Where is the nuclear threat?

Posted on February 28th, 2008 in General,Politics,War by Robert Miller

After 9/11 the nation’s most horrific story became that of a terrorist detonating a nuclear device in a large American City. A Harvard Professor has placed a small wager and given odds that such an event is likely to happen within the next decade. Everyone, including our homegrown, homeland security agency has assumed that this threat is likely to materialize from a Russian made weapon, through a rogue weapons buying scheme. More recently, the threat of nuclear theft has been focused on Pakistan where the Taliban are mounting an increasing threat.

But, I have always felt that the most likely source of such a device and explosion will come from a U.S. nuclear storage facility. We still have more than 10,000 nuclear warheads and even more if we want to recycle some that are currently in the hands of the Dept. Energy. If I was a crackerjact terrorist that is where I would be looking. The reason? Look at the competency with which we handle our major wars, Iraq and Vietnam. You could even ask if Gulf I was really done the way it should have been done. But our military is so large and bloated that mistakes can easily fly underneath the radar. Yet, putting all that aside, as we concern ourselves with Pakistan as the likely future of an unstable finger on the nuclear button, consider a recent gaffe of our own that took place last August.

This comes from physicist Gordon Prather, who got this out of a military report. You may have heard about this from other sources, but as far as I know it did not make the mainstream media. From Prather: “According to the DSB Task Force Report, on August 29th, 2007, a pylon – carrying six cruise missiles, each armed with nuclear warhead – was without authorization removed from a nuclear weapons stockpile storage site at Minot AFB, transported without authorization – and mated without authorization – to a B-52 bomber. The nuke laden B-52 then sat, improperly, unguarded overnight, and was then, without authorization, allowed to take off the following morning, make an unauthorized flight to Barksdale AFB, to make an unauthorized landing, and then sit, unguarded, until alert Barkdale personnel discovered the six nukes, just sitting there on their tarmac.” So, if you knew how to fly a plane, a B-52, you might have been able to get yourself 6 nukes for free, land them somewhere and force the entire nation to rent anew the video “Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” That one in case you haven’t seen it is Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 hilarious black comedy in which Peter Sellers plays three different parts including a Nazi convert, Dr. Strangelove.

Not to worry however, because the task force concluded that it was a “paper work problem.” What a relief!

Is the Democratic Primary Over?

Posted on February 22nd, 2008 in Politics by Robert Miller

If you don’t like this year’s political campaigns then no election can possibly get your attention. For me, this is the single most riveting political year in memory. On the Republican side we are watching a party unravel, as they select the inevitable candidate who wouldn’t mind sending more troops to Iraq and stay there for a hundred years according to his own statements: he is a dyed in the wool career military devotee from a line of admirals. McCain has the military gene and thinks of issues in terms of conflict. The Republican Party of today is a party that no longer has an identifiable center. All Republicans are supply-siders, who believe that our economy is regulated solely by our Federal taxation policy. McCain is a little out of touch, as he doesn’t know which side he will be on. Although the choice of the nominee is certain for the Republicans, the great uncertainty is whether the Huckabee crew will rally behind McCain or just stay home. It is clear the Obama’s message of hope through a new coalition is attracting some conservatives and it is equally clear that some evangelicals will stay home from the polls, hopefully forever, unless they begin to vote through a more rational motivation.

Credit Default Swaps: another financial problem looming in our future?

Posted on February 17th, 2008 in Economy by Robert Miller

With the deregulation of federal oversight that began with Jimmy Carter (remember the airline industry), and was greatly accelerated by Reagan and all that followed, Wall Street was free to develop independent “instruments” for which there was no regulatory control or oversight. One of these is an astonishingly large market sector called “credit default swaps” and if you are like me, you never heard of them until recently: I heard about them for the first time today in an article in the New York Times. In the process, I learned, to my astonishment, that this little known sector of the new market economy of America has investment assets that are about twice the size of the assets represented in our own stock markets. This market consists of insurance arrangements for banks and bondholders to compensate them if companies default on their payments. It has been in existence for only about a decade and was seemingly a healthy way to redistribute risk for large loan agencies. Because there is no oversight, there is no information available to understand how healthy or how at risk this system is, given the present sub-prime mortgage disaster. But, it is a worrisome issue, because these credit swaps have been called into service recently due to the sub-prime fiasco but no one knows how healthy or sick some of these companies maybe, especially if they begin to assume a greater share of the debt burden.

Next Page »