Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

An email conversation about the news of the day.
Oct. 26 1998 2:15 PM

Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

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Barbara,

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Reading the newspapers Monday mornings is like waking up with a hangover. They're filled with the aftereffects of excess, stupidity, and misadventure.

I don't know which category the latest Palestinian--Israeli agreement falls under, but all the papers this morning are mopping up on the story. I have the impression these parties have been negotiating and signing agreements most of my adult life, and I'm beginning to wonder if they won't be doing the same when my grandchildren will have grown as decrepit as I am. This latest pact strikes me as being as inherently unstable as its predecessors. Look at the map of the territory to be controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and what you see are a constellation or two of unconnected fly specks and paint dribbles. If the idea that a national state of some-kind is to grow out of this collection of dribs and drabs, dream on.

The new wrinkle is that the CIA is to ensure that armed nasties are not to enter Israeli territory. Once again the United States assumes a world cop role of indefinite but prolonged duration. The cost of these commitments is small, but where they lead over time is unknowable. Most astonishing is that the Israelis and the Palestinians would accept the CIA in this role, given the suspicions that the Agency is a nest of incompetents, drunks and traitors for hire at cheap wages to foreign powers or private companies in need of a little unreliable information.

Other important Monday morning news items include one from the New York Daily News, explaining that "Patricia Duff, the estranged wife of New York's richest man, Ronald Perelman, is switching horses for another court joust in an agonizing divorce battle." The horses in question are her lawyers. It appears that a reported $50 million a year in alimony is insufficient to take care of her needs and those of her whelp, a young female with the unlikely moniker of Caleigh. Apparently, the attorneys she has been using haven't been able to come up with enough additional spondulicks to cover the cost of around-the-clock bodyguards for the child in question. Not that I have much grief for Sen. Perelman, but the quote of the day may be Ms. Duff's remark that, "I haven't done anything to [Ronald]....My other divorces were easy." Well, we'll have to get a take on that from the two previous husbands.

And one last item for your delectation from the New York Post's Page Six. It is reported there in all seriousness that a chanteuse starring in Disney's Beauty and the Beast is being stalked by some chap who says he wants to be alone with her. Is this a police matter or are things slumping at the box office, with the consequent danger of Toni Braxton being alone with herself at the Palace Theater?

Please have a productive news day.

Barbara Ehrenreich is contributing editor at theProgressiveand author of several books, including Blood Rites. Nicholas von Hoffman is a columnist at theNew York Observer. His books include We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us Against.