hillary-clinton-weak-men-fear-strong-women

Ignore the pundits – Clinton owned the first part of last night’s debate too

Pundits are getting it wrong about last night’s debate – Clinton wasn’t on her heels for the first 20-30 minutes, she was making a pitch to Sanders supporters, progressives, her base, and her lukewarm supporters.

hillary-clinton-weak-men-fear-strong-womenI’ve been reading lots of so-called pundits talking about how Trump did really well in the first 20-30 minutes of the debate last night, and then Clinton took control and never let go. OK, from some perspective I get that – Trump stuck to his message, and Clinton’s responses weren’t as good as they would get later in the evening. I looked at Trump’s performance early on as more ignoring the question and repeating your usual stump speech a la Rubio’s “one trick pony” flub rather than “sticking to the message,” but I’m most vehemently NOT a Trump supporter, so that may just be my personal biases clouding my judgement.

What I got out of the first 20-30 minutes of the debate was something quite different than what the pundits did. It was in that part of the debate when Clinton mentioned climate change and raising taxes on the wealthy. Instead of a Clinton thrown on the defensive and responding to attacks with dodges and weaves, I saw a Clinton who was doing exactly what she wanted to be doing – laying out the reasons why Sanders supporters, progressives, and even lukewarm supporters like me should back her. Continue reading

hillary-clinton-weak-men-fear-strong-women

Hillary Clinton’s health is fine – focus on the real issues

hillary-clinton-weak-men-fear-strong-womenI’m not a doctor, so this is not a medical diagnosis. But it is a reminder that we need to keep things in perspective. And when it comes to Hillary Clinton, part of that perspective is the fact that, when she was First Lady, her husband asked her to take on some policy duties and because she was a strong, intelligent, outspoken woman, conservatives went apeshit and have spent the last 30 years attacking her for having the audacity of not knowing “her place.”

But seriously, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was essentially a paraplegic before his first term in office. John F. Kennedy was hospitalized and give the Last Rites three times. Richard Nixon was hospitalized for two weeks during his first campaign.George HW Bush vomited in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister and then fainted. Then there’s the Presidents who were suspected alchoholics (Grant, Arthur) or grossly overweight (Taft, Cleveland).  Continue reading

By AgnosticPreachersKid - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10191704

Trump reminds former Bosnian refugees of Slobodan Milošević ethnic nationalism

Slobodan Milošević made Yugoslavia into fascist state based on Serbian nationalism. 30 years later, Donald Trump’s rhetoric reminds some Bosnian refugees of those years.

In 1994 I I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC as part of a history class on fascism and Nazism. While there, I visited the lower level (down the steps at the center bottom of the image at right) where there was a gallery space set aside for special exhibits. The exhibition being shown was a bunch of small black and white images of concentration camps from the former Yugoslavia, where civil war and genocide had been taking place since 1991. What I remember the most was that, if the photos hadn’t been clearly labeled with dates and locations, the photos could have been mistaken for photos of the German death camps instituted by the Nazis during World War II.

Today, I read in the Guardian about how the large Bosnian Muslim population of St. Louis, Missouri seemed to be uniting against Donald Trump because they are the children of refugees or former refugees themselves. Continue reading

Image Credit:Nigel Parry for CNN

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Eight

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part eight of a series.

Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Click here for all the other parts of this series

In conclusion – why Donald Trump is a fascist

This analysis has examined seven different definitions of fascism and how Trump’s statements match the various characteristics of each. And the conclusions have varied significantly depending on the specifics of the definition. If we look at each definition, here’s how the conclusions ranged:

  1. Derived from “The History of Fascism and Nazism” class, spring 1994. Conclusion: Trump is almost certainly a full fascist
  2. Fascism according to Stanley G. Payne’s 13 characteristics. Conclusion: Trump is probably not a proto-fascist
  3. Fascism according to Roger Griffin’s “fascist minimum” definition. Conclusion: Trump is almost certainly a proto-fascist and probably a full fascist
  4. Fascism according to Kevin Passmore’s definition. Conclusion: Trump is probably a proto-fascist
  5. Fascism according to Emilio Gentile’s ten characteristics. Conclusion: Trump is probably not a proto-fascist
  6. Fascism according to Robert Paxton’s definition. Conclusion: Trump is almost certainly a proto-fascist and is on a path to become a full fascist if he can take power and retain it
  7. Fascism according to Umberto Eco’s 14 characteristics of Ur-Fascism. Conclusion: Trump is very likely a fascist

Of the seven definitions, two result in a strong conclusion that Trump is a full fascist, two more conclude that Trump is most likely a proto-fascist and may be a full fascist, one concludes that Trump is probably a proto-fascist, and two that Trump is probably not even a proto-fascist, never mind a full fascist.

So why have I concluded so strongly that Trump is a fascist when the experts’ own definitions vary so much? Continue reading

Trump-Brownshirts

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Seven

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part seven of a series.

Trump-BrownshirtsClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco was an Italian novelist and public intellectual who, in the June 22, 1995 issue of the New York Review of Books, wrote an essay titled “Ur-fascism” (eternal fascism) in which he discussed fascism in general and identified fascism’s characteristics.

In his essay, he writes that it would be difficult for “the totalitarian governments that ruled Europe” prior to World War II to “reappear in the same form in different historical circumstances.” In this way Eco agrees with the many historians who have claimed that fascism was essentially unique to the period between World Wars I and II. But Eco thinks that “behind a regime and its ideology there is always a way of thinking and feeling, a group of cultural habits, of obscure instincts and unfathomable drives.” He calls fascism a “fuzzy totalitarianism, a collage of different philosophical and political ideas, a beehive of contradictions” that was the result of “political and ideological discombobulation.” To Eco, “fascism was philosophically out of joint, but emotionally it was firmly fastened to some archetypal foundations.” Continue reading

Donald Trump, Public Idiot

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Six

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part six of a series.

trump-fists-upClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Robert Paxton

In his 2004 book, “The Anatomy of Fascism,” historian Robert Paxton defines fascism as follows:

A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. (from Wikipedia)

Trump has tapped into a “preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood” in the American middle class, especially white, blue-collar workers. Trump and his vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, are building a movement of purity that rolls back gay marriage and claims to promote “traditional” American and Christian values, but it’s as yet unclear whether this “compensatory cult” will be one of unity and energy as described by Paxton. Continue reading

Image Credit: Getty

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Five

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part five of a series.

trump-praise-the-lordClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Emilio Gentile

Gentile is an Italian historian who considers fascism to be a form of political religion. The ten characteristics of fascism that he has identified apply to movements rather than individuals, so it’s difficult to apply them to any single individual like Donald Trump. In addition, most of Gentile’s characteristics have multiple sub-elements, making a determination of whether or not an individual qualifies as a fascist even more complicated. And several of his characteristics only apply after a fascist movement has taken power.

Given these complications, it’s reasonable to expect that comparing Trump to Gentile’s list of characteristics will result in fewer strong matches to Trump’s policy statements and a lower confidence in any conclusions we draw from Gentile’s characteristics. Continue reading

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Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Four

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part four of a series.

FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 26:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, TX – FEBRUARY 26: (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Click here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Kevin Passmore

Cardiff University’s Kevin Passmore developed another definition of fascism for his book “Fascism: A Very Short Introduction.” The entire definition is available in Passmore’s book and at Wikipedia, but the most important parts are addressed below.

Fascism is a set of ideologies and practices that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community.

Trump’s rhetoric is intended to appeal to a definition of national identity that is white and racist. In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump said that “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice,” which is coded racist rhetoric as well. Note that Trump didn’t contrast “failing” with succeeding, but rather “safe.” The implication is that failing schools are dangerous and that safe schools are succeeding. And where are most “failing” and dangerous schools located? In minority neighborhoods and in urban areas. His anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim positions are similarly coded to appeal to whites who are afraid of brown people moving into their neighborhoods. Continue reading

Image Credit:Nigel Parry for CNN

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Three

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part three of a series.

trump-sloganClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Roger Griffin

Roger Griffin, historian and author of “The Nature of Fascism” and numerous other fascism-related books in the 1990s and 2000s, has defined fascism as follows:

Fascism is a political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra nationalism.(from “The Palingenetic Core of Fascist Ideology,” a chapter in A. Campi (Ed.), Che cos’è il fascismo? Interpretazioni e prospecttive di richerche (pp. 97-122). Rome: Ideazione editrice, 2003., via libraryofsocialscience.com)

This statement is Griffin’s attempt to create an objective definition of a “fascist minimum,” the minimum criteria that all fascisms share. Unfortunately, this single sentence is so nuanced and uses enough academic language that it takes Griffin several pages to explain what it means. Continue reading

Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Two

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part two of a series.

Donald Trump, Public IdiotClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Stanley G. Payne

Stanley Payne is a historian from the University of Wisconsin and the author of “Fascism: Comparison and Definition.” He has generated a list of 13 characteristics that he thinks are necessary for a political movement or ideology to be fascist, and he classified them into three groups – ideology and goals, negations, and style/organization.

  • Espousal of an idealist, vitalist, and voluntaristic philosophy, normally involving the attempt to realize a new modern, self-determined, and secular culture
  • Creation of a new nationalist authoritarian state not based on traditional principles or models
  • Organization of a new highly regulated, multiclass, integrated national economic structure, whether called national corporatist, national socialist, or national syndicalist
  • Positive evaluation and use of, or willingness to use violence and war
  • The goal of empire, expansion, or a radical change in the nation’s relationship with other powers

Trump shows aspects of the first characteristic in that he supports an idealistic philosophy in pursuit of a new modern and self-determined culture that is rooted in the idea of American exceptionalism. Voluntarism is “a theory that conceives will to be the dominant factor in experience or in the world,” and while Trump’s language has echos of the national and personal ambition and aggression that comes with the concept of Will to Power as described by Nietzche, Trump hasn’t explicitly called for his supporters to exert their will upon the nation to change it. Continue reading

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part One

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part one of a series.

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for  president during a rally at his Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York, on Tuesday June 16, 2015. Mr. Trump also announced the release of a financial statement that he says denotes a personal net worth of over 8 billion dollars.

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president during a rally at his Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York, on Tuesday June 16, 2015.

Click here for all the other parts of this series

In 1994, I took a class titled “The History of Fascism and Nazism.” It remains one of the most profound educational experiences of my life, and ever since then I have been extremely careful about referring to someone as a Nazi. In a 2010 post about my experiences in this class, I wrote

This class taught me that some things are just so bad, so legitimately evil, that making bullshit comparisons cheapens that evil. And I cannot stand by and let true, legitimate evil be cheapened. As a result, if I ever use the word “Nazi,” you know I mean it and I’m not joking.

And as my record here at S&R has shown, I have taken many people to task for misusing references to the Nazis (and, more recently, to fascism in general).

The class also taught me to be on the lookout for the rise of fascism in the United States, and impressed upon me an ethical responsibility to identify fascism if I ever saw it. I see fascism in the candidacy and person of Donald Trump.

Let me be perfectly clear, so there is no possibility of confusion about where I stand on this point: Donald Trump is a fascist.

This eight part essay explains how I have reached this conclusion, based first on what I learned from my “History of Fascism and Nazism” class in 1994, followed by an investigation of historians’ more recent expert opinions on what characteristics define fascism. Continue reading

Cthulhu Republicans

Is Paul Ryan a liar, or does he actually believe his own bullshit?

Last night I listened to the bulk of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Today I was able to review it via a transcript at Time. Both times I was struck by just how much effort Ryan put into saying white is black, up is down, and ignorance is strength. After reviewing it again, I really want to know something about Ryan – is he a liar, or does he actually believe the bullshit he was saying last night? Continue reading

CATEGORY: Guns

To reduce gun violence, make gun owners and sellers liable for violence committed with their guns

GunShowLet me start this post with an admission. If I had the power, I’d happily ban assault weapons completely. I’d also round up the majority of assault-style weapons presently in circulation and destroy them, along with any magazine larger than about five rounds (if you need more than that for hunting, you’re doing it wrong). I think they’re disgusting and useful for only one thing – killing other human beings – and that every argument in favor of owning assault-style weapons (they’re safer, they’re lighter, and they’re great for varmint hunting are a few of the ones I’ve seen offered since Orlando) is bullshit. The fact that AR-15 style weapons were renamed “modern sport rifles” specifically to circumvent the original assault weapon ban tells me that even the gun makers know that they’re selling assault weapons, not hunting rifles. I’ll probably vote to support a ban in the future, and this is one of the many issues on which I grade candidates when I vote. I suspect that many folks reading this are probably very happy that I don’t have this power.

However, I recognize that a ban may not be politically feasible at this time, and even a ban won’t fix everything. Gun crimes, even mass shootings, would still occur- the murderers would simply buy their weapons from the black market or steal them. But there is something that would help reduce the number of deaths due to guns overall, not just gun crimes. Suicides, accidental discharges, and crimes all would be reduced by what I’m about to propose:

Make gun sellers and owners criminally liable for gun crimes committed using their weapons. Continue reading

CATEGORY: PoliticsLawGovernment

Bernie Sanders and the Nevada Democratic Party Convention

There are two stories to be told about the Nevada Democratic Party Convention – what really happened, and Sanders’ response to it. The first story is one of confusion, partisanship, passion, and poor choices. The second leads me to conclude that, while I still support most of Sanders’ policies, I can no longer support Sanders himself.

Hillary Clinton & Bernie SandersI first heard about insanity at the Nevada Democratic Party Convention via my Facebook feed. I have a lot of friends and associates on Facebook who are supporters of Bernie Sanders, and others who are supporters of Hillary Clinton. And so I got two radically different perspectives on what happened.

The Sanders supporters alleged that the Nevada Democratic Party was corrupt, had been bought, and were “in the tank” for Clinton, and they largely supported the disruptions that Sanders’ delegates caused at the state convention. The Clinton supporters, on the other hand, alleged that Sanders’ delegates were rude, that they had tried to pervert the popular vote (and the associated number of delegates to the national convention), that they became violent, and that they’d issued death threats.

Given the divergence of these claims, it’s tempting to say that reality has to be somewhere in the middle. The problem is that it’s entirely possible for both Clinton and Sanders supporters claims to be true, false, or true and false at the same time. After some digging, it’s pretty clear that reality is a confusing mix of fact, fiction, and partisanship resulting in a circular firing squad. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Climate

Newsmax has misrepresented the OISM’s Global Warming Petition Project 18 times since May 2008

Newsmax’s coverage of the Global Warming Petition Project is consistently biased and inaccurate.

For other posts in this series: click here for data and debunking, here for GWPP mentions by US politicians, and here for conservative/libertarian media references.

Newsmax Logo (credit: Newsmax.com)

Newsmax Logo (credit: Newsmax.com)

On May 19, 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine published their latest version of the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). The GWPP has collected 31,487 signatures from people whom the organizers claim are each qualified to have an informed opinion on the subject of industrial climate disruption1 (aka global warming or climate change). S&R demonstrated that this was not the case back in 2010 and we’ve been running updates to the original investigation since October, 2015.

Since the GWPP was updated in May 2008, libertarian and conservative media outlets have been spreading the GWPP’s false narrative – that there are more so-called “scientists” who reject industrial climate disruption than there are scientists convinced by nearly 200 years of science and overwhelming data that climate disruption is real.

S&R recently identified the following as the top 15 conservative and libertarian news outlets.

  1. Fox News (foxnews.com)
  2. Drudge Report (drudgereport.com)
  3. Independent Journal Review (ijreview.com)
  4. The Blaze (theblaze.com)
  5. Wall Street Journal (wsj.com)
  6. Breitbart (breitbart.com)
  7. New York Post (nypost.com)
  8. Newsmax (newsmax.com)
  9. The Daily Caller (dailycaller.com)
  10. Pajamas Media/Instapundit (pjmedia.com)
  11. WND/World Net Daily (wnd.com)
  12. The Washington Times (washingtontimes.com)
  13. Western Journalism (westernjournalism.com)
  14. Hot Air (hotair.com)
  15. National Review Online (nationalreview.com)

The sites that have been struck out have been the subject of previous S&R reports. Newsmax reporters and columnists referenced the GWPP 16 times between May 2008 and December 2014. In addition, two native advertisements masquerading as Newsmax articles ran from November 2014 until late 2015 or Early 2016. These 18 mentions make Newsmax the second most prolific purveyor of GWPP misinformation.

Early mentions by Phil Brennan

On the day that the OISM published the GWPP, May 19, 2008, only two of the top 15 conservative media sites ran with the story – Newsmax and WND (formerly WorldNetDaily). Phil Brennan a Newsmax commentator who died in 2014 at the age of 87, wrote that first column, as well as three more in the following months.

In his first column, Brennan incorrectly identified “31,072 Americans with university degrees in science” as scientists. As S&R detailed previously, a math teacher isn’t a scientist even if she has a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. Similarly, a stay-at-home dad with a veterinary degree isn’t a scientist either. Furthermore, Arthur Robinson, president of the OISM and primary organizer of the GWPP, has never publicly disclosed his criteria for deciding which university degrees are qualified to have an informed opinion on climate science vs. those that do not, even when explicitly asked to do so.

In this early article we see the genesis of the GWPP’s false, anti-consensus narrative that has come to dominate conservative and libertarian media sites. Brennan writes that Robinson’s goal with the GWPP is “to demonstrate that the claim of ‘settled science’ and an overwhelming ‘consensus’ in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climate damage is wrong.” And Brennan incorrectly claims that the GWPP “shows that no such consensus or settled science exists.” S&R has shown that the GWPP’s counter-consensus claims are false regardless of how the signatures are analyzed – by comparison to the total number of degrees conferred, by comparison to the total employment in the GWPP’s selected fields, and by comparison to the total membership in professional organizations.

Finally, Brennan wrote that the precursor to the GWPP, the Oregon Petition, was distributed in 2001, when in actuality the signatures were gathered in 1997 and 1998. The most likely explanation for this mistake is laziness or faulty memory on the part of an octogenarian, but when easily verifiedfacts like this are missed or go uncorrected, it does raise concerns about whether or not Brennan’s “facts” can be trusted.

About a month later, Brennan published his second column on the subject of the GWPP. In this case, Brennan spent most of his column creating straw men, engaging in an illogical ad hominem argument against Al Gore, and spouting climate change “facts” that are actually wrong (and that were widely known to be wrong in 2008 when Brennan wrote them). In this commentary, Brennan writes that Gore is only “allegedly credible” and goes on to say that Gore “insists that the [climate] science is settled,” supposedly flying “in the face of the 31,000 plus scientists who have signed statements that declared his theory humbug.”

S. Fred Singer, tobacco scientist-for-hire (credit: guardian.com)

S. Fred Singer, tobacco scientist-for-hire (credit: guardian.com)

Brennan’s last two columns on the subject of the GWPP were on July 3rd and July 7th, 2009, and they present two slightly different versions of a single interview with climate disruption denier and former scientist-for-hire for the tobacco industry, S. Fred Singer. In both cases, Brennan repeats Singer’s comments about the GWPP:

‘When you have 31,000 scientists signing the Oregon petition saying they disagree with the current wisdom that humans are producing increased warming, it speaks for itself. It’s true that the 31,000 are not all climate scientists. There are not that many [climate scientists] in the world.

However, it does show you that the science is not settled.’

By July 2009, climate realists2 knew that the GWPP’s counter-consensus narrative was false. Given Singer has spent the last ten to twenty years focused on denying the reality of industrial climate disruption, it’s very unlikely that he was unaware of the many serious criticisms of the GWPP.

Furthermore, Singer is not a trustworthy source. He has made a career of denying science on behalf of U.S. corporations and industry groups. For example, he was paid $20,000 by the Alexis de Toqueville Institution for the production of a pro-tobacco research paper that he then promoted with members of Congress. And Singer claimed in 2001 that he hadn’t been supported by an oil company in 20 years, yet ExxonMobil donated $10,000 to the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) that Singer founded in 1990 and ran until January, 2015. There are many more examples of Singer’s dishonesty in the exhaustively researched “Merchants of Doubt,” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.

GWPP in Climategate and Deepwater Horizon commentaries

In late 2009, a several thousand cherry-picked private emails sent between climate scientists were illegally published by a hacker. This event came to be known as “Climategate,” and even though seven different investigations performed by multiple universities and government organizations in two different countries cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing, Climategate continues to be a thorn in the sides of climate scientists.

Muir-Russel panel review of the "Climategate" emails.

Muir-Russel panel review of the “Climategate” emails.

Shortly after the publication of the emails, David Limbaugh wrote a commentary that took the Obama administration to task, specifically Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs. While the commentary falsely accuses climate scientists of fraud and spins conspiracy theories about the scientists’ motives, Limbaugh manages to indirectly mention the GWPP too. Limbaugh wrote

The intellectually honest can’t deny there is widespread debate over the existence of man-made catastrophic global warming. More than 31,000 scientists, 9,000 of whom have Ph.D.s, signed a petition urging our government to reject the Kyoto Protocol….

As mentioned above, S&R published our initial debunking of the GWPP in August, 2009, and S&R was not the first site to describe the GWPP’s many fatal flaws. The fact that the GWPP signers are not all scientists and that the GWPP presents a false narrative are easily found and understood by anyone who bothers to look, and Limbaugh should have. It is difficult to say whether Limbaugh’s “intellectually honest” insult is a result of personal bias, lack of experience reporting on climate, or hypocrisy. What is certain is that he presented factually inaccurate information, and as a result he did his readers a disservice.

Newsmax published another Climategate-focused commentary on January 3, 2010. While there is no byline for the commentary, it focuses on an interview with the former director of the National Hurricane Center, 84-year old retired meteorologist Neil Frank. Frank is quoted as saying that

Several years ago two scientists at the University of Oregon became so concerned about the overemphasis on man-made global warming that they put a statement on their Web site and asked for people’s endorsement; 32,000 have signed the petition, including more than 9,000 Ph.Ds.

Photo of OISM facility in Cave Junction, Oregon (credit: OISM.org)

Photo of OISM facility in Cave Junction, Oregon (credit: OISM.org)

Frank is referring to the GWPP, but he got his facts wrong. S&R investigated the associations of OISM’s faculty (several of whom are deceased) and of the GWPP’s primary organizer, Arthur Robinson. We found no association with the University of Oregon. The OISM itself is based in Cave Junction, Oregon (photo at right), so it’s possible that Frank was merely confused about their association.

Another commentator for Newsmax, David A. Patten, mentioned the GWPP and Robinson directly in a August 21, 2010 commentary on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Patten’s entire commentary is an example of sloppy and illogical thinking (specifically the non-sequitor logical fallacy, since it doesn’t follow that the Earth’s response to industrial emissions of greenhouse gasses will have any relationship to the Gulf of Mexico’s response to an oil spill), including fact that Patten interviewed Robinson, who has no identifiable expertise in either oil spills or the biology of the Gulf of Mexico. The only apparent reason to interview Robinson is because he’s a “tireless promotor” of the GWPP’s false anti-consensus narrative, and Patten was repeating that narrative in his commentary.

Four years and a United Nations climate conference later…

Following Paten’s commentary, there are no mentions of the GWPP outside of reader comments until Cheryl K. Chumley writes about it on May 20, 2014, over four years later. In an article titled “Climate Change Remains Unsettled, Say 31,072 Scientists,” Chumley presents a litany of debunked myths, biased information, and logical fallacies as fact, yet she wasn’t even able to get the number of signatures correct – 31,487 as of August 2008, nearly six years earlier. And as with nearly every mention of the GWPP, Chumley misrepresents the signers as “31,072 U.S. scientists” and claims that more than “9,000 of the petition’s signatories have a Ph.D. in a scientific field.”
As S&R has pointed out repeatedly, just because someone has a minimum Bachelors of Science degree in a field doesn’t mean that a) that person is a scientist or b) that the field has anything to do with climate. And while the GWPP’s organizers claims that 9,029 PhDs signed the petition, they don’t provide a breakdown of how many signers in each field had PhDs. Given that the vast majority of GWPP signers are not climate experts, it’s very likely that the vast majority of PhD signers are not climate experts.

There is often a spike in articles casting doubts on the reality of industrial climate disruption in the weeks leading up to a major United Nations climate conference. Mentions of the GWPP spiked in late October, 2010, about a month before a UN climate conference took place in Cancun, Mexico. The first of these was a short October 26, 2014 article titled “Global Warming is Fake? These 7 Scientists Think Humans Are Not to Blame.” In this article Karen Ridder mentions the GWPP before naming the seven scientists. But in a break from previous Newsmax articles and commentaries, Ridder wrote that the signatures represented “people self-identifying as ‘scientists’ who opposed the idea of energy rationing proposed by the Kyoto Treaty….” In addition, Ridder pointed out that the GWPP has faced criticism because “some say the people who signed the petition were not qualified to make such a statement.”

The next day, Newsmax ran another short article pointing readers at seven websites that deny the reality of industrial climate disruption. Number 6 is the GWPP, and the Newsmax summary repeats the common misconception that the GWPP signers are all scientists. And on the next day, October 28, Greg Richter pointed Newsmax readers to a Fox News interview of John Coleman by Megyn Kelly. S&R has already addressed this interview in our investigation of Fox’s mentions of the GWPP.

Finally, Newsmax published an article by Jerry Shaw during the UN conference. Shaw’s article not only led with a screenshot from the GWPP’s website but also claimed that the GWPP’s false anti-consensus narrative was the top key argument against global warming. And again, Shaw misidentified the signers of the GWPP as “scientists.”

Alana Marie Burke’s GWPP series

On December 18 and 22, 2014, Alana Marie Burke published a series of four articles that investigated the GWPP. They are titled:

Each of Burke’s articles repeats the incorrect claim that the GWPP signers are all scientists, and each article has many examples of subtly misleading language. But each of her articles also points out that the GWPP has its critics.

In her first article, Burke asks what the purpose of the GWPP is and then quotes Robinson repeating his usual, false anti-consensus narrative. She also writes that the signatures represent “qualified Americans,” a statement that is questionable at best. And she writes that the signatures “seem to demonstrate that there is a lack of consensus on the issue.” Yet she again points out that the GWPP has been widely criticized.

In her second article, Burke writes that the purpose of the petition was to show that “there is not a true consensus on the science of global warming,” repeating the GWPP’s false narrative. Yet the bulk of the article is devoted to criticisms of the GWPP by organizations such as the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Bill Moyers’ company. She accurately points out that the GWPP “has been declared flawed, fake, and full of misleading claims” by its critics.

Burke’s third article is largely a set of Tweets both supporting and criticizing the GWPP. In her introduction to the list of Tweets, however, Burke sets up the reader with a “on the one hand, on the other hand” style that favors the GWPP’s false narrative by giving it the benefit of the doubt. She also mistakenly identifies the signers of the GWPP as all having “advanced degrees related to science.” The term “advanced degree” only applies to those signers who have Master’s degrees or PhDs. Slightly more than a third of signers actually have Bachelors degrees in a scientific field.

In her last article, however, she went the farthest and wrote that “the petition does seem to have achieved one of its main goals: to refute claims that there is a 97 percent scientific consensus on the science of global warming.” Given that most of the signers are not climate experts and that the total number of signatures represent a tiny minority of the people who could have signed the GWPP, Burke’s claim is false. Yet again she spent most of the article on petitions that supposedly counter the GWPP’s.

All in all, her articles are overwhelmingly favorable to the GWPP. In every case she repeats the false, anti-consensus narrative that Robinson and his allies have been spreading since 2008, and in every case she structures her article to give the GWPP or its supporters the first and last word. Yet as inaccurate and biased as her articles are, they also represent the closest thing to fair and accurate journalism published by Newsmax to date.

Deceptive sponsored content by Tom Luongo

Tom Luongo's "native advertising" masquerading as a Newsmax investigative report.

Tom Luongo’s “native advertising” masquerading as a Newsmax investigative report.

Burke’s articles were the last ones published by Newsmax to mention the GWPP. But they weren’t the last articles published on Newsmax. That dubious honor belongs to three related “articles” written by former University of Florida chemist turned investment advisor, trader, and Newsmax editor Tom Luongo. The problem with the articles is that none of them is an example of journalism – each is an example of “native advertising” (aka “promoted posts” or “sponsored content”). The headlines are written to imply that what follows is the result of investigative journalism: “Banned ‘White Paper’ Proves Global Warming is a Dirty Scam,” “Scientist Confesses: “Global Warming a $22 Billion Scam,” and an alternative version of the second advertisement that is subtitled “A Breaking Report from Newsmax Media” (see image) In this case, Luongo was selling discounted memberships to his “Cold Truth Initiative,” and he even wanted to send you a copy of John Casey’s Dark Winter “(a $29 value)”, a book that supposedly exposes the grand climate conspiracy and predicts the end of the civilization for any nation that is unprepared. In fact, one of the promoted posts written by Luongo is nearly 7600 words long, 6000 of which are the usual half-truths, deceptions, misinformation, and logical fallacies used to deny the reality of industrial climate disruption. The last 1600 words are nothing more than a long winded advertisement.

These native advertisements showed up online for the first time in November, 2014. When S&R originally discovered them in April 2015 (while researching a post criticizing the editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette for misinforming their readers), the advertisements appeared to have been published the prior day. S&R later discovered that Google searches always indicated that the advertisements had been published the day before the Google search was conducted. However, this deceptive dating of the advertisements stopped sometime between early November, 2015 and February 2016.

Luongo refers to the GWPP without mentioning it by name in both advertisements. In both cases he falsely implies that the petition was signed in response to the Tweet by President Obama that said “97% of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Luongo went so far in one as to write that the petition was signed “in outrage.”

The GWPP was published in May, 2008. President Obama’s “97%” Tweet was sent on May 16, 2013, five years after the GWPP was published. Barring time travel, it is not possible for the signatures to have been gathered in response to an event that hadn’t happened yet. Luongo has either made a gross error or he’s lying. Combined with the deceptive way that the advertisements were disguised as authentic Newsmax articles, it’s clear that no-one can trust the so-called facts that pepper Luongo’s three Newsmax advertisements.

Since May 2008, Newsmax has published 18 articles, commentaries, and sponsored content (aka advertising masquerading as original Newsmax reporting) that mention or reference the Global Warming Petition Project. Each time, Newsmax repeated one or both of the false claims that underlie the GWPP – that everyone who signed the petition is qualified to have an expert opinion on the subject of climate science, and that the number of signatures demonstrates that there isn’t actually a consensus on the reality of industrial climate disruption. In only a few cases were critics of the GWPP’s narrative even mentioned.

As we’ve seen, most of the articles have errors of fact that could have been corrected with a quick Google search, by either the authors or the Newsmax editors responsible for publishing the articles. And in every case, Newsmax’s publications are clearly biased in favor of the GWPP’s false claims and false narrative. That Newsmax has published such biased and inaccurate misinformation 18 times makes it the second most prolific spreader of the GWPP’s false narrative among the top 15 conservative/libertarian media sites.

Notes

  1. Industrial climate disruption, aka global warming or anthropogenic climate change, is a scientific theory that climate change is occurring, that industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the dominant cause of those changes, and that the changes will be disruptive to global ecosystems and human societies.
  2. Climate realists are individuals who accept the scientific theory, backed by 180 years of discover and overwhelming data, that industrial climate disruption is real. Individuals who deny the evidence often claim the term “realist,” but it is a misnomer.
Climate2

Five more conservative media sites have misrepresented OISM’s Global Warming Petition Project

The Independent Journal Review, The Blaze, the Wall Street Journal, Breitbart.com, and the New York Post have collectively misrepresented the Global Warming Petition Project eight times since 2008.

Comparison between total U.S. Department of Education Bachelor of Science degrees and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

Comparison between total U.S. Department of Education Bachelor of Science degrees and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

For other posts in this series: click here for data and debunking, here for GWPP mentions by US politicians, and here for conservative/libertarian media references.

In 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine published their latest version of the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). Since then, libertarian and conservative media outlets have played a key part in spreading a false narrative created by the GWPP – that there are more so-called “scientists” who reject industrial climate disruption1 than there are scientists convinced by nearly 200 years of science and overwhelming data that climate disruption is real.

S&R recently identified the following as the top 15 conservative and libertarian news outlets.

  1. Fox News (foxnews.com)
  2. Drudge Report (drudgereport.com)
  3. Independent Journal Review (ijreview.com)
  4. The Blaze (theblaze.com)
  5. Wall Street Journal (wsj.com)
  6. Breitbart (breitbart.com)
  7. New York Post (nypost.com)
  8. Newsmax (newsmax.com)
  9. The Daily Caller (dailycaller.com)
  10. Pajamas Media/Instapundit (pjmedia.com)
  11. WND/World Net Daily (wnd.com)
  12. The Washington Times (washingtontimes.com)
  13. Western Journalism (westernjournalism.com)
  14. Hot Air (hotair.com)
  15. National Review Online (nationalreview.com)

S&R has already addressed mentions of the GWPP by the three that have been struck through. The next five most popular news outlets (bold above) are the Independent Journal Review (IJReview), The Blaze, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Breitbart.com, and the New York Post (NYP). Collectively, these five news outlets were responsible for eight separate mentions of the GWPP since 2008 and one notable mention of the previous version of the GWPP, the Oregon Petition, in 2005. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders

Bernie or Hillary – a stark choice for the Democratic Party

sanders_hillary.jpgBernie Sanders is an idealist, arguably a political outsider, and someone who wants an economic and social revolution in the United States. Hillary Clinton is a pragmatist, arguably the quintessential political insider, and someone who wants to build on the good things that have happened during the Obama administration. The choice that the Democratic Party has this primary season is stark, and I find that both fascinating and terrifying.

Bernie’s idealism is powerful, and I recognize the draw of it. Continue reading

Climate2

Top conservative media sites regularly misrepresent OISM’s Global Warming Petition Project

Of the top 15 most read conservative/libertarian media sites, Fox News has mentioned the Global Warming Petition Project only five times since 2008.

Comparison of Department of Education graduation data for 1970-2013 and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for 2013 to the number of Global Warming Petition Project signatures [Corrected]

Comparison of Department of Education graduation data for 1970-2013 and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for 2013 to the number of Global Warming Petition Project signatures [Corrected]

For other posts in this series: click here for data and debunking, here for GWPP mentions by US politicians, and here for conservative/libertarian media references.

The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine published the most recent version of the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP) in 2008, The purpose of the petition was to create a narrative, since shown to be false, that the 31,487 signers disproved the opinion surveys showing an overwhelming consensus of climate experts who are convinced that climate change is real.

Since 2008, six surveys of expert opinion have been published in the peer-reviewed literature, using different statistical methodologies and asking slightly different survey questions, with the result that the lowest level of consensus found in any of them was 88% of respondents, with most finding consensus of about 97%. Yet the GWPP continues to be referenced widely among conservatives and libertarians even though its counter-consensus narrative has been shown to be false – the GWPP signers aren’t all scientists, the GWPP’s criteria for being called a scientist is absurd, the signers are a tiny minority of the people who earned bachelors of science degrees even assuming the GWPP’s criteria are reasonable (and thus giving the GWPP the greatest possible benefit of doubt), the signers are also a tiny minority of the people working in the GWPP’s selected fields as of 2013, and the signers would be a small minority of the members of several professional societies even if every GWPP signer was a member (which is extremely unlikely).

Up until now, S&R has focused on disproving the GWPP’s false narrative and on exposing the individuals who have repeated that false narrative in Congress either as members of Congress or in Congressional testimony. This article marks the start of the next phase of our investigation in which we focus on the organizations and individuals responsible for spreading and maintaining the false narrative. Continue reading

Climate2

Two Senators and three supposed climate experts repeat errors or lies about the Global Warming Petition Project

Senators Michael Crapo and Orrin Hatch have implied that they agree with the Global Warming Petition Project’s false, anti-consensus narrative while climate “experts” J. Scott Amstrong, Kesten C. Green, and Patrick Moore gave wrong and misleading testimony on the subject.

Comparison between total Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 employment and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

Comparison between total Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 employment and Global Warming Petition Project data derived from the Qualifications of Signers page (accessed 8/22/2015)

For other posts in this series: click here for data and debunking, here for GWPP mentions by US politicians, and here for conservative/libertarian media references.

Up until now, S&R has focused on the members of Congress who have explicitly mentioned the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s (OISM) Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP) in the course of their official duties or their reelection campaigns. But there are other, less obvious ways to indicate agreement with the GWPP’s false narrative that the signers represent a counter-consensus against the reality of industrial climate disruption (aka human-caused global warming or climate change). S&R found that two Senators, Michael Crapo of Idaho and Orrin Hatch of Utah, have indicated that they agree with the false narrative without explicitly saying so.

In addition, three men have given testimony to Congress that the GWPP’s signers disprove the many peer-reviewed studies that have found an overwhelming consensus that climate change is occurring, that the changes are largely a result of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, and that the changes will be disruptive to global ecosystems and human society. Those three men are J. Scott Armstrong, Kesten C. Green (who testified together), and Patrick Moore. Continue reading