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

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

FRIDAY, July 31, 2009

One of the many barnacles encrusting this scow called "Health Care Reform".  GS

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

Cardinal: Make Health Care Abortion-Neutral

Requests That Reform Not Be Used for Anti-Life Agenda

WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops' conference Committee on Pro-Life Activities Chairman is urging lawmakers to amend a health care reform proposal so that it respects life and conscience rights.


Cardinal Justin Rigali affirmed this in a July 29 letter addressed to members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, who are currently debating "America's Affordable Health Choices Act" (H.R. 3200).

He underlined the principles already stressed by his colleague, Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a July 17 letter to all congressmen.

The cardinal affirmed that the conference views health care "as a basic right belonging to all human beings, from conception to natural death" and therefore supports "universal health care reform."

This reform should respect human life and dignity, provide access for all -- especially immigrants and the poor -- preserve pluralism with respect for conscience rights and restrain costs, he stated.

However, Cardinal Rigali added, "much-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an 'abortion rights' agenda or reversing longstanding current policies against federal abortion mandates and funding."

The prelate urged the representatives to make this legislation "abortion neutral" by "preserving longstanding federal policies that prevent government promotion of abortion and respect conscience rights."

He underlined several problems that must be addressed in the proposed act.

Under the act, the cardinal noted, abortion coverage in private health care packages could be mandated, and federal abortion funding would increase.

He added that this act would invalidate state laws that regulate abortions and endanger laws that protect conscience rights of health care workers.

True service

Cardinal Rigali affirmed that "President Obama recently stated that he accepts these current laws and will do nothing to weaken them."

He added, "Congress should make the same pledge, by ensuring that this legislation will maintain protection for conscience rights."

"By your actions on these issues," the cardinal told the lawmakers, "you have the ability to help reform our health care system in a way that will truly serve the poor and needy and uphold the dignity of all."

Thursday evening, an anti-abortion amendment to the act was passed, but was then rejected in a re-vote a couple of hours later.

This amendment would have specified that the health care act would not be able to require coverage of abortion except in special cases.

A new proposal, which later passed with a small majority vote from the committee, regulates federal funding for abortion.

It also stated that although health care plans are not required to pay for abortions, every region should have at least one plan that does.

The committee will break for a recess during the month of August, along with all congressmen, and will resume the discussion on this act in September.


MONDAY through THURSDAY, July 27 through 30, 2009

New London, Ct. has a new Superintendent of Schools.  More "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic"?

The following is quoted from the article in The Day (www.theday.com) on July 30, 2009 entitled "Scores Mixed In CMT, CAPT Results" (Region, pC1). 
Need I say more?  If you insist, check out my long-running and continuing series on "Public Education Politics" on this web site.

GS



SATURDAY and SUNDAY, July 25 and 26, 2009

LET'S SEE HOW FAR THIS GOES...AND HOW FAR IT GETS...AGAINST THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS' UNIONS' RECKLESS SELF-INTEREST.

Obama unveils $4 billion school improvement plan

Fri Jul 24, 2:43 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Friday announced a competition for $4 billion in federal grants to improve academic achievement and reverse a decline in U.S. public schools.

"In an economy where knowledge is the most valuable commodity a person and a country have to offer, the best jobs will go to the best educated, whether they live in the United States, or India, or China," Obama said.

The president wants states to use funds from the competition, dubbed the "Race to the Top," to ease limits on so-called charter schools, link teacher pay to student achievement and move toward common U.S. academic standards.

Charter schools receive public funding but generally are exempt from some state or local rules and regulations. They are operated as an alternative to traditional public schools.

"America will not succeed in the 21st century unless we do a far better job in educating our sons and daughters," Obama said in an address at the Department of Education.

The $4 billion education grant program was created under the $787 billion economic stimulus plan passed by Congress and signed into law by Obama in February.

"Rather than divvying it up and handing it out, we are letting states and districts compete for it. That's how we can incentivize excellence and spur reform and launch a race for the top in America's public schools," he said.

The United States has one of the worst high school dropout rates in the industrialized world, and its students often rank below those in other Western nations in reading and math.

Obama has portrayed the drive to improve education as part of a broader push to promote economic growth in the face of a deep recession and the worst U.S. financial crisis in decades.

(Writing by JoAnne Allen and Ross Colvin)


FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009

After a very busy professional and personal two weeks, let's review what's been going on...in no particular order.  Although I use several news sources in several media, the Wall Street Journal is a "must read" as an antidote to the selective and slanted reportage of much of the rest of the media. 
GS


WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, JULY 22 and 23, 2009

CLOSE...AND  A CIGAR.  GS

TOP TEN INDICATORS THAT YOUR EMPLOYER HAS CHANGED TO OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE PLAN:

(10) Your annual breast exam is done at Hooters.
 
(9) Directions to your doctor's office include "Take a left when you enter the trailer park."
 
(8) The tongue depressors taste faintly of Fudgesicles.
 
(7) The only proctologist in the plan is "Gus" from Roto-Rooter.
 
(6) The only item listed under Preventative Care Coverage is "an apple a day."
 
(5) Your primary care physician is wearing the pants you gave to Goodwill last month.
 
(4) "The patient is responsible for 200% of out-of-network charges," is not a typographical error.
 
(3) The only expense covered 100% is "embalming."
 
(2) Your Prozac comes in different colors with little M's on them. 
 
AND THE NUMBER ONE SIGN YOU'VE JOINED OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE PLAN
 
(1) You ask for Viagra, and they give you a Popsicle stick and duct tape.


MONDAY and TUESDAY
, JULY 20 and 21, 2009

Yep...  GS

<>To all:  For those of you that were born between the years noted below, when you read this e-mail it will bring back many memories of our growing-up days.  Pass this on to those that you know who grew-up in those days and let them have a refresher course!

Those of You Born
1930 - 1979

> TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE
> 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's!!
>
> First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank
> while they were
> pregnant.
> They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and
> didn't get tested for diabetes.
> Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in
> baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-base paints.
> We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or
> cabinets and when we rode
> our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.
> As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats,
> no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and
> sometimes no brakes.
> Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was always a
> special treat.
> We drank water
> from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
> We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and
> no one actually died from this.
> We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank
> Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight.
> WHY?
> Because we were
> always outside playing....that's why!
> We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as
> we were back when the
> streetlights came on.
> No one was able
> to reach us all day. And, we were O.K..
>
> We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and
> then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the
> brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned
> to solve the problem. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's
> and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on
> cable, no video20movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no
> cell phones,
> no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms..
> WE HAD FRIENDS
> and we went outside and found them!
>
> We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there
> were no lawsuits from these accidents.
> We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not
> live in us forever.
>
> We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with
> sticks and tennis balls and,
> although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very
> many eyes..
> We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the
> door or rang the bell, or just
> walked in and talked to them.
>
> Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those
> who didn't had to learn to deal
> with disappointment. Imagine that!!
>
> The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was
> unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
>
> These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers,
> problem solvers and inventors ever.
> The past 50 years
> have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had
> freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how
> to deal with it all..
>
> If YOU are one of them? CONGRATULATIONS! You might want to
> share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as
> kids, before the
> lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for
> our own good.
> While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know
> how brave and lucky their parents were.
> Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors,
> doesn't it ?
> The quote of the
> month is by Jay Leno: "With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of
> control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms
> tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the
> threat of bird flu
> and terrorist attacks. Are we sure this is a good time to take
> God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?'


MONDAY through SUNDAY
, JULY 13 throuogh 19, 2009

Dr. McLean, thank you for your prompt and responsive reply.  It speaks well of your leadership of the ACP. 
I have many opinions, based on many decades of education, training and experience; and sharing them benefits both public information and my well-being.  In fact, I have long questioned the more liberal bent that the ACP leadership has demonstrated on the subject at hand.  As for the AMA, I resigned 20 years ago after 30 years of membership...not as much for their positions on some topics as for their lack of effective representative leadership. 
I have long recognized that our national medical leadership has always sought to " have a seat at the table".  But when that seat is under the table, as has so often been the case in recent decades, well-reasoned and publicized opposition is much the better approach.  That is what is sorely needed now.

GS

Dr. Sprecace,

I appreciate your input. I took a look at your web site…you have quite a variety of topics covered across the spectrum!

While there are clearly issues within the current legislation which make it far from perfect, it clearly aligns with many policies for which the ACP had advocated for many years (and I had the fortunate opportunity to be part of the ACP’s Health & Public Policy Committee from 2003-7, so I am familiar with much of the debate which went into the development of several of these policv papers) and therefore it is felt to warrant our support at this time.

If you have not read some of these detailed policy papers (well-researched and very evidence-based), I encourage you to look at www.acponline.org/advocacy to read some of them. I think you will be impressed at their logic and thoroughness.

Even the AMA (typically not pushing to change the status quo in most situations) had decided to publicly support this current bill. At times, controversial political decisions need to be made to keep one’s place at the decision-making table. I sincerely hope the health reform debate continues to move forward based on good data-driven evidence and policy and not misleading propaganda and political “hot-button” reactions.

Robert McLean

BEWARE WHAT YOU ASK FOR. 

I have been writing and speaking on this subject since the mid-1970's.  Much of that material is on my web site (www.asthma-drsprecace.com).  In fact, a commentary article I published in The Day (theday.com) in 1978 could be re-published today with very little change...because none of the reforms that are needed have even been honestly discussed to date...especially patient responsibility.  I see the following coming out of the current proposals: higher cost, lower quality and less availability.  And that will be called "progress".

GS

Dear CT ACP Colleagues,

With all the health reform activity on Capitol Hill, many of you may wonder, "Where's the ACP?"

On multiple occasions, the ACP has testified before or given explicit feedback comments to the various Congressional committees working on these issues. I encourage you to frequently check the ACP advocacy page www.acponline.org/advocacy and especially the ACP Advocate blog updated several times per week by ACP Government Relations guru Bob Doherty (link on bottom right of ACP home page).

Just yesterday, he explained how the just released "America's Affordable Choices Act of 2009 H.R. 3200" is closely aligned with ACP goals and policies on coverage, workforce, and payment/delivery system reform. It may not be perfect, but it warrants the support of the internist community.

It's difficult to keep up with all the details, but our patients may look to us for our perspective. In the past week alone, I was asked by six different patients what I thought about the current direction of health reform efforts. When I indicated general support for the overall goal of universal access of affordable insurance and health care (i.e. President Obama's goals), I was greeted with reassuring nods from each patient. "I am really glad to hear that from you," they each said.

I fully expect a barrage of misleading and inflammatory language (words like "rationing" and "socialized medicine") from the health reform opponents over the next several weeks. I plan to post in my office exam rooms some printed information from the ACP web site regarding reasons for ACP support of the current legislation. It is one thing I can do to help encourage public opinion in my community.

As a recent fortune cookie advised me, "Turbulence is a life force. It is opportunity. Let's love turbulence and use it for change."

Robert McLean, M.D., FACP
Governor, CT ACP Chapter


SUNDAY, JULY 12, 2009

RIGHT ON!



I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making
my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.


Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.



I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful.
But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers,
or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and
compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

 
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.
So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their
hair could turn silver.




As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore.
I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever,
but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day(if I feel like it).
MAY OUR FRIENDSHIP NEVER COME APART ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART!



MAY YOU ALWAYS HAVE A RAINBOW OF SMILES ON YOUR FACE AND IN YOUR HEART FOREVER AND EVER! FRIENDS FOREVER!


SATURDAY, JULY 11, 2009

There are times, few in number I must say, when the erudition and wisdom of those who write for a living leave me SPEECHLESS.  Today in The Day (www.theday.com)  is one of those days. 
 
You must read The Day Editorial, July 11, 2009, entitled "More Stimulus Could Wreck Recovery, Not Help" (Opinion, pA6).  You must also read Charles Krauthammer's column entitled "Plenty of Plumage, But At A Price" (ibid, pA7).  "Nuf Sed".

GS


MONDAY through FRIDAY, JULY 6 through 10, 2009

NOTICE:
BECAUSE OF THE ENERGY CRISIS,
THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
HAS BEEN TURNED OFF.

GS


SUNDAY, JULY 5, 2009

Despite the clamor, by the lemmings and the parasites, over the untimely death of a tragic figure, there is actually some news out there. 
GS


SATURDAY, JULY 4, 2009

Health Care Reform.  Nothing wrong with the idea and with the goal.  Health care in this country does need reform.  I have addressed in this section what needs to be done, as I have been doing since the mid-1970's.  (Really!  Check it out).  But the Obama / Congressional efforts will make everything worse: access, quality and cost.  The Wall Street Journal has also been doing its best to make these points.  And the following recent articles should be "must-read" for every person and patient...meaning all of us. 
If you don't believe me about this, check out the reams of commentary I have been offering since 2003 in this section regarding the disaster called Public Education produced by the Teachers' Union Mafia through their wholly owned subsidiaries - The House of Representatives and the Senate of this United States of America.  Read  "The NEA's Latest Trick", Editorial Friday, June 19, 2009, pA14.  I kid you not.

GS


WEDNESDAY through FRIDAY
, JULY 1 through 3, 2009

Let's see if President Obama is true to his word.  GS

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

Obama Promises Conscience Protection

Meets With Representatives of Catholic Press

WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 2, 2009 (Zenit.org).- In a meeting with representatives of the Catholic press today, U.S. President Barack Obama assured his intentions to protect the conscience rights of health care providers.

Legionary of Christ Father Owen Kearns, editor and publisher of the National Catholic Register, was one of the eight members of the press invited to the 41-minute meeting.

According to Father Kearns, "The most noteworthy thing during the meeting was his dispelling of what you might call the expectation of the worst regarding conscience clauses."

On National Catholic Register's Web site, the priest revealed Obama's analysis that there has been confusion regarding his intentions to legislate freedom of conscience.

Obama said: "I think that the only reason that my position may appear unclear is because it came in the wake of a last-minute, 11th-hour change in conscience clause provisions that were pushed forward by the previous administration that we chose to reverse. []

"I'm a believer in conscience clauses. I was a supporter of a robust conscience clause in Illinois for Catholic hospitals and health care providers. I discussed this with Cardinal George when he was here in the Oval Office, and I reiterated my support for an effective conscience clause in my speech at Notre Dame. []

"I can assure all of your readers that when this review is complete there will be a robust conscience clause in place. It may not meet the criteria of every possible critic of our approach, but it certainly will not be weaker than what existed before the changes were made."

In addition to Father Kearns, those attending were representatives from America, Avvenire/Vatican Radio, Catholic News Service, Catholic Digest, Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter and The Washington Post.

The meeting began with remarks from Obama and then each representative asked one question.

Visiting the Pope

The president spoke about his upcoming meeting with Benedict XVI, which he will have when he is in Italy for the Group of Eight conference.

According to the Register, the president "said that he sees his visit with the Holy See in some ways like any other government in that there will be areas of agreement and disagreement. [] He said that it would be a great honor to meet the Pope and was looking forward to talking about the Middle East, climate change and immigration."

Obama spoke twice of his relationship with the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who was the archbishop of Chicago from 1982 until his death in 1996.

Father Kearns summarized the president's words: "Cardinal Bernardin was pro-life and never hesitated to make his views known, but he had a consistent 'seamless garment' approach that emphasized the other issues, as well. The president said that that part of the Catholic tradition continues to inspire him. Those issues, he said, seemed to have gotten buried by the abortion debate."

Common ground?

Paul Baumann of Commonweal Magazine asked the president about the forthcoming report on efforts to seek common ground on abortion, asking him what he hopes from the group.

"I've never been under the illusion that there are going to be that we were going to simply talk all our differences away on these issues," said the president. "[] I can tell you, though, that on the idea of helping young people make smart choices so that they are not engaging in casual sexual activity that can lead to unwanted pregnancies, on the importance of adoption as an option, an alternative to abortion, on caring for pregnant women so that it is easier for them to support children, those are immediately three areas where I would be surprised if we don't have some pretty significant areas of agreement."

Obama expressed his personal view that "good sex and moral education" needs to be combined with contraception to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

"I recognize that contradicts Catholic Church doctrine, so I would not expect someone who feels very strongly about this issue as a matter of religious faith to be able to agree with me on that, but that's my personal view," he added. "We may not be able to arrive at perfectly compatible language on that front."

"I would be surprised if those who believe abortion should be legal would object to language that says we should try to reduce the circumstances in which women feel compelled to obtain an abortion. If they took that position, I would disagree with them. I don't know any circumstances in which abortion is a happy circumstance or decision, and to the extent that we can help women avoid being confronted with a circumstance in which that's even a consideration, I think that's a good thing."



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