George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New
RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section. It will
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
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
campaign must maintain to be effective. But the mission will
be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick",
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 TUESDAY, July 29 through 31,
What do you call a State where the following situations prevail?
- Three important Bills are passed by a veto-proof Democratic
majority, then vetoed by the Republican Governor...and then not
over-ridden by the Legislature: legalization of medical
marihauna; a bill regarding school payment for children of illegal
immigrants; more funding for the perennial Sheff v O'Neill
- A State government which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the
teachers' unions tolerating, year after year, poor student performance,
as in the latest CMT results.
- A State that purports to have a death penalty that is honored
much more in the breach than in the observance; and a State that
fails to properly inform its Parole Board of vital information about
convicts coming before it - leading to the horrific attack on the
Pettit family of Chesire.
- A State that continues to tolerate secrecy in its court system
regarding the public business.
- A State, highly dependent upon the presence of the Sub Base and
the viability of EB, that fails to adequately and timely support those
business centers constantly in the sights of BRAC and of other States'
- A State that continues to put BandAids on the cancer that has
enveloped the Dept. of Children and Family Services for decades,
leaving their wards in heartless limbo for years and years.
I call it THE STATE OF DISREPAIR: THE
STATE OF CONNECTICUT.
SATURDAY, July 28,
- The recent problems at St. Bernard High School in
Montville, Ct. added to the Catholic Church's troubles in
recent years (including about $2 Billion paid out in
the sex abuse scandal) reinforce the obvious need for greater and
continuing involvement of the laity in administrative and legal
matters. The laity is the "Body of the Church"...and also its
- Another "new approach" to the teaching of
reading, math and science, following anither report of dismal
Connecticut Mastery Test results in public school grades 3
through 9. How many "new" approaches can we survive as a
society? If the practice of Medicine had a track record anywhere
near that of the practice of public education, physicians would all be
deservedly in jail.
- The Iraqi government is failing politically, and also
failing administratively in refusing to take over billions of
U.S.dollars of rebuilt infrastructure. We may not want a
precipitous "exit strategy"; but we surely need a Plan B, on the
order of the one that I have offered in this section over the last 10
months. President Bush...WAKE UP!
- The Arctic is the new opening frontier, with a
wealth of natural resources and also security implications.
Russia and Canada are taking action. Are we?
- Farm Subsidies have long become welfare for big
Agribusiness, shortchanging small farmers, promoting surplus production
with the misuse of needed oil-based resources, and promoting the
starvation of the Third World by preventing their entry into the world
agriculture trade. When is this "Fleecing of America"
and the world going to end?
- Washington is all atwitter with words like "Contempt of
Congress" and "perjury investigations".
The NYTimes may be impressed with this theatre, as expressed in a
recent editorial entitled "Defying the Imperial Presidency".
But neither the NYTimes nor Congress is the ultimatre arbiter of
constitutional interpretation of the division of powers amoung our
three branches of government. So, stop the bloviating and take
those actions necessary to turn the matter over to the Court system as
soon as possible. These are serious matters. They deserve
more than all of that "sound and fury, signifying nothing".
FRIDAY, July 27,
ALL POINTS BULLETIN: FYI! GS
"They're standing on the corner and
they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people
I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
then I heard the father talk.
knows it's important to speak English
can't be a doctor with that kind of English coming out of your mouth.
fact you will never get any kind of job making a
living. People marched and were hit in the
with rocks to get an education, and now
got these knuckleheads walking around.
lower economic people are not holding up
end in this deal.
people are not parenting. They are buying
for kids. $500 sneakers for what ? ?
they won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.
talking about these people who cry when their son is standing
in an orange suit.
were you when he was 2 ? ?
were you when he was 12 ? ?
were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a
pistol ? ?
where is the father ? ? Or who is his father ?
putting their clothes on backward: Isn't that a sign of something gone
with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a
sign of something ? ?
are you waiting for Jesus (Yeshua) to pull his pants up ?
it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got
all types of needles [piercings] going through her
part of Africa did this! come from??
are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know
a thing about Africa .
names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of those names, and
all of them are in jail.
or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's
have got to take the neighborhood back.
used to be ashamed. Today a woman has eight children with eight
different 'husbands' -- or men or whatever you call them now.
have millionaire football players who cannot read.
have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two
as black folks, have to do a better job. Someone working at
Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us.
have to start holding each other to a higher
cannot blame the white people any longer."
Dr. William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr., Ed.D.
THURSDAY, July 26,
Here is another glimpse into the bowels of the
Pentagon, partly explaining why we continue to fail in our primary
goals in these wars. It's not pretty. But then, bowels
A War the Pentagon Can’t Win
By DANIEL BENJAMIN and STEVEN SIMON
NYT: July 24, 2007
AS the National Intelligence Estimate issued last week confirms, a
terrorist haven has emerged in Pakistan’s tribal belt. And as recent
revelations about an aborted 2005 operation in the region demonstrate,
our Defense Department is chronically unable to conduct the sort of
missions that would disrupt terrorist activity there and in similarly
These are perhaps the most important kind of counterterrorism missions.
Because the Pentagon has shown that it cannot carry them out, the
Central Intelligence Agency should be given the chance to perform them.
The story of the scrubbed 2005 operation illustrates why the Pentagon
is incapable of doing what needs to be done. The preparations for the
mission to capture or kill Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri,
appear to have unfolded like others before it. Intelligence was
received about a high-level Qaeda meeting. A small snatch or kill
operation was to be carried out by Special Operations. But military
brass added large numbers of troops to conduct additional intelligence,
force protection, communications and extraction work.
At that point, as one senior intelligence official told this newspaper,
“The whole thing turned into the invasion of Pakistan,” and Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pulled the plug.
To those of us who worked in counterterrorism in the 1990s, this
sequence of events feels like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Similar
decision-making led to the failure to mount critical operations on at
least three occasions during the Clinton administration. The most
notable was the effort to get the Pentagon to conduct a ground
operation against the Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan beginning in late
The Clinton White House repeatedly requested options involving ground
forces that could hunt and destroy terrorists in Afghanistan.
Repeatedly, senior military officials declared such a mission “would be
Desert One,” referring to the disastrous 1980 effort to free American
hostages in Iran. When the Pentagon finally delivered a plan, the
deployment envisioned would have been sufficient to take and hold Kabul
but not to surprise and pin down a handful of terrorists.
But the Zawahri stand-down is even more telling. It occurred four years
into the global war on terrorism, when the basic questions about the
nature of the Qaeda threat had been settled and the nation, in the
oft-intoned phrase of the Bush administration, was said to be always
“on the offensive.” Moreover, it happened on the watch of Donald
Rumsfeld, the most dominating secretary of defense in memory, who
overruled military planners routinely as he micromanaged the deployment
to Iraq. Perhaps his attention was focused on the growing mess in that
country, but even Mr. Rumsfeld, who viewed special forces as the
keystone of a transformed 21st-century American military, could not
keep on track a mission that would have stunned Al Qaeda.
Highly mobile, highly lethal counterterrorism operations are clearly
possible. Israel scored victories with raids in Entebbe, Uganda; Tunis;
and Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1970s and 1980s. Other countries, like
Germany, have carried out similar operations, like the Mogadishu raid
of 1977 that freed passengers on a Lufthansa plane hijacked to Somalia
by the Baader-Meinhof gang. An operation in Pakistan’s tribal areas —
setting aside the issue of whether this could politically upend
President Pervez Musharraf — would be extremely difficult. But it is
hard to believe it is impossible.
Since the Desert One debacle, the United States has poured vast
resources into its special forces. The Special Operations Command
budget has nearly doubled since 2001, and it is expected to grow 150
percent over five years. The command includes more than 50,000 troops,
the equivalent of three or four infantry divisions. The best of them —
Delta Force and the Navy Seals — have developed into highly skilled
Yet fear of failure and casualties has meant they are seldom, if ever,
deployed for such counterterrorism operations. In theory, the best
place in the government for small-scale missions to be planned and
executed is the Pentagon, because snatch or kill teams should be
plugged into a larger military support team. The reality,
unfortunately, is that they can’t be plugged in without being bogged
Senior officers, trained to understand the American way of war to mean
overwhelming force and superior firepower, view special ops outside a
war zone as something to be avoided at all cost. This has been true
even in lower-risk efforts to capture war criminals in the Balkans. The
record demonstrates that our military is simply incapable of adapting
its culture to embrace such operations. The Pentagon should just stop
planning for missions it won’t launch.
While the C.I.A. doesn’t have an unblemished record, its
counterterrorism operations have shown more promise than the
Pentagon’s. The agency has already had some successes operating in
ungoverned spaces. In the first reported attack in such a region, a
C.I.A.-operated Predator drone launched a missile that killed a Qaeda
lieutenant in Yemen in 2002. Since then the Predator has been used to
strike Al Qaeda at least eight times, although with limited success. At
least initially, the trigger in these attacks was pulled by C.I.A.
operatives, not soldiers.
The record of a small, vulnerable C.I.A. paramilitary force in
Afghanistan in 2001 was more impressive. The group’s audacious
reconnaissance work and direction of local warlords in action against
the Taliban provided the most significant battlefield success of the
post-9/11 period. Without this risky, cold-start intervention, the
American troops that followed the agency into Afghanistan would have
gone in blind and worried more about their flanks than about Al Qaeda.
The agency’s history of ill-conceived covert political operations from
the 1950s through the 1970s may cause some to worry. That agency,
however, no longer exists. Congressional hearings and legislation, as
well as fear of casualties, have given the clandestine service its own
case of risk aversion, though it seems less severe than the Pentagon’s.
We have failed in Pakistan, and are failing in Iraq, to achieve a
primary aim of our counterterrorism policy: preventing Al Qaeda from
acquiring safe havens. Our military has shown itself to be a poor
instrument for fighting terrorism, and there are now thousands of
jihadists who weren’t in Iraq at the time of the 2003 invasion. When
the inevitable American drawdown occurs, we will need a way to keep the
terrorists off balance in Iraq and to disrupt the conveyor belt that is
already moving fighters to places like Lebanon, North Africa and Europe.
With new leadership at both the C.I.A. and the Defense Department, the
Bush administration has a chance to fix this problem. The missing
ingredient for success with the most important kind of counterterrorism
missions is not courage or technical capacity — our uniformed personnel
are unsurpassed — but organizational culture. With a small fraction of
the resources that Pentagon has for special operations, the C.I.A.
could develop the paramilitary capacity we profoundly need.
Daniel Benjamin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and
Steven Simon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, were
members of the National Security Council staff from 1994 to 1999.
WEDNESDAY, July 23 through 25,
- U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales seems to
lack a critical skill - set for life in Washington, D.C.: the ability
to lie credibly. What is our nation's Capitol coming to? Do
you think he's too decent a guy, with lies sticking in his craw?
Anyway, the more important question is: has his effectiveness been
totally destroyed? And I don't want to hear anything about
- The current melt-down in our national sports. The
NBA. The NFL. Professional Baseball. The Tour de
France. Can it be that there's a connection between all of this
and the "value neutral" education dumped on the younger generations
since the 1970's...and the so important "awarding" of self-image
without any need to earn it? See an excellent article on the
subject by Jeffrey Zaslow in the WSJ Thursday, July 19, entitled "The
Entitlement Epidemic: Who's Really to Blame?" (Personal
- Kudos to New Haven, Ct. Mayor John DiStefano and to the
City Council, which approved ID cards for "illegal
immigrants" as well as others by a vote of 25 to 1. I
know a little bit about law, order and justice. Our Federal
government's craven non-approach to this critical national issue
embodies none of these principles. So, local and State government
must take the initiative. A suggestion: instead of calling these
people "illegal immigrants", how about we call them "invitees", here at
the invitation of needy and greedy U.S. businesses? What we need
here is realism, good nature, effective defense of our borders, and
swift justice for the criminals in this massive population.
SUNDAY, July 22,
There is probably not a unifying theme to the following disparate
issues. But let's see....
- Articles in The Day (www.theday.com) address our
worsening environmental challenges...one of which locally is whether to
extend Route 11 from Salem to the shore.
This is an old chestnut which continues to have legs. My opinion,
coinciding with that of others...but not of The Day editorial
staff...is that the liabilities outweigh the benefits, and that the
funds can be better used on alternatives to cars and oil and to further
despoilation of our environment in Connecticut.
- Here's a refreshing idea: be a whistleblower while still
on the inside, like Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic,
and not like former "Surgeon - Corporal" Carmona who waited until
he was out of office to bitch and moan about improper political
pressure brought to bear on his professional positions.
- See the NYTimes article on former NYC Mayor Rudy
Giuliani. If John McCain's rocket flames
out, he is my choice for the straight talk express
amid all the other "locals". And then there is Sen.
Joseph Lieberman, who has promised to support "the best
candidate" notwithstanding political affiliation. These three are
- Critical negotiations are going on between the United
Auto Workers and the not so "Big Three" American auto
makers, who together etablished a socialist state within our
national borders over the last several decades. This debacle
should be a cautionary tale for business and labor alike when
payment and reward are separated from productivity and
- Any epilogue to the events of 9/11 must include the impending
demise of the American air travel industry.
But one situation should be legislated out of the many miseries and
risks now facing the travelling public: No "kidnappings" beyond
two hours on board planes still on the ground...for whatever
- FEMA is once again in the news, this time
associated with extended failure to act on findings of toxic levels of
formaldehyde in their famous trailers. At a time when all
the talk is about government taking over the payment...and therefore
the delivery...of our health care, how can we trust "government" for
- A new underground aquafer, "the size of Lake
Erie", has been discovered in the heart of Africa.
This should be cause for great celebration. But instead, it is
already cause for concern about yet another reason for war and ethnic
cleansing in that benighted continent. The people of Africa seem
to have no choice between malignant home-grown exploitation and perhaps
a more benign "economic colonialism" engaged in by the first-world
countries and monitored by (dare I say) the U.N. Always an
So, is there a common theme among all of the above? How
about "COMMON SENSE REVISITED".
Now, there's a revolutionary concept.
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, July 20 and 21,
Why serious students of any subject must "cross-read" from
several sources. GS
The world seen from Rome
Abstinence Education Gets Right
With Chastity Speaker Jason Evert
Evert, an international chastity speaker, author and full-time
apologist for Catholic Answers, disagrees with the methods and findings
of the study by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc .
shared with ZENIT what the study gets wrong, and what good abstinence
education programs get right in helping teens save sex for marriage.
A recent study found that abstinence-education programs "don't work."
What, specifically, did the study find? What do you think of the
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., tracked 1,209 students in four
elementary and middle school abstinence programs to determine if the
education they received impacted their sexual behavior. What the
researchers found was that the "programs had no effect on the sexual
abstinence of youth" two to five years after the program ended.
study, however, had serious flaws.
the students in the study were between the ages of nine and 11, which
is hardly the age at which young people understand the relevance of an
the study had no high school component, and the students had no
follow-up to the program -- especially when they would have needed it
the most, during the teenage years.
the words of the Mathematica researchers, "The findings provide no
information on the effects programs might have if they were implemented
for high school youth or began at earlier ages but served youth through
the researchers did not evaluate a comparable sexual education program
in order to compare the findings.
the majority of the students were poor African American children from
broken families. Such youth are considered high risk for early sexual
activity. Therefore, their behaviors are not representative of most
the sample of four schools studied represents less than 1% of the more
than 900 abstinence programs that receive federal funding.
the abstinence programs that were studied have already been revised and
updated. Therefore, any conclusions drawn from them are outdated.
Mathematica study was released for one reason: to influence
congressional leaders to restrict the amount of funding given to
the early 1990s, abstinence education has received millions of dollars
in federal grants. Although the government provides $12 worth of sexual
education for every $1 given to promote abstinence, any financial
support for abstinence means less money available for its opponents.
good news about this study is that it shows how desperate the opponents
of abstinence education have become. If this research -- which cost
taxpayers $6 million -- is the best case against the effectiveness of
abstinence education, we're in good shape.
media's frenzy over this study is another effort to distract the public
from the fact that sexual education has been a complete failure.
decades of "safe sex" education in the United States, nearly half of
the 19 million new sexually transmitted disease infections each year
are among people between the ages of 15 and 24.
the words of Heritage Foundation researcher Robert Rector, "The
number-one determinant of whether a person will catch a sexually
transmitted disease is the number of lifetime sexual partners. We seem
to go out of our way as a government and a nation to avoid telling
people that, but we hand out a lot of free condoms."
Do all sexual education programs have the same goal? Are they simply
various methods for approaching the public health issues of venereal
disease and out-of-wedlock pregnancies?
There are hundreds of different sexual education programs, and their
goals vary. Some focus on HIV or teen pregnancy prevention, while
others peddle contraceptives or promote perverse ideologies.
example, Allendale Pharmaceuticals -- makers of a contraceptive sponge
-- gave grant money to Planned Parenthood to create a sexual education
curriculum for teens. In this program, the curriculum discusses the
sponge 28 times, and birth control is mentioned more than 10 times more
lesson in the curriculum even tells the teens to create their own
advertisement for birth control. Later in the program, the textbook
argues that there would be fewer teen pregnancies in America if there
wasn't so much social and political pressure for teens to be abstinent
some sexual education programs have been used to stir up business for
birth control companies, others expose children to graphic sexual
example, The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United
States recommends in their "Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality
Education" that 5- to 8-year-olds should learn about lesbians being in
they propose that 15-year-olds should know that some people choose to
watch pornography as a way to enhance sexual fantasies.
you assume that the Centers for Disease Control would control such
nonsense, even they funded a transgender beauty pageant in San
thing that all sexual education programs seem to have in common is
their relativistic approach to sexual values. Pervading the curricula
is the idea that "only you can choose the right time for becoming
of this mentality, abstinence is looked at as a form of birth control,
and is not given great emphasis. When abstinence is discussed, the
arguments in favor of such a lifestyle are hardly convincing.
example, Planned Parenthood's Web site for teens states, "Some people
may choose to be sexually abstinent in certain circumstances. A person
who just broke up with someone might abstain from dating and sex play
because being close to another person might not feel right, yet."
surprisingly, sexual education programs spend an average of 4.7% of
their content on the topic of abstinence.
Let's assume abstinence education programs in schools "don't work."
Suppose a school offered an anti-drug and alcohol program to its
students, and the curriculum failed to have a positive impact.
as a result, that the school board concluded, "We need to take a more
comprehensive approach. Let's encourage the students to refuse drugs,
and give clean syringes to those who are going to do it anyway. For
those who choose to drink and drive, we should encourage the use of
seat belts. After all, we need to be realistic."
one would take such an approach with drugs or drinking because there is
unanimous consent that such behaviors are harmful for teens. This is
where abstinence and sexual education programs diverge.
in the sexual education camp do not believe that unwed sexual activity
is inherently harmful. Meanwhile, those in favor of abstinence know
what's at stake -- and therefore prefer an approach focused on
prevention instead of risk-reduction.
certain abstinence programs are defective, the weaknesses must be
identified and the deficiencies remedied.
example, if a program failed to have a long-term impact, the educators
should build into the curriculum such features as a longer follow-up or
greater parental involvement. If the program is still defective, it
should be dropped in favor of one that has already been evaluated with
Would abolition of all sexual education programs in schools, including
abstinence-based programs, foster more parental involvement?
No. The elimination of sexual education in schools will not prompt
parents to become more involved in the lives of their children. This
would be like thinking that parents would exercise more with their
children if schools dropped physical education classes.
parents are the primary sex educators of their children. The family is
a school of all virtues, including chastity. When parents practice this
virtue in their marriage, the children will see why Pope John Paul II
called chastity "the sure way to happiness."
order for parents to learn the value of chastity, the Church must
proclaim it with courage from the pulpits. Especially through promotion
of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, children and adults can
discover God's plan for life and love.
Are there any successful abstinence programs with which you are
Programs offered by Project Reality, Heritage Keepers, Sex Respect,
Teen Aid, Friends First, PEERS, Pure Love Club, Project REACH and many
others have been evaluated with very positive results.
than 30 scientific evaluations have shown that abstinence education
reduces sexual activity and has positive effects on teens.
example, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health
demonstrated that girls who take virginity pledges are 40% less likely
to have a child out-of-wedlock than young women who do not make such
to what you may see in the media, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention reports that teen sexual activity rates have been dropping
since 1991, and now the majority of high school students are virgins.
fact, between 1991 and 2005 the sexual activity rate of high school
boys dropped twice as quickly as that of high school girls. The
increase in abstinence education has played a major role in this new
What can Catholic schools learn from the failures of various programs
in public schools? What should Catholic schools be doing about sexual
The first lesson to be learned is that one cannot simultaneously
deliver a convincing abstinence message while explaining how to
practice "safe sex."
Catholic schools should make sure that their materials are
age-appropriate, medically accurate and in conformity with the wishes
of the parents. When it comes to sexuality education, schools and
churches exist to assist the parents, not replace them.
are looking for love and searching for meaning in their lives. At a
time when they are so vulnerable to the temptations of the world, they
deserve to hear the convincing power of the beauty of God's plan for
MONDAY through THURSDAY, July 16 through 19,
Since we are well into the current silly season
(aka "election cycle"), it might be useful to take a look at this
concept we call "democracy". Maybe it was the sight of
the recent Senatorial slumber party that prompts the following.
But the segment will start and end with the immortal words of Sir
Winston Churchill on the sublect:
"Democracy is the worst form of
government...except for all the rest."
A recent Zogby poll, reported by John
Whitesides of Reuters, is illuminatng.
2/3 of Americans believe that Pres. Bush
is doing a fair to poor job. That number rises to 83% with
reference to the Democratic-controlled Congress. "They feel the
system is seriously broken", with only 26% saying that the country is
on the right track.
However, the majority of Americans are
upbeat about their personal lives and security, even about the
future of their children. 82%
reported that they felt very or fairly safe from threats from
abroad. Nearly 70% said that they were very proud of their
How to explain this disconnect?
"With little faith in government, you feel you are pretty much on your
own", said Zogby.
And, as Martha Stewart would say, "That's
a good thing": self-reliance rather than the "nanny state".
A still more jaundiced view of the democratic
process is the thesis of a book entitled "The Myth of the Rational
Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Politics", by economist Bryan
Caplan (Princeton, reviewed by Louis Menand in The New Yorker, July
9,16 issue, p80). The author thinks that increasing - and
even current - voter participation is a bad thing. "Caplan thinks
that most voters are wrong about the issues...and that their wrong
ideas lead to policies that make society as a whole worse off."
"The political knowledge of the average voter has been tested
repeatedly, and the scores are impressively low." Caplan asserts
that voters have views that are basically uninformed and irrational
prejudices. Nevertheless, the reviewer notes that "a great virtue
of democratic polities is stability. The toleration of silly
opinions is (to speak like an economist) a small price to pay for
WOW. But our original premise holds:
is the worst form
of government...except for all the rest".
SUNDAY, July 15,
Here is a bird's eye view of
public education during the last 150 years, and of one reason why we
are now in this swamp. GS
SATURDAY, July 14,
Iraq. It's maddening, not at all
satisfying, to be able to show that I've been right all along.
Just look at the very many entries in this Rapid Response section,
going back to the Spring of 2003, regarding the asinine and even
criminal prosecution of this pre-emptive strike in Iraq.
- We should have committed at least twice the number of American
troops to the effort from the outset.
- Based upon the actions of Hussein before our arrival, we should
have anticipated the chaos that occurred in Baghdad and elsewhere
within days and weeks of our arrival.
- Based upon the centuries-old divisions between Shia and Sunnis,
and between and among their neighboring supporters (Iran for Shia,
Saudi Arabia and others for Sunnis), we should have anticipated and
prepared for the fragmentation of that society.
- Based upon our everlasting support for the right of Israel to
exist there in their midst, we should have known that neither the Iraqi
people nor most Muslims in the Middle East would embrace us at all or
- We should have known that terrorists everywhere would capitalize
on all of this.
- We should have prepared beforehand, or at least within the first
two years, by instituting a fair draft that would spread the burden
of the war, rather than disrupting and possibly destroying our
entire military structure.
- We should have allowed our military leaders to speak out in
timely fashion, when it might have counted, rather than intimidating
them (more's the pity) into waiting until
after their retirement to speak out and to write their books.
- And what was Ambassador Bremer, he with the two boots on the
ground, thinking with his "de-Bathification policy" and dismissal of
the entire Iraqi Army, when there was nothing to replace either
regarding domestic or military needs?
- President Bush should long ago have realized that loyalty ends,
although friendship may continue, with demonstrated incompetence...as
in the case of former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.
Alright. Enough of the past. What to do now?
Certainly not politicize the domestic debate on the war, as Harry Reid
has done. As noted by David Brooks in his recent article in the
NYTimes, this stupid old man is intent on prohibiting a bi-partisan
approach to Congressional oversight, simply wanting to stick it to the
Republicans, in any way and at any cost to our national integrity and
our international standing.
What needs to be done can only be done by President Bush:
<>Only President Bush can lead in such an effort. The
self-delusion is merely placing a band-aid on an aggressive cancer in
the world that has metastasized to within our midst.
- Declare to the American people that it is squarely in our
national self-interest to stay in the Middle East cauldron for at least
a decade, thanks to Americans' profligate demand for energy.
- Move to establish a fair draft to heal, replenish and expand our
military capabilities in preparation for this and other inevitable
- Declare a time within the next 6 months when most American
troops will be withdrawn to the borders of Iraq, where they will seal
the borders to interference by surrounding nations, on pain of
destruction of foreign assets on the ground and on pain of severe
economic sanctions against such nations. Expect realistic
negotiations among the Iraqi leadership itself...or a bloodbath - their
- Expect little help from the former colonial powers of the
region, who (except for England) have been playing their own
self-serving cynical game from the beginning.
- Give the American people a choice vs. the above: a 20% reduction
in importation of any foreign oil, with what that would mean for
the "entitled generations".
- Dare the partisan Democrats to withhold funding for the above,
thereby unmasking their isolationist, protectionist and pacifist
TUESDAY through FRIDAY, July 10
Every once in a while in this crazy world there
comes an illuminating explanation to an important riddle. The
following is appreciated regarding Pakistan. GS
>From The Times (UK)
July 11, 2007
Battered Musharraf playing with fire
Farzana Shaikh on Pakistan’s worst crisis for 36 years
President Musharraf is in a bind. Amid the bloody devastation caused by
his decision to storm the Red Mosque in Islamabad, he will be seeking
desperately to salvage his reputation. The badly battered military
ruler of Pakistan needs to be seen as a bastion against extremism if he
is to win support from his Western allies, especially the United States.
But Musharraf’s actions in power have set Pakistan dangerously off
course. The appeasement policies of successive regimes – cultivating
Islamist groups to shore up their fragile legitimacy – have bedevilled
the country. It now faces its worst crisis since the secession of
Bangladesh in 1971.
Musharraf’s confused handling of the Red Mosque crisis is likely to be
central to his own demise. First, he laid siege to it and issued an
ultimatum to the radicals inside “to surrender or die”. Then he
suddenly announced he was ready to negotiate to save hundreds of women
and children held hostage inside the mosque. However, the mediators in
these negotiations were hardly neutral players: Musharraf turned for
help to the Pakistani Ulema Council, a private body of religious
scholars that last month announced a special award for Osama bin Laden
in retaliation against the decision to knight Salman Rushdie.
Overseeing their efforts was Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, head of the
pro-government party, the Pakistan Muslim League. He is known for
agreeing to demands by Islamic religious parties last year to dilute
legislation that would have amended religious laws discriminating
Not surprisingly, fears resurfaced that Musharraf was poised once again
to appease Muslim extremists. Nor would these concerns be misplaced.
Since entering into a series of controversial peace agreements with
tribal militants in the border areas of North and South Waziristan in
2005-06, Musharraf has turned a blind eye to the Islamist activities.
Stern warnings from the United States of the risk that appeasement
posed to Afghanistan went unheeded. So too did alarm bells inside
Pakistan announcing “creeping Talebanisation”.
It was just a matter of time before Islamic radicals, emboldened by
this apparent lack of resolve, tried their hand at bringing vigilante
justice to the streets of the capital. Indeed, it was just such an
attempt that brought the Red Mosque and its militants into headlong
confrontation with Musharraf. In so doing they finally breached the
cordial relations between the Red Mosque and Pakistan’s military high
command, which date back to the 1980s.
Pakistan’s military ruler at that time, General Zia ul-Haq, was
instrumental in forging these ties. He approved the expansion of the
Red Mosque, in the heart of the capital, and entrusted its
administration to Maulana Abdullah, an obscure hardline cleric from the
Deobandi sect. In return Abdullah promised to enlist recruits for the
jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
Soon the mosque, along with its two madrassas, emerged as the first
port of call for jihadi groups, notably al-Qaeda. Through much of the
1990s the Red Mosque also enjoyed the patronage of the country’s
premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Its
headquarters are located a stone’s throw away from the mosque, which
served as a convenient meeting point for ISI members.
The events of 9/11 ruptured this cosy arrangement. Musharraf’s decision
to launch a military operation against the Taleban in the tribal areas
incurred the wrath of Abdullah’s family. Though Abdullah himself had
been killed by gunmen in 1999, his sons, Maulanas Aziz and Ghazi,
killed yesterday during the attack on the Red Mosque, assumed his
jihadi mantle – this time in opposition to the regime. They issued
fatwas banning Muslim funeral rites for Pakistani soldiers killed in
action against the Taleban and endorsed calls for Musharraf to be
The response to these naked challenges to Musharraf’s authority was
muted, if not indulgent. Early this year when Red Mosque students
seized control of a children’s library in protest against the planned
demolition of illegally constructed mosques in the capital, Musharraf
reacted by laughing off what he described as the antics of “kids”. Not
even a sustained campaign by extremists to kidnap policemen, raid homes
and ransack commercial properties, in an effort to “cleanse” the
capital of “vice dens”, could stir the Government to action. It
justified its restraint saying it feared suicide attacks.
The tipping point came with the abduction in June of seven Chinese
workers accused by the militants of running a brothel. This was
followed by the killing of three more Chinese nationals by Islamist
militants in Peshawar, in the North West Frontier Province, two days
before the mosque was finally stormed.
The attacks triggered an unusually angry response from China, an
influential investor in Pakistan. The United States also cautioned
Musharraf against any deal involving safe passage for the militants – a
sticking point that finally led to the collapse of the negotiations and
the recourse to force.
The question now is whether Musharraf’s strategy will pay off. He is
heir to a well-established legacy of close cooperation between Islamist
groups and a military that has ruled the country for more than half its
history. Even if, in time, the Islamists are defeated, they are
unlikely to go down without a fight. The cost to Musharraf could be
Farzana Shaikh is an associate Fellow at Chatham House.
MONDAY, July 9,
A SPECTATOR I'M NOT. SO, HERE GOES ANOTHER
TIME AT BAT, MUCH OF THE FOLLOWING IN REACTION TO A NUMBER OF
GOOD STORIES IN THE SUNDAY, JULY 8 EDITION OF THAT FINE NEWSPAPER, THE
- Islam, Islamists / Muslims, and terrorists.
Never mind the "explanations" and apologies. How about just plain
repudiation of these hijackers of a great Religion?
- Pope Benedict XVl restores the Latin Mass as an
option. So, my many Jewish friends, what's the
problem? Even if some Christians want to convert you, that is
certainly not a condition to you...and all the rest of us...getting
back to Yahweh.
- "Chinese Products: Dangerous to Your Health".
That lable would be a much more effective means of protecting ourselves
and of influencing the reactionary Chinese than talking about living
wages and environmental controls there.
- Donald Rumsfeld. I'm no historian of
American Secretaries of Defense...but he has to have been one of the
worst. See yesterday's story on an aborted attack on the top
leadership of al-Qaida in 2005.
- The 14 Wonders of the World. Thanks.
I needed that.
- Attacks on Afghan terrorists killing many civilians, in
whose midst they hide. Why not go for the head of this
snake: all the poppy fields. They surely will come out to protect
them, and WHOOSH: "...the smell of Napalm in the morning".
Then remiburse the farmers what they are now getting from the criminal
middle men. (See "The Taliban's Opiun War", by Jon Lee Anderson,
in The New Yorker July 9 and 16, 2007, p60).
- Taiwan. Is it time yet to eliminate the
decades of ambiguity, as we fight and die for democracy
elsewhere? I think so.
- The "Live Earth Concerts".
Wonderful. Just the image America wants to project around
- Fred Thompson must now be considered a threat by
both political camps. He is the new pinata. Read
about his role in the Nixon affair, as reported by the Nixon
cabal. Read about his "trophy wife", many years his junior.
Even read Opus.
- U.S. Constitutional Separation of Powers.
So, let's have at it in the courts. Ambiguity need not apply
- The study of The Happy Marriage.
Children are integral to marriage...but "Its The Couple,
Stupid" that really must have their act in order. If that is
OK, everything else is OK, and vice versa.
- President Bush, "Alone, Yet At Peace". Well, in a
way I'm happy for him. But Wake Up,
Mr. President! You were ill-served by several of your
close advisors. Your legacy, and the long-term future of this
country, are still works in progress. You owe a full eight years
SUNDAY, July 8,
SATURDAY, July 7,
- Iraq and Islam. Mullas and oil profit distribution.
Merely the juxtaposition of these subjects defines the problem of the
Muslim peoples, past and present. The foundational Achilles Heel
of the great Religion of Islam has always been the connection between
the Religion and the governance of the people. Christianity went
through a long similar period, to the detriment of that
Religion...until it was assisted in extricating itself from the
connection. "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's,
and to God the things that are God's". By doing
so, Muslims all over the world will simultaneously re-capture their
Religion, now hijacked, and will also join the more advanced and more
humane world around them. This point is eloquently made by Thomas
L. Friedman in his most recent offering (in The Day Friday, July 6,
2007, Commentary, pA7). Another point: more wars in human history
have been fought "in the name of God" than for territory or treasure;
and they have often been the most vicious. There's something
wrong with this picture. GS
- NOT "EYE OF THE TIGER", BUT "EYE OF THE
Subject: Interesting Perspective
Eye of the Beholder by Victor Davis Hanson The American Enterprise
War torn Iraq has about 26 million residents, a peaceful California
perhaps now 35 million. The former is a violent and impoverished
landscape, the latter said to be paradise on Earth. But how you
envision either place to some degree depends on the eye of the beholder
and is predicated on what the [biased] daily media appear to make of
As a fifth generation Californian, I deeply love this state, but still
imagine what the reaction would be if the world awoke each morning to
be told that once again there were six more murders, 27 rapes, 38
arsons, 180 robberies, and 360 instances of assault in California
yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day. I wonder if the headlines
would scream about "Nearly 200 poor Californians butchered again this
How about a monthly media dose of "600 women raped in February alone!"
Or try, "Over 600 violent robberies and assaults in March, with no end
in sight!" Those do not even make up all of the state's yearly 200,000
violent acts that law enforcement knows about.
Iraq's judicial system seems a mess. On the eve of the war, Saddam let
out 100,000 inmates from his vast prison archipelago. He himself sat in
the dock months after his trial began. But imagine an Iraq with a penal
system like California's with 170,000 criminals - an inmate population
larger than those of Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Singapore
combined. Just to house such a shadow population costs our state nearly
$7 billion a year or about the same price of keeping 40,000 Army
personnel per year in Iraq.
What would be the image of our Golden State if we were reminded each
morning, "Another $20 million spent today on housing our criminals"?
Some of California's most recent prison scandals would be easy to
sensationalize: "Guards watch as inmates are raped!" Or "Correction
officer accused of having sex with under-aged detainee!" And apropos of
Saddam's sluggish trial, remember that our home state multiple
murderer, Tookie Williams, was finally executed in December 2005 -
TWENTY SIX years after he was originally sentenced.
Much is made of the inability to patrol Iraq's borders with Iran,
Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey. But California has
only a single border with a foreign nation, not six. Yet over 3 million
foreigners who sneaked in illegally now live in our state. Worse, there
are about 15,000 convicted alien felons incarcerated in our penal
system, costing about $500 million a year. Imagine the potential
tabloid headlines: "Illegal aliens in state comprise population larger
than San Francisco!" or "Drugs, criminals, and smugglers given free
pass into California!"
Every year, over 4,000 Californians die in car crashes - more than the
number of Americans lost so far in the years of combat operations in
Iraq. In some sense, then, our badly maintained roads, and often poorly
trained and sometimes intoxicated drivers, are even more lethal than
IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices.) Perhaps tomorrow's headline might
scream out at us: "300 Californians to perish this month on state
highways! Hundreds more will be maimed and crippled!"
In 2001, California had 32 days of power outages, despite paying nearly
the highest rates for electricity in the United States. Before
complaining about the smoke in Baghdad rising from private generators,
think back to the run on generators in California when they were
contemplated as a future part of every household's line of defense.
We're told that Iraq's finances are a mess. Yet until recently, so were
California's. Two years ago, Governor Schwarzenegger inherited a $38
billion annual budget shortfall. That could have made for strong
morning newscast teasers: "Another $100 million borrowed today - $3
billion more in red ink to pile up by month's end!"
So is California comparable to Iraq? Hardly. Yet it could easily be
sketched by a [competent] reporter intent on doing so as a bankrupt,
crime-ridden area with murderous highways, tens of thousands of
inmates, with wide-open borders.
I myself recently returned home to California, without incident, from a
visit to Iraq's notorious Sunni Triangle. While I was gone, a
drug-addicted criminal with a long list of convictions broke into our
kitchen at 4 a.m. was surprised by my wife and daughter, and fled with
our credit cards, cash, keys, and cell phones. Sometimes I wonder who
really was safer that week.
- - - - - - -
(c)2006 Victor Davis Hanson
The following is admittedly a "reach"; but you'll get the
07/07/07. A date
that reportedly comes along once a century, and which carries all kinds
of ancient significance. (See the article by Jennifer Lunsford in
today's The Day, pA1). Supposedly lucky, although "luck" has been
defined as "being ready when opportunity knocks".
Well, I'm ready...to offer seven issues in
and around us that should never be compromised.
(Is this a teachable moment, or what?).
- No abortion, never abortion, including embryonic stem cell
"research" that kills the embryo, and including "Plan B", an
- Allow "civil unions" for same sex commitments...but never
Marriage, a foundation stone of our society.
- Fair process in legal proceedings, vs. legalisms and unfair
"law", which we have an obligation to overturn.
- Emphasize relationships over genetics in caring for children.
- Spirituality First; "Religion" second.
- Good Will among us all, vs. efforts at forced
integration. (See David Brooks' article in today's The Day,
- Free speech among educated and informed citizens, vs.
hypocritical "political correctness", and vs. the "silence of the
lambs" so common among so many of us.
Could I go on? Perhaps. But these seven would make a
good start toward a better world.
FRIDAY, July 6,
Lieberman may back Republican in
HARTFORD, Connecticut (Reuters)
- U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent who supports Democrats in
Congress despite his backing of the Iraq war, said on Thursday he was
not ruling out endorsing a Republican in the White House race.
2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate said he also wants to see
if an independent enters the crowded field of 2008 presidential
going to chose whichever candidate that I think will do the best job
for our country, regardless of the party affiliation of that
candidate," the Connecticut senator told reporters in the state capital
not going to get involved until after both parties have their
presumptive nominees and, frankly, to see if there is a strong
independent candidate," he said.
was re-elected to a fourth Senate term in November as an independent in
Connecticut after his support for the Iraq war cost him the backing of
the Democratic Party. He continues to caucus with Democrats in the
Democrats last year abandoned Lieberman in favor of his Democratic
rival, Ned Lamont, a millionaire and political outsider who ran on an
anti-Iraq-war platform focused on public discontent over President
George W. Bush's policies.
65, described the 2008 presidential race as the most important election
of his adult life.
a lot on the line both in terms of the terrorist threat that we face
but also all the things here at home that seem broken: our health-care
system, our education system, the environmental problems we have," he
I have a confession to make. A physician for 50 years, I
just went to see Michael Moore's "Sicko".
Bottom line: it's worth seeing. The following is a brief
- It is simplistic, entertaining, and ultimately good-natured.
- It offers facts and factoids, without explanation or context; it
offers hyperbole without apology; and it offers compassion without
reference to real world realities.
- It describes symptoms of our diseased health care delivery
system, and comes to diagnoses of varying degrees of validity...and
- Its prescription for treatment is "one size fits all": "universal
health care", a euphemism for socialized medicine,
including suffocating central government, confiscatory
taxation and income redistribution, with inevitable loss of personal
freedom and opportunity.
The facts are that this country,
founded on individual initiative
and risk-taking, is now suffused in greed, great and small. Too
many of us, the more recent generations, forgot or never learned the
values of our parents and grandparents: sacrifice, delayed
gratification, a work ethic, and just plain ethics. The massive
increase in cyber-connectivity has produced the paradoxical effect
of a reduction in personal socialization with our neighbors and our
community. Thus, the Me Generations and the greatly
reduced attention to the less fortunate among us. We detest
compromise. We want it all, and now. We have no interest in
rationing and prioritizing our desires and needs for any common
So, what is the solution to the
problems of our health care
delivery system? The answer is in the plural: a living
wage for all; health insurance that is portable and not tied to
specific employment; personal responsibility for health and health care
costs, as embodied in Health Savings Accounts; subsidized help for the
deserving underserved, but not for the health care gamblers among us
who can afford but won't purchase health insurance; reduce
"defensive medicine" by placing malpractice claims in Health Courts, in
mediation and arbitration instead of in the national lottery of tort
Two recent articles are directly on
point and deserve a careful
read: 1) "Socialized Medicine Showdown", by Kimberly
Strassel, WSJ Friday, June 29, Opinion, pA14; and 2) "Who's
Really 'Sicko'", by David Gratzer, WSJ Thursday, June 28,
Opinion, pA13. This second article is a nearly point by point
rebuttal of Michael Moore's movie. JUST THE FACTS, MA'AM.
WEDNESDAY, July 2 through 4,
Lots of items in the news these days,
all interesting - some
- Years after 9/11 and terrorist bombings throughout the world,
England was welcoming over 20,000 physicians
from foreign countries, including 900 from Iraq alone, on the strength
of only their medical credentials and absence of criminal record,
"because of a deficit of British doctors". See, stupidity occurs
in countries besides the U.S.
- Iraq. The "surge" will continue to produce
only a surge in American body bags until the direct involvement of
Iran in arming the terrorists and insurgents is
addressed. As suggested a long time ago in this section -
before the surge decision - Iraq must be isolated at its borders...and
then must be given the opportunity to fight or talk its internal
divisions out. And that can be done without invading or bombing
- On the same subject, we finally read that "Critiques of Iraq
War Reveal Rifts Among Army Officers" (by Greg Jaffe,
WSJ June 29, 2007. pA1). This article reports in painful
detail the division between the younger officers in the field and the
generals in Washington. Most painful is the subtext that
such expressions of divisions are renegade and unwelcome by the higher
brass. What stupidity. Group-think, evidently treasured and
rewarded by the Pentagon, is group-stink. And it begins with the
military academies, where highly intelligent and motivated recruits are
required to be "broken down" and re-assembled into a one-size-fits-all
mold of the traditional military. Yet another institution in this
country that is "broken-down", needing a complete overhaul. As
with the others, "don't hold your breath...."
- Many cookie-cutter inane commentaries have been published since
the latest decisions from the USSC, bemoaning "the plight
of Blacks" in this country. Only when "Blacks" start
thinking of themselves as Americans rather than as some exotic fringe
group will they and their children pick up the tools needed to "make
it" in this country - as everybody else has had to do for
- The measure of a society is said to be how it cares for
the weakest in its midst. We're not doing too well,
either with regard to that perennial underclass - the mentally ill - or
with regard to the newly burgeoning class of severely disabled coming
back from fighting our battles in the Middle East. Again, where
is the leadership here?
- New - old - news: stress promotes obesity.
Well known, both psychologically and physiologically.
Alright. So, what do we do now: stand in line for days to get our
own iPhone; or GET A LIFE?
- Let's revisit New Orleans. Last week we
learned from the Corps of Engineers, itself also a very politicized
group, that the work now being done unwisely to resurrect the dead 9th
Ward is likely to jeapordize the French Quarter at the time of the next
inevitable floods. This would be the stuff of comic books, if it
weren't so tragic.
- Is there a moratorium on talk about global warming
these days? So, what is the reason for the apocalyptic floods now
devastating the southern tier of our country. We hear nothing
about that. Seems like the elephant in the living room.
- Here is a head-slapping headline from Lyon, France. "Screening
Embryos May Reduce Chances Of Getting
Pregnant". Screening to what end? The
killing of human beings within already pregnant woman, of course, for
purposes of convenience and of eugenics. Maybe the writer thought
we wouldn't notice.
- "Scotter" Libby. President Bush has done
the right thing, in view of the failure of the U.S. Court of Appeals to
delay his imprisonment until the outcome of his appeal of his
conviction on the merits. Now, will the President screw this up
too, under the excuse of some leaky umbrella like "loyalty", by giving
this perjurer a complete pardon?
- Having promised myself not to pay any attention to the idiocy
surrounding Paris Hilton, I then saw the following blaring headline in
the NY Post last week, overlaying a photo of her being carried by the
crowd in Times Square at the end of WW II:
SUNDAY, July 1,
Here's a pot pourri of issues, great and small.
Enough! It's a beautiful
day outside...and I'm going to
interact with my wife of 48 years and with some human friends...person
- Flash! New London, Ct. schools discover that
boys and girls are different. They are "trying" single gender
classrooms, with differing teaching techniques...including optional
sitting or standing for boys! Meanwhile, today's NYTimes produces
another searing report on public education in Connecticut...while the
liberals bemoan the USSC's recent action barring racial discrimination
in schooling. You want diversity? Try school choice and
vouchers, and see how well people of all races will know how to
diversify - to the better schools.
- Iraqi's Al Maliki continues to show his
colors...and they are certainly not red - white - blue. President
Bush, I sure hope that you have a reverse gear, so often absent in
- For the last re-discovery of human nature, see the results to
date of social engineering in health care in
Massachuetts and in Maine. Not so hot - and entirely
predictable. Nothing will improve until people are allowed and
incentivised to make their own informed decisions regarding their own
health care, ala Health Savings Accounts and similar initiatives.
- Both The Day and the NYTimes have articles today dealing with the
status of Marriage in America. Pretty
anemic. Just about everything else flows from that foundational
change. See the NYTimes Magazine for an analysis of whether we
are entering the decline and fall of the American empire. Another
troubling symptom: the rise of popularity of gagetry like iPhones and
of pets...at the expense of direct human interaction.
(c) Copyright 1999-2021, Allergy Associates of New London, PC