We will move into psychological profile on the next blog using Sheikh Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's interview as the springboard for thought.
This link is your reading assignment.
Read the link and look for the following themes:
Cause and Effect
We will attempt to determine what "bombs" in the intellect to produce message traffic in the brain which then converts to an overt message of violence against the general populace.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
We will move into psychological profile on the next blog using Sheikh Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's interview as the springboard for thought.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:39 PM
Last night was mother-son night at the movies. We went to see "Live Free or Die Hard" which is the fourth movie of the "Die Hard" series with actor Bruce Willis. It was not a disappointment and in fact, I thought it was a great bit of escapism. The protaganist finds himself matching wits with a cyber terrorist who has a large chip on his shoulder. This man finds that the best way to nurse his resentment is to shaft the government while providing a trickle down effect to the little man on the street. Killing does not bother him. He is only bothered with the remaining living.
What goes through the mind of a person who spends a day packing a vehicle with nails, fuel source accelerants, a timer, and then parks it on a busy London thoroughfare? What goes through their mind as they purchase cell phones to detonate their sophisticated IED? Shall we move into the world of profiling next week? Just what makes these guys ticked off enough to make the bomb tick? Why is violence their message board?
If I can finish my current book, it will make review on the page this week too. Work is rough these days. sigh The acuity level of the hospitalized clientele and my call schedule are messing up my Circadian body rhythms and screwing with my reading schedule. All who earn a paycheck, understand these crunch seasons of a job.
Readership ends out the month with a bit over 77 percent as returning readership. I could be clever and say that with Tom Gordon, Bob and myself, that makes up 75 percent and a big thank you to the remaining 25 percent. smile In actuality, overseas readers still ping on the page and east coast readership still outweighs west coast. Dallas readership growing, and the Mid-West must not care. Hardly a soul from there. The land of "Crocodile Dundee" brought a reader with the post on PM John Howard last week. Anyway, we appreciate the loyalty of the current readership and it gives us joy to sharpen our thoughts with you.
Posted by tammyswofford at 3:52 AM
Friday, June 29, 2007
Compared to the “Road to Nowhere” pols who infest the Congress, William Proxmire was a paragon without peer.
In 32 years in the Senate, he never took a dollar from lobbyists or special interests, and in his last two campaigns, not even from campaign supporters. From 1957, when he won an upset by election in Republican Wisconsin to replace the deceased Joseph McCarthy, until he stepped down in 1988, the American taxpayer had no stauncher friend and ally. Contrary to today’s tax hawks who merely want someone else to pick up the tab for irresponsible spending, Proxmire insisted that the people paying the bills got their money’s worth. He started with his performance in the Senate. Proxmire still holds the record for casting consecutive roll call votes, between April 20, 1966 and October 18, 1988 he cast 10,252.
His weekly “Golden Fleece” award ceremonies were avidly looked forward to by people who appreciated the absurd. His first barb was shot at the National Science Foundation for spending $84,000 in taxpayer money to find out why people fall in love. He also gigged the Federal Aviation Administration for spending $57,800 to study the measurements of 432 stewardesses, with special attention to “the length of their buttocks,” and how their knees were arranged when seated. Proxmire also could not understand why the Justice Department needed to spend $27,000 to find out why prisoners wanted to get out of jail.
Not all his targets deserved his sarcastic attacks. The Aspen Movie Map and SETI were among those that did prove worthy of public support. Proxmire apologized to programs he skewered in error.
When it will cost about $ billion to mount a successful presidential campaign and even unopposed candidates for Congress figure on spending millions, what sets Proxmire apart is his approach to campaigning. He spent less than $200 for each of his last two campaigns. The money came out of his pocket and most of it went for postage to send unsolicited campaign contributions back. A Proxmire campaign consisted of going where people were, sticking out his hand and saying, “Hello, I’m Bill Proxmire.” No negatives. No astronomical media buys.
As far as I am concerned, anyone who needs to spend millions to get elected shouldn’t be in office. He or she clearly lacks imagination, is lazy, and is inclined to throw my money at any problem that comes along.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:16 AM
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Take a little time management inventory next week. Keep a log of the exact amount of minutes and seconds you spend watching something sent into your e mail as a "YouTube" viewing. Run a second column. How much time did you spend reading a book? Not the daily newspaper or the furtive glance at People Magazine in the grocery line. What is your investment in reading something which contains binding and an ISBN?
This week I am reading a book which will make the page of the blog in a review next week. It is sheer undiluted pleasure. Later this week, a more scholarly book offering from a publicist will find its way to Tom Gordon and I via the mail. We will both be reading, and one of us will bring the review to the page. Mr. Gordon is the more voracious reader, but I can attest to my own shelf by the computer, lined with books from 500-700 pages which have been read from cover to cover. I do not loan these books because the margins also contain my own penned thoughts.
Should you see me in public chances are high there will be a book either on the seat of my car or carried alongside my purse. Reading is a discipline. And with such a busy lifestyle, my reading is usually late at night or in stolen moments of time while awaiting the arrival of a friend for a bit of networking at a local restaurant.
But I am concerned about the dumbing down of the population and the waste of time on YouTube. In all honesty, most YouTube things which come into my e mail now are merely glanced at and deleted. If it is over five minutes in length, it will probably hit the delete file immediately. Because while cats playing with dogs, cell phone employees singing opera, "Press one for English", and the latest patriotic-themed YouTube about our troops in Iraq make me feel good, they do absolutely nothing for my lazy brain. These "warm fuzzies" are as nourishing as over-rated power water drinks.
Here is the challenge. I have issued this challenge before. When is the last time you read a book? O.K. Let's raise the bar. When is the last time you read a book that was distinctly in opposition to your own view? If you are Republican have you read a book written by a Democrat? Ouch! That hurts. Let's raise the bar one more time. When is the last time you read a book that was not motivational, self-help or pop culture? Will you believe me if I state that I have read books from cover to cover, just to search for that one nugget of truth? That is the way we should read. We should not be too native, we must be willing to leave the reservation, and read to completion things with which we do not necessarily agree or which in fact, make us furious. That is how we learn!
Yes, a small dose of YouTube is not necessarily bad. But if that is how you process a world view or form a political opinion, you are an intellectual midget. And to all of the readers who send me YouTube..... don't be angry! I receive many of them, I view some of them. But more and more, they are deleted. But let me know what book you are reading these days. And let Tom Gordon and I know what you are thinking, what is important to you. We are happy to cover it on the blog.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:07 AM
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The autopsy report on Seung-Hui Cho, mass murderer, has been released. Medical testing showed that there was no trace of prescription drugs or toxic substances in his system the day he became a mulching machine of human flesh on the campus of Virginia Tech. Reading the report, a bit of queasiness came into my stomach. At first, I wasn't quite sure of what I was feeling. But then, I felt his breath on my neck. He was dead. But I knew! What he represented was still living, breathing, a force with which humanity reckons from time to time.
The most toxic substance known to man is one which cannot be replicated or detected in the lab. It cannot be bottled and sold. There is no cure, but it disguises its addictiveness in several generic forms: cynicism, anger and malice are of the same psychological composition. And the toxic compound for which there is no cure is Hate.
Seung-Hui Cho has now been dissected into a hundred little pieces, smeared onto small little slides and had his own tissue samples stored in fixative. The medical examiner is the great equalizer when it comes to the dead. But the toxicity of his hate, will ripple into the land of the living for years to come.
After I read the link in the blog I went and splashed some water on my face. I looked in the mirror. My eyes are blue, hair is brown and complexion olive. Does someone hate me for these traits? Moving to my closet I saw an abundance of clothing. My weakness is sandals. Too many pairs and I love them all. Throw in as many bottles of nail polish as sandals and it moves to indulgence. Does someone hate me for my closet? Passing into the front yard I felt nature's carpet under my feet and wiggled my toes into the verdant softness. I watched as the sparrows continued building their nest in a little house out front and squirrels frolicked in the yard. A short distance away a small pond hosts peaceful ducks and mean-spirited geese. Does someone hate me for these small blessings of nature?
Seung-Hui Cho hated the Virginia Tech students for some of the things which put a smile on my own face. He nursed a grudge, coddled his hate and fed the emotion. The emotion then overtook his psyche and devoured him. Diagram it how it suits you. As far as I am concerned the toxicology report is in. And in the end, it was toxic hate which pulled the trigger.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:30 AM
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I have spent a considerable amount of bandwidth talking about things of which I do not approve. It would no doubt be instructive if I were to describe that standard by which I measure all people.
That standard is embodied by Edward Livingston. Don’t worry if you never heard of him, not many have. Livingston was of the Livingston’s of Duchess Country, New York, a family that for almost 400 years has defined class. A family with so much class that they make the Bushes look like a bunch of Columbus, Ohio, scrap metal peddlers.
Edward Livingston, a younger son, left the family estates along the Hudson to make his way in politics in New York City. He opposed Jay’s Treaty, primarily because Washington refused to disclose the negotiations. He also opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts. In 1801, while serving as District Attorney, Livingston was appointed mayor of New York. He handled both jobs acceptably until a Yellow Fever epidemic in 1803. While working to keep the disease from spreading, Livingston caught it. While he was ill, his confidential clerk lost a good deal of public money.
Livingston immediately turned all his property over to the state and resigned from his positions of mayor and district attorney. He did not blather about accepting responsibility but not the blame. He certainly did not throw himself on the mercy of the citizenry. He took responsibility. He hired the clerk and was therefore responsible for the man’s actions, even if he was delirious with fever at the time.
When Livingston recovered, he moved to Louisiana, where he built a large law firm and, in 1826, completely reimbursed the City of New York, not just for the money lost, but the accrued interest as well. By that time, the accrued interest exceeded the original amount lost.
That is the standard to which I hold all people. I see no reason to accept less.
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:02 AM
Monday, June 25, 2007
Social engineering will never produce a utopian society. My belief in original sin and the need for redemption are contrary to the simplistic optimism of those who would seek to craft a perfected social order through the theory and mechanics of government. That being said, I am not an anarchist. And I do believe that government retains the right to somewhat sculpt the population they serve. Attempts to wash off a bit of the dirt of humanity with good laws and ordinances which promote societal health give us better communities and places to raise our children.
Penal codes, exist for the few who prefer to wallow in the cesspools of deviant and criminal behavior. These are the people who behave as well as the delinquent pooch who runs outside to take a roll in the crap, two minutes after having received a bath and nice towel-drying by the master. (Yes, we own that particular dog.) I support speedy trials and swift punishment for violent crime.
I am also a solid advocate for increasing the level of accountability for welfare recipients in how they allocate financial aid which is given to them. Yes, I support assistance for the destitute, those who have suffered catastrophic illness, and help for families when the breadwinner has lost a job and is having a difficult time finding reentry into the ranks of the employed. But since these individuals are receiving the tax dollars from the productive and consistently employed members of the community, the minimal requirement in return should be a lifestyle which is not reckless and vice-ridden.
Enter John "The Hammerhead" Howard onto the national political stage of Australia. Noting that the native population of Aborigines has out-of-control alcoholism, rampant viewership of hard-core pornography and an alarmingly high rate of child sexual assault, he has announced drastic changes which will be instituted for this particular demographic. The Aborigines are highly maintained by government subsidy and monthly welfare payments. Prohibiting alcohol is a good start. Any idiot knows that children under the same roof with drunken adults are highly vulnerable to sexual assault. Cutting off access to hard-core porn is not something that should even require debate, unless of course, your credit card is at the max because of your own nasty little viewing habit.
Can I apply for citizenship status to Australia now? It appears that Prime Minister John Howard has a pretty good hand for population sculpting, from following some of the recent decisions passed down by his administration. Australia is going to be better off for his solid and practical leadership. I applaud his courage. A bit of shark-like vigilance for the public good is not "paternalism" but sound government policy.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:31 AM
Friday, June 22, 2007
Call it what you want. McKinney ISD is going to spend approximately $50,000 a year for protection. Now from what, might you ask, does the school system need protection? Has the Mafia moved into the neighborhood? Well, not exactly. But from the nastiness that spewed from both the McKinney and the Carroll independent school districts the previous fiscal year, the money which McKinney is going to spend for protection, will save them from a cluster migraine headache next year.
Cheerleaders! Yep, being a cheerleader in Texas public schools is right up there with being the football quarterback. And from the murder-for-hire plot a few years back by a Texas mother who wanted a slot on the cheerleading squad for her daughter, to the parent-initiated fiascos in our two local school districts recently, Texans should hang their heads in shame.
So McKinney ISD will hire a Cheerleader Chief. This will be the "enforcer" to keep parents from bullying coaches, threatening lawsuits, sending nasty e-mails and running perfectly good coaches out of town on the rail. The intimidation and threats from these parents against coaches in the schools, their childishness and lack of reasonable behavior have forced McKinney to seek protection. That shield, will cost taxpayers an unnecessary hunk of cash.
Why are Texans behaving in such raunchy and raucous manner? Whether it is lawsuits to distribute candy canes with the name Jesus on them at Christmas*, or parents of a whacked out transgender son who wants to wear a dress and bring sexual confusion to the other students, again and again, schools are forced to pay for protection. Call it what you want. But legal fees are climbing for local school districts. New jobs that duplicate efforts and waste funds abound. And all of this is happening, because of out of control parents. Surly parents, are the new suburban Mafia on the street when it comes to our public schools.
*Overall, I am not an advocate of "children's rights" in the school environment. I believe that children are tasked with a character-forming job while at school. It is their job to learn rules of society, engage polite behavior. They are to learn to respect the broad rules and guidelines of behavior set forth by the local school board. And within areas which provide necessary constraint of behavior, they need to learn restraint. Maybe some of the McKinney parents involved in the cheerleading dust-up need to reflect on their actions and the financial cost to the district because of their own immaturity?
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:02 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2007
"....As sown corn that sendeth forth its shoot and strengtheneth it and riseth firm upon its stalk, delighting the sowers...." Al-Fath 29 (translation by Pickthal)
Gaza has a problem. The Muslim community must see the bigger problem. That problem is the leadership grid of Hamas. The above, taken from the Qur'an is specific instruction to leadership in the Muslim community. It was written to men well-seasoned in both diplomacy and war. It is a "how to" of community strength. Here is the imperative command, guys. Engage, that which strengthens the stalk. Because when the stalk of government has rot, societal famine is the outcome.
Hamas has been busy tapping political opponents in the head, shoving men off balconies to their deaths and looting the homes of Fatah party members in Gaza as families flee an onslaught of political vengeance. And just as blight causes weakened corn stalks to collapse, what is left within the bundle of the living in Gaza, will not be a strength of community which brings health to the Muslim families. Political anarchy and societal health are not analogous.
In the world of Hamas, laying down ones life for a brother is surpassed by the need for an insular victory in the arena of political supremacy. The good of the brotherhood is secondary to the good of the political organ. This is jurisprudential blight.
Governance by the gun becomes superior to governance through intellect. Governance with a ski mask and an AK-47 preferable to governance extending from micro shoots of good management to macro stalks of growth and national harvest.
So as Palestinians move to the streets in Gaza, government crumbles. Each physical assassination further kills hope. Every looted home is merely a picture frame as to the greater clutter that has been created by Hamas. And while nations having already mastered how to govern scurry about wondering what to do about Gaza, the unfolding destabilization continues. The wise know that an infusion of financial assistance, lifting of embargo and other quick fixes will not provide the long-term solutions which are needed in Gaza. Yet I strongly support the quick fix solutions to halt the hemorrhagic political crisis. Legitimate leadership must be restored. But the future of the Palestinians appears blighted. And hope, is in short supply.
Posted by tammyswofford at 8:14 AM
Muhammadun rasoolu Allahi waallatheenamaAAahu ashiddao AAala alkuffari ruhamaobaynahum tarahum rukkaAAan sujjadan yabtaghoona fadlanmina Allahi waridwanan seemahum feewujoohihim min athari alssujoodi thalika mathaluhumfee alttawrati wamathaluhum fee al-injeelikazarAAin akhraja shat-ahu faazarahu faistaghlathafaistawa AAala sooqihi yuAAjibu alzzurraAAaliyagheetha bihimu alkuffara waAAada Allahuallatheena amanoo waAAamiloo alssalihatiminhum maghfiratan waajran AAatheeman
Posted by tammyswofford at 1:51 AM
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
My parents produced six offspring. We are remarkably different in looks and talents yet there are still the subtle nuances of being cut from the same genetic cloth. Along the way, all of us have given distinct joys and challenges to our parents. Dad and Mom now smile. They watch us leap the hurdles with our own generation of "surprise packages". Dispensing both sage advice and humor they extend a helping hand when we need it most. None of us have ever climbed the ladder of succcess, attaining the vantage point of national recognition. We all play musical instruments but the Boston Pops has not called us. All of us are multi-lingual and one of my brothers speaks and reads four languages with fluency. Three of us have college degrees. All are married and have children. But how would our family tree look if Dad and Mom had picked us from a genetic gift registry?
Have we stopped to consider the psychological impact on families as procreation moves from a hidden-from-view process in the womb to a shopping spree of genetic material taken "off the shelf" by the educated and well-to-do? And why do we feel such self-disgust to look in the mirror and want an "upgrade" for our children? Is it not enough to provide an upgrade in sound character, educational opportunities, but also to extend the important gift of struggle to our offspring? Whether a child struggles with a nose which is too big or a brain which is not equipped for chemistry, allowing our children to struggle against the odds is our gift to them.
What does it say about our outlook on life when we look at our mate and are ungrateful for the gift which they also present in their humanity, warts and all? Hey, I will sleep with you and bear your child, Charlie. But by the way: if your I.Q. were a few points higher, you were a bit taller and your eyes were blue instead of grey, our kid could have a better shot at life.
I remember being told, "Marry someone you don't mind having on your pillow when you wake up in the morning." It was good advice. We should look at the one we love and think, "I would like to make a baby with that person. And the baby will look like us." But today, approximately forty percent of couples not only find genetic engineering appealing, but would use it to upgrade their offspring if readily available and affordable. And how long before "we" no longer need "us" to make "them"?
My parents looked at each other and played the odds. They rolled the genetic dice six times. Four boys and two girls. I like to think that they are fairly happy with the results. smile
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:58 AM
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Is it any wonder we are a pariah nation and our president is only accorded respect in Albania?
In the current issue of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh, quoting General Antonio Taguba, the officer ordered to investigate only the MPs at Abu Ghraib, says that not only Donald Rumsfeld, but George W. Bush himself had to know what we were doing to prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other locations throughout the world.
Before some numb nut comments, as a member of House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee did, that “Abu Ghraib was the price of defending democracy,” let’s look at what actually happened at Abu Ghraib.
George W. Bush proclaimed that America does not torture. What does he call this? A naked father and son were forced to simulate a sexual act. A naked male prisoner was handcuffed to the floor while an American serviceman shoved foreign objects into his rectum. A female prisoner was video taped being sodomized by an American serviceman. There is much more, but if that doesn’t make you proud to be an American, even more won’t.
The truly disgusting thing about all this is that the American people haven’t risen in outrage and demanded the heads of all responsible, no matter how high up the chain of command we have to go. I am furious. Those responsible ought to be racked, drawn, quartered and left for the crows. They have done more damage to this country than 100 9/11s.
The “few bad apples” defense offered by then Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is laughable on its face. In order for things to get as bad as they were, and probably still are, there would have had to be absolutely no supervision whatsoever, a “Lord of the Flies” situation. Taguba does say that the MPs were, “poorly led, not trained, and had not been given any standard operating procedures on how they should guard detainees,” he also says they could not have come up with the disgusting stuff they did on their own.
When Joseph Darby gave the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division a CD full of pictures of prisoners being abused, on January 13, 2004, the Army and the Pentagon tried to sweep the mess under the rug. An investigation was not started until CBS and the New York Times published some of the least offensive pictures on the CD. When Maj. Gen. Taguba was given his orders, he was told to restrict his inquiry to the MP detachment, even though the MPs were taking orders from the interrogators of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and CIA interrogators.
Taguba has come to believe that General Sanchez, the Army commander in Iraq, and some of the generals assigned to military headquarters in Baghdad knew exactly what was happening.
This interpretation is supported by an investigation into abuse at Camp Nama, a Special Forces detention center at Baghdad airport. In November, 2004, an Army investigation concluded that prisoners who complained of being sodomized and beaten bore wounds consistent with their complaints. Then General Richard Formica conducted another investigation which found that the prisoners had no signs of having been sodomized, and that their other bruises and wounds were nothing more than normal minor bruising, cuts and scrapes. Human Rights Watch issued a report supporting the earlier investigation.
The Army’s and the Pentagon’s determination to cover up and save the senior brass is destroying military discipline, the same way it did in Vietnam. Hersh reports that field commanders are doing whatever they feel like and are paying no attention to their superiors.
This whole thing says more about the cowardice of leaders who believe, obviously based on what they would do, that humiliation and abuse are a deterrent, rather than a goad for revenge. Anybody else would know that injustice begets resolve. Our gross mistreatment of detainees has done more to make enemies than anything else we could have done.
Posted by tammyswofford at 11:29 AM
Monday, June 18, 2007
Daniel Ortega moved from Sandinista guerrilla, to party candidate of the FSLN, and winner of the 1984 presidential election in Nicaragua. He lost re-election bids as the Sandinista candidate in 1990, 1996 and 2001. But in November of 2006 Mr. Ortega moved to the forefront again in a presidential campaign which was a five-party race with Eduardo Montealegre being the nearest contender. On November 7th, Mr. Montealegre conceded the race to Daniel Ortega, with approximately 39 percent of the vote going to the winner. In a race which was highly monitored at the polls and prior to the election turn-out, the people pinned their hopes on a prior Nicaraguan president. On January 10th, 2007 Mr. Ortega again assumed the helm of what is one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, aside from Haiti and possibly Bolivia. Much has happened in the previous two decades since the heady days of "La Revolucion". And the reinvention of Daniel Ortega is merely a reflection of the waning effectiveness of American foreign policy in the Latin American heartlands and the nations south of us which border the Caribbean and Pacific continental shelf.
Within the cadre of foreign head of state and diplomats in attendance at the Omar Torrijos Non-Aligned Nations Plaza for the swearing in ceremony of Mr. Ortega was Hugo Chavez. Earlier in the same day, Mr. Chavez had been sworn into office for his third term as the president of Venezuela. One of his recent claims to fame was his reference to Mr. Bush as "the devil" while delivering his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly. Also in the group of well-wishers were Bolivian President Morales, and Cuban Vice President Jose Machado. In following the installation of a new administration, testing of the political waters is accomplished on several fronts. Observing any early bilateral signatory activity gives a sense of the political tempo and agenda for change of the new governing structure. And it was not the United States, which received a chair at the table for the first round.
Nicaragua became the fourth nation to sign ALBA (the Bolivian Alternative for the Americas, which is a trade agreement between Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela). So much for the CAFTA vote of October 2005. But Mr. Ortega was one of the lawmakers who was in the opposition camp, so no surprise here. Mr. Ortega and Mr. Chavez also signed additional bilateral trade agreements on January 11, 2007. President Chavez has extended an offer of approximately 600 million (U.S) dollars of yearly financial aid to Nicaragua which will dwarf the approximate 300-400 million per year which is received from the international community. As an aside, Nicaraguan nationals send remittances of approximately $500 million per year from the U.S. back to Nicaragua which also props up the local economy.
According to the most recent IMF report (Article IV, Articles of Agreement, which allows for team visits to assess economy and human development) Nicaragua is sustaining a stable macroeconomic environment but reduction of poverty remains a big issue. In 2006 the public sector debt was nearly 200 percent of GDP. Other statistics show that approximately 45 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day and nearly one million school-age children are not enrolled in school.
International petroleum prices have affected inflation and standard of living to say nothing of rampant corruption of previous administrations which keeps foreign investment at bay. Anti-American sentiment remains strong across the region. Daniel Ortega and entourage just loaded onto a loaner jet provided by Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi for a stint of cobblestone democracy to visit with heads of state in Algeria, Libya, Cuba and Iran. The office of the Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khameini makes the following happy announcement in their press release: During the visit of Daniel Ortega with President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khameini, he gives analysis that, "....signs of the collapse of America's unipolar power were emerging and....America is at present isolated among the nations." As I read this I get a mental picture: Smug looks, Mr. Ortega smiling at his astute observation, toasts around the table. But then the second picture crystallizes: Daniel with his hand outstretched. The country mouse off to visit the city mouse.
During the Cold War era there was room at the policy table for only the few, the behemoths of power. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union with concurrent juggernauting political rise of China and Iran, things have drastically changed. Both nations are active "players" on the African continent, and Iran more so, in Central and South America. The smallest and poorest of nations such as Nicaragua, now seek their place of influence in world affairs. They are finding their significance by cobbling together smaller regional alliances to form miniature power blocs of the future as they come under new masters, in a different hemisphere. The political alliance map is being redrawn. Our former friends will be our new enemies.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:37 AM
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Blog readership fidelity is approximately eighty to ninety percent in looking at our statistics from day to day. Yesterday the visitor traffic was at thirty percent, which is unusually high. This past week our English cousins were reading as were enquiring minds in Germany, Poland and India. At home, east coast still outpaces west coast, but Dallas readership continues with solid growth, so our local market base is coming along nicely.
Where will we take our passports next week to view the geopolitical stage? I have a couple things in mind depending on time available for reading. The deteriorating situation in Gaza bears a look as does possibly the visit of Daniel Ortega and entourage to Iran. And what about the tectonic plate movement between the Bush and Putin administrations? There is a wave of political change moving across the world stage that is changing the landscape of how we should view geopolitics. Do you see it? And do you feel the rumble under our feet?
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:33 AM
Friday, June 15, 2007
In the last few days significant milestones have been achieved within the confines of Terminal B, Gate 15 at DFW International Airport. First, Dallas USO branch has been up and running for three years. Visitor number 500,000 also just walked through the door. Let me repeat this in a bit of a different manner, just so it sinks in a bit more. In the three years since the USO has opened their doors at DFW Airport, the center has hosted 500,000 visitors.
Last night my husband and I attended my local MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) general meeting and dinner. During our sharing of news a military spouse presented a need of the DFW USO for the consideration of our group. I would also like to put the need out to the readership today.
One of the services provided allows the capture of a moment in time for the officer or enlisted personnel to connect with their child again. They read a story to their child after picking a book which they believe the youngster will enjoy. The parent is taped, a DVD is made and mailed to the recipient along with the book which the parent chose, especially with the personality and age of their offspring in mind. FedEx then extends a helping hand and provides free shipping. Approximately 450 children a month receive this gift in the mail. Can you imagine the joy for the child, to see again, the parent whom they already miss?
Recently, a young mother wrote the USO. Her eighteen month old child had received the gift of a story read by his father. Daddy died in Iraq a few months later. This DVD is now the memory the child will retain of a father who never came home.
The USO needs new children's books for Daddy's and Mommy's to read to their children before they depart on orders to Afghanistan or Iraq. Books with big pictures, simple or funny stories, books that remind us of how our own parents read to us at bedtime are all appropriate. But we want to give our best. The USO wants books that are brand new, not gently used. smile
Would you please consider contacting the Dallas-Fort Worth USO and giving toward something that supports the well-being of the children of our men and women in uniform? The link is below. And if it gives you greater joy to pick out books and either mail them or drop them off in person as opposed to just writing a check, please do so. There is always joy, in giving. I will be picking out some books myself. God bless the children of our troops.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport USO
LCDR Tammy Swofford
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:16 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Prince Bandar, who is now the secretary general of the Saudi National Security Council, has denied accepting any “improper secret commissions.” A BAE spokesman said everything the company did was done with the approval of the British and the Saudi governments. The company is, however, setting up an independent commission to examine its business practices.
The British Serious Fraud Office had begun to investigate the matter until Tony Blair stopped them because he did not “believe the investigation would have led to anywhere except to the complete wreckage of a vital strategic relationship for our country,” which is certainly not the same thing as saying there were no illegal payments.
According to The Guardian, BAE paid Prince Bandar more than $2 billion. The money was sent to two accounts, to which Prince Bandar had access, at the scandal-ruined Riggs Bank in Washington, DC. One was for the maintenance of the prince’s personal Airbus. The money came from a confidential account that had been set up at the Bank of England to handle BAE’s Saudi deal. Some $4 billion a year were deposited into the account. Both BAE and the Defense Export Services Organization (Deso) had drawing rights on the funds which were in a special Ministry of Defense account run by the paymaster general. Since payments from the Bank of England account required government assent, claims that the government knew nothing of illegal payments could be hard to prove. Tony Blair’s leaving office peerage could be in jeopardy.
These possibilities have come to light at just the wrong moment. BAE is attempting to buy American arms maker Armor, but since the U.S. has had the Corrupt Practices Act since 1977, the deal might not be allowed.
Posted by tammyswofford at 12:10 PM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The financial transactions involved in sponsorship of international terrorism can be hard to track. The old adage of not letting the right hand know what the left hand is doing remains the modus operandi of terror financial networks. An intricate labyrinth system is in existence which can be difficult to track. In examination of Islamic organizations, charities and NGO's which are functioning as umbrellas for money laundering, looking at banking transactions or adding the lowly human courier system into the mix, the intelligence “eyes” tracking these things must develop somewhat of a disconjugate gaze in connecting the dots. The “dots” were always there from the beginning, but in a post 9/11 environment there is greater intensity of interest in knowing how the matrix looks and tracking and shutting down money trails.
The most simple of financial transactions is the movement of money via international couriers. A well-known case is that of Abdurahman Alamoudi, a man who was welcomed at the White House by both Clinton and Bush administration senior advisors. He walked within the corridors of power while functioning as a valuable courier of both funds and information. A federal judge assessed a 23 year prison term in the punishment phase of his trial.
The next level of financial money laundering is a world of shadows because of the difficulty in penetrating the organizational facade which hides the "bank". Receiving deposits of funds and issuing withdrawal of monies to fund terror projects can have local "disbursement officers" residing in different countries. This can be a bit harder to track.
An example of how these operations work and the groundwork is laid can be seen by taking a moment to review the case of Mohammed Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Ladin. After running the Muslim World League office in Peshawar, Pakistan he was sent to the Philippines to establish front organizations to support Abu Sayyaf. Partially relying on "zakat" or charitable donations from Muslims, he publicized braggadocio claims of using funds to build thirty orphanages. Islam has strong tenets commanding provision for widows and orphans. In reality, approximately 70 percent of the funds he collected were being used by militants. More specifically, high level terror strategists were receiving financial support as they moved into the final planning stages of the Bojinka Plot. Had this plan come to fruition, there would still be flotsam drifting along in the Pacific from the many bombs placed on trans-oceanic flights to America.
A collateral planning maneuver in the same time frame was to kill the Holy Father of the Catholic Church during his visit to the Philippines. Now I know that using the "C" word is anathema to the P.C. crowd. But "Crusades" is the word that comes to my mind, had this mission been successful. It is one thing to hackle America. Quite another thing, to ponder if a staggering 1.098 billion Catholic adherents in the world wish to take a piece out of the Muslim collective hide for turning the Pope into bomb debris. Throw in a few hundred million Protestants as spectators to this event and I think we would have had a helluva ride. Luckily, the dual plots collapsed after a cache of information was found in an apartment very near the route of the Papal procession in the Philippines. Some of the major players were arrested, the remainder put to immediate flight to live to die another day.
Saudi Arabia has exported the mercantile of violence for many years via "charitable organizations" and from the personal accounts of Saudi families who have benefitted from petro-dollar wealth. This nation has been a big player on the stage along with the nation of Iran. Some charitable organizations do indeed serve up humanitarian relief, build clinics and schools..... but they offer up a side dish of terror sponsorship. Charitable organizations from Saudi Arabia have been found to contain money trails in existence to pay allocations to the families of suicide bombers. Blood money for soldiers of fortune who believe that being a Shaheed is the ticket to punch.
Iran maintains a largely Shi'a population but is somewhat like a "natural enemy" of Saudi Arabia (Sunni predominance) while sharing the same "natural habitat" i.e. aspirations for geopolitical Islamic dominance in the Middle East. The Iranian money trail flows to groups such as Hezbollah in the tens of millions of dollars per annum. Hezbollah functions as a detached Iranian Republican Guard battalion. This has placed Lebanon in a precarious and never-ending cycle of destabilization. As we read what is happening within the Lebanese refugee camps, the fighting that is raging, please understand that most of the poor refugees fleeing with the thaubs, turbans and hijabs on their backs have little idea as to "why" this is happening.
While we have had the assurance of the House of Saud of their alliance with us in the war on terror, and they have cleaned their own nest a bit for reasons of their own national security the snake is still in the pit. Financial integrity is not always forthcoming from some of these organizations and the money continues to flow through subterranean financial pathways.
Iran and her aspirations for nuclear capabilities provide an area of concern for the West. But the continuous need to monitor money trails and shut down financial capabilities will also be a long-term goal. Iran seeks to prop up a Shi'a revivalism and dominance in a region which has long courted Sunni political favor.
The Middle East somewhat evokes the picture of a two-headed political dragon, with the political extremist elements of both Sunni and Shi'a factions in Saudi Arabia and Iran forming the fire-breathing heads. The smoke of the news, is what the West sees on the printed page of media, but hopes not to experience again, on our soil.
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:50 AM
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Thank you, Representative Don Young (R. AK). The representative responsible for the Bridge to Nowhere may have put a nail in the earmarks’ coffin. He may also have done his bit for campaign finance reform.
Alaska’s only congressmen for the past 34 years, Young stuck $10 million into a 2006 transportation bill. The money was for a road that is about as far from Young’s constituents as is possible to be, in Florida.
Florida needs roads just as much, if not more, than Alaska, and Young was, until the Tuesday night massacre last November, chairman of the House Transportation Committee. But, in this case, the people who live in the county scheduled to receive this federal largesse, don’t want it. The only person who does want it is a real estate developer who helped Mr. Young raise $40,000 from Florida real estate developers. The developer, Daniel J. Aronoff, owns as much as 4,000 acres that would be much more valuable with the road.
This presents a pretty problem. The developer cannot expect much direct help from the local congressman. In this case, he is Connie Mack, (R, FL Dist 14). Helping Mr. Aronoff get funding for a road the people of Lea County, FL, don’t want might cost Mr. Mack the election. What is a conscientious public servant to do? Mr. Mack invited Mr. Young to come to his district to see the transportation problems there. Mr. Young came, and had time to stop by a fund raiser to pocket $40,000.
The next thing anyone knew was the 2006 transportation bill had $82 million to expand Interstate 75 and $10 million for an interchange to connect a road to the Interstate. Mr. Mack claims he was surprised to see the appropriations and that he did not ask for the money.
But, when the county commissioners twice voted to refuse the money, Mr. Mack felt compelled to write them to say that if they refused this money, they would have a hard time getting any more federal dollars. Mr.Young also wrote with the same message.
The developer gets his road. The congressmen keep their seats. The only people to lose are the mugs that live there. They shoulda given more money.
Posted by tammyswofford at 8:26 AM
Monday, June 11, 2007
The American Film Institute took a panel of 1,500 film artists and critics to compile a list of the top one hundred movie quotes. Clark Gable uttered the quote which is the title of this blog in the epic Civil War movie, "Gone with the Wind". This quote, was deemed the best movie quote of all time.
So I do think it good to appropriate the quote in handing out my first annual "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" award to a deserving individual. This person, by the merit of her actions will also receive perhaps a small statue, sculpted piece of signed art work, or some small momento to remind her of the respect of the public. I will leave it to readers to post some ideas in the comment section as to the award design. (I can hardly wait!)
So apply your make-up, and strike your aloof pose, Paris Hilton. As the blog crowd claps for you and wolf whistles fill the sky, let's take a moment to remind folks why you deserve such honor. Because while Richard Simmons may be praying for your release from jail, MADD (Mother's Against Drunk Drivers) is probably thrilled that a local judge has the backbone to send your skinny little derriere back into the slammer again, despite the protests of your lawyer.
Ms. Hilton was originally arrested for DUI (drugs and alcohol were on board) and we are all lucky that she didn't kill someone in the process. After getting a small judicial slap and probation she ignored court instruction to attend an alcohol education program. And now having been caught driving with a suspended license we need to ponder: Isn't this the Paris Hilton who can easily afford not only a housekeeper and cook but also a chauffeur?
It really bothers me to see the news swirling around this case. Helicopters from the sky follow the police car with Ms. Hilton being transported back to the courtroom. Paparazzi behave like chimpanzees on parade jumping from the bushes in hot-footed pursuit. We are treated to news of this grown woman screaming hysterically as she is returned to jail. The media pronounces her incarceration as tantamount to a suicide watch because of her delicate psychological condition. I guess she cannot accept responsibility for her actions. But my bigger concern is that this woman cannot function without a crowd around her. A jail cell is not made for idolatrous celebrity worship which feeds a massive ego. But it is well-suited for contemplation. I think Ms. Hilton, has been given a gift. In the quiet of her cell, may she contemplate the destructive behaviors which have brought her to this point in her life.
So frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn! In fact, I don't give a double damn because of the double standard. You can shed your tears and naturally, you are sad. But my eyes are completely dry. Because if Paris Hilton were really "Perry Hilton", a poor black man in Dallas facing the same charges, there would be no story. Perry Hilton would go to jail and reside in a normal cell. There would be no visit from an expensive psychiatrist or a top-tier lawyer. He could manage to slice his wrists with a plastic knife and the on-site infirmary would stitch him up and throw him back onto his bunk under a suicide watch. We would never know his psychological condition or how his incarceration would affect his life on the outside. It would not be a story if he lost his job. Double standard. The rich get a free skate and the poor go to jail. It brings the bile up in the back of my throat.
So let's get the blog design team of readers moving on this and post your ideas for the "award". And if you are losing sleep over Paris Hilton may I gently suggest that a good 3/4 of your brain has already been sucked into the television set. There is no hope for you.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:03 AM
Saturday, June 09, 2007
The last two days have been long for me. Thursday my work day started at 0800 and it was about eleven p.m. before I came home and headed to bed. Yesterday, up at 0430 to write the Friday blog prior to heading to work again and a day that brought me home about nine p.m.
Last night our fifteen year old looked worse than me. Sunburned and tired he had returned yesterday from that teen-age rite of passage, church youth camp. While laying out his memories he told me of boxing, candy fights, paintball and swimming. There is always a "band" to stir the little creatures into frenzies of excitement. They blow off steam singing at the tops of their lungs to forgettable tunes with a repetitive four-note vocal range. This year one of the band members threw himself into the jubilant throng body surfing across the crowd. Several kids followed suit. My son lamented his size. He is a big guy. Children built like oxen are better suited for the tug-of-war the next day.
I awakened with a smile on my face. Body surfing! I think we all need to retain a youthful posture that lets us enjoy life. Our children, help us remember that having fun is a good thing! So I intend to do some body-surfing myself this morning. Driving into Dallas to eat breakfast at a Belgian cafe. Good Italian coffee and outrageously priced chocolate truffles await me. Then a trip to Barnes and Noble to curl up in a chair with a book.
It is the week-end. For those of us who have worked hard, a bit of body surfing is in order. Let me encourage you to loosen up your personality just a bit and find a body surfing activity. Every now and then it is fun to engage a bit of euphoria and be child-like again. And if you can find a friend to join you, double the enjoyment of the moment! smile
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:43 AM
Friday, June 08, 2007
The Elmina slave Castle in Ghana, West Africa was a pretty depressing part of a "cultural day" for Navy personnel taking a break from field operations. As our guide recounted the treatment of the African population at this fort-like enclosure we viewed neck and leg shackles made of iron, stepped into the cells where the slaves were held awaiting transport and finally, the saved-for-last kick in the gut: a visit to "The Door of No Return". Walking in stooped fashion through a stone passageway we found ourselves in a room which was the final staging area for slaves boarding ships to the West. The solitary door through which they passed, would be their last look at Ghana, before being secured in the hold of the ship for the trip to their new masters. Some of these slaves, were African Fulani Muslims who found themselves deposited in what is now known as modern Guyana. In the 1700's the colonies were predominantly Dutch, but there was also a smattering of English and French colonies. Within an area the size of Idaho, with approximately eighty percent of the terrain covered in rain forest, the strong backs of the slaves was required for the management of the plantations.
The British officially abolished their slave trade in the 1830's. A large wave of immigrants from East India soon arrived into the Caribbean corridor as free agent laborers, to work the plantations. Many were Urdu-speaking, low-skilled Hindu and Muslim villagers. A diaspora of approximately 0.25 million of these souls found their way to Guyana from the 1840's to the early decades of the 20th century. There existed somewhat of a live-and-let-live mindset between the two groups for many years. In 1966 Guyana moved from status as a British colony to that of an independent nation. Ideologues seeking political control of the region brought a beginning of stresses between the immigrant groups which were seeking to establish both the cultural soul, national identity and future course of Guyana. Today, approximately one-half of the population of Guyana is of east Indian descent and a bit more than a third are of African descent.
In being transfixed with the Jim Jones cyanide deaths of 1978 in Guyana, Americans missed the bigger story beginning to play out on the international stage. Guyana represents just a microcosm in the world pot of the stew which the House of Saud was beginning to serve up. Petrodollars began to flow steadily into Muslim regions in the 1970's (and more predominantly in the 1980's) to strengthen Salafi-style Da'wah, or teaching. In Guyana, this played out in a clash of generations between the older Muslim population which clung to traditions from the Indian subcontinent and the emerging more youthful generation which came under the shadow of a Sunnification process against anything American or especially with trappings of Christianity. The Muslim orthodoxy peddled into these regions was bolstered by increased diplomatic ties with Arab-speaking nations and the flow of Muslims back and for between the Arabian Peninsula and back into Guyana with their political aspirations in hand. Muslim youth who went abroad to study in Saudi Arabia or possibly Libya or Egypt returned to Guyana dissatisfied with the "status quo" and charted a course for change. As such, Guyana saw the short-lived exuberance of GUMP (Guyanese United Muslim Party) in the 1970's which sprang from the excitement of Islamic revivalism. Although Guyana retains a small Shi'a population, the predominant stream of thought falls under the influence of nations such as Saudi Arabia and Libya.
Guyana represents a cold, hard look at how Islamic Revivalism can affect poor and underdeveloped nations. In nations such as Guyana, Islamic missionaries intentionally propagate a potent combination of jihad and bida' (forbiddance of anything which is "innovation"). Islam is formatted with these two prongs with the end goal of destabilizing existing political structures to establish stronger Islamic jurisprudence . Jihad is the rallying cry for emancipation against the West. It brings the battle to us. Bida' takes the battle to the fellow Muslim who wishes to shed a bit of orthodoxy and assimilate into the West.
The Pew Survey results show that most America Muslims claim to be happy to live and raise their families here. Non-assimilation is much less of an issue than in Europe. That is a good sign. But the downside cannot be ignored. There remains a small but realistically potent undercurrent in existence in our nation. And entering the undercurrent, foreign born Muslims such as Abdel Nur, from Guyana, will continue to seek to do us harm. The Muslim community in America must maintain a watchful footing, within their own midst.
Posted by tammyswofford at 8:25 AM
Here is my best guess. The next terror attack on American soil will be planned by foreign-born Muslims, executed by a composite of foreign and native born American Muslims and financed with laundered money from radicalized Islamic regions. The recent Pew Survey results on American Muslims and their views toward suicide bombing are part of this triad. The arrest of the “Fort Dix Six” halted a planned attack against a military installation. Just this week, Abdel Nur, a Guyanese citizen was detained in Trinidad as one of the members of a cell which was in the planning stages for a fuel pipeline sabotage at JFK International Airport. Throw in the story from last week of Andrew Speaker, an American who waltzed across our border from Canada with a flagged file, and things look even more interesting. Aren’t we glad it wasn’t smallpox? All of these recent events point to an emerging public picture of our global vulnerabilities. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” we sustain another attack.
I had lunch on Wednesday with a former editor of the Dallas Morning News. We pondered how the media has blamed Mr. Bush for global warming, "failed strategies" that have caused terrorism, Katrina response, and a laundry list of other geopolitical issues which were in existence long before our current president formed his administration. Opening the restaurant menu, I immediately proclaimed President Bush to blame for the high carb/fat meal that I was ordering. The nerve of that man, to let restaurants offer pictures of big burgers dripping with onion blossoms and a stack of fries.
We are historically obtuse, if we believe that the events of the last few years have come about within an encapsulated time-line that only hinges on our American foreign policy. I tire of stupid people who blame the Bush Administration for an arc of instability which exists in much of the world. I am becoming increasingly irritated with those who reside within the marketplace of guilt for the societal ills which some governments have brought upon themselves. It is their own corrupted leadership which foments political unrest within the ranks of their underserved citizenry. America, just makes the convenient fall guy. I am sick of the cry that America must take the leadership helm and also bear the financial brunt of world events that demand intervention of a super power. And oh yes! Can that also be done with the national demeanor of a capon? You can’t have it both ways, guys.
The next blog will provide a historical look at Guyana and analysis of threat from this southern neighbor. Guyana is just one of several nations to our south running along the Caribbean corridor that are hotbeds of Islamic radicalism. Events dating back to the early 19th century in these areas have a bearing on the events of today. If you are a reader who is not willing to take a leap back by the decades and centuries to understand current events, this is not the blog for you. The past, casts a greater shadow than we realize. In looking at Guyana as a case history, the shadow will emerge.
A future blog will enter the world of money laundering and international finance of terror operations. All such operations require three key elements: manpower, fire power, and the power of the purse. But next in line, a trip to Guyana where we will travel from the slave ships of Africa, to South Asia, move on to the Arabian Peninsula, take a quick trip to north Africa and back to present day Guyana. So for a high fiber journalistic meal to make up for my indulgence on Wednesday, check out the next blog!
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:38 AM
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I am a registered nurse. I will hold your hand when it is time for you to die. I will do whatever is possible to make you comfortable as you approach the end of your life. But you will die naturally. I will not kill you. My hand will not put the "magic bullet" in your I.V. any more than my hand would swing up with a Glock and shoot you in the head. Either way, respirations cease.
One of the most prolific American mass murderers is out of prison and continuing on his course to introduce Death Arts Legislation into the fabric of our nation. All mentally competent citizens have reason to shudder. Dr. Jack Kevorkian claims to have killed approximately 130 individuals. The complexity of his case fascinates me. A psychological profile of this man would be perfectly suited for the television drama "Criminal Minds" or a made-for-t.v. movie.
I can just see the script. Bodies popping up everywhere. The suspect is a mentally deranged pathologist. The murders involve a medical doctor who has somehow become detached from reality. He prefers looking at little slices of tissue under a microscope than to deal with real people. He is psychologically numbed from enjoying living and pulsing flesh. He has never truly lusted for a woman; women hold neither beauty nor fascination for him. But death, ahhh death, looks unnaturally beautiful to him. It is the haunting mistress he desires to hold. He is fascinated with watching for that last breath. Touching the corpse, a person he has killed, he removes some small momento for safe-keeping. Stepping across the threshold of time he satiates an addictive need. He surpasses the humanity of us all, people whom he actually detests. By killing, he transcends into a realm of omnipotent god. He is Yama, the Hindu God of Death. He is convincing and he is invincible, once he has psychologically netted his already suffering victims. So..... Would you spend an hour or two watching a show with the above imaginary script? And does the world of the "imaginary" also blend into the world of reality for some people? Having done psychiatric nursing I can tell you that there are men who are sexually aroused by simply snatching shoes from a stranger's closet. How do we know that the same scenario isn't true for one who snatches lives? Is dealing in death the biggest kick of all?
The ideology of a mass murderer is an evil which must be blockaded by all legal means. Take away the word "Mercy" and we are left with "Killing". An assisted-suicide is murder. By the nature of the act suicide is a self-perpetration which an individual commits to end their own life. Murder is when another person perpetrates death on an individual. Are we dealing with a humanist full of compassion like Mother Teresa or a sadist in a lab coat who secretly salivates over his task? Do death coctails pumped into human veins give thrills? Is it o.k. to put down humans like we put down our pets? I cried, when our cat had to be injected. I didn't want to be there and my husband had to be the delivery boy to the vet's office. Should we be crying when the same fate is dealt to humans?
Dr. Kevorkian is a mass murderer who is now out of prison and will spend the remaining miserable years of his evil life trying to convince Americans that he has provided a "service" for suffering mankind. He is about as believable as the man who rapes a woman and then wants to know if he was good in bed. This man is good at what he does, with his own mouth attesting to participation in approximately 130 deaths. But should he receive our thanks? And the greater question remains and is one to which only he knows the answer: Does killing people meet an emotional need in his life? The truth can be stranger than fiction.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:42 AM
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Several years ago my niece was gearing up for a senior trip with classmates in her parochial high school. The group planned a trip to the Philippines to visit a missionary compound on the edge of a jungle region. These kids were being fearlessly released by their parents to travel to an area in the world which I knew was a corridor for Abu Sayyaf activity. I pitched a monumental fit with my brother and the trip was cancelled.
Americans have a unique cockiness. We believe the world is our oyster. And in an ignorant state where each high school senior class wishes to seek out the "bigger" tourism adventure than the previous class, parents can be fairly naive. They promote trips to exotic locales with postcard views, but possibly dangerous geopolitical zones of travel. Chaperones can be well-intentioned but novices. Too easily, we entrust our children into the care of others for international travel and send them off without a thought for their safety. We do not consider the possible tragic outcomes should they become ill in regions with limited healthcare availability, or where tourists are targeted for theft.
Phylicia Moore went to Ghana, West Africa with a group of classmates and school chaperones. She came home in a casket. I have been to Ghana. The day before the advance party of Naval Fleet Hospital Dallas embarked, the ambassador made a unilateral decision to scrap our well-laid plans to move into the "outback" and positioned us closer to the city of Accra. I got the news, on the leg from Chicago to Heathrow from another sailor. Tribal unrest within several kilometers of our intended site had produced a flashpoint of mutilation killings and torching of village homes. It was felt that our safety had possibly been compromised with this sudden turn of events. Such is the nature of travel in Africa and many nations of the world today.
So what things should a parent consider prior to releasing their child into the arena of international travel with a group of school chaperones? Let me just throw out a few thoughts.
*Will your child be staying at hotels with adequate security? The hotel in Accra where Phylicia Moore met her end, looks like a dump. Don't let your child travel on the cheap, when it comes to accomodations.
*If the group is traveling to a non-traditional tourist destination are they traveling only during daylight hours and what is the means of transportation?
*Do any of the chaperones speak the predominant native tongue of the region to which they wish to take your child? The German teacher taking your child to Hamburg is a great idea. The German teacher taking your child to Turkey, is another thing.
*Have you retained a copy of all travel documents, and identification papers which your child will need for their trip?
*Does your child have in their possession and on their person at all times the address and phone number of either the American Embassy or the nearest American consulate? The Marines will come and get them, if they end up in the crosshairs of a flashpoint of civil unrest. We saw the capabilities of the long arm of our government with the assistance provided to Americans in Lebanon during the recent flare-up between Hezbollah and Israel.
*Does the chaperone team have in place a well-defined buddy system and protocol so that no student will ever be alone? In Ghana, I showered with my buddy....went to the bathroom at night with my buddy.... it got pretty cozy, with my buddy. But I came home alive! (Granted, in the field we stayed at a place that had a snake in the toilet, the first time I went to empty my bladder.)
I feel extremely sorry for the family of Phylicia Moore. Still hope Natalee Holloway will be found. But for me, I prefer to invest my child's travel dollars into the economy of the United States of America. There are many beautiful and wonderful places to visit in our own nation. I would hate to lose my child, on the other side of the world.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:08 AM
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
We are trying to fight a war with substandard troops. We tried it in Vietnam for the same reason. The military has lowered standards and is accepting more soldiers with poorer scores on the military aptitude tests and no high school diploma. They have also raised the age of enlistment to the age at which most career enlisted thought of retiring, 42 years of age. We are spending millions on signing, promotion and retention bonuses. We are taking more people with medical problems, and, much to our shame, we are using thousands of “moral waivers” to enlist recruits with records of petty crime or drug offenses. One of those was Steven Green, charged with raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl and killing her family in Mahmudiyah, Iraq.
According to a story by Brigid Schulte in Monday’s Washington Post, there are some in the Pentagon calling for the United States to create an American Foreign Legion filled with foreigners who would sign up on the chance of becoming American citizens if they survive long enough. There are others who think we ought to allow illegal aliens to enlist, again, with an eye to becoming citizens. We already have 40,000 so-called “Green Card soldiers” serving. Of those, 26,000 have been naturalized. It would not be a long step from accepting legal aliens to accepting illegals. Anything to keep the grandchildren of the Greatest Generation from paying their dues.
All this talk of Foreign Legions, recruiting illegals, etc. is nonsense. If the war in Iraq is necessary, then all Americans must fight it, either in uniform, or with increased tax dollars. If it is not necessary, then we should get out of there and start paying reparations to the people to whose country we have laid waste. Anything else is, in the words of General Barry McCaffrey, a one way ticket to the ashbin of history.
Posted by tammyswofford at 11:05 AM
Monday, June 04, 2007
Have you read "In the Line of Fire: A Memoir" by President Pervez Musharraf? It is the latest in my stack of books to receive more than a cursory glance. I recommend its reading and consideration of his thoughts. This man came to the nascent state of (what was then the western horn) of Pakistan as a four year old child. His family and many other Muslim families paid the high cost of pioneering, moving from India to Pakistan to establish a Muslim-majority modern day nation. He arose to become Army Chief, and added collateral duty as Chief of Staff, ending up in the hot seat as the president of Pakistan. This nation is nuclear-capable. It sustains a fairly well-disciplined military and its troop strength is highly ranked. With national self-interest at stake and the rise of extremism within their borders, the approximate one billion dollars a year in allowances from the U.S. government can be seen either as inducement or investment, depending on the individual trajectory of thought regarding global terrorism with regional impact.
While I find the beginning chapters to be somewhat "folksy" and get a bit of a sense that Mr. Musharraf considers himself a one man parade, the text is very readable. And for those who understand a bit regarding the Middle East, the cultural nuances are apparent, interwoven into the pages of the story.
Part Two: Life in the Army, is a section to which military personnel can relate, with "The Potter's Wheel" my favorite chapter in this particular section. He makes some apt observations in speaking of military leadership and his choice of difficult assignments. He stated, "It is better to turn an underperforming group around than to coast along atop an already successful one." This is a man, who worked hard for each successive rank. All who have served know the Biblical adage "Many are called, but few are chosen" applies to military service. smile
My only comment regarding Part Three: The Hijacking Drama, and his ascendency to the presidency is that I consider coup vs. countercoup to somewhat be a chicken-egg discussion at this point, a historical annotation which must now be viewed through the prism of real and hard facts as to whether General Pervez Musharraf has been "good for Pakistan". Since assuming the position as chief of state on June 20th, 2001 many of the things which President Musharraf addresses in the book regarding his reforms and the economic upturn can be corroborated and a few aspects viewed synoptically on this link from the State Department.
Part Five: The War on Terror, allows the reader a perch to view some of the very real accomplishments of the Pakistani military and intelligence sources in assisting our nation with tracking and arresting members of Al-Qaedah. Interestingly, President Musharraf speaks unflinchingly on several occasions regarding the "dark arts of interrogation" and how interrogation of one suspect would close the net on complete and functioning terror cells. I appreciate his candor. President Musharraf has taken the Pakistani troop strength into the federally administrated tribal areas and heavy displacement along an approximately fifteen mile corridor which runs between Afghanistan and Pakistan in search of top al-Qaedah operatives. These areas are culturally locked into a time capsule where the terrain of the mind, matches the harshness of the geographical terrain. Survivalists, all of these people.
Reading this book there is the palpable sense of a memoir written by a man who is a patriot and deeply loves his national soil. Although not quite convincing with his Oberst Wilhelm Klink "I know nothing" improv regarding Pakistan's knowledge of Dr. Khan and his underground nuclear armament shopping depot, I believe the government of Pakistan has provided invaluable assistance to our government in the tracking and capture of some of the most virulent ideologists and planners within the al-Qaedah structure. For that, we owe gratitude.
Please consider reading the memoir of President Pervez Musharraf.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:55 AM
Saturday, June 02, 2007
The shelf life for the story of Andrew Speaker and his virulent tuberculosis is over. Maybe a day or two of mileage, and it will be stale. But why are we missing the bigger story? The border guard had simple instructions when he pulled up the name of Mr. Speaker: *Detain him *Wear a mask *notify health authorities. He refused to do the job for which he is paid, which is the protection of our national borders. Did he accept a bribe? That issue will either be forthcoming or carefully hidden from public view. I prefer that average citizens raise the fist and demand to know the truth of this border transaction.
In a lame mea culpa, his superiors lament the lack of training on such things as tuberculosis. Where is the lack of training in this scenario? Do the border guards need training to read in English? Chain of command was breached, insubordination existed and a man with a flagged file came across the border.
There is another air-borne particle which requires detention of the suspect, wearing a mask, and a blockade of the target from acquiring his own "target acquisition". That would be Anthrax. I know quite a bit about this threat. At this point, the bigger threat might exist within the ranks of slipshod border security.
An official vested with authority to detain does not need to know all of the particular details of the reason the subject is sought as a detainee. It is his job, to intervene and blockade entrance to our nation to anyone who has a flag on their file. It is his job, to follow simple instructions to the letter of the law. This story should not be over.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:12 AM
Friday, June 01, 2007
As long as we are sweeping the public stage, here are three others who should have been given the hook some time ago. Paul “The Player” Wolfowitz, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Andy “Hassle the Ill” Card.
Wolfowitz gives a whole new dimension to the term hubris. Having been forced out of the presidency of the World Bank in a soap opera that would have humiliated a lesser man, Wolfowitz claims he has been vindicated. Essentially, the man spent a lot of other people’s money to buy feminine companionship.
George W. Bush, who either did not want to get involved in a sordid mess, or didn’t think there was anything wrong in using your position to give your girlfriend raises, has followed his usual course, saying, in effect, “if you thought Wolfowitz was bad, wait till you see Zoellick.”
Robert Zoellick’s only credential is his loyalty to a man with a 28% approval rate. His supporters point to Zoellick’s success in negotiating a trade agreement in Doha, Qatar. In fact, the agreement was in shreds before the ink dried. The man also likes nothing better than to demean underlings in public. He takes disagreement as a personal affront. Just the man to restore American prestige abroad, to say nothing of making sure that we continue to pick the World Bank president.
Libby, due to be sentenced next week, is a sort of stand up guy. He did say that Dick Cheney directed him to talk to reporters about Valery Plame, but managed to stop the investigation from getting to the Naval Observatory where Cheney lives. As long as Libby believes Cheney is more important than the law of the land, Judge Reggie B. Walton should give him as much as the law allows.
Former Bush Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, almost got out with his hair. Then came investigations of Alberto Gonzales. The news that Card and Gonzales made a trip to John Ashcroft’s sickbed to get him to take back control of the Justice Department and OK warrantless wire-taps marked a new low in an administration that could already walk under a snake’s belly with a top hat on. It is doubtful that the 20 minute boo fest Card suffered at UMass, Amherst, will have any more effect on him than humiliation has on Wolfowitz.
And finally, I owe China an abject apology. Yes, their adulterated protein powder killed thousands of American cats and dogs, but who do you suppose taught them to put melamine into supposed soy protein? Why us, of course. Tembec BTLSR, Toledo, has been using melamine as binder for to hold feed granules in pellet form. After the Chinese melamine scandal, Uniscope, Johnstown, Colo, tested its ingredients and found melamine. The FDA doesn’t know how long Tembec has been using the industrial toxin, but believes it to have been a long-standing practice. Some of Tembec’s product found its way to China. Why shouldn’t the Chinese do to us what we did to them?
While all this was going on, the Bush administration decided to go to court to try to forbid a beef processing company from testing cows for mad cow disease. That is right. A company wants to protect its customers and the Bush administration doesn’t want them to do so. Why? Because other processors are afraid that if Creekstone Farms Premium Beef tests for mad cow disease, they would be forced to do the same. Of course the fact that American beef cannot be sold in a number of countries because several cases of mad cow disease have been found here hasn’t figured into the Bush administration’s equation. Bon appetit!
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:09 AM