Crackpots Gonna Crack: McCarthyism Loses The Plot


Stuck In Lodi  hansen

From the Lodi News-Sentinel comes disturbing signs that McCarthy-Was-Rightists are having trouble keeping track of what they imagine are the facts of the case.

Local columnist Steve Hansen offers a sad sack version of today’s McCarthyism, with the usual elements of Joe the lonely prophet proven right in the end by the Venona files.


Hansen gets everything wrong.

Killing_Patton_cover                                                                                                    Patton Lies    

After channeling Bill O’Reilly to set up the late General George Patton as a Red Nightmare warning prophet, Hansen mangles the story by describing Stalin’s East European surge as coming along “fortuitously.”  I was always taught  Uncle Joe did it on purpose.

After that, time bends. Hansen confuses Dr. Strangelove, Edward Teller, with the man Teller denounced as a security risk, Robert Oppenheimer. McCarthy’s hearings are conflated with HUAC, resulting in McCarthy being responsible for blackballing witnesses, “especially those from the Hollywood scene

He even messes up Venona, the code breaking of wartime Soviet diplomat cables transmitted home using ordinary commercial telegraph. Hansen vamps it up with spy stuff that never happened:

This covert operation consisted of intercepted radio transmissions from KGB agents, who were secretly located in our nation’s capital, to their Soviet contacts in Moscow.

Fortuitously,  Venona provides whatever Hansen imagines, “convincing evidence that Sen. McCarthy may not be the villain his opponents have claimed.”

If I can do a better paint by numbers version of McCarthy’s martyrdom then this clown we have come to a sad point.  Because as Hansen says:

Whatever one’s view of the controversial senator is, the legacy of Joseph McCarthy still deserves to have the timeframe in which he lived understood and all other facts pertinent to his story revealed.



Countless: Making The Numbers Work With Joe McCarthy


Prop Bluster  mccarthypaper

University of Washington Professor Joe Janes has produced a  podcast on how Joe McCarthy mesmerized America with the claim he had a list of State Department Communists, and never mind the details.

Its good on how the endlessly teased but never produced list became a fact in public imagination, although Janes’s history suffers from the common problem of collapsing McCarthyism into a straight narrative, with Sheriff Edward R. Murrow swooping in at the end to kill the beast.

This sort of version ignores how McCarthy managed to reverse the Tydings Committee’s verdict that his charges were a “fraud and a hoax,” surviving long enough to chair a Senate committee under the Republican majority he helped bring about, and then to crash under the weight of too many enemies, too few facts and too much booze.  And ignores how Democratic Senator Pat McCarran built on McCarthy’s crackpot theories to pursue Owen Lattimore.

Janes mentions in passing his university’s own experiment in Red hunting, a late forties purge of three professors.  UW also played a starring role in McCarthy and McCarran’s persecution of Owen Lattimore, suppling three of the five Asia scholars who testified against Lattimore. These included Karl Wittfogel, a former German Communist turned right winger in America, and Nicolas Poppe, a Russian whose work for the Nazi SS’s Wannsee Institute didn’t keep him from a long and fruitful American career.


Making McCarthy’s Numbers Work

 Or, Liars Can Figure

Defense of the West westcover

Last McCarthyite Standing Stan Evans has come forth with yet another defense of good old Joe, in the guise of defending fellow McCarthy-Was-Rightist Diana West.

West is apparently under attack, attacks both “brutal and unseemly” as well as “orchestrated.”

Evans teases us with numerology, promising “McCarthy By The Numbers,” but other than a 50 suspect list there is scant use of figures to prove or even assert anything. Instead we get the usual eclectic mix of spying accusations proven and imagined, with occasional references to West in order to sustain a “theme.”

McCarthy’s Fab Fifty evansmccarthylist

Our man Owen Lattimore makes the list, although that doesn’t even tell us what Evans thinks he did. Sitting among the Fifty really is guilt by association.

Evans vaguely says that all these people were outed as Reds, proven by either “sworn testimony, or in FBI and other once-confidential official security records” [such faith in the accuracy of the Bureau’s wool gathering is kind of sweet after all these years!] or that they pled the Fifth, making them spies by the power of I said so.

Lattimore is side swiped here:

McCarthy and his staffers in the usual instance did not allege that his suspects were Communists or Soviet agents–though in some famous cases (Owen Lattimore, Annie Lee Moss) this did happen–for the simple reason that the probers didn’t then know the total story.

…so he was an agent? Who knows, our numbers man has already moved on.

West and Evans have professed their chaste love previously, in a West review of Evans’ last tome enlivened by their mutual pretense of lonely struggle against the odds to prove that spies happened.

For the real self drama you need to skip past Evans and Google up some West-ern legends and lore. West World is filled with epic self dramatization and self-pity over mean things said about her work, including, shockingly, by ostensible conservatives troubled by her crack pottery.

But nothing can hold back her urge to monetize. Untitled

When David Horowitz says your McCarthy charges are a crock, you are out there.

My Venona: Read But Misunderstood

 Bringing The Stupid 24/7 mccarthyenthousiast

Owen Lattimore & The Absence Of Evidence.

Often cited, little understood, Venona was an American effort to decode 1940s Soviet espionage cables which was only declassified in the 1990s. Oodles of agent and contact names poured forth, and the McCarthy-Was-Right industry got new tires.

Eruptions of whining now surface periodically, in which McCarthy enthusiasts offer mock pleas over how come these liberal communists won’t confess their sins.

Owen Lattimore is  dragged into this fanciful historicizing, usually via the formula that Venona proves there were Soviet agents, which resembles McCarthy’s claims, then a quick dash back to the McCarran Committee’s crackpot theories for the “conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy” money quote.

But just as Lattimore became McCarthy’s top Soviet agent in the State Department without actually working there, in this world he’s proven guilty by the Venona papers, dispite never appearing in them.

As our greatest public intellectual Donald Rumsfeld avers, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”


Western Affront: Why Won’t The Liberals Fess Up To Their Spyin’?

The Western Imagination  spycases

Diana West supplies this week’s “McCarthy Was Right” entry, with a spirited version of a beloved old chestnut:

new evidence proves Lattimore was guilty of something all along!

West has a book review/interview with our old pal Stanton Evans, who paired with the tireless Herbert Romerstein recycled his Blacklisted By History McCarthy apologia into an exciting new package:  Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government.

The usual lies have been assembled, especially our favorite, that Owen Lattimore caused Pearl Harbor:


“Thus did the policies promoted in official U.S. circles by [Harry Dexter] White, [Lauchlin] Currie, and [Owen] Lattimore dovetail with those advanced by the [Richard] Sorge-[Hotsumi] Ozaki network in Japan – all converging toward the result that there would be no American-Japanese rapprochement and, even more to the point, no Japanese attack on Russia.” 


Owen did it by sending FDR a memo, single-handedly causing the wily plutocrat to drop talks with Japan and drift into war.

This sort of stuff used to be left to the openly crazed, but you work with what you have.

Especially fun is West and Evans bemoaning their inability to move the public with spy tales:

“Evans mimics the usual reaction to the specter of historical Communist penetration: “ `Well, this thing was overblown, there wasn’t a big problem, these people were persecuted.’ The new evidence, he continues, “challenges this so they dismiss it. We’re dealing with an establishment mindset that is impervious to refutation – to fact. It’s like throwing popcorn at a battleship.””

 Which particular rocks these two live under is unclear, but even liberal fever wet dream The West Wing covered this territory. Who can forget the  sprightly episode where “Sam” [pretty boy Rob Lowe] is devastated to learn that a dead accused liberal commie spy was GUILTY!

There, he said it!


John F. Kennedy & Joe McCarthy’s Ghost: The Limits Of Liberalism

Right From The Start 

It didn’t take, but fifty one years ago Republicans had a bit of fun with Jack Kennedy in office, when he started making noises about right-wing extremists.

Naturally they used Smilin’ Jack’s silky words against him.

Before he went on to become Joe Mccarthy’s bipartisan Senate pal, the youthful Representative John F. Kennedy was a pioneer in the theory that China was “lost” right here in the USA, and he pointed the finger at our man Owen Lattimore.

Chiang Kai-Shek wasn’t completely finished in early 1949, but things didn’t look good for the Generalissimo.  And Kennedy offered an early version of what became [and remains] a popular right-wing trope, that China was “lost” due to undermining by  pointy-headed liberals or worse back home.

” So concerned were our diplomats and their advisers, the Lattimores and the Fairbanks, with the imperfections of the diplomatic system in China after 20 years of war, and the tales of corruption in high places, that they lost sight of our tremendous stake in a non-Communist China.”

Note that the “corruption in high places” was only “tales.”

Nailing Kennedy was a bust.  He and McCarthy had at least a consistent if crackpot theory.  By the 60s Republicans were reduced to He-Did-It-Too-ism, saying Kennedy once calling out Commies in high places meant red hunting was forever in season.


Your Lattimore Lost China Needs In Handy Book Form!

Owen To Events Beyond His Control      

Bitter-ender believers in Owen Lattimore’s guilt of….something have found solace in recent years on the interwebs, where a lively trade in half truths and recycled 50s bilge re-convict him on a daily basis. But now, the success of the right wing book trade lets the folks at home learn truths they’ve never forgotten without all that typing and clicking.

Serial offender Stan Evans is back on the market with a tome which rips the lid off that Joe Stalin fellow: apparently he wished ill of the United States! Evans’ latest adventure in these uncharted waters takes him to the best Lattimore Did It tale of all, in which Lattimore  caused Pearl Harbor.

You read that right. Owen Lattimore caused America’s entry into World War Two with his trademark tool:  the memo.

In 1941 Lattimore was advising Chiang Kai Shek, while the US tried to work out a deal with Japan.  Lattimore told Washington Chiang thought the proposal would collapse Chinese resistance to Japan’s invasion.  In this maximum crackpot history, such was the authority Chiang Kai Shek wielded in Washington that the State Department dropped negotiating with Japan, insuring its attack on Hawaii. Thanks a lot, Professor!

Why would the wily academic want Japan to turn their guns on America? In Evans imagination, to protect Joe Stalin from a Japanese  attack on  Siberia. Pretending this was a live option in 1941 requires ignoring 1939, when the Soviets had smashed Japanese forces at the Mongol boarder. And wishing we had dumped Chiang fifteen years early.

Not everybody thinks this is “a meticulous examination of primary sources” or the  “disclosure of formerly secret records.”

 “as has been their practice for decades, the authors equate presence at an event—e.g., Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill at Yalta—with the covert wielding of tremendous influence…When the authors stray from Soviet influence within the United States and shift the focus to the rise of communism in China around the same time, their speculation about the allegedly traitorous activity of named individuals feels even shakier.

 Evans makes his case the same way all the McCarthy Was Rightists  do: a tease about new material, claims the Venona Papers proved something unspecified about Lattimore, and a rush into the familiar arms of the McCarran Committee,  which concocted its Lattimore indictment from perjured and re-engineered testimony.

Less Lattimore

Platforms Pulled  

Owen Lattimore made a substantial portion of his income from public speaking, money which was decimated after McCarthy.

   In the Fall of 1950 New Hampshire’s Wentworth By The Sea Hotel canceled a scheduled Lattimore talk.

In 1949 he’d had more than a hundred speaking engagements.

In 1951 he had three.