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
FRIDAY, December 31, 2004
It happened a few years ago. That was the time when, having attended
a live docu-drama at the Garde Theatre in New London which reviewed important
events of the last 75 years, I decided that living through it once was
enough. Events of recent years have reinforced that judgment: 9/11
and its consequences; the death of our first child, Maura, last year; the
never-ending Presidential campaign.... And so, I have no interest
in reading summaries of 2004.
Onward and upward. To put it another way: the most important day
of our life is...TODAY. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is a hope.
Today is real and all opportunity.
But just in case tomorrow comes, HAPPY NEW YEAR, and 'til we
meet again' within the four corners of Rapid Response.
Thank you for your continuing interest.
THURSDAY, December 30, 2004
The Democrats are still carping at President Bush, this time for
allegedly not reacting fast enough to the tsunami disaster.
But the President was fast enough to have Colin Powell address the
issue immediately on TV; to have an aircraft carrier group immediately
dispached from Japan to the area to give hands-on support; and to begin
the transfer of funds to affected nations. More action has come and
will come. Meanwhile, can Democrats be non-partisan about anything?
In recent days I have been writing about Justice, Freedom and Democracy,
subjects entirely suited to the Christmas season...and to any season.
Recently, I was sent the transcript of a presentation, made by Dr. Myron
Schoenfeld of New York: "Is Democracy
for Everyone?" An excellent review of the history...and the currency...of
democracy in the world, this presentation is available on this web site,
under "The Involved Citizen - Society. It's worth your time and consideration.
WEDNESDAY, December 29, 2004
The tsunami stories are heart-wrenching; and this is just the beginning.
Why is it that some people in the world, as in South Asia and in Central
Africa, are destined to suffer, and suffer? I sure don't know.
But I know that such disasters, and even the periods between the inevitable
disasters, represent great opportunities for the wealthier nations of the
world to do good...and often to do well in the process. The immediacy
of today's T.V. and other reportage shows so clearly how we are a one world
community, people to people. America must do its utmost at this
time, as President Bush has today promised, despite the fact that we,
who provide 40% of all the world's food and cash aid to needy peoples,
have been called "stingy" by a representative of that bulwark of responsiveness...the
U.N. Fine. Whether in war or in peace, we'll do our own thing.
All others are welcome to participate...or not.
Meanwhile, the stories of greed, subterfuge and fraud from the corporate
world continue to pock-mark the news. Today's WSJ has yet another
relevant article ("Opinions Labeling Deals 'Fair' Can Be Far From Independent",
by Ann Davis and Monica Langley, p1). When is our federal government,
Republican or Democrat, going to require fiscal and tax fairness from the
business world? Such action would provide much-needed funds for activities
other than as rewards for greed, subterfuge and fraud.
On a "lighter" note, we find nearly daily articles on rampant obesity
anywhere American culture has been injected; and we also learn that none
of the touted diet regimens are supported by any scientific evidence that
they work, as reported in this month's Annals of Internal Medicine. Well,
I tell you what I'm gonna do. Very shortly this web site will
highlight a new public service recommending the only eating and life-style
approach that has worked for over two thousand years: the Mediterranean
Diet and life-style. This will be a product of Mediterranean
Diet Enterprises, Inc., our latest effort to do good while doing well.
MONDAY and TUESDAY, December 27
and 28, 2004
This Christmas Season "has me in its spell". Earlier this
week we wrote about Peace; then we decided there could be no peace
without Justice. Now, how can there be justice for people
whose God has given them the ultimate gift...free will...without the Freedom
to exercise that free will? And what is the only structure for societal
organization that has been shown to be most capable of promoting freedom?
America's desire to export democracy, strengthened to a mission of self-defense
after 9/11, is the only logical game plan if we seek peace, for ourselves
and for the world. Against us are alligned minor players, like
the Uzbek leader who prohibited any opposition parties from participating
in the recent "election" because "there is no real opposition". There
are serious opponents like the Osama bin Laden and the Sunnis in Iraq,
and the mullas throughout the Islamic world who distort Islam for their
own ends. And there are dangerous opponents like the Old Guard of
the USSR who still control, autocratically, enough nuclear power to destroy
the world. But what choice do we Americans have, except to pursue
this game plan of promoting democracy, sometimes at the expense of demoting
its opposite number in other areas of the world? Fortress America
has long since been bridged. And this is not "empire building".
It is simply self-defense. So, let's stay the course. However
difficult, the alternative is much worse...and irresponsible.
SUNDAY, December 26, 2004
More on the subject of Christmas before we go on to other matters.
on Earth, Good Will to All" is the goal we all strive for. But
has never come, and will not come, without Justice. So long as
"survival of the fittest", or its modern iteration - pure free enterprise
and total reliance on market forces - continues to be the rule of the "haves",
the desperate have-nots will allow not a moment's peace. The latest
of so many examples of this historical fact is described in an article
in today's NYTimes ("Europe's Muslims May Be Headed Where the Marxists
Went Before", by Craig S. Smith, Wk 7). Thus, the choice for
the world, if it wishes to survive, is not between Capitalism and Communism...but
between injustice and justice. There is enough to go around.
So, where are the statesmen when we need them? Or are they all merely
"persons held upright by equally opposing forces"?
How about the article on "cancer stem cells"? ("Dark Side
Of Stem Cells: Scientists See Them As Hidden Force In Cancer", by Gareth
Cook, The Day today, Region, pD4). So far, these deadly cells cannot
be distinguished from other stem cells. And yet, not a word of caution
regarding the hype about the beneficial uses of stem cells. As has
probably become the case with the FDA's role in protecting the public,
bad politics produces bad science. More than ever, "Caveat emptor"...let
the buyer beware!
There was a time when I belonged to the ACLU. But that was
long ago and far away, before that group devolved into merely a shill for
its most far-out members. Witness its fevered efforts to eliminate
Christmas from the nation's psyche ("Policies That Duck Religion Toss
Christians To Secular Lions", by Don Pesci, The Day today, Voices and
Views, pC3). As stated recently in this section, the time is rapidly
approaching for Christians...and for those of other Faiths as well...to
stop turning the other cheek. This kind of extreme secularism is rapidly
becoming a aggressive cancer in our national body.
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, December 24
and 25, 2004
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.
This is another time when personal observations seem unnecessary in
view of excellent sentiments expressed in other sources. See
Promise of Christmas", The Day editorial, Friday, Sept. 24, 2004, Opinion,
pA6. See also the encouraging article in the same edition, pA7, entitled
Respect Jesus As A Prophet", by Ibrahim Hooper. In fact,
this latter article has caused me to make a New Year's resolution that
I am not likely to break: after reading
"In Search Of Paul", by
Crossan and Reed (Harper San Francisco, 2004), I will buy and read the
Koran. The hope for us all in these dangerous times lies in getting
back to basics...and to basic truths.
FRIDAY through THURSDAY, December
17 through 23, 2004
Another interruption. I went to visit my grandsons in Ohio.
But the work of an "Involved Citizen" goes on.
The Columbus Dispatch editorial on Saturday, Dec. 18 addressed the issue
of election mechanics, especially in a State like Ohio which tends
to run close elections. Previous comments in this section have
issued the same concerns and cautions. We got away with the developing
crazy quilt of elections machines one more time; but our luck can't hold.
Especially troubling are the digital election computers that produce no
paper record. Now, that's crazy.
Nearing the end of the year, we read about another crazy practice: "flexible
health savings accounts" wherein the participant eather uses or loses
his money at the end of each year...prompting a predictable year-end binge
of unnecessary "health" spending. Every day, in every way, a wasteful
nation. The bill has to come due sometime.
The FDA is in trouble...and so are we all. Perceptions being
as important as facts, the public is seriously questioning its trust in
this vital function. What can it do to reverse the current trend?
1) Develop workable mechanisms for tracking drugs after they hit the market;
2) Remove the financial connections that have developed in the last decade
between the drug industry and the FDA; 3) Require drug companies to release
all resuits of all tests that they do on a drug under evaluation; 4) Eliminate
the current practice of marketing directly to the public even before peer-reviewed
articles on the subject have been published; 5) Increase control of generic
drugs...and promote them where they are viable alternatives; 6) Obtain
repeal of the 1994 federal law that prevents the FDA from oversight over
the alternative medicine market...laughingly allowed as "food supplements"
but with serious side effects; 7)Restrict the amount of money the drug
companies can spend on marketing. All this can be justified under
the government's police powers concerning the health and safety of the
public. But nothing will happen without a loud public outcry.
What's up with Conservatives? They oppose Immigration Law
reform; they oppose the No Child Left Behind Act; they oppose the McCain-Feingold
election fund raising and spending law; they oppose the Medicare drug cost
initiatives. We have seen, so many times, how a little power can
distort common sense through arrogance (most recently with the sagas of
Bernard Kerik and John Rowland). We trust that George W. Bush is
sufficiently comfortable with himself and with his "compasionate conservatism"
so as to avoid such over-reaching.
Each year there are more and more efforts to defile Christmas, through
books, movies, TV, and through a suffocating political correctness.
Christians usually suffer all this in silence. But we may be getting
to a critical mass that will require a robust response...like a boycott
of appropriate interests. Talk about the power of prayer....
Iraq. It hurts...and then it infuriates. Secretary
Rumsfeld continues to dismiss serious questions about his stewardship
of this military effort with non-responsive replies. He did express
one substantive...and wrong-headed...opinion this week, when he
said that we don't have more troops in Iraq because we "don't want to seem
like an occupying power" and are waiting for the Iraqi people to take over
their own burden. Meanwhile, a canvass tent the size of three football
fields, on a base that received at least 30 mortar attacks in the past,
is allowed to provide a constant target of over 500 troops and workers
without protection. Where does negligence end and recklessness
THURSDAY , December 16, 2004
There are many times when a source says it all, at least for the time
being. Two stories are so addressed in today's WSJ, Opinion, pA16.
The signs of reversion of Russia toward the bad old days: "Russia
On Trial", written by an attorney for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former
CEO of Yukos oil company.
An argument in favor of voluntary personal accounts for part of a worker's
Security taxes: A Personal Matter, by N.Gregory Mankin, Chairman
of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. The devil may be
in the details...but the concept is sound.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, December
13 through 15, 2004
ENOUGH ALREADY! The Scott Peterson case continues to titilate
the press, if not the public. But consider this: since California
reinstituted the death penalty about a decade ago, there have been 10 executions;
there are now over 600 inmates there on death row awaiting execution while
their appeals go on; it is estimated that, if Peterson loses all his
appeals, he will face execution, in rotation, in 27 YEARS!
How's that for "cruel and unusual punishment"...and gross governmental
In another "slap my own head" category: an Islamic apologist was
recently heard on WNPR to speak approvingly of a "sacred hatred"
that Muslims are allowed to have. I know little about the Religion
of Islam; but that's no part of any religion I know.
This next is about the ACLU and similar groups that try constantly to read
Religion" into the U.S. Constitution. They are now opposing efforts
to allow (not require, as they allege) other theories regarding the origin
and development of the universe besides the
theory of evolution
- like the theory of intelligent design - to be taught in schools.
As has already been pointed out by others, to prohibit any reasonable theories
of science and knowledge to be taught in schools is perpetrating a fraud
on students, and is the height of arrogance and totalitarianism.
Bad news - Good News. Bad News: "China is bent upon and
will achieve gross military and economic parity with the U.S.", perhaps
in the next decade. (See "Beyond the Rim", by Mark Helprin,
WSJ, Monday, Dec. 13, 2004, Opinion, pA16). Good News: India
has renewed a warm relationship with the U.S. that has not existed for
decades. We may well need that kind of friendship, as with Japan
and perhaps with Indonesia, to maintain a balance of power on the Pacific
Rim...a vital strategic requirement for us. (See "'Old' Europe,
Make Way for New Delhi", by C. Raja Mohan, WSJ today, Opinion, pA20).
Syria and Iran are seriously meddling in Iraq's internal affairs,
and President Bush has cautioned both countries to stop those activities.
We hope that he has some credible leverage to use on them. (See "Serious
About Syria?", WSJ Editorial, today, Opinion, pA20). We can't
afford more loss of face in that part of the world than has already resulted
from our sloppy handling of the post-war Iraq efforts to date.
Nor can we afford to give up our hard-won influence and presence in the
Middle East...and at the back door of the Far East. This will, of
course, require a credible Military. Secretary Rumsfeld and President
Bush, are you there?
Medical Malpractice Reform. The President today has declared
the passage of legislation curbing "economy-damaging lawsuits" (including
class action, asbestos, and medical malpractice cases) a high priority:
"I am passionate on this subject". (See Reuters article, Politics,
today). For more on the medical malpractice issue, and its
direct effects on the availability and quality of health care, see Health
Law Issues on this web site.
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, December 11
and 12, 2004
Viktor Yushchenko. It would appear that he is the first new
victim of the bad old days of the Kremlin. Of course, I've drawn
the conclusion that President Putin's Ukrainian bet against Yushchenko
was rigged. But this savage? You see, anyone who wanted this
candidate dead could have done it very rapidly, either by a bullet, a bomb
or one of many immediately lethal poisons. Rather in this case, having
chosen Dioxin, his enemies wanted to maim him for life. This
agent is not only highly toxic, but its effects are cumulative, including
a disfiguring "chloracne", bone marrow depression, liver disease, various
cancers, and possible injury to future children. Comrad Putin,
now I also have looked into your soul...and President Bush had better take
"Insurgency in Iraq". That term has long seemed inappropriate for
what is now going on there. How about "civil war"? How about
"invasion" from surrounding countries? And how about the Arab neighbors
and fellow Muslims considering something more than the Israel - Palestine
issue, vital as that is to the stability of the region? How about
democracy, supression of terrorist sources in their own countries, and
helping to stabilize Iraq after the overthrow of a dangerous despot?
On all these other vital issues, Secretary of State Powell was stiffed
during the recent meeting with representatives of 20 Arab states in Morocco.
What a neighborhood. Too bad for them that they drew us into that
morass on 9/11. Always better to defend ourselves in their neighborhood
than in ours.
On the local scene, three articles in today's The Day warrant comment.
Steve Slosberg wrote about the details of carrying out the death penalty,
but missed the point. WHAT ABOUT JUSTICE? The article on another
forum about public schools read like a class from Sociology 101,
and it missed the point: WHAT ABOUT READING, WRITING AND MATH? (Panel,
by Dan Pearson, Region, pD7). And the article, like others, about
the Fort Trumbull eminent domain issue, confuses the point by discussing
the New London problem in the same context as the nationwide examples of
gross abuse of this valid statutory power. I believe that the Institute
for Justice has made the same mistake by selecting New London's case to
bring to the U.S. Supreme Court. And that is why I believe that they
will lose and that New London's actions will be upheld.
FRIDAY, December 10, 2004
Secretary of State Powell has criticized some NATO members (especially
France and its current lap-dog, Germany) for refusing to join the NATO
training mission in Iraq. So, why is President Bush bothering to
visit Old Europe to "mend these breaches"? Rather, just wait until
they need us again; they will be back. Just let us not forget that
"these dogs won't hunt".
More on the state of our Military. The WSJ today reports that,
despite everything, "the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all met their
recruiting goals for the year that ended September 30" (Editorial, pA14).
What does that say about their "recruiting goals"? The same thing
it says about the fiction that military comanders in the field were satisfied
with their deployed manpower in Iraq in the last year. The truth
lies in the article in the same edition, same page, by retired Army Colonel
Andrew J. Bacevich entitled "Overextended".
On the Peterson murder trial, if the conviction was largely on circumstantial
evidence, the jury will come back with life imprisonment. Meanwhile,
remember that he was convicted of double murder of mother and
fetus. Enough of the fictions of the pro-abortion gang.
The recurring issue of Federal law vs State prerogatives is again
in the news. Many states provide members of the Press with protection
for safe-guarding the identity of informants...but Federal law does not.
As with the issue of medical use of marijuana, this matter should be resolved
by the U.S.Supreme Court asap. For all its warts, the Press needs
this protection to do its vital job in a democracy.
More on the Education Profession, the only group allowed to do
raw research on humans. A classic example throughout recent decades
has involved the teaching of mathematics. For a case in point, read:
Science Journal, by Sharon Begley, WSJ today, Marketplace, pB1. To
quote the National Research Council: "In no other field are personal
experience and ideology so frequently relied on to make policy choices,
and in no other field is the research base so inadequate and little used."
More on that "defective, unreasonably dangerous" product called
computer software, especially Windows-based PC's. See Walter S. Mossberg's
article yesterday in the WSJ, Marketplace, pB1. It continues to seem that
"an Apple a day" can keep the computer doctor away.
Locally, Utopia...the business group that proposes a nearly billion
dollar entertainment development complex between the Mohegan and Mashantucket
cash cows in Southeastern Connecticut...continues to get short shrift despite
doing everything right and having no viable competitors. Could
the problem be with the name? After all, a dictionary definition
is: "a visionary, impractical system of political or social perfection".
Not too encouraging. But then, Atlantis may have been recently found.
Can Utopia be far behind?
THURSDAY, December 9, 2004
The structure of our Military is again in the news this week, but
everyone continues to ignore the elephant in the living room. The
page A1 article in the WSJ makes no mention of it. Secretary Rumsfeld
avoided it in his glib reply to a pressing issue raised by a soldier at
his "town-hall" meeting with Iraq-bound troops in Kuwait. The military
recruiting provision in the "No Child Left Behind" law is just a start,
including highschool Junior ROTC programs. And learning about the
5,000 military deserters who have gone to Canada to avoid going to the
Middle East just begs the question: when are our leaders going to get
serious about "shared sacrifices" and re-institute a fair draft?
This subject has been discussed in this section several times before now
out our search engine on [the Home Page of] this web site for specifics).
The politicians won't touch it. The Military would rather deal with
self-motivated volunteers rather than poorly educated conscripts.
But the needs of this country are not getting filled - neither in Iraq
nor for the future - except through the rubber band and paper clip process
currently in effect that has been unfairly treating our forces currently
under arms...and that has contributed to the 1,000 plus military dead and
10,000 plus injured. President Bush, it is time to use some of your
political capital and do the right thing.
Meanwhile, the political fix seems to be in with regard to the base-closing
process...at least as relates to the critical naval submarine base in
New London - Groton, Ct. and the inevitable connection to the primiere
sub building facility in the country, Electric Boat Co. See "Magazine's
Findings On Sub Base Are Questioned", by Robert A. Hamilton, The Day
today, pA1. There is enough pork to satisify the appetites of our
elected officials without jeapordizing our national security...but that
is just what is at stake when politics is allowed to play a hand in this
process. This should be a concern of all citizens, and not only to
residents of affected regions. "Now is the time for all good men
to come to the aid of their country".
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, December
6 through 8, 2004
The news regarding Muslims [see article immediately following this
Rapid Response offering] doesn't seem to get better. It looks
like this will be the 21st century counterpart to the "cold war" of the
later 20th century: to break the back of Islamic Fundamentalism just as
one would destroy by fire a house racked by smallpox. The hope is
that most Muslims are moderates and susceptible to democracy. In
my mind, all this gives even greater legitimacy to our efforts in Afganistan
and in Iraq. And there may have to be more to come.
London Times - Dec 04, 2004
Stoned to death...why Europe is starting to lose faith in Islam
By Charles Bremner
Islamic fundamentalism is causing a 'clash of civilizations' between
liberal democracies and Muslims
DAYS before she was due to be married, Ghofrane Haddaoui, 23, refused
the advances of a teenage boy and paid with her life. Lured to waste ground
near her home in Marseilles, the Tunisian-born Frenchwoman was stoned to
death, her skull smashed by rocks hurled by at least two young men, according
to police. Although the circumstances of the murder are not clear, the
horrific “lapidation” of the young Muslim stoked a French belief that the
country can no longer tolerate the excesses of an alien culture in its
A few days ago, pop celebrities joined 2,000 people in a march through
Marseilles denouncing violence against women, particularly in the immigrant-dominated
housing estates. The protest against Islamic “obscurantism” and the “fundamentalism
that imprisons women” was led by a group of Muslim women who call themselves
Ni Putes ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissive).
The movement, which emerged three years ago to defend Muslim women,
is spawning similar groups across Europe, supported by a mainstream opinion
that has recently abandoned political correctness and wants to halt the
inroads of Islam.
From Norway to Sicily, governments, politicians and the media are laying
aside their doctrines of diversity and insisting that “Islamism”, as the
French call the fundamentalist form that pervades the housing estates,
is incompatible with Europe’s liberal values.
The shift is not just a reaction to exceptional violence such as the
Madrid train bombings, or the murder of Theo van Gogh, the anti-Islamic
Dutch film-maker, by a Dutch-Moroccan. It stems from a belief that more
muscular methods are needed to integrate Europe’s 13-million strong Muslim
community and to combat creeds that breed extremists and ultimately, terrorism.
With mixed results, governments are trying to quell the scourge by co-opting
Muslim leaders to promote a moderate European Islam.
In Germany, with its three million — mainly Turkish — Muslims, and France,
with its five million of mainly North African descent, television viewers
were shocked when local young Muslims approved of Van Gogh’s murder. “If
you insult Islam, you have to pay,” was a typical response.
“The notion of multiculturalism has fallen apart,” said Angela Merkel,
leader of Germany’s Christian Democrat opposition. “Anyone coming here
must respect our constitution and tolerate our Western and Christian roots.”
Italy’s traditional tolerance towards immigrants has been eroded by fear
of Islamism. An Ipsos poll in September showed that 48 per cent of Italians
believed that a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West was
under way and that Islam was “a religion more fanatical than any other”.
Similar views can be heard across traditionally tolerant Scandinavia
— and no longer just from the populist rightwing party’s such as Pia Kjaersgaard’s
People’s Party in Denmark. The centre-right Government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen,
has equipped Denmark with Europe’s toughest curbs on immigration, largely
aimed at people from Muslim countries. In Sweden, where anti-Muslim feeling
is running high and mosques have been burnt, schools have been authorized
to ban pupils who wear full Islamic head-cover, although the measure comes
nowhere near France’s new ban on the hijab in all state schools.
In Spain, with a rapidly rising population of nearly a million Muslims,
the backlash has been less visible despite the bombings, but thousands
demonstrated in Seville this week against plans to build a mosque in the
city centre. The Government has also won approval by sending 500 extra
police to monitor preachers and Muslim associations.
Police across the EU are closely watching prayer meetings in makeshift
mosques in cities and housing estates, and media accounts of the jihadist,
anti-Western and anti-semitic doctrines of the imams are fuelling public
anger. In Germany, pressure is growing for sermons to be preached in German
rather than Turkish or Arabic. Hidden TV cameras recently broadcast an
imam in a Berlin mosque telling worshippers that “Germans can only expect
to rot in the fires of hell because they are nonbelievers”.
The debate over the limits to free speech is loudest in France, which
now acknowledges the failure of its “republican” approach to integration
whereby immigrants were supposed to blend harmoniously into society and
not exist in separate communities.
Dominique de Villepin, the Interior Minister, is deporting foreign imams
who support wife-beating and other uncivilised practices. This week the
Government moved to ban a Lebanon-based television channel for anti-semitic
broadcasting. The left wing, which long shunned criticism of Islam as the
stock-in-trade of Jean-Marie le Pen, the far-Right leader, now denounces
the “totalitarian”, anti-feminist, antisemitic doctrines of the fundamentalists.
Jacques Julliard, a leading left-wing commentator, said the Left’s longstanding
tolerance had been used as “an agent for the penetration of Islamic intolerance”.
Some on the Left have also taken strong exception to the concept of
“Islamophobia”, a supposed sin defined by EU anti-racism watchdogs as akin
The French consensus was symbolized by the 80 per cent public support
for the head-scarf ban, which started with little trouble in September.
While many Muslims felt stigmatized, the Government took comfort from the
approval of the ban by a substantial minority of the 10 per cent of the
population that is of immigrant origin.
Among them is Fadela Amara, a Muslim town councillor from Clermond Ferrand,
who heads the Ni Putes, Ni Soumises movement. “The veil is an instrument
of oppression that is imposed by the green fascists,” she says. Mme Amara,
who led the Marseilles march, advocates an “open Islam, an Islam of French
culture a bit Gallic around the edges”. This is also the aim of the state,
which two years ago created a national Muslim Council to promote moderate
mainstream Islam. The council was set up by Nicolas Sarkozy, the then Interior
Minister, who now heads the UMP, President Chirac’s centre-right party.
M Sarkozy has just caused a stir by going a stage further, proposing
that France’s rigorously secular state fund the building of mosques. “Whether
I like it or not, Islam is the second biggest religion in France. So you
have to integrate it by making it more French,” he said. To general dismay,
however, the national council is coming increasingly under the effective
control of radicals.
Reluctantly, some intellectuals have lately concluded that the model
for Europe should be the US. On Tuesday a writer for Libération,
the French left-wing daily, noted that immigrants in the US threw themselves
into “the American dream” and prospered. “There is no French, Dutch or
other European dream,” she noted. “You emigrate here to escape poverty
and nothing more."
SUNDAY, December 5, 2004
Liberals and morality. They just don't get it.
No matter how much execrable content continues to fill our movie and TV
screens, how many anti-Christmas shows and movies are produced, and how
many brave articles are written boasting that the results of recent national
elections were just a flash in the pan, things have changed from the last
thirty years, folks. You went too far; and the tide has turned.
Adjust, or disappear as a political and social force for decades to come.
(See "The Battle Is Over; But The War Goes On", by Michelle Cottle,
Time, Dec. 6, 2004, Essay, p128).
Public Education. There's another area where the bankrupt
old guard, epitomized by teachers' unions, keeps fighting a heartless rear-guard
action. Every effort continues to be made to de-rail the movement
toward school choice - the only hope for removing the cancer that afflicts
that vital function of our society. See "State Backslides On Promise
Of School Choice", by Robert Buckingham, The Day today, Perspective,
C1; see also "Education's Broken Promises", ibid., pC2. See
also the many other articles on this web site on this sorry subject.
The Death Penalty. Lord forgive me if I'm wrong, but
I believe that should be part of society's armament against those who would
destroy it. However, so many questions have been raised regarding
its application in many specific instances, whether due to the availability
of new forensic techniques (eg. DNA testing), or to inadequacy of defense,
or to prosecutorial misconduct, that I believe there should be a nationwide
moratorium on executions in all but the most clear-cut cases until these
issues are resolved. The U.S. Supreme Court may be arriving at the
same conclusion. See "Rulings In Texas Capital Cases Try Supreme
Court's Patience", by Liptak and Blumenthal, The Day today, Nation,
Here is a new saying worth remembering, attributed to Bernard Kerik,
the newly nominated head of the Department of Homeland Security; "What
gets measured, gets done".
More fuel for the FDA and pharmaceutical fires. Despite all
the noise about the new "fat drug"...reported to do every good thing but
grow hair...there are no peer-reviewed reports yet published to evaluate
the claims. Such direct and unregulated access to the public is distorting
the development of valid and trustworthy information on which both physicians
and patients can make informed choices. And another thing: should
not the SEC have something to say about the impact of such claims on share
values and the manipulation of same?
Athletes and anabolic steroids. I'm shocked, shocked!
Just how stupid do all these sports people think we are? Very
Finally, a local issue. New London, Ct. began with 6 1/2 square
miles, had a third of that taken in the construction of I 95, with half
of the remainder in the hands of tax exempt organizations (three colleges,
hospital, churches...). Now comes a report that Fishers Island,
part of New York that should still be part of Connecticut, is unhappy with
its N.Y. connection. Something about "taxation without representation".
(See "Fishers Island Is Looking Toward Connecticut Shores", by Tom
Clavin, NYTimes, today, Connecticut, pCt4). Here's an opportunity
for this city to expand to an area already closely tied to us in business,
education and travel connections; and also an opportunity for the residents
of Fishers Island to become part of "a hip little city". Sounds good
to me. Let's go for it!
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, December 3
and 4, 2004
Important developments in the Middle East. Ariel Sharon seems
intent on getting his plans for Israel, even at the expense of having to
form a unity government with the Labor Party. And Hamas has
reversed decades of insistence on the destruction of Israel, and now agrees
to enter discussions regarding a State of Palestine involving the West
Bank and Gaza. Is one allowed to believe again?
Donald Rumsfeld will continue as Secretary of Defense. This
means to me that President Bush is willing to accept that the "buck"
for the many errors made in Iraq following the end of formal hostilities
there stops at his desk. What a mess. There is "resolve"...and
there is stupid stubbornness in the face of developments. And now
there is no election to hide behind. A disappointment.
More on Health Savings Accounts...I warned you. See "Your
New Health Plan", Business Week, Nov. 8, 2004, p88.
Enough for the heavy stuff. If you want a real break from
the usual news, subscribe to the Cody
Enterprise (codyenterprise.com). There you can regularly
read such fare as: "Extending Grizzly Zones A Ridiculous Idea" (Monday,
Nov. 15, 2004, Opinion, pA4); and "Game Accidents Rise In Winter"
(same issue, pB1). There we read: "As big game animals migrate
out of the mountains to lower elevation wihter ranges, the frequency of
deer, antelope and even elk on the highways increases. Travelers
need to pay special attention." Isn't that refreshing?
(My family and I spent a lot of time over a 15 year period among the mountains
around Cody, Wyoming).
THURSDAY, December 2, 2004
"More Americans Waiting To Marry" (by Genaro C. Armas, The Day
today, pA1). Certainly true, from the experiences of our own families
and friends. And not a bad idea, considering the broader educational
and career opportunities available, and also considering that the parents
of these young Americans had a divorce rate of about 50%. But
wait: there is a worrisome message to be found in the internal facts
supporting that finding.
All of this is of a piece with the disintegration of basic societal mores
and the abrogation of individual responsibility among large swaths of our
citizens. And that's why the red states were seeing red in the last
two elections and longer. It is time for an agonizing reappraisal
of citizens' freedom vs their basic responsibilies. That reappraisal
is under way.
Many of these "singles" are living together before marriage, despite the
finding that such practice actually increases the likelihood of subsequent
Many women are not marrying until their later thirties. Meanwhile,
their "biologic clock is ticking" and their sexual activities are promoting
- among other things - the likelihood of infertility problems through infection
and immune mechanisms when they are ready to conceive.
In 2003, nearly 35% of all births were to unmarried women, with the figure
much larger for blacks.
Now a majority of children are being raised in one-parent households.
The "best interests of the child", the talisman of the law regarding
kids, are certainly not being attended to this way.
We also read today that U.S. HIV cases now total nearly 1 million, with
an estimated 40,000 new cases each year.
WEDNESDSAY, December 1, 2004
So far, so good. In Iraq, it appears that the election will
not be delayed. And the U.S. may even send another 10,000 troops
there to improve security. In Ukraine, the direction is toward
a proper resolution of the critical stalemate there. It's also encouraging
to read that a heavyweight like Zbigniew Brzezinski agrees with the importance
of and stakes in that issue ("Imperial Russia, Vassal Ukraine",
WSJ today, Opinion, pA10) But it's not over yet.
On the same page in the WSJ is the real story regarding Iran.
Neville Chamberlain would be proud of our fearless European allies and
their constant penchant for appeasment. And so, regarding
our "friends'" criticism of America's foreign policy in recent years, I
cannot improve upon President Bush's comment upon arriving in Canada this
week. "President Bush on Tuesday thanked Canadians who waved a welcome
to him 'with all five fingers....'" (Elisabeth Bumiller, NYTimes News Service).
The Dutch people were occupied by Nazi Germany for several hard
years during WW2. Did they as a result also say "never again", teaching
their children and grandchildren the value of independence...but to and
beyond the point of irresponsibility? Holland is a country
where hard drugs have been available from candy-like dispensers for years.
Also for years, they have made physician - assisted suicide legal, even
desireable. Today we read that a hospital in the Netherlands has
been performing euthanasia on terminally ill infants, and that the Dutch
are debating euthanasia for terminally ill patients "with no free will"
(The Day, World, pA2). They may have learned too well from their
Good news:NAACP President Kweisi Mfume is resigning. I can only
assume that the self-defeating course that organization has followed in
the last decade was partly of his doing. Now maybe the "advancement
of colored people" can finally be seen as achieveable mainly through true
integration into the total community...as has been true of all other minorities
in this country...and not through their own form of separatism.
Did you see the WSJ editorial yesterday calling for a "Kofi break"?
And today a knowedgeable U.S. Senator is also calling for the resignation
of the U.N. Secretary-General. Good idea. But, in fairness,
let's see what a report on the future of the U.N. ordered by him one year
ago has to say. It was reportedly released today. More