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Friday, June 22, 2007


Yanukovych Upsets Putin by Taking Seat a Bit Too Early

While meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday, Ukrainian PM Viktor Yanukovych stoked up his collection of faux pas with yet another spicy edition.

As the two leaders took to the table, our man Yanukovych cut Putin short, landing his own rear end first, in gross violation of diplomatic protocol. This unauthorized seating sequence visibly disturbed Putin, Ukrayinkska Pravda writes, quoting a report in Komersant.

We always hurt the ones we love. But wait a minute, what if it was a carefully planned reprisal for Putin’s premature congratulations and the infamous candy rejection scene?

Short of that, one can see piles of work left undone by the K Street consultants who have coached Yanukovych during the last few years.

32 comments:

David said...

Maybe, Putin will also ditch Yanuk and go with Akhmetov's pony...

dlw

Taras said...

Not in this campaign: Yanukovych is the brand.

Despite much-publicized tensions between the two, I doubt that Putin would favor dealing with a pro-Ukrainian leader in the first place.

But as we all know, Putin’s picks have not always performed as planned.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess we can be thankful for that...

dlw

Taras said...

As we can see in this picture, a lot more needs to be done.

http://strangemaps.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/131-us-states-renamed-for-countries-with-similar-gdps/

David said...

this looks worth plugging...

I'm going to get me a copy.

dlw

Taras said...

Good choice, man. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in getting a window on what Ukraine was like back in the roaring 90s.

Semyon Yufa… That name rings a bell! In March 1994, my dad invested $100 of our savings, or $1,000 in today’s terms, in Yufa’s Merkuriy. Ukrainians, their savings “gone with the USSR,” desperately looked for ways to hedge against hyperinflation, which was eating up their Dickensian median incomes of $20 per month.

As a store of value, the almighty dollar became the most popular hedging strategy. And yet, Mr. Yufa promised a better return.

That’s how millions of people got swindled of their post-Soviet savings in ponzi schemes like Yufa’s. In Russia, they had Mavrodi’s MMM. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MMM_(pyramid) Don’t confuse with 3M:)!

Pawlina said...

I just checked a book out of the public library called The Creature from Jekyll Island.

It's an account of how the banking cartel known as the US Federal Reserve came about.

I've only started reading it, but have already noticed some very eerie similarities between early 20th C America and early 21st C Eastern Europe.

Taras said...

Sounds like a worth read:)

In summer 2004, my beach book was “Take On the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don't Want You to Know.” Written by former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt, it became my follow-up study of the corporate scandals that shook America at the turn of the century.

The mind boggles at the thought of what a dollar collapse might do to the world economy. The U.S financial system has to clean its act to remain a reliable partner domestically and globally.

Our discussion would not be complete without mention of the bigger issue: America’s twin deficits, fueled by its conspicuous consumption and low savings. The day China stops buying U.S. debt will be a very sad one.

Ukraine’s hyperinflation years (1992-1994) were unlike anything the North American financial system has ever experienced.

As for the entire Y2K era (Yanukovych, Kuchma, Kravchuk), the best historical analogy would be a mixture of the Great Depression, the Frontier, and the Industrial Revolution. (Except that the local steel barons didn’t build any new factories; they simply bagged existing ones.)

For a better idea of the "color of our money," check out the following memorabilia:

http://moneypix.narod.ru/olderukr.html

I have a collection of my own:)

David said...

I also fear a rush on the US Dollar...

I think we also might be on our way to a constitutional crisis of our own.

People are too complacent over here. That's why these problems persist.

dlw

Taras said...

I keep tabs on your current events.

This morning, I read about the PBS debate, the Edwards-Coulter dialogue, the Supreme Court’s ruling, and the fate of the immigration bill.

You take care of Uncle Sam, David. The greenback puts us all in the same boat.

Taras said...

Oh, I forgot to mention the iPhone's release:)

elmer said...

Mexicans are voting with their feet, taras - just like Ukrainians.

Because Mexico has a corrupt government and an oligarchy.

Does that sound familiar?

Where is Yufa today? What happened to him?

Taras said...

Good to see you again, Elmer!:)

Yep, “voting by feet” has been quite popular among Ukrainians — the Mexicans of Europe.

Aside from rumours of his death, Yufa’s whereabouts remain unknown to the general public. Dead or alive, he is missed by the many "happy customers" he left in Ukraine.

David said...

Well, my vision is that the US's democracy could be renewed from the state-level up. I think that third parties here could form pragmatic alliances designed to change our bicameral state legislatures into unicameral legislatures. They could also change the voting systems from the current majoritarian system to a hybrid between the representational systems of Europe and a majoritarian system. It's simple. Divide up a state into five regions and have representational elections within those regions to elect all of the legislators.

The basic idea is to maintain some continuity with the current system and to keep elections relatively local but to give third parties the ability to develop foot-holds onto power. If they can develop foot-holds then they will be more successful in getting the main parties to take on their issues. In this way, the political center that the main parties have to center themselves on will become more dynamic.

It'll take some constitutional changes at the state level, which are never easy, but I think that if enough third party candidates/supporters got behind it that it could work. I have an idea called quasi-strategic voting that would give coalitions of third parties more leverage in getting main party candidates to take on this particular change in the state constitutions.

Anyways, this is quite removed from your situation, but it is something that I believe could foster significant political renewal in the US, which will inevitably spillover to the rest of the world.

dlw

Taras said...

Happy Fourth of July, David:)!

I too believe your two-party system needs an overhaul. With Dems and Reps holding a political oligopoly and acting alike, Americans’ disillusionment has intensified, as evidenced by low turnouts.

The deeper America gets sucked into the vicious cycle of indifference, the worse it will get for the rest of the world.

I hope this presidential campaign will help America grow and reinvent itself.

David said...

I think the prez election is gonna be very very ugly and discouraging for people.

This is why my hopes are in the ability to give third parties just enough power to force the main parties to be significantly more dynamic to maintain their contested duopoly.

dlw

Taras said...

Not as ugly as ours, I hope:)

Independents should build on this ugliness to send a strong “we’ve had enough” message to Americans.

It doesn’t happen overnight, but the sooner you start, the better it will be for all of us.

David said...

I think there is widespread dissatisfaction with the main two parties in the US.

My idea focuses on state-level activism, so it shouldn't be hard, but it requires people to subjugate other issues they care about to this one single issue of changing the nature of the state legislature. There also is a problem in that many third parties are driven by egos and particular personalities and this wd have to be team effort...

I believe it could happen, but I'm afraid that the existing 3rd parties may resist it...

dlw

Taras said...

Yep, the existing independents have miserably failed to break the duopoly, and their fiasco makes them look like a waste of votes.

To lay that self-fulfilling prophecy to rest, you need fresh blood. You need new kids on the block: grassroots movements that will not get lost along the way and will reshape Washington.

David said...

I think 3rd parties need to be more humble. It's not about ending the dominance of the main two parties, in all likelihood, but rather in making them more dynamic....

Many third party wannabes frame it as if they really are the best people for the job or are bound to become a major party. I think an ego-driven approach that categorizes success in main party terms is bound to fail and disillusion people. I want people who are committed to working at the political margins in a creative grass-rootsy approaches that serve a servant role of making the main parties more accountable.

dlw

Taras said...

I wish we had a cadre of servant leaders in our current cohort with which to meet Clinton’s request:)

One way or the other, most politics falls into the selfish category. Of course, your democracy serves the people in ways ours doesn’t. Still, it does require comprehensive reform. I support your call for greater local activism. It offers the best avenue for shaking up the system bottom-up and for firing up the two main players to do more for the American people.

By the way, who will you vote for President?

David said...

I currently support Obama for the Dem presidential nominee and will likely vote either Dem or Green in the presidential election. Of course, Idaho is a very conservative state, so it won't matter too much if I am still there...

I am hopeful that the Green party might take the advice of me and another activist and champion a single-party issue like the Basic Income Guarantee, which is a progressive version of the flat tax. Everyone who is a citizen gets a fixed income transfer regardless of how much they earn and then pays a fixed percentage of income earned in taxes. This gets rid of all of the exemptions currently in our system, since they are very complicated and serve to help those who can afford a good accountant to avoid paying a good portion of their taxes. It also is a more efficient way to reduce poverty and ensure overall greater income stability/ consumption.

So if the Green party champions this single issue then I will support them and hopefully they will use that quasi-strategic voting idea I mentioned before to force one of the main party candidates to take on and commit to the income tax reform.

dlw

Taras said...

I’ve always admired how Americans talk taxes. I wish we Ukrainians had at least ten percent of your grasp of what we as taxpayers should give to our government and what we should get in return.

For practical reasons, I’d rather vote Democrat. As I understand, the Green Party doesn’t stand a chance in this election. It’s a Dem/Rep thing, isn’t it?

David said...

I call them Pubs...

Yes, it is "unlikely" that a third party candidate will get elected, though Bloomberg, a billionaire who was/is mayor of NYC, could possibly take advantage of strong anti-main party sentiment.

I think we focus too much on getting elected. I think a third party candidate could become a king-maker if they were willing to put aside their ego and focus on a specific issue of great import and wide-spread appeal but that is being neglected by the main parties. There are a number of such issues.

I think knowledge of public finance is not rocket science, but something that a college educated person is more likely to have. Its been around for sometime... Us USAmericans, we are not impressed with high marginal income tax rates that are never enforced well. We value decentralization in decision-making and so it matters to keep the "marginal income tax rates" lower. I'd like 30%, so long as they were supplemented by Land Value Taxes or more Euro-style taxes on nonrenewables like oil and pollution emissions. I'd also like to see taxes on most advertisements(and subsidies for those advertisements of organizations that help the two-thirds world) and contributions to politicos...

You learn with time about the sorts of options that exist for how you structure the institutions of your country. This can cause more conflict or people can learn to negotiate better and get beyond simple slogans, such as those against higher taxes. It can be a good thing to raise taxes on "bads" so as to lower taxes on "goods". It can be a good thing for the federal gov't to serve as a form of social insurance that reduces the variability of income and mitigates seriously the risk of serious poverty.
dlw

Taras said...

David, we’re light years away economically:) (sigh) If I were to relocate to America, I’d need “Taxes for Dummies” right away.

The "two-thirds world" is an apt term indeed, but I don’t want my country booked in that category forever.

We paid our dues: we had the Holodomor; we had industrialization; we had privatization. We went from an agrarian society to one of aerospace technology — and paid a heavy price for it.

And yet we have millions of Ukrainians living in 19th-century conditions. That’s not fair.

Anyway, I wish Americans good luck in electing a president that will best represent their interests and will treat the world as an equal:)

David said...

I'm still praying for a miracle softening and spinning of the heart of George W Bush to more brokenness over his failures as president.

He has the power to do something that's never been done before, to admit that he has failed openly while in office and step down from power.

I don't think we can afford to have a lame-duck with no credibility for the next couple years...

dlw

Taras said...

Don’t waste your chance to elect a better president! At the end of the day, we’re all in this together.

David said...

Oh, he'll be replaced, alright.

I'm trying to take a higher view, one that is consistent with the higher emph I naturally put on conversion over accomodation....

dlw

Taras said...

That's right. The only viable compromise starts with change.

David said...

yes, but what sorts of changes shd we be aiming for????

I am hopeful that a PoR led more by Akhmetov will be a good move for Ukrainian political culture...

I also am glad for the centrism of Schwarzenegger and Crist, gov'rs of Calif and Florida and how they are bringing about changes in the Republican party. Even George Bush, by virtue of his steadfastness in unpopular causes and faux certainty is bringing about changes in the Republican party. People are going to be pissed and fissures are going to rupture significantly...
dlw

Taras said...

Ukrainian political culture will be much better off if people with conflict of interest stay away from it, period.

We can’t go looking for Schwarzeneggers and Bloombergs when there aren’t any.

Wake up, David! This is not America:)

David said...

Schwarzeneggers and Bloombergs and Crists do have conflicts of interersts. They are serving the financially well off. They also are making needed reforms.

Expecting politicians not to have conflicts of interests problems is high idealism, which doesn't mean that it isn't a problem.

I'm saying pick your battles and allow that a somewhat converted PoR is a step in the right direction for political reform in Ukraine.

dlw