MannSteynMacFrank

Over at my other blog I’m trying to correlate variations in human energy consumption with variations in other measurables, such as GDP, CO2 emissions etc. All good fun and I love it!

But I love having a little fun, too. And what could be more fun in early January than settling down to watch the fireworks display provided by climate scientist Michael Mann and his lawsuit against conservative publications–and commentator Mark Steyn’s countersuit against Mann?

Michael Mann

Mann is suing for defamation of character after Mark Steyn contributed an article to National Review saying Mann’s Hockey Stick was fraudulent. (Mann has included the Competitive Enterprise Institute as a defendant after CEI writer Rand Simberg wrote that Mann ‘tortured and molested data.)

Steyn and Simberg did write these things. However, Michael Mann has worked very hard to become a public figure. To a C-level extent he has succeeded. Public figures should expect criticism, according to U.S. courts and doctrine. Writers should be free to use sometimes intemperate language in that criticism. Furthermore, Mann’s suit argues that he was called a fraud, when in fact only part of his work was called fraudulent. Mann himself has tossed the word ‘fraud’ around casually about other opponents of his work and used even more incendiary language at times.

Steyn defends himself here.

The inimitable Steve McIntyre has done most of the heavy lifting in showing why Mann’s lawsuit should be tossed out. If you’re interested in a more detailed account, see here.

stevemcintyre

 

I’m writing because this controversy is what introduced me to Mark Steyn, an embarrassing admission for someone who claims to read widely. I’ve been reading quit a bit of what he puts up on SteynOnline.

 

Steyn

He’s a really good writer with a talent for lampooning his opponents–Michael Mann got off lightly, at least until he filed suit. (Steyn has unloaded with both barrels since.) He’s a good wordsmith and knows how to make his case.

He’s also really, really conservative. And I’m really, really liberal. This presents me with a dilemma–and not for the first time.

Mark Steyn is correct (in my opinion) in what he writes about Michael Mann and the litigation the two are going through. Almost completely correct.

And it bothers me that my ‘side’ (progressive liberals in general) are getting it wrong on this issue while someone like Mark Steyn, who apparently thinks that Muslims will take over the West by the simple strategy of moving to western countries and out-breeding their hosts, can get it right on the politics behind the climate change controversy.

While my favorite liberal pundits (Paul Krugman, Kevin Drumm, etc.) are parroting platitudes that they must have culled from Grist, writers like Mark Steyn are skewering those platitudes mercilessly. It’s embarrassing.

Michael Mann became the darling of the Hollywood clique of eco-activists, those who want to use their celebrity to advance a ’cause’ and have found that cause in climate change. Climate change has become the favorite cause of many who don’t have the time or inclination to think through the issue.

As someone who is not a skeptic, who believes that climate change is real and something we need to address, I am hugely embarrassed at what is said about it by people ostensibly on my side.

As a progressive liberal, I am peeved that a conservative writer finds it so easy to score points and point out the flaws in what is said by my fellow liberals.

Being a liberal isn’t easy.

I’ll close this post by noting that Mark Steyn, who I think is wrong on almost everything else… also regularly writes really good prose poems about the history of popular music that are just a delight to read. It looks like 2015 is going to be the year he celebrates Sinatra–check it out.

Frank Sinatra

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32 responses to “MannSteynMacFrank

  1. Tom, I have the same problem, but I would like to phrase it differently. I know a lot of hard core leftists who think that CAGW is a crock. I met a pile of them at the last two conferences I went to. It’s really the self appointed leaders of the left or the well financed leaders of the left who are leading the movement off a cliff.
    A case in point: There is a site named after the English word for a weasel by an Englishman named for the Italian word for a white kidney bean. He wants us to panic about co2. He ran for office on the Green Party. But lately on his site he is getting off topic and showing his true colors. He’s a leftist in name only (LINO?) On issues where it counts, I would call him extreme right.
    Then again, I could never explain to most of your readers what I mean by faux left. You just have to live it.

  2. Fan of Krugman eh? I gather he’s now an expert on the climate as well as the economy. He must have been hard at work behind the scenes.

    • Hi Jeremy

      To me it’s like night and day, the difference between what he writes about the economy compared to what he writes about climate change. Just sayin ‘.

      • How much do you actually know about the economic issues that Krugman writes about? Have you looked at that set of issues in the same level of detail as you have on climate? Do you consider the possibility that someone like Krugman (or the other people you mentioned) might be wrong not just on climate?

        I call this the “respected newspaper” phenomenon. You consider a publication as reputable until it decides to write about an issue that you personally have experience with – and it suddenly becomes obvious they are clueless hacks.

        (FWIW I’m in the same position as you in terms of “sides” and my perception of them).

      • Hi BernD, I’m not an economist. But then, I’m not a climate scientist, either.

        I’ve read quite a bit on the subject–not as much as I’ve read about climate change. Krugman has been demonstrably correct on a number of important things–he earned his Nobel.

        It probably doesn’t hurt my opinion of him that he’s on the same side of the fence as I am regarding liberal solutions to a number of problems.

        It…just…hurts to see him write so wrongly about climate change.

      • Krugman earned the Nobel, but even on economics issues, his partisanship was taking precedence in his columns. When Clinton was President and pushing for changes to Social Security, he wrote, ‘Yes Social Security is in danger.’ When President Bush was promoting social security changes, ‘Not a crisis.’

      • Krugman lost a little bit of credibility with his $1,000B stimulus didn’t work as expected because it wasn’t large enough. I read him for awhile, but he started to really only be dispensing political talking points (“here’s what you need to know…”) and next to nothing he said could be discriminated from official DNC positions.

    • Well, if Krugman’s an expert on the climate, then so am I. Except I don’t tell the public I’m well versed in things I am not. Krugman just another bandwagon jumper. How can one respect somebody who behaves in such a\ manner, indeed, somebody who *seems* to be intelligent.

  3. You can be a Liberal and hold Conservative views at the same time. Margaret Thatcher was an example, she was hated by the old Conservatives when she took their little cosy club apart and introduced Free Market Economics eg let the Market decide. She wrested control of the London stockmarket away from vested interests as equally as she wrested control of manufacturing away from the Unions. What is more Liberal that that, the current left and rights want control. You may have more in common with Mark than you think.

  4. Yeah, but she did hire a certain Viscount Monckton…. 🙂

  5. You had some company, Tom, although he has since passed away. Cockburn was as notoriously good a polemicist on the left as Steyn is on the right:

    http://www.creators.com/opinion/alexander-cockburn/is-global-warming-a-sin.html

    • I corresponded with Alex Cockburn for a while. He was one of the old guard of the left who remembered how the nuclear lobby created CAGW. He was well versed in the science. He confided in me his fights with the editors at The Nation over their stance on it. The current leftright alignment on CAGW only dates from the 90’s.

  6. “And it bothers me that my ‘side’ (progressive liberals in general) are getting it wrong on this issue while someone like Mark Steyn, who apparently thinks that Muslims will take over the West by the simple strategy of moving to western countries and out-breeding their hosts, can get it right on the politics behind the climate change controversy.”

    I take it this was written before the news from Paris broke this morning, which proved their strategy has other less benign attributes.

    • Yes but the Liberal press will say its only 3 bad ones, its the Rel of Piece(s) you know, from the bombs.

    • Current European birth rates indicate that those countries with a significant Muslim population will have a majority Muslim population c2050. Many European countries have a birth rate below what is accepted as enough for a nation to survive , with Muslim birth rates being two or more times greater. Unless we stop pretending that Islam is not a problem, the worse that problem will get. The Left’s insistence that the Jihad is the fault of the West is
      beyond shameful.

      This is the only light in that darkness http://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2015/01/03/egypts-al-sisi-makes-extraordinary-speech-on-islam/

      • Tom

        First of all welcome back.

        Whilst agreeing with Steyn on climate you seemed to think he was wrong on most everything else. Potter Eaton, Jeremy and Tom mention the terrible events in France. Here are projected figures for Muslim populations now and by 2030.

        http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/28/muslim-population-country-projection-2030

        It makes sobering reading. Some might say that Steyn might be right on this as well and you ought to reappraise some more of your liberal views. A faith that can be, according to some liberal commentators in the press today, uncompromising, assertive and often intolerant of criticism (although everyone should not be unfairly tarred with the same brush) should set your liberal alarm bells ringing.

        Dragging this back to the subject, I know many in the UK Met Office and in the UK Environment Agency who do not buy into catastrophic man made climate change but they keep their heads down because they are concerned about the consequences as regards their jobs, promotion and respect from peers. Vitriol and law suits from whatever side does not help to stimulate a rational debate based on facts rather than models and advocacy for their point of view.

        tonyb

      • Guys–guys, wait a minnit. By 2030 Muslims may be 8% of Europe’s population–and that’s a problem? By 2030 Muslims may be 4.6% of the UK’s population–and that’s a problem? C’mon…

        And what happens to those European numbers if you pull out Albania and the former Yugoslavian countries? You end up with a lot of Muslims in Belgium and France… I think…

      • Tom

        if you look at the chart for the UK you will see those figures are correct but the intro was wrong. The UK population of Muslims will be some 8% in 2030. Already they are the majority or close to it in some cities. The result is a place that is unrecognisable as English.

        They are highly influential out of all proportion to their size and western politicians are afraid to offend them at the expense of watering down our own culture to accommodate their beliefs. The disregard by some immigrant groups of western values, by living as self contained enclaves replicating ‘home should set your alarm bells ringing as this affects Female rights, gay rights, Sharia law, ‘honour’ retribution, the ways of killing animals for meat etc.

        Free speech is being widely removed in order not to ‘offend’ certain groups and criticism of them is seen as punishable in law.

        I dislike extremes wherever it arises and want my liberal culture to predominate. In many fields that is becoming more problematic. That should worry you.

        As regards climate we see a polarisation not helped by legal action. I try to build bridges but am roundly criticised by some on ‘my’ side.

        tonyb
        .

    • Indeed. And, how will western media respond to this horrendous attack?
      1. They’ll all go out of their way to mock and criticize Islam in order to maintain their commitment to a free press.
      2. They will avoid criticizing Islam in order to avoid being attacked.

      My money is on #2.

      • I think it will be both, probably. The press is not monolithic in the West. What I am happy about so far is that the press has been quick to note that the vast majority of Muslims worldwide are as horrified by what happened in Paris as are non-Muslims.

    • The world, not just Paris, has a big problem with radical terrorists who are Muslims. China has problems with radical Muslims, Russia has problems, the Middle East has problems, Africa has problems. Australia, the U.S. and now Paris have terrorist incidents. I don’t want to minimize in any way what happened in Paris. Hell, my wife is from Paris. But two jihadi thugs gunning down 10 journalists and two cops is an incident. It’s a Bonnie and Clyde thing, not a revolution. And yes, I know that France has had a number of such incidents in the past few years.

      I visited Indonesia last year–the largest Muslim country in the world. They don’t have such a problem despite having a vibrant democracy and many secular habits and traditions.

      You can probably write a similar story about evangelicals of any religion and the extremes they go to to further their cause.

  7. The piece Steyn wrote about It Was A Very Good Year you linked to was just remarkably good. Thanks.

  8. Welcome back to western civilization Mr. Fuller. You missed absolutely nothing and the events since you left can be summarized as “more of the same, yawn”.

    Given the window to comment on liberal own goals, the latest sequence of thought police actions (getting someone fired for donating to an anti-gay marriage political cause, forcing university presidents to apologize for saying all lives matter, giving anyone veto power on commencement speeches, cops are racist regardless of the facts, etc.) is a bit humorous. This entire “never offend anyone” movement is one I am looking forward to going away ASAP. Oops, did I forget to include a trigger warning? Ha ha.

    I found this essay on tolerance from the liberal side pretty informed and enlightening.
    http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/

    On the topic du jour, I’m sure we will be lectured at length that the right publicly condemning Islamic Jihad is tantamount to hate speech, but the organized murder of civilians in the name of Islam is to be ignored because of…well something. We are intolerant of Islamaphobia intolerance, but tolerant of Islam’s intolerance. Recursive loop….core abort.

    • “Given the window to comment on liberal own goals, the latest sequence of thought police actions (getting someone fired for donating to an anti-gay marriage political cause, ”

      Taken to extreme in Northern Ireland, where single sex marriage is not legal, yet a baker was charged because they refused to bake a cake with a message on it supporting single sex marriage.

      The papers are full today of how the Charlie Hebdo massacre is an assault on free speech. That’s garbage. It was an assault on the practitioners of free speech. Very different. And her in the UK, we have the state who are the prime attackers of freedom of speech and thought. That it should come to this. As a baby boomer (and hence responsible for all the ills of society, apparently), I suspect our parents generation are spinning in their graves. The West is dying from within. We no longer know who we are or what we stand for. That’s when civilisations die.

  9. Welcome back, Tom! I will read your other recent writing and get caught up before I comment more. It is great to see you active once again.
    Best wishes for a fantastic 2015.

  10. Mark Steyn is a national treasure – if you are a Canadian. But seriously, he is a great writer and a welcome voice in a media where conservatives and sensible liberals are rarely allowed to be heard.

  11. I’ll close this post by noting that Mark Steyn, who I think is wrong on almost everything else… also regularly writes really good prose poems about the history of popular music that are just a delight to read.

    As a conservative, I have often found myself saying the same things about Christopher Hitchens.

    I also find myself wishing I was not on the same side as so many rigid libertarians. The free market is a wonderful thing but it doesn’t have magical powers.

    • I am often heard to remark that ‘the fools in town are on our side.’ Glad to know it’s true for both sides… 🙂

      On 13 January 2015 at 19:21, The Lukewarmer's Way wrote:

      >

  12. Really amusing to see a self-styled liberal defending Steyn, who’s made a living telling scurrilous tale tales about left-wingers (and studiously ignoring corruption and dishonesty on the right). When said liberal goes on to play silly denialist games on climate change, I smell a rat. Accusing a working scientist of fraud is libel, and Mann’s fame is limited to his role as a scientist. Mann’s work has been confirmed by independent studies and by investigations by scientific organizations– as has the basic evidence for human-caused climate change. Put it all together, and Mann has a good case. Libel cases are always a bit chancy, but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping to see Steyn lose, as he so richly deserves.

    • Would a liberal ever be anything but ‘self-styled?’

      Yes, Mann is now Klimatist to the Stars–that’s where his fame and future lies.

      Mann is suing Steyn, not because Steyn called Mann a fraud (although he has frequently done so since the suit was filed). Mann is suing Steyn because he called Mann’s work fraudulent.

      That’s more than a bit of difference.

      Mann has been exonerated by Penn State and the EPA. That’s dramatically different from saying his work has been confirmed. The investigations did not look at his work.

      The evidence for human-caused climate change is not an issue with regarding Mann. The Hockey Stick is two parts, blade and shaft.

      The blade is the recent rise in temperatures–the instrument record. It is not in question.

      Mann’s fraudulent practice was to graft that modern temperature record on to a shaft that he had filed down past recognition, making it flat by disappearing the Medieval Warming Period through Varve Control and singing Whistle Down the Pinecones.

      Human caused climate change is real. Michael Mann is an unethical jerk who has damaged science by his actions, both scientific and in the only court that matters–that of public perceptions of science overall and climate science in particular.

      Steyn understands that last sentence. Both amazing and amusing to watch the contortions alarmists resort to to avoid it.

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