Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part Four: Nicolae Ceaușescu: The Dracula of Being A Dick

Part Four: Nicolae Ceaușescu: The Dracula of Being A Dick

Thu, 09 Feb 2023 11:00

Robert is joined by Jeff May for our final episode in our series about Nicolae Ceaușescu.

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What's up y'all? I'm Guillermo Diaz and I played Huck on Scandal. And I'm Katie Loes, aka Quinn Perkins, and we're the hosts of Unpacking the Toolbox, the Scandal Rewatch podcast where we're talking about all the best moments of the show. With guests like Tony Goldwyn who always amped up the fire as President Fitzgerald Grant. Grab your scandal swag, your du belay, and join us on Unpacking the Toolbox every Thursday. Listen to Unpacking the Toolbox on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcast, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Daniel Miller is a millennial con artist. I'm a social media influencer. Busted while recovering from Brazilian butt lift surgery. She was yelling at the police for like getting her butt tissue out of joy when they were hand-guffin' her. She's got hundreds of victims. To me, that's not a con artist that just is a straight-up predator, and she just keeps getting away with it. This person is the danger. Listen to Queen of the Con, season three, on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. 13 Exoneration's all connected to one forensic scientist. I'm Tessa Kramer, host of the new podcast series, Admissable, a podcast about evidence. Those are my genes. This is the worst kind of fraud. Causing the question the cases that she worked, there's no way they didn't know it was wrong. Then she worked a lot of cases. Yeah, they knew this. Listen to Admissable, shreds of evidence. On the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome back to Behind the Bastards, part four of our epic series on Nikolay Chow Chescu with the inimitable Jeff May. Jeff, you know, you have an interesting background. You were a teacher and you decided, you know, you had to make the very difficult choice to leave that career behind to focus upon another career as a live performer. Yeah, I mean, that's teaching. It's very live performer, ask just with health insurance. And I will not for me. Not anymore with Zoom. But yeah, you know, I empathize with that. I also had years ago, I had to make a really tough choice, which was to proceed with my career as a writer and a journalist. But to give up my ambitions of being a musician and really participating, which is one of the maybe the hardest choice I ever had to make. Well, one thing people don't know, you were on the cusp. Yeah, I was about to break through. You were about to be a pop darling. I was about to break through. But, you know, I made peace with the choice that I made. But every now and then, I feel the urge to get back into it. So recently, I reached out to some old friends of mine from back in the day when I was doing a lot of stage shows. You might have heard of a little band called Destiny's Child. And we put together a little bit of collab based on my incredible Boston accent. So I want to just play that for everyone right now as a little treat. That was beautiful. Wow, wow. Honestly, I'm glad we have this show. And I'm glad we have all the great work you're doing, but I do feel like this is sort of like a reminder of sort of like the other day the music died. Yeah, exactly. And that's when you decided to give up your career. And I'm glad that you guys, you and Destiny's Child, that you're still, you still, it's all amicable. Oh, yeah. I know that you kind of, they felt like you left them in the dark for a while. Yeah, they had to lift up a lot of the stuff that you left behind. But I got to be honest with you. She's done okay, right? She's done okay for herself. She did okay. We're very proud of her. I just, I really wish I could have seen, you know, that's a glimpse into the alternate reality that we could have had. If you were stuck with it. Yeah, it's just one of those, one of the tiny tragedies that is, that is everyday life. But, you know, the upside of it is that now that we have released this in 25 years, I do qualify for admission to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So I'm sure we're all looking forward to that. I mean, you have my vote. You and Billy Joel, both, both backing me on this one. He's actually back, act, act, act, act, acting you. That was, that was a solid Billy Joel joke, Jeff. I hope you're proud of yourself. It's a Billy joke. It's a Billy joke. Wow. Wow. Well, we're doing good. So you want to talk about a piece of shit a little bit more? I thought we just were. Wow. No, Billy. Come on. Now he knows we're okay. Yeah, he's, he's, he's a good guy. William, William Joel. Oh, God. Why is my phone ringing? Stop it. Because you're popular. Oh, it's another spam call. It's one of the five spam calls I get every single day because the FCC under a fucking Donald Trump decided that phones should no longer be things that people can use. Isn't that nice? Isn't that a nice change that was made? Classic. Yeah. Like when commercials were allowed to be cartoons again. Yeah. Yeah. Just one of these decisions that has low key destroyed civilization and shaped my entire personality. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I've not seen all the he-man and GI Joe and stuff that I have behind me here. But yeah. You and Michael Bay completely changed as a result of that move. Just like I was completely changed by the fight Beyonce and I had. But you know, that's that's that's that's that's water under the bridge now. Was it an elevator? Yeah. That would probably be the most cinematic place for us to have had a fight, right? Yeah, but on a security camera. Did you get the joke or is that over your head? No. Sophie, if you make a joke about Beyonce, you can assume I'm not going to get it. But I thought you were so close. I know. But go out and out. Exactly. Exactly. It's like how I'm too good at basketball to compete on camera against LeBron James. Can you just do that episode? Yeah. Of course, Sophie. I've been up one episode on LeBron James. He seems like a good dude. Yeah. I mean, he's okay. Again, he's done all right for himself. So we're talking about Nikolai Chowchescu. Now when we when we had left off, we were talking about the gigantic series of palaces he built, the third largest building by volume in the world. And as Chowchescu's ambitions for control over the country that he was gradually grinding into the dust grew, he decided he found the need to establish and expand a state security force that could surveil his populace to an unprecedented extent. In Romania, the state's security force, the secret police, whatever you want to call them, they were called the security tot. And they were run by which is actually I think the name of like a local Renta cop company that you can have like do armored car shit here. Oh, jeez. You got some some Portland Pinkerton's or whatever. Yeah, I mean, maybe I'm getting that wrong. I should have checked on this. But anyway, the security tot, the Romanian one was run by Jan Peseepa, who we talked about a little bit last episode. And you know, folks talk about the KGB. They talk about the East German stasie, you know, when they talk about communist secret police forces. Oh, sneaky. Yeah. None of these motherfuckers had shit on the security tot. In terms of its actual like the extent of the repression that it was capable of carrying out. Oh, yeah, man. Oh, oh, yeah. No, this is a good state security force, not like in a moral sense, but in an efficiency sense. In an efficiency sense. Yeah. In a being perfect villains in a James Bond movie sense. And I'm going to quote from Cattle and Gruya here. That's that Romanian journalist. In 1965, there was a central phone tapping center and 11 regional ones. That's when Chuchescu takes power. 13 years later, there were 200. And 48 centers and 1000 portable stations. By the 1980s, the security tot had become one of those feared secret police organizations in the world. In 1989, it had 14,259 employees of which 8,159 were officers. According to Pesipa, each officer had to have 50 collaborators, members of the Romanian Communist Party and 50 informants outside of the Romanian Communist Party. The result was the constant surveillance of the population. So damn near everybody was either in the employee of the security tot or directly under surveillance of the security tot. Like it. Yeah, or both. In many cases, both. Yeah. That's the other part. Yeah. I mean, they always used to make the KGB jokes. We've all seen that where. Yeah. Yeah. And stuff like that. But this seems less funny. Yeah. Somehow less funny than the KGB who were a bunch of Hucksters. Well, chuckle buddies. Yeah. I did a research paper on the KGB and the title of it was cops and robbers. That's not a bad title for that. And the professor was like, this is supposed to be like a serious class. Yeah. A lot of people died and were tortured. But you know, that's the case with secret police all the time. It's a shame that secret police are absolutely necessary to have in every single country. Yeah. I'm just going to allow him here. A cab includes secret police that are establishing the dominance of the state. Whoa. I'm sorry. I know every time I come on, I cause chaos. And this is it. I'm sorry. Yeah. Wow. That's going to be really, really controversial among our listeners, fully half of whom work in secret police forces. But you know, everybody needs to hear stuff that's difficult to listen to sometimes. So this is tough. Yeah, except that people disagree with you, secret police officers. That's not what secret police officers do. What they did in Romania in addition to domestic repression was carry out a steady stream of assassinations of foreign dissidents, including Romanian citizens writing for voice of America, a US-funded Cold War air news and propaganda agency. At the most basic level, this could mean hiring gunmen or assassins with knives in other countries. And particularly, that they tried to kill like three different fucking times, and they shot them and they stabbed them. And he kept like not quite dying. We've got a respite in everybody. Yeah. And then it was like a year after getting stabbed, he dies of this like mysteriously virulent cancer. And it's kind of come out since then that it's almost certain they slipped in radioactive poison. That's the thing they did a couple of times, I think. And honestly, that's kind of a cool way to kill someone. All things considered. Oh, yeah. Sure, if you're a journalist writing against a state and they have to use the radioactive poison against you, you know, you've, that's like, that's like the Pulitzer getting radiation, getting like radioactive poison, slipped in your coffee. A Nobel Prize of dying. Yeah, of dying as a journalist for sure. Dying like a re-curry, you know. Mm-hmm. Yeah, we should all be so lucky. But of course, Jeff, I don't know if you've ever priced radioactive poison. It is not cheap. And having someone assassinated across international lines, also very expensive, unless they live in like Toronto. So this is something that the Romanians are going to have to spend a lot of money on. And when Titan Belts put the security in a budget crunch, they were able to break in extra cash, millions of dollars over time, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, from a foreign benefactor. Now, Jeff, I'm going to, you want to guess what foreign company secretly funded the secure attack during the most repressive years of Chacheskus regime? You know what? I have a lot of guesses. Okay. But I feel like I'm not going to nail it down because my first answer was McDonald's. No, not McDonald's. You might call them the McDonald's a furniture because it was IKEA. I'm sorry? It was IKEA. I still like them. Yeah, I'm going to go on a limb and say I'm still going to go there. Wow, wow, bold. Brave. I mean, we don't know. I'm sure there's supporting a completely different series of secret police agencies now and the good ones, you know, the secret police agencies you want to trust. Am I supposed to not eat potential horse meatballs? Because I'm going to eat potential horse meatballs. Yeah, where are you going to get horse meat if you're not getting it somewhere sketchy? Right? That's how I feel about it. Man, when that came out, everyone was mad about the, about the meatballs, maybe having horse. I was like, it's about time I get to eat horse. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And that's exactly what the security taught said. So during the 1980s, this was actually a thing across a lot of Eastern Europe, a number of communist states are having these like economic crunches. And so they start opening themselves up to more capitalist businesses and being like, maybe you come in a little bit in the help of sweet things and IKEA's like, oh, yeah, you would like to be coming in. I don't know how to. That's, they're not from Boston. They're not from Boston. Yeah, sorry. I can't do a good Swedish. What was that? Can you believe it was not your best? Ah, I must feed in modern. It's like, dude, we're pretty much there. I was so offensive. I went up it pretty deep in there. But it's okay to make fun of the way Swedish people talk here because they're funding a secret police force. So one of the things IKEA did was they realized that it was really cheap to have East German political prisoners built their Billy Bookshelves and other, you know, my now civil bed frames. So that was one of the things IKEA got up to in this period. Oh, God, Ikea. They were really interested in Romania because Romania has these huge, again, Chowczescu is forcing people to leave rural areas and move to the cities. So there's lots of free timber in Romania that nobody's living around massively forested. Yes. There's a lot of wood anyway. It's sort of like Siberia when you see what's in most of people are like Tundra and then you look at it, you're like, no, it's just like the biggest forest on the planet. Yeah, it's just like trees all up in everybody's business. And that's so, you know, that IKEA is like, well, we need trees. We have a lot of low quality, easily breakable furniture to produce. We'll take all the trees that you can give us. And Romania is like, well, how about, you know, you pay our state run timber company, you know, 10 million pounds ish a year for wood. And we will skim a significant chunk of that off the top and send it to our secret police force so they can buy radioactive poison. Now IKEA denies that they knowingly funded a secret police agency through this deal. There is a lot of debate between journalists and scholars today. There is some evidence that I think the, the fair thing to say is that, well, nobody ever wrote this out directly based on their dealings in other countries and their understanding of the situation in Romania. They absolutely knew the secret cops were taking a cut off the top of the money that they were paying. Where do you think your money is going after you send it to a dictatorship? Yeah, some of it's going to pay for the secret police. Everybody knows this. Everybody knows this. It's cheap labor. It's sort of like how people still have Amazon accounts, even though they know the human toll that it takes on people. And they're like, sure do like immediate shipping because I'm impatient and I like things being slightly cheaper. So I like immediate shipping. I'm okay that Jeff Bezos is buying radioactive poison to use on his enemies. Yeah. It's, it's such an easy way to be like, well, they didn't tell us they were doing that. Yeah. Yeah. You guys knew. There's some other evidence to believe that they actually had a decent amount of knowledge about how this was working. But yeah, if you, if you bought any products in the Billy range or any Albert chairs or any Abu Table tables or Jonas desks from IKEA in the 1980s, there's a very good chance that you're purchased directly helped fund the security Todd. So that's neat. Those are specifically the product lines that they really know. I had two and both of them broke within a year. I love IKEA. This thing right here from IKEA is great. That's good. Well, listeners, if you're IKEA, send us money and I will edit out that part where I talked about how Billy bookshelves are not made particularly well. No, that's how you do it. Extortion. That's how you get money. Just like the security Todd. Yeah. So that's good. That's, that's cool stuff. And obviously, while all this is happening, this is pretty fucked up, especially the assassinations they carry out in foreign countries, in like NATO countries. But the West put up with it for quite a while because as horrific as Chachezky was to his own people, he never failed to back up US interests at critical junctures. And I'm going to quote from a write up by the Wilson Center here. In 1979, Chachezky attacked the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1981, he counseled caution in the Warsaw Pact's response to the crisis in Poland. In the following year, he opposed packed plans to increase defense spending and in fact reduced Romania's defense budget. In 1983, he repeated his call for a halt to the arms race, an advocated multilateral nuclear disarmament in Europe. In the following year, he proposed a moratorium on the deployment of new nuclear weapons in Europe. And at the same time, refused to join the Soviet-led boycott of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. And I'm noting this because he's doing this to stay in the West Good Graces. That's not necessarily bad stuff to do. Obviously like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was bad. It's good to disarm and advocate for nuclear disarmament. His foreign policy moves are continue to be more right than wrong kind of in this period. This is just all paired with the unspeakable levels of domestic repression that he's carrying out at home. He seems like a sleeper agent we forgot about and then things got way out of control. Yeah. He just kept right letting it ride. I want to ask O'Rasco Energy coming out of him here on this one. For the record, the Soviets were right to boycott the Olympic Games. Not necessarily because of why ever they did it. I actually have no idea why they did it, but because fuck the Olympics. Anyone who boycotts the Olympics is in the right. I'll stand with whoever against the Olympics. If you hate the Olympics, you're my homey. Get him. Yeah. So, Chescu, you're uncanceled, buddy. That's probably not a thing. I should. No, he refused to join it. You're still canceled, motherfucker. So Nixon had been the first US president to visit Romania in a follow-up to his 1967 visit. But Nicolai maintained excellent relations with every US president during his time in office. His success in this was close to perfect. Until in 1978, he sent Jan Pesepa to Germany, with apparently a plan to assassinate a journalist. I say apparently because Pesepa defected to the United States and offered up a comprehensive list of Romania's overseas narratives in exchange for one presumed a pile of cash in a lifetime of protection. His intel on the security was obviously good because he'd been running it. But you also have to remember, there's like a book that exists that's stories about the Chau Chescu's, but it's based on the stuff Pesepa claimed almost exclusively. And again, this guy is not necessarily a credible source on his old boss because he's defected and had invested interest in ignoring a lot of the fucked up things he'd done as head of the secret police and making his boss seem more directly responsible for it. Which is not to say that Chau Chescu wasn't, but just like you shouldn't take anything Pesepa says at face value. Right, Han Blanda. Yeah, exactly. Exactly, exactly. That's literally what he's doing. Like he's not a hero because he came out with the story of how bad Chau Chescu is. He was his secret police head. He's a snitch. Yeah, exactly. And snitches get stitches even when they're snitching on Chau Chescu. Actually, in this case, snitches get a house paid for by the US government for the rest of their lives. I mean, I'll snitch on whoever if I, that means I could own a house. I think a lot of people would. So Pesepa was the first public figure in the West because obviously it's big news when he defects to portray Romania in kind of like a mass sense as a totalitarian hellscape, significantly worse than anywhere else in communist Europe. Kind of before this point, there'd been a lot of, you know, Romania had had a lot of good press in like the US media and stuff. And that starts to turn around after this. And then in 1979, the Iranian Revolution, you know, becomes a thing. And that brings an end to the cheapest oil Romania had been able to buy because Chau Chescu had a pretty good relationship with the Shaw. And then you would get the Iran or Iraq war, which ratchets up the price of oil more. And that makes stuff more difficult for Chau Chescu. And for everybody, inflation is increasing across the world at this point. But it's particularly devastating to Romania because they've been taking on all of this debt in order to build these ridiculous things that Chau Chescu wants to create. And as you get this kind of, I, we all heard the term stagflation, you know, right? As that starts to really hit, Romania's creditors start calling in their debts. And I'm going to quote from a book by the Charles River editors here. As Western banks increased their own interest rates in turn, the debt repayments became ever harder to serve us for many governments. At the start of the 1980s, many developing countries struggled to pay the interest on their debt, leading to an era often referred to as the debt crisis. For its part, Romania had half a billion dollars worth of debt in 1978, and that had risen to 10.4 billion by 1982, equivalent to 28% of its GDP. In 1981, just the interest payments alone accounted for $3 billion. As a result, Romania applied for an IMF loan of some 1.3 billion, only for the IMF board to reneg on it. As Misha Gleni has pointed out, clearly the Western economic institutions had little faith in the reliability of Chau Chescu's regime to honor its commitments. As a result, the Romanian economy suddenly found itself in deep trouble. By 1982, Chau Chescu was forced to cut spending and redirect foreign currency towards interest repayments. After 1982, Chau Chescu threw most of the Romanian budget into paying down the debt. So you've got two things going on here. One is that Romania has this crippling debt to pay off, and the other is that Chau Chescu gets angry at the IMF over the fact that they're not willing to give him the kind of deal he wants. And despite his creditors, he decides to make Romania totally independent from the global economy. And obviously, it's going to go great for everybody. The IMF is also a bad guy in this because it was very obvious to anyone paying attention that Romania was not going to be able to handle the kind of debt that they were taking on, that these were really bad investments. But yeah, so there's a lot that's fucked up here, but we will, we will, in this case, put most of the blame on Chau Chescu. I mean, it was just the blame kind of goes everywhere in that case, right? Like it's, it's like, yeah, it's, I mean, debt happens. When I heard the number, I was like, oh, that is cute. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's a lot more money for them. But yeah, that is like a rounding error now. It is funny that like Elon Musk could have paid off Chau Chescu's debt with pocket change. He still has a quarter of Twitter. Yeah, exactly. So two thing, yeah, in order to do this, in order to pay off Romania's debt and also make it independent from the global economy, Chau Chescu had to radically reorganize Romanian society. He accelerated his plans to force citizens out of rural towns. They lived in for generations. And one of the ways in which he accelerated it was by dynamiting the villages they'd lived in and pushing everyone to labor in cities to pay down the debt by the winter. Yeah, exactly. Classic, neclo. Yeah. It's, it's, it's very fucked up. Like one of the things they're doing is in order to like force people out of these villages because they, they actually, I, dynamiting was more of a euphemism because they don't want to spend that much money on money because he's not, because he's not widely coyote. Yeah. They will, he will have his security taught guys show up and be like, everyone has to leave. You have 48 hours. And then when they start, you know, get ready to leave, he'll be like, well, I don't trust you not to come back to this village. So while we stand here with guns, you have to destroy your homes. We'll click the access and shit. That's something interesting. Yeah. It's going to create a regular populist that's not going to want to kill you real bad later. No, it's, it's not going to make anybody the angriest they've ever been. Um, so by the winter of 1987, things were so bad that gas consumption, buka rest was locked in at about two hours a day. Um, you, you could, again, you would get like two hours a day where the gas was on. So you could like heat your house and hopefully like close up the windows so that as much of it would remain as possible because this oil rich nation is trying to export all of the gas that it can in order to get foreign currency. Chow Chesky declared that the temperature, like if it was warmer outside than 10 degrees Celsius, it was illegal to burn a fuel at all, um, or to heat your house at all. And if you disobeyed, you would be prosecuted. He attempted to reduce, he like set up this plan where he was like the average Romanian, uh, only needs X number of calories per day. So I'm going to start reducing everybody's food intake so you don't get fat. Um, but, but yeah, people were fat. Like not that that would make it okay. Like people were already tightening their belts and he was like, actually, you guys need a lot less food than you think you can starve more. Yeah, you can starve more. So he dropped, it was like 15% across the board. He like made a, a technical plan to reduce the amount of calories that people got to eat. Um, and while all this is happening, obviously, Nikolai and Alina are living in palaces. They're eating whatever they want. They want and this, this also makes people angry. Chow Chesky in order to keep things clamped down had to ramp up domestic repression to fully unhinged. Levels. Before Pasepa defected, nearly all Romanians working overseas had some ties to the security. You had to be, you know, at least be passing them a little bit of info in order to be allowed to leave. But once Pasepa betrayed Nikolai, Nikolai makes overseas travel effectively illegal. Like it basically becomes a crime as a Romanian to have contact with people outside the country. Um, Romanian. So he, for most of the 1980s, he's locked the country all in together. Like he's, he's barred the doors and forced everybody to stay inside with each other. Um, and the next thing he does after that is he makes it illegal to own or operate a type writer. Because he, he's angry that people are writing things. Oh, Florida. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, some strong dissantist energy there. So since 1965, abortion had been banned. Um, again, like Florida. And as conditions eroded through the 1980s, Romania was racked with several problems. For one thing, huge numbers of women were attempting to self-induce abortions to avoid the expense of a new child. And again, as we said earlier, between 10 and 20,000 women in Romania died due to botched abortions during Chechescu's time in power. But for another thing, this, his policy of making it illegal to use contraception does massively increase the Romanian population of orphans. Because a huge number of moms had died and, you know, they'd left kids without moms and a lot of those moms were single moms. Um, and in addition to that, a huge number of families just had kids that they couldn't afford to feed. Because Chechescu is cutting the calories people have access to. So you have this large number of people who, like little kids who can't be taken care of or who have no one to take care of them. And you're also cutting the standards of medical care. You're bulldozing hospitals for your palace. So you have more kids who are born with serious health problems that their parents can't afford to treat. The way this all ends up is that by 1989, there are 104,000 orphaned children that are institutionalized in Romanian government facilities. Now for some context on how many kids that is in Poland, which is very close to Romania, Poland has doubled the population of Romania. They have a third as many orphaned children in institutions. Like that is an incredibly high rate. That led to a massive adoption push, didn't it? Yes. Number of things this leads to, that is what we are talking about. So. Sorry, I didn't mean to jump ahead with you. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Respect the orphans, Jeff. God. God, I need to get fucked. That's right. That's what, well, don't do that in not Chechescu's Romania. Not the proper term, but you know. So throughout Chechescu's reign, there's hundreds of thousands of kids who wind up raising these government facilities with no family. And as a result of that, it kind of behooves us to look at how these government institutions were run. And I'm going to quote from an article in the Guardian here. Florence Waar, an investigator for the Institute who spent several years gathering testimony, estimates that between 1966 and 1989, there were between 15,000 and 20,000 unnecessary deaths of children in Romania's grim network of children's homes, with the vast majority taking place in those set aside for disabled children. The most terrific abuse took place in homes for disabled children, who were taken away from their families in institutionalized. At the age of three, disabled children would be sorted by hospital commissions into three categories, so-called curable, partially curable, and incurable. The children who were sorted into the third category, some of whom had minor or no disabilities, were subjected to particularly brutal conditions. Across the country, there were 26 institutions catering to the category three disabled children. Investigators from the institute picked three of them to investigate and found shocking mortality levels among the children. They didn't die from the disabilities they had, 70% of the registered deaths were for pneumonia. They were dying of external causes that were preventable and treatable. Said Swar. As the investigations occurred, they discovered ever more horrific details. There is testimony of children suffering from frostbite and of children literally being eaten by rats, being kept in cages or being smeared in their own feces. The investigators logged 771 deaths they believed could have been prevented in three facilities in the late 1980s, suggesting the number across all 26 institutions over a longer period is much higher. There's no document that proves this, but it is clear that the ultimate goal of this was an extermination campaign, says Swar. So it's not a feel good story. It's not a feel, yeah, extermination campaigns rarely are a feel good story. Yeah, that whole thing with the babies in the rats, that's someone say that's negative information you're delivering. Yeah. But it's not good to lock babies in dark rooms without any adults until they're eaten by rats. That's like a bad thing. I think we were able to take that stance. So if he's that kind of get us in trouble with the advertisers? I don't really care. Okay. Well, hopefully this show is not being advertised by Romanian orphanages in the 1980s. A Romanian rat feed imporion. Yeah. If so, we're going to be in some trouble. But we're going to those babies. Yeah. Keep the babies coming. And why don't you keep the money coming to our sponsors? What's up, y'all? I'm Guillermo Diaz and I played hook on Scandal. And I'm Katie Lowe's, aka Quinn Perkins. And we're the hosts of unpacking the toolbox, the Scandal Rewatch podcast where we're talking about all the best moments of the show. And reliving that set life and finding our characters. You know, hook is this tech savvy, like character, obviously, everyone knows. But me, Guillermo Diaz is like, um, where do I go on my phone to turn on the light? Like I'm worse. Do you think Quinn got cool? Oh, yeah. When you started wearing your leather and your black boots, I know you got so cool. I don't know. I felt like it hurt. She's still such a bird. You glad, haters and suits? Come on, grab your Scandal swag, your popcorn, your duba lay, and join us on unpacking the toolbox every Thursday. Listen to unpacking the toolbox on iHeartRadio app Apple Podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts. It's 1967, the Cold War. And Joseph Stalin's daughter, Stetlana, the princess of the Kremlin, has just fled Mother Russia. Her new home, a place where the roads are paved with gold and people bake Apple pies out of baseballs and freedom, a place called America. Hello, everybody. I am very happy to be here. That story alone would be worthy of a podcast. But this one, Stetlana, Stetlana, is about what comes next. And it's the craziest story I've ever heard. It has KGB agents, mystics, and a Frank Lloyd Wright commune, destiny, immortality and unbreakable cycles, weird sex stuff, weird money stuff, weird dances, three Olga's, two Stetlana's, and one neurotic gay playwright who won't shut up about it all. Guess which one I am? Listen to Stetlana's Stetlana on the iHeartRadio app Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. The Paper Goast is a true crime podcast investigating the mysterious disappearance and brutal, unsolved murder of Tammy's Awiki. They just kept telling us from the beginning, she'll be back, she'll be back. We had no clue where she was. We didn't know where to begin a look. It just hit me like a ton of bricks. I just had not really thought about anything except finding her. Tammy's story shocked the nation. There was no resolution, nothing was ever zeroed in on. The deeper I searched, the more troubling things I found. There was a lot of physical evidence that had never been analyzed. Money and their f*** from a TFBI at a chocolate Missouri. The best lead, the best evidence, the best witness was blown off. Listen to Paper Goasts on the iHeartRadio app Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your favorite shows. What a good time. That money came, baby. Yeah, yeah, it's good stuff. I'm happy that we're getting paid by the product and ourselves. Exactly, exactly. Good stuff. Yeah, we're talking about Chow Cheskoo's orphan extermination facilities. Yeah, good times. And I found a New York Times article. That's so Chow Cheskoo. Yeah, very, very chowy, very chowy. I found a New York Times article written after he was deposed, but like in kind of the awkward period afterwards when everyone's dealing with the consequences of all of his shit. And it provides additional context. The children are left as they, and this is the way the facilities kind of still were in the early 90s. The children are left as they were during the Chow Cheskoo era. Prisoners in their cribs. Many in orphans that is estimated receive five to six minutes of attention a day. Attendants still low on the corridors, smoking and drinking coffee, leaving the children to rock in their pots. As a result of their troubled early lives, one in ten of the children will finish life in a psychiatric institution and all will suffer severe trauma. Doctors without borders said in its farewell report. That's a pretty blank. Yeah, and it's farewell report. Yeah, it's the most ominous line there. And it's we got a bounce. We can't fix this. Man, this is fucked up. We'll see you guys in hell apparently. Yeah, good luck, Romania. But it gets worse, Jeff, because... Oh, great. And you know, how could you make this worse? How could you make this story worse? I'll tell you how you can make this story worse, because it's the 1980s, and it's the HIV virus. What, you don't have a quip for that one? Oh, I mean, yeah, I have plenty. But I don't feel like hearing the comments about that. Yeah, that's probably reasonable. I don't feel like having my good joke be destroyed by commenters. Oh, yeah. Well, we're also going to talk about racism. So... Oh, that's good. Yeah, okay. So we're going to talk about the treatment of the Cheshirezcu regime of the Roma and how it relates to all this. So in Romania, the Roma people are the largest single minority group in the country. They're about 10 to 12% of the population. So question. No, when you say Roma, is that Romani? Yes, yes, the Romani. Yes. Okay, so that's the same thing. Okay. Yes, yes. Yeah, we'll use Romani, because that might make it... Well, I don't know if that's... Romani, Roma, Romania, all of the... It's going to be a little bit cumbersome, no matter how we write it. So... It's all... It is what it is. It is what it is. So while the Roma had lived traditionally on the move, kind of up until the modern period, although there's like one of the things that happens prior to kind of the more democratic forms of government in Romania, like up until like the late 1850s, is it's super common for Roma people to just be enslaved by the state. There's a nasty... Obviously, it's Roma and Eastern Europe. The history is going to be unpleasant and oppressive. It's not... It's not going to be good. They're treated the way Europe also treated like Jews. Yeah, yeah. And right up to the point. But like if they were like kind of hippies. Yeah. Like that's the way they were treated. And they're not... They're not going to have a good history in Europe. No, no. It's going to be rough. And in fact, as you said, they are treated in a lot of ways the way that Jewish populations are. So they are subject to a lot of the same kinds of pogroms and they are victims of the Holocaust as well. This is all across Europe. But it's particularly true in Romania because there's a lot more Roma in Romania. So when they were not being enslaved or massacred, the Roma for most of the 1800s and early 1900s lived the way that they kind of traditionally did, which is on the move, you know, as these kind of traveling groups of people. And this continued up until communism took hold in Romania. And they kind of over time, the communist kind of pushed them to find more sort of settled areas to live. This starts as them kind of building these more stable encampments on the outskirts of major cities. But they're often still kind of like living in tents or these kind of like shanti type buildings they put together. And this is kind of like, I know probably broadly good that they have the option more often for quality homes during this period. It's one of the achievements of the early communist state as we'll talk about there's some problematic aspects to that too. But things do get a lot better for them in the early years of communism. One of the reasons why is that most Roma people in Romania in this period are poor. They don't have any property and they often do not have access, did not have access to education. And in Georgia, days Romania, those are all qualifications, right? Those that make you a good proletarian, right? Like, oh, you don't have any money and you didn't go to a fancy school. Like, yeah, you can have jobs from the communist party. Like that, you are exactly the kind of people that we want to squeeze. Can you read? No. Hell yeah. Come on in. And a number of towns in this period, they get, that is literally how Georgia day handles a lot of stuff. And a number of towns in this period, they get Roma mayors, which had been basically unheard of before this time. And Roma people become uncommonly well represented as like local communist party cadre leaders and as low level functionaries. Like there's actually a really positive early period for the Roma in communism, where they're kind of... They're forced recruitment, yeah. Yeah, they're integrated into the power structure a little bit. Not at never at the high levels, but at kind of the lower levels of it. But even during this kind of positive period, there are some early troubling signs. One of them is that the communist party pretty much immediately stops counting or listing the Roma as a separate population within the country. Now, again, if you have just lived through the Holocaust, the fact that the government is no longer counting you, you might be like, well, this might work out, okay? It's not great when they're counting us. They usually don't do that for a good reason. I'd rather not have somebody with a clipboard. Yeah. Look at how many of us there are and where. It's on my clipboard real quick. Don't go hard on it. Yeah, it would be reasonable to feel good about this, but what it kind of meant in this case is that the communist party, they obviously don't want to do a physical genocide, but they don't want the Roma to exist as a distinct group within society. They want to kind of erase them as a culture in the process of integrating them into mass society, which is a thing they do not just do to the Roma, that does not just occur in communist Romania, but it's a thing. It happens in a lot of places. It happens in many places, but we're talking about Romania. So under Chow Cheskus, systematization is the process by which they are bulldozing these rural towns and forcing people into the cities. And another thing they do during this is they bulldoze these Roman neighborhoods. And the people, obviously, they're not just like making them homeless. Nobody is homeless in Chow Cheskus, Romania. They are moving them into these new and more modern developments. And in some ways, this is positive because the homes that they had lived in previously were not of good quality and were often somewhat dangerous. And the homes they move into are much better quality and much safer. But when the government is moving them, it isn't keeping these communities together. They're not like splitting up individual families, but they're not keeping these groups that had traveled and lived together for generations together. And that's kind of a soft ethnic cleansing. Is that purposeful? Is that purposeful? There's debate about this and I have this. Yeah. I think the balance of what I'm reading suggests it's more accidental or just a byproduct of the way the communists felt about every group in the country. But there are allegations and there's reason to believe them that a significant amount of this was intentional because they also just saw it as potentially dangerous to have these people as a separate community. I'm not going to be able to give you, again, a lot of stuff is debated about this still. You are right that there are benefits to having like a wall. Yes, yes, yes, this is not all negative. It's like, but it's it also you are, this is one of the things that's occurring here is kind of the destruction of the community that has had existed previously. Still given how things had gone prior to the 80s, it could be argued that the situation for Roma in Romania was in most ways better than it had been for the last couple of centuries in the area. But then as we've been talking about the economy in Romania collapses and Chowchew forces his vaunted austerity measures on the populace. Now the Roma had always had larger families than most other people in Romania. But prior to Chowchew, Roma women had utilized pretty frequently legal and safe abortions to aid in family planning. With abortion now illegal, families had more children than they could afford to feed or take care of under Chowchew's new regime. And so Roma families were forced to send their children to state orphanages at the highest rates in the country. And I'm going to quote from an article in the Open Society Foundation here. The results were a high level of poverty and an increase in unwanted children, Romanian families which were already traditionally large, also increased in size at this time because even though birth control had never been widely accepted, abortions were common among the Roma. Most of all ethnicities were now being dropped off at railway stations and churches, causing the population and orphanages to swell to an unmanageable number. State institutions were forced to deal with slashed budgets. Hospitals resorted to reusing needles and other materials that could be rinsed or quickly sterilized. Blood however was in large supply because donors were paid a small fee. So in the orphanage pantries were down to just powdered milk, it seemed like a good idea to give the smallest and weakest children whole blood transfusions under the theory that new blood would have more nutrients for their bodies to use. Now can you see how this could go? Vampires, what? Yeah. Yeah. It is a little, okay, it's a little vampire. That's a little, a little too on the nose as far as your region is concerned. Yeah, it is a bit of a thing. But can you see how maybe giving sickly orphan children blood transfusions in the 1980s could be a serious problem? They should have gotten like power lifter blood. Yeah. They probably shouldn't have gotten much blood in the 80s because again, the AIDS crisis is hidden. So there's a horrible health crisis as a result of this. In 1988, only, yeah. So only about 20% of the blood being donated in Romania is tested for disease in 1988. Because again, budget cuts and the person who's in charge of all of the chemistry related things is Alina and she doesn't really think you need to test all that much of the blood. Well, of course not. She's got her advanced degree and she understands blood. And yeah, it's don't tell me my job. Yeah. Blood is what you drink, yes? Blood is, how do you say oil through body? It's fine. So in 1988, the government reported just three cases of HIV infection to the World Health Organization. But in 1989, the next year, the numbers swelled to 1200 and nearly 96% of those were in children under four years of age, 65% of them were kids in orphanages. And all of them had a history of multiple transfusions. This is the start of a children's epidemic. That's like a 40,000% increase. Yeah, it is pretty rough. And in all of these orphanages, like 80% of the children are Roma. So it is primarily an AIDS crisis among forced, forcibly orphaned Romanian, Roma children. So that's bad. So they need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps. Well, that is hard to do when you are wasting away from a variety of AIDS-related illnesses. That is fair, yeah. When you're wasting away before the AIDS. And also, you have no access to bootstraps because the government's... Yeah, you're a result to IKEA. Yeah, IKEA is using them to make those horse meat balls. Yeah. Horse meat and boot robbers, very good. Somewhere around 11,000 Roma children are believed to have been infected with AIDS as a result of all this, compared with around 3,000 other Romanian orphans, which gives you an idea of just how significant the scale of this was. Okay. And I just... Yeah. So it's because they made the plan to just instead of like feeding these kids properly to just give them bonus blood. Yeah, give them bonus blood. And then it gets into the blood. It's such a weird way that a large group of people is getting HIV or full loan AIDS in the case because it's just like there is not much to retrieve. I believe that nobody should ever be doing anyways and see how it goes in the middle of one of the greatest epidemics in all of human history. If AIDS had never happened and there was just the anecdote in here that they were feeding orphans blood because there wasn't enough food, that would still be one of the worst things I've ever read. It would be fucking weird as well. Like it would be like this fucking weird. That's not what you do. You have a whole country. You don't need to do this. Yeah, why are you giving... Why are you feeding their baby bodies blood? You're giving them a few full freaks. You monsters. But it's... Yeah, but it was also AIDS blood. Yeah. Okay, that one from weird to like fully sinister. And here's maybe the one of the bleakest. Obviously, a huge number of these children who get infected in the late 80s die fairly quickly from it because there's very little in the way of treatments for AIDS. But once the country gets liberated and sort of Western aid agencies come in in the mid-90s and there's also some more treatments available, you're better off in some ways being a Romanian orphan with AIDS than you are being a Romanian orphan without AIDS because there's more international funding to take care of the kids with AIDS. There's better group homes for them. And they also because people start to get sympathetic to kids who get AIDS through blood transfusions in the West, you're more likely to get adopted out of the country. And so after Chowchescu falls, some of the luckiest orphans are the AIDS orphans, which is... There's an asterisk citation needed real quick. Yeah. It's just like one of those things where like for an example of how bleak this is, some kids were better off because they got AIDS in Romanian orphanages. Like, that is how bad the fucking situation was. That's like winning the lottery at the asbestos factory. And the lottery prize is all of the left over asbestos cigarettes. Yeah. God, I could go for an asbestos cigarette. It's just the normal ones hurt my throat so much. You need a better filter. Yeah, exactly. And there's no better filter than asbestos. No, that's what everyone says about asbestos. I really, if we had the asbestos crisis today, I think with the way culture wars go in this country, we would get rid of a lot of problem voters very quickly. Yeah. And there's a theoria at this point in time. Oh, that's 80% of a T-shirt idea, Jeff. There's a theoria. Yeah, there's that. You know what? That's fine. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Print it. Yeah. So as the 80s drag to a close, the whole Warsaw Pact is enduring shortages of basic goods and political unrest. I'm sure you all remember from like middle school or high school, you know, glassnosed and perestroika and the USSR and your Gorbachev, which are these these policies meant to kind of open up the Soviet Union and relax it from some hardline positions. This is obviously praised in the West. People are like, yay, glassnosed and perestroika. We're not quite as close to nuking each other as we used to be. But Chowskew hates again. Chowskew never stops being kind of a hardline Stalinist. And he publicly mocks glassnosed and perestroika warning that easy to do from your palace by the way. Yeah. Well, it's very easy to attack these ideas. If I had a palace, I would talk so much shit. Oh my God. I would never not be talking shit. The only time I wouldn't be talking shit is when I am pouring boiling oil on the poor people gathered below the parapets of my castle. Are you I would be like, who's who's running that's going to keep me in the palace? Mm-hmm. I'm going to vote for them. Yeah. Exactly. That is how people with palaces didn't devote. Yeah. Pints most of the history of Europe. So the USSR is doing this stuff and Chowskew publicly mocks these new policies and Gorbachev. He announced that similar reforms would only come to Romania when pairs grew from apple trees. Now, that's a weird thing to say. And I think a bunch of students in Bucharest felt the same way because a group of theater kids get so incensed by this that they gather as many pairs as they could. And again, they're all hungry. So the fact that they're using pairs for a protest is meaningful. And they hang the, they hang pairs from just trees in the capital and mass as a sign of protest to be like, okay, you said you said we'd get changed when there's pairs growing from the trees. So we'll just make that happen. This does not go well with Chowskew. He takes this, he takes offense at this. And I'm going to quote from a write an article in the Los Angeles Times. The taught so infuriated to Chowskew that he ordered his security taught secret police to identify the perpetrators and attack the students in their dormitories, killing many of them. Other students took to the university square where more than a hundred were slaughtered that night. So that's a lot for a college break. Yeah, I mean, I've seen worse, but you know, yeah, not by much, not by much. It's, it's enough that you would have trouble making a good John Landis movie about it. So Jeff, may, yeah, I've heard of it. Yeah, well, you know, what I've heard of, Jeff, I would love to know the things that you've heard of. The products and services that support this podcast. In fact, the only thing I hear is them when I close my eyes at night when I, when I put on my noise, canceling here headphones, all I hear is the repeated sounds of the ads for this podcast. And now you can have a piece of my eternal waking hell for yourself right now. What's up, y'all? I'm Guillermo Diaz and I played hook on Scandal. And I'm Katie Lowe's, aka Quinn Perkins. And we're the hosts of unpacking the toolbox, the Scandal Rewatch podcast where we're talking about all the best moments of the show and reliving that set life and finding our characters. You know, hook is, is this tech savvy, like character, obviously, everyone knows, but me, Guillermo Diaz is like, um, where do I go on my phone to turn on the phone? Turn on the light. Like I'm the worst. Do you think Quinn got cool? Oh, yeah. When you started wearing your leather and your black boots, like a foot. I know you got so cool. I don't know. I felt like it or heart. She's still such a f***er. Glad, haters and suits. Come on. Grab your Scandal swag, your popcorn, your dubellé, and join us on unpacking the toolbox every Thursday. Listen to unpacking the toolbox on iHeartRadio app Apple Podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts. It's 1967, the Cold War, and Joseph Stalin's daughter, Stetlana, the princess of the Kremlin, has just fled Mother Russia. Her new home? A place where the roads are paved with gold and people bake Apple pies out of baseballs and freedom. A place called America. Hello, everybody. I am very happy to be here. That story alone would be worthy of a podcast. But this one, Svetlana's Svetlana, is about what comes next. And it's the craziest story I've ever heard. It has KGB agents, mystics, and a Frank Lloyd Wright commune, destiny, immortality, and unbreakable cycles, weird sex stuff, weird money stuff, weird dances, three Olga's two Svetlana's and one neurotic gay playwright who won't shut up about it all. Guess which one I am. Listen to Svetlana's Svetlana on the iHeartRadio app Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Paper Ghost is a true crime podcast investigating the mysterious disappearance and brutal unsolved murder of Tammy Zawiki. They just kept telling us from the beginning, she'll be back, she'll be back. We had no clue where she was, didn't know where to begin to look. It just hit me like a ton of bricks. I just had not really thought about anything except finding her. Tammy's story shocked the nation. There was no resolution, nothing was ever zeroed in on. The deeper I searched, the more troubling things I found. There was a lot of physical evidence that had never been analyzed. Money and their **** from a TFBI at a chocolate Missouri. The best lead, the best evidence, the best witness was blown off. Listen to Paper Ghosts on the iHeartRadio app Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your favorite shows. Ah! Oh my God. That's a Tetris effect right there. I'm going to be closing my eyes and seeing these commercials in my head. That's how I live every day of my life, Jeff. I never get to escape it. Honestly, that's just called living in America, baby. Living in America. Oh, that was pretty good song. Rocky IV, baby. Pretty good song. Yeah, not great, pretty good. So it's a passable song, yeah. Passable song, acceptable song, much like my collaboration with Destiny's Child. Sophie, can we play that again? Getting a no from Sophie. It's going to be a no for me, dog. Wow. Well, I guess that's Sophie's choice. Wow. We did it again. We did it again. Good times. So speaking of good times, Chow Chesku's good times are nearing an end by 1989. The process by which Chow Chesku was forcing villagers out of their homes and into massive housing developments was not popular. People do not like being forced out of their homes, actually, Jeff. This is a thing that a lot of folks don't know about people. In 1987, he announced that half of Romania's remaining 13,000 villages were going to be bull boasts and people were given 48 hours to move. So half of the people who live in the country, you all have to leave your homes right the fuck now. Now this is very unpopular and it contributes to the protest movement against him. And while this is also happening, internationally, his luck is running out because I don't know if you know, but this because Gorbachev became a pizza hut spokesman and then kind of a laughing stock and then shit with Russia didn't go so great in the post-Sovietan Union period either. But back during this period in the late 80s when he's he's doing this glass nose in Perstroica, he is the dandy of Western media. People cannot get enough of how much stuff do you remember watching where they were like Gorby Gorby like that like the Simpsons episode where dude was in Mad Magazine every month. Yeah. And he loved this guy because he had that that the the birthmark was very distinguishable and he was just he was open for all forms of what it's of entertainment. He was just people like him over here. I remember that. Yeah. People liked him. I've talked to my my parents are much more are very conservative, but one of the things that my dad said about him that did make sense to me is like, look, if you're growing up in the US in the 1960s and it's this constant drum beat of we are going to have a nuclear exchange with Russia. And then they finally have a guy who's like, no, you know what? Everything's going to be cool. Like yeah, you feel good about him. You know, you feel like it's your television program funky Brewster. Yeah. Everybody's feeling pretty good about this. But the fact that everyone's feeling pretty good about Gorbachev means that what's the use of Chow Chesku, right? His whole value was the US and the Soviet Union are mortal enemies, but here's this guy in their backyard who's willing to work with us and like be part of a communist power block that's kind of opposing sometimes Soviet policy. Now that the US and the Soviet Union are like becoming friendly with each other, he doesn't have any use to the United States. And you know what the United States does to countries that we no longer have a use to we continue to support them. Yeah, we that's exactly what happens. We support them like we support all of our good friends that we no longer have a vested financial interest in. I don't know, roughly half of the country's on earth how that works for them. Usually when that happens, we just throw Coca-Cola in there to take care of the rest. Nikolai's health begins to decline during this period too. He's not doing very well. He's less able to kind of manage his own affairs. And Elena starts taking a more and a more active role in governing. Eventually becoming something akin to the region of Romania, she creates a second shadow bullet bureau of her own to review all proposals before they're brought to her husband. And she starts spending huge amounts of state resources expanding the personality cult around both of them from an article by the Romanian Cultural Institute. Quote, The birthdays of the Chauchescus represented occasions for pompous ceremonies when the two geniuses were showered with innumerable gifts. The range of accolades was extremely wide. grandiose manifestations on stadiums which involved tens of thousands of people. A never-ending stream of messages of gratitude works of prose and poetry written especially for the occasion. Celebratory editions of the National Festival, the praise of Romania. Hems, odes, songs, dances, paintings and sculptures produced by armies of artists. The zealots of the personality cult placed the dictator among the authentically great figures of Romanian history. Thus Chauchescus shortly evolved from being just a hero to a hero among heroes, to being the nation's hero, to being the most important hero of the nation's heroes. Quentin Portraits counted among the most frequent and appreciated gifts offered to Nikolai Chauchescus and his wife. The party organizations would commission various artists to create them. Depending on the budget, the artist was a household name or a lesser-known artisan. The request could be for a painting in which Chauchescus is pictured as a defender of the peace, friend and mentor to all Romanians, heir to the great forerunners and millennial ideals. The creator of the multi-latterally developed socialist society. Other paintings would highlight the great scientific achievements of his poorly educated spouse, depicted as a member of the Romanian Academy and a PhD in engineering with international scientific contributions. She gets a fancy British university, gives her an honorary degree because they get like strong armed into it. It's very funny. You don't want to be the one that hands in a subpar painting. No, no. For example, imagine if you show up and you're just like, I've really hard on this and I do not like the way in my eyes. Well, it's very funny, too, because if you look at these, I'm actually going to share screen so you can see one of these fucking portraits. Chauchescus is usually portrayed kind of close to how he looks like it's slightly idealized, obviously, as they always are. It's slightly idealized, but he just kind of looks like himself, you know, his hair in his face shape is the same. He looks about the age that he is kind of middle-aged. Elena is almost exclusively portrayed in portraits as like a girl in her 20s. Smokyo, maybe. Yeah. Like, here, check this one out. Oh, yeah. Wow. It's sort of like it looks like his child bride. She looks so young in the eye. Yeah. It is unsettling when like, yeah, Chauchescus can be a man in his 60s, but we got to make his wife look 25. But yeah, that's the kind of art that they would apparently made them happy. It did not actually make the people who lived in Romania happy, and they protested against the cult of personality, against the constant austerity, and against most like kind of the last big thing people protest is this forced push to destroy half the villages in the country and make people move to the cities. And one of the people who protested this... All people are just going to complain about anything, aren't they? I know. It's unreasonable. We have the snowflakes. Sophie and I have the same problem with our employees at Cool Zone. They hate it when we force them to leave their homes and destroy them with pickaxes in order to move to insular apartment blocks in the cities, though they can work in our factories making low quality televisions. We just don't understand why they're going so much. Garrison just does not stop with it. It's endless. It's endless. So, one of the people who protest in Romania is a traveling, a tenorant preacher named Lazlo Tox. Lazlo refused to leave his home when he was evicted. Basically, Chescu, this village he's in, Timisora, Chescu's like, you got to get the fuck out. I'm going to destroy it. Everybody's moving to the city. And Tox is like the fuck. Also, it is spelled Lazlo Tox as in if he was like a pot icon. Hell yeah. Yeah. It's pretty cool. It's a pretty cool name, actually. Today he would have a podcast called Lazlo Tox where he reviews different Romanian weed strains. He would be super big on the Joe Rogan hour, four hours. So he actually is a very cool guy. So he's like, fuck you, I'm not leaving my home. And Soldiers and Police bear down on the town of Timisora because he starts getting attention from people. This movement forms around him. And he's like, you know, when all the cops show up, he's like, don't get arrested for me. You should go home. And all of the people who have gathered are like, you know what? No, we're not going to abandon you to get arrested by the police. Fuck these guys. We have to take a stand at some point. And they do. And so the security forces fire water cannons into the crowd. That disperses most of the people and they're able to rush in and grab Lazlo and they beat him half to death and they drag him out of his home. Now this is the kind of thing we talked about that peasant's uprising where that dude got hit in the face with a fucking rock. This short sort of shit again had happened all over Romania to a bunch of people for years. But this time in the way that these things happen, it ignited something uncontrollable. Protests erupt in response to the beating of Lazlo and they erupt in Timisora and then they spread to the surrounding areas. And in very short order, it becomes clear that the security taught does not have the manpower to repress this. And you know, initially don't they? Yeah. But they they share don't boy doesn't every secret police. Yeah, they have that ability. That is the case always with the secret police. How do our public and guard do in Iraq? Yeah. Great. That's why Saddam Hussein is enjoying his like 98th birthday. By the way, shout out to friend of the pod, Saddam. Any I don't know what I take that right. But yeah. Yeah. So the security taught gets overwhelmed very quickly. Chesco and Alina at first they don't kind of recognize how serious the situation is and then they're like, well, why don't you just start killing people? And then you start firing into crowds and the security taught is like we have been doing that the entire time and it is not working. Yeah. Yeah. That's like trying to take a bucket at the beach to try to just throw the water back in. Uh, boss, we have problem. We have we are shooting into crowds. But people have no fear of death because you have mismanaged countries so grievously. Are you aware of events 1912? Yeah. Yeah. He turns out thousands of orphans with AIDS is more frightening than our bullets. They are no longer scared. We are. Yeah. Um, the military who had the ability presumably to have put down this uprising are also just kind of do the thing that often happens with militaries. We're like, enough of them are like, well, for one thing, I don't want to murder my own family members. And for another thing, this doesn't look good. I don't know if we want to like back up the security taught guys. Maybe we sit this. Maybe there's places where the military cracks down, but there's enough places where the military is like, we're just going to wait this one out that the movement is able to really gain steam. Um, it's, it's a little, yeah, I mean, and it's obviously like the military as with in Germany, the military had been complicit in some pretty horrible things. But they now that they see that like, oh, we might have to, we might not be able to put a lid back on this thing. But they decide they have principled objections to the Chow Chesku regime, much like the principled resistors in the Fairmark. So Nikolai organizes a speech to be delivered from the same balcony that he'd spoken from in 1968. You know, that big, that was his big moment. It was a good time for him. This time trying to reprise his big moment does not go well as Paul Kenyon describes in children of the night. Chow Chesku was one minute and 17 seconds into his address when he heard yells from somewhere in the back, such an intervention was unprecedented. He glanced up and stumbled over his words, considering it is he began losing his way. The yells became louder, considering it is cheers and whistles echoed around the square. Chow Chesku never finished his sentence. He did not have to. His audience was never there for his oratory. It was a moment frozen in time and in history. Chow Chesku stood with his mouth half open and his forehead creased with confusion. You can see this moment. You can watch him realize like, oh God, I've lost control. They're not scared of me anymore and I no longer have the power to stop them. Yeah. And he has no improv skill. And he's got no, yeah, he doesn't even have a tight five ready to kind of get the crowd back. Yeah. Take a class, dude. Christ. I can't imagine Chow Chesku like doing the billhicks where he just starts rolling around on his back, shouting about how everyone needs to be killed. Um, it was one way to deal with hecklers. Yeah, that's absurdly. Yeah. Chow Chesku's way of dealing with hecklers is having his military form of ring of steel around the Capitol building and repeatedly shoot at everybody who gets close. This does not work out well. And I should note the architects of that that that heckling was not entirely organic. It was part of a protest campaign who was led by those theater students who had had a bunch of their friends massacred for the pair thing. They're led by this. They took improv classes. They took improv and they knew how to heckle. Yeah. Yeah. Theater kids know how to handle a stage experience like that. And they do it very, very well. I met it. The last good thing theater kids ever did. That this is this is also the case. There's a lot to say about Romanian politics and the failure's theater kids had in the anyway, whatever. That's a story for another day. Chow Chesku was effectively chased from the stage and protest around the Capitol swelled and of course security forces get overwhelmed. And by the next day it becomes clear like we're not going to be able to hold on to the Capitol building. And in fact, Nikolai and Alina barely escape a mob like they get into the helicopter just like seconds away from being pulled into a crowd of people who probably would not have made that a pleasant experience for them. Platoon. Yeah. They have to abandon the Capitol and they like the pilot there with as soon as because the pilot's just like, you know, some guy in the Romanian military who gets called in and he's like, wow, these protests look bad as shit. I wonder what they want me for. And then he winds up with the boss and his wife and no one else on the helicopter as a mob takes the Capitol. So this guy's like, I don't want to be doing this. Yeah. I do not want to be with these folks. This is not going to end well for me. He's like, this is either going to be very good for me. Yeah. Very, very bad for me. So he basically does the, oh, trouble with the helicopter. I got to put you guys down, but don't worry. Once I let you out, I'll let you out near an army base and then I got to, I'm going to go get another helicopter and I'll be right back and we'll take care of you. Don't worry, guys. This dude rocks. Yeah. It's a very funny story. He absolutely makes the, the right calculation in the moment. So it's also very funny to notice that this is in late December in Romania. Yeah. But they are, he just leaves two old people by the sight of the road and it's like, bye. Yeah. Beast of luck. I'm going to get the fuck out of here. They wind up getting to a military base and are like, this will be our new Capitol and we will, you know, retake the country with these forces and the military is like, we might have a note or two on that one. But why don't we lock you in an armored vehicle for a little while and you can sleep there and then they wake them up kind of after a little while in here. And the Cheshireskus see that their, that like their military chief of staff is there. The guy who would help them escape in the helicopter and they're like, oh, good. You made it out too. And he's like, now you're all going to be, you both are going to be on trial for crimes against humanity and genocide. Surprise. Yeah. I mean, at that point in time, he probably was like, hey, guys, like a good news in back news. Yeah. The good news is I'm here. I got everyone to back off. Yeah. The bad news is we're going to shoot you. We're going to see pretty bad. We're going to have us a show trial. And it is, it's one of those things. You can watch this. I recommend watching the footage of Cheshire giving that speech and realizing he's lost control of the country. I've also watched the footage of them being executed because that's what's happened. What happens next? And it is not see it. Yeah. How could you not see it? I want to see a dictator and his wife who is also a dictator get gunned down. I don't know. There is an element of it that's cathartic. I certainly get why you would feel that way if you were a manion. It's important to recognize the people doing this. I mean, the soldiers doing this are just like kids, but the adults, like the leadership of Romania who make the decision to give them the show trial and execute him are not doing this for justice. They're doing this because maybe we don't get killed if we shoot boss. Yeah. That's 100% like the old swear thing. You delivered that almost sheepishly. You're like, I need you to know. These people weren't revolutionaries that were behind this guy two days ago. No, they're trying not to get killed. Yeah. And like they are scared as shit. That has to be like that conversation absolutely happened. The guy's probably, he's like, why are you doing this? He's like, dude, they're going to fucking kill me. Do you know how angry they are? Like, you're clearly getting killed. I don't know how you don't understand that. Yeah. And all I have to do is do the thing that is definitely going to happen in a way. Yeah. And it's not and on Christmas, Noah. And it happens Christmas day in 1989. They get gunned down by their own soldiers. Yeah. And they were caught by like on the 22nd, right? Yeah. It's very quick. Yeah. They just spend a lot of time in lock up. This is a, what we refer to in America as a quick and speedy trials. Yeah. Yeah. They do, uh, roommate, the new regime institutes itself by ensuring the right to a speedy trial for Nikolai Chachescu. Hey, more like habeas corpse. Oh, you know what I'm saying? That is how this all ends. And that is the life of Chachescu and Nikolai and Elena. Hi, Holly, Jolly Corpsmith. It is. They do, like, look, they absolutely deserve to be shot. And they absolutely deserve to be shot unceremoniously. That part's fine. It's just a lot of the people having them shot also probably should have been shot themselves. But hey, isn't that always the case? Yep. I mean, yeah. Yeah. Some would say broadly speaking, this is about as well as a story of a dictator ever in's and Romania, you know, obviously they are in a bad position when he falls. The next decade and change are challenging. But this is one of those cases where revolution comes and the government that replaces it, things get a shitload better. It is much better to be in Romania now than it was under Chachescu in the 80s. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. I would like to add too that when you think about Christmas 1989, it's just like, oh, I got a game boy. And they're like, we got a dead ruler. Yeah, we did have a game, but not the weak boy. So yeah, that's good. Things do get a lot better. And it's like, again, we are, I'm not going to, we don't have the time to talk about the last 30 years or so of Romanian history since all this. But one of the things that has increasingly happened, you know, especially after the kind of immediate chaos of the fall of the regime is there have been an ongoing series of prosecutions against people who committed crimes, people who worked with a security taught, people who were responsible for the repression apparatus. And I don't know. Again, there's actually, there's a good, obviously plenty of criticisms of how that process has gone down. But if you're kind of looking at the broad history of revolutions that replace dictatorships, one of the better jobs of holding people to account, which again, doesn't mean perfect. But things are better, a lot better in Romania. This is a revolution that things get a lot better after. I would like to add to that, you mentioned Las Lotokes, like he was active in politics for a while. Like, that dude was working before he got into broadcasting. Yeah. He's got to get that podcast. Oh, yeah. So, Sophie, let's reach out to Las Lotokes and see if we can get him, get him to review marijuana for us. Sure. Yeah. I bet you could be like, hey, do you want to go on a show? He's 70. He's got plenty of podcasting years left. I honestly think you should reach out. I'm looking at his Wikipedia now. In 2010, his wife filed for divorce and accused him of numerous affairs and absurd habits. I kind of want to know what the habits are. He's token, baby. He's token. He's token absurdly. He smokes. He would every day. Yeah. That's why they call him Las Lotokes. So yeah. Cool guy. Ish, probably. I got to tell you, I expected him to look a lot more wily than he shows up in photos. Yeah. He just looks like a dude. Yep. So I don't know. I actually think he's pretty far right. But whatever. What are you going to do? What are you going to do? It's funny because when you look at it and you look at how the Soviet bloc collapsed and you're like Christmas of 1989, that fits the timeline. But you look at what the finish was and you're like, oh, this is a lot different than how it happened. That's the thing. It's very interesting because the collapse of the Soviet Union for all of the things that are ugly about it, this does not happen anywhere else. And nowhere else do you have like the people overthrow the government and massacre the leader. That's just like not a thing that occurs like in the USSR and any of the other places. It only happens in Romania and that's because of the kind of piece of shit that Chachescu was. Okay. Well, let's not go too far. Yeah, you're right. You're right. I don't need to be rude about it. Affend that the Chachescu stands in the audience who are so hard to live up to. No, I'm sorry. He didn't live up to your father's and his team's standards. Yeah. Nobody's perfect, Robert. Chachescu did his best. He did his Chab best. Cool. Yeah, that's probably good. That's probably good. Yeah. No, no, no, he went. Yeah. Sorry. Sorry, he wasn't woke enough for you. Yeah. As he massacred all those people. Yeah. Exactly. Cancel culture comes for the man who created history's greatest orphan in orphan crisis. Yeah. Purity politics much. Yeah. Geez. Let he who is not accidentally and or purposefully infected tens of thousands of babies with AIDS in the AIDS cast the first stone. I can't believe all of these woke skulls coming out and saying they never gave 11,000 children AIDS because they starved them and we're using blood transfusions to try and provide them with nutrients. Well, among us hasn't partially starved an entire populace. That's exactly what Jesus said. Yeah. Yeah. The loaves and fishes was about taking a little bit of a loaf and fish away from everybody. Yeah, exactly. A little bit less so that you can live in a palace. Yes. A Christian palace. A Christian palace. Anyway, las low tokes. You actually sound like you're kind of a weird right winger, but if you want to do a marijuana focus podcast, hit us up. That seems like a thing our audience would like. Yeah. I don't know. Yeah. He seems like he'd get milkshake duct real fast as we got into his talk. It does seem like we in live for milkshake ductive a little bit. We're like, oh, this is a real enemy if my enemy situation and then you seem like, ah, that was more like the Taliban rambo. Yeah. Yes. So I don't know. You know what? I'm thinking about now that you brought up Rambo. Why did we never make Sylvester Stallone a governor? Because he wasn't in predator. Oh, you're right. Well, it's like, sorry, dude. That's a prerec. That's like the 15th amendment. I'm going to guess. Yeah. Yeah. Governors have to have been this post episode banter has gone on far too long. Wow. Well, sorry. We're adding color. Yeah. Why don't you, why don't you, why don't you plug your pluggables, Jeff? Ro. I don't even know if I want to anymore. It's not fun. No, um, it is fun to talk about myself. No. So, hey, my name is Jeff May. You can find me across social media ad. Hey, there, Jeff. Ro, if you want to see me perform live, if you are in California, the second Friday of every month in Burbank at blast from the past on Magnolia. I do a show called Mint on Card. A lot of fun. Comedy in a toy store. If you are in New England, I will be there the 22nd of February. That's coming up real soon, folks. I have the redemption rock brewery in Worcester, Massachusetts. That is Wednesday, the 22nd. If and when you want to hear more of me and podcasting, I do a great show called Jeff has cool friends, which you can get for free everywhere or at slash Jeff May. That's seven letters. And you can get early access to Uncensored episodes with bonus content as well as monthly shows like Ag Fine. You can also hear Nerd with Dre Alvarez, which is a deep dive into Nerd stuff, which you can also get that one for free as well. You can also hear Tom and Jeff watch Batman with Tom Rhyman on a Gamefully Unemployed Network. And you can also hear me on you don't even like sports and unpopular opinion, both on the unphop's network with Adam Todd Brown. Wow. There it is. Do you sell it just click into that plot thing? Yeah. No, you were incredible. You were like a Romanian mob taking over the palace of my heart. Did draw a rock while I said that. Yeah. You did that a lot during podcasting and I salute you for it. Well, there's nothing left for me to do, but play us out. Sophie, why don't we queue up my track again? All right. One more time. Just to make you happy. One more time for the road, everybody. There's one more time so that rock is happy because rock happiness matters. Pretty good musicians at Destiny's Child. At Destiny's Child. That's the key for Boston. That's the key for Boston. Okay. That ought to do that. You know, we did that all in one take. I like Dadal's creativeness by cheating the, all right. That'll do there in there for you. That's my favorite part. You are from Boston. I may be home there and I'm talking to Boston. Oh, Boston. Thank you. Thank you, Jeff. You all sound like my friend, Robert. Yeah. Thank you for getting the word out. All right. That's all right. Talk to you. All right. Bye. This is done. That's the Chapshapscoot podcast. Behind the bastards is a production of Cool Zone Media. For more from Cool Zone media, visit our website Or check us out on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcast. What's up, y'all? I'm Guillermo Diaz and I played Huck on Scandal. And I'm Katie Loes, aka Quinn Perkins, and we're the hosts of unpacking the toolbox. The Scandal Rewatch podcast where we're talking about all the best moments of the show. With guests like Tony Goldwyn who always amped up the fire as President Fitzgerald Grant. Grab your Scandal swag, your du belay, and join us on unpacking the toolbox every Thursday. Listen to unpacking the toolbox on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Daniel Miller is a millennial con artist. I'm a social media influencer. Busted while recovering from Brazilian butt lift surgery. She was yelling at the police for like getting her butt tissue out of joy when they were hand-guffing her. She's got hundreds of victims. To me, that's not a con artist that just is a straight up predator. And she just keeps getting away with it. This person is a danger. Listen to Queen of the Con, Season 3 on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. 13 Exoneration's all connected to one forensic scientist. I'm Tessa Kramer, host of the new podcast series, Admissable, a podcast about evidence. Those are my genes. 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