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The NYTimes Profile on Rick Perry, Trump's Pick for Energy Secretary, is Terrifying

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 19, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 19, 2017 |

We are so fucked.

From the NYTimes:

When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state.

What did he think? He’d just get to travel the world with foam fingers and oil funnel caps? Go Oil! Go Gas! Down with So-LAR! Down with Windmills! G-A-S-O-L-I-N-E!

In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal.


Two-thirds of the agency’s annual $30 billion budget is devoted to maintaining, refurbishing and keeping safe the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

“George Bush did a great job in his presidency, defending us from freedom.” An actual quote from Rick Perry, who is about to become the Sheriff of Nuke Town.

“If you asked him on that first day he said yes, he would have said, ‘I want to be an advocate for energy,’” said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who advised Mr. Perry’s 2016 presidential campaign and worked on the Trump transition’s Energy Department team in its early days.


“If you asked him now, he’d say, ‘I’m serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex.’ It’s been a learning curve.”


If approved by the Senate, he will take over from a secretary, Ernest J. Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science. Before Mr. Moniz, the job belonged to Steven Chu, a physicist who won a Nobel Prize.

For Mr. Moniz, the future of nuclear science has been a lifelong obsession; he spent his early years working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Mr. Perry studied animal husbandry and led cheers at Texas A&M University.


While even Mr. Perry’s supporters concede that he has no experience making high-level decisions on nuclear weapons policy, he has had some dealings with the problem of nuclear waste, which also falls under the purview of the Energy Department.

So, it’s basically like asking the driver of a garbage truck to manage the entire country’s waste management system, if landfills could be launched into space and destroy major international metropolitan areas.

Mr. Perry’s backers also note that Texas is home to Pantex, an Energy Department plant where nuclear weapons are assembled. But as governor, he had no role in running the facility.

I live in the same neighborhood as a Jewish temple, therefore I must be qualified to be a Rabbi.

But Mr. Perry’s qualifications to oversee a muscular renovation, or expansion, of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex are expected to be among the chief topics of questioning at his confirmation hearing.

GOP Senator: Have you completed the Buzzfeed quiz, “What kind of nuclear scientist are you?”

Perry: Of course.

GOP Senator: Confirmed.

The Energy Department was on the list of agencies he said he wanted to eliminate when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 — though he famously forgot its name during a debate. Despite what he called his “oops” moment, he stood by his call to dismantle the department, saying, “They’ve never created one bit of energy, the best I can tell.”

No, the Department of Energy does not actually create energy. Also, the Attorney General doesn’t create Generals.

If confirmed, Mr. Perry would be at the table for one of the first big debates of the Trump presidency: what to do with the Iran nuclear deal that Mr. Moniz played such a critical role in shaping.


Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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