Obama administration resurrects his ban-the-bomb stance from his student days

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of State John Kerry talk about banning the bomb (Getty Images)

You may say he is a dreamer, but he’s not the only one.

Out of the blue the Obama administration’s Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz are calling for a new round of talks in an attempt to revive the nuclear test ban treaty that the Senate nixed in 1999.

After giving Iran the green light to develop its own nuclear weapons at some time in the vague future — after Obama is out of office presumably — now seems like an odd time to resurrect Obama’s youthful, naifish dream of a nuke free world.

“I don’t think I was that unique at that time,” Obama has since said of his 1983 article in a Columbia University publication calling for for nuke-free world, “and I don’t think I’m that unique today in thinking that if we could put the genie back in the bottle, in some sense, that there would be less danger — not just to the United States but to people around the world.”

Nevada Test Site bomb test (Nevada State Museum)

There hasn’t been a full-blown, so to speak, nuclear weapon test at the Nevada Test Site since 1992, according to a Review-Journal article by Keith Rogers.

“From 1951 through 1992, the test site’s role focused on full-scale tests of nuclear weapons. During that time, 100 were conducted in the atmosphere until the Limited Test Ban Treaty took effect in 1963. That was followed by 828 that rumbled through the desert after they were set off below ground in shafts and tunnels,” Rogers writes. “The last one, Divider, was conducted on Sept. 23, 1992. What followed was a moratorium that has been extended indefinitely.”

But what has followed are underground subcritical tests. There have been at least two dozen of those.

But those apparently would not violate a nuclear test ban treaty. According to Lawrence Livermore scientists, in these experiments chemical high explosives are detonated next to samples of weapons-grade plutonium to obtain information about what happens to the plutonium in a matter of microseconds. No critical mass is formed — no self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction or detonation.

Earlier this summer the Air Force did drop a dummy nuke bomb at the Tonopah Test Range. The tests are designed to assure the continued reliability of the weapon’s parts.

According to Politico, shortly after Kerry and Moniz started talking about a test ban treaty, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican called the effort “almost comical.”

“It wasn’t in our national security interests then, it’s not in our interests now, and it won’t be in the future,” Cotton was quoted as saying in a statement. “If the Obama administration intends to ‘reopen’ the discussion over Senate ratification of the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) then I intend to ‘reopen’ the fight against it.”

How confident are we that our current nuclear weapons still work as intended after all these decades? Just asking.


Anonymous sources good for Reid’s goose but not right-wing gander

Harry Reid —who unapologetically lied about Mitt Romney paying income taxes for 10 years, citing an anonymous source — is gloating over a pseudonymous source hoaxing a blogger with tale about how Harry really got his New Year’s Eve injuries.

“What this guy proved to me is that journalism doesn’t exist,” Reid told the Review-Journal. “I wish I’d meet this guy and pat him on the back.”

Larry Reid mugshot from R-J

This came on the heels of a weekend story in the Sun insert that told of a Larry Pfeifer claiming to have made up a story about how Reid’s younger brother Larry might have beaten him and getting Power Line blogger John Hinderaker to report it.

While saying he could not vouch for the story, Hinderaker recounted Pfeifer’s tale of a man named Larry showing up at an AA meeting on New Year’s Eve intoxicated and talking about how he might be in trouble with the Secret Service. Pfeifer said he had a bloody left hand. Reid’s injuries were to his right eye and right jaw.

Pfeifer said people at the meeting later recognized Larry Reid when his mugshot appeared in the paper when he was arrested for DUI and assault on a police officer in Boulder City.

Reid claimed the reported hoax “appeared in newspapers all over the country,” though I’ve yet to find a single newspaper account of it until the Sun’s report. Plenty of newspapers repeated the story Reid told about Romney’s taxes, based on an anonymous source.

Perhaps there were reasons to question the veracity of the tale. Do they let drunks into AA meetings? Reid’s bodyguard is provided by the Capitol Police, who have yet to file an incident report, not the Secret Service.

Amusingly, today Harry Reid sent out a solicitation for donations to his Searchlight PAC claiming a leaked Koch brothers memo states: “The plan comes with a $125 million 2015 budget for Americans for Prosperity … That’s the most the group has ever spent in a non-election year” (Reid’s emphasis) The email says:

“For years, I’ve called the Koch brothers out for trying to buy Congress. And according to leaked documents, it looks like they are upping their game in 2015.

“Which means if we’re going to beat them, we have to up our game, too.

“Searchlight Leadership Fund is all about supporting strong Democratic candidates that oppose the Koch agenda, and those candidates — now more than ever — need our help.”

An unnamed source? Yes, Politico reported this a week ago based on anonymous sourcing, but might they have been hoaxed? Harry Reid certainly did not deign to check it out.

There is also more than one version of how Reid was injured coming from Reid’s office, but hardly anyone is questioning the contradictions.

Lisa Benson cartoon


The electronic road to serfdom?

On Thursday the FCC commissioners are to vote on what is generally being called net neutrality, but rightly should be called Obamanet, as L. Gordon Crovitz explains in The Wall Street Journal.

If socializing a sixth of the economy can be called Obamacare, socializing the Internet should be given the moniker of its chief author.

The plan is to cover the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which states in part:

“All charges, practices, classifications, and regulations for and in connection with such communication service, shall be just and reasonable, and any such charge, practice, classification, or regulation that is unjust or unreasonable is hereby declared to be unlawful …”

Goodbye innovation and disruptive changes to the status quo. Everything will be equal, equally slow and costly and mired in regulation and government paperwork.

WSJ illustration

“Utility regulation was designed to maintain the status quo, and it succeeds,” writes Crovitz. “This is why the railroads, Ma Bell and the local water monopoly were never known for innovation. The Internet was different because its technologies, business models and creativity were permissionless.”

Writing in Politico, Ajit Pai, an FCC commissioner, and Lee Goodman, an FEC commissioner, explain, “Unfortunately, some see any realm of freedom as a vacuum in need of government control.”

They argue the purpose of the whole thing is control and control’s sake and nowhere in the 332-page plan — which is secret until after the FCC vote — is there any explanation of what needs to be fixed.

“While the FCC is inserting government bureaucracy into all aspects of Internet access, the FEC is debating whether to regulate Internet content, specifically political speech posted for free online,” they write.

Democrat FEC commissioners have proposed regulating political  “express advocacy” online. Just as some states do with political advertising.

This reminds one of the warnings from Friedrich Hayek in “The Road to Serfdom,” written shortly after World War II:

“It is revealing that few planners today are content to say that central planning is desirable. Most of them affirm that we now are compelled to it by circumstances beyond our control.

“One argument frequently heard is that the complexity of modern civilization creates new problems with which we cannot hope to deal effectively except by central planning. This argument is based upon a complete misapprehension of the working of competition. The very complexity of modern conditions makes competition the only method by which a coordination of affairs can be adequately achieved.

“There would be no difficulty about efficient control or planning were conditions so simple that a single person or board could effectively survey all the facts. But as the factors which have to be taken into account become numerous and complex, no one centre can keep track of them. The constantly changing conditions of demand and supply of different commodities can never be fully known or quickly enough disseminated by any one centre.

“Under competition – and under no other economic order – the price system automatically records all the relevant data. Entrepreneurs, by watching the movement of comparatively few prices, as an engineer watches a few dials, can adjust their activities to those of their fellows.

“Compared with this method of solving the economic problem – by decentralization plus automatic coordination through the price system – the method of central direction is incredibly clumsy, primitive, and limited in scope. It is no exaggeration to say that if we had had to rely on central planning for the growth of our industrial system, it would never have reached the degree of differentiation and flexibility it has attained. Modern civilization has been possible precisely because it did not have to be consciously created.”


Unprincipled: It matters not what is said, but who is saying it

Harry Reid is demanding an apology from a Louisiana Senate candidate for saying Reid runs the Senate like a plantation, but when Hillary Clinton said the same about the House eight years ago, Reid defended her remarks. Reid talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Bill Cassidy (E&E photo)

Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican congressman, was quoted by E&E Publishing as saying Reid “runs the Senate like a plantation. So instead of the world’s greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, ‘It goes if I say it does, if not it stops.’ (Louisiana) Senator (Mary) Landrieu’s first vote for him to be re-elected means that every other wish for a pro-oil and gas jobs bill is dead. Reid will never allow a pro-oil and gas jobs bill.”

In response, Politico quoted Reid as saying, “With all of the things going on in America today, that’s fairly insensitive. That’s really insensitive. Very insensitive. And if there were ever a statement that deserved an apology, this is it. Big time.”

But he had a different tune in 2006 when then-Sen. Hillary Clinton told a mostly black audience in Harlem that the House “has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about. It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard.”

Reid shrugged off the comments by saying, “I didn’t listen to the speech, but no one can question her civil- and human-rights credentials. They’re the best.”

It is not what is said, but who is saying it.