Make Some NYT Op-Ed Columnists Fight to the Death

That tears it: David Brooks’s just fantastically idiotic argument against freedom(!) in The New York Times yesterday—not going to link, you’re welcome—has me convinced that a few of the Gray Lady’s opinion-machines need to be put in a death dome and forced to fight a battle royale. Don’t act like you’re not with me.

Not all of them, okay? I’d like to see Paul Krugman in a little referee outfit, for one. And Gail Collins would provide sparkling color commentary, I’ve no doubt. But to see Thomas Friedman pile-drive Nicholas Kristof, only to have Kristof produce a machete from his last African sojourn and spill the man’s guts: oh man.

Brooks, I think, will have to take on Ross Douthat for the position of so-called token moderate conservative. The two of them hacking into each other with barbed-wired baseball bats would be such a glorious literalization of their day-to-day work. Winner goes on to face Maureen Dowd, who will not be permitted to assume her dragon form.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Mean Maureen Dowd Laughs in the Face of Recession, Hits the Spa

As Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici points out, mean Maureen Dowd — stout though bloodless defender of Caroline Kennedy for Senate — laughed in the face of the recession, New York Times budget/expense account cuts, and the tense-backed everywhere by visiting Miami’s Canyon Ranch spa. This is easily among the best/worst things the Times has ever put into print. Follow us as we follow Maureen through a magical beach resort vacation of Faux White Upper-Class Guilt and Exotic Oils! Whee!

Naturally, Dowd tries to reason with the hoi polloi by noting her amazement/fascination with the opulence of the place: “Americans are suffering from ‘luxury shame,’ as it’s called, sacrificing overpriced indulgences and spurning high-end brand names, trying belatedly to channel the thriftiness and prudence of the last generation that endured an economic collapse,” Dowd writes. She continues by dishing out what her Mama once served her: “My mom always warned me that there was something immoral about a $5 cup of coffee, a $1.75 bottle of water, a $27 fifth of bourbon and a $40 candle. I’m sure the $500 pizhichil massage (without tip) offered by Canyon Ranch would have appalled her.”

Yet, this doesn’t stop her and her “friend Alessandra” from experiencing “the glamorous spa largely to ourselves<," a meditation class, a lecture on tongue-color, some booze, and naturally, some massaging. It also doesn't get in the way of being whisked away via an escape with "the only person I knew in Miami," the chief of police. No joke.

“Chief Timoney took us over to the most over-the-top spot in this over-the-top city: the leopard-skin-swathed, stained-glass-filled, Medusa-head-branded Versace mansion, a testament to what one man accomplished by reducing antiquity to a throw pillow.” And it only gets better. If you ever thought Ms. Dowd spoke for the people, you were about as wrong as the words “mound of succulent (Kobe) beef”: “Then we ate a sampling from the kitchen: a mound of succulent Kobe beef, fried pork belly, sea scallops with osetra caviar, black grouper, blue prawns cooked at the table on a salt block, foie gras with a riesling-pineapple-coriander emulsion and Meyer lemon tart and crushed amaretti mousse with vanilla-bean meringue, washed down by Champagne (Krug, Clos de Ambonnay 1995), at one of the outdoor tables under a tent by the elaborately tiled pool.”

And yes, the ailing New York Times is going to foot the bill. Lesson: Next time you want an all-expense paid trip to one of the most lavish spas in the country, either make friends with Maureen Dowd, or get a Times op-ed column and parlay it into a travel gig. And by the way, Mo: We know you loved it. Please, please, please stop trying to convince anyone otherwise. For those of us land-locked, freezing, and stuck in an office, it’s just painful.