Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Today's Agreements and Disagreements with Politics and Pundits in Ukraine and the US

+/-- An interesting British television report on the gas crisis (via abdymok, thanx!) that makes some of the points that I have made about the gas deal, but in a way that I would not have here.
The reports is a bit too harsh on Yushchenko; much too trusting of Tymoshenko (I may agree with her points, but she has now become a person of ambition, not principle, in my eyes, and so listening to her, I think to myself, "Ok, yeah, yeah, yeah. . .); and where the hell did they get the rankings that rated the Ukrainian people as the most miserable on earth today?

The report in the end is way too pessimistic, rather given to journalistic hyperbole for the sake of good story. There have been significant, positive changes in the last year for which the YuGov does deserve credit. But I do agree with the report's author to the effect that Yushchenko handled Putin's Russia in too meak a way during the gas crisis. It is good for Ukraine to move away from "feudal barter schemes," but in this way? By being bullied by Russia and involving questionable companies?

+ Kyiv Post op ed
here calling for Ukraine's elite to make clear why RusUkrEnergo is necessary.

- I am not at all surprised that I disagree with yet another Kyiv Post editorial
(I am 50-50 about this paper's editorials), this one dealing with the language issue in Ukraine.

There is no way that Ukrainian will ever gain the proper ground that it deserves in the country without the involvement of the state. But the people at the Kyiv Post tend to be very anti-State, laissez-faire capitalist in the main. The market will work things out. No one should be made to speak or understand Ukrainian.

The market will never work things out in favor of the Ukrainian language, at least not for now. Ukrainian language versions of the same Western books are more expensive than the Russian translations because the Russian book market is bigger and Russian-language publishers have more capital. Ukraine can get its Russian language variants from Russia. The only way for this to change is either for the Ukrainian government to subsidize Ukrainian bookpublishing, or to make mandates. The situation is similar regarding the import of Western films to Ukraine. It's easier and cheaper to get to movie theaters, and onto DVD, Hollywood films dubbed in Russian from Russia, than to have them dubbed in Ukrainian. So either subsidize a Ukrainian film-dubbing industry, or mandate that 70% of Western films must come to Ukraine dubbed in Ukrainian. SO what if there is a black market? There already is one. At least more films will be coming out in Ukrainian, and films in movie theaters will be in Ukrainian, too. Wow!

Being pro-Ukrainian language is not anti-Russian; it is merely to ask that the government do something so that those in Ukraine whose primary language is Russian learn to speak, read, write, and understand Ukrainian as well as those whose primary language is Ukrainian can do all those things in Russian. Only an activist state will ever break the market deadlock on Russian variants.

But back to the movie theaters: the importers of Western films to Ukraine could do what they do in Latvia does. There is no dubbing of Western films in theaters. Western films are played in their original languages with BOTH Russian and Latvian subtitles. If a tiny country of barely 2.3 million people (33% of whose population is Russian, and maybe up to 40% of whose population uses Russian as its primary language) can manage to do this, Ukraine certianly can. But the state must mandate it, as it does in Latvia. Sure there are lots of Russian-language DVDs that are cheaper than Latvian ones, but the movies in theaters are in the subtitled in the NATIONAL as well as the second most common language, and this makes a big difference; and there are, albeit more expensive, Latvian versions that are at least available to a much greater degree than one can find Ukrainian versions in Ukraine. So the next step would be to subsidize the Latvian (or our Ukrainian) versions.

But the Kyiv Post folks would probably regard the Latvian language laws as illiberal.

- Bush's State of the Union Address, rush transcript: I'm gonna spy on you because I, just like Nixon, believe in a system that is drunk on and based on abuse of executive power. (By the way, I quite admire what Putin is up to within his own country; as I once said, "there is no doubt that dictatorship would be easier." The press thought I was joking, but secretly I wasn't. Putin's executive power-drunk behavior has consitutional legitimacy over there in Russia, and well, our Patriot Acts take us in the right direction of legitimizing my exercise of greater executive power through legal fiat, which, by the way, is why I need Alito, because I need someone who interprets the issue of executive authority in contradiction to the constitution the way I do, so I can be more like my buddy Putin). And I will say to you today a bunch of other nonsensical things, such as how war in the Middle East is making us safer, even though there has been an increase in incidents of so-called terrorism inspite of (or because of, but I won't admit that) our actions in the world, blah blah blah. . .

-/+ Alito's approval: American democracy growing sicker? He's a right wing, activist judge pure and simple, despite claims to objectivity. Biggest evidence for this: He'd never been picked by this administration otherwise. Each and every nominee of the Bush administration must be seen in the proper context, i.e., that they are nominated by a very ideologically (i.e., neoconservative) driven and polarizing administration. The calls for bipartisanship by this administration always ring hollow, since by bipartisanship they mean no opposition and total capitulation to their agenda goals.

But at least the Democrats put on one of the bigger shows of opposition to the administration than the spineless and directionless lot of them usually do. . .

+++Julija, my daughter, really enjoyed moving her little legs as I helped her walk by holding her steady under her arms; with each step, she yelped with joy. . .

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