5 Huge (And Under-Reported) Problems With Trump's Cabinet
Being chosen to serve in the Cabinet of the president of the United States, which houses the heads of the federal executive departments, puts you under a lot of scrutiny. In the past, candidates could be disqualified because they hired undocumented workers as nannies (even when it wasn't against the law), or for suggesting that "perhaps" schools should teach students about masturbation to combat the spread of AIDS, which got a Surgeon General in the 1990s fired. But that almost seems adorable in 2017, when we're faced with the kinds of candidates who appear so implausibly misinformed or downright villainous that they make Donald Trump's Cabinet seem more like the cabinet of Dr. Caligari. For example ...
Jeff Sessions, Trump's Attorney General Pick, Has Spent Decades Opposing Civil Rights
We don't know how much you've been paying attention to the news about Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (who is incidentally named after the Confederate president), but he's a man with few prejudices, provided you aren't a member of the black or LGBTQ community. But we're sure that wanting to undermine the civil rights of just about everyone he hasn't gone golfing with won't have a negative impact on him being Attorney General, the position for which Trump has tapped him.
Also, his official Congressional photograph somehow looks like a fifth-grade yearbook photo.
When he was a district attorney in Alabama in the 1980s, Sessions prosecuted three people for the crime of dropping the absentee ballots of elderly black voters off at the post office, charging them with mail fraud and conspiracy, for which they faced over 100 years in prison. Clearly, he was trying to send a message to someone, and we're guessing that someone was "black people trying to vote in Alabama." During a confirmation hearing for his appointment to a Reagan judgeship, several people testified that he had made racist comments in front of them, including calling a black man "boy," declaring a white civil-rights lawyer a race traitor, and liberally using the n-word in private. The testimony ultimately kept him from a federal judgeship. That's right: He was too racist for 1980s Congress, but not for the 2017 White House.
Quick, someone get Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney to do another duet.
Then there were his attempts to screw over poorly funded school districts (and the disabled children who attended them) in Alabama. After half a century of the state depriving children the right to a public education through unbalanced funding, a Circuit Court Judge deemed the practice unconstitutional and demanded a change. Sessions then spent most of his career as Alabama attorney general trying to discredit the judge, maintaining he was defending the State School Board (the School Board quickly declared that Sessions did not actually represent them or their views). Sessions continued the fight until the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the ruling and told Sessions to go away.
Too regressive for a 1980s Alabama, but not for the 2017 White House.
Finally, Sessions outright fought against giving equal funding to LGBTQ student groups because of their promotion of "illegal, sexually deviate activities defined in the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws," which was actual law in Alabama at the time. He hasn't shown any signs of mellowing out either, vocally opposing same-sex marriage and voting twice against including sexual orientation in hate crime legislation. Then again, it must be pretty hard to vote for something you yourself are probably guilty of.
"Butts are for pooping! Or in my case, storing my head."
But that was ages ago. Surely, the serial racist, sexist, elitist homophobe has had to change his ways in order to join the Trump Cabinet. After all, Trump said transgender people can use whichever bathroom they want! He must be appointing Jeff Sessions in the same way Quentin Tarantino casts aging character actors -- he knows they deserve another chance.
Trump's Pick For Commerce Secretary Was Responsible For The Deaths Of Several Workers (And Committed SEC Fraud)
You probably don't hear a lot about the Department of Commerce, but it's actually pretty important. They're in charge of invigorating the economy and creating jobs. That might lead you to think that the secretary of Commerce should be both a scholar and a paragon of good business practices, which is not something often said about Trump's Commerce pick, Wilbur Ross, who was involved in the Sago mine disaster which left 12 miners dead.
Or, as Trump would put it, he opened up 12 new jobs in West Virginia.
See, Ross purchased the Sago mine, which was notorious for its safety violations, about seven weeks before the disaster happened. It might seem unfair to hold him responsible, were it not for this excruciating interview in which he admits that he totally knew that the mine was wildly unsafe and decided to keep it open anyway. Ross justified his decision by insisting that "you have to put it in the context of the industry," which is asshole talk for "Sometimes workers get killed in your mine, and you just have to roll the dice." Someone with a general nonchalance about the lives of workers probably isn't the guy you want in charge of improving "standards of living for Americans."
But don't worry about OSHA - that'll be run by a true patriot.
It's also safe to say that Wilbur Ross doesn't much care for government being involved in businesses, which makes him an odd pick. His investment firm got their asses fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission for taking $10.4 million from investors in bogus fees. He has also gone on record saying that one of the major problems businesses face is all this pesky government regulation, which includes safety regulations for workers -- you know, like the dozen people who died in the Sago mine. How effective can you be at a government position you personally believe shouldn't exist? Maybe he could form a little club for anti-government bureaucrats with Rick Perry and Ron Swanson.
For the record, Ron didn't vote Trump.
Honestly, it's a bit weird that Donald Trump would choose someone like Ross. Maybe he misheard "miners" as "minors" and couldn't help himself.
Trump's Secretary Of The Treasury Is A Former Goldman Sachs Executive Who Specialized In Bogus Foreclosures
Corruption has been one of the biggest talking points in this election. Politicians, with their nepotism and backdoor deals and million-dollar lunches, have become too corrupt. That's why so many (i.e. the smallest minority of eligible voters) wanted an outsider like Trump to shake things up, a brave maverick who, unlike those dirty politicians, has no murky ties with big business. Those voters must be so happy to see that the next secretary of the Treasury used to be a partner at Goldman Sachs.
"Lol, everyone's tears." *sips cup*
You might assume that one of the criteria for being secretary of the Treasury is to be more interested in regulating Wall Street than ruthlessly profiting from it, but that's super not the case for Steven Mnuchin. (The "u" and "i" are silent. We think.) Mnuchin worked for Goldman Sachs since leaving college, conveniently leaving the firm in 2002, right before it imploded. He then bought and rebranded a bank, now OneWest, which prided itself on robo-signing -- which is basically filing false documents (or ignoring documentation completely) in order to foreclose on homes. His ownership of the bank quickly turned it into a "foreclosure machine" that had a knack for forcing people out of their houses (again, sometimes with incorrect paperwork).
"If you're having mortgage problems, I feel bad for you, son."
It's kind of strange that Trump would appoint a 17-year Goldman Sachs executive who, as CNN put it, "profited from the housing meltdown," considering Donald Trump's previously aggressive stance on Wall Street and anyone involved with Goldman Sachs, particularly Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, both of whom Trump insisted were completely under Goldman Sachs' control.
But it's even more strange when you realize that Gary Cohn, Trump's pick for the head of the National Economic Council, currently works at Goldman Sachs as president and COO. (While we're at it, Steve Bannon, Trump's pick for White House chief strategist, also used to work for Goldman Sachs.) But how would Trump, a businessman, benefit from appointing a bunch of rich businessmen to important government positions? And now that we think about it, a lot of Trump's picks were key donors to his campaign. It's almost as if Trump is a pathological liar who misled millions of Americans in order to enrich himself and improve his businesses at the expense of the public office he now holds. A person beholden to his own financial interests and the financial interests of others. You know, a corrupt person.
Once again, people used to be disqualified because of their nannies.
Trump's National Security Adviser Is An Outspoken Islamophobe With Business Ties To Turkey And Russia
Generally, what you want in a National Security Advisor is pretty straightforward: You want them to understand the military, you want them to be smart and level-headed, and you want them to be immune to the influence of foreign powers. Mike Flynn, Trump's pick for war daddy supreme, is maybe one of those three. And it's not even the one you'd prefer.
Though at this point, we're lucky Trump thinks he needs a National Security Advisor at all.
Here's the good news: Michael Thomas Flynn is a retired lieutenant general having served in the army for over three decades, spending two of those as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. So he has tons of experience. There endeth the good news.
Now, most people know Mike Flynn for his fairly active Twitter presence, and how most of it revolves around internet shouting how "fear of Muslims is RATIONAL," referring to Islam as a"vicious cancer" that needs to be "excised." He has also trafficked in conspiracy theories and proven falsehoods, such as "Democrats in Florida voted to impose Shariah law," or "Obama is a Secret Muslim," because apparently that would fucking matter. When he was working at the Defense Intelligence Agency (up until Obama booted his ass out), his underlings called these little tidbits "Flynn facts," which is only slightly more subtle than just calling them bullshit to his face.
"Bah! They were all a bunch of secret Muslims anyway."
As for foreign influence, Flynn founded a consulting firm called the Flynn Intel Group after he was fired by Obama. The Flynn Intel Group has ties to Turkey, and Flynn himself had a paid speaking gig for RT, the "independent" pro-Putin news organization recently implicated by every U.S. intelligence agency in a Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election. He has even argued that "we have to try to figure out: How do we combine the United States' national security strategy along with Russia's national security strategy, despite all the challenges that we face?" For a group of people who want to drag America back to the 1950s, Trump's Cabinet picks sure do say an awful lot of things that would've gotten them accused as Soviet spies by Senator Joe McCarthy.
Trump's Pick For Secretary Of Education Has Zero Educational Experience And Advocates Defunding Public Schools
The secretary of Education oversees public education in America and makes sure every child has the chance to obtain a quality education. This may seem obvious to us, but Donald J. Trump still seems a bit foggy about what the job requires. According to him, what's really needed for American schoolchildren is someone who has no experience as an educator, who cheated a school district out of property taxes she owed them, has massive nepotistic ties to big business (let's say she's married to an Amway heir), and insists that her controversial reforms are to "advance God's Kingdom." But where could you find someone who meets these rigorous criteria? From Donald Trump's list of campaign donors, obviously.
Not that we'd ever accuse Trump of exchanging Cabinet positions for support, which is illegal.
Betsy DeVos, noted non-expert and, more importantly, a major Trump donor, is a fierce advocate of charter schools. Charter schools are, according to experts, a mixed bag -- in that it's pretty risky to put your kids in them. And it's not just their pretty underwhelming test scores, either. Charter schools compete directly with public schools for funding, but are notorious for being exempt of many pesky regulations and being without federal protection, meaning they're one corrupt, greedy administrator away from being bled dry while dozens of kids are being educated by an old VHS player.
Some good schools are charter schools, but so are all the vampire schools.
DeVos and her associated groups don't just tolerate the capitalist playground that charter schools represent, they relish it. She has battled every bit of legislation that has called for this school system to have more oversight, leading to what some have charitably called "chaos." A great example of this is Detroit, whose DeVos-led embrace of charter schools is suspiciously timed with its drop in school performance. Even worse, thanks to their popularity with opportunists, the city's entire school system is now being flooded with subpar charter schools.
But when has anything in Detroit ever gone wrong?
Even if we were to agree with DeVos that America's public school system is on the brink of collapse, which it isn't, how is the solution to tear it all down and introduce Mad Max levels of anarchy into the lives of young students? Putting DeVos in charge of public schools is like putting Godzilla in charge of Tokyo reconstruction. It's like putting Javert in charge of convict rehabilitation. It's like putting an Ayn-Rand-loving fast-food CEO in charge of protecting American workers.
"Nah, I'll be cool. Didn't you see the Stars and Stripes bikini earlier?"
Or, as one person put it, "It's like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse and hand-feeding it schoolchildren." Which is pretty much what this Trump administration is starting to represent. With every new nomination, Donald Trump is slowly revealing himself not to be a fascistic despot or chaotic agent of change, but merely an obvious, selfish rich guy who will harm the nation in the most boring way possible -- by using the office of the President to enrich his personal businesses and those of his supporters at the expense of the American people, and then leave in four (or eight) years and never look back. The rest of us get to clean up after him.
The author believes you should tweet Donald Trump about good experiences you had in public schools, or at the very least you should tweet a protest about such an obviously terrible candidate. Check out DonorsChoose.org to help fund public education projects. You know who else could use some money? The NAACP and the ACLU, who often litigate cases in areas affected by these Cabinet picks. And remember to fucking vote in the midterms.
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