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A Real Basket of Deplorables: Donald Trump’s Cabinet Nominees

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Let’s face it: if this weren’t so tragic, it would be farcical.  In fact, maybe Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees are intended to put The Onion, that well-known satirical journal, out of business.  Or, maybe the nominations are a weird attempt at post-modern irony, especially since many of them make a mockery of the very Cabinet positions for which they are nominated.  As our new “Celebrity-in-Chief,” maybe Don the Con is previewing a new game show called “The Apprentice Cabinet.”

Whatever the motivation, it is depressingly clear that these nominees are either spectacularly unqualified, right wing zealots of the worst sort, or, in Simon Schama’s words a “cesspool of crony capitalism,” or, in some cases, all three at once.  A regular Trifecta! The Speaker of the California Assembly has provided another triadic and alliterative description: “Bullies, Billionaires, and Bigots.”  My own preference is an admixture of the tv series, “Game of Thrones,” with the Book of Revelation.  So, I would categorize the picks under the Grand Triad of “The Three Dragons of the Apocalypse: Greed, Stupidity, and Authoritarianism.”

I will leave you, gentle reader, with the job of determining under which category or label each nominee would fall.  My task is to introduce this stellar line-up of real life Deplorables for whatever amusement one can take away from these nominees.  What follows is a shorthand (or, backhand) introduction of each in the rough order of their nomination.

* Senator Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions, III for Attorney General. An unreconstructed Southern Redeemer from Alabama where, as the Republican Attorney General, his positions and statements were so racist and reactionary that he couldn’t even get Republican Senators to sign onto President Reagan’s nomination of him for Federal Judge.  A secret member of the Confederacy of Dunces.

* Representative Mike “Vesuvius” Pompeo for CIA Director. A Koch sycophant from Kansas who glows red hot when discussing torture, which he enthusiastically endorses.  Inclined to anti-Islamic extremism.

* Retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense.  Recently retired from the military, he would need a waiver from the Senate requiring 60 votes to assume the position.  Widely known for his lethal advice to his troops: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet!”  He utilized the latter part of this directive as a commander in 2004 in Iraq for massacring thousands of civilians in Fallujah. Deploying internationally outlawed weapons such as white phosphorous and depleted uranium, he would probably need a waiver also from the International Criminal Court.

* Betsy, “the Destroyer,” DeVos for Secretary of Education.  Heir to the Amway fortune of billions of dollars, DeVos is in sync with Trump’s ideological orientation to DeFund and DeValue public education.  A massive contributor to privatization plans for education and right-wing Republicans, DeVos is a long-time proponent of school voucher and charter school programs.

* Representative Tom “Patriarch” Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.  A rich Tea Party Republican from Georgia who is a “peach” of a misogynist and a vicious anti-choice proponent.  He wants to dismantle and/or defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, Medicaid, and Medicare.

* Elaine “Choo-choo” Chao for Secretary of Transportation.  Another millionaire symbol of Republican identity politics, sitting on the boards of such upright corporations as Wells Fargo.  Married to Senator Mitch McConnell, she, at least, has some government experience as labor secretary for George W. Bush.  But who would want to claim any connection to the Bush Administration other than reptiles from the same swamp.

* Wilbur “the Bankrupt King” Ross for Secretary of Commerce.  Among his many deals that have amassed a wealth of several billions, he bought up steel and coal mines that either destroyed the benefits of workers or, actually, in the case of one of his coal mines in West Virginia, destroyed the lives of twelve miners killed in an explosion.  Shares with Trump a love of refusing to disclose investments.

* Steven “Munchkin” Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary.  A hedge fund plutocrat and Hollywood producer, also known as the “foreclosure king” because of his bankster predatory lending and mortgage practices, is a Goldman Sachs alum, favored by both Republicans and Democrats alike.  Now that’s real bi-partisan vulture capitalism!

* Dr. Ben “the Daffy Doc” Carson for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Known for his insights on poverty as “a choice” and the pyramids as “grain storage facilities,” Carson could promote building more of those pyramids in order to house impoverished inner city residents.  Of course, those residents would not receive government “handouts”, but work “handups” to help build the very pyramids into which they would be jammed.

* Retired General John “Rabid Dog” Kelly for Homeland Security.  As the head of Southern Command, he oversaw Guantanamo Bay Prison with all its human rights violations, including the justification of the force-feeding of inmates.  He is particularly keen on further militarization of the border.

* Scott “Fossil Fuel Fibber” Pruitt, Oklahoma Republican Attorney General, for Head of the Environmental Protection (sic) Agency. A climate denier and fancier of fracking, regardless of all of the toxic waste and earthquakes bequeathed to his home state.

* Andy “the Putz” Puzder for Secretary of Labor.  A “where’s the beef” CEO of low-paying fast food franchises like Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr, he opposes raising the minimum wage to a living wage even though his daily compensation is over seventeen thousand dollars.  Also, rants against expanding overtime pay while musing about automating his businesses.  Maybe he should start with automating RoboCops for security at Trump Tower.

It’s hard to imagine how much worse other Cabinet picks could be, but, of course, with Trump trying to match the cronyism and corruption of the Warren G. Harding Administration, we’ll just have to await the other choice nominees. Or, alternatively, we could fight like hell to block every one of these deplorable nominations and resist every move of this “loser” of a President-Elect!

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Fran Shor is a Michigan-based retired teacher, author, and political activist.  

February 19, 2019
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