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

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, June 29 and 30, 2012

We've got to get the truth out.  Too many media outlets have become whores.

GS

Romney’s Success Contrasts Sharply With Obama’s Record

Monday, June 25, 2012 11:01 AM

By: Ronald Kessler

Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. — Forced to ignore his own record of failure on the economy, President Barack Obama has been lashing out at Mitt Romney’s record of success.

First, Obama tried demonizing Romney’s Bain Capital, which pension funds and inventors have entrusted with $60 billion in assets. That move boomeranged when a procession of top Democrats praised Bain and its free-market approach.

Now Obama and his campaign team are trying to portray Romney as a failure as Massachusetts governor. The truth is quite the opposite.

As noted in my story "Olympics Spotlights Mitt Romney’s Turnaround Skill," Romney erased the 2002 Winter Olympics’ deficit and wound up with a surplus. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney did the same thing.

When Romney took office in 2003, Massachusetts had a $3 billion deficit. By 2005, the state had a $1 billion surplus, plus a so-called rainy day fund of another $2 billion. When Romney left office on January 4, 2006, the Bay State had a balanced budget plus the rainy day fund — all without ever raising taxes.

“It struck me that there were three courses to take — two easy, one hard,” Romney has said.

“Those courses included simply raising taxes or alternatively, borrowing money. I rejected both of those as being too hard on working families and too punitive to future generations. Instead, I chose the third, more difficult course, which was finding ways to reduce spending, cutting back government, and using every vehicle imaginable to restore fiscal discipline, allowing us in the future to invest in education, healthcare, and the environment and job creation,” he added.

Even though it was dominated by Democrats, the Massachusetts legislature gave Romney extraordinary powers to cut spending.

“What I think stands out about his relationship with the legislature is he made it a point not to demonize his political opposition,” Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s senior adviser, tells me.

“Instead of giving speeches that were critical of the Democratic leadership, he invited them into his office every week for a meeting to discuss their shared agenda for the state. And sometimes there was business to discuss, and when there wasn't, the meeting still took place. They would end up talking about the last movie they saw,” Fehrnstrom said.

Having grown up five blocks from where Romney and his wife Ann lived in Belmont, Mass., and having been a Boston Herald reporter, I know firsthand the problems Romney faced. Massachusetts is heavily unionized. Whether because of union work rules or pure laziness, typically two workers watched, leaning on their shovels, as three other workers dug holes for utility projects. That was accepted practice, and no one thought it strange.

Thus, Romney was not able to accomplish all that he hoped to achieve as governor. Romney found collecting tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike cost 30 cents for every dollar collected. That was in part because the toll collectors’ union contract gave them an average $56,300 a year in wages plus $9,880 in benefits.

In 2004 and 2005, Romney proposed abolishing the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and folding its operations into the Highway Department, freeing up $200 million the authority keeps in an escrow account as required by the terms of the bonds it sold. The idea was to stop collecting tolls on most or all of the highway, where tie-ups at toll booths could snake for miles. The legislature — 87 percent controlled by Democrats — refused to go along.

Lately, Obama’s campaign has been running ads claiming that Massachusetts was 47th in the country in job creation under Romney. As FactCheck.org recently pointed out, that is a distortion.

“Massachusetts’ state ranking for job growth went from 50th the year before he [Romney] took office to 28th in his final year,” FactCheck, run by the respected former Wall Street Journal reporter Brooks Jackson, states. “It was 47th for the whole of his four-year tenure, but it was improving, not declining, when he left.”

Indeed, while Romney was in office, the unemployment rate in Massachusetts fell from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent. In contrast, the national unemployment rate under Obama has increased from 7.8 percent to 8.2 percent. In contrast to Romney’s record of surpluses, the federal debt under Obama has increased by $5 trillion.

Because of a hostile press, we rarely get the real facts. As noted in my story "Media Play Games With Bain’s Success," the press has put free enterprise on trial by attacking Romney’s record at Bain Capital with fallacious statistics.

At a National Review Online anniversary party, Romney began a short speech by telling the guests, “I come from a city where there are two factions in the media: the Hillary-loving Kennedy apologists on the one side, and the liberals on the other.”

The same could be said for the national press.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA.


THURSDAY, June 28, 2012

MORE ON OBAMA-CARE.

GS

DATE:           June 28, 2012
FROM:
           Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, US Conference of Catholic Bishops

BISHOPS RENEW PLEA TO CONGRESS AND ADMINISTRATION TO REPAIR AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Supreme Court decision does not address fundamental flaws in the law

 Legislation still needed to fix conscience, abortion funding, immigration problems

WASHINGTON-Today the United States Supreme Court issued a decision upholding as a tax the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan-the so-called "individual mandate."

            For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.  Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB's position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.  The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.

            First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy.  The risk we identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of "high risk" insurance pools that would have covered abortion.

            Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context.  We have provided extensive analyses of ACA's defects with respect to both abortion and conscience.  The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA's new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS's "preventive services" mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.

            Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly.  ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money.  This undermines the Act's stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need.

            Following enactment of ACA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today.  The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above.  We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The USSC, OBAMA-CARE, AND YOU.

OBAMA-CARE SURVIVES...OR DOES IT?
A VICTORY FOR THE PRESIDENT'S RE-ELECTION...OR IS IT?

The U.S. Supreme Court did what it is supposed to do, and also what it does regularly:

And now, President Obama and his ultra-liberal cabal must defend this behemoth against many public adversaries...and especially against the legitimate charge of being economic idiocy, both at the micro- and macro- levels. 

If the Republican Party cannot articulate clear arguments against this law and for proper health care reform, they deserve to lose in November, at all levels of government.  

My bet: President Obama will come to rue this holding by the USSC.

GS

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I ENDORSE THIS STATEMENT. PLEASE SEE MY PRIOR POSTING ENTITLED: HEALTH CARE REFORM: A PRIMER.

GS

From Reince Priebus
Chairman
Republican National Committee


Today, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. While this may come as a devastating blow to the millions of Americans who rallied against the government's infringement on their health care and basic freedoms - the fight's not over. It has just begun.

We can't afford Obamacare.  

Obamacare hurts the economy, limits Americans' choice in health care, and interferes with the doctor-patient relationship. Hidden among the 2,700 pages of Obamacare crafted behind closed doors is a web of new government rules and regulations liberals disguised as cost cutting measures. In reality, health care costs continue to rise, and Obamacare will cost taxpayers trillions in new federal spending.

America needs real health care reform, and that means repealing Obamacare.

We need market-based solutions that give patients more choice, not less. The answer to rising health care costs is not, and never will be, Big Government. We must protect Americans' access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. We must enact commonsense, step-by-step reforms based on the free market and not dictated by government bureaucrats.

Without a change of leadership, Americans will continue to suffer.

Today's Supreme Court decision sets the stakes for the November election. Now, the only way to save the country from Obamacare's budget-busting government takeover of our health care and intrusion on our basic freedoms is to elect Republicans who understand the economy, respect free enterprise, and can provide the leadership we need.

There's still much more to do - the stakes are too high. On November 6, we must elect Mitt Romney and Republican candidates and put America on the path toward a brighter economic future and successful health care reform.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The following is the homily offered by Rev. Mark O'Donnell, Pastor of St Joseph Parish in New London Ct. on Sunday, June 24, 2012.  The message is all the more important in view of the action of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Obama-Care.

GS


Solemnity of St. John the Baptist
Faith, Fortitude and the Fortnight for Freedom

by Fr. Mark O'Donnell

*** “He must increase but I must decrease”
-Those simple, direct words of St. John The Baptist, whose feast we
celebrate today, summarize the life of the Christian disciple.
-In all things, we want Jesus to increase and our own will, our own
desires, our own attachments, to decrease.
-In my heart, in my prayer, in my family, in my parish, in my work, in
my study, in my leisure, in my entertainment, may the Lord Jesus
increase.
-In our common life together as Americans, in our civil society, in our
politics-may the Lord Jesus increase!
-In the time of Jesus, the king decreased the space for the things of
God; he did not want to hear the voice of religious truth, he did not
want to permit the preachers the freedom to preach.
-St. John the Baptist refused to acquiesce to the kings unjust
demands. For his fidelity he was imprisoned and beheaded.
-So were John Fisher and Thomas More, all because they stood firm
in their faith and in the truth they were cut down and beheaded.
-The Lord Jesus tells us that John the Baptist is the greatest of all
born of woman. Perhaps, his greatest virtue was his fortitude.
-He was truly fearless in his preaching. John the Baptist was
martyred for speaking the truth about the king, and from him we have
much to learn about fortitude in defense of our faith, and in defense of
our freedoms.

***The Catholic Bishops of the U.S. have declared a Fortnight for
Freedom, asking Catholics to engage in a “great hymn of prayer for
our country” and a “national campaign of teaching and witness for
religious liberty”.
-Our Bishops have asked us to look to the great saints of Catholic
history whose courage we can emulate.
-The fortnight began on June 21st, the vigil of the Feast of Saints John
Fisher and Thomas More, who, like John the Baptist, were beheaded
by a king who desired them not to speak the truth about the Church
and the sacred bond of marriage of which I celebrated two wonderful
sacramental marriages yesterday of two couples in two different
churches.
-During this coming week we celebrate the Feast of Saints Peter and
Paul, who likewise were martyred by the Roman Emperor for their
preaching of Jesus Christ. And the fortnight concludes on July 4th,
the day when we celebrate our American Liberty.
-Our first, most cherished liberty as Americans is religious freedom.
-It is the first freedom enumerated in the First Amendment. It is the
foundation of all our freedoms, for if Americans are not free in their
consciences, in their religious faith, in their corporal works of mercy,
then all our freedoms are fragile.
-When the government commands us to do what God commands us
not to do, the American heritage of freedom is threatened.
-And the response of the Christian citizen as we learned vividly in the
example of Revered Martin Luther King, Jr. is to refuse to obey an
unjust law.
-Our Bishops have identified several attacks on religious liberty. ------
-Recently, enacted federal regulations dictate what purpose a church
must have and try to define what a church must be before the federal
government will defend our right to religious freedom.
-Recently enacted state legislation includes measures that outlaw any
kind of spiritual and charitable assistance given by the Church to
undocumented immigrants.

***When the government says that we must do what our faith forbids
us to do, or when it says we cannot do what our faith mandates us to
do, then we too might be called to have the courage of John the
Baptist to refuse those unjust orders. It is a stark question that we
face: Shall the government increase, and Jesus decrease?

***The Fortnight for Freedom reminds us that our liberty is not
something we have invented for ourselves, much less is it the
largesse of the government. It is God’s gift. We have been set free
in Christ Jesus for freedom. The genius of the American experiment
in ordered liberty is that it recognized this.
-As Catholics and Americans we insist again upon that recognition.
We insist today as John the Baptist insisted before King Herod; we
insist today as Peter and Paul insisted before the Emperor Nero; we
insist today as Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More insisted
before King Henry VIII, Grant us freedom or give me death for my
faith, and beliefs.
-We pray then, calling upon the intercession of John the Baptist, for
all branches and levels of government, that our religious liberties be
kept intact.
-More urgent though we pray that all Christian disciples may have the
fortitude to stand up for our faith and our freedom.
-In standing fast for our faith, in standing fast for our freedom, we
know that we may have to suffer and to sacrifice.
-Perhaps, we may decrease. No matter in the larger scheme of
things. All that matters is that Jesus increases!!!!!!!
-May it always be so in this blessed land of Liberty. Amen.


SATURDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 23 through 27, 2012

WHAT TOOK SO LONG?

Msgr. William Lynn is the first Catholic Church cleric criminally convicted in the long and obscene story of pedophile priests and their protectors.  Meanwhile, nobody was protecting the children.  An article in The Day (www.theday.com) on Saturday, June 23, 2012 (pA7) tells the whole sordid Philadelphia Story. As for recently deceased Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, his superior who ordered his actions: "Vengeance Is Mine, Sayeth The Lord; I Shall Repay". And that goes for all of the others who took part in this flagrant obstruction of justice through the years.
We are now told that "things have changed".  Let us hope and pray for that.

GS


MONDAY through FRIDAY, June 11 through 22, 2012

"TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, AND RELATED".
No, this is not a test.  It is only the result of my being placed in a reflective mood with the report in the last 24 hours of the outcome in two criminal cases.  As usual with me, I defer any opinion regarding a criminal case until the jury has rendered its verdict.  After all, only the jury in the court room, after witnessing the testimony of all parties and witnesses, and after seeing all the evidence, is in a position to render a verdict...on the Law and on the facts.  Of course, there is also "Jury Nullification" and JNOV (Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict), both of which, although rare, raise difficult questions.

The cases are that of Jerry Sandusky and that of the Monsignor from the Philadelphia Diocese, in both of which cases the verdict was Guilty.

Now for the questions:1) Are human beings all capable of the greatest Good...and also of the greatest Evil?   Answer: True.  2) Are human beings inherently insecure, inward-looking and self-serving, especially in the absence of a Faith in God?   Answer: True.  3) Is most of the Evil in the world the result of the inaction of good people rather than the action of evil people?  Answer: True. 

So, where am I going with this?  I recently read a book entitled: "How Do You Kill 11 Million People", referring to the action of the Nazis throughout the 1930's and 1940's.  Answer: by good people doing nothing. 

This must not happen in the November, 2012 State and National elections.  This nation has reached a political and moral cross-roads - and we cannot simply "take it", ala Yogi Berra.  We must choose.  We must ALL choose by voting.  Only in that way will the outcome, whatever it is, be accepted by the losing side.  Otherwise, it will not be accepted and will lead to the further undermining of this nation, including "unrest", rioting and even revolution. 

Thus, the mission of all of us non-politicians between now and November must be to GET OUT THE VOTE.  Many Federal elections in recent decades were decided by as few as 100,000 votes - and rarely by more than 10 million votes...while over 100 million voters stayed at home.  That is outrageous and unsustainable for the greatest democracy in the world.  That is our Mission.  Start with your family; then, your neighbor; then, your City...and on. 

Do you remember that exercise we used to do in Typing class?
NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR COUNTRY.

GS


SUNDAY, June 10, 2012

Once again, a worthwhile reading list is offered for your consideration.

"Assad's Fall Is In America's Interests" by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, WSJ Thursday, June 7, 2012, pA19.  "America's Syria policy has been all wishful thinking and no national will...This devalues America's power and influence in the world, with disastrous and lasting consequences".  Amen.

GS


SATURDAY, June 9, 2012

U.S. HEALTH CARE REFORM: A PRIMER

Introduction:

As a practicing physician for 55 years, and as an attorney practicing and studying Health Care Law for the last 28 years, I have been writing and publishing on this subject for decades.  Much  of this production is available on relevant sections of my web site (www.asthma-drsprecace.com).

In fact, an early publication, dating back to 1978, could be re-published with only minor revision…reflecting how little progress our society has made in addressing the real issues of Health Care Reform. 

The “Accountable Care Act” (aka ACA and ObamaCare) is a Christmas Tree of “wants” that gives short shrift to the real needs awaiting health care reform.  As such, that ode to political expediency needs to be repealed and replaced. 

“With what”, you say.  Alright: ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING.

  1. Nearly half of health care expenditures in this country are directly life-style related: obesity, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, irresponsible motor vehicle practices, the governmental support of unhealthy personal practices like abortion, children out of wed-lock, defending failed schooling, etc.  These practices should be heavily taxed and otherwise discouraged instead of being supported as “personal choices”. 
  2. A large percentage of health care costs incurred by individuals and by society occur during the last 6 months of a person’s life.  This, while a strong majority of adults support Advanced Directives…and a small minority of them actually have such “personal choice” instructions to guide their loved ones and their physicians.  Furthermore, physicians should recognize that they have an ethical obligation to refrain from offering “futile care”. 
  3. At least 20% of health care costs represent “Defensive Medicine”, defined as actions taken by health care providers predominantly to protect themselves from allegations of “medical mal-practice” adjudicated in a lucrative and unnecessarily adversarial system.  The current practices should be replaced by Health Care Courts similar to Patent Courts and Bankruptcy Courts.  Only in that way can Justice be achieved and defensive medicine minimized. 
  4. The great need in the existing system of health care delivery is Coordination of Care among the increasing number of medical specialists and other health care providers involved in much if not most of current patient care.  Such services are time-consuming and require a broad - based knowledge of Medicine to be effective.  They can be provided by any one of a patient’s physicians who is willing and who has the necessary level of insight and expertise.  And they must be paid for adequately!
  5. There must be established and enforced – by society as a whole and not by the Medical Profession – a system of Prioritization (Rationing!)  - among the many services and potential recipients of those services.  Coverage of cosmetic surgery and of Viagra does not rise to the level in importance of immunizations.  Right now, cynical efforts are being made to force physicians to make such decisions through unethical mechanisms such as “accountable care organizations” which place a physician’s self-interest in direct opposition to the interests of his or her patients. 
  6. Payment for all medical care, subject to clearly defined exceptions for indigence and serious medical necessity, should require at a 20% co-pay by the patient.  The patient must be a serious first decision-maker in his quest for medical care.  For, once a patient enters a physician’s office, the cost is generated and the service is provided.  The physician cannot and will not be the arbiter of the “need” for the care requested – or demanded. 

A comment about the much-discussed “Electronic Medical Records”.  These have been given a very high priority and much pressure by our “leaders”…not because they are so important, but because they are the easiest of the above issues to address.  Easiest, but not in-expensive and definitely disruptive of the vital eye-to-eye physician / patient and physician / physician relationships on which all good medical care rests. 

And so, what is the prognosis of the above 6 vital areas of reform being addressed and implemented any time soon?  Poor to Grim.  Meanwhile, actions in the direction of ObamaCare and of “Universal Health Care” will produce the opposite of desired goals: lower quality, higher cost, and reduced access.    Folks, it’s your choice…and your life and livelihood.

GS


FRIDAY, June 8, 2012

Not the way to "take care of your buddies". 
Share the burdon while remediating the failed results of a school system and a society.  Re-install the Draft.

GS

Article published Jun 8, 2012 in The Day
Suicides surge among U.S. troops
By ROBERT BURNS AP National Security Writer
Experts unsure why they are dying about one a day

Washington - Suicides are surging among America's troops, averaging nearly one a day this year - the fastest pace in the nation's decade of war.

The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan - about 50 percent more - according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.

The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago. The military also is struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other misbehavior.

Because suicides had leveled off in 2010 and 2011, this year's upswing has caught some officials by surprise.

The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. Among explanations, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems. Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed.

The unpopular war in Afghanistan is winding down with the last combat troops scheduled to leave at the end of 2014. But this year has seen record numbers of soldiers being killed by Afghan troops, and there also have been several scandals involving U.S. troop misconduct.

The 2012 active-duty suicide total of 154 through June 3 compares to 130 in the same period last year, an 18 percent increase. And it's more than the 136.2 suicides that the Pentagon had projected for this period based on the trend from 2001-2011. This year's January-May total is up 25 percent from two years ago, and it is 16 percent ahead of the pace for 2009, which ended with the highest yearly total thus far.

Suicide totals have exceeded U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan in earlier periods, including for the full years 2008 and 2009.

The suicide pattern varies over the course of a year, but in each of the past five years the trend through May was a reliable predictor for the full year, according to a chart based on figures provided by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The numbers are rising among the 1.4 million active-duty military personnel despite years of effort to encourage troops to seek help with mental health problems. Many in the military believe that going for help is seen as a sign of weakness and thus a potential threat to advancement.

Kim Ruocco, widow of Marine Maj. John Ruocco, a helicopter pilot who hanged himself in 2005 between Iraq deployments, said he was unable to bring himself to go for help.

"He was so afraid of how people would view him once he went for help," she said in an interview at her home in suburban Boston. "He thought that people would think he was weak, that people would think he was just trying to get out of redeploying or trying to get out of service, or that he just couldn't hack it - when, in reality, he was sick. He had suffered injury in combat and he had also suffered from depression and let it go untreated for years. And because of that, he's dead today."

Ruocco is currently director of suicide prevention programs for the military support organization Tragedy Assistance Programs, or TAPS.

Jackie Garrick, head of a newly established Defense Suicide Prevention Office at the Pentagon, said in an interview Thursday that the suicide numbers this year are troubling.

"We are very concerned at this point that we are seeing a high number of suicides at a point in time where we were expecting to see a lower number of suicides," she said, adding that the weak U.S. economy may be confounding preventive efforts even as the pace of military deployments eases.

Garrick said experts are still struggling to understand suicidal behavior.

"What makes one person become suicidal and another not is truly an unknown," she said.

Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a retired Army brigadier general and a practicing psychiatrist, said the suicides reflect the level of tension as the U.S. eases out of Afghanistan though violence continues.

"It's a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war," he said in an interview. "We've seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison."

But Xenakis said he worries that many senior military officers do not grasp the nature of the suicide problem.

A glaring example of that became public when a senior Army general recently told soldiers considering suicide to "act like an adult."

Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division, last month retracted - but did not apologize for - a statement in his Army blog in January. He had written, "I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act." He also wrote, ""I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us." He did also counsel soldiers to seek help.

His remarks drew a public rebuke from the Army, which has the highest number of suicides and called his assertions "clearly wrong." Last week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said he disagrees with Pittard "in the strongest possible terms."

The military services have set up confidential telephone hotlines, placed more mental health specialists on the battlefield, added training in stress management, invested more in research on mental health risk and taken other measures.

The Marines established a counseling service dubbed "DStress line," a toll-free number that troubled Marines can call anonymously. They also can use a Marine website to chat online anonymously with a counselor.

The Marines arguably have had the most success recently in lowering their suicide numbers, which are up slightly this year but are roughly in line with levels of the past four years. The Army's numbers also are up slightly. The Air Force has seen a spike, to 32 through June 3 compared to 23 at the same point last year. The Navy is slightly above its 10-year trend line but down a bit from 2011.

As part of its prevention strategy, the Navy has published a list of "truths" about suicide.

"Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane," it says. "They might be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing."

In a report published in January the Army said the true impact of its prevention programs is unknown.

"What is known is that all Army populations ... are under increased stress after a decade of war," it said, adding that if not for prevention efforts the Army's suicide totals might have been as much as four times as high.

Marine Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently issued a video message to all military members in which he noted that suicides "are sadly on the rise."

"From private to general, we shoulder an obligation to look and listen for signs and we stand ready to intervene and assist our follow service member or battle buddy in time of need," Battaglia said.

The suicide numbers began surging in 2006. They soared in 2009 and then leveled off before climbing again this year. The statistics include only active-duty troops, not veterans who returned to civilian life after fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor does the Pentagon's tally include non-mobilized National Guard or Reserve members.

The renewed surge in suicides has caught the attention of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Last month he sent an internal memo to the Pentagon's top civilian and military leaders in which he called suicide "one of the most complex and urgent problems" facing the Defense Department, according to a copy provided to the AP.

Panetta touched on one of the most sensitive aspects of the problem: the stigma associated with seeking help for mental distress. This is particularly acute in the military.

"We must continue to fight to eliminate the stigma from those with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues," Panetta wrote, adding that commanders "cannot tolerate any actions that belittle, haze, humiliate or ostracize any individual, especially those who require or are responsibly seeking professional services."


TUESDAY through THURSDAY, June 5 through 7, 2012

THIS IS AN ADDENDUM TO MY ADVICE FOR THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN PARTY AND TO MITT ROMNEY...IF THEY WANT TO WIN IN NOVEMBER.
(This is in addition to my list posted as a Rapid Response, May 18-24, 2012)

REGARDING CONSERVATION AND "ADAPTIVE REUSE", (vs. reflexive "drill baby, drill" and vs Preservation for preservation's sake), see the article by Thomas L. Friedman entitled "G.(reen)O.P", Sunday Times June 3, 2012, Sunday Review, p13. 

REGARDING THE ARCTIC, THE LATEST FRONTIER FOR AMERICA, Secretary of State Clinton is in Norway talking "cooperation" among the several nations with interests and claims in that rich region.  "Cooperation"...YES.  Law of the Sea Treaty...NO. 
AND THAT GOES FOR ALL EFFORTS TO SUBORDINATE AMERICA'S NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY TO ANY OTHER GROUP...ESPECIALLY THE DYSFUNCTIONAL UNITED NATIONS.

GS

Time to Kill the Law of the Sea Treaty—Again

If the Senate ratifies it, China will have its best weapon yet to limit U.S. action in Asia.

By JOHN BOLTON And DAN BLUMENTHAL

The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST)—signed by the U.S. in 1994 but never ratified by the Senate—is showing some signs of life on Capitol Hill, even as new circumstances make it less attractive than ever. With China emerging as a major power, ratifying the treaty now would encourage Sino-American strife, constrain U.S. naval activities, and do nothing to resolve China's expansive maritime territorial claims.

At issue is China's intensified effort to keep America's military out of its "Exclusive Economic Zone," a LOST invention that affords coastal states control over economic activity in areas beyond their sovereign, 12-mile territorial seas out to 200 miles. Properly read, LOST recognizes exclusive economic zones as international waters, but China is exploiting the treaty's ambiguities to declare "no go" zones in regions where centuries of state practice clearly permit unrestricted maritime activity.

Take the issues of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, both by air and sea. LOST is silent on these subjects in the exclusive zones, so China claims it can regulate (meaning effectively prohibit) all such activity. Beijing also brazenly claims—exploiting Western green sensibilities—that U.S. naval vessels pollute China's exclusive zone, pollution being an activity the treaty permits coastal states to regulate out to 24 miles.

China wants to deny American access to its nearby waters so it can have its way with its neighbors. Beijing is building a network of "anti-access" and "area denial" weapons such as integrated air defenses, submarines, land-based ballistic and cruise missiles, and cyber and anti-satellite systems designed to make it exceedingly hazardous for American ships and aircraft to traverse China's exclusive zone or peripheral seas.

If the Senate ratifies the treaty, we would become subject to its dispute-resolution mechanisms and ambiguities. Right now, since we are the world's major naval power, our conduct dominates state practice and hence customary international law—to our decided advantage.

This dispute is not really about law. China simply does not want the U.S. military to gather intelligence near its shores. And other nations quietly support China's position, including Russia, Iran, Brazil and India. Given China's incessant incursions into the exclusive zones of other Asian nations such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, these states may seek to restrict international maritime activities in their exclusive zones as well, further complicating U.S. efforts.

All Washington wants is to continue doing what it has been doing since it became a maritime power: use its Navy to enhance international peace and security, deter conflict, reassure allies, and collect intelligence. LOST undercuts these strategic imperatives, and that is why it has always been a bad idea for the U.S.—a formula for endless legal maneuvering and the submission of conflicting claims to the treaty's international tribunal, where our prospects are uncertain at best.

One hopes India and Japan will stop reflexively supporting LOST. They have significant alternatives to check China's growing power, including closer cooperation with the United States. The treaty is not an answer—it is only a beguiling, flawed escape hatch from the hard work America and others must do to meet China's challenge.

That hard work must include properly funding and equipping the Navy and exercising it in China's exclusive zones, including especially on intelligence missions, based on long-established state practice. Together with diplomacy to prevent nascent conflicts from escalating, these steps will reassure allies of full U.S. support in resolving disputes with China.

Mr. Bolton served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006. Mr. Blumenthal was a senior country director for China and Taiwan in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Both are fellows at the American Enterprise Institute.


MONDAY, June 4, 2012

DO WE DARE HOPE FOR CHANGE?
Stay tuned...for the cooperation - or continued obstructionism - of the teachers' unions.

GS

Article published Jun 3, 2012 in The Day
New London a great place to start state education reform
Paul Choiniere
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was able to get his education reform bill through the legislature, in the process reaching a compromise with the state's powerful teachers unions that takes a deliberative approach to implementing performance evaluation policies.
Then this past week Connecticut received its gold star for education reform policy - a federal exemption to the federal No Child Left Behind requirements. Appearing at the state Capitol to deliver the good news was U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The waiver means that the U.S. Department of Education has concluded the state's reform plans, if implemented successfully, can turn around low-performing schools by providing them the necessary support, raising standards and improving teaching.
Duncan said the effort to meet the "proficiency" required by NCLB led to a dumbing down of standards and a narrowing of curriculum. Nearly half of state schools were failing to meet the federal performance standard.
The NCLB law needs major changes, but like most matters it is stalled in Congress. In the meantime a waiver is the only means for a state to avoid tying up time and resources trying to meets its arbitrary standards, rather than getting about the task of truly reforming public education.
So now that the governor has his education reform law and his waiver, he needs to show some success. I have a suggestion for him - New London.
It is no secret many of the city's students are struggling. New London ranks among the four lowest-performing school districts in the state, with the sixth lowest high school graduation rate. Yet because of its relative small size, as compared with struggling school districts in places like New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford, an aggressive intervention by the state in New London could provide quick results.
The state is well aware of New London's struggles. State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor recently sat down with the city's Board of Education to go over a state audit that raised concerns about the governance and management of the district.
Yet New London has some things going for it that hold out the prospect of significant student progress in a relatively short time, just the kind of thing proponents of the education reform package need to demonstrate its effectiveness.
Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer has overseen the implementation of tougher teacher evaluation standards and sought to clarify for teachers what effective instruction lookes like. As the state continues to formulate the teacher evaluation program called for in the legislation, it could look to New London to test it.
New London's Winthrop Magnet Elementary STEM School - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - will open next school year, while the Nathan Hale Magnet Elementary School for Performing and Visual Arts opens the following year, both built largely with state funding. The opening of these innovative schools adds to the potential for rapid progress in New London. The Science & Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut, adjacent to the high school, has proved a success.
New London is the perfect place to aggressively pursue the parent outreach and involvement called for in the education reform plan. Its a place where the state can get big results for a relatively small investment.
If state officials are looking for a manageable test case, New London can be it. It has established a literacy standard for graduation, and made progress in improving school safety. A foundation is there to build on.
New London needs to accelerate progress in turning its struggling schools around, while the Malloy administration would like some genuine educational success to point to before the next gubernatorial election. Sounds like the perfect match.
Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.


FRIDAY through SUNDAY June 1 through 3, 2012

..."not in the contemplation of the parties" (alla "Hadley vs Baxendale") who drafted the U.S. Constitution.  Civil Union, YES; Marriage, NO.

GS

Article published Jun 3, 2012 in The Day
Conn. should welcome the end of DOMA

A federal appeals court acted appropriately this week in finding unconstitutional a 1996 federal law that restricts the ability of same-sex couples in Connecticut and other states from obtaining the rights and privileges provided other legally married couples.
Unfortunately, such couples will not see an immediate benefit. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston issued a stay of its decision, anticipating that the Supreme Court will take up the case. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the subject of the court's ruling, denies various federal benefits to individuals in lawfully recognized same-sex marriages or civil unions.
DOMA prohibits legally married same-sex couples from filing joint federal income tax returns. It stops a spouse in a same-sex union from receiving a Social Security death benefit. DOMA forces a surviving spouse in such a marriage to pay an estate tax on an inheritance that for other widowers is tax free. It prevents same-sex military families from receiving the same treatment and benefits as their straight counterparts. And it allows corporations to discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages when it comes to providing spousal benefits.
It is a bad law, and Congress should repeal it. But short of that, the Supreme Court should find it unconstitutional.
President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996 when he was seeking re-election. The law sought to discourage states from giving legal status to same-sex couples. Signing it helped burnish Mr. Clinton's moderate credentials. The same political calculation led Mr. Clinton to approve the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allowed gay individuals to serve in the military as long as they kept their mouths shut.
President Barack Obama was able to persuade Congress to abandon that policy and, as a result, homosexual members of the military can now serve without having to hide or lie about a major part of who they are.
The Obama administration likewise refused to defend the constitutionality of DOMA. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives took up the cause, appointing a group called the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to defend it.
The irony is thick. Republicans, who like to characterize themselves as the party of state rights, lined up in defense of a law that seeks to force states to bend to the federal government's will.
Until DOMA, the federal government had never challenged the authority of states to define marriage. States have different ages of consent, different restrictions on marriages within families, different requirements to get a marriage license. But however the states defined marriage, Congress recognized its legal status when it came to federal policies and benefits.
In writing the appellate court's decision, Judge Michael Boudin noted the unprecedented and unconstitutional attempt by Congress "to put a thumb on the scales and influence a state's decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws."
By the way, the Judge Boudin was appointed by a Republican - President George H.W. Bush.
There is reason for optimism that the Supreme Court will follow the appellate court's lead. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who will quite possibly cast the deciding vote, has written prior decisions advancing gay rights. The First Circuit ruling relied on the logic found in Justice Kennedy's earlier decisions.
Marriage between two males or two females is legal in the District of Columbia and six states, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, as well as Connecticut. It is set to become legal in Washington next week and in Maryland in January, but in each state the implementation could be delayed by opponents placing the question on the November ballot.
Other states have legalized domestic partnerships and civil unions for such couples, including New Jersey, Illinois, Delaware, Rhode Island and Hawaii, largely providing the same rights as marriage, without the name.
Once again a court has used the Constitution's civil rights bulwark, the equal protection clause, to prevent unequal treatment toward one class of people - same-sex married couples. The Supreme Court should follow the lead of the First Circuit.


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