Republicans on Clinton when she is not running for office

When Hillary Clinton is doing her job, she gets high praise even from Republicans. Yet, when she runs for office, the Republicans trot out the piñata they have created over time filled with some truth and much innuendo, so they must beat her down, like kids do at a birthday party when the piñata is put before them.

Here are a few quotes from senior Republican officials from an article in The Daily Beast, before her latest run for Presidency. The italicized items are from the article whose link is below.

Senator John McCain: In 2011, at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, McCain praised Clinton as “an international star” who has done “a tremendous job” as secretary of state. He also later told to CBS News, “I respect Secretary/Senator Clinton; I respect her views.”

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice: In 2010, she told Bill O’Reilly,Hillary Clinton is someone I’ve known for a long, long time. She’s a patriot. I think she’s doing a lot of the right things.” Rice then added, “She’s very tough… and she’s got the right instincts.”

Senator Orrin Hatch: In 2010, when Clinton was being floated as a possible Supreme Court nominee and Hatch was the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Utah senator said of his former colleague: “I happen to like Hillary Clinton; I think she’s done a good job for the… secretary of state’s position, and I have high respect for her and think a great deal of her.”

Former CEO and Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina: “Having started as a secretary and eventually become a chief executive officer, I not only have great admiration and respect for Hillary Clinton and her candidacy and her leadership, but I also have great empathy, I must tell you, for what she went through.”

Senator Lindsey Graham: Perhaps no Republican has spoken more highly of Hillary Clinton than the South Carolina senator and prominent foreign-policy hawk, who went so far as to describe the then-secretary of state as “a good role model, one of the most effective secretary of states, greatest ambassadors for the American people that I have known in my lifetime” in May 2012. The Republican also went out of his way to praise Clinton to The New York Times three months later saying “She is extremely well-respected throughout the world, handles herself in a very classy way, and has a work ethic second to none.”

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney: During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Cheney told host Chris Wallace of Clinton: “I have a sense that she is one of the more competent members of the current administration, and it would be interesting to speculate about how she might perform were she to be president.” Cheney also suggested that, if elected, Clinton might be easier for Republicans to work with than Obama.

Now that she is running for President her opponent and many Republicans have impugned this woman saying what a horrible job she did as Secretary of State and as Senator. Please take the time to re-read these quotes and find them in the attached article. This imperfect woman has taken a lot of crap, but is still standing. Most people, including her opponent, would have wilted under pressure by now.

I would do it again says former VP

The subject of the use of torture by the CIA continues to get debate, as it should. Of course, those who had a hand in it, don’t want them sullied by the use of the vile word “torture” and would rather euphemistically call it “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Our former Vice President who played a key role said he would do it again to keep Americans safe.

As mentioned in my last post, I have never been a fan of the use of torture, as you lose the moral ground very quickly. If our country is to lay claim to exceptionalism, it may want to listen to someone who was tortured, Senator John McCain, than someone who sanctioned the torturing. The argument for it is torturing gains the torturer more information than less onerous means, but that evidence does not seem to be borne out by the study or supported by war crimes experts. Plus, there is an element of CYA going on when you speak with someone who did the deed.

Yet, are we really safer? To me the answer is no, as we now have tens of thousands and multiple generations of terrorists that despise us, when back at the time of 9/11, al Qaeda numbered only 200 people. Yes, there were other terrorist groups, but suppose we took the higher road. We would have been safer as the numbers would likely be fewer who are out to harm us.

However, the last person we should listen to on these issues is the former Vice President. He said he would do it over again, but would also do the following again:

– would he help invent the story of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that led to the invasion of Iraq, where al Qaeda was not present,

– would he ignore the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to go in with more troops to secure the country (this later became the surge after many years),

– would he send our troops into battle with inferior equipment that cost lives,

– would he rely on the counsel of less than trust worthy advisors in the Middle East, which was the subject of later scrutiny,

– would he send in too few speakers of the various languages as our advisors, so as to avoid smoke being blown at us when we asked questions,

– would he fire the Iraqi police force, who later abetted the efforts ISIS and could have been allies to squelch fighting?

4,000 Americans died over there, so far. Many more of our allies died. Even more Iraqis, Afghanis, and others died. My thesis if we are going to send our troops into harms way, then we better support them and we better have a good reason other than unfound WMDs. As to do otherwise is a disservice to our country, our troops and their families.

So, excuse me for not giving much credence to what you would do over again. Your track record is not very good on these issues. If I had the choice to do over again, I would vote for Al Gore for President. And, make no mistake, it is torture no matter what you call it.

You are only as good as your worst operator

One of the more telling comments I have heard about fossil fuel extraction was made by a scientist who worked for one of the big companies. His comments apply to deep sea oil drilling, coal mining and fracking for natural gas. To paraphrase, he said the industry does its best to make sure the process is as safe as possible, but leaks do occur. Yet, even if the process could be made fully safe, you are only as good as your worst operator.

In my home state of North Carolina, there was a last minute attempt by some legislators to sneak language into another bill to circumvent the study process going on to make fracking as safe as possible before the state embarks down this path. I say last minute as the General Assembly finished their work for the year, unless a special session is called. The bill fortunately failed and the inserted language was one of the reasons cited. It is ironic that this Machiavellian attempt occurred on the day it was announced Halliburton, one of the largest fracking companies in the world, pleaded guilty to destroying evidence which showed they knew the cement casings on the BP Horizon (which dumped all of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico) needed more metal support than was given and contributed to the leakage and blow out. For more on the story, here is the link:

You may be interested in knowing it is the cement casings around the fracking housing that fail immediately 1 in 20 times according to another fracking industry expert and fail over time at an even higher rate. The industry knows about this and has for years, which is one reason Vice President Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, inserted langauge (in a Machiavellian way) into the 2005 Energy Policy Act to forego frackers from being subject to the Clean Air and Safe Drinking Water Acts and did not have to disclose chemicals used in fracking, the last item which was proposed last week in the bill defeated in North Carolina.

Please ponder this as you watch on the news about the natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico which was on fire and venting methane into our environment and leaking into the Gulf. We are focusing on the leakage into the water after the BP Horizon collapse, yet the bigger story to me is the leakage of methane into the air. Here is an article from Huffington Post: The reason for this blow out is still being determined. Yet, I am hopeful people outside of the companies involved will get to the bottom of this.

We need to rely on data from scientists and not those involved in the industry whose livelihood and profit margins are dependent on telling as good a story as they can. I say this as the fossil fuel industry does an excellent job of masking their troubles and especially their bad operators.  The industry has a Public Relations firm which is used to mask the real stories. This is the same PR firm the industry used to countervene the now apparent evidence that global warming is happening and is man-influenced. The real story is fracking is not safe and cannot be made to be perfectly safe. Yet, even if it were, it is only as safe as its worst operator. And, Halliburton has pleaded guilty to trying to hide this fact from the public.

I urge everyone to get all the facts and not someone’s spin of the facts. In my reading, I have noticed several websites that are geared around creating doubt about the arguments of fracking critics who are demanding more from the industry. I firmly believe when you look at the data, the prize is not worth the price everyone will pay. There is no question the industry will make money and the landowner who has the mineral rights will be compensated. But, everyone else will be left holding the bag due to a more toxic air and water supply, the resulting health deterioration of people and livestock, a degraded environment and less water to drink and use.

Yet, the supporters of the industry like to throw back as their final argument, but this industry is creating jobs. Yes, but so are others and they tend to be local jobs, not hired fracking guns from out-of-state. Just in North Carolina, there is a company in Chapel HIll called Strata Solar whose solar panel installers are flat out busy. California, if measured as a country, is the 7th largest producer of solar energy in the world. Appalachian State University is doing cool things with its Wind in Schools program and has completed eight wind mill projects. As of last fall, there are 75,000 wind energy jobs nationwide with wind energy in 39 states. As a case study, the retailer IKEA will be energy independent with wind and solar energy by 2020 and already has solar panels on top of 39 of its 43 stores in North America.

This is the direction we should go. The jobs are local, the industry is cleaner and renewable and safe for the environment. If I were the Governor of West Virginia, I would embrace this new path forward, plead for matching federal funding and train my coal miners to install solar panels and build windmills. If you tell a coal miner he or she need not go down in a hole and can make good money doing something better for all of us, I believe he or she would take that trade.

I would also remind you of the West Virginia coal mine disaster in the past two years, by a company whose owner had funded several politicians and judges to look the other way as he cut corners. You are only as good as your worst operator. And, one final comment courtesy of Bill Maher answering is own question – what do you hear when a windmill crashes into the sea – a splash. So, a bad windmill operator won’t be nearly as detrimental as a bad fossil fuel operator.

A Tale of Two VPs

With the recent flurry of activity to reconsider George W. Bush’s presidency with the opening of his library, I felt I would save comment for a future time. Yet, it got me thinking about contrasting the last two Vice Presidents – Dick Cheney and Joe Biden. My main reason in so doing is the stark contrast in style and performance. You see, for all the crap Joe Biden takes from the press waiting to pounce on his misspeaks, I think he has done a highly commendable job as Vice President. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for his predecessor, Dick Cheney. The more I learn about Mr. Cheney, the more Machiavellian he becomes. In fact, the highlighted word is the one word I would use to describe him when pressed.

When Bush was first elected, I was content knowing the Vice President had been around the block and had served as George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense. His candidacy was recommended by Paul O’Neill, the CEO of Alcoa, who was Bush the father’s first choice as Defense secretary. I mention that as it is important later on. But, when I read more on Cheney, the initial comfort I felt was misplaced. His knowing his way around the block meant he knew how to exploit things to his advantage. For example, being the former CEO of one of the largest fracking companies in the world, he did two major things that will make your stomach turn.

First, he sold off the mineral rights and afforded gas lease rights to various national park lands and other public resources to fracking developers. They were given permission to frack on public property and made a huge amount of money. Unfortunately, since fracking is not as safe as portrayed, the various animal and human populations close by have been suffering. But, that was only step one. Second, he had inserted a very brief provision into the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to include a provision in the Act that prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the frackers under the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. And, fracking companies did not need to disclose the chemicals they added to the fracking water to make it easier to frack as they reduced friction, killed algae, broke down minerals and depositsIf fracking is so safe, why would you need to add this paragraph?

He did many other things, but let me highlight two. First, Paul O’Neill, the guy who turned around Alcoa and recommended Cheney to Bush the father, became the Secretary of Treasury to Bush the son. Yet, O’Neill felt the Bush tax cuts were not the right path forward for our country and was vociferous about his concerns. Rather than listen to someone with a very good track record, Cheney fired him at the behest of Bush. By the way, O’Neill was right – we did not need those tax cuts and we are paying for them still today. None other than Warren Buffett agreed with O’Neill at the time.

Second, Cheney helped build the Weapons of Mass Destruction argument to go into Iraq. Between him, Karl Rove (another Machiavellian person) and Scooter Libby (who went to jail for giving up a CIA operative to the press – see Valerie Plame), they painted a picture that we Americans, the United Nations and Congress bought hook, line and sinker. The trouble is when you send Americans to die, you better be damn certain this is the right course. As an aside, take your time President Obama on Syria before you sentence young men and women to die like Bush and Cheney did in Iraq.

On the flip side, Biden has been a very positive ambassador for Obama given his role before on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been able to extend the reach of the Secretary of State and our relations around the globe have improved, so says a Pew Survey before and after Obama took office. On the domestic front, Biden has been a means to reach out to Congress on behalf of the President. The President has been given a huge stiff arm by Congress and he has not been as forceful as needed. But, he has asked Biden to play huge roles in brokering a deal to avoid the first fiscal cliff disaster of 21 months ago and chairing discussions to introduce better gun control legislation among other things.

Biden also played a huge role in moving forward the debate on same-sex marriage. By answering direct questions in an interview about a year ago, he staked a position that the White House came out and supported. He let the cat out of the bag early, but it was the right call and actually helped the President and country by pushing this issue forward. This was more vintage Biden, yet this is one issue where America is and was ahead of the politicians.

The final point I will make is Biden is a people’s Vice President. He is very approachable when he goes out to meet folks and they gravitate to him. His personal loss and his struggles to overcome resonate with people. Cheney is not comfortable in that role and so he chooses not to practice it. The contrast reminds of the difference between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict. Francis sees the major issue of the day as global poverty. He is truly a man of the people. Benedict is more cerebral and less approachable. The same could be said for Cheney.

It is not just me that feels this way. It is GOP folks as well. Why have Bush and Cheney not but included in the last two presidential races from an advocacy or supportive role? The party knows they did not do a good job (note the library cannot change that George), so they distanced themselves. Bush was not physically invited to either of the last two GOP conventions and he only spoke by video as a sitting President in 2008. That may have been the biggest insult – the GOP did not want the sitting President to attend. The press will say that both skipped the events, but this is the biggest event your party does. Why would you not want to have your last president to attend, especially while he is still in office?

Getting back to Biden, he deserves an “atta boy Joe” from all of us. He is far from perfect, but he has served the country well. If Hillary Clinton elects not to run, Biden may be the next Democratic presidential candidate. I would expect she will, but Joe would deserve the shot, if she did not. Unfortunately, Cheney would not be included on anyone’s short list after his stint as VP. He did some good things while in the White House, but for the most part he will be remembered for the above issues.