News from the great swamp drain

Donald Trump appears to be intent on appointing everything he finds at the bottom of the swamp to a cabinet position.

Future Trump appointments?

Future Trump appointments?

Carolyn Grant

I’m sure all of you, like me, have been watching in utter amazement and disbelief as Donald Trump puts together a cabinet. He came to power threatening to drain the swamp and he is. Unfortunately, he appears to be intent on appointing everything he finds at the bottom of it to a cabinet position.

Take for example, the choice of former Texas Governor Rick Perry as head of the Department of Energy. Perry was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars last season, which I guess takes energy. Those reality show stars have to stick together. Interestingly, the Department of Energy is the one that Perry vowed to eliminate during his ill-fated run for President in 2012. So… I guess that makes him qualified to run it?

Moving on, to Environmental Protection. Trump, a noted climate change denier — he has declared it a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese — has put a true environmental champion in charge of this important department. Ha ha! No he hasn’t. Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney-general, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. “You would be hard-pushed to find anyone more hostile to that department or committed to tearing up the environmental rules”, reports The Economist. Because who would you want in charge of an agency? Someone who supports it and believes in it? C’mon! Batting a thousand so far, Trump.

Secretary of State. This is a position that requires great knowledge of diplomacy, geo-politics and the workings of government and the United Nations. The United States has had a long list of very accomplished Secretaries. Henry Kissinger. Madeline Albright. Hillary Clinton. All with a long history in government. So Trump has appointed an oil company president, ExxonMobile chief Rex Tillerson. Because… he can. A positive note for Trump, Tillerson has great ties to buddy Vladimir Putin and his potential oil fields. It begins to make sense.

For Attorney-General, Jeff Sessions, who was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 by the Senate because of alleged racist comments. I know as a minority, I’d be totally comfortable with this appointment. If I were moving out of the country.

For Secretary of Labour we have Andrew Puzder, a man who has said higher minimum wages hurt workers (insert googly-eyed emoticon here). Puzder is chief executive of the company that franchises the fast-food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. The New York Times reports that he is an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration.

Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing. The neurosurgeon has no experience in housing or urban development, but as you can see from the preceding list that’s not a top priority for the Donald. Experience is to be mistrusted was basically the message of his entire campaign, so why would he change? Carson, to his credit, publicly said he didn’t have the experience to be in cabinet. In November, he told the Washington Post, “Having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water, quite frankly.” So, kudos for that but… you were running for President! And also, you took the cabinet position.

The over-riding theme here seems to be ‘fox in charge of henhouse’ as many media outlets pointed out in headlines. There is currently a lot of fear of the unknown, and unknowing, in many circles in the U.S. So much fear that scientists are actually in the process of trying to catalogue and preserve as much of the federal government’s climate change data as possible because of fears that it may be deleted. Though, as one scientist pointed out, as much damage can be done simply by not continuing the research because climate change research relies on a continuing supply of year to year data. No research, no more data. And does anyone think climate change research is going to be championed by any of the fossil-fuel loving secretaries nominated by Trump? Remember, knowledge is bad.

The next four years are going to be interesting, scary, horrifying …

Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Bulletin