Friday, August 22, 2008

Report from Tbilisi (Georgia) by Michael J. Totten

Russia's invasion of Georgia has unleashed a refugee crisis all over the country and especially in its capital. Every school here in Tbilisi is jammed with civilians who fled aerial bombardment and shootings by the Russian military--or massacres, looting, and arson by irregular Cossack paramilitary units swarming across the border. Russia has seized and effectively annexed two breakaway Georgian provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It has also invaded the region of Gori, which unlike them had been under Georgia's control. Gori is in the center of the country, just an hour's drive from Tbilisi; 90 percent of its citizens have fled, and the tiny remainder live amid a violent mayhem overseen by Russian occupatio! n forces that, despite Moscow's claims to the contrary, are not yet withdrawing.

On Monday, I visited one of the schools transformed into refugee housing in the center of Tbilisi and spoke to four women--Lia, Nana, Diana, and Maya--who had fled with their children from a cluster of small villages just outside the city of Gori. "We left the cattle," Lia said. "We left the house. We left everything and came on foot because to stay there was impossible." Diana's account: "They are burning the houses. From most of the houses they are taking everything. They are stealing everything, even such things as toothbrushes and toilets. They are taking the toilets. Imagine. They are taking broken refrigerators." And Nana: "We are so heartbroken. I don't know what to say or even think. Our whole lives we were working to save something, and one day we lost everything. Now I have to start everything from the very beginning."

Seven families were living cheek by jowl inside a single classroom, sleeping on makeshift beds made of desks pushed together. Small children played with donated toys; at times, their infant siblings cried. Everyone looked haggard and beaten down, but food was available and the smell wasn't bad. They could wash, and the air conditioning worked.

"There was a bomb in the garden and all the apples on the trees fell down," Lia remembered. "The wall fell down. All the windows were destroyed. And now there is nothing left because of the fire."

"Did you actually see any Russians," I said, "or did you leave before they got there?"

"They came and asked us for wine, but first we had to drink it ourselves to show that it was not poisoned. Then they drank the wine themselves. And then they said to leave this place as soon as possible; otherwise they would kill us. The Russians were looking for anyone who had soldiers in their home. If anyone had a Georgian soldier at home they burned the houses immediately."

Her husband had remained behind and arrived in Tbilisi shortly before I did. "He was trying to keep the house and the fields," she explained. "Afterward, he wanted to leave, but he was circled by soldiers. It was impossible. He was in the orchards hiding from the Russians in case they lit the house. He was walking and met the Russian soldiers and he made up his mind that he couldn't stay any more. The Russian soldiers called him and asked where he was going, if he was going to the American side."

"The Russians said this to him?" I said.

"My husband said he was going to see his family," she said. "And the Russians said again, 'Are you going to the American side?'"

"So the Russians view you as the American side, even though there are no Americans here."

"Yes," she said. "Because our way is for democracy."

More here


The mortgage crisis

A good summary from Boortz

Every day it seems we hear endless stories about the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. The MSM just won't give you the whole story. Just a few facts to chew on today as you listen to more foreclosure and bad loan horror stories.

* This whole mess started because the media and liberals in congress were rattling their sabers over the lack of mortgages being offered to people with bad credit, limited incomes and poor job histories. So .. the loans were made, and now you see what happened. If the mortgage market had been left to operate without the threats of government interference things would have been quite a bit different.

* In 1999 only about 62% of privately owned homes carried a mortgage. Not sure what the figure is today, probably a bit higher. But of all the homes out there with mortgages, 97% of those mortgages are up to date .. that means not in default. That means that when you hear the media bleating about the mortgage crisis you could be talking about 3% of 62% of all privately owned homes. For those of you educated in government schools that would mean about 1.86 homeowners out of every 100 that are having a problem. This is NOT a crises.

* There are a lot of people out there who own homes who should be renting.

In about two years you're going to hear the bedwetters in congress and the media together with some liberal "activist" groups griping about the lack of available mortgages for people with bad credit, limited incomes and poor job histories ... and this whole mess will get cranked up again.

What even Boortz is not blunt enough to mention, however, is that it was primarily Congressional pressure to lend to blacks that generated the poorly secured loans



100 pastors vow to defy IRS -- faith or folly? "The Associated Press made the startling announcement on May 9 that the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is actively recruiting pastors to challenge the so-called, 'Johnson Law' on September 28 and preach a sermon from the pulpit in which they will advocate the support of particular candidates in the fall election. If the action triggers an IRS investigation, the Arizona-based legal group will sue to overturn the federal rules, which were enacted in 1954. Under the IRS code, churches can distribute voter guides, run voter registration drives, hold forums on public policy and invite politicians to speak to their congregations. However, they cannot endorse a candidate, and their political activity cannot be biased for or against a candidate, directly or indirectly; neither can a church support specific legislation."

Surprises from the divorce revolution: "It may seem obvious that easier divorce laws make for more divorce and more insecurity. But what is obvious is not necessarily true. What two scholars have found is that when you make divorce easier to get, you may actually produce better marriages. In the old days, anyone who wanted to escape from the trials of wedlock had to get his or her spouse to agree to a split, or else go to court to prove the partner had done something terribly wrong (such as committing adultery). The 1960s and '70s brought 'no-fault' divorce, which is also known as 'unilateral divorce,' since either party can bring it about without the consent of the other. The first surprise is that looser divorce laws have actually had little effect on the number of marriages that fall apart."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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