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Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Swamp Has Officially Overflowed


Earlier this month, I blogged about Donald Trump's cabinet picks to date.  Since my last post in which I said, 
"You may have voted for Trump because he seemed defiant and his message was that he was a renegade and a rebel, and he was going to ride his white stallion into the White House and save the country.  His repeated [campaign] message was clearly anti-establishment, however, the establishment from which you wanted change is the precisely the empire he is building.  
So, in opposition to his promise to America to take the wealth out of Wall Street, he is embracing the elite, and filling his cabinet with billionaires and multimillionaires, super rich financers and industrialists who will favor only the rich getting richer, and don't think that for one second that Trump favors the poor or the working class.   His picks are all very clearly self-serving."  
Donald Trump continues to amaze, astonish, dumbfound and baffle Americans with his cabinet picks, to whom he refers to as "players", based on their wealth and status in the business world.  


Snippet of the "player", Trump - your President Elect,
in the now infamous "grab her by the pussy" edit
I would also like to point out that I am uncertain as to why he continues to chose people who are in opposition to the very administrations to which he is appointing.  The bottom line thus far, is that his choices are clearly the most conservative administrations we have seen in decades, and one of the LEAST diverse cabinets in United States history, due to the fact that the 4 most senior and influential appointments are all elderly white males, who just happen to be, worth a fortune.  


George Washington, in an 1853 lithograph, oversees his slaves at Mount Vernon. (The Granger Collection, NYC) - Smithsonian Magazine
The year is almost 2017. Remember, People:  Our founding fathers were all white, male slave-owners.  The same men who promulgated in our Constitution that "all men are created equal."  

Americans have fought for human rights for 241 years, and now it seems that all the blood, sweat and tears which we have fought and died for through civil war and world wars, and as he continues to chose more and more conservative members, we are at risk of reversing all the good that has been done...especially after the past several decades.   

It is crystal clear that Trump values 2 things: 

Himself, 

and 

cold, 

hard cash.

And it seems that the Good Old Boys club, is alive in well.  Gregory Krieg of CNN wrote on 12/15/16: 
"By selecting ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state, Donald Trump on Tuesday guaranteed that his four most influential departments will, if confirmed, be led entirely by white males for the first time since George H.W. Bush's first Cabinet was approved in 1989. Bush kept white males in those positions for his entire term."  

"He's much more than a business executive," Trump said of Tillerson, "I mean, he's a world-class player."  
64 year old Rex Tillerson, has been chosen to be the next Secretary of State.  He  is another multi-BILLIONAIRE, and "outgoing" CEO of Exxon-Mobil.  

Many considered him a *dark horse in the Secretary of State race.  His business history includes ongoing close "ties" to Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.  Putin awarded Tillerson with the Order of Friendship in 2013, which was most likely the rsesult of an agreement made between Exxon-Mobil and a state-owned Russian oil company in 2011.  The agreement gave Exxon-Mobil access to rich oil resources in the Russian Arctic. and afforded Russia with the opportunity to invest in Exxon-Mobil's overseas operations. 
 *Dark Horse [Definition]:  "a political candidate unexpectedly nominated usually as a compromise between factions."

Tillerson has no government or political experience, and his ties to Russia will be of utmost concern from Senators on both sides. 

Trump's Cabinet is now the wealthiest in American history.  I ask you, Mr. Trump, how will being a "player" affect the middle-class working American?   You said, that you want people (in your administration) "that made a fortune because now they're negotiating with you."   What are WE, THE PEOPLE, negotiating?  Are you trying to pacify those people who voted for you that you have OUR best interest in your plan?  Everything that Trump has promised to "Make America Great" is a complete and utter oxymoron.


   
I don't know about you, but it seems to me that Trump's approach to his cabinet is all about "the deal", and very little to do with how these individuals will benefit or contribute to the well being of the average American person or family.  In fact, one must wonder what is going on behind the scenes - what planning is being conducted on the side?  Yes, I am eluding to the potential to line one another's pockets while in office or surreptitiously and covertly through existing business ties.  I ask you:  What other conclusion can we make of these choices?



"Trump's "anti-establishment" cabinet of millionaires and billionaires is worth more than 1/3 of U.S. households combined.....It truly does not make sense that 52 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent....[Trump] said, ‘We are going to be standing up for working people. We are anti-establishment.’ Well, if the Cabinet he appointed of billionaires and millionaires is anti-establishment, boy, I would hate to see what the ‘establishment’ looks like."    - Senator Bernie Sanders

Image source: theonion
Only 3 of his cabinet picks are not white males:  Ben Carson, as the Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] who is known for stating that housing vouchers foster dependency.  I disagree.  Fortunately, we do have the Fair Housing Act, and other safety nets which I pray receive strong defense by both parties. 

I personally work in the housing field, and can tell you that by removing these safety nets, would be detrimental to a large portion of the population.  You must understand that in order for people to receive a housing voucher, they are scrutinized under both the state and local levels.    All cases are examined under the microscope of each individual basis, and multiple steps and  are involved.  The state simply does not "write out" a housing voucher.  There are strict requirements based on income, (for most, this means a "fixed" income - meaning that it cannot be changed).  Other factors such as chronic homelessness and possibly mental illness are also at issue, and absolutely nothing is given out without legal documentation and verification of need.  It is a long and stressful process.   

Vouchers may also be considered for working families who lack the training or education to lift themselves out of poverty, or perhaps there is a serious medical issue in the household which prevents them from earning more.   It is the means in which a family can stabilize, and sometimes this is a temporary situation as they work to achieve goals such as the completion of educational programs or training.  


Consider the rising monthly cost of rent, food, heat, electric, car payments, gas and so on.  The monthly burden can be overwhelming and without hope.  If one's income is not flexible or if an individual or family is not able to improve on their current circumstances, then our moral responsibility is to assist our brothers and sisters who are in need.

Obviously, there is much more to it, but let me say that vouchers almost always involves the service coordination of multiple agencies, which must assist in proving the need of any financial assistance (such as the housing voucher).   The the issuance of housing vouchers are a matter of moral and economic urgency.
 
Image source: Time
Elaine Chao for the Department of Labor Secretary, "Chao became the first Asian American woman to be named to a Cabinet post in 2001 and for 8 years, went on to lead the Department of Labor under George W. Bush. In naming a former Cabinet member, who has been married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) since 1993, Trump has selected another Washington "insider" even after repeatedly campaigning on a promise to “drain the swamp” of the political and financial influences that he said saturate the Capitol.  

So, here is an individual who will be negotiating with legislature regarding our budget of a trillion dollars for the infrastructure.  Will she be negotiating directly with her husband?  Though, some may see this as a conflict of interest, it is not the first time that spouses have partnered in administrations.  

Chao also was VP of the Bank of America and at Citicorp, an international banker.  She took heat after being found to have some responsibility in the Sago Mine and the Crandall Canyon Mine disasters, that took the lives of 15 miners,  in which proper inspection could have resulted in regulating safety standards.   To her credit, she actually does have direct experience in the Transportation Department.  "Chao was steeped in the transportation world early. Starting as a young girl, she watched her father build a global shipping business. He still runs the company, the Foremost Group, with two of Chao’s sisters." -washingtonpost

Apparently, Trump wants to issue massive tax credits to investors who will be responsible for the [re] building of our infrastructure.  This dubious belief will be controversial because, by issuing tax credits Trump's proposal offers an 82% tax credit to a corporation that invests in infrastructure.  So, the builders get money, and America pays.  



The challenge will be HOW to pay for it.

Traditionally, the government borrows money by selling bonds to the public.  The bonds are paid back with tax revenues of fees that are bound to the infrastructure.  Think of tolls for roads or bridges, or bills that you receive for sewer usage. Trump will abandon the traditional planning and wants to attract private builders for public roads, bridges and waterways.  He has proffered an incentive by issuing tax credits in which companies will receive an 82% tax credit.  

"For example, if a company invests $20 million of its own money and borrows an additional $80 million to build a $100 million bridge, it would get $82 million of tax credit over the life of the project. That's a huge credit relative to the amount of equity committed to the project. The tax credit benefits the builder and it is paid for by you and me, the taxpayer.  The second way to incent private capital to build infrastructure is to give the private investors a lasting right to collect fees from the public to use the infrastructure."  -usnews

Q:   Is there more good news for the potential construction workers and contractors in that last statement?  

A:   Yes, because at least the American government will pay their bills, and these people will not be at the mercy of waiting to be paid by Trump directly.                God, I love sarcasm.


Trump has chosen Linda McMahon for the Small Business Administration.  She is the 68 entertainment executive who ran the World Wrestling Entertainment league, with her husband, (who founded the company) Vince McMahon.  Forbes states her net worth is about $1 Billion dollars.  

She ran for Senate in the state of Connecticut but never was "voted in", even after spending millions of dollars on the race.  She also donated $6 million to the Trump campaign, as well as to the highly questionable "Trump Foundation".  

(Be reminded that  the Trump Foundation's Board consists of Donald Trump, his oldest children and a treasurer.  It has no paid employees. The foundation also neglected to register under article 7A of New York's Executive Law, which requires any charity soliciting more than $25,000 a year, and was ordered to stop fundraising. )


Kate Vinton of Forbes.com writes of McMahon: 

"Between 2007 and 2009, Vince and Linda McMahon donated $5 million to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, making the couple the biggest outside donors to his foundation, according to Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold.  In an interview with the AP in September, Linda McMahon said of Trump: "Once you're his friend, he is loyal to the end. He's an incredibly loyal, loyal friend." That loyalty has paid off for McMahon, who joins a growing list of Trump administration picks with billionaire connections."


President-elect Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of the state of Oklahoma, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.  Ironically, this man is yet, another pick, who is skeptical of climate change.  This is absolutely, positively 100% confounding to me.    Trump picks Pruitt - who doesn't believe that climate change or global warming is real, regardless of countless scientific studies confirming it is a global concern - to work for the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY whose mission is "to protect human health and the environment".  I can't stop shaking my head in disbelief.

With this appointment, I believe that Trump's actions are defiant, and in retaliation  against President Obama, who's hard work toward climate change and environmental protection was to be his legacy. Pruitt is documented as saying:

* that the science of climate change is “far from settled”.  

Maybe, if you live on Mars.   

*  GOP AGs warn Dems that if climate "skeptics" can be prosecuted for fraud, so can "alarmists".  

So referring to the “alarmist,” he’s attempting to debunk that millions of people which include EVERY world leader, (except the incoming orangutan-elect), that climate change is real, and plans must continue in order to prevent the most detrimental global results. 

* Pruitt actually campaigned AGAINST states who complied with Obama's Clean Power Plan.  

In fact, he actually SUED THE EPA to attempt to block Obama's plan to save billions of dollars in health and climate-related costs/spending by the year 2030. 



Regarding Pruitt, Green Peace states:  "Pruitt’s public statements on climate and energy are frustrating (to say the least) for anyone who understands basic science. 

But it’s what he hasn’t said that’s even worse.  In 2014, Pruitt was caught in a secretive alliance with oil and gas industry insiders aimed at tearing down environmental protections. Emails obtained by the New York Times show Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general collaborating with corporations and lobbyists to file lawsuits and challenge federal regulations on everything from fracking to air pollution.



One of those fossil fuel insiders was Harold Hamm, Trump’s top energy adviser and CEO of the country’s largest fracking company. Hamm would go on to chair Pruitt’s 2013 re-election campaign. More recently he’s made news as one of the biggest proponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline; it’s his company’s fracked oil that would have flowed through the pipeline if it had been completed.



Meanwhile, Pruitt has received $318,496 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry since 2002, leaving little doubt about whose interests he’ll protect as EPA head — and it’s not people or the environment."  -greenpeace.org

Pruitt is also an anti-LGBT, and opposed to transgender integration school policies use of rest rooms, locker rooms and other related facilities.  He was dubbed the "head bully" on this issue.