Shut Up - Or We'll Shut You Down
Wall Street Journal - Oct 9, 2015 - Opinion
Last month George Mason Professor Jagadish Shukla and 19 others signed a letter to President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and White House science adviser John Holdren urging punishment for climate dissenters. “One additional tool—recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse—is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change,” they wrote.
In other words, they want the feds to use a law created to prosecute the mafia against lawful businesses and scientists. In a May op-ed in the Washington Post, Mr. Whitehouse specifically cited Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who has published politically inconvenient research on changes in solar radiation.
The RICO threat is intended to shut down debate because it can inflict treble damages upon a defendant. Enacted to stop organized crime and specifically to prosecute individuals tied to loansharking and murder-for-hire, it was long seen as so powerful a tool that the government warned prosecutors to limit its use.
“The demand by Senator Whitehouse and the 20 climate scientists for legal persecution of people whose research on science and policy they disagree with represents a new low in the politicization of science,” says Georgia Tech’s [PhD professor of Earth and atmospheric science, Dr.] Judith Curry on the Fox News website. She should know, as one of seven academics investigated last winter by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) for their climate research.
By the way, Mr. Shukla appears to have no problem taking money from the government to support his climate theories. Though it has since been taken down, the letter from the Shukla gang demanding a RICO assault was published on the website of the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES), a tax-exempt entity run by Mr. Shukla that the website says has also employed his wife and daughter. The House Science Committee says the outfit has received more than $25 million in federal grants since 2008. House Science Chairman Lamar Smith says the family’s earnings from IGES are “in addition to an annual salary of approximately $314,000 paid to Dr. Shukla by George Mason University.”
When we contacted George Mason to sort out these financial arrangements, the school suggested we contact Mr. Shukla directly. He hasn’t responded to our inquiries.
Meanwhile, Sen. Warren also doesn’t seem to want to live by the rules she enforces on others. Recall that she drove Robert Litan out of the Brookings Institution last week in part because his research on new financial regulations was funded by the asset manager Capital Group—which he clearly disclosed.
The website OpenSecrets.org says Ms. Warren has accepted more than $600,000 from the securities and investment industry, including more than $6,000 from Capital Group executives.
Perhaps she’d say it’s fine for her to use her Senate Banking Committee perch to rake in contributions from financial firms because she often disagrees with them. Then again, lawyers and law firms that benefit from her policy interventions have given her more than $2 million. She’s also collected more than $1.3 million from the education industry, which benefits from her campaign to expand education subsidies.
We called Sen. Warren’s office to ask why the Senator isn’t living by the Warren standard. A press aide replied that among other alleged offenses, Mr. Litan had accepted “editorial input” from the sponsors of his research. Yes it’s true, as Mr. Litan has said forthrightly all along, he did accept comments from the sponsor. He has also maintained that the analysis and conclusions were his own and those of co-author Hal Singer.
If accepting “editorial input” is grounds for dismissal, academics or journalists wouldn’t be the only ones preparing resignation letters. Is Sen. Warren now going to tell us that a campaign donor has never made a suggestion to her about government policy?
The strategy of the progressive left is no longer to win public debates, but to forcibly silence their opponents. And to enforce a double standard in the bargain.