Tag Archives: John Kerry

Green New Deal is back!

 

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Just in time, a newer version of legislation that got stalled a couple of years ago in the U.S. Senate, has returned to the center stage of environmental policy discussion.

The Green New Deal — the bogeyman of the Republican Party — has been reintroduced by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; indeed, AOC herself has become a favorite target of GOP critics.

Why is this so timely? Because we have Earth Day coming up Thursday. It’s the one day of the year — as if we should dedicate just a single day — we call attention to the fragility of the only planet we can inhabit.

I’ll save a discussion on the nuts and bolts of the Green New Deal for another day. I do want to make a point about the importance of what the GND intends to accomplish. It seeks to preserve our environment, to retain Earth as a place where human beings can inhabit.

President Biden has made climate change one of the linchpins of his tenure in office. He appointed former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of State John Kerry as a special international envoy on climate change. The president signed an executive order upon taking office to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord, from which Donald Trump had walked away when he took office.

Climate change presents an existential threat to our national security. Never mind the spring chill that has swept across the nation in recent days. The evidence continues to show that Earth’s median temperatures continue to increase year over year. Ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. Third World nations continue to fell millions of acres of forest each year. The industrialized nations of the world continue to pour millions of tons of carbon-related pollutants into the air.

We must find some answers to these crises. Many of us say it when Earth Day rolls around every year: We only have one planet … and we have to protect it.

Is the Green New Deal too much? Too little? I don’t know. However, I believe we must not continue to do what we have been doing. We are contributing to the destruction of our Good Earth.

Climate change: existential threat

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has blasted his way out of the chute determined to make good on proclamations he made along the campaign trail.

He has a pandemic with which to deal. He vows to restore our worldwide alliances. Biden vows to boost our economy with a titanic stimulus package. Oh, and he wants to tackle climate change head-on, full throttle.

I want to explore briefly the climate change matter.

In one of his first acts as president, Biden signed an executive order returning the United States to the worldwide Paris Climate Accord, from which Donald Trump pulled this nation.

Then he named John Kerry the head of a newly created position, special envoy on climate change. Kerry comes to this task with an impressive personal and professional record: combat veteran of the Vietnam War, senator from Massachusetts, secretary of state during the second term of the Barack Obama administration.

He now takes on the role of climate change envoy to communicate with the world on policies enacted by the Biden administration  dealing with climate change.

President Biden is  taking precisely the opposite approach to climate change than the one articulated by Donald Trump. Biden calls climate change an “existential threat” to the nation; Trump calls it a “hoax.” It isn’t a hoax. It’s the real thing. It is harming us tangibly. It poses a threat to Earth and to our ability over the long term to continue to thrive, let alone survive, on the only planet we can call home.

Biden wants to suspend oil and natural gas leases. He intends to re-energize — no pun intended — efforts to develop renewable energy sources. The president plans to restore the tougher air quality rules and  regulations that Donald Trump rescinded.

John Kerry doesn’t take on this task peering through sparkly glasses. He is realistic about the threat. Kerry said recently that even if we reduce carbon emissions today to “zero,” we still might be unable to reverse the effects of climate change on Earth’s environment.

* * *

I must add an important caveat to what I hope is a concerted effort to stem to effect of climate change. Someone will have to explain to me how our military establishment will operate the equipment it uses in a climate-friendly manner. Our jets, naval vessels, and our vast array of land vehicles — tanks, trucks, fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers — require fossil fuels to operate. If we can find our way to balance those needs with strategies that attack the existential threat many of us believe is out there … then we might be able to save the world.

I want to give President Biden a push in the direction he needs to go to attack climate change.

Welcome back, John Kerry

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Good show, Mr. President-elect.

Joe Biden has delivered on a key campaign promise, which was to re-elevate the worldwide climate crisis to the top of the presidential administration’s priority list.

Biden has named former Secretary of State John Kerry as head of a climate change post within the National Security Council. This is a clear signal that President-elect Biden intends to put Kerry to work full time on searching for solutions to the worldwide crisis that, indeed, poses a national security threat of the first order.

I am delighted (a) to see John Kerry brought back into public service and (b) to know that Joe Biden intends to follow through on a key campaign promise to devote sufficient energy and emotional capital to the world’s most glaring international threat.

Kerry made climate change a key focus of his time as secretary of state, seeking to persuade his peers around the world of the need to curb the impact of carbon emissions and other human-caused effects on the world’s climate.

There can be no doubt that the climate is changing. There also should be no doubt that human activity has led to an acceleration of that change. I won’t buy into the notion that the change is part of some natural epochal cycle over which we have no control. We must seek ways to do whatever is humanly possible to stem the effects of the changing climate.

The new president is making it clear he intends to do what he can.

I applaud his decision to bring John Kerry back onto the field of battle against climate change.

Swift Boat fiends are back

You’ll recall how 2004 Democratic Party presidential nominee John Kerry was defamed by those who sought to portray his heroic Vietnam War experience as a falsehood.

The term “Swift Boat” became a verb. You know, how Kerry was “Swift Boated” by the liars who launched the scurrilous attacks on the former Navy officer’s heroism while patrolling the rivers of South Vietnam.

Well, guess what, ladies and gents. The folks who engineered that hideous campaign are getting back into the game. They are planning a multimillion-dollar ad campaign aimed at bringing down the candidacy of the current Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.

Granted, Biden didn’t serve in the military, but he well might be receiving his version of the Swift Boat treatment from the political action committee that wants to support Donald Trump’s re-election.

They call themselves Preserve America. They will start advertising in swing states where Trump reportedly is vulnerable. As Politico reports: Preserve America’s first commercials will begin airing Tuesday in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Iowa, and Georgia. Roughly $25 million of the total buy will be invested on TV, a figure that nearly matches what America First Action and Priorities USA have spent on the airwaves over the course of the entire election cycle. The remaining $5 million will appear on digital platforms.

This is a frightening new aspect of this campaign, which everyone expects to head straight into the gutter as Trump’s mud-slinging machine kicks into high gear.

The Swift Boat defamation effort launched against John Kerry was despicable on its face. I am saddened to say I became acquainted with one of the Swift Boaters’ major benefactors, the late Texas oilman Boone Pickens. I regret terribly to this day never asking Pickens why he chose to underwrite the lies that Kerry’s enemies told about him and his valiant service during the Vietnam War. Well, that was then.

The here and now offers a stern warning about what lies ahead for the race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

My advice to the Biden team? Be ready to respond quickly and with all due vigor when they spread the lies we know are certain to come.

Don Jr. is in dire need of a reality check

Donald J. Trump Jr. is hawking a book with his name on it that, he says, seeks to fight back against what he calls mean-spirited attacks from the far left wing of the political spectrum.

Then he goes a step or three too far. He has declared on live TV that Republicans have sat back for “too long” while the left beats the daylights out of them with their attack machine.

Wow, man! Hold on for a second or two. Let’s take a walk along the political memory lane.

1972: President Nixon was running for re-election. His Democratic opponent was U.S. Sen. George McGovern, a fervent Vietnam War critic. He wanted the United States to end the war immediately. The Republican Party and the president’s re-election committee labeled McGovern a patsy, a wimp, a dovish coward. They questioned his patriotism and love of country. Oh, and then there’s this: Sen. McGovern was a decorated World War II U.S. Army Air Force bomber pilot who flew into harm’s way in Europe.

There’s that.

1992: President George H.W. Bush ran for re-election against Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. The Republican National Committee, along with heavily financed political action groups, sought to link Gov. Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the deaths of former aides. The implication was that the Clintons were somehow complicit in their deaths. The attacks continued even after Clinton was elected that year, with some on the right suggesting that they murdered their close friend Vincent Foster, who committed suicide shortly after President Clinton took office.

That’s an example, too.

2004: U.S. Sen. John Kerry was the Democratic presidential nominee. Prior to becoming a U.S. senator, he held elective office in Massachusetts. Prior to that he was part of a group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War. And, yes, he also had served heroically in Vietnam as a Navy swift boat officer. He was awarded several medals, including the Bronze Star, Silver Star and Purple Heart. But some foes on the right decided to “Swift Boat” Kerry, suggesting he didn’t really serve with valor. They launched a vicious, defamatory attack on his character. One of the chief financial sponsors of that hideous attack was the late Boone Pickens, the former Amarillo oil and natural gas tycoon.

OK, I have one more example.

2008: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama ran for president as the Democratic nominee. Some notable Republicans felt compelled to question whether the African-American presidential nominee was qualified to run for the office. They said he was born in Kenya. They challenged his constitutional eligibility. Obama said he was born in Hawaii in 1961. His mother was white; his father was a black Kenyan. He didn’t know his father and was raised by his mother and her parents, who lived in Kansas. All of his efforts to persuade his critics fell on largely deaf ears.

One set of deaf ears happened to belong to Donald J. Trump Sr., the current president of the United States and father of the nincompoop who is saying that Republicans have been silent for too long.

My point is this: Don Jr. needs to stop lying about alleged Republican “silence” in this toxic and vicious political climate. They have contributed more than their share of poison.

What in the world? GOP lining up in favor of Iran deal?

I do believe that hell has frozen over. It’s official, I’m tellin’ ya!

U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry has said out loud that he “would advise against” Donald Trump pulling out of the deal that seeks to prohibit Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal.

That’s right. Thornberry, who usually stands foursquare behind the president’s idiocy, is now sounding downright reasonable and rational in urging the president to back off his threat to pull out of the Iran nuke deal.

Thornberry said this on Fox News Sunday: “Secretary (of Defense James) Mattis talked about the inspectors that are in there. Does Iran kick those inspectors out so that we lose what visibility we have there?” he asked. “The Europeans are not going to reimpose sanctions. So where does that leave us and Iran? You need to have a clearer idea about next steps if we are going to pull out, and especially given the larger context of Iran’s aggressive activities in the Middle East.”

This comes from a lawmaker who initially opposed the Iran deal. Why? Well, beats me. Maybe it was merely because it was struck by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

According to NBC News: Other Republicans have said they are hoping that the Trump administration modifies the agreement so that it addresses certain holes such as not addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Thornberry is far from the only former deal critic to take another look at it.

Trump says he plans to announce Tuesday whether he is pulling out of the deal. I hope he modifies his initial blanket opposition, despite the urging of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who calls the deal a disaster and an invitation for Iran to go to war with Israel.

As for Thornberry’s change of heart, I certainly welcome whatever influence the Clarendon Republican might wield with a president who, um, listens to nobody.

Abbas utters shameful anti-Semitic rant

The long-sought “two-state solution” to a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East might have been given a critical punch in the gut because of hideous remarks from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Holocaust, Abbas said, was partly caused by the behavior of Jews. According to The Hill: Abbas pointed to the Jews’ “social behavior” and “their social function related to banks and interest” in a speech on Monday to the Palestinian National Council.

“From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, those Jews — who moved to western and eastern Europe — were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen? They say: ‘It is because we are Jews,’ ” Abbas said.

Abbas’s remarks have drawn worldwide condemnation. This came from former Secretary of State John Kerry, who said, via Twitter: These comments are wrong, ugly, and unacceptable – anywhere from anyone – but particularly from anyone who says he wants to be a peacemaker. No excuses for antisemitism: words to be condemned, not explained away. 

And this came from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, gave another anti-Semitic speech. With utmost ignorance and brazen gall, he claimed that European Jews were persecuted and murdered not because they were Jews but because they gave loans with interest.

Indeed, the Abbas’s comments disgrace the cause of the search for peace.

The Holocaust was caused solely by the evil intent of a regime that took control of a sovereign country, Germany, and sought to eradicate Europe of citizens merely because of their religious faith.

For Mahmoud Abbas to somehow lay part of the blame on Jews because of their “social behavior” is like blaming a child for the beating he gets from an adult because he cries too much.

Disgraceful.

Why, precisely, does POTUS oppose the Iran nuke deal?

One of the worst-kept secrets in Washington, D.C., is out: Donald J. Trump plans to decertify the agreement hammered out by the Obama administration to curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.

The president calls it the “worst deal ever negotiated” in the history of Planet Earth. He said he’d never strike such a deal. He has called it an “embarrassment” to the United States of America. He says it is not in our national interest.

Forgive me if I’ve missed something, although I don’t believe that’s the case, but has the president ever offered a single detail over precisely why he hates this deal with such a passion?

I haven’t heard him articulate a single policy dispute he has with it. He has spoken completely, totally and utterly in platitudes and clichés about why he hates this deal.

I cannot help but wonder whether his opposition stems largely — if not entirely — from the fact that President Obama’s national security team, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, negotiated this deal. Sure, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu hates the deal, too, but he hates any effort to make peace with his nation’s mortal enemies; in a way, I kind of understand Netanyahu’s suspicion, even if it’s a bit overheated.

Details of the Iran nuke deal

However, the president of the United States owes his constituents — you and me — a much more detailed explanation into why he opposes an agreement in which U.S. analysts say is being honored by the Iranians. Trump, though, says otherwise.

We’re supposed to take the president at his word? Is that the deal?

Uh … no thank you.

‘You can’t unhonk the horn’

Former Secretary of State John Kerry spoke a fundamental truth about how difficult it is to take back public statements.

Donald J. Trump said the patently wrong thing about the violence that erupted over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., calling an end to violence “on many sides.”

Rather than single out the white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen who initiated the violence, Trump chose instead to equivocate shamefully.

Well, he took a baby step toward redemption today by singling out the racists and bigots who gathered in Charlottesville to protest the taking down of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Many observers have noted that the president seemed a bit uncomfortable today as he delivered his prepared remarks.

Kerry, though, said you can’t “take back” the “many sides” comment. Kerry called the president’s first response “revealing” and said they had empowered “the worst of the worst.”

Trump tried to take it back but failed, according to Kerry.

I’m reminded of what my late friend and former colleague Claude Duncan was fond of saying: “You can’t unhonk the horn.”

Indeed, people in high places aren’t usually allowed to take mulligans. There aren’t any do-overs — especially for the president of the United States, whose words resonate and keep resonating long after he utters them.

What about our allies, Mr. Secretary?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has put Iran “on notice” yet again.

He also put several of our nation’s key allies on notice, too, by suggesting that the United States’ commitment to negotiated agreements isn’t as rock-solid as it must be.

Tillerson put the world on notice this week that the United States no longer thinks much of a deal meant to deny Iran the ability to develop a nuclear weapon. It’s part of Donald John Trump’s vow to renegotiate agreements that he says are worst in the history of humankind.

The Iran nuke deal falls into that category, according to the president.

The deal was brokered by former Secretary of State John Kerry in conjunction with foreign ministers from Great Britain, China, France, Germany and, oh yes, Russia. What would a U.S. withdrawal from the agreement mean to our partners?

This is just me, but perhaps it would mean that the United States isn’t a trustworthy partner. It well could fracture our international alliances, particularly as it regards the Brits, French and the Germans, who are critical players in our nation’s ongoing geopolitical struggle with forces that seek to undermine us at every turn.

I’m not going to assert that the Iran nuke deal is perfect in every single way. But it does allow for careful monitoring of the Islamic Republic’s intentions and it gives the United States plenty of room to re-impose economic sanctions if it’s determined that Iran isn’t complying with the terms of the agreement.

Tillerson’s comments centered on Iran’s continued support of international terrorism. OK, then. Deal with that separately, Mr. Secretary.

Although the secretary didn’t say directly that the Trump administration would back out of the nuke deal, he did sound a dire warning. According to Politico: “Apparently referencing a failed 1994 nuclear deal with North Korea, which now has nuclear weapons, Tillerson said Wednesday that the Iran agreement is ‘another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions. We just don’t see that that’s a prudent way to be dealing with Iran.’”

Our partners are watching with great interest. I believe it would foolish to renege on a deal that took a long time to craft. After all, the United States isn’t the only actor in this drama.