Thursday, October 28, 2010

Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing

Today in my Judicial Process class students participated in a mock Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing in, where else?, Aula Senate

Here are a few photos of the simulation. When I have a minute I will post more about the experience

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Road to the White House UNIVERSITY BEAT from WUSF 02/

I just came across this University Beat on YouTube. Appropriate since I am working on my Short Course on Campaigns in the US. I brought copies of my Road to the White House books from 2004 and 2008 so I can show my students in Moldova samples of my USFSP students' work on campaigns

Public lecture "Priorities in Ukraine's foreign politics"

After today's lecture (about federal judicial selection and preparation for our Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing next week), one of my students joined me in attending a Public Lecture about Ukraine's foreign politics delivered by Ambasadorul Ucrainei în Republica Moldova, Excelenţa Sa, Dl Serghii Pyrozhkov, the Ambassador of Ukraine. The lecture was delivered in Russian, so I was especially grateful for her assistance in translating for me.

The Ambassador (PhD, former university professor) delivered an interesting address about the evolution of the foreign policy in the Ukraine -- touching on issues related to the Ukraine's efforts to join NATO and the EU, the Ukraines's policy towards Moldova, including answering questions regarding territorial border of the "breakaway region" of Transnistria

The Constitution of the Ukraine was ratified in 1996; however, I was interested in the Ambassador's comments that the first democratic constitution was from the Ukraine and written decades before the US Constitution. Here is the information about the Pylyp Orlyk Constitution from the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website:

"In the 18th century, Pylyp Orlyk elected Hetman after the death of Ivan Mazepa wrote in a bright page in the history of the world constitutional endeavor. His treatise Pacty i Konstytutsii Zakoniv ta Volnostei Viyska Zaporizkoho (Pacts and Constitutions of Laws and Rights of the Zaporizia Army, 1710) is believed to be the first constitution of the Ukrainian state. Based on the idea of the natural law and the contractual origin of state, in accord with it, the people of Ukraine made a treaty with a Hetman transferring him a share of their freedoms for the sake of securing internal consent and external safety of the state. The document formulated principles of division of representative and executive powers and impartiality of judiciary subordinate only to the law. In general terms, Pylyp Orlyk’s constitution had been concordant with the then tendencies of development of European political thought (in particular, in asserting separation of church from secular arm), and in some aspects even outstripped European political theory and practice (e.g., preferring constitutionalism over the idea of state absolutism and consent enforcement reigning at that time on the Continent)."

For more information about the Ukrainian Embassy in Moldova:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mid-Term Elections Forum and upcoming course on US Campaigns

I asked my students to send me their thoughts/reactions/comments about the Forum, and I am looking forward to hearing from them what they found to be of interest/importance.

I am teaching a short course on US Campaigns in November, leading up to the Parliamentary elections here in Moldova

We will discuss best practices in the US, and we will include guest speakers from the US as well as from Moldova (who will explain how we can take the material that I share and apply/use it in Moldova)

You can see here that the Dean of the Library, a former Fulbrighter, arranged an exhibit in Aula Austria (where our event took place) of books and materials from the library about US government and politics. (Here I am holding a copy of the US Constitution in Romanian) The materials are in Russian, Romanian, and English.

The short course on campaigns will take place in the 4th Floor Library, 3rd Reading Room on Monday, Wednesday and Friday -- November 8, 10, and 12 -- from 1 pm to 3 pm. Please contact me if you wish to register for the course.

This event was such a smashing success that I will likely organize a similar forum that is a post-election analysis -- what happened on November 2nd and what does it all mean -- so stay tuned!

2010 Mid-Term Election Forum, cont.

I opened up our discussion by providing some basic information about US government, campaigns, and elections, and then gave an overview of the 2010 Mid-Term elections and why they are important. I then explained the importance of Florida as a battleground state -- and Tampa Bay, the anchor of the I-4 Corridor!

Our speakers included

Ramsay McLauchlan, Chair of the Democratic Party in Pinellas County, Florida and a former Democratic elected official and

Leslie Waters, former Speaker Pro Temp of the Florida House of Representatives and a Republican elected official

Our speakers gave the attendees (mostly political science and law students and faculty, but there were also guests from the community as well) an overview of the races in Florida (we talked mostly about the Governor's and US Senate races), discussed campaign finance, fundraising, third party expenditures, media, television advertising, negative ads, voter contact (mail, phones, canvassing), GOTV and Election Day activities, polling, turnout projections, and more

Ramsay and Leslie each joined us from their offices, and each showed attendees examples of lit pieces, door hangers, newspaper headlines, buttons, bumper stickers, yard signs. All of which I have back home, none of which I have in Moldova -- but students were able to see everything, thanks to this amazing videoconference!!

Forum about the 2010 Mid-Term Elections in the US and Florida

Wow! Yesterday I organized and moderated a forum about the 2010 Mid-Term Elections in the US and Florida at ULIM -- and my panelists were from (and in) Tampa Bay, Florida!

It was so cool!! This was my first time moderating an international forum via Skype -and - it was fantastic!! This easy and free videoconference capability is going to transform my classrooms. I always try to engage my students -- we have experiential learning opportunities, civic engagement opportunities, field trips, guest speakers. Now, the *world* is truly going to be our proverbial oyster!

Public Lecture: “Unitarian Federalism and Regional Diversity: The German Experience”

After class on Tuesday I attended the Public Lecture “Unitarian Federalism and Regional Diversity: The German Experience,” delivered by the Ambasadorul Republicii Federale Germania, Excelenţa Sa, Dl Berthold Johannes, the German Ambassador, with my office-mate, a professor from Germany. The well-attended lecture took place in Aula Germany, of course.

The Ambassador is a former college professor (a comparativist who taught British Politics at the Free University of Berlin).

His lecture was about federalism in Germany

It was great to see several of my students there. We just had a long discussion about federalism in my US Constitutional Law class earlier that morning. (Right now we are covering Separation of Powers, but, I had explained that the US Constitution limits powers "vertically" (federalism) and "horizontally" (separation of powers) and wanted to make sure students understood federalism in the US before moving on (though we will have a week devoted to federalism later in the semester)

I found myself taking a "states rights" position, waving the 10th Amendment almost as feverishly as Bob Dole, when one of my students suggested it would be easier if we abolished all of the state governments and just had the national government in Washington.

In any case, several of the themes that I had discussed in class -- how the states were the "laboratories of democracy" able to govern based on local traditions, customs, needs -- came up in the German Ambassador's lecture.

I very much appreciated the lecture and the opportunity to learn more about Germany's history and politics from the Ambassador.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The drive back to Chisinau

We drove the 2 hours to Balti, I delivered the lecture, and we got in the car and drove the 2 hours home.

We did not drive through any villages -- just countryside -- up and down the rolling hills. My ears were popping. Cows. Sheep. Goats. Crops. More cows.

The leaves are starting to change, so there was fall foliage to admire as we looked out our windows at the scenic vistas

American Corner, Balti

Here are a few photos from my presentation about the US Supreme Court (featuring "Supreme Court Bingo" and a gavel pencil (from the US Supreme Court gift shop) as a prize, of course!)

The audience consisted primarily of high school students who are learning English and their teachers, but there were also a few members of the general public as well as some Americans working in Balti on other exchange programs.

For example, the English Language Fellow attended the lecture and brought a few of his students. And I met an interesting Peace Corps Volunteer who is a recent law school graduate and is developing a project with a shelter/agency working with women who are survivors of domestic violence.

It was a pleasure to see Doamna Dina from Alecu Russo University at the presentation as well

There weren't too many questions during my presentation, but I very much enjoyed the one-on-one conversations with the teachers and students afterwards.

I was impressed by the American Corners facility in Balti. What a great outreach opportunity

American Corner, Balti

On Monday I took another trip to Balti, Moldova. Balti is about a 2 hour drive north of Chisinau. Often called the "capital of the north," it is the 2nd largest city in Moldova

The purpose of my visit was to make a presentation at the American Corners facility -- a library of resources about the US located in a local library in Balti and operated by the US Embassy

I have already told you about the American Resource Center operated by the Embassy in Chisinau. The idea behind the American Corners programs/facilities is that people throughout the country may not necessarily be able to make the trip to Chisinau to visit the ARC. Through the American Corners program, satellite locations are arranged, and materials (books, DVDs, computers, internet access, magazines, newspapers, speaker series and other events) are brought to people where they are

Here is the description from the US Embassy in Moldova's website about the American Corners program:

"The American Corner program is sponsored worldwide by the U.S. Department of State and is a partnership between country's host institution and the U.S. Embassy.

"The purpose of the Corners is to provide free information to the general public about the United States through books, magazines, DVDs, and complimentary access to the Internet.

"The Corner also host a wide variety of events, such as cultural programs and guest lectures from U.S. Embassy officials, Fulbright scholars, and others; film and video screenings; poetry readings; conversation and readers clubs; and many other activities.

"An important mission of the American Corners is to build bridges of understanding between people of the United States of America and the Republic of Moldova.

"Currently there are three American Corners in Moldova:

American Corner Ungheni
American Corner Balti
American Corner Ceadir Lunga

Here is a link to the American Corner in Balti website

Sunday, October 17, 2010


As you can see from this tourist map near the car park, there are so many more monasteries to visit in this region!

I was reminded of our honeymoon in Wales, where we visited castles (and which has the highest number of castles, per capita) and Hay-on-Wye, with the highest number of book shops per capita.

Surely, this region (Romania and Moldova) must have the highest number of monasteries per capita?!


The drive from Moldovita to Sucevita took us up and down quite high mountains. The scenery was spectacular, and I am sorry I do not have any decent photos to share.

This monastery was built between 1582 and 1601