Anne Applebaum (I have always enjoyed her columns and historical analysis) writes a must read in today's Washington Post comparing the Ukrainian election with 1946 Poland elections that solidified Soviet domination after a fraudulent election. Her key graph:
To the West, the democracies of Western and Central Europe will remain more or less stable members of the European Union and NATO. To the east, Russia will control the "managed democracies" of the former U.S.S.R., keeping the media muzzled, elections massaged and the economies in thrall to a handful of mostly Russian billionaires. Using primarily economic means -- control over oil pipelines, corrupt investment funds, shady companies -- the Russians may even, like their Soviet predecessors, begin to work at undermining Western stability.
I am not sure that I see Russia having a growing ability to thwart the West, but I think her concept of "Managed Democracies" is succinct. Allowing Russia to continue to increase its regional hegemon status will only continue to strangle Western investment and ultimately economic and political change for its former states.
Will there be a possibility of new (fair) elections? Maybe I am being too naive. The world is watching and the Ukrainians are in the streets. Let's pray for their sake and ours that freedom rings from Kiev.
Instapundit has a good link to first hand reports back from Ukraine from election monitor and former Congressman Bob Schaffer. If his reports are correct, Russian Special Forces have flown into the country, dressed as Ukrainian forces, and are "defending" the presidential palace.
While Russia has an impressive history of involving itself in its neighbor's affairs, this is not a good sign. The strong US response that "the United States stands with the Ukrainian people in this difficult time" will hopefully be followed up with quiet diplomacy stressing to Russia and to Ukraine, that fair elections are to be expected in the former Soviet Union.
May justice prevail, and democracy's voice be heard.
I just received it today. Must say I was pleased with the service and price of the camera. I bought the Nikon D70 in a package deal called the Nikon Double Lens Executive Kit. The price is $1,593 with $170 in Nikon rebates ($1,423 total). The kit includes:
NikonD70 Digital SLR Camera Body
Nikon28-100 f3.5-5.6 G AF zoom nikkor lens
Nikon70-300/4-5.6D ED ZOOM AF NIKKOR
Digital Concepts 62mm Deluxe Filter Kit (3 Filters)
High-Speed1GB Compact Flash Memory Card
SpecialHigh Speed Compact Flash Card Reader
Sakar1300mAh EN-EL3 Lithium Battery
Camera Screen Protectors
3pc. Lens Cleaning Kit
Now I have to learn to use it! My wife and are excited to have it before the holidays. After I have something worth showing, I will put up a photo album.
Outgoing President Loenid Kuchma has said negotations will take place among the parties concerning the election outcome. I was glad to see this AP report:
"The startling development in the three-day standoff came as the Bush administration urged the Ukrainian government not to certify results of Sunday's runoff election results that showed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, backed by Kuchma, defeating the Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko.
"The United States is deeply concerned by extensive and credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.
The United States stepped in the promote democracy which will protect our credibility and hopefully build goodwill among the Ukrainians looking for fairness and accountability in electing their own government. Let us hope that the current government has gotten the message.
The Economist (subscription required) describes dubious elections best:
"Leading the protest was Ukraine's pro-western opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, for whom exit polls had predicted a comfortable win. Instead, the country's electoral commission announced that the winner, by a margin of three percentage points, was Viktor Yanukovich, currently Ukraine's prime minister, who was backed by both the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, and Russia's leader, Vladimir Putin. America, the European Union and other international observers have denounced the election as a fraud, while an official Russian observer said it was “legitimate”.
Over 200,000 people have taken to the streets to protest, what they believe to be a staged election for Yanukovich on behalf of the ruling government. Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian opposition candidate took a symbolic "oath of office" after not having a quorum in parliament to pass a no confidence vote against the Central Election Commission.
The events in Ukraine demonstrate again the importance of fair elections, and the belief in the former Soviet Union that personal protest can bring change. I have not been following the election crisis close enough to know which way I think this will all turn out, but the Ukrainian Government surely has a legitimacy issue on its hand.
Democracy must be encouraged by the US. If we fail to defend free and fair elections our credibility in Iraq will suffer as well. Watch for the US response, and if the Ukrainians increase their protest in size and voice.
I missed seeing Billy Graham at the Rose Bowl. However, I was fortunate to see him in San Diego a few years back with my wife and mom. My Grandmother, took me along with my dad to see Billy Graham in Anaheim as a child. I have never had greater respect for a man in ministry than I have for Billy Graham. He is the gold standard of a good servant.
Never one for political controversy, sexual indiscretion or cultural flap, he has been a vocal and enthusiastic proclaimer of the gospels. He encourages people at his crusades to admit their failings (sin), as he has done and look to a higher power for purpose and direction in life.
Often described as a counselor to Presidents, Billy leaves his second to last crusade with a tremdendous legacy. Not only has he inspired millions searching for hope in this world, he influenced the re-commitment to faith of George W. Bush. His humble and simple sermons, straight to the heart of the listener have made a tremendous difference on countless lives, from all walks of life.
Bush the Unilateralist wins $31 Billion in debt forgiveness for Iraq from the Paris Club. A remarkable achievement and a realization by all western countries of the need to work together to bring able a stable Iraq. Now it is time for this example to encourage the Arab states to follow suit. Bush, having won another term, has an opportunity to take his victory of western debt relief and press the Arabs to help out a neighbor.
Hopefully this will be well received by the Iraqi people, lend more support to the Allawi government, and help further create investment opportunities in a more stable Iraq. Economic stability, will decrease the reasons for the insurgency and ultimately help pave the way for stable elections in January.
Marriage may be one of the most important decision of a person's life. It is one of the few relationships that we choose to carry us through a lifetime. It is also the one we can often neglect to maintain if we are not careful. Working harder on the job, focusing more on one's hobbies, spending time with friends can all be easier to do than investing in a marriage. However, few things are as rewarding as a solid marriage. My wife knows my flaws, she sees them up close and loves me with depth and feeling.
My wife in I believe in putting regular effort into making our marriage stronger. Before we moved to be near the ocean and family, we attended Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. We belonged to a large group of young (we liked to think of ourselves this way) married couples. One of our annual retreats is to Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs. Our speaker is Dr. Dave Carder, who is a Pastor at a church in Fullerton. By coincidence, we went to him for pre-marriage counseling. He is exceptional at motivating and teaching clear communication sytles between people. He has written several books as well.
We look forward to seeing our friends, building on our marriage and enjoying a beautiful weekend in Palm Springs.
I know next to nothing about digital photography. I am eager to learn, especially now that we have a new member of our family on the way. We had been making due with an older film camera and disposable film cameras as we waited for technology to improve and costs to go down. My wife and I really like the Nikon SLR D70. Glenn Reynolds has written about it often with glowing reviews.
So we ordered it today with two Nikon lenses and hope to have it before Thanksgiving. I look forward to putting online a photo album of pictures.