September 9, 2009

What Would We Do Without Thomas Friedman?

Guy who lives in this house;

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power.

China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Posted by Kate at September 9, 2009 12:31 PM

This is a theme I've noticed often in the last few years:

"Democracy and individual liberty were all very nice, but now that the world is threatened by AGW they are luxuries we can no longer afford."

One suspects these people were never fond of democracy and individual liberty in the first place. They were just waiting for an excuse.

Posted by: rabbit at September 9, 2009 12:57 PM

Be sure to click on the link and read Jonah Goldberg's smackdown of this fascist wannabe.

Posted by: Kate at September 9, 2009 12:58 PM

As Mark Steyn commented:

For some reason, the Times thought enough of my "comparison" of America and dictatorships to stick it on page one. It seems a shame to bury their own Great Thinker's thoughts on the subject on page 29.

Posted by: Mississauga Matt at September 9, 2009 1:06 PM

I guess I should consider myself lucky.

Because I have NO IDEA how someone wakes up in the morning and thinks like that.........

Is it an off day for the meds? Is it a matress that has not been replaced every ten years like the Sleep Council recoomends?


Posted by: AtlanticJim at September 9, 2009 1:11 PM

Yeah yeah, too many "o"s and not enough coffee.

Posted by: AtlanticJim at September 9, 2009 1:12 PM

Why are the Intellectual Progressive Liberals so enamored and easily seduced by the power to assert their will on others that comes with a communist political system?

It is not that they want power, just ask them, it is because if everyone did what they say everything would be better. It is Intellectual Arrogance, period.

Why are they so easily lead down the primrose path? China is doing renewables and other things as a Public Relations Campaign, a relatively small investment is paying huge dividends in Intellectual Progressives in Western Society support, they are looking to dodge Global Carbon Tariffs and to participate in the Global Carbon Exchange and the billions that first world nations are giving away to feel better about themselves. This is about bargaining power, not about climate and energy and Global Responsibility as Friedman would have you believe.

This article comes on the heels of the First Solar contract in China for a massive solar array, a 25 year project that will be abandoned long before completion, but it sure makes for good press...

I suggest a new NYT Series of Adventure Stories - Thomas Friedman - Communist for Hire.

Posted by: Illiquid Assets at September 9, 2009 1:19 PM

Kate: No wannabe about it. He knows what the Chinese would do with those damn town-hall, tea-bagging, un-American Nazi types, and he admires them for it.

But I'll grant you this: anyone who has watched him on one of the Sunday morning panels knows that this guy lacks any charisma to pull off the fascist schtick. Dull, and cringe-inducing when he has to speak off the cuff.

Posted by: MJ at September 9, 2009 1:21 PM

That's why the Left cozies up to Islamofacism: they want the totalitarianism, but as Kathy said of Dawg, they're too dickless to do anything about it on their own.

Posted by: Mississauga Matt at September 9, 2009 1:30 PM

Friedman? who is he? sounds more like George Soros! GOOD China, GOOD China, come to me...

Friedmam is just a cheap mouth piece who thinks he is safe... NOT

Posted by: Slap Shot at September 9, 2009 1:38 PM

Just waiting for someone to say how I should be polite about this, keep the debate civil, how I should suck up to evil doers who want to remove my freedom and make me a slave to the state. How I can still be, and should be, friends with people who holds views so diametrically opposed to my own.

Maybe some middle ground can yet be found between good and evil?

Posted by: Kevin Lafayette at September 9, 2009 1:39 PM

Well don't you know some animals are more equal than other ?

Especially pigs, progressives and socialists.

Posted by: Fred at September 9, 2009 1:43 PM

I find that William Gairdner summed it up perfectly in one of his essays.

"Unlike their classical forbearers, today's liberals are no longer interested in liberty. Quite the contrary, big government is their stock in trade. Hawking one crisis after another, they are on a mission to save us from ourselves. They are convinced that they, and they alone, know what is best for us, and they are determined to force us all to follow their plan. For them, society is not a rich amalgam of free individuals and free communities, each contributing to the greatness of the whole in their unique way, it is a single entity, infinitely pliable, waiting to be shaped and reshaped in the infinitely changing image of the superior (as opposed to the puny) among us - you guessed it - liberals. In their world, independent thinking is tolerated only as long as it conforms to their over-arching world-view. Beyond that, not only is dissent deeply resented - it is increasingly suppressed."

Does this sound familiar?

Posted by: Alain at September 9, 2009 1:45 PM

Don't worry about the "o's", AtlanticJim. Your putdown is slick enough to withstand them.

Posted by: RSP at September 9, 2009 1:45 PM

"One suspects these people were never fond of democracy and individual liberty in the first place. They were just waiting for an excuse." - rabbit at 12:57 PM.

I think you're right, rabbit. A very liberal New Yorker once told me, quite candidly, that she believed in a "benevolent" dictatorship. This was during a conversation about Fidel Castro, or "Fidel", as she liked to call him.

Posted by: RSP at September 9, 2009 1:53 PM

"I have seen the future, and it works."

Goldberg makes the connection. I have liked reading Friedman's big-idea stuff in the past, but I have also had it pointed out to me that he is always very careful not to offend his Saudi patrons, so as not to "burn his sources." I guess the same applies with the Chinese. Maybe Maurice Strong is one of Friedman's sources in Beijing - I imagine they might move in the same circles.

Posted by: CMP at September 9, 2009 1:58 PM

There is a fine Google or Bing map example if you enter:

Bradley Blvd & Oak Forest Ln, Bethesda, Montgomery, Maryland 20817, United States

Prefer the Bing, seems like fall 2008.

With a huge lawn like that, the weekend work must be a bear. (Snicker).

Posted by: Sgt Lejaune at September 9, 2009 2:08 PM

"Maybe some middle ground can yet be found between good and evil?

Posted by: Kevin Lafayette at September 9, 2009 1:39 PM "

It sure can,Kevin. When all evil is eliminated. You been studying the Chamberlain Way to Peace in Our Time again,like ET and other slobbering intellects?

Posted by: Justthinkin at September 9, 2009 2:08 PM

Yes, it's so much easier to get things done when you can simply dictate. And if you are enlightened, you know you are getting the right things done. Just ask any another enlightened person, like Tom.

Posted by: shaken at September 9, 2009 2:21 PM

sorry, tommy... apparently, there's
still a few bugs
in the system.


Posted by: neo at September 9, 2009 2:30 PM

Nice find Sgt.

I wonder if he realizes that in his perfect little world he will have to share the Burning Tree Country Club across the street with the peons?

Who am I kidding, it will become farmland like the front 40 at his house. Right?

Posted by: AtlanticJim at September 9, 2009 2:38 PM

Ah yes, the panel of governmental wisepersons picking, incubating and championing the future industrial champions!!!
Perhaps Mr. Friedman should peak at the archives from the mid 80s when the Japanese government was thought to possess such magical powers.
WHAM! A multi-decade recession.

For the life of me, I can't think of a better indicator of the coming Chinese collapse than Friedman's breathless slobbering.

Posted by: Me No Dhimmi at September 9, 2009 2:43 PM

Nice place for a guy who writes opinion pieces for the new york times!
It just goes to show that even the dumbest in America can succeed.

Posted by: Durward at September 9, 2009 2:46 PM

Posted by: Durward at September 9, 2009 2:46 PM

Only by marrying into it Durward.

Posted by: AtlanticJim at September 9, 2009 3:06 PM

God took the wrong Friedman.

Posted by: Black Mamba at September 9, 2009 3:11 PM

Me No Dhimmis said:
"Perhaps Mr. Friedman should peak at the archives from the mid 80s when the Japanese government was thought to possess such magical powers."

He beat me to it! Bubble ahoy...

There's one piece o' trouble with sucking up to China in this way. Liberals' two favourite national role models, France and Japan, have this social characteristic in common: (ostensibly) subservient women.

Chinese society, to put it in a low-key way, does not.

Posted by: Daniel M. Ryan at September 9, 2009 3:31 PM

There's a good discussion about this column going on right now at "The Corner" at NRO (Steyn, Goldberg, Nordlinger, Hanson et al.).

Posted by: MJ at September 9, 2009 3:35 PM

Is that man drunk? How can a Third-World dictatorship with extremely poor air quality, a large standing army, dreadful working conditions and no basic freedoms be enlightened? People who claim such things should be publicly humiliated.

Posted by: Osumashi Kinyobe at September 9, 2009 3:58 PM

Mao Stlong ask, What's new with the New Yolk Srimes?
You wan Wartel Dulanty?
He not dead.

To The New York Times. Date: May 13th, 1933.
Mr. Jones Replies:
Former Secretary of Lloyd George Tells of Observations in Russia

To the Editor of The New York Times:

On my return from Russia at the end of March, I stated in an interview in Berlin that everywhere I went in the Russian villages I heard the cry; “There is no bread, we are dying,” and that there was famine in the Soviet Union, menacing the lives of millions of people.

Walter Duranty, whom I must thank for his continued kindness and helpfulness to hundreds of American and British visitors to Moscow, immediately cabled a denial of the famine. He suggested that my judgment was only based on a forty-mile tramp through villages. He stated that he had inquired in Soviet commissariats and in the foreign embassies and had come to the conclusion that there was no famine, but that there was a “serious food shortage throughout the country … No actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.”"

Posted by: maz2 at September 9, 2009 4:33 PM

Gotta wonder, what's the real reason Ignatieff canceled his "important" trip to China? We do know it's Bob Rae's "uncle",Mao Strong's, favourite place on earth. If Bobby get's to lead the Liberals, and the people lose their senses and elect the Liberals to power, we'll be really having connections to China. Hell, they might even decide we need to fund the military.

Posted by: Liz J at September 9, 2009 4:49 PM

Friedman is trapped in the left's romanticism, which posits that a Wise Superior Elite (themselves, of course) have the 'right' and even duty, to rule over the Rest of Us..who are all deemed, as Obama has declared, rural ignoramus types.

The Left is focused on power, absolute power for themselves. Friedman's comparison with China is as naive and romantic as that of all those others on the Left with their childish dreams of other cartoon characters - Che, Castro, Spiderman, Superman, Chavez..etc.

They ignore that China has only one interest, rather similar to their own. Power. And a rapid movement out of a peasant agriculturalism into an industrial economy.

That's why China develops one new polluting coal factory per week - factories that regularly kill hundreds in industrial accidents, why their air quality in their cities is disastrous, why they won't have a thing to do with Kyotoism, and why they only latch onto the 'clean power' get into the western marketplace.

me no dhimmi - I don't see that China will collapse. Why do you state that?

justthinkin - for your information, I don't slobber. And to reject the amoral agenda of 'nuke them all' is hardly a Chamberlain tactic. There are, you may be surprised, other ways to deal with jihadists than a genocidal killing of an entire population.

Posted by: ET at September 9, 2009 5:22 PM


There are many people who will contend that a benevolent dictatorship is the most efficient form of government. The problem, of course, is that there's just no way to ensure the dictator stays benevolent, and every chance that Acton's Law will take over.

My mother-in-law lived in the Philippines for many years. When Marcos came to power in the 60's, he was very popular and, according to her, did many things that were good for the people - better schools, health care, roads, etc. But, as time went on, and his hold on power increased, so did corruption.

In our parliamentary system, when we elect a majority government, we get a dictator in effect (subject to constraint by the courts) as MP's toe the party line almost always. Our saving grace is we get a chance to throw him or her out after four or five years, but when dictators bribe us with our own money, somehow we forget to take that step.

Posted by: KevinB at September 9, 2009 5:28 PM

"One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people..."

Reasonably enlightened is the key phrase. Of course this means someone with cosmopolitan approved ideas. But the anti-democratic crowd cannot be so clueless as to assume that the knuckle-dragging peasants would just comply with their wishes. What if, in the battle for power, that one-party autocracy was won by a conservative kook like Steyn or Palin. After all, which citizens have the guns and know how to use them?

Friedman must be one sick, twisted individual if he admires a regime like China instead of a liberal democracy that allows press freedom, free speech, fair trials, due process etc. The academic elites should put as much distance as possible between themselves and him if they want to keep calling right-wingers paranoid, anti-intellectual nutters?

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you"

Posted by: LC Bennett at September 9, 2009 5:36 PM

There is nothing new here. It's just a rewording of H.G. Wells' "Disease of Parliaments" ranting.

It's a disease all right, a disease of the too-comfortable, who think we could have a dictator but the dictator will still allow them the brobdingnagian house and the jetting to Europe and the foie gras and the freedom of speech... When that's all gone, they'll still tell themselves that it's just a pesky detail that needs to be ironed out and everything will be fine soon, if we just get rid of the saboteurs and the haters and all those other Neanderthals. Then they'll be standing before a wall, wearing a blindfold, waiting for the shot, convincing themselves that it's all for the Greater Good.

Western Civilization: you'll miss it when it's gone.

Posted by: Tom Paine at September 9, 2009 6:20 PM

ET: I could have worded that better. I hadn't meant that as a prediction of an imminent collapse of China as such. After all, Japan didn't collapse; it merely entered a two decade long recession/depression in stocks and property not long after people like Friedman had celebrated The Asian Miracle -- you know, the Central Planning That Really Really Works because of the exceptional qualities of Japanese G-Men.

But you have to admit that they have an enormous headache with their collosal holdings of US debt which cannot be paid off.

I certainly agree with your post! But I think we disagree on the question of whether or not China is an enemy.

Posted by: Me No Dhimmi at September 9, 2009 7:31 PM

"One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as Canada was for 50yrs, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 20th century. It is not an accident that Canada is committed to overtaking real marketplace initiative in healthcare, education, multiculti lawsuits and pseudo human rights.

Posted by: reg dunlop at September 9, 2009 8:11 PM

Joe Wilson called Obama a liar at the top of his lungs tonight, in his face, in front of the whole freakin' country on nation wide TV. It was -AWESOME-!!!

Which makes me think Friedman's benevolent dictatorship thing ain't working for America. Barry would very much like to be the benevolent dictator of the USA, but I think that's not going to happen.

Joe Wilson is my hero.

Posted by: The Phantom at September 9, 2009 10:41 PM

Well, it is kind of ironic. Obama calls Palin a liar and threatens to call out others who don't tell the truth. Then gets called a liar for, you know, lying. It was a pretty sweet 30 seconds of live TV irony.
Also interesting. The dems act like its such an affront for a president to be called a liar. Hell, everyone knows he's fibbing even Keith Olberman. Presidential credibility has been going steadily down hill since watergate. They all have done it. So how do they think the american people really believe Obama is telling the truth? They didn't vote for Obama because they believed he was telling the truth - -they voted for him because they "hoped" what he did would be better. For him to stand up there an basically say "you can take my word for it" is an astonishingly disconnected thing to do. They are out of touch with the history of politics in this country or they are just so arrogant they think they can sell chicken shit and call it chicken salad and no one will notice.

Posted by: Joe at September 10, 2009 2:07 PM