Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trump Has Assembled The Worst Cabinet In U.S. History

(This image of Trump's cabinet is from

It's happened. We now have a narcissistic, racist, incompetent in the White House. There are those who believe that Trump will be mostly a figurehead, and leave the real governing to others. I doubt that. He just has too high an opinion of himself to leave most decisions to others.

But even if he did, I'm not sure whether that would be better or worse. The cabinet he has assembled is a terrible one, and might well do even worse at governing than Trump himself.

Consider that he appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General (a position with the mandate to protect civil and voting rights) a man known to have a history of racist views. Then you have Rick Perry who didn't even know what the Department of Energy does (the department he will head). He thought it was just an ambassadorship for the oil and gas industry, and had no idea he would be in charge of overseeing nuclear plants along with the nuclear arsenal of the United States.

And if those two picks aren't scary enough, here's how the Washington Post describes some of Trump's other (equally scary) cabinet picks.

Let’s run through some of the other highlights of the Trump cabinet and cabinet-level appointees:
  • Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury: Mnuchin has never served in government and has no experience in setting macroeconomic policy, but he did lead Donald Trump’s fundraising effort. In advance of his confirmation hearing, Mnuchin “failed to disclose his interests in a Cayman Islands corporation as well as more than $100 million in personal assets.”
  • Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services: Rep. Price, a doctor who has taken a particular interest in legislating on health care, has a habit of trading in health care stocks that are affected by the legislation he writes; he also recently got a “sweetheart deal” on stock in a foreign biotech firm. 
  • Betsy DeVosSecretary of Education: DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor, has spent much of her adult life attempting to destroy public education in America. Despite that work, at her confirmation hearing she displayed a shocking ignorance of basic issues in education policy, though she did opine that schools should be able to have guns in them to ward off grizzly bear attacks.
  • Andrew Puzder, Secretary of Labor: If Trump had searched America to find the individual most hostile to the rights of workers, he could not have done much better than Puzder, the CEO of a fast-food company. The man who will be responsible for safeguarding workers’ rights is an ardent opponent of minimum wage increases and laws mandating things like break time and overtime pay; his company has been repeatedly cited for wage theft. 
  • Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: The former presidential candidate, who has precisely zero experience in housing policy, was apparently appointed to lead this department because he’s one of the few African-Americans Donald Trump has met.
  • Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Mulvaney was just revealed to have employed a nanny without paying payroll taxes for her, to the tune of over $15,000.
  • Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce: The billionaire investor just realized that one of the dozen or so household staff he employs was undocumented. 
  • Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior: Rep. Zinke is a former Navy Seal whose career was hampered by the fact that he was caught repeatedly billing the government for personal trips home which he falsely claimed were for the purpose of scouting training locations. 
  • Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Like Puzder and DeVos, Pruitt seems to have been chosen for his fervent opposition to the mission of the agency he’ll be leading. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA multiple times over its efforts to enforce environmental laws. In his confirmation hearings, he refused to commit to recuse himself from the cases among those that are still open, in the apparent belief that there isn’t anything wrong with essentially being both plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit. When asked about lead poisoning, a vital and longstanding environmental issue that gained new urgency with the poisoning of the water in Flint, MI, he said that he had “not looked at the scientific research on that.”
  • Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser: Flynn, an ardent Islamophobe and purveyor of lunatic conspiracy theories, was fired from his last job in government because of mismanagement.
  • Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State: Tillerson has no government or diplomatic experience, though he has been to many countries that have oil.
  • Nikki Haley, United Nations Ambassador: Haley’s foreign policy experience consists of going on a couple of trade missions as governor of South Carolina.
That’s not to mention the sub-cabinet appointments who are already in trouble, like the Army secretary who punched out a concession worker at a horse auction or the national security spokesperson revealed as a plagiarist, nor the fact that Trump’s senior adviser used to run a white nationalist web site and the President-elect intends to employ his family members, all while insisting again and again that ethics laws don’t apply to him.
While prior presidents have had some miserable appointments — James Watt and Anne Gorsuch in the Reagan administration, Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown and Alberto Gonzales in George W. Bush’s — never before has one president assembled such a remarkable collection of individuals who are either unqualified for their jobs, devoted to subverting their agencies, or both, not to mention the ethical questions that will continue to swirl around this administration. 
We expect the Republican contempt for government to be evident to some degree in the appointments of any GOP administration. But Donald Trump has truly blazed a new trail with the people he has gathered around him. One can only imagine the damage they’re going to do.
I honestly don't know which is worst -- Trump or his cabinet. Together they scare the hell out of me.

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