Team Trump (Pt 3): Trunk Loads of Establishment Baggage
Banksters and their pocket politicians, barons of industry and their lickspittle lobbyists — these are the establishment, and these are the navigators that surround the helm as Trump takes the wheel and prepares to cast off. Nothing provides better clues as to where this voyage is headed than the carefully selected expertise of the chosen crew. Having described the captain’s first mates in my last article, here is the remaining Trump manifest:
Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State)
For Secretary of State, Trump picked the CEO of Exxon for the most powerful political position in the cabinet beneath the Chief of Staff. Rex Tillerson knows all the major oil plays and major oil players in the world. The exceptional choice of an oil baron over the conventional career politician definitely states that the primary focus of American diplomatic policy is going to be oil, but it also indicates this trip goes to Russia:
“He’s in charge of an oil company that’s pretty much double the size of its next nearest competitor.” Trump added that “Tillerson knows many of the players and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia.” (Zero Hedge)
Trump’s statement as to why he chose Tillerson encapsulates US foreign policy for the next four years. Tillerson is particularly well connected with major oil exporter, Russia, with whom he has forged some of the world’s biggest oil deals and by whom he was awarded that nation’s Order of Friendship. Personally hosted by Putin when negotiating in Russia, Tillerson has been outspokenly critical of US sanctions against Russia over Crimea because those sanctions blocked Exxon’s multi-billion-dollar deals from benefiting the corporate giant.
No doubt Tillerson hopes that becoming the nation’s diplomat-in-chief will empower him to reverse those sanctions that have kept Exxon out of half a trillion dollars worth of Russian business. His present employer is undoubtedly delighted with the prospects, as is his stock advisor now that his personal stake in Exxon is certain to rise prior to his opportunity to sell it all tax free.
[Russian] Senator Alexei Pushkov, a leading voice in foreign affairs, said the choice of Tillerson “confirms the seriousness of Trump’s intentions” to improve relations with Moscow….” Putin also commended the “increasingly close relations” between Tillerson’s company and Russia.
“Tillerson will be a credible and effective messenger for a US reset, because he is not a member of the foreign policy establishment, but also because his history embodies the investment potential Russia could enjoy with a better relationship with the United States,” David L. Goldwyn, the State Department’s top energy diplomat during the first Obama administration, told the New York Times. Goldwyn added that Trump “has definitely decided to do a reverse Nixon and side with Russia against China. (Zero Hedge)
“He has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger,” said John Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary during the Clinton administration (Zero Hedge)
The US-Russia relationship declined badly under Bush, and utterly decayed under Obama-Hillary — a total disappointment after all their big talk of resetting relations with Russia. So, building better relations with Russia is decades overdue for its own sake, but there is hegemonic strategy in this move, too.
By cozying up to Russia, Trump likely hopes to break into Chinese-Russian alliances that form a military threat to the US as well as a monetary threat. China’s intense military build-up in the South China sea, through which $5 trillion of trade passes each year and which hides vast mineral deposits, makes the South China Sea a far more likely and critical area of conflict for the US than Crimea or other areas of Russian interest.
The US navy has maintained an international transportation channel through that region since WWII. Remember that Japan’s battling China for control of the South China Sea led to the US oil embargo against Japan, which caused Japan to enter to the war. Since the US evacuation of Japan’s navy, the US has maintained control in the South China Sea to keep China from taking over completely.
Equalizing trade with China, as Trump has promised, is in itself a strategic security move. China’s huge surplus in trade has financed its massive military build-up — navy ports along the South China Sea and on man-made islands in the sea, navy ships, etc. Curbing China’s exports to the US by diplomatically battling its subsidies and barriers will slow the spread and power of its huge military expansion.
China has used free trade to import America’s technological knowledge by partnering with or buying US businesses, which have been foolishly willing to share their technology in order to take advantage of China’s cheap labor or to build for the Chinese market. CEOs in the US have shown themselves naive to the fact that they are creating their competitors of tomorrow because of their greed for short-term gain. With this assistance from Western corporations, China has closed the technology gap. It will leave its mentors behind when it no longer needs them.
There is a sideshow in this selection, which is worth noting. One has to wonder why Tillerson appeared out of nowhere after Mitt Romney was paraded so publically for so long. Was that public humiliation for Mitt by making him think he had the post so that he’d suck up before the entire nation to the Donald, whom he so publicly excoriated during the campaign as unfit to be president? Mitt did emerge from his dinner with Trump, heaping praise upon the Donald as suddenly well fit for the presidency; but that was before he was dumped with no adieu. Trump has said, himself, that he enjoys revenge.
Underscoring that possibility is the fact that Mitt didn’t even get the number-two slot, deputy secretary of state. He did get a concession prize, though. Trump has made his niece, Republican Ronna Romney, head of the RNC. Maybe this kitten can help Uncle Mittens get his next job.
Trump gave the second spot at the Dept. of State to neocon warmonger-at-large John Bolton, George Bush’s ambassador to the UN, even though he despised the UN (once saying the best thing that could happen to it would be to cut off the top ten stories of the Secretariat Building). Bolton relentless advocated war against Iraq in order to rid the world of non-existent weapons of mass destruction that were a non-threat to us all. Having staunchly advocated Iraq’s problematic regime change, he went on to become a fierce proponent of regime change in Iran. He even tried to foment aggression by Israel against Iran at the start of Obama’s Iran nuclear talks, saying …
Israel should have attacked Iran yesterday – every day that goes by puts Israel in greater danger, every day Iran makes more progress…. I can understand why Israel wants us to take action, but the longer Israel waits for something that is not going to happen, the greater the danger Israel is in. (The Jerusalem Post)
That was back when Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahoo was doing his global dog-and-pony show with his little bomb that had a red line near the top, saying, “We are here.”
“The ayatollahs are the principal threat to international peace and security in the Middle East,” Bolton told Breitbart. “Now, their ouster won’t bring sweetness and light to the region, that’s for sure, but it will eliminate the principal threat.” (The Jerusalem Post)
So, that is our Iranian policy for the next few years, but it will be problematic because Iran and Russia have been allies; so this might be another hegemonic strategy. Court Russia while driving a bit of a wedge between it and Iran. But this is what Bolton said about the elimination of Saddam Hussein, too. Now, we have ISIS attempting to fill the power vacuum that the US created in Iraq. Bolton’s plan turned Iraq into the perfect ISIS incubator.
You can also blame Obama’s premature pull-out, but it’s pretty clear Iraq would have been the inescapable quagmire that Bush was warned about, regardless of the pullout, given its extremely factious politics. We all knew Saddam was placed in power by the US in the first place as a strongman who would rule with an iron fist to keep things in order.
Bolton continued by arguing that the people of Iran would welcome a new government in the Islamic Republic, and the US should be a sponsor of opposition groups looking to topple the current regime.
Geeze, how many times is Bolthead going to use that failed argument? Ten years earlier, he argued that the people of Iraq would welcome a new government and welcome the US as liberators. Now we’re sponsoring the group that overthrew the Iraqi government to overthrow the Syrian government while trying to battle them back into submission in Iraq. I really have to wonder how seriously dumb are we?
We can all hope Trump keeps Deadbolt under control so that we don’t engage in more nation-breaking and nation-building in the Middle East, as we’ve been doing without success for decades; but if that is the plan, why choose Bolton over Romney in the first place?
I don’t think the regime is popular, but I think it has the guns. And I think there are ways of supporting the opposition that does not involve the use of American military force, that does involve helping the opposition to get a different kind of government.
Been there; done that … ad nauseam … and these situations always devolve into a greater mess with the wrong people getting control of the nuclear waste and the oil fields so that the US military always winds up getting involved to prevent further chaos. I hear the sirens singing from the same rocks we’ve seen before and feel sea sick from the way this ship rocks back and forth over the same endless waves, completely incapable of steering a different course by learning from history.
Bolton likes to fry his eggs with napalm, and Trump is making him our deputy diplomat-in-chief where he’ll be in charge of pitt bull diplomacy with Iran. I wouldn’t put Bolton in charge of a dog pound unless I wanted to see the dogs all kill each other. I’m all for being tough and making sure the US gets great deals, but Bolt-on has no diplomatic temperament and wants only to futilely attack every despotic nation surrounding Israel and to encourage Israel to do the same.
Steven Mnuchin (Secretary of the Treasury)
The globalist Financial Times says Mnuchin has a “talent for reinvention.” Good thing because this bankster buddy needs to re-invent himself from the floor up if he’s going to be in charge of all the nation’s money. Steven Mnuchin followed his father’s footsteps out of Yale to become a banker at Goldman Sachs where he worked seventeen years. While there, Mnuchin brought in sachs of gold through Goldman’s mortgage-backed securities division where he was vice chairman. That earned him the role of partner. So, he became thoroughly rooted at the bedrock of banksterdom as a result of being intimately involved in the very kind of activity that destroyed the economies of the entire world. (Whether he actually did any wrong in that central role, I have no idea; but he certainly was at the center of it all; so it’s almost impossible to believe he knew nothing about the corrupt shenanigans at GS that became part of the global core meltdown.)
After Mnuchin broke with GS, he was hired by George Soros in 2003 to create a new business that would soak up the kind of risky debt Mnuchin helped create, called SFM Capital Management. After a year, Soros backed him in starting his own company, Dune Capital Management … with two former Goldman colleagues. So, Moochins has spent his life wrapping up flies at the center of the Soros-Goldman globalist web.
Dune moved into the entertainment business, bankrolling blockbusters like X-Men and Avatar. As a Hollywood insider, Munchkin has been more likely to party with with Hollywood Democrats than Republicans, backing Hillary Clinton’s and Obama’s campaigns in the past. The only Republican candidate he is on record as having donated to was Mitt Romney, Trump’s odd man out. Munchkin’s family has traditionally leaned Democrat.
In 2009, Stevie Boy Wonder teamed up with Soros yet again to buy the bailed-out IndyMac bank in a fire sale from the government with the help of billions of dollars of US government incentives after FDIC seized IndyMac, which had operated as one of the most reckless banks in the housing bubble that helped create the Great Recession. The FDIC promised to cover a portion of any future loan losses. So, at this point Munchin was feasting on flies, not just wrapping them.
The new bank was renamed OneWest. Mnuchin sold his interest last year just before the Department of Housing and Urban Development launched an investigation of OneWest’s foreclosure procedures against senior citizens. HUD found the banks books were a mess, as if they had been done by the Lord of Flies. Horror of horrors:
Jon Green, a spokesman for the Take on Wall Street campaign, said in a statement. “Anyone concerned about Wall Street billionaires rigging the economy should be terrified by the prospect of a Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.” (The New York Times)
To give a little history on that statement and the HUD investigation: OneWest was one of the nation’s largest providers of reverse mortgages, which offer a stipend for senior citizens to live off of in exchange for the bank gradually assuming ownership of their home. Banks often encouraged borrowers to remove the youngest spouse from the title in order to make sure the bank could foreclose at an earlier date once the remaining owner on title live out his or her life in the home, leaving the remaining spouse out in the cold. The deal was that the titled owners could remain in the home even after its equity has been consumed in the reverse mortgage payments to owners.
OneWest has been called predatory. Its critics say that it’s Reverse Mortgage Division, Financial Freedom, victimized homeowners because it foreclosed on them at a suspiciously high rate under the Obama/Geithner Home Affordable Modification Program. According to HUD data, 39% of all the nation’s reverse-mortgage foreclosures can be attributed to this single bank. One source even claimed OneWest used forged documents in its foreclosures (but I did not find that in any other sources).
HUD opened its investigation against the company Mnuchin created in 2013 because a whistleblower claimed that OneWest falsely reported meeting certain FHA repossession deadlines. (One could argue back that, if OneWest was failing to meet foreclosure deadlines, it must have been foreclosing too slowly, in spite of the number of foreclosures it completed.)
Putting Mnuchin in charge of the Treasury does look a little putting Dillinger in charge of reconciling the till. HUD data indicates Mnuchin never saw an underwater homeowner that he didn’t want to drown because, whether he met deadlines as quickly as the FHA wanted or not, he certainly focused his business on the filthy business of foreclosures and reverse mortgages. Big banks like Wells Fargo stopped issuing reverse mortgages years ago, but Mnuchin was delighted to rule that realm.
Mnuchin is estimated to have received $380 million in sales proceeds and dividends plus a $10.9 million severance package when he sold OneWest. Afterward, the bank’s new owner (CIT) discovered a $230 million asset shortfall in their purchase.
Mnuchin will be the third Goldman Exec. to move into the treasury since the Clinton days, following Robert Rubin, who served under Slick Willie and the nefarious Hank Paulson, who served under George W. Bush and infamously launched the US into bankster bailouts by cobbling together the first cancerous deals that combined too-big-to-fail banks into even bigger monstrosities.
Goldman is notably adept at getting its executives into positions at the Federal Reserve and at Federal Reserve banks and in the US Treasury. Most have proven to be quite bad for the middle class and for those who aren’t into globalism. To be fair, however, some Goldman alumni, such as Nomi Prins and Pam Martens have been outspoken against the big bank and its globalist monetary agenda. Mnuchin, however, continues to show up at major Golman-Sachs’ events and continues to team up with Goldman execs on financial deals, so he is far from being a Goldman critic, certainly no Prins of a fella.
[amazon_link id=”0470529598″ target=”_blank” ]Read It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals by Nomi Prins[/amazon_link]
As if all that were not questionable enough, Mnuchin is currently the CEO of a hedge fund. That makes him exactly the kind of guy Trump said was an economic parasite and that Trump swore he’d go after; yet Trump described this one as “a professional at the highest level with an extensive and very successful financial background.” What happened to hedge-fund managers being financially useless. Regardless, Smoochkins has certainly enjoyed great success at the highest level because of his bankster background.
In terms of where he is headed with policy, Mnuchin has indicated that tariffs will not be imposed on China — at least not at the start of the administration; but he says the treasury, under his lead, will review whether or not China is a currency manipulator and proceed from there.
On the positive side, Mnuchin says, “Our job is to make sure that the average American worker has wage increases and has good jobs. That’s the priority of this administration.” But what does that mean when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of policy to make it happen? Is that just window dressing to sell the plan? Mnuchin told CNBC, “We think by cutting corporate taxes we’ll create huge economic growth and we’ll have huge personal income.” Well, I’m sure he will. Based on his past days of living among the one-percenters, Mnuchins is certain to see huge personal income out of the great capital-gains, income-tax, corporate and estate tax cuts that Trump has envisioned. Huge. They’ll be great!
As evidence of how completely sold out to the Wall Street establishment Trump was willing to go, his preferred choice for treasurer was Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase and bailout bankster extraordinaire. (See JPMorgan’s section of “Simple and Clear Reasons the Next Economic Crash Will be Worse Than the Last.”) Does anyone remember back to how Trump’s ads showed images of major Wall Street banks as he spoke about “draining the swamp.” So, why is he filling the swamp with them? It’s hard to see how giving them direct central roles plays out to their being less involved in Washington.
The only thing known to have prevented JPMorgan’s Diamond from entering the Treasury was that he immediately turned Trump down, perhaps preferring to stay where he can make billions by breaking big banks and then expanding them through $25-billion bailouts while paying only $900 million in fines.
(As I said at the start of the Great Recession, the qualifications for being CEO of a major bank is that you have to be able to bankrupt the nation’s largest and most profitable institutions and then garner bailouts big enough to save them from bankruptcy in order to, in the end, make them twice as too-big-to-fail — not an easy task to pull off. That’s why they get paid the big bucks.)
Demon is, nevertheless, on Trump’s economic advisory team, and he has just suspiciously taken the leadership role at Business Roundtable, one of the nation’s most powerful lobbying hellholes. I noted in my last article that Trump’s transition team has spent a lot of time consulting with Business Roundtable to form lists of people for top-level positions in the Trump administration.
None of this looks like insider/lobbyist politics as usual, does it?
Well, maybe not…. Dimon says,
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Financial Services conference,… “I am a patriot — I want to help my country and help it grow. I want to help lower-wage people more than I want to help you.” (Newsmax)
O.K. And the Washington Post says Dimon talked JP Morgan into providing $325 million in job training for American workers and investing $100 million for urban renewal in Detroit.
Maybe he’s not such a demon after all? Or is he just masquerading as an angel of light?
Gary Cohn (Director of the National Economic Council)
Trump has nominated Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer, Gary Cohn, to lead his primary economic advisement team. Cohn, if confirmed, would be the third Goldman Exec. to run the NEC. (Hmm. Third in the chief treasure position and third in the chief NEC position.)
In the heat of the presidential campaign, Donald Trump accused primary rival Ted Cruz of being controlled by Goldman Sachs because his wife, Heidi, previously worked for the Wall Street giant. He slammed Hillary Clinton for receiving speaking fees from the bank.
“I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him,” Trump said of Cruz. “Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.”
Now, Trump is putting Goldman executives at the helm of his administration’s economic team….
Wall Street executives have long wielded influence in Washington, filling top jobs in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Goldman Sachs itself has produced several Treasury secretaries, White House chiefs of staff and top economic advisers. (Newsmax)
Of course, that is exactly the swamp that Trump said he was going to drain. Instead, we have more of the same! How is all of this not business as usual in Washington? It’s not as if Trump has just placed a couple of Wall Street insiders on the financial team to have some inside experience; They’re the whole team!
In a campaign ad intended as a closing argument, [Trump] portrayed the chief executive of Goldman Sachs as the personification of a global elite that the ad said had “robbed our working class.” (The New York Times)
According to Trump, Clinton was too tied in with Goldman simply because of her speaking fees to ever reform the financial industry. Cohn is, on the other hand, very tied in with Hillary, being a registered Democrat who has contributed large sums to Obama’s and Hillary’s campaigns. Like all who buy politicians, Cohn has also contributed generously to Republican campaigns.
Bernie Sanders’ response to Cohn’s nomination?
It’s called a rigged economy and this is how it works. (Twitter)
How is it not hypocritical on Trump’s part to criticize people like Cruz and Hillary for indirect ties to Goldman Sachs when he stacks Goldman Sachs throughout his own formative government in positions of direct financial control? Team Trump not looking a lot like a group that will be naturally sympathetic to the scorned middle class. These moves, however, have already been great for the banksters: Goldman Sachs’ stocks have soared 33% since Trump was elected to be president. No wonder, since all their best people are going to work for him.
“I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder,” Trump told voters in Iowa. “Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us.”
Hmmm. Sounds to me like they pretty well own the full show once again, as every key financial position in the new administration is being filled by Goldman Sachs (including the president of the mega-investment bank). These are the same people who opposed Dodd-Frank, the late-coming re-regulation of banks that Trump has said he’s going to overhaul or dismantle. So, here we go again with the big boys being put in charge of their own deregulation so they can return to the money pits of their favorite games in the Wall Street casino.
“You’re not going to find better people than those who have been at the top of finance, the top of our markets, understand the way our markets work,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior adviser, said.
Nor less trustworthy ones. But this sad saga from the sea of bankers continues …
Wilbur Ross (Commerce Secretary)
Billionaire and King of Bankruptcy, Wilbur Ross ought to thank God and Obama that he’s not in prison for his management of the now defunct AHMSI aka Homeward Residential. Wilbur made his fortune in “vulture investing,” which means buying beaten-down companies and turning them around by cutting worker pay and benefits. Wilbur has done his own part to make sure the middle class stagnates in order to help wealthy stock holders rise. Take a cut, or take a hike. Buying through bankruptcy proceedings is key because that is the only legal path to get reductions in pensions.
Wilbur’s commerce department is tasked with protecting US workers by challenging globalism that benefited the multinational corporations that made Wilbur rich when they purchased the companies Wilbur turned around. Wilbur has been a huge advocate for the president-elect’s massive business tax cuts, which will profit him enormously since huge capital gains are made when rebuilding and reselling corporations.
Even though he’s a One-percenter, Wilbur Ross does acknowledge that America is disgruntled because the middle-class got left behind, but it’s hard to see how trickle-down economics on steroids is going to help the middle class better than all previous experiments with trickle-down economics, which helped them not at all. I guess Team Trump is advocating the weary wisdom of, if something doesn’t work, do more of it until it does. The capital-gains tax breaks will also help Ross profit off of his $100 million art collection if he decides to cash some of it in when the hard times finally come as a result of Trump’s planned boon and bust. (The bust at the end of the Trump boom is made inevitable by the assured everlasting rise in government debt and equally rapid rise in interest on that debt that his infrastructure program will create.)
As an owner of a disastrous coal mine (read about it under “Chao” below), there is some irony in knowing that the King of Cole, Wilbur Ross, will preside over the monitoring of the environment through the National Oceanic and Atmosphered Administration. Perhaps he can help cool off a little global warming by betting NOAA’s data back in line with global cooling trends. It should be fascinating to watch.
Oh, and did I mention that Ross was a banker at Rothschild for twenty-four years, where he specialized in bankruptcy and corporate restructuring? Did I also forget to mention that, in his later years, Rosschild purchased several distressed banks through his own company WL Ross & Co, including a stake in the Bank of Ireland. So, yes, this big fish is hooked by the lip to the biggest of banks, too.
To his credit, however, Ross says (surprisingly) that he thinks the repeal of Glass-Steagall was a huge mistake.
Now that we know that the world’s biggest corporate banks own all government financial/commercial agencies, lets move on to the military and intelligence departments where things look a little better:
John Kelly (Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security)
Trump’s pick for the head of the Department of Homeland Security, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, indicates he is serious about securing the US border with Mexico and stopping illegal immigration across that border, even if Trump’s own statements raised concerns that Trump might not go as far as his campaign pledges in sending home illegal aliens who are already here:
Kelly is the former commander of U.S. Southern Command, which oversaw military operations in Central and South America. Trump said that experience gives him a unique look on protecting the U.S.’s southern border. “Gen. John Kelly’s decades of military service and deep commitment to fighting the threat of terrorism inside our borders makes him the ideal choice to serve as our Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,” Trump said in a statement. “He is the right person to spearhead the urgent mission of stopping illegal immigration and securing our borders, streamlining TSA and improving coordination between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies….”
“The American people voted in this election to stop terrorism, take back sovereignty at our borders, and put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security,” Kelly said. “I will tackle those issues with a seriousness of purpose and a deep respect for our laws and Constitution. I am honored for the opportunity to be back in the service to our country, and our people.” (The Washington Examiner)
While Kelly will be tough on terrorism coming across the US border, those enthused about Trump putting a stop to economic immigrants wanted him to appoint Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who drafted Arizona’s tough SB 1070 that required law-enforcement officers to ask people for their papers if they suspected illegal immigration, which was struck down the supreme court. Trump avoided that, and his own talk about Kelly focuses on terror problems coming across the border as does Kelly’s. Before Trumpettes become too up in arms, however, consider that Trump may be planning the best of both worlds:
It is entirely possible Team Trump decided to make the less controversial Kelly — who faces a much easier Senate confirmation — the figurehead at the top of DHS, while installing Kobach as his deputy with special responsibilities for immigration and anti-terrorism policy. And there is also the option of placing Kobach at the Justice Department with authority over enforcement of immigration and voting laws. Crediting the upcoming administration with a “moderate” cabinet appointment might be accurate but also misleading. (New York Magazine)
Kelly openly criticized the Obama administration and opposed efforts to close Guantanamo.
James Mattis (Secretary of Defense)
James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired General who is considered “a marine’s marine” for his determination to personally lead troops into battle on the front lines. Trump calls him a general’s general and considers him “the closest thing to (World War II-era) general George Patton that we have.” Our nation’s most hawkish senator, John McCain, considers him “one of the finest military officers of his generation.”
One of Mad Dog Mattis’s famous quotes is “”Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
General Mattis ran the US Central Command during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has long advocated a more aggressive stance against Iran, so he’s right in line with Bolton on that one, indicating all the more the direction the US is likely headed with Iran.
Mad Dog, however, not always as hawkish as his monicker indicates: He told Trump torture doesn’t work, showing independence from neoconservatives like their drum major Dick Cheney who supported a finely nuanced amounts of discretionary torture.
Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor)
Retired General Michael Flynn has a reputation as a straight talker and has been advising Trump on defense for months. As Defense Intelligence Agency director, General Flynn opposed the Obama regime when it decided to use ISIS to overthrow Assad in Syria (that longtime US policy of creating enemies for our enemies who then become our new enemies — something that has worked so abysmally for us that we seem unable to get enough of).
General Flynn believes that defeating ISIS requires more aggression from the US and closer work with Russia. So, that also underscores that Trump is clearly steering policy toward Russia. General Flynn also opposed the Iranian nuclear agreement. So, again, he is right in line with Bolton’s and Trump’s thinking about getting tougher with Iran. Some say the General was forced to retire from the DIA for clashing with other defense officials over Obama’s approach to Iran and Russia.
Flynn’s other intelligence positions include director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and intelligence chief for the US-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He holds three graduate degrees: a master’s in telecommunications from Golden Gate University, a master’s in military arts and sciences from the US Army Command and General Staff College, and a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the US Naval War College.
Mike Pompeo (CIA Director)
Neocon to the core, Pompeo is a Tea Party member and Koch-Brothers fan extraordinaire. (They are based in his hometown of Wichita and have been his financial backers.) Pompey advocates keeping Guantanamo open for business and is fully supportive of the NSA’s big-brother, big-government, big-internet surveillance programs while strongly critical of little whistleblower Edward Snowden. When Obama moved to close Guantanamo, Michael the Pompous suggested military personnel should disobey their commander-in-chief and follow Michael’s lead, instead. So, he is not above a good military coup … or, at least, advocates military insubordination for the right torturous causes.
And now on to the non-military/non-intelligence agencies:
Rick Perry (Secretary of Energy)
When it comes to non-intelligence, Rick Perry steals the show. Perry has always always been his own caricature, proof positive that Republicans were incapable of fielding anything other than puppet clowns; but his appointment over the Energy Dept. is ludicrous beyond laughter.
When he was a presidential candidate, Perry said he would eliminate three departments; but to really snap the nose onto this clown, getting rid of the Dept. of Energy was so important to Perry that he couldn’t remember what department it was he wanted to get rid of when asked about the three he intended to ax. His response, “Oops.” And that was the end of his candidacy.
Now Perry’s been selected to lead a department he intended to destroy but could not even remember. Is this a bad joke or Trump’s intention to plant a bomb in the department. Given his strong stance against the the department in its entirety, Rick Perry’s job must certainly be to make sure the department disappears or, at least, makes sure that Energy rubber-stamps everything coal and oil demand.
Perry’s the perfect Puppet of Petrol. Coming into what looks for all the world like a cabinet lineup of oil barons and banksters, Perry is perfect: he serves on the board of the oil pipeline project in North Dakota that was scrubbed out by the Obama Admin. His appointment says loud and clear big oil and coal get to do ANYTHING THEY WANT under Trump. This cabinet is wholly a bankster-baron cartel. (Read here for more on Trumponomics.)
Andrew Puzder (Secretary of the Department of Labor)
Labor unions say that Trump’s selection of Puzder for Secretary of Labor proves how out of touch Trump is with middle-class workers. They label the fast-food CEO as an “anti-worker extremist.”
Carl’s Jr cook Rogelio Hernandez called Puzder, whose company CKE owns the chain, “one of the worst fast food CEOs,” adding that his appointment “sends a signal to workers that the Trump years are going to be about low pay, wage theft, sexual harassment and racial discrimination…. “Puzder is paid more in one day than we each make in one year working at his restaurant chains, and that’s the way he wants to keep it.” (The Guardian)
In talking about “sexual harassment” Hernandez is perhaps alluding in part to accusations of spousal abuse brought against Puzder years ago that were dropped many years ago for reasons unknown or perhaps to the Trumpian style of Puzder’s Carl’s Jr Super Bowl ads, which have drawn lots of attention for featuring voluptuous models eating hamburgers, which Puzder claims are patriotic and of which he is as proud as Anthony is of his wiener:
“I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis,” he told Entrepreneur magazine. “I think it’s very American… I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.”
By his own admission, then, the ad represents who he is.
The president-elect sees his selection of the Spoozder differently than Hernandez:
[Puzder’s] record [of] fighting for workers makes him the idea (sic.) candidate to lead…. Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve, and he will save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages.
New York’s Attorney General, however, sides with the Carl’s Jr. cook, claiming that Puzder’s company stole wages from low-paid workers. Says the AG,
The fact that Mr Puzder has now reportedly been selected to lead the same agency that uncovered wage theft at his restaurants is a cruel and baffling decision by President-elect Trump.
Indeed, it is much like putting Petrol Puppet Perry in charge of the agency he wanted to blow up like the Deep Sea Horizon. In true big-business style and contrary to Trump’s primary pledge, the Spoozder is strongly in favor of amnesty to illegal aliens because they provide cheap labor (and some of them are gorgeous), something his restaurants thrive on — something that likely helped Hernandez get his low-paying job, with which he is no longer contented.
Elaine L. Chao (Transportation Secretary)
It doesn’t hurt to cozy up to the wife of the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, if you want to get your legislation through. Chao can railroad Trump’s infrastructure initiatives through Congress faster than a bullet train because she is sure to have the help of her husband. Pragmatic on Trump’s part, albeit looking a bit like nepotism and cronyism. Chao was secretary of labor under President George W. Bush so she has plenty of her own experience getting bills through congress.
Like most of the rest of this cabinet, Chao is big — I mean HUGE — friend of banksters. As a board member at Wells Fargo, Chao has made $1.2 million during the bank’s recent time of scandal in which they created millions of fake accounts in the names of existing customers without customer permission. That scandal started the same year Chao became a board member and continued the entire time she has been there until brought to task by the government. While that doesn’t make her guilty by association, her responsibilities as a board member included monitoring Wells Fargo’s activities and management, which clearly were not well monitored. The bank has had to pony up $185 million in penalties for this scandal while under her shared oversight.
Chao was also a vice president for Bank of America (my personal favorite) and international banker at Citicorp., and she is a board member at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. She has served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Director of the Peace Corps, President and CEO of United Way and is a Distinguished Fellow at the very neocon Heritage Foundation. Chao has served on numerous other corporate boards and is a career Washington insider, a woman of top-reaching ambition, described by one friend as a “tiger wife” who actually had a gold coin minted with her head on it and had a government staff person to carry around her purse when she was head of the Labor Dept.
Chao’s Labor Dept. was charged by the Government Accountability Office with inadequately investigating reported minimum wage and overtime-pay violations and was criticized for effectively deregulating coal mines by firing a hundred mining inspectors, leading to two deadly mining catastrophes. One mine, which was owned at the time by Secretary of Commerce designate, Wilbur Ross, (the Sago mine) was found to have 208 safety violations that had not been inspected, half of which were potentially fatal by themselves. (That is one more way of making a failing company profitable in Ross’s style. Ross even testified that he knew about the safety violations.) The number of miner deaths more than doubled during Chao’s time at Labor. On the other hand, other workplace injuries improved during that time.
She has more than once been accused of involvement in illegal campaign finance activities, but no charge has been taken to the level of proof and conviction. Her liberal critics have chided her as being the very corporate establishment Trump said he would go after. (We didn’t know he meant go after them to become teammates; but now we certainly do, as the entire team is stacking up that way.)
Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services)
This Republican representative of Georgia is a physician and a fierce opponent The Affordable Care Act. He will certainly help Trump in meeting his promise of dismantling ObamaCare, too expensive for Price. He will also help Trump with his immigration policies, having told congress when he was chair of the House Budget Committee the US “must suspend our refugee programme until certainty is brought to the vetting process.”
Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development)
Being an accomplished neurosurgeon, Gentle Ben might have made sense as Surgeon General; but nobody has a clue as to what Carson knows about housing or about running large agencies. Maybe Trump is just repaying the favor for Carson’s earlier endorsement (which would be Washington business as usual) and knows that domestic housing will keep Carson well out of the Middle East where Carson was in favor of a Syrian no-fly zone, regardless of how Russia felt about it, and was resolved to solve the Palestinian problem by carving a Palestinian state out of Israel’s Arab neighbors. Staying inside Housing and within US urban developments will keep him out of trouble.
Scott Pruitt (Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency)
The former Oklahoma Attorney General is one of 28 state AGs fighting President Obamas Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations loathed by the energy industry, which some say were designed to kill coal. So, again, the coal-oil axis of power is evident throughout the forming Trump administration.
And the rest … as our voyage lands on Gilligan’s Island
A couple of Republican megadonors are also being rewarded with plum posts from Trump: Todd Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, is in line to become the deputy commerce secretary; and Betsy DeVos, married to a member of Michigan’s Amway family, will be his education secretary. As it turns out, then, the man who would be beholden to no wealthy people because he didn’t need their donations and could fund his own campaign is not above giving top positions to top funders of his campaign.
Do I think Trump will boost the economy, having predicted its demise this year? Yes, I do because all of this is a massive change that injects nitrous oxide into our economic engines, environment and banking scruples be damned. It’s a pedal-to-the-metal push; but I think it needs in a disastrous wreck of corruption.
Trump, himself, has said there are no choices for cabinet positions that are not political or financial insiders. While Trump will have the benefit of a Republican congress, most of congress is owned by special interests, including particularly those that headquarter on Wall Street. Now the cabinet (if approved, which is highly doubtful) is also fully owned.
Some will say this is strategic on Trump’s part, and maybe it is; but I have one question to raise in the face of that claim: If Trump says it is impossible to even drain the small number of cabinet positions of insiders, banksters and corporate controllers, (because “there are no other choices”), how he is ever going to drain the entire swamp? I’d also point out that, yes, he may need some alligators in order to fight alligators, but is an entire team of Washington insiders and corporate elites really going to turn against friendships they’ve spent a lifetime developing? That would require an outside miracle of alligator transformation.