A Bad Week for Religion

CNN (Feb 17) published a story, “Religion’s Week from Hell”, about the spate of atrocities, more or less religiously motivated, that took place in the previous week:

“Across several continents, including North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, scores of religious believers suffered and died in brutal attacks over the past seven days. Christians, Muslims and Jews alike all fell prey to assaults.”

One of these stood out because there seemed to be an atheist at the bottom of it: three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, shot dead by Craig Stephens Hicks. He frightened a lot of his neighbors even before this attack, and it is not entirely clear just what his motives were. The recent killings of Jews, other Muslims, and Christians were all carried out by Muslims – some affiliated with Al Qaeda and others with ISIL. At what point will large numbers of people decide, like Hicks, to take revenge on Muslims for these repeated attacks from groups like ISIL? It is indeed something to worry about.

There are about 1.6  billion Muslims on the planet. Almost all are law – abiding, peaceful people. It is they, and not their violent would-be leaders of whatever stripe, who define their beliefs, read their holy books and literature, and follow more or less faithfully the advice and counsel of their spiritual leaders. But any group of people, particularly those motivated by ideology, could become aroused to action. This is the fearful result of provocations repeated too often.

ISIL claim to be the correct interpreters of Islam. According to an article by Graeme Wood in the March Atlantic, these people believe they have established a caliphate – a territorial state in the ancient Islamic tradition, obeying strictly the injunctions in the Koran as to treatment of enemies, apostates, and the like. In effect they are ultra-fundamentalists intent on imposing a rule of law established for Muslims over 1000 years ago. The prescriptions of this law are bloody minded in the extreme. Wood concludes in his article that the west has no choice but to confront this regime, but should not fulfill Koranic prophecy by sending in occidental forces on the ground. Many of the victims of these groups have been Muslims. Condemning Islam would only make it more difficult to suppress these extremist groups, and it would be unjust as well. Most Muslims are not deserving of that.

 

Permission to Operate

Just before we took off for France last June, we played host to an organization that was promoting solar power for private homes in our area. I have two friends who were members of the group.  One, a retired engineering professor, had long experience with solar power; the other, a biology professor, had already installed a system in his home and was an active member of this group. I had talked with both about it, because I had received an offer from a private company that would install a system but retain ownership of the equipment, selling me power at a fixed rate likely below what the power company would offer. What about this? I asked my engineer. His answer – they are making more money out of this than you. He went over the economics with me, and I became convinced that it made sense to actually buy a system. So, at the suggestion of my biologist, on that June day my wife and I posed on the back lawn for a story for the local paper, which would promote the cause of solar power in our community.

Our vacation lasted three weeks, and so we did not actually get the ball rolling with the contractors until July. Over the course of the next several months, the project proceeded at a glacial pace, it seemed to me. There were weeks when I would hear of no progress; occasionally somebody would show up for a crucial piece of design work, and then nothing would happen. In November, finally, a crew came to install a new net meter that could handle a new parallel source of power to the house. A week or two later some people came to install posts in the ground to hold the ground unit. It was not until early January that the crew arrived to lay the cables, install the 16 ground panels and 5 roof panels. Even then it was not ready to go. We had to wait for the power company to send an inspector and then issue the Permission to Operate. That just arrived a couple of days ago, and today we finally turned on the system. We were in the middle of about 60 households who had signed up for the contract that had been negotiated by the group.

Harry Cleaning Snow of the Solar Panels

Problem: the panels were covered in snow. Fortunately, my contractor informed me, I could buy a snow-raker from an auto parts store or car dealer and without damaging the ground panels scrape the snow off. This entailed a fair amount of work, because I had to dig a path through deep snow to even get to the unit. I also had to buy a long extender from the paint department at Home Depot so that the scraper could reach the top panels. After a fair amount of effort I had removed the snow by midafternoon. By the end of the day the system had collected 3 KWH of solar electricity. I feel as I did when I got paid my first dollar.

The Symmetry of Slaughter

President Obama is catching flak from Republicans for remarks he made about the murderous acts committed in the name of Christ during the crusades and later in Jim-Crow country, rightly comparing those to the barbarisms of ISIS. An article in the New York Times, February 6 2014 reported for example : “‘The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said Jim Gilmore, the former Republican governor of Virginia. “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States.”’ In my opinion, however, Obama was right. Everyone was horrified, for example, by the burning to death of a Jordanian prisoner by ISIS a few days ago. But how is that different, really, from the stake burnings at the hands of the Inquisition, a Catholic institution that continued doing this until the early 1830s? It is not just Islam and Christianity that carry this burden of history, as witness the terrible religious violence that has occurred regularly in India. Religious wars are comparable in moral terms if not in sheer scale to the violence of Nazis who killed millions of Jews, handicapped, or Gypsies during World War II, based on a long festering prejudice pumped up to a racist ideology. People are capable of mortal violence when they believe on religious or ideological grounds the evil character of some other group. Gilmore’s criticism, apart from its obvious pandering, shows simultaneous ignorance of history and human nature. Add to this the frequent ignorance and denial of science among Republicans, one is struck that the Republican Party remains vulnerable to the criticism, in the words of one of its own, Bobby Jindal, as “the stupid party.”

Good News About Hillary

The results of a new poll show Hillary beating all the GOP candidates who are being touted for President in 2016.

The Republicans in Congress are most likely going to make a mess sometime in the next two years; it is likely they will lose the Senate again, and their majority in the House will probably shrink.

We are going to have divided government, but I think we can count on Hillary to do a good job.

 

From Free Will to Broken Windows

I present here some thoughts on free will, indiscretion, crime, and sanctions.

I have reported earlier on this blog my reading of Free Will (Free Press, New York, 2012) by Sam Harris, and I have read some other books that touch upon the subject. What follows is for the most part not original with me, but represents a kind of synthesis of what I have learned about this subject.

We are self-aware creatures. We regard the world, perceive sounds, odors, sensations, we can observe our own bodies, we can think, and we can even think about thinking. Many feel that we have the ability to choose what to do, to direct our minds, as if there were a little version of ourselves in our minds, directing our behavior. This idea is at the heart of the concept of free will and is the foundation for a dualistic theory of the mind. Dualism is widespread, having adherents in both religious and legal scholarship. The basic tenet is that given a set of circumstances, one can freely choose one of several actions. Put that simply most people do not object to this statement.

It is only on reflection that we realize how little control we have over our minds. Thoughts enter our heads by surprise quite often. They change due to our conscious processing or they disappear without being considered in any depth. Example: I am thinking about a pink hippopotamus at the moment, for no good reason. Now I am turning my attention to the next paragraph of my essay, and shortly I will no longer be thinking about that pink hippo – unless of course it comes back to mind…

Scientists have conducted experiments (discussed by Harris in his book) that show that certain events in the brain strongly correlated with decisions take place before a person is actually aware of the decisions he or she makes. The delay is sometimes several seconds in length. This is evidence that the decision is made by our unconscious, and is represented by brain activity that takes place before the decision becomes a part of our conscious attention. This evidence is consistent with the idea of determinism.

Determinism holds that everything has an antecedent cause (despite atomic-level indeterminacy, which is considered irrelevant at the scale of the brain and in any case random). Determinism is a fundamental assumption of science, and its value is assessed by the practicality of the results produced by science. On this view, given a set of circumstances, there is only one action a person can take – the one that is caused by the events preceding it. Thus the things we do are imposed on us by the sum total of circumstances. We are not therefore morally culpable for anything bad we do, or morally praiseworthy for anything good we do. We do everything because we are caused to do it. If you think this does not follow, consider an example described in more detail by Sam Harris in his book. Imagine a boy who accidentally shoots his sister to death with a gun. He will not be held accountable for this by anything like a prison sentence. But if the boy is 21 years old and does the same thing, there will be legal consequences. Yet again, if he is shown after the fact to have a brain tumor that could have caused his actions, he would not be held morally accountable, but would instead qualify for medical treatment at state expense. As soon as we know or even suspect the cause of his act, and recognize that it has nothing to do with his wishes, our opinion of what to do with him changes.

Nobody pretends that there is a practical means of documenting the chain of causes for any but the simplest of systems, let alone the brain. Thus, to all practical purposes we cannot predict reliably what another person will do, and if we are honest with ourselves, we cannot reliably predict what we ourselves will do. This makes us feel as if people are free to do whatever they want, but the determinist holds that that is really an illusion. Furthermore, the determinist position is that we nevertheless are responsible for the things we do, whether they are good or bad, not because we chose to do them freely, but just precisely because we and not somebody else actually did them.

This has implications for social customs and law.

Imagine that I laugh out loud at a funeral. That would be considered an unusual and bad behavior on my part. It would likely have negative social consequences for me. Recognizing this, I refrain from laughing out loud at a funeral, but then again I might go ahead and laugh, and nobody, perhaps not even I, could explain why. However, if it were normal to laugh out loud at funerals, it would be unusual to act strictly grave and circumspect.

Thus it is that social circumstances influence our behavior, and that influence is not completely compelling. Practically speaking, it is as if I can of my own free will violate social convention. (After all there is no documenting the reason for my strange behavior)!

Now when people violate social conventions or commit crimes, society does indeed impose sanctions on them. These can be quite harsh sometimes, even to the point of executing those who commit the worst crimes. What is the effect of the deterministic view on this? A dualist might say “Quite a lot.” If we cannot point a finger of indignation at a person just because his bad actions have been determined by allegedly unknown processes he cannot control, society would rapidly collapse. But one can argue in response to this that society needs to prevent bad behavior and is quite right to attempt to do so. Compared with the dualistic view that holds so widely in law and religion, the only thing that the scientific attitude changes is the moral indignation that accompanies the social sanction that offenders receive. According to this view, recognizing the physical facts underlying behavior does not alter the need for society to regulate it.

All this affects the debate about the character of sanctions. These can range from a lifted eyebrow to the detonation of a nuclear bomb, without altering the fact that human brains are integral parts of the body and that there is no self-conscious “mini-brain” in each that directs decisions made by the brain. The scientific view is that consciousness is a property of the brain arising from its organization, but it is not informed by the entire brain – many brain functions take place without coming to our conscious attention. And few would deny that the unconscious has a powerful influence on conscious thought, especially in the light of recent scientific investigations. This view is strongly supported by medical and psychological experimentation and observation, and is fully consistent with our subjective perceptions, if we are honest about them.

What can we say about the sanctions we impose on bad behavior? This is a vast subject with a long history. The whole body of law, secular and religious, domestic and international, deals with it. Obviously I cannot address all that, but it seems important not to ignore the insights that determinism offers. One such insight is that vindictiveness is not justified by the physically determined character of human actions. Where do we see vindictiveness? It is prevalent, more or less. The most severe sanctions are imposed for the worst offenses. An extreme example of sanctions is warfare, but capital punishment also qualifies as a top priority for our attention. In Europe, there are no countries that execute convicted criminals. In the United States, China, India, and most Muslim countries, the death penalty persists. Thanks to DNA fingerprinting, it has been found recently that a small but significant percentage of those convicted of murder are later proven to be not guilty, both in the USA and the UK. Probably no legal system on earth is free of errors like this; it is virtually certain that capital punishment will lead to innocent people being executed. This is a powerful argument against the death penalty in the USA. Another argument is on the grounds of efficacy. Those who support the death penalty for certain crimes claim that it is a deterrent. But police report that most criminals believe that they will not be apprehended or convicted of crimes that they commit. If that is true then the existence of such penalties is without effect on the likelihood that they will commit capital crimes. There seems to be no scientific evidence on the effect of capital punishment on murder rates. Daniel Nagin, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University, has said, “Nothing is known about how potential murderers actually perceive their risk of punishment(1).” Considering the deterministic character of human behavior, the purpose of sanctions on serious crimes would be limited to preventing the criminal from repeating his offense, and would no longer include a component of revenge. That does not mean that severe sanctions should not be used, or that they should not be graded according to the gravity of the offense, but it does mean that the goal of sanctions should be socially practical. We should really look at what the evidence says about the effect of prison on criminals, which sanctions work and which do not, and how can we regulate behavior of criminals by other, possibly cheaper means than prison or execution. But if free criminals think that they will not be caught, there can be no credible deterrence in heavier prison sentences or capital punishment.

What does seem to lower crime rates is an enhanced security policy, which increases the real and perceived likelihood that an offender will be apprehended. This may include very simple things, such as fixing broken windows, keeping streets and sidewalks in repair, and enforcing building codes, in addition to putting police in greater numbers in areas where crime rates have risen. There is some empirical evidence for the efficacy of such a “broken windows” strategy.

On this view, there are some real social benefits to be had from a science-based conception of the basis of human behavior. Not the least of these would be a reduction in the cost of prisons and improvement in the built environment and its security.

1. Death Penalty Information Center

Good News in New York

Today the news came out that New York will not allow fracking. The evidence that it contaminates the environment is too strong for responsible officials to ignore. I am not sure what was the most decisive, but the presence of benzene in the air around drilling sites was pretty alarming.

A second bit of good news is the recognition of Cuba by the US government. This is long overdue. The danger of Communism so close to our shores, a bugboo for Republicans, never was very convincing to me, once the Soviet Union had collapsed. We need to have normal relationships with our neighbors, even if our political systems differ considerably. Not that I want to visit Cuba! Key West is close enough for me.

A third bit of good news, not so recent actually, is the decline in unemployment. Obama inherited an immense disaster, thanks to his Republican predecessor, GW Bush. The country is just now regaining the position it had lost.

A fourth bit of good news are the tremendous discoveries being made in science and technology. The detection of sudden methane emissions on Mars suggests that there may have been life on the planet; every day it seems that there are new medical and scientific breakthroughs.

The one fly in the ointment is the immense power the Republican party has gained in the last election. The good news was a little too slow in reaching the public. These grinches could well spoil it all.

 

Move Away from Fossil Fuels

The following letter from me appeared in the Schenectady Gazette last Saturday:
A retired engineer named Russ Wege in the December 8 Schenectady Gazette “Science is not settled on climate changes” goes over some of the known history of climate change, noting that temperature has gone down sometimes when carbon dioxide levels were rising. But are we really expected to believe that climate scientists are unaware of the history of climate change? Temperature fluctuates, and to perceive trends, one has to consider the totality of relevant data. On a time scale of hundreds of thousands of years, global temperature and carbon dioxide levels are correlated. There is evidence from many independent sources that the planet is warming (polar migration of tropical ecosystems, glacial melting, and sea level increase for example). There is convincing evidence that carbon dioxide has been increasing rapidly since the 1950s (the Keeling curve) and that this is due to the burning of fossil fuel (Suess effect). Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that causes the atmosphere to retain heat. Numerous quantitative models that are based on the known physics of carbon dioxide and other climatic factors, and that accurately model past global temperature, all predict that temperatures will rise from 2 to 5 centigrade degrees before the year 2100. Carbon dioxide is a major player in all of these models (IPCC Report).
Ecologists have taught us that the characters of biomes (such as deserts, prairies, or tropical forests) are determined by rainfall and temperature. We know that even small changes in temperature can upset an ecosystem. Thus, the whole arrangement of the biosphere could change as a result of global temperature changes. Like it or not, we depend on the current arrangement of the biosphere. The biggest cause of current global warming is our burning of fossil fuel. Mr. Wege thinks there is nothing to be done, but surely it is unwise to keep on adding to the problem.

Brooks on Obama – A Misreading

David Brooks’ column on the President’s reaction to the midterm that appeared today in our local paper (Albany Times Union, Nov 19, 2014) argues that the Obama administration missed the point of their defeat. He remarked that Obama dismissed the election as being marked by low turnout, as if that were the Republicans’ fault. But he does not realize that the underlying point is that this election was a blip on the radar, and one that will disappear within two years. The Senate will fall back into Democratic hands, and likely the White House will not change hands. Likewise Brooks claims that the Keystone Pipeline is an OK project that Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Now maybe that is true, but so far the votes are not there in Congress, and development of the fossil fuel industry is not in need of political support. If anything it has had too much of this, at the hands of Dick Chaney and company in the last administration. Finally Brooks takes the President to task for threatening to act on immigration. He hints that the Republicans are in the process of developing a proposal or a policy on this that they want to bring forward. He says that unilateral action by the President will sabotage this effort. Maybe Brooks’ sources are good, but I have not heard of anything like this from anybody else. The Republicans have had two years to digest the significance of their defeat in the election of 2012 – a demographic deficit among both blacks and Hispanics – and they have not, in that time period, acted on the bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate. The President will solidify the support of these growing minorities by putting forth some common sense, humane rules on this thorny problem if he acts now, with or without the support of Congress. If the Republicans fail to seek cooperation with the President, that will just solidify their reputation for obstructionism, which will not endear them to the public.

An Observation on Regret from Proust

Lately I have re-reading Proust. Here is an example of why.

In “À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs” Proust’s young stand-in protagonist is visiting the studio of the fictional painter Elstir at his villa near the seaside resort of Balbec. It is about sunset, and he is about to go home. He asks Elstir about an old  watercolor of a young woman in theatrical costume, guessing correctly that it is a portrait of Odette, a woman with a checkered past as a “cocotte”, now married to Swann, a sophisticated Parisian clubman. He also guesses correctly that Elstir was a friend of both of them years ago, when they all were part of the circle of a wealthy woman, a circle where Elstir was remembered as not particularly brilliant. Elstir reacts at first with a discontented facial expression, but then, instead of dismissing his young guest, he offers a philosophical comment:

“There is no man, however wise he might be” he told me “who has not at some time in his youth pronounced some words, or even lived a style of life, the memory of which is disagreeable to him, and he would wish had never happened. But he should not regret it absolutely, because he could not be assured of becoming wise, insofar as that is possible, unless he has passed through all the incarnations, ridiculous or odious, that have to precede the last incarnation. I know there are young people, sons and grandsons of distinguished men, whom their instructors have taught nobility of spirit and moral elegance as soon as they went to school. They have perhaps nothing to regret in life, they could publish and sign everything they did, but they are poor spirits, powerless descendants of doctrinaires, whose wisdom is negative and sterile. One does not receive wisdom, it is necessary to discover it oneself, after a journey which nobody can make for us, nor spare us, because it is a point of view about things. The lives that you admire, the attitudes that you find noble, have not been given by fathers or teachers, they have been preceded by quite different preliminary events, having been influenced by what was around them that was bad or banal. They represent a battle and a victory. I understand that the image of what we have been during an early period is no longer recognizable, and in any case unpleasant. It must not be denied however, because it is a witness that we have really lived, and that is according to the laws of life and the mind, that we have, from the common elements of life, of studios, of artistic circles if we are talking about a painter, extracted something that surpasses them.”

Whatever we regret in the past – an invitation declined, an appointment missed, an obligation ignored, denied, or forgotten, a bad habit, a serious fault- is part of our education in the broadest sense. This is not an argument to repeat our mistakes or cherish them; but our experiences – even the bad ones- give us what is best in ourselves.

 

Merci pour ce moment

Thanks for this Moment, by Valérie Trierweiler. Les Arénes, Paris 2014.

This is a bestseller in France, a revealing story of the personal lives of two prominent people – Valérie Trierweiler, a well-known journalist at Paris-Match, and François Hollande, the current President of the French Republic. Valérie Trierweiler came to international attention after the defeat of Ségolène Royal for the presidency of France in 2007. It was only then that Royal, the mother of four children with François Hollande, announced that she had asked him to move out. The cause was apparently Valérie Trierweiler, and the French press treated her pretty much as a home-wrecker. When Hollande succeeded in defeating Nicolas Sarkozy for the same office 5 years later, it was Valérie Trierweiler and not Ségolène Royal who would assume the duties of First Lady at the Elysée palace. Clearly there could be no love lost between these two women. But Hollande supported Ségolène Royal in her run for a seat in the National Assembly. Trierweiler issued a tweet of encouragement to Royal’s opponent, Olivier Falorni, which caused a hulabaloo, exposing both her hostility for the ex-lover of the President and an apparent split between Trierweiler and him. Months later, the French press revealed that Hollande was photographed after an overnight visit with an actress, Julie Gayet. Within a few days, Trierweiler was recovering from a sleeping pill overdose in a Paris hospital. Hollande put an end to their liaison and Trierweiler was no longer First Lady of France.

The book is a memoir on their relationship – his side of the story remains untold, but he has protested some of the things Trierweiler wrote in this book. I take no position on what the true story is. This review is about Trierweiler’s story.

According to her book, Valérie Trierweiler came from a modest background, a “ZUP” near Angers. (A “ZUP” in France was a protected urbanization zone, basically public housing). She got a degree and went to work as a reporter, winding up, after a failed first marriage, with Denis Trierweiler, with whom she had three sons. Working for Paris-Match, she covered the Socialist Party, and got to know many people, including François Hollande. They became friends, close enough so that Ségolène Royal, the mother of Hollande’s four children, noticed and expressed her displeasure. Trierweiler describes a scene where she was talking with Hollande at a restaurant and Mme Royal approached their table to ask what was going on. At the time, there was no romantic relationship between the two, and Trierweiler said as much, to which Royal said “stop farting around with me.” After describing this passage, Trierweiler commented ruefully that Royal was not wrong in her inferences. It was not long afterward that Hollande began to pursue her in earnest, and she fell in love with him.

One of the most startling revelations of the book is the disdain that Hollande privately expressed for poor people – calling them “sens-dents” – toothless, apparently several times, and proud of his humor. Another was his taste for expensive items and luxurious dining. Almost as shocking is the contempt he expressed for her family – “pas jojo, la famille Massonneau” – not so pretty, your family. Another gem is when, in the Elysée, he told her that her only role was to look beautiful. In sum, Hollande comes across as a jerk.

A jerk, but evidently charming enough to her to fall in love with. She writes freely about that, without rancor. He was a great raconteur, good with constituents and crowds, and, when he wanted to be, an attentive and passionate companion for Valérie. She wound up divorcing her husband and living with Hollande for several years while he was in the political wilderness.

Hollande decided to run for the Socialist nomination for 2012, despite the general notion that the inevitable nominee would be Dominique Strauss-Kahn. However, in 2011 this rival was eliminated by the notorious sex scandal that broke out in New York City, when Strauss-Kahn was charged with rape by a chambermaid in an expensive hotel.

With Hollande’s election to the Presidency, his relationship with Trierweiler cooled. He was busy and did not want her involved in his political affairs except in a very limited capacity as First Lady. He did not consult her or notify her in advance of decisions, even about things that she had been asked to be involved in. And then he struck up a relationship with the actress Julie Gayet, which lasted a year, producing rumors that he denied to Trierweiler, until the French online magazine Closer published a photograph of him in a motorscooter helmet in the wee hours of the morning in front of Gayet’s apartment building.

This book is about personal pain, and Trierweiler is unsparing about her own behavior as well as Hollande’s. An example is her description of deliberately forcing Ségolène Royal to shake hands with her in public. The book is well written, as would be expected from a professional reporter with her credentials. (Nonetheless there have been suggestions in the press that she had a ghost-writer, or that her editor Laurent Beccaria insisted on cutting some potentially libelous statements about Ségolène Royal, charges that Beccaria has denied in print). The picture is of people in high positions in society behaving badly, trivially, inflicting and suffering emotional damage. I came away feeling sympathy for Trierweiler, but note that others have had the opposite reaction, with sympathy for Hollande! From her point of view, though, she had a decent job and home, a husband and three young children, and in response to Hollande’s advances, gave all that up to live with him long before he had a visible chance of becoming President. His success, which many thought was her motivation for attaching herself to him, was to her the cause of their breakup.

The final revelation, really surprising, is that earlier this year, after the rupture, he began sending her text messages asking her to come back. Now clearly this is something for which she would be able to produce evidence in case she needs to. The ending of the book provides its title:

“The time has come to close this narrative, written with my tears, my insomnias, and my memories, some of which still burn me. Thanks for this moment, thanks for that crazy love, thanks for the trip to the Ëlysée. Thanks also for the chasm into which you have dropped me. You taught me a lot about yourself, others, and myself. From now on I can move and strive, without fear of the regard of others, without begging for yours. I want to live, to write other pages of this strange book, this singular voyage that is the life of a woman. This will be without you. I was neither married, nor protected. I can only have been loved as much as I have loved.”

The last sentence poses an eternal problem of couples: the balance of affection. She seems to say that she could not have expected more love than she was willing to give. The rest of the book certainly makes the case that during the time approaching the rupture of their relationship she got less.

In the end, with Hollande once again pursuing her with text messages, she is burned and unwilling to go back, convinced that his character will never change, that life with him would be a return to lies, humiliation and eventual abandonment.

She insists that her story is true – that she was too much a victim of lies to resort to them in turn. And if so, it is certainly understandable why she feels the way she does about Hollande.

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