Saturday, October 22, 2016

four minutes to launch

fawns will say anything

Watching. From 7H porch at the moment, watching the sky, which has not been more clear since we moved here. Never saw Orion so bright, and Sirius the Dog Star. Also watching the presidential campaign, the sky is falling Chinese fire-drill hysteria of misinformation and ignorance in news and online after the Wednesday evening debate, that the Blue candidate's "four minutes" comment imperiled the nation. 

A few weeks ago I watched a television program that described our system and protocol for launching nuclear weapons. It was on primetime after the Red candidate began to sound loose and eager about getting the power and authority to launch nuclear weapons. The tv program seemed intended as a response and assurance that there is no nuclear button, and explained the "nuclear football" and "nuclear biscuit" and the flow of events. Searching to find the program again, I didn’t, but did find the unclassified, readily available online information on which it was based https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2016-nuclear-weapon-launch/


The program was assuring actually, not about any requirement for the president’s judgment and sanity because there is none, the president may be totally off the wall nuts, but about the system’s ability to launch on selected targets with astonishing speed. A clock was used through the program, timing step by step and check by check to show that surface ICBMs could be in the air on the way to their targets within about four or five minutes of the president’s decision and order, submarine launched missiles within about fifteen minutes. Anyone with a television anywhere on earth could have, and probably did, watch the program. It has been forty years since I held a top secret clearance and so I have forgotten a lot, but I was surprised at how much was unclassified until I found the internet link and confirmed what I saw on television that evening.

It was disgusting but not especially surprising, the hair-tearing hysteria that presumably sane but doubtfully well-meaning people stirred up rabidly shrieking that the Blue debate opponent had given away national military secrets with the “four minutes” comment. Either intentional misleading or ignorance ignited by urban legend, it was all too typical of what we are seeing in the campaign, which will be over none too soon, in which nobody hesitates to scream and shout inaccuracies and nonsense and tear their hair about non-events, go rushing round and round the car until the light turns green, and certainly never stop to correct themselves, but pile back into the car and go speeding off to create the next absurdity. This was one such: no military secrets were disclosed, it's all public. We seem increasingly to live in a culture where care with the truth is no longer a factor in our integrity.

Of those in the fire-drill, what occurred to a Narnia enthusiast was the White Witch’s comment to Edmund, who then passed it along to Lucy, “Fauns will say anything.”

Fauns, Fawns, whatever. 

Snopes for President.

W


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