Donald Trump, Nuclear Negotiator

 

One of Donald Trump’s few consistencies has been his admiration of Vladimir Putin and his unwillingness to criticize Russia. Many of his other actions, like his refusal to explicitly support NATO’s Article 5, seem to be consistent with a Kremlin line.

The big question is why. From the information publicly available, this theme seems to have surfaced around the time of his trip to Russia in 1987. That was an interesting time for Russia, too.

The United States and the Soviet Union were installing intermediate-range nuclear missiles across Europe and the nearby part of the Soviet Union. Those missiles guaranteed little lead time to nuclear disaster. People who grew up then have memories much like those of people who grew up in the 1950s.

Economic conditions were deteriorating in the Soviet Union. After a series of terminally ill First Secretaries, the Communist Party chose a lively young up-and-comer, Mikhail Gorbachev, in March 1985. In April 1986, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl power plant blew up, convincing Gorbachev that things needed to change, and quickly.

Like many of us, a New York real estate developer named Donald Trump was concerned about the nuclear arms race. Evidently he spoke about them to Roy Cohn, his mentor, who had been Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel. In 1984, Cohn encouraged Trump to use an interview with the Washington Post to bring up his belief that he could solve the nuclear weapons problem.

Lois Romano interviewed the 38-year-old Trump. The substance of the interview leads off with Trump’s nuclear negotiating ambitions but contains more information about Trump’s ego than any plan he may have had. Trump tells Romano

  • Trump is a gifted negotiator
  • Previous negotiators have been inadequate
  • Trump doesn’t want to reveal his thinking
  • “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles . . . I think I know most of it anyway.”

Later in the interview, he is said to be “talking nonstop about the threat of nuclear war,” but no specifics are given.

Fear of nuclear war was at its maximum in 1983 and 1984. NATO was responding to the Soviet military buildup with a buildup of its own – American Pershing missiles – and talks, which were going nowhere. But, on the other hand, Ronald Reagan said “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” in his 1984 State of the Union Address,

A few years pass, and Ron Rosenbaum interviews Trump on nuclear issues in 1987. By that time, Mikhail Gorbachev was in office, Chernobyl had blown up. President Ronald Reagan met with Gorbachev at Reykjavik in October 1986. Although the two came close to agreeing to outlaw nuclear weapons by 2000, the meeting was generally felt to have failed.

Trump visited Moscow in July 1987. He explored prospects for building a hotel with Intourist, the Soviet hotel and tourism agency. He was invited on that trip, perhaps all expenses paid, by Ambassador Yuri Dobrynin and Vitaly Churkin, who later became Russian Ambassador to the United Nations until his sudden death this year. Trump wanted to meet Gorbachev, but didn’t. No hotel deals came out of the meeting. He did manage to speak to Gorbachev at a State Department lunch in December.

In the three years between Trump interviews, Gorbachev introduced perestroika, restructuring, to improve the Soviet economy. Separatists in the Baltic Soviet Republics formed groups ostensibly to promote perestroika, but in fact those groups were political parties, outlawed in the Soviet Union. Demonstrations for environmental causes were beginning that were the basis for later, more political demonstrations and the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty removing those dangerous missiles from Europe would be signed on December 8.

It’s not clear when in 1987 Ron Rosenbaum interviewed Donald Trump. It would be helpful to know whether it was after Trump’s trip to Moscow or before he paid for full-page ads in major newspapers excoriating “Japan, Saudi Arabia, and others.”

The interview features the bullet points above and a few more themes that we see today:

  • Building up suspense with the interviewer by canceling and renewing the interview
  • Inflating himself by implying high-level connections
  • “The Subject” is utterly secret, but Trump is willing to dish about it in a public restaurant
  • Nobody else understands the danger

Whereas Trump was vague about what aspect of nuclear weapons or war he felt he could address in the Romano interview, he was concerned about nuclear proliferation when he spoke with Rosenbaum.

Among the other nuclear problems, proliferation did not stand out. A large majority of countries had signed up to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which Trump and Rosenbaum believed was coming apart. Brazil and Argentina had been in something of a nuclear arms race with each other, but they were beginning to cooperate in inspections. Trump mentions Libya, but a quick Google search shows no general concern about Libya’s getting nuclear weapons.

Trump also focuses on France as selling nuclear secrets. He offers no evidence for his suspicions. It is too secret to talk about, and he doesn’t want to give away his ideas.

This is the center of Trump’s deal:

It’s a deal with the Soviets. We approach them on this basis: We both recognize the nonproliferation treaty’s not working, that half a dozen countries are on the brink of getting a bomb. Which can only cause trouble for the two of us. The deterrence of mutual assured destruction that prevents the United States and the USSR from nuking each other won’t work on the level of an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange. Or a madman dictator with a briefcase-bomb team. The only answer is for the Big Two to make a deal now to step in and prevent the next generation of nations about to go nuclear from doing so. By whatever means necessary.

“Most of those [pre-nuclear] countries are in one form or another dominated by the U.S. and the Soviet Union,” Trump says. “Between those two nations you have the power to dominate any of those countries. So we should use our power of economic retaliation and they use their powers of retaliation and between the two of us we will prevent the problem from happening. It would have been better having done something five years ago,” he says. “But I believe even a country such as Pakistan would have to do something now. Five years from now they’ll laugh.”

With pressure from Rosenbaum, Trump admits that Pakistan might need something offered to them to end their nuclear program. But he also believes that wreaking economic havoc on them to the point where they would have riots in the streets would be desirable. Heavy economic pressure on the French as well.

Rosenbaum recognizes that the argument is poorly thought out, but he likes it. He brings no contemporary events, like the developing INF Treaty, into the discussion.

Neither reporter seems to have much knowledge of the contemporary status of nuclear issues or the USSR, although they knew that both would be part of their interview. Both are highly impressed by Trump’s ability to get a table in a restaurant.

Alexander Lebed, a fringe Russian presidential candidate at the time, drifts through a Trump interview with Mark Singer in 1997 with no substance revealed about Russia or nuclear weapons.

The Rosenbaum interview has been cited as indicating something about Trump’s thinking about nuclear weapons issues and Russia. Rosenbaum might check his notes to see if they contain any more substance than the interview does. I’ll go into more detail on what we might learn from the interviews in a following post.

 

Top photo: Gorbachev and Reagan sign the INF Treaty, December 8, 1987.

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.






238 replies
  1. 1

    […] Cross-posted at Balloon Juice. […]

  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    It’s Nucular, damn it.

  3. 3
    randy khan says:

    This idea that he could learn everything important about a topic like nuclear proliferation or nuclear weapons generally in an hour and a half really tells you everything you would need to know about his ego and lack of understanding that some things really are hard. It makes me wonder how the people who did the engineering for his buildings hid that they ignored everything he said.

  4. 4
    stinger says:

    Demonstrations for environmental causes were beginning that were the basis for later, more political demonstrations and the breakup of the Soviet Union.

    I’d like to learn more about this. All I’ve ever heard is that the USSR broke up thanks to Reagan, Thatcher, and the Pope, in that order of importance. Internal pressures always seemed more likely to me, but I was/am too lazy to do the research.

  5. 5

    @stinger: This is a story that is poorly known in the US. It was mainly internal stresses. And the story is still not easy to find. I’ll get some links (probably tomorrow) and post them.

  6. 6
    japa21 says:

    So this was Trump’s “thinking”. He is such an egomaniac. He is also way out of his debt. Before this is all over, his name will be reviled more than Chamberlain, who at least had some rationale for his decisions, even though they were debatable.

  7. 7
    The Dangerman says:

    I’m having trouble deciding if “Donald Trump, Nuclear Negotiator” is the scariest possible phrase I could see with his name in it. I suppose if I was in an ER, the words “Donald Trump, your Neurosurgeon” might be worse.

  8. 8
    efgoldman says:

    So he was always a clueless blowhard, sticking his proboscis where it doesn’t belong. It’s not just a product of dementia.
    We are a country of ignorant, clueless assholes, and we are getting what we deserve.

  9. 9
    efgoldman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    It was mainly internal stresses.

    I am no student of the Soviet Union, but i always had the impression that state-owned economics finally caught up with them.

  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman:

    So he was always a clueless blowhard, sticking his proboscis where it doesn’t belong. It’s not just a product of dementia. We are a country of ignorant, clueless assholes, and we are getting what we deserve.

    Yes, yes, to some extent, and no.

  11. 11
    Heidi Mom says:

    @japa21: Oh . . . Neville, not Joshua. (Just finished rereading The Killer Angels, so my perspective is a bit skewed.)

  12. 12
    Shantanu Saha says:

    This Trumpian worldview smacks of the Niven/Pournelle future history series that revolves around the CoDominium, an alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union to use their nuclear might to cow the other nations of the world into submission. They wrote the CoDominium novels largely in the 80’s. Perhaps someone read one of these novels to Trump (he can’t have read one himself).

  13. 13

    @efgoldman: Yes, and Gorbachev recognized it. But as a product of the system, he wasn’t able to come up with a solution. He really wanted to save Communism. And it was a difficult problem. The Soviet economy was pretty thoroughly decoupled from the rest of the world. Reintegrating was never going to be easy.

  14. 14
    cain says:

    Goddam it ,the embedded ad had “Trump’s Secret is out” and for some reason I thought that was part of the post! Kept looking for the secret. Instead, I found the secret of Monkey Island.

  15. 15
    Vhh says:

    @stinger: The greatest US policy mistake since WW II was the assertion that we “won” the Cold War. The second greatest mistake was to take seriously Francis Fukuyama’s assertion that this represented the “end of history.”

  16. 16
    Shantanu Saha says:

    @efgoldman: Yes, to a point. It was compounded by their loss of revenue from petroleum sales. Then, as now, the Soviet Union depended for most of its foreign exchange on the sale of oil. The escalating cost of energy in the 70’s brought in the cash, helping paper over the structural economic problems. But with the 80s glut, the plummeting price of oil was the straw that broke the Soviet economy’s back.

  17. 17
    Corner Stone says:

    @Vhh:

    The second greatest mistake was to take seriously Francis Fukuyama’s assertion that this represented the “end of history.”

    Who did that?

  18. 18
    stinger says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I’d appreciate that!

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Neo-cons.

  20. 20
    RepubAnon says:

    @Shantanu Saha: And in those stories, the CoDominium fell apart after the nationalists on both sides began gaining power.

  21. 21
    Corner Stone says:

    @stinger:

    All I’ve ever heard is that the USSR broke up thanks to Reagan, Thatcher, and the Pope,

    Tie your cumber bun a little tighter because we’re about to enter a tsunami of bullshit telling us of the probity and ramrodding uprightness of Bob Mueller that is going to have us looking back on this USSR theory as kindly agitprop.

  22. 22
    hovercraft says:

    So basically his “approach” to nucular, ( h/t OO), is pretty much the same as his approach to everything else, declare our policy sucks, and that he can negotiate a better deal because he’s the world’s best negotiator, and yada yada past the details? This was enough to get his idiot voters to vote for him, but as he and Javanka are discovering, this shit is complicated and you actually have to study and know shit. Who is going to take him seriously on any of this shit, I know that they can’t tell him to go jump, but does anyone think they are going to take his ill informed attempts to solve any real problems seriously?

  23. 23
    stinger says:

    @Corner Stone: LOL

    Tie your cumber bun a little tighter

    This is giving me many enjoyable mental images!

  24. 24
    The Ancient Randonneur says:

    It’s time to clean the filth out of the White House. Period.

  25. 25
    ColoradoGuy says:

    Reagan and Thatcher had nothing at all to do with the breakup of the Soviet Union, despite decades of GOP propaganda to the contrary (this is the story you see at the Reagan Presidential Library). It’s essentially the Big Bad Wolf “I’ll blow your house down” theory of geopolitics.

    What happened is Gorbachev shut off the KGB terror system. It took a while for Russian and Eastern Bloc people to realize what was happening, but the effects speeded up very quickly once the word spread. For pretty much the first ever for a Russian ruler, he did nothing when the Eastern Bloc exploded. He just watched it happen, and must have directly ordered the security services to keep their hands off. The Berlin Wall was destroyed almost overnight while the East German guards stood and watched. The Baltic States rapidly spun off, while East Bloc occupying army stayed in their barracks. All it would have taken was one phone call for the tanks to have rolled and crushed the independence movement.

    Reagan and Thatcher had no power over the KGB security services, nor the Russian armies occupying the Eastern Bloc. That was Gorbachev, taking a calculated risk that Communism with a human face would eventually emerge. He had no way of knowing that Communism without terror would simply fall apart … that terror had been the only thing holding it together since the time of Lenin. The Chinese duly learned this lesson, and have no intention of ever closing their secret prison system.

    It’s interesting to speculate what would happen to the capitalist system without the economic terror of sudden unemployment. My guess is that something very different would emerge, and more quickly than you might expect.

  26. 26
    JMG says:

    I interrupt this thread for the following not to original observation: Kevin Durant is good at basketball.

  27. 27
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Having lived through that time, I can actually believe that the seed of Trump’s Russophilia was a genuine desire to keep the world from blowing itself up in the 1980s. Of course he developed it in idiotic, self-aggrandizing ways.

  28. 28
    Karmus says:

    @efgoldman:

    We are a country of ignorant, clueless assholes, and we are getting what we deserve.

    Shades of George Carlin.

  29. 29
    Mary G says:

    His language skills have deteriorated considerably since the quoted interview. He speaks in complete sentences with words like retaliation and proliferation, even if it is the same old bullshit. “Now it’s just Muslims bad! Sad!”

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Having lived through that time, I can actually believe that the seed of Trump’s Russophilia was a genuine desire to keep the world from blowing itself up in the 1980s

    Please explain.

  31. 31

    @Mary G: The difference is obvious and startling. Something has gone wrong in his head.

    But you knew that.

  32. 32
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Corner Stone: Jesus Jones!

  33. 33

    @cain:

    I found the secret of Monkey Island*

    You did? Please tell, the folk at Noirish LA want to know.

    *Monkey Island was a tourist attraction in LA in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. It was close to where the Barham overpass on the Hollywood Freeway is today.

  34. 34

    @hovercraft: That’s about it. I’ll write a followon post drawing it out some more.

  35. 35
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: There’s not much to explain. It really felt like we were all gonna die every single day. Really we should probably be feeling the same way now, but there’s not as much public consciousness of it.

  36. 36
    raven says:

    @Matt McIrvin: In the 80’s? Sheeeet.

  37. 37
    Geoduck says:

    @ColoradoGuy: The Chinese also pretty much stopped being Communists. I’m not sure there’s even a word for what China is now, apart from corrupt.

  38. 38
    Dmbeaster says:

    Trump tells Romano

    Trump is a gifted negotiator
    Previous negotiators have been inadequate
    Trump doesn’t want to reveal his thinking
    “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles . . . I think I know most of it anyway.”

    This is the money quote from the article. Funny how this statement by Trump about his thinking sounds just like everything he says now on every subject. In other words, he never actually thinks, its all about him, and it always has been.

  39. 39

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    At the time, if you weren’t a conservative, I remember the theory was ‘The Soviet economy was so bad there were bread lines, nobody actually liked the government, this has a little to do with overspending in the arm’s race, but was mostly a slow collapse inherent in the system.’ Come to think of it, that’s about what I’m hearing now.

  40. 40

    @ColoradoGuy:

    What happened is Gorbachev shut off the KGB terror system. It took a while for Russian and Eastern Bloc people to realize what was happening, but the effects speeded up very quickly once the word spread. For pretty much the first ever for a Russian ruler, he did nothing when the Eastern Bloc exploded. He just watched it happen, and must have directly ordered the security services to keep their hands off. The Berlin Wall was destroyed almost overnight while the East German guards stood and watched. The Baltic States rapidly spun off, while East Bloc occupying army stayed in their barracks. All it would have taken was one phone call for the tanks to have rolled and crushed the independence movement.

    I’m gonna disagree with this a little. Gorbachev obviously did pull back the most hostile of the security services, but some tanks did roll and a few people died. Fourteen civilians were killed in Lithuania, 140 injured. Soviet military forces seized television towers in Vilnius and Tallinn, and the press offices in Riga. The military vehicles rumbled down the same road I’ve taken to the airport. But yes, Gorbachev must have put the brakes on them to keep the casualties that low.

  41. 41
    ColoradoGuy says:

    The Chinese also pretty much stopped being Communists. I’m not sure there’s even a word for what China is now, apart from corrupt.

    Soft fascism, with a surprising degree of personal freedom, compared to, say, Singapore.

    Cheryl, thanks for the correction. It’s a good question how much Gorbachev vs his military staff were in control when the Baltic States broke away.

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    It really felt like we were all gonna die every single day.

    I lived through that era. I may have been an entitled, preppy ass, but I really didn’t feel that way. On our campus, the demonstrations were anti-apartheid not anti-nuke.

  43. 43
    efgoldman says:

    @cain:

    Instead, I found the secret of Monkey Island.

    That was my kid’s first video game that she really got into, in the 90s. The first version, with basically no animation but lots of snappy dialog.
    She named her cat Guybrush

  44. 44

    @Matt McIrvin:
    I remember that fear way too well. Nothing modern compares.

  45. 45
    efgoldman says:

    @Shantanu Saha:

    The escalating cost of energy in the 70’s brought in the cash, helping paper over the structural economic problems

    Are they still importing grain?

  46. 46
    raven says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: You guys are serious aren’t you?

  47. 47

    @Frankensteinbeck: That was more or less it. And the plunge in oil prices, mentioned upthread, put the kibosh on the Soviet economy in the 1980s.

    But the Baltic states, in particular, were ready to get out any way they could. They started transforming their governments (Supreme Soviet becomes National Parliament, for example) in 1987 and just marched out of the Soviet Union. When other Soviet republics saw that happening, they tried to do it too. Boris Yeltsin visited the Baltic states and got some ideas from them. He was President of the Russian Federal Soviet Republic. Gorbachev was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin used separatist leverage to take Russia away from Gorbachev.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @ColoradoGuy:

    compared to, say, Singapore.

    Oh, man. Singapore noodles. I would kill for a good plate of Singapore noodles right now.

  49. 49

    @raven:
    Absolutely serious. The fear that nuclear war might happen while I slept was something I grew up with in the 80s. Even Trump’s bullshit has brought nothing like it back.

  50. 50
    Kolohe says:

    Trump mentions Libya, but a quick Google search shows no general concern about Libya’s getting nuclear weapons.

    Remember that this interview came out when Back to the Future was a relatively recent movie.

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: That was my dinner tonight.

  52. 52
    Aleta says:

    Since Trump provoked fear of immigrants (crime) and Muslims (terror) to get elected, I can see him using fear of another country’s nuclear weapons to increase “order” and increase US defense contractor spending on another arms race. As part of the culture he grew up in, the familiar fear might be something he’s confident he can manipulate, believing he’ll come out on top. So it’s possible he’s going to be insincere about containment. He flirted with building new nukes during the campaign, which would be in line with his love of threats and dominance.

  53. 53
    khead says:

    @raven:

    Yeah upon further consideration – and even though The Day After scared the hell out of me as a kid – it turns out the closest we really got in the 80’s was War Games and Red Dawn (Wolverines!).

  54. 54
    Corner Stone says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: I am completely confused right now. You thought we were going to die by nuclear fire at any moment…during the ’80s?

  55. 55
    Jeffro says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Jesus Jones!

    Who am I? Where am I? Why do I feel this way?

    Oh wait…there was some other Jesus Jones?

  56. 56

    @Corner Stone:
    Yes. Less so as the 80s went on, because Gorbachev was clearly not insane. This is one of the strong lingering memories of my childhood.

  57. 57
    Corner Stone says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I just remember a lot of blurry TV images.

  58. 58
    efgoldman says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I can actually believe that the seed of Trump’s Russophilia was a genuine desire to keep the world from blowing itself up in the 1980s.

    Sorry, no. He gives a shit about nothing other than himself; he is a grifter and a thief. As we have seen for the last several months, he’s not smart enough to deal with an issue more complex than sticking his name on things in gold colored plastic. He has no self-control, he has no knowledge. If he ever tried to interpose himself in negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union (or anybody else) he’d justifiably be laughed out of the room.

  59. 59
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @raven: Yes. Every single night I went to sleep imagining a nuclear fireball engulfing my house. I knew I lived close to Dulles Airport and they probably had some big warheads targeting the place–it was going to be quick.

    As others in this thread have stated, the feeling was really unevenly distributed. A lot of people who grew up at the same time had absolutely no sense of that. I think it depended on your family’s political alignment to some degree. But, interestingly, it appears Ronald Reagan eventually became one of the people who were genuinely scared, which was why progress was possible on things like the INF treaty (but also why he kept pursuing the chimera of SDI, which almost ruined the whole thing).

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Good God. I feel really badly for you, then.

  61. 61
    Jeffro says:

    On a side note, I see ISIS has claimed responsibility for the London attack…if we had an actual leader in the WH, perhaps he could come out and give a speech and explain to the American public (and the world) that “ISIS is going to try and claim responsibility for every bad thing that happens from now until we grind their last member to powder under our heel…bad hangnail? ISIS did it. Bike got a flat tire? ISIS says they did it. Pizza delivery a little late? Yup, ISIS did it, those evil masterminds. So when they claim responsibility for anything and everything in the future…take it with a grain of salt.”

  62. 62
    Inventor says:

    @Corner Stone: “We start bombing in one hour.”- R.W. Reagan

  63. 63
    ColoradoGuy says:

    @Corner Stone: Hard to say in retrospect how much was bluff and how much was real. This part was real: I worked at Tektronix during the Eighties, and the Pentagon spent a billion dollars making Air Force One fully combat-capable during an EMP pulse (replace wiring with fiber optics, etc.) The plan was to have the US fight, and win, a nuclear war with both Russian and China.

  64. 64
  65. 65
  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Inventor: Tasteless, but obviously a joke even at the time.

  67. 67
    efgoldman says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I remember that fear way too well. Nothing modern compares.

    How old were you in 1962 (Cuban missile crisis)? I was a senior in high school, in physics class at the deadline, expecting the missiles to arrive any minute.

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: October ’62? My parents hadn’t even met.

  69. 69
    J R in WV says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Having been born in 1950, and aware of geo-political events by 1960, nothing before or since has been as terrifying as the Cuban Missile crisis that Kennedy and Kruschev dealt with in the fall of 1962.

    We lived on a ridge top, with a hard sandstone caprock that protected the ridge from erosion. I was 11, and went into the basement crawl-space with a pick and shovel and wheelbarrow to work on my fallout shelter every night after dinner. I did not make sufficient progress to have helped our survival prospects as a jackhammer would have been necessary at a minimum.

    Years later the small space I excavated was added to by big strong men with a jackhammer to install a new furnace and water heater. As an 11 year old shrimp, I did the best I could , as I believed we needed a hole to crawl into if we wanted to live.

    I do not remember feeling any nuclear fear during the Reagan administration, other than the sort of fear you feel today with a president who is a fundamental moron running a crisis. No offense to the mentally handicapped, but you need a word to describe Trump and Reagan and that’s the word that works for me.

    I still believe that October, 1962 was the closest we came to death by radioactive fire. So far. That may change soon… we shall see.

    ETA basement -> crawlspace…

  70. 70
  71. 71

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’m old enough to be taught the ‘duck and cover’ under elementary school desks and walk home drills from school once a year.

  72. 72
    Ruckus says:

    @randy khan:

    It makes me wonder how the people who did the engineering for his buildings hid that they ignored everything he said.

    Gold paint.

  73. 73

    @Vhh: Did anyone except the most diehard neocons ever take that seriously?

  74. 74
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @raven: I remember one of my teachers explaining that they stopped with the Civil Defense drills, not because the risk had gone down in any way, but because everyone had just realized that there was no hope of surviving anyway.

  75. 75
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’m probably going to end up getting Popeye’s.

  76. 76
  77. 77
    Yutsano says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    But yes, Gorbachev must have put the brakes on them to keep the casualties that low.

    Wasn’t part of it the fact that the Soviet Union was pretty much broke?

  78. 78

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:
    And for us, we were being told there was no point. If it happened, we would die and probably not know until seconds before, when we saw the flashes in the distance. Added to movies and TV shows about it, there wasn’t a sense that it would happen, just a constant, nagging, ‘1% chance each night I won’t wake up’ dread.

  79. 79
  80. 80
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Things could be worse. The two Popeye’s in my area are inconveniently located for me.

  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    @The Dangerman:
    If you are ever in an ER and the words Donald Trump come up in any way from a professional employee there, and other than with the words “That fucking asshole!” or something along those lines, run away, walk away, crawl away or even just die. Your life will be better.

  82. 82
    JDM says:

    It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles…

    This is classic Dunning-Kruger. Anyone who would say that is not only really uninformed about the subject but also extremely stupid. Moronically stupid. But so stupid he thinks he’s really smart. And that, we know, is Donald Trump.

  83. 83
    khead says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Thanks for the War Games examples. I’m guessing you will have a harder time meeting the Wolverines! requirement. Heh.

    Meanwhile, I’ll let the other folks explain the ’60’s. This is one time where I will defer to the old folks telling me to get off their nucular lawn.

  84. 84
    raven says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Yea, the start of my “Two fish in a bucket, of the sun don’t shine fuck it”, stance.

  85. 85
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    Wasn’t the USSR only slightly better off than NK is now? I knew people from the old days and they worked hard and enjoyed not having to pay to people with their hands out just to get enough food or shelter.

  86. 86
    Gravenstone says:

    @Corner Stone: We had an amiable whack job as president. USSR had what seemed a rotating cast of leaders once Brehznev dropped. As mentioned upthread, theater nuclear missiles were proliferating. We might have moved beyond “duck and cover ” drills, but no one was comfortable with the situation. As an added plus, all sorts of musicians across most genres were writing songs about the threat of nuclear war, so you had reinforcement even for those not politically attuned.

  87. 87
    Gravenstone says:

    @khead: Does no one remember “Special Report”?

  88. 88

    @Yutsano: I think that the whole of it was that Gorbachev is genuinely a man of peace and wanted the best for his people. The world is fortunate that he is. Things could have gone very differently in 1991.

  89. 89
    raven says:

    @Gravenstone: Let me know when you get “comfortable with the situation”.

  90. 90
    sukabi says:

    @efgoldman: I seem to recall stories about long lines at grocery stores, rationing, and lack of products…ie extreme economic distress.

  91. 91
    Matt McIrvin says:

    I wasn’t alive for the Cuban Missile Crisis; I’m sure it was much scarier. Still, the Seventies, for all the horrible things going on then, had been a time of relative nuclear détente up until the late Carter administration, when tensions began ramping up again, and then first-term Reagan really kicked it up several notches. You had Al Haig talking about firing a “nuclear warning shot” just to show the Russkies we meant business, all the nonsense about Dense Pack M-X and SDI, stuff like that. And then things suddenly started to thaw around 1986.

  92. 92
    randy khan says:

    @Inventor:

    I think it actually was 5 minutes. A joke, but pretty scary nevertheless.

  93. 93

    @Ruckus: It was better than North Korea, although the “better” was distributed unevenly Cities were generally better off than the country. Republics that could manage some autonomy, like the Baltic states and Georgia, did a little better. But there were lines to buy most things and notable shortages.

  94. 94
    efgoldman says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    You are ancient!

    Yes, yes I am.
    Ronnie was a doofus, and I never would have voted for him in a zillion years, but i was never as afraid in the 80s as we were in 1962.

  95. 95
    J R in WV says:

    I was 30 the end of 1980, and it was nothing like as scary as 1962. Nothing!

    I recommend you read the newspapers, the WaPo and NYT from September through November of 1962. There were fleets maneuvering in the Atlantic and Caribbean, nuclear missiles installed in Cuba and Turkey, and fleets of B-52s in the air 24/7.

    I literally tried to dig a fallout shelter in solid rock with a pick and shovel as an 11 year old. I dug until I couldn’t every night, which helped me fall asleep, so it wasn’t all a bad thing. I don’t know what my parents thought… they weren’t willing to help dig, though. Maybe they knew it wouldn’t really help much?

    Now, though, I have a backhoe and can afford to have concrete delivered… maybe I should build a wine cellar? Or a root cellar for potatoes? Or just a basement add on full of freeze dried meals and cots, with a radiation detector. Because Trump is stupid, and has the football in the next room 24/7.

    Scary, thinking about that nuclear football!

  96. 96

    @efgoldman: Hiding under the desk does not protect you from a nuclear fallout. I have seen those ads from that era. They seem cray cray.

  97. 97
    Gravenstone says:

    @J R in WV: And here is where we have the generational gap in terms of response. People not alive for the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t have that emotional touchstone. So our feeling that things were on the brink in the earlier 80s has credence to us that you’re all being dismissive of.

  98. 98
    Corner Stone says:

    I blame Phil Collins.

  99. 99
    Kay says:

    LOLGOP‏ @LOLGOP 12h12 hours ago
    Let this be a lesson to terrorists everywhere. Strike at us and our president will publicize your actions, whine a bit and then go golf

    Trump is a bad person every day, but I really feel he outdid himself today. Has anyone else noticed he never works? That must be sinking in to people, right? Not a real hard worker? I mean there’s only so many hours in a day and he clearly spends most of them watching tv and Tweeting. That’s not even including the 12 hours a week he golfs.

  100. 100

    @schrodingers_cat: It was to protect you from the blast, not the fallout.

  101. 101
    frosty says:

    @Kay:

    Has anyone else noticed he never works?

    I wonder if he even knows how to work.

  102. 102
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I will say I did know some that didn’t think going back to life in the USSR would be all that bad. I think in one particular case it was a guy who was used to the old idea. “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” In the US he actually had to produce to keep his job. Yes his life was better but for him there was a trade off. He reminded me of a lot of lifers I saw in the navy. There to put in their 30 and nothing more. OK if they could fuck with the lessor ranks that was a plus. But actual physical work? Not without a gun to their heads. And maybe not even then. Like the guy who said he never ran anywhere unless he was chased. Asked him how he expected to out run, say me (one of the slowest humans in any running race, ever) in a foot race if he never practiced. Cause I don’t have to outrun the bear, just my ex best friend.

  103. 103
    efgoldman says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I have seen those ads from that era. They seem cray cray.

    When I was in grade school, they taught us to get on the floor as close to the outside wall (under the windows) as possible.
    It was all bullshit, of course, This was at Aberdeen Proving Ground in MD, with Edgewood Arsenal (gas manufacturing and storage) a few miles away. I’m sure both places would have been directly targeted.

  104. 104
    Barbara says:

    So his fondness for using economic retaliation goes back a long way, not to mention the idea of US dominance to achieve policy goals.

  105. 105
    Another Scott says:

    FTFNYTimes has a review of Rosenbaum’s 1987 book dated June 21.

    Your link on the FTFNYTimes ads says the ads appeared in the September 2 issue.

    So the interview with Rosenbaum must have been months before the ads appeared.

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  106. 106
    Kay says:

    I keep thinking of all the things we were told that he “launched”. There were the rallies- he was going to go out and commune with his fans. I think he did one rally. There was the Voter Fraud Initiative- he sort of put together a commission, but not really. Okay, there was a press release about a commission, that’s as far as that project went. The Travel Ban! Seems to be stuck. Repeal Obamacare! Or not. The Staff Shake-up! Did anyone get fired or hired?

    Mostly what he’s accomplished is criticizing people, but not even to their faces- just on Twitter. There are 11 year olds who are more productive.

  107. 107
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @efgoldman:

    Ronnie was a doofus, and I never would have voted for him in a zillion years, but i was never as afraid in the 80s as we were in 1962.

    This. Nineteen-sixty-two was fucking terrifying, so it was.

  108. 108
    chris says:

    @raven: “Remember, children, cover your eyes, don’t look at the flash.”
    Or words to that effect. I was in grade2, I think, and I’ve never forgotten that, “don’t look at the flash.”

  109. 109
    Jeffro says:

    @Kay:

    Mostly what he’s accomplished is criticizing people, but not even to their faces- just on Twitter. There are 11 year olds who are more productive.

    There’s a 23-year-old who just demonstrated she’s braver by returning to the scene of a recent terrorist attack, putting on a dynamite performance, and – much like the Mayor of London – reminding everyone that we’re never going to give in to loser terrorists.

    So many brave people in the world, and we’re stuck (for now) with Mr. Trembly Pants hiding alone in a dark WH bedroom with Twitter and cold sweats…

  110. 110
    amk says:

    @Kay: twitler is his base. no work. all entitlements.

  111. 111
    Underpaid Propagandist says:

    Perhaps I was a sheltered nerd in NYC in the 1980s, but the 1980s consisted of economic fear of Japan. Xenophobia. “Duck and Cover” was camp. Bad Ron Howard film on this.The fallout shelters were long neglected, the painkillers stored in them long stolen.

  112. 112
    Ruckus says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    As kids, we didn’t know that. Adults who’d seen the documentaries from Nagasaki or Hiroshima should have known. But then also there were people waking around in those documentaries. Most of them died pretty soon after but it didn’t look all that bad, if you compare it to the fire bombing of Germany, which didn’t look to be all that much fun. Yes fewer chunks of buildings standing and fewer people walking around but most of those people in Germany had been in shelters. Those two bombs were much, much more devastating than any other 2 bombs but we dropped tens of thousands of bombs on Germany.
    OTOH, as kids we did duck and cover and even then many of us thought it was a joke. Because of two reasons, we didn’t expect it here and because we’d seen the documentaries. The Cuban crisis changed all that.

  113. 113
    Kay says:

    @frosty:

    The travel ban was only supposed to be for 90 days so they could review. So did they review ? It’s been more than 90 days. Maybe they could update us on their progress. There are hundreds of Trump people in government now. What have they been doing for 6 months?

  114. 114
    Another Scott says:

    @Inventor: “… 5 minutes.”

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  115. 115
    Peale says:

    @Kay: Kay, they must have completed their review. They set new refugee quotas last week. Lower than obama’s, but higher than Trump claimed he wanted. They are now processing refugee claims again.

  116. 116
    Another Scott says:

    @Yutsano: “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.”

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  117. 117
    dogwood says:

    @Kay:
    Trump is productive in the one area that matters to him- self-promoting fear-mongering. But kudos to Ariana Grande for bravely returning to Manchester as a true professional to raise a shitload of money for victims of the attacks.

  118. 118
    Kay says:

    U.S. President Barack Obama has now been in office for 167 days, and it’s time for a look back. Why 167 days? Why not – it’s just as arbitrary a number as the usual “100 days”. In that time, President Obama has contended with stimulating the U.S. economy, reshaping U.S. policy abroad, and starting work on domestic issues such as health care reform.

    Pretty productive, that Obama. Probably didn’t have time to yell at people on social media.

    I actually forgot about the “H1N1 crisis”. I remember how outraged Campbell Brown was that Obama wasn’t personally delivering vaccine to her NYC neighborhood. She has this poor woman on from the CDC who had to explain county health departments to her – “see, it goes FEDERAL, STATE and then COUNTY..”

  119. 119
    Brachiator says:

    ..“Most of those [pre-nuclear] countries are in one form or another dominated by the U.S. and the Soviet Union,” Trump says. “Between those two nations you have the power to dominate any of those countries.

    What a load of horse crap. Neither the US nor the former Soviet Union was able to prevent India or Pakistan from getting the bomb. The US may have helped Israel get the bomb. South Africa had nuclear weapons, but gave them up.

    Agreements between the US and Russia were vital in getting meaningful arms reduction, especially in getting nukes out of former Soviet areas.

    Any moderately developed nation could probably get nukes if they wanted them. Dependable delivery systems, especially missiles are a bit tougher to get.

    If Trump thinks that he and Putin can get a monopoly on nuclear weapons, Trump is a huge fool, and Putin a wily manipulator.

    I wonder where China fits in this fantasy?

  120. 120
    TenguPhule says:

    @The Dangerman:

    I’m having trouble deciding if “Donald Trump, Nuclear Negotiator” is the scariest possible phrase I could see with his name in it.

    “Donald Trump, Social Security Trustee.”

  121. 121

    @Ruckus: There was a good article recently (perhaps by Sarah Kendzior?) on how everyday life in a totalitarian society like the Soviet Union isn’t that different from everyday life anywhere for most people. That’s what friends who lived it have told me too.

  122. 122
    TenguPhule says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur:

    It’s time to clean the filth out of the White House. Period.

    Gonna need more bleach.

  123. 123
    dogwood says:

    @Jeffro:
    You beat me to it. What pisses me off the most about Trump is the way he dominates all news and all discussions of domestic and world events. The concert in Manchester was an important event because it exemplifies how good people respond to terrorism. Not just the stars who performed, but the thousands who bravely attended.

  124. 124
    Chet Murthy says:

    @raven: I concur that growing up in the late 70s and 80s, it sure felt like the world would end, sooner or later, in a nuclear exchange. I know people here have slagged on Sting’s “Russians (Love their Children Too)” but the song captured a certain spirit of the time — the feeling that we were all being carried along by forces neither side could control. At the time in my freshman moral philosophy class, a big part of the time was spent reading and understanding _The Fate Of The Earth_ by Jonathan Schell — and discussing the morality surrounding nuclear war. There was “99 Red Balloons”. There was War Games. And on and on in pop culture, but really, it was reflectng the currents in the population.

    I remember when the wall came down, and realizing “maybe we’ll see our grandchildren raised to adulthood!” And it was like a great weight had been lifted off our chests. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

    It feels like, with climate change, we’re slowly recovering that former feeling of dread and impending doom. Not b/c it’ll come soon, but b/c we worry that our grandchildren will rue that we bore them.

  125. 125

    @Another Scott: Thanks! Very helpful! Also before Trump’s July trip to Moscow.

  126. 126
    Gravenstone says:

    @chris: Other than the little problem of the flash having occurred by the time you could react to it to “protect” yourself.

  127. 127
    joel hanes says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Hiding under the desk does not protect you from a nuclear fallout

    Of course not; it protects you from pieces of the building falling on you.
    Being for kids, not everything was explained.

    Contemporaneous Civil Defense public service announcements for adults said :
    1. Get to a fallout shelter if possible
    2. If not, look for the innermost part of the most substantial building you can find; a basement is best, but if not, you want as much mass between you and the outdoors as possible.
    3. Fill all available containers with potable water as soon as possible.
    4. Tune radio to CONELRAD station for post-blast instructions from government.
    5. After a day or two, if you have no geiger counter, monitor for fallout particles by placing a clean white sheet on a horizontal surface outside. Stay in deep shelter as long as new particles land overnight.

    Let me see if I can find one of those on youtube …

  128. 128
    SFAW says:

    @Kay:

    Has anyone else noticed he never works?

    Yeah, pretty amazing. The last two Rethug Presidents* seem to be (have been) making sure that they don’t lose any of their paid vacation time. How the fuck can that Fat Fascist go golfing 23 times in 19 weeks? It’s why I referred to him as President LazyMotherfucker in an earlier thread.

    That Obese Osshole is to work, what Brave Sir Robin was to derring-do.

  129. 129
    Kay says:

    @dogwood:

    Why can’t this dolt just once rise to an occasion? Just once try not to be so petty and small. I swear he’s getting worse, too. He somehow is managing to get worse at this the longer he does it.

  130. 130

    @Kay:

    That must be sinking in to people, right? Not a real hard worker?

    To a racist, and bear in mind that this election proved the vast majority of Republicans are hard racists, if a black man did it, it can’t just be easy, it must require no effort. Laziness is one of the defining features of blacks, in their twisted worldview.

  131. 131
    Dmbeaster says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Also, the monthly tests of civil defense sirens in LA (and I assume elsewhere) that would warn of imminent incoming nuclear attack. They went off at 10 am on the last Friday of every month until 1985.

    And having been born in 1955, the Cuban Missle Crisis was clearly the closest we came to nuclear armeggedon. The tension in the 80s was minor in comparison. Also, at that time the relationship was detente, and it was Reagan who ratcheted up the tensions in the 80s. His joke on an unknown open microphone while getting ready for a radio broadcast in 1984 says it all:

    “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

    Ha, Ha. Such a funny man.

  132. 132
    chris says:

    @Gravenstone: There were supposed to be warning sirens. And yes, they did exist and were tested every week even in my little suburb of Toronto. And they scared us every week too.

  133. 133
    joel hanes says:

    @joel hanes:

    Civil Defense public service announcements

    googling “civil defense films atomic bomb” finds many dozens of such films.

    Here’s one I remember seeing while in grade school:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFcRhDtkQyQ

  134. 134
    SFAW says:

    The 1980s were no day at the beach, but they were not even close to the Cuban Missile Crisis, vis-a-vis how scared and scary things were. [Disclaimer: I was a little young to “appreciate” the CMC, but everything thing I’ve seen/read tells me that any trepidation I may have had in the 1980s was chump change, comparatively.]

    ETA: But I remember going through the duck-and-cover drills a lot during elementary school. There was also a Civil Defense siren about 200 feet from my home, and it went off every day at Noon, as a check/test that it was working properly.

  135. 135
    sukabi says:

    @Dmbeaster: heard that as it happened, almost crapped my self…he was such a dumbass, but the current potus is by far the worst.

  136. 136
    hovercraft says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    Thanks, I look forward to it.

  137. 137
    khead says:

    @Gravenstone:
    @Gravenstone:

    Special Bulletin? The Day After was much scarier to me. I was 14 years old at the time of both of those movies though. All I am saying is that I tend to agree with the folks who think we were closer to destruction in the 50’s and ’60s even though I wasn’t around for the Cuban Missile Crisis either.

  138. 138
    PJ says:

    @ColoradoGuy: @stinger: Thatcher was opposed to the end of Communism in Eastern Europe (presumably because it would lead to a stronger, united Germany and an end to Britain’s place in post-war Europe.) When the Berlin Wall was coming down, after instructing her flunkies not to record the call, she phoned Gorbachev and urged him to send tanks in to East Germany to suppress the freedom-seekers. Gorbachev thankfully declined the invitation. (Source: BU History professor Igor Lukes, who reviewed the tapes the Kremlin had made of the call.)

  139. 139
    wrog says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The other thing to remember is Poland spent most of the 80s on the verge of an actual workers’ revolution (Lech Walesa). Putting down Poland for real would have been a much bigger operation than what they did in Hungary and Czechoslovakia decades earlier. Plus they’d have been simultaneously dealing with the Baltics, and Hungary (again) and Czechoslovakia (again). It would have been a huge, bloody mess. Even Gorbachev’s predecessors had figured out that bribery (propping up the Warsaw Pact economies so that they wouldn’t rebel) was a much safer course of action, but that only kicked the can down the road; when the resources for that finally started running out in the late 80s, they were well and truly fucked.

  140. 140
    SFAW says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    in their twisted worldview.

    Or, as we like to call it ’round these parts, “projection.”

  141. 141
    ThresherK says:

    @Chet Murthy: I ought to be able to remember more Top 40 songs of that sort from the 80s, but off the top I can only add It’s a Mistake by Men at Work.

  142. 142

    @joel hanes: I seem to recall a PBS show with the ads and info you mention. I forget what it was called.

  143. 143
    Gvg says:

    I graduated high school in 1981. The true fear of nuclear war was the past. It was still possible but really not a part of popular culture except in a kind of unreal cliche movie plot. My dad had to work on things related to missle defense so I knew how hopelessly stupid it was but the true time of fear was fading in the rear view.
    If Trump was spouting this kind of view then, well I almost think someone got to him to lead him into such a dumb view. He seems to have always been kind of easy to manipulate if it flattered him but never really controllable. I just wish he wasn’t our problem and would go away. How could so many people be so stupid as to not notice how stupid he is.

  144. 144
    NoraLenderbee says:

    I was born during the Cuban missile crisis. Growing up in the 70s, I wasn’t anxious about the threat of nuclear holocaust. It just wasn’t something I thought about or that people talked about. In the 80s, it got much more attention. I didn’t know why, but I definitely noticed the change.

  145. 145
    Fair Economist says:

    It’s probably true that things seemed scarier in 1962 than in the 80’s (I wasn’t alive in ’62 so I can’t say) but in reality we probably came closer to extermination in the 80’s. At least twice the US monitoring systems indicated a Russian launch and at least once the Russian systems indicated a US launch. Only brave choices by generals on both sides saved us. There were a lot more bombs in the 80’s, too – an exchange would have done a lot more damage.

  146. 146
    PJ says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: @Ruckus: I have a lot of friends in the Czech Republic who grew up and lived under communism. If civil liberties, intellectual life, travel, environmental degradation, and reliable availability of goods and services are not important to you, life under communism was fine. “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us,” was the bargain. Normalization is the Czech word for it. Shut up, keep your head down, show up for the parades, and you’ll get a place to live and a hunk of Sumava bread and enough money to get drunk on beer every night, and, after a while, enough money to buy a cottage in the country. The Communists have reliably gotten a sizable share of votes since the Revolution because there are a lot of people for whom a life devoid of responsibility and a minimum standard of living is still attractive – freedom of speech is meaningless if you never have anything to say. And it’s galling for them to see people who are more fortunate (whether because of personal initiative, intelligence, hard work, or simple luck) do better than them. Communism meant that your neighbor, unless they were part of the nomenklatura, would never have more than you would, which is incredibly soothing to many people.

  147. 147
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    It isn’t different here depending on where you live. I live in a much wealthier area than I work in 15 miles away. Hell the town I live in, Pasadena, has very wealthy and blue collar areas. If you get up, go to work, come home, maybe catch a movie, shop for groceries, watch TV, no it really isn’t different on a day to day basis. I every once in a while check out a website, English Russia, and life there doesn’t really look a lot different than here.

  148. 148
    Mike J says:

    Uhm, don’t we have a base in Qatar?

    Joyce Karam ‏Verified account @Joyce_Karam 17 minutes ago
    Joyce Karam Retweeted العربية عاجل
    BREAKING: #Saudi Arabia cuts Relations with #Qatar . Seals off airspace & maritime access for Doha.
    #السعودية: قطع العلاقات مع قطر واغلاق كافة المنافذ البرية والبحرية والجوية #العربية_عاجل

  149. 149
    Peale says:

    @Mike J: so much for that Arab NATO.

  150. 150
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:

    He somehow is managing to get worse at this the longer he does it.

    He is after all an old fart. And a lot older than his years. Except in maturity. He’s still a very small child in that area. I’d say 4 yr old brat age. And he hasn’t had to learn anything in decades, you expect him to start now?

  151. 151
    lgerard says:

    Face it

    Orange is the new pinko

  152. 152
    Smitty says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yep. Everyday life is about tribes and clans wherever you are. Communism failed because because it did not acknowledge the basic human need to belong to and to support a clan or family or cohort. A nation of workers, unknown to each other, is too large, too vast engender the feeling of belonging that humans require. Doomed to failure as is religion for the same reason. Capitalism, on the other hand, allows for individual economic advancement divorced from tribal membership. People within the local tribe can have different levels of economic success without being banished if economic advantages are not abused. If you think about it a minute, most sane people do not resent economic success, but do resent societal privilege based on economic advantage.
    Our current problem is a POTUS that is neither a capitalist or a communist but, a kleptocrat. POTUS and his minions will die in jail.

  153. 153
    efgoldman says:

    @sukabi:

    he was such a dumbass

    Ronnie was at least a real, experienced politician who had held an important elective office for two terms. Until he couldn’t remember anything, he knew about legislation, and administration, and all the crap Apricot Asswipe never learned and is incapable of learning.

  154. 154
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gravenstone: I was around for the ’80s. I wasn’t frightened. I have said before on this site and been told that I was wrong, but many college age folks did not have that worry.

  155. 155
    Corner Stone says:

    Ok, I went to Fiveguys. Fuck the haters.

  156. 156
    Peale says:

    @Corner Stone: their burgers are dry.

  157. 157
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: At whom was this aimed?

  158. 158
    John Revolta says:

    There was no significant threat of nuclear war in the ’80s. The reason everybody was scared was because the Republicans were back in power and, as always, they like keeping people frightened and therefore compliant.

  159. 159
    Corner Stone says:

    @PJ: Man, if I could be surrounded by Czech girls every day I would be pretty complacent about just about every thing else, also too.

  160. 160
    Corner Stone says:

    @Peale: Not if you add grilled onions and grilled mushrooms. And like I said, F the haters.

  161. 161
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles

    So Trump’s always been a damn fool. Ok.

  162. 162
    Corner Stone says:

    Lawrence Block book-to-movies just don’t translate to the big screen very well.

  163. 163
    Captain C says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Also 21 dead and many injured on April 9, 1989 in Tbilisi, Georgia.

  164. 164
    Ruckus says:

    @PJ:
    I agree with you I was talking about living there in the late 90s and later, like now. Not that I want to live there but for many there is little difference. Now. You wake up, you go to work, you don’t make enough, you go home, Rinse, repeat.
    Most of those people that I knew/know are my age or older and they lived in the USSR and a couple lived there until the early 90s, didn’t think that was better.
    ETA I also know a guy who is in his early 50s, moved to Canada, gained his citizenship and still has a brother and mother who live in Saint Petersburg. It isn’t all that much different to him.

  165. 165
    Corner Stone says:

    @Smitty:

    POTUS and his minions will die in jail.

    I like the way you think. Newsletter?

  166. 166
  167. 167
    SFAW says:

    @Gravenstone:

    So our feeling that things were on the brink in the earlier 80s has credence to us that you’re all being dismissive of.

    On the other hand, not everything from the olds is “You kids get offa my lawn!” Sometimes the olds actually remember shit as it was. And sometimes, when the olds say “Yeah, great, but what YOU (and we) lived through during time period ‘X’ was not as good/bad/ scary/whatever as what we lived through 20 years earlier,” it’s correct.

  168. 168
    Smitty says:

    @Corner Stone: The alternative is progressives die in jail. I prefer the former.

  169. 169
    Captain C says:

    @Gravenstone:

    USSR had what seemed a rotating cast of leaders once Brehznev dropped.

    (Anyone:) Without looking, can you name the Soviet leader between Andropov and Gorbachev?

  170. 170
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @efgoldman:

    …i was never as afraid in the 80s as we were in 1962.

    Mostly, I’d wager, because it was all laid out in the newspapers & the evening news. There was literally nowhere to hide from the threat. Whereas there were at least two (maybe more) incidents in the 1980s when the Soviet early warning system sounded an alert that there were missiles incoming from the US, & we probably all owe our continued existence to the fact that the officers on duty at the time (one was a MAJ Petrov IIRC) swallowed hard & declined to initiate a counterstrike.

    Things were a bit less drastic in the 50s because those Bison & Bear bombers (that the USSR never had all that many of) would’ve taken 8-10 hours to get here & between radars & interceptors we had a decent chance at shooting them down before they did. After Sputnik (& specifically Sputnik II, with a payload to orbit of >1000 lb) it was obvious to anyone who thought about it (including precocious 8-year-olds who wanted to be rocket pilots when they grew up) that if someone punched the appropriate button halfway around the world, we were nearly certain to die in a thermonuclear fireball (or be well along in the process of dying slowly from the fallout) a half hour later, & there wasn’t a goddamned thing we could do about it. Fifteen minutes’ warning from BMEWS to say the rosary & otherwise get our affairs in order. (Missiles in Cuba would have reduced that to maybe 6 minutes. Not even enough time to say the rosary…)

  171. 171
    Peale says:

    @Mike J: hmm. Not just Saudi Arabia, but also Egypt and Bahrain. I guess Qatar is getting the blame for everything that’s wrong with terrorism and World Cup soccer.

  172. 172
    Mike J says:

    Sounders score on How-stun. 1-0

  173. 173

    @Captain C: Thanks. I did not know that.

  174. 174
    NYCMT says:

    @Captain C: Chernenko, but I was ten in 1985 and did a celebratory dance because my friend’s cousin was a refusenik.

  175. 175
    SFAW says:

    @Mike J:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Soviet_nuclear_false_alarm_incident

    … which no one knew about until the 1990s, and which apparently was a case of the USSR being the ones most scared about thing. And, apparently, was a case of potential accidental war, as opposed to bellicosity between the US and USSR in 1962.

    But, yes, let’s continue with this one-upmanship bullshit, to prove that the people who weren’t around in 1962 had it just as bad or worse — despite the many comments from those who were around for both periods.

  176. 176
    Aleta says:

    Saudi, U.A.E., Egypt and Bahrain cuts ties with Qatar
    Countries suspend air, sea travel; Saudis shut land border

    Four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and moved to close off access to the Gulf country, escalating a crisis that started over its relationship with Iran and its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. The governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt said in statements they will suspend air and sea travel to and from Qatar. Saudi Arabia will shut land crossings with its neighbor, according to the official Saudi Press Agency, potentially depriving the emirate of imports.

    Saudi Arabia cited Qatar’s support of “terrorist groups aiming to destabilize the region,” including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al-Qaeda. It accused Qatar of supporting “Iranian-backed terrorist groups” operating in the kingdom’s eastern province as well as Bahrain.

    Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain and the U.A.E., gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave.
    -Bloomberg

  177. 177
    SFAW says:

    @Mike J:

    How-stun.

    When you’re there, go to Katz’s Deli.

    (Although I imagine you’re not talking about Houston Street in lower Manhattan.)

  178. 178
    TenguPhule says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Ok, I went to Fiveguys. Fuck the haters.

    How many loans were required to order a meal?

  179. 179
    Mike J says:

    @SFAW: NORAD asked Zbig to wake up Carter in ’79, and nobody really gives a shit if the war was an accident or not.

  180. 180
    Aleta says:

    Ilan Goldenberg‏Verified account
    @ilangoldenberg
    A reminder that the US has a huge military base in Qatar. This could be quite a headacheIlan Goldenberg added,

  181. 181
    Smitty says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: But the fear was, I remember, real. US politicians have always known the power of fear but the nuclear fear of the 50’s and 60’s was horrific. Fast forward to current POTUS. Fear is a platform plank of the Republicans. How quickly can fears of the electorate be assuaged?

  182. 182
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: @J R in WV: You’re both probably right, that 1962 was worse. I was born in 1965, so can only relate what it was like in the 80s. I’m curious: did you feel some change in the air, when the Wall came down? When it was clear that the Soviet system was collapsing peacefully? I mean, perhaps we were mistaken about the gravity of what we experienced in the 80s compared to the 60s. But the -end-, we experienced that together, right? I’m wondering whether we experienced that the same way.

  183. 183
    cain says:

    oh boy, looks like Trump is not going to get his milk and cookies before bed. He’s going to have stay up late and he is going to actually do something to deal with 3 U.S. allies. I hope Tillerson knows what to do!

  184. 184
    TenguPhule says:

    @Aleta:

    A reminder that the US has a huge military base in Qatar. This could be quite a headacheIlan Goldenberg added,

    What could possibly go wrong?

    /Sarcasm, as apparently its needed.

  185. 185
    SFAW says:

    @Mike J:

    Yeah, whatever. So now we can also say how fucking scary the 1970s were, I guess.

    Both examples you’ve cited related to accidents, not brinksmanship. The claim made earlier, by multiple (relatively young) commenters was that they lived in more-or-less constant fear of nucular holocaust during the 1980s. Those of us who remember the 1980s, and who remember the 1950s (I don’t) and 1960s (I remember some/most of it) — and who were old enough during the earlier period to have some awareness of geopolitics — have been saying “OK, fine, but trust us, it wasn’t as bad as the Cuban Missile Crisis (among other things).”

    This is not a case of olds saying the Grenada invasion was significantly worse than Iraq in 2003-plus, OK?

  186. 186
    cain says:

    Also pretty rich of Saudia Arabia accusing anyone of sponsoring terrorism given how many of their citizens have been involved in planning terror attacks globally.

  187. 187
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Captain C:

    can you name the Soviet leader between Andropov and Gorbachev?

    Yes.

  188. 188
    Captain C says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I was in college around then, and we had an exchange with Tbilisi State University (one of the first USA-USSR such exchanges, IIRC), so I met some Georgians, who were as independence-minded as the Lithuanians of the time, and they told us all about that. Apparently, some kind of gas was used, in addition to trench shovels.

  189. 189
    efgoldman says:

    @Aleta:

    Saudi, U.A.E., Egypt and Bahrain cuts ties with Qatar

    Aren’t the next Olympics supposed to be there? Or the World Cup? Something like that.

  190. 190
    Corner Stone says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Thank God you’re here.

  191. 191
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @John Revolta:

    There was no significant threat of nuclear war in the ’80s.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83

  192. 192
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Corner Stone: A little overdramatic, wouldn’t you say?

  193. 193
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Gin & Tonic: This sounds like the opening lines of a “Who’s on Firstky” routine.

    No, Yes was on third. Nyet was on second.

  194. 194
    Another Scott says:

    @Aleta: AlJazeera:

    The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf’s Arab countries escalated after a recent hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency. It has spiralled since.

    Weird.

    The embedded link has more:

    “Fake news”, decried by everyone from Donald Trump to Theresa May to Vladimir Putin, has now shown up in the broadcasts of Sky News Arabia and Al Arabiya news channels.

    Following the hacking of Qatar News Agency’s website on Tuesday, when comments falsely attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, were broadcast, both UAE-based broadcasters went big with the news, inviting guests to dissect and condemn the reported speech.

    Qatar’s government categorically denied that comments in which the country’s leader expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel – while suggesting that US President Donald Trump may not last in power – were ever made.

    “There are international laws governing such crimes, especially the cyberattack. [The hackers] will be prosecuted according to the law,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said in Doha on Wednesday.

    Zooks. Things are getting real, quickly.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  195. 195
    Peale says:

    @efgoldman: the next World Cup is 2018 in Russia. 2022 is in Doha

  196. 196
    SFAW says:

    @Captain C:

    Without looking, can you name the Soviet leader between Andropov and Gorbachev?

    I think it was Andropov’s brother Pikop.

  197. 197
    Corner Stone says:

    @Gin & Tonic: No. Every thread gets a little better when you contribute. You probably have a BJ rating of like +120

  198. 198
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Everyone knows it was what’s his name, Chernobyl.

  199. 199
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Corner Stone: We have ratings now? How come I didn’t know about this?

  200. 200
    efgoldman says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    did you feel some change in the air, when the Wall came down?

    Oh, HELL yes. I was 16 when it went up. My dad was career Army. They cut his tour at home in Boston a year short and attached him to a unit shipping out for Germany. He was stationed near Nurnberg, where Omnes was about 20 years later. Might have been the same unit (my dad was AG Corps, but his unit in Germany was Arty).

  201. 201
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Who was on first?

  202. 202
    Chris says:

    @PJ:

    God, that woman was so vile on every possible level. The more I learn about her, the more I relate to those who sang and danced when she died.

  203. 203
    John Revolta says:

    @Mike J: Oh yeah, I remember that. My friends and I all died horribly.

    I stand by my statement. The threat of an accidental launch, although small, has always been there, and would quickly be identified as such, and damage minimized. There is no Strangelovian Doomsday Machine (unless they forgot to tell us!).

    Trust me. (But verify!) By the time the 80s rolled around, nobody, especially Republicans, was interested in getting blown up. They were looking to get PAID.

  204. 204
    Corner Stone says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Probably too Tiger’ed up to notice.

  205. 205
    efgoldman says:

    @SFAW:

    the Grenada invasion was significantly worse than Iraq

    I’m old. Grenada was a fucking joke. Nobody except a few RWNJ Reaganauts and Clint Eastwood took it seriously.

  206. 206
    Jager says:

    My first girlfriend’s (in the 9th grade). father was a B-52 pilot. His job in 1959 was to fly up to the Bering Sea, cruise along the Fail-Safe line. If he got the call, he opened the little safe on the plane, decoded the targeting info and turned his 52 toward Russia. He did that twice a week, week in week out. He never said much about his job. (like all pilots he really loved to fly) Ann and I never talked about it, neither did her Mom or older sister. We all knew her Dad’s job was to drop nuclear bombs on Russia and probably die in the process. Ann’s dad and my dad had a relationship (Dad was a WWII pilot) if they talked about it, they never mentioned it. Funny thing happened in the 90’s, Ann called me one night, we talked for hours, we got around to her dad and his job. Ann said he never talked about it at all. Her mother did tell her that she lived on the verge of a nervous breakdown for years. Ann’s dad and family transferred to the base at Incirlik, Turkey when we were in high school, same job and as Ann said, he wouldn’t have to fly as far to do his job. Weird time to grow up.

  207. 207
    stinger says:

    I know we BJers dislike threaded comments — maybe this is why? So we can get this kind of seeming exchange in back-to-back comments?

    Man, if I could be surrounded by Czech girls every day I would be pretty complacent about just about every thing else, also too.

    Not if you add grilled onions and grilled mushrooms.

  208. 208
    Chris says:

    @Captain C:

    Cheryenko.

    As I recall, the pendulum swing went Brezhnev (conservative), Andropov (reformist), Cheryenko (conservative), Gorbachev (reformist, ultimately more so than intended).

  209. 209
    SFAW says:

    @Chris:

    God, that woman was so vile on every possible level. The more I learn about her, the more I relate to those who sang and danced when she died.

    Your comment reminds me of this.

  210. 210
    PJ says:

    @Ruckus: Ah ok, I thought you were talking about then (there) vs. then (here), and instead of now for both. Now, nobody makes enough money and politics sucks in both places.

  211. 211
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Chris: Chernenko, not Cheryenko.

    And Andropov the reformist(??) who crushed both Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1967? Such a reformist – how many dead?

  212. 212
    Ruckus says:

    @efgoldman:
    I think SFAW was making the same point. IOW it was snarky.

  213. 213
    SFAW says:

    @efgoldman:

    That was the point.

    Wasn’t saying the 80s was Grenada by comparison, was saying that oldster comments in this thread weren’t a case of olds inflating a Grenada-like CMC, due to “Get offa my lawn” sentiments.

    Worked better in theory than in execution, I guess.

  214. 214
    PJ says:

    @Corner Stone: The biggest lie we were told during the Cold War was that all the women in the Eastern Bloc looked like East German weight lifters.

  215. 215
    ironkitty says:

    I think the big littleman was “informed” by a science fiction series, Jerry Pournelle used the Codominium extensively in the 70’s. US and USSR ruled jointly to deny nukes for others. Taxpayers clung bitterly while Citizens lazed on welfare and the rich ruled all. America could only be great again with massive roundup and deportation. His bigly grasp of the military is from this series too.

  216. 216
    SFAW says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Wasn’t Andropov also KGB at one point? If so, hard to believe he’d be a reformist.

  217. 217
    Captain C says:

    @Chris: Basically, though Andropov was more of an economic reformer, while tightening political screws (according to a book I just started, Putin’s Kleptocracy). Chernenko was basically Brezhnev-in-his-last-years redux, the last gasp of the post-Stalin generation of leaders.

  218. 218
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @SFAW: Yes, head of KGB from 1967-1982.

  219. 219
    Ruckus says:

    @PJ:
    Glad we cleared that up then. As I said I know Russians who came over here in the early 80s, mid 90s and early 00s. They’d range in age from early 50s to mid 80s now. They see the world in different ways. Just like those of us born in the US in the same age ranges see life as different.

  220. 220
    dww44 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I was a freshman in college, an all girls one at that, and I remember the weeknight that the situation seemed so dire on the evening news (we didn’t have a TV except in the basement and only diehard TV fans actually went down there to watch) that there was a waiting line to use the pay phone to call home to get reassuring words from the parents. I also remember being a bit perplexed by all the fear as I always had confidence in the young President Kennedy, and the advisors in his administration and his cabinet Secretaries. We really did look up to them.

  221. 221
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Smitty:

    But the fear was, I remember, real. US politicians have always known the power of fear but the nuclear fear of the 50’s and 60’s was horrific

    In large part because so many of us believed that the Godless Communists were hellbent on World Domination & would not shrink from killing tens or even hundreds of millions of us (even if tens of millions of their own people died in the process) in order to achieve it. There was palpable fear that at some unknowable moment the Politburo would judge the time right to make their play, & the missiles would fly.

    Meantime, over there, the Soviet people were equally convinced that the Soulless Capitalists would not shrink from killing tens or even hundreds of millions of them (even if tens of millions of our own people died in the process) in order to rid the world of the Marxist challenge to their profiteering & exploitation of the working class.

    So which nation was the more paranoid? Our gummint cited the USSR’s occupation of Eastern Europe & installation of subservient puppet regimes as proof they were insatiable. Their gummint cited the capitalist nations’ intervention in the Russian civil war as proof we wanted to strangle their “socialism” in its crib. As Henry the K once put it, even paranoids can have real enemies. How real is the question. Seems like a wash to me.

  222. 222
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @SFAW: Andropov went from crushing the Hungarian uprising & the Prague Spring to opposing later interventions in Afghanistan & Poland, & “promoted reform-minded party cadres including Mikhail Gorbachev.” His time as General Secretary was marked by intraparty confrontation & anti-corruption campaigns. Go figger.

  223. 223
    Gian says:

    @efgoldman: my father was literally an airborne soldier who waited on the tarmac for the order to jump into Cuba.

    I have distant relatives who visited in the late 80s from behind the iron curtain. when we joked that the searchlights at car dealerships were looking for soviet aircraft they didn’t think we were joking.

  224. 224
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    I’m curious: did you feel some change in the air, when the Wall came down? When it was clear that the Soviet system was collapsing peacefully?

    In July 1989 I traveled behind the Iron Curtain for the first time (East Berlin, Prague, Budapest). On the surface it looked like those “socialist republics” would last another 100 years. When instead they all collapsed by year’s end it was incredible. Like Wordsworth’s reaction to the early years of the French Revolution:

    Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
    But to be young was very heaven!

  225. 225
    Dmbeaster says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: It wasn’t just Gorbachev dialing down the Soviet terror regime. The Communist hardliners themselves were also wimps compared to Stalin, etc. The clearest proof of this was the August 1991 coup by the hardliners which sought to depose Gorbachev, but which fizzled because the Old Guard just was not willing to do it the old way. That is, murder tens of thousands and send hundreds of thousands to gulags, like dear old Stalin did to keep power.

  226. 226
    Dmbeaster says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I remember one of my teachers explaining that they stopped with the Civil Defense drills, not because the risk had gone down in any way, but because everyone had just realized that there was no hope of surviving anyway.”

    This is very true, and reflects the difference between the nukes available in the 50s vs the 70s. There was a huge increase in number and yield of nuclear weapons. Its one thing to make plans for a 20 kiloton blast, but completely different for a one megaton blast, and ten times as many available. (Much higher yields existed but were not the bulk of weapons to be used).

    We went from an era in which nutjobs openly spoke about surviving a nuclear war and therefore it was just another kind of war to plan for including civil defense, to the doctrine of mutual assured destruction. Not much point to civil defense if assured destruction is the operant military doctrine.

  227. 227
    Smitty says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Mutually Assured Destruction proves that insanity has benefits. People, leaders, governments recognize that destroying the world is not a good thing. POTUS is not aligned with this train of thought. POTUS cannot imagine a world that does not recognize his magnifigence. POTUS will die in jail.

  228. 228
    efgoldman says:

    @Smitty:

    POTUS will die in jail.

    If he lives long enough. My money is still on leaving the WH strapped to a gurney.

  229. 229
    Morzer says:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/05/vladimir-putin-denies-he-has-compromising-material-on-donald-trump

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied he had any compromising material about US President Donald Trump.

    “Well, this is just another load of nonsense,” Putin said on NBC News’ Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, when asked whether he had any damaging information on the Republican president.

    The remarks were the latest in a series of denials from Moscow that have had little impact so far on a political crisis in the United States over potential links between Russia and Trump’s inner circle.

    Putin also told NBC he had no relationship with Trump and had never met him, regardless of Trump’s previous travel to Russia as a businessman. Putin noted that executives from perhaps 100 American companies were currently in Russia.

    “Do you think we’re gathering compromising information on all of them right now or something?” Putin asked, before saying: “Have you all lost your senses?”

    Trump has offered contradictory accounts of his relationship with Putin over time but has also said the two never met. He has called an FBI investigation into alleged ties between his campaign and Russia a “witch hunt” designed to undermine the legitimacy of his 2016 election win.

    Looks like people on both sides of the orange-red spectrum are getting rather nervous.

  230. 230
    JGabriel says:

    randy khan:

    It makes me wonder how the people who did the engineering for his buildings hid that they ignored everything he said.

    I’m not sure that they did. No one thinks any of the buildings Trump built will last a century. Maybe the architects, engineers, and project managers ignored a few of the things he said, but I’m sure there was also a lot of, “Oh, ferchrissakes, give the fucking asshole what he wants. But document that it came from him just in case. Make sure he or his kids are liable when it falls apart, not us.”

    Trump is known in NY for shoddy properties with lots of cheap tasteless bling, bric-a-brac, and kitsch.

  231. 231
    sm*t cl*de says:

    @efgoldman:

    My money is still on [Trump] leaving the WH strapped to a gurney.

    And wearing a hockey mask.

  232. 232
    lowtechcyclist says:

    @efgoldman:

    How old were you in 1962 (Cuban missile crisis)? I was a senior in high school, in physics class at the deadline, expecting the missiles to arrive any minute.

    I was eight years old, and while I was blissfully unaware of the Cuban missile crisis at the time, we had air raid drills at school from the time I started first grade in the fall of 1960 (we’d file out into the halls, kneel towards the walls, put our heads down low, and cover our heads with our hands – like that was going to be any use, just 3 miles outside the Beltway), and my friends and I all pretty much assumed that if there was a nuclear war, we were going to be vaporized before we knew anything was happening, so what was the point of worrying about it?

    In a way, it was about as real to us as the notion of the Rapture would have been, if we’d grown up on that. The same absence of any connection with our day-to-day reality, total inability to hasten or avoid it in any way, and instantaneous, totally painless transition to the aprés vie.

  233. 233
    Booger says:

    @Gravenstone: watched it again a couple years ago. Still absolutely scary as shit.

  234. 234

    @Morzer: Of course Putin said he has no compromising material. That’s the only sensible thing to say, no matter whether he does or not.

    I didn’t see the interview, but from what I saw on Twitter, Kelly had no hard questions for him, no followups, and let him get away with a lot.

  235. 235

    @Dmbeaster: True, but the coup plotters were also blind drunk through the whole episode.

  236. 236
    Betsy says:

    @efgoldman: Who’s this”we”?

  237. 237
    Chris says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Wherever did you get the notion that “reformist” meant “good guy?”

  238. 238
    Chris says:

    @SFAW:

    No, not necessarily. IIRC, being in the KGB whose job was to have an eye on everything, he had a better idea than most of just how screwed up the Soviet Union was, and therefore sympathetic to the need for change. “Reform” of course doesn’t necessarily mean turning into something we would like – it meant making the system more efficient, but like Gorby he wanted to save the regime, not destroy it. If the Soviet reformists of the eighties had had their way, the end result probably would’ve looked more like modern-day China than like any Western democracy.

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