Meanwhile, in Georgia

The one south of Russia, Michael Totten gets briefed[*1] on what’s really happening there:

TBILISI, GEORGIA – Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported[*2] over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn’t start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

Regional expert, German native, and former European Commission official Patrick Worms was recently hired by the Georgian government as a media advisor, and he explained to me exactly what happened when I met him in downtown Tbilisi. You should always be careful with the version of events told by someone on government payroll even when the government is friendly as democratic as Georgia’s. I was lucky, though, that another regional expert, author and academic Thomas Goltz, was present during Worms’ briefing to me and signed off on it as completely accurate aside from one tiny quibble.

Goltz has been writing about the Caucasus region for almost 20 years, and he isn’t on Georgian government payroll. He earns his living from the University of Montana and from the sales of his books Azerbaijan Diary[*3] , Georgia Diary[*4] and Chechnya Diary[*5] . Goltz experienced these three Caucasus republics at their absolute worst, and he knows the players and the events better than just about anyone. Every journalist in Tbilisi seeks him out as the old hand who knows more than the rest of us put together, and he wanted to hear Patrick Worms’ spiel to reporters in part to ensure its accuracy.

Essential reading if you want to understand the new imperialism of Russia, and cut through the disinformation of the Russians and their apologists.

UPDATE:  There are reports that Totten’s web site is being cyberattacked.  I wonder who could be doing that?

I can’t watch Democrats

I’m sorry.  I tried.  I really did.  I sat in front of my big-screen TV, on my Big-Ass Sectional couch in the basement, with a large mug of Coke Zero at my arm, and I tried to watch the Democratic National Convention–on C-Span, to get by the blathering of the news channel talking heads and actually listen to what the convention speakers had to say.

I lasted about five minutes.

There really are two Americas–two worlds.  There’s the one where the Democrats live, and the other one, where I live.

The Democrats’ one is where health care, education, racism, sexism, whatever-ism are, now and forever, the main issues to be addressed.   Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is, now and forever, the single policy prescription to solve all of those problems.  Economics and human nature both can be changed, if only we believe hard enough.

That’s the philosophy of Dorothy in Oz.  Click your heels together and say “I want it to be better, I want it to be better, I want it to be better.”  Hey guys, remember that Oz was a fever dream of Dorothy’s.  It wasn’t real–even in the movie, it wasn’t real.

What the Democrats want is not Change.  What they want is all too familiar–we’ve seen it before.  What the Democratic Party wants is, exactly, Marxism.  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”  That is a policy prescription that has been proven over and over and over by history to be disastrously wrong.  It destroys the very thing that it seeks to save–human dignity and individual liberty.

The ONLY change I see to the decades-long cry of “workers of the world, unite!” is the overlay of watermelon environmentalism (green on the outside, red on the inside) giving an additional veneer of save-the-worldism to the tired bromides of socialism.

The seductive siren song of collectivism will always be with us.  And it must always be opposed, for the sake of the least of us–for the sake of all of us.

Morning Whip, August 26, 2005

#10: Chinese try to get chimp to quit smoking
#9: Google News is broken
#8: Rolling blackouts in California
#7: Royals slap around Schilling, Red Sox
#6: Michael Yon: New Media Star
#5: French Intelligence: Al Qaida targeting Asia
#4: Bolton wants a different kind of UN reform
#3: Iraqis continue to struggle with Constitution
#2: BRAC keeps Ellsworth AFB, closes Walter Reed hospital
#1: CIA internal report recommends disciplinary actions

A Dave Ramsey rant

Read it in full here[*1] .  Extended excerpt:

Henry started 15 years ago, and now he has 17 employees whose families are fed because he does a great job. He is in church on Sunday and seldom misses his kids’ Little League games. Sometimes he has to miss a game because some poor soul has their AC go out in the 96-degree Tennessee summer heat, but Henry makes sure they are served. He is, by all standards, a good man. He is, by all standards, what makes America great.

Henry and I are friends, and so he asked me some financial questions last year. I learned in the process that his personal taxable income last year was $328,000. I smiled with pride for this 70-hour a week guy because he is living the dream.

At the stop light that evening, I also thought of another guy I know—and that is where the anger flash came from. We will call him John. While John does not have the same drive Henry has, I can say that he, too, is a good man.

John also graduated from high school and did not attend a big-name university. He went to work at a local factory 15 years ago. When 5:00pm comes around, John has probably already made it to his car in the parking lot. He comes in 5 minutes late, takes frequent breaks, and leaves 5 minutes early. However, to his credit, he is steady and works hard.

Over the years, due to his steadiness and seniority, he has worked his way up to about $75,000 per year in that same factory. He seldom misses his kid’s ballgames, but most nights you will find him in front of the TV where he has become an expert on “American Idol,” “The Biggest Loser,” and who got thrown off the island. When he is not in front of the TV, he spends a LOT of time and money bass fishing on our local lake. He never works over 40 hours a week and hasn’t read a non-fiction book since high school.

This is America, and there is nothing wrong with either set of choices. Nothing wrong, that is, until the politicians and socialists get involved.

At one time, what Ramsey says here was common sense.  Perhaps it will be again someday.

The smell of vice presidents in the morning

The early, early morning, that is.

Obama chooses 2 a.m. Central Time to announce Joe Biden as his vice-presidential pick.  At least, I woke up in the middle of the night, turned on the radio, and the 3 AM newscast said he’d sent out the text message “an hour ago.”

I guess I would too.

Although I wonder how many Obama true believers and others Obama woke up.

Two a.m. text messages–change you can believe in.

Some things deserve to be repeated

Thomas Sowell, writing at[*1] on why centrally planned economies (like, for instance, the current U.S. education system) never, ever work:

One easy to understand reason is that central planners in the days of the Soviet Union had to set over 24 million prices. Nobody is capable of setting and changing 24 million prices in a way that will direct resources and output in an efficient manner.

For that, each of the 24 million prices would have to be weighed and set against each of the other 24 million prices. in order to provide incentives for resources to go where they were most in demand by producers and output to go where it was most in demand by consumers.

In a market economy, however, nobody has to take on such an impossible task. Each producer and each consumer need only be concerned with the relatively few prices relevant to their own decisions, with coordination of the economy being left to supply and demand.

Central planning of economic activities is NEVER as efficient or as advantageous to regular folks as free market systems are.  Never.

And pretty much every thing human beings do is an economic activity.  Health care.  Education.  Filling up the gas tank.  Buying groceries.  Finding an apartment and paying the rent.  Taking out a home loan.  Pretty much everything.