Basic Instincts: Ukraine and America, A Bizarro World

By Michael Willard

Having lived in Ukraine for two decades, I am immune to surprises. The sun coming up each morning usually brought a tabloid headline the equivalent of the talking two-headed goat, both noggins looking a lot like Elvis.

Really, to work in risky markets is to skate in a buffalo herd, backward, blindfolded and chewing wicked peyote seeds.

As for me, currently on a two-week sojourn back to Ukraine, l never do those hair-raising rides at Disney World near where I now live. They don’t really stack up to running businesses in Eastern Europe for excitement.

There were two revolutions, multiple currency gyrations, various shady character business threats, and — especially in the early days — the occasional capping of a poor soul in broad daylight for a minor slight or good reason.

It was, some said, growing pains of a recently independent country. I eagerly supported the revolutions for dignity, but other calamities I could have done without. However, they came with the definition of a risky market.

For the most part, my companies thrived, mostly by having diminished expectations and playing by the rules set forth from kindergarten forward to obey the laws and play fair while still having sharp elbows for survival.

However, one would think Ukraine after so many trips around the sun since tethered to the Evil Empire, would be a fully developed, mostly mature, sipping tea and listening to Blue Danube Waltz chamber music sort of nation.

Nah, there wasn’t a chance. Junior is still a junior.

Ukraine recently elected by an overwhelming margin a comedian who played the country’s President on television. The depressing fact is he said he learned to win at the knee of America’s TV reality star President, Donald Trump.

Ruh-Roh, my gosh, gosh almighty and Katie bar the door to common sense and lucidity.

President Volodymyr Zelensky would have preferred, most likely, that his slobbering telephone call with Trump to have remain deep six-ed. Instead, it’s a definite plank in Trump’s impeachment process.

However, this brings everything into a clearer focus in a topsy-turvy, bizarro world. In this comic cosmic state, Ukraine and America could now be blood brothers brought together through shared happenstance and insanity.

America’s actions since January 20, 2017, inauguration day, have been nothing short of the ship’s captain, Mr. Trump, taking dead aim on a clear as day iceberg with neon attached flashing “catastrophe”.

And yes, this with Republican leadership on the deck calmly singing, in perfect harmony, “Nearer My God to Thee”.

That day itself was highlighted by a whopper. A press stooge — against visual evidence to the contrary — emphatically proclaimed the inauguration crowd the “largest-ever” at the bequest of his insatiably ego-manic boss.

Oh, but if only that little fib were the greatest assault on common sense, that mere romancing of the product could be overlooked as excessive exuberance on a celebratory day. It hasn’t been.

That day was followed by a death spiral of outlier comments and actions that have slowly but surely sunk America’s image and value in a world where we once were the beacon of democracy and rule of law.

The evidence of this is something even the hapless deputy Barney Fife on Mayberry RFD would find compelling. To enumerate the obvious here would exhaust my typing fingers and rekindle sky-high blood pressure.

However, most notably:

With virtually no rhyme, reason or constituency, Trump’s ide’e fixe with a southern border wall represents his attempt to change the inscription on the Statue of Liberty to a tombstone immigration epitaph.

His attempt at collusion with a foreign power to dig dirt on a political opponent was revolting. His abandonment of our Kurdish allies — who lost 11,000 people fighting ISIS in Syria — smacks of Benedict Arnold-ism.

His desertion from the war against climate disasters — denying a clear and present danger — is gambling with the future. His withdrawal from arms control treaties has made the world more dangerous.

In essence, he has quick as a wink in history’s time machine made America less American.

But, as I spend these few days on the golden steppes of Ukraine, at a small town called Zhovti Vody, and I contemplate news reports from America, I remain the Optimistic Alien.

Word is there are some significant Republican cracks in Trump’s support. A Fox News poll says a majority of Americans now favor impeachment.

Perhaps, the madness of King Donald will end soon.

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I am a novelist, painter, songwriter and essayist but my day job is elevating the profile of authors, entertainers and business executives.

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