Saturday, June 25, 2005

What causes Thomas Friedman to retreat to a bath of bubbles?

It was not a good night for Thomas Friedman last night and I will tell you, computer diary, about it later tonight or tomorrow. But right now Thomas Friedman has ended a weeping bout and is now in a hot tub, filled with bubbles, having himself a good long soak. What caused the latest crisis?

Last night did not help. But then, a few hours ago, this was slid under our door. This handout enraged Thomas Friedman. Mainly, I suspect, because he was not mentioned.

He is screaming his constant cry of "Prune me, Betinna!" which means he needs more prune juice. So I will have to hurry.

The World Tribunal on Iraq

In May of 2004 I interviewed a man who had just been released from Abu Ghraib. Like so many I interviewed from various US military detention facilities who’d been tortured horrifically, he still managed to maintain his sense of humor.He began laughing when telling me how CIA agents made him beat other prisoners. He laughed, he said, because he had been beaten himself prior to this, and was so tired that all he could do to beat other detained Iraqis was lift his arm and let it drop on the other men.
Later, he laughed again as he told me what else had been done to him, when he said, “The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house.”
But this testimony is not about the indomitable spirit of the Iraqi people. About the dignity and strength of Iraqis, we need no testimony. This testimony is about ongoing violations of international law being committed by the occupiers of Iraq on a daily basis in regards to rampant torture, the neglect and obstruction of the health care sector and the ongoing failure to allow Iraqis to reconstruct their infrastructure.To discuss torture, there are many stories I could use here, but I’ll use two examples indicative of scores of others I documented while in Iraq.

What does it take to get a Saturday entry out of me after I've started assisting
The Third Estate Sunday Review? Something really important. Like Dahr Jamail's testimony before the World Tribunal on Iraq which we've quoted from above. It's an excerpt. Read "World Tribunal for Iraq, Culminating Session Testimony" in full.

The New York Timid's not interested (thus far). Apparently few are. That's why you should be interested. Where there is silence on a subject, it should peek your curiosity.

The World Tribunal on Iraq doesn't appear to merit much commentary in this country (US, to clarify for our foreign community members). Is it unimportant?

You tell me.

It's apparently unimportant to the mainstream. They're still refusing to tell you about the increased bombings beginning in May of 2002. (As reported by from Michael Smith's "
RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war." Also note, as Charlie pointed out, Jeremy Scahill's "The Smoking Bullet in the Smoking Gun." )

The World Tribunal on Iraq is going on right now. You can watch or listen online.

A number of e-mails came in on Baby Cries a Lot who got all teary eyed and spoke of his children as the reason why America needs to stay in Iraq. No, they aren't over there and, no, it didn't make any sense but does anyone expect sense from Baby Cries a Lot?

He whimpers, he whines, he tears up, he chokes up. Put him back on the shelf already because amidst all the drama, there's no functioning brain there.

Baby Cries a Lot resulted in over 800 e-mails on Friday so we'll note him here in terms of those who speak truth and those who gatekeep. Yes, he's so dumb that he's still claiming the Pottery Barn has a policy that it doesn't have. Yes, he's so wimpy he can't "fight" (or make a case) for anything without faking tears.
Baby Cries a Lot pimps his AEI friends. Baby Cries a Lot couldn't decide from one day to the next in January if he thought there was a problem in Ohio or not. Some days he did and spoke with (fake) passion, some days he resorted to calling those questioning the vote "tin foil hat conspiracy" types.

Here's a question. Why are some of you still listening to Baby Cries a Lot?

He angers you, I don't blame you. But you're not getting anything from him. So just walk on, Watch or listen to
Democracy Now!, go to Pacifica, go to NPR, play some music. Go to Air America Place and check out the archives for The Laura Flanders Show, The Mike Malloy Show, The Majority Report, The Randi Rhodes Show, Ecotalk, So What Else Is News?, The Rachel Maddow Show, Ring of Fire and others.

Baby Cries a Lot is a nasty person, as you've noted in countless e-mails.

Baby Cries a Lot didn't serve but now wants to act as not just the troops' supporter but as the War Cheerleader.

Baby Cries a Lot has a meltdown when, for instance, Bob Somerby begins offering criticism of a policy or a politician. (And Somerby's not invited back.) Baby Cries a Lot freaks when in the midst of "IS REAGAN STILL DEAD!" coverage, Greg Palast offers a sound critique of Reagan's Latin American policies. Baby Cries a Lot rushes to cut Jeremy Glick off (though not by saying "Shut up!") when Glick attempts to speak.

Baby Cries a Lot was perfectly happy to pimp Glick's late father and to use that to settle a score with his nemisis. He just wasn't happy to let Jeremy Glick speak beyond what happened on Fox "News."

He's a whiney ass gatekeeper who's peddled sexism to get where he is. Quit listening.

There's nothing he's ever going to say that will matter.

But here's something that does matter,
The World Tribunal on Iraq.

And you can hear it
live, right now.

"They were telling us get out, get out, and then the roof collapsed on us. . . . They went away, the house is no longer there, I do not have a car, I have nothing. I saved my children from the rubble. . . . The ceiling collapsed on us. . . . Nobody came and asked us what we were doing. . . . Nothing was told us. They say that we can bomb anything we want to, we can interrogate anyone we want to. Now they've left us houseless. What right do they have to do this?"

You won't hear about that from Baby Cries a Lot.

He's working the clampdown, in diapers, but he's working it.

He's the court jester to the Bully Boy. You mention in your e-mails that he worked up, as he worked up those phoney tears, a defense for the Bully Boy. Well that tells you everything you need to know, now doesn't it?

He wants to be a player in his new field (there's very little left to him elsewhere which is why he entertains corporations). If you've got time, and some of you appear to have that time, to write and complain about what Baby Cries a Lot did this week, then you've got time to go online and
listen or watch the testimony that's ongoing.

Mike Malloy, last night, offered that even if the Democratic Party gained a majority in the 2006 election, they wouldn't impeach the Bully Boy. He's right. That won't come from D.C. If it comes, it will have to come from outside D.C. -- pressure will have to be brought on your representatives to force the issue. And if you're willing to do that, you need to know what happened. You're not going to learn about it in the New York Timid. (Or on Baby Cries a Lot's show.) You will hear about this on
Democracy Now! (and they noted it Friday and I'm sure will address it next week). But if you're online right now for whatever reason and you're at a computer with speakers or have a pair of headphones, you probably are able to listen to the Tribunal.

You can moan next week in e-mails about what Baby Cries a Lot pushed as "liberal" or "progressive" and how he yucked it up with his centrist and right-wing "pals." You can complain about how he shoots down any idea other than "stay the course." (While the "course" is killing Iraqis and the Coalition of the Coerced whose "brave" leaders, including the Bully Boy, don't seem concerned with the body count.) But if you want to do that, I want to see something in the e-mail that suggests you took the time to inform yourself. You can do that by following the
Tribunal. Give it fifteen minutes. You gave Baby Cries a Lot three hours a day for five days this past week.

You're pinning your hopes on something that's not going to happen. There will be no awakening for Baby Cries a Lot until the troops are withdrawn. At that point, he'll sob and say he wanted it all along. You've all heard the inconsistencies in his day to day discussions. Because, despite the fact that he pushes himself as it, he's not a political person, you've failed to realize that he twists in the wind and always has.

Next week, Baby Cries a Lot will no doubt tear up again and give yet another "fathers & son" talk. And it will be as meaningless next week as it was this week as it was the week before as it was the week before that . . .

It has nothing to do with reality.

The Iraq World Tribunal has to do with reality. People are offering testimony. There's no Baby Cries a Lot there to rush in and stop them or to change the topic or say "We have to go to commercial" and nurse his wounded ego throughout the following segments.

This is reality and you can listen to (or watch it).

Democracy Now! Friday:
World Tribunal on Iraq Opens In Turkey
In Turkey, the World Tribunal on Iraq is opening its three-day session today. The gathering is modeled after the International War Crimes Tribunal that British philosopher Bertrand Russell formed in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Russell's tribunal was charged with conducting 'a solemn and historic investigation' of U.S. war crimes in Vietnam in order to 'prevent the crime of silence.' Speaking at the World Tribunal on Iraq will be Indian writer Arundhati Roy, former UN Assistant Secretary General Dennis Halliday, independent journalist Dahr Jamail and others.

Baby Cries a Lot channels Robert McNamara via the sixties. That says everything you need to know about Baby Cries a Lot. (Who will probably emerge from a Fog of War years from now to speak out against the invasion/occupation of Iraq while still justifiying some similar action that's going on then.) (Yes, there will be future similar actions. Those like Baby Cries a Lot make that possible. This war and the next brought to you by the Babies Cry a Lot.)

We can complain about someone who's useless or we can focus on what does matter. While I understand the e-mailers complaints, no, I'm not going to fact check Baby Cries a Lot. Life is too short for me to put up with his nonsense. And while it's true that others have pushed him as a brave liberal voice, we haven't done that here. We've largely avoided him. Let's continue to do that and focus on what matters.

The World Tribunal on Iraq matters. You can follow it online.

As I type, Tim Goodrich is about to continue speaking. Goodrich is a founding member of
IVAW -- an organization committed to ending the occupation. And though they don't feel the need to trumpet it in constant advertisements, "they were there."

How people are recurited into the military, who joins the military and why. . . . Military life is glorified and soldiers are seen as role models. In my case, I wanted to join the military since I was five-years-old . . .

He's speaking of the socio-economic draft right now. And you won't hear him saying that seated across from Baby Cries a Lot. You won't hear Jim Massey or Diana Morrisson or Michael Hoffman or any of the others. You will hear the clampdowners telling you that you can't speak because you weren't there or telling a Vietnam vet that they don't know what they're talking about because it's "not Nam, man." Your information flow with Baby Cries a Lot is severely restricted.
So you can wait until Monday and get upset that Baby Cries a Lot is goofing around for three hours with the occassionally teary sob, or you can make the effort to find out for yourself what's going on. Member can complain about Baby Cries a Lot but if you're going to do that, put something in the e-mail that demonstrates that not only do you realize the would-be Bob Hope has nothing to say, but also indicates you did make a point to get actual information you can use somewhere else.

Here's where I think (as always, I could be wrong), we are in the testimony to the

12:00 – 12:20 Witness -
Tim Goodrich: The Conduct of the US Army

12:20 – 12:40
Amal Sawadi: Detentions and Prison Conditions

12:40 – 13:00 Witness -
Fadhil Al Bedrani: Collective Punishment

13:00 – 13:20 Questions from the Jury

13:20 – 14:30 LunchFourth Session / Cont. ... (Moderator: Joel Kovel)

14:30 – 14:50
Joel Kovel: Effects of the War on the Infrastructure

14:50 – 15:10
Herbert Docena: Economic Colonization

15:10 – 15:30
Mohammed Al Rahoo: Iraqi Law Under Occupation

15:30 – 15:50
Abdul Ilah Al Bayaty: The Transfer of Power in Iraq

15:50 – 16:10
Niloufer Bhagwat: The Privatization of War

16:10 – 16:30 Questions from the Jury

16:30 – 16:50 Coffee Break

16:50 – 17:10
Nermin al Mufti: The Occupation as Prison

17:10 – 17:30
Barbara Olshansky: Covert Practices in the U.S. War on Terror and the
Implications for International Law: The Guantanamo Example

17:30 – 17:50 Witness -
Mark Manning / Rana M. Mustafa: Testimony on Falluja

17:50 – 18:10
Abdul Wahab Al Obeidi: Human Rights Violations and the Disappeared
in Iraq18:10 – 18:30
Johan Galtung: Human Rights and the U.S./U.K. Illegal Attack on Iraq

18:30 – 18:50 Questions from the Jury


0509:00 – 09:10 Summary of the Previous DayFifith Session / Cultural Heritage, Environment and World Resources (Moderator: Hilal Elver)

09:10 – 09:20
Hilal Elver: The Framework of the Session

09:20 – 09:40
Gül Pulhan: The Destruction of Cultural Heritage: A Report from the
Istanbul Initiative

09:40 – 10:00 Witness -
Amal Al Khedairy: Testimony on the Destruction of Cultural Heritage

10:00 – 10:20
Joel Kovel: The Ecological Implications of the War

10:20 – 10:40 Witness -
Souad Naji Al-Azzawi: Tes. on Radioactive Contamination in Iraq

10:40 – 11:00 Questions from the Jury

11:00 – 11:20 Coffee BreakSixth Session / Global Security Environment and Future
Alternatives (Moderator: Ayşe Gül Altınay)

11:20 – 11:40
Ayşe Gül Altınay: Militarism and the Culture of Violence

11:40 – 12:00
Nadje Al-Ali: Gender and War: The Plight of Iraqi Women

12:00 – 12:20
Liz Fekete: Creating Racism and Intolerance

12:20 – 12:40
Samir Amin: The Economy of Militarization

12:40 – 13:00
Ahmad Mohamed Al-Jaradat: Relationship between Iraq, Palestine and

13:00 – 13:20 Questions from the Jury

13:20 – 14:30 LunchSixth Session / Continues

14:30 – 14:50
Wamidh Nadhmi: Polarization and the Narrowing Scope of Political Alternatives

14:50 – 15:10
John Ross: Collateral Damage: The Mexican Example

15:10 – 15:30
Christine Chinkin: Human Security in Iraq

15:30 – 15:50
Ken Coates: The Future of the Peace Movement

15:50 – 16:10
Corrine Kumar: Towards a New Political Imaginary

16:10 – 16:30
Biju Matthew: Alternatives for an Alternative Future

16:30 – 17:00
WTI İstanbul Coordination: The WTI as an Alternative: An Experimental

17:00 – 17:20 Questions from the Jury

17:20 – 17:40 Coffee Break

17:40 – 18:00
Richard Falk - Closing Speech on Behalf of the Panel of Advocates

18:00 – 18:20
Arundhati Roy - Closing Speech on Behalf of the Jury of Conscience

18:20 – 18:30 The Closing of the World Tribunal on Iraq, Istanbul.

27 JUNE 2005

11.00 Press conference announcing the decision of the Jury of Conscience at
Hotel Armada

You can complain about Baby Cries a Lot (as many of you have) but you can also make a point to inform yourself.
The World Tribunal on Iraq is being conducted right now. You can see it as a symbolic action or as a resource for information or however you want to see it. But you can also follow the proceedings online.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Thomas Friedman doesn't know where he stands

It's not the usual drivel you've grown to expect from a relic of a bygone era who tosses "trendy" words around about as convincingly as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes so-called love affair.
It's much worse because my husband Thomas Friedman has a different status problem.

It is the fact that he's no longer clear where he stands. Or to put it more musically, were he swiping from Joni Mitchell and being confessional, he would have entitled his column "I Don't Know Where I Stand" and not "Run, Dick, Run."

With a book that didn't even spend more weeks at number one than "the actress" did with her book, and caused far less excitement than she did, Thomas Friedman's latest appears to ride the charts in a holding pattern that can only be called malingering.

Any original thought my husband Thomas Friedman once had, however slight, long ago was disproven. Thomas Friedman 2.0 is as ineffective as the early version only, these days, people have caught on.

And that explains, in part, why his op-ed space seems like a landfill not even Greenpeace would attempt to rehabilitate.

His mouth will go on, but his brain expired somewhere around 1994.

So what we're left with is the bag of goodies that has no rhyme or reason other than appearing to be everything he could order off the dollar menu at Wendy's in one visit. Saying that it aimlessly drifts would be giving Thomas Friedman's column too much credit because it's not unmoored sail boat, it's something far less friendly.

If Thomas Friedman had a following, or even a brain, he wouldn't seem so disconnected from the problems facing the country.

"If Thomas Friedman had a brain, or some approximate, he wouldn't scatter shoot in his attempts to appear 'balanced' and he would attempt to actually have a point of view beyond 'I want to run my country into the ground,'" said Jess, a neighbor who lives upstairs and throws a great party.

But if one looks at the ramblings Thomas Friedman has chosen to inform, or not to inform, on his recent writings come off like the lonely rants of the guy at the end of the bar who's forever going home alone.

"Thomas Friedman is not thinking of the bigger implications" for the years on down the road, Jess added.

For instance, the whole "world is flat" theme was flatter than a Diet Coke opened an hour ago and left parked on a picnic bench in the noon time sun that sizzles hotter than Colin Farrell in a nudey scene that will never make the final cut of a major motion picture coming to a theater near you soon.

It will be a fluke of immense proportions, akin to the fleeting period where many Americans actually thought Ashlee Simpson could sing, if anyone continues to take my husband Thomas Friedman and his onanistic frenzy for "free market" principles seriously.

Thomas Friedman's uninformed devotion to year zero policies meant that his brain bought the farm many, many years ago and that, as awareness is raised, his looney rants will be neither cute nor tolerable.

If Thomas Friedman had even one original thought, he might be dangerous and inspire heirs who would wish to carry on his "legacy" but instead he repeatedly mines the cannon of pop culture to dress up failed policies that have resulted in strife and despair in the third world.
One thing for sure, there's some severly sad about a man his age working the likes of Britney Spears into his columns and if he can't grasp that he just needs to picture the joke Bob Dole has turned himself into.

But instead of grasping reality, Thomas Friedman seems to think he has all the creativity of Ava and C.I. penning one of their hilarious TV reviews. Somebody break it to him, his e-train ticket got punched long, long ago.

Thomas Friedman seems to be "musing" as if his past columns were a monument not of failed predictions and philosophies, which they are, but instead of the visionary work one expects from great thinkers or even Joey Heatherton.

It's been so beyond, "I'm playing the lobby and might make the main room" in Vegas for so long now that even Tina Turner's fabled comeback in the eighties offers no hope that Thomas Friedman can latch on to to carry him through this "If he sings 'Midnight at the Oasis' one more time, I'm asking the management to comp my drinks!" period.

With newspaper circulation dropping like a bad can of Raviolios, and the biggest beneficiaries being the Greenspan Wrecking Crew Thomas Friedman hitched his jet ski to decades ago,
it is blindingly obvious that Thomas Friedman can't even phone it in these days.

As a columnist, he has utterly failed.

To listen to the youth of America today is to hear their strong criticism of his dialing in column after column for the contestant that got kicked off American Idol a season ago while mumbling that he will bring William Hung back, he will!

To listen to the youth is to hear from a group of emerging adults who know that the very "world is flat" theories he preaches have destroyed pensions, employee benefits such as health care, and reduced seniors to living below subsistance levels.

We have a country that's teetering on the edge of total destruction and Thomas Friedman wants to drop kick it over the edge.

Instead of focusing on ways to mend the broken system and repair the social fabric, Thomas Friedman's jerking off to his own echo chamber of globalization.

It won't fly. Yes, Thomas Friedman has attacked the French, Americans, the youth, and just about any other target that comes into his limited range and he has gotten left behind in his "free market" religion that believes that not God, not man, but the almighty market will correct all social ills. A person with a brain in his head would have long ago adjusted his devotion to market unconstrained. At the very least, he'd wear a girdle to reign in that flabby rear when running around the apartment in his shorty robe.

Thomas Friedman would also not be taking the head-up-his-ass position in opposition to all concerns of the various citizens who make up the very planet his much pushed "world is flat/globalization" junk theories are supposed to exist in while mixing in a few references to music and film.

Just this month, we have seen what happens in a nation, Bolivia, where the people are placed dead last and the free market reigns supreme. If Thomas Friedman hopes to become a respected observer, or at least a non-dangerous one, he would have focused on issues such as the public commons and given some thought to the social fabric he seems bound and determined, like a businessman on an out of town trip relentlessly visiting a dominatrix, to destroy.

If this is how he intendes to go out in the last days where sanity is still a possibility, that's his business. But if Thomas Friedman had a brain or sense of perspective, I have to believe he
would not only be more aware, he would be saying: "Hey boss. I've lost all ability to reach the public. I'm about as useful as as someone trying to do an intervention on Bobby Brown. Put me out of my misery and fire me already!"

Monday, June 20, 2005

Why does my husband Thomas Friedman hate America?

Why does my husband Thomas Friedman hate America?

That's the question on my mind and the minds of a lot of other people.

Having drifted off the ice flow earlier by trashing Americans and the French as lazy, having trashed liberals in this country, Thomas Friedman found a new target for his hatred: General Motors.

"Why are people so mad?"

That's what Thomas Friedman asked, sprawled out on the sofa in his shortie robe, drinking his prune juice and eating chocolate covered cherries. Chocolate covered cherries which, by the way, I can not have any of because Thomas Friedman says that I am allergic. I don't remember being allergic to chocolate covered cherries but, according to Thomas Friedman, I am. So all three boxes of chocolate covered cherries that Nicky K gifted Thomas Friedman with can only be eaten by him. Nice how that works out for him.

Why are people so mad?

I couldn't believe he had to ask.

I grabbed the Friday paper and waved his last column in his face: "As Toyota Goes ..."

"You've advocated the closing of GM! You've spit on the workers and, maybe this will grab you by your chubby ass, the investors!"

"Workers? American workers are so lazy. In India, they work a thirty-five hour day."

"Thomas Friedman you are getting on my last nerve!"

I stormed out. I was furious.

"Prune me!" Thomas Friedman yelled, causing me to spin around and walk back into the room.

"Excuse me?"

"I need more prune juice, Betinna," Thomas Friedman whined in that voice I've become all to familiar with.

"Betinna!" Thomas Friedman whined.

You know, I'm sure my mother loved me very much and put great thought into naming me. But when Thomas Friedman whines it, starting out on one octive but quickly climbing, I really hate, hate my own name.

Taking the glass from Thomas Friedman, I watched as he reached over to the coffee table to grab a paper towel. He kept waving his chubby finers at it but couldn't grasp the paper towel.
Rolling his eyes, he stuck his fingers in his mouth and sucked off the stuff from the creamy center of the chocolate covered cherries.

"MMM!" Thomas Friedman moaned before wiping his hands on his shorty robe.

"The problem is that American workers are just too lazy," Thomas Friedman declared with a straight face.

Shaking my head, I went to the kitchen to squeeze him a new glass of prune juice.

The whole time, I was telling myself that I was not spending another Saturday night holed up in this apartment with him while he watched The District. Those kids upstairs were having a party. And when I was hauling Thomas Friedman's suits from the cleaner, without any help because Thomas Friedman felt a back spasm coming on, that nice Jess offered to help and ended up carrying them upstairs.

Looking through the plastic, Jess asked me, "Are these costumes? Are you some sort of independent filmmaker?"

I wish. I wish I was in anyway or form independent. Instead I am the only woman I know who has a baby with a hairy ass. And yes, he is bigger, but that just means he cries louder and kicks harder.

Jess had invited me up to their apartment for a party Saturday night and I was going.

Thomas Friedman didn't believe me.

"Come in here, Betinna! You're going to miss The District!"

Walking through the living room in my best fitted sheet, I told Thomas Friedman he could stay home watching TV if he wanted but I was going out.

"Betinna," he moaned, "you are allergic to parties!"

I seem to be allergic to quite a bit lately, quite a bit I never knew I was allergic to.

I told Thomas Friedman that I was willing to risk it.

"But what about me!" he howled.

"I will see you later, Thomas Friedman."

As I opened the door, I felt something around my legs and looked down to see that Thomas Friedman had grabbed them.

"Please! Please! Don't go! Stay! Please! Mommy!'

Did he just call me "Mommy?"

"Thomas Friedman," I said in my sternest voice, "I am going to a party. I will be upstairs. You have the choice of coming with me or staying here."

"But I love Craig T. Nelson! I can't miss The District."

"Then that," I began jerking my legs free from his grip, "is your decision. I will see you later."

I was out the door when he ran after me stamping his feet.

"Fine, I will go with!" he hissed.

"Not in that shorty robe," I said giving him a long, slow look up and down.

Fifteen minutes later he emerged, and they say women take a long time, wearing blue sweat pants and a Mountain Dew "Just Dew It!" t-shirt.

On the elevator ride up, he told me I was going to embarrass myself and that no one would want to talk to me "because you are so strange and backward. You can't help it because it is your culture."

I ignored him which is not all that different from what the book buying public is doing but that's a tale for another time.

The door opened and there was Ty. Thomas Friedman looked very nervous.

"Are we interrupting a robbery?" Thomas Friedman asked loudly causing Ty to roll his eyes.

Realizing his faux pas, Thomas Friedman tried to cover, "Come on, let's get 'the robbery started!' That's the new hot phase, all the kids are saying it. I am the great Thomas Friedman and this is my wife. She is black. I have many black friends. Uh . . . Bob Herbert and I spoke at the Christmas party and there's . . . uh . . . Ray Charles!"

"Ray Charles is dead," Ty said.

"He is? Why wasn't I told!"

Maybe because he never knew Ray Charles? Realizing that the longer he was allowed to speak, the deeper the foot in Thomas Friedman's mouth, I left Thomas Friedman standing outside and entered the party.

What a relief after nonstop Thomas Friedman. One moment I was discussing sex and how it had been a long, long time since I'd had any with this well dressed, attractive woman named Rebecca and the next Thomas Friedman was breathing down my neck.

Thomas Friedman greeted Rebecca with, "Are those real or implants?"

Which he followed with a loud chortle.

I started to realize that there is a reason Thomas Friedman does not get out more.

"They're real," Rebecca declared, narrowing her eyes, "and you can stop staring at them."

"Those are huge melons! We're talking Dolly Parton!" Thomas Friedman laughed, still think he was being charming.

Turning her head, Rebecca yelled out, "Which one of you f**kers invited John Bolton?"

"John Bolton's here," Thomas Friedman gasped getting excited.

"I am sorry," I explained, "He is not John Bolton. This is my husband --"

Thomas Friedman straightened his "Just Dew It!" t-shirt and plastered a smile on.

"Thomas Friedman," I continued.

"What?" he sputtered.

"Where was the great?" Thomas Friedman squealed. "The Great Thomas Friedman! The great! Is that too mcuh to ask for, huh? The Great Thomas Friedman."

"You poor dear," Rebecca said patting my shoulder before walking off.

"Thomas Friedman, you are scaring people away!"

"No, no, no," he clucked. "It is not me. It is you. I told you no one would like you here. Come, we'll go back to the apartment and watch The District and you won't have to expose yourslef to this sort of ridicule anymore."

Spotting Jess, I left Thomas Friedman standing to the side and walked over to hear Jess sing and strum a guitar. Eventually Thomas Friedman came up behind me and started snapping his fingers to the glare of many as Jess finished up "Where Are You Going?"

"That was out of sight, man," Thomas Friedman said loudly. "Was it Barry Manilow?"

"It was Dave Matthews Band," Jess said staring at the strange man.

"Well you know what you should do, man? You should learn 'Mandy.' That's a classic. Or, for something more up tempo, 'Copa, Copa Cabana.' That'd get everyone dancing, man."

"I'll take it under advisement, 'man,'" Jess replied with just a hint of sarcasm.

"You got an accordian around here?" Thomas Friedman asked. "If so we could really work up a jam, man. I do a hot version of 'Smoke On The Water.'"

Ignoring Thomas Friedman, Jess turned to me and said, "Betinna, I'm so glad you could make it. Do you need a drink?"

"Sure. Thank you."

"What'll it be?"

"Do you have a beer?" I asked as Thomas Friedman gasped.

As Jess went off to get my beer, Thomas Friedman groaned.

"One," he hissed through clenched teeth. "My wife does not drink beer. Two, me and the kid were connecting. We were talking tunes. You do not understand American kids Betinna. This is not the sink hole of an island you grew up on. Never interrupt two men when they are discussing music. Three, you are embarrassing yourself repeatedly."

Jess returned with a beer, which I accepted and then quickly moved as far away from Thomas Friedman as I could get.

A young woman named Ava had just introduced her to me when there was Thomas Friedman once again.

"Hey, I'm the great Thomas Friedman. Betinna is my wife. I got a story for you that you'll like. I was in a cab last week with a Mexican driver and he told me, 'Thomas Friedman, although you are America, to me you are also Mexican because you are my brother, mi madre."

"Why would I like that story?" Ava asked.

"Because it was about one of your people," Thomas Friedman explained looking at her like she was the dense one.

"I am not from Mexico," Ava said looking bored.

"Well then think of your parents," Thomas Friedman persisted.

"They are not from Mexico either."

"Oh. Well I was at a deli the other day and this fellow from Peru came up to me and --"

"Excuse me," Ava said walking away.

"Golly gosh darn it!" Thomas Friedman said stamping his foot. "Betinna, you are embarrasing me!"

"I do not think you need any help with that," I said evenly. "Now quit following me around. I see enough of you every other day of the week. Every time I turn around, there you are lurking! Get lost."

As I walked away, I could hear him whimper, but I was here to have fun.

Damn it, that's what I was going to do.

Suddenly, the stereo was playing. A man grabbed my hand and said, "Let's dance."

As we did, he introduced himself as Jim and asked me if I was okay?

"Yes, why?"

"I see that weirdo who looks like John Bolton following you around. He's so creepy."

"Oh that," I laughed. "That's my husband. He is creepy. Until you get to know him. Then he's just weird. Then you get used to his weirdness and he's just dull."

As the song ended, Jim walked me over to his girlfriend. As they kissed, I thought about how the last time Thomas Friedman and I kissed, if you can call it that, was when we were playing Bill Keller Will Grovel and I was down on my knees kissing his butt saying, "Thomas Friedman, you are a great man, you are a wise man. We should change the paper's name to The New Thomas Friedman. Or Thomas Friedman's New York Times. . . ."

Dona nodded to me and asked who the weirdo was going around telling stories about cabbies?

"That is my husband."

Dona grimaced and mouthed sorry.

"No problem."

"Is he all there?" Dona asked. "I just wonder because apparently every cabbie he's ever met just wanted to sing Thomas Friedman's praises"

"No, he is not all there. And he is Thomas Friedman."

Dona grimaced again and mouthed sorry again.

It was time for some sort of reading and Jess, Dona, Jim, Ty and Ava took turns reading lines.

As I remember it, this is what they read:

Editorial: "Illegal" bombing raids? When will the domestic press note this?
A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war "to put pressure on the regime" was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.

The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began "spikes of activity" designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.
The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was "not consistent with" UN law, despite American claims that it was.
The decision to provoke the Iraqis emerged in leaked minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and his most senior advisers -- the so-called Downing Street memo published by The Sunday Times shortly before the general election.
It's Sunday, it's the editorial, we're highlighting a report, so of course it's Michael Smith's. Of course we have to look overseas to find "British bombing raids were illegal, says Foreign Office" in The Sunday Times of London.
"Illegal under international law?" That's a chage, a strong one. We're confused as to why it's received so little attention. "Spikes of activity," as we've noted here and C.I.'s noted at The Common Ills, mean the increased bombings that took place before Congress authorized the Bully Boy to act. "Spikes of activity" also refer to the attacks on a country supposedly run by a madman possessing WMDs that he was looney enough to use. That was the public commentary from the Bully Boy and the Boy-ettes, right?
As C.I. wrote, you can't have it both ways. You can't claim "Saddam has WMDs! We're all at risk!" and increase the bombings. If you really believe the WMD lie (we all know it was a lie now, right?) you don't attempt to start a war before you're ready. You don't put your country at risk. If you really believe there's a risk, to invite an attack when you're unprepared, a WMD attack, may border on derelicition of duty for the one who wanted the whole nation (military and civilian) to call him "commander-in-chief." (Note to Diane Sawyer, unless you enlisted, he wasn't YOUR commander-in-chief, nor was he the Dixie Chicks' "commander-in-chief.")
Now if you feel there's no risk, then that means you were lying. You were lying to the people, you were lying to Congress.
We're prepared to argue either way, just let us know which lie you intend to stick to this time.
Did you believe Saddam Hussein had WMDs and that the nation was risk? If so, you put everyone at risk by increasing the bombings to invite an attack.Did you not believe in the WMD myth? If that's the case, you lied us into war.
We're betting it was the second one but we're aware that the only one who has more of problem than our mainstream press with applying the term "liar" to you is . . . well, you.
So do you want to stick to the "I told the truth!" defense?We think it's a loser. (We think both are losing positions for you.)
Sticking to the "I'm another George who can never tell a lie" defense leaves you wide open for charges of recklessly endangering the citizens and the nation you swore to protect. Sometimes, it seems like the Bully Boy really forgets his job duties.Again, tell us which story you're going to stick to so we can make our case. We'll take either option: lying us into an illegal war or risking the lives of many Americans.
As for the press, one Scott Shane article does not a paper of record make. Possibly The Timid's been limbering up for a limbo contest? If so, trust us, you'll surely come in first. Now how about getting back into the business of news?
The nation needs to know what's going on and what is at stake. Citizens have depended upon one another because the press didn't do their job. Publicity releases do not a news article make.
But we think, deep inside, there's a part of you that's itching to prove what you can do. Somewhere inside, you want to strut your stuff if only to prove to the country that the bloggers (making up Bill Keller's fantasy "circle jerk") are full of crap.
Have at it, big boys & girls. Pimp slap us around by showing just what you can do when you marshall all the reporters you have on staff and use the full weight of your paper to get behind a story.
But until that day comes, lose terms like "circle jerks," or "arm chair media critics" (another one Keller's fond of) and drop the attacks on web sites and bloggers because the reality is we've done the reporting you've refused to do.
"Reporting!" we can hear the snort coming down from Mount Keller.
Yeah, the same kind of brave reporting you run on Monday where a Timid reporter "reports" from the safety of his or her arm chair on who said what on the Sunday Chat & Chews.
The Associated Press is getting behind this story. A few regional papers have already run their opinion pieces. Rumblings all around, probably not a good time for The Timid to take a pass.
As we said in last week's editorial, "Mainstream press, do your damn job."
Hats off to C.I. who got two mentions of the latest from The Sunday Times of London up last night (while on a break from helping us). We're sure that what C.I. could do in fifteen minutes, you with your large staff can do in five. If you apply yourselves. We'll be handing out grades next week.

We all applauded, except for Thomas Friedman who was plowing his way through the guacamole when I glared at him.

"We've got a real treat," Ava declared. "A really special person is here tonight."

Wiping his hands on his "Just Dew It!" t-shirt Thomas Friedman winked at me. I used to think that was cute.

"So put your hands together and get ready to be blown away," Ava said.

Looking over at Thomas Friedman beaming, I noted that he had guacamole in his mustache.

Good, I thought. I couldn't believe that he was once again about to make it all about him.

"Give it up for C.I.!" Ty hollered.

Thomas Friedman had almost pushed his way to the front when he heard "C.I." He immediately ran to my side and began muttering but I was applauding too loudly to hear what he was saying.

C.I. started to a do a reading and I had to tell Thomas Friedman to shut up. C.I. said something like the following:

Islam Online reports that US occupation forces have detained Iraqi women as "bargaining chips" (Omar Salah Al-Din & Khalid Yassin El-Yassari)
US occupation forces completed on Sunday, June 19, the release of twenty one Iraqi women held as a bargain chip in the northern city of Mosul."
The release came after massive protests organized by the Islamic Party and the Islamic organization for human rights over the past three days," Nour Al-Din Al-Hayalli, the Islamic Party's media officer in Mosul, told
The Islamic party championed a massive demonstration following the Friday prayers on June 17 to press for the immediate release of all Iraqi women in the US custody.
Assembling outside the Sedek Rashan mosque, protestors denounced the American occupation for dishonoring the Iraqi people by detaining women.
They carried photos of detained women, demanding the government of Ibrahim Jaafari to live up to its responsibilities toward the Iraqi people.
The above was sent in by Erika. It's from Islam Online, Omar Salah Al-Din and Khalid Yassin El-Yassari's "US Frees Iraqi Woman Detainees After Protests" and it's disgusting (as Erika noted in her e-mail). Barganing chips? We're holding women as bargaining chips?
Is this story in our press (United States)? No one but Erika e-mailed on it so I'm thinking it's not. (As always, I could be wrong.)
So our hearts & minds campaign now includes taking women and holding them as bargaining chips? And that's apparently okay or, at least, something we're not going to talk about.
I don't think so. It is not okay, it is not alright, it is not "the product of war" or "collateral damage." If the report is true it's disgusting. There is no "higher ground" left for us to take in Iraq, we're firmly in the gutter now.
Al-Hayalli said many Iraqi families have complained that the occupation forces were holding women as a bargain chip against relatives reportedly involved in resistance operations.
That's how we do things now? The Bully Boy tries to the turn the military into the mafia?
How exactly did the discussion for that plan of action take place?
Rummy: We think we know some resistance fighters but we can't catch them. So what if, I was watching Scarface last night, we went after the women?
Bully Boy: Great idea! I love it! Reminds me of when we used to do panty raids in my prep school!
Rummy: But you went to an all boys prep school?
Bully Boy: What's your point? Do it, Rummy! Do it!
Is that how it went?Who made the call that it was okay to grab people as barganing chips?Let's note, they don't even know who the resistance is. They may suspect, but they don't know. So on suspicion of the activities of some, they grabbed people that they don't even think are involved.
Do you realize how disgusting that is? How far from what we're supposed to stand for that takes us?
If the protests hadn't led to the women's release, what next? Do we decide, if the resistance continues (and it will) that we start "offing" a few of the women we have detained to show the resistance we mean "business?" Is that the next step?
You've already done a round up and imprisoned people that you think are innocent. You've already violated that aspect of what America is supposed to stand for. It's not that hard to then decide that you'll torture these detained women or worse.
This is disgusting. Erika is exactly right, this is vile and goes against all notions of what we're supposed to stand for. There is no justification for it -- no legal or moral justification. It's just flat out wrong, flat out illegal, flat out immoral, flat out unethical. It never should have happened.
And that's the thing, day after day we lose our grip on what we're supposed to represent. We trash notions of democracy, notions of freedom, notions of rule of law. The invasion/occupation should never have happened to begin with.
But those who want to argue we need to "stay the course" regardless (think of Betty's "husband") better realize what we're turning into and what we're doing over there. They better realize what we're sacrificing and destroying within ourselves and our concepts of freedom and humanity.
It's not getting better. Trot out the Happy Talkers, launch a new round of Operation Happy Talk, tell us that ceiling fans went up in some building or that you're really going to work, at some point, on the water system (how long have we been waiting on that?). Keep jaw boning about things that have nothing to do with what's going on.
And the New York Timid won't tell you about it. Embed reporters, reporting from the Green Zone, have other concerns. Which is why one of them (you know which one) can go on radio and speak of what "we" are trying to do. They've lost objectivity, they've forgotten that they're not there to write titters for the base newsletter, that they're actually supposed to be reporting on what's happening, not what Centcom tells them is happening, but what is actually going on.The stay the courses see an event like the one excerpted above and avert their eyes or speak of the "costs of war." I'm not prepared to pay the "cost" of abandoning living in free society. Nor am I prepared to go along blindly as we degrade everything we are taught to hold dear. The longer we are over there, the more we lose our way.
What's going on Iraq, the destruction of Falluja, whatever, it's disgusting. But for those Happy Talkers who see Iraqis and only see the "other," let's put this to their base self-interests because they lack the ability to see the humanity in anyone who doesn't look like them or talk like them.
So Happy Talkers need to ask themselves how much are they prepared to "pay?" What "cost" is okay?
They don't care what goes on over there. They justify it as needed to "spread democracy" or some such b.s. Well, what about what it's doing to our country? I won't note the military casualities because that doesn't seem to bother them either.
But I will note that we long ago crossed a line and if they're okay with that, if they're okay with tossing out everything we're supposed to stand for and believe in, then these people who paint themselves as uber patriots really must hate this country. You really have to hate it to trash every concept that we're taught it was built upon.
We're becoming something very ugly. Forget in the rest of the world's eyes because Happy Talkers aren't concerned with that or "global tests" or "polls." But we're becoming something very ugly in our own eyes. And we can look away or pretend it's not happening, but it doesn't change reality.
When we're silent on Iraqi women being detained because their family members are suspects, we're giving our approval. Silent or otherwise, we're endorsing that as okay. So when that "policy" that we're okay with comes back home and we start seeing it used by law enforcement in this country, we've already endorsed it. We've said it's "what had to be done" with our shrug or silence and, therefore, there's no reason for it not to be used here.
Certainly, we have horrible crimes in this country. So if it's okay to be used in Iraq, then it's okay to be used here, right? Maybe we'll start out by using it on someone accused of terrorism?
The administration loves to convict by the press. They're not so crazy about getting anyone into an actual court room (ask Jose Padilla), but they're happy to try their cases through the media.
So they pick X. X's is an American citizen. Probably of Arab descent because that's easier to target without a huge uproar. People get nervous apparently about defending rule of law because, well, it's a person of Arab descent, what if they did do something!
Rule of law is rule of law. Everyone's guaranteed their day in court. (It's just the Bully Boy who thinks he can subvert the Constitution.) But knowing that someone of Arab descent won't stir a lot of concern in our press or public, they target X.
Then after, what?, three years in a prison, holding cell, or military base, they come back out to the mikes and cameras and reveal that they didn't have luck "cracking" him so they've also taken in his wife. They don't think she did anything, they're not accusing her of anything, but they needed a "bargaining chip." So it's okay, right?
And probably for some people it will be. The Timid may launch an editorial, a tiny one, but there won't be huge press coverage and what there is will just repeat the administration's line without questioning.
So we've used family as a "bargaining chip" there. And there wasn't an uproar. Even though it goes against every legal convention in this country. So what's next? Drug dealers? Do we detain their family members? What about organized crime? Probably that's where we'd hit hardest because we likened, in the initial round ups following 9-11, "terrorism suspects" to members of organized crime. So we'll go after family members of organized crime suspects (suspects, no convictions), family members we have nothing to charge them with, and we'll round them up and detain them.
At what point in this process do you say no?
It's not very "American" to do any of it. But it's not very "American" to detain Iraqi women as "barganing chips." What it is is shameful. It goes against everything we're supposed to believe in. The Bully Boy has so trashed our notions of self that things are being done in our name, under his orders (Diane Sawyer couldn't stop noting he was "our commander-in-chief" in that looney attempt to shame the Dixie Chicks), that it's hurting us. Not just in terms of blowback, but in terms of what we stand for and how we see ourselves.
Again, Erika's right. It's disgusting.
There are other reasons to "Bring the Troops Home," ones that don't involve our own self-interests. (Link takes you to the February 2005 editorial from The Progressive. We noted it in January and agree with all the points raised.) They are solid reasons and we've endorsed them and continue to do so. But for those Happy Talkers that can't seem to grasp any concern further than their own noses, maybe it's time for them to ask what "costs" they are willing to pay in terms of their own lives and liberties and how far they're willing to allow the Bully Boy to trash the United States.

When it was over, all Thomas Friedman whispered to me, "Well I should have been credited by name, but I realize that many people are intimidated by me. See, I am the New York Times. I like that kid."

Thomas Friedman headed for the buffett table and began inhaling taquitos.

"Oh my God!" the woman exclaimed. "I have the flat sheet that goes with the fitted one you're wearing!"

She introduced herself as Kat and drug me over to the stereo where we went through the CDs wondering what to listen to next.

Looking over, I saw Thomas Friedman standing by himself. Grinning as he chowed down on quesadillas.
I knew this would somehow all be rewritten in his mind. And in his column, I'm sure. Suddenly he will have been the center of attention. With each and everyone at the party stopping him to inform him of how much they enjoy hi scolumn. Pulling out clipped copies of his column to read the inspiration part that turned their lives around him.

Then I thought, "You know Betinna, it's not all about him. Find another topic."

Which I did. I ended up having a blast.

Later in the apartment, Thomas Friedman was still floating from being "mentioned." That lasted about thirty minutes before he started moaning and gasping that he was having an asthma attack.

"I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" he kept screaming.

"Thomas Friedman, you are not having an asthama attack," I said trying to remain patient and calm.

He would not listen. He kept clutching his throat and finally called Nicky K who came over right awy much to the displeasure, I'm sure, of Mrs. K.

Bursting into the bedroom after I opened the front door, Nicky K gasped. I do not think he had ever seen Thomas Friedman when we were in the middle of playing Iraqi invasion and Thomas Friedman was all tricked out in Judy Miller garb.

Thomas Friedman had the wig on. He had the the drab, brown, dress on that looks ridiculous when Judy Miller wears it (is she going trick or treating as a Brownie?) and with the bright red scarf tied around Thomas Friedman's neck. Tied tightly around Thomas Friedman's neck.

That is, in fact, why he couldn't breathe.

After Nicky K got over his shock and stopped giggling, he walked over to Thomas Friedman, asked, "Do I call you Judy or Thomas?", and untied the scarf.

Inhaling deeply, Thomas Friedman repeatedly thanked Nicky K for saving his life, "man."

Did I detect a sense of superiority in Nicky K? I think I did.

Today, Nicky K came by with more boxes of chocolate covered cherries and Thomas Friedman recieved him warmly, wearing his shorty robe, natch.

Thomas Friedman can have guests, but I cannot even speak on the phone. I met a delightful guest at the party, Folding Star. Thomas Friedman was impressed as he eavesdropped on our book conversation. But then Thomas Friedman had to butt in and mention his own book.

"I really haven't read it," said Folding Star. "Who wrote it?"

Thomas Freidman immediately went froze Folding Star out for the rest of the party. And now, everytime that Folding Star calls, Thomas Friedman says I am not home.

Thomas Friedman has been eating his chocolate covered cherries, wearing his shorty robe and crashed out on the couch all day. Between commercials during The Young & the Restless, All My Children and Passions, he has been yelling out "Prune me!" or "More Doritos! Cool Ranch!"

Even with the constant stuffing of his mouth, he has found time to mutter. He has muttered things such as not only should GM shut down and be replaced with Toyota but that other companies should go out of business as well. For instance, Krispy Kreme doughnuts which Thomas Friedman feels is a "little too skimpy on the sugar." And Hanes' underwear which Thomas Friedman feels is using cheap materials which is resulting in his pairs splitting when he bends over.

If you ask me, the problen is not the material, the problem is that he spends all his time on that couch, in his shorty robe, eating candy, cheese and crackers, Cool Ranch Doritos and drinking, always, his Mountain Dew.

I am dreading his column in two days. I wonder who there is left to attack? And as it is, he is already being accosted on the street on those rare times he goes out by practically everyone.
If we are all lucky, he will just write a column about how he is "down" with the kids, about how he is a "guru" and "philosopher-king" (two phrases he has been tossing around lately) to the youth of America.