Sunday, November 28, 2004

Today's Ukraine Update:

Looks like Yushchenko's right hand woman - Yulia Tymoshenko, who Disocshaman refers to as "Ukraine's answer to Margaret Thatcher" - has taken charge of rallying the opposition. She has organized the delightfully-named "Committee of National Salvation", and is trying to stop the eastern regions' calls for secession, and is organizing a rally at the Supreme Court tomorrow (today?). She has called for current president, Leonid Kuchma, to dismiss Victor Yanukovich from his current position of Prime Minister as a result of the election violations, and is threatening to essentially place him under house arrest if the following demands are not met:

1) Discharge Yanukovych from his position of Prime Minister, because of his instigation and support of the falsification of the election and in the separatist actions;

2) On the demands of of the decision of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) of November 27, immediately to begin an investigation into new candidates for membership of the Central Election Committee;

3) Discharge from their positions the directors of the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regional administrations -- the initiators of the break-up of Ukraine;

4) Give a deadline to the Attorney General and the Security Services of Ukraine to open a criminal investigation against the separatists/secessionists of Ukraine.

"we are able to ensure that he will not make a single step without complying with our demands"

Meanwhile a blockade of the Russian embassy continues, and the belief in Russian interference is unquestioned among Yushchenko's supporters.

The sign reads "Putin - don't become a terrorist" (pic from

I expect to arrive at work and have more information - being as the Supreme Court convenes at 11AM in Kiev - 5 or 6 AM Philly time.

Prime sources for news are :

and Kyiv Post.

I grant you all that I have more interest in this than the average American, but do you still not find this story undercovered and fascinating? Or is it just me?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

From the US Delegate's address to the OSCE

The list of fraudulent and abusive practices reported by credible sources is extensive, and includes outright falsification of results in certain regions; physical intimidation of and violence against voters, election officials and observers; removal of official opposition commissioners, observers and journalists from polling stations; abuse of absentee certificates; coercion of students, public sector employees, and residents of governmental hospitals and prisons; multiple voting; ballot box stuffing; and inaccurate voter lists.

full text here

It sounds like there's a number of reasons to believe the election was fraudulent. Telling, I think, is Yuschenko's position (translated from by Tanya over at the periscope) which displays confidence that he would win a fair election:

Viktor Yushchenko reckons that the only way out of the political crisis can be the re-election of the President.
As Yushchenko stated at a demonstration in Kiev, the re-election has to be held on 12 December.
Also, there has to be a law to forbid the use of additional voting coupons, Central Election Committee (CEC) is to be dismissed and the new CEC is to be formed on the basis of equal representation from Yushchenko and Yanukovych side.
The third condition is an equal access of candidates to mass media, the fourth one is refusal to use the administrative resources.

Yanukovych's response?

Yanukovych offered to investigate the claims on the process of the election, which, according to Yushchenko, total 11 thousand. ‘It will be enough for us to investigate them till the end of our days!’, said Yushchenko.


At the same time, according to Yushchenko, he was under the impression that Yanukovych’s side wants to draw out the negotiations.
‘If Yanukovych aims to wear out the strength and draw out the time, we come to the active actions straight away’.

I think he's right. I believe the position of the authorities is to wait until the public's ire subsides - and hopefully assume the presidency as the fervor dies down. It's a good strategy, I think. Yushchenko would be best served to press the issue now - striking while the iron is hot, if you will. There's only so many nights a reasonable person can spend outside in a tent in the middle of November in the Ukraine, regardless of how much vodka you throw down. For now, at least, it would appear that the last "official" channel for redress is the Supreme Court hearing on Monday.

Belated Thanksgiving Musings

from Gary Hull at the Ayn Rand Institute:

Since human survival is not automatic, man's life depends on successful production. From food and clothing to science and art, every act of production requires thought. And the greater the creation, the greater is the required thinking.

This virtue of productiveness is what Thanksgiving is supposed to recognize. Sadly, this is a virtue rejected not only by the attackers of this holiday, but by its alleged defenders as well.

Many Americans make Thanksgiving into a religious festival. They agree with Lincoln, who, upon declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, said that "we have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven." They ascribe our material abundance to God's efforts, not man's.

That view is a slap in the face of any person who has worked an honest day in his life. The appropriate values for this holiday are not faith and charity, but thought and production. The proper thanks for one's wealth goes not to some mystical deity but to oneself, if one has earned that wealth.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

As an Aside....

Free Market Pilgrims?

Benjamin Powell says so:

In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on "equality" and "need" as determined by officials. People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food.

Gov. William Bradford, in his 1647 history "Of Plymouth Plantation," wrote that this system "was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort." The problem was that "young men, that were most able and fit for labor, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense." Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.

Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.

This change, Bradford wrote, "had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been." Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, "the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability."

And the bounty which led to the Thanksgiving Feast ensued.

At least, that's the version of the Thanksgiving story my grandkids will hear, right before their grandmom tells them to pay no attention to their cranky old grandad.

Journalistic Integrity in the Ukraine

from Neeka:

On Channel 1 (UT-1), the main state channel, 237 journalists are on strike now. Today, during the 11 am newscast with live translation into the Sign Language, the translator, Natalya Dmytruk, did not translate what the host was saying about the election results, but said the following (quote via Ukrainska Pravda):

The results from the Central Election Commission have been falsified. Do not believe them. Our President is Yushchenko. I am very disgusted that I was forced to translate the lies until now. I'm not going to do it anymore. I'm not sure if I'll see you again.

The program Dmytruk was translating for is the only news program in Ukraine adapted for people with hearing impairments. The audience is about 100,000 people. Dmytruk has now joined her 237 striking colleagues.

237 striking journalists? Whole city councils recognizing Yuschenko? Thousands of people camped in the streets? And the Supreme Court nixes the swearing in pending a hearing?

Call me an optimist, but this looks promising for the good guys.

I'll Be Wearing Orange This Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Tyrant Nextdoor Weighs In

from Victor Katolyk at the periscope:

According to, in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, people are being arrested for supporting Yushchenko.

My own comment: This is what is awaiting Ukrainian people, too. This is coming. All legal ways of resolving the situation have been exhausted.

Don't like the writing on the wall there, big boy?

Dammit, dammit, dammit...

How'm I gonna be a real cool big time blogger when guys like Andrew Sullivan are always finding the good links? Like this Ukranian blogger who's dishing out the 411. But Andrew.... you didn't mention the link-within-a-link... tulipgirl - and SHE provides links, links, links.

NOW we're plugged in boys and girls. The revolution WILL indeed be blogged.

Dick Morris weighs in...

...and paints a pretty frightening picture:

We in the West are at best distracted and at worst willing to cede to Putin regional control in return for his assistance in the war on terror. This is a mistake of the same order of magnitude the allies made in the 1930s in dealing with Hitler.

The theft of the Ukrainian election is parallel to Germany’s decision to march into the Rhineland. And our refusal to notice or act is akin to the French and British policy of turning the other way.

Freedom may be on the march in the Middle East, but it is in full retreat in Eastern Europe.

So, again, the echo of the Nixonian question about China: Who lost the Ukraine?

full deal here

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The War of Words Escalates

"We are going to go to the presidential administration in a peaceful way, without breaking anything. And either they will give up their power, or we will take it," said Yulia Tymoshenko, who heads a faction in parliament backing Yushchenko.

"Ukraine is on the threshold of a civil conflict," the Western-leaning Yushchenko earlier told lawmakers in the chamber before his oath. "We have two choices: Either the answer will be given by the parliament, or the streets will give an answer."


Social Security and "Forced Savings"

There's a lot of smart folks on the net. Some even smarter than me (although, admittedly VERY few). Take Tyler Cowen, over at He explains inevitable problems with social security privatization that I really hadn't considered:

First, how much can our government force people to save in the first place? You can make them lock up funds in an account, but they can respond by borrowing more on their credit cards, taking out a bigger mortgage, and in general investing less in their future. The net increase in savings will be much less than the mandated increase. And this will make it much harder to avoid the welfare aspect of social security.
When do the savers receive true property rights over the funds? Surely not at 65. They could then spend it all and apply for the dole. We are back to letting people starve or constructing a secondary safety net; the latter is almost certain to happen, although that was precisely what the forced saving scheme was trying to avoid. Alternatively, the government could regulate how much a person can spend from the lockbox each year (must it limit your borrowing too?). Imagine being on the verge of death and petitioning the government to spend down your account to meet your medical bills or make a large donation. The complications are not encouraging.
Let's put aside the parallels with IRAs and the like. Those plans work as they do because we already have a safety net in place for the elderly. And note that Chile (and many other countries), which has "privatized" its social security plan, maintains a secondary safety net as well.
Private accounts meet further problems if people live for a long time. What about the woman who survives to 105? It is impractical to force everyone to save enough to last until that age. So either the 105 year olds starve or we are back to the secondary safety net. Perhaps you are a libertarian who thinks none of these people will starve; still I predict that the political pressures for public assistance will be overwhelming. We will end up with both forced savings and a welfare system.

There's more here, but that's the meat of it. Social Security privatization is a proposal I have been gung ho in support of - and I think I still am - but this is a compelling argument to think twice before diving in head first.

(But, really, I just hate it when people are smarter than me.)

An Officemate Tells Me

that this new competitor to the Knight Ridder Inquirer/Daily News monopoly has a distinctly libertarian bent. Supposedly they are having distribution issues with their first issues (printed yesterday) because they refuse to use union truckers.

I like them already.

The Plot Thickens

Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko has declared himself president in front of his supporters as crowds rallied outside parliament.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Fallout of the Ukranian election

This has the potential to get really ugly.

"We have received information that authorities want to destroy our tent city at 3 a.m. ... At two o'clock there should be more of us than now," Yushchenko said, speaking to supporters at Kiev's Independence Square, in remarks quoted by Reuters.

"We must defend every chestnut tree, every tent. We must show to the authorities we are here for a long time.... There must be more and more of us here every hour."

More at Radio Free Europe

and some possible scenarios from Reuters, including this one:

Western Ukraine declares some sort of autonomy because it refuses to recognize Yanukovich as president.

By my estimation, 3AM in Kiev is about 9PM here in Philly. Sit tight and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Great Background on Ukrainian Elections

This article paints a pretty rosy picture for the future of the Ukraine and its east-west relations.

...Yanukovych also supports, more cautiously, joining the EU: "Ukraine will move into the EU slowly." Explains Sergei Tigipko, Yanukovych's campaign manager and former governor of the National Bank, "We need to carefully negotiate favorable terms for Ukraine."

He says ties with Russia "do not prevent Ukraine from getting integrated into the World Trade Organization and the EU." Adds Tigipko: "The only pragmatic course is one that looks both east and west."

Rostyslav Khotin, editor of the Ukrainian section of the British Broadcasting Corp., sees the issue as one of timing: "There is a consensus amongst the Ukrainian ruling elite that Ukraine must be in the EU and NATO." If Yanukovych "wins, the delay may be three or four years."

... and that's the opponent of the former prime minister, who has been accused of being a US pawn. Sounds like a pretty pragamatic and reasonable approach as far as I'm concerned. I wish Belarus had this kind of free and fair elections with candidates espousing such reasonable viewpoints.

I wonder how long before years of anti-US propaganda ceases to make America a central issue in the political scene of the former Soviet states?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I'm also torn

About this

I love Arnie, and anyone who
appoints Milton Friedman and Arthur Laffer to his council of economic advisors has my vote for president, but I'm not so quick to think that amending the Constitution to allow foreign-born presidents is such a great idea. The founders knew what they were talking about - and the Constitution ought not be amended without an urgent reason. While I like the prospect of President Arnie on some level, it certainly does not fit the criteria of "urgent".

As farfetched as the idea of a foreigner scheming to take the presidency and then proceeding to act against America's interests, it must be protected against, however remote. Stranger things have happened in human history.

More likely, however, is the simple truth that any foreign-born president would, quite naturally, have a pre-disposition to favor his homeland in foreign relations. There are a number of ways in which this could manifest itself, some relatively benign - perhaps a sweetheart trade deal or two - some perhaps not so inconsequential - military aid or arms, or even action on behalf of the nation in question.

If the constitution were to be changed, I have to say I'd be likely to vote for Arnold. But I certainly cannot support an admendment that would make that a possibility.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I'm torn

About this.

I think the rules ARE disregarded too often, and making the establishment follow them under all circumstances IS a noble goal.

However, the third parties need to realize that at this point, they are running a PR campaign. And everything they do has to be looked at through that prism. This will be taken by many to be whiny and petty and thus is poor PR.

Probably not a good place to put your energies, in my opinion.

Looking at the election as a whole, however. If the Dems buy the bullshit media line about this being a "moral issues" victory, and start moving socially towards the GOP on religion, gay marriage, the drug war, etc. the libertarians will have a hole big enough to drive a truck through.

The super bonus in this scenario is that this would accomplish the split of the social lefties (ACLU types) from the anti-capitalists - hopefully bringing some of the folks in the former group to see personal freedom as something that should extend into the economic portion of our lives.

Well, when I dream at night, this is what happens, anyways. In reality, it appears the LP is content to play the role of mosquito to the elephants and asses of the two major parties.

What you gonna do?

Oh, and another note to the Libertarian Party. How about a real website, that you update from time to time. It's embarassing that as one of your supporters, I have to link to the Greens to get the party news.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Unions Violate Election Laws?

Ya don't say??!!

It appears that
America Coming Together (through money pilfered from their paychecks) is shredding the evidence. Oddly enough, it's not mentioned on their website.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Record Exports?

What? How can this be? Weren't we losing all our jobs overseas? Outsourcing is going to be the death of our economy, right? We can't compete with those $2/hour workers in China, can we? The trade deficit was the death of the dollar, wasn't it?

Record exports? That's gotta be a lie. We'll get on those numbers right after we figure out what was wrong with the Ohio vote tally.

Everyone, welcome Tony Kornheiser back

to the realm of radio, where he belongs. Sorry Neal Boortz, but my headphones will be streaming Sportstalk 980 in the AM from this point forward. It's the only sports talk show that won't insult your intelligence - although you Philly locals won't get to hear 16 replays of Andy Reid's monotone injury lists every Monday or the WIP callers' take on Samuel Dalembert's hamstring. I think you'll manage to get by.

Tony Rules.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Money Quote

There is no party of tolerance in Washington -- just a party that wages its crusades in the name of Christ and a party that wages its crusades in the name of Four Out Of Five Experts Agree. Sometimes they manage to work together. I say fie on both.

Jesse Walker

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The characteristic trait of

the socialist ideology constantly extolled in the pages of London's Guardian is ever-present unintended consequences.

From George Will's column:

Republicans should send a large spray of flowers to thank the British newspaper The Guardian. It urged readers to write letters to residents of Ohio's Clark County -- the city of Springfield and environs -- urging them to defeat Bush. The backfire from Ohio was so strong (e.g., one resident told The Guardian, ``If you want to save the world, begin with your own worthless corner of it,''), the paper quickly canceled its intervention. In 2000 Bush lost Clark County to Al Gore. This year Clark was the only one of Ohio's 88 counties to support Bush after opposing him in 2000.

As one who once owed $600

to Baltimore city for bullshit parking tickets - I am feeling Moxie on this one. (well, not literally of course, that would cause problems with the wife - you know?)

Big "L" for small "l" libertarians?

The election is looking disasterous for the libertarian cause. No, not because of any particular policy George W. may put into place. Yeah, I know the Patriot Act ain't exactly pro-civil rights, and yeah, i know the FCC is gonna be expanding it's reach. No, I'm not too pleased about the government subsidized churches we're gonna end up with under the banner of "faith-based" initiatives.

No, it's no those individual encroachments on our personal and economic freedoms that have really got me worked up. It's the idea that the Democrats might be reading this election loss as the sole result of the power of social conservatism. Now, I grant you that the possibility exists that they know better - that this is simply a way to delude themselves into thinking the GOP is merely drawing the support of ignorant religious fanatics - but that, when the time comes to analyze this back at the HQ back in Berkeley, they'll see there was other stuff on the table. I'd like to think that would be the case - and perhaps that they would look beyond gay marriage, and see the sovereignty issues and the wealth redistribution issues and the defense issues that contributed equally, or (in my mind) in greater part to their narrow defeat.

But the sheer volume of the "religious right did it" cry is too big to ignore. Over at Slate, they are running a series of commentaries, with the nearly unanimous refrain that social conservatism is what lifted the GOP to victory.

Rove's gamble that he could find more Bush supporters from among nonvoting social conservatives than from the small number of undecideds in the usual voting public worked exactly as designed.

- Chris Sullentrop

Some of you are dismayed by the emergence of a huge voting bloc of churchgoers. Stop viewing this as a threat, and start viewing it as an opportunity. Socially conservative blue-collar workers don't believe in the free market. They believe in the work ethic. Bush wins their votes by equating the free market with the work ethic. Show them where the free market betrays the work ethic, and they'll vote for the party of the work ethic—you—against the party of the free market.

- William Saletan

The legacy of that Democratic defeat is the nearly impregnable Republican coalition of Southern Protestants and Northern—especially Midwestern—Catholics. Voting as a result has been a fairly constant dynamic of region and religion. White men over 40 have been leading the charge with voting levers in hand as scimitars to slay nearly every Democratic messenger. They'll sacrifice better economics to protect icons and their sense of faith.

- Hank Sheinkopf

etc. etc. etc. Just go over to Slate and check it out. It's all morals, morals, morals, and that means social conservatism.

So why does this threaten us as libertarians? Because, although there is occasional lip service to "never caving" on the social issues - it appears to me that the Dems are at a crossroads. They are deciding what's more important to them - redistributionist economics and the defeat of markets or the protection of civil liberties and the separation of church and state. And to a man it appears they are more attached to socialism and protectionism. They are convinced they have it right on hindering the markets, and appear ready to move towards the Republicans on the social issues. It looks to me like we may have a socially conservative, economically liberal Democratic party which would be the antithesis of libertarian values. And what scares me beyond the mere existence of such a party? The idea that the strategy just may pay off. If the Dems evolve in this manner - and it works - the GOP will be abandoning their tax-cutting, Social Security reforming ways faster than you can say "Arlen Specter for President". The result of this policy duel could be a nanny state the likes of which we've never seen. And there's nothing for a libertarian to like about that.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Well, Hot Damn

Philly's #1 - and it wasn't even the corrupt municipal government or VD.

I'm so proud!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Tom Friedman Spends too much time away from Home

He's buying part and parcel into the "it's all a religious right thing" interpretation.

Do these people live in the same world as me? Do they understand that terrorism, the economy, taxation, the role of international government, and character issues were all on the table as well? Why did I think these were the biggest issues during the campaign?

Isn't this the guy who talks about how no two countries with McDonald's have ever declared war on each other? Didn't he hear Kerry's protectionist trade rhetoric? Can't HE, of all people, understand how dangerous that is?

Look, I'm glad that Bush won, but I'm beginning to question if anyone understands what's really happening in the world. Apparently the biggest issue we have is gay marriage. How stupid of me to think otherwise.

Even I'm Surprised

that Kerry's class warfare rhetoric didn't work better. Thomas Sowell tells us just how much it failed, and has a couple of conjectures as to why.

I've been fuming

for approximately 48 hours about the liberal media's (and Bill Bennett's) painting this victory as the victory of homophobic fundamentalist Christians over the reasonable folks in society. I'd been mulling it over in my head - bothered by the whole concept, after all I might have been a Bush voter, and I'm all for gay rights, right? But I guess there was also a side of me that feared it may be true. Maybe the country doesn't give a shit about Social Security reform, or free market economics, or the tyranny of international organizations after all. Maybe Andrew Sullivan is right, maybe it really is just a gay-bashing ecumenical frenzy that renewed Bush's lease on 1600 PA Ave.

Thankfully, John Hood over at the John Locke Foundation is there to reassure me:

It's official, everyone: the media spin
I fumed out earlier today, the attribution of Bush's win simply to a higher turnout among socially conservative voters worried about same-sex marriage, is false. The pundits repeating it have not apparently bothered to check the numbers out. Perhaps it was considered one of those "too good to check" stories that bear out preconceived notions and biases.In this case, liberal media elites and Democratic activists desperately want the thesis to be true. They want to pretend that they won every salient argument with Bush and his supporters, so the Kerry loss must be attributable to something else. It couldn't be due to a preference for Bush over Kerry on a number of issues, including his foreign policies. So it is all about the culture wars.

More here

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Okay, so I wasn't the only one who noticed that

Newsmax focuses on PA, but it was the close vote in Wisconsin that I was watching.

Lest I get too Uppity

and think that us libertarians could enjoy a little piece of this victory. Along comes Bill Bennett to remind us that this ain't our party. (Pun intended)

Mad Props to Kerry

on his handling of this situation. Not saying anything stupid last night. Waiting to make certain of the inevitable, and when it's uncontestable, conceding graciously.

Now don't screw it up in the concession speech.

Call it already

Bush won.

I'd like to say that this is an affirmation of markets, lower taxes, American sovereignty, Social Security reform, and maybe even tax reform.

But I fear it's an affirmation of bloated government spending, homophobia, restrained civil liberties, and interventionist foreign policies.

Nevertheless, I have to admit, I'm much more comfortable with this than the prospect of a Kerry presidency.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

I voted at lunch... Passing at least 1,352 Kerry/Edwards signs and one or two Bush ones. the town has the feel of a Communist Party rally, with the one opposition (Bush) supporter at 15th and Locust carefully looking over his shoulder for fear of being ambushed. What a city.

Think there's a few democratic supporters shipped in to town? Every block has a delegation. Here's conversation I overheard between two chicks wearing "Young Democrat" shirts outside of Hightops bar on 15th St.

Chick 1 -(holding cigarette - calling to her friend who's going in) - Hold up! I can't go in there.

Chick 2 - Sure you can. You can smoke here.

Well, I personally would like to thank the good folks from NYC for coming down here and instructing us backwards hick folk how to vote. NOW GO HOME!!!

Bitter? Me? Nah.

Well, I suppose I'll have more later on this evening as the totals start rolling in. It'd be nice to have a concession speech from somebody by, say... 2AM huh? I ain't holding my breath.