Editor’s note: The following is in response to Tammy’s contention that foreign graduate students represent a potentially immense betrayal. The betrayal would occur if students take what they learn at American university research labs back to their home countries, thus saving those countries billions in research.
In most graduate student bodies, and I focus on graduate student bodies as opposed to entire student populations at these universities because they are usually the pool that researchers in university laboratories are picked from, international students account for an average of 45-55% of the population. These are Masters, PhDs, and people in professional postgraduate Research/Training. There are in all 274,310 international graduate students, 46.8% of the entire graduate and post graduate population, down 3.6% from last year's 47.9%. To that number can be added all foreign individuals on F-1/OPT/CPT visas which allow them to train for an additional year after completion of studies in the US and that percentage is comfortably in the early 50s. At MIT, that figure is roughly 37% of the graduate student population or 2,430. In all MIT is home to 2,792 international students at all levels of study.
That is not even close to other universities nationally. Universities hosting the most foreign students at all levels of academic study were the University of Southern California (6,846), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (5,560), University of Texas at Austin (5,333), Columbia University (5,278), New York University (5,140), Purdue University (4,921), the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (4,632) and Boston University (4,541) [Source and complete list: Open Doors: Institute of International Education]. What does that tell us? That the numbers are too high to wish away. A huge percentage of people doing research in American laboratories are foreign students. Many of them integral to the work being conducted in these labs.
Expanding on that, when I left school to interview with Lockheed Martin for a job, I found myself faced with a panel of scientists many of whom seemed recently naturalized Americans from other countries (particularly China and India). These were people working on sensitive core nuclear and aircraft technologies. I saw the same at Oracle, Microsoft and Google. Companies that could give a cold to the NYSE, with a single sneeze. Many of the core technologies at these places are patented in the names of their inventors, but assigned to the company. It is this later part, 'assigned', that makes all the difference as you will soon see.
So, this is how it works: a 'Fresh off the Boat' (FoB) student comes to town from foreign country on F-1 /J-1 visa (student/exchange student visa). Typically, student would be hired to work as research assistant at a university laboratory. Research serves second purpose of being thesis work towards degree. Armed with PhD/Masters degree, student is instantly grabbed by a technology firm seeking to bolster its ranks. By this time, student has spent 7-8 years in the country and is given green card with possibility of naturalization in a few additional years.
Before I plunge any deeper in the subject, let me say that I am removing myself from bias, and that my “internationalness” is not doing the talking, but the facts are.
More facts. All American universities have technology licensing offices that protect innovation and invention through the regular routes of patenting, copyrighting, trademarking and that keeps them in the hands of American universities. Or at times, promising technologies spin off into stand-alone companies backed by venture capitalists or angel investors affiliated with the university. In other words, the technology always stays in the country. Because, by accepting government or corporate funding, the rights to the research work is assigned to the government or the financing entity. There is, of course, the risk that the student could return to his country and reproduce the work there. The Chinese have repeatedly been accused of doing just that. But there are ways to deal with that problem and the current proposal is not the right way.
Still more facts. If university labs were to be choked with rules such as these proposed, there no longer will exist an incentive for foreign students to want to come to the US. Already that number is dramatically falling post 9/11. And why should you worry about that? Well, I can only stress that foreign-born engineers and scientists are usually the people with the bright scientific ideas. The educational system at both the state and federal levels in the United States, for some reason does not foster enough interest in the sciences and math. Even if something was done about that, it will be years before the country is ready to send more bright people into science and technology careers. Increasing number of Americans are drawn into law careers, finance/banking or management.
The current administration, under President Bush is doing precious nothing to help. In fact, with his administration's war on evolution and pushing creationism under the guise of a pseudo-science called Intelligent Design, the system is regressing to Stonehenge days. Not to stop there: stacking scientific advisory panels with cronies, undermining global warming fears, mercury pollution fears, refusing to rein in oil consumption... Bush's government has systematically distorted and undermined scientific information in pursuit of political objectives. But I digress. Or that is material for another post.
Posted by Shiv
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Editor’s note: The following is in response to Tammy’s contention that foreign graduate students represent a potentially immense betrayal. The betrayal would occur if students take what they learn at American university research labs back to their home countries, thus saving those countries billions in research.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:26 PM
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Tom in Dallas
Monday, November 28, 2005
After 100 years of triumphs, General Motors is now making cars it can’t give away. But, neither can Ford. Toyota, on the other hand, has cars that are selling at premia above list price.
The GM game plan to fix this mess? Continue to hemorrhage more than $500 million a month until 12 plants can be closed and 30,000 more workers laid off. Given the complexities of GM’s labor contracts and other considerations, the big plan really won’t do much good. That is why Wall Street reacted as it did.
Here are the problems: GM is selling so few cars (26.2% market share, down from 40% in 1973) that health insurance eats up $1,500 a car, seven times what Toyota’s are. On top of that, GM has a $6.5 billion a year pension liability that the $90 billion pension fund can’t cover at current rates of return. That is why two percent of the pension fund is in hedge funds—a desperate gamble to avoid having to increase the fund.
While GM, Ford and Chrysler struggle for sales, offering incentive on top of incentive, analysts expect Toyota to enjoy a 12% jump in sales without having to give up a nickel on list. Could there be a lesson here? If there is, it should have been learned almost 40 years ago, but wasn’t.
That is not entirely true. The Big Three American auto companies have not been run be complete idiots. Just incredibly myopic. In 1973, the least fuel efficient car in the world was the Oldsmobile Toranado at 8.4 miles per gallon, city and highway. With cars like that, it is no wonder that the average American car swallowed 737 gallons a year. Meanwhile, the most fuel efficient car in the world was the Honda Civic CVCC with 28.3 miles per gallon. The Americans just didn't see the comming gas shortage. Everybody else did.
Is it any wonder that when gas lines started getting long and prices started moving up, Americans abandoned their chrome-encrusted behemoths for perky little Japanese cars? And, when those first American automotive pioneers started telling their neighbors how much car they were getting for their money and how reliable those cars were, the handwriting was on the wall for all to see.
General Motors saw that message and attempted to respond with the Saturn. The idea was to out Japanese the Japanese. But it failed to achieve the sales and the costs needed to compete.
To give credit where it is due, General Motors has produced the first natural gas powered automotive engine and the first modern car powered entirely by electricity. It just couldn’t get them to market.
The only hope for the American automotive industry is the federal government. I am talking about more stringent CAFÉ standards, not corporate welfare. Thanks to Congress, the average U.S. car consumed 550 gallons of gasoline a year in 2003. If the industry hadn’t fought more stringent fleet consumption requirements, perhaps it wouldn’t be in such sorry shape now. A decent national health insurance program wouldn’t hurt either.
Tom in Dallas
Posted by tammyswofford at 3:40 PM
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Thanks to a diminishing number of requests, I will be blogging next week until Tammy can no longer stand it and comes back from wherever she is going. No, there is no truth to the rumor that she has been beamed back to the mothership for regrooving.
The plan, at the moment, subject to change without notice, is to look at GM on Monday.
Tom in Dallas
Friday, November 25, 2005
Yesterday, while everybody else was greeting the day with either anticipation of a joyous feast or trepidation over all the potential pitfalls presented by turkey (did it actually thaw?), pies, and in-laws, I was transported almost 35 years into the past.
I was awakened to the news that Daniel Ellsburg was arrested for protesting another war, and that William F. Buckley had turned 80. All on the same day! Wow!
Ellsburg was the hero of the anti-Vietnam War movement. In 1971, Daniel Ellsburg, a Pentagon researcher, leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. The Times fought for the right to publish that archive of U.S. activity in Vietnam, including proof that the government had twisted facts and suppressed information to support going to war, and the conclusion that the war was unwinnable, all the way through the Supreme Court. It was the beginning of the end for both the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration. The Watergate investigation proved that the White House had ordered federal officials to break into the office of Ellsburg’s psychiatrist to try to discredit Ellsburg. Incidentally, with the Patriot Act, one has to wonder if such invasions of the doctor patient relationship are still illegal.
The late unlamented PBS boss, Kenneth Tomlinson, notwithstanding, it is worth noting that the first political commentary on PBS was Buckley’s Firing Line. Buckley, the founder of the National Review, was the leading light of popular Conservative thought. Firing Line was an intellectual joust of ideas with respect for the person holding those ideas. Buckley and his guest would debate the issues of the day with a great deal of wit and grace.
A comparison of the Buckley Firing Line and the current crop of conservative opinion programs demonstrates the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the movement. The magazine Commentary has managed to keep the tradition of ideas rather than personalities alive, but it is drowned out by a troop of baboons including Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, and Coulter. Anyone who likes his conservativism well-larded with reason, wit and grace might try Commentary. Those who find the World Wrestling Federation entertaining should stick with Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity and Coulter.
Tom in Dallas
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Life for me is brilliant and bold. I live to experience each new day and whatever small adventure it may hold, just like that silly goose at the park where I walk. It wakes up to a new world each day, wings flapping, honking wildly as it takes off for the pond. I take pleasure in the smallest of things. So for today, the little things for which I give thanks!
Magnesium. Yes, magnesium is responsible for many of the chemical reactions in the body. It plays a big part in keeping my heart regulated and beating properly. Sodium and potassium also help, but it is magnesium that I am thankful for today.
Newborn babies crying! Yes! The cry of a newborn does not bother me, There was a small baby girl screaming her lungs out as she had her heel pricked for a PKU test in our outpatient testing area today. As I leaned over her and stroked her little head I secretly smiled. "You ain't seen nothing yet", I thought. She needs to keep that good set of lungs and vocal cords at the ready.... life will offer up many opportunities to shout and scream but also innumerable opportunities to just have a good laugh. A crying baby just reminds me to loosen up a bit more and not be so serious! smile
Ants. Growing up in Mexico along a dirt road offered many opportunities to observe ants. It used to amaze me to see the heavy loads which they would carry, staggering along back to the hacienda. Ants remind me that my life is not so hard in America. I saw women in Ghana, West Africa with water pots half the size of washing machines balanced on their heads after securing their water from a public faucet. That, with a baby slung across their back. In America, we drive two miles to buy groceries and pay a scrawny kid to load it into our trunk. Ants remind me that I am basically lazy and need to quit whining.
Hershey's kisses! Have I ever told you that I love those silly things? I do not know if it is because I am like a crow with a penny and like looking at the shiny foil wrapper, but I love to unwrap them and pop them in my mouth.... about twenty will do, if no one is looking. Who wants to live to be an octogenarian anyway?
I am thankful for so many things. Life! It is such a wonderful gift. Tomorrow, some of the blog readers will share thoughts of thanksgiving. We have much for which to give thanks. May this season bring blessings in abundance. But most of all, may we take the time to reflect.... God, has been very good to all of us.
THOUGHTS FROM THE FAR SIDE
Most people associate Thanksgiving with those monuments to intolerance, the Pilgrims. While it is true that, thanks to a bumper crop in 1621, the 56 surviving Mayflower voyagers and 91 Indians had a celebratory feast, the holiday didn’t catch on. George Washington proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving in 1789, but Thomas Jefferson thought the idea ridiculous.
Thanksgiving, as we know it, was created by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. What Lincoln was most thankful for was that Lee’s advance had been stopped at Gettysburg. The peace would be entirely on Yankee terms. The south’s bid for bargaining chips had evaporated with Pickett’s charge.
We are, once again, at a kind of war unknown in our history. A war for which the only ones sacrificing are the troops. A war we are not even paying for. If I must be thankful for something, how about being thankful that I have no children who will have to bear the cost of the War on Terrorism? Unfortunately, and this is the problem with professions of gratitude, there are millions of people who do have children who will see their standard of living fall.
I could be grateful for the fact that I have health insurance, but 40 million do not. That I have a job, but hundreds of thousands do not. Three squares a day, but untold thousands in this country go to bed hungry. That I have a roof over my, but thousands are sleeping under bridges.
With 12% of Americans living below the poverty level, and with troops in the field, perhaps it is a mistake to set aside a day to crow about how well one is doing.
On the other hand, last week I went to a celebration of community not-for-profits. Regardless of everything that is happening, I am eternally thankful that there are people working night and day to heal the ills so prevalent in this country. If we have any greatness at all, it is because of those tireless fighters against injustice, poverty, abuse and ignorance. How about helping them out?
Tom in Dallas
Tom does make a good point in the last paragraph. The purpose of receiving a blessing is to be able to extend a helping hand. As such, cast a gaze to your own neighborhood. Is there an elderly friend nearby, a newlywed couple, single mother with children you can either include in your Thanksgiving meal or maybe purchase an extra pumpkin pie to send their way? My "donation" to the common good is to volunteer for 24 hour call in the recovery room at Baylor Irving. Yes, people get sick and have surgery on holidays. And nurses across America, will be working!
Tammy Swofford, R.N.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
When is it acceptable to inject infants and small children with experimental pharmaceuticals without parental, or guardian, permission?
Starting about 20 years ago, hundreds of children in New York City, Baltimore and other cities were dying of AIDS. Doctors, primarily from Columbia University Medical Center, working with SmithKlineGlaxo, the National Institute of Health, and the national center for allergies and communicative diseases, convinced New York’s Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) to permit HIV-positive children under its care to be used in drug trials. The drug tested was AZT, approved in 1987 for adult use.
ACS devised a system for deciding which children were to participate in the program. The protocol was apparently honored more in the breach than in the observance. No record of formal permission exists for many of the 465 children that were admitted to the program.
According to the doctors, children who would not benefit from the trial were excluded. Now that the program seems to have been a success, the doctors involved say that it would have been inhumane to deny children the drugs just because they were in foster care.
In the 1980s AIDS was a terrifying disease. It was spreading like wildfire, aided by another epidemic, crack addiction. But, there is reason to question just how serious the problem of infant and childhood AIDS was. In 1980, about 100 children under the age of 20 years died from AIDS in New York City. The national average for infant deaths from all causes is 6.63 deaths per thousand, the highest rate in the developed world. Our birth rate is 14.13 per thousand. There are about 300 million people in the country. My calculation puts total infant deaths in this country at about 27,000 a year.
Why all this effort for 0.4% of the population? Could it have anything to do with the absence of liability? From what we have learned about faking test results and withholding data in drug testing, questions must be asked.
That is just what the Office of Human Research Protections is doing. In response to an outcry from New York’s black activists when news of the study finally surfaced last year, the federal government has opened an investigation.
Tom in Dallas
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:02 PM
Monday, November 21, 2005
Recently a friend e mailed an article that told about angioplasty procedures being done on an outpatient basis. That's the procedure where a very slender instrument is passed to one's heart, via a small entry point, usually in a vessel in the groin.
Things like this are a bit scary at first glance, but really aren't as outlandish as they first appear. I remember when a gallbladder surgery involved an 8-inch incision, a tube in the nose for three days, and a week of misery in the hospital. Now it is done as outpatient surgery, with two or three 1/2 inch incisions, no tube, and you go home the same evening, or certainly by the next morning.
Not only can an angioplasty be done as outpatient surgery, but cardiac bypasses are being done through laparoscopes. They cannot do them all that way, it depends on which arteries are involved, but it is becoming more widespread. Although it is not an outpatient surgery - the patient still spends several days in the hospital- it is much easier on the patient when they do not have a big bone-cleaving incision in their chest, and the success rate seems to be the same.
What we all seem to forget at first, when we react with horror to these "drive-thru" surgeries, is that technology is evolving, skills are improving, medications are being developed and lots of things are changing. Years ago, almost everyone who got pneumonia died. Now, with antiobiotics available, almost no one does. If you had a knee breaking down, or you broke your hip, you were just stuck, destined to live with crippling pain and deformity. Now, they simply replace it, and you go on with your life!
As for the childbirth thing, where did we ever get the idea that a woman had to take to her bed for days after giving birth? It's a perfectly natural process, and unless there are complications, most women are ready to be up and going within a few hours. A bit sore, perhaps, but capable of functioning at a reasonable level. I think the week-in-bed thing started with ladies of the gentility, who were considered too delicate for such a quick recovery. By comparison, there were country women, who doubled as field hands on the family farm, who walked back to the house when labor started, delivered their baby, and by afternoon were back in the field, with the baby on a blanket in the hay wagon. I've heard my own grandmother describe that scene. Then of course, there were the slave women in all parts of the world, down through history, who simply had their baby in the field or wherever and kept on working. Native American women went off alone into a secluded place, had their child, and walked back to the camp and back to work. It's all pretty much perspective and attitude, I think.
Procedures in medicine are going to change and evolve, just as they do in any other field, and I think that it is exciting. I remember the sick and miserable gallbladder surgery patients I cared for in years past, and when I had my own gallbladder surgery one afternoon, via laparoscope, I was delighted to go home the next morning, feeling just wonderful.
Let's hear it for progress! Hip, hip, hooray!
Lanni Fish, RN
Baylor Medical Center at Irving
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:43 AM
Lanni Fish, married and with four children, enrolled in nursing school at age 37. Graduating with an ADN at age forty, she became a board-certified Registered Nurse in the State of Texas.
She gained employment at Irving Community Hospital, and has remained for nearly 27 years, through all incarnations, both in leadership grid and name changes of the institution.
She spent twelve years working on the day shift of a medical surgical unit. She then switched to the "float pool". This requires a diversity of skills, as such endeavors place one at the disposal of an in-house "nursing agency", which sends the local talent to fill the gaps, from day to day, to maintain nursing operations in the hospital.
Since the death of her husband, Lanni has spent the last ten years working "nights" on the post-partum unit. In her free time, she scoots off to Mongolia to involve herself in both nursing and humanitarian efforts. This is at her own expense. Hats off, to this spunky lady who is a true Texan. Enjoy the Monday blog!
Posted by tammyswofford at 1:10 AM
Sunday, November 20, 2005
This morning I received some bad news from (former) Ambassador Syed Ahsani. Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D. of Chicago. has passed away. This man had a tremendous influence on my life. We spent an incredible eighteen months on-line, exchanging over four hundred e mails, as he walked me through a study of the Qur'an and taught me basics of Islam. We tenaciously sparred and debated on many issues, all the while, managing to stay on track with the task at hand.
His passion and zeal, won a place for him in my heart. He was a remarkable man of incredible intellect. I frequently reference his e mails and will continue to do so, as my study of Islam continues unabated.
He will be laid to rest at 10:30 this morning. My condolences, to his wife Mary and four children will be extended in a card and letter.
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:40 AM
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
America was founded on strong principles. Belief in human worth and the inherent strengths of common man, a recognition that we are capable of extraordinary things when unencumbered by excessive government, the right to the pursuit of happiness,and many other ideals, encompass what it means to be an American. The force of these ideals, provided a magnetic axis for early immigrants to America. People came to America, because she offered opportunity to be part of one of the greatest experiments on earth. And that experiment, the ability of immigrants to establish communities, form a functioning government, develop commerce, and flourish in the arts and sciences. Immigrants did it all, with the clothes on their backs, a belief in Divine Providence and a resiliency which can still be found in the psyche of middle America. And over two centuries later, immigrants are still flocking to America, seeking out this bountiful land.
Unfortunately, our nation has turned a philosophical corner. No longer holding firm to the tenets that made our nation great, a society based on the principles of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, built on the traditional foundation of our forefathers, we are now being assailed by cultural relativism. The new immigrant population is less and less assimilating for the common good, they are increasingly adrift. And in the deconstruction of patriotism and national identity, we are subtly moving toward the demise of our nation by intrinsic pressure from within, rather than threat beyond our borders. One of the seeds of dissolution for America, is multiculturalism. The philosphy of multiculturalism is STRONGLY SUPPORTED by mainstream media. It is taught in our public schools. It is parroted by guilt-ridden American apologists who have divested themselves of all pride in being an American. Instead, we are to be reproached for not being "world citizens" and embracing the whole of humanity. We are made to feel guilty for patriotic pride, or for being the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. Somehow, surely we do not deserve this status! Somehow, our success is not because of our own ingenuity, hard work and innovation. Our success, gasp, is because we have oppressed the whole rest of the populated world, all six billion of them! We should feel absolutely horrible. And to make amends, we must become global citizens, who embrace all other religions and customs. We must divest ourselves of the unity we have enjoyed in tandem with allowing diversity. We must certainly work feverishly to strip ourselves of any identifying markers of what is meant to be an "American". May this Texan lady say one thing in response? Bull Puckey!
So what can we do on a grass roots level to turn this thing around? Here are some of my own suggestions. Think about them in a rational manner, please. The examples used are real scenarios.
First of all, vote against all hate crime legislation. Hate crime legislation is about handcuffing free speech. Hate crime legislation also strengthens special interest groups in society that pull apart the fabric of our nation. Sufficient law and penalty are in place for crime. If a gay or a black American is targeted for a beating, put the criminal in jail for beating an American citizen. Naturally, there is hate involved or it wouldn't have occurred. Punish, the commission of a crime, guys. We are giving special status beyond that afforded to the average citizen and placing citizens in protected class status. ALL AMERICANS SHOULD BE VIEWED EQUALLY. Where is the hate crime law that assesses additional penalty for beating a white female? See what I mean? But the main reason to vote down hate crime legislation is that it strips you of the right to free speech. You lose the right to say, you are intolerant of certain behavior or actions. Do not lose the right to discern good from evil! Do not fall for this cloaked entity that is against our ideals.
Now this may sound like a dumb suggestion, but support the home school movement. Yes! The home school movement is in large part a reactionary force against the multicultural and dumbed-down curriculum being offered by many of our public schools. Parents are saying, "I can do better." And many parents are producing an outstanding crop of future productive American citizens. I have been in this community for years now. I am a product of a home school environment from seventh grade, on to the senior year, when I entered a university under an early admissions program. Home schools strongly promote good citizenship and allegiance to the nation. Much disinformation is disseminated by MSM regarding home-schooled students. They would have you believe that all such students have chili bowl haircuts and lack intellect. Not so! Many parents with university degrees, careers and experience out the kazoo, homeschool their offspring. Support us!
Promote a value-based curriculum in schools that teaches strong citizenship and American ideals. Promote literature that instructs in the classics, the books from antiquity, the philosophers such as Plato and Socrates,writings of great scientific minds, the works of renowned poets, from John Donne, to Browning, to Rumi. Have you looked at some of the poetry your kids are reading in public school? What about their reading lists? Pitiful, some of it. Painfully ignorant stuff, some of it. Not based on classical thought or to stimulate intellect, forget the Latin and read "Rap"; the dilution of thought has taken the place of higher learning and critical thought.
I will not even waste much spit talking about sensitivity training. This is a liability-driven endeavor. The "guest" should learn the customs of the "host", not vice-versa. I am learning daily regarding Islam because I hope to receive orders to a Muslim-majority nation one day. The onus is one me, to not offend and not the other way around. It is my job, to acclimate to the culture, should that day come. Follow the golden rule, be kind to people, and that should suffice, if you reside in America and do not plan to travel. But do not feel guilty for lacking knowlege of how Eskimo families cohabitate.
Support public expressions of liberty but STAND against lawsuits which seek to destroy institutional and organizational foundations in our nation. Render verdict against lawsuits of such nature! Recognize lawsuits that bring assault against national foundations and the mission of organizations that have brought much benefit to America for generations.
By practical application, I do support public school students "praying at the pole" and I also support the Muslim community in their yearly prayer tradition at Fair Park in Dallas during the month of Ramadan. I support a Cinco de Mayo parade and will break the pinata at a birthday party.
Stand! With the Boy Scouts of America which ascribes to a specific moral code and is encumbered with lawsuits by the gay lobby that wishes to bring in gay scoutmasters. This is a special interest group targeting an institutional foundation. ALLOW Boy Scouts of America to maintain their organizational boundary and integrity!
Stand! With the Catholic church,when a Muslim family enrolls their daughter in a private Catholic school, to then turn around and sue the school so that she may wear the hijab. The organizational mission is being attacked. And for what reason? Why would a Muslim place their child in a Catholic school? And why would they sue to dismantle a belief system which they will never enjoin or support in the long run? Do you see the subtle erosion of institution that is coming in via our court system?
Stand! Against those that would remove the words "UNDER GOD" from our pledge of allegiance. Last time I checked, 159 million Americans proclaimed they were Christians. The culture of the atheist would assail one of our great national values. This anchoring pledge, reminds us what has made America great. Let those who prefer to omit those two words and remain silent do so. But let us engage just a little bit of anger here, folks. Why are the few, dominating the many?
Multiculturalism is not just about immigrants. It encompasses a mindset of opposition and not inclusion. It is about the increasing number of special interest groups in our nation. Not seeing themselves as Americans first, distancing themselves from other Americans, we see "parts" as opposed to the health of a composite whole of national identity and pride. I by no means have covered all possible examples of multiculturalism in our nation and the ill effects on our identity. But if you read a daily newspaper begin to put the frame on the picture with this question:
Is the individual pursuing what is good for America or doing what will bring division and sectarian type activity? Does the action of the individual strengthen the bond we share or tear at the fabric of our nation? Are you willing to be an American first? I am proud of my nation and the ideals which have made it great. But if you do not see yourself as an American first, think France. And think America, in fifty years.
Posted by tammyswofford at 2:38 AM
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The bastard child of America is multiculturalism. What we see in France and much of Europe, we will see in America within fifty years if people of intellect do not begin to sound the alarm and hammer into place domestic awareness that secures America from the threat. For the threat is there. We just need to expose it.
Multiculturalism encroaches on national identity. And when national identity is lost, the cascading effect is a diminishing and successive loss on the front lines of national sovreignty.
Within the opposing philosophy of national identity, each member of society is merely a thread. And that thread, is woven into the tapestry which is America. Each thread, indiscernible on its own, but producing a tight weave which will express its self in fidelity, loyalty and commitment to the greater and overarching ideals of the nation.
Multiculturalism allows for pockets of sub-strata nationalism and ethnicity to express its self in the public forum, while not requiring a counter demand of reciprocal allegiance to the nation at large. The nation becomes a crazy quilt with each little "patch" pulling toward undercurrents desirous of bringing sectarian divisiveness, illegitimate powersharing with the larger government and an ensuing Balkanization of the nation. Once again, think France!
In the marriage model, the acquiesence of the wife to the husband brings solidarity to the marriage pact. In rendering of such submission to a designated party, the husband, a functioning and practical governmental structure is set in place for the home. The children view a unity at the top, a pulling together for the common good of the family, the give and take of spousal negotiations, use of appeal and a camraderie that will make for strong children. Each member of the family, not espousing a separate identity, but an identity that recognizes the family bond and the need of each, for the other, for the family unit to survive. This same model, is needed for a healthy nation!
In the same way, the acquiesence of the American citizen is needed toward the greater society, American ideals and national identity. To refuse to say the pledge of allegiance, refuse to salute the flag, file lawsuits over petty grievances, identify ones self more strongly with a sub-group of society than American society at large, are very troubling trends in America. We who love the traditional ideals which have made our nation great, must combat these subtle but very persistent forces which seek the deconstruction of our national identity. We must not allow philosophical "moats" to be constructed in the mindset of our nation!
America is indeed being deconstructed. Our foundations are being shaken by geopolitical forces, humanist intellectuals who neither love the hearth or kin of America and outright enemies of our Republic and that for which it stands. These assaults on our ideals must be recognized for what they represent. They do not represent issues of "rights". One must not look at the individual, one must cast their gaze to the composite whole. These issues represent an attempt of the few to usurp the will of the many. And when multiculturalism reaches critical mass in the psyche of a nation, one sees France. The tipping point is past. It is a bit too late for them. Not too late, for us.
Editorial note: The blog tomorrow will be forthright in discussion of red flags of multiculturalism, and as such I assume the risk of being completely misunderstood or only partially understood. But please recognize that in tackling the danger of multiculturalism I do not see it as the sole seed of dissolution taking root in our nation. Other seeds exist and they will be addressed at a later time. One other fact bears mentioning. The Swofford family has entertained many immigrants in our home over holidays, shared meals and cultural celebrations with people of different lands. The KKK need not come knocking on this door!
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:02 AM
Monday, November 14, 2005
What part of being an American does Pat Robertson not understand? Last time I checked, we still engage in democracy. We are a government, "Of the people, by the people and for the people". Mr Robertson, would have you believe that we are a theocracy. But his wishful thinking now increasingly plays out in verbal vendettas against those who oppose his grand plan.
Doling out chastisement from the pedestal of "The 700 Club" which boasts a daily national audience of approximately 800,000 viewers, and a much larger empire slung across the globe, he is the picture of self-assured righteousness. Scolding the people of Dover, Pennsylvania for voting the local school board out of office because of their push for "Intelligent Design" in the public school system, Mr. Robertson has a few choice words for the voters:
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.... And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His Help because He might not be there."
In his fight for Creationism-based science in the public school system, we have the "God in the Box" phenomena one observes on television. God is in his box, and not that of anybody else! Without performing a brain mapping procedure on Mr. Robertson I can diagnose his condition. He lacks understanding in exactly how a democracy is to function in it's purest and most simple form.
Democracy boils down to just a couple of components for me. Respect is rendered to the free will of man and government rises and falls to the will of the people. As such, your vote, is your voice. And the vote which may seem like a drop in a bucket can crescendo like the thunderous cascade of a waterfall when millions of Americans embrace the process. Voting, is a PRIVILEGE extended to us by our government. No one, should make people feel guilty for casting a vote of conscience. As such it is YOUR CONSCIENCE, not the conscience of Mr. Robertson, with which you vote! smile
Last week I asked a fellow employee if he had voted that week. When he replied in the affirmative, my response was "Good! You did the right thing to take the time to vote because so few did!" We had a pitiful turnout for our Texas Constitutional Amendment election last week, and that with the hot-ticket Proposition 2, banning same-sex marriage. Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams had predicted a 16% turnout and was ecstatic when the number jumped to 18%. He may have been thrilled, but the whole thing depressed me. A minority of voters, decided a major issue. Less than one-in-five Texans decided which amendments were passed. The other eighty percent, will just live with the results! So I do not care how you vote. That is your choice. But I do care, that you go to the polls. Got it? I support free speech!
So did the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania vote "against God"? Doubtful! Did they practice good citizenship? Certainly! Have they engaged in a democratic privilege that is allowed for the empowerment of the people? You betcha! I honor them for their participation. No mud-slinging from this citizen who happens to be a Creationist kind of gal and would have voted for inclusion of teaching intelligent design alongside evolutionary processes.
Mr Robertson has a right to his conviction. We all hold certain truths to be self-evident. And each of us, should happily vote for what we feel best for our local community, state and nation. But in pointing his crooked finger of judgment against the voters of Dover, one must secretly wonder regarding one thing. Did the citizens vote against God? Or is Mr. Robertson merely personally hacked because they voted differently on an issue?
Be an American, Mr. Robertson. Let the American people vote with free will.... free of your personal judgment!
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:30 AM
Saturday, November 12, 2005
To those of you who wrote into the e mail on Wednesday and got the auto reply that I would be unavailable for three days, I wish to thank you for not continuing to write. I appreciate that you were able to take a hint! It gave me much needed time for other endeavors.
So what is simmering for next week? Pat Robertson gets zapped in the Monday blog. This time, he has made me mad. And, you do not want to see me angry. But I did tone it down a bit on re-write.
We will look at national identity this week, designer children, and.... Friday the blog goes to a reader who wishes to weigh in on Islam. He lives in Boston and I have reason to believe he reads this blog for the amusement factor. His I.Q is double mine, no doubt. You will enjoy both his style and his thoughts. I do not copy edit out the personality or style of those who submit a guest blog. I only edit for gross spelling errors. His blog will be longer than usual, but such allowances are made for guest blogs. Please give him full support in the comments section. Friday a preface will be included to give a biographical sketch.
As always, the readership keeps me smiling. I see free speech at work and that remains the vision for this particular site. This is a place, for healthy discourse and exchange of ideas for the ordinary American. Thanks to all who participate!
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:56 AM
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Time to play a game again! The last one was ND WTR for all of the fearless clue sleuths out there. Today, we are playing the game of political incorrectness. Yes! You have an opportunity to play along, post your comments anonymously and engage in free speech. So here we go, lurching off into the world of ethics. Read each scenario and you will figure it out without me even defining what is in play. That is what will make this so much darn fun! But at the end, there will be one rule of engagement to keep your post from being deleted by "moi". smile
A rich dentist in Houston catches her hubby with his mistress at a rather upscale hotel and turns him into roadkill in the parking lot, with her silver Mercedes Benz.
A high society white male accountant in University Park, Texas wraps a lamp cord around the neck of his wife and stabs her in the trachea with a pair of scissors in front of the children.
A middle class mother tries to put out a "hit" on the mother of a rival cheerleader on her daughter's squad.
A low wage working class mother buys her three young sons a MacDonald's "Happy Meal" and then bids them adieu off the end of a lakeside pier, still strapped into their car seats.
A mob of murderous thugs goes on a rampage in the Superdome after Katrina.
Two boys kill their father. Allegations of abuse are raised at trial. Unfortunately, his post-mortem state does not allow for him to testify in his own defense.
An unemployed man, rapes and beats a nurse in a parking garage of a Dallas area hospital. Her face is slashed beyond belief and her nose barely hanging on her face when help arrives.
Muslim immigrant youth rampage through France for going on almost two weeks. NBC news interviews an Algerian immigrant who speaks of disenfranchisement and high unemployment. NBS nightly news does not speak to the family of the man beaten into a coma and now deceased. Neither to they speak to the family of the woman turned into a human torch on a bus. They do not interview one of the thousands of peaceful citizens who must now walk to work because their car is disabled. Neither do they interview families of injured police officers. The news impact, all swings to the perpetrators view.
I imagine you have figured it out. We are playing "Who is to Blame?" Now here we go with a bit of "Swofford Unleashed". I do not care who is to blame. I care.... drum roll... who committed the crime! If they committed the crime, I want them 'cuffed and off the street. The one to blame, is the one who committed the act and transgressed the law. Each one, bears the responsibility of their own actions.
We live in an age of modernism, humanism and utter "crapism". Used to be, the individual shouldered the blame for a misdeed. Not now! We are so much more enlightened. In the last couple of decades, justifiable and adequate punishment of crime has been trumped by shifting the blame from the shoulders of the individual, to the broader shoulders of society. No longer are we allowed to just look at a case based on physical evidence that a crime was committed. No longer, to merely look at the lack of character and criminal intent of the perpetrator. Society is castigated and also blamed for setting that poor soul up for failure. In other words, if you are poor, lack education, your parentage is not the best, live in a substandard neighborhood, are a home-school mother under stress....drown those five boys. A Houston mother did, and got away with it. She was not too psychotic to count to five, and leave one of the sons out. Not too psychotic to make sure her husband was out of the house. Not too psychotic to pick up the phone and confess to something bad happening in her home. In the world of only "good people", bad people do not exist, only bad outcomes because of societal oversight. You are now a viable candidate to shift the blame of your actions to the greater and more nebulous society. We, will bear the guilt of your actions for you. Because indeed, there is no longer such a thing as evil. There is no such thing as sin.
Talk back, blog readers. It is time to be politically incorrect. The one rule of engagement is the following: This is not about ethnicity or religion. This is about the overall human condition. This issue, is about common sense. Let the comments roll, on this one. What place, does one's personal background merit in determining the guilt of a case? Are you willing to bring a guilty verdict based solely on the sworn witness and physical evidence of a case? Do individual life hardships make for a lesser sentence for crime in America? Have you ever served on a jury where the trial placed more precedence on the background of the accused, than the impact on the victim? Talk back. This blog, is for you!
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:04 AM
Monday, November 07, 2005
The government of France has a growing national crisis which is now spilling over in threat conditions to other nations. Over 1,400 cars were torched last night, 36 police officers injured and the civilian population is also threatened. A woman on crutches was set aflame and now is hospitalized with severe burns.
Youth are coming after police with pick axes. They are making incendiary devices and destroying both vehicles and buildings. The police are outmatched by a simple device held in the palm of a hand.... a cell phone. Using text messaging, these criminals are creating swarms, much like a swarm of killer bees. It works like this:
Text message a location and time. Dozens of youth swarm a location for the one to two minutes it takes to destroy the target in the perimeter and disapppear before police arrive. The spiral is gaining strength, the heady feeling of power of the foolish.
France has a viable choice. Shoot to kill. Yes. Issue a shoot to kill to the public with no apology. Enforce the order, until the violence is quelled. Remind the public that there will be no hand-wringing, no investigation, no apology for an extreme measure to deal with an extremely dangerous situation.
The job of government is to protect the peaceful, not sit back with a complacency and lack of response that puts the citizens of France in a position of forming militias to do what the government will not do for them. Anarchy of the violent is one thing. Add anarchy by the formerly peaceful and people are hurt, who should have never been involved.
Shoot to kill. For the woman on crutches, burned beyond belief. For the thousands of citizens without vehicles to get to work, or now unemployed because their offices are a heap of ashes and smoldering smoke. The citizens of France need their government to take an extreme measure right now, today. "Arrests" will not make this go away. The psychology of this crowd, at this point in time, will only understand one message: Your next act, will cost your your life. Plan your funeral.
Posted by tammyswofford at 11:22 AM
Thursday, November 03, 2005
In the 19th century American settlers purchased medicinal petroleum in small brown bottles. The first successfully drilled oil well was in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859. Production was a mere 8-10 barrels/day. Usage for petroleum products increased with the industrial revolution, and the need for lubricants in textile mills. The Texas economic landscape changed immediately with the oil gusher named "Spindletop". Within a year of its birth in 1901, three major oil companies were formed. (The Texas Company, Gulf Oil Corporation and Humble) Petroleum changes both national and regional economy, demographics and political climate in ways both subtle and dramatic.
Our national reserves are heavily concentrated in four states: Texas, California, Louisiana, and Alaska. We are the largest oil-consuming nation on the face of the globe. We use an approximate 1/3 of total (yearly) world consumption and 2/3 of that amount is imported. China is now our biggest competitor due to a juggernauting economy. The sleeping tiger is on the prowl and Japan crouches in the shadows in third place in the global quest for fossil fuels.
Iran finds herself possessed with confidence moving into the 21st century. Geographically she finds herself linked with both ample reserves and strategic locale. Somewhat like a beautiful bride with a handsome dowry, she is in quite an enviable position to make some demands on the world. With forty percent of oil exports passing daily through the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically enhanced military ability to threaten her neighbors and concurrent ability to increase production capacity should she put her mind to it, Iran can afford to file her nails with a "Go go hell" attitude toward the rest of us oil-dependent slugs. Like it or not, she is also seated atop a hope chest of sixteen percent of the total world reserves of natural gas. The future is looking pretty grand for Iran.
Thrown into this mathematical and geographical equation are cultural considerations. One-for all and all-for-one is the way of the Muslim. If you are part of the Ummah (community of believers) it matters not if you reside in Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria or amongst the tenacious Muslim of the Arabian Peninsula. To be a Muslim, transcends all other considerations. The strengh of Islam is the brotherhood. So when Iran barks, she does not bark alone. When she issues threat and the West threatens in return, remember the following, my fellow myoptic Americans: Do you want to take on the whole family tree?
Meanwhile, the USA, China and other nations are jostling for favors on the African continent. Billions of dollars are being poured into the coffers of that region to secure a future petroleum supply. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy is projected to invest $10 billion dollars into the oil industry in Africa over the next few years. Japan extends aid and forgives debt and China offers inducements. All this, as Americans refuse to curb personal lifestyles and allocate adequate funds for research and development of viable alternatives to oil. Iran is on the world stage, poised with a strong leadership team and clear vision. Watch out, America. Here comes Iran.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:42 AM
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Nuclear acquisition programs are always shrouded in secrecy. "The Pearl", by John Steinbeck, provides a simplistic parallel. This folkloric parable plays out with the same themes which plague each nation attempting to possess the pearl of great price, nuclear capability. Just as in the story, greed and avarice become entangled with lust for power. And a harbinger of treachery and disaster can unfold as individual nations seek to hold the "pearl" in their hands.
Norway was caught with their pants down in 1986 when they were sniffed out, secretly exporting nuclear material to Israel. A couple years later Germany got the international screws, when it was found that a West German weapons trader was involved in illicit sales to India and South Africa. India and Pakistan have been in a visceral contest over nuclear acquisition for years. The May 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan increased the stakes on the world stage.
It was in 1978 that Senator John Glenn introduced the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act, which is the cornerstone of U.S. nuclear policy. The attempt to safeguard that which is held in the palm of major power has apparently not lessened the ability of the next generation of up and coming nations to acquire such technological advantage.
Pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remind us of the tremendous power and capability of nuclear weapons. Having been through Naval instruction on nuclear weaponry, considerations for post-exposure terrain and medical considerations for the sometimes "living dead" (think immunosuppression), I no longer salivate over Hollywood depictions of Armageddon nuclear events.
After World War II we had Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" initiative and the race was officially out of the starting gate for other nations possessing the necessary vicissitudes of ramping up the research and operational aspects of a nuclear program. Some nations have succeeded, while others have dropped out of the game. But it appears Iran is straining in the harness.
Iran had a nascent and modest program in the 1950's. Then in the 1970's the Shah of Iran began shifting oil revenue into the military budget, not with a scoop but a shovel. He established the AEOI and strongly supported the development of a progressive nuclear research program. Suspected research included military weapons applications and plutonium extraction. The program was toddling along at this point. The program stumbled a bit after the Shah was ousted but it soon regained a steady gait. China and Pakistan signed accords for nuclear cooperation with Iran in 1987 and 1990. Russia and Iran were shown to be in collusion in 1995. IAEA inspectors sought access to suspected nuclear research sites in Parchin and Levizin II in December 2004 and were subsequently rebuffed to perform a secondary inspection of Parchin in March of this year. The current concern, as expressed in the May issue of Jane's "Missiles and Rockets" is that Iran may become the proud owner of an EMP warhead. This analysis was based on a judiciary subcommittee hearing with testimony given by Lowell Wood. (Darn it! There goes my blog!)
So what is in the cupboard? Iran owns a nice little complement of missiles courtesy of the gracious assistance of Libya, Russia and North Korea for sure. Check out a ballistic missile guide at www.wisconsin project.org/countries/iran/missile2004.htm
Throw in one of the largest standing armies in the region, a possible will to engage, a robust nuclear weapons program which is strong on the stalk and "Yowsa"! Here comes Iran!
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:28 AM
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
When the conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, age 49, took sixty-two percent of the vote in the presidential polls in June 2005, he seemingly came out of the shadows, defeating a moderate former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (Iranian president from 1989-1997). With a stunning victory of 17,046,441 out of a vote total of 27,536,069 there were rampant rumors of poll fraud by two sectors. The accused, were the Revolutionary Guard, of which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a former member, and secondly, the busy flock of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei received fingerpointing implication in rigging votes at the booth.
Running on a populist platform of appeal to the poor and unemployed, the Mayor of Tehran put in strong planks to include provision of monetary stipend to citizens from the oil revenues of the country and also a return to a purer and more distilled form of Islam than which was practiced by his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami. There could be no doubt regarding the latter intention, because the purging of liberal practices of Islam had already affected the landscape of the city government of Tehran under the leadership of Ahmadinejad. One example was his demand for gender-specific elevators in municipal offices. (No more coffee-klatching up six flights with the man from the cubicle down the hall....)
Coming from a poor family, president Ahmadinejad climbed the ladder the old-fashioned way. Plain hard work. He received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering. During this time, he began to make the initial moves into the sphere of influence via student politics with an Islamist group on campus.
With the outbreak of war between Iraq and Iran in 1980 he joined the special forces of the IRGC serving in positions of security and intelligence, at times functioning covertly in operations around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Prior to the war's end, he was awarded his doctorate in civil engineering.
His resume is strong for both civilian and miltary service. He served as mayor of Maku, which borders Turkey, a governorship of the province of Ardabil and Chief of the Special Forces in the Revolutionary Guard. Affiliated with Ansar-i-Hizbullah, he cut his teeth a bit sharper and increased his influence in geo-politico-religio realms to his advantage. Distinctly unknown in national politics until his appointment as mayor of Tehran, this man was in the shadows, being groomed by his superiors. For this moment in time, he has arrived on the international stage. Hand in glove, is the relationship he shares with the Ayatollah Khamenei. One of the first acts of his presidency was to demand that pictures of the Supreme Leader should be placed in government offices in lieu of his own. Hand in glove, his relationship with Major-General Yahya Rahim-Safavi.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has surrounded himself with the right line-up for his vision of the Iran of the 21st century. With strong mainstream clerical support on the one hand, he strengthens his other hand with a remarkable man of much experience, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Major-General Yahya Rahim-Safavi. A military strategist seasoned in battle he is a fearful and formidable opponent to his enemies. In a well-publicized speech of days gone by, this stalwart warrior challenged the status quo of his then liberal shifting government when there appeared to be a softening of foreign policy toward the West. Listen to a portion of his words, delivered publicly from the city of Qom:
"We shall find the counter revolutionaries and behead them. We shall cut their tongue and hands. They are jeopardizing our national security. We cannot tolerate freedom. Liberals have joined the battle with their heavy cultural cannons..." Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT, mess with this man!
Throw into the mix Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani and his full speed ahead scenario of building a formidable weapons arsenal. Naturally the ever-helpful Chinese stand ready to assist.
During Sacred Defense Week, new president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was emboldened to proclaim that Israel is a blot to be wiped off the map. He served notice to the world. Iran now has a very strong three strand cord in place with Ahmadinjad, Rahim-Safavi and Shamkhani. Throw in the Supreme Leader, and I am dumb enough to worry.
As to whether we see the bared teeth of victory or the hindquarters of defeat by such rhetoric remains to be seen. We may see a whip of light such as that of the historical Tufail bin 'Amr Ad-Dausi, emanating from Iran, or the plans of president Ahmadinejad may collapse with a thud. But Iran has served up a strong volley. Watch out world! Here comes Iran!
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:10 AM