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.
to return to the current Rapid Response list
MONDAY through FRIDAY, February 25
through 29, 2008
- The Oscars, especially this year. We lived
through the grubby, drug-marinated, amoral and immoral 1960's.
For the 2000's, subtract "grubby" and add "insanely violent" to that
list. Hollywood knows what it's doing. It's fans badly need
- It is really demeaning to Hillary, and to women
in general, when air-heads of the female sex assert that they favor her
"because she is a woman". This person has earned her place on the
national stage. If she loses the Democratic nomination, it will
have been largely the fault of that political "Bigfoot", Bill.
"And Obama", you ask? I still see a very controlled and highly
articulate Elmer Gantry.
- Ralph Nader. What is he about, besides
having a Messiah complex? How his candicacy will play out is
anybody's guess in this volatile election year.
- With all of the above "theater" going on, John McCain
is finding himself below the radar screen, especially after the
deserved repudiation of the recent NYTimes hatchet job. But he
will make a mistake if he now goes on defense and tries to play it
safe. Senator McCain has earned a great deal of
political capital with main-stream Republicans and with many
Independents through his principled positions and consistency...but he
has to invest and spend it through a continued assertive
candidacy. And he should give the public a lesson in Civics
regarding "lobbyists". The truth is that neither
Federal nor State government could operate without the informational
function played by lobbying. As with everything else
relating to human endeavors, those functions can be and are misused by
both lobbyists and their targets. But "Lobbying" is not
inherently a dirty word.
- As for Health Care Reform, only McCain tells
the truth, as he did to the third generation factory workers in
Detroit. The others still want to make an omelet without breaking
any eggs. My position on this subject has been a matter of record
since the mid-1970's, and can be found in various sections on this
web-site. The indispensable ingredient: INDIVIDUAL
- The Economy. Everyone wants bail-outs
to shield them from their own greed and ignorance. Folks, actions
must have consequences. And this should be a teachable
moment to get this nation's economy on a track that is more sustainable
than the current dependence on spending and "consumerism". If we
don't do it now, we will have another Great Depression within the next
few years. And then we will have the Armegeddon.
SUNDAY, February 24, 2008
- Here is 10 year old news: people are avoiding DNA
tests because of the possible (probable) misuse by insurance
companies (and everybody else) (see the NYTimes article today,
pA1). And Congress has still not passed adequate
legislation safeguarding such critical personal information. Why
am I not surprised?
- Serbia and Serbians. SHAME ON YOU!
You have never apologized for the ethnic cleansing you engaged in
during the last decade. And you insist that a region which is 90%
Albanian really should be yours. Very brave, so long as you have
the backing of Russia.
- And that brings up Putin and his once-again autocratic
Russia. SHAME ON YOU, ALSO. You even had the gall
to suggest that you might introduce military action to thwart the
independence of Kosovo, independence supported by a 90% majority of its
people and by the EU and the US. IRRESPONSIBLE. RECKLESS.
The rest of the world has to get off its "addiction to oil" as the only
way to cut these despots down to size. (See also "The New
Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West", by
Edward Lucas, Palgrave Macmilan, 2007).
- The Democrats are united in asking: "Afghanistan or Iraq?"
Whoever is allowed to define the question in a debate usually wins that
debate. Here, the issue is not "either/or",
but "both/and". The Democrats just don't get
it...or worse: they may be willing to take a reckless chance with our
safety in order to have the Federal funds to buy their
constituencies. And all this is occurring while our Military is
going into starvation mode.
- The NYTimes regarding their screed about John McCain.
Even their own public editor has berated them for their yellow
journalism. Lacking facts after months of research failed to stop
- Barack Obama: still Elmer Gantry.
- The New London Times and The Day this week have been pouring a
lot of ink into stories about public education
here. Board of Education President Alvin Kinsall
correctly noted that the Board is a creature of the State Board of
Education, and as such is responsible for education. But whose
education? That of the students of New London, or also of
students from surrounding towns? New London has the distinction
(perhaps dubious) of being the first town in the State to be selected
for a Magnet School District. To the benefit of whom? The
answer must address two issues. The financial issues have been
addressed by my son and City Councilor Adam Sprecace (and sadly not by
the Board of Education) in a detailed analysis which may be found on
his web-site (www.sprecace.com). The
educational issues...as they relate to the benefit to New London
students...have not yet been convincingly addressed.
That's the responsibility of Mr. Kinsall and of Superintendent Clouet.
Dr. Clouet is the subject of a generally positive article in
today's The Day, despite the abysmal performance of too many students
despite his several years on the job. And then there is the
ever-present criticism of the No Child Left Behind legislation
by the educators, who cannot agree about the proper way to teach both
mathematics and reading...but are in agreement in their
opposition to teacher accountability. Folks, you will have
to do a better job of educating and convincing the public before we can
embrace this proposed initiative as something much more than another
band-aid on cancer.
When this elder
statesman speaks, we need to listen. GS
Interview with Henry Kissinger: 'Europeans Hide Behind the Unpopularity
of President Bush'
DER SPIEGEL 8/2008 - February 18,2008
SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH HENRY KISSINGER
'Europeans Hide Behind the Unpopularity of President Bush'
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 84, has thrown his
support behind John McCain. SPIEGEL spoke with Kissinger about
Germany's Afghanistan mission, tepid European commitment to combatting
Islamist extremism and whether direct talks with Iran should go ahead.
SPIEGEL: Dr. Kissinger, you have endorsed Senator John McCain as your
choice for the White House. McCain, though, has said he would be
prepared to stay in Iraq for another 100 years. Are you sure he is the
right man for the job?
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger thinks that John McCain
would make the best choice for the next US president. He would also
like to see more European involvement in the fight against Islamist
Kissinger: John and I have been friends for 30 years. I have great
confidence in him.
SPIEGEL: Most Americans would like to see a rapid withdrawal from Iraq
and possibly Afghanistan. But McCain has made his motto "No Surrender."
Kissinger: He was trying to make a distinction between American
military forces in a country where they were there as part of a civil
war and military forces that are part of an alliance accepted by the
population, such as in Germany after World War II. He did not say we
should stay in Iraq in a combat mission. He was trying to make exactly
the opposite point.
SPIEGEL: The Democrats have promised a rapid withdrawal. Is this a
Kissinger: The issue is: Are American forces withdrawn as part of a
political settlement? Or are they withdrawn because America is
exhausted by the war? In the latter case, the consequences of an
American withdrawal would be catastrophic.
SPIEGEL: Do you think there would be another eruption of violence?
Kissinger: There would be a high possibility of killing fields. Radical
Islam won't stop because we withdraw. A rapid withdrawal would be a
demonstration in the region of the impotence of Western power. Hamas,
Hezbollah, and al-Qaida would achieve a more dominant role, and the
ability of Western nations to shape events would be sharply reduced.
The virus would have huge consequences for all countries with large
Muslim populations: India, Indonesia, and large parts of Europe.
SPIEGEL: That is not how many Europeans see it.
Kissinger: Some Europeans do not want to understand that this is not an
American problem alone. The consequences of such an outcome would be at
least as serious for Europe as for the Americans.
SPIEGEL: What does Europe not understand? Paris, London and Berlin do
not see the "war on terror" as a common challenge for the West?
Kissinger: I don't like the term "war on terror" because terror is a
method, not a political movement. We are in a war against radical Islam
that is trying to overthrow the moderate elements in the Islamic world
and which is fundamentally challenging the secular structures of
Western societies. All this is happening at a difficult period in
SPIEGEL: Difficult why?
Kissinger: The major events in European history were conducted by
nation-states which developed over several hundred years. There was
never a question in the mind of European populations that the state was
authorized to ask for sacrifices and that the citizens had a duty to
carry it out. Now the structure of the nation-state has been given up
to some considerable extent in Europe. And the capacity of governments
to ask for sacrifices has diminished correspondingly.
SPIEGEL: Thirty years ago, you asked for one phone number that could be
used to call Europe.
Kissinger: ... and it happened. The problem now is: Nation-states have
not just given up part of their sovereignty to the European Union but
also part of their vision for their own future. Their future is now
tied to the European Union, and the EU has not yet achieved a vision
and loyalty comparable to the nation-state. So, there is a vacuum
between Europe's past and Europe's future.
SPIEGEL: What do you expect from European leaders? Should German
Chancellor Angela Merkel step up and ask the Germans to make sacrifices
in the fight against terrorism?
Kissinger: I think Angela Merkel, like any leader, has to think of her
re-election. I have high regard for her. But I do not know many
Europeans who would deny that the victory of radical Islam in Baghdad,
Beirut or Saudi Arabia would have huge consequences for the West.
However, they are not willing to fight to prevent it.
SPIEGEL: For example in Afghanistan. Does NATO need more German troops
in the southern part of the country?
Kissinger: I think it is obvious that the United States cannot
permanently do all the fighting for Western interests by itself. So,
two conclusions are possible: Either there are no Western interests in
the region and we don't fight. Or there are vital Western interests in
the region and we have to fight. That means we need more German and
NATO troops <http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,535925,00.html
in Afghanistan. What I am not comfortable with is that some NATO
members send troops primarily for non-combat missions. That cannot be a
healthy situation in the long term.
SPIEGEL: Many Germans say we have to stand up to the terrorists, but
that Germans can't do the actual fighting, partly because of our
history. You are intimately familiar with German history -- your family
left Germany when you were nearly 15 years old. Is it fair for today's
Germany to refer to the constraints of history?
Kissinger: I understand it, but it is not a sustainable position. In
the long run, we cannot have two categories of members in the NATO
alliance: those that are willing to fight and others that are trying to
be members la carte. That cannot work for long.
SPIEGEL: Do you think the Germans can be persuaded to change their
Kissinger: The Germans have to decide that for themselves. But if they
stick to that attitude, Germany would be a different kind of nation
than Britain or France or others.
SPIEGEL: Isn't German and European opposition to a greater military
involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq also a result of deep distrust of
Kissinger: By this time next year, we will see the beginning of a new
administration. We will then discover to what extent the Bush
administration was the cause or the alibi for European-American
disagreements. Right now, many Europeans hide behind the unpopularity
of President Bush. And this administration made several mistakes in the
SPIEGEL: What do you see as the biggest mistakes?
Kissinger: To go into Iraq with insufficient troops, to disband the
Iraqi army, the handling of the relations with allies at the beginning
even though not every ally distinguished himself by loyalty. But I do
believe that George W. Bush has correctly understood the global
challenge we are facing, the threat of radical Islam, and that he has
fought that battle with great fortitude. He will be appreciated for
SPIEGEL: In 50 years, historians will treat his legacy more kindly?
Kissinger: That will happen much earlier.
SPIEGEL: Will the next president of the United States ask for a greater
Kissinger: It is not impossible that a new administration will say that
we can't go on without more European commitment. And that they would
use this as an excuse for withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan. I don't
think John McCain would do that, though.
SPIEGEL: Barack Obama also says the conflict in Pakistan is the war
Americans really need to win. Is he right?
Kissinger: You can always say there is some other war I would rather
want to fight than the one I am in. What does it mean to fight the war
in Pakistan? Should we use military power to control the tribal regions
in Pakistan and to conduct military operations in a region which
Britain failed to pacify in over 100 years of colonization? Should we
use military force to prevent a radical take-over of the Pakistani
government? Should we prevent the Pakistani state from splitting up
into three or four ethnically based groups? I don't think we have the
capacity to do that.
SPIEGEL: What about pushing for more military action against al-Qaida
terrorists in the border regions with Afghanistan?
Kissinger: The audience listening to such exhortations believes that
there is a master plan to bring another government there and that this
democratic government will fight the tribal regions. In the short-term,
this is an illusion.
SPIEGEL: What would be your advice for dealing with radical Islam and
the governments in the region?
Kissinger: You cannot simultaneously attempt to overthrow the
government of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan in the name of democracy
and fight radical Islam. The democratization processes and the war
against radical Islam have a different time frame.
SPIEGEL: Is it time for a strategic reassessment? You have experience
with that: In the 1970s, Richard Nixon and you stunned the world by
flying to China and sitting down with the Communist dictator Mao.
Kissinger: We did not wake up one morning and say it would be beautiful
to talk to Mao. Nixon and I both believed we needed to bring China into
the international system. We tried to connect objective reality with
moral considerations. And objective reality was changed by the
Sino-Soviet tensions and the consequent commitment by Beijing to
SPIEGEL: Times have changed, but such moral considerations still exist.
Should the new US president fly to Tehran and sit down with Mahmoud
Kissinger: Some believe that the mere act of conversation will alter
the tension. I believe that negotiations succeed only if they reflect
an objective reality. The key issue with Iran is whether it sees itself
as a cause or as a nation. If Iran wants to be a respected nation-state
in the region without claiming religious or imperial domination, then
we should be able to come to some form of understanding. But we will
not reach that goal unless Iran realizes that this is not a historical
opportunity to resurrect Persian dreams of glory.
SPIEGEL: And the Iranians need to feel Western pressure to come to that
Kissinger: We need a mixture of pressure and incentives. We must
realize that painless sanctions are a contradiction.
SPIEGEL: Sounds like the old game of carrots and sticks. You think the
US president should meet with an Iranian leader only after painful
Kissinger: You would never start with such a step. Nixon sat down with
Mao three years after we had initial contact. I think a meeting with an
Iranian president would be at the end of a process, not the very
SPIEGEL: But looking at legacy again, will historians look back one day
and write: The Iraq adventure prevented the US from focusing on other
strategic challenges -- such as the rapid rise of India and China? Is
the Superpower distracted rather than over-stretched?
Kissinger: I think we face three challenges currently: The
disappearance of the nation-state; the rise of India and China; and,
thirdly, the emergence of problems and challenges that cannot be solved
by a single power, such as energy and the environment. We do not have
the luxury to focus on one problem; we have to deal with all three of
them or we won't succeed with any of them. The rise of Asia will be an
enormous event. But we cannot say that we should therefore keep other
challenges, such as the fight against radical Islam, in abeyance.
SPIEGEL: Is China still a partner or primarily a rival?
Kissinger: China has to be treated as a potential partner. We must use
all ingenuity to create a system in which the great states of Asia --
which really are not nation-states in the European sense but large
conglomerates of cultures -- can participate. We have no choice.
SPIEGEL: Does the fact that "guided democracies" like Russia or China
are currently more successful in economic terms undermine the
attractiveness of Western-style democracy? Is that a new model that is
becoming attractive for young people?
Kissinger: The problem of guided democracies is that they have great
difficulties solving the problem of succession and of giving access to
the widest possible pool of talent. China has come closer to solving
that problem than any other undemocratic system. I believe that the
democratic model is better and more durable for the future but not
automatically. It depends on our vision and determination.
SPIEGEL: Mr. Kissinger, thank you very much for taking the time to
speak with us.
Interview conducted by Gregor Peter Schmitz and Gabor Steingart in New
FRIDAY, February 22, 2008
- Preston, Ct. is seeking ideas regarding future
development for the old Norwich Hospital site. Here's an
idea. Return it to a psychiatric and drug rehabilitation
facility. There are plenty of patients waiting, along
the highways and by-ways. Over 60% of the "homeless" are either
mentally ill and/or drug addicted. That's because Ted Kennedy and
company promised in the late 1960's to close the mental
hospitals and to provide their clients with needed help on an
out-patient basis. The did the former...never did the latter.
A travesty perpetrated on society - but mainly on
- Who is watching Iran regarding its nuclear
ambitions? You can be sure that Israel is.
- Another bailout for the banks and investment types?
The only help I would agree to is a Federally legislated conversion of
all "adjustable" mortgages to fixed mortgages at 6% for 30 years, with
pre-payment option. These vultures deserve no less. And
home-owners who can't hack that should never have been in the housing
market in the first place...and may have to wait a little longer.
- We keep hearing about energy independence in
the context of finding more of our own oil and using more coal.
WHAT ABOUT NUCLEAR ENERGY? "Is anybody there? Does
- We keep hearing about "privacy". What
privacy? The privacy that we don't give up ourselves with
our "MySpace", our Blogs, our "Chat Rooms" and our wireless gadgets is
taken from us daily by our electronic transactions and through the
totally insecure Internet. We learned today that even
sophisticated "encryption" can be breached simply by treating
hard-drives with a dose of cold. Maybe the only people who are
stressing "privacy" are those described in the book by Sudhir Alladi
Venkatesh entitled "Off The Books: The Underground Economy Of The
Urban Poor" (Harvard University Press, 2006)...and by those who
really have something to hide - like terrorists. A little
hyperbole here; but you get the point. Privacy must give
way to security in times of war...like now.
- For those interested in the City of New London, Ct., that
perennial soap opera, check out
the Public Access show hosted by my son and City
Councilor Adam Sprecace, Fridays at 5:00 PM on MetroCast Channel
25. It's like Cliff Notes for the people.
THURSDAY, February 18 through 21, 2008
"NO BRAINER" EDITION
missile shoots down disabled satellite. Only Good.
"Yeabuts" butt out.
Bush says that U.S. has no designs on Africa. Oh yeah?
Patrick's Day during Holy Week this year. Folks, let's see just
how good Catholics you are.
sun in Sunnyvale, Ca. has given some folks there sunstroke.
Wanting to cut down Redwood trees that are shading solar panels.
Look up: "Coming to the nuisance". Look up: "First in time, first
on active duty in wartime conditions and in battle being placed on
trial for "murder". The Criminal Law needs modification in
principles and in application here.
vs Globalization. Who is winning here? Now 193 countries...and
new ones popping up everywhere. So, who do you think is winning?
in New London, Ct., "half-way houses" for both out-patients and
in-patients in downtown buildings? "HELL NO. IT WON'T GO!"
SUNDAY, February 17, 2008
Today, some very rapid responses to news of the day.
- U.N. audit of Internal corruption reveales
bribes, scandals and criminal activity. That's a "dog bites man"
- Security vs Privacy debates. In times of
war and clear danger, the former has always trumped the latter.
- "Rough Interrogation" vs "Torture". There
are legitimate differences, in technique and in circumstances.
- Today, we learned about yet another form of Wall Street
shooting craps: "credit default swaps" (see NYTimes today,
pA1). And these irresponsible high rollers want us to bail them
out when they bet wrong?
- McCain and Bush, according to the liberal media:
"temper" and "stubborness". Or read: "righteous indignation" and
- Finally, a worthy story about Immigration: "New
Formula For Becomming An American", by Anna Gorman, Los
Angeles Times (reported in The Day today, pE1). This relates to
the Bush administration's Federal effort through the U.S. Office of
Citizenship. Maybe the diatribes will change to dialogue, at long
- Another debate, fueled by the Archbishop of Canterbury: Civil
/ Criminal vs Religious Courts.
Another great leap backward?
- "Health Care: Where Do The Candidates Stand",
by Craig Stoltz (in The Day today, pE1). And now, my answers to
the questions posed. 1) All Americans will be required to have health
insurance, in one form or another; 2) All employers with 10 or more
employees will be required at least to contribute to employees' Health
Savings Accounts, which all employees will be required to have...with
or without Federal subsidies; 3) The Federal Government will be required
to bargain with drug companies for domestically produced
medicines; 4) No embryonic stem cell research will be
federally funded; 5) Individual coverage, through HSA's, is about
to become the next big product for the health insurance market,
incorporating a unique brake on health care spending...individual
decision-making...a thoroughly ignored "no-brainer" for the last 30
Alright, this last one was not "very rapid". But it is at
least concise, and from a physician / attorney who has been in medical
practice and in the battle for the last 45 years...and counting.
SATURDAY, February 15 and 16, 2008
- The Democratic Party is cooking up a witches'
brew with their high-handed rules about when States can have their
primaries and the punishment for those that do not comply. Where
do they come off dis-enfranchizing Michigan and Florida
Democrats? And how they handle their "super-delegates" could
become a super-cell storm for them.
- The North Illinois University tragedy, following
on several others, and added to the fact that nearly 70% of the
"homeless" are mentally ill and/or addicts, points up the bad job
society is doing with its psychiatrically challenged members. And
enough about "privacy" when it involves membership in social
communities. These people need to be identified and to be cared
for properly...for their good and for the good of the rest of us.
- CRIME PAYS. Or haven't you noticed that
from all the "suspended sentences" meted out for felonious
activities. Are these judges, or mis-guided social workers?
- The use of steroids, legally or otherwise, is
associated with many possible side-effects...to which must now be added
one more: LYING. My kids have often told me that I could be
a great defense attorney. But Roger, you're making it pretty
difficult even for me.
- The City of New London, Ct. now has a serious
problem: the current suit alleging that the educators
have been cooking the books in order to improve the number of
highschool graduations and to reduce failure rates (see the editorial
in The Day today, pA6). In my opinion, the suit is a fortunate
development. That mechanism, with its recourse to the Discovery
process, should be allowed to proceed before any of us jump to
conclusions...however difficult that will be.
THURSDAY, February 12 through 14, 2008
- McCain and the sclerotic "Ultras".
Evangelicals and other ultra-right Conservatives should know better
than anyone that perfection can only be achieved in Heaven. John
McCain is not perfect...but he is very good, including regarding McCain-Feingold
and on judicial nominees. See Cal Thomas' article, published in
The Day (Wed. Feb. 13, pA7) entitled "Redefining What Conservatism
- The most recent version of "Pork": 1) the
"Stimulus Package" just passed, as mainly a sop to political
constituents; and 2) the cries from Corporate America for yet another
bail-out by tax-payers for their stupid and greedy mistakes regarding
sub-prime lending. And Obama is going to "Change" this?
Rots a Ruck!
- Coming soon to an election year near you:
1) Obama wins the delegate count; 2) Hillary gets the nomination
through super-delegates, after a bruising battle at the Democratic
National Convention; 3) the Democrats wisely pick Clinton/Obama as
their ticket; 4) the Republicans pick McCain/Huckabee as their ticket;
5) if the Ultras stay home and pout (unlikely), Hillary wins...if the
Ultras soundly support the Republican ticket, McCain wins in a close
- Health Reform and the "uninsured", including the "don't
want to be insured". After nearly 30 years of our
unsuccessfully proposing individual responsibility through Health
Savings Accounts, employers and the insurance industry are finally
coming on board. See "The New Insurance Frontier", by
Matthew Collier and Lisa Walsh (WSJ Monday, Jan. 7, pA12). "But
wait, there's more". If California is truly a window to the
future, Massachusetts is the window to the past. As their
"universal health care" plan is getting into financial trouble,
"capitation" of physicians and hospital fees is once again raising its
ugly and unethical head. Fuggedeboudet.
MONDAY, February 11, 2008
The Crux of the matter regarding
our "allies." GS
Western alliance at risk
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer Sun
Feb 10, 8:36 AM ET
MUNICH, Germany - NATO's
survival is at stake in the debate over how the United States and Europe
should share the burden of fighting Islamic extremism in Afghanistan,
Robert Gates said Sunday.
"We must not — we cannot — become a
two-tiered alliance of those willing to fight and those who are not,"
Gates told the Munich Conference on Security Policy, where Afghanistan
was a central topic.
"Such a development, with all its
implications for collective security, would effectively destroy the
alliance," he added.
Washington has had innumerable disputes
with its NATO
allies in the 59 years since the security alliance was founded
as a bulwark against the former Soviet Union. But Gates portrayed
today's debate over the importance of the mission in Afghanistan and
how to accomplish as among the most difficult ever.
A central theme of Gates' speech was his
assertion that al-Qaida
extremists, either in Afghanistan or elsewhere, pose a greater threat
to Europe than many Europeans realize.
Pentagon chief later took questions from his audience, which
included dozens of top government officials, mainly from Europe and the
U.S., as well as military officers, private security specialists,
members of Congress and European parliamentarians.
A member of the Russian parliament,
leading off the questioning, accused the U.S. of having created today's
al-Qaida threat through American support in the 1980s for the
mujahedeen resistance to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Gates disputed that assertion, but said
he did regret that the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviets
withdrew in 1989.
"The threat from al-Qaida began with the
Soviet invasion of a sovereign state in December 1979, a state that up
to that point had not represented a threat to anybody in the world,
except to a certain extent its own people because of its weakness and
poverty," Gates said.
Also addressing the conference was Sergei
Ivanov, the former Russian defense minister who is now a deputy prime
minister. He advocated joining forces to fight international terrorism,
but suggested the U.S. has motives that are out of step with those of Russia and
"Some states strive to exploit
anti-terrorist activities as a pretext to achieving their own
geopolitical and economic goals," Ivanov said, apparently referring to
the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In his speech, Gates praised NATO allies
for their contributions in Afghanistan, where the Taliban movement
ruled in Kabul and provided a haven for Osama bin Laden's
al-Qaida network until U.S. forces invaded after the attacks of Sept.
11, 2001. But he said pointedly that more effort is needed and the
alliance must find a way to win the fight against a resurgent Taliban.
"In NATO, some
allies ought not have the luxury of opting only for stability and
civilian operations, forcing other allies to bear a disproportionate
share of the fighting and the dying," Gates said.
He named no individual countries; U.S.
officials have been pressing Germany to
NATO, through its International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) is in charge of the military mission in
Afghanistan. The top commander is an American, Army Gen. Daniel
McNeill, and the U.S. is the biggest provider of troops. Of the 42,000
total ISAF troops, about 14,000 are American. The U.S. has an
additional 13,000 separately hunting terrorists and training Afghan
Gen. John Craddock, the NATO supreme commander, said in an interview
shortly before Gates' appearance that the troops in Afghanistan would
be making more progress if they had the resources they were promised
more than a year ago. He said they are short at least three maneuver
battalions, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
tools to track movements on the ground.
Referring to a "paucity of troops,"
Craddock said the commanders in Afghanistan are like the coach of an
11-player soccer team that is competing with two players short. He said
the effect is that the commanders are unable to attack and defend as
aggressively as they would like.
"Give us the resources," Craddock said in
the interview with U.S. reporters traveling with Gates.
In his speech, Gates said the Bush
administration had learned from mistakes made in Iraq,
including the need to more closely integrate the civilian-led
stabilization efforts with the military efforts. He said the U.S. and
NATO must apply that lesson in Afghanistan to assure success.
Gates is hoping to persuade Europeans
that they have a big stake in the outcome in Afghanistan.
"I am concerned that many people on this
continent may not comprehend the magnitude of the direct threat to
European security," posed by radical elements in Afghanistan, he said.
The defense secretary, who was a career
CIA officer before retiring in 1993, said his remarks on Afghanistan
were meant to reach "directly to the people of Europe" in
a bid to persuade them on the war's importance.
"The threat posed by violent Islamic
extremism is real — and it is not going to go away," he said, adding
that Europe has seen a string of terrorist attacks — in London, Madrid,
Paris and Glasgow, Scotland.
He ticked off a list of plots that were disrupted before they could be
carried out, including a plan to use ricin and release cyanide in the
London Underground and a planned chemical attack in Paris.
"It raises the question: What would
happen if the false success they proclaim became real success? If they
triumphed in Iraq or Afghanistan, or managed to topple the government
of Pakistan? Or a major Middle Eastern government?
"Aside from the chaos that would
instantly be sown in the region, success there would beget success on
many other fronts as the cancer metastasized further and more rapidly
than it already has," Gate said.
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, February 9 and 10, 2008
Another busy news cycle.
From The Foreign Desk:
- NATO. The Crux of the matter regarding
our "allies" is displayed in the report, to follow tomorrow, regarding
NATO's foot-dragging in Afghanistan. That includes the U.N., in
spades. We always must act in our self-interest. "Allies"
and "friends" come - for a time - only when we can project power and
- Rockets continue to be lobbed into Israel by idiots.
What would we do if rockets were to begin coming in from Canada
into New England...or from Mexico into the Southwest? You're
- Turkey will be the awkward laboratory for the meeting of
East and West. Its Parliament has revoked a ban on
Muslim women wearing scarves. A good step, not like the unbelievable
proposal by the Archbishop of Canterbury: that Islamic Sharia
Law should rule the Muslims in England, rather than English Law.
The taller they stand, the harder they fall.
- Putin is still objecting to our missle defense
shield to be posted in Europe. A very good sign.
- What does the liberal media coverage of Iraq
and "The Lies of Tet" have in common? (See the article
by Arthur Herman in the WSJ Wednesday, Feb. 6, pA19). "All
The News We Want to Print".
- The Army sniper just convicted of killing an
"unarmed Iraqi" gets some sympathy from me...except for his efforts to
mislead the authorities. The coverup is so often worse than the
action; and it completely destroys any attempt at defense.
From the Home Desk:
- The "Stimulus Package": Christmas in
February. It was passed in the clearly expressed and fervent
hope that Americans would remain irresponsible by continuing to spend
way beyond their means...instead of saving and paying down debt.
What cheery cynicism. And then there's the matter of the lessons
of history. See "The Next Great Depression",
by economist Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson, in The Day (www.theday.com),
Feb. 10, E4. "The main lesson we need to learn from the Great
Depression is that government programs prolong, rather than
- "Mitt Romney's Exit" (The Boston Globe
editorial, Feb. 8). What a scalding, from people in a position to
- John McCain is still dealing with pouting
ultra-Conservatives. See the article by Charles Krauthammer in
The Day Feb. 8, pA11. We hope they get over it in time.
- Hillary and Obama. Hillary is taking a
beating from the "haters" and from ultra-liberals for whom she is too
"moderate". Obama is proving that "blood is thicker than water",
taking most of the Black vote. And he is supported by the
young people, who think that youth and good intentions trump
experience and reality. That leaves the Latino vote in
play. Conservative Republicans having been doing their best to
throw away that vote for years to come. Is anybody thinking
From the Local Desk:
- We read today that the Federal Government is proposing new
rules to govern the ports of call of cruise
ships, evidently for political reasons, while other ports will
see their investments in this source of business evaporate. Where
humanly possible, don't depend on the "government" for anything except
for security. And even there, hedge your bet. (See "The
Real FDA Scandal", WSJ editorial, Feb. 6, pA18).
- And here's a recent action by the majority-Democratic
New London City Council that does not pass "the Smell
Test"; agreeing to sell a waterfront parcel of city land
to one favored business despite the unacknowledged statement of
interest by another adjacent business, timely offered...and also
without a public hearing required by State Law. Folks, you're
already under suit in a Writ of Mandamus for having ignored the Law on
another issue last Fall. What's going on here?
FRIDAY, February 8, 2008
FOUR GREAT STORIES (Authors Unknown)
When in England
at a fairly large
conference, Colin Powell
was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq
were just an
example of empire building' by George
He answered by saying, "Over the years, the
has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight
freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked
in return is enough to bury those that did not return ".
It became very quiet in the room.
Then there was a conference in France
where a number of
international engineers were taking part, including French and American.
During a break one of the French engineers came back into the room
Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an
carrier to Indonesia
to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended
to do, bomb them? "
engineer stood up
and replied quietly: "Our
carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred
people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical
to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to
3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand
fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen
for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight
We have eleven such ships; how many does France
Once again, dead silence.
A U.S. Navy
attending a naval conference that
included Admirals from the U.S.
, English, Canadian,
Australian and French
At a cocktail reception, he found himself
standing with a
large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those
countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their
but a French admiral suddenly complained that, "whereas Europeans learn
languages, Americans learn only English" He then asked: "Why is it that
always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking
Without hesitating, the American Admiral
replied: " Maybe
it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so
wouldn't have to speak German."
You could have heard a pin drop.
A group of Americans, retired teachers,
recently went to
on a tour. Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in
At French Customs, he took a few minutes to
passport in his carry on: "You have been to France
before, monsieur???" the
customs officer asked sarcastically.
Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France
"Then you should know enough to have your
The American said, "The last time I was
here, I didn't have
to show it."
"Impossible. Americans always have to show
your passports on
arrival in France
The American senior gave the Frenchman a
long hard look.
Then he quietly explained:... "Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach
D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find any damned
Frenchmen to show it to !!!"
THURSDAY, February 6 and 7, 2008
HEREWITH, SOME ELECTION SELECTION SENTIMENTS.
- Hillary Clinton. To paraphrase Gen. George
Patton, in the movie, after trouncing Rommel in the African desert: "You magnificent
bastard...I read your book." Hillary, I read the
recent book about you: "Her Way", by Garth and Van
Natta. "Don't leave home without it".
- Barack Obama. After watching him for
months with a vague sense of unease, I finally figured it out. Do
you remember Burt Lancaster in the movie "Elmer Gantry"?
- Mike Huckabee. A good man. A great
Vice Presidential nominee.
- Rudy Giuliani. A good man. Needs a
longer resume. Rudy. Rudy...another time.
- And then we have John McCain. From the
beginning, the best of the lot. But, according to a Russian
proverb: "The nail that sticks out the highest gets hit the hardest".
He is being beset, obviously and subtly, by the Democrats who rightly
fear his electability. He is being beset, not so subtly, by
ultra-Conservatives, who would hate for him to go to the Party without
them. But he is a man who knows and is comfortable with himself
and his principles...and is yet willing and able to engage in
compromise when principle is not involved. In my opinion, just
what America needs at this moment in our history.
TUESDAY, February 5, 2008
WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
> How Can Someone Who Lives in
Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?
> By Ben Stein
> As I begin to write this, I 'slug' it, as we writers say,
which means I
> put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This
> 'eonlineFIN AL,' and it gives me a shiver to write it. I
have been doing
> this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I
started. I loved
> writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it
> It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing
as a person
> and the world's change have overtaken it. On a small scale,
> while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as
it used to.
> It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely
some stars. I
> saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a
nice visit, and
> right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren
Beatty in an
> elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was
> movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was,
> probably will be again.
> Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think
> Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly
> friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to
> But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing
> reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a
> we should all look up to.
> How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and
lives in insane
> luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean
> bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are
> riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or
> trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while
> Vietnamese girls do their n ails.
> They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not
heroes to me any
> longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division
> his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He
could have been met
> by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an
> Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the
> A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a
bomb next to a
> road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went
off and killed
> A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is
> soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a
> unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a
> pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it
exploded. He left a
> family desolate in California and a little girl alive in
> The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who
> weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even
> of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and
> the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.
> We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the
cove rs of our
> magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on
> but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and
> and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and
> I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that
has such poor
> values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending
> who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.
> There are plenty of other stars in the American
> and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no
idea if they
> will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in
> have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for
> teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into
> autistic children; the kind men and women who work in
hospices and in
> cancer wards.
> Think of each and every fireman who was running up the
stairs at the
> World Trade Center as the towers beg an to collapse. Now you
have my idea
> of a real hero.
> I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only
> matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it
> way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as
> or as good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred
> as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a
> Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.
> But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my
wife and, above
> all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me.
This came to
> be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my
> well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my
> help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their
declining years. I
> stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and
then into a
> coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me
reading him the
> This was the only point at which my life touched the lives
> soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York . I came to
> life lived to help others is the only one that matters and
that it is my
> duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon
me, to help
> others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best
use as a
> Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God
MONDAY, February 4, 2008
Journal: McCain And The Supreme Court
By Steven G. Calabresi and John O.
The conservative movement has made
enormous gains over the past three decades in restoring constitutional
government. The Roberts Supreme Court shows every sign of building on
Yet the gulf between Democratic and
Republican approaches to constitutional law and the role of the federal
courts is greater than at any time since the New Deal. With a
Democratic Senate, Democratic presidents would be able to confirm
adherents of the theory of the "Living Constitution" -- in essence
empowering judges to update the Constitution to advance their own
conception of a better world. This would threaten the jurisprudential
gains of the past three decades, and provide new impetus to judicial
activism of a kind not seen since the 1960s.
We believe that the nomination of John
McCain is the best option to preserve the ongoing restoration of
constitutional government. He is by far the most electable Republican
candidate remaining in the race, and based on his record is as likely
to appoint judges committed to constitutionalism as Mitt Romney, a
candidate for whom we also have great respect.
We make no apology for suggesting that
electability must be a prime consideration. The expected value of any
presidential candidate for the future of the American judiciary must be
discounted by the probability that the candidate will not prevail in
the election. For other kinds of issues, it may be argued that it is
better to lose with the perfect candidate than to win with an imperfect
one. The party lives to fight another day and can reverse the bad
policies of an intervening presidency.
The judiciary is different. On Jan. 20,
2009, six of the nine Supreme Court justices will be over 70. Most of
them could be replaced by the next president, particularly if he or she
is re-elected. Given the prospect of accelerating gains in modern
medical technology, some of the new justices may serve for half a
century. Even if a more perfect candidate were somehow elected in 2012,
he would not be able to undo the damage, especially to the Supreme
Accordingly, for judicial conservatives
electability must be a paramount consideration. By all accounts, Mr.
McCain is more electable than Mr. Romney. He runs ahead or even with
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the national polls, and actually
leads the Democratic candidates in key swing states like Wisconsin. Mr.
Romney trails well behind both Democratic candidates by double digits.
The fundamental dynamic of this race points in Mr. McCain's way as
well. He appeals to independents, while Mr. Romney's support is largely
confined to Republicans.
With many more Republican senators up for
re-election than Democrats, the nomination of Mr. Romney could easily
lead to a Goldwater-like debacle, in which the GOP loses not only the
White House but also its ability in practice to filibuster in the
Senate. Thus, even if we believed that Mr. Romney's judicial
appointments were likely to be better than Mr. McCain's -- and we are
not persuaded of that -- we would find ourselves hard-pressed to
support his candidacy, given that he is so much less likely to make any
appointments at all.
In fact, there is no reason to believe
that Mr. McCain will not make excellent appointments to the court. On
judicial nominations, he has voted soundly in the past from Robert Bork
in 1987 to Samuel Alito in 2006. His pro-life record also provides a
surety that he will not appoint judicial activists.
We recognize that there are two plausible
sources of disquiet. Mr. McCain is perhaps the foremost champion of
campaign-finance regulation, regulation that is hard to square with the
First Amendment. Still, a President McCain would inevitably have a
broader focus. Securing the party's base of judicial conservatives is a
necessary formula for governance, as President Bush himself showed when
he swiftly dropped the ill-conceived nomination of Harriet Miers.
Perhaps more important, because of the
success of constitutionalist jurisprudence, a McCain administration
would be enveloped by conservative thinking in this area. The strand of
jurisprudential thought that produced Sen. Warren Rudman and Justice
David Souter is no longer vibrant in the Republican Party.
Others are concerned that Mr. McCain was
a member of the "Gang of 14," opposing the attempt to end filibusters
of judicial nominations. We believe that Mr. McCain's views about the
institutional dynamics of the Senate are a poor guide to his
performance as president. In any event, the agreement of the Gang of 14
had its costs, but it played an important role in ensuring that Samuel
Alito faced no Senate filibuster. It also led to the confirmation of
Priscilla Owens, Janice Rogers Brown and Bill Pryor, three of President
George W. Bush's best judicial appointees to the lower federal courts.
Conservative complaints about Mr.
McCain's role as a member of the Gang of 14 seem to encapsulate all
that is wrong in general with conservative carping over his candidacy.
It makes the perfect the enemy of the very good results that have been
achieved, thanks in no small part to Mr. McCain, and to the very likely
prospect of further good results that might come from his election as
SUNDAY, February 3, 2008
Short and To The Point...
- Hillary could lose the nomination if she doesn't
divorce Bill, at least politically.
- If you forgot what Bill was like, check out
the special section devoted to him on this web site, set up right after
he left the White House.
- It appears that Obama is not as inexperienced
as we think. Check out the long article in today's NYTimes (pA1)
about his wheeling and dealing over his own "Love Canal" issue in
Illinois. So much for "Change".
- There's no denying that Romney is a
"suit". But for me he is an empty suit, and reversible at
- John McCain is the "Geraldine" of politics:
"WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GIT". The worse that can be said of him
is that he engages in "the art of the possible" at times - although
never with regard to bed-rock issues like abortion. On that, and
on judicial nominees, he must and will stand firm. Also, he is
clearly the most electable of the Republican candidates...against any
Democrat...a fairly important point.
- Meanwhile, this country is divided four ways: Liberals,
Conservatives, Radicals and Reactionaries.
Not a difficult choice for the main body of middle-of-the-road
Americans, come November.
- Of course, President Bush continues as the
pinata of this election season. The liberal media have
already interred him alive (see Newsweek, Jan. 28, 2008).
The WSJ points out some good decisions he made (see WSJ Jan. 22, 2007,
pA19: "Tough Calls, Good Calls"). And newspapers like the NYTimes
("All The News That's Fit To Print") continue to
parse the news: "All the news that we permit". See "Buried
WMD Scoop" (WSJ Friday, Feb 1, pA14), re-capping a buried "60
Minutes" interview with George Pero, Saddam Hussein's handler in
captivity, wherein Hussein admitted that he had all the means and
plans to re-constitute an entire WMD program asap. So
much for the "folly" of having invaded Iraq in pre-emptive
self-defense. PS: Mr. Bush still has 10 months to go.
- The Economy. The "treatment" may end up
being worse than the disease: ill-advised, damaging and
- Once again, Health Care Reform is very much in
the news. See a very useful series of articles that appeared in
the WSJ between Jan. 29 and 31: "Employers Explore Health Options";
"The GOP's Prescription for Health Care"; "Health Costs Hinder
Overhaul"; "Terminated"; and "Saying No To Coercive Care".
It's a mixed bag: useful ideas which I have long considered
"no-brainers", mixed in with some ever-popular bromides. See also
the AMA offering: www.VoiceForTheUninsured.org.
And the beat goes on.
- Talking about ideas: the recent best is the administration
proposal to expand college Pell Grants to
students in K-12. Of course, the Teachers' Uniions and
their wholly owned subsidiary (the Democratic Party) will make short
work of that. Still, we can hope, especially that the Black
community, with the most at stake, comes to its senses regarding "Who
Loves Ya, Baby?"
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, February 1 and 2, 2008
realize just how much he's
missed, until I read and remembered some of the stuff he said... and
my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.'
most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the
government and I'm here to help.'
trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's
just that they know so much that isn't so.'
the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too
have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have
looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.'
taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but
doesn't have to take the civil service examination.'
is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and
no sense of responsibility at the other.'
nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a
has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have
learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.'
view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it
moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving,
is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you
disgrace yourself, you can always write a book.'
arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as
the will and moral courage of free men and women.'
we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a
nation gone under.'
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