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Examining Rick Perry’s and Rex Tillerson’s Potential Conflicts of Interest

A few things to know about Donald Trump’s picks for Energy secretary and Secretary of State.

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Former Texas Governor Rick Perry arrives at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty

Many eyebrows have been raised by President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of former Governor Rick Perry to serve as energy secretary. At a glance, it certainly looks like a curious appointment. Perry once promised to disband the U.S. Department of Energy, but not before forgetting the agency’s name in his infamous “oops” debate snafu. He has been out of politics for almost two years after suffering two failed presidential campaigns (in fact, he has most recently made headlines for his high-energy performances on Dancing With The Stars). And Perry, a guy who scored mostly C’s and D’s at Texas A&M, including a D in a mysteriously named “Meats” course, will be succeeding as energy secretary other men whose credentials include a Nobel Prize in physics and decades spent on the faculty at MIT.

But a closer look at Perry’s energy policy while he served as governor reveals a “nuanced” legacy, as the Texas Tribune notes, and Politico has reported that Perry isn’t such an unconventional pick despite his lack of educational background in science. Yet some critics argue that Perry could have potential conflicts of interest he would need to resolve should he be confirmed by the Senate.

The energy secretary’s role is, in part, shepherding the nation’s transition to clean energy (although, to be clear, at this point we have little idea of how the department might operate under Trump). According to the White House’s website, one of the department’s stated goals is that it “eliminates inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to address the threat of climate change.” With that in mind, Perry’s relationship to the oil and gas industry is worth examining.

Donors from the oil and gas industry contributed more than $11 million to Perry’s candidacies for governor and president. One of his most loyal donors has been Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which is the company behind the controversial North Dakota Access Pipeline. Just a month after Perry left the governor’s office in 2015, he joined the board of directors for Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiary, Sunoco Logistics Partners.

According to Energy Transfer Partners’s 2016 annual report, Perry owns $154,000 worth of partnership units in the company, in addition to being compensated $82,420 in cash in 2015 for his role on the board of directors. Perry remained on the board throughout his short-lived 2016 presidential campaign, even though many presidential candidates remove themselves from their private sector roles while running their campaigns (see, for example, Jeb Bush). As of publication, Perry was still listed on Energy Transfer Partners’s website as a member of the company’s board.

Perry’s 2015 presidential financial disclosure report reveals even more ties to oil and gas companies. Last year, his wife owned up to $15,000 in investments in Energy Transfer Partners as well as Sunoco Logistics, while Perry identified investments in QR Energy ($15,000-$50,000), Diamondback Energy ($15,000-$50,000), and Grey Rock Energy ($50,000-$100,000).

The report also shows Perry earned $250,000 “consulting” for Holt Cat, a San Antonio-based firm that sells and services equipment to companies in oil and gas, among other industries. The company is led by Peter Holt, whose family owns the San Antonio Spurs and has been a big donor to Perry throughout his political career. When Perry decided in 2013 to retire rather than run for re-election as governor, he made the announcement at Holt Cat. Both Holt and Warren served on Perry’s PAC’s eighty-member advisory committee during his most recent presidential campaign.

The oil and gas industry was pleased after Trump chose Perry to lead the Department of Energy, according to Reuters; others also cheered Trump’s Secretary of State nomination, Wichita Falls native Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, who was CEO of ExxonMobil up until his retirement last Wednesday.

But, as with Perry, the annoucement of Tillerson drew a chorus of concern over his potential conflicts of interest. Some pointed to Tillerson’s major financial investments in Exxon—to be specific, he owns about $218 million in stock and has a pension plan worth about $69.5 million, according to the Washington Post. Others focused on the ties he forged with foreign powers—particularly Russia—during his long career serving Exxon, which some fear could loom large over international policy decisions. The New Yorker’s Steve Coll, who published a book on ExxonMobil (2012’s Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power), wrote earlier this week that Tillerson’s success at the helm of Exxon was “attributable in part to the work he has done in Russia.” Coll wrote that if Tillerson is confirmed, “he would be in a position to benefit the corporation where he spent his career, by, for example, advocating for the easing of Russian sanctions.”

According to the Washington Post, Tillerson oversaw a project for Exxon on Russia’s Sakhalin island in the nineties, during which time he developed a “working relationship” with current Russian President Vladimir Putin, and, in 2011, Exxon signed a contract a Rosneft, a Moscow-run oil company, to work together in the oil-rich Arctic and Siberia regions. Writes the Post:

After inking the deal in New York, Tillerson and Rosneft chairman and Putin confidant Igor Sechin dined on caviar at the luxury Manhattan restaurant Per Se, according to one account. The next day, they gave oil analysts black pens with the date of the agreement engraved in gold.

Concerns of connections to Russia have been exacerbated by the fact that in 2013, Putin awarded Russia’s “Order of Friendship” prize to Tillerson. While the award’s name makes it sound like it goes to Putin’s best buds, it’s apparently not based purely on a contender’s friendship status with Putin—still, if you receive the honor, it’s safe to say that you’re on Putin’s good side.

In light of the recent revelations that the U.S. government is “confident” that Russia was involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic organizations, Putin’s good side is an interesting place for the potential future Secretary of State to be. Especially when one considers Exxon’s involvement with Russia in 2014, when President Barack Obama’s administration placed sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas industry in response to the country’s military aggressiveness in Ukraine and Crimea. At the time, Tillerson tried to convince the U.S. government to lift the sanctions, telling the New York Times that year that “our views are being heard at the highest levels.” Exxon was eventually told to to stop working with Rosneft in the Arctic. If the sanctions are lifted under Trump and Exxon can continue its work in Russia, Tillerson would stand to benefit, according to Politico.

As Coll notes, Tillerson has had no problem defying the U.S. government’s policies in foreign lands. For example, Tillerson broke with the U.S. State Department’s policy during Obama’s presidency, when Exxon made an oil deal on its own with the Kurdish Regional Government in Kurdistan without asking for permission from the national Iraqi government. Coll wrote that sources told him Tillerson was unapologetic afterwards while explaining his actions to State Department officials. “I had to do what was best for my shareholders,” Tillerson reportedly said.

Both Perry and Tillerson (but Tillerson in particular) could both face difficulties in being confirmed to their cabinet roles by the Senate. Republican Senator John McCain, from Arizona, has already expressed concern over Tilleron’s Russian ties, questioning Tillerson’s morality for accepting Putin’s friendship award and for opposing sanctions. Both Perry and Tillerson would also have to divest from their current conflicting financial holdings if they want to get past the Senate next year. Divesting would help to dispel some concerns, but even then, their complicated histories would be hard to ignore when they make policy decisions as members of Trump’s cabinet.

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  • José

    Why call it a “conflict” if it’s all part of the plan?

    • WUSRPH

      Reminds me of the story about the old state senator, allegedly from Pennsylvania, who when challenged for carrying a bill that put money into his pocket….responded…”Conflict of interest? What do you mean, conflict of interest? It don’t conflict with my interest.”

  • roadgeek

    Gasoline stays cheap, and my house stays warm. What’s not to like?

    • SpiritofPearl

      You are willing to sell your self respect for so little.

  • BCinBCS

    I expect Tillerson, and possibly Perry, to divest their holdings just as rigorously as will Comrade Trump.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Their allegiance is to Putin and
      Exxon shareholders, not America.

  • WUSRPH

    I am not so concerned by Tillerson’s stock holdings….he will get by that barrier with a blind trust or take advantage of the special law that allows cabinet appointees to sell off their holdings and pay only a 10% tax rate—-but by his attitudes.. JJ often screams about American-based corporations not feeling any responsibility to this country and in Tillerson’s case he may have a point. Here we have an executive of an American global company who saw no problem in opposing his country’s call for sanctions on his Russian pals because of Russia’s invasion of the Crimea and its stirring up a war in the eastern Ukraine and now that man is being nominated to be the Secretary of State! What standards will he call for dealing with future Russian or other’s nations violations of international law? America is supposed to stand for more than a bottom line on a income statement.

  • donuthin2

    Well the Trumpers and Trumpettes will not see anything wrong with it since they are bidnessmen.

  • WUSRPH

    See that Trump team is talking to former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, whose revenue estimates were almost always wrong……Maybe they are looking for someone to make the cost estimates for his spending and tax bills not look so bad….

    • donuthin2

      For what? She would fit right in with Trump and Perry. She has no knowledge of much of anything, no principle, no real vision and has no clue.

      • WUSRPH

        Texas Tribune has both Combs and Sid Miller on the list for Sec. of Agriculture….Two of Texas’ worst.

        • BCinBCS

          April 1st is more than three months away, shame on you.

        • John Johnson

          Agree.

  • Rules of Blazon

    Donald Trumpski is a white supremacist and a Russian puppet. So is Rick Perry and so is Tillerson. Disgusting, pathetic disgraces to the State of Texas.

    • GOPnProud

      If my history serves me, this states wealth has been largely amassed by the oil and gas sector. Any appointments to his cabinet that will further oil and gas development in Texas should be applauded. If that offends your self righteous green ideology, please start a go fund me for your cost of moving to New York or California. Your views will be welcome as will your tax dollars. There anti oil views have helped to perpetuate their insolvency.

      • Rules of Blazon

        Oh, honey chile. May God have mercy on your bigot soul.

      • SpiritofPearl

        Consider

  • WUSRPH

    Interesting columns lately about how Trump is trying to emulate Richard Nixon’s “Mad Man” diplomatic tactic in which Nixon tried to make the North Vietnamese think he had gone over the edge and was so dangerous they needed to agree to his terms or possibly be nuked. It didn’t really work for Nixon…but there is one major difference between Nixon and Trump—-Nixon was at least partially sane.

  • John Bernard Books

    When the chickens come home to roost…
    First, Hillary Clinton was a poor overall candidate,
    Second, for all the talk over the past year about the GOP allegedly dying, the Democrats’ civil war wreaked havoc on the party’s messaging. Hillary Clinton, in my opinion, has few core principles,
    Third, Democrats hadn’t spent much time working on their “bench” of young politicians since George W. Bush was president.
    And fourth, the backlash against political correctness and perceived liberal smugness hit Democrats hard.
    https://www.quora.com/Why-did-the-Democrats-fail-so-badly-in-the-November-2016-elections/answer/Ty-Doyle?ref=fb

    The question is can the dems recover from Obama and Hillary?

  • WUSRPH

    Populism. Populist. Will of the People……

    We have heard those words a lot during 2016, sometimes even used to incorrectly describe Donald Trump. Some of us have struggled with trying to explain the meaning of the terms with little success. Now, we have a good definition and description (and explanation of the danger of the concept) from The Economist.

    http://tinyurl.com/j9acvsq

  • WUSRPH

    As noted earlier, Trump has been making a number of gestures that suggest that he is considering changing long-standing US policy on the issue of the status of Israel and the Palestinians. He has suggested moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, a long-sought goal of Israel and something called for by a US law for about 20 years. He has also picked as his ambassador to Israel a strong supporter of the building of settlements
    on the West Bank and an opponent of the “two-state” policy which calls for the eventual creation of a separate Palestinian state on the West Bank and in Gaza. Both actions are likely to give real offense to the Palestinian and, thus, some would oppose them. BUT, maybe Trump has a point. Maybe it is time to try something new. After all, it is now more than 49 years since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War during which Israel seized the West Bank after battling with all its Arab neighbors for at least the third time….It has also been more than 36 years since Egypt and Israel reached a peace agreement as well as more than 16 years since President Clinton as he was leaving office tried to convince the Palestinians and Israelis to reach an agreement. AND what has changed?

    I don’t intend to get into the question of who is right and who is wrong…or who has been right at this time and wrong at that time…..We allknow the tragic history of the conflict. And, we all know that there is no question that Israel MUST BE PRESERVED. I doubt Trump’s imitative—if that is what he has in mind—will be successful…but maybe he has a point….Maybe the Palestinians have to be forced to face a new reality before they will finally agree. Maybe we need to give his effort time to work before condemning it. I can only hope for the best.

    • WUSRPH

      Another view of where Trump’s choice of the ambassador to Israel is leading.

      http://tinyurl.com/jk8sndo

      • SpiritofPearl

        Not

        • WUSRPH

          The Israeli-Palestinian dispute has been overshadowed for years now by events in the rest of the Middle East and North Africa……but it continues to simmer. I question the wisdom of stirring it up now, but it is clear that Trump is doing just that. Why he’d do this while the rest of the Middle East is still such a mess I cannot fathom.
          What I said yesterday was, in effect, that it might amount to some sort of shock treatment aimed at getting things moving again……..but that may be giving Trump (his advisors) more credit for having a plan….It could well be, as you suggest, that he is making it up as he goes along.

          However, if I were the Palestinians and Israel’s other neighbors and I saw that Trump (and Israel) might be planning to just implement their solution without any agreement with them, I might be more willing to do some serious negotiating. That could be what his advisors are thinking, but who really knows. You have to hope for the best.

          • BCinBCS

            Or it could lead to another round of Palestinian bombings, knifings, suicide attacks and missile attacks.

          • WUSRPH

            That is my fear….total frustration can yield to some violent response. .but there is always the possibility that it what is desired….That would give us more “cause” to support Israel taking tougher steps and officially annexing more of the West Bank. He’s now trying to get the Obama Administration to veto the UN resolution on the West Bank settlements…..when it is considering abstaining….

          • WUSRPH

            On the West Bank question I noted that Ted Cruz has apparently turned himself into an international law specialist as today, in attacking the proposed UN resolution condemning further settlements on the West Bank, he referred to the area as being part of Israel’s “sovereign territory”. I assume he means that after 49 years of occupying it, Israel has taken title by right of conquest. No American president has ever recognized Israeli sovereignty over any of the lands it seized from Jordan in 1967. Does Cruz know something about Trump’s plans?

          • WUSRPH

            The UN Security Council approved a resolution today condemning any FUTURE Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The US abstained, allowing it to pass. We could have vetoed it… but it is possible that we, like the rest of the Council, wanted to send a message to the Israeli’s that building more makes it harder and harder to create a Palestinian state. Trump objected.

  • WUSRPH

    “With the presidential election results now certified in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Hillary Clinton won a total of 65,844,610 votes ― 48.2 percent ― compared with Trump’s 62,979,636 votes ― 46.1 percent ― according to David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Other candidates took 7,804,213 ballots, or about 5.7 percent of the popular vote.”

    (Thanks to the Huffington-Post)

  • WUSRPH

    What is this about the GOP in the Senate NOT going to make Tillerson give them his IRS forms (even in private)?….I guess Trump has established a new norm…..

    • SpiritofPearl

      The vultures are moving into the WH.

      • John Johnson

        An the inept are leaving.

        • WUSRPH

          All of those left at the beginning of 2009.

  • John Johnson

    Ever since GWB introduced the goofy Enron electricity deregulation deal to Perry when he was Lt. Gov, he has been a puppet of Big Oil, Gas and Utilities. He loaded up our PUC with nodding heads like Smitherman, who had no knowledge of the business nor the groups they were supposed to be controlling. The Public Utility Commission became the Utility’s Utility Commission.

    If you remember back in 2007, the Barnett Shale discovery hadn’t happened yet. The state had two nuclear power plants and umpteen coal fired plants, with the coal coming from Fairfield TX area stirip mining, that was producing electricity at about 3 cents per kWh…but natural gas was considered the “marginal fuel”…which, even though in short demand, was allowed to be used as the fuel that generating plants were allowed to charge all generating costs against.

    Even though maybe a half of TXU’s cost to produce was 3 cents, our PUC allowed them to charge all of their production at whatever it cost to produce a KWh using natural gas. They were getting filthy rich…except that TXU decided to go to other places in this new world market, and lost their ass in Australia.

    They then put themselves up for sale, and the most horrendous screwing of the average Texan, perpetrated Big Money, and the bought votes by those we elected to serve us, took place.

    TXU lined up the private equity firm of KKG to buy them out at at record $45B. Natural gas was in short supply, and with the natural gas marginal fuel standards in place, as the cost of NG went up, KKG realized that they could still produce a massive % of the elec they produced at 3 cents, but charge it all to us at the ever increasing cost of short supply NG.

    TXU, KKG, the buyout company, and Center Point, the other only mega electricity producer in the state, spent a reported $13M lobbying literally everyone holding office in state government. We had Jim Baker, GWB’s ex chief of staff, and Mr. Ogden, a longtime millionaire Waco Dem contributor, all listed as investors in the KKR buyout of TXU, lobbying state legislators, too.

    They bought the votes they needed.

    Those invested in the KKR buyout lost their ass. The Barnett Shale NG
    discovery drove the price of NG so low that KKG (Future Energy Partners) declared bankruptcy…and now…we Texas consumers are paying more for a KWh of electricity than people in Oklahoma are paying. They have neither the coal or a nuclear power plant to supply their electricity needs…nor the now wind energy we now gather. Why are we paying more?

    As I have said before…Rick Perry did nothing more for Texas than a chimpanzee in a black suit and boots would have done for our state.

    • WUSRPH

      The man has spent a life-time working to advance the interests of just the kind of global corporation that you repeatedly condemn for having no feeling of responsibility to the US……but now he’s your great miracle man? His view of the world and the way businesses operate in it and should operate is totally different than yours. Why would you expect him to change his views over night? Do you think he thought he was wrong all those years? Or do you truly believe that no one has any kind of ideology and that they can shed their views overnight like a snake sheds its skin?

      • John Johnson

        I think that except naming people to slots, he has not made one move as President. I am going to wait and see.

        • WUSRPH

          You, of course, are technically right that he has done nothing official since he is not yet president. BUT he has made several major moves as President-elect, including, as I have noted on the prior thread, dropped repeated hints of a major change in US policy on Israel and the West Bank. He has also severely irritated China…..both of which could have serious impact on the world if he follows thru as president.

          On the West Bank question I noted that Ted Cruz has apparently turned himself into an international law specialist as today, in attacking the proposed UN resolution condemning further settlements on the West Bank, he referred to the area as being part of Israel’s “sovereign territory”. I assume he means that after 49 years of occupying it, Israel has taken title by right of conquest. No American president has ever recognized Israeli sovereignty over any of the lands it seized from Jordan in 1967. Does Cruz know something about Trump’s plans?

          • John Johnson

            He appoints people who knows what is going on. If I wanted to know the inter workings of Wall Street would I appoint Warren or a WS guru? If I wanted to “negotiate change” with WS instead of pounding something down their throats, would I send a friend or someone like Warren?

            As far as Cruz goes, he is a constitutional lawyer, who has an ego larger than Trump’s. He will continue to spout proclaimations that are his own, and no one else’s.

            With regards to China and Israel, Trump has fired shots across the bows of several nations. I, personally, like it. As the strongest nation in the world, we need to get back to acting like we are.

          • WUSRPH

            Shots across the bow” may be what he is doing with China……but his moves on Israel
            indicate a total rewriting of what has been American policy since the founding of Israel and threatens to undermine our relationships with every other country in the region. Assuming, that is, that he understands what he is doing….which is doubtful.

            As to Cruz’s knowledge of the Constitution….he may have read all the cases and the commentaries…but his understanding predates McCulloch v. Maryland of 1819. His views reverse virtually every decision since then.

          • John Johnson

            You are a historian, and I have never poo-poo’d your obvious knowledge as a very good, and astute one. Israel belonged to the Israelites. They went back and took over the land of their ancestors. They have expanded on it by force. The land belongs to them; the OT is clear on this. The Palestinians are squatters. They have no ancient homeland. True or false? I have no dog in this fight, but I support the Israelites.

          • WUSRPH

            Religious people may justify the Israeli claim to all of the land it now occupies (and more) on the grant of it by God…..but that is theology….not legality….You could make the same case of people being forced out of their land by others (nearly 2000 years ago) of having a right to go back and conquer it for hundreds if not thousands of ethnic and national groups including the American Indians (who you call Native Americans). Do you consider yourself a “squatter” on their land since this was clearly not your “ancient homeland”?

            The ancestors of the Palestinians occupied the same region at the same time as the ancient Kingdom of Israel….In fact, many of them were probably there before Abraham came from the East to settle there…and certainly before Moses led the people of Israel back to the “promised land” (assuming that the biblical stories are historic).

            Let me make it clear. I support the existence of Israel. ….Although I generally do not favor the idea of a religious-based nation,.I also support it as a HOMELAND for the Jews in light of the long, tragic story of their persecution…. BUT I do not support its “right” to expel people who have lived on the land for at least 2000 years (assuming that they came in after the Roman’s crushed the Israeli state in 70 AD)…..I support it on DEFENSIBLE lands, which may mean more than the boundaries it obtained after the original Arab-Israeli War of 1948 including some of the West Bank but I also favor the rights of the people of Palestine to a State of their own.

          • John Johnson

            Damn…you make my point for me. The OT predicts how all this is going to come down. I believe in OT prognostications. Does you knowledge of history take the OT in consideration? Does the “creep” factor of these ancient predictions have any bearing on your posts? Where it starts; what causes it; what brings on Armageddon?

          • WUSRPH

            I take the “predictions” and “prophecies” of the Old Testament into consideration as far as they affect the way people view events and history. This does not mean, however, that I take them as being literal…..any more than I take the prophecies of the Ancient Mayans as being true. In both cases, the fact that some believe them may influence how they act, which gives the prophecies strength whether they be true or not. For example, some extreme fundamentalist Christians back Israel BECAUSE they believe the bible tells them that the Jewish Kingdom must be recreated before the end of the world and Jesus coming back. This shapes their politics…which shape policies and events and perhaps eventually history.
            Prophecies generally are written in such broad terms that, if you try hard enough you can make them fit almost any circumstances.

          • John Johnson

            I take OT predictions, as a Christian, seriously, as opposed to the Mayans. How many of the Mayan’s have come to pass?

          • WUSRPH

            I don’t know….you would have to ask a Mayan who still practices the ancient faith and is familiar with what their prophecies actually were.

            There was a lot of hullaballoo about the Mayan end of the cycle a few years ago and it meaning the end of our world…..but, I noticed that those most concerned seemed to be non-Mayans. They were interpreting something from a culture and time they did not understand. Few Mayans seemed to be that concerned as they had a better understanding of what it really meant. We may have a similar problem with some see as prophecies in the Bible.

            …..The problem may be that, like much of St. John, we don’t know how to interpret what is being said….In much of the Apocalypse he is apparently talking about the Roman Empire of his period (using code words for its identity) and we try to make what it says fit a totally different time period.

          • BCinBCS

            At least one Old Testament prophecy has come true:

            Gay marriage and marijuana are now both being legalized at the same time. Leviticus 20:13 says if a man lays with another man, he should be stoned.

            Just saying…

          • WUSRPH

            BAD, BAD, BAD!

          • BCinBCS

            sorry

          • WUSRPH

            No you’re not.

          • BCinBCS

            true

          • WUSRPH

            Now Trump says he will negotiate an agreement between Israel and the Arabs “We will get it done.” Better men then Trump have tried. But, of course, they were trying to negotiate a deal that both sides could live with. Trump won’t have to do that if he follows the advice of his ambassador-pick who opposes all the conditions the others have been trying to implement, including a two-state solution.

          • John Johnson

            You mean like a deal “they can’t refuse”?

          • WUSRPH

            Trump—and his advisers—-may believe that the weakened condition of the Arab States that
            have traditionally supported the Palestinians means that he can impose conditions
            now which would not have been possible in the past They may feel that, with Syria and Iraq torn apart and likely to stay that way for years to come and Saudi Arabia struggling
            with the impact of low oil prices on its economic and political stability, the Palestinians
            are now longer in a positon to be able to reject terms they may be offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The result could be “a solution” but it would be one far from what has been the goal of prior American governments.

          • BCinBCS

            And W, that sort of a “solution” forced upon the Palestinians might be all that is needed to unite the Sunni’s and Shia’s against a common enemy.

          • WUSRPH

            I doubt it would have that great of an impact. The distance between them is too great. What could make it an even worse situation—and international Muslim reaction—would be if Trump is stupid enough to screw-up the way the status of Jerusalem is decided. Making the City entirely Jewish, without some sort of a special protection for the Christian and Muslim holy sites, would be the worst possible result. A split city with the non-Jewish part under international supervision would be about the most that could probably be accepted by much of the rest of the world.

          • WUSRPH

            The Washington Post has a good article on the problem of the status of Jerusalem

            http://tinyurl.com/zfp7hg5

            .
            It suggests that Trump, the real estate salesman, thinks he can overcome Muslim and Christian objectives to making the entire city the Jewish capitol by offering some sort of financial incentives. He clearly does not understand the power of faith and religion and assumes everything can be bought if the price is right.

        • BCinBCS

          wait and see

          This from BuzzFeed:

          As Donald Trump prepares to assume the presidency after campaigning to restore American jobs, a Virginia winery owned by his son, Eric Trump, has applied for permission to import more foreign workers to prune grapevines.

          On Wednesday, the Department of Labor posted a petition from Trump Winery, also known as Trump Vineyard Estates, asking to bring in six vineyard workers under the federal H-2 visa program, which permits US employers to bring in foreign laborers on temporary work visas. Since 2003, more than 100,000 foreigners have been brought in under the program each year.

          Combined with this latest request, companies owned by Trump or bearing his name have sought permission from the Department of Labor to hire at least 263 foreign guest workers since he launched his presidential campaign. Many work as servers and house cleaners at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate.

          https://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicagarrison/trump-vineyards-seeks-more-foreign-workers?utm_term=.wxgLRRdkB#.pgPnPPABd

          As someone commented: “Why it’s almost as if Donald Trump lied to the American public in order to take power!”

    • WUSRPH

      Do you mean Lyndon Olson of Waco….former US Ambassador to Sweden, former member of he Texas House, co-author of the bill creating the PUC in the first place. Now chairman of the board of Hill & Knowlton and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet? I used to share space in a Capitol office suite with him.

  • BCinBCS

    Rick Perry and Rex Tillerson.

    And now, along comes Mick Mulvaney.

    “Who’s Mick Mulvaney”, you ask? Well, he’s the ultra-conservative South Carolina congressman that Comrade Trump is appointing as his budget director. In July, he spoke to a chapter of the John Birch Society lambasting the Federal Reserve, saying its actions have “effectively devalued the dollar” and “choke[d] off economic growth.”

    “Beyond his like of the paranoid John Birch Society and his dislike of the Federal Reserve what could possibly be wrong with his appointment” you ask snarkily?
    Oh nothing except that he also believes that the federal government should not be involved in spending money on scientific research, especially to combat the Zika virus.

    (Here’s hoping that he contracts a disease that could have been curable if only the research had been done.)

    http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/trumps-pick-budget-director-isnt-sure-government-should-fund-scientific-research
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/trump-mulvaney-john-birch-society

    • John Johnson

      Ad hominem attacks are verboten, but wishing an incurable disease on someone is OK. You are such a hypocritical loon.

      • BCinBCS

        That’s a false equivalency, JJ.
        Which is worse – for me to wish an incurable disease on someone or for Mulvaney to actually allow someone to die from an incurable disease?

        • John Johnson

          I am not morally qualified to respond.

  • Fantasy Maker

    Day #44 of liberal butt hurt as the Trump inauguration approaches.

  • WUSRPH

    He is one for JJ and the other Trumpartians who thought he meant what he said….No more “draining the swamp”….or most of the other things they wanted…..The National Review takes a look at how “Trump has already abandoned his Movement”.

    http://tinyurl.com/j9zfqtj

    • dave in texas

      He’s not draining the swamp, he’s stocking it with alligators.

  • WUSRPH

    And now add Carl Icahn as a “special advisor”… American’s number one corporate raider……Wasn’t Goldman Sachs enough! HIs non-paid status will exempt him from all disclosures of his numerous conflicts of interest in the “regulatory reforms” he will recommend.

  • WUSRPH

    Saw a great idea on the Huffington-Post. It suggested that instead of building Trump’s Wall as a regular wall that it should bemade out of solar energy collectors. Think of the power it could generate. Not only is it the perfect climate but, although those suggesting it probably don’t realize it, the heat generated would probably keep any aliens from crossing the border. We could take one of Trump’s demagogic suggestions and make something useful out of it.

    • BCinBCS

      And a note from the science wing, as of this year, solar panels are now a cheaper source of energy production than wind turbines.

    • John Johnson

      I like it…but what do big rocks do to solar panels?

      • BCinBCS

        Read the article and you will see why it shouldn’t be a problem.

        • John Johnson
          • BCinBCS

            The WaPo article reports a worsening of the phenomena that has begum to occur due to global warming – extreme weather variability and extreme weather.

            As I stated in other blog posts, many of the effects of global warming result in positive feedback loops. The Arctic is one area in which this occurs. Warming world temperatures melt more arctic ice, exposing the darker land and water beneath. Because there is less white snow and ice to reflect sunlight, the darker under layer heats up more causing warmer surface temperatures that melt more ice and snow, exposing more darker land and water that absorbs more sunlight… A positive feedback loop.

            The article, however, introduces another variable in the warming, Arctic jet stream alteration. Because of the warmth, the polar jet stream, which controls Arctic macro-weather, changes from a laminar zonal flow (a smooth east to west flow of upper air) that normally traps cold air in the Arctic to a turbulent flow (upper air flow with dips and ridges – like the rise and fall of a roller coaster track). These dips pull cold Arctic air down into the lower continents as Siberia and the American north-east have experienced this year. The ridges allow warmer southern air to move northward into the Arctic region heating the area, melting more ice and snow, exposing more darker land and sea and increasing even more the positive feedback loop. That is what the article is about.

            CO2 and methane are the two principal compounds causing global warming. Chloro- and fluro-carbons (like some kinds of freon) are the principal destroyers of the ozone layer resulting in an increase in ultra-violet radiation reaching the earth. They are two separate phenomena.

          • John Johnson

            Oh…I know these are two separate phenomenon. Just wanted to make sure you did. Killing all the livestock mammals, doing away with coal and other burned hydrocarbons do what in terms of making a difference? Isn’t this the big question?

          • WUSRPH

            To throw another wrench into your mental processes……some theories of the cause of the
            so-called “Little Ice Age” (1300 AD to 1850) which was a period of colder temperatures in Europe attribute it to a WARMER ARTIC and more water coming out of the artic from melting ice. Think about that one for awhile…..and see if you can come up with an explanation….

          • BCinBCS

            JJ, I was sitting on my front porch at one in the morning watching the dog run around (the same dog that woke me up at one o’clock in the morning) when the ultimate defense of global warming hit me.

            You and others oppose global warming because of its effects on jobs and the costs to businesses to comply with its regulations. I understand this and see why it is a concern. But from your side of the argument that opposes this, why do you think that those who want to limit global warming have that opinion? Do you think that they are making up global warming simply to have something to do?

            I anticipate that you are going to say that we are right to work against global warming but that we are simply misinterpreting natural cycles for a man-made consequence. Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I would reply: so? If having a hurricane is a natural, expected event, shouldn’t we still prepare for it and try to mitigate its impact? Shouldn’t we alter our living patterns to prepare against droughts by not wasting water and by building dams to produce reservoirs? Why would we not try to mitigate the huge negative impact that global warming is and will cause whether it is a natural or an anthropomorphic event? And if we should mitigate its negative impacts then why are you and others opposed to doing so?

          • WUSRPH

            It all comes down to the basic question they refuse to answer:
            What if you are wrong?

          • John Johnson

            I am not opposed to change. Never have been. I’m opposed to stupid change like ethanol and electric cars and the Solyndra’s. I am opposed to unfair carbon tax credit levies. I can’t understand why 18 wheelers are running on natural gas. I can’t understand why we are still buying oil from foreign sources.

          • BCinBCS

            Here is a graph of global temperatures from 1860 to 2000. Note the dramatic temperature change rise that began shortly after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution that occurred, especially in Great Britain and the United States, in the late 19th century.
            .
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fbadeac9565f05736e5cc57162098ae342db345c16381c53adc21a129a39cec7.jpg

          • John Johnson
          • WUSRPH

            Speaking of government paid for research and incentives: Any idea who it was that paid for the research that make fracking practical? George Mitchell of Mitchell Petroleum gets the credit for promoting it…but it was perfected by that federal agency that Rick wants to abolish but is now going to head, the US Dept. of Energy. The same kinds of benefits came from numerous other federally-funded research……research that has been responsible for most of the new products and innovations for the past 70 years or more.

          • John Johnson

            Yeah, I know. The government has no business in funding private enterprise with our tax dollars…and no right to.

          • BCinBCS

            So, no money for roads, the space program, military equipment and the hundreds of thousands of other things that the government purchases through private companies?

          • John Johnson

            Quit playing that goofy game of yours. Tell me what the gov’s contracting to have roads built, and purchasing manufactured goods from privately owned companies has to do with the gov’s paying a producer a subsidy on a product that they will never take ownership of? Often, you are downright obtuse in every sense of the world…like now.

          • BCinBCS

            Well, if you would think analytically you would see that the government makes all sorts of decisions that affect businesses. Those decisions lead to a goal, be it purchasing a needed widget or providing a needed service.

            Governments also have a responsibility to the people to do more than function properly and provide services. Sometimes, due to economic or other factors, they must step in to correct a problem or to steer the ship of state toward a specific goal.

            In the case of Solyndra, the goal was to stimulate the economy in order to get it out of the worst recession in the history of the nation. They could have done that by dropping money from airplanes for people to retrieve and spend or they could use the same money to be also on projects that would have long term benefits to the country and the environment. They chose the latter method and although it did not work, in that one case, it was no worse than dropping the money from the sky.

          • John Johnson

            Analytical thinking? Your explanation of how government works and is supposed to work is maybe the worst example of analytical thinking I have seen. It is totally goofy. Stick to microbiology.

            Solyndra was a total boondoggle. People walked away with taxpayer money. It was doomed to failure from the start. It was cronyism at its finest. You defend the indefensible.

            You can keep digging a deeper hole on this subject if you want to, but I am through responding to the absurd.

          • BCinBCS

            No one is trying to defend the Solyndra failure. What is being defended is not shutting down all government subsidies due to the failure of one of them.

          • John Johnson

            It is not a role of the Fed gov to dole out subsidies. If they want to buy hardware, tanks, ships, planes, batteries, or build roads there is a bidding process. Subsidies are straight money give-a-ways where the government never takes ownership of what the money is allotted for. It is a gift of taxpayer money by the gov to those it seems worthy. Those lobbying the longest and hardest for it through quid pro quo deals get the cash. Mr/Ms elected official, I give you money; you give me your vote to get me what I want; you, in turn, will be expected to go promise your vote to your colleagues, in return for theirs when they have something their money backers are pushing them to get passed. It is a stinky process that could be eradicated, if we removed allowing taxpayer money at the Fed level to be used for all the crazy things Sen Tom Coburn outlined for so many years. We are an ignorant lot.

          • BCinBCS

            My god, you don’t even try to hide your conformation bias.

            If you still believe that the world is flat and that the moon landing took place on a movie lot in Hollywood and that every action that the government takes is for the enrichment of a politician or a political party then you are well past my efforts to inform.

            Go be ignorant by yourself.

          • John Johnson

            Hahaha. Do all one dimensional lab rats think like you? Have you ever learned anything from personal experience as opposed to reading about and learning from others’ personal experiences? I’ll take my life over yours any day. You don’t know what you’ve missed.

          • BCinBCS

            You don’t know a damned thing about me. I’ve experienced as much or more of life as you and on top of that I have accumulated an extensive education. You show your hand when you think that someone who continues his education through extensive reading is a lesser person.

          • John Johnson

            Hahaha. You are just a big blowhard with an elevated sense of self. It is difficult to feel fulfilled when your work is controlled by the dictates of others. It causes many to feel a need to embellish and boast.

          • BCinBCS

            You are an ignorant fool who constantly uses incorrect information to justify your personal and selfish erroneous beliefs.
            (See, I can attack too.)

          • BCinBCS

            You linked to an article by Craig Loehle who, according to DESMOG (and other sources) is “the principal scientist with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, which was established in 1943 by the pulp and paper industry to “provide technical assistance for the industry’s goal of lowering the ecological impact of its spent pulping liquors.”

            His paper has been debated and widely criticized by the climate community. They essentially claim that he used an extremely simple model to match current climate data and then projected that data forward and backward giving the results that are contrary to what more sophisticated models give.

            The error of this simple model has been demonstrated by projecting it farther into the past to determine how well it corresponds with known climate data. Unfortunately, due to its lack of sufficient inputs, it varies widely demonstrating its failure as an accurate climate model.

            A much more detailed explanation of its testing can be found here:
            https://skepticalscience.com/loehle-scafetta-60-year-cycle.htm

            I spent quite a bit of time researching this in the hope that it would make a difference in your attitude toward climate change but I do not believe that overwhelming facts will change your mind. I expect you to continue to grasp at any contrarian straw of an idea, no matter how weak, to justify your opinion.

          • BCinBCS

            JJ opined: “I’m opposed to stupid change like…”

            “ethanol”
            JJ, when ethanol subsidies and use requirements were established, the cost of oil was high and its availability was low – it was a wise decision, at the time. Unfortunately, farmers, some of the most conservative and anti-government people in the United States fight hard to retain their subsidies never realizing that they are the rural welfare queens.

            “electric cars”
            Tesla and Prius owners would rate your opposition as unfounded. They would be joined by Toyota, BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes, Kia, Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Volkswagon and about a dozen other electric car manufacturers. Conservatives hate for things to change but change, even with cars, is inevitable.

            “Solyndra”
            Mistakes were made with Solyndra but they were not mistakes of investing in new technology or green manufacturing. Solyndra failed for multiple reasons, some of which should have been apparent to those in government who were doing due diligence.

            The reason that the government invested in Solyndra was that they developed a method of manufacturing solar collectors that did not utilize polysilicone as did most other collector manufacturers. At the time, Polysilicone was selling for over $180 per pound but when it failed, polysilicone was selling for less than $23 per pound. This price drop plus Cineses dumping plus Solyndra’s inability to sell in volume were the major reasons that the company failed.

            JJ, if you take the government out of research funding (as Trump has promised to do) and eliminate tax advantages to new technology, most progress will grind to a halt and the consumer market will be flooded with b0ner pills but you, your family and other Americans will be dying from preventable diseases and curable conditions.

          • John Johnson

            You know nothing about ethanol as your goofy comments attest. What you do know about is government subsidies. I don’t want anyone taxing me and giving it away to someone else to make a product that causes my vehicle to lose mpg while using hydrocarbons to produce which makes the program a total boondoggle….not to mention what it did to the price of food and feed.

          • BCinBCS

            Please point out the exact comment(s) that, in your opinion, is “goofy” and the facts that support your opinion.

          • John Johnson

            It takes more energy to produce than it delivers as a fuel. Costs went up at the pump and not down; food costs skyrocketed. It was Bush’s Solyndra, except we are still subsidizing wealthy corn growers and ethanol plant owners. You attempt to defend the indefensible.

            You whiners can keep pounding on pushing subsidized energy on us, but until these “cleaner” energy sources can carry their own load and compete fairly against natural gas and cleaner means of burning it, they are doomed for failure. The world’s ever growing fields of NG do not bode well for alternative energy, however much you try and wish it so.

          • BCinBCS

            (1) Ethanol has a positive energy balance i.e. it produces more energy than it takes to make it. The Oxford Journal BioScience has an extensive scholarly paper on all aspects of ethanol. It shows that in the U.S., ethanol has an energy balance at the worst of 1.03 and at its best 1.12 (in Brazil, their process has worst/best energy balances of 3.14 and 3.87).

            (2) Costs vary considerably at the pump but the largest price determinant, by far, is the price of the gasoline.

            (3) Some food prices have gone up, most notably those of animal protein (beef, chicken & pork) due to increased costs of the corn in their feed. Many ranchers have converted to other grains such as milo as a substitute, however.

            (4) As I mentioned in a previous post, farmers as a whole vote for the conservative candidate who wants to limit social programs that benefit mostly the urban poor (by population) as they feel that this group is able bodied and should not be receiving government assistance. In the meantime, they represent one of the largest recipient groups of government subsidies making them rural welfare queens.

          • John Johnson

            1. Back when 10% ethanol blend had reached the Metroplex, but not central Texas stations, I did my own studies on the efficiencies of one against the other. I repeatedly got two to three more miles per gallon from straight gasoline.

            2. How can you even compare costs when the price of ethanol is subsidized? Remove the subsidies and let the market determine whether it works or not and we would never see it.

            3. Study up on how many average day things contain corn derivatives. All went up, and I lost business because of it. Did you lose anything? Miss a paycheck?

            4. Subsidies are subsidies, and the government has no business giving away tax dollars to private businesses.

            5. All a crock. We don’t need to import anything.

          • BCinBCS

            (1) Yes, that is correct. Gasoline has a greater energy density than ethanol. No one has ever claimed differently.

            (2) I don’t know how you can compare gasoline costs since petroleum is subsidized.

            The primary reason that ethanol is such a good additive to gasoline is that it is an oxidizer. To be the most efficient, gasoline needs oxidizers – either alcohols or esters. In the past an ester, MTBE (methyl-tert-butyl ether) was added but it has been banned due to its contamination of ground water. Ethyl alcohol has replaced it. If we did not use ethanol, we would have to use some other alcohol or ester.

            (3) So you are saying that the government should make policy decisions based solely on how those decisions affect you?

            (4) Have you seen the tax code? It is nothing but subsidies in one form or another. (The government even subsidizes having kids.)

            (5) I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you meant that “We don’t need to import anything crude oil” – although I don’t believe even that is correct.

  • John Johnson
  • WUSRPH

    Let’s see if I understand this one: We start a new arms race with the Russians spending billions (more likely trillions) to add to our nuclear arsenal and delivery systems and encourage other nations (Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and who else) to get their own so that the world will begin to think seriously about the danger of nuclear weapons.

    Huh?

    Even Reagan saw the danger and worked to reduce the number of weapons….We already have more delivery vehicles (nice phrase) than the Russians….and are working on new missile subs…..plus updating our warheads. What else does he want us to do? How many times do we have to be able to destroy the world?

  • John Johnson

    What I learned about Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson after spending a week on jury duty with him
    http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2016/12/23/learned-exxon-ceo-rex-tillerson-spending-week-jury-duty

  • RAYMOND GONZALEZ

    To yawls’ position, point about those two Texas brothers whom by their acts, deeds and demonstrations hadn’t exemplified either strong moral or ethical principles and thus will never be ensconced or occupy my exemplary list. To sit silently gawking from the stadium bleachers isn’t in my family resume given the two amigos rather divisiveness and Conrad Tillerson’s corporate malfeasance. Dare I say the dumb and the crooked. To somehow suggest or imply that just because they happen to be Tejanos that I’m suppose to get gitty and thrust aside the uncertainty I currently hold isn’t happening! But sadly these two compadres are the bi-produce of social promotion jus’ cause they can? Especially Rick whose now sporting collegiate black rim Gucci glasses has been given the keys to the US unclear arsenal is an understatement. Chances are that maybe, yes maybe, he’s unable to open the childproof jar! As for “Conrad Commissar” Rex Tillerson, Exxon under his implicit direct was unambiguous in laundering fossil fuel profits directly into the personal accounts of the authoritarian warlords as they sysatematically terrorized, coerced and intimidated their countryman including maintaining the statuesque squalor. Anything less from this patriot would suggsest that I am equally compplicit to flwed leadership outside the scope of my religious beliefts. At what price does international crime reign paramont over one’s personal spiritural convictions accommodate another’s criminal fiduciary and malfeasance due diligencel. Un dicho