Sure sounds like a threat to me

I have become a point of interest for Russell Cook of the Heartland Institute. If you are not familiar with this gem of a human being, don’t be disappointed. His job description with the Institute includes the statement (from his webpage) “He specializes in research of the origins of accusations leveled at skeptics and the associations of people surrounding it, most notably anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan.”

I find it interesting that he “specializes” in this area of work. From my perspective, this makes Cook the Gestapo of the Heartland Institute with the job of hunting down dissenting opinions and persecuting those responsible. Again, that is just from my perspective.

Now, he has apparently set his sights on me. That, in itself, is pretty amazing. Let’s be honest about my blog, this is not one of the top climate change blogs out there. Truth be told, it is probably not even in the top few hundred blogs. So, why does Mr. Cook find it necessary to come after me?

Now, you may ask, just how is it that I feel he is targeting me? He has engaged in a series of comments on my  blog, all of which I have published verbatim without any kind of editing on my part. You can read all of his comments and my responses here. These comments appear to be motivated by a posting I made pointing out how the people in control of the NIPCC reports are all tools of the fossil fuel industry, a claim he finds objectionable. I will make a more detailed posting about this claim, but I want to devote this posting to Mr. Cook and his actions, which he supposedly committed as part of his job at the Heartland Institute.

Mr Cook began by demanding I produce clandestine information to support my claim (“(full context document scans, undercover video/audio transcripts, leaked emails, money-transfer receipts, etc.)”) I referred to some documents that are available as an example that the documentation is there for anyone to see. He scoffed at this and responded, “If you had to answer a court subpoena as a defense witness supporting people accused of committing libel/slander against skeptic climate scientists, is that material from ExxonSecrets all you’d have to bring with you?”

Whoa! Wait a minute! Suddenly, we are talking lawsuits, subpoenas and libel/slander. Why? What was the purpose here? None of those topics were in anyway included in my postings or previous comments. I do not for an instant, believe they came out of thin air. It is only reasonable to believe there was a motive behind those comments.

Did he directly threaten me with such a lawsuit? No, he didn’t. Was this an attempt to intimidate me? It most certainly was. There can be one, and only one, reason why Mr. Cook would make a comment like that, to make sure I understood that such a lawsuit was a possibility. The only possible motivation I can see is he wanted to make sure I understood the Heartland Institute is upset with my comments and if I continue, they will do something about it.

When I asked him if he was threatening me with a lawsuit, he responded,

I respectfully suggest you show your verbatim blog post and our comments to the most disinterested person you can find and ask him or her – without any leading pointers on your part – whether my first bit about the wisdom of you supporting your accusation with proof is threatening or intimidation, and whether my prior comment is any indication at all of a pending lawsuit against you. If they say “No” and then look at you sorta funny, that might be an indication that you might want to more carefully re-read my comments.

I have read Mr. Cook’s comments very carefully and there is still no alternative explanation I can come up with. What is very telling is his comment “without any leading pointers on your part”.  To remove anything I might say about it is just plain silly, since the comments were directed at me and for my consumption. Let me give you  an example, suppose someone says Person A is pointing a gun at Person B, and leaves out any context. What is your conclusion? You can’t really reach one because you don’t know what the story. Is Person A robbing Person B? Is Person A a police officer arresting Person B? Is Person A unlawfully in the Person B’s house in the middle of the night? Is Person B unlawfully in Person A’s house in the middle of the night? Are they playing laser tag or paintball? All very different and you cannot reach a logical conclusion without the context of the situation.

That, of course, is exactly what Mr. Cook wants. And, the deniers are extremely skilled at this. Many of their claims consists of taking selected quotes out of context and putting them into a new context to make them seem like something else. Now, if you are suspicious that I have done this to Mr. Cook, you may read all of his comments verbatim. Again, they can be found here.

One last point, Mr. Cook devoted over 1500 words (1566, according to Microsoft Word) to my blog, once again, a minor blog. You would think he would have bigger fish to fry. Or, maybe its because he thinks a small fry like me can be intimidated. If so, he greatly missed the mark. I was a career analyst in Navy Intelligence, involved with fighting some of the nastiest people on the face of the planet. I have dealt with very nasty people in my private life and do not get intimidated very easily.

As for a slander/libel lawsuit, the burden of proof is on them and the truth is a positive and absolute defense. If anyone would like to sue me for slander/libel because I said certain people receive funding from the fossil fuel industry, the first thing I will do is to subpoena the financial records of everyone involved. And, we know for a fact that the Heartland Institute does not want anyone to see their internal documents. Just look at their reaction when internal documents were leaked.

Again, this blog is not about debunking deniers or exposing all of their dirty laundry. If it comes up in course of my discussions, no problem. They are putting themselves in the public eye and are fair game. But, that isn’t my purpose here.

But, I want to make it clear that any effort on the part of Cook and the Heartland Institute to intimidate me failed. Unfortunately, as much as I want to devote myself to important things, I will need to address Cook and his comments in future posts.

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6 thoughts on “Sure sounds like a threat to me

  1. Sorry for the lag time in responding, I have family caregiver obligations on weekends that takes me away from the internet. Expect delays at those times.

    First, thanks for creating an entire blog post devoted to me, I'm flattered. What impresses me more is that you actually post my comments without alteration, when my guess was that you would have started deleting them by now, since you seem to be unable to support your basic accusation that skeptic climate scientists “are professional climate change deniers […] engaged in disinformation on the topic.” The reason my comments are as long as they are because it appears you need to be hand-walked through my challenge in almost every facet of it.

    What is particularly disheartening for me is that you, as a degreed scientist, seem to have a propensity to create the equivalent of 'graphs based on single data points', for lack of any better explanation. Skeptics are untrustworthy based in a singular insupportable talking point about illicit funding, for example.

    And now you plunge off a cliff the same way about me. True, the Heartland Institute has placed an 'expert' label on me, but if you had undertaken a more informing search about me rather than just a superficial one, you would have eventually read about my protest over that exact label, and you would have certainly discovered that I neither work for Heartland nor do I write anything or otherwise act under their direction. Worse, you would have readily seen that not only my timeline of involvement in the AGW issue predates any association with Heartland, my more recent writings point to an effort on my part to direct THEM into taking much more of an offense position against their central critics (Gore, Gelbspan, Oreskes, Hoggan, etc), along with having more aggressive responses at hand when the likes of Desmogblog's Connor Gibson – or folks like you – show up. I'm attempting to tell them what to do, in other words. It is almost endearing the way Heartland too politely says they are not paid to lie, long missing a golden opportunity to place their accusers across the board, large and small, into an indefensible corner using the very same challenge I pose to you.

    Had you chosen to delete my first comment, as others often do in the face of being unable to defend the accusation against skeptics, that's the last you would have heard from me. Delude yourself with the idea I've 'set my sights on you' in some kind of sinister conspiracy if it makes you feel better, but I continue here not any differently from other comment dialogs over the years where I seek for my own curiosity whether anyone – ANYONE – can make up for the abject failures of Gore, Gelbspan, Oreskes, Hoggan, etc to prove their accusations. It is just that simple.

    I'm stunned you cannot comprehend my suggestion to place yourself in a courtroom evidentiary hearing about this failure by that bunch. If this scares the willies out of you, try this alternative: Imagine you are “Woodstein” of Watergate fame, and you bring your ExxonSecrets cut 'n paste line to your editor Benjamin Bradlee with the declaration that it is the smoking gun to prove skeptics are paid to lie to the public. Do you honestly believe Bradlee would have accepted that paper-thin of evidence???

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  2. Pt 2: Geeze louise, dude, if you are losing sleep over the big bad mighty Heartland Institute imminently shutting you down, give it a rest. If they care at all about your blog, they might actually want you to keep going down this self-destructive conspiracy-fixation path because it is such a useable example to show the larger public how vulnerable the overall accusation is, where even after 20+ years, not one person on the Gore side of the issue is willing or capable of producing actual proof that skeptics are paid large or otherwise sums of money to knowingly lie about global warming science points.

    Strange thing about all of this is, in light of you mentioning your Navy Intelligence experience, you have not yet figured out that nothing in my comments constitutes anything remotely nasty. You can either rise to the good opportunity to show your readers that you can prove the accusation is true, or you are a failure in that regard. Delude yourself with the notion that there's hidden 'dirty laundry' that Heartland doesn't want aired, but if none has been found yet to prove a quid pro quo arrangement between skeptics and industry officials, then it is not likely to happen anytime soon. For your side of the issue, I'd be worrying more about why so many people accusing skeptics of corruption cannot get their narratives to line up right….. and how long it will be before the major players start turning on each other to save their own skins.

    Looking forward to whatever other info you can dredge up on me, I'm wondering how many additional errors of assumption you are going to make, it should be most amusing, considering the embarrassing blunders you've already made above. I don't think you'll be able to top the one where one guy at another blog was certain I was the “RC” of ClimateGate leaker fame. That wipeout was just precious.

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  3. Mr. Cook, the reason people normally delete your postings is because of the drivel like this. Without even going into extensive work there is this: ExxonMobil has admitted to donating funding to denier organizations; The American Petroleum Institute admits funding denier organizations; Richard Lindzen (one of the most discredited deniers) admitted to taking large sums of money from the ossil fuel industry; the Koch brothers (big time fossil fuel owners) have donated over $67 million dollars to denier organizations since 1997, including to the Heartland Institute. Of course, let's not forget that Heartland's internal documents have already shown that they receive funding from the fossil fuel industry and then use that money to fund denier organizations and individuals, such as the Idso family. And, don't forget the American Enterprise Institute that receives funding from the fossil fuel industry and advertised to pay any scientist $10,000 plus travel expenses to write pieces critical of the IPCC reports. This is just a quick sample off the top of my head. I, too, have family issues taking up much of my time (I offer my honest sympathy to you on your situation), but I will write a post detailing fossil fuel funding in more detail for you. The evidence is absolutely clear and I do not need some kind of movie sting operation to produce incontrovertible evidence that deniers are being funded by organizations that stand to lose money if climate change regulations are passed. In other words, they are supporting very rich people that stand to make lots of money at the expense of all of us at the bottom. They can pass the expenses on to someone else, all of us at the bottom just get stuck.

    By the way, I am in no definition of the word a liberal and am not a fan of either Gore or Obama. I am a fan of the truth and the undeniable truth is this: manmade global warming is real and deniers are being funded by the fossil fuel industry to undermine the valid science and deceive the public. You are living is a state of very serious delusion if you cannot see it.

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  4. Ummm…. no, it appears the reason why folks delete my comments is because they cannot defend the accusation that skeptics are paid crooks, and this greatly undermines the notion that skeptics should be ignored outright.

    Oy, vey. You only embarrass yourself further – the question is not whether skeptics receive any amount of funding, it is whether the funding they do receive comes with an explicit directive to knowingly lie about global warming and fabricate demonstratively false science reports. Each time you sidestep that, you dig a deeper hole for yourself, and you sure did not help yourself in the least in insinuating I'm some sort of hired gun of Heartland's. Marvelous that you regurgitate talking points and can copy n' paste from ExxonSecrets, but when it comes to establishing any kind of sinister industry conspiracy here, you are striking out in no less spectacular manner than the folks who spit out those talking point accusations in the first place.

    Write up a post 'detailing fossil fuel funding in more detail' if it makes you feel better, but I doubt if it will offer one bit of evidence showing the money came with an explicit directive to fabricate false reports. Not to worry if that turns out to be the case, John Mashey over at Desmogblog couldn't rise to the occasion either with his 200 page+ material.

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  5. You really are living a life of delusion. You fall into that category of people that I just walk away from. They will say they don't believe in climate change and clearly want to get in a debate. I just ask them, 'Is there anything I can say or do that would change your mind?' When they say, 'No', I just say there is no sense in discussing it any further. The fossil fuel industry is well documented to be giving these people funds. It is well documented that the stated purpose of these organizations and individuals is the undermine climate change science for the benefit of the people funding them. None of this is even a secret and the documentation is there. I'm sorry you live in denial of all of this. As for your association with the Heartland Institute, you can claim all you want that you are not with them, but when they have you on their webpage and you show up as a contributor in their postings, then I have to say that you are with them. If you embarrassed or ashamed to be associated with them (and you should), then distance yourself from them. and stop contributing to them and assisting them. If you are not ashamed or embarrassed (and that says a lot about you), then stop denying you are associated with them. You can tell just about everything you want to know about someone by looking at who they keep company and keeping company with Heartland says volumes.

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  6. I'll finish your sentence for you: “You fall into that category of people that I just walk away from, when I am unable to support my assertion that skeptic scientists are paid lying shills of the fossil fuel industry.” If you were able to do so, you would have already produced basic proof that would have made me look like a fool, rather than the assortment of talking points you repeat. As in “It is well documented ….” Well, no less than SEJ board member Robert McClure repeated a similar variation of that talking point back in 2009 ( http://oi59.tinypic.com/116m7ar.jpg ). Problem is, only one guy 'documented' alleged illicit skeptic science funding, but that guy NEVER showed physical evidence to back it up, and scores of others – McClure, Gore, Oreskes, Goodell, Hoggan, Begley, Mayer, Pilkey, Desmog, Greenpeace, the NRDC, on and on – have done no more than REPEAT it. You are merely another among uncounted bloggers who've simply regurgitated, 'off the top of your head' as you said so yourself, the superficial talking point.

    Seems you are hinting what I've said others have done – walking away without providing a shred of evidence to back up your accusations. Do you notice your own sidestep away from accusing me of being a paid henchman operating under the direction of Heartland? I did not deny any association from the start, I challenged you to prove I'm “paid to do what Heartland tells me to do”. So, to save face because you cannot, you had to reword that, didn't you? Your preconceived premise is that either Heartland or I have something to hide. I sure don't, and none of Heartland's accusers can come up with anything beyond pathetic guilt-by-association, so they've never proved Heartland has anything to hide either, have they?. But if we apply your “association disqualifies” standard to the IPCC, then BAM!, it collapses. Vice Chair van Ypersele freely admits to being commissioned to write a paper for Greepeace while at the IPCC ( http://www.greenpeace.org/belgium/PageFiles/19049/SumIB_uk.pdf ) while Greenpeace material and other enviro-activist material is found overall in IPCC reports ( http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2011/03/14/peer-into-the-heart-of-the-ipcc-find-greenpeace/ ). But no doubt, you'll find an excuse to sidestep that problem, likely in a manner that the Creation Science folks, 911 Truthers, or ChemTrail believers would emulate, since surely you'd never apply your standard to the IPCC.

    Probably you are unwilling or unable to support your central accusation because of a dislike of pressure, or maybe you are especially sensitive due to some persecution complex. That might explain your fixation with the 'lawsuit' notion even when I reworded my challenge to be analogous of how a birdwatcher might have to prove his sighting, or where a reporter would have to satisfy a tough editor. Tell you what, why not instead embrace this as a journey of rewarding personal discovery? Take your time, pretend I don't exist, and rummage through all the accusation narratives you can find in order to supply yourself with the self-satisfying fully informed knowledge of just how many different people independently corroborate the illicit industry funding accusation, and what specific evidence they rely on to make their case that a directive exists to prompt skeptics to lie when it is demonstrated that they know better. You could then probably write a third book about it.

    Think positive. I'll bookmark your blog and wait patiently for your results. But out of fairness, notice the date on the above McClure reply to me. I have quite a head start on you when it comes to trying to prove McClure right. I asked him who else documented the skeptics' industry corruption, he could not bring himself to answer, so I set out to find those others myself. Just sayin', don't be surprised if you come up with the same results I found.

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