Friday, May 06, 2005

Rep.: Why Not Close LANL?

Rep.: Why Not Close LANL?

By Michael Coleman
Journal Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON— Exasperated U.S. House members on Thursday condemned a "culture of non-compliance" at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and one congressman suggested closing the famous nuclear weapons lab for good.
"We have a lab here that is a constant problem," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, said during a Capitol Hill hearing. "Why do we need this one? Is there any really unique science that can only be done there? Why do we need Los Alamos?"


Full Story

These members of Congress are irresponsible in making these statements without thoroughly understanding the facts.
"Since last summer we've seen problem after problem after problem," said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. Ms. DeGette please have the integrity to present the facts. Please enumerate the "problem after problem after problem". Give specifics! Oh, wait...I forgot, you can't because you don't know them...but it is, of course, politically expedient to be quoted in the press. I sincerely apologize to you Ms. Degette (and also to Stupak). I confused you with people of honesty, fairness, and integrity.
One congress women has said the blog comments were of a high school level, my reply to you is, "you may be correct, but at least hat way you can read them."

Thank God for the First ammendment, sometime the plain old truth just hurts!.
It is interesting that this mornings news said North Korea is close to conducting a nuclear test. This is the politician's version of a "friendly fire" approach to military strategy...let's shoot one of own that could help us in this world security issue.
How typical of DC that elected officials with no knowledge of the Lab stand up and make stupid comments about closing down the Lab... The 14,000 workers should all be fired? Why? What did we do? DC morons are always looking for a "cause" on which to pin their political hopes. Sit down and SHUT UP---especially Stupak and DeGette.... Find some other "cause" to build your political ambitions around.
My God, are we collectively this stupid?
Outsiders, congress, taxpayers, etc, look at this blog and see numerous examples of close-minded, self-centered, righteous postings and leave with the perception that we "just don't get it".
This blog will continue to feed their intentions… all based on a small number of cowboys and buttheads that just don’t get it….
Remember that perception can become reality.
We have a lab here that is a constant problem," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, said during a Capitol Hill hearing. "Why do we need this one? Is there any really unique science that can only be done there? Why do we need Los Alamos?"

Hey Stupak! Why don't you get your butt out of D.C. and come tour Los Alamos to find out what we really do. For one, Los Alamos has the only operational plutonium facility in the country. Close Los Alamos, shut down pit manufacturing and all the weapons programs associated with it. Then who is going to certify the current US stockpile??!
[Warning: Sweeping Generalities ahead]

It seems to me that certain Congress people (as well as the media) have missed the essential message of this blog. Morale at Lanl Stinks. Many lanl employees feel that they, en masse, have been wrongly blamed for security and safety issues that were either minor, non-existent, or limited to a small (known to be careless) group totally unrelated to their section. They were then punished (by the stand down) and subjected to insulting, not to mention often idiotic, safety regulations. This is in the face of an increasing public climate that tells them they are irrelevant to the safety of their country and therefore useless and redundant. An opinion now echoed in Congress. Not to mention that their very future is extremely uncertain with the upcoming open bid for the management of lanl. Why are lanl people being lambasted for worrying about the security of their families? [i.e. retirement concerns]
In addition they are left feeling adrift and isolated by the lack of a cohesive vision of the future and a lack of even mediocre management skill by their immediate leaders. This is not the fault of those leaders. Has there ever been a coherent program to teach promoted scientists how to manage a team let alone a group? Is it any wonder that they are anxious, irritable, and perhaps prone to a certain amount of over-reaction? At this point even minor bureaucratic irritations become seen as symptoms of a major and systematic failing in management.
To top all this off, Los Alamos is not exactly an enticing city in which to live. There is nothing to do there. Businesses are dying off, the schools have lost their previous funding, and even Los Alamos oft touted beauty has faded with the fire and the massive tree die-offs.
Los Alamos National Labs is vital to our country’s security whether you approve of nuclear weapons or not. It produces diverse research that has significantly contributed to technological advances in a number of seemingly unrelated fields ranging from aviation to medicine. It is a national resource. And the people who make up this resource are unhappy. Please do something other than criticize them for being human. Make it better.

Please note that this is the opinion of an outsider with a personal interest in lanl, so please forgive any inaccuracies.
Some interesting details on Mr. Bart Stupak --

In the sixth inning, skunk-haired Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak proved an
inept batter, at one point swinging so wildy and so loosely that the
bat flew near the pitcher's mound, prompting nervous laughter from the

Following that debacle, Stupak swung and missed the third pitch. Luckily,
GOP catcher (and fellow Michigander) John Shimkus failed to catch the ball,
so Stupak took first.

LESSON: In baseball, as in politics, the capricious winds of fate - combined
with obscure and incomprehensible rules - can sometimes mean that even the
most incompetent asshole can advance forward. Play ball!

Suck Magazine - July 2, 1998


Speaking of "The Family"

Six members of Congress live in a $1.1 million Capitol Hill town
house that is subsidized by a secretive religious organization,
tax records show...The six lawmakers - Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.;
BART STUPAK, D-Mich.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; and
Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev. and Sam Brownback, R-Kan. - live in
private rooms upstairs.

Miami Herald -

(Stupak is a member of a bizzare, very secretive, hyper-religious
"foot-washing" cult in DC.)


Ivanwald, which sits at the end of Twenty-fourth Street North in Arlington,
Virginia, is known only to its residents and to the members and friends of
the organization that sponsors it, a group of believers who refer to
themselves as "the Family." The Family is, in its own words, an "invisible"
association, though its membership has always consisted mostly of public men.

...prayer groups have met in the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense, and
the Family has traditionally fostered strong ties with businessmen in the
oil and aerospace industries. The Family maintains a closely guarded database
of its associates, but it issues no cards, collects no official dues.
Members are asked not to speak about the group or its activities.

Harper's Magazine - March 2003


Tom DeLay ain’t the only politician who’s bilking taxpayers and contributors
out of thousands in payouts to his family:

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.: Wife Laurie Stupak earned about $36,000 annually
the past two years as the finance director for her husband’s campaign.

Closing LANL down seems quite reasonable to most citizens. I’ve looked through the Blog and find it, in general, composed of whining about pensions and unwanted rules. Add to that a large number of self-reviews and some ad hominem attacks on most anyone foolish enough to sign their name.
There are objective standards for all organizations but I suspect that nobody is anxious to see the results. I’ve been told that the lab prefers the “R&D Magazine” awards and touts its success at collecting the awards. Isn’t this magazine a form of junk mail with attached coupons? To the best of my knowledge, the magazine has no technical staff.
How can anyone remain silent when they see such an improper form of self-promotion? If you want to improve your operation you have to speak out when your management embarrasses you. These anonymous complaints on a blog give some satisfaction but, in the national press or for a casual observer, they are self-destructive. Speak out if you see something wrong. If you’re frightened to speak as individuals, as seems the case, form a union. I would, however, argue against striking because hardly anyone would notice.
An earlier post stated - How typical of DC that elected officials with no knowledge of the Lab stand up and make stupid comments about closing down the Lab... The 14,000 workers should all be fired? Why? What did we do? - I think this points to the general feeling of entitlement that is so prevalent here at the lab. Rather than asking what we did that would warrant getting fired, maybe the more appropriate question for this person to ask is what has he/she done to make themselves worth the salary/benefits that they receive. I am not suggesting that everyone at the lab should be fired. I am simply stating that the tone expressed in many of these posted comments would come off as rather arrogant to outsiders.
4:27 is well-spoken and, I feel, correct. Does anyone else support him?
04:27:49 PM is correct, but that invalidate the fact that a large fraction of the workforce feels wounded by the events of the past year. I know that I'll get flamed for saying it, but it's time to suck it up, tend to our wounds quietly (now that the antagonist is gone), and get back to the business of earning our salaries.

Don't give Nanos the pleasure of knowing how much he hurt you by continuing to dwell on the past year.

We don't just get money for nothing. We have to prove constantly that we are doing something worthwhile with it. I'm confident that I can justify my tenure here by pointing to what my work has accomplished. I've never been at a job before where I have to keep documenting my value over and over again, so when I hear people refer to LANL as some kind of country club for scientists, I'm at a loss for comprehension.
Sometimes you have to take a long hard look at things from another view. The anonymous blog has attracted a few 'fiesty' people, who post a lot. This got public attention- So the world is getting an unfair, skewed view of ALL the people at LANL. Posters- think before you type.

It is time for all here to knuckle down and SHOW the world that you are smart, loyal, and dedicated. I don't think they are taking your word for it right now.
Readers, think before you conclude. When someone creates an anonymous forum for airing grievances, he gives conscientious people an opportunity to appeal their case. He also gives petty people a forum to pursue their grudges. If you use your judgement, you can filter the genuine problems from the garbage.

Antipathy for Nanos is ubiquitous at LANL, and you see that represented uniformly in posts here. Most of the other agendas being pursued (wanting to sack some shopping list of managers, marketing UPTE, griping about 1980s programs, prosecuting some internal rivalry, etc.) are simple parochialism.
Stupak represents a state where the unemployment rate is staggering. The auto industry is failing rapidly, and Michigan politicians have failed to bring in industry to replace the disappearing auto industry. Close the lab and an amazing amount of dollars suddenly becocme available. There are the "haves" and "have nots". Michigan has not. What does Stupak really want?
NM is a swing state, where elections are often decided by just a few hundred of votes. Usually as many as 90% of those allowed for vote. Therefore, as a matter of fact Los Alamos county may sometimes have decisive contribution to the crucial elections. The conclusion for lawmakers should be obvious: do not make Los Alamos people angry by some political games. For many years they do just opposite, earlier mainly on the right side of the political scene, and now left side joins the game, just when the hard work of the right started to work. Interesting...
"Stupak represents a state where the unemployment rate is staggering.
The auto industry is failing rapidly" - 7:57am

Just this last week, GM bonds were down-classed to "junk bond" status.
Ford is in the same category. Chrysler is decaying quickly. And the
large number of retirees and those about to retire are causing enormous
hits to the Big 3 automaker's profits. Anyone living on a Big 3 pension
or using their health care benefits must be very worried. It's sad to
see once proud American companies die a slow death like this. When
people like Stupak lash out blindly, it is probably because they are
representing states with a bleak future.
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