Tag: NY Times

NYTimes Freakonomist Eric Morris Vs California High Speed Rail

Perhaps there is a recipe for being “provocative” when you do not, after all, want to depart from the economic mainstream – despite the radical incapacities that have come to prominence in the last year – and do not want to upset powerful vested interests.

If I was trying to use Eric Morris’ “Freakonomics Blog” piece for the NYTimes, High-Speed Rail and CO2, to work the recipe out, my guess would be:

  • Pick a challenge to the status quo as your target
  • Pick a sexy public issue as your line of attack
  • Narrow the frame to bias the case in favor of the status quo
  • cherry pick information sources that are biased toward your desired conclusions
  • mis-state as much of the rest of the evidence as required to bring your conclusion home

So let’s see this recipe at work as Eric Morris does a hack piece trying to argue that HSR funding is bad for CO2 emissions.

H/T to Rafeal at the California HSR Blog for bringing this piece to my attention.

tom friedman: what a Real President would do

Ta dah……… another stunning assessment of George W. Bush, his policies, and what a real president would do from Thomas Friedman in today’s New York Time’s column. Yeah, the inescapable Tom Friedman: a cheerleader of the war in Iraq. A public intellectual and New York Times Columnist… part of that liberal media about which we hear so much.

You do remember Thomas Friedman? The man who brought us such great catch-phrases as the Arab street and Generation Q? Yes. It’s the same one. The exact same one who made the Iraq war sound grand in a 2005 talk:

This is not about oil. This is about something really noble, crazy noble. It is the first attempt in the modern history of the Arab world for Arabs in their own country to forge their own social contract, their own constitution.

Not only would democracy become rampant in the Middle East, but “a successful Iraq is our Iran reform policy.” In his droning, self-assured, and utterly annoying manner, he  told his audience that “The Shi’ite Muslims who will assume the majority of Iraq’s government posts are the same Shi’ites who live in Iran.” According to the newspaper account of the speech, Friedman said if Iraq succeeds it will ratchet up the pressure for democratic reform in Iran.

Well, today’s column is really a gas. And what I really loved about it, Mr. Bush, Lead or Leave (besides the side-splittingly funny lede), is it’s real he-man muscular language. Here’s  a sample…

What they need now is a big U.S. market where lots of manufacturers have an incentive to install solar panels and wind turbines . . . without subsidies.

That seems to be exactly what the Republican Party is trying to block, since the Senate Republicans – sorry to say, with the help of John McCain – have now managed to defeat the renewal of these tax credits six different times.

Of course, we’re going to need oil for years to come. That being the case, I’d prefer – for geopolitical reasons – that we get as much as possible from domestic wells. But our future is not in oil, and a real president wouldn’t be hectoring Congress about offshore drilling today. He’d be telling the country a much larger truth:

“Oil is poisoning our climate and our geopolitics, and here is how we’re going to break our addiction: We’re going to set a floor price of $4.50 a gallon for gasoline and $100 a barrel for oil. And that floor price is going to trigger massive investments in renewable energy – particularly wind, solar panels and solar thermal. And we’re also going to go on a crash program to dramatically increase energy efficiency, to drive conservation to a whole new level and to build more nuclear power. And I want every Democrat and every Republican to join me in this endeavor.”

That’s what a real president would do. He’d give us a big strategic plan to end our addiction to oil and build a bipartisan coalition to deliver it. He certainly wouldn’t be using his last days in office to threaten Congressional Democrats that if they don’t approve offshore drilling by the Fourth of July recess, they will be blamed for $4-a-gallon gas. That is so lame. That is an energy policy so unworthy of our Independence Day.

I loved how he slipped in the for geopolitical reasons that we get as much as possible from domestic wells while encouraging Bush, if Bush wanted to be a real president, to tell the country larger truths.

From what fucking planet is Thomas Friedman? Talking about George Bush telling truth to anybody is ridiculous. To try to appear like you’re a cool environmentally friendly liberal columnist guy and set us up for drilling the arctic is going a tad too far. And oh my god, you’re sorry to say John McCain is leading Republicans in defeating incentives for renewable energy.