Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Prig of Paxil

The world's loss is my gain.

After six weeks with the Prig of Paxil, aka my husband Thomas Friedman, I felt like I was zipping down the exit ramp to Edge of Sanity Blvd. with him.

You know how he's the urban blight of the op-ed pages, how he drags down everyone around him?

Well Thomas Friedman in person isn't all that different from Thomas Friedman in print.

And you know how you feel like from Wednesday to Friday, you can't get a handle on his writing? That's exactly like Thomas Friedman the man.

He's bi-polar, which most people would probably figure out rather quickly, and nothing helps.
He's supposed to take his Paxil. But he's rationing them out to one a week because he frets over his co-pay. Which, with his plan, is kind of like Lovey and the Millionaire debating a half hour on whether or not to biggie size an order of fries.

He's convinced it's all "one big scam." And that instead of monthly refills, he can make a bottle last for a full year.

Which explains why, last Wednesday, he can sound like Hillary Clinton not sure what to say on the war so instead using rhetoric about our duties and then, on Friday, sound like the internationalist version of Trent Lott as he mocks "turbans" (among other things.)

As if the caterpillar he has sprouting beneath his nose strikes anyone as "fashionable."

Thomas Friedman is struggling to scale Mount Humanity while lacking all the basic equipment and skills. Once you understand that, you understand the Prig of Paxil.

The six weeks is over, the enforced vacation, and I really hate that he returned in time to spoil the world's holiday. But when I think of the number of people whose Wednesday he ruined last week or the number of people whose Friday he ruined, I think of how, day after day, 'til the clouds roll by, he ruined six weeks of my life that I'll never get back. Balancing Thomas Friedman inflicting his ill will, Arab stereotypes and bad tidings on the world, as opposed to just hurling them in my face, I find that, selfish or not, I prefer it that way.

He came upon a midnight clear and stunk up the whole world. If there's to be any hope in 2006, it depends upon the fence sitters like Thomas Friedman waking up to the reality that is Iraq. Don't place any bets.

Monday, December 26, 2005

News and humor found in the paper

In today's paper, I found this news article:

"News roundup including did Bully Boy break the law?"
Did Bully Boy break the law by authorizing spying on American citizens and circumventing the FISA courts? If so, how many years can someone be sentenced to for that crime? We'll highlight a radio discussion on that issue, but first, news on Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Russia, Chile, Israel, activism and more.
As reported on The Daily Iraq Wire, December 25th wasn't a day of peace in Iraq. Two bombs went off in Iraq injuring seven Iraqis. In addition, a reported al Qaeda group in Iraq announced Sunday that they had kidnapped and killed four Arabs who had been "working with the US authorities and the Iraqi government in the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad."
Monday violence and unrest continued. Deepa Babington, reporting for the Irish Examiner, notes that Baghdad saw five explosions today killing eight and wounding thirty-eight. Outside of Baghdad, there were attacks in Falluja where a suicide bomber killed himself and two police recruits. In Dhabab, five Iraqi soldiers were killed.
Reporting for IPS, Gareth Porter reports today a "looming confrontation" between Shi'ites in Iraq and the American officials who are urging the disbanding of Shi'ite paramilitary groups. American officials fear groups may have close ties to Iran. The "looming confrontation" emerged when American officials decided to make an issue of the "torture houses" run by Shi'ites. "Decided?" Major R. John Stukey and others first reported the existance of "torture houses" in June of 2005. From June to November, US officials remained silent.
As of Monday, US military fatalities in Iraq stand at 2169, official count with 56 of those fatalities for the month of December. Iraq Body Count, which gathers totals by following media reports, estimates that as few as 27,592 and as many as 31,115 Iraqis have died thus far since the invasion.
In other war news, Agence France-Presse reports the American military is claiming that "very soon" the number of troops serving in Iraq will drop from 19,000 to 2, 5000.
In activism news, NOW is calling for action on Samuel Alito, Jr.'s Supreme Court nomination:

There is work to be done, both in Washington, DC and throughout the country. As a part of Freedom Winter 2006, NOW and Feminist Majority Foundation are working together to bring grassroots activists to DC between January 3 and January 20. We're also encouraging activists to organize in their communities.

More information can be found online at NOW as well as online at the Feminist Majority Foundation. In related news, Ms. Magazine has compiled "the top ten news stories for women in 2005." Topping the list, Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement that she will step down from the Supreme Court bench. Planned Parenthood has also compiled a look back at the year 2005. Their look back begins with a listing of the five best and five worst places to get birth control prescriptions filled:

Brooks/Eckerd Corporation

Rite Aid

In international news, Al Jazeera reports that Augusto Pinochet will finally stand trial for the deaths and disappearances carried out under his dictator regime as the head of Chile. Chile's Supreme Court, in a three to two vote, ruled that Pinochet is fit to stand trial. The BBC reports that charges will be filed Tuesday against four US marines for rape. The four are currently at the US embassy in Manila and "it is unclear whether it will hand over the marines." Abdul Rahman Khuzairan reports, for Islam.Online. net, that on Sunday a sit in was staged in Casablanca by Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Forum "to protest the mass grave found recently with the remains of 82 people." Canada's Star Phoenix reports that Monday in St. Petersburg, shoppers in one store were exposed to a mysterious gas: "Boxes containing timers wired to glass vials were discovered at the scene of the attack and three other stores in the same chain in Russia's second-largest city." And in Tut-tut Tuttle news, the Finanical Times reports that car dealer and contributor of $70,000 worth of donations to the GOP in 2004, Robert Tuttle continues to stumble in his post as US ambassador to England. For the second time, Tuttle has been forced to issue a correction to the BBC following an interview. Embassy work, not as easy as moving cars off a lot.
"Have we made poverty history?" asks The Independent of London? The debt relief in 2008 will go not to Africa but to Iraq and Nigeria. In addition the United States is backing off from it's earlier committments. Also reporting for The Independent, Maxine Frith notes that charities and aid workers believe that Live 8, and those involved in the concerts, "hijacked" the effort and gave the world a false sense of resolution when the problems of world poverty contine. Meera Selva reports from Africa that the people supposed to benefit from the concerts in London's Hyde Park have seen little difference in their lives. One woman tells Selva, "We have problems in Africa, big problems. What can plastic bracelets and pop concerts do to solve them?"
Reuters reports Israeli helicopters firing three missiles into Gaza. This comes as Al Jazeera reports that the Israeli government has announced intentions to build an additional 200 homes on the West Bank. The BBC reports, in other news from the region, that Ariel Sharon has been urged to "curb his appetite" by doctors as he awaits sugery "to close a small hole which doctors found in his heart after he had a minor stroke."
For The KPFA Evening News Anthony Fest spoke Monday evening to Christopher Pyle, "a consultant to Congress in the drafting of the surveillance act, today he teaches political science at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusettes." (What follows is a rough transcript, use the link to listen to the archived broadcast.)

Pyle: The Church Committee was set up because during the Watergate era we had discovered extensive domestic surveillance operations by a number of agencies including the FBI, military intelligence, the CIA and, the largest intelligence agency of all, the National Security Agency. It does electronic intercepts worldwide. It has stations around the world. It picks up communications off of statellites. It picks them off of landlines and it searches them with a dictionary of watch words. And during the 1970s, we discovered that the National Security Agency had maintained files on about 75,000 Americans and they particularly targeted political activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, the folk singer Joan Baez, and the anti-war protestor Dr. Benjamin Spock. We sought to end that massive surveillance, which had no judicial authority what so ever, by passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. That law said that if the government, when the government wanted to monitor electronic communications it had to go to a special court to gain a national security authorization, a speciall warrant. And for a number of years, it appears that the government did go to the special court and was able to conduct its monitoring with special warrants. But three years ago, the Bush administration decided that this was inconveinent for some reason that's not fully understood. And they just ignored the court and began collecting, uh, information rather broadly. The law itself says that it's the exclusive method by which monitoring may take place and that anybody who violates the law is guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Fast: So there's no leeway for interpretation here, it's uh, it's black and white that if you don't go through the FISA court, you are in violation of the law?
Pyle: Exactly. So what we have here is the rather extraordinary situation of a president who has admitted to committing a felony. Now he says that Congress excused him by passing the resolution against al Qaeda but that says nothing about electronic surveillance. And then he says that the Constitution excuses him because the Constitution places him above the law. There's actually a secret memo produced by the Justice Department to justify torture that says that a war time president can ignore the criminal law of the United States. There's no basis for this in law, there's no basis for this in the history of Constitutional law and Constitutional interpretation and that's of course why the memo was kept secret because if it had ever seen the light of day it would have been laughed out of court. Well now it's seen the light of day and assertions based on that theory have seen the light of day and we're not laughing because we realize the government is really out of control.
Fast: Doubtless the techonology of surveillance is incrompably more powerful today than it was in the 1960s. Is there any indication yet exactly how wide, how wide a net the NSA was casting or how many people had been surveilled?
Pyle: No. The initial reports by the New York Times were that up to 500 people at a time had been targeted but perhaps thousands had been intercepted. And if they were, let's say, monitoring all e-mails and searching all e-mails in the United States for certain code words or phrases then it would be probably hundreds of thousands or millions of people who would have been monitored, not simply 500 people targeted at any given time. But we really don't know. But what we know is that the judges on the FISA court are extremely upset. One of them has already resigned because of this. The others want to know particularly whether this warrant-less spying was being used to then produce probable cause for specific warranted spying. In other words, infecting the very process with illegaly obtained information.
Fast: Since the administration was apparently conducting surveillance that was more in the nature of data mining then watching individuals is there any legal grounds under which they could conduct that kind of operation?
Pyle: No, that is what was known in the common law as a general search. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution forbids general searches. The second clause of the Fourth Amendment says that the warrants must be obtained that specify the place to be searched and and the things to be seized. The FISA warrants specify the persons who are the targets of the intercepts. There has to be specifity. There can't be a great dragnet collecting everything and then sorting it by computer and putting everybody under suspicion.

Did Bully Boy break the law? Better question, after trotting out Vicky Toe-Jam in print and on TV to put forward false claims about the Congessional act passed in the 80s to prevent the outing of CIA agents, why has the mainstream media been so reluctant to pursue people who helped with the drafting of the FISA act?
The above is news you may have missed and was compiled by Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Kat, Jim, Jess, Ty, Cedric, Elaine, Betty, and C.I.

And I found this hilarious piece of comedy writing:

"All Puff No Politics (parody) "
We love our parodies. Our readers tend to as well. Consider this your Christmas gift.

At the intersection of politics and pop culture, you'll find us lost and asking for directions

We Finally Weigh in on the War (Our Official Statement)
A number of critics have expressed disappointment that we've had nothing to say about the war after all this time. I want to note first off that we couldn't provide you with the much needed coverage of Wentworth Miller and snaps for Veronica Mars if we took the time to weigh in on every issue some nut case has.
But as the chorus has grown louder, I felt that possibly, perhaps, maybe we needed to weigh in.
So a number of us sat down to come up with an official statement on the war.
We've been accused of ignoring the deaths and destruction. We've been accused of silence at a time when brave voices were needed.
Not true, say I! Nobody can question our bravery. Not all that long ago, I wrote a piece on pies and Thanksgiving. That wasn't easy for me. I prefer cakes to pies. I would have been happier writing about cakes. But pies matter to a lot of people. And pies were a big issue in circles around the water cooler. So I stepped up to the plate, I bit the bullet, and I found my voice.
You'd think I'd get a little credit for that. I don't know that a great number of other blogs addressed the very important issue of pies and Thanksgiving.
But I did. I did it here. So no one has a right to ever question my stance on the issues.
For those who have been critical, here is this site's official position on the war:
After much soul searching and consulting our leatherbound editions of The New Republic, we have concluded that the war was both necessary and needed. If Americans had not gotten into the war, what kind of world would we live in? Here at All Puff No Politics, we will stand up and state loudly and clearly that we support the actions taken in World War II.

It wasn't easy to come to that conclusion because we are majorly uninformed on most topics that aren't discussed at the A-list table in any high school cafeteria. But we did our work and we are proud to offer our statement on the war. Hopefully, that settles the issue.
-- Pristine

Uh, Pristine, I think people were asking you to make a statement about the Iraq war?

Iraq War? Is that the sequel to Arachnophobia? I hated that movie! Spiders, ugh!

I truly think you should be ashamed of your silence regarding Iraq. I would suggest that you read the chapter entitled "Colony Within the Colony" in Sheila Rowbotham's Women, Resistance & Revolution which came out in 1972.

Lucille, are you as big a drip as you seem? And why would I want to read such a book? How does such a book have anything to say to me? It's not even a Best of containing articles from The New Republic, I bet. We've made our official statement on the war, we support WWII. If that's not good enough for you, I'm sad that you won't be visiting All Puff No Politics anymore.(I'm not really sad, Lucille. I was sticking my tongue at you while I wrote that I was sad.)

Women's Voices Coming Through Loud and Clear
Everyone must read torture supporter Dotty Bush's latest at GOPLovingButCentrist Aspiring.com:
What is about torture that's so wrong? I roll up the newspaper and hit my dog over the snout when he's bad. How is that different from torture?

Also do not skip Laughing Lottie and her addressing the pressing issues effecting women today:
So Dell comes in and starts jabbering right in the middle of PrisonBreak. Wentworth Miller once a week almost makes my marriage bearable. Couldn't he have chosen a better time?

So true, Laughing Lottie, so true. Right Wing Sue further explores the state of womanhood today:

I hate Jane Fonda!!!! Don't you hate Jane Fonda!!!! Jane Fonda's movies set my nerves on edge!
Many influential critics at major media outlets have echoed Right Wing Sue so I will too. Now I'll take a break because it's really hard for a professional journalists like myself to write so much in one entry.

I like Jane Fonda and Monster-In-Law was a funny movie.

Oh beg to differ Marthy, I can give you a list of male critics and male wanna bes at major papers who trashed Monster-In-Law. The film bombed!

Monster-In-Law, starring a white woman over sixty, a Latina woman and an African-American woman, was probably the most inclusive movie, cast wise, last summer. And excuse me, but Ms. picked Jane Fonda as one of their women of the year not all that long ago and Wanda Sykes was on the cover last summer.

Who reads Ms.? I said "major media outlets." Don't you know how to listen! The film bombed!I'll attack it and Jane Fonda in the name of sisterhood. Deal with it!

Actually, Pristine, the film didn't "bomb." It made over eighty million in a lackluster summer and it outperformed recent films that starred a woman over fifty. It was very funny and addressed the lengths that a woman in crisis could go to. The message was positive. I don't know about your "major media outlets," but I do know that I don't need to judge a woman's performance, or a film's, by what someone writes in the mainstream media especially when they are ignorant enough to call the film a "bomb."

Well aren't you just all full of yourself. What, did you just finish Gloria Steinem's Revolution From Within? I'd urge you to put that time into reading some real papers that concern themselves with larger issues. I can call the film a "bomb" if I want to. Major media outlets did, so I can too. Truth is what institutions dominated by males tell us. You make a silly fool out of yourself Maria.

Has anyone noticed that Pristine writes more in the comments than she wrote in what she considers "her" entry?

Music: Wayne Newton Rocks & Rules!
Grooving on the wild and way cool New Republic!!!! They have the best art's coverage! They have the best everything! (They really showed Arundhati Roy, didn't they! As a pro-feminist male, I applaud them for encouraging violence towards Arundhati Roy.) Hugs and kisses and warm snuggles to everyone at The New Republic. They've turned their probing eyes to the accomplished works of Wayne Newton today so let me give them props, give them links and try to interject myself in the discussion hoping they'll reciprocate!
Wayne Newton is an American institution! His music was pioneering! I'm not sure whether he recorded in the fifties or the sixties and TNR didn't provide that information so let's just say he recorded some time ago. And he did it his way! He even had a huge hit with that song.
Wayne Newton and his music stood for all that is good in America. It represented the American spirit. It represented the Holy Ghost! It represented everything and surely today's rappers owe a great debt to der Newton.
Wayne Newton started it all!
But to prove my "objectivity," let me note that not everything Wayne Newton recorded was excellent. Some songs were merely good. None come to mind because I really don't know what I'm talking about. But I am objective so I need to demonstrate that. I'm like the professor that doesn't believe in handing out more than a couple of A grades because, if I recognize quality in many, that degrades the excellence of my chosen few.
See, there are standards. And standards have been set down in stone. The white, straight, male canon is one that I celebrate because I believe in "quality" and I believe in "tradition." You can see that thought pattern in my work.So though I love The New Republic and Wayne Newton (I sleep with both under my pillow!) (Well, a photo of Wayne Newton) I must note that excessive praise does no one any good. It's the equivalent of opening up the canon. Preserve our standards and praise be to Alan Bloom!
-- Barney (not the big purple guy)

I have no idea what you're talking about and wonder if you do.

Wayne Newton rocks! Loved him performing at the GOP thing in Florida after we stolethe vote!Bushlover

Here here for Wayne Newton. F**k yourself, Linus! We own the world.
GOP Party On!

In a pinch, if I couldn't have sex with Bully Boy, I'd so do Wayne Newton. Linus is an idot who needs to be killed. Slowly and painfully tortured to death.

Some of you may have noted that Kat disagrees with me. Well she ignores me. She doesn't even write about me. She's just writing about the "hailstorm" (her term) in the comments. I've written her to demand that she correct her opinion. Like Glenn Close in Fatal Beauty, I will not be ignored! So go over to her site and give her hell. I found a way to scream at her in an e-mail and I bet you will too. Burn the witch! Bash the bitch! Motto for now and forever!

Barney, you the man! Way to put that uppity girl in her place. I'm as sick as you are of chicks thinking they can have their own opinion. Give me my marching orders, Barney, I will follow!Jennifer

Excuse me but I enjoyed Kat's post. As someone who has long supported Pristine's work, I'm surprised by the tone of the comments here and the deliberate attempts to distort. Frank Sinatra had the hit with "My Way," Glenn Close starred in Fatal Attraction, not Fatal Beauty, and Kat used the term "firestorm," not "hail storm." As a Latina woman, I'm hesitant to post here considering the anti-woman nature of the comments and the fact that there seems to be no effort to question or explore "conventional wisdom" that always inducts white males into the canon but reduces others to the margins.

Maria, I'm not thrilled with the comments here either but Barney linked to himself on a Wayne Newton fan site which has brought us a lot of traffic (we've had twelve hits today!). I could have defended Linus but really, what was the point? He disagreed with Barney and I only support free speech when it's me or Barney. As for Kat, I read her blog.She's not very smart. Barney's a much better writer. As a feminist, I have no trouble tearing down a woman to build up a man and neither should you. If she can't get with the program and blindly cheerlead every white male in creation then she has to take her lumps. I'm very interested in hearing your opinions as a Latina. Feel free to post more so I can ignore your points (like Barney's factual errors that you point out) and trash you as I have Kat.

On Protecting Our Daughters
Daughters are important to the future. Without them, who would our sons marry? (For those offended by the question, we'll post a transgender post tomorrow so give me a break already!)And it's important that we raise our daughters to realize both what their rights are and what their rights aren't. Rights are a finite thing.
Which is why I recommend that every Thursday night, if you have a daughter, or maybe if there's a young teenager in the neighobrhood that you speak with, you sit down with her to watch UPN's Veronica Mars which is like mainlining Joss Whedon on an empty stomach! See Veronica Mars is an empowerment role model for young girls. For instance, last year she went around screaming she was raped. This year, she finally had to face reality that she chose to have sex. That's an important message for young women, one they need to hear.I'm so glad and so proud that Veronica Mars has made year two about crying false rape. I can get behind that message.

You have truly lost it. You need to read Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will and possibly put some actual thought into what you write.

What do you want from me, Lucille? Am I supposed to consult you for a reading list????Excuse me, but I just got season seven of Buffy on DVD and I think that says a lot more than any dopey book could. I'm also hard at work, something you might want to try doing, attempting to break my record for most views of a movie (72 for Lethal Weapon II) with Serendipity and I'm only up to 64 on that so I don't exactly have a great deal of time.

posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @ Sunday, December 25, 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hell is your house-bound husband on house arrest with you serving the sentence

Hell is your house-bound husband only more so.

Following his ludicrous claim that Bully Boy was entering his third term, Thomas Friedman is on vacation. That's the pretty way of saying it. The ugly truth is he was placed on vacation by Gail Collins who told him, "Friedman? Try Free-Bland! I can't take anymore of the hate mail, the yelling callers. You can't get your facts right? You're on vacation!"

"You can't bench me!" Thomas Friedman bellowed. But obviously Gail Collins can.

What lit the fire under Ms. Nonsense & No Sensibility?

Davy Brooks came into her office ("In his shiny ass pants, Betinna! In his shiny ass pants!") and had a vacation request of his own that he repeatedly dropped on the floor necessitating that he repeatedly bend over in front of her. ("It was as though I had died and gone to Mansfield Park, Betinna! Mansfield Park!") With no lines cupping his butt and no lines near his upper thigh, Gail was convinced he must be wearing his sock. ("In another life, Betinna, I'd like to come back as that sock!")

Gail says she played it cool so I'll assume that besides sweat dripping from her forehead and her hands shaking, she managed to pull it together. She signed the request, granting his time off. Davy stood by her desk grinning. Then he asked her if she'd ever seen Disclosure.

Poor Gail, I had to explain that film to her. If it's not a book at least a hundred years old or something airing on Pax, she's lost.

Her idea of a pop culture ref is, "Betinna, what's wrong! You look like Beth on her death bed!"
I keep trying to explain to her that Jo and Marmie hardly trip off the tongues of kids today but she swears Kayne West's "Gold Digger" says not "When I'm in need" but "When I'm a reading Little Women." I've tried playing the song for her repeatedly but some people hear only what they want to. (Which does explain her editorials.)

Davy stood there grinning for a second and when she had no response because she didn't catch the movie reference, he turned to walk away.

"I touched it!" Gail gushed on the phone. "I was reaching out to stop him and I touched it!"

Go, Gail!

That's what I said. But she didn't touch his crotch, it turns out. So I was thinking she meant his butt. Wrong there as well.

"He has the most dainty wrists. I can't believe it. Then I noticed his hands, Betinna. ee cummings hasn't seen hands this tiny."

Lost? I was too.

"Point, Gail?"

"There was a spark. He was looking at me. I was looking at him. Then it's Bill Keller on the phone! I swear his nose picks up romantic tension."

Keller wanted her in his office. Yesterday!

So she had to leave Davy standing there ("in those magnificent ass pants!") to meet with Keller.
When she got back, Davy had split.

And what did Bill Keller want? To yell at her because he'd been getting calls all day. Complaints over Thomas Friedman's false claim that presidents in this country have three terms.

"Don't you fact check these things!" Keller roared at her.

"I have never felt so alone in my life," Gail told me. "I felt as if I were Gloria Gilbert."

"Do you mean the actress in Sudden Fear?" I asked referring to the old Joan Crawford film that also starred Gloria Grahame.

It's an old movie but it could be "hip" to Gail.

"No, Betinna, Gloria Gilbert. F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Beautiful and the Damned. Goodness, you must have been the awkward one at your high school dances!"

What's so sweet about Gail is that she honestly believes that in high school boys are checking out your ... literary references.

So Gail stormed out of Keller's office, found Davy had left her office and was big time pissed ("I was, honestly, forgive my French, ticked off"). That's when Thomas Friedman happened by and Gail tore into him.

I'm glad she's showing a spine. Truly, I am. Elaine and I really need help her work on her pop culture references. (For starters, get her to quit calling them "pop cultural references.")

But as happy as I am for her, I'm more than a little bummed at having to look at Thomas Friedman's face twenty-four seven. I'm really not interested in sitting around pondering the "global complexities" of Simon & Simon. (Thomas Friedman has convinced himself that the blonde brother represents America and that the one with the mustache represents "the Arab world." He started crying when I explained to him that Jameson Parker's career goes nowhere, but the other guy ends up starring in Major Dad.)

It's always drama with Thomas Friedman. Hell is your house-bound husband on house arrest with you serving the sentence.

Found in the paper:

"Target: the 9th Circuit (The Republican war on the judiciary continues)"

From the December issue of The Progressive, Ruth Conniff's "The Progressive Interview: Bernie Sanders:"

[Bernie Sanders]: In my view this happens to be one of the most dangerous moments in American history. These guys are not just reactionaries. They are changing the rules of the game so they will stay in power for the indefinite futere. We see this abuse of power on the floor of the House. They kept the voting rolls open for three hours to pass the Medicare prescription drug bill. I had an amendment, which won, on the Patriot Act. They kept the voting open twenty minutes longer to defeat it. They break the rules. It's like having a football game go into the fifth quareter because you don't like the results at the end of the fourth quarter. We know what DeLay did in Texas. They have taken chairmen -- yanked them out -- because they defy the leadership of the House. They are now attempting to destroy the judiciary system, which will have profound implications for the future of this country.

Note Sanders' last sentence, "They are now attempting to destroy the judiciary system, which will have profound implications for the future of this country." (The article's from the latest issue of the magazine and it's not available online at present.) Why note the last sentence? Zachary Coile's "A quiet move in House to split the 9th Circuit" (San Francisco Chronicle):

A little-noticed provision in the massive House budget bill would fulfill the longtime goal of conservatives to split the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, creating a new 12th circuit appellate court and allowing President Bush to name a slate of new federal judges.
Conservatives long have claimed that the Ninth Circuit is too liberal, and that reputation was reinforced by the court's 2002 ruling that reciting the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
But legal observers say the outcome of such a split is likely to be a more liberal court making decisions for California, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands and a more conservative court serving seven other Western states now part of the Ninth Circuit -- Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona.

In the article, Reagan appointee Judge Alex Kozinski is noted as testifying before the Senate last month:

Dividing a circuit should only take place when: one, there is demonstrated proof that a circuit is not operating effectively, and two, there is a consensus among the bench and bar and public that it serves that division is the appropriate remedy. Neither of those conditions exists today.

The article also notes that: "Of the 28 active judges on Ninth Circuit, only three have expressed support for splitting the court."Though Diane Feinstein opposes the plan, Bully Boy has signed on to it.

And who would pack the newly created circuit? (You know the answer.) It's thought that one of the states effected would be Oregon. (We have several members in Oregon.) Oregon hasbeen very active with measures that Bully Boy's Justice Department has opposed. For instance,Oregon's physician-assisted suicide. From CNN's "Federal judge upholds Oregon assisted-suicide law" (April 17, 2002):

In his ruling, Judge Robert E. Jones criticized U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft for seeking to nullify the state law, saying he "fired the first shot in the battle" and had sought to "stifle" a debate on the matter through a Nov. 6 directive.
Jones ordered the federal government to halt any efforts to prosecute Oregon physicians, pharmacists and other health-care providers who participate in assisted suicide of terminally ill patients under Oregon's law.

How bothered is the Bully Boy's Justice Department over this law? When the Ninth Circuit upheld Oregon's law, the Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court. The case that began as Ashcroft v. Oregon became Gonzales v. Oregon and the Court heard testimony on it in October. (Oral arguments before the Court can be found here.)

The article in the Chronicle focuses on the effects to California. This would impact much more than California. Bully Boy's Justice Department has often proved successful in circuit shopping their cases.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Headlines found in the paper

Found in the paper:

We've composed the following twelve headlines dealing with , , , , , , , the , the , and other topics.

1) From Dahr Jamail's MidEast Wire (Iraq Dispatches):
Monday in Iraq, US troops fired on a car in Ba'qubah, killing five, two adults and three children. The US military states that they feared the car "booby-trapped." The family had been returning from visiting relatives when a US convoy approached. The car was fired on from the front and the back. One Iraqi was quoted as saying, "The ones who brought in the Americans are at fault. Those who support them are at fault. All of them are at fault. Look at these. They are all children. All of them of are children. They killed them. They killed my entire family."

2) In the United States the Associated Press reports that Cindy Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas Thursday and joined what some estimates say were 100 protestors and other estimates say as many as 200.
Cindy Sheehan stated, "I feel happy to be back here with all my friends ... but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," said Sheehan, who hoped to arrive earlier in the week, but was delayed by a family emergency. "We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."

3) Since Sheehan and others last gathered at Camp Casey I and Camp Casey II, laws have been passed to prevent further gatherings in Crawford -- "local bans on roadside camping and parking." As protestors returned this week, they were advised they could be arrested. Among those arrested Wednesday were Daniel Ellsberg and US diplomat Ann Wright. Democratic Underground has a report from Carl who was also arrested Wendesday. Carl reports that "The entire [arrest & booking] process took 3.5 hours." Carl advises that the vigils will also take place on Christmas and New Year's Eve as well as that "Donations to the Crawford Veterans For Peace can be mailed to P. O. Box 252, Crawford, Texas, 76638-9998."

4) As the participation of psychologists and psychiatrists in the "BISQUIT" program and other 'interrogation' work raises ethical and professional questions today, CounterPunch is reporting that in WWII, United States anthropologists participated with the Office of Strategic Services in attempts to determine means to destroy the Japanese. David Price reports, in what is a clear betrayal of the profession, anthropologists were instructed "to try to conceive ways that any detectable differences could be used in the development of weapons, but they were cautioned to consider this issue 'in a-moral and non-ethical terms'." Price notes "Ralph Linton and Harry Shapiro, objected to even considering the OSS' request ­ but they were the exceptions."

5) In legal news, as the prison industry has switched to a profit making business, prisoners have found themselves located far from relatives. The distance has proved profitable for long distance companies. The Center for Constitutional Rights argued in court Monday on behalf of "New York family members who pay a grossly inflated rate to receive a phone call from their loved ones in state prisons." CCR notes:

The lawsuit, Walton v. NYSDOCS and MCI, seeks an order prohibiting the State and MCI from charging exorbitant rates to the family members of prisoners to finance a 57.5% kickback to the State. MCI charges these family members a 630% markup over regular consumer rates to receive a collect call from their loved ones, the only way possible to speak with them. Judge George Ceresia of the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, dismissed the suit last fall, citing issues of timeliness.

6) In other legal news, Cynthia L. Cooper reports for Women's enews that November 30th the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At issue in this case, is whether or not bans on reproductive freedom enacted by state legislatures must take effect before they can be legally challenged or whether they can be challenged as soon as they are passed. The standard up to now has been that laws can be challenged as soon as they are passed. Cooper notes:

By changing the legal standard for when an abortion restriction can be challenged in court, anti-abortion laws could quickly entangle women across the country, without directly overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that held that states could not criminalize abortion in all circumstances.

7) The Guardian of London reports on a Rutgers University study that has found "[g]lobal warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile." Professor Kenneth Miller tells The Guardian's Ashraf Khalil, "This is going to cause more beach erosion. Beaches are going to move back and houses will be destroyed." This comes as the Climate Conference is gearing up to take place in Montreal from November 28th to December 9th. United for Peace and Justiceis issuing a call for action:

This fall let's mobilize a nationwide, grassroots education and action campaign leading up to mass demonstrations in Montreal and throughout the U.S. on Saturday, December 3rd. Help gather signatures for the Peoples Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/www.kyotoandbeyond.org), which will be presented in Montreal. Join Climate Crisis: USA Join the World! (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/www.climatecrisis.us) as we call for:
USA Join the World by Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol
Support and Export Clean, Safe, Non-Nuclear Energy Alternatives
End Government Subsidies for Oil and Coal Corporations
Dramatically Strengthen Energy Conservation and Fuel Efficiency Standards
A Just Transition for Workers, Indigenous and Other Communities Affected by a Change to Clean Energy
Defend the World's Forests; Support Community-Run Tree Planting Campaigns

8) With Congress out of session due to the holidays, a number of organizations are attempting to inform the public of pending legislation. The Bill of Rights Defense Center warns to "[e]xpect a vote [on the renewal of the Patriot Act]after Congress returns on December 12th." Of the bill, Lisa Graves of the ACLU states:

The Patriot Act was bad in 2001, and despite bipartisan calls for reform, it's still bad in 2005. Instead of addressing the real concerns that millions of Americans have about the Patriot Act, the Republican majority in Congress buckled to White House pressure, stripping the bill of modest yet meaningful reforms. Congress must reject this bill.

Both the ACLU and the Bill of Rights of Defense Center are calling for grass roots action.
Also asking for action is NOW. Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.You can make your voice heard via NOW's take action page. On their page, you have the option of e-mailing your representatives and/or signing a petition that NOW will present to Congress on December 5th.

9) Meanwhile, as November winds down, American military fatalities have reached 76 for the month, with the Department of Defense reporting 50 Americans wounded thus far this month. The total number of American military killed in Iraq, official count, has reached 2105. Scripps Howard News Service reports that, "U.S. commanders on the ground have already launched plans to close bases and withdraw troops in the coming year, according to two congressmen who returned from Iraq this week." The two congress members are John Kline and Mark Kennedy (Republicans, Minn.).

10) In other Congressional news, Ari Berman reports for The Nation that John McCain is in the midst of makeover. Meeting with The Arizona Republican Assembly in August, McCain slapped some new war paint on as McCain supported the teaching of so-called "intelligent design" side by side with evolution, the state's "ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple," hailed Ronald Reagan as "my hero" and was observed "strenuously defending . . . Bush's Iraq policy."

For those who have forgotten, McCain attended Mark Bingham's funeral. Bingham was one of the passengers of Flight 93 on 9/11 in immediate media reports. As the days wore on, Bingham appeared to disappear from many reports. Mark Bingham was gay. Whether that resulted in a "downgrading" by some in the media has been a source of speculation for some time.

11) Focusing on the media, at The Black Commentator, Margaret Kimberly addresses the issue of Bob Woodward, tying him and his editor to the journalistic behaviors of Judith Miller and her editors:

Miller, Sulzberger, Woodward and Bradlee are at the top of the corporate media food chain, and their behavior tells us why Americans aren't being told anything they ought to be told. Woodward uses his access to make a fortune writing about the Supreme Court or various presidential administrations. If a journalist's priority is writing best selling books based on the amount of access gained with the powerful, then truth telling goes out the window.

12) Also addressing the very similar behaviors of Miller and Woodward are Steven C. Day at Pop Politics, Ron Brynaert at Why Are We Back In Iraq?, and Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post. Though still vocal on Judith Miller and weighing in with the "latest," CJR Daily still can't find a connection between the "journalistic" styles of Judith Miller and Bob Woodward. In their most recent 'Judy report', CJR Daily ponders the question of why did Miller go to jail when Scooter Libby and his people maintain that they released her from confidentiality claims. Covering old news and working themselves into another lather over Miller, CJR Daily wonders"Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" and maintains the question "has never been fully answered." The question has indeed been answered.

Whether CJR Daily approves of or believes the argument of Miller, Floyd Abrams, et al, is beside the point. For the record, the answer has been given many times. The argument was that Miller needed more than a form signed possibly under duress. Abrams and others have long been on the record explaining that they sought a release other than the form. In the front page report, Sunday October 16, 2005, Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak and Clifford J. Levy reported:

She said she began thinking about whether she should reach out to Mr. Libby for "a personal, voluntary waiver."
[. . .]
While she mulled over over her options, Mr. Bennett was urging her to allow him to approach Mr. Tate, Mr. Libby's lawyer, to try to negotiate a deal that would get her out of jail. Mr. Bennet wanted to revive the question of the waivers that Mr. Libby and other administration officials signed the previous year authorizing reporters to disclose their confidential discussions.
The other reporters subpoenaed in the case said such waivers were coerced. They said administration officials signed them only because they feared retribution from the prosecutor or the White House. Reporters for at least three news organizations had then gone back to their sources and obtained additional assurances that convinced them the waivers were genunie.

But Ms. Miller said she had not gotten an assurance that shefelt would allow her to testify.

Again, from the front page New York Times story on . . . October 16, 2005. Though this was not the first reporting on Miller's position, this front page story of the Times was commented in great detail including at CJR Daily here and here. The latter time by the same writer who now wonders "Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" Repeatedly hitting the designated pinata with articles focusing on her conduct while reducing the conduct of Bob Woodward to asides (whispered asides?) doesn't appear to make for brave "watchdoggery."

Democracy Now! has a special presentation today. The headlines above were composed by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Betty Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Wally of The Daily Jot and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Thanks to Dallas for his help with links and tags.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The tiger or the tiger

There I am, stirring the sweetened, condensed milk into the pumpkin pie filling, trying to keep an eye on the clock to make sure the pie shells don't overcook, trying to figure out how many skillets of corn bread I'll need for my dressing and the phone starts RINGING.

Thomas Friedman's on the couch, in shorty robe, watching TV.

"Could you get that?"

"This is really important," he whines.

"I don't have a spare hand!" I yell.

"But future Archie just met old Archie and Betty and is about to meet old Veronica! I can't walk away until they show Jughead!"

"Lug head," I snap, wiping my hands.

"No, Jughead!"

"I was talking about you," I muttered grabbing the phone.


"Oh, hello, Gail."

It was Gail Collins, not taking in a breath, but she often seems oxygen deprived. Mall's open, but no one's shopping.

Gail was sobbing now. Something about her life should be Austen not Dickens, how hard it was for a woman of class and sophistication to compete with the "hotsy to trot tootsies in this damn town" and how she had the whole day planned, how she would drop subtle hints that she was "betwixed" to David Brooks.

That's the condensed version and I'm just throwing it out there like I tossed the condensed milk into the pumpkin pie filling. There's no need to reflect on it, it's sugary and taking it in straight will turn you diabetic.

"Gail, I've got four pie shells in the oven, cornbread cooking in the cast iron skillet and I'm in the middle of making pie filling. Get to the point?"

"No, Betinna, I can't come to Thanksgiving dinner," Gail said seeing an invitation where none was offered. "Thomas Friedman is destroying my day. He has ruined my day! Ruined!"

It was the damn column. Apparently people still read it, a small audience, but a vocal one. And they weren't pleased. It was as though they asked for turkey and dressing and got a plate of cabbage and candy corn. It wasn't what they wanted and what it was made everyone ill.

"Welcome to my world, Gail."

What did she expect? What did anyone?

"George Bush's Third Term"?

I mean come on. The brain dead have larger thought waves.

Thomas Friedman is an overstuffed ottoman with frill ruffles, stuffing falling out through the tear everyone notices but pretends not to.

"Look, Gail," I said checking the pie shells, "He write 'election day 2005.' I told him to use 'inaugurated.' Just point that out, say 'What the hell does he know anyway?' and I'm sure people will stop screaming at you over the phone."

"It's not just that --"

"Damn it!"

"Betinna, I really don't need attacks from you as well. Davy is wearing his ass pants today and I'm tense enough as it is," Gail sobbed.

"That wasn't at you," I said setting two pie crusts on top of the stove and sucking on a burned thumb.

"Betinna, Davy in his ass pants always gives me the strange tingles."

"Strange tingles." Elaine and I had so much work to do. But at least we'd been able to get her to abandon the term "rump pants." As Elaine told her, "It's an ass, not a roast."

I really didn't have time for this. I didn't have time for Thomas Friedman Monday night, stoked to the brain, bogarting the bong, and convinced that every word was "golden."

"Oh man oh man, I'm golden tonight!" he's squealed. "John Tierney is going to read this and need viagra! Nicky K will whimper like the little mongrel he is. And Bill Keller, oh my God, Betinna, 'The walrus is Paul!' I just got it! 'The walrus is Paul!' Do we have any cheese nips?"

That's how the column read.

I rewrote the whole thing but Thomas Friedman read it the next morning and said it read like Cindy Sheehan emerging from a Herbert Marcuse workshop.

He then worked himself in a tizzy because he had to "ride the wave" of public opinion but he wasn't sure where it was headed. He worked himself up so much he broke the bong.

It was interesting explaining to the attending in the ER how the glass got in his ass. What happened? He sat on it. Was it a bottle? No. Was it a knick knack? No. Was it -- It was a bong! A bong! He sat on his glass bong, now get the glass out of his ass.

The whole time Thomas Friedman just lay there asking, "Can I go now?"

We got back, I thought I could knock out the pies. But no.

As soon as he's stopped feeling guilty ("Did you see the way the doctor looked at me?") over being a "hop-head," Thomas Friedman needed more pot. He can't roll a joint because he gets the tip so wet it's as though it fell in the toilet. He remembers something about William Safire using a honey container shaped like a bear in college. So he's rummaging through the cabinets and cursing at me for buying organic honey in a glass jar.

He's freaking out because "the dude" is about to bid farewell.

"What will the world be without Ted Koppel's Nightline!" he screams over and over.

Finally Dexter Filkins happens by. He was home for the holidays, having caught a flight with Ahmed Chalabi.

"Everything in my life that matters, I can do in a toilet!" Dexter brags.

His mother must be so proud.

He grabs some aluminum foil, disappears in the bathroom for five minutes and emerges with a bong he's fashioned out of the cardboard from a roll of toilet paper.

They take hits on the couch, weeping, as they watch Koppel's final broadcast.

Then they pieced together Thomas Friedman's "George Bush's Third Term." Dexter used every creative writing technique he'd honed in Iraq. So Gail should really be screaming at Dexter. There I was with a burned thumb, food to cook, a huge spread to prepare for tomorrow and I'm dealing with Old Maid On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.

Needing to get off the phone, I reminded Gail that when Davy wore his sock, his pants had a nice bulge in the front.

"Oh, Betinna," Gail half-giggled, half-panted, "you're so naughty. But I did notice a wiggle in front when he was walking --"

"Great, seize the day, Gail, seize the day! Call me tomorrow and let me know how it turned out,"
I said hanging up the phone.

Looking over, I saw Thomas Friedman had wandered into the kitchen and was using the good carving knife to scratch his back. Would that I could hang up on him.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Thomas Friedman's mind is like a bowl of Chex mix

"So what's it's like being married to a pot head?"

That's the question Mrs. K asked me.

She wasn't taking an attitude. She knows Nicky K is desperate to get in "the circle" with Thomas Friedman and John Tierney. But Thomas Friedman says, "If we start passing to nerds, it won't be cool anymore."

Thomas Friedman mistakenly believes he's cool. He and John Tierney are talking about looking at "hogs." They're also talking about space missions. They've talked about how Amtrack could be shut down and the cars turned into sushi bars. And whether the swine flu shots of the seventies were an attempt by the government to control population. Or whether or not the CIA targeted Connie Francis for her "radical ways."

Thomas Friedman swears that if you play "Where The Boys Are" backwards, you will hear Connie Francis saying, "Out of Vietnam now! End segregation! Paul is dead!"

On that one I did attempt to interject. I said the Beatles hadn't even reached our shores when Connie Francis recorded "Where the Boys Are."

"Reached our shores!" Thomas Friedman and John Tierney cried out in unison. "The war reached our shores on 9/11!"

If you've read Thomas Friedman's latest column ("Thou Shalt Not Destroy the Center"), you're familiar with that Friedman "logic."

I don't read John Tierney. If Thomas Friedman didn't pester me all day until I read his columns, I wouldn't read them either.

He's having visions. And has taken to prayer.

It's the pot.

Tierney swears it's "da bomb, the finest, all the way from Encino!" I think it must be sprayed with paraquat.

That would explain why Thomas Friedman has seen Jesus.

While chowing down on an entire bag of Cheetos (he swears they must have Vitaim C or they wouldn't be orange), Thomas Friedman explained Jesus appeared to him and Tierney. At first, Thomas Friedman says, he thought it was . . .

"Yanni, but Tierney was all like, 'Man, no, it's JC.' and I was all like damn, why couldn't it be Justin, why we got to see a NSYNC dude no one wants to see? But Tierney goes like no, the big 'JC' and I'm all, no way, that is not Johnny Carson! Tierney goes 'Dude, buy a clue from like the uh like clue store or something, it's Jesus Christ.' And I was all 'no' and he was all 'yeah' and I was like 'nooooo' and he was all 'yeeeaaaah' so I go 'Jesus?' and the dude goes 'Totally' and me and Tierney are looking at each other wondering what we do now, I mean like what's the etiquette in this kind of mind blowing situation so Tierney offers him a hit."

Having convinced himself that he really did see Jesus, Thomas Friedman wanted to spread the word. So he wrote Friday's column opening with a prayer. Originally it was to Jesus and not "Lord" as it ran in the paper.

It took forever to get him to drop Jesus. I said, "Thomas Friedman, you are Jewish!"

"They have Jews for Jesus."

I asked, "What? You're on a Bob Dylan trip now? You're going from Jew to Christian and then what? Back and forth again? Thomas Friedman, you are already wishy-washy enough without this."

There was no convincing him. I even told him about how the LA Times were firing op-ed writers. He hadn't heard about it. I told him it was everywhere.

Still he didn't believe me. So I had to point out the obvious.

The only people applauding him these days are hard line Zionists. If Thomas Friedman pisses them off, he'll be out on his ass. No job, no money. No job, no Dollar China.

He gasped at the thought of losing Dollar China.

But, because I pointed it out, he immediately dismissed it.

"Betinna, Pat Robertson would be thrilled to know I found Jesus. He would give me a job."

"Yes, but will you be happy slaving away in a diamond mine in Goma?"

The thought of physical labor was what finally did the trick and made Thomas Friedman drop the Jesus references.

But all the mail and phone calls and digs from Davy Brooks about being an American hater have gotten to him. Probably the street attacks from elderly women haven't helped there either.

I think it's the pot but he's convinced himself that the AARP is working to undermine him. He calls it a "Gentile conspiracy." Which convinces me all the more that "Jesus" was a projection on his part and not an actual vision. At any rate, he's stopped singing "Spirit in the Sky" which I'm taking as a positive sign.

So Friday's column was like a bowl of Chex mix, which is what his mind's like now, a little bit of everything and not enough of one thing to satisfy you.

Monday, November 07, 2005

From buffets to smokes

Thomas Friedman is obsessed with Chinese food.

Readers of his column, the brave few who stick with him, have probably deduced that from his constant mythical trips to China.

It's all he writes about now. I wonder if readers ask why that is? I know I did.

He's always running to what I call "Dollar China" -- a new buffett that hasn't yet kicked him out. It probably won't. It's a real dive. Run down. Desperate for customers and money. It's a place where no one ever disagrees with a customer so it's heaven for Thomas Friedman who loves to hold court and never be questioned.

"Yes, Mr. Friedman" is the oft repeated refrain while Thomas Friedman occupies the back booth smiling smugly.

He always has to sit with his back facing the wall. He says that's because "we live in terrorist times." I wonder if, pre-9/11, he invented a tale of being the victim of a potential mob hit?

The truth is, he sits with his back against the wall because he must be seen. He must face the room. I told him, "Thomas Friedman, I think the woman is supposed to face the room" and he told me I would crack from "that kind of pressure."

His concern for me is like his concern for his waistline -- something he occassionally gives lip service to but doesn't much sweat.

But anything that gets him out of his shorty robe is an improvement.

I know they're trying hard for business at "Dollar China" but I wonder what happens when Thomas Friedman leaves?

I'm thinking they talk about the "fat assed blow hard."

That was what one old lady called Thomas Friedman today as she struck him repeatedly with her handbag.

"'We deserve to lose.' We deserve to! America hater! Move to Russia!" the elderly woman screamed as she swung the handbag over and over.

I marveled at her upper body strength as well as her sheer deterimination.

Later, after Thomas Friedman stopped sobbings, he asked me why I did nothing to come to his aid?

"Betinna, it's almost as though you enjoyed it!" he whimpered.

"There is a lot of truth to that," I said for fun knowing I could get away with it because Thomas Friedman loves to be quoted.

That was the end of that because already Thomas Friedman was recasting the elderly woman who had accosted him into a young teenager from the Bronx in a "Hello Kitty t-shirt" who was taken with his "manly insight."

Within ten minutes, it was as though Thomas Friedman had forgotten I was present when he was attacked. By that point, "a dead ringer for Drew Barrymore" had stopped him in the street to say she regretted her mind wasn't as insightful as his because she found him very sexual attractive.

As I often do when Thomas Friedman's windbag still has a plentiful supply of air, I imagined a better life, one without him, one where people talked about real events and real people. Not made up visits to places and made up people who never existed. A place where no one passed off something as tired as "The World Is Flat" as pithy or worldly. Such a place has to exist, right?

I wonder about that. I also wonder what is up with his nonstop eating at Chinese buffets lately?
I wondered about that all last week. Then Saturday morning, the uberpacker John Tierney came over and he and Thomas Friedman went to Thomas Friedman's office and closed the door.

"We're working!" Thomas Friedman shouted as he closed the door.

I didn't think much of it. John Tierney's been coming over a lot lately. I figured they were working on something for the Sunday magazine when I bothered to think about it at all. Honestly, I was just glad to have Thomas Friedman out of my hair. The visits usually give me three to four hours of solo time.

And Thomas Friedman is usually so wiped out from the visits that he's too tired to do much, most importantly, too tired to pontificate. He'll usually join me in the living room after John Tierney leaves and he'll park it in a chair and just sit there in silence, staring off into space.

That worried me a little. As I told Mrs. K on the phone, "I think Thomas Friedman may be starting to think."

With all the damage he's done to our nation's public discourse writing on automatic pilot, the thought of what he might do with a little thinking actually frightened me.

I needn't have worried.

I was going to the bathroom and passed the office. Through the door, I could hear music pumped up loud and Thomas Friedman and John Tierney singing:

What if you were starving to death
And the only food was me

Thomas Friedman loves his classic rock. He's got a poster of Janis Joplin showing a boob and one of her clothed standing with Grace Slick (also clothed). So I wasn't surprised that he'd hauled out his vinyl copy of Paul Kantner and Grace Slick's Sunfighter. Again.

Myself, I prefer something with more of a beat. I was thinking about a Kat's Korner review of Stevie Wonder's new album. The review was "A Time To Dance" but before I could remember more than the title, I stopped to sniff the air.

Something really stunk. At first I thought maybe someone had dropped off another one of Todd S. Purdum's smelly jock straps but then I remembered that it was hell to get him to part with the last one, the one he had delivered on poker night. Todd S. Purdum feels he's on a winning streak and, like a superstitious baseball player, he insists upon not washing the jock strap he's currently wearing until his lucky streak ends. Now I haven't seen anything that outstanding about his writing but if it makes him feel he can write, and as long as I'm not downwind of him, what does it matter to me?

Unless it's brought in my house. I tossed the last one out in the dumpster in the alley. It cleared out the homeless that had been living there and the stray cats as well. When the sanitation workers would finally come near the dumpster to empty it, they were wearing Hazmat suits.

The thought of another one of Todd S. Purdum's smelly jocks stinking up my home didn't please me.

So I opened the door and barged in.

It took a moment for them to notice me but it took me a moment to see them due to the fact that the room was in darkness except for an old strobe light Thomas Friedman had pulled out of the closet.

They were singing:

I say you better eat what you will.
Shove it in your mouth any way that you can.

And they were smoking.

I was just about to lecture Thomas Friedman and John Tierney about the dangers of smoking when I realized they were smoking grass.

Suddenly, it all made sense.

The staring off into space for hours after John Tierney left.

The locking themselves in the office and blasting old rock albums on the turntable.

Thomas Friedman's constant chowing down at buffets.

Most of all that hideous book The World Is Flat. At last, an explanation for the half-baked "theories" in that book.

Thomas Friedman was staring at me.

"We cool, man?" John Tierney asked.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thomas Friedman, Living on the Five Finger Discount

Thomas Friedman is on a China kick. It all started when the new buffet opened up down the street. Thomas Friedman is nothing if not an all you can eat type of man, as any photo of him will attest.

I knew something was up last Thursday when he came strolling into the kitchen in sweat pants and a t-shirt that said "Baby Likes" on it. For Thomas Friedman, it was practically formal wear.
Rare is the day he squeezes into anything other than his silk shorty robe.

Leaping to my feet, I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, I immediately asked who died and what funeral we needed to attend. Thomas Friedman assured me that other than Bill Keller being "brain dead" all was right in the world, that a new establishment had opened up down the street and to grab my purse because we were going.

The hostess' name was Liang though Thomas Friedman insists upon calling her "Soon-Yi" repeatedly. He also insists upon telling the same lame joke each time we go, "Soon-Yi, in America we call this 'Chinese food' but in your country it would just be 'food!'"

Between that, his Soon-Yi comments, and just for being Thomas Friedman, Tuesday afternoon, Liang replied, "You know in China you would be called 'American bore' but in this country you are just a 'bore.'"

Thomas Friedman was furious.

"I will never come back to this communist cell!" he screamed as he piled his plate full of General Tso's chicken. As usual, he piled my purse full of shrimp which is bad enough but he tends to scoop it out of the ice with his hands and many ice chips fall in as well.

A lunch buffet to Thomas Friedman means you eat all you can there and swipe enough to have dinner on at home as well. He calls that "the free market at it's finest."

I have tried pointing out to him that what he's doing is hardly honest or honorable but he tells me I'm now "lost to the peaceniks." If I had any sense, he belives, I would have "catered" our dinner party last week by hitting a buffet with several large purses and backpacks.

What you or I might call free loading or, worse, theft of service, Thomas Friedman sees as "righting the market."

"The world is flat, Betinna," Thomas Friedman declared as I stared at his greasy mouth and the food flying around it. "Everything is fair game."


Like on Wednesday morning when he flew into a fit as I tried to watch Democracy Now!?

He was grumbling throughout the interview but he grew enraged at this point:

AMY GOODMAN: In the interrogations, you told the BBC that you met an Israeli working as an interrogator at the secret intelligence center in Baghdad.
JANIS KARPINSKI: Well, in a separate facility, not under my control, where the task force was originally assigned, I was escorting a general officer, who was not assigned in Iraq, but was making his last visits to different units, because he was getting ready to retire, and he asked to go over to this facility, because he knew a lot of the people that were working over there. And when the sergeant major asked if he wanted to see -- tour the rest of the facility, if I wanted to go with them, I declined. I said I would wait there in the foyer. And there were three individuals there, three men, and they had D.C.U. pants on, one of them had blue jeans on, and different shirts.
AMY GOODMAN: D.C.U. means?
JANIS KARPINSKI: Desert camouflage uniform, the desert military uniform pants. And one of them had a pair of blue jeans on. So I said, "What are you guys doing here?" And I said to this one individual, who looked like he was an Arab, I said to him, "Oh, are you a translator? Are you from Kuwait? Are you from Iraq?" And he said, "No, I'm not a translator, and I'm not from Kuwait or Iraq. I'm from Israel. And I work in this facility." So, I never -- he never told me that he was an interrogator. But that facility was likely used for interrogation. So, if he worked in that facility, you could conclude that he had something to do with interrogation operations, but he never told me that.

Thomas Friedman had recently attempted to have the last word, as he is so fond of, on the subject of not one Israli being in Iraq. As with so many claims he makes in his columns, I always think he would be better off researching some of his claims but apparently veracity isn't a big deal at the New York Times. Thomas Friedman says "facts weigh thought down" and attempts to write with as little actual thought as possible -- a technique that grows ever more obvious, if you ask me.

When that came up in the interview, Thomas Friedman started screaming at me that I was a "flaming insurgent, bordering on an anarchist, with one hand on your dust mop and the other ready to spray paint a lovely mink!"

He blames the "radical feminist" Gail Collins partly for my transformation. He also blames the trip to D.C. with Elaine and Gail Collins. But most of all he blames The Common Ills which is a web site that he feels "worries too much about the little nothings of the world." Strangely, he doesn't blame Democracy Now! but that's largely because he sees it as "a developing market" on which he could plug his book The World Is Flat. He has taken to sending Amy Goodman's "notes" which she obviously ignores but I'm sure they provoke much laughter each time they arrive.

All his finger pointing should be very tiring but when he feels he has been wronged, he can always muster the energy for an attack such as his column Wednesday.

Things were already tense Tuesday but he was determined to finish his lunch, all five plates and two bowls of won ton soup.

"I will get my money's worth!" he insisted between slurps.

I just wanted to go home before things got worse. But Thomas Friedman decided that we needed new silver ware and after he shoved several settings into my purse, he felt we also needed more plates.

It was at that point that Liang walked over and wondered exactly what the hell Thomas Friedman was doing.

"Should I call the cops?" Liang asked pointing to my purse.

"That is your answer to everything!" Thomas Friedman shouted, spewing won ton soup across the white table cloth. "You want to enforce authoritarian rule on everyone! You and your planned economy of 'I will spend this much on plates and that much on food and it will all be just fine.' Well that's not the way it works, Soon-Yi, in this country, the market decides demand! I will accept no apology from you!"

"I'm calling the cops," Liang said.

"I said I would not accept your apology! Go now, Soon-Yi, go!"

While Liang went to call the police, Thomas Friedman grabbed my purse and high tailed it onto the street.

"This is living, Betinna!" Thomas Friedman cackled as I attempted to hurry him down the street. "Living Hand to Mouth! Nothing else is even close!"