Sunday, August 31, 2008

Last Day of August Vent

So you like the "I HAVE A DREAM" speach? Thats good, listen. He did not say drop out of school, have 10 kids before you reach 24, live off the taxpayers. What he said was get off your lazy butts and make something out of your life. Maybe time to listen?

Wow. Atlanta, GA has two zoos now. One at Grant Park and the other at city hall.

Clayton County, GA loses SACS accreditation and the first thing some of the parents do is take their kids out of school? You gotta be kidding me. That says far more about the parents than the school board.

If the NAACP was taken to task everytime they make a racist comment, this practice would quickly come to a grinding halt. The political leaders continue to do it as they see no public uprising from their leaders. Look at Jess Jacksons comments and racial slurs on Osama Obama?

So teachers in Texas are now carrying guns. This would never happen elsewhere; not because people are against guns, but they're afraid the teachers will actually have to use them.

When the college coaches are out scouting for new talent, are they performing background checks on potential college athletes? I guess not since so many are getting in trouble with the law.

Is it just me or did Hillary look like a big construction cone the other night? Geez! We could have seen her in the dark!

There's a local company that posted job listings 6 months ago for an immediate hire date. As of today those same job postings are still available. Are these companies trying to fill these positions or is it a ploy to make the economy not as bad as it seems?

Translation of the Price-Waterhouse Grady Hospital report: There's no free lunch. If someone doesn't start paying for the health care services they receive, nobody will receive any service because the hospital will close.

Ah, yes, It's college football season; that time when the dream of your team winning the national championship hasn't yet been ruined by the lunacy that is the BCS or the losers at ESPN or ABC Sports.

I appreciate the Immigration Service finally earning their pay by raiding companies that employ illegal aliens. I encourage them to pick up the pace.

Florida has gotten 24-plus inches of rain in some areas. Maybe now we can stop emptying Lake Lanier of the water we have left.

My friend's daughter is now away at college, but before she left complained that I was using offensive four letter words in her presence. Words like work, earn and save.


80s Music Video Flashback....

The Cars - "Drive"
Directed by Ron Howard

with Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova.....about how a beautiful woman can completely come apart and destroy herself. There are also references to alcoholism in the song and video too. Great video, though sad. Worth remembering with a message.

Hot Stories for the Week with Links

  • Divine lightning reaction?
    A Chinese man who swore to God that he didn't owe money to a neighbor was hit by lightning a minute later.
  • UFOs: Flying Emotions
    Seth Shostak of SETI reacts to the hostile emails he's received related to his skeptical position on "the UFO hypothesis."
  • Scream GB
    Britain's spookiest cities have been pinpointed in a new survey by Lionel Fanthorpe. --The Sun
  • Where's Planet X?
    The evidence for this 10th planet is compelling, but no one has ever seen the fabled planet.
  • A Ghost in the White House!
    Could the mysterious figure in a photo taken by Abbie Rowe of construction work in the White House be a ghost? --Mysterytopia
  • Debunked 9/11 Conspiracy Claims From NIST
    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report has responded directly to many conspiracy claims, specifically linked to WTC 7. --Popular Mechanics

Open to the Spirit

Since 1098, the Cistercian order of monks have existed alone for God and welcomed travelers from all over. This is one visitor's experience in first person.

I hadn't been to the monastery that lays on the outskirts of Conyers, Georgia in over 20 years. I remember very little of that experience except for the hauntingly solemn masses and the quiet talks I had with aged monks in the recesses of the abbey.

I was reminded on this trip of how vocal I had been on many occasions regarding the Catholic hierarchy - a sort of opponent of the ways and means of the Catholic church. I don't fault the monks or even the parishioners; I fault the church itself for its baseless attempts at controlling Christianity which cannot be found in Scripture. Nonetheless, I was excited about one of several trips I would be making to this monastery: to get centered.

I slowly drove into the entrance on Georgia highway 212 and eased up to the guest accommodations to eventually start unloading my car. I made my way to the clerk who quickly confirmed my reservation for staying and gave me a key.

After taking a very slow elevator to the third floor, I get to my room and settle in.
I thought about the ways I have sinned all these years and have asked for forgiveness; the things I had done wrong and have repented for those acts. I was truly in God's house. I could feel a difference in myself - safe, loved and open. I was in fear and awe. I sat on the bed and cried but not for sadness. It was different. It was release.

When I was in church one Sunday at my neighborhood church, I remember the same feelings on the Sunday after Epiphany - the week that followed Christ's baptism and God's announcement that it is in His Son that He is well pleased. For the first time in my life, I knowingly came face to face with the Holy Spirit. That Sunday I was just as overwhelmed with released - the tears didn't seem to stop then, and they were surely not stopping here. I was open to the Spirit and ready for however He might move on me.

I decided to go for a walk after my tearful release of the things of this world. It was hot, muggy and the sun was out. If I had been on a cycling event, I don't think there would have been enough water to quench my thirst - four bottles of liquid on a bike never seems to be enough for me. I always encounter many things in my day that makes me smile. Two of them are children and animals. Kids like me and they gravitate toward me and I love kids. Animals are no different. As soon as I exited the guest cottage, I came across a curious lizard. I looked at him, he looked at me and graciously posed for several pictures before almost winking, then heading back to the bushes....

I headed down to the lake, which was full of ducks. I sat and watched them for a while, perspiration pouring off me, but I didn't notice. It was quiet on the lake, except for the sounds of occasional quacking and ruffling of duck feathers...

A 180 degree picture of my lake view

I can't say my times during the summer at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit and the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit were life changing. That's sounds so melodramatic, but the experience did center me again and that was what I was counting on. I wasn't lost and had totally become some roaming stranger in the wilderness. Instead, I needed answers and if nothing else, assurance via the closeness I can only get from Him. I always seek to know Him and His will for me. I can only do this by withdrawing from the daily grind and have some time to be quiet, listen, be still. I was able to experience spiritual joy while at the monastery and still kindle the fires from those days.

I am always in God's house no matter where I am, as I carry that feeling where ever I go. But the monastery and abbey weren't ordinary houses of God. They were on holy ground!

Some Christians talk about light as a metaphor for holiness, and darkness as a metaphor for evil. In other words, a Christian is to run to the light and avoid the dark. The Bible actually describes light and darkness this way.

"God is light; there is no darkness in Him at all.
If we say that we are in union with Him while we are
living in darkness, we are lying because we are not living the truth.
But if we live our lives in the light as He is in the light,
we are in union with one another, and the blood of Jesus,
His Son, purifies us from all sin."

Jesus said,

"I, the light, have come into the world, so that whoever believes in me need not stay in the dark anymore."

But, as we all know from Creation, God did not bring light into the world until He created the universe. Until it came time for God to relate to humankind, and to fulfill His will through the human race, the universe was formless, void...and dark. Even before light was created, God was in His own light. I spent many a day while at the monastery reading in the light and pausing and reflecting in the night. Many days in the summer were spent reflecting on the lake: of His love, His mercy, grace and peace. The heat made no difference and I was unscathed from the sun. I feel more whole and centered from these trips.

Father, I willingly meet You in the shade today.


to be continued....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

UGA vs GS: Little Brother Week

Top-ranked Georgia blasts Georgia Southern
Athens, GA - Knowshon Moreno rushed for three touchdowns and Matthew Stafford passed for two scores, as top-ranked Georgia opened its season with a 45-21 triumph over Georgia Southern.

Starting the season No. 1 for the first time in school history, the Bulldogs (1-0) showed plenty of firepower continuing from a spectacular finish to the 2007 campaign. Georgia went 11-2, including a 41-10 thrashing of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl last season.

Stafford completed 13-of-21 passes for a career-high 275 yards, and Moreno, coming off a season in which he scored 14 times on 1,334 rushing yards, ran for 59 yards on Saturday.

Game Notes

Freshman tailback Caleb King led Georgia with 12 carries for 95 yards...Georgia's new mascot, Uga VII, made his debut for the Bulldogs......Uga VI posted the most wins of any bulldog in school history with a record of 87-27 from 1999-2007......The Bulldogs own an all-time Sanford Stadium record of 302-103-1 including 64-15-1 in home openers. Georgia has won its home opener 12 consecutive years......Under head coach Mark Richt, the Bulldogs are 31-2 against non-conference foes including 21-0 in Sanford Stadium. The last time Georgia lost a non-conference game at home was during the 2000 season to Georgia Tech......Georgia is 4-0 all-time against the Eagles......Georgia hosts Central Michigan next Saturday, while Georgia Southern is at home versus Austin Peay......Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Owens left the game in the opening quarter with a right knee injury......Georgia has now won its last 12 season openers.


Georgia vs Georgia Southern

Game Breakdown

Offense Edge: Georgia

Georgia has four first-time starters on its offensive line, but Georgia Southern has had a major overhaul in its personnel across the offense. The Bulldogs will get a chance to display freshmen skill players A.J. Green at receiver and Tavarres King and Richard Samuel at running back. The Eagles this season return just three starters. Georgia Southern lost its top three rushers from last year and a pair of freshmen - Adam Urbano and Samair Baker - are the top two running backs.

Defense Edge: Georgia

Georgia returns nine starters and should be able to showcase its depth in a game like this. Georgia Southern has practiced a new 3-3-5 scheme that has Bulldogs coaches unsure of what they might see, but the Eagles should have trouble stopping Knowshon Moreno and company anyway. Georgia Southern ranked 90th in the Football Bowl Subdivision last season in total defense (404.6) and surrendered 32 points per game. Senior Jarius Wynn is among defensive ends looking to replace SEC sack leader Marcus Howard's productivity.

Coaching Edge: Georgia

Mark Richt begins his eighth season at Georgia with expectations never higher. With Mike Bobo now in his second full season as offensive playcaller, Richt should be well-suited to manage his team in that position. He begins the season 72-19, fourth in winning percentage among active coaches. Chris Hatcher, 83-16 as a head coach, seems to have the Georgia Southern program headed in the right direction in his second season, although this looks like a rebuilding year.

Intangibles Edge: Georgia

This doesn't feel like a letdown type game against an overmatched opponent. Not with Georgia heading into the game with a preseason No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history. Georgia Southern has eight players suspended, further depleting a roster that already was being overhauled. This isn't the year for the Eagles to come close to bringing down the big boys from in-state.

Special teams Edge: Georgia

Overall Edge: Georgia

This has mismatch written all over it. It does not have the look of an Appalachian State stunning Michigan from last season. Thirty of Georgia Southern's top 44 players on its two-deep roster will be playing their first game for the Eagles. If Georgia's offensive line is decent, expect Georgia to look like a team that is a national title contender and win decidedly.

Fast Facts


• Statesboro is home not only to Georgia Southern but the hometown of three Georgia players. Safety John Knox, defensive end Justin Houston and defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson all hail from Statesboro.

• Kicker Blair Walsh will become the first first-year freshman kicker to play in a Georgia season-opener since Kevin Butler in 1981. Butler, whose son Drew is the backup punter for the Bulldogs, is a frequent visitor to practice.

• Uga VII makes his debut today. His predecessor, Uga VI, served as the team's mascot from 1999-2007 and is the winningest Uga with an 87-27 record.

Georgia Southern

• Georgia Southern's uniforms were ranked eighth last year among top 10 college uniforms by They trailed Texas, Michigan, Auburn, Yale, Notre Dame, Wofford and Ohio State. Georgia was 10th.

• Among program traditions under former coach Erk Russell is the Eagle Creek water. Water from a drainage ditch is bottled and taken on some road trips and sprinkled onto the field.

• Notable alumni of Georgia Southern, a school of 16,841: Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, Detroit Pistons coach Michael Curry and PGA golfers Mike Donald and Aron Price

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

and Go Dawgs!


Monday, August 25, 2008

360 Degrees: Blog Sponsor Ad - August 08

Friday, August 22, 2008

Time To Wake Up.....

I've had a few days away to concentrate on many things on my plate this month and I have appreciated the many emails regarding this blog. Thanks to Tony and Melissa for keeping the blog up for me. I think this blog has a message (don't they all?), however, I must qualify this particular post that contains an important video so that certain agendas (or non-agendas) are clear.

1) I am neither a conspiracy theorist, anti-government nor anti-authority activist. The hippie movement of the 60s & 70s is dead and was a total joke. While everyone was on pot, I was in school. I'm a solid, educated. taxpaying citizen.

2) I am not a Bush hater - although he's not a Conservative. Like a his dad and grandfathers, he is involved in many things as an instrument for the times to come. He is only playing a role he and the others in 'power' (including the 'candidates' for president) are stringed-up to play. It is important to note that many in power in the U.S. and in the world will never show their faces or reveal their names unless uncovered by the bloggers.

3) Having worked in mainstream news media as a news director for major market radio, I am aware of the lack of integrity that goes into each story when it comes to reporting news of governmental affairs. This is why I left it and more actively pursued science, art and cyberjournalism as professions. This isn't some wink during a county commission meeting (although there are numerous instances of intense corruption and deception on the local level), this is a nod and turning of the head while stories get buried, sources disappear, and well meaning reporters get reassigned.

4) I am a Christian and believe the times we are seeing and will continue to see are predicted - so there is no fear mongering on my part. I think it is important to be prepared and stay informed (an upcoming post will show you how to prepare for the storm ahead).

Any questions:

Now the video that will hopefully wake you up out of your slumber....

Thanks to INDI for the use of this video.


Hot Stories for the Week with Links


Monday, August 18, 2008

360 Degrees: Blog Sponsor Ad

Thursday, August 14, 2008

GI who liberated Nazi death camp dies at 83

James Hoyt delivered mail in rural Iowa for more than 30 years. Yet Hoyt had long kept a secret from most of those who knew him best: He was one of the four U.S. soldiers to first see Germany's Buchenwald concentration camp.

Hoyt died Monday at his home in Oxford, Iowa, a town of about 700 people where he had lived his entire life. He was 83.

His funeral was Thursday at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Oxford, with about 100 people in attendance. The Rev. Edmond Dunn officiated and recalled time he spent with Hoyt and his wife.

"I used to go over to have lunch with Doris and Jim, and I would sit across from Jim at the kitchen table and think, 'Before me is a true American hero,' " he said.

Hoyt had rarely spoken about that day in 1945, but he recently opened up to a journalist.

"There were thousands of bodies piled high. I saw hearts that had been taken from live people in medical experiments," Hoyt told author Stephen Bloom in a soon-to-be-published book called "The Oxford Project."

"They said a wife of one of the SS officers -- they called her the Bitch of Buchenwald -- saw a tattoo she liked on the arm of a prisoner, and had the skin made into a lampshade. I saw that."

Pete Geren, the secretary of the U.S. Army, said the sacrifice Hoyt made for his country so many years ago should never be forgotten.

"It's important that we don't allow ourselves to lose him," Geren told CNN by phone. "It's the memory of heroes like James Hoyt and the memories of what they've done that we must ensure that we keep alive and share with the current generation and future generations.

"Mr. Hoyt, as a young man, saw unspeakable horrors when he was one of the soldiers to discover the Buchenwald concentration camp, and those are experiences as a country and a world we can never forget.

"You think back on a young man 19 years old and to have the experience that he had," Geren said, his voice dissolving before finishing his thought.

The discovery of Buchenwald, on April 11, 1945, began the liberation of more than 21,000 prisoners from one of the largest Nazi concentration camps of World War II.

The official U.S. military account of the liberation called the camp "a symbol of the chill-blooded cruelty of the German Nazi state," where thousands of political prisoners were starved and "others were burned, beaten, hung and shot to death."

"There is reason to believe that the prompt arrival of the 6th Armored Division ... on the scene saved many hundreds and perhaps thousands of lives," it said.

As a private first class in the U.S. Army, Hoyt was just 19 when he and his three comrades -- Capt. Frederic Keffer, Tech. Sgt. Herbert Gottschalk and Sgt. Harry Ward -- found Buchenwald in a well-hidden wooded area of eastern Germany. Hoyt was driving their M8 armored vehicle.

According to military records, Keffer was the officer in command of the six-wheeled armored vehicle that day. The soldiers were part of the Army's 6th Armored Division near the camp when about 15 SS troopers were captured. It was mid-afternoon.

"At the same time, a group of Russians just escaped from the concentration camp, burst out of the woods attempting to attack the SS men. The Russians were restrained and interrogated," Maj. Gen. R.W. Grow, the American commander of the 6th Armored Division, wrote in a 1975 letter about the Buchenwald liberation.

Keffer was ordered to take his three comrades and two of the Russian prisoners "as guides to investigate, report and rejoin as rapidly as possible."

"I took this side journey of about 3 km away from our main force because we kept encountering SS guards and prison inmates, and the latter told us of the large camp to the south," Keffer wrote in a letter around the 30th anniversary of the liberation.

"We had been told by our intelligence that we might overrun a large prison camp, but we -- or at least I -- had no idea of either the gigantic size of the camp or of the full extent of the incredible brutality."

Keffer and Gottschalk, who spoke German, entered the camp through a hole in an electric barbed wire fence. Hoyt and Ward initially stayed at the vehicle.

"We were tumultuously greeted by what I was told were 21,000 men, and what an incredible greeting that was," Keffer wrote. "I was picked up by arms and legs, thrown into the air, caught, thrown again, caught, thrown, etc., until I had to stop it. I was getting dizzy.

"How the men found such a surge of strength in their emaciated condition was one of those bodily wonders in which the spirit sometimes overcomes all weaknesses of the flesh. My, but it was a great day!"

Keffer said the prisoners, through an underground system, had already taken control of the camp. The four soldiers notified division command to get medical help and food to the prisoners as soon as possible.

The 6th Armored Division newspaper "Armored Attacker" ran a headline on May 5, 1945: "Four 9th AIB Doughs Find Buchenwald." The article described the discovery as "the worst concentration camp yet to be uncovered by west wall troops."

Hoyt, a Bronze Star recipient and veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, was the last of the four original liberators to die.

Born May 16, 1925, to a railroad worker and a schoolteacher, James Francis Hoyt Sr. returned to his Iowa hometown after the war and largely kept quiet about the atrocities he saw. He and Doris married in 1949 and had six children. "She's the love of my life," he said.

He met Bloom, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa, in recent years and began telling him his story.

Even 63 years after the liberation, Hoyt suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and attended a weekly group therapy session at a Veterans Affairs facility.

"Seeing these things, it changes you. I was a kid," he said. "Des Moines had been the furthest I'd ever been from home. I still have horrific dreams. Usually someone needs help and I can't help them. I'm in a situation where I'm trapped and I can't get out."

Hoyt was invited to attend the 50th anniversary of the liberation, but he declined. "I didn't want to bring back those memories."

"Thinking back, I would have pushed to be a psychologist -- if for no other reason than to understand myself better."

The military documents detailing Hoyt's involvement in the Buchenwald liberation were discovered in a box in an archive at the The Center for Military History this week after a CNN query.

It was fitting for the humble Iowan. Hoyt listed his greatest achievement not as a Buchenwald liberator, but as spelling bee champ of Johnson County in 1939, when he was in eighth grade. "I still remember the word I spelled correctly: 'archive,' " he said.

The story of James Hoyt -- mail carrier, spelling bee champ and American hero -- has now been archived for history. Sacrifices like his were something his commander once said future generations should never forget.

"Memories of evil get erased, for life must go on, and new generations cannot be locked in the past. But they would do well to remember the past," Keffer wrote.

At Hoyt's graveside Thursday, a 12-veteran color guard gave him a traditional three-shot salute. Hoyt's casket was draped with the American flag, and that flag was folded, as is tradition, 12 times.

Retired Gen. Robert Sentman gave the flag to Doris Hoyt. Sentman had earlier told mourners about the Buchenwald liberation.

"When the prisoners saw Jim, they picked him up and threw him in the air, that's how happy they were after seeing such horrors. Prisoners had been hung from hooks to die. He saw a lampshade made from a prisoner's tattoo. Jim carried those horrors with him forever. He never got what he had seen out of his mind. If you ever wondered about Jim, think about what he saw."

"When you were discharged, no one really gave a hoot about you. It was difficult for a compassionate person like Jim to forget what he saw. He was a hero."


Sources: Fox News, CNN, Wire Reports

Further Reading:

"The Oxford Project"
Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center

Political Thoughts & Notes

A biting criticism and a harsh indictment of the things that are, but due for a change.

People have applauded House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi's backbone in shutting down the house and not allowing a vote on dissolving the moratorium on drilling. They are led to believe that this is Pelosi's stand on the environment. However, she couldn't care less about the environment. Instead, she is reaping the financial benefits of investing in T. Boone Pickens' alternative energy company. She is no different from a Republican: lots of money, despises the opposing political party and full of conflicts of interest.

It is sad what I see going on in Georgia. I don't blame Russia; the U.S. has been guilty of the same. The U.S., Russia and Georgia all share equally in the blame game. So what are they doing to fix things? The U.S. being allied with Georgia can be at the negotiating table, but should keep its mouth shut. The diplomatic and ambassador corp has been in place too long without fresh blood. These same people have been employed since Nixon, some since Kennedy. They are arrogant, outdated and unwanted by this country. Thanks for your service, go live on Maui. Meanwhile, as always, the governed suffer over the stupid of the governing.

Doesn't it seem unusual that Russia had a very large force ready to go at a moments notice? Giving Russian passports to Georgian citizens is the same tactic Hitler used in giving German passports to Czech citizens of German descent in 1937. It was just a ploy to legitimize protecting a "minority" that wasn't in jeopardy in the first place. When will we start learning from history instead of failing to learn history in the first place?

The U.S. is run by three politically corrupt organizations: the Democrats and the Republicans. If you do not see this, please refrain from taking your ignorant butt to the polls. Republicans buy votes through businesses and industry - they love the money. Democrats buy votes through social programs, which is why the two main characters (Obama and Clinton) want more social programs for illegal aliens. Apparently these two fascists forgot the meaning of the word ILLEGAL. This is why they do nothing about immigration, aliens, border control: more votes. Republicans are no different: cheap labor. And name one or two things Obama has actually, well, done. Change? Obama for change? It's the same effing rhetoric every slick politician spews. He has not enough experience to implement change. And McCain flip-flops as much as Obama. Clinton, well she's just power hungry. We already know she's greedy as the pope. We have such traitors and worms, total bums in our leadership..... The third organization is the media. The media will only the bums and traitors only if their rating books increase. The media lacks the concept and the conviction of being good loyal Americans. They couldn't define the First Amendment if their bottom lines depended on it.

John McCain announced his running mate as Tom Ridge, former Director of Homeland Security. Same faces, same crap. McCain is a toad. Ridge left his U.S. Government position to become the Director of Security for Albania. Ridge is a toadstool.

George W. Bush is not a Reagan or a Goldwater Conservative. He isn't even a Republican. He's a Neocon. Like Clinton, like Obama, like McCain, the country will continue to have another piece of its soul sold to the higher interest of greed, paranoia, and powerful. And any president who mugs for the cameras while at the Olympics while holding the effing American flag backwards needs to have an effing cactus shoved up his orifice.

So who to vote for to get this country back on target: traditional values, security but not at the expense of fear and loathing and tyranny, freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of speech (the Fairness Doctrine is a hoax), true, God's honest freedom, before your soul is sold to the devil and you and your family are carried off to a concentration camp, regardless of whether you have paid your high taxes or not......the lesser of two evil in the election........I'm thinking about buying land in Australia at the end of this year....


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Empire Strikes Back, Part 2

Russia's invasion of Georgia has less to do with South Ossetia than with a Russia that never reconciled itself to losing an empire — or to being treated like a second-rate power all these years. Russia's resentment has only grown as oil prices have risen, turning Russia, with the 5 million bbl. of oil it exports a day, into a first-world economic power. It was only a matter of time, then, before Russia taught the world a lesson.

Since the Soviet Union collapsed 17 years ago, Washington in particular has deluded itself into believing that it was somehow a real competitor to Russia in the southern tier of the former Soviet Union — that is, the eight states that make up the Caucasus and the former Soviet Central Asia. Washington acted as if these states were truly independent and sovereign, immune from the influence of the old metropolitan center, Moscow. Washington deliberately ignored how Russia had held on to its military bases in the southern tier, how the successor to the KGB stayed more plugged into intelligence from the area than the CIA ever hoped to, and how local leaders flew to Moscow to clear all important decisions. This was the context for Washington's push to get Georgia to join NATO.

Moscow's intentions were never secret. I can attest to that firsthand. During Tajikistan's civil war in the early 1990s, the Russian officers who commanded the 201st Motorized Rifle Division were proud that the Red Army had held together through the breakup of the Soviet Union and was called to come to the aid of a superpower like the United States in assisting the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy. They had no inkling that Washington would ignore the facts on the ground and deny Russia's true influence in the region.

The picking apart of Yugoslavia, particularly the splitting off of Kosovo from Serbia, further fueled Russian resentment and humiliation. It reminded Russia how the U.S. had undermined it in the Middle East, peeling off Egypt, South Yemen, Iraq and Syria from its sphere of influence over the decades. But more than anything else, Russia would never forget that it was Washington that created the Sunni jihadist Frankenstein in Afghanistan. That was an arrow pointed straight at the heart of Russia. With Muslims making up 10% to 15% of Russia's population, the Afghan-born jihad became an existential threat to Russia proper. Indeed, it would slosh across the continent into Chechnya.

Through it all, Russia bided its time — until Georgia offered up a golden opportunity last Friday. By invading its neighbor, Russia has crossed the Rubicon, demonstrating that the Caucasus sit squarely and solely in Russia's sphere of influence. Moscow's long-term objectives in Georgia no doubt are to install a friendly government in Tbilisi (it has tried more than once to do that since Georgian independence), keep Georgia out of NATO, stop the flow of arms into Chechnya and take control of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the only important export route from the Caspian that does not pass through Russia. For it is oil that will give Russia all the more leverage over the southern tier.

The question now is what else Russia is prepared to do to make up for those 17 years of humiliation. One thing we should pretty much count on is that Moscow right now is casting an eye toward Iran, the most direct route to restoring its influence in the Middle East. An Iranian-Russian alliance, Moscow knows, would be an Israeli-American nightmare, not to mention a major headache for the global economy. Russia sitting on Eurasian oil exports and Iran on the Strait of Hormuz would put 22 million bbl. a day under the control of a very unfriendly alliance. Will Moscow try to team up with Tehran?

The thing about nightmare scenarios is that they rarely come true. Still, it bears watching. There are half a dozen pending arms deals between Russia and Iran on the table, including the Russian S-300, an air-defense system that would make an aerial attack on Iran very costly. If Russia, emboldened by a victory in Georgia, were to go ahead with the deal now, it would be a sign that imperial Russia is truly back on the move.


Obama Lied About Vote Against Live-Birth Abortion Ban. Media Mum

Jill Stanek has done yeoman's work on uncovering the fact that Barack Obama and his surrogates have been outright lying about Obama's constant votes against the Live-Birth abortion bills when he was in office in the State legislature. His claims have been a staple of Old Media reports from the beginning, but now that Stanek has revealed the truth we will have to see if the Old Media corrects the record or if they suddenly just go mum on the subject like they have so far.

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) both in the Illinois and Federal legislatures was meant to make illegal death by neglect of born but unwanted infants. These bills were opposed by the bulk of the Democrat Party because of the fact that the original bills could have been construed to say that a pre-birth fetus was a "person" that was protected by law. So, the bill in Congress was altered to address that concern by adding a "neutrality clause" that made it clear that the bill would not protect a fetus in utero.

As Obama continues to tell the tale, as a State Senator he said he voted against the Illinois bill because the Federal "neutrality clause" was not included and that therefore he could not support the Illinois bill. Turns out he is not telling the truth about this fact. Even worse, he knows better because he was part of the legislative committee that added that very "neutrality clause" to the very bill he voted against in 2003.


FCC Commissioner: Return of Fairness Doctrine Could Control Web Content

McDowell warns reinstated powers could play in net neutrality debate, lead to government requiring balance on Web sites.

There’s a huge concern among conservative talk radio hosts that reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would all-but destroy the industry due to equal time constraints. But speech limits might not stop at radio. They could even be extended to include the Internet and “government dictating content policy.”

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised that as a possibility after talking with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. McDowell spoke about a recent FCC vote to bar Comcast from engaging in certain Internet practices – expanding the federal agency’s oversight of Internet networks.

The commissioner, a 2006 President Bush appointee, told the Business & Media Institute the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the net neutrality battle. The result might end with the government regulating content on the Web, he warned. McDowell, who was against reprimanding Comcast, said the net neutrality effort could win the support of “a few isolated conservatives” who may not fully realize the long-term effects of government regulation.

“I think the fear is that somehow large corporations will censor their content, their points of view, right,” McDowell said. “I think the bigger concern for them should be if you have government dictating content policy, which by the way would have a big First Amendment problem.”

“Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ which won’t be called that – it’ll be called something else,” McDowell said. “So, will Web sites, will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?”

McDowell told BMI the Fairness Doctrine isn’t currently on the FCC’s radar. But a new administration and Congress elected in 2008 might renew Fairness Doctrine efforts, but under another name.

“The Fairness Doctrine has not been raised at the FCC, but the importance of this election is in part – has something to do with that,” McDowell said. “So you know, this election, if it goes one way, we could see a re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine. There is a discussion of it in Congress. I think it won’t be called the Fairness Doctrine by folks who are promoting it. I think it will be called something else and I think it’ll be intertwined into the net neutrality debate.”

A recent study by the Media Research Center’s Culture & Media Institute argues that the three main points in support of the Fairness Doctrine – scarcity of the media, corporate censorship of liberal viewpoints, and public interest – are myths.


American Vignettes: Portrait of an Idea

Long before we had politicians, lobbyists, conglomerates and special interest groups dictating the unwill of the people, America, that is the United States of America, had statesmen, citizen soldiers, and the average, everyday former colonist who directed the path of a new idea; a new way to govern. Lincoln called it a government "of the people, by the people and for the people." The idea still lives but is clouded by politics, special projects and everything else that has little do with running a country. The system isn't broken and the ideals aren't dead - they're just mired in greed, paranoia, selfishness and hubris.

The early Americans, also known as the Founding Fathers, took from their experiences and wisdom to forge a country where everyone from the largest land owner to the smallest potato farmer had equal say in how the new government would/should manifest itself. Their ideas instilled prominence in a Creator but not at the expense of fear and intimidation.

360 Degrees, with the ideas that made America free, presents American Vignettes - a continuing series of articles that offer a new way of looking at this country, from the old ideals and the people made notable by them.

While some may disagree as to whether America was and currently is truly free, keep in mind the thought of the period. Moreover, read and understand the historical documents that gave the motivation and the incentive to be free. While in practice not all goals of freedom were reached in the last 200 years, however it is the idea in the writings that carry the most weight and ultimately serve as the instruments of change.

These vignettes will eventually be made available on audio for free download.

Ben's Failure

Ben Franklin's plan failed. For perhaps the first time in his life, Franklin experienced an embarrassing public failure.

Representatives from seven of England's American colonies gathered in Albany, New York, in 1754. These delegates, however brought with them more apathy than enthusiasm. The British government ordered these American colonists to meet. It was not their choice. The crown wanted them to unite against their common enemies and support the king's effort to win the war. The French and Indian War, known as the Seven Years' War in Europe, was the focal point of their discussions.

The Albany Congress was a one-time colonial version of the United Nations. The delegates thought of themselves as separate royal kingdoms. Although they all saluted the same king, their custom charters and constitutions made them as distinct as Spain was from Denmark. The customs, manners and modes of commerce gave them individuality. When the Albany Congress considered Franklin's Plan of Union, they saw little need to create a more united government among them. They were happy with the staus quo.

"IT IS proposed, that humble application be made for an act of Parliament of Great Britian, by virtue of which one general government may be formed in America," Franklin's plan began.

The plan was a simple as Franklin's tableware, despite his prospering printing press and other businesses. Each colony would retain its individual constitution. The crown would choose a president-general, and the people would choose representatives for a grand council.

Franklin's plan was also quite Franklin - thriftiness and industry filled its pages. Representatives to the grand council would be allowed some wages "lest the expense might deter some suitable persons from the service." But the representatives would not earn "too great wages, lest unsuitable persons should be tempted to cabal for the employment, for the sake of gain."

Almost no one in either the colonies or England wanted to implement the plan. The Plan of Union was about as appealing as Dr. Franklin's urinary catheter invention.

Franklin decided the plan failed in the colonies because "there was too much prerogative in it." People were not ready to consider priviledges and choices in a confederation of colonies. Franklin believed the plan failed in England becuase "it was thought to have too much of the democratic."

The plan may have failed, but failure often produces future success. The Plan of Union presented in Albany planted a seed in the mind of these disconnected colonies. It made them wonder what would happen if they formed a common government. They would one day reap the harvest of Benjamin Franklin's failure.


Masks: Like Hats, Come In All Shapes, Sizes and Colors

I remember in the movie “The Mask” – a comedy, Ben Stein plays a renowned author who has written a book about how people wear masks as a way to conceal themselves from the world. Our hero in the movie, portrayed by Jim Carey, sees the interview of the author on TV, and having acquired a real mask himself, one that has great powers of transformation, pays Stein’s character a visit. In fact, the mask doesn’t hide Carey’s character; it enables him to show his deepest self – the person he aspires to be.

The author explains that the book isn’t about an actual mask, but only a metaphor of how we try to hide our true selves. Who hasn’t been guilty of that at one time or another? We see others do it, but we are not readily prepared to catch ourselves in the act – maybe until later, maybe never.

The question is what do we hide from others? Guilt, pain and suffering, a weakness or two, wear and tear, maybe even sparing someone from hurt, disappointment. I think there are many reasons as to why this is done. Any psychologist will tell you that it’s done out of fear. Any spiritual or religious leader will tell you that it’s done out of pride.

Fear and pride. Two very human, but very profound weaknesses of being, well, human. If I were to wear a mask (and I admit being weak enough to do it, so give me some credit for honesty), my reasons would be fear. I experienced a privileged, never spoiled, childhood. I went to a private school, went to summer camp, lived in a big house with matching yard and enjoyed activities with my dad, whom I’m still close to after all these years. Family values, the work ethic and the value (not worship) of a dollar were ingrained in me.

However, even with the opportunities, were the abuses from my mother. I loved my mom, but abhorred her behavior. From the age of four I was screamed at, beaten, pushed, shoved, and ridiculed until the age of 17. Many would have predicted that the law of average would in favor of me turning out to be the same or turning to alcohol or drug abuse. But my life took a different path. I wore a mask to hide the shame of this horrendous upbringing and to hide my fear of being unaccepted – unacceptable. I had to go through it all over again in an abusive and unfaithful spouse.

It has taken me a while to realize all of this fear, hiding in a mask, put it all together and put it to rest, once and for all times.

I was fortunate enough to forgive mom later in life and had meaningful dialogue after she finally mellowed out, although I never quite knew what demons haunted my mom. My sister was able to forgive mom much later as mom was unconscious and slowly dying from a massive stroke – minutes before being disconnected from life support. The ex-wife, well, we had one final, peaceful communication, then all contact ceased. She had many masks that were more profound than any I had ever known. I have my battle scars, but better to show them and compare than to think they don't exist. I'm better for the experience and lesson learned.

I have often stated that life is a journey. It’s a forgone conclusion that no one is perfect out of the womb – aside from the idea that we are born in sin; it’s more than that. We have issues, like it or not, that through either nurture or nature we must face in our daily journey. It knows no boundaries – sex, age, race, color, creed, religion or national origin makes little difference in the equation. The tragedy is not that we have to face these personal trials and issues in the hopes of becoming a better adjusted person. No, I think the tragedy is some never see or face the concept that they have these issues and grapple with them. Facing your demons, it has been called; because the first step to solving a problem is recognizing it.

I’ve often heard that if we were to put our demons, issues, trials, what have you, out on the table – just laying the cards out for all to see, chances are good we’d take our own back in lieu of trading with another person (that is if we haven’t scared them all from said table). While that’s metaphoric in nature, it’s true in concept, while at the same time, it brings up a universal truth: despite the fact that we wouldn’t trade places with anyone if we were to know what is behind the mask, we would instead, in many cases identify with the other person’s pain, trials, ordeals. This probably isn’t because we have gone down that exact same path as the other person. I think it’s pure and simple empathy because we know the resulting feelings, not necessarily identifying with the cause. We all stumble. We all fall. Hopefully, we all get up again.

One important thing I learned when I did missions work (but unfortunately didn’t always practice in my lifetime) was that to be an effective Christian witness was honesty about your trials, suffering, flaws and stumblings. Let the world see you, warts and all. How many of us are brave, or better yet, fearless enough to let everyone see our burns, scars, scratches and patch work? Of course, there are some I know (not anywhere near me in physical location) who go the other end of the spectrum: they tell everything about themselves to the point that you fear them, not the dangling set of bones in your closet! You may know someone like that – and they won’t take good money to just take it down a notch. Still, you have to admire their courage. Or maybe they just don’t give a damn about what other people think; perhaps it’s even apathy.

And what about Carey’s character? He doesn’t keep the mask. He found out that he had everything he needed right inside. The experience with the mask allowed him to recognized that and tap into his true self. Ironically, the mask made him realize he didn’t need it at all. It was good therapy for him, like this blog sometimes is for me.

And finally, back to those we have known who wore a mask. Recently, it was former presidential candidate John Edwards. There are even people in my building who wear a mask, but are so convinced that no one notices. Sometimes, it isn’t so obvious to the actor nor to the audience they play to. Shakespeare had it dead to rights when he said, “All the world is a stage….” He knew.

Think about it and let me know. I’d like to hear your thoughts. What mask do you tend to wear? What mask have you discarded? Is there now a harmonious balance between being unmasked and on the edge of unbridled nakedness? An even balance is good. Nature likes a good balance. Nature doesn’t like a vacuum.