Friday, April 15, 2016

Oddity of the Week: McCarthyism is alive, just, barely, at WUWT

Sou | 3:10 PM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment
There is not much happening at WUWT today. The only item of interest is that the AGU Board has deliberated on whether to continue to accept sponsorship from Exxon and has decided that yes, it will.

The other item (vaguely related) that I thought worth commenting on was the WUWT Quote of the Week article (archived here). Not the article itself, it was the discussion underneath (see below). The quote itself was lame. Just another dime-a-dozen fossil fuel shill called Alex Epstein saying the same old thing. Here's Anthony's quote of the week:
As long as your life is being made possible by the people in the fossil fuel industry, I think you should be grateful, and I think it is a crime — a moral crime — that you are damning anyone by association,” “I wish Sen. Whitehouse were here because what he is doing to the free speech of those companies and anyone associated with them is unconstitutional and I think he should apologize or resign,”
Seriously - by investigating harmful disinformation campaigns, Senator Whitehouse is threatening the free speech of mega-companies - and acting unconstitutionally? Give us a break! Deniers are getting very hard up for material these days.

The Daily Caller (Anthony's source and required reading for right wing anti-intellectuals) decided to wrap this up and present it as a "shock" to attendees. Huh?

What happened was the denier party in the USA called some chap up as a witness to some committee hearing, who they figured would tell them what they wanted to hear. There was no mention at the Daily Caller and none at WUWT of what or where the hearing was.  After some digging, I managed to find the hearing listed. The Environment and Public Works Committee is headed up by James "snowball" Inhofe. The purpose of the hearing was described as "to examine the impact the president’s climate policies are having on economic opportunity, national security, and related issues".  I doubt there was a heap of enlightenment. It was just another of those endless sessions where taxpayers pay senators to sit in a boring theatre and listen to actors they selected telling them what they want to be told. It's a charade at best.

Anthony decided to frame the quote as a "shaming" of Senator Whitehouse, who is a strong advocate for the USA doing what it can to reduce the impact of climate change. Anthony Watts and his fans want to speed up global warming, so any tidbit they can find to support the disinformer's agenda is used. The tidbits are getting more scarce, hence his promoting the silly quote as a the "Quote of the Week".

McCarthyism fans come out to play

The more interesting thing about the article was the discussion underneath. Did you know that McCarthyism is alive in some quarters of the USA? I wouldn't say it was "alive and well", but it's alive. Here are some comments from the McCarthy witch-hunt fans:

It started with a comment from rabbit (not a fan of McCarthyism), who equated an investigation into the the extent to which ExxonMobil financed science disinformation campaigns with Joe McCarthy's nefarious activities of the 1950s. rabbit wrote:
April 14, 2016 at 10:50 am
An extraordinarily clear thinker and speaker who shows no fear. If I were Senator Whitehouse — who appears to want to be the Joseph McCarthy of our era — I would be very afraid.
As you'll see if you read on, rabbit thinks that investigating disinformation campaigns supported by huge global conglomerates (eg tobacco disinformation, climate disinformation), is the same as running fear and smear campaigns against prominent and not-so-prominent individuals, and equating homosexuality with communist sympathy.

rabbit's comment fired up some of the fans of Joe McCarthy, who leaped to his defense. First was Tom O, who complained that Joe McCarthy was being slandered and that all he was doing was trying to save the USA from all those nasty commies:
April 14, 2016 at 11:37 am
You have just slandered a man that has been slandered enough. It really takes very little research to realize that communists had deep inroads into the US government at the time of Senator McCarthy. McCarthy was trying to save the country and the government, right or wrong, but Whitehouse is doing nothing for either the country or the government. Compare Whitehouse to Obama if you wish, that’s fine, both are willing to throw your children and grand children “under the bus,” as the expression goes. But McCarthy was unmercifully maligned at the time, and it won’t take you a day’s worth of due diligence to prove it for yourself. 

Jim G1 sees anyone to the left of the KKK as a commie:
April 14, 2016 at 11:53 am
Right on. Joe was right. There were a lot of communists in Hollywood and still are. But today they are called Democrats. Nothing like the Democrats of the 1950’s and 60’s. No JFK’s in this bunch, sexual proclivities aside.

Joe Civis is wanting everyone to head over his way:
April 14, 2016 at 11:59 am
here here!!!!

rabbit, whose comment got this side discussion going, is not a fan of Joe McCarthy or his tactics:
April 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm
I agree that communist spying was a problem in that era, and that people were right to be concerned. But Joseph McCarthy’s tactics were not the way to go. He did a lot of intimidation and drive-by smearing based on the flimsiest of evidence. He particularly loved to exploit opponents’ homosexuality or alleged homosexuality. He was a bully who deserved to be taken down.

dbstealey figured that Joe McCarthy was an angel compared to the way that innocent individuals today are being pilloried for being communist sympathisers...or something. The trials and hearings must be being held in secret I guess:
April 14, 2016 at 1:54 pm
I agree about McCarthy’s tactics. Also, that he was right.
But compared with today’s tactics, he was an angel — and thoroughly pro-American. . Whitehouse is a good example of the opposite.

TonyP views middle of the road politicians with fear and loathing:
April 14, 2016 at 1:29 pm
You know the parallel you’re trying to draw with McCarthy but he was trying to rid the country of people PRECISELY like Whitehouse, Boxer, Reid, Pelosi and their socialist pals in Hollywood who’ve only grown stronger in the decades since their mentors beat the rap.

commieBob said that McCarthy was both right and wrong, and that having communist views is trouble. He supports freedom, equating it with a pluralistic society - as far as I can see:
April 14, 2016 at 1:47 pm
Joseph McCarthy was right. There were communists and communist sympathizers all over the place. The trouble is that it isn’t illegal to hold communist beliefs and advocate for those beliefs. What is illegal is being a foreign agent or otherwise being a traitor. McCarthy and company had trouble with that distinction.
Here are the principles laid out by Senator Margaret Smith in her criticism of McCarthy et al.
“She stated the basic principles of “Americanism” were:
* The right to criticize;
* The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
* The right to protest;
* The right of independent thought.
Smith strongly voiced concern that those who exercised those beliefs at that time risked being labeled communist or fascist. link
Freedom made America great. Those who advocate against freedom are traitors especially if they have taken an oath to uphold the constitution. 

bobd06 is in a tussle with Joe Civis, and wants people to head over his way. He says, apropos of nothing:
April 14, 2016 at 10:56 am
Here here!

This last comment has nothing to do with McCarthyism, but I found it particularly strange, expecially given the parallels between the alleged activities of Exxon and the tobacco industry. Neo  wrote:
April 14, 2016 at 5:55 pm
I’ve noted the parallels between the Tobacco Institute and the Climate Change crowd from my early expose to this topic.
Both were the “center of the universe” for PhD Statistics holders where data is tortured until it gives up the desired results. 

References and further reading

Time to Wake Up: Touched a Nerve - speech by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, October 2015

Exxon: The Road not Taken - award-winning series of articles from Inside Climate News

Examining the Role of Environmental Policies on Access to Energy and Economic Opportunity - Hearing of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, April 2016


  1. Given that many of these people were willing participants in that hideous attempt at an online lynching that was Climategate, their admiration for McCarthy is no surprise.

    1. Climategate (and possibly McCarthy) was nothing compared to the types of folks that support the likes of Trump and Cruz, Millicent. Take a gander at this(Samantha Bee, possibly NSFW):


      America's got to figure a way (yeah, I know, it's called an 'election'. But you know what I mean) to stop a Tea Partier from capturing the presidency, or the whole world's going to be in for a lot of hurt :-/

    2. The glory of the First Amendment consists in its being disinterested.

  2. "Not much of interest" Sou? Surely you jest!

    It may look that way on the face of it, but perhaps that's because assorted comments from Bob Grumbine, Neven Acropolis and yours truly are scattered all over the WUWT cutting room floor? Read all about my very own version of "conspiratorial thinking" at:

    Global Sea Ice “Comeback” Conspiracy

    Our Twitter feed has suddenly been inundated with messages to the effect that:

    "Global sea ice makes a strong comeback as El Nino fades".

    First up was Professor Judith Curry on April 12th. Then this morning came our old friends at the Global Warming Policy Forum. The GWPF were followed this afternoon by Anthony Watts.


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