December 3, 2020

The IM Saturday Brunch: August 12, 2017 — Special Nuclear Annihilation Edition


”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”


The main news event of this week featuring (nuclear) warlike language from Washington and Pyongyang will dominate our Brunch discussion today. Not only because it’s what everyone is talking about, but also because this whole subject was a formative influence in my life and in the lives of many who read this blog. A person of my generation can’t hear the phrase “nuclear weapons” without experiencing a serious wave of dreadful nostalgia.

And it all started, kids, in what we used to call “The Cold War.”

Oh, what memories! Donald Trump and his followers have expressed their deep nostalgia for the days when America was great. I can only assume they are referring to the post-WWII era, when the U.S. had played a major role in saving the world from fascism and then her soldiers returned home to produce and enjoy the greatest prosperity boom in world history.

Oh yeah, those were the days, but there was also…the Cold War! That’s right, you know — US vs. USSR, the Red menace, the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, Sputnik and the Space Race, the Cuba Missile Crisis, civil defense and espionage, etc., etc., etc.

And with all that — the threat of nuclear annihilation!

Those were, indeed, the good old days. But amid all the peace and prosperity, these were also times when we needed great wisdom and preparation, so our beneficent government promised to keep us safe by instructing us how to protect ourselves when “the fire and fury” of the atom bomb fell.


• • •

And remember those fun school drills, performed to the piercing sound of air sirens? I know you boomers do.

• • •

In fact, entire cities had civil defense drills.

Did you know that, in New York City, “By 1963, some 17,448 buildings had been identified by the military as nuclear sanctuaries”?

• • •

Remember when people built personal nuclear fallout shelters to protect their families, and stocked them just in case?

• • •

Do you recall that this was the time when the Emergency Broadcast System was put in place?

• • •

Remember when this guy was encouraging us to look out for Commies everywhere? Remember the Red Scare? The House Un-American Activities Committee? Black lists? The FBI under the paranoid eye of J. Edgar Hoover?

• • •

Many people, especially on the right, thought there was a Communist conspiracy behind the Kennedy assassination, making JFK a “casualty of the Cold War.” After all, as the article states: “Lee Harvey Oswald, [was] a self-described Marxist, defector to the Soviet Union, and admirer of Fidel Castro.”

• • •

Some people knew that if we didn’t laugh a little, we’d cry a lot. As we reflect on that great era, how about we listen to one of the clever songs from the political comedy that sprang up back then?

• • •

Now, let’s take a peak inside the War Room, where nuclear attacks would be ordered, as the film Dr. Strangelove portrayed it back then. In 1964, with the Cuba Missile Crisis fresh on our minds, the Cold War at its coldest, and prospect of the new and terrifying hydrogen bomb, Stanley Kubrick imagined this conversation in the War Room:

(By the way, I thought the line about “getting our hair mussed” was especially funny and relevant, given the current situation with these two guys and their great ‘dos:

• • •

Another popular film presented a more serious scenario, in an effort to question the sanity of considering nuclear war. This was 1964’s Fail Safe. Here’s Walter Matthau making the argument for killing them before they kill us — nuclear-ly.

• • •

One mainstay of popular culture throughout my lifetime has been the James Bond character and films. There would be no Bond without the Cold War and the imminent threat of mad enemies working deviously to annihilate the world.

• • •

Did you know that the U.S. military even enlisted Santa Claus as a tool of propaganda during the Cold War?

Here is an article that includes an AP story from Christmas Eve, 1955. It tells how the U.S. (and Canadian) defense system would protect Santa and guarantee his safe passage, so that American’s children could have their abundant Christmas.

Colorado Springs, Colo., Dec 23 (AP) — Santa Claus Friday was assured safe passage into the United States by the Continental Air Defense Combat Operations Center here which began plotting his journey from the North Pole early Friday morning.

CONAD said first reports of its radar and ground observer outposts indicate Santa was traveling about 45 knots at an altitude of 35,000 feet and should arrive in the United States early Saturday night for his annual visit.

U.S. and Canadian defense units will steer him into the prevailing jet stream which should double his speed, and around stormy weather west of the Hudson Bay areas.

CONAD, Army, Navy and Marine Air Forces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas.

And Santa’s track, being plotted here on the main surveillance board, is a very wide one, indicating that his sleigh is heavily loaded with toys and goodies.

• • •

One of the most famous, influential, and controversial Presidential campaign ads had a sobering Cold War theme. This was Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad (1964). Though it aired only once, this powerful ad proved to be important in his campaign, which won a landslide victory over Barry Goldwater.

• • •

Finally, a “Christian”(?) perspective: We can’t leave this week without mentioning what the little Baptist Trump groupie from Dallas had to say in support of nuclear war or “whatever it takes.”

Thankfully, they enlisted another point of view to counter this crap.

• • •

How refreshing to wash our hearts and minds out by reading my friend Mark Galli’s counter piece in Christianity Today, “The Use of Nuclear Weapons Is Inherently Evil.”

Here is a wise and sane perspective, firmly and unequivocally stated. Nuclear weapons are, by nature, indiscriminate, designed to achieve one thing: a massive level of death and destruction. Even if we hold to just war theory, a common “Christian” view to which many appeal, we must recognize that it ascribes to a doctrine of proportionality, which states that the use of force must not exceed what is absolutely necessary. In this light, soldiers are never to target civilians. However, that is not an option with nuclear weapons.

This is not the place to argue the fine points, but it is the place to reiterate that we stand in that stream of Christians who find no justification for the use of nuclear weapons. This is not a politically radical view. Some of the most conservative of Christians and politicians, including evangelist Billy Graham, have also concluded that nuclear weapons are inherently evil or, to not put too fine a point on it, “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization” (Ronald Reagan).

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago, former secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, along with William Perry (former secretary of defense) and Sam Nunn (former chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee) wrote, “We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.”

A hearty “Amen!” to Mark Galli and a categorical “No!” to those who foolishly foster even the remotest possibility of using nuclear weapons as instruments of war.

• • •

Let’s end with a little post-nuclear nuclear family song from a guy I really miss, especially at times like this. I just know if he were here today, he would be treating us to some new songs about the “fire and fury.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the late Mr. Steve Goodman. Let’s laugh a little with him so we won’t cry too much over all the bluster and bombast in the news this week.


  1. Klasie Kraalogies says

    This speech is the best speech ever about war:

    • “The end of the Last Great Time War – everybody lost.” – 9th Doctor, “Dalek”

    • “You’re still a Time Lord!”

      “Well, look on the bright side, I’m not a Dalek!”

      “*Who can tell the difference anymore*?!?”

      8th Doctor and Cass, “Night of the Doctor”

  2. dark clouds gather
    an incoming storm
    ready or not

    • Christiane says

      ” . . . it will all be over in an hour and a half” (Tom Lehrer’s song)

      ” . . . . “I could leave this room, and in 25 minutes, 70 million people would be dead.” – Nixon @ a White House dinner party

      ” . . . . if we have nukes, why can’t we use them?”

      • The fact is, we’ve been using our nukes for decades. Our country has used its nuclear deterrent, which means it has used its nukes, every day since the 1950s. The coercive power of nuclear deterrent is that behind every form of terrorism; implied in that terrorist threat is the readiness to deploy the nukes, against civilian and military targets indiscriminately (remember that even tactical nuclear war is total war in practice), if one does not attain ones political goals by the threat of their deployment alone. Our president is not the only one culpable in this, although he and his staff are the ones making the unwise decisions that may lead to the culmination that nuclear deterrent is always headed toward.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        ” . . . . “I could leave this room, and in 25 minutes, 70 million people would be dead.” – Nixon @ a White House dinner party

        At which point, a “Commander-in-Chief President Jack D Ripper” contingency plan was put into effect requiring independent confirmation of any such order.

  3. The “fire and the fury” is a “tale told by an idiot”…

  4. Susan Dumbrell says

    may wild words be stilled
    may chaos change to God’s peace
    our God reigns not ‘them’

    • Susan Dumbrell says

      God’s creation sighs
      our garden out of Eden
      relates not to Love

    • Susan, have you ever read Nevil Shute’s book On the Beach? That was pretty influential to me back when I read it as a teenager. Australia and the southern hemisphere was the last to die—not with a bang but a whimper—because the wars were in the north and it took several seasons for the fallout to get across the equator.

      • “Alas, Babylon” by Pat Frank is a good book about survival in a small town in Florida, perhaps a little out of date.
        “Tomorrow”, by Phillip Wylie is realistic book about attack featuring civil defense in Midwest. Also, Pulitzer Prize winner, “The Road,” bu Cormac McCarthy is sad and realistic. Let,s pray, friends

      • Susan Dumbrell says

        Ted, the prospect now of nuclear fall out or actual bombing of somewhere like Pine Gap in Aust. could mirror our fear in 1950’s as expressed in Nevil Schute’s book. Yes, I read it yonks ago too. It was also made into a movie in 1959. Star cast, Gregory Peck, Ava Gardiner. Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins.

        I do think that the chances of us lasting longer now than the northern hemisphere have been considerably narrowed.

        I agreed with the commentator, ‘we’ll all go together when we go’. Tom Lehrer

        Cheerful Charley, aint I? Ain’t we all today?


  5. No time now. Can’t wait to get home this afternoon.

    Don’t forget Tom Lehrer’s “We will all go together when we go.”

    • Christiane says

      is it at all possible that the bulk of fundamentalist Christians who backed Trump were supporting the idea of an ‘end of time’ conflagration at Trump’s hands?

      That is one conspiracy theory I neither want to accept NOR can I now look away from . . . . . not after the ‘Jeffress’ plug, no;

      except Jeffress says Trump will ‘keep us safe’ at all costs, (nuclear war is SAFE?) . . .
      frankly, I would not want to survive a nuclear conflagration . . . . . ‘the end of civilization, the beginning of survival’ (?)

      and Jeffress has the ignorance to say that he’s glad that pacifists did not succeed during WWII or we would all be saying ‘Heil Hitler; when in our time now, we are seeing THIS mess expressed openly NOW among the alt-right extremists:
      (see at about 2:01 where it starts)
      Heil Victory! Heil our people! Heil Trump! ????????

      c’mon Pastor Jeffress, do your homeword, sir . . . . . . (sigh)

      • Andrew Zook says

        “is it at all possible that the bulk of fundamentalist Christians who backed Trump were supporting the idea of an ‘end of time’ conflagration at Trump’s hands?

        That is one conspiracy theory I neither want to accept NOR can I now look away from . . . . . not after the ‘Jeffress’ plug, no;”
        I’ve wondered the same thing at times…if true for some, it’s a pretty sick low they’ve come to and a good reason to search for theological alternatives to the white evangelical interpretation of things. It forces one to believe there’s got to be something better…

        • Maybe it wasn’t a conscious goal, but their eschatology certainly provides a convenient excuse for it…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Especially when Hal Lindsay’s best-selling Late Great Planet Earth (which superseded the Bible in a lot of “Bible Studies”) interpreted ALL the plagues of Revelation as the effects of Global Thermonuclear War — ” SCRIPTURE PLAINLY STATES! IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”

            And that meme spread like fire through a lake of gasoline.

            Much much later, I realized that Lindsay had jumped onto the bandwagon of the Cold War meme “Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War” and given it a Christianese coat of paint. Plus adding an Altar Call Escape Clause with Darby’s Rapture.

            • The Root of War Is Fear
              Thomas Merton

              AT the root of all war is fear: not so much the fear men have of one another as the fear they have of everything. It is not merely that they do not trust one another; they do not even trust themselves. If they are not sure when someone else may turn around and kill them, they are still less sure when they may turn around and kill them¬selves. They cannot trust anything, because they have ceased to believe in God.
              IT is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too power¬ful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves.

              The entirety of the essay is here>>

        • Christiane says

          I worry that it’s the ‘something better’ our country might be in the mood to give up on

          we look at a man with an approval rating in the thirty’s and a disapproval rating in the high fifty’s/ low sixties, and we realize this same man will likely get re-elected in 2020 because of, well, you name it

          I can only hope Kelly and the other ‘generals’ on DT’s staff are patriots who are ‘country first’ or we are in bigger trouble than we realize

          some say the right want’s to cancel 2020 elections . . . . reason: ‘voter fraud’
          oh boy . . . . patriotism anyone? country first anyone?
          or do we just give up ‘who we are’ as a nation and instead wander down to the Colisseum to watch the gladiators perform while the Russians await at the gates for us to self-destruct ???

          • Yes, I read that, in an unscientific poll done by the Washington Post I believe, the majority of Republicans polled would be okay with deferring the 2020 elections if Donald Trump said there was likely to be widespread voter fraud. But don’t worry: Trump is no threat to democracy!

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              And another poll some months ago (unknown source) claimed that among Millenials, the most common answer to “what form of government would you prefer?” was “Strong Leader”, i.e, dictator.

            • That was the cute headline. But there was a lot more to that poll. That answer was after several questions which prefixed the main question and there was done as a test to see how much early questions in a poll affected later questions. Some internet searching will find the details for anyone who’s interested.

          • Brianthegrandad says

            And the same ones were saying Obama wanted to cancel the 2016 elections to stay in power. I’ve stopped listening altogether. Occasional local news-talk radio to keep up with the local shenanigans and that’s it.

      • “is it at all possible that the bulk of fundamentalist Christians who backed Trump were supporting the idea of an ‘end of time’ conflagration at Trump’s hands?”

        No. This kind of thinking is no different from those on the right who believed that a majority of the leftists who voted for Obama were hoping for the collapse of America.

        “and Jeffress has the ignorance to say that he’s glad that pacifists did not succeed during WWII or we would all be saying ‘Heil Hitler; when in our time now, we are seeing THIS mess expressed openly NOW among the alt-right extremists:”

        Again, no. There is a big difference between a few extremists who willingly do these things, and the whole nation being forced to do them.

        • Christiane says

          thanks for the push-back, Jon

          I do tend to look at something like the extremists video and remember what my good father once said . . . . that we would see another Hitler in our time

          maybe it’s Steve Bannon I ought to be worried about . . . . . what’s his game?
          it’s one thing to take down and dismantle ‘Western civilization’ politically, and another thing to use the nuclear option because that crazy little fat kid over in North Korea blusters and gets The Donald going

          is possible that these days, China is appearing to be ‘the adult in the room’, yes?

          • I do think Trump versus some other ego maniac was one of the worst case scenarios of his presidency. I dread the thought of any more war, especially one that can go nuclear. But if are past leadership allowed things to progress to the point that North Korea managed to develop nuclear weapons, they failed as well. I don’t know what the solution is. And if China is the adult in the room, that is a scary thought. That’s an adult that can’t be trusted.

            But one thing we do need to avoid is being paranoid about our neighbors who disagree with us. That’s hard sometimes when we disagree about some very big issues, and when there are always a few nut jobs that seem to confirm our paranoia, but it is necessary if we are going to be able to get along and stand together.

            • Christiane says

              point taken,
              but it DOES seem like it’s those ‘few nut jobs’ that are getting the attention in high places these days

              it’s worrysome, yes, especially for people like who have family members in the armed services

          • I do tend to look at something like the extremists video and remember what my good father once said . . . . that we would see another Hitler in our time

            That may be, but it really can’t be Trump; he lacks the demonic self-discipline and ideology necessary to a Hitler. That doesn’t mean he can’t do a hell of a lot of damage, and pave the way for a Hitler to follow in his tracks. He may be a forerunner.

            • Yeah Trump is not Mussolini, he’s Bozo the Clown. He will do plenty of damage – through his incompetence.

              This North Korea thing is just bluster. The military isn’t doing anything different. But Trump is too stupid to realize that bluster on the part of a world leader, especially on the part of the leader of the USA, is sign of weakness, not strength, and I’m sure all the bad actors in the world are interpreting it that way. Trump is alienating our allies and enabling our enemies. He is undermining our place in the world already precarious at best.

              How sad and desperate do you have to be to think Trump is the solution to your problems?

              • He managed to piss off all Latin American countries with regard to his threat against Venezuela; even Venezuela’s harshest South American critics are siding with it against the US. Good work, Mr. Pres; maybe it would be better if you stay on the golf course 24/7.

              • Christiane says

                “How sad and desperate do you have to be to think Trump is the solution to your problems?”

                Stephen, I look at Butler PA where my husband grew up . . . . even in recent memory a thriving steel town, now laid to waste and known as the ‘drug pick-up place for Pittsburgh’. . . .

                there are thousands of places like Butler in our country now . . . . home to many young men who have a real challenge finding work and a way forward so that they can take their place among our ‘consumer society’ . . . . . many of these young men go into the military (as did my husband and his six brothers), and so find paths to the better paying jobs that come from military training and education in technical fields. But a lot of young men stay in those towns and they ARE sad, and they ARE in despair.

                Maybe Trump was the avatar of their frustration?

              • Quote of the day;

                How sad and desperate do you have to be to think Trump is the solution to your problems?

      • When the kids of those who witnessed the bombing remember the Old Stories and the warnings but not the reasonings come into power…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        is it at all possible that the bulk of fundamentalist Christians who backed Trump were supporting the idea of an ‘end of time’ conflagration at Trump’s hands?

        Don’t know about “bulk of”, but there were definitely some. My writing partner (the burned-out preacher) told me recently he’d encountered a few (number and time indeterminate), mostly End Time Prophecy types who voted for Trump to fulfill Prophecy and launch Armageddon. Legacy of Hal Lindsay and all those End Times preachers from Thieme on.

        Me? I’m having flashbacks like I haven’t had since the Seventies/Eighties. Every nuclear war novel, nonfiction, and movie I have ever seen. And the glib responses to same from family (in childhood) and Christians (from time in-country). Hard time sleeping, hard time eating. Even had auditory hallucinations yesterday I haven’t had since high school — I could hear civil defense sirens wailing faintly in the distance; had to go outside to confirm it was a hallucination.

        And having to deal with all the spin from the newsfeeds as well as a Trump Can Do No Wrong type sure hasn’t helped. (Spin example: China’s announcement that they would remain neutral in a Second Korean War if NK struck first, spun by Fox News as “China will back NK if Trump responds”.) Having someone at work greet you with “Are we at war yet?” Afternoon drive-time radio starting an hour with “And about North Korea and World War Three, Think Nice Thoughts” followed by a news story about contractors building bomb/fallout shelters in Montebello.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          P.S. During the Eighties I was involved in an abortive SF writing project that included a future history timeline. I remember putting a major Mideast war in 1991 (same year as the First Gulf War) — and a nuclear World War III in 2017.

          I remember where the number 2017 came from; “LA 2017” ( ), a dystopian SF made-for-TV movie I’d seen in the early Seventies. (Though the Armageddon in that backstory was ecological collapse instead of nuclear.) Still, it’s weirding me out.

          • Christiane says

            but Headless, at least here on this blog you can talk about it all . . . . .

            we don’t always agree here, but people let each other talk and they ‘listen’ too, which doesn’t happen on a lot of other blogs that identify as Christian

            the closer a blog gets to the fundamentalist-evangelical end of the spectrum, the more folks are expected to be ‘lock-step’ on matters religious AND political . . . . these days, Trump is IN on those blogs and why am I not surprised?

            Hope you feel better soon, Headless.

            • Yes Christiane, here you can talk about it, thanks everyone

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              I wasn’t too concerned about the auditory hallucination. It IS something I get when I’m under stress, more of an “auditory illusion” than anything else. (You should have heard the ones I had after I watched Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and (the original) Godzilla back to back for the first time around age seven…) Though actually for the past several years I’ve been more prone to “olfactory illusions” — SMELLING some aroma that isn’t there.

              • Christiane says

                Headless, let your doctor know about this:
                you might be having a medicine or substance reaction and need to get levels adjusted. Sounds serious, this business, yes. I would call and make an appointment asap, yep.

          • Jolting when something of reality bangs into imagination…

        • I will pray for you, HUG.

        • End Time Prophecy types who voted for Trump to fulfill Prophecy and launch Armageddon.

          It seems like a cheap shot to toss a bible verse at everything, but if it’s the only thing some fundamentalists understand, then, well, what about Romans 6:1 and Paul’s not-so-rhetorical question, “Should we sin that grace may abound?” And his hearty reply, “Not by a damn sight!” (my translation)

          HUG, remember that civil defense official during the Reagan years (among others, as I remember, who speculated about the opportunities and challenges and benefits of nuclear war) who inspired a book called With Enough Shovels? I googled this:

          Mr. Jones told his guest that nuclear war was ”not nearly as devastating as we had been led to believe. He said, ‘If there are enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.’ The shovels were for digging holes in the ground, which would be covered somehow or other with a couple of doors and with three feet of dirt thrown on top. … ‘It’s the dirt that does it,’ he said.”

          You should probably set your car radio on classical music stations for a while.

      • Christiane, take a look at this column by Jonathan Merritt about evangelicals and Trump. He says that it’s one thing to back candidate Trump as the lesser of two evils, but if we don’t confront president Trump on important matters we become complicit with him.

        • Christiane says

          Hi TED,
          thanks for the link

          I’m keeping watch today to see how many of his supporters confront him about NOT voicing condemnation against the white supremacist terrorism which resulted in death and injuries. We shall see.

          I do believe that when people don’t stand up against evil, that they are complicit by virtue of knowing it is happening and by looking ‘away’ in silence. ‘Complicit’ almost seems too pale a word for such irresponsibility.

  6. senecagriggs says

    I still adore Dr. Strangelove. Peter Sellers was never better.

  7. Clay Crouch says

    “Gentleman, you can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!”

    • “Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed! But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops! Depending on the breaks.”

  8. I used to have a VHS tape of FailSafe and Strangelove back-to-back.

  9. Duck and cover! More like; bend over, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye!

    • Klasie Kraalogies says


    • How about stand up and say You’ll never take away my victory in Him. After all we’ve been kissing our ass good bye since our first breath here as we now know ourselves. I don’t know started dying since day one.

    • I remember doing those drills early in elementary school—took it seriously.

      During the Cuban Missile Crisis my uncle worked at the Pentagon. At one point he called home, told my aunt to load up the kids in the station wagon, head west and don’t stop for at least 24 hrs. That Crisis became a crisis because Kennedy was too laid back and didn’t make any definitive moves until things had gone too far.

  10. another day forms
    like a circle in the void
    its blessing is light

  11. Our little trip down memory lane failed to include a late entry, Matthew Broderick playing the game Thermonuclear War with NORAD’s computer (I believe its name was Jethro) in the film War Games which ended up proving that NOBODY WINS, just like in Tic-Tac-Toe.

    Maybe President Trump should watch it two times and call his doctor in the morning.

    • Too many italics spoil the broth.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I remember all the scenarios NORAD’s AI was running through near the end. No matter what the title, the only difference was the first few bursts in-theater before all North America and Eurasia were covered with overlapping fireballs.

    • His attention span isn’t long enough to watch that movie. Perhaps you could send him something simpler, like the double-spaced, one page security briefings he receives, with lots of illustrations. Comic strip format and length would be ideal, but keep the vocabulary simple.

  12. It’s hard for me to joke about any of this. I’m no more afraid of dying as a result of nuclear conflagration than anything else; one way or another, I’m mortal. But I am terribly afraid, as a citizen of my country and a member of the human race, of being morally culpable for, and complicit in, the death and destruction of untold numbers of human and other beings on the Korean peninsula and other places as a result of total/nuclear war. It’s no laughing matter to be involved in such horrific, creation-mutilating sin. I can’t imagine God will look kindly on the commissions or omissions that lead to such a sinful eventuality. Anyone so involved (and that is many of us) stands guilty before God. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

  13. State practiced nuclear deterrence is terrorism. That’s why some of the Tweeted words of our president sound no different from the public pronouncements of ISIS leaders after or before a terrorist attack. Ours is a world in which small groups and large states alike practice the same morally indefensible strategies of coercion and violence. We should never wonder why our modern world is one typified by surging terrorism; its most powerful leading countries have provided the model, and given the moral rationale, for such terrorism.

    • “The Melians believe that they will have the assistance of the gods because their position is morally just. The Athenians counter that the gods will not intervene because it is the natural order of things for the strong to dominate the weak.”

      Nothing new under the sun…

    • Oh, and here’s another gem from the Melian Dialogue…

      “The Melians argue that they are a neutral city and not an enemy, so Athens has no need to conquer them. The Athenians counter that if they accept Melos’ neutrality and independence, they would look weak: Their subjects would think that they left Melos alone because they were not strong enough to conquer it.”

      Doesn’t THAT have a chilling ring of familiarity…

    • True.

      Tweetster’s bombast is a sign of weakness.

  14. Klasie Kraalogies says

    It is somewhat weird for me, watching all this, and remembering that the country of my birth is still the only one to ever voluntary give up its nuclear arms, and destroy the capability of making them.

    • Yeah they so much prefer other forms of death.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says


        • Meaning old age for one. Not violence and hate driven war and a good start for them. The whole of the continent sadly is surely doing a good job of making up for that. Now that wasn’t and shouldn’t be a blanket statement.

          I once walked with a man from Nigeria and he was always bragging about his home country and telling people how they should live. It drove me crazy because he was here and his entire family was there He would say things like your son asked you for one of my trucks you should have gave him that instead of selling him it. I thought you don’t know nothing. I worked for it and I sold it to him at a deal and even so he will take care of it better since he worked for it too. He once told me how many children he had. Way to many for me.

          Let’s say the southern tip has had the fortune to do things. but at one time it wasn’t so nice and I myself don’t keep up with it.

          Bottom line death is reality.

    • Klasie that’s because your people are sane. Americans are simply insane on certain subjects Take Pastor Jeffress who is happier than a pig in sh*t to be on the Tee Veee. He is completely crazy. He will go far over here.

  15. Now our crazy president is threatening Venezuela by saying that US military intervention is not “off the table” in regard to that country’s internal turmoil. Last time I checked, Venezuela was not threatening military attack against the US, nor does it have a nuclear development program. Isn’t it against international law to threaten possible military action against a sovereign nation without provocation?

    Oh, I forgot: Venezuela has oil, and it’s a communist country unfriendly to the US! To hell with international law, and basic rules of just war theory! Let’s invade and take what we want for Rex and the other oil interests represented in the White House staff!

    • Don’t worry, we won’t invade Venezuela – there’s no oil down there that’s worth taking. :-/

      • Actually there is. We, the US, buy a lot of it. Maybe most of it still. Their oil is very heavy crude full of sulfur. Think road tar. And there aren’t many refineries that can handle it. Most of them not in Venezuela are on the Gulf coast of the US. Which is why previous administrations mostly ignored rantings by whoever heads up the country. Aside from the speeches everyone knew where the oil was sold and who needed the money.

        • Ever buy fuel at a CITGO station/convenience store?

          “Citgo Petroleum Corporation is a Venezuelan-owned American refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products.” Wikipedia

  16. My grade school was five or six miles downstream from the Ford River Rouge Plant and my classroom was on that side of the school. I recall being vaguely aware of this at the time but never lost a minute of sleep, nor do I remember anyone else agonizing. Nuclear drills were like fire drills. In retrospect, both probably offered the best chance of dealing with a scenario that never happened. Pretty much how I view today’s brouhaha. The only time in my life that I felt any possibility of actual disaster was during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that one was averted by a Russian Naval Commander disobeying standing orders to his later great harm.

    I have a genuine Fallout Shelter sign on my garage. Younger people have no idea what it is. Older people may or may not think it’s funny, probably corresponding with whether or not they find Dr. Strangelove amusing. My neighbor’s wife wondered whether there would be room enough for everyone. I find it interesting that so many people believe the Punch and Judy Show is reality, and even more interesting that unlike during the height of the Cold War, now it is the Left promoting angst and discord. If I thought I would be going up in a radioactive flash at any moment, I would be out planting trees instead of trying to catch up with getting my winter firewood done. If things do go south, you all are welcome in my garage.

    • I was born in 1954 and can’t ever remember doing any nuclear drills. I suspect the adults in the area figure we were toast in any such war. Let’s see. SAC bomber and missile bases a few hours to the west, Fort Campbell an hour or two to the south, and, oh yeah, 40% or so the nuclear refinement capability at the plant where my dad worked.

      I do still have the transistor radio he bought in 62 during the Cuban crisis. I think it was either $20 or $40. A huge sum in those days. AM only. 🙂

      • >> I was born in 1954 and can’t ever remember doing any nuclear drills.

        I just figured and the last I remember was probably 1949, and I only remember a year or two, probably leading up to the Korean “War”. I would have guessed it was later. and perhaps it was in some places, but I imagine it was similar thruout the country, and may have been as much mental and social programming as anything. Given so many folks here with vivid memories of crouching under their desk in terror, I would speculate that either a lot of people here are a lot older than they claim, or they in later life saw footage of these drills or heard accounts and “appropriated” the experience into their personal memories, or would at least like to have you believe their war-torn childhood. I’m guessing there are perhaps two regular commenters here who might remember the end of World War 2 along with me. I remember that and FDR’s funeral, but not the slightest memory of the nuclear bombing of Japan. I don’t know if it was just off my own personal radar or if it didn’t make that much impact at the time since we already had fire-bombing Dresden under our belt with the same casualties and horror. Just a bigger and more efficient bomb. I think if a lot of folks here could remember Joseph McCarthy, there might be a little less bombast, note the word similarities.

        • I think if a lot of folks here could remember Joseph McCarthy, there might be a little less bombast, note the word similarities.

          A lot of the pro Trump bombast I see on Facebook, especially from relatives, comes from people younger than me. I was 20 when Nixon resigned. And the last 6 months seem eerily familiar.

  17. In the book/movie “The Mouse That Roared” after declaring war on the United States involving a dispute involving a knockoff brand of wine that is killing their nation’s economy, an invading “army” from the tiny Duchy of Grand Fenwick (land area 3 miles x 5 miles) arrives in New York City during a civil defence type of drill, and finding the city apparently empty then goes on to win a war they were strategically planning to lose.

  18. Hey look, everyone, the “alt-right” was out marching last night! They stocked up at their college Walmart and totally took to the streets to show that white lives matter.


    • They’ll be in Charlottesville today.

      • Christiane says

        they are there and there is violence in the streets . . . . . it’s in the news now

      • Burro [Mule] says

        Just out of curiosity, did they break out windows; start buildings on fire; loot every business in the area and attack the police?

        I think the arrests came as police attempted to separate two groups who basically want to kill each other.

        • Burro [Mule] says

          God bless the Charlottesville Police Dept.

          My instinct would be to allow the self-cleaning oven to run through its cycle.

          • That was tried in Yugoslavia. Look how THAT ended up. 🙁

          • Christiane says

            Charlottesville is a VERY civilized place.
            The citizens would not let it be destroyed by those thugs. My brother has already purchased a home in Charlottesville that will be his retirement home in a few years. It’s a lovely, lovely town, and it will remain the antithesis of a setting for this kind of violence and hatred.

        • I suppose if they end up terrorizing whole communities and maybe lynch someone, that’s certainly better than breaking into buildings built on capitalism or attack our heroes in blue and black in self-defense.

          …Seriously, wtf. I don’t understand your response. I’m not even sure how many fallacies that just was…

  19. But let’s not kid ourselves: our military was targeting civilians before nuclear weapons existed:

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      It’s a legacy of AIr Power advocates of the Twenties and Thirties, who taught that all you needed to win a war was to bomb the enemy’s homeland back into the stone age.

    • This debate got heavy here a few years back. A major point was made that once firearms were invented all war had to be total or you lost before you got started. Even if you didn’t start it.

      And yes I know some here will disagree. I accept your disagreement.

  20. A hearty “Amen!” to Mark Galli and a categorical “No!” to those who foolishly foster even the remotest possibility of using nuclear weapons as instruments of war.

    Their very existence as part of a nation’s military is predicated on the possibility that they may be used as weapons of war. That means that every US administration from the 1940s down, Democratic and Republican alike, has “foolishly” fostered the possibility that they might be used for just such a purpose. It’s an amoral possibility and threat in the very marrow of our continued existence as a international superpower.

    • Burro [Mule] says

      And Isildur should have thrown the Ring into the Cracks of Doom when he first took possession of it, shouldn’t have he?

      Atomic weaponry has always struck me as being different in kind from conventional weaponry, rather than degree. It depends entirely on violating the Chalcedonian Adverbs; its power proceeds from the confusion, change, division, andseparation of unstable elements. It is, if I may say so, a negation of theosis.

      I’m kind of with RobertF here. We should have abandoned the Bomb right after we saw what it could do, but it’s hard to say if being the morally upright slaves of some hellish Maoist regime would have been palatable to most Americans from the 40s onward.

      Where the body is, the vultures will gather.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        PS – Fifth grade in Washington DC during the Cuban Missile Crisis

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          First or second grade in Greater Los Angeles.
          I remember the fireproof dogtags we had to wear for the “bomb drills”.

        • That Other Jean says

          Sophomore in high school during the Cuba Missile Crisis, right outside D.C. We firmly believed we were going to die, right up to the last minute. So did our parents.

          • Christiane says

            My husband was a very young sailor on one of the destroyers that formed the blockade to prevent the Soviets from bringing the missiles into Cuba. He remembers the feeling that war was imminent. Now he says that the Russians have got a useful idiot in the White House, although the Congress is giving push-back against the dissolving of NATO. My husband says if NATO falls, the Russians will have won big time.

        • 3rd grade. Phoenix, AZ. Salano elementary.

      • Given the fact that we hold these weapons for potential use at all times, I find it impossible to criticize the threat involved in Trump’s Tweets, since it is the threat involved at all times in possessing the weapons. I do criticize the wisdom of his public statements as not only likely but actually having ratcheted up the escalation of this crisis. He lacks the intellectual and emotional maturity to not play chicken unnecessarily with nuclear weapons. It is his provocative Tweeting that led quickly to Kim’s threat against Guam. If he had to threaten, it should’ve been through diplomatic channels rather than out in the street, where Kim’s psychology made it impossible for him to do anything but up the ante. I’m sure Trump’s military advisors told him all this after the fact, or even before it, of Trump’s Tweets, but to no avail, since Trump is as psychologically stunted as Kim.

      • Saturation/carpet bombing violates the same Adverbs. We violated them in our fire-bombing of Japan in the 1940’s and our carpet-bombing of North Korea in the 1950s. Ask General LeMay, if you can find him somewhere in the bardos when you (we) get there.

    • Robert

      Just how was the genie supposed to be put back in the bottle once nuclear fission was discovered?

      • That Other Jean says

        It couldn’t have been, of course. It’s like porn on the internet is supposed to be–if you can think it, someone will be doing it.

      • I was making an observation; I don’t suppose anything, except that we who live by the sword shall die by it. Terrorism will continue, and we ourselves are terrorists of the first order..

  21. Mark Galli is a smart guy and almost always has words of wisdom, but he won’t get a serious hearing in much of white evangelicalism and certainly not in the halls of power. Jeffries and the other nutcases will.

    And this is the case because of what the vast majority (80%) of white evangelicals did: vote for Trump. And continue to do: about two-thirds still support this administration.

    So, there has often been no immediate and widespread disavowal and disapproval from white evangelicalism to the evils and foolishness and foul crassness that this president and administration engage in.

    So, we have large, violent white supremacist rallies today in Charlottesville and I can predict with considerable certainty that there will be either no response or some half-assed or outright stupid response from the nation’s highest leaders and/or their evangelical supporters.

    These facts speak volumes. The few Mark Gallis won’t be enough to make white evangelicalism in America truly Christian. It’s become something else. It’s lost.

    What does one do when a large swath of what claims to be the church isn’t?

    I’m not sure. So far I’m staying away and praying more. And sometimes (not often enough) speaking out.

    • What does one do when a large swath of what claims to be the church isn’t?

      This is not new. This has always been the case. Always.

      God damned America a long, long time ago.

      • Not new in character, but the dimension and scope of it has certainly changed with their “dream president” now in power. That kind of thing hasn’t happened in a long time. And when it has it has never ended well.

        • One of God’s worst judgments is to give you exactly what you want. Exhibit A – Israel and Saul.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      So, there has often been no immediate and widespread disavowal and disapproval from white evangelicalism to the evils and foolishness and foul crassness that this president and administration engage in.

      Instead, we have Court Evangelicals like Jeffries laying on the flattery with trowels.

    • Andrew Zook says

      John, you said, “I’m not sure. So far I’m staying away and praying more. And sometimes (not often enough) speaking out.”
      But what do you even say? Where do you start? I’m in a similar situation and am surrounded by the foolishness of this trump-supporting “church”. What I’ve come to realize is that the rot is so deep in the root that to even try, at least in hum-drum, casual conversation is just scratching their surface a little and nothing less than a complete overall of their theolog/philosophy is necessary but exceedingly difficult to do in normal conversations. I’d love to recommend books and podcasts etc… but they don’t read much and if they do it’s flaky devotionals or bonnet novels or FB or nothing…. And most don’t read long form investigative journalism of any kind or listen to pbs because those are “liberal” and not “christian”. I’m just curious what you actually say to people because I’ve about given up. It seems the only hope is time and disillusionment when reality comes around to bite them from behind, because epistemic closure and near complete ignorance of Reality is at a peak in this group… (disclosure: I’m a pessimist)

      So what do you say when you “speak out”

      • Christiane says

        We just had a real discussion on ‘slavery’ and ‘white supremacy’ over at SBCtoday and I was impressed how it was that someone came bringing support for slavery as an institution and in how that was received and refuted. It was actually pretty much a civil dialogue and I credit the moderator for stepping it and being a part of it. It actually showed up during a blog concerning LBGT issues.

        The older I get, the more the ‘isms’ and ‘issues’ involving hatred run together and we see the same themes show up in all of them. Different ‘labels’, same hatred. Different issues, same lack of tolerance for differences.

        I do think we need a national dialogue where people can be open and honest about thoughts and feelings, and other folks will ‘listen’ for once and even ask ‘why do you feel that way?’ . . . . ’cause when people are ‘silenced’, what happens next may not be what was expected at all.

      • I don’t move in evangelical circles much anymore, so it’s not as much of an issue. Usually I just say my piece and don’t get into long arguments. I know I’m not going to change people. That’s too long and involved a process. But maybe the words and warnings I and others give will have some effect down the line, or be part of a larger cumulative effect. That’s about the best I can hope for.

        One nice thing is that I’m too old to really care what others think of me.

  22. It’s yet again time for me to reread Moby Dick.

  23. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Thankfully, they enlisted another point of view to counter this crap.

    Unfortunately, the “another point of view” was a Romish(TM) Apostate(TM), which would also invoke “NO POPERY!” among the born-agains.

  24. Threads – arguably the best nuclear war movie made. And one of the most depressing movies you’ll ever see. BBC (1984):

  25. Heather Angus says

    What a trip down Memory Lane. Yeah, those were the Good Old Days. I remember Duck and Cover — getting under our desks because that would stop that pesky radiation.

    It didn’t exactly worry me, the threat of nuclear annihilation, but it did convince me. When our dad asked us (I was about 14; my brother and sister were younger) what we wanted to be when we grew up, we looked at him with astonished pity, and explained that we weren’t going to grow up, because we were going to be wiped out by the atom bomb. Just one of those things. How could he not know that?

    I’d like to offer an opinion about the current situation, but since I predicted Trump had no chance of winning, I’ve given up offering political opinions.

  26. Yup, definitely experiencing “a serious wave of dreadful nostalgia.” First grade the autumn of the Cuban Missile Crisis; I had no idea what was going on, but I remember my dad – 9-year USMC veteran who saw all the worst battles in the Pacific Theater in 1944-45 – being very, very worried and thinking about building a bomb shelter in our backyard in Montana.

    Every year, my eighth grade science teacher showed his classes a documentary on the aftermath of the A-bombs dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was doing his part to show, instead of just tell, the results of using such weaponry, and to help us think about these things. Didn’t the president ever have something similar as a part of his education??? Didn’t he ever learn about that August in 1945?

    I hope the generals with whom he is surrounding himself talk some sense into him. Any sane military person hates war. One of the reasons I didn’t vote for Clinton is that she is too hawkish re Syria, but she would never have acted as stupidly wrt North Korea as Trump is acting now.

    God help us.


  27. I was only three years old during the Cuban missile crisis, and don’t remember it. I don’t remember practicing nuclear fallout drills in school at all during the 1960s either, but that could be because of deficient memory, I’m not sure. I was aware that nuclear war a possibility from an early age, but don’t remember feeling especially threatened by it. I was fascinated by things atomic, and I suppose that the possibility might have even been an exciting one to me. God knows, there were enough personal family dramas and melodramas in the first decade of my life to make the possibility of nuclear Armageddon seem like a grand adventure, and I was a morbidly withdrawn and socially isolated little kid. I don’t feel I was psychologically scarred by the nuclear scares I grew up among.

    • I have a friend, age 67, whose dad was in fact a nuclear engineer, and who used to affectionately call him “My little atom bomb…”


  28. I wonder if anybody from your side of the pond ever wonders about their responsibility for the rest of the world. Being the worlds only superpower means having a responsibility. For instance, since last weeks my anxiety levels (and those of a lot of other people in Europe) have gone through the roof. I thought I would not be confronted by nuclear war in my life time. Since the fall of the Berlin wall that seemed to be past. But now we live in that reality again, of total mutual destruction and the end of civilisation.
    And the part that raises the anxiety is that I can do nothing to prevent it. I could not vote against Trump, I cannot protest him or do anything to lessen the threat of nuclear war. So my only defense against something I have no control over is cynicism and world weary resignation. And hope I will still sleep well, which is hard knowing that a raving mad man is threatening to destroy everything you hold dear.
    So, yes, I hold the american people responsible for my anxiety and fear. (In the cold war it was the russians I held responsible, now it is you). Choosing a president like Trump and causing anxiety for the rest of the world has consequences. For me the US is now the country that voted Trump into office. And that colours my perception of you and your moral position.
    Same for evangelical culture, the closed minds, the lust for power, that anti-intellectual conspiracy thinking, this has unmasked it all, and put the finishing touches on my retreat from evangelical faith. Even if your next president is better, from now on the US will to me and many europeans be the country that allowed Trump to be in office, the country that voted for a known bully and misogynist, a liar and a narcisist – because americans wanted to make america great again.
    In the eyes of the rest of the world you have been diminished to an unpredictable, dangerous second world state, where hate and prejudice reign, and a nation that threatens innocent lives all over the world to protect your own image of yourself (as I know for sure I will also suffer and possibly die once a nuclear war is started and escalated). We in the Netherlands still talk about the Germans as the people who ‘stole our bikes’ during world war two, in the same way in twenty years we will still talk about the Americans as the people who voted for Trump. Sad.

    • I hear you, Johan. So now we have a sub-set of Americans who are much happier and feel much safer/better due to Trump, while the rest of us Americans and all of the free world and un-free world fret. So let’s just say that 1% of the total world population is better off with Trump, while 99% is worse off. Yay for us! (sarcasm)

    • Patriciamc says

      The majority of us actually voted against Trump. He was elected because of a tecnicality in our Constitution. Enough, though, voted for him, which is a problem. It all goes back to our current culture of extremism fostered by reality TV, news outlets and radio personalities that manufacture outrage because outrage equals viewers which equals dollars, and then all of the sudden, the extremism is not on the side-lines, it’s now the norm. As for Trump, he’s a symptom of the problem, and people voted for him because he told them exactly what they wanted to hear (never, ever follow a politician who tells you exactly what you want to hear because reality is usually what we don’t want to hear). So yes, we deserve your criticism. The US will recover its sanity, but it will be a while, and even longer before we recover our credibility.

      • The majority of us actually voted against Trump. He was elected because of a tecnicality in our Constitution.

        You make it sound like a mistake when set up. The way we elect Presidents is there for a reason. And I support their reasoning. Even more so in today’s US where we are way past 300 million in a country spread across a continent.

        And I voted against Trump.

        • I understand the wisdom of their reasoning. But I think in this case it had a result they would not have been happy with. Nothing works perfectly; in this case, this feature of our Constitution resulted in a crisis-inducing outcome.

        • Patriciamc says

          He did win because of a technicality, the Electoral College. No, I’m not for doing away with it either. Trump, though did not win based on the will of the majority.

    • Christiane says

      ” . . . from now on the US will to me and many europeans be the country that allowed Trump to be in office, the country that voted for a known bully and misogynist, a liar and a narcisist – because americans wanted to make america great again”

      Johan, the irony of this cannot be denied

    • Don’t worry John. In no time at all China will take over as the world’s only super power…

  29. Oh, and seeing Americans walk around with swastika’s and nazi-symbols, and their president failing to really condemn those, is anxiety inducing as well.
    We in the Netherlands suffered under nazi-reign for five years. No fun. Even being the third generation after that still makes me shiver.

    • Christiane says

      your words mirror my own thoughts that we Americans have turned a corner and I’m not sure there’s any going back without violence

      every Lenten season, I watch that film ‘The Hiding Place’ and I think, ‘never again’, but now we see a re-birth in a new form in our own land and we see the swastika worn anew

      “what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

      we took so much for granted . . . . maybe too much, so now we are paying for not speaking up when first we heard the voice of race hatred in the ‘Birther’ movement . . . . we didn’t realize the depth of the hate or the voice that would soon give it recognition on the national stage in a affirming way, and so it begins to unfold in our own land, even in the civilized streets of lovely Charlottesville, the home of Mr. Jefferson’ school . . . . shivers? you bet

      • Christiane, Paul Simon’s song “American Tune” has been popping to mind lately. Here’s a live performance of him two years ago on Stephen Colbert’s show. Still got it.

        For lived so well so long
        Still, when I think of the road
        We’re traveling on
        I wonder what went wrong
        I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

    • Because we were traveling, I missed the news of the day until I logged on late in the evening. Talk about horrifying (the event) and disappointing (the President’s essential non-response).

      • Christiane says

        methinks the President’s ‘non-response’ was ‘code’ to ‘his base’,
        but we all heard it, loud and clear

        no one is fooled

        • Christiane says

          in Germany, the sculptor Opolka has created over sixty dramatic statues to mark the return of the extreme right (Nazism, racism) to Western civilization. The display is called ‘The Return of the Wolves’

        • The white nationalist “protesters” were young people. To see so many young people embrace a depraved narrative of American history grieves me. I’m glad, however, that there were thousands of counter-protesters in opposition to the hundreds of white nationalists, and they were young too. The white nationalists will meet the same level of opposition in most major and middle-sized cities. The fact is, they’re outnumbered by a margin of at least 3 to 1 in this country. They will lose. Even at the risk of turmoil and potential violence, I believe it’s important for them to be challenged in the streets wherever they show their face of hatred. May the young woman and police officers killed in Charlottesville yesterday rest in peace.

        • I feel so much grief over this. The tears keep coming.

      • The president’s non-response to the Minnesota terrorist attack on a mosque has been a total eclipse of compassion. Definite signal to his base.

  30. What does one do when a vast swath of what cases to be the congregation isn’t? This is not new. This has dependably been the situation. Continuously. God condemned America a long, long time back.

    • –> “God condemned America a long, long time back.”

      That’s a very ” ‘Murica First ” perspective. And if it’s true, is there any place on earth that God has NOT condemned? Are we supposed to move there?

      I’m pretty sure God is more interested in His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, than these earthly, man-made kingdoms.

  31. McCarthyism had such an effect on the country that when the Cincinnati Reds changed their team name to the Redlegs people wondered if this was a move to avoid the appearance of communism.