A Week With Rex Tillerson

With Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson’s selection as Trump’s Secretary of State, a new kind of hate has descended on this native Texan’s head. Hyperbole is the name of the game in politics and often we entirely lose sight of the person behind the position.

Whatever you may think about Tillerson’s qualifications for the role of Secretary of State, take a moment to learn about him as a person. Emily Roden’s personal account of Jury Duty with Mr. Tillerson gives a bit of insight into the man’s character:

Nine years ago, I showed up to the Denton County Courthouse for jury duty and got myself picked for the job. A young girl had accused her mom’s boyfriend of sexual assault and the case was being brought to trial. If you’ve ever served on a jury trial before, you understand the almost immediate, yet very temporary bond that ties 12 strangers together who are randomly chosen from each of their private lives in order to fulfill a very solemn public purpose.

One of our first tasks was to choose our jury foreman. Perhaps it was his business suit, his impressive stature, or his charisma, but almost everyone in that jury room suggested that this middle-aged man with greying hair was likely the most fit for the task.

“Thanks, but I decline. I’m not interested in the spot light,” he told us. I didn’t think anything of it.

I had just bought my first BlackBerry and used my breaks to catch up on all the emails I was missing from my week at the courthouse. I recall leaving the jury room on a break with this man and remarking how busy I was and how much work I had to do. He smiled as he sat and read the paper.

From the first day of jury selection, we all noticed another suited man always present in the courtroom. His presence was intriguing due to the ear piece in his ear. While grabbing lunch at Denton County Independent Hamburger on the square the 2nd day of the trial, we noticed this mysterious man dining with our fellow juror who declined the foreman spot. The intrigue grew and it was the talk of the jury – who were these men?

Finally, during a break in the jury room, one juror had the nerve to ask; “Who are you? And what do you do?”

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Rex Tillerson Deserves Consideration and Requires Examination

Rex Tillerson is an American success story. A University of Texas graduate, he started out at Exxon as a production engineer and worked his way up to Chairman and CEO of the company. News reports overnight are that Donald Trump will nominate him as Secretary of State. He deserves consideration by the Senate and the public for that position.

The Secretary of State does not need to be a professional diplomat. Hillary Clinton was not a professional diplomat when she became Secretary of State. Tillerson, as the CEO of one of the world’s largest companies by measure of market cap, revenue, profit, etc. with facilities and business relationships across the globe, has all the necessary core competencies to manage the State Department bureaucracy and handle diplomacy himself.

Tillerson’s time at Exxon, however, also has some flaws. Because he is a company man and an Exxon man, he knows Exxon. That is not the same as knowing how to run another company nor does that translate directly into running the State Department. In his confirmation process, Senators need to closely examine if he has the capacity to take his competencies from Exxon to the State Department. Being qualified does not make one capable.

Likewise, we should be troubled with Tillerson’s close times to Vladimir Putin at a time there are credible reports that Russia tried to influence the American election. I understand that Tillerson befriended Putin during Tillerson’s time working in Russia for Exxon when Boris Yeltsin was President. That long term relationship might prove useful if Trump intends to reassess our strategic interests in Asia. Pulling Russia away from China would not be a bad thing. But Putin has a history of murdering dissidents, assassinating other world leaders, and invading European countries. He cannot be trusted. What are the parameters of Tillerson’s friendship with Putin? The Senate should seriously explore this issue.

But, I think we are fooling ourselves if we think the core complaints from the left against Tillerson are on Russia. After all, the left tells us that Hillary Clinton successfully reset the relationship. The major concerns are that Tillerson is a bitter enemy to the environmental movement and his role as Secretary of State could be highly disruptive to various international accords on climate change.

It would sound bat poop crazy for the left to scream the loudest about climate change as their objection to a Secretary of State, as opposed to EPA head, so they will focus on Russia instead.

Skeptics of Tillerson should take some small measure of reassurance that Condoleezza Rice recommended him and Robert Gates backed her up. Rice has expertise in dealing with Russia and understands the geopolitical threat Russia poses to us. If she is comfortable with Tillerson, he should be able to prove himself.

Nonetheless, the Senate must ask tough and probing questions. A President generally should be allowed the advisors he wants. But Secretary of State is the pre-eminent cabinet position and the Senate should and must take seriously its role in confirmation given Tillerson’s Russian connection and lack of a diverse resumé.

Exxon (And All Climate Change Infidels): Enemy Of The State

National Review’s editors took the unusual step of defending another organization, declaring “an attack on us all” when the U.S. Virgin Islands attorney general served a subpoena on the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank and critic of global warming activism.

Clinging to their state religion of hockey-stick climate change, a gaggle of Democrat attorney generals publicly declared war on infidels by announcing they would “creatively” and “aggressively” use their prosecutorial powers.

That, in and of itself, should raise an entire May Day parade’s worth of red flags: Prosecutors are in the business of enforcing the law, not rewriting it, and the open, naked promise to use prosecutorial powers as a political weapon is a prima facie abuse of office. In a self-respecting society, every one of those state attorneys general would have been impeached the next day. But this is the Age of Obama, not the Age of Self-Respect.

The first target, far from the beltway where lawyers are watched like eagle’s eggs, was in the U.S. Virgin Islands. And the subpoena came via the private Washington law firm, Cohen Milstein.

You will not be shocked to learn that Cohen Milstein has a very large interest — millions and millions of dollars — in separate litigation being pursued against Exxon. You will be even less surprised to learn that the firm received a $15 million contingency-fee payment from Walker’s office in another matter, and we will be surprised still less if, as Exxon suggests, Cohen Milstein has a contingency interest in this new case against Exxon.

I’ve read about political lawfare, but this is simply a government stick-up. Not for money, but for the company’s soul.

This is an attack not only on the First Amendment but on the entirety of the political process itself. It is a scandal, and voters in jurisdictions represented by members of the so-called Green 20 ought to be shocked and dismayed — and outraged — by what is being done in their name, with powers delegated by them to their attorneys general.

Be sure that should your employer–or you personally–cross the priesthood of climate change, you may also be declared an enemy of the state. At least while Democrats occupy the Oval Office.