fresh voices from the front lines of change







It’s already a Washington truism that Donald Trump, who promised to "drain the swamp" of lobbyists and others who exploit government for personal gain, has turned to it instead for his key appointments.

It's true. The reptiles are taking over. Let's take a tour of the place while we still can.

Welcome to Trump Swamp. Join us on the glass-bottom boat as we gaze on the denizens below. Keep your hands inside the railings – and please don’t feed the gators.

It's hard to get past the white nationalist in any discussion of Trump’s team. Sure, they call Steve Bannon's worldview “alt-right,” but that’s deceptive. That makes it sound like something new, when hatred is as old as the hills.

White supremacist Jared Taylor cheered Bannon’s hire, saying he suspected Bannon will serve as an “anti-waffler” to maintain Trump’s ideological and racial purity. (Taylor’s most recent tweet, as of this writing is, “Excellent Boston Globe article about the Hispanic invasion. This is how we throw away our country.”)

“I think that’s excellent,” said former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke of Bannon’s hire.

“Perhaps The Donald IS for ‘REAL’,” the chairman of the American Nazi Party exulted, adding: “Time will tell.”

Admittedly, when one of the President-elect's appointments gets positive responses from the KKK and the Nazis, it's hard to focus on his other hires. But it’s important. If "personnel is policy," as Sen. Elizabeth Warren says, then Trump’s policy is plunder.

Billionaire Steve Mnuchin is a leading contender for Secretary of the Treasury. As we first noted last August, Mnuchin ran a mortgage-lending outfit called One West, which was investigated for its abusive treatment of borrowers. The California Reinvestment Coalition asked authorities to investigate One West's pattern of racial discrimination in foreclosures, and specifically cited its "foreclosures of widows."

Looks like the proprietor of Trump University has found a soul mate. There are others.

Trump also sought out JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon for Treasury Secretary. Dimon has presided over a truly epic orgy of fraud during his tenure. Dimon is a generous campaign donor to politicians from both parties, which may explain why he has escaped serious investigation.

(Dimon wisely took his name out of consideration for the job. Elizabeth Warren would have humiliated him.)

Then there’s billionaire Wilbur Ross, a leading contender for Commerce Secretary. Ross, who is already reassuring investors that Trump won’t do anything rash on trade, invests in “distressed assets.” What the aliens in “Independence Day” do to planets like Earth, Ross does to troubled companies. He plunders them for anything of value and then leaves them in ruins.

And speaking of plundering a planet and leaving it in ruins, here are the leading contenders for Trump’s top energy and environmental slots:

Oil tycoon Forrest Lucas is a frontrunner for Secretary of the Interior. He makes his money by digging up the land he would be tasked to protect. But Lucas is not a one-dimensional candidate. He also hates animals.

Lucas is, as Politico reports, “one of the biggest donors to groups that attack the Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and (who) defend animal agriculture, hunting, meat consumption, rodeos and circuses.”

Like dogs? Lucas reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending puppy mills from a ballot initiative.

And you'll get two for the price of one: his wife and Lucas Oil co-founder Charlotte Lucas has attacked atheists and Muslims on Facebook, writing, “I'm sick and tired of minorities running this country!"

Feel like you’re in a swamp yet?

Trump's considering a real mother-fracker for Energy Secretary: Oklahoma oil billionaire Harold Hamm has extensive holdings in corporations that use fracking and other techniques to extract oil from Mother Earth. (What did you think I meant?) Hamm’s spent years trying to get federal lands turned over to companies like his for exploitation.

Bloomberg News reported that Hamm tried to get some earthquake researchers fired from the University of Oklahoma, where he's a major donor, because they were investigating the connection between oil and gas extraction and Oklahoma's "nearly 400-fold increase in earthquakes."

Expect more man-made earthquakes under a Trump/Hamm regime.

Trump is also reportedly planning to turn leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency to far-right environmental nemesis Myron Ebell. Ebell has parlayed his extreme anti-government views and his refusal to accept climate science’s findings – a refusal grounded in absolutely no scientific qualifications whatsoever - into a lucrative gig as the head of a fossil-fuel industry front group he calls the ”Competitive Enterprise Institute.”

Today the institute, tomorrow the world – destroying it, that is.

(Note to media: “Climate contrarian” is a weasel phrase. It’s like calling Flat-Earthers “geography contrarians.” The right term for Ebell is “industry-funded crank.”)

There are more cold-blooded creatures like these in Trump's world, but it’s time for our tour to end.

What we're seeing here is nothing new. Trump's only doing what his fellow developers did in the Florida Land Rush of the 1920s: He's selling people paradise, but giving them swampland instead.

Trump’s "contract with the American voter" promised that he would "clean up corruption and special interest collusion" in Washington in his first hundred days as president.

Oh, well. It won’t be the first contract Trump’s ever broken.

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