Hit List?

This time of year I tend to write even further ahead than I normally do. In fact the plans are that every article you read shortly will have been written several days or weeks before to accommodate my taking the end of the December and first few days of January off. This news broke Friday afternoon and went straight to the head of the line for the next available slot. The incompetent incoming Trump administration has for some time resembled an organized criminal conspiracy; now it looks to be establishing a hit list. Let’s explore while we still are able to.

Bloomberg News first broke the story that the Trump transition team had sent a 47 question questionnaire to the Energy Department many of which looked much more like they were trying to develop a hit list than to learn how the agency actually works. They asked for a list of individuals and consultants who took part in climate change talks and/or programs within the Department of Energy (DOE) that are deemed essential to achieving President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan and the names of those specific programs. The questionnaire even asks for any related e-mails. Remember Republicans love to investigate e-mails even if it never proves anything. It resonates with low information and less well educated voters. Don’t believe me just ask Hillary Clinton or several scientists who have presented the most credible proof of man’s role in climate change.   It looks a lot like the Trump administration is looking for who to silence and what programs to thwart or eliminate, a/k/a a hit list.

The questions closely align with the stated objectives of right wing and fossil fuel industry groups including the Heritage Foundation, the American Energy Alliance (AEA) and the Institute for Energy Research. That should not come as much of a surprise since AEA leader Thomas Pyle is heading Trump’s Energy Department transition team.

One of the two most dangerous threats to the fossil fuel industry is if clean energy advocates could ever effectively convey to the voters the true cost of fossil fuels. Most American consumers simply think of how much it costs them to fill up their gas tank or heat and cool their homes. They forget about the increased medical and other costs associated with pollution. This cost is sometimes called the “social cost of carbon”.  Putting a number on the true cost of fossil fuels and conveying that to the American public is a daunting task.

The involvement of right wing groups exists throughout the Trump transition team. An example is that Heritage senior fellow David Kreutzer is involved in the EPA transition team. While I certainly am not, I bet Charles and David Koch are happy with the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency! Inside influence is always effective and it is especially effective with an ignorant and disinterested President. Trump suffers from insatiable greed and appears to only be interested in what he can skim off the top of the federal government’s operation.

Elections have consequences and I certainly don’t expect Trump to appoint people that I will be happy with to politically appointed jobs. He has carried that to a ridiculous and frightening extreme. However, when Trump appears to be formulating a hit list that includes independent consultants and civil servant that crosses a line meant to defend the country’s interests against any specific agenda of a particular administration.

This is apparently an old Republican trick. There were reasons to believe accusations of hit list in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations. This Trump effort is starting before he is even sworn in and is a “steroid supplemented” version of Reagan or W’s. If the best of the best leave or are chased out of government service it is a win for Trump and his financiers. The problem is it is a loss for America and the world!

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