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
FRIDAY, July 31, 2009
One of the many barnacles encrusting
this scow called "Health Care Reform". GS
The world seen from Rome
Make Health Care Abortion-Neutral
That Reform Not Be Used for Anti-Life Agenda
D.C., JULY 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops' conference
Committee on Pro-Life Activities Chairman is urging lawmakers to amend
a health care reform proposal so that it respects life and conscience
Justin Rigali affirmed this in a July 29 letter addressed to members of
the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, who are currently
debating "America's Affordable Health Choices Act" (H.R. 3200).
underlined the principles already stressed by his colleague, Bishop
William Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human
Development, in a July 17 letter to all congressmen.
cardinal affirmed that the conference views health care "as a basic
right belonging to all human beings, from conception to natural death"
and therefore supports "universal health care reform."
reform should respect human life and dignity, provide access for all --
especially immigrants and the poor -- preserve pluralism with respect
for conscience rights and restrain costs, he stated.
Cardinal Rigali added, "much-needed reform must not become a vehicle
for promoting an 'abortion rights' agenda or reversing longstanding
current policies against federal abortion mandates and funding."
prelate urged the representatives to make this legislation "abortion
neutral" by "preserving longstanding federal policies that prevent
government promotion of abortion and respect conscience rights."
underlined several problems that must be addressed in the proposed act.
the act, the cardinal noted, abortion coverage in private health care
packages could be mandated, and federal abortion funding would increase.
added that this act would invalidate state laws that regulate abortions
and endanger laws that protect conscience rights of health care workers.
Rigali affirmed that "President Obama recently stated that he accepts
these current laws and will do nothing to weaken them."
added, "Congress should make the same pledge, by ensuring that this
legislation will maintain protection for conscience rights."
your actions on these issues," the cardinal told the lawmakers, "you
have the ability to help reform our health care system in a way that
will truly serve the poor and needy and uphold the dignity of all."
evening, an anti-abortion amendment to the act was passed, but was then
rejected in a re-vote a couple of hours later.
amendment would have specified that the health care act would not be
able to require coverage of abortion except in special cases.
new proposal, which later passed with a small majority vote from the
committee, regulates federal funding for abortion.
also stated that although health care plans are not required to pay for
abortions, every region should have at least one plan that does.
committee will break for a recess during the month of August, along
with all congressmen, and will resume the discussion on this act in
THURSDAY, July 27 through 30, 2009
New London, Ct. has a new Superintendent
of Schools. More "rearranging the deck chairs
on the Titanic"?
The following is quoted from the article in The Day (www.theday.com)
on July 30, 2009 entitled "Scores Mixed In CMT, CAPT Results"
- "New London's CAPT scores were also well below state
averages and were either flat or suffered decreases....The number of
students hitting goal in writing is down nearly seven percent from 25.5
to 18.4, while science scores are down one percent."
- "New London Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A.
Fischer, in his second week on the job, said the test results are a
sign that the district "has some work to do."
Need I say more? If you
insist, check out my long-running and continuing series on "Public
Education Politics" on this web site.
SUNDAY, July 25 and 26, 2009
LET'S SEE HOW FAR THIS GOES...AND HOW FAR IT
GETS...AGAINST THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS' UNIONS' RECKLESS
unveils $4 billion school improvement plan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama
on Friday announced a competition for $4 billion in federal grants to
improve academic achievement
and reverse a decline in U.S. public schools.
"In an economy where knowledge is the
most valuable commodity a person
and a country have to offer, the best jobs will go to the best
educated, whether they live in the United States, or India, or China," Obama said.
The president wants states to use funds
from the competition, dubbed the "Race to the Top," to ease limits on
so-called charter schools,
link teacher pay to student achievement and move toward common U.S.
Charter schools receive public funding
but generally are exempt from
some state or local rules and regulations. They are operated as an
alternative to traditional public schools.
"America will not succeed in the 21st century unless we
do a far better job in educating our sons and daughters," Obama said in
an address at the Department of Education.
The $4 billion education grant program
was created under the $787 billion economic stimulus plan
passed by Congress and signed into law by Obama in February.
"Rather than divvying it up and handing
it out, we are letting states
and districts compete for it. That's how we can incentivize excellence
and spur reform and launch a race for the top in America's public schools,"
The United States has one of the worst high school dropout rates
in the industrialized world, and its students often rank below those in
other Western nations in reading and math.
Obama has portrayed the drive to improve
education as part of a broader
push to promote economic growth in the face of a deep recession and the
worst U.S. financial crisis in decades.
(Writing by JoAnne Allen and Ross Colvin)
FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2009
After a very busy professional and personal two weeks,
let's review what's been going on...in no particular order.
Although I use several news sources in several media, the Wall Street
Journal is a "must read" as an antidote to the selective and slanted
reportage of much of the rest of the media.
- Michael Jackson: a tragic figure, exploited to
the grave and beyond, even by the likes of the Today show and all the
others. A contrary view...that he was never a victim...was
offered in a recent WSJ article.
- That "renowned" Harvard professor was evidently
a product of affirmative action. "Stupid is as stupid does".
- By the way, if you want to learn more about the highly
vaunted Harvard University, read The Chosen: The Hidden
History of Admission and Exclusion At Harvard, Yale, and
Princeton", by Jerome Karabel, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.
- And then we have "Obamanation". On
December 1, 2008 in this section I wondered aloud about who Barack
Obama really is. I'm starting to see...and the picture is not
reassuring. On both the national and international stage, he has
displayed signs of political and personal immaturity as well as a
worrisome reliance on the politics of race. His insistence on a
quick vote regarding massive Health Care reform is nothing less than
reckless. Not reassuring. Are we going to have to suffer
through another Carter era? This time we can't afford it; and our
children and grandchildren may not survive it. As we learned a
long time ago in typing class: "Now is the time for all good
men to come to the aid of their country."
- Many good articles regarding the Health Care Reform derby
are appearing in the WSJ. Very briefly: the projected "savings"
from elimination of "waste" (aka rationing of our medical care by
bureaucrats) are grossly overstated; the greatly increased cost of
greater utilization is grossly underestimated; and maintenance of
quality of care is taken for granted despite the
guaranteed debilitating pressure on all parts of the delivery
system. And who is taking about the patient's own personal
responsibility for his or her health? No
one...not now, and not during the last 30+ years. That's why
we're in this fix.
- Meanwhile, the world dithers on with its
problems...and that's the "good news".
THURSDAY, JULY 22 and 23, 2009
CLOSE...AND A CIGAR. GS
INDICATORS THAT YOUR EMPLOYER HAS CHANGED TO OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE PLAN:
annual breast exam is done at Hooters.
Directions to your doctor's office include "Take a left when
you enter the trailer park."
(8) The tongue depressors taste
faintly of Fudgesicles.
only proctologist in the plan is "Gus" from Roto-Rooter.
only item listed under Preventative
Care Coverage is "an apple a day."
(5) Your primary care physician
is wearing the pants you gave to Goodwill last month.
patient is responsible for 200% of out-of-network charges," is not a typographical error.
only expense covered 100% is "embalming."
Prozac comes in different colors with little M's on them.
NUMBER ONE SIGN YOU'VE JOINED OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE PLAN:
ask for Viagra, and they give you a Popsicle stick and duct tape.
MONDAY and TUESDAY, JULY 20 and 21, 2009
all: For those of you that were born between the years noted
below, when you read this e-mail it will bring back many memories of
our growing-up days. Pass this on to those that you know who
grew-up in those days and let them have a refresher course!
Those of You Born
1930 - 1979
> TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE
> 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's!!
> First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank
> while they were
> They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and
> didn't get tested for diabetes.
> Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in
> baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-base paints.
> We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors
> cabinets and when we rode
> our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.
> As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car
> no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and
> sometimes no brakes.
> Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was always a
> special treat.
> We drank water
> from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
> We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and
> no one actually died from this.
> We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank
> Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight.
> Because we were
> always outside playing....that's why!
> We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as
> we were back when the
> streetlights came on.
> No one was able
> to reach us all day. And, we were O.K..
> We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and
> then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the
> brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned
> to solve the problem. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's
> and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on
> cable, no video20movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no
> cell phones,
> no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms..
> WE HAD FRIENDS
> and we went outside and found them!
> We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there
> were no lawsuits from these accidents.
> We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not
> live in us forever.
> We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with
> sticks and tennis balls and,
> although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very
> many eyes..
> We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the
> door or rang the bell, or just
> walked in and talked to them.
> Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those
> who didn't had to learn to deal
> with disappointment. Imagine that!!
> The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was
> unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
> These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers,
> problem solvers and inventors ever.
> The past 50 years
> have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had
> freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how
> to deal with it all..
> If YOU are one of them? CONGRATULATIONS! You might want to
> share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as
> kids, before the
> lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for
> our own good.
> While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know
> how brave and lucky their parents were.
> Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors,
> doesn't it ?
> The quote of the
> month is by Jay Leno: "With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of
> control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms
> tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the
> threat of bird flu
> and terrorist attacks. Are we sure this is a good time to take
> God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?'
MONDAY through SUNDAY, JULY 13 throuogh 19, 2009
Dr. McLean, thank you for your prompt and responsive reply.
It speaks well of your leadership of the ACP.
I have many opinions, based on many decades of education, training
and experience; and sharing them benefits both public information and
my well-being. In fact, I have long questioned the more liberal
bent that the ACP leadership has demonstrated on the subject at
hand. As for the AMA, I resigned 20 years ago after 30 years of
membership...not as much for their positions on some topics as for
their lack of effective representative leadership.
I have long recognized that our national medical leadership has
always sought to " have a seat at the table". But when that seat
is under the table, as has so often been the case in recent decades,
well-reasoned and publicized opposition is much the better
approach. That is what is sorely needed now.
your input. I took a look at your web site…you have quite a variety of
topics covered across the spectrum!
are clearly issues within the current legislation which make it far
from perfect, it clearly aligns with many policies for which the ACP had
advocated for many years (and I had the fortunate opportunity to be
part of the ACP’s Health
& Public Policy Committee from 2003-7, so I am familiar with much
of the debate which went into the development of several of these
policv papers) and therefore it is felt to warrant our support at this
If you have
not read some of these detailed policy papers (well-researched and very
evidence-based), I encourage you to look at www.acponline.org/advocacy
to read some of them. I think you will be impressed at their logic and
Even the AMA
(typically not pushing to change the status quo in most situations) had
decided to publicly support this current bill. At times, controversial
political decisions need to be made to keep one’s place at the
decision-making table. I sincerely hope the health reform debate
continues to move forward based on good data-driven evidence and policy
and not misleading propaganda and political “hot-button” reactions.
I have been writing and speaking on this
subject since the mid-1970's. Much of that material is on my web
In fact, a commentary article I published in The Day (theday.com) in
1978 could be re-published today with very little change...because none
of the reforms that are needed have even been honestly discussed to
date...especially patient responsibility. I see the following
coming out of the current proposals: higher cost, lower quality and
less availability. And that will be called "progress".
Dear CT ACP Colleagues,
all the health reform activity on Capitol Hill, many of you may wonder,
"Where's the ACP?"
multiple occasions, the ACP has testified before or given explicit
feedback comments to the various Congressional committees working on
these issues. I encourage you to frequently check the ACP advocacy page
www.acponline.org/advocacy and especially the ACP Advocate blog updated
several times per week by ACP Government Relations guru Bob Doherty
(link on bottom right of ACP home page).
yesterday, he explained how the just released "America's Affordable
Choices Act of 2009 H.R. 3200" is closely aligned with ACP goals and
policies on coverage, workforce, and payment/delivery system reform. It
may not be perfect, but it warrants the support of the internist
difficult to keep up with all the details, but our patients may look to
us for our perspective. In the past week alone, I was asked by six
different patients what I thought about the current direction of health
reform efforts. When I indicated general support for the overall goal
of universal access of affordable insurance and health care (i.e.
President Obama's goals), I was greeted with reassuring nods from each
patient. "I am really glad to hear that from you," they each said.
fully expect a barrage of misleading and inflammatory language (words
like "rationing" and "socialized medicine") from the health reform
opponents over the next several weeks. I plan to post in my office exam
rooms some printed information from the ACP web site regarding reasons
for ACP support of the current legislation. It is one thing I can do to
help encourage public opinion in my community.
a recent fortune cookie advised me, "Turbulence is a life force. It is
opportunity. Let's love turbulence and use it for change."
McLean, M.D., FACP
CT ACP Chapter
SUNDAY, JULY 12, 2009
I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful
life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've
aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've
become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra
cookie, or for not making
my bed, or for
buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante
garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be
I have seen
too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood
the great freedom that comes with aging.
is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep
until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60
&70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love
... I will.
I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched
over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I
choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
They, too, will get old.
I know I am
again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually
remember the important things.
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can
your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers,
or even when
somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what
give us strength and understanding and
heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy
of being imperfect.
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair
turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into
deep grooves on my face.
So many have
never laughed, and so many have died before their
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care
less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore.
earned the right to be wrong.
So, to answer
your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person
I have become. I am not going to live forever,
but while I am
still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or
worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single
day(if I feel like it).
FRIENDSHIP NEVER COME APART ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S STRAIGHT FROM THE
MAY YOU ALWAYS HAVE A RAINBOW OF SMILES ON YOUR FACE AND
IN YOUR HEART FOREVER AND EVER! FRIENDS FOREVER!
SATURDAY, JULY 11, 2009
There are times, few in number I must say, when the erudition and
wisdom of those who write for a living leave me SPEECHLESS.
Today in The Day (www.theday.com
) is one of
You must read The Day Editorial, July 11, 2009, entitled "More
Stimulus Could Wreck Recovery, Not Help" (Opinion,
pA6). You must also read Charles Krauthammer's column entitled "Plenty
of Plumage, But At A Price" (ibid, pA7). "Nuf Sed".
FRIDAY, JULY 6 through 10, 2009
BECAUSE OF THE ENERGY CRISIS,
THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE
HAS BEEN TURNED OFF.
SUNDAY, JULY 5, 2009
Despite the clamor, by the lemmings and the parasites, over the
untimely death of a tragic figure, there is actually some news out
- I hope that this administration knows what is going on with the
leadership of North Korea, which is
trying mightily to provoke us. We should not be provoked.
We should merely be prepared.
- President Obama in Russia. I hope this
doesn't turn out to be an innocent in a house of mirrors. Just
remember: Russians are not Westerners / Occidentals; they are
Orientals. They play by rules different from the West...and they
play for keeps.
- Sarah Palin has bigger cojones than
do most of the leaders of the Republican Party. She is a definite
contender for 2012, especially if this administration continues to
undermine this country's financial base and future.
- At least Colin Powell has noticed this.
After a year of silence since his unfortunate endorsement of Obama for
President, he is again starting to be quoted on national affairs.
"Come on in. The water's fine".
- But what really got my goat today...primed by an editorial
earlier this week in The Day (www.theday.com) stating that the
U.S. Coast Guard Academy (located as the newspaper is in New London,
Ct.) should do whatever it takes to increase the "diversity"
of the student body of that fine institution...is the
information provided in a reply in the Sunday, July 5 edition of
the paper. It is authored by a retired Coast Guard
Captain and a graduate of the Academy class of 1953. It is
titled: "The Down Side Of Striving For Racial Diversity" (The
Day Sunday, July 5, 2009, Voices and Views, pE3). This is another
"must read". It turns out that there are two tracks for
appointment to West Point and especially to Annapolis, despite what the
U.S. Supreme Court decided in the Baake case and its
progeny. And the differences in qualifications are
marked. This is insanity...and it is
patently unfair to those minority students who earn such distinction on
their own valid merits. As the man says: "We report.
You decide." I decided a very long time ago. But the
Black community continues to support a Public Education system that
shamelessly continues to turn out mediocrities instead of educated
citizens. And then there is Judge Sotomajor who
aspires to join the USSC after applying the same ignorant approach in
her decision, just overturned by that same USSC, in the New Haven
Firefighter case. Wild.
SATURDAY, JULY 4, 2009
Health Care Reform. Nothing wrong with the
idea and with the goal. Health care in this country does need
reform. I have addressed in this section what needs to be done,
as I have been doing since the mid-1970's. (Really!
Check it out). But the Obama / Congressional efforts will
make everything worse: access, quality and cost. The Wall
Street Journal has also been doing its best to make these points.
And the following recent articles should be "must-read" for every
person and patient...meaning all of us.
- "Obama's Health Cost Illusion", Editorial Monday, June
8, 2009, Opinion, pA16.
- "ObamaCare Sticker Shock", Editorial Friday, June
19, 2009, Opinion, pA14.
- "Parsing The Health Reform Arguments", by George
Newman, in Opinion, Wednesday July 1, 2009, pA13.
If you don't believe me about this, check out the reams of
commentary I have been offering since 2003 in this section regarding
the disaster called Public Education produced by
the Teachers' Union Mafia through their wholly owned subsidiaries - The
House of Representatives and the Senate of this United States of
America. Read "The NEA's Latest Trick",
Editorial Friday, June 19, 2009, pA14. I kid you not.
WEDNESDAY through FRIDAY, JULY 1 through 3, 2009
Let's see if
President Obama is true to his word. GS
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Obama Promises Conscience Protection
Meets With Representatives of Catholic Press
WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 2, 2009 (Zenit.org).- In a meeting with
representatives of the Catholic press today, U.S. President Barack
Obama assured his intentions to protect the conscience rights of health
Legionary of Christ Father Owen Kearns, editor and publisher of the
National Catholic Register, was one of the eight members of the press
invited to the 41-minute meeting.
According to Father Kearns, "The most noteworthy thing during the
meeting was his dispelling of what you might call the expectation of
the worst regarding conscience clauses."
On National Catholic Register's Web site, the priest revealed Obama's
analysis that there has been confusion regarding his intentions to
legislate freedom of conscience.
Obama said: "I think that the only reason that my position may appear
unclear is because it came in the wake of a last-minute, 11th-hour
change in conscience clause provisions that were pushed forward by the
previous administration that we chose to reverse. 
"I'm a believer in conscience clauses. I was a supporter of a robust
conscience clause in Illinois for Catholic hospitals and health care
providers. I discussed this with Cardinal George when he was here in
the Oval Office, and I reiterated my support for an effective
conscience clause in my speech at Notre Dame. 
"I can assure all of your readers that when this review is complete
there will be a robust conscience clause in place. It may not meet the
criteria of every possible critic of our approach, but it certainly
will not be weaker than what existed before the changes were made."
In addition to Father Kearns, those attending were representatives from
America, Avvenire/Vatican Radio, Catholic News Service, Catholic
Digest, Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter and The Washington Post.
The meeting began with remarks from Obama and then each representative
asked one question.
Visiting the Pope
The president spoke about his upcoming meeting with Benedict XVI, which
he will have when he is in Italy for the Group of Eight conference.
According to the Register, the president "said that he sees his visit
with the Holy See in some ways like any other government in that there
will be areas of agreement and disagreement.  He said that it would
be a great honor to meet the Pope and was looking forward to talking
about the Middle East, climate change and immigration."
Obama spoke twice of his relationship with the late Cardinal Joseph
Bernardin, who was the archbishop of Chicago from 1982 until his death
Father Kearns summarized the president's words: "Cardinal Bernardin was
pro-life and never hesitated to make his views known, but he had a
consistent 'seamless garment' approach that emphasized the other
issues, as well. The president said that that part of the Catholic
tradition continues to inspire him. Those issues, he said, seemed to
have gotten buried by the abortion debate."
Paul Baumann of Commonweal Magazine asked the president about the
forthcoming report on efforts to seek common ground on abortion, asking
him what he hopes from the group.
"I've never been under the illusion that there are going to be that we
were going to simply talk all our differences away on these issues,"
said the president. " I can tell you, though, that on the idea of
helping young people make smart choices so that they are not engaging
in casual sexual activity that can lead to unwanted pregnancies, on the
importance of adoption as an option, an alternative to abortion, on
caring for pregnant women so that it is easier for them to support
children, those are immediately three areas where I would be surprised
if we don't have some pretty significant areas of agreement."
Obama expressed his personal view that "good sex and moral education"
needs to be combined with contraception to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
"I recognize that contradicts Catholic Church doctrine, so I would not
expect someone who feels very strongly about this issue as a matter of
religious faith to be able to agree with me on that, but that's my
personal view," he added. "We may not be able to arrive at perfectly
compatible language on that front."
"I would be surprised if those who believe abortion should be legal
would object to language that says we should try to reduce the
circumstances in which women feel compelled to obtain an abortion. If
they took that position, I would disagree with them. I don't know any
circumstances in which abortion is a happy circumstance or decision,
and to the extent that we can help women avoid being confronted with a
circumstance in which that's even a consideration, I think that's a
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