We have started getting the first rumblings about Trump’s Cabinet. I know some people want to demonize Trump, and perhaps some of that is justified, but his choice are not all horrible. He is apparently deciding between former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senator Bob Corker for Secretary of State, which isn’t bad, because both have shown an ability to be diplomatic. The front runner for Secretary of Labor is Victoria Lipnic, who is neutral enough that Obama appointed her to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Finally, he’s looking at either former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as Attorney General. Both did well as U.S. Attorneys, so I would expect them to be competent in the lead role, despite their other failings.
Beyond that, things start getting ugly. His list for Secretary of the Interior consists of anti-environment oil executives and Western governors, including Sarah Palin, with many of the same names being on his list for Secretary of Energy. The one bright spot on that list is Robert Grady, a venture capitalist who was the lead architect of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s environmental policy as governor. He’s pro-business, but not anti-environment.
I was afraid to vote for Hillary Clinton because of her ties to Goldman Sachs, but Trump looks to be nominating Steven Mnuchin, a Goldman veteran, for Treasury Secretary. If there was any doubt that Trump favors the rich, large banks, and major corporations, an appointment of Mnuchin should dispel that.
The leading candidate for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator is Myron Ebell, who is a vocal climate skeptic and who thinks climate change is a European hoax. Just read this steaming pile of methane-releasing bovine excrement he wrote to see just how bad he would be. Joseph Aiello, an administrator in New Jersey’s Environmental Protection Department, would be a much better choice for the job.
Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke looks to be the leading contender for the Department of Homeland Security. Clarke has no interest in addressing the problems of systemic racism in some law enforcement departments and would be a hugely offensive choice for many minorities. Clarke is a registered Democrat, but he is absolutely a DINO, and a darling of the far right GOP.
Trump is considering Dr. Ben Carson for Secretary of Education. No. [EXPLETIVE] no. We don’t need a creationist leading our nation’s schools. The other leading contender, Williamson Evers, is a Hoover Institute K-12 education specialist, but he is very divisive. At least he is an education guy.
What is the proper response?
“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I have a historian friend who criticizes Sun Tsu as “fortune cookie wisdom,” but sometimes I feel that concise advice is warranted.
The general anti-Trump protests are misguided at best. What we need is a targeted approach. On Trump’s Cabinet appointees, we need a two-pronged approach:
Contact the Transition Team
I am working on getting good email or mailing addresses for the transition team. Currently the only email addresses I could find were press addresses, but I imagine things will take a few more days to get rolling.
Once these addresses are in place, we need to send positive messages to the transition team. Where there are horrible candidates for a position, we need to send the team strong messages of support for the better candidates. Yeah, Evers may not be the perfect person for Secretary of Education, but he’s infinitely better qualified than Carson. Grady has acted in favor of the environment, unlike most of the rest of the Interior candidates.
I would recommend writing individual letters or emails for each post, and doing some research on the positive work the candidate has done to include in your recommendation. In my experience writing government officials, keeping things simple is always best.
Contact the Senate
Once Trump nominates, the Senate has to confirm. If the really bad candidates do get nominated, we need to persuade the Senate to block or vote down these nominations. In order, I think the worst of the worst are:
- Myron Ebell – EPA
- Sheriff David Clarke – Homeland Security
- Dr. Ben Carson – Education (He’s also being considered for Health and Human Services, which at least fits his expertise.)
- Steven Mnuchin – Treasury
With Clarke and Mnuchin, this may be the only way to stop them, as there aren’t currently any others being publicly considered.
Once these nominations head for the Senate, we need to write both our Senators, but also the Senators on the appropriate Senate Committees.
Last night, I received news that Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen died. For the past year or so, I have had “Everybody Knows” as the ringtone on my phone. The first verse–usually all I ever hear–goes like this:
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Clinton would have appointed a Goldman Sachs alum to Treasury; Trump is about to do the same thing. In many ways, the system is broken, but it’s all we’ve got.
Finally, my brother reminded me last night of something that happened over twenty years ago, but I hope it gives you an idea of the type of person I am. It was in response to the following image:
If you need a friend, a listener, a bodyguard, or a voice, I will help you. I’ve never taken a John Lewis-level beating–thankfully–but I have an almost primal need for fairness. I have taken punches for friends and strangers, dishing out as few as necessary to end the fight, often helping my adversary up afterward. Fortunately, in recent years I have become better with my words than with my fists and have stopped most incidents peacefully.
I’ve got your back.