Tag Archives: politics

Zelinsky Speaks to the Swiss

I can’t think of a better use of this space this week than to post the following words, an address by the President of Ukraine to the people of Switzerland. We should all take notice. Everyone who values their freedom must be willing to fight for it.

My greetings to all Swiss friends of Ukraine! To all your beautiful people, the people of Switzerland!

I am grateful to you for supporting our people.

Thank you for defending freedom together with all those who value it.

This is very important now. Nowadays. At a special time period.

And especially important – from you.

When terror became the national idea of one of the largest nations in the world. The basis of their foreign policy.

When the crimes of terrorism are committed not by some outcast or group of persons and not by an organization, but by the state. Which has a nuclear arsenal.

When a permanent member of the UN Security Council deliberately destroys everything for which the UN was built. Having unleashed a cruel, bloody, senseless war against us.

But we now have a chance. A chance to show not only to Russia, but also to any aggressor in the world, any terrorist state, that war will destroy not the victim, but the one who came with it.

And, perhaps, this is the last chance for humanity – to stop the wars. Stop the state terror.

And I’m telling you now. Switzerland. A state that has a very long history of peace. And an even longer history of influence. In many areas – a decisive influence on the world.

Even before I became President, I was thinking what life of our beloved Ukrainians I would like to see.

I have often been to your country. And I know very well how you live. And one day, standing near Chillon Castle, I asked my friends – we were one company – why can’t we live like this?

To have such a standard of living. A high level. And with the same freedom. In such friendly communities. And with such confidence in our own strength.

And I sincerely wanted the Ukrainians to live like the Swiss. So that we can jointly decide everything about our own lives. About our land. Not expecting anything from politicians, unnecessary words, but voting in a referendum.

So that we can be sure, despite all the financial crises in the world, that our state will withstand and remain a leader. A leader of trust, a leader of stability. A dream for all people. Successful, not very successful – no matter what level, just for all people.

So that the Ukrainians, like the Swiss, can feel that they live in real communities that care about what is common to all – for the good of all.

Maybe these are all ordinary things to you. For us, these are reforms. And this is the path we are taking and we wanted to take.

And we passed the relevant laws. For all this to work. We gave opportunities. Opportunities for our people.

So that we gradually reach your standard of living.

And we did it until the black day. February 24. The day of the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of our land, Ukraine.

And then everything changed.

It has changed for each of us, Ukrainians. I’m sure it has changed for all Europeans. And it has changed for all world democracies.

It has changed for you, too.

I am grateful to you and your state for supporting us in such a difficult time. I am thankful that you did not stay away, didn’t say that it wasn’t related to you at all

Because, in fact, it is impossible to stay away from the fact that in the 21st century, in the heart of Europe, hundreds of rockets and bombs are flying at peaceful cities.

It is impossible to stay away when the army of the world’s largest state, albeit only in size, directs all its deadly potential to destroy us, to destroy hospitals, ordinary schools, churches, universities, maternity hospitals, residential areas.

It is impossible to be indifferent when children are killed. As of this morning, the Russian army has killed 112 Ukrainian children.

And just as I wanted the Ukrainians to live like the Swiss… I also want you to be and become like the Ukrainians. In the fight against evil.

So that there is no question about banks. About your banks. Where the money of all those who started this war is kept.

It’s painful and it’s hard. But it is also a struggle against evil.

It is necessary to completely freeze all the assets of these people and their accounts. It’s a big fight, and you can do it.

I want you to become Ukrainians who feel what it is like when whole cities are destroyed, peaceful cities. Destroyed on the orders of those who like to live in communities – different, European, in your communities, in beautiful Swiss communities.

Who enjoys real estate in your country.

And it would be fair to deprive them of this privilege. To deprive of what they are taking from us.

And I want you to be as Ukrainians in the issue of business. Business that works in Russia in spite of everything. Despite this war.

Despite all our murdered children. Despite the people killed. Despite the destroyed cities. Like our city of Mariupol, heroic Mariupol, which has been under complete blockade for weeks. Imagine – no food, no water, no electricity. Just under the bombs.

“Good food. Good life.” This is the slogan of Nestlé. Your company that refuses to leave Russia. Even now – when there are threats from Russia to other European countries. Not only to us. When there is even nuclear blackmail from Russia.

And I want all of you, Swiss people, to become like all of us, Ukrainians. I want us not to lose our common chance now.

A chance to restore peace, a chance to stop any wars in the world. Because when Switzerland is with you, you are definitely successful. Because when Ukraine is with you, you are definitely strong.

Last year we agreed on a big conference with the President of your country. Conference in Lugano. For the sake of economic transformation, for the sake of Ukraine’s reforms.

It was to take place this July. As well as the next summit of the first ladies and gentlemen.

And I believe, I know we can hold them. This year. On your land.

For the restoration and development of Ukraine. So that you have the opportunity to show again and again all the best that is in your hearts. In our hearts.

In the hearts of all those people who are fighting for freedom and fighting for life.

I am grateful to you. I am grateful to Switzerland!

Glory to Ukraine!

Office of the President of Ukraine

The First Monday in October

The first Monday in October does not get a special note on most calendars, unless you are in the government or parts of the legal profession. This is the day the Supreme Court of the United States usually begins its term. And this term is expected to be more notable than most for the government’s least visible branch.

The expectations are probably the reason several of the usually reticent judges who sit on the court have been unusually public in their comments and complaints in recent weeks following a three month “recess” which was also unusual for the amount of news it made.

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“Déjà Vu”

I’ve been trying to make sense of it because I’ve been here before. On the left, Saigon, April 29, 1975. On the right Kabul, August 16, 2021. In 1975 I was at my first post school job in the CBS newsroom in Chicago. The helicopters were evacuating Americans and Vietnamese who had worked with Americans as they fought the communists. In 2021, I’m at the other end of my career. The helicopters are taking out Americans and Afghans who worked with Americans as they fought the Taliban. Forty-six years between these similar scenes. It is eerie.

Yes of course there are many differences between the two events. But from my perspective, there are far too many similarities. We do not seem to learn from history. We just repeat it.

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Pay to Play: The American Way

Money has always been a big factor in American politics. You can’t outright pay politicians in return for their vote on an issue of interest to you. That’s bribery and it’s a crime. 18 U.S. Code § 201. But you can come very close. That’s because it costs a tremendous amount of money to run for public office and we leave it to the politicians to raise their own funds.

State-wide races for governor, state legislator, or U.S. House or Senate seats can cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. A major state-wide campaign requires a hefty advertising budget and paid staff to handle things like communications, strategic planning, finances, and legal compliance.

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A Breath of Fresh Air

It some ways it was certainly unusual. But mostly its normalcy made it a breath of fresh air. For more than an hour President Joe Biden delivered a report to Congress, the nation, and the world on the state of the state one hundred days into his administration. He laid out the achievements already accomplished, the programs now under way, and the proposals he is sending to Congress for enactment into law.

One way the speech was unusual was that there were two women behind the president. Presiding over the joint session of Congress were Vice-President Kamala Harris, who is President of the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. That was a historic first. Another way was that the chamber, which normally holds 1,600 people for these events, was limited to 200 by pandemic protocols. The audience members were socially distanced and most were masked.

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Joe Biden’s Day

There is much to say about all the players who participated in the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th President of the United States. But we’ll save that for another day. For this was Joe Biden’s Day. And I want to let him speak in his own words.

“This is America’s day,” Biden said. “This is democracy’s day.” What struck me first and foremost was how normal it all seemed. A new President. A new administration. Words meant to soothe a bruised nation. Words meant to call us to arms to face the challenges ahead. And above all, words not about him, but words about us.

Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

After four plus years of having every White House utterance a statement of, by, and for Donald Trump, this was a breath of fresh air. Coming two weeks to the day when a mob of insurrectionists stormed the very same platform in front of the Capitol in an attempt to nullify the voters will this was remarkable.

From now, on this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than two centuries.

Biden pulled no punches in listing the challenges; the Covid pandemic, the climate crisis, political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism. And then he hit his main theme, a call for unity.

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never assured.

This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together.

As I read those words it is tough to keep the cynic in me down. So many times we have heard these calls for unity and cooperation only to see the hopes dashed on the rocks of bipartisanship. But this is Biden’s Day so let’s give him his due and hope he can pull it off.

We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural vs. urban, conservative vs. liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life: There’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another. And if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. And we can still disagree.

I hope the naysayers and obstructionists will take heed and just give it a try. Bipartisanship does not mean you get your way. It means you compromise. You horse-trade. You win some and lose some. But you move forward and get things done. For decades we have for the most part failed to do this. If anyone can get us moving again, it will be Joe Biden, a man of faith, a man with empathy for others, a man who sees the difference between the truth and the lies, a man who has been in the Senate and worked with representatives of both parties for longer than most of us have been alive.

Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth, a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these will be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up? All of us? It’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain, I promise you: We will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.

Now we all face the test. How will we respond to Biden’s call?

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trump’s attempted coup – THAT WAS the week that was

The Week is Over

The cliché says that journalism is the first draft of history. We shall have to wait the verdict of historians several years down the road to craft a title for the tumultuous events of the last week and put them into perspective. For now it shall suffice to note that the FBI is calling on citizens to help identify members of the violent mob of Donald Trump supporters who attacked the United States Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to stop Congress from tallying the Electoral College votes declaring Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris the next president and vice-president.

It was the first time since the Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788, that a President of the United States attempted to overturn the results of an election and remain in office after the election of his successor had been certified by the states and the District of Columbia.

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