Tuesday, October 3, 2023

‘My Mind Today Is Scrambled By What Is Going On in Ukraine’— Geniella’s Thoughts


Mike Geniella’s incisive voice and watchful eye have been aimed at Mendocino County for many decades as a long-standing reporter for the Press Democrat and the spokesman for Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office. Now retired, Geniella finds the writing habit hard to shake. We’re excited to host a column from him sharing his thoughts, comments, and concerns about life here in Mendocino County.

View of Kiev seen from the belltower of the Saint Sophia Monastery in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. [Photograph from WikiCommons]

My thoughts are scattered on a cool, gray Saturday morning. I meant to stay local and write about the sentencing of the so-called ‘red-headed burglar,’ and offer up remarks on the approval of yet cannabis dispensary in our community. I also planned to share musings about the leadership changes ahead for Mendocino County government, and how District Attorney David Eyster is poised for a fourth term, only the second time in local legal history.

Another time.

My mind today is scrambled by what is going on in Ukraine, and how the brave people of that nation’s capital of Kyiv are still resisting despite being outmanned and outgunned.

 I was deeply moved by the photo of a young Ukrainian couple who hurried up their wedding, and then grabbed their weapons to help defend their homeland.

CNN reported that Ukrainians Yaryna Arieva and Sviatoslav Fursin rushed their wedding and got married to the sounds of sirens blaring the Russian invasion. Straight after their wedding, they both joined the local Territorial Defense Center to help efforts to defend their country.

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These ‘patriots’ are taking to the streets to help their fellow citizens repel Putin’s invaders. They are not whining about Covid restrictions, or vaccination requirements at cross border crossings between the U.S. and Canada.

Locally, we bitch about the landscaped bulb outs on Ukiah’s newly completed downtown street improvement project, saying they make the turns onto side streets cramped and rubber marked.

We gawk at low water levels in our reservoirs, but there are folks who continue to leave sprinkler systems on in local orchards and vineyards for winter frost protections.

Those situations pale in comparison to what is going on in Ukraine today, where outmanned forces are holding on to their capital after resisting an overnight onslaught.

Ukrainians woke up Saturday morning to find their city transformed by war, according to the New York Times.

“There were sandbags in the streets, burned-out cars, and lines at sites distributing guns. The metro had stopped running, its stations now used solely as underground bunkers. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the fate of the nation is ‘being decided right now.’ He posted a video of himself at daybreak Saturday, unshaven, on the capital’s streets appearing resolved to remain in Kyiv even though Western officials have warned that Russian plans to capture or kill him.”

Hillary Clinton, in some quarters the much-reviled former Secretary of State who won the popular election count but lost the Electoral College vote to Putin sympathizer Donald J. Trump, wrote this week that she believes the fighting in Ukraine is more than just another war halfway around the globe.

It is a democracy vs autocracy battle, Clinton contended.

The Atlantic magazine, which published Clinton’s essay on the subject, used this introduction:

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Ukraine is one flash point in a larger global struggle between democracy and autocracy – one that stretches from the steppes of Eastern Europe to the waters of the Indo-Pacific to the halls of the U.S. Capitol.”

Here is the link: 


May the freedom fighters prevail in Ukraine.

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  1. I appreciate Mike Geniella’s candor with his courageous admission that he’s a man with a “scrambled” brain when it comes to Putin’s vicious invasion of Ukraine. I’m not. In 2014 when Barack Obama was president, Joe Biden had a ring side seat as Putin invaded the Crimea and stole a portion of Ukraine. What did Obama do? Not much. What did Biden do? Not much, save get his son a job in Kiev peddling influence to enrich the Biden family. What did the Ukrainians get from that peddling scheme? Not much. What did Putin get when it came to America’s will? An ever-increasing sense that our country did not care about anything that he did when it came to the sovereign country of Ukraine. Which brings us to right now. The United States led by a feckless, semi-sentient septuagenarian blustering about how tough he is, and sanctions, which he should have done as soon as Putin placed his Army on the border of Ukraine. Of course, the man with the scrambled brain—as predicted by any kindergarten child—blames it all on Donald Trump, because his personal, political, pin-up girl says it must be so. Can we ever forget that infamous re-start button, the size of a little cup cake, that Hillary Clinton presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva in 2009 when she was Obama and Biden’s Secretary of State? Sergey laughed and pressed the button on the toy. Putin got the hint. America was run by a bunch of naive fools.

    Meanwhile back in Ukraine, its courageous citizens are putting up a hell of a fight compared to those they face. War is never something that turns out as it is planned. If this goes on for too long with the Ukrainians holding out, pray that the oligarchs and the Russian people put a bullet into Putin’s head before he unleashes nuclear hell, which, last night, he hinted large that he might do. Every brain will be scrambled then.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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