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Guest column: Boycott Russia or put Putin on Obamacare
by Bill Lewis
Guest Columnist
March 20, 2014 10:06 AM | 4933 views | 1 1 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Lewis
Bill Lewis
Along with the rest of the world, I’ve been watching as Vladimir Putin strong-arms his way into Ukraine. The rabid Russian president continues to adopt a “Who me?” attitude while global leaders keep telling him in no uncertain terms, “Now, Vlad, you can’t do that.”

No doubt those stern warnings of protest are really making an impression. So much so that lawmakers in the Black Sea peninsula voted to join the Russian Federation. In a referendum Sunday to let the people validate the legislative decision, 96.8 percent of voters said yes. The Ukrainian Parliament, meanwhile, basically said, “That ain’t gonna happen.” (That’s a really rough translation, but you get the gist.)

Fortunately, while armed Russian military guys not wearing Russian military uniforms continued to pour into the Crimean region and even had standoffs against Ukrainian troops actually wearing real Ukrainian uniforms, to this date no shots have been fired ... at least not directly at people. There were a couple of blasts into the air, but the air doesn’t bleed.

Many pundits, and even some heads of state, have strongly suggested economic sanctions be put into place against Russia if it continues to model its foreign policy on Hitler’s late-1930s European plan. There is talk of boycotting Russian oil and natural gas, for instance.

I’ve come up with a few personal Russian items I’m going to forego until Vlad comes to his senses.

Dirges. Russian choristers (especially basses who may have had a bit too much to drink with their potatoes) are known for their rather trancelike music. Kind of like the Wicked Witch’s guards in the Wizard of Oz who like to “Oh-ee-oh, Oh-oh” their way around the grounds. Well, forget it. I’m not playing any dirges on my stereo, and I’ve removed all of them from my iPod playlist. For the foreseeable future, I’ll stick to upbeat tunes such as “Zipadeedodah,” “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” “What a Day for a Daydream,” and “Here Comes the Sun,” (something we could all use.)

Caviar. I know, I know. This is a tough one, but sacrifices must be made. As tempting as it is to just run by the fridge, grab a tin of Beluga, and slap a spoonful on a Triscuit, we have to draw the line somewhere. So if forgoing expensive fish eggs will put a hole in Putin’s wallet, by golly I’m ready to do it. Nothing but cheese dip and Touch-of-Lime Doritos from this day forward.

Borscht. Another tough decision. I mean, who doesn’t like a big bowl of good ol’ beet soup? That’s been one of our family’s go-to meals for I don’t know how long. Okay, okay, I confess. I’ve only had borscht a couple of times in my life. And not recently. The first time, I was with a group of fellow office workers in an executive dining room for some unknown reason (probably because the execs heard what was for lunch and passed). But it’s the principle of the thing. I’m pretty sure beets are as prevalent as nuclear warheads in Russia, so I’m saying “no” to borscht, no matter where it’s served.

Ballet. Russian tutus are infamous. And toe-dancing is one of the country’s biggest cultural exports.

But I think I’m just going to have to forget PBS and watch NCAA March Madness instead. Fortunately, baseball season begins on the heels of hoops hysteria, so there will be no temptation to tune into even old reruns of the Bolshoi on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Vodka. Ha! If all Americans gave up this Russian staple, then we’d get Vlad’s attention. Sure, it’s tempting to emulate James Bond and order a “shaken, not stirred” libation, but we must remain firmly resolved.

I’m thinking a Canadian beer instead. So far, the Mounted Police have not invaded North Dakota for its oil, thus a cold Molson is safe ... for the moment.

I’m pretty sure the sanctions I’m proposing would have a deleterious effect on Russia’s designs on recapturing past USSR-perceived glories. If not, maybe we could sell Vladimir a Russian version of Obamacare. Just signing up would keep him out of mischief for quite some time.

Bill Lewis is a longtime resident of Marietta. He can be reached at

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