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Thursday, September 10, 2009



Liberals beat you to the punch, KB. They wrote Friedman off years ago as every half-year, he would call for patience as he was sure things would turn around in Iraq in just another six months. That time period became a "Friedman Unit" and Friedman was berated as a "moron" and worse.


A.I.: Glad to hear it! Of course, Friedman was eventually right about the turn around, wasn't he? But I can understand why you regard that as his unforgivable sin.

Still, I wonder who buys his books. It probably isn't conservatives. I also wonder whether I am completely off base regarding the liberal (or at least Leftist) temptation to admire authoritarian governments on the left. There is no mistaking the Modern Library Association's affection for Castro. Conservatives have their own congenital flaws, no doubt.


So apparently Friedman is only a partial moron, at least by your standards. Which hints at my quarrel with a tendency you display in the original post here and others: you over-generalize.

You refer to liberals or the Left as though they are some sort of monolithic entity marching in lockstep to some universal ideology. Yet Friedman the liberal advocated what is generally considered a conservative approach to Iraq. So is he still a liberal, a liberal with some conservative beliefs, vice-versa, or just a moron?

You refer to a liberal as someone who "...is firmly convinced that the world would be much better if only people like him were in charge." That's not a liberal, it's a narcissistic sycophant. And while both the Right and Left include people who fit that description, they define neither.

You imply through conflation that Friedman's thoughts on China vs. the U.S. are liberal beliefs. The liberals I read and listen to, however, would disagree totally with Friedman on that issue. They believe the expedience he admires in the Chinese system can and should exist in our system too. Many share his frustration that a Democratic President and super-majority in congress seem more prone to worshipping at the altar of bipartisanship than using the authority they were elected to exert, but they believe that authority should only be derived through a vote of the people. They may be advocating some foot-dragging Democrats face a primary challenger, but that's a far cry from advocating dictatorship. Rather, it's representative democracy.


A.I.: I didn't over-generalize, I merely generalized. Some liberals are pro-life, but liberals in general aren't. Most conservatives are opposed to hate crimes legislation. I am not. I think the later can justified on conservative principles, but most of my fellows have a knee-jerk reaction to anything that looks like special protection. You and I excepted, perhaps, both sides have their congenital flaws.

Am I really wrong that the American left in general has a weakness for Leftist tyrants and their toadies? Fidel Castro throws a lot of independent librarians in the slammer and the American Library Association (a notoriously left wing bunch) sides with...drum roll please, Castro!

And then there are all those movies: Reds, Julia, il Postino, The Motorcycle Diaries, Frida. All of these lionized Stalinists and other totalitarian sympathizers. They were also very good movies (I haven't seen Frida). What would you think if a conservative director (supposing such a creature to exist) filmed a heroic portrait of Franco or of someone on Franco's side?

And then there is the tendency of the American left to vociferously defend communist traitors like the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss, long after anyone could see that the latter were guilty.

Finally, I think you are deceiving yourself about the problems with the healthcare reform issue. President Obama has hardly worshiped at the alter of bipartisanship. He could have offered serious tort reform in his speech if he did. Instead he offered a silly promise of a demonstration project to be enacted... well, later. So healthcare reform now is vitally important, but not so important than one can afford to offend trial lawyers.

The reason the President wants some Republican support is because he can't hold the Democrats together. And that's because of the weak support among the voters. Just right now the evidence from election polls is looking very grim for Democrats across the board. If Democrats pass healthcare legislation without any Republican support, and it turns out that the public opposition is firm, you are looking at a GOP blowout next year.

That's Democracy. Sometimes it means you don't get what you want. Friedman may be stupid, but he has a reason for being wistful about Beijing.


Ken his point was that in this particular aspect an authoritarian government is, in reality, functioning better than our "democracy" is. It is likely that China will eat up a large portion of the clean energy production market (manufacturing windmills, solar plant pieces, etc" that the United States has a shot at right now because of lack of leadership/consensus in our Congress (but largely because of Republican and Coal/Oil industry efforts to derail or postpone legislation than any other factor).

If every time you wrote something silly you were written off for life you'd be out of work every other week Blanchard.

Friedman is an economist and has written extensively on various other topics including globalization and clean energy. He's not an expert on theory of governments so I don't think many people read his writing for info on that...

He has many things of value to say regarding other topics on which he is a reliable expert.


FS: Friedman didn't say "in this particular aspect." He said "There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today." And his point was painfully clear: American Democracy is worse than autocracy because opposition parties can make it difficult to enact legislation that "enlightened people" like Friedman approve of.

Maybe a "Fascist-Socialist" thinks its silly to disagree with that, and perhaps you think that the Government of China is a group of "reasonably enlightened people." But for Friedman to say that, in light of the brutal policies the Chinese government pursues, was garden variety stupid.


You are just intellectually dishonest here. I know that you are able to differentiate between parts and wholes.


FS: ONE of us is not facing the issue. I understand that it is possible to praise one aspect of Chinese policy without endorsing the whole. But if I were going to to that, with regard to China, or Franco's Spain, or Hitler, etc., I would have been very careful to make that distinct explicit. Friedman took no such care. That was stupid.

But in fact his very point was that Beijing can impose whatever policies it wants without having to worry about an opposition party. The only government Friedman can think of that is worse than that is ours. I rest my case.


FS: "Friedman is an economist and has written extensively on various other topics including globalization and clean energy."

I feel I must pick a nit here. Friedman is not a an economist nor was he trained as an economist. His bachelor's degree is in Mediterranean studies and his master's degree is in modern Middle East studies. He is only a journalist who has written on economic issues. I will agree with you however that he's not an "expert on theory of governments".


donCoyote: Thanks for the backup. I noticed that as well, but I didn't bother to look up Friedman's credentials. Maybe FS was thinking of Paul Krugman, who is apparently a fine economist even if he is a very bad political thinker.

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