Leaving aside Isis, Putin and other budding calamities: Are you ready for some football?

To talk about the NFL season kicking off tonight in Seattle along with the rise of ISIS and the ongoing Putin show must seem inappropriate, or at least jarring, but doesn’t it reflect our lives in general?  Most of us live in small worlds of family and friends and jobs and personal ambitions and romantic fantasies and pass times against the backdrop of a large world that most of us give only side long glances to.   We might look longer if we felt we could really understand, but understanding our world seems harder and harder to do.  Actually impossible, so why work hard at it?

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ironic isn’t it?  All of this information we humans have compiled over time and it winds up confusing, not enlightening.   We have a vast catalog of facts at our disposal through the internet, but our ability to integrate it is not much advanced from monkeys pounding typewriters and accidentally forming a word.  We might think we would have  a chance to grab the gist of things if those who proffered the information did not so twist it through some ideology or another.  As is, we have to delve into too much information, while tossing out most of it as tainted.

Still, trying to make sense of things is a human habit as deeply ingrained as breathing and other bodily functions,  so here are a few off hand stabs at making a little sense of a couple of things.    While Putin is skilful at making himself the center of attention with his bad boy antics – most recently pressing for a separate state being carved out of eastern Ukraine, he has no end game as far as I can see.

While it has moved liked molasses in January, the European Union now seems to be willing to back sanctions that should hurt Russia’s economy badly.   In the meantime, Putin will remain the center of attention but gradually Russians  should feel a sharp economic pinch and realize what a loser he is.   It boils down to this:   The Russian economy is roughly two trillion a year – about the size of Italy’s – while the combined American and European economies are over 27 trillion a year, give or take a trillion or two.   Because of the size of the difference, it would only take some agreement on key sanctions among the EU and ourselves to strangle the Russian economy.

Economically, crushing Putin’s bravado is simply a matter of time.

The ongoing  antics of Putin the cunning, ruthless kid are slowly prompting the EU to apply serious sanctions, despite the fact those sanctions will hurt their economies as well.  But at some point enough is enough, to most people if not Putin.

To me, ISIS is the much greater danger because of their combination of religious zealotry with surprisingly effective organization and sophistication when it comes to using technology.  All this supported by billions either grabbed or donated.   Who knows when you might find them at an airport near you?

I continue to find the rapidity of their success startling, but as good as they are tactically, their vicious zealotry, which to them seems a good recruiting tool, as with the two recent be-headings of Americans, is just what it will take to SHAKE UP US AND OTHERS  enough to ban together to stamp them out.

I often hear TV pundits talk about Americans being “war weary”.    Really, what do most of us have to be weary about?   What have most of us sacrificed during the many years of our troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq?    We are tired of hearing bad news about the little our investment of life and treasure has wrought, but that is not really being war weary.   That is just the reflection of a people who expect to have our own way with the world.

Having done some volunteer work assisting our troops and their families, I would say those who have really sacrificed, these troops, these families and their friends, have high morale.   They are believers in their sacrifices.

I would say the rest of us aren’t war weary.   We are world weary, weary of a world that is no longer our oyster as it has been throughout most of  my 69 years.  And weary of a national government too polarized to aid in turning the tide.

So, now, are you ready for some football?

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Are Vladimir Putin and Lindsay Lohan an Item?

You heard it here first.

Vladimir Putin - Olympic Host

Vladimir Putin – Olympic Host (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Because I just made it up.  What I didn’t make up is that Putin’s divorce of his wife of 30 years was finalized last Wednesday.  I won’t bother mentioning her name as there is  too much to remember these days as is and all references to her have been expunged from his  “official biography”, so…

As far as I know she hasn’t been expunged, which would seem in keeping with  Putin’s saying they wanted a “civilized divorce.”

But my point is now the world’s sexiest man (as Henry Kissinger once said:  “power is the greatest aphrodisiac”) is free to be a wild, crazy bachelor type and who better to be it with than Lindsay Lohan, for a while at least?

Bossy (Lindsay Lohan song)

Bossy (Lindsay Lohan song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I fantasized this possibility when struggling with what to say about the “Ukraine crisis,” which continues to simmer with  some 40,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border and a few raucous, separatist demonstrations not far from those troops in eastern Ukraine, demonstrations that may well be Russian instigated.

Of course the EU and NATO are having meetings to discuss possible greater sanctions if Russian troops do roll into eastern Ukraine, but those nations have varying degrees of dependence on Russian gas and oil, not to mention a multitude of business interests that apply  pressure on these governments to  maintain the status quo.

Because of all that, some have speculated that Putin is gambling that commercial interests in the west carry enough weight to minimize the impact of economic sanctions on Russia, since it will cost them, too.   That makes sense to me because I think, above all, Putin loves to be a player.

While you can find many analyses indicating that this is a losing strategy over time for Russia, this may be a winning strategy for Putin in the short term.  He is less risk averse than are the European friends of the U. S., perhaps because he sees it as his mission to restore the prestige and international position of the motherland, not to reap the maximum economic benefits of globalization.

Also, while Russia’s economy is overly dependent on its export of gas and oil, again something that figures to hurt that economy over time, those resources work for it now, given European reliance on that energy and the hunger of China and India to have greater access to it.

In that regard, a big energy deal with China is in the offing.  And, though this past week the UN  easily passed a resolution to continue to treat Crimea as part of  Ukraine (1oo votes in favor, 11 against), 58 nations voted to abstain, two of them being China and India.   The last-named pair aren’t eager to get on the outs with Russia.   They have other shared interests with Putlandia besides energy, such as India’s import of a huge amount of arms, 75% from Russia.

Having blurted all that out, you can see why I would  hunger for a simple solution to the Ukraine crisis, even if out of  left field like my Lindsay Lohan plot.   Putin has made a number of clever moves politically in recent months and I think we need something to distract him, and who better to do that than Lindsay.

I just checked Google and she says she is still sober, having graduated from treatment for the sixth time last summer.   Since she goes through boyfriends faster than a chain smoker turns cigarettes to ash, she might prove an interesting challenge to the Vlad man, and he certainly is a guy who likes a challenge.

Finally, in case you haven’t been paying attention, Lindsay is not yesterday’s news.  Lilo appeared on Letterman last night, looking better than ever I’m told.  She is also in a segment of 2 Broke Girls some time this week, and the shows’  two “stars” deny she was a “train wreck” to work with.

Just short of World War III, what could garner more pub than America’s never ending troubled teenager hooking up with Russia’s self-styled people’s czar?   Put those wedding plans on hold Brangelina.

All the hoopla surrounding the relationship might distract Vlado  from focusing on expanding Russia for a while.  At least it would provide me with a respite from the Kardashians always staring at me in the super market line.

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P. S. – Those who feel like biting their nails in response to the tensions in eastern Ukraine may want to check out this article in today’s Washington Post.  Besides giving a thumb nail sketch of the simmering situation there, it provides a couple of useful maps, including one which breaks down the per cent of Russian ethnics in various parts of southern and eastern Ukraine.

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