"Give ear to my words, oh Lord. Consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God. For unto Thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning. Oh Lord, in the morning, will I direct my prayer, unto Thee and will look up."
It is with a grateful posture that I consider again a simple echo from the writings of King David. Gentle admonition works best with most of us. So as we move into our weekend it is good to remember that we should give attentiveness to the details of our lives, consider and meditate on the correct course of action, acknowlege God and then, look up. smile
-Blackfoot did a stunning job with the editor-at-large assignment to cover the Palin family. The only editorial restraint was to block from view any mention of Bristol Palin. People Magazine did a feature story on Bristol and unwed motherhood recently. The pop culture glamourization of a societal ill, unwed teen pregnancy, is overshadowed by a harsh reality. The vast majority of teen mothers sustain limited options and decreased cash flow. The majority enter into semi-dependency as wards of the state to meet the healthcare, childcare, and nutritional needs of their babies. That being said, the Swofford team considers babies a blessing. smile
Did you catch the Frontline coverage of Swat Valley earlier this week? The book-ended portions were excellent. I was not particularly impressed with the middle segment covering the disappearance of a journalist. The editing was too choppy.
Bob Miller's pace has slowed enough within the executive suite to allow a Monday blog. Expect his usual pithy writing. Tom Gordon has escaped the state of Texas for a week. -Blackfoot will cover Wednesday. Dr. Jeff, will soon return. You will see a post for "Islamic Distance Learning" this week with a book review from Persian literature.
The Swofford Team
Saturday, May 30, 2009
"Give ear to my words, oh Lord. Consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God. For unto Thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning. Oh Lord, in the morning, will I direct my prayer, unto Thee and will look up."
Friday, May 29, 2009
A queasy feeling hit the pit of my stomach when this little bit of news was released. The President of Iran issued his challenge. Hopefully, the White House staff ran for cover.
Should the U.N. should ever host a debate between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Barack Obama you will find me dangling off the nearest bridge begging that polite hand-shaking Chinese man to go ahead and give me the final push.
While I consider Ahmadinejad in the category of "strong as an ape and half as smart" when it comes to the acerbic criticism blazing from between his jaws, our own President would not stand a chance. He would be publicly gutted and then every one of his organs would be politically harvested and used for Iran's best interest.
The truth of the matter is the White House cadre of speech writers is well-suited for the prose of peace, but insufficiently skilled to produce a level of wordcrafting which provides the necessary armor for our Commander-in-Chief to withstand the verbal evisceration of a street-smart Ahmadinejad. The phrase "wounded in battle" comes to mind.
During the election cycle Senator Barack Obama didn't break a sweat in the debate arena. His own political camp cast Senator John McCain as an irrelevant warrior from the past. We must also remember that the one much-anticipated debate between McCain and Obama was moderated by none other than the Oprah-with-testicles. Rick Warren's own Kumbaya karma and inaccurate assessments while in Syria made him the perfect backdrop for a presidential hopeful with little foreign policy grasp of his own. If you excel in one area, stick to that area. Rick Warren is good for books read on the couch. His message is one of Western blessing and inspirational vision. He should stand aside, from foreign policy issues. He has no expertise in the field.
There is no need for a debate between president Mahmoud Ahamdinejad of Iran and President Barack Obama. The things which need to be accomplished between our nations will happen behind closed doors. And may these things happen with the right combination of players on each side of the negotiation table.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
There are no illusions among today's troops that they have been treated as expendable resources. The visible war wounds are not as deep as the emotional scars a war veteran bears. Plenty of both were in attendance. Bright-eyed Begich is on the Armed Forces Committee and Committee on Veterans' Affairs. I truly hope he can affect positive change for our military members, past and present.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Thursday, May 21, started earlier than usual for a group of men and women who are serving our country in uniform. Three military buses filled with Army and Air Force personnel who are serving at their stations at Ft. Richardson and Elmendorf AFB arrived at the Harbormaster's Office in Seward shortly before 0500 for the 3rd Annual Combat Fishing Tournament.
The 130+ mile distance between Anchorage and the cozy seaside town of Seward is scenic and often provides good opportunities for wildlife viewing. To ensure a safe journey, state and local law enforcement escorted the troops. I'm guessing there were a few naps on the buses after the "hurry up and wait" reality of our Armed Forces, as boarding time was 0030. The skills you gain in the military include being able to eat fast and to sleep anywhere.
Seward is one of those places where it's difficult to have a bad time. You can camp, fish, hike up Mt. Marathon or up to Exit Glacier, or visit the SeaLife Center. I have a friend who has his boat in a (pricey and long-awaited) slip there. If you're not adventurous enough or solvent enough (BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand) to have your own, there are numerous charter companies with whom you can go out. [My favorite charter service.]
On this particular day, as a part of Military Appreciation Week, charter captains donated their time, fuel, and waived the client fees for approximately 240 fine young men and women to enjoy a day on the sea in hunt of halibut, rockfish, and other species. (The city of Seward picked up the taxes.) Most seats start at around $200. The average boats carry 8-10 guests. You do the math.
The water was choppy, with 4 to 6 ft. swells. It was chilly and rained off and on all day. But as we say in Alaska: "A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work." The first-time ocean fishers who forgot their Dramamine might beg to differ, and there were quite a few who lost their breakfast before withdrawing to the boat cabins to sleep. (Remember that "sleep anywhere" skill.) Overall, everyone had fun.
Back at the port, every participant chose a fish to enter into the tournament. The winning halibut weighed in at 183.4 lbs. My considerably smaller halibut will be shared out among family and friends. Even if I ended up with no meat in my freezer, the day was a great reminder of the debt we owe to the people who protect our freedoms and our American way of life.
I saw Todd Palin before heading out and wished him a good day. He wished me the same. I had a great day, but it seems his might have been a bit better with his 146.6 lb. halibut catch.
ADN's liberal Outdoors Section writer, Craig Medred, was way off base in his report. Palin might have had an idea that this was a "big one", but you never know it's a trophy until you bring it to the surface, which requires a couple of hundred feet of hard reeling. His fish was not secreted away, as Medred stated. It was weighed on his host charter's set of scales instead of the tournament scales, which remained busy with a line of official entries. To imply that Palin would bend the rules of the tournament and break the laws of the sea is malicious. Calling his sizable haul "the punier of fish" reeks of ill will. Congrats on the great catch, Todd!
If Medred had been there, he would have known that the grand prize was $10,000 cash. The $20k credit at a local car dealership was last year's prize. Also, that the winner MSgt. Brent Johnson was with Aurora Charters, not Saltwater Safari. However, let me confirm that Governor Palin did indeed attend the banquet.
Todd Palin was not merely there as a "celebrity" as Medred wrote, but was there in support of our troops. The Palins might not be everybody's cup of tea, but they have a strong work ethic, a deep love of Alaska and America, and high esteem and support of our Armed Forces. Many of these soldiers have made footprints in which their son Track is walking. I know the Palins looked at the sea of young faces and saw what I saw. If you don't know what I'm talking about: It's in the eyes.
Thanks to the founders of this program Bob Candopolous and Keith Manternach; the Armed Forces YMCA and MWR; the fishing charter community; the City of Seward; law enforcement; to Captain Jack's for processing, freezing and shipping the fish to Anchorage; BP and Lucky Wishbone Restaurant for providing lunch for everyone; and to all of the volunteers and prize donors. Also thanks to the Powers That Be for giving these kids a day off in the middle of the week.
Most of all: Thank you, men and women of our military. Your service to our nation is what allows us to enjoy the freedom to travel down scenic byways and to feel safe when fishing in domestic waters. It was my privilege to spend time with you last Thursday. You are the foundation of our freedom and the cornerstones of our country. May God bless you and keep you safe. And if you didn't do it last Thursday, may you catch a monster next time!
-Blackfoot and Family
Check in tomorrow for a glimpse of the banquet that followed, including photos and video of Governor Sarah Palin, Todd and their son Trigg.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The editorial team is engaged in other activities and coming off a three day weekend. I am in need of a research day to tie up loose ends on things which I am pursuing. -Blackfoot will return on Wednesday and Thursday.
Do read something of interest today and we look forward to your return to our site. smile
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:00 AM
Monday, May 25, 2009
*Almost 75,000 men are still listed as missing in action or not recovered from World War II.
*About 32,000 of them served in the Navy. At least 80 percent of those cases are deep-water losses that will never be recovered.
Fort Worth Star Telegram, 24 May 2009
One rainy, and cold winter day Chief Jeffrey Snell and I made our way to a home in Fort Worth to pay our respects to Richard Don Simms. The only child of his father, he has spent many years functioning as a historian of the USS Franklin, archiving items and news articles from the battle in which his father and many other sailors fought. As in many other shipboard engagements across the Pacific theater of operation some of these men gave their lives for our country and their bodies to the sea. They left behind parents, wives and children to mourn their loss. Many thousands of families were left with telegrams, letters and memories. But they were unable to bury their kin in a manner which bestows a measure of psychological comfort.
Chief Jeffery Snell, USN has laid many a sailor to rest with proper military honor. You may click on his name to find his four-part series on military tradition.
Today, this Naval Officer wishes to extend her gratitude to every family who has lost without recovery, a Navy sailor engaged in a battle on the seas.
Omer Dee Simms
LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR, NC
Sunday, May 24, 2009
What government agency is paid to assure that your environment does not become chemically toxic?
What government agency is paid to assure that your environment does become chemically toxic?
These are not trick questions. But for Colleen Hauser and her son Daniel, the answer to the second question, is Brown County family services (of Minnesota). This agency has been granted custodial care of Daniel to assure that he hooks up with a pediatric oncologist and receives chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma. Colleen prefers to offer her son an alternative medicine route. This case is now bigger than the question at hand. Interpol, is also looking for these dangerous fugitives.
Yes, I am intentionally provoking you, but with good reason. I have a personal friend whose sixth grade son was laid to rest after a long battle with leukemia. He received several rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, and yes, alternative treatment at a clinic in Mexico prior to his demise. Desperate mothers, do desperate things.
(Educational note: Certain chemotherapeutic agents administered by intravenous infusion must be handled with gloves by the R.N. hanging the dose.)
So while the EPA scurries around tasked with tackling a national bedbug epidemic and toxic chemicals in our environment, a mother from Minnesota is hiding out somewhere in Mexico against a governmental intrusion epidemic.
Third question: Is parental authority a God-given right?
Do you have the right to make decisions for your child regarding their care? Does that right extend to medical treatment options? Problematic is how technological advance creates greater ethical dilemma. If Daniel Hauser was a poor child in Ghana, West Africa we would not be having this discussion. When in Ghana, I examined ear drums with charcoal dust in them to cure ear infection and those mothers certainly loved their children. Charcoal dust was what they had, and what they believed would work. If we had a small child in a clinic in America with a charcoal dust treatment would we call CPS?
Colleen Hauser is not a monster. There is no way this nurse can cast her in such light. The gender which carries and births the baby, and suckles the neonate has a strong pull toward the child. It is called maternal instinct. Colleen’s protective instinct has kicked in on high enough level that she is risking it all, to retain the right to custody of her own child. She is not a criminal. But there is no doubt, she is a mother.
(Editors note: My child would undergo chemotherapy. I support Colleen’s right to choose for her own son.)
Saturday, May 23, 2009
-Blackfoot called me at work today and yes, we have the photos and we have the video! Covering Todd and Sarah Palin can be a tough assignment but tracking is what -Blackfoot does best. Whether attending a military event at which Sarah addresses the troops or seeing Todd weigh his latest fishing trophy, our editor at large has been hard at work. So next week, expect the best of the blog!
As the cult followers of the Swofford Team will recall, we profiled the dark horse vice presidential candidate of the Republican party long before others knew Sarah Palin existed. It is our hope that we will continue to provide the occasional surprise on the blog.
Previous Blackfoot Blog Photography
The Swofford Team
Friday, May 22, 2009
Of course torture does work on some people. I am sure that if anyone threatened to be rude to Richard Bruce Cheney, nobody would be able to shut him up. That’s the way it is with bullies, cowards and other people of weak or non-existent character.
Cheney talks incessantly about 9/11, clearly one of the biggest blunders any administration ever committed.
“Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that he been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated,” Cheney says. There’s our Dick. Ever ready to lock the barn door after the horse is out. Wonder why he didn’t figure it out before. Maybe he didn’t know that somebody had already bombed the
Cheney, who had an opportunity to learn first hand about Arab capabilities and organizational skills as CEO of Halliburton, clearly failed to realize that the simultaneous car bombings of
There is an obvious reason why Cheney flunked out of Yale in his freshman year. The same reason he couldn’t figure out what “Bin Laden will launch a significant attack against
Even Cheney must realize that he blundered in 2001. Being Cheney, it never occurred to him to accept responsibility for his incompetence. Of course not; that takes character. Instead, Cheney devoted the rest of his life to finding someone else to blame and flouting the Constitution that he had sworn to protect. His word is worthless. When his pal Rumsfeld, with his hallmark incompetence, let bin Laden slip out of Tora Bora, it was suddenly discovered that Saddam Hussein had ties to the terrorists, a claim Cheney still makes even though everyone in the world with any knowledge of the situation can’t believe that anyone would say such a stupid thing. Hussein spent his entire career killing people before they got powerful enough to pose a threat. An al Qaeda Hussein link would have been the equivalent of Stalin helping Hitler.
Naturally, there were no weapons and no link, but since Cheney had said there were, extraordinary measures had to be taken to prove he was not the dangerous incompetent that he is.
Cheney claims that torture, unreasonable search and spying, disregard for habeas corpus and most of the rest of the Bill of Rights except the Second Amendment have stopped attacks on this country. Poppycock! The fantasies of a truck driver with no explosives experience about blowing up bridges and the fantasies of a group of pizza delivery guys around
Cheney talks about the “lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel.” But, or course, everybody knows the interrogations were not handled by CIA personnel.
They left that to contractors with no interrogation expertise. Either Cheney doesn’t know what is happening or, like Hitler, he thinks that if you tell a big enough lie, no one will challenge it.
Coming from someone who was too cowardly to serve in the military at all, the denigration of the serving officers who sacrificed their careers to oppose torture as indulging in “contrived indignation and phony moralizing” is enough to gag a maggot.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
From chandeliers, to hubby's vast porn film collection, to things as simple as a rubber bathtub plug, members of the British Parliament have been living the good life! Seems our trans-Atlantic cousins have within their midst the same thieving public servants with which we deal in our own halls of power-n'-abuse-of-power. Good for PM Gordon Brown for proclaiming that legal arsenic shall be dispensed to rid government of the rats. The Brits are mad as hell regarding the wanton thievery by their "public servants". Their outrage and the backlash should be an example to Americans who threw one dud of a little Tea Party, with negligible results.
But back to the story at hand.... There is a two-for-one combo when it comes understanding The Ten Commandments. If you are stealing, you lie about it. Same if you are knocking up your neighbor's wife. You lie about it. If you murder someone, you CERTAINLY lie about it.
So it should come as no surprise that as each hand is caught in the cookie jar, the person with the filched cookie, lies about it. I have one son who would lie when caught in the very act of a transgression when he was young. I am about to ship him to jolly England to run for office. He will be in his environment. smile But should any of us tolerate a robbery crime syndicate within the elected governmental body? Corruption is a cancer which must be excised. In this case, forget the blade, bring in the laser, Britain needs a cleaner cut.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is wise to run the rats off the wharf. But as we all know, it won't be too many months before a smarter breed of rat makes his or her way back into Parliament where the good times roll.... at taxpayer expense.
The sweat of the British brow pays for.... doggie bones.
Perks for Thieves
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I had the opportunity to check out the latest Ron Howard/Tom Hanks movie "Angels and Demons" over the weekend. The best part of it for me was the spectacular scenery. Even some of the fabricated backdrops and props were believably entertaining. Rome has a rich and complex history. When done well, fictional accounts of ancient and modern Rome are worth a watch. Even when being sent up in satire, like [imdb] "History of the World, Part I", ancient Rome is, put simply, damn interesting to modern Americans. I was sorry to see the series "Rome" end, but I guess that's why God invented DVDs. I never get tired of "Ben Hur" or "Spartacus". Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?
Following closely was the interpretation of the dogma of the Catholic Church. Without spoiling the plot, there was dialogue concerning the keeping of the centuries old traditions in these modern times. I wonder how many lengthy, free consultations Howard's friend Mel Gibson provided during filming. Like the U.S. Constitution and the British monarchy, religious leaders make the decision whether to stand firm on age-old tenets or to adapt to the ever-changing ebbs and flows of civilization.
My religious beliefs have been pretty much the same as when I was young. I believe Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior. As an adult I can appreciate the historical accounts and archaeological artifacts that substantiate the stories of the Bible. It's a beautiful thing when religion and science can come together in agreement of Biblical events. But if you need physical evidence to prove your faith, don't step out of the boat, Peter.
I respect other people's religious beliefs. Maybe that's a product of being an American. There are truly good qualities in most of the world's major religions: Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and more. It's healthy to be aware of the ideologies of our neighbors in the world. I have Catholic friends, but I know it is not a good fit for me. Islamic ideology is not all bad, but I know I will not be converting anytime soon.
I did, however, buy my first Koran at the local mega-bookstore. It's not anything fancy. It's not leather bound with gold lettering and vellum paper. Just a simple paperback that could pass for the latest Dan Brown novel. What is interesting is when I flipped it open to a random page, to get a feel for the font and wording, the passage to which I turned told me that Jesus was not the Messiah. I had to buy it for that reason, and also to help me put into context the passages Ms. Swofford occasionally cites. Her research and writings help to remind us that devout Muslims are not all extremists.
While I plan to be praying at the church of the spawning salmon river this summer, my Bible will often be in my right hand. When I have some extra time and am in the mood for light reading, I may turn to my new Koran. Now, that's a sentence I never thought I'd say. Thanks, Swofford.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
*To begin to grow or develop
*To develop into a plant or individual
*To cause to come into existence; create
Sunday, May 17, 2009
“Flying over the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, command
post during the “Bunker Hill” holocaust was a
green brocade banner depicting the Archangel Michael,
his feet resting on the vanquished hammer and
sickle of Communism. Lt. Col. G. T. Armitage, battalion
commander, deciding that his men needed to be
reminded of the dependence of their cause on God,
secured permission from Headquarters, Marine Corps,
to fly the banner. Designed by Capt. J. B. Ord, a
company commander, it was embroidered by Korean
children in the Star of the Sea Roman Catholic orphanage
at Inchon. On 25 July the Roman Catholic
personnel of the battalion were dedicated to the protection
of St. Michael, and each company furnished a
burgee of the banner. Capt. H. J. O’Conner, a company
commander, commented : “Regardless of their
creed, our men felt the banner to be a very personal incentive.”
Flown for the first time at “Bunker Hill,”
the flags accompanied the battalion in subsequent actions
and were still flying when the guns at last grew
still across Korea. When the original had become battleworn
beyond repair, it was duplicated by wives of
Korean Marines and the tattered relic sent to Marine
Corps Headquarters.” July 25th, 1952
*History of the Chaplains Corps, Part III
In remembering our military history it is good to reflect that it is not faith which moves the Marine, Sailor or Soldier toward the battle line; but it can be faith, which sustains them through the battle. Our men and women do not march to war under any command other than that of our Commander in Chief. But our traditions allow for faith to accompany to the battle. For that, our branches of service have a vibrant Chaplaincy Corps.
The soldier cannot will himself an agnostic or an atheist at the behest of his nation. He can only will the testament of his blood. That is what we do, nothing more and nothing less. Yet personal displays of faith such as the historical rendering above are fast fading in light of current realities.
For our enemies, those cut from the cloth of Al-Qaedah and all other Muslim terror organizations, any display of a personal faith within the battlespace whether a soldier with his personal Bible or seated in a circle to pray with others of like belief, is used to set the dye to their design. I have spent the weekend portal-jumping through jihadi sites and shared files of jihadists. Enough is enough. Let’s talk about these issues on Tuesday. The blog will be down on Monday as I continue a bit of research on the topic at hand.
Colonel Armitage, USMC (Ret)
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The president of the University of Notre Dame has it diagrammed all wrong. The Rev. John Jenkins C.S.C. proclaims he is a resolute man. But his resolve to choose this particular battlefield as his proving ground will backfire. And so it should. Standing firm in the decision to allow President Barack Obama to both deliver a commencement address and also receive an honorary degree is a bad decision for more than one reason. Dr. Alan Keyes arrest, and protesters pushing baby strollers with bloody dolls across the Notre Dame campus are displays of passionate conviction. Yet they distract from the key issue, which goes deeper than that of abortion.
When institutional tradition bows to popular culture and the demands of greater society the social net of the community becomes frayed. Notre Dame represents a microcosm of the universal Body of Christ. In this case, the Body of Christ as represented by the Catholic Church. Foundational to communal belief is sanctity of life. President Barack Obama disdains the pro-life tradition, having stated during his campaign that should one of his own daughters become pregnant, he would not have them endure being “punished with a baby”. Let that little thought sink in a bit. He has consistently placed himself firmly within the abortion industry community.
Rev. Jenkins falls under a religious chain of command structure with a stance which has withstood assault without capitulation on the issue of sanctity of life. But now, the capitulation comes from a symbolic representation of Christ. The teaching of the Catholic Church forbids abortion and embryonic stem cell research. President John Jenkins is paid to uphold this standard. It does not matter how the student body feels about this issue. It is he, who falls under a chain of command. As such, his duty to uphold the traditions of his church has faltered.
Barack Obama's values
Rev. John Jenkins
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thank you, SCOTUS! You have taken away an inexpensive and easy to administer law enforcement tool against illegal aliens. It doesn't matter if "Benito Juarez" is really "Pancho Villa" running an identity theft ring from his home. Neither does it matter that the illegal alien is a pack mule for a drug cartel. Nary a concern, that he may be something quite a bit more dangerous, such as a two-legged courier delivering the last necessary component to give us all hair loss before our bone marrow is sucked dry from the after-effects of a dirty bomb.
Naturally, those living within expensive gated communities across America have little worry regarding the illegal alien other than hoping that their maid, cook or nanny is not snatched by their neighbor down the street. They do not worry about homes in the suburbs run like cheap dormitories for illegal day labourers. They don't give a double damn regarding trailer parks with fourteen residents in two bedroom trailers with the shed on the lot functioning as a night shelter for an additional two men. (Eye witness account, folks!)
SCOTUS members do not frequent inner city emergency rooms or dental clinics which are Medicaid mills. They certainly have not visited a Texas charity hospital nursery to count the dozens of "anchor babies" born each day at these facilities. They do not worry about rationed care for their own elderly parents due to finances being drained from the taxpayer pool to provide free health care to illegal immigrants and their children. Michelle Obama's mother lives in the White House. Your mother, will not be so lucky.
SCOTUS members' grandchildren do not attend Texas public schools where English is becoming as obsolete as Latin and test scores falsely proclaim that the schools are doing more than warehousing increasingly large numbers of children of illegal immigrants.
But SCOTUS is concerned that local law enforcement agencies are becoming too efficient in using simple tools to begin deportation proceedings against lawbreakers. Because they are shielded from the realities of the American middle class and our tax burden which subsidizes the large illegal peasant class which now resides in America, they no longer function as a shield for our own best interests. Of course, their own best interests will always prevail. Think "Zoe Baird".
The Christian Science Monitor coverage
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Link to blog commentary
Chlorine? Phosgene? As the story is cobbled, who knows? But such were my thoughts when the latest story broke regarding a possible new chemical attack on a girls' school in Afghanistan. Chlorine is the likeliest of culprits due to ease of deployment. When considering the world of modern chemical warfare Chlorine provided initiation into the world of war beyond bullets and bombs. The Germans were the first to make the large-scale heave-ho onto the stage of chemical armament with 6000 cylinders of Chlorine released onto their chosen human guinea pig population in April of 1915. (Ypres, Belgium) A bit later, phosgene and chloropicrin made their respective appearances. Organic chemistry soon gifted us with organophosphates such as the tabun used by the Iraqi military against the Iranian military in the 1980's and the sarin used for the attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 by the loons of Aum Shinrikyo. These nerve agents (and others in this class) mess with the acetylcholinesterase enzyme and there is hell to pay if the antidote is not nearby.
One girl who suffered under the latest attack claimed to smell something similar to a cigarette. Phosgene has an odor like freshly mowed hay. Transported in liquid form it must be vaporized for mass effect and produces a white cloud. As with all such agents the wind speed, humidity and time of day determine the efficacy of the attack. The old field rule "If you see birds dropping from the sky" certainly applies in such situations.
So we don't know what was released at three different Afghan girls' schools in the last two weeks. We will possibly never know. But none of us should be obtuse enough to buy into the speculation of mass hysteria at three different locations. Afghan girls are surely hardier than that. Apart from that, they are innocent lambs. They do not deserve to have acid thrown in their faces, to be caned mercilessly and to be gassed.
It matters not to me if the vast majority of recumbent lambs within the hills and valleys of Afghanistan merely aspire to reach menarche, marry within their clan, bear their offspring and live their lives in same manner as the women who have preceded them. But it matters to me, and a great deal more, the lambs silenced for seeking to rise above their ummi (unlettered) state so that they may write their names, and do more than touch a book without knowing what is contained within the pages.
The silence of the lambs will continue.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I appreciate comedy. The organic comedy that results from conversations with loved ones, regarding daily life. The comedy that replays in slo-mo after you've pulled off an unintentional pratfall without so much as a bruise. The expected and unexpected laughs at the latest Ben Stiller movie, theme park, or ticketed event. The comedy of watching your grandkids discover the world around them. As a matter of fact, there is no reason that a person should not be enjoying a good, hearty belly laugh every day. I'd like to think I'd find something to laugh about, even if I was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Everybody is making a commotion about Wanda Sykes's comedy routine at the White House Corresondents' Dinner. Sykes has always been a blunt, outspoken comedian, who insults everybody. She works in the vein of Don Rickles, Jackie Mason or Sarah Silverman. I first became aware of her act a few years ago when she made guest appearances on "Inside the NFL". Last Saturday night, she did what she was hired to do. If you have a problem with it, write your letter to the person who hired her.
This has traditionally been a function where the President makes fun of himself and honors the correspondents who cover his every move. As we have witnessed, President Obama knows how to kowtow: "You help all of us who serve at the pleasure of the American people do our jobs better by holding us accountable, by demanding honesty, by preventing us from taking shortcuts and falling into easy political games that people are so desperately weary of." In the next statement, he may have wished he had used the TelePrompter that he used as a prop in the beginning of his speech: "We look for you for truth, even if it's always an approximation."
I can forgive him that particular Freudian slip, maybe especially because it's inaccurate, but I have a harder time swallowing his joke that his daughters were the cause of the AF1 flight over New York City: "Sasha and Malia aren't here tonight because they're grounded. You can't just take Air Force One on a joyride to Manhattan. I don't care whose kids you are. We've been setting some ground rules here. They're starting to get a little carried away." While maybe a fun joke between him and his wife, I found it in bad taste. It's like blaming Chelsea Clinton for a USS Cole bombing reenactment. The people who are getting "carried away" are public servants who answer to the President. They should be grounded.
The comment that Rahm Emmanuel has a foul mouth was too factual to be shocking. It is not the first quality I would look for in a Chief of Staff. The joke involving David Axelrod proposing gay marriage in Iowa with the President did no favors for himself or "Axe" and probably offended gay Americans, as it was a flippant homophobic remark. His "shout out" to the RNC Chair was racist: "Michael Steele is in the house tonight, or as he would say: 'in the heezy.'" Steele doesn't remotely resemble Snoop Dogg.
Obama lampooned himself, too. Let's not ignore that his writers devised some good jokes, but none of them involve humility:
He showed a photo of himself at the White House with a costumed Captain Hook. (In reference to Hugo Chavez): "Now, let me be clear, just because he handed me a copy of Peter Pan does not mean that I'm going to read it. It's good diplomatic practice to just accept these gifts."
"My next 100 days will be so successful, I will be able to complete them in 72 days. On the 73rd day, I will rest."
In the end, journalism scholarships were handed out in the amount of $132,000. The elite diners were deprived of dessert; the $13,000 instead going to a DC homeless shelter. We can all agree that some good came of the frivolous party.
I agree with the New York Times's boycott of the event. I don't think reporters should be too cozy with the people on who they're reporting. Obama might have paid lip service to a room of liberal reporters, but some of his speech connected with me, as a member of the Swofford blog team: "We count on you to help us make sense of a complex world and tell the stories of our lives, the way they happen." Be careful what you wish for, Mr. President.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Nestled into strategic areas which support rapid access from multiple freeway arteries the sprawling physical complexes and massive cement parking lots of the mega-churches of the Bible Belt abound. On any given Sunday, anywhere from 40,000 souls, all the way down to a bottom rung of 10,000 or less, find their way to a mega church. Supporting either the stadium experience offered by Joel Osteen or the menu of options by other corporate churches which give a continuous 1.3 hour worship/sermon combo beginning on Saturday night and leap-frogging to Sunday morning, parking lots are packed.
Mega churches provide exemplary compensation packages to their senior pastors, most who also assure that the spouse is situated in a co-pastoral role with office space and corporate credit card in hand. Top musical talent and a cadre of video experts support the worship experience. Stagecraft and cavalier hype can be order-made for the crowd at some mega churches. One facility mentioned below, gave away Super Bowl tickets to pack the auditorium. Facilities are state-of-the art and nurseries and children's areas sport the best cribs, toys, play areas and amenities money can buy. Youth departments support Bible study areas but also zones of enjoyment with mini food courts, and things unheard of fifty years ago.
No doubt: People attend church for both reasons of personal faith and to enjoy a sense of community with like believers. But just as the rise of Wal-Mart brought the destruction of the mom-and-pop neighborhood grocer or pharmacy, the rise of church as corporation has blighted many a small neighborhood church. Amongst the smaller churches is the barely audible whisper of fear. Will a mega-church move into a neighboring suburb thus reducing the ranks of smaller churches? The migratory flow to the more sophisticated mega church is problematic. Don't read this wrong. I do not disrespect the accomplishments of men such as Bishop T.D. Jakes, or the Joel Osteen's of the world for their accomplishment in the world of amassing large numbers of congregants under the same roof for a weekly worship experience. But like my Daddy always said, "When God hands out prizes, we may be surprised at who gets more than the next guy."
I do harbor a concern that the rise of church as corporation, the church as a well-oiled and carefully managed machine, may one day backfire in ways which we have scarcely considered. And in a world where ministers and wives smile down from Jumbo-trons, write blogs, sell books, and otherwise are preoccupied with their vast domain, a simple truth must never be forgotten: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Many of us still prefer the shepherd experience. We want the pastor who knows our name, is not too busy to come to our home for dinner and one who will show up at the hospital to pray with us when we are having a crisis. Smaller churches maintain a greener pasture in this regard. But for those who love the mega church experience, let them rejoice. I just hope that the rejoicing within the walls of a mega church is not at the expense of the silence within the walls of the smaller church down the street.
(The Swofford's attend an area neighborhood church: average Sunday attendance 900)
Mega church with multiple satellites
Monday, May 11, 2009
The much ballyhooed and poopoo'd “Stress Tests” of the nation’s 19 largest banks have told us nothing that we did not know six months ago; probably because the banks had so much of a hand in the test’s creation. Think students getting the teacher to ask only those questions to which the students know the answers. Some banks would still fail, but the test can in no way be construed as a true measure of the bank’s ability to withstand the rougher seas to come.
On Saturday, David Enrich, Dan FitzPatrick and Marshall Eckblad reported in the Wall Street Journal just how much of a hand the banks had in crafting their own fitness test. As a result, some current conditions are worse than the Fed’s worst case scenario. Worst case unemployment is very close to current levels.
As originally figured, B of A would have had a shortfall of $50 billion rather than the $39.9 billion the Fed reported. Wells would have had to find $17.3 billion instead of the $13.7 billion it is well on it’s way to corralling.
The stress test, rather than a measure of what would happen if the economy gets worse, became a palliative designed to calm the rubes. And, it has worked. The rubes rushed in and bought bank stocks at the same time short-sellers were unloading bank shares they didn’t even own.
The rubes, which include portfolio managers, are laboring under the delusion that bank stocks hit bottom last March. In order to believe that, the rubes have to ignore the fact that 40% of Morgan Stanley’s loan portfolio is in danger of default and 26% of Wells Fargo’s credit cardholders might not be able to make their payments. In short, an investment in bank stocks is a vote that employment will rebound above last spring’s levels and that housing prices will leap up. It is also a bet that parking lots will soon be filled with new Chevy’s, Pontiacs, Saturn’s, Hummers Dodges and Chryslers.
Of course the rubes think they are betting on a sure thing. After all, the executive branch of the federal government has told them that none of the 19 banks will be allowed to fail. Unfortunately, their survival depends on significant dilution of current shareholders, and upon a change of mind in Congress which has said no more bailouts.
Of course, there were the amazing first quarter profits Goldman Sachs, JPMorganChase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo turned in. So amazing in fact, that “Bank Profits Appear Out of Thin Air” was the head of Andrew Sorkin’s article in the New York Times. Goldman changed its fiscal year, thus getting rid of a very pesky December. Ken Lewis, late chairman of Bank of America, claimed that the profits from the one-tine sale of shares in China Construction Bank indicated an ongoing profit stream. B of A also kited the value Merrill Lynch’s assets by $2.2 billion more than Merrill had priced them when Merrill was looking to be bought. With earnings like that is it any wonder the bears are in full cry.
Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Geithner’s stress test is merely an attempt to paper over huge cracks in the desperate hope that something will happen to save the banks from themselves. The Easter Bunny has gone. All our hopes now rest on the Tooth Fairy.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Happy Mother's Day!
My money has been spent on perfume, lipstick and new writing pens. My youngest son will fete my accomplishments over lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. That being said, every mother knows the truth: We raise, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Yep. We all have progeny who are wonderful and then there is the "one" who would have done as well being raised by a pack of wolves. I have "one of those" and the picture in the wallet to prove it. smile
So what is "Motherhood" all about? It is about combat boots and flak jackets. It is about Christmas letters sent out glossing the accomplishments of our children yet never mentioning the stint in jail, grandma's missing jewelry, or the case of Bud Light found in the garage, stashed away for a week-end party when out of town.
My husband recently summed up the parental equation by simply stating, "I don't know that I have taught my children anything, but they have taught me everything about life."
Yes, we all understand the love, caring and sacrifice which comes with the investment made in the lives of our progeny. So Mothers of America, Arise! This is our special day: with the good, the bad and the ugly in tow! wink
Saturday, May 09, 2009
If you are seeking personal information about me via professional network sites, give up the chase. I have never joined the communities of Facebook, MySpace, etc. The one professional link to a friend has been removed.
After receipt of an email from a necrophilic porn producer fantasizing about "sweet lovable Tammy" in a prison cell next to Patrick Russo, I became more careful with personal information in public domain. A legal challenge, yes. The blog team dealt with that issue, although the "court" was divided on how to respond to the demand letter which followed the email exchanges. But the privacy of my family? Priceless.
For those who post under clever names such as "Lyes" on posts older than 2-3 days, it is unlikely your comments will be read by other than the blog team as we manage the haloscan site and note new comments on older posts. Please try to post on current issues. This site remains a free speech zone, and if you want your voice to be heard, stay current.
Everyone have a wonderful weekend. Tom Gordon will be at the helm for the Monday blog. As always, expect a good thrashing of his chosen target. smile
Friday, May 08, 2009
“Why does dreaming big terrify me?” The first sentence of your writing exercise made me smile! Dreams, passion, and vision are the things which carve out the few exceptional individuals from the billions of souls who make up the mingling mass of humanity. It is a pleasure to consider your words, as I see my own reflection at younger age.
You speak of God-given gifts. Invested in humanity reside the gifts of God bequeathed to us from our generations. We receive family weaknesses, the frail part of us which must be strengthened over the course of our lifetime. But we also inherit our family strengths. These are the areas which we can use as the building blocks for our future success. Striving in these areas we draw on what flowed from the tap root of the family tree long before we were a twinkle in our own Daddy’s eye. Your grandmother disclosed that writing is a family gift. It appears to have come into full bloom in your generation based on the sample of writing which landed in my email last week.
Your dream is to one day see a book published with your name in bold display. That day will come. But in the meantime what must you do? You are young. You have noted that the competition is stiff. And yes, in this era of internet connectivity, the streaming words moving through cyberspace have become a torrential sound. So what must you do?
Continue writing. You speak of a raw talent. Such talent will mature as you continue a disciplined course. Words must become poetry on the page. Words must become multi-dimensional and things which the audience can experience as a sensory product. When words come to life on the page they have texture, perhaps evoke a long-forgotten scent, or stir the echo of a memory. The mysterious nature of words knit together in the womb of thought and later birthed onto page is difficult to explain. Yet such process exists for writers.
The writing discipline also involves education. While a dancer must dance and a writer must write there are always practicalities to success. In a day where video sensations emerge one day to then fade from view the next it is important to set goals. In one hundred years the public will not remember the splash-and-dash stars of today. But readers will still be turning the pages of things written by Shakespeare. Seek the university degree which best allows you to engage your passion. Carefuly develop a resume which the professional world will respect and recognize. Character must be combined with talent. Character, involves delayed gratification.
Beyond the educational environment which teaches the art of wordcrafting and sentence structure lies the vast world of ideas. Let your world be consumed with reading! Let your reading take you to areas of enjoyment but also to areas of discomfort. Read books with which you agree and selections with which you disagree. Do not be afraid to enter a literary world larger than that provided by your school and community setting. Even within books where vast disagreement is encountered continue to search for that one nugget of truth. Sharpen intellect with the remainder.
You speak of truth. Yes, write without agenda or manipulation. Speak the truth no matter the cost. A high road of integrity in journalism will never allow for professional regret.
"It churns my stomach to see the industrialization of creativity. It's ruthless and dangerous and there are so many other people with the stories that they've worked on for longer, poured themselves into more, and been more faithful to."
Aubrey, you have captured the essence of the pitfall of writing in the 21st century. The shelf life for journalism is shortened with the slow extinction of print journalism. Hastily crafted ideas dominate much of what is read by the public in daily offerings such as blogs. But such journalistic veneers also reside in mass quantity on the shelves of our bookstores. Beyond that, idea theft is rampant. So while you seek transparency in your writing, let the transparency reside within your heart until the final product is ready for release. My guess is that within the next two decades your first book will be ready for public view and critique. It will possibly take quite a bit longer to receive a contract than anticipated. Please be patient with the maturation process. And when your goal is achieved I will purchase an autographed copy of your work. smile
*Aubrey is a fourteen year old young lady with articulate pen and passionate heart.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
“Oh, you simpleton,” replied the girl. I laughed because I saw that you had not an iota of sense or reason.”
“The Heron wished to stay in the lagoons, and the Owl in the ruins of which he was the undisturbed monarch.”
Conference of the Birds by Farid-ud-Din-Attar
The Muslim world was seen laughing and dancing in the streets after the operatives of Al-Qaedah slammed commercial aircraft into the Twin Towers. From Cairo to Gaza, a scene of surreal madness unfolded while Americans were still cocooned in a state of shock. There was not an iota of sense among the celebrants who reacted in such illogical manner. Apparently not understanding the nature of a snake they did not know that soon enough, they would become the next mouse. Human blood all has the same scent to those with a predatory ideology. Such men don't take sides and bloodshed for political advantage is given little consideration in the greater scheme of things. It is more important to keep the ideology viable than mere human flesh. After the attack, Osama bin Ladin and Co. nestled into the mountains and ravines among their own, and patiently waited. The Americans would come to them. Then the real war would begin.
Oderint dum metuant. Surely the citizens fleeing the advance of the Taliban hate what is happening to their lives and culture. But it does not matter, as long as their fear is greater than their hatred for what is being inflicted on them at the other end of a Kalashnikov. With an estimated one million feet in flight along the Swat Valley, a substantial percentage are the tiny feet of the most vulnerable of society. Next in line, would be nursing mothers. One should always pray that flight be not in winter and not when the babe is suckling the breast. For Americans, this tragedy can be hard to grasp. We fought a war of brother against brother to bring an end to slavery. In the Swat Valley, the war is one to reintroduce slavery; this time, a slavery of the soul and the spirit. No dancing, no music, no sounds of joy.
Acutely problematic is dealing with insurgency tactics which not only blur the front lines, but also function with invisible flanks. An elbowing maneuver tests the spleen of the targeted urban area for responsiveness to external threat. If conditions are good, the invisible flanks awaiting command then materialize to strengthen the elbow. These flanks, are now embedded both within the countryside and urban landscape of Pakistan.
Sovereign Pakistan is ultimately both responsible and accountable for their population. President Asif Ali Zardari cut his teeth on the politics-as-usual model for Pakistan. The powerful military class stabilizes the center and the equally powerful land class maintains their own status quo whilst fighting amongst themselves for political prestige and chunks of USAID. I retain little confidence that he has the necessary skills to weather this crisis. President Hamid Karzai is a cagey old political warrior who knows the ropes and has a knack for favorable stage presence with the press corps. He will do whatever is best for Hamid Karzai. President Barack Obama is full of hope, which is poor political currency on the international stage.
So the trilateral meetings will proceed, the Pakistani's of Swat Valley will flee, and eventually a nation will implode in more dramatic manner than did the Towers on 9/11. Too bad that those celebrating an unjust cause were unaware that the grave diggers of Al-Qaedah also retained a spade in the hand for them.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
I'm torn. I am looking forward to the new "Star Trek" movie next week, but am not anxious to sit in a crowded theater while there may be the beginnings of a world-wide pandemic in progress. I don't have a Joe Biden-level of paranoia, but I am certainly more aware of the guy in the same aisle of the book store who is coughing and sniffling. Alaska is not on the front lines of H1N1, as are California and Texas, but I am sure we will not be exempt.
A new warning is that the virus can travel on our currency, along with other germs, human feces, and who knows what else. I was forwarded an e-mail joke a couple of months ago that displayed a photo of a dollar bill and proposed the question: "Have you ever wondered if the dollar bill in your pocket was ever in a stripper's g-string?" Just one more reason to not oppose heading toward a cashless society.
We are pretty sure the first flu case was contracted in Mexico, but this is not solely our neighbor's fault. The flu was said to have started at an American company, Smithfield Foods, the world's top producer of pork. If this had started inside the U.S., a more developed nation, chances are it would not have spread so quickly.
President Obama is evaluating overseas tax loopholes, of which Smithfield surely is taking advantage. Aside from tax breaks, Smithfield is probably taking advantage of Mexico's less strict environmental laws, which result in lower operational costs. Why wouldn't they set up shop in Mexico?
Here at home, chicken farms are causing ecological destruction in Chesapeake Bay. Large corporations (think Perdue and Tyson) provide the chicks and feed to Mom and Pop, who then raise them into adulthood. The companies do not provide for the removal of the waste. Mom and Pop are doing well to keep their head above water, and cannot afford to dispose of the tons of droppings. It ends up being pushed into pits on the property, which leeches into the waterways, killing plant and animal life.
Now, I don't know for sure that U.S.-owned agricultural farms in Mexico are polluting the environment the way they do here at home, but what do you think? Sometimes it has to be more about the bottom line.
Some people say we should quit eating meat altogether. To those people I say, enjoy your tofurkey. I believe there should be more humane treatment of the animals we eat, even if it costs the consumer more. But I don't intend to stop eating meat. Including pork products. However, I am now giving that dollar bill in my pocket a second thought.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Personally, viewing the As-Sahab link twice gave me the mother of all headaches. It is hard to take seriously the words of a man who speaks of the jihad of the Criminal Christian Crusaders against Islam. Lemme see, the C3 endured the assault on two embassies, Navy sailors blown to smithereens, women leaping to their deaths from towers, Pentagon casualties and American deaths on aircraft converted to missiles before our military gave even a twitch of a response.
That being said, if Al-Zawahiri wants to issue a bit of jihad bil lisan, he needs to receive a bit of jihad bil qalam/ilm in return. (jihad of the tongue v. jihad of the pen) I am certainly capable of holding his nose and cramming the bitter dose back down his throat which he dishes out against the C3 infidels. The fact of the matter is that such ass-kicking propaganda is being viewed by more than a few of the W2 (worldwide-willing) as you read this, and thoughts always proceed action. The man functions as an emotional trigger in each of his videos. Emotional nitwits will respond.
As with all things regarding Al-Qaidian imperialism these rants are always long on Qur'anic commands and short on logic. In the end, we all take a whack. Egypt is chided for engaging a legal treaty process to bring a measure of peace within their own borders. Stating that "Egypt watched silently" and wasted battlefield sacrifices, Al-Zawahiri has nothing but scorn for the Muslim in the land of his birth. The guy is also upset at the Shi'a since they did not issue a fatwa against the U.S. military for entering Iraq. Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani urged calm, and that there was to be no confrontation as the Baath regime was dismantled. Working with Grand Ayatollah al-Hakim and others, the Shi'a were in need of a bit of relief themselves, from the minority-rule of the Sunni. Muqteda al-Sadr was too young and arrogant to submit to the existing Shi'a authority structure. Sorry, Al-Zawahiri. You are not within the Shi'a chain of command and beyond that carry no weight of rank on your shoulders other than that which you have bestowed on yourself. The Shi'a don't want your kind in Iraq.
Of course any video production would be incomplete without an agreeable partner. Enter Dr. Azzam al-Tamimi who writes articles titled, "No Peace, More Blood" and has made the ridiculous claim that he would blow himself up for the sake of the Palestinians if only Israel would allow him the pleasure of being a house guest for a few days. It is typical of the command from the rear leadership of the Jihadi scholars. All blustery gritching. Jihad is never a sweat on their brows, but it is a fever in their brains.
The Jihadi puppetmeister taunts our forces by reminding us that what we falsely call insurgency is really the garden-variety global jihad. He throttles his own community to remind them that jihad is "fard" or an obligatory act. Sadly, the contextual relationship of the ayat of the sword with historical events during the time of Muhammad are extrapolated to create an eternal jihad against the C3 infidel. Telling the Muslim to "deal with them forcefully where you are, for your brothers in Afghanistan and Pakistan are dealing with them forcefully here" scares me. It is a reinvention of the fatwa issued by Osama bin Ladin long before 9/11 where he admonished Muslims to kill Americans anywhere we were found.
Al-Qaidian imperialism moves center stage as Al-Zawahiri addresses the "Lions of Islam" in the "Caliphate of Iraq". Telling them that "Victory is only having patience for a time" he advises the lions to move along to dissolve the borders with Jerusalem, Riyadh, Cairo, Kabul. Within this crowd, operational tempo can move to a crawl and 'taint a concern. Excuse me, where is the next suicide belt?
We are told that a front has been established in the beloved land of Iraq and a unified and mighty Jihad-waging Islamic state has been established to destroy the plans of the American Crusaders. Al-Zawahiri happily fanticizes of Iraq as the "gateway to Jerusalem".
Missing within the greater than forty minutes of presentation is any consideration that a land must rest from war if the population is to be sustained. The face of the earth does not renew its self properly within war zones. Crop yields decrease, migratory patterns increase, and indigenous commerce suffers. To consider a jihad without end is an illogical consideration, one which is not supported by Qur'anic literature.
The challenge to the Muslim is this: If between Allah's word and Allah's will there exists a garrisoned falsehood, should not the walls be scaled and the ideological bricks removed?
Saturday, May 02, 2009
It is interesting what comes into my email because of the blog. I view things which are completely refreshing, and other bits of information which come from the brackish backwaters of journalism. All perceive themselves capable of lofty thoughts in this day of internet connectivity. But as for the Swofford Team, we write for the hell of it. When is ceases to be fun, we will just call it a day.
Refreshing this week, a bit of discourse with a senior reporter in Tucson. Also a request passed on by an author, to provide guidance to a budding journalist. In the brackish backwater category, poorly written conspiracy theories about the latest flu, with possible "spam" coming from a "doctor" which I still passed on to a few friends, just in case. But get your head screwed on straight, guys. A virus does not recognize a nationality, socioeconomic status or title. It functions with strict rules of engagement and the code in the virus tells it "what to do". It does not have a code for a Mexican. It does exhibit its self in a region when making its first stage appearance. Should the border to the south close, it will strictly be an epidemiological salvage operation and not a political statement. I hate political screeches when we are dealing with a medical crisis. (Sorry, Michelle Malkin)
Several things in the mail this week in the humor category regarding Somali pirates. The underlying themes of American tenacity or vigilante humor are pervasive. If you have not received the email for the special cruise to shoot Somali pirates with a rented arsenal from the deck of the ship, it will be coming to you soon via at least one insane friend. smile
Later tonight, I will be performing my own blockade against the happy ship of pirates who frequent my email. I do love auto reply! Working on a theoretical model. Small brains require models, just like Navy Seals require a target. Focus and discipline, is the key to any success.
Catch up on this site, should you have some free time. As an aside, I had an Arabic lesson today. I feel like a pre-schooler, struggling to write my name in Arabic. smile
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:00 AM
Friday, May 01, 2009
Not only that, but having absorbed $50 billion of taxpayer money, Citigroup’s retail banking arm has decided to hose taxpaying depositors to the tune of 30% annual interest rates for consumer loans. For reasons that have nothing to do with shame, the company is reluctant to inform potential borrowers of the vig, to use a loan shark’s term, since that is what it amounts to.
All is not joy and light in the House of Weill. The pirates at Phibro want more money. If they don’t get it, they are walking. That’s right; the clowns that helped run gasoline prices to more than $4.00/gallon last year want to use our money to fund their unconscionable lifestyles. People who had to sweat getting to work contributed to a $125 million payday last year for Andrew Hall, the guy largely responsible for the gasoline price bubble.
Citigroup is the ill-conceived and worse-managed creation of Sanford Weill who merged Citicorp and Travelers Insurance in 1998. The marriage was a disaster because Citigroup and Senator Phil Gramm could not overturn the Glasss-Steagal Act, and in 2002, Traveler’s was allowed to take its red umbrella and try its luck with MetLife. Unfortunately, Citigroup got Phibro in the divorce.
Phibro has at best a weak moral compass. Past associates include Marc Rich and Enron. Before Travelers bought the energy and commodity trading unit, it belonged to the now-disgraced Solomon Brothers organization.
Recidivism among corporations is just as frequent as it is among people. A Citigroup predecessor was largely responsible for the 1929 crash as well. There is no hope that the corporation will change its ways, no matter who is at the helm.
Citigroup spent tens of millions of dollars to get Glass-Steagal repealed, to make sure there was no regulation of its energy and derivatives trading arms. Having paid Congress to handsomely to make its bed to its exact specifications, it is a real shame that Citigroup was not allowed to lie in it, but Panic Button Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner refused to let that happen.
What we have to do now is what we are doing with AIG, unwinding it so we can get our money out first; if not from the corporation, then from the management and directors personally. The FDIC says there are 8,256 lending institutions in the country. Who is going to miss a handful, even if that handful contains what used to be among the largest banks in the world?