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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 21, 2009 9:30am-10:00am EDT

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way of addressing some of tease kinds of issues. access to the ballot box and voting in elections, timeliness makes a difference, expense makes a difference if you're talking about rural areas, so you need to throw thee into the mix. >> how about instead of faster and more expeditious, how about crude summer. >> well, that's part of it too. courts, one of their virtues is they can spend years making findings of fact. :
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we have talked a lot about the different sections one of the voting rights act but touched on talking about the affect of districting black political aspirations and the reason why we haven't courts interpret the voting rights act to require some form a majority minority districts is precisely the idea that we had a racial polarization of such agree that many parts of the country that lies to disagreed on virtually everything else would unite and election. >> the polarization, not the fake stuff. >> out like to throw out a couple of innings, a couple of
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election facts. one, chicago in 1983 was so racially polarized that the prospect of the black man could become a year provoked 9722 margins for a nonentity wiper republican candidate against the white democrat and 25 years later those in white neighborhoods of voted three to one from off four to one in favor of a black person to become president. the fact on the ground that racial polarization in the north has changed dramatically in 25 years -- is the south in a different? we're about ready to find out in 2008 whether alabama is different because the democratic candidate for governor is likely to be a black congressman, arthur davis, who is more centrist than most other representatives from black minority districts. >> than all other members of the congressional black caucus, he is the most centrist. >> and sanford bishop? >> by the national journal.
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[laughter] >> we don't always fun to happen there but we know that in tennessee and we always had a similar centrist black democrat who when he ran for a senate in 2006 barely lost but most interesting was happen in their worldwide tennessee where in county is that for years before had voted for george wallace or voted a very strongly for wallace. he carried many of those, he outran john kerry as a matter a percentage and when you compare his boat to barack obama not only did obama do as it has been no significant worse on percentage basis, he got fewer votes despite a massive increase in turn out so you can see in rural tennessee white democrats because there are no blacks in these places, voting for a black democrat in 2006 and against another different black democrat in 2008. even the girl south has changed so the question is back to the
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professor, how you view that? do you view that with as long as there is one iota of racism protection is still required? do you view that the way michael to use that as a sign of the voting rights act succeeding completely and therefore all protection as a legal mandate ought to be set aside or do you view that as a team messy ambivalent model from a pitcher of in coherence to which some fear he needs to be provided by a flexible and dynamic clockworks [laughter] >> that is a question for america but ultimately the question is how much do we trust ourselves because how you into that determines the alternatives you pick. thanks for coming. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> abigail thernstrom has
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co-authored several books with her husband, steven, including "america in black and white: one nation, invisible". her 1987 work "whose votes count? affirmative action and minority voting rights" 14 awards including the benchmark book award from the center for judicial studies. she is a vice chair of the u.s. commission on civil rights, member of the massachusetts state board of education and senior fellow at the manhattan institute in new york. to find out more visit manhattan -- >> linda himelsein discusses her book, "the king of vodka" and the light of it pyotr smirnov, the creator of smirnov vodka. she talks about his rise from a lower class family to being one of the wealthy businessmen in russia. kepler's books in california hosted the event. it is 35 minutes. >> i'm thrilled to be here at kepler's, i love this bookstore. it is a wonderful institution.
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so the king of vodka. i get asked more than anything else what i wrote this book. and is actually every good question for people who know me well. and the research that was required for this book was absolutely immense and it was mostly in 19 in early 20th-century archives in russia, i live here and i don't speak a word of russian so that was my first problem. secondly, the book really follows the story of russia itself in 1910 and early 20th-century russia from the crimean war to emancipation to industrialization to all of the labor strikes, the fall of the czars and, of course, the russian revolution and i had never studied russian history, another problem for me. as you probably figure out by now if you have taken some of the moscow coming in, this book
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is about a man who may vodka and i'm not much of a drinker. [laughter] so the question, why would i write this book, is a very good one, and the answer simply is, it was just too amazing of a story to ignore. when i was the legal affairs editor for business week magazine in 1996 a man came to see me and he brought with him a long white scroll that he unrolled on a conference room table and it turned out to be a smirnov family tree going back 21700 and he began to tell me the story of his family began as service and as you probably know service were the lowest of the low in russia and it pyotr smirnov, our hero and the story was born a surf, completely and educated, had absolutely no connection aventine, grew up in a very rural village and yet by the end of his life managed to
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become one of the most successful and prominent merchants and of russia. view is one of the wealthiest men of russia when he died in having been born a surf he ended his life been granted honoring ability which was a huge deal at the time and just not happen. so as this man told me the bare bones of the story i felt like this was something i had to find it more out about and he had actually come to see me to tell me about how smirnov's descendants, some of them were sitting in for an interim places in the world to try to get their trademarks and copyrights back. they felt they had been taken wrongly from them after the revolution and after communism fell they were trying to get them back so i wrote this story for business week. was surest really fascinated by it and continue to be fascinated and followed the story but for a while really didn't do a whole lot with it. i move down here and became a silicon valley bureau chief, covering ebay and yahoo! and
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there are other things happening in my life but then i read a book says you probably are familiar with called sea biscuit. it's a great story about an underdog force who comes from nothing and winstrol. and it is a wonderful sort of unexpected surprise story, but what it also is is a great lesson in history. to learn about how jockey's live, you learn about the history of horseracing, you learn about all kinds of things above and beyond the story itself and when i read that book in light bulb and often my head and i thought that is what i want to do with smirnov. so that this kind of how i get started on all of this. i would like to read a very short passage for you from the book that i think will demonstrate to you what is surprising like this man had ny i could not get him out of my head in.
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the smell of mine and what's down hung in the air. moscow had been in the midst of an unusually warm spell. it was already late november it dandelions and daisies were poking out of the earth, nurtured by a steady balmy drizzle. few flakes of snow that had fallen at quickly vanished leading cobblestones glistening on the ground of. as the springlike days wore on it seemed like winter might never come. but it did finally as december 89 the eight arrived. a chill snuck up on moscow like an invading army, snow began to fall before daybreak and continued without interruption. soon a thick coat of white. the city, within a day temperatures dropped another 15 degrees leaving russia's then second-largest city in its more typical seasonal states -- gray and frigid. little else however was typical that december day, particularly at the corner just past the cast
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iron bridge. a pathway that led directly to red square and the kremlin. since a 8m crowns flowed into this neighborhood known as the hub for moscow's flourishing at merchant class. wealthy businessmen are live with their elegant wives and unborn religious leaders love behind other pressing matters to make an appearance, workers and peasants showed up in droves. spilling out into the street leading st. john the baptist church. the crash was so dense that movement became almost impossible. horse-drawn tram's the seesawed through the center were forced to stop running as long lines of caris around the block. at 9:00 a.m. of the bell rang out, mapping the masses to attention, all eyes turned toward a majestic panel chaired out with a canopy of a silver brocade. it was part before the grand as residents on the block, a free story high mention that was a testament to the architectural beauty cropping up all over
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russia. the heavy wooden doors parted in the archdeacon from st. john the baptist church emerged softly reciting prayers. a group bearing a, and decorative but they really fell into line after him. a choir came out then singing the holy god prayer followed by a dozen workers. each carried a pillow with six medals and honors earned by the deceased during an extraordinary life. other church elders and dignitaries followed next. at last cacophony merge and draped in some fabric made of gold and brocade and raspberry velvet -- it was the second day of december and elegant tribute was not for is our or a high-ranking minister or the military chief. the man inside the long open a box was pyotr smirnov, arguably the most famous bottom maker in the world. so most of the information from that passage came from the
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newspapers that covered it smirnov's it funeral and when i read about that i don't buy you but i was pretty amazed to them in such a fuss out of a vodka maker so i really made it my mission to find out why. and i think you'll find it hopefully as fascinating as i did. one of the things about smirnov was the man he was really an extraordinary marketer. when he began making his broadcast in the 1860's there were literally thousands of vodka makers in russia and at the time there were no protections for brands and was likely were going to advertise because most people were illiterate and you couldn't really make flashing labels. that was very expensive and smirnov didn't have the money to do that anyway, but what he did do and it now was his customers. he had been a serve himself and he knew what kinds of things people responded to. it is a very early on in his career as a vodka maker smirnov
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went to a place in moscow, the catch rauf markets and it was one of the snowiest grandest most disgusting places in all of moscow. people would it serve a, try to sell ron food there and keep it warm by ad soliciting on the pots the food was then, that is how the cap the food warm. and one of the journalists at the time called it a moving abroad and picked so you can imagine what this place was like a smirnov when there because people also came there to get a labor and he rounded up 15 men and brought them back to his vodka factory, sat them down and a long table, give them food, gave them vodka, and then he slapped three rubles down in front of each man and he said here's what i wanted to do. i wanted to fan out in moscow and go to the pubs in, walk into the palms and a man swear off
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vodka and when the waiter tells you is never heard of a smirnov vodka let me get to something else i wanted to make a scene and i wanted to make a loud a scene so that everybody here is to say how could you possibly not have this extraordinary vodka? this is the best being made anywhere -- you must servant. and call the manager and make sure everybody hears you. and then leave and go to the next pub and repeat the same all over again. so these men did that and has the story goes within literally days orders for smirnov vodka or flowing in a. but smirnov was march, he wasn't done, he called them back to his factory and he said moscow is good brushes a big country, i want you to get on the train and i wanted to get off every single stop and i wanted to do the same thing they're. and literally in an extraordinarily short time smirnov vodka was one of the top
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producers of vodka and all russia. however, he was doing very well with the masses, people came from backgrounds like his, but he really really longed to be accepted by the aristocracy. he wanted more than anything else really to be the stars purveyor and they were not hanging out at the pub and moscow and the countryside. these people were at tony restaurants in very swishy clubs so he had to figure out something else. when he did was actually quite brilliant started first to enter international competition outside of russia since he went to vienna and paris in philadelphia and chicago and he entered his liquors in these competitions and he started. >> up some awards. there is nothing that russians liked better at the time and for western europeans to a knowledge one of their was doing something worthwhile. so that was the first when he got some attention from his debt
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people, he racked of these awards but what he also had to do was to show himself to be not just a greedy businessman. in russia at the time as you can well imagine merchants or not considered honorary folks. there was a sense of it at this society to cannot be a successful businessman, as you were corrupt and you were taking advantage of the people and you were doing all kinds of things that were not appropriate. so in order to make themselves, i guess some people said to atone for their sense of well, merchants give a lot of their money away. there were big philanthropists. smirnov it being a very smart philanthropist did not give his money away to just at a charity. he actually went out and sought the charities that the czar and favored, the charity started by the aristocrats and had an
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aristocrat's on their boards soon he was a very smart in making these connections with the leaders in russia at the time. so by the time 1886 came around and smirnov applied to be the czar prayer, he came -- to became the speed of prayer and this was a very big thing. the czar had it surveyors for everything, they provided pianos, singers provided them with sewing machines and receive in a real leach man so you could literally name anything and the czar have a prayer but smirnov was in the vodka purveyor and as you can well imagine and russia it was a very big deal. so what happens to a smirnov though is that he gets to be so good at what he does that he almost becomes a lightning rod and for the debate on alcohol and russia. alcoholism still today is a
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problem in russia and it then was still a problem in russia and the smirnov and been so prominent by then become somebody who is associated with a drinking problem. people began to write about him, people you may have heard of for example on -- anton chekhov and the wonderful thrill playwright wrote a column in his early years and he called smirnov by name and under oath bottom makers pillars of stake blood so he didn't mince words adderall. another critic was tolstoy and tolstoy i did not know this but i did learn this, he was a very prominent temperance advocate in russia and he devoted much of his writing and much of his talking and much of his energy to the sobriety movement. in fact, there is a great story about tolstoy: people together in his village putting a sheet of paper down on a big picnic
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table and basically a document telling all the men i wanted to sign this document which basically said that i'm going to give up drinking, i'm going to give up smoking, i'm going to give up all these terrible vices because before really believed it didn't your conscience, that made russian people do things they wouldn't otherwise due and that was why russia wasn't more productive and successful. so he got these people to sign this and then he actually had a ditch dug and made people, they're flasks and the tobacco pouches and anything else in the coupon book -- possibly to and then, he had them throw in the ditch and berlin. and, of course, this did not work but it was a good effort. it was a good attempt in the tolstoy kept up his rants about the alcohol problem for years. in fact, i found out that he was one of the people who design would have been one of the very first alcohol warning labels and it was like a skull and crossbones that's a poison.
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[laughter] but the duma rejected it so it never happened. but tolstoy was effective in raising the profile of the alcohol problem in russia and as a result the czar of the end of the 19th century institute and a vodka monopoly to say that the government was better suited to taking care of the vodka economy than individuals. that was a huge blow as you can well imagine to smirnov business although not fatal. they did some other things that allowed them to stay afloat. he sold a cognac and actually sold spinnaker and her able to float but smirnov's sons were not smirnov, they inherited the business and never having issues of their own. they had grown a. privilege and was nothing they didn't get. they have wonderful educations and are exposed to all the financing some live. the kind of like it that way his
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oldest son was the most like himself and you predominately lead to business until his death in 1910 but the other brothers had issues. one of alcoholism all his life and was never really interested in the business. another brother was much more interested in theater and horse racing and sold his rights in the business. another was kind of a rebel and he actually did the unthinkable. he invested a million dollars and a liberal leaning newspaper that had a jew foreign editors of that was a real bad thing to do. so of the suns really struggled and, of course, the russian revolution happened. everything in russia was nationalized, all private businesses were nationalized and the smirnov suffered like a lot of people did at the time. losing really everything and one of smirnov's sons vladimir was put in a bolshevik -- bolshevik prison and was sentenced to
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death because he was a capitalist and he was lined up actually i wow five different times with the firing squad right in front of him. they would say, ready, aim and then it would break out in laughter. this was psychological torture. out they did this five times. and miraculously into the only reason was the smirnov brand is arrive today is because of the prison that vladimir was in was liberated by the cossacks. it so he was able in 1919 to flee russia, went to western europe, tried to reestablish the brand, not particularly successfully but he did try and ended up licensing the brand to a russian emigre your living in the united states. so in 1934 smirnov became the first vodka that was produced and sold in the united states. it was not a successful. it was a disaster. the united states was pretty
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much of a beer drinking whiskey loving nation and we were so excited about this vodka thing in. silver years this man whose name was -- ended up selling the brand again to accompany called you blind, now part of it larger company known for a one steak sauce and nothing really happened for a while until after world war ii and after world war ii john martin who was the ceo of the company decided we have to do something with this chabad up, have to get rid of it so he got together with his friend the owner of the cock and bull in l.a. which was a hollywood watering hole of the time. the owner of the cock and bull had ginger beer and he needed to get rid of this. he bought all the stuff so they decided let's get our drink together and i don't know how many of you tasted the moscow mule year, but they invented the moscow mule and as a combination of ginger beer, lime juice ended
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smirnov vodka. it was incredibly successful in part because john martin brodeur some of smirnov's old tricks. he took one of the very first polaroid cameras and he went into the bars in l.a. and he took one picture of the bartender mccain the moscow mule and he gave it to the bartender. he took the second pitcher and he walked to the next bar and he said, your competition is making his brain drain, it is called on moscow mule, what are to making it? so pretty soon as the moscow mule became extremely popular drink in the united states and smirnov took off in the u.s.. i find it amazing smirnov was born in 1831, he died in 1898, and today smirnov is the best-selling beer in the world, the number one most valuable brand spirits brand in the world. zero in his ubiquitous as you might imagine, it is a james
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bond joyce of vodka and for god's sake and how much better it is a get than that? so the story is an amazing story, it has relevance to today. we know the product, there are things happening in russia that are reminiscent of some of the things happening in the book that i hope will rain, and that is why i had to read this book. i hope you all like it and i'd be delighted to answer any questions you might have and i have been told there would like you to come and ask questions in the micron. so thank you very much. [applause] >> as the smirnov families in the book and if they have what are their feelings about it? >> well, i don't actually know. i don't know if they have seen it. it's not translated into russian, it will be in portuguese and hung carian and other language but not in russian. and the descendants that i met
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with when i went to russia were in russia and the only spoke russian so we are working on potentially seeing if we can get the book and seeing what they would think but to be honest they're not particularly enthusiastic about my project. at the time i started as the lawsuit was still going on and i went to russia and met with smirnov's great-granddaughters', no matter what i said i could not convince her that i was an independent journalist pursuing a store that i found fascinating. she assumed that i had been hired by the company that owns a the smirnov brand now and i was writing the book to help them win a lawsuit. so just the idea of an independent journalist, it's just not work. to be fair the label wasn't too excited about talking to me either so we spent a lot of time in the archives.
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>> do you think that smirnov vodka today tastes anything like this smirnov vodka? or do you have any clue as to what that would have been like? >> well, you know, i have been asked that question of what and as i said i am not a big drinker so it's a little hard for me to tell. but initially my understanding was that they were making smirnov vodka the way they always had made it, there were some 300 recipes that survive the revolution and were taken to western europe. but when i put the question to the label, they did not really make it quite clear so i am actually not sure. some of the recipes, some of the flavored vodkas definitely made during smirnov's time. he actually would have done really well in the current world because he was a fanatic about fresh and local and natural.
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he used to have herbs and roots carted in from the countryside it literally wagonloads of them brought into his factory in moscow and that one be used in his fight because -- he never you'd essences or artificial flavorings which only introduced later. >> can you talk about the language barrier you probably had not speaking russian and how you got into the archives and how you found people to help you get the information that you are looking to chancellor it into english? >> well, i was very lucky because i found of the world's most wonderful woman to be my researcher and translator and she really stayed with me the whole time. she is a russian living in moscow and she was extraordinary. she was really -- i cannot have done this without her. i did find that i needed, not only for the language issues but for the cultural issues as a


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