Saturday, August 18, 2007

The ‘Stache that Wouldn’t Die.

Captain Obvious to World: I apologize…for loving too much!

(All quotes and citations either approximate or given a shamefully mocking verisimilitude by me.)

I saw “No End in Sight” (NOW segment, review and video clips here) last evening after marking up what I was going to write about Captain Obvious’ appearance on the Cholly Rose Show (What with the war in Iraq reaching it’s eleven-hundredth “decisive stage”, hey, why not have the Moustache of Understanding back on? For an entire hour. To emote badly all over our shoes.)

And now I find that it is harder than I thought to finish this post off without letting the awful, grieving “Why in the name of God was this allowed to happen?” sensation that I took away from the theater inflect every inch of it.

“No End in Sight” is not the saddest movie I’ve ever seen, but it is possibly the most tragic. Precisely because it is a story told without frills or hyperbole, by level-headed pros and insiders, the sheer weight and magnitude of the Hell on Earth that the Bush Administration has unleashed on the world leaps immediately into awful focus and stays center-stage for the entire 1:42 run time.

And against that backdrop, the pompous, precious, clatter of Tom Friedman’s self-rationalizing fart-sniffery stands out like a yipping, attention-starved, diuretic teacup poodle running wild at a state funeral.

At some point you realize don’t just want to drop-kick the dog into a blast furnace, but you also want to track its trail of drool and poop back to its owner and ask: “What in the fuck were you thinking turning that mangy, howling, turd loose at these solemn proceedings in the first place?”

There was, of course, the obligatory commercial for The Book, featuring painfully unfunny Flatworld badinage about what Grandma Friedman told him as a mere barefoot hack with cheek of tan back in Minner-sowder.

What is Captain Obvious most afraid of trade-wise? Why, when he hears “some Democratic candidates who say ‘Woe is me!’ and want to build walls”, of course.

Problem is, I have not heard a single fucking Democrat moaning ‘Woe is me!’ and not a one of them wants to build walls.

Friedman notes that the downside of the blogosphere is that the norms of good journalisming aren't followed.

When I stopped laughing at this Emperor of Shallow -- this poster-child for Big Media intellectual dishonesty, who somehow never lacks for just the right jaunty, colorful, local cab driver in Bangalore or be on hand at exactly the right magically declaim the prefect quote...that just happens to slot exactly into the two, remaining empty column-inches of the twaddle Friedman just happened to be writing right then -- complaining that the Little People were not jounalisming right, I also noted that he dinged the blogosphere for “bad sourcing” and for the fact that the “dishonorable user” has lots of power.

So I promptly filed that under “Judith Miller”, cross-referenced it with “Fox News”, “Matt Drudge” and “Twenty Unrebutted Years of Hate Radio” and then immediately convened a Blogger Ethics Panel.

Captain Obvious continued…doggedly excreting little, empty, eyebrow-arched epigrams of Moustachy Enlightenment in exactly the same manner as a rabbit producing pellets.

Friedman: The things that are connecting us…(Lavish Shatner pause) are also dividing us.

Friedman: We were in touch with the Web, but Humberto (his humble native guide through the rain forest) was in touch with…(Lavish Shatner pause) the web of life.

Friedman: What can be done in business…(Lavish Shatner pause) will be done.

This last is, in fact, his Big Flat Rule of Business; the one he insists we all need to get used to.

Well, slavery “can be done”, right? And lucratively, too.

Child sexual exploitation for profit “can be done”.

Murder, blackmail and extortion “can be done”.

The wholesale looting of a country’s natural resources and intellectual properties “can be done”.

And have been done. And are being done.

Philosophically, gangsterism and robber-baron capitalism run along side-by-side: twin rails carrying nations and people packed into a “What Can Be Done” cattle-car into a Hobbsean abattoir where morality has been aggressively excised from the marketplace.

Yes, some jobs will always fly, fly away. Some parts of some industries will die or disappear over the horizon. But Friedman is simply, flatly wrong to conflate these thing into some Larger Morality and suggest that greasing the skids for a universal race to the bottom is a Good Thing.

That the proper reaction to the ugliness of unfettered globalization is, apparently, to relax, get some more C++ training, and be quick like a bunny to keep your family and your 401K out of the path of the avalanche.

He simply ignores the fact that these are human institutions, and can be moved by values as well as valuta. Dismisses the fact that principled men and women who believe in and work for environmentalism, worker’s rights, human rights and Fair Trade are not Evil Liberal Fortress America panic-peddlers who “want to put up walls”.

On Iraq...

Friedman: The only measure of the success of the surge…(Lavish Shatner pause) is if there is an Iraq.

Friedman: We have the military surge, but where…(Lavish Shatner pause) is the diplomatic surge?

Friedman: I’d send Big Time Serious Diplomats over and have them come back and tell me one of three things:
1. We can win.
2. We can partition.
3. We cannot win.
So Captain Obvious has boldly taken the whole “We will wait until Iraq sprouts wings and flies to the Arctic circle where we’ll call it Nour’Way” option.

Merciful Zule, what an ass. What an embarrassment, and yet there he and Cholly Rose sat, rubbing their tiny paws together, smirking, lobbing around meaningless platitudes and excitedly interrupting each other as if they were on the verge of personally developing -- then and there -- a working cold fusion reactor.

Or like two, basement-dwelling 40-year-old virgins breathlessly sharing ancient, yellowed smut mined from the neighbor’s dumpster.

Friedman: One good example is worth …(Lavish Shatner pause) a thousand theories.

Friedman: I do (believe we need a deadline). I’ve believed that now for a year and a half.

OK, doing the maths…year and a half…today’s the 8/18…carry the friedman unit…OK, that’d be on or about February, 2006.

So let us go a wassailing back to the wintry days when 2006 was only one month old:

First citation cluster via this invaluable timeline.
January 2006: "I think that we're going to know after six to nine months whether this project has any chance of succeeding..." --Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist, appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show"

March 2, 2006: "I think we are in the end game. The next six to nine months are going to tell whether we can produce a decent outcome in Iraq." --Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist, appearing on NBC's "Today" show

April 23, 2006: "So one way or another, I think we're in the end game in the sense it's going to be decided in the next weeks or months whether there's an Iraq there worth investing in. And that is something only Iraqis can tell us." --Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist, appearing on CNN

May 11, 2006: ""We're going to find out... in the next year to six months -- probably sooner - whether a decent outcome is possible..." -- Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist, appearing on MSNBC's "Hardball"

Less than a year ago, on November, 29, 2006, (from the NYT via this site): "Given this, we need to face our real choices in Iraq, which are: 10 months or 10 years. Either we just get out of Iraq in a phased withdrawal over 10 months, and try to stabilize it some other way, or we accept the fact that the only way it will not be a failed state is if we start over and rebuild it from the ground up, which would take 10 years.
Now lately Friedman had sidled quietly over in the general direction of the "deadline" side of the bunkhouse, but his is still a deadline-of-the-mind.

Instead of "Get the fuck out by ??/??/??" -- which is what an actual deadline would look like -- Friedman prefers the idea of a deadline.

A conditional, theoretical, “either we leave soon or, hey, just maybe…” deadline.

The threat of a deadline.

The notion of a deadline.

And even, festooned with “yeah, buts”, the lazy, Mindless-Reflex-Centrism, declarative-sentence-phobic Friedman always leaves himself a back door.

As in this NYT column from March of this year, which, near the top, offers this hopeful sentence:
"I hope the Democrats, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, keep pushing to set a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq..."
And then his sentiment collapses like public infrastructure under Republican rule when it comes to the details. (emphasis and “Lavish Shatner pause” added for entertainment purposes)
"The other useful function Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues are performing is to give the president and Gen. David Petraeus, our commander in Iraq, the leverage of a deadline without a formal deadline. How so?

The surge can’t work without political reconciliation among Iraqi factions, which means Sunni-Shiite negotiations — and such negotiations are unlikely to work without America having the “leverage” of telling the parties that if they don’t compromise, we will leave. (Deadlines matter. At some point, Iraqis have to figure this out themselves.)

As for General Petraeus, I have no idea whether his military strategy is right, but at least he has one — and he has stated that by “late summer” we should know if it’s working. As General Petraeus told the BBC last week, “I have an obligation to the young men and women in uniform out here, that if I think it’s not going to happen, to tell them that it’s not going to happen, and there needs to be a change.”

We need to root for General Petraeus to succeed, and hold him to those words if he doesn’t — not only for the sake of the soldiers on the ground, but also so that Mr. Bush is not allowed to drag the war out until the end of his term, and then leave it for his successor to unwind.

“But how will General Petraeus or Congress judge if the surge is working?

“It may be obvious, …(Lavish Shatner pause) but it may not be.
To his credit, Rose did ask something like the following: People want you to write a column apologizing for being such a relentlessly asshatted moron. What say you?

Which – although it had the sharp stink of a well-rehearsed puppet show -- I do believe is the very first time anyone has dared to ask Captain Obvious that question.

Friedman: If you look at what I wrote before the war…that this was really important, and I won’t apologize for that. I won’t apologize for believing that unicorns are wonderful.

Friedman: It was hope over experience…

Friedman: After 9/11…

Friedman: Very much affected by my travels in the region (so many cab drivers told me of their great love of my American dollars.)

Friedman: The pathologies of the region are so deep…

Friedman: If I’m guilty, it’s of three things.

Notice how creepily Friedman deploys the First Person Pronoun: as if he and Iraq were personally in divorce court together, and he’s on the stand, fetal-ed up in an angry ball, moaning how he did everything he could, and how it was all her fault.

Friedman: To just go on like this. The chase some rainbow…

Friedman: If I am guilty of anything, it is…(Lavish Shatner pause) wanting it more than they did. So many people wanted this to work. (I was too good a husband.)

Friedman: If I am guilty of anything, it is…(Lavish Shatner pause) misunderestimated how broke(n) Iraq was. It was even more broken than I thought. (She was more fucked up than even I, The Noble Moustache of Understanding, could redeem.)

Friedman: If I am guilty of anything, it is…(Lavish Shatner pause) misunderestimating the depths of depravity of our opponents. (I was just trying to do what was best for this poor, ignorant, emotionally unstable woman, and she cut my balls off. It’s almost as if she didn’t want me there anymore?)

What doesn’t he mention as one of the The Three Things he feels he just fucking blew is Rumsfeld

Or Bush.

Or Cheney.

Or Powell.

Or Rice.

Or Kristol.

Or Wolfowitz.

Or Feith.

Or Perle.

Yes, he does get cranky at the Administration for believing the decapitation and reformatting of Iraq would be easy. Yes he does “damn them” for putting in “just enough troops to lose”. But he stands strongly by his “tilt theory”...

Friedman: Like with the former Soviet Union, which world leaders combined to give a positive slope that may manifest itself into a really new Russia in a generation, I thought is we could just take a country in the heart of the middle east and “tip is upwards” then…

Really? And when exactly was it, Tom, that be bombed the guts out of Russia, invaded, disbanded the Soviet Army, and set up a pasha palace in Moscow?

Friedman: I wanted to find a way to collaborate with people there to build a different future. Not “war” necessarily…

Ah, and there it is; the Big Lie at the heart of Friedman’s timorous, NeoCon soul. He sets up a theoretical problem that can only be “solved” on his timetable militarily, and then flees in horror when the consequence of that militarism become apparent.

Sorry, Tom, but under the simple doctrine of “when you will the ends, you will the means” there is no escaping your complicity.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, “they” are angry at our conquest and illegitimate occupation “because of the pathologies in the region”.

Friedman: If I am guilty of anything, it is…(Lavish Shatner pause) being too hopeful.

Shorter Captain Obvious: I loveses too much! I careses too deeply. Look! Look how I bleed!

Friedman: Color me foolish, but when it came to this issue I kept my politics at the door. I will think about things irrespective of whether or not I like or agree with this Administration.

Friedman: We didn’t to the basics.

Other, shorter Friedman: Fuck you. I’m not taking back anything. I’m not apologizing for anything.

Friedman thought we could march in and democratize a foreign land at the point of a bayonet. He still believes it.

And of course, ever the Neocon, Flathead Tom leaves the door open for making the same blind-drunk imperial mistakes over and over again.

Friedman: (In Iraq) “we didn’t have a proper lab test” for my Genius Neocon theories. I still think using Western Christian Occupiers with Swords to humiliate the Brown Hordes into beat their swords into plowshares is a fucking brilliant idea.

Over in the Better Universe, Charlie Rose would’ve slung an M16A4 M4* and an Army contract across the table and said: “OK, dickhead…(Lavish Shatner pause) suit up or shut up.”

But this is not that Universe.

*(Thanks, Robert)


DavidW in SF said...

I had expected to be angry in seeing the film "No End in Sight". What I didn't expect was coming out of the film profoundly heart-broken at what such unnecessary tragedy we inflicted on the people of Iraq.

I highly recommend this film.

Bollox Ref said...

Oh for some bold, energetic soul to confront Friedman in studio with all his 'six to ten months' BS.......... a glorious harangue as The Moustache scrambles desperately for the exit.......... his Unit providing an eloquent, yellow trail of exclamation.

PhysioProf said...

"He simply ignores the fact that these are human institutions, and can be moved by values as well as valuta."

But, but, but, the free market is so efficient!

"Shorted Captain Obvious: I loveses too much! I careses too deeply. Look! Look how I bleed!"

Yep, classic wife-murderer bullshit.

Robert said...

Listen, I love your blog, read it religiously, and send your brilliant posts to family and friends. But there is no such thing as an M16A4. There's the M4, which is the short little jobber everyone carries these days, and the M16A2 you see every now and then that's the long, musket looking rifle. Just FYI.

Anonymous said...

The M16A4

whig said...

So if we can't occupy Iraq forever, he thinks we should at least carve off a piece?

CMike said...

This post is the definitive Tom Friedman smackdown. It will be the standard text on the subject for years to come.

Just think, the guy is a billionaire, or at least he's married to one, and he doesn't have anything better to do with his time.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, such a stoopid man talking from such a high perch, giving us his thoughts on the 'great game', from the "eternal sea he rises". Our own NYT Damian, appears to be good, supports and enables all that is bad. The husband comparison is great. And best of all, reading this substituted for watching the full hour (only got thru 15 minutes. Yech, what dreck.)

Gay Veteran said...

Over in the Better Universe, Charlie Rose would’ve slung an M16A4 M4* and an Army contract across the table and said: “OK, dickhead…(Lavish Shatner pause) suit up or shut up.”

A neo-con enlist? You could only give him a 9mm in the vain hope he would do the honorable thing.

Jebus, I am so weary of these pants-pissing cowards.