Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse reacts to 'Torquemada' essay

David Rothbard writes:

It looks like CFACT senior policy advisor Paul Driessen touched a nerve in a recent column when he compared U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to “Torquemada” for wanting to use the RICO Act to silence climate skeptics.


Torquemada, of course, spearheaded the infamous Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century – a comparison Driessen made noting the Senator’s desire to use intimidation and fear to impose conformity on climate thinking.

Such an analogy, feisty but not uncommon in policy debate, nevertheless got Whitehouse in a huff, and he spouted off about it on the floor of the Senate late last week.

After defending his call to use RICO laws against climate heretics, he then accused skeptics like Driessen of “setting off criminal smokescreens and launching … ‘Torquemada’ hysterics.”

If Whitehouse doesn’t like the comparison, perhaps he should read the First Amendment to the Constitution and respect every citizen’s right to speak freely.

In the meantime, if the Senator wants to play political hardball, he should expect his opponents to bring their rhetorical bats.

101 thoughts on “Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse reacts to 'Torquemada' essay

  1. The only reason so many scientists jump onto the alarmist bandwagon is because that’s where the money is !!! If we had a system that provided money EQUALLY to both sides, most scientists would be on the side of ” unadjusted” science !!! IMHO

      • Why do sound and rational decision makers buy insurance or hedge their investments ? The real world is very complex affected by unknown factors. Some factors even if known are chaotic or unpredictable. Nobody could predict the future. The improvement in computer computing and graphics only provides an imaginary scenario that the naive take for reality and the rational as an indicator. Tme could be a crucial element. The decision maker has to make decision under uncertainty. Hence, the decision maker has to take insurance or hedge his bet. If his decision under uncertainty turns out to be correct well and good. If his decision turns out to be wrong he will have sufficient capital to make corrective actions from the proceeds of his insurance and hedge. As far as climate change and carbon dioxide is concerned the present climate is one of hysteria, breeding irrationality and bigotry.The rational decision maker should hedge or take insurance. If they take action in favor of curtailing anthropocentric climate change, then the research money should go the other direction that if anthropocentric climate change is wrong they have enough facts to change course. Greenwash might be called hypocrisy but it is just business decision makers rational approach of decision making under uncertainty. It is just a form of hedging or insurance

      • North American Energy Advisory, Clearwater, FL, Oct.2, 2015
        ‘How The Corporate Elite Will Change Our Country’s Energy Policy’
        Tech giants have been at the forefront of this green trend for years.
        They are helping to accelerate the buildup to achieve a more sustainable world.
        Verification for the above:
        White House Fact Sheet:
        81 companies have signed onto this pledge ahead of COP21
        Also a pledge of $500 million from the University of California Investment Office.
        University of California President, Janet Napolitano, was U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security (2009-2013) under Pres. Obama.

      • >>Tech giants have been at the forefront of this green trend for years.
        But they keep hundreds of enormous diesel engine generators in reserve, just in case the lights do start going out. Its called hedging bets.
        Shame our politicians don’t hedge the scientific bets more. I did write recently, asking if they would spend £20 billion a year on any other project, without getting a second opinion.

    • I think the money logic goes like this: If you take money from the government to study man-caused climate change, you are doing science (even though the conclusion is presumed). If you take money from the Koch brothers or Exxon-Mobil to determine whether there IS such a thing as man-caused climate change, you are in the pay of Big Oil and your science is bad.

    • One of the best things that could happen for skeptics is for some actual “denier” scientists to be subpoenaed to testify in court under oath. They would easily show that their claims and data are real. It would also open the door for the warmist side to be subpoenaed to testify under oath as well. Assuming tough questioning and cross-examining by both sides, it would become clear to all but the truly brainwashed that the alarmist claims don’t pass muster. Don’t fight the RICO, let the dumb f*k warmunists hang themselves with it!

    • And threatening to use RICO against anyone who questions the party line on “climate change” ISN’T extreme? Please. That’s not just words. That’s bringing the full power of the State to bear on an individual expressing a legitimate opinion. RICO does not threaten life and limb, but does threaten actual real-world jail time.

      • Threatening to put people is cages for their opinions is normal. If you disagree, your extreme and should probably be in a cage.
        /sarc? Do I need this? Tyranny is such a comfy cradle for ignorance.

      • RICO does not threaten life and limb, but does threaten actual real-world jail time.

        Er, just how d’you conceive that the government – the police power in civil society, which operates entirely on the basis of its functional monopoly on the initiation of armed and deadly force – enforces the RICO statute?
        Ever heard the expression “breaking things and killing people”? Those who govern impose and compel compliance with zoning codes at gunpoint.

        To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue. … To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.

        — Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Idée Générale de la Révolution au XIXe Siècle [The General Idea of the Revolution] (1851)

      • diogenesnj,
        I agree, this threat of using RICO is an attempt to intimidate all scientists to bow down to the political class. This is happening in all the government agencies and all the so called “science” agencies and universities.
        Even Democratic Senators who do not agree with everything the administration is pushing get investigated by the DOJ.

    • You can’t get more factless than a believer that GHGs cause the bottom of an atmosphere to be warmer than the top . The are believers in the ability to construct perpetual heat engines . That’s why you never have seen nor will see quantitative equations or experimental demonstration of the “trapping” of heat by spectra .
      Only gravity can , and therefore must , “trap” heat .

    • Do you have any facts to back up your defense of Sen. Whitehouse, Mr. Westhaver? Or is this just another knee-jerk defense of the Catholic Church because the name ‘Torquemada’ was brought up in a negative way?

      • Louis,
        Yes. Read the column here at WUWT and the comment I left at the time. I warned Driessen that he would discredit himself. Driessen did discredit himself. Just go back and read it. Whitehouse’s position is so extreme and over-the-top! And Whitehouse was such an easy mark. Driessen failed with his ignorance and lack of restraint. Driessen snatched failure from the hands of victory. I warned him.

      • Wow, citing your own post as proof that you are right.
        I don’t know if your ego really is that big, or your brain really that small.
        However, the only being discredited here, is you.

      • I have no idea why you’d even attempt to argue with someone that won’t listen. I have thought you’d have learned by now that you can Torquemada anything! (Hat tip to Mel Brooks and History Of The World – Part I).

    • Any politician who advocates the use of the law to silence critics clearly has no faith in
      1) The soundness of his arguments
      2) The intelligence of the electorate
      3) The principle of free speech
      If a leader of the DPRK or CAR took such a stand we would criticise them but that a senior US politician should take such a stand is deeply troubling.

    • Comparing someone who wants to use the govt to silence the opposition is justly compared to the Spanish Inquisition. There was nothing factless, nor extreme about it.
      What’s extreme is the way the fascists object when people tell the truth about them.

    • I’m afraid people like you are an extreme danger to democracy and a free civilisation as we know it. I suggest you move to a country like North Korea where freedom of speech that you criticise is unknown to the populace.

  2. Perhaps a good hard look should be taaken at Whitehouse’s finances.
    It would be fitting if he was brought down using the RICO laws.
    Glass houses etc….

  3. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse responded to the accusation that he desires to use intimidation and fear against skeptics of AGW by doubling down on his rhetoric of intimidation and fear. At least he’s consistent.

    • Intimidation and fear are practical alternatives to logic and evidence – for young children.

    • Exactly right, Louis. Senator Whitehouse reacted to the accusation of Torquemada-like traits by manifesting yet more Torquemada-like traits. The guy’s clueless.

  4. It is fair to say that Sen. Whitehouse is a millenarian zealot who sees the issue in strictly apocalyptic and manichean terms. His zeal has overrun his reason and his humanity, and made it seem in his mind just and proper to invoke criminal statutes and penalties to silence those who do not share his vision. There is reasoning with the likes Senator Whitehouse. There is only resistance, obloquy and mockery, all of which should be heaped upon him without relent. YMMV, but I say he’s a ludicrous modern example of New England’s penchant for self-righteous scolds and witch trials.

    • I wouldn’t throw New Englanders into a silo. If you know your history, the witch trials resulted in a quelling of hysterical accusations and a subsequent reversal and compensation. See Putnams recantation, Hale’s book, Mather and Maule.
      Whitehouse’s fanaticism is wrong. He is a tyrant. But to answer Whitehouse with Driessen’s extreme and factually wrong allusion to a cartoon image of the past was doubly wrong. It was contingent on Driessen to have the cooler head, to be right. IMO Driessen set himself up to be dismissed and I said so at the time. Now he is being dismissed as he should and as I predicted. Whitehouse is a fascist, but Driessen hurt his own credibility with the column.

      • Paul, I’m sorry but your wrong, Driessen did not hurt his credibility. There are certain buzz words in our culture which conjure up images, Torquemada is one of them. As is Kafkaesque, McCarthyism. Senator Whitehouse’s action match the perception of what people think when they hear the name Torquemada and the Inquisition. Thus, as a literary device it is proper. Historically Torquemada may not deserve the infamy, but religion aside it has made him immortal.

      • Paul Westhaver,
        Rightfully, or not, the Spanish Inquisition and Torquemada have both become metaphors for tyranny. One doesn’t have to look far to find that you’ve downplayed the deaths and suffering which occurred during that unfortunate period in history. You’ve also claimed that Paul Driessen is dishing up anti- Catholic folklore. Such words do little except highlight your personal vendetta against Driessen. You made your continuing vendetta against him quite clear when you claimed to have collected Driessen’s public writings, to which you may refer, in order to bolster your attacks against him. Have you lost the plot?
        At least, after two separate threads in which Driessen has spoken against Sen. Whitehouse, you’ve finally acknowledged and spoken against the Senator’s tyrannical machinations.
        As far as I can see, you’ve done more to harm your own credibility than your attempts to slam Paul Driessen have done to him. However, as others have also pointed out in the first thread, you’ve managed (again) to derail the thread and take it off topic, so if that was your true intent, then you’ve had at least, some measure of success.

      • Alan.
        I don’t think so. I certainly think that you think so. In any event, I pointed out, rightly that Driessen would set himself up for failure with his poor choice of language. Whitehouse immediately came out and nailed him for it. What can I say? I saw it coming, said so, and it happened. Driessen’s extremism was utterly indefensible and he should not have put us in a position to defend him on such a stupid issue. Driessen now looks the fool. Better he stick to proper science and provably true criticism. Whitehouse, the tyrant, now can claim a victory. ..shrug…

      • Correction
        The REACTION to the witch trials resulted in the quelling of these accusations and that reversal happened almost 20 years AFTER the trials and the execution of 20 people.
        Do you seriously expect people to wait that long before acting ?

      • Paul,
        You should have stopped digging… Now, you seem to be saying that Whitehouse only responded because Driessen used the name Torquemada. That’s a stretch. Relating the tyrannical words of a man to a previous known tyrant is eminently fair. There were plenty of tyrant’s names from the last century, which Driessen could have used- names which would surely have lit Sheldon’s fire. Would you have been happier with those names? Driessen wasn’t “dismissed” and he wasn’t discredited (no matter what you claim.)
        Sen. Whitehouse did not vindicate himself, he doubled down.

      • Paul Westhaver
        Driessen now looks the fool. Better he stick to proper science and provably true criticism. Whitehouse, the tyrant, now can claim a victory. ..shrug…
        How does Driessen look like a fool too the general public? not to you Paul, but the General public. All I see at this point is that the Senator used his office and its privileges to launch a personal attack on a journalist.
        Driessen’s remarks struck home. New England really does get touchy about free speech. The Senator would have been best advised to drop the issue. I am happy he did not. I also hope Mr Driessen feels the muse in publishing a scathing rebuttal.
        Paul this is not about Religon or Torquemada; it is about Rico the abuse of power and the deliberate intent to withhold knowledge from the public. Lets leave Spanish History for now and keep our minds on bedeviling the “good” Senator Whitehouse.

      • No Paul.
        The comparison of a person that want to use force to silence the critics to Torquemada is perfectly apt.
        But you don’t like the appearance of it. You are a narcissist.

  5. As Shakespeare once wrote “Me thinks the Lady doth protest too much”. I imagine if they dig a little bit, there would be so embarrassing funding issues, Warmists are so quick to accuse everyone else of financial conflicts, one could think that, that is their prime motivator.

    • Must have struck a nerve. First he says that he wants civil RICO penalties, only — then, when you push him a little, he alleges criminality. Mask off.

  6. I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

    • Expecting an incumbent government thug to obey his oath of office? Bah.

      The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it’s good-bye to the Bill of Rights.

      — H.L. Mencken (1920)

  7. Notice of course, Whitehouse spouts off, On the Senate Floor.
    Not out in the public where he can be sued.
    Such a Hero of the Union.
    Now as Rob Dawg highlights, this gentleman sworn an oath…
    Is breaking that oath in such a blatant and idiotic manner, treason?
    Or what?
    Is there any punishment for oath breakers within our governments?
    I ask because I have seen no evidence of any responsibility there in.
    All of the perks of living off of the people, none of the responsibilities.
    Whitehouse belongs at the UN.

    • “Is there any punishment for oath breakers within our governments?”
      I know this was a rhetorical question, but the answer is a resounding “No, not anymore. Unless you are on the side of the opposition to those holding the upper hand.”
      One can now pick and choose which laws t enforce, and at what time and against whom to enforce them.
      One can now desert an army post, while on a battlefield and in the midst of a war, go and seek the enemy, offer aid and comfort to this enemy, and not only avoid execution, but be honored on the steps of the rose garden by the Commander in Chief himself. Then walk away scot-free.
      No, oaths have no meaning anymore.
      Only political allegiance and fealty matters now.

      • As an aside
        I always thought it was scott-free. (never heard of Dred Scott)
        But no.
        Given the reputation of Scotsmen as being careful with their money we might look to Scotland for the origin of ‘scot free’. Wrong again, but at least we are in the right part of the world now. ‘Skat’ is a Scandinavian word for tax or payment and the word migrated to Britain and mutated into ‘scot’ as the name of a redistributive taxation, levied as early the 10th century as a form of municipal poor relief.

  8. Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act.
    It is the alarmists that have organizations that influence journals and government departments and threaten skeptics for the purpose of controlling the funding for research. They then scare enough of the public to maintain and increase the funding for dubious “scientific” papers with often laughable results. This has been the pattern for decades.
    Skeptics are generally individuals or small independent groups working without any funding.
    So who should be worried about RICO? What if a skeptical President is elected?

    • From Wikipedia comes a definition of what constitutes a racket:
      “A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as for a problem that does not actually exist, that will not be put into effect, or that would not otherwise exist if the racket did not exist. Conducting a racket is racketeering.[1] Particularly, the potential problem may be caused by the same party that offers to solve it, although that fact may be concealed, with the specific intent to engender continual patronage for this party.”
      CAGW, much?

    • From Wikipedia comes a definition of what constitutes a Racket:
      “A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as for a problem that does not actually exist, that will not be put into effect, or that would not otherwise exist if the racket did not exist. Conducting a racket is racketeering.[1] Particularly, the potential problem may be caused by the same party that offers to solve it, although that fact may be concealed, with the specific intent to engender continual patronage for this party.”
      Carbon trading is fraudulent. It does not solve the purported problem of AGW.

  9. Those defending Whitehouse should look at some of his other derogatory statements about his collegues.
    “Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today took shots at those who are not supporting the health care legislation. During a floor speech, he excoriated Senate GOP members for up holding the pending health care bill and accused their supporters of being birthers and fanatics in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups. He started off by citing an editorial from the Manchester Journal Inquirer, which used insults like “lunatic fringe.”:
    (WATCH THE VIDEO HERE about 116:06 in. 2:55pm EST)

  10. Dems periodically cite the growing hatefulness in Washington, while looking beyond their own actions and methods.

    • Libs have long defined hatred as any opposition to their plans.
      If you don’t want an increase in welfare, then you want children to starve.
      If you don’t think the govt should be running the health care system, then you don’t want anyone but the rich to have medical care.
      If you oppose affirmative action you are a racist.
      If you don’t believe the lie about women making 73% what men make, you are a sexist.
      If you haven’t been taking in by the CAGW scare, then you are in the pay of big oil and you don’t care about the environment.
      And so on.
      Liberals find it impossible to believe that anyone can disagree with them for honest reasons.

      • Liberals find it impossible to believe that anyone can disagree with them for honest reasons.

        The positions taken by “Liberals” are without honestly reasoned support.
        Objective reality, honestly perceived and remarked, is toxic to them.

        In the universities, in the churches, in the corporations, in the professional organizations, in the editorial offices, in the game studios, and just about everywhere else you can imagine, free speech and free thought are under siege by a group of fanatics as self-righteous as Savanarola, as ruthless as Stalin, as ambitious as Napoleon, and as crazy as Caligula.
        They are the Social Justice Warriors, the SJWs, the self-appointed thought police who have been running amok throughout the West since the dawn of the politically correct era in the 1990s. Their defining characteristics:
        • a philosophy of activism for activism’s sake
        • a dedication to rooting out behavior they deem problematic, offensive, or unacceptable in others
        • a custom of primarily identifying individuals by their sex, race, and sexual orientation
        • a hierarchy of intrinsic morality based on the identity politics of sex, race, and sexual orientation
        • a quasi-religious belief in equality, diversity, and the inevitability of progress
        • an assumption of bad faith on the part of all non-social justice warriors
        • an opinion that motivation matters more than consequences
        • a certainty that they are the only true and valid defenders of the oppressed
        • a habit of demanding that their opinions be enshrined as social custom and law
        • a tendency to possess a left-wing political identity
        • a willingness to deny science, history, logic, their past words, or any other aspect of reality that contradicts their current Narrative.

        — Vox Day, SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police (2015)

        (I know that I keep citing this analysis, but as long as we have Social Justice Warriors like this Whitehouse thug abusing the powers of public office, the diagnostic criteria bear recapitulation.)

  11. Senator Whitehouse
    Why play the coward, hiding behind your Senatorial immunity – rather than uphold the Scientific Method in quantifiably evaluating how poorly Climate Models fail the FACTS?
    Why are you hiding the fact that the signature warming feature – tropospheric tropical warming – is MISSING?
    Instead, climate models are 400% TOO HOT over 25 year predictions from 1979-2014? See John Christy’s May 13, 2015 evidence to Congress.

    Speech or Debate Clause
    Article I, Section 6, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution states in part,
    for any Speech or Debate in either House, [senators and representatives] shall not be questioned in any other place.
    The purpose of the clause is to prevent the arrest and prosecution of unpopular legislators based on their political views.

  12. Like most leftists, Whitehouse is convinced that any opposition to his positions should be illegal.
    After all, he cares, and he’s trying to save the world.
    That makes him one of the good guys, and by definition, anyone who opposes one of the good guys must be a bad guy, and don’t we put bad guys in jail?
    Or just kill them if we don’t have enough time?

  13. If you were a Senator from a financially challenged state like R.I. where would you get infrastructure money from?
    Same as it ever was. This clown is a character out of Frank Capra’s “Mr Smith goes to Washington” He has also shoveled funds to one of those climate change communications programs.

    • Details please, cite sources. I’m not challenging, its this is the type of stuff that helps.

  14. If someone says I look like Torquemada, I say “really, that’s kinda disappointing, I thought I looked better”.
    If someone says I dress like Torquemada, I say “your opinion is kinda worthless, I don’t even own a robe”.
    If someone says I act like Torquemada, I say “that’s silly, I don’t try to harm others by my actions or policies”.
    Someone says Whitehouse acts like Torquemada, so Whitehouse gets irritated and indignant;
    Someone is too close to the truth for Whitehouse comfort and has hit a nerve.

  15. For RICO to be applied the acts must be criminal.
    The US Constitution forbids Bills of Attainder.( a piece of legislation that declares a person or persons guilty of a crime after the fact).
    Every member of congress is required to take an oath to uphold the constitution.Nevertheless,most of them have either never read the constitution, or choose to ignore it.
    What is going on here is a clear violation of civil rights. Any other entity would be liable for damages and legal costs. However, you may not sue a sitting member of congress.

  16. Tor Quemada….. ¿Torre quemado? Burnt tower…… I wonder if the ashes were white, and if the tower served as someone’s house….

  17. Torquemada…… ¿Torre quemado? Burnt tower…… Someone’s home burnt to white ashes….. White house……

  18. “Criminal hysterics”?
    If he were to spat upon publicly it would be deserved.
    the Senator is a slime ball and beneath contempt.

  19. Whitehouse is nothing but a two-bit pantywaist climate bully, and Paul’s words stung, so he lashed out in his garbled, ineffective way, inventing nonsense phrases like “Torquemada hysterics” and “criminal smokescreens”.

  20. To misquote Monthy Python,
    “Everybody expects the myth of the Spanish Inquisition”.
    By which I don’t mean to imply that there was no such thing as the Spanish Inquisition but that what we always seem to get is the myth version put out in the sixteenth,seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by Protestant propagandists and then people like Voltaire. However, it’s pretty sad that there are still people in the twenty-first century who are gullible enough to keep on falling for the myth version.

  21. Let’s hope Senator Whitehouse apologizes for recent horrible comments as he has been forced to do in the past. Let’s hope he does it personally this time instead of through a spokesperson.
    “A spokesperson for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tonight issued an apology for the poor timing of the senator’s speech yesterday in which he blamed climate change for the massive tornado that was at that moment devastating the town of Moore, Okla. — a tragedy “unbeknownst to the senator at the time.” The touching and heartfelt heading: “Statement on Tragedy in Oklahoma.””
    “Yesterday afternoon Senator Whitehouse took to the Senate floor to deliver his weekly speech about climate change. It was a speech that had been prepared in advance, and which included a general reference to tornadoes in Oklahoma. Tragically, and unbeknownst to the Senator at the time, a series of tornadoes were hitting Oklahoma at the same moment he gave his remarks. Senator Whitehouse regrets the timing of his speech and offers his thoughts and prayers to the victims of yesterday’s storms and their families, and he stands ready to work with the Senators from Oklahoma to assist them and their constituents in this time of need.”
    Of course we know that the data indicates that there are fewer tornadoes so his science is as bad as his timing.

  22. …the Senator’s desire to use intimidation and fear to impose conformity on climate thinking

    Well if logic, reason and evidence does not support your position,intimidation and fear can work. If that doesn’t work putting people who disagree with you in jail is an appropriate next step for the Senator.
    The comparison with Torquemada is appropriate as well as comparisons with other totalitarian regimes.

  23. lots of people who aren’t true believers wonder as to just how much of a case the AGW crowd actually might have. The answer is obvious – essentially nothing at all. Why? It’s because Earth is not a simple uniform little ball that behaves in a simple way. We have a tremendous amount of historical evidence attesting to the fact that if these CAGW proponents had any case at all – we would not be here now. The fact that we are here means Earth is a very stable environment not subject to runaway conditions promoted by the CAGW crowd.

  24. Remember witches were burned at the stake for changing the weather. Now it’s more lucrative to tax them. Same superstition. I would like VW with their emission scandal to bring down the largest scam against the world and especially tax payers. This could be used to stop this scam. Bring about the truth. Follow the money.

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