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The basic elements of American readiness for nuclear war remain today what they were almost sixty years ago: Thousands of nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, aimed mainly at Russian military targets including command and control, many in or near cities. The declared official rationale for such a system has always been primarily the supposed need to deter—or if necessary respond to—an aggressive Russian nuclear first strike against the United States. That widely believed public rationale is a deliberate deception. Deterring a surprise Soviet nuclear attack—or responding to such an attack—has never been the only or even the primary purpose of our nuclear plans and preparations. The nature, scale, and posture of our strategic nuclear forces has always been shaped by the requirements of quite different purposes: to attempt to limit the damage to the United States from Soviet or Russian retaliation to a U.S. first strike against the USSR or Russia. This capability is, in particular, intended to strengthen the credibility of U.S. threats to initiate limited nuclear attacks, or escalate them—U.S. threats of “first use”—to prevail in regional, initially non-nuclear conflicts involving Soviet or Russian forces or their allies.

Ellsberg, Daniel. The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Bloomsbury; New York. 2017. p. 12 (italics in original)

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Icy panes

2018-01-13

in Photo of the day

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Truth’s warning that if American women did not get the vote now [in 1866] along with black men, it would be hard to raise the issue of the vote for women later, proved to be prescient, for it was not until 1920 that women finally got the vote nationwide.

Meanwhile it was becoming painfully apparent to Stanton and Anthony that many leaders who had supported suffrage for both blacks and women had decided, as a matter of strategy, to push at present only for suffrage for black men, as in the proposed Fifteenth Amendment. Stanton and Anthony, reacting furiously, refused to support the Fifteenth Amendment. The fiery Stanton declared that giving suffrage to the crude, uneducated, recently freed black slaves without giving it also to educated females would increase prejudice against blacks. In 1869 at a meeting of the American Equal Rights Association, which had supported both blacks’ and women’s right to vote, Stanton, Anthony, and their friends helped to break up the association over this issue, forming the new National Women’s Suffrage Association that was dedicated to working for women’s suffrage only.

In response, late in 1869 Lucy Stone led in forming another new women’s group, called the American Woman Suffrage Association, of a more moderate nature, which favored giving the vote not only to black men, through the Fifteenth Amendment, but also to women, through another amendment. Despite efforts to reunite the two groups, their leaders bitterly attacked each other. They were divided also by other issues that underlined the greater radicalism of Stanton’s group (which was more suspicious of Republicans) and the greater conservatism of Stone’s (which was more willing to work with Republicans). The two groups remained split for twenty years.

Mabee, Carleton. Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend. New York University Press, 1993.

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Stairs

2018-01-12

in Photo of the day

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Then they led him out again, trying to get him near a mockup of a Mercury capsule, where the television networks had set up cameras and tremendous lights. The reporters and photographers surged forward again, yammering, yelling, exploding more camera lights, shoving, groaning, cursing—the usual yahoo sprawl, in short—and the animal came unglued again, ready to twist the noodle off anybody he could get his hands on. This was interpreted by the Gent [the news media] as a manifestation of Ham‘s natural fear upon laying eyes once again on the capsule, which looked precisely like the one that had propelled him into space and subjected him to such severe physical stresses.

The stresses the ape was reacting to were probably of quite another sort. Here he was, back in the compound where they had zapped him through his drills for a solid month. Just two years ago he had been captured in the jungles of Africa, separated from his mother, shipped in a cage to a goddamned desert in New Mexico, kept prisoner, prodded and shocked by a bunch of humans in white smocks, and here he was, back in a compound where they had been zapping him through their fucking drills for a solid month, and suddenly there was a whole new mob of humans on hand! Even worse than the white smocks! Louder! Crazier! Totally out of their gourds! Yammering, roaring, brawling, exploding lights beside their bug-eyed skulls! Suppose they threw him to these assholes! Fuck this—

At some point in the madhouse scene out back of Hanger S, a photograph was taken in which Ham was either grinning or had on a grimace that looked like a grin in the picture. Naturally, this was the picture that went out over the wire services and was printed in newspapers throughout America. Such was the response of the happy chimpanzee to being the first ape in outer space … A fat happy grin… Such was the perfection with which the Proper Gent observed the proprieties.

Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; New York. 1979. p. 223–4 (italics and ellipses in original)

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