Pennies for Beauty and Billions for Bombs

By: Bill Whaley
10 August, 2019

Reality and The Tragedy of El Norte

“I love the feeling of Reality in the Morning. Tragedy confirms the love we have for the fate we suffer.” Chaucer Henderson

Occasionally one gets pinched and wakes up, thanks to the Los Alamos Study Group. See below the news of an exploding budget at LANL: “Far larger than the Manhattan Project in New Mexico…” says Greg Mello

Reality and Monumental Effects

When I go for a walk today in the National Monument, named Rio Grande del Norte, I shall watch the skyline cut through the blue, gray, and white, piercing the heavens above the Sacred Mountain. The sublime forces of the land forever mesmerize those who seek beauty, the truth unfolding in the connections between people and place, defined as much by light as by volcanic-tectonic forces and buildings scattered across the topography. The topography of beauty offers less to those who trade off the moral imagination for “power” and “money,” the “mother’s milk of politics.” For the Monument also stands as an international symbol of the sacrifice zone.

While my fellow residents praise the solar idolotars of green power, harnessed by local Coopsters, who have “socialized” the cost of good conscience and bad faith on the backs of frugal KCEC members, so have Senators Udall*, Heinrich, and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan burnished their enviro cred and distracted the multitudes from a darker purpose: supporting the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, while financing LANL’s bomb building mission.

(Back when Rep. Udall announced his candidacy for Senate, he met with activists at a 2008 Memorial day rally at Shadows in downtown Taos. When the activists confronted him with his support for the “Bomb,” he bared his teeth. The Liberal Tom turned nasty.)

Oh, you can dance to the tunes of the Calaveras in the Sagebrush on the Mesa, and celebrate smug regard for Mother Nature, drink beer and howl at the moon. But can you deny the “connections” between nature, cosmos, people, and place? Some of my best friends, like my own various selves, celebrate hunting and fishing, hiking, and gliding along the trails in Rio Grande del Norte and up in the Sangres where the “Blood of Christ” reminds us of the “National Sacrifice” zone, where so many friends, before and after, have died of cancer.

Here in El Norte scientist savants let the genie out of the bottle, which, in turn, incinerated what was left of the Japanese, whose citizens had already been “firebombed” prior to the “Bomb,” much as the Germans in Dresden were subdued then fire-bombed and further “punished” by Allied firebombs. Read your Vonnegut and remember how Billy Pilgrim became unstuck in Time.

Nortenos have been gambling with death, the Calaveras snapping at their heels for more than 70 years working up at LANL. Native New Mexicans have been sacrificed directly to the cancerous beast, a beast whose insatiable maw aims at swallowing what’s left of a fragile eco system (see Mello below).

The Tribunes of Empire believe “Might makes Right.” Empire reveals its darker purpose in places like El Paso and Mississippi. Though “AK-47s and AR-15s seem as crude as water pistols compared to the power of Plutonium Pits.

Yes, Dr. Strangelove, up there on the Pajarito Plateau, the savants “hypothesize” but leave the practical application to the lobbyists, arms traders, and the anonymous “technicians of termination,” who do the dirty work.

A poor man or woman just wants to feed the family or go fishing, check out the petroglyphs and enjoy the view. What does Geo-Politics have to do with me or I with the Geo-politics, the politics of mass killing and raids at chicken plants? Eh? What gives?

Don’t you love living at the Center of the Universe with the Dancing Calaveras, where, like Oppenheimer, said, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

For we have learned to love the bomb as much as the white clouds floating above the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge below, a symbol of both suicide and those who choose daily not to jump, even as the Calaveras beckon and dance along the balustrade 650 feet above the rock-strewn Rio below. Call the effect vertigo.

Read Greg Mello’s lonely letter below.
(Friday, Aug. 9, 2019)
Nagasaki Day

Dear New Mexico activist friends —
Yesterday two of us attended a LANL subcontractor forum, at which some of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) grand plans were unveiled to more than 700 attendees representing potential contractors from 30 states.

We have not yet distilled all we learned into a form suitable for this list and many mysteries remain. We did however supply some of what we saw to the newspapers. We expect at least tomorrow’s Albuquerque Journal to carry just a little of this news. The first take on these grand plans will be followed by more detailed stories, in the news media and from us.

What LANL is planning is far, far larger than the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, in fiscal terms. (Editor’s Bold)

Tomorrow, you may read about LANL’s plans to spend $5.5 billion (B) on capital projects (construction, basically) in the next 5 years, and $13 billion over the coming decade. You may read about new facilities for plutonium production workers — a cafeteria, 6-story parking garage, and training center. You may read about plans to transfer land for construction of new housing for the 1,500 or so new workers that will be needed to prepare for this mission.

You will read about two or three new highways LANL is proposing, one to shorten travel time from Albuquerque and another one or possibly two to shorten the commute from parts of Santa Fe, all coming together to cross the Rio Grande south of White Rock at Ancho Canyon.

Part of the idea is to tap into the bigger pool of workers in the Albuquerque area for the tremendous construction program at LANL and the industrial plutonium mission to follow.

Words we did not hear in 5 hours of presentations were “Espanola,” “Chimayo,” or “Rio Arriba County.”

We heard that construction accidents had recently doubled and tripled, depending on the measure, at LANL. LANL is desperate to solve its safety and management problems, and desperate to show it has a plan to succeed at the plutonium mission.

LANL has been meeting secretly with the Governor and her cabinet to further these grand plans, as well as with our congressional delegation.
At present, the full scope of these plans is secret.

No environmental impact statements are planned, as yet.

We have written the Governor and delegation requesting specific planning documents as well as national and regional EISs.

As we wrote in Bulletin 262, our senators are preoccupied with making sure:

a) the pit production mission is as large as possible (namely at least 80 pits per year, the same as Trump; Heinrich has joined with Sen. Lindsay Graham to get that requirement into statutory law and is likely to succeed next month); and

b) no other site shares in that mission.

Neither the Governor nor either senator has responded to our requests to meet.

We urge you to read, learn, and if you wish, ask how you can help. We have our own plans but our resources aren’t huge.

Friends, more plutonium processing is the exact opposite of what New Mexico needs. More nuclear weapons are the exact opposite of what humanity and the United States need.

These grand plans can be stopped, as they have been stopped before.

If you don’t want to stop them, you shouldn’t be on this list.

The billions of taxpayer funds LANL plans to spend will not create prosperity or improve the region in any way. Inequality will increase. Housing costs will increase. The labor market will be distorted. Politicians will continue to dream vain dreams about the coming “high-tech triangle” between Los Alamos, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, losing precious time and opportunities to actually benefit the region.

Need we remind you that every site, in every country, that has hosted the plutonium pit mission has become an environmental sacrifice area? In the neoliberal “development” model, pollution is just another saleable asset.

That’s enough for tonight. Get ready. We need your help.


Greg Mello
Los Alamos Study Group

2901 Summit Place NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106

505-265-1200 office

505-577-8563 cell

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