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.


Her Majesty’s Really Secret Service


Owen Lattimore, Soviet & British Spy?   lattimore

Feminist, writer, H.G. Wells’ lover during both his Stalin and Mussolini flirtations, Rebecca West was visited by Britain’s MI5 when they were nosing around British threads of Whittaker Chambers’ espionage charges

Documents on the encounter have just been released by the British National Archives, and the saucy scribbler does not disappoint.

As the London Review of Books blog alerted us, West blew past what the spooks cared about to get to her personal obsessions:

“Miss West’s parting shot to me was that she supposed Owen Lattimore had been a British agent as well as a Soviet one. She gave me a knowing look, not expecting me to reply to her remark. Miss West seems to be unduly influenced by personal considerations. She is rather pompous and clearly regards herself as the high priestess of Anti-Communism. Already she feels a slight persecution mania as a result of the crusade she has launched”

McCarthy Music: Unsung Hero

Do You Hear What I Hear?   seegerstalin

Pete Seeger’s death and the endless gushing tributes to him  have riled up right wingers,  concerned that a former Stalinist skates free while good men whine.

Historical illusionist Pete Potemkin [really!] speaks for the forgotten via nut-ball haven WND:

Sing songs not to the communist Pete Seeger, but extolling the great name of a forgotten, misunderstood, yet a legendary, heroic conservative Republican … Sen. Joe McCarthy.

The Kids In The Hall long ago answered the challenge:

McCarthyism & GOP: Means Not Ends



[& They Weren’t Too Fussy About The Means]


Reason magazine has been the home of some Byzantine arguments over McCarthyism, from mocking would-be outrage over contemporary examples, to resurrecting it themselves when needed, to finding the redeeming facet in Old Joe’s controversial stance. Much of this emanated from Michael Moynihan, now departed to [formerly] Tina Brown’s Talk With Tweeting.

So it was all the more exciting that Reason led the razzing of an obscure Ohio political scion attempting to take on terrible Ted Cruz.

John G. Taft is the grandson of Robert Taft, Ohio Senator, presidential candidate and the “Mr. Republican” of the 40s and 50s. From this storied past John G. cries out against the Cruz/Tea Party McCarthyism of the present day, recalling a golden era when politicians settled their differences with grace and tact.

Jesse Walker calls bullshit, resurrecting the money quote from Robert Taft’s period happily using McCarthy as a club.

Taft assured the youngster that facts didn’t matter because the point was to:

“keep talking, and if one case doesn’t work out, proceed with another.”

Update!  A better rundown of Bob Taft’s many crimes from Corey Robin.



Benghazi’s True Victim: Joe McCarthy!


From West Allis To North Africa:      mccarthyismthefightforamerica


Latest to call McCarthy Victimization is  Mary A. Nicholas.  We are apparently now at the point where pointing to the vaporous nature of the Right’s Benghazi claims is synonymous with calling McCarthyism, which is to Play The Victim, despite which never mind ’cause McCarthy Was Right!

Canada Free Press [because borders can’t hold back crazy?] brings us the stylings of Nicholas, fresh with the latest version of an old favorite:  Reds Mean To McCarthy!

Nicolas wants to claim McCarthy was picked on, but she has McCarthy’s whimsical relation to the truth to defend, and does it poorly.

Did you know the term “McCarthyism” was the spawn of the Reds?

“ put “McCarthyism” in perspective, the word itself was coined by the KGB in Moscow and first used in The Daily Worker, the communist party’s newspaper. The campaign against “McCarthyism”was initiated by Gus Hall in 1950 at a special session of the National Committee of the Communist Party and endorsed by Stalin himself in 1952. (Budenz, The Bolshevik Invasion of the West,124)”

KGB “coinage”  Nicolas fluffs, linking to another Canada Freeper whose only direct claim of KGB authorship is that they invented the J.Edgar Hoover cross -dressing story.

Daily Worker first use is dis-proven by the man himself

“Gus Hall (who has since been jailed) officially proclaimed that all Communist Party members must “yield second place to none in the fight to rid our country of the fascist poison of McCarthyism” (Daily Worker, May 4, 1950). “

This date is a month after Owen Lattimore used the term.

In an earlier version McCarthy shot in all directions, claiming Lattimore used it first, then he blamed the Reds and claimed that “40 top Communists” invented McCarthyism at a meeting in New York.  That story came to McCarthy from Howard Rushmore and Harvey Matusow, a reporter and an ex-FBI informant who collaborated for a melodramatic series on Matusow’s Party adventures before both went on McCarthy’s staff.


But in their version it was a group of Commie reporters who devised the scheme, gladly yielding second place because “the face of the party must be hidden at all times.”  Leaving aside the likelihood of a large party gathering in a period when most of the CP leadership was in jail, about to be, or on the run, Matusow later admitted he’d invented most of what he told McCarthy.

And cartoonist Herblock named the Ism in March, beating all contenders. mccarthyismherblock


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!