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.

Leadership.

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, http://www.cartoons.ac.uk)

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.

Zelenskyy.

And so it goes.

Russia Onlys Respects Strength, West Needs To Show True Resolve Over Ukraine

What would Winston Churchill do?

Russian President Putin, the madman of Eastern Europe, has shown his true intentions with not only a brazen and deadly invasion of a sovereign nation but also with his openly stated purpose.

Gone are the calm days of the autocrat merely talking about ‘peace keeping’. Now it is all about conquest. His declaration of consuming all of Ukraine is no longer in doubt.

But then what is next for the dictator who makes Kim Jong-un look utterly sane?

This weekend it is reported that Putin’s powerful navy assets have been spotted in the Black Sea port of Odessa. Anyone with a geographical understanding of what that means has to ponder if a larger European conflict is being contemplated in Moscow.

The issue can not be discounted, as the very weakness in world resolve in the past is very much a consideration for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. When Putin ruthlessly broke international law and took Crimea no one stood up and said “NO”. Instead, there was a collective shaking of the head at ‘the bad little boy in Moscow’ and in so doing ‘Putin learned his lesson’.

The lesson Putin learned, however, was there were no repercussions to audacious and criminal moves. Many on the world stage pretended the sanctions which were applied due to that land grab would result in Putin leaving the rest of Ukraine and Europe alone.

Those with realpolitik as their foundation knew otherwise. Sanctions are a politically-inspired balm, a mere image in place of taking concrete actions. Sanctions will not stop a madman.

With tepid responses from the world community, there was also the Trump Administration which took moves year-after-year to undermine alliances and international organizations. Today it was reported former national security adviser John Bolton believed that Putin was “waiting” for a possible United States withdrawal from NATO. That is the result of Trump tossing aside decades of collective unity for his tawdry displays while in office when dealing with Putin, as outlined in The Hill.

The world community is concerned, and rightfully so about what comes next. While I appreciate the level of dread, as it is real, I do question the actual resolve from the world community to stop Putin. This week, NATO rejected the military move of creating a no-fly zone over Ukraine. They stated it would result in a military confrontation with Moscow. But it is that very type of messaging that Russia understands best.

A bully and killer on the world stage must not get clearance to continue the rampage. Or make additional threats. Up to now, Putin has done both, and promises to continue. The problem is that Russia for too long has thrown punches but does not receive in return an even more devastating counterpunch.

Let us be perfectly clear. A truly strident message of deterrence is what Russia understands, and respects. History makes the case. If we need to bump chests and eye the Russians down, then that is what we must do.

Putin feels that if he can demean and defeat our nation and Western Europe in the eyes of the world Russia can be akin to the ‘glory days’ of the USSR. To get to that point European nations will need to ponder if they might not have ‘peace keeping’ operations coming their way, too?

Without a more robust and truly diligent response to Putin, that may be the future.

And so it goes.

Donald Trump Being Compared To Winston Churchill Most Embarrassing Moment Of The Week

Before we get to the heart of this post lets define a word.

Vacuous is having or showing a lack of thought or intelligence; mindless.

maxresdefault

(We see why Donald Trump hired her.)

On Wednesday, after a week that had already produced an embarrassing and simply bizarre episode where Donald Trump walked from the White House across Lafayette Square to silently hold up a Bible in front of St John’s Church, had law enforcement disperse a peaceful protest, and threatened to use the federal military against U.S. citizens, came yet another stunning event from this pathetic administration.

The vacuous White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany compared Trump at the church to demonstrations of strength and solidarity by Winston Churchill.

When the breathtakingly stupid McEnany was asked at a news briefing why the president thought it was important to walk over to the church for the cameras, she explained that Trump “wanted to send a very powerful message that we will not be overcome by looting, by rioting, by burning.” She added, “Like Churchill, we saw him inspecting the bombing damage, it sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people.”

The ditzy press secretary clearly is not aware that there are few historical episodes more well known than the Battle of Britain.  Had she an ounce of historical reference she could recall the words Churchill used to help save democratic civilization.  Who can forget “Their finest hour”, “Blood, sweat and tears”, “Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration authorized the use of  “pepper balls,” a projectile munition that lofts irritant powder into the air, and “smoke canisters” to scatter the peaceful crowd then assembled Monday.  That was done so Trump could stand with a bible, just another book he does not read, in front of a church.  And McEnany thinks that merits comparison with Churchill!

london-bombings

Earlier this spring I finished The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.  It is a book that is sold in Washington, D.C. book stores and one McEnany seriously is in need of reading. (Someone can certainly help her with the larger words.)

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons.

Chapter 44: On a Quiet Blue Day

The day was warm and still, the sky blue above a rising haze. Temperatures by afternoon were in the nineties, odd for London. People thronged Hyde Park and lounged on chairs set out beside the Serpentine. Shoppers jammed the stores of Oxford Street and Piccadilly. The giant barrage balloons overhead cast lumbering shadows on the streets below. After the August air raid when bombs first fell on London proper, the city had retreated back into a dream of invulnerability, punctuated now and then by false alerts whose once-terrifying novelty was muted by the failure of bombers to appear. The late-summer heat imparted an air of languid complacency. In the city’s West End, theaters hosted twenty-four productions, among them the play Rebecca, adapted for the stage by Daphne du Maurier from her novel of the same name. Alfred Hitchcock’s movie version, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, was also playing in London, as were the films The Thin Man and the long-running Gaslight.

It was a fine day to spend in the cool green of the countryside.

The Luftwaffe came at teatime . . .

Just how many inept characters are in the Trump administration?  A shockingly high number as we are learning.

Simply embarrassing for the nation.

Video: Gregory Humphrey’s Historical Minute…Winston Churchill

People around the nation are doing an array of things online to amuse themselves and entertain others during this pandemic.  Some are showcasing cooking skills with new recipes or singing and playing musical instruments.  Some are reading poems or telling a joke or two each day.

Since I like to try new things and use technology I started playing with the self-video function of my i-Pad (how did I live without one for so long!) and came upon an idea.  With my love of history why not a short and amusing story via social media?  It should be noted that my first effort below ran to two minutes…… I am much closer to the mark with future videos.

I will try to make a video for each workday for the remainder of our state’s stay at home requirements.    You can find them on this blog site and also on my Facebook page.

Letter From Home “Self-Isolating With Winston Churchill” 3/26/20

All residents of Wisconsin, along with millions around the nation, are finding ways to self-distance and remain safe during this pandemic.  I assume that for some people being in the basement in a workshop, or gathering ingredients from the pantry and baking, or pulling out the sewing machine and starting on a project are perfect ways to be creative while adhering to governmental orders so to curtail the virus.

As for myself, the perfect place for self-distancing can be found on the third floor of our home in a window seat. It is almost as if when this floor was built the dimensions were made specifically for me.  I can sit for long stretches of time with a book in hand and hot coffee in a cup nearby and feel perfectly at home.  Unless there is a vehicle without a muffler, or someone slamming garbage can lids, there is no outside noise to be heard. With no phones upstairs there is no one to call and disturb the peace.

0F830BD1-EBB2-4C3C-84ED-EEDAC18A3682

All my life I have found the reading nooks which have been cocoons of sorts, insulating me from the world noise and the stresses of life. This current spot is also a cocoon from the virus that has spread far too widely, not only in Madison, but around the country.

Sitting under a very large oak tree on the front lawn of my Hancock home, while I was a boy, started my love of finding the right place to read the right book. I discovered Ian Fleming and the adventures of James Bond under that tree back as a boy, and throughout my life I have worked to locate those perfect places for reading whether it was an apartment I was renting, or now the home that James and I own.

The other night as I sat here in this window seat a rather heavy rain was falling on the isthmus. And I again rejoiced in the soothing sounds as the drops hit against the windows and plopped down on the roof. For many years when living in an apartment that sound had been denied to me.  But once we bought the top two floors of this house the sound of my boyhood, when the skies open up, can again can be thoroughly enjoyed.

Today I am reading about Winston Churchill and throughly enjoying his profoundly funny and perfect comedic timing in the delivery of his lines, either when spoken in the House of Commons, in a diary entry. Churchill: Walking With Destiny by Andrew Roberts is simply a brilliant book.  I am reading Chapter 14, the years of the Great Crash and the economic implosion.

Churchhill has told a friend that his sole consolation over the Dardanelles disaster was “that God wished things to be prolonged in order to sicken man-kind of war, and that therefore he had interfered with a project that would have brought the war to a speedier conclusion”. Churchill was deeply involved with that military operation, and it was a colossal failure.  His opining on God’s role in it was really quite wickedly funny.  Churchill also declared that the existence of the Almighty could be deduced by “the existence of Lenin and Trotsky, “for whom a hell is needed”.

The author also describes how on September 21, 1929, when Churchhill is taking a three-month tour of Canada and the United States, he will meet Charlie Chaplin at a large party.  Chaplin was perhaps the most famous actor in the world at the time and despite his support for communism, which he absolutely abhorred, Churchill got on very well with him. It is just yet another example of how Churchhill was not allowing politics to prejudice friendship.

Charlie Chaplin will visit Chartwell, the wonderful home of Churchill in Britain, in 1931. Churchill’s children managed to persuade him to do his boiler hat and walking stick routine. Churchill asked Chaplin what role he was playing next and Chaplin answered Jesus Christ.  Churchill quips, “Have you cleared the rights?”

Winston Churchill often found himself at the center of historic moments throughout his entire life, and so it probably comes as no surprise he will actually be on Wall Street on Black Thursday.  The very next day from directly under his window in the Savoy Plaza Hotel a man will throw himself 15 stories down to the pavement causing as Churchill reported “ a wild commotion and the arrival of the fire brigade”.

We all need to find our sources of strength during this pandemic. We need to find our outlets so we can continue to be challenged with ideas, moved by humor, and filled with optimism. History books often allow for all that to happen and we can do ourselves a great deal of good by stepping back away from the news, from time to time, and entering a world of books.  Learning new things and understanding that there is always a better tomorrow. We can get through this pandemic. Stay safe.

Find your special place and turn the pages.

EFD00E53-EDB8-4194-AC11-587656DD6BC6

 

 

Winton Churchill Insights Galore, Andrew Roberts Excels With Research in Powerful Book

I have three or four books going at any given time, and today I read another chapter in the just amazing New York Times bestseller Churchill: Walking With Destiny by Andrew Roberts.  Chapter 13 concludes with the miner’s strike in Britain in 1926.  (Page 323 and we are still in 1926!  This is a thorough account of Winston, and as a biography, it is stunning in scope.)  Also, once again, are the inclusions about his personal life which allows for a most remarkable multi-dimensional character to form.

For all the history books I have enjoyed over the decades this is my first Churchill read, and it is crafted so that there is no way to have only one, or two, or three views of this world leader.  Each chapter leaves me with a new side of the man to contemplate.

In 1923 Churchill will write to his wife, Clementine, “a dissertation on dining room chairs” which stated that “the dining room chair has certain very marked requisites.  It needs to be comfortable have arms and be compact, and in the back had to be almost perpendicularly over the legs.  There also needed to be no fewer than 20 of them. Meals around the circular table in Chartwell’s (one of his residences) dining room would last “two or sometimes three hours as repartee and argument flash to and fro or long remembered lines of verse and prose poured forth in torrents.”

Large numbers of animals lived at Chartwell, too, over the years.  There were two faithful red-orange poodles, black swans from Australia, a Canadian goose called the “Flag Lieutenant” because he reminded Churchhill of a naval officer.   The Churchills started keeping bees so the family could have their own honey for tea. Clementine, having been a member of the Kent beekeepers association for several years. Twenty years later Churchill ordained that the Chartwell strawberries when sold locally, all be packed with their noses facing down to emphasize the freshness.

On the common land above the Chartwell estate lived Mr. and Mrs. ‘Donkey” Jack, a Ronany couple. Churchhill paid for Jack’s funeral in 1933 saving him from a pauper’s grave and when his widow was evicted by the local council he offered to get a place in a home for her at his own expense.  She nonetheless preferred to camp in a shack in the woods for the rest of her life which he allowed.  These personal acts of generosity were not known about outside the family at the time, but they came naturally to Churchhill.

During the miner’s strike, a most remarkable story unfolds.  It involves Churchhill on May 9 of 1926 wanting to commandeer the BBC which was unnecessary as it already supported the government. In so doing he made an enemy for life of Sir John Reith, it’s general director and subsequently kept him off the airwaves for much of the 1930s and expressed his loathing of him in his diaries even when Churchill was serving in his wartime government.

An amazing story!   An amazing book!

DoZ6omjXcAAb1sy