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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Courtesy Over Accuracy

Via Glenn, we learn that Eric Olsen considers Maureen Dowd's latest column to be "churlish piffle.

He is too kind.

Mr. Olsen properly trounces Ms. Dowd's bizarre conclusion:

This has got to be giving terrorists ideas as they watch from their caves. Osama may be plotting on his laptop right now, tapping into the cascading effect of an army of new terrorists signing up every time we kill or arrest a terrorist.

We join with Mr. Olsen in rejecting her suggestion that we should not arrest terrorists.

However, he slides past this weird bit of class warfare:

...unplugged Gothamites, busy using cigarette lighters to find their way out of subways, had no TV's on which to hear the tips. (Except the paranoid rich, who partied in Westchester with backup generators. Once, private jets were chic; now you must have private juice.)

Paranoid? Well, even paranoids have real blackouts, I suppose. And as evidence that not all preparation is paranoia I would offer the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared!", but they are anti-gay, so I suppose that won't do.

Nor does Mr. Olsen pounce on this absurdity:

But all Dick Cheney's secret meetings with unnamed energy officials were, sadly, not about saving us from this day. The White House has been too busy ensuring that Halliburton has no competitors for rebuilding Iraq to worry about rebuilding our own threadbare grid.

Really? Then why did USA Today summarize the Cheney energy plan thusly:

Among Cheney's proposals:

• Increased domestic production of crude oil.

• Stepped-up construction of natural gas pipelines.

Massive expansion of the electrical power grid.

• Renewed construction of nuclear, hydroelectric, oil- and coal-fired power plants.

Cheney, a former oil services company executive, called alternative fuels such as ethanol or solar power promising but still "years down the road."

Why did a group critical of Cheney's plan summarize it as follows:

The following are some of the practical highlights of the National Energy Policy:

- Oil and natural gas: [ ]

- Coal: [ ]

- Nuclear power: [ ]

- Electric power plants: [ ]

- Infrastructure: New natural gas and electricity transmission lines would be encouraged by granting rights of way on federal lands and by new "legislation to grant rights-of-way for electricity transmission lines, with the goal of creating a national transmission grid." This would create federal power to acquire land for interstate commerce on a basis similar to current law for natural gas pipelines (pp. 7-7 and 7-8).

And why am I asking these silly rhetorical questions? Of course Ms. Dowd is utterly unaware of the contents of the Cheney energy plan, just as she is virtually conent-free on the politics of energy reform. She just knows it is a bad plan, made by bad, bad men. Men!

MORE: "One numbingly stupid ditz." Well, I wouldn't say it, but you don't hear me arguing, either. And surprise! I may have found a less reliable service than "Blogger", since these archive links aren't clicking. Look for, well, "numbingly stupid ditz" on Aug. 17.

The MaHa blog links to Ms. Dowd as a source for the anti-deregulation argument. Somewhat diminishes the credibility of what looks like a fine blog, although we applaud their sense of humor. The post is Aug. 17, and it looks like their time-stamps have me stumped, too.

BlogLeft also seems to take Ms. Dowd seriously on the "Cheney fiddled while the grid burned" meme. I am delighted to see Ms. Dowd has so many followers, and will be sure to put more effort into future trouncings of her.

Matthew Yglesias says Ms. Dowd is "definitely wrong" about tech failures, since the phones were working. Can we get Matthew up to "stone stupid"? Doubtful. But he does suspect a Jayson Blair scenario:

If Dowd had actually been, you know, in New York during the relevant period in time she would know that the still-working equipment was an odd mix of high- and low-tech.

Scandal and malfeasance work for me!

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