Posts tagged ‘Boston Globe’


The Kennedy's have never been shy about using the government as their own personal plaything:

Senator Ted Kennedy, who is gravely ill with brain cancer, has sent a letter to Massachusetts lawmakers requesting a change in the state law that determines how his Senate seat would be filled if it became vacant before his eighth full term ends in 2012. Current law mandates that a special election be held at least 145 days after the seat becomes available. Mr. Kennedy is concerned that such a delay could leave his fellow Democrats in the Senate one vote short of a filibuster-proof majority for months while a special election takes place...

What Mr. Kennedy doesn't volunteer is that he orchestrated the 2004 succession law revision that now requires a special election, and for similarly partisan reasons. John Kerry, the other Senator from the state, was running for President in 2004, and Mr. Kennedy wanted the law changed so the Republican Governor at the time, Mitt Romney, could not name Mr. Kerry's replacement.

"Prodded by a personal appeal from Senator Edward M. Kennedy," reported the Boston Globe in 2004, "Democratic legislative leaders have agreed to take up a stalled bill creating a special election process to replace U.S. Senator John F. Kerry if he wins the presidency."

Statists in Libertarian Clothing

Everyone is a libertarian when it comes to his or her own choices:

  • My speech should be legal (though those other guys are over the line)
  • My choices, diet, lifestyle should be legal (though those other guys need to be protected from themselves)
  • My personal interactions are fine (but those other guys are all racists, threats to children, indecent, etc)
  • My business is great (but those other guys are all evil exploiters)

The hard part about defending freedom is not defending it for oneself.  The hard part is defending other people's right to be free.  TJIC makes this point quite well in response to a Boston Globe editorial.

Does Anyone Have A Feeling For Numbers Anymore?

The Boston Globe, in its usual blundering math-challenged media way, blithely published an editorial the other day that included this hilarious "fact"

Since June, Israel has limited its exports to Gaza to nine basic
materials. Out of 9,000 commodities (including foodstuffs) that were
entering Gaza before the siege began two years ago, only 20 commodities
have been permitted entry since. Although Gaza daily requires 680,000
tons of flour to feed its population, Israel had cut this to 90 tons
per day by November 2007, a reduction of 99 percent. Not surprisingly,
there has been a sharp increase in the prices of foodstuffs.

OK, the Gaza has over a million residents, but do these 1.4 million people really require 1.36 million pounds of flour a day??  I find that hard to believe, and amazing that no editor even asked the question, much less checked.

Update:  Did a search.  Found this.  The Palestinian ministry puts consumption around 350 tons per day.  That makes a bit more sense.  Congratulations on missing the number by over 3 orders of magnitude.  You can bet they are doing a lot of quality fact-checking on those global warming estimates too.

Update 2: I agree with the commenter that the number they should have used was something like 680,000 pounds rather than tons.  I would have written it off as a typo, transposing tons for pounds, but the math was based on it being tons, not pounds, so it is not just a typo issue.

The Public Interest is One Guy

TJIC has a disgusting story of the state legislature passing a law just to bail out one guy who could not do well on his civil service tests but had friends in high places, vaulting him from 623 to 1 on the waiting list  (if only I could get the same law for me and security lines at airports).

Now, it is always possible to find anecdotes of government patronage, but I thought this quote from the Boston Globe about the extent of such help-one-person laws was incredible:

A Globe review found that 40 of the 218 state laws passed in 2007
provide benefits to specific individuals by name. Thirty allowed
employees of certain state agencies to donate sick days to particular
colleagues, and three granted retirement benefits to certain public
employees. Six exempted particular police and firefighter applicants
from maximum age requirements, allowing them to take civil service
tests and apply for municipal jobs at an older age.

If each of these is a worthy goal, then change the law to allow everyone to do it, not just your pals.

Anti-Trust is Anti-Consumer

This is part 158 or so of a series of posts on how anti-trust law is often portrayed as being pro-consumer, but whose effect in practice is usually just to politically powerful competitors rather than consumers.

I have written a couple of posts on the National Association of Broadcasters hypocritical opposition to the Sirius-XM satellite merger. Radley Balko takes on this same topic:

So when XM and Sirius announced a highly-publicized merger this
year, everything changed for the NAB. Clearly, the two startups it so
feared for so long were floundering. And with no other licensed
satellite providers around, the NAB's position on the merger became
clear: What's bad for satellite is good for the NAB. So the NAB would
oppose an XM-Sirius alliance.

Problem is, the only colorable
argument against the merger is that it would create a monopoly for
satellite radio. XM and Sirius cleverly (and probably accurately)
headed that objection off by noting that satellite radio competes with
a variety of technologies for the listener's ear. This put the NAB in
an awkward position. The lobby would have to argue that despite its
15-year effort to derail satellite radio, satellite radio was not a
competitor. Of course, the harder the NAB fights and the more money the
NAB spends to promote this message, the clearer it becomes that the NAB
fears the competition posed by an XM-Sirius alliance. In effect, the
more the NAB fights the merger, the more it undermines its own argument
against it.

But the NAB has a lot of clout, since it controls most of the media.  Here, for example, is the Boston Globe whoring for the NAB without mentioning that their parent company is a member of the NAB.

The Boston Globe's Non-Existent Ethics

I am a big fan of the Mises blog, but in this post on a Boston Globe editorial they miss something pretty substantial.  S.M. Oliva takes as a starting point this absurd editorial on the pending XM-Sirius merger:

the proposed merger of the two US satellite radio firms is premature at
best. At this point, it should be rejected. In half a decade, the two
firms have gone from barely broadcasting to throwing up their hands in
defeat. But it is hardly clear that the nation's two satellite radio
firms will wither and die unless they unite, or that a merger would
benefit consumers.

Oliva does a good job at debunking this argument, but why bother?  It is patently absurd.  How is can one possible define a market at just satellite radio?  Where have I heard this same ridiculous argument before?  Aha!  Right in the press release from the National Association of Broadcasters, the organization most threatened by satellite radio and who would benefit most if it would just go away.

the FCC authorized satellite radio, it specifically found that
the public
would be served best by two competitive nationwide systems. Now,

with  their stock prices at rock bottom and their business model in
because of profligate spending practices, they seek a government

bail-out to avoid competing in the marketplace.

Of course, even a combined XM-Sirius would have to compete in the marketplace -- in fact with the members of the NAB, whose asses Satellite has been kicking for a few years.

Oh, but here is the good part: the Boston Globe's parent company is a member of the NAB, owning two radio stations and 9 TV stations.  So in fact, the Globe was not editorializing in favor of the consumer, but in fact was shilling for its own trade group, working to weaken a dangerous source of new competition for its own broadcast radio and TV stations.  And nowhere in the editorial does the Globe disclose this massive conflict of interest.  Which makes this closing line a joke:

A Sirius-XM merger would snuff out competition within a potentially
lively market at a time when the technology is still evolving. And by
creating one dominant satellite radio firm, the move would likely keep
new rivals from emerging in the future.

As any economist will tell you, it is ridiculous to define satellite radio as a "market."  At its smallest, the market is reasonably "radio."  The delivery mechanism of radio (satellite vs. terrestrial) is meaningless to the definition of a market (the editorial tries to deal with this logical fallacy by creating a straw man that the market does not include iPods, when of course the main issue is that it does include terrestrial radio stations).   The Globe, along with the NAB whose talking points the Globe is just repeating in this "editorial", are in fact interested in reducing competition for themselves, not enhancing it.

Oh, and by the way, if approving a merger of broadcast or media companies is a "bail-out," then I invite the Boston Globe to calculate how much of a bail-out the Times corporation has been given, as the government has approved the merger of the NY Times, Boston Globe, IHT, 20 other papers, 9 TV stations, 2 radio stations, and 35 commercial web sites.  And by the way, what is the market share of each of their papers in their own local "markets?"

I will leave you with a quote from Milton Friedman vis a vis licensing but entirely appropriate here:

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason
is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for
the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are
invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of
the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone
else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is
hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary
motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who
may be a plumber.

Holier than Thou

So can I assume from all the angst over this that no scientist who is a strong proponent of anthropomorphic global warming has ever accepted money or an honorarium for their research or publication?  May I assume that no environmental group has ever screened who they were going to give research grants to based on the scientist's prior writings and outlook on the topic?

No?   I can't assume those things?  Then what the hell is all the fuss about?  Paraphrasing Casablanca, its like being shocked  (shocked!)  that planned parenthood gives most of their political money to Democrats.  Science today runs on money.  Ask a professor.  It is no longer "publish or perish" it's "get grant money or perish."  Isn't this whole brouhaha really a subset of the free speech debates that are going on today?  In the latter, folks of one ilk or another argue that some speech or position (e.g. holocaust denial) is so outrageous as not to be covered by free speech rights.  Isn't that what this whole debate is about -- ie, are we going to label global warming skepticism as so outrageous and untenable that we are not going to allow money to be spent or speech to be allowed from its proponents?

In that light, it sure raises the stakes on trying to hold onto political power, if politicians are allowed to define what speech, and scientific inquiry, is allowed.

Update:  Whoops, I just saw this.  I think I am on to something.  James Taranto quotes the Boston Globe's Ellen Goodman:

I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.

Make Up Your Mind

Ted Kennedy:

"We have 36 million Americans that are going to bed hungry every
night. 36 million Americans! And 12 million of those are children!"

Boston Globe (via Instapundit)

Obesity battle starts young for urban poor

By the time they reach the age of 3, more than one-third of low-income
urban children are already overweight or obese, according to a study
released yesterday that provides alarming evidence that the nation's
battle of the bulge begins when toddlers are barely out of diapers.

Suppresion of Scientific Enquiry

From the Boston Globe today:

"We do not understand the natural internal variability of climate
change" is one of Lindzen's many heresies, along with such zingers as
`"the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940," "the evidence so far
suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average,"
and "Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th
century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since
about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are
now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why."

Lindzen published similar views in The Wall Street Journal this spring,
environmentalist Laurie David, the wife of comedian Larry David,
immediately branded him a "shill." She resurrected a shopworn slur
first directed against Lindzen by former Globe writer Ross Gelbspan,
who called Lindzen a "hood ornament" for the fossil fuels industry in
a 1995 article in Harper's Magazine....

For no apparent reason, the state of California, Environmental
Defense, and the Natural Resources Defense Council have dragged Lindzen
and about 15 other global- warming skeptics into a lawsuit over auto-
emissions standards. California et al . have asked the auto companies
to cough up any and all communications they have had with Lindzen and
his colleagues, whose research has been cited in court documents.

"We know that General Motors has been paying for this fake science exactly as the tobacco companies
did," says ED attorney Jim Marston. If Marston has a scintilla of
evidence that Lindzen has been trafficking in fake science, he should
present it to the MIT provost's office. Otherwise, he should shut up.

is the criminalization of opposition to global warming," says Lindzen,
who adds he has never communicated with the auto companies involved in
the lawsuit. Of course Lindzen isn't a fake scientist, he's an
inconvenient scientist. No wonder you're not supposed to listen to him.

My position on global warming and the state of global warming science is here.

Progressive Hypocracy

Self-described "progressives" on the left have gone nuts over the past several years over creeping legislative and regulatory inroads made by religious conservatives.  Fascism! They are quick to reply.  The government can't tell us what to do with our own bodies, or in the privacy of our own homes!  Abortion, homosexuality?  Hey, that's our choice, its our bodies.  NSA eavesdropping, warrant-less searches?  Hey, those are our private phonecalls made from our private phones.  Searches of private cars without probable cause to enforce seat belt use?  Hey, what a great idea!

Boston Globe columnist Scot LeHigh editorializes against Massachusetts Democrats attempt to micro-regulate personal behavior:

THIS WEEK, the Massachusetts House of Representatives will face a telling test:
Can it resist a progressive Legislature's ever-present impulse toward pesky

The issue is seat belts, and whether the police will be allowed to stop
motorists upon suspicion that someone in their vehicle is not wearing a seat
belt or only ticket them for that grievous offense if they have first been
pulled over for something else.

This is exactly why I am suspicious of progressives and resist making common cause with them, even on issues where we tend to agree.  For while they talk the libertarian talk pretty well when they want to (abortion with its "I should control decisions over my own body" defense being the most obvious example), progressives also have a very strong streak of "we are smarter than you are and sometimes will tell you what to do because it is for your own good".   As a result, for example, progressives support abortion because a woman should make decisions for her body without government intrusion, but oppose the legality of breast implants and vioxx because a woman should, uh, not be able to make decisions for her body without government intrusion (more on this here).

And what decision could be more about my own body than what level of protection I want to afford myself in a vehicle?  If I choose, for whatever reason, not to wear a motorcycle helmet or a seatbelt, who cares?  It may be a really, really stupid choice on my part, but its my decision for my own body, right?  (By the way, I know that some people will make the 'taxpayers pay for your medical care argument', which I dealt with earlier in my post about government health care funding as a Trojan horse for fascism).

But even beyond the issue of individual decision-making, what about the 4th amendment issues?  It is amazing but true that progressives and the Massachusetts legislature, who would never in a million years give the police, the FBI, or anyone under George Bush's chain of command the right to stop a motorist without probable cause to check for evidence of terrorist intent, are actually endorsing that the police have this power to stop motorists without probable cause for freaking seat belt use.  Is this really the alternative we are being offered today - you can choose fascism to stanch the threat of terrorism or you can choose fascism to increase seat belt use? 

I predict that the left may come to regret setting this precedent, as they have come to regret other expansions of government power that their political enemies have used as stepping stones for their own agenda.  A good example is Title IX, which is beloved by the left for using the fact of federal funding to browbeat even private universities into changing their admissions policies, but has been used as a precedent by the right to browbeat private universities into accepting military recruiters.  Government micro-managing of individual decision-making is only fun as long as you and your gang are the ones doing the micro-managing.

I would love to see someone in Washington making a consistent case for freedom of decision-making for individuals when the decision affects only themselves or others with whom they are interacting in a consensual manner.  But I am not holding my breath.

Grade Inflation in the Ivy League

The Boston Globe has an article on John Kerry's recently released Yale grades.  Humorously, after all the sturm and drang of him supposedly being an intellectual titan to George Bush's dim-wittedness, his GPA was actually a notch lower than George's at Yale.  Personally, I could care less - grades are important for getting into grad school or that first job out of college.  I can't even imagine GPA coming up much in assessing one's suitability for a job in his forties or fifties.

Anyway, the point I take from this is more about grade inflation that suitability for the presidency.  Both Kerry and Bush got a selection of D's, C's, and B's, and no A's.  And while these may have not been standout grades, they certainly didn't seem to be out of the norm for the time.  My question:  Does any student today who can fog a mirror in the Ivy League today get grades this low?  My guess is no.

Postscript: By the way, Kerry released his military records (which were the source of the Yale grades) and there does not appear to be any ticking time bombs in it.  In fact, there are several pieces of information that would have helped him in the campaign, including commendations from several of his swift boat vet critics.  Why in the hell did he drag his feet on this and give the Republicans a free campaign issue?

Almost to Satirical to be Real

I hope this is a joke, but fear that it is true.  BlogCritics is posting on a Boston Globe article that teachers (presumably not in the red states!) are moving away from correcting papers in red ink because they fear it hurts self-esteem.  It sounds eerily similar to this, which actually is a joke.  I called that story "Almost to Real to be Satire", thus the name of this post.

I wonder if red ink hurts self-esteem more than, say, graduating high school and not being able to read.