Trump is assembling a gang of like-minded individuals and sycophants:
Defense, Lt. Gen James Mattis – The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act requires an interval of seven years from active duty before being appointed Secretary of Defense, and Mattis has only four. The reason for the rule is to maintain civilian control over the military.
Treasury, Steven Mnuchin – A former Goldman Sachs executive, hedge fund manager and profiteer who made millions foreclosing on homeowners after the housing crisis and who proposes massive tax cuts for corporations and the super rich. What happened to Trump’s promise to rein in Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers?
Transportation, Elaine Chao – She’s Mitch McConnell’s wife, and Trump picked her to win a fight with McConnell over infrastructure legislation. As Secretary of Labor under Bush II, she cut mine safety inspections just as the Mine Safety and Health Administration was trying to inspect all mines each year. Several major mine disasters followed. She has opposed raising the federal minimum wage and has opposed unions and affirmative action.
HHS, Tom Price – A member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a propaganda organization that advocates conspiracy theories, anti-vaccination dogma, HIV/AIDS denialism, and other debunked medical misinformation. He has said that government involvement in healthcare is “evil” and “immoral,” and he opposes Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid. He also opposes health insurance coverage of contraception. He has supported banning same-sex marriage and supported employer discrimination against gay employees.
Commerce, Wilbur Ross – A multi-billionaire who bought distressed steel and textile mills and coal mines, decimated wages, pensions and health care benefits, and sold the companies for huge profits. He owned the West Virginia Sago mine when it experienced the worst mine disaster in the state since 1968.
Education, Betsy DeVoss – I described this multi-billionaire GOP insider in my last post “A Charlatan for President.”
UN, Nikki Haley – Another of Trump’s picks who said Trump’s ban on Muslim immigrants was “un-American,” then tried to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in South Carolina and is now a Trump sycophant. She has virtually no foreign policy experience but may be the least terrible of Trump’s many cabinet selections.
CIA, Mike Pompeo – He’s extremely hawkish and radically opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. He is strongly supported by the Tea Party and the Koch brothers and has used racist campaign strategies. He made his fortune as a defense contractor. He has opposed adoption by gay couples.
Attorney General, Jeff Session – I already described this racist in “A Charlatan for President.”
These selections and some of Trump’s irresponsible actions and disregard for international protocol indicate either ignorance and incompetence or impulsive, thoughtless decisions or brazen disregard for proper behavior by a President-elect. Trump has refused all but a few presidential daily intelligence briefings and has not sought guidance from the officials who could advice him. The terrifying thing is that a stupid blunder could cause a serious international catastrophe, even before he is sworn in. My greatest worry is that these irresponsible actions are driven by his narcissistic and arrogant belief that he is above rules of civil behavior. As the leader of a national superpower, he is no longer operating in his own corporate world where he has unquestioned authority.
Trump is now holding public rallies around the country. Normally such post-election demonstrations are in countries with authoritarian strongmen controlling undemocratic nations. Trump seems to relish continuing to incite his loyalists against his chosen enemies and to engender adoration for himself. There are already several instances of hate crimes and abuse that seem to be fueled by Trump’s atrocious, hateful, vitriolic rhetoric. Again, he seems either oblivious or deliberately indifferent to the consequences of his actions.
The mistake of electing Trump is too late to correct. We must now be especially vigilant for the consequences of his erratic, unprecedented, deviant personality and world view and take concerted action whenever possible to prevent or minimize the devastation. The two issues with the longest-range tragic repercussions are Supreme Court nominations and inaction on climate change, but there are many other concerns of great significance.
Do not give up. Do not give in. Remember, as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.” Look for ways to use your resources in the most effective way you can to make the world a better place. Pragmatic, principled effort does not have to be directly political to overpower narcissism, ignorance and false beliefs.