Tuesday, September 20, 2005
# Posted 12:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
The headline guest on tomorrow night's show will be none other than Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice. FYI, you can also listen to the show as a podcast. (See instructions on the S2D homepage.)
All three OxBloggers have been guests on Shaun's show and enjoyed it tremendously. So check it out! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:54 AM by Patrick Belton
Bloggers from left to right are agreed that the New York Times's decision to fence off its op-eds from free public consumption, and debate, represents - to put it precisely - A Bad Thing. But then came Amygdala, and all was light. Gary Farber purports to have found a rather straightforward hack, or workaround, or other miscellaneous miscreancy to permit us to continue to read each day, say, our daily Krugman and Friedman. (That sound you're hearing is the roar of enthusiasm from these quarters.) He also suspects, in whispered tones, that some member of staff or broader level of Nice Grey Auntie might have made this so simple on purpose.
Devious buggers, restricting public debate to those who can pay and those who can hack? Has the Straussian conspiracy reached yet so far?
Nah. At least, that's what they told me to say. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, September 19, 2005
# Posted 6:51 PM by Patrick Belton
Another Brit pundit, and OxBlog knockoff, making white-gloved debut in the blogosphere as a result of the Conservative leadership race is Dr Liam Fox's FoxBlog; though personally, in the 'imitation, flattery, &c department,' and this despite my tendency to support baseball underdogs and sport teams hailing from Gotham, I must confess a certain lingering fondness for SoxBlog. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:09 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 4:45 AM by Patrick Belton
Sunday, September 18, 2005
# Posted 10:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 10:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Although I think there's no way Condi will run, I think that kind of result says a tremendous amount about her public image as smart, tough and dignified. In a word: presidential. Or in 2008, perhaps vice-presidential. (Hat tip: MS via TMV) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:02 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
But the slogan displayed on the right is pure nonsense. It is a contradiction in terms. If only intolerance is wrong, than how dare we not tolerate it! Although there has long been a shortage of moral clarity on America's campuses, it shouldn't be hard to say "We will not tolerate racism. Racism is wrong. Period." (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Whereas Friday's coverage quoted Ahmadinejad extensively while ignoring his critics, today's includes mostly paraphrased remarks by the Iranian president, followed by commentary from Western diplomats that makes Ahmadinejad look either foolish or belligerent. For example:
In a defiant speech, peppered with anti-American rhetoric and veiled threats, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told world leaders at the United Nations on Saturday that his country will never give up its nuclear enrichment program...Why the new spin from the WaPo? First of all, today's dispatch was by Dafna Linzer, Friday's by Glenn Kessler. If a single correspondent had turned around like that overnight, it would be very surprising.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, I don't think American journalists have clear standards for covering foreign leaders, especially from non-democratic nations. Sometimes their coverage is deferential for no apparent reason. At other times it is far more harsh and one-sided than the coverage to which an American politician would be subjected, presumably since foreign leaders have no constituency to speak up on their behalf.
The recent coverage of Ahmadinejad sort of reminds me of the coverage of Fidel Castro during the 1980s. Sometimes, Fidel would get quoted uncritically when talking about the importance of peace and of Reagan's threat to it. At other times, journalists would point out that Fidel ruled by force and habitually towed the Moscow party line.
To a certain extent, the treatment of foreign leaders serves as an implicit barometer of journalists' attitude toward American foreign policy. Since Ahmadinejad's remarks on Saturday were so belligerent that even the Europeans expressed considerable disappointment, it's not surprising that the WaPo's coverage of the Iranian president was less favorable.
Although the malleability of such coverage is frustrating, I think it is here to stay. Coverage of American politics is much more (but not fully) balanced because journalists have to persuade both liberal and conservative readers of their relative detachment. In contrast, audiences know less and care less about foreign leaders. Therefore, they aren't as demanding.
POSTSCRIPT: It is also worth comparing the NYT's coverage of Ahmadinejad from Friday as opposed to today. The contrast isn't as stark as in the WaPo, but you can clearly see a more critical turn after the Iranian president's confrontational speech to the UN. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:08 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:54 PM by Patrick Belton
But far more interesting are the other sorts of coalitions which might result. My personal favourites: the 'Jamaica Coalition', consisting of the CDU (black), the free-market FDP (yellow) and the Green Party (erm, green). And the 'Stoplight Coalition', consisting of the (red) SPD, the (yellow) FDP and the (erm, still green) Greens.
Each poll, incidentally, at around 20 percent. Nation of aesthetes, those Germans. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:13 PM by Patrick Belton
In political terms, the present election marks a tilting of Karzai in a bid for autonomy against the advice of the army of UN administrators and foreign diplomats sent to administer in his capital; it was against their advice that he urged adoption of a Single Non-Transferrable Vote voting rule and a electoral system likely to result in a larger number of small party factions in the lower house grouped into shifting coalitions; this rather than voting rules predicted to generate a smaller number of larger factions. This, in short, was Karzai's gamble - that he could manage relations with a fractured and dynamic parliament better than one with a strong majority ending up in hands of his political opponents. A second highwire wager is also playing out, this one in which Karzai preferred his own political instincts to those of the bureaucrats in permitting the registration of a number of warlords and their proxies as candidates: Karzai's bet here is better to engage the warlords and bring them into the political system, permitting the coalescing of spaces of political opposition around groupings within the parliament, than permit them to continue outside the system where the contestation will be solely military. Time will tell if his bets pay out, but he deserves praise for the courage to trust to his own political instincts, rather than govern as the client of the UN's proconsuls.
And Afghan newspapers get even longer than their German colleagues to prognosticate upon the likely result: vote counting begins officially on the 20th September, with provisional results expected in sixteen days. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 4:11 PM by Patrick Belton
A Fistful of Euros regretfully see knives out for Angela Merkel, as having disappointed worse than Stoiber last time around; and chances high for an Ampel coalition with Schröder as head, since many in the CDU would like both the goodies of (a) being in government for the next four years and (b) having the politically inexpert Schröder to run against then.
Long Sunday calls this election a victory for the left-coalition Linkspartei, the 'unlikely alliance of elderly Communist grannies and hirsute left-wing activists', and predicts their rise as the third quantum in German politics, to displace the Greens.
PeakTalk, who disturbingly seems to have the view from my lavatory window displayed prominently on his blog, feels similarly about the negative consequences of a grand coalition for U.S.-German relations, economic reform within Germany, or a decisive German voice in the development of the EU or relations with the U.S. He also notes an aggregate shift to the left in the vote (adding together the SPD, Green, and Linkspartei totals, who collectively receive more than they did last time), and says that tonight the German electorate went Dutch: both major parties suffer as a result of voter satisfaction, and marginal parties pick up the scraps in protest voting.
Pej reiterates that Merkel snatched defeat from the jaws of victory; which is perhaps to say, pulled a Kerry. And, come to think of it, a Gore.
And the Moderate Voice is blaming Angela's talk of a flat tax for turning the tide against her, and setting the stage for Schröder's Rocky-like come from behind from the televised debate onwards.
I rather suspect there will be more to slot in here shortly. Hopefully, in English. A fortnight in German-speaking Switzerland has not made me fluent, but rather made me realise just what wonderful and intelligible things French and Italian are. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:57 PM by Patrick Belton
The latest development: in elections where both parties dropped off considerably from their result the last time, Merkel's CDU bests Schröder's SDU, though neither gets a majority in the Bundestag and the latter insists, perversely, that he remain chancellor. Dishearteningly, a coalition of some sort seems most likely, though hopefully Germany can avoid a 'grand coalition' in name only of the CDU and SDU, which would be incapable of any decisive action and would be bad for Germany, bad for the EU, and bad for the world.
Also, the Social Democrats remain the strongest party in the Ostländer, demonstrating perhaps that even one decade and a half after reunification and an Ossi running as the CDU's champion, Germany still has not got a national politics.
The night's real winners? Obviously, Der Spiegel. Second, the pro-market FDP which posts gains of 2.6-.7 per cent to 10%, and the Linkspartei (a left leaning coalition between the PDS and renegade SPD), which gains 4.6-.7 over their preceding vote share to 8.6-.7 per cent. The Green (or Grünen, to be pretentious) party have done reasonably well, holding on to all but .4-.5 of their vote share in the last elections with 8.1-.2 per cent of the vote. Schröder's SPD lose 4.3-.4 per cent from last time, down to 34.1-.2 per cent of the vote; and Merkel's CDU/CSU coalition come down 3.3-.5 to 35.0-.5 per cent.
The real losers are undoubtedly Merkel (see above), but also Schröder, who even if he holds on to the chancellorship, manages to seem obstinate and angry in postpoll interviewing by insisting he remain chancellor as the candidate most capable of forming a majority coalition, and gloating the voters denied a mandate to Merkel while ignoring that they denied one equally to him. Sadly, he may actually be right if the Forsa Institute's projections hold up: that public opinion research firm projects the CDU/CSU's slightly larger vote share actually translating into marginally fewer seats, 220 versus 223 for the SPD. But the point isn't yet clear: at bedtime, Der Spiegel's projections had shifted to a 222-222 match between the two parties, the CDU/CSU still edging slightly higher than the SDP in the vote count. UPDATE: current provo results break with the CDU/CSU having 225 seats to the SPD's 222, with smaller parties Free Democrats at 61, Left Party 54, and Greens 51.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:42 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:56 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 11:08 AM by Patrick Belton
Friday, September 16, 2005
# Posted 8:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Take a look at the article about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on page A26 of this morning's WaPo. The article is basically a summary of Ahmadinejad's press conference in New York. Even when he says things that are fairly absurd or insulting, you don't get a counterpoint from any of his critics, domestic or foreign.
Why is that? To some degree, I think that when you are a charter member of the Axis of Evil, journalists assume that no one will believe anything you say, so why take up space with a counterpoint?
The second reason is that Ahmadinejad himself is the implicit counterpoint to what we generally hear from the White House. He can say things like the United States "should not humiliate others, should not consider itself superior to others" because journalists possibly assume that their readers are already familiar with the opposing point of view.
What's interesting is that certain American politicians also benefit from this sort of treatment. If you turn to page C1 of this morning's Post, you can read about Rep. John Lewis' (D-GA) argument that John Roberts isn't fully aware of just how much blacks suffered as a result of Jim Crow. There are actually two brief quotes from Roberts supporters, but the article is 95% Lewis.
In this instance, you obviously can't say that readers will know not to trust what Lewis says. To the contrary, his status as a "civil rights icon" ensures that his argument will carry the presumption of truth. Yet since Roberts' confirmation is now pretty much beyond question, I think that perspectives such as Lewis have become implicit counterpoints, since the argument for Roberts is so well known.
Although Lewis comes pretty close to saying that white conservatives can't possibly be fair to black people, I don't care so much about the lack of balance there because the Roberts issue has already been decided. Plus, there are always lower standards for the 'C' section, even though its contents are often the same as the hard news in 'A'.
But I think it is profoundly irresponsible to give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a free pass. The issue here isn't whether his cheapshots at the United States go unanswered. That's irrelevant. But any article about the Iranian government should also let us know about the ongoing efforts of the Iranian opposition to stop rampant human rights violations in Iran and bring down the clerical dictatorship. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 5:50 AM by Patrick Belton
Warm welcomes to the blogosphere, Vikram and Arun! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:18 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
Warn that we're on the brink of failure, but it's too soon to give up. But they've been saying that for over a year now, and that can't be right. We can't perpetually be on the brink of failure. Calls to take one last stab at changing the course would have more credibility if I felt the callers would ever concede that, if the course isn't changed, it's time to start cutting our losses.Naturally, OxBlog is inclined to speculate that if such prophecies of doom have failed to come true, perhaps things in Iraq aren't going as badly as the withdrawal advocates suggest. After all, long after Joe Biden pronounced us to be on the brink of failure in mid-2004, there have been purple-fingered elections, followed by the formation of a coaltion government, followed by the writing of a constitution.
On the contrary, Matt suggests that that Biden & Co.'s misguided prophecies of doom indicate that the manifest failure of the occupation was obvious long ago, but that the Dems just can't admit it. Why not? In an earlier post, Matt rejects John Judis' argument that the GOP has intimidated the Dems into cowardly incoherence. Instead, he argues that because so many of the Dems initially supported the invasion, they are loath to support a withdrawal that will make their initial support for the war look foolish.
I disagree. I think it would be very easy for most Democratic pols and pundits to say the invasion was right, but now we know there's no WMD, so it's time to go home. After all, that's what the liberal grassroots wants to hear.
I think the difference between the pols and the grassroots is that the latter has no visible concern about what will happen in Iraq if we pull out. A full scale civil war? Another failed state serving as a base for Al Qaeda? I think the pols and pundits are much more attuned to the fact that they will have to take the blame for whatever happens in Iraq if they begin a successful push to force an American withdrawal.
In the final analysis, I regret that Democrats such as Biden have pursued a line of argumentation that Matt has so ably eviscerated. But I disagree with Matt's contention that the absurdity of such Dems' rhetoric indicates that their resistance to a withdrawal is also absurd. Biden & Co. have simply overplayed their sky-is-falling card because they have a partisan incentive to do so. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 2:52 AM by Ariel David Adesnik
The bottom line here is that gay soldiers in no way undermine the cohesion of the units in which they serve. If anything, the lengths to which they go to fight and die for their country despite being treated as a second-class citizens demonstrate just why they are such valuable members of the armed forces.
As with gay marriage, I think that the open acceptance of gays in the military is only a matter of time. Kevin predicts, however, that Bush will appoint a "fire breathing social conservative" to replace Justice O'Connor in order to placate the party's base.
Perhaps, but if I were Bush I would just look for another super-smooth John Roberts type who would make the Democrats squirm with his invulnerability, then vote reliably with Thomas and Scalia. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Thursday, September 15, 2005
# Posted 1:46 PM by Patrick Belton
And staying briefly within the world of Gaelblaganna, go raibh míle maith ag An timeall for generously providing what I suspect is this blog's first mention ever in an Irish-language podcast. Nár lagaí Dia do lámh! (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 11:36 AM by Patrick Belton
a country in which no women have the vote and few are employed outside the home. A country in which, through conviction or social pressure most people attend religious gatherings once a week, in which the state religion and the law ban homosexuality, where there are powerful religious movements urging abstinence from alcohol, where it is normal for women over 30 to wear black and where they only appear in public if their bodies are completely covered, in which married women have only recently acquired property rights, and there is a strong social stigma against divorce, illegitimacy and sex outside marriage.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:51 AM by Patrick Belton
Patrick,(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:46 AM by Patrick Belton
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
# Posted 6:57 PM by Patrick Belton
Pregame commentators mostly are complimenting lefties for their courage in taking on righties, or dwelling on the astonishing fact both debaters this evening are Brits. They're also quite chuffed that the Beeb are plugging into their sound board.
We're told the aphoristic and witty title of the debate is The 2003 War in Iraq: Was it just and necessary? Amy Goodman of Democracy Now is moderator; sponsoring organisations include an ideologically broad-based coalition of The New Press, International Socialist Review, Nation Books, the National Conference of Arab-Americans, and the Centre for Economic Research and Social Change.
7:07 pm: All my new friends have just gone away. The feed seems to be down, possibly because of bandwidth, which I throw out as an explanation because I once heard someone refer to bandwidth in a similar situation and it sounded very convincing.
7:11 They're back. They're mostly talking about how lefties need to take advantage of Hurricane Katrina. Because if they don't, no one will notice that the administration massively flubbed the relief effort. Also some grousing about how Hitch is writing for the NY Post, because the pay there is better than at the Nation.
7:13 Real live Brits are here! And they're from the BBC and everything.
Otis from the BBC obliges by going online and saying 'queue.'
7:17 They run the tape of the Paxman v Galloway post-election interview. Presumably this is meant to serve as one of the minor bouts preceding the main events. Maybe Paxman will surprise us by appearing during the tag-team bit of the fight?
They all agree that Paxman is a very, very bad man.
7:20 Shaking their heads, my new friends lament that they had to install metal detectors to screen the audience, after looking at real life right wing websites and finding that they were encouraging their readers to come. Probably that whole second-amendment thing, you know.
7:23 Military recruiters are preying on our colleges and communities. They're all harassing and preying on high school students, and harassing and preying on immigrants by trying to give them jobs and free educations! Metal detectors will also cunningly keep out military recruiters.
7:29 The start is being delayed, mostly by resources needed to kill poor ugly underbellies being diverted to kill Iraqis instead. It's possible the feed is missing a word here and there.
7:35 The pregame announcer's voice and cadences sound faintly familiar, particularly her tendency to make repeated use of first and last names. I expect her at any minute to inform us that 'George Galloway served his country as a soldier and is ready to serve his country now. For more on George Galloway, go to George Galloway's website at www.johnkerry.com.'
7:37 Amy Goodman makes a joke. My new friends briefly stop plugging www.stopthewar.com and journeyradio.org, streaming all over the world, the known world, to gloat at how Goodman is a great comedian. They then briefly make jokes about Christopher Hitchens's mum, in keeping with the whole theme of the evening as far too rare an instance of high-level, heady modern renditions of classical debate style. A winking comment about who do you think inspires the heavy security, the fans of George Galloway or the fans of Christopher Hitchens? Obligatory references to Rupert Murdoch, New York Post, diamond-studded boxers, boo.
7:41 And they're off! Brilliant and witty laugh lines by the introducing speaker include the fact someone in the audience is named 'Ms Wrigley Field', but she's never been there. Ha ha h.
7:45 Hitch opens by calling for a moment of respect for the 216 people sadistically murdered by terrorists in Baghdad this morning. A few warm-up jokes including a nostalgic reference to his misspent Trotskyite youth. If anti-war counsel over the past decade and a half had been listened to, Saddam Hussein would be owner and occupier of Kuwait, in meantime, Slobo would've made Bosnia part of greater Serbia and annexed and cleansed Kosovo, the Taliban would still be hosting Al Qa'eda in Afghanistan, Saddam would still be ruling over a concentration state above ground and a mass grave below it. Advances international legal argument that states lose sovereignty by violating its neighbours', fooling around promiscuously with weapons of mass destruction, violating the genocide convention, or playing host to international gangsters, nihilists, or jihadists. An imploded state would have made things worse, and then Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia would have intervened. In fact, all these three powers are trying to meddle, but we're fortunate that there's a coalition there to hold the ring and prevent it from being another Rwanda or Congo. On these main points, it seems to me there's very little room for debate. (applause) Oh, thank you. (he says, doing his best to sound delightedly surprised that someone out there likes him).
7:53 Saddam will follow Slobo and Pinochet into the dock quite soon; I know there are some people here who don't take delight in this, but I'll say that I do. A federal democratic constitution is being debated now on six television channels and perhaps as many as a hundred newspapers in a country whree three years ago it was death, not only for you but your family, and not a quick one either, to attempt to distribute a leaflet or own a satellite dish. The largest stateless minority in the Middle East, the people of Kurdistan, have begun to scramble to their feet to assume something like their full height as a people. Slows speaking pace dramatically to describe chemical wounds of Kurdish women, which burn for years. Speeds up to point out this is an extraordinary and unambiguous gain. Nukes-r-us joke. Notable that when Qadaffi wanted to capitulate he didn't go to Kofi, Chirac (who will quite happily pay for the privilege of selling himself), or Schroeder, he went to Blair and Bush.
7:58 I think it is worse than a disgrace that a member of Parliament goes before a committee of the United States Senate and declines to testify, and generally behaves badly. some jeers if you knew how you looked and sounded when you did that, comrades..... Not content with it, he turns up in Damascus - the man's search for a tyrannical fatherland never ends, Saddam has been overthrown and his criminal comnections with him have been exposed - to tell the Syrian people they're fortunate to have such a leader. Far beyond me, and I hope, ladies and gentlemen, far beyond you and far beneath your contempt.
8:01 Galloway steps into the ring: Slobbering was the note Mr Hitchens chose to end on, perhaps unwisely. 'Bring it on' from CH. Wants to begin by praising Mr Hitchens (long pause), made speech in mezoic age praising me for brave act in 1980 in twinning Dundee with Nablus. I didn't interrupt you so perhaps you won't slobber over my remarks. Oooh, Christopher Hitchens used to be a Trotskyite. Say anything but that....
8:04 GG: Hitchens was against first Iraq War. Bravely, fanatically, stood up to Charlton Heston and a President named Bush and other nasties. What you have witnessed here, ladies and gentlemen, is a first in natural history, the first ever metamorphosis from a butterfly back to a slug (applause, CH - Hitch, not Heston - says 'well done.') You are covered, Mr Hitchens, with the stuff you like to smear onto others. kinky. People like Cindy Sheehan. hey, this is a family blog.
8:08 People like Hitchens are content to fight to the last drop of other peoples' blood. (applause) Parliamentarians should have been wisely against American independence because the country one day would be ruled by Pat Robertson and John Ashcroft and didn't pick up dead bodies in New Orleans (because the few competent people there were trying too hard to find living ones). Galloway was for Irish independence. Hitchens was apparently in Bloomsbury and slobbering in opposition to it. Funny, neither of them looked quite that old. So he should also be for the right of the Iraqi people to be free and against the foreign people who invaded them. my God, this man should've been a logic professor. Fallujah! (crazed applause)
8:14 Oh how he wishes Hitch would put on a tin hat and go and fight. Then he wouldn't have to debate him No weapons of mass destruction. Hitchens and Bush and Cheney and neo-cons ooo put lots of young men in wheelchairs and morgues. There is scarcely a sentient human being on the planet who believes the war in Iraq was necessary or just or a good idea.
8:16 Our two countries are the biggest rogue states in the world today. um, hello? perspective? It is therefore vitally important that those who oppose the crimes of our governments link hands and rid the world of George W. Bush and Anthony Blair. but what about the neo-cons? will we still have to put up with neo-cons in wheelchairs?
8:17 Hitch's turn. Hitchens takes controversial stance in favour of Irish independence. whew. CH: Rhetorical trick, to hear Mr Galloway speak, you would think he was a pacifist, some sort of opponent of war. But standing next to Syria's president, Galloway referred to 145 heroic operations of Syrians every day against Iraq. These people are not pacifists, or anti-imperialists, but call for restoration of caliphate. (Syrians trying to restore the caliphate? Somebody call Juan Cole, we've got two middle east scholars here tonight...) Of course it's funny that the author of the Vagina Monologues puts George Galloway on tour with Jane Fonda. Calls Assad a human toothbrush (?) and George's new pal. Rebuts 100,000 deaths Lancet comment with reference to Kaplan in Slate. President Talabani isn't occupying Iraq, but is from Iraq and a member of a party which belongs to the Socialist International. We take, on this side of this House, without exception the side of the secular Iraqi left against neo-fascists and jihadists.
Amy Goodman calls for windscreens for microphones. I don't think it was a laugh-line.
8:27 George's turn. Do you think the editors of the Lancet and academics at Johns Hopkins are crazed fabricators? (Rhetorical mistake: gives Hitch supporters in crowd lots of chances to shout 'yes'.) Hitch used to be a Trotskyite!
8:29 Islamists are descending like spores of anthrax on the gaping wounds of Iraq caused by neo-cons oh no, anything but neo-cons! give us anthrax instead!
8:32 You may think that those two planes that attacked this city descended out of a clear blue sky. I think they came out of a sea of hatred created by us. oops, mistake. jeers. that line would've worked in England, though. Created by Sharon's crimes against the Palestinian people hmm, does George Galloway know anything about New York?
8:34 If you live next to a swamp, no amount of fly swats will protect you against things that come out of that swamp. You have to drain that swamp by getting rid of Mr Sharon's apartheid genocidal wall. None of these apartheid regimes would last for a minute unless propped up by the financial support of Rupert Murdoch.
He's really convincing them.
8:35 Hitch's turn. If anything ignited the hatred and violence of the Muslim world, the invasion and annexation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union and documented genocide of many Afghans is probably a better candidate than the holding of a free and fair election in Iraq. And if you're opposed to Sharon's wall, obviously the intuitive response is to fly planes into the Twin Towers, why didn't I think of that. May I notice, Mr Galloway, that you picked the wrong city to say that in. much applause and arguably the wrong month, as well, because some of us are still mourning. How dare you say that the Bush administration supports the Assad regime in Syria; we've succeeded, in concert on this one occasion with the French, in securing some measure of freedom for the Lebanese against the illegal occupation of Syria. I think you also say that these Islamist chaps wouldn't be this way if we weren't so mean to them. laughter I think that some of these people came to Iraq after we threw them out of Afghanistan. Obviously the answer is to leave them in control of Afghanistan; don't make them angry. This is masochism, and it's being offered you by a sadist.
8:41 George's turn. It's lies, lies, all lies. Read my book. Don't read his leaflets. He's an idiot. He's supporting more dictatorships than me.
8:42 I'll now recite the names of Bush administration members. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. Hey, you forgot to mention Vulfovitz! Exact quote from George: 'You were a butterfly but now you're a slug! Damn you and all your works!'
8:45 Second round: q&a, moderator having the questions. She asks Hitch where he would differ from Bush administration. Answer: it should have educated and enlightened, rather than scared, the public.
8:51moderator: and your response to Powell saying that his speech before the UNSC was a stain on his public record? Answer: I don't give a damn what Powell says about anything.
8:52 Moderator asks George if Saddam commited crimes. George: yes, mostly when the friend of the U.S. and Britain.
9:03 Shall I mention this man's friends! Haliburton! Robber capitalists! CH: grunted agreement a repeated, effective, trick in CH's rhetorical quiver
The most foreign fighters in Iraq are wearing British and American uniforms! Exclamation points a repeated, ineffective, trick in GG's
9:08 I'd like to thank Mr Galloway for providing us with a clear and unequivocal declaration of support for the terrorists who destroyed with explosion (&c) GG (repeated): Are there no depths to which you willl not sink? CH: You're shouting me down, so I can't answer the question. Are you unclear on the concept... .
CH: I don't think it's denied even by the egregious Professor Cole, who's never set foot in the region but claims to speak Arabic and Farsi, that the forces that favour the transition to a democratic government are favoured by the latent majority of the Iraqi people. I think it's a very eloquent campaign by Mr Galloway's friends to prevent the chances of elections; there is a liberation movement in Iraq, it fights on the side of the Kurds, and fights on our side; and thankfully we finally fight on its; shame on the people who call this [the insurgency] a liberation movement.
moderator: Katrina. What makes you think the U.S. is any better in Iraq than New Orleans?
CH: I would caution against making a zero-sum relationship between the two. More than enough soldiers to hand; but the president couldn't order troops into a state without the request of the governor; unless you want to invoke the Insurrection Act, which hasn't been invoked since the Civil War. GG has accused me of bordering on racism, which I consider opprobious and must ask him to withdraw. But I would have first to add, that for people to atttempt to score rhetorical points about people whose bodies haven't yet been identified yet, and to say they would be alive if our money weren't wasted on Arabs, that is an appeal to the most racist, base, and provincial mentality.
GG: Hmm. Repeat earlier line about 'mouthpiece and apologist for the miserable incompetents who can't even pick up bodies of their own citizens in New Orleans'. Bushes! 'You know, Hitchens, you're a court jester.' (His best line yet. Which says something.)
moderator: CH, as you change your views over time, do you feel the media is friendlier to you?
CH: Frankly, I think that's rather a waste of a question.
Both disputants agree (!) that this debate is running out of steam.
Concluding statements: GG's is attempted to be an impassionate close that the Iraq war is a blunder and CH a popinjay, but fails somewhat to build up the necessary steam. CH notes he still has solidarity with his left-secular comrades in Iraq; it is GG who has deserted his comrades because Michael Moore says so, or because someone has offered him some oil for food money, and he's not going to do it. (a hit, a palpable hit). He calls on audience to do something as true internationalists to help the secular leftists of the New Iraq build a civil society. Everyone then seems fairly happy that the debates's over. Not least me, as it's now 3:36 am where I am.
A concluding thought: This match-up proved perhaps slightly less satisfying than I'd hoped, partially because the two were playing rather different rhetorical games. There's a marked difference in the two contenders' rhetorical styles. Galloway's is more shouted, accustomed perhaps to a larger hall or a rally of party faithful. Hitch's is conversational and detached, and paired together in this environment, Hitchens's wins - it permits him to interject an occasional 'yes, of course' or 'please do, i'm waiting for it' in the midst of a slow-building shouted attack, thereby deflating it. Contests generally make more edifying viewing if the two sides are playing at the same sport. Still, as interesting as was the juxtaposition of Galloway's broguish union-hall rhetoric with Hitchens's drawled sophistication, Hitchens's ability to deflate Galloway's points, and his greater variety and command of argument, made it rather more one-sided a contest to my mind than I would have hoped it to have been. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:44 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 10:01 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 9:24 AM by Patrick Belton
Not all that surprisingly, really, the surname seems to have died out. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
# Posted 6:49 PM by Patrick Belton
Arafat was murdered.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 6:42 PM by Patrick Belton
If only Yahoo had comparable stolidity in standing up to the government in Beijing. Yahoo provided the government with e-mail account information identifying journalist Shi Tao, of Contemporary Business News, which it used to convict Shi under state secrecy laws and sentence him to ten years in prison. Shi had sent notes by email on a government circular spelling out restrictions on the media; with Yahoo's help, the Chinese government was able to trace the email to Shi. (See Wired, Reporters without Frontiers). For once, their name as yahoos sounds remarkably apt, if generous. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 5:37 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 5:05 PM by Patrick Belton
Her thesis, in a nutshell: no more than during Central Asia's first chance at political change after the fall of the Soviet Union is there much likelihood now that the region will produce much democratic change during its second chance at political dynamism, in the present context of Western security engagement. The situation's somewhat better in Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan, more open to the recommendations of the international community, and in Tajikistan, after its bloody civil war in which 60,000 died; but Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan appeal to the specificity of their national cultures to reject international suasion. U.S. security engagement has served as public demonstration of Russian power in retreat; after years of blustering warning Washington not to reach too deep into its backyard, Moscow gulped and quietly accepted being eclipsed by the United States in areas it had long strategically dominated. But though the United States shows no sign of leaving the region any time soon, nor has it made long-term commitments or binding security guarantees to any states in the region (though its present arrangements on bases and landing rights, on the other hand, give Washington maximum strategic flexibility). States continue to regard their own people as their principal threats, shortly followed by their neighbours, with institutions and initiatives toward regional economic or security integration sputtering to their own halts. A correctly reconstructed Afghanistan would provide a regional jump-start, creating transit corridors to Pakistani ports and the Indian oil and gas market; but for the foreseable future, Afghanistan remains a source of drugs, not jobs, for Central Asia. Not all the blame, actually, is America's. A fish rots from the head down, and Central Asia's leaders have shown little appetite for either economic or political reform. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 3:57 PM by Patrick Belton
I call the attention of readers to sample letters of protest to the Iranian government drafted by RSF and PEN. The first is suitable for nations without diplomatic relations with the Iranian government; the second for nations such as Britain, Canada, Ireland and Australia which accredit Iranian ambassadors.
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 12:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
# Posted 11:47 AM by Patrick Belton
Amidst his Rockian training regimen of jogging the steps of the midtown Public Library while tossing off bon mots to his left and right, Hitch is talking smack beautifully, and in canonical WWF fashion, in today's Slate. Professional wrestling depends upon a dashing and vaguely admirable bad guy, and I'd like to nominate Gorgeous George for the role - you can almost see him oiling his moustache in the changing room, dressed in a smoking jacket and drawling witticisms like a Bondian villain, only far more fluent and oleaginous.
It really doesn't get much better than this. It really doesn't. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:48 AM by Patrick Belton
In London, one of our correspondents was queued for hours last night for petrol amidst panic purchasing harkened by a hurricane storm of emails and text messages betokening instant exhaustion of the British, if not quite yet global, petrol supply. Panic buying has been reported nationwide by the Cumbrian News & Star, the Norwich Evening News, and in the Brummie press. There have been calls for the Chancellor to cut duties on fuel (Mr Brown has already deferred an inflationary 1.22p litre rise, due in next spring's budget, for six months); the Treasury is almost certain to reject these calls and instead plead for Opec to be more open about their reserves in order to stabilise prices. (In Britain up to 80p in every £1 spent on fuel goes to the Treasury in the form of VAT or other taxes.) (As far as why I'm terribly bothered by all this, being in a Swiss alpine scriptorium, I suppose that having had a breakfast that included an odd chemical substance known as marmite as well as a daily tea intake exceeding three pots a day makes me at present more of a Pom than a not-Pom, see below. If David felt the same way, we could be a pair of pom poms, which would be by far an excess of ps for this post.)
More interesting are calls from motorist organisations to introduce a variable tax, responsive to the market oil price; the Lib Dems call for scrapping fuel duty altogether, in favour of a system of road user pricing based on location, location, and location. (Oh bugger, that's the real estate market. I meant location, congestion, and vehicular emissions.) Noted environmentalist and chair of the PM's Sustainable Development Commission Jonathan Porritt debated Chatham House chair DeAnne Julius, an oil economist, this morning on Radio 4's Today Programme. Porritt was quite enthusiastic that high petrol prices might betoken a broader secular shift toward greater consumer fuel efficiency. Rather than seeing radical revisions in the structure of the petrol market or user habits, though, my guess is to look for all this to blow over instead: in the world market, prices are already showing signs of stabilisation after the Katrina hurricane, and at the pump they'll be shortly back down to their ordinarily high level, instead. (See AP, Forbes; but contra, see Bloomberg quoting DuPont analysts on their expectation that crude oil, natural gas, and petroleum will remain close to their record levels for the foreseeable future.)
Readers knowing more about the oil market and energy policy than me, which isn't hard, are very welcome to write in and contribute their perspectives. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:17 AM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 8:14 AM by Patrick Belton
See also, in a somewhat more liberal spirit, the Minister for Justice's statement that true republicans must do more to reach out to the unionist community, and that a new vision of Ireland must recognise and respect the tricolour's orange panel. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Monday, September 12, 2005
# Posted 10:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
There is nothing patriotic about hating your country or pretending that you can love your country but despise your Government.Who said that? Bill Clinton of course. It's from his commencent address at Michigan State in 1995. I haven't doctored the quote or anything like that, but in order to fully understand it you have to know that Clinton was speaking out against right-wing militias in the aftermath of the Oklahoma city bombing.
Thus, when Clinton says "despise" he means "despise to the point where you consider violence legitimate". Nonetheless, Clinton's choice of words was somewhat unusual, since the First Amendment obviously gives us the right to despise our government as vocally as we so choose.
In hindsight, the most significant aspect of Clinton's address is not this strange quote about patriotism, but rather the following declaration by the President:
I have insisted that Congress pass strong antiterrorism legislation immediately, to provide for more than 1,000 new law enforcement personnel solely to fight terrorism, to create a domestic antiterrorism center, to make available the most up-to-date technology to trace the source of any bomb that goes off, and to provide tough new punishment for carrying stolen explosives, selling those explosives for use in a violent crime, and for attacking members of the uniformed services or Federal workers.In the aftermath of September 11th, it's hard to know what to make of this kind of ambitious commitment. According to Blind Spot, a superb book about terrorism by historian Tim Naftali, the Clinton administration did a fairly good job of strengthening America's defense against terrorists attacks.
Even so, Clinton's foremost experts on terrorism (including Richard Clarke) had no idea of what Bin Laden was planning. Mind you, Naftali is no friend of the GOP, so his criticism of Clarke et al. can't be dismissed as partisan.
Finally, a hat tip to Hillary for mentioning Bill's strange quote about patriotism on page 296 of her memoir. (Not that she thought there was anything strange about it.) (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 9:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
In order to improve upon my basic ignorance about the candidates for mayor, I decided to attend a party this evening held on behalf of Adrian Fenty, the 34 year-old council member/wunderkind who is gunning for the Democratic nomination. If only because of the open bar, I have to consider the evening a success.
When it comes to substance, it's a little bit hard to figure what Fenty stands for. He did give a speech that lasted about ten minutes, eight minutes of which consisted of statements so bland and inoffensive that a bright red Republican could've given exactly the same speech without hesitation.
Far and away, the issue that got the most attention from Fenty was education. He said that he wants to make sure that DC has the best public school system in America and that you shouldn't listen to the skeptics who say it can't be done.
It's hard to disagree with that. But as one of my friends (who has experience teaching in inner city schools) pointed out, the mayor controls neither the school board, the superintendant nor the education budget. So exactly how Fenty will fix the schools remains a mystery.
The issue that made Fenty sound like an old-school, LBJ Democrat was inequality. While acknowledging that DC has made tremendous strides over the past decade, Fenty said that it was time for everyone to share in that prosperity. In terms of equality, the most important item on Fenty's agenda is affordable housing.
In terms of policy, I'm not sure what that means. Fenty has said that he will release a detailed policy proposal by the end of this month. However, in political code, "affordable housing" means protecting DC residents from gentrification. In other words, "affordable housing" is about resisting precisely those market forces that have done so much to transform DC from one of the worst cities in the nation to one of the best.
Now I'm not saying that gentrification is a non-issue. It is unfortunate when long-time residents are forced out of their neighborhoods by ever-rising rents. On the other hand, gentrification has also enabled lower-middle class, mostly black homeowners to make hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling their homes to (mostly) white yuppies.
Frankly, what I'd like to hear a candidate say is that he will make the market work for both the most established residents as well as the newcomers. Before gentrification started, there wasn't much of a pie to distribute. But now that the pie is growing, the best way to spread the wealth is to keep it growing. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 7:36 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 7:27 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:25 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 6:23 PM by Patrick Belton
# Posted 2:34 PM by Patrick Belton
NYT has a transcript of his opening statement, for those of you who don't like to watch. The money bits, promising judicial humility and an open mind before legal argumentation: 'Mr. Chairman, I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes. I have no agenda but I do have a commitment. If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind. I will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented. I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench. And I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability. And I'll remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not pitch or bat.'
I'm looking forward to reading what Tom Goldstein says about the ensuing hearings over at SCOTUSBlog; I haven't been able to open it, but that's possibly just because other brilliant souls had the same idea. [UPDATE: It's working now. Guess all those 0s and 1s just had to climb the mountain.] (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:26 AM by Patrick Belton
More than that, though, he had the lover's quarrel with the natural world which bemarks the best of physicists, and poets. In a newspaper interview in 2003, Bahcall described the universe as 'unattractive, implausible, crazy, but beautiful.' The light of G_d is the soul of man, says the Shiva ceremony. The light which burned in Bahcall, curious and amiable lover of nature, spread beyond him to an entire scientific community, and world. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:29 AM by Patrick Belton
In honour of the Australia side and in recognition of the great Aussie sense of humour, for our part we could do worse in tribute than recycle one of the internet's great forwards, as funny as it is undoubtedly apocryphal:
The questions below are from potential visitors to Australia. They were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a sense of humour, &c., &c., okay, you get the idea.....
Getting back to the title of this post, for historical trivia points, the term 'poms' comes from 'pomegranate', which was at some point thought to rhyme with 'immigrant' by someone who hadn't quite mastered the rules of Cockney rhyming slang, but gets splendid points for trying. Points also to the government of New Zealand for managing to include the phrase "Pommy bastards" on a government website.
Finally, if you were misled by the title, were annoyed by all this cricket, and still want to listen to the Last Night of Proms instead, you can hear Saturday's Last Night broadcast on the Radio 3 website here. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 8:00 AM by Patrick Belton
She has equally harsh criticism for the media:
I heard Soledad O'Brien say something about the still unrecognized need to address the psychological trauma. I sent a response to the CNN tip-line that there were hordes of every manner of mental health professional working 24/7. CNN's response? Dr. Phil and the stories of the survivors" on Larry King. They went to the guy who lost his clinical license for serious professional infractions [ed: q.v.] to tell the stories? I could see the "entertainer" down there gathering tales of the already exploited so that he and Larry could both pimp their ratings. The real unsung mental health heroes, the counselors, psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists dealing with un-medicated psychosis and severe traumatic responses were represented by Dr. "Keep-It-Real"? We don't need tabloid help from the media.(0) opinions -- Add your opinion
Sunday, September 11, 2005
# Posted 11:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
This morning, while bringing my bed over to my new apartment, I put a small dent in the side of the cargo van I was driving. In most instances, this wouldn't matter because of my insurance. But when I called up my insurance company to tell them what happened, they read me back some fine print of which I wasn't aware and which indicated that I was entitled to coverage for rental cars but not for rental vans.
Coming at the end of a two-week period in which I totaled my car and was assaulted by a stranger, this was the last thing I needed to happen to me. I no longer have a graduate stipend to live on and still don't have a job, so I'm short on funds and therefore find myself asking my parents for much more help than I'd prefer.
When I returned the van to the rental office, I tried to make myself sound sympathetic. The young woman who listened to my plea was remarkably helpful. Sensing my distress, she let slide the two gallons of gas that I had forgotten to put back in the tank. Then, while she was filling out some paperwork, a colleague of hers asked if she had called her family. She said she hadn't, since you can't get through "down there".
A minute later, I asked her if her family had been affected by Katrina. They had, and by the worst of it. She grew up and they live in Bay St. Louis, MI, half way between Biloxi and New Orleans. And some of her family didn't even have flood insurance. And to top that off, her mother is the head nurse (or administrator, I can't remember which) at an emergency room in a hospital hit by the storm.
And to think I was worried about my dent.
Now that isn't a story about September 11th, but the lesson is the same. Until directly confronted by a tragedy of epic proportions, it is extraordinarily hard to place one's own situation in perspective. I can't say that I'm glad that I had to learn that lesson again today, but it's better than nothing. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion
# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
When you read a book by an (undeclared) candidate for President, you have to lower your expectations. You have to prepare yourself for the faux candor, the boring anecdotes and a one-sided account of just about everything. In fact, you can write an entire book review that focuses entirely on those shortcomings. But someone has already done that, so I'm going to have to write about something else.
My review begins with a question: Given the inevitable restraints on the candor of a White House hopeful, what would the ideal campaign trail memoir consist of? Although one-sidedness is not considered a virtue among scholars, the measure of a good trial lawyer is to present a narrative so compelling that its one-sidedness becomes irrelevant. By the same token, a campaign trail memoir should craft the candidate's life experiences into a compelling demonstration of the candidate's ideology and program of government.
Think of it this way: Candidates for public office often rely on a handful of soundbites and slogans to win over the electorate. If given three, four, or five hundred pages to make the case for themselves, the candidate should be far more persuasive. In spite of conservative predictions to the contrary, Hillary's memoir has sold over a million copies. Never again will she have the chance to make her case in such great detail.
So, does Hillary succeed? Although I won't pass final judgment until I've finished the book, my sense so far is that Hillary has failed. While reading the (Bill) Clinton bio, First in His Class, the funadmental question I asked was what Clinton stood for. Or more broadly, what does it mean to be liberal or Democratic? That book's focus on Clinton's personality made it hard to assess his ideas-- which is precisely why I was hoping that a book written by a Clinton would be informative on that count.
Sadly, Living History isn't. To some degree, you can chalk that up to the ghost writers. But for the sake of argument, I'm going to assume that Hillary played a fairly significant editorial role in terms of deciding what this book was going to be about. If she had a clear set of ideas about the purpose of government, I think it would've found its way into the book.
One thing I can say with a fair degree of confidence is that Hillary certainly doesn't want anyone to think of her as a liberal now days. In the first three hundred pages of the book, she never uses the 'l'-word to describe herself, her husband or any of their policies. If you look in the index, there are no entries for 'liberal' or 'progressive' or anything similar.
In contrast, there are a good number of entries for 'conservative' and an extraordinary number of entries for 'right wing', which is Hillary's preferred way of describing her opponents. I find this contrast especially interesting since Hillary herself was once a passionate Republican. More than just a rank-and-file voter, Hillary was a self-described Goldwater Girl and president of the Wellesley College Young Republicans.
Then, within the space of just over a year, Hillary travelled all the way across the political spectrum to become a left-wing Democrat who went up to New Hampshire "to stuff envelopes and walk precints" for Gene McCarthy. This dramatic evolution should have provided Hillary-as-author with the perfect vehicle for describing why she is Democrat and what the party stands for.
Instead, Hillary provides a one-paragraph explanation. In college, she started reading the New York Times, "much to [her] father's consternation". In addition, her political science professors pushed her to "examine [her] own preconceptions just when current events provided more than enough material".
At minimum, this account is certainly plausible. Hillary certain wasn't the first young Republican converted by liberal professors and a liberal newspaper. But the real question is how. What are the arguments and ideas that Hillary found so persuasive? If she herself was converted, shouldn't she now be able to serve as a winning evangelist?
With regard to specifics, Hillary writes that "during [her] freshman year, [her] doubts about the [Republican] party and its policies were growing, particularly when it came to civil rights and the Vietnam War." If I were a Republican in 1968, I would've noticed that southern Democrats were the most vicious opponents of civil rights and that a Democratic president was responsible for the quagmire in Vietnam. On the other hand, left-wing Democrats were at the forefront of both the civil rights and anti-war movements, while Republicans weren't. The question, then, is why the latter fact was more important to Hillary than the former.
Unfortunately, we don't find out. In fact, we don't even get much sense of why Hillary opposed the war in Vietnam, which she describes as unconscionable and unwinnable. Given the formative impact of the war on both young Hillary Clinton and on the Democratic party as a whole, you would hope that Hillary would go into greater detail. But she doesn't, even though one of the most important challenges facing the Democratic party today is to apply the lessons of Vietnam to the situation in Iraq.
If I may be allowed to speculate, I might suggest that the Democratic party is so divided on the subject of national security precisely because it has never come to terms with the legacy of Vietnam. On the one hand, it is determined to avoid any more quagmires. On the other hand, it is just as afraid of being branded as soft on national security.
Yet Living History is not much better when it comes to providing a Democratic platform for domestic policy. As a Goldwater Girl who read the Arizona senator's seminal work, The Conscience of a Conservative, Hillary probably had some fairly sophisticated thoughts about the importance of strong markets and limited government.
But where did they go? One might infer that Hillary's conversion to the McGovernite left (she worked for him in Texas in 1972, alongside Bill) entailed a wholesale conversion to the state-heavy social policies of the left, in addition to its stance on the war and civil rights. Although it might be a little embarrassing now for Hillary to explain exactly why she supported the McGovern economic agenda, you'd think that she could at least make the case for a more, moderate Clinton version of that agenda.
Perhaps she will in the final two hundred pages of the book. But I am already well past the part about Hillary's drive for national healthcare and there was little reflection there about the proper relationship between our markets, our society and our government.
So, in closing, one might ask what can fill five hundred pages of memoir if not a real discussion of the issues? Anecdotes, of course. (0) opinions -- Add your opinion