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#171617 - Sun May 11 2003 05:54 AM Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
Coolupway Offline
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Let me confess. I always used to mix her up with Margaret Atwood. After this, though, I don't think I will have trouble distinguishing between the two. I mean, dislike Seppos a bit if you're so inclined, but this is ridiculous!
click here to read article

(Edited to correct link)
Edited by Sue943 to correct page width


Edited by sue943 (Thu May 15 2003 10:46 AM)

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#171618 - Wed May 14 2003 12:09 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
chelseabelle Offline
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Why do you find her feelings ridiculous?

Truthfully, I agree with most of her sentiments and reactions.

In many ways America right now is not a role model for justice or for morality. I find the general tone in our country very disturbing. There is much talk of compassion but very little actually displayed. There is talk of freedom and democracy while civil liberties are being eroded and dissent is not welcomed. There is arrogance and gloating and little moral struggle or anguish about actual acts of killing--either in battle or in our death chambers.

I'm not anti-American, but I cannot embrace the attitudes of the Bush administration. Like Drabble, I also believe there is another America which is not being seen at the moment--an America which can truly lead by example and one which can merit envy without being despised for arrogance.

I just can't quibble with Drabble's remarks.

Why do you think she's daft?
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#171619 - Wed May 14 2003 07:52 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
Coolupway Offline
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Gee, CB, I didn't want to have this argument with YOU!

Where's kathak when we need him?

Drabble's view is, I would suggest, utopian and amnesiac. Fine to deride the US military now, with no nasty blitzkrieg going on over British heads. The US and its allies have long interposed themselves between western Europe and the threat of the moment -- be it German fascism, Russian Communism, or militant/militaristic Islam -- and this woman still sees fit to turn a hateful face to the Seppos. What's NATO-- an evil, imperialist venture? Come on. NATO IS the US. If we close down the shop, Europe will finally have to start spending its own money on its own defense. What's her take on Bosnia and Kosovo-- where the US stepped in to stop atrocities being inflicted ON Muslims BY Christians, in Europe's own back yard, as the purportedly more "moral" Eurostates stood by and did sweet (edited for language)?

Drabble has suggested that by building large towers the US somehow invited 9/11, and in the same article suggested that the cause of 9/11 was global income inequality
... a position so ridiculous that even Bin Laden himself never advanced it. (Bin Laden, that notorious victim of poverty, cited the fall of the Ottoman sultanate in the 1920's as his big grievance in his semi-coherent first statement after 9/11!).

As for the ominous infringement of civil liberties, this bogeyman seems to be all I hear about on various BBs on the 'net. And I will ask the question, as I have before: how have YOUR liberties been personally infringed since 9/11? The only one who's ever come up with a concrete answer to this question has been yours truly, as I now have to go through a metal detector in state court (had to for a long time before in Fed. Court). And I don't particularly care that I have to.

Edited by Sue943 for language


Edited by sue943 (Thu May 15 2003 10:49 AM)

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#171620 - Thu May 15 2003 06:02 AM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
chelseabelle Offline
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Cool, are we reading the same articles? I honestly don't see the things you are referring to.

I don't find Drabble's comments hateful at all. In fact I think she rather likes America in general. Her perceptions, and reactions, are clearly those of an artist and not a historian. She is not attempting to rigorously comment on the sweep of events in the last hundred years. Hers is a rather personal, impressionistic response to small details, nuances, and symbols of current reality coupled with memory fragments and associations from her past--exactly what one might expect from a novelist. These are her personal reflections and musings on things that impact her current awareness. I think she has to be read on her own terms and not held to anyone else's standard of what she should be thinking, or feeling, or taking into account.

I'm not sure I need concrete evidence of my own civil liberties being abridged in order to be distressed by certain actions and policies of the Ashcroft Justice Department, particularly since 9/11. The Patriot Act, and the subsequent legislation which continues to be passed (or is pending) clearly allows federal law enforcement to violate liberty and privacy rights with little accountability, answerability, or oversight by other branches of government. If we allow someone elses's civil liberties to be discounted or abridged, our own might be next. I'm not sure this thread is the place to go into it in greater detail, but I'm willing to meet you in the Big Brother thread in C.I. if you want to continue.

Why shouldn't you want to have this argument with ME? It's no fun tossing bricks unless there is someone on the other side of that political fence to yell, "Ouch".
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#171621 - Thu May 15 2003 06:24 AM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
snm Offline
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Here's what struck me about the second article: is she blaming Bush for inventing the term "friendly fire"? Because that's certainly how it seems...
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#171622 - Fri May 16 2003 01:41 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
chelseabelle Offline
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snm, I believe she is only commenting on the irony of the term "friendly fire", which is actually such a contradiction in terms that it becomes satirical. Yet we use the term as though killing each other and our friends is somehow different than having them die at the hands of an enemy. It's "just between friends", so to speak. Her comments on this score really have nothing to do with Bush as I read it. By extension in that same paragraph, however, she might be implying that a department of Homeland Security might have a darker, more totalitarian, side, which should make people feel less secure, and that "friendly fire" actually puts us in the ironic position of being the enemy. But Drabble's inclusion of these comments is in the context of citing other people's thinking, and her own, at that point, becomes somewhat fuzzy at best. I think she is just relishing the irony of a common military term.

Nowhere do I understand Drabble to be saying that we invited 9/11 by not paying attention to the larger global economy. I think she is simply saying that no matter how powerful we feel, no matter how economically comfortable we are, no matter how much we can achieve and display to the world, we are vulnerable. Our magnificent glass house skyscrapers can topple. Death can haunt us too. Not because we deserve it, but simply because these symbols of our might do not afford us any real protection no matter how much illusionary power they make us feel. And, once we feel that sense of no longer being safe, as we did after 9/11, it will remain forever. And we will have no more embroidery on planes.
I do not think that Drabble is saying that because we are such well fed fat cats, who might be uncaring about what the strays of the world have to eat, or what they don't have to eat, that we caused 9/11, but rather that self absorption has its perils because we may not see danger coming. I just think she is making a rather simplistic point that peace is never possible where envy and real inequality exist, and that sharing of resources might produce greater security than erecting these somewhat phallic structures as monuments to our concentrated economic power and strength.

As I said before, I think these articles reflect only the personal musings and reflections of a decidedly artistic consciousness and sensibility. She is not pretending to be a rigorous social commentator or historian in these particular articles and, had she made claim to those roles, she could reasonably be accused of lack of depth and perspective. She is essentially a novelist, and like all novelists, it is the symbolic details--like grinning cartoon faces on planes, or a tiny pair of embroidery scissors, or the magnificent yet fragile towers of glass--that impinge on her awareness, trigger her associations, make metaphors tangible, and enable her to articulate her perceptions back to a reader. But these do remain her perceptions and her associations. She gives images power, that is her gift, but she is not insisting we agree with her or share her perspective. She is merely letting us see how she weaves it all together, and I rather enjoyed that glimpse.
Perhaps if I were less inclined to share her basic attitudes, which, after all, do influence her perceptions (and mine), I might feel as you do, Coolupway. But, since I can feel a resonance with her, I'm able to make allowances for some of her obvious failings as a social historian and commentator and just enjoy her on her own terms, just as I might do when reading a novel. Our interpretations of reality are always embroidered in our minds by whatever personal lifelong experiences we bring to it, no matter how much we kid ourselves about our "objectivity"--Drabble is just being very upfront about that in terms of her own views and interpretations. She's an artist much more than a scholar. That's not exactly a crime.
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#171623 - Fri May 16 2003 03:04 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
snm Offline
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Well then cb, I gather your answer to Coolup's question (the title of the thread) would be "quite possibly"?
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#171624 - Fri May 16 2003 03:51 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
chelseabelle Offline
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No, actually snm, my reply to Cool's question would be, "Not at all".

She may be viewing events from a totally different vantage point than Cool, and some of her values might be somewhat utopian and idealistic, but that doesn't make the woman daft.
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#171625 - Fri May 16 2003 04:05 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
snm Offline
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Actually I was just trying to stir up the discussion a bit. Three people who usually more or less agree with each other doesn't make much of a debate, and the other threads seem a little dead lately.
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#171626 - Fri May 16 2003 05:19 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
chelseabelle Offline
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Actually Cool and I probably don't see eye to eye on most things, so there's plenty of room for debate. But now that he's smacked poor Maggie Drabble around a few times he seems content to be lurking elsewhere. I hate these posters who hit and run.
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#171627 - Fri May 16 2003 07:20 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
Coolupway Offline
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Guilty as charged, CB. I'll bash the NY Times a bit and then we can have some more fun. But what ever will I say about them? Hmmmm...

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#171628 - Fri May 16 2003 07:40 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
Bertho Offline
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*Just a sideline on the term 'friendly fire,' this is actually a media/movies invented word. The military terminology I believe is 'blue on blue.'

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#171629 - Sat May 17 2003 05:58 AM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
snm Offline
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* Really? We use "fire of our forces" (that's not a very good translation, but that's the gist of it). Blue on Blue makes sense though.
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#171630 - Sat May 17 2003 07:45 AM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
DieHard Offline
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Quote:

Her perceptions, and reactions, are clearly those of an artist and not a historian. She is not attempting to rigorously comment on the sweep of events in the last hundred years. Hers is a rather personal, impressionistic response to small details, nuances, and symbols of current reality coupled with memory fragments and associations from her past--exactly what one might expect from a novelist. These are her personal reflections and musings on things that impact her current awareness. I think she has to be read on her own terms and not held to anyone else's standard of what she should be thinking, or feeling, or taking into account.



Do you give Jerry Falwell the same courtesy when he says something stupid? His are the musing of a minister and come from a unique perspective. Perhaps we shouldn't hold him to anyone elses standards.

Has Drabble never heard of the Flying Tigers?? Cartoons on airplanes are nothing new and her comments show a naivety of military matters that I found a bit amusing. It was even kind of sweet in a little old lady sort of way. And it amazes me that someone who has never been faced with an angry mob throwing debris and firing weapons can so sanctimoniously accuse those that have of callously mowing down innocent civilians. The anti-Bush hysteria has reach such a fever pitch that his opponents have lost any objectivity and are quickly losing all credibiltiy.

For a Brit to loath the U.S. for its imperialist behavior would be funny; except Drabble isn't funny. She is a sad example of someone willing to let others live under the boot of a tyrant or willing to let others die violently at the hands of terrorists as long as she doesn't have to endure acid reflux after her afternoon tea and crumpets.

Is she daft? I don't know enough about her to make that determination. But I do think her article was pure drabble.
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#171631 - Sat May 17 2003 11:36 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
chelseabelle Offline
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DieHard, I don't know if you read both of Drabble's articles or only the one linked to in the opening post of this thread. The second article is linked to the words "global economy" (or something like that) in a subsequent post by Coolupway. The articles do differ in both tone, style, and content. The remarks of mine which you copied really refer to the second article. If you read both articles it is clear that Drabble really doesn't hate America, but she does apparently hate the Bush administration and she clearly was not in favor of our invasion of Iraq--sentiments which were shared by an awful lot of Brits.

Drabble didn't suddenly notice cartoon faces on fighter planes. She's well aware that such adornments have been around for quite some time--she even mentions some of the names used during WWII. She's not naive about things like this, but seeing those grinning faces while watching footage of current military actions she clearly deplores, simply reminded her how grotesque it is to drop bombs from planes which are grinning. You must admit, such faces do suggest a childish glee in killing the unfortunates who happen to be below those planes. And we have shot and killed innocent unarmed civilians since the official fighting ended, partly because grinning Rumsfeld forgot to plan that part of the peace. Drabble isn't sanctimonious, she's angry and revolted by our actions, and not all of our actions have been wonderful by anyone's standards. Don't forget, the majority of Brits felt dragged, somewhat kicking and screaming, into this war by Blair--they did not see it as a necessary or justified action. If you didn't applaud or agree with America's pre-emptive invasion of Iraq to begin with, you're not likely to be thrilled when you see the occupying "victor" behaving in a brutal manner. This is far from anti-Bush hysteria. It's anti-Bush, but it's not hysteria.

I give the Rev. Jerry Falwell no courtesy when he says something stupid, such as his comments after 9/11 that the attack was a punishment from God because of the gays, Pagans and secular humanists in our midst and because we have driven God and religion out of our society. Well, even as the musings of a minister, that sort of thinking is not only stupid and hateful, it's as religiously fanatical in it's own way as the thoughts voiced by bin Laden. Drabble only implied that 9/ll might have arisen out of anger or envy over the global inequities in distribution of wealth and economic power. Her thinking on that score might be simplistic, but Falwell's analysis of 9/11 was downright stupid--particularly for a minister. In some ways Falwell can't be held to anyone else's standards because he's really in a class by himself--a class many people wouldn't care to join. At least Drabble has talent.
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#171632 - Sun May 18 2003 08:23 AM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
DieHard Offline
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I could care less if Margaret Drabble hates America or not. That's not the point. Many who opposed the war and many who questioned the war (such as yours truly) have managed to avoid the trap that Drabble has eagerly fallen into; the trap that causes a normally reasonable person to lose all sense of objectivity and perspective; a trap that causes certain neurons in the brain to shut down all peripheral vision and tunnel attention to specific acts of American "atrocities" that certainly couldn't be due to or in response to actions taken by the poor brutalized Iraqis. According to Drabble, those American soldiers should quit taking their immortality pills and stop applying the anti-aging cream and just take a bullet like a good soldier. I find certain post-war instances in Iraq unfortunate also, but Drabble has the luxury of hindsight while our soldiers were dodging bullets. Give me one instance of criminal negligence or intent on the part of an officer or group of enlisted who deliberately shot down Iraqi civilians in cold-blood and I'll accept her and your characterization of the American forces as "brutal".

Hussein gassed his own, including women and children; he let his people live in abject poverty while he amassed dozens of opulant palaces; mass graves have been found where he systematically executed tens of thousands; his regime employed torture chambers where the floors are stained with the blood of dissidents; Uday Hussein would rape and torture young women just for the thrill; Iraqis could "disappear" at any moment - they lived in perpetual fear. I'm just wondering if Drabble suffered heartburn over an of this or did her sensibilities get politically motivated only when America invaded "poor Iraq".

And no, I do not think that cartoons on airplanes suggest "a childish glee in killing the unfortunates". The Chinese didn't seem offended by the smiling Flying Tigers; Madame Chiang Kai-shek called them "angels". I doubt many Brits were annoyed at the cartoons on B-17's, such as the Memphis Belle, as they were dissolving the Third Reich. Frankly, if those boys who are putting their lives on the line want to paint a cartoon on the side of a plane they may not come home in I say more power to them.

Her comments on economic disparity was the same old socialist song and dance. I would expect something a little more original from such a talent as Drabble. It is obvious that American has just delivered the opportunity for economic prosperity in Iraq. The question is, what will they do with that opportunity? And I would find her advocacy of wealth redistribution a bit more credible if she wasn't speaking from her limo. Of course what she really means is that national wealth should be equalized while allowing her to maintain her present standard of living. The Hollywood liberals must love her.
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#171633 - Sun May 18 2003 12:54 PM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
chelseabelle Offline
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DieHard, I don't think our soldiers are immoral at all. The aftermath of the war just wasn't something they had been properly prepared to deal with. Drabble, in effect, says the same thing by her comment that the British troops were better trained--which may, or may not be true.
And, like many Brits, Drabble sees our continued use of capital punishment as barbaric. Many Brits also see our love affair with guns in the same way. So, to some extent, Drabble might be voicing a majority British viewpoint on these aspects of America, which is simply being filtered through her own personal lens. You don't have to be daft to abhor violence and killing. You don't have to be daft to want to see less of it.

I have no idea what Drabble's personal lifestyle is like, nor do I have a good sense of her political leanings, so I'm not ready to start pigeonholing and stereotyping her. But, I think if we disregard her feelings and consider her daft, we might have to apply that same judgment to many of our British friends at FT who voice similar sentiments. I think that America doesn't always look the same when viewed from the other side of the pond as it does to those of us who live here. Perhaps distance gives the Brits better perspective on us, or maybe it doesn't, but Drabble's perspective does seem, to me, to be decidedly British. I suspect they all think we're more than a little wild and more than a little daft.

Actually I don't put much stock in either of these articles. They were interesting to read--she is an evocative writer--but they were not exactly mind altering and they really weren't persuasive. Just interesting comments by a woman who views us from the other side of the pond.

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#171634 - Mon May 19 2003 05:28 AM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
Islingtonian Offline
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Being always happy to "stir things up a little", I'd like to agree with some elements of Margaret Drabble's article, while disagreeing with others.

I am among those who find the current attitude of America's leaders disturbing. America's enjoying one of those rare periods of history when there is plainly one nation that is far more powerful than all the rest, that can frankly do whatever it likes, and it worries me.

Perhaps this is controversial, but George W Bush as the most powerful man in the world doesn't fill me with confidence. I also find Donald Rumsfeld particularly scary - cutting down trees for recreation is not a proper hobby.

I certainly don't hate America, which is where Drabble's article is at its most offensive. To hate the country for the decisions of its politicians is absurd. I'm not comfortable with what seems to be a prevailing attitude in the US that criticism of the politicians won't be tolerated, typified by the attitude that "You're either with us or against us", but overall I still like America very much (including Disneyland, coke and burgers, which Drabble singles out).

I think the death penalty's barbaric. Inevitably the coverage we get over here of US executions probably isn't representative, but there do seem to have been numerous cases where executions have gone ahead despite doubts as to guilt, which is particularly worrying. In any case, I'm among those who think the death penalty's wrong even where guilt's firmly established.

Some of the activity in and following the Afghanistan war (including in Guantanamo bay) has been illegal (in terms of the Geneva and Hague conventions). Several posts on this site have argued that it was legal, basing their argument on US law alone, and in some cases attaching greater importance to the treatment of US citizens than others. If it's madness to worry about that, call me George III.

There were allegations of US soldiers firing on crowds in Iraq. We have to treat those allegations very carefully, recognising the huge potential for their being deliberate slanderous slurs, but I hope someone's at least investigating them (I've never heard that they are).

I dislike misleading "historical" films. My pet hate is "The Patriot" starring Mel Gibson, in which a (British) character who existed in real life locks (American) women and children in a church and sets fire to it (which never happened). This of course portrays the British as "evil" and the Americans as "good" - a simplistic "them versus us" portrayal, which is all too common in Hollywood and sometimes strays outside. I'll wager a Big Mac there are people on this site who actually think America is good and all the other countries are evil.

I'm not too bothered about plane nose cones. The attitudes of soldiers in combat, risking their lives, shouldn't be judged by the standards of politicians.

So there you go, some concerns that a lot of people share, expressed in the lyrical language of an author, which is fine as long as it doesn't stray too far (which MD does when she talks about hating America).

The rightness or wrongness of the war in Iraq is something we agreed not to talk about too much. However, there's a growing tendency (not just here) to dismiss anti-war sentiments as being silly or frivolous (which admittedly goes the other way at times) which we should avoid.


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#171635 - Mon May 19 2003 06:38 AM Re: Is Margaret Drabble quite daft?
Coolupway Offline
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British characters in films EVIL??? Good heavens, what a suggestion. Donald Pleasence and James Mason always played great, upstanding guys! Maybe you should look into this a bit, Islingtonian. There may be a quiz in it. I mean let's not forget those lovable English bumblers Peter Sellers (albeit in French mode) Terry-Thomas, and their modern day counterpart, horse-faced stutterer Hugh Grant.

The US fascination with guns is disturbing indeed, and unfortunately is (at least arguably) protected by the Second Amendment. (Facetious if true aside: it wasn't a bunch of ex-Latvians who ratified this!)

As for the death penalty, I really am a a bit amazed by the Euroreaction (if indeed there is such a thing) to this aspect of American law. That an innocent man may be sitting on death row right now is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, and is more than troubling. But I find the press coverage of this highly selective. The doubtful cases seem to make headlines, and the compelling cases (so it seems to me) not so many.

I did a fair amount of criminal defense work in the early 90's and now represent many inmates in civil matters. One thing that both criminal defense lawyers and inmates of my acquaintance seem to agree upon is that there is a not terribly fine line between otherwise not terribly bad people who violate the law for stupid reasons (often substance-abuse related) and those who do so quite willfully and indeed gleefully. I think of one homicide case that was QUITE publicized, namely that involving Charles Manson and his acolytes, and I find it extremely hard to convince myself that the state-sanctioned killing of this awful specimen of humanity-- who indeed convinced an entire cadre of young women to participate in random carnage with him-- would somehow be inherently or morally wrong.

N.B. This Yank will readily concede that he does indeed find Disneyworld to be one of the most regrettable places on the planet, and was in fact heard to utter what might be deemed rather unpatriotic statements after a (mercifully) brief visit to the place some years back. Don't tell anyone.

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