Trump's expected pick for USDA chief scientist? Not a scientist.

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by LizKat, May 13, 2017.

  1. LizKat macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Trump's picks for agency posts just get worse and worse. The USDA chief scientist post (an undersecretary position) has specific expectations per legislation from Congress. The excerpts quoted below are from a ProPublica article yesterday (5/12/17).

    The USDA’s research section studies everything from climate change to nutrition. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, its leader is supposed to serve as the agency’s “chief scientist” and be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”

    But the guy Trump plugged into USDA as his eyes and ears and is now expected to nominate as chief scientist has no discernible hard science background, never mind agricultural subcategories. And as it turns out, this guy Clovis is who brought Carter Page to Trump's attention and into his administration....

    Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work.

    Clovis is better known for hosting a conservative talk radio show in his native Iowa and, after mounting an unsuccessful run for Senate in 2014, becoming a fiery pro-Trump advocate on television.

    Clovis advised Trump on agricultural issues during his presidential campaign and is currently the senior White House advisor within the USDA, a position described by The Washington Post as “Trump’s eyes and ears” at the agency.

    Clovis was also responsible for recruiting Carter Page, whose ties to Russia have become the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny, as a Trump foreign policy advisor.

    Neither Clovis, nor the USDA, nor the White House responded to questions about Clovis’ nomination to be the USDA’s undersecretary for research, education and economics.
    He has been a conservative talk show host, a Trump campaign supporter, a controversial primary candidate for the Senate seat Joni Ernst holds in Iowa, a public policy professor at Morningside College (Iowa). He resigned from his faculty position after Trump's election.

    Clovis has a B.S. in political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an MBA from Golden State University and a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama. The University of Alabama canceled the program the year after Clovis graduated, but an old course catalogue provided by the university does not indicate the program required any science courses.

    Clovis’ published works do not appear to include any scientific papers. His 2006 dissertation concerned federalism and homeland security preparation, and a search for academic research published by Clovis turned up a handful of journal articles, all related to national security and terrorism.
    His predecessor, Catherine Woteki, focused on helping famers deal with impact of severe weather patterns, and created "climate hubs" in the US to help come up with regional solutions to climate change issues. She was also asked to consult on other issues related to USDA research. But Clovis said that since Trump is a climate change skeptic, "we need more science and once we get more science we'll make decisicions."

    Woteki meanwhile emphasized the scientific underpinnings of the undersecretary's responsibilities.

    “Access to safe food and clean air and water is absolutely fundamental to personal security,” she said, adding that a scientific understanding of food safety is critical to success in the job. “Food systems are widely recognized by the national security community as being part of critical infrastructure.”

    Clovis’ academic background includes years of study on homeland security, but focused almost exclusively on foreign policy. A biography he provided to the 2016 Fiscal Summit at which he was a speaker indicates he is “a federalism scholar” and “an expert on homeland security issues,” with “regional expertise in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East.” Neither this biography nor any other publicly available biographies list any experience in food safety, agriculture or nutrition.

  2. darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Oct 27, 2016
    He needs to tackle the antibiotic issue. He needs to get the farmers to stop injecting the animals with antibiotics, so we don't get a super bug and pandemic.
  3. samiwas macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    It's seriously like we're living in a 4-year-long episode of Punk'd. I mean, seriously...
  4. VulchR macrumors 68020


    Jun 8, 2009
  5. MadeTheSwitch macrumors 6502a


    Apr 20, 2009
    How does a guy from Iowa know or even know about a guy who spent time on the international stage dealing with matters in the oil industry and Russia? Strange.
  6. steve knight macrumors 68030

    steve knight

    Jan 28, 2009
    I don't think trump gives a **** about what his flunkies actually now. how well they supported him or sucked up to him **** if they can actually do the job.
  7. IronWaffle macrumors 6502


    Well, this news comes as a relief. I mean, I needed something to take my mind off the other Trump-related news in my brain and this'll do the trick.

    A Melting Snowflake dipped in a Taco Bowl of Chee-Tos dust
  8. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    I had a similar thought upon reading the OP. It's like this is some kind of twisted performance art, designed to show us what life would be like if we lived in Russia.
  9. mudslag macrumors regular


    Oct 18, 2010
    Trump might as well put the WH gardener in charge of Air Force One maintenance, it's essentially when he's doing with the USDA.
  10. LizKat thread starter macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Well his degree was in poli sci from the Air Force Academy and his interest was apparently in foreign affairs and homeland security. His bio claims "regional expertise in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East." So the question would seem to be how does someone like that land in Morningside College, Iowa teaching business and public policy?

    But yeah, it does seem like we're missing a link between all that and his bumping into Carter Page somewhere along the line. All these apparent coincidences of interests in things Russian continue to pile up. I'm sort of laughing, thinking about one of Bob Baer's books on being in the CIA and his realization, as a young case officer assigned at first to India, of how many people on the average street in Delhi were his Indian counterparts, either in training or on the job. Not saying any of these guys are moles but the thought may cross one's mind. It should certainly cross somebody's mind in the Senate while the intel committee looks into Trump campaign staff's communications with Russians.

    Trump seems to put extremely high value on personal loyalty to him. That probably doesn't serve the country well. He needs people who will tell him no when no is the only correct answer. A sycophant isn't going there.

    Apparently even when somebody does tell him no, however --- and apparently Steve Bannon tried to suggest to Trump not to fire Comey right now-- he reserves the right to go out on a limb and be way wrong anyhow. This is one thing when running a company. Worst case you end up with another lawsuit. Running a government under a Constitution is different, and one of these days he'll probably do something impeachable, if he hasn't already done that.

    Not that Trump really cares, since I think he doesn't believe at gut level that any of the rules --including the Constitution itself-- really apply to him if he thinks he has a better idea. He's really sort of living in an alternate reality. That version of reality and his actual reality keep colliding. Trump must find it really frustrating, since in his business empire he could insulate himself from those collisions by just telling someone to clean up the messes. In the White House it's different: Donald Trump is now accountable to all of us, and the press he despises are a part of us, which truly seems to enrage him.

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9 May 13, 2017