So Much for the Afterglow?

Considering that I have long thought the Bush Administration was based on the works of either Philip K Dick, Franz Kafka or George Orwell, I’m as happy as Brendan about the new Congress. But I’m such a party pooper I immediately started wondering how the Democrats are going to introduce a whole new strain of screw ups. There’s the “Democrats that might as well be Republicans” meme floating out there, but then I realized that there’s a very clear example of how they’ll be annoying. I have two words for you: “China”, and “Schumer”.

Slate points out that economic nationalism is a potentially popular issue for the new Democratic majority. Senator Elect Sherrod Brown, replacement for the noxious Mike DeWine, wrote “Myths of Free Trade”, which is on the Lou “Red China” Dobbs must-read list.

As Jacob Weisburg points out “For some reason, economic nationalists never seem to complain about job-killing Dutch or Irish competition. The targets of their anger are consistently China and Mexico, with occasionally whacks at Dubai, Oman, Peru, and Vietnam.”

Mind you, I’m not a believer in pure free trade. I’m more with what Weisburg describes as “Clinton’s argument”, which “was always that government should address the negative consequences of open trade through worker retraining programs and by providing benefits not tied to employers, like health care and portable pensions.” Tariffs are just kneejerk, and involve a whole branch of fearmongering that is closely related to Arab port deals and Spanish national anthems. And besides being an exercise in nationalist hysteria, those advocating these measures can’t even put together a cogent argument for them.

A great example of this sort of grandstanding and the incoherent arguments that go with it, one need look no further than Chuck Schumer. Bob Dole, one of the funniest elected officials of recent times, accurately quipped “the most dangerous place to be in Washington is between Chuck Schumer and a camera”. Schumer and his buddy Lou Costello – I mean Lindsey Graham – were in Beijing in March get tough on the greatest threat to American lives at the time, Chinese manufacturing. I didn’t know there were IED factories in Guangzhou, but Chuck Schumer gets to see the intelligence reports I guess. Well, Schumer will have at least one new “Lou Dobbs Democrat” with him in the Senate. How many more will there be? Could this be on track to be a 2008 issue?

Just to point out I’m not alone in my opinion:

“Shanghaiist called it a long, long, looooong time ago: Senator Chuck Schumer is a blithering idiot.”


“They couldn’t remembe vice premier Wu Yi’s name, whom they had just been meeting half an hour ago, (“one tough lady, she would do well in an American courtroom, I like her a lot” was all they could muster), and two and a half years after raising that sorryass China-bashing bill of theirs, Schumer still couldn’t get his pronunciation right (“yuan” with a Y instead of “won” with a W, Chinese instead of Korean currency, your Senatorial High-ness).”

Non Violent Resistance

Ah well, at least it doesn’t involve a secret prison system or bunker busters.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

I don’t get too upset about them misprouncing Chinese names, but the next time I hear ANY American misprouncing Maria Sharapova’s name, I’m reaching for my gun.

(General rule: In Russian, more often than not, the second syllable of most words or names are accented, eg, “Maria Shar-AH-pah-vah.” Similarly, my name is pronounced, “ee-VAHN.”)

November 9, 2006 @ 6:38 pm | Comment

Damn, now that I think more, my above comment about accenting the second syllable has too many exceptions. It tends to apply more to words of 3 or more syllables, but even then, maybe not.

I think it’s more of an intuitive sense one gets of the language’s metres and intonations. Even if I read an unfamiliar Russian word I can generally figure out which syllables to accent. The best way to describe it is a general tendency of Russian to rise ah-UP in a declamatory way, and then fall after it makes its point. It’s not so much, “up-down-up-down”, but more like: “short ascending grace note (often the first syllable) going ahh-UP (then sustain in a quavering plateau), and descend gently.

Simple example, “y’ NYE PONI-MAH-yu” (and the third syllable would be strongest of all.)

Actually I think such patterns tell you a lot about national character. Russian communication/behaviour TENDS to begin softly and then segue into a strongly held statement (of whatever kind) and the soften again at the end – which is also how they do diplomacy as well as war. In contrast, I’ve heard (from an expert) that the Hungarian language ALWAYS accents the first syllable and then descends, and this is how Hungarians tend to think and behave.

(Dave, sorry for digressing from the topic of your thread. I’ll delete this if you want me to.)

November 9, 2006 @ 7:00 pm | Comment

The Weisberg article [or else another I read in the FT this morning] brought up Pelosi’s fierce record on Chinese HR violations and her other PRC fixations.

The Doha Follow-Up appears doomed, and fast-track will also disappear.

On another side of the coin, the newly elected Dems are so anti-immigrant that the Bush/Pelosi/McCain Wall Street Journal New York Times amnesty bill might still have problems in the House.

November 9, 2006 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

@Ivan: I don’t mind the digression. But I thought you would at least throw in a dig at Schumer.

@Daveinboca: yknow, I’ve been thinking, if 9-11 hadn’t happened, what foreign enemy would the likes of Michelle Malkin being shrieking about? I can see a whole alternate universe now…

November 9, 2006 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

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