I was born in Linz Austria. Mozart was born in Salzburg. Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart, his parents, gave their first and only son the name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. When he was 21 years of age, it was trendy to Latinize your name, and he chose to change Theophilus (Greek for loved by God) to Amadé, the French version of Amadeus, the Latin version he rarely used. Here is his signature as he wrote it.
The two cities are about 66 miles apart; it takes roughly an hour to get from one to the other, especially given that there is no speed limit on the Autobahn. I remember driving to Salzburg with the family. I was driving a Ford van with a four-cylinder engine and was trying to pass a long truck pulling a trailer. I barely saw the tiny image of the distant Mercedes limo in my rearview mirror when I pulled out to pass. By the time I got to the front of the truck, despite having the accelerator pressed to the floor, the Mercedes was only 100 feet from my rear bumper, furiously flashing its lights but maintaining his speed in excess of 100 mph. It seemed that he fully intended just to drive us into the ditch or just drive over us. I was barely able to get to the safety of the right lane when the Mercedes passed and pulled in front of me with palpable anger. As previously mentioned, there is no speed limit on the Autobahn, and people have a certain “get off my road attitude.” It is that drive from Linz to Saltzbug that will always remind me of Mozart’s Requiem (music for the dead.) We were so lucky to get to the birth town of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart alive.
I am not sure why Mozart is my favorite composer. Is it that we were from the same corner of the world, or is it because, during my formative years, I heard a lot of organ, choral, and orchestral versions of Mozart’s liturgical music in my role as an altar boy in the Catholic Church? My favorite is, in fact, the Requiem, which I want at my own interment ceremony, hopefully not anytime soon. It was also Fredrick Chopin’s request at his funeral when he died in Paris. It was quite a chore to get it approved to have women in the choir, which was forbidden at the time in France. The work has +- eight parts, some of which have subdivisions, full orchestra, and choir, mostly in minor keys that is intended for somber music. The Introduction is followed by the Kyrie (Lord), the Dies Irae (day of wrath), Tuba Mirum (hark the trumpet), Rex Tremendae (King of tremendous majesty), Recordae (remember), Confutatis (the accursed) my favorite, followed by the Lacrimosa (tears), yielding to the Offertorium, then the Sanctus, the Benedictus, Agnus Dei (lamb of God), and finally the Communio which recapitulates the music of the first two movements. If you have not seen the movie Amadeus, it is one you should not miss, one of the best movies ever. Director Miloš Forman did accurately portray the life of the late 1700s and the flavor of the times. The film got eleven Academy nominations and won seven, including Best Picture. One of the great scenes is the creation of the Requiem as Mozart is dying. Although not historically accurate, it is, in my opinion, a scene with great pathos and fantastic music to boot.
Actually, the Requiem is indeed shrouded in mystery and intrigue. It was commissioned and paid for by a stranger who likely was going to pass it off as his own work. Mozart started working on it in July of 1791. He worked on it obsessively, and many historians think he had a premonition of death which, as it turned out, came true. This was going to be his own “Swan Song.” He had the first part done but only sketched out the rest. He died December 5, 1791, before he could finish it. One of his students, Franz Süβmayr, to whom Mozart had given extensive instructions along with his rough draft for its completion, did finish it at Mozart’s wife’s (Constanze) request as she was desperate to keep the commission. It was Beethoven who said, “If Mozart did not write the Requiem, it was a Mozart who did!” If you have never heard it, I highly recommend putting it on your “bucket list!” Furthermore, try to avoid driving on the Autobahn if you can help it.
In 1969 all men born between January 1943 and December 1950 received notice from the Selective Service System (the Draft Board) to report for duty in the military. I was born in 1943, so I was eminently qualified. I was in a Residency Training Program for General Practice that finished in July of 1970. In August 1970, I was sent to Witchita Falls, Texas, for basic training. I never thought that a doctor would be taught how to march, shoot, and crawl under barbed wire, with live gunfire above (at least that is what they told us), but I was. The US had just included Cambodia in the Vietnam War. I was expecting to go to Vietnam.
But then a miracle happened! I was sent to Portugal as an Air Force Captain. I was able to bring my wife, and we were stationed on Tercera, the third largest island in the Azorian archipelago, a virtual paradise. The Azores were the first place Christopher Columbus stopped on his transoceanic trip to discover the Americas. The church where he prayed for guidance still stands and was the site of many a picnic we had with our Air Force friends. Angra de Heroismo is the largest town of about 35,000 inhabitants. Frédéric Chopin also stopped there during his search for a place that would be better for his lungs, which were besieged by the Tubercle Bacillus. I even sat at the piano, where he gave an impromptu concert for Angra. If you ever get to Angra, you must try the regional specialty, “Alcatra Regional,” a beef stew cooked in an earthen pot on charcoal, which is absolutely outstanding.
Our base was composed of about 4,000 troops, mostly Air Force, but there were also Marines who did the security, the Navy who surprisingly did the flying, and Air Force that did the support, including the hospital. I “fought the war” for the next two years on a semi-tropical island doing health care for basically healthy young people. We bravely kept every Viet Cong from making landfall there. I didn’t know it then, but it was probably the best time of my life. I was young, full of energy and enthusiasm. There was a lot of time to pursue hobbies. I learned to work with wood in their wood hobby shop. Mary and I built shelves using an Acacia tree, the hardest wood in the Azores, that was split just for us. We also built a copy of a 15th-century Savanarola Florentine chair. I became a more sophisticated photographer and even learned to Scuba Dive to look for treasure. Lobster was plentiful in the Atlantic just for the taking, and we did. The harbor near our house had been the scene of great battles between the English and Spanish with treasure ships laden with gold that were sunk by Sir Francis Drake. Unfortunately, all we ever found was a few barnacles-encrusted canons and the occasional shark that lost its way. But sculpting was my favorite hobby. I had always loved to sculpt. My beautiful wife served as a model for several works, one of which is seen here.
Democrats and Republicans need to find other candidates for the 2024 presidential election. Both Biden and Trump are damaged goods and furthermore too old with extra baggage we do not need! I would advise, as Elon Musk, that they should ride off into the sunset. With all the smart people around, surely they can find someone who did not storm the US Capital with an armed group to reverse an election or a president who botched the withdrawal of US forces from a nation we had protected for 20 years, causing thousands of people to lose their life, condemning millions of women to a life of servitude and minority status, not unlike in the middle ages, not to mention stealing their educational opportunities and giving away trillions in military equipment.
Who was responsible for leaving Afghanistan in such a disorganized fashion when all his military advisers counseled against it? And who incited hundreds of people to carry weapons and threaten to hang the Vice-President, when all his advisers told him that he had lost the election. I can only think of two people, neither of whom listen to their counselors. Both are know-it-alls! They have lost my respect, and both forfeit their leadership roles, especially the most important position in our government. How can any reasonable person support either man who is so clearly unfit for the highest office in the land? If you succeed in getting either man elected, you will on the one hand, get a bumbling demented man who cannot put two sentences together without flubbing the teleprompter lines and on the other, a self-absorbed narcissist who is bent on avenging himself on all those that opposed him. Neither take advice nor listen to their advisers. Both of them lack good judgment. How about we find wiser candidates with new visions of a Country based on Freedom, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for all who respond to their Electorate and Cabinet? The actions of both these two “loose canons” should clue you into their unhinged minds, regardless of cause, be it age-related cognitive problems or a personality disorder.
We especially do not need leadership that brings us 9.1% inflation with a looming recession. We do not need self-absorbed people who go through advisers like worn-out shoes, discarding them for the most inane reasons. We do not need octogenarians (I hasten to add that I am one of them). Many of that age have the beginning or worse of deteriorating cerebral cortexes, who cannot reason logically anymore, and have a variety of medical and mental issues that interfere with their function, like walking, talking, thinking, comprehending, or administering the largest most powerful nation in the world.
At age 65, 20% of individuals have some degree of cognitive deterioration. It doubles every 10 years so that by age 80 about 50% have some cognitive malfunction. Does it make any sense to look for leadership in a group where half of the people have cognitive decline?
We need to go back to our roots, our beginnings when the Age of Reason gave us men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Yes, these men had flaws, as we all do, but they were great thinkers who could overcome their prejudices and foibles. Our Constitution is still valid and a living document that has given us prosperity and justice for close to two and one-half centuries. I do not forget about slavery. That was, however, a worldwide plague that was not limited to this country, to racial divisions, or even that time. There is more slavery of black, white, and yellow races now than there ever was. We need to stay away from recent philosophies that have failed miserably, such as Marxism and Fascism, both of which I have had some close encounters. From personal knowledge, I can tell you, “be careful what you wish for. You may just get it!” All countries that have tried those philosophies, even in small doses, have failed and reversed their form of government, including England, New Zealand, the old Soviet Union, Israel, India, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and Laos are the only countries still toying with Marxism. Even China and Vietnam are now mostly market-based economies, although still dictatorships. Who can forget the incomparable disasters of the two Fascist countries, Italy and Germany?
We are not perfect and never will be. There is still racial strife and feelings of superiority toward one over another. However, nothing like it was 200 years ago or even 50 years ago. We have taken great strides forward, and I doubt these issues can be solved quickly or even legislatively. There have been changes in our hearts and minds by leagues and we are continuing to do so. But I do know with certainty that neither Biden nor Trump are the right choices for us!
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That is the first sentence of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Thomas Jefferson wrote to a Baptist Church from Danbury, Connecticut, explaining the Establishment Clause very eloquently. “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Over forty previous decisions of the Supreme Court have upheld this principle to the extent that it required the removal of the Ten Commandments from courtrooms across the country. Very prestigious Justices weighed in on this point, including Justice Bryer, Justice Souter, Justice Ginsberg, and Justice O’Connor. Sandra Day O’Connor made the very astute argument, “We are a religious people, but the separation between church and state was the very thing that freed Americans to practice their faiths.”
It appears that the Supreme Court has again blundered into overstepping its authority to overrule a couple of hundred years of precedence, not to mention trampling on our Constitution. The Constitution has obviously had much more thought put into it by people of greater prestige and wisdom than our current Supreme Court has. It exposes the current Justice’s religious prejudices, and partisan politics, along with their personal opinions. As in the discipline of physics, every action will lead to an equal but opposite reaction, their poorly thought-out decisions will eventually come back to bite us. Court-packing evolving to a one-party rule is the next step. Relevancy of the Court will become an increasing issue making a shambles of the three branches of our government.
Religion is based on writings going back at least three millennia. It is the infallible word of God. The problem comes in that each infallible scripture of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the dozens of the others, Buddism, Hinduism, Mormons, and all the other 4,300 religions of the world do NOT AGREE with each other on many points! Colorado’s Third Congressional District Representative Lauren Boebert in her learned wisdom, says she is tired of hearing this “Separation of Church and State junk!”
If prayer were again allowed to be said in public schools, how many prayers would have to be recited to make it fair and equal, or would it just be the Evangelicals who would get that privilege? How would most Christians react if they were forced to participate in Muslim prayer, even if they did not have to touch the ground with seven parts of their body as the Quoran requires? An all-knowing God would understand that silence is golden under certain circumstances.
Lauren further explains that the church should tell the state what to do, not the other way around. My question to her is, “Which church? Would it be the Baptists or the Anabaptists or possibly the Rastafarians?” Lauren only needs a turban, and she would then qualify to lead the Christian Taliban and realize her wish of a Full-On Theocracy like in the good old days. Was life so much better when we had the absolute certainty that we were the center of the Universe and the sun revolved around us? We almost burned Galileo at the stake which we did to his predecessor, Giordano Bruno for not following what the Holy Scriptures said. It gave us the authority to burn heretics and hang a few witches. It was not that long ago, in 1826, when we executed the last heretic, Cayetano Ripoll, for teaching Deism.
Just look at the question of when life starts. The IRS does not allow a deduction for a baby in utero regardless of time from conception nor can a pregnant woman use the car pool lane by herself. It is not a person, our government says. Jews quote the Bible, “And God formed the man of dust of the earth, and breathed upon his face the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7. Therefore they believe life begins with the first breath. Muslims say ensoulment happens at 120 days, and Buddhists don’t believe there is a soul. I want a religion that has a direct line to God so we can rely on it to tell us what we should do, or should we just ask Lauren Boebert.
It is considered unethical and even illegal for a student and teacher or a patient and doctor to have a sexual relationship precisely because there is an inequality that makes that indecent, immoral, and worse. Teachers have lost their jobs and doctors their licenses to practice over that issue. Along the same line, how then can it be acceptable for a football coach to pray on the 50-yard line encouraging the team to join him? Besides, what message does that send? I was unaware that God watched high school football, and if He did, He really shouldn’t be asked to take sides! Of course, it would be even worse if He answered the prayer by taking sides!
A BOOK OF INSPIRATIONS
My 11th book just went off to the printer. It will be out in July, and I hope to sell a lot of them. I think it is my best book to date. I WILL DONATE ALL THE PROFITS TO THE REBUILDING OF UKRAINE. It is amazing to me that one crazy person can do so much harm in such a short time. It took Hitler a decade and Stalin two decades to destroy the world. It took Putin only a few months.
This new book was my therapy to counter the evil of this insanity. Art and esthetic beauty have always calmed me down and given me new inspiration that things will get better. The book’s title is Muses and Inspirations and features works of two UKRAINIAN ARTISTS, my father and me. My father was motivated by the two-dimensional muse (painting), while I paid homage to the three-dimensional muse (sculpting).
Each work is accompanied by a write-up of why, how, and what motivated us. I have been a Surgeon most of my life, so naturally, that was a major part of my inspiration and created the work you see below, the gloved hand of a surgeon making the first incision. It is held up by the scalpel, which was quite a feat to have it appear to come from above as if guided by some unseen force. Bronze is a metal of copper mixed with 12% tin and thus is quite heavy. It would collapse if held up by a bronze scalpel, so the knife is cast in stainless steel, a metaphor for the King of the Medical Arts.
Blacksmiths were one of my Father’s favorite subjects to paint. Painting them spanned his entire career. He admired the strength of brawn and brain that allowed them to tame iron. A blacksmith’s work is never done! Iron and steel obey his every whim from shaping horseshoes to forging swords.
This Blacksmith was a friend of my father, and allowed him to paint him in his shop. Unfortunately, the Blacksmith was very fond of “the grape.” While shoeing a horse in his shop, he was kicked by the horse in the upper abdomen. He was too inebriated to get help and bled to death from a ruptured spleen. That ended not only his life but also his career as a model and friend to my father.
On one of my trips to Paris, France, I became enchanted by the “gargoyle.” That is a sculpting adorning many cathedrals of Europe. The word “gargoyle” comes from the Spanish word “garganta,” which means “throat.” Originally the gargoyle was used to divert water from the roof of a church and the water was channeled out of the mouth of the gargoyle. The legend claims that these hideous faces actually discouraged evil spirits from attacking. They protected the people and the cathedral. I, too, had to have one to protect my house. So I sculpted one, and so far, it has been successful. No evil spirits have infested our house. Here is my version of the gargoyle.
Winter is filled with fun and excitement: Christmas, holly, mistletoe, sleigh rides, chestnuts, and sitting by toasty roaring fires. Snow is difficult to paint. It is white, that is true, but it has character, substance, and it is cold. To convey this with a brush on a canvas with white Zinc Oxide oil paint and make it believable is quite a trick. The New England Winter, 24″x36″ oil on canvas,seems to be inviting a horse-drawn sleigh with jingle bells to pass over the bridge. This painting comes from the Santa Monica period of Vladimir’s life. A time in sunny California, 1965 to 1974, which made Vladimir reminisce about his time in colder climates. He forgot how bad winter could be: the house calls to the farm at the very peak of the mountain in the Austrian Alps in waist-deep snow and the cold winters in Peoria when he was night physician on call for six thousand criminally insane (that is for another book). His car had to have an electric heating blanket covering the engine so he could start it.
To my knowledge, I am the first sculptor to incorporate the artistic rendering with a real object. In this sculpting, I took a real violin and have bronze hands positioned as if playing the violin. I call this piece Air on the G-String. Sometime between 1717 to 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote “Orchestration No. 3 in D Major.” Orchestration No. 3 did not get much exposure and languished in a drawer for around 150 years, very much like J.S. Bach’s other famous Opus, the six Brandenburg Concertos.
A very talented violinist thought to be Germany’s best violinist, also a friend of Richard Wagner, discovered Orchestration No. 3 in D Major. He re-scored it so that he could play it on just one string on the violin by changing the key to C Major and lowering the entire score one octave. That string happened to be the lowest string on the violin, the G-string. His name was August Wilhelmj. Audiences came to use the name “Air on the G-string for it.” It was an immediate success and remains so still today. You would recognize it instantly as it is frequently played at weddings. The G-string has a more lusty connotation. To learn more about it, you will have to wait for the book. I shall put out a notice when it is available.
I am shocked by the number of Representatives and Senators who are voting against aid to Ukraine, along with news anchors who have lost their way. Their reasoning for not supporting Ukraine is muddled and based on flawed thinking. I am sure there are reasons to hone and target the aid so as to be most effective without wastefully throwing money down the drain, but their logic is defective. I see any efforts to take support away from Ukraine as an effort to help Vladimir Putin. I hold to the principle that the enemy of my friend is my enemy.
I must disclose that I am of Ukrainian descent. I cannot be convinced that ostrich-like behavior is in the best interest of our country. Isolationism didn’t work to contain Hitler, and it won’t work for Putin either. But I have a brain, and I have a family history (see my books Tales from my Hometown and Tales of a Country Surgeon) going back eighty years which makes me very knowledgeable about Putin’s mindset. He is just like Stalin, who almost murdered my parents, and imprisoned my grandmother in the Siberian Gulags for thirteen years. Stalin is the man whom Putin wants to emulate. Putin has, on numerous occasions, explained his thinking. Just listen to his speeches and read his essays of the last decade. His aim is to restore Russia to its former glory and strength. The world also failed to heed Mein Kampf, which outlined Hitler’s mindset. Do these dense politicians and news anchors not understand that this is a proxy war where Ukrainians are dying in our place? Putin, unless defeated, will continue his insanity. Moldova is next because Putin needs to protect the 500,000 people of Transnistria, the eastern breakaway sliver of Moldova, from the supposed “Nazis.” After that, the Baltics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also need liberation by bombing them to smithereens. If he is successful, NATO is next. Now with Norway and Sweden at his doorstep, he is even more nervous. The real target is us. Putin controls 6,257 Nuclear Weapons, of the megaton flavor, with 1,357 pointed at us. That would be more than enough. He is a sick man physically and mentally. He does not care if he gets out of this alive. He will die regardless, and he does not care whom he takes with him. World War III does not frighten him. He wants history to remember him as the savior of Mother Russia.
Eighty-one Senators voted for aid to Ukraine, but eleven Republican Senators did not! Those who opposed the plan were Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Rand Paul (Ky.), and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.). The Senate is not the only body that has misguided members among them. These Republican Representatives are also challenged: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Dan Bishop (N.C.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Scott Perry (Pa.), and Tom Tiffany (Wis.) voted against the bill. The stated objections were all mind-boggling non-sequiturs like we have no baby formula, the southern border is our major problem, and Fentanyl is the primary killer in this country we need to address. All true but not related. I would be very interested in how to get baby formula out of Howitzers. And how exactly will aid to Ukraine allow more illegal aliens to cross the Rio Grande? That will only be solved by a new administration running the border. Fentanyl overdoses have no relation to aiding Ukraine. That is a problem related to our permissive society and the drugs made in China which we allow the cartels to bring across the leaky border.
Lack of oversight was another issue. How do you oversee Howitzers anyway? They are not going into someone’s basement to be sold off later. Even unsupervised Howitzers will help Ukraine defeat the man who wants to nuke us before he can push the button. Ukraine is fighting for Europe and us. If it were not for them, our boys would be dying over there. If Putin wins, NATO will be forced to put boots on the ground, and guess what? We are part of NATO. Article five in the NATO charter states that if one member is attacked, all member states are obligated to come to its defense, and voilá, we are involved.
The Kremlin, meaning Vladimir Putin, claims that the atrocities are staged by Ukrainian Nazis, to shift the blame on Russia and to incite world outrage against them. Here are the problems with that. It is difficult to believe a man who has lied to you repeatedly from the outset: that would be Vladimir Putin. “We are not going to invade Ukraine!” he said. Then he did. “We are not attacking civilians,” then he did. Maternity hospitals and shelters had inscriptions on the pavement. “Children” were bombed – with 400 fatalities. Pictures, witnesses, and international organizations that watch for War Crimes testify. All counter Putin’s lies. The Jewish population and their Rabbis, who are Ukrainian national figures, deny Nazi presence in Ukraine. Russians pull out and within hours there are 400 bodies of executed civilians in the streets and in mass graves. The Russians claim these are staged after they left Bacha. It takes time to kill 400 people and excavate mass graves. The Nazis had to work awfully fast to kill all those people from the time the last Russian tanks rolled out, to before the bodies were discovered. There was not enough time for the Nazis to get in and tie all those people’s hands and shoot them in the head. Actually, satellite pictures show many of the bodies in the exact position in the streets as they are now, weeks before the Russians pulled out at the time they were in control of the town. I suppose the Nazis snuck in at night while the Russians were sleeping. International journalists testify and show us pictures of the dead. There are witnesses. There is satellite and drone video, and cell phone video. The lies are staggering and easily refuted. Do they think we are that gullible?
Putin and his Generals are war criminals, very much like Hitler, Göring, and, Göbels, etc. only documented better. You don’t need any more convincing evidence than the bombed-out apartment buildings in Mariupol to see the perfidious lies of the Kremlin. No Nazis lived there.
Are those bombed-out buildings part of the pretend destruction, along with the crisis actors, and those buildings are just photoshopped and made to look like civilian apartments? Putin and his henchmen must think we are blind too.
What are these atrocities? To kill unarmed civilians whose hands are tied behind them shows disregard for morality and civilized behavior: bombing apartment buildings and theaters where civilians are sheltering, taking a family out in the woods, and shooting Mayor Olga Sukhenko and her family, husband, and son after being tortured, then dumping their bodies in a mass grave. In Irpin, Russians shot women and girls and then drove tanks over their bodies. The lucky ones just got raped and had their tongues pulled out. Some of the bodies were rigged with tripwires to explode. Those are atrocities, and those are the kind that real Nazis commit.
In 1945 General Dwight David Eisenhower insisted on photographers taking pictures in the captured concentration camps of the mounds of corpses, because Eisenhower did not think the world would believe that human beings could inflict such monstrous despicable acts on fellow human beings. In one respect, Putin was right, there are Nazis, but as it turns out, he didn’t need to go to Ukraine to find them. They were right there in his own military, following his orders.
The signs are clear. The man has isolated himself from life. He does not allow anyone to come into his office, and only communicates by phone. No one can come within 40 feet of him. Speaking of social distancing! This has been going on for two years.
He exhibits signs of Paranoia. The world is against him. He just put his nuclear forces on high alert. He needs nukes to protect him. Ukraine is full of Nazis. He is saving the world by killing them all and de-Nazifying the world. This despite that there is not one shred of evidence of that. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, is a Jew. Three of his uncles were killed by Hitler. He won the election with overwhelming numbers. 70% of the Ukrainian people voted for him. And all the supposed “Nazis” are running away to Poland and the Nordic Nations, exactly the opposite of what Putin predicted. The unhinged mind uses different mechanisms than the normal mind. It projects its own internal demons onto others in order to cope. The population has not risen up to attack the Ukrainian leadership but has taken up arms against the invading Russian forces. Putin wants revenge for the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which he calls the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century, never mind the Holocaust, never mind World War I or World War II, never mind 9/11, never mind Covid-19. Putin’s mind is confused and warped. And who do you think he blames for the fall of the USSR? Hint, not Ukraine! He blames us, the USA! Condoleeza Rice states that he is a changed personality since she knew him. Others have also noted Putin’s erratic behavior and language. Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, has hinted of major health issues which he is reluctant to share at this time. Trust me, we are next on his list!
There is not one country that supports his actions. Even the Chinese urge reasonableness and negotiations to settle the differences. The problem is that insane people cannot reason. Their mind is clouded by faulty connections inside the brain. He has stopped listening to his advisers. Only he knows the truth!
My father was a Psychiatrist in a mega-hospital in the 1960s that institutionalized the criminally insane. At its peak, the hospital had 7,000 patients. As part of his compensation, he got a house for himself and our family. I grew up in an insane asylum! I had a paper route and delivered newspapers to those patients that still could recognize the difference between hallucinations and reality. I learned about Schizophrenia and Paranoia before medical school, and later I learned it again at Camarillo State Hospital where UCLA took us to learn about mental illness. It is what we are seeing in Vladimir Putin. The Russian people need to wake up. They will suffer from all the sanctions, not Putin. He is isolated and protected from all sanctions, and does not care about the suffering of his people. His inner circle must recognize his insanity and put him into a padded cell. All the Oligarchs have lost billions of Rubles. The Russian Stock market has gone down 30%, as SNL says to minus 90%.
Putin and Hitler have a similar mindset. Hitler, too became paranoid and started doing irrational things even against the advice of his top generals. Hitler marched into Poland, then Russia. and started bombing London. Putin is just like him. They should call him PUTLER. We must support the Ukrainian people because just like in Nazi Germany, if we don’t, we will suffer the same fate. If you fail to take action against an insane bully who attacks innocent people you become their next victim.
Russia’s one Achilles heel is its profits from oil. We must cut off those profits by becoming energy independent again before it is too late. We certainly cannot buy oil from Russia! Buying oil from them now is almost treason!
My father, Vladimir Iwasiuk, painted the picture above. My sister posed for the painting in the full Ukrainian traditional folk regalia, from the embroidered blouse and jacket to the headdress. This is what the country girls wore on festive days. But that was in the past. Ukraine has become a pawn in the chess game that Vladimir Putin is playing. Unfortunately, our President and the EU are playing checkers. I am of Ukrainian descent. My father was born in Czernowitz (the German version of the spelling), in western Ukraine. This was at a time when the Austro-Hungarian Empire happened to be the owner of that part of the world. Ukraine has never been blessed with unity.
Its borders and territories have been disputed by all of its neighbors, each claiming a piece of it at various times. Great heroes have risen to fight for Ukraine in all those battles. Taras Bulba, a Zaporozhina Cossack (referring to lands – wild fields – around the lower Dnieper River), was one of them at the time the Poles were tearing off a chunk of Ukraine for themselves. Yul Brynner played his character in the 1962 movie by that name, well worth watching to get the flavor of the Ukrainian nationalist spirit.
In the 10th and 11th Centuries, Ukraine was the MOST POWERFUL NATION in Europe! That era was ushered in by Vladimir the Great around the year 1000. Ukrainians are very proud of their heritage and resent being lumped together with Russians, as they so often are. More than 70% of Ukrainians belong to the Greek Orthodox Faith. Medieval Christianity split into an Eastern and a Western theology in 1054 AD at the time of Ukraine’s Golden Age. The division occurred over a variety of doctrinal issues, such as the Pope’s infallibility, the worship of icons, the marriage of priests, the understanding of the trinity, and the three-bar Orthodox cross. This cultural factor imparts Ukraine with a distinct Byzantine flavor in its architecture, art, and clothing; something you can appreciate in the painting above. If you have ever seen Pysanky, the Ukrainian Easter Eggs, you will notice the very intricate style typical of Ukrainian design. Much of the Ukrainian traditions, designs, and dress have all but disappeared except in the remote regions.
The current crisis in Ukraine reflects the turmoil of centuries of unrest. East Ukraine has been given the better soil and has been referred to as “the breadbasket” of Russia. While the western part of the country is grassland, where the Cossacks ruled. They had a remarkable ability to handle horses, probably in part due to their having domesticated the horse in the first place ca. 6000 years ago. The East has been coveted by Russia ever since Catherine the Great, who, in fact, was not Russian at all. She was a German princess who became the Czarina when her husband, Peter III, was murdered by her lover’s brother. She started populating the eastern area with German farmers to till its fertile fields.
It has been said, “Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.” This was not lost on Joseph Stalin (or on Vladimir Putin, for that matter). Stalin claimed Ukraine for his own and demanded unreasonable production quotas of grain. When the farmers couldn’t produce that much, he decided to “collectivize” the land (steal it) and have the state administer it. The Ukrainian farmers, known for their independent spirit, objected. He proceeded to kill 11,000,000 of them (eleven million!) in what has become known as the Holodomor (killing by starvation), an unprecedented decimation of a people that is now recognized among the several infamous genocides of recorded history. It overshadows the Holocaust in sheer numbers of murdered humans. Stalin himself confessed this “man’s inhumanity to man” to Winston Churchill in a conversation that took place on August 16, 1942, as recorded in Churchill’s memoirs. Stalin had all the intellectuals rounded up and deported to Siberia to further eliminate resistance, where about another half-million Ukrainians (men, women, and children) died from hunger and exposure. Ukraine lost 25% of its population during the Holodomor. Eastern Ukraine was resettled with mostly ethnic Russians from the north. That is why eastern Ukraine is now Russian-speaking, Russian culturally, and Russian friendly.
The Russians had already illegally annexed Crimea on March 1, 2014. To show their loyalty to Putin and display their unity with the just-completed invasion of Crimea, the trigger-happy pro-Russian “breakaway” separatists of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, commanded by Russian Intelligence Colonel, Igor Strelkov, downed Malaysian Airline Flight 17, of July 17, 2014, with a BUK Russian missile. The flight was routed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The separatists saw this as an invasion of “their airspace”. That was the death of 283 civilian passengers, including 80 children. The whole affair is a bitter and tragic consequence of social, economic, and military meddling with the hordes of useful idiots that were manipulated by the criminal minds of a couple of ruthless dictators, past and present, intoxicated by the elixir of limitless power. The blame was laid at the feet of Russia and Vladimir Putin by the European Court of Human Rights! Stalin set it up, and Putin lit the fuse.
Now Putin’s mission is to rebuild the old Soviet Union. He has the old Communist revisionist version of history and is in the process of putting the pieces of the puzzle back together. Georgia, Moldova, Crimea, Kazakhstan, Belarus, the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and now it appears the rest of Ukraine, all are examples of how Putin plans to restore the past. It started with Stalin’s murder of one-quarter of Ukraine’s population and replacing them with Russians who now claim it as their country.
On a personal note, my Ukrainian grandmother, on my father’s side, survived more than thirteen years of imprisonment in Siberia. When Nikita Khrushchev took over, and the de-Stalinification of Russia ensued, she was released at age 80 for her son’s crimes (my father) of evading Stalin’s clutches by escaping from the Soviet Union.
Putin sees the opportunity to strike. The EU is totally dependent on Russia for its energy supply. We have given up our energy independence by closing the Keystone pipeline and stopping fracking. Germany has closed its nuclear power plants. We are seeing unbridled brute force from Vladimir Putin, not exactly brilliant or masterful diplomacy skills. But nevertheless, if you are not considering statesmanship, what do you expect from the mindset of a former East German-trained mid-level ex-KGB agent? Exactly what you see!