BY VERN TURNER
We’ve all watched as undesired refuse, dirt and other bad stuff washed down the drain and into the sewer or septic system and out of our lives forever. None of us cared where that stuff went, just so it was out of our lives, off of our bodies and into some great, remote place. Sometimes, we overloaded the drain with too much dirt and water only to watch the foul mixture flood the area around the drain. We inadvertently swamped the drain.
This may sound like a stretch, but I can’t help but hear the echoes of Kellyanne Conway and other Trump surrogates – and Trump his own-self – say the very words: “drain[ing] the swamp.” Now, we’ve just watched another week of Trump selections for his cabinet and other important positions in the executive branch, and look what he did with the swamp. I’ve mentioned earlier picks in other essays, so I won’t list all of the other cronies and swamp dwellers he picked from Goldman-Sachs and other suppliers of swampiness.
First, there is Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma who is a climate change denier of the first order and who even sued the EPA for interfering with his pals’ drilling the daylights out of Oklahoma. He’ll now get to feel the pain of his own lawsuit as the new director of the EPA. This would be hilarious if it weren’t for the added irony of realizing that this guy will be sent in to dismantle the EPA and let pollution reign.
Then, we have the aptly named Andrew Pudzner as secretary of labor. This guy, the current CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurant chains, is all about not paying people anything. He is totally against minimum wage, overtime pay and most other labor laws. Furthermore, Mr. Pudzner is a strong advocate of robots doing the burger flipping instead of low-wage workers. Good luck with being a blue-collar worker looking for a way to pay off your student debt, feed your family or actually have a roof over your head.
Or, how about a guy named Cohn as head of the National Economic Council? He was Mr. Blankfein’s No. 2 at Goldman-Sachs. That investment firm keeps popping up, doesn’t it? We now have a secretary of treasury from G-S too. We might recall how Donald the Trump bad-mouthed G-S during the presidential campaign, especially when railing against Ted Cruz … whose spouse was a VP there. Is anyone else seeing a kind of fraternal connection here?
Kellyanne Conway, the ultimate sister of spin, has spouted how refreshing this departure from cronyism is. I guess it depends which end of the funnel of truth one is looking through to make that determination. Then, Kellyanne is very good at her job and intends to keep it for as long as there are weird things to spin, deflect and obfuscate. It’s what she does; she’s very good at it and she’s getting plenty of practice.
The Washington Post just published a front-page story about how the Russians absolutely infiltrated our cyberspace to assure that Donald Trump get elected President. Why would they do that? Trump and his war hawks have all thumped their chests about how Putin pushes people around and how they won’t be pushed around by him, blah, blah, blah. Well, there is this guy who is the CEO of Exxon/Mobil who just got selected as our new secretary of state, the most important cabinet position in our nation. Rex Tillerson also recently received the highest civilian award Russia can bestow on a non-Russian. Why? It seems that Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Putin met in Putin’s dacha near Sochi to draw up a cute little $500 billion oil development deal before the Obama sanctions went into effect.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of this story is the fact that the CIA briefed Congressional leaders about this infiltration from Russia in September 2016. A consensus to tell the American people was not reached because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican allies said they thought it sounded too much like a political ploy to help sway the election to the Democrats. Yeah. This from a sitting U.S. senator … Politics apparently supersedes national security. Maybe I don’t understand the law, but there’s a word that starts with “T” that comes to mind here.
Pause. Calibrate. Could it be that that deal will once again get moving? Will our new secretary of state have anything to do with greasing those wheels? What will the Russians ask for? What more will we ask for from the Russians? Will it be another appeasement fiasco like 1938, but instead of giving the Germans Czechoslovakia, we’ll be letting the Russians take the rest of the Ukraine and maybe Latvia for a cherry on the sundae? The whole world will wait and wonder what this juicy bit of coincidence will yield. Will that “failing and dishonest media” jump on this like a chicken on a June bug, or will those same closed doors that brought us the Bush energy deals be closed again to some real international intrigue?
Since this is an opinion piece, my opinion is that the swamp has just been loaded with a new breed of swamp dwellers. You can call them cronies, or monsters, or counter-Democrats, or whatever you like, but the swamp in which the next Trump tower will be located will need a much larger drain in 2020 … or before, to clean up the mess that is on the way.
Think of how much hard work went into regulating the pollution of our air, streams, rivers and soil by our feckless industries. Soon to be gone … Think of all the hard work developing labor laws and minimum wages for workers’ fairness and benefits for their pursuit of happiness. Good-bye.
The hose necessary to drain and clean the swamp being generated by the coming administration will need to be large indeed. Not only will we have to undo all the retrograde edicts and legislation coming down the road, and restore decency and sanity to our public policies, but we will also have to clean up the mess from deals made with foreign powers that may be very ugly and compromising indeed. Unless the drain is very large too, it will be swamped with the mire of the four years of the Trump presidency.
Another part of that swamp belongs to the Republicans in Congress. That glassy-eyed stare you see coming from House Speaker Paul Ryan means he thinks he has his shot at overturning everything about the New Deal including Social Security as well as Medicare/Medicaid. Now that he’ll have friends in the Trump cabinet, including Treasury, Health and Human Services, Commerce and economic counsels, he is fairly quivering with excitement at the prospect of making America a much poorer and more unhealthy country.
I have to ask how and why the good people of Wisconsin managed to elect Ryan and another swamp creature in Scott Walker? These guys are all about dismantling our social services so their paymasters in Kansas can get richer. Why would they do that to their own people and constituents?
That stink you smell now will only get worse as the swamp fills with more refuse and creatures of the night. Of course, there is the possibility that the arrogance of Donald Trump at keeping his conflicting businesses going at the expense of our national security and integrity will overreach – as greedy bastards so often do – and he will get himself impeached and convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors. If he doesn’t keep his new Republican friends happy with the deals, they will turn on him with a vengeance and his bullying will get him nowhere.
We can always hope for the best. Keep a can of Drano handy.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer and The Smoking Section. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.