by John Weckerle
With a busy week behind us and this morning’s garden endeavors complete, and having been watching for a while, we decided to take a closer look in on the Sandia Tea Party site (www.sandiateaparty.com) and see what the newest local chapter was up to. We found ourselves neither greatly surprised nor disappointed: both in format and in content, we found exactly what we expected.
From the standpoint of format, the Sandia Tea Party site is a mess, suggesting that something has gone terribly wrong with the group’s WordPress software. This is just a little surprising, since a look through the articles on the site suggests that it is being managed by Edgewood Town Councilor Chuck Ring, who has been blogging for at least a couple of years. The effective formatting characteristic of WordPress is entirely lacking, and the site is all plain text. An anomalous swath of dark background nearly obscures one section of content.
As bad as the formatting is, the content does little to compensate. We examined two articles – one on the famed “Pigford” cases, and one on global warming – and that was enough. Let’s have a quick look at the two.
The first article, Pigford – The Scam That Keeps On Scatin’, provides a brief examination of a pair of class action suits against the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging discrimination against African American farmers. The article relies heavily on sources associated with proven (and later admitted) fraud and liar Andrew Breitbart’s Biggovernment.com, something for which we’ve wagged our finger at the author in the past and will probably keeping waving the digit about in the future; if sources aren’t credible, then the story probably isn’t, either. One of the links in the article – to “the “complete investigative file” – goes nowhere. Says the author: “Finally, this rip-off does not involve chicken feed and it takes away from legitimate claims. Next up, Hispanic, Native American and women farmers who claim to have been discriminated against.”
The implications of this statement are staggering. We find it astonishing that any organization – even a Tea Party chapter – would publish such a remark, publicly and prominently. Discrimination against all these groups, and others, is something that has been documented time and again (including, ultimately, by the USDA before the original Pigford case was filed). If people are being discriminated against, they certainly should make such claims. The problem is with the discrimination, and not with the claimant – acknowledging, of course, that anyone making fraudulent claims should be dealt with appropriately. Having such a statement on the organization’s web site suggests that the Sandia Tea Party is cut from the same cloth as the East Mountain Tea Party, with whom we took issue over its anti-Muslim prejudice.
We’ve always taken issue with the use of politically-motivated sources. For those who prefer fact to conjecture, we provide these references:
- Obama and the ‘Pigford’ Cases – Factcheck.org
- The Pigford Cases: USDA Settlement of Discrimination Suits by Black Farmers – Congressional Research Service Report for Congress
Next, we took a look at Climate Change Is Real, But… We have gone around several times with the author on the subject of climate change, and probably will continue to do so as well. In this case, the author suggests agreement with the positions of climatologist Patrick J. Michaels and, again, providing links primarily to partisan sources to back up Dr. Michaels’s claims. Again, we take issue of basing arguments on biased sources – and in this case, that would include Dr. Michaels. According to multiple sources (provided below), Dr. Michaels receives a substantial amount of his income from conventional energy industry entities. Entities mentioned in the articles we reviewed included the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, Edison Electric, the Western Fuels Association, the German Coal Mining Association, DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, and Cyprus Minerals Company. In a Mediamatters.org article (note: this is a left-leaning organization, but the article seems thorough if a bit biased), Harvard University professor John Holdren is quoted: “Michaels is another of the handful of U.S. climate-change contrarians, but lacks [MIT professor and fellow contrarian] Richard Lindzen’s scientific stature. He has published little if anything of distinction in the professional literature, being noted rather for his shrill op-ed pieces and indiscriminate denunciations of virtually every finding of mainstream climate science.” Concerns have also been expressed that Dr. Michaels may have provided misleading information to Congress on global climate change, and he has been accused of fumbling basic mathematics in at least one article.
Resources include (again, a few may be somewhat biased, but there’s a good bit of data in these):
- Patrick Michaels – Wikipedia
- Patrick J. Michaels – Sourcewatch
- Factsheet: Patrick J. Michaels – Exxonsecrets.org
- Pat Michaels: scientist, energy industry lackey, Washington Post contributor – Mediamatters.org
- Patrick J. Michaels – Logicalscience.com
- New Hope Environmental Services – Sourcewatch (this is Dr. Michaels’s consulting firm)
- Climate Skeptics’ Leading Scientist Funded by Dirty Energy – Scientific American
There are many more, but that’s more than enough.
We find ourselves weary of the supposed “debate” on this subject, but we’ll keep going as long as it’s necessary, we suppose. We find this quote from a letter to Scientific American relevant:
Whatever their position on a topic or their bias toward a conclusion, true skeptics will ultimately follow the evidence where it leads. Deniers, on the other hand, interpret that same evidence only as it might support their foregone conclusions. The gulf between these mind-sets is wide. In an age already rife with misinformation and scientific illiteracy, that difference should be acknowledged by scientists and journalists alike and at every opportunity.
We don’t find that the journalists are doing a good job of it – and the Sandia Tea Party certainly isn’t doing any better than the journalists. We’ll keep an eye on their web site and see what else, if anything, merits comment. Our first impression is that there’s little distinction between this group and the East Mountain Tea Party, except that we haven’t found any published remarks by the leadership advocating war with China and Russia or attacking major religions.