Archive for the ‘US’ Category

Trump starts governing, by tweet and before assuming office!

January 3, 2017

Donald Trump has found a new tool, a new weapon which seems to be a remarkably effective way of getting a favourable response.

Without debate and without even being in office.

The Tweet.

CBS: House Republicans decide to strip ethics change in emergency meeting

House Republicans agreed Tuesday to withdraw the rules change that would have stripped the chamber’s outside ethics watchdog of its independence and power after heavy public backlash and tweets of disapproval from President-elect Donald Trump.

Republican lawmakers agreed by unanimous consent in a closed-door emergency meeting Monday to strip the rules change from their overall rules package that the lower chamber is scheduled to vote on later in the day, according to a GOP aide.

This came as the new Congress was supposed to gavel in, and just two hours after Mr. Trump tweeted that congressional Republicans shouldn’t be wasting their time with a major ethics change.

trump-ethics-tweets

On Monday night, a majority of Republicans voted to rename the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to the Office of Congressional Complaint Review. The House Ethics Committee–whose members are lawmakers–will now oversee that outside office’s work.

Under the change proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, the outside office would not have been able to investigate anonymous tips, it couldn’t have had a spokesperson and it would have been barred from releasing its findings to the public. Members of the House Ethics Committee would also have been able to stop the office’s investigations.

Two tweets and he got the House Republicans to backtrack. In two tweets he manged to do what Paul Ryan could not. Note that Trump gave the House Republicans who had secretly voted for the rule change, a face saving way to back off by terming the ethics watchdog as possibly “unfair”.

It was a negotiation by twitter and a successful one at that.


 

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Kerry flogs a dead horse in Israel after his fiasco in Syria

December 28, 2016

I listened to John Kerry’s speech today and if you think a two state solution for Israel and Palestine will work, it seemed eminently reasonable. But the fundamental problem with the 2-state solution is that Palestine consists of 2 factions which will never see eye to eye – Fatah and Hamas. A 2-state solution would be self-destructive and would not accept Israel’s right to exist. A 3-state solution would only give two non-viable Palestinian states. Kerry’s speech was very defensive and his attempts to deny that the failure of the US to veto the UN resolution was anti-Israel were unconvincing, and sounded like rationalisation. It was not difficult to discern the personal vindictiveness (against Netanyahu) that Obama/Kerry were giving voice to.

Kerry warned that the 2-state solution is in jeopardy – and so it has always been since it is based on wishful thinking rather than the realities on the ground.

BBC: 

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on a two-state solution is in grave jeopardy.

And he insisted UN condemnation of illegal Jewish settlements on occupied land was in line with American values.

Earlier, US President-elect Donald Trump tweeted in support of Israel, saying he would not allow it to be treated with “disdain and disrespect”.

He urged Israel to “stay strong” until he assumed office next month.

On Friday, the US chose not to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to Israeli settlement construction, leading to an angry response from Israel.

The 2-state solution is going nowhere and alternatives have to be found. But Obama and Kerry have no capability of thinking outside the rut.

John Kerry and Barack Obama have a habit of choosing the wrong horse to back. After years of futile attempts to broker peace in Syria (after having first initiated and then encouraged the opposition to Assad), Turkey and Russia have managed to plan talks aimed at a nationwide cease-fire. That is something Obama/Kerry and the UN have not yet managed because they backed the wrong horse running in the wrong race. The new talks maybe have a chance because the US, the EU and the UN have been excluded.

Reuters: 

Turkey and Russia have prepared an agreement for a ceasefire in Syria, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday, adding that Ankara would not give up its opposition to President Bashar al-Assad staying on as leader. ….. Turkish minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s comments appeared to signal tentative progress in talks aimed at reaching a truce. While the insistence on Assad’s departure could complicate negotiations with his biggest backer, Russia, another Turkish official did not rule out a transitional role for the Syrian president.

Russia, Iran and Turkey said last week they were ready to help broker a peace deal after adopting a declaration in Moscow setting out principles that any agreement should adhere to. Russia has said the next talks are set for Astana, the Kazakh capital.

 …….. Last week, Russia’s foreign minister said Russia, Iran and Turkey had agreed the priority in Syria was to fight terrorism and not to remove Assad’s government – comments that suggested a shift by Turkey, which has long pushed for Assad to go.

…… Russian officials have said invitations to participants for the Astana talks have not been sent out and the time has yet to be decided. The talks would not include the United States and would be distinct from separate, intermittent U.N.-brokered negotiations.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura had spoken by phone with Lavrov and supported the efforts to establish a ceasefire and new peace talks.

Obama and Kerry have based too much of their foreign policy on wishful thinking – and wishful thinking supported by intelligence agencies producing reports, therefore, with a confirmation bias. They have given the administration just what they wanted to hear. In almost every instance (Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen ….) they have provided what the US government wanted to hear and ignored the realities that actually existed.


 

Erdogan has “proof” that Obama has been supporting ISIS

December 27, 2016

Hard on the heels of Obama’s betrayal of Israel in the UN Security Council, now comes Erdogan’s accusation – and he says he has proof – that Obama has been supporting ISIS. Now Russia, Turkey and Iran have sidelined the US and the EU from the Syrian process, and Russia has announced today that peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups would begin in Kazakhstan. The Obama/Kerry strategy is in  tatters as it is, and now Erdogan’s accusation gives weight to the suspicion that Obama has even been prepared to support ISIS and other terrorist organisations in his zeal to get rid of Assad. Erdogan made his accusationa at a press conference on Tuesday.

Express: 

ISLAMIC State militants are being supported by America, blasts Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, who claims to have proof at his disposal.

In the wake of two members of the Turkish military being savagely burnt to death by ISIS jihadis, Erdogan has launched a stinging attack on the Obama government, accusing it of supporting the terror cell. 

The 62-year-old, who recently survived a military coup, said: “They (US) were accusing us of supporting Islamic State.

“Now they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It’s very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos.” …..

Turkey has rushed tanks and heavy weapons to its border and blamed the US-led coalition for inadequate air support after Erdogan’s forces encountered deadly resistence from ISIS militants – 14 Turkish troops were killed. 

SIS claims it has killed 70 Turkish soldiers during the conflict and just a few days ago the warped death cult released a video of two Turkish men being burned alive.

Turkey has entered into an arrangement with Russia and Iran whereby Erdogan’s forces will be awarded the strategic city of al-Bab should they wrestle it from ISIS’ clutches.

Obama’s foreign policy legacy has been dominated by paralysis by analysis and is a legacy of many failures. And now even his intentions, it seems, were not always good.


 

“Not enough blacks for Clinton, too many whites for Trump”

December 26, 2016

After all the punditry in favour of Clinton, after the main-stream media ganged up against Trump, after the GOP repudiated Trump, and after the world media ridiculed Trump, the story of the US election reduces down to this little phrase:

“Not enough blacks for Clinton, too many whites for Trump”

I can’t quite say “I told you so”, but I found both his winning the Republican nomination and then the election were not too surprising. The wins fitted my theory that there is a global anti-establishment, anti-political-correctness wave going on right now. Part of my theory is also that science in general, and political “science” in particular, has lost its skepticism and has become “consensus science” where confirmation bias reigns. Punditry of all kinds is given far too much weight and far too much respect and there is now a global push-back against the “consensus of experts” where the “experts” are appointed (and anointed) by newspapers and TV channels.

Nate Cohn in the NYT:

But the electoral trends that put Donald J. Trump within striking distance of victory were clear long before Mr. Comey sent his letter. They were clear before WikiLeaks published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. They were even clear back in early July, before Mr. Comey excoriated Mrs. Clinton for using a private email server. It was clear from the start that Mrs. Clinton was struggling to reassemble the Obama coalition.

At every point of the race, Mr. Trump was doing better among white voters without a college degree than Mitt Romney did in 2012 — by a wide margin. Mrs. Clinton was also not matching Mr. Obama’s support among black voters. ………

…… Campaign lore has it that President Obama won thanks to a young, diverse, well-educated and metropolitan “coalition of the ascendant” — an emerging Democratic majority anchored in the new economy. Hispanic voters, in particular, were credited with Mr. Obama’s victory. But Mr. Obama would have won re-election even if he hadn’t won the Hispanic vote at all. He would have won even if the electorate had been as old and as white as it had been in 2004.

….. In 2016, Mr. Trump made huge gains among white working-class voters. It wasn’t just in the places where Democratic strength had been eroding for a long time, like western Pennsylvania. It was often in the places where Democrats had seemed resilient or even strong, like Scranton, Pa., and eastern Iowa. 

It was a decisive break from recent trends. White voters without college degrees, for the first time, deviated from the national trend and swung decidedly toward the Republicans. No bastion of white, working-class Democratic strength was immune to the trend.

For the first time in the history of the two parties, the Republican candidate did better among low-income whites than among affluent whites, according to exit poll data and a compilation of New York Times/CBS News surveys.

According to exit polls, Mr. Trump did better than Mr. Romney by 24 points among white voters without a degree making less than $30,000 a year. He won these voters by a margin of 62 to 30 percent, compared with Mr. Romney’s narrow win of 52 percent to 45 percent. ………

…….. The turnout probably increased among all major groups of voters — Hispanics, white Democrats, white Republicans — except black voters.

The conclusive data is available in the Southern states where voters indicate their race on their voter registration forms, and they point toward a considerable decline in black turnout.

In Georgia, the black share of the electorate fell to 27.6 percent from 29.9 percent, and in Louisiana it fell to 28.5 percent from 30.1 percent, according to the completed state turnout data. …….. Turnout dropped by 8 percent in the majority black wards of Philadelphia, while rising everywhere else in the city. …… The turnout in Detroit fell by 14 percent. Turnout fell in other industrial centers with a large black population, like Milwaukee and Flint, Mich. …….. Taken in totality, it appears that black turnout dropped somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent — with few exceptions.

Hispanic and Asian and female voters were, in the event, not the key to this election. The huge disappointment among women, not just in the US but  all over the world, was entirely gender based and did not reflect the lack of any Clinton message.  “Make America Great Again” resonated with whites but did not scare blacks too much. And Clinton had no real message for blacks except the continuation of the status quo – and that inspired nobody.

Trump over-performed with whites and Clinton badly under-performed with blacks.


 

Obama abandons Israel (to try and tie Trump’s hands?)

December 23, 2016

After the fanfare and hope and great expectations when Obama arrived 8 years ago, his departure is becoming a sad, graceless, spiteful, whingeing affair. He seems most interested in now trying to tie Donald Trump’s hands in the few weeks he has left.

For the first time in at least 8 years, the US abstained and declined to veto an anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council. But the result will only serve to weaken the UN and pander to Trump’s desire to pull back from it.

In Israel’s eyes Obama has clearly sided with the terrorists.

Reuters:

After the United States abstained from voting, the U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding Israel stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, a reversal of U.S. practice to protect Israel from United Nations action.

The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Israel and Trump had called on the United States to veto the measure. 

It was adopted with 14 votes in favor, to a round of applause. It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

There are reports that the US State Department helped to draft the anti-Israel resolution. The Palestine issue can only be solved by Israel and Palestine. The UN is a distraction and this resolution is likely not only to be counter-productive but to weaken the UN itself (which may, of course, be a good thing).

The US abstention was by Ambassador Samantha Power who has a history of being hostile to Israel.

WikipediaWhen asked what advice she would give to the president if either the Israelis or Palestinians looked “like they might be moving toward genocide,” Power said that the United States might consider the deployment of a “mammoth protection force” to monitor developments between the Israelis and Palestinians, characterizing it as a regrettable but necessary “imposition of a solution on unwilling parties,” and “the lesser of evils.”

She was also in the news in April this year when an armoured jeep in her motorcade ran over and killed a child in Cameroon and declined to stop. Of course she apologised later.

UN ambassador Samantha Power’s motorcade kills child in Cameroon


 

Popular vote, counties won and other nonsense

December 20, 2016

So Trump was confirmed by the Electoral College. It is not certain though that this will end the state of denial that Clinton’s supporters and the Clinton news media are stuck in.

The Democrats and Clinton’s campaign and her supporters are making much of her getting about 2.7 million votes more than Donald Trump – country wide – in the presidential election. This margin includes Clinton getting about 1.5 million more in New York than Trump and about 4.3 million more in California. But the race was never about the total popular vote but about winning the popular vote in each state and thereby winning the members of the Electoral College from that state. It is a mix of geography and population and not just population. It is the same mix of geography and population that gives the total number of members of Congress (Senate + House) from each state.

In the 48 states other than New York and California, Donald Trump won about 3.1 million more votes than Hillary Clinton.

Trump won 30 states compared to Clinton’s 20.

Therefore he should have won – without faithless electors – 306 votes to Clinton’s 232. In the event, 2 electors defected from Trump while 5 defected from Clinton giving a final result of 304 for Trump and 227 for Clinton.

Trump also won 2626 counties compared to Clinton’s 487 (AP data). But the number of counties in a state is of no relevance.

The criticism of the Electoral College, now, by sore losers is just a little stupid. The game was the Electoral College and not the popular vote. The arguments being put forward about the popular vote by Clinton devotees are also a little stupid. Those arguments would require that China and India each would have 4 votes in the UN to one for the US (and Sweden would then have 0.03 of a vote).

The counties only provide a picture of the geographic reach of the candidates. And the geographical picture is of an utter dominance of Republican counties.

Trump's reach by county

Trump’s reach by county


 

Russia accuses US coalition of assisting ISIS attack Palmyra to save Al-Nusra front rebels in Aleppo

December 13, 2016

What has been apparent is that the US led coalition (and France in particular) have a lot vested with the Assad-rebels holed up in Aleppo. France has been particularly active in trying to get the Russians and Assad’s forces to agree to a cease-fire in Aleppo – ostensibly for humanitarian aid – but also for relieving the besieged rebels that they support. Of course the US coalition attacking Mosul in Iraq have not been quite so concerned about the civilians being used as human shields by ISIS.

Of course this could just be Russian propaganda but there is some logic to their claim that the US-led coalition have allowed ISIS forces from Mosul to attack Palmyra to try and force Assad’s forces away from retaking Aleppo and instead to defend Palmyra. It is not inconceivable that the US and France are quite desperate to save the Al-Nusra front rebels they support and are even prepared to ease off on ISIS to that end:

RT: 

A new Islamic State attack on Palmyra from the Mosul region could be ‘orchestrated’ to divert the attention of Syrian government forces from Aleppo and spare the militants entrenched in the city, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

The fact that Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) militants launched their offensive on Palmyra from Iraq and “apparently from Mosul” and marched through the “territories patrolled by the aircraft of the US-led coalition makes one think that – and I really hope to be wrong here – that it was orchestrated and coordinated to give a respite to those thugs, who are entrenched in eastern Aleppo,” the foreign minister said during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, as he answered a question asked by RT. 

Lavrov went on to say that the US has been conducting a two-faced policy towards terrorist groups in Syria from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis. The US-led coalition is fighting Islamic State but is studiously avoiding targeting another terrorist group, which is Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, he said.

“There is a significant number of reasons to believe that [Al-Nusra] is being spared as the most effective combat-capable force, which opposes the governmental [forces] of the ground in order to be used for overthrowing the legitimate Syrian government when the time comes,” Lavrov told journalists. …..

That the US is – even now – focused on regime change in Syria and is trying to assist the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front is not at all illogical. The Obama/Kerry strategy in Syria and Iraq is a maze of inconsistencies and fundamentally flawed.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this Russian report held a great deal of truth.


 

The CIA has been producing fake news for a long time and can “get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl”

December 12, 2016

cia

It sounds like just another conspiracy theory. The Russians hacked the Democrats and the Republicans the story goes. They released selected material from the Democrats via Wikileaks but did not do the same with the Republican material. This was to help Trump win. This is an “assessment” by the CIA (and 16 other intelligence agencies). The FBI is not so certain in their assessments. Note however that it is not contested that the material released by Wikileaks was genuine. 

In the 1980s most of the Iran-Contra stories were planted by the CIA. One remembers of course how the same constellation of agencies, led by the CIA, concluded on the presence of Saddam Hussain’s WMD. Here they even invented evidence for Colin Powell to present to the UN and make an utter fool of himself. One notes also that these same intelligence agencies all missed 9/11 though they had links with Bin Laden. They also missed – or chose to miss – the rise of ISIS completely.

While the war of words continue about Russian hacking and the US Election, it is not fanciful to conclude that the CIA is “faking” news again. The CIA has and does spend a lot of effort on manipulating news not only abroad but also on US soil. Operation Mockingbird has now been well documented and was reported on by the US Congress in 1976.

Operation Mockingbird was a campaign by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to influence media during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Begun in the 1950s, it was initially organized by Cord Meyer and Allen W. Dulles, and was later led by Frank Wisner after Dulles became the head of the CIA. The organization recruited leading American journalists into a propaganda network to help present the CIA’s views. It funded some student and cultural organizations and magazines as fronts. As it developed, it also worked to influence foreign media and political campaigns, in addition to activities by other operating units of the CIA. The CIA’s use of journalists continued unabated until 1973, when the program was scaled back, finally coming to a halt in 1976 when George H.W. Bush took over as director.

In addition to earlier exposés of CIA activities in foreign affairs, in 1966, Ramparts magazine published an article revealing that the National Student Association was funded by the CIA. The United States Congress investigated the allegations and published a report in 1976. Other accounts were also published. The media operation was first called Mockingbird in Deborah Davis’s 1979 book, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and The Washington Post.

The CIA fake news activities never stopped. Even the Washington Post wrote 2 weeks ago. I particularly like the quote from a CIA operative that “you could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month”.

But – as we document below – the government and mainstream media are by far the biggest purveyors of fake news.

The Government’s Been Deploying Propaganda On U.S. Soil for Many Years

The United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities found in 1975 that the CIA submitted stories to the American press:

Wikipedia adds details:

After 1953, the network was overseen by Allen W. Dulles, director of the CIA. By this time, Operation Mockingbird had a major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies. The usual methodology was placing reports developed from intelligence provided by the CIA to witting or unwitting reporters. Those reports would then be repeated or cited by the preceding reporters which in turn would then be cited throughout the media wire services.

The Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was funded by siphoning off funds intended for the Marshall Plan [i.e. the rebuilding of Europe by the U.S. after WWII]. Some of this money was used to bribe journalists and publishers.

In 2008, the New York Times wrote:

During the early years of the cold war, [prominent writers and artists, from Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to Jackson Pollock] were supported, sometimes lavishly, always secretly, by the C.I.A. as part of its propaganda war against the Soviet Union. It was perhaps the most successful use of “soft power” in American history.

A CIA operative told Washington Post owner Philip Graham … in a conversation about the willingness of journalists to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories:

You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.

Famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein wrote in 1977:

More than 400 American journalists … in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters.

***

In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.

***

Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were [the heads of CBS, Time, the New York Times, the Louisville Courier‑Journal, and Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include [ABC, NBC, AP, UPI, Reuters], Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.

***

There is ample evidence that America’s leading publishers and news executives allowed themselves and their organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services. “Let’s not pick on some poor reporters, for God’s sake,” William Colby exclaimed at one point to the Church committee’s investigators. “Let’s go to the managements.

***

The CIA even ran a formal training program in the 1950s to teach its agents to be journalists. Intelligence officers were “taught to make noises like reporters,” explained a high CIA official, and were then placed in major news organizations with help from management.

***

Once a year during the 1950s and early 1960s, CBS correspondents joined the CIA hierarchy for private dinners and briefings.

***

Allen Dulles often interceded with his good friend, the late Henry Luce, founder of Timeand Life magazines, who readily allowed certain members of his staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic experience.

***

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Time magazine’s foreign correspondents attended CIA “briefing” dinners similar to those the CIA held for CBS.

***

When Newsweek was purchased by the Washington Post Company, publisher Philip L. Graham was informed by Agency officials that the CIA occasionally used the magazine for cover purposes, according to CIA sources. “It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from,” said a former deputy director of the Agency. “Frank Wisner dealt with him.” Wisner, deputy director of the CIA from 1950 until shortly before his suicide in 1965, was the Agency’s premier orchestrator of “black” operations, including many in which journalists were involved. Wisner liked to boast of his “mighty Wurlitzer,” a wondrous propaganda instrument he built, and played, with help from the press.)

***

In November 1973, after [the CIA claimed to have ended the program], Colby told reporters and editors from the New York Times and the Washington Star that the Agency had “some three dozen” American newsmen “on the CIA payroll,” including five who worked for “general‑circulation news organizations.” Yet even while the Senate Intelligence Committee was holding its hearings in 1976, according to high‑level CIA sources, the CIA continued to maintain ties with seventy‑five to ninety journalists of every description—executives, reporters, stringers, photographers, columnists, bureau clerks and members of broadcast technical crews. More than half of these had been moved off CIA contracts and payrolls but they were still bound by other secret agreements with the Agency. According to an unpublished report by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Representative Otis Pike, at least fifteen news organizations were still providing cover for CIA operatives as of 1976.

***

Those officials most knowledgeable about the subject say that a figure of 400 American journalists is on the low side ….

“There were a lot of representations that if this stuff got out some of the biggest names in journalism would get smeared” ….

An expert on propaganda testified under oath during trial that the CIA now employs THOUSANDS of reporters and OWNS its own media organizations. Whether or not his estimate is accurate, it is clear that many prominent reporters still report to the CIA.

A 4-part BBC documentary called the “Century of the Self” shows that an American – Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays – created the modern field of manipulation of public perceptions, and the U.S. government has extensively used his techniques.

The activity has continued under the Obama Administration and is clearly still ongoing.

And the government is treating the real investigative reporters like criminals … or even terrorists:

  • The government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws (and here). For example, after Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing aboutbad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge
  • In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of the bank’s wrongdoing, the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this)

Postscript: See this and this.


 

Trump’s choice for Energy Secretary will be a coal supporter

December 12, 2016

coal

It is reported that Donald Trump has a short-list of four for Energy Secretary. What seems clear is that whoever it is will be making coal jobs a priority. One of the four (Rick Perry) would be a fierce opponent of  all the fake science masquerading as “climate science”, while two (Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin) are coal protectors rather than climate change opponents. The fourth (Ray Washburne) has been involved primarily in economic and finance matters and has (for me) unknown positions about coal and AGW. But he is from Texas and is unlikely to ignore the bottom line (which is of no consequence for the AGW orthodoxy).

Bloomberg: Donald Trump has narrowed his search for energy secretary to four people, with former Texas Governor Rick Perry the leading candidate. People familiar with the president-elect’s selection process said two Democratic senators from energy-producing states — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — are also in the mix, along with Ray Washburne, a Dallas investor and former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

If Trump picks any of the four he’ll break with recent tradition of putting scientists at the top of the Energy Department. Among other things, the agency is responsible for policies on the safe handling of nuclear material and on emerging energy technologies.

A quick search gives the positions of the four on coal production and the global warming fantasy.

Rick PerryRick Perry said Wednesday morning that he does not believe in global warming science and suggested it is grounded in scientists manipulating data for financial gain. …….. Perry said scientists are coming forward almost daily to question “the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.” He said the climate is changing but that it has been changing “ever since the earth was formed.” ……….. Perry added that “the issue of global warming has been politicized,” and argued that America should not spend billions of dollars addressing “a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective is more and more being put into question.”

Rick Perry could be expected to be quite active in cleaning out the muck in the Department of Energy Climate Change stables.

Heidi Heitkamp: I applaud the President’s efforts to address climate change and its effects. …… However, several of the initiatives introduced today by the President, while not new, amplify the Administration’s continuing war on coal and coal-fired power. While the President claims to believe in an all-of-the-above energy policy, he consistently fails to step-forward and truly commit to such a policy. Instead the Administration continues developing regulations that do nothing more than choke off good-paying American jobs, and threatening millions of Americans with the loss of a reliable and affordable energy source. Instead of taking this route, we need to find a path forward for the coal industry and coal-fired power by encouraging continued investments in new and existing technologies to further reduce emissions through clean coal technology projects including commercially scalable carbon capture and sequestration. 

Heitkamp is only concerned about jobs and will subordinate her thinking to that end. Her apparent belief in carbon capture and sequestration though suggests that her logical thinking is a little suspect. To be kind, it may just be her attempt to save coal jobs and not any strong belief in nonsense technology which which has no real purpose and which has a fundamental “floor” energy cost which makes it meaningless.

Joe ManchinSenator Joe Manchin (D-WV) went on Fox News on Wednesday to slam President Obama’s renewed push to take action on climate change.However, returning to the refrain that Obama has declared a “war on coal” appears not to be enough this time. Now, the coal-backed senator has upgraded his rhetoric to a “war on America.”

STEVE DOOCY (HOST): The President of the United States declared a war on coal and a war on jobs and essentially a war on West Virginia.

MANCHIN: Well, really a war on America. When you look at it from that standpoint, 8 billion-tons of coal is being burned in the world as we speak. The United States of America consumes about one billion tons. Now, what’s going to happen to the other 7 billion-tons? What’s going to happen to the countries that are consuming and using 7 billion and it’s increasing rapidly? Nothing is being done there. We have done more to clean the environment than ever in the last two decades. And there is more that can be done.

Manchin, like Heitkamp, is primarily concerned about jobs in the coal industry. He has not dared, politically, to be heretical about global warming orthodoxy but has fought for coal jobs.

Ray WashburneMr. Ray W. Washburne has been the Chief Executive Officer of Charter Holdings since 1990 and its President. Mr. Washburne has been National Finance Chairman at Republican National Committee Inc., since February 2013. He is a Managing Partner at HP Village Partners Ltd., and served as Managing Director. He was the Chairman of Charter Holdings since 1990. He also serves on the board of directors for M Crowd Restaurant, which he co-founded in 1991. He serves as Director of Baylor Health Care System Foundation. He has been Director of Entrust Inc. since June 5, 2006. He has been an Independent Director of Veritex Holdings, Inc., since 2009 and serves as Director of Veritex Community Bank. Mr. Washburne is also a Director for Colonial Bank, Southern Methodist University-21st Century Council, and Dallas Citizens Council. He is an Adjunct Professor at SMU’s Cox School of Business and graduated from Southern Methodist University (“SMU”) in 1984.

It is not apparent that Washburne has any strong position on coal or energy or AGW. Nevertheless he can be expected to have a clear view of the bottom line and therefore, not a great supporter of subsidising non-commercial technologies for religious or ideological reasons.

If I had to bet, I would put a small amount of money on Rick Perry.


74 questions from the Trump transition team which are bothering the Department of Energy

December 10, 2016

Whatever one may think of Trump, his transition team’s questions for the Department of Energy are penetrating. They are causing some little worry among the adherents of the man-made global warming religion.

Willis Eschenbach has the list of questions and his comments over at WUWT.

doe-vs-ugly-reality

Man-made climate change (actually the lack of such), vast grants to companies which go bankrupt in the night, jaunts to resorts for climate meetings, prolonging nuclear power …. are all apparently within the sights of the transition team.

The questions and Willis Eschenbach’s comments are reproduced below

Questions for DOE

This memo, as you might expect, is replete with acronyms. “DOE” is the Department of Energy. Here are the memo questions and my comments.

1. Can you provide a list of all boards, councils, commissions, working groups, and FACAs [Federal Advisory Committees] currently active at the Department? For each, can you please provide members, meeting schedules, and authority (statutory or otherwise) under which they were created? 

If I were at DOE, this first question would indeed set MY hair on fire. The easiest way to get rid of something is to show that it was not properly established … boom, it’s gone. As a businessman myself, this question shows me that the incoming people know their business, and that the first order of business is to jettison the useless lumber.

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