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Tremendous Friedman column: We used to try harder and do better

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Jersey_Guy, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. Jersey_Guy

    Jersey_Guy Active Member

    Pretty much a long-overdue call-to-arms about the economic crisis we're facing.

    It asks a very good, very non-partisan question: Why can't we do better than this? Why can't we react the way we did to Sputnik? Why do we seem so incapable of serious response to serious problems right now.

    The key graphs:

  2. It was an especially good column when contrasted with his red-headed staffmate's latest snarky, sneering Hillary Clinton column.

    Couple other notes:

    1. This wasn't the only piece in the NYT today that touched on this. There was another piece, which I think was in "Week in Review," but may have been in the A section, comparing McCain's $300 million battery prize, supposed to ignite the same entrepreunerial spirit that led Lindbergh across the Atlantic, with Obama's government-subsidized ethanol research plans (as an aside, he may live to regret marrying himself to ethanol in order to capture Iowa).

    2. Why do NYT columnists insist on always quoting columnists from other news sources? Friedman quotes the WSJ in this passage. It seems, to use another example, that I can't get through three NYT columns without seeing a reference to The New Republic. I'm sure there's a method to the madness, and if it's citing original reporting, it's understandable. But to just quote a WSJ columnist saying the same thing Friedman is writing? You would think a writer as accomplished as Friedman would be confident enough in his own voice not to have to resort to that.
  3. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Hit the nail on the head.

    If you don't think government will work, then what the hell do you expect to happen?
  4. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    It's a damn good question, and I hope Thomas Friedman will forgive me when I remind him that a big part of the problem is that we have columnists like Thomas Friedman hopping in bed with completely bankrupt ideologies like neo-conservatism.

    And please, before anyone jumps in on that, I didn't say neo-conservatism was the problem, necessarily. But without getting into any of the particulars, the ability to buy respectability for what should be a fringe ideology -- and then have people like Friedman go along -- is a problem, regardless of your side of the fence.

    So, yeah, it's nice to see Friedman realizing that certain elements of both sides are interested in having things NOT work.

    Just wish he would have seen it a lot fucking earlier.
  5. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Good point, Zeke. It's about time Tommy boy sees the light.
  6. Jersey_Guy

    Jersey_Guy Active Member

    Well, I can be as partisan as they come, but I have a hard time seeing this as a partisan issue, or one in which neo-conservatism has a big hand.

    You'd probably have to go back to Reagan's arms buildup to break the Soviet Union to find a truly grand, ambitious plan put forward by an American president and pushed through congress (whether you agreed with it or not is another story, and not one we probably need debated here).

    Whether it was first Clinton, and then Bush, totally blowing it on Al Qaeda, our inability to address social security, the runaway deficit spending of the last eight years, or our ridiculous adventure in Iraq, both sides have failed us miserably.
  7. pallister

    pallister Guest

    When it comes to Congress, it doesn't try harder because it doesn't have to. Members on both sides of the aisle have figured out how to get elected and retain power without doing anything. Of course, a lot of the blame for that becoming the norm lies with an electorate that has become so fat, happy and self-absorbed in the last few decades that it doesn't really give a shit either.
  8. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    I tried to make clear, I wasn't placing the onus on neo-conservatism in this context, though I certainly think they bear more than their share of the blame.

    Rather, I'm saying one of the top columnists at the top paper in the country being consistently seduced by fringe ideologies du jour -- before his adventure with the neo-cons, the uber-capitalists had Tom convinced that the US was going to conquer the world without a shot by selling everyone Big Macs -- is a big part of the problem.

    It's well and good for Tom to point out the problems with government.

    So long as someone points out the problems with Tom.

    And pallister pretty much nails it. In our system, blaming the government is blaming ourselves. We elect these people. We don't vote, which allows those who do vote more power than they should have. It's our fault.
  9. Jersey_Guy

    Jersey_Guy Active Member

    I know the history Zeke, and I don't disagree with you about Friedman per se.

    I guess what I was trying to get across is that, despite his failings on the Iraq/neocon issue, I think Friedman clearly sees the problem here, and neither side is anywhere near above blame.
  10. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    We're failing as a country now because those who are failing themselves have been allowed to become such a huge political constituency of one of the two parties that sits at the controls.

    People who can't even run their own lives now have way too much power as an interest group. That's not the entire problem, but it certainly is a big part of the problem. Our culture and our government are now both aimed to please the lowest common denominator.
  11. Jersey_Guy

    Jersey_Guy Active Member

    Tony, that theory might fly if perhaps the Republican party had proposed important projects akin to the Marshall Plan or Apollo Poject, etc., and been stymied by an intransigent opposition with much different goals.

    Instead, they've both done nothing but pile on the pork and get re-elected.

    It's not a Democrat or Republican problem. It's a problem with both of them and their absolutely uninspired, self-indulgent "leadership".
  12. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    One reason I can think, to use a sports term, is that there is a lack of urgency in this country. Friedman cites Sputnik. Hell, we had to come together out of sheer fear that the Soviet Union was going to conquer us. That was a unifying factor.

    Bush had a grand plan for unifying us against terrorism. Problem is, he started acting like Joe McCarthy instead of Franklin Roosevelt, and made that little mistake called Iraq.

    What there needs to be is considerable political activism that doesn't involved the entrenched interests. Not that he's the best example, but look at what Jesse Ventura did in 1998. He managed, for a brief time, to shake up the two-party rule. There needs to be more of that.
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