McGoverning

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Yes, Jan 2, 2018.

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  1. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    La-La-Land is in an even more "auteurs shine a trenchant light on our screwed-up modern society" mood than IOTL, which is probably saying something. Perhaps they're feeling some of that reformist zeal.

    On the next few chapters, thank you kindly for asking. Let's (p)review:

    Up next: Cleaning the Stables - the trials (geddit? Amirite? ... *taps mic*... is this thing on?...) of Richard Nixon, the complexities of cleansing a secret state you now own, everything's fair game now in primary season, and other such, also... Midterms!! courtesy of the Greek chorus of George McGovern's top political fixers

    Then: Winters of Discontent - In which Yr. Hmbl. Author & C. indulges his Inner Brit by writing an outer chapter that proves yet again hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way, inclusive of Lib-Labs and Maggie and oil, oh my, not to mention a Troubled province and something nasty in the Liberal woodshed

    After that: What Side Are You On? - Mister McGovern Meets the Unions, and the rights groups, and so on, as Old Left and Old Right and New Left and New Right all git on down at the jamboree

    M O A R: House Divided - Some of the nastier bleeding scars of a more polarized nation, in orange-toned paisley obvs because it's the Seventies, plus helpful hints on how to start poisoning a national discourse

    That gets us up through the next four chapters, after which it is even more directly a charge into the narrative maelstrom of the Bicentennial year and That Election Cycle You Know is Lurking Out There Somewhere.
     
  2. Wayside If It Were Up To Me

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    "Wait, him?" -Kurt Waldheim/Averell Harriman

    Why do you pun-ish us so? :p

    Barbara Kopple will have plenty to work with, I'm sure.
     
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  3. THE OBSERVER Independent Progressive

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    These all sound delicious. What Side Are You On? sounds interesting. The scandals that will be depicted in Winters of Discontent should be fun.
     
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  4. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    Topical humor. I like:cool:

    Irish I knew...



    Assuredly.
     
  5. TimothyC Well-Known Member

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    Hello Yes, reading this thread has been recommended to me, and while I haven't started yet, I'd like to point out that reducing down to 8 big deck CVs in the 1970s is a serious cut. While Coral Sea and FDR (and to a lesser degree Midway) can easily be justified in the retirement, retiring any more than that starts to really cut into the meat of the CV force. In the 1970s and 1980s, the US global commitments would have driven a force of 15-18 large deck CVs or 12ish CVNs. If you are sacrificing the Forrestals to save Nimitz units beyond the first two I think the Navy would be more likely to accept the removal of the Iowas and the Des Moines (Des Moines and Salem were not historically struck from the reserve fleet until 1991, and Newport News was in the fleet until 1975) than they would the retirement of the Forrestals. Canberra (CA-70) is something else that can be put up for a bit earlier retirement.

    What I think it comes down to is that the USN would be more willing to take the hit from the loss of the big gun ships than they would the super carriers, and even if they don't loose any super carriers, they don't have enough to fill the needs that the politicians have dictated.
     
  6. Usili Carry On Wayward Son

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    Part of the increase of the cost for the Titan IVs from what I recall came about because of the much lower production amounts for Titan, and also in part from the kind of costs that were sustained by a need of development for the SRMU. In addition to that, the Air Force actually went up ordering a bit of a glut for the Titan IIIs in the late 60s, and so wound up basically running below preferred number of orders for Titans throughout the 70s (I think it was something like four or five they were producing a year). If say you wound up with NASA going to Titan (likely Titan 3D7 as LDC Titan would be... probably face it's own host of issues needed), it winds up resulting in maintaining a higher production number and doesn't really wind up with the issues of the major cost growth that was seen in the 80s and 90s for Titan IV because of the significant flight reduction and also the costs of the SRMU added for the remainder of flights that had to utilize it.
     
  7. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

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    Granted, that was a factor--but a lot of that production reduction came from the NRO dropping film-based satellites in favor of the KH-11s, which was clearly on the way in 1973 (the program itself had been started in 1971). When your satellites last ten years instead of ten weeks, you don't need as many launches to put them up.

    Well, on the one hand NASA missions might help pump up mission numbers somewhat, but I don't think they'll really fully compensate for the drop-off from not launching KH-8s and KH-9s anymore. Plus they'll likely want further upgrades like the SRMU anyway, which means increased costs related to those developments.

    More importantly, though, continuing to use the Titan still imposes the UDMH/N2O4 issue. I don't want to overstate propellant expenses as a direct cost factor, because the actual cost of propellant makes up a small proportion of launches, but the safety measures required to avoid public and employee exposure as well as environmental damage from spills and leaks were becoming tighter and had a corrosive impact on operational and handling costs. Ultimately, I don't think a Titan-based launch system is sustainable. Go ahead and draw down the Titan stockpiles over the 1970s and 1980s, by all means, but in the end the idea should be to replace them with a more flexible and designed-for-purpose launch system. I think starting this in 1973 rather than 1993 would have been a positive (I mean, technically they did plan on replacing them...just with Shuttle, which wasn't going to work).
     
  8. e of pi Layers on Top of Layers

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    Fundamentally, I think there's two choices for NASA and space launch in the 70s to address the core problems of cost and capability. One, the one they wanted badly to pursue in OTL, is to go after reusability and cost decreases that way. Shuttle came out of that, as they had to compromise the total system reusability down to just the SRBs (technically reusable, though not very economical given the extensive handling and the need to essentially re-manufacture at the case level between flights) and the orbiter (after all, they reasoned, the orbiter already comes home and it's the thing that delivers the payload). The other, as @Workable Goblin has suggested, is a cost-optimized expendable approach--obviously something we've toyed with in a timeline together. A competitive approach for expendable LVs in the 70s would be novel and has some upside. However, I think most of it comes more from avoiding the spike in cost that came from Shuttle (which lets you do a little more in LEO and probes thanks to that spending being devoted to mission hardware, not launch vehicle operations) and having potential upside well down the line by establishing a pattern of commercially procuring. If you're committing to a pattern of buying the best available launch vehicles that meet the need, it's easier to encourage a Musk or a Bezos or even a Boeing to invest in a new launcher on their own dime aiming to serve NASA/DoD as an anchor customer for a new commercial rocket.

    However, I'd also like to put in a good word for my current hobby horse of early-70s first stage reuse with expendable upper stages and optional reusable crew vehicles. A reusable first stage, whether propulsive boostback (what F9 does and what a 1968 Bell study called "lob retro") or aerodynamic flyback like several of the studies for Shuttle first stage boosters, offers (like a glider) a way to learn about reusable operations for relatively low development costs compared to an upper stage or OTL-sized orbiter while also offering some chance to be below the potential operational costs of even an optimized expendable system--after all, to put a modern spin on it, if you have to pay to develop a brand new system anyway, why not make sure it's at least partially reusable especially as a first stage isn't facing environments much beyond the X-15? This might be a way to ease into the new replacement for Shuttle--it's a more direct substitution of reusable launcher and reusable glider in place of the do-everything all-in-one reusable Shuttle that has a chance of being more efficient in its development.
     
  9. PNWKing There's Still Hope Out There!

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    Will Tom Bradley still run for Governor of California, or will a certain effect have to have a different name?
    Have any changes happened to the automobile industry?
    What happened to the following people?:
    James Taylor
    Carly Simon
    Lorne Michaels
    Dan Akroyd
    Bill Murray
     
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  10. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

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  11. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    Welcome! Glad to have you. These are good points and may well reflect some of the Navy's internal thinking during this period. To pick up on the carriers again from a slightly different angle I want to riff on these good points with a bit of an explainer, fleshing out the context so we can then see what the parties involved get up to.

    First, it's important to remember two reasons why the early-to-mid Seventies were a very different political time from even five to six years before or after. Only one of the two has even partly to do with Brookingsgate ITTL/Watergate IOTL, and it's not the one with which I'll start. The not-Watergate-at-all reason is this: in the wake of the bloodstained late Sixties, with signs already that many of the givens of postwar (post-1945) stability and prosperity might be in peril, the early-mid Seventies were a much more experimental time in US national politics. That does include both the New Left and its ripple effects and a late surge from the old New Deal liberals, but it is not an exclusively liberal phenomenon. Far from it. Indeed two rather big ideas out there come from the Nixon administration and are not signifiers that Nixon was "the last liberal president," they were designed to have what we'd think of as conservative benefits and indeed trying to secure their conservative bona fides - plus ripples from Watergate - is what got them killed IOTL. One was Nixoncare, which was a really-not-much-different Obamacare, designed to ensure broad-based health coverage but keep an essentially private-sector system in business by mandating coverage and shoring it up around the old-and-poor edges with state-based grant money. The other was the Family Assistance Plan, a form of "negative income tax"-based (a concept advanced by Milt Friedman as well as some left-leaning economists) form of basic income that was designed to be more efficient than overlapping and costly welfare-administration structures.

    On other fronts you had more liberal versions of the same: the unions pushing through congressional agents like Ted Kennedy for single-payer, McGovern and his basic-income Demogrant which was a more blanket alternative to FAP. You had people looking at restructuring American workplaces and the relationship of employees with employers (you even had the Army, and ITTL the Corps too, buying into the Organizational Effectiveness model of tackling those issues) so that even a relatively conservative variant on solving those riddles was conservative-yet-populist Democrat Russell Long's work on employee stock-option plans, which would help employees own their means of production, not done because that's straight-up socialist but because the powers that were thought over how to get a new generation of industrial workers to not revolt against assembly lines and hierarchy and monotony and instead keep the postwar boom going a while longer, also because besides being pretty instrumentally socialist it was at the same time a very capitalist idea, e.g. making workers into owners too.

    So there are all kinds of loose, free-thinking, blue-sky, outside the typical Cold War politico-military-economic box concepts out there, under debate, and various people recommend actually following through on them. In this little window of time, it's important to not assume that conventional wisdom on either side of the timeline from this moment applies fully. To hit the second "very different" reason, this is in the immediate wake of Vietnam. Even conservative Republican senators were chewing out four-stars for (in the senators' views) not doing their jobs properly, and there was a strong bipartisan trend towards budget retrenchment where the Congressional left wanted to cut military spending on principle and congressional conservatives wanted to cut spending on everything on principle.

    So back to carriers. This was a period when a swath of defense-reform idea men, mostly liberals but in both parties, had more leverage than usual. Southeast Asia was a bust and, though we didn't know it at the time, a lot of people in the institutional hierarchies of both superpowers thought that huge defense budgets (1) weren't really getting the superpowers anywhere and (2) detracted from shoring up the superpowers' domestic economies and the fortunes of their citizen-consumers. At the same time, in and around Congress here in the States, the defense reformers prided themselves on the argument that they were not just "cut the budgets and come home" types, that instead they had a cogent, logical, but very different view of how to formulate US geostrategy and structure or employ US military force. And this was an environment where they could take that position for a spin.

    Carriers were a great example; on the "whither aircraft carriers?" issue the reformers' position had layers, like an onion, and was rather similar to arguments made in Britain (which let go its big-deck carrier operations IOTL) and to a lesser degree France. I'll put the reformers' arguments in blue "ink" so you can tell what they are and then come back at them myself. A short spiel would run like this:

    This big fleet of big-deck carriers is emblematic of the fact our ideas and processes are at least twenty, if not thirty, years out of date. The real core of Soviet naval strength is their huge, capable submarine fleet. For submarines there are two kinds of naval vessels: subs, and targets. Moscow's also built up big fleets of long-range bombers in Soviet Naval Aviation, who will fill the skies with bombers that'll launch great thickets of Kh-22s, many of them nuclear-tipped, in the first stages of a full-scale war. Carriers will be primary targets, and mostly they and their escort groups just won't survive this kind of relentless onslaught. The Navy thinks they can fix that with the F-14s but they're another gold-plated project that will probably underperform - we already know those Pratt and Whitney engines are just awful. Now, carriers aren't useless: there are certain specific situations where carrier power projection is both politically and militarily useful, although having too many lying around leads to their use as the primary "gunboats" of Cold War military diplomacy, an excuse for more conservative politicians to bomb countries with impunity rather than figure out other ways to solve problems. But we need a few carriers to backstop specific strategic issues and beyond that we should start retiring them and reshape the navy around both an anti-submarine (hunting and killing with air and surface resources) and a counter-submarine (using subs to kill subs and using our subs to disrupt their larger naval strategy) approach.

    Seen from the present moment of the early-mid Seventies (say about 1972-75) that's their general approach. And the jumping-off point for McGovernite defense policy - the negotiating spot from which the McGoverners would "move toward the middle" - the Alternative Defense Posture McGovern's campaign issued in January of '72 (fifty-eight very detailed and interesting pages, very closely thought through even when you can disagree with it entirely as I sometimes do myself) which was almost reflexively restrictive on the surface fleet and carrier air, culling most naval construction because there were a lot of relatively young (1960s-built) ships compared to the size of surface fleet the Alternative Posture recommended, and knocking the big-deck carrier fleet down to six. (That would've been four on the Atlantic and two on the Pacific - part of a broader effort to legislate away by budget/structure US capability to conduct more than limited operations in the Asia/Pacific region, another reformist goal after Korea and Vietnam, even the relatively conservative Southerner Jimmy Carter wanted to pull US ground forces out of South Korea though he didn't ultimately succeed and Nixon had cut them back by about fifty percent.) Now, that's based on what I'd call a European (like the Brits and French do/did) rotation system, a one-off one-on rather than rotating in threes or fours, and centers on keeping two carriers in the Med as a key to limited-war capabilities and a strategic backstop for Israel. Let's take a moment and break down some of the logic.

    • As I said in an earlier comment, a day or two ago, a lot of Seventies-era defense reformers (and this carries over to a degree into the Eighties) were "learned technophobes," thanks to a series of high-profile high tech failures in the Sixties like the TFX (the all-singing all-dancing approach to the F-111 base airframe), the B-70 (really fast, really vulnerable to high-altitude SAMs), and the MBT-70 among others. Like most humans they were being presentist, e.g. recent big-ticket failures meant that gold-plated projects would always end in tears. Every side has its biases. Now, they got some things right: it was going to be a while, even longer than advertised at the time, before AEGIS worked and got installed aboard-ship. The F-14s' P&W TF30s were mostly awful, killed some good pilots, caused jets to drop out of the sky almost at random, and an absolute nightmare most of the time for onboard maintenance crews. Pre-AEGIS the sheer volume of nuclear-tipped saturation from Soviet Naval Aviation was going to be hard to deal with. But: AEGIS wasn't a magic bullet but turned out to be bloody good, Newport News-built carriers were hardier than many critics credited, and when the friggin' engines worked the F-14 was quite an aircraft.
    • On two other fronts, the reformers made arguments that probably would've carried a day if administrations as conservative about US power projection as the Nixon and Ford crews had not been there to hold a line and rally congressional support. One was that, in the face of the Northern Red Banner Fleet's subs, the US needed to reorient towards sophisticated ASW much as the Brits did (though with more money, of course.) The other was that a genuine, bipartisan consensus existed that America should not get drawn into more tar-baby conflicts in the Global South and - within limits less ambitious than the most zealous McGoverners' - constricting the resources that might be used to get you into such conflicts was one aspect of prevention. More than the Ford administration or others that followed, Nixon's short second term is about as close as we have to an OTL example of resource-constriction in line with the Nixon Doctrine. That didn't outlast 1974 but the arguments, and probably the congressional votes, were there.
    So what happens here? The McGovern administration goes ahead and pays off the last Essexes and the Midways, first leaving the "supercarriers" in service which at the time would be nine hulls. By itself that's a significant drop, in line with what the administration wants and with the political moment of doing things in a different way. They're not going to go any lower on the Atlantic seaboard because the two-in-the-Med requirement becomes even more hard and fast after the October War as the administration beefs up the strategic-backstop approach in line with President McGovern's strategic closeness to Israel. The main question is the Pacific, and how far things will go restricting American resources there. In this case, the service sells a Venn diagram convergence of "very pro-Israel" and "more strategically moderate" McGovern administration folk on the argument that having two carriers available at all times in the Pacific means you can have one in the Northern Pacific and another loose that could be sent on fairly short notice to the northern Indian Ocean, as a kind of strategic pincer on the Middle East if it heated up, at a lower cost overall than maintaining land-based air or ground footprints within distance of the region. That helps bump the floor back up to eight-maybe-nine.

    Then James Holloway pulls a kind of bureaucratic jujitsu. First he declares peace to confuse his opponents and accepts administration plans for big-deck force levels, which is a four-and-four balance of eight. In return he gets continued steady build of the third Nimitz (christened George Washington ITTL in a Bicentennial mood, rather than after Carl Vinson) and a pledge from the McGoverners that, if re-elected, they will support lead funding to cut steel on a fourth Nimitz-class in the later Seventies (ahead of OTL's schedule), which is something he figures he could also get out of a GOP replacement administration determined to be 180 degrees from McGovern. In addition he talks the McGovern crew into a "do more smarter with what we have already" approach of converting most of the Iwos to CVSes as the Tarawas come on line (a full build of six, a bone thrown to the smaller USMC and because each LHA can do the work of multiple older phibs) as part of a high-end oriented ASW approach that includes the Iwo conversions and the building of more Spru-cans than IOTL spread out over more yards (as the McGoverners kill the OHP saying "we have lots of young frigates for a smaller fleet, come back to us when you have a ship that's an actual leap forward," in their technocratic-reformer style) and more funding to move the next iteration of LAMPS to the left on its development timeline.

    Holloway can see both the McGoverners' plans and his own laid out in parallel. On the McGovern side of things, that if reelected they would move towards a carrier fleet of the four Kitty Hawk/Kennedy-class ships (with the four Forrestals in the Reserve Fleet as a loss-replacement hedge) and four Nimitzes (with Big E moved to the Reserve Fleet for loss replacement.) Holloway figures he can (1) retire the Forrestals before having to pay for OTL's expensive refits, (2) use the GOP administration he expects will win the 1976 election to get that fourth Nimitz-class under construction to move big-deck numbers up toward nine again, and then more of that class to improve numbers (he's hoping to wheedle a fifth Nimitz around the same time the fourth gets its downpayment, so the politicians can say they've spited the McGovern legacy) plus of course the six Iwo Jima-class CVSes which could get the fleet back to ten big-decks and six ASW carriers in the first half of the Eighties then on from there, with half or more (above ten) young Nimitzes since he's ducked the spend on keeping Forrestals fit for active duty.

    It's one of those stretches where writing about a McGovern administration isn't just "fan fiction" for nerds: as military equipment goes I like big-deck carriers, or rather see their virtues. With a diverse air wing they're very versatile, they're still essential to sea control and SLOC management against any non-nuclear power and even then they have their uses. They're a better strategic-strike option than a lot of long-range land based bombing which tends to belong to air forces who tend to have God complexes about strategic bombing, and they're a versatile offshore center of gravity that offers politico-military alternatives to fighting big land wars in intractable parts of the Global South that are often doomed to fail anyway, beyond a few initial objectives, for a crazy-quilt of political and cultural, even technological and economic, reasons. And they're still pretty survivable unless you have a really advanced kill chain; even if they don't survive they do the decent thing and sink rather than become a resource for the enemy like land bases.

    This instead is meant as a moderately realistic interpretation of how these various competing and collaborating interests would come to some results in this changed version of the early-mid Seventies political atmosphere, with an administration that enables a lot of the out of the box thinking of the period, rather than standing there shouting stop. Which is no dig at your points! I like them, that's exactly why I wanted to riff on them to help flesh this out. And again, welcome to town. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  12. TimothyC Well-Known Member

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    While I understand the reasoning behind the decisions, I would like to make a few points: having four carriers per fleet means that you can sustain a deployment of three (of eight total) at a time. If you've got one in the North Pacific and one in the North Atlantic/Mediterranean, then you've got one for the rest of the entire world. The fleet isn't yet all nuclear, so it takes time for that third carrier to get anywhere, and is less capable than we are thinking of. Furthermore, one thing the Navy would do is that if they are retiring all of the Essexes, then CVT-16 Lexington is leaving the fleet too (Lexington's continued service as the training carrier is one of the reasons why Oriskany wasn't scrapped until late - she was kept as a spare parts hulk). The continued existence of a training carrier reduces the workload on the rest of the fleet, and improves readiness. IF the fleet is being drawn down to the degree you are planning, then Lexington likely gets replaced with one of the Forrestals (whichever one is in the best shape at the time, probably Independence). She wouldn't be configured as a fleet carrier, but in the event of war, she could be used to help surge for the rest of the fleet. That buys you nine big decks in theory, and that starts to get to be enough to fill the USN's strategic missions. Maybe.

    I would also not be so fast to conflate the change over in the RN from power project to be the result of technology change. It was US foreign and military policy to push our allies in Europe and in the western Pacific to pick up more of the surface and green water ASW load, while the US retained the blue water, and strike missions. For the RN, this came at the same time as the final draw-downs following the loss of the East-of-Suez mission, and gave them something to focus on.

    Edit: One other thing that should be noted: By this point in time the USN has learned its lesson on reserve fleets - they are expensive, and if you ever want to bring the ships back, they are really expensive. I could see the USN pushing for the Forrestals to be in a well-kept reserve, in exchange for the scrapping of basically the rest of the reserve fleet that had not yet been scrapped. Most of this was due to be gone by the mid 1980s anyway, but the navy will be looking for something.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
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  13. Unknown Member

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    I was just re-reading the chapter about Chile and damn--what a hell of a way for Allende to go out (he went out like a total boss there). At least Letelier will live longer than 1976 ITTL, with no Pinochet; IOTL, he was killed by a car bomb (along with a co-worker of his named Ronni Moffitt; her husband was injured) near the Irish embassy in Washington, D.C., which was featured several times on America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries...

    Your prose reminds me of early Stephen King (circa Carrie and Salem's Lot) at times, @Yes, and that's a compliment (what is Mr. King up to ITTL, BTW?)…

    OTOH, the movie Missing is butterflied away; a shame, since it contains one of Jack Lemmon's better performances (which earned him an Oscar nomination)...
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
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  14. Wayside If It Were Up To Me

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    The more I think about it, yeah, I see what you mean.
     
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  15. Asteroid Miner Just another lefty in distress

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    What's Senator Mike Gravel doing? I could see him being quite involved in supporting McGoverns reforms.
     
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  16. Expat Monthly Donor

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    Hopefully this world will still be gifted with some version of House of the Spirits. Honestly, I can see a version of the same story working without the torture center part. I never did a proper lit analysis of it but it seems to me those parts towards the end after the coup really shifted the tone; a harshness and starkness that was meant as a direct contrast to the magical realism of the rest. Maybe a more “traditional” magical realist book emerges?
     
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  17. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    (1) Things are indeed different in Chile, where the Socialist Party's leader Orlando Letelier remains what the wars of our own era might call a high-value target for hard-right extremists, but who's also soldiering on in Allende's wake/stead. His newfound leadership position is causing him to keep his head down, nose to the grindstone, and eyes on his periphery for more of the kind of fragmented crypto-authoritarian resistance that could pop up in odd places as he tries to keep his party together, and the Christian Democrats honest.

    (2) I suspect that both because I don't know the timeline on the novel's production well enough (i.e. what bits may have happened before McGoverning's POD) but for sheer Rule of Cool purposes Tabitha King still fishes the first few draft pages of Carrie back out of the trash and encourages her husband to press on. That means it's likely that at least what we could call "first-wave King" hits the bookshelves, both Carrie and the handful of major novels he had in draft form already cluttering up his home. Now, where things go from there - whether he moves out to Colorado and writes The Shining and The Stand or not - and what else goes on with him is still bobbing and weaving in the Butterfly Field (that gets us up to about 1975 which is where a lot of other thematic elements of McGoverning are at the moment.) At the very least, though, we'll get the first material that propelled him forward in the genre.

    (3) This is true, although there may be other kinds of tales to tell about Chile ITTL. Lemmon's one of my very favorite humans, so the loss is a shame (Costa-Gavras may go for something more slightly-fantastic and allegorical like his earlier Z, about an Allende-analogue's sacrificial death and whether that makes the situation in a turbulent country better or not.) Likewise for Sissy Spacek and John Shea. But if Charlie Horman's kicking around ITTL it may get a few more butterflies fluttering.

    Interesting.

    He's on Team McGovern more often than not, though of course Gravel's cussedness is legendary and the McGovern West Wing really wish the senator could get along better with his home-state party, so he could act as a more effective advocate for administration policies back home.

    That seems quite possible. There are still heartaches of course - Salvador Allende was still shot down dead in his office, and Allende's daughter (Salvador, not Isabel) still commits suicide about a year later. So there could be elements interwoven in the story about whether some defining tragedy still affects the characters, whether one of the characters (perhaps the narrator's secret father?) dies through an act of self-sacrifice, and whether anything gets better or not as a result, whether there are still plot threads that suggest a tension between long-term trends (represented in various magical-realist ways) or whether people can truly alter the course of events by their own actions. Something like that, anyway :)
     
  18. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    Make away :) Also, I'm sorry to have missed this when it was first posted, I'm not always as good at keeping up with my own thread as I ought to be. Thanks for coming back with a follow-up.


    The McGoverners' plan is to run them the way the British and French ran their big-deck carriers since the early Fifties (and as the RN plans to run the QEs when Prince of Wales gets done with sea trials in the fullness of time) which is to say the one-off-one-on model. In this period the programmed deployments for carriers aside from wrap-up in SE Asia (taking into account fleet exercises and such) were relatively static, and indeed tended to be relatively conservative in a sense I'll expand on below. In those days the USN ran a rule-of-three rotation cycle, and I'll get into some of the reasoning for that just below. Gerry Ford, old Navy hand that he was, brought that up in a speech IIRC to the National Chamber of Commerce during the '72 presidential campaign that made it into a now-PDF collection of Republican National Committee campaign materials and oppo research that's ended up online as part of somebody's (I forget who but can probably track it down) special collection of campaign literature for that year.

    In practical terms one-off-one-on may affect the scheduling/staggering of drawdown, also of Nimitzes entering service, since the two significant known effects on that coming up in the course of the Seventies would be Connie's fourteen-month combo deep refit and CV conversion (getting the ASW squadrons and F-14s aboard), particularly if there are any OTL-like complications that hopefully can be butterflied, and the Kennedy's twelve-month scheduled refit in IIRC '78, so around the time the Eisenhower would enter service. Otherwise they plan to run eight ships to generate four, but basically just the four outside of general war with Moscow, tied thereby to the whole "de-emphasizing carriers as instruments of power projection" approach. And a variety of things affect what kind of rotation systems navies use, first and foremost institutional and governing-party politics/geostrategy, but also personnel housing and benefits systems, health-and-safety regs about frequency of in-port refits and systems checks or limits on afloat duty for personnel, supplies of replacement parts and fuel oil, etc. But probably the most important is the interplay between civilian and uniformed conceptions about "what is this particular navy's carrier fleet really for when it comes down to it?"

    (On a sidebar, it wasn't a good era in which to outrun one's ASW screen unless things were really calm in that particular region so task groups tended to run at the speed of their escorts at all times, regardless of power generation, although at the time things seemed to be getting a little more nuclear rather than less, in case of certain emergencies, with more CGNs being built and taken into service. Few military resources, other than the terrible irony of nuclear weapons, are really as rapid in their response as politicians would often like them to be.)

    One thing it's useful to remember is the post-Vietnam strategic contours for carrier operations, which came from inside the USN as well as from civilian decision-makers, sometimes as much or more from inside the uniformed service. And the time frame for that distinctively "post-Vietnam" model really stretches from the last years of the conflict in Southeast Asia, probably about 1970 or so, on to the hostage crisis in Tehran when the model was set aside in order to plan and generate a force of two, sometimes three, carrier groups in the northern Indian Ocean for most of the duration of those 444 days.

    The distinctively "post-Vietnam" model called for a two-and-two standard for deployment. In terms of normal running that meant two carriers forward deployed in the Mediterranean, and two in the Pacific, with one expressly deployed towards Northeast Asia (Japan and the Korean peninsula) to give those allies a sense of US commitment to their mutual defense, and one on a kind of movable feast of exercises from the Sea of Japan down through Okinawa and the Philippines to the Gulf of Thailand. While carrier ops off Vietnam were still a consideration, of course that formed its own category and a prime mover for the deployment and refit/reconstitution cycles elsewhere. But as that eased off after very early 1973, two-and-two became the norm. Which meant the USN wanted at least 12 ships in active service because they ran a rule-of-three rotation. Partly out of habit, partly because working to that schedule - indeed insisting on it - guaranteed that they had some wartime loss-absorption capability baked into the active fleet.

    In late '73/early '74, in the face of Jim Schlesinger insisting that he wanted capability provided inside the stringent budget guidelines of the time (stringent bc late-period Nixon and especially Ford, an orthodox budgeteer to his fingertips, wanted tight budgets as an anti-inflationary measure), the Navy sat down and calculated what it saw as its fundamental needs. They decided their baseline, if cuts came, was ten carriers, which they'd operate on the 2.5:1 principle to generate the two-and-two. But that forward power projection wasn't the real, principal driver for what the admirals saw as needs and duties. They set the base at ten because they believed at that number, by "swinging" carriers out of the Pacific through the Panama Canal to the North Atlantic, they could maintain sea control against Soviet subs in wartime. (That was the model for a lot of conventional forces then, based on the unrealistic model of fighting a conventional war in Europe for at least 90-120 days, an unrealistic model established precisely to safeguard force levels against post-Vietnam cuts. Now that's not just malice, although really every bureaucratic life-form seeks sustenance and survival on the terms that prove necessary. They believed it was important to have a metric they could use to fend off demands for cuts, and some senior four-stars genuinely believed that keeping only short-term stocks for a European conflict would only encourage escalation to all-out nuclear release.)

    So their force model had very little to do with any constant and varied demands for global power projection. It was focused, almost laser-like in Southeast Asia's wake, on maintaining (and improving on, they wanted growth, but towards a particular goal) the necessary forces to conduct a shooting war with the Soviets when called on. Indeed Tom Moorer made proposals to "de-couple" the standard two-and-two taskings so the carriers could be more mobile. Ostensibly this was to make them more flexible as power-projection tools, and certainly it was to make them more available for major NATO and Pacific Rim-region exercises. But in particular Moorer wanted it done as part of his campaign to prevent the Nixon and Ford administrations from engaging in gunboat diplomacy in the Middle East. Moorer and a number of other senior four-stars saw a creeping Nixon-era path to US military involvement in the region as a logistical and political nightmare. Also Moorer very much did not want the US to become a strategic backstop for the Israelis, who he disliked intensely: some of that may have been part of the garden-variety prejudices of a Deep South kid who grew up in the Twenties and Thirties, but a lot of it was very definitely to do with the bloody and deliberate attack on the USS Liberty during the Six-Day War. So not only were power-porjection metrics mostly a nicety to keep Dick and Henry from getting involved in day-to-day naval affairs, to senior admirals they sometimes appeared as an active hindrance to force availability and preparation for a shooting war with the Reds.

    The change in those conditions begins in part under the Carter administration, as folks we could identify as "proto-neocons" like Zbig Brzezinski and his deputy David Aaron looked for discrete regional locales where the US could throw its weight around in order to dispell post-fall-of-Saigon questions about American great-power reliability. And they did get task groups to make watchful-eye passes of the Horn of Africa and a few other places in the course of the administration. But most of those were fended off by other senior folks who saw that as counterproductive.

    The real change when it came was three-fold. Part of it was practical, as the crisis in Iran introduced a third area - the Persian Gulf - besides the Med and northeast Asia, where the US might need duty-station carriers. The second was St. Ronald's being enamored with the imagery of Teddy Roosevelt, and with carrier task groups as "big sticks" that could be waved at micro and macro strategic targets where a New Right Republican administration wanted to exert US leverage (first among them the Gulf of Sidra, as part of a campaign to destabilize and displace the Gaddafi regime, secondarily the Straits of Hormuz and the Caribbean because Castro remained a bete noire for a lot of senior Reagan administration folk.)

    The third was the arrival of John Lehman at the Department of the Navy. Lehman of course was profoundly - a number of DoD colleagues, some superiors, and occasional uniformed officers believed, excessively - fixated on aircraft carriers as the arbiters of naval power. Some of this was Lehman's romanticized reading of Mahan. Some of it was good, hard, cold bureaucratic calculation, much of the kind Curtis LeMay and Tom Power used as they bootstrapped what became SIOP to vastly increase the size and politico-bureaucratic weight of SAC itself and the Air Force more broadly. Building an American sub fleet that could overmatch the Soviets just bought you one sub at a time, with fairly small crews (personnel costs swinging heavy bureaucratic lumber in a volunteer military, of course.) But carrier groups got you a Big Damn Ship with five thousand or more souls aboard, plus an airwing of just under a hundred multifarious aircraft, plus the escort group. So the more carrier groups you had, you exponentially increased the politico-bureaucratic weight of the Navy among the Cold War services. But Lehman overplayed his hand on the Murmansk Option (trying to design strategies for steaming carriers up to the Kola Peninsula and bombarding Northern Fleet home bases, which Lehman's critics argued would yield a Light Brigade-like result) and by rubbing colleagues the wrong way too often. So the fleet topped out in the mid-teens, then drew back in the Nineties with post-Cold War drawdowns.


    I'll come back around to the Forrestals just below, just to keep topic matter sorted. But like you I very much think the Navy not only gets a new training carrier at this point (a given ITTL) but that the worst case scenario is at least a one-for-one with, perhaps, the Hancock (which seems to have been the Essex-class in the best shape in '73), but actually quite possibly either Midway or Coral Sea. The Navy wants a dedicated high-readiness (all things being relative) Reserve Fleet role for the Forrestals, so that they can come back in as loss replacements in the event of a major conflict with the Soviets. The technical gear on the Midways is getting to be old-hat already at that point but the large deck offers a better approximation for modern "supercarrier" ops than another Essex-class. If it comes to being a matter on the technological merits (e.g. which particular types of training they want to get done on the CVT) I suspect they take Forrestal herself, she's been refitted extensively since The Fire (minor cool fact: my father knew people who put that fire out), and it saves Forrestals in even better shape for war reserve (and the fact several of them would continue in service into the decade, as Nimitz replaces Sarah (which I've been aboard back in her Mayport days, lovely ship), Eisenhower replaces Independence, and CVN-70 [ITTL christened George Washington in honor of the Bicentennial] replaces Ranger, or at least is slated to. Even the Ike -> Independence replacement is subject to who wins the '76 election and geopolitical circumstances.)

    Now, of course, what Holloway among others is counting on is the potential for any among this succession of events:

    • McGovern loses his reelection bid and a GOP administration augments the fleet right away (especially since the Virginia-class CGNs and Spru-cans are being built at the time, easy enough to up the orders) as USS Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes an addition rather than a replacement and the fleet carries on from there, but towards phasing out Forrestals to avoid spending money on refits that could be spent on new ships of various classes. Plus the USN fixes in place the McGoverners' plans for those six CVSes as a useful addition for convoy protection/sea control.
    • McGovern somehow wins reelection but a combination of congressional pressure and changing geopolitical circumstances cause at least CVN-70 to reinforce-not-replace, so that you're at least up to nine hulls in the water plus the CVSes, and then rebuild from there. Basically a slow-burn version of the bullet point above. If a major crisis provoked it, the senior-most McGoverners seem willing to listen.
    • Even in Holloway's worst-case scenario, after 1980 you get a new administration seemingly guaranteed (either GOP or less-McGovernite Democrats) to spend more on defense, who work quickly to rectify carrier numbers, and again you still get the Forrestals out before refit in favor of new ships, plus the CVSes in for support. So despite what many internal and external USN observers would call a hollow-force period for carriers, the long-term prognosis remains good.

    Oh, goodness no the RN change wasn't a technological issue. As a sidebar I don't know that the green-water label fits the methods or the map of the RN that well, at least through the end of the Cold War. Given the centrality of the GIUK Gap to RN strategy, operational art, and procurement, and the emergent secondary issue of maintaining some regional presence in the South Atlantic once security of the Falklands became a live issue, the late-Cold War RN's more of an interesting example of a blue-water fleet subsisting without big-deck carriers, on the strength of advanced ASW and SSNs. If anything the Marine Nationale, despite keeping a pair of fleet carriers late into the Nineties, was more of a green-water force in a strictly operational sense in those days, and they've adopted more "blue-water" approaches to the use of their singleton carrier in the post-9/11 world. (It was more useful for them to be a green-water force - heavy into policing the francophonie, strategically standoffish from the US - in those days, and more recently better to go blue-water in order to sit at the same conference table as Washington. As usual the French are really very good at the political aspects of strategy.) Likewise most other European NATO fleets focused on the North Sea/Baltic and Mediterranean. Like most decisions about strategy it was a mixture of individual canniness aggregated through various elected politicians, uniformed officers, and bureaucratic directors/analysts, along with clashes of ideology, struggles between powerful bureaucratic lifeforms (both inter-service and between the MoD and the almighty Treasury), what Herbert Simon so aptly called "bounded rationality" (decision-making based on good-enough outcomes, the limits imposed by available information, and the lure of past experience that may or may not still be applicable.) Though I would highlight each of these issues, mostly because talking about the Brits in general and the RN in particular is always fun :):

    • The central strategic issue when these decisions were made was not a restructuring of operational priorities between the USN and the RN, at least not with the RN specifically. The uniformed US Navy liked and respected the RN, saw them as sober professionals who still in the Sixties had quite a large surface-fleet for a (relatively) declining power, plus SSNs and at that point Polaris waiting to come on line. During Black September in Jordan in 1970, and again during OTL's Yom Kippur War and 1974 Cyprus crisis, US admirals appreciated the existence of at least one British carrier and rather wished London had hung on to two. Like France's carriers that was understood to be a small contribution in the grand scheme of things but a useful one the Brits were qualified to provide. But the essential, the root strategic issue was Vietnam, and the really tremendous pressure the Johnson administration put on the Wilson government(s) to commit British forces in Vietnam. McGeorge Bundy talked actively and shall we say robustly in memos about "breaking sterling" if London didn't pony up for 'Nam, and he wasn't alone either in the opinion or his views about how to strongarm the UK.
    • As a result, two hunches - we can call them that without the implication of disapproval, they were calculated gut decisions based on what British decision-makers knew of the circumstances - dovetailed in the making of UK defen(c)e policy at the time. One was that the UK needed to placate the US in a variety of ways so as to turn down the heat on the Vietnam question. The other - which turned out to be wrong but that wasn't clear at the time - was that it would be cheaper to buy American on a number of significant defense procurement projects than to carry through with domestic British solutions (hi, TSR-2!)
    • Into that comes an issue of what we might call bureaucratic ecology, or biology (on my line that sufficiently complex bureaucratic entities are essentially life-forms.) That would be the really quite extraordinary place the Treasury has in the structure of the British state. In a country whose power elite was a mixture of gentrified rentiers and extraordinarily powerful bankers (and also what we'd now call financial-services types), the currency was king, and Her Majesty's Treasury were and are high priests of sterling. Sterling was in crisis at the time too, as Sunny Jim Callaghan at Number Eleven resolutely refused to take the political fall for devaluation, which made the Bretton Woods-era currency crunch that much worse until Wilson turfed out Callaghan and put in Roy Jenkins, who devalued and got on with trying to fix the mess. That put a lot of internal pressure on the Treasury, who then visited that pressure on all of what we could call the productive ministries of state, the folks who performed the various duties of a complex nation-state besides managing the money. It also put pressure on HMT's model of operations, what has been and still is HMT's model of operations for probably a century and a half: to alternately splash out and withhold funding for other ministries' projects, in the manner of a dysfunctional, controlling parent who has pretentions to grandeur. HMT is happy to fund prestige projects that (1) buy goodwill with their ministerial "customers" and (2) also make the state look good, but will also (A) withhold monies to keep those projects running properly after they first make a splash in the press and (B) make internal constituencies in the other ministries fight like cats in a sack to get their own pet project funded, which lets HMT divide-and-rule over other branches of Her Majesty's Government.
    • In the Sixties, three cats-in-a-sack forces were at work in the MoD. One, sort of an undercurrent but it affected the other two, was the British Army, fresh off the end of National Service but (not unlike the US Army going into the VOLAR period) run by a hierarchy of officers who'd served in the big, conscripted armies of the two World Wars and liked having this sheer manpower edge over the RN and RAF when it came to fighting for resources and bureaucratic leg-room. The Army was also in a position almost unique in modern British history to that point where it, rather than the Royal Navy, could help define the parameters of grand strategy. Namely, keeping up the British Army of the Rhine in West Germany now took precedence over a globally-projected, or even regionally-masterful, naval presence. So that's one.
    • The other two cats-in-a-sack forces came together in the battle between the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force for budgetary supremacy. (Remembering that the Treasury was stingy because (1) there was a genuine crisis over currency reserves and (2) they used scarcity to divide-and-rule against other departments.) This is a familiar story, between the Fifties and the Seventies, in the defense politics of most Western nations. And, as it was in most other Western nations (certainly in the US) and despite the Sandys Review in 1958 (the infamous "stick a fork in jet aircraft, it's all missiles now" crapsack), this was a golden age for Air Forces, even in the Eastern Bloc as well. The RAF won some arguments by straight-up winning the arguments, mostly that land-based strike aircraft were a necessary and sufficient complement to the British Army's principal mission in Central Europe. The RAF also won by losing another argument. Because the bulk of Britain's deterrent was about to be vested in Polaris, which was a Royal Navy preserve, the politicians (certainly Secretary of State for Defence Denis Healey, but he wasn't alone) believed the RAF needed some counterbalanced advantage to maintain their bureaucratic-political place. That would be strike air, now mostly tethered to the European theater.
    • There were other elements there too, micro and macro. On the micro level, the RAF outfought the RN in a procurement knife fight over shares in UK license production of F-4 Phantoms, the ones with the Rolls-Royce Spey engines which those jets got specifically so they'd have the short-distance thrust to take off from HMS Eagle and HMS Ark Royal. At the time, the RAF also won a "buy American it'll be cheaper" argument to get F-111Ks in place of the cancelled TSR-2 *MILLIONS OF AVIATION NERDS BOO AND HISS*. That of course became a fiscal dumpster fire and got cancelled. But. When decisions were being made about the future of UK carriers, the F-111K order helped carry the day for "Light Blue Gets Strike." Otherwise it would be duplicative, went the argument, and duplicative cost too much, so said HMT.
    • Into this also came questions we could label under the heading of ideological outlook. Much of the Labour government of that period, Denis Healey included (though there were dissenters, and Healey himself did make a real effort over a couple of years to listen to the competing arguments before his decisions), saw aircraft carriers as many other liberal-to-left politicians in the West did in those days, as the "gunboats" of Cold War diplomacy for which they had deep personal distaste. Also the total aggregate costs for carriers, especially the new CVA-01s the RN wanted, got to be too steep for the politicians' blood. The individual ships weren't bad, in an era of healthier shipyards their costs weren't entirely prohibitive. But putting a new-build air wing on them, and building surface groups around them, those costs seemed to spiral. So with the tight fiscal situation of the mid-Sixties, it was too rich for the Wilson government's blood.
    • Also, and this does factor in too - there are good folks and bad folks on all sides of this story, and there are indeed multiple "sides," and people who could be both heroes and villains individually if you gave them enough time to do each - the Royal Navy disastrously overplayed its hand on getting new carriers in the nasty budget environment of the Sixties. This is not really surprising. By the mid-Sixties the RN had spent about the last 275 years as one of the top three naval powers on the planet and a good two centuries (from about the 1710s to about the 1910s) as a lone naval superpower. Vanishingly few deeply-established major institutions that are about to go off a cliff see it coming. They believed this was how to keep full-spectrum relevance (minus that boardroom-bullshit term) for the future and it also was a way to chasten the uppity RAF. (They did have a point about the RAF being uppity, but really downright personal enmity and dislike colo(u)red dark/light blue relations pretty deeply in that day, especially coming out of the Mountbatten years, at Arleigh Burke-vs-Tom Power levels or above.) As a result they made not just "carriers" but specifically the new CVA-01 design and the aircraft and escorts to go with it their hill to die on. That was, in retrospect, foolish. The fact that the admirals stuck with ever-less capable and more-compromised design specs for a CVA-01 into the middle Sixties hurt them with Healey too. Cinging to a fixed idea past the point where it had merit made him feel the RN were being irrational, and shored up his RN nukes/RAF aerial strike/big Army in the FRG model. Had the admirals instead backed off and just "Phantomized" Ark Royal and Eagle both, together with necessary refits for both, they could have stayed inside cost limits and held on for the budgets of a different decade. The fact that they'd blown huge sums tinkering with cruiser designs in the late Fifties and not building until too late, tied to continued belief that the RN needed to rival the Soviets as the second-largest global surface fleet, didn't help either.
    Tl;dr a whole interconnected web of conflicting fiscal and ideological imperatives, human folly, Darwinian bureaucracy, along with chance and circumstance (good old butterflies), ended big-deck British carriers. Two elements in common with the alternate-defense McGoverners' POV were the arguments that (1) carriers needed to be less-available for gunboat diplomacy which could be legislated by budget and (2) that the high-tech way forward in naval warfare was submarines, both SSNs and SLBMs (in other words, that the Brits had their heads on straight when they named their first in-service nuclear attack submarine HMS Dreadnought after another game-changing queen of naval battle.) Now that's not necessarily any more or less right than opposing options, and only the individual Butterflies and Trends of a given timeline are likely to render a verdict on that which will anyway mostly be self-justified by what did and did not happen, i.e. if different Stuff had happened needs and choices might ought to have been different. Also these are not guaranteed to be the best choices, or free from creating mischief or heartbreak. It's not, at least not here, an exercise in perfective tinkering. It's an effort to create a "plausible fallacy" on lines that faithfully represent the elements in play, then to see both good and ill, often unanticipated in both cases, that comes of it.

    This is very true: I tend to see the McGoverners ready to compromise with the service on keeping the Forrestals, Big E, and recently-decommissioned cruisers in a ready reserve (the Belknaps, and potentially the Leahys as they are scheduled to come out in the Eighties - whether they do or not is as I subject to the whims and designs of later administrations - also the early nuke cruisers like Long Beach and Bainbridge) and lose most if not all the smaller ships aggregated over time. The carriers and CGs/CGNs preserve depth in certain kinds of key capabilities, and for the rest you're right that total through costs make it almost cheaper to build fresh if you've got a budget programmed to be revenue-manageable.[/QUOTE]
     
  19. Threadmarks: McGoverning: A Congressional PSA

    Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    This was going to happen eventually. One of my earliest memories is watching this between Saturday morning cartoons as my late mother told me more of the ins and outs of how it actually works (the risk and rewards of being raised by a political scientist.) Fun fact: federal law on school buses stopping at railroad tracks dates to this period. IIRC there was a nasty accident or two that prompted it, and in the industrious bill-passing Seventies, poof! Law.

     
  20. Avalanches Well-Known Member

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    Just curious, but I figured the Weathermen have slowed their bombing campaigns given the de-escaltion and reform of the McGovern Admin?
     
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