Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Matt Taibbi Vs Thomas Friedman

My awareness of a certain gent named Matt Taibbi started with his scathing review of The World is Flat, a book that a former roommate championed because it painted India in a favorable light.

These are the kind of people who see their daily indignities in Mumbai in a new light once an Australian or a New Yorker writes about it, the likes of whom think the Namesake is a breakthrough in cinema.

What amazes me is the fact that such a mediocre chronicle of people's lives is actually considered a worthy subject for film and book. That the banalities of our lives and deaths are sold as epics of Exotica to a dim-witted international audience; and that when it comes back to us, reeking and regurgitated but with the all-important seal of global approval, we swallow it whole and stand in line for seconds.

That India needs to stop looking for external validation was just a digression. What I wanted to share, with much glee is the fun little sledging match between Matt Taibbi and Thomas Friedman. That review was just foreplay for what's to come. In his Low Post column for Rollingstone, Matt uses Thomas Friedman like a punching bag.

Right War, Wrong Tactics
The notion that our problem in Iraq is a resource deficit is pure, unadulterated madness. Our enemies don't have airplanes or armor. They are fighting us with garage-door openers and fifty year-old artillery shells, sneaking around barefoot in the middle of the night around to plant roadside bombs. Anytime anyone dares oppose us in the daylight, we vaporize them practically from space using weapons that cost more than the annual budgets of most Arab countries to design. We outnumber the active combatants on the other side by at least five to one. This year, we will spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined -- more than six hundred billion dollars. And yet Tom Friedman thinks the problem in Iraq is that we ordinary Americans didn't tighten our belts enough to support the war effort.

Hussein in the Membrane

Tom Friedman is the oracle of this crowd, the tormented fat kid with a wedgie who got smart in his high school years and figured out that all he had to do to be successful was shamelessly and relentlessly flatter his Greatest-Generation parents, stroke their outdated prejudices, sell them on the idea that the entire aim of the modernization process is the spreading of their amazing legacy through the use of space-age technology.

So he goes into America's sleepy suburbs with his Seventies porn-star mustache and he titillates the book clubs full of bored fifty- and sixtysomething housewives with tales of how the Internet is going to turn Afghanistan into Iowa. The suburban guys he ropes in with a half-baked international policy analysis -- what's "going on" on "the Street," as Friedman usually puts it -- that he cleverly makes sound like the world's sexiest collection of stock tips: "So I was playing golf with the Saudi energy minister last week, and he told me..."

How the Media Lies About China

One of the biggest purveyors of this dreck is arch-capitalist spokesmodel Thomas Friedman, who has spent the last ten years trying to talk himself into the position that having to compete with Chinese and Indian industrial slaves is somehow a good thing for America. Nothing makes Friedman happier than being able to appear before a bunch of old ladies in some cobweb-strewn Midwestern library or Jaycees hall and deliver his favorite faux-homespun platitude about the new global economy, a clunky tale about advice he often gives to his daughters. "Girls," his story goes, "when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, 'Tom, finish your dinner. People in China . . . are starving.' My advice to you now: 'Girls, finish your homework, people in China . . . are starving for your jobs.' "

Those are just a few choice samplings. Matt Taibbi's Low Post column is a teaser. His longer articles like the one about American troops in Iraq, gives a first hand view of America's prospects in their war on terror.

What I like about this guy is that he does that little extra, he digs up a bit of history on these politicians and their coterie of shills, and then pulls their pants down, exposes them for what they are, and then pees on them for good measure.

Edit: Found another one.

And another one.

And another one.


Amit said...

Good to have u back wiki...itne din kidhar gayab thaa....reading ure blogs always makes my slow working day interesting...

Siddharth said...

mn cool!
i am reeading gurcharan das' 'india unbound' ..is interesting thus far