As the field of Democratic nominees for 2020 continues to grow, enthusiasm for the once wildly popular, Beto O’Rourke may be shrinking.
Once the seemingly heir apparent to Obama’s youth and charismatic charm, O’Rourke saw firsthand what it’s like to be just another presidential candidate during a sleepy town hall event last week as the enthusiasm and star power he sought to generate hit a grounding snag in Iowa.
The former Texas congressman, gave a stump speech to a sparse crowd of fewer than 120 students at the University of Iowa. Even though Beto arrived nearly 30 minutes late, the student union ballroom remained less than half filled as the candidate walked in to give his pitch to families and retirees before taking questions. Given the nature of the questions by the few in attendance, it seemed that many in the audience were far from committed to the presidential hopeful.
Smaller Crowds for Beto Than Expected
A number of attendees remarked to the conservative leaning Washington Examiner that O’Rourke’s crowd was smaller than they anticipated, particularly in a city of 75,000 with a major university. The crowd was less than half the size of audiences drawn by O’Rourke’s rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, at similar events in smaller towns.
Some high school students appeared to have ulterior motives for being there. Julian Wallace, 18, was clad in O’Rourke garb but told the Examiner that he was only wearing it as proof for an extra-credit assignment. His friend Aaron, 17, seemed to be sizing up the competition for his preferred candidate, saying he thought O’Rourke lacked the “big ideas” of former tech executive Andrew Yang.
Others in attendance said they were there just to hear the perspective of other candidates. One woman in the audience asked O’Rourke how he planned to define himself from all the others in the race.
“We’re shopping, we’re open to other candidates. Wanted to see Beto in person,” a woman named Kelly, who was in the crowd with her husband, told the Examiner.
O’Rourke’s campaign didn’t give a final tally, but the crowd appeared to be significantly smaller than those that fellow nomination-seeker Sanders garnered in other towns across eastern Iowa. Several hundred of people crammed into rooms filled to capacity to see the 77-year-old independent senator from Vermont. According to observers at the event, perhaps only as many as 150 at the most listened to O’Rourke speak in Iowa City.
With candidates like South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg now leading O’Rourke in the polls, his youth no longer gives him an easy contrast with frontrunners — former Vice President Joe Biden or Senator Sanders. While O’Rourke stresses how he’s constantly learning on the campaign trail, many voters find Buttigieg’s thoughtful style more attractive.
Despite an early rising star, recent surveys of Iowa voters place O’Rourke towards the bottom of declared Democratic candidates, at 5%, according to the Real Clear Politics average. Buttigieg currently leads O’Rourke in the state at 11%, according to a recent Emerson poll.
Iowa will hold the first vote of the 2020 primaries.
April may bring with it spring flowers in bloom, but there is something else that continues to pop up like weeds – 2020 Democratic Candidates!
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio just announced that he is throwing his name into the already crowded 2020 field of Democratic candidates that, with Ryan, now boasts over a dozen – and still growing.
Ryan made his announcement on the web just before appearing on ABC’s daytime talk show “The View” to discuss his candidacy. Ryan says he plans to hold an official campaign kickoff rally with local union leaders in Youngstown, Ohio, on the 6th, which his campaign says is “a celebration of his longstanding ties with the working-class community and an indication of the kind of labor-friendly campaign he plans to wage.”
When asked by NBC News what sets him apart from other Democrats running for president, Ryan pointed to his ideas to rehabilitate the economy, adding that thinks he can win the Rust Belt states that President Donald Trump flipped in 2016.
“I believe in the free enterprise system,” Ryan added. “I think we’re not going to solve these national problems without them, but I also believe that we need to reform government and get the government working because I think government can be instrumental.”
In a statement that bemoaned the impact of globalization and technology on the working class, Ryan, a political centrist, said he was committed to uniting the country and invigorating the economy “with a renewed respect for the dignity of work.”
Ryan Says He Is Running to “Restore Dignity”
“I’m running for president because we have a real shot at uniting again — to restore the dignity of work and the feasibility of the American Dream,” he said in a statement to the press. “We have a chance to once again unite this country under our core principles and ideals.”
“We can restore the dignity of a secure retirement and respect for those who shower after work,” his statement continued. “We can lift our children to reach higher, to seek academic and vocational excellence. We can climb out of our vicious cycle of insidious debt and reach higher, competing together in a global market — not against one another here at home.”
Ryan, 45, was first elected to Congress in 2002 and has been a long-term fixture in the House Appropriations Committee. As a lawmaker from Ohio’s automobile manufacturer region, Ryan has free trade and taking on China a central theme of his congressional career.
The Ohio lawmaker was widely seen as one of the instrumental people in delivering House Democrats their congressional majority in 2018, actively campaigning and fundraising for competitive seats throughout the Midwest and beyond that ended in wins for his party. Ryan is probably best known as the member of the House who led the unsuccessful revolt against Nancy Pelosi in 2016.
The White House has not released any reaction to Ryan’s announcement yet, however, many think of all of those in the crowded democratic field, he has the best shot of flipping the “rust belt” back blue, so President Trump ought to keep his eye on Ryan.
Ryan joining the race makes him the 17th major candidate seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher accused of war crimes will be transferred to a “less restrictive” prison until his trial, President Trump said recently. “In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court,” Trump tweeted. “Process should move quickly!”
According to reporting by the New York Post, Gallagher has been held in the Navy’s high-security brig in San Diego since September on an array of charges, including stabbing a wounded prisoner of war to death and shooting at civilians unprovoked, while on one of his eight deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Republican lawmakers have been pressing the Navy to free Gallagher ahead of his June trial date.
“He risked his life serving abroad to protect the rights of all of us here at home,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina) said on during a recent guest appearance on Fox and Friends.
GOP Supports Calls for Leniency for Gallagher
According to Fox News, Gallagher is facing premeditated murder and aggravated assault charges stemming from the alleged war crimes. He has spent six months of detention at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California. He is not expected to emerge until the start of his war crimes trial on May 28.
Trump’s tweets regarding more lenient treatment for Gallagher have significant support by the GOP. Trump referenced Norman’s Fox and Friends appearance, where he repeated Norman’s words saying, “they’ve got him in with rapists, they’ve got him in with pedophiles.”
Speaking to the host, Norman also said, “This man spent 20 years of his life, he spent 15 of it as a SEAL, he volunteered to serve this country overseas not once, not twice, but eight times and the least they can do is have him in confinement if they need be and let him have, medical treatment, let him get his proper legal defense team together.”
Norman’s comments come after Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw — who lost sight in his right eye after being hit by an IED explosion in Afghanistan — and 17 other House Republicans sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy this month raising concerns that Gallagher has been receiving limited access to food, medical care and his legal team.
“Chief Gallagher is a decorated warfighter who, like all service members, is entitled to the presumption of innocence while awaiting court-martial,” the Republicans wrote in their letter to Richard Spencer.
President Trump has just revealed that he believes that the Mueller report should be made public. Which indicates that the president is confident that the investigation will wrap up without finding any clear evidence of collusion between his 2016 campaign and the Russian government.
Trump made that statement while speaking to the media as he was headed for Ohio. While he said he felt the results of the Mueller probe should be made public, the president continued to tear into the investigation into Russian intervention in the 2016 election by calling it “ridiculous” and that it was being conducted by a “nobody.” However, he said he wants to see its findings nonetheless.
According to Fox News, Trump’s comments come less than a week after the House passed a resolution to encourage Attorney General William Barr to release the report’s findings to both Congress and the country amid fears that information about the investigation would not be made public. The resolution enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support and passed in a floor vote 420-0, with only four Republicans voting present.
Following that resolution, Trump sent out an angry tweet, calling the Mueller investigation “illegal” and that “Russian Collusion was nothing more than an excuse by the Democrats for losing an Election that they thought they were going to win.”
Mueller Investigation Close to Concluding
Many believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is very close to concluding and that his report is imminent. Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, as well as the White House, are planning for any number of outcomes.
The latest signal that the investigation could be coming to a close is the expected departure of top prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who led the charge on the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. As of this week, Manafort will face 81 months in prison.
Trump’s apparent change of heart on making the results of the investigation public, send a pretty clear signal that the report will indicate what he has been saying all along, that there is no clear evidence of a conspiracy between Russia and his 2016 campaign. According to anonymous White House sources, Trump and his advisers are already considering how to use those possible findings in the president’s favor for the 2020 race.
In any case, and no matter what the report holds, it is still ultimately up to newly appointed attorney general, William Barr to decide what if any part of the findings are made public.
Enough turncoat Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues the other day in voting to block President Trump’s border emergency declaration. While President Trump probably had two choice words for those who voted against him, he replied simply with one – tweeting “VETO” after the vote. This will be the first veto of his presidency.
The White House said Trump likely would issue the veto on March 15.
According to Fox News, the measure passed 59-41 as a dozen Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the resolution, despite White House efforts to keep the GOP united on the issue of border security. Those GOP members who backed the resolution cited concerns about the expansion of presidential powers.
Not surprisingly one of those Republican’s was Mitt Romney. “I’m going to be voting in favor of the resolution of disapproval,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters ahead of the vote. “This is a constitutional question, it’s a question of the balance of power that is core to our constitution.”
“This is not about the president or border security, in fact, I support border security, I support a barrier,” he said.
Other Republicans Who Parted With Trump on Border Security
In the run-up to the vote, the Trump administration was urging the GOP not to vote against the president. Speaking on “Fox and Friends” Vice President Mike Pence said, “A vote against the president’s national emergency declaration is a vote to deny the humanitarian and security crisis that’s happening at our southern border. So we’re urging every member of the Senate set politics aside to recognize that we have a crisis.”
However, given the results of the vote, clearly there were those who did not get the message. You could add these names to the growing list of RINOs who do not support the president, and remember them when it comes time for primary challenges. The other Republicans who voted to oppose the declaration were Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., had said he would oppose the declaration but reversed course on the Senate floor, saying that he was “sympathetic” to Trump’s push to deal with the crisis at the border.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., before the vote, said he “takes his hat off” to Republicans voting with Democrats, while accusing Trump of “going around Congress” with the declaration.
“This is a momentous day,” he said, declaring that the balance of power was shifting back toward Congress.
It is all pointless political theater in any case, as the measure heads next to Trump’s desk, having previously passed the House. However, Trump plans to veto, and it’s unlikely the House and Senate could muster the required two-thirds majority to override his first use of his veto powers.
When you look at the congressional calendar for 2019, it is difficult not to have mixed feelings. It all depends on whether you subscribe the Founders’ concept of a part-time legislature composed of people from all walks of life or the more modern notion of a full-time legislature composed mostly of lawyers as political professionals.
The one thing that can be factually determined is that our national legislature does not like to hang around Washington too often. According to the 2019 Legislative Calendar, the Republican-led Senate will be in session for 158 days of the year.
The Democrat-led House has reduced their time in Washington to 122 days. This seems surprising since the newly empowered Democrats have been bragging about all the legislative work they have to accomplish – not to mention all those investigations of President Trump.
The Senate will be open for business with 25, five-day work weeks throughout the year. The House will have only one five-day work week for the entire year. The House will have a one-week recess every month, except for April and December, when they will have a two-week recess and June when they will actually be in session for four weeks.
Now get this. The House Democrat leadership says they are “offsetting” that four-week work month in June by extending the August recess from July 27 to September 8. They actually say July 29 to September 6 because they do not count the two weekend days at both ends. In fact, they recess on July 26 and return to work on September 9. There are no sessions for the House in August while the Senate puts in two days at the beginning before joining the House in recess for the remainder of the month.
And do not expect the House members to put in any overtime on the days they are in session. According to the Democrat calendar, there will no longer be any “late-night” votes – except for spending bills. That makes sense when you consider how Democrats love to spend taxpayer money. God forbid that they should go past the clock on matters like immigration reform, healthcare, justice reform or any of the myriad of other issues that impact the lives of we the people.
There is another dirty little secret in the schedule. So that legislators do not have to show up on the first day of a session – and can catch early flights on the last day — the first-day session will not begin until 6:30 p.m. and no votes will be scheduled after 3:00 p.m. on the last day of the session. And since they say that there will be no … none … zero … late-night sessions, you can safely consider the first day and the last day as merely another day of recess. That adds another 60-plus days of recess even as the official schedule shows the members in session – doing the work of the people.
According to Maryland Democrat and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the reduced time in Washington is out of deference to all the new members of Congress. Personally, I do not get it. Is Hoyer suggesting that the newbies are too fragile to handle the pressure of actual governing? In announcing the reduced schedule, Hoyer said:
“As we welcome a large class of new members, many with young families, next year’s schedule is focused on balancing time in Washington with time for Members to conduct work in their districts and spend time with their families.”
Work in their districts? Time with their families? Hoyer seems to have forgotten the most important activities when these legislators are back home – campaigning and fundraising. Because of the strict rules on campaign activities and raising money – which is not allowed on government property — it is very difficult to perform those activities from their offices in the Capitol Hill compound.
Of course, the members of Congress will tell you that being in the district or the home state is part of the job – and indeed it is. But we might be better off if they had jobs other than politics – as the Founders envisioned. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear a congressman say that when he got back to the district, he had to ploy the back-forty or a congresswoman say she had to run her greeting card shop?
Of course, there is that theory that the less time our representatives are in Washington, the better. We have to keep on mind that essentially they perform only two functions – spend our money and restrict our freedoms. There is a reason that the Founders drafted a Constitution that protects our liberties from … an oppressive federal government.
So, there ‘tis
The unofficial “not the sharpest tool in Congress,” left-wing wunderkind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has said that her proposed “70% tax on the ultra-wealthy” would only hit wealthy time owners and not the regular players like those who took the field during the recent Super Bowl.
While Cortez’s comments were in response to a joke, there was nothing funny about the way she once again showed her fundamental misunderstanding of even the most basic economic concepts.
Surely You Must Be Joking?
In response to a joke made by GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas about imposing a top rate of 70 percent on the Patriots to even out the competition, the New York Democrat said the average player would not earn enough to be affected.
The joke, which was an obvious jab by Crenshaw at Ocasio-Cortez, who has talked about a “70% tax on billionaires,” sparked this tweet from the freshman Congresswoman.
The average NFL salary is $2.1 million, so most players would never experience a 70% rate.
The owners who refuse to hire Kaepernick would, though.
Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described Democratic socialist, had previously suggested imposing a 70% tax rate on those with incomes in excess of $10 million during an interview on 60 Minutes, in order to pay for a so-called “Green New Deal” — which would be a massive investment in clean energy infrastructure, aiming to eliminate carbon emissions in a little more than a decade.
According to Fox News, the owners of both Super Bowl teams – the Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams – are indeed billionaires.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft has an estimated net worth of $6.6 billion, according to Forbes. He purchased the team in 1994 for $172 million – it is now worth an estimated $3.8 billion. Kraft also owns Gillette Stadium – the Patriots home field – as well as many other sports ventures. He has donated $600 million to charity.
Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke is married to Walmart heiress Ann Walton. He has a net worth estimated at $8.5 billion. The prominent real estate developer became sole owner of the Rams in 2020 – the team is now valued around $3.2 billion.
Kroenke also owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, and the Premier League soccer club Arsenal, as well as various stadiums and media properties.
While Ocasio-Cortez noted the average NFL salary is $2.1 million, some of the players in this year’s big game took home much heftier wages in 2018.
Taxing the Rich – a Typical Call From the Left Wing Playbook
Ocasio-Cortez is far from the only left-leaning lawmaker to propose hiking taxes on the wealthiest of Americans. Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders recently introduced an expansion of the estate tax, the so-called “death tax” – to a rate of 77% for those passing on assets worth more than $1 billion. Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, has called for a 2 percent tax on ultra-high net worth individuals — those she describes as having more than $50 million in assets. The rate would rise to 3 percent for those with assets valued at more than $1 billion.
Tax hike proposals are gaining steam in the run-up to the 2020 election. A recent Fox News Poll showed a majority – 51 percent – of respondents said they favored spending more on domestic programs over cutting taxes and reducing spending. Their preferred method of financing those projects is through taxing the wealthy. About 70 percent of voters favored raising taxes on those making more than $10 million each year.
Although President Trump’s tax cuts have been stimulating the economy as he anticipated, expect Democrats vying for the White House to run on their usual “tax the rich” platform.
For over two years now, President Trump has railed against so-called “Fake News,” and it seems that this time he may have been right!
Recently the mainstream media, and especially fervent Trump advisary, CNN, were all over a story put out by BuzzFeed, that claimed it had evidence that Michael Cohen was directly coerced by Trump to lie to Congress. Cohen, was sentenced to 3 years in prison for that federal offence, and he has since been cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation ever since.
Mueller, who has rarely commented during the course of his investigation, broke his usual silence to throw shade on the BuzzFeed report, “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement to the news site.
Buzzfeed Holds It’s Ground
While Trump and his supporters are having a field day with Mueller’s rejection of the report, BuzzFeed, thus far, is standing by the story. In a tweet following the release of Carr’s statement, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith tweeted, “In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel’s spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing…”
This despite the fact that no other major news outlet has been able to corroborate the story, including CNN, which of course, was one of the first networks to jump all over it.
According to the original BuzzFeed story, “two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter” allegedly told the media outlet, “that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie…”
The report went on to say, “The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.”
Smith has been urging Mueller’s office to clarify its statement, and to point out exactly what it is that the Special Counsel is claiming that the news site got wrong. However, that’s probably not going to happen until Mueller’s final report on the investigation is completed.
Speaking from the White House lawn in response to both the BuzzFeed report, and the Special Counsel’s rejection of it, President Trump called the original, a “total phony story.” He then went on to say, “I appreciate the Special Counsel coming out with a statement last night. I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism…I think it’s going to take a long time for the mainstream media to recover its credibility.”
“It hurts me to say it, but mainstream media has totally lost its credibility,” he concluded.
Trump attorney and controversial mouthpiece, Rudy Giuliani blamed the story on the “Deep State.”
“BuzzFeed story is acknowledged #FAKENEWS and comes from so-called federal law enforcement, Deep State. Maybe time to say there’s a real danger to our rights here if we keep let this happening,” he tweeted.
Cohen, 52, is expected to begin a three-year prison sentence in March after pleading guilty to federal financial crimes, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, which was at the heart of the BuzzFeed story.
A report conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates the cost of providing government benefits to illegal immigrants costs the American taxpayer $100 to $135 billion annually.
The report released in September of 2017 also estimates the number of illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. at around 12.5 million people, plus another 4.2 million children of those illegal immigrants. The Federal Government pays approximately $50 billion, while both state and local governments pay the additional $89 billion annually.
Those numbers were cited during a recent Trump rally in Cleveland, Ohio by the President.
“Illegal immigration costs our country more than $100 billion every single year,” he said.
The President, referencing the FAIR Report on November 5th ahead of the midterm election, noted that the majority of this expense comes in the form of medical care and public schooling expenditures.
FAIR also concluded that illegal immigrants generate about $19 billion in taxes each year, bringing the net cost down to $116 billion annually.
While the FAIR report is one of the few studies to attempt to examine the overall financial costs of housing illegal immigrants, the actual numbers of illegal immigrants are hard to come by – no doubt because of political considerations.
In 2013, a study by the Heritage Foundation estimated that illegal immigration costs the government about $54.5 billion per year, less than half of the FAIR estimate.
The discrepancies lie in the actual number of Illegal immigrants in the United States. Most estimate the amount to be around 12.5 million, and that’s the number the FAIR report is based on.
However, the Pew Research Center estimated in 2016 that there were approximately 11.3 million Illegal immigrants within the United States, while the Center for Migration Studies put the number at around 10.8 million.
Another recent study, this one by Yale University, had the number of Illegal immigrants at almost double the FAIR report at well over 22 million Illegal immigrants.
Remarkably, the last review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was released in 1995, over 21 years ago.
At that time the net cost of illegal immigration ranged between $2 and $19 billion a year. The report was published at a time when the Census Bureau estimated that approximately 3.5 to 4 million illegal immigrants resided within the United States.
Robert Rector was one of the senior research analysts in 2013 for the Heritage Foundation. He explained why the cost of housing illegal immigrants has skyrocketed within just the last decade.
“The reality is, as almost anyone would acknowledge, even outside the context of immigration, is that a person that only has a high school degree is very likely to receive more in government benefits and services than they pay in taxes. And of course, half of the illegals don’t have a high school degree.”
I did it.
I descended into the heart of liberal darkness, Berkeley, California and attended the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts & Responses.
As you may have guessed, I’m a climate change skeptic. And while this conference was interesting and gratifying for a number of reasons, it did not change my view as a climate change skeptic, but in fact, reinforced it.
My own presentation (for solving climate change while making a huge profit – i.e., the Republican way) was not widely attended, but the conversation was lively and I gained some allies.
Without further ado here are my stories:
As an engineer and formerly a developer of analytical systems for the CIA, my instinct is to follow information backward to its source. In several instances, I’ve followed the rabbit hole, examined data from important climate science claims and discovered gaping holes in their logic, making them misleading or just incorrect.
The conference had some of the same. The most blatant example presented at the conference was from Roberta Atzori from the University of California with a study of the Florida tourism industry. Since I am a long time resident of Florida, I took an interest.
Her method was to ask questions of tourists like (paraphrasing) “if the sun on the beach became too hot, would you stop traveling to Florida or would you vacation somewhere else?” and “if all of the beaches disappeared in Florida would you stop going there?” Needless to say, with those kinds of questions (look up “pre-suasion”) she got the results she desired, she did the math and claimed billions in damages due to Climate Change.
I, of course, as an interested party pointed out that in Florida we know how to re-sand beaches, and we do it often and enthusiastically (e.g., the Boca beach last fall after hurricane Irma). Beaches in Florida are not likely to disappear over the next 80 years no matter the weather change. And if Florida floods to 10 miles inland? We will install a new beach right there. I also pointed out that even the most pessimistic climate change projects only estimate about 4 degrees of change by 2100, not enough to roast our tourist population and force them away from the beach (nor interrupt the patterns of sun, beer, sun, beer, sun …).
Tell me you can’t guess what happened next.
She immediately called me the “D-word.” I had to be a climate change “denier” to challenge her work, so of course, the obvious move was ad hominem.
What she did not do was defend her scenarios (which would have been impossible anyway), which were the basis of the questions she was asking, and the response to which was the basis of her conclusions.
This kind of shoddy work is why I am a skeptic of climate science. Someone with zero knowledge of the practical side of her topic has submitted to the academic community a worthless, baseless calculation of cause-effect, that someone else will likely use to build another house of cards study. And in a room with 12-15 people, no one questioned it except me.
Dr. Max Platzer of the University of California Davis was an Apollo scientist back in the 1960’s. His presentation featured a fleet of boats that used wind power and an underwater generator in perpetual motion in the southern seas, to produce hydrogen fuel on a global scale. At first, this seemed to be very much in the science fiction realm. But to my great surprise and pleasure, Dr. Platzer, in true engineering form, proceeded to convince us layer by layer that his design was feasible and practical (albeit expensive!).
Dr. Platzer was perhaps the most inspiring speaker at the conference, his passion and appeal to implement an Apollo-like “moonshot” were compelling. He said at the advanced age of 85, his future was limited, but he was willing and indeed anxious to help future generations solve this problem. His passion was perhaps the closest phenomenon in this conference to breaking my own skepticism on climate change.
Matthew Moore of California State University positively ranted at the lack of coordination between the different levels of government, saying the government was a disorganized mess and was not preparing for the massive number of people that would certainly be displaced during global warming.
When he included Houston and Florida in his rant I took exception. Noting that I had just experienced Hurricane Irma, I told him that in our state, coordination between federal, state and local, was near perfect. We have some of the best emergency planners in the world who had the streets cleared, the public informed, and everyone in shelters who wanted to go (with designated shelters accepting pets). The Governor had toured the area and coordinated operations, and FEMA had pre-positioned supplies all over the state.
We didn’t have housing prepared for 300,000 people (per Moore’s lament) because our experts decided we would not need it (and we didn’t). Moore’s universal condemnation of FEMA and the emergency management strategy in America was offensive and, of course, wrong. Does he have a point that we need more emergency housing? I don’t know, I’m way too lazy and uninterested to re-do his work for him. But considering his lack of research and/or candor on his other statements, why would I believe anything else he said? And yet his presentation was accepted as scientific work.
At the conference dinner, I had a discussion with Alex Ellery from Carleton University, who was proposing a satellite-based solution for providing power to supplant electricity. This is not a new idea, its been around since at least the 1970’s when my high school debate team was focused on the energy shortage of the day. They were also the subject of Ben Bova’s “Powersat” from 2005.
His new idea, however, was fascinating.
Since it is very expensive to lift materials in space from earth, he was proposing that the power satellites be built on the moon using SELF REPLICATING ROBOTS! And using only materials from the moon’s surface. I was thinking, “Wow, forget the satellites, I want the robots.” And this is a serious engineer with a serious design. He is close to having the design ready, complete with neural network style computing power made from lunar materials rather than straight silicon. He still needs an additional $12 Million in funding to complete the research. Any takers? (If so, I want to be on the deployment team!).
One of the keynote speakers was Dr. Michel Gueldrey, from the University of Toulouse. I had had some brief conversations with him the day before and he is a thoughtful, intelligent and gracious man. However his presentation on “engaging climate skeptics” was disappointing and a bit insulting to American conservatives. His presentation featured such thoughts as “the superiority of Europe over America,” (hard to swallow from a Frenchman) a number of fringe books with insulting titles, and a presentation of methods to persuade skeptics that were worthy of any religion, political campaign, or fraternity rush chairman. In fact, I got a distinct feeling I could substitute “Disciples of Christ” for “Climate Change” in most of the slides and they would be equally functional. But frankly, this is what a conservative would expect at a climate change conference so I took it with a grain of salt. I do have faith that Dr. Gueldry will improve his content over time, but it was cringe-worthy in its current form.
Several presentations were very well done, even if the link to global climate change was not firmly established in my own mind. Claire Brunel, from American University, had a very well constructed study of internal migration in Brazil (I know what your thinking, but yes, it was good!). In the same session, Justin Udie from De Montfort University talked about the effects of climate change on oil and gas equipment near the Niger Delta. Again, I’m not sure about the link to climate change but it was an impressive work of risk analysis on oil and gas equipment. It took quite a bit for me to not go into full nerd mode and dig in with questions.
Marlene Payva Almonte from the University of Liverpool attended several of the same sessions that I did, and her comments were always thoughtful and cogent. In her own session, she presented an insightful presentation on the relationship between climate change and human rights. I’m not sure I agree with her premise that the Paris Accords are a good thing, but it certainly pushed some buttons for my own research.
Sally Graves Machlis from the University of Idaho sought to increase understanding of climate change through art. I’m not sure I fully grasp the magnitude of her work, but I had fun in her workshop cutting paper brains from clip art, gluing them to the canvass and painting in the background in watercolors.
One last feature was a gentleman Greg Poole from Industrial Tests, Inc. A degreed engineer, but non-academic, I could feel that Mr. Pool was avoiding using the common engineering jargon to be better understood, a common practice of engineers when speaking to laymen.
He described the Earth as an electric motor with influence from the Sun, Moon and other planets. Do you think this is silly?
The electrical character of the Earth and the solar system have long been known, and it accounts for a great many important characteristics, like the magnetic poles and the magnetosphere. His framework is brilliant and all-encompassing (but according to Pool, not quite complete). He predicted response characteristics of the molten core that will keep experimental scientists busy for decades.
His engineering skills are first-rate, his analysis was spot on. This was perhaps the most important lecture of the conference, although I don’t expect anyone to realize it. Any analysis of our solar system or any solar system we discover in the future will be incomplete without it. And as for avoiding jargon, I did manage to ask a question that let him know I was an engineer, and he answered in full technical and engineering terms entirely unintelligible to the rest of the room.
Yes, a real engineer.