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Exhuming McCarthy

The incoming Congress may cause Americans to view some of our nation's past moments -- like the McCarthy era, or maybe even the Salem witch trials -- more favorably. There's increasing evidence that the GOP-led House will be taking its medieval crusade against modern science to the hearing rooms of Capitol Hill, embarassing the nation in the eyes of the world and -- for what it's worth -- probably destroying our reputation as a place for high-tech firms to do business:

Compromise on renewable energy standards is possible, but the posturing between Rep. Joe Barton, the chairman of the energy committee, and the administration, may make this terribly difficult.  The GOP plans to hold high profile hearings examining the alleged "scientific fraud" behind global warming, a sleeper issue in this election that motivated the base quite a bit.

While some experts aren't worried about such hearings on the theory that the scientists would blow the right-wing politicians away, I'm not so sure that's how it will get spun on Fox News Channel and the other places where low-information voters get their low information. Here's a spot-on comment from the blog of New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin:

Mike Roddy, I understand, although I don't share, your "bring it on" attitude regarding the Republican threat to investigate Michael Mann and other climate scientists. You have the guts to fight back against powerful interests. But this is not a TV show, it's a witch hunt. It's not about Intelligent responses and informed judgments; it's about creating an atmosphere of fear and loathing. It's a very dangerous prospect.

As for Andy, will you rise up to defend climate scientists if such an investigation happens? Or will you do a play by play as if it's a game of competing points of view? (Like the post offering dueling cartoonists?) Do you have a clue about the legacy of McCarthyism, the careers ruined, the long, dark shadow it cast over American political discourse for decades. Ask your friend Pete Seeger. Do you think it will stop with Michael Mann and James Hansen? What happens when they go after you? Rush already has you in his sights.

Of course, the witch hunt hearings could cause regular God-fearing and decent Americans to rise up and say, "My God, what have we done?" Kind of doubt that, though. Have a great weekend -- I hear the climate is getting chillier for a change.