Since leaving office, Bill Clinton has made about $40 million giving speeches. While he has sent most of that $40 million to various charities, including the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation for combating AIDS and world hunger, the Clintons have managed to convert the $12 million debt with which they left the White House into a nest egg worth between $10 and $50 million.
Why is this man drawing a $186,000 pension from us tax payers? We work all our lives and, at the end Social Security pays us something. If we have to work to supplement our less than generous federal pensions, the government reduces our Social Security payments through taxation.
George H.W. Bush, was never in penury, but he is also pulling down at least $100,000 per speech, plus whatever he is making as a shill for the Caryle Group. Bush is not only collecting a presidential allowance, but also a $65,000 per year congressional pension from his, wait for it, four years in Congress.
Between 1977 and 2000, American taxpayers have spent more than $370 million on ex-presidents. That includes pensions, Secret Service protection (estimated cost $24 million/year), travel, office, health insurance, etc.
Presidential “allowances” have had a long and tortured history. In 1912 Andrew Carnegie proposed that he would pay ex presidents $25,000 a year from his own ample pockets. Congress demurred on the grounds that it would be unseemly for ex presidents to be paid by an industrialist with business before the federal government. Congress wrote legislation for an ex-presidents’ fund, but it was not acted upon.
In 1955, alerted to the fact that Harry Truman didn’t have the money to hire an office staff, Congress again took up the idea of a presidential allowance. It was finally passed in 1958 as the Former Presidents Act.
Under the Act as amended, ex-presidents, regardless of how long they serve, get a pension of $186,000 a year. They and their vice presidents also get transition expenses for seven months from the December before they leave office. If Bush had lost the last election, he and Cheney, Kerry and Edwards would have shared $7.7 million, more than $1 million a month, to help them set up housekeeping. The majority of the money would have gone to the incoming president. The Clintons got $1.83 million to get out of town and the Bush got $4.27 million to redo the White House.
Six months after a president leaves office, he starts to draw staff and office allowances. All in all, in FY2007, Gerald Ford was into us for $556,000 including $46,000 for travel, and $105,000 for office rent. As might be expected, Jimmy Carter does things on the cheap. His office rental was only $102,000, but he charged us $82,000 for “other services.” Carter’s total cost was $514,000. George W. H. Bush is charging us $175,000 office rent on offices in Houston and Kenebunkport. His travel cost us $55,000, and he bought $48,000 worth of equipment. Keeping him in the manner to which he is accustomed cost us $748,000 last year.
But, when it comes to living large, there is nobody like William Jefferson Clinton. His Harlem penthouse office is costing us $498,000 a year. The man makes an average of a speech a day, but still has the time to run up $77,000 a year in phone calls. Travel adds another $64,000 to the bill and other services adds $113,000. The total cost for Clinton is $1.16 million.
This is ridiculous. Why are we paying for all this and for the upkeep of their presidential libraries as well? It is time to drastically overhaul the FPA.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Since leaving office, Bill Clinton has made about $40 million giving speeches. While he has sent most of that $40 million to various charities, including the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation for combating AIDS and world hunger, the Clintons have managed to convert the $12 million debt with which they left the White House into a nest egg worth between $10 and $50 million.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
While running errands Saturday I was listening to KLTY (94.9). They played a song called "Does Anybody Hear Her?". It is funny how we can listen to songs and they do not impact us until the song presents its self as the warmth of flesh and blood. I had kind of hummed along with this song for weeks. Suddenly, I was really hearing the words for the first time and remembering a client under my nursing care in the middle of the night recently.
This young lady will be the focus of the blog, given a psuedonym to protect her identity. But the story will be real and unvarnished and will include a word which I do not use in polite conversation. Every now and then I like to remind us of our vulnerability, our humanity, our need for compassion. Think of what it means, to really "hear" what is going on in the life of another human being.
Smiling as always!
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:51 AM
The phone rang at the head of the bed and I struggled in the dark to reach it. When I am "on call" for PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) I sleep lightly. So I was mentally alert as I greeted the nursing supervisor. Pregnant young female in the E.R. going for emergency abdominal surgery. Recalling that my last two ob/gyn cases in the middle of the night had required blood transfusions, I made a mental note to pack a light snack. Slipping into jeans and T-shirt I headed to work.
Michelle wheeled into the PACU about an hour later in pretty good shape. Her pregnancy was still in the "save" column and the worst of her fears were not realized and all involved in her care were grateful. Operating staff and anesthesiologist headed home, and I was left to the task of giving my own nursing care.
Michelle is young and she is far from home. I ask what she does for a living and she tells me she is part of a four member, female, punk rock band. When I ask if she is a musician or a singer she proudly says, "I am a musician." Asking her what she plays, and expecting it to be a guitar or drums she brightly says, "I play a cow bell."
Still processing the information that I have in my care a pregnant female who plays a cow bell for a living, my questions continue. Is she close to the man who has gotten her pregnant? Does he care for her deeply? She tells me they don't live under the same roof but he is in the waiting area outside the PACU.
Transporting her into the hall, I am met by a young and shabbily dressed male. He is clean and he has a smile on his face but the pain in his eyes is unmistakable. Nurses learn to read peoples' faces. One look tells me that life has kicked this kid around. With him is Michelle's roommate, another member of the punk band. She has pink hair and a couple of hooks hanging out of her nose. I am not sure what they do with that type of piercing, but I am well-versed with other body piercings and how they are used for sexual relationships. Nurses see and hear it all and we deal with these things as graciously as possible. This pink-haired young lady has beautiful features. She also has the word "Shit" tattooed on the inside of her lower lip. She showed it to me. Nurses, are trusted with everyone's little secrets, including private viewings of tattoo art located in strange places on the body. Prison tattoo art can be unbelievably detailed. It can also be extremely vulgar. But I have never seen the inside of a lip with a tattoo.
After getting Michelle to her room I checked my watch. It was 1:30 in the morning. But I had one more thing to do. Returning to my locker, I reached into my wallet and pulled out fifteen dollars. Going back to the room I handed the young man the money and told him to buy Michelle a bacon cheeseburger the next day. Several times in PACU she had mentioned craving that one item. Leaning over Michelle I reminded her that she was eating for two now and needed protein and to please gain a little weight. Kissing her cheek, I told her that I loved her.
Yes, she has probably broken her own mother's heart. She has created a hard life for herself because her head is not screwed on straight. But what better time for the path of the strong to intersect with the path of the weak? What better time, to show a little kindness?
Like the song says:
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even know she's going down today?
Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lonely people
Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:10 AM
Monday, February 26, 2007
Secrets give me headaches. I have been part of a wonderful secret for several months, and now have official clearance to talk about "Old Glory", a film short by James McEachin. This news is so early out of the chute, that the webmaster still lacks loading of film clips, but all else is in place. It is a distinct honor to be one of the first in media to review this work.
This is a film which is hauntingly beautiful. The artistry draws its source from the military memory bank and talents of Mr. McEachin. What begins as a distant echo becomes a crescendo, showing an unmistakable and strong passion. The American flag slowly unfurls before our eyes. "Old Glory" is not a "stand up and cheer" type of film. It is a work which brings a silent and solitary tear gliding down the cheek, or a lump in the throat which makes it hard to swallow. This film is about the type of pride which is hard for many of us to express. How much do we love our country? We put our hands over our hearts at the football game and we recite our pledge. Words are never enough. Yet somehow, this film gives us just the right words. Love runs deep in this wonderful film.
The musical score provides lovely accompaniment to the richness of a baritone oration from Mr. McEachin. The cadence of the symphony combined with the strength of message gives a song of courage, of an Eagle in flight. At other times the melody stands alone, evoking a mental picture of a dove, at peace with darkened night. These are the themes of "Old Glory". The spirit of the veteran is at peace with his life and he has returned to the earth, the dwelling place of his ancestors. But there remains one last thing which urges him back, giving full circle to his life. He must unfurl "Old Glory" one last time: for the memory of the fallen, and the future of those who continue to hold the torch of liberty within their hands.
God Bless James McEachin. God Bless America. And please consider purchasing this film. It is a lovely film to view with friends. It caught me by surprise and is now etched upon my heart.
Swofford New Website
LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR, NC
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:51 AM
Friday, February 23, 2007
Tom Gordon put this link in my box a couple days ago. Walter Reed Army Medical Center made the page of the Washington Post with an article regarding some much needed upgrades for facilities housing returning combatants who are in need of extended medical help. Kicking Saddam Hussein's armoured columns out of Kuwait during Gulf I to restore national sovereignty and balance of power, was a conflict which had few deaths and injuries for our own troops. Our medical facilities were adequate to meet the needs of that day day. Operation Enduring Freedom has been a different bird. Because of improvements in body armor we are seeing more combatants in the "save column" but also greater concentrations of returning combatants with catastrophic injuries because of the use of IED's in the theater of operation. Men and women are returning with injuries that require months of rehabilitation to mainstream back into society.
I would like to assure the readership that upgrades, improvements and better plans are being put in place to support our returning wounded. But good news does not sell newspapers, so you have to look to other avenues to see how the military is turning adversity to opportunity. The United States Marine Corps is doing just that, and in their usual fashion, nothing is done half-assed but with much planning prior to action. It should never be calculated that there is a blatant disregard for the medical needs of a returning veteran. Having worked in Navy hospitals flung across the world I can attest to an excellent standard of care. Let me put something on the page from the January 2007 Marine Corps Gazette, the professional journal of U.S. Marines. This is taken from the 2006, 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps "Commandant Planning Guidance".
"Marines take care of their own - period. This enduring pledge between Marines is never more sacred than during time of war. Just as every Marine makes a commitment to the Corps when they earn the title Marine, the Corps makes an enduring commitment to every Marine - an enduring commitment to their family. Therefore our Corps will:
*Continue support to our wounded warriors. Just as we engage enemies on the battlefield, we must be equally aggressive in our support for Marines and Sailors who bear the scars of battle. To all our injured warriors - those Marines who suffer visible wounds and those who bear the less visible wounds of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury - our commitment to you will not falter.
*Stand up a Wounded Warrior Regiment. The mission of the Regiment will be to track and assist wounded Marines and Sailors. With battalion headquarters on both coasts, commanded by post-command officers selected by the Commandant, the Regiment will add discipline and continuity to taking care of our own.
*Ensure our Family and Single Marine Programs have fully transitioned to a wartime footing in order to fulfill the promises made to our families.
*More completely integrate our military, civilian, charitable, and Veterans Affairs programs to better meet the needs of our Marines, our injured Marines , and our families.
*Expand existing safety programs to ensure we are providing all Marines with the tools necessary to safeguard themselves whether deployed or in garrison. New programs should be centered on effective NCO and company grade leadership for, as they are in battle, they are our front line leaders."
James T. Conway
General, U.S. Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps
And in support of my beloved Marines!
LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR, NC
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:41 AM
Thursday, February 22, 2007
If you are snoozing on the front lines, you will miss this story. Sunni insurgents have exploded their third "dirty bomb" using chlorine as the agent of choice since January 28th, with two attacks in the last two days. Time to teach Chem-Bio to the blog crowd to bring the readership up to speed on chlorine, a poor man's terror weapon of choice.
Chlorine is a pulmonary agent along with phosgene, diphosgene and chlorpicrin. But chlorine (CL) was the first chemical warfare agent introduced on a large scale on the modern battlefield, during WW I. It was termed a "Green Cross" agent because the Germans painted green crosses on the shells containing these chemicals.
On April 15, 1915 German military units released approximately 150 tons of chlorine gas from 6000 cylinders near Ypres, Belgium. This attack caused about 800 deaths. But it dealt a tremendous psychological blow to the Allies, which prompted the rapid retreat of a troop strength estimated at 15,000. This event put pressure on scientists to ramp up a workable program for mass production of gas masks.
Combined Arms Exercise: 29 Palms, California:
"Gas, gas, gas!" The call went through the ICU tent. Immediately, I closed my eyes, held my breath without first inhaling, yanked the Velcro off my carrier and placed the gas mask over my face. Eyes still closed, I tightened the straps across my head to make a tight seal. Blowing out with a puff to clear the mask I heard the instructor say "Nine seconds". Breathing a sigh of relief, I realized I had finally managed give my own command performance. Nine seconds, was the allotted time to get the mask on and ready for use. It was hot in the tent and I was already in the remainder of the Level 4 MOPP gear. Using my tongue to flip the drinking straw inside the mask to my lips, I attached the small outer tube to the small hole in the top of my canteen and took a sip of water.
Should the use of weaponized chlorine be a concern on the battlefield? This new development presents concerns on two levels. While low level exposure to chlorine can cause respiratory distress and optic irritation, higher levels can proceed to pulmonary edema and death. High level exposures would certainly require ventilatory support for survival. My guess is a "dirty bomb" containing chlorine set off in a crowded Shiite neighborhood would present an unmanageable medical crisis. More difficult, would be if the airways of small children were effected. Their respiratory systems shut down much more rapidly than those of adults. The higher concern is the long term psychological impact of the introduction of chemical weapons into the civilian population. These types of attacks greatly increase the sense of vulnerability for the populations affected. We are dealing with some pretty evil skunks here, guys.
After the use of the nerve gas Sarin (GB) by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Matsumoto, Japan in 1994, followed by the ramped up attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 our own government moved into play in 1996. The Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Domestic Preparedness Act provided $250 million dollars to bring training to 120 major cities for medical and emergency response to chem-bio agents.
But in Iraq, it is dirty deeds, done dirt cheap. We need to pray.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:00 AM
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Anytime there is a new tactic or troubling trend introduced into a combat theater of operations, it will be front and center on the table for our military to address the newest unfolding threat. I have been following the story of an increasing number of our helicopter crew at risk from ground usage of anti-aircraft weaponry. We should include helicopter crew members in our prayers.
But there is a story that is still a bit under the radar for MSM that is just unfolding and I will address it later tonight on the blog. But for now, off to the mall! Shopping awaits!
Catch the blog later tonight.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:23 PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Everything that this country has stood for is in danger of collapse; all in the name of keeping us safe from terrorists. This is not something that just happened after 9/11. It has been creeping up on us at least since the Anarchist scares of the 1920s, if not before.
What makes the current situation so dangerous is that the hysterics in the administration and the courts are grabbing autocratic powers in the name of keeping us safe. We have all read about renditions, the kidnapping of people and shipping them to places where they will be tortured, and the lies the president has had to tell to try to hide this despicable fact. What we need more than anything else is a non-hysteric and independent judiciary that is not prepared to take the government’s word for anything.
There are, I am sure, shallow thinkers who say, “If it helps make us safe, then it is fine by me.” Such a position depends on a heretofore unknown infallibility on the part of the same people who are afraid of lipstick and skin moisturizers. The same people who think Catherine Stevens, the wife of Alaska Senator, Ted Stevens, is actually, the male folk singer, Cat Stevens. Do you want those morons to have the last word on your freedom and comfort? I certainly don’t.
As to gypping, did you know that companies contracting with the federal government in black operations don’t have to pay patent-holders for the use of their products because that would tip off our enemies as to what we are doing?
Did you know that the U.S. Government is listening to every phone call and reading every e-mail that passes through the wires of the nation’s phone companies? All calls made in the U.S. are routed into special rooms to which only National Security Agency personnel have access. In those rooms, in the phone companies’ buildings are machines like the Narus STA 6400. STA stands for Semantic Traffic Analyzer and it is capable of sifting through huge amounts of data looking for whatever the programmers tell it to look for. Thus, little Amy’s Sunday school project to locate the places mentioned in the Bible rates as much interest as somebody doing research for possible places to bomb.
This project has already by deemed a colossal waste of time and money, but nobody has the nerve to shut it down.
If that isn’t enough, AT&T has a database of nearly every phone call made on its domestic network since 2001. AT&A is allowing the NSA to use the company’s powerful database management software to interrogate that database.
So what you say. Well, to paraphrase a Chris Cooper speech in “Breach” the movie about Robert Hanssen, the FBI spy, “Let’s call in a $35,000 government employee and give him access to information companies would pay millions for.”
To give you an idea of how badly things could go, consider the ultra-helpful and deeply patriotic JetBlue. In 2003, the airline company gave Torch Concepts, a private company working for the army, 5 million passenger itineraries. Torch Concepts gave the army detailed dossiers including the passengers’ Social Security numbers, income information including bank account and credit card information and spending patterns. The project was shut down, but there is no guarantee that this bonanza for identity thieves is not still out there.
Federal prying is not restricted to people who take airplanes. In 2002, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors turned about 2 million names and addresses of people who had taken scuba courses in the previous year to the FBI. That is right, the same Federal Bureau of Incompetence that couldn’t get its act together when field agents wanted to look at a suspicious person’s laptop before 9/11.
There are two court cases that bear on the government’s ability to break the law. The first is US. v Reynolds, a 1953 decision that created the State Secret Privilege, which holds that the government cannot be compelled to tell what happened if doing so would hurt national security. Sounds reasonable, but the facts, which came to light in 2000, tell an entirely different story. In 1948, a B-29 crashed in Georgia killing six of the nine crewmen and three civilian engineers. The civilians’ widows sued to find out why the plane crashed. The Air Force said to explain that would compromise a secret mission and alert the Soviets of a secret project. The Supremes, in a five to four decision, sided with the Air Force. In 2000 the accident reports were declassified and they showed no secret mission. The plane went down because of criminally negligent maintenance. The Air Force invoked the fear of national security to safeguard some pensions at the expense of the widows, who probably could have used the settlement the truth would have produced.
More recently, we have Crater v Lucent in which Lucent got to violate a patent held by Crater in the name of national security. After sending Lucent all its technical data and working with Lucent engineers for more than a year, Lucent decided not to pay Crater a licensing fee for its device. Crater sued and Lucent said it couldn’t give the court any information on how it is using the Crater device because that would tip people off to what it is doing. The court agreed. Crater got screwed in the name of national defense.
Scrotum. Let the sound of it roll off your tongue again. Scrotum. "The word is just so delicious." Such is the defense of Susan Patron, winner of the Newbery Medal for her children's book, "The Higher Power of Lucky", and the use of the word scrotum on the first page.
As the publisher of this book for pre-adolescent children whines about "censorship", decent parents everywhere will refuse to read this book or have it read at school, to their children. The author takes it upon herself to introduce the topic of body parts to elementary school children. Excuse me Ma'am, but I have not invited you into my house to teach my children regarding what is mine to teach, in the manner which I choose! As a lady, I cannot recall that I have ever used the word scrotum in conversation with adults. It has been used in my nursing career, in context with issues of men's health. But far be it from me to let that word past my lips in conversation with you, much less with your children present.
All parents deal with the natural curiosity of their children regarding their own "privates" and those of the opposite sex as they mature. I fondly remember when my oldest son was just a toddler and pointed to an area of his body below the waist and told me, "My tonsil hurts". Trying very hard not to laugh, I calmly explained to him that his tonsillar bed resided at the back of his throat. The correct name for the area of his concern, was a "testicle". Both our sons are old enough now to understand most words associated with genitalia and human sexuality. But I will never take a neighbor's eight year old son by the hand and read him a book with the word "scrotum" in it. Ms. Patron boldly places it on the first page, along with the protagonist wondering, what the word means. Obviously, she wants to make sure that the child then asks, "What is a scrotum?" This is a very deliberate attempt to influence a child. Maybe it is an attempt to dump on children, her own personal hang-ups?
Howsa 'bout "Who is a complete jerk?" I cannot stand it when adults make a power play for my child. And Ms. Patron certainly does not mind using her pen to titillate a child into entering a world of adulthood, long before the need to do so. When we purchase a book for a child which has the honor of the Newbery Medal, we should be able to trust that the book is suitable for a young audience. I hope this author, loses her audience. And I hope the committee which issues the Newbery Medal, regains their senses.
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:04 AM
Monday, February 19, 2007
So..... what did you accomplish this weekend? I read "Tehran Rising: Iran's Challenge to the United States" by Ilan Berman. Just a great book, and as such let me throw out a review to remind us of what I constantly preach. If you are forming your opinions merely based on reading a daily newspaper, you are only peeling back that one layer of the onion. If you only read publications from the West to evaluate global issues, your intellect will take a hit. And if you want to form an opinion which is educated, look for substantiated facts, not merely commentary.
Ilan Berman does an excellent job of bringing a compressed synopsis to the page in a style which retains both a good format and an easy flow. The chapter readings end on page 148. Pages 149-203 are the footnotes! As such, he presents layer upon layers of fact.
Iran's revolutionary fires of the late 1970's produced the modern Islamic Republic of Iran which is still in existence today. Under the guidance of Ayatollah Khomeini and the subsequent shadow government of powerful clerics, Iran has moved into firm strategic play on the stage of the Middle East with a foreign policy of their own which has put them on a collision course with America. Effectively stepping into and manipulating the power vacuum from the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran has steadily rebuilt their military machine, both armaments and manpower, over the last two decades. They have also come into dominant play as influence peddlers and power brokers in Muslim-majority nations.
Whether competing with the West for regional influence in the Caucusus and Central Asia, brokering deals with China, N. Korea and Russia, or seeking ballistic missile technology, Iran has engaged a vigorous expansionist policy which now places its government on the cusp of being the dominant Islamic military force in the Middle East.
Mr. Berman gives hard hitting facts which show both Iran's engagement in destabilization of regions by pursuing aggressive terrorism policies or strengthening of regions supportive of their goals with infusions of intelligence agents, financial inducements, etc. The author also includes what I call "maps for dummies" and also "graphs for dummies", which means that if I can understand them, so can you. They are useful tools.
The first chapter, scared the hell out of me. The remaining chapters, sobered me up. There has been a mixed bag of policy beginning in the Clinton administration and continuing until the current administration. Lack of follow-through policy goals has weakened our hand. The only deficit in the reading is that much has happened, since the book came out in 2005. It must be read with an interface of current information regarding what has transpired in recent months. The last year especially, has proven to be quite interesting with brinkmanship being the near cousin to statesmanship, in the raising of the stakes with Iran.
Part I of the book addresses "The Gathering Threat" and Part II, "Toward an American Response". This second section makes for interesting reading as the author moves more into a commentary style of presentation. For my part, I believe in a policy of engagement with Iran. I will leave it to the readership to play "Guess". Do I support tactical or diplomatic engagement? smile But do consider reading this book. It will give you a better grasp of the dynamics of the last three decades, which now nip on the heels of our current policy analysts as they try to sort out which way to flip the coin.
My thanks to Steven F. in New York for sending me this book. It was a thoughtful gift, Steven.
Posted by tammyswofford at 10:28 AM
Friday, February 16, 2007
The National Religious Broadcasters, an association of professional Christian communicators hosts their annual convention in Orlando, Florida this week. Throw in the news that Tennessee State Representative Stacey Campfield has sponsored a bill for death certificates to be generated for aborted fetuses, and the week will be an exciting one. Pass me an Alka-Seltzer with a twist of lime.
I support the right of all Americans to engage the political process. I support the right of Christians to attempt to influence policy and election outcomes by casting their ballot, working in grassroot power blocs, or running for office. Everyone else does it, including dumb liberals, so why shouldn't we be afforded the same opportunity to look stupid? But what I do not support, is that we generate bad policy, unnecessary new statutes and dumb ideas under the banner of Christianity. That just makes me want to go into evasive maneuvers. Stacey Campfield receives my newly instituted "Policy Midget" award for the month of February. Not quite sure yet what the statue will portray, but all ideas will be carefully considered. smile
I am strongly pro-life. But the effort of Republican Stacey Campfield is a waste of time. There was not any legal acumen involved in this process. Requiring a death certificate to be filed with the state Office of Vital Records is redundant. Abortion statistics are already available to the state of Tennessee. But the thing that steams me the most, is that this political maneuvering by the Christian right has an ideological stench with this particular offering. Women today know that when they walk into an abortion clinic they are taking the life of their unborn. Many women carry the guilt of that event years later. This proposed statute is a grinding-the-nose-in-the-dirt tactic which has no place in Christianity. Making women the target is not the solution. Introducing statutes that release funds for pregnancy support centers, greater awareness and ease of accessing adoption services, and pregnancy educational resources is what we need. Money must be infused into pro-life circles because this battle is all about financial superiority. The political circle with the biggest pot of money continues to blockade our fight. What part of this equation do we not understand?
My Christian community is compassionate. We bring vitality to the political process with our grass roots efforts. We are full of ideas. But at times we can be intellectually challenged, policy midgets. The devil, is always in the details. And the devil is right in our midst, when we shoot ourselves in the foot like this. We need to get the details right. It will be an exciting week for those attending the National Religious Broadcasters convention. Let's hope that it is also a time where the bar will be raised regarding the message which will be given in the coming weeks, regarding America and our societal needs. Great ideas that generate dumb policy have no substantial effect on our nation. Here's raising the glass, to smart Christians.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:53 AM
Thursday, February 15, 2007
The Air Force Academy announced last week they were investigating allegations of cheating on an exam. This involved 28 freshmen, out of a student body of 4,300. The Air Force will do the right thing in disciplining their cheats. Too bad we can't find people of such quality to run our public schools. In Texas, we have teachers who help their students cheat to pass state-mandated exams. We have secretarial staff in DISD who have been charged with credit card abuse not in the tens of dollars, but the hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have senior DISD administrative employees who have job contracts stating they must live within the boundaries of the school district, yet live in housing in outlying areas. And all Dallas citizenry remember DISD Superintendent Yvonne Gonzales, who purchased household furniture with our tax dollars.
We are a nation of cheats. And if you cheat to attain a goal, that makes you lazy too. I have the usual assortment of faults. Ask my husband. But cheating to attain a goal is not one of them! In college, I always tried my best and assumed the grade that came back on a test was clear reflection of my knowledge base and a means of discovering areas that needed improvement. I worked hard in college, keeping a job on the side to pay my bills, and made it through the process without cheating. It can be done. When a college graduate walks into that first post-college interview, they should retain a pride in knowing that their degree was earned the good old fashioned way - with hard work. The employer should also be assured that the professional they are hiring is a good product, not a half-assed, minimally educated college cheat with low productivity potential.
We need to look at our personal identity and standards. This starts in the home, with the guidance of parents toward children. Teach them that cheating is wrong. Make sure they study for exams and are prepared to take their tests. If they do cheat, support the disciplinary process and don't make excuses for a child. Reinforce the consequences at home. And if you are an adult cheat, chances are you will not stop now. I can only hope you will eventually get what is coming to you. The Air Force Academy cadets will get what they deserve. It is about institutional integrity. It is about honor. And it is about respect.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:20 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Why would anyone want to sell what Ralph Blumenthal of the New York Times called “one of the world's most lucrative lotteries?” Surely, even Texas Governor Good Hair knows that $14 billion won’t go far when spread among public education, health insurance for low-income Texans and one of the largest cancer research projects in the nation. California, for instance, has earmarked $20 billion for stem cell research alone. All the current proceeds from the Texas lottery are supposed to be going to education, and no one in the Great State has seen his property taxes decrease or his schools get an infusion of cash.
But, of course, those enterprises won’t get $14 billion. They will receive the return on $14 billion, which could be nothing, or could be some fraction of $14 billion each year. Last year, the lottery put more than $1.029 billion into the Foundation School Fund, that would be a 7% return on a $14 billion investment, so the Foundation School Fund would probably get considerably less than it is now since the pie will be cut in thirds.
This makes as much economic sense as former Governor George W. Bush’s proposal to privatize social security. About the only people that would have made out under Bush’s proposal would have been the stock brokers. And…look what Good Hair’s son, Wavy Hair, has decided to do. He is a broker in training for United Bank of Switzerland (USB).
We all remember USB. They were the kind folks who saved Senator Phil Gramm and his wife, Wendy, from penury when Phil suddenly decided to leave the Senate in mid term and Wendy’s stock from her stint on the board of Enron became worthless. Just before Phill left the Senate, he pushed through a law that lets banks, brokerage houses and insurance companies do each others’ business. USB bought Paine Webber and invited Phil to help head their board of directors.
Phil’s company is now advising Gov. Good Hair on how to sell the lottery. Now, isn’t that just too cozy for words?
I don’t think there is a chance that Gov. Good Hair wants to sell the lottery to help out his old pal Phil, or even to give his boy a job. I suspect that he wants to unload a liability before the stench becomes apparent. The Texas lottery has attracted scandal as assiduously as slime balls are now courting the Anne Nicole millions by claiming to be her daughter’s father.
There really hasn’t been a good scandal at the lottery since Harriet Miers ran the place. First, there was the affair Linares, or rather that fact that the lottery’s executive director, Nora Linares, had a boy friend, Mike Moeller, who had a contract with GTech, the public gambling company that ran the Texas Lottery. Although there was no proof that Linares knew anything about her boy friend’s GTech deal, she was fired and Miers and the other two members of the lottery commission hired Lawrence Littwin, formerly a vice president at Automatic Wagering International, a subsidiary of Control Data, Inc. a GTech competitor. Littwin lasted five months. He was fired when he tried to open the lottery management contract to competitive bidding. He also investigated the GTech contract and tried to get a handle on GTech’s political contributions.
In the meantime, in New Jersey, GTech’s general sales manager, J. David Smith, was on trial for kicking back money to that state’s lottery officials. During that trial, it came out that Texas got a lottery at all thanks to the efforts of a disgraced former Lt. Governor, Ben Barnes by name. Barnes and his partner got a lobbying contract from GTech worth 4% of GTech’s Texas revenues. When the news got out, Barnes dissolved the deal and pocketed $23 million from GTech.
Barne’s value to GTech came from the fact that he got the then Governor into the Texas Air National Guard ahead of thousands of other young men. When that fact came out, Barne’s worth was sharply diminished, but past services were still worth $23 million and whatever he had already collected.
Given that history and a naturally suspicious mind, the answer has to be that Good Hair is bailing. It is a win-win. Good Hair gets to do a favor for his good friend Phil. Phil gets a hefty fee for services, and Wavy Hair finally gets a job. The only people who lose are the folks in Texas, but they never stood a chance anyway.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Let’s try with all our hearts to be fair. Believe, if you can, that Congress is not populated by vermin with which a cockroach would be ashamed to associate. I am sorry cockroaches. I know that yours is an ancient line that will be here long after we humans sink into the earth, but I need something for comparison, and your name just came up.
But, if Congress is composed of honorable man and women who are honestly trying to do their best to preserve the
All I can say is too bad Congress didn’t find its teeth with the USA Patriot Act was up for renewal. Actually no. All Congress had to do was to find its reading glasses, delay the vote and actually read that infamous document before voting for it. That doesn’t seem too much to ask, even of the likes of John Cornyn or Duncan Hunter, two of the dimmer lights in the Congressional cosmos.
Had Congress actually read the Patriot Act before voting for it, the members would have discovered that one of their number had snuck in a provision that allows the Attorney General to appoint federal prosecutors who can then serve until the end of the Bush administration without confirmation by the Senate.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has so far fired seven prosecutors. These include Carol S. Lam in
A particularly choice firing and replacement is that of H.E. “Bud” Cummins III in
The administration, through Gonzales, says that federal prosecutors serve at the pleasure of the president who can dismiss them at will. True enough. However, it used to be that their appointed replacements could only serve for 120 days before having to be confirmed by the Senate.
The role of senatorial confirmation is to mitigate the politicization of the nation’s law enforcement arm. This is a system that has worked for more than 200 years. There is no reason to change it, especially to a system in which the person making the appointments believes the President can do anything he wants to, as Gonzales told an incredulous Senate committee.
Gonzales has promised that all his appointees will be put forward for confirmation, but, so far, he has neglected to do so.
This mess never would have happened in Congress, and that means both sides, had bothered to do its duty an actually read the bill before voting for it.
Posted by tammyswofford at 1:32 PM
Friday, February 09, 2007
One of my weekly escapism excursions of low impact and cost is to the local Barnes and Noble to drink a cup of coffee and read magazines with useless gossip. Yes, I admit it. I lose brain cells reading "People" every week. I just love seeing people who create a spotlight so that they can dance in it! Some of these women spend more on one dress than I spend for a year of groceries. Sculpted people, like Brad and Angelina, make out-of-wedlock pregnancy look so glamorous that they fuel a burgeoning teenage baby farm industry that Medicaid will reimburse. Alley cats in suits abound, sporting women who are about as valuable as a soup de jour. These plastic-enhanced arm ornaments preen and prance for the camera knowing full well that the guy with the GQ look is about to trade em in for a tomato bisque, because he is tired of the clam chowder.
So next, I glance over at Newsweek and it shows the "usual suspects" with a title "Girls Gone Wild" bemoaning the underclad, super sex-charged female of Hollywood. She is a useless nymphomaniac bent on the destruction of our youth but is making a ton of money in the process. I flip through such pages and know that money does not really buy happiness. But it does buy a wardrobe full of handy disguises. Behind the smiles and glitzy living are stories of drug addiction, alcoholism, neurosis, sexual addictions and clinical depression. These stories surface briefly, in trips to trendy rehab centers which are treated like day spa visits, geographic cures with marriages on yachts with the adoring paparazzi, and self-actualization sushi bar gatherings on the beach, where the "famed few" stroke each others backsides and remind themselves of their favored status.
If someone will just send me a million dollars I am going to publish a new magazine to give some of our star-struck youth a bit of a reality check. Of course the feature model will be "moi". Pictures of Tammy in a twenty dollar nightgown cooking bacon, no make-up and hair up in a rubber band. Next, the "butt shot" of me leaning over the toilet giving it a quick scrub before heading to work. Tammy eating three pretzels for a lunch break because the day is too busy. Tammy tossing a salad for dinner and talking on the phone. Finally, Tammy tucked in bed at nine p.m. with a pillow over her head and yelling at the kid, "Go away and don't knock again unless the house is on fire." Life should be real. Life should be fun. It should include hard work and a pinch of volunteerism. But no disguises. Just the real stuff.
Posted by tammyswofford at 9:16 AM
Thursday, February 08, 2007
"If the Holy Family tried to emigrate for safety's sake to the U.S. currently, they'd probably not make it. Skin too dark, from Palestine, no relatives to sustain them economically, and on the wanted list by Herod -- they wouldn't pass an FBI screening!"
This statement by a reader, was posted by Jeffrey Weiss, on the religion blog of Dallas Morning News. Now while I have seen this same thought expressed in other forums, for some reason, it gave me esophogeal reflux today. I can still feel the bile in the back of my throat. So let's talk about "What would baby Jesus do?" Because in the fight for approximately eleven million illegal aliens to retain their berth in America, we now bring Jesus to the fight. And this Christian, is not stupid enough to fall for swiss cheese logic. The statement just has too many holes and I intend to plug 'em.
First of all, why did Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem? "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up....." Luke 2:1-5
Joseph and Mary were traveling legally, to comply with a legal order. Although not Roman citizens, they sought to comply with the edict of the government. There was never an issue of illegal status within the borders of a sovereign state. Period.
Skin too dark? Who is biased here? It appears the writer has a bias against any who would wish to uphold the law of the land, which is due process and legal migration, with papers in hand. His bias shows in an accusatory tone against Americans who merely hold to the ideal of the rule of law for the greatest good in a nation. I personally do not care if illegal aliens are white, dark-skinned or sporting green and orange Mohawks. I care very much that they are here illegally without visas or work permits. How dare this person presume I am biased against a skin tone because I believe in good order and discipline.
No relatives to sustain them economically? Scripture never shows that Joseph sought a hand-out to care for his wife and son. Scripture does note that he was a carpenter. This line of reasoning, is also faulty when applied to the Holy Family. Jesus was born into a family unit with a father who had a job and a mother who cherished her child. They may have been poor, but they were self-sustaining!
"On the wanted list by Herod-- they wouldn't pass an F.B.I. screening." Wrong again. Joseph and Mary were not sought because they were of a certain race, color or creed. Herod slaughtered all boys under the age of two, in a delusional paranoid state. He feared that the child Jesus, would take his kingdom from him when attaining to adulthood. This was not about a threat to national security. It was a perceived threat by a madman bent on infanticide. Matthew 2:1-18
So don't be sucked into this vortex of useless and convoluted thought. What would Jesus do today? Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar. And unto God, what belongs to God. And don't drag Christians and their faith through the mud in an illogical state of liberal lunacy.
Posted by tammyswofford at 9:50 AM
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
The greatest show in America ought to be the I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby trial pitting two guys raised in poverty in the greatest fight of their careers: Patrick J. Fitzgerald, for the prosecution against a defense featuring Theodore V. Wells.
Fitzgerald, the kid from Manhattan, the son of a doorman, who went to Amherst and Harvard Law, tried private practice, but found his metier in criminal prosecution. He has spent 13 years putting away mobsters and terrorists. He is so totally focused on his work that his personal life leaves colleagues amazed. Searching for pens, pencils, or whatever, co-workers have found dirty socks in desk drawers at the office where Fitzgerald sometimes slept during trials. A disorganized personal life is countered by a professional bent for meticulous preparation, flawless memory and a gift of the gab. “When trying a complicated case, there’s no detail he can’t recall,” observed a former co-worker.
During the 1995 trial of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, Fitzgerald knew enough about Muslim networks to ask a witness about Osama bin Laden, long before he had become a household name.
Wells, at 55, has the edge in experience. Raised by his mother, who worked in a Navy mailroom in Washington, he went to Holy Cross on a football scholarship and, like Fitzgerald, got his law degree from Harvard. He has successfully defended former U.S. Senator, Robert G. Totticelli (D-NJ), in a Justice Department campaign finance investigation; Floyd Flake, a former congressman from Queens, NY, accused of tax evasion and embezzlement; Mike Espy, Clinton’s Agriculture Secretary on corruption charges; and Raymond J. Donovan, a Reagan administration secretary of labor, in a fraud case in the Bronx.
Wells is joined at the defense table by William Jeffress, Jr., who won a case for former President Richard M. Nixon on public access to the Watergate tapes. Joseph A. Tate is the third member of the defense team.
Jeffress may have an advantage. There is much in this case that reminds one of Nixon’s ordeals. Both White Houses seem consumed by paranoia, although from different quarters. Under Nixon, it was the Oval. Under Bush, it is the vice-president’s office that reeks of mistrust and suspicion. The current case involves leaks. Many of Nixon’s problems came through trying to plug leaks.
In the celebrated White House tapes, Nixon is heard to muse that one can always say, “I don’t remember,” without running the risk of perjury, or being compelled to answer. So far, Libby is portraying himself as someone who doesn’t remember.
Fitzgerald has produced a number of witnesses to try to help refresh Libby’s memory, but, so far, to no avail. As Libby said when Fitzgerald asked, “You have no memory of that whatsoever?” “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t.”
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:30 AM
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Most think of the collateral damage of war as being restricted to unintended civilian casualties, or perhaps a non-surgical air strike which inadvertently takes out a family home. But I have been researching another area of collateral damage relating to war. And the long term effects of this issue linger years after treaties are signed and rebuilding begins. The loss of both intellectuals, and intellectual property in time of war, can be astounding.
This thought was brought to the forefront again as I received the following link into my e mail a few days ago. While most international relief agencies focus on the humanitarian crisis of vast demographic shifts and refugee populations during war, there is also a mind-boggling drain of education and talent during war. Either the educated are targeted and assassinated, or they flee to safer regions. The rules of armed conflict require that libraries, museums, places of worship and cultural sites be avoided in the region where the conflict is in motion, and American soldiers have a pretty good track record. But each war bears a cost on a front which is not totally avoidable. The loss of a nations top echeleon of artists, poets, mathematicians, lawyers and professors affects the future. But the loss of cultural intellectural property is also of concern, because it is the anchor to the past.
During Islamic expansion across the globe in the early years, Catholic priests fled their churches with the gold and silver relics of the Church in their arms. Many lost their lives in their attempts, because their cargo slowed them down. During WW I Russian soldiers in Romania burned many of the classic texts and books under the proprietorship of the Reformed Church. We all know of the famous bonfires of books in Germany, from the edicts of a certifiable madman, Adolph Hitler. In more recent history, there was an outcry against Mullah Muhammad Omar in Afghanistan who published a fatwa via the Bakhtar News Agency demanding that all statues be destroyed, including the historically significant Bamiyan Buddha statues. The Taliban was busy launching rocket-propelled grenades against their deaf-mute "enemy" when the international community hurriedly intervened.
The upheaval of WW II brought some of the brightest scientists and physicians to the shores of America. I am grateful for their arrival. But now we have loss of native intellectual talent in Iraq, much as has been observed in Lebanon in recent years. I have no solutions to offer as I am not that wise. But we just need to be aware of some of the issues beyond the "bomb a day" news we receive from mainstream media.
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:42 AM
Monday, February 05, 2007
About a week ago I switched to the "upgraded" blogspot because of the constant "promo" that Beta testing was completed. It was a mistake. If you have not switched, may I please offer a bit of advice? Keep your old account.
I just received another e mail from a reader who cannot access the comments, other readers cannot load the current page. As such, please be patient and understand that the difficulty is with the server, not your own computer. I have also had difficulty accessing my own account and have sent several e mails to the support staff to which they respond, but the problems remain.
Keep reading, we will look forward to the comments that can get through at this point.
Tammy, Tom and Bob
Posted by tammyswofford at 2:00 PM
Whilst our fearless legislators have been busy strengthening the "Castle Doctrine" in Texas it appears that Gov. Rick Perry has supplied Merck Pharmaceuticals with a breathing straw to swim the moat and breach our living spaces. Sure, you can still shoot an intruder dead who threatens your property. But what if the sacrosanct property of parental rights is violated without cause?
HPV is a bad deal. But it is not in the same category as whooping cough or "pink eye". It is the making of epidemiological concern, not crisis, such as a governmental response when applying quarantine to vast demographic sectors for public safety. Your kid cannot get HPV riding the bus to school. They cannot transfer it from host to host, sitting next to a child in the gym. It is transferred, through sexual activity.
Throw in that the vaccine, Gardasil, is cost-prohibitive with an estimated $400-$500 dollar price tag, and that our governor wants to spend our tax dollars to vaccinate the uninsured in an aggressive program that reaches much farther than it should into the taxpayers' pocket, and I am worked up into a foaming rabid lather over his executive order. Governor Perry has abused his authority on this one. It is also cost prohibitive because for the hundreds of millions of dollars spent per year we will save less than 400 women a year, in Texas. Cervical cancer is not one of the leading causes of cancer deaths. Approximately 1,700 women a year in Texas will receive such diagnosis. By latest statistics, 391 will die from the disease.
And from the looks of lobbying efforts by Merck they have done well with influence pandering in Texas, choosing one of Gov. Perry's former chief of staff as one of the three main lobbyists. Sure, Mr. Perry claims he has not talked to Mike Toomey. But has Mr. Toomey talked to Mrs. Perry, a registered nurse, with ties to organizations that want the vaccine in wide distribution? Is a picture beginning to emerge from the fog on this one?
The governor of Texas is saddling the taxpaying citizen with a butt-load of debt under the Texas Vaccines for Children program, which includes many children of illegal aliens. The sweeping mandatory nature of this executive order will also cost those of us who have children on our insurance policies through incremental increases on our own premiums to cover these costs.
Yes, there are also provisions made for opting out for religious reasons or reasons of conscience. But it makes me damn tootin' mad that the governor has stepped into my living room and told me how to care for my own children. Welcome to the world of government intrusion which tramples on parental rights and allows Merck to be a professional pickpocket. What about you? How do you feel about this executive order? Talk Back!
Posted by tammyswofford at 1:13 PM
Friday, February 02, 2007
From the world of creating a crisis where there was none, we bring the city of Boston and the story of "Chicken Little". This childhood story should now be included in future anti-terrorism briefs for Homeland Security. Because rather than an apple falling on the head and the squawk of the sky falling, we have the silly scenario of "What if they called a bomb scare and no bombs were found?"
Granted, the ad execs for Turner Broadcasting were just a bit dense, putting the illuminated electronic devices with wires hanging out onto bridges and into subway stations. Any smart American knows that you no longer videotape a bridge on your vacation; just buy a postcard instead. And we all remember what happened in London on 7/7 a couple years back.
But why did lack of common sense cost the Boston taxpayers a half a million dollars? These same cartoon promo devices have graced the landscape of other major cities for weeks now without causing a stir. Of course, now that the city of Boston has been caught with their pants down, the two luckless workers, who put up the promo "bombs" have been arrested. Does anyone else get a mental picture of "Ernie" from the Far Side cartoons being the perpetrator of this hoax? Arrested, and he can't figure out what the heck was done wrong?
Meanwhile, state Attorney General Martha Coakley huffs and puffs, "We're not going to let this go without looking at the further roots of how this happened to cause the panic in this city." Now did citizens panic or did government officials hysterically knee-jerk their way into an expensive and unnecessary response? And where will the Boston bomb squad be deployed next? Blinking "No Vacancy" signs at hotels?
Posted by tammyswofford at 8:10 AM
Thursday, February 01, 2007
We all knew it would only be a matter of time before Jane Fonda resurfaced for another anti-war demonstration. She put the periscope up for the first real wave of protesters. Too bad Senator John Kerry was not also present to chunk his medals again. Though he is to be credited for one thing: he has voted in the past for budget amendments to increase funding for medical care for veterans. But when thinking of Jane Fonda, I remember her support to VVAW (Vietnam Veterans against the War) and her fun-loving pals who joined her for FTA (Fuck the Army, or Fun Travel and Adventure, should you prefer.) It was a knock-off USO meant to support the troops, but one of which Bob Hope would have never been a part.
I do support free speech. I do support free assembly and the right for peaceful protest. It is o.k. to protest the war. You have the liberty to organize a protest against anything you wish in America. But I did make a mental note that some of the protesters took time off work and two day bus trips to herd up for their anti-war protest at the U.S. Capitol. Can these goodly people do one more thing? Can they contribute the same amount of money expended on the war protest to aid a returning combat veteran with a war injury? Yep. I really do want to know how many prosthetic devices ole Jane and John have funded. How much money have they contributed to remodel a bathroom and make it wheelchair accessible for a vet who has had both legs blown off with an IED? How many vans with lifts have they purchased or donations given directly to the support of the wounded combatant? Because while it is easy to protest the war, for some of those returning to America from the combat zone, the stark reality that is faced is not only dealing with injury, but also increasing financial difficulties.
Some of the protesters undoubtedly have eighteen year old sons and daughters who they will never encourage to join the military. A year from now, when some of those kids have lost two jobs and still live at home, another American the same age will have served a year in Iraq and be reporting back to their base in the U.S.A. While this year some of the protesters will stand proudly to watch children graduate from college another American parent will be sending their own child off for a second tour of duty, a seasoned veteran in their own right.
Both the protester and the military man have their rightful place in America. But the protester who has never served cannot understand how it feels for the soldier to cinch up in a double harness with two canteens, strap on a flak jacket, and tap a magazine into an M-16 to go on patrol. They do not know what it is like to open an MRE (meals refused by Ethiopians) for the third week in a row and wish for a bowl of ice cream. They know less, of what it means to serve and return, with a life-altering, image-changing disability.
So let them protest. But on their return home as they bask in the afterglow of the fervor of the day ask them one thing: Have they considered a contribution to assist a veteran with an injury? The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a good place to start.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:50 AM