Thursday, May 05, 2005

Unintended consequences

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held another in its series of hearings on management problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory today, with testimony mostly mostly DOE officials, including Ed Wilmot.

There was nobody to defend LANL or UC, and more to the point thre was nobody to defend the blog.

The blog was referenced several times, mostly by Rep. Bart Stupak of Mich and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colo., both Democrats, who pretty much used it as another stick to beat the lab with, a sign of the incorrigable culture.

While "it was about time" for the shutdown in July, said Stupack, "this action was controversial. Bloggers fulminated against Pete Nanos."

Colo. Congresswomen Diana DeGette was more explicit in placing the blame on the bloggers as representing the "culture of noncompliance." "Management gets it," she said. "I've got the blog right here. Page after page of anonymus people complaining like high school students. Gee, I don't like Nanos I wish he would go to hell.

So, prithee bloggers, now that you see even Congress paying attention, perhaps you could let them know, in a concise way they can understand, who is to blame. You? Manager(s)? UC? NNSA? DOE? Congress?

Are there substantive, qualitative contributions that are coming out of this discussion, or is it merely proving that all information that comes out of the lab has to be controlled or else it will be irresponsibly interpreted and used against even well-intentioned people?

I refer you all again to Eric's posting of May 2 and my follow up posting of May 3. You are free to say whatever you want on this blog, but now that it has a wider audiance what you say and how you say it will have consequences for the lab -- and not always the consequences you would want.

I would strongly urge those of you who are prone to anonymously posting snide comments and personal attacks to stop and think a minute about what you are doing to your own lab.

And I would stongly urge those who have more mature and thoughtful and useful things to say to start posting them on this blog, if only to demonstrate that the lab really does have some top-level thinkers and is worth keeping open.
This response in Washington is hardly surprising.

There have been several posts here by various people that have tried to point out the damage being done to the lab by the whining of a vocal minority of very naive malcontents.

Hope you are happy.

Shut down this discrace.
Perhaps the Congresswoman didn't have a chance to read the entire blog.
So, because some Congresswoman doesn't like the blog we're supposed to cower in the corner while Nanos destroys the Lab. I don't think that will happen. I can hardly wait for the next Congressional investigation that finds such matters of National import as "they even had a safe next to a Coke machine." If we are only playing political games here, then we SHOULD be shut down. Who ever said that we should be a pork barrel charity. On the other hand, if we are ever to have a positive impact on National security, then we need some degree of latitude to distance ourselves from the day-to-day political posturing of Barton et al. They (Congress) work for us, not the other way around. I work for the American taxpayer as a service to the Country. I am not a member of the public dole and don't intend to be treated as one. If I must work elsewhere, that is fine too.
The congresswomen needs to get the
FACTS ... FACTS ... FACTS. There is
no culture of noncompliance. It has
been stated time and time again that
that LANL is the safest lab in the DOE
complex. We are also the most secure
when our numbers are compared againts
other labs. We produce more science and
have more impact than the other labs.
These are are facts and can be looked up.
There is no culture of noncomplince.
Why does Nanos not present the facts,
real numbers? Why? Why does not the
cogress ask for the facts. Why do they
not ask if LANL really has problems
in terms of security and saftey than
where are the real numbers.

Lets get the real numbers and the facts
to decide.

Congress person Diana DeGette. If you
read this blog than do this. Get the
facts and than make a judgment. It is all
there. Our saftey record, our securty record, and our science record.
There! All you smarty pants out there got your wish and your petty little insults finally got noticed by a lot of people! Trouble is, it got the wrong notice. And there were people out here in blog land trying to tell all you self-admitted mental wizards out there that whining and arrogance were going to portay LANL in a bad light. But no! You had to portray those comments as the vapid rantings of sycophants and brown-nosers. Well guess what, chumps! You've dragged us all down with you. Go ahead, whack away at this post, too. Just don't be surprised when the proverbial fan and sh*t meet. (Oh, and by the way, Wizards, more than one muckety-muck cited the blog as an indication that LANL still had a very real and very disturbing "cultural problem" going on.) Hope you're all happy now. Keep the hateful, whiny posts rollin' on in, y'all. After all, you're all just so f***king smart on every single topic there is, from physics, to retail marketing, to political science, to conspiracy theory. Way to go!
I wonder what Congresswoman DeGette has to say about her constituents!
7:16 and 7:26 are right on the mark. As for 7:29, that poster should realize that it was our intent to raise this travesty to the congressional level. People who hold the purse strings should realize that when they put a loose cannon in charge of a national lab that bad things tend to happen. It is congress that needs to remove their heads from the sand. Indeed, there is no culture of noncompliance here. Just because some megalomaniac makes the claim doesn't make it true. The problem is one that the great author Tom Clancy proclaimed in an interview on C-SPAN. He said, 'In my experience the average congressman has an IQ lower than the average truck driver, not intending any offense to truck drivers.'Congresswoman DeGette seems to confirm that theory. As previously stated, these people work for us and they are doing a poor job of oversight if they allow the likes of Nanos to have free reign.
Bill makes a good point. However, the actions of some Members of Congress show that they seem to have forgotten the document that gave us due process, freedom of expression, the pursuit of happiness, and basic liberties. Ironically at a time when young Americans are dying to defend freedom overseas, certain MCs have chosen to mock and belittle other Americans who are exercising and defending those same principles at home. Why should we be surprised? It is a sad fact of history that members of that august body sometimes chose to overlook the very evils they are sworn to prevent. Any MC that defends the waste of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars caused by the ill-advised stand down at Los Alamos, that defends the denial of due process to American citizens, and that denigrates Americans who exercise their freedom of expression to uncover waste, fraud and abuse, does not deserve the respect of the people who elected them. The indisputable facts are that (1) the blog did not misappropriate Federal money, not one dollar; (2) the blog did not scapegoat innocent employees; (3) the blog did not deny due process to persons accused of wrongdoing; (4) the blog did not brag that tax dollars were being used to bankrupt American citizens who were only pursuing venues of equity and fairness; (5) the blog did not engage in favoritism in promotion; (6) the blog did not cover up security infractions by senior laboratory executives; and (7) the blog did not threaten retaliation against worker for exercising their legal rights. The blog did report in full accordance with the Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act the seven preceding indiscretions committed by others. In which camp should Members of Congress pitch their tents of support? I respectfully ask that question and then proceed to rest my case.
"Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other."

Benjamin Franklin
While I defend their right to express their views, it saddens me that some postings seem to advocate silence and acceptance of evil. My friends, cowardice is a game played only by ostriches and losers. Pretending that evil does not exist will not magically make it go away. History gives us the Third Reich, the Gulags of the Soviet Union, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and Rwanda as examples. All of these tragedies at one time were small movements involving only a few tyrants. Silence only ensured that the evil they represented would multiply and flourish. The point is that no tyranny is too small to be resisted.
5/5/2005 08:54:49 PM makes some fine statements against cowardice and acceptance of evil, advocates speaking out against tyranny... and concludes by posting anonymously.

What continues to sadden me is the number of unnecessarily anonymous posts here. I can't count the number of comments I've read that in the end have left me wondering why it needed to be anonymous.

Are people really fearful that simply by posting here they'll "get in trouble"?

(As I've said before, sure, some posts need to be anonymous - but many don't.)
Well, John A. Turner: either you don't work at LANL, and can therefore be forgiven for not understanding the atmosphere of retribution and retaliation Nanos has encouraged, or you do work here and are, shall we say, somwhat oblivious to the real-world working conditions at LANL.
To 5/5/2005 09:13:28 PM, I am in full agreement with your just took the words right out of my fingers.
Wow, all this for just a "handful" of people posting to the blog.

Seems like the pols use it as they see fit to their advantage. Either it's a few malcontents that should just be ignored, and everyone else "gets it" - or it's the whole Lab showing "they don't get it". No matter how you twist it, it can't be both.
To 5/5/2005 09:13:28 PM and 5/5/2005 09:16:04 PM, you can easily find out that I do indeed work at LANL, and have been here long enough to be as frustrated with the way things are as anyone.
There are alot of hard working and dedicated employees here at LANL and I for one am proud to work amongst them just as I was when I first came here over 20 years ago. On the flip side there are also the lazy, clueless, liars and fakers amongst our midst and that my friends has been on the rise. They are around at all levels.
Why is it that some people think the only alternative to anonymously posting bitches, gripes, whines and derogatory attacks on management is silance? A truly intelligent bunch of people would have figured out by now that a more fruitful alternative would be to post useful, constructive, thoughtful comments, backed by data and logic instead of sophomoric emotion, that show the lab as a group of bright thoughtful people (which many if not most are) trying to deal with a difficult management problem.
Rep. Bart Stupak of Mich and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colo., both Democrats the party of Vietnam War Hero John Kerry for a "Stronger America." The people who made a religion of hating the USA.
I also believe our own Republican Pete Dominici said something disparaging about this blog and its bloggers. The party of the Iraq war and all-time budget deficits a truly stronger America.
Tell Stupak to shut down General Motors and Ford. We can all drive rice burners, they run just fine!
Bill G, please consult some of the articles on the right side bar, such as the "2004 Physics Today LANL Safety Article," "Fear and Loathing at Los Alamos," "The Ghost of Raspberry Jam Lost," "Letter from Former Associate Director Tom Meyer," and "TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath" and you'll understand why people here are angry.
I have no trouble understanding why LANL people are angry. I'm trying to get you all to pay attention to how you express that anger. So far some of you seem to be doing the lab more harm than good. Snide and vicious anonymous attacks on everybody in sight, and especially on those that fund you, are NOT going to help your cause. Quite, reasoned, mature, thoughtful discussion of the problems and possible solutions would help your cause, especially now that you have a wider audiance.
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