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Hullabaloo


Sunday, November 22, 2015

 
Back to the 50s

by digby

You may have heard about this in passing but you should click over and read this whole post by David Roberts about how the Republicans on the Science Committee, led by Lamar Smith a climate change denier, are abusing their subpoena power and intimidating and threatening scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Yes, you heard that right. Scientists. From NOAA. The ones who warn us about hurricanes.

It's essentially a climate change witch hunt. For real:
To date, Smith has offered no evidence in support of his sweeping accusation of scientific fraud and collusion.

Smith is after another Climategate

This Washington Post story is somewhat indicative of coverage thus far in "objective" political media, in that it is unwilling to identify the partisan elephant in the room. Instead it treats the dispute as an abstract intellectual debate over the extent of privacy vs. public disclosure.

But why this extraordinary attempt to extend subpoena powers? What evidence justifies it?

Political journalists may not say so, but Johnson does: the model for this sort of thing is "Climategate." Remember that? In 2009 and '10, climate deniers combed through a bunch of hacked personal emails among climate scientists at the UK's University of East Anglia, selectively leaking out-of-context bits that could be spun to sound suspicious. The press ate it up, chasing every shiny bauble. Later, multiple independent investigations cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing, but by then the press had moved on.

That's the model of success for the climate denial movement. And it's what Smith is trying to replicate. He wants some negative or embarrassing stories in the run-up to the Paris climate talks next month. It's pretty obvious to everyone in DC; it would be cool if political journalists would tell the benighted masses in the rest of the country.


It's also the model they have used for years against Democrats. They make the lives of everyone involved miserable, abusing their powers, digging into their personal lives and all their communications, causing them to have to spend money to hire lawyers and threatening them with criminal sanctions. This is the strategy of the Republican Clinton style witch hunt now trained on scientists.

And as Roberts points out, the press is complicit. One of the major reasons why these Republicans get away with it is because the press is happy to be fed any juicy tidbits their "sources" in these investigations vomit up and don't want to endanger their relationships by telling the real story. Then the scandals  just take on a life of their own. Read the whole thing for the details. It's mind boggling.

The Republicans want to go back to the 50s, and we always assume it's because it was a time when America was the colossus left standing after the war and the country was prosperous. I don't think that's right. They want to go back to the 50s because that's when white people were allowed to dominate people of color and the red scare gave the right wingers license to use the government to intimidate and harass their political enemies with impunity.

Welcome back to the 50s.


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