Tag Archives: DOE

Oh, Ted … please shut up!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Forgive this brief bit of “what aboutism.” I just cannot let this statement go without a response.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said this today regarding President Biden’s nomination of Xavier Becerra to become the next secretary of health and human services:

The fact that President Biden was willing to nominate Xavier Becerra — someone with zero experience in anything related to health care — to the Department of Health and Human Services during this pandemic, illustrates Biden prioritizes partisan politics above all else.

Oh, my. Where do I begin?

I’ll start with this: Cruz had no difficulty supporting the appointment of two members of the Donald Trump Cabinet with no experience at all overseeing the agencies they were selected to run.

Exhibit A is Dr. Ben Carson, the housing secretary and then we have Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education.

Dr. Carson was a renowned brain surgeon. Did he have a clue about public housing? Had he ever led an agency the size of HUD? No and no. Indeed, he was hard-pressed during his confirmation hearing to answer simple questions related to public housing policy. He got confirmed.

DeVos never attended public schools. Her children never attended them, either. She favors giving taxpayer funds to finance vouchers for children to attend private schools. She is anti-public education. DeVos was, and is, ignorant on basics about education policy. She, too, was confirmed … although it took a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence for her to take office.

Now we hear from the Cruz Missile saying that Becerra has no experience in health policy. Earth to Ted: Becerra served in the House of Representatives and was a key architect of the Affordable Care Act that Cruz has opposed since joining the Senate in 2013. Thus, Becerra had plenty to do with health care.

This kind of flippin’ nonsense from a loudmouth senator who doesn’t possess an ounce of introspection just sends me into orbit.

What’s more, to hear this kind of bullsh** coming from someone who sought to undermine a free and fair election and who ought to bear some responsibility for the hideous attack on our democratic system on Jan. 6 is reprehensible on its face.

My advice to Ted Cruz? Shut the hell up.

Hoping for more than climate change lip service

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Joe Biden is giving an abundance of lip service to climate change, global warming, clean energy development as he continues to formulate an executive government.

He did so yet again today in revealing his choices to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and the Energy Department.

Look, I believe the president-elect is sincere in his state desire to tackle what he has called the greatest “existential threat” to our national security. I agree with him. However, I intend to watch intently as the new president starts rolling out the policies that will put some meat on the rhetorical bones that President-elect Biden is delivering on the climate change issue.

I want to see investments made in clean energy development. Energy Secretary-designate Jennifer Granholm spoke to that desire when she spoke to us after Biden introduced her. Indeed, the POTUS-elect has talked about climate change initiatives as being job creators. He has said he wants to employ millions of Americans in clean energy development.

Climate change and global warming do present a grave threat to the nation. The gloom-and-doomers among us suggest it might be too late for humankind to stem the effects of our changing climate. I am not going to buy into that notion.

I want my government and the president I supported with my vote to contribute more than lip service. We need federal policies that will help us harvest the wind, the ocean tides and other clean renewable energy sources to do the job upon which we continue to rely on fossil fuels.

Those fossil fuels have their limits. They also are contributing to that existential threat that our new president says is endangering our planet.

Mr. President-elect, it’s time to get busy. As in immediately.

Russian cyber attack: a frightening act of aggression

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Those nasty, sinister Russians are at it again, only this time they have leveled their latest attack against this country at a target with which I have happen to have a touch of familiarity.

I used to live in and work in Amarillo, Texas, which is just a bit southwest of a massive complex where the Department of Energy stores nuclear weapons. The Pantex plant employs a lot of folks in the Texas Panhandle. It also stores thousands of nuclear warheads. The Russians reportedly hacked into DOE’s system and possibly have obtained vital information related directly to the Pantex operation.

This is frightening stuff, man. Meanwhile, what is the commander in chief — Donald John Trump — doing about it? Hmm. Let me think. Oh, I know! Not a damn thing!

He remains fixated on election results and phony allegations of fraud and illegal ballot-casting in an election that resulted in his loss to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

I used to comment on occasion while working at the Amarillo Globe-News about issues relating to Pantex. I cultivated many sources associated with the operation in Carson County. I became acquainted, too, with those associated with the Peace Farm, a site near the Pantex plant with the aim of protesting the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Pantex is a big part of the Texas Panhandle community. So, when I hear about a Russian hack into our nuclear weapons storage operations — of which Pantex is a key player — this story hits close too close to home for comfort.

Meanwhile, it is damn time for Donald Trump to condemn in the strongest language possible the Russians for mounting this latest frontal assault on this nation’s security.

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.

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 …

Why the heavy security for DOE boss?

Betsy DeVos is getting a lot of security from the U.S. Marshals Office.

She’s the secretary of education. Yet her security detail is running up a significant tab, nearly $20 million through September 2019.

I can understand such heavy security for, oh, the Drug Enforcement Agency boss, or the secretary of state, or the secretary of defense, the CIA director, the FBI director, the attorney general, the director of national intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the United Nations ambassador … and oh yes, the president and vice president of the United States of America.

But the education secretary? The individual charged with administering our nation’s public school systems?

DeVos has been heckled by protestors. The Justice Department ordered the protection after such heckling.

But, man, that’s a lot of money to spend guarding the nation’s public school boss. I would like to know what, precisely, we’re paying for.

Jackson mess seems to fit a pattern

Let’s review for a brief moment some of Donald J. Trump’s key Cabinet appointments.

I thought it would be worthwhile to look back a bit in the wake of the Dr. Ronny Jackson nomination to become head of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Jackson is a fine physician who has a good rapport with the president, which seems to be the major — perhaps the only — reason Trump selected him to lead the VA. He has no experience in leading an agency of such size and importance. His nomination is in dire peril over allegations of drinking on the job and over-prescribing of medicine.

  • Dr. Ben Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon who now runs the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His experience in running a huge federal agency? None, although he said he once visited a public housing complex.
  • Betsy DeVos was educated in private schools; she sent her children to private schools. She has no direct experience or exposure to public education. Yet she runs the U.S. Department of (public) Education.
  • Rick Perry once declared he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy. Now he is the secretary of the agency he once promised to wipe away.
  • Scott Pruitt served as Oklahoma attorney general and sued the federal government repeatedly over what he said were onerous regulations designed to protect our environment. Now he is head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Jim Bridenstine had no science background before Trump nominated him to lead NASA, the nation’s space agency.
  • The Trump administration has burned through four communications directors in less than 18 months. One of them had, um, no experience in the communications field.

Is there a pattern here? Sure there is. The fellow who nominated all of them to their high offices has no political/government/public service either.

The first public office the president of the United States ever sought was the one he occupies at this moment. He has no experience in government. None in public service.

He doesn’t know a damn thing about the value of public service, nor does he seem to appreciate why people serve the public.

There will be more drama and chaos to come. Of that I am certain.

But … the president tells it like it is.

Supply and demand and supply …

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is supposed to know about these things.

He was governor of Texas for a zillion years. Before that he was lieutenant governor. Before that he was the state’s agriculture commissioner.

He’s supposed to know some basic economics, or one should think. Yes? OK. He went to West Virginia today and spoke at a coal-fired power plant. Then the secretary said this: “Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand,” Perry said, according to reports. “You put the supply out there, and the demand will follow.”

To borrow a word that Perry himself made famous during the 2012 Republican presidential primary campaign: Oops!

I believe the secretary had it exactly backward. My understanding of economics suggests this: Demand drives supply, not the other way around.

Or, as The Hill reported: “Twitter users were quick to find fault with Perry’s use of the term, which is defined in the dictionary as the law that ‘an increase in supply will lower prices if not accompanied by increased demand, and an increase in demand will raise prices unless accompanied by increased supply.'”

Check out some of those tweets.

This won’t signal the end of the world or anything like that. I just recall how candidate Donald Trump ridiculed his 2016 GOP opponent for donning eyewear to “make himself look smart.” That was a cruel cut, to be sure.

However, if the president is going to surround himself with “the best people,” as he promised, then he needs them to articulate a basic economic tenet about supply and demand.

Trump and Perry: national security BFFs?

How in the world do these things happen?

Political foes say some amazingly harsh things to and about each other. Then when the fight is over, they declare a winner, all is forgiven and forgotten. It’s just politics, man. Which means that we didn’t really mean all those angry things we said to the other guy.

I just caught up with a story published in the Texas Tribune that seems to illustrate all of that quite nicely. Former longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who now serves as secretary of energy in the Donald J. Trump Cabinet — is now joining the National Security Council. Perry has become one of the president’s more trusted national security advisers.

Did they cure the ‘cancer on conservatism’?

Rick Perry once challenged Trump for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. He was one of a thundering herd of GOP hopefuls seeking to succeed President Obama.

Perry didn’t make the grade — again! But before he stepped off the stage, he did manage to launch a scathing, blistering attack on Trump, whom he called a “cancer on conservatism.” He said the cancer needed to be “excised” from the party, meaning, I suppose, that Republicans needed to do all they could to avoid nominating Trump.

Lo and behold! Trump wins the election and then selects Perry to run the DOE, which in itself is soaked in irony. You’ll recall that Perry ran for president in 2012 and during a primary debate sought to name the three federal agencies he would eliminate. He mentioned the departments of Education and Commerce, but then forgot the Energy Department, producing that infamous “oops” moment that likely will live forever.

I get that energy policy is a national security matter and that the energy secretary deserves to be included in national security discussions on the NSC.

It still does boggle my mind to see Rick Perry — of all people — elevated to this exalted place during this troubling time.

It makes me ask: Did he really mean that stuff about curing the conservative movement of its “cancer,” or was he making it all up?

How will we know when he’s speaking from the heart or whether he is merely pandering?