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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

FRIDAY and Saturday, June 29 and 30, 2007

Every once in a while, I wax poetic about the great post-graduate course in THE WORLD offered daily in the Wall Street Journal, Opinion section.   This is just too good to miss: factual, thoughtful, rational, and - except for the actual editorials - non-partisan.  The following are just a few recent "must reads" appearing this week. 
Regarding whether "IN A DEMOCRACY, THE PEOPLE ALWAYS GET WHAT THEY DESERVE", there are three kinds of people: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who are constantly saying "Wha Hoppen?"  As stated in the last two offerings in this section, if we as a nation are to survive this current "sepsis of governance", no one can afford to be in that last category.  Wake up, folks, and get up to speed...or stay home on Election Day.

GS

TUESDAY through THURSDAY, June 26 through 28, 2007

"PUBLIC POLICY"?  Too high-minded a term for the confusion and mis-steps reflected these days at all levels of government. 
It would be easy to diagnose all this as reflecting deep divisions within our citizenry.  But this is systemic: a sepsis in our governance.  I have long subscribed to the tenet that "In a democracy, the people always get what they deserve".  But I'm not so sure now that we deserve all of this.  I sure don't.

GS

MONDAY, June 25, 2007

And here you have it, folks: good concept; terrible execution by this administration.  GS

Rice defends U.S. policy despite Mideast strife, by Arshad Mohammed

PARIS (Reuters) - Eleven months after saying the world was witnessing "the birth pangs of a new Middle East," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended U.S. policy in the face of strife in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.

Rice was ridiculed for having made the remark last July during the war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon by critics who believe the Bush administration has drastically undermined the stability of the Middle East.

Asked about the comment at a news conference with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Rice on Sunday argued Iraq was better off for the 2003 ousting of Saddam Hussein as was Lebanon for the 2005 departure of Syrian troops from its soil.

"Democracy is hard. And I see it is especially hard when there are determined enemies who try and strangle it," Rice said when a reporter referred to her "birth pangs" remark and asked how the "the baby" was doing nearly a year later.

Rice took issue with the idea that the Middle East was more "stable" before the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and unleashed the brutal insurgency in Iraq.

"What stability? The stability in which Saddam Hussein put 300,000 people in mass graves -- that was stability? The stability in which Syrian forces were embedded in Lebanon -- that was stability?" she asked.

"The stability in which Yasser Arafat turned down an opportunity for the Palestinian people to have their own state -- that was stability?" she added, alluding to the failure of U.S.-brokered peace talks between the late Palestinian leader and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak in 2000.

"NIGHTMARE SCENARIO"

More than 3,500 U.S. soldiers and an estimated tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died since the U.S.-led invasion gave rise to the insurgency and ethnic strife in Iraq.

While Syrian troops have left Lebanon, the country remains divided between the Western-backed government led by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the Hezbollah opposition.

Siniora has sent Lebanese troops to fight guerrillas from Fatah al-Islam, an al Qaeda-inspired Sunni group, in a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli for the past five weeks.

U.S. efforts to promote Israel-Palestinian peace have made little progress, in part because of the internal Palestinian split between President Mahmoud Abbas of secular Fatah and Islamist Hamas, which won parliamentary elections last year.

The United States has tried to strengthen Abbas in his struggle with Hamas, which Washington views as a terrorist group.

The power struggle erupted into outright warfare this month when Hamas forces defeated Fatah to take control of Gaza, effectively splitting the Palestinians between the coastal strip dominated by Hamas and the West Bank ruled by Fatah.

"It's hard for democracy to take hold in a place in which it has not taken hold before but I am confident about the triumph of these values because I have seen it happen before," Rice said.

Shibley Telhami, a professor at the University of Maryland, rejected Rice's analysis.

"If before the Iraq war someone could have described the scenario that we now face in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, as a possible outcome of the war, the Bush Administration -- and everyone else -- would have seen this as a nightmare scenario," he said.

"People want more liberty for sure, but they fear the anarchy they witness in Iraq and reject foreign occupation even more strongly than they desire democracy," Telhami added.

SATURDAY
and SUNDAY, June 23 and 24, 2007

I guess it had to happen, as it does in the Indy 500: both the liberal Democrats and the ultra-conservative Republicans have been running so far ahead of their constituencies that they have overtaken the least liberal and least conservative among them, respectively.  An article in this week's NYTimes by Melinda Henneberger supports the proposition: "Why Pro-Choice Is A Bad Choice For Democrats".  Writing about the purple prose being posted by ultra-conservatives regarding immigration reform, Timothy Egan reports in a NYTimes article this week that two of these Republicans were defeated in Phoenix and in southern Arizona ("Republicans Losing The West").  NOW HEAR THIS:  the vast majority of Americans see the many problems this nation is ignoring as not a result of what some would like to call a President who seems "all hat and no cattle"...but as the result of a severe systemic fault -line that has developed in the body politic.  The people want decisions and results that are arrived at by the best consensus that can be honestly and legally achieved.  The party that comes closest to a public perception of that goal will win in 2008 and for many years thereafter.

GS

FRIDAY, June 22, 2007

Here is "More proof of abuse by our troops".  GS

THURSDAY, June 21, 2007

Why do we always have a sense of deja vu when reading the news, as if we've read the same news time and time again?  Because nothing gets resolved with our current crop of leaders at all levels.  
Folks, we can't forget our foreign enemies.  But we are certainly weakening, and ultimately defeating, ourselves by this insane approach to our serious problems and vital issues.  The most recent national figure to point this out is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg...who may be the first person in American history to be running for the Vice Presidency.  If he can stimulate a course change for this country, more power to him.

GS

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 18 through 20, 2007

...AND WHO SAYS I DON'T HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR.  (See also "A Bit oF Whimsey" on this web site)."  GS

Hillary Clinton said that her childhood dream was to be an Olympic athlete. But she was not athletic enough. She said she wanted to be an astronaut, but at the time they didn't take women. She said she wanted to go into medicine, but hospitals made her woozy. Should she be telling people this story? I mean she's basically saying she wants to be president because she can't do anything else."
--Jay Leno

"Well, the big story -- Hillary Clinton will be running for president in 2008. You know why I think she's running? I think she finally wants to see what it's like to sleep in the president's bed."
--Jay Leno

"Top Democrats have mixed feelings about Sen. Hillary Clinton running for president. Apparently, some Democrats don't like the idea, while others hate it."
--Conan O'Brien

"In a fiery speech this weekend, Hillary Clinton wondered why President Bush can't find the tallest man in Afghanistan. Probably for the same reason she couldn't find the fattest intern under the desk."
--Jay Leno

"Former President Bill Clinton said that if his wife, Hillary, is elected president, he will do whatever she wants.
You know Bill Clinton -- when he makes a vow to Hillary, you can take that to the bank."
--Jay Leno

A student from the University of Washington has sold his soul on eBay for $400. He's a law student, so he probably doesn't need it, but still, that's not very much. Today, Hillary Clinton said, 'Hey, at least I got some furniture and a Senate seat for mine."
-Jay Leno

"Hillary Clinton said today that she wants legislation to allow all ex-felons to vote. See, this way all the Clinton's former business partners can vote for her in 2008."
--Jay Leno

Hillary Clinton's 506-page memoirs have come out. So much of her personality shines through, that in the end, you, too, will want to sleep with an intern."
Craig Kilborn

In Hillary Clinton's new book 'Living History,' Hillary details what it was like meeting Bill Clinton, falling in love with him, getting married, and living a passionate, wonderful life as husband and wife. Then on page two, the trouble starts.
- Jay Leno

"In the book, she says when Bill told her he was having an affair, she said "I could hardly breathe, I was gulping for air.
No, I'm sorry, that's what Monica said."
- David Letterman

"Hillary Clinton, our junior senator from New York, announced that she has no intentions of ever, ever running for office of the President of  the United States. Her husband, Bill Clinton, is bitterly disappointed.
He is crushed. There go his dreams of becoming a two-impeachment family."
- David Letterman

"Last night, Senator Hillary Clinton hosted her first party in her new home in Washington People said it was a lot like the parties she used to host at the White House. In fact, even the furniture was the same."
- Jay Leno

"Senator Hillary Clinton is attacking President Bush for breaking his campaign promise to cut carbon dioxide emissions, saying a promise made, a promise broken. And then out of habit, she demanded that Bush spend the night on the couch."
- Craig Kilborn

"CNN found that Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America. Women admire her because she's strong and successful. Men admire her because she allows her husband to cheat and get away with it."
- Jay Leno

"Hillary Clinton is the junior senator from the great state of New York. When they swore her in, she used the Clinton family Bible. . the one with only seven commandments."
-David Letterman

SUNDAY, June 17, 2007

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY.  Like one's birthday, it's always nice to have a little nice attention directed your way.  And an article on "fathering" that appears in this week's WSJ and in today's The Day is also appreciated ("What Kids Get From Time With Dad", by Sue Shellenbarger, Workday, Sec. D, p1).  In it we hear - again, but not in a long time - that the role of fathers in parenting should augment but is distinct from that of the mother: less "touchy-feely" but just as warm, and more real-world.  Thus, single parent households and same gender parent households are definitely second best.  What?  Did I say something not "politically correct"?  "Just the facts, Ma'am". 
 
GS

TUESDAY through SATURDAY, June 12 through 16, 2007

Dave, this is very important, and will have major repercussions wherever unions hold sway...as in the public education arena.  I know a lot of good teachers, and no good teachers' unions.  GS

This is very interesting.  Last year, our GOP Secretary of State proposed rules (developed by two lawyers on our Lincoln Club Board) to do exactly what the SupCt recently said is OK.  The Colorado Court of Appeals overruled her last year, based in large part on that Washington ruling that is now overturned.  And it was a 9-0 decision--amazing.  DS

Think Tank Lauds Major Decision for Free Speech
Institute Celebrates U.S. Supreme Court Victory in Davenport v WEA
 
GOLDEN, Colo.—Colorado’s free market think tank hails a new landmark legal ruling that confirms the state’s authority to protect public-sector workers’ rights.
 
On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Davenport v Washington Education Association that states may create laws granting extra protections to public-sector workers who want to be asked first before the union can spend their money on political causes. The 9-0 decision upholds a 1992 law approved by 73 percent of Washington state voters requiring unions to receive “affirmative authorization” from non-member agency fee payers before spending mandatory fees on politics.
 
The Court clearly stated that individual workers’ First Amendment rights trump the unions’ First Amendment rights. In 2006, the Colorado Court of Appeals relied on arguments now overturned by the Davenport decision to moot a Colorado Secretary of State rule that required members to give permission before organizations could spend their money on state political campaigns.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared a major obstacle preventing Colorado from adopting a policy that protects the rights of all public employees to choose how their money is spent.
 
“The Davenport decision bodes well for workers’ rights in Colorado,” said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute. “It only makes the case stronger that workers deserve to be asked first.”
 
Evidence of the Independence Institute’s successful efforts to notify union member teachers of their rights to receive political refunds was included in 2006 briefs filed in the Davenport case.
 
“We’ve heard firsthand from many teachers who didn’t know some of their hard-earned dollars fund political campaigns,” said Caldara. “We’re thrilled at the Supreme Court’s strong decision for free speech and common sense, and hope it opens the door for rulings that protect the rights of members and non-members alike.”
 
The Institute introduced five Colorado public school teachers to video producers from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Wash., an organization that has brought repeated attention to union violations of the 1992 Washington state law. The Colorado teachers explained the need for the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold individual free speech in an online video.
 
“Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the issue [the union supports], I just think it’s my money first, and I feel like they should ask me,” said Eaglecrest High School veteran band teacher Steve Hinman.
 
Hinman, a Colorado Education Association member, was one of 40 teachers from across the country who came to Washington, D.C., in January to observe the Davenport case’s oral arguments and to participate in a press conference sponsored by Evergreen.
 
The Independence Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Golden, Colo.

MONDAY, June 11, 2007

As a reminder, see the Rapid Response for Monday through Wednesday, November 28 through 30, 2005Res Ipsa Loquitur.  GS

SUNDAY, June 10, 2007

I don't know about you, but the continuing great volume of deaths of our troops in Iraq from IED's has been very frustrating and puzzling to me.  The following may help.  GS

Improvised Explosive Defeat?
By David Ignatius
Washington Post
Sunday, June 10, 2007; Page B07

The photographs gathered by The Post each month in a gallery called Faces of the Fallen are haunting. The soldiers are so young, enlisted men and women mostly, usually dressed in the uniforms they wore in Iraq and Afghanistan. What's striking is that most of them were killed by roadside bombs known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

The United States is losing the war in Iraq because it cannot combat these makeshift weapons. An army with unimaginable firepower is being driven out by guerrillas armed with a crude arsenal of explosives and blasting caps, triggered by cellphones and garage-door openers.

This is Gulliver's torment, circa 2007. We have thrown our money and technology at the problem, with limited effect. In 2004 the Pentagon created a special task force called the Joint IED Defeat Organization (or JIEDDO, in Pentagon-ese). It has spent $6.3 billion and assembled a staff of nearly 400, but every day more of our brave young people die, and we seem unable to stop it.

"Once the bomb is made, it's too late," says Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has studied the IED problem. She says the best hope is to disrupt the money and supplies that allow the bombs to be constructed.

Low-tech seems to trump high-tech. The military is operating nearly 5,000 robots in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared with 150 in 2004. The latest model, dubbed "Fido," has a digital nose that can sniff explosives. Yet the bombs are so cheap and easy to make, and the robot sniffers are so expensive and finicky to operate, that the cost-benefit ratio seems to work in favor of the insurgents.

We have dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over Iraq at any given time, monitoring highways and ammunition dumps and suspected terrorists. And we have many hundreds of additional sensors, adding more data. But the flow of this intelligence information is so vast that it overwhelms our ability to analyze it. Retired Gen. Montgomery Meigs, who heads JIEDDO, disagrees. "It's not true that there is so much data we're swamped and can't deal with it," he said.

Someday, perhaps, the Pentagon will track and target bombers by identifying biological tags -- smells or DNA traces that are unique signatures. Someday, we will be able to examine the microbes on an insurgent's skin or in his gut to find out if he was trained in Iran or the Bekaa Valley or Afghanistan. But in a world with an ever-expanding supply of suicide bombers, will such technology make any difference?

The insurgents who kill our young soldiers are ruthless, but we have sometimes been cautious in our response. Take the question of targeting bomb makers: There may be an unlimited supply of explosives in Iraq, but there is not an unlimited supply of people who know how to wire the detonators. In 2004, CIA operatives in Iraq believed that they had identified the signatures of 11 bomb makers. They proposed a diabolical -- but potentially effective -- sabotage program that would have flooded Iraq with booby-trapped detonators designed to explode in the bomb makers' hands. But the CIA general counsel's office said no. The lawyers claimed that the agency lacked authority for such an operation, one source recalled.

There are technologies that would allow us to detonate every roadside bomb in Iraq by heating the wires in the detonators to the point that they triggered an explosion. But these systems could severely harm civilians nearby, so we're not using them, either. "In our system, we often are not given credit for the fact that we are very concerned about collateral damage," Meigs said.

We wrote the book for the insurgents, in a sense. By arming and training the mujaheddin in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s, we created the modern dynamics of asymmetric warfare. That extends even to the fearsome armor-piercing "explosively formed penetrators," or EFPs, that we have accused the Iranians of supplying to Iraqi insurgents. The CIA referred to these tank busters as "platter charges" in the days when we were covertly helping provide them to the Afghan rebels.

The simple, low-tech answer to the IED threat is to reduce the number of targets -- by getting our troops off the streets during vulnerable daylight hours, to the extent possible. It's an interesting fact that very few IED attacks have been suffered by our elite Special Forces units, which attack al-Qaeda cells and Shiite death squads mostly at night, with devastating force. They blow in from nowhere and are gone minutes later, before the enemy can start shooting. That's the kind of asymmetry that evens the balance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

SATURDAY, June 9, 2007

Americans are said to have 30 second attention spans...but that does not work in the field of Health Care, especially regarding their personal health care.  Take the latest distortion: 1) "Vitamin D protects against a variety of cancers and metabolic disorders; 2) We are not getting enough Vitamin D; 3) The body makes Vitamin D from sunlight exposure; 4) Get more sunlight exposure.  Result of this poor advice: get more Malignant Melanoma.  Instead, talk to your doctor about a prescription for Vitamin D blood test, very likely followed by a period of loading dose Vitamin D by mouth, followed by a much higher maintenance dosage than is provided in the usual daily vitamins taken.  Another distortion in the making: men who take estrogenic medicines to treat prostate cancer have a higher risk of heart disease; and men who have a low testosterone blood level have similar problems.  That does Not mean what it seems to mean.  The point here is that important medical decision-making should be in the hands of a good family physician who knows what he or she doesn't know - and informed by at least one qualified specialist.  Then, armed with all this information...PICK YOUR POISON.  No 30 second expositions here.

GS

WEDNESDAY through FRIDAY, June 6 through 8, 2007
GS

TUESDAY, June 5,
2007

AND THEY SAID (AND SAY) IT COULDN'T BE DONE!    Here is some ammunition against "the nattering nabbobs of negativity" in New London.  GS

NLDC June 07 Newsletter


MONDAY, June 4, 2007

The following are offered as published in Military magazine, June 07, Vol. XXIV, No. 1  Question: why have we not seen this material published elsewhere?  This offering is provided by my good friend Stephen Percy of Waterford, CT.  GS

Military Magazine Articles

FRIDAY through SUNDAY, June 1 through 3, 2007
GS


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