More Friedman follies

Some of you have mentioned this in the comments, but I just got to reading it yesterday: Matt Taibbi has taken a shovel upside Tom Friedman’s head once again. In fact, one of the absurd sentences he takes issues with involves shovels:

“The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging.When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense?

But the best part is the title of Tom Friedman’s play:

Even better was this gem from one of Friedman’s latest columns: “The fighting, death and destruction in Gaza is painful to watch. But it’s all too familiar. It’s the latest version of the longest-running play in the modern Middle East, which, if I were to give it a title, would be called: `Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?'” There are many serious questions one could ask about this passage, but the one that leaped out at me was this: In the “title” of that long-running play, is it supposed to be the same person asking all three of those questions? If so, does that person suffer from multiple personality disorder? Because in the first question, he is a neutral/ignorant observer of the Mideast drama; in the second he sympathizes with the Jews; in the third he’s a radical Muslim.Moreover, after you blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque, is the surrounding hotel still there? Why would anyone build a mosque in a half-blown-up hotel?

As brilliant as Taibbi’s take-down is, there’s one key point he misses here: isn’t “Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?” a strange title for a play? Have you ever heard of a play with such a long title?

What’s most remarkable about Friedman’s fucked up phraseology is that he seems so proud of it. The only thing I can compare this to is the Facts of Life episode where Blair Sue Ann gets high and writes a paper about Moby Dick (video link). Which makes me wonder: is it possible that Tom Friedman is on something?






48 replies
  1. 1
    bago says:

    He’s high on earth. Which is flat btw.

  2. 2
    R-Jud says:

    Which makes me wonder: is it possible that Tom Friedman is on something?

    I’m pretty sure his suckitude is all-natural. If he were on something he’d at least be interesting.

  3. 3
    Comrade Jake says:

    Expect the Friedman/Gregory combo on MTP to be totally insufferable, whenever Tom makes his next appearance.

  4. 4
    MikeJ says:

    I fully expect the Red Sox to sell their best players to finance a production of “Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?”

  5. 5
    Josh Hueco says:

    @MikeJ:

    is it possible that Tom Friedman is on something?

    Crabgrass, laced with squirrel dung and drain cleaner.

  6. 6
    Andrew says:

    Is it possible that Friedman’s NOT on something?

  7. 7
    Zifnab says:

    Tom Friedman is the Hunter S. Thompson of foreign policy opinion pieces and he doesn’t even know it.

  8. 8
    wilfred says:

    He’s a racist. Glenn Greenwald tore him to pieces over his very own personal "Don’t fuck with the jews" columns – the one about educating Hamas by murdering women and children.

  9. 9
    Tim H. says:

    Dude, it’s the Chewbacca defense.

  10. 10
    jenniebee says:

    The best I could think of for longest play titles was "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad", and that’s eight words shorter.

    You’re spot on, DougJ. It’d never fit on a marquee.

  11. 11
    TheFountainHead says:

    I have to believe that Friedman takes a day each week to laugh maniacally at the frenzy he sends us all into as we deconstruct his latest psychobabble.

  12. 12
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Tom Friedman is the Hunter S. Thompson of foreign policy opinion pieces and he doesn’t even know it.

    That’s an insult to HST. Seriously, the Taibbi piece made me laugh out loud.

  13. 13
    harlana pepper says:

    He’s sucking on something, alright.

  14. 14
    jenniebee says:

    More from Taibbi:

    Where does a man who needs his own offshore drilling platform just to keep the east wing of his house heated get the balls to write a book chiding America for driving energy inefficient automobiles? Where does a guy whose family bulldozed 2.1 million square feet of pristine Hawaiian wilderness to put a Gap, an Old Navy, a Sears, an Abercrombie and even a motherfucking Foot Locker in paradise get off preaching to the rest of us about the need for a “Green Revolution”? Well, he’ll explain it all to you in 438 crisply written pages for just $27.95, $30.95 if you have the misfortune to be Canadian.

    "Foot Locker in paradise" would be a great Weird Al refrain for a satire on both Friedman and Eddie Money.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Reverend Dennis says:

    Friedman is to insightful prose what balsa wood is to cell phones.

  17. 17
    Lee from NC says:

    @jenniebee:

    I was thinking more Jimmy Buffet, but yeah, Foot Locker in Paradise. It almost writes itself.

    Also too, Matt Taibbi is genius. You betcha.

  18. 18
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Isn’t Friedman the guy whose wife just lost like 95% of her (read: their) wealth due to her family’s mall-managment company going tits up?

    I’m guessing he’s so distraught right now from the thought that he may one day have to actually order from the value menu and pump his own gas, that his columns are suffering because of it.

  19. 19
    Zifnab says:

    Where does a man who needs his own offshore drilling platform just to keep the east wing of his house heated get the balls to write a book chiding America for driving energy inefficient automobiles? Where does a guy whose family bulldozed 2.1 million square feet of pristine Hawaiian wilderness to put a Gap, an Old Navy, a Sears, an Abercrombie and even a motherfucking Foot Locker in paradise get off preaching to the rest of us about the need for a “Green Revolution”? Well, he’ll explain it all to you in 438 crisply written pages for just $27.95, $30.95 if you have the misfortune to be Canadian.

    Yeah, I’m sorry, but that simply stinks of the "Al Gore Has A Big House" argument. Ultimately, his wife’s business practices don’t make his personal statements and more or less well-informed. If she cuts down a thousand acres of rain forest to put up wall-to-wall Whataburgers, and Friedman proceeds to write an editorial about how clear cutting rain forests is bad, and Whataburgers do serious harm to the environment, he might be a hypocrite but he’s not any less correct than a member of Greenpeace that releases the same thing.

    Friedman is full of crap because he is full of crap. His house, his car, his wife’s business, his new paper’s printing practices, and his last three vacations have nothing to do with it.

  20. 20
    Andrew says:

    Well, peach, maybe he can meet up with David Brooks for a meal at the Applebee’s salad bar.

  21. 21
    jenniebee says:

    Anybody else seen Taibbi’s Rolling Stone piece, Bush Apologizes: The Farewell Interview We Wish He’d Give: W. comes clean – on his dad, Condi’s farts and the time Dick waterboarded the house boy? Unfortunately, the best parts seem to only be in the print edition…

    Worth getting a paper copy, IMHO.

  22. 22
    wilfred says:

    Minus shoes, this is appropriate treatment:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv6nvMUq10U

  23. 23
    John PM says:

    "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf" is pretty long.

    BTW, isn’t “Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?” the title of the sequel to "Springtime for Hitler"?

  24. 24

    Friedman freebases lard and Krispy Kreme icing.

    But the maddening thing about him is how many otherwise intelligent people actually read his big ass word salads in the NYTimes and ASSume he is right. The most insightful parts of the piece where Taibbi exposes Friedman for who he is and what he does.

    Thomas Friedman is not a president, a pope, a general on the field of battle or any other kind of man of action. He doesn’t actually do anything apart from talk about shit in a newspaper. So in my mind it’s highly relevant if his manner of speaking is fucked.

    snip.

    This is Friedman’s life: He flies around the world, eats pricey lunches with other rich people and draws conclusions about the future of humanity by looking out his hotel window and counting the Applebee’s signs.

  25. 25
    jrg says:

    Friedman is full of crap because he is full of crap. His house, his car, his wife’s business, his new paper’s printing practices, and his last three vacations have nothing to do with it.

    Amen to that. The fact that Friedman has won multiple Pulitzer prizes is further proof of the sad state of journalism.

    I made it about 70 pages into "The World is Flat", and realized that I had learned almost nothing at all. Maybe it’s because I work in tech, and have been watching the forces he describes for many years.

    There are hundreds of thousands of Americans that could do a better job writing columns than Friedman, in four easy steps: 1) State the glaringly obvious. 2) Give yourself a 50-page literary BJ for figuring out step "1" 3) Draw the wrong conclusion, and 4) Argue for hare-brained strategy for dealing with the incorrect conclusion drawn in step "3".

    This is Friedman’s life: He flies around the world, eats pricey lunches with other rich people and draws conclusions about the future of humanity by looking out his hotel window and counting the Applebee’s signs.

    Yep, that’s about the extent of it.

  26. 26
    jenniebee says:

    @Zifnab: I see your point, but Friedman takes it to new levels. When your fortune is made on by marrying into strip malls and you write a book that says that the problem is that too many people are consuming too much, you aren’t just a hypocrite, you’re playing a blame shift game. It isn’t that Friedman is consuming just like everybody else, so nobody should listen to him, it’s that Friedman is making a fortune by the creation of artificial and competitive rat race demand, and now he’s written a book that takes his & his wife’s role out of the picture.

    If a meth dealer were to calmly explain that the country had a serious drug problem and that problem is all the fault of the users, treating his own role as an invisible (and inevitable) component of the marketplace – just a businessman responding to ever increasing demand, we could respond by arguing about whether the drug problem exists. And you’re right that it would be fallacious to argue that the problem doesn’t exist because the person who says it does also smokes pot. But if we decide that there is a problem and we skip entirely over the question of the dealer’s special role in creating it, we give him a free pass. It’s the same with Friedman as it is with any drug dealer: he hooked people on addictive acquisition of cheap goods with hidden long-term costs, and now he’s trying to blame his junkies for what’s happened to the neighborhood.

  27. 27
    TR says:

    Thomas Friedman = Tom Tucker from "Family Guy"

  28. 28
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Friedman is the poster boy for the mentality if you are going to bluff, bluff big. I think his three holes analogy is a metaphor for his personal life.

    "Blair gets high and writes a paper about Moby Dick."

    — Damn. Video link??

  29. 29
    TR says:

    Here’s the Facts of Life episode — but it was Sue Ann, not Blair.

  30. 30
    Svensker says:

    Friedman is a bloviating gasbag who thinks that the sweat sheen on his double chins means that he’s made outta polished platinum.

    He’s also a buffoon, a nincompoop, a warmonger, a chickenhawk and a racist.

    I love Matt Taibbi.

  31. 31
    Balconesfault says:

    @spork_incident:

    The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade a/k/a "Marat/Sade".

    Yep, that lept immediately to mind, as well as The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

  32. 32
    Zifnab says:

    @jenniebee:

    If a meth dealer were to calmly explain that the country had a serious drug problem and that problem is all the fault of the users, treating his own role as an invisible (and inevitable) component of the marketplace – just a businessman responding to ever increasing demand, we could respond by arguing about whether the drug problem exists.

    He wouldn’t be any less wrong than if he was a member of the DEA or a pop psychologist or a resident that lives down in the wards, sees drug dealers and users every day, and is just talking out his ass.

    The meth dealer is a problem because he is a meth dealer. He is also a problem because he is floating "common wisdom" that blames the victim and fails to really address the problem. And the fact that he’s a meth dealer complaining about meth addicts might make him an asshole, but it doesn’t make him any more or less correct. If he was a meth dealer complaining about meth dealers, or a meth dealer complaining about inner city schools that propagate drug use, or a meth dealer complaining about high unemployment which in turn encourages meth use, he’d still be a meth dealer – and thus a blight on society – but his statements wouldn’t be any more or less true for the first offense.

    Friedman’s family fortune is built on commercial blight. His columns are based on frivolous nonsense. These are two very distinct problems that have just accumulated themselves in a single individual.

  33. 33
    Dr. Squid says:

    Tom Friedman’s mustache has figured out how to get around the Pauli Exclusion Principle.

  34. 34
    Cryptic ned says:

    There are well-known plays called "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Momma’s Hung You In The Closet And I’m Feeling So Sad" and "The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds", so it’s not out of the question. But Friedman’s proposed title would definitely be shortened to two or even only one long-winded question if it were actually staged.

  35. 35
    fliegr says:

    In my desirable but technically unfeasible world, Matt Taibbi is the incoming White House Press Secretary.

  36. 36
    Mouse Tolliver says:

    I’m sure Tony Soprano and Christopher Moltisanti could explain how one person could be in three holes at once. (see Cifaretto, Ralph) But that person would be in no condition to do any digging.

  37. 37
    Mouse Tolliver says:

    re:
    Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?

    Long play titles:

    "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds"

    "Oh Dad Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad"

    Nope, not as long…

    EDIT: oops. Asked and answered.

  38. 38
    jenniebee says:

    @Zifnab:

    And the fact that he’s a meth dealer complaining about meth addicts might make him an asshole, but it doesn’t make him any more or less correct.

    It does make him more self-serving, though, and that ought to make a reasonable person suspicious.

    Look, Friedman isn’t just arguing that there is such a thing as global warming; he is arguing, if I can take Taibbi’s summation for granted:

    Its basic premise is that America’s decades-long habit of gluttonous energy consumption has adversely affected humanity because a) while the earth could support America’s indulgence, it can’t sustain two billion endlessly-copulating Chinese should they all choose to live in American-style excess, and b) the exploding global demand for oil artificially subsidizes repressive Middle Eastern dictatorships that would otherwise have to rely on tax revenue (read: listen to their people) in order to survive, and this subsidy leads to terrorism and a spread of “unfreedom.”

    and part A of that is only arguable in that it’s doubtful whether American exceptionalism really extends all the way to weather systems giving us a get out of jail free card. Part B is half "well, duh" obvious and half "use of his swhat?" bizarre. The idea that Osama’s interest in international politics is due to the domestic disenfranchisement of the bin Laden family is so phenomenally stupid that all any sane person can do is point, laugh, and load up the cream pies. But nowhere in all of this does Friedman bring up point C, which is that maybe the American corporate interests and the philosophical and ideological justifications for them (i.e. globalization and free market economics) bear a responsibility for the level of consumption that has brought us to the mess we’re in. Instead, consumerism, globalization and free market economics are now his three-shovel prescription for getting us out of this mess.

    So no, I don’t think that we ought to back off of Friedman because he’s finally figured out how to make a buck off of going green. I think we ought to point out that his self-appointed role over the past few decades has been to be the mouthpiece for bad solutions to obvious problems, and that maybe he’d be doing everybody a favor if he just shut up before he does any more damage, kthxbai.

  39. 39
    R-Jud says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    Tom Friedman’s mustache has figured out how to get around the Pauli Exclusion Principle.

    Making his mustache smarter than he is.

    Actually, maybe that’s the explanation for him: his mustache receives messages from the cosmos, causing him to be an insufferable blowhard. If you shaved it off, he’d lose his powers and go away.

  40. 40
    p.a. says:

    He’s not drugged. He’s losing it. There is a whole class of asshats who have bought into 30 years of ‘free trade/free market’ wishful thinking and 8 years of Republican ballwashing who now see their dreamscape imploding, and they don’t know what else to say. Result; what has always been ridiculous babblenomics is now exposed as such. "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
    Not enough moral fiber to just say "I was wrong" and fade away.

  41. 41
    satby says:

    @p.a.:

    Not enough moral fiber to just say "I was wrong" and fade away

    Oh please, no one would pay him for that or invite him on the teevee.

  42. 42
    Hob says:

    @Zifnab:
    Sadly, I think it’s the other way around: Friedman wants to be a wild and crazy guy, or thinks he is. But the result is like Toby Keith trying to do gangsta rap.

    I wonder if Taibbi may be making this worse; Friedman is so un-self-aware that he could read Taibbi’s flyting of him and think "Cool! I bet people like writers who can make up unusual phrases and parodies of titles and stuff!", rather than "Fucking Taibbi, what an asshole" or "Oh my God, Taibbi’s right, I am a stone cold fool."

  43. 43
    Lamont Cranston says:

    Really, it’s hard to not just quote the whole review. That said, this was my favorite part:

    And who cares if it doesn’t quite make sense when Friedman says that Iraq is like a “vase we broke in order to get rid of the rancid water inside?”Who cares that you can just pour water out of a vase, that only a fucking lunatic breaks a perfectly good vase just to empty it of water? … My initial answer to that is that Friedman’s language choices over the years have been highly revealing: When a man who thinks you need to break a vase to get the water out of it starts arguing that you need to invade a country in order to change the minds of its people, you might want to start paying attention to how his approach to the vase problem worked out.

  44. 44
    Deb T says:

    This is the best quote from Taibbi:

    "This is Friedman’s life: He flies around the world, eats pricey lunches with other rich people and draws conclusions about the future of humanity by looking out his hotel window and counting the Applebee’s signs."

  45. 45
    Brett says:

    Although it doesn’t change the validity of his points, I think Friedman’s lavish life-style and wealth based off of the exact opposite of what he’s arguing for does count against him in terms of points.

    Remember that Friedman isn’t just saying "Over-consumption is a problem, blah, blah, blah", he’s making a call-to-action. One that he isn’t following, by the way, and that’s a problem, since many of the environmental issues have to do with resource usage, and Friedman seems to want to have his cake and eat it too.

  46. 46
    priscianus jr says:

    "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed By the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis De Sade" is a play by Peter Weiss from around 1967. As you see, this title is WAY longer than that of Friedman’s celebrated opus, “Who owns this hotel? Can the Jews have a room? And shouldn’t we blow up the bar and replace it with a mosque?”
    However, the Weiss title is a tight syntactic unit, which, as Doug has astutely noted, can hardly be said of Friedman’s.

  47. 47
    Nancy Irving says:

    The longest play title I can think of is "Oh Dad Poor Dad Momma’s Locked You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad …"

  48. 48

    Flat, Crowded, And Moronic…

    The Article: Matt Taibbi’s review of Thomas Friedmans latest book, Hot, Flat and Crowded.
    The Text: When some time ago a friend of mine told me that Thomas Friedman’s new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, was going to be a kind of environmentalis…

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  1. Flat, Crowded, And Moronic…

    The Article: Matt Taibbi’s review of Thomas Friedmans latest book, Hot, Flat and Crowded.
    The Text: When some time ago a friend of mine told me that Thomas Friedman’s new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, was going to be a kind of environmentalis…

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