George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New
RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section. It will
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
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
campaign must maintain to be effective. But the mission will
be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick",
by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.
That's all I promise.
This is one of the very best emails I have EVER received where it
gently explains the difference in thinking between people with opposite
A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so
many others her age, she considered herself to be very liberal, and
among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to
support more government programs, in other words redistribution of
She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch
conservative, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures
that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor,
she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire
to keep what he thought should be his.
One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher
taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs.
The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be
the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking
how she was doing in school.
Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and
let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was
taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which
left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She
didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many
college friends because she spent all her time studying.
Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing?"
She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy
classes, she never studies and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so
popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to
all the parties and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes
because she's too hung over."
Her wise father asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's
office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your
friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and
certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."
The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired
back, "That's a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I've worked really
hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard
work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played
while I worked my tail off!"
The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, "Welcome to the
conservative side of the fence."
If you ever wondered what side of the fence you sit on, this is a great
If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal
doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is
a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his
situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal
non-believer wants any mention of God and Jesus silenced.
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping
for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that
the rest of us pay for his.
TUESDAY, August 23 through 29, 2012
don't think you can
make this up. Remember what I labeled Obama during the 2008
campaign? "The Manchurian Candidate". Look it up on my
Rapid Response section of my web site.
SUNDAY through WEDNESDAY, August
19 through 22, 2012
clear call-out to many "Republicans".
If the Republican Party can't stand against Abortion, it can't stand
published Aug 22, 2012 Akin's
comments bring abortion to campaign
The outrageous, ignorant comments of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a
Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, were a reminder that the
right of women to decide in private consultation with doctors whether
to continue with a pregnancy is under greater threat than anytime since
the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
While national Republican leaders are expressing shock at Rep.
Akin's comments, made on a local television news show, the
uncomfortable truth for the GOP is that Akin's core beliefs on the
issue of abortion are in line with a large portion of the party's base
and its leadership. And in particular they line up with the policies
pursued by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., the party's presumptive vice
During his interview Rep. Akin, when asked whether he would outlaw
abortion even for rape victims, repeated a myth that has made the
rounds in the anti-abortion movement for years, a twisted fairy tale
that suggests pregnancy from rape just doesn't happen, or at least
"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut
that whole thing down," said Rep. Akin. Conversely, if a woman does get
pregnant, it suggests perhaps the rape was not "legitimate," but
something she really wanted, or so would seem to go Rep. Akin's bizarre
logic. No doesn't always mean no, right?
Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and
reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, aptly characterized
Rep. Akin's suggestion that women cannot get pregnant during rape as
A 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
estimated that about 32,000 pregnancies result from rape each year and
placed the national rape-related pregnancy rate at 5 percent among
women ages 12 to 45.
It would be easy to dismiss Rep. Akin's comments as coming from some
lunatic fringe, and certainly the Republican establishment wants him to
quit and go away, except that he doesn't represent the fringe.
Rep. Ryan, the party's VP candidate, and Rep. Akin were among the
co-sponsors of the 2011 "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" that in
its original form would have prohibited federal funding unless "the
pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an
act of forcible rape …"
In this context "forcible" and "legitimate" rape are arguably one in
the same, both suggesting that some rapes aren't really rapes. The Hyde
Amendment already bans federal abortion funding except for "an act of
rape or incest."
The bigger context, however, is the Republican drive to outlaw
The soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has
given every indication that given the opportunity he would further
strengthen the Supreme Court's conservative majority and bring it
closer to the possibility of reversing Roe v Wade. Across the country
Republican state legislatures have approved a variety of restrictions
on access to abortion, including requiring invasive procedures to
discourage women. Any of these could become a test case. The
Republican-controlled House has also taken up several measures aimed at
limiting access to abortion.
This is an election about more than jobs and the economy. Large and
vocal sections of the electorate want to return to a time when abortion
was illegal. CNN reported that the Republican Party's draft platform
includes a plank to "support a human life amendment to the Constitution
and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment's
protections apply to unborn children."
If extended to fetuses, the amendment's due process clause
prohibiting state and local governments from depriving persons of life,
liberty, or property would seemingly trump state laws and state
constitutional pro-choice protections and allow no exceptions for rape
or incest. The draft platform also includes a "salute" to state efforts
to restrict access to abortions.
The trouble for Mr. Romney is not that Rep. Akins views are so far
outside the Republican mainstream, but that they are so close.
SATURDAY, August 18, 2012
"STUPIDO, STUPIDO, STUPIDO." (aka
If there ever was a quote that caught the tenor of these times, this is
(remember "A Fish Called Wanda"?) And, after this
introduction, you are looking for tempered
remarks..."fuggedaboudet". The following are gleaned from just
one edition of The Day (www.theday.com),
August 17, 2012.
"Special Master: Schools In
Peril", referring to the chronic dismal status of public
schools in New London, although applicable to most urban public schools
as well as some suburban schools. AND WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
My reply: NOT ONE MORE CENT. If these "educators" can't get
better results with the generous funding they have been receiving for
decades, the schools should be "taken over". There must be some
actual educators, somewhere. SSS.
Throughout the Middle East...and
the world...Muslim communities: Sunni vs Shiite. Could this
still, after 1,200 years, be about a difference of opinion regarding
the transfer of leadership after the death of Mohammed? SSS.
Iraq. They have been
given their chance at democracy...and they have their choice. I
can live with whatever ensues.
Afghanistan. Now, that I
can't abide. Obama cutting and running as terrorists shoot us in
the back. Back to the drawing board...and to the reality of our
necessary place in that part of the world - in our strategic
Syria. If we can talk at
all about a "world community of nations" and people, when does a
nation's leadership lose its legitimacy and require world intervention?
Syria is that nation. And Obama and Turkey should have acted
sooner to protect a city of over 2 million people, near the border with
Turkey, as well as to destabilize the regime. Don't tell me that
we don't have the means. SSS
What is this Kabuki Dance that Mitt
Romney is doing with his "tax returns". Does he and his Wall
Street followers think that the people don't know how the Tax Code is
skewed in favor of big money? Instead of playing into the hands
of the Democratic playbook, he should give the nation a long-needed
tutorial on how the Code really works, complete with all the warts for
the little guy. He has had no obligation to pay more than the
Code requires. And he might well be thanked for proposing
effective changes to that Code, undoubtedly at his and his friends'
expense. Maybe, as a result, the people would finally wake up and
force some changes. SSS
And while we're berating Romney
and the dysfunctional national Republican Party, whom I
nevertheless support...given the alternative...what a master-stroke to
reject out of hand the thrust of the "Dream Act" for some children of
illegal aliens in this country, thereby allowing Obama to take a
reasonable action and the attendant credit and votes of a massive
Latino electorate. SSS
New Flash: In Dallas, Texas, a
seventh grade 12 year old has been denied entry into the Pee Wee
football program. PS. He is 6 ft tall and 300 pounds.
"Teens View Oral Sex As Safer
Than Intercourse". (I kid you not.) What the
Hell!!! "Two-thirds of U.S. teenagers and young adults ages
15 to 24 have had oral sex, according to U.S. researchers..." Is
that the pedantic result of all the highly vaunted "Sex Education and
Hygiene" classes thrust upon willing and unwilling parents and students
alike in recent decades? SSS
The Editorial in The Day entitled " Too
Many Commanders Falling Short"rightly bemoans the fact that
"over the last three years more than 50 officers have been relieved
of duty while in command of a Navy ship..." Then the writer
asks: "Are there lessons the Navy can learn from these cases that
could lead to improvements in preparing officers for command?" Well,
Yes. But it's not from the preparation, but from the selection, and
from expanding the pool of potential leaders beyond volunteers.
Re-instate the Draft . Recognize that some of the veterans of the Viet
Nam War, of the culture wars of the 1970's, and of the "Me" generation
since then are damaged goods and are not suited to leadership
positions. Want more evidence? Look at the Tillman
cover-up. Look at the handling of the murderous Muslim Major at
Fort Hood before he acted. Folks, our Military is in trouble, and
mainly from the top. And more money won't fix that. SSS
Finally, some good news, still in the same newspaper edition,
negative spin given to the piece by the headline writer of this
Present, But Ryan's The Future", by
Charles Krauthammer. Folks, there's
real HOPE...but it all depends on what you do on November 6,
it be "SSS" all over again, or not? Your choice.
FRIDAY, August 17, 2012
example of my
observation: THERE ARE THREE KINDS OF LIARS: LIARS; DAMNED LIARS; AND
GOVERNMENT, IN THIS CASE THE "WORLD GOVERNMENT" AS WELL AS OUR OWN.
Disability Rights Treaty Loses U.S.
Support Over Abortion
by Wendy Wright |
LifeNews.com | 8/16/12 6:19 PM
Washington, DC (CFAM/LifeNews) — U.S.
ratification of a UN treaty is stumbling due to a problem that has
hounded the treaty since its beginning: does “sexual and reproductive
health” include abortion?
The Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities (CRPD) is encountering resistance from senators,
congressmen and groups who fear it will undermine national sovereignty,
that its vagueness will harm those it ought to protect like disabled
pre-born babies, and intrude on established rights, such as those of
A letter of opposition circulating among
the leading American pro-life groups is expected to be delivered in the
coming days to the U.S. Senate.
The letter explains how UN officials and
advocates misuse UN documents to expand rights and pressure countries
on abortion – despite an unambiguous record of UN member states
rejecting abortion during the negotiations and adoption of these
While the Disabilities Treaty is the
first hard law treaty to include the term “sexual and reproductive
health,” there is plenty of evidence that the drafters do not consider
abortion a part of the definition. First, the term is used in the
document only as a category of non-discrimination. Additionally,
negotiators gave repeated assurances throughout the negotiations and
adoption that the treaty does not include a right to abortion.
The Chairman of the negotiations called
concerns over UN committees taking advantage of the phrase to mean
abortion “invalid” because the delegates did not intend to create any
new human rights. At another point the chairman polled the room, asking
if anyone believed the proposed treaty created any new rights. No
country said yes.
The chairman also stressed that the traveaux
preparatoire (legislative history) would guide future
interpretations of the treaty. A footnote was added to that text
stating, “The Ad Hoc Committee notes that the use of the phrase ‘sexual
and reproductive health services’ would not constitute recognition of
any new international law obligations or human rights.”
When the UN General Assembly adopted the
CRPD in 2006, fifteen nations stated that abortion is excluded from
“sexual and reproductive health” or that the treaty does not create new
rights. No nation contradicted this.
However concerns remain. Neither the
legislative history nor the footnotes are actually in the document and
therefore can easily be ignored.
What’s more, since the treaty came into
force abortion advocates maintain the term includes abortion and that
the treaty created a new right.
In 2010, UNFPA’s Thoraya Obaid told an audience that ”reproductive health” is a
“right” that was most recently enshrined in the Disabilities treaty,
which includes the phrase “sexual and reproductive health.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) trumpets the “(Disability Rights Convention) is
the first comprehensive international human rights instrument to
specifically identify the right to reproductive and sexual health as a
human right.” CRR believes reproductive rights and health
UNFPA and CRR briefings with UN treaty committees, the agenda
listed “denial of reproductive healthcare services, including abortion”
among “reproductive rights violations.”
Attempts to “evolve” the definition
prompted diplomats to reject “reproductive rights” at the Rio+20 summit because it has come to be “a
code at the UN for abortion.”
This conflict was reflected at a U.S.
Senate hearing in July on the disability treaty. Pro-abortion senators
gutted an amendment clarifying the treaty is
abortion-neutral, stating it was unnecessary. It is expected the U.S.
Senate will vote on ratification sometime this Fall.
TUESDAY through THURSDAY, August
14 through 16, 2012
"VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAYETH THE LORD. I SHALL REPAY".
Physicians reaffirm status of fetus
Life begins at birth, say MDs concerned about renewal of abortion debate
By Sharon Kirkey, Postmedia News
The organization representing Canada's
doctors says life begins when a baby emerges from its mother's womb.
Delegates to the Canadian Medical Association's annual general council
meeting Wednesday supported keeping a section of the Criminal Code that
declares a child becomes a human being at the moment of birth.
Their move comes after concerns a private member's motion in Parliament
could be a back door to criminalizing abortion and the doctors who
Conservative MP Stephen Wood-worth tabled his motion this spring. It
has been regarded as a move to reopen the abortion debate.
The motion seeks to create a House of Commons committee to review the
Criminal Code section that declares a child becomes a human being "when
it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has continually said his government will
not bring forward abortion legislation. With some top Conservative
cabinet ministers saying they will vote against Woodworth's motion, it
appears assured a death in the Commons when debate resumes in the fall.
"This attempt to modify the definition of a human being could legally
recognize the fetus, which would give the fetus rights," said Montreal
physician Dr. Genevieve Desbiens. "This constitutes a
recriminalization, not only of abortion, but any form of contraception.
"We must ensure women seeking to terminate pregnancy and the doctors
who support them and want to help them are not criminalized."
She said it's urgent for doctors to exert pressure on the government
"so this motion has no chance of being passed and the debate is not
"I'm not asking if you are for or against abortion. I'm asking for you
to recognize that women must retain their full and complete rights,"
she said to applause.
Ontario physician Dr. John Ludwig warned the group against "unintended
consequences." He said the criminal code is "ancient and needs to be
"If an assailant plunged a knife in the 38-week gestational belly of
your spouse, we would all consider that murder. But the Criminal Code
says that, because that fetus did not leave the body alive, it doesn't
have any rights.
"We need a new policy that somewhat more balances the rights for women
to have a therapeutic abortion when they wish, up to 20 weeks, and then
protects the life of that child from 20 weeks on, once it's able to
live on its own upon delivery from the womb."
Dr. Carole Williams, of Victoria, said the private member's motion "is
a back door way for government to reopen Roe versus Wade, the 1973
decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
"It's inappropriate to have government intervention into control of
our-selves, our bodies and our children."
THIS WEEK, FEAST...NO FAMINE IN THE NEWS.
following observations relate mainly to news stories found in the
12 edition of the New York Times. (Yes, I do read it...on
The choice by Mitt Romney of Paul
Ryan as his running mate guarantees a clear choice between
personal dependence / national decline...and personal independence /
More on the US economy. See the
book entitled "Betrayal". See also the article in the above
edition of the NYTimes regarding the forecasting by the founder of
Vanguard. Prognosis: somewhere between guarded and grim,
depending on the coming election.
The Race is On: East Coast Submarines
taking the Arctic route to the South China trouble-spots...and the West
Coast subs going across the Pacific. I'm guessing, but I'll bet
More on gun violence, this time from
Medical types. Just remember two things: 1) guns don't kill;
people kill people; and 2) the U.S. Supreme Court has recently made it
quite clear that gun ownership is a Constitutional Right of individual
American citizens and not only of "militias".
More stories about the very poor way
Veterans are being treated...as distinguished from the glorious
photo-ops favored by the hypocritical politicians of all stripes.
"Trust In The Digital Age"...NOT!!
Severe Drought. A present and
future danger for many years to come, according to the scientists.
The U.S., concerned most recently
about "human rights" in Russia. A fool's errand, unless we are
willing to make economic interaction with rogue nations entirely
dependent on their adherence to human rights...at considerable cost to
us. Ready for this? I doubt it.
Romney and Mormonism. Have we
just regressed 50 years back to the Kennedy run? Nonsense.
Now, if he were an avowed Atheist (all of whom I consider certifiable),
that would be different.
Afghanistan and Viet Nam. The
parallels are starting to come in hot and heavy. The only difference -
I THINK - is that we are not being lied to with such damnable abandon
as was the case with Viet Nam. And I recently reported on my
thoughts regarding "nation-building".
The NYTimes Magazine has an important
article on sexually "fluid" children. Not a choice. Not a rarity.
Not easy for parent and child. And critical to the eventual development
of the adult. Recommended reading.
And that perennial favorite:
rebuilding America's schools...worse than a "fixer-uper". A hint: the
kids are not stupid - the "educators" are, and craven to boot.
Setting goals and expectations low, a decades-long crime in the
schools, is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Kids are ready for a lot
more than that which has been expected from them.
Paul Ryan for Vice President... NOW, THAT WILL
Baseball games can sometimes be won by playing "little-ball".
But this 2012 national election is a time for swinging for the
Too much is at stake.
In that regard, the Editorial of the WSJ on Thursday, August 9, at
day before word of this selection had begun to get out, was either
previewed to the WSJ ("Why Not Paul Ryan?", Opinion,
pA10). It's a good read.
On the central topic of "...the Economy, stupid", three
sources are suggested:
"BAILOUT...",by Neil Barofsky,
listed in this section recently;
"The Price of Inequality"
by Joseph E. Stiglitz, W.W.Norton, reviewed in the NYTimes Book Review,
Sunday August 5, 2012, p23;
"The Romney Hood Fairy Tale",
Editorial, WSJ Wednesday August 8, 2012, pA14.
if you are too anxious and depressed to
think clearly about yourselves at this critical time in our nation's
think about your children and their grandchildren.
FRIDAY, August 10, 2012
Muslim World Cauldron.
Afghanistan. Pakistan. Iran. Iraq. Syria. Lebanon. Egypt. African
nations. All volcanoes in various stages of eruption. And
Sunni vs Shia. Old vs Young. Despotism vs democratic impulses. Men vs
Women. Clerics vs Seculars. And all fighting while bound at
waist by a Religion subject to many interpretations and by Sharia Law
of accommodating to changes in the world over the last 500 years.
Periodically during the last century, America has entered that
mainly out of self-interest and more recently out of more altruistic
ie."nation-building". Each time we have see our efforts
wasted...except when we have supported secular despots.
We have ostensibly given up that strategy; and we have suffered dearly
What to do? The Muslim volcano must and will erupt. We must
sure not to be Pompey. How? Disengage. Keep our
Notify everyone that "pre-emptive self-defense" is alive and well and
will be implemented with abandon against any enemy or supporter of our
without or within our borders. And Watch...and Wait.
This is not Isolationism. It is Realism. This is a battle
be waged by Muslims for themselves. The alternative is a
un-holy world war between Muslims and the rest of the world, a war that
fought, not in distant theaters of action, but on every street-corner
nation. And the only "winners" will be the dead.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
OF PRACTICING PHYSICIANS.
Now I've got your attention. So please read the article in the
entitled "Doctor Pay and Social Priorities" by John Schnapp,
Friday July 20, 2012, Opinion, pA11.
And now, let's do a little arithmetic.
A primary care physician, internist or pediatrician works between 60-80
per week. He nets, after professional expenses and before taxes,
$150,000. and $200,000 per year, including a two week vacation if he or
That comes to $50. per hour.
Do you think that's too much for his professional and personal care of
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SUGGESTION IS DEFINITELY NOT BEDSIDE READING. TOO
An Inside Account Of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While
Rescuing Wall Street", by Neil Barofsky, Free Press / Simon And
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
MOVIE REVIEW - AND MEDICAL CRITIQUE.
Having been turned off by the preview of "HOPE SPRINGS", I had
to give two great actors like Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones another
Result: If you accept the basic premise at face value, it's a great
great acting by both. And that should be enough for any adult to
understanding that it is loaded with "adult themes".
But I'm not "any adult". My diagnosis of the husband includes
one or more of the following maladies:
Acute and Chronic "Whus" Disorder
secondary to overexposure to The Feminist Movement.
The first three are easily diagnosed and treated. The last is
nature of PTSD and would require long-term "talk
My recommendation for the wife: THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
serious. It also may be a cynical ploy by our Government
counter Senator Blumenthal's recent strong objection to the GSA
to sell Plum Island, a great 800 acre site for human visitation and
species' habitation, to the highest privte bidder.
Sounds Machiavellian. You're darn right!
There are three kinds of liars; Liars; Damned Liars; and The
General Fights Proposed Plum Island Lab That Would Study Deadliest
Richard Blumenthal today announced that his
office is preparing formal comments to fight a Department of Homeland
(DHS) proposal to develop a Level 4 research lab -- involving the study
of the deadliest biological threats to humans -- on Plum Island.
The DHS acknowledges in its own draft
environmental impact statement that
the proposed Level 4 facility would deal with "microorganisms that pose
high risk of life-threatening disease and for which there is no known
Plum Island, located about eight miles
off the Connecticut shore, now
operates as a Level 3 facility involving the study of only animal to
pathogens. A Level 4 designation, the most secure, would allow
study more deadly diseases that can be passed on to humans.
The DHS has identified Plum Island as one
of six potential sites for the new
National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
"I will fight this proposed Plum Island
expansion -- involving
insidious and deadly diseases that have no known cures, nearly eight
Connecticut's shore in the midst of environmentally precious and highly
populated areas," Blumenthal said. "This vastly heightened risk level
poses unacceptable costs and dangers. The cost of police and fire
safety may be
borne by local governments. Dire public health dangers of leaks or
attacks make this site clearly and completely unacceptable. A Level 4
would make Plum Island, and surrounding areas on both sides of the
prime terrorist target.
"Connecticut has close and personal
experience with pernicious diseases
transmitted by animals to humans such as anthrax and Lyme -- all the
reason to challenge this proposed vast expansion.
sides of the Sound should join
forces, as we did with Broadwater, in fighting this environmental and
threat. Our next step will be to file formal comments on the draft
environmental impact statement, urging that it be sited elsewhere."
THURSDAY, August 9, 2012
the taxes are
real. The "benefits" are not. For details, please refer to my
earlier guest column in The Day...and to 35 years of my similar
my web site.
law's tax hikes are coming: Who pays?
By CONNIE CASS | Associated Press – Thu, Aug 9, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) —
Who gets thumped by higher taxes in President Barack Obama's health care law?
The wealthiest 2 percent of Americans will take the biggest hit,
starting next year. And the pain will be shared by some who aren't so
well off — people swept up in a hodgepodge of smaller tax changes that
will help finance health coverage for millions in need.
For the vast majority of people,
however, the health care law won't mean sending more money to the IRS.
And roughly 20 million people
eventually will benefit from tax credits that start in 2014 to help
them pay insurance premiums.
The tax increases — plus a
mandate that nearly everyone have health coverage — are helping make
the law an election-year scorcher. Obama is campaigning on the benefits
for the uninsured, women and young adults. His rival, Mitt Romney, and
Republican lawmakers are vowing to repeal "Obamacare," saying some health care
reforms are needed but not at this cost.
Lots of the noise is about the
financial consequences for people who decline to get coverage and
businesses that don't offer their workers an adequate health plan.
Some 4 million individuals without insurance are expected to pay about
$55 billion over eight years, according to the Congressional Budget
Office's estimates. Employers could be dinged an estimated $106 billion
for failing to meet the mandate, which starts in 2014.
But that mandate money, whether it's called taxes or penalties, is
overwhelmed by other taxes, fees and shrunken tax breaks in the law.
These other levies could top $675 billion over the next 10 years, under
the CBO's projections of how much revenue the government would lose if
the law were repealed.
The biggest chunk is in new taxes on the nation's top 2 percent of
earners — some $318 billion over a decade.
Other major taxes are aimed at the health care industry, and some of
that cost is sure to be passed along to consumers as higher prices.
A rundown of the most significant tax changes — and who pays:
THE 2 PERCENT
Who pays: About 2.5 million
households — individuals making more than $200,000 per year, couples
How much: A 0.9 percent Medicare
tax on wages above those threshold amounts; an additional 3.8 percent
tax on investment income. Should raise $318 billion over 10 years.
The lowdown: Together these are
the biggest tax increase in the health care law.
For those wealthy enough to owe
it, the 3.8 percent investment tax comes on top of the
existing 15 percent capital gains rate, which is set to rise to 20
percent next year unless Congress acts.
Over the years, more and more people will be caught by the new
taxes, because the adjusted gross income level that triggers them
doesn't rise with inflation.
But fears that the investment tax will land on most folks' home
sales seem overblown — few sellers will be affected. A couple's profit
— not sales price — of up to $500,000 from the house they've been
living in is exempt from taxes; only gains above that amount are taxed.
Who pays: The 28 million people who visit tanning booths and beds
each year — most of them women under 30, according to the Journal of
the American Academy of Dermatology.
How much: A 10 percent tax on the price of tanning. Expected to
raise $1.5 billion over 10 years.
The lowdown: Tanning salons were singled out because of wide
agreement among medical experts that baking under ultraviolet lights
increases the risk of skin cancer.
When: Took effect in 2010.
THE "CADILLACS" OF COVERAGE
Who pays: Insurance companies or businesses that provide plans with
premiums of more than $10,200 per person or $27,500 per family, not
including dental or vision coverage. Employees covered by these
so-called "Cadillac" benefits probably will feel the pinch.
How much: 40 percent excise tax on
any amount of premium that exceeds the threshold. Expected to raise
$111 billion over five years.
The lowdown: The majority of health plans aren't affected because
they don't cost enough: Workplace family coverage now averages about
$15,000, including the portion paid by the employer, according to the
Kaiser Family Foundation's survey. But some middle-class workers,
especially those with strong union contracts, have health plans that
exceed the threshold. Also hit are corporate bigwigs whose
employer-paid plans cover virtually all expenses and lots of perks,
akin to tax-free income.
Some employees will pay more for their share of insurance costs
because the tax will get passed along to them. In other cases,
businesses will trim benefits to bring their plans under the tax
cutoff. Economists predict that many of the affected workers will get
higher pay as a trade-off — but those raises would be subject to income
The tax will affect more workers
as time goes by. It's indexed for inflation, but rising health care
prices will probably outpace that.
BUSINESSES SET TO BOOM
Who pays: Insurers, drug companies, medical device makers. And some
of their customers.
How much: More than $165 billion over 10 years
The lowdown: New taxes and fees target businesses expected to profit
as more Americans get insurance. The companies will pass along these
expenses as higher prices when they can. Companies that make or import
brand-name prescription drugs paid a total of $2.5 billion in 2011, the
first year for their fees.
Insurance companies will share in paying an annual fee that starts
at $8 billion for the first year.
Companies that make medical
equipment sold chiefly through doctors and hospitals, such as
pacemakers, artificial hips and coronary stents, will pay a 2.3 percent
excise tax on their sales, expected to total $1.7 billion in its first
year. The device makers are lobbying for repeal, arguing that some
small companies will have to lay off workers and reduce research
When: Began last year for drug
companies; starts in 2013 for device makers, 2014 for insurance companies.
Who pays: People who set aside tax-free savings to pay for health
How much: About $33 billion over 10 years
The lowdown: The law limits annual contributions to medical Flexible
Spending Accounts to $2,500; there was no government limit before. Many
employers had allowed $5,000 in the accounts, and some even more. But
the average contribution was only $1,400 per year, so relatively few
workers will be affected. Four in 10 employees have jobs that give them
the chance to sign up for these accounts.
Last year, people with FSAs and similar accounts lost the ability to
spend the money on over-the-counter medicines not prescribed by doctors.
Also, the penalty increased from 10 percent to 20 percent for money
withdrawn for non-medical reasons from Health Savings Accounts, which
people use to help pay high insurance deductibles.
When: Contribution limit begins in 2013.
TAXPAYERS WHO TAKE WRITE-OFFS
Who pays: People with big medical or dental bills who itemize
How much: Almost $19 billion over 10 years. Currently, taxpayers
have to spend more than 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income on
medical care to qualify for a deduction. The threshold will rise to 10
percent. So a household with income of $50,000 would have to spend
$5,000 on health care before deducting amounts above that.
The lowdown: Most Americans don't have enough out-of-pocket
expenses, those not paid by insurance, to meet even the lower threshold.
When: 2013 (delayed until 2017
for taxpayers age 65 or over)
Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/ConnieCass
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, August 6
through 8, 2012 THE ARROGANCE
OF THIS GANG IS BREATHTAKING. THROW THE BUMS OUT IN
The world seen from Rome News
Congress Needs to Be Quick in Response to Sterilization Mandate
of US Bishops' Pro-Life Activities Says HHS Rule is 'Misguided' Policy
D.C., AUG. 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chair of
the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called on Congress
address the crisis in health care sparked by the Obama administration’s
contraceptive/sterilization coverage mandate.
an Aug. 3 letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of
he said the mandate would forbid Americans to provide or purchase
unless it includes female surgical sterilizations, all FDA-approved
prescription drugs and devices for preventing pregnancy – including
devices which can destroy a human life at its earliest stages – and
and education’ to promote these to all women and girls of childbearing
DiNardo called the mandate “unprecedented and misguided federal
policy.” He added that “most of those who initiate or renew employee
plans as well as student plans at educational institutions after August
comply with this mandate, notwithstanding their moral or religious
or drop their health coverage altogether as some colleges have now
our part, the Catholic bishops of the United States continue to
for life-affirming health care for all, especially for poor and
people.We do not see this policy as a step in that direction,” he said.
“Despite widespread opposition to this coercive policy by religious
organizations, lawmakers and the general public, Congress has still
action to counter it. The time for such action is, to say the least,
American prelate stressed the importance of the issue of religious
at stake, saying that it demanded “a timely congressional
this mandate, the Administration is promoting an approach to religious
freedom that is more grudging and arbitrary than any yet seen in
added that a minority of religious employers – those which, among other
things, engage primarily in prayer and preaching – are said to be
the mandate. “By contrast, religious organizations which live out their
by reaching out to all in need with health care and other humanitarian
are deemed ‘not religious enough’ for the exemption. Many, though
all, of these organizations will qualify for a one-year delay in
after which partial control of their health plans will be handed over
government to others willing to implement the mandate.”
DiNardo highlighted the plight of employers who may have moral or
religious objections to some or all of the mandated services, people
“devout individuals and families who own and operate businesses, who
any word of protest from employees have been offering health coverage
not violate their moral convictions.” With the mandate “their longtime
will be contrary to federal law, punished by a tax of $100 a day per
and other penalties,” he said.
cardinal pointed out the current administration’s stance that companies
that are “for profit” are secular and therefore, have no claim on
freedom. “The validity of the religious freedom claim against the
mandate is clearer than ever – even for those supposedly ‘secular’
whose rights are completely ignored under that mandate,” he said.
to the lengthy judicial process of many companies that have filed
against the mandate, Cardinal DiNardo concluded his letter urging the
Congress to act. The Catholic bishops of the United States, he said,
hope Congress will address this urgent and fundamental issue before it
completes its business this year.”
SUNDAY, August 5, 2012
As already noted in this section, selective reading of main media
be dangerous to your political health. Dr. Charles Krauthammer
exact points in his latest column that I made to a group of medical
at lunch earlier in the week. (See "Romney's Excellent Foreign
Policy Trip", in The Day Saturday August 4, 2012, Opinion,
The Liberal Media are either Stupid, or Whores, or Both.
Meanwhile, cross-read regularly among several news outlets - including
- for facts and Truth. If Americans don't get this coming
we're in for a world of hurt.
- - - - -
HAND...ON THE OTHER HAND". War is Terrible. Avoid it if at all possible. If not
finish it quickly!
The world seen from Rome News
Soldier's View of Torture, Just War Principles
Most Senior Ranking General Considers the Evils of War
AUG. 2, 2012 (Zenit.org).- My view is absolutely clear: torture is
and shouldn't be allowed, and people who torture should be apprehended,
the full force of law applied.
from his residence in London on July 20, Britain's most senior ranking
general, Field Marshal the Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, believes any
torture is very damaging and does more harm than good.
also believes people tend to tell you what you want to hear when being
tortured and it can seriously damage the reputation of countries such
United States who pride themselves on upholding human rights.
subject of torture was just one of several topics addressed by the
73-year-old veteran soldier who is a convert to Catholicism and a
member of the
Knights of Malta.
retiring in 2001, Lord Guthrie had served as a soldier in places such
Malaysia, Borneo, Yemen, Oman, Kenya and Northern Ireland. He was head
British army during the Balkans War and then made head of Britain's
forces between 1997 until 2001. He also served as a troop commander in
Britain's special forces, the SAS, and headed the elite regiment from
2009, before being raised to the rank of Field Marshal by Queen
Elizabeth II in
June of this year.
throughout his distinguished military career, faith was always
and hugely helpful to him. It gave you a spiritual, moral, and ethical
background, and maybe a confidence which you may not have had
explains. But being in the military is not easy because you do have to
some terrible decisions sometimes.
an Anglican, he married a Catholic but he wasn't received into the
Church until he was in his 40s, relatively late because he wanted to be
sure he was doing it for the right reasons.
father had become a Catholic when he was 68, and we were always that
inclined, he tells me. We went to Church and all that, and it seemed to
I would probably end up there. He was also influenced by friends who
priests and army chaplains, as well as a monk from the English
Abbey at Ampleforth.
to just war tradition, a subject on which he wrote a book (Just War -
The Just War Tradition: Ethics in Modern Warfare by Charles Guthrie and
Quinlan – published by Bloomsbury 2007), Lord Guthrie says Christians
slightly late to it, because, he suspects, most were probably
outside the structures of the Roman Empire until Emperor Constantine
Christian. From then on, they were forced to take responsibilities.
found we had to make decisions, and that wasn't easy, he says, but the
philosophers and thinkers of the day had to wrestle with these
he is grateful for the Christian just war tradition as he is a firm
believer in the need for principles in war. People do behave very badly
armed conflict sometimes, but it does seem to me to be absolutely right
you have a moral compass which sets standards, he says. There are
of the tradition you really do have to think very, very carefully about
you move away from them.
is particularly keen that military commanders have very good reasons to
to war, and that they be fully prepared for the consequences. It's not
enough just because you want to punish somebody or revenge, he says.
to actually think: what are the consequences going to be? Are you going
course, war is evil, he continues. War is a horrible thing, a
thing, but sometimes there are things which are even worse, like
completely uncontrolled killing of innocent women and children.
dismisses talk of martyrdom as a credible form of defense and
think it's crazy, he says. If you had Attila the Hun coming and you had
country of 100,000 people, do you think it's a good idea to stand by
100,000 people killed? That doesn't make any sense at all in the real
I'm very suspicious of that, it just doesn't work, never has worked and
see why it should. But you don't want to go to war; you want to think
very carefully about what it actually means.
military theorists, most notably the 19th century Prussian tactician
von Clausewitz, have argued that to win a war, maximum force, or
must be used. That being the case, can a war ever be just if such a
used? You want to get the war over as quickly as possible, Lord Guthrie
answers. You don't want to kill any more people than you have to, and
to protect people who are not actively engaged in the war, like women
children and non-combatants. But what is a non-combatant? Is, for
somebody working in a munitions factory? … You get into very difficult
these things aren't black and white at all.
if the allied bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, in which
thousands of civilians were killed, was just, he answers: Dresden will
be very controversial. I think nowadays more and more of us think it
right because we were winning the war anyhow. But if you had been
might take a rather different view and I think it would be very wrong
of us to
condemn everybody who was involved. He also points out that London was
indiscriminately bombed as well, resulting in the loss of over 40,000
to topical issues, the Field Marshal believes a pre-emptive strike on
Iran to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons would be completely
at the moment because it would make the situation worse. Similarly, he
firmly opposed to military intervention in Syria at the current time,
it would further destabilise a country in a very dangerous region.
the war in Afghanistan, the veteran soldier says he has a problem
with the military operation as people didn't really think of the
But he believes the initial reasons for the intervention – to allow UK
special forces to destroy the Al Qaeda camps -- were perfectly lawful
think that was achieved brilliantly, he said. I would then question –
come to unforeseen consequences again – should we not have just come
frequently mentions the problem of unpredictability in war, and
the difficulty of preparing for the aftermath of a conflict. You've got
think: what are the consequences of what I'm going to do, and have a
says. It is difficult because soldiers are quite good at winning
who is actually going to pick up the pieces? Soldiers aren't ideally
be policemen, civil lawyers, prison officers. Why should they be able
to do it,
really? And yet they're the only people around.
says this was particularly true of the 1991 Iraq War when many argued
coalition forces should have marched onto Baghdad and ousted Saddam
regime. It would have caused logistic problems … which I dare say could
been got round. But I think there were people in the United States who
didn't want to go on, and I can see why, he says.
of course by not going on, the second Iraq War became more likely.
The world seen from Rome News
Content in the Movies
Behavior, Pregnancy and Diseases
AUG. 2, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The media really does influence adolescents'
behavior and early exposure to sexual content in the movies leads them
commence sexual activity at an earlier age and to take more risks.
was the conclusion of a study just published in the journal
Science, titled Greater Exposure to Sexual Content in Popular Movies
Earlier Sexual Debut and Increased Sexual Risk Taking.
started by noting how it is documented that the media influences
behavior in such areas as alcohol and tobacco use, but that less is
its impact on sexual behavior.
sexual activity at an earlier age is associated with a greater number
of partners and an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
More than 9
million new cases of sexual diseases occur annually among adolescents
United States, the paper observed.
movies provide adolescents with a wealth of sexual exposure, much of
which may promote risk behaviors, the authors commented.
cited a survey that looked at movies released from 1950 to 2006. It
that more than 84% contained some sexual content. In addition the
that the level of sexual explicitness of PG-13 and R-rated movies has
in the past decade.
only are adolescents influenced by what they see, but one survey found
57% of those aged 14-16 use the media as a primary source of sexual
study published in Psychological Science looked at movie sexual
(MVE) in those aged under 16. A longitudinal study was carried out over
period June 2003 to October 2009.
consisted in a random telephone survey of 6,522 adolescents, aged 10 to
After the initial contact they were followed up three subsequent times.
found that higher exposure to explicit sexual content was an accurate
predictor of riskier sexual behavior. The authors said that this study
previous ones and also found that this exposure, has a lasting
risky sexual behaviors in adulthood.
adolescent’s viewing of sexually explicit content would delay their
sexual debut and also reduce their engagement in risky sexual behaviors
in life, they concluded.
THURSDAY and FRIDAY, August 2 and
What follows is another edition of Potpourri,
including some pleasant scents - and some awful smells.
The cry goes out throughout the land: "WE
NEED MORE PHYSICIANS". And at the same time,
physicians are increasingly treated as indentured servants: beset with
an increasing number of "mandates" that include the unethical
requirement to take on the personal risk of a person's health or
disease, thereby pitting the physician's self-interest against the
patient's interest; a progressive decrease in reimbursement for expert
medical care, now varying between 25% and 75% of reasonable payments;
the legal inability, through anti-Trust laws misapplied, to
bargain in good faith with the many insurers who are placing more and
more demands on us, resulting in "adhesive contracts"; failure to
provide meaningful relief for the "national lottery" (aka medical
malpractice exposure); and on, and on.
Only an idiot - or the Government - would expect such a situation to
produce positive results.
Catholic-Bashing has always
been a popular sport. In recent years, it has reached Olympic
status...with a lot of help from the Church itself. But the
Catholic Church, locally and internationally, remains an institution
for Good. Now if we could only reconcile the intent and promise
of Vatican ll, an "agiornamento", and the relative intransigence
of the current Magisterium...including in areas where Faith and Morals
are not conclusively involved....
Are all Democrats as crazy as
their current leadership, personified in Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and
President Obama? I hope not, for the sake and future of our
nation. Folks, it's not illegal to vote outside your Party...when
it is patently wrong.
And then there are the schizophrenic
Republicans. The coming election is for the Republicans to
lose. And they are well up to the task...unless they decide among
bed-rock principles and that which can be negotiated. I have
already written several times on this subject in this section.
Finally, in preparation for the
coming cacophony about politics, decide either to stop reading all
print media...or read at least three media outlets - absolutely
including the Wall Street Journal. One place to start is with the
excellent article in the WSJ Tuesday, July 31, 2012 (Opinion, pA13)
entitled: "The Man Who SavedCapitalism", by Stephen
Moore. It describes the "Age of Milton Friedman" and is an
invaluable introduction to Economics 101.
I have to say about that"...for
WEDNESDAY, August 1, 2012
The world seen from Rome News
Government Cannot Oblige Religions To Go Against Their Convictions
with the Archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico on the HHS Mandate
Jose Antonio Varela Vidal
JUAN, Puerto Rico, JULY 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- We offer our readers the
final part of the interview with Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves,
San Juan, Puerto Rico, who is very clear on the position of the Church
role that all Catholics must play in the measure that the current U.S.
administration is committed to having the HHS mandate observed.
If the result is the opposite of what is expected, is it possible that
the Church’s health centers will be against distributing contraceptive
calling for civil disobedience? What would be the implications?
Gonzalez. I would like to begin my answer with the quotation from
the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: “”We must obey God rather than
(Acts 5:29). The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church points
regard to the right of conscientious objection, that: “The citizen is
in conscience to follow the prescriptions of the civil authorities if
latter are contrary to the exigencies of the moral order, to people’s
fundamental rights or to the teachings of the Gospel. Unjust laws place
morally upright person before dramatic problems of conscience: when
called to collaborate in morally illicit actions; they have the
refuse.” (n. 399). As can be deduced, it is not optional to disobey an
law, it is a moral imperative. That is, it is immoral to obey it.
Church cannot collaborate with such practices which, although they are
permitted by positive law, are contrary to divine law. The Church
one thing and do another. She cannot say that the use of contraceptives
contrary to the moral law and then back medical plans that include
contraceptives and sterilization services. To disobey a law, although
unjust, can expose us to sanctions. Hopefully not, but if there is no
remedy, they are welcome. It will be an historic opportunity to give
our faith. Perhaps human courts will again become modern “Roman
which Christians will be taken to shed their blood and mix it with Our
As in olden times, this would become the illustrious sign of
credibility of the
sons and daughters of the Church.
Do we know if the government is able to reconsider the HHS mandate?
Gonzalez: The Obama Administration is firm in its position that
private health plans must include in their coverage the sterilization
contraceptive pills approved by the FDA, including abortifacient pills,
that advice and education must be given to promote these badly called
women and adolescents.
What actions will the Church in the U.S. now take in this regard?
Gonzalez: The Permanent Commission of the Conference of Catholic
Bishops of the United States is pronouncing itself on the matter as the
calls for it. By way of example, recently Cardinal Daniel DiNardo,
the Pro-Life Activities Commission of the Conference of Bishops, sent a
to the House of Representatives supporting the two measures mentioned
Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) and Respect for Right of
the consideration of the House in relation to this matter.
What must be reinforced in the new generation of family education in
Gonzalez: I think the situation of the family in the United States
is akin to that of many societies around the world where the
institution of the
family is suffering a great identity crisis and a crisis of
values as a
consequence of many social, cultural, economic, and technological
others. We must reinforce all that which we see has been weakened. By
example, the practice of the faith and the importance of family life
weakened. The family is the privileged place to live, celebrate, learn
transmit faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. The family is born, is
is sustained by faith. Without faith, the family is reduced to its
expression and exposed to cultural blows and the personal problems of
members. Faith reinforces the family and immunizes it against the
relativism and individualism, and discovers for it the original design
Creator. Verified in it are all the aspects and dimensions of h uman
love elevated by God: nuptial, filial, fraternal love, friendship, and
this within and outside itself.
is why the vocation of the family is essential for the true and full
realization of the human race. The family cannot be regarded as a
where the only end is the profit of its members and the acquisition of
goods that increase its patrimony. The only thing that matters with
is the material, even to sacrificing the transcendental. The family is
all the place of love, of communion, of solidarity; it is experience of
it is a school of faith. Perhaps the most important and urgent
the Catholic Church, in the perspective of the New Evangelization, is
maintain a living, ardent and transforming faith in Christ in the
What is your message to the American readers of ZENIT at this critical
Gonzalez: Catholics in the United States must support continuously
and actively the initiatives of their bishops who, faithful to the
truth and in
communion with the Pope, promote the Catholic faith received from the
The bishops are defending religious liberty in the United States. In
out this defense, they take recourse to prayer, to education and to
public actions, especially a respectful dialogue with the executive and
legislative branches of the government. Religious liberty is among the
liberties protected constitutionally. In fact, religious liberty is a
recognized universally. The HHS ruling is one more step to bring down
that not only separates the Church from the State but that protects her
HHS regulation is an evil presage for the Catholic Church in the United
States. Not only is this mandate a coercion to the liberty of
it is an undue interference of the State in the affairs of the Church,
point that it attempts to redefine what religious institutions are and
its employees occupy religious posts. It does so in such a way, that
universities, schools, hospitals and charity centers are obliged
comply with this mandate. It pretends to have the Church act in two
ways: according to her morality with her religious employees and in an
way with her employees in non-religious posts, according to how this
them. This is dangerous for the faith, for human dignity, for religious
and, above all, for democracy.