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 Three: Nicolae Ceaușescu: The Dracula of Being A Dick

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

Tue, 07 Feb 2023 11:00

Robert is joined by Jeff May for part three of our series on Nicolae Ceaușescu.

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Painter swelling in the nose and throat, skin rash or irritation, including itching and redness, peeling, burning or stinging, headache, itching and flu. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take and if you're pregnant or planned to be. Ask your doctor if VTAMA cream is right for you. You deserve more from your topical. To learn more, visit You can do your job now, Robert. Oh! Well, I did my job, Sophie. I introduced the podcast. How are we feeling? Everybody good? We all have newly hot beves. We're doing great. Yeah, we got a hot bev. And we've got a hot bud, Jeff May. Jeff, I got a bone to pick with you. Yeah, what is that bone? Well, Jeff, at the end of last episode, I said, as I was asking you to introduce your pluggables, where did you come from, where did you go, where did you come from? And then I had to say, Cottonite Jeff, which made me sad because if your name had just been Joe, you see what I'm saying here, Jeff? That would have worked a lot better. That would have worked a lot better. But they just missed Joseph. It's like the one white guy name that nobody in my family has. Let them know they fucked up my joke. I'm sorry. Honestly, that's on my dad. Yeah, well, I'm living now. Jeff, what I'm not living at is you for being here to continue talking about Nikolai Chuchescu with me. How are you feeling? You know, no place I'd rather be than right here talking about tyrannical despots. Wow, that's a lie, but it's a nice lie. A sweet lie, Jeff. Thank you for that friendly lie. We used to call those white lies, but now I'm going to call them Jeff May lies. I mean, the name Jeff May is pretty synonymous with the word white. So I feel like it does work either way. Jeff from May of the West just to me. We got to find more uses for you to do your, your, your frumpy American Northeast accent, Jeff. That was perfect. I'm a real man. You should be proud. I got to, I got to do a Vanderbilt. Before we do a Vanderbilt, let's talk about a guy who probably had an accent. Like the only, the only Romanian accent that I know how to do is a Dracula accent. And I do feel like that would be offensive. Although Jeff, no, we are about to start by talking about how Chuchescu used Dracula and other heroes from Romania has passed in order to make the case as to why he, and I'm going to quote here from an article on the cult of Chuchescu by the New York Times. In Tiglovis, today's history museum, there is a new exhibition of Romanian heroes. An enormous portrait of Chuchescu gazes down on the busts of Romanian rulers. Among the venerated is Vlad Dracula, the 15th century prince whose cruelty is gave rise to the Dracula vampire legend. Flanking the entranceway are huge bronze busts of decibel, the Dacian king, and Trasian, the Roman Emperor who defeated decibel at a great cost in the second century. Could it be that Chuchescu is casting himself not only as a Romanian Emperor, but as a Roman one as well? After all, he carried a jeweled royal mace at his 1974 induction as president. Roman Emperor, the guy who snorted. It's a little late to do jeweled mace. You think so 74? You think that's late for a jeweled mace? Yeah, 1974. Like if my dad was alive for it, I feel like you shouldn't have like a jewel mace. But if you like the idea of like, I want to rehabilitate your legacy. Yeah, we're talking about Chuchescu here as we shit on the idea of having a jeweled mace at your coronation. But the British royal families over there sweating in a corner being like, don't bring us up. Don't bring us up. We got a fucking room full of jeweled maces. Don't let anybody talk. They're like, you don't even want to know where we got these jewels. Yeah. So yeah, it's very funny. There's a line in that article where the guy is like, no, he doesn't think he's a Roman Emperor. He thinks he's a god. And the New York Times reporters, like, what do you mean? And the guy is like, in the newspapers, they've printed poems about Chuchescu describing him as a dimmy god. Yeah, I mean, not too far off from what Roman Emperor's thought. So that's where we're going. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's, it's good. So I mean, you could say, yeah, he's just, he's honoring his, his cultural heritage. All of our cultural heritage. As an Italian, I understand the need to believe that some guy who was born into a job is, is literally divine. It's easier than thinking. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Thank you. The, the, the, the god of my people. So why is Mario Italian? What is it? What is it about? What is it? What is it about Japanese game designers that made him think like, well, you got a plumber. What's the natural ethnicity for a plumber who fights mushroom people? Wasn't he Italian? Italian. The superintendant of, of the Nintendo of America. Like he was like, his character was created to basically, he was, he was like some guy that they knew. Oh, was he? Until they designed him that way. Oh, okay. Well, that, that is less magical than I had hoped it was. Yeah. But I mean, you know, it's a Japanese and the Italians deep rooted history all the way back to roughly 1945. Yeah. I try not to go too deep into that history. Constantly, Constantly, all of them think about this new Chris Pratt playing Mario situation. That's my question. When I had a real voice, I was like, get the shit out of here. If you're not being an offensive Italian stereotype, you're not my Mario. Yeah. Bob Hoskins played an incredible Mario. Yeah. It's like, you know, who's a great Mario? That cockney actor. Yeah. So we're back talking about Romania and kind of occasionally Italy. But yeah. So Chescu, when we kind of leave left off, he's, he's gotten himself into power. He's establishing his cult of personality. And he's, he's doing some, some terrible stuff like banning abortion. And he's starting to do some dumb stuff, like trying to turn Romania into the television making capital of Europe. But broadly speaking, things are going okay. And one of the thick reasons things are going okay is because he does not have enough money yet to realize all of his visions of turning the entire country into a giant factory. And in order to get that kind of money, Chescu knows he's going to need some loans. Now, the Soviet Union does not, one of the funny things about this is for all of the mismanagement the USSR was guilty of. They're totally right here where they're like, no, man, just, just keep growing food. Making TVs probably isn't going to work out for Romania. And it doesn't. So they're not going to give Romania the resources that Chescu thinks they need in order to become this manufacturing capital of Europe. But you know, who does have a lot of money and who's really willing to use it on stupid shit, the United States of America? Now, that's our thing. That is our thing. We will put a lot of money into some very dumb shit because we have infinity dollars. Now, the problem with this is that the United States is the heart, the beating heart of global capitalism. And Romania is in theory a Stalinist state, right? A state that's based on at least quasi-Stylnist policies. So the fact that Chescu decides to get in bed with the US seems like a bad, like, something that couldn't possibly work. It's actually going to be one of the most successful things that he does. But the first stage of his plot to get in bed with Lady Liberty comes courtesy of Lady Liberty's Pimp at the time, a fellow that you might have heard about, a friend of the pod, Richard Milhaus Nixon. Now, we love him. We love old tricky dick. Chescu actually is going to get along very well with old Dick Nixon. Now, 1967, which is when they meet, is kind of an awkward time for Richard Nixon, he had finished being Vice President quite a while ago. And he's sort of in the term that political writers would use at the time is that he's in like the wilderness right now, right? Where he's kind of, he doesn't have this, he doesn't have like a super prominent role, but he's trying to get back into politics, right? He's trying to, you know, he wants to become president. He's had a couple of scandals. He's in this kind of very messy place. And he's trying to, he knows that he wants to like kind of recapture some of his glory days in order to put himself back in the political limelights that he can run and win the Republican nod for president. Now, one of the biggest moments from his career previously to this had been this very highly publicized kitchen table debate that he'd had with Nikita Khrushchev. So Khrushchev comes to power after Stalin. There's kind of this falling of a little bit in the Cold War. Nixon has what most people would consider to be pretty unimpeachable anti-communist Cold War, your credentials. Oh, and referring to Richard Nixon as anything unimpeachable is also very... It is, it is very, and I, yeah, perhaps an ironic term to use for him. But he, so he meets up with Khrushchev and they have this like very famous debate. That is, it's one of these things that kind of turns him, makes him look like a statesman. And so as he's kind of in this awkward position, he's like, well, what if I do that again? So he gets in, he gets in a fucking plane, chatter's a flight, and he starts traveling through the USSR. He goes to Moscow. And he tries to set up another debate with Khrushchev. But the Soviets are like, well, that worked out for us, but now the Cold War is like getting gnarlier again. And we really, it doesn't benefit us at all to help Richard Nixon become the Republican president. She'll candidate. So no, we're not going to do this. And he kind of, kind of awkwardly moaps around Eastern Europe until he finds a communist leader who would be absolutely thrilled to be his buddy. And that communist leader is Nikki Chowchezko. Now, the first meeting between the two men is mainly a photo op for Nixon, but it helps to soften his image as this hardline cold warrior. And it makes him look more like a statesman, right? That's what Dick wants to look like. A serious politician is yeah. And the big, the big thing about that is obviously that he has built up a very good photo opportunity life. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. For all of the, all of the bumbling that that man has done throughout his entire career, I'm not giving up checkers and all this stuff like he went to China. Yeah. Yeah. And this is kind of the start of that, right? Because I mean, you could say Khrushchev was kind of the start of that. But it's interesting as much of like this anti-Soviet hardliner as he has a reputation for being a lot of his career gets made by hanging out with communist. So that's kind of cool. At least it's well, it's actually going to be disastrous for a lot of people. But it's, it's, we'll call it a mixed bag. So it works out really well though for Nixon. It makes him look like a statesman. And it's going to work out really well for Chuchachesky because it's going to give him a connection to the man who's about to be the president of the United States. And Richard Nixon, you wouldn't call him a great friend, but he does remember when people are useful to him, right? There's a, I don't know, loyalty is the wrong word, but he is going to have like a soft spot for Chuchachesky after this. And he's going to help out the dictator of Romania in whatever way that he can. Now, this does a couple of things for Chuchachesky besides just sort of making him look like, oh, maybe this is, maybe this, this guy's actually not as much of a hardline communist as we've been led to believe. The first thing it does outside of that is it, it's, it's him throwing a middle finger at Moscow, right? The Soviets don't want him to do this. And one of the other things that's happening in this period, this is when you have that big sinusoviet split. So there's literally like soldiers killing each other Chinese and and and Soviet soldiers killing each other on like the borders of both countries, right? This is a really nasty time and this conflict is escalating. And the Soviet Union basically asks Chuchachesky to stand with them against the people's Republic of China. And he's like, no, I'm not going to do that. You know, I'm not going to actually take a side in the sinusoviet split and the way that you want me to. So by doing that and by having Nixon over, he's kind of provided a bridge for the Americans where they're like, well, we actually would really like to be able to communicate and talk and settle things directly with China. And we've had to do that kind of through the Soviet Union prior to this. And now there's this guy, Chuchachesky, who the Chinese like Mao likes Chuchachesky because Chuchachesky wouldn't throw down against him with the USSR. And he's already had Nixon over. So maybe we can work with this guy. Maybe this guy is going to be our buddy and help us like smooth out some shit. So this is a, you know, this is a bold move. It's risky, but you have to say this is actually he's going to do a lot of stupid things. Most of the things Chuchachesky does are very dumb. This is good foreign policy. He's actually playing very intelligently all these kind of powers off each other for his own benefit. As we refer to it as it's intrigue. Yeah, it's increased surprisingly adept at intrigue. Yeah. And it's one of those things if he had never been running the country, if he'd just been like Romania's head of foreign policy or something, he might have actually been pretty good at his job. The problem is that no one actually is ever good at the job that he has, which is like guy and charge of an entire country down to the lives of individual people in it. But he's pretty good at the foreign policy shit. And he's going to double down on this foreign policy success in August of 1968 when events in Czechoslovakia provide him with a golden opportunity. So the Czechs elect a new first secretary and Czechoslovakia is a communist state. They elect a new first secretary of their party, a guy named Alexander Dubczyk. And Dubczyk is a communist, but he is a reformer, right? And he's very popular in the West because while he's still a communist, he's this kind of communist who's got more democratic attitudes about how things ought to work. And he starts pushing a raft of reforms that are much more extensive than the ones Czechoslovakia offered his own people. Most crucially, he's like, maybe we'll have elections again. And hey, maybe we'll even let parties run that aren't communist parties. Now, the Soviet Union, who is just sent tanks, not all that long ago into Hungary over, you know, an uprising, they're not going to like this. This is not acceptable to them. And Moscow responds by invading Czechoslovakia and arresting Dubczyk. The force they send is made up of the five central Warsaw Pact nations. The two countries that do not participate in this invasion are Romania and Yugoslavia because they're seen as unreliable. And they are, in fact, unreliable for the city. I love that. I love that we're in like obviously Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. And we're like, oh man, these things don't even exist anymore. It's so funny. It's like we're talking about those. Yes, but yeah, I mean, we are, you got Romania still, you know, you got to check Republic. But yeah, it is, it is we are talking about like these ghostly nations. It's interesting too, because like if you go around, if you travel through a lot of Eastern Europe, especially if you travel through like the Balkans, it's obviously it's not uniform. But you will run into a lot of people, particularly older people who are like, who miss when Tito was around and who missed the days of Yugoslavia, which is not hard to see why when you think about how ugly things got as soon as Yugoslavia broke apart. And you can find people particularly in Russia who miss the USSR. You do not run into a lot of Romanians who miss Chowczesky. No, no, no, no, no, that's not as common, not nearly as good, not to say that obviously I'm not trying to like whitewash either the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia, but you you you do run into people who are like, ah, you know, for a lot of reasons, there were there were things that I preferred back then, that does not tend to happen nearly so often with Chowczesky and Romania. But what he is pretty good at is this right here. So the Soviets invade Czechoslovakia, they arrest this guy Dubček and they, you know, put an end to this whole we're going to try opening shit up a little bit here. And Nikolai is in a dangerous position. He does not have Soviet soldiers in his country, but obviously Romania is not going to win a war with the Soviet Union, right? The USSR wants to come in and force him out. They can do it. And he's just seen they're willing to do that to the Czechs. Um, so he's not going to back down over this though. Um, he calculates kind of accurately that the USSR, they've just blown a lot of political capital and taken a risk themselves in occupying Czechoslovakia. They're not going to want to fuck with Romania right now, right? Because they're kind of dealing with the shit storm already. So while they're occupying the country, he delivers a speech on August 21st, 1968 in front of 100,000 people and Republic Square in Bucharest. And he's called the balcony speech. He's standing on this balcony of this, um, like government building and he addresses this crowd and he tells them that the Romanian Communist Party is expressing full solidarity with the Czech people. He calls Soviet actions a danger to the piece of Europe and he condemns them for forcing their version of socialism on another socialist state. One of the things he's like is that like as socialist states, we should have the freedom to exist whatever way we want and to like experiment with policies and the Soviet Union shouldn't be cracking down on that stuff, which is objectively good, right? Like what he he's actually taking this is a principled stance and it's a risky one for him now he's not taking it because he's morally opposed to what the USSR is doing so much as he's taking it because this is going to reinforce his popularity with the Americans and the West, right? And it is outraged. It is popular. You have to say it's very popular in Romania. This is seen as like the high point of his regime and it gives a lot of people reason to be like, oh, you know, this guy actually, you know, maybe maybe we've got to be able to do this. Maybe maybe we we lucked out in terms of, you know, having this dude in charge of the country. He's willing to stand up to the Soviets, you know, he's taking taking this pro stance in favor of liberty from the from the USSR. Maybe maybe we're doing all right. He's going to put it out there. No notes. Yeah, yeah, no notes on the specific thing. Yeah. And with that, we can put a lid on him. That's it. That's it. Yeah, that's the end of it. Go rides off into the sunset, like code check. So he's he's done this thing and these kind of two moves. He's made this unique place for himself in the world of diplomacy. And shortly after there's sort of right around this time, Nixon wins election. Yeah, 68, Nixon wins election. And he takes office. And so now his buddy Richard is running the United States. And he's just given himself a really good reason to be trusted by the West. So he starts saying, hey, I would like to have most favored nation trading status, right, with the US, which is a big deal economically. There's a whole bunch of benefits to that. And no communist country had ever been offered that. And the US is like, well, fuck, why shouldn't we do this? Right. This guy actually seems like he's, you know, and obviously we don't care that he's he's a dictator who's purged his enemies. He's made abortion illegal. He's doing all of these things that are like fucked up in his own country. But obviously we've never given a shit about that. We care about is that he's he's benefiting US foreign policy right now. So we're going to stand up and start offering him some shit. And one of the things that means is that like we do Romania does eventually get most favored nation trading status. But the other thing it means is that tricky dick is is going to start talking to American business leaders and American banks and being like, yeah, you can trust Chow Chescu, you know, invest in his country. Give him some loans. It's going to work out very well. He's a trustworthy man. Yeah, as he is as he is pounding his entire body weight in vodka on a daily basis and threatening Henry Kissinger. He is letting people. Yeah, push her money in Romania. It's going to work out really well long term. Good, goodbye. Who among us would not threaten Henry Kissinger given the opportunity. Yeah. I mean, we probably shouldn't go much further down that road because I think he still has a secret service detail. So this is also very popular among the Romanian people and Kadelen Gruja, who's a Romanian journalist, describes people's feelings this way. Romanians lived better and they were proud of their president frustrated by history. They saw in Chow Chescu one of their own who was on equal foot standing with the world's bigger players when he condemned the military intervention Czechoslovakia Romanian enthusiasm was spontaneous. This act of defiance against Moscow brought him the respect of the entire world. And Sylvie Bruchen, another Romanian writer, adds this. Chow Chescu was a tyrant when it came to politics, an economic disaster. But in his foreign policy, he had a spark of genius. Although uneducated, he was smart, a wily, peasant sort of smart. And it is the kind of one thing that's interesting is Chow Chescu is this little guy. He doesn't have, he never has anyone backing him up earlier in his career. He's entirely on his own. And so he's really good at kind of running in between the feet of these more powerful figures in Romanian politics. And that's what he's doing. You can see why his background makes him good at this specific job because Romania is in this really awkward position geographically and it's in this awkward political position between China and the USSR and the US. And he is very good at, he's as good at this as he was good at navigating a similar situation in the Communist Party. What do you do when you're a rock between three hard places? Like, like, how do you like, like, when you're like, yeah, when you're a tomato between three rocks props to him for doing, I guess, as far as foreign policy is concerned, as good as you can do in this situation. From a foreign policy standpoint, he's kind of your best case scenario as a leader in Romania at this point now from an everything else standpoint, that's what I'm about to talk about. Not the optimal case scenario. Unfortunately, it is not enough to be good at foreign policy. And for his first half decade and so in power, he seems to be okay at some of the other stuff we've just talked he does some ugly shit, but like the Communist Party under him in the first five or so years in power also does the sort of shit communists are supposed to do. They put a huge amount of money into this building program to ensure everyone in the country has a private hat residence, which is nice and a good policy for keeping people happy, right? He also invest funds and education. And again, it's promoting books that, you know, he supports, including these like propaganda books about Dracula and shit, but it's still like better than I guess doing nothing at all. And then in 1971, Xiaoqescu goes on tour and as part of his plan to irritate the USSR, he visits China, North Korea, North Vietnam and Mongolia. Now, China's going to be the big visit, right? Because he has just kind of backed or at least refused to like side with the USSR against China. And Mao is very grateful for this. So he gets this huge welcoming, these massive crowds and marches, you know, China's and then he played for three hours straight. Yeah, yeah, he does all all all of the big hits. He's doing, um, I don't know, uh, I don't know where to take this joke, Jeff, but Mao shows him a very good time. And obviously China, massive powerful country. So coming from Romania, Mao is able to show off these huge facts. The, the massive crowds of soldiers and workers marching in unison. And he in Elena, Xiaoqescu, in Elena, look at all this and they start to get really jealous because they're like, well, shit, this is like a first class world power. And, you know, we're us. And I would really like it if we could be a little bit more like Mao. Um, one of the things that he in Elena do is they go to see this play put on by Mao's fourth wife, Jean Quing. And they see for the first time what this like real cult of personality looks like because Mao's fourth wife and Mao both have very effective cults of personality, massive and expansive, huge numbers of people of all these books about them and paintings and portraits everywhere. Um, he, I made the joke the three hour, he performed for three hours talking about being on tour. Yeah, I mean, it's kind of, it's actually kind of the opposite of that because Xiaoqescu is the and Elena, like Nikola and Elena are the audience. And Mao is putting on a show for all of them, right? He's got these huge crowds of soldiers and of workers like marching in unison. He's got all of these like they go sheet see these beautiful elaborate plays. He takes them to see these factories. And Nikolai is just first off, he's blown away by all of this, but he's also he's kind of like jealous, right? Because China is on its way to become in kind of this first class world power and Romania is a pretty small country by comparison. So he's, he falls in love both with this idea of power that Mao is able to show, but also he becomes aware of this huge cult of personality around Mao and around Mao's fourth wife where they've got all of these books about them, all of these plays that are both like dedicated to them and dedicated to like kind of referencing them and they've got, you know, portraits up everywhere. And he sees number one, wow, this is really what you can do when you get off your ass and you put together a first class cult of personality. But the other thing he sees is that like, well, shit, Romania could maybe be the kind of power that China is if only I exercised power the same way that Mao did, right? Because Mao is a very centralized ruler. He's got total pretty total control. At least he is, he is to him. Yeah, we've heard of Mao, right? Every time you say cult of personality, I immediately want to break into the living color riff. Oh, see, I was going to turn it in and out. I was thinking of, isn't that a, in that a, what is it? Duranda Ransong? Living color. Wait, the TV show. That's in David Allen Greer. Oh, excellent. I saw David L. was the band fronted by Corey Glover. And in living color was the comedy show fronted by Kenan, every wayans. And David Allen Greer. David Allen Greer was there. Yeah, those really awayans joint. It was. And, and, and didn't know how Jim Carey broke out too. Jim Carey did that until up until the end, really. I mean, he stuck around. There you go. Jim Carey, relevant because he is obviously the chairman Mao of comedy. You could say that, you know, there's a lot of similarities between the cultural revolution and that year that we got Ace Ventura and the mask. And there was at least one other Jim Carey movie that he was at 95 or something like that. So, he spent her was 1994, I believe. And then the mask was 1995. I think you had dumb and dumb around somewhere in there too. Much like Mao declaring war on the Sparrows. I don't know. Well, I mean, think about it. There's a lot of similarities between. When, when, when he was showing up, he was saying, let me show you something. And that's a very fire marshal bill line right there. So, it all does tie together. A lot of, a lot of similarities between the two men. But you know who won't make inappropriate references to tragedies from Jim Carey's life. I'm going to guess that it's these amazing sponsors that we have coming up. 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Elegibility in terms at slash football terms. Have you ever just thought to yourself, why me? Why is life so unfair? What do other people see? When they watch me walk by, when I catch my reflection, people run. Like I have a contagious infection. But it's not my mental health. I know that can be crushing. I'm talking about plaque psoriasis. But you didn't see that coming. I'm sick of the judgment. The discomfort in itching. VTAMICREME is the one daily steroid-free treatment I know I've been missing. VTAMICTO-PINNER OFF-CREME 1% is a prescription-topical treatment for adults with plaque psoriasis. Do not use if you're allergic to VTAMICREME. Most common side effects of VTAMICREME include red-raised bumps around the hair pores, pain or swelling in the nose and throat, skin rash or irritation, including itching and redness, peeling, burning or stinging, headache, itching and flu. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take and if you're pregnant or planned to be. Ask your doctor if VTAMICREME is right for you. You deserve more from your topical. To learn more, visit The virus that causes shingles is sleeping in 99% of people over 50. It's lying dormant, waiting and it could reactivate at any time. And while not everyone at risk will develop shingles, it strikes as a painful blistering rash that could last for weeks. Think you're not at risk for shingles? It's time to wake up because shingles could wake up in you. If you're over 50, talk to your doctor, war pharmacist about shingles prevention. Ah, we're back. I'm feeling good. I'm feeling like maybe watching the mask tonight. That seems like one of the Jim Carrey movies that didn't have anything problematic in it, right? It's the mask is pretty good. He also saved him a lot of money in CGI by being able to do a lot of that stuff. Yeah. Interestingly enough, that is one of four movies that were produced by Dark Horse Comics in 1995-ish. So you had a two-year span where we had four movies. You had the mask, you had Tank Girl, you had Time Cop and Barbed Wire. I didn't realize that was a... Man, the Tank Girl movie. Also pretty good. It's definitely... It's interesting. Give us a name. Better than... Yeah. I'm going to say Tank Girl. Better than the mask. And now a better dictator than Chow Chescu. But now he's jealous, right? He's jealous at seeing this Jim Carrey-like power. More like a mouth. More like a mouth. Wow. Good work, Jeff. Thank you. Professional comedians. So he decides that like the only thing holding Romania back from being China is that there's still all this red tape, right? It takes too long to do things. There's too many other people who aren't Nikolai Chow Chescu in power. If I can just get it. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because the communism, right? Because it's red. Yeah. Yeah. Well, obviously there's a lot of reasons why Romania was never going to be the kind of power China is, including look at the two of the monomap. Just look at the size of both countries. Yeah. We're not saying like, I wouldn't show that for all of the tea in Romania. Yeah, exactly. The other reason is that Mao, a lot of problems with Chairman Mao, pretty canny fellow and Nikolai Chow Chescu has his kinds of cany-ness, but they are more limited than Mao. So he is not going to be good at this, but I'm going to read a quote from Nikolai's Holman describing what happens next. To achieve his aims, the population would have to be subjected to his control, most easily achieved if they were contained in large urban centers. The economic consequences of such a policy was an all-out drive to create a heavy industrial base in Romania and a determination to make Romania self-sufficient through the elimination of its foreign debt. A policy of systemization was also proposed in which the rural population was to be moved to larger urban centers. But this was later abandoned. Initially, the development strategy was very successful as vast pools of underutilized labor and agriculture was mobilized for industry with the proportion of the non-agricultural labor force increasing from 30.3%. In 1956, to 63.5% in 1977. However, this growth was not sustainable, being based on structural shifts, and soon the labor force was faced with inadequate employment and income opportunities, with reduced supply of food and other consumer goods. However, Chescu's ideological inflexibility allowed for no changes in his policy, and the regime resorted to coercion to achieve the production targets which enterprise managers were then forced to fabricate. The effects of this flawed system soon became apparent as the benefits from the labor force shift were reduced. Economic growth fell from 10% in the early 1970s to 3% in 1980, with food and other consumer goods becoming very short in supply. The wrong is? So he's ladies and gentlemen. Yeah, he basically is like, everybody get out of the country, everyone has to move to the city so that you can work in these factories, and we're just going to start this slow process of bulldozing every single rural community in Romania. Yeah, it's like, did he think you could build food? Yeah, I mean, he doesn't want to make food. Food is not sexy, right? Food is a very reasonable thing to want to have, and actually not a bad thing to base your economy around making, because people are always going to need food. But you're never going to be a world power, just making a decent amount of food as like a country the size of Romania, right? You become a world power by industrializing, so you can have this massive industrial base, so you can have a big military, so you can have all of these things that he sees the USSR and the Soviets and the Americans having. And so this is going to be a fucking, this is kind of Romania's version of the Great Leap Forward, and like the Great Leap Forward, it does not work very well. And he might have known that if he'd actually gotten an accurate look at what was going on in China. Yeah, he asked his wife to do that, and she was like, and she, and she checked in with Mao's wife and said, everything's good. It's going great. The backyard furnaces worked wonderfully. Yeah. We've been leaping forward greatly. Yeah, and this is part of the problem is that like his attitude about what works in Mao's China comes from Mao, and you may recognize Chairman Mao, not the most reliable source on Chairman Mao. Yeah. So Nikki's friendship with Nixon, who is also buddies with Mao, they all get along. Like legitimately people will say Nixon and Chow Chescu were friendly with each other. Like they enjoyed one another's company. So that's sweet Jeff. It's always nice to hear about friends. You know, it's funny when you see that people are friends with other people that you know, and you're like, oh, yeah, no, you guys were friends. Oh, you like Mao? I know Mao. Oh my God. I was in a league club with Mao. Yeah. Great guy. So Nikolai's friendship with Nixon had earned Romania, or had earned Romania and invite to the World Bank and the IMF. And then again, the only communist nation at this point, at least, who gets invited to the World Bank and the IMF. The US considering Nikki a good communist. And this is the term that people in Nixon's White House will say for her. And eventually I think in Reagan's White House too, people are calling him. He's the good communist. He's the nice one. They encourage banks to lend money to Romania. And so Nikki uses all of this cash he's getting from the West to start building these massive, absolutely tight, tannic factories. Much larger than they need to be and much larger than there's any kind of demand for. Yeah. Yeah. This is the field of dreams of industrializing Soviet block. If you build it, everyone will want to Romanian television. But there are problems with this. One of them is that Romanian steel because they're also trying to make cars and shit. Romanian steel is of terrible quality, right? This is, I'm not a metallurgist, but certain areas make good steel and certain areas do not make good steel unless you know how to like move impurities and shit. Yeah. The Iberian Peninsula and Pittsburgh. Yeah. And really speaking, those are the two main spots are like spill and Pittsburgh. And I'm not again, not a metallurgist, but perhaps Romania would have done a better job of removing impurities from their steel if they'd had chemists who weren't Elena Chachezky. It might have helped. There's also massive corruption and corner cutting, which means none of their products are actually very safe to use. Romanian televisions were known to be as likely to burn your house down as let you watch three's company. And so once they start producing this stuff, European countries get a look at these things and are like, well, these will kill people. You can't put these in houses. It's a very Soviet idea. I'm like, yes, all. But somehow this burned down is fine. But let me tell you what Dracula would say. Dracula would say sometimes you get impaled. Sometimes impaled gets you. You know? So just take it from nationally rehabilitated hero. Dracula. The impaled. That's a fun time and nickname to have for somebody that you're trying to rehab. I mean, it's funny. He is objectively a better person than a lot of the American folk heroes. I was raised to hear about like Kit Carson, where it's like, well, at least Dracula was usually doing it in self-defense. I don't know. You know what? I'll say it right now. Dracula, better person than Kit Carson. That's my take today. That's my take today. That's my take today. Yeah. Yeah. And genocide fighter. Oh, okay. So now we're just going to call every American. We see that does a slight genocide, a genocide. Yeah. A light, a light genocide. So a damn better, if you will. Yeah. He was a genocide, a theoretician. So matters were made worse by the fact that all of this industrial production used up more fuel than even. And again, Romania, like the Nazis are very, like, like part of why they wanted Romania on their side is that like Romania has a shitload of oil, right? That's why the Germans wanted to conquer Romania, like during World War One is Romania has a shitload of oil. One of the things that Romania could be with other than a bread basket is a massive oil producing nation, which again, everything is set up for Romania to have been doing quite well in this period. They could be the, the Dubai. Yeah. Yeah. And Chesku could have made, made very well for himself, but because he wants to industrialize, this takes a shitload of fuel. And so Romania, one of the most oil rich nations on earth becomes a net importer of petroleum. Like they are having to buy. Guys, what are you doing? They are buying oil from Iran because he's using up all of their fuel trying to make fucking televisions. Yeah, it's like if the Saudi king embarked on a building program that forced them to buy oil from Texas, where it's like, what the fuck are you doing here in what world you shouldn't need to do this? Yeah. This should have been a sign that something was a rye. You had no idea. And as the building program churned ever onwards, Romania's debts stacked up. Chesku cut rations over and over again and caps were put on how warm buildings could be during the winter. It was like if it was above 16 degrees Fahrenheit, I think you had to, I think, yeah, that was the equivalent. You weren't allowed to use heating at all, which is like, that's quite cold. That's a below freezing. Yeah. And it becomes increasingly common for the old and sick to freeze to death in winter. Again, in a country with some of the largest oil reserves in Europe, should not have been a problem they were dealing with. Now, this was of course very stressful for Nicky and he opted to blow off steam and one of the most time-honored traditions of European rulers, shooting hundreds and hundreds of animals. Now, Romania is a country with a long sporting tradition. And as a result, brown bears had been prized hunts of the Romanian nobility for, I mean, presumably for thousands of years. And as a result, the whole country of Romania had less than 900 brown bears when the monarchy fell, right? By the time Chesku took power, socialist policies had rehabilitated the bear count. Because again, there's not any nobles hunting bears at this period of time for sport. Communists are pretty good about shutting, yeah, when they come to Sir Graydatt, making sure that doesn't happen for a little while. So the early years of communism are very good for Romania's bear population. It goes from about 800, 900 prior to communists taking over to about 2500 by kind of the, like for 10 years or so of Nicky's... And then she, so that's good. Bears are fucking. Those bears are fucking, nobody's killing them. So... Does the bear fucking the woods? In Romania they did for a while. And then Chesku found out that it's kind of fun to shoot things. So one of the things he does when he gets into hunting, if you're a dictator and you take up a hobby, you can get really into that hobby. So he takes personal possession of all of the best hunting land in Romania. And so the game wardens who are watching these areas realize that like if I want to keep my job, anytime the boss comes by, I need to make sure he gets to shoot something, right? Which you may recognize is not really hunting, but we're about to talk about that. I'm going to quote him in the Atlantic. Most hunting isn't. Yeah. This is less hunting than most bad hunting. This is like, like the guys who pay a half a million dollars to shoot an elephant in the head from a truck would look at what Chesku is about to do and be like, well, that's a little gross. Yeah. So I'm going to quote from the Atlantic here. One district competed against another for his visits, offering big bears and rack heavy stags as easy targets for his expensive imported rifles. For typical hunt, Chesku would fly in by helicopter landing on a pad cleared within the hunting area. From there, he'd be taken by rough terrain vehicle in earlier years he favored, favored jeeps, later a Russian made the gas, and later still a rattled trap Romanian imitation, the ARO. Along forest roads to a point very near the spot where hungry bears are running red deer were expected to appear. He would walk the short distance to a strategically placed high seat, a tight little draw that served as a game corridor, for example, or along a stream where the gurgling water would cover noises made by a hunter. Usually, he was accompanied by at least one security officer who would carry his weapons and ammunition, and a forestry official from the district office. Many other forest department employees would have been involved in preparing for his visit, but they were kept at a distance during the actual hunt. In the high seat, Chesku had little patience for waiting and watching. His attention span, according to a witness who had worked with him often, was five minutes. The report of his short attention span comes from Vaseel Kresan, a forestry official who later published a memoir in German, the title of which translates as Chesku Hunter or Butcher. The gist of the book is that Kresan's boss was indeed a Butcher and not a true hunter. For instance, Chesku would continue firing wildly at an animal until it collapsed or ran away. If he wounded a stag, he'd command Kresan and the other attendants to find it and bring him the trophy. If he missed all together, they would tell him the stag was wounded and that they'd find it, and then that stag or a similar one would be killed and delivered. Sometimes more stags were found than where Shat Kresan wrote. Once after a hunt, a party secretary called him the next day and told him that all six stags were found. The hell, Chesku said, how can you find six stags if I only shot four? I mean, they were like, look, man, you're just good. Yeah, I know you want from us. You're just talented. You're John Wicked it. You folded the bullet through one and into another. One of the things that's funny about this, so there's a way that you can, like, if you're the kind of people who measure trophies and hunting trophies and stuff, there's like different categories, right? And it was known for a while, like, if you go to museums in Romania that have animals stuff, like, that are museums of natural wildlife in Romania that have stuffed animals, like most of them even to this day are from Chesku. And he had this, he was noted during the time when he was hunting for he had like a weird number of incredibly high quality trophies, particularly for bears. And there were a lot of questions about like, how are there so many bears of that size in Romania? Like, there shouldn't be that many trophies that big. And it came out after his fall that what, what his, like, the people who were responsible for keeping him happy were doing is they were stretching the hides in a bunch of fucked up ways in order to make it look like the bears were much bigger than that. Oh, yeah. Yeah. They were like cheating to make him feel like he'd shot a bigger bear than he had. It's like those dudes that that were like filling fish with with weights. Yeah. Yeah. It's exactly like that. But he's not even competing against anybody. They're just trying to make him feel like a big man. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. So it was not uncommon for him to shoot more game than just for I will say that on one day and 1974 he shot 22 bears. And over the course of his reign, he's known to have killed at least 400 of the animals. He also blew off steam in the gigantic, almost impossibly large mansion he had constructed for himself using some of those same foreign loan dollars that he'd used to make giant factories with. I know this is the name of the show, but this guy's kind of a dick. He is a little bit, we are getting well into the bastard tree now. So when he had taken power, Nicky had actually refused to live in the mansion occupied by his predecessor. Because he was like, yeah, I want to live in a people's house. I'm going to live in a humble house when I go out and shoot 22 bears in a day. But then he visits Mal and he comes back and he's like, actually, I think I want to palace. So he builds one for himself using the people's money that has 80 rooms, a Jacuzzi and a movie theater where he can watch Kojak. That sounds awesome. It does sound awesome. Look, it's it's it's objectively sweet to have your own private Kojak theater. But that's not a thing that I would be like, this is a problem. I'd be like, this is this guy gets it. Although perhaps not very communist. Yeah. But yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, what is communist? I mean, I'm at a loss because there's so much stuff that we've talked about that is communist. The products and services that support this podcast, all proud members of the Romanian Communist Party. What's up, everyone? Sean Brace from Brace for Winnings. The podcast presented by Draft King Sportsbook. And we are now down to the final two teams left in the NFL who will win Super Bowl 57 in Arizona. Well, we have you covered on the latest edition of brace for winnings a little hint after last week's beat down to the 49ers. Exactly what we predicted. A lot of folks are second guessing how good the Philadelphia Eagles really are. And I would caution you on that approach. Sure, the Eagles haven't seen the quarterback like patch my homes, but my homes and the chiefs haven't seen a pass rush like the Philadelphia Eagles have either. The numbers are sharp, but there are still plenty of winning plays that we go over on this week's episode of brace for winnings. Want to play along with me? Bet with brace and let's cash in this week at Draft King Sportsbook. Use promo code Winnings and let's end the season with another green check mark this time for all the money. Brace for winnings is available every Thursday. Wherever you get your podcast at. Have you ever just thought to yourself? Why me? Why is life so unfair? What do other people see? When they watch me walk by when I catch my reflection, people run. But I have a contagious infection, but it's not my mental health. I know that can be crushing. I'm talking about plaque psoriasis, but you didn't see that coming. I'm sick of the judgment. The discomfort in itching. The Tamacream is the one daily steroid free treatment I know I've been missing. VTamacopenerov cream 1% is a prescription topical treatment for adults with plaque psoriasis. Do not use a few allergic to the Tamacream. The most common side effects of the Tamacream include red-raised bumps around the hair pores, swelling in the nose and throat, skin rash or irritation, including itching and redness, peeling, burning or stinging, headache, itching and flu. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take and if you are pregnant or planned to be. Ask your doctor if VTamacream is right for you. You deserve more from your topical. To learn more, visit The virus that causes shingles is sleeping in 99% of people over 50. It's lying dormant, waiting, and it could reactivate at any time. And while not everyone at risk will develop shingles, it strikes as a painful blistering rash that could last for weeks. Think you're not at risk for shingles? It's time to wake up because shingles could wake up in you. If you're over 50, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about shingles prevention. Ahhhhhhh! We're back! We're feeling good. I'm feeling good. I'm feeling Jeff. I'm feeling great. You feeling great? Excellent. I feel like I'm just hunting. I feel like I'm just hunting. Thank you, Sophie. Have you figured hunting 22 bears? Yeah. Why don't Sophie? Why don't you and I go out? We'll shoot 22 bears. We'll come back. We'll have us a good time. I'll pass. You don't want to shoot 22 bears? You don't even want to run Romania. Wow. I'm good. You're never going to wind up in charge of Romania with that attitude. 22 bears is a little bit much for my taste. What about an even baker's dozen? Ahhhhhhh! No. Half a chow chess goo where the bears have to be. No. It's not going to be bad. I'm saying dreamers dream. Yeah. Exactly. Dare to dream. Follow your, follow your family. But if you feel like doing that all life for you in court. Thank you, Sophie. You're welcome. Help me out in my poaching trial ever. And hey, if you've got any bears that you need shot, I'll helicopter in. I've got about a five minute attention span like Nicky, but that ought to be enough. Allegedly. Yeah. You're fine. You're fine. Yeah. It'll be good. It'll be good. I'll just keep shooting until I hit something. Much like chow chess goo. Now, so chow chess goo builds himself this mansion. But he realized that he decides pretty quickly. It's nice having a mansion certainly, but that's also not nearly enough for a guy with my kind of tastes. And so there's this, in 1977, there's this devastating earthquake in the capital in Bucharest. And most people would say devastating earthquake, that's a tragedy. But chow chess goo says devastating earthquake. Well, shit, that got rid of a lot of buildings that weren't doing anything but taking up space I could have replaced with a balance. Yeah. We're some tragedy. Yeah. See opportunity. That's right. And you know, you might say he's a dreamer, Jeff, but he's certainly not the only one because nobody is allowed to disagree with his dreams. Are you proud of yourself? Thank you. I'm always proud of myself. Cool. As long as you're proud because I'm not proud of him. Thank you. Thank you, Jeff. Not thank you, Sophie. And thank you, chow chess goo, because the thing he's about to do next is he's about to start construction about the start construction of a parliamentary palace for Romania. Now I thought you were going to say a death star for some reason. I don't know why I thought that. It is a little bit of a death star undergone construction of a new death star. It is going to be a death star for the Romanian economy because the palace they are building. Again, Romania, lovely country, a lot of great resources, not a massive country, right? 10 to 20 million people, you know, kind of over the course of his reign. It gets up to about 20 million people. So not like tiny, but not a massive country. And chow chess goo decides we need one of the largest buildings ever constructed by human hands in order to act as the center for our government. Let's forget tourism dollars. Yeah. Well, that's not legal. That's the biggest ball of yarn of Romania. That's what you should have done. He should have made the world's biggest ball of yarn and then lived inside of it. He is not going to do that. Sophie, would you Google Chuchescu stairs so you can pull up some of these pictures pictures for, for Jeff while I tell this story. So today, the parliamentary palace that Chuchescu had built is the third largest building on the planet by volume. It comes in right after the Aztec pyramid of Teo Tehuacan and the Cape Canaveral rocket assembly hanger. It uses 35,000 tons of crystal and 1 million cubic meters of marble. The carpet of the main hall weighed on its own 1.5 tons. When you have a 3,000 pound carpet, that's a big building. Now, the earthquake had not destroyed enough of the, enough of the city to make room for this palace. So Chuchescu ordered the rest of the city center bulldozed. He flattened a hill. Yeah, like you do. We got to get rid of the rest of this capital city so we can build a capital for our city. I mean, if you compare to that, that has very, very like the forbidden city energy. Yeah. And he is, he sees what happens to the government that makes a forbidden city. And he decides, I want that for myself. Yeah, why not me? Yeah, why not me too. He changes the course of a river using dams and he forces, he's going to evict 40,000 people from their homes in order to build this thing. Every building and it not only does he bulldoze the center of town in order to make this fucking thing. So yeah, every surrounding building for four square miles is rebuilt. So not only does he demolish a bunch of buildings in the center of town in order to make this thing, but he demolishes and rebuilds every building four miles within four miles of it so that it will match the style of the building. It's pretty, pretty impressive. Yeah, it is quite a building. You're looking at those photos now. Yeah, like I'm seeing them, you know, Sophie did bring them up. We're looking at these things and like, the man's a hell of a building. Well, the man forced a large number of other people to make an impressive building. It looks like Scientology, just a little bit. Scientology, just. Yeah, so that's pretty cool. He calls it the people's palace. Like the rock. Yeah, and in order to make the people's palace, he has to demolish multiple hospitals and as well as two dozen historic churches and synagogues. They do say nothing for him. No, no, he's healed demolish a lot more than that before. Synodogs. I'm in. Yeah. Um, he also like, while this is going on, there's this kind of like covert plan within Citizens of Bucharest where they figure out how to lift up historic churches and put them on wheels and like drive them away from where Chow Chesky wants to destroy them. And so they wind up like hiding. There's all these. There's these. There's I think like three of them. These old orthodox churches that are like in the middle of these gigantic warrants of massive apartment buildings because they had to hide them from him. He didn't want to see them. So they had to like stick them in court yards and stuff where nobody could see them so that they wouldn't be destroyed by Chesky. It's genuinely unhinged. Yeah. It's pretty, it's pretty cool stuff. Yeah. That's like Yakiti Saks playing while they're moving it. Now I want to quote now from an article in CNN travel that interviewed Irene, a parliamentary aid who works in the building today or at least did when that article was written well past Chow Chesky's period. Quote, construction evolved 700 architects and 20,000 building workers doing three shifts a day plus 5,000 army personnel, 1.5 million factory workers and an army of so-called volunteers. You didn't always get to volunteer. The palace's Union Hall features two large spiral staircases that descend to the main entrance to allow Chesky and his wife Elena to make grand synchronized entrances. He was short and touchy about his heights as Irene. So he had the staircases rebuilt twice to match his step. All right. I'm going to say that that's not a good investment of money. No, no, no, you got to make you got to make it sound right. Right. You got to make it look like you're a taller man. So you have to change the staircases repeatedly. And just spend that money on lifts if that's the case. Or yeah, bigger shoes. Irene claps her hands, the sound travels crisply. Every chamber has a perfect echo because when Chesky wanted something, he clapped and he wanted everyone to know he'd clapped. Oh, yeah, that was very big and muggle architecture. Actually, they used to do that a lot in palaces. They would have those reflective, the refractive. Yeah, whatever the, I forget what the building process is where you'd clap in one spot and it would travel all the way to a central location. Yeah, there's actually this. It's really actually pretty amazing what people can do with stuff. There's this like with with the way sound travels around objects. There's this art project by the Wharf in San Francisco where it's these two big metal chairs that are like, I don't know, 30, 40 feet apart. And you can sit in one and like whisper and the person in the other chair will hear you clearly just because of like the way the sound waves travel. It's fucking wild. Some of the stuff that that you can do with that shit. But, yeah, as impressive as aspects of this building are it is not worth the money. And in fact, is kind of like a massive disaster from every practical standpoint. And today in Romania, the people's palace is still 70% empty, right? They're still using this thing because like, well, it's kind of you have to at this point. But like they've never, it's never even been close. They never needed anything nearly this big like a building a third of the size would have been perfectly adequate for their needs well into the future. But you know, Chowskew wanted to look fancy now, fancy looking he is he is and another person who liked looking fancy was a Lena Chowskew. She had developed very expensive tastes over the period of their time and power for high-faction and luxury goods. And Chowskew. It ain't cheap covering that ass. No, no, no, you need a lot of a lot of nice fabric. And so Chowskew obviously regular Romanians are not allowed to travel unless they're involved in the security services. And they're certainly not allowed to go buying capitalist goods unless they're paying bribes and shit. But Chowskew's family, well, they're able to travel. They're able to go shopping, you know, wherever they want. We're going to go to the US. We're going to go to Paris. We're going to buy all the nice luxury goods we can. Now the problem with that is that it takes cash to do that. And getting cash is going to, because again, this is a communist state, they have to get a little creative about where they find cash for these kind of full-run shops. And so Chowskew decides that the best way to kind of ring water from the stone that Romania had become and Romania had become under him was to ransom off those the country's Jewish population for cash. That's always going to pay for these shopping trips. He's going to ransom off Romania's juice. That's somehow that's so much somehow worse. Like that's it is pretty bad. I don't think somehow we need to say. Yeah. Well, I mean other than like straight out extermination like yes. Well, and that's I mean strange. It does involve obviously he's not killing anybody here. But it is this is intimately tied to genocide because you know World War two ends and an awful lot of Jews in Romania are like, well, Antonescu killed like half of us. Maybe this isn't a safe place to stay. And you know, it's it's it is perhaps time to go. But obviously the people who are in charge, the new leadership of Romania are not going to do that, right? They don't want anyone leaving. They certainly don't want a fairly well educated and economically productive chunk of the population to suddenly leave. And so at first under Georgia day, when Jewish people in Romania would try to leave generally for Israel, they would ransom their Jewish population off to Israel and exchange for money and trade goods. A lot of it they they would like trade pigs for people. Because they were trying to start all of these factories. Many Romanian Jews were ransomed off in exchange for bullsemen, which was later used as part of a breeding program. Yeah, husband drain. Yeah, it's it's a it's a whole thing. And when Chescu comes to power and he realizes what Georgia day had been doing, he was initially like, live it like, oh my God, that's actually kind of fucked up. Like, what the hell? But then he starts to get over. He gets over it when he understands how much money is at stake. And I'm going to quote from the book Children of the Night by Paul Kenyan here. Under to Chescu's stewardship in the 1970s, the trade in Jews became even more elaborate and far more lucrative. Financing animal farms was no longer adequate. Chescu was prepared to throw caution to the wind and demand direct cash payments in exchange for Jewish exit visas. The ransom money was to be calculated according to a sliding scale at the lower end where unemployed Jews and children who were considered category D and required a ransom fee of around $2,000. More well-educated Jews were deemed category A and could only be released from the country for a fee of $6,000. In exceptional cases, that rose to $250,000. The secret trade in Jews provided an important source of income for Chescu. He never drew an official salary and in fact never actually earned a penny in his life having worked in exchange for food and lodging when he was an apprentice shoemaker. The ransom money constituted an emergency slush fund. He kept it in secret bank accounts alongside the proceeds from other covert operations carried out by his foreign intelligence services. According to the former chief of his foreign intelligence services, Ion Pasepa, these accounts contained around $400 million by the mid 1970s. They were used to buy Western mortar call cars for Chescu's children and custom built armored Mercedes limousines for the leader in his wife. Along with the new acquisitions for a lean is expanding collection of diamonds. The first lady was notorious for purchasing jewels while on trips abroad. But on most occasions her aides persuaded the foreign hosts to present her with expensive gifts. This is for a rainy day. Chescu would whisper to Pasepa as they discussed the slush fund while walking along the moonlit pathways around his villa. So that's cool. He's a Jew salesman. He's selling them to Israel. That's such a uncomfortable thing. Yeah, it is pretty gross. Pretty gross. Now within the broad context of his at least these people are getting out of Chescu's Romania. But yeah, we probably don't need to do that. So I don't know, Jeff, you don't make your money by ransoming Holocaust survivors off to another country. How do you make your money? That is fair. That's a great question. Occasionally I win small fortunes on Netflix game shows. But when I'm not doing that, I have I do stand up and I am a podcaster. I am also a podcaster. I don't do stand up. But you know what I do. Like is hearing you and Tom watch Batman. That's right. Tom and Jeff watch Batman is a podcast I do with Tom Rhyman on Gamefully Unemployed. Where we watch we go through the all of the annals of Batman history and we talk about it and we are doing 1973's super friends. And that is insane. So you can check that out at Gamefully Unemployed. You can also hear you don't even like sports and unpopular opinion both on the unpop's network with Adam Todd Brown. And I do my own show called Jeff has cool friends, which is a sort of long form interview podcast with people I know that have cool jobs. And we talk about it. That's really fun. And that you can get for free. If you just look up Jeff has cool friends wherever or you can go to slash Jeff May. You get early access to uncensored episodes with bonus content as well as access to shows like Ugg fine with Kim crawl, which is a monthly show. The monthly show nerd with Dre Alvarez, which is a deep dive into nerdy histories between me who is more of like an artsy nerd and Dre Alvarez is a stats nerd. So it's an interesting clash of two worlds in that regard. If you want to see me live, I run a stand up show in a toy store in Burbank called Mint on Card. It's the second Friday of every month that blast from the past on Magnolia in Burbank, California. So our next show will be coming up pro quick February 10th. And if you live in New England, I'm doing a very rare one night only show at redemption rock brewery in Worcester, Massachusetts. And that is Wednesday, February 22nd. I'm very excited to be able to get home. I perform back home once a year. And it seems like this is going to be it. I do a lot of local talent. I managed to make sure that the people that I work with are not scum, which is very hard in comedy. Yeah, it's almost as hard as finding a good dictator. Yeah, yeah, it's very hard. I get to take the moral high point of saying if I find out a comedian is a rapist, I don't work with them anymore. Yeah, and the clubs very hard to get the clubs to buy into that. Yeah. But I love stand up. I love doing it. I love my hometown. I love performing. I keep the tickets cheap. So if you want to check that out, redemption rock brewery and you can go to my social media at hey, they're Jeff Roe for more information about that. Hell yeah. We'll check all of that out. And I don't know, go go go to hell. But you know what we should do? We should do this again in a couple days. We should do this and again in a couple of days and talk more about Chow Chesco, particularly the end of Chow Chesco. Actually, there's a lot of other fucked up shit, including the inevitable consequence of banning all contraception in your country. And yeah, we'll get we'll talk Colts personality. We'll talk getting shot with your wife. All the good Chow Chesco shit. If you're going to get shot with someone, not as well be with your wife, right? Yeah, I mean, not if it's Elena. Actually, no, that sounds off. Yeah, that's actually well, maybe worse. I don't know. That's actually way worse. Yeah, who knows. We all as everybody gets to choose who you want to get shot with. That's not true. Anyway, episodes over. Perfect finish. Excellent. Let's smell. Behind the bastards is a production of Cool Zone media. 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