December 14, 2009

Rick's nature trick: Hide the denial

So Professor Esenberg doesn't care for certain descriptive English words, as he indicates in his latest missive on what he's christened "Climatequiddick," which is apparently a light-hearted and cute allusion to the tragic drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969.

The careful reader will note that what has got Prof. Esenberg's dander up was this post, highlighting his false claim that compilers of a chart on the cover of a 1999 report of the World Meteorological Organization "combin[ed] two different measurements and pretend[ed] they are the same thing and mischaracteriz[ed] what data show."

This is the claim of Prof. Esenberg's with which I took issue. Except he avoids this and instead inventories a collection of vocabulary employed from time to time at this blog (which is part of the internets and tends occasionally to adopt its vernacular, although I don't believe I have ever used Ms. Kopechne as a figure of fun):
"Teabagger", "wingnut", "not very smart", "moron", "calumnist" "ignorant," "fraud," "dishonest," "lying," etc. You'd think that arrogance, if it must be expressed, should be earned, but I guess that "denializer" is not so bad.
This is supposed to be an argument, I guess, so please feel free to use the search function at the upper left corner to determine whatever context they were used in and if it was even me that was using them and not as part of a quotation from somebody else.

For example, "teabag," the verb, was coined by a Fox News reporter.

"Morons," as Prof. Esenberg conveniently overlooks, is what his friend Charlie Sykes called some Milwaukeeans who held a vigil at North Ave. and Oakland on Friday night to commemorate the conference on climate change currently underway in Copenhagen.

It's my understanding that Charlie Sykes is not exactly a shrinking violet himself when it comes to colorful language describing his perceived political adversaries (in this case, the youthful idealists that Sykes so abhors and mocks at every available opportunity).

So how come Prof. Esenberg doesn't similarly take Sykes to the woodshed, if it's so terribly not nice to call people morons? Evidently it's acceptable as long as you're Charlie Sykes, whose obsequious consideration of Prof. Esenberg is as a "renaissance man."

(Perhaps he'd settle for just "medieval warming period man.")

"Calumnist" is a term coined by yours truly (I think [eta: not]) to characterize the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's self-described "right-wing guy" Patrick McIlheran, because that's exactly what he is.

"Calumny," in fact, is a relatively mild description for McIlheran's fatuous rhetorical efforts, e.g., to falsely tie one of Obama's advisers in the Department of Education to the notorious North American Man-Boy Love Association, which is what McIlheran did.

As a matter of fact, it was McIlheran's series of gross distortions, risible misunderstandings, and deployment of so-called "experts" like the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley that inspired a number of posts here on the topic of "Climategate."

I personally find it more than a little appalling that the biggest daily newspaper in the State of Wisconsin would see fit to publish such pure nonsense, but that's just me. It's a crazy expectation, I know.

Call me a youthful idealist (and see you at Pizza Man).

As for frauds, "dangerous frauds" is how McIlheran described scientists whose private correspondence was unlawfully uploaded to a computer server in Russia last month.

And "dangerous frauds" is how McIlheran has described those scientists despite being comically unaware* that the much-celebrated "decline" referenced in one of those e-mails was not a decline in measured temperatures but rather a decline in sensitivity to changes in temperature observed within a particular collection of a particular species of tree in a particular location in the Northern Hemisphere.

Except I have never seen Prof. Esenberg condemning Mr. McIlheran for his hysterically reactionary "opinions," which are themselves in turn grounded on his not even knowing what the hell he's talking about. No, instead Prof. Esenberg rambles away about Al Gore, who has nothing to do with any of this, as far as I'm concerned.

Ironically, it was none other than Prof. Esenberg who wrote:
On the left, bloggers like Illusory Tenant are redefining the term "denialist." There is, they say, nothing to see here and "wing nuts" who say other things are so stupid — not at all like us smart people.
Now suddenly he affects to be troubled because I placed him in the denialist camp (for good, empirical reason, as opposed to faux-trage at choice of the same nouns and adjectives his local right-wing colleagues use), an awfully slippery double standard on his part.

While I never said there is nothing to see here, I did predict very early on that the political right would attempt to construct fallacious bales of straw from what seemed to me little more than scientists "sharing around some catty messages with each other."

Which is precisely what has happened. And, despite Prof. Esenberg's continuing use of his own coined expression "Climatequiddick," he's yet to address the question I'd put to him more than once: "So I'll ask again: Is this really all you guys have? 'Hide the decline'?"

Still waiting.

* For two weeks, after which he dismissed as a "subtlety" the somewhat fundamental question of whether temperatures were rising or declining. I'm not kidding. "Renaissance man" notwithstanding, it hardly comes as a surprise that Mr. McIlheran looks up to Prof. Esenberg as he "whom I want to be as smart as someday."

To be sure, Prof. Esenberg is in fact very smart indeed, which makes some of the positions he stakes out that much more questionable.

Like this one, for example:
The rationale behind the recusal motions filed against Michael Gableman are [sic] primarily (although not quite entirely) based on the now infamous Reuben Mitchell ad and certain statements made by Gableman’s lawyer, Jim Bopp, in the course of defending Justice Gableman on ethics charges stemming from the ad.
While Attorney Rob Henak is a talented advocate, I don't believe he's quite mastered time travel, as his original motions were filed in April, and Jim Bopp didn't deliver his statements until September.

9 comments:

Jim Bouman said...

Let's not get into name-calling.

Mensch?

Not even mensch potensch.

Nor honorable menschion.

Rick Esenberg said...

I'll certainly concede that you are not the only intemperate voice in the local blogosphere but I'll stand by my assertion that you are right up there. If you weren't a former student and I didn't think you could do better, it wouldn't bother me.

Putting that aside, you steadfastly refuse to engage the issue. You have scientists engaged in a very complicated effort to reconstruct thousands of years of history who are telling us, based on these reconstructions, to turn the world inside out.

But the reconstructions are not nearly as reliable or the product of objective analysis as they claim them to be. In fact, they fight tooth and nail to share their data with others (threatenting to destroy it) and try to hide what is inconsistent with the "tidy picture" from the public and policy makers - even it is well know among the congnoscenti.

If you can't see why that is a problem that the "right" and everyone else might be concerned about, then all I can say is go in peace.

As for the rationale for recusal motions, you'd do better to address the argument that I made on the faculty blog than look for a gothcha because you didn't get one. There are multiple motions and Bopp's comments have become an issue. In fact, Rob has raised Gableman's defense in newly filed motions and in supplements to his initial motion. See, for example, pp. 15-17 of this document. You'd have expected him to do this. He's a very good lawyer.

I'll await your retraction.

John Foust said...

Standard Contradictory Disclaimer™: I don't recall ever saying or writing that AGW does not exist. To the contrary, I don't deny the probability of AGW.

As for "calumnist", not quite... (Results 1 - 10 of about 12,900 for Calumnist).

Attacking Charlie would mean the shadowy interest groups would stop buying him lunch.

Rick Esenberg said...

Still waiting. I retracted my error.

As for shadowy interests buying me lunch, please provide the details. I don't make as much as I used to.

illusory tenant said...

I'll certainly concede that you are not the only intemperate voice in the local blogosphere but I'll stand by my assertion that you are right up there.

Flattery will get you nowhere.

If you weren't a former student and I didn't think you could do better, it wouldn't bother me.

(For the record I attended one undergraduate political science class of Rick Esenberg's at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I am not a former law student of his and had graduated by the time he joined the faculty.)

Putting that aside, you steadfastly refuse to engage the issue. You have scientists engaged in a very complicated effort to reconstruct thousands of years of history who are telling us, based on these reconstructions, to turn the world inside out.

That has never been the issue for me. The sole issue for me has been the reaction to the CRU e-mails unlawfully obtained and disseminated: "Climategate." I have never said a word, nor do I believe myself technically qualified to say a word, about what the research indicates for either the past, present, or future. And I have not denied that there are tremendously difficult and economically substantial choices to be faced.

I guess I will "go in peace," because I find nothing surprising about scientists privately and amongst themselves chafing at the incessant demands of contrarians like Steve McIntyre. Nothing whatsoever.

I'll await your retraction.

Of what? First of all, the rationale is to get Gableman off the cases. Second, the factual elements underyling the due process theory put forth with the view to achieving that end include the Mitchell ad and Bopp's statements, certainly. But it can't be said to be "primarily" based on them. It is "primarily" based on Gableman's political activities in toto, the foregoing being only two pieces of extensively documented supporting evidence.

While I'm aware of subsequent motions and addenda, it's quite impossible for the original motions filed in April to be "primarily" based on events that didn't occur until five months hence. And if Bopp hadn't made those celebrated utterances, the motions would have been filed anyway, even the most recent ones. Bopp helpfully iced the cake, providing additional support for their "primary" basis, which is the nature of Gableman's political campaign considered as a whole.

Rick Esenberg said...

See, Tom, that's what I mean. You go out of your way to make a snarky comment about a post the merits of which you have no interest in addressing in order to make it sound like someone (in this case, me) has said something silly or stupid or impossible. How could motions filed in April be based, in part, on something that happened in September? What a wingnut !!!


Except that not all the motions were filed in April and the one that we have in mind that was (Allen) was supplemented to include reference to Gableman's defense of the charges against him and Bopp's comments. You weren't nitpicking about whether the Bopp statements were one of the primary reasons behind the motion. (But, if you don't think so, read Marla Stephens e-mail), you were making a snide remark about time travel. Grace requires admitting you were wrong. Refusing to do is just being querulous for its own sake.

illusory tenant said...

See, Tom, that's what I mean. You go out of your way to make a snarky comment about a post the merits of which you have no interest in addressing in order to make it sound like someone (in this case, me) has said something silly or stupid or impossible. How could motions filed in April be based, in part, on something that happened in September? What a wingnut !!!

Now you are saying, "in part." That's a far, far cry from "primarily (although not quite entirely)."

I'm sorry if you don't like my view of what you wrote. "Primarily (although not quite entirely)" is an extremely misleading description, especially for people who are unfamiliar with the events, which now span a period of two years. I am very familiar with the events, which is why I believe I have some authority to criticize your characterization.

"Not quite entirely" is synonymous with "just short of entirely" or "almost entirely." And it is simply not true that any of the motions are based almost entirely on those two things.

And it is certainly true that the original motions, according to your characterizations, were filed when one of those two things had not even occurred.

A person unfamiliar with the events -- and especially unfamiliar with any of the motions: you don't provide any links to them -- is misled by your faculty blog post to believe there is far less substance to them than there actually is.

It would have been far more accurate -- and fair -- to say, as you're putting it now, that the motions were based "in part" on those two things. I am not privy to Ms. Stephens's e-mail but I am aware that the supplement to the Allen motion incorporated a transcript of Bopp's remarks that I provided here (it uses the identical syntax, square brackets, etc.).

Clearly we have a fundamental disagreement on the significance of Gableman's activities and whether or not they are deserving of sanction and indeed whether any disciplinary action may be offensive to the First Amendment.

But I don't believe I have anything to retract on account of what I see as your downplaying the substantive content of the motions for recusal.

Rick Esenberg said...

Tom, don't insult my intelligence. You popped a reference to a wholly unrelated issue into your post because you wanted to make it seem that arguments such as the one in the faculty blog post might make it seem questionable that I was "very smart ...' The point was to mock my argument by wondering how could I possibly think that a lawyer could travel back in time to base a motion on something that had not yet happened. I must not understand the chronology.

But, as it turns out, not all of the motions were made in April and the Allen motion was supplemented to include reference to Bopp's comments. In fact, I suspect that Rob Henak thought that Bopp had fed him some powerful ammunition for the motions that was already pending as well as those he - and others - came to file.

Having been caught out, its up to you whether you can afford the courtesy to correct yourself. I don't much care. I'll live.

But, with apologies to my employer, its positively jesuitical to say that you now meant only to quibble about the use of the term "primarily." That would hardly make my argument "not very smart" and is unrelated to the question of chronology ant time travel. A pending motion can certainly be based - even primarily - on something that happens after it is filed, but before it is decided.

But, since you raised, I think it is quite fair to say that the motions are based primarily (but not entirely) on the Mitchell ad and the defense to the ethics charges. They are the most unusual things about the campaign and what are arguably distinct from run of the mill tough on crime campaigns. While there are those who believe that the latter raise constitutional issues, you aren't going to get much of a hearing from any court on that. Indeed, Marla Stephens e-mail to defense lawyers this past fall emphasized both the Mitchell ad and Bopp's defense of Gableman.

You can disagree with that, if you wish, but snide references to time travel have nothing to do with it and an inference that I am unaware of the timing and substance of these motions is silly. I have read them, assigned them to and discussed them with my class, discussed them with Rob and, in fact, invited Ron to a discuss them at the law school on a panel upon which I also sat.

Sheez.

I do understand that Rob, at least, wants to make an issue of the independents and Gableman's refusal to disavow them, but its tough to make a case for recusal based on someone else's speech and those ads are also hard to distingush from, for better or worse, fairly common campaign fodder. It is Mitchell and Bopp, I think, that make seeking such extraordinary relief colorable even if it is not meritorious.

illusory tenant said...

I'm a little busy practicing law today, but I'll get back to you. In the meantime, keep on honing those steel traps.