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Environment & Science

NOAA still has Ron Paul's fan base? (NOPE; it's probably NDAA)

On Fletcher in Atwater.
On Fletcher in Atwater.
Molly Peterson/KPCC

[UPDATED, 11:59 AM: Seems like I may have confused NDAA and NOAA. The National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama earlier this year; a court case, legal scholars, and activists all raise concerns that the law could further enable indefinite detention. Below, I offered a theory of why someone who supports a candidate who promotes fiscal responsibility would dislike NOAA specifically. Commerce contains NOAA. Ron Paul wants to zero out Commerce. He wants to promote fiscal responsibility in government in part by zeroing out large federal centers of scientific research. NOAA got itself into a mini scandal this year over fiscal responsibility. My theory was just that. Seems as though it is less likely than I thought. Also seems like hand-drawn political messages on cars are difficult to interpret sometimes.]

I was surprised to learn while driving on Fletcher in Atwater Village that southern California still has active and rabid Ron Paul fans. On balance, this shouldn't be surprising, I know, but the fact that someone would take the time to maintain decorations on the outside of the car was striking in bumper to bumper traffic. Ron Paul bumper stickers were on the doors, they ringed the top of the car, everywhere except the bumper. And a major part of the design was the word "NOAA" circled with a slash through it. 

Ron Paul's still active website includes his Plan to Restore America, and a key plank in that platform was that Paul wants to cut $1 trillion in spending during the first year of his presidency, eliminating five cabinet departments: Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education.

Commerce is where NOAA is housed. And I know Commerce has made its enemies. Killing Commerce would zero out NOAA's $4.5 billion budget. But that's less than 5% of the total amount of money Paul wants to save in one year of budget slashing. 

Transportation Department cuts would be four times Commerce's total eliminated. Housing & Urban Development, Defense cuts, Justice Department cuts, even Interior department cuts all dwarf that. 

NOAA's mission is "to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation's economic, social, and environmental needs." Its scientists monitor coastal waters for marine debris and other contamination coming from offshore. They model climate and weather to help communities know when hazards are on the way. They find facts and analyze them. 

Maybe this is the enduring question brought to us by the Paul presidential run: what did NOAA do to lose so much favor with one Honda CR-V driver in northeast LA that she would target it specifically for her disapproval?

NOAA landed in a little hot water earlier this year; a one-day conference plan included a solicitation for "physical energizers, magic tricks, puzzles, brain teasers, word games, humor and teambuilding exercises" from someone who would perform "a unique model of translating magic and principals of the psychology of magic, magic tools, techniques and experiences into a method of teaching leadership."

But NOAA withdrew its bid to seek out a magician. And one magician is less than a clown and a mind reader, both of whom, Government Executive reports, were booked for the GSA conference in Las Vegas 2 years ago. 

I wish I had caught up with that CR-V. It zoomed past me, and I never found out if the problem with NOAA is the magician or what.