Yesterday's rally in Chicago against the Heartland Institute's climate pseudoscience conference went well...
Attendance was in the dozens rather than hundreds, but given what's been happening the last few days in Chicago that wasn't a great shock.
...(Why so many from tiny Shimer? Bit of a long story there. Or maybe we're all just "brainwashed," as a Heartland supporter I'll refrain from linking to has suggested.)
...A perhaps less-welcome figure who joined the protest was fringe Democratic candidate Vermin Supreme. I hadn't previously been familiar with Mr. Supreme's work, and I can't say I'm especially a fan. But his interaction with the suit-clad trolls who shambled over from the Heartland conference around lunchtime was rather illuminating. It was as if Vermin Supreme and the Heartlanders had each finally found someone they could interact with on their level. Supreme's central argument -- "I have a boot on my head, therefore your argument is invalid" -- rather sounds like it could have been lifted from a Heartland blog post, and his characterization of his interlocutors -- "Lord Christopher Monckton is a TROLL!" -- was unquestionably spot on, if admittedly lacking in rhetorical finesse.
...(After a while, mercifully, the left- and right-wing trolls went off together, leaving the adults alone again to talk among themselves.)
...I'll confess I'm a bit of a "skeptic" myself on the value of street protests (plus I'm kind of lazy), and so it takes a lot to get me out there, even when the protests are the kind I can bring my dog to. But there was an unmistakably positive energy in the air yesterday, and some thousands of passing Chicagoans had their awareness raised about the corporate backers of the Heartland Institute. Names like "Pfizer," "Comcast" and "Microsoft" will mean something just a little different to them now than they did last week.
But Heartland was facing a cash crunch even before the Gleick expose.
Nine employees were due to be laid or take pay cuts in 2011, according to the budget documents obtained by Gleick.
That there are such well-financed and coordinated efforts is not contentious.