George A. Sprecace M.D., J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London, P.C.
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RAPID 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.
GS

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WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, JULY 30 and 31, 2003

The news today is about the news, or rather the media.   While Congress is currently debating whether to reverse the recent FCC action allowing even more media control to be held in fewer and fewer hands, we still have the print media.  But we must cross-read in order to get a chance at a balanced presentation of the news.  That means reading at least two newspapers daily, papers with different outlooks.  Like the New York Times? Then read also the Wall Street Journal, an excellent newspaper for general news and commentary.  And vice versaUSA Today is also a good read.  Meanwhile, our own local New London Day demonstrates the importance of this advice.  With the change in publisher about one year ago, this good paper took a prompt tack from mildly right of center to hard left.  What a difference a boss makes.  But it has not made for a better newspaper.  So, read on...but read widely.

GS

TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2003

Today, we take a break from serious stuff.  Bob, thanks for the memories.  We couldn't have survived the twentieth century without you.

GS

MONDAY, JULY 28, 2003

This is about Japan.  How long are we going to have to keep thousands of troops there, presumably to protect the Japanese from unknown invaders, to protect the Chinese and Koreans from the Japanese, and to protect the Japanese from their own history?  That was then...this is now.  Of course, America must insure continued access to military bases in Japan as a potential first line of defense on the Pacific rim.  But the time has come for Japan to undertake the development of its own credible military, not only for self-defense but also so as to be able to contribute to order in the "New World Order".  Would China and North Korea be upset? Yes. Should we do it anyway - or at least use it as a bargaining chip to obtain needed changes in policies by those countries?  Absolutely.  And while we're at it, Japan would be a good place to start implementing mutual fair play in unfettered trade under the highly touted "world economy", which for the U.S. has been mainly a "great sucking sound" for American labor.

GS

SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2003

Those familiar with the offerings on this web site may recall that for some time I have been suggesting an approach to the quagmire of destitution, despair, and despotism that is Africa.  I have called it "Economic Colonialism": a system whereby the first world nations undertake to build the infrastructure, and to care for the human needs of that continent, in return for access to the wealth of natural resources that exist there.  This would be a way of doing good while doing well, a quid pro quo that would be much more effective than the charitable - and perpetual - efforts that continue to miss the mark by far.  Why?  Human nature, that's why!  Now it turns out that the U.N. has had "roadblocks that inhibit the development of small and medium-size businesses in poor countries.  The Commission underlines a new willingness at the U.N. to experiment with concepts that have been distasteful to the nonprofit institutions with which it has worked."  (The Day, Sunday, July 27, 2003, World, pA2)  Has it been all blind "do-goodism", or have some of the U.N. representatives of the African nations been protecting the recipients of hundred of billions in loot that has found its way out of Africa and into Swiss bank accounts in recent decades?  What do you think?

GS

SATURDAY, JULY 26, 2003

Today we offer a test...actually a self-test.  The text is a Persian Proverb.  The only right answer is the truth.

GS

THURSDAY and FRIDAY, JULY 24 and 25, 2003

I'm shocked, shocked!  Had I opened the most recent book by Ann Coulter ("Treason: Liberal Treachery From The Cold War To The War On Terrorism") on Wednesday instead of today, I would have been better able to put that day's offering in context. Granted: this is red meat for conservatives; but it is also very well documented.  Will it change "liberal" minds?  I doubt it.  But let's see how "independent" independent voters are.

GS

WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2003

Can you believe it?  George Gedda, AP writer, just filed a straight-faced article entitled: "Odai, Qusai Deaths Go Against U.S.Ban".  He states: "It was the misfortune of Saddam Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai, that the Bush administration has not bothered to enforce the prohibition".  I was wondering how long it would take for the "articulate, arrogant and asinine" gang that is found under the Democratic tent to demonstrate yet another effort at making a sow's ear out of a silk purse.  What planet do these people live on, who can call a 6 hour military effort in a dangerous country not yet subdued, a "political assassination"?  What else can I say.

GS

MONDAY and TUESDAY, JULY 21 and 22, 2003

At some point during the long reign of terror of Josef Stalin, he is reported to have remarked: "One death is a tragedy; 20 million deaths is a statistic".  That may be appropriate for him.  But how is a relatively religious person, in this case a Christian, supposed to explain the sense of relief and satisfaction felt over the death of the two sons of Saddam Hussein?  Well, here goes.  They have finally reached their Judgement Day.

GS

SATURDAY and SUNDAY, JULY 19 and 20, 2003

Was that an iceberg that I just saw entering Long Island Sound?  Not yet.  But it will be interesting to see how this environment-ambivalent administration tries to explain away today's story about the "severe" season for icebergs in the Atlantic Ocean.  Together with substantial climatic changes world-wide, the progressive increase in salinization of rivers emptying into the oceans, and direct measurements of world temperatures, "global warming" can no longer be considered a nightmare of the "greens".  And there is now mounting evidence that massive changes in world climate, with disastrous results, have not always taken eons to develop, but have evidently developed within a decade or two in our past collective past.  However, fear not: given the ability of govenments to deny such things as the dangers of exposure to asbestos in our navy yards for decades after the evidence was clear, or the effects of "agent orange", or the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder, or the gulf war syndrome, it is no wonder that it is said "there are three kinds of liars...liars, damned  liars, and the government."

More on the international scene.  President Bush certainly has a great deal on his plate.  But now is not the time to be distracted by the latest crop of Neville Chamberlains now roaming the country trying to look "presidential".  He has power, and power must be used - within the boundries of our very adequate constitutional separation of powers.  He must deal with the Mid-East, with Iran and Korea, in unambiguous ways appropriate to each problem.  He must seriously consider how our current armed forces, stretched too thin for today's challenges, must be strengthened; this must include likely enactment of a fairly implemented draft.  And he must do all of this before the election of 2004.  Otherwise, he will have made himself a lame duck...and he will lose the next election.

GS

FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2003

The recent tragic accident in southern California caused by a disabled elderly driver highlights a societal challenge that must now be dealt with: the public safety, social and medical implications of a rapidly growing, increasingly aged and progressively disabled cohort of drivers on the roads.  The right to drive a car is fundamental to the cherished independence of the elderly; and as such it is a fundamental need of society at large.  But that right must be clearly dependent upon demonstrable ability to drive safely.  Here, public safety must trump private rights.  Physicians have the right and responsibility to support or to challenge the ability of their patients to drive, by contacting their Department of Motor Vehicles.  Some physicians actually discharge that responsibility, notwithstanding the consternation and outright anger such action evokes from a patient so affected.  But that cannot be the only safeguard.  Existing laws and new laws must require periodic demonstration of physical and mental ability to drive safely.  Otherwise, accidents such as the most recent one will soon become commonplace.  The incidence of auto accidents among the elderly is already twice the norm; and that statistic is probably too low.
A personal note.  The last time I decided to "pull" a driver's license, from a 90 year old woman whose driving abilities I had come to seriously question, I was bombarded with testimonial letters from her 90 year old friends...friends whom she was driving around. At least no arsenic.

GS

THURSDAY, JULY 17, 2003

It would appear that the Pentagon is coming out of denial.  As more American soldiers die, it finally becomes OK to use the term "guerrilla war" for the situation in Iraq.  So now, what should be the "rules of engagement"?  Massive available force, disarmament of the populace,  swift capital punishment for terrorists,  internment of suspected supporters in one-star concentration camps, severe sanctions against all nations found to be supporting such action, insistence upon the active participation of Iraqii citizens in their own defense and in the pursuit of their own independence....You get the idea.  Can we do this with the resources available in Iraq today? No. Must we do it? Yes. Given the state of the world today, the actions in Afganistan and in Iraq are the right actions taken at the right time, in our self-interest.  Now we must guarantee success.  That means more troops (and not only more National Guard and Reserves, already abused), a fairly imposed national draft, more money, more from the "Coalition of the Willing"...and much less of the crass politicking coming out of the Democratic Party. Let's go, folks: we're in a war; and it is much better fought on foreign soil than here in America.  That's just common sense.

GS

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, JULY 15 and 16, 2003

There is a well-known Chinese blessing: "May you live in interesting times".  That's for sure, as we look around us in the nation and in the world.  The 1950's were nothing like this; all we had to worry about was being vaporized by nuclear war if one side or the other took a wrong step.  Those were the "good old days', the days of the New York Yankees, of President Eisenhower's stewardship of the nation, the hay-day of television....Now:

GS

SUNDAY and MONDAY, JULY 13 and 14, 2003

Well, I guess I was too circumspect in my prediction that the Democrats would demonstrate "angst" by the degree to which they would play the Africa-uranium card.  The actions of many of the Democratic presidential candidates actually demonstrate Desperation.  These accusations against the President, despite clear statements by the highest administration spokesmen - and also by the British government, which was one of the bases for the President's assertions - will come back to haunt them.  It is a matter of fairness...something Americans know and care a lot about.

GS

FRIDAY and SATURDAY, JULY 11 and 12, 2003

Until today, it has been quite appropriate for Congressional legislators to call for an investigation into the issue of President Bush's assertion that Iraq was seeking to obtain uranium from sources in Africa to advance Iraq's well-known program of development of weapons of mass destruction. It was not at all appropriate for some Democrats to call the President of the United States a liar, based upon then-existing information.  Now, as the President has stated, and following very clear statements today regarding the facts in the case by Colon Powell, by Condolezza Rice, and now by CIA Director George Tenet - himself taking unequivocal responsibility for having misled the President - this case should be closed as related to the President's honesty.  We should still hear opinions regarding whether or not Director Tenet should resign his position, but in the final analysis that should be President Bush's call.  Of course, that's not the way in which this probably will play out.  It will be a clear sign of the Democrats' angst regarding the next election to see how they now react in response to their scent for shades of Watergate.

GS

THURSDAY, JULY 10, 2003

Elsewhere on this web site (Health Law, Managed Care Issues) and in earlier offerings of Rapid Response, I have recommended careful consideration of MSA's (Medical Savings Accounts) as a good way for some individuals and employers  to make better sense out of their health care dollars than is now the case with the alphabet soup of health insurance offerings available. The topic comes up now because, after several unsuccessful efforts before the Connecticut legislature on this subject, "An Act Concerning Medical Savings Accounts - Public Act No. 03-78" was signed into law and became effective on July 1. This MSA approach has had so much merit that it has been thwarted by the health insurance industry for nearly two decades.  Finally, the 1996 Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (P.L. 104-191) provided for a "demonstration project" allowing the sale of MSA's to a restricted number of self-employed people and individuals employed at firms with up to 50 employees. This program has not been terminated to date.  Look into it...it may be a perfect fit.

GS

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, JULY 8 and 9, 2003

Now, some medically related issues:

GS

SUNDAY and MONDAY, JULY 6 and 7, 2003

When is a hand-out not a hand-out?  In Iraq, the people seem to equate democracy with demands for hand-outs: "too slow, not enough", after their regime lost a war and while our soldiers are still being assassinated in their streets.  In Africa, those poor people can use all the help we can get to them, which is becoming substantial.  But when some African spokesmen denigrate those efforts, on the eve of a five nation visit by the President of the United States, perhaps we should consider what I have long espoused as "economic colonialism": a quid pro quo wherein we provide for their infrastructure and they turn over an appropriate amount of their raw materials and riches to us.  And then there are the needs of our own citizens in the current "Industrial Devolution": that "great sucking sound" after NAFTA and GATT.  The industrial jobs of tens of thousands of Americans are gone forever.  Those unemployed need to re-tool for industries that are growing and that are in need of trained workers: information technology, service industries, health care delivery....  The Federal Government should provide programs and money for such human re-tooling on a large scale.  That would be investment, not hand-out.

GS

SATURDAY, JULY 5, 2003

In The Day edition, July 4, 2003, we find two reasoned articles: an editorial entitled "The Fourth Of July"; and a report entitled "Patriot Act: Has Government Gone Too Far?"  Reasoned, but wrong.  Each is based, at least implicitly, on the proposition that these are normal times. The American homeland has been attacked.  We are in danger of sustaining, anytime in the future at the hands of madmen, not thousands of deaths as on 9/11/01 but tens of thousands or even millions of deaths and casualties. In these dangerous times we are fortunate to have leadership equal to the challenge.  President Lincoln suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War to deal with that crisis.  Winston Churchill did what he had to do to save his country - and probably Western Civilization - in the early days of WWII.  President Carter failed throughout the Iran hostage crisis to do what should have been done.  President Clinton, true to form, merely held his moistened finger up to the wind in order to devine what he should do about Iraq throughout the 1990's.  Prime Minister Churchill expressed it best when he said: "The exertions which a nation is prepared to make to protect its individual representatives or citizens from outrage is one of the truest measures of its greatness as an organized state". (We Shall Not Fail, by Sandys and Littman, Penguin Books 2003, p 90).  The editors and reporters of The Day seem to be placing more confidence in the bona fides of our enemies than in that of our elected officials.  The American public will not make that mistake.

GS

THURSDAY and FRIDAY, JULY 3 and 4, 2003

GS

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30 through JULY 2, 2003

So many opinions...so little time.  And professional obligations keep getting in the way.

GS


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