The cabinet that Trump is putting together is looking more like the escapees of Pandora’s Box than a government cabinet. Every new name that is announced or floated brings it closer to mirroring the hoard of evil spectres that poor, naive Pandora let loose upon the world. If you recall, only “Hope” was left behind when, stricken by the realization of what she done, Pandora closed the lid.
Most folks, especially the poor benighted bastards who voted for this miscreant, aren’t paying attention. Perhaps they’re caught up in the vortex that was the Trump campaign; perhaps they do not understand how powerful a Secretary of _____ (fill in the blank with your favorite agency) actually is.
Each oversees a large government bureaucracy with far reaching roles in the lives of every American. They are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate. It’s standard procedure to approve the nominee on the grounds that the president has the right to choose the individuals who will oversee the various agencies of government and advise him on policy. The last person to be rejected was John Tower as Secretary of Defense back in 1989 — and that had more to do with sexual peccadilloes than competence.
What we are seeing in the slowly emerging list of individuals tapped to be in Trump’s cabinet is breathtaking. He said he was going to “drain the swamp.” Hah! He (well, it’s not really “he” — more below on just who’s behind this infestation) has left all the swamp gas and brought in a gang of crocs and scorpions. Briefly:
Education: Elizabeth DeVos, a billionaire with no relevant academic experience, no background in formal education but a champion of private and charter schools and a resolute opponent of public education.
Justice: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, a man whose racist past was the basis for a Republican senate to reject him for a federal judgeship when nominated by Reagan in 1989. His voting record in Congress is rated as the fifth most right-wing.
Homeland Security: General John F. Kelly (Ret.) who holds strong anti-immigrant positions, particularly with regard to the border with Mexico. Kelly’s record seems to be one of moderation and he may be okay.
Health and Human Services: Thomas Price, a Congressman from Georgia who has led the GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a privatized, free-market system. In short, he’ll be in charge of the department he wants to gut.
Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who acknowledged that his only experience with urban housing was living in Detroit. He also had previously said he didn’t think he was qualified to run a major government agency.
Labor: Andrew Puzder, CEO of a corporation that owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardees, two fast-food chains. An opponent of the minimum wage and a frequent target of labor complaints. A full 60% of the filings against his company resulted in violations against Federal guidelines, mostly for failing to pay even the minimum wage. He has been nominated to run the department that fined his company dozens of times.
Evironmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt, a climate change denialist who, as AG of Oklahoma, filed numerous suits against the very agency he is now expected to run.
Treasury: Steven Mnuchin, currently a Hollywood producer whose earlier days as a banker involved in him in a series of home foreclosures of “questionable” legality resulting in fines of several millions of dollars. His bank was also accused by HUD of illegal “red lining” against racial minorities.
Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon, co-owner of World Wrestling Entertainment known for PR gimmicks and for being involved in accusations of steroid abuse among wrestlers. WWE is not, in any way, a “small” business. She also failed in two senate runs in Connecticut.
Commerce: Wilbur Ross, a billionaire known as the “bankruptcy king” for buying up distressed companies on the cheap. He is also one of the bankers who bailed Trump out of his looming personal bankruptcy when his Atlantic City casinos failed. A little bit of crony capitalism here, eh?
Defense: General James Mattis, nicknamed “Mad Dog.” Mattis may be a reasonable pick though he will have to be granted a waiver of the prohibition of having the agency run by anyone who was in the military within the past seven years. Mattis probably has the cojones to tell Trump “no” if he orders him to do something truly crazy.
United Nations Ambassador: Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina. This one might work out. She has virtually no experience in international affairs but is more moderate than the others. It could have been worse — we might have gotten the bombastic neo-con Bolton back.
There are several still-unfilled posts. The people whose names are being floated don’t inspire any more confidence than this collection which would be, as the New York Times pointed out, the wealthiest cabinet ever assembled (Ross, DeVos are billionaires and a handful of others are milionaires) and, when bringing Trump’s advisors into the picture [e.g., General Michael Flynn (Ret.) as National Security Advisor], the most military-oriented in memory (Flynn, Kelly, Mattis).
With few exceptions, the cabinet nominees are either individuals who are ideologically opposed to the core principles of the institution they are being asked to run or persons with no background or experience in the area they are going to oversee.
This, my friends, is Steve Bannon at work. For those who aren’t paying attention —- drum roollll here please:
DONALD TRUMP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE NOMINATIONS (except perhaps for McMahon and Ross).
Trump is, as Hillary and the Democrats were trying (and trying) to point out, is totally, fundamentally, profoundly unprepared to be president. He has zero knowledge of government and zero understanding of how it operates. He apparently thinks you govern by Twitter.
These appointments are being pushing by Bannon, a crazy, erratic but shrewd, right-wing nutball whose prime mission is to undermine the existing political system. As editor of Breitbart news he took on the mantle of promulgator of the alt-right, the nativist, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-woman radical segment of the Republican party. He is now arguably the most powerful person in the country because he has the ear of a president who doesn’t have a fucking clue what he’s doing.
The Democrats have to, absolutely must, challenge and, when they can, block the worst of these nominees. The focus should be on the ideologues whose obvious goal is to strip bare the agency they’ve been nominated to run. Specifically, DeVos, Mnuchin, Price, Pruitt, Puzder and Ross.
Carson should be rejected on grounds of manifest incompetence.
More later when the nominees for the other positions are known.