Nel's New Day

December 20, 2016

Trump’s Monsters for Cabinet Positions

Halloween came eight days late this year when Donald Trump (DT) was elected president of the United States on November 8. His selection began a parade of monsters, the like of which has not ever been seen in the Cabinet and other high federal government officials. It’s as if DT was thinking, “How much do I hate the people in the nation? Let me count the ways?” For the past month he has dribbled out names, each one more of a shock, as he uses the government as his personal toy. All his nominees for agency directors are diametrically opposed to the missions of the organizations that they would lead. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, “Personnel is policy,” and evidenced by DT’s selections, he loves these policies:

Racism, Voter Oppression, Climate Denial—the List of Civil Wrongs Goes On and On:

jeff-sessionsSen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is DT’s nominee for Attorney General, the person designated to protect legal rights for all the people of the United States through the Department of Justice. He may be the worst choice among all the DT nominees to be confirmed. (Michael Flynn doesn’t require confirmation for his position of Homeland Security Advisor.) It’s been 30 years since the Senate determined that Sessions was unfit to be a federal judge because of his outrageous racist comments, such as calling a black assistant U.S. attorney “boy” and the NAACP “communist inspired.” Yet his xenophobia continues into the 21st century as Sessions calls for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and connects terror attacks against the U.S. to all Muslim immigrant families. He may also have been the architect of DT’s wall idea and thinks that people born in the United States of foreign parents should not be citizens.

Sessions also opposes voting and LGBTQ rights and is  virulently anti-marijuana—now legal at least for medical purposes in over half the states. Just two years ago, Sessions said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Last year, he claimed that carbon dioxide is “plant food” and “not a pollutant” and accused White House  Science Advisor John Holdren of advancing a “political agenda” in explaining links between climate change and weather events such as droughts. His votes support pipelines, kill clean energy tax credits, and block the EPA. This is the man who would determine how the law of the country is interpreted and enforced.

Illness and Death:

tompriceTom Price, nominated for Secretary of Health and Human Services, wrote the bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act including the elimination of Medicaid, arguing that the health care “removes the very freedom and liberty that our founders fought for at its very core.” His plan is to privatize (aka get rid of) Medicare by this coming summer, reducing the “vouchers” to where insurance premiums will cost more than Social Security payments. Another Price goal is to decimate Medicaid by drastically cutting funding. Price also opposes paying doctors “based on quality and outcome.” He believes that the First Amendment lets employers refuse birth control to women and supports defunding Planned Parenthood and eliminating abortion. Sessions also sided with BP during its horrendous oil spill, helped create the congressional Tea Party Caucus, and is totally anti-LGBTQ.

Stupidity and Ignorance:

betsy-devosBetsy DeVos as Secretary of Education would wipe out public education through taxpayer vouchers to charter and private schools. Corporations will make a fortune in operating schools with no regulations, a curriculum that promotes religion, and minimum-wage teachers. DeVos, whose money comes from the Amway Ponzi scheme, joins Bill & Melinda Gates, Eli & Edythe Broad, and the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame to control educational policies in the nation. She is pro-creationism, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-science in her belief that global warming is a hoax.

Despite continued research showing charter school failures in many states, the DeVos “leadership” will continue the GOP dismantling of “government schools” to use taxpayer moneys for religious private schools. DeVos has compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.” Lamenting that public schools have “displaced” the church as the center of communities, she says that school choice leads to “greater Kingdom gain.” DeVos and her husband have put hundreds of millions of dollars toward that end.

DeVos’ brother, ex-Navy SEAL Erik Prince, founded the controversial private security contractor Blackwater (now known as Academi) and made considerable donations to first Ted Cruz and later DT. As a lobbyist with no educational experience except attending private schools, DeVos destroyed the schools in Michigan; now she has the same plan for the entire United States.

Fewer Jobs, Lower wages and No Worker Protection:

Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., listens during a panel discussion at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, April 30, 2012. The conference brings together hundreds of chief executive officers, senior government officials and leading figures in the global capital markets for discussions on social, political and economic challenges. Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants that includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has been nominated for Labor Secretary. He opposes raising the minimum wage and wants to automate service jobs to have fewer workers. (Note that Puzder is the choice of the candidate who swore he would give his voters more and better jobs.) Puzder also wants to cut assistance programs and use franchises to avoid paying benefits. His own employees get the lowest wages in the nation and are forced to use taxpayer money to survive. The fast food lobby is ecstatic: International Franchise Association President and CEO Robert Cresanti is looking forward to reducing the number of workers eligible for overtime pay and elimination of accountability for labor law violations at their franchises.

In 2004, Puzder settled three class-action lawsuits about overtime pay against his company for $9 million. A lawsuit against his company in 2013 for not paying managers overtime is still pending, and Puzder said in 2014 that his company had spent $20 million on labor lawsuits in the previous eight years. In another arena, Puzder was accused of domestic abuse by his first wife; police were called to their home at least twice.

Over 100 years ago, the Department of Labor was created “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” Now it will support the wealthy—and the robots.

Like DT, Puzder would suffer from massive conflict of interest because he would run the agency in charge of investigating employees—lime himself—for labor violations. The couple are also top-notch misogynists.  One of Puzder’s commercials is here.

puzder-philosophy

Lack of Transportation:

elaine-chaoElaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell (R-KY) and former Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, is DT’s nominee for the Department of Transportation. She has already shown her undying allegiance to business interests over enforcing laws to protect U.S. workers by mistreatment of workers in an epidemic of illegal salary underpayment as employers stole workers’ wages, identified by reports from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO). Chao also faked records to make her wage and hour office look better at resolving cases than it was in reality. She was also on the board of Wells Fargo when it scammed its customers for $2.4 million but stayed silent when former CEO John Stumpf quit after congressional hearings. If she is confirmed, Chao will oversee over three times the number of employees who report to the Labor Secretary and be responsible for the safety of roads, airplanes, and rails.

Rep. Bill Shuster, head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has said that DT likes the idea of privatizing air traffic control, a disaster ever since President Reagan eliminated its union and banned over 11,000 former employees from federal service for life early in his first term. Another possibility is privatizing airport security. (It might be noted that McConnell was adamant about not telling the people of the U.S. that Russia was exerting deliberate control over the 2016 presidential election. Chao’s nomination may be his reward.) Drone and driverless car industries would be delighted with Chao in this position because of her reputation for loose regulations.

The Disappearance of Small Businesses: 

linda-mcmahonLinda McMahon, the former World Wrestling Entertainment chief executive, has been nominated for Secretary of the Small Business Administration. With her reputation for crushing smaller competitors to achieve success, she’s another choice that opposes the agency mission. When she and her husband, Vince, took over WWE from Vince’s father, it was already a sizable business controlling wrestling in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. Showing little concern for a pact keeping independent wrestling businesses out of each other’s territories, WWE moved in, destroyed the competition, and established a monopoly. She declares wrestlers “independent contractors” and avoids such requirements as providing health insurance. The Small Business Administration acts as an advocate for small businesses by running a large loan guarantee program for them, helping with disaster relief, and advising on issues such as health care regulations. Small business owners are worried about McMahon controlling the agency.

And there are more!

November 24, 2012

Conservatives Don’t Get It, Don’t Quit!

One of my wonderful friends lives in Wisconsin, the anti-union state of the nation. She’s even a school librarian who has lost almost 10 percent of her salary since Scott Walker became governor through wage cuts and increases in her payments for health insurance and pension. Her following story clearly points out the class warfare between workers and the elite, sometimes called business owners.

“While I was waiting for my friend for dinner, I met a woman at the bar. Something about Obama came on the television, and she revealed to me that she was very sad that Mittens lost. I told her that I was on the other side of the aisle, and we had a moderately civil conversation. She said she was for Mittens because she owned a business and couldn’t afford Obama.

“As she was leaving, we got to talking about her boots that made her look much taller. She said, ‘Look at this,’ and she lifted her foot to show me the red bottoms of her boots, expecting me to be impressed. She did comment that the cost of the boots was equal to a mortgage payment. She asked about my footwear, and I held up my foot clad in my ancient but very sturdy Ecco sandals. She laughed.

“Later I Googled “red soles” and discovered the boots were Louboutin boots. I realized that our conversation was the race in a nutshell: Louboutin boots being afraid that the Ecco sandals were going to cost her too much money. It was an enlightening conversation.”

To save you the time of price comparison, Louboutin boots run about $2000; Ecco sandals can be purchased for under $50. The discussion shows the values of the wealthy in the United States who consider themselves to be far superior to the people who are educating their children.

Another story about insensitive superiority comes from Linda McMahon who poured $100 million into her two failed political campaigns for Connecticut senator. According to New Haven (CT) News 8, election campaign workers were not paid during the two days following Election Day. After they complained, they received checks that bounced. Twaine Don Gomes, who reported the problem, said his bounced check was accompanied by a little extra in the envelope. “Basically he handed me a check with a condom in it, told me I was screwed,” Gomes said. Maybe this means McMahon won’t be running a third time.

Stupidity meets superiority when Fox News pundit Andrea Tantaros dismissed the plight of hungry Americans, claiming that she would “look fabulous” if she were forced to live on a food stamp diet. Tantaros ignores the fact that the average Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) household has a monthly income of $731, and 76 percent include a child, elderly or disabled person. Without SNAP, even more Americans would go hungry.

Twinkies will be gone—at least temporarily—after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain gave Hostess permission to wind down and sell off its assets. The decision means the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes, and 570 bakery outlet stores along with the loss of 18,500 jobs. Hostess said about 3,200 workers are needed for a year to help with the liquidation. The sale of $2.4 billion would equal about one year in sales.

As might be expected, the company blamed union members for its failure. Yet earlier this year, the CEO received a 300-percent raise (from $750,000 to $2,550,000), and other executives almost doubled their exorbitant wages. Unions had already cut thousands of jobs and transferred or totally cut benefits while the company raided the retirement fund for easy funds. Flowers Foods (Georgia) and Sun Capital (Florida) appear to be interested in buying Hostess, putting the Twinkies back on the market. (Sun Capital CEO Marc Leder threw the party where Romney talked about the 47-percent moochers last May.)

So all the people who worked for Hostess lose their jobs and probably most of their pensions, the CEOs make out like bandits, and the company is reincarnated in a “right-to-work” state where the new workers will be paid minimum wage and get no pension. It’s another failure of the American Dream and another blow against the middle-class workers.

According to Josh Eidelson at The Nation, “For about twenty-four hours, Walmart workers, union members and a slew of other activists pulled off the largest-ever US strike against the largest employer in the world. According to organizers, strikes hit a hundred US cities, with hundreds of retail workers walking off the job (last month‘s strikes drew 160). Organizers say they also hit their goal of a thousand total protests, with all but four states holding at least one.” Walmart’s communicator, Dave Tovar, disagreed. “We are aware of a few dozen protests at our stores today.” Addicting Information has a sampling of photos and videos showing the protests.

Several other company CEOs are supporting poverty for the majority of people in the United States so that the highly-paid executives can pay less in taxes. Toward this end, they are lobbying Congress to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits.

Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren is part of a coalition with the campaign called “Fix the Debt” that spreads the myth that the country’s biggest problems are long-term debt and deficits rather than long-term high unemployment. The latter problem is actually appealing to company CEOs because it keeps the employees in line. Other members of the coalition are from Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Morgan Stanley; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; General Electric; Bank of America Corporation; Bain Capital; Delta Air Lines; JetBlue Airways; United Parcel Service; Marriott; and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Fix the Debt’s website had more information.

The election honeymoon is over: it’s time to get back to work because the conservatives haven’t stopped.

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