Inside the Capitol

Sunday, July 31, 2005

8-08 Nagasaki

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The Hiroshima bomb didn't jolt Japan as we had hoped. Its military leaders still refused the unconditional surrender demanded by the Potsdam Proclamation.
But it did shake the Russians. Stalin feared he had waited too long for his oft-promised invasion of Japan. If Japan surrendered before he got his troops into Manchuria, the Soviets would have no claim to Japanese spoils.
On August 8, Russia declared war on Japan and at dawn on the 9th, tanks rolled into Manchuria.
The night before, Major Charles Sweeney and crew rolled "Bock's Car" down the runway on Tinian and took of for Japan carrying "Fat Man." Unlike the flight of "Enola Gay," three nights earlier, this was not a textbook operation.
There were technical problems getting the device armed. Weather reports were threatening. A reserve fuel tank malfunctioned and couldn't be used, even though the plane had to carry the dead weight of unusable fuel.
The camera plane, which was to rendezvous off Japan never arrived. They waited over two hours, using precious fuel. When they arrived at the prime target of Kokura, it had clouded over during the wait.
They flew on to Nagasaki, which also was clouded over. There was only enough fuel left for one run. At the last minute, the clouds broke slightly and the bomb was dropped over a secondary target three hours late.
But it worked. The blast was even stronger than at Hiroshima. But because the hills of Nagasaki shielded the effect, there was less damage and loss of life.
The prime target had been Nagasaki's huge shipbuilding and repair yards, the largest in Japan. The secondary target was the Mitsubishi torpedo and munitions factory. It is easy to imagine that the factory was completely destroyed by the blast.
It must have been obliterated, because at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, the only relics displayed are from churches and schools. And even though the Japanese aren't big on English subtitles, every exhibit in the atomic museum has English text.
It is a very definite attempt to sway world opinion in their favor by portraying themselves as the victim and the United States as inhumane for having resorted to nuclear weapons.
This campaign began even before Japan's formal surrender, when it was decided that it would be easy to sell a victimized Japan, and the bomb as a crime against humanity. Japanese leaders could explain that the only reason they lost was because we didn't fight fair.
And, as American POWs were returning from Japanese prison camps with stories of unbelievable atrocities, the subject could be shifted to our wanton use of atomic weapons. Some Japanese leaders even fantasized that many Americans might be talked into condemning their own government.
Those fantasies, as we know, have come true. Every year, on the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Americans gather in Los Alamos to decry the unnecessary American deployment of the Bomb.
Perhaps some of their fathers and grandfathers lived to have children and grandchildren because of the bombs. It is estimated that a million Americans were able to come home and resume their lives because the war was ended quickly.
The estimates of Japanese lives saved by the bomb range as high as 70 million, because their civilians would have been the major component of their casualties. American conventional bombing already was inflicting more casualties in a night than the atomic bombs did.
Anti-war and anti-nuclear protesters often cite statements made by American generals and admirals after the war contending that we could have won without atomic bombs.
The admirals said they could have won the war with a naval blockade. The Air Corps generals said they could have bombed Japan into submission. And Gen. MacArthur wanted to march through Japan on his way to the presidency.
Old soldiers never lose their egos, either.
MON, 8-08-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Saturday, July 30, 2005

8-5 Hiroshima

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- At Potsdam, President Harry Truman received the news for which he had been waiting. "Operated on this morning. Results´┐Żalready exceed expectations. Dr. Groves pleased." The test at Trinity Site had worked.
Russia had been playing coy about entering the war against Japan. President Roosevelt and the Allies had been willing to accede to just about any demands to finally get Russia into the battle. To make matters worse, Japan also had been wooing Russia to enter the war on its side.
Armed with this new information, Truman, who had not had a single war briefing prior to assuming the presidency three months earlier, entered the discussions with a banty-rooster confidence that astounded everyone. It was the beginning of his "Give-'em Hell Harry" routines.
He let Josef Stalin know there would be no more entreaties from the United States for Russia to enter the war. Stalin knew that meant the United States had The Bomb, but he had no idea what Truman would do with it.
There was some thought of a demonstration to show we had it, but we had broken Japan's Purple Code for top-level messages before the war even started and knew they knew we were in a race to see who could develop the bomb first.
Japan didn't need a demonstration. Besides its diplomatic messages demonstrated that there were no circumstances under which it would surrender.
Ever since we took Tinian, we had an airfield from which we could bomb Japan. The next steps were to take Iwo Jima and Okinawa so planes had a place to land on their return trip in case of trouble. The B-29 Superfortress was developed to fly from Tinian to Tokyo.
On a normal night's bombing run, nearly 1,000 would leave at the rate of one every 15 seconds. The bomb load was the biggest of any plane, but Gen. Curtiss LeMay kept pushing the envelope up to the point of overload. Many planes didn't make it off the ground and crashed in flames at the end of the runway.
The A bombs also were an overload so it was decided that the bomb for Hiroshima would be armed while in the air, rather than before taking off. An atomic bomb explosion on Tinian would wipe out the entire island, along with 20,000 troops and over 1,000 planes.
The crews that dropped the atomic bombs were extremely well prepared. They spent a year in training, unaware of the purpose until just before their missions.
The training unit was called the 509th Composite Bombing Group, under the command of Col Paul Tibbetts. The group trained at Wendover Air Base in Utah. After the war, it would be based at Roswell, New Mexico.
The group was a miniature, stand-alone air force and had priority over every other unit in the military. When it moved to Tinian, it had its own self-contained, air-conditioned section at a corner of the base. And no outsider was allowed through the gate, not even visiting generals.
On July 14, two days before "Fat Man" was tested in the New Mexico desert, "Little Boy" began its journey from Los Alamos to Tinian, arriving there aboard the USS Indianapolis, the fastest ship in our fleet. Four days later, the Indianapolis was torpedoed and sank.
The prime target was Kokura, but a late report of prison camps in the area shifted the target to Hiroshima. Numerous New Mexico prisoners had a ringside seat to that blast because Hiroshima also had nearby prison camps.
The year of training paid off. Last-minute preparations were almost leisurely as Los Alamos scientists readied the bomb. The flight itself was a textbook performance. Nearly everything went just as planned.
Before the Enola Gay's historic flight, leaflets were dropped over the four possible targets, urging all civilians to evacuate. They were ignored. Forty square miles of industrial Hiroshima were leveled.
FRI, 8-05-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

7-31 National Christmas Tree

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- New Mexico has the honor of providing "the nation's holiday tree" again this year. Judging from the past, it's likely to be a pretty big deal.
The U.S. Capitol landscape architect was in town last week conferring with U.S. Forest Service personnel about locating the perfect tree in the Santa Fe National Forest. It's location will remain a secret "for security reasons" until November, when it will be cut and hauled out.
The tree will then make publicity stops in many communities between here and Washington, D.C., where it will be placed in a five-foot hole on the spacious west lawn of the Capitol Building.
Between now and then, New Mexicans will be urged to make decorations for the tree. First Lady Barbara Richardson is heading the effort. She says she wants 3,000 decorations. The Forest Service predicts it will be 5,000.
The last time New Mexico provided the tree, 14 years ago, we claimed to have made over 10,000 ornaments. Pitching in were school children and senior centers around the state, along with a number of Taos artists.
Why Taos artists? The 1991 tree was from the Carson National Forest, so Taos really got into the celebration. Taosenos decided that a cut tree would not do. It had to be live. And thus began a story of many headaches, pains in the neck and pains in other locations.
First came the news from the Forest Service that it could spend no money on the project. This would be a gift to the nation from the people of New Mexico.
The 30-ton root ball makes a tree considerably more difficult to harvest and transport. A Houston firm experienced in transplanting and transporting large trees volunteered to help.
Being experts in the business, the firm's advice was that a truck ride from here to Washington would make the tree's survival unlikely. About the only solution would be to put it on a truck in the forest and haul it to a nearby airport that could handle one of the Air Force's huge C5A cargo planes that would haul both the truck and tree.
New Mexico's congressional delegation got busy on that assignment and discovered that although it might have been possible before, media revelations that White House Chief of Staff John Sununu was catching military aircraft to see his dentist back home, had made the Air Force cautious.
The Air Force said it might be able to arrange transportation if one of its big cargo planes were on a training mission, or if one happened to be in the area at the right time and had other cargo it needed to send to Washington.
But there was anther problem. The Capitol's Christmas tree is not the nation's only Christmas tree. Excuse me, I said Christmas and I know I shouldn't have.
The White House also has an official tree, both outdoors and indoors. And then there's that big one at Rockefeller Center that receives about 90 percent of the media attention because it is right there where their headquarters are.
The Republican White House wasn't too interested in asking one of its federal agencies, such as the Air Force or the Forest Service, to bend the rules for a Democrat-controlled Congress. So Taos was told it was on its own.
For $15,000, we were told, the Air Force could do the job. In many states, that would be pocket change for any number of large industries. But with our largest industry being a national laboratory, we were out of luck. There was an offer of $5,000 to buy the gas, but the Air Force wasn't interested.
Congress does control the budgets of federal agencies, but members of Congress aren't especially interested in helping out their colleagues with such a problem, because they compete for the honor of their states providing the national tree.
The saga of the Taos Tree will continue.
MON, 7-31-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Saturday, July 23, 2005

7-29 Jedi Mind Tricks

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson's dozen's of appointments of media personnel to top state jobs has worked well for the people of New Mexico.
As the governor says, reporters and others from the media tend to be intelligent, hard workers, with broad views, who are good at analysis and communicating the goals of the administration to the public.
But now one of them has gone over to the Dark Side. Matt Dillman, spokesman for the Children, Youth and Families Department, has revealed a centuries-old secret of all reporters.
The secret of which I speak, as everyone now knows, is the old Jedi Mind Trick, the basis upon which all inquiring and investigative reporting is accomplished.
Now that the secret is out, I have no idea how we are ever going to keep the public informed about what is going on behind the closed doors of state and local government.
It has been my experience that the state attorney general's office tends to go very easy on local public officials who shield their actions from public scrutiny. Without our old standby of Jedi Mind Tricks, we'll really be up a creek.
For those of you who missed it, Dillman, a former Albuquerque TV reporter, sent an e-mail memo to some 2,000 CYFD employees warning them of evil tricks by unscrupulous reporters.
And the most evil of all was the Jedi Mind Trick, designed to confuse unsuspecting state employees to the point they will reveal state secrets. Obviously, we can't let that happen.
Dillman's solution was for all department employees to always refer media questions to him, regardless of who is asking the questions or why. That means that if the department is proud of a program and wants to get some publicity for it, no one can answer any questions about the program except the department's public relations flack.
Dillman may find most of us very hard to reach.
Our only saving grace may be that Dillman revealed only one of the Jedi Mind Tricks -- the one that says if you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em. He apparently hadn't graduated to Mind Control in his Jedi training yet.
No reporter has ever been known to make it all the way through training to become a Jedi Knight. We're not sufficiently disciplined and don't have the proper respect for authority. But media bosses want us to have basic training in Mind Tricks, anyway.
Now that we've been outted, don't expect much more investigative reporting. That is a dying breed anyway. Woodward and Bernstein never would have broken the Watergate conspiracy under today's rules of engagement. They would have been labeled as unpatriotic and dangerous to national security.
Another factor inhibiting investigative reporting is the growth of media conglomerates. To advance the thirst for more and more acquisitions, these big companies have had to start selling stock.
At that point, the prime responsibility becomes attention to stockholder interests. And that means elimination of expensive functions, such as investigative reporting.
Although Gov. Richardson has had a good record for appointing members of the media to top jobs in his administration, he's had problems elsewhere. Last week another unwise appointment came back to haunt him after only three months.
Early in his administration, Richardson had a spate of embarrassing appointees bounce back on him after a very short time in their jobs. The governor has announced he intends to correct the problems with stricter background checks, more effective and efficient court record searches and more pointed questions at interviews.
Those will be helpful, but one other added precaution this column has suggested since Richardson took office is a trusted adviser who has been around state government for more than a few years.
Nearly all of the governor's embarrassing appointments could have been headed off by someone with first-hand knowledge of potential appointees' past problems.
FRI, 7-29-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Friday, July 22, 2005

7-27 Attorney General Race

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The Democrat race for state attorney general is beginning to fill up -- and with good reason. At this point, it is the best steppingstone to higher office.
It wasn't always that way. For the first 70 years of our statehood, no attorney general achieved higher office, although many tried. In the '60s and '70s, it was a big joke that the attorney general's post was a dead end job.
But in 1982, two former AGs won higher office, as Toney Anaya was elected governor and then-Attorney General Jeff Bingaman was elected to the U.S. Senate. And then in 1998, Attorney General Tom Udall was elected to Congress.
So at this point, the only two Democrats in New Mexico's congressional delegation stepped out of the attorney general's office and directly into Congress. That's pretty inspiring for an aspiring politician with a law degree.
None of the other minor statewide offices have been good proving grounds for governor or Congress. Even lieutenant governors have not had much luck moving up.
In 1962, Lt. Gov. Tom Bolack became governor for a month when Gov. Ed Mechem resigned, following the death of U.S. Sen. Dennis Chavez. Bolack then appointed Mechem to Chavez's seat. Lt. Govs. Washington Lindsay and Andrew Hockenhull succeeded governors upon their deaths in the early days of our state. But neither one was able to win election on his own.
The only lieutenant governor in our history to be elected to higher office was Joe Montoya, who won a special election upon the death of U.S. Rep. Antonio Fernandez. Montoya was elected to three more terms as a U.S. representative and three terms as a U.S. senator.
Democrat lawyers looking at the attorney general post are Rep. Al Park of Albuquerque, Geno Zamora of Santa Fe, Lemuel Martinez of Grants and Eric Sedillo Jeffries of Albuquerque.
Park jumped into the race first, assembled a staff and is campaigning hard. Geno Zamora served as chief counsel to Gov. Bill Richardson. In that post, he provided legal and policy advice to the governor and his staff and served as liaison to the Attorney General's Office and the Administrative Office of the Courts. He now is with the Arizona-based firm of Gallagher and Kennedy, which has an office in Santa Fe.
Lemeul Martinez is district attorney for the 13th Judicial District, which covers Cibola, Sandoval and Valencia counties. Eric Sedillo Jefferies has worked as a prosecutor for Taos and Bernalillo counties and as an assistant state attorney general. He is a partner in the firm of Jeffries, Rugge and Rosales.
Other Democrats have expressed interest the AG race and some are likely to jump in by October when petitions for office become available.
Democrats who have expressed an interest include former state Rep. Gary King, who has races for governor and Congress under his belt. Although unsuccessful in those endeavors, King has built up many contacts throughout the state.
Rep. Joseph Cervantes, a Las Cruces Democrat is often mentioned as is state Democratic Party Executive Director John Wertheim.
On the Republican side, many names are mentioned but only one, Bob Schwartz, has admitted he is interested. The former Bernalillo County district attorney is crime adviser to Gov. Bill Richardson, which won't help him in a Republican primary.
Schwartz counters that crime is bipartisan. "You get very few people who ask about your voter registration before they mug you," he says.
As you might guess, Schwartz is a part time comedian. He's also a former Democrat and ran for Albuquerque mayor in 2001. He came in second in a race, in which Republicans endorsed another candidate because Schwartz wasn't conservative enough.
Current Attorney General Patricia Madrid can't run for that office again next year. But she has positioned herself to be in good shape for a run at higher office, whatever that might be.
WED, 7-27-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

7-25 Billy the Kid Books

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- We continue with the Jay Miller reading list of books on subjects this column has frequently carried. Today's subject is Billy the Kid.
"The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid" was ghost written for Pat Garrett by Roswell postmaster Ash Upson during the year following the Kid's killing. It likely was intended to improve Garrett's image and political career and maybe make a few bucks.
But it failed on all those counts. Printed and distributed by the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, the book never took off. Many years later, the New Mexican reportedly burned the large number of remaining copies, which were cluttering up a storeroom. Today, surviving copies of that original printing sell for very big money.
Although the book was not successful, it was considered as more authentic than the dime novels that began appearing around the nation immediately after Billy's death. Consequently, Garrett's "authentic" accounts of Billy were used by authors and screen writers as the gospel truth for many years.
The book has been reissued often since with introductions and annotations by later Billy historians. The newest and best has annotations by Fredrick Nolan, the leading authority on the Lincoln County War. You'll enjoy reading Billy stories you always thought were true and then learning the facts from Nolan.
"The Saga of Billy the Kid," written by Walter Noble Burns in 1926, brought Billy into world prominence. Many participants in the Lincoln County War were still living at the time and Burns made the first serious efforts to interview them.
But that's not to say Burns got it all correct. He romanticized Billy, making him into a Western Robin Hood hero. And it was picked up by Hollywood, which made over 50 films about Billy. That's more than any other historical figure.
Someone had to straighten all this out. And two leading Southwest historians did. Robert Utley, formerly of Santa Fe, wrote "Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life" in 1989, finally separating fact from fiction. He destroyed the myths of Billy, the bloodthirsty gunman and Billy, the Western Robin Hood with a scholarly and well-researched book that portrays Billy as, above all, a superb gunman with an arresting personality.
He was, of course, many other things too, and Utley does an engaging job of getting into Billy's mind to explain some of his actions.
In 1998, Fredrick Nolan dipped into his storehouse of Lincoln County War knowledge and came out with "The West of Billy the Kid," presenting an evenhanded account of known facts about Billy, leaving conjecture to the reader.
Nolan's book is replete with pictures on almost every page, most of them from the collection of Robert McCubbin of Santa Fe.
I've probably already told you that I'll be adding to the Billy lore with a book covering the more than 30 columns I wrote during the past two years of efforts to dig up Billy and his mother. It is a chapter in Billy's history that has not been recorded by anyone else.
The book, "Billy the Kid Rides Again: Digging For the Truth," is awaiting pictures from Joe Micalizzi of Hollywood, the only person to record the saga of the past two years on camera. Bob Boze Bell, of Cave Creek, Arizona has graciously agreed to provide the art for the cover of the book.
This chapter in Billy's story is not over. Reports from Prescott, Arizona indicate John Miller, who has been reputed to be Billy, has been exhumed and is awaiting DNA testing at a laboratory somewhere.
And people in Silver City are becoming nervous that further legal proceedings may now be pending there because the judge in that exhumation hearing 18 months ago left the door open a crack in case any other DNA was found.
So stay tuned to this column. We'll keep our ear to the ground, listening for Billy to come riding this way again.
MON, 7-25-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Saturday, July 16, 2005

7-22 WWII Books

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Thousands of books have been written about World War II. In my continuing series on New Mexicans in the Pacific Theater of that war, I have concentrated on recent books and books by and about New Mexicans.
A brand new book fits both categories. It is recent and it's by New Mexicans about New Mexicans. "Silent Voices of World War II" was written by Nancy Bartlit of Los Alamos and former University of New Mexico professor Everett Rogers, who is now deceased.
The subtitle of the book is: When Sons of the Land of Enchantment Met Sons of the Land of the Rising Sun.. Bartlit has a special relationship with both cultures. She taught in Japan for two years, tutored Japanese in Los Alamos and returned to Japan to study technology and industry.
Silent Voices covers four major aspects of the Pacific War in which New Mexico was involved: Bataan, Navajo code talkers, the Japanese internment camps at Santa Fe and Lordsburg, and development of the atomic bombs at Los Alamos.
The authors pulled together these seemingly separate events in some interesting relationships that will be the subject of a future column.
"Ghost Soldiers," by Hampton Sides of Santa Fe has been critically acclaimed nationwide. It is the story of a daring rescue of the Bataan prisoners who were too ill to be moved from the Cabanatuan prison camp, when the other prisoners were taken to Japan.
Quite a few New Mexicans were included among the prisoners rescued before they were to be killed as American troops retook the Philippines.
"Flags of Our Fathers" by James Bradley is the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima and what happened to them afterward. It was written by the son of one of the survivors.
"Flyboys" is Bradley's second book. It recounts the previously untold story of nine Navy pilots shot down over the island of Chichi Jima, near Okinawa. Eight pilots were captured by the Japanese. Their treatment and deaths were so gruesome that families were never told of the circumstances. Military files remained closed for nearly 60 years.
One pilot chose to swim away from the island, rather than toward it. He was picked up by a submarine in the area and survived to become the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush.
"Beyond Courage," by Dorothy Cave of Roswell, tells the story of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment of the New Mexico National Guard and its courageous battle against overwhelming odds in the Philippines. That was followed by the Bataan Death March, inhuman prison camp treatment, the hell ships to Japan and eventual liberation.
Many of the columns in this series on New Mexicans in the Pacific Theater of World War II were taken primarily from this book.
"It tolled For New Mexico," by Eva Jane Matson, of Las Cruces, tells of the fate of New Mexicans captured by the Japanese during World War II. It lists New Mexicans in the Pacific, their units, their prison camps, their hell ships, and whether they were liberated or died. It also contains much interesting narrative and a description of war memorials in the state.
"Brave Men," by Ernie Pyle of Albuquerque, was written before he left the European Theater to go to the Pacific, where he died on the island of Ie Shima, just off Okinawa. But it deserves to be in any list of World War II books.
Ernie was out there in the middle of the action throughout the war. He knew how soldiers feel. This book is the closest you can get to knowing what it was like -- in Europe or the Pacific. And he interviewed many New Mexicans.
"Fire on the Mountain," by Edward Abbey, is a novel based on the fight of rancher John Prather to keep his property when the government decided to confiscate New Mexico ranch land for the White Sands Missile Range. It's a good depiction of what all White Sands ranchers faced.
FRI, 7-22-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Thursday, July 14, 2005

7-20 Reading List

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Recently we talked about the non-existent Jay Miller Book Club and what books would be a part of it if there were such a thing.
After due consideration, I, hereby, am creating the Jay Miller Reading List. It's not required reading, but it would be nice if you could get through them this summer before school starts.
In the first installment, we covered "Marc Simmons' New Mexico: An Interpretive History," Calvin Horn's "New Mexico's Troubled Years" and Bruce King's "Cowboy in the Roundhouse." In this edition, we continue with New Mexico history, written mostly by New Mexico authors.
Paul Horgan, of Roswell, won the Pulitzer Prize for "Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History." The two-volume set is a masterpiece of American historical writing and is still available over 50 years after its original printing. "The Centuries of Santa Fe" also is a magnificent work, tracing the city from its beginning to the mid 1900s. Horgan also wrote novels and short stories, capturing the flavor and spirit of New Mexico.
Santa Fean Ruth Laughlin's "The Wind Leaves No Shadow" gives us a taste of the 25-year Mexican period of our history, with the tremendous changes brought by the Santa Fe Trail. The story of the gambling hall queen Dona Tules Barcelo has been so popular, it has been through nine printings since 1951.
"Death Comes for the Archbishop" is Willa Cather's great novel of New Mexico, set in the middle of the 19th century. It is based on the lives of Bishop Jean Baptiste L'Amy and his vicar Father Joseph Machebeut. Its 43 printings are an indication of its importance in chronicling New Mexico's past. Horgan also wrote an historical account called "Lamy of Santa Fe."
Taoseno John Nichols' "Milagro Beanfield War" is a New Mexico classic that has been made into a movie. With great humor and sensitive human awareness, Nichols describes life in northern New Mexico that should be required reading for any newcomer to the area. "The Magic Journey" and "The Nirvana Blues" make up the remainder of his New Mexico trilogy and also are well worth reading.
Santa Fean Richard Bradford's coming-of-age novel "Red Sky at Morning" also made it into the movies and should be required reading for anyone moving to Santa Fe. Set in the 1940s, it is largely biographical and hilariously captures the essence of Santa Fe.
New Mexico legend Tony Hillerman keeps turning them out. And every one is just as good as the last. Besides getting to enjoy classic murder mysteries, that go light on gore and chase scenes, we also are treated to lessons in Indian history.
I like Hillerman's books because they involve issues important to Indians, about which the general public should be much more aware. Sometimes they don't have anything to do with the plot, but the reader doesn't know it at the time. And Hillerman sneaks in his message anyway.
Another prolific New Mexico mystery writer is Michael McGarrity. Like Hillerman, he waited until retirement to get started and has been making up for it ever since. McGarrity's books cover all of his beloved state and demonstrate a keen knowledge of law enforcement, where he spent much of his career.
You don't want to miss Albuquerquean Max Evans' book "Madam Millie," about the most successful madam in the business. She had bordellos throughout southwest New Mexico and as far north as Alaska, but called Silver City home. She rubbed elbows with the state's most prominent New Mexicans and survived in the business from the '20s until the '70s. Evans spent 20 years with Millie and a tape recorder getting the story.
And finally, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's book "Lazy B," which I mentioned upon her retirement, tells of ranch life in southwest New Mexico. During her college days as a law clerk in Lordsburg, her path even crossed Silver City Millie's.
WED, 7-20-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

7-18 Trinity 2

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- As the date for the first atomic bomb test drew near, Los Alamos scientists, engineers and technicians grew increasingly tense.
Would two years of work and $2 billion dollars be a waste? Would the bomb ignite the earth's atmosphere and destroy the planet? If successful, how would this terrifying invention be used?
Project director, Gen. Leslie Groves had been in charge of building the Pentagon. With that project successfully completed, he wanted a battlefield assignment at the beginning of the war. But instead, the War Department wanted him to take on another project.
Working with the world's greatest scientists had been a complete frustration. They certainly didn't think like generals. They wanted to share ideas with their colleagues. That was no good for security, but Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director, convinced him that was the only road to success.
If this test didn't work, it would be Oppenheimer's fault. Oppenheimer knew it, and dropped to 115 pounds. The day before the blast was scheduled, a test of the trigger mechanism back in Los Alamos failed.
That was George Kistiakowsky's responsibility. Kistiakowsky insisted the test was flawed and that the bomb would work. The weight of the project's success shifted to his back. Because of Oppenheimer's anxiety, relations grew acrimonious.
Finally Kistiakowsky said, "Look Oppie, I bet you a month's salary of mine against $10 that it's going to work." Oppenheimer accepted the bet. He lost.
A tremendous flash of white light changed to yellow, then to orange. Finally, a huge ball of orange began to rise. A few minutes later, nearby observers heard a tremendous bang, followed by a solid, continuous rumble. The force of that rumble convinced any doubters that the test had really worked.
As a seven-year-old, living in Deming, I saw the flash of light. My bedroom faced northeast and I was a notoriously light sleeper. But evidently I was back asleep by the time the rumble arrived fifteen minutes later.
Neighbors and townspeople talked about the rumble the rest of the day. Some said it sounded like a tornado. Others likened it to a freight train. I didn't even associate it with the light that had awakened me.
My father always arose early, read the morning paper, and announced the news to when he got the family up. The next morning, he announced that the big rumble was a powder house, as we called them in those days, that blew up near Alamogordo.
A month later, he excitedly awoke us saying, "You know what that big rumble that woke everyone up really was? It was one of those bombs just like they dropped on Japan."
And so it was. The military revealed its cover up more quickly than usual. New Mexicans I knew were proud that our state had contributed to the war effort.
President Truman faced the Potsdam Conference with a renewed confidence. Winston Churchill, of course, knew of the bomb because the British "tube alloys project" worked alongside the Manhattan project. One evening Truman confided to Josef Stalin that we had a really big bomb. He was puzzled when Stalin didn't express surprise.
Gen. Groves' fear was realized. The collaboration that produced the bombs so quickly also allowed information to leak to the Soviet Union. Most of that information passed between Klaus Fuchs and Harry Gold on the Castillo Street Bridge in Santa Fe.
Castillo Street was one of several streets replaced by the development of the Paseo de Peralta loop around Santa Fe's downtown. But that hasn't hampered the development of local legend.
A block to the east, on Delgado Street, is a very similar bridge over the Santa Fe River. The most prevalent local story is that the secrets were passed under the Delgado Street Bridge.
So the Russians had a blueprint for building a bomb. Unfortunately for them, it was the complicated bomb, because that was the one that took up most of the discussion time at the collaborative meetings.
MON, 7-18-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Sunday, July 10, 2005

7-15 Trinity #1

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- According to an inscription at the Atomic Bomb Museum in Nagasaki, The United States dropped a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki to see if it worked.
Wrong. The United States had exploded a plutonium bomb over New Mexico three weeks earlier to see if it worked. It did. So on July 16 we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the world's first atomic explosion -- right here in New Mexico.
The development of that bomb had begun an amazingly short two years earlier on a hill northwest of Santa Fe. Actually, it is a mesa, but folks in these parts have always fondly referred to Los Alamos as The Hill.
Nuclear fission had been discovered by two German scientists in December 1938. Four months later, Germany occupied Czechoslovakia and halted her uranium exports. In those days, uranium was used as a pottery glaze and to make watches glow in the dark.
It was obvious to a small group of top European scientists what this meant. Fortunately a few Americans were in that network also. These included the renowned Albert Einstein, who had taught in Germany and Robert Oppenheimer, who had studied there.
On July 16, 1939, a group of Jewish refuges, who had fled Hitler's persecution, visited Einstein at Princeton University, requesting he write a letter to President Roosevelt about the possibility of a German atomic bomb.
Roosevelt established a President's Advisory Committee on Uranium, which promptly sat on the matter for two years. Eventually, a new director, Vannevar Bush, heeded intelligence reports that the Germans indeed were working on an atomic bomb.
Bush kick-started the Manhattan Project, placing it under the Army Corps of Engineers. In the fall of 1942, Gen. Leslie Groves was appointed director of the project. Groves chose Oppenheimer as the scientific director and Los Alamos was selected as the laboratory site.
On December 2, 1942, the breakthrough needed to begin development of a bomb occurred at the University of Chicago when Enrico Fermi produced the world's first self-sustaining nuclear reaction. Fermi had fled fascist Italy, fearing persecution of his Jewish wife.
In March 1943, Oppenheimer and a few scientists arrived in Los Alamos to begin the race to beat Hitler's development of an atomic bomb.
Recruiting the world's top scientists from their comfortable university positions to come to a deserted mesa and work on a vaguely described project, under primitive conditions, for an undetermined period was not easy. But Oppenheimer was in the network of the world's top scientists. That, and his personal charisma, did the trick.
Work on the bomb began in earnest. In 1941, Glenn Seaborg discovered that plutonium also could be used as a fissionable material. Lab scientists decided they would work on both a uranium and plutonium bomb just in case either project hit a dead end.
The uranium bomb was a comparatively simple device that scientists were confident would work. The plutonium bomb was sufficiently complicated that scientists decided it had to be tested first. Trinity Site, on the Alamogordo Bombing Range, hear Carrizozo, was selected for its remoteness and land features.
By July 1945, Germany had surrendered, but the land invasion of Japan was scheduled for October. Preparations already were in full swing and the prospect was not pretty. One million U.S. and Allied casualties were expected. If the bombs could be dropped by early August, Japan might be convinced to surrender and an invasion would be averted.
That meant the test had to be in July. The race was on. A base camp and control bunker had to be constructed and thousands of miles of wire strung to measure the blast's effect. The original date of July 4 had to be moved back to July 16. President Truman delayed his arrival at the Potsdam conference until July 15.
Next: The blast and what followed.
FRI, 7-15-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Saturday, July 09, 2005

7-13 Reading List #1

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- A recent column's passing comment about the Jay Miller Book Club brought some inquiries about why no one has ever heard of it. The answer is that I only mentioned it that one time, and that was in jest.
Although there isn't such a club, there could be. I try to read a book a day when I am on business trips or vacations, both of which are becoming more frequent these days.
But too many other irons are already in the fire. Sunstone Press, in Santa Fe, has graciously consented to do a series of books using my columns on several different subjects.
The first book will be about the Billy the Kid exhumation controversy of the past two years. The next will be on New Mexicans in the Pacific Theater of World War II. And the third is scheduled to be about New Mexico being the birthplace of rocket science and still on the cutting edge.
As I recall, just about all the books I have recommended during the past 18 years are non-fiction, since that is about all I read. My wife gets after me for seldom relaxing and reading a fun book.
But to me, non-fiction is fun because it informs me about subjects in which I am intensely interested. And besides, I find a great deal of fiction in some of my non-fiction readings.
In the next few columns, I'll cover some of the books I have recommended over the years. Most relate to New Mexico or New Mexico politics in one way or another and many are by New Mexico authors. Some can be found in bookstores, but others will require a library or used books from the Internet, one of my favorite sources.
For an outstanding summary of our state's history and an understanding of its character, read "Marc Simmons New Mexico: An Interpretive History." Simmons is a great Southwest historian and the best I've read at presenting complex subjects in a very easy-to-read style. And he can point you to further reading.
"New Mexico's Troubled Years," by Calvin Horn, tells of our state's first 10 territorial governors. From James Calhoun in 1851 to Lew Wallace, in 1881, the book gives a picture of life during New Mexico's first 30 tumultuous years as a territory.
Horn made his money in oil, but his compelling interest was in New Mexico history and politics. He served in the state House and Senate for 10 years and rose to speaker of the House. But he always wanted to be governor. But the time was never quite right.
This book was the closest Horn came to the governor's office. He put a lot into it. Through his political connections, he persuaded then-President John F. Kennedy to write the foreword. Then-Gov. Jack Campbell wrote a tribute for the dust jacket.
Horn also formed a publishing company to reprint out-of-print books about New Mexico and its history. Wouldn't it be great if someone would do that again?
"Cowboy in the Roundhouse" covers the last 50 years of New Mexico politics from the perspective of former Gov. Bruce King, the longest-serving chief executive in the state's 400-year history. It is a fascinating view into New Mexico political life with keen insights into how government works.
Another treasure chest of New Mexico politics is former Sen. Louise Coe's lively and passionate look at the trials and triumphs of women wanting to get into the game during the 1920s, '30s and '40s.
"Lady and the Law Books ," takes us through her political career, beginning with election as a county school superintendent and continuing through 16 years as a state senator.
Her final four years in the Senate were as president pro tem, a position it is difficult for New Mexicans to imagine could be held by a woman today. But Coe did it almost 70 years ago.
WED, 7-13-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


7-13 Jay Miller Reading List #1


Friday, July 08, 2005

7-11 WSMR

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- White Sands Missile Range is celebrating a World War II-related 60th anniversary this year also.
On July 9, 1945, the Army opened what was then White Sands Proving Grounds. Since then the name has been changed to White Sands Missile Range.
But before that, its name was Alamogordo Bombing Range. And if you ask former White Sands ranchers, they will tell you that 1942 was the beginning of the missile range. That was when they were chased off their land and told that the inconvenience was only temporary until the war ended.
In 1945, the ranchers were told the Army had found another use for the ranches and their temporary displacement would continue. Finally, in 1975, they were told the displacement would be permanent.
They received a token compensation and have been fighting ever since for a fair amount. Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman have introduced corrective legislation in Congress. And still there has been no relief.
Anyway, happy birthday WSMR, whether it is for your birth as a bombing range or your reincarnation as a missile range three years later. The change in American thinking during those three years is amazing.
In 1942, rocketry was considered science fiction. The Army knew it would never work for military purposes even though a guy just down the road in Roswell had been telling them since 1930 that they were missing a bet.
The Army ignored Dr. Robert Goddard and his rocket experiments in Roswell. It would not give him a nickel for research even though great minds such as Charles Lindbergh lobbied hard.
A decade earlier, the Army had court-martialed Gen. Billy Mitchell for getting too excited about promoting the airplane as a military weapon. Army geniuses knew planes wouldn't work either.
But between 1942 and 1945, Hitler taught us a bitter lesson, terrorizing England with V-2 rockets. So by 1945, we were great believers.
After World War II, we brought Germany's brilliant rocket scientists over here to teach us what Dr. Goddard had been working on since before World War I. Imagine what could have happened had we taken advantage of that head start.
Beginning in 1946, I spent summers in Las Cruces with my four grandparents. I remember sitting on my grandmother Miller's front porch with her, watching Werner von Braun's V-2 rockets appear from behind the Organ mountains, east of Las Cruces, headed straight up and then nosing over in a frenetic arc to the north.
My grandmother would check the Las Cruces Sun-News every morning to see the rocket testing schedule. Since those days, WSMR has spread the word widely about its firing schedule and when US 70 will be closed.
WSMR now has a dial-up announcement of road closing times that many hotels and motels in the area put on their telephone systems to warn travelers of unexpected road closures.
The White Sands Missile Range has come a long way since those early days. The 3,200 square-mile range has been the site of more than 43,000 missile firings.
WSMR now includes bombing ranges, the third-largest solar furnace in the nation, a High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility that tests the effects of a nuclear blast, a space harbor where the space shuttle Columbia landed in 1982, and a simulated third-world village where special forces train.
White Sands remains on the cutting edge of rocket science and has a bright future ahead. The Pentagon's base realignment and closure process recommended last month that one unit be transferred out of New Mexico. That will eliminate 180 jobs, but with employment of around 6,200 workers, the base remains a major factor in southern New Mexico's economy and our nation's defense.
MON, 7-11-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



I'be been having trouble with my server all day.



Sunday, July 03, 2005


Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor came about as close to being a New Mexican as one can get. She grew up on the Lazy B Ranch northwest of Lordsburg that straddled the border. She missed being a New Mexican by only a mile.
That's how far the ranch headquarters was from the New Mexico-Arizona state line. It could be reached only from US Highway 70 in New Mexico. The closest town was Lordsburg, 30 miles to the southeast, where the Days got their mail, caught the train and did their banking and shopping.
O'Connor doesn't say why her father or grandfather decided to be Arizonans instead of New Mexicans. The ranch headquarters was moved a couple of times but the locations were always in Arizona. Maybe that's where the best spots were or where wells already were.
The Albuquerque Journal, in an article about O'Connor's surprise retirement, made a rather egregious error, stating that the ranch house was in New Mexico even though most of the ranch was in Arizona. That would have made her a New Mexican regardless of how much of the ranch was in either state.
In her 2002 book, Lazy B, O'Connor shows us a map of the ranch indicating about equal amounts of land in both states. The Days owned 8,500 acres. They leased 30,000 acres from the state of Arizona and 22,000 acres from New Mexico. The remaining 100,000 acres was federal land. At over 250 sections, it was the biggest ranch in the area.
Sandra went to school in El Paso, where she stayed with her mother's parents. El Paso is the big city for all of southwestern New Mexico and part of Arizona. That, and Sandra's grandparents living there, were why Sandra was born in El Paso instead of Lordsburg.
I can definitely state that Lordsburg had a hospital at the time because I was born in it a few years later. My father was superintendent of schools so I'm sure Lordsburg had a fine school system. But the Days felt Sandra would get a better education in the big city.
In fourth grade, Sandra transferred from the public schools to Radford School for Girls in El Paso. She went there until the eighth grade when she convinced her parents to let her go to school in Lordsburg. She stayed through the year, but having to leave home before dark and arriving back after dark, as many ranch children still do, was too much. She couldn't participate in after-school activities and so could make few friends. She returned to El Paso the next year and enrolled in Austin High School.
Sandra graduated at 16 and went to Stanford, then to law school.. During the summers she worked for Forrest Sanders in Lordsburg. Those who have read the Jay Miller Book Club recommendation "Madam Millie" may remember that Sanders was the lawyer who kept Mildred Clark's houses of prostitution out of trouble.
After law school, she married John O'Connor, a classmate. They moved to Phoenix where she was active in politics and became a judge. Her mentor was neighbor Barry Goldwater, to whose conservative, but not radical, principles she always remained true.
Her retirement was a surprise to Washington, to Phoenix and reportedly even to her family. But my sources indicate that two weeks earlier, the U.S. Marshals Service was asking security questions around Phoenix concerning a retiring federal judge who would be moving to town. Someone knew.
O'Connor's "Lazy B" book is delightful, written in a light-hearted, fun-to-read style that makes it obvious why she is considered the most down-to-earth of the justices. Best of all, you'll learn something about the southwestern New Mexico values that shaped O'Connor into a person whom those in the know call one of the most influential justices in American history.
FRI, 7-8-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Saturday, July 02, 2005

7-6 China

Syndicated Columnist
BEIJING -- Our trip through World War II battlefields of the Pacific ended in China -- a major site of World War II action that has been nearly lost in history.
History books in our nation's schools ignore Japan's march through China in the 1930s. World War II for the majority of Americans began with Pearl Harbor in 1941, ignoring Japan's actions of previous years. Japanese aggression against China began in 1874. By 1937, it was a full-blown war.
Resource-poor Japan marched all the way through China down to the East Indies to grab the area's oil, rubber and other resources needed to achieve its goal of conquering the world.
China remembers that well. The government recently orchestrated "spontaneous" demonstrations in Tiananmen Square protesting Japan's continued failure, in the most recent edition of school textbooks, to acknowledge its past actions.
What China doesn't remember is that the United States was its ally in that war. We came to China's aid, beginning in the spring of 1942. We flew supplies over "the Hump" from India. We built supply roads from India and provided offensive air support from Gen. Claire Chennault's American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers."
Chinese tour guides, who work for the government just like everyone else, have a standardized routine, tracing the many imperial dynasties up to the beginning of the 20th century. And we were told of the many advances since Chairman Mao took over in 1949. But the first half of the 20th century is lost in their spiels. And they seemed to have language problems when questioned about it.
The tour guides don't tell of our assistance during the war or of Japan's atrocities. It is understandable not to want to talk about defeats, but our tour guides on a riverboat cruise up the Danube and down the Main and Rhine in Germany, did just that two years ago.
The guides pointed out the sites of famous battles, such as the Bridge at Remagen, and were very candid about answering the question in most American minds about how German citizens could have allowed Hitler's rise.
We saw no battle sites around Beijing, even though the Marco Polo Bridge, just west of town and not far from the Summer Palace and Great Wall, is accepted as the site of the official beginning of the war with Japan, on July 7, 1937.
Obviously two days touring in Beijing is not sufficient to understand the largest country and oldest existing major civilization in the world. But it is enough time to form some impressions.
Beijing is the capital of China and the location of the 2008 summer Olympics. Unlike Athens, the site of the 2004 Olympics, there will be no worry about whether the stadium gets finished on time. The stadium and roads leading to it are being completed at breakneck speed.
Everywhere we went, huge trucks, piled high with cement sacks sped past us. I am told that the worldwide price of cement has been forced up by China's purchases.
But there are other considerations. Slum housing lines the roads. It is unfinished concrete that is blackened as if it is burned out or bombed out. But there are people living there. It isn't good for the country's image and I can't imagine it being cleaned up in time.
Then there are the beggars. They're not like ours in the United States. They are aggressive. They grab you and shout "give me dollars." Government stores won't accept American money, but beggars seem to prefer it.
And then there is the pollution. The air is a dirty brown. With the heat, humidity, and overcast weather, it feels like swimming in muddy water. We flew back to Los Angeles, where the smog looked like crystal clear skies.
The asthmatics in our group had trouble. Can you imagine a marathoner trying to reach the finish line in that filthy air?
WED, 7-6-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Friday, July 01, 2005

7-4 column

Syndicated Columnist

NAGASAKI -- Decision time had come. Do we invade the main islands of Japan or do we drop atomic bombs? There were strong feelings on both sides.
But most of our political and military leaders came down on the side of the bomb. America was heavily committed to the Manhattan Project. It had cost $2 billion and had been run on a breakneck, two- year schedule to be ready prior to the Japanese invasion.
We'd done it. The bombs were ready. As Robert Oppenheimer, the project's scientific director, put it "The decision (to use the bombs) was implicit in the project."
Japan also helped make our decision by assuring that an invasion would be overwhelmingly costly in terms of American casualties. Iwo Jima and Okinawa had been nightmares. Based on projections from those two battles, it was estimated that we would suffer a million casualties in the two years it would take to finish the job.
It didn't matter that Japan was already beaten. We had cut off her fuel and food supplies. We had wiped out her Navy. All that was left of her once-proud air power were the kamikaze planes.
The kamikazes, however, couldn't win the war, but they could inflict heavy enemy losses. Estimates put kamikaze planes and pilots at 10,000. In addition, Japan had developed a manned bomb, with a rocket engine and a pilot. And thousands of kamikaze motor boats had been armed with explosives to further harass the enemy.
The Japanese again would fight from tunnels, as they had so successfully at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. And civilians would be used. Japan lived by the samurai code that would not allow surrender. They believed that their bushido fighting spirit could triumph over any odds.
The odds were staggering. U.S. and Allied incendiary bombs flattened cities, killing 100,000 in a night and leaving a million homeless. We'd already obliterated 65 Japanese cities.
Part of our million casualties from an invasion were an estimated 100,000 U.S. prisoners of war we knew the Japanese would kill before we could get to them. They had done it elsewhere and they'd already begun forcing American POW's in Japan to prepare the means for their mass exterminations.
Some 900 surviving members of the New Mexico National Guard would have been among the 100,000 killed.
The invasion was scheduled for October. By August, U.S. troops already were headed for Japan. Among them was a young recruit named Bruce King, who later would become New Mexico's longest-serving governor. King admits to the relief he felt when he learned he would be on our occupational force instead.
Something else was needed to jolt Japan's military leaders to their senses. Even though the atomic bombs would kill fewer than our nightly saturation bombings, the realization that we had perfected a super-weapon might work. One bomb still didn't produce an unconditional surrender, so three days after Hiroshima, a second bomb was dropped.
The United States had a list of possible targets for the two atomic bombs. Those target cities were spared the incendiary bombing that other major Japanese cities received. Hiroshima made its way to the top of the list. Kyoto was removed because it was Japan's major religious and cultural center.
Nagasaki wasn't the primary target for the second bomb, but weather and other factors made it the alternate target. My feeling, upon sailing into Nagasaki harbor was that maybe it should have been removed from the list too.
I've never seen a more beautiful city. San Francisco comes the closest. Nagasaki is even more hilly. For 200 years, it also was the only port that the Japanese would allow visitors to enter, making it Japan's most European city.
But Nagasaki also was Japan's major shipbuilding center and was home to the Mitsubishi munitions complex, which was the epicenter of the bomb. Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, was the type bomb that was first tested at Trinity site in New Mexico.
MON, 7-4-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)

I'm back. Sorry this is so late. Beijing's five star hotel was not computer friendly. Part of China's crackdown on Internet usage.