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
THURSDAY, June 30, 2005
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announces retirement. "Let
the games begin". One thing is certain: Senator Arlen Spector
will surely complicate matters in the process of nominating and selecting
a successor. As I have said several times in my Rapid Response
regarding abortion and related topics: all I seek is honesty regarding
when human life begins, and due process regarding when such life can be
risked or taken for cause. Maybe this will allow the country to have
a constructive debate on the most distorting and divisive national issue
since slavery...but I doubt it.
If you want to find a good summary of what the USSC did in the recently
ended session, see "Major Rulings of the 2004-2005 Supreme Court
term", USA Today, Wednesday, June 29, 2005, Washington, pA4.
The Democratic Party seems stuck on tactics that resemble "The
Big Lie". For a long time, George W. Bush was just a country
bumpkin. Then he was a pretender to the Presidency, "stolen" from
Most recently but for nearly three years, "there is no connection between
world terrorism, 9/11 and Iraq, and no reason for having invaded that country."
Arrogant; Asinine. Find a transcript of President Bush's recent
report to the nation and read it. You cannot learn what he actually
said in any other way, thanks to the liberal media.
But not all Democrats belong to the AAA Club. Mario Cuomo
articulates a reasonable position on domestic economics and social policy
in his article entitled "Let Good Sense Trump Ideology" (USA Today,
Wednesday, june 29, 2005, The Forum, p13A). At least such presentations
do not immediately suffocate debate, as is so often the case with Democratic
While we ponder China, which is now discussing mutual cooperation with
Russia, don't forget the frequently forgotten and potentially pivotal country,Turkey.
See "Turkey At A Crossroads", by Morton Abramowitz, WSJ, Wednesday, June
29, 2005, Opinion, pA14.
SUNDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 26
through 29, 2005
In no particular order...
The Endangered Species Act is in danger. As a moral corollary
to our own Constitutional right to due process, no species of living thing
should be knowingly allowed to become extinct without due process and just
The NAACP has a new leader. It is hoped that he will see the
future of his black constituents based upon integration...and not on segregation,
as has been the tendency of recent leaders. Integration is possible
together with retention of one's roots and culture, as so many other races
and immigrants have shown.
Africa. The President and David Brooks have it right.
Jeffrey Sachs and the European leaders have it wrong. No more give-aways.
Pay for performance, beginning with honest local and national leadership
in that still-dark continent.
China. Nobody knows how to deal with that behemoth.
One WSJ commentary recently drew a suggested parallel with the way the
British Empire decided to deal with fledgling America in the 1800's: through
cooperation and accommodation. But then...what happened to the British
Empire vis a vis America?
It seems that "Old Europe" (France, Germany....) have learned little
from the recent defeat of the proposed EU Constitution. They oppose
expansion of membership to such applicants as Turkey. If Europe is
to have any united identity, it must look to new blood, the "New Europe",
to do the do-able.
Should terrorists be accorded the benefits of a nation's criminal
justice system, or do they deserve swift and summary justice? The
U.S. does not admit it, but this administration has, correctly I believe,
chosen the latter path. That is the basis for controversies regarding
Guantanamo and regarding current disputes with Italy and with other European
countries. Do they need to lose the Eiffel Tower or St. Peter's Basilica
before they wake up?
Iraq. To paraphrase the warning of then-Secretary of State
Colin Powell: "You break it...you fix it". It is our
responsibility to restore security in Iraq. That will take much more
power than we are now bringing to bear in Iraq and in Afganistan.
In this regard, political considerations should not take precedence, as
they did in Viet Nam. However quotable, President Bush's time-table
("When the Iraqiis stand up, we will stand down"), is just not enough.
Also, let's stop using that bromide: "the generals will get all they ask
for". They have not been allowed to ask for more, by order of General
Kelo v New London. When the controversy over the use of Eminent
Domain began in New London, Ct., I advised several who could be adversely
affected to use all legal means to protect themselves. They did.
Some profited handsomely. Others now have lost, legally. Time
to move on: and time to change the state law for others in the future.
To do otherwise could have civil and/or criminal consequences in this nation
of laws. In this instance: right cause; wrong case.
SATURDAY, June 25, 2005
Time for a bit of catch-up.
Now a Chinese oil giant is making a hostile bid for one or America's
major oil companies. This focuses the question: "To Trade Or Not
To Trade" in the new global economy. I believe that we must trade
openly across national borders, with four conditions: the playing
field must be level...which now it is not; we require that any multi-national
American corporation must have at least one American Public Director on
its Board, in order to monitor the foreign policy-making effects of these
corporations' business activities; we decide what America's "family jewels"
are...including the human impacts...and prohibit trade in them; and American
corporations must pay fair taxes, without access to tax-avoiding foreign
Medical Marijuana...yes, under Federal control - but not with the
ham-handed and ineffective Dick Tracey methods typified by the current
controls over the medical use of methadone. Reflecting the history
of alcohol use and abuse, illicit drug addiction is a disease...treat it.
Illicit drug production and marketing is a crime...punish it severely.
This is not what is now taking place.
Ineligible and greedy Welfare recipients should be cut off, at all ages
of life. This includes those elderly people of means who use
carefully devised loopholes to "divest" themselves of substantial assets
in order to go on the public dole. See a recent article in the WSJ
on the subject.
Once again, America is lagging behind the international community in
a health-related issue. I used to wonder about this; but given
the FDA's recent stumbles, wonder has given way to suspicion. Why
not use a very inexpensive test (the EKG) to screen every student what
wants to begin engaging in competitive sports...in order to avoid unnecessary
deaths from the hereditary disease called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy?
Whose ox would be gored by this simple approach. "Follow the money".
Given the state of the world, we can't know too much about Islam and
the Muslim mind. Any works by Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus
of Princeton University are very useful. Also see Thomas L. Friedman's
compilation of experiences and articles entitled "Longitudes & Attitudes."
(Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, 2002). We will be dealing with
this in one form or another for one or two generations.
Above all, encourage and stimulate frank debate on such problems,
including where self-defense ends and torture begins, instead of suppressing
honest dialogue in storms of vituperation. If our current representatives
cannot do this, throw them all out and get a fresh and more enlightened
batch. "In a democracy, the people always get what they
FRIDAY, June 24, 2005
There are certain times when a confluence of apparently disparate news
stories reflects a pattern. The following can be called: The Fruits
of Rigidity, Polarization, Radicalism and Excess...of the Right and of
By contrast, common sense calls for a sense of proportion,
a approach that defines and holds to basic principles while allowing some
flexibility in achieving goals. In a democracy, that requires open,
informed and extensive discussion by all involved within a framework that
can achieve results; that is, the legislative process. When that
process fails due to excess on both sides, the Judiciary steps in...often
arbitrarily although nearly always bowing to "Stare Decisis".
And that is why we dearly need reform of the electoral processes, including
term limits. What we have now is breaking down, is up for purchase
by the highest bidder, and is losing the trust of the electorate.
That is not only ineffective. It is downright dangerous.
Conservative reaction to the outcome of the Eminent Domain case of Kelo
v New London, as expressed today by George Will and by today's WSJ
editorial. Apart from a substantial mis-statement of the facts of
the case in New London, both conservative commentators get lost in their
own hyperbole about "strict construction" of the U.S. Constitution of the
Founding Fathers...at the expense of common sense.
Ethical conservatives and their liberal counterparts both lose themselves
in their strict adherence to equating abortion with artificial contraception
- or ignoring both, including the abomination of partial birth abortion...as
in the case of liberals.
Those "average Joe's" who believe that they have a God-given
right to the same job for their entire work careers, and the right
to live for life in the same house, no matter what the future holds.
Only the common sense of the people, as distinguished from the rigidity,
polarization, radicalism and excess around us, by becoming more involved
than they ever have been, can avoid the decline and fall of the great and
so far fabulously successful American experiment. Certainly, don't
take our future for granted.
MONDAY through THURSDAY, June 20
through 23, 2005
The USSC case of Kelo v. New London. As I predicted a long
time ago: right cause; wrong case.
Can't the Democrats get their story straight? Either President
Bush retreated on Social Security by allowing several other approaches
to reform to be offered by Republicans. Or this is some kind of trap.
Whatever it is, Democrats just cannot do anything but react. Not
a winning strategy for November.
The time has come for a rebirth of Nuclear Energy in this country, where
only 20% of America's energy needs are so met, and where no new nuclear
energy plant has been built in the last 30 years. That's because
the "Atomic Energy Industry" of the 1960's lied to the people and lost
their trust and good will. But that was then. This is now,
in a new world order. It's time, and environmentalists had better
get on board...or they risk irrelevance for their just causes and ours.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio.
Should they get tax funding despite being palpably biased to the liberal
side of national discussions? Probably. But they should
not complain so loudly - and disingenuously - when so many other important
projects are also being cut.
SUNDAY, June 19, 2005
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY...to all those who are playing that role every moment
of their lives...and not just for one fleeting moment. Here I honor
my father, who had the patience of Job when dealing with me for a time.
I was 16, I thought my father was an idiot. When I reached 18, I
was amazed at how much he had learned in two years". Here I honor
my son, Adam, a great father...and so young. And I honor my son-in-law,
Tim, who has had to be both father and mother to my two grandsons after
the death of their mother, Maura. And I honor my wife of 46 years,
who made it all possible.
There is another father we should honor: The Holy Father, he who just
departed this life, and he who has just arrived. For this, I can
do no better than refer to the recent article by George Weigel: "Light
In A New Dark Age" (WSJ Thursday, April 21, 2005, Opinion, pA16).
As the late John Paul ll said: "In the designs of Providence, there are
no mere coincidences."
SATURDAY, June 18, 2005
Here's an opportunity to show that, in this Rapid Response offering,
I am not just "bloviating". See Newsweek Magazine, June 20, 2005:
Where did you read this first? "No brag...just fact."
"Lost My Secrets? Pay Up, Buddy", by Steven Levy, p12. "Companies
are all too cavalier when it comes to protecting financial info that can
lead to identity theft."
"Realism and Responsibility", by Fareed Zakaria, p42. "Listen
to some of the new wise men of Africa. They insist that unless Africans
get their own house in order, aid will not fix anything."
"Choice Under Fire, Yet Again", by George F. Will, p74. "Teachers
unions fighting school choice for the children of poor families in Florida
use 19th century bigotry and 21st century obscurantism."
FRIDAY, June 17, 2005
The dream of a European Union is beset by tribalism, nativism and
nationalism. In America, the immigrants (even those on the Mayflower)
were able to overwhelm the "natives". In Europe, they're all "natives":
German, French, Italian....And even in Great Britain, becoming a multicultural
nation as a legacy of its colonial days, it's tough going. The Europeans
should give up their the pipe dreams and the delusions of grandeur of their
leaders in Paris and Brussels. They should concentrate on what is
do-able, like defense, some trade and possibly some other economic integration.
They should also forget the French dream of becoming an effective counter-weight
the United States. Only the U.S., by its own mis-steps, can lose
its pre-eminent position in the world for a long time to come.
The "True Lies" discussed yesterday are becoming rampant in political
and ignorant attacks on scientific fact. If you don't like
the facts about the creation of human life, about the origins of life on
earth, about the dire predictions associated with global warming, about
specific autopsy findings, about the limited supply of oil...just ignore
them and lie about them - at least until an occasional post-retirement
confession. Let your children and grandchildren deal with the chaos
you permitted to occur. That will be your legacy. Considering
that, will you be able to "rest in peace"?
THURSDAY, June 16, 2005
"You can't live with it; you can't live without it." Government,
that is. At whatever level, government is always doing something
stupid or greedy. The Bush Administration Department of Justice
just trumped its own attorneys in the massive Tobacco Industry case by
politically reducing its 140 million dollar demand to just over 10 million.
Governor Rell recently vetoed a much needed school nutrition bill that
would finally have removed the junk food from school cafeterias and halls.
New London City Council successfully included a "poison pill" provision
in the City Manager's effort to save needed money by privatizing garbage
pickups. Sellout! But then, once or twice in a
while, a true leader comes along and actually tries to address the really
big issues facing us, the governed. President George Bush
is one of those true leaders...and another is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
California. For that, they are being attacked from all sides.
In these cases, that's a very good sign. See "Popularity Isn't
Everything", by Fred Barnes, WSJ today, Opinion, pA16. And, of
course, the Democrats are in the forefront of all the attacks...the "Do-Nothing"
Party of today. See also "The Doughnut Democrats", WSJ today,
Opinion, pA16. "Whatever happened to the party's middle?"
In addition to the above situation, what really fosters cynicism about
Government are the True Lies that government fosters and that
the populace tolerates. Lies like: human embryos, abortion and "stem
cell" research. Lies like Persistent Vegetative State, life and death.
Lies like the total lack of logic behind "wrongful death of fetus" statutes
vs "partial birth abortion". Lies like "interrogation" vs. "torture".
As suggested recently in this section, all we would need would be a
little truth-telling...like "an embryo is a human being from conception",
and "a person in a persistent vegetative state is still a live human being"...in
order then to discuss extraordinary circumstances regarding life and death
and how to deal with them. This society's present approach to these
issues...True Lies...are demeaning and coarsening all of us beyond civil
recognition. That is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany in the
1930's and what is happening all over the world today. Such actions
will have severe consequences for us all...and not too far in the future
- if we do not return to our collective human dignity. There
is a critical choice here and now.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 13
through 15, 2005
A few ideas, in rapid succession:
Michael Jackson. Around our house, I predicted the courtroom
result. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is a high standard, never achieved
in this case by the prosecution.
Africa. A mess, and getting worse. But what ails that
ocean of misery will not be helped by more give-aways to corrupt governments.
They have already had and squandered a Marshall Plan's worth of aid.
What they need now is responsible help - by responsible donors as well
Wall Street scandals continue. In fact, everytime a "business
leader" opens his or her mouth in public, the self-interest at all costs
is obvious and corrosive to public trust. In that atmosphere, President
Bush has little chance of success with his "privitazation" of Social Security
plans. How about some effective reforms and controls first?
How about we start with the airlines. Give them the freedom
to fail, the way it should be in a de-regulated market...rather than propping
up the losers at the expense of their employees and of the public?
If you want to predict the future, know human nature.
If you want to influence the future, study Demographics. Applying
both of these studies to the 21st century does not paint a pretty picture
for the world. But, we have to play the hand.
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, June 11 and
A busy news cycle. Let's try one-liners again.
The USSC, about to render its decision in the Kelo v New London
case about Eminent Domain, may have signalled its intentions through the
recent Lingle case holding, which upheld the right of legislatures to apply
this Constitutional prerogative of communities.
Those wrestling with the vital issue of Social Security reform are
now said to be wisely including in their deliberations both the ever-extending
longevity of our citizens and the fact that one man's fulfilling work is
another man's quiet desperation.
As with adoption, the issue of extra-embryo donation, the by-product
of in-vitro fertilization, should be made legally as easy as possible,
consistent with "the best interests of the child" and not the selfish
interests of various pressure groups.
We continue to be treated to government lies and other misdemeanors,
the most recent of which is the decision by the U.S. Justice Department
to reduce a proposed settlement amount with those "dissembling miscreants"
of the Tobacco Industry from 140 billion to 10 billion dollars.
Then there is the issue of American "torture" at Gitmo and at other
venues, a distressing review of which is found in the article by George
J. Annas, J.D., MPH, especially since it also implicates physicians and
lawyers...each charged in different ways to protect and not to harm.
("Unspeakably Cruel - Torture, Medical Ethics, and The Law", New
England Journal of Medicine, 352:20, May 19, 2005, p2127 - www.nejm.org).
With Israel and Palestine entrapped in a Gordian Knot, the U.S.
should recall that...in order to solve that knotty issue, Alexander the
Great had to think and act outside the box - with an ax.
The editorial in the NYTimes today (The Center Can Hold, Opinion,
Wk, p13) places its hopes on a handful of Senators instead of on the vast
majority of American citizens who - however divided on any given day or
subject - still believe that American democracy is a majoritarian venture.
THURSDAY and FRIDAY, June 9 and
Our local newspaper (The Day, theday.com), recently published an editorial
entitled "Corrupticut", referring to the evident state of ethical
affairs in Connecticut. It was clear, both before and during
the tawdry stories revolving around former Governor John Rowland, that
State government had been up for grabs for some time...and that the State
Legislature was not inclined to do anything except to hang Rowland for
his stupidity and apparent avarice. Nothing has changed.
The 2005 State Legislature failed to pass ethical reforms, and will be
given yet another chance by Governor Rell in a Special Session in July.
Placing any bets?
Iraq. The Sunnis appear to be holding up the country with
their demand for 25 of 55 seats on the Constitutional committee, despite
the fact that they represent 20% of the Iraqi population. They also
are crying about "other militias", ie. Shii and Kurd, of course in addition
to their own heavily supported terrorists. The only way for the interim
Iraq government and the U.S. to negotiate this matter is from strength...by
establishing security at this late date. The alternative will be
Ultra-liberals are really firing up the rhetoric, relating to President
Bush's judicial nominees, stem-cell research, and of course that old favorite...why
we invaded Iraq. Led by Howard Dean, by Senator Shumer, by an increasingly
anxious National Public Radio, and by several letters recently published
in The Day, these Articulate, Arrogant and Asinine folks are now
coming across Sputtering, Strident and Stupid. (Do you notice all
the "A"s and "S"s there?). The political cartoon by Mike Luckovitch
published today in The Day (theday.com) is a clear example of their state
It has taken the Canadian Supreme Court to blow the whistle on the state
of Canadian health care. Finally. Meanwhile, a important
related story appears in today's The Day entitled "Helping Make Health
Care More Affordable" (Commentary, pA7). What makes it really note-worthy,
since some of us have been proposing Health Savings Accounts for
the last 20 years, is the author, David R. Fusco, President of Anthem
Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Connecticut Market, North Haven.
I hope that this is not just another death-bed...or retirement...conversion.
If it is not, this would be a real break-through.
The Catholic Church, and over a billion dollars squandered.
Gentlemen of the Clergy, this will take more than "three Our Fathers and
three Hail Marys" to achieve repentance. You can start by truly sharing
governance of the Church with the body of the Church...the Laity...as was
promised in Vatican ll - and never fulfilled.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 6
through 8, 2005
Iraq. More proof for the maxim: "If you seek peace, prepare
for war." Since the latest combined U.S. amd Iraqi military operation
against the terrorists ("insurgents" to our politicaly correct crowd),
there have been noticeably fewer bombings and other mayhem; and the Sunnis
are beginning to talk of giving up support for terrorism fin return for
a stake in governance.
Yesterday, school grades came out...for John Kerry. His finally
released Yale College graduation transcript reflects a mediocre student
with a 76 or C average, not the great intellectual we all heard about in
the Presidential campaign. It was President Bush who put the matter
in proper perspective, in a college commencement address during that campaign,
when he was being pictured as a country bumpkin: "To you who are graduating
with honors...well done. And to you C students...you too can be President."
If President Bush is concerned about his "legacy", he would do well
to read a fine book review - of 12 treatises by historians - that
demonstrates the truth of the matter: it is historians who "create" the
legacy, especially revisionist historians. See "Forget The Founding
Fathers", by Barry Gewen, NYTimes Book Review, Sunday, June 5, 2005, p30.
To use an over-used word...that's "humbling".
Dr. Howard Dean. Now there's a man who needs a overdose of
humility. Keep it up, Howard. You're revealing the true mind-set
of the Democratic Party; and in the process you are expanding Republican
control of Congress in the next election.
Prime Minister Tony Blair came to Washington with a "pig in a
poke" to sell, and President Bush is quite properly not buying.
The pig is a massive program of socialism for the entire African continent,
regardless of the efforts and responsibilities - or lack thereof - exerted
by the leaders of that blighted part of the world. See "The Blair
Debt Project, an editorial in the WSJ yesterday (Opinion, pA14) for a more
honest and effective approach.
Public Education, again. The proposal for school choice was
made 50 years ago by economist Milton Friedman, but "most school-choice
programs...are still in their infancy and fighting to survive." ("School
Choice Showdown", editorial in WSJ Monday, June 6, 2005, Opinion, pA10).
At that time, Mr. Friedman wrote: "Governments could require a minimum
level of education which they could finance by giving parents vouchers
redeemable for a specified maximum sum per child per year if spent on 'approved'
educational services." Fifty years later we have a public school
that does not merit John Kerry's C average. Talk about "legacy".
Union teachers, principals and other "educators": this is the legacy you
are leaving from two generations of your efforts. "Is anybody
there? Does anybody care?"
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, June 4 and
Southeastern Connecticut certainly has cause for serious concern, now that
the Submarine Base has been placed on the BRAC List of major
military bases to close. But this is a long and involved process.
We have a very good team on our side...in addition to having the facts
and common sense on our side. And it's hard to win playing defense.
So, why is The Day publishing all these articles about "life after base
closure". Not good psychology for the region. And not a winning
posture towards our adversaries. Whether it was first declared by
Friedrich the Great, or by General George Patton, or by myself: ATTACK...ATTACK!
Dr. Frist, U.S. Senate Majority Leader, is having trouble leading.
Witness the recent activities of the "Mod Squad" and the Republican "Gang
of Seven" relating to the Senate filibuster rules. Dr. Frist should
recall the first rule of surgical treatment of a wound: debride.
In this context, Discipline!
The NYTimes today has an article that should merit scant attention by the
remaining 99.9% of us Americans. The topic is about the rich and
the filthy rich; about old money and new money. An old saying (that
I made up) will suffice. "There are three kinds of money: old
money, new money...and Enough Money". Meanwhile, all those
30,000-plus sq. ft. "homes" some people are building will be merely tombstones
to their own mortality.
Now the ACLU is shredding some of its documents. What is this
world coming to?
And what about that peculiar USSC decision just announced regarding the
accounting firm litigation? Many employees of the firm were ordered
to shred thousands of client and company records...after the company knew
that it was facing Federal charges. How come that is not the requisite
Rea" to support the "Actus Reus" of a crime? I'll have to read
that case in its entirety.
We keep trying to "fool Mother Nature". The latest report
relates to the impending demise of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, in the course
of 60 years of trying. That's why we have never been visited by aliens
from other planets (that I know of): they're too smart to have anything
to do with us Earthlings.
Here is a light sense of irony in the course of an article by Jerry Fischer,
Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, regarding
and Palestine: "Alas, Moses, after wandering 40 years in the desert,
managed to find for the Jews the one spot in the Middle East without oil."
FRIDAY, June 3, 2005
"Amnesty International" this week demonstrated why America should
view anything "International" with a jaundiced eye. Calling Guantanamo
Bay the new Gulag was reckless hyperbole and provocation. See Charles
Krauthammer's article in today's The Day entitled "Stop Whining Over
Alleged Quran Abuse And Defend The U.S." (Commentary, pA11).
Of course, we have many home-grown reckless voices sounding off as well.
Just remember who they are at election time, while our soldiers are
trying to stay alive in a tinder-box in the Middle East.
We need all the facts we can get regarding the stem-call research debate.
An article in today's The Day is informative; ("Stem-Cell Standoff Involves
Complex Moral Problems", by Richard Ostling, Beliefs, pC7)
While Syria shoots Scud missles over Turkey, and Iran enriches Uranium,
and North Korea develops intercontinental missles capable of reaching California,
Prime Minister Tony Blair looks now for pay-back from President Bush in
the form of substantial support for development efforts in Africa.
We would be out of our mind to add anything more to our plate. Instead,
what we need is some utensils...in the form of a fair Draft...to deal with
that plate. Good friend, later - not now.