Friday, January 20, 2017

Secretary Of Deplorable

Were it not standard operating procedure for Kellyanne Conway to make repulsive statements, it would have been unbelievable to read

"I'm sure you're aware some of these confirmation hearings have been show trials this week and an attempt to humiliate some of our incredibly qualified men and women who just want to serve our country," Conway said during an interview broadcast on several networks before she entered an inaugural dinner.

Asking questions which require little knowledge to answer, but which answer might reveal a nominee to be a hard-right ideologue is an unusual definition of "show trial." Yet, it may not be surprising for a Counselor to the President for  the first President of the United States to be investigated for intimate links to a foreign government.

Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State was asked about the lobbying conducted by the company he then headed, ExxonMobil, against sanctions imposed by President Obama on Russia and, Zak Beauchamp of Vox reported

“I have never lobbied against sanctions,” Tillerson said. “To my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions.”

This seems hard to believe. Indeed, after the second line, Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the committee, interjected: "I think you called me at the time [Russia sanctions were being debated]," he said. The public record backs him up: There is abundant and clear evidence that Exxon did lobby on sanctions under Tillerson’s leadership.

When Tillerson evaded questioning by Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine about research ExxonMobil conducted on climate change, the Senator asked "Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question or are you refusing to answer my question?" Tillerson responded "a little of both."  Tillerson was given 40.3 million dollars last year (200 million dollars in the decade prior) at the company he knows very little about.

Nevada was particularly hard hit by the foreclosure boon- uh, er, crisis and GOP senator Dean Heller, David Dayen explains

asked how many Nevada loans were in OneWest’s servicing portfolio. Mnuchin didn’t know. He asked how many foreclosures and loan modifications OneWest committed in Nevada. Mnuchin didn’t know. Heller apparently asked this of Mnuchin and his staff seven different times over weeks, and got no answer. Heller asked why Mnuchin and his investors bought OneWest. Mnuchin said it would have been more lucrative to invest in Bank of America. (Not true; the investors doubled their money when OneWest was sold.) Heller keyed in on the FDIC Loss-Share Agreement with OneWest, where the agency committed to backstop losses by the bank. Mnuchin couldn’t give a figure on how much money FDIC paid OneWest. The number is $1.2 billion. “You’re saying $1.2 billion isn’t an incentive to foreclose?” Heller asked. Mnuchin said no, but combined with the normal incentives among servicers to foreclose, this backstop was critical for OneWest.

CEO and principal owner of OneWest, foreclosure king Steven Mnuchin (net worth nearly $500 million) served on the board of CIT group when it acquired OneWest in 2015. He resigned from CIT in 2016 and recieved $20 million in total pay and an $11 million severance package for not knowing what the company does.

It is largely an ignorance of convenience for Tillerson, Mnuchin, and other Cabinet nominees. Republican senators are given palusibility deniability in voting for nominees whose radical  agendas would be rejected by the American people if revealed.

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, however, may be the real deal, not only a zealot but someone truly ignorant.  The Washington Post's Amber Phillips notes

There were several moments in her hours-long hearing when DeVos appeared not to know the answers to basic questions — about how much money her family had donated to the Republican Party ($200 million is “possible”), about whether states should follow a federal disabilities law (“I may have confused it” with a state law), about a debate roiling the education community over whether to focus on students’ grade-level proficiency or on growth.

“This is a subject that has been debated in the education community for years,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about that last question after DeVos stumbled with how to answer it. “But it surprises me that you don't know this issue.”

It's never a good sign when a President-elect's best nominee was someone selected because he's called "Mad Dog."  It's difficult to determine whether the others are ill-informed, deceptive, unqualified, or any combination thereof.

Kellyanne Conway, however, is not ill-informed or unqualifed. Cleverly deceptive, she is not, in common parlance, "out of control."   In an amazing example of psychological projection, the incoming Counselor to the President refers to "show trials" to imply a similarity of members of the legislative branch of government to totalitarian regimes- and especially to Russia. This is not by accident.  The highly-sensitive President she is serving does not like criticism, will not accept it, and-increasingly- will not tolerate it.

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