The only thing we have to fear is our all-powerful leader’s nuclear trigger finger…

February 2, 2017

My overriding concern about the Trump presidency is that he alone has the power to launch our nuclear weapons and thus bring about the end of everything. One might ask why he would do that? Gee, why ask why? He is prone to making instant and not always well thought out decisions and his ego is easily bruised. He might feel slighted by something someone says or does or feel his honor is threatened. He is a bully and can’t stand the thought of anyone questioning or challenging him. Or he might just overreact to a legitimate threat. Iran is testing missiles again. And then there is North Korea.

From Politico:

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is “officially putting Iran on notice,” and senior administration officials later refused to rule out military action against the Islamic Republic.

And me writing again:

Meanwhile, who knows what North Korea’s next move is going to be? That country has been threatening and taunting with its continued nuclear weapons testing and missile launches.

Will Trump be goaded to react? It would present a quandary for any president with a rational thought process.

Of course we have faced this peril of basically self-inflicted nuclear annihilation for more than 70 years. Somehow we got through the Cold War and the belligerence of Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union and Richard Nixon as desperate as a cornered rat with the Watergate scandal coming down upon him, drunk in his private quarters with those close to him afraid he might do something outlandish and actually putting out the order to defy the president should he decide to use the nukes. It was thought he might use them to bring his “peace with honor” in Vietnam.

But I keep reading that under the law and policy the president, and only he, has the power and it cannot be overridden. Of course if it really happened, who knows? His order might be defied if it was thought not to be correct.

President Harry Truman was the only president to order the use of nuclear weapons. I’m wondering if he really understood the full implications. It was the first and only use of nuclear weapons in history. It will always be debated whether it was the right decision. The common thinking has been that as cruel as it was, that is dropping two, not one, but two, A-bombs on Japan (they did not seem to get the message with just one), it saved thousands of U.S. servicemen’s lives, avoiding the invasion of the Japanese mainland and bringing the end of WWII.

Several hundred thousand people, mostly civilians, were killed, a large number instantly and then more over time from the effects of radiation.

But the world did not come to an end. But today, there are far more powerful nuclear weapons and too many nations have them. Surely any use now would signal the end of the world.

Since Truman I can only recall one president we might have had concern over pushing the button, so to speak, and that would be Nixon. I don’t think there was concern over George W. Bush, even though he was essentially a Vietnam draft dodger (who reportedly did not serve out all of his required duty in the Air National Guard) and seemed to want to display his warrior worthiness by going to war in Iraq over imaginary weapons of mass destruction. As bad as he was, I doubt he would have gone off his rocker and actually ordered the use of nuclear weapons unless it was truly the last resort for our defense.

After posting all this I realized that the time the U.S. came the closest to a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union during the Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis during the presidency of John Kennedy. I don’t think anyone thought JFK would launch missiles, at least not the first strike, but we did not know what the Russians would do. We learned decades later that we were much closer to a nuclear war than we even had thought. Because of a lack of reliable communication, Russian submarine commanders had been given the authority to launch nuclear weapons on their own – fortunately they did not.


Trump? We just don’t know. He comes across as a man mad with power. Even his own supporters have to have some concern, although they probably just dismiss it all — I mean you can’t get through each day if you worry the world is going to end.

To underscore the weirdness of Trump, before an audience that included foreign dignitaries, at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, he went off script and talked about how bad the ratings were for his former TV Show now that Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken over as host. He jibed Arnold and asked the gathering to pray for him and went on about how “fabulous” everything was when he, Trump, was host. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the Trump personality. But a few are: vain, conceited, self-centered, narcissistic. Can you imagine him actually listening to and absorbing something someone else says, unless it fits his current thought waves?


We all try to avoid thinking about it I think, that is whether it will all end in a nuclear holocaust brought on by a misunderstanding or fit of rage. But that does not mean we don’t face extreme danger.

Maybe we ought to rethink the nuclear weapons policy — such as at least three people, perhaps the president, a military officer, and a cabinet member all have to agree, but time would be of the essence and that might not be practical. I mean what do you have? Ten to 15 minutes? Even that?

Oh, yeah, presidential candidate George McGovern had to dump his running mate Thomas Eagleton because he had seen a shrink. The thought someone with a history of mental problems could assume the presidency and have his finger on the nuclear trigger was the concern.

And even more to the point, Barry Goldwater lost a presidential election in a landslide that saw an opposition ad showing a nuclear bomb exploding in the background with a little girl picking daisies in the foreground. Goldwater had suggested the possible need to go nuclear in Vietnam.

And so some four-plus decades later Donald Trump is elected president. Candidate Trump was rather cavalier about the subject of using nukes and even allowing the proliferation of them, even allowing Japan, of all countries, to develop an arsenal to protect itself from North Korea.

Go figure.


But meanwhile, Trump is reportedly busy badgering our allies I originally read on the Washington Post site. There was a description of rough talk by Trump with Australia’s prime minister over a refugee program and then Trump abruptly ending the call. I think this was an unnamed source story, but it seems plausible, if a bit disappointing.

The $7-gasp over $7-gas…

June 27, 2008



By Tony Walther

Seven-dollar Gas????!!!!

That should make you gasp.

Yes, now there’s some government report that predicts $7-per-gallon gasoline by 2012, and some say by 2010, and the way things are going it might be sooner.

Now so far, in my area, I have not seen any major change in driving habits or the love affair with humongous vehicles, many of which carry around single occupants. But I am sure a lot of people are thinking, do I really need to make that trip? or can I combine errands to reduce trips?

And even if you’ve fallen out of love with your monster gas guzzler you may be stuck with it for awhile.

Also, I don’t get out much due to my health condition and due to not being able to afford gasoline that already costs in the neighborhood of $4.50 per gallon here.

I understand that there is a large global demand for oil, what with the emergence of China and India as new economic giants, but why all the sudden? The increases have come so fast.

The crisis is of course forcing us, at least many of us, into conservation, and into thinking, yes we really do have to come up with some alternatives to oil, and especially foreign oil.

In the short term, I’m thinking, we really need to develop our oil and gas supplies in the United States and North America, but I am not for off-shore drilling –- too much of an environmental risk, and I have seen the ugliness of the platforms north of Ventura.

Also, I know coal is dirty and coal mining is dangerous and in many cases it despoils the countryside, but we sure have a lot of it, coal that is.

Long term – Read an article about hydrogen powered cars, but it was not terribly informing and I understand hydrogen power is not terribly practical anyway and not really efficient (I need to do some research on that one).

And nuclear does not seem to be a good option either, if for no other reason, it is not safe. I know some will argue that point, but the evidence seems to me to say that it is, not safe.

Brazil is using sugar cane to fuel cars. We don’t have enough sugar cane growing areas, I don’t think, and isn’t that like the corn-for-fuel fiasco? –- well not quite, because sugar cane, I understand, is at least somewhat efficient, whereas corn-based ethanol is not, but then again, you’re talking about fueling tractors and other energy inputs and use of land that could otherwise be used to put food on the table.

Wait a minute – God created horses (of course they’re hay burners).

I recall that back in the 70s when the Arab oil embargo first hit that some farmer or farmers back in Illinois went back to horses. Never heard anything more about that, although I did see an Amish farmer one spring in the mid 1990s with a team of horses and a plow in Pennsylvania.

But back to the gasoline thing:

So far, unlike the 1970s, there does not seem to be a shortage. I have not seen gas lines. I have seen a few empty gas stations. And one strange sight I have to mention is when I was searching for cheaper gasoline the other day – you know wasting gas to get cheaper gas – I saw a large vintage boat car pulling out of the station I was at, where the gas was not really cheap, but a little cheaper, and then saw the same car being filled up by the driver at another station where the gas was a tad more expensive (not a major where the driver might have been using a credit card). I don’t know what the story was there. Just thought I’d throw that into the mix.

…I began this blog before I retired last night and now this morning I see that oil is trading on the Asian markets at $142 today. Investment firm Goldman Sachs recently predicted $200 oil in the near future – some say it will peak and then decline somewhat – and Libya is saying it might cut production, and oh, yes, the Dow (measurement of stock market trading) is at its lowest level in two years.

As you can see, I’ve departed from my usual essay format today and am wondering around. So many things going on.

The smoke around here (northern Sacramento Valley in California) cleared on Thursday, but then late in the afternoon we could see a giant plume of orange-tinged smoke in the distance (but it looked close) out our kitchen window (we have an excellent view of the northwest mountains even though we live in the middle of a subdivision with a fenced yard — I guess the house sits up a little high). It was the so-called Motion Fire, several thousand acres, west of Shasta Dam. There are still hundreds of fires around, most sparked last weekend by lightning. More thunderstorms are forecast for tonight and this weekend. And more smoke is forecast for today. And we’ve been getting ashes that drop on you outside, making one appear as if one had a severe case of dandruff (and just when my own real dandruff had cleared up).

And finally, I read through that Supreme Court opinion on the Second Amendment (basically that we do have a right to defend ourselves with guns) and found it to be dense, tortured logic perhaps, and just too many, or at least more, words that were needed to say what many already presumed in the first place, we have a right to keep and bear arms. I’ll have to re-read it, but basically it said that wording about the militia did not really mean you have to be a member of some type of government force –- militia, National Guard, Army –- to enjoy that right, even if the amendment does seem to tie the militia in with the right to keep and bare arms.

As I said yesterday, I am comfortable with the ruling even though I deplore our plague of gun violence, because the right to keep and bear arms has been accepted by most –- at least that’s my opinion. In the hinterlands we may be a little more strident about it. And I like the idea we can defend ourselves or at least are given that option. I may write more on this later. And by the way, I see that yesterday’s ruling does not automatically change any existing gun control laws, except in Washington D.C. The wheels of justice move ever so slowly.

And here’s a thought: rabid gun supporters are often the same folks who don’t much care for American Civil Liberties Union ideas about civil liberties – – the right to a fair trial, habeas corpus, and so on. But just as the conservatives on the high court seemed to rule in the gun enthusiasts’ favor, they also have recently ruled in favor of the right to a trial for those accused terrorists.

Message to those who only believe in civil liberties for themselves and not others: when it comes to Supreme Court conservatism, well you called for it, and you got it. True conservatives want to maintain the status quo. The Constitution and its Bill of Rights has always enumerated civil liberties. Recently conservative high court justices have recognized that.


I’m still promoting my novel, Tuleville Sundown. If you don’t already know about it, check it out by going to your Yahoo search bar and entering:

I’m actually in progress and am posting pages as I go along. It takes place in a small Central Valley California town in the 1950s.