Here’s the news about Team Trump. See the promises fade away.

Summary: Seeing the truth in politicians’ intentions ranges from difficult to impossible. But people are policy. Watch Trump’s appointments to learn what to expect. So far the indications are that we are in big trouble, and Trump’s talk of populism and throttling back our wars was just another Trumpian con. Here’s the scoop so far. We’ll know for sure in a few weeks.

“Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss.
— “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who.

Donald Trump - thumbs-up

Opening hints: meet the transition team

The Chicago Tribune reports “Meet Frank Gaffney, the anti-Muslim gadfly reportedly advising Trump’s transition team“.  Jessica Schulberg at HufPo said that Gaffney “Is Even More Anti-Muslim Than Donald Trump” — “Here are some of the most Islamophobic theories spun out of the mind of Frank Gaffney.”

That’s small-time madness. For the big time see Trump’s new Chief Strategist: “This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World” by J. Lester Feder at Buzzfeed — “The soon-to-be White House chief strategist laid out a global vision in a rare 2014 talk, one where he said racism in the far right gets ‘washed out’ …” It seems that Trump lives in a Breitbart world, quite different than the real one.

Names of rumored candidates for high posts on Team Trump

Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary — appointed

Mnuchin (Wikipedia) is a the former Goldman Sachs banker who became Trump’s national finance chairman and is said to be the top candidate for Treasury secretary. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, is also rumored to be a contender for the job. Marie Bartiromo of Fox reiterated those rumors today on Twitter.  Reuters said…

“A Trump transition team source told Reuters that Dimon is “pitching hard” for the Treasury role. Another source said Dimon was not interested in the job. Both spoke on condition of anonymity. …Although Dimon has said repeatedly and publicly that he would not want the job,”

It is a choice of Tweedledum or Tweedledee. If Trump appoints a banker as Treasury Secretary, then we know the “populism” talk was just a scam.

Charlie, Lucy, and the football

John Bolton and Rudy Guiliani rumored for Secretary of State

I am no fan of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). But he nails the problems with both of these clownish hawks. “Will Donald Trump betray voters by hiring John Bolton?” at Rare…

“Bolton is a longtime member of the failed Washington elite that Trump vowed to oppose, hell-bent on repeating virtually every foreign policy mistake the U.S. has made in the last 15 years — particularly those Trump promised to avoid as president. John Bolton more often stood with Hillary Clinton and against what Donald Trump has advised. None of this is secret. It’s all out there. Perhaps the incoming administration should take a closer look.

“Bolton was one of the loudest advocates of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and still stupefyingly insists it was the right call 13 years later. “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct,” Bolton said just last year.”

Rand Paul also does not like Rudy Guiliani at Reason (Guiliani has no relevant experience, as Hillary Clinton had none when appointed SecState) …

“In an interview with Reason, Paul described Bolton and Giuliani as representatives of ‘the most bellicose interventionist wing of any party’ and the antithesis of the restrained foreign policy platform Trump ran on. The selection of either man would be a serious betrayal of Trump’s supporters, who wanted a clean break from the rabid interventionism of the past GOP administration. ‘I can’t support anybody to be our secretary of state who didn’t learn the lesson of the Iraq War,’ said Paul.”

Senator Jess Sessions for Secretary of Defense — No; it is General Mattis.

Senator Sessions (Wikipedia) support of the Iraq War is inevitable for a GOP official (for Democrats, also — too bad we don’t have two parties).  But this is unimpressive, and should disqualify him: “VFW attacks the three Republicans who voted against Senate VA bill“, WaPo, 13 June 2014.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Thursday criticized the three Senate Republicans who voted this week against an expensive veterans-affairs bill, saying the lawmakers “put dollars and cents above the interests of the nation’s veterans.” The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), seeks to expand benefits and access to care for former troops. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) opposed the measure because of its costs. They stood alone in voting against the bill, which passed the Senate 93-3 on Wednesday.

…“We need to resist the temptation to create more entitlements and more entitlements, which is one of the reasons we are heading recklessly toward fiscal crisis,” Sessions said on the Senate floor before the vote.  He said Congress should instead focus on “reforms and solutions that improve the quality of service and the effectiveness that is delivered.”

I have written a lot about these (adjective omitted) officials who want our troops to receive substandard care while they talk for bureaucratic changes which seldom come. The VA is grossly underfunded — and that is its largest problem. More important, when our troops are returning home from wars is not the time to make them wait while government officials play organizational games.

Senators and their families should be required to get their health care at regular VA facilities, both in DC and at home.  Let’s see how they like it.

Make coal great again – on the bodies of its miners: Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary

This man understands the benefits of dereguation! “12 Coal Miners Died on This Man’s Watch in 2006” by Zoë Carpenter in The Nation — “Now Trump Wants to Make Him Commerce Secretary. So much for Trump’s supposed commitment to coalfield workers. ”

“After campaigning as a champion of coal miners, Donald Trump is reportedly close to choosing for commerce secretary a New York billionaire who owned a West Virginia mine where a dozen miners were killed in 2006. Trump’s favored candidate, Wilbur Ross, also engineered buyouts that cost workers their benefits and their jobs. It’s a striking choice, considering Trump’s promises to improve the lives of coal miners and other working-class Americans.

“Ross made his money collecting “distressed assets” — failing steel and textile mills in the Midwest and South, and coal mines in Appalachia. Dubbed the “the King of Bankruptcy,” Ross cut jobs, wages, pensions, and health benefits at the companies he acquired, and reaped the profits. In the early 2000s, Ross’s foray into the steel industry netted him a $267 million personal windfall, but stripped health-care benefits from more than 150,000 retired steelworkers.

“One of ICG’s acquisitions in West Virginia was the Sago Mine, about 100 miles east of Charleston. The mine, a non-union operation, racked up a slew of safety violations from federal inspectors—more than 208 in 2005 alone. That year, the roof of the mine collapsed 20 times. Workers at Sago were injured three times as often as workers in similar mines elsewhere. Though Ross claimed not to be part of operating management at Sago, he admitted later that he was aware of the violations, and waved them away.

“Then, early one January morning, methane ignited deep in the mine. The explosion instantly killed one worker and stranded a dozen others about two miles from the mouth of the mine, in a passageway filled with carbon monoxide. It was more than an hour before company managers called for help, and four hours until a rescue team arrived. Nearly two days later, when they finally reached the trapped miners, all but one had died.”

Update: Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor

A CEO with a multi-million dollar income, Puzder opposes minimum wage laws (preferring that they be eroded away by inflation) and overtime regulations. He advocates cuts to social welfare systems. In a truely Orwellian touch, Trump has appointed a modern version of Mr. Potter (the banker from “It’s a Wonderful Life”) as his Secretary of Labor. See Puzder’s background here.

Yet another Goldman banker as top Economic Advisor

Gary D. Cohn, President of Goldman Sachs, is expected to be named director of the National Economic Council, which oversees economic policy in the White House. That gives Goldman a clean sweep of top economic policy jobs on Team Trump. Opposition to Wall Street has been one of the core policies of populists back to President Jackson. This along proves that those who voted for Trump expecting a populist revolution were conned.

New stories about building Trump’s administration

For More Information

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8 thoughts on “Here’s the news about Team Trump. See the promises fade away.”

  1. Something to remember about Trump is that his cabinet members are more likely to be in the seat to take a political bullet for Trump than to drive change throughout the government. I suspect (fear) that the guiding principle of the coming Trump administration in choosing its course will be: “would a reality-based TV show do this to bump up ratings?” As in reality-based TV shows, expect acrimony to follow.

    As you noted in yesterday’s column, Trump is quite obviously shedding his populist leanings to be able to make deals with the 1% and the Washington elite. This leads back to a question I asked a year ago, we both believed that populism could survive a Trump defeat, can it survive his victory? Only time will tell.

    1. “would a reality-based TV show do this to bump up ratings?”
      That is a very interesting way to look at Trump’s choices. Maybe he’s just going for entertainment, picking certain people only to later tell them “You’re fired!”?
      If correct, it might offer a unique insight into the way the man thinks – not so much about specific politics and policies, but more in terms of emotion, entertainment, and drama.
      Scott Adams seems to think that Trump planned for the whole presidential election to play out like the plot of a movie:

  2. No surprises really. We’ve been through these things a few times before. Too bad we don’t have two Parties is really the key. Who or what group does he have to pick from anyway? Not defending the choices just pointing out reality. Sessions, Corker, the GS guy, Rudy etc etc. troglodytes, dinosaurs. Bannon I’ll read up on. Not much time on Breitbart in days past.

    Safe to say that this is the beginning. They want it All! And they are organized and know power and are going to run the Truck right into the Abutment. The brakes are worn out. The Dems are in shambles. Weak, weak, weak. Delusional.
    I mean Trump (and. Bernie, too) lied about bringing the jobs back!
    What else do you need to know?

    The underlying reality that gave rise to Populist demands and rhetoric will not disappear.
    What is worrying is how it will grow and find expression over the next few years.
    Doubt it would take all that much to start to throttle this class war stuff but we sure don’t have much to work with, now do we.
    That Full Moon we see is a Bad One rising.


  3. Reports from hysterical America

    Every US President in this century has been called Hitler by the opposition. We’ve become hysterics. We enjoy the posturing, and self-dramatization.

    “Luckily, I’ll probably be in some political prison by 2018.”
    Erik Loomis, Assistant Professor of History at U RI.

  4. Paul Krugman goes hysterical

    Our Unknown Country” in the NYT.

    “Is America a failed state and society? It looks truly possible.”

    The Fund for Peace runs the “Failed State” index, measuring “State fragility”. They define it as

    “A state that is fragile has several attributes, and such fragility may manifest itself in various ways. Nevertheless, some of the most common attributes of state fragility may include:

    • The loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force;
    • The erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions;
    • An inability to provide reasonable public services;
    • The inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.

    “The twelve CAST indicators, upon which the Fragile States Index is based, cover a wide range of state failure risk elements such as extensive corruption and criminal behavior, inability to collect taxes or otherwise draw on citizen support, large-scale involuntary dislocation of the population, sharp economic decline, group-based inequality, institutionalized persecution or discrimination, severe demographic pressures, brain drain, and environmental decay. States can fail at varying rates through explosion, implosion, erosion, or invasion over different time periods.”

    Their 2016 index show the most severely failed states are Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Chad, and the Congo. They rate the US as “Very Stable”.

    Being a pundit in America means using words while ignoring their meaning — with no fear that your followers will react to your falsehoods. There is no reality-based community in America.

  5. Professor Stephen Walt gets hysterical

    A bold announcement by Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard University. This happens by “electing Trump”, before Trump appoints anyone, takes office, or does anything. No evidence needed to support it, since he here similar views from most at Harvard.

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