Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A few more at midnight (pivnich) 

OK, I lied, I couldn't wait to grab the Weds. morning Euro headlines. Top of the list is Nick Paton-Walsh talks about the attempt of the Yushchenko campaign to keep Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk at least on the sidelines, if not crossing over to Yushchenko.
Oleg Ribachuk, head of the Ukrainian opposition campaign, said he took Viktor Pinchuk, Mr Kuchma's billionaire son-in law and a key backer of the prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, for a walk through streets crammed with anti-government protesters early yesterday morning.

"I walked with him through the streets of Kiev last night to show him that the protesters are not children or drunks," he told the Guardian.

"Kuchma is becoming more aware about what is really happening out there."

He said there was growing pressure on Mr Kuchma, and described last night's presidential statement, in which he acknowledged that there might have to be a new election, as a remarkable climb-down.

He said: "I have been talking to close members of his family. They asked me how we would react if the supreme court said Mr Yanukovich was the clear winner. I said that the president, who created this system, would have the finger pointed at him."

Mr Pinchuk is thought to be open to negotiations on a Yushchenko presidency.

I'm not sure I am buying this, as other reports suggest Pinchuk himself could be a candidate if there are new elections. Pinchuk is another television network owner and part of the clan in Kyiv -- if he could neutralize Yushchenko's advantage in Kyiv and hold the advantages in eastern Ukraine, he's a viable candidate. And he doesn't exactly have clean hands, and he has ties to Akhmetov. The discussion of Serhiy Tyhypko running instead strike me as more plausible.

Weds. morning's NYT has a piece from C. K. Chivers with some commentary from one of Kuchma's advisors.

[Kuchma]'s task is to orchestrate an exit in which his retirement is safe and his legacy tarnished no further.

"This is what Kuchma has to do today," said Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Studies and one of the president's advisers.

The task is not straightforward. Over the years, Mr. Kuchma has been accused of public corruption, of ordering the killing of an investigative journalist and, lately, of taking part in electoral fraud. Some in the opposition have called for his arrest.

One reason he has been eager to pass power to a loyal subordinate, political analysts and a senior Western diplomat said, has been to ensure he would face no such legal action.

Dr. Pogrebinsky and the diplomat said the opposition had offered to guarantee Mr. Kuchma a secure retirement, a maneuver the opposition has not publicly confirmed. But Dr. Pogrebinsky also said that Mr. Kuchma has little reason to trust his enemies and that for an offer to be considered seriously, it would need a powerful foreign guarantor.

I wonder whether this is the role Kwasniewski is expected to play; the opposition will not hear of using Russia.

Worrisome news I explored later tonight is that the Communists, who had been on the sidelines before this point, now appear to have thrown in with Yanukovych. It was in this way that 232 deputies out of 440 in the Rada voted to rescind the no-confidence vote in the Central Election Committee report on the election. We can only wonder what might have happened had unrest outside gotten the parliamentary session recessed. (who caused it? we're not sure -- see comments around 7am Tuesday here)

If it gets to a re-vote with the current two candidates, the pollster who had Yushchenko winning by 11 points on Election Day now shows him up 16 points.

On the light side, here and here are lessons on how to chant like an Orange. What, can't transliterate? Let me help you.

Vivtorok vechir 

Evening (vechir) time, last roundup of the day. It's been a day of great nervousness. Lileks' Andriy and my student Sasha seem nervous, the latter hopeful that Solana and Kwasniewski will pull some chestnuts out of the fire. A few days ago some were hoping the Europeans would take Kuchma away on the plane. Thus how nervous friends outside of Kyiv are about current events. At least they have the weathermen working for them!

Le Sabot Post-Moderne has two interesting tidbits: a friend who says "His business is at 20% of the pre-election total. He's very worried about economic recession, and mentioned that there have been some preliminary runs on banks;" there is some evidence of that in this order from the National Bank to restrict outflows of foreign currency from the banks. LSPM mentions this story I had seen that Russia offered to go all Czechoslovakia 68 on Ukraine but got spooked by the numbers in Maidan. I had dismissed it when I saw it, but I failed to remember that the story in and of itself rattles the opposition even if a fabrication. LSPM mentioning it makes it newsworthy, and stories abound in the Ukrainian press of Russians landing hither and yon, only to be blocked by opposition protests. One of his commenters notes as well that the crisis is costing the Russians money, too. (What? You saw my crocodile tears?) Separatist talks are now considered a "hastily arranged Plan B", though Rada speaker Lytvyn thinks they are premeditated. CBS News reports that Putin is saying hands off, and yet Europe arrives on a plane to Kyiv.

In the coming day the Parliament will come back to hear another attempt at setting elections aside and getting Yanukovych and his cabinet removed. The Supreme Court is reportedly going to make its decision. To Western readers I suspect this sounds like things are coming to a head. They aren't. One side has to cry "dyadko" first, and neither side looks at all ready.

UPDATE (8:50pm): Anders Aslund, who was advising Ukraine at the same time I worked there and still works with some people there, was on Talk of the Nation yesterday, which I listened to just now. He's much more optimistic than I am -- "the biggest question is whether new elections will be held on the 12th or the 19th," he seemed convinced they would be nationwide -- but then he was speaking yesterday when many people were. In an op-ed on the Action Ukraine list, he also has this cogent observation.
One outstanding danger is that the process takes too long time so that people get tired or the sheer costs of disruption rise. Another worry is that the good-hearted Yushchenko gets cheated in a negotiation. I feel much safer if he sends Tymoshenko, Zinchenko or Poroshenko to a nasty negotiation. Yet, at this stage negotiations should be minimized.
The "good-hearted" comment resonates with my memory of Yushchenko as well. And it turns out he predicted the nastiness and the minimization within a day.

Secession wholly a Russian idea? 

Need to run to a meeting with Littlest Scholar's teacher, so not much more until tonight. While you wait (and I have some more things to share), consider this piece by James Sherr, and particular this thought.

President Putin's calculations remain a critical variable. Thus far, his policy has been based upon a combination of deliberation, delusion and guile, all underpinned by compelling geopolitical interest. These interests far outweigh any gains that might be achieved by honest collaboration with third parties. Putin's greatest delusion, endemic to the circles who advise him, is the underestimation of Ukrainian national consciousness and civil society. Deliberation, reflected in the intimate involvement of Russian 'political technologists' in Ukraine's electoral fraud, has run into the buffers of these delusions. Now the Kremlin fears that events are moving out of its control ('we have dropped out of the circle of active players'). To regain control, it is necessary to change the game. Secession, the means to this end, launches a new game.

If this conclusion is correct, then both Kuchma and Putin will shift the ground of discussion from democracy and legality to the right of Ukraine's authorities to 'hold the country together'. Kuchma, a weak but infinitely supple figure, has already done this. On 29 November, he declared secession 'unacceptable under any circumstances': a formula designed (even in the face of a Supreme Court ruling) to provide legitimacy for a forceful solution. Western governments should be wary of adopting this language, thereby giving credence to a largely fabricated scenario and inadvertently providing legitimacy to a course of action that we earnestly seek to

In anything I ever wrote about Kuchma I have never used the words "a weak but infinitely supple figure". As I think more about that, it's an apt description. And it would fit Yanukovych even more.

As things begin to get hot over there, keep your fingers crossed that the supple Kuchma bends to the will of those in Maidan.

Updates here possible before 6pm CT, else new post later tonight.

I just found James' Christmas present 

Sssssh, don't tell him. Wanna peek?

Mitch, Mexican Radio is a definitely a bumper-to-be.

Novels to re-read 

Hugh fried a bunch of callers for suggesting Atlas Shrugged. I am actually fonder of The Fountainhead, but both of them get into the re-read list for me as well. I thought about calling in with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but I figured he would call it non-fiction and make me hang up on myself. I mentioned this to Craig Westover and David Strom Saturday and Craig said he preferred Lila. But then, he sails, so of course he would. (Yes, I owned motorcycles before I was married. Some day...) David hasn't told me what he would read because he's still too distracted by the Canadian girl at the bottom of his latest post.

A fairly recent author that I've already read twice is Alan Furst's The World at Night twice. The plots are good, but the atmospherics of World War II Europe are great. That book is set mostly in Vichy France; other of his books are set further east, and all are good. What would it have been like to live in occupied France, or occupied Hungary, or ... ? I find that fascinating.

Current book, if you care: Robert Wilson's The Company of Strangers. In this case, Portugal is the location, as it is for several of Wilson's books.

Dobre Vivtorok! 

There's a woman on campus who signs every email with "Happy [day of week]". I'm going to use that for posts on Ukraine. Keep happy thoughts!

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback I'm receiving. If only I had waited until now to release my book*, maybe I could get one of those pictures on top of Hugh's site. Or Hugh's site.

Captain Ed digs about in the news and still sees hope that new elections will happen. But the real story he has is in the addendum, referring to this link describing Yanukovych's attempt to buy off Yushchenko with the premiership if he'll relent and let Yanukovych be president. Ed notes,
One thing is clear -- Yanukovych knows he can't win in a second, cleaner election and will do almost anything to keep from contesting it.
It's been suggested that the original vote was probably pretty close, but the events of the last week have likely tarnished Yanukovych so much that Yushchenko would practically have a walkover in a re-runoff. But the offer is ominous insofar as it should dampen the optimism everyone has that a re-vote will occur. I've been practically a sole naysayer on this, but I do not believe that Kuchma and Yankovych have resigned themselves to a re-vote; the offer Kuchma made yesterday had more conditions than a condo lease, and Yanukovych's offer for re-voting includes both he and Yushchenko agreeing not to be candidates. Ya. is a titular head, of course, for the Donetsk clan, who can certainly generate another face for the posters. Yushchenko has no good substitutes -- those who think Tymochenko can be that person need to read this article and pause, please, to consider that she's already tried to run herself -- and in a quickened timeframe the Orangists would lose to a well-financed Donetsk of Dniepropetrovsk apparatchik. Yushchenko wisely has declined these offers.

(UPDATE: Captain Ed now notes the collapse of talks.)

There is definitely a sense of things coming to a head at this point, but we've been down this road before. Yushchenko's party has called for a meeting of the parliament (or Rada, in Ukrainian) for 9pm tonight asking for people to vote. Yushchenko spoke to the parliament himself earlier, ending his speech with a historical anecdote:
When Alexander the Great came home after his campaign, he has met Diogenes. �What can I do for you? � � asked Alexander. �Don't stand in my light�, - followed the Diogenes� answer. So, the government, don't stay in the country's light!

But I'm told that the Rada cannot pass a binding no-confidence vote in Yanukovych because there is an article in their constitution which forbids a no-confidence vote for one year after accepting a prime minister's program. The blockade of government buildings now has resumed, increasing tensions in the capital (see for example this picture from the Rada.)

There are also signs that the second day of the Supreme Court is not going as well for Yushchenko as the first. There are procedural issues, including strict time limits on filing claims of vote fraud, and it isn't clear those limits were met.

Hopeful note: Hotline reports that the separation vote in Donetsk won't happen.

Among the Ukrainian blogs, I'm really enjoying Veronica Khokhlova, who has the skeptical eye I wish more American journalists would have. Scroll away, all good. Most interesting thought: The revote might not be just Yu. and Ya. The parliament speaker and Ya.'s ex-campaign chief (the central bank governor who quit yesterday), are speculated to be possibilities. And of course behind them all lies Kuchma. Scott Clark has good posts here (on the meaningfulness of Saturday's parliamentary vote) and here on whether there are parallels in vote fraud in Ukraine and the United States. There isn't.

There are enough offers flying around, however, that it's now unlikely the vote from ten days ago will be allowed to stand. There is going to be some extra-legal solution to this thing. Javier Solana and Aleksander Kwiasniewski are flying to see Kuchma tonight, and the parliament comes back into session tomorrow, so perhaps Kuchma will receive an offer he can't refuse. The screws are tightening.

*(OK, here's the Amazon link. But, if you want a shorter, updated paper, and for free, I have one here from 2002. Someday I'll tell you why I never have seen a penny from the book. Short version: I'm an idiot.**)

**--(Nobody cares about the long version. And we knew the short one already -- Ed.)

Monday, November 29, 2004

A Uke here and an American there agree 

I got a note this evening from Lileks' friend Andriy, known in the Bleat as "the crazy Uke" (not Ute, Hugh*) with comments about the events there.
So far, my only complaint is the two main MSM meme's about "disputed results" and "divided country". The results are not in dispute, everyone knows they're more crooked than Billy's willy. ... The "divided country" b.s. is a convenient, albeit irresponsibly lazy play on the blue state/red state formula reflective of the American election. In Ukraine the division is not so much between the "Ukrainian nationalist" west and "industrial Russian-speaking" east as it is between freedom seeking and downtrodden masses and the criminally corrupt mafia (i.e. communist) based oligarchs.

The question that begs to be asked in this context is how does a nation that was a founding member of the U.N. find itself bifurcated on the basis of language? The answer of course is simple and direct. After 70 years of genocide, terror, privation, deportation, war and Russification what language would you be speaking? The notion that Ukraine cannot survive intact is purely a construct of Putin and the Ukrainophobes in Moscow that will, at any cost, endeavor to maintain control over Ukraine's people, economy and resources.

He's echoed by this post at Le Sabot Post-Moderne (quoted in full)

One of the tragic things I see developing is that the Western media narrative seems to be falling into a US vs. Russia play. And I'm seeing more and more commentary in that vein on the web. So few seem to grasp that this is about an entire system, not about an election. Yes, the people are rallying for Yushchenko, but it goes so, so much deeper than that.

The events in Ukraine are about a people fighting free of the grayness, corruption, abuse and fatalism of the post-Soviet era. All of you, Right or Left, need to see them as people. Yes, there are geopolitical ramifications. But they should be so incredibly secondary to the humanity of the Ukrainian people -- these are flesh and blood human beings who are fighting to be free of a vicious, grinding system.

People are proud to be Ukrainian, proud that their country is now known for something other than mafia, dead journalists, and corruption. People who a week ago were convinced of their own powerlessness are now standing fearlessly, singing together, "We are many, we are one, we can't be stopped!"

Can anyone be so dead of heart not to find this beautiful?

As I suggested in this post a week ago, the question is whether Ukraine would take the Georgian or Armenian model of reaction to a stolen election? Georgia (without Abkhazia) and Armenia have far fewer ethnic Russians as a share of their population, and the deciding factors in those countries had nothing to do with split or unsplit ethnolingustics. It had everything to do with people who had decided they had had enough. It makes me think we Armenians might be the Cub fans of the post-Soviet world, we seem to put up with so much crap from our own leadership; Ukraine getting real democracy will be a bigger surprise than the Red Sox were.

*--word is Hugh will soon retire to the Utah.

Moving off the kopeck 

Someone else has friends in high places: Check out PowerLine's letter from Michael Bleyzer, who is a big-time investment banker and media operator in Ukraine. Here's some of Bleyzer's history as a philanthropist trying to develop entrepreneurs in his country, and here acting as a cheerleader for Ukraine. About this weeks events, Bleyzer writes,

It has become clear to any observer that this crowd is bound to win. There is absolutely no way to stop this crowd without a massive blood bath, which is almost impossible to imagine to take place in the center of Europe, with all the world's TV cameras [present] ...

All major channels had previously been completely ignoring the millions of people on the streets, never reporting it and instead showing cartoons, classical music concerts and exotic travel destinations. We knew that most journalists from the major channels had either been fired by then or had gone on strike because they refused to continue broadcasting lies. As a result, all news programs on National channels 1 and 2, Inter, 1+1, Noviy, and others simply ceased any and all operations. For 3 days in a row, most of Ukraine, which only has access to the major channels, had no TV news. Imagine that - the very day after a major election - no news for three days, no morning news, no evening news, no news at all! All these channels simply had no creative staff left to produce bogus news. All fired or on strike.

Thursday night it all changed. The management and owners of all of the major channels gave in to the demands of their striking journalists and allowed honest news reporting for the first time in the history of independent Ukraine. Some of the channels like National Channel 1 and 1+1 began their evening news broadcast on Thursday with a group shot of all journalists standing together and one of them reading a statement from the creative staff in which they swore to report honest news and honest news only! This was one of the most unbelievable sights I have ever seen. And then the miracle happened - they showed a direct feed of a million proud Ukrainians on Maidan in Kyiv to the whole country. If there are defining moments in the birth of a Nation, that was certainly one! I am so proud to be able to witness it with my own eyes, in spite of all the tears that covered them at that moment.

When I wrote my book on Ukraine, I said that I went to Ukraine looking for the gravitational pull I thought would happen to move Ukraine from plan to market. I didn't find it there. Ukraine didn't really demand independence in 1991 in a meaningful way; it saw Moscow too weak to protect its claim on the USSR's resources and decided to redirect the flows from Moscow to Kyiv. This was the history of Leonid Kravchuk's, Ukraine's first president, rise to power, and what motivated Kuchma as well. It appeared that countries making the move from a planned economy and a closed society could get stuck along the spectrum between plan and market, between kleptocracy and democracy, and it would need a kick to move it further along the path.

This week might just be that kick.

Meanwhile in my blog's other life 

I didn't check my comment email box until now, and I find Peter Swanson has sent me a link to a great post about the Homecoming Queen royalty controversy, which has found its way to the New York Times. No wonder everyone here's so happy to see me blog on Ukraine rather than my usual mucking about in academia. I wish I had thought of Peter's suggestion to blot out the face of the queen with a blue dot. According to one source on campus, the student has indeed been taped for a news magazine program with his face in silohuette. More details as I get them.

Meanwhile, however, could someone from the administration please explain this?
St. Cloud's president, Roy H. Saigo, who supported Mr. Khang's candidacy, and other administrators distributed a statement on a university e-mail list shortly after Mr. Khang was elected.
We reported that letter here and a related letter here. Did he support the candidacy before the election of the homecoming queen or after? If before, how was this support manifested?

Kuchma may not have the army, but assets remain 

There is some evidence now that the potential yesterday for action to remove the protestors from Independence Square and elsewhere might have not only been real but was thwarted only by a military decision to stand down. Interfax-Ukraine

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk said he is categorically opposed to declaring a state of emergency in the country or using force to deal with the political crisis.

"Those who make such statements need to think about their words," Kuzmuk told journalists after a session of parliamentary faction leaders and members of government on Monday.

According to my student listening to Ukrainian sources, the order to break up the demonstrators for last night was given around 11pm Kyiv time, and was about to be executed when, at a couple minutes before midnight, a second order came to stand down. Some of these troops would have come from Borispil airport. These would likely have cooperated with the forces reportedly on display on Shovkovychna and Hrushevsky streets. Today at a rally after the Supreme Court hearings Yushchenko and Tymoshenko had a general nearby who spoke to this effect. I think it's becoming rather clear that Kuchma has at best a tenuous grip on the regular military and police forces. He may resort, alas, to what we might call "irregulars".

Terry Rogers and Daniel Medley are arguing the end is near and that Yushchenko will win the presidency shortly. This article suggests the same. But, as Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend! They may think the secessionist talk is all shapka and no salo, but it's worth remembering in that article that one guy is still pulling for Yanukovych, and he's the guy with a lot of chips on the table.

...insiders allege that Donetsk-based businessman Rinat Akhmetov continues to back Yanukovych and the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.

Akhmetov is reportedly Ukraine�s richest man, also valued at about $3 billion. Akhmetov�s purpose in lobbying for eastern autonomy, according to insiders, is to make sure he retains control over these regions and his businesses there. He is involved in steel mills, coal mines, breweries, a mobile phone company and the

Media analysts say Donetsk-based television channel TRK Ukraina, majority owned by Akhmetov, has been using its news programs to support the autonomy movement.

I'm not sure it's wise to bet against this guy having some more tricks up his sleeve before this is all done. This article in Zerkalo Nedeli shows how close he and Yanukovych are, and Tom Warner writes about Akhmetov as well. (Old time Ukraine observers will know that Warner is an old hand from the early Kyiv Post days -- as reliable as you will find.) I believe the Donetsk clan is circling the wagons rather than circling the drain, and they are not out of ammo. Thus Kommersant Daily (via Kyiv Post) is also reporting the presence of Russian troops. Reporters are getting beaten as are people favoring Yushchenko in eastern Ukraine. The government says all this unrest is bad for the economy (maybe like a "house of cards"). And Putin isn't going away even if his own newspapers start questioning the wisdom of his actions. Listening to this report from NPR will not give you much comfort either. And if that's not enough, if I can find the video to this story -- I saw it on Fox this AM -- you will be disgusted. I certainly get the idea of there being tipping points, but I'm not seeing it just yet.

The Supreme Court case is in recess, with the Yanukovych lawyers given until tomorrow morning to respond to the case laid out today by Yushchenko's team. veronica watched it all and has eyewitness accounts here and here and here to give you a flavor of the proceedings.

Tales from Independence Square: Go read Orange Ukraine, top to bottom. For two days work, crackin' good.

Share the love -- the Spirit of America challenge 

It's been terribly gratifying to get all this traffic the last few days -- it puts a spring in one's step to know so many people are reading. If you would like to express any gratitude, I'd prefer you give to the Northern Alliance's Spirit of America challenge. We're running behind Little Green Footballs right now (thus no link love for them), so we're working hard. All monies go to the many SOA projects going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Please give generously.

Kuchma has agreed to re-elections? 

Captain Ed cites an AFP wire report:

"If we really want to preserve peace and agreement in Ukraine, and really want to build a legitimate democratic society that we so often talk about... then let's hold new elections," Kuchma said Monday in televised remarks.

Kuchma said he was ready to seek new solutions to the crisis even if this meant
stepping outside the standard procedures for resolving the standoff.

"The situation we find ourselves in today in Ukraine demands not only strictly legal decision, but also political decisions," Kuchma said.

(11:30am CT) I am investigating this. My Ukrainian student is listening to news reports and says this is not a real offer, that Kuchma is not only offering to redo the second round but the first as well. This could take 180 days. This is exactly the scenario I thought may happen -- Kuchma doesn't want Yanukovych as much as he wants himself to be president. If he can buy six months, he has found his ideal solution.

My student also reports Yushchenko has refused this offer and is holding out for the Supreme Court decision.

The parliament is scheduled to meet tomorrow, whereupon it is expected Yushchenko's party will seek the ouster of Yanukovych along with his interior minister and prosecutor-general.

Updated 11:45am: Someone suggests that this story would have us believe Yanukovych would agree to a re-vote, but note that it's conditional on a finding of fraud. All that offer means is that if the Supreme Court says to throw out the previous vote, he'll take a revote. Of course, the Court could decide to invalidate results in some precincts and not others which could conceivably give Yushchenko victory without another ballot. So Yanukovych could be just limiting damage.

This is a developing story. Stand by for more details as I can find them.

Meanwhile --

Sergiy Tihipko, a key ally of Yanukovych and governor of the National Bank, has resigned all his positions. According to Yanukovych is worried.
I'm warning you against any radical measures. Once the first drop of blood is spilled, we will not be able to stop it.
It's no longer clear who is controlling the events there; the meeting in Severodonetsk, containing many regional governors who no doubt will fear a "clean hands" campaign Yushchenko has pledged to start, was also attended by Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov. One report I got suggests that the Donetsk government is taking all of its cues now directly from Russia.

This post will be updated through the day as details come in.

On Another Front 

All is not quite on the constitutional front in South Korea. Twice in one year, the Constitutional Court has found itself in an unenviable position of having to �interpret the Constitution� on cases of blatantly political nature.

In May, the court turned down the National Assembly�s clumsy motion to impeach the nation�s President. Five months later, the court struck down a hastily-written law to move the country�s capital out of Seoul. Relocation of the capital had been the President�s signature policy.

Both times, the court�s rulings were received, with or without applause depending on your politics, as nothing more than politically-dictated decisions.

I have written an opinion pointing out theoretical deficiency in the court�s decision against the capital�s transfer. I argued that the court�s invocation of unwritten constitutional law in this case (�Seoul as the country�s capital amounts to customary constitutional law�) lacks jurisprudential grounds. Since then, I came to realize that my piece may have led some Korean readers to label its writer as a supporter of capital�s move and, ergo, pro-government.

This is unfortunate. Apart from being miffed by having my own view misunderstood, I find it rather disheartening that constitutional and legal arguments do not seem to matter much in Korea. Not many seem willing to debate constitutional matters on juridical grounds these days; instead, they simply zero in on the political implications of the rulings.

To be sure every constitutional case is a political case and the court cannot avoid the political dimensions of its responsibilities. Brushing off controversial decisions as mere partisan politics does not, however, help constitutional development in Korea.

Yesterday�s Korean newspapers reported that there is a movement to file a suit against the court�s refusal to disclose pre-decisional records relative to this case. This is just another in a series of challenges by those who disagreed with the ruling. They demanded that the court turn over justices� deliberations, draft memoranda, draft opinions, and research memos.

Those behind this newest challenge claim that the court�s closed-door proceedings, something supposedly akin to Byzantine secrecy, are intrinsically opposed to democracy.

They are not. Court deliberations sheltered from public scrutiny and political pressures are necessary to provide for an effective and candid discussion among the court members.

It is dubious what can be achieved from disclosing court deliberations, other than a sort of witch-hunt, singling out individual justices for their political views. This attempt is squarely based on the assumption that the justices merely acted out of their political allegiances. Some members of the ruling party even called for the resignation of the justices. We may as well forget about judicial independence.

The majority of the court can be chastised for failing to interpret the constitution faithfully. But allowing individual justice to be judged and blamed for his or her political value orientations is treacherous. The court should try to avoid political thickets as much as possible, and the public should refrain from treating it as a popular instrument of politics.

Once Koreans begin to give up on the belief that the court need be supported even when we disagree with it, it�s only a dismal slippery slope. Once you prefer exposing the court to political pressures, there is little hope to expect it to protect your fundamental rights and liberties. Then Korea�s constitutional order will indeed be in trouble.

Pohang, South Korea

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Late night ultimata 

It's early Monday morning in Ukraine, and here's the links you need overnight. I'll do a more analytical post in the morning when I don't have a head full of my students' senior theses (only five to go, thanks for asking!)

It seems to me that the Kuchma government, with presumably the approval of its candidate Yanukovych, has been moving military forces and buses of supporters towards Kyiv. Sometimes they get stopped; sometimes they show up, display their force, and then back off. I agree with Le Sabot that this isn't just the Yushchenko people blowing smoke. What we cannot be certain of is what kind of force can be deployed at this point.

Yanukovych was in Severodonetsk, hanging with his peeps as it were. The separatist talks have indeed continued, which is what is provoking Yushchenko to ask for charges to be filed. Non Tibi Spiro has a skeptical discussion of the legalities of Yushchenko's demand. I think it's all about getting Yanukovych away from the levers of power that come with being PM.

Someone got me to mention Abkhazia as a parallel in a comment. Like clockwork, here's an article published Sunday expanding on that thought. Things have not gone well where Putin has meddled. The Moscow Times carries a story with the comparisons between Ukraine and Georgia.
...the Ukrainian and Georgian events differ most strikingly in terms of the breadth of support for the protesters. Even the most optimistic exit polls of the Ukrainian opposition revealed that it enjoyed only a slight majority of the voters. The population was deeply divided along regional and ethnic lines, something that correlated with differences over whether the country should cast its lot with the West or with Russia.
Several observers think this means separation is likely. I just don't see, still, what the Russians gain taking in Donetsk and Luhansk, but there's little doubt they still covet Crimea (remember, it was Russian until 1954.) It already has greater autonomy than other areas. So that might be a prize Russia can collect with a Yushchenko victory, but it would be vigorously fought.

See also Reuben Johnson's excellent piece in the Weekly Standard on the Russian role.

So Yushchenko, through his "right hand" Yulia Tymoshenko, has decided to issue a series of demands to be met by the end of Monday. Chiefly, they want Kuchma to fire Yanukovych, the governors in the separatist states, and the Central Election Committee.
If the demands are not met, we will begin blocking with people the movements of Kuchma himself on the territory of Ukraine. We know where he is and how he is moving about. And we are able to ensure that he will not make a single step without complying with our demands.
I swear, she gets the best lines. The most important thing is that the attention is turning from Yanukovych to Kuchma, which is a clear indication of where they believe the obstruction is. Kuchma has tried to stand in the middle and look like a third party to this, which is of course incorrect. So the opposition is going to be sure the two are put on the same side of the line, across from the Orangists, and make each responsible for the acts of the other. Foreign Notes weighs Kuchma's options.

Lastly, a salute for Natalya Dmitruk.

When the anchorwoman for Ukraine's state-owned television station UT-1 reported Thursday morning that Viktor Yanukovych had officially been declared the winner of the presidential election, Natalya Dmitruk staged a silent protest.

Dmitruk, shown in the bottom righthand corner of the screen wearing an orange ribbon indicating her support for opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, told viewers in sign language that she considered the Nov. 21 election a farce.

"I am addressing all the deaf citizens of Ukraine," Dmitruk signed. "Our president is Yushchenko. Don't believe what they say. They are lying."

Its time for me to learn sign language. The first word to learn will be "courage".

Remember WEAR ORANGE MONDAY! Razom Ukraina!

Heads up 

From Le Sabot Post-Moderne a few minutes ago (I just happened by).
Everybody is buzzing right now about martial law. Channel 5 just reported that the government is discussing taking such a step. Obviously this would be a huge escalation. Hold this news loosely, because at this point it's only a report of discussions and nothing more solid than that. But it's more than a little scary. Pray.
I'm off to church in a few minutes; that will be prayer number one. I hope he's wrong.

UPDATE: And wouldn't you know it, this is the day the Ukrainians mark the Holodomor, the terror-famine of 1932-33 that left upwards of seven million dead in Ukraine. Yushchenko's remarks here.

UPDATE 2 (noon CT/8 pm Kyiv time): Tulip Girl has more. Yushchenko's got a release confirming it ... as a possibility. Nothing declared yet, but it would be right about now if they do.

MORE: Maidan (Yu.'s news wire service) says "a lot of police are being gathered in 'Dynamo' stadium." The stadium is very close to the Cabinet of Ministers building and less than half a mile from the Orange tent cities.

STILL MORE (13:50 CT, 21:50 Kyiv Time) -- thanks for all the links. Let me be clear about this: I cannot at this time confirm any violence actually happening -- all we are getting are reports of additional police movements complementing speculation of a crackdown issued by the opposition news services. LSPM said at 19:45 KST "I don't think it will happen, but this week has been full of surprises." (He's had two posts since then without mention of anything more.)Maidan is reporting:
Ten buses with special forces units are located so far in the Shovkovychna Street. Many military vehicles full of policemen bearing Donetsk and Crimea license plates tried to go down the Hrushevskyj Street. The people picketing the Cabinet of Ministers have stopped the vehicles and now are blocking them. The policemen inside show vulgar signs to the people.

I wish I had a map to show you what is happening right now (here's one in Ukrainian; don't grab an old one -- the names of the streets all changed post-independence to get rid of the Russian references) but I used to live two blocks SE of Shovkovychna; it's a major street that runs to one end of the Kreschatyk by Bessarabska market, which would be one end of the tent cities. In the other direction it runs to the Parliament and Marinskyj Palace (the ceremonial seat of power). They could also walk NW two blocks to Bankova and the presidential administration building where much of the demonstrating has happened (as opposed to the rallies in Independence Square, which are a few blocks further down the hill.) The Hrushevskyj group would probably the ones at Dynamo stadium earlier. They're a little further away from the action (I'm assuming the buses are in the middle of Shovkovychna closer to the administration buildings than up by the hotels or down by the market. They're less imposing if they're on an end of the street.

(edited since the first post looks like it lost some of what I had put in). There seems to be more happening, but no reports of open conflict yet (2:30 pm CT)

LAST: I'll do another post after dinner tonight. This is about two hours old from Yushchenko's headquarters, but unconfirmed according to Brama:
Reports that Ukrainian forces have been armed and mobilized in the direction of Ukraine's capital. According to one source, anywhere from 12,000 to 20,000 troops advancing along various routes towards Kyiv. Supporters of the opposition have blocked their progress towards Kyiv - at least temporarily. Some units were reported as close as 40 kilometers to the city.

Instapundit mentions Neeka and U2, but what you really have to hear is Gogol Bordello (first mentioned by J.V.C. to me here)! How cool would it be to play that on Bankova!?!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

What you can do 

Hugh wants to know how to help Ukraine go orange. Answers are here and here.

I need to grade senior papers, so if nothing big breaks I'm taking my customary weekend blog hiatus (except for my commentary on the USC-ND game with Ed). If there's some real news, though, the laptop stands ready...

The babushka revolutionaries 

I have often wondered if my fond feelings for Ukraine were somehow the result of spending so much time there (and alone, I might add -- health concerns kept my wife and daughter in the States) or if it was that the people I found there so special. The latter thesis is supported by this story from Scott Clark about his mother-in-law whose come in from the village to witness the revolution herself.
I went along with her and my brother-in-law down to the square on Thursday evening. (We had to take the subway because driving and parking downtown has become a bigger nightmare than it usually is.) From the place where the subway car stops to the surface we needed to ride a long escalator. So we rode it.

While riding up, there were some men riding down chanting �YU-SCHEN-KO! YU-SCHEN-KO!� So my mother-in-law joined in in her higher pitched voice, �YU-SCHEN-KO! YU-SCHEN-KO!� From that she went to �Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh� rhythmically. It means �We are many; you can�t defeat us!� I am not sure where that came from. I don�t think anyone was chanting it when we rode up but others knew it and started in too. �Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh!� (Maybe it�s in the genes?) When we got to the top, there we people in small groups talking to each other and not chanting. My mother-in-law thought this was not right so she walked over to them and started them up, �Nas bahatu; ta nas ne peremozhesh!,� chopping her hand in rhythm.

...Yesterday, we got word that she had been with the protestors at the Presidential Administration Building. They were there again as part of the numbers of people who are making their presence felt around government buildings in the downtown area. We were told that she went up to the guards in front of the entrance, guards in full riot gear, masks and shield, in ranks twenty deep. She went up to one and said, �I am a babushka [translated roughly as �grandmother� but used for every older woman grandmother age] from the village. I came here to find out how you are. Are you fine? Are you hungry? Maybe your parents are somewhere worrying about you?

�Babushka has come from the village with some warm socks for you. Maybe your feet are cold and you need some socks?� She talked to this fellow in this way and won him over. He lowered his shield to expose his face and he was grinning at her while she spoke to him.

...she called her husband in the village. She had been planning on going back home and letting him come to take part but, when she called, she told him �There is nothing for you to do here. There are enough men here already. A woman�s touch is what is needed here to help take care of the people down at the square. So I will stay here. You don�t need to come.� (This is terribly un-PC but that is the way she is and the way of life is in the village.)

My mother-in-law is caught up in the revolution.
There's plenty more from Scott.

After you read that, check out the pictures at Neeka (scroll for all of 'em), and LSPM. These people are the face of the Orange Revolution. LSPM reports that he finds most people agree that Yushchenko's offer of the re-vote to be the best he could get. Good.

Three Ukraine links you need (and one you might want) 

PowerLine has a letter from a NYC bond trader on some Ukrainian financial shenanigans that RocketMan read on the air today. When I first worked at the National Bank in November 1995, there were only two Americans with daily passes, myself and a bond market consultant from the U.S. Treasury. Shenanigans with bond trading in Ukraine have a long tradition. If I could ever get the Treasury guy to come out with his stories, oh the stories he could tell!

I had no idea Dan Drezner had been in Donetsk. He is worried,

Speculate on what you think will happen here. What keeps gnawing at me is that whatever the outcome, one region of the country is going to be supremely pissed off.

Whether this leads to an attempt at secession -- and how the Russians would react to this -- are the questions on my mind.

I actually doubt it would happen. Look at Abkhazia or Belarus. It's only been about ten years.

Third, take a look at these claims of voter fraud in Kharkiv. They translated the word for ballots as bulletins (and no, I don't know the Ukrainian word for ballot).

Last, Captain Ed has separated out the segments of that first hour. I'm sending them to Mom ASAP.

UPDATE: OK, four. Ed also has written up a post about a letter we read in the last segment of the hour today.

In their election, the Kuchma government candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, actually represents the closest partner we would have in the war on terror. Yanukovych has pledged to increase troop strength in Iraq and mirrors Putin's resolve to conduct a forward strategy in the fight against Islamist terror. Viktor Yuschenko speaks of pulling Ukrainian troops from Iraq, where they comprise the sixth-largest segment of the Coalition.

One would expect the Bush Administration, therefore, to have sat quietly and hoped for Yanukovych to come to power regardless of the means. That focus on expediency has been an unfortunate hallmark of American foreign policy for decades, a leftover of our Cold War-style binary approach to the world. Instead, both Colin Powell and George Bush spoke strongly about their rejection of the election's results and the need to hold a credible election in Ukraine.

As Natan Sharansky has noted, Bush behaves like a dissident. Again.

A little birdie listens... 

Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link to the show -- yes, I'm a host, but you try getting oxygen from Mitch, Ed and Rocket! I don't blame him for missing my role. The archived show streams by the way in archives M-F at midnight, 6am, noon and 6pm Central Time (GMT -6) if you would like to listen again.

Translated piece from APN shows Donbas fraud 

From the Ukraine List or UKL, assembled by Dominque Arel at the Univ. of Ottawa and reprinted here with permission.

Elections according to "the rules" (Vybory po ponyatiyam):
How people voted in Donbas
by Aleksandr Kynev

Posted on the Russian APN website:
Reprinted in obrozevatel.ru.
[Translated by Lisa Koriouchkina for UKL]

Amici vitia si feras, facias tua
(if one ignores a friend's mistake, it�ll become his own)
Publius Syrus

Like voting in Florida in 2000 and voting in Ohio in 2004 during the US elections, voting in the Donetsk region during the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine proved crucial. According to the official results of the Central Electoral Commission of Ukraine, 15,093,691 (49.46%) votes were cast for Viktor Yanukovych, while 14,222,289 (46.61%) voted for Viktor Yushchenko. The difference in votes cast for two candidates was 871,000.

Voting turnout was roughly similar in all regions ofn Ukraine during both rounds of elections. Only in Donbas did the real miracle happen. Instead of 78%, in the first round, 96.65% of the electorate voted during the second round, an 18% increase. A comparable "miracle" happened in Luhansk (89.5% instead of 75.6%). Out of 3,711,000 voters in Donetsk, 3,570,000 (96.2%) voted for Yanukovych and only 75,000 (2%) for Yushchenko. During the first round in Donbas, out of 2,868,000 cast ballots, 2,496,000 (86.74%) voted for Yanukovych and 84,000 (2.94%) for Yushchenko. In absolute numbers, given the 18% increase in turnout, in Donbas Yushchenko received 9,000 votes less in the second round than in the first round while Yanukovych gathered 1,074,000 votes more (NB: the general difference in votes between the two candidates in Ukraine as a whole was only 812,000 votes). Voting attendance in Donbas increased by 843,000 during the second round. It means that such radical change in voting behavior in Donbas defined the outcome of the second round of elections.

What did happen in Donbass? Where did such super high turnout come from? The turnout must have been even higher than 96.7%, for we have to add those who voted with absentee ballots. There could be no plausible explanation for it and all the factors speak against it. Given migration flows (gasterarbeiter rates are high - large numbers of people from Eastern Ukraine work in Russia and did not return to Ukraine for the elections - who would agree to pay their "blood and sweat" earned money?), inconsistencies in de-jure and de-facto places of residence, etc. - no region could account for such high numbers of the de facto present population eligible to vote at one time. Such figures (97% turnout with 96% support of the "correct" candidate) only existed during the Soviet period or in countries with authoritarian regimes where elections are just a fiction and there is no actual control during the elections.

I will try to explain this "Donetsk miracle" on the basis of my own observations in Donbas where I was present as an international observer on the day of elections, November 21, 2004. I observed the elections in the city of Gorlovka (the third largest in Donbas in terms of eligible voters - 300,000) that hosts the electoral constituency #48.

Frankly speaking, I was stunned by what I saw. I had observed many elections throughout Russia, from Taymyr and Koryakia to Kaliningrad and I had witnessed various types of manipulations. But the elections in Donetsk truly shocked me. Not because there were some sophisticated fraudulent schemes employed, but quite to the contrary, because of how brazenly the law was skirted and how openly the falsifications were done. I was astounded at how shamelessly the results of the elections were falsified in plain view of the observers. Usually the election trick is a covert operation, so that no one can see it. Here, the election fraud was done openly, shamelessly, unceremoniously, as if to convey to us, the observers, the following message: get out of the way, we will stop at nothing, we will call white black and black white and crush anyone who dares to interfere.

I began my day in the Gorlovka's voting station No. 39 that has a special status due to the fact that the city mayor, Viktor Alexandrovich Rogach, votes there. The head of the Electoral Commission, Viktor Ivanovich Nevstruyev (a deputy in the city council and a member of the Party of Regions to which Yanukovych also belongs) opened the station without announcing the overall number of voters eligible to vote there. To my question regarding this number, he answered: "Perhaps, you just did not hear it". Then, he opened a safe and took out a portion of ballots, passed them to the members of the commission and left the rest of ballots in the safe. Given that none of the other commission members protested, I asked whether the law stipulated to remove all the ballots from the safe. Mr. Nevstruyev rudely remarked that I was interfering with the commission's work. However, he removed the rest of the ballots from the safe.

A picture of Yanukovich followed by a picture of Yushenko graced the entrance to the station (despite the fact that the information about candidates should be displayed in the alphabetical order - but as I was to see later, elsewhere in the city data on the candidates was presented in this way).

I was categorically forbidden to approach the tables and to see the lists of voters. I was also forbidden to approach the tables at the time when a voter received a ballot. After receiving a ballot, a voter went to another room (!) where a ballot was cast. At 9am, an unexpected crowd of voters entered the room. As I realized later, it was delivered by a bus cruising between voting stations and transporting voters. When I visited other stations, I found out that the same happened there as well. Crowds of voters moved from one voting station to another in a surprisingly organized fashion. Some people voted and then would say to the commission members: "I'll be back in an hour" - classic signs of the widely spread electoral "merry-go-round" (karusel) in Russia.

Almost nowhere could one obtain information on the rules of casting a vote. Nearly everywhere there were a lot of unauthorized outsiders present at the stations, from police to firefighters (Imagine how many firefighters are there in the city to make sure they were present at all the stations!) to telephone repairmen

At almost all voting stations, 10-20% (!) of voters showed remarkable responsibility and initiative and requested to cast votes at home. Even more surprising was the speed with which commission members visited those voters. Several hours after they left the station, the portable voting station was back with 70 votes cast (i.e., 1.5-2 minutes per family!) despite the fact that it might take 10-15 minutes to get from one apartment to another (or even longer depending on the time it would take an old grandma to get to the door, to put on her glasses, to get all the instructions down, to sign�). It seems that voters in Donbas are unbelievably quick! There was nobody to check whether these grandmas existed in Donbas and whether they voted or not. Out of 10 voting stations that I visited, there was only one observer who followed up on the portable voting station (and guess, what party that observer belonged to? - correct, the Party of Regions to which Yanukovych also belongs).

It seemed insufficient that all requests about voting at home were filled out with the same handwriting, as happened at the voting station #38, Pavlov st. 31 - however, there was the smallest percentage of people voting from home. To my surprise I also found several ballots to one person's name filled out with different handwritings.
# of voters # of registered voters # casting ballots at home

#38 1,362 79 (5.8%)
#39 1,859 174 (9.3%)
#40 1,907 199 (10.4%)
#41 1,407 200 (14.2%)
#42 1,854 192 (10.4%)
#43 2,915 256 (8.8%)
#44 2,282 278 (12.2%)
#45 2,390 263 (11.0%)
#51 1,191 137 (11.5%)
#52 4,51 76 (16.9%)

At voting station #40 (Pobeda st, 61), when I approached a table with the displayed lists of voters, I noticed that on ballots there were signatures of the electoral commission members in front of voters' names (upon handing out a ballot to a voter, a commission member signs his/her name in the designated graph in front of that voter's name). However, voters' signatures were conspicuously absent. It is important to point out that there was a special graph about handing out ballots (information about a voter participating in the elections from home is recorded differently and takes several graphs in the list). It would be interesting to know where these voters are now, whether they are earning money in Russia or have changed their place of residency. Also, it would be interesting to know why it was recorded that these voters have received the voting materials and why/who would sign in for these voters.

Most striking was the fact that hardly any observers paid any attention to the work of the electoral commissions. Under pressure between the first and the second rounds of elections many observers from the Yushchenko camp refused to work. Some were threatened to be fired, others had a serious talk with a university chancellor or a public prosecutor. However, besides the Yanukovych observers there were also observers from his Party of Regions and representatives of the administration-controlled TV channel "35 Kanal" and the newspaper "Vechernaya Gorlovka". Judging by the numbers of voting stations, the newspaper must have dozens of reporters.

That is how the miraculous intervention (buses, voting at home, strange markings in the lists of voters, etc.) ensured that by the evening of November 21, at some voting stations the voting rates approached 100%, and at some stations, rates were even higher than 100% (if one accounts for absentee ballots).

To observe ballot counting, I went to the voting station where I was present in the morning (voting station #39). Once the station was officially closed, the turnout was announced right away - 97.2%! This means that 1,821 out of 1,871 cast their vote. Importantly, in the morning there were only 1,859 voters listed and a part of these 1,859 could not vote at this station given their previous request to vote from home. Counting these absentee ballots in, voting attendance would be 99%. The counting of ballots began right away as all commission members crowded around the table. Nevstruyev's massive frame covered half a table, thus preventing observers from seeing what he was doing with the ballots. The head of the commission ceremoniously announced that there are 1,821 ballots in the urns (albeit every person who ever had any experience with elections knows that when there are large numbers of ballots cast, there are always a few missing-some voters take them back home). Also, all voters who requested to vote from home cast their ballots.

I shouldered my way through the crowd and found a spot to observe how the ballots were counted. I saw with my own eyes how a ballot with a vote for Yushchenko was placed into a pile of votes for Yanukovych. The first ballot was followed by a second, to be followed by a third. Upon seeing the fourth ballot for Yushchenko to be misplaced into the Yanukovych pile, I forgot about Nevstruyev's warning to expel me from the station should I make any unfavorable remarks and could not contain myself any longer: "Stop. Please, put a couple of ballots back". A ballot for Yushchenko was taken out of the Yanukovych pile and placed into the correct pile. It was followed by several more "misplaced" ballots. When I uncovered a fifth incorrectly placed ballot, Nevstruyev exploded: "What, you want another ballot for Yushchenko?" The rest of the commission hissed at me:

-Who are you working for? What do you want?
-We are counting ballots, and I would like this count to be correct.
-You are from Russia, Putin is for Yanukovych. Why are you stopping us?
-What does Putin have to do with this?

Really, what does he have to do with this?

Among those hissing at me was a girl who seemed to be an observer from Yushchenko's side (after closing of a voting station, this girl left together with Nevstruyev). She was among those more determined to learn for whom I was working and why I needed to know about the ballots.

Once I turned away from the table (my attention was distracted by other members of the commission), the pile of ballots in favor of Yushchenko immediately decreased. I did not demand to recount and to find out where ballots for Yushchenko were placed ("against everybody" or "for Yanukovych" piles). Instead, I decided that I would go to the territorial commission center and demand to recount ballots form the voting station No. 39. I was hoping that a member of the territorial voting commission who is authorized to push for such a recount would notice my demands. I refused to sign the protocol of the station commission and headed to the meeting of the territorial commission of constituency No. 48. At first, they did not want to let me in. They said that I did not have the necessary documents ready. So, give me the documents, - I suggested. Upon some deliberation, they let me in. The territorial elections commission (TEC) was stamping protocols of the station commissions without even checking them. Usually, protocols are checked to see whether everything is in order, to control for the balance of the control figures - but it seemed that in this case nobody was going to do that. TEC was trying to do everything as fast as possible without paying much attention to details - all the protocols were approved without giving anyone a chance to argue them. I was given an opportunity to speak up only after a protocol of the voting station #39 had been approved. After listening to me, the head of TEC said that he would not put my proposition about recounting ballots to vote given that I do not have the right to demand it (indeed, I did not have the right to demand recount - however, nobody of those who had such a right invoked it). Nevstruyev yelled that I was a provocateur (few observers at the meeting responded to him: "And you are a falsificator"). The numbers for all voting stations were very similar.

The next day, I heard the same stories from colleagues who observed the elections in other towns in Donbas - voting "merry-go-round", strange voting at home, bold violations during counting (in some places, there was no counting altogether - the "necessary" figures were simply written down; in others, the situation was similar to the one I observed at voting station No. 39 - ballots cast for Yushchenko were placed into the Yanukovych pile). The situation was even worse in some places - in Donetsk, international observers were not allowed at the voting stations; there were places where voters used photocopies of their passports as their IDs for voting.

By the way, it was very amusing to watch the Russian "Perviy Kanal" (TV First Channel) that announced that the elections took place honestly and openly at the same time as it was showing how several people were simultaneously counting several piles of ballots (i.e, in direct violation of the law - by law, ballots should be counted by one person who shows each and every ballot to the rest). On November 22, on "Perviy Kanal" the mayor of Donetzk, Alexandr Lukyanenko, announced, "To say that there were falsifications is to dishonor the workers of Donbas, the workers of Donetsk". In other words, one can falsify, however if one speaks about it - it means dishonor; and the international observers are the enemies of the Donbas workers.

It is important to point out that between the first and the second rounds of elections, the electoral pool in Ukraine increased by 2.09% - by almost 800,000 total (in Donetsk it increased by 20,985 voters). Why and how that happened -inquiries by the representatives of the opposition did not produce any answers. Perhaps, that's a government secret.

On November 22, we -citizens of Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Poland, i.e., all those who served as international observers in Donbas - signed a joined petition to demand ballot recount in the regions and examination of lists of voters who cast ballots (it was clear that among them there were "dead souls" and those permanently absent from the region).

There are no doubts that Yanukovych was supposed to have won in Donbass (this is his "native" region, he worked here as a governor prior to his appointment as a Prime minister). However, it is also clear that the 97% turnout, as well as the figure for those who voted for Yanukovych, has been falsified. In my expert opinion, the real attendance rate could not be more than 70%, with 75-85% of the votes cast for Yanukovych. Violations of the voting and counting procedures affected all the figures. Given my personal observations, I claim that there is a basis to conclude that a deliberate falsification of the presidential elections results was committed by the members of the territorial electoral commission and the local voting stations in the electoral constituency No. 48.

Thus, if the results of elections in Donbas are confirmed, this would mean that from the outset, the presidency of Yanukovych's presidency is based on lies and falsifications.

Ukraine Saturday 

I expect to speak some about Ukraine today on the Northern Alliance Radio Network today in the opening hour (12 noon CT or 1800 GMT for overseas readers, listen online here), but in case I forget to comment on a few things asked tonight after the Instalanche, let me get to them now. (UPDATE: A few minutes ago the parliament declared the results of the election invalid. That vote is nonbinding, but increases pressure for the do-over. UPDATE 2: Looks like Ed beat me to it by five minutes -- I think he's right that Yanukovych has lost control of his situation, but Kuchma? I'm not so sure yet. And the parliament has turned against Kuchma over the last few weeks at any rate.)
  1. John posted, and Jeff asked in comments, a question about this "alternative view" by Srdja Trifkovic, a sort of "pox on both your houses" take on the Ukrainian election. (A more acidic version of the story, with less analysis, is in the Guardian.) As I mentioned earlier, I've worked with Yushchenko's administration in the National Bank of Ukraine, and at least one of his campaign staff is a holdover from his NBU days. Yushchenko was a solid central banker, holding fast to an anti-inflation policy and supporting the closing of insolvent banks even when they were held by politically powerful clans. He was pragmatic in my view, compromising on some things more than I would have liked (he treated the old state savings bank too kindly, for example.) I'm not intimately familiar with his time as prime minister, but his period saw the closing of a nasty arrears problem and the start of real growth in the economy for the first time. And he was certainly well-liked in the western NGO and diplomatic community when I was there, so I think some of what Trifkovic says is true: most of us Western advisors would be pulling for him. As to Trifkovic's prognosis that there will be no turning around the result, well, events have overwhelmed his analysis. (Since I am an economic forecaster by trade, he has my sympathies.)
  2. Jeff also asked about the smaller victory for Yushchenko in the western oblast of Zakarpattia. There's been a hotly-contested mayoral election in Mukacheve out there, which both presidential candidates were involved with. Students are marching on city hall there today. That might have tightened things up there; I really haven't seen anything else. And it may be they actually think they would be better off under Yanukovych, as did these protestors coming by train to Kyiv to support him. Let's be clear: it's short-sighted, perhaps, for state enterprise workers to vote for more subsidies and no privatization under Yanukovych, but shortsightedness does get to vote.
  3. There's more and more comments (including KC Johnson) on whether or not these events and Russia's reaction has somehow proven the foolishness of working so closely in the GWOT with Putin.
    To a certain extent, of course, there was little choice in the matter: the alternatives to Putin have always looked worse. But George Bush's reassurance that he had looked into Putin's heart and seen a Democrat seems a lot less reassuring today, and I wonder whether this election--regardless of the final outcome in Ukraine--signals the emergence of a more tense period in US-Russian relations.
    Since the other country I work with substantially is Armenia, another place where Russia has meddled, you can mark me among those not a fan of Putin. However, I think US policy towards Russia has usually been marked by pragmatism -- you take what you can from people trying to help you, even when sometimes they're misbehaving. In the old days we called this realpolitik. And as Prof. Johnson observes, the alternative are really much worse. Since this morning Russia says it will not oppose repeat elections proposed by Yushchenko and the EU, perhaps that diplomacy bore fruit.
  4. There are interesting stories here and here from Maidan on people being brought to support Yanukovych. Remember that Maidan is a pro-Yushchenko site, so bring your skepticism. Still, it sounds pretty realistic.
  5. Brama has clips from an AEI conference Wednesday on Ukraine. AEI has the whole conference here. (The AEI site has greater bandwidth, but you don't get clips.)
  6. I'll see if I can get permission to show you the translation I received of this article in Russian explaining the vote fraud in eastern Ukraine (or the Donbas). The one I read is marked "for private use only." It has eyewitness accounts as well as a more macro-view statistical look.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Those words I've longed to say for 2+ years 

Welcome Instapundit Readers!!!

Please continue on down through "Gambit" to the maps, and from there to "How Close is Yushchenko". If you still want more, the "How Close" post has bookmarks to the earlier stuff. Thanks for coming, and thanks, Prof. Reynolds, for another reason to be thankful for this blog and all my good friends.

And thanks again Tulip Girl.


I just received an email that says Yushchenko has proposed annulment of the previous elections, new elections on 12 December, replacement of the old Central Election Committee with one with equal representation of both parties, and no absentee ballots. This seems to be what Le Sabot Post-Moderne is suggesting he's hearing as well (he says as well that television coverage of the candidates would be "equal" -- that's news to me). Yanukovych has until Monday to answer. This is a most interesting play. Since annulment of the previous election is probably the most he can get from the Supreme Court hearing Monday (as I noted earlier), Yushchenko's asked Yanukovych to give him that outcome before the hearing.

I'm told this is an ultimatum -- Yushchenko is saying that "active measures" would be taken if he doesn't get this.

I'm going to guess that this is probably what the European observers proposed in the meetings earlier today, and that Yushchenko's decided to put it on Yanukovych. If the streets indicate anything, it's that Yushchenko believes he holds the winning hand, and is going for a fully legitimated victory that would make it harder for the eastern provinces to secede.

UPDATE: (7:15p) Moscow News confirms:
...Yushchenko announced to the thousands of demonstrators rallying for the fifth day on Kiev�s Independence Square that the results have been declared invalid after the talks, and that a new round of elections would be held, monitored by the OSCE, the Russian Information Agency Novosti reported.

�The sides agreed that that the results of the second round that were announced earlier do not correspond to the will of the people and must be cancelled,� Novosti quoted Yushchenko as saying.

He added that his rival Yanukovich was against rushing to a third round of elections, calling instead to wait for a ruling from the Supreme Court.
And AFP has a quote from Yushchenko.
We will allow only a few days for the negotiation process. If (Prime Minister Viktor) Yanukovich wants to drag things out, we will take active measures," he told them.

"The prime minister is proposing things that will take Ukraine further away from the resolution of the political crisis," he told a crowd of tens of thousands in Kiev's Independence Square following the talks.

"We insist on the following: the main precondition for the talks is the holding of new elections for the president of Ukraine.
My gut says this is a squeeze play on Yanukovych. If Kuchma and Yanukovych are on the same page, I don't see how they take this deal; it's not a compromise over what they would get in court. If they are working at cross-purposes, however, Kuchma will want him to take it and push to delay the vote a few months, keeping himself in the job a while longer. If I had to bet, I think that's where we're going. Yushchenko needs the vote to happen ASAP while his momentum is strong.

Found those maps 

I found the map I was looking for. I actually wanted two, so here you have them.

Source. Look at how the voter turnout went up so much in eastern Ukraine, and remember that in second round elections some people lost their preferred candidate (about 20% of the public.) Turnout in the eastern provinces ran about 55% in the first round. Here's the division of votes in the second round.

Source. I'm sorry it isn't red and blue (orange and blue would be better, of course.) Colorized by Steve, thanks so much! Putting those two pictures together give you a pretty good feel for how one might think the vote was stacked. It probably would help you to see also the density of these areas so you know how many votes are in each state. Can't find a map, but here's a chart.

How close is Yushchenko? 

Thanks to my good friend Hindrocket at Powerline and Dave at No Illusions (update -- and Ed; wow, an embarassment of linkage today, though I still wait for my first "welcome Instapundit readers" moment) for the references this morning, and greetings to any new readers. I have posts on Monday, Tuesday (here and here), Wednesday (here, here and here), and Thursday on Ukraine.

To remind readers new and old from a post I wrote last month, I've been following the election for the last year because I am a former economic advisor to the National Bank of Ukraine while the opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko was its governor. I lived in Kyiv, about five blocks from the presidential administration building, for a year in 1995-96. I wrote a book about Ukraine's economy based on research I did that year. His American-born wife was the country director for the firm for which I worked at that time. I haven't been back since, but I still write to friends at NBU and research the Ukrainian economy. I cannot pretend to be unbiased about this, but there are times where my concern for their personal safety (particularly after the poisoning incident) probably supercedes my concern for his political future.

Through that lens...

There seems to be a good bit of cheer over the Supreme Court's decision to review the election results, but I would take that with a grain of salt for two reasons. This does not insure Yushchenko's victory by any means. First, the Court cannot give Yushchenko a victory based on last Sunday's election; it could at best annul the election and require a re-runoff. If it chose to demand recounts in regions instead, I find it highly unlikely that the recounts would find the 800,000 votes needed to overturn the results. And while it's likely that in a fair re-runoff Yushchenko would win, there are still lots of cards stacked against him.

Not least of which is reason two: The Court is not exactly unbiased. I had to look up the Ukrainian Constitution to be sure I have this right, but most judges are appointed by the president to five year terms (then reaffirmed or dismissed by the parliament). It is not the independent structure of courts in the Anglosphere, and Kuchma has had plenty of time to put his people in the judiciary. The news reports treating the Court as being respected as unbiased don't agree with me on this, but one must remember that this Court had agreed to let Kuchma run for a third term in December 2003 -- Kuchma didn't because he didn't think he could win without massive manipulation of the vote (probably more than what happened here.) And his manipulations of the courts go well beyond this. In general, looking at the Freedom House rankings, Ukraine's system of governance is quite poor and extends through all branches.

Another reason to be concerned is the current strife in the areas controlled by Yanukovych's supporters. The provinces of Donetsk have held meetings in which they are threatening to seek secession to Russia. In Luhansk has the meeting with Kuchma that he wants, in the presence of the EU, with Yanukovych supposedly being only an observer. After appearing to stall out on the strike early Thursday, it appears the Orange Revolution has intensified around government buildings and looks to me like it's rattling Kuchma. And the talks may have Putin steamed, which is a good thing for the development of other xUSSR states in my view.

Keep reading the blogosphere, including this article (OK, not a blog) from Taras Kuzio, Le Sabot Post-Moderne (who reports now that militiamen are in Independence Square chanting "The militia is with the people"), TulipGirl (who I think are husband and wife), Fistful of Euros, Neeka's Backlog (she is the author of this piece in the NYT) and The Periscope. The pro-Yushchenko Maidan site has a newsfeed I'm using. My longest-running subscription around my house is the Kyiv Post, for which currently you don't need to register and subscribe (thanks, guys!) And if you feel so moved, put up this gif from Amy Hunt's site:

From a fellow Granite Stater 

Cathy says I should read this guy more. Since he's in my old 'hood, I second Cathy's motion. So hi Matthew, I'm King, Manchester Memorial '75.

Close chute 

K.C. Johnson has an excellent post today with two examples of campus speech that will sound depressingly familiar to my local readers. He cites the case of Oneida Meranto (Chronicle subscribers only), a Native American professor of Latin American studies who apparently has been victimized by students who are angered by her open liberalism in the classroom. She says she has received hateful emails and death threats. This is being blamed in part (in the Chronicle article) on the promulgation of the Academic Bill of Rights in Colorado where Prof. Meranto teaches. But Prof. Johnson notes that when people make statements that "if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem", you might be creating some animosity.
Whites have failed to prove to us that they are not part of the privileged class. They have failed to prove that they have gained so much from subjugation and domination of nonwhites. They have failed to prove to us that they don't have racist, sexist tendencies that just might be part of the very essence of their white skin. They have failed to prove to us that they too have not benefited from affirmative action legislation. They have failed to demonstrate to us that the reason for their poor grades is the flood of nonwhite professors. They have failed to take responsibility for their actions in this country where being white has its privilege.

No assumption of innocence there. You hear stories like this around SCSU from many students, most too scared to go on record. I'm glad Prof. Meranto is taping her lectures now. Perhaps, in the spirit of glasnost', she could release transcripts?

Prof. Johnson's second example is a new variation of the old "there are no conservatives in academia because they aren't smart enough" canard.

SUNY-Albany philosophy professor Ron McClamrock likewise assures his readers that "I've been around a lot of academic hiring, and I have never once seen hiring done based on the politics of the applicants." So why do left-wing professors outnumber conservatives in the academy? "We outnumber them because academic institutions select for smart people who think their views through; and if you're smart, open-minded, and look into it carefully, you're just more likely to end up with views in the left half of contemporary America. Which is just to say: Lefties are overrepresented in academia because on average, we're just f-ing smarter."

Which is likely, of course, to lead interviewers to use political stance as a marker in hiring.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Mapping the Ukrainian vote 

There has been at least one naysayer in the blogosphere about the protests over the Ukrainian election. Mark Brady (who thinks elsewhere that the U.S. should butt out of Ukraine) writes about the findings of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, whose report has this note:
The election featured a genuine choice of candidates, active pre-election campaigns, and high voter participation. It is clear that Ukrainian opinion was highly polarized. That meant many people backing a losing candidate would find it difficult to accept a defeat.
This is in fact a feature of all Ukrainian elections since independence. You can draw a map of Ukraine and slice it down the middle passing through Kyiv. (That's an oversimplification, but sufficient for the purposes.)The western half will vote for nationalist, reformist, Ukrainian and western leaning candidates, while the eastern half contains more Russophilic people with greater attachment to the Soviet-era industries of coal and steel production. Interested readers can visit these maps by Prof. John O'Loughlin at U. Colorado to see the turnout and voting patterns of the 1999 elections between Kuchma and the communist candidate Symonenko. In the current election, the western provinces or oblasts are for Yushchenko and the eastern for Yanukovych. But the report goes on,
Foreigners should not encourage civil conflict because the candidate on whom they have lavished expensive support turned out to be a loser.
That's an odd comment, since it is pretty clear that the "winner" received "expensive support" from Russia. The map of the turnout in this election seems pretty clear that something fishy was up. In the eastern provinces, votes jumped over 40% in three weeks time (from the first round.) This is highly unusual. Moreover, the division of the vote there was 96-2 for Yanukovych in Donets'k, where he was governor before he was prime minister. That's Stalin-style figures. (I've been looking for a map of this, but can't find it right now. When I do, I'll post it. )

The Supreme Court, unlike the CEC, is taking the claims of vote fraud more seriously.

Radio Hayek 

Elder and Mitch have responded to Joe Carter's observations about the state of radio. Like Joe, I am a frequent listener to NPR because there isn't that much else. I catch a local guy and about 15 minutes of Laura some mornings on KNSI, but otherwise flip between NPR and the local ESPN Radio affiliate. The Patriot doesn't reach this far northwest; when I leave the station I only get the signal to Monticello.

Joe of course says nice things about NARN, which we appreciate. As Joe and Elder both note, most commercial talk shows have a commitment to staying on top of the news cycle. One of the reasons NARN works is that we really don't have to do that, at least in the latter two hours. The advantage of a once-a-week show is that we in fact can cherry-pick the best stories in a week and drill down to those in a more in-depth way.

Another advantage is the power of distributed blogging. Mitch, Elder, Ed, the Powerliners and I do not read the same things. (Heck, looking at their Ukraine post this morning, the Powerliners don't even read me.) There is a diversity of opinion on the show, though not a forced diversity like Crossfire or Hannity&Colmes. We are not conservative talk radio as much as an audio version of the old Washington Week in Review show on PBS that used to segue after Rukeyser. (Note that I'm not recommending the current offering, oh goodness no!, just reminiscing about the ones I watched twenty-five years ago with my father.) You heard somewhat different opinions from people with a similar Weltanschauung. Which is what NARN is.

But I think the difference between them is how information comes to the show. As Scott and John demonstrated in the Rather Memogate, the beauty of the internet is the ability to collect distributed information. I called their exercise Hayekian, and indeed I think Rather's resignation this week is somewhat a triumph of the Hayekian view over the MSM's desire to centralize information in the hands of its band of reporters. The power to process is much greater. The phone calls we look for are those that add information. A feature I wish we could do more is the Blogger Hour of Power, because I hear more new information in that hour than I do watching any news show on TV. (Even on Fox.) The election night coverage with calls from bloggers in South Dakota and Wisconsin was another example of using the radio like we use the blogosphere. It was local, fresh, and distributed.

I think that's a different model, and I think that works, in a way that Hugh's show works but with a different set of eyes, a set of relative outsiders peering in as opposed to getting Beltway Boys and Smart Guys. The wisdom of Hayek's vision was that there's plenty of useful information locally in places that might otherwise seem mundane. Through blogging, we get more of that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Storm clouds in my fevered mind 

I have had two dark thoughts most of the day, during which I spent all time not in meetings reading Ukrainian news, when I really should be doing other things.

Thought one: The winner of the Ukrainian election is ... Kuchma!

He's been term-limitted out of the job, though he tried hard to get the constitution changed to allow him a third term. How long do we suppose it will take for him to declare a state of emergency and extend his term? Even though the mayor of Kyiv has declared support for Yuschenko, he has said Kuchma should stay until the crisis ends. Perhaps Kuchma keeps his job for a good long time.

Thought two: I think if Yuschenko does not become president he will look back on the offer to redo the elections as the point he lost control of events. I didn't like it when it happened. All the momentum up to then was his. He had taken a symbolic oath. There were no Yanukovych supporters to be found. (Turns out they came for the soccer match, only stayed the day in return for about $40 each, and they are not staying the night after.) He made a good decision to say all to be negotiated is when and how power was to be transferred. The offer to annul the Sunday elections, when he had said it was clear he'd won them, was a sign of weakness. The certification of the vote shortly followed, and now he has to bet on the strike taking hold. Perhaps he and his people thought Kuchma was definitely going for the attrition strategy and was trying to short-circuit them. I don't know. But it looks like things went in reverse for him just then.

We need more context. Here are two places to start.

Supporters of Ukraine press conference in Minneapolis tonight 

The Elder just forwarded this note from a friend,

Press Conference
Ukrainian Citizens of Minnesota United for Freedom and Democracy: Recognition of pro-Western Candidate Yuschenko as Legitimate President of Ukraine

Wednesday, November 24, 2004 7:00 PM
Ukrainian Event Center, 301 Main Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Questions: 612-805-1612 or 612-624-1593

UAWA (Ukrainian American Wave Association), The Ukrainian Student Association of Minnesota (USAM) and the CCAU (Coordinating Committee to Aide Ukraine) have announced a press conference to take place with Ukrainian citizens and students at the University of Minnesota. They ascertain that the elections in Ukraine were manipulated on a massive scale to secure a victory for the criminal regime that is currently in power.

During Sunday's election widespread falsifications took place with massive ballot-stuffing in favor of the government candidate, Viktor Yanukovych in eastern Ukraine. The fraudulence reached epic proportions with thousands of irregularities including 3.1 million votes illegally registered and government claims that turnout exceeded 100 per cent in some regions. European and US officials have condemned the widespread voting irregularities and said that the government's actions were a major step back for democracy. This morning Ukrainian Embassy employees in Washington DC signed a letter stating that they were threatened and forced to manipulate the vote in favor of the government candidate.

The national candidate, whom exit polls showed to have captured a commanding victory, is the pro-western Viktor Yuschenko. He is for major reforms that would fight widespread corruption in government that has left millions of Ukrainians in poverty. Determined to institute the rule of law and make Ukraine free for democracy. He is for Ukrainian integration into NATO and the EU, and strong
relations with the United States.

Millions of people throughout Ukraine have taken to the streets to defend their choice. The government regime is looking to violently suppress the civil disobedience, but only world spotlight and support can prevent massive bloodshed, and a victory for democracy.

UPDATE: Thank you, Hugh. I'll be giving thanks tomorrow for such great friends.

Getting uglier 

In Ukraine this PM, President Kuchma is telling both sides to sit down and negotiate after his prime minister's disputed electoral victory was certified (in record time, but by 11 of its 15 members according to a radio report) by the Central Election Committee. The U.S. is rejecting the announcement. Captain Ed says good for them:
Kudos to the Bush Administration for standing on principle, rather than allowing themselves to get massaged by Vladimir Putin.
Ed is less correct, I fear, about the delegitimation of Yanukovych if the troops are used (whether the troops are Russian or Ukrainian). The country has a history of tension between its east and west. In Kyiv one could speak Russian without difficulty, but in the western half, in places like Lviv or Ivano-Frankivsk, Russian was frowned upon. Likewise, an attempt to align a Yanukovych-led Ukraine with Russia would potentially lead to civil war between the two states, returning Ukraine to its post-World War I past. It's noteworthy that along with Kyiv, the four major cities of western Ukraine have pledged allegiance to Yushchenko; the troops stationed there are likely to act on his behalf rather than of the Kuchma government if it comes to war.

And Kuchma knows this, so reports have come forward that Russian troops are landing in western Ukraine right now.

It appears both Yanukovych and Kuchma now want Yushchenko to come in and talk. So far there is no agreement to this, but Yushchenko has already indicated that annulment of the Sunday results is the way to end this. My read is, he won't settle for less. With Yanukovych saying he will not accept a "fictitious victory", perhaps the way out is at hand. Perhaps.

Much stuff to read -- more tonight.

UPDATE: Couldn't resist postings from Maidan: Nationwide strike called for tomorrow.
"The struggle is just starting!" proclaimed Victor Yuschenko commenting on the decision made by the Central Elections Committee.Oleksandr Moroz who followed him on the stage called for country-wide political strike.
Like I said before, he isn't taking anything less than an annulment of the election. They are also creating a Committee of National Salvation. More troops are throwing in with Yushchenko. How many Russians will Putin send?

Kuchma, as usual, is leaning hard on the independent stations to stop reporting news.

UPDATE: (4pm) Text of Yuschenko's speech. Money quote:
The state authorities did what we expected of them. It is wriggling like a grass-snake on a pitchfork. It will not pause before any illegal activities to carry out its grand scheme, to complete the coup d'�tat. I would like to say firmly: this news, this information has led me onto another thought. I would like to swear to you today that my fight against this regime would now only become stronger and more consistent.
Classic Viktor Andreaovich, holds back the strike announcement until the next-to-last sentence. Kuchma has to know now this is a fight. The question now is whether Ukraine goes like Azerbaijan and Armenia, where stolen elections were met with despair, or like Georgia, who threw out the corrupt Shevrednadze.

Now we wait. It's up to the people.

She's right, but... 

A great post yesterday at Joanne Jacobs' site concludes,
So much of the affirmative action debate is about where the top 5 percent of black and Hispanic students should go to college. I worry about those kids with a C or D average. Nearly all have the ability to succeed -- if they get their act together.
They do, of course, if they are sorted into colleges that fit their current level of ability. With so few minority students scoring well on entrance exams, the competition sorts them above. But the larger point in Joanne's post is that there isn't any real differences in the demographics of the homes of these students from white students' homes. She quotes from a Time article:
After studying the difficulties of black students in middle-class Shaker Heights, Ohio, in 1997, John Ogbu, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, posited that academic achievement for those black students was hindered by cultural attitudes, most notably the fear of being labeled as "acting white" if they performed well or studied too much in school.
The Ogbu results have been discussed and debated for quite some time with fears that the point devolves into blaming the victim. It strikes me that once these students come to college we can put a stop to this by having clear expectations. Schools deal with the 'C' and 'D' students who we know have the ability to succeed by assuming the lack of success is our fault, that we have failed to adjust our teaching methods to "reach them where they live". That's wrong: Students will succeed when we instead "pull them to where we live." They cannot be expected to pull themselves together when their homes, as Ogbu found, do not value homework and good grades. They've never learned that, so it is up to us to provide it. It takes extra work on the part of faculty who can do the easy thing instead by excusing poor work and study habits or by grade inflation. The questions to be asked are how to pull those students up.

Another Ukraine update 

Here's a review of what I've read in the last 12 hours. Previous posts are here, here and here. I'll add links where I can as I have time. It's a busy morning here.
Back after some meetings. We administrative types really do work hard.

UPDATE: The CEC has certified the election results. Damn. The ugly period begins now.

Somebody doesn't understand the theory of value 

And of course, it's Stanley Fish.
Of the many complaining questions that faculty members ask, the one I used to hear most often was, "Why do you administrators make so much more money than we do?" The answer is simple: Administrators work harder, they have more work to do, and they actually do it.
The correct answer can be found at any department meeting where a department chair is selected. It's like looking for volunteers to attend a Bee Gees tribute concert. You have to pay them much more to get anyone to take the job. The same is usually true with deans. The ones who take the job are bribed out of positions they really like. The work is "harder" only in the sense that it isn't what you really want set out to do (very few academics had aspirations of deanships when they were in graduate school.)

For further reading, see "Take This Job and Shove It, at the Margin."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ukrainian evening update 

(My previous posts on the Ukrainian elections are here and here.)

Thanks, Ed. I'll put up refreshed information throughout the rest of the evening. Things seem to be hopping.

The White House has made a statement:
The United States is deeply disturbed by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election. We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election and urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until investigations of organized fraud are resolved. We call on the Government of Ukraine to respect the will of the Ukrainian people, and we urge all Ukrainians to resolve the situation through peaceful means. The Government bears a special responsibility not to use or incite violence, and to allow free media to report accurately on the situation without intimidation or coercion. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people in this difficult time.
This follows a general pattern in the West.

Instapundit leads us to Clay Calhoun's postings from former Congressman Bob Schaffer who is an election observer. He is saying among other things that the troops in this picture are Russians flown in to protect the government.

The opposition is playing hardball on negotiating with current president Kuchma and the handpicked successor Yakunovych. It's worth remembering that all we have are preliminary results. The final results shouldn't be out for days yet. However, I have heard reports that two members of the Central Election Committee say the committee will issue its final report tomorrow, and that these two would not sign it. It took ten days to report out the returns of the first election which led to this run-off, at which time a slim lead for Yanukovych became a slim victory for Yushchenko. The opposition is not going to get caught up in negotiating yet since there is the possibility that the final report will change the outcome.

(Whoops, perhaps I'm wrong and they will negotiate.)

UPDATE (10:30pm): Good stories at The Guardian (yeah, who knew?) and the BBC. In another BBC report
For many in the crowd, like Andrei, this is a turning point for Ukraine, a chance of change he says his country cannot afford to miss.

"At this moment, it's the future of our country, for my son... some personal feelings," he told me.

"So we have to find real solutions that will help develop Ukraine like independence and a European country."

Tonight, though, Kiev is in chaos.
It should be morning there now. I am waiting to see if I get some morning news. Meanwhile I'm reading Radio Free Europe.

UPDATE 2 (11pm): Uh-oh, Neeka's Backlog says the Yanukovych people (largely coalminers shipped in from the Donbas region) and Yushchenko's people are both camping out tonight. The distances we're talking about are relatively small -- one of the great things about Kyiv is the ease of walking. The distance between these camps, based on Veronica's explanation, is no more than 1km. The Yanukovych coalminers are more likely to scrap with Yushchenko supporters than the troops, at least this early in the proceedings.

Several reports are that the Georgian President has spoken to the protestors in Ukrainian (no easy task, tak!) and referred to Yushchenko as "President Yushchenko." That and a Dynamo Kyiv victory, Veronica says, are cheering the crowds.

This post from Fistful of Euros has a good roundup and some local flavor.

The Yushchenko campaign site seems to be running better now. This post has evening details. It's noteworthy that Yulia Tymoshenko has taken such a big role in the opposition. She once had aspirations for the top job. She can be damned persuasive, too, so Yushchenko has a valuable ally there. Keep an eye on her.

LAST UPDATE: I'll switch to a new post in the morning. The only additional point I have is the location of the two groups -- following posts on Maidan, it looks like they are more than 1km away. The Yanukovych people are at the stadium, apparently tenting after watching Dynamo's win. That's down at the bottom of a hill. Up the hill is the parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers is halfway between on the other side. The Yushchenko people are instead on another street about a quarter-mile away and at the top of the hill, on Bank Street at the presidential palace. Unless one side moves towards the other, they shouldn't get mixed up. Still, I'm suspicious.

Belmont Club weighs in on the Russian angle.
Although the Kremlin has deployed some Special Forces units to the Ukraine, it seems highly unlikely that Russia would risk an all out military campaign to bring the Ukraine within the fold. Although there are no explicit NATO security guarantees to the Ukraine, there have been many half-promises and partial arguments.
Again, color me suspicious when those troops are on Bank Street between the opposition and the presidential palace.

Stupid SUV tricks at Pomona 

Lost in my shuffle of news over the last few days was this gem from Alex Tabarrok.
SUVS at adjacent Pomona college were painted with anti-SUV messages like "My SUV wastes 33% more gas than a car" and "Is your image a good reason for people to die." (The paint is apparently washable). When the offending students were caught they had a surprising defense: their vandalism was part of an approved class project!
Alex refers to Apollo of Right Reason, who has more information, (and is from mighty Upland, one of my former addresses). Apollo uncovers the mealy-mouthed academic memos explaining how this became an "inadvertently" approved class project.
But we�re to believe that Prof. Huoy just didn�t notice it when students proposed vandalism as a class project? This wouldn�t rise to the level of criminal negligence, but it certainly is academic negligence. Either she approved, without reading, every proposal that came in front of her, or she approved this one without reading it. But at least she has "taken steps to prevent this grave error from happening again." One can safely presume, I believe, that these "steps" can be filed under "Actually Doing Her Job."
Apollo also opines on some motives for why the project's approval might not have been "inadvertent".


From the LA Times

When admissions officers for Santa Clara University recruit new freshmen, they do their best to reach the kind of students they'd like to see more of on the Silicon Valley campus: boys.

"We make a special pitch to them to talk about the benefits of Santa Clara, as we do for other underrepresented groups," Charles Nolan, Santa Clara's vice provost for admissions, said of the school's efforts to boost male applicants.

I will alert the SCSU administration, which at last report was 56% female. Hat tip: Newmark's Door.

Pop a cork 

The National Association of Business Economists Economic Outlook says happy days are here again.
�The so-called 'soft patch' is receding into the background, providing a strong backdrop to the holiday selling season ,� said Carl Tannenbaum , Chair of the NABE Outlook Survey committee and Chief Economist at LaSalle Bank in Chicago. Tannenbaum added, �Our panel expects the new year to bring us the gifts of lower oil prices, lower unemployment, and continued expansion.�
Other notes from the survey:

I'm worried 

I've been trying to get more news out of Ukraine, where widespread protests are growing over the election result hastily issued that declared Viktor Yanukovych the winner on Sunday. There are protests in the much of western Ukraine as well, including 20,000 in Lviv and a thousand or so outside the Ukrainian embassy in London. And this morning's New York Times carries a picture of the protestors in Kyiv's Independence Square, a place where I sat and ate sandwiches at lunch many times in 1995-96.

Unfortunately Yanukovych is the handpicked successor to Leonid Kuchma, who runs the country in an autocratic manner, and the only way the results can be legally overturned must be initiated by Kuchma. It will take popular protests of significant and sustained strength to pressure the government enough to overturn the result, even if the parliament itself -- where opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko has much greater influence -- votes for an electoral review. At that point, I fear we will begin to see violence.

It may not turn out that way. Ukrainsk'a Pravda is reporting that Yanukovych has begun negotiating with the parliament to avoid conflicts. The large outcry of the Ukrainian diplomatic corps may also bring pressure to find a way out of this standoff. There is nobody outside of the Ukrainian government that believes the results are valid. The question is whether the government will negotiate a settlement that appears valid to all, or decide to fight it out. For now, it is keeping a low police presence and waiting, hoping the "orange revolution" subsides.

For those interested in reading more, the Brama Newstand is a very good source of information.

UPDATE: Instapundit reads the front page of the NYT as well. He suggests Blog de Connard, who has been photoblogging with pictures that make me strangely nostalgic, and Neeka's Backlog (which I had already read and should have already linked, izvinitije.) Here's the link to Yushchenko's campaign page (should bring up the English version), but it is awfully slow loading. The Yanukovych official government page is here and seems to have some news, but I cannot find a campaign page in English. Peter Lavelle has a different view -- he thought the election was Yanukovych's to lose, unlike many other observers, but that perceptions were the key. Well, that's lost now.

More Kool-Aid! 

There are of course no shortage of loons in Minnesota, and even on Minnesota campuses (as Captain Ed shows us one example.) And as leftist faculty around the country continue to engage in conspiracy theories of stolen elections, it is no surprise that we would fine one such theorist here at SCSU. Unsurprisingly as well, the local paper chose to consume soy ink on him (after today, go to the Saturday opinion page to find this malodorous analysis.) Let's begin at the end, where he chooses the old appeal to authority:
John C. Alessio is professor of sociology at St. Cloud State University, where he has taught, among other courses, graduate and undergraduate Research Methods. He has published articles in some of the most prestigious journals in his field.
I.e., John "knows stuff". Back up to the top now...
As a data analyst, I find the declared election outcome, and many surrounding events, problematic.
...which is largely a function of the fact that your guy lost. How do we know that?
First, exit polls were attacked before and during the election. Yet they have accurately predicted and identified presidents for decades. We now know they accurately identified Al Gore the winner in 2000.
That's how. We "now know", as opposed to when?

Secondly, one must question from where President Bush attained an additional 9 million votes over his 2000 election votes. Democrats had about 51 million votes and Republicans had about 50.5 million votes in 2000. About 115 million people voted in 2004, and about 14 million of them hadn't voted in 2000. Of those 14 million, Kerry received about 8 million and Bush about 6 million.

From the available data, we can calculate that about 4 million people who voted in 2000 didn't vote in 2004. We cannot determine who they are. We do know that high voter turnout historically favors Democrats and challengers. So we can split the 4 million lost votes and subtract 2 million from each candidate without being unfair to Bush.

The 6 million new votes for Bush would increase his 2000 election total to 56.5 million. Subtracting the 2 million as described above leaves 54.5 million votes for Bush -- not enough to win, and 4.8 million votes short of Bush's reported 59.3 million 2004 total.

The only place from which Bush could attain 4.8 million additional votes is from the 2000 election Democrats because we already gave him his share of the new votes.

...which of course he finds implausible. For instance, looking at the New York Times' Portrait of the Electorate, William Kurewicz sees a complete return of the Reagan Democrats to the Republican party for the first time since Reagan. In particular, older voters who voted 51-47 for Gore in 2000 went 54-46 to Bush in 2004. Also Craig Newmark suggests the a significant number of Jewish voters rewarded Bush's loyalty to Israeli security concerns with their votes that went to Gore in 2000 (see his followup as well). Note that this requires perhaps a switching rate of 15% from Gore to Bush and 5% from Bush to Kerry. This does not seem too bad.

This is on top of the new-voter story splitting 4-3 for Kerry (whereas in exit polls of 18-27 year olds the split was 54-43), and that the loss of 4 million voters includes many old people, who again were more Gore than Bush supporters in 2000. In the case of Virginia, it is contended by officials that new rural voters turned the state ... to Bush.

So his analysis of the data might be flawed. But that would not be so bad if he didn't veer from bad analysis to Moonbatland.
I wrote the above general analysis on Nov. 3, and since then learned of a similar analysis .
Wow, other people know stuff too. He goes on to cite Moonbat outposts like Blatant Truth or Us Together, most of which looks like pickoffs from Stolen Election. (No, I don't link to these people. Wouldn't be prudent, as some guy used to say.)
We cannot afford to let our nation become old Chicago. People must have alternatives to accepting election fraud when all government agencies are controlled by the elected.
Can anyone make sense of the second sentence? And since when does his statistical analysis prove Daleyesque ballot box stuffing?
If we continue our current course, we will inevitably find ourselves where fraud can only be defeated with greater fraud. Is that the brand of democracy we want?
This strikes me as a threat -- this Leftist is deluded to think that he knows what the people want, and that if he cannot get the result he knows to be true by the ballot box fairly he will advocate taking it by force. Is this the kind of professor of a state university we want?

But let us be kind, and chalk it up to another case of P.E.S.T. Treatment should return him to good health and able to return to teaching statistics.

(Other articles read in preparation here, here, and here.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

Double down on those red kettles 

Another nice part of the Northern Alliance -- there are many -- is that we have many eyes and ears out there to find worthy causes around the holidays. I cannot think of a better one than what the Elder has found in the Spirit of America Friends of Iraq bloggers challenge.

Leading bloggers are competing to raise funds to benefit the people of Iraq. 100% of all donations go to needs selected by these bloggers. Many of our projects support requests made by Americans serving in Iraq (Marines, Army, SeaBees) for goods that help the Iraqi people. Other projects directly support Iraqis who are on the front lines of building a better future for Iraq.

Please give early and often to the Northern Alliance team entry of the challenge. I'll put up the template link in a few minutes. Elder reports that we're up against Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine, who is a worthy opponent. We need everyone's help to win this. Next time you pass through Target, think of those coins you didn't give there, and send 'em on to us. Thankee.

Surveying outsourcing, getting it wrong 

Not only was the whole debate over outsourcing misunderstood theoretically, it turns out it was misestimated empirically too. If you are not a subscriber to the Wall Street Journal, see if you can find this article on outsourcing.

The U.S. government's attempt to count workers who lose their jobs when employers "outsource" work overseas has suffered a setback: Too many employers say they just don't know the numbers.

The U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, which began tracking such job losses in January, has tried to coax the information from senior executives of companies that have laid off more than 50 people. It even sent in psychologists to reinterview some of the personnel officers who answered a BLS questionnaire, theorizing its questions were misunderstood.

But the answer to the question -- a matter of interest in the 2004 presidential campaign -- remained "don't know." The BLS, as a result, hasn't been able to produce a count.

In its latest report, published last week, the BLS could say only that 16,091 workers were laid off because of job relocations in the third quarter. It couldn't say how many jobs had shifted within the U.S. or were shipped overseas.

In 13 of the 95 cases involving job relocations during the third quarter, "the employer could not say anything beyond, 'I laid off 100 people in this layoff. I did move work, but I can't tell you how many of these 100 were due to the movement of work to X, Y and Z,' " says Lewis Siegel, who directs the BLS's mass-layoffs statistics program. The bureau concluded that that proportion was too high to provide a "meaningful" count.

I believe this is the first quarter report and this the report where they gave up. I've asked another blogger who works for BLS to check for me on this one. I'll see post what she has on this.

Bad juju in Ukraine 

I'll get to the latest talk of electoral fraud in the U.S. soon -- I have a local story that needs telling -- but there's a bigger travesty afoot in Ukraine after the runoff elections yesterday. The worst possible outcome, as one observer called it: a close win for the current government's successor candidate, Viktor Yanukovych. The opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, has called for peaceful protests. Exit polls indicated that Yuschenko was up 11 points, but we all know about exit polls. Still, there is ample evidence of fraud. For example, one province known to be favorable to Yanukovych has reported turnout of 96%, with more than 100% in many areas within it. Senator Richard Lugar, representing the U.S. as an observer, has called out the Kuchma government.
It is now apparent that a concerted and forceful program of election day fraud
and abuse was enacted with either the leadership or cooperation of governmental

The OSCE is similarly concerned.

I have a Ukrainian student in the department and we talked briefly Friday about the election. We were both concerned that this worse possible outcome would happen. I have not seen him today, but I'm sure he's as concerned as I am that a dark period in Ukraine's brief democratic history will occur. I've been expecting it since I wrote my book on Ukraine -- countries in "kleptocratic traps" seem to find some low-growth equilibrium.

My earlier thoughts on the election are here.

Damning with faint praise 

Professor Steven Covey sent a note to the campus this morning which reveals that we aren't getting good press from the high schools.
Last week, three of our children from two different District 742 schools brought home information about career options after high school. I would guess that the same information is given to every teenager in the state. The descriptions of MnSCU Universities and the U of M are given below and do not put MnSCU Universities in a very favorable light.


Selected text from the �Types of Minnesota Post-Secondary Education Institutions�

Minnesota State Universities � Minnesota State Universities are four-year institutions offering a full range of athletic and arts programs.

University of Minnesota

  • The Crookston campus is internationally recognized for its technology initiatives.

  • The Duluth campus (UMD) consistently ranked among the top regional universities nationwide.

  • The Morris campus (UMM) ranks as one of the best public arts colleges in the nation.

  • The Twin Cities campus offers one of the most comprehensive academic programs of any institution in Minnesota. Two thirds of the states doctors, veterinarians,
    dentists, and pharmacists are graduates.
Don't know why, Steve. Maybe it's because some people keep sending letters to high school counselors.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Setting your own Target 

Unless you live under a rock, you probably have now heard about Hugh creating a ruckus over Target's decision to not let the Salvation Army solicit donations on its property, and his dragging Lileks into it. If you grew up in a city as I did, hearing bellringers for the SA is part of the ambience of Christmas. It detracts from my shopping to have that sound removed.

Just not enough to get me to go to WalMart. Chumley has those details for us. No need to review.

Actually, I don't frequent stores any more. I play Christmas carols on the computer's sound system and hit Amazon, eBay, LL Bean, Imaginarium and the rest. I can shop in my pajamas, or underwear. If I want to feel the cold, I take the laptop outside. I can even have the sound of bells ringing on a .wav on a continuous loop.

Which might be Target's solution.

To be serious, Target owns its property. If enough people follow Hugh, they will make the business decision to have the Army on its property; they estimate currently that there will not be enough business lost to put up with the claims for equal time from groups that provide no net benefit to Target (and I agree with Hugh that the Army does.)

I doubt Target is surprised by the boycott threat, and I would think it's factored into the decision. If they are, they're not nearly as smart as I think they are. (No, I don't own stock.) But I think they are.

I might even bet some SALMON!!! on it.

The cost of moving 

I tend to believe in immigration as largely helpful to the receiving country. I have a student working on a paper currently looking at illegal immigration and its effects on unemployment rates in the states that receive them. She is including in her test a feedback mechanism that determines how immigrants decide where to move. So far she cannot detect any effect in either direction, which fits my priors, but we're still testing.

St. Cloud is having a human rights day, and with its substantial Somali immigrant community, as in much of the upper Midwest, the mayor and local leaders have decided to focus on their circumstances. The program centers on the "Lewiston letter," a two year old incident from Maine described here in the Washington Post.

Now the city's mayor, Laurier T. Raymond, has asked the Somali elders to put a stop to that immigration. In a public letter earlier this month, Raymond warned of the toll taken by so many immigrants on the city's finances and cultural fabric, and asked the elders to help stanch the flow.

"This large number of new arrivals cannot continue without negative results for all," Raymond wrote. "I am well aware of the legal right of a U.S. citizen to move anywhere . . . but it is time for the Somali community to exercise discipline.

"Please pass the word," he concluded. "We have been overwhelmed . . . our city is maxed out financially, physically and emotionally."

I'm a native of Manchester, NH, and my mother is the product of the same kinds of families as inhabit Lewiston Maine -- her family can trace roots back to the area to the 18th century. That area has taken in many immigrants over the years, including my father's Armenian parents, Bosnian refugees, Carribean families from Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, etc. The portrayal of Lewiston as a bunch of inbred unenlightened millworkers is ignorant of the history of northern New England.

So I wonder how informed our local leaders are when, in their flyer for their event, they state,
When Mayor Larry Raymond published a letter asking the newly arrived Somali immigrants to ask their friends and families not to move to the Lewiston, the heartbeat of racism that thumps under the skin of some people was revealed. Fast-paced and sometimes unrelenting, it draws the viewer in to the personalities and circumstances that built up in a town like St. Cloud and, forcing us to examine the dynamics in our own town and our future response to intolerance.
The letter reveals no such thing. It reveals a political leader forced by state and federal government to provide services that the city may not be able to afford, and seeks to find a way to escape the crushing burden. There are certainly some who will point to this event with rank nativism and make the issue cultural. Yet by the article itself, we can see some of the reasons are also economic:

"They found Lewiston," Ali said. "They check the crime statistics, they see the last policeman killed here was in 1882. They see the unemployment rate is low. There is housing and close family values like Somalia.

"The young men [who first scouted Lewiston] tell us: 'This is a dream place.' "

So people move for economic benefits, be it my Armenian grandfather looking for millwork in 1910 or Somali immigrants ninety years later. And southern Maine was and is a dream place. It's also a place with high welfare benefits, which some qualified for after being denied federal relocation monies. The Post article thinks $450,000 in relocation costs to the city miniscule compared to its $70 million budget, but cities run fairly tight budgets and cannot borrow. The city administrator has written a paper about the issues surrounding this management.

I have no idea how much St. Cloud currently spends on relocation of Somali families. But considering those costs in setting policy seems only reasonable.

Ask Dr. English 

Dave Huber has found his objet de Fisk, who seems to be a real dud. Does it take two years to learn deconstructivism?
So, how can you say that I "don't understand" what deconstructivism is when the very essence of the movement signifies no definite meaning?? Or, to put it another way, what prevents you from writing your essay in straightforward language?
Because she has a masters degree ... in English! Oh wait, she's still a candidate.

Small acts mean much 

Flash from Centrisity has a benefit in Chanhassen going today for a friend with cancer. Please visit his site and offer what you can, either through attendance or donation.

I am busy grading today. More later.

Smart Students 

I printed off some of yesterday�s discussion and showed it to a class. One of my students sent me this this morning and I�ll pass it on. Students often make so much more sense than faculty.


Paintings on a neglected wall,
the work of the global artist
Barely hang by their hooks, fragile
spider webs hold them still for us.
You lay your interpretation next to mine
and they mate on the floor at our feet.
Like we, they cry,
who will nurse these babies?
Gently cradle newborn heads,
and wash open little eyes,
Yet how shall they see each other,
from across the room?

This is in response to the craziness; heaven help up if we feel the need to crucify Yorkies dressed like Quakers. I have had enough.
We are headed towards legal and agreeable segregation. To a growing country of ego- maniacs I say, �not everything is about you�.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


In all 10 emails appeared on the announcement list and 11 on the discussion list to charge, countercharge, wonder and worry over the apology within a 24-hour period. (There's probably some overlap there, but there were 15 separate posters by my count.) In none did anyone say specifically what was wrong with the picture. In this lies a tale...

The fellow who posted the picture is not a Scholar (though certainly a scholar); I don't think he'd shirk the label of a tried-and-true DFLer. He is also member of a minority group. When he posted the picture, nothing was posted that indicated a problem existed until he posted an apology. Yet when others posted suggestions that the offended were making a mountain out of a molehill, we got expressions of anger and what I like to call "competitive self-loathing", in which a series of hinged-knee white guys genuflect to the bitch-goddess PC and proclaim that they are more sensitive than previous posters. One guy (he's the fellow who didn't shake hands at mandatory diversity training) tells us "such concerned individuals are trying to educate the campus community, I would think" -- and yet had the purveyor of the picture not apologized, nobody would have known anything was wrong. Why? Because, as Mr. Anger noted, "I chose to make it a private response so as to avoid a man I respect any further awkwardness" because "I often think of Dr. X as one of the good people on this campus." (Of course, later he tells us of his actions.) So had I posted the picture, as one of the bad people on this campus, what would Mr. Anger have done?

There is a stark parallel between this behavior and the silence of the left, including our own campus radicals, to the portrayal of Condoleezza Rice in cartoons. Why is it OK for all these cartoons to show her to be an ebonics-speaking moron with buck teeth or as Prissy from Gone With the Wind? Because, as one cartoon says, she's "a warmonger", the label liberals applies to neo-conservatives in order to not take them seriously. So because the original poster of the picture is a known liberal, he simply needed some private reminder about the picture, but when someone known to be conservative says he doesn't see what the big deal is he's told he needs more (re-)education. I agree with James Taranto not to make a big deal out of this, but their hypocrisy is plain.
These expressions of racial prejudice don't actually diminish Rice's accomplishments, and they are not going to prevent her from becoming one of the most powerful people in the world. These cartoonists have merely proved to the world that they are prejudiced against blacks who don't share their views--and that's good to know.

The absence of outrage from the liberal sensitivity police, who would be up in arms if a conservative cartoonist committed a similar offense (cf the reaction to National Review's 1997 cover depicting the Clintons as Asians, second item), shows that liberals are hypocrites when it comes to race--and that, too, is useful to know.

Perhaps useful to know, but on a college campus it's dangerous. The "bewildered" post by the woman mentioned in the blog entry just below had to start her letter with this plea for leniency:
This is meant to be an honest question, not an attempt to insult anyone. That said, I apologize in advance if I stick my foot in it!
Therein lies the chilled discussion that results from their hypocrisy. It has no business on a college campus.


Of course the flap over the picture on our announce list (see the story immediately below) continues on campus. We have examples of anger...
... it is always, each and every time, a problem to me when I see or hear my heritage being diminished. AND HELL NO, I won�t get over it! Indeed, I view suggestions that I do so as fighting words. Racism unopposed, whether due to omission (ignorance) or commission (hate/fear) both perpetuates and sanctions future inappropriate acts. By not responding I allow such nonsense to grow stronger and become more commonplace. When you use my heritage for your entertainment, you not only insult me, you convey your disdain for me and people like me.
When his apology came out, I still didn't quite get the issue - the first thing that popped into my head was that some people might be offended by the idea of dressing animals in human costumes. The Native American issue had not occurred to me. And that got me to thinking.

Am I racist because I don't notice things that might be insulting to others?

And doesn't specifically pointing out differences draw more attention to them, rather than building bridges that overcome the divides? Am I wrong in hoping that my new baby will continue to be blind to the differences in skin color at his day care? Where's the line between celebrating difference and making difference a means to divide?
It's easy for me to laugh at a caricature of Germans (my ancestry) as stubborn, thick-headed rule-bound or militaristic. Such caricatures are rare and carry no power to hurt me. No one follows me around in stores or pulls me over without cause because of my German ancestry. I have not been restricted in my access to education, housing, credit, insurance or general respect on account of my German ancestry. Indeed, as a white man I have benefited from unearned advantages due to past and present racism.
...to clueless.
Is the only response to a request for respectful communication the assumption that someone's "free speech" is being challenged?
To answer the last question, yes, it is the only response. More later tonight.

Today's end of the world moment 

Yesterday morning a colleague who is also a reader here (but who doesn't usually agree with me -- those are my very favorite readers!) tried to give away a toner cartridge. Here's the substance of his message.
To give away to whoever (on or off campus it doesn�t matter)

NEC SuperScript 870 Toner Module still in box dated 10/03

Happy Thanksgiving

I don't need the toner, so I discarded the message. I thought the picture cute, since Littlest Scholar is known to dress our pets in a variety of costumes, but nothing more. Late in the afternoon he sends an apology for this message.

Evidently my email with the picture of the dog and cat in Thanksgiving costumes has been a source of distress to at least some in the campus community. I deeply apologize. From my collection of hundreds of graphics I try to include a graphic that may fit the message or time. The picture was selected from a collection of how people dress up their pets. On reflection I understand how some could be offended.

"A source of distress"?? Can I get a WTF here, people? I tried reflecting on it and couldn't "understand how some could be offended." I asked and was told the headwear of the dog was what was possibly offensive. Nobody has come out and said so publicly -- I guess that is left to "reflection". And the nature of the flurry of emails in the aftermath of the apology seem more centered on the letter-writer overreacting, as he has now decided he does not wish to participate in faculty governance after some star chamber therein found him guilty of thoughtcrime for posting the picture and obviously communicated the verdict to him privately. That and the "hey, everybody makes mistakes" or "I'm an American Indian, and I'm not offended" lines. Like those ever helped anyone before.

So if you're going to dress your pets for Thanksgiving, remember, keep 'em in school clothes, lest you cause Pre-Thanksgiving Pet Costume Selection Trauma. Featured in a DSM III near you.

Got the fixin-to-die blues 

In a newsletter sent by the Adam Smith Institute I read a very funny anecdote.
Professor Steven Schwartz told an ASI seminar of the time he'd given a very controversial lecture. One of his students came up and said "Professor, is it possible to get a copy of that paper?" "It's a bit contentious," he replied. "I might publish it posthumously." "Oh good," said the student. "I can hardly wait!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The lowdown on the hoedown at the markdown 

What with K-Mart and Sears merging, I think I'll shop at the mighty WalMart instead. John tells me it's a good place to pick up women, at least in Germany.

Going to Wal-mart to buy a few things, even if you end up throwing them in the garbage, might be cheaper than going to a dimly lit bar. Also, shopping for a date this way might involve some interesting signaling strategies as people send signals by the items they place in their carts, such as:

  • Look at me. I buy lots of neat things and can provide for you.
  • I'm a very clean person, and I know how to do housework.
  • I like to look good for my partner, and I save money doing so by shopping at Wal-mart.
  • I don't mind watching chick/guy flicks.
I'm not in need of female companionship, but it's important to file these things away. It's also good to file away observations like "economists think funny," and "economists are so cheap they'd rather buy Swiffers at WalMart than a martini at the bar to meet members of the opposite sex." (or the same sex, not that there's anything wrong with that...)

But you can't use bait! 

Hube's Cube may have found an academic fraud case. Even if not, he's got some fine fisking done on another professor of education. I'm thinking we should start handicapping these -- fish, barrel, fill-in-the-blanks. I mean, when you get a paragraph like this...
The basis or defining features of the reigning ideology itself hints at the association being disguised, that is, the relationship between whites and blacks in which the historically raced and now race-lessed are black people (categorically, conceptually, or as construct�those person who cannot or will not whiten). The binary positing of identity formation and the meaning of conceptual blackness and whiteness in the development of commonsense understandings remain unchanged.
...it just doesn't seem fair. Reminds me of a joke...

And I looked up 

Joke of the day, from the Random Penseur.


My parents send a check to my children for their grades; Littlest Scholar practically runs home with her report card to call Grammie to collect her earnings. Mrs. Scholar and I do not like to pay for grades but we haven't discouraged Grammie's practice. Alex Tabarrok reports on an experiment in 24 poor-performing schools in NYC, where probably parents cannot pay their children for grades. Experimenters are using their own money instead, and getting good results. (Arnold Kling-ish) Question: Would money spent on big-city school systems be better used as bribes for A's?

Craig still rolling 

Craig Westover performs a lobotomy on the latest Nick Coleman column about funding of inner-city schools. Saves me some work. Here's the bottomline quote:
A government-run education system must concern itself with the system as a whole. It must use collective statistics to judge its adequacy. It must homogenize everything from curriculum to funding mechanisms to ensure no one is offended or feels slighted, which also means no one is satisfied.

Inherent problems of bureaucratic management run contrary to the personalized education every parent wants for his or her child. And despite that fact, the education establishment puts preservation of the system above the welfare of students.
As I tell people here, all education is retail -- it's like campaigning in the New Hampshire primary. You have to go to each door and listen. I'm busy advising new majors this week, and no two are alike. It's a lot of work (I've done six in the last two days), but we haven't developed the technology yet that allows mass customization of education. Not that it might not happen some day, but I think it's highly unlikely to happen in a government school for exactly the reason explained in Craig's last sentence.

The power of battlefield tests 

This kind of thinking appeals to economists:
Betsy's Page evaluates the Type I error committed by a Marine in Fallujah.
That use of the statistical concept of Type I error neatly encapsulates the whole question of this shooting. It depends on what the null hypothesis is. Is the null that people lying motionless on the battlefield are dead? Or is it that they are alive? Type I error is the probability of a false alarm. Type II errors -- the likelihood of accepting a false null hypothesis, can be thought of as a failed alarm. On a battlefield, failed alarms can be deadly. You could switch the null and assume the motionless are still alive, but since the power of the test is pretty low, you would have to move very slowly through a battlefield. What is the correct balance? Obviously, opinions will differ, but there are standards used, as Wretchard points out.

What's a good graduation rate 

Are University of Minnesota graduation rates too low? We can't really tell, though the graphic Craig Depken shows would tell you the U has the lowest in the Big Ten. But it hides the fact that schools like Iowa and Minnesota have state mandates that require it to admit the top half of each high school class if they wish to attend. Northwestern does not. Craig refers to this as "filtering". Likewise, the worries about graduation rates at SCSU should be studied regarding the filtering we use. Given the students we can attract, it's likely our six-year graduation rate will be lower than the U's 53.1%. Should it be 43%, 45% or 47%? How would you decide?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Some guys never change stripes 

Yes, Chumley, I know Abbas. This is the kind of thing he always says. Even long ago.

The opposition groups must work "together to establish a representative and constitutional government in Iraq," Dr. Abbas Mehdi, a member of the Independent Assembly of Iraq and the conference coordinator, said.

He maintained that opposition to Saddam Hussein's leadership is not limited to the Shi'a, Sunni and Kurdish populations of Iraq, but is truly the "work of all Iraqi people."

"Unity is the key" to the opposition's effort to bring about a change in government in Baghdad, Mehdi stressed. He noted that a committee elected by the 18 groups in attendance at the conference voted to organize a future conference that would "bring all (Iraqi) opposition groups together."

The opposition groups agreed to a political, economic and social agenda for a future democratically-based government of Iraq.

Seems to me that's what we're doing, isn't it, Abbas? Sorry that we're doing it 13 years later. So how about you get this conference together and get these "rival" groups to knock it off, 'k?

Yay, my major is still relevant! 

Money Magazine has its latest list of the top majors that employers are seeking of our graduates. Economics is on the list.

When asked which new college grads they were likely to hire, the greatest number of employers said they were interested in hiring grads who majored in accounting, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, business administration and economics/finance.

Rounding out the top 10 list were students who majored in computer science, computer engineering, marketing or marketing management, chemical engineering, and information sciences and systems.

61% of firms reported they are hiring more graduates this year than last, more than a 13% overall increase in hires, and expect starting salaries to rise 3.7% over last year. Students here are responding to my frequent emails to get more mock interviews and help with resume-writing. This on top of last September's survey showing starting wages of 2004 graduates in economics and finance breaking above $40,000.

Using Nessie to your advantage 

Regarding my post about Nessie yesterday, Jay Matthews suggests how one could use that data to help find the best, rather than the best-known, schools. He has several D.C.-area colleges that have good programs that might be overlooked (I've interviewed three on that list, and they were all excellent.) SCSU uses NSSE for its own assessment of learning outcomes, but we don't provide data in the way these sites Matthews lists do -- perhaps we should.

PESTs in our midst 

While visiting No Credentials (who has earned her way to the blogroll in no time flat) I found my way back to Winston's Diary, where Julia has blogged an academic listserv full of academics suffering from P.E.S.T. Here are a couple of choice entries: The most amazing thing is that this did NOT happen at SCSU. This is what happens when you discuss censoring a list.

Cleverly wrong people 

I was skimming blogs and stopped by J.V.C.'s place last night, where I found his post on dangerous intellectuals. He refers us to Rose at No Credentials, who wrote a wonderful essay with this sentence that hits you like a 2x4.
The real danger of radical monothink is that it weakens society's faith in the quest for intellectual truth�more specifically, in the academics who've been, not without some skepticism, entrusted to take part in that quest.
I sent this on to Scholar Jack, who wrote back to me this morning.
After almost 35 years in the academy (yes, 35 � shit) I�ve come to think that one really can�t be too skeptical about intellectuals and their truth/s. It�s a bit different over in your world and (Scholar) David�s � you guys have real stuff to study � money -- that touches human existence in a tangible way. My crowd � literature, language, philosophy, constantly-revised history � touch nothing tangibly real and are terribly ego-ridden and consequently mostly wrong, in very insidious ways; there�s few things worse than people who are cleverly wrong.*
Jack, as he often does, refers to Thomas Sowell's Visions of the Anointed. There is of course something to the fact that those in the physical sciences or in professional education (which increasingly contains economics, alas) have yardsticks beyond the academy. J.V.C. points this out himself:
One of the benefits of being a two-course-per-year adjunct is that my academic opinions comprise only a tiny portion of my identity. You see, being wrong (or even challenged) in the classroom doesn't threaten to expose my scholarly career as a sham. It can't; I don't have a scholarly career. And I'm a better teacher for it.
I think that puts the finger closer on it: If you are in a field where your only references to success are other academics, you are more likely to echo their sounds, their thoughts. It begins in graduate assistantships, continues to adjuncts who want to be more than adjuncts, and ends only when, like J.V.C. or Erin, one gets a life outside.

Call them not clever, but questioningly right people.

*Jack dropped me a second note after I posted this:
My only real argument is [Rose] thinks lefties might weaken faith in the intellectual endeavor, and I think lefties exist and rule because it had already been weakened; actually it was pretty near death and they merely came to feast on the carcass. I spent a little time looking at intellectual optimist from the Enlightenment on; those folks look pretty happy and na�ve now. But it�s inevitable death was pretty clear by WW I. The Lost Generation saw it, and then the existentialists around WW II. Us folks from South Dakota only figured it out in the 80�s. In short, I thinking watching it die was part of making me pay attention to the mystics, who smile more and more broadly as we implode.
I need to buy him a beer soon. I'll smile broadly -- he can guess whether I'm a mystic or just a guy with gas.

Monday, November 15, 2004

On target about church and social justice 

Margaret Marteen has written an excellent piece on something I've been debating with my own pastor about: What on earth do we mean when we sing in church about "social justice"?
There is a Christian response to today's situation and it isn't to turn your back on the poor. It isn't to use government as a surrogate for charity. Advocating for the redistribution of wealth won't help. We would be better off trying to find a way to help people become more productive as individuals, helping them acquire the basic skills they need in order to work. The poor we may always have with us, but the Christian thing to do is to see them as individuals not as Marx's great "reserve army of unemployed." It is no accident that evangelical churches, with their emphasis on individual salvation and salvation through good works has captured the imagination of increasing numbers of people from poor countries and among recent immigrants in the US.
I joined the Lutheran church only a few years ago; I have met and talked at length with evangelicals, and while individualism means a great deal to me I find myself thinking there is more. A book that helped persuade me of this, which I shared with my pastor, is Saving Adam Smith by Jonathan Wight. Many economists have never read Smith, and most that do read only The Wealth of Nations. What Wight does it place WN in the context of Smith's earlier Theory of Moral Sentiments, and does so within the context of a novel. The fiction writing is barely passable -- the only one economics-con-fiction I've ever enjoyed as fiction is Russ Roberts' The Invisible Heart, unfortunately -- but the economics and moral philosophy within it are excellent. WN alone, though showing how self-interest guides society to create maximum wealth for itself "as if guided by an invisible hand" doesn't tell us what makes people happy. And it's not to be left for experts to figure -- people know what makes each other happy through their "sentiments", the ability to identify with the emotions of others.

While that is not a rejection of individualism, it does emphasize the role that a community of faith can play in helping others to also identify those emotions. And it may lead to people realizing, as Margaret says, that many in poverty are there do to choices made by them and by society. "[I]f they get money, it probably won't stop them from making bad choices and engaging in behaviors that are destined to keep them behind. They'll just have more money." And helping them to understand how to work with the market system strikes me as part of the means by which we get the poor to make better choices.

Nessie tells us students don't work hard 

Nessie is slang, of course for the NSSE, the National Survey of Student Engagement, which has issued its national report. This table tells some grim tales about our first-year students. Only 11% of full-time students spent more than 25 hours per week studying, yet 81% reporting earning "mostly A's" or "mostly B's". Less than 20% spend time outside class discussing ideas with faculty; less than that do work with faculty on something other than their courses. There are some things that appear positive, according to the article on Nessie in the Chronicle of Higher Ed this morning (subscribers only): No wonder liberals are worried about Fox!

Declaration of insufficient liberal youth voting 

This note comes from Scholar Jack, after someone on campus sent around this declaration on the civic responsibility of higher education from campus presidents, including our own. Jack writes:

Too often the charged words like �democracy� and �diversity� have simply meant attempts to turn students into young socialists, or at the least young liberals. Surely you�re aware of all the recent attempts to use the power of the universities, and individual professors and classrooms within the university, to get students to vote for Kerry. And of course you�re aware of the persistent desire to teach students what to think rather than how to think. And then there�s all the enforcement, all the attempts to jam leftist political perspectives down students� throats: a standard joke among students is that liberals don�t really care what they do, as long as it�s mandatory.

Put differently, a campus that has just accepted that shameful stuff we accepted during finals last semester � assumptions of collective guilt and people docilely going off to accept �retraining� for actions that had no part it � seems to be kidding itself badly if it thinks it�s a place to teach about real democracy. It�s a lot like Dan Rather offering seminars on journalistic objectivity.
It's worth noting that the declaration was originally written in 1999. Youth voter turnout was the highest in a decade this past election, and 56% of 18-24 year old voters cast ballots for Kerry. One wonders if the spreading of this declaration again now is an indication that they thought turnout would be higher, or that the other 44% were not correctly taught the "skills and values of democracy."

Homecoming royalty: a meme 

Via Cold Spring Shops and Tongue Tied, I read this morning that another school has decided to pitch the idea of homecoming queens as gender-specific. At least in their case you could argue that the reason was noble -- they wanted to give everyone an equal chance to win a scholarship.

"I think it's great the UW has chosen to have a nongender-specific homecoming royalty," said Sumida, 20, a communication major and graduate of Seattle's Roosevelt High School. "In our day and age, a lot of the traditional definitions of roles are changing, and this follows in line with that. Once people realize that this is not just a popularity contest but one based on qualifications, they'll hopefully understand and accept it."

Sumida and Cho were crowned Monday at a private reception. Jenni Backes, ASUW director of programming, said the student group is catching some flak about the change.

Fine, then let's simply do away with the concept of homecoming "royalty" and just use homecoming to give scholarships to deserving students. In the case of SCSU, however, that would require giving up the bully pulpit nightgown of political correctness.

Not a Comedy Central roast 

It figures it would have to come to our campus sooner or later, but I am surprised it was quite this fast:

The Legacy of Yasser Arafat: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?

What are the complex moral, political, and social issues American citizens must understand to promote justice and peace in the Middle East?

The public is invited to participate in this forum, which will feature a short video on the Palestinian struggle and a panel.

The panel, sponsored by something called the "Progressive Faculty Group" (heretofore unknown to me) probably isn't showing this short video. Nor is it likely to hear anything about Cleo Noel, as did listeners to our NARN broadcast last Saturday (go here with Windows Media Player at 1 and 7 am or pm CT to hear the broadcast; it lasts about an hour.)

Nor will the probably read anything from this or this.

And they dare complain about Fox?

Financial illiteracy 

The Jump$tart coalition reports a depressing trend in the ability of high school seniors to understand the basics of finance:
APersonal Financial Literacy Survey undertaken by Jump$tart in 2003-2004 tested the level of knowledge within the four core areas of income, money management, spending and credit and saving and investing. The biennial survey was administered to a national sample of 4,074 high school seniors representing 215 schools in 33 states. ... survey participants answered only 52.3 percent of the questions correctly�failing on a grade scale used by most schools.
A sample question is this:
Retirement income paid by a company is called:
a) 401k
b) pension
c) Social Security
d) rents & profits
More students are learning about finance in school these days, but the courses are often in personal finance or "consumer science" classes, rather than integrated into math or economics. The coalition would prefer to see the courses in the latter place, which are more mainstream courses.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Thursday night, I get home and Mrs. Scholar says "now remember, Littlest Scholar has her recital Friday night." "Um, was that on the calendar?" "No, they just reminded me today." I was planning to be in with the NARN on the Hugh Hewitt show, but LS recitals are required events, so I pulled off the schedule and trudged off. LS is going through a phase where she will defy authority in unique ways, so tonight's defiance was blowing through every repeat in her piece and getting off the stage in less than a minute. And "forgetting" her speech for forensics at home. One of my good friends with a 13-year-old had warned me of this a few years ago and I did not heed. Now I will.

So I go home and catch the replay of Hewitt's show to get in time for the show trials and the Lileks lockout. Not bad, I thought, until James decides we need to try Hugh. His take on walking Jasper and hearing Hugh pimp salmon* had me on the floor. All of which I gave up for the sake of hearing 45 seconds of my daughter playing. Then I realized: Had I gone, the room would have been filled and perhaps James would have kept driving to Iowa or been left waiting in the Patriot parking lot.

Salmon serendipity, they'll call it.

*figured I better link after we kinda trashed the commercial. Please send no salmon -- I'm a longtime, happy vegetarian and have always hated seafood. Ask me some time about eating clam chowder with John Sununu. Seriously.

P.S. MITCH is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NARN? NARN's page still links to my old page! And who's responsible for this? Yup, the "painfully polite" one.

How many professors are victims of the Patriot Act? 

If you read this report by the Organization of American Historians' Committee on Academic Freedom, you'd think it was a boatload. But as David Beito notes,
The Committee does not even allude to politically correct suppression of free speech through speech codes. It makes much of the Patriot Act. While I oppose the Patriot Act, and the Committee is right to criticize it, I know of very few examples of faculty members who have been prosecuted under it.
And the cases where they have haven't been particularly troubling, like the case of Mohammed Yousry that KC Johnson reported last May.

David suggests we read Ralph Luker's essay while he works on another. Keep visiting Liberty and Power for David's contribution.

Squishy education doesn't work in Japan, either 

Or, "Loose Education Sinks Test Scores.
The Education Ministry adopted what it calls yutori kyoiku, or "loose education," a U.S.-inspired overhaul of its education system that reduced workloads. The aim was to make Japanese children more independent-minded and assertive like their American counterparts by cutting the number of facts they had to memorize and freeing up more time for critical thinking. The ministry slashed class workloads, cut the length of textbooks by 30% and gave kids Saturdays off. Educators also replaced traditional lecture-style instruction with out-of-class projects that emphasize analytical skills, such as visiting local merchants to write reports about business.
Richer parents are moving their kids to private schools, and some schools are going back to basics.

Constructivism falls in another place.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs.)

UNH student update 

FIRE also announces today that Timothy Garneau, the student at the University of New Hampshire who was kicked out of his dorm for suggesting women who had put on the "freshman fifteen" use the stairs rather than the overcrowded elevator, was allowed to move back in.
...[O]n October 27, Esther Tardy-Wolfe, the director of UNH�s Judicial and Mediation Programs Office informed Garneau that UNH had suddenly decided to rescind all of the original charges against him except for �acts of dishonesty.� His sentence was reduced from eviction to �relocation� to another dormitory, extended disciplinary probation, and a single �ethics� meeting with UNH Judicial Officer Jason Whitney.

�While Tim readily admits that he initially did not tell Brad Williams, his Hall Director, that he was responsible for the flier, he was afraid that Williams would punish him severely and unlawfully for his expression,� remarked Greg Lukianoff, FIRE�s director of legal and public advocacy. �After being kicked out of the dorms for three weeks, it is clear that his fears were completely justified. Williams had no business �investigating� constitutionally-protected speech in the first place.�
No word on Garneau's weight loss during his time living in the back of his car.

UPDATE (11/14): Penraker is unimpressed.

Politically correcting humor on campus 

FIRE has issued a letter to the faculty of the University of Alabama asking that they rescind a resolution requesting the administration to enforce speech code against entertainers and other speakers brought to campus. This occurred after a comedian brought to campus told a joke at the expense of gays.
This policy should not be adopted by the University of Alabama administration. Not only does the policy, as written, constitute a vague and dangerously overbroad restriction on what may be said by speakers at UA, but the message of the policy�that controversial forms of expression should be out of bounds�is incompatible with the �marketplace of ideas� that universities depend upon to maintain their intellectual vitality. As an institution of higher learning, UA has a moral responsibility to its students, faculty members, and the Alabama taxpayers that support it to ensure that its marketplace of ideas thrives�even when some of the ideas expressed may be unpopular or �offensive.�

A couple of months ago, Professor James Otteson wondered whether the ban could be extended. Meanwhile Erin O'Connor observes, "How many times does it have to be said? The proper response to bad speech is more and better speech."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

What you teach drives who you hire 

A new faculty member tells me about a conversation she had with a colleague in another department who is more renowned for his progressivism. He reported that he tries to practice democracy in his class on democratic citizenship. (That link is not to this fellow's class, but another professor who explains well what the class' intentions are.) My new faculty member replied that she was not at all interested in democracy in her class: "they are here to learn, and I am here to teach." This is quite correct, and part of our problems as faculty who are told students are to be treated as customers.

Last night I had read Mark Bauerlein's article in the new Chronicle of Higher Ed (temporary free link here) describe why these other departments seem to gather in these types of faculty (and perhaps why we've been able to get this new faculty member who has better sense):

Political orientation has been embedded into the disciplines, and so what is indeed a political judgment may be expressed in disciplinary terms. As an Americanist said in a committee meeting that I attended, "We can't hire anyone who doesn't do race," an assertion that had all the force of a scholastic dictum. Stanley Fish, professor and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, advises, "The question you should ask professors is whether your work has influence or relevance" -- and while he raised it to argue that no liberal conspiracy in higher education exists, the question is bound to keep conservatives off the short list. For while studies of scholars like Michel Foucault, Michael Hardt, and Antonio Negri seem central in the graduate seminar, studies of Friedrich A. von Hayek and Francis Fukuyama, whose names rarely appear on cultural-studies syllabi despite their influence on world affairs, seem irrelevant.

Academics may quibble over the hiring process, but voter registration shows that liberal orthodoxy now has a professional import. Conservatives and liberals square off in public, but on campuses, conservative opinion doesn't qualify as respectable inquiry. You won't often find vouchers discussed in education schools or patriotism argued in American studies. Historically, the boundaries of scholarly fields were created by the objects studied and by norms of research and peer review. Today, a political variable has been added, whereby conservative assumptions expel their holders from the academic market. A wall insulates the academic left from ideas and writings on the right.

One can see that phenomenon in how insiders, reacting to Horowitz's polls, displayed little evidence that they had ever read conservative texts or met a conservative thinker. Weblogs had entries conjecturing why conservatives avoid academe -- while never actually bothering to find one and ask -- as if they were some exotic breed whose absence lay rooted in an inscrutable mind-set. Professors offered caricatures of the conservative intelligentsia, selecting Ann H. Coulter and Rush Limbaugh as representatives, not von Hayek, Russell Kirk, Leo Strauss, Thomas Sowell, Robert Nozick, or Gertrude Himmelfarb. One of them wrote that "conservatives of Horowitz's ilk want to unleash the most ignorant forces of the right in hounding liberal academics to death."

In some departments in our college, we place courses both on democratic citizenship and racial issues, and then demand that those departments offering those courses hire only faculty who can teach them. That job requirement builds in a bias in hiring new faculty that will think these types of issues to be important, and therefore likely to be the types of "progressives" that think experiments in democracy in freshman classrooms are worth compromising their ability to teach the Constitution.

For sake of completeness: our department does offer democratic citizenship (though most come at it from a public choice view, save the fellow whose page I linked earlier) and does not offer racial issues.

Thank you Veterans! 

None does it better than Commissioner Hugh, who has reprinted a letter he read on the air last night along with the story of one young man who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. T Lt. Palmer and to all veterans, thank you and God bless.

Local veterans are invited to our NARN salute at Keegan's Irish Pub (operated by veteran Terry Keegan) on Saturday; we'll be there post-show.

Two weird pricing stories 

...that I heard this morning.
  1. A local grill and bar sells hamburgers with chips for $4.50. A friend goes in orders one and asks for mayo on the side. He is charged an extra $.75. He does not return to the bar. "If they had raised the price of the burger $.50 and gave the condiments for free, I would still go there," he says. Is this somehow effective price discrimination? Or is the bar owner just dumb, or cheap, or ...?
  2. A colleague tells me he went to the local martini bar -- relatively new, trying to be upscale, priced to keep college students away. This colleague orders scotch on the rocks. He notices two charges on his slip -- one for the scotch, the other for the ice ($1). He learns that if he had the scotch 'neat' he would not have paid the extra dollar. What explains this?
I know our lunch hour today will be consumed thinking about this, because this is what economists do. I love my job.

Money and study are substitutes 

Someone on campus noted that 60 Minutes did a piece on diploma mills for Ph.D.s last night. The catch on this one? They built a "church" on the grounds.

There was the better part of an issue of the Chronicle of Higher Ed on this topic a few months ago. This article (free) points out the reach of these diploma mills into higher education:
A member of a college accreditation board holds a Ph.D. from a "university" that sells doctorates to anyone with $1,500. This year The Chronicle reported that Michael Davis, a member of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, received his doctorate from Saint Regis University, which claims recognition from the government of war-torn Liberia and requires little, if any, academic work. He has since been booted from the board.
I would think so. A nice illustration of how degree mills work can be found here (requires Flash player and a subscription to the Chron.) Says the investigative reporters who covered this (in another pay article):
This is not about low-rent hucksters churning out fake diplomas at Kinko's. In fact, a three-month Chronicle investigation demonstrates that the diploma-mill industry is far larger, more sophisticated, and more intertwined with legitimate higher education than most people might imagine. In this upside-down version of academe, words like "university" and "doctorate" don't mean what they do to the rest of us. Yet its graduates claim the same credentials on their r�sum�s and often put familiar initials, like "Ph.D.," after their names.
My colleague is correct to wonder whether any such people are working here at SCSU.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I'm off to the University of Walamaloo 

G'day, you're Bruce! You like to hang out with your friends Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, & Bruce drinking good Australian beer and philosophizing...
G'day, you're Bruce! You think like a philosopher,
especially after you've had a few cold
ones...Australia RULES!

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Craig is rolling! 

It was the province of the crown to sell monopolies a few hundred years ago. Thus began ventures like the Bank of England or the East India Company. In return the business ventures paid royalties to the crown.
You know it's a new day at the PioneerPress when the editorial page includes the phrase "pay the Danegeld". It's Craig Westover, skinning TPaw within an inch of his libertarian life."

"While I have stated a clear preference for keeping casino gaming within its
current contours," writes the governor with the subtlety of Brando's Don
Corleone, "I have also indicated a desire to obtain a fair financial contribution from tribal casino operators in exchange for some form of continued exclusivity of casino operations and perhaps other benefits."

Neither surprising nor coincidental is that among "other benefits" are means to enhance tribal gaming revenues (consequently government revenue). Astounding is the matter-of-fact manner in which the governor declares it an "other benefit" that agreement to his coercive offer eliminates the "annual battle at the Legislature and the tribes needing to spend significant resources and time trying to maintain the status quo."

In other words, the governor recognizes the need, under the status quo, for the tribes (read "all business owners") to genuflect at the altar of the Legislature and pay the Danegeld of "resources and time" for protection of a consistent business environment free of government meddling. He confirms that it is a better investment for the Native American casinos (read "all business owners") to wine and dine a legislator than put profit back into their communities (or businesses).

I know many people who like Pawlenty, including my colleagues in the NARN, but this atop the drug reimportation schemes has cooled any ardor I have for this governor. If gambling is something the government should regulate it should regulate it equally between reservation and other lands.

Are we getting biased French news about the Ivory Coast? 

Scholar Jack, meanwhile, has sent to me a letter from a colleague of his from the Ivory Coast. The letter is quite long, so I've uploaded it for people to read. Jack reports:

He claims the French are supporting the rebels to keep their hands on oil deposits; the elected government is pretty popular but it trying to put the oil up for international bids. Hence all the stuff about Frenchmen (and one American) being killed, the French taking out the Ivory Coast air force, etc.

And the big problem here ist hat the American press are simply taking their feeds from the French media and presenting it uncritically.

I did some scouring of the news. An example of U.S. coverage would be this article in the Christian Science Monitor. It does seem as if the focus is on French troops killed and not the locals who may have been killed by French forces. The irony of this position is not lost on everyone.

No definitions, no rules ... just right! 

Scholar Dave sends along this note, links added by me.

The tag line of Outback Steakhouse, "No rules . . . just right," was acted out again this year by such liberal Democrats as Phyllis Kahn, Sandy Berger, and Dan Rather. Steal some lawn signs, stuff your pants with stolen papers, or use forged documents! Who cares? Since leftists' ends are morally superior, they can justify any means. Ergo, rules can be ignored.

But now we see growing evidence of a new strategy employed by the left: obfuscate, or better yet, obliterate commonly used definitions of words that don't suit your ends. President Clinton first encouraged us to question variant existential meanings of the third-person, singular, present-tense of the verb, "to be," when he noted, "It depends on what the meaning of the word, 'is,' is." Then radical jurists from San Francisco to Boston ruled that in order to embrace diversity, the word, "marriage," can . . . no, must . . . be subject to diverse interpretations.

And now, as previously reported, we note that our campus administrators want us to embrace a new meaning of the word, "queen." Yes, a plurality of the less than 1/2 of 1% of SCSU's students who bothered to vote for their Homecoming Queen cast their ballots for a male. Sure, they could have voted for him to be a Vice King (or King of Vice, if you prefer); but, no, more as a joke than as a statement, they voted for him to be their "queen." Now his election is endorsed enthusiastically in the national press by politically enlightened students, professors, President Saigo, and all his administrative court jesters.

I give up now. So let me then also embrace our new mantra, "No definitions, no rules . . . just right!" I therefore write to submit the names of two individuals deserving of SCSU's highest annual award: "Students' Excellence in Leadership."

First, I nominate my 90 year-old Aunt Sally. No, she's not a student here - at least not in any traditional (or even non-traditional) sense. Actually, her Parkinsonian dementia has now forced us to confine her to a nursing home. But, hey, we're now all about breaking traditional molds and definitional stereotypes here. Sally has been a great student this year, learning how to affix new velcro straps on her shoes.

And she has led so many of us to consider the insidious nature of ageism. Why, we elites have to educate others to broaden the diversity of their thinking. Should any disagree with us, let's call them "fogyphobes," get the press here, parade around our old gal in a "Rally for Sally," and demand that President Saigo do even more to denounce all confining definitions of the word, "student."

Should anyone try to use reason to denounce our attempts to rewrite definitions, all we have to do is use emotion and cry, "Hate Crime!" Why, we can raise the community's consciousness to our demands for "social justice" even more by filing complaints with the St. Cloud police about threats received by Sally. Then we can ask SCSU's administrators to censor opposing blog sites. Wow, we could even stage a march to the St. Cloud Times.

Also, please let me nominate for a second "Students' Excellence in Leadership Award" my dog, Mort. OK, so he's not a "human" student. But, so what? What are you, a "speciest"? Can't we just broaden our thinking a little bit? Mort, after all, learned new tricks every year; and he led me by pulling on his leash. Oh, I almost forgot. The best reason for giving Mort the "Students' Excellence in Leadership" award . . . is that he's now dead!

Anyone opposing his nomination here will be branded a necrophobe. What an opportunity to expand our horizons to another cosmic dimension! Just think of the indoctrination teach-in opportunities. We can use his corpse and parade him around the Student Union! Down with being mortified about Mort . . . or any form of mortality. "Support the Mort!" I can hear the chants now.

Who cares if other "traditional" students lose their chance to win "Excellence in Leadership" awards and feel bad? Who cares if ignorant alumni stop giving to our foundation? After all, our goal of anarchistic socialism (as espoused by Noam Chomsky in our credo, "Social Justice," {http://www.socialjustice.org/} justifies all means! My goodness, activism is so much more fun than critical reasoning . . . or disciplined, scholarly research, for that matter.

No definitions, no rules . . . just right!

Events that change your life 

I was visiting with one of our younger faculty last night, reflecting on the things that change us. As I mentioned in my post yesterday about picking baseball MVP's (I've updated that today) I was doing sports economics back in the early 1990s. Indeed, one of my downfalls in my profession is to be a butterfly, flitting from topic to topic without making a real niche for yourself, and that was me for the first eight or so years after graduate school. Luckily that did not bother the tenure committee!

Anyway, I recall when it started to come together in fall 1988 when I was flipping channels between the Dodgers/A's World Series (the Kirk Gibson limping home run Series) and CNN where there were protests going on throughout eastern Europe. I kept watching this with Mrs. Scholar, who as a new bride dutifully tolerated her husband's monopoly on the remote. (Those were the days!) I remember asking my dissertation advisor, at whose school I was taking a year from SCSU to visit, "how does one undo a state-run economy," and in particular, "how does one undo a monobanking system" where the central bank and the commercial banks are one in the same? Little did I realize that I'd end up making that the focus of the next fifteen years of my research life. Slowly I tossed every other topic aside as being less interesting.

So it's with a little bit of nostalgia that I note today the fall of the Berlin Wall. I agree with Stephen's sentiment: Thanks President Reagan.

Using 9-11 to teach victimology 

Over on FrontPage, Jacob Laksin tells the story of the 9-11 teaching contest operated by Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It sounds like a good idea, to have a contest to build lesson plans to discuss the events of that day,
But if the contest�s eventual winners are any indication, there was yet another, unspoken criterion: the lesson plans had to encourage students in the notion that the terrorist attacks, however horrific, were the direct consequence of an abominably misguided U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East.

Call it Blame America 101. Outspoken leftist activist and fifth grade teacher Bob Peterson, whose plan to teach 9-11 at elementary schools was selected as one of the four winning entries, urges students to consider the attacks �in the broader context of global injustice.� To wrap their young minds around terrorism, Peterson contends, they must first untangle the �tough questions,� such as, �Why do they hate us?� Another winner, Iowa middle school teacher Tracy Paxton, recommends a vocabulary lesson. Among the words she believes shed light on the nature of terrorism are, �Al Qaeda,� �Saddam Hussein,� �stereotype,� �Taliban,� and, ominously, �Right wing.�
Some of the lesson plans can be found here. The high school lesson plan offered has these objectives:


  • Students will learn and understand the principals [sic] of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
  • Students will be able to explain and define the positions they have taken on the use of authority during wartime.
  • Students will be able understand civil liberties and equity and the issues of national security.
At least the college course refers to the terrorists as people who "lash out", though again with some idea that they were provoked by U.S. policy. But the high school lesson uses 9/11 as a means to some other end rather than as an end in itself.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

They should tell me things 

Gary Miller at the Center of the American Experiment has gotten up a blog of Dayton versus Kennedy already (heck, he had it in September!) I only find it because Insty had it. Dude, find a MOB gathering soon -- we're shooting for a December smash. He notes our interview last weekend with Sarah Janacek and beleives it unlikely the Democrats could substitute someone else for Dayton.

Another friend hits the blogs 

Many years ago I met an economist through one of those Usenet newsgroups that are mostly now a legend of the internet. John Palmer and I were not only economists but baseball nuts, and he was living a life I could scarcely imagine, doing radio announcing for the London Tigers in Ontario. We've stayed in contact throughout the time largely by email -- I don't think I've actually seen him at any conference since the ASSA meetings in 1994 or 1995 in Anaheim -- but I still consider him one of my professional friends. This was more true when I was doing more sports economics than I do today.

John writes me today to tell me he has a blog, The Econoclast. He calls my attention to this post on how to develop a measure of the MVP for baseball.

It seems to me that MVP ought to answer the question, "Who contributed the most
revenue to the team?" This criterion, by itself, is probably controversial, since, on the one hand it seems terribly crass in that it relates value to something measured in dollars; and on the other hand, it ignores cost in its definition of value.

In my mind, there is no doubt that Barry Bonds displayed the most "units of playing ability" of anyone in the majors during 2004. But that doesn't necessarily mean he contributed the most to his team's revenue.

... When the Giants came to town (well, not my hometown of Clinton, Ontario [pop. 3200]) or were on tv, people wanted to watch. And so he probably contributed a great deal to his and other teams' revenues.

But put him on a slightly better team, and his contributions would have been worth a great deal more to the SF Giants. His team would probably have made the play-offs and would have had a better chance of advancing to the league play-offs or World Series. So maybe someone else (Beltre? Edmonds?), who is not as good a player as Bonds but who had the good fortune to have better teammates, actually had a larger incremental impact on revenues for their teams.

That emphasis on team production is admirable though very difficult. The good folks at Baseball Prospectus attempt to make such measures through things like Value over Replacement Player to measure what a player contributes over what would be available in the free agent market. Think of all the different places this thought could be used (I'm thinking about college administrators -- yes, VORP could be negative.)

If this kind of thinking interests you, visit John's site, along with Craig Depken at Heavy Lifting (who is currently incensed over stadium issues) or Skip Sauer's The Sports Economist, who is almost as econoclastic as John.

UPDATE (11/10): I wrote to John later in the day about his post:
You're right that there's an implied mapping from runs to wins, from wins to attendance, and from attendance to revenue. There are several places for slippage in that mapping. What if you play at Fenway? The place will sell out for the next five years even if they finish behind the D-Rays for the next four. It reminds me of a paper about 20 years ago in which it is argued that economics implies the best teams (in terms of making efforts to win) will have fickled fans. Is this the source of the Cubs curse?

To which John replied:

What is the [marginal revenue] of an additional win for the cubs? Well, it's greater than zero, considering the expected revenue from the playoffs. But if the sell out and if they get good tv ratings anyway, they have less incentive to hire more talent and win.

That having been said, back in the summers of 66 and 67 when I lived in Chicago, the cubs were often lucky to get as many as 5000 fans at a weekday afternoon game. The team was awful, and baseball was boring.

Your same analysis applies in spades to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They haven't won the Stanley Cup since, when? 1964? I have argued often that this results from hard-headed profit maximizing, and that it would be a sign of bad management (or random luck) if they actually did win something.

I believe actually it was 1967 when the Leafs beat the Canadiens for their last Stanley Cup. But John's the Canadian, so what would I know?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Attention Republican academics! 

Coming on an office door near you soon, if not already:
After the election, one of my colleagues placed a bumper sticker on his office door reading "Lobotomies for Republicans." I always suspected that if wealth resdistribution didn't work, the Left would seek other ways to level the playing field.
So observes Juan Non-Volokh.

Picking a scab 

A friend at the St. Cloud Times tells me that about fifteen people from this university descended on the newspaper's offices to discuss their disappointment in the coverage of the Homecoming Court story. According to my friend, the paper has not been asked to remove pictures from their websites (Ms. Foss, if you are reading, you have some 'splainin' to do.) According to the same faculty minutes I quoted below, these 'faculty senators' wasted an enormous amount of time discussing the issue in Senate one day, going through several motions on a statement of support for the students. Moreover, they placed on the agenda but have not yet discussed a motion to tell the Times it shouldn't allow people to write comments on articles in the Times using pseudonyms. Would you like them to put up addresses with MapQuest links, too?

The Times would like for this story to go away, but I do not think the diversity purveyors of our campus want it to go away. They will continue to use it to make their pseudo-intellectual statements about gender stereotypes. Will anyone blame them for publicizing this act to the point where other harrassing phone calls are received by that student?

UPDATE: As Dave notes, the campus paper has published an article with the student's picture. Am I allowed to link to that, administrators?!?

Can't see the forest for the trees 

Funniest line I ever have seen in Faculty Senate minutes (note, these are not yet approved, but I would insist this be kept in!):

d. Budget Committee Report www.stcloudstate.edu/budget

The committee held a discussion with [assoc. VP for budget] Diana Burlison, and she has agreed to revise her reporting format so deans may easily understand how much money they have.

Ah so that's the problem! I thought the dean was just being cheap.

FIRE has a spiffy new site 

They've integrated the speechcodes.org material into it, so that you can see what speech codes are like on your campus right from the front page. Check it out.

Why is it that IQ is useless until... 

... it proves some point that liberals think about conservatives? I have often used this chart of starting salaries by majors as a recruiting tool to get students to major in economics, and I get much grief from other faculty in the humanities who say "there's more to a university education than getting a high salary." I wonder if I could get a similar chart of majors and IQ? Now that would annoy the humanities profs!

Halt right there 

Margaret gives us a little tongue-lashing.

I listened to the NARN show, while David indulged his favorite post show activity, sleeping.

In the 3rd hour, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. They had on Sarah Janacek, Politics in Minnesota maven. ...

1. Republicans in the House lost because they supported the Governor's holding his pledge not to raise taxes and to not fully fund Local Government Aid. The suburban voter was concerned about School funding, according to this argument. ...

2. Fiscal conservatives... lost.

3. Republicans in the House lost due to opposition to Northstar. ...

I don't mean to be hypercritical of Sarah. She may be many things and several of them are being a contract lobbyist. But NARN guys, stop basking in the glow of the national results. Wake up and smell your wallets burning.

I am still not sure what to think about the last election in the Minnesota House, it seems that there were a lot of factors at play and it is hard to take a single lesson from the result. A referendum against no new taxes? I think not.

I don't think we've gone Keynesian, Margaret, despite letting Sarah have some run on the show. I was not there for the questioning but I did listen to the last 20 minutes on the stream. I agree with Margaret that we don't know why the examples she and Margaret of incumbents losing do in fact lose. I do know the race in 16B because I have met Mark Olson and I know his opponent Jim Huhtala well (he's one of my Saturday breakfast brigade regulars). Olson does a good job of local constituent service; Jim, a retired UPS delivery man, probably knows every business in his district. But Jim's a neophyte; moreover, that district is going to be very conservative by and large, and Jim's an unabashed liberal. Northstar didn't really come into play in that district; had I been on with Janacek and heard this, I would have had to tell her this is incorrect. The votes for President and for MN House in that district were about the same.

There is nothing Keynesian, moreover, with saying that voters respond to pork. There is ample evidence that they do, none more than the fact that politicians keep doing it. That doesn't mean the no-tax pledge of the Taxpayers League is a loser. What every voter wants, ideally, is a conservative that helps hold taxes down at a macro level while still bringing home projects at the micro level. Our own Jim Knoblauch in District 15A, chair of the committee in charge of bonding bills for state projects, ran ads glorifying his bringing home money for the university stadium and bike trails, but he's known as a fiscal conservative who signed the Taxpayers League's pledge. The local newspaper supported his candidacy despite the latter, because they know he can deliver a bill to put into effect the sales tax extension our city just passed. No Keynesian, he.

We understand still that state governments that spend a great deal divert money from more to less useful investment projects. I'm sure there is nobody in NARN who disagrees with that. But converting that economic point into a political one that wins elections isn't all that easy. A tax pledge may work in some skinflint states (like my native New Hampshire, where Mel Thompson's "Ax the Tax" motto won him three terms as governor), but might not in Minnesota. It just means the League has more work to do in convincing the independent voters of the Twin Cities suburbs and outstate that their little bit of pork comes at the expense of paying for bucketloads more in the Cities.

UPDATE: John Fund notes this morning that Democrats made gains in state houses around the U.S., so perhaps we're caught up in a broader trend than just Minnesota.

Gender deconstruction in your college catalog 

On the Taste page of Friday's Wall Street Journal,
Syracuse University students taking a course called "Introduction to Race and Discourse: Hip-Hop Eshu: Queen B@#$H 101" got a big thrill Wednesday when the Queen B@#$H herself (aka rapper Lil' Kim) showed up. The students have been studying what the college catalog describes as "Lil' Kim's 'Queen Bitch' lyricism, her very own work in the musical revolution that is Hip-Hop." Student Jen Hadsell is learning fast. "One person might take it as crude or vulgar," local Channel 10 TV quotes Ms. Hadsell as saying of Lil' Kim's work. But "she's in actuality breaking down a lot of the gender constructions society has for us today."
I wonder how Lil' Kim would look running for Homecoming King? I mean, if you really want to break down some gender constructions, how about running someone as a King B@#$H?

Friday, November 05, 2004

527 redux 

Remember how everyone cried a few months ago about coordination of SwiftVets and someone with a loose connection to the Bush campaign? Think they'll raise any questions about this?

Republicans are criticizing House Minority Leader Matt Entenza for donating $300,000 to a "527" political group which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars turning out young Democratic voters.

State Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner said Thursday that the donation "looks extremely suspicious" and could be a violation of campaign laws that prohibit coordination and earmarking of funds from individuals through 527s and back to campaigns.

Or maybe grief counseling 

The sidebar item on this article perhaps says all you need to know about what we need to do for our Democratic friends:

Election loss like grief for supporters

MANSFIELD -- The 2004 presidential election may be over. But for many, the emotional aftermath will linger for weeks.

"There is a mix of emotions," said Dennis Marikis, a psychologist who oversees IntegriCare EAP Services and Mansfield Psychology Services. "There is a sense of relief. This has been a tense-filled time. But the emotion doesn't dissipate."

Anyone who has put their heart and soul into campaigning, only to lose, may feel anger and frustration, Marikis said.

Many will experience an "if only" attitude. They'll ask themselves if there was anything more than could have been done, he said.

Blake Wagner agreed. Wagner is a clinical psychologist at New Directions Counseling Center. He said supporters of Sen. John Kerry may feel emotions similar to grief.

"Some will be in denial," he said. "Some will be angry."

The stages of grief include denial. The next stage is anger, where they believe the Republicans must have cheated. Then comes depression, where they feel hopeless over the state of the country. Finally, people learn to accept, he said.

"The flip side of anger is helplessness," Wagner said. "The way to help is to take small steps." People should learn coping mechanisms such as increasing exercise or planning a vacation, he said. Also, people may want to take a break from all the election talk in the media.

"The big thing I tell people is to talk about it," Marikis said. "You have to let go of something you put yourself into for the past year."

Marikis believes emotions have been heightened because of the lingering threat of terrorism. The Nov. 2 election brought those emotions to the foreground as Americans were reminded of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Those attacks made people feel vulnerable, he said. He said Kerry and President Bush played on heightened emotions.

"There should be a lesson we learn from this," he said. "This has been the most negative campaign in recent history. What can we learn from this experience? We are not as strong divided. I think the campaign wasn't about the two candidates. It was about security and the economy. I just hope people can work toward letting go."

That is something adults can learn from children.

John Simpson Middle School Principal Ruby Haynes said her children don't seem to change following an election.

"(Kids) just observe what their parents do. Kids will move on," she said.

Blue America: The Therapeutic State.

Every time you try to be nice 

Reader and frequent Scholar contributor Roger Lewis writes in again:

Here in the College of Business, I had hoped for a few more like minded individuals, but Wednesday the folly of that hope was apparent. After Tuesday�s election, many of my colleagues were very dejected, even depressed. I graciously tried to give a couple of them some hope, saying that four years from now, the morning after the election, they can celebrate Hillary�s victory. To no avail - one Despondent Democrat (DD) couldn�t believe how �bigoted, racist, sexist, homophobic, redneck stupid the American public is�. Exit, stage left.

Wednesday afternoon, another DD was in my office commenting on the Red/Blue map of the United States. The reason, DD said, is that the voters in those blue, metropolitan areas live in a diverse culture. They live in the REAL world and support the party that supports diversity - the Democratic Party, of course! I asked if that meant Red America didn�t live in the real world and DD said yes, we�re just ignorant here in Red America. I figure DD must be part of the intelligentsia minority among the unwashed masses here in Red America.

I guess my well of graciousness has been drained. Playing with DD, I said the reason Blue America votes Democratic isn�t because they are smart or diverse, it�s because the Democratic Party steals money from the pockets/food from the mouths of Red America and gives it to the crack addicts/whore mommas living in the urban areas and the more taxes Democrats steal from us �ignorant� Red Americans to give to the urban residents, the more urban residents are going to vote Democratic. Diversity and intelligence have nothing to do with it!

I have to say I've received more email lately, including one outraged reply from one of my aunts who "mistakenly" sent me Alterman's screed. I sent her back Michelle's. You could have taken Elder's advice, which I guess many others did. But some of us are born into families with Democrats, and others of us have to work with them.

I do need to point out a couple of things. The economic redistribution argument is one I remember from graduate school, but looking at the latest figures from the Tax Foundation make it seem not quite true.
�During fiscal 2003, taxpayers in New Mexico benefited the most from the give-and-take with Uncle Sam,� said Moody. New Mexico received $1.99 in federal outlays for every $1.00 the state�s taxpayers sent to Uncle Sam. Other big winners were Alaska ($1.89), Mississippi ($1.83), and West Virginia ($1.82).
All four states, of course, went to Bush. The state at the opposite end of the spectrum is New Jersey, which defied my dark-horse prediction and went to Kerry.

The other thing to point out is that the demographic trends, which I think is where Roger was really thinking, are indeed still moving towards red states and won't stop soon. Take for example this article from Barron's yesterday.

Blue states like Illinois and Pennsylvania are losing population relative to red states like Texas, Florida and Georgia. And people who move to the red states tend to either adopt or bring with them the more conservative attitudes of their new homes.

The power of Democratic strongholds continues to shrink. New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt's home state, once dominated the electoral map, with 45 electoral votes. The Empire State now has 31, trailing California and Texas, and Florida is nipping at its heels.

In the 1960 election, which John F. Kennedy won narrowly against Richard M. Nixon, the northeastern states accounted for 136 electoral votes. On Tuesday they delivered 104 electoral votes to Kerry.

And you can't take too much comfort from California, as it appears growth is slowing. And it gets worse from there:
Senator Kerry, however, won the blue states by generally narrower margins than Gore did in 2000: New York by 18 percentage points, vs. 25 points last time; California, by nine points, vs. 12.
The demographics, in short, are not the whole story. Despite a much weaker Nader protest vote -- weakened in part by the memory of 2000 -- Kerry's winning margins were smaller. That will have to be part of the calculus as the Democrats regroup for '08.

Hopefully by then, they'll be over their anger.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Kick the tires on your education 

Someone on campus points out this website where you can quickly check graduation rates for schools around the country. Here are the data for SCSU:
SAINT CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY - www.stcloudstate.edu St Cloud, Minnesota
Transfer Rate: 33.8%
Graduation Rates
4 Year - 16.4%
5 Year - 35.0%
6 Year - 41.1%
Annual Total Costs Out-of-State: $17,021
Annual Total Costs In-State: $12,362

The four- and five-year rates are much better at Bemidji State, MSU-Mankato and MSU-Moorhead. We are only ahead of Bemidji for six-year graduation rate.

Why am I suspicious of this? 

There were Kids Vote booths at my polling station here in St. Cloud. Question: Is this designed to drive more working mothers to the polls? If so, does that favor one side of the election or another?

Littlest Scholar went with Mrs. and reported she voted for Nader "because I want to be independent". I tried the "but Nader doesn't want you to be independent" line, but to no avail.

Rookies vs. Randy Johnson 

Eugene Volokh reports on a study suggesting that black law students are being sorted by affirmative action into the wrong schools. The findings included in the Chronicle of Higher Education's report (subscribers only, but Volokh has a free link for five days hence):
This is not a surprise, is it?


I may regret taking down the pictures of our Homecoming Queen, because I thought the idea was to not have attention drawn to the student who won. I guess I was mistaken. A notice today:
What: Support the Court Educational Rally
When: Thursday (Today!) November 4 @ 2:01
Where: Atwood Mall
Why: To learn about the larger issues of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia involved in the backlash surrounding the Homecoming Coronation. Also, to celebrate and honor the homecoming royalty!

I'm guessing that transphobia means fear of crossdressing, something I guess I was supposed to feel watching Jamie Farr. The rally is to try to induce President Saigo to send a "national press release" around like the one I discussed last week. I will be shocked if Saigo does not jump on this opportunity to burnish his diversity credentials.

The "backlash" according to the supporters of this travesty continue to say that threats are made, but according to the St. Cloud Police they have not risen to the level of a criminal investigation. The supporters have also opened a kiosk in the student union to educate people "to bring awareness to the campus about the conditions that have fostered the backlash." In other words, to proselityze yet again about GLBT issues. Witness from our student newspaper:

"The most disturbing thing is the phone calls," Hal Kimball, student government president said. "They've died down a little bit, but based on the heels of this election, we'll see what happens, especially when gay marriage and lots of other issues were out there. People are going to have a lot of perceptions about Fue
and about our candidates, so I'm worried about the backlash from that." ...

Kimball said the student government never expected to get the negative response
that came of Khang winning homecoming queen.

"And granted, we probably should have known by looking at the area and the conservative background of this area that there probably would have been more backlash than I would have thought," Kimball said. "Nobody on the senate, nobody at UPB, nobody thought the backlash would be this significant."

Ch'yeah right, dude. If ever there was the voice of the "vision of the anointed" and the contempt they hold for those of other views, this is it.

And the reason you're spinning this so much now, Hal? It's because you're trying to drown out that little voice in the back of your head that keeps saying "Stupid." It's called your conscience.

Tryouts for the City Pages are being held 

...at the University Chronicle. Here's just one example.
America has spoken, and my ears hurt.Not only did George W. Bush retain the presidency of the United States, but both the House and the Senate have now fallen to the wrath of a Republican majority.
Here's another:

Yesterday, I heard the storm sirens being tested on campus. Even though it was a calm, sunny day, the sirens seemed appropriate to me, in fact, the only thing that I've seen or heard today that's felt even remotely appropriate.

A little less than a month ago, someone very close to me died. The weekend of the funeral, nothing was appropriate. Not the jokes that everyone told. Not the kind words that everyone said.

But when someone dies, the most infuriating thing is how the world keeps spinning on its axis, how the universe fails to acknowledge human suffering. Last night, there was a death that affects everyone in our country. And today, I'm finding it hard to dig in my pocket for change at Cub foods, or press down the brake pedal when my car approaches a stop sign. It's hard to do anything but feel loss in a private, non-conveyable sense. And anything that I've done today to try and rationalize or understand it feels wrong, including writing this column.

Going into the final stretch of the election, I was prepared for a failure of the electoral college. I was prepared for voter fraud and a race decided in the courts by illegal partisan efforts. I wasn't prepared, however, to hear that a majority of Americans would vote to re-elect George W. Bush. Because in the last few months, I'd started to believe that the fear and the lies were all laid bare, that there was absolutely no question that the president is running an illegal democracy with the intent of leveraging unilateral military force on the entire world.

A bunch of Alterman wannabes. Of course they're unprepared, because they would not ever have heard anything different in their classes, in their dorms or in their dining hall or apartment.

Of course they leave here one day, and sometimes they realize the world doesn't spin around their axis.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Before head hits pillow... 

I suppose I owe a post here. It's been a dizzying 36 hours, between some activities at work, grading and watching over some seniors beginning to take their first steps away from the classroom to implementing what they know, to the broadcast last night, to a wonderful church worship and praise band practice tonight that I really wanted to skip for sleep (3 in the last 40) but am so glad I didn't. Since this is a log, I want to log a few observations today before I finally cashier consciousness.
  1. Mitch had mentioned he always wanted to do an election night broadcast. I hadn't ever really thought about it -- I had been in a college radio station relaying the 1978 Sox-Yankee playoff game in my first three months on the air, and what could have topped that except Yaz scoring Burleson from third in the ninth? -- but the experience of processing information on short notice and analyzing numbers and trying to talk about them on the fly was intoxicating. I know that will sound weird, but some of us are wired that way. I hope that somehow I get to do this again. It was also a night sitting between Scott the Big Trunk and Captain Ed, Mitch in front of me and Chumley behind. You could not have asked for a better group to watch the returns with.
  2. Someone asked me how I could leave at 1:30am. At that point I thought we were going off at 2, and I was pretty sure nothing was happening in the last half-hour, and I thought I'd just get a jump. I'm not even to Mall of America when Hugh says he's staying on for an extra hour. (Side note: Hugh and Duane, please play more John Hiatt! Horribly underappreciated artist.) I thought about turning around, thinking Hugh knew something I didn't, but I was sure that was not right so I kept on going. When I lost the signal for the Patriot west of Monticello I switched to MPR. My God, people listen to that? Not good for a guy driving at 2:45am. Popped in the mix disc, up comes Dirty Water. Good karma.
  3. Slept three hours, dropped Littlest Scholar at school, went to the bagel shop. It's a mixed group, and while I thought it was over and Bush had won, it wasn't respectful for Republicans to gloat, and unfortunately I saw some of that. A couple of cross words were exchanged. Another true believer DFL partisan wrote me later that morning when I noted how gracious Kerry was in conceding, and she wasn't of a mood for it. I wrote this back to her:

It's hard to lose a campaign. I lost the first one I worked on back in 1978 for a congressional candidate (yes, a Republican, back in NH.) I think whichever party loses a race that close and that heated takes a long, hard look at itself and remakes itself better. I don't think the Democrats took that look after Gore because they thought they had won that election and just had to get the vote out. I think now they will do that. The question really is whether or not the Republicans will learn from the weaknesses exposed during this campaign, on taxes and on the Patriot Act for example. (I will disagree with you on the environment and health care -- I think on those the Republicans hold winning positions.) I actually think that if the Democrats would take people like {} -- a fiscal conservative and social liberal -- and make them marketable to the Michael Moores and Howard Deans of your party, you hold a winning hand in 2008. You also need to take seriously your muscular foreign policy members like Joe Lieberman or even Joe Biden. Just as Republicans have marginalized smart guys like Jack Kemp and Steve Forbes, your party has also marginalized some people who need to be heard, taken seriously, and integrated into your party's core principles.

Good luck, and I mean that: Our country deserves no less.

Some of this is my libertarian streak, but more of it is my belief that political competition makes for better ideas. Hugh mentioned tonight: this is not time to put salt in the wounds of the Left, but a time to encourage them to think again and respond to them. (Hugh mentioned Scoop Jackson, something I've been saying for years.) We should listen, not to sacrifice priniciples, but to hear how someone who doesn't think like you solves problems. Once in a while, you learn something.

4. And as David Strom notes tonight, Republicans have some learning to do, here in Minnesota. I saw two things that led the Republicans to lose here: the DFL did a great job suffocating the Nader campaign here and getting those voters to the polls for Kerry; and that local Republicans here have not supported the same tax-cutting principles that I believe helped the national ticket.

OK, there might be more to this or not, but it's 10:30 now and I have absolutely got to get some sleep. Back to more education and economics starting tomorrow. Promise.

P.S. Maybe much of points 3 and 4 are summed up by Jane's Law.

Morning off 

Got home from the studio at 3am, and am up now to grade some papers for my seminar students due back to them today. I won't post anything until that's done and I get a nap. Check back later, please.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What to expect 

I'm having trouble with several Hosting Matters sites, which could be load or DNS attacks or who knows. Anyway, I'll be leaving STC around 5pm for the station, and while I won't liveblog like Ed -- as a data guy, I'll be copying and recording returns as best I can -- I will post materials when I get a chance and have something useful to say.

Read Hugh. In economics we often talk about the signal-to-noise ratio in prices. Same's true with polls. If you don't want people to know what they say, you generate loads of noise and disrupt signals wherever you can. My suspicion is, that's what's going on right now. Who would be interested in lowering signal-to-noise? And why?

Exhale. Breathe in, let your face smile. Exhale again. Now go get your friends to vote -- that's the only action that matters between now and tonight.

The 411 for tonight 

As Mitch has already mentioned, we're doing the live break-ins from the Patriot during Salem's national coverage. It's more or less on the quarter-hours, with a longer segment at the top. I'll probably not stay to 3am, as I still have to work tomorrow, but I will hang in past midnight certainly.

Mitch is also creating a chat area for live news. If you have it, send it to us and to Rocket at PowerLine, who will be tripping the light fantastic at NBC.

Move off! 

I drove by a polling place in St. Cloud this morning. There was a MoveOn table set up in the median strip between the sidewalk and the street facing the entrance, but likely more than the required 100 feet away. The building is a former elementary school now owned by a religious organization. I'm driving by there this PM and if he's still there, he gets an economist in his grill.

Chumley reports that similar set-ups are happening around Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Voting no class act 

I'm voting a little later today so that my son, who attends a technical college here learning to be a chef, can go with me and be vouched for by someone with real personal knowledge. I don't give students time off like Penn does, as Steven Taylor notes.
Today is a grad seminar, so nothing due but reading. Still, people work real jobs and manage to vote, so why do students, who are likely in class an average max of 3 hours in a given day, need a lightened load so they can vote? What, there are spending so much time trying to figure out who to vote for they can�t study for an exam?
Many "I voted" stickers at the bagel shop this morning, including one Republican gentleman who wears a suit to the polls as a sign of respect. Minnesota law does require that other than regularly scheduled classes, no activity can be scheduled at a state university between 6-8pm on election day.

At least we haven't seen emails like this on campus, yet.
Dear Professors,
If you have a minute in class today or tomorrow, it would be extremely helpful if you could remind students to vote tomorrow. There is a lot of misinformation floating around campus intending to intimidate students who are planning to vote in New Hampshire. Students have the right to vote either at home or where they go to school. All the polls show NH deadlocked, and we're going to need every student's vote in order to win this election.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Since everyone else is predicting: 

When I put my picks in the pools I play in, I had NJ, NH, and NM going for Bush, getting us to 321, a little less than I gave Bush against a generic Democrat in January when NARN first formed under the aegis of the commissioner. I punted on NJ on the last pool due to the lack of follow-through of campaigning in NJ by Bush. I've backed off this iteration based on some email and calls to friends in NH, , and just a gut feel that Richardson is going to tip NM to Kerry. It won't matter, as the final result is still 297-241 Bush. The Democrats will have to litigate two big states -- Ohio and Florida, most likely -- to reverse this, and I don't think they will be able to do that.

Says more about my profession than the election 

A survey from Case Western Reserve suggests that economists don't like Bush's economic policies.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents thought Bush's series of tax cuts, championed by the administration as the right solution to a sluggish U.S. economy, were poorly designed to provide fiscal stimulus.

"The results were striking," Votruba said. "It was clear that the majority of surveyed economics experts in the top collegiate economics departments believe the president's policies are not what the nation needs."

...Survey respondents consisted of 319 economics faculty in the top 30 U.S. economics departments.

All you need to know from the survey is:

Question: With which political party are you affiliated? (n=227)
Republican 4.9%
Democratic 58.2%
Other 2.2%
Independent 34.8%
30 top econ departments, 5% Republican. 'Nuff said.

(Hat tip: Ken Rebeck.)

UPDATE: Omigod, not the press too? (Courtesy Instapundit.)

Game to go overtime? 

I don't often delve into international affairs and the politics of terrorism -- there are far too many blogs with writers more knowledgeable, including most of NARN -- but I think some people are going to overlook an intelligent point Craig Westover makes today. Regarding the diatribe/no-detonate behavior of bin Laden, Craig observes:

There was a lot of speculation that there�d be a terrorist attack before the election, which hasn�t occurred with a day to go. We, and I number myself among the �we,� have credited the President�s policies, which I still believe are the best available course. But think about it. What would have a more powerful effect if you were Bin Laden. An attack before the election or after?

An attack on U.S. soil after the election creates instant buyer�s remorse on the electorate and deepens the divide of the American people. If Bush wins, an attack �proves� his policies have failed to keep us safe. If Kerry wins, an attack �proves� the terrorist have been emboldened by Kerry�s weakness. In either case, an attack virtually ensures four more years of division and partisanship. Even for a new President Kerry, there�d be no unifying spirit that Bush experienced.

I was trying to sketch this out in game-theoretic terms. Suppose OBL/AQ have one attack on U.S. soil that is still undetected and with a high chance of success. The nature of the attack is unimportant, but suppose it would be of similar magnitude to the Spanish attacks. The only decision available is timing of the attack: before or after the election? And of course there are two outcomes, Bush and Kerry. Think in terms of payoffs A, B, C, and D.

Many assume that Kerry is Osama's candidate. The Spanish story says that to get that outcome you should attack before. But we should recall that the Aznar government appeared to be rolling to victory before the attacks. AQ may have seen it plausible to tip the election by the attacks before the election and did so, but only because pressure from the attack could change many votes. Suppose, however, that you could not predict in the U.S. whether or not an attack before the election would move voters towards Bush (out of spite, or out of perceived Kerry weakness) or towards Kerry (out of a sense that Bush had failed.) Suppose as well -- as many believe, but not me -- that the electoral outcome is close. You thus need to meet three conditions to make A or B the most desired outcome:
  1. You know which way voters will move;
  2. Votes are responsive or elastic to terrorism on U.S. soil; and
  3. Without your attack, your less-preferred candidate will win.
I think that amplifies the reasons Craig discusses for why the post-election attack may make more sense.

And he'll teach you 

Bryan Saint Paul Ward is an election judge supervisor, and has been handing out good advice to the partisan vigilantes of both parties who want to watch for electoral fraud in Minnesota. News reporters are specifically instructed, lest we go all Palm Beach on them.

That'll teach 'em 

Stephen observes the need for more economic education:
One of the speakers worked for a while at Goodwill Industries. He asked some of the new workers there why they had left their last job. All too often, they accused their employer of cheating. Why? "I was promised $6 an hour, I put in my 40 hours, my check was not for $240." There is this little thing called the tax code ...
My son came home this weekend complaining of how he only got to keep $290 of a $350 paycheck. "I know who I'm voting for." Good boy!

Their schools are like ours 

An ex-pat teaching at Oxbridge writes of his experiences with anti-Semitism:

I have been shocked to discover that anti-American sentiment -- clearly intensified by the Iraq war -- is often laced with the kind of subtle, dinner-party anti-Semitism that once pervaded Ivy League universities at home, and that hostility toward Israel, the United States, and Jews -- across space and time -- often get jumbled into one general argument.

Even in polite conversation one is apt to hear smart people speculating about the pervasive influence that Jews exercise over the American media and foreign-policy

I am pleased to report, however, that I've heard more of this from adults than from students. Perhaps the younger generation shares a broader outlook, rooted in a more cosmopolitan university culture. Or maybe we're just teaching them well.

All of that makes it dicey, at times, to be teaching abroad.

It can be dicier than that, even here.

Alumna blog 

Liz, who gave us this story a few weeks back, has been bit by the blogging bug. Say hello to Blonde Moment. She is one of my favorite ex-students. She will be blogging the election night coverage, and listening to NARN's coverage on the Patriot.

Minnesota snapshot 

Courtesy of pollster and colleague Steve Frank of the SCSU Survey, here are the latest poll results:

Monday morning update

Pollster Polling Date Bush Kerry Nader MoE
Zogby ($) October 31 46.8% 49.4% --- 4.1%
Gallup October 30 44.0% 52.0% 1.0% 3.0%
Rasmussen ($) October 30 48.0% 47.0% --- ??
Minnesota Poll October 29 41.0% 49.0% 1.0% 3.1%
Mason-Dixon October 29 48.0% 47.0% --- 4.0%
Strategic Vision ($, GOP)
October 26 49.0% 47.0% 1.0% 3.0%
Humphrey Institute
October 26 47.0% 44.0% 5.0% 4.0%
St. Cloud State Univ.
October 26 42.0% 49.0% --- 4.5%

Steve dropped me a few notes over the last several days after his poll came out, and the gist of them was that "polls don't predict". That is, they're a snapshot of what the electorate was thinking at a particular time, not whether or not that will be the outcome on election day. Still, Steve Landsberg, guesting at Marginal Revolution, notes that the fascination with margins of error still belies the fact that a lead is a lead is a lead. Also at MR, Tyler Cowen wonders whether undecideds might not all jump one way, and if so why. For those of us educated in public choice, as Prof. Cowen is, it's a fascinating thought.

My map later today.

Ukraine update 

According to a private list I read, the first round of the Ukrainian presidential elections has ended up roughly tied between Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko. According to that report, the anaonymous exit polls had Yushchenko up 44-38 and the open polls (where the respondent was identified by name to the pollster, who was working for Yanukovych) had Yanukovych up 43-39. Public reports put Yanukovuych currently up between 1-4% depending on which count they've taken as official.

The question now is what happens to the other 15-18% voting for minor candidates. Only one has indicated he may support Yushchenko, but even if the 3rd and 5th place finishers were to throw to Yanukovych, that would not necessarily get him to 50%. It seems likely that whatever the outcome, it will be within the margin for fraud.

Mrs. Scholar sends me a funny quote 

Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung. --Voltaire

I assume this is about Springsteen?