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MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, May 29 through 31, 2006
"No greater love hath man than to give his life for another." God bless and keep all our fallen heroes.GS
SUNDAY, May 28, 2006
MONDAY through SATURDAY, May 15 through 27, 2006
Sorry about the interruption. Family vacation, followed by catch-up at the medical practice. There has also been a lot of "same ol', same ol'" during this interval.
In October of last year, I published a letter outlining the long and careful process by which the agents of this city government had pursued all legal means to improve New London's chances for survival against long odds. Those efforts were completely validated by all reviewing courts including the U.S. Supreme Court. They also have been validated by all fair-minded citizens with regard to the extensive accommodations made for their fellow citizens. The time is long overdue to implement the rule of law and to proceed with the legal intent and the needs of the city as a whole.
Writing on behalf of the vast majority of New Londoners, I urge our City Councillors to authorize a conclusion to fruitless negotiations and to proceed immediately with proper development of Fort Trumbull. And, to paraphrase an old bit of advice for any stubborn and self-serving holdouts: you have lost the ability to lead; so either follow...or get out of the way. New London's future is now.
George A. Sprecace, M.D., J.D.
SUNDAY, May 14, 2006
HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY...OURS, AND THE MOTHERS OF OUR CHILDREN. Where would any of us be without them...and without their life-long guidance
And now for a commentary on some recent commentaries. Or is that just a definition of a Blog?
THURSDAY through SATURDAY, May 11 through 13, 2006
A few unsurprising developments in the last few days.
SUNDAY through WEDNESDAY, May 7 through 10, 2006
SATURDAY, May 6, 2006
The London Times May 02, 2006
A pillar of wisdom in the great Islamic debate
For years the US Government has listened to and learnt from the
90-year-old Professor Bernard Lewis.
CONSIDER AMERICA the paradoxical. It is the most forward-looking country
on earth, where one of the cruellest put-downs is “you’re history”. It is
a youthful country, where the elderly are regularly dismissed as “old
timers”. And its public discourse can be spectacularly anti-academic, with
populist politicians railing against “pointy-headed professors”.
But yesterday, Dick Cheney — arguably the most powerful Vice-President
American history — commandeered Air Force 2 and flew to Philadelphia to
speak at a luncheon in honour of a 90-year-old history professor. The
event, hosted by the World Affairs Council, was none other than the
birthday celebration of Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern
Studies at Princeton and the last of the great Orientalists.
In the postwar era, perhaps only John Kenneth Galbraith among the
economists, and Edward Teller and Albert Wohlstetter among the nuclear
theologians, have enjoyed comparable influence. Cheney’s tribute is all
the more noteworthy considering that Lewis never served in the US
Government; his only stint in officialdom was wartime service in MI6.
So who is Lewis — and why and how does he exert such influence in his
adopted land? Born in 1916 to a Jewish immigrant father and an
Anglo-Jewish mother, he grew up in Notting Hill, Stoke Newington and
Willesden and first became interested in oriental languages when learning
Hebrew for his bar mitzvah. He subsequently studied under Sir Hamilton
Gibb at the School of Oriental and African Studies — he lectured there
from 1938 to 1974 — and speaks no fewer than eight languages.
Paul Wolfowitz, now President of the World Bank, who in the 1980s served
as Ambassador in Jakarta, recalls Lewis sitting up till late into the
night in Java discussing in Arabic some of the finer points of Sharia with
a group of leading Islamic scholars — to the pleasure and surprise of the
Such is the quality of his work that his volume The Middle East and
West (1964) was even reprinted by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in two
versions. “I do not know who this man is,” commented the editor. “He is
either a candid friend or an honest enemy, but in either case he is one
who refuses to deal in falsehoods.”
Lewis treasures the compliment: it was certainly more generous than
anything accorded him by his great detractor in Western academe, the late
Edward Said, who in his work Orientalism (1978) argued that the
predominant school of scholarship on the Middle East and Islam (which
Lewis personified) was little more than a tool of imperialism and
Lewis successfully rebutted the accusations in intellectual terms, but
the time being has lost the war of numbers in academe. The Saidians
triumphed, peddling an account of Arab and Muslim victimhood that is now
the norm. “Narratives” of “humiliation” and “disempowerment” came to be
valued above solid textual and philological analysis, Lewis says.
Until September 11, Lewis’s most intensive dialogue had been with Muslim
leaders such as King Hussein of Jordan and President Ozal of Turkey. But
shortly after the twin towers collapsed, Cheney (who had met Lewis earlier
while Defence Secretary) convened a dinner of experts in his residence at
the Naval Observatory.
Lewis was the star: he reaffirmed the Vice-President’s deep conviction
that the jihadists believed that the US could not last the course — as
exemplified by the American retreats after the bombing of the Marine
barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the Somalian debacle of 1993. The
perception of American strength was critical to anything the US wished to
do in the region.
The two men met at least half a dozen times; Lewis has also met George
Bush twice as well as Condoleezza Rice. But his impact upon American
leaders has focused less on particular policy recommendations than on how
to think about the problem. As the leading historian of modern Turkey, he
argues that late Ottoman decline was self-inflicted rather than due to
Western expansion. It resulted from an outdated cultural superiority
complex, which held that infidels had little to teach them.
Similarly, Lewis contends that the West cannot be blamed for the ills
modern Muslim societies: it is up to Muslim elites to make the right
choices that will be bring their societies into the 21st century — just as
Ataturk did in the ruins of the Ottoman empire in the first half of the
20th century (Lewis is one of the last Westerners actually to have seen
the founder of the Turkish Republic).
Not all of Lewis’s views have been accepted. How democracy is implemented
is critical to him: unlike much of the Administration, he believes that
free elections should be the culmination of the reform process, rather
than the starting point (as shown by the ballots in Egypt and Palestine
that have strengthened anti-democratic Islamists). Democracy, he contends,
needs to be introduced “like an antibiotic — drip-drip, or else it kills
But as he enters his tenth decade, Lewis is most alarmed not by the
world — where he detects signs of hope — but by what is happening in the
EU and specifically in his native land. “The very composition of society
is at stake,” he warned me. “The rate of immigration from parts of the
Muslim world is altering the way in which society is run. And the Muslim
populations of the EU, many of whom started out as quite moderate in their
native lands, seem to be indoctrinated by some of the worst elements of
their own co-religionists. Central to this is the oil money of Saudi
Arabia, funding extreme Wahhabite doctrines.”
If the Saudi-friendly house of Bush listens to this message, then Lewis’s
100th will be an even more joyous occasion than was his 90th.
Dean Godson is research director of the Policy Exchange think-tank
MONDAY through FRIDAY, May 1 through 5, 2006