On Climate Change And The First Amendment, Yale’s Law School Dean Gives Us A Reason To Be Very Afraid

I just wrote in a comment thread,

“The one thing that could change my mind to believe that Trump is less dangerous than Clinton is that the trappings of Trump and his followers reek of stupidity, and the trappings of Hillary and her allies are redolent of totalitarianism.”

The effort by Democrats and anti-gun zealots to deliberately breach the Fifth Amendment to allow “pre-crime” anti-gun laws was one example of the Obama/Clinton/Sanders left’s creeping embrace of totalitarian principles.

Here is another.

Over the weekend, Robert Post, the current dean of Yale Law School where both Bill and Hillary learned to be unethical lawyers, authored a shocking 0p-ed for the Washington Post. In it, he attached his influence and credibility to the idea that the government should use the power of prosecution to intimidate opponents of government policy and widely accepted left-wing agenda items. I have never seen such a disgraceful breach of academic prestige. If I were a Yale grad, I would be heavily involved in calling for Post’s resignation.

Post is supporting the attempts by Democratic, climate change policy-supporting attorneys general to target Exxon-Mobil for fraud because the company opposes certain climate change measures. This comes after eco-facists like Robert Kennedy, Jr. and climate change shills like  Bill Nye (The Self-Promoting Not-Really-The-Expert-He- Pretends -To-Be  Science Guy) have suggested that “climate change deniers” should be jailed. That’s not the theory, though. The theory is that Exxon-Mobil has defrauded investors by misleading them about the results of their own research. Thus the company has been hit by demands for documents by the Massachusetts and New York attorneys general to reveal all of that research.

Exxon-Mobil, as well as others, has condemned this effort as an attempt to chill First Amendment debate. Post, who has allied himself with the censors because climate change is “settled science,”  bolsters the political inquisitioners’ deceit. “It may be that after investigation the attorneys general do not find evidence that Exxon-Mobil has committed fraud. I do not prejudge the question. The investigation is now entering its discovery phase, which means it is gathering evidence to determine whether fraud has actually been committed,” the esteemed dean writes.

Cute. Of course, once the precedent had been established that the government can force someone into expensive legal defense for “the fraud” of disagreeing with the pronounced truths of the State, then dissent and political opinion will be repressed, suppressed, and discouraged.

Fraud is false representation of  fact, by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed, that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury. Mere mistakes, misstatements and even lies are protected by the First Amendment, and yes, corporations have First Amendment rights. There is a good argument that fraud in a matter like climate change research is impossible, because all the evidence about CO2 and climate research is in the public domain, largely collected and disseminated by government agencies and educational institutions. All Exxon can do is present a differing interpretation of the data, or attack the research’s legitimacy, which, in many cases, should be  attacked. Why do the attorneys general think that it has secret research that shows something other than what the company is telling investors?

Oooh, because they are the bad guys, of course. They oppose expensive and economy-crippling regulatory measures based on flawed and politically biased research. Put them in prison..or at least make an example of them so other skeptics will shut up.

Dean Post makes one jaw-dropping assertion after another in defense of punishing policy debate. Such as…

“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.”

Wow. Scientific theories must always remain “open and subject to challenge.” How does Post, or Martha Coakley, the former Massachusetts AG, or New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, know that climate change science is closed and no longer subject to debate? I checked: there’s no evidence of scientific training of any depth or scientific skill in Post’s record. If he’s like most lawyers, his current profession is a direct result of a realization on his part that his interests and abilities lay somewhere other than science and math. Here he literally doesn’t know what he is talking about–except political ideology and power plays. He knows that.

“If your pharmacist sells you patent medicine on the basis of his “scientific theory” that it will cure your cancer, the government does not act like the Spanish Inquisition when it holds the pharmacist accountable for fraud.”

This guy’s a law dean? This guy’s a lawyer? What a terrible analogy. Patent medicine either does or doesn’t work; it is either poison, a placebo, or medicine, and the one selling it is obligated to know which and not lie about it. Climate change research, in contrast, creates projections of what scientists think will happen, and why.  If anything, climate change promoters are like the false patent medicine seller, making predictions that haven’t held up. The government does indeed act like the Spanish Inquisition when it tries to harass and punish those who are dubious that the patent medicine is as good as its “sellers” claim.

“A potentially analogous instance of fraud occurred when tobacco companies were found to have deliberately misled their customers about the dangers of smoking. The safety of nicotine was at the time fiercely debated, just as the threat of global warming is now vigorously contested. Because tobacco companies were found to have known about the risks of smoking, even as they sought to convince their customers otherwise, they were held liable for fraud.”

Another lousy analogy! Nothing was changing or unknown about smoking cigarettes, and testing and research had unequivocal results that could be relied upon. The tobacco manufacturers knew their product caused cancer and addiction, and publicly stated otherwise, to keep selling cigarettes. Fraud. Causation in the case of climate change, however, is infinitely more complex and subject to many unforeseen influences—that’s why the models keep breaking down. Does Exxon-Mobil know the extent to which CO2 alone causes climate change, how long in duration and how extensive future climate changes will be, what the effects will be, and whether, practically speaking, there is anything that can be done about it? No. No one does. Confirmation bias, financial interest and other conflicts of interest lead various advocates to believe certain scenarios, but since they all involve future events and condition subject to change, they are nothing like linking cancer to tobacco.

Post, as I noted up front, is a disgrace to his school, position and profession, He is a Constitutional Law scholar, yet is lending his prestige and presumed expertise to justify political weaponization of criminal law, and the effort to make it perilous and expensive to dare to oppose government policy on climate change, and heaven knows what else. This is an abuse of his position, and while he also has a First Amendment right to be wrong and irresponsible, as Yale Law School Dean he has an obligation not to abuse his post to undermine free speech and public discourse for partisan motives.

Alex Epstein is a controversial pro-fossil fuels advocate, and current Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has demanded his e-mails with Exxon-Mobil as part of the attack on anti-global warming advocacy. In a full-throated condemnation in Forbes, he wrote:

What ExxonMobil is being prosecuted for is expressing an opinion about the evidence that the government disagrees with. Or, in the case of the #ExxonKnew meme, they are being prosecuted for failing to express an opinion the government agrees with. The “knew” in #ExxonKnew refers to the fact that certain Exxon employees, like anyone else who followed climate science, knew about and discussed the existence of speculative claims that increasing atmospheric CO2 would lead to runaway global warming and catastrophic climate change. As I document in “The Secret History of Fossil Fuels,” chapter 1 of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, many of these claims asserted that we would be experiencing catastrophic climate change today.

Apparently, Exxon was (rightly) suspicious of these claims and the Al Gore-led funding bonanza of scientists who agreed with them. Exxon refused to endorse climate catastrophism and funded alternative research–which they had every right to do even if they ended up being wrong.

Ah, yes, Al Gore, whose famous documentary has been found to have included many false statements and misleading photographs. Oddly, no conservative attorney generals chose to prosecute him for fraud, and Al got rich on those exaggerations and dubious statistic. Why? Because they respect the First Amendment, that’s why, even when it is abused. It has been progressives and Democrats leading the way to use intimidation and the police power to prevail in policy disputes, and Dean Post’s op-ed shows how much this growing tendency has wormed its way into our culture.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

When Alex Epstein  learned that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey had included him in her investigation into climate change “fraud” and was subpoenaing his e-mails, he had a terse, three word response to her.

Fuck off, fascist.

Ethics hero.




21 thoughts on “On Climate Change And The First Amendment, Yale’s Law School Dean Gives Us A Reason To Be Very Afraid

  1. The only real question I have is whose administration would push this–Clinton’s or Trump’s? Sadly, I think both.

  2. Build more prisons, and jail me now. I will not pay taxes to, nor will I contribute to generating revenue for, climate-control freaks and all their bullshit. I will do my part to drain their pockets, divert resources under their control, and ensure their legacy of futility.

  3. Stupid is easier to fix than corrupt, dishonest, and totalitarian. But then, I’m still hoping for the Republican convention coming up with a plan and a better nominee. I’m still not thrilled about having to choose between dysentery and malaria.

      • Except, Trump would have few or no allies in the legislature. Clinton would have allies on all levels to push her agenda. Trump would represent 4 wasted years of the presidency. Under Hillary, the progressive agenda would have 4 more years to slide down the slippery slope of the parade of horribles. Trump would likely accomplish little; Clinton would accomplish too much. Trump will do what benefits Trump; Clinton will do what benefits the world. Trump would be ineffective; Clinton would be very effective. Trump would be impeachable; Clinton would not be.

        • You act like a President is a potted plant. Especially in foreign affairs, a bad leader can do horrible, irreversible things. Impeachment? Oh, THAT’s certainly something to look forward to.

  4. Well, Jack, the Democrats are adopting a call to prosecute dissenters on climate change into their 2016 platform:

    So far, only the Daily Caller is reporting on it. That probably says more for how few journalists really care about the First Amendment. But make no mistake, a major political party is now willing to jail those who disagree with their views on a political issue.

    Also, from the Daily Caller piece:

    The drafting committee, led by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, has decided to back ongoing investigations by mostly Democratic state attorneys general into ExxonMobil’s stance on global warming.

    The chairwoman of the DNC signed off on that provision. Or was aware of it and didn’t order it removed. That action (or inaction on her part) speaks volumes. It’s signature significance.

    On June 23, I said as part of a comment on the House Dems’ sit-in for gun control:

    The ground truth from the big picture is that the entire Democratic Party has become totalitarian. It isn’t just the discarding of due process to deny Second Amendment rights. It’s their war on the First Amendment as well, from compelling a photographer to photograph a same-sex wedding (compelled expression), to using the IRS to target Tea Party groups (punishing people for petitioning for redress of grievances), to the Attorneys General targeting conservative thinks tanks for disputing a certain view about the environment (suppressing free speech), to utter failure to prevent rioters from assaulting people at a Trump rally (failure to protect the right to peaceably assemble).

    That quote, I might add, just scratched the surface.

    How much more evidence is needed, Jack? Do we need to look at the legislation California passed, compelling crisis pregnancy centers to tell women where they could get abortions? Do we need to look at the Wisconsin “John Doe” investigations that targeted conservatives? How about the targeting of Chick-Fil-A by big-city mayors? Or the suspension of the College Republicans by UC Irvine because they want to bring Milo Yiannopoulos back for another event?

    What more do you need, Jack? What more do you need?

    • How much do I need? None..I wrote the post. Your argument is that we should vote for (or against) parties rather than Presidents. I reject that. This isn’t a parliamentary system. I evaluate people. Organizations are made up of people, and they make organizations ethical or not. Organizations don’t have character independent of human beings.

      Yes, that’s very frightening platform plank, if it ends up in the platform. Don’t bet against the GOP having some idiotic plank supporting “God’s law” or clerks who think they have a right to refuse to do their jobs. Practically, platforms are meaningless, symbolic ways for the whackos on both sides to feel represented. Nobody reads them, including the press and the candidates.

  5. If this guy isn’t Exhibit A for the rot infecting the American academy, I don’t know what is. Which is a tragic loss in and of itself but also a dangerous one because these people are affecting current policy and raising successive generations of policy makers and voters.

  6. I’ve been saying that Clinton reeks of totalitarianism for a while. What’s it going to take to tip the scales for you, Jack? I have to say, I think you made a mistake by saying which way you leaned. You of course pride yourself on being a non-partisan ethicist, and, for the most part, you are pretty good about maintaining your neutrality. Once you declare for one candidate or the other, though, that neutrality can be perceived as compromised. It’s difficult to take your (deserved) criticism of Hillary seriously when in other posts you are saying it’s our patriotic duty to vote for her, if only to prevent a Trump presidency. The fact is no one is going to care why you voted one way or the other, and we don’t get to qualify the vote. Once we’ve voted for a candidate, we are stuck with everything that candidate does. I stand by what I said that sometimes bad is just bad, and if, as you gave as an example, the choice is between Hitler and Stalin, one of whom will shoot you because of who you are, the other of whom will shoot you just because he can, then he can just as well do it without your imprimatur. Granted, we aren’t there yet, but I really don’t give a damn if the choice is between mishandling everything and blustering and mishandling everything and cackling. Neither choice is good, and I won’t sign off on either.

    • Wrong, and unfair. I have not indicated support for Hillary Clinton in any way, shape or form. Find another commentator who has been as thorough in documenting her corruption. I still am. We better know what we’re stuck with, so we can minimize the damage she inflicts.

      I have made the only measured, rational decision consistent with the evidence: She’s more fit to be President than Donald Trump, as is almost anyone. The objective of every sane, rational and patriotic American must be to block his access to the White House. Appealing to over-the-top Hillary hysteria is not responsible nor justified. Her party is increasingly authoritarian, but she’s no more so than many previous Presidents, including the current one. There is no evidence that she is anything but a shill for whatever group she is appealing to. She’s a technocrat, essentially, though not a very competent one. More left than Bill, but more centrist than Obama. We have survived Obama, and worse.

      • I do not believe I was unfair. In fact it is because I want to be fair that I am saying I see a disconnect between documenting her corruption, as you have done, chapter and verse, and then saying vote for her anyway, because the opponent is Donald Trump, who you have done equally as thorough a job of going after. The first loyalty of every American is supposed to be to the Constitution, whether sworn to uphold it (as I am) or not, which I thought I grasped until the last few years, not to a party, an individual, or any particular goal. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution once when I was admitted and again when I entered public service. Since then I’ve seen it twisted like putty over the last few years and I really believe the Bill of Rights is in danger. I believe four more years of even farther left policies than Obama’s will be the death knell for a number of our fundamental freedoms. This nation took a full two decades to climb out of the deep, dark hole that the sixties put us in and we’re still feeling the effects. There’s going to be no coming back from this one.

        • It is unfair because I have never stated that I am “for” Hillary Clinton in any way. Our duty as citizens is not to “the Constitution,” but to the nation itself. I chose that comparison of Stalin to Hitler deliberately, because I believe that it is the same kind of choice. Many, like Charles Lindbergh, Joe Kennedy and Genera L Patton, believed that the US should have joined with Hitler to fight Stalin. Many also believed that the United States shouldn’t debase themselves by allying with either. Both of those courses of action would have been, it is safe to say, both disastrous to the world and the US. Not that the Stain alliance wasn’t a cause of other terrible outcomes: it was. But we correctly chose the best and safest of two terrible options, with avoiding the choice being irresponsible and cowardly. FDR was certainly not “for” Stalin..in fact, I’m sure he knew that eventually we might have to fight him. He made the best choice. There is nothing disingenuous about saying that while still recognizing how bad Stalin was, and what harm he might do.

          Hillary is beyond question more qualified and able than Trump, and the argument that her ability makes her worse than Trump is bats. She is also more skilled than Obama, and also more practical and linked to reality. Out first black President is a failure, and I’m certain that’s the last thing he wanted, but he just doesn’t have the chops for the job, and as a narcissist, deludes himself. Hillary doesn’t want to be a lousy President as the first woman in the job, and I assume that she will moderate (and screw over some allies) to succeed, or at least try to. Nobody decides to become President to hurt the nation or fail, and she is no different. Trump IS different, because he has no concept of what being a competent and effective President means….he is, again, like a child.

          STILL no one can muster a positive reason to choose Trump over Hillary. I have stated Hillary’s positives–not much, bare bones, but in the ballpark. But do not say I am “for” her. I had every reason to assume that there would be an opportunity to vote for a better option, since every single Presidential candidate of a major party since elections began would be…even Calhoun, McClellan, Horace Greeley, Wilson, Harding, Stevenson, Goldwater, Nixon, McGovern, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry…yet Trump is worse. No, I would never say “Never Trump” for the same reason it is irresponsible to say “Never Hillary.” Ben Carson and te GOP theocrats come close to being worse than Trump, but they aren’t. Bernie would be a close call—he’s as ignorant, dishonest and deluded as Trump and a crypto-communist too…but I’d still have to pick him over Donald. Let’s see: Al Sharpton? Yeah, I’d have to pick Trump. Maybe Alec Baldwin. I’d vote for Trump over Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Allen Grayson. Probably over Bill deBlasio.

          Because you can’t exempt yourself from responsibility by ducking.

          • “Let’s see: Al Sharpton? Yeah, I’d have to pick Trump. Maybe Alec Baldwin. I’d vote for Trump over Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or Allen Grayson. Probably over Bill deBlasio.”

            That’s good to hear. Also glad I’m not the only one who considers Sanders a Commie. I’m also glad to hear as a student of Presidential history you think the country can survive Obama and a Clinton restoration. I guess we tend to underestimate the resiliency of the American people and the country’s institutions.

          • What, you wouldn’t enjoy the bitter tears and cries of anguish from the MSNBC talking heads on election night?

  7. I agree. Let’s do nothing and wait around until catastrophic climate change events occur. Like the hottest days in recorded history. Melting of the polar ice caps. Torrential floods. Warming seas. Oh but wait. Isn’t that already happening?

    • One thing about sarcasm is that it allows something to sound like a real argument that really isn’t. Not if you do it correctly though, as in :

      I agree: lets spend trillions, wreck the economy and put millions into poverty while lowering the standard of living by enacting measures that we have no idea whether they will work, or whether the conditions we’re supposedly addressing will continue, or when, if ever, their effects will cause problems justifying the sacrifice, just to appear to be caring and “green.”

      That’s responsible and rational.

      See? It’s easy! Except that my version is factual and logical, and yours isn’t—as my sarcasm explains.Oh! I almost forgot! I can legitimately add “Isn’t that already happening?” unlike you (did you know there were floods long before global warming was an issue? And how about all those hurricanes the models said we’d be getting?). It happened when Obama killed the pipeline to show he cared about climate change even though everyone agrees that the project wouldn’t have accelerated warming and eliminating it won’t address warming at all.

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