Government Spending

You're Not Respecting Thomas L. Friedman's Authoritah

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I'd grow it if I could

Longtime readers may recall that I wrote a column six years ago about New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman in which I found that he had, among many other curious things, quoted Johns Hopkins academic Michael Mandelbaum in more than 65 separate pieces of writing. Well, they've now eliminated the middle man and co-authored a new book called That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How We Can Come Back. I have a review essay coming in a forthcoming issue of Reason (though I highly recommend Andrew Ferguson's effort in The Wall Street Journal), but there is a recurring theme in this look-out-China's-comin' book that's worth drawing attention to. You can see it on pages 278-79:

The second change [away from our previously well-functioning political system] is the loss of confidence in our institutions and in the authority of their leaders across the society. Related to this is a shift in how the society sees people in authority, whether politicians or scientific experts–a shift from healthy skepticism to cynical suspicion of everything and everyone. This shift makes generating the kind of collective action we need to solve our big problems […] that much more difficult.

We were so united then!

The third shift in values is a weakening of our sense of shared national purpose, which propelled us in–and was reinforced by–the struggle against fascism in World War II and against communism in the Cold War. […] [A]lthough the Cold War had its dangers and excesses, and although no one should wish for its return, it did bring one benefit, whose importance becomes all the clearer in hindsight: It fostered a feeling of American solidarity, a shared sense of the national interest, as well as a seriousness about governance, which could rally the country to do important and constructive things at home and abroad.

And on page 287:

Don't you see that we need collective action? To, for instance, get me more pie?

It isn't just scientists and those regarded as experts who suffer from a lack of credibility. People in positions of authority everywhere have less influence than in the past. […]

This augurs badly for the task of meeting the major challenges our country faces because our institiutions, including but not limited to the federal government, are crucial for the collective action that is required in each case. If the public doesn't trust these institutions, they can't be effective. Where the nation's institutions are concerened–especially government–a healthy, necessary skepticism has given way to corrosive cynicism.

And on 290-91:

[I]n the past we also thought of ourselves as, first and foremost, citizens of the United States. Americans: That used to be us.

Doesn't sound any better in the original Jerseyan

The new information technology has helped to erode this particular value. With hundreds of television channels in every cable package and millions of websites that anyone with an Internet connection can visit, our national attention is far more fragmented than it once was. In today's media world we have far more choices than ever before, but also much less common information. And with the new electronic technology that we all use, while communication is much easier, we spend more time alone–texting while walking down the street, eyes down, and listening to an iPod all the while.

During the Cold War era, especially in its early years when memories of World War II were fresh, national unity and the readiness to make sacrifices when and where necessary seemed to most everyone to be matters of national survival.

It is striking to me how much these concepts, and the rhetoric they're clothed in, resemble that of John McCain and David Brooks-style "National Greatness Conservatism" (in addition to the type of Matt Miller "radical centrism" that Lucy Steigerwald blogged about earlier this week). And I really thought I'd never see the day when the deep Cold War political divisions that defined the first 21 years of my life would be treated like a much-lamented era of bygone unity, but there we are.

Let's see, the exaltation of "authority" and "national unity" and "sacrifice" over the messy independence of individuals…isn't there a word for that?

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227 responses to “You're Not Respecting Thomas L. Friedman's Authoritah

  1. I see Matt Welch is also a collector of Vietnamese, war-themed pedophilia.

    1. In all seriousness, that picture won the thread before it even started. 1000 words, and all.

  2. Those quotes actually make me feel good about modern times.

    1. Friedman actually has a point, but not the one he was trying to make. There was a sense of unity. Unity of people under even more satatist regimes than ours, who fought man and nature to escape to areas of American/Western influence. It began in the closing days of WWII in Europe with German soldiers fighting through Russian lines to surrender to Americans. It continued throughout the Cold War. If you want to know which regimes were the worst, just look at which direction the refugees went.

      1. What Friedman and those WWII-lovers of his ilk consistently forget is that the American demographic was, in essence, still very European in the 30’s and 40’s. The sense of “unity” that writers constantly cite existed (if it did at all) around the concept of American European immigrants, first and second generation, basically defending their “homeland.”

        Let’s say current trends continue for the next 50 years and this country is over 50% Hispanic in 2060. There’s a war in Mexico, or Guatemala, or El Salvador, and lots of Hispanics are dying or in danger. Is there any doubt that there will be some sense of “unity” amongst American Hispanics to join that war? Does this have anything to do with the concept of the American nation?

        1. This doesn’t make a lot of sense as an explanation of WWII unity. The neutral Irish pulled together with the fascist Italians and the Russian Jews to fight the Nazis? Huh?

  3. I imagine there’s a law that makes everyone with that image in their browser cache a child pornographer. Thanks Reason!

    1. “This is the kinda sick shit that will put you away forever, Reason.”

      1. I’ll take the case!

  4. Of course skepticism of government is warranted. As it got ever-bloated, the cracks of the leviathan state are ever more apparent. I do not trust the government to do the “right thing” if they are playing footsie with every two-bit lobbyist and crony-capitalist.

    1. That is the competition that China is winning. The crony capitalist war. Jonah Goldberg, T. L. Friedman and others claim that China is trying free markets when there is not a damn thing “free market” about it. It is little more than when the Soviets brought Ford over to build Fordson-Putilovets tractors in Leningrad.

      1. China has a massive crony-capitalist sector, but they also have a much bigger private sector that produces enough for them to afford their government’s boondoggles.

        -jcr

      2. China has a massive crony-capitalist sector, but they also have a much bigger private sector that produces enough for them to afford their government’s boondoggles.

        -jcr

      3. I really don’t think the Chinese are winning much of anything. Quick, name a recent Chinese invention that changed the world…

        1. Agreed. The Asian powers will be Japan, S. Korea, and India. China is heading for collapse.

          It’s interesting how a period of wealth can make people think a country is unstoppable. By that logic, oil powers like Saudi Arabia and Russia will never ever suffer any economic problems.

          1. Or Ireland. We were the poster child for some new kind of internationally traded capitalism until we blew our brains out by guaranteeing the entire domestic banking sector.

  5. Since Friedman insanely thinks the secret is for us to be more like China–or is it North Korea?–I think I can permanently discard his opinions going forward. Or looking backward.

    1. He never wrote anything worth reading that I can tell. This is a good policy.

      1. He lost me with The World is Flat-Chested.

        1. Well, the little napalm girl is. And, as a result, Mr. Welch, we would like you to come in for an interview.

          1. Who are you to talk, crossdresser?

            1. J. Edgar Hoover??!? If I shaved that man’s back once, I shaved it a thousand times! How could you expect him to fight crime in those high heels, anyway? *cough*

        2. The one about his summer vacation in London (Hot Flat, and Crowded) wasn’t too bad. Though he did go on a bit about trains, global warming, and ignorant American tourists.

      2. The Lexus and the Olive tree was actually a good defense of free trade.

        Also I hear his work prior to that about Israel and Palestine was pretty good.

        Sadly nearly all of it he has beck peddled on.

  6. “John Hopkins”? Really, dude? Really?

    1. Little known fact: The “Johns” in “Johns Hopkins” stand for the clients of the Quaker prostitutes who funded the founding of the university.

      1. As someone who went to Hopkins, I can confirm this as being absolutely true. That’s pretty good coming from someone who went to a state school, ProL. Good boy.

        1. “Poor people tend to live in clusters.”

        2. I’m a state-private hybrid.

          1. Me too. Private wins.

            1. Oh really? Bring your privates over to the SEC and see whose winning.

              1. Conference USA kicks all youz azzes.

                1. In what?

              1. I think they’re talking academics, and your typo isn’t helping my public (SEC) half’s cause.

    2. At least he didn’t say “Bo Hopkins”.

      1. Ya done forgot about ol’ Lightnin’ Hopkins, didnya?

  7. Anyone advocating collective action solutions should be strung up.

    1. Collectively.

  8. OT: Matt, do you actively post on a few Angels websites/blogs? I was on Halo Heaven or some such the other night to post something snarky when my Rangers clinched, and could have sworn I saw your name in there. I was running out the door, and forgot which post it was where I had seen it by the time I got back to the house.

    1. Yes, I comment and occasionally blog at Halos Heaven under the name “mattwelch.” Also leave comments at Baseball Think Factory under the same name (it’s only on Twitter, I think, that I’ve had to resort to the mleewelch).

      Congratulations for having a team not run by morons!

      1. I’m a Rays fan and a Braves fan. I’ve been holding my breath for days now.

        1. Me too. Grew up a Braves fan and became a Rays fan while living in Durham. Tonight is going to be torture.

          1. Yeppers. I grew up in the South, which until the Rays came along meant the Braves, thanks to geography and the ubiquitous TV presence of the Braves.

            I naturally eschew any recognition of the Miami Marlins.

          1. Tampa, the center of the baseball universe for one night, at least.

            Last night was great–big home run, triple play, the works.

            1. You mean St Petersburgh?

              1. We share teams. Every team is “Tampa Bay”, but only one is in St. Pete. And the reason I’m up is that we just advanced to the playoffs.

                1. I was holding my breath hoping it would be the Sox, since they’re slumping so bad. Fuck you guys.

                  1. Scary, aren’t we?

        2. Me three. Lived in Atl, then SP, now back in Atl.

      2. So, you’re finally admitting that Moneyball was hyped-up bullshit.

        1. I wrote a review here in 2003 that I think still mostly holds up. It’s a great book (and great movie, IMO), with some overemphases and blind spots. It certainly has been fun being both an Angels fan and a Baseball Primer-type person for this past decade, with the possible exception of the past two seasons….

          1. They lost a bunch of players a few years back in free agency. But they also got lots of draft picks in return. They’ll be back. The same, alas, cannot be said of my A’s.

            1. At least you aren’y an Astros fan. We have absolutely nothing to look forward to. We gave away all our good players for free and our farm system is dry. We can’t even get a new owner in because Bud Selig is being an asshole.

              1. Yeah, Astros = decade long trainwreck

        2. I think it is more that it isn’t that hard to do and everyone is doing it now.

      3. Yes, I comment and occasionally blog at Halos Heaven under the name “mattwelch.”

        When you could be writing a sequel to Declaration of Independents?

        1. Emphasis on “occasionally.” Busy year.

        2. Yes, what should the title of the sequel be? After the Declaration of Independence, which inspired the name of the current book came the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, and, of course, the Constitution.

          I’m drawing a blank for the moment. The best I can do is Cuntstitution: Why Nick and Matt are Saying Fuck this Noise and Moving to New Zealand. I have to admit, that’s not consistent with the optimism of the first book.

            1. You can have it. If things get bleak enough that you want to write that book.

          1. Personally, I look forward to their porn series, The 69th Amendment.

            1. The Fellatioist Papers?

              1. Long Dong Sliver (aka, The Bris From Hell).

            2. The Articles of Consumation?

              1. The Bill of Rice:
                How America needs to be more like China, and which Amendments we need to repeal to get there

                by Matt Welch and Thomas Friedman

                1. Like.

              2. Bustin’ America’s Ass

                1. Freedom: Yang Worship Word You Will Not Speak.

                  1. Yin, more likely.

          2. After the Declaration of Independence, which inspired the name of the current book came the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, and, of course, the Constitution.

            They did not use the the title “Freedom Bitches” (or was it liberty Bitches) like Matt promised…so they could use that.

            1. I kind of like “Freedom Bitches” (perhaps a band name), but I think the book title needs a coma somewhere.

              1. Freedom Bitches’

              2. Freedom Coma Bitches?

                1. “Freedom, Bitches!”

      4. Congratulations for having a team not run by morons!

        Trust me, after the decades we’ve had, most of us are still holding our collective breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ll believe it when we win a WS.

        If you have spare time to read, Seasons in Hell is a great book about the 74-76 Rangers, written by a sports writer who was covering them at the time. Very funny, and the subtitle of the book says it all: they were possibly the worst baseball team of all time.

        1. I read it, and appreciated it, but still found it disappointing (like, him being unapologetic about covering up for crazy drunken violence on team flights, and so on).

          1. Point taken. I suppose it’s different for a journalist like yourself, who deals with ethics situations like that on a day-to-day basis, than for someone like myself, who is just looking for an interesting story.

            I came away desperately wishing that I’d been a baseball beat-writer during the 70s.

        2. Seasons in Hell is a great book

          Title inspired by Rimbaud?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Une_Saison_en_Enfer

      5. Oh, and we’d really appreciate it if you didn’t put any effort into the game tonight, home field advantage being on the line (I do not trust Cleveland to do anything against Detroit).

        If you can put in the call to Scioscia to choke tonight, maybe I can work out a deal with Nolan to buy Declaration of Independents in bulk for a playoff stadium promotion.

      6. When it comes to being run by morons the Angels got nothing on the Dodgers.

        1. I’m being slightly facetious about the moron thing; they are largely smartish, but have some blind spots that threaten to turn the team into a Cubs/Mets situation.

        2. L.A. Beisbol might be the only thing where I lean a slight preference towards TEAM BLUE.

      7. Congratulations for having a team not run by morons!

        *sigh* Lifelong Orioles fan. Last two decades: 2 winning seasons, both post-season, and they fired the manager the day before he was named Manager of the Year. Angelos is still the owner. *double sigh*

        Losing’s a hard culture to get past but Buck’s got them going in the right direction, I think. The O’s were instrumental in the BoSox collapse the past month. O’s were 5-2 the last two weeks against Boston, including last night’s walk-off winner.

        Well, at least there’s the Ravens!

  9. Fuck him, fuck him right in the ear.

  10. You know who else liked fascism?

    1. There is more than just a word for that:

      Tutto nello stato
      niente al de fuori dello stato,
      nulla contro lo stato

    2. Pierre Bi?try, FDR, Wilson, the New York Times, Time magazine, Will Rogers, Stalin, Lenin . . .

      Some changed their minds when it bit them or kicked their ass.

    3. The New Republic, Hillary Clinton . . .

    4. The New Republic, Hillary Clinton . . .

    5. ….though she now leans toward Stalinism.

      1. I’m all for it.

  11. I suffered through an hour of them on cspan this morning, and to my amazement, high speed rail didn’t come up once. That’s probably because another 270 train riders were injured in China yesterday.

    1. Also because Washington Journal had a great segment featuring the Fortune article about railroad cartels on earlier in the show. There were too many viewers with a working knowledge of railroads for Thom to risk opining on the subject.

  12. It is striking to me how much these concepts, and the rhetoric they’re clothed in, resemble that of John McCain and David Brooks-style “National Greatness Conservatism”

    Resemble? Same fucking thing. Note the whining about how things were better way back when, the complaints about new technologies and individualism. More than anything, these fuckers sound old.

    Welcome to the refrain of the aging baby boomers on both TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE, folks. The narcissistic-est generation is getting their Abe Simpson on, and they’re going to sure as fuck let us know about it.

    1. Episiarch, I found an excuse to include a Real Genius still in a post about academic fraud today. I think it was relevant.

      1. Look at it this way, ProL–and this applies to the rest of you too. Considering the type of people you are and the environment you’re in, you have to admit the strong possibility this may be the only chance you ever have in your entire lives…to have sex. With Thomas Friedman.

        1. He happens to be my daughter.

          1. Are you saying Thomas Friedman can hammer a 6-inch spike through a board with his penis?

            1. Not right now.

              1. A girl’s got to have standards.

      2. I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said… “I drank what?”

    2. There really is a lot of reactionary conservatism on the left. Not only the “remember the good old days” crap, but a lot of environmentalism (“the planet should always be just like I remember from when I was a kid”), cultural preservation (“the third world is my museum, dammit!”), and so on.

      1. You can file global warming under “reactionary” as well, since it seems to be based on the assumption that the weather when I was a kid was the perfect weather for all time.

        1. There might be some of that, but a significant change in climate that happens faster than the biota can adapt is a horse of an entirely different color. Yes, there were dinosaurs living in the Arctic 100 million years ago, but that situation arose over the course of million-year timescales, not centuries.

          1. “but a significant change in climate that happens faster than the biota can adapt is a horse of an entirely different color.”
            Yes, and?

            1. Until we start performing photosynthesis through our skin, we’re completely dependent on the rest of the biota for continued existence, and we don’t even know all the dependencies (look up the fate of the ridiculously hubristic project Biosphere II). We might be able to just move a hundred miles closer to the poles, but it’s quite possible that the species that go extinct or dwindle because they can’t similarly adapt climate change will turn out to be ones we depend on in some unknown way.

              Now, the means that many “green” folks propose to remedy climate change are both unlikely to work and dangerous in themselves, but that doesn’t mean we can or should just ignore the problem.

              1. It hasn’t been proven that there is a problem.

      2. The state sponsored environmentalist movement. Yet another gift from Hitler that the Left will not let go of.

      3. “There really is a lot of reactionary conservatism on the left. Not only the “remember the good old days” crap,…”

        You’ve missed Krugman on the ‘treaty of Detroit’.

  13. During the Cold War era, especially in its early years when memories of World War II were fresh, national unity and the readiness to make sacrifices when and where necessary seemed to most everyone to be matters of national survival.

    Alas, those pesky southern Negroes didn’t get this memo, and selfishly whined about trifles like “my rights” and “public bus seating,” which made America look bad in the eyes of the world and even gave those scumbag Soviets a lot of propaganda mileage, so you totally can’t blame the FBI for infiltrating civil rights groups and spying on their members and whatnot. Ask not what your country can do for you, and ask not why your country’s doing what it’s doing to you, either. And ask not how your country expects to pay for what it wants to do to you, and ask not when it might stop doing it …. just ask not. Period. STFU and do what you’re told.

    1. “During the Cold War era, especially in its early years when memories of World War II were fresh, national unity and the readiness to make sacrifices when and where necessary seemed to most everyone to be matters of national survival.”

      And that’s why we imprisoned thousands of American citizens–men, women and children–for the “crime” of being of Japanese ancestry.

      “[A]lthough the Cold War had its dangers and excesses…”

      I’m not buying into his disclaimer either. That’s not even a real disclaimer–it’s more like he’s papering over some pretty horrific civil rights violations by the federal government–all done in the name of “national unity” and making “sacrifices”.

      They should be ashamed of themselves.

    2. Goddamn, that is a magnificent rant.

  14. Longtime readers may recall that I wrote a column six years ago about New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman in which I found that he had…

    Dude, I don’t even remember what you wrote last week.

    In the past we also thought of ourselves as, first and foremost, citizens of the United States. Americans: That used to be us.

    Who is this “WE” shit? I consider myself a member of the human race and that is about as far as i am willing to go with that group identity bullshit. And I am pretty fucking ashamed of that and wouldn’t go around the galaxy admitting that I am related the fucks that run this game.

    In today’s media world we have far more choices than ever before, but also much less common information.

    Look, you can only watch so much Gilligan’s Island. I revel in this atomization. I don’t have to hang out with the TEAM BLUE and TEAM RED fuckheads. I get to hang out on the Draenor server with fellow nerds who appreciate my healing prowess.

    1. You just made me picture Friedman sitting on his couch in 1977 wearing bell bottoms, drinking a Schlitz, and watching The Love Boat on his fancy 20″ color TV and marveling at the diversity of the three channels he had to choose from while talking to his mom on a rotary AT&T phone and wondering when regular–not fancy–cars were going to start having side view mirrors on both sides and maybe even disc brakes on the front wheels.

      Fuck you.

      1. That’s cool; I pictured James Caan calling me to say he’s sending two girls over with perky, missile shaped titties, tiny bikini bottoms, and fat asses. I’m picturing trimmed bushes, because those wild, overgrown thatches are just a bit overboard, and it’s my imagination.

        1. The 70s: exemplified by way overgrown bushes.

          1. Just imagine what Friedman’s mustache was like in the 70s.

            1. No. Once is enough for one day.

      2. You just made me picture Friedman sitting

        That is what you get for sending me those pictures of a naked Warty. So consider us even.

        1. You said you needed jerk-off material, dude. So this is what I get for helping you out? I should have sent you a picture of NutraSweet’s nostrils instead.

          1. I should have sent you a picture of NutraSweet’s nostrils instead.

            Would that be pre or post vagino-rhinoplasty?

            1. I’d hate to split an eight ball with Henry Waxman, that’s all I’m sayin’.

      3. I had the same vision, except he was watching The Love Boat and Fantasy Island back to back.

        Say, why did the Shat never guest on Fantasy Island? The series and the film we’re all thinking about did overlap.

        1. Same show. Bartenders? One black one midget.

          1. Not as much sex on Fantasy Island. The cast on The Love Boat was really sleazy, even by 70s standards.

            1. Where else could Kay Ballard get her groove on?

          2. Bartenders? One black one midget.

            Or they could have just gotten Gary Coleman and been done with it.

            1. He was more a kid than a midget back then.

              Who knew that he’d someday run for governor of California?

              1. Or star in a Kid Rock video?

    2. “…thought of ourselves as….citizens of the United States. Americans: That used to be us…”

      Even if that were so, why would anyone want to be a proud member of the United States of today, controlled by a bunch of 60’s influenced, violent little Stalinist pricks interested in hate-your-neighbor class warfare and endless bloody overseas military adventures.

  15. Thomas Friedman needs to eat my shit.

    1. All you have to do it get the Chinese to eat it first.

      1. A good point. I could then claim that ‘America is falling dangerously behind in shit eating jobs’ And call for collective action in shit eating.

        Unfortunately, when people like Friedman call for collective action, what they really mean is “all of you people need to start doing what I want you to do, while i continue to sit on my ass ‘baitin to a picture of Mao.”

    2. From the look of his neck, it appears he already eats to much. He is definitely not on the primal diet. According to Freidman, the world is fat, or is that flat?

  16. America had many great inventors like Edison that made a big difference to world. American politicians on the other hand, like this guy thinks, did not invent the world.

    This guy is simply sour that the “common information” that he yearns for is no longer there, which means he is no longer as influential than he would have been 50 years ago in the same position.

    1. You’re offering Edison as the epitome of American inventors? If there were any justice in the world, Westinghouse would break into your house and pistol whip you while Tesla raped your pets.

  17. So we’ve had quotes by Ezra Klein, Pauli Krugnuts and Tommy “Chinaman” Friedman all in one day?

    WTF Reason? Is the bottle that empty that we have to resort to fisking this pathetic trio?

    A moron Trifecta!

    1. Friedman is to Matt Welch what Fox news is to Jon Stewart.

      1. Worse, Friedman is to many self-described liberals what Fox News is to many self-described conservatives, meaning a lot of people who read this terrifying authoritarian crap will nod their heads and say “Yes, Friedman’s right, our country’s a mess because we have too darn many choices and not enough sacrifice.”

        1. We need to suspend some elections.

          1. We need to suspend some elections.

            Which is a fabulous idea, right after we start liquidating the Executive and Legislative branches.

        2. On the other hand, it’s heartening to know that people like Matt Taibbi loathe him just as much as we do.

        3. Yeah, I see way too many Friedman quotes on Facebook. People just quote him like he know’s what he’s talking about…

    2. Um, there’s a glaring omission there: Sr. M. Yglesias.

      We’re blessed with more morons that can fit into a trifecta.

  18. During the Cold War era, especially in its early years when memories of World War II were fresh, national unity and the readiness to make sacrifices when and where necessary seemed to most everyone to be matters of national survival.

    What sacrifices are you ready to make Tommy? Perhaps you’ll tighten some belts, with spit and elbow grease in the old Friedman fashion, and do with one or two fewer groundskeepers at the compound?

    Oh right, it’s the proles who have to get with the sacrificin’, of dreams for their children and their own small lives, no less. It’s for the good of everyone!

    1. He’ll be content with our mandatory volunteer work.

        1. Naw just the snazzy wilderness park that his house convienently overlooks. Won’t anyone think of poor sweet Bambi?

  19. It seems to be a liberal meme these days that whatever China is doing is automatically the “smart” thing to do. No further proof is required in their book.

    I have heard that sort of thing from individual liberals I’ve talked to as well as heard Obama peddling it along with Friedman.

    1. Another liberal meme: when most voters don’t like the current Democratic president, it shows the flaws of democracy, how unhealthily and inefficiently fractured we are, etc. On the other hand, when most voters rally around a Republican president, it’s a sign of herd mentality, incipient fascism, etc.

    2. These days? They have been doing it since the days of the Great Leap Forward. It went the 1970s version of “viral” with acupuncture and ping-pong, not letting up since.

    3. Why would proof be needed? Geez its obvious we should immediately begin convicting people of capital crimes based on how healthy they are, execute them with a bullet to the brain, and rush them to the organ sales factory…..

  20. Matt,

    The picture selection next to quotes kicks serious ass. Complete and utter mockery/destruction (mockstruction?) of all his dumbass points carried out with brutal precision. Well done.

  21. In today’s media world we have far more choices than ever before, but also much less common information.

    This just sounds like an old, complainy douche. I’m on the job hunt right now, and thanks to the internet, I can locate and apply for jobs between San Diego and Portland, Oregon in a matter of minutes. Before, I would be relegated to looking through the LA Times employment ads. Thanks to the ‘net, I can find info on bars and restaurants that I want to drink and eat at. I don’t have to wait for the monthly Westways magazine to plan a daytrip in SoCal with my wife. Why I can watch Ohio State vs. Toledo on Big Ten network, price luxury condo’s on HGTV, and I once even saw a girl give a presentation about Praxeology on the internet! This Friedman character is a Luddite. We may not have as much “common information”, but we sure as shit have more and better information. Screw the baby boomers and their misplaced nostalgia. This is 2011, get into the current or get the fuck outta’ the way!

  22. look-out-China’s-comin.

    It better not be on one of them trains or metro carriages.

  23. L’Shana Tova Mr. Friedman. Party like it’s 5722!

    1. He’s already doing that: it’s 5772.

  24. exaltation of “authority” and “national unity” and “sacrifice”

    Hey, no fair quibbling over the means and ignoring the ends: “collective action.”

  25. I have to give Friedman credit. I think he hit nearly every neo-liberal point.

    Get the right people in charge. Collectivise our purpose. More trust in authority. Fragmentation due to too much choice and diversity.

    Did I miss any?

    1. I’ve got to say that the left’s excuse for intelligentsia these days really seems to be begging for the legitimate application of the adjective, “fascist.”

      1. Begging? It’s more like they’re demanding it. The language that they’re using is explicitly fascist.

        1. Maybe it’s better this way. . .out in the open.

          1. It’s out in the open and the only ones calling them on it are some libertarians.

            It’s actually worse that it’s so out in the open and many people aren’t immediately drawing this connection.

      2. National Socialist or Fascist, with a big F works nicely. They are not big on rounding people up and putting them into camps based on ethnicity (since WWII anyway). Their genocide is concentrated on Black women volunteering to destroy generation after generation of offspring. They are a happy compromise between Mussolini and Hitler.

    2. He did seem to edit out the “nation building at home” meme. Matt’s incessant mockery may have persuaded him to remove that hotkey from his keyboard.

      1. Ooh, or ‘nudged’ him. Yeah, that’s better.

      2. Though invading and liberating some states–and the District of Columbia–might make some sense.

  26. If I was Bulimic I would buy this books. Seems easier to read a paragraph than stick my finger down my throat. “common enemies”, “collective action”, “not enough blind obediance to authority”, “too much information”. Fuck those guys. Seriousy. Fuck them.

  27. So the whole book is about two things. We need more collectivism, and we need strong leaders to guide us. Yeah, that’s not disturbing at all.

    1. It’s kind of like they read The Road to Serfdom and thought “hey, that’s a great idea! This can be a template for our book!”

      1. Friedman is making is crystal clear he is actually just evil.

      2. Accelerating on the Road to Serfdom in a Flat World?

        1. Let me be clear: I will not stand idly by while America falls behind on the road to serfdom.

          1. Now that’s winning the future!

  28. I thin he is trying to beat this with a new low:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwFaSpca_3Q

    What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, “Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?” You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This

  29. This quote has been all over the leftists on facebook this morning, mainly by people in the past who denied the US was a “Christian Nation”:

    If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” ~ Stephen Colbert

    1. This came up a few days ago. Christ clearly left it to the rich whether they wanted to help the poor. No theft!

      1. Problem here is that there isn’t a shred of evidence for “Christ”.

      2. My understanding of the leftist social justice crowd is that theft is not stealing, you should be happy to give to such a great cause.
        Or something like that.

      3. Well, Christ didn’t advocate earthly coercion to help the poor at least. The story of the rich man and Lazarus seems to pretty strongly imply that not helping the poor will earn you some serious coercion in the afterlife, though.

    2. But Colbert said it, so it can be mindlessly parroted. Don’t you understand the left’s internally inconsistent rules? They’re sort of like Calvinball rules.

      1. I must grudgingly admit their mastery of Calvinball.

    3. To be fair, I’m not sure Jesus would have approved of Guantanamo or any one of a thousand other things our government does either. So this is hardly a new observation.

      “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

      But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

      And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

      And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

      Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

      Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

      But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

      That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

      —-Matthew 5:38-45

      Not supposed to resist evil? Love those that hate you–just like God makes good things happen for evil people too?!

      Most Christians’ understanding of Christianity is predicated on the subconscious insistence that Jesus couldn’t possibly have really meant what he said.

      “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

      For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

      And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

      He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

      And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”

      —-Matthew 10:34-38

      You came to turn our children against us?

      It’s much easier for people to think of Christianity as a condemnation of modern morality–or as a repudiation of modern science!

      ’cause preachin’ the real deal won’t do much to fill the offering plate–actually that’s been known to get people crucified. …better talk about the devil’s music, or maybe intelligent design!

      You think not paying through the nose for the poor is bad? How ’bout Dubya torturing people?! Would Jesus condone torturing people?

      I don’t think so.

    4. If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that “Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

      But would Jesus condone throwing people in prison for not helping the poor?

      The correct answer is “no”.

      Oh, and if Colbert finds himself in San Diego, I know a great little soup kitchen where he can volunteer to help feed homeless people.

      Actually, I bet he can find a soup kitchen to volunteer at wherever the hell it is he lives.

      That’s the great thing about volunteering to feed homeless people–it doesn’t necessitate throwing anyone in jail for not shelling out.

      1. “But would Jesus condone throwing people in prison for not helping the poor?
        The correct answer is “no”.”

        Would Santa Claus do what?
        Sorry, anyone referring ti mythical creatures to support a point of view is an ignoramus from the get-go.
        Your choice about where you chose to stand.

        1. I’m not willing to wait around to make the libertarian case…until the rest of America embraces atheism?!

          That would be irrational.

          If you’re gonna make the libertarian case to environmentalists, coal miners, poker players and pot heads? Making our case in environmentalist terms to environmentalists, coal industry terms to coal miners, poker playing issues to gamblers and drug war terms to stoners? That’s rational.

          If you’re talking to Christians? You might want to make the libertarian case in Christian terms.

          I’m just sayin’.

          If you want to make our case to a culture that’s been heavily influenced by Christianity like American culture has? Spewing hostility to Christianity–it’s worse than irrational. It’s counter-productive unless you’re actually trying to marginalize libertarianism.

          I’m just sayin’.

          1. “I’m just sayin’.”

            Help yourself; what would Santa Claus do?

            1. Nicolaos of Myra was known to throw gold at poor people.

              1. “Nicolaos of Myra was known to throw gold at poor people.”

                And?

                1. You asked what Santa Claus would do, so I told you. Or are you being obtuse on purpose?

                  1. “You asked what Santa Claus would do, so I told you.”

                    *That’s* Santa Claus? Sorry, missed some myths.

            2. “Help yourself; what would Santa Claus do?”

              Based on your logic? I’ll venture a guess the answer is: mercilessly ridicule people’s religious beliefs until they all agree with Santa?

              Actually, ol’ St. Nick became influential because he became associated with Christianity and a Christian holiday.

              I’m tryin’ to “get” the other side of this equation too though. Are you under the impression that people give money to Reason…so that Welch, Gillespie, Cavanaugh and company will invade the airwaves with “Reason.com”, driving traffic to the site…all in the hope that people like you will be here to offend their religious beliefs…to the point that they’re hostile to libertarians and never want to come back to the site again?

              I’ve always suspected trolls imagine they’re doing some good somehow–and this would explain a lot! Maybe they just don’t realize what they’re doing?

              Ridiculing people’s religion to make them like libertarians–I know that’s gotta make sense to somebody. I just hope that somebody will ‘splain it ’cause it doesn’t make any sense to me.

              1. “Based on your logic? I’ll venture a guess the answer is: mercilessly ridicule people’s religious beliefs until they all agree with Santa?”

                Of course you would. Do you have anything worth posting or just strawmen?
                I laugh at bleevers everywhere and always, simply because superstition is pretty silly. And superstitionists are welcome to ignore me or laugh back.
                But *citing* superstition to support a point of view sort of ignores any concept of “evidence”.
                Care to offer something other than superstition?

    5. Yeah I got into a FB fight about that one. People should really recognize that when an atheist is defending Christian charity and the scale of private giving they should probably just give up.

      1. It’s an interesting attempt.

        Anybody who doesn’t use whatever cultural artifacts are at hand to make their point isn’t really trying.

        I don’t blame them for trying. But, you know, people whose knowledge of Christianity consists almost entirely of what the Pope did to Galileo and something they saw on a sign the Westboro Baptist Church was holding?

        They’re probably not gonna make a lot of headway. It’s like talking to trekkies without knowing the difference between a tricorder and a tribble. They ARE gonna notice he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    6. Has Colbert just completely abandoned the pretense of “satiring” right-wing media and become a straight lefty propaganda artist?

      Because I can’t imagine a right-wing talk show host saying something like that.

      1. Most people forget that good satire requires both subtlety and truth.

        1. Indeed. Colbert has always been hit or miss with the goodness of his satire, but this isn’t even satire, it’s straightforward shilling for his own viewpoint.

  30. As a rodent, Matt see things that other miss.

    1. Max, sweetie? If you’re going to pee on the seat please wipe up after.

    2. As an asshole, max tries to construct a sentence in English.

  31. Yes, I really don’t understand Friedman’s point here. Is he saying that we would somehow be united on our opinion of how much the federal government should spend on medicare if only there was still some fascists or communists hiding behind our bushes?

    While I wasn’t around for most of it, the only thing it seems like American agreed about with respect to communism was “it’s pretty bad m’kay.” Press the point any farther and it seemed like you get disagreement on what exactly to do about it.

    Yes, Americans have always agreed on surviving when our survival was actually at stake. But that about all; and I don’t think its a bad thing either.

    1. If you are cognizant of reality and real-world events, rather than “narratives”, then you’re not really part of Friedman’s core audience.

  32. It is striking just how much Friedman loves war. Because it creates this “sense of shared national purpose”, you know. And, other than the “confidence in our institutions and in the authority of [dear] Leader” that is so necessary for “collective action”, nothing is so important as a sense of shared national purpose.

    1. Friedman’s the type of guy who would have unapologetically gushed at the bombast and “shared national unity” embodied in Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will”. When it comes to Friedman, it’s not really about *what* government is doing or *how well* it does it: pomp, “narrative”, and a lack of subtlety are what make Friedman stand up and sing.

      It’s Michael Bay-ism applied to the political stage.

      1. Yeah. I imagine he’s a secret admirer of the common purpose that Koreans demonstrate in their Arirang Performances … North Koreans, of course.

        1. Here’s a link to the sort of thing that Friedman aspires to:

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl…..ea.arirang

    2. “It is striking just how much Friedman loves war. Because it creates this “sense of shared national purpose”, you know.”

      It’s not only Friedman.
      Yes, WWII was a defining process in the mid 20th century. It managed to kill some 60 million people, not nearly as many as Stalin and Mao managed during ‘peace’, but still a horrible butcher’s bill.
      Further, it confirmed the ‘requirement’ of science supported by government, and the consequent rise of the military/industrial complex.
      To add to that, the Euros took US largess in protecting and feeding them to institute the programs that are now bankrupting them (and us, through our ‘protection’ and emulation).
      Now, who in their right mind can find real value in this?

  33. At times like this, it’s worth mentioning Matt Taibbi’s dual eviscerations of Friedman’s writing style. I’m sure most of you know of them already, but for the 10% who don’t, you’re in for a laff fest.

    1. They are comedy gold.

    2. I’ve never read these. They’re so good that links must be provided:

      http://www.nypress.com/article…..-that.html

      http://www.nypress.com/article-11419-flathead.html

  34. Thomas Friedman: the Michael Scott of journalism.

    1. Very good!

  35. Sorry to come so late to the party — I was busy swilling down some fine wines at a tasting earlier tonight, and the pleasant buzz is still with me now.

    Napalm girl (above) was one of the iconic images that I grew up with. This photograph, along with the execution of the south Vietnamese officer and the Kent State victims, really drove into my soul the idea that you just cannot trust government.

    Add in King’s I have a dream speech, and I just cannot fathom how anyone that came of age in that time frame can believe that the government can solve any human problem effectively, let alone set the direction of all of human endeavor.

    I do not understand how the boomers became the statists that they are today.

    1. …”Add in King’s I have a dream speech, and I just cannot fathom how anyone that came of age in that time frame can believe that the government can solve any human problem effectively, let alone set the direction of all of human endeavor.”

      This is what confuses me.
      Boomers watched all that, and Nixon, and then said, well, ‘government is good!’
      Whaaaa?

    2. Well, they had more lead in everything back then.

  36. The only thing more disgusting than power-seeking politicians are their sycophants. I can’t wait for the NYT to land on the ash heap of history where it belongs.

    -jcr

    1. Its coming, its coming, my friend.

  37. The sewer is dark, and the sewer rat’s vision has adapted.

  38. I think this post is very usefull for people who interest in this problem!

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