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Cuccinelli goes fishing again

Filed under: — group @ 4 October 2010

In keeping with our role as a site that tries to deal with the science of climate change rather than the politics, we have specifically refrained from commenting on various politically-motivated legal shenanigans relating to climate science. Some of them have involved us directly, but we didn’t (don’t) want to have RC become just a blog about us. However, the latest move by Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia, against Mike Mann and UVa is so ridiculous it needs to be highlighted to the widest audience possible.

For background, Rosalind Helderman at the Washington Post has covered most of the story. The last installment was that Cuccinelli’s attempt to subpoena 10 years of emails between 39 scientists and Mike Mann and ‘all documents’ residing at UVa related to four federal and one Commonwealth of Virginia grant, was thrown out by a judge because Cuccinelli did not provide any reason to suspect that fraud had occurred and that federal grants are not covered by the relevant statute. Without due cause, the AG is not allowed to investigate (and without such a restriction, there would be no end to politically motivated witch hunts).

Yesterday, Cuccinelli filed a new demand that takes this previous judgment into account. Namely, he attempts to give a reason to suspect fraud and only targets the Commonwealth grant – though still asks for 10 years of emails with an assortment of scientists. However, his reasoning should scare the bejesus of anyone who has ever published a paper on any topic that any attorney might have a political grudge against. For the two papers in question the fraud allegation is that the authors

… knew or should have known [that they] contained false information, unsubstantiated claims, and/or were otherwise misleading. Specifically, but without limitation, some of the conclusions of the papers demonstrate a complete lack of rigor regarding the statistical analysis of the alleged data, meaning the result reported lacked statistical significance without a specific statement to that effect.

So in other words, if you publish a result that might turn out to be statistically weak or with understated error bars – even if this was in no way deliberate and regardless if you were aware of it at the time – Cuccinelli thinks that is equivalent to fraud. And any grant that you apply for that even cites this paper would therefore be a false claim under the statute. Cuccinelli is specifically not stating that deliberate scientific misconduct must have occurred, all you need to have performed is an inadequate (according to him) statistical treatment or you made an unsubstantiated claim. If you want “unsubstainted claims”, Soon and Baliunas (2003) (cited approvingly by Cuccinelli) would be a great example of course. But more generally, this would clearly open up pretty much the entire literature to ‘fraud’ investigations since one can almost always improve on the statistics. You didn’t take temporal auto-correlation into account in calculating the trend? Cuccinelli thinks that’s fraud. You didn’t fully characterise the systematic uncertainty in the “unknown unknowns”? That too. You weren’t aware of the new data that showed an older paper was incomplete? Too bad. This is not just an attack on Mike Mann, it is an attack on the whole scientific enterprise.

However, as appalling as this reasoning is, Cuccinelli’s latest request is simply bone-headed because the grant in question, entitled “Resolving the scale-wise sensitivities in the dynamical coupling between the climate and biosphere”, simply has nothing to do with the MBH98 and MBH99 papers! Even if one agreed with Cuccinelli about their quality (which we don’t), they are not referenced or mentioned even obliquely. The grant was to look at how climate variability impacted land-atmosphere fluxes of carbon, water and heat and doesn’t involve paleo-climate at all. So even if, for arguments sake, one accepted Cuccinelli’s definition of what constitutes ‘fraud’, nothing associated with this grant would qualify. We doubt there could be a clearer demonstration of the inappropriateness of Cuccinelli’s case.

Well, maybe one. In the attachment to the subpoena, Cuccinelli repeats his claim that since Mann used the word “community” in a blog post here on RC, he must therefore be using “Post Normal” jargon, and that might be “misleading/fraudulent” in the context of a grant application. Really? Scientists who use the word “community” regardless of context are therefore to be suspected of fraud? This is just embarrassing.

It might be worth pointing out that under the Virginia Bar ethics guidelines, it states that:

A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others.

We can only wonder when this will start to be applied to the current AG.

444 Responses to “Cuccinelli goes fishing again”

  1. 51
    Diogenes says:

    This is very reminiscent of what is happening locally in Phoenix…Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former county prosecuter Andrew Thomas are now under investigation for abuse of power in similar ways…overreaching to punish enemies. Federal investigation into Arpaio now fully underway. I suggest that a similar request to Holder et al might bring a similar outcome. All it takes is someone with a bit of clout to get this on the federal radar…it passes the smell test of a continous pattern of intimidation and fishing that we see locally here.

  2. 52
    Hank Roberts says:

    > APEC Study Group
    Oddly, searching for the cite with the 2003 date Cuccinelli used
    http://www.google.com/search?q=APEC+Study+Group%2C+Australia+April+4%2C+2003
    turns up copies like this one, with “2003” in the header line:
    http://www.geo.utexas.edu/courses/387h/PAPERS/conf05mckitrick.pdf
    As John Mashey points out, a clue that the writer didn’t look at the original.
    McK has a correctly dated page at his website:
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/McKitrick-hockeystick.pdf

  3. 53
    veritas36 says:

    I’m not a lawyer but I read Cucc’s original subpoena and I saw the obvious problems with it. Indeed, the judge’s decision told Cucc to stick to the law and only the one state grant was under Va’s jurisdiction. Further, Cucc had to present a reason for suspicion of that work.

    It appears Cucc did not heed the judge’s admonitions and is way of the legal questions again. I’m betting the judge will dismiss this subpoena with some prejudice or perhaps serious censure.

    John Mashey, thanks for a great job on the Wegman report. It appears this is the basis for the \statistical\ problems cited. So you have provided excellent source material for the UVa attorneys.

    I hope Cucc gets kicked in the teeth so badly the taxpayers of Va and the voters who are decent human beings wake up to his seeming incompetence and malfeasance.

  4. 54

    Guys,

    As you know, I couldn’t agree more.

    -Chip

  5. 55
    Jacob Mack says:

    This is certainly very extreme. The science is pretty damn good at this point. And scientists are human beings thus emails would be more casual and rough around the edges. In my University where I work we do not walk around stating: “the hamiltonian” and “transesterifcation of the spliceosome.” We argue, debate and engage in Uni politics. This does not mean the science we teach and research we conducted is fraud or anything of the sort at all. Ofcourse our microbiology professor thinks her program should get more funding than the “evo” biology program in the more classical tradition. Climate science is a science conducted by humans who do some very excellent work. I have yet to see any legitimate statistician disprove AGW; or physicist for that matter.

  6. 56
    J Bowers says:

    A document thar may be of interest: ‘Science, Technology, and the First Amendment Special Report: Congress of the United States, Office of Technology Assessment’.
    http://www.fas.org/ota/reports/8835.pdf

    If you jump to page 67, it talks about a Professor Steven Goldberg of Georgetown University Law Center (who sadly passed away last August) and his arguments that science enjoys special protection under the First Amendment. Perhaps someone in Georgetown could give some advice on this?

    “Professor Steven Goldberg of The Georgetown University Law Center is among those who argue that science enjoys, under the Constitution, possibly more protection than even political or literary speech. He argues that those who participated in drafting the U.S. Constitution, particularly Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Franklin, were men of the Enlightenment, with broad interests in science, who regarded scientific freedom from constraint by church and state as essential to democracy and constitutionalism.2 Goldberg argues that the Constitution contains an ‘implied science clause”: that Congress may legislate the establishment of science but not prohibit the free exercise of scientific speech.
    […]
    “As leading first amendment scholars have long recognized, suppression of scientific information is inconsistent with the democratic political process . . . . Even when scientific work is not immediately applicable to political controversies, it plays an important role in maintaining a free and informed society. Such was the view of the framers, and it has been the consistent view of the courts (p. 16).””

    I’m not sure how that plays against local state legislation, but surely (especially in light of the singling out of an individual PI) Cuccinelli could be at least attempting to limit First Amendment rights in context of pursuing scientific truth (with a right to make mistakes without criminilisation), and is using Michael Mann and his research as a vexatious test case that could challenge the First Amendment?

  7. 57
    Sonicfrog says:

    Hey all:

    Long time lurker (since the site appeared on the intertubes) and a skeptic (not denialist, skeptic). I just want to add my two cents… this is a travesty. As I wrote when this broke a few months back, if this is strictly about misappropriation of funds, then fine. If it’s about a conservative AG’s political witch hunt trying to prove the science is a fraud through the court, rather than through science, then this is a VERY bad idea. The courts are NOT the place to decide science – John Edwards and the faux cessation /Cerebral Palsy link comes to mind. When thinking about policy decisions, I always try and put the shoe on the other foot. My question to the hard core skeptics, what will happen when a “AGW True Believer” AG decides to go after Pat Michaels or Richard Lindzen in the same manner, simply because they disagree with the science? Would you be OK with that too? I bet not.

    PS. No offense to any witches who might get angry at being associated with Mann – please don’t turn me into a newt! :-)

  8. 58
    Sonicfrog says:

    Oops, should have been cesarean….

  9. 59
    Hank Roberts says:

    Cuccinelli is involved in multiple arguments for the broad conservative agenda, each demanding individual attention. Tactically, it’s effective; people may focus on distractions meant only to suck energy and attention away from much more important moves.

    Cuccinelli’s challenge to federal health care law uses “arguments similar to those made against the New Deal legislation” (New Yorker 9/27/2010 at 34, 40, Toobin’s article on Justice Breyer). One of those will get to the current Supreme Court — which has already overturned decisions by previous Courts and is taking cases offering more such opportunities.

    It’s a broad and well-funded program, e.g.:
    http://www.mytimesdispatch.com/index.php/virginiapolitics/cuccinelli_health-care_suit_gets_support_in_court/

    Watch for the smoke and mirrors.

  10. 60
    veritas36 says:

    The subpoena http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/New%20Mann%20CID.PDF

    seems to hang on Mann’s references to his earlier paleoclimate papers in his application for the grant. #32 Steve Melzer points out that Mann’s grant application predates the Va law Cuccinelli is invoking.

    If the judge reads it this way, he will throw the case out. His original decision strongly suggested Cucc come back with good legal reasoning. I don’t think this subpoena qualifies; I will be interested to see how the judge handles this.

    The subpoena requests email,etc, from a who’s who in climate science. And some who are n’t there, like Wegman.

    By the way, I dislike the distressing suggestion that statisticians ought to validate climate science, otherwise the scientists are negligent.

  11. 61
    Jacob Mack says:

    I do not see a problem with statisticians working with climate scientists since even the independent reports indicated general accuracy but need for less sloppy methods. I agree #59 that the suggestion that it is all false without them is extreme as well. There was a recent independent statistical analysis that did validate the general findings of Mann and others though which I was glad to see. Of course the range for future temp projections are still quite large and some of the published papers do have wide error bars but the general premise that C02 especially acts as a positive forcing and water vapor as a positive feedback, is clear.

    Now I agree with Gavin:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/04/target-co2/

    A 6 degree increase from doubling looks far too high. That does not mean that Hansen’s work is fraudulent either. His is a high estimate. These are not predictions they are projections. A statistician or two would be helpful which is different from being a pure mathematician but there is a lot of physics and chemistry involved in these processes too being considered. Some warmin causes cooling but this does not translate into a global cooling. The papers do vary with quality and accuracy but they are not purposely made to lie to the people either. Climate science like any science has plenty of room for improvements and past errors.

  12. 62
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    A useful test of Cucinelli’s charge would be to expand its reasoning to the office of Attorney General: all investigations in the state that fail to lead to convictions should be considered grounds for indictment of the state Attorney General.

  13. 63
    Tim Jones says:

    Cuccinelli’s complaints, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the Tea Party’s astroturf uprising, climate gate, Proposition 23 in California, Inhofe’s attacks on the reputations of scientists are all part of obscenely rich American libertarian industrialist’s conspiracy to make government in America of, by, and for the rich. If they can confuse the public enough about a warming climate they can enrage and confuse us enough to have us toss out everyone focused on doing something about it. It’s all about Capitalism and power, the power to pollute in the pursuit of profit.

    The merits of Cuccinelli’s case have little relevancy to a strategy of overthrowing the ruling political party and the will of the populace by any and every means available. Whether Cuccinelli wins or loses the dirty work is done.

    All they have to do is create enough fear of jobs being lost to the the dubious merits of environmental legislation. Their campaigns of instilling fear and hatred are well documented. The strategy is expressed in a very simple equation. Fear plus hatred equal power. Create the fear. Focus the hatred. Give people an answer and they will give you the power of elected office to calm your anxieties about the future. It’s brutal, Machiavellian. And it works.

    We can’t just focus on a narrow court case. The whole thing has to be put into the right perspective so folks are
    enlightened as to the nature of the game.

  14. 64

    Below is what I sent to 60+ contacts in the government and media. Please consider doing so also.

    The Attorney General of the state of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli II, is attempting to force the University of Virginia to turn over email communications and other documents related to the climate science research of Dr. Michael Mann who worked at the University between 1999 and 2005. This is Cuccinelli’s second attempt to question the integrity of Dr. Mann’s work. A Virginia judge has already ruled against Cuccinelli’s first attempt.

    In 1998 and 1999, Dr. Mann, along with Drs. Bradley and Hughes, published two important research articles related to historical temperature reconstructions known as MBH98/99. MBH98/99 were essentially the first of their kind and showed that the last few decades have been warmer than any in the past 1,000 years.

    At the request of Congress in 2006, a panel of scientific experts was convened by the National Research Council to assess the validity of MBH98/99. The panel chaired by Dr. Gerald North found that although there were some statistical problems with the reconstructions, these issues were minor and did not change the results. Modern global temperatures were significantly warmer than in the past 1000 years.

    The most recent article on this subject by Dr. Mann and six other scientists is dated 2008 and shows essentially the same results. More recently, Kaufmann et al. (2009) and Thibodeau et al (2010) confirm Mann’s results. The IPCC (2007) concluded:

    Paleoclimate information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1300 years. Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns.

    Since 2007, just about every international body of science supports the IPCC conclusions.

    Cuccinelli’s latest move would mean that if a scientist makes a mistake in a published document while using public funding, that scientist has committed fraud. Science advances by trial and error. When mistakes are made, the peer-review publication process usually roots them out. Cuccinelli’s version of this process is “make an error and go to trial.” Einstein did not arrive at E=mc2 in his first attempt. If he were working in the state of Virginia under Cuccinelli today, he could be jailed for his initial mistakes and perhaps never achieve that landmark equation.

    Dr. Mann and other scientists who are trying to understand climate change will not be available to help prevent the crisis if they are defending themselves against politically motivated witch hunts, or worse, sitting in a jail where their talents are being wasted.

  15. 65
    CM says:

    Obscene as Cuccinelli’s CID is, a paragraph of truth may be found on pages 22–23.
    ;-)

  16. 66

    I agree with Gavin … a 6 degree increase from doubling looks far too high.

    But you can’t tell anyone why you agree or why it is too high. Let me guess – “It just is”!

  17. 67

    This is what ambitious Attorney Generals and District Attorneys do. It is a standard mode of advancement, from a job that should be not at all political into a position to be candidate for higher office.

    In a just world, this would be something that could be safely ignored, as a reasonable judge would simply throw it out and discipline the abusive Attorney General. And all this should go on as quietly as possible to avoid lifting the perp to a level of fame with angry people who have no idea what this is all about. But skill to handle this immediate issue in the actual, real world is an art I do not know.

    There is a bigger problem to deal with, while this silliness passes. How that is handled will determine whether a lot more of this kind of silliness goes on. If I understand the political mood of this country correctly, we are in a time when demagoguery will fluorish. In this kind of political climate, the more confrontational the global warming issue becomes, the more unlikely will it be that meaningful action will come to pass.

    In this way of thinking, I suggest that measures that amount to handing out stern medicine to fix the CO2 problem are not so wise. I put the various financial schemes to tax fossil fuel dependent activities in the category of stern medicine. Strict limits on CO2 and requirements for ‘carbon’ capture are also stern medicine. The scientific rationalle behind such measures is obvious, but the wisdom of such is another thing.

    This is why I sense that it is time for a ‘coming together’ kind of solution such as the massive forestation concept I have discussed in previous comments at this site. Simply reiterated, this would involve massive forests being established in low productive areas of continental North America, using water distribution by an aquaduct system that would enable us to make use of water from northern areas of the continent. Standing forest mass would capture CO2 and sequester it as carbon compounds in wood. Using an approximate formula that a ton of forest mass would balance use of a ton of coal, this project would support continuing use of the abundant coal that we have available. An essential feature is that this forest project would be a self sustaining economic system, where initial and on-going costs would be recovered from forest products and agricultural products that would also be made possible with the water system. Establishing and managing such a project, to insure capacity and permanence of such carbon sequestration, would be a National project of scope necessary to alleviate the employment crisis that we face. This is the simple basic plan; I only note that it would also involve serious discussion of the international issues as well as the technical details. The key words are \water distribution\ and \massive standing forest mass\.

    I suggest a plan of this sort would fit with research in other energy production concepts such as nuclear, where the forest plan would hold things under control until research in nuclear power found ways to deal with the present waste problem and also brought to a level of practicality that it would enable cost effective transition from the existing coal fired electric power installations.

    So it seems to me that there is an opportunity to step forward with a new kind of thinking about solutions, such as described, that will work for everybody. It might turn out that water will douse this demagoguery and anti-science will be made a soggy subject of no political appeal.

  18. 68
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    “What inspires such vindictiveness in a man that he persists in this prosecution even though he cannot demonstrate any reasonable suspicion of fraud? ”

    There is language in there that reflects that of our friends over at WUWT and Climate Audit and the specific statistical routines that they’ve written about.

  19. 69
    Al says:

    Doug Bostrom says:
    5 October 2010 at 0:21
    …Well, the central character is a cockroach.

    I think you’ve totally missed the point of the previous “Kafkaesque” allusion. This is not about “The Metamorphosis”, but “The Trial”, in which the defendant never knows what the accusation is, and in this case the situation is in a lot of respects just as surreal, but also in this case I would have a lot more confidence in the judiciary than Josef could have. I can’t see out-of-control prosecutors winning out in the end.

  20. 70
    Alexandre says:

    Just dropping by to express my support to you guys, and to prof. Mann particularly. You do a historically essential job, and should not be bothered with this kind of nonsense.

    Please, give it as little energy as possible.

  21. 71
    mattlant says:

    Micheal Mann, If you are reading this, I hope nothing but complete victory and total vindication for you and your coleagues. This is an absolute discrace, not only to Science, but to the tax payers footing the bill, and makes a complete mockery of the justice system.

    Good Luck, but in this case, I doubt it will be needed.

  22. 72
    John McManus says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the indictment is based on entries to a CV. Would it not be just as bad to excise published papers from a CV?

    I have read WUWT and I know stupid, but there can be few still loose who would find the word community confusing.

  23. 73
    Mike#22 says:

    I just read the pastiche, er, filing. Great opportunity. A line by line critique of this would be very useful.

  24. 74
    John McManus says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but the complaint seems to be entries in a CV. Would it not be wrong to delete published papers from a CV?

    I have read WUWT and I know stupid, but I doubt anyone at liberty would be confused by the word community.

  25. 75
    Chris Winter says:

    Just after Clinton and his staffers moved out of the White House, there was a spate of news stories about how the incoming Bush administration accused the “Clintonistas” of intentionally trashing the place — removing the “W” keys from typewriters, etc.

    Ultimately, a GAO investigation found some intentional damage, but no way to determine who was responsible. By that time, responsible newspapers (e.g. the Boston Globe) had decided the charges were trumped up. But the new administration had the advantage of several months of headlines critical of its opposition.

    Cuccinelli’s campaign strikes me as similar. He’s not likely to make it into court, but even so the news media in Virginia will have covered it for several months, off and on, and now on the verge of the mid-term elections. No doubt he’s doing it in hopes of advancing his career; but failing that, the public will see headlines charging that Mann (and by extension all of climate science) is a fraud. Advantage: GOP.

  26. 76
    swv says:

    knew or should have known [that they] contained false information, unsubstantiated claims, and/or were otherwise misleading. Specifically, but without limitation, some of the conclusions of the papers demonstrate a complete lack of rigor regarding the statistical analysis of the alleged data, meaning the result reported lacked statistical significance without a specific statement to that effect.

    This is an exact description of why deniers like Cuccinelli are going to be prosecuted under a Nuremberg type tribunal.

    Remember this- no Nazi broke any German law. The law we prosecuted Nazis under – crimes against humanity- did not exist at the time the Nazis were later decided to be breaking them. In fact, the Allies prosecuted the Nazis ex post facto- their actions were categorized as criminal after they occurred; the laws we applied were retroactive.

    Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Cuccinelli and all the other DA’s political operatives, oil executives, lobbyists, congressmen the whole criminal gallery who, as Mr. Cuccinelli puts it ” knew or should have known [that they] contained false information, unsubstantiated claims, and/or were otherwise misleading. Specifically, but without limitation, some of the conclusions of the papers demonstrate a complete lack of rigor regarding the statistical analysis of the alleged data, meaning the result reported lacked statistical significance without a specific statement to that effect. and whose actions resulted in harm and death to billions of innocent people are, in fact, guilty of crimes against humanity.

    Cuccinelli and his ilk are declaring a point blank war on science and war on scientists. That is another way of saying they are declaring war on civilization.

    If they’re not stopped, we’re going to be like the Soviet Union under Stalin where scientists who pursued the wrong avenues of inquiry or reached the wrong conclusions were “dealt with”.

    People like Cuccinelli will decide what the nature of reality is.

    And don’t kid yourself, this would be A-OK with the most active 30% of the American political electorate.

    No one is going to save us just as no one is going to save the earth. There is no higher authority to appeal to, this is a war for civilization and the fate of the earth itself as much as WWII ever was . This is WWIII.

    We’re at a crossroads with the climate. Future generations will judge us on when we recognized the true nature of the threat and what we did about it as scientists. Either science in the person of scientists will use the tools at their disposal to act to preserve civilization or civilization will perish from the face of the earth.

  27. 77
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Sung to the tune of “Mack the Knife,” with apologies to Bertholt Brecht…and everyone else.

    In the state of Ol’ Virginia;
    Lives the nozzle of a Douche;
    And if he has a grudge agin’ ya;
    Then beware of Ken the Cooch.

    Well in science, he’s no training;
    Neither clue nor expertise;
    But who needs to tell it’s raining?
    He’ll just rely on sleaze.

    In the courts he’ll seek to try us;
    Who cares if the charge true;
    After all, reality has a liberal bias;
    Or so says you know who.

  28. 78
    BillS says:

    Richmond, VA sits about 46 masl. Perhaps someone should acquaint the attorney general with Pascal’s Wager? Even if he does not care, perhaps his children do?

  29. 79

    Careful guys, don’t go to the barricades on this one. In a knock down drag out fight, there are nowhere near enough scientists to win.

    The Cucinellis of this world are delighted to pick a fight that they know will be a brawl that they will benefit from.

    Try to find ways to make common cause with reasonable people. Even some people who are a little unsure about it all might be useful allies.

  30. 80
    Douglas says:

    I sometimes use a text-to-speech utility to “listen” to blog posts and comments. The software pronounces Cuccinelli as “Kook”-sinelli.

    It makes hearing about this clown slightly more bearable.

  31. 81
    david says:

    What exactly is Cuccinelli hoping to find ? The linked post article mentions that he is trying to get five grant applications written by Mann – surely these and anything else relevant to the allocation of research grants are in the public domain anyway ?

  32. 82
    deconvoluter says:

    Anyone who has dipped into the ‘grass-roots’ or astroturf comments which follow some of the articles about climate science in the media will not be so surprised at recent developments. Even the moderated comments have included some extremely personalised attacks and libellous lies.

    Much of this stuff trickled down from above. Someone with influence is now behaving like one of those disagreeable and foolish commentators. What is needed is some effective method of moderating people with power. Difficult problem.

  33. 83
    Buzz Belleville says:

    As a lawyer in Virginia and a professor of the law of climate change, I have been following Mr. Cuccenelli’s actions quite closely. There are a number of half-hearted attempts to have him recalled. The Mann witch hunt is but one of many deplorable things he has been doing to waste taxpayer money. He has also filed suit in my state’s name over EPA’s endangerment finding and the health care bill. He’s advised Va. universities that they are not allowed to grant protections to students based on their sexual orientation. He has advised law enforcement folks that they have the current authority to stop citizens to demand proof of citizenship, as the AZ law tries to do. He covered the woman’s breast on the state seal of Virginia. He has advised that Planned Parenthood facilities must meet certain hospital standards with regard to facilities (that he knows they cannot meet). He snatched photos from a student newspaper without a warrant. The guy is pretty far out there. There probably are legitimate grounds for recall if someone would get serious about it. The starting point is a petition signed by 10% of the number of registered voters who voted during the AG election in 2008. I hope someone gets serious about pursuing his recall. He ambarrasses me as a lawyer, a Virginian, and a citizen concerned about climate change.

  34. 84
    Kate says:

    Terrifying…I hope that the courts realize how out of line this is.

    Kate
    http://climatesight.org

  35. 85
    Sailesh Rao says:

    The profits at stake here are orders of magnitude larger than the profits that led to the deliberate introduction of lead in gasoline. To get an idea of what to expect, please read this account in the Nation:

    http://www.thenation.com/article/secret-history-lead

    As you can see, even today, 75 years later, corporations are continuing to poison third world countries with leaded gasoline, putting profits over human life.

    The American political system has always led to tense struggles between the pursuit of profits vs. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. At various times, e.g., slavery in the nineteenth century, the pursuit of profits has had the upper hand, but the system has eventually righted itself. I’m afraid that we must expect persecutions such as that undertaken by Cuccinelli to continue as fossil fuel interests are not going to go quietly into the night.

    Is there a legal fund set up to support Prof. Mann, or is Penn State defending him?

  36. 86
    Paul A. says:

    First they came for the climatologists, but I wasn’t a climatologist, so I didn’t speak up…
    That’s what KC is counting on. We must speak up.

  37. 87
    mike roddy says:

    It’s too bad the media hasn’t caught on to the potential for satire here. Cuccinelli is a news producer’s dream, talking to reporters about “fraud”.

    This may be a good excuse to take a stand. A commenter here put it very kindly when he said that George Mason University is “Not renowned for its academic prowess”. People like David Koch are clearly trying to stir up baseless attacks on scientists, and the only way to discourage them is to fight back as hard as you can.

  38. 88
    Snapple says:

    Someone above noted in passing what I have been saying for some time: Cuccinelli’s father was a lobbyist with the American Gas Association and subsequently has been an executive in an advertizing company. His expertise in the gas industry and his “European” clients are noted on his site.

    I know a lot about Russia and how they orchestrate their “active measures”–political influence activities. I think there is a strong possibility that the father’s clients are Russian gas companies. They are pretty much taking over in Europe because they supply the gas and control a lot of politicians and political parties. They often appear to be something other than Russian, but the owners are Russian.

    The Russian government and gas companies work as a team. The companies do double duty as outposts of state security. President Medvedev is the former CEO of Gazprom, and that is what pays the bills in Russia.

    The Kremlin-sponsored media funds denialist propaganda. I read this stuff, it is a fact. The Russian media and FOX sound exactly the same. Sometimes Pravda cites FOX about Climategate. All these “conservative” and “right wing” blogs are repeating what I read in the Russian media, which is controlled by the ruling party and often owned by energy companies.

    I have been asking W. Russell to identify the elder Cuccinelli’s clients and what services these clients have received. I have written possibly 20 or more emails and W. Russell has never answered. I use my real name.

    I think the AG office has been hijacked and serves gas interests–probably “European” (Russian) ones. Now what you are seeing is a purge of scientists who are seen as a threat to the natural gas companies. People who study Russia use words like “infiltrate,” hijack,” “subvert,” and purge for a reason.

    Cuccinelli’s office refuses to be transparent.
    They are arrogant for a reason—a lot of money and political power. They don’t care about science. They want to sell gas and prevent people from developing renewables.

    I have also asked my questions about these clients in other places.

    Cuccinelli talks like a revolutionary, and that’s what he is. It’s not really ideological; that’s just to fool honest people with conservative principles. Certainly it’s not really about limited government. Cuccinelli is abusing his powers. It’s about a limited federal government and unlimited power for gas companies.

    Cuccinelli is practically inciting people against the federal government in the name of states’ rights, but I seem to recall that we fought a revolution in Virginia because we didn’t like “European” tyrants, not because the EPA was trying to keeps us safe from global warming.

    Cuccinelli’s father’s company gave the son’s campaign over 96,000 dollars, so there is every possibility that the AG’s office is providing the father’s clients with services.

    There is also the strange case of the criminal Bobby Thompson in Florida who gave Cuccinelli’s campaign 55,000. This “charity” for Navy veterans was a massive fraud, but the criminal seems to have escaped. He seems to have raised tens of millions, but he lived very poorly. This is strange behavior for an ordinary criminal.

    This criminal was also giving money to a former attorney general in Ohio whose law firm specialized in “consumer affairs.” Cuccinelli tried to take over Virginia’s consumer affairs.
    The Ohio law firm got hundreds of thousands in “legal fees.” They represented a total fraud whose “board” of over 80 people were all fake people.

    There is a very good book called “The KGB Lawsuits” which explains how the Russians advance their interests in foreign courts through proxies.

    There is also the example of Congressman Weldon. The FBI came after him because he was promoting the interests of the Russian gas company Itera while his daughter got 500,000 in “consulting” fees. They got in some trouble because they got some money directly from the Russian company, I think. Maybe they didn’t launder it all as “consulting.”

    Cuccinelli’s father probably has “European” clients who are natural gas companies because that was his career–he was an expert lobbyist on marketing gas. These companies may be Russian, but Cuccinelli’s underling won’t respond when I ask that. There is no transparency. Often is is not so easy to trace the owners. Their partners can just play stupid.

  39. 89
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Anyone who thinks it will stop with climate science is kidding himself.” – 1

    Absolutely correct.

    What do you intend to do about it?

    [Response: Pot, meet mr. kettle. –Jim]

  40. 90
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “I hope Cucc gets kicked in the teeth so badly the taxpayers of Va and the voters who are decent human beings wake up to his seeming incompetence and malfeasance.” – 53

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDJvtyiKmKA&feature=player_embedded#!

  41. 91
    adelady says:

    @78, Jim Bullis. I disagree. It’s not the scientists who’ll be fighting at the barricades.

    Those of us who “support” them will be in front, hissing, biting and scratching like any self-respecting mother cat would do to protect her precious ones.

  42. 92
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    If Cuccinelli Fails, There Will Be Civil War

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM0SpOo-WZo&NR=1

  43. 93
    Radge Havers says:

    Way to waste those taxpayer dollars, Cuccinelli.

    there are nowhere near enough scientists to win….Try to find ways to make common cause with reasonable people.

    Uh, wha? Angry scientists make you nervous? Concern troll them unreasonable little science dogies into the corral of ‘reasonable’ people?

    Now why would anybody be suspicious of that?

  44. 94
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Careful guys, don’t go to the barricades on this one. In a knock down drag out fight, there are nowhere near enough scientists to win.” – 78

    Then you will continue to be vilified, and marginalized and crushed out of existence in the coming Christian American TeaBagger Utopia.

    I have never been beset upon by a gang of low lifes looking for a thrill kill. But one thing I can tell you is that I wouldn’t go down without a fight as you are proposing.

    I have advised in the past that American Scientists might save themselves by escaping the ongoing collapse of American Society by renouncing their citizenship and leaving.

    [Response: And this would accomplish something positive I guess you imagine?–Jim]

    Time is running out.

    [Response: Everyone please knock it off with the melodrama and doomsday talk, OK? Just discuss the issues rationally without working yourselves into a frenzy, as in any RC post.–Jim]

  45. 95
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “What is needed is some effective method of moderating people with power. Difficult problem.” – 81

    That is what an educated electorate is supposed to do. But Americans have grown increasingly stupid over the last 30 years, and now a good fraction of them can’t fathom the simple skills of addition, subtraction and multiplication that are needed to understand the nations budget.

    Hence the wide spread belief in the U.S. that the current President not only caused the current recession but is also responsible for virtually all of the U.S. national debt.

    You can’t reason with idiocy.

  46. 96
    Jacob Mack says:

    # 66 Thomas, Of course I can tell you why. One is the GCM’s that predict a 6 degree increase overestimate the climate sensitivity. Another it seems to me from some published papers is an old assumption based upon caloric theory which is false. Even as an open system the laws of thermodynamics still hold. Heat energy processes also cause localized and spread out cooling. Latent heat converts heat to work as it works against molecules. Some but not all models do not take this into consideration.

    We can expect around a 3 degree C increase with C02 doubling if feedbacks and other conditions hold to the approximate of what the data seems to indicate now and in the forseeable future. The statistical clustering is around 3 degrees C or a tad higher by some recent published papers in peer review, like 3.4-3.8 degrees.

    Even on the Earth energy cannot be created or destroyed and heat transfer causes changes in cloud cover, with it seems more potent positive feedbacks than negative but these negative feedbacks and sinks do dampen positive feedbacks just the same. If they did not it would be extremely hot and and weather bipolar by now so far worse than we are currently experiencing.

    I do take the time to review the published papers from each climate scientists here at RC, my textbooks on the physics of heat and bulk flow and I understand statistical clustering.

    At any rate I am not going to keep a conversation going like the one that occurred in warmer and warmer so RC mods please just publish this one response. I am clearly not denying AGW nor am I unaware of the issues.

    [Response: Hmm. I don’t follow most of what you’re saying but… have your say! What is ‘bipolar weather’?–eric]

  47. 97
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “I’m formulating the message for my sign for the Jon Stewart “Rally to Restore Sanity” based on this discussion. Pithy suggestions welcomed.” – 50

    How about…

    “Faithful member of the Reality Based Community.”

    [Response: The 1 post per day limit rule is now in effect for you.–Jim]

  48. 98
    MapleLeaf says:

    I would invite Mann et al. to come to Canada, but I’m afraid we have the Canadian equivalent of the Tea Party in power right now.

    Seriously though, my heart goes out to everyone under attack by Cuccinelli. This is ludicrous in the extreme and should be condemned by all in the strongest possible terms.

    I am struck by the irony of Cuccinelli citing dubious scholarship from GMU and CA (some might even go further than that) as evidence that Mann et al. have allegedly engaged in fraud. That would be laughable if it were not such serious and grave matter.

  49. 99
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” – 31

    That question was asked at a point where that Conservative Political Regime was about to collapse. It was one of the final straws.

    You don’t have that in this situation. The movement is still growing in popularity and strength.

    Either take it on now, escape it, or try to live through it.

    But make no mistake. That which the TeaPublicans cannot control they will attempt to destroy. That has been the NeoCon pattern of behavior for the last 40 years.

    Consider this quote.

    “We need to manufacture an .economic. crisis in order to assure that there is no alternative to a smaller government.” – Jeb Bush Imprimus magazine 1995

    Starve the Beast!

  50. 100
    Lou Grinzo says:

    I think it’s worth looking at this mess in a somewhat abstract fashion, to put a little distance between the facts and our emotions. (And I’m as upset as anyone commenting here, I’d guess.)

    Cuccinelli is nothing more or less than a political opportunist. I have no way of knowing what he really believes, but if I had to bet lunch at my favorite pizza joint, I’d say he doesn’t believe what he’s saying in his filings. He’s merely looking for a political fulcrum point in the current, highly charged environment, and doesn’t care who or what is damaged in the process. That is NOT in any way meant to be an excuse for his actions; what he’s doing is disgusting and unforgivable for any lawyer or public servant.

    There are only two things that will stop him and people like him:

    1. They and their political friends pay a high enough price at the voting booth. They’re doing this to pander to a certain segment of the voting public, so losing votes would be a gigantic deterrent.

    2. The judge in the case and then the media turn this into a Very Big Deal that makes Cuccinelli look like an opportunist or a fool. I admit that I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here and assuming that he actually cares about something other than garnering votes so he can hold on to or gain more power. Perhaps I’m being too generous.

    The bottom line is that when viewed this way the main thing all those of us who can’t vote in Virginia elections can do is what Scott Mandia suggested way upthread: Contact your own elected representatives (if you’re in the US) and the media. Wallowing in anger and frustration and typing at each other here does zero good. Contacting the media and other lawmakers, if done well enough and in sufficient numbers, just might accomplish something.