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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.

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SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 2003

Getting Iraq to become a non-theocratic democracy is going to be a tall order: the Iraqi people have no recent relevant history to guide them;  the fall of the Hussein regime has left a temporary power vacuum that will be filled by good and bad alike, if we let them, in the interests of gaining raw power; at least one interpretation of Islam demands a direct connection between religious and secular leadership, very different from "separation of church and state" which the Western world considers vital to democracy; theocracies like Iran are promoting anti-Americanism in order to blunt the secular pressures in their own countries; and the other dictatorships in the region are doing the same, although in more subtle fashion, in order to avoid their own overthrow by "the Islamic street".  The United States should continue to implement our own plan for a secular democracy run by moderate Iraqis who can actually meet the needs of the people, with our guidance, financial support, and also with our military muscle - for as long as is needed to guarantee success.  Our interests in the Middle East are at least as pressing as our interests in the Korean pennsula and in the Baltics - and in the final analysis it is our national interests that should determine our actions in the world. Of course, we must facilitate - and if necessary impose - an Israel - Palestine settlement finally built on fairness, along lines previously discussed.    A tall order, but work absolutely vital to our national interests.   So, let's settle down for the long haul; and let's not expect garlands of flowers for our efforts, now or in the future.  Success will have to be its own reward.



Sorry.  The "family business" is a serious illness in the family.   But it  required a lot of auto travel on our great interstate highway system.  And this has reminded me of the effort in the 1970's to get us out of our cars and into "mass transit".   It was doomed to failure precisely because of the "mass" part of it.   In the crowded, noisy, frenetic world of recent decades, the only place a person has had available to get some guilt-free relaxation is in his or her private automobile...or perhaps in a doctor's office during the inevitable wait.   Now comes the anti-SUV crowd, calling it un-patriotic and even immoral to own such a vehicle,  while we try to stay alive surrounded by trucks and cars and travelling 75 miles per hour for many hours at a time.  Fat chance!   But we really should become more energy self-sufficient, especially regarding oil.  For that, the tiny part of the Alaskan tundra currently under debate is probably a good idea.  (The rest of this administration's "environmental policies" are hide-bound, greedy and regressive, and should be resisted).


SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2003

Easter Sunday.  Thanks Be To God, For The Greatest Gift Since The Creation.  Happy Easter To All.



Today's comment relates to what passes for "public education".  Please refer to my article entitled "To The Students of Public Schools, in New London and Elsewhere" (this web site, The Involved Citizen, Public Education).  There, I took note of the "Self-Esteem" fashion of the last two decades as one of the many problems.  Now comes an article reporting on actual scientific research - imagine that! - on the subject, to be published in Psychological Science In The Public Interest next month  (See "Real Self-Esteem Builds On Achievement, Not Praise For Slackers", by Sharon Begley, the Wall Street Journal, Friday, April 18, 2003, Marketplace, Science Journal, pB1).  The last sentence of the WSJ article is worth quoting here: "As we persist in praising children even for mediocre work and trivial accomplishments, I can't resist ending with a plea from the the APS scientists: 'Psycholigists should reduce their own self-esteem a bit and humbly resolve that next time they will wait for a more thorough and solid empirical basis before making policy recommentations to the American public.'''


FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2003

And the carping "liberal" drums beat on:

Instead, here is some food for thought: Ultimately, the Middle East will achieve neither a lasting peace nor its immense potential until two things happen:
1) The Arab world gives up the idea that Israel will ever disappear; and Israel gives up the idea that we are talking about the Israel of the Bible.  Land for Peace will probably have to be imposed from without, but the fairness of the trade will allow it to flourish. All should remember that "He who seeks equity must do equity." 2) The great Religion of Islam is being subverted by those who reject the separation of Church and State in order to promote their own power-grabs in the name of God - Allah - Yahweh.  This existed  in Christianity for many centuries; and it exists today both in Israel and in the Arab world.  "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's".  (For two sources on Islam, see two books by Bernard Lewis: "What Went Wrong?", and "The Crisis Of Islam").



"Past is Prologue".  Here is a  good article that points to what America can expect in its future efforts to improve life and society in Iraq: "Nobody Loves a Liberator: What France in 1945 can teach us about Iraq today", by Antony Beevor,  New York Times, OP-ED, Sunday, April 13, 2003, p wk 13.  On a related subject, analyze this... a useful insight into the collective psyche of "liberals" who have been making the same mistakes for over thirty years - and who haven't learned a thing throughout that time: Pessimistic Liberalism, the Wall Street Journal, Opinion, Review and Outlook, Wednesday, April 16, 2003, pA18.



Welcome back to (not so) Rapid Response.   The interruption was necessitated by family business.  Much has occurred since the last entry, and the following are some reactions:

(For an excellent article written by a former director of the CIA, see "A Long War", by R. James Woolsey, the Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, April 16, 2003, Opinion, pA18).


SATURDAY and SUNDAY, APRIL 5 and 6, 2003

There is a lot going on these days.   But now, only one comment seems appropriate.  David Bloom, correspondent for NBC imbedded with the 3rd Infantry Division, has died.  Just  39 years old,  he leaves a a wife and three daughters.  And he leaves fans like my wife and myself  who have followed his career from a distance with interest and with good wishes.  To him, and to all the American and innocent casualties of this war, a heart-felt  REQUIESCAT IN PACEM.



There are no refractory problems...only unmotivated problem-solvers.  Here are some effective solutions to vexing problems of the day, solutions which - because effective - may never see the light of day.



As this just war of pre-emptive self-defense proceeds successfully, we are being reminded again about the "Coalition of the Willing" versus the "Coalition of the Losers", chief among them France and the United Nations.  The U.N. is now "demanding" that they be in charge of post-war re-building of Iraq.  They will have an important role; but otherwise they are out of their collective minds.  Actions have consequences.  Of course, we know what terrible errors "politics" can produce after the supreme sacrifices of soldiers in battle (remember Bush 1 and the abandonment of the Shiites in southern Iraq in 1991).  Let's hope that Bush 2 learned that lesson and keeps the USA in the leading role post-war.  And then there's France...Ah, la belle France.  About a week ago, French President Jacques Chirac was quoted in the New London Day as saying that "he'll veto any measure to let U.S., Britain run Iraq after war".   Then there is the article in the New London Day (Sunday, March 30 2003, Perspective, Section C1) entitled "Chirac Uses Iraq Crisis For His Own Political Ambition".  See also France's Game, by Charles Krauthammer, Time Magazine, March 24, 2003, in Essay, p82.  And then, quoted in the Day today, France's Ambassador to U.S. Jean-David Levitte  considers France "a bit of a scapegoat"; and he wants to "go beyond the bitterness of what happened".  What gall (Gaul?).  By the way, listed below is a partial list of French companies and products, just FYI.



Air Liquide, Alcatel, Allegra (allergy medication), Aqualung (including: Spirotechnique, Technisub, US Divers, and SeaQuest), AXA Advisors Bank of the West (owned by BNP Paribas), Beneteau (boats), BF Goodrich (owned by Michelin), BIC (razors, pens and lighters), Biotherm (cosmetics), Black Bush, Bollinger (champagne), Car & Driver Magazine, Cartier, Chanel, Cheese labeled "Product of France", Chivas Regal (scotch), Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Club Med (vacations), Culligan (owned by Vivendi), Daniel Cremieux, Dannon (yogurt and dairy foods), DKNY, Dom Perignon, Durand Crystal, Elle Magazine, Essilor Optical Products, Evian bottled water, Fina gas stations and Fina Oil (billions invested in Iraqi oil fields), First Hawaiian Bank, George Magazine, Givenchy, Glenlivet (scotch), Hachette Filipacchi New Media, Hennessy, Houghton Mifflin (books), Jacobs Creek (owned by Pernod Ricard since 1989), Jameson (whiskey), Jerry Springer (talk show)  Krups (coffee and cappuccino makers), Lancome, Le Creuset (cookware), L'Oreal (health and beauty products), Louis Vuitton, Magellan Navigational Equipment, Marie Claire, Martel Cognac, Maybelline, Méphisto (shoes and clothes), Michelin (tires and auto parts), Mikasa (crystal and glass), Moet (champagne), Motel 6, Motown Records,, Mumms (champagne), Nissan (cars; majority owned by Renault), Nivea, Normany Butter, Ondeo/Nalco Water Treatement, Parents Magazine, Peugeot (automobiles), Perrier Sparkling Water, Pierre Cardin, Playstation Magazine, ProScan (owned by Thomson Electronics, France), Publicis Group (including Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising), RCA (televisions and electronics; owned by Thomson Electronics), Red Magazine, Red Roof Inns (owned by Accor group in France), Renault (automobiles), Road & Track Magazine, Roquefort cheese (all Roquefort cheese is made in France), Rowenta (toasters, irons, coffee makers, etc,), Royal Canadian, Salomon (skis), Seagram's Gin, Sierra Software and Computer Games, Sitram Cookware, Smart & Final, Sofitel (hotels, owned by Accor), Sparkletts (water, owned by Danone), Spencer Gifts, Sundance Channel, Taylor Made (golf), Technicolor, T-Fal (kitchenware), Total gas stations, UbiSoft (computer games), Uniroyal, Universal Studios (music, movies and amusement parks; owned by Vivendi-Universal), USFilter, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Vittel, VIVENDI-SEAGRAM,  Wild Turkey (bourbon), Wine and Champagne labeled "Product of France", Woman's Day Magazine, Yoplait (The French company Sodiaal owns a 50 percent stake), Yves Saint Laurent, Yves Rocher, Zodiac Inflatable Boats.

MONDAY and TUESDAY, MARCH 31 and APRIL 1, 2003

As I watch and read the news and news coverage of this war, including some of the news briefings - where critical speechifying by correspondents is supposed to pass for legitimate tough questioning, the events of the last several months recall another difficult period for the world, when the world failed:  the League of Nations, Japan's invasion of Manchuria, Hitler's occupation of the Rhineland, Mussolini's attack on  Ethiopia, Hitler's advance into neighboring countries - all with no response from the world community - except for Neville Chamberlain's approval of the whole enterprise.  And then there was Tokyo Rose.  Her siren songs were  different from the constant carping and distortion coming out of liberal news outlets.  But the effects can be the same:demoralizing our armed forces and  giving aid and comfort to the enemy.  Notable exceptions include the work of Tom Brokaw and Jim Lehrer.  The  media's job can be done right.  Bottom line: Americans can pro-actively defend ourselves against enemies where they live, and thereby dissuade them from their plans; or we can resign ourselves to walking around the world with a target on our back, waiting for the next blow.


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