers and the offer of educational benefits for career soldiers’ children. ¶ The new approaches reflect the continuing fallout of the 4 1/2-year-old Iraq war… ¶ Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that he was inclined to support the Army plan to speed up the expansion. But he said he would not allow the Army to enlist more recruits without high school diplomas.” The AP has more in Gates expects to approve Army expansion. The Army’s proposal would cost “nearly $3 billion extra”.

  4. Of course, more Blackwater coverage today.

    • Reporting for The New York Times in ‘Blackwater Shooting Scene Was Chaotic‘, James Glanz and Sabrina Tavernise write “Participants in a contentious Baghdad security operation this month have told American investigators that during the operation at least one guard continued firing on civilians while colleagues urgently called for a cease-fire. At least one guard apparently also drew a weapon on a fellow guard who did not stop shooting, an American official said.” After an IED detonated near to where “senior American officials” were meeting, Blackwater mercenaries decided to evacuate the officials from a “secure compound” instead of remaining in lock down until the situation on the Baghdad streets calmed down. During the September 16th Nisour Square massacre, Blackwater first shot a man driving a car and his passengers, a woman holding an infant.

      After the family was shot, a type of grenade or flare was fired into the car, setting it ablaze, according to some accounts. Other Iraqis were also killed as the shooting continued. Iraqi officials have given several death counts, ranging from 8 to 20, with perhaps several dozen wounded. American officials have said that no Americans were hurt.

      At some point during the shooting, one or more Blackwater guards called for a cease-fire, according to the American official. The word cease-fire “was supposedly called out several times,” the official said. “They had an on-site difference of opinion,” he said.

      In the end, a Blackwater guard “got on another one about the situation and supposedly pointed a weapon,” the official said. “That’s what prompted this internal altercation,” the official said.

      The official added that in the urgent moment of a shooting events could often become confused, and cautioned against leaping to hasty conclusions about who was to blame.

      AFP has more coverage in Blackwater besieged by more Iraq allegations. “‘The Americans are embarrassed,’ said Jalal Al-Din Al-Saghir, a member of parliament from the ruling Shiite majority. ‘What happened … is a crime.’ ‘To deter the company it is not enough to accuse it, it should first be condemned then closed down,’ he added.” The Washington Post has even more in ‘First Blush’ Report Raises New Questions on Shooting. The story details how the Army had to restore calm and extract Blackwater from the shootout. “‘The U.S. Army QRF’ — quick-reaction force — ‘arrived on scene at 12:39 hours and mediated the situation,’ the report said. ‘They escorted TST 22 out of the area and successfully back to the [Green Zone] without further incident.'” TST is a Blackwater ‘tactical support team’.

    • The New York Times reports by State Department count, there have been 56 shootings involving Blackwater so far this year while guarding American diplomats in Iraq. According to a State Department letter signed by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte, Blackwater made 1,873 “convoy runs” in Iraq and its employees fired weapons 56 times.

      Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has asked Mr. Negroponte to oversee the department’s response to problems with security contractors. A government official who was briefed on an hourlong meeting involving State Department officials on Thursday morning said that Ms. Rice had prezzo levitra 20 mg in farmacia appeared surprised at the report that Blackwater had been involved in a higher rate of shootings than its competitors.

      “She needs to be convinced that Blackwater’s hands are clean,” the government official said. Ms. Rice was also said to be enter site taken aback by pressure from Representative Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who issued an angry letter to her this week complaining about what he saw as the State Department’s efforts to block his panel’s investigation into Blackwater.

      The meeting on Thursday with Ms. Rice seems to signal that the State Department’s leaders now recognize that the Blackwater issue is more serious than they had first thought, and that it may become harder for the Bush administration to defend Blackwater and allow the company to retain its prominent role in providing diplomatic security in Iraq.

    • According to McClatchy Newspapers, Blackwater guards killed 16 as U.S. touted progress. “As [U.S. Ambassador Ryan] Crocker and [Army Gen. David] Petraeus told Congress that the surge of more U.S. troops to Iraq was beginning to work and President Bush gave a televised address in which he said “ordinary life was beginning to return” to Baghdad, Blackwater security guards shot at least 43 people on crowded Baghdad streets. At least 16 of those people died… ¶ It was an astounding amount of violence attributed to Blackwater. In the same eight-day period, according to statistics compiled by McClatchy Newspapers, other acts of violence across the embattled capital claimed the lives of 32 people and left 87 injured, not including unidentified bodies found dumped on Baghdad’s streets.” The article gives accounts of many Iraqis being gunned down by Blackwater in cold blood including Batoul Mohammed Ali Hussein, a clerk in the Iraqi customs office in Diyala province, and four others in Khilani Square.

    • The House oversight commitee has released their findings on the death of four Blackwater USA employees in Fallujah, Iraq. “These eyewitness accounts and investigative reports conflict with Blackwater’s assertion that they sent the team out with sufficient preparation and equipment.” The committee’s full report (pdf) is available. The Virginian-Pilot has coverage on the report, Congressional probe faults Blackwater in Fallujah ambush. ” A congressional investigation has found Blackwater USA at fault on multiple levels in the infamous 2004 Fallujah convoy ambush in which four of its operatives were killed by Iraqi insurgents. The report, issued Thursday, also accuses Blackwater of repeated efforts to stonewall the investigation, even defying a congressional subpoena at one point.”

      The March 31, 2004, ambush in the restive Sunni Arab stronghold of Fallujah, in which two of the victims’ mutilated bodies were hung from a bridge, drew worldwide attention and prompted a devastating retaliatory assault on the city by U.S. military forces that fueled the Iraqi insurgency to new heights.

      The report by investigators on the staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says Blackwater “ignored multiple warnings about the dangers of traveling through Fallujah, cut essential personnel from the mission, and failed to supply its team with armored vehicles, machine guns, sufficient threat intelligence, or even maps of the area.”

      Based on reports from Blackwater, the company that held the contract previously, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the investigation found details of the incident “disturbing, revealing an unprepared and disorderly organization operating in a hostile environment. Mistake apparently compounded mistake.”

      The investigators concluded that Blackwater’s actions “raise serious questions about the consequences of engaging private, for-profit entities to engage in essentially military operations in a war zone.”

      One of the four sections in the 18-page report was labeled “Impediments to the Committee Investigation.” The report says Blackwater consistently delayed and impeded the inquiry, erroneously claiming that the relevant documents were classified and then seeking to get them retroactively classified. The committee finally issued a subpoena for the documents, but Blackwater still refused to comply. It was only after the committee threatened a vote to hold Blackwater in contempt of Congress that the company produced the documents, according to the report.

      The Washington Post story seemed surprised to report that Blackwater is focused on cost, not safety, report says. “The private security firm Blackwater USA brushed aside warnings from another security firm and focused on cost, not safety… ¶ The report disclosed that another complicating factor was a contract dispute with a different company. The report suggested that Blackwater never intended to armor its own vehicles. Instead, Blackwater employees were told to ‘string along’ the other company in hopes of forcing them out of their contract or giving them ‘no choice but to buy us armored cars,’ according to interviews by the committee staff with Blackwater officials.” Blackwater, of course, claims the report is “one-sided”.

    • The Pentagon announced on Thursday that Blackwater was awarded a $92 million contract to deliver people and cargo. “Presidential Airways, Inc., an aviation Worldwide Services company (d/b/a Blackwater Aviation), Moyock, N.C., is being awarded an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) type contract for $92,000,000.00. The contractor is to provide all fixed-wing aircraft, personnel, equipment, tools, material, maintenance and supervision necessary to perform passenger, cargo and combi Short Take-Off and Landing air transportation services between locations in the Area of Responsibility of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. This contract was competitively procured and two timely offers were received. The performance period is from 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2011. The United States Transportation Command Acquisition Directorate, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is the contracting activity (HTC7 11 -08-D-0010).”

News on mammoth cloning beneath the fold…

  1. The Los Angeles Times reports that mammoth hair is a rich source of DNA that could accelerate interest in cloning the extinct mammal. “Using samples of fur from mammoths that roamed Siberia 17,000 to 50,000 years ago, the researchers were able, they say, to reconstruct the complete mitochondrial genomes of 10 animals, even though some of the hair had been stored at room temperature for 200 years. ¶ By multiplying the potential sources of ancient DNA, the discovery could accelerate efforts to clone woolly mammoths and other extinct beasts, though scientists said it would take millions of dollars and decades of work to overcome the daunting technical hurdles that remain. ¶ The findings, released today by the journal Science, suggest that heaps of ancient DNA are readily available in natural history museums and other collections, not just in fossil bones buried beneath layers of permafrost, said Tom Gilbert, a biologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who led the study.”

So, what else is happening?

Writing to George: Pledges, Oaths, and White Rabbits

I have never been a truly religious person. I have my faith. And as my grandfather used to tell me, that’s between me and…well at the time, Harvey. Yes…the big white, invisible pooka of Jimmy Stewart fame.

That was pretty useful since my other grandfather a) never went to church, b) growled at the minister when he did show up at the farm, and c) had an interesting relationship with the land that I would now call magical.

In their own ways, both of my grandfathers instilled some basic things in my brain.

1. Faith is personal.
2. Question Authority…or even those who carry the trappings of authority.
3. Think critically about stuff…don’t just accept stuff, even loyalty to country, blindly.
4. Oaths and pledges are supposed to be taken seriously.
5. Eat my veggies.

So up went my hackles last night when I was listening to Coast to Coast AM, as is my habit, and George Noory came online with a comment about how he was surprised that some students at Boulder High School walked out in protest over the “under God” bit in the Pledge of Allegiance.

This sent George off into a nostalgic ramble about how as a kid he and his friends never even thought to challenge the Pledge. And that he wasn’t sure if he was completely comfortable with these kids, albeit using their rights as citizens, walking out in protest over the “nation under God” thing.

Naturally, he got several calls and more than a few FastBlasts re: the issue…and he apparently was getting quite a few that never made it on air.

Seems that many of them were ummm…more than a little heated about the damn liberals and their moonbat ways. Cause he was very quick to backtrack and point out that he’s really frustrated with the heated level of divisiveness that seems to permeate the country. And were protests like this part of the reason there was so much hate.

So…this came rolling out of my head after a long night of pondering my annoyance…

Dear George,

The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Baptist minister-Francis Bellamy: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” in an effort to bring a nation, torn apart by civil war, together…united.

The addition of “under God” as lobbied for by the Knights of Columbus didn’t happen until some time in the 1950s, which means that my parents remember a time where there was no “under God” in the pledge. And, I suspect, so do you…if you really think about it.

Last night you spoke of “not even thinking about it” when it came to making that pledge every day. Last night you spoke of taking an oath like that with a blind, unthinking loyalty. And last night you mentioned that your friends did the same.

No thought. Just saying the words.

Tell me, when you took your oath to join the Navy. You know, the one where you swear to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies-foreign and domestic, did you take that without thinking also?

Last night you questioned the judgment of several high school students for “thinking” about what the Pledge of Allegiance means and not wanting to use the words “under God.” And you wondered if they were part of the reason this country is so divided.

No, George. They aren’t. Not. Even. Close.

What you have here are some students who are actively thinking about what it means to be citizens of the United States of America. They are thinking about the meaning that goes into an oath.

They aren’t just thinking about Paris Hilton. They aren’t just thinking about the Denver Broncos. They aren’t just thinking about Friday’s party. These kids are similar to the young people who thought that Jim Crowe laws should never have existed in the first place and fought like hell to get rid of them.

They are thinking about who they are and how they fit within their country.

The real reasons this country is having issues can be found in the acts of violence and hate against those who would think the Big Thoughts about active citizenship. These people:

The guy who drives his car into the mosque.

The guys who would blow up clinics: Maryland and Texas.

The woman who tells Americans who disagree with her to “shut up and sing.”

The person who runs his truck over the display of crosses for fallen soldiers.

The person who questions the credibility and intelligence of a Staff Sergeant in the 82ndAirborne who was part of a letter published in the NYTimes-after he’s died.

The guy who dressed up as Secret Service and kicked participants, with tickets, out of a federally funded Presidential Townhall meeting on Social Security.

The officials/people who have forgotten Teddy’s charge that dissent is patriotic and assert through inference that any who and disagree with them are either traitors or terrorist sympathizers.

The people who stood idly by as Senator McCarthy destroyed the lives of hundreds of people during his HUAAC hearings.

The people who will, no doubt, now send hate mail to the kids at Boulder High because these kids had the temerity to ask questions and think for themselves about what the Separation of Church and State means.

Those are your reasons, not the kids who’re asking questions.

What you should be worried about are the thousands upon thousands of kids out there who aren’t thinking beyond what they are told to think…or simply take the oath/pledge without even thinking about it…or are so focused on Michael Vick and Paris Hilton that they haven’t a clue about the world they live in.

And you, George, should be thanking your lucky stars that there are kids like this wandering around thinking the Big Thoughts. They were there when you were blindly saying the Pledge without even thinking about it…with that “of course, I’ll swear” attitude.

The blank faces that appear in my classroom and think they can skate through without thinking are the ones who scare the crap out of me-daily. They are the ones who didn’t think twice about the passing of the Patriot Act, and they won’t think twice about our bombing Iran.

Rest assured George, those unthinking ones? They are the ones who will keep saying the oath just the way you like it.

x-posted over at Dkos.

The Dollar Got It’s Ass Kicked Overnight — Pluto Gets Rich

The dollar is got pummeled against all major currencies today.  It’s a dangerous time for the greenback because it has plunged below its all-time lows (set back in 1992).  Often major breaks below key levels can lead to a whole new wave of selling. I’m seeing that start to play out against the dollar today.  It’s going to get very ugly for the dollar before it gets better. 

This is fabulous news for YOU!

Remember when Marty McFly got his hands on that sports almanac, and took it back to the past? That cleap little almanac became the most valuable item on the face of the planet — because the person who possessed it knew how reality was going to unfold — and could wager on it.

It was a sure thing! And so is the dollar (for the next 6 to 18 months) — as long as you bet against America you can be a millionaire lickity split. I’ll show you one way I’m doing it, below the fold.

Before I begin, let me tell you about another sweet bonus I experience doing what I am doing. Like most of you, I am infuriated that the Military Industrial Corporations, who are our overlords, are getting billions and billions of dollars next month (for its shareholders) and there is nothing the people or the congress can do about it. (You know in your heart that’s what going to happen.)

My sweet bonus is that I channel my fury into riches by investing cynically right along side our nation’s corporate owners. It makes me feel better. It also makes me feel better because the Republican moron voters can’t bring themselves to do what what I do — because you have to hate America to do it. They have an ideological conflict that fries their wetware motherboards. This makes me unreasonably happy, as well.

I use many methods to get rich from the destruction of the United States economy. All of them have to do with currency trading of various forms and risks:

Low Risk — U.S. Bank Certificates of deposit denominated in various currencies.

Dispatches From The Abyss

Does that title suck or what? Todays first item in the mosylikelysoontoberenamedcolumn Dispatches From The Abyss; I need a new name for this column.

I grew up reading Herb Caen… One of the all-time great newspaper columnists, though I am obviously prejudiced. How can I resist trying out a column format now that I have a place where we can write anything we want? Herb was known as the father of three dot journalism….

Those who know my style(s) can see his influence there. Though I tend to use the three dots differently…I like the rhythm they give. I have no idea where all the exclamations points come from…except the desire to see peoples heads esplode when I use way too many exclamation points. But to me they signal a rising upbeat tone at the end of a sentence…and I like that!!!

One of the many fascinating things to me about writing is thinking about and trying to figure out how other people perceive/read what I write. Are they hearing the voice I am trying to project inside their head the way I am trying to project it? Is that why people seem to like my writing? Or are they hearing it in a completely different tone and tenor and emphasis etc. than I am trying to convey and I am just lucky enough to be misinterpreted well?

We will never really know, because I don’t think that can be communicated. So anyways…I am going to occasionally write a column…like this. But I need a good name. You can suggest one if you want…that works sometimes. There is a sports writer in SF (Nevious?) who has a weekend column called Cheap Shots, Deep Thoughts and Bon Mots (or something close). I want to steal that, but that would be wrong!

In this column of random buhdyisms there will occasionally also be Meat.

But not today.

Today all I have are thoughts on what a beautiful planet we live on. Everywhere I have ever been the Earth itself has been pretty amazing. Even in spite of everything Humankind has done to make it as ugly as possible. Recently Hurricane Henriette blew through this part of Baja and dumped the  best gift a desert can get….which leads to….A Sade Break!!!

It’s 75Km from my little town down to Cabo, with the ocean on the right. All the way down, an explosion of life….a cacaphony of verdancy all around….relatively speaking. In Hawaii, there was Too Much Life. The jungle overgrew everything, rot and mold was everywhere. Mosquitos. Loud frogs singing at night…..A volcano. Life, activity, unceasing dynamism.

Moving from there to a very desert environment in my first stop in Mexico was…well I am not sure what it was! Saying it was different or a contrast just doesn’t do it justice. The desert there wasn’t even what we tend to think of as desert from the movies, rolling Sahara dunes. There is plenty of life there. But it is not as busy. You can’t HEAR things growing. The silence was amazingly refreshing. I loved HI, but I think I am more of a type that resonates to the stillness of the desert.

My new town is Lifey-er. Still desert sagebrush, but a flowing stream as well that feeds the palm trees and makes things green and a little moist.It is a noticeably cooler here as well., the sun doesn’t seem as unrelenting or as fierce, a really, really nice compromise. I’ll try to remember to take the camera next time and get some pics before everything dries out again. The desert after a rain is my new standard of earthly beauty. At least until I move again! Like I say, I have never seen a part of the earth that wasn’t somehow…in its own unique way beautiful.

Have you?

Other people have bad hair days, I have bad satellite days. (it helps not having much hair!) Today is one of them and I am running at WELL below dial-up speeds. Hopefully it will clear up later, but for now it will take me a lllllllllllooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggg time to respond to comments. I have been trying to do some research on the costs of the war and on what kind of coverage the STRIKE! is getting, but I am pulling my hair out at the sloooooowness of it. Which of course, helps avoid bad hair days!

Todays Abyss Report: Still there, still yawning.

I sure do wish the Democrats would stop poking it with sticks and could somehow get the Armageddonist Republicants to stop throwing things at it and taunting it.

On the sad anniversary of “More and Better Democrats”

The slogan “More and Better Democrats” has taken firm root of late in blogospherical political culture.  After Darcy Burner recently adopted it for last month’s fundraising appeal to mark Bush’s visit to her district to plump for her opponent, I decided to do some wordsleuthing to derive its original usage.  This has all been DKos-Search-and-Google-based work, so of course it’s not definitive — and I’d welcome any corrections — but I found it interesting for reasons that will become obvious.

The phrase has been attributed to Darcy and to Howie Klein, but most often (and, as it turns out, with fair reason) to Atrios.

Today is the second anniversary of the first utterance of the phrase in the progressive blogosphere and the first anniversary of its first use as a political slogan.  Within three hours after its appearing on Eschaton, it was stolen and used repeatedly and self-consciously on this site as a rallying cry.  The perp, I was surprised to discover, was me, one year ago today.

So that means that I really /can/ explain its original usage: it was coined out of despair and grief.  That’s because today is not /solely/ the anniversary of “More and Better Democrats.”  Read on.


Note: This diary is not associated with any candidate or campaign.  Also: in this essay “here” and “this site” = Daily Kos, from which this is crossposted.  I’m too lazy to rewrite it.

I like the phrase “More and Better Democrats” so much — the way it pithily conveys the jaded view that neither “more” nor “better” alone is enough, but also the hope that that both of them together might be — that I decided to do some serious research into its online history and origins.  (I found no reference to any offline history beyond what you find here.)  My methods were four DailyKos searches — one comment search, from 5-2 years ago, which (conducted earlier this week) shows nothing; one, from 2 years to 6 months ago, which shows 17 results; the same comment search since then; a full story and diary search — and a series of Google searches, both a general one and advanced searches focusing on the major progressive blogs.

What I found is that the history of the phrase over the last year is one born of pain.  It leads directly to one of the most persistent and fraught debates that we have in the progressive blogosphere.  En route, tracing its journey, I found some nice diversions, some familiar disputes, and at the very end — so you should read all the way through — a surprise twist.  Most of this research was done some months ago; I’ve been saving this diary for today’s anniversary.

(2) The first stop on this journey brings a special delight.  The second-ever use I found of the phrase in a sentence came from Meteor Blades, posted on this site in his own diary on September 28, 2005, two years ago today.  (He quoted it himself in a post on April 10, 2006, and did so again on January 25, 2007.)  It’s a long post, so I’ve truncated it, but it’s of evergreen importance — on the question of the usefulness of political marches, rallies, and the like (DKos was a different place two years ago) — so I urge you to take a detour and go read the whole thing:

Fer cryin’ out loud, can we stop this … (4.00 / 7)

…my approach is the only approach and anybody who disagrees is a be-beaded, patchouli-drenched retread stuck in the ’60s bullshit?

Protest marches have their purposes. And they didn’t start in the 1960s. Ever hear of the suffragists?

Even so, they weren’t the end-all, be-all of the antiwar movement of the 1960s. Contrary to what so many here seem to believe (apparently because they have accepted the media-distorted images of the movement) – 99% of what we antiwarriors did in the Vietnam era was NOT organize marches and rallies.

As I have argued since the 1960s, and continuously since I began participating at Daily Kos three years ago, and as I did in my Sunday Diary and TocqueDeville’s about the October 24 march, local organizing and locally based opposition is key to our success, whether that’s electing find cheap generic viagra from online drugstore more (and better) Democrats or stopping various policies, including the PNAC-inspired foreign policy of this grotesque Administration.

(3) The third-ever usage, and the first time I find the phrase used to articulate a goal, was on March 25, 2006.  In “The Blogfather,” a blog for /Cape Cod Today/, a commenter pseudonamed “hi hank” had this to say:

We need follow more and better Democrats on Cape Cod. Enough with the self-serving Republicians that hide between the printed word (and their friends in the press). Start a blog. Spread democracy.

Well said, hi hank, whoever you are.

(4) The fourth-ever usage was on this site, in a March 31, 2006 comment by Mooncat, posted in a diary by some troublemaker named Kagro X entitled “We don’t have the numbers.” (read it by following the comment) that argued that we Democrats didn’t have the votes to do anything we wanted anyway, so we might as well shoot for the moon and impeach.  Mooncat’s response:

You are right, of course. (0 / 0)

My goal is to get go site more (and better) Democrats in office.  It is entirely possible that the folks who have been involved for years are pretty content to meet every couple of months, throw a big party once a year, and do some phone banking for a few weeks every other year.  Not much hope in that case until they die, retire, or get voted out.

Another possibility (and this is the one I’m rooting for) is that the old timers also want to get more Democrats elected, but they are just too tired to entertain any ideas that sound like more work.  In this case, involving more people would improve the situation and this 50 state canvas seems like a good way to find at least a few more people who would be activists.

(5) The fifth-ever usage — and the one that I think eventually led to the phrase catching on — was by Atrios.  Because it comes in a one-line response to excerpts from a candidate’s speech that form the brunt of the post, I feel justified in quoting the whole thing, from one year ago today, 2:08 p.m. EDT. Patrick Murphy Speaks


We need to be absolutely clear, to the world and to our professional soldiers, that the United States of America does not condone torture, and does not conduct torture. Period. Not only is it not right morally, but strategically, as a military professional, it’s wrong. When you look back at our nation’s history, when you look back at Desert Storm back in the early 90’s, when we had tens of thousands of Iraqis, thousands of them in the first few days of the campaign rose with the white flag of surrender. Why did they do that, ladies and gentlemen? They surrendered because they knew when captured by the Americans we would treat them humanely. We would treat them appropriately, and we would follow the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

When I sat and taught the rules of engagement, and I was the law enforcement officer in my combat brigade, my soldiers knew, our paratroopers knew, that they were professional soldiers, that we have army values. Those Army values cannot be breached. Those same Army values that I taught to the 600 Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members, the new Iraqi Army, to make sure that they too understood that we are a part of a profession. That we are to act appropriately. That we are to follow the law of war. Because it is a profession, and it’s a profession that we take very seriously. And for those members to talk tough, from the White House or wherever, to try and blur the lines, it’s hurting our own soldiers. It’s hurting our military profession.

All we can do is try to elect find discount cialis professional from online drugstore more and better Democrats.

-Atrios 14:08

You may now start to recall what happened a year ago today.

To lighten the mood for a moment, this was not Atrios’s first use of the “more and better X” formulation.  For example, in this discussion of intellectual property law from March 28, 2005:

Now, I’m all for innovators and artists being able to profit from their works, but the ability to do so is a means to an end, not the end itself. The end itself is supposed to be a benefit to consumers in the form of more new gadgets and more and better chick lit. If the IP system stifles innovation and creativity, rather than fostering it, then it’s time for a change.

(6) The sixth-ever usage I found through Google was first time I found it employed as the bare slogan it has become.  It was used on September 28, 2006 — one year ago today, coincidentally one year to the day after Meteor Blades’s first use of it.  I had evidently read Atrios’s post, the phrase struck a chord, and I flat-out stole it, using it three times in one diary and twice in commenting on a story.  (It also appeared once in response to me.)

I’m going to copy the diary in which the comment appeared, by stephdray, in full as a way to mark this first anniversary of the Senate’s passing the Military Commissions Act, washing away the legal consequences of the Bush Administration’s embrace of torture by a vote of 65-34.  (House approval followed the next day, but everyone knew that the pivotal battle was in the Senate.)

Just Spoke with Harry Reid’s Office on Torture–No Filibuster

Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 01:17:35 PM PDT

I just got off the phone with a staffer in Harry Reid’s office who sounded like he was about ten minutes away from a date with a bottle and a bunch of sleeping pills.

A funny thing happens to me when I’m furious beyond all comprehension.  I actually get deadly calm and quiet.  I was that way on the phone. 

I asked what the status of the military commissions bill was, and what Senator Reid was going to do about it.  Here’s what the man said.

He told me that they were still trying to add amendments to this bill, to fix the problems with regard to Habeas Corpus, Torture, and the Geneva Conventions.  He told me that Senator Reid was vehemently opposed to the bill as written.  That he was poised to vote against it.

I asked if there was a chance of a filibuster.

The staffer let out a long sigh.  “We can’t,” he said, explaining some complicated stuff about unanimous consent and amendments.  Essentially, it boiled down to the fact that the Democrats thought they would have the numbers to pass amendments to fix this bill, so due to Senate rules, the filibuster is now not possible. 

The gist of the conversation was that they believed they had the votes for the Amendments but it sounds as if someone got punked.

I asked “Why didn’t you filibuster this bill instead?”

He told me flat out, that Harry Reid could not find the votes for a filibuster of this bill.  Then he told me that the habeas corpus and torture issues were poison, but there were large parts of the bill that “needed” to be passed and that’s why there weren’t the votes for a filibuster.

I asked him, “It needed to be passed at this cost?”

He sighed again.  And it was not a condescending sigh.  It was a sigh of utter defeat.  As I went on to lecture him about how this was the big issue, this was everything, this was the constitution, the moral question of our age, he did not argue. 

When I told him that history was going to look back on this day unkindly, and that Harry Reid especially would not look good, he didn’t argue with that either.  And it wasn’t a matter of disloyalty, I think.  It seemed to me that Mr. Reid’s office may be well aware that this is a very dark day.

He essentially said, “We tried.”

He told me that if we could take back the Senate, he could guarantee this wouldn’t be happening.  That they just needed the numbers.  I decided not to pour salt into the wound by explaining that if the Democratic caucus held together, they would have the numbers.

I haven’t processed what all this means yet.

Septic Tank, stephdray, and I then had this discussion (tag lines and recommenders omitted):

Oh, well (17+ / 0-)

Hey, they only let us down on torture. That and Roberts. And Scalito. And the MBNA Protection Act. Win some, lose some. Heh. That’s politics, right?

But hey, let’s have some happy fundraising talk! And how ’bout those generic ballots? Woo!

I’m looking at a picture of my son, and for the first time, wondering what the hell I was thinking bringing such a sweet creature into such a bleak fucking world. Thanks, Harry.

God, my eye tic is back. My blood pressure’s going through the roof. Why do I take this stuff so seriously? I mean, it’s only torture.

by Septic Tank on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 01:24:22 PM PDT More and better Democrats (1+ / 0-)

and maybe a diuretic.

by Major Danby on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:00:46 PM PDT

I’m not more and better democrats angry (2+ / 0-)

I’m not a dime’s worth of difference goodbye cruel world angry.

by Septic Tank on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:10:35 PM PDT

It’s more than a dime. (2+ / 0-)

It’s just not as different as we hoped or believed.

It’s the reality, and we have to work with it.  It’s a very bitter pill to swallow, but that little bit of difference, if it makes a difference to people who are suffering… you gotta go with every difference you can find.

I’m no less bitter than you.  I have just moved on to the triage phase.

Stephanie Dray

by stephdray on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:38:04 PM PDT

Then do say goodbye (5+ / 0-)

I appreciate why you’re angry — I’m as angry as you are — but if you’re not going to be part of the solution than you don’t belong on this site.

80% of House Democrats voted against torture.  What, 5% of Republicans did?  If you don’t see a dime’s worth of difference, you’re not worth my conversation time.

by Major Danby on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:38:21 PM PDT

Things continued in the same vein from there (click comment times to go to posts and get context):

Fewer than 41 Democratic Senators agreed with you (3+ / 0-)

More and better Democratic Senators is what we need.  This was lost in the Democratic caucus, and the swing votes there may well have been reading the public in their states right.

by Major Danby on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:02:01 PM PDT

More and better Democrats (4+ / 0-)

Let’s say that 75% of Democrats would filibuster this.

In that case, we needed to have 55 of them.

You and I don’t disagree there.

Although bear in mind that if we had 51, Reid would have made sure that this bill had never come out of committee.

Reality-based, folks, reality-based.

by Major Danby on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:05:03 PM PDT

The next two threads were from this story, “History will not absolve us,” by mcjoan:

so fuck ’em all (5+ / 0-)

I’m serious.  fuck the Democrats.  why should I keep going broke for every election, keep humping my back to spread their message?  They won’t even fight the fights when they have the 100% right of it.

Republicans didn;t steal America – Democrats handed it away.  So fuck ’em.  I’m gonna go watch some reality tv.

by fromer on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 01:42:32 PM PDT

Stop giving Karl Rove an erection (0 / 0)

Yes, Democrats are only an 80% good party and that wasn’t enough this time.  We need

more and better Democrats

.  You’re adding whipped cream on the Republican’s pie when you say you’ll stop fighting.  Instead, keep a long memory and fight harder.

51 Democrats and this bill would never have come out of commitee.  Remember that.

by Major Danby on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:18:57 PM PDT

I feel your pain (0 / 0)

But when you stop trying to elect more and better Democrats, you’re no longer part of this community.  I hope that in time the outrages of Republican control of Congress will bring you back.

by Major Danby on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 03:02:12 PM PDT

It was not, I think, my finest moment here, and certainly not my most friendly.  I can tell you exactly what I was thinking then.  I was royally pissed off that Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats had been outmanuevered, and more pissed than that at the eleven Democrats who voted for the bill.  I was also, given my position on a Senate campaign, looking at non-public polls that showed how well we were likely to do in 2006 so long as nothing came along to knock us off track — and here was something knocking us off track not five weeks before the election.  This would be a double victory for Republicans: enact a repugnant policy /and/ drive away the Democratic base; it increased the likelihood that they would hold the Senate.

(You’ll see echoes of this debate in our recent discussions, I know.)

If this diary has a thesis, it’s hidden right here in the balance of this section:

I see support for the morivating principle of “More and Better Democrats” as being a lot like the commitment to freedom of speech: it is most important when it is hardest to justify.

It’s /easy/ to support free speech when things are going your way, when nothing offensive is being said, etc.  Most people can do it, across the political spectrum.  It’s easy to profess because it’s meaningless, it’s ineffectual, it’s cheap words.  What matters is how much you support free speech when it’s hard, when it means being confronted with something offensive.  That’s when you find out whether or not you’re really a supporter.  (We’ve seen a lot of people fail that test this week with Ahmedinejad.)

The difficulty of supporting the principle of “More and Better Democrats” when the Democrats we have can’t muster a filibuster on the Military Commissions Act, or when they get rooked on FISA, or when they cave in on funding Iraq, is a lot like the difficulty of supporting free speech when Ahmedinejad comes to Columbia, or when the Nazis march on Skokie.  That is when free speech is most in danger; that is when you just have to take a breath, buckle down, and /do/ it.

It’s important to believe it then — to believe that when we get tackled we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back to work — because it is at that exact moment when support for the principle is in greatest danger.  It’s when people are screwing us over, acting like the “Republicrat Party,” that we have to tell them that there is nothing they can do to keep us from making sure that, ultimately, we will not only have enough Democrats to keep the other side out of power, but enough good Democrats to enact our own agenda.

In Mozambique’s drive for political independence from South Africa, the slogan was was “A Luta Continua” (“the struggle continues.”)  In the Spanish Civil War, it was “¡No pasarán! (they shall not pass)”  Of course, often they /do/ pass, and the struggle often continues for decades or more.  But the battle cry — for us, “More and Better Democrats,” meaning “we will keep on doing what we are doing until we defeat you” — sustains the movement.  Yes, it involves a willful suspension of disbelief, it involves the prospect of complicity with those who fail us.  But those, I submit, are better than ironic detachment or self-immolation, because in our world /there is nowhere else to go/.  We need more and more people on our side.  Better and better ones.

Back to the history.

(7) After September 28, 2006, the phrase wasn’t used on this site (or anywhere else I could find) for almost five months, until this exchange between me and Buzzer (whose tag line, “Le ciel est bleu, l’enfer est rouge.” is one of my favorites), which began by my responding to a post by a poster who thought that the Congress that had prepared to impeach Nixon had been Republican-controlled.

No. Not even close. (0 / 0)
It was a Democratic-controlled Congress, almost as entrenched as they get.

The problem is that — as is the case now — there is a conservative majority in Congress once you add the Blue Dogs to most Republicans.  That is what limits the ability of Pelosi and Murtha (who is otherwise himself a conservative) to maneuver.

The answer: work towards a more liberal population, election laws that downplay the importance of money, and elect more and better Democrats.  Until we’re there, try to get there.

by Major Danby on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 04:08:13 PM PDT

Are you saying that conservatives… (1+ / 0-)

  …don’t care if the troops have their proper training and equipment? I’m not talking about conservative leaders, who of course don’t give a crap; I’m talking about conservative voters.

  The Murtha plan should be ridiculoulsly easy to sell to CONSERVATIVES. It’s about fighting this war the RIGHT way, after all.

  The fact that the blue dogs aren’t even trying to promote Murtha’s plan doesn’t speak well for their worth as lawmakers. Or as humans.

by Buzzer on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 04:23:27 PM PDT

They tend to be sheep (0 / 0)

and they tend to latch on to any defensive psychological justification just so they can avoid dealing with contradictions of the sort you raise.

Yes, the plan should be easy to sell to conservative votes — at least honest ones.  But they will soak up lies and distortions to keep them from reaching logical conclusions like a thirsty desert soaks up rain.

Nevertheless, I strongly favor the Murtha plan.

by Major Danby on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 05:17:26 PM PDT

  I would think… (0 / 0)

  …that a “conservative” Congressional district that would elect a Democrat — ANY Democrat — would be more rational and less wingnutty than the kind of “conservative” district that would vote knee-jerk Republican. 

  So I’d think the voters in those districts are fairly likely to listen to reason. They’ve already made one big mental leap by voting for the Democrat to begin with.

  I just think it’s ridiculous that the blue-dogs are throwing up their hands and not even TRYING to sell Murtha’s plan. Especially given how unpopular the war is. That’s just insulting to our troops.

  The Democrats have a serious messaging problem. The Democrats had a serious messaging problem ten years ago. The Democrats haven’t done diddly to fix that.

  I’m beginning to think it’s willful. In their hearts, this war is an enormous source of pleasure to them, and they don’t want it to end.

by Buzzer on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 05:28:45 PM PDT

  I don’t buy that last part at all (0 / 0)

The problem is that a majority of the Representatives are still conservative, which makes it hard to pass bills that aren’t.  The Democratic leadership wants to stop this war despite any political gain they might get from its continuation.  They would like the next President not to inherit a broken military and foreign policy.

by Major Danby on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 05:49:07 PM PDT

  Well, like you mentioned… (0 / 0)

  …Murtha’s pretty conservative himself.

  And like I said, Murtha’s bill is inherently “conservative” in nature.

  And yet the “conservative” blue dogs would rather keep our troops in danger.

  I’m having an increasingly hard time defending the Democratic Party against charges that they “don’t support the troops”. And their rejection of the resolutely pro-troop Murtha plan is one of the reasons why.

by Buzzer on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 05:54:31 PM PDT

  /Who’s/ rejection? (0 / 0)

I think you’re painting with too broad of a brush.

by Major Danby on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 06:30:02 PM PDT

Around this time, the phrase slowly started to catch on.  On DKos alone, redrelic17 used it the next day; jenniferpoole four times over the following two weeks (read this!), me again on March 14 and April 23, and then it was used six times in May, seven in June, twelve in July, almost sixty in August, a hundred times so far in September.  I wish I could take credit for its popularization, but prior to Darcy’s adoption of the slogan that credit clearly belongs to Atrios, who used it on February 18, March 4, April 8, and May 20.  Back here, the next use in a diary after Meteor Blades’s initial coinage was in a diary of mine on May 27, 2007; the first front page use (of 9 so far) was in a Meteor Blades story on June 20, 2007.  It has been used here 52 times here in the past two weeks.  Howie Klein shows 47 hits on “Down With Tyranny” and firedoglake 51, mostly since August.  Google shows almost 8000 hits.  (That’s versus five, if you’re curious, for “More and better Republicans,” one of which actually speaks of the Irish fighters circa 1916.)  But relatively few of them evoke the spite and sorrow that attended the birth of this slogan a year ago today.

I don’t know what the phrase now means to others.  To some critics, it apparently sounds like an empty goal, “success for the sake of success,” or some such.  To me, it’s a statement of grim determination: /we will keep working until we have the political representation that we need/.  The Democratic Party is a tool of change — not always a good one, but for as long as I’ve been alive and as far as the eye can see, the best one.  And the challenge for activists is /always/ whether — in times of greatest frustration such as the Senate approval of the Military Commissions Act one year ago today — we snap that tool in half and discard it, or wheether we try to increase its power and our control over it.

I promised you a twist at the end.  As you’ll see below, we’re not the only ones who ask this sort of question.

(1) I’ve left for the end the first use I could find of the phrase “more and better Democrats,” which is what led me to specify that Meteor Blades’s phrase was the first use in the /progressive/ blogosphere.  The phrase comes from an obscure (four posts in September, no comments) conservative warblogger named Richard Bennett, who used it in an August 2002 post excoriating a Republican pundit, Bill Quick, for his dire response to the flailing and failing California Gubernatorial campaign of Bill Simon against Gray Davis.

Here was what Bill Quick had said, based on his frustration with the Republican Party, back before the “product launch” of the Iraq War:

absent a drastic turnaround in the focus and actions of the Bush administration, I will register my displeasure this fall by voting a straight Democratic ticket at the national level, and I urge others to register their protest in any similar way that will result in a clear message being sent to our leaders: If you fail in your sworn duty to defend the US constitution and, implicitly, the American people from obvious threats like Saddam Hussein and the Islamofascist Saudi regime, you will be thrown out of power and out of office.

Richard Bennett responded:

Cute, isn’t it? He’s upset with Bush, and to show his displeasure he wants to sell the country down the river in an election where Bush’s name isn’t even on the ballot. The only real discussion of alternatives in the Middle East comes from the Republican Party, and Quick proposes silencing them. The plan’s idiotic, and it follows a series of other “Quick fixes” that have the net result of electing Democrats. Given that his main issue is abortion, the fervor to elect more and better Democrats doesn’t make any sense.

Let me ask you — which quote above from our political opponents did you enjoy reading more?

We stand on the other side of the looking glass from Richard Bennett in August 2002.  We stand at the other end — or at least we wish it were the end — of a disastrous war.  We stand at the other end of the ideological spectrum, joined in our frustration at the failures of our own leaders to do what we know they must, one year to the day after one of the greatest betrayals of our beliefs and our Constitution.

We can be the mirror-image of Bill Quick, if we choose.  But when I read his commentary outlining his plans, it made me happy.  I don’t want our own mirror-images to be happy with what we write.

Or, we can be the mirror-image of Richard Bennett, and say:

“The fervor to do anything less than electing more and better Democrats doesn’t make any sense.

So, a happy sad anniversary to us all.  We return to work with the tools and tasks at hand in our historical moment.

For the anti-Fascists fighting Franco, the tool was military: “¡No pasarán!”

For the Portuguese-speaking nations of southern Africa, the tool was enduring resistance: “A Luta Continua.”

And for those of us living in the most powerful country in the world, the tool without which all ohter tools mean nothing is electoral: “More and Better Democrats.”

[poll id=”



Still Photos from Edgewood Arsenal: Human Experimentation Seen Up Close

Crossposted from Invictus

Thanks to tigana for the link to this online resource regarding the U.S. Army’s decades-long experimentation of biological and chemical agents on human subjects. The site has a number of documentary photographs from the testing at Edgewood itself. The photos include both animal and human exerimentation. They are shocking in their display of cold, clinical, Nazi-like science. I recommend following up by reading the link to the Senate hearings included below. I will have much more to say on this subject in the near future.

Between 1955 and 1975, the U.S. Army used 7,000 enlisted soldiers as human guinea pigs for experiments involving a wide array of biological and chemical warfare agents.

These tests were conducted jointly by the U.S. Army Intelligence Board and the Chemical Warfare Laboratories at Edgewood Arsenal’s research facility in Maryland. Approximately 3,500 of these soldiers were given doses of powerful mind-altering psychochemicals, including LSD, PCP, and BZ. These “volunteer” test subjects were not told which drugs they were given, and were not fully informed of the extreme physical and psychological effects these drugs would have on them.

The images presented here are stills from documentary footage of these experiments filmed by the U.S. Army. To learn more, read the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on covert military testing of human subjects; see also the excellent A&E Investigative Reports documentary “Bad Trip to Edgewood.”

For more on the history of the Edgewood Arsenal Experiments, see the Wikipedia article, which I had a hand in assembling:

The Edgewood Arsenal experiments (also known as Project 112) are said to be related to or part of CIA mind control programs after World War II, like MKULTRA…. The experiments were performed at the Edgewood Arsenal, northeast of Baltimore, Maryland, and involved the use of neurological agents and heavy hallucinogens like LSD, THC, and BZ, in addition to biological and chemical agents…. In the mid-1970s, in the wake of many health claims made from exposure to such agents, including psychotropic and hallucinogenic drugs administered in later experiments, Congress began investigations of misuse of such experiments, and inadequate informed consent given by the soldiers and civilians involved.

The Edgewood experiments took place from approximately 1952-1974 at the Bio Medical Laboratory, which is now known as the U. S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. The volunteer would spend the weekend on-site. They would perform tests and procedures (math, navigation, following orders, memory and interview) while sober. The volunteer would then be dosed by a scientist and perform the same tests. These tests occurred in the building/hospital under the care of doctors and nurses. At times the tests would be taken outside to study the effects while in the field. For example the volunteer would have to guard a check point while under the influence to see what effects certain drugs had on the patient.

A pamphlet produced by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Effects from Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Weapons (Oct. 2003), discusses the Edgewood Arsenal Experiments in some detail.

This post is dedicated to the victims of white phosphorus at Fallujah.

Whistle Blowing Primer

Today I am selling my laptop if the prospective buyer actually buys. 

Everything else I own is in storage and it is all for sale.  I haven’t found buyers for it, and none of it has any real value. 

But it’s what’s left after whistle blowing and experiencing years of retaliation. 

I use it to sell in order to pay for places to stay, as I am homeless, permanently jobless and have no ability to compete for jobs playing by your rules. 

What is retaliation? 

To me, it has included an active threat of death, being shot at, experiencing extreme isolation, ostracism, shunning, defamation, stalking, theft, and fraud.  The least of it has been promises that I will never work again.

I am only sharing this here because progressives so easily and loudly proclaim the duty of people to whistle blow.  I don’t believe there is any real understanding of the dangerousness of that act, nor of the consequences which rain down on the person who does try to speak truth to power.

Whistleblowers have been likened to bees: a whistleblowing employee has only one sting to use, and using it may well lead to career suicide. In a survey of 87 American whistleblowers from both public service and private industry all but one experienced retaliation, with those employed longer experiencing more. Whistleblowers face economic and emotional deprivation, victimisation, and personal abuse and they receive little help from statutory authorities.

  Better off dead is not an exaggeration of the fate of whistle blowers.  There is no charity or respite for us.  Most of us die early deaths, from the research that is done. 

How could we not? 

The typical whistleblower’s health is very poor. In a survey I did in 1993, reported in the British Medical Journal (1), 29 of the 35 subjects had an average of 3.6 symptoms at the time of the survey. Though high, this was less than the average of 5.3 at the time they blew the whistle. The most common were difficulty sleeping, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and feelings of guilt and unworthiness. They also suffered from nervous diarrhoea, trouble breathing, stomach problems, loss of appetite, loss of weight, high blood pressure, palpitations, hair loss, grinding teeth, nightmares, headaches, tiredness, weeping, tremor, urinary frequency, ‘stress’, and ‘loss of trust’. Fifteen subjects (i.e. over half of those with symptoms) were now on medication they had not been on before blowing the whistle – for depression, stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure.

The reason for this poor state of health is clear. They had suffered intense victimization at work, being made redundant, demoted, dismissed, or pressured to resign; their position was abolished, or they were transferred. While still in the workplace they were isolated, physically and personally; were given impossible tasks to perform, menial work, or no work at all; were subjected to constant scrutiny and verbal abuse, forced to see psychiatrists, threatened with defamation actions and disciplinary actions; were constantly criticised, fined, subjected to internal inquiries, adverse reports; and received death and other threats. The most common outcome was to resign because of ill health caused by the victimization. The treatment they receive appears to be standard, and is described in more detail, for example, by Bill de Maria in his large survey of Queensland whistleblowers. (2)

As a result of what happened they also suffered severe financial loss. Only eight of the 35 subjects had not suffered any loss of income; in twelve cases their income was reduced by over 75%. They faced large medical, other, and particularly legal costs, and in over half the cases their estimated total financial loss was in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Families disappear.  Wherever we go, people literally turn their backs, or they attack.  Friends – who are those phantoms?  We are sitting ducks just because we played by the rules which are also in place to kill us and our knowledge.  Trust which is stripped from us will never return.  We are less than human. 

The very ethical framework which caused us to speak truth to power over the recognition of authority figures to direct unethical and illegal behavior causes us to be seen as – in the terms you use frequently – nuts and wacko. 

In my own case, even though I kept as much evidence as possible, no one was interested in receiving it and doing anything with it.  So I acted ethically in a true vacuum. That’s the norm. 

There are few, if any, parties who are interested in acting on whistle blowers’ findings because to even acknowledge what is truth is dangerous. 

So I leave you with just an inkling of what happens when someone is even being encouraged to whistle blow with many more “protections” than I had (none). 

And a warning:  unless you are willing to stand up and with whistle blowers, you have no right to ask anyone to sacrifice his or her life for you. Because that’s exactly what it is – certain lethality.

That doesn’t mean spouting attaboys and way to go’s on blogs.  That means giving them jobs, sheltering them, supporting their legal expenses, and protecting them from physical and emotional harm.  It means not abandoning them after they have been used for their information and discarded not unlike rotting fruit. 

There is no effective whistle-blower protection system, and there needs to be.

Those with power – sometimes that’s legal power, political power and firepower – real weaponry, and deep pockets and resources are brought to bear – to oppress by any means available – those few of us who truly stand alone.  Here’s just a very tiny taste (pdf) of what whistle-blowing is like.  And Waxman’s admonishments to the contrary, there are no real protections for whistle-blowers.  We are on our own.  We have no lobby group, no movement, no supporters.  We have no one and less than nothing.  Remember that the next time you cockily and breezily demand whistle-blowing.

Remember – someday, it will be you.

The Honorable Howard J. Krongard
Inspector General
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street
NW Washington, DC 20520 

Dear Mr. Krongard: I am writing to you about an exceptionally serious matter: reports that your senior staff has threatened officials that you could fire them if they cooperate with the Committee’s investigation into your conduct. 

On September 18, 2007,I wrote to you requesting your assistance with an Oversight Committee investigation into your actions as State Department Inspector General. In that letter, I described allegations from seven officials in your office that you interfered with on-going investigations in order to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment.
I requested various documents related to the investigation, and I informed you that Committee staff would be conducting interviews of several officials in your office. 

Two of the individuals who came forward were John A. DeDona, the former Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, and Ralph McNamara, the former Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. They told my staff that they had resigned after you repeatedly halted or impeded investigations undertaken by their office. The other individuals who contacted my staff asked that their identities not be revealed because they feared that you would retaliate against them.

Today, I am writing to express my grave concern with the tactics your office has reportedly used in response to my request. This week, several current employees in your office – including two who have agreed to go on the record – informed the Committee that your senior staff attempted to coerce them not to cooperate with the Committee’s inquiry and threatened their jobs and careers. 

The two officials who agreed to go on the record about the threats are Special Agent Ron Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Rubendall. Both currently work in the investigations division of your office. Both are career federal investigators. Just last week, you referred to Special Agent Militana as “one of my best investigators” in a statement you released. 

In addition to describing the threats he received, Special Agent Militana kept contemporaneous notes of these interchanges, which he has now shared with my staff. 

Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall report that on September 25,2007, one week after I sent my letter, your congressional affairs liaison and an attomey in the Counsel’s office approached them about the Committee’s invitation to be interviewed. They were taken into the office of the Deputy Inspector General, where your congressional liaison told Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall that they wanted to discuss their upcoming interviews. 

At this point, according to Special Agent Militana, your congressional liaison told them they could suffer retaliation based on their cooperation with the Committee’s investigation. 

According to Special Agent Militana, she stated: The majority are not friends. The minority staff has been helpful. They advise that you should never do a voluntary interview in a million years.

When Special Agent Militana questioned her statement, the congressional liaison told him: “You have no protection against reprisal. You have no whistleblower protections. Howard could retaliate and you would have no recourse.”

The attorney informed Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall that although they might have some civil service protections against termination, he concurred with the congressional liaison. Special Agent Militana said that when he pressed the issue, the congressional liaison stated: “Howard can fire you. It would affect your ability to get another job.”

Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall stated that at the end of this session, they felt angry that such threats were being used against them. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall informed my staff that as career investigators who deal with whistleblowers, they were shocked by the brazenness of these tactics. 

They ultimately concluded that this activity was inappropriate and should be reported to the Committee.

Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall are not the only current employees to raise these concerns. Other employees have also reported that the congressional liaison and the attomey told them that if they appear before the Committee, you could take unspecified legal actions against them based on their statements.

I Statementfrom Støte Deportmenl.IG, Associated Press (Sept. 18,2007). 

I am appalled by these reports. As an Inspector General, you hold a position of special trust within the federal government. Your office is supposed to be an example of how to protect whistleblowers, not an example of how to persecute them. It is unclear whether you directed your senior staff to engage in these activities or whether they took matters into their own hands.  In either case, the threats against Special Agent Militana, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall, and others are reprehensible. 

You should be aware – and you should advise your staff – that Congress has passed civil and criminal prohibitions against threatening and tampering with witnesses, retaliating against whistleblowers, and providing false information to Congress.  If Special Agent Militana’s and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall’s accounts are true, some or all of these provisions may be implicated. 

The Committee will not tolerate any intimidation of potential witnesses. 
I direct you to instruct your staff, including your congressional affairs liaison and attorneys, to suspend all communications (other than those necessary to collect responsive documents) with employees the Committee is planning to interview. I also wam you against any further efforts to intimidate witnesses or prevent truthful communications with Congress.

If you have any questions about this matter, you should contact me personally. 


Henry A. Waxman Chairman

cc: Tom Davis Ranking Minority Member 

Stt, t.g.l8 U.S.C. $ 1505 (“Whoever corruptly, or by threats of force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstruct, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law … or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress – Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years .. . or both”); 23 U.S.C. ç 2302 (“Any employee who has the authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, shall not, with respect to such authority … take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action with respect to any employee or applicant for employment because of a disclosure of information by an employee or applicant which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety”).

Pony Party, bereft of alliteration.

And I’m not feeling at all wordy today. Must be a weekend coming up.

Let’s see if this will embed: 

Well, it’s not showing up in my preview, so how ’bout a picture? I can do those:
Image Hosted by

And here’s something that’s Friday Noon appropriate:
Image Hosted by

Let’s see if I can embed something else:

A bunch of my youtube links have been taken down — here’s something that might be good. I can’t tell because the driver I let Windows update install has broken my sound. Gotta go fix that. So tell me if this sucks:

Oh, and here’s another one, just because:

Jim Webb Does Not Get It . . .

Green Greenwald wrote:

At the beginning of this year, when the Democrats took over Congress, it would have been unthinkable — truly — to imagine the Congress expressly authorizing the use of military force against Iran. It was always certainly a strong possibility that the administration would find a way to provoke a war with Iran and then argue that they need no further authorization on the ground that the current Iraq AUMF implicitly authorizes them to defend our mission by attacking Iran.

Stranger in a Strange Land wrote that Jim Webb gets it:

I share Jim Webb’s concern that, given the opportunity, Dick Cheney will not hesitate to use the vote on yesterday’s amendment as part of his justification to attack Iran should that opportunity come to pass.

The opportunity, as Greenwald points out, is the continuing Iraq Debacle. And Jim Webb will not do what must be done, not fund the Iraq Debacle. Which means Jim Webb does NOT get it. No Democrat in Congress can truly claim to be doing all they can to end the Iraq Debacle and to prevent an Iran Debacle if they continue to support Bush’s war by funding it. Webb is supporting the Iraq Debacle as he votes to continue to fund it. More.

The Presidential candidates in the Senate on funding Bush’s Iraq Debacle:

Senator Chris Dodd:

. . . Congress has an obligation here. . . . The Constitution gives the Congress of the United States a unique power, and that is the power of the purse. As long as we continue drafting these lengthy resolutions and amendments here, talking about timelines and dates, we're not getting to the fundamental power that exists in the Congress. And that is to terminate the funding of this effort here, give us a new direction.

Senator Barack Obama:

I hope and will work diligently in the Senate to bring an end to this war before I take office. And I think that it is very important at this stage, understanding how badly the president's strategy has failed, that we not vote for funding without some timetable for this war.

Senator Hillary Clinton:

I have voted against funding this war, and I will vote against funding this war as long as it takes.

Senator Joe Biden:

MR. RUSSERT:  If, in fact, the president does not accept a firm withdrawal date, will you vote to cut off funding?

SEN. BIDEN:  . . . I will vote, as long as there’s a single troop in there that we are taking out or maintaining, either way I will vote for the money necessary to protect them, period.

Joe Biden can not stand up to George Bush and the Republicans. He will not vote to end the war. He can not be the Democratic nominee.

And as long as he takes the Biden position, Jim Webb most assuredly does NOT get it.

Drunk, Drugged & Disorderly in Alabama with “W”

” We probably kept the state liquor store in business.”

  ~Devere McLennan, GWB drinkin’ buddy

I don’t blame them. I was stationed in Alabama after returning from Vietnam in 1970 and about the only entertainment I could find was getting wasted and going to wrasslin’ on Friday night at The Peanut Center in Dothan.  I did get to meet Andre The Giant down at the shopping center. That was cool.

I lived in a large pre-Civil War home in the hills outside Fort Rucker with a varying number of returning vets and girlfriends.  Ahhh…good times.  I won’t mention the name of the town as I believe Charlie the Town Cop still has a warrant for me. He often stopped by while we sat on the porch to show us the stack of warrants he had prepared for us “if he needed them”. He never used them, but he could have at any given time and hauled our asses in for a variety of reasons.

None of our grandparents were Prescott Bush you see.

“George had one story he told a lot, and the story was about how he was always getting picked up by the police in New Haven during his time at Yale, and how they would always let him go when they found out his grandfather was Prescott Bush. When he told this story, George would always laugh as if it was the funniest joke.

~Murphy Archibald, co-campaign worker in Alabama.

We kept our noses as clean as possible and Charlie the Cop left us alone.  It was a nice old house; 6 bedrooms (each with a fireplace), high vaulted ceilings with chandeliers ,antique furniture and art from the 1800’s.  We took great care in protecting this house and the contents.We respected the local family that had rented it to us. The rent was $65 per month for the entire house, totally furnished including linens and tableware.

But in Montgomery in 1972, in the home of an elderly lady that was confined to a nursing home a young tenant was behaving badly…

…the house, “was a total wreck.” A chandelier was badly damaged, there were holes in the wall and the place was full of empty liquor bottles. “The cleaning bill alone was $900, which was no small thing in 1972.”
  “The bedding had to be hauled out into the street,” says Jackson Stell, a friend of Pryor Smith (nephew of the landlord). “Pryor said there must have been no sheets on the bed, the mattress was so horribly soiled.”

The tenant was none other than our fearless leader, W.
The homeowners sent 2 repair bills to young W. They were ignored.

I guess he must have been away at a National Guard meeting.
(although none of his co-workers recall that he ever mention the National Guard.)

They do recall this however…

Many of those who came into close contact with Bush say he liked to drink beer and Jim Beam whiskey, and to eat fist-fulls of peanuts, and Executive burgers, at the Cloverdale Grill. They also say he liked to sneak out back for a joint of marijuana or into the head for a line of cocaine.

OMG, Bush started using cocaine in Alabama?  No, some say he  brought the habit with him from Texas

Now-prominent, established Texas figures in the military, arts, business and political worlds, some of them Republicans and Bush supporters, talk about Bush’s alleged use of marijuana and cocaine based on what they say they have heard from trusted friends. One middle-aged woman whose general veracity could be confirmed told me that she met Bush in 1968 at Hemisfair 68, a fair in San Antonio, at which he tried to pick her up and offered her a white powder he was inhaling. She was then a teenager; Bush would have just graduated from Yale and have been starting the National Guard then. “He was getting really aggressive with me,” she said. “I told him I’d call a policeman, and he laughed, and asked who would believe me.”

I remember 1968, it was the year I was drafted. Bummer. I hoped worried that the Army would discover that I had experimented with certain substances and would give me the boot.  Instead they gave me 2 boots and sent me to boot camp.  It seems the military didn’t require drug screens for flight personnel until 1972.

In 1971 Bush took his annual physical exam in May. It’s reasonable to conclude that he would also take his 1972 physical in the same month. Yet according to official Guard documents, Bush “cleared the base” on May 15 without doing so. Fellow Guard members uniformly agree that Bush should and could have easily taken the exam with unit doctors at Ellington Air Force Base before leaving town.

(From the Killian memos…On May 4, 1972, Bush was ordered to report for his physical by May 14–one day before he took off.)

Yep, he took off. Quite to the surprise of his friends because W. had never mentioned he was going to Alabama. Folks were just as surprised in ‘bama when he showed up.

But the timing of Bush’s decision to leave and his departure–about the same time that he failed to take a mandatory annual physical exam–indicate that the two may have been related.

Campaign staff members say they knew nothing of Bush’s interest in participating until days before he arrived in Montgomery. Indeed, not one of numerous Bush friends from those days even recalls Bush talking about going to Alabama at any point before he took off.

His NG unit was surprised also when he didn’t show up…ever

Recalls Memphian Mintz, now 62: “I remember that I heard someone was coming to drill with us from Texas. And it was implied that it was somebody with political influence. I was a young bachelor then. I was looking for somebody to prowl around with.” But, says Mintz, that “somebody” — better known to the world now as the president of the United States — never showed up at Dannelly in 1972. Nor in 1973, nor at any time that Mintz, a FedEx pilot now and an Eastern Airlines pilot then, when he was a reserve first lieutenant at Dannelly, can remember.
“And I was looking for him,”

W. must have been really busy with his campaign work in Alabama…

Bush regularly didn’t show until noon or later, and then would leave four or five hours after that. He’d spend most of those few hours in his office with the door closed. When he did talk to the staff – and he made the rounds each day as soon as he came in before he locked himself away – his conversation was often disconcerting. “I found it so strange that in that position – in a United States Senate campaign – this guy who was twenty-six years old would come in and good-naturedly talk about how plastered he had gotten the night before. It was usually in the context of saying, ‘I’m sorry to be coming in so late, but last night I really knocked them back.’ He was very comfortable about talking about how drunk he got.”

By late September it became obvious that Bush was performing his job so badly that changes had to be made.

Geez Louise, he can’t fly a plane (failed 2 attempts to land a simulator), gets shit canned at his campaign job, trashes some feeble old lady’s apartment in a drug fueled alcohol binge and becomes President and Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation on earth.

Charlie The Cop would have busted this dipstick in an Alabama Heartbeat.

What are you reading?

Over at big Orange, I regularly (Friday mornings) post a diary called What Are You Reading?

I’m gonna try it out, over here, as well.  Perhaps here, with the smaller more (ahem) select audience, and with diaries spending more time up on the lists, we can get into more in-depth discussion.  OTOH, perhaps it will work just like at daily Kos. OTOOH, maybe it will sink like a stone.

Use the comments to tell us what you are reading

If you like to trade books, there’s [Book Mooch]

John Adams by David McCullough.  An excellent book about a fascinating man.  The more I read about this era, the more I am impressed by the fathers, but the less I understand the Jefferson cult.  I like Adams more.

Classification and Regression Trees by Leo Breiman et al.  The seminal work on a fascinating statistical methodology.

Making Money by Terry Pratchett  – a new Discworld novel!  Enough said!  And, if it isn’t enough, then you need to start reading Pratchett!

The Indian Clerk – by David Leavitt.  Absolutely wonderful.  A novel, a history, a math book.  A primer on sexual mores in the era of WWI in Britain.  A love story (several).  And a dual biography of two fascinating people: GH Hardy and Ramanujan. 
I can’t recommend it highly enough.

How Mathematicians Think by William Byers.  Fascinating ideas about ambiguity, paradox, and math.

Causality by Judea Pearl.  Fascinating but deep.

Intro to Probability Theory by Hoel, Port, and Stone.  A good text.

The Elements of Statistical Learning by Trevor Hastie and Robert Tibshirani.  An in-depth look at a wide range of statistical techniques.  Beautifully produced.

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