The Defamation of Independents


Jacob Sullum's great column this morning on President Obama's broken tax pledge, and his brazen way of abusing the English language in order to falsely insist that he hasn't and won't continue to break it, reminds me of a laughable but unfortunately typical op-ed this weekend from the New York Times' Thomas L. Friedman. Excerpt:


How is it that a president who has taken on so many big issues, with very specific policies — and has even been awarded a Nobel Prize for all the hopes he has kindled — still has so many people asking what he really believes?

I don't think that President Obama has a communications problem, per se. He has given many speeches and interviews broadly explaining his policies and justifying their necessity. Rather, he has a "narrative" problem. […]

What is that narrative? Quite simply it is nation-building at home. It is nation-building in America. […]

One of the reasons that independents and conservatives who voted for Mr. Obama have been so easily swayed against him by Fox News and people labeling him a "socialist" is because he has not given voice to the truly patriotic nation-building endeavor in which he is engaged.

So many flawed (yet widely held) assumptions in so few words. Kindled hopes do not true intentions demonstrate. And though a wide swath of the commentariat seems reluctant to even enterain the idea, Obama–like all presidents–tells lies and shatters promises. When you come into office repeatedly promising a "net spending cut" (even after the financial dukey has hit the fan), and then unleash the biggest net spending binge since World War II, it's understandable that a healthy chunk of voters would wonder what you really believe. Particularly when journalistic analysis of the inexperienced politician focuses on the hope-kindling, not the ideology/policy-construction.

And what kind of sheeple-disdaining dillweed explains away the defection of political independents from the Obama-supporting to the Obama-suspecting camps (an important factor in yesterday's elections) as the product of Fox News' magic wand? Did not Murdoch's evil empire exist in November 2008?

Well, at least Friedman will always have China!

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  1. Leave Obama Alone!

    (it is impossible to convey the crying and wailing and trembling that goes into this request)

    1. Not if you had changed your handle to Chris Crocker temporarily.

    2. NEVER pass up an opportunity to remind people where this global warmist and everyone but me should change their lives fuck lives:…..UNSET].jpg

  2. You don’t even get the half of it. He also campaigned as an anti-war candidate. How is that working out. He said he was going to close GUITMO. He claims to be a moderate but surrounds himself with leftists nuts (Van Jones and the I love Mao lady). You tell me what he believes in other than its good to be Obama.

    1. John, your too-important-to-bother-with-research tone and your every-man-a-king approach to spelling and punctuation continue to lend urgency and credibility to libertarian intellectualism. Bravo, sir.

      1. Nice try but your timing is off. There weren’t any misspelled words in that post. Further, since the “how is that working out” was a rhetorical question, it is acceptable to use either a question mark or a period at the end of it. You should have waited for a post with actual errors in it.

        1. Love ya to death John, but that shouldn’t take an inordinate amount of time. 🙂

            1. its good to be Obama.

              Should be “it’s,” as in: it is.
              It’s spelled Gitmo, not Guitmo.
              “How is that working out” should end with a question mark.

              1. leftists nuts ==> leftist nuts
                I love Mao lady ==> “I love Mao” lady
                than its good ==> than that it’s good

                Other than the grammar/spelling/punctuation errors, though, I’m not sure that I see what John gets wrong, other than being overly reliant on rhetoric.

              2. Also, “I love Mao” lady has a name: Anita Dunn. It took about two seconds with my Google bar to find that out.

                1. What is wrong with calling her the “I love Mao lady”? It is a good rethorical device.

                  1. The devices you use to stimulate your rethora are none of my business.

                    If you want to engage in pointed rhetoric, try to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about first.

            2. For the love of… Spelling and punctuation are the gadflies of schoolmarms.

              Johns sin isn’t in his criticism of the left. It’s his insistence that the right is any better.

              1. Schoolmarms and copyeditors, Warren. That thin red line that separates civilization and chaos.

                1. Language is made in practice not in theory. What is today’s bad language is tommorow’s standard. What is Spanish other than an ebonic version of Latin?

                  1. That’s racist. “Ebonics” comes from “ebony”, which is black. You are using “ebony” as a cinnamon (hey, it passed spell check) for “ignorant” or “piss poor”. Ebonics is ignorant and piss poor, but that’s not the point. Or maybe it is. Oh shit, now I’m a racist.

              2. ‘For the love of… Spelling and punctuation are the gadflies of schoolmarms.

                They may be. But they can also serve as a signal to other thinkers. Spelling and punctuation are relatively easy to master; evidence that a person has failed to master them can create doubts about that person’s mental faculties.

                (I’m not doubting John’s mental faculties. I’m simply pointing out that others might. Good spelling and punctuation are valued for a reason, and dismissing them as the province of neurotic schoolmarms is misguided.)

    2. I saw a column in one of the British papers saying that Obama is winding down the wars after all, and if he hasn’t fixed everything yet, it’s only because of Republicans’ shocking vitriol. So there, John. You lose.

    3. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

      John, those are soon-to-be-candidate Obama’s words.

      You, like many silly people, imagined him to be anti-war when he just wasn’t.

  3. Is it strange that I immediately cringe at a suggestion that someone is engaged in a truly patriotic nation-building endeavor?

    I’m pretty sure that we have a nation. We have a great foundation, for a great nation. We don’t need to build one, or even re-build one. Unless by re-build one means to get back to the foundation, and rebuild the structure on top of it. That is clearly not what Obama is attempting to do, and not what comes to mind in this quote. It’s pretty apparent that Obama hoped that we would be dazzled by his incoherent vision enough to allow him to change our great country, into a place where benevolent government cares for us poor, stupid citizens.

    I for one haven’t been fooled, unlike Friedman.

  4. One of the reasons that ____________ and ____________ who voted for Mr. ______ have been so easily swayed against him by ___ News and people labeling him a “_______” is because he has not given voice to the truly patriotic nation-building endeavor in which he is engaged.

    Who’s up for some presidential Mad Libs?

    1. “Plural noun.”

      “Plural noun.”


      “Proper noun.”


      “O.K., ready to hear what you’ve made?”

      1. Tits.



        The Vault.


        Ah, I loved the days of mad libs back in 3rd grade. (fucking non-english translator)

  5. One good way to tell if someone is a brain dead liberal poser is if they claim to read and admire Friedman.

    1. I don’t know anyone, especially liberals, who admire Friedman.

  6. he has not given voice to the truly patriotic nation-building endeavor in which he is engaged

    Modulo the “truly patriotic” part, he (and his) *do* “give voice”. But the voice consists of emotionally stating the problem and portraying that as the solution, while doing everything possible to ensure people pay no attention to what’s going on behind the curtain.

  7. It was hard to believe my eyes when I read Friedman’s calling for more Obama rhetoric.

    (Apologies for the overuse but “More cowbell!” came to mind.)

    Obama is a serial over-promiser. Everything he says should be considered within this context.

  8. On Urban Dictionary, “dookie” is preferred 6 to 1 to “dukey.”

    But I don’t blame you for not wanting to associate with Green Day.

    1. Oh come on. Billie Joe Armstrong screaming that he doesn’t want to be an American Idiot is the most unintentionally ironic moment in the history of rock. Armstrong is so smug and unself aware he honestly thinks it is social comentary on other people.

      1. From what I’ve heard, he’s also a libertarian. We shouldn’t be surprised if he’s smug. 😉

        1. Really? I have never heard that. I always figured that since he was a famous entertainer and from San Fran, he was by default a leftist moron. I guess there is always an exception that proves the rule.

        2. Back in April 2009, he said:

          I am optimistic, as long as these right-wing conservative a–holes don’t try to ruin things for people — like throwing around ideas that we’re headed for a socialist government. Which, the way they’re throwing it around, they don’t even know what socialism really is. It’s reflected on the record and it’s also reflected in society — there’s all this crisis and there is all this crazy s— going on right now. All you have to do is flick down the channel from ‘Rock of Love’ and look at CNN, and you could see it. Or Fox News — they make it look like we’re headed for the apocalypse and Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. But at the same time, it’s the first African-American in office, so that’s totally a progression. And that does give you faith in the idea of America — it can be a progressive country and we can dig ourselves out, because that was a bold statement. We dug ourselves out of George Bush by putting this new intelligent human being into office.

          Multiple sources say that he is registered Libertarian. I haven’t found any quotes that are clearly politically libertarian, other than expected punk counter-culture fare.

          1. None of that sounds libertarian in the least to me. Chances are Armstrong doesn’t know what a libertarian is.

    2. Green “There should have been only one album” Day aside, I thought it should have been “dookie”, as well.

    3. I like Green Day, but they should stick to songs about teenage angst and cheap irony.

      Also, they should have never, ever covered Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely by Husker D?. They aren’t good enough for that song.

      1. They are a good three chord power rock band. And there is nothing wrong with that. Sadly, they couldn’t be content with what they were. When that happens, any band starts to suck.

      2. Didn’t realize they did that. Unfortunate.

  9. Is it strange that I immediately cringe at a suggestion that someone is engaged in a truly patriotic nation-building endeavor?

    “patriotism” is a word that should send shivers down anyone’s spine. Its sole function is as a normative value to screen out people on the right side of an issue from people on the wrong side of an issue, regardless of the relative merits.

  10. One of the reasons The reason that independents and conservatives who voted for Mr.Obama have been so easily intelligently swayed against him by Fox News and people labeling him a “socialist” is because he has not given voice to the been upfront and transparent about the truly patriotic nation-building statist power consolidating and centralizing endeavor in which he is engaged.

    FTFY Friedman

  11. Is anyone compiling a list of Obamessiah’s broken promises? I would imagine the violations of his promises to change the nasty political discourse in this country has to be in the dozens already. Unless, of course, what he meant by “change” was going back to Nixonian days of enemies lists and demonizing opponents.

  12. Let’s be China for a generation or two!

  13. …the product of Fox News’ magic wand? Did not Murdoch’s evil empire exist in November 2008?

    You mundanes wouldn’t know, but that damned wand needs a recharge every now and then.

  14. Friedman’s at least fun to laugh at. That’s more than I can say for most of the others over there at the Borg mothership…

    1. Well, the attractive red head over there is quite a spectacle too. She reminds me of the time a friend called me up worried that the drunk red head he had over was going to get him kicked out of his apartment with her belligerent tantrums thrown at other residents. He asked me to come over to handle her for him (it’s what I do).

      I stopped by a Chinese take out before getting there. Filled her up on pork lo mein, sesame chicken and a pair of egg rolls. She was out of commission and sleeping like a babe a few minutes after her first belch (lovely).

      Maureen just needs some pork lo mein.

  15. Knowing what nation he last held up as a model for the “building” of ours, as his readers certainly do, ChiCom Tom appears to be not-so-subtly suggesting to them that the many tens of millions of people inhabiting this already built nation who object to its “building” should be rounded up and slaughtered.

    That’s pleasant.

  16. What is that narrative? Quite simply it is nation-building at home. It is nation-building in America.

    WTF does this even mean? Is this Middle East style nation building? Maybe the prez can declare martial law and “build” America like he, and his predecessor, are doing in Afghanistan?

    Friedman is retarded. Like, NutraSweet level retarded.

    1. I think it means that we get to aim for the blue helmets soon. Quick, buy me a Barrett.

      1. You better put out if you want me to buy you a $10,000 rifle, Warty. And in a non-rapey way.

        1. A local gun shop had a .50 cal for 3600 dollars a while back.(2 years ago) I can’t remember if it was a barrett. It had a triangle shaped muzzle brake if that helps.

          1. Probably an Armalite. Bolt action?

            1. I called the store. It was a Grizzly single shot bolt action. I found a website for a dealer that sells the Barrett.50 in a ten shot semi-auto for $8998. Single shots are less than four grand.

              1. Uh, you’re gonna want the semi auto because at least it eats some of the recoil. Of course, Warty beats women because he secretly wants to be beaten, so maybe he would enjoy some brutal recoil.

                1. That’s why I lift weights, Epi. FUCK YOU WEAKNESS THE PAIN WILL ELIMINATE YOU

              2. They used to be $6000. Fuck you, Obama.

                1. Umm,. profits are up. Sales are through the roof. How can that be a bad thing? It’s the free market at work. (even if it is driven by paranoid neo-survivalists)

                  1. Thanks for reminding me, brotherben. I’ve been meaning to pick up another case of Hornady TAP for the M1A.

  17. Um, we have an, um, nation already. It isn’t actually broken yet, despite the efforts of this government and its predecessors. Get out of our way, and we’ll fix most of the problems, thank you very much.

  18. and people labeling him a “socialist”…

    Golly, all he did was essentially nationalize the banking and auto industries, and has made it a priority to fully nationaize the health care industry. Where could anyone get the idea that he’s a socialist?

    1. My Barack is not a Communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star!

      1. Yeah, when people say that, they selectively forget schools of socialist thought, Galbraith for instance with the New Industrial State rhetoric, or Burnahm’s Managerial Revolution, or the ideas of market simulation as a means of addressing the calculation problem (doesn’t work, managers and owners are apples and oranges) from Lange, that are quite copacetic with current policies.

        Stop with the condescending BS people, there are plenty of us who have studied socialism inside and out, and know it when we see it.

        1. Especially condescension from Tony, of all people. You telling me the finer points of ideology is like the cardinal who tried to tell Leonardo da Vinci how to paint, only to get his likeness imprinted for all times sake as that of Judas (apocryphal for sure, but my art history professor loved that story).

  19. That’s not bad, Epi. If he’s bringing the continuing victory in Iraq home to America, then I guess the people who oppose him can be called insurgents.

    So let’s all cook up some IUDs before he has us shipped off to Camp GUERMO.

    1. Intrauterine devices?

      I think you might have meant IEDs. But either is good.

      1. No. IUD’s have killed and maimed more people than IED’s.

  20. For the record, I don’t think he’s an ideological socialist. I think he a left-leaning “pragmatist” who thinks government actually can solve economic and social problems. Which may be even worse.

    1. For the record, I think he is a typical politician.

      He is one who finds in socialist means a way to advance his interest, personal and political.

      GWB proved to be no more loyal to the free markets with TARP than your average Democratic ideologue who repels from the phrase ‘free markets’ as if it was unholy water.

      Democrats can complain about Republicans throwing around socialist because of the record of GWB, and the Republican congress, but that is not my problem. I called it then, and I call it now for what it is.

  21. Yes, does he have to dress like Mao to get the socialist label? How many more industries have to be taken over (or, at least, listed as a goal for takeover) before the word is acknowledged as applicable?

    Ten years ago, if someone told me that what’s going on today, along with positive references to Mao and worse, was going to happen, I would’ve laughed and said Americans wouldn’t put up with that. I still think that to some degree, but we’ve tolerated more than I used to think possible.

  22. “Camp Guillermo”. It’s in Mexico. Mario Cantone and Andy Dick go there for teabagging drill instruction. Also, gorilla masks.

    1. Once in year is enough for this reference. Abe Lincoln.

  23. Where could anyone get the idea that he’s a socialist?

    Uh, racism. Duh.

  24. sheeple-disdaining dillweed

    That has got to be the phrase of the day.

    1. Yeah, kudos on that one, Matt.

  25. Friedman writes with such sloppy and extremist language, it makes you wonder if there is any measure, no matter how extreme, of which he wouldn’t approve. Honestly, if you think that Obama is trying to engage in “patriotic nation building”, how could you not endorse rounding up and shooting the knuckeldraggers who keep objecting to it? Friedman is either

    1. Stupid and illiterate and has no idea the meaning and implication of what he is writing,

    2. A complete lying hack who doesn’t believe a word of what he writes and is just doing so for attention,

    3. A pschotic lunatic who honestly believes this shit and would have no problem with killing or imprisoning a large section of the country.

    I think any or all of those things could be true.

    1. John, the public endorsement of shooting the knuckledraggers is , I suspect, still seen as bad form by a majority of Americans and is therefore avoided. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an option.

    2. 4. Sububan Minneapolis Jew.

    3. I’m going with the option that he has not thought any of it out in the slightest where the paths lead whether it be cutting emissions to impossible levels in the next ten years, or doubling the price of tampons (medical devices). He just knows that the agenda, tone, and personal aura (charisma doesn’t seem the right word, but there is something there) surrounding Obama touches him in his big warm fuzzy places.

  26. I don’t think I’m in any way indicative of what voters are thinking and how well they perceive the president’s agenda and what he stands for, but I think I have a pretty good handle on what Barak Obama’s about. It’s just that I don’t care.

    I hope he leaves me alone. That would be a change.

  27. You know, when the term intellectual gets thrown around for people like Obama, Friedman, and their functional equivalents on the right, it dilutes the word. I’m pretty sure I’m quite a bit smarter (and a damned sight more intellectually honest) than most or all of those people. And I’m no Wile E. Coyote.

    1. I agree. The quality of public intellectuals in this country has to put it mildly eroded in the last 50 years. Compare Friedman whose idea of deep thinking is “Flat, Drunk and Stupid” or whatever the hell he called his book to someone like Russell Kirk or even Bertrand Russell if you want someone from the left. There is no comparison. Public intellectuals used to be seriously educated people. Now they are just jackasses who went to the right school and pontificate well.

      There is better quality thinking that happens on here than there is by most of the “intellectuals” who are paid to think about such matters.

      And it is getting worse. As bad as Friedman is, he is fucking William F. Buckley compared to someone like Ezra Klein.

      1. Agreed, but the same goes for the right. This country is becoming seriously uneducated.

        1. I mentioned the “functional equivalents of the right.” And, of course, the right-left dichotomy is inapt in a number of ways, so I trash others who are neither left nor right as well.

          We’re still pretty good on science and technology (not many of us, but enough, including those we import), but we’re arguably in a decline or a trough as far as philosophy and political thinking are concerned. Except, of course, for we happy few libertarians ?

        2. It is true. Even though some of his writing is funny, Jonah Goldberg is hardly Russell Kirk.

        3. Which is kind of odd, considering how much time everyone seems to be spending in school.

      2. It’s the freaking print media. Anyone still writing for the New York Times has to be several kinds of dense.

    2. People who actually have to produce something useful on a daily basis tend to more grounded in reality and have much greater sense of self worth and responsibility.

      All those things seem to be lacking in most politicians and the majority of people who “work” in the liberal arts.

      1. The reason you’ve heard crickets for two hours is that you just wrote this for a group of people whose “daily production” in large part consists of commenting at this blog.

        (Don’t worry — I’m throwing myself under that bus, too!)

  28. In today’s NY Times column, Friedman says that “interrogation” is one of “the core functions of government”.

    I bet he wishes he could rephrase that now. Or maybe not.

  29. Good god, would you people Please stop treating the New York Times as if it was a real news organization?

    1. I’m not trying to be a dick but it does come easy to me. Can you give me a couple/three examples of real news organizations? Ones that don’t give opinion oriented news?

        1. No.

          So why did you single out the New York Times, then? Why didn’t you just say, “Good god, people, would you please stop treating news organizations as if they’re news organizations?”

      1. WSJ, aside from the op-ed pages.

      2. Hustler. They’re just telling the world about the plight of teenage runaways.

  30. I think too many “thinkers” today think that inconsistent thinking is the sole indication of intellect.

    Too much ends-justifies-the-means thinking these days for me, anyway.

  31. It is so fucking hilarious that a guy who writes an editorial like this has the nerve to blast Fox News. It is also hilarious that the left thinks repeatedly bashing Fox News is somehow going to lower its viewership and decrease its influence. The liberal punditocracy is fucking tone deaf.

  32. “One of the reasons that independents and conservatives who voted for Mr. Obama have been so easily swayed against him by Fox News and people labeling him a ‘socialist’….”

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

  33. “One of the reasons that independents and conservatives who voted for Mr. Obama have been so easily swayed against him by Fox News and people labeling him a ‘socialist’ is because he has not given voice to the truly patriotic nation-building endeavor in which he is engaged.”

    Well, it is pretty easy to be “swayed” when the administration wants to take over the health care industry, owns the majority of two major auto companies and has a pay czar cutting whoever the fuck’s pay he wants to.

    Furthermore, it is fucking ludicrous to claim independents are flocking to the Republican Party because of Fox News. I know it has a big audience for a cable news show, but give me a fucking break. People like Friedman know better(I think)but they have to keep up the “people are turning against Obama because of lies” narrative.

  34. Come on now…be fair. Obama promised that people in the middle class would not see their taxes increased “one single dime.” And he is keeping that promise…taxes are not going up by a single dime, are they?

    And you doubt this man’s word! Racists!

  35. Friedman writes with such sloppy and extremist language

    *falls to floor, shrieking*

    1. Don’t pry he’s teeth apart with a spoon or try to give him something to bite on. Just let him ride the seizure out.

  36. Friedman is just pissed because Chicago didn’t get the Olympics, and was thereby deprived of an opportunity to forcibly expel thousands of poor people and demolish their blighted homes in order to replace them with a glorious monument to paternalist government efficiency.

  37. Same old story: Toms are always making excuses for The Man.

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