I am of two minds for my last stand. Henry Waxman's 14 page indictment of State Department Inspector General "Cookie" Krongard, coming as it does, shortly after the State Department decided that the American public should not learn just how corrupt the Iraqi government is when the administration is asking for more money to feed that corruption, should be the odds on favorite.
However, how often does a first time author get the full press hype Jenna Bush is being given? On behalf of all people who have devoted years to learning the craft of writing and have not managed to get published, I am considering giving Ms. Bush the full Bollinger treatment.
Watch this space.
By the way, I have been having trouble with my e-mail account and have not been ab out to access it for some time.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I am of two minds for my last stand. Henry Waxman's 14 page indictment of State Department Inspector General "Cookie" Krongard, coming as it does, shortly after the State Department decided that the American public should not learn just how corrupt the Iraqi government is when the administration is asking for more money to feed that corruption, should be the odds on favorite.
Posted by tammyswofford at 9:20 AM
Friday, September 28, 2007
Mocking and insulting a foreign leader is a bunch of yuks. It makes us feel good and it boost’s Iranian president, Mahmoud Amadinajad’s standing among his constituency. Everybody wins—right up until the laughing stops.
Let’s look at Iran’s position. Until we invaded Iraq, Iran didn’t have many natural friends in the Middle East. Now, its former chief enemy has become a virtual puppet state. And Iran is way ahead in winning hearts and minds. Not only is it supplying arms and munitions to the Shiite militias, but it is also sending in engineers and medical personnel to try to get the electricity and water back in service, and to provide medical care in the Shiite areas of the country. The Iranians we arrest tend to be those engineers and medical personnel.
Americans are upset because the Iranians are providing the weapons that are killing our troops, and is supplying weapons to Hezbollah to use against Israel. The Iranians reply that they only doing what we did when we supplied Iraq during the eight year Iraqi-Iranian war and when we sent weapons to be used against the Russians in Afghanistan. The United States is threatening Iran. Iran is defending itself, in addition to taking advantage of an American blunder.
When not dodging the grossly inhospitable barbs and insults Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger hurled at his invited guest, and not spouting pure balderdash such as Iranian women are the freest in the world, Amadinejad said two things worth considering. He asked why the Palestinians have to pay for what happened to the Jews under Hitler. That, in a nutshell, is what the 60-year Arab-Israeli struggle is all about.
Amadinejad’s comments on nuclear weapons were also sensible in that they recognize that if Iran ever used such a weapon, the country would be bombed literally into the stoneage. That doesn’t mean that Iran is not trying to develop nuclear weapons, but it is a matter of prestige rather than an offense weapon. Iran wants to be in the big boy’s club, right up there with India and Pakistan, and miles ahead of Saudi Arabia.
As to his desire to erase Israel and the U.S. from the face of the earth, the Soviet Union had the same platform for 70 years. It didn’t happen. Diplomacy stepped in.
Clearly French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner is on the right track and Senators Coleman, Kyle and Lieberman are on the wrong track with their failed attempt to put the Senate on record as favoring military action against Iran.
Posted by tammyswofford at 10:20 AM
Thursday, September 27, 2007
What were they thinking? Until quite recently, the military had a monopoly on military operations. Then some genius in the Reagan administration decided that it would be a good thing to hire mercenaries to run around Central America shooting at people the administration didn’t like, in the name of deniability. Apparently, nobody in Central America was thought to be capable of thinking two steps back and asking why are these “private citizens” doing what they are doing? Why is what they are doing very close to what the United States wants done? Could there be a connection?
Since that worked out really well, subsequent policy wonks decided to use mercenaries in the South American drug wars. The reasoning is that the American people would not support drug interdiction operations if American troops were killed. Could that be why we are awash in cocaine, etc.?
Then came the slap dash invasion of Iraq. Gen. Erik Shinsheki said it would take more than 200,000 troops to secure Iraq. Rumsfeld said that is too many. We can do it with half that amount and use private contractors for the other half. This was somehow supposed to have saved us money. All it did was to put Army recruiters into competition with private contractors so that the Army is now paying huge bonuses to keep trained people in the service. The American taxpayer is being whipsawed between the need to pay more to keep soldiers in uniform and more to pay those who turn in their cammos for khaki cargo pants, wrap around shades and more individual firepower than a squad of dogfaces can muster.
Now, the private security forces are calling the shots. The people they guard are loath to attempt to discipline them for fear that they will retaliate by letting someone kill them. The Iraqi government has filed complaints against Blackwater USA on seven separate occasions and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has completely ignored all of them.
In one case, a Blackwater gunsel clearly shot an Iraqi civilian. He was spirited out of the country, and has never stood trial. Hardly a situation calculated to win hearts and minds.
On his way out of the country, L. Paul Bremer gave the private military companies a free pass by proclaiming that no PMC employee could be tried in an Iraqi court. Given the excesses of the PMCs, including buzzing mosques in their helicopters, abusing traffic cops when they feel like it, and the indiscriminate shooting of indigenous personnel at whim, it is doubtful that the Bremer pass will hold much water.
Some people have advanced the idea that the Iraqi judiciary is incapable of holding trials. I guess we better dig up Saddam Hussein and tell him it was all a terrible mistake. The judiciary cannot be competent to try an ex head of state and incompetent to try people accused of common murder.
Defense of this country is the duty of the military. Privatizing that function can only lead to disaster.
Posted by tammyswofford at 1:27 PM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Big Brother, aka the Department of Homeland Security, is watching, and listening. Unfortunately, Inspector Clouseau, the blitheringly incompetent policeman in the Pink Panther films, has been in charge of the project since its inception.
Last year, Homeland Security flagged almost 20,000 Americans and foreigners potential terrorists. To get on the list a person must be a known, or suspected terrorist such as those who finance terrorist organizations, terrorist operatives, or someone that provides material support to a terrorist or terrorist organization.” In short, anyone could be on the list. So far we have been saved from the fiendish plots of an octogenarian grandmother, a seven-months-old infant and a United States Senator. Abe Dabdoud, 39, an American citizen living outside Cleveland, has been detained 21 times since August 2006. The border guards who detain him, call him by his first name. They know him, but they still detain him. The rules say he cannot be detained unless there is a warrant for his arrest, but that hasn’t stopped people from being detained.
Last July, the U.S. worked out a deal with the European Union under which European airlines tell us all about their passengers. And I do mean all about. Not only when and where they are going in what class, but also whom they are going with, where they are staying, what kind of bed they want. Also in the database are credit card information, telephone and e-mail contacts, racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, information on the health of the traveler and his or her sexual orientation. This data is being gathered on all travelers, not just those thought to pose a threat. All this information is supposed to help Inspector Clouseau thwart terrorist plots. The government also plans to share it with the private sector, who would be allowed to keep it for 99 years.
The U.S. government is collecting the same information on citizens who fly, drive or take cruises abroad. Just another thing to be careful of on those singles cruises.
The United States began collecting Passenger Name Record data in 1992 for inbound international flights and has data on nearly 87 million travelers. Yet people who were on a watch list got into this country with no problem prior to 9/11. Maybe we should rely on old fashioned police work rather than trying to get information on everybody.
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:13 AM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
*Liberal blogger Tom Gordon probably still has his bracelets. smile
If the televised Watergate hearings have turned you into a partisan on the subject, three entrepreneurs have begun marketing a series of “indict-a-tags” to help you follow the career of your favorite subject. The tags are actually bracelets modeled after the POW wrist ornaments, except they carry the names of some former Presidential advisers and the dates they have either resigned or been indicted in the scandal. “You can wear the bracelet until the man is either indicted, convicted, pardoned or paroled, depending on your point of view,” said Louis Lerner, one of the three entrepreneurs and publisher of the Lerner Newspapers in Chicago. So far the bracelets carry the names of John N. Mitchell (5-10-73), John H. Dean III (4-30-73) H.R. (Bob) Haldeman (4-30-73) and John D. Ehrlichman (4-30-73)
Chicago Sun-Times, by Scott Jacobs, June 9, 1973
*How an enterprising diplomat can screw to hell the plans of aspiring hostage-takers:
Uruguayan Ambassador Fernando Gomez, one of more than 30 hostages held by guerillas in the Dominican Republic Embassy for nearly three weeks, tied bed sheets together and lowered himself from a second story window of the building early today, scrambled under a parked car and was rescued, authorities said.
Fort Worth Star Telegram, (front page) March 17, 1980
*Did he need to be rescued at that point? Smile
*In the “No news like bad news” category:
The 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States forced Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government to ponder a troubling question: Could terrorists pull off something similar, or even worse, in London or another big British city? The answer, they concluded, was yes.
London, Associated Press, by Beth Gardiner, October 17th, 2004.
*We all know the date: July 7, 2005. London suffered multiple attacks.
*Doomed to failure from the start….
Bell Helicopter and Boeing Co. issued apologies Friday after an advertisement for their V-22 Osprey aircraft infuriated a major Islamic group.
The ad in the Sept. 24 issue of National Journal, a political-affairs publication, depicts U.S. special operations troops rappelling out of a CV-22 Osprey built by Bell and Boeing in an assault on a mosque. “It descends from the heavens. Ironically, it unleashed hell,” reads the ad’s headline.” Etc. etc.
Fort Worth Star Telegram, by Bob Cox, October 1, 2005
*I guess these ad exec clowns didn't check the Law of Armed Conflict.
*Not to be outdone in the stupidity department:
A Turkish film that portrays U.S. soldiers in Iraq as brutal and callous killers is setting attendance records in Turkey and has just opened throughout Europe…In one scene, an American doctor, played by actor Gary Busey, is furious because troops keep killing Iraqi prisoners before they reach the Abu Ghraib prison. The doctor's problem? If the Iraqis are dead, he can't harvest their organs to send to Israel. (Valley of the Wolves: Iraq)
Berlin: Knight Ridder Newspapers, Feb. 16, 2006
*Naturally, we all know that Gary Busey left his "brain behind", and now works for whoever will pay him, including end-of-the-world Christian frightmeisters.
*In the “You can run but you can’t hide” department:
A Briton of Indian descent who reportedly had telephone contacts with the four London transit system bombers just before the attacks has been apprehended in Pakistan, am official said Wednesday. The arrest of Haroon Rashid Aswat appeared to be a big break in the investigation of the July 7, bombings, because he could tie the events directly to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan, even though the four bombers were British citizens.
Los Angeles Times, by John Daniszewski and Mubashir Zaidi, July 28, 2005
*Thank you, Pakistan.
*It is always good to continue with a plan that does not work:
Undaunted: That is perhaps the only way to describe the 500 Marxist scholars and activists who gathered for a three-day conference at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, as communism falters around the globe and free-market capitalism thrives.... "Some of us had hoped in the '60s that we would be living in a more socialist world right now," said Douglas Kellner, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, one of those who argued that Marxism is far from obsolete.
*How many of the readers know the history of the Ba'ath party of Iraq? An ideological remnant is also within Syrian government, along with a strong Syrian Muslim Brotherhood symbiosis. You may see the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood site on this link. Michel Aflaq is recognized as the founder of the Ba'athist movement. He was born in Damascus to a Greek Orthodox family. He studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. From his studies, he combined Marxist socialism and pan-Arab nationalism to form a belief system which has effected the lives of many people.
Remember, folks. Read things to trend events. Do not read in a reactionary manner, but read to pull threads together and formulate sustainable opinion based on fact. I do my best. Archiving print journalism is just one small way to assist the process.
Posted by tammyswofford at 9:02 AM
Monday, September 24, 2007
*What a difference a day makes or.... better script writers. smile
“On a day when many Britons will gather to remember and mourn the events of September 11th, about 1,400 radical Muslims are expected to pack a north London mosque this evening to remember as well- but not necessarily to mourn….The organizers also plan to launch the Islamic Council of Britain, whose aim will be to implement the conservative code of law known as sharia in Britain. They said they would welcome members of Osama bin Laden’s network as “sincere Muslims fighting on behalf of Muslims worldwide.”
Fort Worth Star Telegram Wednesday September 11th, 2002
Later in the timeline, a slight change in stance by Islamic organizations in Britain:
“Islamic leaders in Britain have published a booklet advising Muslims of their legal rights, urging vigilance against terrorists and warning of a possible backlash against their community if there is an attack… The Muslim Council of Britain… also calls for anyone who suspects terrorist activity to report it to the police… “British Muslim groups have their role to play in safeguarding the security of this country,” said council spokesman Inahat Bunglawala.
No date: Fort Worth Star Telegram
In the category of having more to worry about then packing your new underwear:
C.I.A. Director Robert Gates says changes might be needed in the law that forbids the agency from collecting information about Americans or U.S. companies…… Gates, a C.I.A. career employee named to his post by President Bush last year, said Monday that he had made it clear that he plans to leave in January but would be happy to serve as long as required to ensure a smooth transition. He has set up briefings for President-elect Bill Clinton and his staff.
Ruth Sinai, Associated Press, November 26, 1992
*Meanwhile, back in Dallas, clueless airline passenger Tammy Swofford is about to be picked up by Homeland Security for placing her reading selection, “Marijuana: The Viable Cash Crop to Subsidize your Medicare” into her suitcase.
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 DFW Airport
*Can we get these guys to help us with our gridlock traffic in Dallas?
City planners are making contingency plans for a rapid evacuation of the capital, a civil defense measure not considered since the height of the Cold War…. D.C. engineers say the (escape) signs will cut the estimated time needed to evacuate Washington to three hours and ten minutes, down from the four chaotic hours on Sept. 11th. In theory, city engineers say 800,000 vehicles could leave in two hours under perfect conditions.”
No date, Spencer S. HSU, The Washington Post
*Moving on to your basic bulldozer diplomacy:
The Israeli army retaliated on Thursday for the killing of four Israeli soldiers by Palestinian militants on Wednesday by bulldozing dwellings in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of homeless people were left searching for their belongings in a five acre sea of rubble. The action in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, was the largest Israeli demolition operation in more than 15 months of violent conflict with the Palestinians.
Fort Worth Star Telegram: January 11th 2002
*Moving forward to well-known American foreign policy intellectuals, may we introduce the lady who was jeered in Jeddah?
Question: What can people of faith in America do to make a difference?
Answer: Host an exchange student. After people visit America, in interviews we hear the proof that experience forever changes and improves perspective and understanding of America.
Question posed by Marcia Davis-Seal to Karen Hughes
Fort Worth Star Telegram April 6th 2007
*And from the man who was caught with his pants down twice and is now suing CBS for $70 million, we bring to the court of evidence, (known) incident Numero Uno with Dan Rather:
New York: A man employed by CBS News to speak the English translation of Saddam Hussein’s words during his exclusive interview with Dan Rather last week reportedly adopted a fake Arabic accent. CBS News hired Steve Winfield, a Screen Actors Guild member with no such accent in real life. Winfield is advertised on the Web as a specialist in foreign accents, the Los Angeles Time reported Wednesday….. The statement was “100 percent accurate,” CBS news said in a statement, describing Winfield as one of four translators it hired. The accent, CBS said, was meant to provide “a voice compatible with the piece.”
AP wire reports March 6, 2003
*In the category of "Who gives a snort":
Saddam Hussein likes Doritos. In fact, he eats a big bag of Doritos every day.
Gentleman's Quarterly, July 2005
*I like my Doritos with a can of bean dip.
*Shocking news about our own President Bush:
"On an audiotape released Tuesday, AlQaeda's No. 2 leader call President Bush an alcoholic and a lying gambler...."
AP wire from Egypt: Feb. 14, 2007
*Accusations about personal or secret habits always brings up that nasty little question, "How did they know about it?" smile
"A Syrian insurgent being held in Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad labeled Army Spc. Charles Graner, Jr. the 'primary torturer' of his wing, an 'aggressive' soldier who whistled and laughed through repeated abuses, assaults and cultural mockeries."
Fort Hood, Chris Vaughn, Star Telegram Staff Writer, January 12, 2005.
*This LCDR, has always given a damn about Abu Ghraib.
Be back tomorrow with one more batch of clippings.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:44 AM
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Having spent most of Saturday reading news clipping dating back to the 1970's it is only fair that I share this wealth of information with the readership on the Monday and Tuesday blogs.
Let's take a trip down memory lane on issues. This journey will also give you opportunity to see my sense of humor at work as I add my own thoughts to certain topics. When I read, there is usually a beginning point of humor, long before I move on to the nitty gritty of really thinking about things. I do believe that humor provides a nice hinge of creativity which is useful for journalism. Along with direct news facts some of my humor will show as a bit of under-the-radar analysis at work. Feel free to disagree.
I expect each of you to weigh things as we move along and add your own comments. But if nothing else, let the blog bring remembrance of events and people across the globe. And should anyone need a mailed copy of any print source, feel free to send me an e mail. I will be happy to help you out. I have saved some specific clippings for Tom Gordon.
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:01 AM
Saturday, September 22, 2007
On October 1st my personal friend, James McEachin, will be attending the Change of Command for General Pete Pace and Admiral Mike Mullen up at Fort Myer, VA. Even as he attends to the duty of the nation I will be engaged in duty to family.
The blog will be managed by Tom Gordon next week starting from Wednesday and extending to the next Monday. He will have total journalistic control and personally, that scares me. My guess is he will have MoveOn.org writing on the page as soon as my aircraft leaves the runway in Dallas. smile
The reason for my absence will be to lay my 96 year old grandmother to rest. As she is Cherokee, and lived in Big Sky country for most of her life, it is only fitting that we give her a send-off befitting the large family clan. So I will be traveling to Montana for this funeral. Quite a few other relatives will pay respects.
This week-end I intend to move into news print archives that I retain to refresh my memory on a few things. Not sure if that venture will make the blog. But with historical revisionist President Ahmadinejad in the U.S.A. it is good to remember that speaking the truth is always the best policy. And to attempt to change any fact of history, removes the ability of future generations to learn from events of the past. One day, I want future Americans to learn from the U.S. foreign policy decisions and military decisions of my generation. Because in the end truth is not just about "the good, the bad and the ugly". Truth, retains its own beauty no matter what the truth to be told.
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:55 AM
Friday, September 21, 2007
Look at your hand. It is a miracle. The innervation coming from the cervical spine gives a pincer-like motion which allows holding a pen for writing or using a fork to eat. These are the finer motor skills. But gross motor skills allow hands to pick up a baby or throw a football with a child. Rough hands can frame the soft face of a woman who is loved or provide grooming for an old man who has forgotten how to shave and button his shirt.
Dallas Morning News ran the story of a holy “weeping tree” in Texas which is drawing the faithful much as the “Jesus of the Tortilla” excitement. What some are saying is an accumulation of ice in a tree on a hot September day is just another spittlebug nest to arborist experts. The story made me sad. When my husband and I read the article the word that immediately came to his mind was “desperation”. I also thought of the word “pity”. These are desperate people. They need miracles.
Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” The question still rings out demanding response because this question cuts to the core of our humanity. So who is your neighbor? In America our strongest community can be our workplace. These are the people we usually know the best. For others, community means a place of worship, a foursome playing bridge together once a week, or like myself, anyone who will share a cup of coffee and throw in a chocolate.
Nearly a year ago my husband was hospitalized for eight days. He was hemodynamically unstable on arrival to the emergency room and retained after-effects of illness for weeks after coming home. I needed a miracle. Physically, I became exhausted. Emotionally, the wiring collapsed. Oh sure, like most people I managed to look like a proverbial sea of calm. But the tears on my pillow at night told the real story. Multiple outstretched hands and many “neighbors” provided the support needed to bring small miracles into my life. In a deconstructed emotional state, I received hope.
A miracle is something that sticks with us for the rest of our lives. One "neighbor" picked up our son in his pajamas at ten p.m. and took him to the local grocery store to pick out frozen foods, snacks, things easy to prepare. She knew that on top of my regular nursing shifts I was hanging out at the hospital when not working. They returned over an hour later with dozens of food items including some very thoughtful choices. This neighbor even remembered dog food for our hungry little poochie. There was no need for me to stand under an acacia tree with a spittlebug nest to seek God's providence. My miracle, looked like two capable hands helping my son unload grocery sacks. Other hands, brought other miracles.
Look at your hands. They are a thing of beauty.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:20 AM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
What risky behavior can you engage to shorten your life span the most quickly? Look at the following list and place it in prioritized order:
*Show up at an AID's clinic seeking a date.
*Use a nozzle to guzzle beer at the fraternity house and drive home.
*Draw a cartoon of Muhammad with the body of a dog.
Selection number one might be managed by using condoms. Choice number two might fall in the category of God taking care of fools. Dawn's light may bring a hang-over and a realization that it is time to act like an adult. But if you picked the third choice, you are following the news coming out of Sweden. This news is a wake up call. Again. And as we repetitively hit the snooze button on the alarm and allow ourselves to doze off, Lars Vilks and others like him will continue to go into hiding because of assassination threats.
Pakistan, as one example, has criminal charges within their penal code for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.(Pakistan Penal Code Section 295c) If I lived in Pakistan, being aware of the law of a Muslim-majority nation, I would not move about the country or speak in a manner which would place me under the penalty of their law. They retain the right to their jurisprudence and societal mores, right or wrong. I would respect their laws, their beliefs and most likely find the people warm and friendly. But why should a Westerner feel threatened to speak freely, write freely or engage the freedom of the press which our free speech tributary allows? Why should a Westerner suffer threat of assassination offered up from beyond our sovereign states, with a fear that the act will be carried out within their own national borders? Why should any free citizen in Western society have to pick up a few clothing items and flee for his life, moving into hiding? Is Sweden at war?
As reported by AP, the editor who dared to publish the newest Muhammad cartoon has a $50,000 dollar price tag on his head. Lars Vilks blood is worth $100,000 dollars. His murder is worth $150,000 if he is slaughtered like a lamb. Sound familiar? Let’s move along to the writings in Al-Battar, the al-Qaedah field manual. This is from edition no. 7, coming out of the Arabian Peninsula in 2004. Here is a quote (from one of several translations)in the preamble.
"At this time when we see the cross worshippers are protecting their religion and protecting their people...."
I am a "cross worshipper". My faith is Christianity. I am not at war with the children of Muhammad. In fact, I have fond regard for and friendship with several Muslims. But it appears that some, are at war with me. They are at war with Lars Vilks. They are at war, like it or not, with you. Don't think because you are "Joe Q. Citizen" all will remain well with you and your generations as Al-Qaedah strengthens their hand. The bounty on Lars Vilks head showcases the work of a predatory ideology which must be stopped.
And while various Islamic diplomatic envoys request "mutual respect" I believe that the paddle must be put into the water by them, first. I find it rather hard to respect anyone who thinks it is dandy to kill me for my own religious belief system. Where is the outrage by pious Muslims regarding this issue? I certainly cannot abide a crime-ridden organization (citizen-targeted assassinations and kidnappings, opium production and underground arms markets) which salivates over the prospect of slaughtering another person like a lamb. And I find freedom of speech the most important and defensible of our rights, along with the right to bear arms. That is why I remain in the column of a blogging journalistic infantry unwilling to break ranks and flee the threat. Others like Lars Vilks are also joining the column. These our rights, deserve the greater respect.
So stick your fatwa up your ass, Al-Qaedah.
Posted by tammyswofford at 9:55 AM
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
It is generally agreed that an undisclosed number of Israeli F-15 and F-16s flew into Syrian airspace on the night of Sept 5-6.
The Syrians say their planes jumped the Israelis who dropped their ordinance, which did no damage, and fled back across the border. The Israelis, uncharacteristically, are saying nothing.
Speculation is filling the vacuum. According to Assennara, an Israeli Arabic publication, the target was a missile base with Iranian missiles. CNN reported that the raid targeted an arms convoy destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. The New York Times reported that the mission was a survey of possible sights for a future Syrian nuclear site with facilities supplied by North Korea.
The facility is said by Marc Henry, writing for the French newspaper, Le Figaro, to be an agricultural research center in the north of the country. Analysts dispute this scenario on the grounds that most of Syria’s secret facilities are in the central desert, and that it doesn’t make sense to build a sensitive facility near the Turkish border, since the Turks are friendly with Israel.
Both Damascus and Pyongyang deny that North Korea is supplying nuclear equipment. Analysts in this country think it unlikely that North Korea would supply nuclear equipment because the country is too broke.
However, A.Q. Khan’s name has been bandied about as a possible supplier. Khan, is the Pakistani scientist who helped develop Pakistan’s bomb and then set up a network to supply all comers. He has been under house arrest in Pakistan for several years.
The Israelis reticence is hard to fathom. They have not been bashful about claiming credit for attacking other countries. In 1981, they destroyed the 70 megawatt Osirak reactor, 18 miles south of Baghdad using F-15 and F-16s. That reactor was built by the French, ostensibly to supply electricity.
Assuming the analysts are wrong and that North Korea had sent a secret shipment of nuclear equipment to Syria, and that Syria was in the process of setting up a nuclear facility. Why would Israel keep mum about destroying it? One reason could be that Israel’s major ally is in six part negotiations with North Korea on dismantling its nuclear capability. A diplomatic embarrassment of North Korea would shatter any hopes of accord. But, at the same time, surely the world would tend to forget all about North Korea’s problems if faced with a nuclear threat in the Middle East. Pakistan, on the other hand, would be much happier if the world stopped paying it quite as much attention as it has.
There are other questions as well. Why would North Korea pick Syria? All frontline countries want to counter Israel’s nuclear threat with one of their own. Most of the those countries have more to offer than Syria does, especially since every country in the Middle East wants to make sure that his neighbor is not nuclear.
Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, seemed to lend credence to the arms to Hezbollah theory when he said the central problem with Syria is Lebanon. The Syrians sustain Hezbollah and furnish it with arms.
The Pentagon has suggested that the raid was actually a warning to Syria. It has also been suggested that the Israelis were surveying routes into Iran, possibly at the behest of the U.S.
No matter what happened over Syria, it probably did not advance the cause of peace.
Posted by tammyswofford at 8:00 AM
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
It is coming down to the wire for the re-election aspirations of President Pervez Musharraf. The world has been observing the political waltz between Musharraf, Sharif and Bhutto for some time with former PM Bhutto becoming the dominant partner in the dance as she closes in on a deal for power-sharing, after the upcoming election in October. Although this drama is playing out on center stage and with dominant personalities, other actors are parlaying their talents into the economic and geopolitical sectors.
The partition of India by the British allowed an open door for the establishment of a Muslim-majority Pakistani nation (with eastern and western horns). Although suffering through a tumultuous beginning, the Pak government gave official recognition to China early on. In this decade, there has been a distinct strengthening of the alliance and it is showcased by a constant flurry of activity and shuttle diplomacy between the nations this year.
Pakistan has always supported Beijing's "One China" policy with regards to the status of Taiwan. Although the U.S. government gives lip service and would seek to maintain the status quo, Pakistan aligns herself more strongly with China's strategic goals for increasing regional dominance.
Increasingly, both nations are seeking to maximize a linking of their goals to increase their spheres of influence. This can be seen with their Free Trade agreement, which has seen a bilateral trade growth rate increase of twenty percent for three consecutive years. China's trade delegation visited Pakistan in July and included in the delegation were representatives of some of China's top corporations such as Sinochem and China Minmetals. Sinochem, whose predecessor was established as a key state-owned entity, China National Chemical Import and Export, is ranked 299th by Fortune.
Just this week, Dr. Salman Shah led a delegation to Beijing to hammer down the financial details of cooperation between the two nations for building massive shipyards in Gwadar and Port Qasim. These meetings, with the Chairman of China's Banking Regulatory Commission and others, paves the way for a bilateral cooperative agreement between the private and corporate sectors in Pakistan and China, respectively. Within the framework of the Sino-Pak 5-year Economic Development Program, things will move along steadily toward building the shipyards. And more symbolically, Pakistan has it in the works to construct a China-Pakistan Friendship Center in Islamabad.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:49 AM
Monday, September 17, 2007
Israel can move from posture to pounce within strategic hours, not days. The recent penetration by Israeli Air Defense into Syrian airspace is causing chatter and speculative analysis. I might as well join the fray. It is good to reflect on how Israeli military doctrine has fared over the years. The “crouch to pounce” doctrine and strategic capabilities of Israel cannot be ignored. The "crouch" is the superior intelligence gathering network which Israeli agents employ. This allows for the "pounce" with military prowess delivering a precisioned snap which aims straight for the exposed and jugular vulnerabilities of the target.
Take the “Six Day War” in 1967 as a classic example of “how to” for strategic dominance. Syria, Egypt and Jordan decided that Israel was just the snotty-nosed kid on the block needing to be taught a lesson. The war of words peaked when Egyptian President Nasser deployed troops to the Sinai Peninsula, removed U.N. peace keeping forces and closed access to the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. (Tried and true choke point theory at work.) Israel had engaged dogfighting skirmishes along their borders during the 1950's and early 1960's. But it was during the early 1960's that intelligence gathering began to focus on all Arab air commands, bases and aircraft. The objective was to put a strategy into place for air superiority achievement within a six hour window of time. This intelligence came into play on June 5, 1967. Israel began a pre-emptive strike which startled the world. With dawn cracking over the horizon, Israeli jets rolled off their runways flying at extremely low altitudes to avoid detection. Cratering the runways of the Egyptian Air Force achieved the initial goal of stranding the aircraft for the second wave of strafing which destroyed 187 Egyptian aircraft within minutes of execution of the initial bombing raid. Jordan entered the fray playing more of a supportive ground military role along the Augusta Victoria Ridge. They were easily dealt with. But it was nicely executed air support and advance of ground forces into Syria which quickly nailed the coffin lid shut on the anti-Israeli coalition and subsequently gave Israel more land in the "win column" then they had previously. The Golan Heights remains somewhat the crown jewel of that venture, though the more religious Jews will point back to the war as a day when they were able to rush to reclaim the Wailing Wall as part of their spiritual heritage.
Six days from start to finish with strategic planning unafraid to use massive aggressive force and air dominance were the order of the day. And in the end, while the U.N. was brokering the peace and placing observers on the Israeli-Syrian border at Tiberias and Kuneitra, PM Levi Eshkol stated it best:
"The threat of destruction that hung over Israel since its establishment and which was about to be implemented has been removed."
Israel is at the top of their game in both intelligence acquisition and maintaining strategic national interest.
More recently, Lebanon's Hezbollah played “snatch and latch” with incursion into Israel’s borders in 2006, taking military prisoners of war. Believing that this would merely function as a public affairs war, which is the easiest for the underdog to manage, the Lebanese politicos suffered quick consequences. Hoping to force Israel into a humiliating facial twitch, they suffered a bare-buttocks public switching instead. It showcased the Israeli government’s will to act and sent a blunt message, “If you don’t like the restrained response, just wait until we open up the arsenal.” Reuter's faked and enhanced smoke plumes coming out of Beirut aside, the response did not match operational capabilities. That is what we must remember.
Israel appears to understand that a diluted military potency produces a weakened and vulnerable state in a region where the “friendlies” are few. Troop strength to liberate is less than troop strength needed to subjugate and dominate. And in the geographical space, geopolitical timeline and historical underpinning of the state of Israel, any aggression by external entities requires an immediately spring boarded and easily mobilized military response by Israel for the survival of its citizenry. But it is the shadow boxing of active and real time intelligence with accurate analysis which makes or breaks all military plans in the end. Since Israel chose to enter Syrian air space last week, since there is believed to have been a surgical bombing raid, it is a reasonable extrapolation that actionable intelligence with concurrent threat assessment warranted the attack.
Iran has a big mouth with President Ahmadinejad speaking out of both sides. On the one hand he appears to be seeking a symbolic historic handshake from legendary President Eisenhower of the “Atoms for Peace” Program. “Peaceful nuclear capabilities” is what Iran seeks. But conversely, Ahmadinejad has made buffoonish remarks about obliterating Israel off the world map.
No one can be sure if Israel will ever crack a few of Iran’s teeth and rearrange her smile. But striking into Syrian airspace does put a chip into one of Iran’s incisors. With North Korea functioning as the latest loose cannon in the underground market for nuclear knock-offs, there is distinct reason for concern. The lowly little dirty bomb, can create a hell of a panic within the perimeter of its dispersal. Beyond the kill ratio which will effect the most vulnerable of the population (elderly and babies) any dirty bomb will present a distinct humanitarian disaster. A population effected by radiation sickness and the secondary immunosuppressive response will be hard to treat. (See page 7 of this link.)
Israel must maintain their intelligence-crouched military posture. They cannot afford to do otherwise. It is part of the package for a nation which resides within an enormously unstable geopolitical sector of the world. But should they ever move from crouch to pounce again as they did in the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, the flight will be swift and there will be no Joker dealt from the military deck of cards.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:22 AM
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Time to get our passports out and travel again. The international journalistic flight may not take off on Monday as I have a busy weekend with a conference in Dallas and some week-end call at the hospital, but we need to travel again onto the geopolitical stage. We may land in Israel or possibly Pakistan. India has had massive flooding with huge displacements of population, but that is another story. Japan and Russia bear watching. (Did you note the play on words with Russia and bear?) Keep your minds alert and always look at the bigger picture. The puzzle is always on the table and Tom and I will interlock a couple of pieces with our daily blogs, but we trust the readership to connect additional puzzle pieces with thoughts in the comments section.
Continue to read and let us know your areas of interest. This week my reading takes me to the writings of a former Chief Instructor of the Staff College in Quetta: Lt.Gen A. I. Akram. Move over Von Clausewitz. Very enjoyable reading. smile
Enjoy your Saturday!
Posted by tammyswofford at 7:48 AM
Friday, September 14, 2007
Is the road to Hell really paved in good intentions, or is it that the people asking for favors haven’t thought through what they were asking for?
The New York Times reported Hunt Oil’s exploration agreement in Dihok Governorate of the autonomous Kurdish area of Iraq could unravel the one thing the Iraqi parliament has done.
Just when the Bush administration is trying desperately to find some evidence the Iraqi national government has used the time the surge bought for it to act like a government, the petroleum law is in danger of dissolving.
Since the Norwegian oil company, DNO, has a production sharing agreement in the same governorate and has already found evidence of oil in several of the wells it has drilled, it seems unfair to blame Hunt if the Iraqi oil law unravels.
Oil exploration deals to friends run in the Bush family history.
Not always with the expected results. Almost the first thing George H. W. Bush did as Nixon’s envoy to the People’s Republic of China was to help his old friend, mentor, and business partner, Hugh Liedtke, get an exploration concession offshore China.
Ray L. Hunt, the president, chairman, and owner of Hunt Oil probably would have done well to consider what happened to Liedtke. His company, Pennzoil, spent a lot of money and didn’t find any oil. And, despite a $3 billion cash infusion from Texaco, Pennzoil is no longer an exploration and production company.
Hunt has benefited more directly from his support of George W. Bush’s campaigns. In addition to being twice named to the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Bush named James Oberwetter, the Hunt Oil public relations man, ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Hunt has oil production in Yemen, adjacent to Saudi Arabia. It is not known if Hunt benefited from the appointment.
Based on the Pennzoil experience, Hunt Oil would look like a candidate for a short, if it were publicly traded.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:26 AM
Thursday, September 13, 2007
In general, the ACLU strikes me as roach raiders seeking out their prey using VX gas instead of just a more dilute nerve gas such as used in your average pest control aerosol. Talk about reactors on overload. And they have certainly struck the nervous system of the local courthouse in Slidell, Louisiana.
The issue is not the quote within the walls of the courthouse. It reads, “To know peace, obey these laws.” It is the disturbing artist’s depiction accompanying the quote which must be removed. The depiction, is of Jesus Christ! Yowsa! I can just see the criminal mind at work. “I murdered the boss and snatched the cash from the vault. Not only did the police figure it out but now I am confronted with the fact that God knew about it all along too.” Surely we must not add to the mounting mental angst they are experiencing for being arrested and brought to trial to weigh their actions. The courtroom should contain fresh sprays of flowers, lavender aromatherapy candles and Perrier water.
Being rather clever, the courthouse staff just hammered a few new pictures on the wall with revolutionary fervor. Jesus is now surrounded by worthy peers: Charlemagne, Octavian, Hammurabi, et al. And to further solidify their right to expression, a copy of the Constitution now hangs within this space. A wall of courage. That is what I call the thing. We all know ACLU lawyers are just asbestos and tobacco lawyers in different suits. Can they just get a real job and defend us from pedophiles, rapists and axe murderers instead of dangerous pictures of Jesus?
But personally, I wish the Louisiana faithful would have chosen some other portraits to convey the message “To know peace, obey these laws.” What about a picture of an inmate crying when he receives a card with a picture of his newborn son? How about pictures of inmates lined up to get their venereal disease checked at the local county hospital? I have done such checks, with men in leg and arm irons with the deputy as a sentry to protect me. Believe me, the task is not pleasant and the men are not respectful during what is a professionally administered, quick trip up the urethra with a swab. How about a picture of victims who received justice in the court? Because beyond the halls of justice, prison bars await the guilty. And if a picture of Jesus bothers ya, I can think of a few more bothersome things which await the prison inmate. Wait until your suite mates put your boxers on backwards.
But to make it fun, what picture do you think would be appropriate with the caption, “To know peace, obey these laws”? Personally, a big picture of my mother would do the trick for me. She never let us get away with anything
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:37 AM
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
One thing is always true of the corrupt. They seek to corrupt the thoughts of others within a widening circle of influence to maintain both the viability and potency of their own message. Such is the case in the latest video release by Osama bin Ladin on the sixth anniversary of the attack on America. The physical attack on 9/11/2001 was unleashed under the direct command and control of Al-Qaedah. The video just moved into distribution is also a direct attack. This attack is coming in the realm of Psych-ops (psychological operations). You need to recognize it for what it is and not blow the thing off. This video was not produced with you, the readership of the West, in mind. It is released, to influence Muslims within their global community. What is presented also seeks out a distinct targeted demographic: The Shi’a Muslim community. Osama bin Ladin is making a direct appeal to the Shi’a Islamic brethren.
If you have not studied Islam and do not read books published by Islamic authors from the Middle East you will have missed the meaning of one statement within this text. For what looks subtle, passive and somewhat as an offhand compliment is no such thing. It is a challenge to the Shi'a community to form alliance with al-Qaedah. Read the following statement given by Osama bin Ladin regarding 9/11 hijacker Waleed al-Shehri:
“It is true that this young man was little in years but the faith in his heart was big.”
This statement regarding the hijacker, cuts to the heart of the Shi’a faith. It is a distinct throw back to the historical account of the conversion of Ali bin Abi Talib into the household of Islam. Muhammad gave this man the name Asadullah, which means "Lion of God". He was a young child at time of conversion, one of the first to accept Islam, commended for his faith, married into the household of Muhammad and ascending as head of state as the fourth Caliph. All Shi'a can recount the story of Ali and know that not only was he young, but also very stalwart in his defense and belief in Islam.
The Islamic world should grieve for that which Osama bin Ladin envisions for the future of their children. He seeks a caravan of martyrs. It is a world where blood can never satiate desire. It is a place where the legal right to self defense within Islamic jurisprudence moves through a bastardization process becoming predatory jihad and engaging war without conscience. War is hell by any definition. But when war is engaged by men devoid of conscience regarding the civilian population, hell is known by its depths. And in the jihadist doctrine of Osama bin Ladin, the boundaries of what it means to be a Muslim loses definition within an envelope of revolutionary thought as opposed to the wider compendium expressed within modern Islamic statecraft.
Sadly, Osama bin Ladin also engages a twisting of the tale to draw Shi’a Muslims into alliance to cleanse the world of the scourge of the West. And while the progeny of the one known as “The Lion of God” did indeed die a martyr’s death, Al-Husayn died within a battle space of his peers. He did not die, targeting the civilian population of a nation caught unawares. The Muslims bowing in Karbala will give accurate historical account as to the nature of the Battle of Karbala. Their commemorative remembrance "Ashura" honors their dead.
I do not agree with the recent Homeland Security advisor who states that Osama bin Ladin is “virtually impotent”. It is a gross mischaracterization to attempt to sideline such a dangerous individual with mere insulting remarks. The man remains a distinct threat, and operational capabilities are still in existence, as seen by recent thwarted plots. Al-Qaedah remains the big top tent under which smaller jihadist organizations reside and Osama bin Ladin is the ring master. He seeks a wider audience, and the greater the audience, the better the odds of success. In this video, he seeks a market capture of the Shi'a population.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:32 AM
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Are we safer than we were in 2001?
Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the 9/11 Commission, say, “No,” in an article in the Washington Post. Not only that, but they say we are spending our resources where we have no business being so we don’t have the resources to do what we should be doing.
For example, everybody’s worst nightmare is that al Qaeda gets hold of nuclear devices. Even the administration has talked about smoking guns becoming mushroom clouds. And yet, the FY 2008 budget is calling for a 15% decrease in funds for monitoring nuclear weapons.
Thanks to our handling the war in Iraq, Tehran now has greater influence over what is happening in Iraq than we do. Witness Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s recent threat that if the U.S. withdraws its troops, Iraq will be able to find friends elsewhere. Elsewhere is, of course, Iran.
This is the battlefield onto which General David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan H. Crocker have been thrust in an attempt to save the administration’s ever diminishing vision of victory in Iraq.
They were pressed into service when President Bush realized that he has no credibility with the American people when it comes to Iraq. A
New York Times/CBS News Poll proved that when it found that only 5% of the American people trust the Bush administration to resolve the war.
The administration is hoping Congress and the American people will see Petraeus and Crocker as honest brokers. However, as one commentator said on Saturday, “Bush waiting to find out what Petraeus says is like Edgar Bergen waiting to hear what Charlie McCarthy says.”
On top of that, considerable doubt has been spread about the numbers Patraeus is using to show that military progress has been made in Iraq. Last Friday,
Karen De Young of the Washington Post presented persuasive evidence that the military numbers are, at the very least, open to question.
So, what we seem to have is General Petraeus, working with statistics every bit as reliable as those General Colin Powell used at the U.N. General Assembly to argue for the war in the first place, attempting to argue for continuing to have 170,000 troops in Iraq. That sounds like a very tough sell, but nowhere nearly as tough as Ambassador Crocker’s. The ambassador must argue that while the Iraqi government failed to use the time the surge bought to become a functioning government, we have no choice but to keep those troops longer.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:13 AM
Monday, September 10, 2007
Situated along the slopes of the Darakeh neighborhood of northern Tehran, is Evin prison. With the snowy caps of the Alborz mountains further off to the north, it can be the only beautiful view which might be glimpsed by some of the luckier few within the tightly monitored prison population. The Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Justice keeps a tight wrap on the actual number of inmates housed at Evin. The head of the Prisons Organization keeps an even tighter wrap on the number of political prisoners. As such, there is also believed to be more positioning of political prisoners within the greater prison population in recent years, to keep the world guessing.
In 1979, members of the diplomatic staff of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran were placed into a hostage status after the security of our sovereign embassy grounds was breached without a shot fired in self defense. After being shuttled around a bit, C.I.A staff officer Bill Daugherty (see declassified document) and several others were placed in solitary confinement at Evin. These cells, with one small toilet, a small slot at the bottom of the door for food delivery, one light bulb dangling from a fifteen foot ceiling and a small eye level window through which the guard could view their subject, became their new quarters. Take three steps forward. Now turn around and take three steps back. This is the allotted space for incarcerated prisoners in solitary confinement at Evin.
American scholar Dr. Haleh Esfandiari also became an Evin “house guest” when the Minister of Justice of the Islamic Republic of Iran took up a case against her on behalf of the Iranian government. The Minister of Justice is equivilent to our U.S. Attorney General. Although Evin has a predominantly male inmate demographic it also supports two women’s units with the solitary unit in which Dr. Esfandiari was (most likely) held being the one situated underneath one of the men’s units and nearest the adjacent foothills. The women’s public unit which does not traditionally house political prisoners, is closer to the prison entry gate.
Although I am unfamiliar with the intricacies of the charges which were brought against Dr. Esfandiari it is apparent that she is much worse for the wear, after her long stint in solitary confinement. She had 105 days to reflect quietly on her life, when not being dragged to interrogations. The picture on the prior link, is pre-incarceration. The woman looks like an anorexic praying mantis now. Her own attorney was stonewalled from accessing her file. Supposedly Dr. Esfandiari denied the need for an attorney. And if the video is believable, she received treatment comparable to that of a paying client at a five star hotel. Unfortunately, her words are rushed and not measured, her smile not quite convincing. And although she somewhat overplays her hand in being charmingly convincing regarding her captors, it looks like she stayed at a 1/2 star or a falling star facility to me. But hey, I would say anything, including curse my own mother and declare myself a product of illegitimacy to get the hell out of Evin.
Incarceration of political prisoners as a means of dampening dissent does appear to be an operational facet of maintaining order against an increasingly restive Iranian population seeking change. But changes will be hard to come by in the Ahmadinejad administration which continues to maintain tight-fisted control of the public corridors of thought. For God's sake, don't say the word "pizza" in Tehran.
And in a world where free speech is not allowed, healthy society and free discourse of ideas must move into the underground to find expression. When free speech is considered counterrevolutionary, one man’s scholar is another man’s spy.
Posted by tammyswofford at 4:36 AM
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Friday, September 07, 2007
Duncan Hunter(R-CA) will never get my vote. That is unfortunate since he has done more than any other presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, has done for the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the 27-year House member from East San Diego has done more for the troops than all the brass hats and political hacks in the Pentagon.
Unhappily, that is not saying much. Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury, has done more for wounded Iraqi veterans than the Pentagon has. Unless you believe that “nothin’ says lovin’ like rats in the bedroom,” in which case, the Pentagon wins, hands down.
In 2004, Hunter was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. The troops, who were patrolling in Humvees with canvas sides and doors, were begging for armored vehicles to protect them from improvised explosive devices, roadside bombs. Secretary Rumsfeld ignored those entreaties by burbling on about going to war with the army you have, instead of the army you wanted.
Hunter recognized that for what it was and dispatched a senior aide to talk to the steelworkers and their unions. The aide pointed out that the armor they were making was for the troops, and the steelworkers came through. They delivered the armor seven months ahead of the Pentagon’s schedule. The Army said steel shortages and commercial manufacturing backlogs would not permit delivery in less than a year.
No big deal, really. Everybody knows Labor supports the troops. All anyone had to do was to ask. The ticket punched time-servers in the Pentagon were just too busy to bother. If left to the Pentagon, a lot more dead Americans would be sneaked into Dover and San Francisco than have been.
Fortunately for the 140,000 potential Gold Star Mothers with sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congress is there to push the brass hats into doing what they are supposed to be doing.
The disconnection between the troops on the ground and Pentagon is so severe that the troops, soldiers and Marines, have scrapped the chain of command in favor of going directly to Congress. That is, of course, terrible for discipline, and, if unchecked, would have lead to a destruction of the U.S. military very similar to the one it suffered after Vietnam. Secretary of Defense Gates seems to have gotten the message. He probably is not playing as much squash in the Pentagon’s gym as Rumsfeld did, but, two years after Marines in Anbar province requested Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, more than 8,000 have been ordered. The Pentagon is still dragging its feet on the next generation of vehicles, those designed to protect against explosively formed penetrators, molten metal explosives that can penetrate armor. One such prototype vehicle, named the bull, was sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds for evaluation, where it was promptly lost.
Perhaps the Pentagon’s procurement pogues ought to start making condolence calls, attending funerals and visiting the maimed vets whose wounds were the result of inadequate protection from roadside bombs. God knows they are not doing anything else.
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:58 AM
Thursday, September 06, 2007
The man and the woman sat together talking, discussing and exploring their feelings, trying to arrive at a decision they could live with. The subject of their discussion was their daughter, and the decision was whether to continue the life support system that sustained her, or to terminate it. Without that system, she would die. If they continued it, she would eventually be able to live without it, but the problem would not end there.
“The doctor says about four more months,” the woman said, “but then she’s going to be totally dependent for a long time. She’ll be incontinent, unable to speak, to feed herself or care for herself in any way. She won’t even be able to turn herself in the bed for the first few weeks. I’m going to have to quit work and stay home to care for her, for who knows how long. I’m not sure I can handle that, and it’s just not fair. I have a life to live, too.”
“I know,” the man answered. “It really is a lot to ask of you. She’s going to be virtually helpless for at least two years, and will require continuing care and training and supervision for years, in the best case. Of course, we don’t have any guarantee that she’ll ever achieve an independent state. Some of them don’t, I guess. She could be a burden forever, for all we know. It wouldn’t be so bad if we knew for sure that she would eventually be able to assume her own care.”
“That’s right,” said the woman. “It’s still a very tough decision to make, though. Sometimes I think it was easier back in the days when terminating life support in a potentially viable person was still illegal. People didn’t have to think about it then - they just followed the road set before them, played the hand that was dealt them, so to speak.”
“Yes, but look at the result in a lot of those cases. People had the financial burden for years, somebody had to sacrifice their own pursuits to care for the person, and some - can you imagine - even turned them over to someone else to care for. How irresponsible that was! No, I really think it’s better this way. The way she is right now, she can’t think or feel, and certainly can’t make a decision of her own, so it’s really up to us. I think we should do it.”
“I guess you’re right,” the woman said thoughtfully. “We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? There was a time when we thought we had to keep everyone alive, no matter how inconvenient it might have been. I suppose I’m really glad it isn’t that way anymore. Now a thinking, responsible family member can make the decision for them, and surely that’s the way it should be. Yes, I really think you’re right. I’m going to call the doctor right now and tell him I’m ready to proceed with the abortion."
Lanni Fish, RN
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:07 AM
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Some stories are so unbelievable that they stun mankind in their capacity to deliver a psychological shock. Peering into the darkness which exists along the margins of the soul of man is a difficult thing for those of us who lead gentle lives. As a nurse, I fall into such category. But we need to consider what defines humanity, and for that matter, any right to the breath of life. Here is the story. It has been somewhat buried by mainstream media, and for that reason it is brought to your attention on the blog. It is presented in a more modernistic slant. Please read the links at the end of the blog for context.
It seems there were fraternal twin girls who were quite close. Close enough in fact, that they shared the same room, enjoyed the same diet and liked an ambient tropical climate. One morning, the twin who was more beloved by the other, found that she had a life-altering disability in the works. It was Huntington’s Chorea. Human genome mapping and advanced testing methods had allowed for changes in government policy. Although seemingly harsh, the changes were recognized by all as necessary for the greater good of society. This twin was informed that she had only days to report to a center where skilled professionals would bring her life to an early end. It was necessary, to stamp out this blight of weakness on humanity. The gene had been identified as one which was targeted for obliteration from the pool of man. It was hoped that within two decades the gene could be completely eradicated from industrialized nations. The less civilized and technologically advanced nations could wait a bit longer for this ray of hope in the new world which was dawning.
The twins were fairly close in looks. And the testing center was a separate facility from the processing center where the one slated for death was to report for her appointment. The one twin who did not carry the targeted gene could not bear the thought of living without the person who was so much a part of her life, possessing so much in common. She also knew that as the stronger of the two, intervention would depend on her. Quickly, she hatched her plan. She paid for forged documents, even taking care to remember to wear the same outfit her twin had worn at the testing site. The day came and she drugged her sister's cup of coffee. When she collapsed she put her to bed and kissed her gently on the forehead. She did not leave a note. She knew her sister would understand. Steeling her nerves she drove to the processing center. A neighbor, would deliver the news, long after she was gone.
The post-mortem immediately determined that a fraud had been cleverly perpetuated on the professional staff. The remaining twin was still sleeping off the remains of the narcotic and benzodiazepine combination when the knock came on the door for her. Frightened, casting around her gaze to give her sister one last hug, she was allowed to leave a small handwritten note for her sibling. The next day, both were buried side-by-side in an unmarked grave.
Link from the New York Times
Link from Zenit
Posted by tammyswofford at 6:55 AM
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The more we learn about the Bush administration, the less we understand. Apparently, the White House has been riven by dissent on many issues. While it is not clear that the president was aware of the debates that were raging below stairs,Rove and the President did mix it up on a number of issues.
For a long time, we have been told that Karl Rove was “Bush’s Brain,” political genius who orchestrated all four of Bush’s victories. Yet, now, mere days after Rove’s departure from the White House, The Washington Post reports that Robert Draper says Rove opposed the selection of Richard B. Cheney as vice president on the grounds that, “Selecting Daddy’s top foreign-policy guru ran counter to message. It was worse than a safe pick—it was needy.”
Surely even George W. Bush’s most avid supporters would have to admit that if Bush had a glaring weakness as a national candidate, it was in foreign policy.
The snap quiz that produced “the Grecians” and Bush’s inability to name Musharraf as the leader of Pakistan demonstrated that. One would think that a brilliant political strategist would have seen that and would have militated for an addition to the ticket to make up for that gap. That, in fact, is how Cheney was sold to the electorate.
The Bush-Cheney relationship will probably be the key to understanding the Bush presidency. Bush picked Cheney over the strenuous objections of his campaign manager, the man charged with getting Bush elected. Then, once elected, Bush gave Cheney unfettered control of anything Cheney wanted to control. Never in history has a vice president assumed such powers. Not even when a president has been incapacitated, as was Woodrow Wilson when his wife and doctor took over the government.
This view is at odds with one presented by Joshua Green in the September Atlantic (subscription required). Green claims that, aside from “No Child Left Behind" and tax cuts, the rest of Bush’s domestic policies were Karl Roves. Thus emerges a picture of Cheney running foreign policy and Rove running domestic policy.
There is reason to doubt that Draper has got the story straight, even though Dead Certain: The presidency of George Bush, is based on unprecedented presidential access. Supreme Court Chief Justice, John G. Roberts, Jr. denied through a spokeswoman that he suggested that Bush name Harriet Meiers to the Supreme Court, as Draper says he did.
On the other hand, Draper may have found the key to understanding the Bush presidency. In talking about what he will do after his second term, The New York Times says Bush told him, “I’ll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol’ coffers.” And, “we’ll have a nice place in Dallas,” from which he will run, “a fantastic Freedom Institute.” “I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch.” That doesn’t sound like a terribly committed person. A further idea of just how disengaged Bush has been occurred when Draper asked him about the decision to disband the Iraqi army. The administration policy was that the army was to stay in place, but L. Paul Bremer, on his own authority, decided to disband it.
Bush tells Draper, "The policy was to keep the army intact; didn’t happen.” Draper asked Bush how he reacted to what most people would see as an act of gross insubordination by Bremer, Bush says, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy, what happened?’ ” But, he added, “Again, Hadley’s got notes on all of this stuff.”
Is it any wonder that the Secret Service spends an inordinate amount of time scouting out suitable bike trails for the President?
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:27 AM
Monday, September 03, 2007
Seated under the shade of Al-Quran, Muqtada al-Sadr exhibits the boisterous exuberance of a man who is confident that the whole pie belongs to Allah. And the way he sees it, Iraq is his slice of the pie. He has the lineage, the political leverage and a nice support system in place. These three things give him tremendous maneuverability in running a para-parliamentary government alongside the legally recognized government headquartered in Baghdad.
Early on we discounted this young firebrand of a cleric. Although coming from a dynastic religious family he was initially seen as a bit of a rabble-rouser, to be dealt with much like all aspiring clerics who wanted a piece of the action. When it was learned that Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani was headed to London early in August 2004 for heart surgery, the young al-Sadr swung into play. Counterplay included unrelenting ground assaults and nightly aerial attacks on the Mahdi Army positions. By August 25th, the police chief of Najaf proclaimed, "The Mahdi Army is finished". It was felt that the young man had been sufficiently chastised and humiliated and that the Grand Ayatollah would now be able to keep him at bay. I somewhat believed the same, when seeing al-Sistani make his way back from London pushed along in his wheelchair. The man had the look of someone who was about to open up and rain down the final blows on Muqtada al-Sadr's back. He gave the call for all good Shi'a to march against the insolent young cleric. These were still heady days, days of hope. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) was busy holding court and giving his fair share of interviews, networking with ex-pats and close friends. He had taken over his post after the August 2003 death of his brother, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, due to a car bombing in Najaf. Al-Sadr was just a small fly in the ointment. There were elections coming up, SCIRI intended to make a clean sweep of the thing. Interim Prime Minister Allawi also did his schtick and extended a bit of customary courtesy and recommended to Al-Sadr that he engage the political process. Having suffered a vicious attack against his own life, Allawi knew that the political axe was better than the physical axe which was taken to his body years ago in London. It had laid him up in a hospital for nearly a year. He still suffered the residual effects of a limp.
But Muqtada al-Sadr was not about to limp along with him. In Islam, martyrdom of those with name recognition is the seed of political power for the next generation of aspiring progeny. The trump card was in Muqtada al-Sadr’s hand. It was hidden from our view, but the young cleric saw opportunity. And in a world where de facto "head of state" gain legitimacy from the Qur'an, men such as al-Sadr rule within a parallel universe while awaiting the final recognition "on the ground". For in Islam the right to rule does not come from the will of the people. It springs from the will of Allah. Muqtada al-Sadr read from the script and became the actor on the stage. His own curtains opened and he became the protaganist with the death of his father and two siblings. In 1999 al-Sadr’s father, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr and two sons were assassinated in a hail of machine gun fire in the city of Najaf. For a season, the frightened Muqtada went into hiding with probably not much more than a siwak and a Qur’an. This was a time of political seasoning and honing of skills for the young cleric. This was also a useful time of solidifying his own alliances and consolidating power. It is the model of the Prophet Muhammad and the plan has worked for centuries. The U.S. move into Iraq merely gave him a defined mission and enemy and his father’s legacy provided the political currency.
Announcing in the city of Kufa that he was establishing a religious army, he gave his militia the name Al-Mahdi. This is after the twelfth Imam, who is in occultation and will return to gloriously emancipate Shi’a Muslims everywhere. His army belonged to God. Divine legitimacy from the start. And it was formed, to come against the 25 member Governing Council set up by the “unbelievers”. With an initial troop strength of less than one thousand, his men set out upon a vigorous course of public relations to restore order to the newly established Sadr City (Madinat al-Sadr). Public works projects restored electricity, water supplies were secured and infrastructure repairs were made.
Wanting to show his strict adherence to belief there also began to be public beatings of individuals who wore Western clothing, or engaged singing and dancing. Liquor stores were put out of business and cigarettes became a distinct “no no” based on a Hadith of the Prophet. Muqtada al-Sadr also established his own religious seminary, although still considered fairly under-schooled himself in Islamic jurisprudence by Islamic scholars with Ph.D's in Islamic law.
In about three years the al-Mahdi militia has grown to an estimated troop strength of approximately 60,000. Muqtada al-Sadr has secured a large network of mosques under his control which function as political activation pods for the masses. He is well received in Tehran and has kept his neck out of the noose by scurrying back and forth to Iran for advice. Pictures of the deceased Grand Ayatollah Khomeini grace the streets of Sadr City. Life is good, for Muqtada al-Sadr.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:42 PM
Saturday, September 01, 2007
The month of August shows the following: The readership came from thirty-six countries/territories and average time on site was 8:26. Our gratitude is extended to each of you who continue to read and pass along this site.
From the weird zone, if you will go to www.tammyswofford.com it appears someone has a domain name which redirects to car sales. No, I am not selling cars. No, I am not the Tammy F. Swofford on Google who works for NASA. My middle initial is "L".
For nice weekend reading look at this link for "Fire and Ice". It is the site of CWO Michael Fay, USMCR He is one of three Marine Corps combat artists and his work is outstanding. Some of you will probably recognize "Fire and Ice" as a piece of poetry written by Robert Frost. "Fire and Ice" is my favorite, from his body of work.
Next week I am not sure where Tom Gordon will land in what he writes. As for myself, we will revisit Iraq again. But this time let's look at one of the players on the chess board who has the maneuverability of a knight. Let's examine why his influence is so great. We will also look at medical ethics. Beyond that, who knows? Tom and I can start out the week in one direction, but breaking news is always tantalizing to both of us. As always, continue to let us know what interests you.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:07 AM