Donald Trump’s contemptible cabinet (with poll!)
To say that some of Donald Trump’s cabinet picks are unqualified, frightening, and downright dangerous is an understatement. To say that many shouldn’t be let anywhere near a position of power in government is obvious.
Some make up his basket o’ billionaires, because Trump said he wants “people that made a fortune” in his cabinet. Most have no government experience. Many have ties to the fossil fuel industry and are the most anti-environmental choices in history. We suspect that at least one might have an IQ similar to room temperature—in Celsius (since so many don’t appear to believe in science, they might think that’s a compliment).
What do they have in common? Many supported Trump’s presidential bid, even if they were late to the party, and some donated and raised huge amounts to elect the narcissist-in-chief. Most important: Trump’s kids approve of the nominees.
While all are not universally awful choices, many pundits are calling the Trump cabinet picks his own basket of deplorables. From a post on Counterpunch:
As our new “Celebrity-in-Chief,” maybe Don the Con is previewing a new game show called “The Apprentice Cabinet.”
Whatever the motivation, it is depressingly clear that these nominees are either spectacularly unqualified, right wing zealots of the worst sort, or, in Simon Schama’s words, a “cesspool of crony capitalism,” or, in some cases, all three at once. A regular Trifecta! The speaker of the California Assembly has provided another triadic and alliterative description: “Bullies, Billionaires, and Bigots.” My own preference is an admixture of the TV series “Game of Thrones” with the Book of Revelation. So I would categorize the picks under the Grand Triad of “The Three Dragons of the Apocalypse: Greed, Stupidity, and Authoritarianism.”
Let’s do a Trump cabinet roundup. Warning: Depression is bound to follow.
Rex Tillerson at the State Department. After he humiliated Mitt Romney by feeding him frogs’ legs while blowing a raspberry, the liar-in-chief-to-be was still dissatisfied with his options. So he listened to several D.C. insiders—all with business and financial ties to ExxonMobil—and picked the oil company CEO. Tillerson has spent his career at the oil giant and signed billions of dollars in deals with the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, deals that (among other things) would let Exxon pursue oil drilling in Russian Arctic territory. The deals were scotched, however, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia. But Tillerson and his best bud, Russian President Vladimir Putin, are betting that sanctions will be lifted, enriching folks who are already rich. Like Tillerson, who owns $218 million in Exxon stock. Already some Republican senators have raised “serious concerns” (what would politicians do if they couldn’t raise serious concerns?) and hinted that they might oppose the pick, such as South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. Let’s hope a majority of senators say nyet!
Tom Price at the Department of Health and Human Services. Price, an orthopedic surgeon and Republican congressman from Georgia, wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, cut Medicaid, and defund Planned Parenthood. He advocates letting doctors balance-bill Medicare patients, meaning they could charge whatever they want and ask patients to pay for what Medicare doesn’t. Price never met a social safety net program he didn’t want to trash, especially when it comes to women’s health.
Steven Mnuchin at the Treasury Department. Mnuchin, who spent years at Goldman Sachs, was known as the “foreclosure king” and benefited bigly off the 2008 housing crisis. His bank once tried to foreclose on a 90-year-old woman because she mistakenly underpaid her mortgage by 27 cents. Guess Trump saw Mnuchin, a hedge fund manager and Hollywood producer, as a kindred spirit because they both saw “opportunity” in the housing collapse (“That’s called business,” as Trump said in the first presidential debate). That, and the fact that Mnuchin was Trump’s top fundraiser.
Wilbur Ross at the Commerce Department. Ross, a billionaire private equity investor and specialist in leveraged buyouts, has made money by buying distressed companies. He actually has some support from organized labor for saving steel jobs, but he also was responsible for layoffs of textile workers and coal miners. And 12 miners died in an explosion at one of his mines that had been cited for numerous safety citations. Ross, the richest in the bunch, also was a big Trump cheerleader and donor.
Jeff Beauregard Sessions III as attorney general. The Alabama senator was deemed too racist by fellow Republicans to be confirmed as a federal judge, and he’s been seething about it ever since. “Just the thought of him overseeing the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is frightening,” said attorney J. Gerald Hebert, who knew Sessions when Hebert worked on voting rights in the 1980s. What does Sessions care about? It’s better to list what he doesn’t care about: voting rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, solving immigration issues, and any form of legalized marijuana.
John Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, is actually considered a “middle of the road” pick, and it could have been worse. Some of the other rumored choices were Kansas Secretary of State and vote suppressor Kris Kobach, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (who advocated “pitchforks and torches”), and defeated (finally!) Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
James Mattis at the Defense Department. The retired Marine Corps general earned the nickname of “Mad Dog” for statements such as “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Sounds like a charmer. He has been hawkish on Iran. But at least he’s against torture.
Elaine Chao at the Transportation Department. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who all but threatened political blackmail if news about how Russian cyberhacking was made public before the election. Is this political payback for McConnell making sure the story stayed partially under the rug? At least Chao has some government experience, having been Labor secretary in the George W. Bush administration.
Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education. Why would Trump pick someone who doesn’t believe in public education? Who pushes charter schools and private school vouchers? Because the heir to the Amway fortune donated money to his campaign, of course. Speaking of fortunes, she should pay the $5.3 million in fines she owes to the state of Ohio because her now-defunct school-choice PAC violated the state’s campaign finance laws. Hey, maybe Trump can find a little extra cash in the Trump Foundation, since settling lawsuits seems to be what he thinks foundation money is for.
Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Pick your favorite Ben Carson theory of lunacy: The pyramids were built for storing grain? God gave the retired pediatric neurosurgeon the answers to his chemistry final in a dream? NASA made it to the moon because God was in the Declaration of Independence? All of those whackadoodle theories have nothing to do with housing policy, unless you count the pyramids, which did house dead folks. But then again, nothing he’s ever done has anything to do with housing policy.
Ryan Zinke at the Department of the Interior. The Montana freshman congressman, said to be a friend to big oil, is an outdoorsman and hunter, and he reportedly hit it off with Donald Trump Jr., also an avid hunter. Guess bumping chests with the Trump boys trumps conservation expertise.
Andy Puzder at the Department of Labor. Puzder made a fortune with fast-food franchise companies like Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., but he’s against raising the minimum wage and doesn’t like paying overtime. Instead, he likes commercials with models in bikinis eating burgers. Not exactly what the working man or woman needs.
Rick Perry at the Department of Energy. Remember when Perry famously tanked at a Republican debate for his “oops” moment? When he couldn’t remember the third department he was going to abolish? Yeah, it was Energy. Is this really the guy we want in charge of the nuclear weapons stockpile? Maybe this is Trump’s big joke on Perry—maybe he’s going to abolish the department himself after the GOP Senate confirms the man Molly Ivins often called “Governor Goodhair.” All in retaliation for the time Perry called Trump a “cancer on conservatism” and “toxic.” Oil lover Perry is also on the board of the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline.
We still don’t know Trump’s pick for Agriculture secretary. But we hear Old MacDonald is available, and he can sing “E-I-E-I-O.” Nor has there been an announcement of Trump’s choice for Veterans Affairs. Hey, since Trump loves appointing generals and David Petraeus was passed over at State, maybe this would be a good fit. If Petraeus’ probation officer agrees.
Some posts still need Senate approval and are considered Cabinet-level even if they’re not technically in the cabinet.
Mike Pompeo as CIA director. The Kansas congressman, rumored to be the love child of Charles and David Koch because he’s received more contributions from Koch employees than anyone else running for office, is enthusiastic about torture. He wants to bring back NSA spying. He thinks whistleblower Edward Snowden deserves a death sentence. And he says the detainees at Gitmo “are treated exceptionally well.” Everything you’d ever want in a CIA chief.
Linda McMahon as head of the Small Business Administration. Because what says small business success to folks trying to get a new business off the ground like the billionaire head of a fake wrestling outfit such as World Wrestling Entertainment?
Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency. Talk about an oxymoron. Pruitt, a Republican climate change denier who is the Oklahoma attorney general, has sued the EPA numerous times to halt environmental regulations. Never mind the fact that Oklahoma is awash with fracking-caused earthquakes—the more fracking, the better, believes Pruitt, who has ties to the fossil fuel industry. Putting Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA is “like appointing Darth Vader to lead the Rebel Alliance,” says Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
Nikki Haley as United Nations ambassador. The South Carolina governor wasn’t originally a Trump fan, but appointing her to the post paves the way for her lieutenant governor, Henry McMaster (who was an early endorser), to become guv of the Palmetto State and run as an incumbent in 2018.
This list leaves out Trump’s other stellar picks who don’t need Senate approval, such as retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn as national security adviser, who has a habit of leaking classified information and spreading wild conspiracy theories; Steve Bannon of Breitbart fame as top political adviser to keep bending Trump’s ear about white nationalism; Reince Priebus as chief of staff, second in weaseldom only to House Speaker Paul Ryan; and the Trump offspring, who will be “running the businesses” while having nothing at all to do with government. This is even as they continue to sit in meetings with world leaders, potential Cabinet picks, and U.S. industry mavens and as Ivanka is rumored to be getting White House office space normally reserved for the first lady while Melania stays ensconced in Trump Tower.
To make you feel even worse, the secretary of state is the first cabinet official in line for the presidency should anything happen to the president, the vice president, the speaker of the House, and the president pro tempore of the Senate. Sort of puts the Rex Tillerson-Vladimir Putin bromance in a whole new light.
Originally posted on Daily Kos on Dec. 18, 2016.