It’s not fair that Donald Trump gets all the attention when there are so many other members of his clown circus begging for our disapproval. Let’s catch up with some of the in-laws, Cabinet members, hangers-on, deal-makers and opportunists ripe or downright rotten, just begging for the spotlight. Any of these fools might, on any given day, top the news cycle — if they are more outrageous than a presidential tweet.
Betsy DeVos. The woman who would oversee the nation’s educational system has, along with her husband, invested $5 million to $25 million (financial disclosure forms don’t specify) in a company that claims to make you smarter by putting a cap on your head that reads your brainwaves. Betsy hasn’t ‘splained herself, but Neurocore’s chief medical officer Majid Fotuhi told The New York Times, “Betsy DeVos really believes in improving brain performance.” A writer who went undercover to Neurocore said the cap reads brain activity as you watch a movie. And while a “clinical specialist” didn’t make a diagnosis, the writer said she did recommend a series of brain training sessions for a little more than $2,000. Maybe Betsy’s other business, Amway, can market that brain-cap performance thing. This is the woman who calls critics of her school voucher plan “flat-earthers.”
Ben Carson. Uncle Ben made news during Donald’s failed hostile takeover of Europe by telling us poverty is a state of mind, proving once again a person can be a brain surgeon and still the dumbest person in the room. He explained his remarks by saying, “There’s also a poverty of spirit. You develop a certain mindset.” The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who told us himself he would be horrible at such a job before he took it, drew lots of criticism like this, from Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY): “States of mind: Happy Sad. New York. Not a state of mind: Systemic poverty.” Okay, maybe this remark wasn’t as mind-numbing as Carson’s contention that compared modern American government (favorably) with Nazi Germany, or that the pyramids were used for grain storage. But don’t count Ben out yet, as he’s still very much in the running for “most likely to defy logic.”
Mick Mulvaney. The budget director once did the paperwork forming the Tea Party Caucus (need we go on?) As a Cabinet member, he’s still out of touch with reality and continues to bolster his claim that the life-saving Meals on Wheels program is “just not showing any results.” When Donald’s budget numbers were revealed (Donald was at the time being hoodwinked by Saudi Arabia after the king dangled a gold bauble in his face), Mick-Dick actually said this: “This is the first time, I think, in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes.” He then bricked his mother inside a fireplace chimney on a similar premise that she was too old and ill to contribute to society.
Ryan Zinke. What has Ryan Zinke been doing as Interior Secretary? Exactly what he’s told to do. Zinke has spent years telling people how much he wants to protect public lands. Now he doesn’t care whether 27 protected National Monument areas are turned over to mining, oilfields and cattle ranches. First in jeopardy is Utah’s Bears Ears, a 1.3-million-acre wildland of winding canyons, towering buttes and archeological sites, some of it sacred to Native Americans. First, Zinke ordered a short public comment period of just 15 days on use of the lands. Then he went on a “listening tour” with carefully curated pro-industry groups. At one stop a woman pleaded with Zinke to consider keeping the area protected. He spun around and chastised her to “be nice” as if she were a little girl — no, really, even Fox News covered it. Interestingly, Zinke and Sen. Steve Daines will be welcoming WWE try-out Greg Gianforte, the newest member of the Montana delegation, to the Hill. Zinke is best buds with Gianforte, and Daines once worked as a middle manager for Gianforte’s software business.
Rick Perry. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is back to destroying the agency. He famously tried to promise he would eliminate it in a famous 2011 presidential nominee debate, but couldn’t think of the name. He has since established a committee to study whether the government should support renewable energy resources on the premise that wind and solar power contribute to the “premature” closure of coal-fired and nuclear power plants. Perry named Travis Fisher to lead the study group, a political appointee who formerly worked for — yep, the Koch Brothers — who have written and spoken extensively against renewable power sources. Perry cited “national security” as a need for the study, and nobody believed him.
Sonny Perdue. “Religious liberty,” also known as the right to discriminate against the LGBT community, apparently has deep roots in Georgia. That’s why the former Georgia governor, now Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, barely waited for the ink to dry on Donald’s religious liberty executive order before issuing another just for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The issue centers on anti-gay wedding literature –placed there by the company — and found in the break room of a meat processing plant in Michigan. As Breitbart reports it (we mix jokes with facts here), inspectors threatened to shut down the plant because of anti-gay literature “mixed in with others” about traditional marriage. Inspectors are apparently allowed to inspect plants for signs of intimidation and harassment. Sonny’s order is “not optional” and “not discretionary.”
Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Mitch McConnell. What is the difference between Ryan and McConnell? Ryan makes ridiculous statements every day. About 100 eighth-graders visiting the Capitol last week refused to have their picture taken with Ryan. “I didn’t want to be in (the photo) because he believes in most of what Trump believes in,” said one.
John Kelly. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly spoke out in favor of the First Son-in-Law’s attempt to use a server in the Russian Embassy basement to talk to the Russians and not be bothered by those pesky American intelligence agents. Proving he really didn’t know much about the plan, he immediately said, “It doesn’t bother me.” Contrast that with remarks from James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, who said his “dashboard warning light was clearly on. I think that was the case with all of us in the intelligence community, very concerned about the nature of these approaches to the Russians,” Clapper told NBC News.
Jared Kushner. Saved the best for last, we did. Golden Boy’s patina has been tarnished with revelations that he wanted to set up a secret channel to talk to the Russians at the Russian Embassy. Secret, as in, from U.S. intelligence. The Washington Post reported the story, and whether the Russians made it up or not, it gave the Post a good excuse to dig a little deeper on Kushner’s modus operandi. The words “hardcore business tactics” turn up a lot. Seems as though Kushner on several occasions ordered his newspaper to do a “hit job” on business associates he has had a falling out with. He believes that both business and government are “blood sports.” He killed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s chance for a role in the Trump Administration because Christie was the prosecutor who convicted Kushner’s father of federal tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign donations. He unwisely bought New York’s most expensive office building for an inflated $1.8 billion and tried to get the Chinese to bail him out. And he got wife Ivanka to persuade Donald to lean on a debt holder for more favorable terms. Ivanka, it turns out, married her father after all.