Sunday, January 28, 2007


The first question out of the mouths of the Congressional committee

The words suggested below will not be the words we hear. The whole shebang really is all for show. Stupak et. al. will give Anastasio a good public whipping, get some camera time and a sound bite or two, and then they'll send Mikey scampering back to LANL with an admonishment to "do better". That's what's really going to happen.

Bottom line: expect no change. That's how it works around here.

-Pat, the Realist Dog


Submitted by Anonymous:

The first question out of the mouths of the Congressional committee should be directed to D'Agostino, and be worded as follows:

"Mr. D'Agostino, you don't really plan on giving the LLNL contract to UC/Bechtel, yet again, do you? If so, we'll be meeting with you again, you can rest assured, shortly after the contract is awarded. And take note. It will be a most unpleasant meeting."

To any House members who may scout out this blog -- yes, there are lots of whiners and complainers on this blog. It is also a precious source of information about what is taking place inside the labs that you won't get from any other source.

Use some judicious filtering and take note of what you see. Many of us are like you. We do not like UC running our labs. We are greatly upset that UC got the LANL contract. We see a NNSA that is badly broken. We want our management to improve. We want to work in a place that is not dysfunctional. It's not working out well at LANL. Please help us, and don't hurt the hard working staff who are hoping for a better lab. We are not all cowboys and butt-heads, and most of us deeply love this country and love doing science that helps strengthen our national security. Don't give up on us just yet. Please be careful with your words. Direct them at those who are truly at fault, and avoid belittling comments directed against the whole workforce and against the vital work that we do to help this country.

And one more thing. Yes, you do need a Los Alamos -- a well functioning Los Alamos.

Dear Anon. #1:

My ONLY correction to your excellent and deeply perceptive post is the order of UC and Bechtel in the scheme of things at LANL. The word from the hallways, all the way up to the top of the NSSB, is that UC is now completely absent. They're not even the absentee landlord of yore. "Completely gone" is the word on the street. Bechtel is so much in control that the Miracle of the Year is that "Bechtel's beloved Mitchell is gone." Nobody knows how that could be, except that he REALLY F*CKED UP, personally, on security. There may yet be some questions on that score from the Subcommittee, headed by Subcommandante Stupak.

Poster 7:15pm -

Thank you for your kind words. They are seen too infrequently on this blog.

What you say about UC being completely absent from LANL is interesting. Can others confirm this? In what way is Bechtel now in full control of the lab? Mike is still our Director and many of the ADs that came over from LLNL are still here. Am I missing something? And, of course, Mitchell is now gone and was not replaced with a Bechtelite.

Is Bechtel now calling the shots at LANL in some way that is unknown to most staff? I'm very curious about the above comment.
The Congressional Oversight meeting will start on Tuesday at 10 am EST ( 8am MST ).

I highly doubt it will be carried by LANL's Labnet. It may be carried on one of the C-Span channels.

If you can't find it on C-Span, the House sometimes has real-time Webcasts of their meetings. Go to the House web page below, and look at the "Webcast Links" heading to see if the meeting is being broadcast. You'll have to catch the House Webcast in real-time, as they rarely archive their videos for later public viewing on the web:
The word from the hallways, all the way up to the top of the NSSB, is that UC is now completely absent. They're not even the absentee landlord of yore. "Completely gone" is the word on the street. Bechtel is so much in control that the Miracle of the Year is that "Bechtel's beloved Mitchell is gone." (Poster 7:15 pm)

I know many in the LANL staff who were delirious when they heard that "UC" had won the RFP. Now we are hearing that UC has left the auditorium and that LANL is essentially being run from Bechtel Corporate. If true, the delirium of those who thought that UC would save the lab will now turn to horror when they realize the fruits of this Faustian bargain.
Great Op-Ed from Ben Stein in the latest NY Times. Ben is a very conservative Republican and a strong supporter of capitalism. His dad used to work for Nixon. When a guy like Ben Stein begins to get scared of all the corruption flowing around US business, you know it's time to be very concerned.

Here at LANL, we have now have "Golden Parachutes", "Golden Welcomes", and secretive increases in executive salaries.

As Ben states, the US may be heading toward an out-and-out aristocracy. I think he's right.


The Hard Rain That’s Falling on Capitalism
- Ben Stein, NY Times (Everybody's Business), Jan 28, 2007


When I see what the top dogs at all too many corporations are now doing to that trust, I feel queasy. Outrageous — yes, obscene — pay. Greedy backdating of stock options, which in my opinion is straight-up theft. Managers buying assets from their trustors, the stockholders, at pennies on the dollar, then forestalling competing bids with lockups and insane breakup fees.

These misdeeds and many, many more are hammer blows at the granite foundation of trust we built in the 1940s and ’50s. How long democratic capitalism can survive these blows before it gives in and gives birth to revolution or to an out-and-out aristocracy, I am not sure.


If that trust disappears — if the system is no longer a system for the ordinary citizen but only for the tough guys — how much longer can the miracle last?

EACH day’s newspaper, it seems, brings more tidings of unrestrained selfishness and self-dealing and rafts of powerful people saying it’s good for us to be robbed if only we truly understood the system.

The problem is, we’re getting to understand it all too well.

And there is no one in Washington — absolutely no one — to help.

You have to actually ask if UC has "left the building" and is no longer in charge of LANL?... Look no further than the new dug testing policy. UCOP and the UC Regents, unless required by law, would never approve a random drug testing policy for their employees at a UC site... obviously Mike and the LANS LLC board do not share UC's aversion to randomly drug testing their employees...
The drug policy is the only thing I can see that points to Bechtel leadership. Otherwise it seeems to be the same general UC ineptitude as before. One rumor that was carried on this blog was that Mike and Mitchell used to argue over whether a RIF was needed and that Mitchell's departure was related to that. If that's true, then Mikey is really in charge. And he keeps very close counsel with Knapp and McMillan. Another point against the "Bechtel in charge" theory - anyone seen any actual improvements in our administrative (HR, procurement) or operational (KSL) functions yet?
Dear "1/29/2007 6:27 AM":

Check out the Ben Stein quotes from two posts above you, and then you'll see that NO IMPROVEMENT WHATSOEVER is the order of the day for The Corporation. What made you think that Bechtel would run this place like a humming assembly line? We're lucky it hasn't gotten MUCH WORSE ! !

-Anonymous, due to Corporate Oversight
Pat, the Dog,

At least you're a realist, like most people that I work with every day.

I think most will hang on until they can't take it anymore, for whatever reason. I see a general apathy, perhaps brought on by overstimulation. LANL appears much like someone who no longer responds to stimuli.

I hear comments like:

A: More funds coming.
B: That's good, need to keep the place going.

C: There's 9705 FTE's at LANL: 3593 are TSM/PD; 801 Mgt; 434 Students; 421 Contractors; 2521 Support; and 1935 Techs. Do you think there's an OH problem?
D: No. Don't worry about it, Pete will get us more money.
C: Sen Domenici isn't the head of the committee anymore.
D: Ok, then Jeff will get us more money. He'll say it's for the scientists and engineers. Stop worrying, you act like it's your money. LANL has always had a large OH and no one cares.

E: Think there'll be a RIF?
F1: Director said no RIF. I've got the emails from Beason and Wallace saying the same thing.
F2: Probably, just let me know when. Figure I'll need to look for a new job since I'm not in a protected class.

G: Number 2 guy at LANL left.
H: BFD. That means what to me?

I: Congressional hearings tomorrow about security.
J: Remember listening to Nanos talking about M for Moron as part of LANL CREM security?

K: Worried about drug testing?
L: I only do legal drugs and I've got a prescription.

M: You don't laugh and smile much anymore.
N: Really? Hadn't noticed.

O: Where do you think LANL is going?
P: Does it matter as long as we keep getting funding?

Q: Do you feel stressed?
R: Not really. I've always realized it's just a job. Besides, other than my job, I have no vested interest. I have no stake in any bonus.

S: Remember when our DDL in ESA had everyone print out "ESA is a Great Place to Work" on their computer and post it in their office to boost morale?
T: Still have it.
Hey, Pat. We got quoted in the Halls of Congress!!! Your blog is now famous, I suppose.

Thanks for putting my post on the blog's front page.
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