SATURDAY, JANUARY 9, 2021
Incomparable web site prevails: In today's print editions, the New York Times has pushed its report all the way back to page A14.
The Times has refused to credit this site. Very frankly, we understand their reluctance.
That said, the question of Mister Trump and the nuclear codes was finally being discussed last night, even by some of the children on Our Town's "cable news" programs. As the Times has reported, Speaker Pelosi finally forced the verboten topic out into the light.
Sanger and Schmitt prepared the New York Times' report. Their report begins as shown below, hard-copy headline included:
SANGER AND SCHIMTT (1/9/21): Pelosi Pressed Pentagon on Safeguards to Prevent Trump From Initiating Strikes
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Friday took the unprecedented step of asking the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about “available precautions” to prevent President Trump from initiating military action abroad or using his sole authority to launch nuclear weapons in the last days of his term.
In a phone call to the chairman, Gen. Mark A. Milley, Ms. Pelosi appeared to be seeking to have the Pentagon leadership essentially remove Mr. Trump from his authorities as the commander in chief. That could be accomplished by ignoring the president’s orders or slowing them by questioning whether they were issued legally.
But General Milley appears to have made no commitments. Short of the cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment or removing Mr. Trump through impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate, it is unconstitutional to defy legal orders from the commander in chief.
Ms. Pelosi’s request [was] announced to the Democratic caucus as an effort to prevent “an unhinged president” from using the nuclear codes...
As we've noted throughout the past year, the children have been aggressively disappearing the two topics involved in Pelosi's action. We refer to the question of President Trump's mental health, and to the related question of his ability to launch nuclear strikes.
Timorously, Mika Brzezinski seemed to raise the question of the nukes on Thursday's Morning Joe. Timorously, she then joined the rest of the gang in failing to follow up on her initial timorous comment.
So it has gone among the children. For this reason, it was left to Pelosi to push these issues into the light.
Through some miracle of discernment, Pelposi is concerned by the fact that an "unhinged" commander-in-chief continues to have the ability to employ the nuclear codes. Pelosi raised these issues with General Milley, then discussed their conversation in public.
As a result, the children were finally discussing the nuclear matter, at long last, last night.
These "cable news" children today! How hard they've worked, down through the years, to avoid discussing topics which haven't been approved by the corporate owners who pay them their seven- and eight-figure salaries!
(Nowhere has this obedience been more striking than on the Maddow Show, the TV show most often heard as one walks through the streets of Our Town. We may present the long list of those disappeared topics at some point next week. Then again, what's the point?)
At any rate, as of last night, Pelosi's actions had finally pushed this pair of topics out into the light. Having said that, there's no assurance that our disordered commander-in-chief couldn't drop a nuke on Iran, or perhaps on Michael R. Pence's home town:
SANGER AND SCHIMTT (continuing directly): Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for General Milley, confirmed that the phone call with the speaker had taken place but described it as informational. “He answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority,” he said.
But some Defense Department officials clearly resented being asked to act outside of the legal authority of the 25th Amendment and saw it as more evidence of a broken political system. They said that some political leaders were trying to get the Pentagon to do the work of Congress and cabinet secretaries, who have legal options to remove a president.
Mr. Trump, they noted, is still the commander in chief; unless he is removed, the military is bound to follow his lawful orders. While military officials can refuse to carry out orders they view as illegal—or slow the process by sending those orders for careful legal review—they cannot remove the president from the chain of command. That would amount to a military coup, the officials said.
As far as we know, there's no legal way to refuse Mister Trump if he decides on a nuclear strike. This is why we asked, a day or two ago, if any such "fail safe" procedure exists.
At any rate, with twelve days to go, the issue has finally been joined. A commander-in-chief who seems "unhinged" is in charge of our nuclear weapons.
A commander in chief who seems "unhinged" is in charge of our nuclear weapons! But all year long, and long before that, the children to whom we turn for "news" and analysis have refused to discuss the apparent mental illness and the access to nukes.
At this site, we kept on pushing. Now, it has become our most frequently asked question:
Did Speaker Pelosi decide to act as a result of our own relentless behavior?
In the face of this obvious question, we always take the humble approach:
It's true that we both have Baltimore ties, we somewhat sadly admit.
As seen in the Washington Post: The Washington Post placed its own report atop page A2 in today's print editions.
The Post was willing to put the word "nuclear" right in its hard-copy headline. In some ways, though, the Post's assessment sounds even gloomier than the one found in the Times:
LAMOTHE ET AL (1/9/21): The U.S. nuclear command-and-control structure gives the president sole authority to order the launch of nuclear weapons.
As it stands, the president has latitude to order a nuclear strike, even if the United States has not been attacked first with a nuclear weapon.
If the president is considering a nuclear strike, top military and defense officials normally would convene in person and by phone to brief him on options and offer advice, including on whether the action conforms to laws of armed conflict. Then, if the president proceeds, the National Military Command Center would authenticate the president’s launch codes before any strike was carried out.
Milley, as Trump’s senior military adviser, is not in the chain of command and does not have the ability to stop a launch. But he could try to persuade others not to comply. He does have informal influence as the military’s senior officer, so he could try to persuade others not to launch.
“Legally, I can’t think of anything Milley could do beyond reminding everyone who is actually involved in the chain of command that it is illegal to execute an illegal order,” said James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I can’t think of anything else he can do legally.”
On the brighter side, Acton used the word "legally" at least two separate times. Also on the brighter side, we'll guess that discussions like this have been underway, behind the scenes, dating back to 2017.
Have provisions been made to refuse to honor a command to launch a strike—on suburban Indiana, let's say? We have no way of knowing.
But on cable news, the various children have always refused to go to these worrisome places. Instead, they've spent the past several years selling us the product we like:
Sugarplums in which we're encouraged to imagine all The Others locked up.
That's the product the children have sold. Eagerly, we self-impressed people here in Our Town have lapped that product up.