This Trump Cabinet is Brought To You By Paris Hilton and… The Russian Oligarchy?
Fact: America officially became an Oligarchy in 2014.
Fact: There already is a billionaire serving in the cabinet: current Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. Pritzker, whose fortune is estimated at $2.4 billion, is the first billionaire, since Andrew Mellon in the days before the Great Depression, to serve as a cabinet secretary. Current Secretary of State, John Kerry, is the second wealthiest cabinet member, with total wealth estimated at $198 million. His wife is heiress to the Heinz fortune.
If it wasn’t immediately obvious that we became an oligarchy in 2014, it will be, come January 20, 2017. No matter which way you slice it, the face of government will be older, mostly white male and absolutely filthy rich, save for a few token female and minority appointments.
Had Clinton’s preparations for a transition not turned out to be quite so premature, hers, we can be sure, would not have such an in-your-face, ostentatiously oligarchic administration. Could a Hillary Clinton administration have been so obvious a plutocrat’s wet dream? No, but you can rest assured that Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and others hedged their bets no matter which way the election was going to turn out. Big Oil most certainly did, with former Obama Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who was named head of Clinton’s transition team way ahead of the election, vetting and preparing to fill thousands of important posts. On trade, we know from leaked emails that a Citigroup frontman, John Podesta, would have served in the same role as under President Obama and trade positions would have been filled with the same pack of lobbyists in place now. According to writer David Dayen in The New Republic:
“The most important revelation in the WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta’s emails has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. The messages go all the way back to 2008, when Podesta served as co-chair of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team. And a month before the election, the key staffing for that future administration was almost entirely in place, revealing that some of the most crucial decisions an administration can make occur well before a vote has been cast.
Michael Froman, who is now U.S. trade representative but at the time was an executive at Citigroup, wrote an email to Podesta on October 6, 2008, with the subject “Lists.” Froman used a Citigroup email address. He attached three documents: a list of women for top administration jobs, a list of non-white candidates, and a sample outline of 31 cabinet-level positions and who would fill them. “The lists will continue to grow,” Froman wrote to Podesta, “but these are the names to date that seem to be coming up as recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.””
WikiLeaks… Yes, if you didn’t click through to read those “damn emails,” during the last couple of months of the election, now would be a good time to do so. The information, both about the campaign staff’s internal communications and the media’s interaction with them will change your perspective on things.
What’s different about the incoming Trump administration is not that plutocrats have a hand in it, but that they’ll actually be running it without hiding behind some flack or former VP. Back during the first Clinton administration, Bob Rubin, Mr. Goldman Sachs himself, ran the Treasury Department. He later served at Citigroup as it was being bailed out by the same Treasury Department he’d been Secretary of a decade earlier. So, while we may have had the illusion that we’ve not long been a plutocracy, the reality is best described in this quote from French writer, Gustave Flaubert:
“There is no truth. There is only perception.”
Did WikiLeaks obtain the DNC and Clinton campaign emails it published from Russian operatives as the Obama administration now publicly asserts? Let’s assume they did, for the sake of the argument. How is that different from the warnings the administration gave through unnamed sources, on an almost daily basis, in the weeks running up to the election? How does that change the urgent tone and tenor of the conversation that was being had practically all summer about the source of the emails, rather than the content? How does that change the fact that the Clinton campaign never officially denied those emails, tens of thousands of them, were authentic? How does that change the fact that with the exception of one really minor detail from the revelations on her leaked Wall Street speech summaries, Hillary Clinton never addressed any of them? She never defended herself. She never clarified her current policy positions as opposed to what was leaked in years old emails, at times. She said nothing on substance. Her surrogates said nothing on substance. The only thing she and her surrogates kept repeating was RUSSIA. How is that a defense? How is that a way to counter what is now being called damaging information? Finally and most importantly, how do you cause someone to lose an election by propagating truth?
Who created the damaging information in those emails? Who let the damaging information hit the wires daily and left them unanswered for months? The blame for whatever damage was done must be placed on Hillary Clinton herself, and her staff for not having an intervention in which they told her under no uncertain terms about the damage her campaign was suffering. The fact that Donald Trump wasn’t bleeding voters at a time when he was accused of sexual misconduct – rape even – should have given Hillary Clinton a clue that voters cared more about policy and its effect on them, than Trump’s personal misconduct.
As far as the Obama administration’s behavior is concerned, if the CIA was investigating Russia’s role in the U.S. election, why didn’t it intervene as soon as it had evidence of Russian interference? While, traditionally, the Federal government doesn’t try to influence the outcome of an election, it is still in charge of national security. There is nothing in the constitution that bars a current administration from placing the national interest above all else. If Trump operatives were involved, why weren’t they arrested for treason? Paul Manafort comes to mind here. He did resign rather abruptly. Did he have a part in this? Was Donald Trump in the know? Is there someone else in Trump’s team, perhaps even a family member, who has ties to the Russian oligarchy? Why didn’t the Obama administration step in BEFORE November 8th?
How about those nominees of Trump’s who are known to have a relationship with Vladimir Putin and his government? After all, nominee for Secretary of State, Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, is known to have a long-standing relationship with Putin and was the recipient of a Russian ‘Order of Friendship.’
But Tillerson’s ties aren’t the only ones that are problematic. There isn’t a single cabinet nominee of Trump’s who doesn’t represent some huge conflict of interest. After all, this is the problem with oligarchies and it isn’t a new one.
If Obama didn’t have strong enough evidence, why didn’t the media do its job? Why did it waste so much ink and so much bandwidth covering the most inane of stories when even the appearance of treason on the part of one campaign surely would have shut it down? But no… The media was intent on not covering the contents of the leaked emails, focusing instead on the fact they were said to come from Russia, all the while pointing out both directly and indirectly, that no one was denying they were authentic. If that isn’t bad enough, when many of the nation’s top journalists became implicated in unethical relationships with the Clinton campaign, not one word was written about it during or after, and those reporters have retained their positions of prominence in those news organizations.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 24, 2016
Glenn Greenwald and Lee Fang, of The Intercept, reported on this on October 9th:
“The Clinton campaign likes to use glitzy, intimate, completely off-the-record parties between top campaign aides and leading media personalities. One of the most elaborately planned get-togethers was described in an April, 2015, memo — produced, according to the document metadata, by deputy press secretary Jesse Ferguson — to take place shortly before Clinton’s official announcement of her candidacy. The event was an April 10 cocktail party for leading news figures and top-level Clinton staff at the Upper East Side home of Clinton strategist Joel Benenson, a fully off-the-record gathering designed to impart the campaign’s messaging:”
But well before those emails were leaked, I reported on the New York Times’ Charles M. Blow‘s rather telling video, recorded in April:
As I wrote in my April piece, good for Charles that he chose to stay away. But what of his paper’s journalists?
When is the Times finally going to do a public accounting of the ethical breaches its staff committed? A lot of journalists from all parts of the media were implicated and the public has a right to know that integrity is still a value the nation’s paper of record holds dear.
The Clinton campaign’s strategies were flawed beyond belief and on every imaginable and unimaginable level. There is no way that the degree of support and collusion it was able to garner and maintain all throughout, from the DNC and media, would not eventually become public. If not WikiLeaks, some other, not so privileged, organization would probably have pulled the plug on the con that was being run against the public, in order to control messaging. Then, as things unraveled and the truth came out, Donna Brazile was hung out to dry and left to fend for herself:
If this seems lame to the viewer, so should the entire election season.
The current media obsession with “fake news” is risible when one realizes that by allowing cozy relationships with a political campaign and reporters taking dictation or even just running their pieces by campaign officials before posting, means the mainstream media was the single largest purveyor of fake news throughout the primary process, when negative articles were written about Senator Sanders and all throughout the campaign, when media content may have been under the control of the Clinton campaign machine. An additional problem with the mainstream media is what didn’t get reported on. Instead of reporting on the true extent of the hurt suffered by those who fell out of the middle class and an idle working class, the Clinton campaign constructed the narrative of the “angry white voter” and the media ran with it to help the Clinton campaign. The divisions we are left with, post-election, are driving Democrats apart across class and race. In a recent appearance, Hillary Clinton spoke about the dangers of fake news. We knew about fake news during the election. Why wasn’t it an issue then?
Fake news are a problem that Clinton campaign operatives, David Brock and others, had a hand in creating and maintaining in addition to exerting undue influence over the media. There is no question that Donald J. Trump was the worst possible choice to lead this nation. There is absolutely no doubt, now that we know who his cabinet choices are, that Donald J. Trump’s incoming administration will be one of the most corrupt we’ve ever seen. There is no doubt that Trump will be served by a Congress that is corrupt to match.
Should Democrats still be consumed with recriminations against its working class contingent at this point in time? It shouldn’t be, but it is, with former Clinton surrogates leading the charge. A month after the election, the media is still full of pieces like these:
by Gil Troy
Should establishment Democrats still be leading in the exact same way they did prior to the election, without any consideration for the sizable split among the two main factions?
Shouldn’t we be organizing the biggest, loudest opposition to the Trump administration? Shouldn’t we be picking up the pieces of a broken party and putting it back together? Are we? Where?
As I write this piece, Louisiana just announced the results of its runoff election for the U.S. Senate. Without any support from the party apparatus, the Democratic candidate lost and the GOP will have a 52-seat majority.
Was Russian interference in this election a big deal? You bet! Was terrible judgment on the part of Democrats a bigger effing deal? You bet!
Jobs and a strong recovery were the main issue this cycle. Democrats blew it with the help of a complicit media. Jobs are still very much the issue and the media is still blowing it, with coverage that doesn’t reflect the reality that is lived by 90+ million Americans.
Yes, Donald J. Trump lied, and he did so pushing every hot button-issue voters had. Will he get away with it? It will all depend on how tight an opposition is formed to keep the public informed and engaged. It will also depend on whether or not progressive voters have representation. As of this writing, the latter seems highly unlikely, and progressive leaders should be coming to certain conclusions before all of the political capital amassed by Senator Bernie Sanders is wasted on trying to reform a party that is both too far gone, and whose leadership is far too powerful and entrenched.
The past year has been filled with sideshows and distractions. The next four years have the potential to be the same. Who will keep the opposition highly focused and engaged? Stay tuned!
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