Vladimir Putin

Apparently while we were all watching bobsledding at the Sochi Olympics the Russian government was ruthlessly planning an invasion of Ukraine. (Newscasters pronounce it YOU-crane as Bush used to pronounce Iraq as EYE-rack.)

Seemingly 15 minutes after the heartwarming closing ceremonies, Russia’s dictator, I mean president, Vladimir Putin, reportedly sent 16,000 armed troops into Crimea. But Putin denies they’re Russian, “Anybody can go into a store and buy a uniform.” (Is he “Putin” us on?)

In 2001, George Bush said of Putin, a former KGB officer, “I looked into his eyes and saw his soul.” Bush, who boasted “I’ve always been able to read people,” described Putin as “straight forward” and “trustworthy.” Then again, during Katrina, Bush also said, “You’re doin’ a heckuva job, Brownie.”

On his trip, Putin actually visited Bush at Crawford, Texas. When questioned about Putin’s character Bush remarked, “If I didn’t trust him do you think I’d invite him to the ranch?” After being president from 2000-08, Putin became president again in 2012. This time he had a new wife but swore this was his last. (Presidency, not wife.)

In the meantime, the right wing is blasting President Obama about the invasion. (What else is new?) The usual suspects includes short-tempered John McCain, who criticizes Obama more than Putin. This gives rise to two questions I pose: Has there ever been a war McCain didn’t long for? And whatever happened to “supporting the president” during an international crisis?

In 2008, when the Russians invaded the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, I don’t recall McCain calling Bush “feckless.” Obama is damned either way. If he sends troops to Ukraine (he won’t) he’s a warmonger, but if he’s deliberate and careful he’s Neville Chamberlain.

One thing seems fairly certain: the Cold War, which ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, appears to be heating up again. I base my theory on the fact that in the new “Muppets Most Wanted” movie the despicable villain is an evil Russian frog. (Until recently it might have been an evil al-Qaida frog.)

Sarah Palin has weighed in on the invasion and why not? She might have been able to see the whole thing right from her front porch. Actually, the former 3/4 term governor of Alaska posted on Facebook that in 2008 she had predicted that Putin would invade Ukraine. Apparently she also posted a used car on E-bay, but apparently it hasn’t sold yet.

Despite mounting evidence against him, Putin challenges his critics. (As if to say, “Don’t Crimea river.”) Among the world leaders chastising Putin is Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel who is “really annoyed” with him and has questioned whether “he’s still in touch with reality.” (Is that all?)

Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Ukraine and condemned Russia for, “Invading a sovereign country on a trumped-up pretext.” While Kerry is receiving high marks, unfortunately his comments could easily describe our invasion of Iraq. (Yesterday on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow’s documentary “Why We Did It” revealed the various lies during the build up to the Iraq war and trust me it’s not a pretty picture unless, of course, you’re a munitions manufacturer.)

Like it or not, for over a century the U.S. has a dubious history regarding “interventions” very similar to what Putin has just pulled. For example, in 1914 we sent troops into Mexico; in 1915 we did the same thing in Haiti; and in 1916 we invaded the Dominican Republic and Mexico again.

We evidently liked invading Mexico because we did it nine more times during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. In 1917 we also sent troops to Cuba and in 1918 we did likewise in Panama.

Ultimately, perhaps Putin’s greed will save the day. He reportedly has a net worth of over $70 billion. He must be exceptionally thrifty because his presidential salary is only $187,000 a year.

On the positive side, as much as Putin loves money, hopefully he will re-think the Ukrainian invasion as on Monday the ruble rocked and the Russian stock market fell 12 percent. (Who knew the Russians even had a stock market?)

Not only is Putin ruthless and sinister, but he’s embarrassingly narcissistic. Google “Putin shirtless” or “Putin sings Blueberry Hill” but, spoiler alert, be ready to cringe.

And yet when George Bush stared into Putin’s eyes he supposedly saw the man’s soul. Frankly, I get a chill whenever I see Putin. Not only does he seem to have the eyes of the devil, but also the ears. In the meantime, given the volatile invasion of Ukraine, which could easily threaten world peace, don’t the Winter Olympics seem like a long time ago?


Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or jnsmdp@aol.com.

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