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Russia Elections 2018: Elections as Regime Referendums
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Conventional wisdom on the Russian elections:

Positive interpretation: Russian elections give Russians more real ideological choice (conservative centrists, Communists, nationalists, liberals) than American ones (conservative neoliberals, liberal neoliberals).

Negative interpretation: Putin and the party of power are assured of winning through overwhelming administrative resources, state media, and a side of electoral fraud. The other parties coordinate their candidates and campaigns with the Presidential Administration. It’s a meaningless farce.

There are elements of truth to both (though as we’ll see they’re also both substantially wrong).

Still, there’s one general, undisputed point – United Russia, Putin, “The Kremlin” wins. It has done so uninterruptedly since 2000 (or since 1991 so far as the Presidency is concerned).

So what’s the point of voting?

Think of the Russian political system as a series of concentric circles.

map-metro-2033

Map of Metro 2033.
Polis = The Kremlin.
Difference from the book/video game: The Red Line commies and Fourth Reich nationalists share the circle line with Hanseatic League neolibs.
Political marginals (anarchists, Neo-Nazis, The Cult of the Great Worm, etc.) are all located beyond the circle line.

1. The Kremlin and its denizens are in the center (Putin, the silovarchs, the Ozera coop, etc., etc.), much like the medieval fortress is literally in the center of Moscow.

The majority of Russians are basically fine with this system. Its approval rate can be proxied by Putin’s approval rate, which has consistently ranged from 60%-80% during 2000-2017. Academic research shows that these ratings are perfectly “deep” and legitimate. It is periodically “validated” through Putin’s and United Russia’s electoral triumphs.

2. The systemic opposition is arraigned around the Kremlin, and is in turn split up into three segments – the Communists, the nationalists, and the liberals.

While the Communists and nationalists massively outnumber the liberals, the liberals have by far the greater mobilization potential on the streets, the most formidable human capital, and the most significant support from the West.

Relations with the center are civil. Some openly coordinate with the Kremlin, and are even induced into its halls, though rarely into the innermost sanctums (e.g. the nationalist Rogozin, most of the economic liberal bloc). Some oppose the Kremlin, but only from within the system, and tend to defer to it when it insists – this functionally describes all the current Duma parties. However, it is not inconceivable that they would grow buntive in a crisis situation – the closest example we have of this is during the 2011 opposition protests, when Fair Russia briefly showed tantalizing signs of having drifted towards “serious” opposition.

In the 2018 Presidential elections, they are represented thus: Communists – Grudinin; nationalists – Zhirinovsky; liberals – probably Sobchak*.

Why would you vote for any of them? Certainly not because they have any chances of winning.

However, the Kremlin is very much interested in remaining popular. They don’t pay any less attention to opinion polls than classical Western democracies, even if their goals are different (winning elections in the West; detecting simmering discontent in Russia and maximizing the Kremlin’s results in “validating” referendums, i.e. “elections”). To do this successfully, the Kremlin must not only maintain some minimal degree of competence at running the country, but it must also try to remain at the ideological center of the Russian belief space, so as not to allow too many dissatisfied voters to cluster at any particular ideological node. It does this by shifting policy towards that node.

Here is how this translates in practical Russian politics:

A vote for “The Kremlin”, i.e. Putin (/United Russia) = a vote of confidence in the regime.

Grudinin (/KPRF) = shift Left on economic policy and nationality policy.

Zhirinovsky (/LDPR) = shift Right on nationality policy.

Sobchak (/liberals) = shift Left on social policy and on nationality policy; shift Right on economic policy.

In some ways, the resulting equilibrium is remarkably democratic – a sort of “coherent extrapolated volition” of the distilled will of the Russian people (well, unless oligarch interests, institutional resistance, embedded ideological blinkers, etc. get in the way; in Russia as elsewhere, politics is the art of the possible).

moscow-deus-ex

The future’s bright, the future’s black and orange.

This explains the paradox of why I am likely to vote for Zhirinovsky in 2018, even though I consider Putin to be the objectively superior Russian ruler (considerable dissatisfaction with some of his policies regardless). The way I see it, I will merely be doing my very small part to help nudge Russia in the direction of the Russian National State, even though I have no great expectations that it will reach that destination under the Kremlin’s current occupants.

3. The outermost circle contains the political outcasts. This includes figures who are fundamentally opposed to the Kremlin, which doesn’t hesitate to return them the favor.

This includes the non-systemic liberal opposition, which is now completely dominated by Navalny; former doyens such as Khodorkovsky, Milov, Kasparov, etc., etc. have long faded into insignificance. It includes anti-Kremlin nationalists – pro-Ukrainian nationalists, Neo-Nazis, National Bolsheviks back when Eduard Limonov was still in the opposition. It includes genuinely revolutionary leftists such as Sergey Udaltsov/Left Front, and various anarchist groups such as Pussy Riot.

Do they act outside the system because there is no political space for them, or is there no political space for them because they act outside the system? I suppose this is a chicken and egg question.

They reject playing by the Kremlin’s rules, and just as the Kremlin doesn’t balk at operating in a “prerogative” fashion over and above the “constitutional” state**, so these marginal players assert the same privileges for themselves.

If they succeed, the resulting outcome will likely be termed a “color revolution.”

However, the very advantage of running a prerogative state in the first place is that it is not absolutely obligated to deal with these characters by the book.

For instance, by disallowing them from running in the elections on the basis of a fraud conviction marred by irregularities (not to mention dwarfed by the scale of the stealing going on every day in the Kremlin itself).

What do you, as a non-systemic oppositionist, do in this situation?

Color revolution isn’t a realistic choice – not when the Kremlin has an 80% approval rating and the support of all major institutions, including the siloviki.

You could also choose to support the “approved” politician whose values align most closely with your own. However, you don’t think she represents and articulates those values well, you think she is a puppet of a man whom you despite, and you firmly believe that you are the only person who can get the job done properly anyway.

Well, you call a boycott of the elections, and start planning on how to discredit them. As Navalny has just done.

I doubt this will be effective, at least in the short-term. Ordinary Russians don’t care – Kremlin approval is around 80%. The West no longer even pretends to respect Russian elections, but what can they do beyond what they are already doing? Turnout will be perhaps 5% points lower than it otherwise would be, and will hurt the liberals themselves more than anybody (Sobchak shares essentially the same electorate with Navalny, spurious claims that nationalists support him to any significant degree regardless). Hardly relevant for a political system where the average level of electoral fraud typically exceeds 5% points.

* I have yet to write in detail about Sobchak’s program, which was released a few days ago, but frankly, I’m not sure there’s any point. Main points: Major changes to the Constitution; gay marriage; marijuana legalization; a ban on justifying Stalin’s repressions; another referendum on the Crimea. Unelectable, of course. But if you want to nudge Russia in that general direction, no reason not to vote for her, unless you think Navalny’s strategy is better.

** To borrow some terms from Richard Sakwa’s “The Crisis of Russian Democracy.”

 
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  1. Mitleser says:

    So what’s the point of voting?

    Re-affirming the legitimacy of the ruling political establishment.

    More or less, the same is true in Germany.

    It includes genuinely revolutionary leftists such as Sergey Udaltsov/Left Front,

    They backed Grudinin for some reason.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    1. Udaltsov was strongly oppositionist in 2011-12 (one of the main organizers of the Bolotnaya protests along with Navalny; spent a few years in prison for it).

    2. Being non-systemically oppositionist doesn't preclude some degree of cooperation with non-systemic opposition.
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  2. Thinking about it, was I Russian, I might vote for Sobchak…

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  3. 5371 says:

    What does “human capital” even mean? The amount of money spent on your education? Your prospects of getting lucrative employment in the future? It seems like a concept that disintegrates under scrutiny.
    Also, I would have thought Navalny’s own prestige was lower than it had ever been in his public career.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Moscow districts analysis:

    https://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/moscow-elections-putin-phd.png

    ## % tertiary % PhD
    ## % tertiary 1.000 0.71
    ## % PhD 0.706 1.00
    ## Zhirinovsky -0.782 -0.82
    ## Zyuganov 0.085 0.17
    ## Mironov 0.098 0.23
    ## Prokhorov 0.832 0.83
    ## Putin -0.778 -0.81

    The dull vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky; the intelligent vote for liberals.

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation - maybe not so much their leaders, but their followers. They had the biggest protests, and are able to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in petitions (the nationalists were unable to gather a fraction of the signatures needed to make the Duma consider repealing Article 282).

    The amount of money spent on your education? Your prospects of getting lucrative employment in the future?
     
    Both of which are strongly and moderately correlated with IQ, respectively, in Russia as elsewhere.

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  4. @Mitleser

    So what’s the point of voting?
     
    Re-affirming the legitimacy of the ruling political establishment.

    More or less, the same is true in Germany.

    It includes genuinely revolutionary leftists such as Sergey Udaltsov/Left Front,
     
    They backed Grudinin for some reason.

    1. Udaltsov was strongly oppositionist in 2011-12 (one of the main organizers of the Bolotnaya protests along with Navalny; spent a few years in prison for it).

    2. Being non-systemically oppositionist doesn’t preclude some degree of cooperation with non-systemic opposition.

    Read More
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  5. @5371
    What does "human capital" even mean? The amount of money spent on your education? Your prospects of getting lucrative employment in the future? It seems like a concept that disintegrates under scrutiny.
    Also, I would have thought Navalny's own prestige was lower than it had ever been in his public career.

    Moscow districts analysis:

    ## % tertiary % PhD
    ## % tertiary 1.000 0.71
    ## % PhD 0.706 1.00
    ## Zhirinovsky -0.782 -0.82
    ## Zyuganov 0.085 0.17
    ## Mironov 0.098 0.23
    ## Prokhorov 0.832 0.83
    ## Putin -0.778 -0.81

    The dull vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky; the intelligent vote for liberals.

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation – maybe not so much their leaders, but their followers. They had the biggest protests, and are able to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in petitions (the nationalists were unable to gather a fraction of the signatures needed to make the Duma consider repealing Article 282).

    The amount of money spent on your education? Your prospects of getting lucrative employment in the future?

    Both of which are strongly and moderately correlated with IQ, respectively, in Russia as elsewhere.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Correlation not only isn't causation, it is also no substitute for definition. So does human capital mean simply IQ, or g, or whatever symbol we are using to represent intelligence?
    The reason why 282 is hard to get rid of is that most of the patriotic electorate supports it, thinking of its victims, as they do, as skinheads or others who don't honour victory in the VOV as they should.
    , @Mr. Hack

    The dull vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky; the intelligent vote for liberals.
     

    This explains the paradox of why I am likely to vote for Zhirinovsky in 2018, even though I consider Putin to be the objectively superior Russian ruler
     
    2+ 2 =4, Anatoly? :-)
    , @Anon
    Both the article and your comment suggest that you were in a coma since 2012. The reality is much more interesting and nuanced. In 2012 Putin had 40-45% support, which translated into huge Bolotnaya protests. BTW, the Kremlin showed its smarts, imprisoning those who were really dangerous for the regime (e.g., Udaltsov), while leaving cowardly posturing nonentities (e.g., Navalny, Sobchak) free. Nonetheless, the dynamics were frightening for the Kremlin: Putin’s popularity, which surged in the early 2000s because he started restoring Russia after Yeltsin years, when it was run by thieves and greedy traitors, kept going down. This made considerable voter fraud of 2012 necessary to ensure his victory.
    Then in 2014 the US and its European vassals made him a gift: organized a coup in Kiev, using Nazi storm troopers of Pravy Sector and the financing by amazingly shortsighted and incredibly greedy Ukrainian elites. The ensuing collapse of Ukraine had several consequences. Good for Russia: the popularity of nationalists nosedived, as the coup in Ukraine showed how the nationalism with primeval tribal overtones ruins any country. Bad for Russia: by retaking Crimea, with widespread support of the local population, he gained a lot of credit in the eyes of most Russians. He gained even more by supporting Donbass against Kiev Nazis. That gave him that genuine 60-80% support in Russia, whereas his internal policies are quite unpopular. The consensus on many Russian forums (which, BTW, are a lot more pluralistic than comment sections of pretty much all Western MSM, even those, that, unlike the Guardian, did not essentially kill their comments sections) is that a lot can be forgiven for Crimea. Thus, many people are reluctant to criticize his economic policy and his support for high-ranking thieves, which they detest, because they see him as a leader who withstands the pressure from the US and successfully foils many American ventures (Syria is a good example). By overusing its “color revolution” scenario the US made “color revolution” in Russia impossible. Besides, the US further undermined its credibility by the use of the same “sniper gambit” in Saraevo, Deraa, and Kiev. You must be really dumb (or a Ukrainian) to miss the obvious: there must be the same “screenwriter” behind these carbon-copy plots.
    Bottom line is, Russia needs credible opposition, not the traitors who get their money and marching orders at the US Embassy. However, until the external pressure eases, true opposition is unlikely to get a significant popular support in Russia. It’s Newton's third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Apparently, Western leaders never progressed even to the elementary physics. A pity.
    , @ussr andy

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation
     
    there are plenty of people who are neither liberal nor high-trust (in their natural environment) nor have even that high of a human capital, among minorities, who are capable of lightning-fast coordination and great collective action.
    I think the problem is that liberalism is sexy whereas nationalism is not. there's always gonna be more cooperation among elites than among helots. if you keep telling people for decades their worldview is backward/genocidal/selfish/illegitimate and their grievances contrived and they should just snap out of it, they aren't gonna be as pro-social.
    the alt-right makes faint efforts to fix this ("cuck", "soy boy") but unless nationalism becomes sexy and nationalism isn't by default associated with vatnikicism and betaness, the future is bleak.
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  6. 5371 says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Moscow districts analysis:

    https://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/moscow-elections-putin-phd.png

    ## % tertiary % PhD
    ## % tertiary 1.000 0.71
    ## % PhD 0.706 1.00
    ## Zhirinovsky -0.782 -0.82
    ## Zyuganov 0.085 0.17
    ## Mironov 0.098 0.23
    ## Prokhorov 0.832 0.83
    ## Putin -0.778 -0.81

    The dull vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky; the intelligent vote for liberals.

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation - maybe not so much their leaders, but their followers. They had the biggest protests, and are able to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in petitions (the nationalists were unable to gather a fraction of the signatures needed to make the Duma consider repealing Article 282).

    The amount of money spent on your education? Your prospects of getting lucrative employment in the future?
     
    Both of which are strongly and moderately correlated with IQ, respectively, in Russia as elsewhere.

    Correlation not only isn’t causation, it is also no substitute for definition. So does human capital mean simply IQ, or g, or whatever symbol we are using to represent intelligence?
    The reason why 282 is hard to get rid of is that most of the patriotic electorate supports it, thinking of its victims, as they do, as skinheads or others who don’t honour victory in the VOV as they should.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Human capital is the knowledge, skills, etc. that enable the production of economic value. Both IQ and education are important to its formation.

    Despite being a small percentage of the Russian population, this allows the Russian liberals to be influential far beyond their numbers. Largest pro-liberal oligarch: Khodorkovsky. Who do the nationalists have? Malofeev? WSince it determines success in many other areas of life, it also determines media influence.

    ... most of the patriotic electorate supports it.
     
    Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech - all traits characteristic of less intelligent people.
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  7. @5371
    Correlation not only isn't causation, it is also no substitute for definition. So does human capital mean simply IQ, or g, or whatever symbol we are using to represent intelligence?
    The reason why 282 is hard to get rid of is that most of the patriotic electorate supports it, thinking of its victims, as they do, as skinheads or others who don't honour victory in the VOV as they should.

    Human capital is the knowledge, skills, etc. that enable the production of economic value. Both IQ and education are important to its formation.

    Despite being a small percentage of the Russian population, this allows the Russian liberals to be influential far beyond their numbers. Largest pro-liberal oligarch: Khodorkovsky. Who do the nationalists have? Malofeev? WSince it determines success in many other areas of life, it also determines media influence.

    … most of the patriotic electorate supports it.

    Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech – all traits characteristic of less intelligent people.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mitleser

    ...vindictiveness...
     
    As if more intelligent people are less vindictive...
    , @5371
    So we can only tell how much human capital there was by how much money it produces? Can we know that in advance, or even afterwards? How much human capital is embodied in G. Perelman, for example, who not lacking in intelligence or education has gone out of his way to produce as little "economic value" as possible? How will we tease out the causality involved in hauling in a high income or accumulating considerable wealth? Should a society see to it that its members are educated with an exclusive concentration on money making?

    [Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech – all traits characteristic of less intelligent people]

    It me.
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  8. Mitleser says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Human capital is the knowledge, skills, etc. that enable the production of economic value. Both IQ and education are important to its formation.

    Despite being a small percentage of the Russian population, this allows the Russian liberals to be influential far beyond their numbers. Largest pro-liberal oligarch: Khodorkovsky. Who do the nationalists have? Malofeev? WSince it determines success in many other areas of life, it also determines media influence.

    ... most of the patriotic electorate supports it.
     
    Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech - all traits characteristic of less intelligent people.

    …vindictiveness…

    As if more intelligent people are less vindictive…

    Read More
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  9. 5371 says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Human capital is the knowledge, skills, etc. that enable the production of economic value. Both IQ and education are important to its formation.

    Despite being a small percentage of the Russian population, this allows the Russian liberals to be influential far beyond their numbers. Largest pro-liberal oligarch: Khodorkovsky. Who do the nationalists have? Malofeev? WSince it determines success in many other areas of life, it also determines media influence.

    ... most of the patriotic electorate supports it.
     
    Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech - all traits characteristic of less intelligent people.

    So we can only tell how much human capital there was by how much money it produces? Can we know that in advance, or even afterwards? How much human capital is embodied in G. Perelman, for example, who not lacking in intelligence or education has gone out of his way to produce as little “economic value” as possible? How will we tease out the causality involved in hauling in a high income or accumulating considerable wealth? Should a society see to it that its members are educated with an exclusive concentration on money making?

    [Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech – all traits characteristic of less intelligent people]

    It me.

    Read More
    • Replies: @S3

    So we can only tell how much human capital there was by how much money it produces?
     
    Do you know what statistical correlation is? If not, a good textbook Bertsekas and Tsitsiklis is freely available.

    How will we tease out the causality involved in hauling in a high income or accumulating considerable wealth?
     
    Nobody knows the causality from genes to intelligence. So why worry about super-babies?

    Should a society see to it that its members are educated with an exclusive concentration on money making?
     
    Before the industrial revolution, society saw to it that its members were educated with an exclusive concentration on feeding themselves.

    Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech – all traits characteristic of less intelligent people
     
    Intelligent people are harder to control. Or over-awe. Whatever your definition of leadership is.
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  10. Mr. Hack says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Moscow districts analysis:

    https://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/moscow-elections-putin-phd.png

    ## % tertiary % PhD
    ## % tertiary 1.000 0.71
    ## % PhD 0.706 1.00
    ## Zhirinovsky -0.782 -0.82
    ## Zyuganov 0.085 0.17
    ## Mironov 0.098 0.23
    ## Prokhorov 0.832 0.83
    ## Putin -0.778 -0.81

    The dull vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky; the intelligent vote for liberals.

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation - maybe not so much their leaders, but their followers. They had the biggest protests, and are able to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in petitions (the nationalists were unable to gather a fraction of the signatures needed to make the Duma consider repealing Article 282).

    The amount of money spent on your education? Your prospects of getting lucrative employment in the future?
     
    Both of which are strongly and moderately correlated with IQ, respectively, in Russia as elsewhere.

    The dull vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky; the intelligent vote for liberals.

    This explains the paradox of why I am likely to vote for Zhirinovsky in 2018, even though I consider Putin to be the objectively superior Russian ruler

    2+ 2 =4, Anatoly? :-)

    Read More
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  11. S3 says:
    @5371
    So we can only tell how much human capital there was by how much money it produces? Can we know that in advance, or even afterwards? How much human capital is embodied in G. Perelman, for example, who not lacking in intelligence or education has gone out of his way to produce as little "economic value" as possible? How will we tease out the causality involved in hauling in a high income or accumulating considerable wealth? Should a society see to it that its members are educated with an exclusive concentration on money making?

    [Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech – all traits characteristic of less intelligent people]

    It me.

    So we can only tell how much human capital there was by how much money it produces?

    Do you know what statistical correlation is? If not, a good textbook Bertsekas and Tsitsiklis is freely available.

    How will we tease out the causality involved in hauling in a high income or accumulating considerable wealth?

    Nobody knows the causality from genes to intelligence. So why worry about super-babies?

    Should a society see to it that its members are educated with an exclusive concentration on money making?

    Before the industrial revolution, society saw to it that its members were educated with an exclusive concentration on feeding themselves.

    Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech – all traits characteristic of less intelligent people

    Intelligent people are harder to control. Or over-awe. Whatever your definition of leadership is.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    [Do you know what statistical correlation is? If not, a good textbook Bertsekas and Tsitsiklis is freely available.]
    Impertinent nonsense. Any number of qualities individual and collective correlate to varying degrees with personal or general prosperity.
    [Nobody knows the causality from genes to intelligence. So why worry about super-babies?]
    No reasonable person could have thought that was what I was referring to. I took the person as given and asked what made him rich.
    [Before the industrial revolution, society saw to it that its members were educated with an exclusive concentration on feeding themselves.]
    Either so vague as to be meaningless, or obviously false.
    [Intelligent people are harder to control. Or over-awe. Whatever your definition of leadership is.]
    Far from clear. They need to be controlled by different methods, certainly.
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  12. Beckow says:

    Modern elections in large countries are symbolic. They are all a form of a ‘referendum on a regime‘. The choices are very circumscribed, the process is silly, and the result is more amusing than significant. People voting for Trump, Brexit, Macron, etc… all sent a message. Other than endlessly discussing this ‘message’, not much has changed, or could change.

    In Russia’s case, the coming World Cup is a more significant event than the elections. West has to somehow scuttle the World Cup, make sure it is not a success, that people don’t see Russia, make sure Russia gets minimum publicity. That might range from Sochi-like ‘toilet doesn’t flush’ to pretending that nothing is happening. Industrious ‘NGO”s’ are brainstorming round-the-clock on the lists of events, controversies, ‘street interviews’ and animal suffering stories to present during the World Cup. Compared to that the routine elections are a non-story.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bukephalos
    actually a geopolitical provocation is likely
    War in Georgia: same day as the opening of Beijing Olympics
    Coup d'Etat in Kiev: a day before Sochi's closing ceremony
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  13. 5371 says:
    @S3

    So we can only tell how much human capital there was by how much money it produces?
     
    Do you know what statistical correlation is? If not, a good textbook Bertsekas and Tsitsiklis is freely available.

    How will we tease out the causality involved in hauling in a high income or accumulating considerable wealth?
     
    Nobody knows the causality from genes to intelligence. So why worry about super-babies?

    Should a society see to it that its members are educated with an exclusive concentration on money making?
     
    Before the industrial revolution, society saw to it that its members were educated with an exclusive concentration on feeding themselves.

    Implying authoritarianism, vindictiveness, lack of concern for freedom of speech – all traits characteristic of less intelligent people
     
    Intelligent people are harder to control. Or over-awe. Whatever your definition of leadership is.

    [Do you know what statistical correlation is? If not, a good textbook Bertsekas and Tsitsiklis is freely available.]
    Impertinent nonsense. Any number of qualities individual and collective correlate to varying degrees with personal or general prosperity.
    [Nobody knows the causality from genes to intelligence. So why worry about super-babies?]
    No reasonable person could have thought that was what I was referring to. I took the person as given and asked what made him rich.
    [Before the industrial revolution, society saw to it that its members were educated with an exclusive concentration on feeding themselves.]
    Either so vague as to be meaningless, or obviously false.
    [Intelligent people are harder to control. Or over-awe. Whatever your definition of leadership is.]
    Far from clear. They need to be controlled by different methods, certainly.

    Read More
    • Replies: @S3
    [No reasonable person could have thought that was what I was referring to. I took the person as given and asked what made him rich.]

    I was using an analogy. Here is a better one: cooking. If the temperature is too low, the dish won't taste well. If it is too high, it won't taste well either (Perelman). I can't tell you anything about the chemical processes involved in cooking, so no knowledge of causality either. I can't even tell you a precise optimum temperature that you must maintain while watching with a thermometer. But temperature is important.

    [Either so vague as to be meaningless, or obviously false.]

    I refer you to this comment by Greg Cochran: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/economics-old-and-new/#comment-76691

    [Far from clear. They need to be controlled by different methods, certainly.]

    Not clear? Are there any politicians who you respect? Probably not. Why not? Because you think you can do a better job than them. And why do you think that? Because you think you are smarter than they are.

    [Impertinent nonsense. Any number of qualities individual and collective correlate to varying degrees with personal or general prosperity.]

    Think of IQ as lossy compression.
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  14. Art Deco says:

    Positive interpretation: Russian elections give Russians more real ideological choice (conservative centrists, Communists, nationalists, liberals) than American ones (conservative neoliberals, liberal neoliberals).

    Elections themselves do not do that (though American election law is deficient and could improve greatly). You have a mulitiplicity of political parties when you have cross-cutting cleavages in the electorate and in the political class. The cleavages you find in the United States are quite well-correlated, so there has not been to date much of an opening for 3d parties (a tendency enhanced by first-past-the-post). You have a libertarian dissent and you have an inchoate populist dissent. Up until the last dozen years, neither have commanded much of the electorate. The libertarian position at least had a research-and-advocacy apparat, which the latent ‘populist’ electorate has not had. Neither have had a leadership stratum to speak of.

    * I have yet to write in detail about Sobchak’s program, which was released a few days ago, but frankly, I’m not sure there’s any point. Main points: Major changes to the Constitution; gay marriage; marijuana legalization; a ban on justifying Stalin’s repressions; another referendum on the Crimea. Unelectable, of course. But if you want to nudge Russia in that general direction, no reason not to vote for her, unless you think Navalny’s strategy is better.

    What you’ve described is a Eurotrash program, not an authentic liberal program. Not worth bothering about. Your political architecture might benefit from considerable alteration (provided the transitional costs – which would be considerable) did not erase the benefits.

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  15. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Moscow districts analysis:

    https://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/moscow-elections-putin-phd.png

    ## % tertiary % PhD
    ## % tertiary 1.000 0.71
    ## % PhD 0.706 1.00
    ## Zhirinovsky -0.782 -0.82
    ## Zyuganov 0.085 0.17
    ## Mironov 0.098 0.23
    ## Prokhorov 0.832 0.83
    ## Putin -0.778 -0.81

    The dull vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky; the intelligent vote for liberals.

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation - maybe not so much their leaders, but their followers. They had the biggest protests, and are able to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in petitions (the nationalists were unable to gather a fraction of the signatures needed to make the Duma consider repealing Article 282).

    The amount of money spent on your education? Your prospects of getting lucrative employment in the future?
     
    Both of which are strongly and moderately correlated with IQ, respectively, in Russia as elsewhere.

    Both the article and your comment suggest that you were in a coma since 2012. The reality is much more interesting and nuanced. In 2012 Putin had 40-45% support, which translated into huge Bolotnaya protests. BTW, the Kremlin showed its smarts, imprisoning those who were really dangerous for the regime (e.g., Udaltsov), while leaving cowardly posturing nonentities (e.g., Navalny, Sobchak) free. Nonetheless, the dynamics were frightening for the Kremlin: Putin’s popularity, which surged in the early 2000s because he started restoring Russia after Yeltsin years, when it was run by thieves and greedy traitors, kept going down. This made considerable voter fraud of 2012 necessary to ensure his victory.
    Then in 2014 the US and its European vassals made him a gift: organized a coup in Kiev, using Nazi storm troopers of Pravy Sector and the financing by amazingly shortsighted and incredibly greedy Ukrainian elites. The ensuing collapse of Ukraine had several consequences. Good for Russia: the popularity of nationalists nosedived, as the coup in Ukraine showed how the nationalism with primeval tribal overtones ruins any country. Bad for Russia: by retaking Crimea, with widespread support of the local population, he gained a lot of credit in the eyes of most Russians. He gained even more by supporting Donbass against Kiev Nazis. That gave him that genuine 60-80% support in Russia, whereas his internal policies are quite unpopular. The consensus on many Russian forums (which, BTW, are a lot more pluralistic than comment sections of pretty much all Western MSM, even those, that, unlike the Guardian, did not essentially kill their comments sections) is that a lot can be forgiven for Crimea. Thus, many people are reluctant to criticize his economic policy and his support for high-ranking thieves, which they detest, because they see him as a leader who withstands the pressure from the US and successfully foils many American ventures (Syria is a good example). By overusing its “color revolution” scenario the US made “color revolution” in Russia impossible. Besides, the US further undermined its credibility by the use of the same “sniper gambit” in Saraevo, Deraa, and Kiev. You must be really dumb (or a Ukrainian) to miss the obvious: there must be the same “screenwriter” behind these carbon-copy plots.
    Bottom line is, Russia needs credible opposition, not the traitors who get their money and marching orders at the US Embassy. However, until the external pressure eases, true opposition is unlikely to get a significant popular support in Russia. It’s Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Apparently, Western leaders never progressed even to the elementary physics. A pity.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    They held elections in the Ukraine. Your side lost. Look at the opinion polls. They'll still lose. Suck it up.
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  16. Art Deco says:
    @Anon
    Both the article and your comment suggest that you were in a coma since 2012. The reality is much more interesting and nuanced. In 2012 Putin had 40-45% support, which translated into huge Bolotnaya protests. BTW, the Kremlin showed its smarts, imprisoning those who were really dangerous for the regime (e.g., Udaltsov), while leaving cowardly posturing nonentities (e.g., Navalny, Sobchak) free. Nonetheless, the dynamics were frightening for the Kremlin: Putin’s popularity, which surged in the early 2000s because he started restoring Russia after Yeltsin years, when it was run by thieves and greedy traitors, kept going down. This made considerable voter fraud of 2012 necessary to ensure his victory.
    Then in 2014 the US and its European vassals made him a gift: organized a coup in Kiev, using Nazi storm troopers of Pravy Sector and the financing by amazingly shortsighted and incredibly greedy Ukrainian elites. The ensuing collapse of Ukraine had several consequences. Good for Russia: the popularity of nationalists nosedived, as the coup in Ukraine showed how the nationalism with primeval tribal overtones ruins any country. Bad for Russia: by retaking Crimea, with widespread support of the local population, he gained a lot of credit in the eyes of most Russians. He gained even more by supporting Donbass against Kiev Nazis. That gave him that genuine 60-80% support in Russia, whereas his internal policies are quite unpopular. The consensus on many Russian forums (which, BTW, are a lot more pluralistic than comment sections of pretty much all Western MSM, even those, that, unlike the Guardian, did not essentially kill their comments sections) is that a lot can be forgiven for Crimea. Thus, many people are reluctant to criticize his economic policy and his support for high-ranking thieves, which they detest, because they see him as a leader who withstands the pressure from the US and successfully foils many American ventures (Syria is a good example). By overusing its “color revolution” scenario the US made “color revolution” in Russia impossible. Besides, the US further undermined its credibility by the use of the same “sniper gambit” in Saraevo, Deraa, and Kiev. You must be really dumb (or a Ukrainian) to miss the obvious: there must be the same “screenwriter” behind these carbon-copy plots.
    Bottom line is, Russia needs credible opposition, not the traitors who get their money and marching orders at the US Embassy. However, until the external pressure eases, true opposition is unlikely to get a significant popular support in Russia. It’s Newton's third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Apparently, Western leaders never progressed even to the elementary physics. A pity.

    They held elections in the Ukraine. Your side lost. Look at the opinion polls. They’ll still lose. Suck it up.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    First, there is no such thing as my side in the remainder of Ukraine. Every nation has the government it deserves. Personally, I support Donbass republics. Second, according to Ukrainian polls, the most popular politician in present-day Ukraine now is Timoshenko with the support of ~7%. Current “president” Poroshenko has even smaller support. Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP. Less charitably: good riddance.
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  17. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Art Deco
    They held elections in the Ukraine. Your side lost. Look at the opinion polls. They'll still lose. Suck it up.

    First, there is no such thing as my side in the remainder of Ukraine. Every nation has the government it deserves. Personally, I support Donbass republics. Second, according to Ukrainian polls, the most popular politician in present-day Ukraine now is Timoshenko with the support of ~7%. Current “president” Poroshenko has even smaller support. Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP. Less charitably: good riddance.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Pro-Western nationalist candidates collectively have overwhelming support in Ukraine, just support for each particular pro-Western candidate varies. Poroshenko is down, Tymoshenko is up. Perhaps next year some other pro-Western candidate will be up instead. Ukraine is moving on.

    Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP
     
    Sour grapes. Ukraine's economy is growing, foreign reserves are now higher than they were before Yanukovich was overthrown, it is on track to soon be as poor, but not poorer, than it was before Maidan.
    , @Art Deco
    The two derivatives of Yanukovich's organization command about a quarter of the electorate between them. Messrs. Boyko and Rabinovich might break 20% of the vote between them. Amidst all this fantastical babble about "Nazis" and "coups" is the reality that they don't at this time want what you're selling. The number who actually wish annexation by Russia amounts to a fraction of those who prefer the Russophile parties. You can only get what you want by busting a lot of heads.
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  18. AP says:
    @Anon
    First, there is no such thing as my side in the remainder of Ukraine. Every nation has the government it deserves. Personally, I support Donbass republics. Second, according to Ukrainian polls, the most popular politician in present-day Ukraine now is Timoshenko with the support of ~7%. Current “president” Poroshenko has even smaller support. Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP. Less charitably: good riddance.

    Pro-Western nationalist candidates collectively have overwhelming support in Ukraine, just support for each particular pro-Western candidate varies. Poroshenko is down, Tymoshenko is up. Perhaps next year some other pro-Western candidate will be up instead. Ukraine is moving on.

    Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP

    Sour grapes. Ukraine’s economy is growing, foreign reserves are now higher than they were before Yanukovich was overthrown, it is on track to soon be as poor, but not poorer, than it was before Maidan.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    Don’t you want to list all of Ukraine’s “successes”? For example, it’s national debt, which has grown manifold since the coup in 2014 and now exceeds $85 billion (stats for 2007-2015 can be found here https://tradingeconomics.com/ukraine/government-debt-to-gdp). Thus, today Ukraine owes almost 6 times as much as it has in reserves. Economic growth is another fiction: according to the official stats, the economy grew by a few percent in 2017 after dropping by >30% since the coup. Overall, these “successes” were pretty well described by its leaders. The first Ukrainian president Kravchuk said: “in five years Ukrainians will live like in France”. The second Ukrainian president Kuchma said: “in ten years Ukrainians will live like in Poland”. About a year ago then Odessa governor (failed Georgian president before that) Saakashvili said, that if Ukraine develops successfully, in 20 years Ukrainians are going to live like under Yanukovich. I rest my case.
    , @Anon
    A simple fact (from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita)
    According to IMF, per capita GDP by PPP was:
    Russia – 26,490 (49th place)
    Ukraine – 8,305 (114th place) (just below Morocco and just above Bhutan).
    Enough said.
    , @polskijoe
    I have been reading on Ukraine...

    Voter percentages (2017)

    Fatherland 9%
    Block Petro Solidarnist 6%
    Oppoisition 6%
    Radical Party 5%
    Samopomich 5%
    Civic 4%
    Za Zhyttia 5%
    Svoboda 3%
    No Vote 22%


    Most favorite politicians:

    Anatoly Hrytsenko 31 favorable
    Andriy Sadobyi 24 favorable
    Oleh Lyashko 24
    Tymeshenko 22
    Klitscko 22
    Petro Porkoshenko 18
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  19. Art Deco says:
    @Anon
    First, there is no such thing as my side in the remainder of Ukraine. Every nation has the government it deserves. Personally, I support Donbass republics. Second, according to Ukrainian polls, the most popular politician in present-day Ukraine now is Timoshenko with the support of ~7%. Current “president” Poroshenko has even smaller support. Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP. Less charitably: good riddance.

    The two derivatives of Yanukovich’s organization command about a quarter of the electorate between them. Messrs. Boyko and Rabinovich might break 20% of the vote between them. Amidst all this fantastical babble about “Nazis” and “coups” is the reality that they don’t at this time want what you’re selling. The number who actually wish annexation by Russia amounts to a fraction of those who prefer the Russophile parties. You can only get what you want by busting a lot of heads.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mikel

    You can only get what you want by busting a lot of heads.
     
    What part of these expressions by Anon did you not understand?

    - there is no such thing as my side in the remainder of Ukraine
    - Every nation has the government it deserves.
    - good riddance.
    , @anonymous coward

    The number who actually wish annexation by Russia amounts to a fraction of those who prefer the Russophile parties.
     
    This was ostensibly true in Crimea too, until one moment it suddenly wasn't and the numbers flipped overnight. Now Crimea is more Russian than neighboring Krasnodar.

    The fact is that "Ukraine" (and "Ukrainians") is a fiction that people go along with as long as it brings economic and political benefit. Once these benefits disappear, the whole charade will be dropped like a hot potato.
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  20. Mikel says:
    @Art Deco
    The two derivatives of Yanukovich's organization command about a quarter of the electorate between them. Messrs. Boyko and Rabinovich might break 20% of the vote between them. Amidst all this fantastical babble about "Nazis" and "coups" is the reality that they don't at this time want what you're selling. The number who actually wish annexation by Russia amounts to a fraction of those who prefer the Russophile parties. You can only get what you want by busting a lot of heads.

    You can only get what you want by busting a lot of heads.

    What part of these expressions by Anon did you not understand?

    - there is no such thing as my side in the remainder of Ukraine
    - Every nation has the government it deserves.
    - good riddance.

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    • Replies: @Art Deco
    I understood all three statements. And I understand when someone is striking poses.
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  21. Art Deco says:
    @Mikel

    You can only get what you want by busting a lot of heads.
     
    What part of these expressions by Anon did you not understand?

    - there is no such thing as my side in the remainder of Ukraine
    - Every nation has the government it deserves.
    - good riddance.

    I understood all three statements. And I understand when someone is striking poses.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mikel

    I understand when someone is striking poses
     
    Unfortunately, I don't have that gift of yours for reading other people's minds. But I think that it's safe to assume that most Russians nowadays don't have any desire to absorb a big country ~3 times poorer than theirs and clearly full of hostile inhabitants. And when they explicitly say that they don't want such thing my default assumption, if anything, gets reinforced. But maybe that's just me.
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  22. Mikel says:
    @Art Deco
    I understood all three statements. And I understand when someone is striking poses.

    I understand when someone is striking poses

    Unfortunately, I don’t have that gift of yours for reading other people’s minds. But I think that it’s safe to assume that most Russians nowadays don’t have any desire to absorb a big country ~3 times poorer than theirs and clearly full of hostile inhabitants. And when they explicitly say that they don’t want such thing my default assumption, if anything, gets reinforced. But maybe that’s just me.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    Unfortunately, I don’t have that gift of yours for reading other people’s minds.

    Pro-tip: When someone offers you a 400-word long fantasy-laden rant, it's not much of a 'gift' to be able to discern that a retort beginning with something like "I couldn't care less" rings rather hollow.
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  23. OT: Rod Dreher would like to see a tv series about Russian agents destabilizing the US with fake news:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/fake-news-russian-mole-robert-hanssen/

    What a despicable moron.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    What a despicable moron.
     
    He is an embodiment of the American "intellectual class".
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  24. S3 says:
    @5371
    [Do you know what statistical correlation is? If not, a good textbook Bertsekas and Tsitsiklis is freely available.]
    Impertinent nonsense. Any number of qualities individual and collective correlate to varying degrees with personal or general prosperity.
    [Nobody knows the causality from genes to intelligence. So why worry about super-babies?]
    No reasonable person could have thought that was what I was referring to. I took the person as given and asked what made him rich.
    [Before the industrial revolution, society saw to it that its members were educated with an exclusive concentration on feeding themselves.]
    Either so vague as to be meaningless, or obviously false.
    [Intelligent people are harder to control. Or over-awe. Whatever your definition of leadership is.]
    Far from clear. They need to be controlled by different methods, certainly.

    [No reasonable person could have thought that was what I was referring to. I took the person as given and asked what made him rich.]

    I was using an analogy. Here is a better one: cooking. If the temperature is too low, the dish won’t taste well. If it is too high, it won’t taste well either (Perelman). I can’t tell you anything about the chemical processes involved in cooking, so no knowledge of causality either. I can’t even tell you a precise optimum temperature that you must maintain while watching with a thermometer. But temperature is important.

    [Either so vague as to be meaningless, or obviously false.]

    I refer you to this comment by Greg Cochran: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/economics-old-and-new/#comment-76691

    [Far from clear. They need to be controlled by different methods, certainly.]

    Not clear? Are there any politicians who you respect? Probably not. Why not? Because you think you can do a better job than them. And why do you think that? Because you think you are smarter than they are.

    [Impertinent nonsense. Any number of qualities individual and collective correlate to varying degrees with personal or general prosperity.]

    Think of IQ as lossy compression.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Cochran's piece has nothing to do with education, and your comments fail to address the fact, easily observed and pointed out by me, that people have very different aspirations and are content at very different economic levels. Neither human life nor statecraft can be reduced to one number.
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  25. @Art Deco
    The two derivatives of Yanukovich's organization command about a quarter of the electorate between them. Messrs. Boyko and Rabinovich might break 20% of the vote between them. Amidst all this fantastical babble about "Nazis" and "coups" is the reality that they don't at this time want what you're selling. The number who actually wish annexation by Russia amounts to a fraction of those who prefer the Russophile parties. You can only get what you want by busting a lot of heads.

    The number who actually wish annexation by Russia amounts to a fraction of those who prefer the Russophile parties.

    This was ostensibly true in Crimea too, until one moment it suddenly wasn’t and the numbers flipped overnight. Now Crimea is more Russian than neighboring Krasnodar.

    The fact is that “Ukraine” (and “Ukrainians”) is a fiction that people go along with as long as it brings economic and political benefit. Once these benefits disappear, the whole charade will be dropped like a hot potato.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    This was ostensibly true in Crimea too, until one moment it suddenly wasn’t and the numbers flipped overnight. Now Crimea is more Russian than neighboring Krasnodar.

    The Crimea was the only part of the Ukraine wherein self-identified great Russians formed a majority of the population. Bracketing out spoiled ballots, Russophile parties there won 86% of the vote in the regional elections held in 2010 (while half the remainder went to a party representing the Tatar minority). If it helps you to get through the day to imagine that Crimea's disposition is replicated elsewhere in the Ukraine, fine. However, fantasy should not govern public policy.
    , @Felix Keverich
    This notion that we can use public opinion polls in Ukraine to gauge the support for reunification is downright silly. This is a country, where you go to prison for waving for Russian flag, who is going to admit he is a "separatist"? Political parties in Ukraine represent the interests of oligarhs, pro-Russians have no reason to vote for them.
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  26. Mikhail says: • Website

    Re: Ukraine’s political and socioeconomic situation

    Any polls showing Poroshenko more popular than Yanukovych?

    Same thing happened after Yushchenko became president. Not that I see Yanukovych returning to the presidency again. At the same time, the so-called Orange Revolution and Euromaidan have fallen well short of expectation for many.

    Never mind the lack of appeal of the potential Ukrainian presidential candidates besides Poroshenko.

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  27. 5371 says:
    @S3
    [No reasonable person could have thought that was what I was referring to. I took the person as given and asked what made him rich.]

    I was using an analogy. Here is a better one: cooking. If the temperature is too low, the dish won't taste well. If it is too high, it won't taste well either (Perelman). I can't tell you anything about the chemical processes involved in cooking, so no knowledge of causality either. I can't even tell you a precise optimum temperature that you must maintain while watching with a thermometer. But temperature is important.

    [Either so vague as to be meaningless, or obviously false.]

    I refer you to this comment by Greg Cochran: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/economics-old-and-new/#comment-76691

    [Far from clear. They need to be controlled by different methods, certainly.]

    Not clear? Are there any politicians who you respect? Probably not. Why not? Because you think you can do a better job than them. And why do you think that? Because you think you are smarter than they are.

    [Impertinent nonsense. Any number of qualities individual and collective correlate to varying degrees with personal or general prosperity.]

    Think of IQ as lossy compression.

    Cochran’s piece has nothing to do with education, and your comments fail to address the fact, easily observed and pointed out by me, that people have very different aspirations and are content at very different economic levels. Neither human life nor statecraft can be reduced to one number.

    Read More
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  28. Art Deco says:
    @anonymous coward

    The number who actually wish annexation by Russia amounts to a fraction of those who prefer the Russophile parties.
     
    This was ostensibly true in Crimea too, until one moment it suddenly wasn't and the numbers flipped overnight. Now Crimea is more Russian than neighboring Krasnodar.

    The fact is that "Ukraine" (and "Ukrainians") is a fiction that people go along with as long as it brings economic and political benefit. Once these benefits disappear, the whole charade will be dropped like a hot potato.

    This was ostensibly true in Crimea too, until one moment it suddenly wasn’t and the numbers flipped overnight. Now Crimea is more Russian than neighboring Krasnodar.

    The Crimea was the only part of the Ukraine wherein self-identified great Russians formed a majority of the population. Bracketing out spoiled ballots, Russophile parties there won 86% of the vote in the regional elections held in 2010 (while half the remainder went to a party representing the Tatar minority). If it helps you to get through the day to imagine that Crimea’s disposition is replicated elsewhere in the Ukraine, fine. However, fantasy should not govern public policy.

    Read More
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  29. Art Deco says:
    @Mikel

    I understand when someone is striking poses
     
    Unfortunately, I don't have that gift of yours for reading other people's minds. But I think that it's safe to assume that most Russians nowadays don't have any desire to absorb a big country ~3 times poorer than theirs and clearly full of hostile inhabitants. And when they explicitly say that they don't want such thing my default assumption, if anything, gets reinforced. But maybe that's just me.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have that gift of yours for reading other people’s minds.

    Pro-tip: When someone offers you a 400-word long fantasy-laden rant, it’s not much of a ‘gift’ to be able to discern that a retort beginning with something like “I couldn’t care less” rings rather hollow.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    Political Ukrainians tend to grossly overestimate the significance of their country. Would you care to count the fraction of my post concerning Ukraine? Hint: it’s small. Another hint: even in that small fraction I only considered the impact of the Ukrainian events on Russia. Hate to disappoint you, but in the grand scheme of things Ukraine is no more important than Burkina Faso.
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  30. @Beckow
    Modern elections in large countries are symbolic. They are all a form of a 'referendum on a regime'. The choices are very circumscribed, the process is silly, and the result is more amusing than significant. People voting for Trump, Brexit, Macron, etc... all sent a message. Other than endlessly discussing this 'message', not much has changed, or could change.

    In Russia's case, the coming World Cup is a more significant event than the elections. West has to somehow scuttle the World Cup, make sure it is not a success, that people don't see Russia, make sure Russia gets minimum publicity. That might range from Sochi-like 'toilet doesn't flush' to pretending that nothing is happening. Industrious 'NGO"s' are brainstorming round-the-clock on the lists of events, controversies, 'street interviews' and animal suffering stories to present during the World Cup. Compared to that the routine elections are a non-story.

    actually a geopolitical provocation is likely
    War in Georgia: same day as the opening of Beijing Olympics
    Coup d’Etat in Kiev: a day before Sochi’s closing ceremony

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    • Replies: @Beckow

    "geopolitical provocation is likely"
     
    I agree that would top the desired list, but there are not that many convenient places left. Georgia is quiet, Kiev is a spent force, the Baltic area would be beyond absurd. When big things don't look possible, we might get a lot of small stuff - local attacks, homo demos, teenage angst given a platform. In any case, that is the central anticipated event of 2018. It has a lot of potential tension built into it.
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  31. @German_reader
    OT: Rod Dreher would like to see a tv series about Russian agents destabilizing the US with fake news:
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/fake-news-russian-mole-robert-hanssen/
    What a despicable moron.

    What a despicable moron.

    He is an embodiment of the American “intellectual class”.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    He's been employed over the years as a restaurant critic, film critic, general columnist, editorial writer, and pr apparatchik. His post-secondary liberal education was limited to fulfilling some distribution requirements. He's an 'intellectual' in the sense that he produces verbiage on public affairs and culture for people to read, but his background is quite different from that of any academic and from the general run of opinion journalist as well.
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  32. Art Deco says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    What a despicable moron.
     
    He is an embodiment of the American "intellectual class".

    He’s been employed over the years as a restaurant critic, film critic, general columnist, editorial writer, and pr apparatchik. His post-secondary liberal education was limited to fulfilling some distribution requirements. He’s an ‘intellectual’ in the sense that he produces verbiage on public affairs and culture for people to read, but his background is quite different from that of any academic and from the general run of opinion journalist as well.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    He’s been employed over the years as a restaurant critic, film critic, general columnist, editorial writer, and pr apparatchik.
     
    Add here "political science" and you have, for the most part, a background of a contemporary American "intellectual class".
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  33. @Art Deco
    He's been employed over the years as a restaurant critic, film critic, general columnist, editorial writer, and pr apparatchik. His post-secondary liberal education was limited to fulfilling some distribution requirements. He's an 'intellectual' in the sense that he produces verbiage on public affairs and culture for people to read, but his background is quite different from that of any academic and from the general run of opinion journalist as well.

    He’s been employed over the years as a restaurant critic, film critic, general columnist, editorial writer, and pr apparatchik.

    Add here “political science” and you have, for the most part, a background of a contemporary American “intellectual class”.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    Add here “political science” and you have, for the most part, a background of a contemporary American “intellectual class”.

    IIRC, fewer than 2% of the post-secondary teachers in this country are political scientists. As for opinion journalists, the lapsed academics include E. J. Dionne (sociologist), George Will (philosopher), and William Kristol (historian). Charles Krauthammer was a physician. John Podhoretz is the issue of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. S.E. Cupp studied art history and comparative religion, Richard Lowry studied history, Megan McArdle is the issue of the business school at the University of Chicago, Stephen Bannon studied urban planning and business and had a stint in the Navy. Glenn Reynolds and the Powerline crew are all lawyers. Among lapsed academics, Alan Keyes is a political scientist and among working academics, Daniel Drezner is. The backgrounds of Richard Cohen, Bill Moyers, and Robert Stacy McCain approximate that of Dreher.
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  34. Art Deco says:
    @Andrei Martyanov

    He’s been employed over the years as a restaurant critic, film critic, general columnist, editorial writer, and pr apparatchik.
     
    Add here "political science" and you have, for the most part, a background of a contemporary American "intellectual class".

    Add here “political science” and you have, for the most part, a background of a contemporary American “intellectual class”.

    IIRC, fewer than 2% of the post-secondary teachers in this country are political scientists. As for opinion journalists, the lapsed academics include E. J. Dionne (sociologist), George Will (philosopher), and William Kristol (historian). Charles Krauthammer was a physician. John Podhoretz is the issue of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. S.E. Cupp studied art history and comparative religion, Richard Lowry studied history, Megan McArdle is the issue of the business school at the University of Chicago, Stephen Bannon studied urban planning and business and had a stint in the Navy. Glenn Reynolds and the Powerline crew are all lawyers. Among lapsed academics, Alan Keyes is a political scientist and among working academics, Daniel Drezner is. The backgrounds of Richard Cohen, Bill Moyers, and Robert Stacy McCain approximate that of Dreher.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
    Generalize it to mostly humanities.
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  35. Beckow says:
    @Bukephalos
    actually a geopolitical provocation is likely
    War in Georgia: same day as the opening of Beijing Olympics
    Coup d'Etat in Kiev: a day before Sochi's closing ceremony

    “geopolitical provocation is likely”

    I agree that would top the desired list, but there are not that many convenient places left. Georgia is quiet, Kiev is a spent force, the Baltic area would be beyond absurd. When big things don’t look possible, we might get a lot of small stuff – local attacks, homo demos, teenage angst given a platform. In any case, that is the central anticipated event of 2018. It has a lot of potential tension built into it.

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  36. @Art Deco
    Add here “political science” and you have, for the most part, a background of a contemporary American “intellectual class”.

    IIRC, fewer than 2% of the post-secondary teachers in this country are political scientists. As for opinion journalists, the lapsed academics include E. J. Dionne (sociologist), George Will (philosopher), and William Kristol (historian). Charles Krauthammer was a physician. John Podhoretz is the issue of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. S.E. Cupp studied art history and comparative religion, Richard Lowry studied history, Megan McArdle is the issue of the business school at the University of Chicago, Stephen Bannon studied urban planning and business and had a stint in the Navy. Glenn Reynolds and the Powerline crew are all lawyers. Among lapsed academics, Alan Keyes is a political scientist and among working academics, Daniel Drezner is. The backgrounds of Richard Cohen, Bill Moyers, and Robert Stacy McCain approximate that of Dreher.

    Generalize it to mostly humanities.

    Read More
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  37. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @AP
    Pro-Western nationalist candidates collectively have overwhelming support in Ukraine, just support for each particular pro-Western candidate varies. Poroshenko is down, Tymoshenko is up. Perhaps next year some other pro-Western candidate will be up instead. Ukraine is moving on.

    Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP
     
    Sour grapes. Ukraine's economy is growing, foreign reserves are now higher than they were before Yanukovich was overthrown, it is on track to soon be as poor, but not poorer, than it was before Maidan.

    Don’t you want to list all of Ukraine’s “successes”? For example, it’s national debt, which has grown manifold since the coup in 2014 and now exceeds $85 billion (stats for 2007-2015 can be found here https://tradingeconomics.com/ukraine/government-debt-to-gdp). Thus, today Ukraine owes almost 6 times as much as it has in reserves. Economic growth is another fiction: according to the official stats, the economy grew by a few percent in 2017 after dropping by >30% since the coup. Overall, these “successes” were pretty well described by its leaders. The first Ukrainian president Kravchuk said: “in five years Ukrainians will live like in France”. The second Ukrainian president Kuchma said: “in ten years Ukrainians will live like in Poland”. About a year ago then Odessa governor (failed Georgian president before that) Saakashvili said, that if Ukraine develops successfully, in 20 years Ukrainians are going to live like under Yanukovich. I rest my case.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Ukriane's debt to GDP is lower than that of Spain, France, etc. This year Ukraine paid more to IMF than it took form IMF.

    according to the official stats, the economy grew by a few percent in 2017 after dropping by >30% since the coup.
     
    Depends how you choose to play with statistics. Much of the drop was due to currency collapse (so Russia had about a 40% drop in nominal GDP) Gdp PPP was much less than 30% per capita drop - about 11%.
    , @Swedish Family

    Don’t you want to list all of Ukraine’s “successes”? For example, it’s national debt, which has grown manifold since the coup in 2014 and now exceeds $85 billion (stats for 2007-2015 can be found here https://tradingeconomics.com/ukraine/government-debt-to-gdp). Thus, today Ukraine owes almost 6 times as much as it has in reserves.
     
    This is a good point. How impressive are your growth numbers really when they follow a large drop in GDP and a large increase in public debt (from about 40 to 79 % of GDP)? I can't be bothered to do the calculations, but part of the answer would have to depend on the nature of the debt (e.g. is it used for investment, or for plugging holes in the budget, or for lining the pockets of the oligarchs?). The same questionin could be asked in reverse of Russia's growth numbers, which have of course been weak or negative, but there against a backdrop of sanctions, sharply declining inflation and still very low public debt (from about 13 to 17 % of GDP).
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  38. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Art Deco
    Unfortunately, I don’t have that gift of yours for reading other people’s minds.

    Pro-tip: When someone offers you a 400-word long fantasy-laden rant, it's not much of a 'gift' to be able to discern that a retort beginning with something like "I couldn't care less" rings rather hollow.

    Political Ukrainians tend to grossly overestimate the significance of their country. Would you care to count the fraction of my post concerning Ukraine? Hint: it’s small. Another hint: even in that small fraction I only considered the impact of the Ukrainian events on Russia. Hate to disappoint you, but in the grand scheme of things Ukraine is no more important than Burkina Faso.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    Quit digging.
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  39. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @AP
    Pro-Western nationalist candidates collectively have overwhelming support in Ukraine, just support for each particular pro-Western candidate varies. Poroshenko is down, Tymoshenko is up. Perhaps next year some other pro-Western candidate will be up instead. Ukraine is moving on.

    Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP
     
    Sour grapes. Ukraine's economy is growing, foreign reserves are now higher than they were before Yanukovich was overthrown, it is on track to soon be as poor, but not poorer, than it was before Maidan.

    A simple fact (from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita)
    According to IMF, per capita GDP by PPP was:
    Russia – 26,490 (49th place)
    Ukraine – 8,305 (114th place) (just below Morocco and just above Bhutan).
    Enough said.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Yes, and not much lower than 2013.
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  40. Art Deco says:
    @Anon
    Political Ukrainians tend to grossly overestimate the significance of their country. Would you care to count the fraction of my post concerning Ukraine? Hint: it’s small. Another hint: even in that small fraction I only considered the impact of the Ukrainian events on Russia. Hate to disappoint you, but in the grand scheme of things Ukraine is no more important than Burkina Faso.

    Quit digging.

    Read More
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  41. AP says:
    @Anon
    A simple fact (from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita)
    According to IMF, per capita GDP by PPP was:
    Russia – 26,490 (49th place)
    Ukraine – 8,305 (114th place) (just below Morocco and just above Bhutan).
    Enough said.

    Yes, and not much lower than 2013.

    Read More
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  42. AP says:
    @Anon
    Don’t you want to list all of Ukraine’s “successes”? For example, it’s national debt, which has grown manifold since the coup in 2014 and now exceeds $85 billion (stats for 2007-2015 can be found here https://tradingeconomics.com/ukraine/government-debt-to-gdp). Thus, today Ukraine owes almost 6 times as much as it has in reserves. Economic growth is another fiction: according to the official stats, the economy grew by a few percent in 2017 after dropping by >30% since the coup. Overall, these “successes” were pretty well described by its leaders. The first Ukrainian president Kravchuk said: “in five years Ukrainians will live like in France”. The second Ukrainian president Kuchma said: “in ten years Ukrainians will live like in Poland”. About a year ago then Odessa governor (failed Georgian president before that) Saakashvili said, that if Ukraine develops successfully, in 20 years Ukrainians are going to live like under Yanukovich. I rest my case.

    Ukriane’s debt to GDP is lower than that of Spain, France, etc. This year Ukraine paid more to IMF than it took form IMF.

    according to the official stats, the economy grew by a few percent in 2017 after dropping by >30% since the coup.

    Depends how you choose to play with statistics. Much of the drop was due to currency collapse (so Russia had about a 40% drop in nominal GDP) Gdp PPP was much less than 30% per capita drop – about 11%.

    Read More
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  43. polskijoe says:
    @AP
    Pro-Western nationalist candidates collectively have overwhelming support in Ukraine, just support for each particular pro-Western candidate varies. Poroshenko is down, Tymoshenko is up. Perhaps next year some other pro-Western candidate will be up instead. Ukraine is moving on.

    Charitably, I can say only one thing to Ukraine: RIP
     
    Sour grapes. Ukraine's economy is growing, foreign reserves are now higher than they were before Yanukovich was overthrown, it is on track to soon be as poor, but not poorer, than it was before Maidan.

    I have been reading on Ukraine…

    Voter percentages (2017)

    Fatherland 9%
    Block Petro Solidarnist 6%
    Oppoisition 6%
    Radical Party 5%
    Samopomich 5%
    Civic 4%
    Za Zhyttia 5%
    Svoboda 3%
    No Vote 22%

    Most favorite politicians:

    Anatoly Hrytsenko 31 favorable
    Andriy Sadobyi 24 favorable
    Oleh Lyashko 24
    Tymeshenko 22
    Klitscko 22
    Petro Porkoshenko 18

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    That's right. The 2 pro-Russian parties are the Opposition Block and Za Zhyttia (anti-Semites take note - the second of the pro-Russian parties is led by Vadim Rabinovich). They might get 20% of the parliament. That's the ceiling of pro-Russian sentiment in Donbass-less and Crimea-less Ukraine.
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  44. Anon 2 says:

    For comparison, the number of cars
    per 1000 inhabitants

    France 578
    Germany 572
    Poland 546
    UK 519
    Czechia 485
    Hungary 345

    The exact numbers may vary a bit since the
    Wikipedia figures sometimes have not been
    updated.

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  45. @anonymous coward

    The number who actually wish annexation by Russia amounts to a fraction of those who prefer the Russophile parties.
     
    This was ostensibly true in Crimea too, until one moment it suddenly wasn't and the numbers flipped overnight. Now Crimea is more Russian than neighboring Krasnodar.

    The fact is that "Ukraine" (and "Ukrainians") is a fiction that people go along with as long as it brings economic and political benefit. Once these benefits disappear, the whole charade will be dropped like a hot potato.

    This notion that we can use public opinion polls in Ukraine to gauge the support for reunification is downright silly. This is a country, where you go to prison for waving for Russian flag, who is going to admit he is a “separatist”? Political parties in Ukraine represent the interests of oligarhs, pro-Russians have no reason to vote for them.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    And yet there is a pro-Russian cable station owned by one of Yanukovich's cronies, viewable in most of the country, that produces a public poll whose respondents/listeners publicly voted that they wished Yanukovich was back.

    Russia is now unpopular in Ukraine and people weaving Russian flags on the streets might be treated by others as someone waving an ISIS flag might be treated in more patriotic parts of the USA, or placing Russian flag on a car, like placing a pro-Al Queda flag on a car in the USA, might result in vandalism, but Ukraine = a new totalitarian North Korea is another ridiculous Russian nationalist fairy tale about Ukraine. Indeed, recent polls do show about 5% of Ukrainians wish Ukraine and Russia would unite.
    , @Art Deco
    This notion that we can use public opinion polls in Ukraine to gauge the support for reunification is downright silly.

    There's nothing 'silly' about it, unless you define 'silly' to mean 'bloody inconvenient to Russian nationalist gargoyles'.
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  46. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich
    This notion that we can use public opinion polls in Ukraine to gauge the support for reunification is downright silly. This is a country, where you go to prison for waving for Russian flag, who is going to admit he is a "separatist"? Political parties in Ukraine represent the interests of oligarhs, pro-Russians have no reason to vote for them.

    And yet there is a pro-Russian cable station owned by one of Yanukovich’s cronies, viewable in most of the country, that produces a public poll whose respondents/listeners publicly voted that they wished Yanukovich was back.

    Russia is now unpopular in Ukraine and people weaving Russian flags on the streets might be treated by others as someone waving an ISIS flag might be treated in more patriotic parts of the USA, or placing Russian flag on a car, like placing a pro-Al Queda flag on a car in the USA, might result in vandalism, but Ukraine = a new totalitarian North Korea is another ridiculous Russian nationalist fairy tale about Ukraine. Indeed, recent polls do show about 5% of Ukrainians wish Ukraine and Russia would unite.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    You don't actually live in the country, so this opinion of yours is based entirely on propaganda in Western and Ukrainian media, and your Galician buddies. We'll never agree on this, but I think I simply have a better grasp on the Ukrainian situation than you do.

    There are thousands of pro-Russian Ukrainians languishing in Ukrainian prisons, numerous politicians and journalists were assasinated - current Ukrainian regime has all the markings of a police state.
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  47. AP says:
    @polskijoe
    I have been reading on Ukraine...

    Voter percentages (2017)

    Fatherland 9%
    Block Petro Solidarnist 6%
    Oppoisition 6%
    Radical Party 5%
    Samopomich 5%
    Civic 4%
    Za Zhyttia 5%
    Svoboda 3%
    No Vote 22%


    Most favorite politicians:

    Anatoly Hrytsenko 31 favorable
    Andriy Sadobyi 24 favorable
    Oleh Lyashko 24
    Tymeshenko 22
    Klitscko 22
    Petro Porkoshenko 18

    That’s right. The 2 pro-Russian parties are the Opposition Block and Za Zhyttia (anti-Semites take note – the second of the pro-Russian parties is led by Vadim Rabinovich). They might get 20% of the parliament. That’s the ceiling of pro-Russian sentiment in Donbass-less and Crimea-less Ukraine.

    Read More
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  48. @AP
    And yet there is a pro-Russian cable station owned by one of Yanukovich's cronies, viewable in most of the country, that produces a public poll whose respondents/listeners publicly voted that they wished Yanukovich was back.

    Russia is now unpopular in Ukraine and people weaving Russian flags on the streets might be treated by others as someone waving an ISIS flag might be treated in more patriotic parts of the USA, or placing Russian flag on a car, like placing a pro-Al Queda flag on a car in the USA, might result in vandalism, but Ukraine = a new totalitarian North Korea is another ridiculous Russian nationalist fairy tale about Ukraine. Indeed, recent polls do show about 5% of Ukrainians wish Ukraine and Russia would unite.

    You don’t actually live in the country, so this opinion of yours is based entirely on propaganda in Western and Ukrainian media, and your Galician buddies. We’ll never agree on this, but I think I simply have a better grasp on the Ukrainian situation than you do.

    There are thousands of pro-Russian Ukrainians languishing in Ukrainian prisons, numerous politicians and journalists were assasinated – current Ukrainian regime has all the markings of a police state.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    I visited for as couple weeks this summer, staying with locals (my family) and my family lives in Kiev, Lviv and village and oblast center in central Ukraine. I am in regular contact. I don't pretend to know what is happening in Kharkiv (we are equal in that respect) but I do know what is happening in the west and center. One of my cousins is, actually, pro-Russian and is open about it on facebook. So much for mass fear.

    I think I simply have a better grasp on the Ukrainian situation than you do.
     
    Sure, someone who has probably never been there (certainly not recently) and gets his news from Russian nationalist sources has a grasp about something. Very funny. I'm sure you agree that Poles know more about events in Russia than Russians do, also.
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  49. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich
    You don't actually live in the country, so this opinion of yours is based entirely on propaganda in Western and Ukrainian media, and your Galician buddies. We'll never agree on this, but I think I simply have a better grasp on the Ukrainian situation than you do.

    There are thousands of pro-Russian Ukrainians languishing in Ukrainian prisons, numerous politicians and journalists were assasinated - current Ukrainian regime has all the markings of a police state.

    I visited for as couple weeks this summer, staying with locals (my family) and my family lives in Kiev, Lviv and village and oblast center in central Ukraine. I am in regular contact. I don’t pretend to know what is happening in Kharkiv (we are equal in that respect) but I do know what is happening in the west and center. One of my cousins is, actually, pro-Russian and is open about it on facebook. So much for mass fear.

    I think I simply have a better grasp on the Ukrainian situation than you do.

    Sure, someone who has probably never been there (certainly not recently) and gets his news from Russian nationalist sources has a grasp about something. Very funny. I’m sure you agree that Poles know more about events in Russia than Russians do, also.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    I read analysis from Colonel Cassad and the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is more likely to engage in wishful thinking and outright lie.
    http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/why-putin-cannot-risk-peace-in-ukraine
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  50. @AP
    I visited for as couple weeks this summer, staying with locals (my family) and my family lives in Kiev, Lviv and village and oblast center in central Ukraine. I am in regular contact. I don't pretend to know what is happening in Kharkiv (we are equal in that respect) but I do know what is happening in the west and center. One of my cousins is, actually, pro-Russian and is open about it on facebook. So much for mass fear.

    I think I simply have a better grasp on the Ukrainian situation than you do.
     
    Sure, someone who has probably never been there (certainly not recently) and gets his news from Russian nationalist sources has a grasp about something. Very funny. I'm sure you agree that Poles know more about events in Russia than Russians do, also.

    I read analysis from Colonel Cassad and the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is more likely to engage in wishful thinking and outright lie.

    http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/why-putin-cannot-risk-peace-in-ukraine

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Colonel Cassad LOL. Might as well read some Banderist from Lviv to learn about events in Russia or Kharkiv.
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  51. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich
    I read analysis from Colonel Cassad and the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is more likely to engage in wishful thinking and outright lie.
    http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/why-putin-cannot-risk-peace-in-ukraine

    Colonel Cassad LOL. Might as well read some Banderist from Lviv to learn about events in Russia or Kharkiv.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    I don't see where your scepticism comes from. Cassad is perceptive and accurate, he correctly predicted 3,5 years ago how conflict in Ukraine is going to evolve.

    Comparing Cassad to Ukrainian "pundits" and "journalists" is an insult. These guys are busy debating when our bridge to Crimea is going to fall apart.
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  52. @AP
    Colonel Cassad LOL. Might as well read some Banderist from Lviv to learn about events in Russia or Kharkiv.

    I don’t see where your scepticism comes from. Cassad is perceptive and accurate, he correctly predicted 3,5 years ago how conflict in Ukraine is going to evolve.

    Comparing Cassad to Ukrainian “pundits” and “journalists” is an insult. These guys are busy debating when our bridge to Crimea is going to fall apart.

    Read More
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  53. Art Deco says:
    @Felix Keverich
    This notion that we can use public opinion polls in Ukraine to gauge the support for reunification is downright silly. This is a country, where you go to prison for waving for Russian flag, who is going to admit he is a "separatist"? Political parties in Ukraine represent the interests of oligarhs, pro-Russians have no reason to vote for them.

    This notion that we can use public opinion polls in Ukraine to gauge the support for reunification is downright silly.

    There’s nothing ‘silly’ about it, unless you define ‘silly’ to mean ‘bloody inconvenient to Russian nationalist gargoyles’.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    I am Anon from TN

    I think the best answer is a modern Ukrainian joke. Here goes:
    A new teacher comes to class, says:
    - Let’s get acquainted. I am Mykola Ivanovych, Bandera follower.
    A girl gets up:
    -I am Natalka, Bandera follower.
    A boy gets up:
    -I am Vova, separatist.
    The teachers asks:
    - Why are you a separatist, Vova?
    - My father is a separatist, so is my mother, my sister, and all my friends.
    - What if your father were a drug addict, mother a prostitute, sister a slut, and all your friends hopeless idiots?
    - Then I’d be Bandera follower.
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  54. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Art Deco
    This notion that we can use public opinion polls in Ukraine to gauge the support for reunification is downright silly.

    There's nothing 'silly' about it, unless you define 'silly' to mean 'bloody inconvenient to Russian nationalist gargoyles'.

    I am Anon from TN

    I think the best answer is a modern Ukrainian joke. Here goes:
    A new teacher comes to class, says:
    - Let’s get acquainted. I am Mykola Ivanovych, Bandera follower.
    A girl gets up:
    -I am Natalka, Bandera follower.
    A boy gets up:
    -I am Vova, separatist.
    The teachers asks:
    - Why are you a separatist, Vova?
    - My father is a separatist, so is my mother, my sister, and all my friends.
    - What if your father were a drug addict, mother a prostitute, sister a slut, and all your friends hopeless idiots?
    - Then I’d be Bandera follower.

    Read More
    • Replies: @The Big Red Scary
    The version I heard, some years ago, works better, but it’s about Semyon Avramovich the Liberal and Vanya the Stalinist. I’d be surprised if genuine Banderists could compete with Russian liberals for degeneracy. Though in many other respects, I perfer liberals to Banderists. At least they are mostly irrelevant.
    , @Art Deco
    Talking trash isn't going to solve your political problem. Felix trades in fantasy. Politicians who make consequential decisions do a lot of damage when they are so motivated.
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  55. @Anon
    I am Anon from TN

    I think the best answer is a modern Ukrainian joke. Here goes:
    A new teacher comes to class, says:
    - Let’s get acquainted. I am Mykola Ivanovych, Bandera follower.
    A girl gets up:
    -I am Natalka, Bandera follower.
    A boy gets up:
    -I am Vova, separatist.
    The teachers asks:
    - Why are you a separatist, Vova?
    - My father is a separatist, so is my mother, my sister, and all my friends.
    - What if your father were a drug addict, mother a prostitute, sister a slut, and all your friends hopeless idiots?
    - Then I’d be Bandera follower.

    The version I heard, some years ago, works better, but it’s about Semyon Avramovich the Liberal and Vanya the Stalinist. I’d be surprised if genuine Banderists could compete with Russian liberals for degeneracy. Though in many other respects, I perfer liberals to Banderists. At least they are mostly irrelevant.

    Read More
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  56. Art Deco says:
    @Anon
    I am Anon from TN

    I think the best answer is a modern Ukrainian joke. Here goes:
    A new teacher comes to class, says:
    - Let’s get acquainted. I am Mykola Ivanovych, Bandera follower.
    A girl gets up:
    -I am Natalka, Bandera follower.
    A boy gets up:
    -I am Vova, separatist.
    The teachers asks:
    - Why are you a separatist, Vova?
    - My father is a separatist, so is my mother, my sister, and all my friends.
    - What if your father were a drug addict, mother a prostitute, sister a slut, and all your friends hopeless idiots?
    - Then I’d be Bandera follower.

    Talking trash isn’t going to solve your political problem. Felix trades in fantasy. Politicians who make consequential decisions do a lot of damage when they are so motivated.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    I am Anon from TN
    My most important political problem with Russia is that its government does not understand the value of science and does not support it. My key political problem with the US, where I live for the last 26 years, is that too much of my tax money is wasted on “defense”, which simply feeds greedy thieving defense contractors, while bankrupting the country. Compared to the unsolvable existential problem facing the remainder of Ukraine, both are minor. I can commiserate with you, but cannot help.
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  57. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Art Deco
    Talking trash isn't going to solve your political problem. Felix trades in fantasy. Politicians who make consequential decisions do a lot of damage when they are so motivated.

    I am Anon from TN
    My most important political problem with Russia is that its government does not understand the value of science and does not support it. My key political problem with the US, where I live for the last 26 years, is that too much of my tax money is wasted on “defense”, which simply feeds greedy thieving defense contractors, while bankrupting the country. Compared to the unsolvable existential problem facing the remainder of Ukraine, both are minor. I can commiserate with you, but cannot help.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    Again, military expenditure is as we speak 4% of gross domestic product in the United States. It's actually somewhat higher in Russia (5.4%). It's somewhat lower in the general run of countries (2.2%). Military expenditure is not bankrupting the country. Excess public sector borrowing is a function of political indiscipline. Funds obtained through the bond market are fungible; excess borrowing isn't attributable to any particular type of expenditure. The military, unlike education and research, is inherently a governmental function and, in fact inherently a function of the central government. I gather you value your work and think you ought to be getting more public money for it. The line forms on the right, baby.
    , @Johann Ricke

    My key political problem with the US, where I live for the last 26 years, is that too much of my tax money is wasted on “defense”, which simply feeds greedy thieving defense contractors, while bankrupting the country.
     
    The US spends a hefty amount of its output on defense compared to most of its allies. But that's because those allies have decided that we have reached the end of history and no border changes will be imposed on them by force ever again, because they are virtuous and peace-loving. Whereas the American people have accorded Vegetius's maxim si vis pacem, para bellum its proper respect.

    At the same time, that amount of spending, as a proportion of output, isn't particularly outsized, despite the bleating of liberals, who typically neither conduct a historical comparison of its proportions nor look at defense spending vs other categories of spending as a proportion of output over time. Perhaps that's because such comparisons would show their complaints to be overwrought, and make crystal clear the fact that the educational, welfare state and regulatory portions of government have grown to monstrous proportions, due to the influence of powerful government employee unions in concert with private sector civilian contractors and money-grubbing "non-profit" interest groups. Our problem hasn't been a military industrial complex - it's a civilian industrial complex that is metastasizing beyond the control of the voters because of the incestuous relations between these massive interest groups.

    Average government pay now exceeds private sector pay. Given that among government employees, military pay comes out to well below civilian pay on a per hour basis and looks even worse if adjusted for risk, it's clear that that comparison would be even more lopsided in favor of civilian pay (over the private sector), if the military were excluded from the comparison. The key difference between military and civilian employees of the government? Military employees don't have a union. It is well past time we decertified and banned government unions as a threat to the health of the republic.
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  58. Art Deco says:
    @Anon
    I am Anon from TN
    My most important political problem with Russia is that its government does not understand the value of science and does not support it. My key political problem with the US, where I live for the last 26 years, is that too much of my tax money is wasted on “defense”, which simply feeds greedy thieving defense contractors, while bankrupting the country. Compared to the unsolvable existential problem facing the remainder of Ukraine, both are minor. I can commiserate with you, but cannot help.

    Again, military expenditure is as we speak 4% of gross domestic product in the United States. It’s actually somewhat higher in Russia (5.4%). It’s somewhat lower in the general run of countries (2.2%). Military expenditure is not bankrupting the country. Excess public sector borrowing is a function of political indiscipline. Funds obtained through the bond market are fungible; excess borrowing isn’t attributable to any particular type of expenditure. The military, unlike education and research, is inherently a governmental function and, in fact inherently a function of the central government. I gather you value your work and think you ought to be getting more public money for it. The line forms on the right, baby.

    Read More
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  59. @Anon
    I am Anon from TN
    My most important political problem with Russia is that its government does not understand the value of science and does not support it. My key political problem with the US, where I live for the last 26 years, is that too much of my tax money is wasted on “defense”, which simply feeds greedy thieving defense contractors, while bankrupting the country. Compared to the unsolvable existential problem facing the remainder of Ukraine, both are minor. I can commiserate with you, but cannot help.

    My key political problem with the US, where I live for the last 26 years, is that too much of my tax money is wasted on “defense”, which simply feeds greedy thieving defense contractors, while bankrupting the country.

    The US spends a hefty amount of its output on defense compared to most of its allies. But that’s because those allies have decided that we have reached the end of history and no border changes will be imposed on them by force ever again, because they are virtuous and peace-loving. Whereas the American people have accorded Vegetius’s maxim si vis pacem, para bellum its proper respect.

    At the same time, that amount of spending, as a proportion of output, isn’t particularly outsized, despite the bleating of liberals, who typically neither conduct a historical comparison of its proportions nor look at defense spending vs other categories of spending as a proportion of output over time. Perhaps that’s because such comparisons would show their complaints to be overwrought, and make crystal clear the fact that the educational, welfare state and regulatory portions of government have grown to monstrous proportions, due to the influence of powerful government employee unions in concert with private sector civilian contractors and money-grubbing “non-profit” interest groups. Our problem hasn’t been a military industrial complex – it’s a civilian industrial complex that is metastasizing beyond the control of the voters because of the incestuous relations between these massive interest groups.

    Average government pay now exceeds private sector pay. Given that among government employees, military pay comes out to well below civilian pay on a per hour basis and looks even worse if adjusted for risk, it’s clear that that comparison would be even more lopsided in favor of civilian pay (over the private sector), if the military were excluded from the comparison. The key difference between military and civilian employees of the government? Military employees don’t have a union. It is well past time we decertified and banned government unions as a threat to the health of the republic.

    Read More
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  60. ussr andy says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Moscow districts analysis:

    https://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/moscow-elections-putin-phd.png

    ## % tertiary % PhD
    ## % tertiary 1.000 0.71
    ## % PhD 0.706 1.00
    ## Zhirinovsky -0.782 -0.82
    ## Zyuganov 0.085 0.17
    ## Mironov 0.098 0.23
    ## Prokhorov 0.832 0.83
    ## Putin -0.778 -0.81

    The dull vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky; the intelligent vote for liberals.

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation - maybe not so much their leaders, but their followers. They had the biggest protests, and are able to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in petitions (the nationalists were unable to gather a fraction of the signatures needed to make the Duma consider repealing Article 282).

    The amount of money spent on your education? Your prospects of getting lucrative employment in the future?
     
    Both of which are strongly and moderately correlated with IQ, respectively, in Russia as elsewhere.

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation

    there are plenty of people who are neither liberal nor high-trust (in their natural environment) nor have even that high of a human capital, among minorities, who are capable of lightning-fast coordination and great collective action.
    I think the problem is that liberalism is sexy whereas nationalism is not. there’s always gonna be more cooperation among elites than among helots. if you keep telling people for decades their worldview is backward/genocidal/selfish/illegitimate and their grievances contrived and they should just snap out of it, they aren’t gonna be as pro-social.
    the alt-right makes faint efforts to fix this (“cuck”, “soy boy”) but unless nationalism becomes sexy and nationalism isn’t by default associated with vatnikicism and betaness, the future is bleak.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Swedish Family

    I think the problem is that liberalism is sexy whereas nationalism is not. there’s always gonna be more cooperation among elites than among helots. if you keep telling people for decades their worldview is backward/genocidal/selfish/illegitimate and their grievances contrived and they should just snap out of it, they aren’t gonna be as pro-social.
     
    I don't fully disagree with this, but I think a better explanation for liberal voting patterns among the well-off is that humans are highly mimetic, which means that affluent people take on the opinions and behaviors of other people in their social set. That is, these sentiments are a by-product of high human capital rather than a consequence of it.
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  61. @Anon
    Don’t you want to list all of Ukraine’s “successes”? For example, it’s national debt, which has grown manifold since the coup in 2014 and now exceeds $85 billion (stats for 2007-2015 can be found here https://tradingeconomics.com/ukraine/government-debt-to-gdp). Thus, today Ukraine owes almost 6 times as much as it has in reserves. Economic growth is another fiction: according to the official stats, the economy grew by a few percent in 2017 after dropping by >30% since the coup. Overall, these “successes” were pretty well described by its leaders. The first Ukrainian president Kravchuk said: “in five years Ukrainians will live like in France”. The second Ukrainian president Kuchma said: “in ten years Ukrainians will live like in Poland”. About a year ago then Odessa governor (failed Georgian president before that) Saakashvili said, that if Ukraine develops successfully, in 20 years Ukrainians are going to live like under Yanukovich. I rest my case.

    Don’t you want to list all of Ukraine’s “successes”? For example, it’s national debt, which has grown manifold since the coup in 2014 and now exceeds $85 billion (stats for 2007-2015 can be found here https://tradingeconomics.com/ukraine/government-debt-to-gdp). Thus, today Ukraine owes almost 6 times as much as it has in reserves.

    This is a good point. How impressive are your growth numbers really when they follow a large drop in GDP and a large increase in public debt (from about 40 to 79 % of GDP)? I can’t be bothered to do the calculations, but part of the answer would have to depend on the nature of the debt (e.g. is it used for investment, or for plugging holes in the budget, or for lining the pockets of the oligarchs?). The same questionin could be asked in reverse of Russia’s growth numbers, which have of course been weak or negative, but there against a backdrop of sanctions, sharply declining inflation and still very low public debt (from about 13 to 17 % of GDP).

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  62. @ussr andy

    The liberals also have far higher trust and capacity for cooperation
     
    there are plenty of people who are neither liberal nor high-trust (in their natural environment) nor have even that high of a human capital, among minorities, who are capable of lightning-fast coordination and great collective action.
    I think the problem is that liberalism is sexy whereas nationalism is not. there's always gonna be more cooperation among elites than among helots. if you keep telling people for decades their worldview is backward/genocidal/selfish/illegitimate and their grievances contrived and they should just snap out of it, they aren't gonna be as pro-social.
    the alt-right makes faint efforts to fix this ("cuck", "soy boy") but unless nationalism becomes sexy and nationalism isn't by default associated with vatnikicism and betaness, the future is bleak.

    I think the problem is that liberalism is sexy whereas nationalism is not. there’s always gonna be more cooperation among elites than among helots. if you keep telling people for decades their worldview is backward/genocidal/selfish/illegitimate and their grievances contrived and they should just snap out of it, they aren’t gonna be as pro-social.

    I don’t fully disagree with this, but I think a better explanation for liberal voting patterns among the well-off is that humans are highly mimetic, which means that affluent people take on the opinions and behaviors of other people in their social set. That is, these sentiments are a by-product of high human capital rather than a consequence of it.

    Read More
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