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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.

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

SUNDAY through THURSDAY, March 27 through 31, 2005

Let me try those one-liners again.

And now, a word from Shelley Berman, as published in AARP Bulletin, February, 2005:
“This Guy is driving down the freeway, and he gets a call from his wife on the car phone. And she says, “Harry, be very careful...I just heard on the news on the radio that there’s a car going the wrong way on the freeway.”  And Harry says, “One car? There’s hundreds.”

SATURDAY, March 26, 2005

One rewarding advantage of publishing a Blog, which I guess "Rapid Response" qualifies as, is the ability to react to an issue before the traditional publishers and editors can.  As a result, being right a lot of the time can often be substantiated by "reliable sources".  ("No brag...just fact".)  Of course, the same thing would be true for wrong "responses".

Today, I offer substantiation for my opinions expressed in the Sunday, March 20, 2005 Rapid Response regarding Teri Schiavo.  See: 1) "Schiavo Case Made Bad Law And Good Politics", by Daniel Henninger, and 2) "Teri Schiavo's Legacy", Editorial, both in yesterday's WSJ, Opinion, pA8.  Of course, I'm ignoring the claptrap ladled out by the usual suspects from the Democratic Party and from the ultra-liberal media on this subject.  Albert Einstein reportedly defined "insanity" as repeating the same actions and expecting different results.  Remember "welfare as we know it", the public education morass, "value neutral" and politically correct ideals?  To that the Democrats now add an expanding Culture of Death, and a blinding and continuing rage at anything that President Bush has a hand in.  They are not insane, but they are certainly stupid.  And that will be their downfall.


THURSDAY and FRIDAY, March 24 and 25, 2005

This day, Good Friday, I can do no better than to offer the following news report.  GS

ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome

Vatican Crusade Against "Da Vinci Code"? Hardly
Clarifications About Debate Organized by Genoa Archdiocese

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2005 ( Newspapers and agencies worldwide have
announced over the past two days that the Vatican has launched a crusade against Dan
Brown's best seller "The Da Vinci Code."

In fact, what happened is that the Office for Culture and the University of the
Archdiocese of Genoa simply organized a debate on the book today, entitled "The Da
Vinci Code ... Stories Without History."

Given the repercussions of this initiative, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, archbishop of
Genoa, gave an interview Tuesday to Vatican Radio and said, "One cannot be a modern
young person without having read 'The Da Vinci Code.'"

"We are aware of the circulation of this book in schools and, for this reason, have
taken measures of reflection and also of public, open and determined confrontation,"
said the cardinal, a former secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith.

The cardinal attributed the success of Brown's book to a visible strategy,
especially after the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

"The Church, with our Pope John Paul II, has made an exceptional impact on
present-day humanity, and this has bothered many," he noted.

"The strategy of distribution is the result of absolutely exceptional 'marketing,'
including in Catholic bookstores," the cardinal said. "I have complained to Catholic
bookstores which, for the sake of profit, display piles of this book.

"And, then, there is the strategy of persuasion: You are not an adult Christian if
you don't read this book."

Cardinal Bertone mentioned sociologist Philip Jenkins, who says that the success of
the book is one more proof that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice.

"I wonder," said the cardinal, "what would have happened if a book like this had
been written, full of lies, on the Buddha or Mohammed or even, for example, if a
novel had been published that manipulated the history of the Holocaust."

The debate held today was entitled "The Da Vinci Code -- Stories Without History."

The event's guest speaker Massimo Introvigne, founder and director of the
Turin-based Center of Studies on New Religions, sent a written response to ZENIT
about the book's historical errors.

Introvigne said that it was necessary to refute the work's errors because it has a
page entitled "Fact," where the author Dan Brown asserts that all the descriptions
of documents and secret rituals in the novel are accurate and are based,
specifically, on the claim that in 1975, the Biblioth?que Nationale of Paris
discovered parchments, known as Les Dossiers Secrets, which reveal the story of the
Priory of Sion.

"The Da Vinci Code" implies that Opus Dei is a "sect" which has entered into
conflict with the Church in terms of its knowledge of the Priory of Sion's secrets.

"In the first place, nobody can conceivably blackmail others on the basis of the
'secrets of the Priory of Sion,' which basically do not exist," wrote Introvigne.
"These alleged secrets are part of a hoax which proceeds from Plantard to de S?de,
from de S?de to Lincoln, and from Lincoln to Dan Brown.

"In terms of the Opus Dei -- where, by the way, there are no 'monks,' contrary to
what Dan Brown proposes in his book -- not only it is an institution approved and
praised by the Catholic Church, but its founder, Jos? Mar?a Escriv? (1902-1975), has
been canonized as a saint by the Pope in 2002.

"Dan Brown's 'information' comes from an association of ex-members and other people
hostile to the Opus Dei, known as The Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN), mentioned
explicitly in the novel, which is connected to a much larger 'anti-cult movement.'
... ODAN's aggressive opinions on Opus Dei and its founder are in no way shared by
the Catholic hierarchy."

Introvigne said he believes that "The Da Vinci Code" has had such enormous success
because it "brings together two types of social 'tastes' which appear to be quite
widespread": "on the one hand, the notion of 'conspiracies' and secret societies
that dominate the world; and, on the other hand, an increasingly unashamed and
virulent anti-Catholicism."

An interview with Introvigne on the historical errors of "The Da Vinci Code" is
posted at

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, March 21 through 23, 2005

A lot to comment on, so I'll try to use "one-liners".

Enough said.


SUNDAY, March 20, 2005

More on issues of life and death...heavy stuff, but issues thrust upon society by the constant advances of medical science.  The Teri Schiavo case involves many interlocking matters that require attention and review, by our entire society and not to be solved on a case-by-case basis: definitions of death; persistent vegetative state, as distinguished from death; concepts of "futility of medical care" (qualitative, quantitative and physiologic); the parameters of individual self-determination; whether nutrition and hydration - by whatever means - constitute medical care at all and thus can ever be legally and ethically withheld from any but a dead person; ethical organ harvesting.  And the ramifications of even this particular case go well beyond the confines of the State of Florida, considering the fact that between 10,000 and 25,000 adults and 4,000 to 10, 000 children exist in this country in a persistent vegitative state on any given day. (See Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 22nd Edition, 2004, p2276).  Discussions and court decisions on these issues have been going on for nearly 3 decades.  But it is obvious from the public reaction to this case that the entire spectrum of issues needs to be revisited...not by individual hospital ethics committees, not by local or State courts or by their Governors, but by the Federal Judiciary and ultimately again by the U.S.Supreme Court, acting for American society at large.  Only in that way can there be a chance at consensus.  We in America cannot afford another abortion-like divide.  And besides, these people are visible, and hard to deny.  So, Congress' current efforts to steer the matter into the Federal courts for adjudication is justified.  Woe to the politician or party that tries to play politics with this one.


SATURDAY, March 19, 2005

Talk about a Culture of Death.  I mean no disrespect to persons of Dutch ancestry in this country.  But the most unexpected and the most lingering effects of the Nazi reign of terror in WW II seem to be found in Holland, long occupied during that war.  How else to explain the "freedoms" regarding dangerous drugs and sex which have been a part of legal Dutch life for many years.  And how else to explain the legalization of euthanasia, "except in cases involving children under 12".  See "Dr. Eduard Verhagen: A Doctor Torn By Newborn's Suffering Cry", The Day today, Region/World, pB4.  Wrong lessons learned.


THURSDAY and FRIDAY, March 17 and 18, 2005

The offering dated March 8 and 9, 2005 in this section reflected some careful re-evaluation on my part regarding questions of life and death which we all...not only physicians...are presented with both personally and through media reports.  The Ross death penalty case in Connecticut, and the Terri Schiavo case in Florida are current examples.  The latter case reflects the importance of a person expressing his or her opinions regarding leaving this life - whenever it occurs - by means of an advanced directive / living will, a power of attorney for health care matters, or at least through discussion with family members.  It is so unfortunate, and so common, that persons like Ms. Schiavo (whose name in Italian literally means "slave") end up as slaves to the conflicting efforts of family, courts and legislators.  That's not the way it should or could be.  Add to all this the abject and partially remediable misery described in Jeffery Sachs' recent book, "The End of Poverty" (excerpted in the March 14, 2005 edition of Time magazine, p44). There is simply too much Death and Dying in this world, a literal Culture of Death.    And so, henceforth I am opposed to the death penalty in every instance.  That integrates my life-long philosophy...a Culture of Life.


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, March 14 through 16, 2005

As I have promised initially and periodically, my responses to the days' events in this section would be rapid and common-sense...but only when I have something to say.  So, today I had nothing to say - until my son Adam ( the web-master of this effort) reminded me that today is the second anniversary of Rapid Response, and until I also read this week's Time magazine.  So let me complete these two years the way I started lauding President Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense as the only proper response to 9/11.  The difference is that now I have much support, even among the rabid detractors.

"Jon Stewart, the sage of Comedy Central, is one of the few to be honest about it.  'What if Bush...has been right about this all along?  I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may...implode.'  Daniel Schorr, another critic of the Bush policy, ventured, a bit more grudgingly, that Bush 'may have had it right'".  ("Three Cheers For The Bush Doctrine", by Charles Krauthammer, in Time, March 14, 2005, p28).

What a birthday present!  Thanks, Adam.

And now, onward!


SATURDAY and SUNDAY, March 12 and 13, 2005


FRIDAY, March 11, 2005


WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, March 9 and 10, 2005

Three topics are regularly in the news...and they are closely related: the death penalty, end of life decisions relating to termination of medical care, and abortion.  Being an advocate, although ambivalent, of the death penalty and of the medical ethical concept of "Futility" and its ramifications for a treating physician, I have been finding myself re-visiting these issues.  In this process, I am reviewing two sources: 1) "Culture of Death", by Wesley J. Smith, (Encounter Books, San Francisco, 2000; and "Ethical Choices: Case Studies For Medical Practice", Edited by Lois Snyder, American College of Physicians, Philadelphia, 2005.  Indeed, the relationship among the three topics may revolve around a choice for our society: a choice between a Culture of Death, and a Culture of Life.   Here, a short quotation from an Encyclical by that Saint in our midst - Pope John Paul II - is directly on point: "The Gospel of God's love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel."(from Evangelium Vitae, March 25, 1995).  Think about it.


MONDAY and TUESDAY, March 7 and 8, 2005


SUNDAY, March 6, 2005


SATURDAY, March 5, 2005


WEDNESDAY through FRIDAY, March 2 through 4, 2005


TUESDAY, March 1, 2005


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