The real story the October 1986 Reykjavik Summit

On Wednesday's Glenn Beck Program, Glenn laid out the little known history of the October 1986 Reykjavik Summit. With U.S./Soviet relations at an all-time low, the Summit represented a true meeting of good and evil. President Ronald Reagan was prepared for the global stage. The young Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was not.

Below is a transcript of this segment of The Glenn Beck Program

We are being schooled by a master.  Vladimir Putin is taking our president to school, and what do we do?  The answers really are simple, and they can all be found in history.

I’m going to take you back to 1985 when relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S. were at all-time lows.  Anybody who grew up, and you were coming of age in the 80s, you remember, you might not remember the duck-and-cover drills in the classroom, but you knew of them.  You knew the location of the bomb shelters, and the threat of nuclear war was still very real.  I remember growing up having nightmares about them.

Just two years earlier, President Reagan had dubbed the Soviet Union the Evil Empire, and getting them to agree to anything at all was going to be extremely difficult.  He was calling them evil, and that set the world on fire.  The arms race was on, but it wasn’t anywhere near finished, and we didn’t know who was going to win.  This was the climate of tension proceeding the Geneva Summit where the leaders of the two premier global superpowers, the ones that had all the power, that could destroy the entire planet, would meet for the very first time, and it was good versus evil.

Whatever happened would set the tone for the talks to come.  Historic moment and one Reagan was ready for, and apparently, the Soviets were not, because at the time, Gorbachev was the new guy.  He was the young kid.  He was the guy that was getting all of the whole world to say, “Look, he’s new, he’s cutting edge,” and Reagan was the old man.

Well, when they arrived at Reykjavík…I talked to a guy who actually was there.  He watched it happen, and it wasn’t planned.  Reagan had planned it in his own head.  He had already arrived, and he was well rested and ready to go.  And he was waiting for Gorbachev, a man 20 years younger.  And he saw the Soviet ZiL pull up, and they started to put a jacket on the president.  They said Mister President, it’s very cold, put the jacket on.  He said no, and it was freezing temperatures.  Reagan knew what he was doing

The rest of them stood around and looked and had no idea why he didn’t want to wear a jacket.  Reagan wanted to look like the young man, so he went down the stairs, he greeted the ZiL, opened the door, greeted him, hugged him, and here was the photo op, not the one the Soviets were looking for.  The older man now looked like the young man, helping the elderly Soviet premier up the stairs.  That is the opposite of Putin’s over-the-top shirtless pictures with tigers and bears and whales and everything else he’s doing.  And that’s why Putin is doing those things, he learned his lesson.  But our president never did.

Reagan was the tough guy in this duo.  He was the one with the street cred.  He was the cowboy who said what he meant and meant what he said.  He was risking it all.  Reagan wasn’t dubbed “the Great Communicator” for nothing.  He knew these summits with Gorbachev would be crucial to steering the international debate, especially in the Soviet Union, and here it was live on Soviet TV, Reagan looking like the superior man and the younger man all the way.

It was the first step in reshaping the view of Reagan in the eyes of the Soviet public, and that would set the tone for this meeting and all to come.  And it wasn’t dumb luck.  It wasn’t happenstance.  Reagan spent a lifetime preparing for that moment.  Win or lose, his legacy would be forever intertwined with this epic fight against communism and the Evil Empire.

We recently spoke to Ken Adelman, he was Reagan’s Director of Arms Control and Disarmament, about a later crucial encounter between Reagan and Gorbachev.

Ken: In 1980, I was waiting the Detroit to get the nomination of the Republican Party.  Someone asked Reagan in the plane, “Ron, why are you doing this?  Why are you running for president?”  And Reagan said, “I want to end the Cold War.”

In October 1986, President Ronald Reagan took a crucial step toward that goal.  He was to meet Mikhail Gorbachev, Secretary General of the Soviet Union, halfway between Washington and Moscow in a place called Reykjavík, Iceland.

Ken: I was in the administration.  I was his arms control director, and I was at his side during Reykjavík.  Reagan had the backing of conservatives in Congress, but the liberals were complaining that he was too ambitious for arms control, that he was too tough with the Russians. 

Every time he made this ideological attack against communism, it did two things:  It infuriated the liberals, and number two, it infuriated the communists.  And it showed that basically their ideology was expired, their ideology was uninspiring, and their ideology was oppressive.  President Reagan expected this to be a very low-key kind of meeting.  He expected it to be more of preparation for a summit than a real summit.

But Gorbachev wasn’t wasting any time.  He was there to talk arms control.

Ken: One surprise was that Gorbachev wanted to negotiate right there.  Another surprise was that both Reagan and Gorbachev wanted to reduce dramatically if not eliminate nuclear weapons.  Over those 10-1/2 hours, Gorbachev complained 11 times, maybe 12 times, “I’m making all the concessions,” said Gorbachev, “you’re giving me nothing.”

We went back to the ambassador’s house after the Sunday breakup of the summit, and he was in the living room.  And those of us who were on the team could see he was not to be disturbed.  He couldn’t sit down.  He couldn’t even talk to us.  He was just too mad.  He was just steaming in the corner, pacing back and forth and back and forth.  And he called it the angriest day of his presidency.

Despite the Reykjavík summit’s initial unraveling, Reagan wasn’t giving up.  After all, he became president to end the Cold War, and that is exactly what he intended to do.

Ken: Reagan was indifferent to the fight beneath him.  He came up with the idea of saying let’s tear down this wall, and on the morning that he gave that speech, which was June 12, 1987, in the car on the way to Brandenburg Gate to give that speech, the deputy chief of staff for the White House was still talking to him, trying to talk him out of using that phrase and using Gorbachev’s name in that phrase.  And Reagan kind of looked out the window, and he says, “Well, I know,” he says, “but it’s the right thing to do.”  That one meeting at Reykjavík in October of 1986 led to the end of the Cold War.

Anybody reading the book Reagan at Reykjavík will see that Reagan had it all mapped out pretty clearly.  Not everybody in the administration did, but he did.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

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On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.