Showing posts sorted by relevance for query tom friedman. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query tom friedman. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tom Terrific

Culture Change | Tom Friedman has convinced a vast swath of otherwise intelligent and well-educated Americans that he's a visionary. I propose this is so because he channels the thought patterns and emotional currents at the core of American conventional wisdom: economic growth and unrestrained technological progress are the natural state of the world -- with the stipulation that America must, naturally, lead the way. Friedman's greatest skill is catchy -- and often oddly phrased -- simplifications promoting our collective identity as the Exceptional Nation. Recently he, as we say in another context about petroleum, reached peak Friedman.

Before getting to that I note that Friedman's modus operandi is to tirelessly see “opportunity” in crisis. He ridicules those who see threats as lacking insight, entrepreneurial spirit, and innovative thinking. To do this, Friedman operates much like the fifties cartoon character Tom Terrific, who possesses a magical thinking cap that transports him out of any jam in which he finds himself. For example, Friedman is waiting for an entrepreneur in a garage to invent the next energy platform -- who cares about finite fossil fuels when the next Steve Jobs is all we really need? In fact, he recently suggested that Jobs -- because he’s invented the iPod -- could rescue the Big-Three automakers. It's that simple; take it from Tom Terrific.

Much to Friedman's displeasure, however, financial, economic, and ecological realities (the latter of which he appears to be totally unaware) are undermining his belief that nature can be dominated by human ingenuity. These intertwined crises will, I suspect, elicit all manner of Tom Terrific articles from Friedman in the coming months; this will indicate, for an undetermined time, the undulating plateau of peak Friedman.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Irresponsibility of Thomas Friedman

I'm not a big fan of Tom Friedman. Evidently, Tikkun is fed up with this superfluous windbag too.

Tikkun | In the introduction to his 2002 book that reprinted many of his columns on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11), Friedman boasts that he has “total editorial freedom to take whatever stance I want on an issue,” that no one but the copy editor sees his column before it is published, and that the publisher of the Times has never commented on anything he has written. “I am completely home alone,” he writes in his preface.

It shows. In his columns on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, especially in the first three or four years after Camp David, Friedman utilized this complete freedom from criticism and accountability (1) to make arguments, statements, and charges that had been repeatedly demonstrated to be factually wrong; (2) to make a number of assertions for which there was no evidence, as if they were so self-evident that no evidence was required; (3) to oversimplify and even, on occasion, vulgarize the issues; and (4) on several occasions to indulge in emotional diatribes that managed to be simultaneously unpersuasive and self-contradictory.

At least on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then, Friedman’s unbounded self-confidence in his own views is an unearned one, for he has not been seriously interested in learning in depth about the events in recent years, or in correcting his many errors or poorly-grounded arguments as new information and analyses became available. As a result, Friedman’s discussions of the breakdown of the peace process at Camp David and after, as well as his analyses of the causes of the Palestinian intifada, are neither intellectually respectable nor, given his great influence, morally responsible.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

congress, israel, and u.s. national security

CounterPunch | The Israeli “economic miracle” and technological innovations have spawned articles and a best-selling book in recent months. The country’s average GDP growth rate has exceeded the average rate of most western countries over the past five years. Israel provides universal health insurance, unlike the situation in the U.S., which raises the question of who should be aiding whom?

Keep in mind, the U.S. economy is mired in a recession, with large rates of growing poverty, unemployment, consumer debt and state and federal deficits. In some states, public schools are shutting, public health services are being slashed, and universities are increasing tuition while also cutting programs. Even state government buildings are being sold off.

Under U.S. law, military sales to Israel cannot be used for offensive purposes, only for “legitimate self-defense.” Nonetheless, there have been numerous violations of the Arms Export Control Act by Israel. Even the indifferent State Department has found, from time to time, that munitions such as cluster bombs were “likely violations.”

Violations would lead to a cut-off in aid but with the completely pro-Israel climate in Washington, the White House has never allowed such findings to be definitive.

The same indifference applies to violations of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act that prohibits aid to countries engaging in consistent international human rights violations. These include the occupation, colonization, blockades and military assaults on civilians in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, regularly documented by the highly regarded Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as well as by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu visits President Barack Obama after the recent Israeli announcement of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem made while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting that country.

The affront infuriated New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, who wrote that Mr. Biden should have packed his bags and flown away leaving behind a scribbled note saying “You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality.”

Friedman, a former Times Middle East correspondent, concluded his rebuke by writing: “Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad are as genuine and serious about working toward a solution as any Israel can hope to find.”

But until a few days ago, the U.S. government had no levers over the Israeli government. Cutting off aid isn’t even whispered in the halls of Congress. Raising the issue would further galvanize Israel’s allies, including AIPAC.

The only lever left for the U.S. suddenly erupted into the public media a few days ago. General David Petraeus told the Senate that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has foreign policy and national security ramifications for the United States.

He said that “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the Area of Responsibility…Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda and other military groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

A few days earlier, Vice President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel that “what you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

What Obama’s people are publically starting to say is that regional peace is about U.S. vital interests in that large part of the Middle East and, ultimately, the safety of American soldiers and personnel.

As one retired diplomat commented “This could be a game-changer.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Israel Interferes in U.S. Politics All the Time - Strangely It's Never News....,


mondoweiss |  Israel tried to interfere in that 2012 election, as Chris Matthews sensibly reminded his audience recently: Benjamin Netanyahu tried to help Mitt Romney beat Obama. Sheldon Adelson held a fundraiser in Jerusalem for Romney.

Netanyahu didn’t stop there. After Romney lost, Netanyahu came to Congress to tell the Congress to reject President Obama’s nuclear deal. That was an unprecedented interference of a foreign leader in our policy-making, enabled by the Israel lobby; but there were never any investigations about that. Subsequently Chuck Schumer said he was torn between a Jewish interest and the American interest, before voting against the president, and he paid no political/reputational price for it; while President Obama said that it would be an “abrogation” of his constitutional duty if he considered Israel’s interest ahead of the U.S.; for which Obama was called an anti-semite.
Throughout those negotiations, Obama could never address the fact that Israel has nukes. This lie is honored by the press, in a way that it would never honor Trump’s lies. And the manner in which Israel got nukes, including thefts from an American company with the complicity of the White House, is only investigated by peripheral figures.
The Israeli interference in our politics is the conspiracy in plain sight that no one in the media talks about because they’re too implicated themselves. The two top executives at the largest media company, Comcast, are pro-Israel; one of them, David Cohen, raised money for the Israeli army. Netanyahu’s speeches to Congress were written by Gary Ginsberg, an executive at another media company, Time Warner, but hey, that’s not an issue. Four New York Times reporters have had children serve in the Israeli army. One of them is columnist David Brooks, who says that he gets gooey-eyed when he visits Israel. He is one of several Zionists with columns at the Times. Tom Friedman justified the Iraq War because suicide bombers were going into Tel Aviv pizza parlors. (Huh?) Yesterday Martin Indyk said on National Public Radio that Jared Kushner’s strong Jewish background was an asset for his being a Middle East mediator, a job that Aaron David Miller, who also has a strong Jewish background, defined as being Israel’s lawyer. Indyk, himself a mediator, started a pro-Israel thinktank with Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who was Clinton’s biggest funder and who lately smeared Keith Ellison at a giant gathering at Brookings, which he also helps fund, as “clearly an anti-semite” and “anti-Israel;” and Jake Tapper of CNN moved on to the next question, presumably because smearing a public official in that manner is not news.

Friday, April 10, 2015

P5 +1 fitna facilitate a fair fight on a level playing field for control of the middle-east...,


vox |  The core of the disagreement between Obama and his critics is over the nature of the Iranian regime. Obama sees an Iranian government that's hostile now, but one that can potentially be reasoned with on specific issues if given the right incentives. "Iran may change. If it doesn’t, our deterrence capabilities, our military superiority stays in place," he told Tom Friedman on Sunday. The deal is a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table."

The deal's most vocal critics see Iran differently. They see it as essentially malevolent; a government that's fundamentally hostile to the United States and Israel by virtue of its very identity as a theocratic Islamist state. This regime will game any compromise to its advantage, pursuing a nuclear capability and violent foreign policy so long as it's able.

This isn't a fringe position. You hear it from rank-and-file Republicans on the Hill as well as presidential candidate Ted Cruz and likely presidential candidate Marco Rubio. Netanyahu will tell it to anyone who listens.

If you see Iran in this light, then there's only one real alternative: crush the Iranians. Cotton has argued American policy in Iran should be "regime change." Netanyahu's vision of a "better deal" depends on Iran being so beaten down by sanctions that it's essentially willing to give up everything to see them relaxed.

Obama thinks this is all pie-in-the-sky fantasizing. His view, laid out very clearly at a Thursday press conference, is that war is the only actual alternative to his deal that could prevent Iran from going nuclear.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

12 investment opportunities before the 'Collapse of Eaarth'


Video - SurvivalAcres Collapse of Civilization.

MarketWatch | Bill McKibben, an environmental economist, recently published "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet." Tough? Worse. Earth is dead.

McKibben's vision for the new Eaarth we created is bleak. No upbeat high-tech hope for a "green revolution" as in Tom Friedman's "Hot, Flat & Crowded." Remember, two decades ago McKibben's "The End of Nature" was one of the first books warning of global warming, climate change, a dying planet. His new Eaarth is a funeral dirge. In Foreign Policy magazine last year, McKibben summarized his relentless message:

"Act now, we're told, if we want to save the planet from a climate catastrophe. Trouble is, it might be too late. The science is settled, and the damage has already begun. The only question now is whether we will stop playing political games and embrace the few imperfect options we have left."

Stop the political games? Never. Remember Kyoto and Copenhagen defeats? Recent coal mine disasters? The BP-Gulf oil catastrophe? And when the long-awaited 1,000-page Kerry-Lieberman climate bill finally surfaced last week, it was quickly blasted as D.O.A., a "gift to polluters." Politicians love games.

In the end, 'Eaarth itself will force us to bend to new rules'

The truth is politicians will never stop in time. The planet really is dying, Eaarth is on an irreversible self-destruct path. Washington will not "stop playing political games." They cannot: There are too many "special interests" fighting for their "fair" share of the federal government's $1.7 trillion budget jackpot ... too many stockholders in publicly-traded corporations demanding bull-market returns and perpetual economic growth ... and too many lobbyists who make enormous short-term payoffs by ignoring the long-term warnings of McKibben and others.

After quoting a 2003 Pentagon report -- "as the planet's carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies would emerge" -- McKibben offers three sane solutions: Cut carbon emissions, reduce our obsession with economic growth and return to sustainable local farming. But while agreeing in his New York Times review, even advocate Paul Greenberg sees little chance of McKibben's ideas changing opinions or reversing the destiny of Eaarth:

"In the absence of some overarching authority, a kind of ecologically minded Lenin," McKibben's solutions "will remain hipster lifestyle choices rather than global game changers." But eventually, says Greenberg, "Eaarth itself will be that ecological Lenin, a harsh environmental dictator that will force us to bend to new rules."

Yes, the new rules will be forced on self-interested politicians ... forced on Wall Street's bonus-obsessed CEOs and short-term high-frequency traders ... forced on Main Street's 95 million investors. Fist tap Arnach.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

the great disruption

Australian Broadcast Corp | First of all let's just think about the shock that's coming. Now this is a giant global Ponzi scheme, right? We are paying out our capital as dividends, while we are saying to our children, Thank you for your investment, right? We're going to take it now and leave you the poorer. That's what a Ponzi scheme is, it's about taking your capital and paying it out, right? Investors' money being used to give the delusion of growth, delusion of success, and then they collapse. That's what's going to happen to us if we keep on going. So what is going to happen is that we're going to bump up against the limits, back to our 1.2 size economy in a 1.0 sized earth, up against the limits you bounce off and you come back. Any system does this. Whether it's bacteria in a petrie dish, whether it's a rainforest, whether it's a global economy, a system up against the edges of its limits go bang and bounces back, and bang and bounces back. But it only has a number of ways it can go. First of all it can break down to a simpler system, to a simpler organism, which was James Lovelock's view, we'll end up with a couple of hundred million people in small groups in a much simpler society. It can evolve into a more complex system which can exist in that world, or it can collapse. Right?

Now obviously there's only one of those we'd like to do and today's about what we're going to do about the future, so I think we should think about evolving as part of that process. But all the evidence in history is we don't evolve until we have the crash. All the evidence of history is that we don't respond until we have a crisis and we soon have the global financial crisis and a whole range of different other examples of World War II and appeasement and so on. We'll respond when the crisis hits, so the very important issue is when the crisis hits. New York Times' Tom Friedman referred to this moment recently as 'When Mother Nature and Father Greed hit the wall at once'. Lovely quote. 'When Mother Nature and Father Greed hit the wall at once'. Right? Referring to the great disruption which is what I refer to as being this time when we are forced to change because the system stops working for us and therefore we have no choice but to adapt and to respond.

Monday, January 05, 2009

a silk purse that only a neocon could love...,

NYTimes | But Israel — assuming it succeeds — is doing the United States a favor by taking on Hamas now.

The huge challenge for the Obama administration is going to be Iran. If Israel had yielded to Hamas and refrained from using force to stop terror attacks, it would have been a victory for Iran. If Israel were now to withdraw under pressure without accomplishing the objectives of severely weakening Hamas and preventing the reconstitution of a terror-exporting state in Gaza, it would be a triumph for Iran. In either case, the Iranian regime would be emboldened, and less susceptible to the pressure from the Obama administration to stop its nuclear program.

But a defeat of Hamas in Gaza — following on the heels of our success in Iraq — would be a real setback for Iran. It would make it easier to assemble regional and international coalitions to pressure Iran. It might positively affect the Iranian elections in June. It might make the Iranian regime more amenable to dealing.

With respect to Iran, Obama may well face — as the Israeli government did with Hamas — a moment when the use of force seems to be the only responsible option. But Israel’s willingness to fight makes it more possible that the United States may not have to.
William Kristol is one of a handful of commentators so awful and discredited that he makes Tom Friedman look like a sage by comparison. That these pontificating pustules continue to enjoy bully pulpits is testimony to the extent to which elite management of day-to-day narrative operations is on the ropes. What do you have to do, bite somebody and get caught before your pundit credentials get revoked nowadays?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

fixing old markets with new markets the origins and practice of neoliberalism...,


nakedcapitalism | NT: Your new book, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste, is not the first work you have produced that discusses Neoliberalism. In the Postscript to the book you edited entitled “The Road from Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective” you state that:
[O]ur own guiding heuristic has been that Neoliberalism has not existed in the past as a settled or fixed state, but is better understood as a transnational movement requiring time and substantial effort in order to attain the modicum of coherence and power it has achieved today. It was not a conspiracy; rather, it was an intricately structured long-term philosophical and political project, or in our terminology, a “thought collective”.
Given this context, could you explain what the salient features of Neoliberalism are? In particular it would be helpful if you explained about why “traditional” approaches to intellectual history are inadequate for understanding Neoliberalism.

PM: Standard history of economics has been mired in the primacy of the individual author/intellectual for quite some time now. There, one tends to become attached to some particular intellectual hero, reads everything they wrote, and hence seeks to channel ‘their’ ideas to a general audience. Maybe one consults a few of their allies or opponents to add a dash of ‘context’. This, perhaps inadvertently, has resulted in deep misunderstanding of how economics has developed over the last century or more.

Ideas generally don’t incubate like that. Traditions in the history and sociology of science [my current disciplinary home] have developed a number of methods and devices in order to highlight the elaborate social character of intellectual disciplines, and display the complex trajectories of validation of knowledge. The landmarks there are many, but the one I lean upon in Never Let a Serious Crisis go to Waste is the concept of a ‘thought collective’ that dates back to the work of Ludwik Fleck.*
Whatever one thinks of the specifics, that framework has permitted me to write a history of Neoliberalism which comes to terms with some of its more slippery aspects. In the first instance, it nurtures appreciation for the fact that Neoliberalism is both a set of philosophical doctrines – and not, as some would have it, a narrow few abstract propositions in economics—and a flexible ongoing political project. The doctrines and the details of the project change through time, as do the roster of protagonists, but still maintain a coherence and stability that justifies treating the movement as an historical collective. Next, it insists that Neoliberalism cannot be reduced to the writings of the few standout neoliberals that readers of this blog may have heard of – Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, Gary Becker – primarily because their individual tenets conflict, some with each other, and some with some other less famous comrades. Fleck points us towards the fact that thought collectives are held together, in part, by formal social structures; in the case of the Neoliberals, it started out as the Mont Pèlerin Society [MPS] in 1947, but by the 1980s it was extended to a connected ring of think tanks around the world, from the Institute for Economic Affairs to the American Enterprise Institute to Heritage and Cato to the Atlas Foundation and beyond. As early as 1956, the Volker Fund maintained a list of 1,841 affiliated individuals; the corresponding number easily exceeds the tens of thousands today. Clearly the thought collective harbors strong impressions of who is in and who is out.

Perhaps more importantly, the ‘thought collective’ approach has helped me grapple with one of the most nettlesome aspects of Neoliberalism: How can one write an intellectual history of a bunch of anti-intellectual intellectuals? Some readers may have encountered Hayek’s sneers about those whom he dubs ‘second-hand dealers in ideas’; but that is just symptomatic of a more general stance towards knowledge which sets the Neoliberals apart from almost every other thought collective in recent history. As I explain in Chapter 2, the MPS became a society of ‘rationalists’ who ended up promoting ignorance as a virtue for the larger population. Others have also documented this straddle in their think tank perimeter, such as Tom Medvetz in his Think Tanks in America. It seems we are not in Kansas anymore (apologies to Tom Frank).

Thus, to write a history of Neoliberalism in the current crisis, Fleck counsels one must connect their various epistemic attitudes to the content of their doctrines. In the case of modern Neoliberalism, this has been made manifest in their shared conviction that The Market knows more than any human being, however wise or well-schooled. Planning is doomed; socialism is a pipe dream. The political project of Neoliberalism is not laissez-faire; rather, it is to use state power to get the populace to prostrate themselves before the only dependable source of Truth and Wisdom in human civilization—viz., something they call “The Market”. The more discombobulated the average citizen can be rendered, the quicker they will get with the program