Sunday, March 30, 2014

All we need to beat Russia is a very cool president. And Wall Street.

In this post: Braised camel turds, strangling Putin.

We did it. We did lunch on Saturday at Cafe Greek in Dallas. We always enjoy the food, and the price for their buffet is really swell, but the overall ambiance is two rungs lower than a state-run mental institution and the owner — we call him the “Grim Reaper” — is a rude, non-verbal grumpyface who sits with his back to the dining room playing with an iPad. Even worse, THEY NEVER HAVE ANY CUSTOMERS and we don’t know how they keep their business open. Cafe Greek is situated in a busy strip mall in a popular part of town, the parking lot is always packed with cars, yet at 12 noon on a beautiful spring Saturday the only diners — besides Sam and me — are a pair of joyless middle-aged women at separate tables sending text messages. (Not to each other.) Cafe Greek can’t possibly be a money-making enterprise, but as long as they let me eat unlimited baked fish with sesame seeds for $9.95 I don’t give a crap about their bottom line. And Sam loves the desserts.

And now I’m pleased to announce the winner of our latest Official Howdygram Einstein Award! This time it’s Russian strongman Vladimir Putin for the shortest political standoff in history when he called the White House yesterday to beg for negotiate an end to the economic sanctions for invading Crimea and an immediate diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine.

Once again President Obama is the only adult in the room while the warmongering Republicans in Congress have embarrassed themselves (again) by calling him every vile name in the book for what they perceived as a weak response to Russia’s aggression. Former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld even referred to President Obama as a “trained ape.”
So what happened, exactly? Rather than launch a new Soviet Union, Putin’s screw-up in Crimea and the subsequent sanctions have backfired, sucker-punching the Russian economy into an early stage of recession.

Russia is already bleeding. Their Micex stock index (the same as our NASDAQ) has plunged by 13.5% since the beginning of the year, their bond market is tanking and the ruble is the second-worst performing currency against the dollar. And while Putin tried to push back by issuing sanctions of his own (such as barring 15 assorted people from traveling to Russia, as if anybody really cares), President Obama has already lined up a whole new list of future penalties on Russian bankers, energy, metals and mining, defense and engineering services.

Putin has tried really hard to make believe he’s a world power but just discovered he’s way out of our league. Bombs and tanks are so 20th century; today all we need is a very cool president. And Wall Street.

Thank you for reading this.

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