Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Hugh Hewitt says you're missing a big story about the debates. No, not the story about Kerry's orange face that the old media were irresponsibly failing to cover until Kerry shocked the right-wing blogsphere by showing up at the debate without an orange face. (Though Hewitt's writing on this topic of national concern was distinguished enough to win the coveted "I Am The Back End Of A Horse" Award from Michael Bérubé). And not Kerry's scandalous flouting of debate rules, civic virtue and simple fair play by bringing a pen to the podium. (The wingers yield to no one in their dogged determination to nail down every aspect of that story: for instance, using multiple screenshots to investigate the burning question, what color was the pen?)

But no, it's not that. Nor the controversy over Kerry's "global test" -- controversial because Bush and his proxies keep lying about what Kerry actually said. What you're most assuredly missing -- unless you're reading Hugh Hewitt!!!! -- is "the most astonishing part of Kerry's presentation". Which would be this:

Right now the president is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn't make sense.

You talk about mixed messages. We're telling other people, "You can't have nuclear weapons," but we're pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using.

Not this president. I'm going to shut that program down, and we're going to make it clear to the world we're serious about containing nuclear proliferation."

Hewitt is deeply concerned:

I sense Kerry's outrage at the very idea of America developing and possessing such weapons was both authentic on his part and potentially disturbing to millions of voters who instinctively understand that the armory of America is different from the armory of every other country in the world, that our nation can be trusted with all sorts of weaponry that the world cannot be trusted with, and that our electorate will not reward a candidate who, as Kerry did on Thursday night, proclaims our weapons program to be part of the proliferation problem.

I'm sure that the various third-world dictators that we're trying to lure into non-proliferation agreements will be happy to yield to the unquestionable logical force of this argument. But if that's not enough, keep reading; he continues with a "virtual symposium" which links to dozens of posts from (almost entirely) like-minded bloggers who are prepared to rhetorically beat them into sub demonstrate the force of the argument.

As long as I'm on the subject of things that go boom, it seems that the Air Force is now researching antimatter weapons, with potential explosive yields well in excess of nukes. Which is a bit of a surprise, considering that current technology for making things go boom has already reached a point that even Edward Teller, a man not noted for his shyness about making things go boom, thought that it was just pointless to go further. Past a certain point, about 100 megatons in explosive yield, he explained to author Richard Rhodes,

it would simply lift a chunk of atmosphere -- ten miles in diameter, something of that kind -- lift it into space. Then you make it a thousand times bigger still. You know what would happen? You lift the same chunk into space with thirty times the velocity.

But hey, antimatter might make it possible for a bomb with the yield of a "suitcase nuke", or even perhaps a city-buster nuke, to fit in your wallet. And if we develop a bomb like that, won't you feel safer?

Teller quote from Dark Sun, by Richard Rhodes, footnote in ch. 20, p. 402 of my edition. Antimatter article via King of Zembla.


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