Donald Trump’s election as president will be a disaster for America; it will be compounded into a catastrophe with his possible Cabinet appointments.
As the host of the popular TV game show, “The Apprentice,” Trump demonstrated his self-proclaimed leadership skills by identifying potential business successes. A testament to his unique talent is evident in the limited accomplishments of those who he selected.
Often overlooked, a remarkable testament to his leadership was demonstrated when a half-dozen former show winners publicly denounced his candidacy. In April, Randal Pinkett, who won Season 4 of “The Apprentice,” declared, “Because our allegiance to our country supersedes our relationship with Donald, we see today as an act of patriotism and not disloyalty.” Speaking for six former winners, he added, “Today, we denounce Donald’s campaign of sexism, xenophobia, racism, violence and hate as a unified team.“
Trump’s dubious executive capabilities will be seriously tested in terms of those he chooses to serve in his Cabinet – of those who will run the vast federal bureaucracy. To date, a variety of media sources have identified reputed choices for his Cabinet positions. As with all things Trump, no one really knows what he’s got up his sleeve as to whom he will finally appoint.
The following is a provisional list of some of the individuals identified by media sources as possible Trump Cabinet nominees.
* Treasury = investor Carl Icahn; Jack Welch, former head of General Electric; investment banker Henry Kravis; and former Goldman Sacks executive, Steve Mnuchin.
* Defense = retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency; and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a member the House Armed Services Committee.
* State = Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL); and John Bolton, former UN ambassador.
* Attorney General = Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ); Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL); and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
* Energy = Sarah Palin, former VP candidate; and Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).
* Health & Human Service = retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), a registered nurse opposed to Obama Care.
* Interior = Donald Trump, Jr., a knock off the block; Sarah Palin; Forrest Lucas, co-founder of Lucas Oil and an outspoken opponent of animal rights.
* Homeland Security = Joe Arpaio, Maricopa (AZ) County Sheriff; and Rudi Guiliani, former NYC mayor.
It remains an open question as to whether any of the people identified as possible nominees will be proposed or appointed to Trump’s Cabinet. What is clear, however, is that all those identified are a remarkable collection of reactionaries.
Collectively, they can be counted on to seek to fulfill Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again,” thus turning the historical clock back to the grand old days of a post-WW-II U.S., days of foreign imperialist plunder and domestic anti-subversive repression. Together with Trump, the Cabinet will only make worse the difficulties the U.S. faces as globalization restructures the nation and the world order.
Each of the possible Cabinet nominees comes to his/her possible leadership position with significant baggage, a long, long history of questionable practices. Their pasts suggest how awful they might be in the Cabinet and how truly reactionary a Trump presidency could possible be. And none more so than Rudolph Giuliani.
* * *
New York City was traumatized by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In the wake of 9/11, the mythology of modern political branding recast Giuliani into “America’s Mayor.” Giuliani was a former federal prosecutor who, when the attacks took place, was coming to the end of his second term in office. At a news conference two weeks after the attacks, on September 26th, he argued that the city needed political leaders who “think outside the box” to facilitate the post-attack recovery.
According to an ABC News report, he argued, “I don’t want a job … I want an approach.” ABC goes on to note, “Sources close to Giuliani said he planned to speak to New York Gov. George Pataki and leaders of the state Legislature in an attempt to get them to extend or change the term limits law that otherwise would force the mayor to leave office on Dec. 31.” He sought a six months extension of his term, but gained little traction. The newly-elected mayor, Mike Bloomberg, took office on January 1, 2002.
Giuliani served as mayor for eight long years, 1994-2001, and is credited by some with “cleaning up” the city. Over the following decade-and-a-half, he built his business – and dubious political — career on this fiction and will likely seek to exercise the same questionable practices if appointed Sec. of Homeland Security. Over this period, urban crime, “squeegee men” and Times Square’s illicit attractions were the hallmarks of his legacy.
In the wake of WW-II, New York fell victim to suburbanization and white flight; city life suffered, with Times Square the epicenter of the deepening crisis. Over the following two decades, Times Square continued to flounder amidst the city’s changing fortunes and administrations. John Lindsey (mayor from 1965-1973) established the Office of Midtown Planning and Development to clean up the midtown west area, targeting massage parlors, spas, single-room occupancy hotels (SRO), peep shows, live burlesque shows and adult book and video stores. Ed — “How’m I doin’?” — Koch (1978 to 1989) picked up the baton promoting the area’s revitalization, but with limited results.
During David Dinkins’ tenure (1990-1993), Times Square began to turn around. In 1990, Viacom, Nickelodeon and MTV moved into 1515 Broadway and, in 1992, Bertelsmann AG bought 1540 Broadway. In ’93, Morgan Stanley acquired 1585 Broadway and the Walt Disney Company took over the New Amsterdam Theater. According to William Stern, former headed the city’s Urban Development Corporation, Times Square’s turn around began under Dinkins was due to three interrelated factors – the adoption of a tough anti-crime campaign; rezoning to remove the flesh trade; and generous tax giveaways to “big businesses willing to locate in the area” like George Klein’s Park Tower Realty ($240 million) and Morgan Stanley ($40 million).
When Giuliani took over as mayor, he invoked the image of squeegee man as the symbol of the city’s deepening financial and social crisis. These were poor guys who stood on street corners, approached a car when it stopped at a stoplight, sprayed glass clear on the front window and wiped the dirt off seeking – often demanding — a tip for services rendered. As Michael Tomasky reveals in a New York magazine exposé of Giuliani’s policies, the police discovered that there were only “about 75 or so squeegee men” in the city. But squeegee men were just one target of the mayor intensive war on urban crime. Working closely with police commissioner Bill Bratton, Giuliani combined a “broken windows” program with overwhelming force to foster a climate of police terror throughout the city. It was epitomized by the cases of Amadou Diallo (police officers shot him 41 times for no crime) and Abner Louima (police sodomized with a plunger for scuffling with cops when he tried to break up a fight). Giuliani also had numerous confrontations with black political leaders that were, according to Tomasky, “sometimes totally unnecessary, antagonized huge chunks of the populace.”
While “America’s Mayor” takes credit for bring down crime in the city, as Tomasky points out, crime started to fall during the Dinkins years. It “dropped by 7 percent in 1993, under Dinkins. In 1994, it dropped by 12 percent. Then 16 percent in 1995 and another 16 percent in 1996.” He notes that by 1996, homicides fell below 1,000 “for the first time in decades.”
Giuliani faced one of his biggest challenges over the city’s mounting budget deficit. Instead of raising taxes or, for example, increasing tolls on the East River bridges as advocated by Dinkins, he implemented severe budget cuts. He targeted the neediest group – and one of the weakest political constituencies – of welfare recipients to pay the price. Tomasky notes, “by the end of 1996, the city’s welfare rolls had declined from nearly 1.2 million to 950,000, and they kept declining thereafter.”
To secure his voting block, Giuliani protected the police, fire and teachers through an igneous scheme colluding with the major unions. Tomasky explains it as follows: “The city would lay off, per se, no workers. Instead it would offer severance packages—a lump-sum payment and health-care benefits for one year— encouraging employees to leave the public sector and seek private-sector jobs.” He concludes, “In return, the unions would agree to greater flexibility in hiring rules.”
Giuliani is a Roman Catholic who plays the religion card on an as-needed based. He has been taken to task for his numerous divorces and hosting a gay marriage. Nevertheless, he took-up the campaign to “clear up” Times Square first promoted by Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1930s and then picked up by Lindsey in the late-‘60s/early-‘70s.
Giuliani pushed the moralist agenda further, targeting “adult-use establishments,” includes shops selling porn magazines and sex toys, X-rate movie theatres and topless bars as well as streetwalkers and gay hookups. He promoted the Adult Entertainment Establishment Zoning Law that prohibited such businesses within 500 feet of a residential district. Similar laws were adopted in Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles and, when challenged by civil liberties groups, the New York case went all the way to the Supreme Court that found such restrictions constitutional.
* * *
Giuliani is a closet tyrant, one who yearns for a position of authority to exercise his mean-spirited sense of power. Under Giuliani, Homeland Security can be expected to morph into the domestic policing version of the U.S. military. Serving at once under Trump’s neo-fascist totalitarian inclinations and his own authoritarian tendencies, Giuliani would very likely seek to implement the domestic side of the national security state.
Giuliani, like Christie, is one of Trump’s most ardent champions, accompanying the candidate, like a snarling, drooling pit-bull, to innumerable campaign rallies. He apparently drinks from the same water bowl of self-serving memory as Trump, mysteriously remaking history to suit his immediate political needs. At the Republican convention, he invoked an apocalyptically warning in his call for Trump’s election, “There’s no next election. This is it! There’s no more time left to revive our great country.” Recently, he claimed that Trump was “the one who got him [Obama] to finally produce the birth certificate.”
Most demented, in an effort to promote Trump’s dubious national security plan, Giuliani claimed that in the “eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States.” He not merely omitted the largest terror attack in U.S. history and George Bush’s role, but forgot his own role as “America’s Mayor.”
If you want to imagine an American nightmare, picture Trump as president and Giuliani as head of Homeland Security.