Saturday, March 17, 2007

Apocalypse, Wow! Praying for a Bloodbath

"Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. … They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission."

Michael Ledeen
Neo-conservative ghoul

There are several revealing articles out on the web right now covering the "Literary Lunch" Maximum Ruler held at the White House with a group of A-list neo-conservatives. Accounts of that luncheon from both the left and right confirm very clearly the apocalyptic thinking of the "War President". For instance:
Accounts of a Feb. 28 "literary luncheon" at the White House suggest that President George W. Bush's reading tastes -- until now a remarkably good predictor of his policy views -- are moving ever rightward, even apocalyptic, despite his administration's recent suggestions that it is more disposed to engage Washington's foes, even in the Middle East.

The luncheon, attended as well by Vice President Dick Cheney and a dozen hard-line neo-conservatives, was held in honor of visiting British historian Andrew Roberts whose latest work, "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900", Bush reportedly read late last year and subsequently sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Cheney took the book with him on his recent trip to Pakistan.


A major lesson of history, Roberts told Bush, is that "will trumps wealth," according to Stelzer's account of the meeting in the Weekly Standard. He warned that "the steady drumbeat of media pessimism and television coverage are sapping the West's will" to fight and defeat the enemy which, in his view, includes Iran, as well as Sunni radicals, such as al Qaeda.

OK, so that's just a guy giving the President advice, right? You can't blame Bush for things people say to him, you say? Fair enough. But what about this?
In his article, Stelzer, an economist at the Hudson Institute and London Sunday Times columnist, disclosed that Bush had also recommended that his staff and friends read another, even more apocalyptic, analysis of the current war on terror, "America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It", by Toronto-born neo-conservative columnist Mark Steyn.

Steyn's book, which, unlike Roberts', actually made the New York Times bestseller list, sees Europe's demographic trends and its multicultural, "post-nationalist" secularism -- of which his native Canada is also guilty -- as leading inevitably to the "Eupocalypse", the "recolonization of Europe by Islam", the emergence of "Eurabia", and the onset of a "new Dark Ages" in which the United States will find it difficult to survive as the "lonely candle of liberty."

Well, the above characterization aside, what do we really know about this book and why should we assume that it's influence on the most powerful man in the world it's a bad thing?

Christopher Hitchens, no bleeding-heart liberal himself, reviewed this book for the City Journal and quotes Steyn as follows:

"Why did Bosnia collapse into the worst slaughter in Europe since World War Two? In the thirty years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 percent to 31 percent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 percent to 44 percent. In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography—except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out—as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent."

"Cull them"? Excuse me but... did he just endorse ethnic cleansing?

Dave Neiwart, what do you think?
I don't see how it's possible to interpret this excerpt -- given that Steyn is also contending that these demographics are inevitable throughout Europe, and he offers no solution that would accommodate or assimilate Muslims -- as anything other than outright advocacy of genocide and the Bosnian model of "ethnic cleansing" for the rest of Europe.

Agreed. The President of the United States is now running around recommending this book both to his staff and to friends and associates.

Oh, but wait. There's more. What about that other book mention earlier that Dick Cheney keeps under his arm for long trips abroad?

Glenn Greenwald has the goods:
Roberts recently wrote the right-wing historical revisionism tract entitled History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. The book, as Roberts himself described it in an interview with Front Page Magazine, "does not consider British imperialism to have been a Bad Thing, argues that the Versailles Treaty was not harsh enough on Germany, [and] defends the bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki . . . . " A central theme is that "Intellectuals of the Left bear a heavy responsibility for the cruelties and savagery of the 20th century," and Roberts' world-view is filled with banalities like this:

I fear, in the light of Congress's recent nonbinding (and utterly self-contradictory) resolution opposing the surge, the gross bias of much of the Left-Liberal media, and the present poll ratings of Sen Hillary Clinton, that the US will lose the will to fight the War against Terror in any manner that might hold out the hope of ultimate victory.

So one can see why Roberts was chosen to be honored as the President's new favorite historian, and why his "history" book, which affirms George Bush's imperial worldview in every way, has become one of the President's favorites.

That's quite a reading list he has there. But, isn't there a lot of pressure from the American people to abandon this destructive course, Mr. Bush?
"I just don't feel any," he says with the calm conviction of a man who believes the constituency to which he must ultimately answer is the Divine Presence.

Ah, of course...

See also:

Doomsday Book: Bush Literary Lunch Foretells Horrors Ahead
Empire Burlesque


Fox News STILL Smearing Obama

Ohhhh, SNAAAAAP! G-DUB, representing ze Fazaland!Fox News is a complete joke.

Nearly a month after CNN thoroughly debunked its preposterous "madrasa" smear of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, Fox News, amazingly, is still peddling revised versions of this steaming loaf of journalistic dung. I quote none other than the former journalist, Brit Hume, directly:

New Information on Whether Barack Obama Was Once a Practicing Muslim

Never a Muslim?

Barack Obama's chief spokesman has been saying since January that the Democratic presidential candidate has never been a practicing Muslim. Now the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Obama was registered as a Muslim when he attended primary school in Indonesia.

The Times quotes friends and teachers as saying Obama took Muslim religious classes in school and went to prayers at a local mosque. The Obama campaign reacted to the story this morning by reiterating its position that the senator "has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim and is a committed Christian."

You know, I don't even have to write this one. A buddy of mine wrote it for me when this was sent to me:
"Would it make me a MOTO to point out that he most likely didn't fill out his own registration for primary school, and that it was most likely completed by his MUSLIM father? What 5 year-old actually "practices" any religion? Can any of us honestly say that we were "practicing Christians" at that age?"

Now, back to Fox News. Their apologists may argue that since they used the LA Times as their source they shouldn't be blamed for this shoddy reporting and that my problem is really caused by the notoriously "liberally biased" west coast daily. But given the recent changes at that paper, that claim is even more dubious than it otherwise would have been.

Furthermore, if one were to take the time to look up the actual Times story Fox cited, one would find that it wasn't quite as cut-and-dried as they implied. He attended Catholic schools, Muslim schools and secular public schools, for instance. All of this, of course, was reflective of his mixed parentage:

His former Roman Catholic and Muslim teachers, along with two people who were identified by Obama's grade-school teacher as childhood friends, say Obama was registered by his family as a Muslim at both of the schools he attended...


In 1968, Obama began first grade at St. Francis Assisi Foundation School, just around the corner from his home...


"At that time, Barry was also praying in a Catholic way, but Barry was Muslim," Dharmawan said in Obama's old classroom, where she still teaches 39 years later. "He was registered as a Muslim because his father, Lolo Soetoro, was Muslim."
Now, isn't that what I just said. Shouldn't this obvious fact have occurred to the learned Brit Hume before he filed his report? If not, shouldn't he have have read it in the LA Times story he cited?

Fox News: They distort. I deride.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Recommended Links

Apocalypticism in Action

"We’re conducting military operations inside Iran right now. The evidence is overwhelming. From both the Iranians, Americans, and from Congressional sources."

Col. Sam Gardiner
Army War College
CNN, September 18, 2006

I call attention to my earlier allusions to the Bush Administration's penchant for apocalyptic thinking here, here and here to provide context for what's going on now.

Now, consider how the Bush administration funds it's "Islamo-Fascist" enemies in the "War on Terror" and sponsors terrorism itself in an intentional effort to extend the sectarian bloodbath to the wider region. Tom Englehardt and Seymour Hersh explain..

Let me see if I've got this straight. Perhaps two years ago, an "informal" meeting of "veterans" of the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal -- holding positions in the Bush administration -- was convened by Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams. Discussed were the "lessons learned" from [the Iran Contra scandal]... In terms of getting around Congress, the Iran-Contra vets concluded, the complex operation had been a success -- and would have worked far better if the CIA and the military had been kept out of the loop and the whole thing had been run out of the Vice President's office.

Subsequently, some of those conspirators... began running a similar operation, aimed at avoiding congressional scrutiny or public accountability of any sort, out of Vice President Cheney's office. They dipped into "black pools of money," possibly stolen from the billions of Iraqi oil dollars that have never been accounted for since the American occupation began. Some of these funds, as well as Saudi ones, were evidently funneled through the embattled, Sunni-dominated Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to the sort of Sunni jihadi groups ("some sympathetic to al-Qaeda") whose members might normally fear ending up in Guantanamo and to a group, or groups, associated with the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood...


In "The Coming Wars" in January of 2005, [Hersh] first reported that the Bush administration, like the Israelis, had been "conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since" the summer of 2004... He also reported that American combat units were "on the ground" in Iran, marking targets for any future air attack, and quoted an unnamed source as claiming that they were also "working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Baluchis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast. The troops ‘are studying the terrain, and giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes, and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds,' the consultant said. One goal is to get ‘eyes on the ground'… The broader aim, the consultant said, is to ‘encourage ethnic tensions' and undermine the regime"...

The Seymour Hersh Mystery: A Journalist Writing Bloody Murder… And No One Notices
By Tom Engelhardt
Tom Dispatch

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coƶperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda...

The Redirection: A Strategic Shift
By Seymour Hersh
The New Yorker

Add to this list my own post from September of last year...
Early last year Seymour Hersh of the The New Yorker wrote this piece outlining what his sources told him was a plan by the Bush administration to put special forces inside Iran -- to perform search & destroy missions, target identification and foment unrest -- in preparation for an attack on that country. At the time the article was published his assertions were ridiculed as "far-fetched" and "riddled with errors" by the Bush administration. Not much has been spoken of this since that time.

But then a strange thing happened, something I noticed shortly after seeing that article and in the months before I started this blog. Stuff in Iran started blowing up. Each time the explosions were dismissed as something innocuous but, yet and still, stuff kept blowing up. I got curious so decided to continue to check up on it from time to time and, amazingly, these explosions kept happening. I'm talking about an unusually high number of freak explosions for one country that size without any kind of war (that we know of) going on. It was in the process of this little project that I first thought, "I should start a blog".

As I tracked these explosions and listened to the Bush Administration's simultaneous pronouncements that any talk of attacking Iran in the short term was ridiculous (but not off the table) I couldn't help but think about how, if Hersh was correct, this would all mirror the M.O. used in Iraq. So it all fits together, you know? Mind you, this was nothing one could present as a "smoking gun" for predicting future events or anything but it was interesting nevertheless.

Finally, explosions in Iran compiled from this collection:

Explosion in Iran sets off fears
USA Today
February 16, 2005

Explosion in Tehran Kills 1
Iran Focus
June 12, 2005

Deadly blasts hit two Iranian cities
Al Jazeera English
June 14, 2005

Explosion Hits Office in Southwest Iran
ABC News International
May 8, 2006

Bomb Kills 11 on Military Bus in Iran
February 14, 2007

Order restored after blast at girls school in Iran
February 17, 2007

"Birth pangs of a new Middle-East"...


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

News Flash! Men Look At Crotches

Via Kottke.Org:

Among the many interesting things in Online Journalism Review's article about using eyetracking to increase the effectiveness of news article design is this odd result:

Keep your eye on the ball(s)!
Although both men and women look at the image of George Brett when directed to find out information about his sport and position, men tend to focus on private anatomy as well as the face. For the women, the face is the only place they viewed. Coyne adds that this difference doesn't just occur with images of people. Men tend to fixate more on areas of private anatomy on animals as well, as evidenced when users were directed to browse the American Kennel Club site...

These folks could have saved themselves some time, money and effort and just asked me. I would have told them outright. It breaks down like this:

  • If the image is a woman a guy is going to look at the crotch because it's a woman. This goes without saying, I believe.
  • If the image is of another guy then a guy is going to look at the crotch for one reason and one reason only... "My package is bigger/better."
  • If the guy is gay, flip these around and adjust accordingly.

But what about the results for women? The most interesting thing I found about the above graphic is not their intense focus on George Brett's face. That's to be expected. Women are forever talking about who's cute and who isn't, who has pretty eyes or a pretty smile and so forth. How do they develop this hyper-developed sense of cuteness? Why, by gazing endlessly into the eyes of every man, woman, child and stray dog they run across, of course. So who's surprised that when forced to look at baseball cards (come on) they'll focus on the batter's face? Not me.

No, what I found most interesting, and what seems to have gone unnoticed here, is the bottom-right corner of the womens image underneath the "Fixation Length" key. If you look closely you'll see a small but intense spot of yellow extending off the page, almost as if it it were trying desperately to leave the picture altogether.

Come on, ladies. Where is your focus? Does this finally explain the wonder that is female driving or simply the futility of trying to explain sports to them? We may never know.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Who's Rooting Against America?

I "Dugg" this one a moment ago...

Wouldn't you like to know where Dick Cheney puts his money? Then you'd know whether his "deficits don't matter" claim is just baloney or not.

Well, as it turns out, Kiplinger Magazine ran an article based on Cheney's financial disclosure statement and, sure enough, found out that the VP is lying to the American people for the umpteenth time. Deficits do matter and Cheney has invested his money accordingly.

The article is called "Cheney's betting on bad news" and provides an account of where Cheney has socked away more than $25 million.
While the figures may be estimates, the investments are not. According to Tom Blackburn of the Palm Beach Post, Cheney has invested heavily in "a fund that specializes in short-term municipal bonds, a tax-exempt money market fund and an inflation protected securities fund. The first two hold up if interest rates rise with inflation. The third is protected against inflation."

Cheney has dumped another (estimated) $10 to $25 million in a European bond fund which tells us that he is counting on a steadily weakening dollar. So, while working class Americans are loosing ground to inflation and rising energy costs, Darth Cheney will be enhancing his wealth in "Old Europe". As Blackburn sagely notes, "Not all bad news' is bad for everybody."


The Bush-Cheney team has racked up another $3 trillion in debt in just 6 years. The US national debt now stands at $8.4 trillion dollars while the trade deficit has ballooned to $800 billion nearly 7% of GDP.

This is lunacy. No country, however powerful, can maintain these staggering numbers. The country is in hock up to its neck and has to borrow $2.5 billion per day just to stay above water. Presently, the Fed is expanding the money supply and buying back its own treasuries to hide the hemorrhaging from the public. Its utter madness.

Last month the trade deficit climbed to $70 billion. More importantly, foreign central banks only purchased a meager $47 billion in treasuries to shore up our ravenous appetite for cheap junk from China.

Do the math! They're not investing in America anymore. They are decreasing their stockpiles of dollars. We're sinking fast and Cheney and his pals are manning the lifeboats while the public is diverted with gay marriage amendments and "American Celebrity".

See also:

Are Dick Cheny's Money Men Betting on Bad News


I accept responsibility... but it's HIS fault!

I accept responsibility...

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledged that mistakes were made and accepted responsibility Tuesday for the way eight federal prosecutors were fired.

At a news conference Tuesday, Gonzales said he would find out what went wrong but said he would not resign. "I acknowledge that mistakes were made here. I accept that responsibility," Gonzales said amid growing calls for his own termination.

...but it's his fault...

Gonzales also accepted the resignation of his top aide, Kyle Sampson
, who authorities said failed to brief other senior Justice Department officials of his discussions about the firings with then-White House counsel Harriet Miers.

You gotta love it.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

The "Right to Exist"

As alluded to in previous posts, much is made of the state of Israel's "right to exist" and I have called into the question whether it really is Israel whose "right to exist" is genuinely threatened. But there's another weakness in this framing of the conflict that I neglected. The entire argument is nonsensical on its face. In a piece in the Los Angeles Times today entitled, Why Does The Times Recognize Israel's 'Right to Exist'?, Saree Makdisi thrashes the nail soundly about the head:

First, the formal diplomatic language of "recognition" is traditionally used by one state with respect to another state. It is literally meaningless for a non-state to "recognize" a state. Moreover, in diplomacy, such recognition is supposed to be mutual. In order to earn its own recognition, Israel would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine. This it steadfastly refuses to do (and for some reason, there are no high-minded newspaper editorials demanding that it do so).

Second, which Israel, precisely, are the Palestinians being asked to "recognize?" Israel has stubbornly refused to declare its own borders. So, territorially speaking, "Israel" is an open-ended concept. Are the Palestinians to recognize the Israel that ends at the lines proposed by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan? Or the one that extends to the 1949 Armistice Line (the de facto border that resulted from the 1948 war)? Or does Israel include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied in violation of international law for 40 years — and which maps in its school textbooks show as part of "Israel"?

For that matter, why should the Palestinians recognize an Israel that refuses to accept international law, submit to U.N. resolutions or readmit the Palestinians wrongfully expelled from their homes in 1948 and barred from returning ever since?

If none of these questions are easy to answer, why are such demands being made of the Palestinians? And why is nothing demanded of Israel in turn?

Orwell was right. It is much easier to recycle meaningless phrases than to ask — let alone to answer — difficult questions. But recycling these empty phrases serves a purpose. Endlessly repeating the mantra that the Palestinians don't recognize Israel helps paint Israel as an innocent victim, politely asking to be recognized but being rebuffed by its cruel enemies.

Actually, it asks even more. Israel wants the Palestinians, half of whom were driven from their homeland so that a Jewish state could be created in 1948, to recognize not merely that it exists (which is undeniable) but that it is "right" that it exists — that it was right for them to have been dispossessed of their homes, their property and their livelihoods so that a Jewish state could be created on their land. The Palestinians are not the world's first dispossessed people, but they are the first to be asked to legitimize what happened to them.

Imagine that. Palestinians are being asked to "recognize" an entity that wont return the favor and wont even go so far as to fully define what it is they wish to have recognized -- it's own borders. Meanwhile it's teaching its children that the land Palestinians are standing on is already part of Israel. I suppose that explains what we see in this map and this one. Nice.

Whose right to exist is really in danger here?


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Washington Hates Democracy

Davida Sirota, in a post entitled "Dems' Big Middle Finger to the American Voter", explains why we all need to be wary of politicians from both parties, particularly when it comes to Iraq (one party more so than another, yes, but still...)

In the Washington Post's solid writeup of the debate over Iraq in the House, a faction of Democrats continues to attack the very Election 2006 mandate they were vaulted into office on: opposition to the war. Justifying her opposition to bills that would stop President Bush's military escalation, we get this from South Dakota's lone House member:

"I don't think we should be overreacting to public opinion polls."


Herseth, of course, is following the tried and true path of fellow politicians and pundits insulated comfortably in the Washington bubble. It was Cheney who said in November that the war "may not be popular with the public - it doesn't matter." It was David Brooks who said a few months ago that "voters shouldn’t be allowed to define the choices in American politics." There was the Bush administration in August of 2006 telling the New York Times "that they are considering alternatives other than democracy" in Iraq - after repackaging the war as an exercise in pro-democracy nation building. The Times itself just recently said that Democrats pushing antiwar legislation strongly supported by the public are "fringe." And let's not forget The New Republic's Peter Beinart who trumpeted groups that - in an oxymoronic backflip - believe "the less beholden politicians are to grassroots activists, the better they will represent voters."

The message from Washington, D.C. to all of us out here in the heartland is very clear: Our government is the exclusive gated community of Big Money interests, their appointed pawns in Congress, and a select group of self-declared "experts" in the media and at think tanks..

The full article is highly recommended reading.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Don't Think of Nuclear War!

This is the kind of post The Fear of All Sums was really created to cover, people playing mind games with words and figures like this.

In an essay entitled, The Words None Dare Say: Nuclear War, George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkley, breaks down the way Strongman George Bush's insane plans are being soft-pedaled in the media...

The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran's nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete."
Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, April 17, 2006

"The second concern is that if an underground laboratory is deeply buried, that can also confound conventional weapons. But the depth of the Natanz facility - reports place the ceiling roughly 30 feet underground - is not prohibitive. The American GBU-28 weapon - the so-called bunker buster - can pierce about 23 feet of concrete and 100 feet of soil. Unless the cover over the Natanz lab is almost entirely rock, bunker busters should be able to reach it. That said, some chance remains that a single strike would fail."
Michael Levi, New York Times, April 18, 2006

A familiar means of denying a reality is to refuse to use the words that describe that reality. A common form of propaganda is to keep reality from being described.

In such circumstances, silence and euphemism are forms of complicity both in propaganda and in the denial of reality. And the media, as well as the major presidential candidates, are now complicit.

The stories in the major media suggest that an attack against Iran is a real possibility and that the Natanz nuclear development site is the number one target. As the above quotes from two of our best sources note, military experts say that conventional "bunker-busters" like the GBU-28 might be able to destroy the Natanz facility, especially with repeated bombings. But on the other hand, they also say such iterated use of conventional weapons might not work, e.g., if the rock and earth above the facility becomes liquefied. On that supposition, a "low yield" "tactical" nuclear weapon, say, the B61-11, might be needed.

If the Bush administration, for example, were to insist on a sure "success," then the "attack" would constitute nuclear war. The words in boldface are nuclear war, that's right, nuclear war — a first strike nuclear war.

We don't know what exactly is being planned — conventional GBU-28's or nuclear B61-11's. And that is the point. Discussion needs to be open. Nuclear war is not a minor matter...


Bush, Cheney, McCain, Edwards, Clinton, and Obama all say indirectly that they seriously consider starting a preventive nuclear war, but will not engage in a public discussion of what that would mean. That contributes to a general denial, and the press is going along with it by a corresponding refusal to use the words.

If the consequences of nuclear war are not discussed openly, the war may happen without an appreciation of the consequences and without the public having a chance to stop it. Our job is to open that discussion.

Of course, there is a rationale for the euphemism: To scare our adversaries by making them think that we are crazy enough to do what we hint at, while not raising a public outcry. That is what happened in the lead up to the Iraq War, and the disaster of that war tells us why we must have such a discussion about Iran. Presidential candidates go along, not wanting to be thought of as interfering in on-going indirect diplomacy. That may be the conventional wisdom for candidates, but an informed, concerned public must say what candidates are advised not to say.

I highly recommend the full article.

In the past I've linked to at least one of those articles cited at the top of the excerpt and my point in doing so bears repeating. Starting a first-strike nuclear attack with so-called "low yield" nuclear weapons (an absurd contradiction in terms) is not beyond the audacity nor stupidity of our current leadership in Washington. It would be a mistake for us to put such a thing past them. Before dismissing such speculation as alarmist consider this previous post and some of the GOP's past rhetoric on this very subject. Yes, they're thinking (thought) about this and may very well have already decided to do it.

You know, there was a time when a nuclear war was considered a "big deal".