Wednesday, October 7, 2009


According to the New York Times President and Mrs. Obama actually have this painting hanging in the White House:

The painting is all about indecisiveness. If people select pets that look like themselves and which reflect their own personalities I wonder if the same is true of the paintings they choose for their homes and offices.

At any rate, this work seems a fitting adornment for the home of the man who voted "present" 130 times during his three terms in the Illinois state senate.


Uh Oh

ABC News reports that the U.S, is spending a lot of money on a weapons delivery system that would be useful only in places like Iran and North Korea. Not only is it spending $88 million on the weapons and the necessary alterations to the platforms which would deliver them, but the spending request was labeled "urgent." Here's the ABC report:

Is the U.S. stepping up preparations for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities?

The Pentagon is always making plans, but based on a little-noticed funding request recently sent to Congress, the answer to that question appears to be yes.

First, some background: Back in October 2007, ABC News reported that the Pentagon had asked Congress for $88 million in the emergency Iraq/Afghanistan war funding request to develop a gargantuan bunker-busting bomb called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP). It's a 30,000-pound bomb designed to hit targets buried 200 feet below ground. Back then, the Pentagon cited an "urgent operational need" for the new weapon.

Now the Pentagon is shifting spending from other programs to fast forward the development and procurement of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. The Pentagon comptroller sent a request to shift the funds to the House and Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees over the summer.

The comptroller said the Pentagon planned to spend $19.1 million to procure four of the bombs, $28.3 million to accelerate the bomb's "development and testing", and $21 million to accelerate the integration of the bomb onto B-2 stealth bombers.

Why now? The notification says simply, "The Department has an Urgent Operational Need (UON) for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high threat environments. The MOP is the weapon of choice to meet the requirements of the UON." It further states that the request is endorsed by Pacific Command (which has responsibility over North Korea) and Central Command (which has responsibility over Iran).

The request was quietly approved. On Friday, McDonnell Douglas was awarded a $51.9 million contract to provide "Massive Penetrator Ordnance Integration" on B-2 aircraft.

This is not the kind of weapon that would be particularly useful in Iraq or Afghanistan, but it is ideally suited to hit deeply buried nuclear facilities such as Natanz or Qom in Iran.

That the Obama administration would actually go through with an attack on Iran is a thought that generates its own kind of shock and awe, but I have been arguing for several years that the only thing worse than the calamity that such an attack might bring upon the world would be the calamity that would almost certainly befall us were Iran to aquire nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran would not only be an existential threat to Israel, it's almost a sure thing that terrorists would be supplied with the weapons and seek to smuggle them into the U.S. where they would be detonated in American cities.

An alternative possiblity is that a single nuclear-tipped missile would be launched from an innocent-looking freighter off our coast and detonated high over the nation's midsection. The blast would produce a pulse of electromagnetic energy (EMP) that could theoretically fry every device in the country that uses or produces electricity. We would in an instant be thrust back into the 19th century and the resulting chaos and upheaval would result in the deaths of tens of millions of Americans (You can read more about EMP here and here).

If the MOPs will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, if war is the only way to prevent them from realizing their dream of precipitating Armageddon, then it seems to me that the Obama administration has no other choice.


Two More Quotes

The other day we featured some quotes from several famous and accomplished historical figures. Here are two more sent me by a reader from the pen of Ben Franklin:

"Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments."

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Some things never change. One reason today's "kings and parliaments" levy taxes is to compensate for the anchor imposed on our society by those Franklin might have described as idlers. The second quote is one that should be kept in mind by those who believe that government should take over as much of our lives as possible in order to make us more economically secure.