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
SUNDAY through THURSDAY, March 27
through 31, 2005
Let me try those one-liners again.
And now, a word from Shelley Berman, as published in AARP Bulletin, February,
The U.N; the Sudan; Kofi Annan; need I say more?
Another “dog bites man” story: a recent study found that college
faculty members are even more overwhelmingly liberal than previously imagined.
Something we need more of: the U.S. Supreme Court, deciding a Title
IX case, this week extended more protection to “whistle-blowers”.
Yucca Mountain, nuclear waste storage, and dangerous alternatives: stop
playing politics and just do it!
Brain Death, Persistent Vegetative State...and just plain Persistent.:
Pope John Paul ll is an inspiring example of the last of these.
Photo ID for voter registration and for voting: what’s wrong with that?
Armed Vigilantes patrolling our Southern borders: how to make a bad situation
The “war on drugs” and America’s approach to limiting nuclear proliferation
have something very important in common: neither works!
If this administration’s recent support for the Sharon government’s planned
expansion of West Bank settlements was anything more than helping Ariel
Sharon to pursue his main settlement removal policy, this action too is
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court gave many older Americans an important
tool to assist them in implementing their game plan for their “Golden Years”:
“I Fight Poverty...I Work!
With daily news reports continuing to demonstrate that “Business Ethics”
is an oxymoron, is it any wonder that most Americans are currently opposed
to privatizing a substantial amount of Social Security withholds?
If we want to eliminate the death sentence, let’s make sure that prison
life is not a step up for these miserable and even evil people.
“This Guy is driving down the freeway, and he gets a call from
his wife on the car phone. And she says, “Harry, be very careful...I just
heard on the news on the radio that there’s a car going the wrong way on
the freeway.” And Harry says, “One car? There’s hundreds.”
SATURDAY, March 26, 2005
One rewarding advantage of publishing a Blog, which I guess "Rapid
Response" qualifies as, is the ability to react to an issue before the
traditional publishers and editors can. As a result, being right
a lot of the time can often be substantiated by "reliable sources".
("No brag...just fact".) Of course, the same thing would be true
for wrong "responses".
Today, I offer substantiation for my opinions expressed in the Sunday,
March 20, 2005 Rapid Response regarding Teri Schiavo. See:
1) "Schiavo Case Made Bad Law And Good Politics", by Daniel Henninger,
and 2) "Teri Schiavo's Legacy", Editorial, both in yesterday's WSJ,
Opinion, pA8. Of course, I'm ignoring the claptrap ladled out by
the usual suspects from the Democratic Party and from the ultra-liberal
media on this subject. Albert Einstein reportedly defined "insanity"
as repeating the same actions and expecting different results. Remember
"welfare as we know it", the public education morass, "value neutral" and
politically correct ideals? To that the Democrats now add an expanding
Culture of Death, and a blinding and continuing rage at anything that President
Bush has a hand in. They are not insane, but they are certainly stupid.
And that will be their downfall.
THURSDAY and FRIDAY, March 24 and
This day, Good Friday, I can do no better than to offer the following
news report. GS
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, March 21
through 23, 2005
ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome
Vatican Crusade Against "Da Vinci Code"? Hardly
Clarifications About Debate Organized by Genoa Archdiocese
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Newspapers and agencies worldwide
announced over the past two days that the Vatican has launched a crusade
Brown's best seller "The Da Vinci Code."
In fact, what happened is that the Office for Culture and the University
Archdiocese of Genoa simply organized a debate on the book today, entitled
Vinci Code ... Stories Without History."
Given the repercussions of this initiative, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone,
Genoa, gave an interview Tuesday to Vatican Radio and said, "One cannot
be a modern
young person without having read 'The Da Vinci Code.'"
"We are aware of the circulation of this book in schools and, for this
taken measures of reflection and also of public, open and determined
said the cardinal, a former secretary of the Vatican Congregation for
of the Faith.
The cardinal attributed the success of Brown's book to a visible strategy,
especially after the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
"The Church, with our Pope John Paul II, has made an exceptional impact
present-day humanity, and this has bothered many," he noted.
"The strategy of distribution is the result of absolutely exceptional
including in Catholic bookstores," the cardinal said. "I have complained
bookstores which, for the sake of profit, display piles of this book.
"And, then, there is the strategy of persuasion: You are not an adult
you don't read this book."
Cardinal Bertone mentioned sociologist Philip Jenkins, who says that
the success of
the book is one more proof that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable
"I wonder," said the cardinal, "what would have happened if a book like
been written, full of lies, on the Buddha or Mohammed or even, for
example, if a
novel had been published that manipulated the history of the Holocaust."
The debate held today was entitled "The Da Vinci Code -- Stories Without
The event's guest speaker Massimo Introvigne, founder and director of
Turin-based Center of Studies on New Religions, sent a written response
about the book's historical errors.
Introvigne said that it was necessary to refute the work's errors because
it has a
page entitled "Fact," where the author Dan Brown asserts that all the
of documents and secret rituals in the novel are accurate and are based,
specifically, on the claim that in 1975, the Biblioth?que Nationale
discovered parchments, known as Les Dossiers Secrets, which reveal
the story of the
Priory of Sion.
"The Da Vinci Code" implies that Opus Dei is a "sect" which has entered
conflict with the Church in terms of its knowledge of the Priory of
"In the first place, nobody can conceivably blackmail others on the
basis of the
'secrets of the Priory of Sion,' which basically do not exist," wrote
"These alleged secrets are part of a hoax which proceeds from Plantard
to de S?de,
from de S?de to Lincoln, and from Lincoln to Dan Brown.
"In terms of the Opus Dei -- where, by the way, there are no 'monks,'
what Dan Brown proposes in his book -- not only it is an institution
praised by the Catholic Church, but its founder, Jos? Mar?a Escriv?
been canonized as a saint by the Pope in 2002.
"Dan Brown's 'information' comes from an association of ex-members and
hostile to the Opus Dei, known as The Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN),
explicitly in the novel, which is connected to a much larger 'anti-cult
... ODAN's aggressive opinions on Opus Dei and its founder are in no
way shared by
the Catholic hierarchy."
Introvigne said he believes that "The Da Vinci Code" has had such enormous
because it "brings together two types of social 'tastes' which appear
to be quite
widespread": "on the one hand, the notion of 'conspiracies' and secret
that dominate the world; and, on the other hand, an increasingly unashamed
An interview with Introvigne on the historical errors of "The Da Vinci
posted at www.cesnur.org/2005/mi_02_03d.htm.
A lot to comment on, so I'll try to use "one-liners".
Whatever the legal resolution of the Teri Schiavo turns out to be,
to allow her to die of dehydration is barbaric.
When will the Greedy Geezers...and the worried Geezers...get the
fact that proposed Social Security modifications are about their children
and especially their grandchildren - and not about them?
So the best that Israel can do to promote peace now is to build
another 4,000 dwellings in the West Bank; and the best that the Arab
leaders can do now is to require a return to 1967 borders as the price
of peace. Despite the Bible, this can't be a "match made in Heaven".
If you still don't believe my advice to read the Wall Street Journal
daily for a daily post-graduate education, just take a look at the
Opinion offerings in today's paper (pA14, 15).
The March 19, 2005 edition of The Economist has it just right: "Harvard's
The latest nostrum for health care delivery reform is to make physicians
totally responsible, at least economically, for outcomes...thus making
doctors responsible for patient compliance and for patient stupidity...under
the rubric "The Quality Cure" (see NYTimes Magazine, March 13, 2005, p46).
What some of us predicted in the late 1960's is now on display:
see "What Teachers Hate About Parents", Tlme magazine, Feb. 21, 2005, p40.
SUNDAY, March 20, 2005
More on issues of life and death...heavy stuff, but issues thrust
upon society by the constant advances of medical science. The Teri
Schiavo case involves many interlocking matters that require attention
and review, by our entire society and not to be solved on a case-by-case
basis: definitions of death; persistent vegetative state, as distinguished
from death; concepts of "futility of medical care" (qualitative, quantitative
and physiologic); the parameters of individual self-determination; whether
nutrition and hydration - by whatever means - constitute medical care at
all and thus can ever be legally and ethically withheld from any but a
dead person; ethical organ harvesting. And the ramifications
of even this particular case go well beyond the confines of the State of
Florida, considering the fact that between 10,000 and 25,000 adults and
4,000 to 10, 000 children exist in this country in a persistent vegitative
state on any given day. (See Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 22nd Edition,
2004, p2276). Discussions and court decisions on these issues have
been going on for nearly 3 decades. But it is obvious from the public
reaction to this case that the entire spectrum of issues needs to be revisited...not
by individual hospital ethics committees, not by local or State courts
or by their Governors, but by the Federal Judiciary and ultimately again
by the U.S.Supreme Court, acting for American society at large. Only
in that way can there be a chance at consensus. We in America cannot
afford another abortion-like divide. And besides, these people are
visible, and hard to deny. So, Congress' current efforts to steer
the matter into the Federal courts for adjudication is justified.
Woe to the politician or party that tries to play politics with this one.
SATURDAY, March 19, 2005
Talk about a Culture of Death. I mean no disrespect to
persons of Dutch ancestry in this country. But the most unexpected
and the most lingering effects of the Nazi reign of terror in WW II seem
to be found in Holland, long occupied during that war. How
else to explain the "freedoms" regarding dangerous drugs and sex which
have been a part of legal Dutch life for many years. And how else
to explain the legalization of euthanasia, "except in cases involving
children under 12". See "Dr. Eduard Verhagen: A Doctor
Torn By Newborn's Suffering Cry", The Day today, Region/World, pB4.
Wrong lessons learned.
THURSDAY and FRIDAY, March 17 and
The offering dated March 8 and 9, 2005 in this section reflected some
careful re-evaluation on my part regarding questions of life and death
which we all...not only physicians...are presented with both personally
and through media reports. The Ross death penalty case in Connecticut,
and the Terri Schiavo case in Florida are current examples.
The latter case reflects the importance of a person expressing his or her
opinions regarding leaving this life - whenever it occurs - by means of
an advanced directive / living will, a power of attorney for health care
matters, or at least through discussion with family members. It is
so unfortunate, and so common, that persons like Ms. Schiavo (whose name
in Italian literally means "slave") end up as slaves to the conflicting
efforts of family, courts and legislators. That's not the way it
should or could be. Add to all this the abject and partially remediable
misery described in Jeffery Sachs' recent book, "The End of Poverty"
(excerpted in the March 14, 2005 edition of Time magazine, p44). There
is simply too much Death and Dying in this world, a literal Culture of
Death. And so, henceforth I am opposed to the death
penalty in every instance. That integrates my life-long philosophy...a
Culture of Life.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, March
14 through 16, 2005
As I have promised initially and periodically, my responses to the days'
events in this section would be rapid and common-sense...but only when
I have something to say. So, today I had nothing to say - until my
son Adam ( the web-master of this effort) reminded me that today is
the second anniversary of Rapid Response, and until I also read this
week's Time magazine. So let me complete these two years the way
I started them...by lauding President Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive
self-defense as the only proper response to 9/11. The difference
is that now I have much support, even among the rabid detractors.
"Jon Stewart, the sage of Comedy Central, is one of the few to
be honest about it. 'What if Bush...has been right about this all
along? I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may...implode.'
Daniel Schorr, another critic of the Bush policy, ventured, a bit more
grudgingly, that Bush 'may have had it right'". ("Three
Cheers For The Bush Doctrine", by Charles Krauthammer, in Time, March
14, 2005, p28).
What a birthday present! Thanks, Adam.
And now, onward!
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, March 12 and
There is a disturbing article in today's The Day regarding crime in
New London, Ct. That issue, real or exaggerated, has been a favorite
topic of conversation...especially among our neighboring communities...for
decades. But today's reporting has a more authentic ring to it.
New Londoners have always said that our little city has all of the problems
of New York City - but in manageable form. Let's hope our city
leaders manage this ala Rudy Giuliani and not ala David Dinkens.
Prosecutorial mis-conduct; botched cases leading to innocent people on
death row; long delays in getting a trial; abusive plea bargaining and
setting of bail; judicial social workers of last resort; and now, inadequate
security in what should be the most secure of locales, leading to more
deaths of innocent people including judges themselves. This is more
evidence, added to public education, of what government does badly.
There are some things that we as citizens must afford to do right.
Get those things right before you consider letting government take over
Talk about more evidence. After the events of the last many
months since our forces reached Baghdad, now come indisputable facts of
how our leaders - and Secretary Rumsfeld in particular - botched
post-war Iraq. See "Looting At Weapons Plants Was Systematic,
Iraqi Says", NYTimes today, p1. Could a top executive at any
other large enterprise have survived such mis-management?
FRIDAY, March 11, 2005
First a clarification regarding yesterday's comment: embryonic stem
cell research as envisioned and practised is abortion. No amount
of dancing around the subject can change that. See also "Idea
Of Cloning Takes Stem-Cell Research To Danger Zone", by Charles Krauthammer,
The Day today, Commentary, pA9.
Dan Rather. His swan song earlier this week was a reminder
that he has been a good man and a good reporter, bull dog approach and
personal agenda notwithstanding. His has been much the better way
of dealing with the great issues of the world, as compared with the corporate
and political types, those "dissembling miscreants".
Once again we may be witnessing the epiphany that overtakes many people
at long last, allowing them to come forward with critical information
and opinions...only after they have left - or are about to leave - comfortable
jobs that placed a premium on "going along". I have always considered
that cowardice and hypocracy. Enter Kofi Annan, who has just
discovered terrorism and the need to clearly define and effectively deal
with it world-wide. See "Annan Says Governments Must Define, Outlaw
Terrorism", by Ed McCullough, in The Day today, World, pA2. A
different approach was taken today by some Muslim clerics in Spain,
on the first anniversary of the attack there by terrorists: they have
called for a Fatwa against Osama bin Laden. Now, that's how it's
Is it possible that President George W. Bush has decided to allign
his developing legacy more with that of great president Teddy Roosevelt?
It's too early to tell, but he may be finally embracing the worthy goals
of environmentalism. Now that would be "a good thing", for the nation
and for him. (See "EPA Orders Smog, Soot Reductions Across 28
States", by John Heilprin, in The Day today, Nation, pA4).
WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, March 9
and 10, 2005
Three topics are regularly in the news...and they are closely
related: the death penalty, end of life decisions relating to termination
of medical care, and abortion. Being an advocate, although
ambivalent, of the death penalty and of the medical ethical concept of
"Futility" and its ramifications for a treating physician, I have been
finding myself re-visiting these issues. In this process, I am reviewing
two sources: 1) "Culture of Death", by Wesley J. Smith, (Encounter
Books, San Francisco, 2000; and "Ethical Choices: Case Studies For Medical
Practice", Edited by Lois Snyder, American College of Physicians, Philadelphia,
2005. Indeed, the relationship among the three topics may revolve
around a choice for our society: a choice between a Culture of Death,
and a Culture of Life. Here, a short quotation from an
Encyclical by that Saint in our midst - Pope John Paul II - is directly
on point: "The Gospel of God's love for man, the Gospel of the dignity
of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel."(from
Evangelium Vitae, March 25, 1995). Think about it.
MONDAY and TUESDAY, March 7 and
The Rules of the U.S. Senate are essentially unknown to me, but
a lot seems to have changed since the good ol' days when a filibuster was
a filibuster, complete with army cots in the Senate chambers, and when
everyone knew what kind of issues required a super-majority for passage.
Now we have "filibuster lite", when just the threat becomes the act, and
when ad hoc decisions are made about the need for super-majorities.
Yesterday was a case in point, involving the issue of adding a minimum
wage amendment to the bankruptcy bill now being argued in the Senate.
This sounds like tyranny of the minority. Let's get back the
good ol' days...those of adherence to the substance and spirit of the U.S.
Constitution. That would certainly not be a "nuclear option".
For more background and more Senatorial hypocracy, this time from West
Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, see "The Byrd Option", Editorial,
WSJ yesterday, Opinion, pA18.
More and more equals less and less about terrorism, terrorists and
related procedural and substantive rights. When will we get to the
root of the issue: a specific definition of "terrorism" and acknowledgement
that terrorists do not qualify for the rights of other human beings, those
who belong to civil society.
In my offering in this section on Feb. 14-17, 2005, I commented on "shield
laws" for journalists and other privilege issues. Today I was
pleased to read about support for that position from a very respected journalist.
See "Prominent Journalist Sees No Need For Reporters' Shield Law",
by Ted Mann, The Day today, Region, pB5. In it, Chris Powell of the
Manchester Journal-Inquirer is quoted as having said: "This legislation
would betray that principle (ie. freedom of information) by setting up
a privileged class exempt from the responsibilities of citizenship...This
legislation would allow anyone involved in journalism to refuse to give
evidence, even in the most important court proceeding". Right.
"Urgent health bulletins" are arriving daily, always massaged by
the lay press. Now it's about the use of aspirin by women and the
protection afforded thereby. To paraphrase Shakespeare, "get thee
to a learned intermediary" (aka. your personal physician) before they drive
you crazy. Hint: Vitamin E, 200 units daily, and Aspirin, at least
80mg daily, continue to be very good ideas. Of course, the best idea
is eating and living a healthy life-style. See www.medidietresources.com.
SUNDAY, March 6, 2005
Seniors, Social Security, and Life After Retirement. Among
all the points and counter-points being made, one point is being lost:
is often debilitating to body, mind, and spirit. Current retirees
are realizing that; and they are returning to the work force in new and
different ways. And now the AARP, in its new "Workforce Initiative",
is promoting the idea and is providing a program of help. (See AARP
Launches...." in The Day today, Workday, Section E1). (See also "The
Late, Great 'Golden Years'", by Steve Lohr, the NYTimes today, Wk,
Sec. 4, p1).
The importance of a stable and highly trained workforce in our more
critical industries, like the submarine building industry, is reflected
in the problems that the oil industry is having. See "Labor Shortage
Hurts U.S. Oil Rebound", The Day today, Workday, Section E1.
Will we learn?
More about oil, and our excessive dependence on the unstable Middle
East. I learned this week that 20% of the world's proven oil reserves
lie under the ice of the Arctic, and that several countries are already
laying claim to it. Time to give America's national security
and economic stability equal time with the caribou and other wildlife up
The suppression and manipulation of Science for political and religious
ends is prubably as old as the discovery of fire. In the recent
century we have seen this with regard to the dangers of asbestos, tobacco,
and many hazardous industrial wastes...including CO2 and its contribution
to global warming. Another example is regarding objection to methods
of contraception, placed in the same category as the abomination of abortion.
This tenuous and short-sighted position of the Catholic Church and of others
has unwittingly contributed to "throwing the baby out with the bath-water".
See "Ideology As A Prophylactic", by Bill Fisher, The Day today, Voices
and Views, pC3).
SATURDAY, March 5, 2005
A few days ago I made reference to an article suggesting that we "give
Putin a break", because of the nature of the national beast that he has
by the tail. Now comes more useful insight into the "soul" of
the Russian people, by none other than Nina, the great-granddaughter
of Nikita Khrushchev ("Vova The Dread", in WSJ yesterday, Opinion,
pA14. Her main point: that the Russian people, historically and now,
want and need an autocratic government. The article reminded me of
an "AHA! moment I experienced years ago while engaged in a conversation
with a Polish friend. He said, based upon long experience, that the
people just look Western...but they are really Oriental in personal
and governmental philosophy: emphasizing community and societal requirements
far above individual liberty niceties. So, that's it!
Once again, experts are wrong, this time regarding governmental
and Medical establishment projections that America was, a decade ago, headed
for a glut of physicians. Now they realize that we will shortly have
a shortage, complicated by previous governmental imposition of caps on
medical schools and on residency placements. Those actions were of
a piece with other efforts to contain health care costs without addressing
root causes: the severing of patient considerations of costs from their
care; and the absence of any rational and fair system of prioritization
of provision of health care. Now, let's see what they come up with,
as the Health Care professions are staggering under their efforts to buffer
their patients from the results of all these wrong decisions.
Or maybe what I heard yesterday is part of their efforts: giving budding
physicians a course in "how to act sympathetic". Any physician
or medical student who needs that course should be de-frocked.
More on physicians and their delivery of health care to their patients.
I believe that the Pope nearly died twice, unnecessarily both times,
because his doctors allowed him to bully them away from their gut reactions.
We learned in Medical School, and some of us had bad experiences afterward,
that...if you think of a tracheostomy (now intubation)...you do it!
Some might think that approach autocratic. Maybe, but it is also
WEDNESDAY through FRIDAY, March
2 through 4, 2005
It would appear that, despite the criticism and jail time meted out to
Ivan Boesky, he of the "greed is good" principle, that approach
to life is alive and well. "Do unto others before they do unto
you". How else to explain, on the heels of Enron and World-Com,
today's information that Wal-Mart and many other massive private
corporations are parasitizing Connecticut's Husky health care payment plans
to pay for tens of thousands of their employees? (See "Wal-Mart Employees,
Others Relying On State Insurance Plan", by Ted Mann, The Day today,
pA1) How else to explain "Medicaid For Millionaires",
the elderlaw industry of "asset-shifting" that enables well-to-do seniors
to shield their wealth before they go on the public dole in nursing homes?
(See the editorial in WSJ Thursday, Feb. 24, 2005, Opinion, pA14).
And how else to explain all those AARP members, they of "the geezer
glut", fighting against Social Security reform without offering any solutions
of their own in behalf of their children and grandchildren? (See
The Geezer Glut", in Business Week, Jan. 31, 2005, p44). There
ought to be a law....
On top of all that, the rantings of the pro-abortion crowd were amplified
this week by the belated news that a "physician" in Kansas was finally
being pursued under criminal law by the State Attorney General for having
performed many hundreds of "late term abortions" (aka. infanticide)
over the last decade or more. And for that the Attorney General
had the honor of being reviled in an editorial in the NYTimes. God
is not dead. But the devil certainly has today a very fertile field
in which to sow his seed. For the true enormity of such actions,
in on Sunday at 8:PM to the two hour National Geographic Special entitled
"In The Womb". Hadn't heard or read about it? I wonder
TUESDAY, March 1, 2005
Africa is one thing, a crisis far away and massive...but Haiti?
A couple of hundred miles off America's shores, "A Year After Aristide's
Fall, Haiti Remains In Grip Of Poverty, Fear And Political Paralysis"
(by Michelle Faul, The Day, today, World, pA2). We're rightly spending
lives, money and political currency in the Middle East. And we're
wrongly ignoring a manageable chronic human crisis in our midst.
I know: land reform, "socialism", sugar, maybe even racism. These
are some of the sub-texts for America's inattention. But President
Bush's soaring phrases about the fruits of democracy and our willingness
to help are lost in the cacophony that is Haiti - and for no good reason
or excuse. Shame on us.
Meanwhile, the benefit that can accrue when we set our spirit and
mind to it is beginning to be seen...in Afganistan, in Ukraine, in Iraq,
in Palestine, in Lebanon, even in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya.
(See also: "World Is Watching....", by Thomas Friedman, The Day
today, Commentary, pA7). But don't expect untra-liberal democrats
ever to admit their errors, when they are still defending "Welfare as we
know it". If there is a political counterpart to "arrested human
development", they have it bad.
These same arrogant people are again holding the efforts of the U.N. to
address "Women's Equality" world-wide hostage to their demands regarding
abortions under the rubric "sexual rights". See "U.N. Meeting....",
by Edith M. Lederer, The Day today, world/Nation, pA3.
On the local / national scene, the Eminent Domain case of Kelo vs. New
London was put in proper context in an editorial from the Washington
Post yesterday and reprinted in The Day today (Opinion, pA6). As
I have said before: "Right Cause...Wrong Case".