Fraysters go sociolinguist on the president.

Fraysters go sociolinguist on the president.

Fraysters go sociolinguist on the president.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
May 5 2004 7:41 PM

The Language of Apology

Fraysters go sociolinguist on the president.

English-Arabic Phrasebook: By trade, zinya is a sociolinguist; so it is the phraseology of President Bush's comments on Arab television that concerns her, specifically his use of the phrase, "The Iraqi people must understand…":

Saying to ANYONE, 'You must understand...' is a conscious or unconscious formulation which puts the onus on the listener, seeks to suggest that it is YOU, the listener, who has a problem here, YOU don't fully understand something. This is the kind of formulation which BASIC, BASIC diplomatic language awareness should teach ANYONE is NOT the language of 'winning friends and influencing people.'

For zinya, the problem runs much deeper than mere pragmatics:

It captured EXACTLY what is most dangerous about Bush's non-diplomacy and inflammatory 'governance' -- He always thinks it's just a question of arm-wrestling others into seeing HIS view of the world... And nothing captures it more incisively than launching a talk to Iraqis with "You MUST understand..."

For zinya's complete post, click here. In the same thread, Steve_R offers a really interesting take on Bush's address:

I suspect that Bush was speaking more to the American electorate through the Arab media. That is, I think Bush may have been more concerned with perceptions here in this country that he was 'doing something' about the situation and defending our 'good intentions' in Iraq, more so than communicating to Iraqis and others in the Arab world that he was actually confronting the issue of prisoner mistreatment.

Was Bush trying to mollify the Arab world or merely answering his stateside critics? Sound off here.

Homage to Babylonia: Zathras rips off a solid post here in The Book Club Fray in response to a dialogue hosted by Niall Ferguson and Robert Kagan. In case you missed it, Zathras wrestles with the classification and nomenclature of "empire":

The various people talking about an American empire mean at least three different things by it.

One is the traditional American view of empire, in which an empire is only such if it claims the right to occupy indefinitely territory of a country not an integral part of itself…

A second is the use of "empire" and "imperialism" as a pejorative, along the lines that George Orwell though the word "fascism" was used after World War II. America is disliked, imperialism is bad, therefore America is an empire…

Gaddis, Mead, and Kagan seem to be circling around a third view, trying to define an academic definition of imperialism that would identify commonalities between America now and empires of the past without necessarily saying they represent exactly the same thing…

For a more comprehensive discussion of Z's taxonomy — particularly the third definition which "prompts us to think about our country's position in the world today in a historical context," click hereKA 4:35 p.m.

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Monday, May 3, 2004

What's free game in electoral politics? Should we give pols a pass on all dorm room misbehavior? Anything they say, do, fail to do, ingest, inhale, and throw over a fence prior to the Big 3-0? Is there a statute of limitations on political attacks? TheAList thinks so and presents the Fray with his " Thirty-Year Rules":

There has been much talk in this year's Presidential campaign about the military records of Bush and Kerry. It bears reminding that neither has served in the Armed Forces (to whatever extent) for three decades. It also bears reminding that none of this has anything to do with who will be a better President right now.

I have had it. Back in the day when Bush and Kerry were doing their duty, there used to be a saying "Never trust anyone over 30." With that in mind, here are my new "30" rules about running for President:

1) Unless you committed a serious felony for which you were convicted, wore a swastika or a white sheet over your head (excepting ghost-themed Halloween costumes worn ON Halloween), whatever bad or good you did before you were age 30 doesn't count.

2) Any political attack based on events more than 30 years ago, or based on events that occurred while the attackee was under age 30, should be ignored out of hand.

3) Any attack coming from an personal adversary of the attackee for more than 30 years should be ignored out of hand.

4) Any organization that is formed solely to serve as a vehicle to attack a candidate for events more than 30 years old should be ignored out of hand.

5) Any historical event more than 30 years old is not the proper subject for a current political campaign unless it involves discussing the merits of invading Russia in the winter. Anyone who ignores this rule should be ignored while discussing the subject.

6) Anyone who feels the need to bolster their character primarily by discussing what they did more than 30 years ago should make you wonder why they aren't discussing what good they have done in the 30 years since.

7) Anyone who knew the candidate more than 30 years ago but has not known the candidate in the 30 years since should be ignored.

8) Anyone whose current version of events 30 or more years old is substantially different than it was 30 years ago should be ignored now.

9) Any reasonable political position/affiliation more than 30 years old should be ignored (see Rule 1, above). Anyone who accuses the candidate of flip-flopping based on the 30 year plus old position should be shot in the knees within five days.

10) Anyone who votes based primarily on what a candidate did 30 or more years ago should get over him/herself.

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Friday, April 30, 2004

Assassin of the Day: We should've seen it coming.

Earlier this week, Ang_Cho relation chango jumped to the defense of Paris Hilton and Tammy Faye Baker. So it's no surprise that he rips Jill Hunter Pellettieri ("All Those Teen Actresses") as

guilty of the very vices she pretends to admonish in the industry by oversexualizing these actresses—judging them based upon their age, beauty (and wealth) without reference to their CAREERS.

The meat of Ang_Cho's post, in which Pellettieri is most guilty of objectification:

In other words, they do not EARN their wealth, but have somehow ensnared "as a select crew of older men cultivating their inner Humberts" and audiences out of millions of dollars by using their "orangey tan, fake blond hair, too-trendy fringe, and football-player eyeliner." This is the Biblical imagery of the Harlot par excellance, and Pellettieri is the Angry God who wishes them the Hollywood equivalent of eternal damnation: "by starring in second-rate Broadway shows."

This is not an assessment: it is a moral condemnation of (presumed and projected) female sexuality, and it is Pellettieri who is the real Humbert.

The_Curmudgeon reserves judgment on Pellettieri and instead points out that

what's really changed is that little girls adore these girls. In the typical eight-year-old girl's bedroom, you'll find posters of Hilary/Amanda/Something-Olsenish. Thirty years ago, there'd be posters of Donny/Bobby/Keith. Twenty years ago, there was Kirk/Something-Corey.

Are we entering the era of same-sex idolatry whereby teen boys worship Eminem and their female counterparts are all over the girls?  Enter Assessment Fray by clicking here.

Of Canadian Makin': Juno notes Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's proposal for a version 2.0 United Nations, so to speak:

The G-20 platform that Martin has proposed includes representation from North and South, East and West, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist as well as obviously including the most powerful nations in the world from an economic and military perspective.

HLS2003 finds the proposal "fascinating," but presents a few potential pitfalls here, including the "perceived hegemony by Western industrial powers." GaryWmoderate attests here that "The UN, for all of its faults, is far more effective than people give credit," but concedes that on issues of "security and trade," the idea may have some merit … KA6:15 p.m.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Fraysters are at a crossroads on Iraq. Is the sky falling—or is that merely disinformation? Do we partition Iraq, or mount another offensive assault? 

Subject: "Partition Would Be a Disaster"
Re:        "Kurd Sellout Watch, Day 421: Should we partition Iraq?"
From:     dan_k
Date:     Tue Apr 27 2326h

From the safety of the United States, partition seems like an easy, relatively painless solution. Noah says that the worst that will happen is that we would give up on making Iraq a democratic state, establishing the rule of law, avoiding theocracy and ending violence in the Sunni regions. Yet we would be giving the Iraqi people their "natural" borders, supposedly rectifying the mistakes of 80 years ago.

Unfortunately, partition is never so clean and would inevitably result in far more bloodshed than anything we have seen so far. It's easy to talk about the Kurdish north, the Sunni triangle and the Shi'a south, but boundaries between ethnic groups are blurred and hard to define. Where exactly would we draw the borders between our new states? Would the Sunnis or the Kurds get Kirkuk and Mosul? Why should any side that is unhappy accept our borders? The Sunnis are fairly heavily armed and they certainly disagree that they have no oil to speak of. Why wouldn't they fight to keep what they feel is theirs? In any event, why would the Kurds and the Shi'a agree to share oil revenues with their former overlords?

Even more importantly, any borders would inevitably leave communities stuck on the wrong side. What happens to Shi'a who find themselves in Sunni territory, or vice versa? They would find themselves pressured to leave their homes and move to "their" homeland. It would not be long before roving armed gangs began to ethnically cleanse their territory, either by forcing members of minority ethnicities to become refugees or simply by killing them…

 Partition is inevitably tragic. Yugoslavia, India and Pakistan, Ireland, Cyprus, Israel and others should all serve as warnings of the dangers. Czechoslovakia is a unique example, but it was a democratic state that chose to divide amicably along clear, existing internal administrative boundaries without complaint by either ethnic group.

It is also a mistake to think that partition is necessary. All borders are artificial and no state is, in fact, populated by a single nation. It is not inevitable that different communities will go to war. We simply never hear about those that do not. For example, after the fall of communism, those who argue that ethnic differences make conflict inevitable would be hard pressed to explain why Hungarians and Romanians did not fight in Transylvania, or why Russian minorities in the Baltics were not cleansed, or why Tartars in Russia did not demand independence. Each of these communities had long histories of bloody conflict. Even Germany is an example, since it was created less than 150 years ago out of a mixed bag of Protestant and Catholic states, states with centuries of history of sectarian conflict.

Partition is an unacceptable solution to Iraq. It would guarantee the civil war that we would seek to prevent and result in a disaster rivaling that in Yugoslavia and every drop of blood spilt would also be on our hands.


Subject
: "The Fallujah Dilemma?"
Re:        "The Fallujah Dilemma: If the Marines attack, we can no longer pretend the war is over."
From:     RANGER82
Date:     Wed Apr 28 0904h

Personally I refuse to accept the concept of a real dilemma. There is always a better or best solution.

Last week I spoke for several hours with a Master Sergeant just returned from Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. The division was sponsoring 160 soceer teams in their area, the University of Mosul is up and running with sixteen functioning colleges. There are schools reopened and the power is on. This belies Mr. Kaplan's vision of iminent disaster.

The perspective of the soldier on the ground is that there are two problem areas in Iraq, Baghdad and Fallujah. Fallujah is in fact nicknamed the "Wild West" as it is just west of Baghdad.

Fallujah is a problem but it is not the entire country nor does what is happening there represent the entire situation. The concept of the Sunnis and Shiites really uniting is ridiculous. Sadr's thugs are using some Taliban tactics, like harassing women who are not completely covered. Sadr needs to be contained. Fallujah has to be defeated, different situations but hardly a doomsday scenario.

Subject: "Boobs, F*cking, War, and Congress"
From:     run75441
Date:     Mon Apr 26 1151h

The road to "Decency" on the public networks is paved with many good intentions. Meant to prevent the reoccurrence of the half time display of public nudity(?) by Janet Jackson, the new rules as proposed by the House impose stiffer fines on not only the station but also the performer (Senate Bill) if deemed necessary … For those of you that are catching up on this, Stern is the leading violator of the old Decency laws to a tune of ~$1.4 million dollars … U2 singer Bono got quite a bit of attention for his use of the words "f*cking brilliant" in the 2003 Golden Globe Ceremonies.

As a result, more shows are removing scenes that can be construed as indecent such as cleavage in The American Experience documentary "Emma Goldman" on PBS. I can hardly imagine running the movie "Roots" without some form of fuzziness covering up the breasts that are shown in the early parts of it … Most recently in Kalamazoo, Michigan; one radio announcer lost his position due to political commentary WKZO."…

It is funny how a TV network shows a little nipple on the big 48" boob screen and Congress will leap into action with new rules, regs and fines to be used by the FCC. Congress finds that dress codes on TV are important, when more cleavage can be seen and is exposed in many high schools …They are more concerned over "f*cking brilliant" being stated on the air when it is blasé at most schools and mouthed frequently by 8 year olds. Yet we can not seem to get them to react to Unemployment benefits to tide people over until the next wave of jobs (promised for the last year and a half now) show up. They can not seem to understand the crisis faced by the millions of people that lack medical insurance. Maybe if Donald Trump said: "You are F*cking Fired You Boob", maybe then Congress would take note of the issues faced by the millions out of work…

A hidden amendment to these new rules for the FCC (House Bill) would limit the concentration of media stations under one owner (which was passed by the FCC on a 3 to 2 vote in June 2003). The Senate version would freeze the concentration allowance until the FCC could undertake a study.[ Forbes ]." Censorship coupled with something good. Something for everyone! …

Subject: "Judicial Precedent v. Practiced Deceit"
Re:        "I've Got a Secret: Dick Cheney's absolute right to know and not tell."
From:     JimmytheCelt
Date:     Wed Apr 28 0804h

From the transcripts I've seen, it looks as if a majority of the Justices are wary about giving the plaintiffs a victory that might reduce the inclination of the Executive Branch to seek outsider advice. And, you know, it's a bona-fide concern; one can recognize the chilling effects of hyper-process-ism.

So there's that jurisprudential issue, which will probably be decided in favor of the Administration.

And then there's the political issue. Under the guise of creating a non-partisan task force to dispassionately assess national energy policy, the Administration basically got a bunch of carbon-fuel cronies to sit around a table and write a preposterously self-serving, anti-environmental subsidy wish list. It was all a cynical fraud. If the court cases serve to expose that fact, all to the good.

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Monday, April 26, 2004

Warmonger? You? Traditional Bush administration critics Thrasymachus and PresterJohn can't get aboard Fred Kaplan's anti-nuke program in War Stories ("Our Hidden WMD Program: Why Bush is spending so much on nuclear weapons.").

Thrasymachus puts it this way:

Defense is about deterrence. And deterrence is about instilling fear. The American nuclear arsenal, I submit, is literally the scariest thing on Earth. Given the hundreds of billions of dollars this country spends on defense every year, 6 billion seems like a reasonable amount to spend to have the most horrifying thing on Earth at your disposal.

RMolineaux answers T in Hegelian fashion by stating, "More military force will only create more terrorism." More from RM:

We have staring us in the face the inevitable result of excess military power - the temptation to use it foolishly…

With the overwhelming military advantages of the U.S., combined with the weaknesses of human nature, misadventures like Iraq become inevitable. The temptations of military power are overwhelming. The illusion that all political problems can be solved by military force becomes compellingly fashionable. Into this pathological mix, we are now adding nuclear weapons.

PJ, in agreeing with Thrasymachus, dovetails his argument into a larger critique of Bush fiscal policy.  For PJ…

The real problem seems to be the one that always plagues us - how to allocate scarce resources. For instance, the recent debate about the draft has shed light on a long-known fact - our military is too small to do what we expect it to do. In fact, we are not spending enough on the military, if we want to maintain our status as a hyperpower.

The solution? Click here

Forget Goteborg: FrayEditor — whose first automobile was a 1979 Volvo with 90,000 miles and a couple of temperamental fuses — found this aesthetic assassination, inspired by Toby Young's Wednesday Diary entry, amusing.  And as an Angeleno, FrEd was similarly entertained by Fraysters' reactions to Young's culinary choices while trolling around Los Angeles. Check out oldie here on Young's veneration of the *&@#^* Cheesecake Factory (and thanks to Auros-4 for linking up Diary Fraysters to Sara Dickerman's 2002 piece, "Battle of the Middlebrow Chains.")

Want Ads:  For Hire — attorney/improv comic-cum-advice columnist with penchant for scathing political commentary and a pathological disgust for Christopher Hitchens seeks overseas assignment for current affairs e-zine:

For a term life insurance policy, and $20,000 plus expenses, they can send me to Iraq, and I will get into Fallujah and/or Najaf. I'll stay there a minimum of three months, up to six months, and then see what happens…

I'll need cash for an interpreter, a WIFI lap top and other communication stuff (I'll bring it back), a camera and about ten days to bone up on Iraqi social customs and some detail stuff. I'll need a lot of baksheesh. Other than that, I'm completely able and capable….

Do I think you guys would entertain this offer? Well, why the fuck not? It'll be good publicity for the Slate and the Fray. It's peanuts in terms of cash. And none of you have to risk any of your precious asses. And if any Slate hack wants to go too, that's fine with me. Send Hitchens along-- he'll be easy to hide behind…

Who's the applicant? Click hereKA10:15 a.m.