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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, November 30, 2008

Joy and Joe... and I talk about "giving scandal".  Ms. Brown should be beatified...and these "Bishops" should be defrocked.  I was unaware of what she reports regarding the recent State initiatives and the stance taken by those pusillanimous State Catholic representatives.  I plan to give her report the broadest possible exposure, including direct letters of inquiry to our own Bishop Cote, to the Connecticut Catholic Conference, to my friend Bishop Loverde of Arlington, Va., to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and to the Papal Nuncio.  I will share this with my Pastor and with several priest friends.  and I will withhold all financial contributions except those sent directly to my parish until I receive a responsive reply.  George

Here lies the crux of the problem.   Will call soon.  Love, Joy

As I've suggested previously, I think the Catholic bishops missed a real opportunity here and in other states like Georgia and Montana.  Imagine how the bills would have done if the bishops had supported them publicly.  They are trying to build a house on the shifting sands of politics rather than the rock of principle.  Judie Brown sums it up well in the piece below.

Judie Brown, Personhood Amendment and Catholic Bishops
- - -
We remain steadfast, but.
By Judie Brown

Over the last few weeks, something rather bizarre has occurred in the pro-life movement and it is difficult for me to get my arms around it. So, I have decided to share the puzzlement I am experiencing in the hopes that others, upon reading this, will join me in a fervent Lenten prayer for healing.

This past January 17, as a personhood proposal was being presented as a way to amend Georgia's state constitution, the two bishops in that state made a public statement in opposition to it. They wrote, "As the Catholic bishops of Georgia we, along with our brother bishops throughout the world, have unceasingly advocated for the sanctity of human life and continually supported legislative efforts to increase protection of human life."

They claim to agree with the "objectives" of the proposed state constitutional amendment but oppose the approach because it "does not provide a realistic opportunity for ending or reducing abortion in Georgia."

A few weeks later, on February 26, the two Catholic bishops in Montana issued a statement expressing their views on a proposed personhood amendment to the Montana state constitution. They wrote, "We, the Catholic Bishops of Montana, remain steadfast in our commitment to defend human life in all of its stages, from conception to natural death."

They went on to commend the "objective" of the efforts to amend the state's constitution, but pointed out that they support efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution rather than the state's. They wrote that they "do not believe that CI-100 is the most beneficial venue to pursue necessary change." They listed several strategies which they deem appropriate at the state level, including funding pregnancy centers, providing support for expectant mothers and passing a law requiring parental notice with judicial bypass prior to a minor acquiring an abortion.

Two days later, the Colorado Catholic Conference issued a statement regarding the proposal by Colorado for Equal Rights to amend the Colorado state constitution with personhood language. In that statement, the Colorado Catholic Conference said, "We commend the goal of this effort to end abortion. but we do not believe that this year's Colorado Personhood Amendment is the best means to pursue this issue at this time."

The Colorado conference denied that any of the bishops had lent their support to the personhood initiative being promoted by Colorado for Equal Rights even though Bishop Tafoya, one of the three bishops in Colorado, had his picture taken with the campaign leader, Keith Mason, and had given every indication that he supported the effort.

The thread that ties these three separate actions together is the realization that even though these seven Catholic bishops in three states all share the goal of doing all they can to end the slaughter of the innocents, they also agree that personhood amendments to state constitutions are not realistic, timely or the best way to do things. Statements like those I have just excerpted are the source of my confusion.

For the record and, if I may say so, for the babies, allow me to point a few things out.

It was not anyone in the pro-life movement, but rather United States Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun who wrote in the Roe v. Wade decision, "If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's [abortion] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment."

In other words, if those who understand that a preborn child is a person from the point of his creation want to restore absolute legal protection to children, then personhood must be established in the law. Justice Blackmun did not tell us how personhood could be established, but he did give us a clue and this is why so many pro-life activists have chosen to do what they can to propose personhood amendments to the various state constitutions. The hope is that one of these proposals will be passed by the people and if it eventually arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court, the actual merits of personhood will be argued.

Further, on March 7, 1974, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros spoke at a United States Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for the entire National Conference of Catholic Bishops and told the senators that any proposed constitutional amendment ".should clearly establish that, from conception onward, the unborn child is a human person in the terms of the Constitution."

In that same statement, Cardinal Medeiros also made it perfectly clear that every proposal should be "universal and without exceptions."

So, a totally pro-abortion Supreme Court justice and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church both came to the same conclusion: Personhood is the key to ending the tyranny of the abortion empire in America. And yet when we have three actively dedicated pro-life organizations pursuing the very goal that Cardinal Medeiros encouraged, we also have Catholic bishops publicly distancing themselves from such efforts and opposing them in a variety of ways.

This is discouraging, but not surprising. In fact, it is a harbinger of things to come if those committed to pro-life principle do not press on rather than succumb to a spirit of despair.

Now is not the time to accept defeat simply because of the negative statements coming forth from Catholic conferences whether in the east, the west or anywhere in between. We cannot change the statements of those Church leaders who have chosen to oppose personhood efforts, but on the other hand, we cannot abandon the very principle that is foundational to all pro-life efforts not only in Montana, Georgia and Colorado - but everywhere else.

Among the many legal minds who have contributed to the fundamental strategy that underlies the necessary pro-life legal efforts in these three states is that of the wise Notre Dame law professor Charles Rice. In 35 years, he has never changed his perspective on personhood. What he said in 1973 he continues to say today. He teaches that it was the denial of personhood that was the foundation for everything that the Nazis did to the Jews, the Christians and others under their regime. The idea of relegating entire classes of people to subhuman status was the crux of the Nazi euthanasia program and all the gruesome acts that followed it.

Professor Rice ties that very attitude of annihilation by dehumanization directly to the abortion industry of today. And as he has written, the affirmation of the non-personhood of the preborn child means that the particular human beings who fall into this category are subject to all manner of cruelty and abuse, including death because they have no rights - they are not human beings according to the law.

This alone should give rise to a total advocacy of personhood on the part of every single pro-life American in our day and age. Whether a Catholic prelate or a man on the street, there is no denying that the culture of death now has a tragic grip on the thought process of those in authority in our nation and that must change.

As Professor Rice so eloquently wrote, "Roe applies precisely the principle that underlay the Nazi extermination of the Jews, that an innocent human being can be declared to be a non-person and subjected to death at the discretion of those who regard him as unfit or unwanted. The justices, who triggered the abortion avalanche by their own free decision, are no more defensible than the Nazi judges who acquiesced in the crimes of that regime and the functionaries who administered its decrees at Auschwitz and similar places."

As if that were not enough, he concluded on this sober note, "The Court will allow states to enact marginal restrictions on surgical abortions, but those abortions are becoming obsolete because of early abortifacient drugs and devices."

So, I am left bewildered and anguished by these questions: Why not personhood? How can one be steadfast and at the same time oppose such sensible strategies?

As Alan Keyes warned, "The evil that we fight is but a shadow of the evil that we do."

Judie Brown is president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. For three decades, she has advocated personhood declarations in law.


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, November 28 and 29, 2008

So this is what has become of "THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE"?   GS

Sought: Wal-Mart shoppers who trampled NY worker
By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer Colleen Long, Associated Press Writer Sat Nov 29, 7:11 am ET

NEW YORK – Police were reviewing video from surveillance cameras in an attempt to identify who trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker after a crowd of post-Thanksgiving shoppers burst through the doors at a suburban store and knocked him down.

Criminal charges were possible, but identifying individual shoppers in Friday's video may prove difficult, said Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, a Nassau County police spokesman.

Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

At least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries. The store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.

Police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the Wal-Mart doors before its 5 a.m. opening at a mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the employee, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.

"This crowd was out of control," Fleming said. He described the scene as "utter chaos," and said the store didn't have enough security.

Dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help Damour were also getting trampled by the crowd, Fleming said. Shoppers stepped over the man on the ground and streamed into the store.

Damour, 34, of Queens, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 6 a.m., police said. The exact cause of death has not been determined.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital, where she and the baby were reported to be OK, said police Sgt. Anthony Repalone.

Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling `I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping."

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a "tragic situation" and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store. It said it tried to prepare for the crowd by adding staffers and outside security workers, putting up barricades and consulting police.

"Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred," senior Vice President Hank Mullany said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted."

A woman reported being trampled by overeager customers at a Wal-Mart opening Friday in Farmingdale, about 15 miles east of Valley Stream, Suffolk County police said. She suffered minor injuries, but finished shopping before filling the report, police said.

Shoppers around the country line up early outside stores on the day after Thanksgiving in the annual bargain-hunting ritual known as Black Friday. It got that name because it has historically been the day when stores broke into profitability for the full year.

Items on sale at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart included a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.



TUESDAY through THURSDAY, November 25 through 27, 2008

WE IN AMERICA HAVE MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR...TOO MUCH, IN FACT.  A country with 5% of the world's population should not be using over 30% of the world's resources.  For one thing, that's obscene.  For another, we are now seeing what happens to an economy that relies for its life-blood on that kind of perpetual consumerism - whether we can really afford it or not - instead of providing the food, innovation, technology, stable financial structure and military prowess that the whole world needs.  This country has throughout its history moved forward mainly through revolution, civil war, world wars, crises and assassinations.  This modus operandi may well have run its course.  And, as with the Fall of the British Empire beginning in 1781, American Manifest Destiny may have begun to crumble beginning with the 21st century.  That is, unless we change. 
Meanwhile, consider this: 1) check out the column by Cal Thomas entitled "Mission Accomplished ll" (in The Day, Wednesday, Nov. 26), especially in context with the approval by the Iraqii Parliament of the withdrawal agreement with the U.S. forces; 2) the terrorists attacks in India...and the lack of such attacks here.  Will Democrats swallow their bile long enough to give President George W. Bush some credit for this state of affairs in America?  We have much to be thankful to our Creator for.

GS


MONDAY, November 24, 2008

As you look through these striking and poignant pictures (www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/afghanistans_korengal_valley), please take a moment to thank-and say a prayer for-the marvelous young men and women of this great country of ours who have volunteered to serve her in the Armed Forces, knowing that they, most probably, will be going in harm's way on her behalf somewhere in the world.  And remember that each and every one of them deserves, and is entitled to, our full and unconditional support for them and the mission they are carrying out-without restriction and without partisan politics, something our Congress would do well to remember.  - Steve Percy


SATURDAY and SUNDAY, November 22 and 23, 2008

The time has come to say it: President George W. Bush has become a big disappointment.  Yes, he united the nation after 9/11.  Yes, revelations in the coming decade will probably support his decision to practise pre-emptive self-defense by invading Iraq in March, 2003.  Yes, he will be proven to have prevented further massive attacks on this country during his time in office.  And yes, he drew the line at the abomination of abortion.  These are important accomplishments.

But things go downhill from there.  The first massive error was in not firing Donald Rumsfeld by the Summer of 2003. He placed much too much emphasis on "loyalty" despite grave incompetence, there and elsewhere. He failed to rally Americans to the need for all of us to share some of the burdens of his decisions..especially our military needs...through a fair Draft, through rationing of vital resources like foreign oil, and through other homefront actions. He failed to demonstrate the hypocracy of many other nations who were attacking America while undercutting our efforts, on behalf of all, through their massive trading with the enemies.  He failed to stop the disintegration of his own Republican Party...through uncritical adherence to the demands of the Fundamentalist Right and through complicity in their newly-found spendthrift ways.  He was asleep at the switch, and was even complicit, in basing our national economy on Americans' spending their brains  out - on baseless credit - and thereby provoking the current financial crash. I could go on.  But all you have to do is re-read my comments on Rapid Response on this web-site throughout the last years since March, 2003.  It's all there. 

One final point.  President Bush could not have prevented the Democrats' successful efforts to tie John McCain to his unpopular Presidency.  But could have and should have aggressively explained and defended his own actions to the public...rather than becoming politically comatose and thereby guaranteeing the outcome.  His "Legacy"?  I give him a "C".

GS


MONDAY through FRIDAY, November 17 through 21, 2008

To re-cap. During the election campaign, I referred to Barack Obama first as "Elmer Gantry on Prozak", then as an "empty suit", and finally as the "Manchurian Candidate".  I never thought he was stupid...but I never could figure out who he really was.  After he was elected in a collective national aura of self-hypnosis, I stated in this section that his hardest task would be keeping at bay the crazies in his own party. 
We are now starting to see who President-Elect Obama is: smart, pragmatic and - most importantly - aware of his own weaknesses.  His choices for his Cabinet can be called "Clinton III": smart, pragmatic, experienced and centrist.  Not a "Change", but a good sign, considering the leftist alternatives baying from Congress.  A real test will come quickly, as his group trys to deal with "Health Care Reform".  They can do a lot of good (see my numerous articles on this web site, extending over thirty years).  Or they can evoke a great leap backward by ignoring the realities: more "want" than need; lack of personal responsibility for self; need for personal financial incentives and dis-incentives in seeking medical care; recognition of the deep disaffection developed among health care professionals after decades of treatment as second-class citizens....  We still don't know who Barack Obama is...really.  But at least the test format is now established.  Let's see.

GS


MONDAY through SUNDAY, November 10 through 16, 2008

The Economy.  There are two possible explanations for the current display of action/inaction by our fearless leaders: 1) they don't know what the hell is going on and are without a clue regarding how to correct it and avoid this in the future; or 2) they do know what is going on and are about to save Wall Street and the fat cats while again screwing the average Joe.  Scenario #2 is the worse of the two.  David Brooks explains it best in his most recent column ("Bailout To Nowhere", in The Day Saturday, November 15).  Now that the elections are over, can't those elected do for a change what's for the common good instead of following their cynical pre-election "promises"?  Without effective debridement of this extensive economic wound to the national body, the infection will spread into the sepsis of a full-blown and prolonged Depression.  Franklin Delan'Obama please take note! 

Meanwhile, the reported profusion of threats against the President-Elect is outrageous.  Any and all such public comments should be promptly punished to the fullest extent of Federal Law as being akin to "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater'".

GS


SUNDAY, November 9, 2008

The Republican Party does not need just an oil change and lube job.  It needs a new motor to drive its better and lasting ideas, a new suspension to support those positions with facts and not simply with emotion and tradition, a new catalytic converter to expunge the more odorous parts of its reputation, and a new transmission to get its message from the motor to the driving wheels. The body is OK.  Simply giving it a new paint job would be rightly seen as "putting lipstick on a pig".  So let's get to work.

1) The one absolute that cannot be modified in any way, the only Republican position that is a matter of life and death, is abortion: at any time from the moment of conception; for any reason other than to save the life of the mother. The Republican Party's constant position must be reversal of Roe v. Wade, reversion of the issue to the States, and a U.S. Constitutional Amendment declaring the conceptus a human being with all of the accompanying rights - especially the right to life. That will lose votes. It will lose some elections. But it will move the national discussion along to final acceptance. 
2) All other positions can be modified, depending upon existing circumstances. This includes the desireable "strict interpretation" of the Constitution.  The "eight hundred pound gorilla sits where it wants to sit". So work at selecting the most compatible judges - and let them do their work.
3) We can work toward a more moral society, especially by example.  But we cannot legislate it.  That work is for parents and for societal pressures on individuals and corporations. 
4) Immigration is a foundation-stone of this mation.  The DAR and SAR were immigrants.  Only Indians were not immigrants.  This problem must be addressed: legally, practically and humanely.  Nativism is a self-inflicted wound, one of many, for the Republican Party.
5) Civil Union, YES.  Gay Marriage between two committed persons, NO. Adoption by responsible gay couples, YES.  Artificial methods of birthing by gay couples, NO.
6) Individual responsibility, YES.  Social responsibility by society to help its poor, YES, by both volunteer action and by government action when necessary. (See the responses of Hoover and of FDR to the severe dislocations of the Great Depression).
7) Lower taxes and responsible government spending, YES, except when the times and national challenges require a different approach.
8) Free enterprise, YES, but under the watchful eye of society to encourage fairness in the face of the baser instincts of human nature. (Alan Greenspan, take note!)
9) International trade, YES, subject to realistically fair proportionality.
10) Cooperation with other world nations, YES, but always consistent with our own self-interest and with a real-world view - not with wishful thinking.

I could go on. But the perennial argument between "conservative" and "progressive" views, within both the Republican and Democratic Parties, has gone on since the founding of this unique nation.  It has become clear that, for the Democrats, it is a matter of barely ordered chaos that makes good theatre; but for the Republicans is is a matter of organizational life and death.  FELLOW REPUBLICANS, WAKE UP!

GS


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, November 7 and 8, 2008

Res ipsa loquitur.  GS

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

The Facts of When Human Life Begins
Interview With Maureen Condic of the Westchester Institute

By Karna Swanson

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, NOV. 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The conclusion of scientist Maureen Condic that human life begins at a defined moment of conception isn't an opinion based on a belief, but rather a "reflection of the way the world is."

Condic, a senior fellow of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, published her conclusions in a white paper titled "When Does Human Life Begin?" In the report she addresses the topic using current scientific data in human embryology.

An associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Condic received her doctorate in neurobiology from the University of California, Berkely. Her teaching focuses primarily on embryonic development, and she directs the University of Utah School of Medicine's course in human embryology.

In the interview with ZENIT, Condic explains why the question of when human life begins is important to address, and what scientific criteria she used to define a "moment of conception."

Q: This is the first white paper for the Westchester Institute. Why this topic? Why now?

Condic: This is an important question, with significant biological, ethical and philosophical dimensions. As I note in the paper, resolving when human life begins has important implications for a number of controversial political topics, including abortion and human embryonic stem cell research.

As a scientist and as director of a medical school course in human embryology, I have been considering the general question of when human life begins for quite a few years. The argument put forward in the white paper has grown out of discussions with philosophers, scientists and ethicists, as well as out of my own research in this area.

Yet this topic has come to the fore in the lead-up to the presidential election. While the topic of when life begins has generally been avoided by politicians and government officials, recently a number of prominent figures have offered their interpretations, making this a timely subject to consider with scientific rigor and neutrality.

Q: You define the moment of conception as the second it takes for the sperm and egg to fuse and form a zygote. What were the scientific principles you used to arrive at this conclusion?

Condic: The central question of "when does human life begin" can be stated in a somewhat different way: When do sperm and egg cease to be, and what kind of thing takes their place once they cease to be?

To address this question scientifically, we need to rely on sound scientific argument and on the factual evidence. Scientists make distinctions between different cell types (for example, sperm, egg and the cell they produce at fertilization) based on two simple criteria: Cells are known to be different because they are made of different components and because they behave in distinct ways.

These two criteria are used throughout the scientific enterprise to distinguish one cell type from another, and they are the basis of all scientific (as opposed to arbitrary, faith-based or political) distinctions. I have applied these two criteria to the scientific data concerning fertilization, and they are the basis for the conclusion that a new human organism comes into existence at the moment of sperm-egg fusion.

Q: Many in the scientific world would say that fertilization doesn't happen in a moment, but rather that it is a process that comes to an end at the end of the first cell cycle, which is 24 hours later. Why is it important to define a "moment of conception," as opposed to a "process of fertilization"?

Condic: It is not important to somehow define a "moment" or a "process" of fertilization in the abstract. It is important to base conclusions and judgments about human embryos on sound scientific reasoning and on the best available scientific evidence.

Had this analysis led to a different conclusion -- for example, that fertilization is a "process" -- I would have accepted this conclusion as scientifically valid. However, a scientific analysis of the best available data does not support the conclusion that fertilization is a "process"; it supports the conclusion that fertilization is an event that takes less than a second to complete.

The events of the first 24 hours following sperm-egg fusion are clearly unique, but they are also clearly acts of a human organism, not acts of a mere human cell.

Q: Do opinion, belief and politics have a place in defining the beginning of a new life? How is it that the topic has become an issue of debate?

Condic: The topic of when human life begins is an issue of debate because it has strong implications for public policy on matters that concern many people; abortion, in-vitro fertilization and human embryo research. How "opinion, belief and politics" have assumed such a large role in deciding when life begins is a question for a sociologist or a psychologist, not a biologist!

It is important to appreciate that the scientific facts are themselves entirely neutral; they are simply a reflection of the way the world is, as opposed to how we may wish or imagine it to be.

That is not to say that the scientific facts lend equal support to any and all views of when human life begins. While people are free to formulate their opinion on when human life begins in any manner they choose (including belief and politics), not all opinions are equally consistent with factual reality. Those who choose to ignore the facts cannot expect their opinions to garner as much respect or to be given as much credibility as those who base their opinions in sound scientific observation and analysis.

The opinions of members of the flat-Earth society should not carry as much weight as those of astrophysicists in formulating national aerospace policy. The opinions of those who reject the scientific evidence concerning when life begins should not be the basis of public policy on embryo-related topics, either.

Q: Who needs to read this paper and why?

Condic: I think every person who is concerned about the important "life-issues" of health care, abortion, assisted reproduction and stem-cell research should read this article, because understanding when life begins is the basis of a sound political, ethical and moral debate on these complex and difficult topics. Certainly, all those charged with the formation of public policy on these matters should read this argument and think seriously about its implications. If we cannot know what a human embryo is and when it comes into existence, we cannot make sound judgments regarding any of the issues surrounding the human embryo.

Q: What reactions have you received to the conclusions of your paper? What do you hope will result from its publication?

Condic: Thus far, reactions have been thoughtful and considered. I hope this will continue and that a clear understanding of the relevant scientific evidence will help ground future public policy debates over embryo-related issues in sound scientific fact -- rather than in mere "opinion, belief and politics."


THURSDAY, November 6, 2008

Well, after all is said and done, President-elect Obama.  The end of the beginning. And I trust it's not the beginning of the end.  All depends on how he interprets his "mandate", since 47% of the electorate in this massive turnout voted against him, indicating once again a centrist society.  His biggest and most important problem will be reining in the crazies in his party. 
As for me, a paraphrased quote: "My President, may he be always right.  But, if not right he'll hear from me".

GS

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, November 3 through 5, 2008

> We rarely get a chance to see another country's editorial about the USA ...
>
> Read this excerpt from a Romanian Newspaper.
>
> The article was written by Mr. Cornel Nistorescu, and published under the
> title "C'ntarea Americii", meaning 'Ode To America ' in the Romanian
> newspaper - Evenimentulzilei 'The Daily Event' or 'News of the Day'.
>
> ******************************************************
> ~An Ode to America?~
>
> Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if
> you painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world
> and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs.
>
> On 9/ll, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a
> hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the Army,
> or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed
> to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to
> gape about. Instead the Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a
> helping hand.
>
> After the first moments of panic , they raised their flag over the smoking
> ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national
> flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on
> every car a government official or the president was passing. On every
> occasion, they started singing: "God Bless America?!"
>
> I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to
> the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a
> wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey
> player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the
> plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or
> thousands of people.
>
> How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being.
> Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned
> into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions
> and millions of dollars were put into collection aimed at rewarding not a
> man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.
>
> What on earth can unites the Americans in such way? Their land? Their
> history? Their economic Power? Money?
>
> I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases
> with the risk of sounding commonplace, I thought things over, I reached but
> only one conclusion... Only "FREEDOM" can work such miracles.
> (Cornel Nistorescu)
>
> - This deserves to be passed around the Internet forever. It took a person
> on the outside - looking in - to see what we take for granted!
> GOD BLESS AMERICA!!
>


SATURDAY and SUNDAY, November 1 and 2, 2008

Now that's what we need, right now and in the White House.  (And no, I don't mean Tina Fey).  GS

McCain pokes fun at campaign on 'SNL'
By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer Beth Fouhy, Associated Press Writer Sun Nov 2, 5:03 pm ET

NEW YORK – John McCain was a hit on "Saturday Night Live," just not as big a hit as his running mate.

The Republican, who poked fun at his presidential campaign's financial shortcomings and his reputation as a political maverick in Saturday's appearance, led the show to its second-best overnight ratings since a December 1997 holiday episode.

NBC estimated Sunday that when the final national viewer estimate is known later this week, it will be a little less than 12 million people. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's appearance two weeks ago was seen by 15 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The presidential hopeful made a cameo appearance at the beginning of the show, with Tina Fey reprising her memorable impersonation of Palin.

McCain, who is trailing Democrat Barack Obama in most battleground state polls, also appeared during the show's "Weekend Update" newscast to announce he would pursue a new campaign strategy in the closing days of the campaign.

"I thought I might try a strategy called the reverse maverick. That's where I'd do whatever anybody tells me," McCain said.

And if that didn't work, "I'd go to the double maverick. I'd just go totally berserk and freak everybody out," the Arizona senator quipped.

Earlier in the show, McCain and Fey's Palin said they couldn't afford a half-hour campaign commercial on network television like the one Obama aired earlier this week. They said they'd sell campaign products on the QVC shopping channel instead.

Among other things, McCain advertised a set of knives to cut through pork in Washington. His wife, Cindy McCain, briefly appeared to advertise "McCain Fine-Gold" jewelry, a play on the campaign finance law McCain authored with Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

Fey's Palin advertised a set of "Joe" dolls commemorating "Joe the Plumber," "Joe Six-Pack" and her Democratic rival, Joe Biden. She also pulled out T-shirts saying "Palin 2012" and announced she wouldn't be returning to Alaska after the election.

"I'm either running in four years or I'm going to be a white Oprah," she said.

Obama said Sunday that McCain was funny. Addressing supporters in Ohio, he said the performance was an example of how politicians can fight on the issues but bring civility to politics by having a sense of humor.

Obama said he missed seeing "Saturday Night Live" — he was in a motorcade in Missouri — but caught up by watching it on YouTube.
___

Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler in Columbus, Ohio, and television writer David Bauder contributed to this report.



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