Exxon Boss Named, F-35 in Crosshairs
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Vol. 5, No. 346
Dealmaker: President-elect Trump has named Rex Tillerson, the chief of Exxon Mobil, to be Secretary of State. He has no government or foreign policy experience other than doing business overseas, but appears to be friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Some major Republican leaders have questioned the appointment and could raise uncomfortable questions in confirmation hearings.
In other developments, Trump has cancelled what was to be his first news conference scheduled for Thursday in which he was to have explained how he would separate his global business from his presidency. The legal arrangements appear to be incomplete.
Spokesman Sean Spicer said, “moving the announcement to January ensures the legal team has ample time to implement the proper protocols.” Trump has not held a news conference since July 27, the third day of the Democratic National Convention.
Hair Raid: The President-elect now has the expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in his crosshairs. He opened fire on Twitter yesterday saying, “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.” The lock-on warning immediately buzzed at Lockheed and company stock went into a spin.
The government so far has spent $100 billion and has only 204 of the jets designed to have a variation for every branch of the service. It’s supposed to evade radar and missiles, but its performance has been heavily criticized. It lost in a one-on-one combat test to a 1970s era F-16.
The Manchurian President: The CIA assessment that Russian hackers tried to influence the US election has turned into a full-blown political issue with Trump claiming the Russian plot is really a Democratic ploy to discredit the election. Trump tweeted yesterday, “Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!”
Despite Trump’s dismissal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the most powerful Republicans, called for an investigation. In a dig at Trump and some of his cabinet appointees, McConnell said, “The Russians are not our friends.”
No one has claimed that Trump won because of Russian influence, although the Trump camp is trying to spin it that way. Nevertheless, accepting the existence of the Russian plot is impossible for Trump because it means the Russians wanted him elected because he’s a fool easily swayed by adulation and a lucrative business deal.
Law Review: The Supreme Court turned down an appeal by the National Football League, clearing the way for the league to start paying out $1 billion to retired players damaged and debilitated by repeated blows to the head. Depending on their condition, players might receive up to $5 million each. — Justice Stephen Breyer made an unusual dissent yesterday in a Florida death penalty case, basically saying the death penalty is unfair and wrong. “As I and other Justices have previously pointed out,” Breyer wrote, “individuals who are executed are not the “worst of the worst,” but, rather, are individuals chosen at random, on the basis, perhaps of geography, perhaps of the views of individual prosecutors, or still worse on the basis of race.”
The Big Thaw: Melting Antarctic glaciers are dumping 120 to 140 billion tons of ice a year into the ocean, which accounts for about 10% of the total worldwide rise in ocean levels. Twenty-five years of scientific observations show that the glaciers are losing about 22 feet of height every year.
Another team of scientists from Britain and Norway say reindeer on an arctic island are weighing less because warmer weather brings rain that creates an ice crust that’s difficult for reindeer to break through to find food.
When Donald Trump becomes president, none of this will be true.