Americans Cheer President Biden On President’s Day, Democracy Emboldened With Kyiv Trip

On Presidents Day our nation takes time to reflect on those public servants who have shined in positive ways while demonstrating their abilities as leaders. Schoolchildren learn about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in their classrooms.  This year we all are holding Jimmy Carter close in our thoughts as he deals with the rigors of aging and illness.  But very early this morning we were presented with a major headline-making move that proves why President Joe Biden is the man we are most thinking about on this holiday. He became the first modern president to travel to a war zone not under the control of American forces and make a proud stand for democracy in the world.

Upon awakening, we learned Biden made a most impressive trip to underscore our national commitment—along with the Western allies—in standing forthrightly alongside the people of the sovereign nation of Ukraine.  Apart from the stunning optics of a president in a war zone after taking a most incredible journey from Washington across the ocean and then by train to Kyiv, the whole world can truly rejoice in a solid display that shows democracy and personal freedom still outshine autocrats and the attempt to dismantle international law.  Without a doubt, it was the most powerful and timely message that could be sent on such a day.

“Russia’s aim was to wipe Ukraine off the map. Putin’s war of conquest is failing,” President Biden said. “Putin thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. … I don’t think he’s thinking that right now.”  The verbal slaps that Putin took today were much softer than the military blistering his troops are suffering as reports of mounting casualty rates come in from eastern Ukraine.

What intrigued me from the early hours today were the logistics of Biden getting to Kyiv. The security apparatus that surrounds a president traveling just to DeForest, Wisconsin is remarkable, so the moves made to get Biden to the place where so many hearts have turned to in the past year are beyond staggering. Perhaps the best short version of the events that unfolded was reported by CBS News.

Before dawn on Sunday, Mr. Biden and his team boarded an Air Force plane that had its shades drawn and sat in a dark hanger at Joint Base Andrews. Instead of flying on the usual 747, Mr. Biden flew on a smaller C-32. The plane’s call sign was changed from “Air Force One” to “Special Air Mission 60.” 

The group traveling with Mr. Biden was also kept to a minimum and sworn to secrecy. Instead of the larger group of press that travels with the president, two journalists were allowed to document the trip — Wall Street Journal reporter Sabrina Siddiqui and Associated Press photographer Evan Vucci. 

The plane stopped briefly in Germany — still with its shades down — to refuel before the aircraft’s transponder was turned off for the next flight to a Polish airbase near the Ukraine border. 

From there, Mr. Biden, his aides, security apparatus and the press drove about an hour to Przemyśl Główny train station, located near the border of Poland and Ukraine. The motorcade of at least 20 vehicles did not use sirens — as the president’s motorcade usually does — to avoid drawing attention to itself. 

The motorcade pulled up to a train that also had its shades mostly drawn and the occupants boarded for a 10-hour journey to Kyiv. Along the way, the train stopped a handful of times, at least once to pick up more security. All the while, U.S. surveillance flights kept watch from Polish airspace. 

A couple of hours before Mr. Biden arrived in Kyiv, the U.S. gave Russia a heads up in a brief and “very straightforward way” through a “deconfliction channel,” Sloat said. 

The train pulled into the Kyiv-Pasazhyrsky station after sunrise Monday. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink awaited Mr. Biden and his staff on the platform. 

“It’s good to be back in Kyiv,” Mr. Biden said after stepping off the train. 

Mr. Biden was then ushered away in another motorcade to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He spent about six hours in Kyiv before heading to the train station for the 10-hour journey back to Poland

It was noted here as we watched coverage of the trip that it stands in stark contrast to another person once in the Oval Office who was not able to attend a WWII ceremony in Paris because it rained. Today President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were on the streets of Kyiv even as an air-raid siren sounded. The historically relevant message, both in words and images, from Biden to the Russian autocratic thug in Moscow was supremely important as too often some in the world get mixed messages about the durability and sustainably of liberal democracy.

Russia has upped the ante and escalated hostilities in Eastern Ukraine as Putin pushes forward with a continuing desire of projecting his revisionist history on a world that has read a few books of factual accounts about the past. While he wishes to portray his war as somehow ‘patriotic’ and perhaps even will increase mobilization in a nation that has suffered tremendous loss of lives on the battlefield comes an awareness, surely, that his grip on power is weakened by this horror. What he is doing to Ukraine will not be allowed to succeed, and history will record his downfall. There will be no revised version in any library.

Since Putin does not allow free and unfettered journalism in Russia let me place here what the newspaper headline would read if able to be published in Red Square.

West Marshals Forward In Ukraine, Not To Relent When Confronted By Tyrant

Just so Putin need not ask for a translation I used an online service.

Маршалы Запада продвигаются по Украине, чтобы не смягчаться при столкновении с тираном

Either way, it means the same thing. American Resolve.

Most Important News Photo From February 8th, 2023, The West Has Vested Interests In Defeating Putin

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

While much of the nation ruminated over the disgusting rancor and deep embarrassment caused by some despicable Republicans at the State of the Union Address the international community was paying attention to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.  While conservative Republicans needed to explain away the truly monkey-like behavior from some of their caucus, the world was focused on Ukraine’s mission of “wings for freedom”. Leadership abroad and the severe lack of it within the GOP were on full display.

The pacing of sending the needed military weapons to the forces in Ukraine who are fighting with courage and success has been a concern on this blog for the past year.  There is no doubt that sending combat aircraft to help turn the tide against Russia’s offensive is a vital and essential aspect in the defense of a nation that underscores what can happen when the international order is threatened by an autocrat. Whatever reluctance remains to take that step with military aircraft, just as the case with top-grade tanks, must be removed sooner rather than later. 

I have been concerned with the stodgy process, as any reasoned person would be, regarding high-end military hardware getting to the places where it can do the best in reclaiming territory taken by Russian soldiers. While I applaud the promise from Britain to train Ukrainian fighter pilots to fly “sophisticated NATO-standard fighter jets” I am mindful of the troubling end of that sentence being “in the future”.  As noted in this blog, the process of consideration and study within the White House and among the Western powers requires some modification to meet the real-time needs of the Ukrainian soldiers who are doing the work on the battlefield.

Our nation has a vested interest, a “national interest” using the parlance from the days of my youth when the Cold War was raging, to use our international power to help defeat Russian President Putin’s efforts to re-vision the geo-political map.  I recall the words from my history teacher who fled Europe for these shores as Hitler came to power.  She made it clear that President Franklin Roosevelt did not beef up his moves on Europe due to a real threat to our homeland, but his awareness of what happens due to a real threat to the destruction of the liberal order of governments and world order should tyrants’ rule.  I suppose my views opposing illiberal moves that now are seen in places from Italy to Hungary, etc., started in that classroom with those real-world conversations.  

Our national interest today, as we stand with Ukraine is to defend a sovereign nation against a military threat from a thug who would not stop at the destruction of one nation.  And with that destruction is the dagger that would rip into the heart of the liberal world order.  Ukraine must have the military jets they need to fight today, so to prevent a larger disaster upon the world.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Time Person Of Year, Democracy Wins Again

I am so very pleased to learn this news tonight. TIME magazine released the Person of the Year edition, and it was not only the best decision that could be made for the cover but without argument the only decision for the person of the year.

In February 2022, I predicted that this would be the ultimate outcome this year. Every year since I was, much younger, I have made a prediction for the cover of this magazine as the year closes out. The world may not be united on many things given the array of conflicts and issues which divide and splinter nations and peoples. Still, the newsworthy and importance of this man, and the shaping of world events he impacted, means there is worldwide agreement tonight. Zelensky is the man parents everywhere wish their child to emulate for values, resolve, and character.

I wrote last winter the following, and it still very much applies tonight.

Democracy matters. It must be fought for. It can never be taken for granted.

When so many from Madison’s legislature to Moscow, from Trump Tower to Beijing either dismiss democracy or work feverishly to undermine it comes a refreshing– and, oh, so needed reminder–as to why we must never be lackadaisical about its continuance.

With steadfast resolve, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is leading not only his nation but being a teacher to the world.

And the world is watching.

There is no way not to feel his commitment to justice and sincere regard for democracy. There is no way not to fully grasp his correct desire for a heightened international repudiation of Russian thuggery.

When this year ends it will be near impossible to consider anyone more elevated and deserving to be Person of the Year than Volodymyr Zelenskyy. May God keep him and his family safe.

What Next After Tears And Standing Ovation For President Zelensky In War-Time Speech To Congress?

It was something our nation has not seen in a very long time. A powerful, moving, emotional, and dramatic presentation about the need for good to overcome evil in this world.

This morning Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a most unusual and need I say rare wartime virtual speech urged Congress to stand more fully with his nation. After giving his thanks for the support from the United States thus far, he spoke for military items that have been urged for on this blog in recent weeks as the Russian military pounds and kills in Ukraine.

Zelensky urged for aid so to help close the sky over his country to Moscow’s weapons, asked that his defiant and strong-willed nation be provided more effective surface-to-air defenses, and made it known all American companies should quit doing business in Russia at once.

His words could not have been more plain and direct.

“In the darkest time for our country, for the whole of Europe, I call on you to do more.”

The address was heard by the entire Congress on a large screen in a theater-style auditorium under the Capitol. With the gravity of the hour upon the shoulders of freedom-loving people worldwide, Zelensky stated “we need you right now.”

The powerful words and image of a brave Churchillian-type figure brought tears to the eyes of some lawmakers and a resounding standing ovation. He concluded his historic address by speaking in English.

“To be the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.”

It was an address loaded with precision about the United States and this moment in time. We absolutely need to be mindful of not only what he said, but who we are.

Our nation remains a world leader, as our mission is clear and our strength undeniable. Our might comes not only with military hardware and trained members of the services but also with a firm set of principles and ideals that have global appeal.

With a dictator invading, killing, threatening, and blustering on the world stage it then demands that the standard-bearers for democracy and freedom do the part that history demands. Our ideals call us to stand up. We simply need to intervene in a far more powerful and effective manner with this madness in Ukraine.

So what happens now after the members of Congress head back to their offices?

“My hope is that what comes out of today’s discussion with President Zelensky and all of us working together in a bipartisan basis is to tighten the sanctions immediately, is to provide more armaments that they actually need to defend themselves … and give them a fighting chance to protect themselves,” said Sen. Rob Portman who is the co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus. 

This blog stands with the use of the warplanes from Poland for use in Ukraine. The rather sad spectacle of the Biden Administration rebuffing Poland’s offer to send MiG-29 jets to Ukraine via a U.S. military base in Germany was not this nation’s finest moment over the past weeks. Referring to the planes Zelensky today said, “You know they exist. You have them, but they are on earth, not in the Ukrainian sky.”

After the address, Biden correctly announced new military assistance for Ukraine that will include anti-aircraft defenses, drones, and other weaponry. The new aid will help provide 800 anti-aircraft systems to combat Russian planes; 9,000 anti-armor systems to help destroy Russian tanks and armored vehicles; 7,000 small arms such as machine guns and shotguns; and a total of 20 million rounds that includes artillery and mortar. 

While I strongly support President Biden, and find him an honorable leader, I am concerned about some reticence and foot-dragging with some aspects to Putin’s war of aggression. I want more resolve and impactful decisions that will hit hard on the ground in Ukraine.

I read a column this month in The New York Times which ended with a theme I have thought to be essential when talking about Ukraine.

Long before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt understood that America could not be indifferent to Britain’s fate, even with the odds so overwhelmingly against it. At a meeting in Britain in January 1941, his closest adviser, Harry Hopkins, used the words of the Book of Ruth to convey to Churchill the feelings the two Americans shared:

“Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” Then he added, “Even to the end.”

That is precisely how I feel today.

And so it goes.

President Zelensky Mirrors Winston Churchill, Leads Crusade Against Tyranny

News stories from Eastern Europe detailing the horrific actions of Russians against Ukrainians are enough to almost crush the spirit of anyone following the news. The photos and videos of the relentless depravity of firing missiles into civilian areas, causing deaths and severe injuries, hit the soul of anyone learning of the events.

As the international community ponders how best to respond to Moscow’s Madman, Russian President Putin, there is one person who has stood erect and remains sure-footed about saying what needs to happen.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not slip out of his country when the bombs started to fall. He does not mince words about the thug from Moscow who is on a war of conquest. Instead with resolve, conviction, and utter determination Zelenskyy is providing the world something not seen in such quantity in a very long time.


In just 14 days Zelenskyy has been placed alongside another brave man from the pages of history. Winston Churchill was the essential leader in Britain when the bombs started to fall as a result of another madman. While it certainly takes a ruthless and evil person, Hitler then and Putin now, to create conditions that demand a strong reaction from a leader, let us not forget what else is essential to leadership.

Character. Perhaps I should add, character above all. Zelenskyy has in volumes what Churchill also possessed. It needs noting Putin never possessed character–not even a ruble’s worth.

Zelenskyy has become the most recognized man around the globe. Clearly slated to be Time magazine’s Person of the Year. With absolute courage, a forthright attitude, and seemingly endless energy he is marshaling his people to do all it takes to win. And he is asking, pleading, demanding, and in the end trusting that the world community will all do their part, too, in helping Ukraine not fall to a totalitarian monster.

This morning above the fold in The New York Times the story about Zelenskyy had a Churchillian feel. It made for shivers up my arm as I read the news story.

In a dramatic video address to Britain’s Parliament, clad in his now-famous military fatigue T-shirt, Mr. Zelensky echoed Winston Churchill’s famous words of no surrender to the same chamber at the dawn of World War II as Britain faced a looming onslaught from Nazi Germany.

“We will fight till the end, at sea, in the air,” Mr. Zelensky said with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag draped behind him. “We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”

The speech, the first-ever by a foreign leader to the House of Commons, was the climax of Mr. Zelensky’s darkest-hour messaging to fellow Ukrainians and the world in what has become a typical 20-hour day for him in Kyiv, the besieged capital.

There is a famous political cartoon from history that shows where Churchill was in the 1940s. We know in Ukraine Zelensky now leads in much the same way. With steely resolve.

All Behind You, Winston.” Created by David Low, Evening Standard, 14 May 1940. Front row: Churchill, Attlee, Bevin, Morrison, Amery. Visible behind them are Chamberlain, Halifax, Sinclair, Duff Cooper, and Eden. (British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent,

Elsewhere there is no shortage of current political cartoons and front pages of newspapers that underscore the linkage between these two world leaders. While no one can write history until it plays out, I know who has almost the entire world praying for him and his people.


And so it goes.