Yesterday, on Twitter, I wrote:
So, swing voters (if you really exist?) come to me and let me help you make up your mind. Tell me why, at this late stage, you’re still unsure for whom to vote.
I received several very sincere questions via DM. To save space, I’m going to combine them and commingle them with other letters I’ve received in the past weeks, creating a single interlocutor—not a straw man, note, nor a figment of my imagination. Every word is verbatim that of a real interlocutor, save where I’ve made his argument stronger, not weaker.
Swing Voter: Hello, Claire, I’m taking your invitation to discuss my swing vote because I respect your political judgment.
Claire: That’s very kind of you, thank you.
Swing Voter: I have opposed Trump from the beginning and have published critiques, both in academic books and online. I am not going to vote for him.
Claire: I don’t think this puts you exactly in the swing voter category now, does it?
Swing Voter: I planned to vote for a potato over Trump. That’s all the Democrats had to nominate. Additionally, I like Biden. Obviously he’s not the best imaginable candidate, but he was a reassuring choice for those, like me, who think what’s most important right now is a return to “normalcy.” More specifically, what I’ve wanted is a return to respect for the Constitution. During the impeachment hearings, I took the Democrats’ constitutionalism seriously.
Claire: So what could you possibly be about to tell me?
Swing Voter: But when Biden refused to answer the question about court-packing this was all overturned in my mind. Now I’m thinking I won’t vote for either.
Claire: Seriously. That’s what did it?
Relax. He’s not going to pack the court.
Look at it this way. He did not bring up packing the court. The media did. Upon being asked if he would pack the court, there were only three things he could say:
All hell breaks loose. He hands a serious weapon to a GOP that at this point hasn’t so much as a pointy fingernail left and is so desperate they’re sending poor demented Giuliani off to get his dick caught in Hunter Biden’s Novichok-dusted hard drive.
If Joe says, “Damned straight, I’m packing the court,” between now and November 3, well, all the media talks about is that—rather than reminding everyone that our President’s off babbling about how Biden had Seal Team Six whacked, that he caused a diplomatic uproar after publicly angling to buy Greenland, and that he assured us we’d soon be curing Covid19 with bleach and very powerful lights. We’d be talking about court-packing instead of the spectacle before our eyes.
Look at the spectacle before your eyes, Swing Voter.
“You better elect me, Alabama, because ONLY I WILL arrest the globalist Satan-worshiping pedophiles who drink children’s blood ! LYING Samantha Guthurt and child-molester SLEEPY JOE won’t do anything to save you from the globalists! MAGA! #maga #trump #kag #donaldtrump #conservative #republican #wwg #makeamericagreatagain #usa #qanon #wga #keepamericagreat #america #trumptrain #thegreatawakening #q #kag #darktolight #pizzagate #obamagate #draintheswamp ...
Kellyanne Conway, prim: “That is an absolutely reprehensible suggestion. The President has Jewish grandchildren. It’s just a retweet! Get a sense of humor! It doesn’t mean he believes it. He believes in letting people make up their own minds.
If Biden said, “Yes,” he’d change the subject. That’s bad politics.
2) Or he could say No.
Again, bad politics. He demoralizes the crazy left, depressing turnout. He also tells the GOP there will be no consequences for playing Constitutional hardball with the court. Now, whether or not you agree that they have every right to play Constitutional hardball, there’s not much doubt that a cohort of voters whom Biden needs—to win, which is his job and he’d damned well better do it right—are hopping infuriated about it. Me? I think the GOP is Constitutionally entitled to put ACB on the court, without a doubt—but grossly irresponsible to do so. Not everything that can be done should be done.
To be clear. I like ACB. I’m really into that nice-church-lady vibe she’s got going. She’s obviously qualified. I suspect she’ll be a competent judge. I’d be happy to see Biden appoint her, actually. It would be a superb and statesmanlike gesture if he did—just as I thought it would have been a superb and statesmanlike gesture had Trump nominated Merrick Garland.
But I don’t think either gesture would make anywhere near as much difference as people think. People grossly overestimate the extent to which, once appointed, Supreme Court justices may be counted upon to rule in a way that satisfies political partisans. A lifetime appointment is rather freeing—just as a desire to be invited to all the nice cocktail parties in Georgetown is rather limiting.
I don’t wish to see the court packed, but don’t think it would be unconstitutional, either—no more than pushing through ACB’s nomination during an election would be unconstitutional. It would just be divisive and stupid, like pushing through ACB’s nomination during an election. Biden is not running on a platform of “I’ll be stupidly divisive,” and I genuinely do not think he intends to be stupidly divisive.
This leads to the least-bad-option:
3) I ain’t saying.
It isn’t an ideal answer, because it freaks out swing voters like you, SW. But it’s better than the other answers. It keeps the question from being the only thing people talk about. It prevents the hopping-mad centrists from feeling like patsies and gives the far-left a bit of false hope.
And while it may be divisive, it isn’t stupidly divisive, at all, to leave the GOP thinking they face a choice: They can have Nice Joe or Mean Joe.
Everyone in the GOP has a dread inkling, right about now, that their party’s about to be wiped out from root to stem—as well it deserves to be. (Salt the earth, as far as I’m concerned.) The few that manage to cling to their jobs will be a decimated minority.
Nice Joe is entirely sincere in saying he wants to reach across the aisle and work with the traumatized survivors. We know he means this because he has done it before—a fact he’s repeatedly had hung around his neck by the you-caught-cooties-from-shaking-Strom-Thurmond’s-hand wing of his own party.
NB: He didn’t back down. He wouldn’t apologize for being pleasant to Strom. He’s said from the beginning of his campaign that he plans to work with the GOP—if there’s anything left of it—come November 3. This was his unique selling point, in fact. He knows how to work with them, he has said; he made this the centerpiece of his campaign, going so far as to say that those who say it can’t be done and that he’s naive for thinking it can are the true naifs who are too jejune—or too radical—to understand that power, in a democracy, means compromise, and compromise means getting your hands dirty. It even means on occasion sacrificing your precious principles for the sake of getting things done. That’s his campaign pitch: I’m old enough to know you do what you have to do to get things done, and I will. But I’m decent enough that this knowledge hasn’t turned me into a psychopathic shitbird, like my opponent.
Whether or not they admit it, the GOP knows Nice Joe is real—and they know the odds that he’ll be the next President are better than 90 percent. So it is not bad politics for Joe to remind the GOP that while he’d rather be nice Joe, it is within his power to be Mean Joe. Mean Joe has a pissed-off (centrist) base solidly behind him, and if needed, can mobilize the (lunatic) left to support him.
Reminding the GOP that he has this ammunition—if they really want to see what Joe is like if Joe is angry—is good politics. Better to leave them in a bit of doubt. All he needs, after all, is for one of them to say to himself, “Things are probably going to look a little bleak around here in a few months’ time. Maybe it’s in my interests to have Nice Joe on my side. Maybe this Barrett business is a bit needlessly inflammatory.”
If “I ain’t saying” Joe manages to flip a Senator (assuming Collins and Murkowski hold firm), and if another Senator is forced into quarantine—as seems entirely plausible, given the GOP’s commitment to the principle of anti-hygiene—voilà, he has achieved an important goal even before his election.
Now, if Biden then had the remarkable vision to nominate ACB himself—and why not? He’s a one-term president—I’d put him in the category, immediately, of “great American statesmen.”
That probably won’t happen.
But court-packing won’t happen, either. Joe’s a centrist who does not want to stack the court, and would only do so, I suspect, if enough of the GOP survives, in an entirely obstructionist form, to thwart him from getting anything done. In which case, even I’d grudgingly support stacking the court. We can’t be ungovernable forever.
Nor would it make much difference, ultimately. As soon as the GOP or some new party that emerges from its embers achieves the power to do it, they’d re-stack the court to their own satisfaction.
Anyway, since most qualified Federal judges are good at what they do—much better than our politicians, frankly, and far wiser and more mature—I doubt we’ll see any highly controversial rulings for a very long time, no matter how many justices sit on the court. They remember Dred Scott, even if no one else does. It’s not an accident that in every case that’s gone before the Court since Kavanaugh was appointed, the judges have managed to choke out the narrowest, most popular ruling imaginable—even when it meant cheerily throwing out the basic canons of predicate logic, as in Bostock.
Swing Voter: Okay, I guess I’m reassured. I understand the argument that a refusal to vote is effectively a vote for Trump. And yet I’ve begun to feel that the Democrats cynically rely on this logic to get voters like me. I now want them to earn my vote rather than count on it.
Claire: You want champagne and a plate of oysters?
Swing Voter: As I started to think that way a week or two ago, it was as if a dam burst. I was shocked by Democrats’ response, or lack thereof, to the BLM riots of the past summer. Not just the denial, but the quasi-religious attitude to BLM itself, as if criticism were blasphemy.
Claire: And bloody hell, you were right to be. Won’t get any argument from me on that score. Look, no two ways about it: America has gone nuts. I’m going nuts just from inhaling the nut-vibes coming out of America even though I’ve got the whole of the Atlantic Ocean between me and the nuthatch.
Have you wondered whether it could be the pandemic? The pandemic and social media? We’ve got too many people spending too much time, in isolation, watching videos of other Americans exhibiting insane, antisocial behavior. Everyone’s gone nuts from watching them. Half of America has genuinely convinced itself that White nationalists are fixing to ride into to town to string them up. The other half believes—with vital, equal, and opposite lunacy—that they better barricade the doors, give the squirrel rifle to the missus, and hide her in the basement while they grab the ole’ Sig Sauer M400 Enhanced 5.56mm FDE Carbines, because them Antifers’re coming to town.
Every one of these viral videos—from the Karen-freaking-out-in-the-mall genre to the statue-defiling revolutionaries in the CHAZ—displays someone who looks insane to me. Clinically insane.
I know I didn’t grow up in an America that would have seriously entertained, even for a glancing moment, the notion of “President Donald Trump.” It could have been a sitcom plot, sure, but a reality? I know the Presidency used to be a deeply serious business. And we used to be a deeply serious superpower.
I wind myself up in knots trying to figure it out. Either the country in which I grew up is gone—and if so, when did it happen, and why?—or this was always latent, yet I failed to notice it. Was it all an illusion? Why didn’t I see the potential in our civilization for this kind of degradation—even as others perceived it?
But this isn’t your point, Swing Voter. Your point is that something deeply disturbing has happened to the American left, and it’s hard to tell to what degree this overlaps with, or bleeds into, the Democratic Party. You note, among other things,
the suppression of speech, the excesses of MeToo and Title IX, the belief that the United States is rotten at its fundament, the justification of looting, the claim that all white people are racist, the vilification of everyone on the right, etc. As Sullivan put it, ‘we all live on campus now.’ That is not Biden, but it is an ascendant group of Democrats and I doubt that Biden can stem that tide. This is why his court-packing non-answer broke the camel’s back. I don’t think he wants to do it, but the extreme left is now so powerful that he feared alienating them by giving his own, and the correct, answer to a straightforward question. So if you can persuade me to vote for Biden despite these reservations, I might be grateful. I’m in PA, so my vote might “matter.”
You’re right about all of that. You’re right that it bleeds into the Democratic Party, although I think less—far less—than absolute lunacy with which the GOP is seized. I’ll remind you: 18 seated members of Congress refused to sign a House Resolution declaring QAnon baseless—and this was introduced after Rep. Malinowski received death threats from QAnon supporters. That’s eighteen, one-eight, members of the US Congress who believe there’s something about this rank neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that’s so vitally important that they would not say, for the record, that it just ain’t true.
There’s nuts and there’s really nuts. Thinking eight-year-olds have the wherewithal to choose their own gender is nuts—and about 40 percent of registered Democrats do believe this. Thinking the QAnon theory is true is really nuts—and about 40 percent of registered Republicans genuinely believe this.
The difference between “nuts” and “really nuts” is that one is a debatable opinion. It can be falsified. It’s in the process of being falsified, in fact, as new research comes in suggesting that gender dysphoric kids tend to outgrow it. I have, however, seen no reputable studies testing the proposition that the world is controlled by a cabal of Satanist pedophiles, and if any of my readers are confused, that’s because the idea is really nuts—not because academia is controlled by Satanist pedophiles. (If you’re having trouble with this concept, try this.)
Similarly, the idea that all white people are racist, while offensive and preposterous, is attached, if only by a gossamer thread, to reality. Americans practiced race-based chattel slavery for 250 years. In the year 2020, it is still possible to watch a white police officer choke the life out of a black man in the full view of horrified and helpless passersby. Does this mean that looting is justified or BLM basically correct in its prescriptions? No. All of that geschrei is just a miserable howl of pain and shame. Nothing more. The police aren’t going anywhere. We need them. We always will. It takes exactly 15.7 seconds—I’ve counted this—between the screams of “Defund the police” and the screams of “Where are the cops?” It’s not enough time to defund them. So don’t worry. I’d be damned irritated by it, if I were a cop, but look, if you want to go into a profession where everyone loves you, don’t be a cop. If that’s what you want, run off and join the circus.
It’s nuts to talk about “defunding the police.” But it’s not “batshit nuts.” It has some connection to a problem, a real one, about which reasonable and even unreasonable people may disagree.
The idea, however, that Joe Biden had Seal Team Six killed? That Obama was born in Kenya? That Obama created ISIS? That Ted Cruz’s father assassinated JFK? That vaccines cause autism? That asbestos is “a great con?” That Justice Scalia was “found with a pillow over his face?” That Joe Scarborough killed his staffer? (“Investigate!”) That “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims were cheering in New Jersey as the Twin Towers fell? (“It did happen. I saw it. It was on television. I saw it!”) That the CDC “quietly” reduced the COVID-19 death toll to “just 6% of what had previously been reported?” (Remember that one?)
That Biden is controlled by “people that you’ve never heard of … people that are in the dark shadows?” That the Clintons killed Jeffrey Epstein? That Ukraine had the DNC server all along? That hydroxychloroquine “is being suppressed to keep deaths high so the economy can be shut down ahead of the election?” That Trump won the popular vote? That millions of people “voted illegally?” You know I could go on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on. And on.
The difference between “nuts” and “absolutely fucking nuts” is pretty clear, isn’t it?
The first set of theories, while incorrect, arise from fairly normal errors of cognition. If you live in a country that not all that long ago practiced race-based slavery and see a series of extremely disturbing videos that show white men shooting black men, it takes no more than an active imagination and a poor sense of statistics to conclude that black men takes their lives in their hands whenever they step out of their apartments. The theory is incorrect, but the thought process is tethered to reality. It’s an error in reasoning.
There is no error in Trump’s reasoning because there is no reasoning at all. There isn’t even a personality—he’s just a host of Cluster B personality disorders. There is no connection, however tangential, between what comes out of his lie-hole on a daily basis and any fact whatsoever. What he says is not a misunderstanding of fact, or an exaggeration of fact, or a sort-of-true-but-he’s-not-very-articulate expression of fact—and neither are these daily lunacies just signs of his terrific sense of humor. He is absolutely fucking nuts. These are the lunatic perseverations of an outright madman, and his madness is infecting the whole GOP. Much of the Democrats’ madness is, I think, just counter-madness, and would just go away if we got rid of Trump.
But for now, the deeply moving rituals of our democracy—the hearings before Congress, the briefings from the White House Press Secretary, the landing of Air Force One—have become a horror movie. I watch one after another grey figure testify and I cannot understand why everyone in Congress—Republican and Democrat alike—continues to behave as if it’s perfectly normal for the President of the United States to be out of his fucking mind. They gather in Congress and posture and bloviate, but it’s a charade—they all know he’s nuts. They know it full well.
There are 300,000 Americans dead from a virus he insisted would “disappear, like a miracle.” Another thousand dying every day. Yet he keeps holding rallies—rallies where no one is masked, rallies where people pack themselves by the thousands into airport tarmacs and hangars, many times a day, with no distancing required. People keep dying from these rallies. They die and they die. But he does not care.
We’ve lost count of the dead. He does not care. Swing Voter, for Christ’s sake—what does this tell you? Remember: Donald Trump has the sole power to launch on command.
When all of this is over, many years from now, we will find out, I am sure—in the finest of ironies—that the Deep State saved us. I have to imagine—I must imagine, I’d go mad otherwise—that some kind of secret protocol has been worked out in the Pentagon. It cannot be true that we are following the letter of the law on this, the gravest of matters, the most sacrosanct of national duties, of awesome responsibility, the arena in which the law most matters—and yet.
The law says the President alone has the sole power to launch nuclear weapons. The policy dates from Truman, who sought to ensure the military would never have the option to use these monstrous instruments. Instead, one man alone would have the power to destroy the world. Truman, mistakenly, had more faith in the American people to choose a President who understood his evil power than he did the military.
The choice to use nuclear weapons is the most significant decision a leader—and by extension, the country that elected him—could make, overshadowing everything else, any other consideration, by orders of magnitude. The excesses of Title IX? Seriously? Yeah, they’ve been excessive. Go Betsy Vos! You did one, single thing right! Bravo! You go, girl!
A single nuclear warhead would vaporize hundreds of thousands of people instantly. It would destroy the entire economic, social, and military infrastructure of the target nation.
You say you’re in PA, Swing Voter, and that this might matter? More than you probably realize. PA gets it in the first round, I’m afraid. I’ve saved you the hassle and simulated the effect of an Ivy Mike on the Tobyhanna Army Depot.
You wouldn’t survive. And you wouldn’t want to.
We used to think about this a lot, we Americans. Somehow—and for absolutely no reason, because the risk has grown, not shrunk—we stopped thinking about it. A little refresher from The Effects of a Global Thermonuclear War—4th edition, updated in 1988:
The following is an approximate description of the effects of a global nuclear war. For the purposes of illustration it is assumed that a war resulted in mid-1988 from military conflict between the Warsaw Pact and NATO. ….
…. Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warheads begin reaching targets in Texas and other parts of the U.S. Over the next 15 minutes 55 SLBM warheads succeed in reaching targets in Texas out of 74 launched (the rest were on missiles that malfunctioned early in flight). In Travis County, a 1.5-megaton (1 mt equals the explosive energy of 1,000,000 tons of TNT) warhead detonates 2.5 km (1.5 miles) over Bergstrom AFB. Over the next few minutes ten warheads, each between 200 kilotons and 500 kilotons (1,000 kt equals 1 mt) detonate over Bergstrom and in a pattern extending 100 km (60 miles) to the north, west, and east—this in an attempt to destroy the four escaping bombers.
Each explosion produces a fireball which radiates intense light (flash) for about 10 seconds: all exposed combustible material ignites up to ranges of 3 to 9 km (2 to 5.5 miles); second degree burns to exposed skin and fires are produced up to 6.5 to 18.5 km (4 to 11.5 miles) away. The atmospheric shock wave (blast) from each explosion causes partial or complete destruction of all buildings within 1.5 to 4.5 km (1 to 3 miles) and causes moderate damage and 50% injuries or deaths at 5.5 to 15 km (3.5 to 9.5 miles) in the 10 to 40 seconds following detonation. (These figures represent the variation among 200-kt to 1.5-mt warheads exploded in the air or on the ground.) Severe damage and fires result in much of Austin.
Immediate nuclear radiation from the weapons being used is generally absorbed by the atmosphere before it reaches people surviving the flash and blast. (This radiation is only important with small nuclear weapons such as the bombs dropped on Japan in World War II or the tactical nuclear weapons being used in Europe. Delayed radiation from fallout is a different matter, however.)
12:15 PM CDT: The U.S. launches intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) against the U.S.S.R. These are launched from underground silos in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Missouri. Some SLBMs are launched at this time as well.
12:25 PM CDT: The U.S.S.R. launches most remaining nuclear forces, attacking cities and other targets in the U.S. and Western Europe as well as mainland China.
Antiballistic missiles (ABMs) with nuclear warheads are being launched to defend Moscow from incoming warheads. Throughout the U.S.S.R. several types of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) are also being used against incoming nuclear warheads--occasionally with success.
12:30 PM CDT: Soviet ICBM warheads begin reaching U.S. targets. NORAD headquarters near Colorado Springs receives a few 20-mt warheads: the ground shock produced by each one attains 7.3 on the Richter scale. U.S. submarines begin launching SLBMs against the U.S.S.R. In Texas, 80,000 people have already died.
Altogether, over 1,000 tons of debris from Soviet ballistic missiles will fall over the U.S.; much will burn up in the atmosphere, but some larger objects will hit the ground with energy equivalent to their own weight in TNT.
12:35 PM CDT: Another wave of Soviet warheads arrives in Texas: 45 of the 53 ICBM warheads targeted in Texas actually detonate successfully. In Travis County, a 550-kt warhead detonates on the ground at the former site of Bergstrom AFB, adding to the devastation in Austin. In the Rio Grande Valley, a 550-kt warhead detonates on the ground at the Raymondville Coast Guard station and a second one two minutes later; Raymondville is destroyed.
With Soviet warheads minutes away, Israel launches nuclear missiles and nuclear-armed aircraft against capitals and military targets of most other Middle Eastern nations.
12:50 PM CDT: A massive barrage by U.S. SLBMs mostly overwhelms the Moscow ABM system; American, British, French, and Chinese nuclear warheads targeted within 100 km (60 miles) of Moscow total over 500. About 200 reach their targets (although only about 40 were lost to ABMs): while most Soviet leaders in underground shelters survive (the primary goal of the local ABM system), most civilians in the subway tunnels and other shelters will die over the next few hours.
The Moscow area ranks with the six ICBM fields in the U.S. as the hardest hit areas of the world. An average of 350 warheads detonate in each ICBM field, each producing a crater 350 m (400 yards) across; a total of 100,000 sq. km (40,000 sq. mi.) is devoid of life. Out of 1,000 ICBM silos, 100 still had ICBMs; now six are left usable.
The nuclear weapons that have reached Texas so far were directed against U.S. military forces and capabilities. Although this attack did not specifically target the civilian population, it has so far killed 800,000 and injured 3,000,000 people in Texas.
1:00 PM CDT 5 August: A third strike reaches Texas, with 146 warheads launched. Two 750-kt warheads detonate over Austin. In the Rio Grande Valley, a 1.1-mt warhead detonates over Brownsville, three 350-kt warheads detonate around McAllen, and 550-kt warheads are groundburst in Harlingen and at Cameron County Airport. Massive fires and severe blast damage occur throughout all of these metropolitan areas.
This concludes most of the nuclear war in Texas: 273 warheads were fired at 233 targets, and 215 detonated successfully, with a total yield of 128 megatons (about 40 times the explosive force of all conventional bombs and shells used in World War II). In addition, about 5 off-course warheads struck randomly in Texas. At this point 3,500,000 Texans have been killed.
It continues in that vein, and no, the threat from the USSR has not disappeared, Swing Voter. Russia’s still got every last bit of that—and then some—pointed at your head. Yes. Right now.
We’ve built safeguards against mishaps—although we’ve also come damned close to nuking ourselves by accident, more than once. Still, it’s good to know every link in the decision chain has safeguards against poor judgment, deliberate misuse, and accidental deployment. For example, the launch order must be sent to two people. Each of them must independently decode and authenticate the message before acting. Everyone with nuclear weapons duties—in every branch of service—must, routinely, pass a battery of tests—the Personnel Reliability Program—that assess his or her mental fitness, financial history, health, and emotional stability.
Except the President.
Trump could not conceivably pass that test.
This is the law. The authority is inherent in the President’s Constitutional role as Commander in Chief. Only the President is authorized to make the decision to use a nuclear weapon, and he is fully authorized. He is not required to consult his advisors. He does not need their concurrence. He is not required to ask the Defense Department. He need not consult Congress. Congress cannot overrule him. The judicial branch cannot lawfully restrain him. Not one single Constitutional office holder need be consulted before the President orders a nuclear strike. That is the law.
A military aide is always by the President’s side. He carries the Presidential Emergency Satchel—the so-called football. In the football, there is the Black Book. It contains strike options, classified locations, and the Emergency Broadcast System procedures.
There is a small card, about the size of a credit card. That is the so-called biscuit. The President carries the Biscuit with him at all times. On the biscuit are the codes, unique to the President, that the identify him to military officials at the Pentagon. Using these codes, the President transmits the launch orders to the Pentagon and STRATCOM.
When the President authorizes a nuclear strike, the Defense Department is not authorized to ask, “Is this a good idea?” It is only authorized to ensure the codes are correct. As the former director of the CIA and the NSA, General Michael Hayden, has noted: The system “is designed for speed and decisiveness. It’s not designed to debate the decision.” Hayden is voting for Biden, by the way.
Once the order is transmitted to the war room, it is executed within a minute. The orders are carried out by launch crews. There are two in a crew. The land-based Minutemen fire in two minutes. The submarines fire in 15 minutes. There is no way to reverse the order. There is no way to recall the missiles once they have launched. There is no self-destruct switch.
It takes thirty minutes, or less, from the time the President orders a strike for the nuclear weapons to reach their target. Within five minutes of the initial order, some 400 land-based nuclear weapons could be loosed on enemy targets. Ten minutes later, a battalion of underwater nukes could join them.
The President can—all by himself—unleash thermonuclear Armageddon.
Even if only one nuclear weapon were launched—and no matter where it landed—it is all but certain that retaliatory attacks would follow. That is why the scenario is called mutually assured destruction.
Trump has already shown that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans leaves him stone cold. It is what it is.
Even with a normal president, the risks are too high. The risk of mistaken launch based on false warning, human error in control systems, or panic are very real. They’ve brought us near to the very end of the world more than once.
But Trump is absolutely fucking nuts.
Trump “suggested multiple times” to national security officials that they “explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States.”
During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, “I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?”
“We’re ordering 147 new F-35 Lightning fighters. This is an incredible plane. It's stealth; you can’t see it. So when I talk to even people from the other side, they’re trying to order our plane. They like the fact that you can’t see it. I said, ‘How would it do in battle with your plane?’ They say, ‘Well, we have one problem: We can’t see your plane.’ That’s a big problem. Stealth. Super Stealth. The best in the world. We make the best military equipment in the world. Also, remember this: jobs.”
“I will not be a happy trigger like some people might be. But I will never, ever rule it out.” …. “Can I be honest are you? Maybe it’s going to have to be time to change, because so many people, you have Pakistan has it, you have China has it. You have so many other countries are now having it.” … “I will have a military that’s so strong and powerful, and so respected, we’re not gonna have to nuke anybody.” … ‘We have—I call it, the ‘super duper missile’ … I heard the other night, 17 times faster than what they have right now, when you take the fastest missile we have right now. You’ve heard Russia has five times and China’s working on five or six times. We have one 17 times, and it’s just gotten the go-ahead.” … “It is highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely that I would ever be using them.” … “We are building new ships, bombers, jet fighters, and helicopters by the hundreds. New tanks, military satellites, rockets and missiles, even a hypersonic missile that goes 17 times faster than the fastest missile currently available in the world.” … “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” … “I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody — what we have is incredible.” … “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?”
TRUMP: Let me explain. Let me explain. Somebody hits us within ISIS — you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?”
MATTHEWS: OK. The trouble is, when you said that, the whole world heard it. David Cameron in Britain heard it. The Japanese, where we bombed them in 45, heard it. They’re hearing a guy running for president of the United States talking of maybe using nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to hear that about an American president.
TRUMP: Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?
Trump recently retweeted an article from the Babylon Bee. He thought it was real.
WALLACE: You want to have a nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula?
TRUMP: In many ways, and I say this, in many ways, the world is changing. Right now, you have Pakistan and you have North Korea and you have China and you have Russia and you have India and you have the United States and many other countries have nukes.
TRUMP: It’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them.
Trump may know that the things he says aren’t true. Are you willing to bet your life, your children’s lives, the life of every living thing on this planet, on Donald Trump’s thus far very secret ability to tell what is true and what isn’t?
You seem willing to bet my life on it. Can’t say I appreciate that.
HEWITT: Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority? I want to go to Senator Rubio after that and ask him.
TRUMP: I think — I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.
He suggested to Bob Woodward that he enjoyed hearing Kim’s graphic description of killing his own uncle.
Swing Voter, I understand your concerns about the Democrats. They run the gamut from the mediocre to the malicious, with a bunch of pious, sniveling, self-pitying creeps in between.
But Joe Biden is perfectly sane, whereas Donald Trump is crazier than a shithouse rat.
In 2016, we put a revolver to our own heads and pulled the trigger. We got lucky. Yes, this is the way lucky looks. I don’t think it looks great, frankly.
And I don’t think our luck would hold out. No people can be that dumb, that many times, and survive.
Vote for Biden, Swing Voter—please. Don’t bother me with the trivia.