Illustration by JAMES EDMISTON
BY WILLIAM C. HENRY In the final days of the election, Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of corruption and self-dealing that is our nation’s capital. No more lobbyists. No more career politicians. No more corporate vultures. No more bribes disguised as campaign contributions. No more globalist middle class job exporters. Can’t argue with that — Lord knows the DC swamp is filled to the brim with snakes and vermin and leeches and covered in pond scum. So, now that the bulk of Trump’s cabinet nominees have been announced, let’s see if he kept his word:
Stephen K. Bannon, Chief Strategist: It’s impossible to know why even a bottom feeder like Trump would appoint a known radical Alt-Right asshole-magnet, Nazi-coddler, racist-enabler, bigot herder, misogynistic anti-Semite and unabashed white supremacist slob like Stephen K. Bannon to be his Chief Strategist. The only knowable reason I can come up with is that Trump recognized beforehand that such an appointment wouldn’t have to face approval by the Senate (his position as Trump’s “personal propagandist” isn’t classified as that of a Cabinet member) and decided, “The hell with ‘em, I simply adore what he stands for.” Alone, the fact that a dirtbag like Bannon will enjoy the same access to Trump as that of his Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, should tell you just about all you need to know about the illegitimate POTUS-elect.
Donald F. McGahn, White House Counsel: McGahn will serve as the President’s personal lawyer and one of his most intimate policy shapers. The scary thing here is that McGahn’s top priority throughout most of his bottom-feeding life as a lawyer (including a disastrous stint as Chairman of the Federal Election Commission) has been to “further” DEREGULATE campaign spending. Yes, folks, you read that correctly: he wants to FURTHER “deregulate” campaign spending oversight to the point of NONE AT ALL! And in so far as the only way campaign financing can possibly be FURTHER deregulated is to hold open auctions of the candidates with total control of their actions while in office being awarded to the highest bidder, we should be afraid, folks, we should be VERY afraid! I mean, why would Trump appoint a man to a position of closest advisement whose views on money in politics represent EVERYTHING OTHER THAN what he himself CLAIMS to represent?!
Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services: It’s one thing to appoint a doctor to head up the Department of Health and Human Services; it’s another thing entirely to have the appointee turn out to be a real-life threat to the intelligence, health and safety of the elderly, the infirmed, the lower and middle classes, women, infants and children! A little background: For the dozen years he has been in national politics Price has vehemently opposed/voted against any and all funding for, a) National Public Radio, b) the Affordable Care Act — and to this day wants to see coverage for pre-existing conditions ABOLISHED, c) the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, d) taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns, e) the Federal Housing Authority’s refinancing program, and f) coverage for abortions regardless of necessity by ANY insurance plan — government sponsored OR private (he is rated 0 by Planned Parenthood), and that’s just the beginning.
Jeff Sessions, Attorney General: The Alabama Slammer Jammer, Sessions liked to lock ‘em up and throw away the key as Alabama Federal prosecutor. Probably no coincidence that the overwhelming majority of “‘em” were black. Given to calling black colleagues ‘Boy’, Sessions once joked that “I used to think the Ku Klux Klan was OK, then I learned that they smoke pot.” Both of which got him denied a federal judgeship appointment from the Reagan administration (he framed and imprisoned the two African American men that testified against him before Congress in retaliation) and he’s been putting the Jim back in Crow in his little corner of the Senate ever since. No wonder neo-Nazi-in-chic-clothing Richard Spencer and his Alt-Right goon squad sieg heiled Sessions’s appointment as Attorney General. According to The Intercept, Sessions “opposed the Violence Against Women Act, the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and the expansion of anti-hate legislation to include sexual orientation. He fought the removal of the Confederate flag from public buildings, immigration reform, and criminal justice reform.” He was really pissed when SCOTUS ruled that exterminating the “retarded” is unconstitutional. Did I mention that Sessions has spent fully the past 30 years opposing civil right laws of ANY kind and that he’ll now be in charge of ENFORCING them?! Then there’s the miles-long legislative streak of black voter suppression. He’s adept in the dark arts of George Wallace-style Dixiecrat thuggery.
Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor: Up until recently Flynn was widely respected amongst the grandees of the security state, but went off the deep end after being fired from the Obama administration for undisclosed reasons and has been waging jihad against Obama and Hillary Clinton ever since. An avid consumer of fake news and peddler of ludicrous partisan conspiracy theories, Flynn recently tweeted that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” along with a video claiming that “Islam … wants 80 percent of humanity enslaved or exterminated,” and a link to an article from a fake news site claiming that the NYPD was about to arrest Hillary Clinton for “sex crimes with minors,” among other charges. Also, he seems a little too smitten with Putin. I’m leery — if not downright scared to death — of anyone who thinks ANY form of “cozying up” to or with a piece of lying, sociopathic, narcissistic, excremental totalitarianism like Putin is a good idea.
Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education: If Betsy has her way, you can expect to see a charter school opening near you. And, trust me, that’s a prospect you might want to do a great deal of researching about before joining any “pro-charter” marches in your area. Believe me, there ARE two sides to this argument and there definitely have been and continue to be instances where bad inevitabilities are far outweighing great expectations. Your sons’ and/or daughters,’ grandsons’ and/or granddaughters’ futures could very well be formed — or ruined — by the time it’s too late to remedy the outcome of the much vaunted Charter “revolution” in education. Did I mention that she also has a long history of supporting anti-gay causes?!
Steven Terner Mnuchin, Secretary of Treasury: All you need to know is that this hedge fund hog began his career at Goldman Sachs, became a partner, started his own billion dollar hedge fund, bought a bank of his own in a sweetheart deal with the government, moved to Hollywood and made another bundle bankrolling hit movies like Mad Max: Fury Road. Oh, BTW, he’s also vowed to deregulate Wall Street! What a shockeroo! During the Great Recession, Mnuchin was America’s Forecloser-in-Chief, his OneWest bank was singlehandedly responsible for an astonishing 36,000 foreclosures which accounted for nearly 40 percent of all reverse mortgage foreclosures after the housing collapse — all the while pocketing more than a BILLION DOLLARS worth of FDIC payments from the federal government. The elderly were singled out for especially cruel and heartless treatment — OneWest foreclosed on a 90-year-old over 27 cents!
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce: Savior of the long suffering jobless Rust Belt whites that swept Trump into office on a wave of blind anger? Naw, he’s actually just another multi-billionaire Wall Street insider, big-time Trump campaign donor and longtime crony, who helped him resurrect Trump’s casino company after it went bankrupt in the early 1990s. A pitiless vulture capitalist of uncommon ruthlessness, Ross made his billions fucking the working man. Hard. For more on that, let’s quote at length from the Philadelphia Daily News’ Will Bunch:
[Wilbur Ross is] the billionaire former owner of Upshur County’s Sago Mine, which collapsed in 2006 — killing 12 miners — after a mounting list of safety violations was ignored at what union leaders say was a dangerous, exploitative “doghole mine.” Ross did ultimately pay out $2 million to the families of the 12 men and a 13th survivor, but relatives say it was too little, too late. “It’s easy to throw a couple million afterward instead of spending a few million ahead of time to save men’s lives in the first place,” Kevin Sharp, one of those family members, told ABC News.
Ross, the so-called “king of bankruptcy” who looks for bargain-basement for companies to strip and sell for a handsome profit, had only bought Sago’s prior owner after a bankruptcy judge had agreed to squash its union benefits. Two years after the collapse, Ross’s firm closed Sago and his International Coal Group eventually sold out, for a healthy profit, to new owners who’ve laid off many of the remaining miners.
Now, as Commerce Secretary, Ross will be President-elect Trump’s point man for using his Midas touch to revitalize the economy and, allegedly, make America great again for coal miners, steelworkers, and other struggling Rust Belt and rural blue-collar voters who formed the backbone of The Donald’s winning coalition. I write “allegedly” since there’s no actual evidence that Ross or Trump’s recent pick to run the Treasury Department — hedge-funder and former “foreclosure machine” chief Steve Mnuchin — know anything about actually creating stable, well-paying jobs with good benefits.
What do these billionaires of Trump’s swamp-definitely-not-drained Cabinet like Ross and Mnuchin know how to do? Squeeze millions from struggling industries and their workers. Stomp all over pension plans for aging workers. Move jobs overseas if there’s an extra dollar or two to be made. Foreclose on mortgage holders at the drop of a hat, or on the basis of a dumb mistake — especially if the homeowner is black or Latino. Devastate unions that might fight for living wages or affordable health plans
So, let’s not kid ourselves, the swamp has not been drained. Quite the contrary, swollen and muddy from the shitstorm of Trump’s victory, it’s overtopping the levee, and the president-elect has invited the alligators into the house.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.