Boring Old American Politics
Thursday May 22, 2014
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From The Amsterdam, The Netherlands
En Route The Kiev, The Ukraine
Yes. You read that correctly. I'm en route Ukraine. The official Galen Family travel rules only allow me to go to places that are served by regularly scheduled Western airlines. As luck would have it, KLM has daily Amsterdam-Kiev flights, so I fell under the rule
The short answer as to why I'm going is: I am a member of the International Election Observer Mission for Ukraine's presidential election scheduled for Sunday May 25.
The International Election Observer Mission not the official name and I don't think the words are supposed to be capitalized but I did it so I could do this: If you use the acronym - IEOM - and try to pronounced it, you end up sounding very much like an Australian didgeridoo (DIDGE-er-ee-DO).
Alternatively you will sound like Eliza Doolittle practicing her enunciation in Henry Higgins' (HIGG-ins) study.
The long answer as to why I'm going is: Exactly the same.
This is an apt time to talk about elections in places like Ukraine because of the elections in a place like the United States that occurred on Tuesday.
We have become fond of saying that politics in America has become so ugly, that voters don't even want to participate.
Our version of "ugly elections" and emerging democracies' versions of "ugly elections" are not quite the same.
The reason Ukraine is holding an election is because the previously elected President, Viktor Yanukovych (YAN-oo-KOH-vitch), was hounded out of office after he reneged on a deal to cozy up to the EU, which was favored by a large majority of Ukranians living in the Western two-thirds of the country.
After close consultation with Vladimir Putin, Yanukovych decided if there was to be any cozying-up going on, it would be with Moscow, not with Brussels.
Flash, bam, Yanukovych high-tails it to Russia and a temporary government was installed by the Ukrainian Parliament. That temporary government is headed by Olexander Turchynov (SMITH) who promised to hold elections as quickly as possible to allow the people to choose the President.
"As quickly as possible" has been defined as May 25.
Meanwhile in Egypt, a Presidential election is also being readied to authenticate the government there which has been largely a junta run by the Army Generals after they tossed out the guy (Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi ) who had won the election that was held after the previously elected President, Hosni Mubaric, had been tossed by many of those same Generals.
But wait! There's more!
Another "Arab Spring" nation, Libya - you might not even have been aware of this given the coverage devoted to the whole Jay Z-Solange Bowles elevator fight - saw their fledgling democracy collapse over the past week.
I'm not going into the whole Benghazi tragedy again, but it does play into the current crisis. According to the Washington Post, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whom the Post describes as "a mysterious, maverick military commander" organized strikes in Benghazi as well as the capital, Tripoli.
Over the weekend again, according to the Post:
"Gunmen loyal to Haftar stormed parliament on Sunday; the assembly was soon declared 'dissolved.' (Parliament intends to convene on Tuesday.) It is assumed Haftar and his allies considered some of the country's politicians in Tripoli to be too close to Islamist elements."
Who knows how that will play out.
Wanna skip to the other side of the planet? Ok, let's do.
According to CNN, early Tuesday morning, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha went on Thai television to announce he was imposing "martial law," in the country but declared "this is not a coup."
The fact that he chose to do this at 3 AM, meant many, many people did not hear or see these declarations.
General Chan-Ocha installed "Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan" (you're on your own) to be the caretaker Prime Minister replacing the previous caretaker Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra (sin-AH-tra - Oh, I think I read that wrong).
Whew. I'm exhausted.
Back in the good ole U.S. of A. there were a bunch of primaries that pitted establishment Republicans against Tea Party challengers on Tuesday night.
Chief among these was the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky that featured the Republican Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell against Matt Bevin. McConnell sailed to an easy victory winning with 60 percent of the vote.
The general feeling is that the establishment had a good night, but National Journal's Ron Fournier said "I didn't see any moderates nominated yesterday. This is a party that has been moved further to the right by the Tea Party."
Mebbe So. Mebbe so. But, compared to a wide swath of the rest of the world, the American version of democracy is doing just fine.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to Ukraine, Libya, Egypt & Thailand in addition to a link to the didgeridoo and a summary of Tuesday night's election via Dave Espo of the Associated Press.
The Mullfoto is of my encampment at the Detroit Airport waiting for my plane overseas.
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