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
FRIDAY, April 30, 2004
Considering the amount of newsprint that is beginning to be devoted
to Senator John Kerry, abortion and his reported Catholicism,
Democrats seem to be starting to become a little queezy about the subject.
See: "Catholic Bishops Who Fault Kerry Cross Line", by Thomas C.
Fox, USA Today Thursday, April 29, 2004, The Forum, p 13A. Despite
the note that the author is the publisher of the National Catholic Reporter,
he clearly regards being a Democrat (like that great Catholic, JFK) as
much more important than being an observant Catholic who heeds his conscience
and who avoids giving scandal. See: "Kerry's Catholic Issue",
by Cal Thomas, The Day Wednesday, April 28, 2004, Commentary, pA9.
See also: "Threats To Politicians Wrong", Editorial, The Day Friday,
April 30, 2004, Opinion, pA6. Here, the writer confuses the abomination
of abortion with the unfortunate and unnecessary blanket Church prohibition
against contraception, a Papal decision that flew in the face of the findings
of his own Commission in 1968, and which literally "threw the baby out
with the bath water". The writer then elevates "the right of a woman
to choose..." with abortion, "by its very nature a vile act...", because
it "is the law as established by the Supreme Court." This is
reminiscent of the "Recht Ist Recht" ("Law Is Law") position, established
in Nazi Germany in the 1930's, that "legitimized" involuntary sterilization
and murder of "undesireables" ("untermenschen") and the victims
of the Holocaust. It should also be remembered that the decision
in Roe v Wade was created out of whole cloth, without scientific,
moral or legal basis. Such "laws" are not legtimate. On the
contrary, it is our obligation to counter such "laws", whether as private
citizens or even more so as politicians and public office holders.
This has nothing to do with the much abused "Separation of Church and State".
It has everything to do with core values. And what does all this
have to do with the recent scandals regarding abusive priests? It
is all the more reason for each of us to utilize for ourselves the
moral compass provided by our education in the Catholic Church and elsewhere.
Ultimately, being a Catholic involves more than having been baptized into
the Church; just as being a Jew involves more than having been circumcised.
And the Roman Catholic Church has every right, and a responsibility, to
determine who its members are. Even with this issue addressed, there
is still enough hypocracy around to service the politicians and their surrogates.
This is the "connection to reality" that the writer seeks.
THURSDAY, April 29, 2004
"Lord preserve us from our friends", at least from friends like these.
The great pacifist and equivocator, Kofi Annan, today is quoted
regarding "violent military action by an occupying power against inhabitants
of an occupied country..." How about "liberating" power and "liberated"
country? And in USA Today we read the glaring headline: "Poll:
Iraqis losing patience. Many say Saddam's fall benefited them, but
most want U.S. troops to leave now." Losing patience?
Are they tired of climbing upon the burned hulks of our Humvees in triumph,
or of celebrating the deaths of our soldiers? These are a people
who may not deserve freedom and democracy. They certainly don't appear
to have the stomach to fight for it, with our help, as we had to do
two hundred years ago. And they are rapidly showing themselves to
be a people who can never be friends of ours. Too bad...for them.
There is still time; but not much.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, April
26 through 28, 2004
As sobering and disturbing images have appeared before us through news
media in the last week, like flag-draped coffins of our fallen military,
and Iraqis standing "triumphantly" over destroyed Humvees, it seems that
here in America the penchant for self-inflicted wounds of partisanship
have waned somewhat. Of course, there are always those, like Al Hunt,
the token liberal at the Wall Street Journal, who never miss an opportunity,
fact-based or not, to carp at the doings of the current administration.
So, perhaps we can take the opportunity of this "truce" to suggest a
few common-sensical approaches to some of the more intractible disputes
facing the American electorate this year.
In this quest for common sense approaches to vexing problems, we
the people will unfortunately get little help from our politicians or from
the legal community. They go with what they know. They know
power; they know trial by combat. It is we who will have to lead
them back to common sense...and thereby to position this nation, united,
to deal with a very dangerous world out there over the coming decades.
Regarding Iraq, we're in. We have to succeed by establishing
security, at long last. It makes good sense now, after we have done
the heavy lifting, to see what the U.N. can do to bring a democratic Iraq
Regarding Israel, the Palestinians, and that part of the Arab world
that will not accept reality, the U.S. should restore a semblance of
even-handedness. Ariel Sharon cannot be given a blank check, as is
now the perception. Start with the Gaza Strip, where Israelis represent
5% of the population and control 25% of the land and resources...with no
legitimate claim to either.
Regarding public schools and "choice": start with magnet schools
and charter schools, as well as a limited number of voucher-supported alternatives
as demonstration projects. We cannot continue to allow the teachers
unions to rob our children of their future.
Regarding guns, Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms.
However, "a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of
a free State"...(Amendment II), ownership of assault rifles and other military-like
ordinance should be restricted to well regulated militias that would be
registered with the government for the purpose of assisting in America's
defense in time of need.
Regarding abortion, opposition except in the case of rape, incest,
or if otherwise endangering the life of the mother, is not my position
but could be considered a common sense approach. Similarly, the use
of stem cells obtained from the unused results of infertility procedures
- now relegated to abandonment and ultimate destruction - could be a reasonable
approach to stem cell research, with proper safeguards.
Regarding commerce vs the environmentalists, there are common sense
approaches here, too. I recently adressed that issue in this section,
Each of us can do that with our carefully considered vote in November
and beyond. Look for the leaders and the potential leaders who
offer common sense and not merely controversy.
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, April 24 and
Finally, I have actually read a substantial part of Bob Woodward's new
book, "Plan of Attack". The following are some observations.
Core Values. As the term suggests, these are the fundamental
values that would be expected to guide all actions of a person, whether
public or private. It would appear, however, that Senator John
Kerry waffles on these as well as on many other important issues.
How else to explain how this alleged "Roman Catholic" not only may have
personal misgivings about Church teaching and clear scientific facts about
as the intentional killing of a human life, but also creates scandal by
strongly espousing both abortion on demand and partial birth abortion.
And this, despite clear and recent reiteration of Catholic dogma on the
subject. A person who lacks such core values, or who fails at least
to act on them consistent with his obvious break with Roman Catholicism
is an opportunist and a hypocrite. Bad choice for President of
the United States, and a choice that all Roman Catholics should reject.
Meanwhile, the community of Catholics which is the Church should avoid
its own hypocricy and distance itself from him an his ilk, as the Vatican
has this week declared.
This week the nation celebrated Earth Day...or didn't you notice?
Although most of us care deeply about our water, our air, our environment,
the adversarial tone taken by both despoilers of the earth for profit and
the "tree huggers" tends to turn many people off. What many of the
principals in this debate have forgotten is the difference between Conservation
and Preservation. Conservation embodies the concept of "adaptive
re-use", the idea of an "expanding pie" achievable with imagination and
good will. Preservation too often embodies the concept of maintaining
the status quo based on a "constant pie" view of the world that inevitably
requires winners and losers. They may not recognize it in themselves,
but they are the Malthusians among us. And they are thereby losing
support of many of us who have a more common sense approach to the world's
In history, the times have often made the man, who rose to the challenge.
This book reveals another such time in history. It should be read.
Once again, this famous journalist and author has performed a public service.
With his insistence, the book was published well before the November elections,
to avoid its being misused.
Woodward allows the players to be represented by their own words, with
only limited editorialization. The reader can come to his own conclusions.
However, that method makes quoting out of context easy, as we have seen
this week on nearly every major network and talk show.
Woodward's own numerous appearances on news shows effectively re-oriented
the proper context of the more dramatic revelations, to his great credit.
In this narrative we realize the extremely complex interplay among the
nation's leaders, always working - of necessity - with incomplete
information as the basis for momentous decisions. The Hawks; The
Doves; The Magpies (France, Germany, Hans Blix...).
A fair reading of this material reveals President George W. Bush to be
a good leader, a man for these times. And a man who is comfortable
with his decisions: "I would like to be a two-term president, but if I
am a one-term president, so be it...Fully prepared to live with it."
FRIDAY, April 23, 2004
It looks like nothing will be off limits for controversy in this contentious
election year. Flag-draped coffins of America's fallen soldiers,
resting in the course of their final trip home. At that point, all
America grieves. And it is a great deal more dignified and less traumatic
than the photos of body-bags that were published constantly during the
Viet Nam War. There is no clear right or wrong here. Don't
spoil the moment...and the lesson.
Airport security could be better...in a Fascist state. All
parties are doing their best here. Maybe we can do better.
True to form so far, Secretary Rumsfeld sees no need for a miltary
draft. O.K. Then let's improve the lot of our volunteer military...and
get them over the poverty line and off the food stamp line. That
may induce more volunteers. And let's re-define the role and responsibility
of the National Guard and the Reserves, which have been grossly abused
in the past year. That may allow retention of more of those citizen-soldiers.
One way or another, America needs a larger military force on the ground
in order to be able to meet its domestic and global responsibilities.
THURSDAY, April 22, 2004
The Democrats and their likely candidate continue to answer the
question regarding what they would do differently now in Iraq with the
same lame reply: "we would expand the coalition and involve the U.N".
Sure. Now how do we engage countries whose self-interest lies elsewhere
(France, Germany, Russia)? And how do we engage the U.N., which has
always been highly risk-averse? Meanwhile, the better Democrats do
grudgingly admit that "we have to support our troops".
What Republican strategists are still trying to address the comparative
service records of Senator Kerry and of President Bush? Not
smart, and also not relevant to anything that the public should consider.
As I noted months ago in this section when this foolishness began, they
and most of the rest of us have served honorably in our own way.
Give it a rest!
Today we read that a "March for Women's Lives" will hit the National
Mall Sunday. While on hallowed ground encompassing the Lincoln Memorial,
the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and the just-completed
WWII Memorial, women should really be in a March for Human Lives.
shame on them continues.
In the "dog bites man" news category, we find in today's The
Day the following: "Rowland Inquiry Could Cost $4 million...Committee
co-chairman blames governor for fighting process at every turn" (pB4).
Meanwhile, Governor Rowland seems to have gotten some of the message,
not yet received by the Connecticut Legislature, regarding medical malpractice
reform: "Rowland to veto any malpractice bill that doesn't cap damages"
(at $750,000.) (today's The
Day, pB4). Please see my recent article, which is offered on
this web site in Categories, Health
Senator John McCain continues to make a lot of sense in his positions.
Now there's a man who "tells it like it is". Refreshing.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, April
19 through 21, 2004
Not even an occasional visitor to this section will be surprised to hear
that I view the Wall Street Journal as a better newspaper than the
New York Times: more informative on a daily basis; less biased - except
in its editorial column. In fact, readers during the last several
critical weeks of international developments, with nearly daily in-depth
offerings by many of the real players, may actually conclude that the WSJ
has itself replaced the NYTimes as the "newspaper of record".
Check it out.
Talk about "the perfect squelch". How about Bob Woodward,
in yet another interview this week - this one by Matt Lauer on the
The Today Show - appropriately telling Matt... during one of his common
and breathless two - minute "questions"...to "calm down".
And how about Condoleezza Rice's reaction to Senator John Kerry's
position that Iraq would be more stable under the guidance of the U.N.:
By the way, has anyone actually read the new Woodward book ("Plan
of Attack")? I just bought it. Let's see what his primary sources
actually said, and in what context. Stay tuned.
Today we read in The Day that "Arab Allies Hit Back At Bush Administration:
U.S. Policies on Iraq: Israel producing a 'hatred never equaled" (by
Barry Schweid, pD8). Of course, the mainly despotic Arab leaders
are protecting themselves from "the Arab street". But will they never
learn that the old ways in that part of the world are starting to crumble
of their own weight and before the tide of democracy? What else do
you do with a population, over 30% of which is between the ages of 18 and
30 years, and with a 40% rate of unemployment, but CHANGE?
Two current reports give further substance to opinions expressed for many
months in this section about the errors of Secretary Rumsfeld in
planning and prosecuting the war in Iraq: 1) "Early U.S. Decisions On
Iraq Now Haunt American Efforts", by Farnaz Fassihi et al, WSJ Monday,
April 19, 2004, pA1; and 2) "It's Time To Shelve The Rumsfeld Doctrine",
by Bruce Nussbaum, Business Week, April 26, 2004, p40. To paraphrase
an older comment, with apology: "IT'S THE SECURITY, STUPID!
SUNDAY, April 18, 2004
"On the 18th of April in '75....", 1775, that is. On that
day, Paul Revere took his famous ride to warn his countrymen of the coming
attack by the Redcoats. Who among members of the current and last
administrations can claim his mantle pre-9/11. There are many "Monday
morning quarterbacks", and more than a few who waited until they were safely
retired to present the truth, or at least their version of it. A
good review of the available facts is presented in today's N.Y.Times, pA1,
entitled: "Pre-9/11 Files Show Warnings Were More Dire and Persistent",
by David Johnston and Jim Dwyer. What sticks in my craw is the persistence
of the Democrats on Parade, and particularly Senator John Kerry,
in trying to place whatever blame that exists on the shoulders of the current
President. If he would only read his previous comments and review
his previous positions, the Senator occasionally comes up with a useful
idea. But no, the democrats are so infuriated with President Bush
for having highlighted their deficiencies...national and international...
that they are blinded to their own flashes of wisdom. That will defeat
them in November.
Israel and Palestine. Assassinations seem inherently immoral,
if not often stupid. But how to get the attention of people who,
after all the useless bloodshed, insist on shedding more blood of innocents
on both sides and on encouraging others to do so? ENOUGH!
On each side, the common citizenry must demand an end to the violence;
or else they must depose their current leaders.
Several stories out within the last few days regarding globalization
might be entitled "shovelling back the tide." The Teamsters Union
and their political backers trying to block the entry of trucks as good
(or bad) as theirs from Mexico on trumped-up claims, despite clear agreement
for such commerce within NAFTA. U.S. companies expecting U.S. courts
to be the last word in conflicts involving international business dealings.
Our Democratic politicians, at both the state and federal levels, are offering
crowd-pleasing legislation that would prohibit our companies from out-sourcing
jobs (see "Jobs Headed Overseas - The Debate Over Government Intervention",
by Matthew J. Malone, The Day, Sunday April 18, 2004, pA1). One affected
worker is quoted as saying: "What am I going to do', he asked, "become
a nurse"? Bingo! That is exactly the solution to the
inevitable loss of jobs through progress, as happened to most blacksmiths
at the turn of the 20th century. As I have proposed more than once
in this section, what this country needs, right now, is a WPA / CCC approach
to the current challenge by means of a massive retraining program for
affected workers, underwritten partly by the government and partly by the
businesses that are doing the out-sourcing. Then, that affected
worker quoted above will have a "fishing pole" for the rest of his life.
It should be noted that the Republicans are proposing precisely this approach.
An excellent series of articles in The Day (theday.com) today commemorates
the European Holocaust of World War II and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
of April 1943 (pA1 et seq). Further insight into that terrible period
may be obtained by accessing the offerings on this web site under "The
Involved Citizen - The Catholic Church", particularly the monograph
by Therese Sprecace entitled: "Poland and the
Catholic Church During The Nazi Domination".
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, April 16 and
"Revisionist History". This term refers to a politically
correct or biased re-writing of the facts of history...usually undertaken
decades or even centuries after the fact. But no longer. In
today's world of information and opinion travelling at warp speed throughout
cyberspace, revisionism can be found occurring nearly simultaneously with
fact. And the fastest warp speed encountered is during a political
season. So, in the interests of balance and fairness, here
is a brief "executive summary" of facts occurring over the last 14 years
that have brought us to our present state. Arrogant, you say? No
more arrogant than the spate of books, articles and commentary that actively
seek to distort those facts.
With the end of the Cold War in 1990, this country, always introspective
and isolationist by desire, withdrew our committment to the outside world
wherever possible, reducing our armed forces and our intelligence capabilities
even in the face of irritations like the Balkans, the Middle East, Afganistan,
the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, terrorism, etc. We even
set up legal and bureaucratic barriers to sharing of national security
information between the FBI and the CIA.
As a direct result, and absent the belated whistle-blowing of bureaucrats
like Richard Clarke, neither the last or the present administration had
information necessary to properly assess the danger this country faced
from world terrorism and from rogue states.
Then came 9/11/2001. Another Pearl Harbor. Will we ever learn?
The Bush administration learned fast and properly decided on a policy of
pre-emptive self-defense. First, Afganistan. At the same time,
plans for a possible attack on Iraq if negotiations with the Hussein regime
through the U.N. failed. Should this sequence of events surprise
anyone, as is now being alleged? To have failed to do so would have
amounted to mal-feasance in office. And negotiations did fail, due
directly to the duplicity of France, Germany and Russia, and due to the
duplicity of the U.N., all these players having profited handsomely from
dealings with Iraq throughout the 1990's by means of their illegal manipulation
of the "Food for Oil Program".
But we tried to do it "on the cheap". We knew, or should have known,
how a Iraqi force far inferior to our own would have conducted the war,
especially after the debacle during the first Gulf War. After all,
we had used the same methods in our own American Revolution. Instead,
our civilian leaders dismissed the projections of our military leaders
regarding the likely need for 250,000 - 300,000 troops to deal with the
Iraq war and its aftermath. Again, we knew, or should have known.
For this, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld must take much responsibility.
Even now, this administration is having to use our military, and especially
our National Guard and Reserves, abusively without appearing to address
the systemic problem: this new world order will require a fair draft to
meet all our national and international responsibilities. I hope
that such planning is at least under way, however sensitive the issue in
an election year. Furthermore, the American people should be given
the new price to maintain our security in the future, just as we had to
pay the price for avoiding the end of the world during the 40 years of
the Cold War.
And now, as we hopefully secure Iraq and then hand political authority
to the Iraqi people - who must rise to their own opportunity or lose it
- it is quite appropriate to seek the involvement of the U.N. Nothing
inconsistent in that. Let's see if that august body rises to the
opportunity...and the responsibility.
THURSDAY, April 15, 2004
Tax Day. As much as we grouse about having to shell out
a lot of our hard-earned money yearly, most of us Americans take secret
pride in this as our stake in the American way of life. But we know
that the success of our tax system depends ultimately upon voluntary
compliance. Massive non-compliance and resistance could not be
dealt with by any or all of the government agencies. That's why it
is so important for us to see fairness in the process. That
perception of fairness is being eroded over years by the fact of corporate
and ultra-rich non-payment of taxes. Our leadership had better
address that festering sore soon.
Our local newspaper (The Day), generally excellent in coverage and
tone, has of late become strident its handling of anything relating to
this administration. From the one-sided political cartoons, to the
choice of the recent page 1 photo of the President, to today's editorial
(and many others) addressing his recent press conference and statement,
for this newspaper leadership this President has no clothes. Well,
up, folks. We all are having our say: check out my opinions on
the subject since March, 2003. They are just as valid or invalid
as yours. What will count is what the American people have to say
in November. Until then, let the process operate. We'll all
be able to live with the outcome, thanks to our freedom and democracy.
The CIA and FBI. Did they fight hard enough during the
last decade for what they needed, and didn't get, in order to accomplish
their task? Or did their leaders also "go along to get along"?
Well, now we have the diagnosis: As the President said, "...I can't
make good decisions unless I get valid information." Now let's
wait for the 9/11 Commission to propose some treatment.
In a personal statement published on this web site shortly arter 9/11,
I referred to the Israel - Palestine conflict and to probable and
fair means for resolving that conflict. After another year of evidence
that Mr. Arafat is both unwilling and unable to control his forces in the
interest of peace in the region, President Bush has now accepted "real
politik": 250,000 Israeli settlers on the West Bank cannot be
removed, notwithstanding the original illigitimacy of their action; and
the idea of "right of return" of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians
had become progressively less feasible as the years passed and the bloodshed
continued. It is finally time for the Palestinians and their Arab
supporters to engage in some "real politik" of their own: peace, two independent
states, and ultimately many common interests. The status quo is no
Surprise: Now that the President has signaled to the military commanders
that it's alright to request more forces for Iraq...today they requested
more forces. Too bad Secretary Rumsfeld and his staff had not realized
and corrected this mistake much earlier. There is no substitute
for power, security and respect, especially in that part of the world.
Democrats On Parade. Senator John Kerry and his ilk continue
to disparage the President for "going it alone": and they continue
to seek involvement of the U.N. and others now. We asked then.
We are asking now. Where were and are all our fearless allies...and
the U.N...then and now? What they wanted and still want is veto power
over America's ability to defend itself and its national interests.
Sorry. So, you had better come up with another game plan for the
future as you see it, Senator. And on another topic, economic
isolationism will not work either, notwithstanding the mileage you
get from it in union towns. That's not meant to endorse world trade
and globalization as currently practised. It must be fixed and made
fair. But there's no alternative. See two good articles on
the subject: "Have Not: A Way to Make Globalization Work for Everybody
Else", by Tina Rosenberg, N.Y.Times Magazine, August 18, 2002, p28;
and "The Perils of Protectionism", by George F. Will, Newsweek,
March 29, 2004, p84.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, April
12 through 14, 2004
As important in the war on terrorism as is following the money
trail, just as important is following the information trail. After
a week of mis-characterizing and lampooning Dr. Rice and, through her the
President in expected partisan fashion, the "9/11 Commission" has
finally found red meat in its probe of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.
Information and communication were lacking, within and between the agencies.
And as Dr. Rice testified, the reasons were "systemic": legal and public
sentiment prohibitions to effective cooperation; funding cuts, intentional
or otherwise; and the fact that, before 9/11, "the country was not on a
war footing", as President Bush explained last evening. Thus, as
any computer operator knows, "garbage in, garbage out". Federal legislators
as well as past administrations were complicit in this, as was the public.
Even now, regarding the Patriot Act, some people just don't get it.
Civil liberties and privacy, yes; but always consistent with national security.
And today we learned from CIA Director George Tenet that getting up to
speed against this new world terror will take five years!
How's that for planning? "We has seen the enemy, and they is us".
Meanwhile, As the President said: "We will finish the work of the fallen".
SUNDAY, April 11, 2004
Happy Easter. This is the eternal message of good will
offered to all theistic people of good will, whatever their particular
religious beliefs. It is the message that what we see around us is
not the whole story, not even the most important part of the whole story.
And there is the great basis for hope. Part of that hopefulness is
being demonstrated in the massive interest in Mel Gibson's depiction of
Jesus. Remember: it relates not only to His death; it concludes with
his Resurrection, the critical element. This week's Time magazine
asks the question: "Why Did Jesus Have To Die?" Following a useful
analysis, the only answer can be..."because." Similarly, none of
the recent expositions on the origins of the Holy Bible give any attention
to the fact that the Bible is Holy because it is the direct product of
Divine Inspiration. Otherwise, the messages heard by the great prophets
of antiquity might just be auditory hallucinations of psychotics.
And the Gospels and Letters written decades after Jesus' time might just
be polemics designed as pay-back for troubling times. I don't think
Finally, announcing a special occasional offering in this section:
On Parade". Whenever Democrats have something significant to say, good
or stupid, related comments will appear under this heading. Let's
start with this report today from the N.Y.Times : "John Kerry has no
intention of distancing himself from his fellow Democrat and Massachusetts
senator, Edward M. Kennedy, a relationship that thrills Republicans"
(pA1). Stay tuned.
Iraq. Perhaps the policy makers and military strategists who
stumbled into the current morass could benefit for a basic lesson of
infectious disease treatment. To treat a susceptible infection,
we treat with high, effective doses of antibiotic from the outset, not
with initially weak doses and subsequent gradual increases in dosage.
That is a recipe for antibiotic resistance...and sepsis. Our leaders
would also do well to remember lessons of history. A weaker
military force deals with a stronger enemy with precisely the guerrilla
tactics that we are meeting in Iraq, which America met in a number of "small
wars" throughout the last century...and which George Washington himself
used to secure our own liberty from the greatest military power of that
age. Our leaders should have known that - and now should correct
their tactics to achieve America's goals, whether they admit their errors
What does the PDB of August 6, 2003 have to do with thirty second
attention spans and sound bites? With all the politicking, posturing
and demagoging going on about 9/11 (sound obscene, doesn't it?),
Americans will have to force themselves to Pay Attention and to
get their news from at least three sources if they want to fulfill their
obligations as citizens.
News Flash: Repeated polling of the Iraqi people reveals the following
strong opinions: 1) They are happy that we liberated them; 2) They don't
want to be occupied; 3) They don't want us to leave. How's that???
On the regional scene, the continuing saga of Governor Rowland is
playing out as predicted in this section in recent months. See two
offerings in The Day today:
"Why We Have Rowlands", by former state representative and former mayor
William Collins (Voices and Views, pC3); and the editorial, "Keep Impeachment
Public" (Opinion, pC2). The Governor may be the symptom. He
is not the disease. Both need to be treated.
SATURDAY, April 10, 2004
Today, the opinions offered for many months in this section can be supported
by good recent newspaper articles:
Without saying "I told you so", let's go forward. The uprisings
must be put down with overwhelming force, as is true of any riot, and not
with "pin-point strikes"...that merely put our soldiers in harm's way.
The Iraqi people must be protected with overwhelming force. Let's
get that overwhelming force there, at long last! The Iraqi
people and the clerics must have no doubt about what we, as the
liberating force, will and will not tolerate for an outcome to our
great and painful efforts on our mutual bahalf: democracy, not theocracy;
majority rule with minority representation and protection. Nothing
more; nothing less. The alternative is prolonged occupation,
as pre-emptive self-defense. And the American people also must
have no doubt as to these, the strategy and tactics of this administration
and, I believe, of the vast majority of Americans. Articulate that clearly,
Mr. President. Implement it effectively - and soon. And let's
test it in November. That will be a "light worth the candle".
"The Search for Answers", by Bob Kerry, WSJ Thursday, April 8, 2004, Opinion,
"No Other Option", by Larry Diamond, same reference;
"Quick U.S. Departure From Iraq Could Make Mideast Crisis Worse", by Robert
H. Reid, AP, in The Day (theday.com) Saturday, April 10, 2004, pA1;
"U.S. Losing Moderates, May Be On The Verge Of Iraqi Intifrada", by Trudy
Rubin, The Day Saturday April 10, 2004, Commentary, pA7.
FRIDAY, April 9, 2004
More on Iraq. Some of the families of persons lost
on 9/11 have been making a spectacle of themselves recently, in TV
interviews and cheering selectively at the 9/11 Congressional hearings.
They seem to want only "facts" that point to a scape-goat, particularly
President Bush. Their's was a great loss. But it was no greater
than the loss suffered by the families of over 500 American troops who
have died defending this country in Iraq. When the country is at
war, as America is, we are all troops: whether shopping in the neighborhood
mall, riding a subway. or taking a flight. We knew or should have
known that during at least the last decade. Get the facts, by all
means. But save the judgments and diatribes until then. Our
still living and fighting troops in Iraq would appreciate that.
It is a basic principle of American democracy that the Military is always
under civilian control. But whenever civilian leaders have tried
themselves to micro-manage a war, we have lost. It happened in a
way in the first Gulf War. It happened in Viet Nam. It was
an important factor in Korea. It almost killed this Republic in the
first months of American independence, when General George Washington lost
90% of his army to the British and to the Continental Congress; until the
Congress gave Washington full authority to prosecute the rebellion in December,
1776. And it will happen now in Iraq unless the civilians in the
Pentagon and at the State Department provide the necessary resources and
get out of the way. Recommended readings in this regard include:
Wars Manual - United States Marine Corps, 1940, Sunflower University
Press; and Washington's Crossing, by David Hackett Fischer, Oxford
University Press, 2004.
MONDAY through THURSDAY, April 5
through April 8, 2004
Iraq. What else can we begin with? My concerns regarding
our conduct of the "peace" on this subject go back at least to last
summer, as expressed many times in this section. At no time
did we have a higher priority than to establish and insure security...for
the Iraqi people and for our forces. At no time did we fulfill that
priority. Now we are reaping the whirlwind. And no double-speak
by Secretary Rumsfeld, by General Meyers, or even by the "commanders in
the field" who undoubtedly were ordered not to request more troops, can
hide the mis-calculations involved. We can only hope that
"delaying rotations of troops back to the U.S." is code for the leadership
having gotten the message and properly augmenting our forces in Iraq to
a level that will enable them to secure Iraq and to destroy the opponents
of democracy in that region. The Iraqi people must play
a central role in that effort, now and not after the smoke has cleared.
The 9/11 hearings now going on are crucial to dispelling suspicions
of some Americans that, somehow, this entire nation was asleep at the switch
beforehand. Dr. Rice has made an important observation, among
many, today in her testimony. She pointed to a "structural impediment"
in the legal prohibition, before 9/11, against the FBI and the CIA
sharing information...based on domestic privacy concerns. This defect,
predictably crippling in its effect on our ability to defend the homeland,
has been corrected by the Bush administration through the mechanisms of
the cabinet Department of Homeland Security, and by the Patriot Act.
In the process of getting the facts out, the partisan rantings of Senator
Edward Kennedy and of some other Democrats are not only not helpful;
they are giving aid and comfort to our enemies while we have our troops
engaged in the field. Isn't there a word for that?
There are a lot of other issues out there that we could talk about.
1)The tendency to consider accused people guilty until proven innocent,
something that is becoming epidemic in Connecticut. 2) The
recurring stories of many gigantic corporations that pay no taxes.
3) The real issue of medicine safety and of counterfeit drugs if
we allow access to foreign sources without oversight. 4) The issue
of "academic freedom" on our university campuses, which is becomming
something of an oxymoron in our more liberal institutions of higher learning.
5) The poor track record of this administration in the area of environmental
protection; that has to be fixed, as it is a key issue in the minds
of Americans of all political persuasions. 6) The secret planning
for continuity of federal government, in case of a catasrophic attack,
called "Contingency of Government". I would like to know more
about that, since it involves potentially placing non-elected individuals
in very high places of power.
Finally, what a great finish to this college basketball season. Historic
and inspiring. Go, Huskies!
SUNDAY, April 4, 2004
On the offering in this section for March
17-21, 2004, I expressed an opinion regarding the assassination
by Israel of the Muslim cleric who had headed Hamas and its attacks
on that country. After discussing the matter with my friend and colleague,
Dr. Robert Levin, he sent me his views on the subject, as noted in the
Having read your recent opinion as regards the
elimination of Sheikh Yassin in Gaza, I would temper it with the two articles
that I have included with this letter. Yassin was hardly an enfeebled
old man. It would be worth your while to read the Hamas Charter.
It reads like it was taken verbatim from Mein Kampf. It expresses
the same fate for all Jews and absolutely states NO compromise of any sort
with Israel, ever. It clearly envisions an Islamic republic from
the Jordan River to the Mediterranean under Islamic law that is judenrein.
It seems as if the Bush Doctrine on terrorism is fine so long as it is
only implemented by Americans. The overwhelming view of the Jewish
community is that this double standard for Israel is unacceptable.
The rising level of anger that I see is palpable and Yassin won't be missed.
Yassin ordered the homicide bombing of Israeli civilians, Israel finally
strikes back, and the victims come under international criticism.
Sharon's impending withdrawal from Gaza is welcome, so long as Hamas is
not left in control. Israel will have to step forward to identify
and protect what moderate leadership remains in Gaza; this has been a gaping
hole in Israeli policy for a long time. Arab leaders should be stepping
forward to endorse this withdrawl and use this as an opportunity to push
for an over all settlement. I'm not holding my breath. Arab
leaders have more to gain by leaving the situation festering so that their
own pitiful leadership and lack of vision can be excused by blaming the
troubles of the Arab world on Israel and the United States. The Palestinian
Arabs make a great distraction for the "Arab street". The leaders
of the Muslim world have simply become Hitler's stepchildren. Just
read what the Malaysian prime minister said before representatives of 57
nations (mostly Muslim) last autumn, and not one person stood up to shout
him down, condemn him, or even leave the room in protest.
As pertains to Israel versus the Palestinian Arabs,
there is and never will be "moral equivalency." What passes for leadership
amongst the Palestinian Arabs has gone out of its way to politicize, radicalize,
and morally impoverish (with hate) an entire generation, while they pilfer
the coffers of billions of euros donated by the E.U. and move their own
families out of harms way (in Paris or London). Imagine what ten
years of non-violent civil disobedience could have accomplished, a la Gandhi,
but that presupposes people eventually living peaceably with each other.
The PLO is not interested in peaceful coexistence because it means they
have to accept Israel (living side by side with a Palestinian state) as
a fait accompli, which is not a part of their charter. The Palestinian
Arabs desperately need a Gandhi who won't suffer Gandhi's fate.
Yet another documentation of the inadequate American
force assigned to win the peace in Iraq is presented today in a NYTimes
review of the book by Rick Atkinson entitled "In The Company Of Soldiers"
(Book Review, p13). "The coalition invasion force was less than
half the size of the one that liberated Kuwait in 1991, because that was
all that was needed to defeat Hussein's eviscerated services. But
professional soldiers realized a lot more boots on the ground would be
need to maintain order once the dictator went down and the occupation ('the
O-word') began. The soldiers' concerns were ignored. The wishful
assumptions of the Pentagon civilians about the after-war were just as
wildly off base as their intelligence about weapons of mass destruction.
'The abrupt transition to anarchy was a disaster not only for Iraq but
also for the United States,' Atkinson writes". I
still hope that that "disaster" can be averted if Secretary Rumsfeld and
the President correct their error and send more forces: to establish security,
to punish opposition, and finally to convince Iraqiis that coalition power
is the only game in town - until they establish their own democratic form
of government. Iraq must be the show-case of the Middle East, not
a burned and looted store.
On the local scene, we hope that New London Superintendent
Christopher Clouette is not just another educator engaging in "double-speak",
a chronic affliction of that group. In yet another hand-wringing
meeting regarding the federal No Child Left Behind Act, as reported today
in The Day, (by Robert Hamilton, Region, D1), at one point he is quoted
as saying: "'No more excuses,' to me, is the spirit of No Child Left Behind...All
children can learn, and no child should be viewed as too disadvantaged
to matter.'" Later in the same article we read this quote: "'The
underlying spirit of No Child Left Behind is an attack on public schools--they're
not meant to survive...When the law allows "school choice" for students
in underperforming schools, it's code language for the dismantling of the
public school system.'" Now, which is it? Do you lead
the public schools to actually accomplish what they should have been doing
during the last several decades...teaching and getting adequate demonstrable
results? Or can we just expect just some more clap-trap? We
New Londoners are waiting.
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, April 2 and
April 3, 2004
More on fundamentalist Christians (and some Roman Catholics).
"Did you hear the one about" the Jewish soul who got up to the gates of
Heaven and was examined by St. Peter? The eternal gate-keeper said:
you're admitted to Heaven, the Jewish Wing, #3; but just tip-toe
past Wing #1 on your way there". Then came a Muslim soul. After
examination, St. Peter said: "you're admitted to Heaven, the Muslim Wing,
#4; but just tip-toe past Wing #1 on your way there." Then came a
Hindu soul. Same thing. But this soul asked St. Peter: "why
do we have to tip-toe past Wing #1? Sighing, St. Peter replied: "because
that's where the Christians are...and they think they're the only ones
As if most of us needed more examples of the perpetuation of mediocrity
in institutions of all sorts, events of recent days provide more examples
of the dis-credited maxim in action: "If you want to get along, go along."
There is Richard Clarke, by his own admission waiting until his retirement
after 30 years to "tell the truth". There is former Secretary of
Defense Robert S. McNamara in his just-released apologia pro vita sua
entitled "The Fog Of War", suppressing any effective expression of his
personal convictions against the conduct of the Viet Nam war between 1962
and 1968. There is even the specter of U.S. Catholic Bishops having
trouble deciding what to do about "Catholic" politicians who vote against
bills criminalizing partial birth abortions and attacks on fetus as well
as mother ("Kerry, Candidate and Catholic, Creates Uneasiness for Church",
NYTimes Friday, April 2, 2004 pA1). Has anybody heard of "giving
scandal" as a serious sin? Such individuals should be instructed
in their Religion; failing that, they should be ostracized as far
as the Church and Catholics are concerned. And about the whole sordid
practice of "going along...," what happened to Integrity?
More on pre-and -post 9/11, Iraq, and the facts. There are
excellent factual articles on the Opinion page of the WSJ Friday, April
2 (pA8) and WSJ Monday, March 29 (pA18), as well as in USA Today Monday,
March 29 (pA1). "The Truth Will Make You Free".
On to a medical note now. Ever since the popular media discovered
medical journals, their authors and would-be authors, and ever since the
coining of the phrase "Evidence-based Medicine", the combination of a rush
to the evening news by some of these researchers and their own arrogance
has resulted in public confusion over such topics as post-menopausal hormone
therapy, the importance of serum lipid profiles (HDl, LDL, Cholesterol,
Triglycerides), the value of aspirin and anti-oxidant vitamines, the importance
of "cardiac CRP", and the importance of inflamation in general in chronic
disease. Remember: clinical evidence is still evidence; and some
of us physicians began prescribing daily aspirin to avoid cardiac disease
12 years before the researchers finally gave their double-blind, cross-over
impramatur to the practice. In the final analysis, keep informed,
and then discuss the issues with your informed personal physician.
Regarding elevated serum lipids and elevated cardiac CRP, they should be
treated aggressively with the lipid-lowering, anti-inflamatory "statin
drugs", in my opinion.
MONDAY through THURSDAY, March 29
through April 1, 2004
Somewhere in the Bible there is a Divine admonition not to call another
Fool". But today the temptation is great, referring to
whoever was responsible for re-printing today, in The
Day, without comment, an editorial from the San Jose Mercury News.
The title, "Get Rid Of This Law", refers to the recently enacted Partial
Birth Abortion Act, passed after years of testimony, none of which supported
the allegation that this murderous act was ever necessary to protect the
health of the mother. The gimmick here has always been reference
to "the mother's health". Is that mental health, financial health,
social health, or what? Even in the hypothetical situation where
the mother was in serious physical jeopardy for her life, in balance with
the life of her full-term child, anything could be done to save her life
under the principle of "primary intent". And so far as the positions
of the AMA and the ACOG are concerned, "a pox on both their houses".
Remember...it has been many years since physicians have been required to
take the Oath of Hippocrates. So, even with physicians, "let the
Regarding the use of condoms, Roman Catholic Bishop Dowling of Rostenberg,
of South Africa, faced with a near pandemic of HIV and AIDS in that country
and in Africa, has come out in favor if their use, despite the position
of the Catholic Church. That position has always been one that, in
my opinion, ran far ahead of its theological support and that, in its coupling
with the vital prohibition against against abortion, literally threw
the baby out with the bath water. Now Bishop Dowling has invoked
the principle of "primary intent" to support this position: a condom is
used to avoid the spread of lethal disease, not primarily as a contraceptive.
Reacting to the interpretation by fundamentalist Christians of the
Book of Revelation, whereby only Christians would be saved, the Dean of
Union Theological Seminary in New York put it this way: "I don't think
God was selling cosmic fire insurance through Jesus." Right on,
Regarding the Jews and Islam, and more particularly Israel and Palestine,
attendance last night at a lecture at Connecticut College given by Fred
Astren, Director of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University, reinforced
my earlier comments in this section on the subject; namely, that reference
to "religion" in this controversy and throughout the Middle East is
a gigantic distraction from the real issue...the "real politik"
of power. As has happened so often in history, "religion" is
being used by all sides for political gain. For a bit of counter-point
on this subject, look shortly here for a letter written to me by my friend
and colleague, Robert Levin, M.D.
Finally, Fallujah. As has been noted for many months in this
section, we have played "Mr. Nice Guy" for too long. Most people,
especially in the Middle East, respect nothing in the absence of power.
And given our incursion into Iraq, the Iraqi people have a right to expect
the establishment of security, through raw and overwhelming power if necessary.
l predict that Secretary Rumsfeld will, in his 80's like former Secretary
McNamara, admit to this failure in his policies. It too is costing