Stupid Presidential Tricks

Seven men have been selected by the President to head a “drilling commission” to investigate and recommend for the future of off-shore drilling. This article piqued my interest. It makes two claims, that these individuals have little to no engineering (scientific?) expertise regarding offshore drilling and that they have a definite bias against drilling, i.e., that the fix is already in by loading it with politicians and environmental activists. Go ahead, skim the linked article. I’ll wait. …. now that you’re back, here’s what I can find on the web so far about these individuals. It might be also noted that the President called this a “bi-partisan” commission. We’ll see how that plays out.

The Two chairmen:

  • Mr William Reilly (wiki) — Not a scientist nor engineer, he has a BA in history and a Harvard law degree. Was the head of the EPA under Democratic administrations and President of the World Wildlife Fund. Mr Reilly is a Democrat.
  • Mr Bob Graham (wiki) — Not a scientist nor engineer, he has a political science degree from U of Florida and a LLB (bachelors of Law) from Harvard. Was governor of Florida for a term and unsuccessfully ran in in the 2004 primary Presidential bid. He is a lifelong Democrat.

Our five members announced last week.

  • Frances G. Beinecke (no wiki entry, mukety relationships) — Has an MA from Yale in “environmental studies” (and yes the scare quotes shows my bias as a physicist). Has been on the NRDC for 35 years. She is an anti-nuclear activist. He inherited much wealth from her family ties. I’m guessing Democrat as the profile does not indicate.
  • Donald Boesch (no wiki, here is his auto-bio) — His publication list, Mr Boesch is a Professor at U of Maryland heading their Center for Environmental Studies. Political affiliation is not given. Wanna guess, uhm, Democrat.
  • Terry Garcia (no wiki, auto-bio) — VP of National Geographic, Mr Garcia has a BA in international studies from American University and a law degree from George Washington U. Google shows him on a list of contributors to Mr Obama’s campaign, uhm, so a likely Democrat again.
  • Cherry A. Murray (wiki) — is the first person on the list with any (real) engineering credentials, alas not in mechanical engineering but instead in optical data storage.  No political affiliation given. Wanna bet? 
  • Frances Ulmer (wiki) — BA from U of Wisconsin (Madison) in … (wait for it) … economics and political science. She is a career politician as a (suprise!) Democrat.
Now those who say Mr Obama is not a bald-faced liar will recall that he called this a “bi-partisan” commission who will serve as our experts in deep water drilling and engineering. How much more bald-faced does one have to get to get the title? 
I had begun this enterprise willing to entertain the notion that the WSJ editorial piece was a little dishonest, painting its picture too strongly. Yet looking into what I can find, the opposite is true. If anything it was too balanced and shy to call a spade a spade.  Mr Obama’s commission is nothing but a complete farce. There is one person only on the commission who might have some real hard unimpeachable scientific background (Ms Murray). Furthermore, his claims this is bi-partisan is a utter and shameful distortion to call this highly partisan committee with at least three lifelong Democratic career politicians, no Republicans as bi-partisan. It is not even an expert field for there is not one person with a shred of mining or drilling background not tp speak of even some mechanical engineering. Only Ms Murray is likely to have have taken any math beyond calculus and the only one to have used any applied or pure maths in the last 2 decades.

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  1. Boonton says:

    Actually Reilly was head of the EPA under George H Bush. He was working for Nixon on the forerunner to the EPA. This would give him 40 years of EPA experience which Republican administrations….quite a bit. In Obama’s address ( he asserts t he commission will have bi-partisan co-chairs and that seems to be it . Reilly is the Republican (not the Democrat) and Grahm is the Democratic side.

    Read Reilly’s wiki-bio carefully. It seems he was never appointed to head the EPA under a Democratic administration. He also sits on the boards of Dupont, ConocoPhillips, Royal Caribbean International, as well as more environmental organizations like the National Geographic Society. He also founded a private equity firm investing in renewable water and energy. Considering the endangered status of balanced Republicans, Obama seems to have found one of these rare birds.

  2. Are you going to comment on this?

    Some 98% of climate scientists that publish research on the subject support the view that human activities are warming the planet, a study suggests.

    It added there was little disagreement among the most experienced scientists.

    The study’s authors said they found “immense” differences in both the expertise and scientific prominence of those who supported the “primary tenets” of latest assessments made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and those who were sceptical of the IPCC’s findings.

    In general, they added, the researchers who were convinced of the human impact on climate change had published twice as many papers as their sceptical counterparts, and were cited in other people’s research two to three times more often.

    Lead author William Anderegg, from Stanford University in California, US, said the findings suggested that not all experts were equal in what they claimed.

    “The researchers who are convinced (by the IPCC’s assessment reports) have a lot more experience in climate research and have published a lot more papers in the scientific literature and are generally well respected in their field,” he said.

    “And it also demonstrates the converse that those who are sceptical of the IPCC’s claims, in general, know a lot less about the climate system.”

    98%, wow.

  3. Mark says:

    I stand corrected regarding Reilly … although are you really arguing that 1 in 7 is bi-partisan and balanced? Or that this is really a commission of experts and not, as the WSJ calls it an “anti-drilling” commission.

    The whole “balanced Republican” thing is overwrought and more than a little silly. It seems you spend little time examining your own side of the aisle half as critically as you do the other.

    I hadn’t seen it. Do you have a link to the survey report and methods? And let’s see, if I follow your hermeneutic I’m allowed to reject the report merely based on the fact that the Beeb is/was biased from the beginning. I think you’ve used that argument more than a few times.

  4. Boonton says:

    Actually I provided you with the White House Press release that stated the co-chairs would be bi-partisan, not the entire commission. And that condition seems to have been honorored. I’m not sure why the commission should be bi-partisan. Obama is a Democratic President. His commissions should be mostly Democratic. When did we agree on a quota system where both parties get 50% of all commissions regardless of elections? How many Democrats served on Dick Cheney’s energy commission?

  5. Mark says:

    The point is not that one cannot appoint a partisan commission, but that one cannot claim a partisan commission is bi-partisan.

    How many Democrats served on Dick Cheney’s energy commission?

    where was the claim this was bi-partisan or in the words of Mr Obama’s (deluded) supporters “post-partisan.”

    And I note the distinct lack of a defense of the make up of Mr Obama’s commission filling it with politicians and lawyers instead of people with a technical/engineering/science background.

  6. Boonton says:

    The claim was that the co-chairs were bi-partisan. I can see how the story, when repeated, dropped that qualifier but I cited the original source, the White House, and it specifically said nothing about the entire commission being bi-partisan, only the co-chairs (and it’s not like the chair of a commission is some ceremonial position, they basically lead the thing). Your beef, then, is with the media which dropped an important fact to you in their statements about the commission.

  7. Mark says:


    Your beef, then, is with the media which dropped an important fact to you in their statements about the commission.

    Half my beef (and the less important half at that).

  8. Mark,

    I hadn’t seen it. Do you have a link to the survey report and methods? And let’s see, if I follow your hermeneutic I’m allowed to reject the report merely based on the fact that the Beeb is/was biased from the beginning. I think you’ve used that argument more than a few times.

    No, the credibility of “the Beeb” is irrelevant, since they point (indirectly, admittedly) to an actual study. It’s not just some random shill providing their opinion, which is what you usually link to (at least when I complain about it.)

    The study (pdf)