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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

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 28 through 30, 2010

Dr. Krauthammer

It's better to be paralyzed from the neck down, than to be paralyzed from the neck up...


 Dr. Krauthammer is on Fox News. He is an M.D. and a lawyer and is paralyzed from the neck down.  A friend went to hear Charles Krauthammer.  He listened with 25 others in a closed room.  What he says here, is NOT 2nd-hand but 1st.  The ramifications are staggering for us, our children and their children. 

Last Monday was a profound evening, Dr. Charles Krauthammer spoke to the Center for the American Experiment.  He is a brilliant intellectual, seasoned & articulate.  He is forthright and careful in his analysis, and never resorts to emotions or personal insults.  He is NOT a fear monger nor an extremist in his comments and views.  He is a fiscal conservative, and has received a Pulitzer Prize for writing.  He is a frequent contributor to Fox News and writes weekly for the Washington Post.

The entire room was held spellbound during his talk.  I have summarized his comments, as we are living in uncharted waters economically and internationally.

Even 2 Dems at my table agreed with everything he said!  If you feel like forwarding this to those who are open minded and have not drunk the Kool-Aid, feel free. 
                
       Summary of his comments:

 1. Mr. Obama is a very intellectual, charming individual.  He is not to be underestimated.  He is a cool customer who doesn't show his emotions.  It's very hard to know what's behind the mask.  The taking down of the Clinton dynasty was an amazing accomplishment.  The Clintons still do not understand what hit them.  Obama was in the perfect place at the perfect time. 

2.  Obama has political skills comparable to Reagan and Clinton.  He has a way of making you think he's on your side, agreeing with your position, while doing the opposite. Pay no attention to what he SAYS; rather, watch what he DOES! 

3.  Obama has a ruthless quest for power.  He did not come to Washington to make something out of himself, but rather to change everything, including dismantling capitalism.  He can't be straightforward on his ambitions, as the public would not go along.

He has a heavy hand, and wants to level the playing field with income redistribution and punishment to the achievers of society.  He would like to model the USA to Great Britain or Canada . 

4. His three main goals are to control ENERGY, PUBLIC EDUCATION, and NATIONAL HEALTHCARE by the Federal government.  He doesn't care about the auto or financial services industries, but got them as an early bonus.  The cap and trade will add costs to everything and stifle growth.  Paying for FREE college education is his goal.  Most scary is his healthcare program, because if you make it FREE and add 46,000,000 people to a Medicare-type single-payer system, the costs will go through the roof.  The only way to control costs is with massive RATIONING of services, like in Canada .  God forbid! 

5. He has surrounded himself with mostly far-left academic types.  No one around him has ever even run a candy store.  But they are going to try and run the auto, financial, banking and other industries.  This obviously can't work in the long run.  Obama is not a socialist; rather he's a far-left secular progressive bent on nothing short of revolution. He ran as a moderate, but will govern from the hard left.  Again, watch what he does, not what he says.

6. Obama doesn't really see himself as President of the United States , but more as a ruler over the world.  He sees himself above it all, trying to orchestrate & coordinate various countries and their agendas.  He sees moral equivalency in all cultures.  His apology tour in Germany and England was a prime example of how he sees America , as an imperialist nation that has been arrogant, rather than a great noble nation that has at times made errors.  This is the first President ever who has chastised our allies and appeased our enemies!

7. He is now handing out goodies.  He hopes that the bill (and pain) will not come due until after he is reelected in 2012.  He would like to blame all problems on Bush from the past, and hopefully his successor in the future.  He has a huge ego, and Dr. Krauthammer believes he is a narcissist.

8. Republicans are in the wilderness for a while, but will emerge strong.  Republicans are pining for another Reagan, but there will never be another like him.  Krauthammer believes Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty & Bobby Jindahl (except for his terrible speech in February) are the future of the party.  Newt Gingrich is brilliant, but has baggage..  Sarah Palin is sincere and intelligent, but needs to really be seriously boning up on facts and info if she is to be a serious candidate in the future..  We need to return to the party of lower taxes, smaller government, personal responsibility, strong national defense, and state's rights.

9. The current level of spending is irresponsible and outrageous.  We are spending trillions that we don't have.  This could lead to hyperinflation, depression or worse.  No country has ever spent themselves into prosperity.  The media is giving Obama, Reid and Pelosi a pass because they love their agenda.  But eventually the bill will come due and people will realize the huge bailouts didn't work, nor will the stimulus package.  These were trillion-dollar payoffs to Obama's allies, unions and the Congress to placate the left, so he can get support for #4 above.

10. The election was over in mid-September when Lehman brothers failed, fear and panic swept in, we had an unpopular President, and the war was grinding on indefinitely without a clear outcome.  The people are in pain, and the mantra of change caused people to act emotionally.  Any Dem would have won this election; it was surprising it was as close as it was.

11. In 2012, if the unemployment rate is over 10%, Republicans will be swept back into power.  If it's under 8%, the Dems continue to roll. If it's between 8-10%, it will be a dogfight.  It will all be about the economy.  I hope this gets you really thinking about what's happening in Washington and Congress.  There is a left-wing revolution going on, according to Krauthammer, and he encourages us to keep the faith and join the loyal resistance.  The work will be hard, but we're right on most issues and can reclaim our country, before it's far too late.


SUNDAY, June 27, 2010

From time to time, the best that i can do is to refer the reader to important articles addressing vital issues.  This is one of those times.  The articles all appear in the NYTimes Sunday, June 27, 2010.
In each case, the truth is being distorted and blocked by the same type of "dissembling miscreants" who kept the public confused for decades while millions of smokers inhaled to their deaths.  But this time, given the wealth and availability of verifiable information on the Web and through other media, it will rightly be said of us...by our children and grandchildren...that "we knew or should have known".  Is that the legacy we want to be remembered by?

GS


SATURDAY, June 26, 2010

There is only one way in which the vast majority of peaceful and tolerant Muslims - followers of a reportedly peaceful and tolerant Religion of Islam - can avoid the takeover of their Religion by crazies and a consequent world war with all the other Religions of the world: by purging their own house of this scourge.  What is needed is either an implosion...or a world explosion.

GS

>
>             'YOU WORRY ME! ' By Qantas Airlines Pilot - Captain John Maniscalco
>
>             I've been trying to say this since 911 in New York, but you worry me.
>
>             I wish you didn't. I wish when I walked down the streets of this country that I love, that your colour and culture still blended with the beautiful human landscape we enjoy in this country. But you don't blend in anymore. I notice you, and it worries me. I notice you because I can't help it anymore.
>
>             People from your homelands, professing to be Muslims, have been attacking and killing my fellow citizens and our friends for more than 20 years now. I don't fully understand their grievances and hate, but I know that nothing can justify the inhumanity of their attacks.
>
>             On September 11, ARAB-MUSLIMS hijacked four jetliners in the U. S.
>
>             They cut the throats of women in front of children and brutally stabbed to death others. They took control of those planes and crashed them into buildings killing thousands of proud fathers, loving sons, wise grandparents, elegant daughters, best friends, favourite coaches, fearless public servants, and children's mothers.
>
>             The Palestinians celebrated, the Iraqis were overjoyed as was most of the Muslim world. So, I notice you now. I don't want to be worried. I don't want to be consumed by the same rage and hate and prejudice that has destroyed the souls of these terrorists. But I need your help. As a rational Australian, trying to protect my country and family in an irrational and unsafe world, I must know how to tell the difference between you, and the Arab/Muslim terrorist.
>
>             How do I differentiate between the true Arab/Muslim Australians and the Arab/Muslim terrorists in our communities who are attending our schools, enjoying our parks, and living in OUR communities under the protection of OUR democratic government, while they plot the next attack that will slaughter these same good neighbours and children?
>
>             The events of September 11 in the U. S. changed the answer. It is not my responsibility to determine which of you embraces our great country, with ALL of its religions, with ALL of its different citizens, with all of its faults. It is time for every Muslim in this country to determine it for me.
>
>             I want to know, I demand to know, and I have a right to know, whether or not you love Australia. Do you pledge allegiance to our flag? Do you proudly display it in front of your house, or on your car? Do you pray in your many daily prayers that Allah will bless this nation, that He will protect and prosper it? Or do you pray that Allah with destroy it in one of your Jihad's? Are you thankful for the freedom that only this nation affords? A freedom that was paid for by the blood of hundreds of thousands of diggers who gave their lives for this country? Are you willing to preserve this freedom by also paying the ultimate sacrifice? Do you love Australia? If this is your commitment, then I need YOU to start letting ME know about it.
>
>             Your Muslim leaders in this nation should be flooding the media at this time with hard facts on your faith, and what hard actions you are taking as a community and as a religion to protect Australia. Please, no more benign overtures of regret for the death of the innocent because I worry about who you regard as innocent. No more benign overtures of condemnation for the unprovoked attacks because I worry about what is unprovoked to you. I am not interested in any more sympathy. I am ONLY interested in action. What will you do for Australia - our great country - at this time of crisis, at this time of war?
>
>             I want to see Muslims waving the AUSTRALIAN flag in the streets. I want to hear you chanting 'Allah Bless Australia' I want to see young Muslim men enlisting in the military. I want to see a commitment of money, time, and emotion to the victims of this butchering and to this nation as a whole.
>
>             The AFP has a list of over 100 people they want to talk to regarding potential terrorism. Many of these people live and socialise right now in Muslim communities. You know them. . You know where they are. Hand them over to the police, now! But I have seen little even approaching this sort of action. Instead I have seen an already closed and secretive community close even tighter. You have disappeared from the streets. You have posted armed security guards at your facilities. You have threatened lawsuits. You have screamed for protection from reprisals.
>
>             The very few Muslim representatives that HAVE appeared in the media were defensive and equivocating. They seemed more concerned with making sure that Australia proves who was responsible before taking action. They seemed more concerned with protecting their fellow Muslims from violence directed towards them in Australia and abroad than they did with supporting our country and denouncing 'leaders'
>
>             like Khadafi, Hussein, Farrakhan, and Arafat.
>
>             If the true teachings of Islam proclaim tolerance and peace and love for all people, then I want chapter and verse from the Koran and statements from popular Muslim leaders to back it up. What good is it if the teachings in the Koran are good, and pure, and true, when your 'leaders' are teaching fanatical interpretations, terrorism, and intolerance? It matters little how good Islam SHOULD BE if huge numbers of the world's Muslims interpret the teachings of Mohammed incorrectly and adhere to a degenerative form of the religion. A form that has been demonstrated to us over and over again. A form whose structure is built upon a foundation of violence, death, and suicide.
>
>             A form whose members are recruited from the prisons around the world.
>
>             A form whose members (some as young as five years old) are seen day after day, week in and week out, year after year, marching in the streets around the world, burning effigies of our leaders, burning the Australian/American /British flags, shooting weapons into the air. A form whose members convert from a peaceful religion, only to take up arms against Australia, the USA, United Kingdom, - countries of their birth. A form whose rules are so twisted, that their travelling members refuse to show their faces at airport security checkpoints, in the name of Islam.
>
>             We will NEVER allow the attacks of Bali, September 11, or any others for that matter, to take away that which is so precious to us: Our democratic rights, freedoms, and fun loving way of life. I want to know where every Muslim in this country stands and I think it is my right and the right of every true citizen of this country to demand it. A right paid for by the blood of thousands of my brothers and sisters who died protecting the very system of government that is protecting you and your family.
>
>             I am pleading with you to let me know. I want you here as my brother, my neighbour, my friend, as a fellow Australian. But there can be no grey areas or ambivalence regarding your allegiance, and it is up to YOU, to show ME, where YOU stand. Until then. 'YOU WORRY ME! '
>
>             I totally agree with this sentiment. I hope you will forget all about the 'political correctness' mandate we've had rammed down our throats, and see if this doesn't ring true in your heart and mind. For Australia, with all the multiculturism we've been told is so important. ... .. . why should we not, as Australians, expect that the thousands of new people immigrating to our country will show their love for our country, their allegiance to our country, their willingness to obey the laws of our country, and acceptance that we are a Christian country? Just because they are able to enjoy exercising their own religion, they should not expect us to be ashamed of ours. They knew Australia was a Christian country when they came here. Why are we erasing Christianity because immigrants who are unwilling to adopt our way of life expect us to? There is just too much insanity in the world, and we have to start taking a stand.
>


FRIDAY, June 25, 2010

I agree.  I'm a firm believer in Occam's Razor, and this may have been McChrystal's way of helping the situation from his perspective as efficiently as possible.
 
It is doubtful that he had no idea what he was getting into with this story.  The degree of politicking required to reach his rank precludes simple stupidity, in my opinion.  But, there is always the possibility that he didn't realize that his words would be taken out of context or sensationalized for effect.  In fact, from what I heard, the writer of the story was supposed to be on the assignment for only a few days, but was stuck with McChrystal and his staff for much longer because of the interruption of air traffic from the Iceland volcano.  And, for those who haven't read it, Rolling Stone is not the most even-handed, politically-neutral publication.
 
Regarding Obama's reaction, knowing the behavior of the likes of Rahm Emanuel (a la BP and the Gulf), I'd put money on the notion that Obama was advised that if he didn't fire McChrystal he would risk being seen as weak.  But, since the Taliban and everyone else who despises America reads our mail just by turning on the TV or their computer, this will go down as nothing more than self-serving for Obama.
 
A strong reprimand would have accomplished everything for all parties here: the President, the leadership of the Armed Forces, and most importantly, the American people.  But, in the continued atmosphere of narcissism that pervades the behavior of politicians of both parties in recent decades, the mandate of every President to put the needs of the American people first has again been soundly ignored.
 
Great job, Mr. President!
 
P-


WEDNESDAY through THURSDAY, June 16 through 24, 2010

ON GENERAL MC CHRYSTAL, THE WAR...AND WARS.

This is a tough one.  Should the General have been relieved of duty?  Plenty of opinions on both side of the issue. 
But I have heard no one address the question: Why did he do it or allow it to happen? Was it merely stupidity, hubris, lack of experience with the ways of journalists...this in a man with decades of life and military experience? 
Not likely. 
Could it be that, in a situation where "civilian control of the military" was producing a no-win killing field in which his men and women were simply targets for the Taliban, he had to devise a means of getting this information out to to the American public?  This is difficult to do while adhering to the almighty "chain of command" that controls the military.  Of course, he could simply have resigned and then expressed his opinion publicly.  That approach would not have produced nearly as much attention as has this sequence of events.  I believe that the General decided to send his message as loudly as he could. 
And the message: this war in Afghanistan is being handled as badly as was the war in Iraq by that idiot Rumsfeld and his lacky, General Tommy Whatshisname.  The similarity is that too many Americans are being killed and maimed unnecessarily.  The difference is that in Iraq the chain of command operated well to submerge contrary opinion from the military. 
Another similarity.  In both Iraq and in Afghanistan, tribal loyalties and hostilities trump everything else.  Thus, to "win the hearts and minds" of the people, you must first get their attention by grabbing their b****.  In Afghanistan, as I have said earlier in this section, we should first have totally destroyed their poppy crop - with the guarantee of replacement with a legitimate cash crop.  That would have focused their "hearts and minds" while eliminating the Taliban's main source of funding. 
And what about President Obama?  Did he have no other recourse than to fire the General?  I believe that he could have given General Mc Chrystal a public dressing down while acknowledging the problems the General was addressing.  And he could have made a course correction while sending the General back to lead his troops. 
But no.  This was about two things: 1) Obama thumping his chest, and 2) adhering to the rigid "chain of command" doctrine that keeps proving Erma Bombeck's observation: "In an organization, as in a cesspool, the really big pieces float to the top". 
This was never about civilian control of the military, which was never in question or at risk. 
So, Mr. President, let's have your answer to the question ignored at your Tarzan press conference: "Can this war be won?"

GS


MONDAY and TUESDAY, June 14 and 15, 2010

New School Prayer

WRITTEN BY A 15 yr. Old SCHOOL KID IN  ARIZONA

New Pledge of Allegiance

Since the Pledge of Allegiance 
and The Lord's Prayer 
Are not allowed in most 
Public schools anymore 
Because the word 'God' is mentioned..... 
A kid in Arizona wrote the attached:

NEW School prayer: 
 
Now I sit me down in school 
Where praying is against the rule 
For this great nation under God 
Finds mention of Him very odd. 

If Scripture now the class recites, 
It violates the Bill of Rights. 
And anytime my head I bow 
Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green, 
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene..
The law is specific, the law is precise. 
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice. 

For praying in a public hall 
Might offend someone with no faith at all.. 
In silence alone we must meditate, 
God's name is prohibited by the state. 

We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks, 
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks... 
They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible. 
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen, 
And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King. 
It's 'inappropriate' to teach right from wrong, 
We're taught that such 'judgments' do not belong... 

We can get our condoms and birth controls, 
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.. 
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed, 
No word of God must reach this crowd. 

It's scary here I must confess, 
When chaos reigns the school's a mess. 
So, Lord, this silent plea I make: 
Should I be shot; My soul please take! 
Amen


SUNDAY, June 13, 2010

Time for another episode of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 OPINIONS. 
First, the executive summary: What the Hell is going on??
And so, in Foreign Policy (or whatever it is) President Obama's administration is nearly a total failure.  (See the recent article by Charles Krauthammer in The Day - theday.com - Saturday June 12, pA7)

In Domestic Policy, more of the same.
And so, in Domestic Policy, the Obama Administration is nearly a total failure.  (See the recent article by Ben Davol in The Day Sunday June 13, pE3).

In American Society at this time, we have a coarsening, a weakening and a dumbing down...all at the same time, and with no useful input from the Bully Pulpit. 
And with all of this evidence of a rapidly developing failed Presidency...and failed Federal Legislature...we still have a lot of people who just don't get it and who want unconstitutional legislation under the guise of "campaign reform" to solve our problem. 
Well folks, only you can solve the problem at the ballot box, election after election and vote after informed vote: 1) VOTE ALL INCUMBENTS OUT OF OFFICE AT THE NEXT TWO ELECTIONS, WITHOUT EXCEPTION; AND 2) KEEP VOTING THEM OUT OF OFFICE AFTER TWO CONSECUTIVE TERMS - EFFECTIVE "TERM LIMITS". 
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

GS


SATURDAY, June 12, 2010

SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS OF L&M SEMINAR, JUNE 11,12, 2010

N.B. Speakers’ comments in normal font.

GS comments in larger font. 

A)    HEALTH CARE REFORM AND THE QUALITY IMPERATIVE,  by Maulik Joshi, PhD.

·        “Physicians get it right 54% of the time”.  (Certainly not my experience).

·        Our transactional payment system is unsustainable.

·        We all need more information.

·        People generally don’t use the information.  But they are becoming more independent.

·        The challenge for hospitals is a + profit margin vs. a – profit margin.  The key is Operations.

·        Connecticut is high cost and high mortality.  (?)

·        What is sought is more integrated care, more “at risk”, and more accountability; more systems analysis, more transparency, increased integration and coordination. 

·        “You can’t improve what you don’t measure”.

This is a management systems analysis.

What we also need is a physician (“provider”) systems analysis.

This always begins with the diagnosis.  Then should come practice parameters, including both clinical experience and more formal studies to arrive at “evidence based practice”.  Then there should be a system of prioritization, dealing with needs and not with “wants”.  This should all be properly documented.  All medical care should be coordinated, by any willing participant and not only by “medical home”.  Clinical results should be tracked as to outcome.  Patients and family should be involved at all stages, incorporating self-determination but not replacing physician judgment as long as the physician is on the case.  And patient personal responsibility for his or her own care should be stressed and required. 

Finally, medical mal-practice reform is critical to reducing and eliminating “defensive medicine”, which may account for up to 30% of health care costs. 

B)    HEALTH  REFORM: NOW WHAT?  By Ian Morrison, PhD. 

·        The quest for Value for all Americans.

·        Change.  Higher Performance.  Value.

·        “The Second Curve” is upon us, with the decline of the First Curve of health care delivery that has been our standard to date.

·        Cost, Quality, Access

·        Our health care system is at a crossroads, everywhere. 

·        The U.S. spends 2X more per capita than any other country…without the results.

·        Economists consider health care as a “superior good”.  But we are spending too much of GDP on it.

·        U.S. has more high tech, high intervention than any other country.  Why?

·        Why the big difference?  1) “The fallacy of “excellence”…it takes a system for proper health care; 2) We have the most bureaucratic system in the world, both public and private, with more coming…; 3) We love “new “ technology; 4) 30% of health care costs are provided in the last few months of life of Medicare patients – for others it is 10-15%; 4) Deferred and delayed medical care by patients; 5) Primary vs Specialty Care: we have 40%- 60% …other nations have the reverse – we need more emphasis on primary care

·        Is this fixable?  A problem of Policy, Management, and payment system change. 

I emphasized the matter of “defensive medicine”.  I challenged the assertions  regarding “quality of care” being provided – certainly not the experience of most doctors.  I emphasized something that is never mentioned: patient responsibility for their health.  I challenged the assertion that there is “little science” behind what we do: there is a mass of clinical experience, equally of value as are formal studies – but often given little credence in academia regarding “evidence based Medicine”. 

There followed a general review of the Health Care Reform Act, with emphasis on reforming the delivery system and on documenting Quality at lower cost.  Meanwhile the “rich”, physicians and China will pay the massive bill, or so Washington hopes.  If not, Medicare and Medicaid might bankrupt the country (not Social Security). 

I emphasized the fact that the hospital and the physicians are in the same seriously leaking boat, and that both must bail together.  And I draw a personal line at any effort to make physicians guarantors of their patients’ health…whether through capitation or through “bundling payments” or through emphasis on “value parameters” that only the patient has ultimate control over.  I will not “…relax and enjoy it”.  I will rather fight than switch.           

George A. Sprecace, M.D., J.D.            June 12, 2010


FRIDAY, June 11, 2010

These two most recent offerings under this on-going collection should be the last word on the subjects of Clergy Sex Abuse and of Priestly Celibacy.  But, of course, they won't. Barring new revelations, further demands on the Pope to "confess" should be seen as self-serving and anti-Catholic Church. And regarding Priestly Celibacy, Cardinal Bertone strikes a responsive cord in this commentary. Priestly celibacy is indeed voluntary: a man can become a Catholic Priest...or not. But this should be considered a Vow which - if he breaks - should result at least in removal from the Priesthood and possibly in excommunication.

GS

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

Priestly Meeting Shows Beauty of Celibacy
Cardinal Bertone Addresses Priests From 70 Countries

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- There is a beautiful aspect of celibacy that underlines a priest's dedication to serve each and every person as a brother or sister in Christ, says Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The cardinal spoke about the priesthood and celibacy this afternoon at the "Priests Today" conference, held at Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. The Congregation for Clergy sponsored the three-hour event, in cooperation with the Focolare Movement, the Schoenstatt Movement and the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
 
Priests "are essentially brothers among brothers, in whom they recognize the face of Christ. Brothers of every person, of men and women, whom they must love and serve with total selflessness, without any attachment, without seeking their own interest," explained Cardinal Bertone.
 
"Thus is understood the present importance and beauty of celibacy. And in you this beauty radiates that unconditional love which has always been extremely valued by the Church, as sign and stimulus of charity and as special source of fruitfulness in the world," he added.
 
The Church and humanity, the cardinal stated, "are in need of priests of this mettle, of authentic 'prophets of a new world,' that world that began with the coming of Christ, which is in continuous becoming, in continuous formation."
 
"At this time," Cardinal Bertone lamented, "we have had to bear the sorrow of infidelity, on occasions grave, of some members of the clergy, who have had an extremely negative influence on the credibility of the Church."
 
For this reason, he recalled, when Benedict XVI spoke with journalists on the flight to Portugal, he referred to "a 'persecution' that is born within the Church herself."
 
"From this sorrow arises a providential awareness," added cardinal Bertone quoting Benedict XVI's Pastoral Letter to Catholics of Ireland. "It is necessary to live 'a period of rebirth and spiritual renewal,' to follow 'with courage the path of conversion, purification and reconciliation,' 'to find new ways to transmit to young people the beauty and richness of friendship with Jesus Christ in the communion of his Church.'"

Thousands of priests from 70 countries took part in the half-day event that marked the beginning of the closing ceremonies of the Year for Priests, which ends Friday.


WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, June 9 and 10, 2010

More on the most important topics of recent weeks, but this time from Charles Krauthammer, always directly on point. 
Both articles are well worth your time.     GS


TUESDAY, June 8, 2010

Dad, good stuff, as always, but I have to disagree with you on a couple of really big points.
 
I think labeling West Bank settlements "illegal" is the same as seeking "justice" and "prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law" people who blow up car bombs outside embassies and fly airplanes into skyscrapers.
 
From the moment it declared its statehood in 1948 until 1967, and continuing to the present, Israel has lived under the threat of extermination from nearly all sides, the Mediterranean Sea being the only non-combatant here.  Finally, after deciding that it was most likely looking at yet another attack, Israel took matters into its own hands in June of '67 and successfully added what the military calls "defense in depth" to the wafer-thin perimeter around itself.  In spite of its alliance with the U.S., there was no guarantee that this plan would succeed because its enemies had support from the Soviet Union.  But, luckily for them, it did work out.  This garnered them additional territory part of which (nearly unheard of in that part of the world) they relinquished control of in following years.  The notable exception is the territory on which "illegal" settlements now rest.
 
To say that the West Bank is "occupied territory" is to say that every piece of land that has ever been fought over is "occupied territory".  Israel obviously agreed to its borders when its sovereignty was established in 1948, which, if you look at a map from that time, was a pretty ballsy thing to agree to.  However, after numerous conflicts, clashes, and all-out wars in only 19 years of existence by 1967, they decided they had had enough.  They took the West Bank in battle, and they hold it in "peace".  As with any conflict around the world throughout history, you want it back, go ahead and try to take it back.  They gave up an incredibly valuable buffer zone against Egypt when they relinquished the Sinai in 1979.  Then, most recently, under the weight of purely sensational (and usually inaccurate) media coverage "documenting" "inhuman" treatment of the Gaza population, they backed out of that territory.
 
What did the Palestinians do?  They hired a gang of thugs known as Hamas to represent them and proceeded to launch (in the last few years) no less than 3,000 rockets into Israel from Gaza.  Dad, Gaza has not been under Israeli control since 2005.  The only reason why ships bound for Gaza are being stopped and searched is (as Benjamin Netanyahu and, shock of shocks, Joe Biden put it this week) because every single day Israel is under attack.  And, every single day they need to be vigilant of that fact.
 
As long as this situation exists, Israel has ZERO obligation to Palestinians in Gaza, or anywhere for that matter.  As long as this situation exists, Israel has ZERO obligation to remove settlements in the West Bank.  Are you kidding me?  What would you do if 3,000 rockets flew into the American Southwest from Mexico because they said that it was "occupied" territory from the Mexican-American War?  And, should you pack up your belongings and hand your property over to the Pequot, Mohican, and Uncas tribes because you're occupying an "illegal" settlement?  Oh yeah, I forgot; it's okay for Americans to fight for and hold their own borders, but not Israel.  Is that double-standard in effect because America has held its borders for nearly two centuries?
 
Can we allow Israel that same opportunity so they can reach their, oh I don't know, 63rd birthday? 
 
Characterizing Israel as a petulant child is like punishing your kid for upsetiing you when he's trying to tell you that he's being molested.  I'm not kidding.  And, your conspiracy theory about Israel trying to attain the Israel "of the Bible"?  I think it's more like the Israel that gets to finally breathe a collective sigh of relief because half the world (including the UN) is no longer doing anything it can, directly or indirectly, to either hamstring it in any way possible, or to wipe it off the map. 
 
George, are you listening?
 
P-


MONDAY, June 7, 2010

The two most important news developments of recent days and weeks are the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and the latest events surrounding Israel and the Palestinians. At first, I started to collect good news articles on these subjects to recommend.  But there are too many of them to cite, providing facts and analysis without becoming partisan...a welcome departure from the S.O.P.. which probably reflects the correctly perceived gravity of these issues. 

There appear to be no heroes in the Gulf story except for the workers who lost their lives on the rig and those workers they left behind - on that rig and probably on all of the other oil rigs still drilling.  For they were and are as trapped in their jobs for survival as are the coal miners of recent memory and continuing tragedy.  But there are many villains, beginning with the compromised or incompetent government regulators and extending through the many levels of business types who forever place profit over safety through omission and commission.  Some of these people should go to jail for years - that is, if our carefully crafted and politically motivated relevant laws allow for that.  Even now, they talk of months more of toxic oil escape, extending to the East Coast and perhaps even to Europe, rather than about imploding that well...which of course would lose it to future oil profits.  Our Government in action and inaction.

The Israel - Palestine issue is our Gordian Knot.  As such, it will require an Alesandrian blow to solve it.  It would be simple to declare "a pox on both their houses", for they both deserve it.  The Palestinians and their Arab and Muslim supporters are just plain crazy to think that Israel will ever disappear.  We in America will defend Israel just as we would defend any of our States...something I had an opportunity to tell the visiting Syrian Ambassador to the U.S. recently - to his evident distress.  But Israel should not be allowed to hold us hostage to that commitment...as has been the case for decades.  As with an errant child, we will never disown him...but we should punish him when circumstances warrant.  Israel should have been and should be punished for its continuing illegal settlements.  And Israel should be made to provide for the well-being of the Palestinians in Gaza who are totally under its control while providing for its own necessary self-defense.  The facts underlying the recent episode at sea are yet not clear enough to render a judgment...notwithstanding the immediate, hypocritical and politically motivated response of the Turks and of much of the world.  And then, as I have noted earlier in this section, Israel may actually be keeping the pot boiling precisely in order to hold America hostage to its goal of an Israel of the Bible.  Well, a suggestion: let's raise the ante.  The U.S. should embrace as an ultimate goal the declaration of Jerusalem as an International City, home of three major Religions and many minor ones.  Benjamin, are you listening?

GS


SUNDAY, June 6, 2010

...and he says it can be done.  GS

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ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
News Agency
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Politics Is a Noble Vocation, Says Pope
Encourages Public Service That Promotes Moral Truth

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Public service is a "noble vocation," and when it is carried out faithfully, it is a means to grow in wisdom, integrity and personal fulfillment, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today in a reflection on the role of politicians in society and their role in promoting moral truth in society, which he addressed to government officials and the diplomatic corps of Cyprus at the presidential gardens in Nicosia. The Holy Father is in Cyprus until Sunday.

"You as public servants know the importance of truth, integrity and respect in your relationships with others," the Pontiff affirmed. "Personal relationships are often the first steps toward building trust and -- in due course -- solid bonds of friendship between individuals, peoples and nations.

"This is an essential part of your role, both as politicians and diplomats. In countries with delicate political situations, such honest and open personal relationships can be the beginning of a much greater good for entire societies and peoples.

"Let me encourage all of you, present here today, to seize the opportunities afforded you, both personally and institutionally, to build these relationships and, in so doing, to foster the greater good of the concert of nations and the true good of those whom you represent."

Benedict XVI noted the importance of "moral rectitude and impartial respect for others and their well-being" in building a society as they are key elements to establishing "a climate of trust in which all human interactions, whether religious, or economic, social and cultural, or civil and political, acquire strength and substance."

He then offered three ways to promote moral truth, "acting responsibly on the basis of factual knowledge"; "deconstructing political ideologies which would supplant the truth"; "base positive law upon the ethical principles of natural law."


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, June 4 and 5, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNUc8nuo7HI


WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, June 2 and 3, 2010

"GRAND CHAMBER...OR STAR CHAMBER? 
Another example of "internationalists" run amok.  As has been my opinion from the outset of that experiment, I believe that the European Union will never achieve the integration, similar to that of our United States, which some seek.  Those States, each with thousands of years of their own individual history, language and culture, are simply an extension of the tribalism inherent in human nature since its creation - the basis of both its strengths and its troubles.  GS

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ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
News Agency
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10 European States Join Italy to Defend Crucifix
Catholic and Orthodox Join in Alliance

STRASBOURG, France, JUNE 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The "crucifix trial" in the European Court of Human Rights has given rise to an unprecedented intervention of 10 member States as third parties.


The European Centre for Law and Justice, which was also authorized to become a third party in the court hearing regarding the legitimacy of displaying crucifixes in Italian schools, reported today that ten other States will have this amicus curiae status in the "Lautsi vs. Italy" case.

This case was referred to the Grand Chamber when the Italian government appealed a decision issued by the Second Section of the court last November, which spoke against the presence of the crucifix in classrooms.

These States, all of which are supporting Italy in the desire to overturn last November's decision, include: Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, San-Marino, Romania, and The Russian Federation.

The third party status allows the States to submit to the court their written and oral observations as official parties to the case.

The court's Grand Chamber will hold a public hearing on June 30, and the final judgment on the case is expected by the end of the year.

The director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, Gregor Puppinck, stated in a communiqué today that this is "an important precedent in the practice of the court, because usually member States abstain from intervening, or intervene only when the case affects a national of their State."

"The Lautsi case is unique and unprecedented," he continued. "Ten States are in fact explaining to the court what is the limit of its jurisdiction; what is the limit of its ability to create new 'rights' against the will of the member States."

"This can be seen as a kind of counter-balancing of power," he explained.

The communiqué also noted the "tremendous importance" of the fact that this is "an unprecedented alliance between Catholics and Orthodox countries in the face of the liberal and secularist ideology."

"Those countries are uniting their forces to protect their religious heritage and freedom to reaffirm that the Christian symbols have a natural right to be displayed in public within Christian countries," it added.

The center pointed out that the court's role is to apply the European Convention on Human Rights, which says nothing about "duties to secularize education in Europe" nor about "the nature of the relationship between the State and the church."


TUESDAY, June 1, 2010

A BULLETIN...FROM ONE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S "ALLIES".    GS

Some people have the vocabulary to sum up things in a way you can understand them.  This quote came from the Czech Republic. Someone over there has it figured out. 

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency.  It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.  The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America.  Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.  The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool.  It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."

wow !!!!


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