Totally Unacceptable Cabinet Picks: A Quick Rundown

In Trump’s ludicrous and disgustingly successful campaign, there was a pretty obvious dark strategy: be so terrible and so dishonest that the media couldn’t keep up. What was awful one day was subsumed the next by something else terrible, until it just became sort of white noise.

Now, I don’t know if this was genius; Trump is a genuinely awful and dishonest guy who does awful and dishonest things as a matter of course. He can’t help it. But he also knows the media, and knows how to distract them, and knows that being terrible wins (in business and reality TV and now, finally and fully, our politics, which have become a mix of his first two vulgar arts), because your opponents are just exhausted.

Anyway, I feel like that might sort of be his strategy with the cabinets. There are at least three picks so far which I have thought “this is the hill on which the Dems must die or nothing matters.”

  • Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who was named after Jefferson Davis, like his daddy and his daddy before him. Attorney General. Hates civil rights. Celebrates the end of the VRA. Wants to continue voter suppression. Will gut civil rights divisions, ignore right-wing racial militias. A dream come true for both the Klan and the alt-right. Can’t be allowed his position.
  • Scott Pruitt, for EPA. “Pruitt has been an ardent opponent of these efforts for years. He calls himself the “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda” and has long insisted that states can often regulate pollution better than the federal government can.” If the environment means anything at all, if we aren’t just going to rip up everything so that companies can squeee profit out of our air and land and water, and our bodies, then he can’t be allowed this position.
  • Andrew Pudzler, Labor. See prior post. Hates workers. Thinks that paying people as little as possible is moral. Doesn’t think that the minimum wage should rise about even $9, and would probably want to do away with it altogether.

And that’s not counting Mary Fallin for Interior, whose idea of running our land and parks is to throw open the doors and say “take what you want, guys!” Another disaster, both ecologically and for the idea of a common good (and who thinks the US didn’t build Oklahoma).  I’m sure I’m missing some.

So what to do? Do you fight all of these? You sort of have to, right? But will the Dems be too scared of “they are being obstructionist even though they accused Republicans of the same thing!” Do we fight these all? Or are we going to fall victim to exhaustion? To me, we fight. If liberalism means anything–hell, if the idea of a common good, and a sense that we work for and with each other–means anything, none of these choices are acceptable.

The thing is, like with Trump, I don’t know if exhaustion is a planned strategy. Like Trump, they really are all just this awful.

The Wisconsinization of Illinois


“Nice work, Walker!” Image from ChicagoNow

I’ve always loved Wisconsin. It’s fun to make fun of, but I have never once not had a great time in the state, whether camping up north or near Kettle Morain, hanging out by the lake in Milwaukee, relaxing in Door County with my lovely bride, reveling in the weirdness of Madison, or spending time at scenic Lake Ripley, my favorite spot, Wisconsin is always warm and hospitable. It’s got a great drinking culture, which doesn’t so much revolve around experimental cocktails as much as “the more the merrier”, and a great attitude toward eating. If there is one thing over which Scott Walker and I can bond, it’s ham, and the desire to eat more of it, at all hours. Ham for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can’t go wrong.

But ham is probably the only area in which Walker and I would agree on anything (although we could both confirm that empirical reality that he won’t be President, though I imagine we have different feelings about that). One other thing to love about Wisconsin was its progressive tradition, which came about naturally, from workers and farmers, as a reaction to the power of capital and its corrupting nature. That’s also why the backlash in Wisconsin was always so fierce, whether that was the union hating Herb Kohler Sr or the drunken lout McCarthy. Now, that backlash has reached its apex, as Walker and his pet legislature have turned this great state into their personal Koch-funded experiment, destroying voting rights, the social safety net, corporate accountability, and the environment. In short, trying to wreck everything that is great about Wisconsin.

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Mississippi Bending: The Michigan Convergence



Image via The Chicagoist and Seth Brown


If you were standing on the Lake Michigan’s eastern shores late this February, on a day unusually warm and clear for that bitter month, you would have seen the Chicago skyline, distorted and strange, rising up over the far horizon. Nearly 60 miles of lake separate these two shorelines, and visibility is essentially impossible. But due to a temperature inversion that caused a bending of light and water, the skyline rose up from the depths, grotesque and squat, but still visible, in a place where it manifestly should not be.

If you were to stand in the same place today and turn your gaze southward, you might see a similar, though distinctly more frightening illusion: that of the country folding in on itself, bending at some Mason/Dixon line of the national soul, and falling forward, imposing a grim Mississippi on Michigan. It isn’t just that the two states have primaries today. It’s that the vision of one of the parties is to create a deracinated owner’s paradise, the kind found in the south, and impose it on America’s working heartland.

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