The Ukrainian Invasion is a Both a Premonition and a Warning

It’s easy to take democracy for granted. It is only when it is on the brink of destruction that we remember how fragile and important it is.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday morning. The estimated number of casualties as of Thursday night was 137. While the rest of the world sanctions, condemns, and protests the actions of the Russian military, Putin acts as if he has every right to take over a sovereign nation.

In a previous post about this topic, I compared the invasion to when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. A more appropriate comparison is the German takeover of Poland in 1939. This event, as we all know, was the opening salvo of the European theater of World War II.

As both a Jew and an American whose family left Eastern Europe more than a century ago, I am scared and horrified on two points. The first is that Putin claims that he needs to “de-Nazify” Ukraine. Putting aside (momentarily) the continued misuse of the Holocaust-related language and imagery, he ignores the known fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also a member of the Jewish faith. Anyone with half a brain can easily see through what is nothing more than a flimsy excuse.

Among the many pieces of video that have been released, the one I find most heartbreaking is the man saying goodbye to his wife and daughter as he prepares to fight for his country. I don’t know about anyone else, but seeing this exchange was nothing short of gutwrenching.

I am equally horrified that several prominent members of the American right (i.e. Republicans) are loudly and proudly flying their pro-Putin flag. What was that about America First? More like Russia First.

I believe that this is a turning point in world history that cannot be ignored. We have two choices. We can pull a Neville Chamberlain and let Putin steamroll over Europe. Or, we can fight back and ensure that our children live in a world in which democracy is respected and protected.


Darkest Hour Movie Review

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest politicians and orators of the 20th century. He will go down in history as one of the men who saved Europe, democracy and Western civilization from the Nazis.

The new movie, Darkest Hour, starts off as World War II is beginning to engulf Europe. Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) is being forced to resign as Prime Minister due to his inability to lead the country during wartime become obvious. His chosen successor is Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman), whose reputation up to this point is not flawless. Churchill’s wife, Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) convinces her husband to take the position. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) is hired as Churchill’s personal secretary. He is not the easiest man to work for.

Churchill has a choice to make. There is the possibility of making a deal with Germany and stopping the war in its tracks. Or, they could fight, knowing full well that lives will be lost in the process.

This movie is pure Oscar bait. Oldman’s performance is  truly exceptional. He is so good that I thought that at times, I was watching a documentary about Winston Churchill rather than watching a film with a fictional narrative and actor Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill. I also appreciated that instead of putting Churchill on a pedestal, he is shown as a flawed human being who is suddenly thrust into a job that requires a decision that will forever change not just the fate of Europe, but the whole world.

I absolutely recommend it.

Darkest Hour is in theaters. 


Downton Abbey Series 6 Episode 5 Recap: Edith Has A Man (And A Good One To Boot), Andy Finally Gets A Story Line And Robert Pukes Up His Guts (Literally) At The Dinner Table

As usual this recap contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.


  • The issue regarding the hospital and Cora’s (Elizabeth McGovern) concerns about Robert (Hugh Bonneville) health finally come to a head. No wait, that was the blood coming out of Robert like a scene of out of the Exorcist. Neville Chamberlain (Rupert Frazer) (yes, that Neville Chamberlain) in 1925 is the Minister of Health and invited by the Dowager (Dame Maggie Smith) in hopes that she will win regarding the hospital. The only one that wins that night is the person who will receive overtime in their paycheck for washing the blood out of Robert’s clothes and the tablecloth. Robert’s ulcer burst at the perfect time. That’s a family dinner for you. Though I don’t think that will be enough to convince Cora and Isobel (Penelope Wilton) to change their minds.
  • Did anyone notice that Marigold never speaks, nor shows any sign of emotion? In what could be one of the cutest scenes this series, Robert and Cora are babysitting the grandchildren. Sybbie (Fifi Hart) and George (played by twins Zac and Oliver Barker) pepper their grandparents with questions while Marigold is curiously silent. I sometimes wonder if this child is suffering from some sort of PTSD after being taken from the Drewes.
  • I may be a feminist, but I am rooting for Edith (Laura Carmichael) to finally lose the title of the Edwardian Jan Brady. The first kiss between Edith and Bertie Pelham (Harry Haddon-Paton) held the promise of what I hope will be a happy and satisfying relationship. Let’s hope that between this relationship and the new editor she hired for the sketch, Edith will finally be happy.
  • Speaking of relationships, Tom (Allen Leech) is trying to convince Mary (Michelle Dockery) to go full throttle for Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode). This is of course, during a car race in which Henry is participating. Mary tries to shrug it off as she always does. Whether it Mary’s usual playing hard to get or she is reliving the death of Matthew (Dan Stevens), only time will tell.
  • Tom has found his professional future. He will fix cars for a living. Appropriate.


  • If you have noticed that I have not spoken of Andy (Michael Fox) so far this series. That’s because he has been background fodder so far. This episode, he finally had his own story line. In helping Daisy (Sophie McShera), Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) and Mr. Mason (Paul Copley) setup Yew Tree far as his own, Andy offers to help Mr. Mason with the pigs. Naturally,  Mr. Mason offers him some books to read to learn the basics. Then we discover that Andy cannot read. Thomas (Rob James-Collier), in his helpful but creepy uncle manner offers to help Andy. I wouldn’t take the offer.
  • Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) may be experienced in many things, but marriage he is not. When he indirectly insults Mrs. Hughes’s (Phyllis Logan) due to her lack of kitchen experience, she takes it with a smile. Let’s hope Carson slept in his bed and not on the couch.
  • Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) have yet to have any pregnancy trouble. I’m crossing fingers that they have a healthy child.
  • Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) is asked to testify at the trial of the man who responsible for her prison term. Molesley (Kevin Doyle) offers to join Baxter. I’m wondering if we will be at 3/3 for downstairs romance at this point.
  • The merry war at the Dowager house comes to a boil before taking an interesting twist. First Denker (Sue Johnston) makes a comment to Dr. Clarkson (David Robb) about the hospital issue. That get’s back to the Dowager house and Denker is given her walking papers. Buuut, before she walks out the door, she reminds Spratt (Jeremy Swift), whose first name we learn is Septimus, that he briefly sheltered his convict nephew under the Dowager’s roof. That got her job re-instated real quick.


Robert’s ulcer bursting during dinner, especially with the hospital disagreement hanging in the air was the perfect out of left field moment. Well, it was not so left field, but that is not when one expects to sit down to dinner with the English aristocracy.

Dowager moment of the week: Not the Dowager, but Mary, who in  50 years, will hopefully be in her grandmother’s place. After dinner, Tom and Mary are discussing how to keep Downton afloat with Robert. “Long live our Queen Mary”. Here here.

See you next week.

World War III, Here We Come

At the end of the 1930’s, the world was still healing from the wounds created by the first World War. The emotional embers were still burning when world leaders, led by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, hoping to avert a second World War brokered a deal with Nazi Germany.  In that deal, their hope was that peace was the future of the world. It was not, war was.

It is quite obvious to myself and anyone who pays attention to the news that Iran is not to be trusted. But yet, President Obama, Secretary Of State John Kerry and other heads of governments around the world made a “peace accord” with Iran. I’m willing to bet that soon it won’t be worth more than the paper it is printed on.

Looking back at the nearly 8 years of the Obama administration, I wonder what history will say about this time in American history? On one hand, a man of mixed racial heritage in the white house is a huge leap forward. But if one were to examine his record as President a little closely, there are inconsistencies. He may not be Jimmy Carter, but he is coming pretty close.

History will be the judge of the outcome of this deal. But I have a sneaking suspicion that World War III may be the outcome. And if that is the case, Nagasaki and Hiroshima will look like child’s play compared to what may be ahead of us.

Fun stuff, right? Happy Wednesday.

Is Barack Obama The Neville Chamberlain Of Our Era?

The world of the 1930’s was not an easy one to live in. The Great Depression had caused the economy around the world to collapse. Millions were out of work. The Great War, in which an entire generation of men were killed, was still on minds of those who lived through it.

In Germany, the Nazi Party was in power. The song, Deutschland über alles was heard throughout the country. It would soon be heard throughout Europe.

War was in the air, again.

Hoping to appease the Germans and prevent another war, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain offered the Czechoslovakian area known as the Sudetenland to the Nazis as a peace offering. Instead of appeasing the Germans and preventing war, it opened the floodgates to World War II.

Very recently, President Obama has been insisting that the nuclear deal with Iran is mutually beneficial.

I disagree. Instead of making deals with Iran and hoping that they will keep their end of the bargain, we should be drawing a hard and fast line. That line states that they disarm and hand over all nuclear weapons.

But President Obama knows better or at least, he thinks he does. I just worry if he will finally change his mind when nuclear bombs, courtesy of Iran, hit cities like Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Rome, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles and finally, his hometown of Chicago.

Is Barack Obama the Neville Chamberlain of our era? Unequivocally, yes.

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