Today's Times Magazine has a really infuriating article on the "social, moral, and environmental case for driving more", penned by John Tierney, which approvingly cites ideologues such as:
- The Independent Institute scholar Randal O'Toole,
- Heritage Foundation visiting fellow Wendell Cox,
- Manhattan Institute scholar Peter Huber, and
- Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar Sam Kazman.
all without ever mentioning that all these policy institutes are right-wing think tanks. The slant of these organizations may be well-known in public policy circles, but general readers will be utterly in the dark. For example, how many readers will know that (from Disinfopedia):
Robert D. Tollison, Richard E. Wagner and Thomas Gale Moore are members of the Board of Advisors at [The Independent Institute], Gary Anderson, Robert Ekelund, Dwight R. Lee, Mark Thornton and S. Fred Singer are Research Fellows at TII and Richard Vedder is Senior Fellow at TII. Most of them have a long history of working for the Tobacco Institute (TI) and/or Philip Morris and all nine were also members of the 'Academic Advisory Board' for the pro-tobacco junk science report 'Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination' published by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI) on August 11, 1994. AdTI received money from both TI and Philip Morris. (See: AdTI-Funding)
This doesn't necessarily mean that Randall O'Toole is a fraud, but how far would you trust someone employed by a think tank that's run by, and employs, scholars who take money from the tobacco industry to publish junk science about the environmental effects of tobacco? How far would you trust an organization that takes money from Microsoft while Microsoft is under antitrust investigation, then publishes a book about antitrust regulation, and then lies about how much money Microsoft gave them?
Enough about the "Independent" Institute. As for CEI and AdTI, I'm a computer scientist, and I can say that basically everything I've ever read coming out of the Competitive Enterprise Institute or the Alexis de Toqueville Institution about computing technology issues has been bullshit (for example, the AdTI's recent hacktackular critique of open source software).
And Heritage? Don't make me laugh.
Throughout the article, Tierney frames the debate as one between (1) woolly-headed feel-good liberals who love cities because of their elitism and desire to control everybody else's lifestyle, and (2) serious scholars who've done the "number-crunching" and debunked the "myths" and favor automobiles. Tierney never mentions that all the people he quotes in category (2) are employed by self-consciously ideological, structurally dishonest institutions.
BTW this is the same John Tierney who wrote, regarding the fake, Republican spin-driven NASA bunny suit pseudo-fiasco, "If there was anything Senator John Kerry's strategists were hoping to avoid this week, it was the image of a Massachusetts liberal in funny headgear." I'm not sure whether Tierney's a right-winger himself, or he's just a totally gullible moron who lets himself get spun by right-wing operatives because he doesn't know any better. Either way, to borrow Jon Stewart's phrase, he's a douchebag.
Holy shit, I just turned to the Week in Review, only to find another John Tierney byline heading up an equally ridiculous article that pounds repeatedly on the "John Kerry is a flip-flopper" line while masquerading as news analysis. Shallow horse-race campaign coverage ahoy! America would objectively be a better place if somebody briskly paddled the Week in Review editor's ass with a cricket bat every time (s)he ran an article on the tactical maneuverings of a political campaign instead of the substance of the issues.