Hornswaggler | The culture, the humor, a bit of the sports, not so much the politics, and the workplace distraction

Hornswaggle is an alternate spelling of hornswoggle, an archaic word that means to bamboozle or hoodwink. I take my pronunciation from the late Harvey Korman in "Blazing Saddles" --

"I want rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, conmen, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers and Methodists!"

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Checking ... Yep, Thomas Friedman's screws are still loose

In a column last week, New York Times Op-Ed funnyman Thomas Friedman dropped another one of his trademark fantasies.

But first, he made an admission.

"There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base ...

"I admit, I'm a little slow. Because I tried to think about something as deadly serious as Iraq, and the post-Sept. 11 world, in a nonpartisan fashion ... I assumed the Bush officials were doing the same."

What part of objective reality gave you the idea that the Bush administration was going about their business in Iraq in a nonpartisan fashion, with their focus on problem-solving, not political opprotunism, Thomas?

After he came clean, Friedman came up with a doozy:

"Why, in the face of the Abu Ghraib prison travesty, wouldn't the administration make some uniquely American gesture? Because these folks have no clue how to export hope. They would never think of saying, 'Let's close this prison immediately and reopen it in a month as hte Abu Ghraib Technical College for Computer Training - with all the equipment donated by Dell, HP, and Microsoft.'"

Reading that piece of fantasy, my mind drifted to "The Simpsons," as it often does, in this case the Flaming Moe's episode, in which Homer says to Marge:

"Oh, look at me! I'm making people happy! I'm the Magical Man from Happy-Land, in a gumdrop house on Lollipop Lane!"

I mean, are you kidding me?

Yes, let's turn Abu Ghraib into a wonderful technical college in one month. Sure, we still haven't managed to get the electricity working or prevent the sewage from overflowing or even figured out how to keep the members of the Iraqi Government Council from being blown up.

Nor have we figured out that Iraqis have a bad habit of firing semiautomatic weapons into the sky during moments of celebration and that, when U.S. pilots see bullets in the air, they shouldn't automatically unload on the area with every weapon they've got, because they might accidentally kill forty people, including 10 women and 15 children, at a wedding.

I'm sure that Abu Ghraib Techical College wouldn't be destroyed by a suicide bomber within the space of two weeks.

Friedman's Greatest Hits

I'm reminded of other famous blunders by Friedman that I've been stockpiling for when I write, "The Peculiar Case of Thomas Friedman."

How about this one, December of '03, when Friedman, witnessing an anti-war rally in London, was flabbergasted by the fact that no one in the crowd was carrying a sign that referenced a terrorist attack earlier that day on the British consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

"Yet nowhere could I find a single sign in London reading, 'Osama, How Many Innocents Did You Kill Today?' or 'Baathists - Hands off the U.N. and the Red Cross in Iraq.'"

Picketing terrorists. That's a brilliant frickin' idea. I'm sure Osama would snap to attention at his cave on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and instantly reconsider his entire philosophy.

You don't picket terrorists, you fool. That's the whole point of terrorism. Terrorists kind of circumvent the whole "democracy" and "civil disobedience" thing.

Besides which, terrorists send the message to you. Not the other way around. Terrorists stop terrorizing when you have apprehended or killed them. Or, in the very long term, when you've come as close as is possible to eradicating the conditions (mostly poverty) that cause them to arise.

Later in the same article, Friedman writes: " ... this war is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan."

Then, get this: "I don't know if we can pull this off. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad."

Ol' Tom Friedman had a crackpipe, ee-eye-ee-eye-oh!
And in that crackpipe he had a lot of crack, ee-eye-ee-eye-oh!
With a puff puff, here!
And a type type, there!
Here a puff, there a type, it's fit to print, thanks crackpipe!
Ol' Tom Friedman smokes a lotta crack, ee-eye-ee-eye-oh!

The war in Iraq - a blend of blind ideology, revaunchism, greed and old school Real Politik - is "one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad"? It's geopolitical strategy, pure and simple, with a blend of religious quackery (Bush), single-minded zealotry (Cheney), pride in a foolish military philosophy (Rumsfeld), naivite (Rice et al). Well, that list goes on and on.

Here's another one. In writing an article on Feb. 1 critiquing the Bush administration for cutting taxes while occupying Iraq, Friedman throws in this disclaimer:

"Personally, I don't believe the Bush team will pay a long-term political price for its faith-based intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Too many Americans, including me, belive in their guts that removing Saddam was the right thing to do, even if the W.M.D. intel was wrong."

Why should Bush pay a politcal price, after all? Eight hundred U.S. soldiers dead in an unnecessary war sold to the public under false pretenses?

It's not as if one piece of evidence after another points to the fact that Bush lied to the American people about Iraq, about its weapons of mass destruction (about which right-minded people were skeptical in the first place), about its ties to Al Qaeda, about the threat Saddam posed and how much it would cost.

It's not as if it's abundantly clear by now that Iraq is a profound diversion from a successful prosecution of a war on Al Qaeda and like-minded terrorists.

Next week, Friedman will explain how, because impoverished rice farmers in Malaysia can pull worms out of their legs with metal, as opposed to wooden, instruments, globalization is all good all the time.

.: posted by hornswaggler 3:10 PM

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