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A physicist, an engineer, and a statistician out hunting.

The physicist calculates the trajectory using ballistic equations, but assumes no air resistance, so his shot falls 5 meters short. The engineer adds a fudge factor for air resistance, and his shot lands 5 meters long. The statistician yells "We got 'em!"

A man is on his first visit to Boston, and he wants to try some of that delicious New England seafood that he'd long heard about. So he gets into a cab, and asks the driver, "Can you take me to where I can get scrod?" The driver replies, "I've heard that question a thousand time, but never in the pluperfect subjunctive."

Nerd Jokes...got hundreds of 'em.

Time after time.

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You are aware, aren't you, that the Danes keep a database of all their wind turbines...

...ever built in their offshore oil and gas hell hole of a country online. Aren't you?

No, probably not.

There are two kinds of people who deign to discuss energy on websites like this one: There are those who repeat what they heard somewhere and those who actually find things out by looking deeply into available primary sources and drawing conclusions from them by thinking critically.

I believe that anyone and everyone who makes the claim that a huge array of wind turbines is equivalent to a nuclear plant is the former type and very clearly not the latter.

A rational person - as opposed to those who get their energy "facts," or um, perhaps "alternative facts" from journalist/"environmental editors" named Timmy and Markos who happen to lack a shred of scientific or engineering training - would bother to search out the Danish Energy Agency's website and database of every wind turbine they've ever built to see whether or not the failed, ridiculously expensive, and ineffective wind industry is "equivalent" to nuclear energy.

A person who wishes to simply repeat meaningless pablum, um, wouldn't.

The Danes do have such a database on their Energy Agency website:

Master Data Register of Wind Turbines

The most comprehensive description of the existence, the precise location, the date of commissioning and/or decommissioning, actual energy output and rated peak power is available as an Excel file on this webpage: Data on operating and decommisioned wind turbines (as at end of December 2016). Uploaded 26/01/17

The first tab gives "existing wind turbines." The second gives "decommissioned wind turbines."

In cell BP6152, the total energy produced in 2016 by all the wind turbines in the entire nation of Denmark is given in kwh, a unit of energy as opposed to a unit of peak power often cited by the liars in the so called "renewable energy" industry when they try to represent wind plants as being equivalent to nuclear plants, is given. It is 12,749,380,409 kwh.

The are 3,600,000 joules in a kwh, meaning that for the entire year in the entire off shore oil and gas drilling hellhole nation of Denmark, produced 4.58978 X 1016 Joules of energy, 4.59 PJ of energy. There are 86400 seconds in a calendar day, and 365.25 days in a year. It follows by simple division and multiplication that the average continuous power output of all of the wind turbines in Denmark in 2016 was 1454 MW. However, the data for 2016, but not earlier years, is given as monthly as well as annual data.

Using this, and the number of days (converted to seconds) for each month, we see that there was considerable variability from month to month. The most average continuous power for all the wind turbines in Denmark was highest in January, 2016, 1963 MW, and lowest in July of 2016, when their average continuous power was 930 MW. Thus the month to month variability in power output spanned a factor of 2.

The number of wind turbines required to produce this energy at highly variable power was 6,131. The total rated peak power for all of the turbines in Denmark listed on the "existing turbines" tab, made by summing column C on the spread sheet and dividing by 1000 to convert kW to MW, was 5,242 MW. Thus the capacity utilization of all the wind turbines in all of the offshore oil and gas hellhole country Denmark was 27.7%

The database of decommissioned wind turbines is illustrative too as to whether all of the wind turbines will turn into garbage heaps that future generations - near future generations - will need to clean up because we never gave a shit about their lives in our generation.

The calculations for the average lifetime of a Danish wind turbine are somewhat laborious, as I know having done them before. I'm not going to repeat it for the current spreadsheet and this comment, but I will refer to what I wrote in an earlier posting elsewhere on the internet for an earlier version of this same spreadsheet from the Danish Energy Agency website.

If one downloads the Excel file available in the link for reference 29 one can show that the Danes, as of the end of March 2015, have built and operated 8,002 wind turbines of all sizes. Of these, 2727, or 34.1% of them have been decommissioned. Of those that were decommissioned, the mean lifetime was 16.94 years (16 years and 310 days). Twenty-one of the decommissioned wind turbines operated less than two years, two never operated at all, and 103 operated for less than 10 years. Among decommissioned turbines, the one that lasted the longest did so for 34 years and 210 days. Among all 2727 decommissioned wind turbines, 6 lasted more than 30 years.

Of the 5,275 turbines still operating there are 13 that lasted longer than 34 years and 210 days, the longest, having operated (as of March 31, 2015) for 36 years and 303 days. The mean age of operating Danish wind turbines is 15.25 years, 15 years and 92 days.

Sustaining the wind, Part 1

Let's turn to nuclear.

By contrast with wind plants, nuclear power plants, are designed to have better than 90% capacity utilization; the majority of them in the United States do so regularly.

In China, according to the World Nuclear Association reactor database, between 2006 and today, China built 28 nuclear reactors: World Database of Nuclear Reactors, China, 2006-2017

Ten of them are rated at 1000 MWe, two are rated at 1012 MWe, three are rated at 1061 MWe, two are rated at 1007 MWe, and four are rated at 1018 MWe.

Any two of these reactors described in the previous paragraph can easily out produce all of the Wind turbines in Denmark, and do so without requiring any dangerous fossil fuel to back them up during any month when the wind doesn't blow much, like say July of 2016 in Denmark.

Of course, there is a fantasy land that claims that Wind energy's costs do not include the fact that they require redundant power plants to back them up, nor do they include the external costs in climate and health involved with the fact that many of these wind plants are backed up by plants utilizing dangerous fossil fuels.

You say:

"When estimates started at 14 billion, yeah you want to stay involved.
25 billion is a lot to pay for a 1200Mw plant."

Maybe you think China paid $25 billion for each of the 28 nuclear reactors they built and now operate in the last ten years?

Being a true example of a person who would never be banned at Daily Kos for telling the truth, you provide no reference for this claim about which you claim you want to be involved, although I don't know what credentials you have that should qualify or allow you to be involved.

If you were a critical thinker, you might ask yourself if China can build 28 reactors in ten years without paying 28 X $25 billion = $700 billion dollars, why should any reactor anywhere cost that much?

You might also wonder how it is that the United States built more than 100 reactors in a period of about 25 years ending about 30 years ago, using technology that is now about 50 years old, while saving hundreds of thousands of lives that otherwise would have been lost to air pollution, this while providing its citizens with some of the lowest price electricity in the world.

But you don't.

You simply blurt out a nonsense statement stating that wind plants are superior to nuclear plants.

The Hinkley C reactors if built should not cost what they are projected to cost, reported on the Wikipedia web page - which may or not be accurate - as 29.7 billion British pounds. Something is wrong if they do. The rated power is for this price is 3,200 MWe, meaning that they will produce easily, twice the power of all the wind turbines in Denmark in two relatively small buildings.

But if they are built at this cost, they are still designed to run 80 years. Like all nuclear plants they are gifts from one generation to several following generations. But we don't give a shit about future generations, apparently, and thus we claim that doing anything for the long term is "too expensive."

From where I sit, they're cheap, no matter how much they cost, because they reflect something call "ethics."

We're awful, awful, awful people who history should not and will not forgive. We have no ethics. Rather than care for future generations, we just blurt out very, very, very, very stupid "alternate facts" like 6000 wind turbines is the precise equivalent to a nuclear reactor in a single building.

Give my best regards to those assholes Timmy and Markos when you're over at their website gobbling up this depressing and frankly very dangerous horseshit about wind being the equivalent of nuclear.

As I said in our earlier interaction, when you reminded me of how many days I've been "bojoed" from my perspective, those guys aren't "better Democrats." In fact, their kind of Trumpian in their willingness to ignore reality, the reality being that we just spent in ten years two trillion dollars on wind and solar, and we just raced past 400 ppm at the fastest rate ever observed.

It's pretty amusing how people on the putative left morph into "free marketeers" whenever nuclear energy is discussed, but don't care if billions of dollars are spent, and 1,600 hectares of the beautiful desert are trashed to build crap like the Ivanpah solar thermal plant which has trouble producing even 100 MW of average continuous power.

Congratulations on demonstrating your qualifications for "getting involved." Reviewing them, I personally hope you don't but unfortunately I've discovered that ignorance, while it kills, is awfully good at "winning," even though all future generations will lose.

Have a nice President's day.

Trump's New "Science" Pal: Robert F. Kennedy Junior.

Trump's 'not going to back down' from vaccine safety commission, RFK says after new White House talks

One of the greatest human triumphs in health care was the discovery of vaccination. It is unbelievably stupid, criminal really, to oppose vaccination. The fact that all of the world's smallpox viruses - which in other times killed tens of millions of human beings - ended up in two freezers is a function of vaccination.

There was a wonderful lecture by Dr. Adel Mahmoud recently at the Princeton Plasma Physics lab on the importance of vaccination, and why a refusal to vaccinate - although he put it more graciously -is a crime against humanity. Unfortunately, PPPL has not yet put up the video of the lecture - they will - yet, and thus it is currently not available:

Science on Saturday: Imperative of Vaccination Nationally and Globally

Of course in Trumpland, this great scientist who led the development of many important vaccines, doesn't count as a human being since he's an Arab.

One of the most powerful slides in the talk was a picture of wall to wall iron lungs. When I was a child, we stood in very, very, very long lines to get the Polio vaccine, since this picture was well known. (My mother in law was one of the last people in America to get polio, so I know something about it.)

I'm a Roosevelt Democrat, and of course, as one, I've had little use for the Kennedy clan, although I did come to respect Ted at the end of his life when he stopped being such a sybaritic flake, but of all the Kennedys, Robert F. Kennedy Junior may be one of the worst.

Robert F. Kennedy's god father was Senator Joe McCarthy - that Joe McCarthy - and RFK's unbridled ignorance shows that this choice was appropriate.

It's unsurprising to find him consorting with the equally stupid and equally uneducated moron Trump.

They are evil.

Rush Holt Speaks Up For Scientists.

Rush Holt is my former Congressman, a physicist.

I'm an old man, and I can honestly say that in my lifetime I was never so proud as to have him as my representative. There are some things on which he and I disagreed, but I was always impressed by his thoughtfulness, his integrity, and his high ethical standards.

He went out of his way many times to do unpopular things to help people - Muslims come to mind - during trying times, for example, after 9/11.

He retired from Congress a few years back, and accepted leadership of the AAAS, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, publishers of the important scientific journal Science.

He recently wrote an editorial in Science on the Muslim ban. The link is here:

Act for Science (Science 355 (6325), 551, 2017)


This year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, the publisher of Science) Annual Meeting in Boston (16 to 20 February) promises again to be one of the world's most recognized forums for communicating the excitement, beauty, power, and relevance of science. Attendees from dozens of countries, from nearly every field of study, and from all sectors will share ideas and build collaborations. Attendees share a cherished understanding that science practiced with diligence and reverence for evidence illuminates the human condition, leads to measurable progress, and provides the best insurance against error and deception. These amazing benefits depend on open communication as a fundamental ingredient of science. This is why President Trump's recent immigration ban has been a jolt across the global scientific enterprise...

...As I write this, I understand that a Sudanese scientist who is to be recognized for excellent work by women in developing countries will not be present for her award. Furthermore, the head of The World Academy of Sciences, also from Sudan, has cancelled his trip to Boston. There are an unknown number of other such cases. The denial of entry is a detriment for the individuals, and it is also an affront to science. To me, the very real damage to science outweighs the very thin claim of enhanced national security.

For science to be effective and provide its benefits to people, some fundamental principles must be observed and defended—among them, the freedoms of open communication, collaboration, and diversity of perspectives, all of which are disrespected by such travel restrictions. Scientists and others see a variety of troubling signs surrounding science...

... the unwarranted restrictions on communication by federal scientists with other scientists and the public, and most troubling, policy-making that is based on ideological assertion rather than on verifiable evidence. Public officials citing “alternative facts” leave scientists dismayed...

...To fight the immigration order would mean stepping into political terrain, a scientist will say; taking part in a public event to promote science could tarnish science or appear confrontational. Based on a long career in science, with a substantial interlude in elected office, I say that these are excuses for inaction. Taking action is the best course when science is threatened or when science can illuminate public issues. Scientists should not fool themselves with the misconception that politics is dirty compared to the scientific enterprise, and they should therefore avoid the fight. Nor should scientists think that by standing back and letting the facts speak for themselves, they allow reason to prevail and proponents of flawed policies to wilt...

Damn I miss Rush Holt. I always thought he belonged on a bigger stage than the 12th Congressional District of New Jersey, but that was not to be. He did run for the Democratic Senatorial nomination, but much to the loss of our country, he didn't get it.

Ivanpah solar plant, built to limit greenhouse gases, is burning more natural gas

Ivanpah solar plant, built to limit greenhouse gases, is burning more natural gas

The most recent numbers from the California Air Resources Board show that in 2015, the plant’s second year of operation, carbon emissions from Ivanpah’s gas use jumped by 48.4 percent to 68,676 metric tons.

That’s more than twice the pollution threshold for power plants or factories in California to be required to participate in the state’s cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions data for 2016 won’t be available until the end of this year, but data made public by the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that natural gas consumption at the plant increased by about 7 percent during the first three quarters of 2016 when compared to the same period in 2015.

Elsewhere, another report, from "Breaking Energy" reports that the plant, which cost $2.2 billion to build, most of it supported by Federal Loan Guarantees, "Increased its production by "170%" in 2015 over 2014. This percent talk is typical of excusing the failure of solar energy to meaningfully address climate change.

Here's the breaking energy link:

Ivanpah Solar Production Up 170% in 2015

Here's some text from the article:

According to the EIA, Ivanpah 1 and 3 together produced about 290 GWh by the end of 2014, just a few weeks shy of a full year of operation, equivalent to 45 percent of the annual PG&E contract quantity. To hit 70 percent (895 GWh) for the first two-year measuring period, it appears the units combined will need to generate about 605 GWh this year, or nearly 95 percent of the single-year contract quantity. Ivanpah 2 fared poorer in its first full year, producing 134 GWh (40 percent of the annual contract quantity). That means the unit would have to produce 336 GWh – 100 percent of the single-year target – to meet the contract minimums noted to in the SEC filings.

290 GWh means that the average continuous power of the plant in 2015 was 33 MW, trivial on the scale of power plants.

The 2.2 billion plant required a huge stretch of pristine desert to be trashed.

Have a nice day today.

Foreign Investors Becoming Skittish About Buying US Treasury Securities.

Foreigners are pulling back from U.S. debt like never before

The biggest foreign creditors of the United States are suddenly having second thoughts about financing the U.S. government.

In Japan, the largest holder of Treasuries, investors culled their stakes in December by the most in almost four years, the Ministry of Finance's most recent figures show. What's striking is the selling has persisted at a time when going abroad has rarely been so attractive. And it's not just the Japanese. Across the world, foreigners are pulling back from U.S. debt like never before.

From Tokyo to Beijing and London, the consensus is clear: few overseas investors want to step into the $13.9 trillion U.S. Treasury market right now. Whether it's the prospect of bigger deficits and more inflation under President Donald Trump or higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, the world's safest debt market seems less of a sure thing — particularly after the upswing in yields since November. And then there is Trump's penchant for saber-rattling, which has made staying home that much easier...

Our so called ruler of the United States has a very good brain he says, and the quality of his very good brain is reflected by his very good diplomacy.

The dictator wannabe doesn't recognize, apparently, that the rest of the world is not just going to lay down at his command. They can hurt the US, and the quicker they discover that, the harder it will be for us.

Mexican Senator to Introduce a Bill to Stop Buying US Corn.

Mexico is ready to hit the U.S. where it hurts: Corn.

Mexico is one of the top buyers of American corn in the world today. And Mexican senator Armando Rios Piter, who leads a congressional committee on foreign relations, says he will introduce a bill this week where Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.

It's one of the first signs of potential concrete action from Mexico in response to President Trump's threats against the country.

"I'm going to send a bill for the corn that we are buying in the Midwest and...change to Brazil or Argentina," Rios Piter, 43, told told CNN's Leyla Santiago on Sunday at an anti-Trump protest in Mexico City.

They loved Trump to death in Iowa.

Mexico is one of the world's largest importers of US corn. Corn purchases by Mexico are about $2.4 billion dollars.

"As you sow, so shall you reap." - Galatians, 6.

Nice listing of the putative carbon intensity of biobased chemicals.

It's become increasingly clear to me in recent years that all efforts to address climate change have failed miserably, as we can see by looking at the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide data, at least until the Republicans either destroy the carbon dioxide observatory outright or begin to fudge the data, neither of which will have any bearing whatsoever on the truth itself, other than to obscure it.

Thus, among the many burdens we have placed on all future generations is the likely need they will have, in order to stabilize the climate, for the need to actually remove carbon dioxide - our waste, not theirs necessarily - directly from the atmosphere.

This is an almost impossibly difficult engineering task, although there are many scientists who refuse to give up hope that it is an engineering challenge that can be met. (One of my personal favorites is Christopher Jones's group at Georgia Tech.)

I question it, but I believe that if it is possible at all, biobased chemicals, which theoretically could sequester carbon in an economically viable way inasmuch as the carbon would not be sequestered in the oft imagined waste dumps, but as products, useful products, in particular polymers.

As I catch up on some reading, I came accross an interesting paper in the relatively new, but rich, journal, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering which gives a very nice table of the carbon intensity of a broad range of biobased chemicals from a number of biological feedstocks.

The paper in question is this: Meta-Analysis of Life Cycle Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Priority Biobased Chemicals (ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2016, 4, 6443−6454). While the parent paper may be behind a firewall, the "Supplementary Information" which actually contains the data tables on the carbon cost (or benefit) of biobased fuels is not and can be accessed by the general public.

Supporting Information, Meta-Analysis of Life Cycle Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Priority Biobased Chemicals

If one looks at the table, one will see that many of the chemicals actually release more carbon dioxide than they sequester. While this may seem to make the situation hopeless, it actually need not always be so, since these calculated values assume certain process parameters.

In many cases one of the inputs for processing is heat and currently heat is often provided by the use of dangerous fossil fuels. It is possible however for this heat to be obtained in other ways, notably with the use of high temperature nuclear reactors of types being evaluated all over the world by nuclear engineers. This may offer an avenue to making some of those processes (most notably those involving reformation) that are marginally carbon positive, carbon negative.

Some excerpts of the full paper's text:

Biofuels and biobased chemicals have received significant interest as a potential low-carbon and environmentally sustainable alternative to conventional fossil-based fuels and petrochemicals. As defined by the US Secretary of Agriculture in the Farm and Rural Investment Act of 2002, biobased products are commercial or industrial products that are composed of biological products, renewable agricultural and forestry materials, or intermediate feedstocks, in whole or insignificant parts.1 The annual production of biobased chemicals(excluding fuels) is estimated to be 50 million tons,2 dominated by biobased polymers (55%), oleo chemicals (20%), and fermentation products (18%).3 Commercialization of biobased chemicals is still nascent, and their penetration rate in the global market will be strongly dependent on the development of biorefineries.4 The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)estimates that the global chemicals industry is projected to grow 3−6% annually through 2025, with the biobased chemicals share of that market rising from 2% in 2006 to22% or more by 2025.5

50 million tons is a trivial amount, given that we now irreversibly dump more than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into our favorite waste dump, the atmosphere now, and - while we wait like Godot for the solar and wind miracle that never comes - the dumping is rising in volume, not falling. Still, one hopes that we can make progress.

Some other text, later in the paper:

In this study, we reviewed published results for life cycle GHG emissions and energy use for 34 priority biobased chemicals, including those identified by DOE, compared against their fossil-based counterparts. Prior meta-analyses of bioenergy systems showed that there are several factors controlling environmental benefits from GHG emission and energy use, from biomass carbon cycle and soil carbon change to selection of appropriate fossil reference systems, homogeneity of input parameters, and coproduct handling schemes.25,26 The present meta-analysis is conducted for biobased chemicals, focusing on collection and interpretation of existing LCA results with statistical analysis. It does not attempt a harmonization of various cases but rather aims to identify trends across the many feedstocks and processing routes that have been considered, while examining the statistical effects of modeling factors such as coproduct allocation. The main goals of this work are to evaluate a potential renewable chemical standard, to identify gaps in the assessment literature and to synthesize the state of knowledge for net energy and life cycle GHG emissions assessment of biobased chemicals.

Another paper along these lines in the same issue of the same journal that strikes me as interesting is this one: Reductive Catalytic Fractionation of Corn Stover Lignin (ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2016, 4, 6940−6950)

Here's a graphic from the paper's abstract:

The cellulosic ethanol business has failed commercially, and the plants built to make it commercially viable have all failed. These were fermentation systems, inherently batch processes, batch processes, particularly water based batch processes are seldom successful to make commodity chemicals.

But the process here is thermal, and thus quite different, far more amenable to continuous flow.

The stover, irrespective of the failure of the cellulose to ethanol processes, is still carbon captured from the air. Perhaps it's not wise to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The chemicals shown here in the graphic are hydrogenated ("saturated), but the intermediates (shown in the full text but not shown here) are unsaturated, meaning that they are potential precursors to polymers. What is interesting about these putative polymers (which are not discussed in the paper) is that they are highly functionalized and could in theory be utilized to make resins like commercially important peptide synthesis resins, but more importantly, I think, a whole host of functionalized resins designed to remove dilute and sometimes toxic (or commercially desired) elements from very dilute streams, for example mercury from coal plants now found in all the world's water supplies, or lead, from coal and other sources.

I'd like to think there's still some hope for the future, even in times that seem hopeless.

Esoteric but interesting, I think.

Enjoy the remainder of the weekend.

Went to a Phil Murphy 4 Governor Event; Quite a Turnout.

Somehow, about a year or so ago, I found myself on Phil Murphy's mailing list, before he announced he was running for Governor.

I asked myself, who the hell is Phil Murphy, and why is he crowding my inbox.

It was all "Christie sucks" stuff, and I said, "I know, Christie sucks, but, um, who's Phil Murphy?"

A recent email invited me to an event near where I live. It was at a West Windsor Athletic Club, owned by a Chinese American immigrant; the mayor of West Windsor is a very popular Chinese American immigrant; 76% of West Windsor voted for Ms. Clinton.

He came with Bernie Sanders son, Levy Sanders. (For the record, I don't actually like Bernie Sanders.)

Anyway. There were about 300 people there, maybe a few more, standing room only.

Phil Murphy spoke and he's quite an engaging guy; despite all the Sanders praise, I rather liked him, well informed, clearly bright, enthusiastic and as he made clear, despite his (Goldman Sachs generated) wealth, he came up from a lower middle class family. Like me, his father didn't finish high school.

Criticisms: The staff had people write out questions in advance so that they could go through them and make sure they were all "soft ball" - questions which would allow him to make responses that the audience, 100% democratic, would all approve.

I had the privilege of chatting with three other people outside, one of whom, like me was a scientist, who as it happens is working on solar energy projects. (I do not approve of solar energy.) I was gratified though that this scientist agreed with me that nuclear energy is a critical tool that we must have to fight climate change. We both felt Phil soft balled it; wind and solar...wind and solar...blah...blah...blah.

All four of us though liked Phil, including a nice woman who immigrated from a foreign country, Kansas, who agreed, as the four of us did, that New Jersey is the best state in the Union and that Phil Murphy might prove a wise choice to lead the state.

(I have to check out the other candidates though.)

Turnouts have been pretty good at his events.

One note of optimism:

It seems that since the election of the orange nightmare, political events are becoming more important for everyone, and attendance is rising. Three hundred people at a political event early in the gubernatorial process is impressive. This I think is because many of us around the country recognize that turning our country over to right wing traitors who care not a whit about America but only there own power - including the leadership of our awful congress - has made us recognize that our country could, indeed, be destroyed. We are looking for leaders.

Phil Murphy I think, although I have some reservations, could be an fine leader for New Jersey. Even if he's hanging out with the Sanders crowd - probably to deflect from the Goldman Sachs history which he shared with Corzine - my impression is that he's more like Hillary Clinton inasmuch as he's bright, and he cares.

I'm seriously considering a primary vote for him.

Phil Murphy for Governor.
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