Well, THIS is concerning.

In a New York Times article about the current events going on in Ukraine and the President’s efforts to deal with this situation, there is the following passage regarding a phone call that the President took today from German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

I don’t know what bothers me more–that Merkel said that she thinks the leader of one of the most powerful nuclear armed states in the world, who has embarked on a very dangerous course of action is not playing with a full deck, or that staff thought that this was something that needed to be put out into the world.

 

Updated–added a link to the article.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

177 replies
  1. 1
    kathy a. says:

    this is kinda scaring the shit out of me. i mean, even before this report — haven’t read the article, can’t judge the reliability of the info.

  2. 2
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    I imagine Vlad is under a lot of pressure these days…

    I just posted this a few threads down below. It fits here, I think. Sorry for the repost, but it might be of interest:

    Speaking of numbers, I just noticed that the Ruble is weaker now than at the height of the Great Recession.

    http://www.xe.com/currencychar.....8;view=10Y

    $1 = 36.55 RUB now vs 36.08 RUB in Feb 2009.

    Perhaps that will cause Vlad to re-think things a little…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  3. 3

    Well, on the bright side, the nuclear winter and the destruction of most of the infrastructure of the world should clear up that global warming thing, right?

  4. 4
    SatanicPanic says:

    Oh great, now we get to relive the cold war. And I hated the 80s.

  5. 5
    Waldo says:

    He’s not taking that hockey loss well at all.

  6. 6
    Jerzy Russian says:

    Yes, this does blow. In this case we don’t yet need transcripts of talks between leaders of powerful nations out there.

  7. 7
    patrick II says:

    I remember someone (Nixon?) saying the other side had to believe that you were actually crazy enough to go nuclear for them to fear you.

  8. 8
    JR in WV says:

    Speechless!

    Not because he’s losing it, but because his people can’t handle it.

    Nixon went crazy, but no one knew til after he was long gone. I’m also concerned that someone talked about it to a reporter, who’s editor actually publicized it! Not good.

  9. 9
    Hawes says:

    @SatanicPanic: I dunno. Will REM get back together?

  10. 10
    kathy a. says:

    from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....-live.html

    Here is the full text of the statement by the G7:

    Quote We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine. We call on Russia to address any ongoing security or human rights concerns that it has with Ukraine through direct negotiations, and/or via international observation or mediation under the auspices of the UN or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We stand ready to assist with these efforts.

    We also call on all parties concerned to behave with the greatest extent of self-restraint and responsibility, and to decrease the tensions.

    We note that Russia’s actions in Ukraine also contravene the principles and values on which the G-7 and the G-8 operate. As such, we have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June, until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have meaningful discussion.

    We are united in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its right to choose its own future. We commit ourselves to support Ukraine in its efforts to restore unity, stability, and political and economic health to the country. To that end, we will support Ukraine’s work with the International Monetary Fund to negotiate a new program and to implement needed reforms. IMF support will be critical in unlocking additional assistance from the World Bank, other international financial institutions, the EU, and bilateral sources.

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Hawes: Bob Stinson is dead so we won’t get the best line up of the ‘Mats.

  12. 12
    Hawes says:

    I think David Remnick noted in his piece today on the New Yorker blog, that states – and autocratic states in particular – usually don’t act on some Grand Plan. They are reactive and ad hoc.

    Putin has been living inside his own little reality for a decade now. He has all the signs of that narcissistic personality disorder that dictators ultimately develop. I always assumed he was in on the joke, but maybe he isn’t.

    The siloviki who surround him have it pretty good. I don’t think they want to see the world burn. If Putin is really off his rocker, he’ll have a “stroke” in the next few weeks.

  13. 13
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Hawes: Michael Stipe looked pretty comfortably retired when he made an appearance at that Hurricane Sandy benefit

  14. 14
    Hawes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Well, the Talking Heads are all still nominally alive.

    I just don’t want to go back to acid wash jeans and that motherfucking hair.

    Actually, I would like to go back to HAVING hair, but I don’t think that’s what we’ll be able to pull off.

  15. 15
    GregB says:

    Faaack. When it is some low grade shitheel like Saddam or Noriega or Ghadaffi their detachment from reality will usually get many of their citizens and ultimately themselves killed but when it is someone running the second most nuclear armed nation in the world and he’s off his rocker that is really bad.

    Really, really bad.

  16. 16
    Hawes says:

    @SatanicPanic: It’s all about getting Bill Berry to come back.

  17. 17
    Hawes says:

    Before we all collectively shit out beds, let’s remember that we had 8 years of a President who had the most tenuous grasp on reality.

    I’ll give you three guesses who I meant.

  18. 18
    Lil Lebowski says:

    My first thought was Merkel, the “austerity is good for people” PM of Germany, thinks Putin is out of touch?

    I’m not saying she’s wrong, but someone show me an elite who’s in touch.

  19. 19
    ruemara says:

    On the plus side, I may not have to worry too much about being unemployed in a few months and with my survival instincts, I’ll probably be able to rally quite a community to my side. So there’s always an upside to things.

  20. 20
    catclub says:

    @Comrade Dread: I think a properly calibrated nuclear winter would just cancel out the AGW effects. The problem is timescales. Nuclear winter is very fast. Global warming is hanging on for a long time.

  21. 21
    ruemara says:

    @Hawes: Obama, Obummer and WORSETHANHITLEROBOTNSA!?

  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Hawes: Reagan? Bush II? Coin flip.

  23. 23
    Hal says:

    Taking the newsmax bait; when did Palin predict a Ukraine invasion by Putin? Didn’t she basically say being Governor of Alaska put her in a special position because Russia and Alaska share a maritime border? If Palin even knows where in the world the Ukraine is I’ll eat a raw mooseburger.

    On Putin’s reality. Come on, the man has been making shirtless appearances for years that people have memed to death. Of course he lives in his own world. One in which he is the Crocodile Dundee of Russia.

  24. 24
    mdblanche says:

    Link for that NYTimes article?

    @Comrade Dread: Turanga Leela says yes.

  25. 25
    catclub says:

    @Lil Lebowski: Barack Obama for one. The Pope for two. Al Franken and
    Elizabeth Warren. that is four.

  26. 26
    Hawes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Ulysses S Grant.

    Nah, I meant Shrub.

  27. 27
    Hawes says:

    In more important news, Steve McQueen got robbed of an Oscar, so bring on the nuclear holocaust, I say.

  28. 28
    Mandalay says:

    I don’t know what bothers me more–that Merkel said that she thinks the leader of one of the most powerful nuclear armed states in the world, who has embarked on a very dangerous course of action is not playing with a full deck, or that staff thought that this was something that needed to be put out into the world.

    The claim about Merkel’s words was attributed to “people briefed on the call”. There is not even the usual nonsense about “a senior Administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity…”. Some low level WH official spins a line to some low level NYT reporter, who then becomes the person “briefed on the call”. Easy!

    Why take such poorly sourced claims seriously?

  29. 29
    NotMax says:

    @mdblanche

    May mean Remnick’s New Yorker piece.

  30. 30
    ruemara says:

    Hang on, puking over Matthew’s speech.

  31. 31
    catclub says:

    @ruemara: “So there’s always an upside to things.”
    Again, with a properly calibrated nuclear war, there should be LOT of infrastructure stimulus spending afterwards.
    Of course, too much and currency collapse, plus we have little idea about real effects of EMP.
    We might get our hair mussed too much.

  32. 32
    ulee says:

    Scary shit. Thank you northern states for saving us from our alternative history.

  33. 33
    Lil Lebowski says:

    @catclub:

    I’ll give you the senators, but Obama certainly not. He has yet to grasp that in the real world things really are quite bad and not getting better for millions. Just my opinion though, I voted for him.

    The popes a bit more complicated. Being an atheist I can’t really say that the head of a theist organization is in touch, but he does seem to understand and care about the little people.

  34. 34
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lil Lebowski:

    He has yet to grasp that in the real world things really are quite bad and not getting better for millions.

    Oh, bullshit.

  35. 35
    feebog says:

    12 Years a Slave for best Pic.

  36. 36
    Karmus says:

    I think people just need to calm down. No, the idea of someone out of touch with reality with his finger on the button is not good, but it’s always going to be something.

    Unless the idea of living in a permanent state of DEFCON-4, threat level red, duct-tape-and-plastic wrap, post-9/11 hysteria is appealing, it’s probably time to chillax a bit. As Hawes pointed out ~@18, we did survive Shrub, after all.

    In other news, I know it’s not healthy, but I just enjoyed something far more than I expected. Take one extra-large convenience store burrito, the kind made for the microwave, add slivers of extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, leftover Whataburger picante sauce, and salsa…

    Oops, I sense John Cole glaring at me. Never mind.

  37. 37
    Hawes says:

    @feebog: THANKS OBAMA!

  38. 38
    catclub says:

    @Lil Lebowski: I would guess he has grasped that fact quite well.

    but jumping up and down about it a) is Definitely not his style b) would accomplish very little.

    What would he do differently now, assuming that he just grasped said fact?

  39. 39
    Xantar says:

    @Lil Lebowski:

    I’ll give you the senators, but Obama certainly not. He has yet to grasp that in the real world things really are quite bad and not getting better for millions.

    What’s he supposed to do? Give a speech telling us all that life sucks? Use the bully pulpit?

    I fully believe Obama recognizes how bad things are, but I also recognize that he’s a politician which means he doesn’t say everything that pops into his head. Sometimes he even bluffs.

  40. 40
    catclub says:

    @Karmus: “Oops, I sense John Cole glaring at me. Never mind.”

    Just put a bit of quinoa on the side – all good after that. That and cheetos.

  41. 41
    Roger Moore says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Reagan? Bush II? Coin flip.

    I was going to say, “Just one? I can think of a couple.”

  42. 42
    Karmus says:

    @catclub: All out of cheetos, but I did splurge on a big bag of Chester’s Flamin’ Hot Fries.

    Do you know if Cole ever replaced his Subaru? I may need to retreat to my panic room*.

    *By which I mean, “stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape.”

  43. 43
    JGabriel says:

    NYT:

    Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

    Ah. So that’s why conservatives love him. They’re all on another planet together, a place the sane among us can never reach, a place Beyond The Wingularity.

    .

  44. 44
    Roger Moore says:

    @Karmus:

    Do you know if Cole ever replaced his Subaru?

    Next thread over, bub!

  45. 45
    Karmus says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Next thread over, bub!

    D’oh! I hate it when that happens.

  46. 46
    Lil Lebowski says:

    @Xantar:

    I’d like to see some student loan reform, and maybe some acknowledgement that becoming the party that raises taxes and cuts social security isn’t the best way forward.

    I’m not a green lantern presidential power theorist and I don’t want him to jump up and down, but there absolutely are things he can do without congress that he isn’t doing. So I can only assume he doesn’t want to do them, probably because he doesn’t think they are a big deal. There may be other reasons but without another election to face that seems the most likely.

    If that’s bullshit well, it’s just my opinion.

  47. 47
    ulee says:

    Putin on Ambien. Sleep-warring. These meds, ambien, xanax, clonazepam are everywhere. It’s just a pill away.

  48. 48
    Roger Moore says:

    @Lil Lebowski:

    but there absolutely are things he can do without congress that he isn’t doing.

    List, plz.

  49. 49
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mandalay:

    There is not even the usual nonsense about “a senior Administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity…”. Some low level WH official spins a line to some low level NYT reporter, who then becomes the person “briefed on the call”. Easy!

    Not so fast. A person who’s “briefed on the call” leaves a LOT of cushion from immediate blowback. How was Scooter Libby described when the Plame Affair story first broke? Wasn’t it something like “former Senate staff-person”?

  50. 50
    Avery Greynold says:

    Putin as Hitler2 is so easy to pitch. Olympic pageantry to whip up nationalism. Common enemy of the gays to hate. Now we have Putin annexing a territory based on Russians living inside it. Just add that he is crazy.

  51. 51
    Mandalay says:

    @JGabriel: It’s worth pointing out that the NYT is currently the only source for the claim that Merkel said Putin is “In another world”. No other American or German paper is reporting that remark AFAIK, even though it would be highly newsworthy if it really happened.

    That doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen, but it seems pretty unlikely to me.

  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lil Lebowski: Student loan reform? How about this?

    Which Social Security cuts?

  53. 53
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: No Reagan, no Bush I, no Bush II. Reagan wins that flip.

  54. 54
    patrick II says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    An eloquent and appropriate rebuttal.

  55. 55
    JGabriel says:

    Hawes:

    Before we all collectively shit our beds, let’s remember that we had 8 years of a President who had the most tenuous grasp on reality.

    Right. The most recent being the one thought he won a mandate despite losing the popular vote, who let terrorists attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then let their evil mastermind get away with it until the next president came along, who blew a 3 trillion dollar surplus, who invaded a country under false pretenses, then joked about it at the White House Correspondents Dinner, who lost a city to hurricane. and who, for a final flourish on his way out the door, crashed the global economy, plunging us into the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, just in time for the next guy to deal with the economic fallout.

    That president?

    Frankly, if Putin’s grasp on reality is anywhere near as tenuous as Bush the Younger’s was, then, yes, that would be unquestionably worthy of bed-shitting.

  56. 56
    Lil Lebowski says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I have a feeling nothing I have to say is going to change the way either of us think, and I also get the feeling that you don’t care for me for whatever reason, but surely you’ve heard of chained CPI?

    We are the richest nation in the world with one of the stingiest social insurance programs. Making it more stingy is the wrong way to go. I know he can’t unilaterally change the program but running as “the adults in the room” willing to make “hard choices” seems like bad strategy and bad policy.

    And yeah, I’ve seen that website on student loan reform and somehow forgot about it, thanks for bringing it back into my memory.

  57. 57
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Which Social Security cuts?

    I was wondering about that too.

  58. 58
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lil Lebowski: Chained CPI never happened, did it?

    ETA: I actually think that putting any kind of social security cuts on the table was a mistake. OTOH I also think that Obama knew he could safely do so because the GOP was too stupid to take yes for an answer.

  59. 59
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Lil Lebowski: Chained CPI was an olive branch that was offered to the GOP as part of the “Grand Bargain”. Obama was told by said GOP to shove that olive branch where the sun don’t shine. It is not part of his next budget.

    ETA: What Omnes said.

  60. 60
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mandalay:

    Could be that the NYT’s source is a native German speaker who handled the translation on his/her own. “[P]eople briefed on the call,” is, again, broad, and it doesn’t only broadly cover offices, but nationalities, also, too. Could the source be someone inside the German delegation to the UN or staffers inside the German Embassy?

  61. 61
    Xantar says:

    @Lil Lebowski:

    Chained CPI. You mean the Chained CPI that never actually happened and which isn’t in Obama’s latest budget?

    THAT is your proof that Obama is out of touch?

  62. 62
    Cervantes says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    Oh great, now we get to relive the cold war. And I hated the 80s.

    The Cold War started right around the time Hitler’s corpse descended to room temperature!

  63. 63
    Mandalay says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    Could the source be someone inside the German delegation to the UN or staffers inside the German Embassy?

    I hadn’t considered that possibility, but I suppose so.

    But if the Germans were the source (for reasons I can’t fathom) rather than the Administration, then the leak would surely have been more widespread. As it is, the only source is the NYT, a well known disseminator of government misinformation when it comes to international crises.

  64. 64
    Petorado says:

    Of course Putin’s going to be talking like he’s in another world. He’s carefully cultivated the image of the world’s most macho leader, and now he’s in a situation where his nuts are really on the line. Does he play to type and get into a disastrous invasion, or does he back off like a wiser leader would but look like a sissy? To this point, Putin has always been able to be the obstinate third party prima donna, foiling plans for peace in other parts of the world with a simple “nyet”, burnishing his tough guy image. But now he’s center stage and all the failure will accrue to him. His troubles in Ukraine have not gone according to his script and that has to be freaking him out. Putin’s never really been called to account before and I think now we’ll see that he’s not quite the KGB chess master he’s been portrayed to be.

  65. 65
    Wag says:

    @Hawes:

    This.

  66. 66
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mandalay: yep. Also, it isn’t wise to have reported that. Merkel is actually going to be very imortant in solving this problem. This is one of those “gee thanks, self important nut. As if her job isn’t difficult enough” indiscreet leaks.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suffern ACE: She should know not to have those kinds of conversations on her cell phone.

  68. 68
    Cervantes says:

    @patrick II:

    I remember someone (Nixon?) saying the other side had to believe that you were actually crazy enough to go nuclear for them to fear you.

    Here’s Allen Matusow (“Nixon as Madman,” Reviews in American History 27.4 (1999), pp. 623-629), reviewing Nixon’s Vietnam War by Jeffrey Kimball (1998):

    In a famous conversation during his 1968 campaign for the presidency, Richard Nixon confided to H.R. Haldeman, “I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war” (p. 76). The Madman Theory provides the narrative thread for Jeffrey Kimball’s significant new book on Nixon’s search for “peace with honor” in the Vietnam war. […] The Nixon who emerges from Kimball’s account, Nixon as Madman, is something less than the diplomatic genius of revisionist legend or his own mythology.

    Kimball uses the Madman Theory to explain Nixon in two ways. First, Nixon encouraged belief in his capacity for madness as a way to instill fear in his adversaries and bend them to his will. […] As [president], Nixon concluded that mad threats, especially if issued by a leader perceived as unstable and unpredictable, might coerce the North Vietnamese to settle another war on U.S. terms.

    Kimball also uses madness as a metaphor for describing Nixon’s psychology. Nixon, he suggests, suffered from a personality disorder that predisposed him to the diplomacy of threat. “Nixon’s behavior,” writes Kimball, “may have exhibited features that were paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, [and] passive aggressive” (p. 12). Time and again, an insecure president who feared the appearance of weakness would shift from depression to manic activity, from paralyzing uncertainty to spasms of violent rage. These rages, Nixon believed, rages born of both policy and temperament, could stave off defeat in Vietnam. If ever a belief proved to be delusional, it was this one.

  69. 69
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Lil Lebowski: the entire chained CPI thing was only ever in conjunction with a package of other changes to Social Security that specifically included raising the minimum benefit. IOW, the people who would be most affected by chaining CPI _and also doing other stuff because there is no chaining CPI without other stuff_ would not be the poorest, most hurting people. You can think it’d be a bad idea, and you might not be wrong, but it’s definitely not for the reason that it hurts the people who need it most.

  70. 70
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: yeah. I would have opened the call to Obama with “so how do you think my call with Putin went?”

  71. 71
    Cervantes says:

    @Lil Lebowski:

    He has yet to grasp that in the real world things really are quite bad and not getting better for millions.

    I know you said it was just your opinion. But what would he have to do — something feasible, I mean — in order to shift your opinion in a positive direction?

  72. 72
    Cervantes says:

    @kathy a.: There appear to be some significant omissions in that statement.

  73. 73
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: Such as? It seems to be typical condemnatory pablum to me.

  74. 74
    Anne Laurie says:

    @SatanicPanic: Wasn’t a whole lot of fun to grow up during the first wave, either. Sample fiction:

    Earth Abides (1949)
    Shadow on the Hearth (1950)
    Alas, Babylon (1959)

    The people who protested Reagan loudest were those of us who grew up knowing that the ‘duck and cover‘ drills were a sorry farce.

  75. 75
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)

  76. 76
    Anne Laurie says:

    @NotMax: Good one!

    Also, The Chrysalids (aka Re-birth):

    A few thousand years in the future, post-apocalypse rural Labrador has become a warmer and more hospitable place than it is at present. The inhabitants of Labrador have vague historical recollections of the “Old People”, a technologically advanced civilisation which existed long ago and which they believe was destroyed when God sent “Tribulation” to the world to punish their forebears’ sins. The society that has survived in Labrador is loosely reminiscent of the American frontier during the 18th century.

    The inhabitants practise a form of fundamentalist Christianity with post-apocalyptic prohibitions. They believe that to follow God’s word and prevent another Tribulation, they need to preserve absolute normality among the surviving humans, plants and animals. Genetic invariance has been elevated to the highest religious principle, and humans with even minor mutations are considered “Blasphemies” and the handiwork of the Devil….

  77. 77
    Lil Lebowski says:

    @Cervantes:

    On chained CPI, that train is gone. It’s not in the budget and kudos to him for that, but I don’t doubt he’d take a deal inducing it even now if he could, so other than him saying “I was wrong”, I can’t imagine changing my mind on that. And he’d never do that, since admitting mistakes is something no politician does with any regularity.

    He could order anti discrimination for LGBT contractors with the federal government, and he hasn’t. I’d like to see it.

    He could reform the NSA, and he would have a good bit of freedom there in terms of staffing and procedures as the commander in chief.

    He could reform the no fly list so it isn’t such a Byzantine nightmare, and that would be good, too.

    He could take his responsibility to nominate judges a little more seriously; I understand congress is blocking him there, but in many cases names haven’t even been offered and that’s inexcusable.

    I support Obama; really I do! I’m glad he is president and not a Republican, but that’s not to say there aren’t things he could do to make peoples lives better that he isn’t doing.

    I also recognize that he can’t do much about the economy at this point, although in 2009 he could have and should have gone bigger with the stimulus package instead of making it not as effective in order to try for republican votes, but that’s old news.

  78. 78
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anne Laurie: Those of us born in the mid-60s knew that the climatic war would never really happen. I served in the army right on the IGB; we knew nothing really bad was going to happen. The proximity to the border got us more money for training. so we were good at our jobs but that was it. Fear of nuclear annihilation was gone.

  79. 79
    mtiffany says:

    I don’t know what bothers me more–that Merkel said that she thinks the leader of one of the most powerful nuclear armed states in the world, who has embarked on a very dangerous course of action is not playing with a full deck, or that staff thought that this was something that needed to be put out into the world.

    Sounds to me like she learned her lesson from Dubya and this time decided to speak up rather than than keep quiet.

  80. 80
    Xantar says:

    @Lil Lebowski:

    You’ve traveled a really long way just in this thread from claiming that Obama is out of touch and doesn’t realize that things are bad for millions of people. Remember when you said that?

    Yeah, Obama can do things better. Nobody is disputing that. But to claim he’s out of touch as you originally did? That’s what got the instant reaction of “bullshit” from so many people. And you’ve done nothing to back yourself up.

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Well, you could have let those of us born in the late 1960s in on the secret, because we were fucking terrified that Reagan was going to get us nuked.

    At my high school, we took some comfort in the thought that we were pretty close to some missile silos, so we would probably be vaporized outright instead of having to die slowly from the fallout.

    ETA: This was approximately 1982-1987.

  82. 82
    Lil Lebowski says:

    @Xantar:

    Ok, you win.

  83. 83
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Happen to remember this nuclear weapon safety precaution?

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Really? I never thought that was possible.* No one in Russia wanted to die. We didn’t either. Who the fuck was going to give the order that would kill everyone? We do that bit by bit.

    *The Government Department at Lawrence University was very good.

  85. 85
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mandalay:

    I think you’ve got to start thinking outside the box. Does the Times disseminate for the US government? Sure. But is that its only function? If they get a juicy tidbit like this, what’s it hurt to run with it?

    And if you’re the Germans, and you’d like to, say, get the Russians to quit fucking you with threats to the natural gas supply, but you can’t really do it all by yourself (or even with all of your pals in the EU), why not get the p.r. campaign going in the States, get the people to push the US government to apply the desired amount of pressure on the Russians? Seems like a better strategy to leak it directly to the Times than leaking it back home in hopes that some US media outlet- a media outlet which influential amongst those with influence on the present administration (read: NOT FOX NEWS)- picks it up.

  86. 86
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Mnemosyne: You were in the second wave. I was born in 1955, and The Fear was strong among us — the nuns actually ‘reassured’ our third-grade class that we wouldn’t have to worry about surviving in a postapocalyptic world, because the Bronx would be turned into a sheet of radioactive glass.

    OO was from the fat’n’happy interregnum, when ‘those cold war fantasies’ were dismissed as so much anti-American pessimism.

    Then Reagan doddered out, babbling pre-Fear happytalk at the behest of his military-industrial-complex handlers, and gave your generation a whole new Fear to grow up with.

    But Europe broke the worst of its postwar fever in the late 80s/90s, and since then a whole new ahistorical generation has arisen, so the M-I-C neocons are snuffling after a another bite of the Dr. Strangelove (1964) apple…

  87. 87
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Obviously you trusted Reagan a lot more than I did. When I was in high school, I thought he was a crazy, senile old man who would be happy to blow up the world. And I was raised by Republicans, mind you.

    Plus big TV movies like this one didn’t help. Or movie/movies like this one.

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NotMax:

    Not my state, so I don’t remember hearing about it. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs where Great Lakes Naval Station and Fort Sheridan were, so between that and our proximity to Chicago, we were pretty confident we would be in the radius to get vaporized.

  89. 89
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Step the fuck back. I didn’t trust Reagan. I just didn’t think that the system would let it happen.

    Who watched those movies? I had rugby practice, drinking, and a few papers to write in 1983.

  90. 90
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Such as?

    Well, for one thing, compare these two short passages:

    [G7 Leaders Statement, March 2] We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine.

    [Readout of President Obama’s Call with President Putin, March 1] President Obama spoke for 90 minutes this afternoon with President Putin of Russia about the situation in Ukraine. President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act.

  91. 91
    AxelFoley says:

    @Lil Lebowski:

    I’ll give you the senators, but Obama certainly not. He has yet to grasp that in the real world things really are quite bad and not getting better for millions. Just my opinion though, I voted for him.

    The popes a bit more complicated. Being an atheist I can’t really say that the head of a theist organization is in touch, but he does seem to understand and care about the little people.

    Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit.

  92. 92
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Still remember when the elementary school replaced all the sturdy student desks with new ones which did not have the seat attached to the desk, so we would be able to scoot underneath.

    (Parents bought one of the old desks for next to nothing and that was my designated spot to do homework.)

  93. 93
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I’m with you on this. You and I grew up with detente and Soyuz-Apollo, ya know? I recall learning bout nukes and the earlier scares at roughly the same time, and thinking that it was mainly scare tactics. I mean, if it didn’t happen when my parents, back in the mid-’50s, were my age, and it didn’t happen in ’62…I figured Reagan was all talk.

  94. 94
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Who watched those movies?

    In the case of The Day After:

    The original air date (on ABC) was November 20, 1983. Over 100 million Americans were estimated to have viewed the program. Still rated as the most watched ever TV movie on US television as of December, 2012 (not including miniseries), it was watched by 38.55 million households or 46.0% with a Neilsen share of 62%.

    But, hey, if you weren’t aware of what was going on, that means it must not have been very important.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: It is late and I may well be missing some detail, but both seem like standard political pablum without much substance. Both are close to what I would expect in the early days of a crisis. If I missed something, please let me know.

  96. 96
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @NotMax:

    …so we would be able to scoot underneath.

    Riiiiiight. Not because the new tables were cheaper (a lot cheaper) and could serve multiple purposes, but so we could all duck and cover more effectively.

  97. 97
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: I apologize for the fact that my adolescent experience did not match yours.

  98. 98
    Bobbo says:

    What is this concerning?

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    A few others from the same decade:

    Threads (1984)
    WarGames (1983)
    The Atomic Cafe (1982)
    The Manhattan Project (1986)
    Whoops Apocalypse (1982)
    Special Bulletin (1983)
    Ground Zero (1987)
    Barefoot Gen (1983)
    Rules of Engagement (1989)
    When the Wind Blows (1986)
    Miracle Mile (1988)

    Nope, nothing in the zeitgeist there at all.

  100. 100
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I was drinking Stroh’s and/or smoking weed in East Lansing. I was probably listening to Echo & The Bunnymen or R.E.M.. I wasn’t watching tv.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I guess you didn’t go to the movies or watch TV much.

    “Shall we play a game?”

    Anything? At least name the lead actor?

  102. 102
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    All made by people who grew up during the height of the ’50s/’60s scare.

  103. 103
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    We watched The Day After for school. And then wrote reports about it. So, yeah, quite a different experience of adolescence.

    Add in the Challenger blowing up during school hours, and it was quite a four years of being convinced the government was going to manage to accidentally kill us all.

  104. 104
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    “How about a nice game of chess?”

    That one?

    (Total Millennial here, but it’s one of my dad’s favorites. Even though he’d grown up long before it aired).

  105. 105
    NotMax says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)

    To quote old-time radio: “Vas you dere, Sharlie?”

    I guess the flyer the school system had each of us carry home announcing that all the old desks would be up for sale and why they were being replaced over holiday break (to comply with Civil Defense recommendations) was just to mollify penny-pinchers.

    This took place within spitting distance, time-wise, of Joe McCarthy being lionized.

  106. 106
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chris:

    That’s the final line, yes.

  107. 107
    Mnemosyne says:

    There was also this cheery little ditty from 1985. But no one was worried about nuclear war except me.

  108. 108
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: You are right, of course. My friends and I who were concerned about apartheid in South Africa were simply dipshits because nuclear war was really likely to happen.

  109. 109
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Oh, boo hoo. You don’t remember the 1980s as well as you thought and now you’re pissed off at me for it.

    Seriously, you don’t remember The Day After? At all? That’s like not remembering Roots.

  110. 110
    Cervantes says:

    @Chris: OT: My short and disgracefully incomplete answer to your (implied?) question the other day about Bush’s invasion of Panama is: The Panama Canal. I’d be happy to write a slightly longer response there tomorrow if you like.

  111. 111
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax

    Also should note that it was only after the replacement that multiple yellow and black metal signs sprouted on and in the school, designating it an approved fallout shelter.

  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Five or so years makes a huge difference. I have never seen The Day After.

    I am not pissed off at you. I originally commented about people born in the mid-60s; per your comments you were born later. Your neuroses are not necessarily mine, nor are mine yours.

  113. 113
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    By the time I got to college, divestment was a done deal, and the shantytowns had been dismantled. So, yes, just a couple of years difference can be a huge gap.

    I’m just trying to point out that it was a HUGE cultural issue in the 1980s, even if you didn’t notice it. 100 million viewers is not something that can be handwaved away as, Eh, we all knew Reagan wasn’t really going to launch any nukes.

  114. 114
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @NotMax:

    This took place within spitting distance, time-wise, of Joe McCarthy being lionized.

    Really?!?!

    Maybe our school district bought its old single-seaters shortly before McCarthy’s heyday, because I don’t recall sitting at tables until 6th grade- 1976.

    @Mnemosyne:

    In my formative years, along with detente and Soyuz-Apollo on the upside were winding down of the war in Vietnam and further inroads for civil rights. On the downside were the winding down of the war in Vietnam, busing and attendant race riots, Kent State, the oil embargo, inflation, unemployment, Patty Hearst and the SLA, Squeaky Fromme trying to assassinate Ford, made-for-tv movies warning of the dangers of Angel Dust (and Quincy warning against ludes)…I could go on and on, but it was a fucking weird decade with a lot of problems that seemed much closer than nuclear war.

  115. 115
    Mike G says:

    Merkel said that she thinks the leader of one of the most powerful nuclear armed states in the world, who has embarked on a very dangerous course of action is not playing with a full deck

    She has past experience with this, having dealt with the Smirking Chimp and his surprise backrubs for four years.

  116. 116
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Again, as originally stated, people born in the mid-60s do not necessarily share your view. If you read my comments, you will not find more than that. If your interest is in starting a fight about the views of teenagers in the 80s, I’ll pass.

  117. 117
    Chris says:

    @Cervantes:

    Oh. Thank you. I’d forgotten about that already.

    I’d be happy to read a longer response if you’ve got one, but don’t feel obligated.

  118. 118
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    I think that’s the Reagan Difference — he solved all of those problems, don’t’cha know! Law and order! Morning in America!

    But, of course, everyone knew they had just been swept under the rug, which is probably one of the reasons nuclear anxiety raised its head again.

    And, looking over the dates of those films, I’m now wondering if there was another subconscious/semiconscious reason Hollywood started talking about apocalypses again. There was a different apocalypse that had hit the creative community in the early 1980s and was taking an enormous toll with no end in sight.

    Rock Hudson died in 1985. Think about it.

  119. 119
    NotMax says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)

    Obviously cannot speak for every school, only what I experienced. The new desks were single-seaters, Not a table in sight.

    But they didn’t have a large cast-iron pedestal bolted to the floor underneath the center of each desk. The new seats were freestanding and not bolted down, so could be pushed to the side or placed on top of the desk.

    And yes, the new desks still had (old, am so old) inkwells.

  120. 120
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    From what I know of it, “swept under the rug” sounds like Reagan in a nutshell, as well as one of his biggest sources of popularity. We don’t want to hear about all those dreary social problems that’ve been plaguing us for the last twenty years. Tell us a story, Grandpa Ronnie. Tell us how awesome and perfect and Exceptional we are.

  121. 121
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Again, as originally stated, people born in the mid-60s do not necessarily share your view.

    So no one born in the mid-60s was among the 100 million viewers of The Day After? I’m not disagreeing that it was not your top concern, and you were probably much more blase about the possibility than I was as a 14-year-old, but it seems weird to try and deny that nuclear fear was all over popular culture in the 1980s. Hell, “London Calling” was 1979 — a nuclear error, but I have no fear.

  122. 122
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’ll be blunt. You and your classmates were worried for no reason. No one I served with in the late 80s on the IGB remotely believed that a war was remotely likely. We were the people expected to be speed bumps and decorated heroes if the 275th Mongolian Horde ever decided to go west. It wasn’t going to happen. Zeitgeist in your high school or not. Realpolitik wins.

  123. 123
    Cervantes says:

    He has yet to grasp that in the real world things really are quite bad and not getting better for millions.

    @Lil Lebowski: I appreciate your detailed response, thanks.

    On chained CPI, that train is gone. It’s not in the budget and kudos to him for that, but I don’t doubt he’d take a deal inducing it even now if he could, so other than him saying “I was wrong”, I can’t imagine changing my mind on that. And he’d never do that, since admitting mistakes is something no politician does with any regularity.

    The devil is in the details. Some deals are worth making; others not.

    He could order anti discrimination for LGBT contractors with the federal government, and he hasn’t. I’d like to see it.

    Me, too. He did say during the campaign in 2008 that he would support making this sort of discrimination illegal — but I think he has been pretty consistent about doing it for all workers via ENDA (as opposed to an executive order for federal contracts/workers only).

    He could reform the NSA, and he would have a good bit of freedom there in terms of staffing and procedures as the commander in chief.

    Yes, but bureaucracies are extremely proficient in the art of self-defense. Our security apparatus has been “reformed” before and, really, it has only gotten worse each time. Effective bureaucrats are able to grab more power when “reform” is in the air and power is up for grabs. In demanding change, how do we make sure that the change we get this time is positive?

    He could reform the no fly list so it isn’t such a Byzantine nightmare, and that would be good, too.

    No question about it.

    He could take his responsibility to nominate judges a little more seriously; I understand congress is blocking him there, but in many cases names haven’t even been offered and that’s inexcusable.

    No question about it.

    I also recognize that he can’t do much about the economy at this point, although in 2009 he could have and should have gone bigger with the stimulus package instead of making it not as effective in order to try for republican votes, but that’s old news.

    Yes, I was asking about the path forward.

    I support Obama; really I do! I’m glad he is president and not a Republican, but that’s not to say there aren’t things he could do to make peoples lives better that he isn’t doing.

    I do not believe that legitimate criticism of Obama (or anyone) can only come from his (or her) supporters.

    Thanks again.

  124. 124
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Zeitgeist in your high school or not.

    Look. You have the guys in your unit on your side. I have Joe Strummer and Matthew Broderick on my side. As far as forming popular culture and swaying popular opinion go, who was more influential in the 1980s, the guys in your unit or Strummer and Broderick?

    ETA: And, to my point about the other possible underpinnings of the sudden interest in nuclear holocaust, I’m guessing your parents probably didn’t forward your copy of this flyer to you on duty. Kind of a disturbing thing to get in your mailbox right when you’re starting to get to the age where being sexually active sounds like a good thing.

  125. 125
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Conversation needs more giant ants.

    /trying to lighten the mood

  126. 126
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    And, looking over the dates of those films, I’m now wondering if there was another subconscious/semiconscious reason Hollywood started talking about apocalypses again. There was a different apocalypse that had hit the creative community in the early 1980s and was taking an enormous toll with no end in sight.

    Rock Hudson died in 1985. Think about it.

    Don’t over-think it. The heavy hitters of the genre- WarGames, The Day After and Special Bulletin, the productions that spawned the rest (well, except for Atomic Cafe, which came out earlier, and can be viewed as much as a kitschy documentary or a warning against fear mongering as much as a warning against nuclear weapons)- all came out before GRIDS became AIDS, and no one was talking about it but researchers.

  127. 127
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Nuclear error referred to a military use or was it Three Mile Island? Do you want me to be insulting? Nothing I have said denies or denigrates your worries as a kid in the 80s. But if you want, I can call you a dipshit for suggesting that it does.

  128. 128
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NotMax:

    I have a really interesting book I need to pull out again by a British film critic named Kim Newman called Apocalypse Movies, which talks about British and American films from the 1930s (I think) up to the 1990s. It’s pretty interesting, and Newman has a good grasp on the differences between British and American views on nukes.

    Another good one is David Skal’s Screams of Reason: Mad Science and Modern Culture, though that’s more generally about mad science and mad scientists than specifically about end-of-the-world movies.

  129. 129
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @NotMax:

    We had those one pieces for a long time. They were probably made locally by American Seating.

  130. 130
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: The other side of this is that Strummer, who was born in 1952, and Broderick, who was acting in a film written by people several years older than him, are not necessarily emblematic of the thought processes of people born in the mid-60s – the group I originally referenced.

    If you want to talk about any other group, have fun.

  131. 131
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Nothing I have said denies or denigrates your worries as a kid in the 80s. But if you want, I can call you a dipshit for suggesting that it does.

    And then I can call you a dipshit for denying that nuclear war themes were very prevalent in the films and pop music of the 1980s, and we’ll be even.

    The point I’m trying to get across is that my nuclear worries as a kid in the 80s didn’t come out of nowhere — they were all over movies, TV, and music. Sting got to #16 with his song. “Party at Ground Zero” was released in 1985. We all knew the translation of “99 Luftballoons.”

    It’s really weird to me that I keep naming song after movie after TV movie and you’re still denying that nuclear fears were prevalent in the 1980s. How many pieces of evidence do you need?

  132. 132
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You have Joe Strummer on your side (okay, I, again, agree with Omnes on this, because I don’t think there are sides, but different perspectives from people born and raised in slightly different times and places) for ONE song. Strummer and the Clash covered a shit-ton of topics, did they not? It seems to me that their catalog features more songs about racism and poverty than nuclear apocalypse.

  133. 133
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Should you find it, curious what he has to say about The World. the Flesh and the Devil (1959) – which was (very loosely) partially based on a novel from 1901, long before post-apocalypse became a popular genre.

  134. 134
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Jesus fucking Christ, did you read my original comment to AL? I spoke only of people born in the mid 60s. Were you born in the mid-60s? If not, perhaps, you should STFU. I only referred to my contemporaries. You, apparently, are not one of them. As I said before, your neuroses are not mine and mine are not yours.

  135. 135
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    I’ve actually named at least four songs, by different artists:

    “99 Luftballoons”
    “Party at Ground Zero”
    “Russians”
    “London Calling”

    How many do I need before a pattern is established? Because I have a lot more I can add.

  136. 136
    Cervantes says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): No, that “nuclear error” was an allusion to the incident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. There’s another song on the same album — “Clampdown,” maybe? — in which Harrisburg is mentioned, too.

  137. 137
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: I’m working hard in Harrisburg” is from Clampdown.

  138. 138
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    As I said before, your neuroses are not mine and mine are not yours.

    We’re not discussing anyone’s individual neuroses. I’m pointing out that popular culture in the 1980s was permeated with a fear of nuclear war, and you’re denying that. I’ve presented multiple examples stating my case, and yet you keep denying that it was the case because you personally didn’t feel it.

    What the heck did you think WarGames was about, anyway?

  139. 139
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: And it’s on the same album, yes? Or are my neurons mis-firing again?

  140. 140
    Mnemosyne says:

    Cover of Time magazine, March 29, 1982.

    Cover of Time magazine, June 3, 1985.

    Some of jeffreyw’s adorable kittens because, really, this denial is just getting silly at this point and I have to work in the morning.

  141. 141
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m pointing out that popular culture in the 1980s was permeated with a fear of nuclear war, and you’re denying that.

    No. I am not denying that. My comment that started this was: Those of us born in the mid-60s knew that the climatic war would never really happen.

    That is all I said. Don’t try to twist it into anything else.

  142. 142
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: Same album, yes. Track 4, side 2.

  143. 143
    NotMax says:

    @Omnes Omnibus

    (pokes head in)

    climactic war

    Nowadays we are in a climatic war.

    (quickly ducks out)

  144. 144
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @NotMax: Asshole. :)

  145. 145
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You’re really cherry picking. Using your standards, I could make a case that the late ’70s thru the mid ’80s were all about rehashing the Vietnam War. There were films like Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, The Boys In Company C, Platoon, Good Morning Vietnam ; there are songs such as 19, Born In the USA, Goodnight Saigon, Straight To Hell (there’s Joe and The Clash for ya, and they’ve got quite a few more that touch on that war)… See how that works?

  146. 146
    NotMax says:

    @Omes Omnibus

    Thanks, but already have one. :)

  147. 147
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @NotMax: Nice catch though. The “c” does make a difference.

  148. 148
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne: @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    And now that I think about it, what we’re talking about is the Baby Boom generation speaking to some cosmic psychoanalyst.

  149. 149
    Fred says:

    First: This could be spin/prop from WH
    Second: As someone stated up thread, a pretense of irrationality is needed for a bluff to work. Trouble is, after a while the pretense can drift into the reality. Nukes are not good things to have laying around. Not good at all.

  150. 150
    Bruce K says:

    The likelihood of Washington or Moscow making a command decision to kick off World War III may have been unlikely, but if you think the risks of it actually happening were a mirage, I answer with two words:

    Stanislav Petrov.

  151. 151
    Perspecticus says:

    The grain of salt this story should be taken with is big enough to salt the borscht for the entire invasion force for a decade. Far more concerning is the already firmly entrenched theory that Obama can, in any meaningful way, “rein in Putin” as the NYT headline states.

  152. 152
    NorthLeft12 says:

    And the worst part of this story is that the US voters doomed themselves in November 2008 by not electing the foreign policy and security superteam of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

    Honestly, if McCain was president now I think I would already have a bomb shelter built…….and I live in Canada.

  153. 153
    debbie says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    I’ve also heard that the interest rate’s gone up to 7%. Good news.

    Just like they always say: Money talks, bullshit walks.

  154. 154
    Mike in dc says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Speak for yourself, please. I was born in 1967 and considered the prospect of fiery contrails raining down armageddon, several times during the 80s.

  155. 155
    NobodySpecial says:

    I would argue that IF there is a reason mid-60’s kids were not really believing in a chance of nuclear holocaust, it’s because they were in that wonderful phase of going to college and drinking enough booze to blot out most of the following four years or they were playing soldier in Reagan’s Army beating up on guerillas and not paying attention to anything that wasn’t painted green or navy blue.

    I was a bit younger, so I remember being terrified of nukes for years after the Cold War. Between the remnants of the ’50s and early ’60’s culture and the modern European sentiment that was blazing a trail through music (Think Nena, The Fixx, U2, etc.) in the early 80’s, we were fucking scared shitless at home.

  156. 156
    Cervantes says:

    @Bruce K:

    The likelihood of Washington or Moscow making a command decision to kick off World War III may have been unlikely, but if you think the risks of it actually happening were a mirage, I answer with two words: Stanislav Petrov.

    Just three weeks after the Soviets had somehow managed to shoot down a Korean airliner found unexpectedly in Soviet airspace, Petrov stayed his hand, thus averting precisely the kind of accident at the heart of Nena’s (aforementioned) “Neunundneunzig Luftballons.”

    Neunundneunzig Kriegsminister —
    Streichholz und Benzinkanister —
    Hielten sich für schlaue Leute
    Witterten schon fette Beute
    Riefen Krieg und wollten Macht
    Mann, wer hätte das gedacht
    Dass es einmal soweit kommt
    Wegen neunundneunzig Luftballons

    Stanislav Petrov: “I had all the data. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it.”

  157. 157
    Aimai says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: i was born in 1960. I was one of the 100 million who saw “the day after”. I was under no illusion that reagan et al couldnt trip and get us into a nuclear war. Maybe you were too young to remember ” the bombing will start in five minutes?” I sgree with you that most of the language of belligerence seemed fake and contrived but there were lots of right wing politicians who were arguing that a nuclear war was winnable and survivable. And there was so much general incompetence that lots of us assumed accident would lead to nuclear war, rather than intent.

  158. 158
    bjacques says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Where’s the love for Mad Max, The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (not to mention Mad Jack Beyond Thunder Bone)?

  159. 159
    Cervantes says:

    @Aimai:

    There were lots of right wing politicians who were arguing that a nuclear war was winnable and survivable.

    Not only right-wing politicians but also former CIA directors and candidates for the Republican nomination for president. Here’s George Herbert Walker Bush in January, 1980:

    JOURNALIST ROBERT SCHEER: Don’t you reach a point with these strategic weapons where we can wipe each other out so many times and no one wants to use them or be willing to use them, that it really doesn’t matter whether you’re 10% or 2% lower or higher?

    BUSH: Yes, if you believe there is no such thing as a winner in a nuclear exchange, that argument makes a little sense. I don’t believe that.

    SCHEER: How do you win a nuclear exchange?

    BUSH: You have a survivability of command and control, survivability of industrial potential, protection of a percentage of your citizens, and you have capability that inflicts more damage on the opposition than it can inflict upon you. That’s the way you can have a winner, and the Soviets’ planning is based on the ugly concept of a winner in a nuclear exchange.

    SCHEER: Do you mean 5% would survive? 2%?

    BUSH: More than that. If everybody fired everything he had, you’d have more than that survive.

    The interview was tape-recorded and a transcript appeared in the LA Times on January 24, 1980.

    Asked about that very interview four years later during a campaign debate, Vice President Bush said he “was quoted wrong.”

  160. 160
    colby says:

    @Lil Lebowski: He’s done “student loan reform”, he’s cut middle class taxes, and he’s dropped the CCPI proposal (which was only ever an effort to bring Republicans to the table anyway).

    And that is to say nothing that different policy positions than you would take doesn’t mean he can’t recognize the problem.

  161. 161
    colby says:

    @Lil Lebowski: He’s done “student loan reform”, he’s cut middle class taxes, and he’s dropped the CCPI proposal (which was only ever an effort to bring Republicans to the table anyway).

    And that is to say nothing that different policy positions than you would take doesn’t mean he can’t recognize the problem.

  162. 162
    colby says:

    @Lil Lebowski: I appreciate that you’re not really breathing fire about this, and I share a lot of those frustrations; I just don’t think they show that Obama is “out of touch”.

    On CCPI, it should be understood that it was always just a way to get the Republicans to the table in hopes that a Grand Bargain would relieve budgetary pressure and create some room for further immediate stimulus. It’s not the strategy I would have pursued, but I don’t think it shows anyone’s out of touch with current miseries. Moreover, it’s been dropped; as you said, there’s no further any politician is going to go to disavow a policy.

    On chained CPI, that train is gone. It’s not in the budget and kudos to him for that, but I don’t doubt he’d take a deal inducing it even now if he could, so other than him saying “I was wrong”, I can’t imagine changing my mind on that. And he’d never do that, since admitting mistakes is something no politician does with any regularity.

    On LGBT discrimination, the contractor thing would be nice, but he’s also been consistent in his support for ENDA, DADT repeal, a new Hate Crimes Law, and marriage equality. I really can’t slag him much on gay rights, although I did in 2009.

    On NSA and the No Fly, I think he could do a lot more, but I also recognize that bureaucracies are really good at defending their turf, and the national security complex is probably the best. But yeah, one of the best knocks on Obama is that he came into office too trusting of the existing national security state. But I don’t think that means he doesn’t get current suffering, he just (wrongly) sees a different solution to it.

    On judges, he’s actually getting a lot better, but I also question how much that really has to do with being “in touch”. While the federal bench is tremendously important, it works at a level that’s awfully abstracted from most people’s lives. At the most concrete level- the D.C. circuit, which oversees Obama’s administration- he’s gotten the job done.

    On the economy, part of the problem in 2009 was that legitimately very few people fully understood how bad things were, and that they’d only get one bite at the apple. We can talk about how awful the Republicans are, and how we all knew they were awful all we want, but honestly, what they’ve done since 2009 has few analogs in U.S. history- maybe just nullification and secession. I’ll cut someone slack for not seeing that one coming. Moreover, underestimating the apocalyptic nihilism of the Republican Party doesn’t really make you out of touch except with THEM, and I think that’s a feature, not a bug.

  163. 163
    The Pale Scot says:

    Since the Crimean population is over 90% ruskie and has the only warm water port available to the Russian navy I hope the West doesn’t get stupid, Vlad is not going to allow that port to go anywhere. This is like americans moving into northern Mexico and then seceding.

    I found the BBC vid. Threads more frightening than TDA. Maps showing because of population density that 40% of Britain would be directly subjected to blast and firestorms interspersed with nuclear war “theorists” explaining that nuclear war is winnable.

    Alas, Babylon (free Pdf)

  164. 164
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @The Pale Scot: Since the Crimean population is over 90% ruskie

    Oh, come on. It takes 15 seconds, max, with the Google to find it’s less than 60%, not over 90%.

    58% Russian
    24% Ukrainian
    12% Tatar

  165. 165
    The Pale Scot says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Sorry, that’s what I heard from the radio, I didn’t have internet over the weekend and just got back, Haven’t looked at the news yet.

    Edit: But I stand by saying that Vlad’s not going to give up Odessa, there will be coup if he allowed that to happen.

  166. 166
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @The Pale Scot: Odessa isn’t Crimea, and the naval base in Sevastopol was Russia’s anyway under a long-term lease. There was nothing at any risk that justified this invasion.

  167. 167
    Jay C says:

    Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

    Wow – twelve hours and 166 comments inn, and no one seems to have notice what jumped out at me the first time I read this: i.e., that famous 2003 interview with the senior Shrubnik who boasted about “empires” “creating their own reality”, and sneering at the “reality-based community” who reacted and analyzed while the actual tough, he-man rulers just went ahead and DID. I think Chancellor Merkel’s analysis is wrong, I think Pres. Putin knows exactly what he’s doing; is committed to going ahead and doing it; and if he is in “another” world, it’s a Russian-centered one where he doesn’t, and doesn’t have to, give a flying shit about anything any other country or leader has to say.

    Sad to say, there’s almost no downside to Putin’s invasion of the Crimea (and, in effect, its detachment from Ukraine): it’s a nice, cheap, cakewalk “war next door” – he gets to look like The Savior Of The People at home: it being Russia, there’s no domestic opposition, and whatever negative international reaction (short of the military counterstroke that is never going to happen) occurs is, for the most part, an irrelevancy.

    Yep: it’s Big Power Politics at its nastiest, and, whatever the rest of the “reality-based” world thinks, there jack-squat we can do about it in the short term. Long-term, I’m not sure, either.

  168. 168
    Matt says:

    Finally explains the whole Shrub “looked into his eyes” bit – two assholes with delusions of their own grandeur had a fucking MOMENT…

  169. 169
    Cervantes says:

    @Jay C:

    it being Russia, there’s no domestic opposition

    You may want to clarify this thought.

  170. 170
    Elie says:

    @Jay C:

    I agree that there is no obvious way to foil Putin’s plans.At least strong side actions. Of course, his plans are predicated on not needing anything from the west and not having any vulnerabilities that can be likewise exploited.

    He has to hold back something because if he shits the floor too bad, no one in the west has any reason to hold back anything either. Too bad the EU is in love with all that natural gas, etc. But – this is a sometimes unpredictably interconnected world… he will have to be extraordinarily lucky…. He is definitely not crazy…

  171. 171
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Jay C: Yep, definitely Big Power Politics at their nastiest. I’m not of the opinion that Putin forced this confrontation initially; the factor that got out of hand was how badly the Russian-backed former ruler of Ukraine was screwing his own country. I saw some stunning estimate of how much money has been shipped to off shore banks from the oligopoly that was stripping Ukraine; it was a shocking amount for a country that simply doesn’t have much economic power, and now has a collapsed economy thanks to all that stripping. It was the collapsing economy from this mal-governance that forced the people to rise up, and in the process of getting rid of the former president/Russia ally, the resulting power vacuum was too obvious for Putin to resist.

    Putin’s Russia has been casting about for ways to toss their weight around to reclaim some of Russia’s former glory; it is a defining characteristic of how they run their country and its foreign policy. Having their proxy get run out of town by the pissed off Ukrainian citizens rather demanded a big, face-saving reaction from Putin, and he can regain some territory and change the ownership of their only acquirable warm water port? Of course Russia/Putin would do this.

    Let’s all hope they settle for just what they’ve taken so far and things can settle down from here on out. The IMF wants nothing to do with again recapitalizing Ukraine since the money from the last loan effort is now in the Caymans/wherever. Sadly, Ukraine is yet another failed state brought to that condition from flagrant corruption at the top; swooping in to save failed states is a lose-lose proposition no matter how much the US neocons have a hard-on now for whacking at their old Cold War nemesis.

  172. 172
    Gravenstone says:

    @Mnemosyne: Way late to a long dead thread, but I assembled an entire mixtape comprised of Nuclear Fear songs:

    “Nuclear Attack” – Greg Lake
    “Armageddon” – Planet P
    “Static” – Planet P
    “Behind the Barrier” – Planet P
    “It’s a Mistake” -Men at Work
    “Strike Zone” – Loverboy (which, amusingly just scrolled up on my playlist as I was reading the thread)

    These are the ones I recall off the top of my head. So yes, there seemed to be a somewhat pervasive sense of “shit might happen” during the early to mid-80s. And I’m in Omnes’ age cohort, so I guess I am seeing both sides of the argument here.

  173. 173
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    I would argue that IF there is a reason mid-60′s kids were not really believing in a chance of nuclear holocaust, it’s because they were in that wonderful phase of going to college and drinking enough booze to blot out most of the following four years or they were playing soldier in Reagan’s Army beating up on guerillas and not paying attention to anything that wasn’t painted green or navy blue.

    And I’d argue that our ease with the situation was formed in the 1970s, when, while there was a lot of other shit going down, there was a major thaw in the Cold War. By the time I started high school (September, 1979), I figured that if nukes hadn’t been used when the Cold War was at its chilliest- the ’50s and early ’60s- there was little chance they’d be used moving forward. While I certainly thought Reagan was horrible, I figured he was full of hyperbole when it came to his sabre-rattling towards the USSR, playing on fears of the Kremlin for domestic political gains. One need not have been a genius to see that there were no winners in a nuclear war scenario.

  174. 174
  175. 175
    DTOzone says:

    @Lil Lebowski:

    ?surely you’ve heard of chained CPI

    I think the fact that you don’t know Obama killed this proves that there’s no way to change your opinion. You’re delusional.

  176. 176
    Cervantes says:

    @DTOzone:

    @Lil Lebowski: surely you’ve heard of chained CPI

    I think the fact that you don’t know Obama killed this proves that there’s no way to change your opinion. You’re delusional.

    “Delusional,” really? From a White House document released today:

    In last year’s Budget, the President included a compromise proposal intended as a show of good faith to spark additional negotiations with Congressional Republicans about the nation’s long-term deficits and debt and to encourage all parties to come together to remove the economically-damaging sequestration cuts. Although that compromise proposal remains on the table, given Congressional Republicans’ unwillingness to negotiate a balanced long-term deficit reduction deal, the President’s 2015 Budget returns to a more traditional Budget presentation that is focused on achieving the President’s vision for the best path to create growth and opportunity for all Americans, and the investments needed to meet that vision.

  177. 177

    […] really do not understand why many in the media are running with variations the “Putin’s gone nuts” line (and I do […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] really do not understand why many in the media are running with variations the “Putin’s gone nuts” line (and I do […]

Comments are closed.