ExxonMobil

Free Speech and Climate Fraud Prosecution Follies

The First Amendment does not protect fraud, but it does protect public debate over climate change.

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SpeechMuzzledBowie15Dreamstime
Bowie15/Dreamstime

Over the weekend, the Democratic Party platform included a climate change plank that "respectfully request(s) the Department of Justice investigate allegations of corporate fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies accused of misleading shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change." This is in line with a set of Democratic state attorneys-general (AGs United for Clean Power) who are pursuing climate change fraud investigation against oil giant ExxonMobil.

The allegedly motivating idea is that ExxonMobil possibly defrauded stockholders by not telling them about how projected climate change might damage its business prospects. One member of the global warming legal cabal is the particularly ambitious (and quite clueless) attorney-general for the U.S. Virgin Islands Claude Walker. Earlier this year, Walker issued a subpoena demanding that ExxonMobil turn over all records of any communications that the oil company may have had since 1977 with over 100 think tanks, advocacy organizations, and so forth. (The Reason Foundation that publishes this website was included in the subpoena dragnet.) Many of those organizations had expressed doubts about the significance of man-made global warming and the urgency of adopting policies to counter it. Walker clearly believes that such communications might provide evidence that oil company had orchestrated and paid for a conspiracy to mislead the public about the seriousness of climate change.

In addition to the subpoena to ExxonMobil, the USVI attorney-general Claude Walker issued one to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) demanding it provide "a decade's worth of communications, emails, statements, drafts, and other documents regarding CEI's work on climate change and energy policy, including private donor information. It demands that CEI produce these materials from 20 years ago, from 1997-2007, by April 30, 2016." CEI pushed back in federal court. The result is that Walker withdrew his subpoena, but said that he might file something similar in the future.

CEI is arguing this week in DC Superior Court that the USVI pay for attorney's fees, court costs, and other sanctions. Claude wants CEI's lawsuit against him and his office dismissed, arguing that "CEI has wasted enough of VIDOJ's and the court's limited time and resources." CEI president Kent Lassman points out that CEI didn't start these legal proceedings, adding "Apparently Attorney General Walker believes that Constitutional abuses are are not worth the court's time. As if from a parallel universe where everything is reversed, Walker claims that CEI's motions in response to overreaching and abusive action initiated by his office are a waste of his time and resources.  An attorney general is neither above the law nor out of reach of the DC Superior Court."

In the meantime, several Republican attorneys-general have sent a dear colleague letter to the "AGs United for Clean Power" cabal urging them to desist from abusing their prosecutorial powers to stifle free speech on the issue of climate change. They point out that if minimizing climate change is fraud, exaggeration of climate change is also fraud. If oil companies must disclose how projections of worsening climate change might affect their businesses to avoid fraud charges, so too must "clean energy" companies disclose how milder trends to higher temperatures could affect their future profits in order to avoid defrauding shareholders. In addition, the Republican AGs point out that both fossil fuel and clean energy companies provide funding to non-profits who share their viewpoints. "Under the stated theory for fraud, consumers and investors could suffer harm from misstatements by all energy-market participants and the non-profits they support," notes the dear colleague letter. "Yet only companies and non-profits allegedly espousing a particular viewpoint have been chosen for investigation."

The dear colleague letter further notes that the AGs United for Clean Power's "investigation inescapably implicates a public policy debate and raises substantial First Amendment concerns. As our colleagues must know, a vigorous debate exists in this country regarding the risks of climate change and the appropriate response to those risks. Both sides are well-funded and sophisticated public policy participants. Whatever our country's response, it will affect people, communities, and businesses that all have a right to participate in this debate."

The dear colleague letter makes the salient point that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander: "Once the government begins policing viewpoints, two solutions exist. The first solution is to police all viewpoints equally. Another group of Attorneys General could use the precedent established by the "AGs United for Clean Power" to investigate fraudulent statements associated with competing interests. The subpoenas currently directed at some market participants could be met with a barrage of subpoenas directed at other market participants."

Over at the Washington Post, Yale University law professor Robert Post argues that First Amendment free speech guarantees do not protect fraudulent speech. According to Post's analysis, the Democratic AGs are merely seeking to find out what did ExxonMobil know about climate change and when did it know it. "If ExxonMobil has committed fraud, its speech would not merit First Amendment protection," writes Post. "If the First Amendment does not prevent lawsuits for fraud, it does not prevent subpoenas designed to provide evidence necessary to establish fraud."

Free marketeers are surely against fraud, but was it fraud when biologist Paul Ehrlich asserted that hundreds of millions would die of famine in the 1970s; when Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrère, Kenneth Deffeyes, and Daniel Goodstein all predicted global peak oil production by 2010; when statistician Nassim Taleb claimed that biotech crops could cause an "irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be planetwide"; when natural remedy huckster Joseph Mercola maintained that exposures to trace amounts of synthetic chemicals is a major cause of cancer? All these claims were sincerely believed and argued by their proponents and yet have now been proven largely wrong. And don't say that the difference is that these folks didn't have a profit motive for saying what they said; they all make money as authors, consultants, and snake oil salespersons.

While styled as a fraud investigation, the AG's investigation amounts to a kind of prosecutorial strategic lawsuit against public participation, widely known as a SLAPP. While the AGs United for Clean Power make no secret that they hope that their investigation will yield them billions in the moral equivalent of climate reparations, the additional goal is to shut up advocacy groups that argue that climate change is not as big problem as the Democratic AGs think it that it is.

As I reported when Schneiderman first filed his subpoena, ExxonMobil had started stating in its annual report in 2006 that climate change policies could affect its business going forward. That also happens to be the year that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared in its Fourth Assessment of climate science that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."

With regard to the AGs investigation, ExxonMobil spokesman Alan Jeffers has recently stated, "The great irony here is that we've acknowledged the risks of climate change for more than a decade, have supported a carbon tax as the better policy option and spent more than $7 billion on research and technologies to reduce emissions." He added, "It should make people question what this is really all about."

Actually, it is all too apparent what it is all about.

In any case, it is not as though shareholders and consumers had not heard for years now that burning fossil fuels causes climate change and that regulators were aiming to cut the use of such fuels. Nevertheless, ExxonMobil's stock price has never fallen below its trading January 1, 2006 level even after acknowledging climate change as a possible business factor in its annual reports.

For more background on this issue, please read my colleague Matt Welch's superb article, "The Transparency Bullies." For more background on my history of reporting on climate change, see my 2006 article, "Confessions of an Alleged ExxonMobil Whore."

Disclosure: Over the years I have worked with several groups listed in the USVI subpoena on a wide variety of public policy issues relevant to resisting government encroachments into free markets, mostly not having anything to do with climate change. And I still own 50 shares of ExxonMobil stock that I bought with my own money.

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  1. OT: The beginning of the end for AI?

    A free online chatbot laywer has managed to overturn a staggering 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York City, saving users an estimated ?2.9 million.
    The artificial intelligence bot was launched just 21 months ago and is touted as the “world’s first robot lawyer”.
    DoNotPay uses a simple chat-based interface to guide users through a range of basic questions to establish if an appeal on their parking ticket is possible.
    These include queries on whether there were any visible parking signs at the location where the ticket was given.
    The AI lawyer then guides the user through the lengthy appeals process.
    The chatbot is the brainchild of 19-year-old British student and self-taught coder Joshua Browder.
    The Stanford University student’s site has won an impressive 160,000 of the 250,000 cases that it has taken on so far.
    “I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society. These people aren’t looking to break the law. I think they’re being exploited as a revenue source by the local government,” Browder told VentureBeat .

    That guy is a fucking hero

    1. A free online chatbot laywer has managed to overturn a staggering 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York City, costing the cities an estimated ?2.9 million.

      Fixed that for The New York Times.

      1. This is actually quite relevant to Bailey’s article, because he too only tells one side of the story. The other side is that we are dealing here with an obvious case of probable fraud, because the companies involved have arguably been deceitful. Hell, it’s even irresponsible to invoke the “First Amendment” when an accusatory academic “parody” is so inappropriately deadpan that it arises to an act of criminal deceit. Would any of the “free speech” whiners dare to defend the outrageous “First Amendment dissent” filed by a single, isolated, liberal judge in America’s leading criminal “satire” case? See the documentation at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

        1. No, actually they haven’t “been deceitful”.

          You know, since “climate change” hasn’t appreciably affected the world, let alone the “business prospects” of those companies over the last 30 years (the approximate amount of time this asshole AG thinks they’ve known about “the scientific reality of climate change”).

          And of course the fact that it is not readily apparent that climate change is a scientific reality. (And save me any of your bullshit. When they say “climate change” they are referring to man-made climate change. Anyone with half a brain cell knows that the climate of the world has changed multiple times over the billions of years we’ve been floating in space.)

          1. When they say “climate change” they are referring to man-made climate change.

            ‘Global warming’ was a little too explicit; so ‘climate change’ as a phrase has become a slimy ambiguous continuum. It is like asking if one believes in UFO’s.

            Taken literally, of course people see things they can’t identify in the sky, all the time. But there is connotation ‘believing in UFO’s’ means believing in contactees getting probed nightly by Zeta Reticulans in league with Area 51. This is rhetorical equivalent of ‘climate change,’ but for a different pseudoscience.

    2. The hero the city needs.

    3. This is fucking awesome.

      “I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society. These people aren’t looking to break the law. I think they’re being exploited as a revenue source by the local government.”

      Spot on, brother.

      1. ridiculous reasons while being treated like crap by the very people whose salaries they pay and then turn around and vote the same deadbeats back into office year after year. I’m glad that Browder has had so much success and I hope he expands his success but citizens need to do something about the reason they’re used as piggy banks to begin with.

        1. Um, what happened to the beginning of my comment? I’m to lazy to retype it.

    4. I love the kid and his work, but this

      “I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society”

      Is silly. Having a car in London or New York City is massively expensive, the most vulnerable can’t afford it.

      1. In Manhattan, perhaps. Car ownership is much more common in the other boroughs.

        1. I was speaking to cost, not how common it is.

          It is expensive everywhere to own a car in Neq York City.

    5. I’m sure the bar association have already contacted mayor DeBlasio, Gov. Cuomo, and their representatives in Congress and legislation is in work to make lawyer bots illegal.

    6. My Co-Worker’s step-sister made $13285 the previous week. She gets paid on the laptop and moved in a $557000 condo. All she did was get blessed and apply the guide leaked on this web site. Browse this site….
      This is what I do________ http://www.Trends88.com

    7. My Co-Worker’s step-sister made $13285 the previous week. She gets paid on the laptop and moved in a $557000 condo. All she did was get blessed and apply the guide leaked on this web site. Browse this site….
      This is what I do________ http://www.Trends88.com

  2. And I still own 50 shares of ExxonMobil stock that I bought with my own money.

    Thanks, Bailey. I needed a laugh this morning. Good article as well.

    1. Ugh. Just another 1%er rubbing his extreme wealth in our faces.

  3. …Yale University law professor Robert Post argues that First Amendment free speech guarantees do not protect fraudulent speech.

    Even if true, the science, of course, being settled, there can be no doubt that any speech not alarmist is fraudulent.

  4. respectfully request(s)

    LOL.

    1. (with you staring down the barrel of a gun)

      1. I know what you’re thinking. “Did he swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, or was he crossing his fingers behind his back?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is federal law, the most powerful tool of coercion in the world and would blow your little advocacy outfit clean out of the water, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

  5. Let’s make clear. At the very least, it is not the job of the state to determine what is science and what is not.

    1. WaPo: Exxon-Mobil is abusing the first amendment
      Robert Post is the dean and a professor of law at Yale Law School.

      …The obvious point, which remarkably bears repeating, is that there are circumstances when scientific theories must remain open and subject to challenge, and there are circumstances when the government must act to protect the integrity of the market, even if it requires determining the truth or falsity of those theories. Public debate must be protected, but fraud must also be suppressed. Fraud is especially egregious because it is committed when a seller does not himself believe the hokum he foists on an unwitting public….

      1. Absolutely. Let’s start by investigating the tidy fortunes made by certain academics-cum-advocates in their capacities as activist professors.

      2. Upcoming plank of the Democratic Party:
        Ministry of Truth?

      3. “…there are circumstances when scientific theories must remain open and subject to challenge..”

        For something to be scientific, then the theories that are used to support that idea must ALWAYS AND FOREVER remain open and subject to challenge. People are still challenging the theories of Newton and Einstein.

      4. I eagerly await this asshole advocating for lawsuits against all the green energy companies that lied to their investors and the government about their ability to produce equipment or power.

  6. Bailey is only writing this article to protect his financial interest in those 50 shares. We should take away his free speech too.

    1. That’s about $4500 worth of stock, enough to pay 5 Reason interns for a year.

      1. Reason pays its interns? What kind of libertarians are they?

        I mean, that’d be like if I started giving my orphan slaves more than one bowl of gruel a day.

        1. You give them gruel? I just give ’em 10 minutes at mid-day to forage.

          1. I give them Krusty Brand Imitation Gruel. 9 out of 10 orphans can’t tell the difference.

          2. Can I have some more please, sir?

        2. What kind of libertarians are they?

          COZMO FAGGITZ!11!!1!!!!!

  7. One member of the global warming legal cabal is the particularly ambitious (and quite clueless) attorney-general for the U.S. Virgin Islands Claude Walker.

    Henceforth known as Clod.

    1. He’s stirring up shit, so Wokker is also appropriate.

    2. Clod Wanker?

      Sounds like another goat fucking DA.

  8. Liberals should bring back the Salem Witch Trials while they’re at it. Nothing like a good witch burning to accompany a witch hunt.

    I’ll even bring marshmallows.

    1. Oh, you think you can put on “The Crucible” on our campus.
      wrongthinkwrongthinkwrongthink

  9. The dear colleague letter makes the salient point that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander: “Once the government begins policing viewpoints, two solutions exist. The first solution is to police all viewpoints equally.

    USAGs: We’ll take it!

  10. My initial reaction to that AGs lawsuit was that only desperate people take such ludicrous actions. Not that they know of any adverse science that would yank the rug from underneath them, I doubt the science would change that fast, but that they realize they are losing the PR battle and glommed onto this stupid lawsuit out of sheer panic.

    1. Or they are getting cocky and overconfident, and trying to buttress the agenda without thinking, much like The Norwood Builder who added a fingerprint to the crime scene after Sherlock Holmes had already investigated it.

      Either way, it’s not the move of people who believe in their cause, but the move of people who believe their cause is a good vehicle for pushing State expansion and suppression of independent thinking by proles.

      1. S-
        And don’t forget the other, possibly main motivation, “We’re not doing it for money, we’re doing it for a SHITLOAD of money!”

    2. Yes. As I recall Obumbles and Lynch had a summit where they explored this idea right before the state AGs took this action. Who is naive enough to think they did not do this at his behest? It is a trial balloon.

      It isnt just the kind of thing desperate people do, it is the kind of thing banana republic shitweasel authoritarians do, exactly what I would have expected from him.

      1. Lysenkoism today, lysenkoism tomorrow, lysenkoism forever!!!

        God damned progressives aren’t even hiding the fact that they’re god damned commies anymore!!

    3. My initial reaction to that AGs lawsuit was that only desperate people take such ludicrous actions.

      Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s neither desperation nor cockiness, just routine ratchet-pulling. They may get (and have been) embarrassed in court, but there’s little chance anyone will be sanctioned.

      1. I don’t expect sanctions. But this is not your ordinary pile-on-the-charges-and-make-him-sweat, it’s a big effort, and it doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to see the First Amendment aspects. That’s what seems so out of the ordinary to me.

        1. Republicans should be baying for blood over this. It’s a fucking disgrace to a disgraceful profession, the implications are obvious, and it’s an easy sell for voters: they’re trying to shut down speech and power through the Democrats’ agenda. So, naturally, the stupid party could not care any less.

          1. So, naturally, the stupid party could not care any less.

            See: the “dear colleague” letter from the Republican AG’s. They want to use the same tactics against green energy companies (and probably other pet leftist causes). Most of them are probably happy as pigs in shit that the Dems are setting this precedent for them.

          2. “Republicans should be baying for blood over this.”

            Why the fuck depend on them to fight your own fight? Especially since all the cool kids view “Republican opposition” to something as a de facto stamp of approval.

            1. Ain’t those fucking cool kids going to be surprised in the future when they don’t adequately toe the party line?

              Plus they’ll find out that no one can adequately toe the party line.

        2. “…it doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to see the First Amendment aspects. That’s what seems so out of the ordinary to me.”

          (Paraphrased)”We have to rethink our stand on freedom of speech. The rest of the world doesnt see things the way we do.” – Obama in wake of Benghazi attack

          Does it seem out of the ordinary?

          1. Ah who knows. I expect AGs to have a better grasp on that than Obama. But he’s their boss, so they ask how high when he yells frog.

            I do like the Republican AGs’ letter hinting at sauce for the gander.

          2. A Republican does something profoundly stupid gets reported as ‘Republican does something profoundly stupid.’

            A Democrat does something profoundly stupid gets reported as ‘Republican goes off the deep end attacking Democrats.’

      2. It’s neither desperation nor cockiness, just routine ratchet-pulling.

        Exactly. No downside, potential upside, so why not?

        Now, if they were facing criminal indictments for conspiracy to deny civil rights, I suspect this calculation would change. But that will never happen, so the ratchet will continue to turn.

        1. Now, if they were facing criminal indictments for conspiracy to deny civil rights, I suspect this calculation would change.

          I wish I was in the parallel universe where, after winning in a landslide, this is one of the first actions of President McAfee. But we don’t get to live in that universe.

          I really need to hurry up and invent that wormhole device that will allow me to travel between alternate dimensions.

    4. My initial reaction to that AGs lawsuit was that only desperate people take such ludicrous actions.

      They harass and terrorize because they can. Because it’s fun. Because it gets their rocks off. And because it serves as an example to others who might dare disagree with the government.

      They’re not desperate, they’re simply exercising power because they love to do so.

      George Orwell – 1984

      “We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.

      Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face ? forever.”

      1. They harass and terrorize because they can. Because it’s fun. Because it gets their rocks off. And because it serves as an example to others who might dare disagree with the government.

        Indeed. “Pour encourager les autres.”

  11. OT: so even after, we came, we saw, he died, and overthrew the government, it was ghaddify loyalist who came to the rescue on benghazi. #jihadihillary

    http://www.nbcnews.com/politic…..ck-n600121

  12. But, of course, this is simply the advancement of asinine interference between private (even publicly traded companies are private, or they were) entities – management of a company and its shareholders. A few decades ago, the government got involved in what companies could say, and how to say it, to their shareholders – because they were “public” entities. Maybe if people had gotten a bee in their bonnet twenty years ago, maybe shit like this would have been avoided. Now it’s simply being commandeered for specific political memes. It was certainly foreseeable, but maybe – striking at the root – if the SEC had been shit canned in the thirties, none of all of this shit would be happening. There were some, of course, who could see what the results of FDR’s socialism was going to be and here it is. But not enough people did, or had the guts to do anything about it. And now you’ve got massive corporations who have long ago made their peace with the regulators, and they’ve nearly merged into a singularity. The worms who are willing to take a CEO, or a CFO, or a COO job in this infested environment are people who WANT this type of environment. The John Galts don’t even apply anymore. The same shitty ivy League idiots who populate Washington now populate the upper levels of our mega-corporations. These are the same shits who populate the upper levels of the EU bureaucracy. The fascists have largely won. Hopefully Brexit is the turning of the tide against this New Order.

    1. You know, I’ve often wondered why Corporate America has gotten so ridiculously asinine in the 10-15 years I’ve been in the business world. You just absolutely nailed it on the head for me.

      1. So, it’s basically a Jesse Jackson-style shakedown.

        1. I am shocked.

        2. it’s basically a Jesse Jackson-style shakedown.

          look at how much money trial lawyers and state-governments made off of the Tobacco Settlement.

          Initial payments
          In addition to annual payments beginning on April 15, 2000, the MSA required Participating Manufacturers to make upfront payments in each of the first five years after the MSA’s execution, or a total of about $12.75 billion, adjusted for the volume of cigarette shipments in those years compared to the volume in 1997

          Annual payments (made in perpetuity)

          Just as the Settling States’ Medicaid and other healthcare costs due to their citizens’ smoking-related illnesses will likely continue indefinitely, the MSA provides that the Participating Manufacturers’ payments to the Settling States will continue in perpetuity

          The “base amounts” of these annual payments gradually increase, beginning at $4.5 billion in 2000, $6.5 billion from 2002?2003, $8.14 billion from 2008?2017, and $9 billion in 2018 and each subsequent year in perpetuity.

          Rough math = about $125 billion to date

          Most of which has been wildly misused for political-benefit

          1. Only a small fraction of the money has gone to tobacco prevention. Instead, the states have used the windfall for various unrelated expenditures. In Alaska, $3.5m was spent on shipping docks. In Niagara County, N.Y., $700,000 went for a public golf course’s sprinkler system, and $24 million for a county jail and an office building. And in North Carolina, in the ultimate irony, $42 million of the settlement funds actually went to tobacco farmers …

            But that’s not all: Nine states ? Alaska, California, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia ? and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam decided to get as much of those annual payments as fast as they could by mortgaging any future payments as collateral and issuing bonds. They traded their future lifetime income for cash today ? at only pennies on the dollar.

            Because of the high probability that these bonds will not ever be repaid, they had to be sold at well under their original $1,000 face value in order to attract investors. The 12 issued $22.6 billion in bonds, receiving only $573.2 million in cash. With compounded interest, they will have to repay $67.1 billion. Imagine borrowing $200,000 to buy a house today and your children having to pay back $234 million in 40 or 50 years. That’s the scale of this problem. And some of the states went even further: Michigan will have to pay back more than 1,800 times the amount it borrowed.

          2. Which explains the opposition to vaping. It cuts into tobacco companies’ revenues and payments into the fund.

            1. And also, somewhat ironically, the tax revenue they get on top of that.

              The more draconian the system, the easier it is to quadruple dip I suppose.

    1. The government’s claim is that Exxon committed fraud by coming to different conclusions than Al Gore.

      Hey, Al Gore invented the internet, so I’m pretty sure that makes him far more knowledgeable about climate science than some oil company scientists/ shills. /prog-derp

  13. I think the first Amendment does protect fraud. It just doesn’t protect you from the consequences of Fraud. The first amendment most certainly protects fraudulent speech. You are only guilty of Fraud if your fraud results in some kind of damage or you engage in an attempt to cause such damage. If I tell a woman I think she is gorgeous and wonderful to get her into bed all the while knowing she was neither but I just wanted to get laid, I am engaging in fraud. That, however, is not a crime nor could it be because it doesn’t result in any monetary damage.

    Much like “yelling fire in a crowded theater’, fraudulent speech is protected like all speech. What is not protected is stealing someone’s money, be that by deception or force. In the case of fraud, I am not being arrested for my speech, I am being arrested for my actions.

    What is going on with this law is they are trying to make the act of lying a crime. That is criminalizing words and is an assault on the First Amendment in a way fraud laws are not. It doesn’t really matter what your opinion on AGW is. Even if you think these people are liars, you still should object to this because it is not the act of fraud.

    1. What about perjury?

      1. To be guilty of perjury, your lie has to be material to the case. So if I get up on the stand to testify about a murder I witnessed playing golf and lie about my score that day, I have not committed perjury. I only commit perjury if I lie about something material to the case at hand.

        So you can make the same distinction with perjury you make with fraud. It is not the words that are the crime. It is your act of defrauding the court by lying about a material fact.

        1. “I didn’t rape that woman, and believe me, if I had she’d have woken up.”

          1. For some reason I read that in the voice of Bill Clinton…

    2. You make an important distinction, one apparently lost on the states AGs. Bailey correctly notes that Exxon shares never fell, the shareholders who were supposedly defrauded never lost money.

      As tarran notes above this was about extortion, it was never intended to see the inside of a courtroom.

      1. What’s frightening is that the burden of proof applied to their TEAM is apparently non-existent, whereas the burden of proof for a null-hypothesis is apparently something they require.

        The bizarre thing is, that ‘Consensus’ they love to quote actually includes scientists that don’t think climate change is even dangerous, or bad, yet is routinely used to prove something that those scientists never actually claimed.

        I’m of the opinion we’re all doomed if this is what passes for critical thinking these days. I mean, I’m no paragon of reason or anything but it peeves me off that these so-called ‘Elites’ want modern society and all that entails for themselves and their ilk and want the rest of us huddled masses to either die or get back on their plantation to continue to exist.

        Thanks, but no thanks.

    3. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of speech.

      If your speech causes damage (whether by fraudulently parting someone from their money, or fraudulently influencing a court decision), why shouldn’t there be consequences?

      But if it doesn’t cause damage (nobody bought into your fraudulent scheme, or you lied about something that was immaterial under oath so it wouldn’t affect the outcome), then there shouldn’t be consequences.

  14. I think Alex Epstein pretty succinctly produced the proper response to the Attorneys General United for the Suppression of Vice and Promotion of Virtue

    Fuck off, fascist.

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  16. This conspiracy of environmental activists and attorneys general, now manifestly joined by the elites of the Democratic Party in their party platform, demonstrates what so-called progressives and liberals really think about the freedom of speech.

    Despite their ostensible claim to be protecting defrauded shareholders, this conspiracy does not give a damn about ExxonMobil shareholders, of which I am one. I certainly do not feel at all defrauded by ExxonMobil.

    If anybody is guilty of fraud, it is the charlatans who promote socialism as the quack cure for what ails you. Can I sue Jonathan Gruber for his admitted fraud that has cost me a doubling in my medical insurance premiums? Can I sue Obama for his obvious fraud that under his mandate that, if I liked my old plan, I could keep my plan, or that I could keep my doctor?

    1. Progressives have no principles. Any tool they lay hands on is an expedient for advancing the progressive agenda. If that tool happens to be promoting freedom of speech, then speech is a good thing. If speech must be squelched in furtherance of the agenda, then it’s a bad thing. At no point is there any reflection on the underlying philosophy of the thing, because none exists. Speech, as with all rights, is merely an obstacle on the cultural battlefield.

      1. The Progressive principle is power by any means necessary.

      2. The term you are looking for is “Expedience”

        1. It was a badly constructed sentence in any event. I think I meant “is expedient.”

      3. My college poli sci prof once described the left as “pragmatic.” They were people willing to actually do things to help society. The right was “principled” and as such were paralyzed and did nothing but obstruct progress.

        Ever since I have hated pragmatists. I don’t give two shits what your easy solution is. If it results in my having to die you can shove your solution up your ass. I’ll take the long, non-pragmatic solution because it’s the right thing to do. Oh… and it doesn’t literally end in burning piles of millions of bodies.

        Dr. Walter Block recently joked (maybe) about seeking to jail those who promote minimum wage laws because they create a real harm. I’m not to that point… it sounds too much like what the progs are doing in this case. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tempting.

        1. My college poli sci prof once described the left as “pragmatic.” They were people willing to actually do things to help society

          Nope.

          While some might argue that the claimed motivation of “The Great Society”-programs was to “help”….

          ….to argue that they represent any kind of Pragmatism would require first demonstrating that “Gigantic bureaucratic entitlement schemes are more effective in promoting health & financial-prosperity than just handing people money directly”

          the fact that the people for whom hundreds of billions of dollars has been misdirected annually are mostly *still poor*, and most medicaid recipients fare worse in health-outcomes than people who get nothing… undermines any claims that these represent “pragmatic” approaches.

          Pragmatism means you are always willing to choose the more-effective option when its demonstrated that the current one isn’t working.

          Expedience, however, means you can endlessly put off ever having to undo-horrible decisions, because perpetuating bad ones is simply more politically convenient.

  17. Tobacco companies knew that smoking was dangerous and addictive. Yet they withheld this information from the public and even promoted the opposite as ‘facts’: “smoking is healthy and not habit forming”. It is blatant fraud when lives are at stake. Global warming is just as dangerous and some people might actually believe the energy companies’ propaganda. This could result in a worldwide epidemic of death and destruction. The First Amendment is not a suicide pact.

    1. I realize that performance art is subjective and I truly try to be open-minded.

      But…

      The First Amendment is not a suicide pact.

      Weak, dude. Just weak.

      1. They can’t all be gems.

      2. Weak, dude. Just weak.

        There’s also the fact that the quoted statement = “smoking is healthy and not habit forming” was/has never made by anyone at any time. Committing fraud in an attempt to accuse others of fraud is tr?s progressive

        1. Slander in defense of proggressivism is par for the course.

        2. Tres progressive et chic.

    2. Global warming is eugenics revisited.

          1. More like Phrenology – which really was based upon the best science of it’s day. And much like Phrenology, climate change science is a little bit of knowledge filled in with large swathes of wishful thinking and social projection.

            1. Perhaps, but the policies they encourage will lead to more widespread death and destruction than if their prognostications came true. Hence the comparison to Eugenics, which frankly I somewhat agree with although neither is really a perfect analogy. (I’d like yours better except I don’t think Phrenology killed a whole lot of people…)

              This is some bizarro world insanity here if you ask me. The ‘cure’ is literally worse than the ‘disease’. Go figure.

              The real irony to me is that a group who call themselves ‘progressives’ want to hold the planet in some kind of magical stasis. Not all so-called climate scientists think that way, I’d even say most don’t, but their followers sure seem to think that’s the goal and no one seems terribly interested in breaking them out of that delusion.

              1. Also, although I don’t think anyone will make the mistake, I mean I agree with the analogy not eugenics ^_-

    3. The First Amendment is not a suicide pact.

      Correct. The second is the suicide pact and it guarantees we can die as equals. Otherwise, it would be a declaration of intent for murder.

      1. Is that B for bullshit?

    4. I was hoping you/Dajjal/other shitstains of your ilk would form a suicide pact. The quicker you get started the less resources you will take up for the future children. Remember, this is for the children. #foad4dakidzfuture

    5. Welcome to retardation, a celebration…

    6. Re: AddictionMyth,

      Global warming is just as dangerous

      As dangerous as smoking? A natural phenomenon, as dangerous as consciously putting smoke and tar inside your own lungs?

      Dude, you’re hysgerical. You need a few slaps on the face like that lady passwnger in “Airplane!”

      1. I speak jive!

        And so does AddictionMyth.

    7. In WWII, cigarettes were commonly called “coffin nails” so don’t try to claim that the tobacco companies convinced anyone of anything. The analogy further fails because tobacco directly kills you when you consume it but fossil fuels are essential to our way of life (go ahead, try to do without them, I dare you) and any harm is far in the future and there are both winners (e.g., Canada) and losers. The earth is in fact greening as a result of CO2 and warming so far (see recent papers in Nature). All human activities create some waste and some pollution. Do you suggest throwing humanity in jail?

  18. Come on now guys, the Constitution is just for gay marriage and abortion and important stuff like that. \progderp

  19. No mention of the plank in the democrat party’s official platform calling for the prosecution of climate skeptics?

    But Trump’s the scary fascist.

    1. …am I missing something here?

    2. I was not aware of this…is it their official position? I thought this was just a trial balloon for using prosecution against their political / philosophical enemies.

      1. Democratic operatives responsible for creating their party’s platform this year have unanimously adopted a provision calling for the Department of Justice to investigate companies who disagree with Democrats on global warming science.

        A panel of Democrats voted Friday to approve a final draft of the party’s platform to promote “Progressive Democratic Values,” which apparently includes investigating energy companies who “misled” shareholders about global warming.

        Another joint proposal calling on the Department of Justice to investigate alleged corporate fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies who have reportedly misled shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change was also adopted by unanimous consent,” according to the Democratic National Convention’s website.

        1. “…the scientific reality of climate change…”

          A restatement of “The science is settled”, a clear indication that they have no idea what science is. The same ignorance that gave us “…well, *scoff*, evolution is just a theory!”

  20. The dear colleague letter makes the salient point that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander: “Once the government begins policing viewpoints, two solutions exist. The first solution is to police all viewpoints equally. Another group of Attorneys General could use the precedent established by the “AGs United for Clean Power” to investigate fraudulent statements associated with competing interests. The subpoenas currently directed at some market participants could be met with a barrage of subpoenas directed at other market participants.”

    I just love how these fuckwits seem to be completely oblivious to the (should be) obvious fact that whatever tactics use to silence their ideological opponents today could be turned around on them tomorrow. And the wailing, gnashing of teeth, and stamping of feet when/ if it ever is will be epic. I can’t wait for the deluge of salty ham tears when that happens. Brexit will be nothing in comparison.

    1. I just love how these fuckwits seem to be completely oblivious to the (should be) obvious fact that whatever tactics use to silence their ideological opponents today could be turned around on them tomorrow. And the wailing, gnashing of teeth, and stamping of feet when/ if it ever is will be epic. I can’t wait for the deluge of salty ham tears when that happens

      It’s not something to celebrate; consider the impact of the escalating tit for tat political fighting at the end of the Roman Republic. Eventually, it collapsed into mob violence, with unlucky people being killed on the street because the guys with swords thought they might be political opponents.

      1. True, hopefully by the time that happens, I’ll be long dead. And since my wife can’t have kids, I won’t have to worry about any descendants getting fucked over.

      2. It’s not something to celebrate; consider the impact of the escalating tit for tat political fighting at the end of the Roman Republic.

        Its already started. I was telling some colleagues today that we seem to be in Weimar Germany, with gangs of fascists and communists engaged in open street brawls with knives and clubs.

        1. Yeah, for people who wonder how something like Nazism could happen in a civilized country like Germany, just take a look around, because the death camps didn’t happen overnight.

  21. Do any lawyers out there have any knowledge as to whether “Scientific Reality” has any legal meaning whatsoever? or is that just something made up on the spot?

    1. They got their ass burned by the ‘The science is settled’ nonsense, so they rephrased it. Clever tactic, that.

      They think science is wearing a lab coat.

      1. *See Bill Nye…their idea of a scientist.

      2. Global warming Climate change is settled science scientific reality.

        1. That is true. What is in dispute is the cause of the current climate change and whether man has significant influence.

          1. If only there was some gigantic fireball the size a million Earths somewhere in our solar system that we could, I don’t know, see with the naked eye or something.

            It would really help if nature was that obvious! We’ll have to go with the real scientists on this one though. It must be the Carbon and Oxygen, not to mention the much more dangerous Hydrogen and Oxygen.

            The scary thing? The same people that panic over CO2 don’t bat a friggin’ eye at H2O, yet both are greenhouse gasses. If you really want to see a head explode all over your shirt tell them which one is actually more significant and what percentage of our planet it makes up.

            It’s well and good to have a theory, but saying we need to regulate CO2 now before the world burns is like saying we need to regulate human genetics before evolution turns us into birds.

    2. I assume there would be some legal argument made that “Scientific reality” as a category is something which doesn’t need to rise to the level of “Legal Fact” because…. i don’t know, “Black Holes” or something?

      e.g. “Some things are scientifically acknowledged to exist for which we have no direct empirical evidence of”

      However the indirect evidence would need to be so unbelievably compelling that no legitimate competing theory even exists; and i sincerely doubt anything regarding climate change would come remotely close to that.

      And what would be the outcome of inventing such a category? Making scientific research which competes against any current-operating assumptions potentially “illegal”? String-theorists would all be subject to lawsuits?

  22. Dear Democrats,

    Take your authoritarian poppycock and irrational bull shit and shove it up every single one of your asses who ever you may be.

    Forevermore and more,

    Rufus.

    1. You’re awesome Rufus. You are so polite when angry.

  23. Is it possible that anthropomorphic climate change is real?

    What a stupid argument this whole scam is. A giant ball of fire millions of miles away rules our lives. How can a few hundred factories be more influential on our weather than that thing?

    1. sue the sun and anyone who worships her

  24. This argument about AGW or as it’s called now “Climate Change” is so f’ing ridiculous that I have a hard time believing that there are really people that are so f’ing stupid; whether they are True Believers or just being intellectually dishonest.

    I remember even back when I was in Elementary school in the mid 60’s lessons regarding “Climate Change” on this planet, Ice Ages, warming periods, cooling periods etc. It was simply understood as an established fact that these things occur here on this planet. And interestingly enough, these cycles went on long before there were any humans around. I learned this in f’ing elementary school and we apparently didn’t need reams of satellite data or trillions of dollars in govt money to figure it out. I believe in climate change because that’s what the geological record of this planet tells us occurs here. All by it’s self….

    You don’t like Climate Change? Then go find another plant to live on dumbass, because that’s what happens here on this one . Think that Man is totally destroying the planet through “greenhouse gas” emissions. Then do yourself and mother earth a favor and go f’ing kill yourself. That way, you’ve done your part to reduce humankind’s carbon footprint and we get the added benefit of not having to listen to you whine.

    Sorry this isn’t exactly germane to the subject, but I was channeling JATNAS .. in reverse….

    We have clearly managed to circumvent Darwinism to our own peril.

    1. I have a hard time believing that there are really people that are so f’ing stupid; whether they are True Believers or just being intellectually dishonest.

      The public school system does a good job of indoctrinating students into believing several premises that make it easy to believe in Global Climate Change. First of all, people are bad. We’re bad for the planet. Everything we do is unnatural and bad. Second, corporations are bad. They pollute and lie and cheat and steal. Profits are bad, and anyone who approves of profits or makes a living off profits is not to be trusted. Only government can be trusted, because government is The People.

      So when you put that all together, it’s pretty easy to believe in Global Climate Change. After all, human activity is bad, and corporations are bad. That means that burning fossil fuels must be bad. No need to prove that it is bad. It’s unnatural human activity that enriches corporations. It’s bad. Government says it’s bad, so it must be really bad. Corporations and scientists who depend on profits disagree, which means it must be really, really bad.

      When people are fed a diet of false premises, they don’t have to be stupid or dishonest to come up with fallacious conclusions.

      1. Sorry, I read that as ‘fallatious’. Same thing though in this scenario, right?

      2. Schools, the great institutes for creating generational dependency and the artificial lengthening of childhood. Oh, and they are fantastic (p)re-education camps.

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  26. In the meantime, several Republican attorneys-general have sent a dear colleague letter to the “AGs United for Clean Power” cabal urging them to desist from abusing their prosecutorial powers to stifle free speech on the issue of climate change. They point out that if minimizing climate change is fraud, exaggeration of climate change is also fraud.

    That makes perfect sense except that the exaggerations of the consequences of climate change are not really exaggerations when the right people peddle them.

  27. 50 shares bought with Megan’s money, Peter. Let’s be totally honest here.

  28. lets see multiple AG’s decide to go after those they don’t like could we use the RICO act against the AG’s

  29. Interesting take.

    Have an opinion, Ronald, on this letter sent by Lamar Smith to the Union of Concerned Scientists asking for emails sent to organizations such as Greenpeace, etc?

    http://science.house.gov/sites…..s/05.18.16 SST Letter to UCS.pdf

    Or is that just a righteous investigation and not a precursor to Lysynkoism.

    1. Lysenkoism*

    2. Try again with link http://science.house.gov/sites…..s/05.18.16 SST Letter to UCS.pdf

    3. The link is on this page, which is UOCS response.

    4. So you’re saying that these AG are in fact abrogating free speech and the Democrat party is endorsing shutting down free speech as well within their party platform?

      Or are you trying to argue science with broken links and a member of the stupid party as evidence?

      1. Link is there. Read again. The UOCS site.

        No. Unlike Ron, I find it all silly. I like Uocs response….take a hike. It’s not the end of free speech.

        1. It’s adorable that you think reading a response to an unknown is somehow evidence of the original unknown statements veracity or duplicity. Your knowledge of logic and deduction is truly astounding.

          Might as well say “Republican say thing, Republican bad, Therefore thing bad.”

          I mean your first two arguments in this chain would actually be true, it’s just that last part you’re having issues with.

          As usual.

          1. Thanks, but I have no idea what you are speaking about.

            My point, as always, is the selective outrage at Reason

            When climate believers want emails, it’s the end of free speech. When deniers want them, see Smith, it’s righteous. And when emails are stolen…no problem here at Reason.

            That’s it. I could not care less about the emails. But Ronald cares. Once in a while.

            1. Jackand Ace|6.28.16 @ 6:28PM|#
              “Thanks, but I have no idea what you are speaking about.”

              And scant idea of which you post.

  30. So, this is essentially admitting that corps must be active pamphleteers for every one of the government’s agenda pieces, or face the DOJ.

    Also, I wonder how impatient the government will get when it demands that 40 years worth of correspondence be given, as opposed to when the unwashed masses demand likewise of them.

    I wonder if we have yet to see “peak retardation” yet in the global charade for more and integrated government?

    1. Nah, no sweat. The government just claims undue burden and lights a cigar with the request. The average waiting time to have even basic FOIA filled is frankly criminal. I mean that literally, they aren’t meeting the requirements of FOIA law. Don’t hear about it from the media very often, if at all, but I guess the media has no interesting in having their FOIA filled.

  31. Their are two sides to this climate argument. Both side have either a monetary interest and/or political interest. And both sides have plenty of liars. Fraud is a crime but we seem very reluctant to charge anyone with fraud, like the big banks who were definitely guilty of fraud. They were rewarded by fraudulent politicians using taxpayer money.

    There is a big problem here and it is not climate change. It is that we have to pay all these criminals, liars., who care absolutely nothing about the planet or any of the people who inhabit it.

    1. Actually there are a lot more sides than that, it’s just that everyone seems to think the climate is binary (Static /or/ Changing). Virtually all the debate centers around humanities actual provable role in changing the environment. That is the literal, quoted, consensus view. It’s obvious though, isn’t it, that the climate changes? You would need be actually be retarded to believe it doesn’t?

      The idea any scientist, any scientist at all, can correctly predict what a trillion-billion inputs are going to do in a system as complicated as the Earth is pissing on your leg and telling you it’s raining. Compound that when you realize we don’t even have an accurate record of the last 100 years of history let alone 4 billion.

      Hell of a data set, yeah?

  32. The problem is the word “fraud”. In the SEC world, to claim that you sold 10million units when you only sold 4, or to claim your new drug passed safety tests when it failed, is fraud that affects the stock price. But these are matters of material financial fact. Exxon began stating in 2006, as required by law, that the regulatory picture is uncertain and could affect its business. What in the world statement by Exxon would satisfy Al Gore? That sea level will rise 20 feet? But no scientist believes that could happen sooner than 500 years even in the worst case. Or to state, as Hansen has, that fossil fuels could end life on Earth?
    Even more critically, the best policy response (carbon tax, windmills, solar farms, C sequestration, planting trees and at what cost) is not a “material fact” but a judgement or opinion about which the politicians themselves disagree.
    So, clearly “fraud” here concerns not matters of scientific fact but matters of policy that depend on how good you think the models are, how you evaluate risk, your time-frame for decisions,etc etc. It is a stretching of the word fraud way beyond the criminal meaning.

  33. Back to things important on climate and not made up threats to free speech, 31 of our best science organizations sent a letter to Congress warning them of the severity of the crisis we are facing.

    “There is strong evidence that ongoing climate change is having broad negative impacts on society, including the global economy, natural resources, and human health. For the United States, climate change impacts include greater threats of extreme weather events, sea level rise, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems. The severity of climate change impacts is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades.”

    AGU, AAAS, and 29 more.

    Time to wake up.

    1. This statement conflates “already having” and “will have” –ie a forecast. Multiple studies have failed to find any upward trend in US droughts, floods, or fires over the past 100 years. Hurricanes are at a historic low (only Sandy since Katrina). Sea level rise has been steady (linear) for the past 50 years (ie, not accelerating) and is currently about 3mm/yr (multiply that out you get about a foot in 100yrs). Recent study in Nature Climate Change shows the Earth is greening. Global crop yields have been increasing steadily for 50 years. So “severity of …impacts is increasing” is false. The scare stories are increasing of course.

  34. They point out that if minimizing climate change is fraud, exaggeration of climate change is also fraud.

    Well, that’s ridiculous, as it’s not possible to overstate the dangers of climate change. It will cause the seas to boil, the earth to rend asunder, and the light of the sun itself to extinguish for all time!

    FOR ALL TIME!

  35. Trump is quoting Ron Paul when he uses “policeman of the world.” Ron Paul, of course, was quoting Martin Luther King. Trump is not the only one who has been coached in mimicking Ron Paul in hopes of getting the same ardent support. It’s just that when they try it we don’t believe them. Dr. Paul reported that a number of people kept asking him how he inspired support (he said it wasn’t him, it was the message), and those people have gone on to coach other politicians. I’ve even seen advertisors try to borrow the language. As soon as I hear a politician sound like Ron Paul, I question his sincerity. Ronald Reagan wasn’t the only one with good speech-writers.
    On the other hand, Gary Johnson actually has a record of balancing budgets, and vetoing bills that are too long and complicated, so there is hope.

    1. Oops. Website refresh error. Comment was for another page.

    2. Trump also quotes fellow republicans Ron Paul & Son for bans on abortion to enlist more customers for delivery room medical practitioners. Trump also promises prison sentences for potheads and psychedelic “dope fiends” to protect Coors and Anheuser-Busch from competition.

  36. The text of all “global warming” proposals boil down to transfer payments from relatively civilized industrial societies to totalitarian dictatorships that make trade and production a crime. The Kyoto Protocol, f’rinstance, omits communist China from the list of miscreants whose taxpayers would be looted for CO2 and water vapor transfer payments.
    That Democratic, CPUSA and Econazi “climate science” is on all fours with Republican and Tea Party “creation science” is evident at the realclimatescience website.

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  38. If there was fraud, the defrauded victims should stand up get restitution for the contracts that were violated. Government prosecutors have no legitimate role in this, they are only trying to further an agenda…

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