Nel's New Day

November 25, 2017

DDT’s Appointment Bring Black Future

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known for retail sales and crowded stores, the day in the year that retailers start to declare a profit. Yesterday, Black Friday, also represents the future if Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) succeeds in transforming the United States into a dark nation through his male, conservative appointments. The grim backgrounds for DDT’s nominees would read like satire from the Onion of Andy Borowitz’s column in the New York Times if they weren’t real.

Thomas Brunell, DDT’s frontrunner for deputy director of the Census Bureau, may be the greatest stretch since non-scientist Sam Clovis took his name out of the running for top scientist at FDA. The country was saved from Clovis after he got caught up in the Robert Mueller special investigation of Russian collusion.

The decennial census, next scheduled for 2020, is the basis of elections and federal funding. Because the Census Director is in the Commerce Department, Brunell doesn’t need to be confirmed; he can just be named to rig elections. Why DDT would choose Brunell:

  • He testified a number of times in favor of GOP’s gerrymandering congressional districts.
  • He authored the book Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America. [Note that the subtitle shows the man who opposes competitive elections would be assigned to facilitating fair elections.]
  • He has no background in statistics. [DDT prefers people with no experience.]
  • He lacks any experience in managing a big organization.
  • He argued against expanded early voting because it “takes away from Election Day as a civic event.”

Alex Azar, nominated as a replacement for former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, comes from the U.S. branch of Eli Lilly, accused of colluding with other drug companies to control high prices for the life-saving drug insulin. In his campaign, DDT said, “The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder.” He has now appointed one of the killers to commit more slaughter. This statement might be taken literally. Azar was lobbyist for Lilly when they did not divulge that their painkiller Darvon was seriously addictive, its arthritis medication Oraflex caused at least 29 deaths in Europe, and the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa was not approved as an anti-dementia drug. Azar hates the Affordable Care Act and wants to gut Medicaid with block grants.

Kathleen Harnett White has had her hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works to lead the Council on Environmental Quality. As a climate skeptic and fossil fuel champion, she has said that coal help end slavery. She led Texas to attempt to hide data on how much radiation was in drinking water. Her hearing last week didn’t go well. Asked whether heat makes water expand, she said, “I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman study of the ocean dynamics and the climate-change issues.”

Mitchell “Mick” Zais, nominated as deputy secretary of education, discounts the effectiveness of early education programs despite research showing their successes and wants to slash education budgets.

Rev. Jamie Johnson, appointed last April as head of faith-based and neighborhood partnerships in DDT’s DHS, is responsible for helping people aid needy populations. Johnson’s statements show that he hates the community he is assigned to serve:

  • He said that the black community has turned cities into “slums.”
  • He argued that Islam’s only contribution to society was “oil and dead bodies.”
  • He said that black people are anti-Semitic because they are jealous of Jewish people. According to Johnson, Jewish people are rich because they work, and black people are poor because they don’t.

Robert Phalen is one of Scott Pruitt’s new appointees to the EPA Scientific Advisory Board, which helps develop environmental policy. Pollution is not a problem for health, according to the man who also complained about modern air being too clean for health. He joins 16 other nominees include people from the oil industry and a chemical industry trade association. Phelan might find Hargin (Heilongjiang Province, China) to be better breathing for him.

DDT may get into hot water with his firing of Richard Cordray for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and appointing Mick Mulvaney for its director. When Cordray resigned, he named Leandra English, the agency’s chief of staff, as deputy director, leaving her in charge. DDT claims that the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 allows him to designate a Senate-confirmed official to perform the functions of a vacant position until a nominee can be confirmed to the office. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act creating the CFPB provides a line of succession, with the bureau’s deputy serving as acting director in the “absence or unavailability of the Director.” At other agencies—such as Office of Management and Budget, the Small Business Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration—Congress also provides that the deputy takes over a vacant leadership post. Former Rep. Barney Frank, co-creator of the Dodd-Frank Act, said the law was written to stop a president from naming an interim director. The Federal Housing Finance Agency already established a precedent to blocking a president from appointing an interim director of the CFPB.

Appointees to federal agencies can be dumped with a different administration, but judges are forever, and the election losses last month has caused the GOP to move forward even faster to confirm unqualified judges.

DDT is most likely getting names for his appointed judges from the Federalist Society because a majority of them have ties to the ultra conservative group with donors such as the Koch brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Recently, the Senate approved Steven Engel 51-47 as Assistant AG for the Office of Legal Counsel. The Human Rights Watch opposed Engel because he supported torture under George W. Bush. The only Republican to vote against Engel, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had promised to vote against any nominee who is in favor of torture.

GOP panic from elections earlier this month are a catalyst to move forward even faster to confirm unqualified judges. The Senate Judiciary Committee accepted both Greg Katsas for the DC Court of Appeals and Brett Talley for the Middle District of Alabama. They have supported the oppression of voting rights, and Katsas, who has been opposed by over 200 civil rights groups, stated that he “worked on the White House’s response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election” and several other DDT issues such as DACA.

Talley, labeled unqualified by the American Bar Association, was a pro-DDT commentator, opposed gun safety laws, supports the dismantling of protection regulations, and expressed hostility toward civil rights laws. He is also a ghost hunter with a cult following for his paranormal writings. The fourth judicial nominee judged “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, Talley has never tried a case so he fits DDT’s requirement of “no experience,” but he referred to a former presidential candidate on his public Twitter account as “Hillary Rotten Clinton.” In addition, he supports armed revolution against government and pledge his total support to the NRA immediately following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In his opening statement before the committee, Talley said that he probably wouldn’t be there except for his wife. He’s right although he didn’t explain, even when asked if any family members might pose a conflict of interest. His wife, Ann Donaldson, is the chief of staff to Don McGahn, White House Counsel. She also appeared as a witness to the investigation of whether DDT obstructed justice.

During President Obama’s last two years in office, Republicans refused to consider his nominations, leaving vacant not only one Supreme Court position but also 103 other judicial openings. In the next year, DDT may add 650 lifetime members to the federal judiciary—twice as many as President Obama did in eight years. By next year, one in eight cases in federal court will be heard by a DDT-picked judge, and some of these will last another 30 years.

In their desperation for control and lack of concern for Senate rules, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is ignoring the “blue slip” rule allowing home-state senators to object to the worst nominees. Grassley had promised the former committee chair, Pat Leahy (D-VT), that he would honor the rule just as Leahy had for Republicans, even if their only reason was partisan. Leahy said about Grassley, “I trust him to keep his word.” Now Grassley says he will keep his word for district court nominees, but evidently not for appellate court nominees.

In addition to highly conservative, unqualified choices, DDT has displayed a remarkable lack of racial and gender diversity in his choices. Of the 58 DDT nominees for lifetime positions, 53 are white, three are Asian American, one is Hispanic, and one is black. Forty-seven are men, and eleven are women. The future of a multi-cultural society will be judged and ruled by white conservative males who are open bigots and misogynists, many of them with little experience, who oppose women, minorities, and LGBTQ people. Their contempt for the legal process matches DDT’s contempt for the presidency.

More appointments here. And here.

DDT did slip up on one nominee who sounded rational in his confirmation hearing. Dr. Dean Winslow, appointed as the Pentagon’s top health official, answered a question by saying how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy … a semi-automatic assault rifle like an AR-15, which apparently was the weapon that was used [in Texas].” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain quickly covered for DDT and muzzled Winslow by saying to the experienced medical professional about a position as a health official, “Dr. Winslow, I don’t think that’s in your area of responsibility or expertise.” Winslow’s position on the relationship between guns and public health may be enough to disqualify him among Republicans.

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