Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rick Monday, Thirty Years Ago

One of baseball history's memorable moments is commemorated in this piece in the Washington Post:

LOS ANGELES -- Rick Monday never tires of answering questions about that memorable day 30 years ago, when he performed his own Patriot Act and unwittingly became an icon to millions of American war heroes and their loved ones.

Monday was playing center field for the Chicago Cubs on April 25, 1976, at Dodger Stadium when he noticed two protesters kneeling on the grass in left-center, intending to burn the American flag. He immediately bolted toward them and snatched it away.

"I was angry when I saw them start to do something to the flag, and I'm glad that I happened to be geographically close enough to do something about it," said Monday, now in his 13th season as a Dodgers broadcaster.

"What those people were doing, and their concept of what they were trying to do was wrong. That feeling was very strongly reinforced by six years in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. I still think it's wrong to do that."

The Dodgers will acknowledge the event before the finale of a nine-game homestand on Sunday, two days before the actual anniversary of it. A video tribute will be shown before the game and Monday will throw out a ceremonial first pitch. On Tuesday, the Houston Astros will honor him as well when the Dodgers play the middle game of a three-game series.

Back in '76, Monday was presented with the flag in a ceremony at Wrigley Field by Dodgers executive Al Campanis. It hung in his home in Vero Beach, Fla., until a couple of years ago, when the house sustained severe damage from a hurricane. Now it's in a safety deposit box.

Monday wouldn't say how much the flag is insured for, but "you'd have to add a lot of zeros. People have offered an outrageous amount of money for it _ not that it's for sale."

The Baseball Hall of Fame recently named Monday's quick-thinking act as one of the 100 Classic Moments in the history of the game.

"Whatever their protest was about, what they were attempting to do to the flag _ which represents a lot of rights and freedoms that we all have _ was wrong for a lot of reasons," Monday said. "Not only does it desecrate the flag, but it also desecrates the effort and the lives that have been laid down to protect those rights and freedoms for all of us."

There's more from the Washington Post story at the link. There's also more background and photos here as well as an audio of play by play announcer Vin Scully's apposite description of the event and of the characters who intended to burn the flag.

Maybe EMP Isn't a Threat After All

In the past we've posted on the potential threat posed to our nation by the detonation of a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere. Such a blast, we noted, could release a pulse of gamma radiation that would effectively knock out all of our electronics across the entire continent with devastating consequences to every sector of society. It would effectively bring our nation to its knees.

Now J.R. Dunn in The American Thinker gives us reason not to lose too much sleep over the prospect. After summarizing how EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapons would work he discusses why they are probably not the immediate danger that some analysts feared:

Yet all the same, it's unlikely that EMP represents a major terrorist-related threat to the United States, or will at any time over the next decade. EMP is a national weapon, a weapon that can be used only in cases of total war - and also, at the moment, a weapon effectively beyond the reach of anyone outside the major members of the nuclear club.

Technical requirements for an EMP attack are extremely steep. To achieve continent-wide coverage, a warhead needs to be lofted to an altitude of over 200 miles at a point directly over Kansas, a distance of 1500 miles from the East Coast. This would require a booster of the Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) class, which is one step above the Shahab series. The latest model, the Shahab 4, with a range of 1200 miles, is almost capable of such a mission, but without a full 2,000 lb. warhead.

Another complication is that high-altitude EMP requires a weapon in the megaton range. (Cold War scenarios utilized a top-of-the-line 20-megaton bomb.) These are thermonuclear weapons, hydrogen bombs, which terrorists and associated states do not yet have. It requires an extremely advanced industrial plant to construct such a weapon. The U.S. can do it, as can the Russians and Chinese. The Iranians cannot. Their first nuclear weapons, if they're allowed to build them, will be simple fission weapons of a relatively low yield.

EMP can be achieved by fission weapons at a much lower altitude. (The effect begins to pay off at roughly 19 miles.) Such an attack would be far less destructive than a high-altitude strike, with effects limited to a radius of 250-300 miles. To achieve useful results, something on the order of a dozen launches would have to be made, on both east and west coasts along with the Gulf of Mexico. This is an extremely complex operation in which each part has to operate with clockwork precision. And even at best, some areas would be left untouched.

In fact, the universal collapse envisioned as a result of a high-altitude EMP strike may be impossible in any case. The situation has never been tested....Much of what we think we know about EMP lies in the realm of theory, with little in the way of hard evidence.

Some scientists believe that the effect has been overrated. These include electromagnetic specialist Dr. William A. Radasky, who thinks that disruptions would be minor and temporary. The pulse could very well be attenuated by distance and other factors, some of which may be completely unknown to us at this time. Mountain ranges such as the Rockies and the Sierra Nevadas could provide considerable protection, along with various deep valleys around the country.

And in any case, the collapse would be well short of "universal". Even if everything went according to plan, Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam, Gitmo, and all the fleets and overseas bases would still be intact. In the worst case, the U.S. would remain a reigning military power. And with only a handful of suspects, it would not be long until the troops paid a visit to the guilty party.

Dunn finishes his essay with a plea for ballistic missile defense, just in case. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it, we say.

Iraq's Progress

Bill Crawford's seventh installment of Good News From Iraq is up at NRO. It's a good antidote to the doom and gloom dispensed by the anti-Bush Old Media.