Open Thread: Zuckerberg Just Wants A President He Can Work With

This is not fair to Buttigieg; Zuckerberg is most comfortable treating politics as another form of boutique consumerism, and his social circles overlapped with Buttigieg’s back in college. From CBS:

… “This shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement. We have several mutual friends in college who introduced me” several years ago to the future presidential candidate, Zuckerberg said…

Zuckerberg also had been asked by CBS News whether he made similar overtures to other presidential campaigns, but he did not answer that question.

News of Zuckerberg’s outreach to Buttigieg was first reported Monday by Bloomberg News, which reported that Zuckerberg, 35, and Buttigieg, 37, attended Harvard University at the same time and had mutual friends. While at Harvard, Zuckerberg developed the now omnipresent social media platform, originally just for Harvard students. Buttigieg was one of Facebook’s first 300 users…

A campaign spokesperson said the recommendations were unsolicited and that the campaign received 7,000 resumes over the course of a month from Buttigieg’s CNN town hall in March to the campaign’s April launch…

It has been widely reported that Zuckerberg regards Elizabeth Warren as a serious threat to his control of Facebook’s monopoly. It is also obvious that Biden’s frontrunner status has made him a primary target of Russian bot activity on social media, including Facebook — no point duplicating efforts, right? The Sanders campaign doesn’t seem to have drawn much attention from Zuckerberg, for whatever reason (my best guess would be unsympathetic). Under the circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that Zuckerberg is casting around for a more sympathetic Democratic frontrunner-in-waiting… and it’s hardly Buttigieg’s fault that Jeff likes his potential.

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Throwback Tuesday:

Brief enough for Donny Dollhands to… well, have someone read to him:

… The four-page document divides the narrative into three categories: the “shakedown,” “the pressure campaign” and “the cover up.”

The document first cites the rough transcript released by the White House last month of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that call, Trump told Zelensky that he would have his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr reach out to “get to the bottom” of “a lot of talk” about the business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

The fact sheet then cites text messages that former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker provided to the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry that show discussion between diplomats about the Trump administration’s efforts to push for the investigation as evidence of a “pressure campaign.”…

The document from Pelosi then concludes that the intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry details evidence of a “cover up” by White House officials to “lock down” records of the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky by transferring the transcript to a separate electronic system used to handle particularly sensitive classified information…

Late Night Open Thread Reminder: There ARE No ‘Better’ Republicans Than Trump

Just some who are slightly more professional in their kleptocracy:

There seems to be a shift among the Permanent GOPers to act as though the Oval Office Squatter is some kind of aberrancy that slipped past their time-tested barriers to such vulgar criminality.

Good for them, if they’re finally moving away from protecting their deplorables’ god-emperor. But the truth is, the only difference between this maladministration and the ‘usual’ Repub stint in the WH is that Trump insists, gleefully, on saying the quiet parts out loud.

What Would It Take For Turkey To Build A Nuclear Bomb?

That was how David Sanger teased his and William Broad’s article on Twitter.

Unfortunately that is not how the article is written. If you want to read it, write it, they say, so here goes.

In September, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads,” but the West insists “we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept.”

This is concerning because Turkey is one of the nations that could be capable of building a nuclear weapon and may have taken steps in that direction in the past. Iran’s past work on nuclear weapons and Saudi Arabia’s inordinate interest in acquiring the nuclear fuel cycle could motivate Turkey in that direction again.

But this is one statement, and there is no evidence that Turkey is taking steps toward a nuclear weapon.

Step 1. The decision. The Turkish government would have to decide to withdraw from or violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which they joined in 1980. Building nuclear weapons would also damage, and possibly violate, their treaty obligations under NATO. The cost of a nuclear weapons program would have to be considered as well. Turkey probably could support such a program, but at great cost to the rest of Turkey’s economy. No such decision has been taken.

Step 2. Mining and milling uranium. Sanger and Broad refer ominously to Turkey’s uranium deposits as one of the “makings of a bomb program.” But increased activity at mines is easy to see on overhead photos, and none has been reported. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the open-source intelligence organizations prepare a report in the next few weeks.

Step 3. Building centrifuges and/or a reactor. Turkey may have some of the information necessary; Sanger and Broad note that information from A.Q. Khan may have reached Turkey, although they do not say what or if it is being used to build centrifuges. Russia is building four commercial reactors at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean  coast. Other projects have been proposed but are still on paper.* Russia’s reactor contracts always include taking back the spent nuclear fuel.

Step 4. Fabricating reactor fuel. Sanger and Broad note that Turkey has done some of this at pilot scale.

Step 5. Recovering plutonium. Spent nuclear fuel, if Turkey retained it from the reactors not yet built rather than contractually sending it back to Russia, can be reprocessed to separate plutonium; Sanger and Broad say that Turkey has done some work in this area, but do not specify at what scale. Bench-scale experiments seem most likely.

Step 6. Fabricating enriched uranium or plutonium into a bomb. There is no evidence that Turkey has looked into this, in terms of materials processing or design.

Bottom line: A lot would have to happen before we need to worry about Turkey getting a nuclear bomb. The alternative would be to take the American bombs at the Incirlik Air Base, but once again, the decision to do that seems far from the current position of the Turkish government.

Here’s one of the reports referenced by Sanger and BroadThe author also posted a Twitter thread, saying clearly that there is no reason to believe that Turkey would pursue a nuclear weapon any time soon.

And, if the Times article had followed the plan that Sanger’s tweet teased, it would have had to conclude that too.


*Thanks to Dan Yurman for information on reactor projects. If you want to know more about the business side of nuclear energy, follow him on Twitter and read his blog.


The Doral Debacle Open Thread: “He’s in the Hospitality Business!”

So Mick Mulvaney told us. And Trump certainly set out a rich buffet for his detractors…

… “He had no choice,” Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and longtime friend of the president’s, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It shouldn’t have been done in the first place. And it’s a good move to get out of it and get that out of the papers and off the news.”

[And you know it just broke Christie’s heart to be called on to explain this for his old frenemy…]

The president first heard the criticism of his choice of the Doral watching TV, where even some Fox News personalities were disapproving. By Saturday afternoon, his concerns had deepened when he put in a call to Camp David, where Mr. Mulvaney was hosting moderate congressional Republicans for a discussion of issues facing them, including impeachment, and was told the consensus was he should reverse himself. Those moderates are among the votes Mr. Trump would need to stick with him during an impeachment.

“I didn’t see it being a big negative, but it certainly wasn’t a positive,” said Representative Peter T. King of New York, one of those at Camp David. He said the group told Mr. Trump’s aides that sticking with the decision “would be a distraction.”…

“I think there was a lot of concern,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the Republicans’ leadership team. “I’m not sure people questioned the legality of it, but it clearly was an unforced political error.”

Mr. Cole said he did not speak to the president directly about it, but expressed relief that Mr. Trump had changed his mind, and was certain that other Republicans felt the same way. “We just didn’t need this,” he said.

By late Saturday afternoon, Mr. Trump had made his decision, but he waited to announce the reversal until that night in two tweets that were separated by a break he took to watch the opening of Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News program…

[Because a guy needs a little ego balm when he’s facing such a hurtful choice.]

“At the end of the day,” Mr. Mulvaney said Sunday, “he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business, and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world, and he wanted to put the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could.”

[A show, he most certainly put on, regardless.]
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