Tom Friedman went on vacation -- surely you were rudderless in his absence! -- and while he was sunnin' and funnin'the whole thing with the Russian spies broke. Since his return from vacay, Friedman has reflected on the issue (he is reflective!) and decided that it's "actually a good news/bad news story" for America: good, because somebody still wants our secrets, but bad because it's the Russians. "Who wants to be spied on by them?" he asks. Hey Tom Friedman, if the Russians are so wack, then how come you're sporting that Joe Stalin mustache after all these years?

Anyway, Friedman will surely explain his ’tasche and its relevance to the Mexican/Basque/Liberian political systems in a future column. For now, it's back to important work! Like cobbling together a bunch of quotes from economists, and listing all the countries his hirsute finger lands on when he spins his magic globe. Finland! Singapore! Hong Kong China! South Korea! Spies from those countries would be so much cooler than the Czarist Russian ones we've got. Certainly the hyper-integrated global marketplace can offer us more cutting-edge choices?

Were it not for oil, gas and mineral exports, Russia's economy would be contracting even more than it has. Moscow's most popular exports today are probably what they were under Khrushchev: vodka, Matryoshka dolls and Kalashnikov rifles. No, this whole spy story has the feel of one of those senior tennis tournaments — John McEnroe against Jimmy Connors, long after their primes — or maybe a rematch between Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston in their 60s. You almost want to avert your eyes.

If Vlady Putin had a sense of humor, he would be all "ROFLMFAO-SKY" right about now, sending texts to his pals via Sputnik. But Putin just doesn't GET it, says Friedman, speaking to us from the interconnected future.

Friedman feels really sorry for the pathetic Russian losers, though, and tries to help them out by offering a suggestion on how to spy on us better: just go to Washington and buy a cheap tourist guide (The best one is called This Book Is for Russian Spies Who Are Spying on America), and go to the places in that guide. It will tell you to visit the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, and probably Ben's Chili Bowl because there are highly classified spices in the food there.

Friedman also tells the Putineers to go to Silicon Valley or Boston, whichever, he doesn't care, just go check out their scenes. Rent a car if you have to! And visit the Napa Valley, there's secrets in every wine bottle. Tom Friedman and his globe always have a good time in those places. [New York Times]


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