Sweet Nothings

The Fray speaks out on Hershey.

Candyman II: Farewell to the Cash: The Moneybox Fray discussion of Daniel Gross’ piece on the meltdown of the Hershey sale started slowly but has picked up since it was featured. Food-industry consultant-types pondered the fate of family-owned companies here while Baltimore Aureole ridiculed the idea of diversification behind the sale here:

good thing the hershey trustees didn’t sell the company in 2000 … to satisfy Gross’ diversification mandate, they might have invested the proceeds in Enron, WorldCom, AOL Time Warner, Tyco, Lucent. were there any winners over the past 2 years?

Thomas’ detailed post on the legalfracases of the Hershey Trust board of managers is as interesting a story as he claims, particularly the part where the managers claim they can’t spend all the money the trust makes now.

Entr’Acte: Also in the Moneybox Fray is the nascent discussion of CEO second acts. Captain Ron Voyage stuck up for F. Scott Fitzgerald here:

Ivan Boesky, Ross Perot, Fawn Hall, David Stockman, G. Gordon Liddy, the “Where’s the Beef?” Lady, Adnan Khashoggi, “Dan & Dave”, Robin Leach, Shannen Doherty, the “Bartles & Jaymes” guys, Spiro Agnew, McLean Stevenson, Dan Rostenkowski, the XFL, Edwin Meese, Disco Duck and MC Scat Kat. What do they all have in common? They’re all people who committed unspeakable crimes against the American people (usually in the name of money), and they have all had absolutely no “second act” whatsoever.I would suggest not being so sanguine about Kenneth Lay. Evidence suggest there are plenty of bad boys with no second acts out there, we just can’t remember who they are. The second acts (even Milken) are the ones with discernible talent, of which Mr. Lay appears (along with Mr. Winnick) to have none.

Dontcha think? In the Poems Fray, the usually interesting discussion of the poem of the week (“ Prayer Meeting“) includes a veritable Niagara of ironing puns here … 9:40 a.m. 

Thursday, Sept. 19, 2002   Let’s call the calling-off off: The Nuclear vs. Nucular Explainer went up on, and the posts poured into the Explainer Fray. While most posters (like, say, William Blake here) thought this quibble was simply another and more pitiful front in Slate’s war on Bush’s lexicon (joining up with Bushisms), at least a couple saw it as a defense of linguistic sloppiness ( here and here)—a way of allowing lazy Americans to crawfish out of their obligation to the mother tongue. (No one saw Bush as a Bloomian strong poet.) Mrachmuth got the joke here:

Webster’s Dictionary explains President Bush’s speech: Much, if not most, of what the President says, in both manner and substance, is “questionable and unacceptable.”

Total quality fraying: One of the great things about the Explainer Fray is that people who really know what they are talking about can advance or qualify the explanation, and since the point of the Explainer in the first place is to reduce a problem to a factual question and answer, the Fray seems to embody that magnificent moment in the old diagram of the scientific method where the arrow goes back up to the beginning: Pure feedback.

The best post to the War Games Explainer was Scipio’s here, which elaborated on the goals of a war game for both strategic and tactical commanders and, along the way, made General Riper’s “victories” seem less impressive. A critical snippet from his long entry:

It’s great that General Riper found a way to defeat the blue forces. Big deal—I can score 25 goals a game on EA Sports NHL 2000, if I send Peter Forsberg behind the net to dish off to a Joe Sakic slapshot. My point is that the strategic goal of the war games isn’t using a trick to beat the computer’s logic, it’s addressing the dozen or two dozen most likely scenarios foreseen by the planners, think tankers and political leaders. It’s really important to remember the Army’s prime operational maxim: No plan survives contact with the enemy.

Ewing some, you lose some: In the Sports Nut Fray discussion of Hugo Lindgren’s “why Ewing never won a championship,” there were the usual debates (Ewing vs. other centers, why Pat Riley didn’t play Hubert Davis in Game 7 of the 1994 finals, etc.) and one post that seemed to cut through the hoo-hah. As Brian Disco Snell explained here, in an era of 30-team leagues, old rules no longer apply:

Mathematically, then, it is a plain fact that more and more star players will simply be unable to win championships during their careers. Therefore, to judge players of the ‘90s and ‘00s by the same “how many titles did he win” standard by which we discuss the players of the ‘60s is probably not appropriate. And to describe a lack of championships as a “curse” is really just a simplistic illusion that any star player is capable of winning the title, if only his character is good.

Perhaps this is the kind of emergency that requires Richard Bangs’ Ph.D. companions  … 7:00a.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2002  

This land is the land of ours: Avi Schick’s Jurisprudence piece pointed to “Blaine amendments” in state constitutions as a major roadblock for school vouchers proponents. In the Jurisprudence Fray, Meriadoc asked the logical follow-up questions: Does Ohio have a Blaine amendment? Does the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Cleveland’s voucher program trump it? Schick’s short answers here are yes and no. The most interesting part of the answer only confirms the importance ofstate court rulings to the future of school vouchers:

[T]he Ohio Supreme Court rejected the lower courts’ finding that Ohio’s “Blaine Amendment” was coextensive with the Establishment Clause. (This would have provided an easy way out for the court, because it had already decided that the program didn’t violate
the Establishment Clause) …[Instead] the court found that state funds don’t flow to private schools because the voucher checks are sent to parents and then signed over to the school. (The Florida court rejected that same argument as “elevating form over substance.”)

Schick provides text from the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Supreme Court opinion in the full post … 7:25 p.m.

Inspectors, gadgets: Ballot Box is atwitter as it weighs Saddam’s likely “conditions” and Saletan’s increasinglyhawkish rhetoric. (Saletan has been a common presence in the Ballot Box Fray of late. The funniest thread began here. Last week, Saletan’s harshest rebuttal came here. His posts have a salutary effect on the place.) The best threads began with Keep a ClearEye’s counterfactual post here—what if there are inspections but no weapons of mass destruction?—JackD’s post here, and Realist’s here:

Why assume that Hussein’s inspections offer is merely clever deceitfulness masquerading as a concession? Isn’t it more likely that Hussein is looking for middle ground that would allow him to save face, his rule, and ultimately keep his country at peace? He wants to negotiate. Bush doesn’t. Bush’s tough guy strategy may backfire because he makes his adversary look more reasonable than he is by refusing to talk things over.

In the mood for a complete review of U.S. foreign policy? Check out David Garver’s superb long post here and the thread that follows.

Dr. Phil or Phil’s Dr.’s?: marylb, America’s lone Donahue viewer, started an excellent discussion of the waitress/doctors and terrorist tipping here.

Yellow lines and dead Frays: Thus far people have nothing to say about this week’s Book Club, Middlesex. So dust off your copies of Myra Breckenridgeand S/Z, your DVD’s of Hedwig and Boys Don’t Cry,and get Fraying  …

Deep Impacts: Although the Fraying may have been rather thin to open the week, be prepared for a tsunami of scintillating new content, which will keep me and, I hope, you awash in superior posts … 8:15 a.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2002  

New and improved!: The Ad Report Card Fray—now with more Baudrillard!!! here.

City on the make: The Diary Fray  continues to be a place for great debates. Try some of the featured posts at the bottom of Kalven’s second entry … 9:05 p.m. 

Candyman, Candyman, Candyman … : As the new week of Fraying gets underway, it’s clear the Diary Fray discussion of Jamie Kalven’s work in a Chicago Housing Authority high-rise will be one of the best for several reasons—great writing, great photos, a contentious public policy debate seen from the inside, and what promises to be regular Fray contributions from Kalven’s colleague, David Eads. You can check his first post here and his MBTU for subsequent posts. (Forewarning: Any discussion of people receiving public assistance will draw vicious, racist posts. Try to navigate around those; I will try to keep the Fray relatively tidy.)

Opera-tion: The panel of Sopranos-watching psychologists aside, Mitch had the best welcome back Tony post in the Sopranos discussion here:

Seems like the writers for these highbrow series weary of their success even before the audiences; remember St.Elsewhere’s cheesy descent into Twilight Zone mystico-weird in their last season? The season opener suggests a more post-modern fate for Tony, as the Family deconstructs into a garden-variety NYC/NJ business struggling to turn a profit in the post-9-11 environment, and the CEO struggles with the age-old difficulties of estate planning for the cash-basis (non)taxpayer. Tony’s losing the last mythic Godfather overtones, as the musical underpinnings shift from operatic to techno-punk …

J Gayles went expressionist here—can someone verify? Mels started a death poll here—who’s next to get it? And can someone answer AngeliqueArnold’s obsessional question here: what was sticking out the top of Tony’s bathrobe? (All of these are in the TV Club Fray.)

Jargon of Authenticity: In the “maybe a little conformity wouldn’t be so bad in this case” department: AdamMorgan’s post to the Ad Report Card Fray here4:40 a.m.

Monday, Sept. 16, 2002  

Morons and oxys: The Assessment Fray pivoted around a single phrase in Chris Suellentrop’s piece on Tony Blair: “American liberal elites and intellectuals.” Several Fraysters took issue (see my picks), but the best discussion began when Herb 323 contended that there are intellectuals who “DO NOT view Bush as a cowboy.” He quickly ran into Keith M. Ellis, who pegged him as “sadly typical of the reflexive find-something-to-be-offended-with mentality so typical on the Fray.”

Sullentrop’s characterizations of American intellectuals as being leftist is beyond dispute. Not just in the sense that it’s true, but also in the sense that no one disputes it….Conservatives tend to rant incessantly about the leftist bias in academia and the arts. Conservative Americans tend more toward the traditional American distrust of intellectualism which sees calling someone an “intellectual” as more of an insult than a compliment. You can’t have it both ways…

And yet despite this opening salvo, both moderated their positions later in the thread …

Elocution envy: While Shari Ward was among many to suggest “Blair in ‘04,” dikstr took a more corporate approach, wondering if the U.S. could “merge” with Great Britain.

A:B::C:D: The analogies section of the SAT may be history, but Zathras fights on. Find out why he thinks “Blair is to Bush, in short, as Thatcher was to Reagan and MacMillan to Kennedy,” here.

Subj: Unsubscribe: The normally mellow Cagle Fray (which discusses editorial cartoons) erupted (well, not a Ballot-Box-style eruption, but still) when Cagle reposted some cartoons from 9/11/01. Ritual unsubscribes littered the board.

TV Club Whacked! Now that the panel of psychologists is back for the new Sopranos season, and the TV Club is on, the Fray may get clogged. In such situations, look for the posts from the first couple hours to find the best discussions. Late tonight, start looking for my picks … 2:15 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 13, 2002  

Ballot Box has been especially busy keeping up with Bush’s major policy statements: the NYT op-ed, the speech on Ellis Island, and the address to the U.N. Put all that into the Ballot Box Fray, where it runs into the boisterous background of party-bashing, political news flashes and polls (Q: Will there be a vote in the Senate  on war with Iraq?), and it can be hard Fraying. As usual, a time-constrained reader can simply View Fray Editor’s Picks (there are a passel) or go to any of the selections below. …

I. More government by op-ed: The Bell started perhaps the best Op-Ed thread here. Arrow read the piece as legitimate strategic thinking here:

Saletan is probably correct that the one thing of importance in “Bush“‘s essay is the addition of delivery capability to the criteria for pre-emptive military action. It suggests that the suitcase theory enunciated by Cheney and company is being given a well-deserved burial.

In contrast, Lee saw Bush becoming Clinton here:

Slowly, the president is expanding the appeal of his desire to invade Iraq. He’s trying to push everybody’s buttons by telling them Saddam threatens something they cherish. Shades of Bill Clinton!So, is he reaching out, or grasping at straws? Will he resort to humanistic, liberal ideas to justify toppling Saddam? Keep in mind that he snubbed his conservative/free market/libertarian friends with his action on steel tariffs. He could just as easily get all weepy & liberal if he thinks it would gain him the support he needs to whack Saddam.

Matt continued the rights discussion here.

II. Islands of influence: Walt was one of the few to single out the Ellis Island speech for scrutiny here:

Saletan has a very curious take:”Bin Laden won’t get the showdown he sought between Islam and Christianity.” Let’s hope not. But the Bush administration, by pounding the invade-Iraq war drum, seems to be attempting to precipitate exactly that. If we invade Iraq over the objections of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. won’t we be instigating such a showdown?

Of course, this was before the UN speech, and Bush’s newfound multilateralism.

III. U.N.-expected: After Bush’s speech to the U.N., Saletan made essentially John’s argument below (see Tuesday’s Fraywatch). The Slasher made it, too, but with the rhetoric ratcheted up here:

The Bush administration has developed what might be termed a “mad dog” approach to governance. Its initial approach to everything is so extreme that it horrifies everyone, but it digs in and defends it until it’s obvious that nobody is buying this, so then it scales back to a more reasonable position and acts as if it were “working with” those who called its bluff. My grandson, who is 6, does this too. However, we do not let him run the country just yet.

(Contrast this with Doubter’s thread on “manufacturing consent” here or Lee’s point above.)

More U.N.-expected was the chorus of support for Bush’s speech from both sides of the aisle in Ballot Box. Loran explained how he and Saletan had reached the same conclusion here:

Like Saletan, I keep asking why Iraq, why now, though? But I know the answer and so does he. While compared to historical precedent, a pre-emptive attack does seem to beg more motivation, it is clear that we can’t do business with Saddam. It’s not the terrorist nuclear threat supplied by him that worries us, it’s the theatre nuclear threat that would stymie large troop concentrations in an area of vital oil supply.

Still More UN-expected was the chorus of support forClinton’s appearance on Letterman. You can find pieces of it in Ballot Box (here) or Television (here) or you can go to the best discussion, the one begun by Adam Masin in the Best of The Fray Fray here

Haole rollers: The post-Blue Crush sociologizing turned into tourists vs. locals after Ender started this thread. His upshot?

Sorry if I don’t buy into the idea that life is somehow harder in paradise. The problem as I see it, paradise is not hard enough on the locals.

K House spoke for those trapped in paradise here:

You appear to have this idea of all of Hawaii being paradise, and paradise being too good to the locals, and the money obviously flowing in to the economy because you spent some cash. But, just like the movie and all other movies about Hawaii, you have a false impression about the place. There’s an interior to the island that’s hidden from the tourists that would stun you. …

Common law and order: The Dear Prudence letter that generated the most response by far was In a Quandary’s. (She wondered what to call hersignificant other.) Prudie had no definitive answer, so Gamebird offered one here.

What I sometimes do, rude though it is, is simply call them husband and wife. After all, they are living together, they are having sex in a committed and exclusive relationship, they are common law married in many states.It annoys the heck out of the people involved though and I tend not to do it if I care about their feelings. However, I tend not to care about their feelings if they are unwilling to commit to the person they are shagging. After all, I’m lower on the totem pole than their sex buddy. …

(If you think that’s harsh, try this one or this.) Doodahman, in his weekly “two cents” noted sagely that “the words ‘common law’ have the same effect on the word ‘wife’ that ‘special’ has on the word ‘Olympics.’

DP always has several sui-generis threads at least as rewarding as the letters in the column. Stunned’s boyfriendforgot her name here. …

Discussting: After several eminently sensible complaints, the Discuss button at the top of the Slate home page has been re-linked to the general Fray Topics  page … 12:45 p.m.