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Rosie Right

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English as a Second LanguageIt's going to be a long, hard political year. It would be easier for everyone if the candidates and members of Congress would speak English. Instead, the debates and discussions are often littered with bureaucratic-ese that is mostly understood by Washington insiders. We're getting used to some of these terms, so it's a good guess that most of us could follow a discussion of and even express an opinion about the following:

AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children);

BPD (Bureau of the Public Debt);

HFCA (Health Care Financing Administration);

DINO (Democrat in name only, think Sen. Joe Lieberman) and its twin RINO (Republican in name only, think former Sen. Lincoln Chafee);

GAO (Government Accountability Office); and,

WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

But when we come to the war in Iraq, the lid is off Pandora's box. A friend who works in Washington has sent me an analysis of the way the insiders speak of developments there:

"Well, the worst are the military, who only seem able to talk in acronyms. It's true for weapons systems: There's a new radio project known as JTTRS (or 'jitters'). The folks trying to stop IEDs have an organization called JIEDDO (for Joint IED Defeat Organization). In Iraq, MNF-I (or "minify," which stands for Multi-National Force) is fighting against JAM, which is shorthand for the Jaish al-Mahdi (or Mahdi Army) of Moqtada Sadr. And also against AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq), which used to be kown as AQIZ (Al Qaeda in Iraq-Zarkawi) until we killed Z. We like the INIS (Iraqi National Intelligence Service), but we hate the IIS Saddam's old Iraqi Intelligence Service. And heaven help us if we encounter the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps)."

No wonder it's hard to tell what's going on!

For a daunting list of government acronyms, go to http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/psref.html, an Indiana University site.

Let Rosie hear from you by e-mail (rozanne.epps@styleweekly.com), by telephone (358-0825, ext. 322) or by regular mail (c/o Style Weekly, 1707 Summit Ave., Suite 201, Richmond, VA 23230).

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