George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London,
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.
to return to the current Rapid Response list
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER
29 through OCTOBER 1, 2003
The news is heating up again.
Three upsetting stories have come out in recent days, all having to do
with hazing and other intentional harm inflicted by some students on other
students. Whether called "teasing" or "bullying" or "hazing",
occurrences like the stories out of Long Island and Wilkes-Barre, Pa. boil
down to only two things: criminal assault and battery, and civil rights
violations. Parents of the victims should be very aggressive
in pursuing both criminal and civil actions against the attackers, their
parents and - where appropriate - the school districts in which these actions
occur. There are a lot of Stupid People out there; they need
to get a message that they can understand.
As described in a recent book review, the "Faustian bargain" that
the founding fathers of Israel made in order to produce a viable nation
- deferral of a decision on whether Israel was going to be a democracy
or a theocracy, reminds me of the similar bargain made by our Founding
Fathers regarding slavery. We know what this nation had to go through
to resolve that issue 80 years later. ("Black Hats and No Hats",
about the book Real Jews, by Noal J. Efron; N.Y.Times
Magazine section, Sunday, September 28, 2003, p20). Perhaps the people
of Israel, or at least their current leaders, at some level have decided
that prolonged war with their Arab neighbors is better than facing internal
turmoil. Another bad choice.
Lord, save our children from their public education "friends".
Despite the massive evidence that continues to pile up about poor methodology
(most recently involving "homework", or what passes for it today) and poor
outcomes, unrepentent liberals led by an increasingly incoherent Senator
Edward Kennedy continue to fight all efforts to give parents the right
of choice through the mechanism of "vouchers". When does all this
become criminal? "Is anybody there? Does anybody care?"
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
and 28, 2003
Several recent newspaper articles prompt me to think about the two institutions
in my life that are trumped only by Family: the Roman Catholic
Church, and the Practice of Medicine. My Faith is solid
and secure,and the "rock" of that Faith is the Church. That does
not prevent me from distinguishing between the Church and its sometimes
wrong-headed, illegal and immoral human representatives. Perhaps
this is a reflection of my Italian - American heritage. Italy, with
Ireland the most Catholic of countries, is also notoriously the most anti-clerical.
So, I have no difficulty denouncing actions like those of Cardinal Law
and his ilk, and also "throwing the bums in jail" if necessary.
(Please see my earlier offerings this Spring on the subject, as the sordid
tale was unfolding.) That relates also to the recent stories
about the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, run shamelessly until
1996 by the "Sisters of Mercy". And yet, I consider a vocation
to the priesthood to be the highest profession to which one can aspire.
And then there is the Profession of Medicine, a close second as
practised by most physicians. I read and hear about physicians
advising their children and others to avoid Medicine as a life's vocation,
a ministry. Wrong! Despite the revolutionary changes that have
taken place in the practice of Medicine, changes that have substantially
reduced the rewards and magnified the challenges, this as a life's
work is a "light that is worth the candle". Family, Faith and
Profession. Now there's a "tri-fecta" for anyone with the intellectual,
physical and moral attributes to bet a lifetime on.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2003
Regarding the recall election to be held soon in California, the
result will be a real opportunity to see the following maxim in action:
a Democracy, the people always get what they deserve." Gray Davis
was a "lame duck" long before the Enron debacle. Always dancing to
the tune of ultra-liberal Willie Brown, the long-time leader of California
politics, and currently the Mayor of San Francisco, Gov. Davis can be called
the Nero of California. As for Arnold, he'll do just
fine, if California Republicans can only defer their death-wish for another
Once again syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman has "connected the dots"
for us who try to understand what the devil is going in the world today.
(Connect Dots For Picture of War, The
Day, Saturday, September 27, 2003, Commentary, pA7). He
is right about the cynical efforts called NAFTA, GATT, WTO and
the pap about "internationalism", a game in which the rich get
richer and the poor get poorer. The recent results in Cancun
highlighted that fact. He is also right about the current signs that
this Bush administration may be keeping its eye - not on the ball
called Iraq, Afganistan and world terrorism - but on the gorgeous blond
in the box seat nearby - winning the 2004 election. That will be
a batting stance sure to produce a pop-fly to the infield.
Wake up, Mr. President! Difficult things need to be done now,
politically correct or not. The vast majority of Americans
will support you...if you do the right thing.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2003
What does the California proposal, endorsed by Cruz Bustamante, to give
aliens driver's licenses have in common with America's dispute with
the United Nations and other internationalists - here and abroad?
And what about the effort to remove from the oath, administered to aliens
in the process of becoming naturalized citizens, any reference to their
duty to defend their newly adopted country? Well, did you know that there
are proposals out there for the United States to eliminate our national
boundaries altogether (as reported on National Public Radio today)? So
that's the common effort of some here and in the world: to eliminate
the U.S.A. as a sovereign nation altogether. How does that
grab you? As for myself, I'll paraphrase the statement of Charlton
Heston: "Over my cold, dead hand." I believe that most Americans
would say the same thing. So, listen carefully to the cacophony of
commentary that is beginning to blare at us during this election season
approaching the 2004 national elections. You'll be hearing arguments
that subtly support the above point of view. You'll know what to
do about that on Election Day.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER
22 through 24, 2003
It's catch-up time again.
First, Iraq. "What we have here is a failure to communicate".
President Bush clearly reaffirmed the basis for America's doctrine
of pre-emptive self-defense, including retention of our own national sovereignty.
U.N. Secretary-General and French President Chirac just as clearly
reaffirmed their purported commitment to multilateralism, multinationalism
and internationalism. Fine. We agree to disagree. And
we are ready to complete the job in Iraq on our own , if necessary.
That will be highly unlikely, since the other major players in the world
are hardly stupid enough to give us a completely free hand in Iraq and
thus in the entire Mid-East. Look for individual countries to come
to their senses grudgingly, and to accept President Bush's invitation to
participate. Meanwhile, "a camel is a horse designed by committee".
And the U.N. camel has hardly been able to stand upright during
the last few decades.
Did we really read about this expression recently...Medical Rationing?
That concept has been taboo as long as I have been proposing it as a way
to provide appropriate health care for all who need it, without breaking
the bank. But once again the methods that have recently been unearthed
are unfair and downright immoral. In one WSJ article in the last
10 days we read of ad hoc rationing being done by a nurse on the
wards, with no uniformly accepted guidelines. In a more recent article
in the WSJ we read about a large Texas University system of health service
rationing based almost entirely on a patient's ability to pay. Actually,
that crass system began in Oregon two decades ago, where health care rationing
was imposed - but only for Welfare recipients. Wrong!
Medical rationing, or prioritization, would be appropriate and fair only
if decided upon after broad-based societal discussion and acceptance, and
only if applied to all, regardless of ability to pay. Either that,
or spend as much of the gross domestic product as necessary to give all
Americans all the health care services that they desire. The present
bastardized system - called "managed care" - is neither saving money nor
providing all necessary care. This reminds me of the remark attributed
to Winston Churchill who, before 12/7/41, was trying to get the U.S. to
enter the World War: "Americans can always be depended upon to do the
right thing...when all else fails".
As is often the case, four articles recently published in the Wall Street
Journal are "must read". 1) The KGB's Man, by Ion Mihai Pacepa,
Opinion, Monday, September 22, 2003, pA18. 2) KGB State, by
Garry Kasparov, Opinion, Thursday, September 18, 2003, pA16. 3) 'My
Master's House', by John McWhorter, Opinion, Wednesday, September 17,
2003, pA26. 4) Angry Democrats: Lost Birthright, by Robert
L. Bartley, Opinion, Monday, September 22, 2003, pA19.
As I have stated more than once in these offerings, this is recreation
- not work. We must all remember, despite all the heavy stuff,
the statement of Auntie Mame: "Life is a banquet; and all you suckers
are starving". So let's all continue to partake of this banquet
called "Life" with gusto.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2003
Vacation. "It's a good thing". And no, I don't
have a laptop or Wi-Fi setup yet. This is still a small ( but enthusiastic)
operation. A vacation provides not only the well-known benefits;
if it involves travel, it also affords opportunities to read different
print media and to watch different TV. From those opportunities come
the following vignettes:
The October, 2003 issue of Harper's magazine reports disapprovingly - and
cynically - that "We're In The Army Now...The G.O.P.'s Plan to Militarize
Our Culture", by Kevin Baker. Against that background, read today's
A.P. report by John Solomon entitled: "Terrorist Says 9/ll plot began
in '96". Mr. Baker evidently prefers compromise to pro-active
confrontation. So do I , except when dealing with crazies.
Today, The Day of New London
publshed a group of editorials and commentaries entitled: "The Perils
of Power...The Limitations And Risks Of America's Global Military Dominance"
( in Perspective, Section C1). It presents in fairly measured tones
one side of the on-going debate about how to deal with the war we are in.
I look forward to a similar presentation of the other side of the debate.
In USA Today, Thursday,
September 18, 2003, we read about "Unmarried with Children: For Better
or Worse?" (p1A). Not ideal, and the research is still out.
"There are 'all kinds of risks, emotional and legal, but unmarried families
can certainly thrive if they are loving, fairly stable and have set up
rules and goals'". This refers to opposite sex couples.
From Ohio comes Mona Charen's article: Vouchers Benefit Needy Children
(Springfield News-Sun, Friday, September 19, 2003, Opinion, p10A)
Loaded with fascinating facts that you never hear about in the liberal
press or from NEA, it makes the argument in favor of vouchers, as a way
to help kids now as well as to help public schools in spite of themselves,
a veritable no-brainer.
And from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette comes the article by William Raspberry
entitled Connecting The Global Village (in Weekend Perspectives, pA11).
It discusses Bill Gates' support, to the tune of $51.2 million, awarded
to New York City to create 67 small high schools. This follows the
work and report of the Commission on Children at Risk: "Hardwired to Connect
- The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities". It
would seem that there are actually people and groups out there who are
thinking about the failure that is public education, unlike the NEA and
the UFT whose only game plan is to pass the hat around yet again.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2003
Developments in the Middle East are occurring almost too fast
for informed opinion to be articulated; almost, but not quite, especially
when we have the insights of a seasoned soldier and diplomat like Secretary
of State Colin Powell to inform us. Readers would do well to
attend to all his statements, especially those reported in recent days
during his trip to Iraq. His Boswell of the moment is George Gedda,
AP Writer. Even the New York Times Editorial today got it almost
completely right. And then there is Vice Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert of Israel who today told Israel Radio: "Arafat can no longer
be a factor in what happens here. Expulsion is certainly one of the
options, killing is also one of the options." Who let him out?
It is past time for this country to start kicking butt, Israeli as well
as Palestinian. Not only for their sakes, but as the only way we
can start to cool down the antipathy of the Arab world toward the the West
in general and the U.S. specifically. President Bush, you can't
wait for the 2004 national election results to take action on this,
as well as on a major reallignment and/or expansion of our Military.
If you wait, you'll lose - and you should lose.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2003
It is time to cut the Gordian Knot! The insanity that passes
for relations between Israel and Palestine must be cured from the
outside; for the parties themselves are equally afflicted. Please
see the letter that I published on September 14, 2001 (on this web site,
in the section entitled "The
Involved Citizen, September 11, 2001") in response to the events
of 9/11. Since then, nothing good has taken place in that part of
the world. Hamas and other groups have continued their terrorist
acts against Israel despite efforts by the Palestinian leadership (including
Arafat?) to begin negotiating a non-violent solution. In fact, these
groups may be in no way under the control of any legitimate Palestinian
leaders. In that case, a final solution may have to include a civil
war among the Palestinians themselves. But neither that nor any positive
movement on the part of the Palestinians will take place as long as Ariel
Sharon and the theocrats of the Israeli government continue fighting for
an Israel of the Bible and continue to allow and promote illegal Jewish
settlements...most recently with a new and inflamatory Jerusalem Wall.
Nor was it a wise step to add to Arafat's support with the recent vote
of the Likud to "remove him". Rational People of Israel take note:
"He who seeks equity must do equity". Get the settlers out of
all illegal settlements...by force if necessary. Offer the
people of Palestine a viable homeland, with no "right of return" for Palestinian
refugees. Leave the future of Jerusalem to later negotiations among
all the stake-holders, which include more than Israel and Palestine.
Then seek political and military guarantees from the U.S. and from the
U.N. They will be forthcoming, whatever the Palestinians - and their
supporters - do. And I believe that the rational Palestinians
will then take the only rational path open to them...by force if necessary.
Not a pretty picture...but better than the current insanity on both sides.
it is time for the United States to make all this happen, by political
and economic force, if necessary.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2003
So much distortion; so little time to refute it. The spectacle
that is the running of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls is producing
a torrent of increasingly strident...and sometimes outrageous...accusations
regarding President Bush and his conduct of the nation's business.
Each candidate seems compelled to outdo the others in the race for the
most liberal selection that the liberal - controlled democratic primaries
will make. In the process, truth is trampled. One example of
this, refuting much of the bad news being reported nightly about Iraq,
appears in the recent publication of a survey of Iraqis taken for
the American Enterprise magazine and conducted throughout Iraq with Zogby
International survey researchers (What Iraqis Really Think, by Karl
September 10, 2003, Opinion, pA24). This should be read in order
to balance the distorted picture being presented by much of the media.
Meanwhile, let's not forget: this country is at war. American
priorities too often based on self-indulgence must change.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2003
GOD BLESS AMERICA.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER
8 through 10, 2003
"Deja vu", all over again. Two media efforts noted this
week have reinforced my strong suspicion that we Americans live in two
colliding universes: ultra-liberals who have learned not a thing
in the last fourty years ("articulate, arrogant, asinine"); and everybody
else. I listened today to a radio interview on National Public Radio with
U.S. Representative and very liberal Democratic Presidential hopeful Dennis
Kucinich. It reminded me of the first - and only time - that
I was foolish enough, as a medical student, to spend three uninturrupted
hours interviewing a schizophrenic patient. What a headache, trying
to follow - with little success - his thought patterns. And then
there was the article by Shelby Steele entitled: Civil Rights
Boulevard (WSJ, Tuesday,
Sept. 9, 2003, Opinion, pA22). In it he addresses the predicted results
of decades of liberal plantation politics. A couple of quotations
will provide the general idea.
"I can no longer hear Jesse Jackson's name without thinking of Norma
Desmond, the great and ruined silent film star in 'Sunset Boulevard'
who, after killing her lover, descends a marble staircase as if for her
next scene when in fact only the police await. Norma is a figure
of chilling pathos because she insists on the past...."
"The great lie of today's black protest, and of the diversity mongers
in our institutions, is that racism still holds blacks back. It does
not. Black and white elites like the racism diagnosis because it
politely - and fruitfully for black elites - assigns responsibility in
a way that does not blame the victim. But blacks are not behind academically
and economically because of racism. We are behind because four centuries
of oppression would leave any group without much knowledge of how to develop
and compete. We have less stored capital of knowledge and habit in
these areas than people realize. Call this culture or a legacy of
oppression or just plain backwardness, but to call it racism is to insist
on the past, and to make all that you say next obsolete."
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 6
and 7, 2003
Again the subjects are Iraq / Terrorism and Globalization.
In both areas, and with their implications, President Bush is now vulnerable.
As stated earlier in this section, both with regard to the clear need
for more forces in Iraq, and regarding the deteriorating situation
in Israel / Palestine, President Bush must take action before the
2004 election...or he will lose that election and - more importantly
- a weakened America will leave a dangerous power vacuum in the world.
Regardless of possible political consequences, he must either move all
but caretaker forces out of France and Germany for redeployment as
needed; or he must call for a fairly imposed military draft...or both.
And he must seriously pressure (coerce?) both Israel and Palestine and
their supporters to live up to the basics of the "road plan" ostensibly
agreed upon two months ago. What he must not do is submit
to continued blackmail by France, Germany, and some other members of the
U.N. Security Council in order to obtain some help with these problems
- help which ought to be offered by them as part of their world obligations.
Specifically, he must not relinquish military and administrative control
over the effort in Iraq. The U.N. has repeatedly demonstrated
that it is unready, unwilling, and unable to undertake such responsibilities.
Here's hoping that the President's report to the nation on September
7 will be consistent with this approach.
The problem of job loss in America continues to worsen. A
recent offering in this section attempted to analyze the problem, including
the problem of Globalization. Now comes an article by Robert J.
Samuelson entitled "A Crackup for World Trade?, Newsweek, August 25, 2003,
p55. As usual, Mr. Samuelson is right on point.
TUESDAY through FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER
2 through 5, 2003
It's catch-up time. Sorry for the delay.
With all the liberal "blasting" of the policies of President Bush,
particularly regarding Iraq, it is useful to get back to facts periodically.
The article by Paul Wolfowitz does that ("Support Our Troops", WSJ,
Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2003, Opinion, pA14). Remember a definition of
a "liberal": the first person to leave the room when the fight starts.
Regarding college costs, of course we want all eligible high school
students to have an opportunity to get a college education. But where
is it written that that opportunity should be without serious effort
by the student, but academically and financially. Public college
tuitions seem to be modest to date, even with this year's increases.
There is a lot of grant money out there. And what about students
earning a substantial portion of their school expenses...and saving?
I know what that's all about from personal experience. The old saying
is still relevant: "I fight poverty. I work."
What's going on here? We read that laws have to be passed to reduce
prison populations. Isn't it the job of criminals to reduce prison
populations? And isn't there any such thing any more as an "illegal
alien"? A society that cannot or will not control its borders
and that cannot guarantee civil society is on a steep downward spiral.
And what happened to "majority rule", with adequate - but not
coercive - safeguards for the minority? There was a time when
a minority in the U.S.Senate had to mount and endure a gruelling -and uninterrupted
- filibuster to try to thwart the will of a majority. No more.
Now we have "filibuster lite": take time outs...rest...schedule
the effort. The result is rule by a minority, as occurred
yesterday when nominee Miguel Estrada was blocked from majority appointment
to the D.C. Court of Appeals. That is not democracy in action. "Filibuster
lite" should be repealed by our Senators if they want our support.
And why do computer hackers rarely get substantial jail time?
Both they and the manufacturers of current inherently defective software
/ hardware should be made to pay for their anti-social behavior.
This can no longer be a case for "Buyer Beware". Cyber-world has
become so integral to the functioning of society as to need to be considered
tantamount to a public utility.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2003
This Labor Day over 6% of Americans in the work force are out of
work. How did this happen? Remember the burst Wall Street
bubble that began several months before George W. Bush took office?
Remember the resulting recession that is just now starting to turn around?
Remember 9/11, with its massive direct and consequential costs, including
Homeland Security? Remember world terrorism and our pre-emptive strike
against Saddam Hussein? Remember NAFTA AND GATT, with that "great
sucking sound" of U.S. jobs going to third world countries where U.S.companies
could maximize profits while directly or indirectly underwriting deplorable
human rights abuses and environmental degradation? Remember the greatly
increased productivity of American labor, armed with the tools of the second
Industrial Revolution, with consequent reduced need for American labor?
Remember an industrial labor force that thought it was their birthright
to continue in the same jobs performed by their fathers and grandfathers...just
because? And remember that more and more of our eligible retirees
are rightly opting to continue working, for their personal and financial
health, during ever increasing life spans?
Well, that's the diagnosis. What's the treatment?
Remember that a price/earnings ratio of 20 is reality, and that a ratio
of 40-70 is dangerous fantasy. Remember that the American economy
does not improve through profligate government spending, but through private
spending and investment - which requires private money in private hands.
Remember that there are thousands of madmen out there who are ready to
kill us in our shopping malls and churches...unless we get to them and
to their supporters first. Remember that America is of, for and by
the People - not of, for and by amoral and unsupervised corporations.
(Please see the offering, under the category Miscellaneous, entitled
- on this web site). And remember that no job, craft or profession
is secure unless the worker updates his or her skills or develops totally
new skills. The world is changing just too fast for anything less.
(I estimate that, on a daily basis as a practising physician, no more than
20% of the skills I am using was learned in Medical School. The rest
has come since then, through continuous education, training and experience.)
So, the real challenge and opportunity for government, corporate world
and private citizen alike is to develop a massive re-education and re-training
program for those members of American labor who will never see their old
jobs come back in this "jobless recovery". This program should be
on the order of the CCC, WPA and similar programs - short of world war
- that got our workers back to work in the 1930's and early 1940's.
Let's get real...and prepare for tomorrow, not yesterday. HAPPY