Friday, April 21, 2006

Podcast on China and the Middle East

Today, we are talking again to Jim Dunnigan of Strategy Page and Austin Bay of about China (did you know that there are 100 million internet users there?), Iran and the possibility of an electromagnetic bomb, and Iraq updates. We also caught up with Michael Totten who is just back from the Middle East where he has been blogging about his experiences. He talks about how he was treated as an American, the despair of Cairo, and the beauty and wonder of Istanbul.

You can listen to the podcast here (no iPod needed) or subscribe via iTunes here.

As always, comments and suggestions can be left below.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Austin Bay/Jim Dunnigan podcasts remain my favorites. The pacing of their discussion was superb, the topics were wide-ranging, and the discussion was well-informed. Last but not least, the questions were excellent. I especially liked that your interruptions were infrequent but perfectly timed so the discussion moved right along. More more more.

Perhaps my anticipation was too high for the Michael Totten interview to live up to, but I did not find it as riveting. The content provided by Mr. Totten was first-rate and I admire him more than I can express. But he speaks in a monotone that is difficult to understand, and I missed much of what he said because I had to strain to understand his words until the last portion of the interview. In all fairness, though, Mr. Totten sounded tired and I suspect that his delivery is normally much more lively and understandable.

11:01 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please cast your net more widely than US right-of-center pols and PJM/righty bloggers. Austin Bay's a lot more intelligent and interesting than most, but you can still do better. Aim high: how about real experts and first-rate intellectuals from across the spectrum, such as
--Fouad Ajami, not Michael Totten, on the middle east
--Michael McFaul on Russia
--Brad DeLong on economics
--Salman Rushdie on anything he wants to talk about
--Om Malik on technology
--Bill Gross of PIMCO on the bond market, the dollar, whether we'll see a collapse due to most American consumers' extremely shoddy financial position
--Herb Kelleher of Southwest or Mo Greenberg ex-AIG on corporate governance and SOX burdens
--Frank Deford on contemporary athletes
--Naomi Wolf on Jesus, feminism, earth tones

Also, Michael Crichton, Norm Geras, Norman Borlaug, Oriana Fallaci, Iggy Pop, Camille Paglia, Kris Kristofferson on Sarah Miles (not literally)....

11:39 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be clear, Austin's a bright guy but most bloggers are really third-rate. They're simply not in the same league as true experts like Ajami, McFaul, Niall Kennedy et al, and to the extent that people increasingly rely on the blogosphere for insight, I'd argue that the discourse is being steadily dumbed down. yes, yes, the MSM are arrogant blah blah blah, but there's simply no comparison between an essay, talk, interview or even a chat with a real intellectual and those hackers known as bloggers. Michael Totten is an especially bad joke. Please get an arab specialist who really knows what he's talking about.

11:44 PM, April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, by the way, I'm NOT Greg Kuperberg.

12:13 AM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, really, I'm not.

12:14 AM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mean, I don't even look like Greg Kuperberg -- which is too bad, as he's an extremely handsome man.

12:21 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger XWL said...

Regarding all the above anonymous commenters, Michael Hiltzik, is that you?

Regarding the podcasts, keep on the keeping on, each one has been excellent in it's own way.

If Tony Snow gets the White House Press Secretary's job, aim high and get him, otherwise Christopher Hitchens is always fascinating, and having the two of you ask questions of Neil Young about his 'all anti-Bush, every single song' new album would be instructive. Also Paul Greengrass the director of United 93 would be an excellent catch if you could arrange it. Talking to the fella running Snakes on a Blog might be a lot of fun (and the whole Snakes on a Plane fan movement is a real 'An Army of Davids' moment). And come to think of it, what better venue for Michael Hiltzik to explain himself than on your podcasts, if he has a brain in his head he'll endeavor to make it happen.

Plus I'm always available if you want to interview a blogger with dozens of daily readers.

12:44 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

If anyone thinks that I look good in the picture on my home page, all of the credit should go to my sister, who is a professional photographer. She could make almost anyone look good — Alan Colmes, for example (although it would be a tough assignment).

I didn't think that Michael Totten was so bad. Helen is courage that he, and three other Republican-catering bloggers, show some real courage in their travels to the Middle East. But still, that's only four people; there are many more than that who work for the much-maligned New York Times alone. Anyway, of these four, Totten probably has the most common sense. His on-site journalism can only be faulted for one major act of catering: He plays down the fact, even though he does mention it now and then, that the only reason that Iraqi Kurdistan is doing well is that it's practically an independent country. That doesn't bode well for Iraqi unity. At the same time, Baghdad is in terrible shape, and Totten knows it; he knows that it's too dangerous for him to travel there.

On the other hand, Jim Dunnigan is the worst. It's bad enough that he shouts instead of talking, that he sounds like a Manhattan taxi (not like a taxi driver, like the taxi itself), and he just talks too much. He is extremely bombastic and inaccurate. It would be an improvement to hear Austin Bay without Dunnigan there with him.

No one should believe Jim Dunnigan's promises that Iraqi Shiites will somehow take America's side in a conflict with Iran. Iranian domination might not be their first choice for their future, but they are much, much closer to Iran politically than they are to the United States. The influence of Iranian-backed Shiite militias goes all the way to the top in Iraq. The main distance between the Interior Ministry and the Sadr militia is that the Interior Ministry is infiltrated by the other Shiite militia, the Badr Brigade. That starts with the Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, who is a former Badr Brigade commander.

If I were to suggest someone else to interview, then yes, Brad DeLong would be great. Or, as I suggested before, any currently employed New York Times reporter who has been to Iraq — give him, or her, the tough questions. Not Michael Crichton though. He has the mentality of a typical pseudo-expert blogger and it would be bringing coals to Newcastle.

Or you could interview Iraqi blogger Zeyad. He has even more courage than Michael Totten.

2:03 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Right, from the comforting fiction department, here is Dunnigan as quoted by Glenn on April 16:

The neighbors are hoping the Shia Arabs and Kurds running the new Iraqi government will help containing Iran.

To which Glenn replied:

Turning Iraq into a dependable ally against Iran has always been part of the strategy, I think. I hope it works, and sooner rather than later.

But the truth is that if this was part of the strategy, the United States has made massive negative progress. Here is what Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said about it in December:

"As I mentioned in my recent lecture at London-based British Strategic Research Centre, there is no proof for Iran's interference in Iraq's internal affairs, since the Iraqi President, Prime Minister, entire cabinet minister, and parliament members are Iran's friends."

Who is the most powerful Iraqi who isn't outright pro-Iranian? Iyad Allawi, maybe, except that he's out of power and isn't coming back. (Allawi also insists that there is a civil war in Iraq, but that's another story.)

11:45 AM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I won't be listening to the Glenn & Helen podcast until it has a valid RSS feed. Providing an invalid feed that works for iTunes, but breaks some other podcast aggregators, is not acceptable.

Several people have posted here, offering to help you correct the errors in your feed. As far as I can tell, you've ignored them.

My podcast-listening time is a limited resource, and I prefer to give it to the podcasters who are willing to validate their feeds and correct any errors that exist.

7:49 PM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

EvilPundit: Why would anyone want to interview a New York Times reporter? They have no credibility.

Austin Bay does not agree, but that is not my point here.

My point is that the New York Times has treated Glenn Reynolds very well. So if Glenn criticizes them, it would only be fair to confront the Times directly in an interview format. That would be the mature, courageous way for him to stand behind his comments, and republished quotes from others, about the Times. It would not be physically courageous like reporters or bloggers who go to Iraq, but it would be intellectually courageous.

In particular I referred to a quote from another blog that was reposted on Instapundit and that questioned the patriotism of a Times reporter in Iraq named Kirk Semple. It would be better to interview Kirk Semple and give it to him straight, instead of reposting insinuations.

9:01 PM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a bit bemused by the number of people who criticize Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Smith's choices in podcast interviewees, attack their "impartiality" (even though the critics posting tend to be...ah...a bit one sided themselves), and even get snippy about technical details.

Science fiction readers are probably aware of Sturgeon's Law (after the late, great Ted Sturgeon): 90% of everything is crap (and no, he didn't say "crap"). Perhaps that goes for posts, and maybe even mine.

The point is that it takes little energy to complain and criticize and outsnark one another among postings. It takes time and effort to put together a blog, and even more of both to put together podcasts.

It would be nice if more people simply said "thanks."

If you don't like it, go elsewhere. I certainly don't agree with everything I read or hear on this and Instapundit websites...but I respect the heck out of "The Two Doctors" who spend a lot of their time and effort here.

The thing that continually amazes me about the blogosphere is how reasonable everyone thinks they are...and yet how many of those same folks in the blogosphere consider their political opponents to be stupid or evil.

What I like about this site is that folks with different opinions are often tolerated and respected among the posters. Try that on Kos.

But then, that is just my opinion. Your mileage may vary. Me, I appreciate what Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Smith are doing, whether or not I agree with their beliefs.

"Eric Blair"

12:09 AM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

The key question of whether Iraq could possibly be a reliable ally of the US against Iran continues to lurk behind the news. Instapundit says that the new Iraqi government is "the big story of the weekend". That is sort-of true, except that it may or may not lead to any real changes. There was a distinct sameness to the previous two governments led by Allawi and Jaafari. (Well, Jaafari was more pro-Iranian and allowed more militia infiltration in the government.) In any case, the new government is just as pro-Iranian as the last one. The new prime minister, Maliki, is also from the Dawa Party, which changed clothes from an Iranian-sponsored terrorist group to an Iraqi political party.

2:33 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger SFN said...

I think the people complaining that Michael Totten isn't the world's foremost expert on Arabs are missing the point. While hearing about his experiences was interesting and I suspect I'll go check out his blog for some more detail on that - the fact that he appears to be a part of a small but very real movement where people are apparently so fed up with the current media situation that they'll pay some guy who was a tech writer a couple of years ago to go check things out and report back is just astounding.

And if he needs more seasoning to sound slick enough for broadcast, what better format than a podcast? I think this is a great platform to give relatively unknown but interesting people both exposure and some practice.

I will say just on a logistical note that I would rather this podcast had been broken into two pieces. It's easier in terms of time management if they had been broken up and it's not like the two segments were so tied together that you couldn't have done that.

3:00 PM, April 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Helen,

I think you and Glenn need to do a 2nd amendment show. Start with CCW (Concealed carry permits) and how, despite the wailing cries of the gun control crowd - the streets will run red with blood!!", the citizens of each state that has been granted shall issue status have conducted themselves quite well. I live in CA and am not trusted with one, probably because I'm not rich and well-connected enough. Some suggestions for guests - Sen Diane Feinstein - ask her about her permit, Sean Penn - ask how he managed to get a permit to carry in Marin county despite having criminal convictions for spousal abuse, the current president of the NRA - I can't remember her name, and some bloggers who are pro-2nd amendment.
Thanks for the great work you and your husband do on so many subjects.

3:39 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Bill from Northern Ca.,

Great idea for a show--thanks.

3:48 PM, April 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Greg should get his own podcast, and see if three million people want to hear what he has to say.

But given that he's stuck parasitizing his betters' blogs with dumbass comments, I think we already know the answer.

6:26 PM, April 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent idea, Anonymous 6:26! The more free speech, the better!

Of course, it is a lot more work to put a blog together, set up podcasts, and so forth...than to sit back and criticize and pontificate.

I hope that Dr. Kuperberg gets his own blog. Heck, I'll bet that Dr. Helen will link to it!

"Eric Blair"

11:20 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

I guess I should have come earlier to say that Michael Totten's blog is great, but on the podcast his volume was way too low.

I also think 2 or 3 separate podcasts would be better than one.

And I thank you both, again, for doing the shows.

12:19 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for your suggestions and for listening.

3:11 PM, April 25, 2006  
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