Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

"One good spy is worth 10,000 soldiers." - Sun Tzu

By Aussiegirl

While I attempt to download some brain cells into my depleted brain, and until the download is complete, chew on this for a while. Now, what was that that we learned from Mr. Meyer about using regular people for espionage? Looks like the Chinese have learned the lesson -- while our people rearrange the deck chairs on the intelligence Titanic in a pyramidal, assymetric and geometrically complex arrangement, guaranteed to withstand a collision with even the largest iceberg.

Frontpagemag.com has the story:

Islamic terrorism is still the greatest threat to our national security, but Chinese espionage against the United States is gaining ground. The FBI says China will be America's greatest counterintelligence problem during the next 10-15 years.

China's goal is to replace the U.S. as the preeminent power in the Pacific - even globally. It's using every method possible, including espionage, to improve its political, economic and, especially, military might.

. . . Naturally, America's hi-tech centers are a potential gold mine for Chinese spies. The FBI claims that Chinese espionage cases are rising 20 to 30 percent every year in Silicon Valley alone.

But don't think James Bond. It's all much more methodical - and mundane.

Chinese intelligence collection uses numerous low-level spies to painstakingly collect one small piece of information at a time until the intelligence question is answered. Kind of like building a beach one grain of sand at a time.

. . . China also doesn't rely on "professional" spies stationed overseas to the extent other major intel services do. Instead, it uses low-profile civilians to collect information.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Let us stop -- and remember

Memorial Day

By BonnieBlueFlag

Michael Bates has captured some basic truths in the following column that I wanted to share with you all. I plan to observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 o'clock p.m., with a special prayer for all of those who have given their lives for my freedom, I hope you will too.


Remembering the meaning of Memorial Day

By Michael M. Bates
Thursday, May 26, 2005

What does Memorial Day stand for? A day off? The start of summer? Parades and picnics? The opening of public swimming pools? You can "finally!" start wearing white shoes again?

If public opinion surveys are accurate, most Americans don't know much about Memorial Day's purpose or history. That's a pity because it removes an important bond with those brave men, and women, who have given their lives in our Nation's service.

Decorating the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers took place in several states during that catastrophic conflict. Shortly after the war, General John A. Logan, who headed an organization of Union veterans called the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a general order designating a day:
". . . for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land."

During the first observance of what was then termed Decoration Day, the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington were adorned with flowers as the thousands of participants said prayers and sang hymns.

Southern states weren't quick to embrace Decoration Day. Perhaps the people there couldn't cotton to an observance at least partially established by Union veterans.
Certainly General Logan's citing of "the late rebellion" had to have been a problem. Many Southerners didn't see the confrontation as a rebellion.

They viewed it, as some still do, as the war of Northern aggression or the war for Southern independence or maybe the war between equal and sovereign states or something like that. If they, rather than the Yankees, had prevailed and written the history of the struggle, maybe that's how we'd characterize it today.
So several Southern states set aside their own days to honor the Confederate dead. Confederate Decoration Day, for example, is still celebrated each June 3rd in Tennessee.

After World War I, the national Decoration Day became Memorial Day. The commemoration was expanded to include those who died in all U.S. wars.

This made the observance more acceptable in the South. Most states, in accordance with federal law, officially celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.

Three-day weekends are, in theory at least, OK, but I have to think that they erode a holiday's significance. In 1968, Congress debated the wisdom of moving several public holidays to Monday.

Writer Bill Kaufmann in The American Enterprise Online quotes a Tennessee congressman at the time as saying, "If we do this, 10 years from now our schoolchildren will not know what February 22 means. They will not know or care when George Washington was born. They will know that in the middle of February they will have a three-day weekend for some reason. This will come."

It has. And similarly Memorial Day, like other celebrations uprooted from their fixed dates, has lost much of its import for many of us fortunate enough to live in this blessed land.

That's not the only reason, of course. Lots of folks prefer to keep suffering and death out of their thoughts as much as possible. It's more fun concentrating on the start of summer or picnics or something else.

More than a million American fighting men and women have given, as Lincoln termed it at Gettysburg, the last full measure of devotion. Their valor and sacrifice made possible our freedoms, our values, our very existence.

Memorial Day should be a time of solemn reflection on some of the most sacred of human ideals: Faith, family, duty, commitment, heroism and honor. We are so profoundly indebted to all those soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen who have given their lives defending us.

A few years ago Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. It asked Americans to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. local time and think about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
It may seem like a small gesture, but it’s a way to, however briefly, keep faith with those heroes and maintain a tradition worth keeping.

This appears in the May 26, 2005 Oak Lawn (IL) Reporter. Mike Bates is the author of Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths.

Michael Bates Official Website

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Castro's "Mega-me"

By Aussiegirl

"George W. Bush is a jerk. His administration is a mafia of assassins." Now, when you read words like this you automatically assume that you are listening to the latest pronouncements of Mr. Sobersides himself, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. Guess again -- it's Castro's "Mega-me" in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and furthermore, Mr. Chavez says that Condoleeza Rice dreams of him at night. (She may be having nightmares after she reads this.)

While there has often been a bizarrely comic element to evil men throughout history, the stark truth remains that behind all that ludicrously clownish bluster lie hearts of stone with mad and evil intentions which usually end in human misery, persecution and death -- not to mention war and pestilence.

Chavez is just one more danger lurking out there on the horizon. With petrodollars to burn, and Castro as his mentor, Chavez is sticking his thumbs into lots of dangerous pies and pulling out all sorts of nasty surprises for the U.S.

Hugo Chavez, another beacon of freedom brought to you courtesy of that great purveyor of peace himself, Mr. Jimmy Carter, who hustled to Venezuela to hastily pronounce the latest referendum on Chavez as fair and free, before all the votes had been completely counted, and in spite of legitimate questions by other election observers. (Thank goodness he didn't lend his imprimature to the first Ukrainian election.) When you add the betrayal of the Shah and the return of the mullahs along with the giving away of the Panama Canal to Mr. Carter's Nobelian achievements, you can see why he is lionized in Europe and on the left.

But back to Chavez. I would hope that the U.S. officials have done more than "begun to suspect" this maniac's intentions. He has gone to very few pains to hide his animosity to the United States and has openly courted America's enemies, China, Russia, naroterrorists and even reportedly given aid and comfort to Islamoterrorists. Let's get on the ball here.

Where's gunboat diplomacy and the Monroe Doctrine when you really need it?

Times Online has the story:

Chavez, 50, is rapidly becoming a US nightmare in Latin America. He aroused further American anger last week by threatening to form a nuclear alliance with Iran. The prospect of two hostile, oil-rich governments working together against US interests has shocked Washington and plunged relations with Venezuela to a dangerous new low.

US officials have begun to suspect that Chavez is plotting to become the "new Castro" � the leading voice in the region of leftist anti-Americanism.

. . . "We want to initiate nuclear research and ask for help from countries like Iran," he said.

While US officials have dismissed some of Chavez's threats as bluster, intelligence sources are concerned about claims that he has given alleged terrorists Venezuelan passports.

French say -- EU? -- PU!

By Aussiegirl

By an overwhelming majority, the French voters have delivered a resounding "non" to the EU Constitution at the polls. Voters on the left and the right had differing reasons for rejecting the unwieldy Constitution which ran to over 500 pages, but were united in their opposition to it.
Looks like it's back to the drawing board for the Eurocrats. This monstrosity of a Constitution was a nightmare of statism and bureaucratic meddling in the everyday affairs of sovereign nation states. Let's hope they have a good think on this and come up with a better solution.

The Washington Post has the details:

PARIS -- French voters rejected the European Union's first constitution Sunday, a stinging repudiation of President Jacques Chirac's leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.

With 92 percent of votes counted, the treaty was rejected by 56.14 percent of voters, the Interior Ministry said. It was supported by 43.86 percent.

"There is no more constitution," leading opponent Philippe de Villiers said. "It is necessary to reconstruct Europe on other foundations that don't currently exist."

Saturday, May 28, 2005

First Mexifornia -- then MexAmerica

By Aussiegirl

Newsmax.com carries the following from Mexico's EL UNIVERSAL ONLINE -- whose roots is he talking about?:

LA Mayor: Mexico Will Shape My Policies

Los Angeles mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa said Wednesday that Mexico will play an important role in shaping his policies, reports Mexico's EL UNIVERSAL Online.

"We are starting a new era. Instead of closing the borders, as stated by Schwarzenegger, we should look at our border as an opportunity," Villaraigosa said.

"This is a time of great importance, not just for us to rediscover our roots, but looking to create a mutually beneficial relationship," added the city's first Latino mayor since 1872.

The top L.A. Democrat lamented that the recent passage by Congress of The Real ID Act would prevent illegal aliens from getting driver's licenses if signed into law.

"Politicians in the United States need to understand that immigrants come here for the same reason that immigrants have always come: To work," Villaraigosa told EL UNIVERSAL. "Instead of punishing and demonizing them, we should try to integrate them."


By Aussiegirl

Rich Lowry, writing in today's NY Post, outlines amnesty legislation being proposed by the ubiquitous Sen. McCain and the always fulminating Sen. Kennedy.

But be sure to read the kicker at the end of the article -- which makes me suspect that this bill is actually supported by the President. Why am I getting the uncomfortable feeling that our president is actually working with McCain on all these latest moves he has taken? Is McCain doing President Bush's dirty work, so that the Bush administration can still lay claim to a conservative agenda, while actively pursuing a much more liberal line?

The inaction on the border issue is just one such dangerous indication. No wonder conservatives are beginning to feel ill at ease in the Republican party they thought they knew, and with a president they thought they could trust. So far President Bush has been "spending his political capital" more at the expense of conservatives than liberals.

Perhaps this is what he meant all along when he called himself a "compassionate conservative". I guess that makes me "uncompassionate" -- so be it. Without borders we have no security and no country -- and no safety from terror attacks -- regardless of the exploits in Iraq.

There obviously will be no trouble on the border with Mexico if we simply all become one big happy country. Maybe this is what they call "a problem solved."

Under the bill, illegals would have to work in the U.S. which they are already doing, for six years as legal temporary workers, then they would be eligible to apply for green cards. Also, a new category of guest worker would be created who would work here for four years, then be eligible for green cards. This category will likely bring another 400,000 (and probably more) foreign workers a year into the country.

McCain and Kennedy argue that their legislation isn't an amnesty because illegals have to pay a $1,000 fine prior to becoming temporary workers and another $1,000 before getting their green cards. But an amnesty with a small fine is still amnesty.

Mark Krikorian of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies calls the fine, in effect, "a retroactive smuggling fee paid to the U.S. government." The bill could make illegals stand on one foot and wave their arms before becoming legal - but it would still be an amnesty.

And here's the kicker:

The legislation stipulates that it doesn't grant state and local police any more authority to enforce immigration laws, but it goes out of its way to include language about securing Mexico's border with Guatemala. This bizarre concern reflects a concept bandied about by the Bush administration as well called the "North American security perimeter."

It holds that we can all be one happy North American family, and the U.S.-Mexico border won't matter so much, if only we can keep those pesky Central Americans out of Mexico.

Of course, we should keep our focus about 1,600 miles north of the Mexico-Guatemala line, at our own border. The first step is defeating McCain-Kennedy.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Iran is already nuclear -- Bush stunned

By Aussiegirl

Jihad Watch has the following report. Frankly, I'm stunned that the President is stunned (hat tip to Tim Birdnow at Birdblog:

Talks on Uranium Enrichment a Ruse. Sources say Bush stunned by news of N.Korea transfer. From WND, "Intel: Iran equipped for atomic weapon," with thanks to PC Kills.

While European negotiators focus on Iran's development of enriched plutonium, U.S. intelligence officials say Tehran already has completed all of the elements required for an atomic bomb.

The news has stunned President Bush, according to Geostrategy Direct, an intelligence news service led by national security reporter Bill Gertz of the Washington Times.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Spooks R us -- or bureaucrats are us?

By Aussiegirl

Herbert Meyer has an eye-opening and sober assessment of the current (sorry) state of our intelligence services, and the continuing outlook for little imrovement in the coming years, due primarily to the emphasis on structure as opposed to talent and innovation. He tells a fascinating tale of how the OSS was quickly organized and molded into a brilliant intelligence service which in many cases, performed almost impossible feats, utilizing talented people from all walks of life, but who shared a number of unique talents and characteristics. He also runs through a daunting list of looming international dangers facing the U.S., including an expanding China, growing leftism in Latin America, and on and on. This is another must read from today's American Thinker.

Read more:

If your objective were to place a beacon atop a mountain, would you:

A: Get a beacon and place it atop the mountain, or
B: Get a beacon, suspend it in mid-air near the mountain using poles, wires and helicopters, then shove the mountain under the beacon?

If you chose Option A, you should consider a career in the private sector, where common sense often is rewarded.� If you chose Option B � your future lies in Washington.� For this is precisely the approach the Bush administration and Congress have taken to fix our country's broken intelligence service and get it back into action.� And no, I am not exaggerating.

. . .Instead, after two presidential commissions and a half-dozen Congressional inquiries, the Administration and Congress decided to create a new position of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), to sit on top of the DCI.� He will be supported by a Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and an associate director who will serve as chief-of-staff.� But since the new DNI and his two aides would be suspended in mid-air, so to speak, several positions that had been in the DCI's office have now been shifted to the DNI's office.�� These include a Deputy Director for Management, another Deputy Director for Collection, a third for Analysis, and a fourth to be in charge of "customer service."�

. . . Putting aside the sheer fecklessness of all this reorganizing � and the cost, time and energy it drains from the business of actually doing intelligence -- the real problem is that by focusing on structure rather than on people, we are building a new intelligence service that won't be better than the one it replaces.� That's because it emphasizes management over talent.� Once you grasp how this combination works, you will understand why our country's intelligence service has sometimes been razor-sharp and playing offense, and other times has just stumbled along behind the curve.

. . . Judging from all the telephone calls and emails flying around right now among intelligence veterans, the mood is one of disappointment and genuine concern.�� A common thread in all these conversations is that � alas -- it will take another horrific attack before the political will is there to create the kind of light, fast, razor-sharp intelligence service we used to have and now need.� Perhaps.� Or perhaps Washington has become so muscle-bound and partisan that even should Dallas, Chicago or another of our great cities become a pile of radioactive rubble its only response will be yet another Presidential commission which probably will conclude once again that "structure" was the problem -- and will recommend that we create a Director of Inter-Galactic Intelligence, to sit atop the Director of National Intelligence, who sits atop the Director of Central Intelligence.

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council.� His DVD on The Siege of Western Civilization� has become an international best-seller.

"Extraordinary circumstances" in Washington

By Aussiegirl

In a must read column, today's
Wall Street Journal exposes the sham that has been perpetrated by the 14 so-called "moderates" in crafting their "compromise" on judicial nominations, and rightly pegs the motivation as being one of shielding themselves from having to cast politically awkward and public votes in a showdown over the filibuster, rather than the much ballyhooed "saving of the Republic".

Further, the Journal makes an excellent point that in crafting the vague language of "extraordinary circumstances" for triggering a filibuster, the "compromise" has opened the door to more bloody and dirty "Borkings" of future Supreme Court nominees, as opponents will dig deeper and deeper into the backgrounds of potential nominees in order to justify the "extraordinary circumstance.

Let's just say it one more time so it's clear. Until a few years ago a filibuster had never been used as a means of defeating a judicial nominee. The filibuster is generally a tool for defeating or holding up legislation. By employing the filibuster, the Democrats have in effect, changed the Constitution by requiring a 60 vote super majority for judicial nominations.

The so-called "nuclear option", would only have eliminated the filibuster as applied to judicial nominations, in essence, returning the situation to the "status quo ante", the situation which had existed for all of history prior to a few years ago.

The "nuclear option" would NOT apply to the filibuster as an option to be used to block or defeat legislation.

The Republican party, AGAIN, has lost the spin battle on this issue, by not even engaging it. There seems to be no coordinated Republican message machine to counter all the lies routinely generated between the media and the constant spin of the Democrats.

You have to give them credit, by sticking together, and by fighting like back street fighters, the Democrats have figured out a way to get their way even with the pathetic numbers that they now hold in the Congress.

Meanwhile Republicans seem to have mastered the fine art of acting like losers when they hold all the cards. Until someone in the Republican party (and so far the President has not stepped forward in the manner of Ronald Reagan to push the Congress to do his and the people's bidding) steps up to the plate and starts whipping the votes into line, we will have not a majority party, but disparate groups and cabals of self-promoting and cowering cowards running for cover at every opportunity to take a stand. It's a sorry sight for conservatives who believed that finally we would see some real conservative governance from Washington.

Let's face it -- there is a vaccuum of leadership in this party -- from the President on down. Where are the Reagans? Where are the Gingriches of our time? Seeking comity and hiding behind their press secretaries it seems, while the nation implodes, and the base and the people seeth. What a sorry sight.

Judging by all of the self-congratulation, you'd think the 14 Senators who reached a deal Monday on judicial nominations were the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers. "We have kept the Republic," declared Democrat Robert Byrd, with all due modesty. "The Senate won" and "the country won," added Republican John McCain. All 14 are apparently destined for Mount Rushmore, as soon as Mr. Byrd can stuff the money for the sculpture into an appropriations bill.

What a charade. This ballyhooed "compromise" is all about saving the Senators themselves, not the Constitution. Its main point is to shield the group of 14 from the consequences of having to cast difficult, public votes in a filibuster showdown. Thus they split the baby on the most pressing nominees, giving three of them a vote while rejecting two others on what seem to be entirely arbitrary grounds, so Members of both parties can claim victory. Far better to cashier nominees as a bipartisan phalanx, rather than face up to their individual "advice and consent" responsibilities.

. . . As for the future, the deal's impact hangs on the exquisite ambiguity of the phrase "extraordinary circumstances." The seven Democrats promise to filibuster only if a nomination reaches that threshold, which will of course be in the eye of every beholder. Taken at face value, and if the Democrats mean what they say, this should rule out a filibuster against anyone but a crook or incompetent. The political costs of opposing a Supreme Court nominee are also higher than for an appeals-court judge because the country is paying closer attention. Thus a filibuster will not be easy for Red State Democrats to support.

. . .The President is granted the power to nominate judges under the Constitution because he is the only official elected by the entire nation. He shouldn't cede that authority to 14 Senators in desperate search of political cover.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Need a friendly face? BonnieBlueFlag provides much needed relief

By BonnieBlueFlag

China's Giant Panda Has A Link
To Our American Raccoon

You may have seen today's picture of Futa, the Lesser Panda, that appeared via Yahoo's slide show photographs. Futa lives in the Chiba Zoological Park near Tokyo, Japan. Futa's picture was very cute, but, I think you will enjoy Ron Ron (below) even more.

Nine-year-old Ron Ron lives in the Asa Zoological Park in Hiroshima, Japan.
However, both pictures were a little deceptive in showing the size of the Lesser Panda, also known as the Red Panda; because, while you are thinking of his relative the more well known Giant Panda (approximately 400 pounds), the Lesser Panda (weighing less than 20 pounds) is also closely related to the Raccoon.

(National Zoo)

While it is doubtful that any of us will ever see a Giant Panda in our back yard, many of us are familiar with the antics of a Raccoon, and have first hand knowledge of their inquisitive nature.

One summer we came home after being away for a while to find little black raccoon paw prints everywhere. They were especially noticeable on a white chenille bedspread. We followed the prints back to a fireplace that he had used to gain entry on multiple occasions. It was the soot from a two story chimney that had given him away.

(North American Raccoon)

(The Red Panda)

The Lesser Panda is native to countries like China, India, Laos and Nepal. However, we are fortunate to have the Knoxville, Tennessee Zoo, where the number of Red Pandas born is second only world wide to a zoo in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

(Photo by Betty Wasserman)

Knoxville Zoo, Knoxville, TN by: BonnieBlueFlag

Terror from the skies -- falling onto my house

By Aussiegirl

Oh great!! Not only has our senate been taken over by the seven living dead (read the Zombie Seven) Republicans (they walk, they talk, but they are simply soulless corpses revivified by democrats to stand in the limelight of television cameras and spout the requisite malarkey about "preserving years of senate tradition and comity, etc. etc. etc") -- but now -- the gang who couldn't shoot straight -- otherwise known as the Department of Homeland Security -- has decided that maybe, just maybe -- they would like the have authority to SHOOT DOWN!!! civilian aircraft which stray into protected airspace over Washington. That's SHOOT DOWN -- as in -- over MY HOUSE!! -- or someone else's house -- only to find out what -- ooops -- it was all a mistake.

Yesterday afternoon (AGAIN) I heard jets scrambling and zooming over my suburban Washington home. Here's me anxiously scanning the skies thinking -- I hope they don't shoot this hapless fool out of the sky right over my house -- I just got it clean for the first time in ages -- and my tomatoes are just starting to show signs of life after a cold start to the growing season. (Where's global warming when you really need it?)

And now here's this article about the two pilots who strayed into our airspace -- and how close they both came to being shot down.

Meanwhile, not that I like to stand between a man and his mountain bike, but do you think the Secret Service could have thought enough of the president -- much less the country -- to bother to inform him that our planes were getting ready to shoot down an unarmed civilian aircraft over the peaceful skies of Washington, thereby inflicting certain casualties - in the air and on the ground? You don't have to be a democrat to find this profoundly disturbing.

The bad news here is that the pilot of the first plane was instructed to turn his radio to a military frequency WHICH WAS NOT WORKING at the time -- so -- they would have possibly shot down this incompetent fool after having given him incorrect orders. How can we entrust these Keystone Kops who can't even be bothered to get their frequencies right (what's the frequency, Kenneth?) with the decision making responsibility to shoot down planes without either military or political approval.

Meanwhile -- I hope the president enjoyed his bike ride through a nearby Washington wooded area -- perhaps they might make sure that at least the debris of the blown up plane doesn't land on the president's bike.
Beyond my ire which is at a terror level of RED today, there are real questions of how much more secure we are all these years after 9/11, and how prepared we really are to deal with unexpected terror attacks.

The Washington Post has the article, here's a taste:

A new system of lasers designed to warn pilots that they've entered restricted airspace wasn't turned during the latest airspace violation for the same reason the radio of the wandering plane didn't work: the weather.

F-16s were scrambled on May 11 to intercept a plane that flew unusually far into the restricted zone _ about three miles from the White House. The FAA revoked the pilot's license on Monday after determining he was so careless that he "constitutes an unacceptable risk to safety in air commerce."

The pilot, Hayden L. "Jim" Sheaffer, said Tuesday he thought he was going to get "shot out of the sky."

He said he turned to a frequency that military authorities had asked him to call but that he could not get through.

The New York Times, in Tuesday's editions, reported that the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that Sheaffer was instructed to use a frequency that was not available at the time.

Meanwhile, an internal Homeland Security Department document obtained by The Associated Press indicates the agency is considering whether it should seek authority for its pilots to shoot down errant planes around the nation's capital. Putting the Coast Guard on air patrol duty in the Washington area, however, could raise questions about whether Homeland Security or the Pentagon would give an order to use lethal force in an emergency.

Democracy out to lunch

By Aussiegirl

Where's the orange revolution when you really need one?

Democracy is now officially out to lunch in America. After this weasel "compromise" sellout last night it is clear we have a government by judicial fiat, media manipulation coupled with dem shenanigans, and now -- a senate run by a cabal of 14 -- 7 RINOS and 7 democrats.

Media adoration is too strong a siren call for these weasels to resist - couple that with the knowledge that they are now in charge of the entire legislative agenda and will be dictating to the president what he can and cannot submit -- and who he can and cannot submit -- and we have a complete coup d'etat in this country.

Get ready for the McCain express -- every day, in perpetuam -- his sniveling little breathy voice lecturing us and hectoring us at every camera opportunity. It is simply shocking how he has managed to take over Frist's job and completely coopt the Republican majority in the Senate. I can't help but feel that this was done with the imprimatur of the president as well -- I can't get out of my mind the chummy campaign stops with Bush and McCain arm in arm which followed so closely on so many Quisling pronouncements by McCain which hurt Bush at every turn.

What happened last night makes it clear that these 7 now officially run the senate. So much for all those of us who turned out to vote in the last election!

Forget about the Republican majority, forget about Frist, the spineless majority leader (he keeps forgetting the "majority" part). What's the point of having a legislature and a president when it only takes a few enlightened individuals telling us all how to live in peace and comity???

And I'm afraid that Bush is out to lunch as well. Fox just had live shots of him on his perpetual Social Security road show -- employing his broadest "aw shucks" style -- and his Texas drawl wider than a Dan Rather homespun simile -- drawling on about Social Security -- and banter about how glad he is to be there -- and Fox is breathlessly waiting for him to comment on the issue at hand. But in vain.

Our president seems strangely disconnected on the most important domestic issue of his presidency -- the necessity to turn the activist judiciary around and to appoint judges who follow the Constitution.

Since the election he seems to have only two memes (since meme seems to be the meme of the day so I might as well capitulate and use it) -- Social Security reform and the same democracy speech he has been giving for the last 4 years. (Can't we all just recite it with him -- repeat after me, blah, blah, blah.)

I'm afraid I'm beyond disgusted.

Republicans have been living on hope for years now. If only we can elect Bush and a large Senate majority, etc. And every defeat that comes our way, dealt by the cabal of the dems, the weasel rats of the RINO party, and the media pushing the agenda of moderation -- we say - hang on, Karl Rove and Bush have the dems snookered, just wait, you'll see.

I am just waiting now to see if Rush and the other Republicans continue this spin that tells us that this utter defeat is actually a victory in disguise. They must think we are really gullible.

Further, we must have known the president wasn't exerting leadership when he said during the press conference "He sure HOPED (!?) his judicial nominees would get an up or down vote." HOPED??? How about -- "I EXPECT that the senate gives them all an up or down vote!!"

We are just finally waking up to the fact that Karl Rove and Bush and Co. are moving the party to the center -- and have consigned the religious and conservative faction of the party to the same position as blacks occupy in the democrat party.

We know you'll vote for us because you have no place else to go.


At 12:13 PM, BonnieBlueFlag said...
Ditto, Ditto and Ditto!

At 1:35 PM, Michael Morrison said...
At the risk of boring you with repeating myself: Please come on over and join the honest and principled party, the Libertarian Party.
Ours is the only party not seeking power, but seeking to dismantle the machinery of power in order to have a free people and a free country.
Please note Republicans in toto voted for the sovietization of America by passing the REAL ID bill.
The premise, passed by Republicans, is that you do not belong to yourself, but to the government, to the state.
You have to have a governmental permission even to work for a living.
One other little complaint: It has been the Republican-appointed Supreme Court "justices" who have acquiesced in giving even and ever more power to the federal government.
As I have said, Democrats are more honest: They tell you right up front, during their campaigns, that they will raise our taxes, confiscate our properties, send as many of us as possible out to be cannon fodder.
Republicans try to tell us they believe in the Constitution and in individual rights -- and then, in office, vote to raise our taxes, confiscate our properties, and send as many of us as possible out to be cannon fodder.
If you want liberty, join the Libertarian Party.
If you want an honest theocracy, join the Constitution Party.
If you want honest socialism, join the Green Party.
With any of the new parties, you will at least have honesty and principle.

At 2:29 PM, BonnieBlueFlag said...
My dear Michael, I went looking for you yesterday afternoon, but was unable to find a way to contact you.

I was having a moment of blind rage, after watching the McCain show yesterday afternoon. I wanted to tell you that you had previously been correct in your assessment of the Republican party, especially their hot shot TV personalities.

At 3:58 PM, Michael Morrison said...
My very dear Bonnie and Aussie, please note that I am NOT gloating, I am not happy that you two -- and no doubt millions more -- are unhappy.
I hate to admit it, but I too was once a Republican, but I found God ... no, I will not joke about it.

I started a Libertarian Party, just about the time the real one was getting founded. That happens, by the way, a lot. Edison, the Lumiere brothers, Frieze-Green -- they all invented the movie camera about the same time.
Anyway, believing as I did in the sovereignty of the individual, in the sacredness of individual rights, I quit being a Republican not long after I became one, realizing way back then -- in the era of Richard Nixon -- that neither of the two old parties will or would ever advocate real liberty.
The two old parties have merely gotten worse, with the Republican Party even more worse because some of its spokespeople pretend to advocate liberty -- and then those of us who might have had hope, briefly, are again thrown to the wolves of statism and collectivism.

We need a support group, I think, for you and people like you who are being shocked and misled and, frankly, lied to on a daily basis.

At 6:47 PM, Timothy Birdnow said...
The apple does not fall far from the tree, according to an old saying. George Bush was not my first choice in 2000 for this very reason; I figured he was a warmed over version of his old man. His second term has certainly proven my initial sentiments correct.

President Bush has been a domestic disaster, spending money hand over fist and placing political gain above most moral principles. (Why didn`t the President directly intervene in the Terri Sciavo case, for example.) He has refused to veto ANYTHING. (The man has yet to exercise a veto after 5 years in office!) He is killing us with immigration. I am really ticked about the real I.D. act. All of those insidious social programs like affirmative action have grown during this era.

Meanwhile, the War has soured because of a lack of political will. The President is afraid of what Newsweek will say, so is fiddling while Rome is burning. Why has the ``insurgency`` smoldered on this long? Because the terrorists have sanctuaries in Syria and Iran. Bush has pretended Iran is not a problem. They will soon have the atomic bomb because of our inaction. Syria, I am convinced, has Saddam`s WMD`s. The President and his genius Karl Rove early on adopted a policy of accepting the left`s defining of the terms of the debate; they were saying one week into the invasion that the weapons weren`t going to be found. This despite statements by the Russians, despite evidence from EVERY intelligence agency in the world. Why? Because Bush didn`t want to broaden the war right away for fear of a political backlash, and now he is boxed in because he conceded the argument. As a result, the media is currently in the process of Vietnamizing the war with bogus stories of torture and mistreatment of prisoners, and general malfeasence. If matters continue, we will see a slow, agonizing public disgust with the war, and the leftists will have succeeded in reliving the glories of their youth at the expense of the nation. We have TOO MUCH at stake!

Michael, I understand the sentiment, but can`t go along with a third party. The fundamental structure of the American political system is such that going third party is essentially wasting your effort; multi party elections work well under a parliamentary system, but just don`t work with our winner-take-all system. What we need is regime change in the Republican party! We need to overthrow the leadership, and make it our own. I see no future in third party politics (except maybe on a local level, which is how third parties should try to market themselves.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Taras Shevchenko -- Ukraine Remembers

Taras Shevchenko Monument at Kanev

"Our Ukraine" Press, www.razom.org.ua, Kyiv, Ukraine, May 22, 2004

KANEV - On May 22, the 143rd anniversary of Taras Shevchenko's reburial, Victor Yushchenko with wife Kateryna, son Taras, and two daughters Sophia and Christina visited Taras's Mountain in Kaniv.

The Kobzar's burial place was also visited by people's deputies members of the "Our Ukraine" coalition: Pavlo Movchan, Yuri Kostenko, Ivan Zayets, Yuri Pavlenko, Oksana Bilozir, Yevhen Girnyk, and Mykola Chechel.

The leader of "Our Ukraine" along with his family and his colleagues laid flowers on Taras Shevchenko's grave and participated in the civil funeral rites.

Speaking at the memorial rally dedicated to Shevchenko, Yushchenko noted: "Our Kobzar chose the word to be his profession and his weapon in hard times since that was the only way of fighting for Ukraine."

"Every state begins with language. When the language is lost, the people lose culture. As a result, territorial integrity is lost; the nation is lost. Taras's choice was a wise one, therefore," noted Yushchenko. "Being today close to Taras Shevchenko at Chernecha Hora means knowing what the future of Ukraine will be like," stressed Victor Yushchenko.


The Kaniv Museum-Preserve contains the grave of Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861) and a museum dedicated to his memory. A monument by K. Tereshchenko was created in 1925. In 1939 a new bronze monument by sculptor M. Manizer was erected and a museum designed by Vasyl Krychevsky and P. Kostyrko was opened. Destroyed during the Second World War by the German army, the museum and the monument were rebuilt.

The Kaniv settlement is the site of an ancient Slavic settlement dating back to the 7th-9th centuries A.D. situated along the right side of the Dnieper River. The city of Kaniv was one of the most important cities in Kievan Rus', it was mentioned in the Kievan Cave Patericon as existing in the last half of the 11th century.

Taras Shevchenko was imprisoned by the Russian Czar in 1847 and not released until 1857, two years after the death of Czar Nicholas. Shevchenko was not allowed to live in Ukraine. He waited for half a year in Nizhnii-Novgorod and then moved to St. Petersburg.

He was permitted to visit Ukraine in 1859 but was once again arrested and sent back to St. Petersburg, where he remained until his under police surveillance until his death in 1861.

Shevchenko was buried in St. Petersburg, but two months later his remains were transferred to the Chernecha Hill, near Kaniv, in Ukraine, a place loved by Shevchenko.

Shevchenko has a uniquely important place in Ukrainian history. He created the conditions that allowed the transformation of Ukrainian literature into a fully functional modern literature. His influence on Ukrainian political thought and his role as an inspirer of a modern democratic ideal of renewed Ukrainian statehood are without parallel.

Shevchenko's poetry contributed greatly to the evolution of national consciousness among the Ukrainian intelligentsia and people, and his influence on various facets of cultural and national life is felt to this day. (Encyclopedia of Ukraine, University of Toronto Press).

By Panteleimon Kulish in 1861
At Taras Shevchenko's (1814-1861) Original Place of Burial St. Petersburg, Russia, March 12, 1861

No one among us is worth of speaking in our native Ukrainian at Shevchenko's graveside: all the power and beauty of our language was revealed to him alone. Yet, through him we have been granted a great and cherished right - the right to proclaim the native Ukrainian word over this vast land.

A poet such as Shevchenko is beloved not only by Ukrainians. Where- ever he would have died in the immense Slavic world, whether in Serbia, in Bulgaria, or among the Czechs, he would have been at home.

You were afraid, Taras, that you would die in a foreign place, among foreigners. This could not be! In the midst of your large family you went to your eternal resting place. No Ukrainian has had such a large family as you; no one ever received a farewell like yours.

There have been great warriors in our native Ukraine; there have been great rulers. But you rise above them all and your family is the largest. For you, Taras, tought us that people were not made to be driven to their deaths, cities and villages were not made to be mere possessions; you taught us the sacred, life-giving truth.

....And because of your instruction, people of all tongues have gathered around you, like children around a father; because of your teaching you are kinsman to them all and they conduct you to the next world with tears and immense sorrow.

We thank our Holy Father that we do not live in an age when, for the sake of truth, men were crucified upon the cross or burned at the stake. In neither catacombs nor caves have we gathered to praise a great man for his teaching; we have gathered in the light of day in a great capital and together our sincere gratitude for his life-giving word.

Rejoice, Taras, that you have not been laid to rest in a foreign place, for no foreign place exists for you in the Slavic world, and foreigners do not consign you to the grave, for each good and wise soul is your

It was your wish to be buried on the bank overlooking the Dnipro-Slavuta, for you loved it and painted it and glorified it in resounding words. We have faith that with the help of the Lord we will be able to fulfill this wish.

You will lie in your native Ukrainian soil, on the bank of the famous Dnipro, for you have wedded its name to your own for all eternity. .....And yet you left one other testament for us, Taras. You said in your perfect muse:

My ne lukavyly z tobiou,
My prosto ishly, - u nas nema
Zerna nepravdy za sobi....

We were not cunning, you and I;
We walked a true path, - there is not a grain of untruth behind us...

A great and sacred testament! Be confident, Taras, that we will observe it and will never turn from the path you indicated.

Should we ever lack the strength to follow in your path, should it ever become impossible for us to proclaim the sacred truth without trepidation as you have done, then it would be far better for us to remain silent and allow your great words along to speak the pure, unadulterated truth for all eternity.

The translation is based on the text included in P. Kulish, "Tvory" (Lviv 1919) vi.

"Graveside Oration" is article number two in the book "Shevchenko and the Critics 1861-1980" edited by George S. N. Luckyj, published in association with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies by the University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Buffalo, London, 1980. The article is found on pages 55-56.

Written By Borys Hrinchenko in 1892
Excerpts from Chapter Six of B. Hrinchenko, 'Lysty z Ukrainy naddniprianskoi,' in "Bukovyna" Chernivtsi, 1892-1893

...Shevchenko never renounced his past; he correctly perceived the standpoint from which our past should be regarded. He branded as infamous those who were 'the scum of Moscow' and 'the refuse of Warsaw.'
He censured individuals, but strongly supported the popular national movement, whose aims were freedom for all peoples and national freedom for Ukraine.

He did not barter these sacred things for the 'scrap of rotten meat' that some regarded as 'a higher culture.' He voiced the will of the people and their national self-awareness (manifested even in such imperfect forms as the Hetmanate and the Sich).

He did not give up in the face of ruinous despotism of Peter I and Catherine II, of whom we wrote in 'The Dream.' It is shameful to relate that some ten years ago [1882] crudely adulatory odes were addressed to them in Ukrainian, reminding one of the old panegyrics to Ukrainian land-owners or the 'Ode to Prince Kurakin.'
Shevchenko did not cut himself off from our historical background for he knew that this must not be done; he clearly saw the flag of his nation when no one else did.

Shevchenko was the focus on which popular wisdom, feeling, and hope converged. In his soul he encompassed all that could be found in the souls of millions of Ukrainians wearied by slavery, and this is why we call him a genius.

I repeat that, regardless of minor faults in his work (and whose work is faultless?), Shevchenko's national awareness made him a genius, and his immeasurable importance and significance in the national rebirth of his country made him a phenomenon unique, perhaps, in the entire world.

At a time when his predecessors hardly dared mention Ukrainian independence in their work, and if they did, understood the notion not as national independence but as the very limited independence of a part of the 'united and indivisible Russian people,' an independence contingent upon the good grace of that 'united' nation, that 'elder brother,' Shevchenko in his work clearly presented our independence as a nation.

He regarded all Slavic peoples as a single family. He considered them brothers and wept bitterly to see how disunited they had become, how 'the children of the ancient Slavs are drunk with blood' (Haidamaky). He hoped

That all Slavs will become
Good brothers
And sons of the sun of truth
And heretics
Like the one from Constance -
A great heretic!
They will bring peace to the world
And eternal fame!

('Poslanie do Shafaryka'/'Letter to Safarik')

He thanked Safarik for guiding 'the Slavic rivers into one sea.' Safarik showed the Slavs the way to unity and united action; he showed them a common goal. No proof is needed that Shevchenko recognized each Slavic people's right to complete national independence, and above all the right of the Ukrainian people to it. He fiercely defended this inde- pendence against interference from either the Russian or the Polish side and the spectre of the 'one and indivisible' people did not hold him back in any way.

He began as a supporter of Pan-Slavic unity and brotherhood but soon perceived that unity with one brother, the Muscovite, would not be brotherhood but slavery. The he immediately opposed this 'unity and indivisibility' and did not hesitate to accuse Bohdan Khmelnytsky of capitulation to Moscow.

Oh, Bohdan, my Bohdan, (says Ukraine)
If I had known
I would have smothered you in the cradle, At my bosom lulled you to sleep!

The poet fiercely opposed all despotism (see for example, 'Tsari' [The Kings] and specifically the despotism of the contemporary Russian regime. In 'The Dream' (Son), he described the dreadful wrongs done to Ukraine and expressed the hope that her natural rights to nationhood would be restored.

He perceived that Ukraine has been brought to this state by her own indolent leaders and he did not hesitate to seem unpatriotic in saying to his countrymen:

Consider everything and ask
Yourselves then: who are we?
Whose sons? of what fathers?
By whom, for what enslaved?
Thus they would see that
Your renowned Brutuses --
Slaves, toadies, the scum of Moscow,
Warsaw's refuse are your masters
The illustrious hetmans!


But this did not prevent him from defending those hetmans he thought had fought for Ukraine's independence. He praised Petro Doroshenko for this (in "A black cloud has arisen'/'Zastupyla chorna khmara'). Still, he perceived few like Doroshenko and the fact that some hetmans could 'trounce Poland' did not gladden him as it did other writers.

Unlike Kvitka or Hulak-Artemovsky, he advised his countrymen not to rejoice in their supposed victory over Poland:

You boast: We once
Ruined Poland!......
You are right: Poland fell
And crushed you!

Such a victory should not be celebrated but regretted, for neither the Poles nor the Ukrainians derived any benefit from it; it resulted in bondage for both nations:

Of what do you boast, you,
Son of poor Ukraine?
That you wear you yoke
Even better than your fathers?

The poet fearlessly called his countrymen slaves and blamed them directly for the misfortune of their native land.

More cruelly than the Pole her our children Crucify her!

Shevchenko could not be taken in by superficial patriotism. He often argued vehemently against provincial patriots whom he hated and eventually he painted the following picture of a so-called 'patriot':
Descendant of a stupid hetman
An overeager patriot
And a Christian to boot --
He travels to Kiev each year!
He wears a homespun cloak among the land-owners
And drinks whisky with the peasants
And is a tavern philosopher.
There he is, complete -- ready to be printed.
And in his village he has his pick
Of young girls, and openly christensTen of his bastards a year.
If that were all!...He is a thorough villain! (P.S.')

Shevchenko had no use for the simple-minded patriotism found so frequently among our early writers. He demanded something different from Ukrainians. 'Rozkuitesia! Brataitesia! (Cast off your chains! Be brothers!) he exclaims.

To 'cast off chains' is to cease being the 'scum of Moscow' and the 'refuse of Warsaw' and to realize that we are the sons of a great, independent nation, to cease bowing down before Moscow and Warsaw and to turn our attention to achieving national independence.

But what is national independence? Shevchenko had a completely original conception of it and, significantly, his conception was correct. As he understood it, a nation was a family of brothers endowed with equal rights and only when all (and not only a few) are truly free can their nation also be free:

But broad and free
The sacred roads throughout
Will lie, and the rulers
Will not find them,
But down the roads the serfs
Without cries or alarms
Will come together
Full of gladness and cheer,
And joyful villages
Will conquer the desert.

("Rejoice, o Field')

That is why the poet urging us 'not to forget our Mother' and, calling down heavenly vengeance on the turncoats who sell their children to the Muscovite butchers (Za dumoiu duma'/'Thought after thought') also protested against all the barriers invented between people and exhorted the land-owners thus:

My brothers, embrace
Your youngest brother, --
So that our mother will smile,
Our tearful mother! ('Epistle')

Only when there are no more masters or peasants but a unified, educated Ukrainian family will Ukrainian national independence be possible and only then

Her good name will be reborn,
The honour of Ukraine ('Epistle')

This was the road to freedom that the poet pointed out to his country- men, and a wide-ranging reform of social reforms was the only means of achieving freedom.
It would be wrong to think that Shevchenko would have been satisfied with, for instance, merely the abolition of serfdom or that his words, quote above, have no wider significance.

He boldly rejected even the seemingly most sacred forms of social organization as soon as he was convinced that they were not in harmony with truth and that they were harmful to people. He saw no truth in the existing forms of social organization.

Pray to God alone,
Pray to truth on this earth,
And on earth never again
Bow before anyone: it is all lies!

('The Neophytes')

The poet perceived another social order and a truth other than that upheld by priests and police. As he said in his 'Testament':

Bury me and arise,
Rend asunder your chains
And baptize freedom
With the blood of the foe.
And in the great household,
In the new, free household
Do not neglect to speak of me
With a kind and quiet word.

The new household will come into being only when:

The people will grow up.
The now yet conceived princes will die
And on the renewed earth
There will be no foe or adversary
But there will be a son, and there will be a mother ? ?
And there will be people on the earth.

Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of a reform of interpersonal relations in Ukraine; even the Church, which strikes its roots deepest into the soul of the people, must be reorganized.

Shevchenko refused to believe in the God venerated by the priests and he wanted no part of the church they had established.

Paradise is before our eyes
But we creep to church
Our eyes tightly closed

The existing 'tomb of a church' must be destroyed to that a new, free church can be established in its place.

This tomb of a church
Will fall into ruin....And from beneath it
Ukraine will arise
And disperse the gloom of slavery,
A world of truth will shine forth,
And the children of slaves
Will worship in freedom.

Only when men become free brothers and when lies no longer prevail in our land, when master and peasant are no more, will national freedom be possible for Ukraine.

It follows from this that if we want freedom from national enslavement we must work for the good of the common, uneducated people, who are oppressed by their evil fate, and if we neglect to do this nothing will result from our work except an empty provincial patriotism.

These, in short, are Shevchenko's thoughts on nationalism. They reveal no chauvinism or provincial patriotism, nor are they tinged with the slavish mentality of his predecessors.

Throughout, Shevchenko saw the Ukrainian people as an independent nation and he demanded for them the rights that belong to every nation as a matter of course.

His independence and hatred of slavery made him despise it everywhere he saw it, even when his enemies were enslaved. Shevchenko harboured no hostility towards the Muscovites as a nation, nor to the Poles as such.

He rebelled against Muscovite oppression but not against the Muscovite nation. He rebelled against Polish oppression in the past but not against the Polish nation. And in his poem 'To the Poles,' he said:

Give your hand to the Cossack
And your pure heart
And again, in the name of Christ
We shall renew our peaceful paradise!

How far removed this is from Kvitka's or Hulak-Artemovsky's wild notions about the Polish situation!

Shevchenko was the first to express clearly the idea of Ukraine's complete independence as a nation, and along with this he maintained a consistent tolerance of other nations; he expressed something completely new and previously unheard-of in Ukrainian writers who preceded him.

The poet dispersed the tissue of lies which until then had obscured the issue of national independence. He was the first Ukrainian with a real national awareness and no one assisted as he did in the creation of a healthy Ukrainian national outlook.

The greatness of his deed can be appreciated only when we understand what darkness prevailed in our land before Shevchenko. His description of Safarik can be far more justly applied to himself, for it was he who lit 'Svitlo pravdy, voli, 'The light of truth and freedom,' and he became Ezekiel.
And wonder to behold, the corpses arose
And opened their eyes.

Shevchenko transformed the dead into living beings, for what were the members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia as Ukrainians if not corpses?

That is why we call him our national prophet and see him as phenomenon perhaps unique in history.

Ukrainian literature will surely produce many more writers as talented as Shevchenko but never again will there be one as significant for the national renaissance; there will be other great writers but never again a prophet. (1892) -30-

"What were Shevchenko's National Ideas? is article number seven in the book "Shevchenko and the Critics 1861-1980" edited by George
S. N. Luckyj, published in association with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies by the University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Buffalo, London, 1980. The article is found on pages 115-127.

By Taras Shevchenko
THE TESTAMENT by Taras Shevchenko

Dig my grave and raise my barrow
By the Dnieper-side
In Ukraina, my own land,
A fair land and wide.
I will lie and watch the cornfields,
Listen through the years
To the river voices roaring,
Roaring in my ears.
When I hear the call
Of the racing flood,
Loud with hated blood,
I will leave them all,
Fields and hills; and force my way
Right up to the Throne
Where God sits alone;
Clasp His feet and pray...
But till that day
What is God to me?
Bury me, be done with me,
Rise and break your chain,
Water your new liberty
With blood for rain.
Then, in the mighty family
Of all men that are free,
May be sometimes, very softly
You will speak of me?
(Translated by E. L. Voynich, London, 1911)
by Taras Shevchenko

When I am dead, bury me
In my beloved Ukraine,
My tomb upon a grave mound high
Amid the spreading plain,
So that the fields, the boundless steppes, The Dnieper's plunging shore
My eyes could see, my ears could hear
The mighty river roar.
When from Ukraine the Dnieper bears
Into the deep blue sea
The blood of foes ... then will I leave
These hills and fertile fields --
I'll leave them all and fly away
To the abode of God,
And then I'll pray .... But till that day I nothing know of God.

Oh bury me, then rise ye up
And break your heavy chains
And water with the tyrants' blood
The freedom you have gained.
And in the great new family,
The family of the free,
With softly spoken, kindly word
Remember also me.

Pereyaslav, December 25, 1845

{Translated by John Weir, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,1961}

Taras H. Shevchenko Museum and Memorial Park Foundation Toronto, Ontario, Canada


What kind of Ukraine can one see from Chernecha Hill?

By Ihor Siundiukov, The Day Weekly Digest in English Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Shevchenko's work is the acme of the universal human and Ukrainian spirit. This is our national ideal of a person, which was realized within the limits of one tragically brief life. Figures of this magnitude prove that there is and always will be a certain moral, ethical, and social standard - the standard of a free and unrestrained conscience without which the existence of any nation becomes totally meaningless and reduced to brutish sensations.

The tokens of sincere respect that Ukrainians show to Taras Shevchenko every May 22, the day that his body was finally laid to eternal rest on the Dnipro's steep banks, according to the poet's Testament, are as crucial to us as air or food. As Academicians Ivan Dziuba and Mykola Zhulynsky noted recently, the road to Shevchenko is an eternal road, the road to oneself.

What can help us penetrate the soul of our genius and understand why he wished to be buried in this precise spot? One reason was the dazzling beauty of the landscapes in the Bard's native Cherkasy region, where one can feel the vastness of an enormous "divine world," so vividly described by Shevchenko - the boundless steppe and the mysterious, ancient forests that have stood resolutely for centuries on end.

The Day's "task force" (editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna; our respected longtime contributors and friends, Professors Volodymyr Panchenko, Viktor Horobets and his son Ostap, and this writer) set out to attend the Shevchenko celebrations primarily to take a look at the people who feel the need "to reach Taras's heights," to climb sacred Chernecha (Monk's) Hill (all sorts of people - whether or not they are successful in life - are bound to do the same thing: make a strenuous effort to climb hundreds of steep steps) not only to make the physical ascent but also to rise above themselves and the humdrum daily routine that too often blinds us and makes us slaves of our own egotism, narrow-mindedness, and malice.

We were all inclined to believe that thousands or even tens of thousands of people from various nooks and corners of Ukraine had come here not because "it is a must," not because of somebody's coercion, but because they have an urgent need to be purified. As Volodymyr Panchenko rightly observed, the past few decades have created such excessively fine filters, both political and ideological, for those who are not indifferent to Shevchenko's name and heritage that only those who have made a really well considered choice have survived.

Chernecha Hill and the foot of the Bard's monument is the very spot from where you can "see Ukraine and the entire hetman's state all around." It is here that Nikolai Gogol (Mykola Hohol) could and, by all accounts did, write the famous phrase "a rare bird will ever fly as far as the middle of the Dnipro." There are very few places as beautiful as this in all of Ukraine. Shevchenko may have been thinking of these Kaniv landscapes, when ten days before his death he wrote,

"Let's look at this world...
Let's look, my destiny...
See how wide,
High and cheerful,
Clear and deep this world is..."

This strip of land above the Dnipro's steep cliffs attracted the poet, who dreamed of buying a house and settling here. In June 1860 Shevchenko wrote to Varfolomei, his cousin twice removed, "There is a small woodland on the outskirts of Monastyryshche, upstream along the Dnipro from the place you chose yourself, on the right bank between Kaniv and Pekari, on a high hill; well away from the town, in the middle of that woodland, there is a glade and a few fishermen's huts down below...A garden can be put in. And my old friend the Dnipro will seem to be flowing right beneath my feet." It was here that Shevchenko dreamed of setting up a "quiet paradise." But this dream was destined to remain unfulfilled.

The Russian satirist and political journalist Vasiliy Kurochkin brilliantly summed up Shevchenko's destiny during the poet's funeral: "He was not destined to enjoy domestic bliss. A different, posthumous, bliss - glory - awaits him." The finest representatives of the Ukrainian intelligentsia (among them Mykhailo Maksymovych, Hryhoriy Chestakhivsky, Panteleimon Kulish, Mykola Kostomarov, Viktor Zabila, Fedir Chernenko, Ivan Soshenko, young Mykhailo Drahomanov, and Volodymyr Antonovych) considered it their sacred duty and a matter of honor to help fulfill Taras's will - to bury him "in the midst of a wide steppe," in his "beloved Ukraine," in a place from where he could see "the boundless wheat fields, the Dnipro, and the cliffs."

That the prophet of Ukraine found eternal rest precisely here, in Kaniv, is an act of ultimate, divine justice, for he passionately loved these places, this sun-drenched and tender-blue Cherkasy region, his homeland.

What was the attitude of the "common" people to Shevchenko back in 1861? This is what artist Hryhory Chestakhivsky wrote to the Bard's friend Fedir Chernenko, "All the serfs of Ukraine know Taras. They know that he, their father and defender, was laid to rest near Kaniv. Country people keep coming over to bow down at his grave. I often see ordinary peasants by his grave: they stand bareheaded with their little bundles on their backs, leaning on their walking sticks, and looking at the grave. I have never seen such heartfelt, quiet, and tender human glances in my entire life, as though their last hope for a better lot in life were lying in this grave" (June 20, 1861).

There is no better way to express this. And what does the figure of Shevchenko and the cause that he served mean to an "ordinary" Ukrainian today, in the uncommonly cold days of May 2004? (But while we were there a delicate sun finally broke through the clouds and warmed the air a bit). Are many of our compatriots able to instantly perceive, as the Bard did, "the sudden light of truth?"

What attracted our attention most of all were the transcendent expressions on the faces of the people climbing the steps to Taras's peak. Such a great variety of people, all united by Shevchenko. Our divided and disoriented society badly needs (and is going to need for many more years) a powerful factor for national and human consolidation, and it is only Shevchenko who can perform this unique role. But this raises the fundamental question: consolidation on what basis? To answer it, one must perhaps recall the quintessence of Shevchenko's oeuvre - his disgust with all forms of slavery, and acute feeling of national and human dignity.

This is no theory but a God-given feeling of many generations of Ukrainians, as unfettered and subliminal as a thirst for spring water or fresh air (not to be "slaves with a badge on their cap" who are "naked in their heart"). It is this that may serve as a powerful unifying force for Ukrainian citizens, no matter whether they are Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, Jews, Tatars, easterners or westerners. For this human feeling is the most worthy of a human being. Yet it requires an effort because it is an act of upward progression.

It is highly significant that a mere hundred or so meters away from Shevchenko's grave, on the very summit of Chernecha Hill, stands a modest and unremarkable cross with the inscription, "Here in January 1978 Ukrainian patriot Oleksa Hirnyk burned himself to death in protest against the Russification of Ukraine." This fact alone convincingly refutes speculations that Ukraine gained its independence without a struggle, "for free," almost like getting manna from heaven.

Yes, Shevchenko's flame burned in the hearts of Oleksa Hirnyk, Vasyl Stus, Valery Marchenko, Petro Hryhorenko, and in James Mace's heart too. But let us ask ourselves: how many Ukrainians have heard anything about Oleksa Hirnyk? The Czech youth Jan Palach, who did the same thing in 1968, when Soviet tanks were rumbling down the streets of Prague, was declared a hero in his native country. This is what they call pride and Europeanness.

Shevchenko's own biography shows what a truly free individual is capable of. The people that we spoke with that day on Chernecha Hill (among them a well-respected historian and public figure, Academician and Hero of Ukraine Petro Tronko; the Bard's great-grandson once removed, Mykola Lysenko; longtime political prisoner Heorhy Fastovets; and the well-known diplomat and deputy of the first Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Stepan Volkovetsky) shared this opinion: Shevchenko is as inexhaustible as life itself. He accompanies an individual throughout his/her lifetime, from cradle to death.

One of our most indelible impressions was when we visited Shevchenko's memorial svitlytsia, the house that contains a collection of such treasured items as books published during Shevchenko's lifetime and exhibits illustrating the public's attitude to the poet. Among other artifacts, the museum has a towel embroidered by Lesia Ukrayinka. The museum's curator Ms. Zinayida Tarkhan-Bereza, who is a talented researcher and a magnificent example of a true, self-denying Ukrainian intellectual, literally enthralled us with her modesty and boundless love for Shevchenko's legacy.
The sky alone is the limit for this extraordinary woman, who recited from memory lengthy fragments from Haidamaky to us. Ms. Tarkhan-Bereza's book Sacred Place, which this true devotee wrote about the history of Kaniv's Shevchenko Memorial, deserves to be in every Ukrainian's home library.

Naturally, we would like to separate the undying soul of Shevchenko - the soul of Ukraine - from the political vicissitudes of today. So we will only note here that a large number of our compatriots who came that day to visit our foremost poet and prophet are likely to belong to what is known as the "protest-minded" (or oppositional) electorate. In any case, as this writer observed, most of the placards brought by political parties, movements, and civic organizations to Chernecha Hill bore the symbols of Our Ukraine whose leader was, incidentally, very warmly received. Nor did the government (the legislative branch, to be more precise) shun the celebrations: representing it was Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, who laid a wreath at the Bard's monument.
Inscribed on this monument are straightforward and eternal words that were so typical of Shevchenko:

"Love your Ukraine,
Love it...
Pray to God for it
In a time of trouble,
In the last painful minute."

Some people may think that these words have nothing to do with them. Still, democracy, reforms, and all our sweeping plans will only come to fruition if there are as many people of this kind as possible.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

It was just a lover's spat after all

By Aussiegirl

Well, kiss and make up -- Viktor and Yulia are a team again -- at least according to Viktor:

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has reaffirmed his trust in Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and claimed that his positive assessment of the government's work remained unchanged, Novosti-Ukraine agency reported on Wednesday.

Earlier this day Ukrainian weekly Zerkalo Nedeli (Weekly Mirror) reported that President Yushchenko had asked Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko to resign during a meeting with Russian oil producers on May 19.

Commenting on the situation in Ukraine's energy sector, Viktor Yushchenko said that "the petroleum crisis was a serious problem and an ordeal and lesson for the government."

"This problem has been solved because we were ready to conduct an open, public and honest dialogue and make difficult and responsible decisions inside and outside the team. It was hard for all participants in the discussion but the team spirit has won," Yushchenko stressed.


From Lidia Wolanskyj, Ukraine
Re: "Betraying A Revolution" Op-Ed by Anders Aslund, The Washington Post, Wednesday, May 18, 2005

While I generally appreciate and respect his views, I think Mr. Aslund's claims are a little wild in this article, and it's disappointing to see such a reputed professional write like this.

Ukraine's economy began to slow sharply last August and September, when Mr. Yanukovych suddenly increased pensions and began to deplete the Budget and stimulate high inflation. Meat has not disappeared off any shelves to the best of my knowledge, at least not in western Ukraine where it is now mostly well below the Hr 20 mark per kilo. As to businesses shutting down, that also does not appear to be true.
Yes, some companies scrambled to re-organize themselves in anticipation of a higher tax burden, but most of them are still functioning. Other tax changes that were potentially nasty, such as freelancers paying full payroll taxes rather than a flat tax after more than 30 days of working for an organization, are still under development and have not been instituted.
There is supposed to be a large conference with SMEs shortly to work out a better approach precisely to this issue. Ms. Tymoshenko is doing a lot of strange things, but it makes no sense to exaggerate the fallout at this time.

Sincerely, Lidia Wolanskyj Journalist; Founder, The Eastern Economist

Friday, May 20, 2005

Yushchenko reportedly asked Tymoshenko to submit a letter of resignation

By Aussiegirl

Things are getting very testy between Viktor Yushchenko and his Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. According to the Weekly Mirror and Ukrainska Pravda, the President suggested that Tymoshenko submit her resignation and join an opposition party banging drums and blowing horns outside the parliament building. The outburts reportedly came during a meeting with Russian oil traders over the recent crisis in oil prices. According to four eyewitnesses, who later refused to comment publicly, Tymoshenko on three separate occasions publicly disagreed with the President's orders that oil prices remain answerable to market forces. Upon her third open disagreement Yushchenko reportedly suggested that she to submit her resignation.

Ukrayinska Pravda has the story:

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko publicly suggested that Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko write a letter of resignation.

According to the "Mirror Weekly" newspaper, this happened on Thursday during a meeting concerning the fuel crisis, with managers of Russian oil companies present.

This information was confirmed for Ukrayinska Pravda by four members of the meeting, but no one wanted to go on the record and comment officially.

Persons close to the PM said that from the start of the meeting, Tymoshenko pointed out that she disagreed with the first part of the president's decree on the fuel crisis, in which the activities of the Cabinet to enforce prices were a in violation with the principles of market economy.

The President offered her to join the opposition SDPU(u) party and to write a letter of resignation. He then invited everyone except for Tymoshenko for a glass of champagne in another room.

Sources close to the President told the Mirror Weekly of the following events: "The president asked Russian oil companies to behave in a friendly way towards Ukraine and to not create fuel crises every time there's a sowing campaign."

"He also said that the government excessively used non-market means to control the crisis. Yuliya Tymoshenko, however, said that she does not agree with the president's decree and is certain that she has done everything correctly."

The President did not want to pursue this discussion and asked Tymoshenko to refrain from making comments that demonstrate disunity in the Ukrainian branches of government.

Tymoshenko repeated once more that she does not agree with the President's assessments. After a reply from the President she has repeated her point for the third time, at the same time thanking two oil companies from Ukraine and Tatarstan region of Russia, and noted that she will have a separate discussion with other Russian oil companies.

"The Prime Minister have allowed herself something unimaginable - to criticize the decisions of the President in a meeting with foreign investors," the source explains. "After this, the President replied that in this case Tymoshenko can submit a letter of resignation and to join the "Regions of Ukraine" and SDPU(u) parties in blowing horns and hitting drums outside the government buildings [in protest]," a source said.

A Song for Europe in the wake of revolution

The golden domes of the Pecherska Lavra in Kyiv

Andrei Kurkov gives insider's guide to host capital
from The Observer, Sunday May 15, 2005:

The shop windows of Kiev are being cleaned, the boats that take tourists up and down the river have been given new coats of paint and even the golden domes of the churches seem to be shining brighter than they ever did in the time of former President Leonid Kuchma. The Eurovision song contest is finally coming to Ukraine.

Invigorated by the experience of the Orange Revolution, when half a million people occupied Kiev's main square in November to protest at rigged election results, the people of Kiev are now expecting something revolutionary from the Eurovision. Even intelligent people with good taste in music have taken to pronouncing Eurovision in respectful tones, but it is really the 'Euro' bit of the word that they revere.

Even before the events of November, most Ukrainians considered themselves European, but it took a revolution to attract Europe's attention to this country.

During the Orange Revolution, protesters set up a 'tent village' on the city's busiest street, Khreschatyk, and a similar method of protest has been taken up by those opposing Viktor Yushchenko's new government. They have pitched their tents opposite the cabinet of ministers' building, though the tents are usually empty. Another tent protest continues outside the mayor's office. This one is organised by revolutionaries unhappy with the mayor.

More recently, a new tent-city has sprung up on Trukhanov Island in the river Dnepr, but this one is to cater for the anticipated influx of Eurovision visitors, offering budget accommodation for Euro 10 a day and a programme of entertainment.

When chatting to an American friend of mine and his 16-year-old son recently in Paris, the son asked his father: 'So when did they discover Europe?' The father laughed and looked to me to provide a response. After a moment's hesitation I said: 'Western Europe was discovered a long time ago, even before America, but Eastern Europe is still being discovered and very slowly at that.'

Kiev has 1,500 years of history and is the 'birthplace' of Christianity in Europe. The Dnepr, which skirts the hilly centre of town, was once part of the trading route between Scandinavia and Greece. I have the impression that the descendants of those traders can now be found doing their business in the Argentinean restaurant in Podol. Podol is the 'lower town'. It was once the Jewish quarter and it has remained almost unscathed by 'Soviet architecture'. There are plenty of cosy and modestly priced cafes, restaurants and bars, and churches of a dozen different denominations, synagogues and the Chernobyl Museum peacefully co-exist.

The Upper Town, which lies between the Pechersk Lavra ( Pechersk Monastery) and the 11th-century St Sophia Cathedral, has always been the more aristocratic part of town. Most government offices are located here, including the grey Stalinist building that was used by the Gestapo during the war and then repossessed by the KGB. That building now houses the Ukrainian version of the KGB, the Ukrainian Security Service. Judging by interviews given by a number of top generals, this organisation played a significant role in the 'orange victory'.
The best known - and the steepest - street in Kiev joins the lower town and upper town and is called Andreivski Uzviz (Andrei's descent). Once formed by a river, this cut in the hills now provides for the ambling movement of tourists and off-work Kievites between the two parts of the city. People tend to walk down this street slowly. There are over a dozen art galleries, a similar number of restaurants and several museums.
The most famous museum, the Bulgakov, is at number 13. It was this house and, indeed this street, that Mikhail Bulgakov describes in his novel The White Guard.

After independence in 1991, the first to arrive on the street were the souvenir traders, followed quickly by the protection racketeers, who also saw profit in the souvenir business. The racketeers are long gone, or are now manning the bigger souvenir stalls where the matrioshki (Russian wooden nesting dolls) reflect every shade of today's political reality - Putin, Bush, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein - and it is amusing to guess who is inside whom. But if you want a more authentic, Ukrainian souvenir, go for the pysanki painted eggs or embroidered shirts and blouses.

Kiev is beautiful in May. This is the time when the chestnut trees and lilac are in bloom in the city's many parks and squares. In one of them, just opposite the 'Red' building of Kiev state university, you will find the outdoor chess club. Every day, for the last 50 years, chess enthusiasts have come here to play for money and for sport.
Then there's the Hydropark on an island in the Dnepr. This is a place for sport and drinking. In winter the island is frequented by 'walruses' (folk who enjoy plunging into the ice-cold river water). In summer the smell of shashlik kebabs and the huge numbers of visitors makes it the favourite haunt of Kiev's tramps and homeless children.

The pagan love of all things underground has influenced the development of the city. An underground labyrinth of hermit dwellings and burial places built by Christian monks from the 13th to 17th centuries, stretches for miles in the hills above the Dnepr. A part of this underground is owned by the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (monastery) and it still houses the remains of sainted monks. These 'caves' can be accessed via the monastery. All you need to do is buy a candle.

The walk through the dark passages from one coffin to the next is a dubious pleasure. I got lost down there as a boy and wandered about for three hours trying to find an exit. No horror movie I have seen since comes close to having the same effect.
Ukraine's black soil is so fertile that the occupying Nazis tried to export it in bulk to Germany. Food supply should never have been a problem for this country. None the less, Stalin succeeded in inducing two terrible famines, in 1933 and in 1947, which claimed the lives of some three million people. (here the author is understating the facts -- the 1933 famine alone killed at least 7 million -- several million more may have perished in 1947)

Food is an important part of Ukrainian culture. Home cooking is most respected and there is no tradition of restaurant going among ordinary people. Among the new business elite, however, there's a tendency to stay in restaurants day and night.
First stop for most visitors arriving in Kiev for Eurovision will be the Maidan (Independence Square); the venue for the most peaceful revolution ever. The revolutionary graffiti on the wall of the main post office has been covered with Perspex to save it for posterity. Nearby, 'orange' souvenirs can be purchased - cups and plates with pictures of President Yushchenko and the new Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko, and compact discs with the hits of the revolution, one of which, in a more peaceful version, will represent Ukraine in this year's Eurovision.

Andrei Kurkov's novels include the best-selling "Death and the Penguin" and its sequel, "Penguin Lost." "A Matter of Death and Life" was recently published in English for the first time.

Interior of St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Yushchenko gets tough with Tymoshenko

By Aussiegirl

It's about time -- I was beginning to wonder who was running this government, Yushchenko or Tymoshenko. In a welcome sign, it looks as though Viktor Yushchenko is not taking Tymoshenko's mishandling of the economy and the fuel crisis lying down. He has issued criticisms and orders that various recent decisions of the government regarding oil prices be rescinded, vowing once again that all government policy shall aim towards a full market economy with the market setting prices of commodities like fuel. Let's see if there is any man on earth who can control Yulia and make her toe the line -- it was not she who was voted into office, after all, it was Yushchenko -- and he placed her in her present office on condition that she act in good faith to carry out the policies he put forth in his campaign and his inaugural speech. Way to go, Viktor, maybe time for you to stop traveling and pay attention to what the little woman is doing at home.

The Washington Post has the article:

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko intensified criticism of his government on Thursday and vowed to stick to market principles while tackling a fuel crisis that led to long queues for petrol.

Yushchenko, who came to power just over 100 days ago after a bruising election and "Orange Revolution" protests, appointed his radical ally Yulia Tymoshenko to head the ex-Soviet state's government in February.

He has appeared increasingly at odds with her over both the dramatic fuel shortages and plans to review some of the privatisations of industry conducted under his predecessor. In a decree issued late on Wednesday, Yushchenko criticized Tymoshenko's government over the shortages, demanding prompt action to stabilize the situation, reduce energy dependence and allow the market to function without impediment.

On Thursday, he told executives from Russian and Ukrainian oil firms: "What happened on the oil market was a clear example of how not to manage affairs. I saw no professional approach. Today, I am asking for this page to be turned."

He pledged to do everything possible to "make it profitable, on strict market principles, for oil to be brought to Ukraine, refined and used on the domestic market.

"I give my word that we will do everything to make Ukraine attractive as a transit

Yushchenko has linked nearly every policy move to a drive to emerge from Moscow's shadow and one day join the European Union.
His decree, using unusually harsh language, said government policy "does not correspond to the basis of a market economy."

"This crisis emerged because of the improper actions of the Ukrainian government in terms of setting prices and excessive administrative regulation of oil and oil products," it read.

It was the second time this week Yushchenko had chided Tymoshenko's cabinet, though queues shortened at petrol stations. A 10-liter limit per customer remained in force.

Tymoshenko, who roused crowds with calls for radical action during last year's mass protests, blames the fuel crisis on a "plot" by Russian companies, which control four of six Ukrainian refineries and dominate the retail fuel market.

The president's decree gave the Economy Ministry a week to rescind decisions setting prices on the oil market.

It ordered the government to produce a solution within a month on creating a comprehensive oil company able to explore, produce, refine and sell oil. A separate order called on Tymoshenko to transfer state shares from three refineries into a fund intended to help create the company.

Ministers were commissioned to set up a program for a state oil reserve and draft a law eliminating all value added tax on oil transiting through Ukraine. And the government was ordered to start talks with other countries on oil supplies.

Tymoshenko has appeared increasingly on the defensive in recent weeks amid mixed economic results and policy disputes. Growth has slowed from last year's record level of 12.1 percent though the premier says previous figures were exaggerated.

Yushchenko on Wednesday blamed her government for being "two to three weeks behind" in tackling the fuel crisis.

The prime minister has also been at odds with Yushchenko on calls to submit to a review privatisations deemed dubious with the possibility of staging new tenders.
Tymoshenko on Wednesday denied her government was drafting a list of such companies and accused two ministers of "intrigues."

Yushchenko last week said officials were drawing up a list of 29 companies that could be sold off again, but gave no names.


michael morrison�said...
Mixed signals: A government-owned refinery is not really a free or market economy.
Still, his insistent rhetoric sure does sound good.

I wonder if we could trade George W. Bush to the Ukrainians and have Mr. Yuschenko in his place.

The last president we had who talked about a free economy had his hands tied and we got further into federal control and regulation, and got higher federal debt and deficit.

Still, it's nice at least to hear free market, even if it doesn't come to pass.
10:48 PM

Aussiegirl� said...
Agreed, Michael -- the problems in Ukraine are wide and deep, it is not easy to turn a former communist economy around -- you are essentially re-creating the wheel, once the wagon is already in place and has been on the road for a long, long time.

The Soviet Union kept all the member states completely interdependent, to keep them from having any ideas of independence. This is particularly a problem with energy, as Ukraine is heavily dependent on Russia in the areas of natural gas and oil. Russia has been pressuring Ukraine with cutoffs of oil supplies which puts pressure on the economy, and also breeds dissatisfaction among the population, which is what Russia is after. It's a juggling act of major proportions to try to keep all those balls in the air at one time and still maintain your polical viability for the next election.

Ukraine is further operating under the additional burden of trying to recover from unwise "shock economics" unwisely foisted on them by western advisors, who thought you could re-create the economic conditions of the 19th century in America, with essentially robber barons creating huge industries from which eventually the riches would trickle down to the average man. The robber barons were recreated by giving away whole nationalized enterprises, steel mills, refineries, oil companies, etc. to private cronies, who became billionaires overnight.

The problem now is, what do you do? Renationalize some of the worst offenders in the hope of selling them at fair market value? Or simply asking the present owners to pay the difference between what they paid and the fair market value? Also Yulia is talking about many renationalizations, which naturally scares off any foreign investors, while Yushchenko is only calling for the most egregious to be revalued. In essence, in a country where the state owned everything -- how do you institute private property -- and how do you return it to the people in an equitable way without destroying what remains of the economy in the first place.

Somehow the countries of Poland and Czechoslovakia have managed to do this, but they were so-called satellites, and not so heavily intergrated, and also had a closer proximity to their own democratic pasts. Ukraine has no such advantages. Add to that the problems of all these years of corruption and cronyism and a rising mafia and clan structure, and you have a knot that is going to take decades to unravel. Let's hope that Yushchenko has at least set Ukraine's foot on the right path.
May 20, 2005 3:32 PM

Is there a NATO in Ukraine's future?

By Aussiegirl

A long and detailed analysis of the ramifications of Ukraine's possible future entry into NATO -- well worth the read.

Ukraine-NATO talk annoys Russia

As Ukraine makes steady progress towards joining NATO, Russias grumblings grow more threatening and some observers warn the US against provoking the Russian bear unnecessarily.

Is Tymoshenko a closet socialist?

By Aussiegirl

This Washington Post editorial has some thoughts on what is happening in Ukraine in terms of the economy. I must say that I have had reservations about Tymoshenko from the very beginning. I was wary of her bold fashion style as an indicator of her ego and her need to upstage Yushchenko in a desire to have her own way. I have always been a bit worried that she would not be completely on Yushchenko's team. Recent decisions by her have not quieted these qualms and have instead intensified them. She continues to speak of thousands of re-nationalizations when Yushchenko keeps reassuring everyone that there will only be a dozen or so. All of these economic decisions, coupled with the decision to suddenly raise the value of the hryvnia in relation to the dollar (instantly devaluing most people's savings which are held in dollars), bodes ill for the future economic stability of Ukraine. Rumblings about re-nationalizing large parts of the economy as a way to bring revenue to the government are sure to continue to drive away investment. Did Ukraine have a Hobson's choice between a criminal and corrupt thug -- and closet socialists? Time will tell. But these are disturbing trends.

Read some of the WaPo editorial:

Ukraine's Orange Revolution was an exhilarating and joyful event. It was a classical liberal revolution for democracy and freedom and against corruption. Viktor Yushchenko became the democratically elected president, promising freedom from fear and corruption.