Shaking Things Up?

Trump and a great percentage of those individuals who voted for him claimed that he was going to shake things up and get rid of the career politicians who had created the political deadlock. Trump also appealed strongly to white workers whose livelihoods had been “destroyed” or threatened by globalization, saying he was going to change things

So far, if the biographies and backgrounds of those he’s selected for cabinet posts and high positions in the White House are any indication, while he may be shaking up a few of the more liberal Democrats, his appointees are largely billionaires, high powered executives, career military, or career Republican functionaries.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but I fail to see how Rex Tillerson, the head of ExxonMobil, is either going to shake things up or do much the average American. Perhaps benefit the fossil fuels industry executives, but not its workers

And what about the selection of Reince Priebus, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, as his White House chief of staff? How does that square with doing away with politics as usual?

Trump’s pick for Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, was deputy transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush and served as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Labor. She’s also married to Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. How much closer to politics as usual can you get?

Trump’s pick for U.S. Attorney General is Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a twenty year U.S. Senator from Alabama, who, in 1986 was rejected for a federal judgeship by a U.S. Senate committee because of his racist views. In addition to his opposition to legal immigration, he’s an outspoken climate science denier, claiming that carbon dioxide is “not a pollutant,” it’s just “plant food.”

What about Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency? He’s performed essentially as a tool for energy companies and is in favor of totally eliminating the EPA. What he wants might be a great change, but I’d prefer to have breathable air and drinkable water.

Trump’s proposed choice to head Health and Human Services is Representative Tom Price, of Georgia, a twenty-year career Republican, with six terms in Congress and eight years in the Georgia state senate. Strongly supported by the American Medical Association, he’s also a fierce opponent of abortion and federal funding of any form of contraception.

Trump has selected Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive who served as his campaign finance chairman, as his pick for Treasury Secretary.

And for the Labor Department, Trump tapped Andrew F. Puzder, the chief executive of CKE Restaurants – and a donor to his campaign — who has criticized the Obama administration’s labor policies. Maybe I’m overly skeptical, but isn’t appointing a man whose work has been based on cheap fast-food labor setting up a conflict of interest?

The Trump choice for Commerce Secretary is Wilbur Ross, an investor whose fortune is estimated by Forbes to be $2.9 billion and who has advocated steep tariffs on China.

The choice for Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos, who has spent over thirty years as in various capacities in the Republican Party, and was chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for four years. She’s also married to an heir to the five billion dollar DeVos fortune, and an education activist who is a passionate believer in school vouchers and choice.

Trump has also indicated that he is strongly considering Rick Perry, former Republican Governor of Texas, to head the Energy Department. Also, according to sources close to Trump, three Republican members of Congress are also under consideration to head the Interior Department:first-term Republican Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana, Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho, and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.

The only truly “new” faces I’ve seen bruited about so far are Stephen Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News, as chief White House strategist and senior counselor, Wilbur Ross, and Ben Carson, the pick to head up the Department of Urban Development.

Add to that three retired generals, and President-elect Trump’s picks thus far don’t exactly appear likely to change the climate of politics as usual. It looks like three generals, five billionaires or top corporate executives, eleven career politicians, plus Bannon and Carson. Or something like nineteen to two in terms of old style politicians, executives [and generals are certainly executives] and billionaires versus Bannon and Carson. Now, as more names are released, possibly even as this appears, the numbers will change… but I don’t think the overall composition will.

And tell me, again, how this crew is going to improve things.

11 thoughts on “Shaking Things Up?”

  1. JakeB says:

    I am coming to think of it more as the ultimate expression of the Republicans’ 35-year plan to destroy the government by making it work so badly that people hate it.

    How else to explain choosing Pruitt, Perry, DeVos, Price, Puzder and Sessions? If you were to ask “Who is the worst person in the United States to head this federal department or agency?”, these people would all be among the top choices.

    On the other hand, considering how many Republicans we now have claiming that it is impossible that Russia interfered in the US elections, maybe the world has indeed just gone completely mad.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      Large parts of the government already work so badly that abolishing them should be one of the options under consideration.

      Economics and technology, not government, will eventually address environmental issues (real or alleged), and more importantly, sustainability issues.

      As to “racist” views by Sessions, I think that absent certified transcripts or videos or public record of conduct or policy, the left has played the race card so many times that they should by default NOT be believed – indeed, no mere claims by any politician of any party or ideology should ever be believed without substantial supporting documentation.

      1. RRRea says:

        The RACIST (no quotes) remarks by Session are a matter of public record and easily obtainable. Willful ignorance is no excuse for poor analysis. Stop drinking the KoolAid for 10 seconds and look into what you are saying. Sessions is proud of his racism and has never distanced himself from it.

        Ignorance of the way in which government and economics is pretty much de jure, mostly due a lack of proper fundamental education, but that is not likely to get better anytime soon. Because market forces have no immediate profit incentive to make the correction. Which is why capitalism is more of a “race to the bottom” when unregulated than a panacea. Don’t take my word for it, though, actually read easily accessible basic analysis of how economics and politics interact to understand.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          I don’t choose to interpret those remarks as you do, unless you’ve found something I haven’t. I have no great fondness for packs of mostly left-wingers like the ACLU (or most of the time, the NAACP either, for that matter), although I don’t regard them as utterly without value. The rest of the remarks I’ve heard of are trivial or disputed, and in a case where there’s just the accuser and the accused’s word, I prefer to remain skeptical.

          A white guy born in Alabama in ’46 would almost inevitably have been slow to adapt to modern standards of sensitivity. And a lawyer could go both ways on some issues, depending on what they thought the law as it was required, rather than in pursuit of even a worthwhile agenda that the law did not require.

          Clearly he has minority supporters of his character that have known him for decades:

          As for economics, I hope libertarianism wins one day, and poor people that don’t upgrade their skills are left to their fates, unless voluntary private charities (whether groups or individuals) choose to assist. Poverty is NOT a virtue (except for hermits and ascetics), it’s a failure to be effective enough to deal with reality, which should have Darwinian consequences. And with regard to economics and the environment, I think that most environmental issues are VASTLY overrated, but where they’re not, there are also OPPORTUNITIES TO PROFIT from doing the right thing, and even with very little regulation or incentives or disincentives, someone will eventually succeed by pursuing and promulgating them. To put it another way, if there is a situation where there is a planetary crisis and NO way to profit from doing the right thing, we’re going to be dead anyway (given the scale of resources to be diverted to deal with the impending catastrophe), so we might as well be free until then.

      2. Jpib says:

        You must have missed this part…

        “I am coming to think of it more as the ultimate expression of the Republicans’ 35-year plan to destroy the government by making it work so badly that people hate it.”

        Conservatives have long been putting people in positions they weren’t qualified for, or outright had no intent to make their appointment productive. It started before McConnell ever said his only goal was to stop Obama.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          McConnell is not held in high regard by conservatives, even if they also regarded Obama as worth stopping.

          But the best government is the least government (down to some small minimum a bit above zero), and the second-best is deadlocked or otherwise do-nothing government, as long as it doesn’t spend so much of our $$ doing nothing.

  2. Joe says:

    Yeah… “How’s that Swampy Drainy thing working out for you?” to misquote Sarah Palin.

    We had a choice between cholera and gonorrhea, to quote Assange, and now it’s time to suffer. I wonder whether Bernie Sanders would have had any more luck draining the swamp, or whether it is too entrenched to remove via elections.

  3. Howard Brazee says:

    I don’t think the selections were about the Republican plans, unless they were selected to keep the Republicans happy. The Republican establishment doesn’t want Trump either.

    A big trouble with the election is that lots and lots of people want to get rid of everybody in Washington and start over – with the exception of *their* congress critters. Going for a crazy narcissist didn’t do that job.

    The reasons they didn’t like Clinton weren’t really her issues (other than the fact she was friends with Big Money and Big War). That wouldn’t explain the hatred (she’s a witch, and smells like sulfur). What they hate is her superior attitude.

    But the whole world is looking for strong men to solve our problems. And we will pay the price.

  4. Devildog says:

    Despite what Trump’s opponents are doing (and thus not worth listening to right now… they lost), I am withholding judgment until the administration is in office and starts to work. This is just what I did when I voted for Obama the first time. So far, from what I can tell Trumps appointment are all pretty pragmatic and are more results oriented and less dedicated to some sort ridiculous idealism. He is not a Republican, he is a Populist. He will need both sides of the aisle to cooperate in order to improve our economy and thereby improve everyone’s job opportunities. Obama refused to compromise, alienated many voters and helped defeat Clinton because he did such an average job in office. I am interested to see how Trump works.

    1. Frank says:

      I agree with Devildog that we all need to wait and judge Trump, his administration and appointments, by their actions and results. As long as their actions stay within the bounds of legal, their results will tell the tale.

      I was against his election, but he won. Now I believe it is in everyone’s best interest to be as supportive as possible. In other words, play the cards we’ve been dealt.

  5. Wayne Kernochan says:

    As I promised Maitre Modesitt, I am stopping in briefly with a grab-bag of comments. (1) According to one source, Clinton’s popular-vote lead is now up to 2.86 million. (2) I am primarily interested in climate change and climate science, because the consequences are potentially so horrific. R. Hamilton’s notion that economics (I assume he means business, because good macroeconomics suggests that business needs regulation by government) and technology will solve the problem. We’ve known about the problem for 40 years, and it’s been blatantly obvious from the state of the science for 6 years, and yet until 2 years ago business did effectively nothing, only prodded to action via government-aided publicity. Extensive studies by MIT’s B school shows that for most businesses, sustainability remains mostly window dressing. As for technology, not only do such technologies have side-effects, but technologies vary in the time it takes to make them usable — witness the 50-year (and counting) wait for fusion power. Detailed analyses have shown that proposed solutions so far either are likely not to solve the problem or are too far from reality to be sure they can be implemented in a timely fashion. If anything, I believe LEM underestimates the extent to which Trump’s picks evidence his undercutting of meaningful effort about climate change. I would note that Zinke, Bannon, and Tillerson appear to be clearly in the denier camp, while Chao’s husband McConnell has lent undue aid and support to Inhofe.
    (3) It is bitterly amusing to note that while Rick Perry was in his presidential campaigning acting as a climate-science denier, he initiated a program of state-government subsidies for West Texas farmers to supply wind power, which has done quite a bit to reduce Texas’ carbon footprint, not to mention helping WT ranchers far more than business had done since at least Lyndon Johnson’s days. I guess, he said sarcastically, that means that government can do nothing positive or negative with regards to climate change.

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