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Jan. 30 2002 2:02 PM

A Black Market for Politicos

What do U2, plagiarism, and moist toilet paper have in common? They produced great Frays this week—scroll through and read the Fray Notes at the end of the articles. Unsurprisingly, Enron was the other big topic, yet again …

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Subject: Don't Even Bother Trying
Re: "Chatterbox: Blaming Liberalism for Enron"
From: Will Allen
Date: Wed Jan 23  11:06 a.m. PT

Just as legal efforts to quell the demand of millions of drug users are doomed to failure, the legal efforts to quell the demand of millions of citizens to seek favor from elected officials will be doomed to failure. People do not see influencing politicians by helping them be re-elected as a fundamentally illegitimate act, in the manner that they see bank robbery as such, therefore any regime you cook up to prevent it will be relentlessly, successfully, evaded, just as attempts to prevent drug use are relentlessly, successfully evaded. Furthermore, the more you attempt to make illegal that activity that millions of citizens wish to engage in, the more the valuable will become those third parties that help in the effort. It really is simple black market behavior…

[Find this post here.]

Subject: Liberals Who Can Count
Re: "Frame Game: Enron Evasions"
From: Charlie Heath
Date: Wed Jan 23  5:04 p.m. PT

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I suspect the political reach of the Enron scandal will depend on a couple things. First, are there any good journalists on the liberal side of the spectrum that can understand the numbers and the political processes bought? Second, can they translate that into something with mainstream legs? Since this just involves money and politics, the Republican Party has a chance of escaping with only minor damage.

[Find this post here.]

Subject: Don't Kill the Messenger
Re: "Foreigners: Kill the Messenger"
From: Michael Maiello
Date: Tue Jan 22 9:51 a.m. PT

So, you disagree with what they cover and how they cover it—that doesn't make a media outlet into a legitimate military target. There's no point in talking about freedom of expression if there's not freedom to have an opinion. Besides, if we follow Anne [Applebaum]'s lead here, Fox News might be in trouble.

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Subject: Spirituality Without Church

Re: "Assessment: U2, Their Vague Majesties of Rock"

From: Riccaric

Date: Fri Jan 25  5:50 p.m. PT

U2 is only vague from a political perspective that associates taking a stand with advocating a specific position as "right" and "good" or condemning somebody or some person as "wrong." However, one of the effects of their music is profoundly political, and that is to marginalize organized religion. Through U2's music, someone can be spiritual without converting to a specific faith … [and] without participating in the rituals of any church. Given that the anger and violence associated with religious militancy is much of what's wrong with the world, providing an extremely attractive alternative to organized religion is, in fact, a profoundly political act.

[Find this post here.]

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Fray Notes:

Stars this week go to Charlie Heath—see above; an elusive poster but, like recent star Mfbenson, always good on financial matters; to Latina, one of the most popular posters on "Ballot Box"; to two "Poems" Fraysters, Martin Greene and Contempo, in recognition of their great work there; and to Kurl, whose hilariously Fraycentric take on taxes amused many this week. Meanwhile, Todd T took his stand: "If I ever get a star, please shoot me." He thinks stars lose their ability to make good insults. (We disagree.) Bluto tried to cast The Fray Movie here and got more than 150 comments.

A splendid idea from Butterscotch: He ran the State of the Union pool, asking Fraysters to predict how many times certain words would come up in the speech. He should be announcing the winner soon.

Ted Widmer in "The Book Club" commented on strange pairings of biographer and subject; which prompted Kassandra to start a thread in which Fraysters invented book titles such as Johann Sebastian Bach by the Spice Girls. And the real subject of the Fray—the biography of Martin Luther King Jr.—produced good things, too.

Strange Pairings No. 2: Arthur Stock has suggested this contest: "Explain why you believe any two Fraysters, who do not regularly talk to each other, are actually the same person. E.g., WSBA and ghost of a-z. Variant can be one Frayster and one Slatester, such as Scott Shuger and Marti." It's hard to think any entry could come up with better pairs (Marti ends her posts "Peace"; we like to think Scott will start adding this closing to his posts), but we trust Fraysters will try.