Tag: nikita khrushchev

The Devil Made Him Do It?


Putin apologists and propagandists are channeling the late Flip Wilson, blaming NATO for Putin’s war against Ukraine. They’re ignoring a few things.

Those of a certain age may remember the late comedian Flip Wilson, who tragically died in 1998 at age 64 from cancer. He was the first successful black host of a television variety show in the early 1970s.

“Geraldine (Jones), with Wilson in wig, high heels and a colorful minidress, was perhaps his most famous character. Her spunky catchphrases “The devil made me do it” and “What you see is what you get!” became part of the national language,” CBS News described in announcing Wilson’s death.

Welcoming Nikita for Thanksgiving — and Other Beautiful Babies


MOSCOW, RUSSIA – APRIL: A portrait of Nikita Khrushchev, then the Prime Secretary of the CPUS (the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) in April, 1964 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Sometimes you look at a newborn’s face and just know — ours is a Nikita. As in Khrushchev. Born just in time for Thanksgiving, she’s no picture-perfect Butterball, like her older brother Zeke was, but blotchy, wrinkled and shrunken, with chapped, old-man skin, sharp-heeled simian feet, and a flaming red, bony baboon butt. Her face, at least, is baby-pudgy, but still wizened-looking. Bald-headed, broad-nosed, with that pudgy-yet-wizened face, the resemblance between her and Khrushchev is a little less than fanciful. She is also, of course, very beautiful.

The Death of Stalin


Vladimir Putin doesn’t want you to see this movie. And he’s right. I mean this completely sincerely. If you want to believe there is anything admirable about the Soviet Union of the 1950s or the men who led it, this movie will crush your dreams.

The story begins with a real-life incident of a Mozart concerto performance that Stalin wanted to be recorded, but didn’t bother to tell the radio producer of his desire for a copy until the concert was over. Not wanting a bullet for disappointing the man with the mustache, the producer locks the doors to prevent the audience from leaving, bribes the soloist into a second performance, and gets a second conductor (still wearing his pajamas and bathrobe) after the first one knocks himself out. (In the real incident, the first replacement conductor was too drunk to conduct.) The pounding on the conductor’s door to request his services for the replacement concert is juxtaposed with footage of the NKVD knocking down doors and arresting the people on the list handed down from on high.

We’re then treated to what life looks like on high and what a pathetic sight it is. A group of men in their fifties are drunk and horsing around like a bunch of frat boys, if frat boys were pudgy men in their fifties wearing three-piece suits. Khrushchev recounts how they amused themselves during the siege of Stalingrad by tossing grenades at German POWs; Beria slides a tomato into Khrushchev’s front pockets and smashes it to make it look like he’s wet his pants. Stalin insists that the group watch a “pony” movie, leading a cheer “To Communism and Lenin; to John Ford and John Wayne!”

Book Review: Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth


The following is a repost of a piece I wrote 3 years ago here.  With all of the Russian Collusion kerfuffle I thought it apropos to revist it.  You see, “collusion with the Russians” is hardly a new problem, and JFK himself actively and secretly colluded with Khrushchev, using his brother Bobby as a clandestine intermediary.  JFK told no one in his cabinet, or in the Secret Service, that he was doing this.  Why?  Well, for starters Kennedy was not particularly keen on the continuing defense of West Berlin, and had practically no concept of its extraordinary value to NATO as a bastion right in the middle of the Warsaw Pact.  In his mind, when he assumed the presidency, it was as best a distraction from his desired rapprochement with Moscow.  Kennedy wanted to “reset” Soviet relations after 8 years of Eisenhower refusing to “play ball”.

Secondly, Khrushchev did actually interfere with the 1960 presidential election in his own way by managing international events such that he made Nixon look paranoid against Kennedy’s openness.  Khrushchev therefore often claimed that he himself got Kennedy elected (Chicago notwithstanding, of course), and he thus felt Kennedy owed him.  The Berlin Crisis of 1961, the precursor to the Cuban Missile Crisis, was in no small part of this mutual dalliance between Khrushchev and Kennedy.  The passing of US intelligence secrets to the USSR via Bobby, the feeding of Soviet propaganda and misinformation back to Kennedy, and the dangerous near-loss of Berlin were all JFK’s doing.  We should bear all this in mind today when we are so quick to decry what Trump may or may not have done, just as we should remember that JFK learned from his early mistakes.  It hardly need be mentioned that many historians today, in their near-saintly portrayal of Kennedy, or in their endless vituperation against Trump, have ignored this episode when the US nearly bungled one of its most valuable protectorates in the Cold War.

Francis Gary Powers, Jr.


On May 1, 1960, 1,300 miles into Soviet airspace an American U-2 spy plane was flying at 70,000 feet, supposedly out of range of Soviet missiles.  But the CIA’s U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, Gary’s Father, felt the thump of an exploding Soviet missile and was shot down over Russia. After being tried for espionage he served nearly two years in a Soviet prison suddenly becoming a key figure in the Cold War’s most infamous spy case that ultimately ended up with a prisoner exchange with the KGB spy Soviet Colonel Rudolph Abel.