Monday, May 31, 2010

Virginia Heffernan Falls Off the Wagon

Note: The weather this past Memorial Day weekend was just too lovely to sequester myself indoors and work myself into a lather over Tommy's latest. So I gave myself a break . . . by directing my scorn at another of the Times nauseating narcissists, Virginia Heffernan.

Virginia Heffernan wants you to know that she has a lot of friends:

November 25, 2007: "A friend of mine teaches 10th-grade English. Every time I see her she’s underlining some doomy masterpiece like “Heart of Darkness” or “The Grapes of Wrath.”

December 2, 2007: "A friend of mine, Nanne Dekking, recently sold an illustrious painting for an august gallery."

February 3, 2008: "But on a fateful day in 1979, my friend Megan and I met some sysprogs: Dartmouth’s student system programmers, surprisingly cute hippie guys who developed the complex time-sharing system"

February 17, 2008: "My friend was recovering from surgery. The tumor was entirely benign. “The doctor says it’s just a dermoid cyst,” she said. A what? We paused, as realization dawned. We had it: our search term. . . . My friend recalled a scene in “Ulysses,” in which Leopold Bloom diverts himself with a 17th-century manual filled with weird obstetrical images."

March 30, 2008: "A friend’s father hoarded lead Civil War soldiers even though he was English. . . . A friend of mine collects 19th-century English dishes, with a specialty in patterns by Cauldon or Minton."

July 6, 2008: "My friend A., for example, passed hours at a boring reality-TV job staring at “bear thumbs”: heavy, bearded, naked men rendered at thumbnail — postage-stamp — size."

July 13, 2008: "I decide to become Coldplay’s friend."

August 3, 2008: "In the spring of 2006, an e-mail message arrived from Shizu Yuasa, a Japanese friend . . . A French friend, Sylvain Bourmeau, had put me up to this.

August 29, 2008: "Someone in my neighborhood died violently earlier this month. He was the married father of two children. A friend told me the police found him stabbed in his apartment."

October 10, 2008: "People didn’t always turn to FreshDirect for all this. When the company started delivering in Brooklyn, the selling point was the convenience. My friend Lorraine told me it was a godsend. . . . The site’s interface was eventually jiggered to allow for what my friend Mike once (in an attempt to coin a “Sniglet”-style neologism) called “pleniplessence”: paralysis induced by the sight of how many kinds of detergent, say, exist on the shelves of the grocery store."

December 19, 2008: "A friend of mine won’t look at Garance Doré because he says it fills him with longing he can’t bear."

February 10, 2009: My friend Lizzie, who is an actual poet, is a terrific, prolific updater . . . Another friend, Deborah, who is also a writer, reported (also on Facebook) that she sees the form teetering between narrative and poetry.

March 6, 2009: My friend Josh despises bad-beat stories.

April 16, 2009: "“Connectivity is poverty” was how a friend of mine summarized Sterling’s bold theme."

If you're keeping count, that's 17 friends (not including Coldplay) Virginia managed to work into her once-a-week column in about 17 months. That Virginia sure has a lot of friends! Although it does seem a bit odd that they rarely have any identifiable features or last names (except the foreigners who have made-up-sounding names like Sylvain Bourmeauor and seem to exist in V-Heff's columns solely to remind us how worldly she is).

But let's assume all of Virginia's "friends" not only exist, but are actually -- shudder -- friends with her. One reference a month is still particularly remarkable when you consider that her columns consist of her going to some website and writing a few paragraphs about it. She doesn't interview the websites' creators or consult experts or write about anyone's opinion but her own. The only time you'll hear another voice in her column is when she writes about one of her friends, who all sound as remarkably self-satisfied and in love with their own cleverness as she does. (This is actually not so different than Tom Friedman, who only likes to quote experts who talk like he does, tortured metaphors and all. And you didn't think I'd be able to work him in this post.)

Which brings me to Virginia's August 26, 2009 column, "Facebook Exodus" in which she declared, "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. Facebook, the online social grid, could not command loyalty forever. If you ask around, as I did, you’ll find quitters." V-Heff is putting on her reporter's cap and asking around. Wow. I wonder who she asked.
  • "My friend Alex joined four years ago at the suggestion of “the coolest guy on the planet,” she told me in an e-mail message."
  • "Another friend, who didn’t want his name used, found that Facebook undermined his whole notion of online friendship." (Note: It didn't undermine his notion of friendship, but of "online friendship". Virginia Heffernan collects douchebag friends like some people collect 19th-century English dishes, with a specialty in patterns by Cauldon or Minton.)
  • “'I primarily left Facebook because I was wasting so much time on it,' my friend Caroline Harting told me by e-mail."
We're all interested in our friends' coming and goings. But only in the insular, my-friends'-navels-are-almost-as-interesting-as-my-own world of Virginia Heffernan are the actions of three friends a trend that says something about a website, which Heffernan herself notes, drew 88 million unique visitors the month before. 88 million visitors - who gives a shit if three of Virginia's friends no longer peruse Facebook while waiting for their Fresh Direct deliveries? And more to the point: Why does the Times Magazine publish the status updates of Heffernan and her obnoxious friends every week?

These are the type of questions that keep me up at night (seriously; I need help). And as I tossed and turned that fateful August night, I thought, maybe I could use my nascent Twitter account to put an end to Virginia's friend rampage. So I tweeted at her: "@page88 Do you ever interview anyone who's not a member of your clique?"

And something miraculous happened. She stopped. Cold turkey. For the next nine months, her column was friend-free. Apparently, being humiliated in front of my 7 Twitter followers made something inside her snap. OK, the Facebook column was so laughable that's it likely others made fun of her, too. But since I don't know if they did (my V-Heff obsession is nowhere near my Friedman obsession - I don't read what others say about her), I'm taking the credit.

And I give Virginia some credit, too. It must have been terribly difficult to write her take on Jersey Shore without informing us that, "A friend of mine, a poet, confessed over lunch that he found one of the cast members so captivating that he had to taken to pressing on his eyeballs every time she appeared on screen in order to create his own J-Woww kaleidoscope."

Which is why it was so sad to open up this Sunday's Magazine and read this:

A friend of mine tells me that he can find any TV image sexy, any image at all, so long as it’s . . . scrambled. He is aroused by sets of shapes and colors made staticky. “Scramble a broadcast of a Senate hearing, and I’ll find it erotic,” he says, explaining that when he was an adolescent, the signal for porn channels came through mixed up on the family TV.
I could tweet again, but I'm worried it won't do any good this time. When someone falls off the wagon, they don't need to here from their online stalkers -- they need to hear from their friends!

So, yes, I'm talking to you, woman with the dermoid cyst; and Mike, who coined that delightful sniglet, “pleniplessence”; and especially that guy who won’t look at Garance Doré because he says it fills him with longing he can’t bear: V-Heff needs your help. She's dropping F-bombs on the pages of the New York Times again. Let's call Nanne Deking and Shizu Yuasa and have an intervention! Isn't that what friends are for?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

As Ugly as It Gets

When I first read Tommy's latest, "As Ugly as It Gets," I thought, "What an apt title." After all, it's got it all: Saber-rattling against Iran based on discredited and exaggerated estimates of Iran's nuclear capabilities (more here); imperial arrogance where Tommy lectures Brazil and Turkey for negotiating with Ahmadinejad with nary a peep about how his own country coddles dictators and human rights abusers around the world and, of course, has a bit of a human rights problem of its own; and complete ignorance (he contrasts Iran with Colombia, which he calls "one of the great democratic success stories " -- more on this front here)." And then there was this:
I confess that when I first saw the May 17 picture of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, joining his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with raised arms — after their signing of a putative deal to defuse the crisis over Iran’s nuclear weapons program — all I could think of was: Is there anything uglier than watching democrats sell out other democrats to a Holocaust-denying, vote-stealing Iranian thug just to tweak the U.S. and show that they, too, can play at the big power table?

No, that’s about as ugly as it gets.
I wouldn't be the first to point out (man, other people blog fast) that even if one accepts Tommy's extremely questionable version of events, there are many things that are uglier, like for instance, Tommy's infamous "Suck on This" Charlie Rose appearance. As Jonathan Weiler notes:
You need to watch the video to see the sneering, snarling bloodlust in Tom Friedman's withered soul to appreciate fully what ugliness really looks like, when a self-described democrat explains why it's OK to murder innocent civilians in a country that had nothing to do with the attack that Friedman says was the culminating justification for our invasion.
And speaking of ugly, there's the fact that Friedman seems completely unaware that he's doing it again -- taking neocon arguments and lies and putting a respectable, mustached "liberal" face on them, and in the process, pushing the argument for war a little further into the mainstream. Or that Green Tommy is being shunted aside for Beat-Your-Chest Tommy the same week that Friedman is taking a beating from conservatives for his "I wish I was China for a day" comments on Meet the Press.

But as I sat there sitting there thinking about everything about Tommy that is considerably uglier than the ugliest Tommy can imagine, my eye wandered across the editorial page and I was confronted by ugly in its purest, ugliest form: A whopper of an op-ed by John Yoo -- yes that John Yoo - on Elena Kagan.

Now John Yoo is either:
  1. The legal architect behind the Bush torture program; or
  2. One of the few low-level flunkies at the Bush DOJ who was willing to write memos giving legal cover for the torture that the Bush administration had already decided it was going to do; or
  3. At best: A really bad lawyer with poor judgement, which is what a Justice Department review ultimately decided in "exonerating" Yoo and not recommending further sanctions.
None of these, obviously, should qualify Yoo to evaluate Kagan's views on executive privilege in the newspaper of record. But that's America for you. First, you're infamous. Then you're famous. Then somehow you're an expert -- call it the Ollie North career trajectory. And then you get to write a 1,330 word smug, condescending op-ed (theTimes suggested length for op-ed submissions is 750) on the very editoral page that called you out a few months ago where you excoriate a candidate for the Supreme Court because you're worried she might not be so keen on torturing Muslims. (God let's hope so, but I'm not as sure as Dungeon Master Yoo).

That might really be as ugly as it gets.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tommy's Spare Tire

There's a part of me that wants to resist the temptation to go after Tommy's prose. For one, it's been done - and done really, really well. Also, I've been feeling a little uneasy since Meet the Press yesterday. There was something about his completely vacant look when they cut to him for reaction shots, not to mention his inability to communicate in non-Friedmanese, that made wonder if there wasn't something wrong with him besides being a racist, war-mongering, narcissist who doesn't have a fuckin' clue how toxic his ideas are. When does going after low-hanging fruit cross the line into making fun of someone's handicap? Minds much greater than mine have struggled to answer that question.

But more importantly, I don't want to imply that there is any sort of equivalency between the fact that Tom Friedman likes to pull metaphors out of his ass, contort them to the point where you no longer sure if that's still a turd in his hands, and build a column around said contorted turd (or a book around several) and the fact that Tom Friedman says things like this:
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?" You don't think, you know we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This. That Charlie is what this war is about. We could of hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. Could of hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.
But. If I'm going to have a Fire Tom Friedman blog and actually update it (and this is my fifth post in less than a week - look Mom, I have a blog!), I'm going to need some material. And Tommy's prose is the gift that keeps giving. So having gotten the obligatory disclaimer out of the way that I don't think murdering the English language is as bad as cheering on the murder of innocent Iraqis (boy, you're glad I cleared that up, aren't you?), onto Sunday's column!
The veteran global investor Mohamed El-Erian, who runs Pimco and has lived through many a financial crisis, recently issued a report describing the new, perilous state of today’s global economy. He described it like this: “The world is on a journey to an unstable destination, through unfamiliar territory, on an uneven road and, critically, having already used its spare tire.”

I like that image.
Of course you do, Tommy. You wish you had thought of it yourself. You wish you had thought of it so you could have built a column around it, and then a book chapter, and then you could have gone on Meet the Press and gazed into David Gregory's eyes when he asked you your thoughts on the economy and dazzled David and America with your world is a car without a spare metaphor.

We all admire the works of others. But what sets Tommy apart is that he's not going to let a little fact like the fact that someone else thought of it keep him from doing all of the above. (I can't shake the feeling that in the pre-Internet era Tommy would have pulled a Maureen Dowd on El-Erian ). And that when Tommy goes to a museum and sees a painting he likes, he pulls out a magic marker and starts drawing on it:
America used its spare tire to prevent a collapse of the banking system and to stimulate the economy after the subprime market crash. The European Union used its spare tire on its own economic stimulus and then to prevent a run on European banks triggered by the meltdown in Greece. This all better work, because we’re not only living in a world without any more spares but also in a world without distance.
Conspicuously absent: All those spare tires we dropped on Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars that Tommy wanted and we're still killing and dying and paying for - it's like they never happened.

Still, I have to admit, when Tommy said the world was without distance, I was relieved. Because if I'm driving without a spare, I don't want to go too far. So maybe since the World is Flat, it's OK not to have a spare since we don't even need to leave our house to outsource all our jobs and pollution to developing countries. Phew.

But wait. The very next sentence:
Nations are more tightly integrated than ever before. We’re driving bumper to bumper with every other major economy today, so misbehavior or mistakes anywhere can cause a global pileup.
This is the kind of shit that drives Friedmanologists crazy. That nonexistent distance apparently has nothing to do with the distance we're traveling in our car without a spare to an unstable destination; it's the distance between cars, all of which are lacking spares. So the world is no longer a car; it's a traffic pattern. And "We’re driving bumper to bumper with every other major economy today" - so the car no longer represents the global economy, but each nation is its own car. I think. And the danger is a pileup, not a pot hole, in which case an airbag, not a spare tire, would be the crucial accessory. You can't even see the original painting under Tommy's magic marker scribbling.

The point is that Tommy heard something that sounded like something he might say about metaphorical cars so he said to himself, "That's really brilliant." Then he said, "What else do cars do besides drive? They crash. And if they crashed, it would be . . . a . . . a global pileup! If I can work that in somehow, I'll have killed two paragraphs."

Which is essentially what Tommy admits next:
And that leads to the real point of this column: In this kind of world, leadership at every level of government and business matters more than ever.
"The real point"? That was just an exercise? You're not even faking it any more. It's all, "I'm Tom Friedman. I have three Pulitzers, I'm a best-selling author, my wife is really rich, and the New York Times has to print whatever I write because I don't have an editor (really), so read my filler, bitches!" Fuck you, Tommy. Just for that, I'm skipping to the last paragraph:
Winston Churchill famously observed that, “You can always trust the Americans. In the end, they will do the right thing, after they have eliminated all the other possibilities.” Is that still true for our generation? We’re going to find out. The time for bluffing ourselves is over. Are we going to do what it takes to fix our country, or are we going to be remembered as the generation that received more poker chips from their parents than any other and then had to turn around and toss a single chip to their kids and tell them to put it on “Lucky 21” — and hope for the best.
You see what he did there, right? Instead of saying "the time for fooling ourselves is over," he said bluffing. And that little sneaky word change sets us up for Tommy's Whirlwind Casino Metaphor! Never mind that one doesn't bluff oneself. Or that we're playing poker and then all of a sudden we seem to be playing some sort of roulette/blackjack hybrid called "Lucky 21." Or that he could have just said, "are we going to be remembered as the generation that received more from their parents than any other and squandered it?"

Which brings me to the real point of this blog post: The night after I read this, I had a dream that Tommy invited me over to his mansion to play poker. And while he riffed on how the world was hot, flat, crowded, and smelly, I won all his money and the house, too. Then I invited a bunch of Iraqi refugees to live with me in Tom Friedman's house. And we let Tommy stay there, too, because he knew where all the bathrooms and the closets were and the Iraqis found him funny. One of them called out, "Tommy, tell us again about the first rule of holes." And Tommy dutifully replied, "The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels." Then we all laughed and laughed while Tommy fixed us sandwiches.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Live" Blogging Tommy Boy on Meet the Press

Note: Not surprisingly, I couldn't bring myself to sit down and watch MTP this morning. But I just watched. OK, not the whole thing so if you're interested in my take on what Robert Menendez and John Cronyn had to say about Rand Paul (and why wouldn't you be?), I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. But I watched the roundtable with Tommy Boy, Paul Gigot, Bob Woodward, Andrea Mitchell, and host David Gregory. If you'd like to get the full live-blogging effect, you can watch here while reading my searing commentary below. 

9:35 AM:*

Tommy Boy gets the first question. It's about Rand Paul. Even though my cat knew there would be Rand Paul questions, Tommy seems unprepared. In fact, it's not clear he even knew who Rand Paul was before he heard Menedez, Cronyn and Gregory talk about him in the first segment. That doesn't stop Tommy from zinging Rand, though; says being against Civil Rights Act is not a "growth" position. Harsh. He might as well have called Rand's mom a whore.

Tommy quickly moves away from Rand and onto more comfortable ground: stuff he's written about in the past few weeks. "It's easy to be against government, but what specifically are you going to cut."


Gigot points out to Tommy that Rand is actually one of the few people that does spell out what he's going to cut: Medicare, for example. (Did Tommy do anything to prepare except reread his own columns?) Cut to Tommy who is nodding enthusiastically and suddenly looks really intrigued. (Maybe it's just occurred to him that the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act applies to Muslims, too).


Why I don't watch shows like this in a nutshell: Paul Gigot - "President Obama has governed so far to the left that I think he's driven Republicans to the right." When did pulling stuff out of your ass that you know isn't true, but you think will be effective for your side, become analysis? No one will challenge him on this crap, either.


Gregory asks Tommy a question he's better prepared for because he's written about it recently: What's happened to the center? Tommy - I'm very worried about the center. It's falling apart for a number of reasons, including "digital lynch mobs on the Internet" (Was that Tommy giving Fire Tom Friedman a shoutout?) . That's why I'd like to be China for a day (Chapter 16 of Hot, Flat and Crowded.) "If we were China for a day, we could get some shit done." Tommy the provocateur is in the house! But not for long. "I don't want to be China for a second." Now I'm confused. Is a day longer than a second? I thought I knew, but now I'm not sure.


Gregory asks Tommy about what the government should be doing to address the oil spill. Tommy does what he does with every question: tread water for thirty seconds than change the subject to a recent column. The treading is painful -- "We've got an oil spill, it's, it's about a mile below the surface, it's about 60 to 70 miles offshore, so it's hard to see, OK?" -- but he picks up steam when he starts reciting, practically verbatim, his column from last Tuesday.


Bob Woodward just suggested that BP call in Google to clean up the oil spill. Seriously. Because when you're old and you don't understand new things, you tend to ascribe to them all sorts of magical powers. Tommy should give Woodward a big sloppy kiss right now for saying something decidedly stupider than the crap he's been peddling, but he's not that self-aware.


Having never watched Tommy in this format, it was amazing how uncomfortable he was when he actually had to talk about a topic that someone else chose rather then just unleashing a steady stream of Friedman diarrhea. I really wish there was footage of Tommy in the green room before hand; I guarantee he was reading his own columns and books. He certainly didn't read anything else to prepare. How can you go on a national television news commentary show without knowing a thing about Rand Paul or the specifics of the oil spill?

*All times are made up, of course. It's 12 hours later as I write this.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

This Sunday: Live Blogging Tommy Boy on Meet the Press

In a move every bit as audacious and newsworthy as Barack Obama's decision to seek the presidency in 2007, Fire Tom Friedman will live blog Tommy Boy's appearance on Meet the Press tomorrow.* Critics (i.e. me) are already asking the tough questions about the decision to make the leap from regular blogging , including:
  • Having only written two (non-live) posts (three if you count this filler post), what makes me think I'm ready to blog live? Why not let the more experienced Mustache of Understanding tackle Meet the Press?
  • I'm not a multitasker. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen surfed the web while watching TV. (I lead a very cautious life.) What makes me think I'll be able to follow the action, think of something moderately clever or interesting to say, and type all at the same time? What if I become so mesmerized by Friedman's fellow panelist The Legendary Bob Woodward ("OMG - that's the guy who broke open Watergate") that I forget why I'm watching in the first place?
  • Isn't my life better for the fact that I've never actually watched Meet the Press before? Don't I have anything better to do on a Sunday morning?*
And yet, how could I not do it? If it's my calling to cyberstalk Tom Friedman (I signed up for Google Alerts on him; and not just one - "Tom Friedman" AND "Thomas L. Friedman"), don't I need to live blog? Is it not kismet that the very week that I start a blog about America's most insidious bloviating idiot that he is a guest on America's premier rountable for insidious bloviating idiots? Who knows when those stars will align again? (Maybe next week - as I said, I don't watch the show; he very well may be a regular guest, which would kinda suck for my Sundays). Besides, it seems like all the cool blogs live blog at some point and I really want to be a cool blog.

So tune in to this page at 9:00 AM tomorrow for FTF's first live blogging extravaganza!* And if all goes well, maybe I'll also live blog the finale of Lost tomorrow since I don't watch that show either.

*Disclaimer: If the weather is really nice and my daughter wants to go the park, I may not actually "live" blog. But at the very least, I will TIVO Meet the Press and try my best to write a snarky play-by-play at some point tomorrow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Karzai the Carpet Salesman

A few weeks ago, Tommy was angry. According to a Times article,Hamid Karzai had "recently told lunch guests at the presidential palace that he believes the Americans are in Afghanistan because they want to dominate his country and the region." This assessment of American aims upset Friedman so much in the very next paragraph he repeated it essentially verbatim, "Karzai believes that America is trying to dominate the region". (I've subsequently learned from a conversation with someone in the NYT editorial office that Friedman doesn't have an editor).

Tommy, of course, didn't pause to consider what might make that paranoid Karzai think the U.S. was trying to dominate the region. Instead, he started in in on a typical Friedman theme: the ingratitude of those whose countries we invade and people we kill: "That is what we’re getting for risking thousands of U.S. soldiers and having spent $200 billion already."

Much of what followed was pretty forgettable. Apparently, the U.S. is violating THREE CARDINAL RULES OF MIDDLE EAST DIPLOMACY. I'll spare you, except for what he said about rule # 2:

Rule No. 2: “Never want it more than they do.” If we want good governance in Afghanistan more than Karzai, he will sell us that carpet over and over.
Karzai will sell us what?!? "Selling us that carpet" is simply not an an expression. And while Friedman is famous for making up his own tortured metaphors, you cannot just throw out racist caricatures about the President of Afghanistan on the editorial page of The New York Times.

Except apparently you can. Not only did Friedman write that and The New York Times printed it, but no one said a word about it. I spent a lot of time reading reaction to that op-ed (it might surprise you to learn I'm a little obsessed with Friedman), and there were lots of people who oohed and aahed over the THREE CARDINAL RULES. But except for a lone solitary tweet, no one said, "what the fuck did you mean by that carpet crack, Tommy? What caused you to choose those particular words? Were you were playing off of the racist stereotype of Arabs and Persians from the Middle East as slick carpet salesmen?"

The sad fact is no form of prejudice is more socially acceptable in so-called polite company than anti-Muslim sentiments. Can you imagine the uproar if someone had written in the New York Times, "If we want peace more than Netanyahu, he'll lend us money at exorbitant rates over and over"? But that's essentially what Friedman did.

In the grand scheme of things, of course, Tommy's racist writings are a drop in the bucket compared to the atrocities committed by the U.S. in our -- dare I say it -- attempt to dominate the region. But in a just world, Friedman would making his carpet salesman cracks on some obscure xenophobic website and not as Esteemed Thinker on the pages of The New York Times.

Fire Tom Friedman.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Tom Friedman Time Machine

Today’s Tommy column is ostensibly about the oil spill and Obama’s response, but really it’s yet another attempt by the Green Tommy to distance himself from the bloodthirsty, war-mongering Tommy. Friedman writes:

(T)he gulf oil spill is not Obama’s Katrina. It’s his 9/11 — and it is disappointing to see him making the same mistake George W. Bush made with his 9/11. Sept. 11, 2001, was one of those rare seismic events that create the possibility to energize the country to do something really important and lasting that is too hard to do in normal times.

President Bush’s greatest failure was not Iraq, Afghanistan or Katrina. It was his failure of imagination after 9/11 to mobilize the country to get behind a really big initiative for nation-building in America. I suggested a $1-a-gallon “Patriot Tax” on gasoline that could have simultaneously reduced our deficit, funded basic science research, diminished our dependence on oil imported from the very countries whose citizens carried out 9/11, strengthened the dollar, stimulated energy efficiency and renewable power and slowed climate change. . . .

Had we done that on the morning of 9/12 — when gasoline averaged $1.66 a gallon — the majority of Americans would have signed on. They wanted to do something to strengthen the country they love. Instead, Bush told a few of us to go to war and the rest of us to go shopping.
"Wow," I thought when I read that. "Have I been getting Tommy wrong all these years? I thought his response to 9/11 had been to advocate for killing Muslims -- any Muslims -- to send a message. Maybe I was confused. When he talked about invading Muslim countries and going door-to-door with a two-by-four and telling Muslims -- whether they had anything to do with 9/11 or not -- to 'suck on this', maybe that was Tommy-speak for raising the gas tax."

So I went back and checked. And lo and behold, Tommy did call for a a $1-a-gallon “Patriot Tax” after 9/11 . . . on October 5, 2003. So what was Tommy writing about in the intervening 25-months during the time that horrible President Bush "told a few of us to go to war and the rest of us to go shopping."
  • On 9/13/01, Tommy's first column after the attacks, he did not propose a gas tax. He wrote a column called "World War Three".
  • The next day, he wrote that the U.S. must "retaliate ferociously".
  • Two weeks after the attacks, the man who now mocks Bush for telling Americans to shop, bravely taunted Osama Bin Laden from his Bethesda home with this ode to western consumerism:

I went to the ballgame Friday night, took in Dvorak's ''New World'' Symphony at the Kennedy Center Saturday, took my girls out to breakfast in Washington Sunday morning, and then flew to the University of Michigan. Heck, I even went out yesterday and bought some stock. What a great country.

I wonder what Osama bin Laden did in his cave in Afghanistan yesterday?

  • On September 18, 2002 -- a full year before the gas tax he actually proposed (and a year after he now claims he proposed it) Tommy wrote that he was for invading Iraq to help spread democracy in the Middle East. And from there, of course, Tommy was off and running as he became one of the prime "liberal" cheerleaders for the invasion.
I'm sorry I've held such contempt for you all these years, Tommy. If only Bush had traveled forward in time to listen to what you were saying in October, 2003, instead of doing what you were advocating at the actual time he was making his decisions, the world would be a much better place.