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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


WEDNESDAY through MONDAY, October 19 through 31, 2011

Time for another edition of Around The World in 80 Opinions...aka COMMON SENSE REVISITED!

AHHHH.   THAT FELT GOOD...........GS


MONDAY and TUESDAY, October 17 and 18, 2011

That's about right.  GS

This statement is not from an American.  It is translation from a Czech Republic Newspaper, Prager Zeitung, published on April 28, 2011.  If you voted for obama, I'm not calling you an idiot the writer of the article is using the term.

QUOTE OF THE DECADE

This quote was translated into English from an article appearing in the
Czech Republic as published in the Prager Zeitung of 28 April 2011.
"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of
entrusting an inexperienced 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. It is less likely to
survive a multitude of Idiots such as those who made him their president."


WEDNESDAY through SUNDAY, October 12 through 16, 2011

The scapegoat strategy
By , Published: October 13

What do you do if you can’t run on your record — on 9 percent unemployment, stagnant growth and ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see? How to run when you are asked whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago and you are compelled to answer no?

Play the outsider. Declare yourself the underdog. Denounce Washington as if the electorate hasn’t noticed that you’ve been in charge of it for nearly three years.

But above all: Find villains.

President Obama first tried finding excuses, blaming America’s dismal condition on Japanese supply-chain interruptions, the Arab Spring, European debt and various acts of God.

Didn’t work. Sounds plaintive, defensive. Lacks fight, which is what Obama’s base lusts for above all.

Hence Obama’s new strategy: Don’t whine, blame. Attack. Indict. Accuse. Who? The rich — and their Republican protectors — for wrecking America.

In Obama’s telling, it’s the refusal of the rich to “pay their fair share” that jeopardizes Medicare. If millionaires don’t pony up, schools will crumble. Oil-drilling tax breaks are costing teachers their jobs. Corporate loopholes will gut medical research.

It’s crude. It’s Manichaean. And the left loves it. As a matter of math and logic, however, it’s ridiculous. Obama’s most coveted tax hike — an extra 3 to 4.6 percent for millionaires and billionaires (weirdly defined as individuals making more than $200,000) — would have reduced last year’s deficit (at the very most) from $1.29 trillion to $1.21 trillion. Nearly a rounding error. The oil-drilling breaks cover less than half a day’s federal spending. You could collect Obama’s favorite tax loophole — depreciation for corporate jets — for 100 years and it wouldn’t cover one month of Medicare, whose insolvency is a function of increased longevity, expensive new technology and wasteful defensive medicine caused by an insane malpractice system.

After three years, Obama’s self-proclaimed transformative social policies have yielded a desperately weak economy. What to do? Take the low road: Plutocrats are bleeding the country, and I shall rescue you from them.

Problem is, this kind of populist demagoguery is more than intellectually dishonest. It’s dangerous. Obama is opening a Pandora’s box. Popular resentment, easily stoked, is less easily controlled, especially when the basest of instincts are granted legitimacy by the nation’s leader.

Exhibit A. On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed punitive legislation over China’s currency. If not stopped by House Speaker John Boehner, it might have led to a trade war — a 21st-century Smoot-Hawley. Obama knows this. He has shown no appetite for a reckless tariff war. But he set the tone. Once you start hunting for villains, they can be found anywhere, particularly if they are conveniently foreign.

Exhibit B. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin rails against Bank of America for announcing a $5-a-month debit card fee. Obama echoes the opprobrium with fine denunciations of banks and their hidden fees — except that this $5 fee is not hidden. It’s perfectly transparent.

Yet here is a leading Democratic senator advocating a run on a major (and troubled) bank — after two presidents and two Congresses sunk billions of taxpayer dollars to save failing banks. Not because they were deserving or virtuous but because they are necessary. Without banks, there is no lending. Without lending, there is no business. Without business, there are no jobs.

Exhibit C. To the villainy-of-the-rich theme emanating from Washington, a child is born: Occupy Wall Street. Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters denounce corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over.

These indignant indolents saddled with their $50,000 student loans and English degrees have decided that their lack of gainful employment is rooted in the malice of the millionaires on whose homes they are now marching — to the applause of Democrats suffering acute Tea Party envy and now salivating at the energy these big-government anarchists will presumably give their cause.

Except that the real Tea Party actually had a program — less government, less regulation, less taxation, less debt. What’s the Occupy Wall Street program? Eat the rich.

And then what? Haven’t gotten that far.

No postprandial plans. But no matter. After all, this is not about programs or policies. This is about scapegoating, a failed administration trying to save itself by blaming our troubles — and its failures — on class enemies, turning general discontent into rage against a malign few.

From the Senate to the streets, it’s working. Obama is too intelligent not to know what he started. But so long as it gives him a shot at reelection, he shows no sign of caring.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com


TUESDAY, October 11, 2011

Demography Is Destiny

GS

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

Low Fertility and Low Economic Growth
The Importance of Marriage and the Family

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, OCT. 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Fewer children and diminishing numbers of married couples will have a significant impact on economic growth and the ability of governments to finance welfare programs.

This is the warning contained in a report just published, “The Sustainable Demographic Dividend: What Do Marriage & Fertility Have To Do With the Economy?” It was released by the Social Trends Institute and co-sponsored by a number of family groups and universities.

The Social Trends Institute is a non-profit research group, based in Barcelona, Spain, and New York City, that concentrates on on four subject areas: Family, bioethics, culture and lifestyles, and corporate governance.

The long-term fortune of economies will rise or fall depending on what happens with families, according to the report. There are two main trends that are a cause for concern, First, dependent elderly populations are sharply increasing at the same time productive working-age populations stagnate or even decline in many developed countries.

Second, there is a major decline in the number of children being raised in intact, married families.

The term demographic dividend in the report’s title was used by some economists to describe the boost to economic growth experienced in a number of Asian countries where population growth was sharply reduced. This freed up resources that were used to stimulate economic growth.

This dividend is really more of a loan, and one which has to be repaid. The economic stagnation that Japan has experienced in recent years is in part due to the low fertility that it has had since the 1970s, according to the report.

There’s a warning in that for China, the authors noted, which itself saw the fertility rate fall below replacement level in the 1990s. China will very likely see a reduction in its economic growth in coming decades as its workforce shrinks.

Replacement

In more than 75 countries the fertility rate is now below the replacement level - 2.1 children per woman - that is needed to maintain a steady level of population.

The average woman in a developed country now bears just 1.66 children over her lifetime, the report noted. Already the number of children age 0–14 is 60.6 million less in the developed world today than it was in 1965.

Low fertility is also a reality in many less developed countries the report pointed out. The number of births per woman was slashed in a single generation from six or more to less than two in countries such as Iran, Lebanon, Chile, Cuba, Thailand, China, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Overall the global population is still rising and United Nations projections estimate that the total number could reach up to 10 billion from the current 7 billion.

But, the report clarified, this will be a very different type of population growth than we have had in the past. Up until very recently numbers grew due to the increase in young people.

In the coming decades, however, the U.N. projections calculate that 53% of population growth will come from due to the greater number of people over 60. Only 7% will be due to having more people under 30.

Between 1990 and 2010 the number of those in the age range of 15–64 grew by 1.3 billion. Because of falling fertility the population of those in this working-age range is only forecast to increase by about 900 million between 2010 and 2030. In many European and East Asian countries the working-age population will, in fact, decline.

In Western Europe, for example, during the next two decades there will be a decline of 4% in the 15-64 year age group, and that is assuming that there will be 20 million new immigrants. At the same time the population over 65 is set to swell by 40%.

Already a number of Western European governments have been forced to cut welfare programs and raise the age at which people are eligible for pensions, due to the financial pressure of financing the welfare state. Meanwhile, in the United States, starting in 2010 Social Security began to pay out more to the retired than it received from those in employment.

Quality

Economies will suffer not only due to fewer workers but also because of lower quality. Marriage is on the downturn in many countries around the world. A combination of divorce, cohabitation and single parents means that large numbers of children are raised outside of intact married families.

This is particularly the case in many European countries and in the Americas. In these countries 40% or more of children are born without their parents being married.

Many of these births are to cohabitating couples, which are much more unstable than marriages. The report looked at the case of Sweden, which has 55% of children born outside of marriage. In spite of the broad social acceptance of cohabitation and the legal and financial support these couples receive, such families are much less stable than married couples.

A recent study found that children born to cohabiting couples were 75% more likely than children born to married couples to see their parents break up by age 15.

As a result Swedish children living in single-parent families are at least 50% more likely to suffer from psychological problems, to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, to attempt suicide, or to commit suicide than children in two-parent families.

As well, research shows that children growing up in unstable families are much less likely to succeed in their studies and obtain good jobs. It is also documented that men who marry and remain married work harder and earn more. This happens in a variety of cultures and nations, ranging from Israel to Italy, Mexico and the United States.

According to the report, “countries that enjoy a comparatively strong marriage culture— such as China, India, and Malaysia - are likely to reap long-term economic dividends.” Many countries, however, are not in that fortunate position.

Proposals

The report wasn’t all doom and gloom. There are a number of ways in which families can be supported and it made a number of recommendations.

-- More support for family farms and businesses, which will ensure greater financial stability for families.

-- Help young adults obtain secure permanent employment, instead of casual or contract work. Secure careers will enable them to start a family and have children.

-- Provide affordable housing. High cost housing is associated with low fertility around the world.

-- More flexible employment practices that will enable women who prefer to balance family responsibilities with a career to do so without having to either drop out of the workforce or be full time.

-- Governments should support marriage and educate people about the advantages of marriage and the deficiencies of single parenthood.

-- Encourage saving by young adults and also give greater financial support to couples with children.

-- Contemporary culture is anti-family and promotes promiscuity and moral corruption, an effort needs to be made to clean up popular culture.

-- Governments should respect the positive contribution made by religion to family life.

Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke out about the importance of marriage. Addressing a group of engaged couples during a visit to the Italian town of Ancona he encouraged them to overcome the cultural challenges to marital fidelity.

“The stability of your union in the sacrament of matrimony will enable the children that God wishes to give you to grow confident in the goodness of life,” the pope said.

“Fidelity, indissolubility and transmission of life are the pillars of every family, a true common good, a precious patrimony for the whole society,” he added. Good advice not only religious, but also economic.


MONDAY, October 10, 2011

The following was written by a French soldier in Afghanistan (and translated into English) to the folks back home in France commenting on the quality of the American soldier.   Awesome!

>> "We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while -
>> they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry
>> battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military
>> secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we
>> live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we
>> have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US
>> Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing
>> "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events". Who are they,
>> those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what
>> support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them
>> belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on.
>> This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.
 
>> They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view
>> the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I
>> have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious
>> minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word?
>> Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even
>> admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.
 
>> Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and
>> creatine (Heh. More like Waffle House and McDonalds) - they are all
>> heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of
>> Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even
>> the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.
 
>> Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are
>> taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the
>> loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley.
>> Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American
>> flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the
>> post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of
>> American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than
>> to hold high and proud the star spangled banner.
 
>> Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who
>> provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in
>> such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums,
>> razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is
>> aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult
>> mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the
>> American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat
>> team are the focus of all his attention.
 
>> And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones,
>> as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French
>> people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all
>> of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how.
>> Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort
>> them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long
>> hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the
>> slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter
>> wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and
>> night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions
>> of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues
>> nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark -
>> only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional
>> presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights
>> are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks
>> with the Japy pump.
 
>> And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always
>> coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and
>> always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they
>> switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes.
>> Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and
>> disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in
>> stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.
 
>> This is the main area where I'd like to comment.  Anyone with a
>> passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan:
>>"If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white/remember it's ruin
>> to run from a fight./So take open order, lie down, sit tight/And
>> wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic
>> philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. 'In the absence
>> of orders, take a defensive position."  Indeed, virtually every army
>> in the world.  The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued
>> from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of
>> Orders:  Attack!  Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for
>> precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other
>> 'incident', the American force will simply go, counting on firepower
>> and SOP to carry the day.

>> This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat
>> and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits
>> and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly
>> surprising. No wonder it surprises the hell out of our enemies.)
 
>> We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores
>> are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A
>> passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to
>> check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush
>> to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is -
>> from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a
>> beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.
 
>> To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat
>> outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to
>> those who pay the daily tribute of America's army's deployment on
>> Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that
>> we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing
>> them say that we are all the same band of brothers".
 
>> Much of this the various veterans reading will go 'Well, duh. Of
>> course we do our 'camp chores' and stand our posts in good order.
>> There's a reason for them and if we didn't we'd get our heads handed
>> to us eventually. And, yeah, we're in shape. Makes battle easier. The
>> more you sweat, the less you bleed.'
 
>> What is hard for most people to comprehend is that that attitude
>> represented only the most elite units of the past. Current everyday
>> conventional boring 'leg infantry' units exceed the PT levels and
>> training levels of most Special Forces during the Vietnam War. They
>> exceed both of those as well as IQ and educational levels of: Waffen
>> SS, WWII Rangers, WWII Airborne and British 'Commando' units during
>> WWII. Their per-unit combat-functionality is essentially unmeasurable
>> because it has to be compared to something and there's nothing comparable
>> in industrial period combat history.
 
>> This group is so much better than 'The Greatest Generation' at war
>> that WWII vets who really get a close look at how good these kids
>> are stand in absolute awe.
>> So much of 'The scum of the earth, enlisted for drink.'
>> Everyone complains about the quality of 'the new guys.'  Don't.
>> The screw-ups of this modern generation are head and shoulders above the
>> 'high-medium' of any past group.  Including mine.
 
>> This is 'The Greatest Generation' of soldiers.
>> They may never be equalled.


SATURDAY and SUNDAY, October 8 and 9, 2011

After many months on the side-lines, I have been drawn into local theaters by the caliber of actors thrown together in some recent offerings.  The results: spotty.

So, there you have it.

GS


SATURDAY through FRIDAY, October 7, 2011

"THERE'S TROUBLE IN RIVER CITY"...and it's nothing to sing about.  This maritime nation is heading for dangerous shoals, and we may not survive the current pitched battle for the helm.

President Obama turns out to have over-promised and grossly under-performed.  Like a shifty lawyer, he is following a lawyer's maxim: "If the Law is with you, argue the Law.  If the Facts are with you, argue the Facts.  If neither the Law not the Facts are with you...yell and scream."  Having failed under both the Law and the Facts that have long sustained this nation, he is in his "yell and scream" mode, having abandoned Washington to campaign around the country for the next 13 months...as a Divider and not as a Uniter.
The trouble is that this Ship of State is being driven by high winds and a heavy sea onto the rocks.  We cannot survive another 13 months of what we see around us today: grid-locked leadership, unstructured rage and structured anarchy in the streets, and fear in the heartland.  Meanwhile, the world around us, friend and foe alike, see this country as a wounded lion and are beginning to circle for a piece of the carcass. 

This nation was conceived and developed with gunpowder and hope.  There is plenty of gunpowder out there...but diminishing hope.  That is dangerous.  What we need now is an alternative to the articulate, arrogant and asinine Democratic playbook.  And that alternative cannot be the same ol', same ol' tripe coming from reactionary Republicans.  The alternative must come from thoughtful Republicans and from concerned Independents...and it must come NOW. 

If you haven't noticed, there is a leader out there who is providing the necessary ideas and experience, and could provide true leadership.  That person is Newt Gingrich, one of the most successful Speakers of the House of Representatives in many years.  But don't take my word for it.  Visit his web-site (www.newt.org) for a comprehensive vision and battle plan...an offering vastly better than much of the stuff being offered by the other Republican hopefuls. 

WAKE UP, AMERICA.  We're headed for the rocks...and the lighthouse is currently disabled.

GS



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