George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London,
RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section. It will offer fresh,
quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in
this rapid-fire world of ours. Of course, as in military campaigns,
a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed
by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction. Charge that to
"the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military
campaign must maintain to be effective. But the mission will always
be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported
by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.
That's all I promise.
to return to the current Rapid Response list
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30
through JULY 2, 2003
So many opinions...so little time. And professional obligations
keep getting in the way.
After the recent decisions handed down by the USSC, Justice Scalia
and especially the commentator Cal Thomas seem to fear that the U.S.Constitution
is dead. The Constitution would have died in childbirth if our
Founding Fathers had not, for purely political reasons, finessed the great
issue of slavery in this country. And it surely should have died
after Roe v Wade, a decision lacking legal, medical or moral basis. No,
the Constitution is like the sturdy foundation of a great cathedral.
It survives the occasional building of an ugly outcropping or even an out-house
on its bell tower. It is the outcropping which is vulnerable, not
the foundation. Furthermore, its last decision of this session,
regarding California law and the Statute of Limitations - even relating
to child abuse - is correct. For how many years or decades must people
wait for victims, after reaching the age of majority, to come forward and
make their accusations. There is such a thing as Due Process, and
the Statute of Limitations is a basic part of that.
"No good deed will go unpunished". Yesterday's announcement
by Kraft Foods Company that it will henceforth produce less harmful
foods tor our Fat Citizens was promptly attacked as PR or as a way to improve
their bottom line. There may be more than one intention or outcome,
but the action is bound to help anyway. And, if we're looking for
hypocrites, let's look at the soft drink companies and at school systems
all over the country that enter into lucrative contracts with junk food
providers for their Fat Kids. And I don't mean "Phat".
SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2003
Still more on Iraq. One article in today's Day (the day.com),
by Steven Gutkin of the Associated Press, observes: "No obvious front-runner
to fill Iraq power vacuum". True enough, but let's send a crystal-clear
message to the people of Iraq. "Clerics and other religious leaders
need not apply for the future secular government". An editorial in
today's New York Times is also helpful, entitled: Rebuilding Iraq With
Iraqis". But while trying to distinguish good Baathists from bad
Baathists, and especially in the current guerrilla warfare period,
all Baathists must be counted among "the usual suspects".
Here's a startling fact...startling to me, at least: in a report
by Lisa Leff of the Associated Press published today in the Day, we read
about "32% of same-sex couples now raising children...." Please
read my earlier Rapid Response and my Law School paper on this subject.
Despite serious reservations in this matter regarding the welfare of children
in a society which is supposed to place paramount "the best interests of
the child", I believe that adoption by loving "parents" - more a
relationship than an issue of genetics - is far better than the plight
of tens of thousands of children in this country who are shuttled every
several months amont multiple "foster homes". What does that foster?
SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2003
More on the situation in Iraq. Please see my Rapid
Response dated May 30, 2003. Since then, there have been more
killings, even assassinations of our soldiers. And it is now clear
that some Iraqiis are acting to sabotage the recovery of their own country.
we need any more reasons for massive and harsh counter-action? And
when are the majority of moderate Iraqi citizens going to earn their freedom
from despotism by discharging their responsibility to suppress their
criminal and pro-Saddam terrorist elements? Two articles on
this subject are worth reading: "Chaos in Iraq...", by Trudy Rubin; and
"Rumsfeld: Not the Army's Favorite Boss", by Philip Terzian, both articles
in The Day, Friday, June 27, 2003, Commentary, pA11. Meanwhile,
the Democrats continue carping on the sub-text of WMD's, not realizing
that this war is far from over and that Americans unite behind their leaders
during wartime. It's not a reach to suggest that they are giving
aid and comfort to our enemy at this time.
FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 2003
A little more on the gay-privacy issue recently addressed by the USSC.
The dissenting Justices expressed reasonable concern regarding the possible
"slippery slope" opened by the majority opinion. Just read the expansive
spin already appearing in the liberal press about the implications for
other possible legislative actions on behalf of gays. But fear not:
are fair, not stupid. The recent action will not change the strongly
held views of the vast majority on really unrelated subjects, like according
"gay unions" the same status as that of Marriage in our society, a bed-rock
It appears that the Republicans may have found their stealth
candidate for the 2004 U.S.Presidential election: former Governor
Dean. When he is fearless enough to express an opinion on matters
of national import, he is a poster child for ultra-liberal Democrats.
Good. Those positions are contrary to those of the vast majority
of voters today. And regarding those issues on which he begs off,
as he did recently on Meet The Press, perhaps he should read "Rapid Response".
He could do a lot worse...and probably will.
THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2003
Three items in today's news deserve comment:
The U.S. Supreme Court got it generally correct with its decision
regarding the privacy rights of consenting adult homosexuals.
Please see my earlier offering in this section regarding "gay marriages"
as a counter-point. It has always been my opinion, even before
law school, that our constitutional right to "liberty", includes
a "penumbral" right of privacy. Of course, that penumbra was distorted
beyond recognition when the High Court used it to allege that one person's
right of privacy trumps another's right to life.
A report by the Center For Public Integrity has found that "thousands
of prosecutors mishandled criminal cases", (by Michael J. Sniffen,
AP). Although that situation probably has been a reaction to
the decades in which judges acted like social workers of last resort,
it is intolerable - on the part of prosecutors or defense attorneys - to
mislead the court and our system of justice. Any attorney who cannot
play the required dual role of advocate and also Officer of the Court should
be disbarred. And any attorney or public safety official whose
intentional acts lead to the unfair conviction of a defendant should be
made to serve that defendant's sentence.
The U.S. economy continues to be in the doldrums. In fact,
the recovery that will eventually arrive promises to be a "jobless recovery"
as part of the industrial devolution that has taken place since
great sucking sound" called NAFTA and GATT arrived on our shores.
Isolationism is not the answer. But neither is a totally skewed playing
field world-wide in which only the "captains of industry" benefit. It's
the Economy, and we Americans are all being Stupid
We have the power to make fair changes. Let's use it.
SUNDAY through WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22
through 25, 2003
Sorry about the interruption. Duty called. A lot of news in the
Congress seems hell-bent on providing a faulty treatment for Medicare
drug costs, and totally ignoring the plight of over 40 million Americanswho
are still without health insurance coverage. This is wrong and
unnecessary. The drug coverage should be prioritized by drug
category and should be partially need-based. Covering the chronically
uninsured should have the highest priority. Please see an earlier
offering here regarding the efforts of former U.S.Representative Rostenkowski.
The U.S. Supreme Court came down with two important decisions this
week, although its Solomonic approach is becoming chronic.
Yes, ethnic and class diversity are valuable goals...what America
is all about. But no, it cannot be achieved through racist descrimination,
however worthy the goal. The decision occupies a somewhat vague middle
ground, useful but not definitive. And it should have been definitive,
in view of the fact that this issue has been rattling around since before
their Bakhe decision of 1979, also vague. We all deserved
better. What they could have and should have said is that the
problem with low minority enrollment has mainly to do with poor preparation
in our failed public school system; and they should have pointed
to a public requirement to provide remedial education for those who need
it in order to meet undiluted college entrance requirements. That
would have been "affirmative action", helpful and fair, and would have
enabled minority college students to walk around campus without a cloud
of suspicion over their heads - not the case now. Please see
my earlier offering in this section on the same subject. Then, regarding
library internet pornography access, they were more helpful -
until two Justices discovered an "opt out" option to filters which is not
provided for in the Congressional legislation under review. Another
example of judicial legislation, and again unconstitutional. Maybe the
National Library Association which challenged the legislation will now
also begin to offer old dark overcoats at the door for all those who request
them. That would complete the image.
SATURDAY, JUNE 21, 2003
Is this summer...or what? But let's not get into that.
More on Iraq. Two articles published in the
New London Day today deserve comment. The first, by Tarek
Al-Issawi of the Associated Press is entitled "Attacks persist in Iraq;
clerics decry Americans." War entails casualties, and we
are still at war in Iraq. But even in the United States our Freedoms
of Speech and Religion do not include "crying 'fire' in a crowded theater".
It is time to rein in the incitement to riot being fomented daily
by Muslim clerics there, not in the name of God or Allah, but in
the name of preserving and advancing their own power. America will
not have travelled thousands of miles and sustained thousands of
casualties in a foreign country just to allow the re-establishment of despotic
theocracy in Iraq. This, and severe and swift punishment for all
remaining terrorists there, should be our home-front political call on
behalf of our troops there - and on behalf of most Iraqiis themselves.
Another article by Thomas Friedman characteristically presents
measured and reasoned advice on this subject: "It's too soon to tell
anything about Iraq", The
Day, Saturday, June 21, 2003, Commentary, pA7.
Hold on to your hat for more medical hyperbole regarding "the newest
thing". This time it's about Xolair, the humanized monoclonal
antibody against IgE, the body's prime mechanism for producing
allergic reactions. This is an important new approach to the treatment
of allergic disorders; but it has some significant shortcomings.
It should be used only for moderate to severe disease, as in serious bronchial
asthma. It carries a price tag of about $10,000. per year. In
contrast to Allergy Immunotherapy (see the
selection on this subject under Categories on this web site), it
works only so long as it continues to be administered, with no reported
residual benefit or likelihood of true desensitization. Thus, it
will not and should not be main-stream treatment based upon present knowledge
and experience. Nor should it be, since we have good treatments,
including allergy immunotherapy, if they would only be used by primary
care physicians, by pediatricians and by other generalists. With
regard to bronchial asthma, the use of true immunomodulation to
extinguish the allergic reaction long-term, is more and more important...as
more evidence is reported that even the regular use of inhaled steroids
as anti-inflamatory agents for asthma does not interrupt the "re-modelling"
of the bronchial airways that is part of a scarring process. So,
as they say on television: "Ask your doctor". But make sure that
he or she knows the facts...or at least knows the questions to ask!
FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2003
First, an addendum to one of yesterday's topics, Journalism. This
will also serve to introduce the reader to a great deal more that is offered
on this web site, a public service. Under Categories...The Involved
Citizen...Misc. Topics, please see the offering entitled "Trust
and the Fourth Estate".
Yesterday we learned that, nation-wide, about 65% of fourth,eight,
and twelfth graders in this country failed to achieve "proficient"
grades on the new, nationally mandated, NAEP reading and math exams.
Today we read in the New London Day the headline: "Connecticut kids
at top of 'report card' in reading". Read on: "Among Connecticut
fourth-graders, 43% are deemed proficient in reading, compared to 30% nationwide".
Now doesn't that give you a soft and fuzzy feeling? Or is this
pap presented just to promote "self-image", in teachers as well as
in students? Please see my extensive offerings on this perennial
disgrace under Categories...The Involved Citizen...Public
Education Politics, on this web site. Get rid of play stations,
hand-held "games", extended access to computers for whatever purpose; and
also severely restrict time allowed for television. In other words,
REAL, Folks, and Take Control! Then your children and students
will not only do better in the three R's - they might even survive the
fantasy world of "Harry Potter", while trying to prepare for the real world.
Here's what we've been waiting for: the pre-determined white-wash from
the U.S. Air Force Academy review committee regarding rape and other
gender abuses tolerated for decades there. Must we in this country
tolerate Neanderthals in our military in order to feel safe. Then
again, are we safe with the likes of them?
"Gay Marriages"...now there's a topic. But before you anticipate
what I'm about to write, please visit Categories...The Involved
Citizen...Society, the offerings
regarding a particular type of Child Custody. Now we're ready. Marriage
is the institution, between a man and a woman, established in all religions
and in all societies for the procreation of the human race, and also as
a substitute for "survival of the fittest" in civil society.
To what extent homosexuals are the product of nature and/or nurture is
not the issue. Neither is the fact some homosexuals choose, sooner
or later, to develop a stable monogamous relationship that should be welcomed
by society over the promiscuous, in-your-face activities of others that
gave us the AIDS epidemic in this country. What is at issue is whether
a foundation-stone of civil society should be undermined by giving legal
recognition to a totally different relationship under the same rubric.
I think not. Perhaps some legitimate financial implications can be
addressed satisfactorily...but not by giving legal recognition as "Marriage".
There is room for compromise here - but not for surrender.
WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, JUNE 18
and 19, 2003
The current furor over how much of soldier Jessica Lynch's story of
capture and recovery in lraq was true (probably most of it, with some
embellishment for state-side consumption) is being over-shadowed by the
within the world of Journalism regarding the tying arrangements allowed
more and more among news businesses and other businesses - like entertainment.
this naivete or hypocracy? It comes on the heels of the New York
Times debacle and the ever-increasing latitude sought by and allowed for
these mega-corporations by the FCC, resulting in ever-greater concentration
of sources of news in the hands of ever-fewer individuals. Not healthy
or wise for a democracy whose life-blood is objective and factual information
from many sources. This may be an "identity crisis" for Journalism...but
they can't have it both ways and expect to have the trust of the people
The so-called Patriot Act is being challenged - as it should be
- and is also being upheld - as it should be. There are times in
the life and health of a free society when some freedoms must be temporarily
trumped for reasons of security. The safeguard here is process.
Furthermore, I have long held, long before 9/11, that anyone charged with
the crime of "terrorism", after having established a uniform definition
of that crime, should be tried under a form of Military Law, with one opportunity
for appeal - and then, if found guilty, should have the death penalty imposed
and carried out. The stakes should be clear.
The recent law passed in Maine regarding health insurance deserves
close scrutiny regarding what it actually enacts and how it is implemented.
From what I can discern so far, it is not the "universal health care" being
touted in the press; but it may be "just what the doctor ordered".
TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 2003
Former Governor Keating, evidentally exasperated by his experience
dealing with some American Catholic Bishops, sent a message, loud
and clear. In the process, he witnessed a basic truth: "If
you want to upset a person, tell him a lie; if you want to absolutely infuriate
him, tell him the truth". And another basic truth: "Power corrupts:
absolute power corrupts absolutely".
Now it can be told: many hospitals have too few inpatient beds
to take care of present needs, not to mention future requirements.
Yes, "the first rule of service is survival". But some hospitals
are going too far in cherry-picking the medical services they decide
to render. There is a basic obligation to the public that they serve,
especially in the case of tax-exempt community hospitals.
Also, the increasing use (abuse?) of "diversion" in transit should
be evaluated against the requirements of the Federal law called EMTALA.,
the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.
Finally, I never thought that I would ever use the word "Hutzpah"
to describe a Swede. But that's the word that comes to mind regarding
Blix. This "inspector" of the "Pink Panther" genre, who
unearthed nothing but excuses to delay the U.S. action in Iraq, today was
heard on National Public Radio contrasting the U.N.'s losses (ie.1) against
U.S. losses (many), and contrasting the cost to the U.N. of his inspection
activities ("$80million") against the cost to the U.S. of our
efforts (billions). How's that for trivializing America's efforts
at pre-emptive self-defense, at removing a dangerous despot, and at making
the world a little more safe, for Swedes and for everyone else. :Now,
he says, he will retire to picking blueberries and to swimming in the Baltic.
MONDAY, JUNE 16, 2003
This is about the House of Medicine, the medical profession.
Among professions and career choices, including the Clergy, physicians
rate highly for integrity and for results. But there are problems.
The medical malpractice climate has produced a bunker mentality,
not new (read "conspiracy of silence", still alive and well in some specialties)
but worsening. The value-neutral education of some younger physicians
in their formative years has resulted in some of them forgetting the maxim
"above all, do no harm" and supporting "physician-assisted suicide",
an oxymoron if there ever was one. And then there is the American
College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which for many years has
been pro-abortion, and has even been in favor of partial birth abortions!
What's wrong with that picture? What a shame. But there's more...the
also is against outlawing these abominations. Then they wonder why the
membership of the AMA has declined to its current state, representing fewer
than one-third of practicing physicians. There is a message
here: "For your health care, choose...don't settle".
SUNDAY, JUNE 15, 2003
Happy Father's Day, to all fathers out there, and to the Mothers
who made that exalted state possible.
If there is any role, or ministry, that depends immeasurably on one's
own experience as a son, being a father is it. And for that I daily
thank my father, a kind, patient and wise man who was my friend
and mentor for all of his 72 years. "Forte e Gentile", as was the
motto of his native Abruzzi and the best description of the man.
It is a great pity, and in some quarters a great disaster, that
so many men today face the challenge of fatherhood without such example.
The reasons are many. Just one set of reasons was well articulated
by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan in the late 1960's - in return for which
he incurred the lingering wrath of a whole group of our population and
their enablers. But forget the prospect of their admitting now that
they were wrong and that he was right. They simply continue perpetuating
the disaster, as over 50% of American "families" are now single-parent
(read "fatherless") entities.
Something else should be made clear here. Becoming and being
a father does not simply mean contributing to a child's DNA; in fact,
it does not require that at all. And there is a big difference
between "fathering" and "siring". The former is a deep and lasting
human relationship. The latter, without more, is simply an animal
And then there are those who actually kill their offspring by condoning
or even demanding abortion! What do we call them?
So, "Happy Father's Day" is by no means a knee-jerk acclaimation.
those of us who have earned it, enjoy the day - and our blessed life.
SATURDAY, JUNE 14, 2003
Bad news in Israel and Palestine. Now is not the time for
President Bush to heed what must be some advice from his political gurus
and from the State Department to go easy, play it safe, and not expend
more of his political capital in that mess, in view of "the coming election".
There is always a "coming election". And unless Mr. Bush wants
to lose the next election, now is the time for persistent and
bold committment, using all our power with both sides to force both sides
to do what both must do...now. A recent Rapid Response has dealt
with the details. This will also require a committment of troops
on the ground to assist in enforcing a cease-fire, the main burden
of which must fall to the Israelis and Palestinians themselves. It
was hopeful to note today that U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan is quoted as having
come to the same conclusion.
It is gratifying to see our troops once again taking the offensive
against hostile forces in Iraq. We went into Iraq in order to get
the targets off our backs in America, not to wear them there. Also,
even in America Freedom of Speech does not give us the right to
yell "fire in a crowded theater". So, why are we allowing Iraqii
clerics to yell "death to all Americans" in the explosive setting that
exists there at this time? Come on, people: use a little common sense
and a lot of power that you have brought to bear there. The worst
use of power is its non-use; that's called a vacuum, and it is the most
dangerous situation that can exist.
Regarding more anti-American riots in South Korea, following a fatal
auto accident there, why not take our troops out of harms way - at least
in the early phases of any North Korean attack - and let the South Koreans
defend themselves. That would also lead to Japan re-arming in self-defense...and
why not? These are dangerous times all over the world. We
have to consolidate and maximize the availability and flexibility of our
armed forces. And the choices regarding our engagement should
be always primarily based on our self-interest, as well as pre-emptive
self-defense. There are signs that the Pentagon is thinking along
FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2003
The bad weather we in the Northeast have been having this Spring
should not surprise us: after all, in Washington D.C it is Christmas
in June. Look at all the give-aways being debated and
passed by Republicans and Democrats alike. Want to give a
fish instead of a fishing pole to our poorer citizens? Just call
it a tax credit, even if they do not pay taxes. Want to add drug
benefits to a Medicare system having real trouble paying its existing bills?
Give it to everybody, regardless of need or rational allocation.
Every one of the elderly has a vote, right? (By the way, there's
an election coming). We have come to expect this from Democrats;
but will the real Republicans please stand up - the ones with principles,
WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, JUNE 11
and 12, 2003
What a shame. The Israel - Palestine conflict continues
to kill innocents and guilty alike and to inflame the entire Middle East.
This cannot be treated with the perennial neglect with which the conflicts
and atrocities in Africa are being handled, currently notably in Congo.
This is, after all, the birthplace of three major religions; and then there
is the matter of the oil! So why do all parties involved
continue to insist on ignoring the several elephants in the room?
Israel will never be the Israel of the Bible. It must vacate
all the illegal settlements, including the more substantial settlements,
and it must do it Now. Palestinians and other Arabs will always
have a vibrant, powerful, and democratic Israel in their midst. That
is not negotiable. For reasons of reality, there will be no "right
of return", no matter how unjust that seems to all fair-minded people;
and the neighboring Arab States must reconcile themselves to absorbing
these poor people. A viable Palestine will exist next to Israel.
That is also not negotiable. Arab terrorist attacks, perceived
as such by most Arabs and non-Arabs alike, must stop Now. Until that happens,
Israel has every right to pro-active self-defense. And both Israel
and the Palestinians must resort to effective internal force, if necessary,
to suppress those citizens among them who would rather fight than switch.
Will that lead to civil wars? Possibly, but probably not, especially if
a U.N.- U.S. force is introduced on the ground to assist both sides
with their tasks in an even-handed way ( and not the way the French are
operating in the Congo). Remember: the U.S.A. required a revolution
and a civil war to resolve its own problems before emerging in its present
state. How long do we have to wait before all the players with
power get real about this? On the answer to that question depends
the security of the Middle East and of the entire world.
MONDAY and TUESDAY, JUNE 9 and 10,
There are some signs that our leaders at the Pentagon are starting
to re-assess their projections for American military needs.
"Shock and Awe" and technology can go just so far. Witness the difficulty
are forces are having in establishing order and in supressing violence
in Iraq, largely because there are not enough of them on the ground to
deal with crowds and with mob violence. Witness the totally predictable
drop in National Guard and Reserve enlistments and re-enlistments after
the recent excessive reliance on these "reserves" for first-to-go service.
Witness the news that we are about to re-deploy many of the tens of
thousands of our troops in Germany to areas where they can be better utilized.
Once again, we have to get real and not try to have security in this ever
more dangerous world on the cheap. What we need is re-instatement
of the draft, for all male graduates of high school and for all willing
female graduates. This could be a win-win situation, especially if
the first of a two or three year tour is structured for both military and
remedial education, in preparation for being able to read the military
manuals - problematic for some graduates - and for future higher education.
kid you not: this could work very well. But expect some knee-jerk
objections from some old military war horses and from some demagogic objections
from "the usual suspects". Meanwhile, a couple of years in the military
during a formative time of life is just what the last two generations of
young people have missed - to their detriment and to ours.
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, JUNE 7 and
The New York Times continues to be all wrapped up in itself with
the sequels to the Jayson Blair debacle. Maybe that's because it
considers itself - and is considered by many, we read - the greatest newspaper
in the World. Sez who? The Wall Street Journal, itself
a more informative publication day after day, in my opinion, put it just
right in its editorial entitled "Turmoil at the Times" (WSJ
Opinion, Friday, June 6, 2003, pA10). "As readers of the Times,
however, our view is that what we have been seeing on its front page in
recent years is less straightforward reporting and more advocacy journalism....The
Times has hardly been alone in this trend....But at the Times its editorial-page
views have been increasingly indistinguisnable from the attitude that infuses
many of its page-one stories."
Here we go again: the pro-abortion gang, through NARAL, is about
to launch a $3 million ad campaign to "save Roe v Wade", the 1973 U.S.Supreme
Court decision that had less legal, or medical or moral-ethical justification
than any decision since Dred-Scot. They are threatened by the recent
passage of Federal legislation outlawing "Partial Birth Abortion",
the worst of the abortion abominations. To echo the words directed
50 years ago at Senator Joe McCarthy: "Have you no shame?"
Of course they don't. So, let's fight. (Please see the offerings
on this web site, under "The Involved Citizen", entitled "Abortion").
On a "lighter" note, we read from the Knight Ridder News Service
an article entitled: A Big Fat Problem: Doctors Lack Training To Treat
Overweight Patients" Baloney...or should I offer tuna salad instead?
The only thing that doctors lack is patients who want to get serious about
their fat and sedentary life-style. This is not rocket science, folks.
You can actually lose weight, keep it off, feel great, and live longer
and better...if you want to. Just look in the mirror; and then ask
FRIDAY, JUNE 6, 2003
Question: When is a tax cut (or tax credit) not a tax cut?
Answer: When the individual pays no income tax! Here go
the Republicans again, allowing the Democrats to articulate the issue and
thereby to determine the outcome. Or is it that any opinion except
that of the ultra-liberals cannot get a hearing in the liberal Eastern
press. In any case, there are specific merits to helping Americans
who are near or below the poverty line...especially when they are members
of our Armed Forces. But this help should not be called a "tax
cut" or tax credit"; and it should not be touted as any solution for the
underlying problems. This is especially applicable to the sanctimonious
Democrats whose insistence on a tax package costing no more than
350 billion dollars caused the elimination of that provision in the first
We are all awaiting the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court relating to
the issue of "affirmative action". Has it been fair, to Whites
or to Blacks and other minority groups? No. Here again is a
"solution" that has created other problems: antagonism among the
races - which is not in itself "racism"; loss of legitimacy of accomplishments
by Blacks in the eyes of others; and not a single step toward remediation
of the poor education which many students receive in public grammar schools
and high schools before they are admitted to colleges under depreciated
standards. Let us hope that this band-aid on cancer will finally
be removed so as to allow proper treatment.
Shades of former U.S. Representative Rostenkowski: our fearless
leaders in Washington D.C. now want to add 350 billion dollars to Medicare
costs by providing drug benefits to All Medicare recipients,
regardless of income level. This will assure that too little will
go to too many, including to many who do not need such Federal help.
But it will also assure that our Senators and Congressmen will not have
their cars rocked from side to side, when they return home, by "greedy
geezers" who objected to a very modest means test and related premium that
Mr. Rostenkowski had shepherded through Congress and into law about twelve
years ago. Congress repealed the law six weeks later. Grrroooowwwl.
On this anniversary of D Day, two recently released books are suggested
for summer reading on the ever-relevant experience of World War II:
the second volume of a Trilogy on the subject by Rick Atkinson; and a biography
of the military years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, by his son John.
THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2003
Once again the sad soap opera called Public Education is in the
news. It seems that some of the billions of dollars available through
the Federal legislation called "No Child Left Behind" is being declined
by some school districts, as in Michigan, because their availability has
been tied to evidence of effective results. What a quaint
idea, and totally foreign to the Education Establishment.
These members of the articulate, arrogant and asinine "enlightenment" whom
we have had to suffer through the last fourty years, are also using arguments
like "art vs. science of teaching" and "local vs Federal control". Now
suppose that the practice of Medicine had also developed as a group of
fiefdoms where top-down control totally stiffled the professionalism
of millions of good teachers through the decades; where adverse outcomes
were all dismissed as "Acts of God" with no personal or institutional responsibiity
acknowledged; where raw research was done on human beings with no controls
and no accountability; where "local control" was able to ignore broad national
and international developments in the field on the basis of "Art" trumping
science. Where would we be? We practitioners of Medicine
would be in jail...that's where we would be. And that's
where we would belong. Wake up, America. All those kids
without a clue around us will be voting soon. That will not be democracy.
That will be mob rule. So, support actively the breakup of the
perverse monopoly called Public Education with the only effective tool
at our disposal...Competition.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2003
How's that for a "stage whisper"! President Bush said yesterday
exactly what needed to be said about what Israel will, at long last, have
to do to obtain its peace and security. It's too bad that some Arabs
still do not accept the permanence of the State of Israel.
That fact will always be underwritten by the U.S. and by the Western world,
especially in the face of terrorism. The only question is when there
will be a State of Palestine, also viable and with peace and security
- as there should be. Meanwhile, back at home, the so-called Christian
Right...and those "Christians" to the right of them...insist on continuing
to give Israel a blank check for their actions...including all the illegal
and politically stupid settlements which have been the gasoline for the
fires in that area. I am happy to say that Roman Catholics forever
consider Jews their religious and historical brothers. But we also
know that "He Who Seeks Equity Must Do Equity". So Don't count
us among the "Christian Right" on this issue.
MONDAY and TUESDAY, JUNE 2 and 3,
At times, there is nothing to respond to. At other times...
The different approach of President Bush to President Putin, as
distinguished from that to Chirac and Schroeder is entirely in keeping
with our national self-interest, especially after recent events leading
up to the Iraq action. We need to deal with Russia (just look at
the world map); we do not need France and Germany in any way as much as
they need us. This is simply real-politick, and this Administration
is becoming a good practitioner of this effective real-world approach.
The same is true of our approach to Iran. Again, look at the map
and to Russia's relationship with Iran. We will encourage,
intimidate and coerce Iran to effect change, the best way being to make
something good happen in Afganistan and in Iraq. But
we will not use military action without Russia's acquiescence, out of their
own self-interest. What's wrong with that approach?
The debates and controversy over "globalization" of economies remind
me of the situation in this country at the turn of the 20th century, when
the economy of this country was controlled by a handful of "robber barons"
in no way regulated by law. Teddy Roosevelt took care of that by
enforcing, for the first time, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and its progeny.
needs an effective set of international laws that will substitute for the
law of the jungle. Leveling the playing field can be approached
by requirements relating to environmental pollution more realistically
than by pointing to differences in labor costs among a vast array of countries
and circumstances. Do the Do-able.
The Israel - Palestine issue must be resolved this time around,
and President Bush deserves great credit for putting his and our prestige
on the line to effect this. But three things must happen:
Israel must evacuate the illegal settlements; Palestine must relinquish
any claim to "right of return"; and the violence must end - even if it
takes an international armed force to destroy any recalcitrant terrorist
group and to punish any of its State supporters. A very tall order,
but again do-able.
On the more nearby front, we finally have in one place an expose' regarding
the corrosive effect that the national teachers' unions have had
and continue to have on public education in America. I have
addressed this issue at length on this web site (see Public
Education Politics). Now comes the book by Peter Brimelow
entitled "The Worm In The Apple, How The Teacher Unions Are Destroying
American Education" (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2003, pp296,
$24.95) As pointed out many times before this - and the teacher unions
know it - the only way in which the sorry state of our public schools will
be improved is through vouchers and other methods of applying competition
to this monopoly.
SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 2003
At times, something just needs to be repeated, and repeated and repeated...to
get the idea across. The idea is why we went into Iraq.
The Democrats (having begun the 2004 political compaign), the French
(trying desperately not to be seen as passe' in the New Europe), and other
fellow-travellers keep insisting that the over-riding reason was to
remove WMD's, weapons of mass destruction, which the world had a
decade of reasons to know were being produced (and used) in Iraq. And now,
when Deputy Defense Paul Wolfowitz recently made the frank statement, in
an interview with Vanity Fair, that WMD's were emphasized as the "one issue
that everyone could agree on", the U.S. is accused as having lied to the
world. What #@^^$%&*! Get used to it, people: the main
reason was and will be the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense.
We Americans are not going to go around our neighborhhood, our nation
and the world with targets plastered on our backs. And we will find
more evidence of WMD's, in time. So, I regret having had to return
to this topic. But he who allows the opponent to articulate the issue
has thereby determined the negative outcome. That won't happen here.