We pay for newspapers so that journalists can give us the factual bad news, give us the same news with a twist of commentary the next day, and follow it the next week with an editorial that reads like the taste of a boiled egg. So it is with great delight, that two bits of wonderful news have found their way into our homes in the last few days. It is time to open up the "Good Riddance" files and stuff a couple more folks into the shadows of obscurity where they actually need to reside.
First of all, that obnoxious screeching parrot: Cindy Sheehan. At this point does anyone really care what she has to say or much less even like the woman? This is the woman who did not physically nurture and raise the son she lost in Iraq, but collected his life insurance. She coughed up a hairball over the "mistreatment" of his remains but whilst hacking for the media forgot to order his tombstone. Thought a perpetual "sit-in" near the Crawford ranch with other presidential stalkers was more important than spending time with her husband. He left her. And in stalling her grief at the gateway of "anger" she has not moved forward with her own psychological well-being. Yes, this woman has been grieving. But she has been like a wild boar on steroids and rooted up every other plant in the garden of her personal life. What exactly, does she have left to go home to, at this point? This week, in her usual acidic style she bids her diminishing adoring fan base a caustic adieu by stating, "Good bye America..... you are not the country that I love...." Could she and Michael Moore just make the hook-up and move to Canada together?
It is also with great delight that I bid farewell to Rosie O'Donnell. Anyone check out her latest public cathartic ramblings about being fired from "The View"? I never watched that show more than twice for a total of ten minutes anyway. What a bunch of bubble brains. Not many active neural pathways between 'em with the exception of Barbara Walters. Poor Rosie had her feelings hurt in the past because she was called a fat lesbian. Well.....she ain't straight and she ain't skinny. Yet in one of her recent on-line clips from "The View" she emphatically calls herself a fat lesbian. Don't ya just hate the Oprahfication of society, where we must endure public mileage from what should be private pain? I've got my own kinda pain. Guess what?! You don't get to see it. I am not self-absorbed enough to imagine that I am the only suffering soul on the face of planet earth or that you even give a damn. So get over it, Rosie! There are more than six billion people in the world. A third of all children go to bed with hungry tummies every single night. Approximately 60 percent of women from India are illiterate. They can't even spell their own names. Women in Darfur get raped picking up firewood outside the IDP camps. A high proportion of Egyptian little girls still suffer FGM. Men and women dying of AIDS in Cote-d'Ivoire are leaving orphans to fend for themselves. The world is so much bigger than that nicely decorated studio box which claims to have "The View". I cannot quite figure out how you marketed the wind between your vocal cords and your tongue into a lucrative career, but you have done quite well for yourself. You are a literate, wealthy, and safe American woman. Quit the bitchin' and be thankful.
So who else needs to be filed into the "Good Riddance" files from popular culture? Post your responses. This remains a free speech zone.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
We pay for newspapers so that journalists can give us the factual bad news, give us the same news with a twist of commentary the next day, and follow it the next week with an editorial that reads like the taste of a boiled egg. So it is with great delight, that two bits of wonderful news have found their way into our homes in the last few days. It is time to open up the "Good Riddance" files and stuff a couple more folks into the shadows of obscurity where they actually need to reside.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:31 AM
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I believe that the static state of diplomatic non-negotiation with Iran has been a long-standing foreign policy mistake. Although we cannot change the past, we can rectify the future. So it is a hopeful sign to see the small conciliatory moves made between our government and that of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
From the heady days of the C.I.A. sponsored toppling of Mossadeq to the ineptitude in dealing with the Tehran hostage crisis of 1979, we springboarded from 444 days of national humiliation by cascading into decades of malaise with regards to American foreign policy toward Iran. Obstructionism and isolationism have failed to deal with the dynamics of a rising Tehran with juggernauting ambitions on the world stage.
Foreign policy should provide a constant stream of thought between nations, not the tepid pool in which past history chokes new solutions. With our tentative diplomatic venture we are stirring the pool of thought. But it still lacks enough intellectual oxygen to clarify issues on each side. I always believe negotiation empowers while obstructionism blocks vital issues which must be discussed. Obstructionism is a rather safe nail-filing activity but negotiation is sweated out in bullets. Obstructionism is children playing chess with the pawns, but negotiation is the meeting of the rooks and the knights.
And in a modern world where the dignitaries of the U.N. view themselves as the Doberman behind the Chihuahua, I see a rather different visual. I see many of the U.N. resolutions as toothless messengers boys who gum the issues instead of biting the rump of the beast. So if teeth are to be bared, let it be done amongst men of high intellect, tactical strength and strong negotiation capabilities on both sides. Negotiations may look like the battering ram of war to the faint of heart, but to men cool under fire, negotiations can be seen as a tool to power down confrontation, obtain mutually beneficial goals and secure national interests on both sides of the table. Negotiations behind closed doors may cause tempers to flare, bladders to become uncomfortably full and what appears to be the devil incarnate sitting across the table. But at the end of the day when the briefcases are locked, the couriers are sent and all parties head home, solutions can be found depending on the willingness of the participants.
My personality is such that I take the threat on the front porch and not crouched behind the locked bedroom door. Militarily our back is not against the wall. If we consider a nuclear-armed Iran to be both a concurrent destabilizing force and rising geopolitical force with which to be reckoned in the Middle East, so be it. But let the decisions be made, within the crosshairs of negotiation prior to the crosshairs of the scope of war. Diplomatic engagement may be messy and produce mixed results in the beginning. But in the shrinking nature of the globe, disengagement brings disadvantage and we need to clear the chess board of the old pieces and bring a new strategy for the 21st century.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:59 AM
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is spending billions of dollars and is still not protecting us from the chemicals it was created to police. It took a federal judge to remind the agency that it does have the power to regulate tailpipe emissions. And now, it seems ready to stand by while we become more obese, so obese that we can’t make enough insulin and become diabetic. While junk food plays a significant role in the pudging of America, minute amounts of chemicals called endocrine disrupters are also guilty, not only of making us stack fat, but they also help us toward various cancers, and reproductive disorders.
The EPA knows this, which is why it recently unveiled a $76 million program to detect these chemicals. There is only one problem. At least 200 scientists think they are going about it the wrong way. The general practice is to determine how much poison the human body can tolerate and then to try to see to it that we don’t get that much. That seems to work for lead, arsenic, mercury, etc, but not endocrine disrupters.
With these chemicals, less is worse. Very small amounts will turn on the fat storage genes, etc. Not only that, but the fetus reacts to even smaller doses and the child will start life as a fat storer.
The EPA has been nothing if not deliberate in its approach to the endocrine blocker problem. Ten years ago, Congress passed two laws ordering the agency to look into endocrine blockers. The agency has yet to test a single chemical. It has, however, enlisted the help of the people who make their livings from selling these chemicals in designing the program to test for dangerous levels of them. Sort of like asking tobacco companies if cigarettes are harmful.
It does plan to test between 50 and 100 chemicals in the first go round of its current program, but it seems that the rats the agency has chosen have a very high tolerance to the chemicals they are going to be tested with. Not only that, but the agency has decided to feed them with a rat chow (let’s hope it doesn’t come from China) with phytoestrogens which are known to interfere with normal hormones. How are you going to tell what is going on if there are two possible sources?
All this testing is really not necessary. There is field evidence of serious problems. We have known about this problem for more than 50 years. Even since Rachel Carson wrote “The Silent Spring”. In a Florida lake contaminated with pesticides, male alligators produce female levels of testosterone, had abnormal sperm and had stunted sex organs. In ponds across the Midwest, male frogs are making eggs. Scientists think the culprit is the herbicide atrazine.
Nobody cares about amphibians and pesticides? Baby boys develop reproductive organ abnormalities when exposed to known hormone disrupting chemicals. Research funded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has found a link between these chemicals and breast cancer.
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:43 AM
Monday, May 28, 2007
Silently they move, across the landscape of our land. Over decades and by the millions the lips of American men and women have taken the oath to wear the cloth of the nation. Silently, they move among us. Fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. This is the thread of our own families. But we recognize it as a thread woven yet more deeply into the tapestry of our nation.
Silently they move, picking up orders to perform training. Moving into deserts and the mountainous regions, onto the seas and into the air; traveling to areas with temperatures most would disdain, they sweat and they freeze, going days with limited sleep to learn the craft of military defense.
Silently they move, to the defense of our nation. They guard our borders from within and also from beyond the perimeter of national soil when the nation calls. Lacing up their boots in the quiet light of early day before children are awakened for a trip to the airport, a quiet force. Loading their packs, checking for dogtags and orders, they take once last quick look around the home and at the family pet; a last look at the neighborhood as they set their gaze toward the task ahead.
Silently they move, the wounded of war, who need our support. The wheelchairs and the amputees, the ones with the limp or the scars all have a story to tell. But those who suffer PTSD are not recognizable in the grocery line next to you. The sights and the sounds of war are still within their frames. They are home, but the memories are not laid to rest. They are also the wounded. It is not a dishonorable wound. But it remains the one for which there will be no ribbon awarded for service. They move among us. Honorably and silently.
Silently they move, the families who bury their dead. Casket graced with flag, bugle like mournful dove, men and women laid to rest into the ground which they loved. Black hearse leaves, families return to their home, yellow ribbon on the front door with flag hoisted on pole.
Silently we move, the bundle of the living military which remains. Never denying our oath. Never forgetting those who have already paid the ultimate price. Mindful of the families left behind. Silently we stand. A massive shield of defense for America. God Bless our Troops.
LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR, NC
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:23 AM
Sunday, May 27, 2007
James McEachin is in the D.C. area where his outstanding film short "Old Glory" has been presented at the G.I. Film Festival. He is attending a Navy Memorial reception and the Memorial Day Parade as an honored guest. He also has been given the opportunity to present a live rendition from Voices: A Tribute to the American Veteran, for a large cadre of our senators and congressmen as part of the many tributes and remembrances going on inside the Beltway this long Memorial Day weekend. If you have not yet purchased "Old Glory" or "Voices", I can highly recommend both. They are oustanding works of artistry.
Across the nation, we remember our own. This video clip is worth the view. Please note that in honor of her own service to our nation, Jane Fonda has been given an "office". smile
Posted by tammyswofford at 9:47 AM
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Cheers on Corridor Three
by LTC Bob Bateman
10:30 hours (local EST), Friday, 11 May 2007: Third Corridor, Second Floor, The Pentagon:
It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here. This hallway, more than any other, is the "Army" hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.
10:36 hours (local EST): The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building.
This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is an applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway. A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence.
He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class. Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier.
Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden ... yet. Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel. Behind him, and stretching the length from E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.
10:50 hours (local EST): Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. "My hands hurt." Christ. Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.
They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade.
More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly. There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's behalf.
No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past. These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:59 AM
Friday, May 25, 2007
There is high drama across the State of Texas. Thousands of high school seniors (and their caring parents) are bringing external pressure to bear on school administrators. These young adults want to walk across the stage for graduation ceremonies, although they have not earned the lowliest of all degrees: a standard high school diploma. According to our Texas education statute, if you flunk the TAKS, the state-mandated exit exam, you only receive a piece of paper saying that you attended high school. Hats off, to the administrators withstanding the crowd and not allowing such farce at their local graduation ceremonies. What a slap in the face to the students who have actually earned their degree.
Gone are the days when our children learned responsibility in school or the home. We have replaced a concept of self respect with one of self esteem. And the culture of self esteem has created the "Zzzzz" Generation. Yes, apathetic little lazy souls who believe the world owes them a living. Entitled little creatures who leave the launch pad of life and land with a thud right back onto their parents doorsteps. Thirty-year old lounge lizard males now abound who still live at home in this land of the free and the spineless. But instead of sunning on a rock, they sprawl on living room couches, remote clasped within slothful hand. Seventeen year old emancipated female minors grace our barrio-type apartments locally. One on the hip and the second in the oven, I see it too much: Young mothers with thirty dollar pedicures, handing in their WIC cards for free milk and orange juice for the youngun's. Me in the line behind them, proudly flaunting my self-applied nail polish and paying for my milk with the money in my wallet. I have a college degree. I earned it. Did not buy it on-line at a degree factory cyber outlet. Delayed children, delayed marriage, delayed monetary gratification to get that degree.
I remember the feeling when my fifth grade teacher would call out our grades after a test. My stomach would knot up momentarily until I heard "Tammy, you made a 98 on your spelling exam." That sort of experience gave me the courage to begin to compete on a higher level and whip the sixth-grade competition to become the school spelling bee champ that year. But a teacher is not allowed to publicly declare a grade anymore! The poor chump who made a 68 on his exam must never be allowed to hang his head low and contemplate that he got exactly what was deserved. God forbid we hurt his self esteem. Zzzzz.
And what about medals and awards? Everyone gets one now. How surly of us, to only award a gold, silver and bronze. Every child, must go home with a medal. They are entitled to it. Zzzzz.
And in a world where children are groomed for self-adulation, a grand world of psychological delusion emerges. Young adults emerge onto the cusp of society in clown suits and the wits to match. So yes, I guess I can support our Dallas seniors who have not earned their degrees walking across the stage to receive a blank piece of paper. Let them hear the swelling waves of applause, see the smiles of the adoring fans. But let them take their strut naked. Just like the Emperor who had no clothes. Cheers to the "Zzzzz" Generation. snore
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:40 AM
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Oh, for the extraordinary life of Mohammad Jafari (Sahraroudi), an Iranian with the luck-o-the-Irish. The man is certainly colorful and whether in the role of holding a governmental calling card for either death or diplomacy, he is resourceful.
During the glorious days of the Iranian Revolution in which the Shah fled, our hostages languished and the world watched, the elite fighting force of the Iranian government evolved in form of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a military force under the command of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He became the Supreme Commander of this power structure. The inception of this fighting force was in May 1979. Reading Article 176 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran addresses the set-up of a Supreme National Security Council and the IRGC. They are tasked with surface territorial security against external attack, some law enforcement aspects and also maintenance of control over the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Mohammad Jafari climbed into the seat early and stayed for the ride. He pinged on the radar when in July of 1989 the Executive Director of the Kurdish Democratic Party and two of his friends were assassinated. M. Jafari was himself clipped along his own left wing, (shoulder and arm) arrested and in custody of the Austrian police prior to release after pressure exerted from the Iranian government. After the fact, he earned a little international arrest warrant issued by an Austrian judge for the death of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou.
Back in early January American troops took aim at him in an operation staged at Arbil, but he had fled northern Kurdistan for Iran. He is believed to play a large part in the arming of the Shi'a militia against the Iraqi government. Meantime, possibly in a retaliatory act, Tehran dispatches a team to scoop a few Brit sailors out of the water and rub a few noses in the dirt for the international media.
Last seen at the Sharm-El-Sheikh conference, M. Jafari is alive and well, continuing his duties with the High Commission for Security. The current Supreme Commander Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei has confirmed a policy of "no talk, no ties" to the U.S.A. this past week in a speech to his well-wishers. Iran is finishing up with a three day exercise to test new armor and anti-helicopter equipment. U.S. Naval Fleet assets are afloat and underway at the Strait of Hormuz in a little naval exercise of their own as you read this blog. Floating military cities, with an arsenal at sea.
Just a reminder to keep your reading glasses on, folks. As the old Chinese curse says, "May you live in interesting times."
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:56 AM
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Yes, I am a member of the "Christian Taliban". Or that would seem to be the case, from some of the fur flying over on another blog site where I occasionally post. So let me lay out my thoughts a bit on the whole issue of religion in the public square and the "contras" of secular humanism.
It seems these two groups represent the predominant and distinct caste systems which have evolved in the American political arena. They are the bigger umbrella under which the smaller demographics and ethnocentric circles of voters reside. But what has evolved does not make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It gives reason to send up a cheer because it is healthy for America, keeping viability in the political landscape. So what do these groups look like to me? Below are my own profiles:
They are champions of "the left".
Easy to spot. They hog the limelight.
See the good in all mankind. Evil is non-existent.
An individual's right to act as a free agent is sacrosanct.
Favor solutions which manipulate environment to achieve goals.
Support subsidy structures for the less fortunate.
Welfare programs explode into being as quickly as new pockets of "disadvantaged" are identified.
Claim intellectual superiority.
Seek to be at the top of the political caste system.
The "Christian Taliban":
Champions of "the right".
Political actions springs not from the writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Descartes or Voltaire, but reading of one piece of classic literature, the Bible.
Pessimists who see society as degenerate, man in need of redemption.
Evil is ever-present.
The right of the individual to free expression must be limited by "the common good".
Favor solutions which require individual accountability for choices.
Welfare programs are cut and stringent demands placed on access to public coffers.
Claim moral authority over the encampment of the secularist.
Seek to be at the top of the political caste system.
In the tit-for-tat between two crowds and the cacophony of sound, I hear a song of freedom. Ideas in action bring strength to our nation. Tension between the sides allows for compromise and concessions, a keeping of balance. Each side needs the other. So put on your party hats! I am already salivating over the battle lines which are being drawn as we move into the next voting cycle. The political skirmishes will be fun for those of us at the grassroots level and hopefully a good kick in the seat of the pants to our favorite candidates. It will give opportunity to laugh and to cry for each who engages the process. It is far from boring. Lessons will be learned, and America will remain strong. This is my country. Let freedom ring!
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:48 AM
Monday, May 21, 2007
Mr. Bush has done it again. He has nominated the least appropriate person he could find to head the Consumer Products Safety Commission. As senior lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers, Michael E. Baroody has spent the last 17 years in unrelenting attack on every consumer protection measure the government has suggested.
Just in case some dim bulb failed to get the message, NAM wasted no time in sending Baroody a check for $150,000, so he shouldn’t forget his friends when making consumer safety rules.
If your kid suffers serious burns because his pajamas caught fire, thank Mr. Baroody.
Grand dad having trouble breathing and even more trouble finding health insurance because of the asbestos he breathed while working in a shipyard? Mr. Baroody has fought tooth and nail to make sure the shipyards have no obligation to look after their former workers. New York thought it would be a good idea if cigarettes were less likely to cause fires. Not a good idea said Baroody. Apparently, he enjoys seeing people standing outside their smoldering apartment houses with all they own on their backs.
Baroody’s argument against the cigarettes? The states should not make consumer safety laws. That should be left to the federal government, the Consumer Products Safety Commission. It is a specious argument. States are allowed to set their own standards, and, as long as those standards are more stringent than the federal standards, they prevail.
Mr. Bush has decided that the best guard to set for the henhouse is a fox.
Posted by tammyswofford at 1:56 PM
"I made a stupid decision, I know, but I felt it was the right decision, the moral decision, the decision required by international law." LCDR Matt Diaz, USN
LandNav (land navigation using maps and coordinates) is a useless endeavor when it comes to my brain. I can get lost in my own backyard. So don't expect me to lay out a map, mark off coordinates, understand azimuth and compass and proceed to walk off paces with a string of beads in my pocket. Oh yes, I have done it with a group. But solo, the extraction team would find a skeleton with an empty canteen in the desert.
But one of the interesting things placed into this dull little nurse's brain is that a compass is set for magnetic north, which is a magnetic point south of the pole. It must then be adjusted by degrees for "true north" (or declination) prior to moving out to locate that "fallen comrade" who is sitting under a tree eating his MRE*, waiting for you to "rescue" him. Getting it right is crucial. Especially if you are fording a creek or tracking across rough terrain.
LCDR Matt Diaz committed his actions with his personal moral compass on magnetic north. But he missed the mark of "true north" with regards to his oath, duty and the rank he holds. His defense for leaking the names of terror suspects at Gitmo to a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights was purely a "magnetic north" decision. In 2005, Barbara Olshansky received an anonymous Valentine's Day card from LCDR Matt Diaz with the names and other identifying information of 550 detainees at Guantanamo. This information had not been specifically solicited by the lawyer, and rightly so, it was turned over to the F.B.I. Now LCDR Matt Diaz faces the type of news headlines which none ever hope to see. And in being "off" by degrees in mental judgment he has forever effected the ability to navigate his career to the target, the finish line of retirement.
There are varying opinions regarding legal rights of the detainees. This issue is a delicate subject, regardless. As an American I do not support incarceration without legal representation. As a military officer, I do support use of military tribunals. But what I also believe regarding law, gives me reason to disrespect the officer who made the choice to release the names in anonymous manner. Because in upholding a principle, he became unprincipled. In seeking justice, he engaged deceit. And in making a decision which he felt was in line with international law, he violated the very law (UCMJ) under which he has undoubtedly prosecuted other officers. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is the corpus juris which binds the military community to their oath and duties. He violated our own strict code of law, which holds to a much higher standard than civilian law. He admits to doing it knowingly and without mental reservation. Sadly, the words sound hauntingly familiar. Such words passed my own lips when I took my oath as a direct commissioned officer in 1994.
So this officer with his NOE (notice of eligibility) for retirement coming into view took a risk. But in a sense, he took no risk at all. He operated in a manner to seek freedom from reprisal. He mailed the list of names anonymously. I could have somewhat respected him if he had publicly released the names, stated he did it as an act of conscience, and then announced that he was willing to bear up under any necessary repercussions. But he went beyond the bounds of the law and tried to cover his trail hoping the law would not catch up with him.
I believe law serves a purpose in civil society. While American citizens retain the right to engage acts of civil disobedience and pursue other means to see public opinion, hence laws changed, they must still fall under the penalty of law if transgression is found. So if tomorrow I choose to block the entrance to the local abortion clinic I will do so with the full knowledge that I will be handcuffed and sent to jail. I should not whine for falling under the penalty of the law. It is my choice. If next week I choose to protest in front of a Starbucks and whack people with my sign to get them to quit eating high calorie desserts, that can also be my choice. But these things, should be done in an open manner with my own conscience coupled with a fortitude which recognizes that at the point I break the law, the law will come to bear in my life.
The law has come calling for LCDR Matt Diaz. I feel the tie to this Navy lawyer, a member of my community. I can relate to his passionate nature. But what he did was the wrong course of action. I hope he can regain his compass settings. Honor, Courage and Commitment. These are the "settings" by which the Navy navigates!
LCDR Tammy Swofford
*MRE: meals-ready-to-eat or as I term them, "meals refused by Ethiopians"
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:03 AM
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Thank you again to the readership of the blog. Returning visitors are at 80 percent now. Overseas the readership this week came from Delhi, Baghdad, Naples, London, Amsterdam and Edinburgh. In CONUS (continental United States) the readership was predominantly from the east coast and southwest. Readership from Canada, but nothing from Central or South America this week.
Next week not sure what Tom Gordon has in store. As for me, my writings are leaning toward the international and geopolitical arena.
Continue to pray for the families awaiting news on the status of the three missing American soldiers in Iraq. Unless you have been a part of the military community, you cannot possibly grasp how deeply felt is our belief to bring all military personnel home from a war zone, whether alive or in the worst case scenario, with identifiable remains. As such, I have known military officers who spent time in Cambodia on their knees and sifting through dirt, to find bones or fragments of missing POW's to finally lay to rest, the unanswered questions of war.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:01 AM
Friday, May 18, 2007
When an adolescent girl shoplifts a three dollar thong from Wal-Mart, her mother will be picking her up from the city jail. The parent will pay a fine and the child will have a juvenile record. Signs are posted everywhere in Wal-Mart stating "We prosecute shoplifters."
But what if you have top secret clearance, know the rules of the game and waltz into the National Archives and stuff classified documents down your britches? It appears that the shoplifting of classified documents by the former National Security Advisor merits little more than the light slap on the hand we give our two year old child at the store when we see them pocket an item. They are innocent. They have not developed a sense of right and wrong.
There was a Naval officer who did not maintain chain of custody on secret documents. They were found in the trunk of his car. Mysteriously, his next assignment was at one of those coveted vacation spots like maybe Yemen or Siberia. No more coffee-klatching inside the Beltway. He was sent to a place where the nearest Starbucks was a thousand miles away.
If you look at this link, have ever held a security clearance and understand the nature of field investigations and the things that go into receiving such clearance, it is apparent that what Sandy Berger did was a complete violation of trust, a national trust, which had been given into his hands. This man, took highly sensitive documents in what were brazen acts of theft. Receiving a $50,000 dollar fine, two years probation, 100 hours of community service and a security clearance level degraded to the level of the family dog may sound o.k. to some. Forfeiting his license to practice law may move some to accept his "mea culpa" after he was caught. But I believe the man should be in jail. Just like that shoplifter with the stolen thong.
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:11 AM
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Today we are going to take a peek into the closet and look at abortion's dirty little secrets. Or if you prefer, everything you always wanted to know about abortion but were too damn lazy to ask. It has been quite some time since I have titled a blog "Swofford Unleashed". So come off the leash with me and look at the ethical and societal ills which abortion has produced. The picture is ugly. And the blog will move into "bullet format" which is fast-paced and aims for a bulls-eye on the target.
*Abortion has allowed for female genocide. Forget all the hooey about how abortion has given women control over their bodies. Check out this link regarding sex-selective abortions in Asia. Please read the full four pages and look at the graph. Yep, we are less valuable than you guys. But women in Asia will have the last laugh in a few years. We will see a slew of angry Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese men who suddenly have a couple of neurons fire up to figure out that because a passle of little girls were aborted there now aren't enough adult women to supply the demand for sex, love or marriage. Those studs are gonna have a hard time catching a filly. The Chinese government finally figured it out twenty years too late. They fooled with Mother Nature and got stung. So now sex-selective abortions are illegal, but my guess is the male-to-female ratio will remain in a declined and unnatural state for years to come. Such imbalances take some time to correct.
*Abortion has allowed for Darwinism with a new twist. While there may be a natural culling process of the animal kingdom, those made in the image of God are (without conscience) culling "the diseased herd" with increasing use of the technology afforded from the human genome map and advanced lab tests which pinpoint congenital defects and disease processes. Case in point, our medical community is increasingly pushing for "early intervention" against Down Syndrome. There is a documented decline in live birth of children with Down Syndrome in the U.S. Our neighboring Canadian obstetricians are managing quite well with decreasing the incident of children born with cystic fibrosis. "Early intervention" is such a sweet term. But can we face facts? Women will be increasingly bullied by both their physicians and possibly their husbands, to abort a baby noted to have a defect picked up by intra-uterine detection. God knows none of us would ever think it o.k. to slap a woman in the face or shove her against the wall. But that is exactly the emotional toll that will be felt by women who find themselves verbally pressured to both be tested, and abort their offspring. The woman may be facing a crisis induced vulnerability that tips the balance in favor of abortion. Oh yes, the physician will present as a kindly professional figure. But the pressure will be firmly applied. What worries me more is what can happen within the walls of the bedroom that night. How many women face the potential threat of abandonment from a man who has decided that he just won't be a part of raising a handicapped child? Don't kid yourself. A woman's womb is no longer a place of safe pasture for the growth of her child. It is a shark pond.
*Abortion has decreased the inherent worth of women and protective societal mechanisms which are by nature, to be assumed by the male gender. It is just easier, for some men not to care about the women they get pregnant these days. They view a sexual relationship as having a "no fault clause" when it comes to their responsibility. The logic goes something like this: *I got you pregnant. *Big deal. Get an abortion *Don't want an abortion? Too bad.
I hate abortion. Abortion has opened the door into the womb. And the intrusion into the womb has brought pressure against a woman's right to choose. Feminists just thought they were fighting for the "rights" to their bodies. Now my generation must fight to maintain control over that little package of flesh, in whatever shape or form the Creator allows for its intrauterine development. I resent, what the pro-abortion feminists pulled off. I support all legal means to curb and completely abolish the abortion industry in America.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Senator John McCain suffered methodical long-term torture at the hands of his Vietnamese captors. He is to be honored for keeping his oath under severe conditions. But he did not suffer life-taking brutal torture, the butchery that is possible for our three soldiers who are presumed captured by Al-Qaedah militants in Iraq. They were taken by ambush on Saturday. Make no mistake. This is not your "Daddy's war".
Did you view the abbreviated video release after the capture of the two U.S. servicemen previously taken as POW's in Iraq? It was somewhat surreal, the bloody and dismembered corpses lying on some unknown bridge over a river in Iraq. Faces of the insurgents were not shown, rather pictures of sandaled feet, one quick hoist of a decapitated head, a bit of a grainy view of machete type injuries. Vivisection without anesthesia. But somehow what bothered me greatly was the kick to the head of the second soldier, who had managed not to gain his flight into eternity in the manner of John the Baptist. I am not quite sure why that particular act bothered me in such tremendous manner. Maybe it is because I understand our own military traditions, the respectful manner in which we seek out and return our own dead to their families and native soil.
There are those who have questioned why I would allow myself to view such things. Do we need "all the graphic details" for the proper perspective? Of course not. But my own psyche wants to pay final respect to what was a horrible end. So I view the video. Three times.
As of today thousands of troops have poured into the villages and alleyways of the surrounding region where three American soldiers disappeared. The "kinder and gentler" illusion presented to the media upon the release of the British sailors in Iran was done for political and media gain. It will not be the fate of our soldiers who have fallen into the hands of the cruel. For al-Qaedah represents a mission based on hate. This organization justifies cruelty without reason and allows carte blanche barbarity. And the coveted blood rinsed off the blade into the water trough is that of the highly sought after blood of the American soldier. We represent that which keeps them from achieving their goals. And when the vortex of Al-Qaedah which is seen in Iraq makes its way to America again our blood will flow onto the ground. Our blood, on our soil.
For the three captured American soldiers, a prayer for swift flight.
Posted by tammyswofford at 8:08 AM
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Not since Warren G. Harding has an administration so thoroughly distinguished itself.
The brouhahas over Alberto “I don’t remember” Gonzales and Paul “Sugar Daddy” Wolfowitz have managed to obscure the real achievements of the Bush Admininstration. Here is a brief rundown on the achievements of a few, quite a few, Bush appointees.
Matteo Fontana, Department of Education, put on leave because he had at least $100,000 in the stock of a student loan company he oversaw (Conflict of interest).
Lurita Doan, head of Government Services Administration, under investigation for having Scott Jennings, a Rove aide give a lunch presentation at the Administration on how the administration can help Republican candidates (misappropriation of government property, improper activity).
Philip Cooney, a former oil industry lobbyist, altered three scientific reports to downplay or eliminate references to the link between greenhouse gases and global warming. He left government for a job with ExxonMobile.
Former Air Force procurement officer Darleen Druyun drew a nine month prison sentence in 2005 for conflict of interest over the $23 billion leasing of Boeing tankers despite Pentagon studies showing the tankers were not needed. After the deal, she took a job with Boeing.
J. Steven Griles, former deputry interior secretary, was convicted in the Abramoff influence peddling scandal.
Former White House aide, David H. Safavian, faces a 180 month prison sentence for lying to the government about his ties to Abramoff.
Roger Stillwell, formerly of the Interior Department, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge involving tickets Abramoff gave him.
Claude Allen, Bush’s domestic policy advisor, is a common shoplifter currently serving two years of supervised probation.
In addition to this rogue’s gallery, four presidential inspectors general appointees are under investigation, and three others have left office under threat of investigation. The Inspector General is supposed to be the cop on the beat making sure that the federal agency under his eye does things right.
Robert “Moose” Cobb at NASA is charged with interfering with investigations and improper ties to NASA leadership.
Johnnie Frazier, the IG at the Commerce Department, is under investigation by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, the Office of Special Counsel, and a congressional committee for charges of wasteful spending, contracting abuse, discriminatory employment practices and fraud.
Iraq Reconstruction IG, Stuart Bowen, is under PCIE and Congress for wasteful spending and misleading reporting.
At the Environmental Protection Agency, Bill Roderick is under congressional investigation for a plan to cut 60 investigators from his staff and for giving himself a $15,000 bonus.
Janet Rehnquist, the former Chief Justice’s daughter, left as IG of Health and Human Services in 2003 in the face of a PCIE investigation of her interfering with an investigation and mismanagement. Karla Corcoran, left the Post Office in 2003 after a congressional investigation into her spending practices. Joseph Schmitz left the Defense Department during a congressional investigation into whether he interfered with investigations into Bush administration officials.
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:10 AM
Monday, May 14, 2007
It is official. The new president of France, a man who captured 53% of the vote in elections a few days ago, will be Nicolas Sarkozy. The presidential inauguration ceremony is Wednesday. His winning campaign strategy was based on political debate which placed immigration and market reform, and economic renewal at the forefront of governmental policy changes. His plans are aggressive and ambitious. He will move into the position which has been held by Jacques Chirac since 1995. This man steps into the ring in what many analysts consider a critical decade for France.
After WW II the need for rebuilding the robust and rebounding European economy brought a large influx of labor immigrants via relaxed guest worker programs. France had a large demographic representation from Morocco in the 1950's-1960's and also notable numbers of guest workers from Algeria and Tunisia. Family reunification programs and broader judicial interpretation of asylum laws kept the stream flowing. France remains the third leading "destination point" for immigrants in Europe after Germany and the United Kingdom. At present, the immigrant population in France stands at 10 percent of total population, or six million souls, with the majority from North Africa.
France suffers an unemployment rate of 8.75% with an astounding 25% unemployment rate among youth. The French are also strapped with one of the highest tax burdens in Europe. In 2005 it was 50% of the GDP. So the needs on the domestic front are urgent.
In looking at the extreme extrinsic forces from labor markets in third world countries, Sarkozy has gone on record to state that France cannot provide "a home for the world's miseries". He is already showing his nationalistic leadership stripe. He believes that first and foremost in government, should be the welfare of legal citizens; not to provide a political vent for corrupt governments which do not provide infrastructure and economy for their own populace. So this will put a focus on the North African immigrant population which resides within, and the aspiring immigrants from beyond the borders of France. Sarkozy will be facing issues unique to the demographic. Nicolas Sarkozy has the passion seen of the French. He gained political leverage in the aftermath of the weeks of immigrant-fueled riots of 2005 by restive North African youth residing within in the banlieues of France. His words were tough and some were taken aback. Yet he struck an emotional chord in his nation. Taking his cue from the electorate, he will stiffen immigration policy to include selective culling of applicants for things such as higher academic qualifications. Sarkozy may also consider examining immigration models and parliamentary discourse such as has been engaged in Australia in recent years.
Historically, France has not suffered under status as a hatchery for terrorist cells because the French government strengthened vigilance in the early 1990's against Islamic radicalism. So it is also conceivable that Nicolas Sarkozy will be a leading voice to spearhead tightening of transnational travel documents within the E.U. much as the U.S. is quietly seeking a tightening of travel access documents between our nation and the United Kingdom.
Mr. Sarkozy also seeks to increase the traditional work week from 35 hours, to a more productive work cycle. He seeks to instill within the French a renewed concept of "reward" for hard work. But the biggest challenge will continue to be immigration reform. Only a slow and controlled access by immigrants to the host nation allows for an economy to be sustainable and not fall into decline, as seen in France.
Unrestricted access for cheap illegal unskilled labor decreases options for the legal immigrant seeking economic viability. But governmental strengthening of educational opportunities, affordable housing and a shot at upward mobility must also exist for the immigrant. The majority of immigrants who migrated to France after the collapse of African French colonies lacked transitory skills needed to move into the service industry market after industrial jobs slowly disappeared. It is wise policy, which seeks to give the first generation of the immigrant a "leg up" the educational and social ladder so that succeeding generations may benefit. Mr. Sarkozy has some well-defined goals. France requires change and Mr. Sarkozy might be just the man who is up to the challenge.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:29 AM
Friday, May 11, 2007
In the world of blogging and internet access there are many alternate news and propaganda sources available for inquisitive readers. As such, I scroll through news from Pakistan, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Iran, etc. on a consistent basis. The news that shows as "2 minutes" old on Yahoo News, will be a yawner, if you have previously accessed the news from the source nation prior to it hitting western media outlets. If you have not broadened your reading circle yet, here are just a few places to start:
The blog of President Ahmadinejad
News from Pakistan
Middle East News Portal
News From Bangladesh
The blog of President Ahmadinejad is the stuff of propaganda. As such, comments to the "tormented" mother whose soldier son does not want to go to Iraq require the box of Kleenex. The web master has done a nice job in placing a country flag next to each rebuttal comment. So if you only want to read comments from a particular country, scan for the flag.
News from PakTribune is synoptic and easy to read, and the editors allow comments to fly if you care to post your thoughts for English-speaking Pakistani readership. They had a rousing number of comments very recently regarding prostitution. Some of the comments were quite colorful and I joined the fray.
Albawaba is a nice gateway into the Middle East, using the tabs at the top of the page to access a country of your choice. It tends to have a mix of financial and pop culture news.
Why should you give a rip about Bangladesh? You should follow Bangladesh, because it gives a sense of the desperation of poverty. Over 130 million people reside in an area the size of New York State. Average daily wage is less than a dollar a day.
So ramp up your reading today and click on the above sites and give them a quick glance. If you have not broadened your daily reading to include areas beyond the U.S.A. and Europe, it is time to begin to do so. smile
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:59 AM
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Your child is worth about three dollars to a drug dealer. That amount of money is the cost for your child to purchase "cheese", a heroin and Diphenhydramine mix being brought across our borders by the Mexican drug cartels. Drug dealers are working the schools for the price of a kid's lunch money. And three dollars, can kill your child. Toxicology reports here in Dallas, just confirmed two more deaths from "cheese" overdoses among an adolescent population.
But the Mexican drug cartel influence into Dallas and other areas presents a much bigger picture than that of a fourteen year old lying on a slab at the morgue. In March the Dallas Police Department lost Senior Cpl Mark T. Nix to a drug dealer wielding an assault rifle during a daylight chase and attempted take-down of the suspect. Mr. Nix had also served his country as a Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Life violently snuffed, at thirty-three years of age by a drug dealer who received his supply from Mexico.
Last week, F.B.I. agents shot and killed a kidnapping suspect at a local Wal-Mart, which was the arranged drop off for a ransom. The kidnapping victim was rescued, and yes, the dispute was drug related. Personally, I wish it wasn't my tax dollars used to pull that man's derriere out of the fire.
The problem of Mexican drug cartels is so severe that our Department of State has issued a travel advisory for Mexico. While Mexico depends heavily on foreign tourism, it appears that the local "tourist" from Mexico is increasingly an illegal alien, or possibly a drug dealer.
Meanwhile, our federal government has done far too little to shut down access to both drug trade and illegal immigration from the south. So the life of your child is worth three dollars. And the life of a Dallas Police officer is worth a bullet. Because in the world of the drug dealer, that kid buying the drug doesn't have a name. And that police officer is just a threat to the profit margin.
Posted by tammyswofford at 10:09 AM
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Most of us think of stromboli as an aromatic yeast bread served hot from the oven and stuffed with Italian meats and cheeses. But it was author Carlo Collodi, who gave us the real "Stromboli" in the children's novel, "The Adventures of Pinocchio". Stromboli was the wicked puppeteer who took the rather kindly affectionate wooden Pinnocchio and manipulated him for profit. The niavety of Pinocchio further set him on a reckless course for his life. His choices took him to "Pleasure Island" a place of seemingly never-ending fun for bad little boys who were slowly changed from humans into common asses, or beasts of burden.
Such is the nature of on-line gambling. Americans went on line last year and spent $12 billion on this vice, according to a news report given on a Dallas radio talk show. Overall, Americans spend $500 billion a year on some form of gambling. But it is the visits to on-line "Pleasure Islands" which is producing young men with an uncontrollable addiction, empty wallets and..... donkey ears.
According to a report by Andrew Weaver, PhD and Harold G. Koenig, MD approximately 2.5 million Americans (or 1.6%-1.9%) suffer from pathological gambling habits. These are the people who gamble away their incomes, their homes and anything which is not nailed down which can be converted to gambling cash.
Now, I have to be truthful here. I have gambled too. An elderly woman once gave me a scratch off lottery ticket. When I scratched it off, it earned one dollar. I reinvested my dollar in a new scratch off ticket and lost my dollar. That little experiment was enough for me. But for some people the thrill of earning money without working for it gives too big of a buzz. In reality, the vast majority of people need to just carry around a pack of matches and torch their gambling money when pulling it out of their wallet. Because few are the true winners, when it comes to this mind trap.
So what do I suggest if you feel the urge to try your luck at on-line gambling? What was the amount of money which you were willing to lose for a few minutes of brainless fun? Take out your credit card instead. Look up a charitable organization whom you trust. Send them a gift. Every single time you feel the urge to gamble, repeat the process. And pretty soon, some little girl in an orphanage will receive a new dress. A little boy who needs a new pair of shoes for school will have them. An elderly person will get their next dinner brought to their door by "Meals on Wheels". And you will have developed the character strength of good stewardship rather than a weakness for vice. smile
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:24 AM
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
One hundred years after Upton Sinclair exposed the American food and drug industry in “The Jungle,” China is being exposed for the same practices.
Who cares that a few thousand dogs and cats die of kidney failure because less than diligent pet food makers don’t bother to check the ingredients they buy from China? Not one of the burning issues of our time. But what about thousands of children around the world who have died at their parents hands from diethylene glycol poisoning? Chinese manufacturers are selling diethylene glycol as glycerin, an important component of cough medicine and other medicines.
Last Saturday, Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker traced China’s poisoning of world medicine supplies in the New York Times.
One of the mass murderers was Wang Guiping, a 41-year-old tailor with a ninth grade education. Wang didn’t want to be a tailor. He wanted to trade pharmaceuticals, so he obtained a chemistry book and a website. He also knew that he could beat the competition if he adulterated what he was selling with industrial grade products not meant for human consumption. Nothing wrong with that. He forged his licenses and laboratory analyses to trick trusting customers. Then Wang hit his big idea. Pharmaceutical grade glycerin sold for almost $1,900 a ton, but diethylene glycol could be had for half of that. They looked alike. Why not just re-label diethylene glycol as glycerin and sell it?
After Chinese began to die, the government began investigating, but determined that it had no jurisdiction because the plant that was making the diethylene glycol was not licensed to make pharmaceuticals.
“We do not have any evidence that either of these companies has broken the law,” said Yan Jiangying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese drug administration, speaking of case in which 46 barrels of diethylene glycol, sold as glycerin found their way to Panama where they were mixed with cough medicine.
Mr. Wang isn’t the only entrepreneur in China to have that idea. China has also exported fake baby formula. Then there were the squids soaked in ink to make them look better and the eels fed contraceptive pills to make them lean.
China has begun to crack down, but it has a long way to go. Until they get there, I would like to say that buying any chemical or food from China should be a criminal offense, punishable as murder. I can't because we do the same damn thing. In our case, it is pesticides that can't be used here, and pharmaceuticals that have passed their safe shelf life. A great deal of the donated medical supplies are at best useless, if not downright injurious, but the donating company gets a tax break based on sale price, as if the stuff could actually be sold. But, we also kill about 50,000 of us a year through inadequate food inspections.
Posted by tammyswofford at 8:06 AM
Monday, May 07, 2007
Sometimes you just have to put the skunk on the table. That is the only way to fully appreciate the nature of the problem.
Free speech brings health to society when intelligent citizens take opinions from all quarters, compare them to the facts, and then retain the kernel of truth. But the "compassionate view" from the link in the previous blog is just one kernel, when it comes to Darfur. The whole cob of corn must be viewed to see some painful individual truths regarding the mess in the Sudan. Some of that truth can be found in the subtle references embedded in the Darfur Peace Agreement and other available documents.
Darfur has not suffered from a high-intensity flashpoint conflict involving a foreign invading army or occupation force. Darfur has suffered from a low to possibly moderate chronic internal conflict. This has slowly drained and decimated portions of the topographical landscape of its most valuable resource: indigenous people groups. The internally displaced population has swelled to greater than two million people now residing in cramped and dirty IDP camps. And there is a growing diaspora of refugees into the bordering nation of Chad.
The Darfur Peace Agreement allows for a timeline of approximately six years for elections to take place within the three states which make up the Darfur region. (Target date 2010) The elections are to be followed by a referendum and one of two options: either a joining together of the three states and subsequent establishment of a government under a constitutional document or that the three states retain autonomous self-rule. There is no clear consensus as to whether the signatories of the Darfur Peace Agreement have actually accomplished much of anything. The document shows comprehensive planning and,yes, a scaffolding of thought is the beginning point for action. But the harder issues to tackle are the practicalities of alleviating the fairly insurmountable odds facing the families living in IDP camps or refugee status in neighboring nations. So let's look at some of the things which will need to be addressed. You, the reader, are center stage for practical applications. Tomorrow all warring factions will lay down their arms, Darfur holds a big parade and refugees are told, "You may go home now." The IDP camps are shut down and over two million people set out on a march to reclaim their land. Remember: this includes pregnant and lactating women and small children. How will you deal with just the minimum basic needs for human survival?
*What must be done with both the career professional soldier or quasi-professional militia man? Where are the cantonment sites for armed combatants to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate into the fabric of civilian society in the Sudan? Many of these career soldiers and para-military soldiers-of-fortune have lived off the booty of war, razing tribal villages and driving off inhabitants. These soldier-marauders have also systematically killed and raped those that were unable to flee the villages quickly enough, including children. The government in Khartoum, would rather not talk about that dirty little secret.
*What will be the water source for two million people moving back into the countryside?
Article Three, no. 43 of the Darfur Peace Agreement states: "The GoS shall take the necessary legislative and other measures to protect and to promote the development of natural resources of the country and to combat environmental degradation."
Let me explain this in plain English. Many local women already walk 2-3 hours/day to secure water from the nearest available source. Carrying large jerry cans provided by the U.N. they spend more time ferrying their water, than we spend commuting to and from our jobs each day. One of the main causes of exodus from rural regions is from the intentional destruction of water access points. Rehabilitation of some of these natural resource water sites (wells, ponds or springs) which have either been destroyed or fallen into disrepair is a monumental task. Take the "Tammy Challenge". For the next week, secure your total water supply for cooking, laundry and bathing from anywhere but the pipes in your own home. See what I mean?
The nagging little question of nutrition arises. Checking out the web for the USAID site shows we invested $266.11 million dollars for food aid to the Darfur region in FY2006. Much of the ground in Darfur has lain fallow and will require several seasons of planting and harvesting to begin to sustain the population again. Throw in a few million goats and chickens needed to meet the protein needs of growing boys and girls, and you are beginning to see the picture emerge. See a kid with orange hair in Africa? Protein deficiency. See a skinny kid with a big belly? Worm bundle. They need Vermox. See two million people re-integrating into the region? They will need.....(fill in the blank).
How will women be protected from sexual assault as they move beyond the confines of the camps back to open space regions? Remember, widows and single women without male protection also reside in the camps. And women, make up the bulk of an agrarian labor force in the Sudan. I talked with an American doctor who visited El Fashir. Women recounted to him how they were afraid to collect firewood for fear of rape, such was the lack of civil order in the region.
Assuming the insertion of a large hybrid peace-keeping force to provide an adequate security net for returning refugees, how many soldiers and how many years with boot on the ground will be required to gain success in Darfur? Thirty-five of forty-five years since independence, Darfurians have been embroiled in a civil war.
The World's Most Repressive Regimes:
A Special Report to the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights,
Geneva, 2002 (The Sudan, starting on page 56)
Stiff-Arming of Aid Workers in the Sudan
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:30 AM
Saturday, May 05, 2007
What people are thinking when speaking of Darfur:
The Compassionate View
But Reality looks at things like this:
Darfur Peace Agreement
A photo may be worth a thousand words, but reality, is not a Kodak moment.
The Monday blog will take a hard look at Darfur. Difficult questions will be asked.
Do your homework.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:28 AM
Friday, May 04, 2007
A couple days ago I nearly cried in public at the local shopping mall. Actually I did cry. But it was that silent sob that squeezes the throat and makes the nose tickle so that the tears are blocked. Seated at the entrance of a furniture store was a middle-aged man in a wheelchair. As a nurse, I was able to look at his posture and frame and immediately knew he had spina bifida. He was making balloon animals, like the kind we buy our kids at a local carnival. Putting them on wands, he sold them to the passing crowd for a couple of bucks. Three hours later I saw him as he whizzed by in his little sports wheelchair heading out the door.
Do you see these people? Do they impact your life beyond making a mental note that they are in a wheelchair? Because for many, while the wheelchair has the "Quickie" label on the back and top left of the seat back, much of their life is lived in the slow lane.
My brother with cerebral palsy is a little man. In college I would iron his pants and the legs were shorter than the sleeves on my blouses. If we could put him on a stretching rack he would be maybe 4'10'' tall. He has tested out as a genius and has a four year college degree. But he has had "balloon jobs" all his life.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 actually harmed people like my brother. The spirit of the law, gave way to abuse of the letter of the law by many dysfunctional whackos who were lazy, unproductive and lawsuit happy idiots. Individuals with "perfume allergies" sued employers, people on anti-depressants and drugs for manic depression also took the bait and sued the boss for their disabilities. People with back injuries who could still manage a week of camping or sailing but could not lift a five pound box on the job were now able to crow, "You can't fire me for other valid reasons because of my injury." An injury, could trump incompetence, laziness, irresponsibility, etc. when it came to firing an employee with poor job performance.
The bad taste left in the mouth of employers from frivolous lawsuits now makes it very difficult for qualified applicants to compete in the job market if they are in a wheelchair. While everyone fondly remembers Christopher Reeve and his inspirational life after sustaining his spinal cord injury, his life was not the normal one as experienced by most wheelchair-bound individuals. He had name recognition, financial assets, an accessible modified home and a state of the art gym with a physical therapy team to work his joints. Many in wheelchairs struggle to manage in homes that are barely accessible. They have a will to work, but no offer of a job. It is life in the slow lane, and not always by choice or lack of qualifications.
If you have employment capabilities and a resume comes across you desk which says "ambulates in a wheelchair" do not delete the thing from your mail. Let the individual interview for the job. Look them in the eye and give them respect. Give them a chance to compete. Don't hire them if you don't think they can do the work. That is o.k. But if they are blowing up balloons at the mall to earn a little cash, please remember: it could be you.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:44 AM
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Rumor on the street is that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, leader of al-Qaedah in Iraq was killed in a gun battle north of Baghdad. There are still people who think Osama bin Ladin has been marginalized. Their reptilian-sized intellect theorizes, "Hey, the guy is living in a cave. What harm can he do?" Like a lizard scampering across a field, there is no active thought process that the organization of Osama bin Ladin is a bird of prey which resides not in caves, but along the skyline. Al-Qaedah is reconstituted and on the move globally.
Gone are the days of low-tech offerings such as al-Battar, the training manual for the uninitiated of the flock. I recall issue number 9 as a rather boring piece of work with surveillance techniques and how to pull off the perfect kidnapping. Issue number 13 ramped up to weapons training, with some decent drawings of assorted kill toys. One of them (can't recall the issue) lashed out against "cross-worshippers" and threw in a poem about martyrdom.
Then we had the churned out videos from as-Sahab, the media production arm for Osama bin Ladin. Those guys are actually pretty good at what they produce. In a post 9/11 environment they churned out "The Wills of the New York and Washington Martyrs" followed by "The Nineteen Martyrs", a nice little 2002 video; a commemorative anniversary edition of sorts, which shows a martrydom message from one of the 9/11 hijackers, Osama bin Ladin giving his little chat and then his own cut-from-the-cloth adolescent son bursting forth in eloquence with a small piece of poetry.
But the bird of prey no longer resides in a cave. There is no need for dinner around the communal bowl, scooping food from the edges with two fingers, as was the habit of Prophet Muhammad. No need for the assembled warriors to pull out the qiblah compass and face Makkah for the five daily prayers as done in the days of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Not even much need to train together along the hills and crags. The bird of prey is on the internet, has a better courier system than the smartest drug cartel "jefe" and communicates by means which can be hard to detect.
Messages move in and out of e mail drafts folders never to be sent, but retrieved and returned to the folder by interested parties. Arabic text translation from al-Qaedah and affiliate sites can be difficult unless the reader is an expert in both language translation and historical applicability. One word, can have another meaning, in historical context.
Several years ago there was a bit of worry that terror operatives were seeking nuclear assets and expertise from Pakistani scientists. And just a few days ago JTAC (Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, London) came across information that al-Qaedah has a little nuclear surprise being planned for Europe; their own version of "shock and awe". Meanwhile, The Telegraph also reports dismal news that sensitive jobs in strategic industries have possibly been compromised by employees who have been recruited after already in employment, thus circumventing the strict vetting procedures for certain positions.
The West alone must not quake but also the East. The Interior Minister of Pakistan released a security alert through the National Crisis Management Cell to notify certain men that they have the distinct honor of being on an assassination hit list for terrorists. The intelligence community is approaching cabinet-level ministers and advising them of threats.
The Bird of Prey is not nesting in a cave. It is in flight with nests across the globe, linked by global communications, a strong operational security net of its own and men who believe in their mission.
The following link and context will be understood by the Muslim readership: at-Taubah means "The Repentance" and this ayat (verse) was revealed after the death of Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salool, who was known as the leader of the hypocrites.
At-Taubah 84: Click to listen on Real Player
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:10 AM
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
One would think that a third generation newspaperman would be used to the pithy quote that completely misrepresents what was actually intended. One would be wrong. I am sick and tired of the crap that passes for reporting in this country. With a handful of exceptions, the Washington press corps is composed of dolts who can only exist if spoon-fed the administration line, undercover flaks who are so afraid of losing their spot at the trough that they are don't even think twice about betraying their trust to the American people. No wonder Stephen Colbert calls them stenographers.
Recently, David Broder, the putative dean of the
“Yesterday, I met with President Bush to express the will of the American people, senior military officials and a bipartisan majority of Congress that we must change course in
“Conditions in Iraq get worse by the day, and now we find ourselves policing another country’s civil war."
“We are less secure from the many threats to our national security than we were when the war began."
“And as long as we follow the President’s path in
“No one wants us to succeed in the Middle East more than I do. Our brave men and women overseas have passed every test with flying colors. They have earned their pride and praise, more importantly, they deserve a strategy worthy of their sacrifice.”
Get it right you lazy bastards.
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:37 AM