Open Thread: Beat-Down Pick-Me-Up

Tom Scocca at Slate brings his half-brick-in-a-sock to the Moustache of Understanding’s latest extrusion:

The Silent Majority Wants a Dictatorship Run by Thomas Friedman
How popular are those Tea Parties you’ve been hearing about? So popular that now Thomas Friedman wants one of his own…
[W]hat America desires, by happy coincidence, is a Party of Stuff That Is Important to Thomas Friedman. If only your existing government would get out of the way, this party could move forward, building on the success of the Friedman policy aims that have already been implemented, such as unrestricted global trade and the invasion of Iraq. What else could this broke, dispirited, and war-weary nation ask for?
The beauty of all the listed prescriptions is that they are, by Friedman’s definition, both obviously necessary and obviously popular. The banner of Reform waves back and forth, in all its question-begging glory. Education must be made better! The financial system must be made better! The climate must be made better!
Do you disagree with Thomas Friedman? You would prefer bad education, a defective financial system, and a worse climate. No wonder all of America is against you.

55 replies
  1. 1
    Bullsmith says:

    Scocca’s really good. His Barnacle takedown is also excellent.

  2. 2
    Lev says:

    The Silent Majority Wants a Dictatorship Run by Thomas Friedman

    Yeah, they are really fuckin’ silent.

  3. 3
    dmsilev says:

    Amusing: O’Keefe tries to spin his way out of the hole he dug for himself

    “When the CNN idea was pitched to me, I’ll admit that I liked the basic absurdity of meeting Abbie Boudreau on a boat and the idea of counter-seduction satire executed in a tame, humorous, non-threatening manner,” he said. “After all, as all liberal reporters do, she was trying to ‘seduce’ (a metaphor) me so she could get more for her story. It would be fun, I thought, to turn the tables in jest. However, I was repulsed by the over-the-top language and symbolism that was suggested in the memo that was sent to me, and never considered that for a moment.”

    O’Keefe also said he believes that Izzy Santa, the now-former director of his organization who warned Boudreau of the plan, was acting in his best interests. Santa, he said, “was simply trying to protect me and the organization from a dangerous and objectionable plan, one sent to me in my personal emails that she assumed, wrongly, and probably due to my own lack of communication to her, that I was going to implement.”

    Wonder if anyone is naive enough to believe that he was “repulsed” by the idea.

    Edit: And, of course, he was so grateful to Ms. Santa that she is now a former director of his organization.

  4. 4

    Bear in mind that I had to google Thomas Friedman.

    So what I can determine is that he is this dude who would gladly vote for “none of the above” and still enjoy the benefits of living in an organized nation. He thinks it’s cool that some folks “on both coasts” are talking about raising a third political party.

    As it happens, these folks are muy rico and would probably have a platform slightly to the right of Il Duce.

    Is this correct?

    Questions: Is he serious? Is he just having fun?

    Or did somebody spike his waterpipe?

  5. 5
    jl says:

    But hasn’t this Very Serious Wise Man party (I call it the Friedman Faction of the Broder Brigade) has already been nonelected to run the catfood commission.

    Are there other feats of strength these dudes have in mind?

    What more do they want?

  6. 6
    Balconesfault says:

    You would prefer bad education, a defective financial system, and a worse climate. No wonder all of America is against you.

    And a spherical world too. Friggin Pythagoreans.

  7. 7

    Someone tell me again why I should pay attention to the first word Thomas Friedman writes? Seriously, I’d rather go back to reading my students’ papers on Lysistrata than read anything he writes.

    Fuck it. Read some poetry. I wrote it. They published it. I make no claims beyond that.

  8. 8
    Comrade Luke says:

    Doesn’t Friedman win if everyone rips his column, resulting in everyone going to read it, resulting in the Times getting more revenue from everyone?

  9. 9
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Yes, yes, no, and he would be outraged at the very idea.

    Friedman is a high-IQ achiever who decided to specialize in telling rich, influential people exactly what they wanted to hear, with the assistance of powerpoint-worthy catchphrases. He is so good at his chosen profession that he not only got a precious permanent slot on the NYTimes op-ed page, he also got to marry a many-multi-millionaire’s daughter and live in a Westchester mansion larger than most New England family farms, when he wasn’t travelling around the world to give speeches telling rich influential people whatever they wanted to hear this week. Tragically, his father-in-law’s mall development corporation has lost something like 80% of its value due to the recent Financial Unpleasantness, and therefore Tom Friedman is very, very unhappy with the current American political system, whose highest duty (as Tom Friedman sees it) is to ensure that Tom Friedman’s father-in-law will never be reduced to his last few tens of millions. If you need more details, google Matt Taibbi + Friedman…

  10. 10
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I believe this was a Simpson’s episode. And it took Stephen Hawking to fix it.

  11. 11

    Since this open thread includes the label Assholes:

    Some middle school kids just threw our pumpkin at our living room window and broke it. The window and the pumpkin. Fucking hooligans.

  12. 12
    Ash Can says:

    @dmsilev: I wonder if he came up with all that bullshit himself, or if Andrew Breitbart shoveled it all up for him.

  13. 13
    PeakVT says:

    I think everybody has talked about they would do if they were made king for a day. But unlike Friedman, everybody else was both drunk and wise enough not to expect to be taken seriously.

  14. 14
    Kinky Beats says:

    @Comrade Luke

    Great Point.

    I feel dirty now.

  15. 15
    Ash Can says:

    @You Don’t Say: Do you know who they are/where they live? If so, by all means go raise hell with their parents, bill in hand.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Sharl says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus):
    I describe myself as being handicapped with a tin ear, where poetry is concerned. So take the following for whatever it’s worth…

    I really liked your writing. Had a nicely flowing speak-song quality to it. I could create pictures (animation?) in my head as I read through it. Nice.

  18. 18
    Maude says:

    @Ash Can:
    I’d call the police. That’s beyond mischief. They may also be going around doing this.

  19. 19

    @Ash Can: I have little doubt that Breitbart helped him fashion it, but it’s the weasely kind of thing that most any half-competent writer can throw out there with about ten minutes lead time. But when this thing broke, Breitbart threatened Oliver Willis on Twitter with a lawsuit for saying that O’Keefe was part of Breitbart’s posse. I sort of wish Oliver had taken him up on it, because I bet discovery on that suit would have been a motherfucker for Breitbart.

  20. 20
    R-Jud says:

    @You Don’t Say:

    Some middle school kids just threw our pumpkin at our living room window and broke it. The window and the pumpkin. Fucking hooligans.

    Call the police, seriously.

  21. 21
    Gordon Guano says:

    Half bricks in socks? Negotiable affection? Somebody has been reading Sir Terry Pratchett.

  22. 22
    Woody says:

    I know plenty of mini-Moustaches of Understanding – they’re not particularly rare, you know. They can usually be spotted at gatherings in the Reasonable Position – where every problem has a simple solution, if only the [insert people completely outside the m-MoU’s circles] accepted Entirely Reasonable Changes to their obviously errant ways.

    Not so-coincidentally, the Reasonable Position changes rapidly into Frothing Disgust should a listener have the temerity to propose the same type of change to the mini-Moustache’s existence.

  23. 23
    dmsilev says:

    @Ash Can: Probably. I know Breitbart publicly threw O’Keefe under the bus, but I think it’s likely that he’s still supporting him in private. With fatherly advice like “stick to smearing poor black folks”.


  24. 24
    lamh31 says:

    Ok, this is so not really important, but does anyone here watch “Fringe” in FOX?

  25. 25

    @R-Jud: My husband did and they’re supposedly on their way over. He also got one of the names of the kids from another kid and went to the school to report it. (We live half a block from it.) A bunch of neighbors who have lived here forever came out to commiserate. They’ve done shit for years around here. I wouldn’t be too upset except my husband is leaving on a three-week road trip tomorrow leaving me alone with our neurotic dog. He barks big then hides. ;-)

  26. 26

    @Sharl: Thanks Sharl. My book’s coming out soon–it’s with the publisher right now–and I’ll be trying to sell the hell out of it. Just fair warning.

  27. 27
    MattR says:

    @lamh31: Just caught up on the first two episodes of the season over the weekend.

  28. 28
    jl says:

    @Woody: Looks like the Perot campaign left some scars, there.

  29. 29
    lamh31 says:


    I’m just watching the season ep now, I’m gonna watch the 2nd ep next. I really like this show. I didn’t plan on watching it, but then a friend suggested I watch the first do and I gotta tell ya that after 3 eps of the first season, I was hooked.

    So how soon before they figure out that real olivia is on the other side?

  30. 30
    KG says:

    Sounds like he’s trying to be Plato, only, you know, with out the whole philosopher-king part.

    Government is inherently flawed because it is an institution of man and we tend to be a petty, selfish lot. There is no real way to fix it other than diffusing power as much as possible. Too much power in one place leads to bad things, too much power spread too thin leads to bad things. The trick is to balance the powers and interests against each other, not to concentrate it in one person or a small group of people.

  31. 31
    MattR says:

    @lamh31: I was kinda in the same boat. I grudgingly started watching but got hooked early on. The only real weak part was the beginning of the second season when they had (?) to write Charlie out. Speaking of, I am guessing it will take a bit longer to figure out Olivia is a fake than it took with Charlie. First the real Olivia has to remember who she is and that she is trapped and start working towards the supposedly helpless task of getting back to our world. They could make that the entire focus of this season or they could resolve things in another 3 or 4 episodes and then focus on the doomsday machine. The obvious guess would be that Peter is the one who figures out that this Olivia is a fake, but I kinda think it will be Dr Bishop who realizes she does not have some talent that she should have.

    (EDIT: I should add that like most shows of this type I wont really know how I feel until all the various loose ends get tied up, or dont.)

  32. 32
    freelancer says:


    I’m catching up. I’m halfway through the 1st season, so if you wanted to OMFG gush about how awesome the 3rd season is or bitch about how bad or whatever, I’ll have little clue what you’re talking about.

  33. 33
    Ailuridae says:

    How is this the first time I have ever read Scocca? He’s really good.

    This piece making fun of Tim Ferriss and lifehacker in a goo-natured may made be laugh pretty hard

  34. 34
    MattR says:

    @freelancer: Oh god. Please don’t read my previous comment then.

  35. 35

    The police came and said they’d patrol the area when school lets out and are going over to the school now to talk to the principal.

    And my wonderful husband has agreed to postpone his trip for a week since I am spooked by all this.

  36. 36
    lamh31 says:


    Yeah, don’t read mine either.

    I kinda hope it doesn’t last all season. But I do think ur right that it will be Walter who figures it out. Petrr’s attraction to Olivia, will be the main reason it won’t be able to figure it out sooner!

    I like that it looks like they will be using Astrid more.

  37. 37
    Comrade Luke says:

    Interesting analysis by David Kaiser. A long read, but well worth it.

  38. 38

    @You Don’t Say:

    Sorry about your pumpkin.

    And the window.

    Is it cold where you live?

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @You Don’t Say:

    It may not be a bad idea to find out how to file a claim for the damage in small claims court in your area and send a copy of the paperwork to all of the kids’ parents. The prospect of having to pay money tends to wake up even the most neglectful parent.

  40. 40

    […] Laurie at Balloon Juice highlights a smackdown of MC T Friedman (aka The Moustache of Understanding ™ ) and his “Radical […]

  41. 41
  42. 42
    Dollared says:

    Sweet takedown.

    You know, Joel and Ethan Coen came from the same Minneapolis suburb as The Moustache. I really think they could do a Tommy Friedman biopic that would have just, exactly, the right touch (and no, they would not have someone feed him into a wood chipper, despite the temptation).

  43. 43

    I would think that it would take a lot of work to start a third political party.

    Maybe if Mr. Friedman spent a lot of time on that, he would stay out of trouble otherwise.

  44. 44

    @Linda Featheringill: It just turned cold. But it was an old-fashioned storm window (glass) that broke, not the inside window.

  45. 45
    MattR says:

    @lamh31: One thing I was just thinking about is that the longer Olivia stays over there, the more the writers are going to have to tell us about that world. I don’t know if the writers are ready to reveal all those mysteries yet.

    BTW – I also just had the flash that Walter will figure it out because he told the real Olivia the truth about Peter’s abduction while the other Olivia only knows the Walternate version.

  46. 46
    lamh31 says:


    That seems bout right. I think I read somewhere that they do plan to have some episodes from the “other-verse”. I still hope it doesn’t take the whole season, but if they can tell the story well enough then dragging it out might not be so bad.

  47. 47
    JR says:

    Thing I Have Actually Heard Earnestly Asserted in Conversations with My Family #4338:

    “Tom Friedman should be the goddamn President!”

    This has been another edition of Things I Have Actually Heard Earnestly Asserted in Conversations with My Family.

  48. 48

    That just … I mean … Wow.

  49. 49
    Uloborus says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus):
    You got a book sold? Lucky bugger. Well, the little reminder that it’s possible stiffens the spine!

  50. 50
    Jon H says:

    The inside of Friedman’s head looks like this.

  51. 51
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Jon H: Well . . . until someone shows me what soul-destroyingly vile process is used to manufacture the french fries, I still have those.

    And the shakes are still just plastic . . . right?

  52. 52

    @Uloborus: It’s a book of poems, so sold is a bit of a misnomer. A university press is willing to lose money on me, and in exchange, I get to sell as many of the books as I can. They’ll try selling them too, but there’s barely a budget for printing them. There’s nothing for marketing it, so that means I get to do it. Which is fine–it’s a book and it’s not a vanity press and it’ll help raise my profile a little more.

  53. 53
    Uloborus says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus):
    Ah, I see! I wish you great luck with it, anyway! It’s as tough in the creative market right now as in every other, I’m finding. But you’ll have it printed, and the best reward is knowing someone is reading and enjoying.

    …admittedly making a living is nice.

  54. 54
    jrg says:

    Friedman’s high on mustache wax if he thinks a “centrist” will ever get any of the things he wants through congress. If the president (or sultan, or king, or poobah, or whatever) isn’t a Republican, it will mean years of black helicopters, howling lunacy, and conspiracy theories.

    Anyone with half a brain should be able to see this for what it is. The fact that guys like Friedman get paid as much as they do without stating the obvious speaks volumes.

  55. 55
    Origuy says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus): Looks like we can expect another “Pimp My Shit” thread in a few weeks then. It’s been a while since the last one.

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