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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

MONDAY, December 31, 2012

HERE'S WISHING YOU ALL A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR, something only you can work toward. 

However, here's a little help.
In the practice of Medicine, the most important element is the Diagnosis.  What follows are two diagnoses, one for the individual and one for the Society of which we are a part.



SUNDAY, December 30, 2012



Article published Dec 30, 2012 in The Day
Gun debate pretext to ignore real issues
By Chris Powell, Journal Inquirer
Blame the National Rifle Association if you want, as many politicians do, for the wide distribution of guns in the United States. At least blaming the NRA is safer politically than blaming the tens of millions of Americans who own guns legally and responsibly.
Leading Connecticut politicians, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen.-elect Chris Murphy, raced to denounce NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre for arguing the other day that the best response to the elementary school massacre in Newtown would be to put armed guards in all schools.
Yet the first response of government itself throughout the country was to increase police presence at schools, and of course about a third of all schools, mostly high schools, already had a permanent police presence - not to protect students against rampaging outsiders like the one who attacked the school in Newtown but to protect students and teachers against other students.
Even before the NRA agitated the country with its proposal, a few political leaders already had been denounced as too bloody-minded for wishing aloud that an armed guard or teacher had greeted the gunman at the school in Newtown. But then who wouldn't wish that the whole 101st Airborne had been waiting for him?
Simplistic as the NRA's proposal was, at least it had strong relevance to what happened in Newtown. Some pending gun-control proposals have only modest relevance, like outlawing high-capacity ammunition clips. Other proposals have no relevance to Newtown at all but long have been compelling, like requiring background checks, waiting periods, and registration for all gun sales, not just those by gun dealers but private sales as well.
But relevance to Newtown particularly or to crime generally is not the objective of other political responses, like the proposal of two Connecticut state legislators, Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, and Rep. Robert Godfrey, D-Danbury, to impose a 50 percent sales tax on ammunition, as if such a tax somehow would deter people bent on robbery or murder. The objective of such proposals is simply to disarm the country, especially the law-abiding. Newtown is being used as a pretext for that ideology.
Proposals like the ammunition tax distract from other weaknesses in arguments for more gun control.
First is the failure of gun-control laws like those establishing "gun-free" zones around schools, which are no more effective than "drug-free" zones, and laws forbidding ownership of guns by felons. Such laws don't deter; mostly they just enable police and prosecutors to pile up lesser charges. The psychotic who this week shot four firefighters in Webster, N.Y., killing two, possessed an arsenal even though as a felon he was prohibited from owning weapons.
Second is the connection between gun crime and drug prohibition, where the cure is far worse than the disease. If the drug problem was decriminalized and medicalized, most gun crime would end. Third is social disintegration generally, the raising of nearly half the country's children in households without fathers, a catastrophe heavily correlated with physical and mental illness, ignorance, poverty, demoralization, and crime. Social disintegration cripples all cities in Connecticut; New Haven had three shooting incidents last Sunday alone. But Connecticut has no effective policy response.
And fourth is leniency in sentencing for violent and chronic criminals. The psychotic in Webster had served only 17 years in prison for what the state considered mere manslaughter - beating his grandmother to death with a hammer. In Connecticut most murderers amass extensive criminal records but get long sentences only after killing someone, as if no one could have seen it coming.
Discussing these issues would impugn not just many gun-control proposals but also the very construct of modern government and the muddle-headed liberalism that animates it. So the political power structure is glad to blame guns instead.

SEE ANOTHER USEFUL COMMENTARY, PUBLISHED IN THE WSJ SATURDAY-SUNDAY, DEC. 29-30, OPINION pA13: "A Reluctant Vote In Favor Of Armed School Guards", by Robert Bernat, M.D., J.D.


SATURDAY, December 29, 2012



Article published Dec 28, 2012 in The Day
Safety of the kids comes first, before everything
Mike DiMauro

For 10 years P.F. (pre-fatherhood), I was in first grade. Every Friday. That's when yours truly, my wife Karin and Day sports pal Vickie Fulkerson embarked on the ever-noble endeavor of helping first-graders with their reading and writing at the Lillie B. Haynes Elementary School in Niantic.

We volunteered for our first-grade teacher, Mrs. Currier. She is now the retired Dede Currier, a friend for life. We listened to the kids, encouraged them, teased them, paid attention to them, helped where we could, refereed on occasion and loved their company.

They made us want to be first-graders again.

They are in middle school, high school and college now, no longer little first-graders. But that's how I will remember them. Always. They will always be my little kids.

Matt Binaco attends college at Virginia Commonwealth. Jane Bartlett is the goalie for the girls' lacrosse team at East Lyme High. Nick Geary plays football and basketball there. They'll always be first-graders to me. So will Emma and Aayma, Tyler and Gino, Isabella and Truely, Adrianna and Puja.

And it is through the prism of their faces, their voices and their innocence that I saw the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.

For two weeks, I've been preoccupied by their faces. Their memories. The morbid thoughts of "what if?" I'd been in 10 years' worth of first grades. What if it had been our class? How do you cope?

The same kids who died two weeks ago have the same thoughts, demeanors, personalities and dreams as the kids who chanted "no cuts, no buts, no coconuts" at me for 10 years.

I am haunted by it all.

And it has triggered some thoughts as we try to move forward. It's been hard to move forward, admittedly, amid the cacophony of soapbox sermonizers spewing their views on guns with the urgency of Paul Revere.

Let's begin there.

Message to the gun-toting, arm-the-teachers, arm-the-world crowd who can't merely quote the Second Amendment verbatim, but is only too happy to accept its most literal interpretation: I am tired of you. So is the rest of the world. You scare us.

Message to the anti-gun cluster, the zealots on the other side, who won't acknowledge even a recreational capacity - hunting, target shooting - for guns: I am tired of you. So is the rest of the world. You annoy us.

This message is aimed at the thinking members of society, we who can find our way to the town green and talk to each other, rather than shout damnation.

What befell Sandy Hook Elementary was the confluence of a disordered mind with bad intentions and a culture that cultivates too much violence and too many guns. No one thing can fight that.

But schools need School Resource Officers, school-based law enforcement officers. Surely, they'd provide a better sense of security, illustrating that good guys carry guns, too. But there's a deeper significance. School Resource Officers build relationships with children they perceive as at-risk. They won't reach every child. But they can reach at least some of them. That's a start.

And before you lapse into some idealistic drivel suggesting it's the job of the parents, not the School Resource Officer, come back from Utopia. Ask yourself: How are parents are doing so far?

The question becomes funding. How do we pay for resource officers? Because as sure as we've heard from wingnuts on either side of gun issues, we'll hear from the next most irritating segment of our society: the aggrieved, overburdened taxpayers. They're the townsfolk who thought it was just swell when schools were funded properly while their kids were in school, but now find it a bigger affront to society than Apartheid.

Find me one Board of Education with some guts that will, during the next budget cycle, earmark all money that would have gone to extracurriculars (sports, music, etc.) and instead use it to defray the cost of system-wide School Resource Officers. All schools and school systems need them. Don't you dare think that because you live in suburbia your school is immune. Sandy Hook and Columbine provide pretty damning evidence.

And what becomes of extracurriculars? They all become pay-to-participate. I know. I've railed against pay-to-participate since right about the time the American League went to the designated hitter. I'm a sports guy.

But circumstances change. Specials, quite clearly, are part of the educational process. But there is no educational process without a baseline of security in our schools with law enforcement officers who are also trained to identify and help problem children.

I'm not suggesting School Resource Officers solve everything. But they contribute to safer environments. That's priority one. They're kids. They need protection.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

THURSDAY and FRIDAY, December 27 and 28, 2012


Experts: Trained police needed for school security
By By LARRY MARGASAK | Associated Press – Fri, Dec 28, 2012.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The student's attack began with a shotgun blast through the windows of a California high school. Rich Agundez, the El Cajon policeman assigned to the school, felt his mind shift into overdrive.
People yelled at him amid the chaos but he didn't hear. He experienced "a tunnel vision of concentration."
While two teachers and three students were injured when the glass shattered in the 2001 attack on Granite Hills High School, Agundez confronted the assailant and wounded him before he could get inside the school and use his second weapon, a handgun.
The National Rifle Association's response to a Connecticut school massacre envisions, in part, having trained, armed volunteers in every school in America. But Agundez, school safety experts and school board members say there's a huge difference between a trained law enforcement officer who becomes part of the school family — and a guard with a gun.
The NRA's proposal has sparked a debate across the country as gun control rises once again as a national issue. President Barack Obama promised to present a plan in January to confront gun violence in the aftermath of the killing of 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School students and six teachers in Newtown, Conn.
Agundez said what happened before the shooting in the San Diego County school should frame the debate over the NRA's proposal.
With a shooting at another county school just weeks before, Agundez had trained the staff in how to lock down the school, assigned evacuation points, instructed teachers to lock doors, close curtains and turn off the lights. He even told them computers should be used where possible to communicate, to lessen the chaos.
And his training? A former SWAT team member, Agundez' preparation placed him in simulated stressful situations and taught him to evade a shooter's bullets. And the kids in the school knew to follow his advice because they knew him. He spoke in their classrooms and counseled them when they came to him with problems.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, school boards, administrators, teachers and parents are reviewing their security measures.
School security officers can range from the best-trained police officers to unarmed private guards. Some big-city districts with gang problems and crime formed their own police agencies years ago. Others, after the murder of 13 people at Columbine High School in 1999, started joint agreements with local police departments to have officers assigned to schools — even though that was no guarantee of preventing violence. A trained police officer at Columbine confronted one of two shooters but couldn't prevent the death of 13 people.
"Our association would be uncomfortable with volunteers," said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers — whose members are mostly trained law enforcement officers who "become part of the school family.'"
Canady questioned how police officers responding to reports of a shooter would know whether the person with a gun is a volunteer or the assailant.
Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, who also was a top Homeland Security official and will head the NRA effort, said the program will have two key elements.
One is a model security plan "based on the latest, most up-to-date technical information from the foremost experts in their fields." Each school could tweak the plan to its own circumstances, and "armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be but one element."
The second element may prove the more controversial because, to avoid massive funding for local authorities, it would use volunteers. Hutchinson said in his home state of Arkansas, his son was a volunteer with a local group "Watchdog Dads," who volunteered at schools to patrol playgrounds and provide added security.
He said retired police officers, former members of the military or rescue personnel would be among those likely to volunteer.
There's even debate over whether anyone should have a gun in a school, even a trained law enforcement officer.
"In general teachers don't want guns in schools period," said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, one of the two large unions representing teachers. He added that one size does not fit all districts and said the union has supported schools that wanted a trained officer. Most teachers, he said, do not want to be armed themselves.
"It's a school. It's not a place where guns should be," he commented.
The security situation around the country is mixed.
—Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he has the authority to mobilize private citizens to fight crime and plans to post armed private posse members around the perimeter of schools. He said he hasn't spoken to specific school districts and doesn't plan to have the citizen posse members inside the buildings.
—The Snohomish School District north of Seattle got rid of its school officers because of the expense.
—The Las Vegas-based Clark County School District has its own police department and places armed officers in and around its 49 high school campuses. Officers patrol outside elementary and middle schools. The Washoe County School District in Nevada also has a police force, but it was only about a decade ago that the officers were authorized to carry guns on campus.
—In Milwaukee, a dozen city police officers cover the school district but spend most of their time in seven of the 25 high schools. In Madison, Wis., an armed police officer has worked in each of the district's four high schools since the mid-1990s.
—For the last five years, an armed police officer has worked in each of the two high schools and three middle schools in Champaign, Ill. Board of Education member Kristine Chalifoux said there are no plans to increase security, adding, "I don't want our country to become an armed police state."
—A Utah group is offering free concealed-weapons permit training for teachers as a result of the Connecticut shootings. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne proposed a plan to allow one educator in each school to carry a gun.
Ed Massey, vice chairman of the Boone County, Ky., school board and president of the National School Boards Association, said his district has nine trained law enforcement officers for 23 schools and "would love to have one in every school."
"They bring a sense of security and have done tremendous work in deterring problems in school," he said. "The number of expulsions have dramatically decreased. We used to have 15 or 20 a year. Now we have one or two in the last three years."
An officer, he said, "is not just a hired gun. They have an office in the school. They are trained in crisis management, handling mass casualties and medical emergencies."
He said a poster given out by the local sheriff's department shows one of the officers and talks about literacy and reading.
Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services consulting firm, said having trained officers in schools is "more of a prevention program than a reactive program if you have the right officers who want to work with kids."
But he also criticized a drop in funding for school security, saying, "Congress and the last two administrations have chipped away to the point of elimination of every program for school security and emergency planning."
Dr. Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center that provides training to schools, said the NRA's suggestion of using volunteers "is a whole new concept of school safety." He questioned whether the NRA wants to bring the best sharpshooters on campus.
"How is that going to create a positive atmosphere for young people?" he asked. "How does that work on the prevention side?"
Agundez, 52, who retired as a policeman in 2010, learned shortly before his retirement just how much his trained reaction to a shooter affected students at Granite Hills High.
He was writing a traffic ticket and the driver's whole body started shaking. He had been a student that day nine years earlier.
"He gave me a hug," Agundez recalled. "He said 'I always wanted to thank you.' You saved our lives."
Associated Press writers Todd Richmond, Michael Tarm, Greg Moore, Ken Ritter, Sandra Chereb and Donna Blankinship contributed to this report.

#2) See " Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control", by Joyce Lee Malcolm, WSJ Thursday Dec. 27, Opinion, pA13.

#3) The State of Connecticut has one of the most stringent set of gun laws: a ban on assault weapons; a waiting period for rifle purchases; background checks and permits to carry hand guns; prohibitions regarding felons, those with restraining orders against them, and those involuntarily committed to mental health institutions.  A bill to limit the availability of ammunition failed. 

Truth be told, there are several specific elements to this problem that need to be addressed simultaneously.  I have addressed those in an earlier posting in this section.


WEDNESDAY, December 26, 2012



Do You Live In A Country Run By  Idiots?

You  know you live in a Country run by idiots if...
You can get arrested  for expired tags on your car but not for being in the country illegally. 


You know you live in  a Country run by idiots if...
Your government believes that the best  way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more  of our money.


You  know you live in a Country run by idiots if...
A seven year old boy  can be thrown out of school for calling his teacher "cute" but hosting a  sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly  acceptable.


You know  you live in a Country run by idiots if...
The Supreme Court of the  United  States can rule that lower courts cannot  display the 10 Commandments in their courtroom, while sitting in front of  a display of the 10 Commandments. 


You know you live in  a Country run by idiots if...
Children are forcibly removed from  parents who appropriately discipline them while children of  "underprivileged" drug addicts are left to rot in filth infested cesspools  of a “home”.


You know  you live in a Country run by idiots if...
Hard work and success are  rewarded with higher taxes and government intrusion, while slothful, lazy  behavior is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, subsidized  housing, and free cell phones. 


You know you live in  a Country run by idiots if...
The government's plan for getting people  back to work is to provide 99 weeks of unemployment checks (to not work). 


You know you live in  a Country run by idiots if...
Being self-sufficient is considered a  threat to the government.


You know you live in a Country run by idiots if...
Politicians  think that stripping away the amendments to the constitution is really  protecting the rights of the people. 


You know you live in  a Country run by idiots if...
The rights of the Government come before  the rights of the individual.


You know you live in  a Country run by idiots if...
You pay your mortgage faithfully,  denying yourself the newest big screen TV while your neighbor defaults on  his mortgage (while buying iPhones, TV's and new cars) and the government  forgives his debt and reduces his mortgage (with your tax dollars). 


You know you live in  a Country run by idiots if...
Being stripped of the ability to defend  yourself makes you "safe".


You know you live in a Country run by idiots if...
You  have to have your parents signature to go on a school field trip but not  to get an abortion.


You know you live in a Country run by idiots if...
An 80  year old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a Muslim woman in a  burka is only subject to having her neck and head searched. 


You know you live in  a Country run by idiots if...
Using the "N" word is considered "hate  speech" but writing and singing songs about raping women and killing cops  is considered "art".

TUESDAY, December 25, 2012


That's the sincere wish.  But wishing won't make it so.  We have to work at creating and keeping the life and society we want for ourselves and for our families. 
That takes, above all, critical thinking...not the wishful thinking so prevalent today.  Three examples will suffice.

  1. The deluded perception that there is no God...and that, if there is a God, He doesn't care about us and our embrace of the Seven Deadly Sins.  The only thing that will save atheists is that they are CERTIFIABLE...and crazy people don't go to Hell.
  2. The delusion that this world can be just one happy family.  The best medicine for this illness is the article that appeared in the WSJ. Monday, Dec, 24, entitled: "The Return of Toxic Nationalism", by Robert D. Kaplan (Opinion, pA13).
The delusion that, in the "gun culture" that permeates this nation, we can protect ourselves by means that do not include guns.  Indeed, one of the reasons that Thomas Jefferson had for supporting the Second Amendment was that citizens might need guns to protect themselves from their government.  Now, that does not mean that we all should be allowed to have assault rifles, machine guns, high capacity magazines, etc.  If we want those weapons, we should be willing to have to enter into "a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...."  Meanwhile, for our personal safety - and especially for the safety of our children in their schools - we should authorize and train individuals in potentially targeted locations to carry weapons, and to shoot to kill when attacked.  Any approach short of that is delusional.


- - - - - - - - - -

OBAMACARE. Another shoe falls.


Health care tax hikes for 2013 may be just a start

By By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR | Associated PressTue, Dec 25, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — New taxes are coming Jan. 1 to help finance President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Most people may not notice. But they will pay attention if Congress decides to start taxing employer-sponsored health insurance, one option in play if lawmakers can ever agree on a budget deal to reduce federal deficits.

The tax hikes already on the books, taking effect in 2013, fall mainly on people who make lots of money and on the health care industry. But about half of Americans benefit from the tax-free status of employer health insurance. Workers pay no income or payroll taxes on what their employer contributes for health insurance, and in most cases on their own share of premiums as well.

It's the single biggest tax break the government allows, outstripping the mortgage interest deduction, the deduction for charitable giving and other better-known benefits. If the value of job-based health insurance were taxed like regular income, it would raise nearly $150 billion in 2013, according to congressional estimates. By comparison, wiping away the mortgage interest deduction would bring in only about $90 billion.

"If you are looking to raise revenue to pay for tax reform, that is the biggest pot of money of all," said Martin Sullivan, chief economist with Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan publisher of tax information.

It's hard to see how lawmakers can avoid touching health insurance if they want to eliminate loopholes and curtail deductions so as to raise revenue and lower tax rates. Congress probably wouldn't do away with the health care tax break, but limit it in some form. Such limits could be keyed to the cost of a particular health insurance plan, the income level of taxpayers or a combination.

Many economists think some kind of limit would be a good thing because it would force consumers to watch costs, and that could help keep health care spending in check. Obama's health law took a tentative step toward limits by imposing a tax on high-value health insurance plans. But that doesn't start until 2018.

Next spring will be three years since Congress passed the health care overhaul but, because of a long phase-in, many of the taxes to finance the plan are only now coming into effect. Medicare spending cuts that help pay for covering the uninsured have started to take effect, but they also are staggered. The law's main benefit, coverage for 30 million uninsured people, will take a little longer. It doesn't start until Jan. 1, 2014.

The biggest tax hike from the health care law has a bit of mystery to it. The legislation calls it a "Medicare contribution," but none of the revenue will go to the Medicare trust fund. Instead, it's funneled into the government's general fund, which does pay the lion's share of Medicare outpatient and prescription costs, but also covers most other things the government does.

The new tax is a 3.8 percent levy on investment income that applies to individuals making more than $200,000 or married couples above $250,000. Projected to raise $123 billion from 2013-2019, it comes on top of other taxes on investment income. While it does apply to profits from home sales, the vast majority of sellers will not have to worry since another law allows individuals to shield up to $250,000 in gains on their home from taxation. (Married couples can exclude up to $500,000 in home sale gains.)

Investors have already been taking steps to avoid the tax, selling assets this year before it takes effect. The impact of the investment tax will be compounded if Obama and Republicans can't stave off the automatic tax increases coming next year if there's no budget agreement.

High earners will face another new tax under the health care law Jan. 1. It's an additional Medicare payroll tax of 0.9 percent on wage income above $200,000 for an individual or $250,000 for couples. This one does go to the Medicare trust fund.

Donald Marron, director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, says the health care law's tax increases are medium-sized by historical standards. The center, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, provides in-depth analyses on tax issues.

They also foreshadow the current debate about raising taxes on people with high incomes. "These were an example of the president winning, and raising taxes on upper-income people," said Marron. "They are going to happen."

Other health care law tax increases taking effect Jan. 1:

— A 2.3 percent sales tax on medical devices used by hospitals and doctors. Industry is trying to delay or repeal the tax, saying it will lead to a loss of jobs. Several economists say manufacturers should be able to pass on most of the cost.

— A limit on the amount employees can contribute to tax-free flexible spending accounts for medical expenses. It's set at $2,500 for 2013, and indexed thereafter for inflation.

MONDAY, December 24, 2012

Sounds about right to me.


*Scary Obituary*
In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the
University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the
Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: "A democracy is always
temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent
form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous
gifts from the public treasury. >From that moment on, the majority
always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from
the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally
collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the
beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200
years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

>From bondage to spiritual faith;
>From spiritual faith to great courage;
>From courage to liberty;
>From liberty to abundance;
>From abundance to complacency;
>From complacency to apathy;
>From apathy to dependence;
>From dependence back into bond age."
The Obituary follows:

Born 1776, Died 2012
It doesn't hurt to read this several times.
Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in
St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning
the last Presidential election:

Number of States won by:            Obama: 19                McCain: 29
Square miles of land won by:       Obama: 580,000        McCain: 2,427,000
Population of counties won by:    Obama: 127 million  McCain: 143 million
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2 McCain:

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory
McCain won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens
of the country.

Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low
income tenements and living off various forms of government

Olson believes the  United States is now somewhere between the
"complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of
democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population
already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million
criminal invaders called illegal's - and they vote - then we can say
goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

SUNDAY, December 23, 2012


James Cagney and Bob Hope at a Friar 's Club Meeting back when actors were real performers. Bob Hope was 52 and James Cagney was 56.  

This looks like it’s from a movie, not a routine from a Friar 's Club meeting.   Doesn't take away from it though!

For the young folks, here is something you probably have never seen before and, unfortunately, you may never see again.

For us older folks, this is the best of the best, and we had it for many years!   This is a side of these two entertainers you hardly ever saw, but it shows you their enormous talent.   Bob Hope, the best of the comedians, and Jimmy Cagney...mostly cast as the bad guy, gangster in the movies.

DAY, December 21 and 22, 2012

DAY, December 18 through 20, 2012

With the upcoming Christmas season, this is what one man and his crew did to help make some others relax  and have some enjoyment for a short spell.

and MONDAY, December 16 and 17, 2012



There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class.

One day while the class was in the lab,the professor noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept

rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter.

The student told him he had a bullet

lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his

native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and

install a new communist regime.

In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked: "Do you know how to catch wild pigs?"

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line.

The young man said that it was no joke. "You catch wild pigs by finding

a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs

find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn.

"When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side

of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the

fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of

the fence.

"They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you

have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side.

"The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the

gate to eat that free corn again.

You then slam the gate on them and

catch the whole herd.

Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom.

They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.

Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they

have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept

their captivity."

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees

happening in America.

The government keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income,tax exemptions, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. while we continually lose our freedoms, just a little at a time.

One should always remember two truths:

“There is no such thing as a free

lunch, and you can never hire someone to provide a service for you

cheaper than you can do it yourself.”

If you see that all of this wonderful government "help" is a problem

confronting the future of democracy in America, you might want to send this on to your friends.

If you think the free ride is essential to your way of life, then you will probably delete this email.

But, God help us all

when the gate slams shut!

Quote for today:

"The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living."

FRIDAY and SATURDAY, December 14 and 15, 2012

Maybe I shouldn't be doing this, given the emotional reaction this story has had on me - including predictably another bout of atrial fibrillation.
But I can't NOT do it.  My whole life has revolved around identifying and solving problems.  That's how I cope with stressors.  It works for me.

After the revelation of new information regarding the shooter and his family, I must give up the original rage I felt.  Evidently, he was not a monster - an inherently evil person.  His parents were evidently not criminally inept as parents.   He was evidently not a casualty of a mental health system that has given up on personal interaction ("talk therapy") in favor of prescribing more and more varied drugs that - if taken at all - can be either ineffective or can produce serious side effects.  There is so far no mention of his having used illicit drugs, including Pot. 

So, we must undertake a much broader analysis of the societal environment that surrounded him and that could produce this result...and similar incidents nation-wide.  Herewith follows an initial stab at such an analysis.

  1. A loss of belief in God and in the inherent goodness of Man.  Into that vacuum enters Evil, promoted by the more base instincts of human nature that a too rapidly evolving Homo Sapiens failed to sublimate.  Organized Religion is neither a necessary or a sufficient counterweight to that, but it surely helps.
  2. A society and personal mind-set that promotes promotes self over 'other", selfish over self-less.
  3. A progressive dehumanization effected from early childhood by immersion in media violence, sadism and a studied elimination of any external value system.  This is also a result of the disintegration of the Family and the understandable inability of schools to act "in loco parentis".
  4. A demand for more and more "freedoms" without the countervailing responsibility required as a cost of membership in a Society.  
  5. A "gun culture" that goes far beyond the guarantees of the Second Amendment and that gets its greatest support from business interests - making a buck.
  6. An excessive demand for privacy regarding psychiatric disorders, even where third parties may reasonably be in danger.  Just as any attorney is also a Commissioner of Superior Court with attendant duties, any physician or licensed health care worker should be recognized as being a representative of the larger society when safety is involved, apart from duties of confidentiality.
  7. An apparent unwillingness on the part of leaders to take reasonable precautions for the safety of those under their responsibility.  Again, that may impinge on "freedom"...but only to the extent that the requirements of a civil and safe society require. 

Implementation of appropriate changes required to address the above issues will require LEADERSHIP.  What a concept.  But I will personally offer such leadership with specific proposals in future offerings in this section. 

Well, now I do fell better: engaged rather than adrift; empowered rather than impotent; pro-active rather than paralyzed.  PLEASE JOIN ME IN THIS EFFORT TO MAKE SOME SENSE OUT OF THE SENSE-LESS.


THURSDAY, December 13, 2012

WHAT?  Good news for a change?!


ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
News Agency

Cardinal Dolan Gives Update on Religious Freedom Battle
Welcomes Judge's Decision in Favor of Archdiocese

NEW YORK, DEC. 13, 2012 ( The archbishop of New York welcomed a victory in the legal battle to overturn the government mandate forcing Catholic institutions to pay for sterilization and abortion-causing drugs.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan blogged Wednesday about last week's decision in favor of the Archdiocese of New York in its suit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.

The cardinal noted media silence on the victory, contrasted with a New York Times article from October, when a judge in Missouri found for the Obama administration and dismissed a similar case brought by a private, for-profit, mining company, a decision that has since been temporarily blocked.

Judge [Brian] Cogan’s decision last week turned back a motion by the administration to have our lawsuit dismissed, Cardinal Dolan wrote. You’ll remember, perhaps, that back in May, the Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, and Catholic Health Systems of Long Island filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn, one of more than two dozen similar lawsuits filed around the country that day. These lawsuits argue that the mandate from Health and Human Services would unconstitutionally presume to define the nature of the Church's ministry, and force religious employers to violate their conscience or face onerous fines for not providing services in our health insurance that are contrary to our consciences and faith.

The judge's decision allows the case to proceed so that it might be heard in court, though two co-plaintiffs, the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, have been dismissed from the suit, as the judge found that their insurance plans would not presently be affected by the HHS mandate.

Cardinal Dolan said the decision is significant and noted the judge's finding that there was very real possibility that we plaintiffs would 'face future injuries stemming from their forced choice between incurring fines or acting in violation of their religious beliefs.'

The prelate continued: And what of the administration's contention that the suit should be dismissed because they were going to change the HHS mandate to address the concerns of religious employers? As Judge Cogan wrote, '… the First Amendment does not require citizens to accept assurances from the government that, if the government later determines it has made a misstep, it will take ameliorative action. There is no, Trust us, changes are coming clause in the Constitution.'

Cardinal Dolan admitted that there is a long road ahead, and reiterated hope that the HHS mandate will change and provide a true religious exemption.

Until then, he concluded, we will continue to seek justice in the courts. Thanks to last week's decision in Federal Court in Brooklyn, it looks like we will have that chance. We'll keep you posted.

, December 12, 2012

Now it begins: " OOPS.  Forgot to tell you about that...


Article published Dec 11, 2012 in The Day

Surprise: New insurance fee in health overhaul law

Washington - Your medical plan is facing an unexpected expense, so you probably are, too. It's a new, $63-per-head fee to cushion the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
The charge, buried in a recent regulation, works out to tens of millions of dollars for the largest companies, employers say. Most of that is likely to be passed on to workers.
Employee benefits lawyer Chantel Sheaks calls it a "sleeper issue" with significant financial consequences, particularly for large employers.
"Especially at a time when we are facing economic uncertainty, (companies will) be hit with a multi-million dollar assessment without getting anything back for it," said Sheaks, a principal at Buck Consultants, a Xerox subsidiary.
Based on figures provided in the regulation, employer and individual health plans covering an estimated 190 million Americans could owe the per-person fee.
The Obama administration says it is a temporary assessment levied for three years starting in 2014, designed to raise $25 billion. It starts at $63 and then declines.
Most of the money will go into a fund administered by the Health and Human Services Department. It will be used to cushion health insurance companies from the initial hard-to-predict costs of covering uninsured people with medical problems. Under the law, insurers will be forbidden from turning away the sick as of Jan. 1, 2014.
The program "is intended to help millions of Americans purchase affordable health insurance, reduce unreimbursed usage of hospital and other medical facilities by the uninsured and thereby lower medical expenses and premiums for all," the Obama administration says in the regulation. An accompanying media fact sheet issued Nov. 30 referred to "contributions" without detailing the total cost and scope of the program.
Of the total pot, $5 billion will go directly to the U.S. Treasury, apparently to offset the cost of shoring up employer-sponsored coverage for early retirees.
The $25 billion fee is part of a bigger package of taxes and fees to finance Obama's expansion of coverage to the uninsured. It all comes to about $700 billion over 10 years, and includes higher Medicare taxes effective this Jan. 1 on individuals making more than $200,000 per year or couples making more than $250,000. People above those threshold amounts also face an additional 3.8 percent tax on their investment income.
But the insurance fee had been overlooked as employers focused on other costs in the law, including fines for medium and large firms that don't provide coverage. "This kind of came out of the blue and was a surprisingly large amount," said Gretchen Young, senior vice president for health policy at the ERISA Industry Committee, a group that represents large employers on benefits issues.
Word started getting out in the spring, said Young, but hard cost estimates surfaced only recently with the new regulation. It set the per capita rate at $5.25 per month, which works out to $63 a year.
America's Health Insurance Plans, the major industry trade group for health insurers, says the fund is an important program that will help stabilize the market and mitigate cost increases for consumers as the changes in Obama's law take effect.
But employers already offering coverage to their workers don't see why they have to pony up for the stabilization fund, which mainly helps the individual insurance market. The redistribution puts the biggest companies on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.
"It just adds on to everything else that is expected to increase health care costs," said economist Paul Fronstin of the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute.
The fee will be assessed on all "major medical" insurance plans, including those provided by employers and those purchased individually by consumers. Large employers will owe the fee directly. That's because major companies usually pay upfront for most of the health care costs of their employees. It may not be apparent to workers, but the insurance company they deal with is basically an agent administering the plan for their employer.
The fee will total $12 billion in 2014, $8 billion in 2015 and $5 billion in 2016. That means the per-head assessment would be smaller each year, around $40 in 2015 instead of $63.
It will phase out completely in 2017 - unless Congress, with lawmakers searching everywhere for revenue to reduce federal deficits - decides to extend it.

Some of the taxes and fees in the health care overhaul
Here's a look at some of the major taxes and fees, estimated to total nearly $700 billion over 10 years.

• Upper-income households

Starting Jan. 1, individuals making more than $200,000 per year, and couples making more than $250,000 will face a 0.9 percent Medicare tax increase on wages above those threshold amounts.

They'll also face an additional 3.8 percent tax on investment income. Together these are the biggest tax increase in the health care law.

• Employer penalties

Starting in 2014, companies with 50 or more employees that do not offer coverage will face penalties if at least one of their employees receives government-subsidized coverage. The penalty is $2,000 per employee, but a company's first 30 workers don't count toward the total.

• Health care industries

Insurers, drug companies and medical device manufacturers face new fees and taxes.

Companies that make medical equipment sold chiefly through doctors and hospitals, such as pacemakers, artificial hips and coronary stents, will pay a 2.3 percent excise tax on their sales, expected to total $1.7 billion in its first year, 2013. They're trying to get it repealed.

The insurance industry faces an annual fee that starts at $8 billion in its first year, 2014.

Pharmaceutical companies that make or import brand-name drugs are already paying fees that totaled $2.5 billion in 2011, their first year.

• People who don't get health insurance

Nearly 6 million people who don't get health insurance will face tax penalties starting in 2014. The fines will raise $6.9 billion in 2016. Average penalty in that year: about $1,200.

Indoor tanning devotees

The 10 percent sales tax on indoor tanning sessions took effect in 2010. It's expected to raise $1.5 billion over 10 years.

The 28 million people who visit tanning booths and beds each year - most of them women under 30, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology- are already paying.

Tanning salons were singled out because of strong medical evidence that exposure to ultraviolet lights increases the risk of skin cancer.

FRIDAY through TUESDAY, December 7 through 11, 2012



US students far from first in math, science

Study: US fourth-graders make strides, but progress elusive at eighth-grade level

By Josh Lederman, Associated Press | Associated PressTue, Dec 11, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) -- American fourth-graders are performing better than they were four years ago in math and reading, but students four years older show no such progress, a global study released Tuesday revealed.

Although the U.S. remains in the top dozen or so countries in all subjects tested, the gap between the U.S. and the top-performing nations is much wider at the eighth-grade level, especially in math.

"When you start looking at our older students, we see less improvement over time," said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which coordinated the U.S. portion of the international exam.

Even where U.S. student scores have improved, many other nations have improved much faster, leaving American students far behind many of their peers — especially in Asia and Europe.

With an eye toward global competitiveness, U.S. education officials are sounding the alarm over what they describe as a recurring theme when American students are put to the test. Lamenting what he described as "sober cautionary notes," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said it was unacceptable that eighth-grade achievement in math and science are stagnant, with U.S. students far less likely than many Asian counterparts to reach advanced levels in science.

"If we as a nation don't turn that around, those nations will soon be out-competing us in a knowledge-based, global economy," Duncan said.

American students still perform better than the global average in all subject areas, the study found, although students from the poorest U.S. schools fall short.

But the U.S. is far from leading the pack, a distinction now enjoyed by kids in countries like Finland and Singapore who outperformed American fourth-graders in science and reading. By eighth grade, American students have fallen behind their Russian, Japanese and Taiwanese counterparts in math, and trail students from Hong Kong, Slovenia and South Korea in science.

The results of the study, conducted every four years in nations around the world, show mixed prospects for delivering on that promise. A nation that once took pride in being at the top of its game can no longer credibly call itself the global leader in student performance. Wringing their hands about what that reality portends for broader U.S. influence, policymakers worry it could have ripple effects on the economy down the line, with Americans increasingly at a competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace.

Elevating the skills needed to compete with emerging countries has been a priority for President Barack Obama, who has pledged to train 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next decade. "Think about the America within our reach: a country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs," he said this year in his State of the Union address.

Asia continues to dominate the top echelon of scores across subject fields. The tiny city-state of Singapore takes first place in eighth-grade science and fourth-grade math, with South Korea scoring nearly as high. Singapore takes second place to South Korea in eighth-grade math, with Taiwan in third.

The results also lean toward Asian nations when it comes to advanced levels of learning. In Singapore, 4 in 10 eighth-graders achieved the "advanced benchmark" in science, which requires an understanding of complex and abstract concepts in physics, chemistry, biology and other sciences. About 2 in 10 make the grade in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In the U.S., it's about 1 in 10.

Reading skills are a major strength for American students. Only a few points separate American students from the top-scoring students in the world. In Florida, which took part in the study separately, reading scores are second only to Hong Kong.

"We cannot rest until every child has gained the power that comes through reading," said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a prominent education advocate. "If Florida can do it, every state can and must."

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and its sister test, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, are used to measure knowledge, skills and mastery of curricula by elementary and middle school students around the world. Students in rich, industrialized nations and poor, developing countries alike are tested. In 2011, 56 educational systems — mostly countries, but some states and subnational entities like Hong Kong — took part in math and science exams. Fifty-three systems participated in the reading exam, which included almost 13,000 American fourth-graders.

"These kinds of tests are very good at telling us who's ahead in the race. They don't have a lot to say about causes or why countries are where they are," said Brookings Institution senior fellow Tom Loveless, who in previous years represented the U.S. in the international group that administers the test.

Other findings released Tuesday:

— Some U.S. states that were measured separately were clear standouts, performing on par with or better than some top-performing Asian countries. Eighth-graders in Massachusetts and Minnesota score far better in math and science than the U.S. average. But in California and Alabama, eighth-graders fell short of the national average.

— Racial and class disparities are all too real. In eighth grade, Americans in the schools with the highest poverty — those with 75 percent or more of students on free or reduced-price lunch — performed below both the U.S. average and the lower international average. Students at schools with fewer poor kids performed better. In fourth-grade reading, all ethnic groups outperformed the international average, but white and Asian students did better than their black and Hispanic classmates.

— Boys in the U.S. do better than girls in fourth-grade science and eighth-grade math. But girls rule when it comes to reading.

— On a global level, the gender gap appears to be closing. About half of the countries showed no statistically meaningful gap between boys and girls in math and science.

The tests are carried out by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement, a coalition of research institutions. The U.S. portion of the exams is coordinated by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics.

SATURDAY through THURSDAY, December 1 through 6, 2012


This is what the most powerful nation in the world, economically and militarily, achieves by deferring to the U.N., to Russia, to China, to Bibi, and to every tin-pot despot in the world - thereby creating a vacuum into which all manner of mischief and evil can flow.

This Nation has responsibilities in the world...and it has been acting irresponsibly in foreign affairs throughout the tenure of the Obama Administration.  This is the real "cliff" that we Americans - and the world - are facing right now.


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