Tag Archives: Rick Perry

Rick Perry leaves Cabinet under his own power; no small feat

I’ll acknowledge what you may already suspect: Rick Perry wasn’t my favorite Texas politician when he served as the state’s longest-ever tenured governor.

However, as secretary of energy, Rick Perry proved to be, well, a survivor in the sausage grinder that passes for Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

He’s about to leave office under his own power. He’s walking way because he chose to do so, not because Donald Trump kicked him out. Believe me, given the president’s record of booting top-level officials to the curb, that is no small feat.

How has he done as energy boss, running an agency he once targeted for elimination were he elected president in 2012 — and which he (in)famously forgot to mention when he sought to list the agencies he would eliminate? Not bad, but not great.

My biggest bone to pick with him is that he was virtually silent in pushing alternative energy development. That was not what occurred on his watch as Texas governor, when he presided over the state’s ascent to leading the nation in the development of wind energy. OK, so his governorship wasn’t a total loser.

His energy secretary tenure featured none of that kind of leadership, which I find a major disappointment.

However, he is able to walk away from the Cabinet without being forced out. That is a relatively important aspect of his departure from public office.

He wants to come home. I guess he wants to do something else. Maybe spend “more time with the family.” I don’t know.

There might be some questions to answer, though, as his name has gotten entangled in that Ukraine matter involving his soon-to-be former political benefactor, Donald Trump … the man he once described as a “cancer on conservatism.”

Keep your phone close by, Mr. Secretary. Congress might be on the other end of a call.

Trump was ‘chosen’? By whom and for what purpose?

There can be little if any doubt that Energy Secretary Rick Perry has swilled the Donald J. Trump Kool-Aid, the elixir that turns Trump foes into slobbering sycophants.

The lame duck energy boss, who’s leaving office at the end of this week, has declared that the president is the “chosen one” who got elected in 2016.

Really? I could swear I heard the former Texas governor declare that Trump was a “cancer on conservatism.” He said that during the 2016 presidential campaign when Perry was one of a large group of Republicans challenging Trump for the party nomination.

Perry told Fox News that Trump was “sent by God to do great things.” I am resisting the urge to upchuck my breakfast.

I will not delineate the areas where I believe Trump has fallen flat on his face as president, other than to say that Perry’s phony-sounding fealty to Trump has the sound to my ears of a cult follower.

“God’s used imperfect people all through history. King David wasn’t perfect. Saul wasn’t perfect. Solomon wasn’t perfect,” Perry said in the interview, which aired this past Sunday.

Oh … my.

You may go now, Mr. Secretary.

Fix the DACA mess; restore humaneness to our immigration policy

 ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A Facebook friend, a man I actually know and respect, brought up a point on an earlier blog post that I want to acknowledge here.

He agrees with my belief that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to be repaired, not eliminated, but he cautions about the need to deal with the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals matter as well.

He is correct.

DACA recipients are being punished unjustly only because they were children when their parents sneaked them into the country illegally. The Donald Trump administration wants them deported. The president rescinded an executive order that President Obama signed that gave DACA residents a form of temporary amnesty from deportation.

ICE is under orders to find these folks and detain them.

This isn’t right. It’s cruel and it is inhumane to deport DACA recipients, many of whom have excelled scholastically in the only country they’ve ever known.

I should point out as well two previous Texas governors — George W. Bush and Rick Perry, both Republicans — have all but embraced the idea contained in the DACA executive order that Obama signed. They have supported initiatives, for instances, to grant DACA students in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in Texas. Why? Because they recognize the contributions these young students can make if they are allowed to succeed while continuing to reside in Texas.

ICE can do much good for the country as we seek to reform our immigration policy. I also agree with former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s campaigning for president, that the best way to ensure a thorough and lasting repair of ICE is to change presidents. Donald Trump won’t do it.

Indeed, DACA reform must be part of any effort to re-humanize our nation’s immigration policy.

Texas is becoming the ‘windy state’

We’re No. 1! It’s a common refrain heard on fields of athletic competition in Texas.

However, Texas has achieved a top-tier ranking in a most fascinating — and one might say unexpected — category. Texas has become the most wind-powered state in the Union. Texas is known more for its pump jacks that pull oil out of the ground. They’re still doing all over the state, but wind power is not to be denied.

I just posted a blog item lamenting the lack of discussion about climate in the upcoming presidential campaign. Here, though, is a reason to hope that Texas might become a leader in the discussion and promotion of wind energy.

The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas reports that wind has replaced coal as the leading provider of electricity in this state. Yes, natural gas remains a huge energy source. Texas, though, has seen a skyrocketing rise in wind energy over the past several years.

I am happy to report that my wife and I have sat at a ringside seat while Texas has become a major wind-power producer. We used to live just a bit east of the wind farm in Adrian pictured along with this blog post. We’ve since moved on to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, but the wind energy industry is continuing to grow significantly along the High Plains of Texas.

This is exciting news.

Wind power remains a costly endeavor. It is expensive to produce and store electricity generated by wind. Believe me, though, the Texas Panhandle has an infinite supply of wind, which to my mind is the cleanest possible energy source possible. Whereas petroleum, natural gas and coal are finite resources, the wind will always blow.

I usually am quite critical of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, however, I want to give Gov. Perry — who is soon to depart as secretary of energy — a proverbial high five for presiding over much of Texas’s wind-power development during his lengthy stint as governor. And, no, it didn’t hurt a bit to say something good about the man the late columnist Molly Ivins dubbed “Governor Goodhair.” 

So, the wind will blow in Texas. The state’s growth will require more electrical use. The wind will continue to play a growing role in fulfilling those power needs … and our precious environment won’t suffer a bit.

Perry to quit Trump Cabinet, ending a quiet tenure at Energy

Rick Perry reportedly is set to quit his job as secretary of energy, returning to the private sector, perhaps in Texas, where he served as the state’s longest-tenured governor before joining the Donald Trump administration.

Some in the media are making a bit of noise about Perry’s pending departure, linking him to the growing scandal involving Trump’s relationship with Ukraine and his solicitation of the Ukrainian president to assist in Trump’s bid for re-election.

Actually, Perry has been reported ready to leave D.C. for several weeks.

How has he done as energy secretary? I wish he would have devoted as much, um, energy to alternative power sources as he did when he served as Texas governor from 2000 to 2014. Indeed, Texas emerged as a leader in wind-power technology during Perry’s stint as governor.

He ran for the Republican nomination for president twice, in 2012 and 2016. Perry once called Donald Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” then swallowed his criticism when the president nominated him to become energy secretary.

Perhaps most ironic is that Perry — during a presidential candidate joint appearance in 2012 — became the source of the infamous “oops” quote when he couldn’t name the third agency he would eliminate were he elected president; that agency was the Department of Energy.

Whatever … Perry became an advocate for fossil fuels when he took the Cabinet post. Yes, he also pitched alternative energy development, but with hardly any of the verve he did while in Austin.

I haven’t a clue whether the Ukraine scandal is going to swallow Perry along with Trump and possibly others within the administration. The president reportedly told a GOP audience that Perry asked him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zellenskiy, which has produced much of the evidence that Trump has violated his oath of office by soliciting the Ukrainian for re-election help along with dirt on former VP Joe Biden.

That part of the saga will play out in due course.

As for Secretary Perry’s record at the Department of Energy?

Eh …

Still wondering: Why not mandatory helmet law?

As my wife and I have motored across Texas and into Louisiana for the past few days we have witnessed a number of motorcyclists behaving (in my view) dangerously on our public highways.

They whip across lanes, weaving at high speeds through traffic.

What’s more, most of them are bare-headed. They aren’t wearing helmets.

And . . . it makes me lament that Texas decided back in 1995 to toss aside its mandatory helmet law in favor of allowing motorcyclists to blast their way along our highways with exposed noggins.

I know this is a hopeless notion as long as Republicans control the Texas Legislature, but I am going to express my wish that legislators one day might find it within them to reintroduce the helmet law.

At this moment, only 19 of our 50 states require motorcyclists to wear helmets; 28 states — including Texas — require some motorcycle riders to wear the protective gear. Those riders are children. Only three states — Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire — have zero helmet requirements for motorcyclists and their passengers.

I might be overly pessimistic about the Texas Legislature’s potential for doing the right thing. The GOP-controlled Legislature did enact a law in 2017 that bans handheld cellphone use while driving motor vehicles. I still am amazed that the Legislature did pass such a law in 2011, only to have then-Gov. Rick Perry veto it, calling the law an infringement on personal liberty. It took a new Legislature and a new governor, Greg Abbott, to create that new law.

I wish the Legislature could find it within itself to do the same thing with motorcycle helmets. In 1995, when lawmakers dropped the law, they required licensed motorcyclists to be insured for at least $10,000. To which I said at the time “big . . . fu***** . . . deal.” Someone who suffers a traumatic head injury can burn through 10 grand before he or she even enters the ER.

I do know that helmets save lives. They also spare motorcyclists from debilitating head injuries that over time put a terrible strain on our state’s medical and social services.

While working as a journalist in the Golden Triangle in the early 1990s, an acquaintance from Orange County told me he hated the helmet law because he couldn’t “feel the wind” in his hair. I laughed in his face.

I know I’m spitting into the wind on this notion. That’s all right. I’ll keep spitting whenever the spirit moves me.

Trump shows off his energy ignorance

Just about the time you think Donald Trump cannot demonstrate any greater degree of ignorance on important matters, he pops off to one of his right-wing fanatics.

The president of the United States is insisting that wind energy is a waste of money, it doesn’t work when the wind doesn’t blow and that he intends to continue to push for revival of the coal industry.

He and Fox News’ Sean Hannity exchanged ignorant rants this week about wind power, which Trump has detested for years.

I believe the president needs to acquaint himself with the secretary of energy, Rick Perry. I would bet real money that the former Texas governor might have a markedly different view of the value of wind power than the man who nominated him to the Cabinet post.

It was on Perry’s watch as Texas governor that the state became a leading producer of wind-generated electricity. Perry signed off on legislation allowing for the construction of wind turbines all across West Texas. Yep, they turn constantly out there on the High Plains, the South Plains, along the Trans-Pecos.

The electricity generated by those turbines — or “windmills,” as Trump refers to them — is replacing energy produced by fossil fuels. DOE’s website says this: “Grid operators use the interconnected power system to access other forms of generation when contingencies occur and continually turn generators on and off when needed to meet the overall grid demand.”

Trump isn’t sold. He continues to foment the canard about the hazard the turbines pose for migrating birds. Yes, some birds are injured or killed when they fly into the turbines. The Energy Department says the numbers are insignificant and that wind turbines pose less of a threat to fowl than buildings. According to IJR Blue’s website: Wind turbines do present a threat to birds, but the Energy Department points out that these deaths are rare and that habitat destruction and development of infrastructures such as roads and powerlines poses a much greater threat.

Trump’s shallowness reminds me of the time U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a noted climate change denier, brought a snowball to the Senate floor one winter to say that because it was cold outside that day in Washington that Earth’s changing climate poses no threat to anyone or anything.

Yep. We are being governed by an ignoramus.

Oops! Or so it should go for Rep. Schiff

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff needs to invoke a four-letter utterance made famous by a Trump Cabinet official who once ran for president of the United States.

Oops! That’s what Energy Secretary Rick Perry said when he couldn’t think of the third agency he would shut down were he elected president in 2012.

Well, Chairman Schiff is now eating his words in an “oops” moment.

Stand down, Mr. Chairman

He said that he knew of “more than circumstantial evidence” that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Except that special counsel Robert Mueller disagreed with Schiff. He filed his report over the weekend and concluded that he didn’t have enough to charge the Trump team with collusion.

House and Senate Republicans are steamed at Schiff. They say he owes Trump and apology. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has demanded that his fellow Californian resign from his Intel Committee chairmanship, if not from the House altogether.

That is an overreach. Perhaps he could apologize whenever the president says he’s sorry for fomenting lies about Barack Obama’s birth, or for mocking the New York Times reporter’s disability, or for saying the late John McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured” during the Vietnam War.

Schiff is standing behind his belief that there’s more to learn about collusion, although he said he accepts Mueller’s judgment.

The Intelligence Committee chairman needs to stand down on this collusion matter. Robert Mueller looked high and low for criminal behavior. He didn’t find it. I get that Schiff is unhappy with the result; so are many millions of other Americans . . . me included.

But that’s what we got.

As for the obstruction of justice matter, Mueller was decidedly non-committal.

Perhaps, though, Chairman Schiff ought to just say “oops!” and go on to the next thing, whatever it is.

‘Right of privacy’ argument doesn’t work

I have made this point before, but it’s worth making again. A fellow who comments occasionally on this blog took note of how those who gripe about red-light cameras cite a phony infringement on their “right of privacy.”

He notes correctly that when motorists travel on public streets and are required to follow the law they surrender their “right of privacy.”

At issue is the future of red light cameras in cities across Texas. The Legislature is considering whether to pull back its authorization for cities to deploy the cameras to help deter motorists from running through red lights.

There is no such thing as a “right of privacy” when motorists put other motorists and pedestrians in peril when they break the law.

The cameras do have their critics. They say the timing of the light sequence from yellow to red can be unfair to motorists trying to sneak through under yellow.

Right of privacy, though, doesn’t cut it. I am reminded of the time then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill that banned cell phone use while driving. He cited the legislation as an invasion of motorists’ right of privacy.

Gov. Perry’s thinking at the time was idiotic. The gripes now about red light cameras and the privacy issue are equally idiotic.

Incumbents quite often got our nod

I published a blog post this week in which I declared that the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees needs to get a serious electoral wake-up call from voters this year. The board has delivered shabby treatment to a young high school girls volleyball coach, meaning that it didn’t measure up to its public office.

Then came a question from the reader of the blog. He wondered how many times during my years as an opinion writer and editor I endorsed those who challenged incumbent officeholders.

That was what I described to him as a “tremendous question.”

I edited editorial pages in Texas for nearly 30 years: 11 at the Beaumont Enterprise and nearly 18 years at the Amarillo Globe-News.

I had the pleasure of interviewing likely hundreds of political candidates during all those years.

I told the reader of my blog that during that time our newspapers recommended the re-election of incumbents far more frequently than we recommended the election of newcomers.

Why stay the course? Well, I suppose we placed a huge premium on experience. Absent overt malfeasance or incompetence on the part of incumbents, we usually gave them the benefit of the doubt. If the communities they served were doing well economically, they quite often deserved some measure of credit for that performance.

Sure, we would go with challengers on occasion. In Beaumont, the Enterprise once recommended the election of former Beaumont Mayor Maury Meyers, a Republican, over incumbent U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks, the irascible Democrat who chaired the House Judiciary Committee; Brooks won re-election anyway, but held a bit of a grudge against yours truly for authoring the editorial. Many years later, the Amarillo Globe-News recommended the election of Patti Lou Dawkins over incumbent Randall County Judge Ted Wood in the county’s Republican primary; Wood defeated Dawkins.

Perhaps the most controversial non-incumbent endorsement we made in Amarillo occurred in 2010 when we recommended former Houston Mayor Bill White over Texas Gov. Rick Perry. White, the Democratic nominee, got thumped by the Republican governor. The reaction from our readers was ferocious. But . . . we called it the way we saw it.

But over the span of time, we usually went with the incumbent mostly on the basis of the experience they brought to the office.

All of this, I suppose, is what got my blog reader’s attention when I recommended that the AISD board of trustees incumbents get shown the door when Election Day rolls around later this year.

I just try to call ’em the way I see ’em.