The Trump Cabinet: Swamp Things

Plutocrat in Chief

Word is that our Chief Plutocrat-elect is considering either Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani for the Secretary of State position. As little as I think of Mittens, at least he wears a tuxedo well.

But Rudy? OMG … World War III here we come …

But here’s the thing — apparently some on the Right are throwing actual fits over the thought of giving Mittens the SecState job. Kellyanne Conway said that Trump had received a “deluge” of criticism for even considering Mittens. Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich also are not happy.

Apparently their objections to Mittens boil down to his criticism of Trump before the election. Jobs are supposed to be given only to Trump loyalists, apparently. The problem may be, though, that there aren’t enough of them to fill all the jobs.

So get a load of the crew being nominated to take key cabinet positions: As it says in an article by Ben White and Matthew Nussbaum in Politico, Trump’s cabinet is turning into the “Masters of the Universe” club.

Beyond Trump himself, who claims a net worth of more than $10 billion, the president-elect has tapped businesswoman Betsy DeVos, whose family is worth $5.1 billion, and is said to be considering oil mogul Harold Hamm ($15.3 billion), investor Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion), private equity investor Mitt Romney ($250 million at last count), hedge fund magnate Steve Mnuchin (at least $46 million), and super-lawyer Rudy Giuliani (estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars) to round out his administration. And Trump’s likely choice for deputy commerce secretary, Todd Ricketts, comes from the billionaire family that owns the Chicago Cubs.

Even retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who’s up for the job of secretary of housing and urban development, has an estimated fortune of $26 million, while White House adviser Steve Bannon has likely earned millions off his stake in the show “Seinfeld” alone. Andrew Puzder, a possible labor secretary, is no slouch, either — he made more than $4.4 million in 2012 as CEO of the holding company that owns restaurant chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

Put together, Trump’s Cabinet and administration could be worth as much as $35 billion, a staggering agglomeration of wealth unprecedented in American history.

This crew makes the Devos crowd looks plebeian. And if Rudy is worth only tens of millions, what’s he doing with these folks? Mittens is a far better fit.

Many are beginning to point out that Trump’s cabinet doesn’t match his campaign rhetoric.

“My campaign is about reaching out to everyone as Americans, and returning to a government that puts the American people first,” Trump said while laying out his economic vision during a major address Detroit in August. “We will offer a new future, not the same old failed policies of the past. Our party has chosen to make new history by selecting a nominee from outside the rigged and corrupt system.”

But Trump now appears to be surrounding himself at least in part with people who come very much out of that system, particularly Wall Street.

Mnuchin and Bannon both made millions at Goldman Sachs, a bank singled out for criticism in Trump’s campaign ads. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein appeared as a shady and dangerous character in the closing spot of the Trump campaign.

Speaking of Goldman Sachs, a reporter for Fortune wrote on November 11 that Lloyd Blankfein’s “stock and options have risen $63.9 million since Tuesday as the investment bank’s shares surged 10% in under three trading days.” Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, who for a time was being considered for Secretary of the Treasury, did even better — $69.8 million.

Dimon told the Trump transition team he didn’t want the Treasury job, which Fortune considered a mistake

In closing the door to joining the Trump Administration, Dimon is probably giving up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to divest his sizeable stock holdings in JPMorgan Chase and diversify his wealth without paying taxes.

Apparently, since he’d be required to divest his JP Morgan Chase stock to take the Treasury job, he wouldn’t have had to pay taxes on profits.

Bess Levin in Vanity Fair:

Who is Donald Trump going to name as his Treasury Secretary? He desperately wanted J.P. Morgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon for the job, but then, shockingly, after being turned down, reportedly lost all respect for him. The president-elect has since met with a host of candidates who were considered second choices last week, before Dimon became persona non grata, but are now all in the running to help him move on (and do some other important things for the federal government, too).

According to Levin, the short list for Treasury includes Steven Mnuchin, a one-time Goldman Sachs partner who cleaned up during the housing crisis by foreclosing on struggling homeowners; and David McCormick, president of the hedge fund group Bridgwater Associates, a company apparently famous for its off-site meetings that involve humiliation of subordinates.

(Since that article was published, private equity guy Wilbur Ross was offered Secretary of Commerce and Jonathan Gray of Blackstone took himself out of the running.)

Frank Bruni:

It’s not enough for him to interview potential cabinet members: There must be photographs and footage of them coming to grovel for his favor, as if each is a courtier and he the king. Where’s the populism there?

And for all his thunderous talk before Election Day about “draining the swamp” of Washington, the water level looks fine, the mosquitoes seem unworried and the gators remain plentiful and well-fed.

Trump Cabinet Candidates

Trump Cabinet Candidates

There are rumors Trump is considering Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for Secretary of Labor. No, I am not making that up. It was in New York magazine.

This would represent an unmistakable insult and threat to the labor movement, and would also go miles to assuage big business and conservative ideological fears about Trump. Walker is reportedly not very interested in giving up the last two years of his hard-won gubernatorial term to move to Washington. But perhaps Trump’s chief-of-staff designee, Reince Priebus, will convince his old Wisconsin partner that the opportunity for massive, nationwide vengeance against the labor enemies he earned in Madison is too good to pass up.

The more likely candidate, Andrew Puzder, is head of a company that owns chains of fast-food restaurants (e.g., Hardee’s). Let’s just say he’s not a friend of living minimum wage.

Somewhat hilariously, last week at New Republic, Jeet Heer wondered what would happen when Paul Ryan’s anti-populist agenda butted heads with Donald Trump’s “populism.” Somehow, I don’t think there will be any problem at all.

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  1. Swami  •  Nov 27, 2016 @6:48 pm

    And if Rudy is worth only tens of millions, what’s he doing with these folks?
    Rudy brings the vitriol. No amount of money can buy what Rudy has to offer. He is to Trump what Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goering were to Hitler except Rudy has all those combined characteristics in one person.
    I thought Rudy was just involved with cashing in on cornering the stun gun market, but after reading about his financial dealings with security related issues I see he’s got his slimy tentacles all over the globe. Robespierre reincarnated.

  2. aj  •  Nov 27, 2016 @9:05 pm

    I just want to know how long it will take for the “terrorists” to attack a trump tower in Istanbul or manila and how many us soldiers will die defending his real estate?
    What a cast: Donald Dick, uday qusay goldilocks and trophy wife with hangers on.
    The word today is that castro was a terrible dictator who demanded his opponents grovel publicly: kinda what they want Mitt to do.

  3. Doug  •  Nov 27, 2016 @9:45 pm

    King Donald is not doing well with the media subjects. The NY Times is being mean to His Highness, even after he requested they get along and not publish pictures of him with two or more chins and point out his three or more positions on every issue. CNN is openly calling BS on the now Monarch who claimed on Twittter that the two million more that voted for HRC were illegals. I haven’t checked to see if ABC & NBC are making nice, but my guess is that when any of the MSM are regularly reporting the truth the rest of the media will follow suit with varying degrees of enthusiasm, rather than be called out for the obvious sucking up to the royal liar.

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Nov 27, 2016 @10:16 pm

    I think, while still can, I’ll do a reverse “Tommy!”

    I’ll make myself deaf, dumb, and blind.
    There’s plenty of cheap-shit rotten booze available!
    Cotton for the ears.
    And cottonferdamouff….

  5. Doug  •  Nov 28, 2016 @1:59 am

    Gulag – they made medical marijuana legal in FL this election. My doctor is a democrat and she wrote em a 4-year prescription.

  6. goatherd  •  Nov 28, 2016 @9:27 am

    Whether we get an updated, higher-tech fascism, feudalism V2.0 or just a good old fashioned repressive oligarchy, is still an open question. I that Trump is consolidating his power by offering his former rivals the carrot or the stick. The package will be sold as a peacemaker willing to forgive and forget, but, inside is the “Godfather”settling the family business.

    I’m probably oversimplifying when I say that Randian Libertarianism is fascism, stripped for import. But, Randians don’t mind autocrats at all, as long as they’re the “right sort.” Their hero, Von Mises was probably the origin of the “Fascism equals Corporatism” quote that is usually, and falsely, attributed to Mussolini. In a letter to Ayn Rand, he opined that “Fascism was saving Europe,” and he was once part of an “Austrofascist” regime that ended with the assassination of the fascist Austrian leader. So, there is a lot of common ground beneath the window dressing.

    Given the number of media personalities lining up, Trump, Pence, Bannon and Ingraham, it seems likely that they’re going to create a world class propaganda machine that will make the Nazi and Soviet efforts seem like child’s play. Most of the work is already done, there’s just the final assembly.

  7. c u n d gulag  •  Nov 28, 2016 @10:22 am

    I’ll have to check NY’s status. It would help me immensely to remain in a purple haze for 4-8 years, listening to music, and laughing at what fools these mortals be…

  8. Lynne  •  Nov 28, 2016 @10:23 am

    This is getting scary.
    This article didn’t help, either:

  9. Doug  •  Nov 28, 2016 @12:54 pm

    Lynne – Thanks for that post. The medium article gives a lot of great advice. If things turn out as one could predict from the article, Trump will be disgraced by scandal and impeached by the GOP struggling to to contain the damage by installing Pence. This is KEY. Pence has to be pressed NOW to be a staunch & loyal defender of Trump – to be held accountable as a co-conspirator later. Whoever the democrats put up in 2020 will be running against Pence, who has to be painted as Trump-lite.

  10. Bill  •  Nov 28, 2016 @1:29 pm

    “Tear down the system.” I’ve heard and read that one many times from various sources. Increasing numbers of people from all camps don’t care any more and want the establishment gone. As predicted, along comes the ‘ultimate iconoclast’, who by all diagnostic predictions is going to do the exact opposite. When he reveals that he’s conned everybody, that he’s actually the ‘ultimate self-serving establishment’, we have to be ready.

  11. Swami  •  Nov 28, 2016 @2:26 pm

    Well, in any event we’re in for a helluva ride. So just relax and enjoy the show.

  12. csm  •  Nov 28, 2016 @3:05 pm

    Trump is in this to enrich himself and his family; he’s shown he has no core values beyond that. The GOP will allow him all manner of conflicts that arise along the way, as long has he signs off on all of their schemes — privatization, bankrupting the Treasury, and tightening the grip of corporations on the government. Once Trump starts “smelling himself” and convinces himself he’s the latest incarnation of Il Duce, and tells the GOP to get in line lest he holds one of their pet schemes hostage, then one of the many scandals already swirling around him will be used to impeach him and install Pence.

    Either way, the GOP will get what it wants. Its just the extent to which world Trumpworld diverges from theirs in any way significant to them.

  13. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Nov 28, 2016 @3:48 pm

    The idea that Trump loyalists deserve the big jobs is completely fracking insane. (Fracking, here, is the notion that it’s a great idea to make big cracks using hydraulic pressure in the sea-level foundation of the planet’s surface – not an initialism suggesting sexual intercourse.)

    That loyalists get rewarded with ambassadorships and similar jobs is old news, and so long as they’re not completely incompetent, it’s not a bad idea. (It’s not a good idea! But it does give those muckety-mucks a chance to show their chops if they have any.)

    But the idea that the Secretary of State should be anyone other than the best, most qualified appointee that the Republicans would ever make is just completely fracking insane. I don’t consider Romney to be that person – but the notion that he’s *disqualified* for calling Trump an incompetent goober without the qualities one needs in a President (which, a brief review of Trump, leads anyone to conclude QED[1]) only shows that the GOP is getting ever more crazy.

    For the past 16 years, the GOP has always taken the “id” out of “president” (thereby spreading it to their leadership team) to show their true opinion: it’s a present, a chance to make gifts to the wealthy and supporters.

    This represents the finalization of that plan. Only now, the President-elect is also demanding gifts, in clear violation of the Constitution. Oh, but it’s okay, because the law doesn’t include the President in questions about conflicts of interest. It’s just he emoluments clause.

    But geez… doesn’t anyone in the media stop to think that this isn’t a good thing? The last time we had a complete bonehead elected President, he blew off the worst terrorist attack in recent US history, and then started a pointless, expensive war, leading to hideous instability in the middle east. Now we have an even *more* boneheaded President-elect. I wonder how *he* will “keep us safe”?

    [1] This Latin roughly translates as “which is what we said we’d demonstrate” So, “theorem: Trump is an incompetent goober. Proof: look at him; QED.

    Now, granted, I don’t mean “just take a glance at him” – I mean look at/into him, notice the bankruptcies the serial sexual assault, the stiffing of contractors even when not bankrupting, Trump University, his “best temperament ever”, etc..

  14. goatherd  •  Nov 29, 2016 @8:03 am

    Thanks for the link, Lynne.

    I have real life experience with a person with NPD. The article rang very true. It would be a good idea to check out other Cluster B disorders, as they blend together in various strengths and combinations.

    Narcissists and sociopaths have the ability to “turn on the charm” when they are drawing in a victim. Think of Ted Bundy, he was handsome and charming, the typical “non-threatening” boy, until the trap was sprung. One characteristic I’ve always found interesting is that when a narcissist is in “charm mode,” they can be sickeningly unctuous, but, if they sense that their victim isn’t falling for it, they can become absolutely enraged, and the transition only takes a nanosecond. It’s pretty remarkable.

    The narcissist has a tremendous sense of entitlement, in short, “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine, too.” If you have something that they covet or that you value, they will break it or steal it, often “for your own good.” Their logic can be very convoluted, and I am not entirely sure whether they believe their own argument or not. All the normal social indicators are very distorted, so it may be best not to interpret them as such.

    Trump and the electoral suicide of the US is far too sophisticated for a simple man like me to interpret. But, I think there is an element of abnormal psychology written large across our electorate. The road back to normalcy will be long under the best of fortunes. But, it is also possible that “you can’t get there from here,” as the ancient punchline goes. I would welcome correction from those of you more well read in history, but, I think that historically, once a nation ventures this far into Bizarro world, only a significant collapse can force it to its senses or provide a foundation for rethinking and rebuilding.

    Regardless of what may happen to us and what catastrophes come about, we can be sure of only one thing, it will all be “Obama’s fault.”

  15. Doug  •  Nov 29, 2016 @1:11 pm

    What Might We DO to Oppose Voter Inequality via Electoral College, Voter Suppression at the state level and the Corporatist State supported by Congress? (If we agree that four years of shouting obscenities thru a megaphone won’t change squat.)

  16. c u n d gulag  •  Nov 29, 2016 @1:31 pm

    Great letter, Doug!

    Keep us apprised please.

  17. Swami  •  Nov 29, 2016 @6:50 pm

    But, I think there is an element of abnormal psychology written large across our electorate.
    I would guess that ignorance of what they’re dealing with is the predominate blinder. I know in my case of dealing with a psychopath/sociopath I didn’t understand the nature of what I was up against. I dismissed tell tale signs as being the product of immaturity and youthful insecurities. A lot of the characteristics exhibited by the sociopath I had to contend with were characteristics that I possessed myself in my younger days..Except I was able to purge those demons from my life with counseling and a dedicated effort to rid myself of counter productive qualities. I grew up.
    In Trump’s case he’s 70 years old so I wouldn’t expect any changes. What we saw is what we’ll get. His history tells his story…I only wish that the electorate had the wisdom to know what they’re getting with Trump. I can say with all assurances that nothing good is going to come from Trump. Yeah, the American people vented their frustrations, but made a big mistake in putting their hopes in a bona fide mental case.
    Good Luck , America…The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. I think you got hoodwinked!

  18. Bill  •  Nov 29, 2016 @9:59 pm

    The way I see it, sociopathy has three basic flavors, also called the Dark Triad. (some people include deviants poisoned by their environment within the definition, but for the sake of simplicity I’m discussing only the genetic, born-incorrigible sociopath)

    Machiavellians are the most introverted of sociopaths, prefering to play the hidden puppetmaster to manipulate by intrigue. Being harm avoidant to cautiousness, their primary fear is being exposed. Trump definitely isn’t one of those.

    Psychopaths. If normal folks are comparable to domesticated dogs, they’re like coyotes who’ve learned to live amongst us – psychologically ‘wild’ humans. Wild in that they are born to believe that caring about anything outside of their own primitive basic needs is a waste of their precious lifetime (although like hunters they’ll emulate whatever they have to, to get what they want). They don’t care if they’re hated. After they’ve made too many enemies in one place they’ll move on without looking back. I don’t think Trump is one of those, as their ambitions and need for “narcissistic supply” seem modest by comparison.

    Narcissist. Are the most extraverted of the three, and have more grandiosity, dominance, and superiority. They seem to need more attention and adulation than the others who will use such but seem to have less of a need. Trump seems to be one of these.

    Not sure if this is the right place for these ideas, but those are my interpretations anyways. I base them on studies of psychopathy, the Big 5, MBTI and other temperamental ideas as well as personal experience and enough abstract reasoning ability (the pattern matching part) to be able to infer general correlations between them.

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