The first guy on my block

Columnist : Albert Paschall

My office is next to the Valley Forge Convention Center.  You never know what you’re going to see there.  Most days it’s just business people going to meetings but every now and then something different turns up.  Two years ago for a bartenders’ convention there was a 35-foot tall can of beer.  Unfortunately it was filled with helium, not the real thing.  Last summer some managers from a national chain of pizza joints met there and 8 women dressed up as pizzas and danced around the parking lot.
But last week was a real blast.  I look up and outside my window is a SCUD missile.  I never saw a real missile up close before.  It was really cool and not that big.  It comes with its own launch truck and could easily fit in a two-car garage.  I was hoping it was for sale.  If I owned a SCUD there wouldn’t be a traffic jam that could stop me.  With your own SCUD launcher if you get stuck in traffic just blow the horn and everybody will get out of your way.  Somebody give you a hard time?  Paint their name on the warhead and park it in front of their house.  They won’t bother you again.  I thought that this guy named Curt was the salesman but he said he couldn’t sell it to me.
By then I was possessed with the idea of owning my own missile so I went shopping.  It didn’t take long to figure out that the SCUD wasn’t a good buy.  Made in Iraq from parts supplied by our NATO allies it’s very short range.  Don’t worry though when you go around the world and kick tires on missile launchers there’s plenty to choose from at bargain basement prices.
If you’ve got a tight budget check out the former Soviet Republics.  They’ve got selection.  Over 10,000 missiles to choose from.  Short range, mobile rocket launchers and even a model called the “New Yorker” that can really fly.  Rumor holds that all kinds of former Soviet military types who aren’t too happy with their pensions can get you a real deal on this stuff.
But if you want something with lower maintenance try Iran’s Shahab 3.  This baby can do 1300 miles.  If you’re in Pittsburgh and want to take out Dallas this sleek bird will do the trick.  Reliable, cheap and accurate.
Need some extras?  Check out India’s Prithvi missile.  Nicknamed “Pakistan’s Nightmare” it’s only 27 feet long and can go from anywhere in Pennsylvania to San Francisco or Seattle in less than 8 minutes.  It even comes with a built in sub-orbital flight path that makes it very easy to adapt to chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.
But if you can afford the Porsche of missile delivery systems the North Korean Taepo-Dong has your number.  It’s a slick, built to order package.  Self-propelled, mobile and easy to conceal.  Options include two or three stages.  This beauty will soon feature multiple nuclear warhead capacity. Launched from Philadelphia it could take out Moscow, Beijing or New Delhi.  Word on the street is that the North Koreans are as starved for cash as their people are starved for food so there’s some big discounts in exchange for cash, gold or barrels of oil.
Go ahead and laugh.  So I’m a crazy guy looking to be the first one on my block to own my own missile.  Its OK to laugh at me, I can’t afford one anyway.  But there are a couple of thousand politically driven fanatics with lots of money that can’t wait to be a master of disaster.  When they finally get one their target is going to be Downtown, Anywhere, USA.  If Congress bows to recent Russian and Chinese interference with our national policies there won’t be anything to defend us with.
That salesman in the parking lot, he’s Congressman Curt Weldon from Delaware County.  He was conducting a workshop on anti-missile systems in Valley Forge last week.  He’s trying to sell Congress a technological insurance policy to protect us from our ugly world of missiles, rogue nations, rich terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.  He’s fighting a lonely battle and a lot of people laugh at his ideas.
In 1941 there was an obscure fishing bay in the Pacific that was turned into a shipyard.  Few Americans had ever heard of it.  Most Americans laughed at the idea that tiny, distant Japan could hurt Fortress USA.  The tears of Pearl Harbor wiped the laughter away.  Someday if we don’t hear Curt Weldon’s warning it will be a lot more than smiles that get wiped out when our neighborhoods are the targets for the terrorist or psychopath who is the first one on the block with their own missiles.