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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


SATURDAY, December 31, 2011

UNBELIEVABLE...AND TRUE IN ALL RESPECTS.

GS

I  got shot down over N Vietnam in 1967, a Sqdn. Commander.    
After I returned in 1973....I published 2 books that dealt a lot  
With "real torture" in Hanoi .  Our make-believe president  is
Branding our country as a bunch of torturers when he has  
No idea what torture is.
 
As for me, I was put thru  a mock execution because I would not respond...
Pistol whipped  on the head....same event..  Couple of days later...
Hung  by my feet all day. I escaped and a couple of weeks later, I got  
Shot and recaptured.  Shot was OK...what happened  afterwards was not.
 
They marched me to Vinh...put me  in the rope trick, trick...almost
Pulled my arms out of the  sockets. Beat me on the head with a
Little wooden rod until my  eyes were swelled shut, and my unshot,
Unbroken hand a pulp.  
 
Next day hung me by the arms....rebroke my right  wrist...wiped
Out the nerves in my arms that control the  hands....rolled my fingers
Up into a ball.  Only left the  slightest movement of my L forefinger.  
So I started  answering with some incredible lies.
 
Sent me to Hanoi  strapped to a barrel of gas in the back of a truck.  
 
Hanoi ..on my knees....rope trick again.  Beaten  by a big fool.  
 
Into leg irons on a bed in  Heartbreak Hotel.
 
Much kneeling--hands up at Zoo.  
 
Really bad beating for refusing to condemn Lyndon  Johnson.
 
Several more kneeling events.  I could  see my knee bone thru
Kneeling holes.
 
There was an  escape from the annex to the Zoo.  I was the Senior
Officer  of a large building because of escape...they started a mass  
Torture of all commanders.
 
I think it was July 7,  1969..they started beating me with a car fan belt.
In first 2  days I took over 300 strokes...then stopped counting
Because I  never thought I would live thru it.
 
They continued  day-night torture to get me to confess to a non-existent
Part in  the escape.  This went on for at least 3 days.  On my  knees...
Fan belting...cut open my scrotum with fan belt  stroke.  Opened up
Both knee holes again.  My fanny  looked like hamburger..I could not
Lie on my back.  
 
They tortured me into admitting that I was in on the  escape...and
That my 2 room-mates knew about it.  
 
The next day I denied the lie.
 
They  commenced torturing me again with 3- 6- or 9 strokes of
The fan  belt every day from about July 11 or 12th..to 14 October  
1969.  I continued to refuse to lie about my roommates  again.
 
Now, the point of this is that our make-believe  
President has declared to the world that we (U.S..) are a bunch  of
Torturers...Thus it will be OK to torture us next time when  they
Catch us...because that is what the U.S Does.  
 
Our make-believe president is a know nothing fool who  thinks
That pouring a little water on some one's face, or  hanging a pair of
women's pants over an Arabs head is  TORTURE..  He is a meathead.
 
I just talked to MOH  holder Leo Thorsness, who was also in my squadron,
In jail...as  was John McCain...and we agree that McCain does
Not speak for  the POW group when he claims that Al Gharib was
Torture...or  that "water boarding" is torture.
 
Our president and  those fools around him who keep bad mouthing
Our great country  are a disgrace to the United States .  Please pass
This  info on to Sean Hannity.  He is free to use it to point out the  
Stupidity of the claims that water boarding...which has no after  
Effect...is torture.
If it got the Arab to cough up the  story about how he planned the attack on the twin towers in NYC ...  
Hurrah for the guy who poured the water!

- "Bud" Day, Medal Of Honor Recipient
 
George Everett "  Bud " Day(born February 24, 1925) is a retired
U.S. Air Force  Colonel and Command Pilot who served during the
Vietnam War. He  is often cited as being the most decorated U.S. .    
Service member since General Douglas MacArthur, having  
Received some seventy decorations, a majority for actions
In  combat. Day is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.


FRIDAY, December 30, 2011

CAUTION:  PLEASE TAKE BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINE BEFORE READING THIS !

GS

TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

900 teachers just got laid off from the Los Angeles Unified School District ... They are $650,000 over their annual budget.
The following English teacher helps to explain one area that looms large over California 's educational crisis.

This English teacher has phrased it the best I've seen yet.

This should make everyone think, be you Democrat, Republican or Independent;
From a California school teacher - - -

"As you listen to the news about the student protests over illegal immigration, there are some things that you should be aware of: I am in charge of the English-as-a-second-language department at a large southern California high school which is designated a Title 1 school, meaning that its students average lower socioeconomic and income levels. Most of the schools you are hearing about, South Gate High, Bell Gardens , Huntington Park , etc. where these students are protesting, are also Title 1 schools.

Title 1 schools are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I'm not talking a glass of milk and roll, but a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would make a Marriott proud. The waste of this food is monumental, with trays and trays of it being dumped in the trash uneaten.
(OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK)

I estimate that well over 50% of these students are obese or at least moderately overweight. About 75% or more DO have cell phones. The school also provides day care centers for the unwed teenage pregnant girls (some as young as 13) so they can attend class without the inconvenience of having to arrange for babysitters or having family watch their kids.
(OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK)

I was ordered to spend $700,000 on my department or risk losing funding for the upcoming year even though there was little need for anything; my budget was already substantial. I ended up buying new computers for the computer learning center, half of which, one month later, have been carved with graffiti by the appreciative students who obviously feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America .
(OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK)

I have had to intervene several times for young and substitute teachers whose classes consist of many illegal immigrant students here in the country less than 3 months who raised so much hell with the female teachers, calling them "Putas" (whores ) and throwing things, that the teachers were in tears.

Free medical, free education, free food, day care, etc, etc, etc. Is it any wonder they feel entitled not only to be in this country but to demand rights, privileges and entitlements?

To those who want to point out how much these illegal immigrants contribute to our society because they LIKE their gardener and housekeeper and they like to pay less for tomatoes: spend some time in the real world of illegal immigration and see the TRUE costs.

Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education in our schools, overcrowding, new diseases etc., etc, etc. For me, I'll pay more for tomatoes.
Americans, we need to wake up. The guest worker program will be a disaster because we won't have the guts to enforce it.. Does anyone in their right mind really think they will voluntarily leave and return?

It does, however, have everything to do with culture: A third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by 15 and that refuses to assimilate, and anAmerican culture that has become so weak and worried about "political correctness" that we don't have the will to do anything about it.

If this makes your blood boil, as it did mine, forward this to everyone you know including your Congressmen and Senators.

CHEAP LABOR? Isn't that what the whole immigration issue is about?

Business doesn't want to pay a decent wage.

Consumers don't want expensive produce.

Government will tell you Americans don't want the jobs.

But the bottom line is cheap labor. The phrase "cheap labor" is a myth, a farce, and a lie. There is no such thing as "cheap labor."

Take, for example, an illegal alien with a wife and five children. He takes a job for$5.00 or 6.00/hr. At that wage, with six dependents, he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an Income Tax Return, he gets an "earned income credit" of up to $3,200 free.

He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent.

He qualifies for food stamps.

He qualifies for free (no deductible, no co-pay) health care.

His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school.

He requires bilingual teachers and books.

He qualifies for relief from high energy bills.

If they are or become, aged, blind or disabled, they qualify for SSI. Once qualified for SSI they can qualify forMedicare. All of this is at (our) taxpayer's expense.

He doesn't worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowner's insurance.

Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material.

He and his family receive the equivalent of $20.00 to $30.00/hour in benefits.

Working Americans are lucky to have $5.00 or $6.00/hour left after paying their bills AND his.

The American taxpayers also pay for increased crime, graffiti and trash clean-up.

Cheap labor? YEAH RIGHT! Wake up people!

THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS WE SHOULD BE ADDRESSING TO THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR EITHER PARTY.


THURSDAY, December 29, 2011

TO THESE STORIES, ADD THE RECENT REPORTS THAT "INSIDER TRADING" LAWS, PREVENTING COMMONERS LIKE THE REST OF US FROM TRADING SECURITIES ON THE BASIS OF INFORMATION NOT PUBLICLY AVAILABLE,  DO NOT APPLY TO MEMBERS OF THE U.S. SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES - PRECISELY THE PEOPLE WHO BY THEIR EXALTED POSITIONS HAVE ALL THE INSIDER INFORMATION. 

THIS IS INSTITUTIONALIZED FRAUD AND CORRUPTION.

WAKE UP, AMERICA.  WE NEED A U.S. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION AND SPECIFIC AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION  - AND WE NEED THIS NOW.

GS

Congress: Home of the rich and infamous?

By Paul Choiniere
Publication: theday.com
Published 12/27/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 12/27/2011 12:17 PM

A Washington Post/Bloomberg News investigation, documenting how the wealth accumulated by members of Congress has grown dramatically over the last quarter-century, is attracting a lot of attention.
 
The story claims that between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House of Representatives more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity.
 
The comparable number, also adjusted for inflation, shows the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500.
 
It appears that Congress, if not the 1 percent, is certainly the single-digit percent.
 
They are not all millionaires, however. Eastern Connecticut's 2nd District Congressman Joe Courtney is listed as having a net worth of $364,010. On the other end of the spectrum, Rep. Rosa DeLauro of the 3rd District comes in as Connecticut's richest House member with a net worth of $16.6 million.
 
Look for our take on what this means in The Day's Wednesday editorial.



Wealth gap grows between Congress and the people

Published 12/28/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 12/27/2011 04:40 PM

As if the public needed more reason to disdain Congress - its 83 percent disapproval rating is the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance - now comes a report that in the past quarter century, when the wealth of the average American family declined, the median net worth of a member of the House of Representatives more than doubled.

This disparity appears emblematic of a disconnect between citizens and elected representatives who more than ever seem to act in political self-interest rather than in the public benefit.

The report by The Washington Post Tuesday shows that between 1984 and 2009 the median net worth of a U.S. representative shot up from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity. At the same time the typical family net worth slid from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.

Analysts chose 1984 as a benchmark because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.

As the New York Times noted in a separate report on the same University of Michigan study, "Congress has never been a place for paupers. From plantation owners in the pre-Civil War era to industrialists in the early 1900s to ex-Wall Street financiers and Internet executives today, it has long been populated with the rich, including scions of families like the Guggenheims, Hearsts, Kennedys and Rockefellers."

But because so many Americans today are out of work, behind on their mortgages, and deep in debt, the contemporary contrast seems starker and the large increase in congressional wealth over the last quarter-century more alarming.

Before tarring every rich member of Congress with the same brush, it is important to note that multi-million dollar representatives embrace a broad spectrum of political belief.

For instance, the wealthiest member of the House, Republican Darrell Issa of California, with a net worth of $448,125,017, is one of the most conservative, but the sixth-richest member, Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, with a net worth of $101,123,032, is among the most liberal.

Here in Connecticut, the richest representative, Rosa L. DeLauro of the Third District, with a net worth of $16,626,008, also is one of the House's most progressive members.

Elsewhere in the state, which has an all-Democratic delegation, Jim Himes of the Fourth District is the only other member of the millionaires club, with a net worth of $4,324,025. The other representatives are of substantially lesser means: Joe Courtney, Second District, $364,010; John B. Larson, First District, $280,004 and Christopher S. Murphy, Third District, $90,503.

Though the Washington Post analysis focused on members of the House, it also listed the net worth of U.S. senators, showing that the first seven of the top 10 are liberal-minded Democrats, including the richest, John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, with $231,722,794; and the sixth wealthiest, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, $73,151,590.

Connecticut's other senator, Joe Lieberman, a longtime Democrat who now calls himself an independent, and who won't be seeking re-election next year, reports a relatively modest - by senatorial standards - net worth of $1,981,541.

This newspaper doesn't necessarily begrudge politicians for their prosperity - after all, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were among the greatest and wealthiest presidents. We also don't automatically consider less well-to-do ones, such as Ulysses S. Grant or James Buchanan, to have been working-class heroes.

But when so many of the people's representatives depend on powerful special interests to fund their campaigns; when they themselves enjoy the privileges of both extreme wealth and political power, one has to wonder how well they can really appreciate the trials and tribulations of the common working person or the struggling small businessman.



WEDNESDAY, December 28, 2011

What a story ! What a screenplay.

GS

Decades later, a Cold War secret is revealed

HELEN O'NEILL | AP

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — For more than a decade they toiled in the strange, boxy-looking building on the hill above the municipal airport, the building with no windows (except in the cafeteria), the building filled with secrets.

They wore protective white jumpsuits, and had to walk through air-shower chambers before entering the sanitized "cleanroom" where the equipment was stored.

They spoke in code.

Few knew the true identity of "the customer" they met in a smoke-filled, wood-paneled conference room where the phone lines were scrambled. When they traveled, they sometimes used false names.

At one point in the 1970s there were more than 1,000 people in the Danbury area working on The Secret. And though they worked long hours under intense deadlines, sometimes missing family holidays and anniversaries, they could tell no one — not even their wives and children — what they did.

They were engineers, scientists, draftsmen and inventors — "real cloak-and-dagger guys," says Fred Marra, 78, with a hearty laugh.

He is sitting in the food court at the Danbury Fair mall, where a group of retired co-workers from the former Perkin-Elmer Corp. gather for a weekly coffee. Gray-haired now and hard of hearing, they have been meeting here for 18 years. They while away a few hours nattering about golf and politics, ailments and grandchildren. But until recently, they were forbidden to speak about the greatest achievement of their professional lives.

"Ah, Hexagon," Ed Newton says, gleefully exhaling the word that stills feels almost treasonous to utter in public.

It was dubbed "Big Bird" and it was considered the most successful space spy satellite program of the Cold War era. From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth's atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks.

The scale, ambition and sheer ingenuity of Hexagon KH-9 was breathtaking. The fact that 19 out of 20 launches were successful (the final mission blew up because the booster rockets failed) is astonishing.

So too is the human tale of the 45-year-old secret that many took to their graves.

Hexagon was declassified in September. Finally Marra, Newton and others can tell the world what they worked on all those years at "the office."

"My name is Al Gayhart and I built spy satellites for a living," announced the 64-year-old retired engineer to the stunned bartender in his local tavern as soon as he learned of the declassification. He proudly repeats the line any chance he gets.

"It was intensely demanding, thrilling and the greatest experience of my life," says Gayhart, who was hired straight from college and was one of the youngest members of the Hexagon "brotherhood".

He describes the white-hot excitement as teams pored over hand-drawings and worked on endless technical problems, using "slide-rules and advanced degrees" (there were no computers), knowing they were part of such a complicated space project. The intensity would increase as launch deadlines loomed and on the days when "the customer" — the CIA and later the Air Force — came for briefings. On at least one occasion, former President George H.W. Bush, who was then CIA director, flew into Danbury for a tour of the plant.

Though other companies were part of the project — Eastman Kodak made the film and Lockheed Corp. built the satellite — the cameras and optics systems were all made at Perkin-Elmer, then the biggest employer in Danbury.

"There were many days we arrived in the dark and left in the dark," says retired engineer Paul Brickmeier, 70.

He recalls the very first briefing on Hexagon after Perkin-Elmer was awarded the top secret contract in 1966. Looking around the room at his 30 or so colleagues, Brickmeier thought, "How on Earth is this going to be possible?"

One thing that made it possible was a hiring frenzy that attracted the attention of top engineers from around the Northeast. Perkin-Elmer also commissioned a new 270,000-square-foot building for Hexagon — the boxy one on the hill.

Waiting for clearance was a surreal experience as family members, neighbors and former employers were grilled by the FBI, and potential hires were questioned about everything from their gambling habits to their sexuality.

"They wanted to make sure we couldn't be bribed," Marra says.

Clearance could take up to a year. During that time, employees worked on relatively minor tasks in a building dubbed "the mushroom tank" — so named because everyone was in the dark about what they had actually been hired for.

Joseph Prusak, 76, spent six months in the tank. When he was finally briefed on Hexagon, Prusak, who had worked as an engineer on earlier civil space projects, wondered if he had made the biggest mistake of his life.

"I thought they were crazy," he says. "They envisaged a satellite that was 60-foot long and 30,000 pounds and supplying film at speeds of 200 inches per second. The precision and complexity blew my mind."

Several years later, after numerous successful launches, he was shown what Hexagon was capable of — an image of his own house in suburban Fairfield.

"This was light years before Google Earth," Prusak said. "And we could clearly see the pool in my backyard."

There had been earlier space spy satellites — Corona and Gambit. But neither had the resolution or sophistication of Hexagon, which took close-range pictures of Soviet missiles, submarine pens and air bases, even entire battalions on war exercises.

According to the National Reconnaissance Office, a single Hexagon frame covered a ground distance of 370 nautical miles, about the distance from Washington to Cincinnati. Early Hexagons averaged 124 days in space, but as the satellites became more sophisticated, later missions lasted twice as long.

"At the height of the Cold War, our ability to receive this kind of technical intelligence was incredible," says space historian Dwayne Day. "We needed to know what they were doing and where they were doing it, and in particular if they were preparing to invade Western Europe. Hexagon created a tremendous amount of stability because it meant American decision makers were not operating in the dark."

Among other successes, Hexagon is credited with providing crucial information for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

From the outset, secrecy was a huge concern, especially in Danbury, where the intense activity of a relatively small company that had just been awarded a massive contract (the amount was not declassified) made it obvious that something big was going on. Inside the plant, it was impossible to disguise the gigantic vacuum thermal chamber where cameras were tested in extreme conditions that simulated space. There was also a "shake, rattle and roll room" to simulate conditions during launch.

"The question became, how do you hide an elephant?" a National Reconnaissance Office report stated at the time. It decided on a simple response: "What elephant?" Employees were told to ignore any questions from the media, and never confirm the slightest detail about what they worked on.

But it was impossible to conceal the launches at Vandenberg Air Force base in California, and aviation magazines made several references to "Big Bird." In 1975, a "60 Minutes" television piece on space reconnaissance described an "Alice in Wonderland" world, where American and Soviet intelligence officials knew of each other's "eyes in the sky" — and other nations did, too — but no one confirmed the programs or spoke about them publicly.

For employees at Perkin-Elmer, the vow of secrecy was considered a mark of honor.

"We were like the guys who worked on the first atom bomb," said Oscar Berendsohn, 87, who helped design the optics system. "It was more than a sworn oath. We had been entrusted with the security of the country. What greater trust is there?"

Even wives — who couldn't contact their husbands or know of their whereabouts when they were traveling — for the most part accepted the secrecy. They knew the jobs were highly classified. They knew not to ask questions.

"We were born into the World War II generation," says Linda Bronico, whose husband, Al, told her only that he was building test consoles and cables. "We all knew the slogan 'loose lips sink ships.'"

And Perkin-Elmer was considered a prized place to work, with good salaries and benefits, golf and softball leagues, lavish summer picnics (the company would hire an entire amusement park for employees and their families) and dazzling children's Christmas parties.

"We loved it," Marra says. "It was our life."

For Marra and his former co-workers, sharing that life and their long-held secret has unleashed a jumble of emotions, from pride to nostalgia to relief — and in some cases, grief.

The city's mayor, Mark Boughton, only discovered that his father had worked on Hexagon when he was invited to speak at an October reunion ceremony on the grounds of the former plant. His father, Donald Boughton, also a former mayor, was too ill to attend and died a few days later.

Boughton said for years he and his siblings would pester his father — a draftsman — about what he did. Eventually they realized that the topic was off limits.

"Learning about Hexagon makes me view him completely differently," Boughton says. "He was more than just my Dad with the hair-trigger temper and passionate opinions about everything. He was a Cold War warrior doing something incredibly important for our nation."

For Betty Osterweis the ceremony was bittersweet, too. Not only did she learn about the mystery of her late husband's professional life. She also learned about his final moments.

"All these years," she said, "I had wondered what exactly had happened" on that terrible day in 1987 when she received a phone call saying her 53-year-old husband, Henry Osterweis, a contract negotiator, had suffered a heart attack on the job. At the reunion she met former co-workers who could offer some comfort that the end had been quick.

Standing in the grounds of her late husband's workplace, listening to the tributes, her son and daughter and grandchildren by her side, Osterweis was overwhelmed by the enormity of it all — the sacrifice, the secrecy, the pride.

"To know that this was more than just a company selling widgets ... that he was negotiating contracts for our country's freedom and security," she said.

"What a secret. And what a legacy."

___

Helen O'Neill is a New York-based national writer for The Associated Press. She can be reached at features(at)ap.org.


TUESDAY, December 27, 2011

Here's your change!

THE PRESIDENCY

SOME WILL APPRECIATE THIS AND SOME WILL NOT.

HOWEVER, ALL OF IT IS TRUE.

After two years of Obama ...

Here's your change!

 

January 2009

TODAY

% chg

Source

Avg.. Retail price/gallon gas in U.S.

$1.83

$3.44

84%

1

 

 

 

Crude oil, European Brent (barrel)

$43..48

$99..02

127.7%

2

 

 

 

Crude oil, West TX Inter. (barrel)

$38..74

$91..38

135.9%

2

 

 

 

Gold: London (per troy oz.)

$853.25

$1,369.50

60.5%

2

 

 

 

Corn, No.2 yellow, Central IL

$3.56

$6.33

78.1%

2

 

 

 

Soybeans, No. 1 yellow, IL

$9.66

$13..75

42.3%

2

 

 

 

Sugar, cane, raw, world, lb. Fob

$13..37

$35..39

164.7%

2

 

 

 

Unemployment rate, non-farm, overall

7.6%

9.4%

23.7%

3

 

 

 

Unemployment rate, blacks

12.6%

15.8%

25.4%

3

 

 

 

Number of unemployed

11,616,000

14,485,000

24.7%

3

 

 

 

Number of fed. Employees

2,779,000

2,840,000

2.2%

3

 

 

 

Real median household income

$50,112

$49,777

-0.7%

4

 

 

 

Number of food stamp recipients

31,983,716

43,200,878

35.1%

5

 

 

 

Number of unemployment benefit recipients

7,526,598

9,193,838

22.2%

6

 

 

 

Number of long-term unemployed

2,600,000

6,400,000

146.2%

3

 

 

 

Poverty rate, individuals

13.2%

14.3%

8.3%

4

 

 

 

People in poverty in U.S.

39,800,000

43,600,000

9.5%

4

 

 

 

U.S.. Rank in Economic Freedom World Rankings

5

9

n/a

10

 

 

 

Present Situation Index

29.9

23.5

-21.4%

11

 

 

 

Failed banks

140

164

17.1%

12

 

 

 

U.S.. Dollar versus Japanese yen exchange rate

89.76

82.03

-8.6%

2

 

 

 

U.S.. Money supply, M1, in billions

1,575.1

1,865.7

18.4%

13

 

 

 

U.S.. Money supply, M2, in billions

8,310.9

8,852.3

6.5%

13

 

 

 

National debt, in trillions

$10..627

$14..052

32.2%

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just take this last item: In the last two years we have accumulated national debt at a rate more than 27 times as fast as during the rest of our entire nation's history.
Over 27 times as fast. Metaphorically speaking, if you are driving in the right lane doing 65 MPH and a car rockets past you in the left lane.
27 times faster, it would be doing 7,555 MPH!

Sources:

(1) U.S. Energy Information Administration;
(2) Wall Street Journal;
(3) Bureau of Labor Statistics;
(4) Census Bureau;
(5) USDA;
(6) U.S. Dept. Of Labor;

(7) FHFA
 (8) Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller;
(9) RealtyTrac;
(10) Heritage Foundation and WSJ;
(11) The Conference Board;
(12) FDIC;

(13) Federal Reserve;
(14) U.S. Treasury

So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive? Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in 29 months -- so you'll have one year and five months to come up with an answer. Every statement in this email is factual and directly attributable to Barrack Hussein Obama. Every bumble is a matter of record and completely verifiable.


EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS...

I WONDER HOW MANY WILL FORWARD THIS ?

"You can't fix stupid, but you can vote it out."

"In God We Trust."



MONDAY, December 26, 2011

RE. THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 2012..so far.

I recently noticed a car bumper sticker that is appropriate here...and  that may even be life-saving:

"HE (OR SHE) WHO LAUGHS, LASTS"

Ron Paul:
   A Loose Cannon.  I am coming to see that being a "Libertarian" is incompatible with living in civil society.
Michelle Bachman:
   Good ideas, and a stinger to boot.  But no chance.
Governor Perry:
   A good man, but not enough depth.  No chance.
Newt Gingrich:
   The best of the group, in ideas, intellect and courage.  He says and would actually implement what everyone else is thinking but is too political to say.  And that is why he is being attacked by all sides of the status quo, including the Republican Establishment.  Mr. Gingrich will probably end up proving once again the observation of historian Arthur Schleshinger: the truth-teller loses for telling the truth, but has the greatest influence on the subsequent actions of the winner. 
Mitt Romney:
   Improving, "evolving", Presidential, and the likely Republican nominee.

And then the real fight begins.  This is still an election for the Republicans to lose...and they are up to the task.  Here's a proposal for the Tea Party and the Wall Street protesters to embrace in order to actually become effective rather than flailing around, while saving their political souls. 

BECOME THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION ORGANIZATION,

committed to achieving the call of a Convention that would work to produce much need Amendments to the U.S. Constitution regarding election financing and term limits at all levels.  Their only opposition would be all current Federal office-holders, the organized Democratic and Republican Parties, and the ignorance and 30 second attention span of too many of their fellow citizens. 
Yet it could still be accomplished...that's how much faith I have in the majority of the American People and in "an idea whose time has come".

GS


SUNDAY, December 25, 2011

AMEN!

GS

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

Pope to Infant Jesus: Manifest Your Power
Speaks of God's Might in Christmas Eve Homily

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI voiced a prayer tonight during his homily at the Christmas Eve Mass: O mighty God, you have appeared as a child and we love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we also ask you, manifest your power.

In a radiantly illuminated St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope made this prayer, as he recalled that all three Christmas Masses present a quote from Isaiah, which describes the epiphany that took place at Christmas in greater detail: 'A child is born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace. Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end.' 

The Holy Father said it is unknown if the prophet had a particular child in mind from his own period of history, but, he said, it seems impossible. This is the only text in the Old Testament in which it is said of a child, of a human being: his name will be Mighty-God, Eternal-Father. We are presented with a vision that extends far beyond the historical moment into the mysterious, into the future.

A child, in all its weakness, is Mighty God, the Pontiff declared. A child, in all its neediness and dependence, is Eternal Father. And his peace 'has no end.'

Reflecting on that peace, Benedict XVI said that God as a child pits himself against all violence and brings a message that is peace.

At this hour, he continued, when the world is continually threatened by violence in so many places and in so many different ways, when over and over again there are oppressors' rods and bloodstained cloaks, we cry out to the Lord: O mighty God, you have appeared as a child and you have revealed yourself to us as the One who loves us, the One through whom love will triumph. And you have shown us that we must be peacemakers with you. 

We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God. In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors' rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours.


SATURDAY
, December 24, 2011

What follows is a fine expression of a root cause of perpetual national and world-wide conflict, in addition of the tribalism embedded in our human DNA.  There can never be "Peace on Earth" without the perception and actuality of equality of opportunity...the right to the "pursuit of happiness" even without any guarantee of equality of outcome.  What we need is Fairness, not Greed.  What we have is Greed, and no Fairness.  That should be achievable despite the infirmities of Human Nature.  Let us all be individual evangelists for that Religion.

GS

Seeking peace at home, abroad this Christmas Eve 2011

Red Jahncke

Publication: The Day
Published 12/24/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 12/23/2011 04:15 PM

There could be no more poignant time than Christmas Eve to observe and appreciate the advance of peace: the end of the Iraq War, at least for Americans and, hopefully, for Iraqis.

Often, war concludes in only the most literal sense - combat ends - but continues in other agonizing ways. The victors occupy the vanquished. The vanquished are humiliated in a way that virtually assures a thirst for vengeance and a recommencement of hostilities.

The Iraq War has ended with its own unique and possibly tragic post-war condition: an unresolved sectarian divide. Fortunately, the Iraqi Constitution was drafted with a safety valve designed to prevent devolution into armed strife. Any two or more contiguous Iraqi provinces may form a semi-autonomous Region; such a Region has long existed in the Kurdish North. Currently, observers speculate that the Sunni minority may be maneuvering to form a Sunni region and that Shiite President Maliki is resisting, desirous to institutionalize permanent Shiite hegemony over the entirety of Iraq.

Ominously, Maliki has arrested Iraq's Sunni vice president on sedition charges, thrusting the nation into political crisis just a day after completion of U.S. withdrawal. In the best scenario the present crisis resolves, perhaps via Iraq's constitutional provision for regions joined in loose federalism, and a lasting peace emerges.

Many of us have held strong opinions about the Iraq War. Was it a mistake? Was it worth it? Is it truly over? Should we have withdrawn completely or rather have maintained a stabilizing force in Iraq?

Let's defer this inevitable debate at least beyond the Christmas season so that we Americans can unite now in thankfulness that the war is over for us, and, more particularly, for our brave troops who served steadfastly and honorably in tamping down what was almost full-scale sectarian warfare. Their courage delivered to Iraqis the chance they now have to forge a unified and peaceful nation.

On the home front, compromise and political consensus remain elusive. Our politics and our body politic seem as sharply divided as ever. In one sense, it is a good thing, since democracy thrives on freedom of expression and lively debate. On the other, it is worrisome, because any society depends upon some organizing consensus. If we disagree about everything all of the time, it is hard to see how society and government can function. And there is plenty of dysfunction on display in the nation's capital.

Ignoring the formal political parties for the moment, we have seen two grassroots political movements well up amidst our economic crisis - the tea party and Occupy Wall Street. Singular issues have incensed each movement. The tea party faithful were infuriated by, and remain hostile to, the Democrats' health care legislation, seeing it as a woefully ill-timed expansion of an already-unsustainable welfare state. Occupy seems most angry about the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Interestingly, a solid majority of Americans agree with the tea party on health care and Occupy on taxes.

Maybe this is the "grand bargain" - repeal of the health care act in exchange for ending the Bush tax cuts.

Republicans passed the Bush tax cuts when they controlled the White House and Congress. The health care act passed when Democrats had similar control. One-party rule can lead to extreme acts. Undoing those actions could demonstrate - and generate - some badly needed functionality and domestic harmony and tranquility, the pursuit of which would be most appropriate in keeping with this season.

Red Jahncke heads the Townsend Group, a business consulting firm in Greenwich and is a regular contributor to The Day.


THURSDAY and FRIDAY, December 22 and 23, 2011

Important - and well expressed.

GS

Patriotism is the last refuge of nincompoop

Richard Cerniglia Mystic

Publication: The Day
Published 12/22/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 12/21/2011 11:50 PM

Is George Lucas writing the script for the U.S. Senate? Did any of these distinguished gentlemen stop to consider that they would grant to the president (commander in chief of the armed forces) the authority to detain, without charge or legal recourse, the entire Senate? Patriotism truly is the last refuge of the nincompoop.

Theoretical intentions aside, history teaches that the practical intent of power is decided by those who wield it, not by those who granted it, and this bill comes terrifyingly close to consolidating power in the hands of a single branch of government. Particularly troubling is the denial of habeas corpus to citizens, which removes the ability of any but the most activist of supreme courts to challenge its constitutionality.

It is deeply troubling that the only thing our dysfunctional Congress seems able to agree upon is a means to rob the citizenry of our fourth amendment rights. Keeping these protections from terrorists is an admirable goal which I support wholeheartedly, but this provision is a misguided attempt at doing so, and must not pass into law.

I tremble at the vast potential for abuse held by this provision, and given the physical might of this great nation, the world should tremble with me.


MONDAY
through WEDNESDAY, December 19 through 21, 2011

This is bad news.  It will only thwart the will of the majority, whatever that is.  And this still is...or should be...a government of majority rule.

GS

Inviting a third-party try

Published 12/22/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 12/21/2011 11:50 PM

Third-party presidential candidates have never come close to gaining election in the last hundred years - Theodore Roosevelt lost in 1912, George Wallace in 1968, John Anderson in 1980, H. Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 and Ralph Nader in every race since 1996 - but they have often served as spoilers for the Democratic or Republican in the race.

In that capacity they sometimes have helped defeat the candidate more closely aligned with their interests: the conservative Mr. Perot ruined Republican George H.W. Bush's re-election bid in 1992, opening the door for Democrat Bill Clinton; Mr. Nader, a left-leaning consumer advocate, helped Republican George W. Bush beat Democrat Al Gore in 2000.

Now, a privately financed group called Americans Elect is organizing an online effort to run a third-party candidate for the White House. Given the general dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama and any of his would-be GOP challengers, along with the influence social media and Internet communication have had on such movements as Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, the major parties should sit up and take notice.

On Monday, after submitting the signatures of more than 1 million registered voters, Americans Elect won a spot on the 2012 ballot in California - the 12th state in its drive to get slots on all 50 by Election Day. Also on board are Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio and Utah.

The movement plans to nominate a ticket through online balloting in June. Only former Republican Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, a relative political lightweight, has expressed an interest in an Americans Elect candidacy.

Americans Elect would vastly prefer someone like New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The ready-made ability to get on most and perhaps all state ballots could invite a late entry into the race. Gov. Christie appears unlikely. If viewed as a spoiler that helps re-elect President Obama, he could ruin his future in the Republican Party nationally. On the other hand Mayor Bloomberg, who could finance much of his own campaign, could prove a formidable candidate.

While this newspaper welcomes any effort to engage voters, we also urge Americans Elect to identify the source of its $30 million campaign. Its chairman is Peter Ackerman, a Wall Street financier who worked with junk-bond trader Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s, giving us pause.

Yet the movement suggests that in the digital age conventional assumptions, such as third-party candidates have no shot, may no longer hold true.


SUNDAY, December 18, 2011

This falls into the "the more things change, the more they stay the same" file...but it DID make me laugh!




SATURDAY, December 17, 2011

It occurs to me that, since I commented on  Islam in a recent Rapid Response, I should re-post my own understanding of that great Religion, such as it is.

GS

ISLAM – A PERSONAL STUDY

<>

ISLAM.  As a Christian and before the events since the late 1980’s, my knowledge of and interest in Islam and the Muslim world were cursory at best.  I am not proud of such ignorance; it’s just fact.  All of that changed on 9/11/2001…and by March of 2003 I had begun to share my quest for insight into that part of humanity – and America’s role in that part of the world – through the vehicle of the section entitled “Rapid Response: Daily Commentary On News Of The Day” on my web-site (www.asthma-drsprecace.com). 

Now, hundreds of thousands of lost lives later, my studies lead me toward a conclusion that America is engaged in the wrong struggle in the wrong place and time and for the wrong reasons.  We always retain the right to self-defense (including pre-emptive self-defense) and the right to pursue our vital national self-interests.  But we are wrong to try to impose our views of democracy and universal human rights on other and very different cultures.  We should offer; and, if the offer is accepted, we should facilitate such actions.  But we should not and cannot impose such views on an alien population by force and coercion.  At the very least, it is a fool’s errand.  It  greatly weakens our own nation.  It is also immoral. 

As suggestions for those who would pursue their own personal study, I offer the following:

The following are some highly abbreviated observations gleaned from the above and from other continuing readings:

Is it any wonder, then, that the West (especially personified by that “Great Satan”) is losing everywhere in its poorly conceived battle against…what?  This is a war against terrorism directed against us.  It cannot be a war against Muslims or Islam, against their way of life or their Religion.  And regardless of the ambivalence toward or actual opposition to the tools of terrorism on the part of the vast majority of Muslims, any “free”, Western-style elections in the nations of Islam (if that were possible) would very likely produce victory for the proponents of “Islamism”. 

So, what is our goal in that part of the world?  We had better figure that out soon, and in conformity with the above facts on the ground, before we as a nation bleed to death.      

George A. Sprecace, M.D., J.D.

January 17, 2010


FRIDAY, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, atheists' favorite atheist, is dead.  I believe that he will rest with God.  And here's why.  Agnostics are thinking and searching people.  Atheists are, in my opinion, certifiable...and as with all mentally ill persons...they are children of God. 
Besides, I'm willing to bet that the last words he uttered to himself before his last breath were:
"THANK GOD I DIED AN ATHEIST."

GS


WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, December 14 & 15, 2011

Now for another edition of  "Around The World In Eighty Opinions.

The United States.  Ditto.  The first test comes in November of 2012.  Are we a nation of independents or of dependents?  Thereafter, a U.S. Constitutional Convention must be convened to consider Amendments that will re-calibrate our government to the needs of this century...beginning with how we select and elect our leaders.  For details on how to address the several serious pending problems facing our nation now, please see the positions of Newt Gingrich. There is a "truth-teller".

GS


TUESDAY,
December 13, 2011

A TRUE CHRISTMAS STORY 1964, USS SAM HOUSTON, SSBN 609 HOLY LOCH, SCOTLAND.

A True Christmas Story from

"American Submariner"

January-February 2000

By Jim Terrel

It was mid-December 1964 and it was as cold as one would expect Connecticut to be at that time of the year.  We boarded the buses and after a while we were on our way to Quonset Point Naval Air Station where an aircraft waited to take us to Scotland.  We were going back a few days early this time.  
 
The idea was to relieve the other crew so they could get home for Christmas.  The faces of the men betrayed their remorse at leaving home at this time of the year.  There was little of the usual horseplay and chatter we normally enjoyed on these trips.  Instead, the men stared out the windows reflecting on the price they and their families paid for the security of the nation.  Children would rush downstairs on Christmas morning to discover a bounty of presents.  Their fathers would share that precious moment, unaware that somewhere out in the worlds oceans, other fathers, crammed into a cylinder of steel, kept watch over the delicate world peace.  On our watch, there was peace on earth.
 
Takeoffs always amused me.  I chuckled watching men who would take a boat to test depth and think nothing of it, grip the armrest so hard their knuckles turned white.  They sat rigid with their heads back and their eyes closed, perhaps making peace with their maker, while the plane rotated and climbed out into the morning sunshine.  In a few minutes we had reached our altitude and leveled out.  Almost immediately, I noticed a couple of the guys begin to move around the plane having conferences with first one group and then another.  Soon they approached us with their proposition.  They proposed that although we had our duty to do we need not sacrifice our customs and traditions.  We couldn't be home for Christmas with our kids but we could share with others.  There was an orphanage in Dunoon with children in need of what we had to give.  Soon the hat was passed, monies collected,  plans made and duties assigned.  The balance of the flight seemed more relaxed, and it was not long before I heard someone question the masculinity of a Nav ET.  I knew then that all was well.
 
When we arrived in Holy Loch the usual change of command process went forward with a greater sense of urgency than usual.  Clearly the other crew wanted to go home.  In no time the process was complete and we had the boat.  When the opportunity for liberty came along we dispatched a committee to the orphanage and they returned with a list of children who would be invited aboard for Christmas dinner.  The list included their names, age and gender.  Each child was assigned to a "Daddy for the Day"  who was charged with escorting them around the boat and getting them to all functions.  It's funny, but although I have not been able to put a name to the faces of the men who organized this event, I still remember the name of the child I looked after that day.  Angus Naylor.
 
A second committee, armed with the list that indicated age and gender, went shopping for Christmas presents for the Children.  Soon the local merchants became aware of what we were doing and our money went much further than we had estimated.  Our men returned with a huge supply of presents.  Instead of the usual movie we spent one evening wrapping the gifts.  The role of Santa Claus went to our Hospital Corpsman, affectionately known as "The Quack".
 
A liberty launch brought the kids out and that in itself was a thrill for them.  Some were scared and others mischievous.  We gave them a tour of the boat, then took them to the crews mess where they enjoyed perhaps the best Christmas dinner of their lives.  After dinner they were treated to a Walt Disney movie.  The Amazing Mr. Limpet, starring Don Knotts.  When the movie was over, we took them up to the periscope stand where the Quack was decked out in an ill-fitting Santa Claus suit.  He had a couple of helpers in some form of costume.  This was when we discovered that British Children believe in Father Christmas, not Santa Claus.  One of the guys quickly explained we had invited our American Santa Claus to come over especially for them.  As the child sat in Santa's lap the Quack would ask their name and then repeat it loud enough for his helpers to hear it.  This would send the helpers frantically searching among the huge pile of presents to locate the ones intended for this child, who was kept occupied answering the usual questions concerning their behavior during the year.  When found, a present would be placed in Santa's hand.  He would present it to the child while the two of them smiled at the camera.  In the end, each child received about three presents and a picture of themselves with the most ridiculous looking Santa Claus.
 
Soon it was time for them to go and the tears began to flow.  Tiny little girls held tightly to their "Daddies" and cried out that they wanted to stay.  Everyone was affected.  We escorted them with their presents back to the tender where the liberty launches waited to return them to the cold reality that we had given them temporary respite from.  As the launch pulled away the children waved and all the "Daddies" waved farewell to them as I had seen them do to their own children a few weeks before.  It was not lost on me that here were men who wielded on of the most powerful warships ever conceived, who struck fear in the Russian heart, who could unleash an attack never before seen on Earth.  There, at that moment, these warriors of the deep wiped tears from their eyes; and there was truly

"Peace on Earth"



MONDAY
, December 12, 2011

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: ONCE AGAIN ON POINT, LIKE A LASER!
GS

"Obama's Campaign For Class Resentment", in The Day (www.theday.com) Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, pA7.


SUNDAY, December 11, 2011

Here is documentation that both Democrats and Establishment Republicans are "whistling as they go by the cemetery".  Newt Gingrich articulates...and actually believes in...positions that this nation absolutely needs at this time of crisis.  And that is terrorizing the power purveyors of the status quo.  Furthermore, "the people" are actually beginning to "get it". And the more Gingrich's detractors emphasize who he allegedly was rather than who is today, the stronger he will get. 

The Presidential Election of 2012 continues to be entirely one for the Republicans to lose; and they they are doing a great job of it so far.

GS

Gingrich's rise puzzles critics of his record
By CHARLES BABINGTON | AP – Fri, Dec 9, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Newt Gingrich's rapid rise in presidential polls has left veteran Republicans scratching their heads, and not just because he vaulted from far back to lead Mitt Romney in several key states.

They're trying to figure out why the former House speaker is supported by GOP voters who think he's not particularly honest and doesn't share their values. They're puzzled that Iowa evangelical Christians are flocking to a man who was unfaithful to two wives, paid $300,000 in House ethics fines and converted to Roman Catholicism.

They're surprised that Republican voters say they value Gingrich's experience far more than that of his rivals. Gingrich's record of earning millions of dollars in the government influence business, after 20 years in Congress, seems to upend the notion that this election cycle is driven by tea partyers' hostility to Washington insiders.

"I can't decipher what's going on," said Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., one the tea party's best-known first-term lawmakers.

"I've had a little trouble figuring it out, too," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of Congress' most conservative members.

Fueling the perplexity are three independent polls of Iowa Republicans, who will hold their caucus Jan. 3. They show Gingrich leading, with Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas battling for second, and four others trailing.

Republican elected officials and strategists offer an array of theories, with varying degrees of confidence.

One school holds that Gingrich articulates conservative positions so forcefully that he attracts hard-right voters willing to overlook his record of inconsistencies and foibles. While many people see Gingrich as a consummate Washington insider -- making $1.6 million advising Freddie Mac, for instance -- his sharply anti-Washington rhetoric and unorthodox views convince others that he's willing to buck the system and make needed changes.

Another theory, however, suggests that many Republicans simply don't know much about Gingrich, 68, whose greatest political triumph was 17 years ago when he rose to become House speaker. Voters may be unaware of his repeated clashes with fellow Republicans, or his 1995 complaint about being seated in the back of Air Force One. Gingrich said the "snub" contributed to that year's budget impasse with President Bill Clinton and the unpopular government shutdown that followed.

With Gingrich, "the message resonates more than the record," said Mark Meckler, a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots. Gingrich is skilled at synthesizing and expressing conservatives' goals and anger, Meckler said. But he also has "a long history that's hard to explain away."

If that's true, it's possible the attacks being launched against Gingrich, mainly by Paul and groups backing Romney, will take a big toll before the Iowa caucus and the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary.

It's also possible, some GOP analysts say, that the attacks will endear Gingrich to conservatives more than ever. Romney has struggled for months to rise above 30 percent in Republican horserace polls.

The obvious hunger for a non-Romney candidate could anoint Gingrich if he's the last rival standing after others have fallen.

Issues and questions raised by the three polls of Iowa Republicans include:

EXPERIENCE.

Separate surveys for The Des Moines Register and New York Times-CBS News showed Gingrich with an overwhelming lead on the question of which Republican has the best experience to be president and handle world crises.

That raises serious doubts about Romney's strategy. The former one-term Massachusetts governor says his decades as a businessman are preferable to the background of someone who "has spent the last 40 years in Washington."

Romney's campaign this week brought out former congressional colleagues of Gingrich who said he was divisive and erratic in his four years as House speaker.

Even his toughest critics generally praise Gingrich for leading the 1994 GOP takeover of the House. But they note that his tempestuous time as party leader led to a failed Republican coup attempt in 1997, and then his departure from office after the disappointing 1998 elections.

Other Gingrich critics are trying to remind voters that he has favored bank bailouts, an individual mandate to buy health insurance and a bipartisan push to combat climate change. They highlight the millions of dollars he made in the Washington influence world, including his contract with Freddie Mac, a mortgage backer he publicly criticized.

Two decades in Congress, followed by big paychecks from special interest groups, would hardly seem the type of resume embraced by tea party activists. But King, the Iowa conservative, said staunch conservatives know that some level of government experience is needed to change federal policies.

"The anti-Washington part of the tea party seems to have diminished a little bit," King said. "They've become more sophisticated. They have a better understanding of how Washington works."

VALUES vs IDEAS.

The Times-CBS poll asked Iowa Republicans to name the candidate that best represents "the values you try to live by." Rep. Michele Bachmann, Paul and Romney were bunched near the top, although no one was chosen by more than 19 percent of the respondents. Gingrich finished fourth, at 11 percent.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that only 13 percent of likely Iowa caucusgoers see Gingrich as the most honest and trustworthy in the field, also a fourth-place showing. Yet Gingrich easily leads on the "who would you vote for" question.

Gingrich may have struck a nerve with voters by saying the 2012 election against President Barack Obama will be a campaign of ideas. Curt Levey, who heads the conservative Committee for Justice, said Gingrich recently told a private gathering of activists in Washington, "Don't support me, support my ideas."

In the Des Moines Register poll, Gingrich finished sixth on the question of which candidate is "most likeable." But he was the overwhelming choice as "best debater." He has challenged Obama to seven three-hour debates in the Lincoln-Douglas mold.

Veteran politicians sometimes roll their eyes when Gingrich unspools yet another round of ideas, which have included "a massive new program to build a permanent lunar colony to exploit the Moon's resources."

Iowa Republicans, at least for now, seem drawn to his intellect and ideas.

RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES.

In the Times-CBS poll in Iowa, Gingrich held a 2-to-1 lead over his nearest rival, Paul, among white evangelicals. He held a 3-to-1 lead over Romney, a Mormon.

Gingrich's acknowledged infidelities and two divorces are well documented. He was having an affair with a House staffer, now his wife, when he pushed for Clinton's impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Romney's latest TV ad notes that he has been married to the same woman for 42 years. Republican strategists are divided on the likely impact of such messages. Some think religious conservatives will turn against Gingrich when they learn more details of his past. Others think these voters might embrace Gingrich's story of contrition and hoped-for redemption.

ELECTABILITY.

In the Times-CBS poll, nearly half of Iowa Republicans said it's more important to pick a nominee who can beat Obama than to have one who agrees with them on the issues. Gingrich has a 23-point lead among these voters: 43 percent to Romney's 20 percent.

Yet most polls show Obama faring better against Gingrich than against Romney in hypothetical match-ups in key states. The findings puzzle some GOP insiders.

Voters sometimes express conflicting views, they note. And voters might believe Gingrich is stronger, or will become stronger, than the polls suggest.

Meckler, the tea party activist, thinks close and literal readings of the Iowa poll results can give a misleading picture of the contest. He also noted that Rudy Giuliani led the GOP field at this point four years ago, only to collapse.

He thinks many Republicans are embracing Gingrich's robust attacks on institutions they dislike, such as the news media and congressional wheeling and dealing.

"The way he pushes back against the press is very appealing to a lot of people," Meckler said. "People feel like he speaks for them."

When Gingrich used "stupid" to describe the bipartisan "supercommittee," which failed to break the political logjam on deficit spending, he expressed "our feelings exactly," Meckler said. "We knew it would fail. It was fake."

Meckler said such bombastic, anti-establishment language helps Gingrich obscure his history of cutting deals and pushing agendas as a lawmaker and well-paid consultant. "There is a disconnect between that and his long-term record," Meckler said.

Romney's goal in the next few weeks, either directly or through third parties, is to make that connection for voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond.

Gingrich "is not a reliable or trustworthy leader," Jim Talent, a Republican who served with Gingrich in the House, said in a Romney-sponsored conference call Thursday.

The campaign will test whether conservative voters will overlook such barbs and embrace Gingrich's ideas and in-your-face rhetoric.

___

AP Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.


SATURDAY, December 10, 2011

"FIGURES LIE..AND LIARS FIGURE".     GS

Upon further review, there is no proof of a near-poor spike

Red Jahncke
Publication: The Day
Published 12/10/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 12/09/2011 03:35 PM

A recent census report appeared to suggest that the nation has a huge segment of its population hovering near poverty. It was a striking piece of information, one I reported on in my column. Unfortunately, it's not accurate.

The U.S. Census Bureau report featured a new poverty assessment formula called the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). Creating the furor was one poorly designed graphic indicating that the nation's population of "near-poor" is much larger than previously thought.

The information caused a small stampede into print, one that drew much media attention, ranging from the venerable New York Times to this columnist.

The offending graphic employs a side-by-side comparison of two bar graphs, a format that normally involves apples-to-apples analysis. It shows the U.S. population of 306 million broken into brackets of income-to-poverty-line ratios.

What leaps off the page is the difference in the "near poor" bracket, those whose incomes are one to two times above the poverty line. Using the new measure that number of near poor is 31.8 percent, compared to 18.8 percent using the long-standing official measure. That's 97 million citizens versus 58 million.

Developed in the 1960s, the official measure fails to account for the impact of the many anti-poverty programs launched since then. It is based on "the cost of a minimum diet multiplied by three (to allow for expenditures on other goods and services)"; and household income includes only "before-tax cash income."

The formula misses in-kind assistance, such as food stamps, a $50 billion program, and many housing subsidies. The new SPM measure captures these previously overlooked in-kind assistance programs.

But why the seeming huge increase in citizens considered near poverty? A closer examination shows that while the new SPM measure is undoubtedly better, it is also different, a fact camouflaged by the misleading apples-to-apples format of the Census report graphic.

SPM income, it turns out, is an after-tax figure, while the official poverty measure of income is a pre-tax number. No wonder there was a seemingly big change.

Obviously, the two are very different. As household income increases, the household qualifies for fewer anti-poverty programs and pays an increasing amount of taxes (FICA and income taxes). So, taxes represent the major difference between the two bar graphs.

For example, consider a household with pretax income of $50,000, or more than twice the poverty threshold. Assuming a combined FICA and income tax rate of 20 percent, this equates to after-tax income of $40,000, or less than twice the poverty threshold - dropping the household into the enlarged "near poor" population. Nothing changed in the household's economic circumstances; it dropped solely as the result of a change in poverty measurement methodology.

This statistical warping does not exist at very low levels of income, when households pay little or no taxes. In fact, both the official poverty measure and the new SPM measure arrive at approximately the same figure for the poverty line: $22,113 for a family of four under the traditional formula and $24,343 using SPM.

Just to be sure I wasn't missing something I spoke with Census statisticians. I came away convinced that the tax differential is the predominant factor responsible for the much greater number of people being captured within the SPM bracket of up to twice the poverty rate, or near poor.

In my rush to share the census data I bought into the rise in poverty angle, a sin shared by the New York Times, but one it has not conceded to. While the population of low-income citizens has certainly grown over the last three years, it has not skyrocketed in some previously unrecognized way based upon any sea change in the economic circumstances.

Basing decisions on the deceptive graphic would lead to bad policy. Policymakers need to take a closer look, as I did.

Red Jahncke heads the Townsend Group, a business consulting firm in Greenwich and is a regular contributor to The Day.


FRIDAY, December 9, 2011

I'M SPEECHLESS...except to invoke that famous movie line: STUPIDO, STUPIDO, STUPIDO!

GS

New London board takes no action on raising academic standards

By Kathleen Edgecomb

Published 12/08/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 12/08/2011 10:10 PM

New London — The Board of Education took no action Thursday on a policy it is considering, which would raise the academic requirements of students participating in extra-curricular activities.
 
The proposed policy would require students to maintain a 1.7 grade-point average, which is a low C grade, to participate in clubs, athletics and school-sponsored travel.

Students athletes would have to earn a 1.7 GPA at the beginning of each season. Currently, the school abides by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rules, which require students to maintain a 0.66 GPA to be eligible to compete.

The board, which has four new members, voted 6-1 to send the item back to the policy committee for further discussion and review. Board president William Morse was in favor of moving the policy forward as it was written.


THURSDAY, December 8, 2011

"ATTA BOY !"      GS

GOP's Newt Gingrich relishes role of antagonist
By THOMAS BEAUMONT | AP – Wed, Dec 7, 2011.

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — Newt Gingrich grinned as he pledged to dog President Barack Obama at every turn and from coast to coast next year if he's the Republican nominee.

"The White House will be my scheduler, and wherever the president goes, I will show up four hours later to respond to his speech," the GOP presidential candidate said wryly on a recent visit to Iowa.

Seemingly in unison, the 500 Iowa Republicans crowded into the banquet hall rose from their seats applauding, for there he was — the tested antagonist that Republicans here have been craving to go toe to toe with the Democratic incumbent.

"We're looking for Ulysses S. Grant. And Newt Gingrich is the only one who has said we need to attack," said Craig Bergman, a Des Moines Republican who had been leaning toward Gingrich recently — and was hooked after last week's speech.

If there's any one reason that may explain Gingrich's sharp rise in Iowa, where he now leads in polls, it's this: Republicans, in Iowa at least, are aching for an attack dog candidate in the effort to beat Obama.

Indeed, prospective Republican caucusgoers, who are looking for a fighter prepared to go up against the well-funded, politically deft and oratorically gifted Obama, have gravitated to other GOP candidates not shy about lobbing verbal bombs at Obama — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain among them. But those candidates have either faded or dropped out. In Donald Trump's case, he never ran but his no-holds-barred criticism of the president helped him briefly rise to the top of national polls.

Enter Gingrich.

His pitched battles with Democratic President Bill Clinton while he was House speaker serve as an important reminder to GOP voters that he's challenged the opposition at its highest level. But, should he win the GOP nomination, he will have to do more than rally a frustrated GOP base; he will have to convince swing voters he can lead a worried nation.

As Jim Dyke, a former Republican National Committee communication director now based in South Carolina, put it: "He's been a chief antagonist in the past, so that certainly gives him credibility. ... But we're not voting for chief antagonist. We're voting for president."

First, however, the candidate must get through the GOP nomination race.

And, less than a month until the leadoff Iowa caucuses, Gingrich's reputation as a bulldog is setting up a key stylistic contrast to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is focusing largely on Obama's handling of the economy in his second bid for the GOP nomination.

Compared with Romney, Gingrich seems more at home in the role of adversary. And he doesn't simply note his disagreements with Obama. He casts himself as the Democrat's philosophical opposite.

"He is an Alinsky radical," Gingrich told The Associated Press last week, calling Obama a disciple of Saul Alinsky, the late left-wing activist from Chicago. "And I am an American exceptionalist. He believes in fundamentally undermining the America we inherited. I believe in fundamentally rebuilding the America we inherited."

A look at the past illustrates Gingrich's knack for confrontation.

He was the engineer of the Republicans' 1994 House takeover. By 1995 and 1996, he was engaging in an epic battle with Clinton; the federal government shut down twice after the Democratic president and Republican-led Congress could not agree on a budget deal.

Today, the 68-year-old Gingrich has not mellowed in his tendency for inviting sweeping confrontation, recently telling an audience of Texas conservatives, "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time (my grandchildren) are my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

He also is working to turn his own perceived weaknesses into points of contrast with Obama. The Republican, for example, is facing criticism for supporting legal status for longtime, law-abiding illegal immigrants with community ties. But he didn't hesitate to assail the Obama administration for suing South Carolina over an immigration law.

"Here's a simple way to think of it: President Obama sided with Mexico. I would side with South Carolina," he said last week in Charleston, S.C.

Perhaps mindful that he can sometimes take his attacks too far, Gingrich is seeking to emphasize his softer side in his campaign advertisements. In his first TV commercial in Iowa, he promotes "working together" and "respecting one another" while making an upbeat call for unity.

Even so, his provocation of Obama thrills partisan audiences — at least the one last week at the Polk County Republicans' annual fundraiser in Johnston.

If he's the nominee, Gingrich said, he will invite Obama to debate seven times in the three-hour Lincoln-Douglas style and added, "How does a Columbia, Harvard law graduate, editor of the law review, greatest orator in the Democratic Party, look in the mirror and say he's afraid to stand on the same platform with a West Georgia College professor?"

And with that playful taunt, Gingrich had his audience.


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, December 5 through 7, 2011

What an appropriate message for the Christmas Season...or any season. The gift of a child is the most direct gift from God. This is true regardless of the child's condition or infirmities. In fact, a child with infirmities is an opportunity for the parents to achieve for their spiritual lives more than they ever thought possible. By contrast, the choice of abortion is one of the most grave repudiations of God's love for each of us as individuals.

We cannot earn Heaven by our actions: that is God's gift to us. But we can certainly refuse it. That is the challenge of another gift: Free Will. Think about that.     GS 

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ZENIT, The world seen from Rome

News Agency

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Prenatal Diagnoses: No Detecting the Joy Awaiting

Founder of Advocacy Group on Her Book A Special Mother Is Born

By Kathleen Naab


CANTERBURY, Connecticut, DEC. 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A prenatal test released a few weeks ago is being hailed (in some quarters) as the end of Down syndrome. The implication, of course, is that if parents can discover more quickly and easily that their unborn child has Down, they will opt for abortion.

Statistics indicate that already in the vast majority of cases (more than nine out of 10), abortion is the route parents choose if tests currently available reveal their child has the condition. So an easier, earlier test could indeed mean the end -- not for Down syndrome itself, but for those who carry it.

Leticia Velasquez considers this a grave mistake. Velasquez is the co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome), and is the mother of Christina, who has the condition.

Last month, Velasquez released A Special Mother Is Born, which tells the story of 34 people -- mostly moms, and a few dads too -- who have embraced a special-needs child as a gift.

ZENIT spoke with Velasquez about her book and what these special-needs kids -- and their families -- need most.

ZENIT: You probably saw the news about a new test that will be the end of Down syndrome. What are your comments on it?

Velasquez: The new test, MaterniT21, does pose a serious threat to the lives of many more unborn babies with Down syndrome. Consider the statistic in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood: Due to the trend of women having children later in life, between 1989-2005, it was expected that there would be a 15% increase in babies born with Down syndrome. Instead, there was a 34% decrease. This means there was an effective decrease of 49% in births of babies with Down syndrome in that period, due to prenatal testing and abortion. The abortion rate for babies diagnosed with Down syndrome is currently 92% in the U.S. and higher in Europe. Once MaterniT21, a non-invasive blood test which is done at 10 weeks, with 99% accuracy, is widely available, many more women will know if they are carrying a child with Down syndrome. If current trends persist, the abortion rate of these children will increase dramatically. 

If the test is paid for by [President Barack Obama's health care reform package], as Health and Human Services Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius recommended recently, most women will opt to take the test. If the 92% abortion rate holds steady, then we could expect that abortion number to climb precipitously. In addition, the idea of an abortion at 12 weeks is less abhorrent to women than an abortion at 22 weeks, when the results of the other tests are available.

In order to combat this trend, we have to focus on the opportunity that an early diagnosis presents to the medical community. No longer is a woman forced to make a rapid decision before a legal deadline of 24 weeks for late term abortion, so there is no need to rush such a critical life-or-death decision. Now the mother has plenty of time to learn about the true nature of life with Down syndrome: the amazing array of free services; medical treatments for common problems such as heart defects; the opportunities for education through college; and inclusion in everyday community activities. 

An important survey published by Dr. Skotko in the American Journal of Medical Genetics shows a 99% rate of satisfaction experienced by families of people with Down syndrome, as well as a 99% rate of their children being happy with themselves. Researchers say within 10 years there will be a drug available that will make their learning and memory completely normal. There has never been a better time in history to be born with Down syndrome. Doctors owe their patients this type of up-to-date information, and it's my goal to make sure they have access to it.

We also have to re-evaluate what it means to be a parent. Are we looking to create a clone of ourselves or fulfill our own dreams through our children? Author Amy Julia Becker wrote A Good and Perfect Gift about having her daughter Penny with Down syndrome. She says in Time magazine,I went to Princeton, I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, I have always been smart. I didn't realize how much I assumed I'd have a daughter just like me. Having Penny really challenged me to rethink what it means to be a whole and full human being. 

ZENIT: Tell us about how you selected the profiles in your book. Were there many more to choose from than those who made it into A Special Mother Is Born?

Velasquez: While compiling stories for the book, I looked for parents who understood that their special-needs children were God's gifts to their families, and the larger community. Some were writers, and some were personal friends, but all of these people understood that they were called to an extraordinary commitment to parenthood. They understand that parenting such a child is to be a sign of contradiction to the world, which rejects these children at an increasing rate. They understand that the call to parent a special-needs child is a blessing: an invitation to grow in life-giving love. The most moving aspect of this is that these life-changing lessons were learned from children who could not express this verbally, they merely taught their families by their example of whole-hearted love. 

Pope Benedict visited disabled youth in Madrid this summer and said, Because the Son of God wanted freely to embrace suffering and death, we we are also capable of seeing God's image in the face of those who suffer. This preferential love of the Lord for the suffering helps us to see others more clearly and to give them, above and beyond their material demands, the look of love which they need.

ZENIT: Your book brought me to tears many times, but this collection is not an appeal to sentiments (or not only that). What is it? Or what do you hope it to be?

Velasquez: I want my readers to see the glory of a life fully lived, in the irresistible beauty of a life lived in the power of our faith. That is what makes these stories so profound: God's grace has been permitted to shine powerfully in the lives of these parents and their families by their surrender to his will. Once God has overtaken a heart, its capacity to love expands, and we who witness it say, See how they love one another? I hope to inspire those who fear such surrender -- and most of us do -- to take the plunge and trust God's will for us when love calls for sacrifice. After all, what is more challenging than the illness or death of a child? 

ZENIT: Do you consider these stories only for Christians?

Velasquez: No, I have heard parents of other faiths discuss the extraordinary spiritual gifts of special-needs children. There is a film about a Jewish youth endowed with extraordinary spiritual gifts called Praying With Lior. Many parents of special-needs children will recognize this about their own children, regardless of their faith tradition. I merely wanted to write a book focusing on the spiritual richness of our Catholic faith from the perspective to whom much is given, much is expected.

ZENIT: Though not a resource manual, the book includes a list of resources at the end that is varied and extensive, even a board book for toddlers. Are resources what these families need most?

Velasquez: No, we need far more than resources. We need a society that welcomes our children with open arms, not one that questions their right to exist. I offer resources and inspirational stories to accompany parents in their journey of giving birth to a special-needs child, as they, and the authors of the book, strive to create this culture of life together. Many of my contributors offer their personal support to such parents. 

ZENIT: So what would you say is the one thing that mothers of special-needs children need to know when faced with the adverse diagnosis?

Velasquez: I quote the co-founder of Keep Infants with Down Syndrome (KIDS), Eileen Haupt, who says in her story of her daughter Sadie, born with Down syndrome. The doctors can tell you your child's diagnosis, but they cannot tell you the joy your child will bring you. Ninety nine percent of people with Down syndrome say they are happy with their lives; as a parent, having a happy child who gets to heaven is my goal. My daughter Christina at age 9, is already well on her way.



SUNDAY, December 4, 2011

What follows is part of a discussion with my son Perrin regarding the State of the Union.

GS

Perrin, we'll take this from the top.

Bottom Line: Things are going to have to get worse before they start getting better.  If Obama and his gang are re-elected in 2012, they will certainly get worse...perhaps to a critical mass.  If real Republicans with conservative principles and balls win, we may be able to limp out of this situation within a few years.  Let's hope, pray...and work like hell as best we can to influence the process.       Dad


SATURDAY, December 3, 2011

...AND, IF HE ADDS MEANINGFUL MEDICAL MALPRACTICE TORT REFORM - RESPONSIBLE FOR 25% OF ALL HEALTH CARE EXPENDITURES - TO THE PLAN, PAUL RYAN GETS A BIG SLOPPY KISS FROM ME. 
See also my writings going back to the mid 1970's.

GS

Paul Ryan's strong antidote to Obama health care
By RAMESH PONNURU

Publication: The Day
Published 10/05/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 10/04/2011 11:40 PM

Republicans say they want to "repeal and replace" the health care law President Barack Obama signed last year, but they are a lot more specific about the first half than the second. Rep. Paul Ryan wants to bring some balance to the slogan.

In a Sept. 27 speech to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee supplied an Obamacare alternative of his own. Ryan has the right diagnosis of what's wrong with federal health care policy, and the right prescription, too. He just needs to adjust the dosage.

Thanks in large part to Ryan's efforts, congressional Republicans have already embraced two of the ideas in his speech. They want the federal government to give states a fixed amount of money to run Medicaid, instead of paying for half of whatever the states decide to cover for the poor. And they want to replace Medicare with "premium support" for future senior citizens, who would purchase private insurance using capped federal subsidies.

But Republicans have had less to say about the uninsured, or the majority of Americans who are eligible for neither Medicaid nor Medicare. They have advocated tort reform and the creation of an interstate market for the purchase of individual insurance, both of which might make coverage a little bit more affordable. But as Ryan acknowledges, that's not enough.

He believes that we should change the way the tax code treats health insurance. Employer-provided coverage is not taxed on par with wages, and thus the federal government encourages companies to offer coverage rather than provide higher wages and let employees buy coverage. The more expensive the coverage, the more the tax break is worth. The fundamental flaw of Obamacare, as Ryan sees it, is that it leaves the inflationary incentives of current policy in place.

Under Ryan's proposal, the tax break would become a credit available equally to those who get coverage from their employers and those who buy it themselves. Anyone who wanted to buy coverage that costs more than the credit would have to pay the difference themselves. The expectation is that people would buy less expensive coverage and more often pay for routine expenses out-of-pocket. The new cost pressures thus created would, together with competition, drive prices down.

Individuals would have more control because they would be more likely to own their insurance policies rather than rely on their employers. Over time, the problem of people who can't get insurance because of pre-existing conditions would diminish, because people would have to change insurance less often. "This is the 21st century," Ryan tells me. "People do not have the same jobs for their entire careers. The tax benefit should be attached to the worker, not to the job."

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, made a similar proposal during the 2008 campaign, and the Obama campaign attacked it relentlessly as a new tax on employer-provided coverage. (Within two years, Obama had enacted his own new tax on employer-provided coverage as part of his health-care overhaul.) The McCain experience does not faze Ryan. "He did a very, very poor job of defending the idea," he says. "This is not taking away a tax benefit, it is improving a tax benefit for people." People making low incomes, he points out, would get a larger tax benefit under his proposal than they do now.

Asked to explain his colleagues' reluctance to embrace this reform, Ryan says, "I think people are just politically risk averse. As you know, I am just more of a policy risk-taker."

It may be that voters, too, are more risk averse than Ryan.

They have repeatedly demonstrated a preference for the health-insurance arrangements they have today, faults included, over politicians' visions of some better system. That was one of the major political obstacles to Obama's health legislation - and the reason he kept insisting that it would allow everyone who liked their existing coverage to keep it.

Ryan's colleagues have shied away from his reform because they fear the voters' fear - especially because they already think they took enough risks on Medicare. Modifying his plan may be a prerequisite for getting Republicans on board as well as the public.

That important caveat aside, however, Ryan is on the right track. A credible conservative alternative to Obamacare has to involve changing the tax code. And without a credible alternative, Republicans won't be able to repeal it, let alone replace it.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist and a senior editor at National Review.


FRIDAY, December 2, 2011

IS THIS A CHRISTMAS PRESENT...OR AN EMPTY BOX? 
A careful reading and analysis by me of this report, offered by those within the belly of the beast that is Public Education, will follow shortly.  But the success or failure of these recommended initiatives within the Teachers' Unions and their wholly owned subsidiary - the State Legislature - will determine whether public school teachers continue to deserve their ranking with tobacco companies regarding the health of this nation.

GS

Major restructuring recommended for schools
Published 12/04/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 11/30/2011 05:21 PM

It's time to change the way we think about public education.

That's probably the biggest take-away from a fearless report offering 134 recommendations to transform Connecticut's education system to better prepare students for life and work in today's global community.

It should be mandatory reading for anyone with a stake in public education, meaning all of us.

The work of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the report includes bold recommendations such as starting school at age 3 instead of 5, replacing teacher tenure with five-year performance-based renewable contracts, and granting local school districts taxing authority. It also recommends that the state support at least 55 percent of the cost of public education (it now covers less than half), and that there be a minimum size for school districts so that no district is too small to provide high-quality education.

That's just a small sampling of what is contained in "NextEd: Transforming Connecticut's Education System," a two-year project of the state's public school superintendents that was released last month.

"This is not the time to tinker around the edges, but to take major steps toward restructuring what we do, how we do it and who will take responsibility for improving student achievement in our state," said Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of CAPSS, in advocating for profound and fundamental changes in the state's public schools.

The report is timely. Lawmakers will convene this winter and make state education reform a priority, at the request of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. These recommendations send the message that incremental changes are not enough. Bold action will be necessary to improve public education in Connecticut.

It touches on everything from academic standards to governance, finance, teacher and administrator accountability, use of technology, school district structure and capacity, public school choice, student learning styles and needs and much, much more.

Some of it is common sense, a lot of it innovative, and some ideas, like changing teacher tenure and consolidating small districts, are sure to be controversial.

But Connecticut can no longer rest on its past laurels. The world is a more competitive, technological place today, and education must keep pace. The superintendents suggest not just fundamental changes in how children are taught, but in how curriculum is structured, including higher standards, more choices, new and better resources, and redefining the measurements of success for students and everyone else, including teachers, administrators, school boards, and even parents.

The report, which can be found at www.ctnexted.org, outlines the existing problems in Connecticut's public schools, such as racial achievement gaps and inadequate preparation of students for higher education and employment, and outlines strategies for improvement.

The expectation has always been that students will learn all they need to know in 13 years, and that's not always the case. Today's students start school with widely divergent skills and needs and some are never able to catch up. The superintendents recommend the system abandon its mid-19th-century roots and focus on universal success, not universal access.

Connecticut has a much-lauded new education commissioner, Stefan Pryor, who has just started work. It has a governor who is making education reform a priority. And now it has a thoughtful, comprehensive report from the top administrators at the state's 166 public school districts offering specific ideas to transform public education in Connecticut to meet 21st century needs.

An ambitious plan like this deserves a bold response. Not all of it will be liked or adopted, but it surely can be used as a starting point for meaningful discussion about major changes in the state's public schools.

Also relevant to this continuing sorry saga are the following references:

GS


THURSDAY, December 1, 2011

LEST WE FORGET: STAND PROUD.

GS

Italian-American.pdf


WEDNESDAY, November 30, 2011

THE REST OF THE SORRY STORY ABOUT THIS GREAT RECESSION.

GS


This is from the Huffington Post in 2009:
"The legislation was the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act (alternatively known as Gramm Leach Bliley), which allowed banks to merge with insurance companies and investment houses. And Dorgan was, at the time, on a proverbial island with his concerns. Only eight senators would vote against the measure -- lionized by its proponents, including senior staff in the Clinton administration and many now staffing President Obama, as the most important breakthrough in the worlds of finance and politics in decades.  ...  Nevertheless, the bill did not lack champions, many of whom declared that the original legislation -- forged during the Great Depression -- was both antiquated and cumbersome for the banking industry. Congress had tried 11 times to repeal Glass-Steagall. The twelfth was the charm.  ...
Ten years later, Dorgan has been vindicated. His warning that banks would become "too big to fail" has proven basically true in the wake of the current financial crisis. He seems eerily prescient for claiming then that Congress would "look back ten years time and say we should not have done this." But he wasn't entirely alone. Sens. Barbara Boxer, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Shelby, Tom Harkin and Richard Bryan also cast nay votes.
As did Sen. Russ Feingold, who, in a statement from his office, recalled that "Gramm-Leach-Bliley was just one of several bad policies that helped lead to the credit market crisis and the severe recession it helped cause."

This is from Counterpunch, an online newsletter, in September 2008:
"This disgraceful bow to the banking industry, eagerly signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1999, bears a major share of responsibility for the current banking crisis. Here’s the complete roll call of shame:
REPUBLICANS FOR (52): Abraham, Allard, Ashcroft, Bennett, Brownback, Bond, Bunning, Burns, Campbell, Chafee, Cochran, Collins, Coverdell, Craig, Crapo, DeWine, Domenici, Enzi, Frist, Gorton, Gramm (Tex.), Grams (Minn.), Grassley, Gregg, Hegel, Hatch, Helms, Hutchinson (Ark.), Hutchison (Tex.), Inhofe, Jeffords, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Mack, McConnell, Murkowski, Nickles, Roberts, Roth, Santorum, Sessions, Smith (N.H.), Smith (Ore.), Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Thomas, Thompson, Thurmond, Voinovich and Warner.DEMOCRATS FOR (38): Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Bingaman, Breaux, Byrd, Cleland, Conrad, Daschle, Dodd, Durbin, Edwards, Feinstein, Graham (Fla.), Hollings, Inouye, Johnson, Kennedy, Kerrey (Neb.), Kerry (Mass.), Kohl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Moynihan, Murray, Reed (R.L), Reid (Nev.), Robb, Rockefeller, Sarbanes, Schumer, Torricelli and Wyden.
REPUBLICANS AGAINST(1): Shelby.
DEMOCRATS AGAINST(7): Boxer, Bryan, Dorgan, Feingold, Harkin, Mikulski and Wellstone.
NOT VOTING: 2 REPUBLICANS (2): Fitzgerald (voted present) and McCain.
The House Democrats were no less enthusiastic in their endorsement of this invitation to plunder–the repeal passed there by a margin of 343-86, with the Donkey Party favoring the measure by a two-to-one margin, 138-69. Current House speaker Nancy Pelosi managed not to register a vote on this one, so great was her fear of offending her party’s corporate paymasters even though she knew passage was a sure thing."

Jan 3, 2007---Time for a reminder

Don't just skim over this, read it slowly and let it sink in..... If in doubt, check it out !!!

The day the democrats took over was not January 22nd 2009, it was actually January 3rd 2007 the day the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress.

The Democrat Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995.

For those who are listening to the liberals propagating the fallacy that everything is "Bush's Fault", think about this:

January 3rd, 2007 was the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress:

At the time:

The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77

The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%

The Unemployment rate was 4.6%

George Bush's Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB CREATION!

Remember the day...

January 3rd, 2007 was the day that Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee.

The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?

BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES!

THANK YOU DEMOCRATS for taking us from 13,000 DOW, 3.5 GDP and 4.6% Unemployment... to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FIASCOES!

(BTW: Bush asked Congress 17 TIMES to stop Fannie & Freddie - starting in 2001 because it was financially risky for the US economy).

And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA

And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie?

OBAMA and the Democrat Congress

So when someone tries to blame Bush... REMEMBER JANUARY 3rd, 2007.... THE DAY THE DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER!"

Bush may have been in the car but the Democrats were in charge of the gas pedal and steering wheel they were driving.

Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democrat Party.

Furthermore, the Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 & 2009 as well as 2010 &2011.

In that first year, they had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.

For 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid by-passed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budgets.

And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009.Let's remember what the deficits looked like during that period: (below)

If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets.

If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself.

In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that
deficit four-fold since January 20th.


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