Tom Barrack was the chair of Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. He had been a Trump confidant and financial backer for some time, and thus not surprising he would get a job like that. Today he was arrested for acting as an agent of the United Arab Emirates and trying to influence the President in their favor.
Nancy Pelosi says that she “spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.
I can tell her the available precautions, and I hope Milley did too: NONE
The President has sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. He is not required to consult anyone else, nor is there provision to force him to.
This situation came about because back in the Cold War, it seemed plausible that the President might not know about a nuclear attack until the missiles were on the way. That gave him a half-hour or less to decide. It was also assumed that we would elect only presidents capable of doing the job.
Nuclear strategists have pressed Congress to change the situation, but so far Representative Ted Lieu’s and Senator Ed Markey’s bill has gone nowhere. Maybe the next Congress will see fit to consider it.
No, there wasn’t a workaround when Nixon was wandering the corridors of the White House, drunk, talking to the portraits. We were lucky.
Nancy Pelosi can’t do a workaround with Mark Milley. That would be tantamount to a military coup, and I think that Milley is not interested in a military coup right now.
If this is a concern, Speaker Pelosi, and I think it is, then bring articles of impeachment to the floor of the House. NOW.
Donald Trump hinted that he could have an “October surprise” in a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. That isn’t going to happen. The closest is Pfizer’s announcement that it may apply for emergency authorization for its vaccine before the end of November. But, of course, that’s after the election.
The pharmaceutical companies, fortunately, are more interested in preserving their credibility than in currying Trump’s favor. Perhaps they have calculated that Trump is unlikely to win a second term.
ProPublica has a long article on how vaccines are approved. If you want the whole story, check it out. Here’s a tl;dr to provide more of a checklist.
One of the many damages Donald Trump inflicts on the country is the inability to focus on events elsewhere in the world. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo uses Trump’s distractions to move closer to war with Iran.
Pompeo’s diplomacy begins by presenting a list of impossible demands to establish leverage for his next moves. In the case of arms control, the next move has been to pick up his marbles and go home. The US believes that Russia has been violating treaties. Instead of using the treaties’ mechanisms to bring Russia back into compliance, the US representative insisted that Russia publicly admit to its violations. When it didn’t, the US withdrew from the intermediate-range missile treaty and shot off a missile that would have violated the treaty. They are using the same strategy now to allow the New START Treaty, the last of the big arms control treaties, to lapse.
The New York Times now has Donald Trump’s income tax returns “extending over two decades”. They say that the returns come from a person who had legal access to them. The Times’s first article provides eighteen takeaways. They promise more to come. Each takeaway is a string that other news organizations can pull.
Trump runs through money and then manages to find yet another source to bankroll him. At this point, he owes $421 million to unknown parties. There are hints and guesses about connections to a hotel deal in Azerbaijan that appears to have laundered money for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and to Deutsche Bank through Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s son.
Steve Bannon talked about “flooding the zone with shit,” meaning overwhelming people with disinformation. That is what Donald Trump and his people are doing now with respect to voting. Our job is to resist it and turn it back.
Trump tweets multiple times a day about voting by mail. In his tweets, he emphasizes how unsure, how erratic it is. In fact, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington primarily use a vote by mail system. Most other states allow absentee voting by mail, under a variety of rules. That variety is being exploited by Trump’s man in the Post Office, Louis DeJoy, who is sending out postcards claiming to remind people about voting. Those postcards are incorrect for many states. The Colorado Secretary of State has tweeted out a correction and is suing the Postal Service for disrupting the election.
Man, I hate articles like the one in Axios about Donald’s latest snake oil. I’m not going to link to it. It should have started with
OLEANDRIN CAN KILL YOU, AND OTHER EXTRACTS FROM THE OLEANDER PLANT WILL KILL YOU
Instead, it cites papers to look authoritative and buries a quote from one researcher that translates to
DO NOT DO THIS
and shows pretty flowers in the pill bottle.
One of the heuristics I’ve carried with me from my time in California is “Oleander is poison. Do not eat.” The flowers are pretty, and it’s everywhere in California. So when I saw this a week or so ago, I did some research. Apparently oleandrin is one of the less toxic oleander components. It’s being used experimentally against cancer. God only knows why anyone is researching it for COVID-19, because it’s still pretty toxic. Not a path I would take until less toxic alternatives are exhausted.
It also looked like people refer to broader extracts from oleander as “oleandrin,” not just one component. So it’s only a matter of time until someone dies.
Today we have a report that Donald Trump would like to meet with Vladimir Putin before the election to present a new arms control agreement to the world.
The easiest thing for Trump to do would be to extend the New START Treaty, which lapses in early February next year. The treaty is written to allow five-year extensions with a minimum of negotiation, and Putin has said he is willing to extend it.
Trump has been surrounded by treaty-haters, though, particularly but not only John Bolton, who would be happy for New START to lapse. Their strategy is to insist that China be a part of arms control negotiations and spin their wheels doing stunts like adding small Chinese flags to places around the table during US-Russian interactions and then whining that China didn’t show up. As China had said it wouldn’t.
A little more than a year ago, when Donald Trump was in the throes of a love affair with Kim Jong Un, I advanced a theory of his behavior. He wanted the photo-ops and signatures and the sense of a nuclear nonproliferation deal, but was incapable of making a deal, in his words. His incapacity lay in his ignorance about how treaties are negotiated.
At some point, my North Korea watching colleagues maintained, Trump would have to recognize that his photo-ops had no effect whatsoever. Would he freak out against the unfaithful “Little Rocket Man”? Would he admit failure? No problem, I said. His continuing response would be “LALALALA I can’t hear you.”
How would he proceed from those photo-ops, as North Korea was continued to accumulate fissile material and build weapons, even test missiles? When North Korea issued statements insulting Trump and the people working for him? When there were no talks to develop a path towards Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Complete, Verified, and Irreversible Disarmament (CVID) and variants on that theme? When North Korea explicitly said that no way would that happen?
What are the rules of engagement for a mob of highly-equipped men, with layers of protective clothing, against a woman wearing no clothes?
That was the situation in Portland on July 18. The woman was as unidentifiable as the men, wearing only a mask and a knit cap. She appeared, danced, and then sat to expose her vulva to the men. Photo showing nudity after the fold.