2016 In Review: America Off The Rails, Part 6
A man with a plan
Yesterday we began our look at the great Americans who have been named by President-elect Trump to the highest ranks of the Executive Branch. It's not exactly the band of swamp-draining populist fighters-for-the-people one might have expected from his campaign rhetoric. In fact, it is so heavily weighted with pillars of our elites, not to mention pillars of prosperity, that I dubbed them Comrade Trump's New Russian Oligarchs. Tonight let's complete our survey of the team he has assembled to help him Make America Great Again.
10. Labor Secretary Andy Puzder
(estimated worth: $25 million)
Known to be an enthusiastic misogynist, Andy is the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. dude. Hates minimum wage; not just raising it, the whole damn idea! The Center for American Progress says he makes “more in one day than a fast food worker in one of his fine establishments makes in a year.” He's an in your face kind of a-hole.
11. Attorney General Jeff Sessions
(estimated worth: $7.5 million)
Alabama $en. Jeff Sessions lives in a state of near poverty compared with most of the key people in the Trump gang, but they let him into the club anyway. He has redeeming qualities for them. One, he has a lot of $enate experience. Two, he has great racist cred. In fact, in 1986 Sessions' nomination to a federal judgeship was rejected by the $enate Judiciary Committee. Former colleagues had testified that he freely used the n-word and joke that he thought the KKK was OK until he found out that several members of that esteemed organization were known to smoke weed.
In other words, Sessions is a Trump kind of guy through and through. For his republican colleagues in the $enate, what's not to like? He is a proponent of voter suppression tactics — the Southern Poverty Law Center calls his inclusion in Trump's inner circle “a tragedy for American politics.” He was the first $enator to get behind the Trump candidacy, and was an adviser to him throughout his campaign, particularly when it came to immigration matters. He is also a military hawk and a climate-change denier.
Will the wimpy democrats find it in themselves to oppose Sessions? Dream on.
12. National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn
(estimated worth: unknown)
Flynn is a registered democrat, but that's as far as it goes. He worked with the administration of President Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, but left, probably due to his extremist views on Islam which include the right's age-old claims that we will end up with Sharia law here in the United States.
He is an experienced intelligence officer with some interesting baggage and contradictions in his past. But what overshadows everything about Flynn right now is his belief in and promotion of the Pizzagate Conspiracy, a conspiracy that says Hillary Clinton is a big part of a non-existent child-sex ring being run out of the back of a suburban Washington pizza restaurant. A shooting incident has already happened in the restaurant, and polls show that 50% of republican voters are demented enough to believe the conspiracy is real. Even some democrats do.
Well, we already knew that the republican party runs on conspiracy. We also already knew that Comrade Trump is a big fan of Alex Jones. Now we will have government by conspiracy.
13. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
(estimated worth: $150 million)
Tillerson is currently the CEO of Exxon, the non-taxpaying taxpayer-subsidized oil megacompany. He is a personal friend and business partner of the world's richest man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Right now, their joint-venture oil enterprise in Russia is burdened with sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 by the United States, Canada, and the European Union as a reaction to Putin's Crimea and Ukraine policies.
That all stands to change once Comrade Trump takes power on January 20. The personal wealth of both Tillerson and Putin will explode exponentially once the Trump administration lifts the sanctions. Call it sanctioned corruption. Call it conflict of interest. You can call it lots of things.
14. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt
(estimated worth: unknown)
Pruitt is the attorney general of Oklahoma, the reddest state in our country. What Comrade Trump adores about him is that he has spent his career as a puppet of Big Oil and is a climate-change denier on call. He has spent most of his time as Oklahoma's AG filing lawsuits against the EPA. Well, how's that for sending a clear signal on your intentions? Pruitt even has a history of letting an oil company (Devon Oil) write some of his correspondence.
He longs to end the EPA. Said May Boeve of environmental advocacy group 350.org:
You couldn't pick a better fossil fuel industry puppet. Pruitt formed a secret alliance with oil and coal companies to gut our regulations and has defended ExxonMobile's climate cover-up. This is a man who cares more about the profits of coal company CEOs than the health of our children or the future of our planet.
Of course, Beove could say the same thing about Comrade Trump.
In a better world, Pruitt would be made to drink oil out of the can, or at least a glass of lead-contaminated water every day, but come to think of it, judging by his “reasoning,” he's been doing that for years.
15. Energy Secretary Rick Perry
(estimated worth: $2 million; estimated IQ: south of 60)
Perry has wowed Americans for years now with his brilliant off-the-cuff thinking on nationally televised debates and in other forums. One wonders if his sole purpose in life is to make other republicans look compos mentis by comparison. If so, he's managed to do a very tough job, so let's give him some credit. Perry comes from Texas, where he served Big Oil as governor. He's even on the board of the company that wants to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.
President Obama's two energy secretaries were nuclear physicists. Does Rick Perry know his ass from a hole in the ground? Take another look at the immortal clip above, and you decide.
16. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
(estimated wealth: $800,000)
Zinke, a republican congressman from Montana, has dedicated his career to digging up as much coal, gas and oil as possible. He is that neighborhood labrador with issues which goes around digging as many holes in the back yard as possible, or maybe he's a one-man pack of gophers ruining a beautiful golf course. One thing for sure is that his dreams of planetary conquest would make the Earth look like the pock-marked surface of the moon in no time.
By the way, Zinke comes from the Montana town of Whitefish, which lately turns out to be a hotbed of white supremacy and anti-semitic activity – an anti-semitic march is planned there for Martin Luther King Day. Whitefish, you see, is also the home of the infamous “Hail Trump” guy, Richard Spencer.
And Spencer's white-nationalist group is calling for the march in order to rally “against Jews, Jewish business and everyone who supports either.” I'm sure that the nomination of a man who is the elected representative of such a fine community to a Trump cabinet position is all just a coincidence, though.
17. Defense Secretary Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis
(estimated worth: $5 million)
The selection of General Mattis to head up the Pentagon is a break with 65 years of American history, when Congress passed a law allowing retired five-star Gen. George Marshall, after serving two years as secretary of state, overseeing the Marshall Plan for the postwar rebuilding of Europe, to serve as secretary of defense but expressed Congress's “sense” that “no additional appointments of military men to that office shall be approved.”
Mattis is on record as saying that he thinks Putin's intentions towards NATO are to break it up. Trump has expressed Putin-like negative sentiments about NATO and Mattis has said he believes Trump's favorable statements statements towards Putin and Russia are “Ill-informed.” This will make it interesting to see how many republicans vote in favor of confirming Mattis, or at least what questions, if any, might be asked.
18. Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly
(estimated worth: $4 million)
General Kelly is a four-star Marine general who has spent four decades in the military. Two of his sons have served, one of whom died in combat in Afghanistan. He is that rare choice among Trump's picks in that he has real-life job experience that he can draw on in his new job. His background running the U.S. Southern Command put him in charge of Gitmo, and he oversaw issues relating to immigration and drug-trafficking. Whether or not he makes the right moves remains to be seen, but, unlike most of Trump's picks, you can see some logic. He's no Ben Carson, Tom Price, or Linda McMahon, and as far as I know, he doesn't believe Hillary Clinton is running a pedophile palace out of the back of a pizza parlor.
THERE YOU HAVE IT: GOVERNMENT BY OLIGARCHY
There are three generals (not including the chiefs of the actual service branches), at least one of whom is showing evidence of insanity by seeing a pedophile ring in a popular restaurant, just for starters. There are also three Goldman Sachs people (so much for swamp-draining), and the cabinet is rife with people like Rick Perry and Scott Pruitt, who are on record as wanting to dismantle the agency they will head. Comrade Trump is basically saying have at it!
Are the farcical Perry and Carson meant to be shiny object distractions? Are they present to distract the media and the voters from the truly evil ones like Sessions, Mnuchin, and Tillerson? This is serious stuff, not a joke. Comrade Trump looks more and more every day like a Manchurian President. Whose President is he? If you're sane, it's not hard to read Trump; it's just that most of us are decent people who don't want to believe that anyone would do this to us. We also have an alarmingly short memory. But if Comrade Trump says, “How dare you! You stole my wallet!,” I would seriously check your own pockets.
As of this writing Comrade Trump has yet to name an agriculture secretary. I suspect he will just choose a gold-painted drum of Monsanto's uber-carcinogenic Round Up, or, maybe like in the fab film Idiocracy he'll decree that American crops shall be watered with a Gatorade-like sports drink called Brawndo.
I didn't even mention Monica Crowley. She's not cabinet-level, but she will be Trump's director of communications for the National Security Council. She once “communicated” the idea that President Obama is not black. Well, like others in the Trump administration, she does come from FOX “News,” so what do you expect?
2016 IN REVIEW: AMERICA OFF THE RAILS
Noah's annual Year in Review thus far:
Part 1, “Profiles in Cowardice: The Electoral College” (12/23/2016)
Part 2, “Republican Of The Year Nominee #1: Newt Gingrich” (12/27/2016)
Part 3, “The Trumpf Inauguration Committee Finds The Perfect Inauguration Entertainment At Last!” (12/29/2016)
Part 4, “Republican Of The Year Nominee #2: R-R-Reince Priebus” (1/2/2017)
Part 5, “Comrade Trump: The World’s Worst Cabinet Maker, Believe Me — Meet The New Russian Oligarchs! (1)” (1/4/2017)
Part 6, “Comrade Trump: The World’s Worst Cabinet Maker, Believe Me — Meet The New Russian Oligarchs! (2)” (today)
Part 7, “Republican Of The Year Nominee #3: Governor Edition” (coming soon)
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis