Monday, March 28, 2022

Just In Case You Missed Reality America TV

Dead Russian tank
The battery of Ukraine continues to dominate the news. Interestingly enough, the war is leaning toward a stalemate: Ukraine has held off the Russian invaders to a surprising degree. Is it possible that Ukraine will be a mouse that roared? Possible. Is it possible Russia is using this moment to regroup and realign its strategy for taking down Ukraine? Probably. Is it possible that Putin's grip on Russia is slipping, even ever so slightly? Not bloody likely.

Being that there is a minor pause in hostilities, this week's outrage centers on SCOTUS. This is a two-part outrage, both of which speak to the dystopian dysfunction of our government. While both should be horrifically shocking, neither is. And that's the scary part.

I watched a good deal of the confirmation hearings for sitting federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Notice the italics there? The nominee is currently a sitting federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2021. In other words, she was confirmed with bipartisan support for that bench, and as such, she is to be treated with the same respect as any other seated judge whether or not you like her. I thought the woman was incredibly unflappable. Her responses were thoughtful and without rancor even when challenged by GOP senators. However, Senator Ted Cruz was an embarrassment to the chamber with his screed that prevented her from answering his questions. If he disagreed with her, great. Fine. But for G-d's sake, let her talk. All that man did was prove to the nation and the world watching that he was an imbecile of the first order. Not that it was news, but his behavior more closely resembled that of a toddler than a person elected to high office in this country. The whole video is disheartening, but you can skip over to about minute 20 to watch the really big fireworks.

Why is that acceptable behavior from anyone, much less a senator. I went back to listen to confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch  to see if I could find comparable behavior on the part of a senator. Sure, I heard Sen. Durbin question Barrett about gun rights and one of her dissents. I heard Sen. Feinstein push Gorsuch on overturning abortion. What I did not see in the hours I watched was anyone slamming either nominee the way Cruz attacked nominee Brown. If anyone has a clip to share, please let me know.  The closest I came was Al Franken questioning nominee Gorsuch. It's interesting to watch, but I did not see anything that approached the viciousness of Cruz's behavior.

Is there any wonder as to why ethically and morally centered people have no wish to enter the realm of public service? The threat of public evisceration alone would be enough to scare off sane people. Our government is no longer about We, the People; it's about LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! I'm pretty sure when they name this epoch, it's going to be the Narcissistic Age. 

So if the purpose of the court is to be the last bastion of the separation of powers in our so-called checks'n'balances government, the increasing politicalization of the court doesn't just simply undermine the function of SCOTUS, it puts paid to the notion of impartiality before the law. I'm not implying the sins of the GOP are the only sins to be counted; there is plenty of blame to be spread between both parties. But the impossibility of civil discourse in the hearings does not bode well for We, the People. 

We, the People, have long counted on that separation of powers coupled with impartiality. I know some people claim the politicalization of the process began with President Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork, considered by many to be an ideological extremist. Senator Edward Kennedy's condemnation of Bork's record was extreme, but it did the job of keeping him off the court:

Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.

America is a better and freer nation than Robert Bork thinks. Yet in the current delicate balance of the Supreme Court, his rigid ideology will tip the scales of justice against the kind of country America is and ought to be.

The damage that President Reagan will do through this nomination, if it is not rejected by the Senate, could live on far beyond the end of his presidential term. President Reagan is still our President. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate, and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and on the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.

Bork would later go on to say nothing in that speech was accurate, but it was a moot point; his nomination was defeated by a vote of 42 for but 58 against his confirmation.

Things haven't been too smooth since then, but the debacle of Merrick Garland reigns supreme in congressional malfeasance, courtesy of Mitch (Yurtle the Senatorial Turtle) McConnell. And oh, he just continues to live up to his grotesque reputation. 


While you're paying no attention to the bull-oney behind the curtains, SCOTUS ain't that sparkly clean. In the last week, it has come to light that Ol' Ginni Thomas, wife of the sex offender justice Clarence Thomas, has been advocating for the overthrow of the government of the United States. Seems Ol' Ginni, herself a lawyer, had a chain of emails with then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urging him to work to overturn the election. 

As James Downie wrote in Sunday's Washington Post:

Let’s be clear: Ginni Thomas’s texts themselves aren’t the issue. Yes, her argument that “Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History” is deluded. Biden won the 2020 election. But she has a right to her views, same as anyone else.

The problem lies in a late November message to Meadows in which Thomas refers to a reassuring conversation with her “best friend.” It’s hard not to read that as a reference to her husband — who once described their partnership as “equally yoked.”


First, as even Portman admitted, “if a case comes before [Thomas] that’s exactly on point, … that might be an issue where he would think about” recusal. Of course, such a case already has come before the court: In January, Thomas was the lone dissenter when the high court rejected former president Donald Trump’s efforts to block the release of administration records related to Jan. 6. Did Thomas dissent knowing — or suspecting — that his wife’s text messages might be among those records?

Cute couple, eh?
Explain to me, if you would, how Clarence Thomas is not influenced by his wife's actions simply by in presumably sharing a bed? Pillow Talk? Of course, it's very possible that if he was a surgeon he would insist on operating on her himself. 

Even if you're mad as hell at someone, if you share a space, even if you're not talking, you know what they're thinking on at least some level. Like he's gonna suddenly jump up and say, "I never talk to her, I don't listen to her, she's a wacko." If that was true, he would've absolutely recused himself from the case immediately...or voted with the rest of the justices. But he didn't. He was the lone dissent. Wanna guess why? No nookie-nookie for him if he did.  

I can't shake the old feeling that I woulda loved Anita Hill to be the nominee. This brouhaha woulda been icing on her cake. Does that make me a horrid person? Probably.

We, the People, are in a fragile place. Our country has formed more than a fissure; we are staring into a chasm of conflict that may ultimately split this country. We have always considered ourselves a melting pot of cultures, but maybe that's the problem. Oil and water? Meat or dairy? Oatmeal or grits? Hamburgers or tacos? Vax or no vax? Hard to say what divides us the most, but it's increasingly clear that We, the People subscribe to 2 very different cultures: one red and one blue. The purple areas grow smaller and smaller each year. Is it time to consider our options before a bloody civil war breaks out?

Maybe with a split we would find a middle ground of cooperation. One can only hope. The closer we come to the midterms, followed by the presidential election, the more I dread the tropes, the hate, the spin, the misinformation that will invariably flood all communications. 

Let's all hope I am totally wrong. But I don't think I am. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The time to think about Passover is over.
It's boots on the ground to the grocery stores to lay in the matzah supply.
Good luck getting a kosher brisket without a second mortgage on the house. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

No, No, No, We _Should_ Talk About Putin

I listened to any number of talking heads talking about why Putin did not invade Ukraine while Feckless Former Leader was in office. Oh, all sorts of people said all sorts of stuff, but one refrain sorta resonated with me: he didn't need to. 

The thinking behind that is Feckless Former Leader's not-so-subtle attempt to weaken NATO was at Putin's behest. IF, and this is not as big an if as it was a couple of weeks ago, Putin's plan is to restore some semblance of the Soviet Bloc renamed as Russian Confederation or even United States of Russia, then he needs to be able  to move on the smaller former Soviet states to make that happen. As long as NATO is the dominant unifying force in Europe, he cannot make that happen. Putin was getting exactly what he wanted from the US, and a second Feckless presidency would've sealed that deal. When Feckless lost to Biden, Putin lost his toehold in the Oval Office. He no longer had a way to influence American foreign policy through the highest office in our land. 

Crimea had been Putin's test early in 2014. At the time, the GOP resoundingly criticized the Obama administration's lack of response to the annexation of Crimea. They felt economic sanctions against Russia were an insufficient response to the action. President Obama even told The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg:
The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do.
In creating their platform for  the 2016 presidential elections, despite their criticism, the GOP did not include a plank for sending weaponry to Ukraine to fight Russian-backed separatists. During the campaign, Feckless even intimated he would recognize the annexation of Crimea by Russia. So by the time the election occurs and the inauguration takes place, Putin already knew he had a new  BFF in the White House. Just about every interaction with Russia after that has Putin's fingerprints all over it.  

Cut to 2022, and Feckless Leader, now Feckless FORMER Leader, is still singing Putin's praises. In February, during an interview on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show,  Feckless  gushed:
I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius.' Putin declares a big portion...of Ukraine, Putin declares it as independent.

Someone please explain what is genius about Putin's actions? 

I find it odd that Feckless Former Leader is still the de facto head of the GOP even though he is openly encouraging Putin's aggression. Seems to be a rather large disconnect between supporting Ukraine's government, and by extension, its right to exist as an independent nation, and supporting a guy who openly supports the architect of this egregious war crime by calling him a genius. These are the same folks who claim the election was stolen and their constitutional freedoms are at stake. Why aren't they responding to the death of democracy as it unfolds and spreads to Ukraine as it already has to Crimea? 

Meanwhile, back at Red Square, Putin is misinforming his citizens about the war by blocking outside news from filtering into Russia except Tucker Carlson on Fox News. What message does that send you, dear reader? Maybe it's because Tucker Carlson and Fox, and by extension, Feckless Former Leader, are allied with Putin's positions? I don't know. You tell me. 

Ukraine is fighting back. Zelensky is talking to every parliament he can, including our Congress. He has become a global hero for standing up against a giant bully with little more than a slingshot. Good for him! He sets the bar higher for every head of state on the globe. He is calling out every leader who has been silent or not vocal enough. Whether he wins or loses this war, Vlodomyr Zelensky is a global hero. 

He's the hero Feckless Former Leader imagines himself to be. He is also the hero Putin portrays himself to the Russians. As international business pulls out of Russia, Putin is losing his grip on that hero image. As banks and businesses close, he's no longer leading Russians into a great economy, he is leading them back 70 years to Stalin's Soviet Union. The ruble has tanked. McDonald's is gone along with every other recognizable brand that once lined streets and malls. The carpet bombing of Ukraine doesn't just kill people; it's happens to be destroying the bread basket of eastern Europe. Ukraine is a major wheat exporter. If the people are hiding in bunkers and the land is burned to a crisp, what are the odds the fields will be planted and flour will be available for purchase? Not bloody likely.

The wholesale destruction of Ukraine will be felt across Europe. According to Wikipedia:

Ukraine is a developing country with a lower-middle income economy, ranking 74th in the Human Development Index. Ukraine is among the poorest countries in Europe. As of 2020 it suffers from low life expectancy and widespread corruption. However, due to its extensive fertile land, Ukraine is one of the largest grain exporters in the world.
Antonov 225 taking off
The red highlight is mine. This is excessively important because while their transportation industry is probably their most profitable asset, that they feed large portions of Europe is just about as important. Humans cannot live on ginormous Antonov Airplanes alone. They must have food, and Ukraine is good at providing that. And as the Russian economy tanks, they're gonna need all the food they can get. 

But no one is in the field night now. They may not be safe enough out in the open to prep and plant crops. 

Putin's long game would not be centered on Ukraine if they did not have something he wanted. Antonov is the biggest airplane in the world. Just look at all those wheels! Think of the thrust it must take to push into the atmosphere. If you've ever seen one take off...and I have seen several coming and going at MSP... they are more than big; you can feel the thrum of the engines throbbing even when you sit in the car. All that throb and thrust. Wow. Makes me think Putin needs manly Antonovs to offset his little dick. 

Okay, okay, I know. Or rather, I don't know how big his dick is, but if you've ever known someone with a really small one, chances are they're driving a Ferrari...or whatever biggest engine muscle car they can get. Putin had control of a whole country and an economy that was viable, but clearly it wasn't enough. He could've chosen his people over Swiss bank accounts he can no longer access, but he didn't. Like every other dictator/totalitarian putz, he's started a war because the thought that would make him the Big Man in Europe. Hell, it didn't work for Hitler, Mussolini, or Franco....why would it work for him in the age of instant and aggressive media? 

Yeah, the same questions can be asked about Feckless Former Leader. Narcissism and ego are turning out to be not merely speculative issues, but uncontested fatal flaws. Feckless aspired to be Putin or at leasts what his pea-sized brain saw as Putin's flash and grandeur. At the same time, Putin bought into Feckless's fantasy camp support system.

President Obama may have seriously underestimated the importance of the whole of Ukraine versus the Crimea annexation, and that error may very well have set this ball rolling. Putin chose not to invade Ukraine while Feckless was in office because he believed Trump was a shoo-in for a second term, especially with his special assistance. Never underestimate what We, the People, will do when someone attempts to corner us. They were counting on We, the People to be taken in by their flimflam performance No matter how loud he screeched about fake election results, Feckless believed the fantasy when, in fact, the only one tampering with the election was him. And he lost. Fair and square, Biden won hands down.

Without Feckless in office, Vlad the Dictator had to shuffle his playbook. That shuffle is what we are seeing now. The war against Ukraine is supposed to make him great. 


Gone is the long game, the one that would've won the hearts and minds of the Russian people. Instead, Putin's scorched earth policy has earned him the derision of the global community. He is the one cornered and that's what makes him excessively dangerous. Like the snake that he is, Putin will strike out. That instant news cycle he didn't understand is what will ultimately bring him crashing down, but not before way too many people die.

Despite his best efforts to hide reality from the Russian consumer, they will find out. When the stockpiled Mickey D's and Starbucks' coffee pods run out with no replacements forthcoming, the people will figure out their grease and caffeine deprivation mode is caused directly by Vlad the Dictator. They're not stupid. When they quickly figure out that IKEA and Deutsche Bank have suspended activity,  Estee Lauder and Ferragamo are gone, and Ferrari is no more, they are not going to blame America or the UK or France or Italy...their sites will be leveled at Putin. 

You see, it's the economy, people. All those oligarch wannabes are now locked up in the New Russia and not only can they not get their luxury goods fix, they can't leave. They are all prisoners of one man's cupidity and unending stupidity. 

Putin has already lost. He's locked in his room, a toddler with a temper, destroying all his toys. In the end, he will be exposed. He will grasp at straws and find nothing in his hands. Meanwhile, the swath of destruction will be named in his memory.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day

"Quand les riches se font la guerre, ce sont les pauvres qui meurent."
                                                                      Jean-Paul Sartre

When the rich go to war, it is the poor who die.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Statecraft 401: Advanced Problems in Acting On The World Stage

As I type, I am mildly uncomfortable. The old furnace is gone. The old air conditioner is gone. The old water heater is on its way out. Ergo, there is neither heat nor water in my house. In the great scheme of things, this is a minor inconvenience. The new furnace has been moved into place. The new air conditioner is on the cement pad outside the garage. The new water heater is just coming off the truck. They will all be installed and reattached by dinner time. I will be warm, with hot water readily available, and if the air conditioner actually gets turned on twice this summer, it will be a lot. 

I realize how intensely lucky I am to be in my home, to be able to afford new heating/cooling equipment, and have running water. But for an accident of family history, I could be in Ukraine or Belarus. I can never lose sight of that. 

Ziggy's favorite mantra

Writing The Wifely Person Speaks has been a weekly challenge for more than a decade. A decade. That's a long time. Sure, I piss and moan some weeks about "making the donuts," but I do it. Some days, I appreciate it more than others. This is true. But that I can do this every Monday, week in/week out, month in/month out, year in/year out is a testament to my fervent belief in freedom of expression.  Writing this blog is, in its own way, a privilege. I get to say what I want, when I want. My blog, my rules. That said, you can agree with me or disagree and I am happy to read your opinions. (Except the death threats. Those I'd prefer not to get.) 

So when I read Putin has cut off Russia from all outside news sources, I get worried. I have a fair number of readers in Russia who will not get to read this episode. I worry about the ones who are hearing about gas weaponry production in Ukraine together with Nazis roaming the streets...both reasons for Russia to race to Ukraine's rescue. Or so the general population is being told. I want to believe someone will get the truth about what's happening in Ukraine into Russia, but I'm not sure it will be enough or in time. Putin is a manipulator, and he's counting on a whole lotta sleight o'hand to get NATO et al to do what he wants. 

That he's accusing Ukraine of manufacturing and planning to use chemical/biological weapons is a great excuse to use them in "defense." He's ranting about Nazis running about Ukraine, yet he's the one pushing for annexation of territories like Crimea was and now he's setting up Donetsk and Luhansk (the Donbas region) the same way. Are the people of those two areas clamoring to be saved by Russia? Not a simple answer. The Washington Post has a pretty good explanation of the schism, but in a nutshell, it comes down to ethnicity:

Still, Putin has repeatedly invoked the idea of Donbas’s distinctive regional identity as a basis to “defend” its Russian-speaking people from a supposedly intolerant Ukraine. Separatists have also capitalized on this identity to fuel support and rebellion against Kyiv.


In Kyiv-controlled Donbas, a majority wants the separatist regions to return to Ukraine. In the separatist-controlled area, over half want to join Russia, either with or without some autonomous status, per a survey published in 2021.

Gee, ethnicity. There's a surprise. But these are matters for the population of that region to decide and while Russia is riding in to "help" the separatists, I can't see Putin giving them their own autonomous region. That conflict has already cost over 14,000 lives between Ukraine and Donbas region. While Russia appears to be pulling those strings for the separatists, Putin is, at the same time, attempting to hijack Ukraine's ability to set policy for itself. The interjection of Russia into Ukraine's foreign and domestic policy would not be tolerated by any other country, so why would Zelensky's government be expected to put up with it? 

See, this isn't just Moscow beating up on some kid. This is a complicated and delicate balance within Ukraine that requires chess-like skills. It's not going to be instantly resolved. And frankly, unless you knew there was another "situation" underneath it, you cannot possibly just go all out for one side or the other. Not that I am in any way suggesting that Russia be allowed to continue the bully pulpit it presently occupies. NO WAY.

So, let's look at this from a slightly different angle. 

On Monday's CBS Morning News, retired Lt General H.R. McMasters appeared as a war analyst. Now once upon a time, this guy replaced Michael Flynn as Feckless Leader's National Security Advisor. At the time, I openly wondered if this was a junta in the making. 

So now, McMasters is spouting his own opinions on Ukraine. He's worth listening to, if only for another point of view. He's saying not to take anything off the table, that doing so feeds into Putin's brazen misbehavior. He maintains that the WWIII analogies are not useful; they give Putin a chance to rattle his nuclear sabres in such a way that the US and Nato will be forced to step back. Meanwhile, Putin will continue to interdict the supply chain going into Ukraine, cutting off both military and humanitarian aid. McMasters also thinks this might be laying the groundwork for Russia to use chemical weapons. 

I want to disagree with him, but I'm not sure I can. However...

That said, I suspect McMasters may be looking at this in a rather shallow, superficial analysis. I think he is underestimating the backdoor channel of diplomacy and I think he underestimates Putin as he moves his pieces around the board. Putin is classical Russian and I would venture to guess the guy is a chess player. Maybe not a very good one, but he is thinking maybe 6 or 7 moves ahead. Biden, on the other hand, is not, as FOX suggests, playing checkers. I think Biden might actually be playing the long game, and if he's not a great chess player, he's brought in those that are. Biden's been a politician for a long time. Don't underestimate his ability to know what he can and cannot do himself, what he needs skilled foreign service folks for, and most importantly, how to get the deal done. He's been around too long not to know how to play the ultimate game. Granted, he may not be sparkling brill, but he's savvy enough to know how to get the helpers he needs. 

Meanwhile, no sane government, leader, or alliance wants World War III. Some of the insane ones might, like Putin or Kim Jong Whoever, but most of the world finds the nuclear dick-waving dangerously stupid. Take into consideration whose dick it is, and suddenly you can't just walk up and hand-slap the guy. In his quest NOT to lose face, he is decidedly capable of pressing one or more buttons. Even though he is unlikely to test wind speed and direction prior to pressing said buttons, he may have no qualms about scorched-earth maneuvering if it will guarantee some kind of victory. 

And I am betting this guy has a well stocked bunker ready to go. Dictators always prepare for the worst, and I suspect Vlad the Dictator isn't any different from his predecessors. This guy has a Swiss bank account. He's got to have money stashed wherever he can. The open sewer secret is that he's got digs in Switzerland where, according to the tabloids, he already stashed his mistress, retired gymnast Alina Kabaeva, and their 4 kids. 

Zelensky, on the other hand, is an actor. Probably a very good one. His performance on the world stage is well-crafted, as it should be, and he, too, is playing the long game. I am anxious to see his address to our CongressClowns, the elected gang that cannot possible shoot straight, because Zelensky knows exactly how to address them. 

Yeah, I'm opining all over the place tonight. But I'm still a director; that never goes away. I see refined performance where others see a speech. That was one of the biggest problems with Feckless Leader; he could't stop the aggrandizing ad lib. Zelensky was on that call about Hunter Biden. He listened up close and personal to that narcissistic dingbat, and he immediately had to have recognized that level of bad acting when he heard it. I'm betting Zelensky learned a lot about statecraft from those conversations, and I'm betting he absorbed every last bit of that information. 

He's been coached, I suspect, to keep the focus on him and away from NATO while everyone else is working beneath and behind him to settle Ukraine in a totally defensible position while Putin continues to play the Dictator's Gambit. Zelensky's harangues are always well crafted and hit the emotional high points for greatest impact. But every good actor needs a good director and a great stage manager to make it all work seamlessly when it's live and in person. Zelensky knows this; he leaves nothing to chance. The guy is cagey smart and knows Ukraine's survival depends on playing to his strengths. 

Deus ex machina in the real world. Just watch Servant of the People.  How often do you get to see real life imitating art?

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you buy a house with a 20-year-old furnace, 
immediately budget the replacement cost. 
The Junior Son commended me on my fine adulting skills this week.
I'm so proud. 

The Wifely Person's Bonus Observation
The Rolling Stones announced they will start a tour called
Why? Because they have been together as a band for
60 years. 
That's longer than most marriages...even the ones that last. 
Oh, you might want to know that Mick and Keith were born in 1943
They are currently 78 years old.
Which means that they will both turn 80 in 2023
yes, EIGHTY 
while they are on tour...with new songs they just wrote.
Why does that alta kaker have brown hair?

Monday, March 7, 2022

When The Nightmares Are Real

Sunday in Kyiv. They were walking with luggage.
Lynsey Addario/The New York Times
Back in the Dark Ages, when bloggers were bloggers, and opinions were opinions, a guy from Ukraine reached out to me. He'd seen several of my comments in The New York Times online, and followed the link to my blog. He explained he was a high school English teacher and wondered if I would be okay if he used the blog in his English class. 

I was thrilled. We exchanged a few emails, I assured him if any kids wrote I would answer (and I did,) that I would be happy to answer any questions he had, and I would always make sure to use links for stuff they would have to look up online. He asked me not to edit or adjust my topics in any way, that he wanted the kids to see what Americans wrote about for Americans. Before the cookie wars in Europe, I used to just smile as I watched the hit-o'meter spin with hits from Ukraine.

I have not heard from that teacher in a while...maybe a couple of years. I know he was close to my age (he told me) and that one day he and his wife dreamed of having a little place near the Black Sea. Last week's email to him bounced. I can only hope they are alive and safe. 

But I keep thinking about those kids. I'm sure lots of them would be married with kids of their own by now. And both the guys and girls, now men and women, would be taking up arms in defense of their country. These kids loved freedom of expression. I would read their notes and be amazed at the publications they read regularly: The Economist, The Washington Post, The Times of London, just about any reliable news source they could find. These kids who wanted to know more are out there with guns because a newly arisen madman wants lebesraum.  And the Soviet Union back. 

The world stood passively by while Hilter rolled across Europe. Neville Chamberlain's attempt to appease Hitler cost millions of lives. The big question is: have We, the Global People, learned anything about staying silent? For the last few days, Russia has been bombing residential neighborhoods and targeting civilian gathering places, like airports and train stations. The UN is loath to set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine because there is the possibility that Putin will use that as an excuse to unleash his nuclear arsenal already pointed at Europe, thereby igniting World War III. From The NYTimes:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has warned that any nation that tried to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would in effect be “participating in the armed conflict,” raising the threat of Russian retaliation. NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Friday that its members had rejected a no-fly zone out of fears it could lead to “a full-fledged war in Europe.”                               
If Putin is as unhinged as he is beginning to appear, this is an incredibly inflammatory statement that must be considered in the conversation. And the UN is not the only one with concerns about how crazy this guy is. Former Ambassador to Ukraine, Kurt Volker did the Sunday chat shows this week. On CBS's  FACE THE NATION, Volker said, 
We have to understand that Putin is bent on a military victory. He wants to destroy Ukraine, decapitate the leadership. He doesn't care about how many casualties this causes, what happens to the civilian population. This is a messianic mission that he is on. This is why he has to be stopped.

Messianic mission. That stopped me dead in my tracks. IF he was right, that Putin believes this is some sort of "divine" mission, he can and will use WMD at will. That's what crazy people do. Volker goes on to say the US should be supplying much more in the way of hardware than we are doing. That seems to be the direction we are going in. Someone has to stop this guy.

On a brighter note, only four countries are standing with Russia at the UN: Belarus, Syria, North Korea,  and Eritrea. With friends like that, who needs enemies? 

And that humanitarian cease-fire Russia offered for the protection of refugees? ONLY if they are crossing the border into Belarus or Russia. REALLY?????? Can you say from frying pan into the fire, boys and girls? I can see the beckoning finger now: Come, leetle pipples, come to Mother Russia. Ve have lovely winter camping ready for you. [to be read with Yakov Smirnoff accent.]

Train station in Kharkiv, Ukraine/
Jack Losh for Foreign Policy
Meanwhile, over one million people have fled for places other than Russia and Belarus. In so many instances, men are dropping their families at the border before returning to the front. Train stations are packed, but not the way they were in 1939. Thousands of people are waiting to get on a train, but these are not boxcars. There is real help waiting for them on the other side. We must be thankful for that much. The last time, that wasn't what happened.

My friend Natasha is here in the States, but her mom and most of the family are in Ukraine. We texted the other night:

Strollers left by Polish women
for Ukrainian moms carrying kinds

Poland is stepping up in unimaginable ways to shelter the women and children fleeing for safety. The internet is full of the Polish Stroller picture for very good reason: it has been vetted as accurate:The Poles have set up shelters, tents, and feeding stations. They are helping to organize the refugees so they have someplace to go. The overwhelming refrain is that they want to go home to their country; they have no wish to settle elsewhere. 

Folks, this will not stop with Ukraine. 

If Ukraine falls, Belarus' President Lukashenko previewed the map: Moldova is next. 

The world did not stand up to Hitler when he could've been stopped. Millions of people died because of that. Are we smarter than we were in 1932? 1933? 1938? 1939? 

I sure as hell hope so.

SPECIAL REPORT: After I published, the transcript of Zelensky's speech tonight was released in translation. Here it is:

Monday. Evening. You know, we used to say: Monday is a hard day. There is a war in the country. So every day is Monday. 
And now we are used to the fact that every day and every night are like that. 

Today is the 12th. 12th evening of our struggle. Our defense. We are all on the ground, we are all working.  Everyone is where they should be. I am in Kyiv. My team is with me. The territorial defense is on the ground. The servicemen are in positions. Our heroes! Doctors, rescuers, transporters, diplomats, journalists… 

Everyone. We are all at war. We all contribute to our victory, which will definitely be achieved. By force of arms and our army. By force of words and our diplomacy. By force of spirit, which the first, the second and each of us have. Take a look at our country today. 

Chaplynka, Melitopol, Tokmak, Novotroitske and Kherson. Starobilsk. Everywhere people defended themselves, although they do not have weapons there. But these are our people, and that’s why they have weapons. They have courage. Dignity. And hence the ability to go out and say: I’m here, it’s mine, and I won’t give it away. My city. My community. My Ukraine. 

Every Ukrainian man and woman who protested against the invaders yesterday, today and will protest tomorrow are heroes. 

We shout at the invaders together with you. We stand in the squares and streets with you. We are not afraid with you when the invaders open fire and try to drive everyone away. 

YOU do not back down. WE do not back down. 

And the one who repeated: “We are one people” – certainly did not expect such a powerful reaction. 

In the south of our country, such a national movement has unfolded, such a powerful manifestation of Ukrainianness that we have never seen in the streets and squares there. And for Russia it is like a nightmare. They forgot that we are not afraid of paddy wagons and batons. We are not afraid of tanks and machine guns. When the main thing is on our side, truth. As it is now. Mariupol and Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Sumy. Odesa and Kyiv. Mykolaiv. Zhytomyr and Korosten. Ovruch. And many other cities. 

We know that hatred that the enemy brought to our cities with shelling and bombing will not remain there. There will be no trace of it. Hatred is not about us. Therefore, there will be no trace of the enemy. We will rebuild everything. We will make our cities destroyed by the invader better than any city in Russia. Enerhodar. Chornobyl. And other places where barbarians just don’t understand WHAT they want to capture. WHAT they want to control. Your work, your hard work on critical objects is a real feat. And we see it. We are sincerely grateful for it. The Ukrainian army holds positions. Well done! It inflicts extremely painful losses on the enemy. Defends. Counterattacks. If necessary – can take revenge. Necessarily. For every evil. For every rocket and bomb. For each destroyed civilian object. 

Today in Makariv, Kyiv region, they fired at the bread factory. For what? The old bread factory! Think about it – to fire at the bread factory. Who should you be to do that? Or to destroy another church – in the Zhytomyr region. The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin built in 1862. 

These are NOT people. 

There was an agreement on humanitarian corridors. Did it work? Russian tanks worked instead. Russian “Grads”. Russian mines. They even mined the road, which was agreed to transport food and medicine for people and children in Mariupol. 

They even destroy buses that have to take people out. But … At the same time, they are opening a small corridor to the occupied territory. For several dozen people. Not so much to Russia, as to propagandists. Directly to their TV cameras. Like, that’s the one who saves. Just cynicism. Just propaganda. Nothing more. No humanitarian sense. The third round of negotiations in Belarus took place today. I would like to say – the third and final. But we are realists. So we will talk. We will insist on negotiations until we find a way to tell our people: this is how we will come to peace. 

Exactly to peace. 

We must realize that every day of struggle, every day of resistance creates better conditions for us. Strong position to guarantee our future. In peace. After this war. Apart from the dead people and the destroyed cities, the war leaves destroyed the aspirations that once seemed very important, but now … You don’t even mention them. 

Almost three years ago, as soon as the election took place, we entered this building, this office, and immediately began planning our move. I dreamed of moving from Bankova. Together with the government and parliament. To unload the center of Kyiv and in general – to move to a modern, transparent office – as befits a progressive democratic European country. 

Now I will say one thing: I stay here. 

I stay in Kyiv. On Bankova Street. 

I’m not hiding. And I’m not afraid of anyone.  As much as it takes to win this Patriotic War of ours. 

Today I signed a decree to present state awards of Ukraine to 96 Ukrainian heroes – our military. Including… 

The Order of Bohdan Khmelnytsky of the second degree is awarded to: 

Major Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Sak. Commander of the mechanized battalion who entered the battle with the battalion tactical group of the enemy and won thanks to a rational approach to combat and non-standard tactics. 

Captain Rostyslav Oleksandrovych Sylivakin. Commander of the mechanized battalion, which successfully fought the overwhelming forces of the enemy, liberating Ukrainian towns and villages in the Sumy region. 

The Order of Bohdan Khmelnytsky of the third degree is awarded to: 

Lieutenant Ihor Serhiyovych Lozovyi. Acting as part of the group, he stopped a column of enemy vehicles numbering about 150 units, which was moving in the direction of the Zhytomyr-Kyiv route. Destroyed. 

Lieutenant Vitaliy Viktorovych Poturemets. He showed exemplary courage and composure in the battle, destroying a column of enemy equipment near the city of Kyiv. He was wounded. 

The Order “For Courage” of the third degree is awarded to: 

Master Sergeant, Commander of the Automobile Platoon Valentyn Viktorovych Baryliuk. Thanks to his brave actions and personal determination, the tank unit received fuel in time and left the encirclement, destroying the enemy on the way. 

All 96 of our heroes are like these five! 

Our gratitude to all the military.  Our gratitude to the Armed Forces of Ukraine!  Our gratitude is boundless.   

Glory to Ukraine!