Pothole Pete, the Green New Deal and Air Safety

By Dr. Harold A. Black



I’ve written often on being governed by incompetents. The current example is the failure of bank regulators to enforce banking regulations. Another obvious example is the current president and his cast of supporting characters. As a Washington veteran, I am aware that the president doesn’t usually actually pick those that receive nominations. Rather, the staff at White House personnel is generally entrusted with the task. Too often those that are nominated know little if anything about the office that they are to occupy. Consider Pete Buttigieg, the Secretary of Transportation who had zero expertise in the area of transportation. Consider that his experience consisted of being a small-town mayor where he was known as “Pothole Pete” overseeing a fleet of 60 buses, a train station and a regional airport. Moving into managing an agency with 60,000 employees and a budget of $90 million was one giant leap. Not only did he not have the management skills but he also lacked the knowledge regarding transportation. Remember the supply chain crisis of 2021 with container ships stuck in port waiting to be unloaded, clogged rail yards and a trucker shortage? Buttigieg did nothing because he knew nothing. Of course, he was not alone as Marty Walsh, the labor secretary and another incompetent, was also befuddled. Instead of addressing the issue, Buttigieg ignored it, knowing that it would go away. Instead, he went on parental leave as he and his husband were new parents (presumably adoptive). Then we had the train derailment in Ohio. Here again Buttigieg was befuddled and had no solution to the problem. Instead, he must have taken advice from Kamala Harris and simply not showed up at the derailment site. One Ohio congressman called him “incompetent” and said that he should resign. But of course when did competence become a job requirement in this administration?  Buttigieg got the job because he checked a DEI (diversity equity and inclusion) box by being gay.

Consider the secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland who as a native American and female checks the appropriate DEI boxes. Haaland actually made sense superficially to be interior secretary in that Interior oversees the Indian reservations and manages over 500 million acres of mostly western land. Haaland also makes sense in a Biden administration in that she strongly supports the “Green New Deal” and is an outspoken opponent of fossil fuels even though she is from New Mexico, a state that is the most dependent on revenues from oil and gas produced on federal lands. Recently Haaland was before a congressional committee. Even though she was a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, she was asked if she knew it banned fracking a clean coal. Her response was that she didn’t know because she sponsored a lot of bills while in congress. She was also asked if she knew that the push for electric vehicles would make the US dependent upon China especially after her department had rejected applications for mining vital minerals here in this country. Her response was “Yes. Okay.” She would not even answer the question as to whether she preferred to get her gas and oil from American energy rather than from Venezuela or Russia. Instead, she said “I appreciate the question.”

Of course Buttigieg and Haaland are only two examples of incompetents leading agencies. The tragedy for the country is that there is no stopping this rush to the bottom. The nominations go to the senate for confirmation and with 51 democrats, few if any of the nominees will be rejected. The only exceptions will be the few that are forced to withdraw because they lose the rare democrat senator who might insist on a modicum of expertise. Consider the nominee for the Federal Aviation Administration withdrew his name. The nominee was CEO of the Denver Airport but lacked aviation experience and could not answer several questions posed to him at his senate hearing, his response being “I am not a pilot.” His name was withdrawn when at least two so-called “moderate” democrats declined to support him. Of course, the White House said that the attacks were partisan and unfounded. But given that the aviation industry has been plagued by transportation woes (Buttigieg again?), airplane controversies and scheduling issues, an important question is whether the FAA administrator should be an aviator as well as a strong manager.