November 27, 2016

Trump in Transition (v3)

Reuters photo
 It's been a busy week since my last Trump in Transition (TiT) post was issued.

Trump has  moved his cavalcade of stars, his Cabinet Apprentice, from Trump Tower in NYC to Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, NJ, and then packed up his family and a few aides, I'm sure, and headed off to Trump Mar-a-Lago in Florida (where, yes, there is a Donald J Trump ballroom) for the Thanksgiving holiday, putting the traveling Trump press corps and the Trump security detail through their paces.

Coming up on the third-week anniversary of the Trump victory, things are moving along on with the orderly transition of power - in fact, it's going great, the POTUS-elect told us. Going great, just like The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, it is. Here it is, straight from the Donald himself:

Ah, the finalists...He announced four finalists last week, and he did it with a bang: he played the woman's card three times.

South Carolina Governor and early Trump basher Nikki Haley was selected to be our next UN Ambassador. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, has been a rising star in the Republican party, and is only 44, the youngest of Trump's appointees.  She's traveled a bit, looking to other countries to find investors in the Palmetto State's economy - which puts her a bit at odds with Trump's anti-globalist positions. She's more aligned with Trump on climate (anti-emission limits) and is pro-life, both of which could have significance given the UN's focus on tackling climate change and on reproductive health and reproductive rights.

There's also the whole question of what a Trump administration would mean for the UN, given the Republicans' general distaste for the UN as an unnecessarily limiting factor and gross interference in all things American. I think it remains to be seen how this will play out, once the full team is in place and starts trying to navigate our country's role vis a vis the Trump worldview.

The other woman is more in the Trump model: billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos was selected to dismantle, er I mean head the federal Department of Education. DeVos, in case you don't know, is married to the heir of the Amway fortune, and her family donated close to a million bucks just in 2015, and a couple hundred million to conservative causes over the years. Her husband unsuccessfully ran for governor of Michigan a decade ago, and she now runs the family's political action committee.

She's not shy about the point of her donations, either - here's what she said about that back in 1997:
Soft money (is) just hard-earned American dollars that Big Brother has yet to find a way to control. That's all it is, nothing more. I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return...(ed. note: and went on to describe those expectations to include traditional American virtues, limited government - and Republicans winning elections).
So, what does DeVos get with this opportunity? A chance to reshape the future of public education in the United States. Trump's plan calls for a $20B federal investment, along with $110B from the states to fund $12K for "every student in poverty" to go to a charter school, private school, or parochial school. That would be taxpayer money, not private money, which would be used to support private businesses and religious institutions. And this is right up her alley - her family led a failed effort to allow taxpayer dollars to fund private education for kids in Michigan back in 2000.

I wonder what happens to her family's PAC, assuming she's confirmed? Would there be an assumption of some kind of reverse-Clintonian quid pro quo if a group was offered DeVos money? I mean, it's money from her family so it must mean she's fully supportive of  how it's being spent, and she's a Cabinet-level official so there must be full government support, right? Is that a conflict of interest, or just one of those things that Republican billionaires do, about which I don't need to worry my pretty little non-10 head?

Finally, he appointed KT McFarland as his deputy National Security Advisor. McFarland, a former Fox News contributor and long-time DC operative, will join Michael Flynn in the NSA office.

For the sake of Haley, DeVos, and McFarland, I hope if they ever find themselves in a position of even mildly disagreeing with Trump (which of course would be considered nasty and not nice and failing and over-rated of them), he doesn't play his anti-woman card.

The other appointment? Our White House counsel (yes, that's correct: the person serves in the best interest of the office, not the office-holder). It was some guy named Don, who has some experience with election law and stuff. But who cares?

Nothing diverse about him.