This Is The Way We De-Construct,
In an excellent piece in the online New Yorker on March 1st, Jeff Shesol noted a striking incongruity between Trump’s Tuesday night address and Steve Bannon’s speech to CPAC last Thursday. He pointed out the disparity between “the President who promised ‘a new program of national rebuilding,’ and the words of his senior adviser, Stephen Bannon, who announced, only five days earlier, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in Washington, that the Administration had begun a project of ‘deconstruction.’” Certainly these two ideas would seem to be at odds, unless we look a bit more closely at how Mr. Bannon has already begun what he described as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” As Shesol reports, Bannon said: “If you look at these Cabinet appointees,” he explained—referring, it seemed, to most if not all of them—“they were selected for a reason, and that is the deconstruction.” Given the Trump Cabinet appointments to date we should note that, in fact, this administration is clearly marching to Mr. Bannon’s tune and the Tuesday night address (which, no doubt, was written in large part by Bannon) was a convenient smokescreen.
Jeff Sessions’s lying under oath is only the latest in a list that should stagger us in terms of appointees who seem determined to destroy the Departments they are supposed to lead. A few, like Ben Carson at HUD and Rick Perry at Energy, will do so through pure ignorance and some misguided notion of “paring down Big Government.” While their motives are questionable, at best, they are simply incompetents fulfilling a Peter Principle of being promoted at least one step above their expertise. But other appointments, and Sessions is certainly among these, are clearly intent on sending their departments in directions that are 180 degrees away from their intended purpose. Let’s take a look.
I’ve written about Betsy DeVos before (see Blast Archive # 131, Jan. 29th) --- the fact that she needed a Vice President’s vote to break the tie for her confirmation speaks volumes. However, if one's purpose is to “deconstruct the administrative state,” who better to be your Secretary of Education than someone who has no experience whatsoever working in or with public schools? DeVos, who has sunk millions into failing charter schools in Michigan and believes in “for-profit” schooling, is clearly unqualified for the job as Education Secretary --- unless you want to dismantle that Department and make it a totally ineffectual arm of the government --- thereby making it logical to eliminate.
It is hard to imagine a greater “deconstrutor” than Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency. As Shesol noted: “hours before the President’s address on Tuesday, his aides were finalizing an executive order that will enable the rollback of E.P.A. regulations protecting streams, wetlands, and major bodies of water from pollution.” As I noted yesterday, this was happening while Trump was promising to protect our land and water. Here are four major problems the Environmental Defense Fund has with Oklahoma’s former Attorney General, Scott Pruitt: 1) Pruitt sued the EPA in 2011 to stop the “good neighbor rule,” which reduces hazardous soot and smog pollution that crosses state lines. 2) Pruitt also went to court to block policies to reduce toxic mercury, arsenic and acid gases from power plants, even though most coal plants and other facilities emitting such pollution were already on track to comply with the standards. 3) He fought clean air standards for national parks, and 4) “Pruitt says he doubts ‘the degree and extent of global warming are the actions of mankind.’ Apparently he doesn’t believe the scientists at NASA and all other major scientific organizations who know that pollution is causing dangerous changes to our climate. Pruitt has played a leading role in lawsuits, and called on states to resist the Clean Power Plan before it was even finalized. “(EDF website) A full-blown climate change denier, it’s easy to see how Pruitt will “deconstruct” the E.P.A. and insure that polluters and big business get their way over the next four (or more) years.
We have already seen Michael Flynn exit as NSC chief and Andy Pudzer resign before he was even confirmed as Labor Secretary, but it is clear that those were two more “deconstructors.” In today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman talks about Jeff Sessions’s lying in the context of other Trump appointees who have already lied during the appointment process. In “Goodbye Spin, Hello Raw Dishonesty,” Krugman points out:
After all, he (Sessions) is joined in the cabinet by Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who lied to Congress about his use of a private email account; Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, who lied about a sweetheart deal to purchase stock in a biotechnology company at a discount; and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, who falsely told Congress that his financial firm didn’t engage in “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents, seizing homes without proper consideration.
Price and Mnuchin are another pair who certainly do not have the best interest of their Departments --- or the greater American public --- foremost in mind and will do their utmost to “deconstruct the administrative state,” just as Bannon has planned.
Once again, do not be distracted by one (purportedly) “Presidential” address or by the clichés dished out Tuesday night. Without trying to sound paranoid, there are nefarious deeds being committed in the name of “nationalism” and “patriotism.” Don’t take your eye off the ball, don’t be distracted, don’t get fooled. The Russian Connection may yet unravel the entire House of Cards “deconstructors” cast but Trump and his sycophants, as well as his Handler, have managed to make it this far --- don’t think (t)he(y) won’t try to continue.