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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

SUNDAY through TUESDAY, July 29 through 31, 2007

What do you call a State where the following situations prevail?
I call it  THE STATE OF DISREPAIR: THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT.

GS

SATURDAY
, July 28, 2007
GS

FRIDAY, July 27, 2007

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 talk:
Why you ain't,
Where you is,
What he drive,
Where he stay,
Where he work,
Who you be...

And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
And then I heard the father talk.
Everybody knows it's important to speak English
except these knuckleheads.
You can't be a doctor with that kind of English coming out of your mouth.

In fact you will never get any kind of job making a
decent living. People marched and were hit in the
face with rocks to get an education, and now
we've got these knuckleheads walking around.

The lower economic people are not holding up

their end in this deal.

These people are not parenting.  They are buying

things for kids. $500 sneakers for what ? ?

And they won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.

I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing

there in an orange suit.

Where were you when he was  2  ? ?

Where were you when he was 12 ? ?

Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol ? ?

And where is the father ? ?  Or who is his father ?

People putting their clothes on backward: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong?

People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something ? ?

Or are you waiting for Jesus (Yeshua) to pull his pants up ?

Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all types of needles [piercings] going through her body?   


What part of Africa did this! come from??

We are not Africans.  Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa .

With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of those names, and all of them are in jail.   

Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem.

We have got to take the neighborhood back.   

People used to be ashamed.  Today a woman has eight children with eight different 'husbands' -- or men or whatever you call them now.

We have millionaire football players who cannot read.  



We have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs. 



We, as black folks, have to do a better job.  Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us.

We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.   

 

We cannot blame the white people any longer."

- Dr. William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr., Ed.D.

THURSDAY, July 26, 2007

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 aren't.  GS

Op-Ed Contributor
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 ungoverned places.

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 1998.

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 unconventional forces.

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 down.

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.

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, July 23 through 25, 2007
GS

SUNDAY, July 22, 2007

There is probably not a unifying theme to the following disparate issues.  But let's see....
So, is there a common theme among all of the above?  How about "COMMON SENSE REVISITED".  Now, there's a revolutionary concept.

GS

FRIDAY and SATURDAY, July 20 and 21, 2007

Why serious students of any subject must "cross-read" from several sources.  GS

==================================================
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
News Agency
==================================================

What Abstinence Education Gets Right

Interview With Chastity Speaker Jason Evert


Jason 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 .

Evert shared with ZENIT what the study gets wrong, and what good abstinence education programs get right in helping teens save sex for marriage.

Q: A recent study found that abstinence-education programs "don't work." What, specifically, did the study find? What do you think of the study's findings?

Evert: 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.

This study, however, had serious flaws.

First, 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 abstinence message.

Second, 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.

In 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 high school."

Third, the researchers did not evaluate a comparable sexual education program in order to compare the findings.

Fourth, 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 young people.

Fifth, the sample of four schools studied represents less than 1% of the more than 900 abstinence programs that receive federal funding.

Sixth, the abstinence programs that were studied have already been revised and updated. Therefore, any conclusions drawn from them are outdated.

The Mathematica study was released for one reason: to influence congressional leaders to restrict the amount of funding given to abstinence education.

Since 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.

The 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.

The media's frenzy over this study is another effort to distract the public from the fact that sexual education has been a complete failure.

After 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.

In 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."

Q: 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?

Evert: 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.

For 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 than abstinence.

One 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 until marriage.

While some sexual education programs have been used to stir up business for birth control companies, others expose children to graphic sexual content.

For 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 love.

Meanwhile, they propose that 15-year-olds should know that some people choose to watch pornography as a way to enhance sexual fantasies.

Lest you assume that the Centers for Disease Control would control such nonsense, even they funded a transgender beauty pageant in San Francisco.

One 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 sexually active."

Because 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.

For 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."

Not surprisingly, sexual education programs spend an average of 4.7% of their content on the topic of abstinence.

Q: Let's assume abstinence education programs in schools "don't work." What next?

Evert: Suppose a school offered an anti-drug and alcohol program to its students, and the curriculum failed to have a positive impact.

Imagine, 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."

No 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.

Those 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.

If certain abstinence programs are defective, the weaknesses must be identified and the deficiencies remedied.

For 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 positive results.

Q: Would abolition of all sexual education programs in schools, including abstinence-based programs, foster more parental involvement?

Evert: 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.

Indeed, 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."

In 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.

Q: Are there any successful abstinence programs with which you are familiar?

Evert: 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.

More than 30 scientific evaluations have shown that abstinence education reduces sexual activity and has positive effects on teens.

For 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 pledges.

Contrary 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.

In 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 sexual revolution.

Q: What can Catholic schools learn from the failures of various programs in public schools? What should Catholic schools be doing about sexual education?

Evert: The first lesson to be learned is that one cannot simultaneously deliver a convincing abstinence message while explaining how to practice "safe sex."

Second, 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.

Teenagers 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 human sexuality.

MONDAY through THURSDAY
, July 16 through 19, 2007

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. 
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 it." 
 
WOW.  But our original premise holds:
"Democracy is the worst form of government...except for all the rest".

GS    

SUNDAY, July 15, 2007

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

"Bong Hits 4 Jesus - Final Episode" by Daniel Henninger, WSJ Thursday, Jund 28, 2007, Opinion, pA12.

SATURDAY, July 14, 2007

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. 
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:
  1. 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.
  2. Move to establish a fair draft to heal, replenish and expand our military capabilities in preparation for this and other inevitable conflicts.
  3. 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 choice. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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". 
  6. Dare the partisan Democrats to withhold funding for the above, thereby unmasking their isolationist, protectionist and pacifist inclinations. 
<>Only President Bush can lead in such an effort.  The present self-delusion is merely placing a band-aid on an aggressive cancer in the world that has metastasized to within our midst.

GS

TUESDAY through FRIDAY, July 10 through 13, 2007

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 against women.

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 killed.

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 incalculable.

Farzana Shaikh is an associate Fellow at Chatham House.

MONDAY, July 9, 2007

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 DAY (WWW.THEDAY.COM).  
GS

SUNDAY, July 8, 2007
SATURDAY, July 7, 2007

The following is admittedly a "reach"; but you'll get the point. 
 
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?).
Could I go on?  Perhaps.  But these seven would make a good start toward a better world.

GS

FRIDAY, July 6, 2007

Lieberman may back Republican in '08 race
 

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.
 
The 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate said he also wants to see if an independent enters the crowded field of 2008 presidential hopefuls.

"I'm 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 Hartford.

"I'm 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.

Lieberman 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 Senate.

Many 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.

Lieberman, 65, described the 2008 presidential race as the most important election of his adult life.

"There's 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 said.

THURSDAY, July 5, 2007

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 critique. 
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 good. 
 
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 law. 
 
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.

GS

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, July 2 through 4, 2007

Lots of items in the news these days, all interesting - some irritating.
V-D DAY!
PARIS LIBERATED,
BIMBOS REJOICE
 
GS

SUNDAY, July 1, 2007

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 to person.

GS


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