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January 21, 2005

Is It Unsporting To Fisk Maureen Dowd?

Probably. But life offers so little in the way of amusement.

The subjective nature of the world around us has informed the works of authors for hundreds of years. Regrettably, for Our Lady of The Bon Mots, life seems to be a never-ending limbo contest. With each column, MoDope provides the increasingly tiresome answer to what appears to be the central question of her life: "How low can you go?".

This week's outing is a classic of unintentional slapstick humor: the ditzy redhead stuns us with her encyclopedic knowledge of mathematics and the natural sciences, deftly delivering a public spanking to that intellectual lightweight and academic poseur, Dr. Condoleeza Rice. We confess to being somewhat stunned: who knew that behind MoDo's lighthearted banter and too-precious cheap shots lay a mind to equal Aristotle's and a form like mortal sin?

The half-vast editorial staff confesses to suffering a painful case of strained credulity. MoDope undertakes to chide Dr. Rice for her lack of mathematical fluency:

She can't do simple equations. She doesn't even know that X times zero equals zero. If you multiply 1,370 dead soldiers times zero weapons of mass destruction, that equals zero achievement for Ms. Rice, who helped the president and vice president bamboozle the country into war.

Having tutored College Algebra, I know it's awfully hard to get far in algebra without being able to perform simple addition. Three reasons for going to war, not one, would make 3X, not 1X, Ms. Dowd. Try re-reading the State of the Union address. You won't get far setting up your equation if you don't define all the variables correctly before you start your work. Very sloppy. No credit.

Was Condi out doing figure eights at the ice skating rink when she should have been home learning her figures? She couldn't have spent much time studying classic word problems: If two trains leave Chicago at noon, one going south at 20 miles an hour and one going north at 30 miles an hour, how far will each have gotten by midnight?

If an annoying NY Times columnist rambles incoherently without coming to the point or connecting the example to her thesis, how long will her readers put up with her before turning the page?

Otherwise, she might have realized that if two cars leave the Baghdad airport at noon on the main highway into the capital of Iraq, neither one is going to get there with any living passengers. Our 22 months at war have not added up to that one major highway's being secured.

So you contend that not one single car has been able to leave the airport without bursting into flames? And of course we're ignoring the fact that the airport was all but dead until recently and is now being revitalized due to the liberation of Baghdad:

After lying all but dormant during 14 years of sanctions and still reeling from the damage it has suffered in the United States-led war, Iraq's national airline made a humble reappearance on the commercial aviation scene last month, with a single, 116-seat Boeing 737-200 flying to two nearby Middle East capitals, Damascus and Amman.
The airline, Iraqi Airways, has even begun making plans to expand its fleet, add destinations, renovate its headquarters and generally upgrade for a new age of commercial aviation.

Facts are so inconvenient sometimes. Try reading your own newspaper.

It's lucky for Ms. Rice that she's serving with men who are just as lame at numbers as she is. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz couldn't be bothered to tally correctly the number of dead soldiers when he testified before Congress. And his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, didn't realize that using an autopen signature on more than 1,000 letters to the relatives of fallen troops added up to zero solace.

Yes Ms. Dowd: military people feel that we are best protected when our top-level leaders obsess about the exact number of the dead and personally sign condolence letters, rather than working on policy issues. Why should secretaries and assistants do those things for them? We wouldn't want them to expend their time and expertise on matters of national importance: much better to have them waste time trying to look good for NY Times columnists and TV anchors. Window dressing is so important, don't you think?

Our new top diplomat has obviously not mastered fractions. When she asserted during her confirmation hearing that 120,000 Iraqi troops had been trained, Senator Joe Biden corrected her, saying she was off by a bit. His calculation of trained Iraqi troops was actually 4,000 - hers was 30 times that. Maybe she's confusing hyperbole and hypotenuse.

Obviously Senator Biden in his comfy armchair in Washington DC is much better informed than the commanders on the ground:

U.S. military commanders in Iraq defended Rice's estimate as reasonable, but they acknowledged yesterday that some of the more than 120,000 are not yet capable of waging effective operations against an aggressive insurgency. Some lack experience, and many are fresh from training.

The most recent U.S. military assessments in Iraq peg the number of trained and equipped forces in Iraq at about 120,000, including 69 Iraqi army battalions operating across the country, according to a senior military official. Commanders expect that there will be at least 130,000 in the ranks by Iraq's elections on Jan. 30, as a number of training courses will graduate new soldiers, national guardsmen and police officers in the coming days.

Of course, if Senator Biden says it's 4,000, we believe him. What possible motivation could he have for misleading us?

She could at least have read "The Da Vinci Code." Then she would have learned about Fibonacci numbers, a recurring mathematical pattern in nature. When you invade a country, you should expect an insurgency. Or, as Fibonacci might have calculated it, if you kill one jihadist, two more arrive to take his place; if you kill three, five more pop up; if you get five, eight more appear, and so on.

Yes, MoDope... terrorists do multiply like rabbits. Unless of course you kill them. Seems you forgot that part of the equation. Sloppy work again - I'm afraid I'm going to have to dock you ten points.

Ms. Rice and her fellow imperialists know so little about physics that they arrogantly jumped into "spooky action at a distance," turning the country they had hoped to make into a model democracy into a training ground for international terrorists, a nucleus for a new generation of radioactively dangerous fanatics.

Gosh, MoDo... you've convinced me. Before we invaded Iraq, there were absolutely no terrorists in Iraq. As a matter of fact, there were no ties between Saddam and al-Qaida either.

Condi may not know Einstein's theory of relativity, but she has a fine grasp of Cheney's theory of moral relativity. Because they're the good guys, they can do anything: dissembling to get into war; flattening Iraqi cities to save them; replacing the Geneva Conventions with unconventional ways of making prisoners talk. The only equation the Bushies know is this one: Might = Right.

Gee..this sounds disturbingly like the NY Times' flexible urban viewpoint: because the media is on the side of the Angels, you can run unverified, late-hit stories like al-QaaQaa, the RatherGate/Bush AWOL story, distort what the President said in the SOTU address (the "imminent danger" meme), suppress stories you don't want to report (Swift vets)...

It is puzzling that if you add X (no exit strategy) to Y (Why are we there?) you get W²: George Bush's second inauguration.

Well, that's only puzzling to you because you're still trying to figure out how to overturn the democratic process. Good luck - I'm sure it will come to you.

At Condi's hearing, she justified the Bush administration's misadventures by saying history would prove it right. "I know enough about history to stand back and to recognize that you judge decisions not at the moment, but in how it all adds up," she told a skeptical Senator Biden.

Problem is, she's calculating, but she can't add. For now, Sam Cooke is right about the Bushies. They don't know much about history.

But that's just it: they do know about history. Just like Reagan knew about the Berlin Wall. And San Salvador, where voters fought to get to the polls through a hail of gunfire and exploding bombs.

And eventually, democracy prevailed. As it did at the polls in Afghanistan, despite the "conventional wisdom" of people like you, Ms. Dowd. Because people want to be free. They don't want to be fed into plastic shredders.

And they're willing to fight if it means their children will have a chance to walk in the sun. So they can listen to idiots like you spew their empty-headed rhetoric on a Thursday afternoon.

Because that's one of the benefits of living in a free society.

Oddly enough...

Thanks to spd rdr for the MoDope link.

Posted by Cassandra at January 21, 2005 06:35 AM

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I am embarrassed that I've helped promote this harpy at all. Honestly, do you remember where you were a few years ago when you suddenly realized that Ms. Dowd's train had left the track? I remember feeling uncomfortable, like something eerie was unfolding before my very eyes. I remember she took some "time off"... a lot of time off as I recall...and when she came back it was a very differnt MO Dowd that oozed from the opinon page. The Richmond Times-Dispatch stopped carrying her column, actually recognizing that Ms. Dowd's columns had become...unsound. (The RTD replaced Mo with Molly Ivins who, although a complete lunatic, is so in a more conventional liberal manner.) Now, don't get me wrong, I think that anyone who can make ca-ca jokes and talk ooky-wooky-nooky about world affairs on the opinion page of the Great Grey Lady and get away with it and a pycheck to boot has got something working for her. But when you come right down to it, Mo Dowd has tranformed herself into nothing more than a common troll, snarking and snapping and being rude, but offering very little in the way of cogent analysis or insight. And it's a pity, because the woman once had real writing talent.

I wonder what happened to her to cause this change?

Posted by: spd rdr at January 21, 2005 11:00 AM

Halliburton must have gotten to her during her "time off". I pity the dude that was forced to dress up in an alien custome and anal probe her.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at January 21, 2005 11:23 AM

I stopped reading Ms. Dowd sometime around Thanksgiving. She was good for a laugh, but now ... it's just sad.

Posted by: Robbie at January 21, 2005 12:02 PM

Pile On has mojo working for him in caption contests, which bring us endless amusement.

Maureen Dowd has MoDo (kind of an anti-mojo), which brings endless misery to those who read and take her semi-seriously. (Really spd, Molly Ivins is an idiot, trust me. Would I lie?)
Three words on criticism of Maureen Dowd:
Fish, shooting, barrel

Two words on her future, as it pertains to credibility and sanity:
snowballs, hell

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 21, 2005 12:30 PM

It may not be sporting, but we can always need the spring training.

Snark Cannons on High.

Posted by: Purple Raider at January 21, 2005 02:39 PM

MM said: "I pity the dude that was forced to dress up in an alien custome and anal probe her."

Hey, I don't agree with her, but she is not ugly. I imagine Halliburton had to use senority as a tie breaker for the plenty of volunteers for the "Project MoDo Probe."

Posted by: KJ at January 21, 2005 03:42 PM

I had never taken notice of her picture. I just figured that given her ideas, I wouldn't want to be too close to the end that expelled them. Perhaps such "investigation" is warrented for purposes other than sadistic amusement.

Posted by: Masked Menace© at January 21, 2005 05:20 PM

Just try and imagine working in a building loaded with Maureen Dowds. Obviously, you would be working at the New York Times. Where else could you find hundreds of people who occasionally turn their heads from the countless mirrors lining the walls and look down their noses at the rest of us.

To be honest, the kindest thing I can say about Maureen Dowd is that she is some sort of a caricature of what one might imagine a Maureen Dowd to be. I could say things like - if you look up the definition of the word boorish, you will see a picture of Maureen Dowd, but I won't. Nope, that would be too sophomoric. Too New York City'ish, even. Nope, I'll just be a sophisticated New Englander and go back to staring into one of my mirrors - perhaps there is an opening at the Globe!

Posted by: RIslander [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2005 05:56 PM

Ek-tually, RIslander, you can get the same sort of attitude from the ghetto fabulous of all colors and ethnic persuasions who are in the employment of government agencies.

Posted by: MrsPurpleRaider at January 21, 2005 09:46 PM

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