Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Keep your eye on the ball

Here's an aside in a post I wrote about Roger Pielke Jr. two years ago, who was mad about a study criticizing his father but didn't have much substantive to say about it:

an interesting choice of tactics here - during the whole stolen climate emails thing, some people wanted to focus on the privacy invasion and illegal theft, which I thought would be viewed as an attempt to distract people from the content when the content wasn't that bad.  Here, denialists and unhelpful types like Pielke Jr. are ignoring the PNAS study content and screaming about blacklists.  Maybe it's like the lawyer's saying that if you can't pound any arguments in your favor, pound the table instead.
I'm just trying to be consistent here.  Content is king.  Set aside the strategy document.  Heartland has now had plenty of time to review and deny the accuracy of the other documents and it hasn't.  The docs seem generally supportive of John Mashey's analysis of public records.  The outrage you're hearing from the denialists are attempts to distract people from the content when the content is bad.

Time to send the IRS and state attorney generals after these fake charities.

51 comments:

TheTracker said...

It's a minor point, but I was interested to see Microsoft donated software valued (by them) at about 100k, for which they plead ignorance, saying it's nothing they don't do for "thousands" of charities.

Quite the tax write-off for them, if so (potentially -- just doing the multiplication -- hundreds of millions in "donations"). The IRS needs to look at Heartland, but also, at some point, the public may need to look at the laws on nonprofits.

dhogaza said...

Well, microsoft's correct. I wouldn't call it "pleading ignorance". Their donation policy is ideologically blind. Heartland is a valid 501(3)(c) non-profit, and not an organ of an educational facility (i.e. university), church, etc (these are notable exclusions to who MS will donate too, they *sell* to State U and the Catholic Church).

"The IRS needs to look at Heartland, but also, at some point, the public may need to look at the laws on nonprofits."

This is confusing because Heartland is a non-profit, while MS isn't. It's clear that Heartland's skating close to the edge, at least, as to what's permissible as a 501(3)(c). If they've crossed and the IRS takes extreme action - revokes their tax exempt status - then MS will no longer donate software to them. That would be unusual, though, I'd expect fines and a process by which Heartland would promise to Do No Illegal Shit in the future.

J Bowers said...

Ah, but Brian... "You know you are over the target when you start receiving flak." ;)

Gary Wamsley, Colonel USAF Retired, is taking it all in his stride.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of consistency: obviously, this post is claiming that the consistent view is "who cares about the leak, watch the content!"

I'd be curious about a post comparing different leaks and discussing whether there are reasons why one is good and one might not be. For example, compare:

Heartland-gate
Climate-gate
Pentagon-papers

There are several differences between them: the nature of the documents filched (emails vs. corporate board documents vs. military study), the nature of the organizations (public-academic, non-profit, military), the nature of the underlying alleged "crime" ("bad science and misdirection", "bad funding and misdirection", "bad lying to public and war").

So, do people think all the leaks are good? All the leaks are bad? Or is there a key difference between them that makes one ok and the other not? (and Heartland, in particular, should be doing some soul-searching to figure out how it can justify its stance on climate-gate compared to heartland-gate) (not that Heartland has a soul)

-MMM

J Bowers said...

The Beeb's Richard Black's 'Confessions of a climate gate-opener' is worth reading.

Brian said...

MMM - good comment. I'm writing from a policy perspective. The leak is done so we do we focus on the leak or do we focus on the result?

As to whether the leak itself was a good or bad one, that depends on your own ethical framework. Personally I tend to look at what's uncovered to figure out on an overall basis whether it was a good idea.

Steve Bloom said...

Brian, do you know anyone in the non-profit law biz who might be able to make an informed comment as to HI's legal vulnerability?

rumleyfips said...

As you say Hearland hasn't confirmed or denyed. They said they were going to Fedex the remove our stuff letter as well as email it.

Has anyone had a Fedex visit, or was this something else they failed to follow up. If they haven't they may still be scrambling to formulate a believable position.

John McManus

Russell said...

The leak has begun to corrode Heartland's Private / Public firewall:

" In a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has called for an investigation into the “conduct of Indur Goklany, the Assistant Director of Programs, Science and Technology Policy at the Department of the Interior.” As a budget document leaked by the Heartland Institute appears to reveal, the group intended to pay Goklany $1000 a month to write for Heartland...

hveerten said...

@MMM

What made climategate so reprehensible in my view was not the act of hacking into e-mails (for what if there WAS a great conspiracy? The thought is ludicrous for anyone with at least a passing understanding of climate science and not in possession of a tinfoil hat, but let’s humour the seriously misguided souls for a moment), but the coordinated and wilful effort to data mine the e-mails and then releasing a minuscule fraction of them in terms of specific sentences that could be easily taken to mean something different when taken out of context. I see no fundamental difference between Gleick's action and, say, a journalist going undercover in a neo-nazi group and providing an inside report. Maybe we should start a campaign: A Pulitzer for Gleick!

J Bowers said...

Brian Angliss dissects the Heartland statement on the strategy memo, backed up by S&R's PR expert.

A Heartland Institute statement raises questions about “climate strategy” memo’s origin

John Mashey said...

Corporations.
Let us carefully distinguish between:
1) MS donation of software
and
2) Contributions of actual $ by MS or any other corporation.

1) Would be part of standard policy, which of course is a great deal for MS (or any other SW vendor):
a) Give at retail price, charity deduction, and more people are using your SW. Marginal cost ~0.
They actually make a profit, say as compared to giving manufactured products or especially real money.

b) Doing this would likely be a very low-level action, almost routine. I cannot imagine anyone at MS whose job is to investigate whether any given nonprofit is OK. I'd guess whoever did it never heard of them.

c) Hence, the right action with MS is to say: OK with past gifts, but is this someone you wish to keep supporting? Even I wouldn't blame them for the past (and I own the CA UNIX license plate :-) I've had both positive and negative experiences.)

2) Is something else. Somebody had to sign off on spending money. An interesting thing to know is if it comes out of corporate charity budgets ... or from PR or some other.

3) If people check the funding document, think of sorting the donations by Project, i.e., Heartland is a PR/marketing/lobbying group with several Lines of Business, each paid for by different people.

Anonymous said...

Well color me stoopid.

Peter Gleick's, "DenialGate" leak of the so called composite memo, has opened an interesting can of wormtales.

Joe at Heartland Institute, is threatening big government to curb free speech and is using the Astroturf denial network to label it "FakeGate". The irony being, this document, was clearly culled from many of Heartland's own internal memo's! ;)

Does this mean "Heartland Institute" is really outing itself as a "Fake Skeptic" and will only do it, as long as the free money lasts? Say, it ain't so Joe!

Sorry, Joe, how can I believe you now, since you do not supply the complete source code for all mononeurons to see! Why does Joe, hide the source code?

A word from our sponsor : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjmjqlOPd6A

Brian said...

Steve B - there are a small number of law firms that specialize in this non-profit regulation, and a large number of firms that do corporate governance that probably know it as well. I'm not aware of any weighing in so far.

I think Singer's SEPP is the most vulnerable so far, but once an agency with subpoena power starts digging in, it can follow the money trail. Heartland and the others have some issues.



Regarding the MS donations - my wife recently joined TechSoup, which among other things distributes software from companies to nonprofits. For that reason, I'm not going to get involved in the MS discussion.

J M Sute said...

I love how tax-exempt (for now) organizations like this are savvy enough to make sure every line in their IRS Form 990 is filled out with the i's dotted and t's crossed even though the entire mission and tactics are in clear violation of the IRS code. Their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status is a total sham regardless of how the e-mails were obtained. I hope every one of their donors gets an "Oh by the way you owe us back taxes" letter from the IRS.

Martin Vermeer said...

> I hope every one of their donors gets
> an "Oh by the way you owe us back
> taxes" letter from the IRS.

Not likely to happen... the donors had a right to expect the "charity" status to be genuine. Not their lie...

John Mashey said...

martin:
Actually, when a donor directs money to specific projects, they know what they are getting, and I have plenty of those listed.

One of the interesting items I raise is for the corporate folks.

Lots of corporations support real charities, sometimes by funds-matching of employee gifts, sometimes with internal fundraising, sometimes with corporate funds directly.

So, for each of the corporate donors of real money (not MS), did the money come from normal charity channels ... or did it come from other cost centers, say like PR/marketing or some Line of Business? bunnies might ask.

Martin Vermeer said...

> Actually, when a donor directs money to specific projects, they know what they are getting, and I have plenty of those listed.

Any where the donor knew, or should have known (without having an in-house climatologist), that it was fishy?

> did the money come from normal charity channels ... or did it come from other cost centers, say like PR/marketing or some Line of Business? bunnies might ask.

Yep, that would be evidence. Good thinking!

J Bowers said...

Bast and Lakely are listed by Lead411 as president and managing editor of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The Nation - With ALEC Exposed, Common Cause Demands an IRS Audit of Corporate-Funded Group's Gaming of State Lawmaking
ALEC Exposed website

The reason that took my interest was because of the UK's Liam Fox/Adam Werrity scandal which led to Fox's resignation from government. Werrity was operating from Fox's Parliamentary office while acting as ALEC's sister charity, Atlantic Bridge, as "executive director and sole employee of the charity".

Atlantic Bridge and the climate skeptic connection

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

George Soros is listed as a major donor to global warming foundations.

http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/47856/

Jbowers, why do you post about funding? Do you think the left wing has no think tanks? Do you think they have less money? There can only be 2 answers, either you're a fool (which I'm more inclined to believe) or you just want to score some cheap points with all the true believers here. From now, every time you post some stupid funding link, I am going to follow you with an equally stupid link about funding.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

wow, the AGU is appointing Chris Mooney. I'd rather them reinstate Gleick than have to put up with that crazy activist Mooney.

@Eli

really? So what is the worst thing in your opinion that was exposed in the documents? I would really love to see what you say so I can compare to some of the climategate emails.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Jay Cadbury,
Were the rightwing think tanks doing actual research with the money given them by donors, the source of the funds would be immaterial. Instead, they are using the funds to lie to children. This doesn't concern you? You don't want to know who is sponsoring an effort to lie to children?

I do not get my climate info from "left-wing think tanks". I get it from peer-reviewed journals.

Brian said...

I think the most egregious is having a dead man as the chairman of the board overseeing your non-profit for two years. In other words, the stuff John Mashey dug up on SEPP, Heartland et al.

John Mashey said...

Well, state attorney generals.
If somebody wants to help me, that would be nice.

Especially, for SEPP.
I'm sure the state AG will be eager to receive this.

John Mashey said...

Martin: you may recall Fakey...:
Fig H.1.5, p.58: the red items.
Fig. K.1.1 p.70

I suggest that they knew *exactly* what they were getting.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

State AG for SEPP is Cucinelli. I don't think he would have much interest in them.

Anonymous said...

@a_ray

"Instead, they are using the funds to lie to children. This doesn't concern you? You don't want to know who is sponsoring an effort to lie to children?"

find for me a school that is using their cirriculum. Secondly, that they are lying to children is your own opinion. I happen to think a lot of global warming science is already misleading.

I can prove it too, 90% of the public does not know that the earth is below GAT and below average atmospheric co2.

You say you get your information from peer review, please identify the published paper that refutes ferenc miskolczi's Saturated Greenhouse Theory.

Complaining about the journal does not count, and a link to fakeclimate does not count. I've already been treated to the usual crap.

Brian said...

Rattus - if he refuses to prosecute, then that can be used against him in political campaigns. He'll deny it's political, but he'll take a hit from it.

J Bowers said...

"Jbowers, why do you post about funding?"

"You know you're over the target when you start to take flak." Pepperoni with extra cheese, please.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Brian: "He'll deny it's political, but he'll take a hit from it. "

Ah, I see you have not travelled through Western and Central Virginia. Stupidity and ignorance are badges of honor among much of the electorate there.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Miskolczi,
Dude, not even Roy Spencer buys it. It's crap.

http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/08/comments-on-miskolczi%E2%80%99s-2010-controversial-greenhouse-theory/

He's wrong on the definition of emissivity/emission, wrong on Claussius-Clapeyron, the virial theorem (come on, now!). Miskolczi is so fricking wrong he doesn't even merit a peer-reviewed response. Then, of course, there is the fact that we can see changes in IR spectrum of the planet with changing ghgs.

Sorry to burst your bubble punkin, but you are evidently one of the children who were lied to.

John Mashey said...

Rattus:
Sorry, I should have added a smiley on my comment about VA State AG.
See Curious coincidences, a topic that may come forth again, given GMU & Wegman.

J Bowers said...

Watts scores an own goal against Heartland.

rumleyfips said...

When I said last week that J. Bast fit the profile, it was tongue in cheek. Boy I hope I was right.

John Mcmanus

Anonymous said...

Someone who comments at HuffPo could mention this:
http://deepclimate.org/2012/02/14/heartland-budget-and-strategy-documents-revealed/#comment-11638

Anonymous said...

@Jay

"really? So what is the worst thing in your opinion that was exposed in the documents? I would really love to see what you say so I can compare to some of the climategate emails."

But Jay, the head honcho at Heartland reckons these documents are really really damaging. So do you think he could be exaggerating a real lot?

The climate ferret

David B. Benson said...

Tired of watching the bouncing ball.

J Bowers said...

More like watching a bouncing grenade, David. Heartland have gone so overboard their entire highly public credibility is now based on one single document. Watching their hasty PR strategy unravel on a daily basis to the point that Fred Singer feels it necessary to pitch into comments at a Guardian foodfight (and unwittingly volunteer that the NIPCC Report only presents one side to the science) is at the very least fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

"Heartland Hotel"

-- Horatio Algeranon offers his sincerest apologies to Elvis (wherever he might be) for mangling his classic


Well, since my conscience left me
Well, I found a new place to dwell
Well, it's down at the end of Baloney Street
At Heartland Hotel

Where I sell ba-loney baby
Well, I sell ba-loney
Where I'll sell ba-loney, til I die


Oh, the truth is always clouded
You'll find a bank of fog
You pseudo-skeptic bloggers
To post up on your blog


So fulla ba-loney baby
Fulla ba-loney
So fulla ba-loney, til you die.


Now, Joe Bast's tears keep flowin'
And their lawyer's on attack
Well, they've been so long on Baloney Street
Well they'll never, they'll never get back


And they're so
Fulla ba-loney baby
Fulla ba-loney
So fulla ba-loney, they could die


Well, if your charity status leaves you
And you have a sad tale to tell
Well just take a walk down Baloney Street
To Heartland Hotel


And you will be, fulla ba-loney baby
Fulla ba-loney, baby
So fulla ba-loney you could die.


Oh, the truth is always clouded
You'll find a bank of fog
You pseudo-skeptic bloggers
To post up on your blog
So fulla ba-loney baby
Fulla ba-loney
So fulla ba-loney, til they die

J Bowers said...

Ed Markey calls Heartland's bluff on openness and writes them a polite letter.

Martin Vermeer said...

Horatio damn you, now I'll have this playing in my head for the rest of the evening...

Jest aside, you outdid yourself.

Anonymous said...

"I can prove it too, 90% of the public does not know that the earth is below GAT and below average atmospheric co2."

On the contrary, sweetums, at 390 ppmv earth is way above average atmospheric CO2 for every interglacial period of the past 700,000+ years. We have yet to reach the ultimate global average temperature that CO2 level will produce, but the last time CO2 concentration stood at 390 ppmv temperature was way above maximum GAT for every interglacial period of the past 700,000 years, too.

And don't bother hand waving about using the full GAT and CO2 record since the Cambrian, you'll only embarrass yourself further.

a bunny fed up with stupid

Anonymous said...

Heartland goes public:

http://heartland.org/media-library/QPR/QPR-2012-1Q-web.pdf

Pete Dunkelberg

J Bowers said...

"We are working to create a Web site that will access newly available temperature data from a set of high-quality temperature stations created by the National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Our new Web site will convert the data into easy-to understand graphs that can be easily found and understood by weathermen and the general interested public. The result: fewer weathermen bamboozled into reporting fake temperature records, and one fewer tool in the toolbox of global warming alarmists."

"Our" website? I thought it Watts's website? And, if "weathermen" can't understand NOAA's graphs or data, it's time to drop the 'meteorologist' from 'TV meteorologist'.

Pathteacher said...

Wow, so Heartland gushes that the NOAA graphs will be easy to understand, huh? I'm surprised they didn't say the graphs are so easy to understand that even teachers can figure them out. ha

Anonymous said...

if "weathermen" can't understand NOAA's graphs or data, it's time to drop the 'meteorologist' from 'TV meteorologist'.

...and if they don't know what "NOAA" stands for (and that the acronym for "National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration"[sic] would be NAAA) , it's time to just drop them period.

Horatio used to teach junior high kids who knew more science (and English, too)

~@:>

J Bowers said...

"...and if they don't know what "NOAA" stands for (and that the acronym for "National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration"[sic] "

A glaring error in an officially released document, not even a draft.

Anonymous said...

Horatio can't help entertaining the thought (no matter how improbable) that all of this (WUWT, Heartland, etc) is just Poeetics (as Kevin McKinney once aptly put it)

...cuz this stuff is just too goofy for words (even goofier than is dreamt of in Horatio's goofy philosophy)

~@:>

J Bowers said...

State Policy Network.

Just keeping the eye on the ball.

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