Friday, July 29, 2005

Thomas Friedman falls down

Did I take the wind out of Thomas Friedman's sails or what?

There's no way that I could read his column this morning ("All Fall Down") without a certain sadistic glee. If it's unkind of me, well we all have our unkind moments.

How things have changed for him.

This time last week, he was screaming about and lashing out at liberals which I think had more to do with his fear that our upstairs neighbor Jess might be interested in me. Please, Jess has enough women his own age to deal with. But when you're old, tubby and sport a bizarre mustache, I guess that a sleek, shiny, young colt like Jess must be very threatening. Which explains the face masks Thomas Friedman now wears religiously.

Just last weekend, he was asking me if he didn't look like Robert Wagner circa Hart to Hart. I told him I thought all the grooming had made him look like the marionette Madame. He didn't take well to that and I actually felt sorry for him.

If I'd known he'd been swapping spit with Patti Nelson Limerick at the time, I wouldn't have given a damn about the big titty baby's hurt feelings.

"All Fall Down" was the title of his column. Well all his hopes of having it both ways did. His hopes of playing me off Patti and vice versa.

There was a tail between the legs quality of his column. A little less boastful, though still as nutty.

When I was cleaning up the desk Monday, I found a bunch of post-its. One of which contained the lines:

If you like emotional dramas, you may want to pull up a chair and pop some popcorn, because this sort of political sound and light show comes along only every 30 or 40 years.

I just wonder how that column would have turned out if I hadn't curtailed his extra-marital activies? Instead, he reworked it for his column on the Middle East as:

If you like comparative politics, you may want to pull up a chair and pop some popcorn, because this sort of political sound and light show comes along only every 30 or 40 years.

He followed that with "How did it all happen?"

A question I'm sure is plauging him. Probably why he went with the Middle East today. Whenever the well's empty and Thomas Friedman has nothing to say, his columns head for the Middle East. It's a print version of a remix. Gail Collins always accuses him of coasting.

She may have a point, but possibly a larger point is when isn't he coasting?

Does anyone really think that his random musings spiced up with pop-cult refs is deep thought?

Mrs. K noticed how strange he looked in his official portrait for the Times. She called me yesterday to find out how it went with Patti Nelson Limerick. When we were through discussing that, she brought up his photo.

"Not to be cruel, but he looks like a turtle."

"Turkey neck and chins," I informed her.


"He said it's a Joan Collins trick. Just out the chin as far as you can and it reduces the flabby extra chins that hang below."


"He's a plethora of beauty tricks from old time movie stars," I informed her. "For instance, I'm constantly having to refill ice trays because there's never any ice in the house."

"Why not?"

"Because he read somewhere that Jean Harlow would ice her nipples to make them stand out."


"Yeah. And because Marilyn Monroe bleached down there, he's taken to adding highlights below the belt and not just to the hair on his head."


By comparison, Nicky K must look like Rob Petrie.

It never would have worked with Patti. Both of them have a desire to be worshipped and be seen as leaders. What happens if they end up with a flat tire?

Patti's offering bromides in the third person and Thomas Friedman's explaining the need for action via a McDonalds Happy Meal and no one's lifting a finger to change the tire.

It would have been like Mutiny of the Boring as they battled one another attempting to have the last overly worded word.

Both dream of creating a community but they don't want a real community. When you're Thomas Friedman and Patti Nelson Limerick you want a cult, a devoted one. So at some point it would have fizzled all on it's own.

But before that happened, Thomas Friedman would have "pulled up a chair" to enjoy the fireworks. (Or "sound and light show." He really doesn't get that most readers have no idea what he's talking about because they weren't getting doped up in the seventies and going to see Pink Floyd.) He wouldn't have popped any popcorn, though. He just would have hollered, "Bettina, corn me!"

Now Patti would never do that. She'd be too busy admiring herself and complaining that the glass on the microwave was see through and not a mirror. I wonder if the two of them had sex? With all the ego stroking they both do to themselves, I find it highly unlikely. They may have had a mutual masturbation but that's all I can see either of them doing together. They're too much into stroking themselves to reach out to anyone else.

Ring a ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down

Thomas Friedman's cheap fantasies did.

Reading his column this morning, I found myself humming the old Gladys Knight & the Pips song "Didn't You Know You'd Have to Hurt Sometime?"

You used to be so proud
Now, your head's a little lower
And you walk slower
And you don't talk so loud

Thomas Friedman's been humbled. For once the great Thomas Friedman had to face that when forced to choose between him or her cats, Patti chose her cats. All in all, it was probably the smartest choice she could have made. Thomas Friedman had to learn that we all fall down, even Thomas Friedman.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Facing Down Patti

As Thomas Friedman finally realized that he couldn't alter my mood with sweet words, especially words like "Don't be such a backward idiot," he stormed out of the apartment and I was finally able to call Mrs. K. First, she explained that Nicky K was whining about all his hate mail over his column about how the whole world has ignored the Sudan except for him.

I wanted to ask her if this "me first and only" of Nicky's applies in the bedroom but I didn't feel like we were close enough to allow for that level of personal questioning. Instead, I told her that Thomas Friedman's on probation of a sorts after his last few columns which Gail Collins generously dubbed "sophomoric."

Then I got to the point of my phone call, that Thomas Friedman sang the praises of Lance Armstrong in his column this morning ("Learning From Lance").

"Oh, Bettina!" Mrs. K gasped. "I saw it. You know he only writes about himself. That's why he invents all those cab drivers who speak just like him."

"I know," I said evenly.

"So . . ."

"I think he's having an affair or planning one," I explained. "Actually planning one would be more likely because he's too lazy to actually do anything. And planning may be giving him too much credit as well so maybe just dreaming of having one."

"But with who?" Mrs. K asked.

"Well, he came home the other afternoon speaking of a ticket taker on some flight. Raving over her. She loved The World Is Flat, she thought he was brilliant --"


"how did so much intelligence fit into one brain, how could one man be so attractive, and yet so manly, then he got too her stupid mustache --"

"No, he didn't!" Mrs. K squealed.

"No, he wasn't that obvious but we both knew there was no woman and it was another imaginary fan of his writing."

"So you think this is just some fantasy on his part?"

"Well, I can think of only one woman who would be stupid enough to find Thomas Friedman a catch."

"Bettina, you're not stupid," Mrs. K. offered.

"I must have been," I replied. "But I wasn't thinking of me. I was thinking of Patti."

"Patti! Of course. And she is stupid."


"No, Bettina, she's truly, truly stupid."

"I know!"

So with Mrs. K's help, I was able to track down one Patti Nelson Limerick.

She lives in SoHo, natch. In a closet-size cubby hole that reeks of sandlewood and cat pee. It's a claustrophic's nightmare. It's an interior decorator's nightmare as well. Everything is white or off-white to give the impression of a blank canvas or possibly her mind. Instead of a couch, sofa or even futon, she's furnished the place with saddles.

"Have a seat," she chirped as she proceeded to sit side saddle on a red one.

The other five were all occupied with cats, so I stated that I preferred to stand.

"Let me get right to the point," I started off. "Do you have designs on my husband Thomas Friedman?"

"Designs? Hmmm. I think that there is a spontaneous quality that results in the creation of biochemical merger of sorts when the body and my own occupy the same space and time."

I wanted to knock her off her saddle. Instead I looked at the yellow cat that was coughing on a fur ball.

"The query goes to the issue of co-mingling in a cosmos where bondage occurs but in which, alas, free radicals will emerge and possibly alter the landscape of not only the outer exteriors but also our own shady interiors that we never delve into until confronted with the emotional reality that reaches to our core . . ."

As she continued to prattle on, I noticed that her turban, like everything else in the tiny space appeared to have cat urine stains. As the yellow cat continued attempting to hack up the fur ball, I could feel my own throat closing up as the room seemed to grow smaller and the plentiful cat hair littering the place only more abundant.

"When we visualize and conceptualize the very basic term resulting may be 'suprise' which mutates into realization as we grasp and devle further into --"

"Cut the crap," I said stopping her. "Are you sleeping with my husband or not?"

"So base, Bettina, so base. What Thomas and I are embaring upon will go beyond the realm of physical and enter a cosmic force that shakes us and wakes us."

"You go near my husband Thomas Friedman again and you'll find my fist shaking you and waking you up."

"So base, Bettina, so base," Patti breezily tsked-tsked.

I watched as the yellow cat finally coughed up the fur ball and began to pee on the saddle.

"Atta' boy, Roy Rogers John Wayne Reagan," Patti cooed encouragingly to the cat, "Express yourself out of the imposed limits."

As the rank odor enveloped the room, I tried another tactic since intimidation appeared to be ineffective with a nut job.

"You do realize that you'll have to give up your cats?" I asked.

"What did you say!" Patti gasped clutching her stomach.

"Give up your cats. Even little Roy Rogers John Wayne Reagan here," I said pointing at the yellow cat who had ceased urinating and hopped off the saddle.

"But why?"

"Thomas Friedman is allergic to cats," I declared proudly.

"You tell that asshole I never want to want to see him again," Patti growled in a very non-beatific manner.

"I'll do that," I said making my way out of the cubby hole Patti calls home.

On the subway ride home, I thought of what Mrs. K had asked me, "Bettina, if you're lucky enough to be rid of him, why not go with it?"

Believe me, I would. If I had a job right now, I would. But between hand washing his undergarments, squeezing his prune juice, scrubbing floors, fixing his meals and his frequent snacks, when do I have the time to look for a job?

I also don't know what skills I have. Memory's not a strong one obviously because if Mrs. K had prompted me to explain how I came to be married to Thomas Friedman, I couldn't have given her an honest answer. I honestly don't remember.

My childhood is also a blank. Thomas Friedman has told me about the village I grew up with mud huts and the village elder who oversaw our currency system based upon beaded necklaces but I remember nothing from it. Worse, sometimes I think I remember something. Like watching an old I Love Lucy episode with my mother but Thomas Friedman has insisted that my village had no electricity so how could that be?

I need time to figure it out. Time I don't have. Why couldn't it have been Thomas Friedman in jail and not Judith Miller?

Walking into the apartment, I surprised Thomas Friedman who was downing canned cheese with one hand while reaching inside his sweat pants with the other to scratch his ass.

"Your affair with the modern day Aimee Semple McPherson is over," I said as I walked past him.

Learning From Friedman

Thomas Friedman will just have to do without his fresh squeezed prune juice this morning. He has pissed me off. He's whining that he's just buffed and filed his nails and can't use his soft, pasty hands to squeeze prunes. Well then he can just do without, can't he?

The paper hits the door this morning and thanks to Nicky K's Fourth of July meltdown, Thomas Friedman knows I haven't been reading his rantings. So before I can even finish my coffee, Thomas Friedman is waving his latest in my face. It's called "Learning From Lance."

As he sings the praises of Lance Armstrong, one thing stands out: no mention of the divorce.

We should all look up to Armstrong and he is the model American, that's what Thomas Friedman is implying.

"Thomas Friedman," I say, "are you not aware that his marriage broke up in 2003?"

"Huh," says Thomas Friedman, sopping up some egg yolk on his plate with a piece of toast (and overlooking the yolk now matted in that disgusting mustache).

"You know I don't follow the personal lives of people," Thomas Friedman demures.

As though he weren't the one obsessing over the state of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey's marriage? As though I'm the one leaving all those In Style Magazines in the bathroom?

He warms to the topic once I call him on it and, no surprise since he watches every tabloid show on TV, he begins defending Lance Armstrong as "our modern day Judy!" Thomas Friedman's obsession with Judy Garland can be strangely humanizing at times but this isn't one of them.

I'm quite aware that his columns are not the well thought out observations and critiques of the world we live in. Instead they are all about him.

So if Thomas Friedman's lionizing a man as a hero, a man who left his wife two years ago, I think I have a right to ask my husband, the not so great Thomas Friedman, what is up with that?

"Bettina, Lance is like Judy at the Palace," Thomas Friedman says as he licks the yolk off the plate. "A once in a lifetime thing. An event. An earth shattering moment that if you blink, you will miss it."

Looking at his chin and mustache yolk-stained face, I said, "Cut the crap, Friedman."

Thomas Friedman looked nervous as I stood and took my plate to the sink.

"Bettina, we get the leaders and stars we deserve," Thomas Friedman offered waving his empty glass at me.

I just stared at him.

"Prune me!" he insisted like the angry child he so often is.

"Prune yourself," I shot back as I left the kitchen.

I'm confused as to whom it could be, but I'm pretty certain Thomas Friedman is either cheating on me or plotting to. And my suscipions turn to one Patti Nelson Limerick. More to come later.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Found in the Sunday newspaper

Editorial: The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight

Jimmy Breslin wrote about The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Plauging our nation today is The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight. Whether it's "privatization" or "tort reform" or "Clean Skies" or "No Child Left Behind" everything's hidden behind a phrase that implies something directly opposite from the actual meaning. (And no, we don't find that "ironic.")

We've seen it play out since before the Bully Boy started occuyping the White House. "The votes have been counted and recounted!" (When in fact the majority had never been counted.) So maybe it shouldn't be shocking, for instance, that Bully Boy now says he'll fire whomever outed Plame in his administration only if they're found to have committed a crime.

Unless Bully Boy was seeking to establish a precedent, wasn't that always a given? Is he trying to tell us that's what he meant all along? "You go to prison, I'll fire you." That is where he draws the line?

His concept of integrity baffles the mind. But we're seeing that and a lot worse play out. Over and over, they try to divert and obscure. The gang that couldn't talk straight fails to grasp that conviction or not, Rove and Libby have already done enough that demonstrates they need to go. Enough has also come out that a Congressional investigation is needed to find out who else helped and (just as important) who failed to do anything when news of the impending outing reached the administration (as early as July 7th, 2003, Valerie Plame was outed on January 14th, 2003).

From Watching the Watchers' "Child Abuse at Abu Ghraib" by A! of Watching the Watchers, we learn that:

Data is emerging, no matter how the administration attempts to hide it, that the new photos and video of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison include the torture of children.
Norway's Prime Minister's office says it plans to address the situation with the U.S. "in a very severe and direct way."
Could this mean losing yet another ally in the Iraq occupation? Amnesty International in Norway has said that Norway can no longer continue their occupation of Iraq, or their support of US policy in this matter.
And some countries, as
Tom Tomorrow notes, actually listen to their activists.While there isn't even an inkling of this in the US Mainstream media, all over the world people are beginning to read about the US abusing children at Abu Ghraib.

We weren't supposed to worry about that either, remember? Remember Operation Happy Talk of "a few bad apples" and that the photos just showed more of the same as the already released photos? Remember the GOP senators rushing to tell the public that releasing the photos could hurt us as a nation?

So they sat on them, after apparently lying about them, and a surprise only to the administration (which never seems to grasp that eventually the truth will come out), the photos haven't gone away.

Karl Rove and Karen Hughes may have instructed, "Clap your hands if you believe in Bully Boys." If so, not enough people clapped because not enough people believe. Operation Happy Talk goes into motion and at best disguises reality for a few weeks. Truth does come out.
And what's coming out is that this administration with all their talk of "integrity" and "honor" has been the least accountable administration in recent history. They've fixed reports. They've lied about PDBs. They've outed a CIA agent. They've tried to cover up abuse that we should have dealt with a long time ago.

If America is hurt by the release of the photos, the Happy Talkers have themselves to blame.

They should have owned up to what was happening when they saw the photos. Instead, they tried to obscure the issue. As if it weren't bad enough that the torture occurred, our administration is now seen as trying to cover it up.

That's not the way the United States is supposed to behave.

Make no mistake, Bully Boy and his Bullies Without Borders have had a lot of enablers.

Including wishy-washy Democrats who didn't want to speak up or, when they did speak up, wanted to immediately cave, buckle, wimp out in the face of criticism.

The only apologies in the last five years have been coming from Democrats and, frequently, they're apologizing for things that don't require an apology. While the Dems bend over backwards to apologize for words, the administration demonstrates no accountability for its actions.

That needs to stop. The unwarrented apologies from Dems who try to speak the truth and the lack of accountability for the most mismanged administration that any of us can recall.
Congress better start excersizing their oversight because if they don't, accountability may come in the form of votes on election day in 2006. We need a truth movement in this country. Actually, we have it. You saw it on Saturday with people meeting to discuss and raise attention on the Downing Street Memo. As with Valerie Plame, the public's the one pushing for the truth.
Hopefully, the mainstream press will also take part. But they haven't driven this. One person who is asking questions that need to be asked is Robert Parry. From his "
Rove-Bush Conspiracy Noose Tightens:"

The second new fact is what Rove did after his conversation with Cooper.

Although supposedly in a rush to leave on vacation, Rove e-mailed Stephen J. Hadley, then Bush's deputy national security adviser (and now national security adviser). According to the Associated Press, Rove's e-mail said he "didn’t take the bait" when Cooper suggested that Wilson’s criticisms had hurt the administration.
While it’s not entirely clear what Rove meant in the e-mail, the significance is that Rove immediately reported to Hadley, an official who was in a position to know classified details about Plame’s job. In other words, the e-mail is evidence that the assault on Wilson was being coordinated at senior White House levels.
Cooper also told the grand jury that his second source on the allegations about the Niger trip and Wilson’s wife was Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a leading neoconservative advocate for invading Iraq. According to Cooper, Libby said on a not-for-attribution basis about Plame, "Yeah, I’ve heard that, too."

See last week's
editorial and you'll know why we're glad he's raising it and surprised that everyone else (including Richard W. Stevenson in today's New York Times) isn't also on it.

As the public begins asking what Parry's asking, The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight is going to find itself in even hotter water. What we've constantly seen is avoidance in the place of accountability. With consistently bad polling results, we like to hope the sheen is finally off the Bully Boy.

Speeches and phrases based upon coded antonyms and the refusal of others in place to hold the administration accountable (the press, the Congress) have resulted in our current state. But at a time when things could seem hopeless, what we're seeing is a public getting active and asking the questions and raising the issues that others won't. That's healthy for democracy. And having grown weary waiting for leadership, the public's now ready to set the agenda and lead on their own.

[This editorial was written by the following: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner and Mike of Mikey Likes It!]