Senate Confirmation Hearing Disorder
“Give him a chance!” cried the Republicans, who never gave Obama a single chance in eight years. Okay, what are the first things the fascist President did? He nominated his cabinet heads, which made his intentions pretty clear. It looks like there’s a fox to guard every government henhouse; a long-time foe of the EPA to head the EPA, a private charter school advocate for Education, a long-time racist and bigot for Attorney General (the nation’s highest law enforcement officer), a former Goldman-Sachs hedge fund manager to manage Treasury, and a long-time enemy of workers’ rights to head Labor. They’re all like that, including the CEO of Exxon-Mobil for Secretary of State. Maybe the Donald is just screwing with us, rather than screwing us, but I think not. Each had to be confirmed by the Senate, and so the hearings began. Let’s have a look at some of the contestants.
Scott Pruitt is a self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” As the Oklahoma Atty. Gen. he’s filed a dozen lawsuits against the agency’s regulation of toxic substances like mercury and arsenic. He’s the nominee to head the agency.
Andy Puzder is CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., and a fierce opponent of paid sick leave, the minimum wage, and overtime pay. He’s the nominee for Secretary of Labor.
Sen. Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions (R-AL), the nominee for Attorney General, once called a black attorney “boy” and another time said he “thought the KKK was okay, until I learned that some of them smoke marijuana.” Sessions insisted none of that was true, even though he was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 due to his racism. Get this — Strom Thurmond chaired the Senate Committee that rejected him for being too racist. Strom Thurmond — who had run on a platform of segregation — thought he was too racist! He has called the 1965 Voting Rights Act “a piece of intrusive legislation” and unconstitutional. As we saw above, he’s vehemently anti-pot. In a Senate hearing in 2007 he called for more mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions, saying “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Steve Mnuchin was a hedge fund manager for Goldman-Sachs. Then came the housing market collapse in 2007. Smelling blood in the water, this shark bought a failed bank, renamed it WestOne, and turned it into a foreclosure mill that threw over 35,000 people out of their homes (including a 90-year-old woman who missed a payment by 27 cents). One trick they used was telling people they had to be late on their payments to qualify for a loan modification program, then when they were late, they were foreclosed on. WestOne is currently under investigation by HUD, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
How have they performed at the hearings? Betsy DeVos, of the vast Amway fortune, has never taught, never attended a public school, nor have her children. She’s a big pusher for private, for-profit charter schools, which of course are for the best and brightest (white children of privilege). Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked her, “If confirmed, will you insist upon equal accountability in any K-12 school or education program that receives taxpayer funding whether public, public charter, or private?”
DeVos” “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Equal accountability?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Is that a yes or a no?
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine went to another question: “Should all schools that receive taxpayer funding be required to meet the regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act?”
DeVos: “I think that’s best left to the states.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) had a question: “Do you think that guns have any place in our schools?”
DeVos: “I think that’s best left for localities and states to decide.”
Murphy pressed on, “You can’t say definitively that guns shouldn’t be allowed in schools?”
DeVos said she deferred to Sen. Enzi (R-WY), and mentioned a school in Wapiti, WY, that might want to have a gun handy “in case of grizzlies.” Really. Grizzlies. This is unbearable.
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), nominee for Secretary of HHS (Health & Human Services) hates Obamacare. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) asked him, “Do you believe that health care is a right of all Americans, whether they’re rich or poor?”
Price: “We are a compassionate society . . .”
Sanders: “No, we are not a compassionate society,” and mentioned that the U.S. is the only one of the developed nations that doesn’t recognize this right.
Price: “We want every single American to have access to the highest quality health care.”
Bernie exposed the weasel word “access,” which means anyone can walk into a doctor’s office or clinic, but that doesn’t mean they can afford the care. Anyone can go the ER, and either they’re stuck with a huge bill they can’t afford, or the rest of us pay for it with higher premiums and deductibles. Then it was Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) turn. She asked him about the budget he approved as Chair of the House Budget Committee calling for cuts over the next decade of $449 billion to Medicare and $1 trillion to Medicaid. “Is that right?” she asked.
Price: “You have the numbers before you.”
Warren: “Is that a yes?”
Price: “You have the numbers before you.”
Warren: “I’ll take that as a yes.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) asked him whether it was true that “President Trump said he’s working with you on a replacement plan for the ACA which is nearly finished and will be revealed after your confirmation.”
Price: “It’s true that he said that, yes.” (laughter) It went on like that. And there’s still the matter of Price buying stock in a company that makes hip and knee replacements, then six days later introducing a bill delaying a regulation that would have cost them money.
Rex Tillerson is CEO of Exxon-Mobil, the world’s largest privately-held oil company, and the nominee for Secretary of State. His company has a $500 billion investment in Russian oil, except for those pesky sanctions. Putin likes him, and awarded him Russia’s highest award for non-citizens, the Order of Friendship. Also, we now know that Exxon knew 40 years ago their industry would heat up the planet, but instead hired scientists to prostitute themselves by denying their own science. Tillerson was asked about that by Sen. Kaine:
Tillerson: “I’m in no position to speak on behalf of company executives [like himself!]. You would have to speak to them.”
Kaine kept on as Tillerson kept dodging, and finally asked, “Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or are you refusing to do so?”
Tillerson responded, “A little of both.”
Are you sensing a pattern here? But let’s get to the main entrée — Rick Perry. He may be the 2nd dumbest man in Texas (no one will ever beat Louie Gohmert). Perry is the former Governor of Texas, but his last job was as a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.” In a 2011 GOP presidential debate he tried to list the three government agencies he would cut: “Education, uh, Commerce, and uh . . .” He couldn’t remember the third. “Oops,” he said, and that was the end of his candidacy. The agency he couldn’t recall is the very one he has been nominated to head — Energy. At the time he was nominated, he thought it was like a “good will ambassador to the oil and gas industry.” He had no idea its main function is to monitor the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Oops. The last two heads were Ernest Moniz, Chair of Physics at M.I.T., and Stephen Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Perry got a B.A. from Texas A&M in Animal Husbandry. He took four courses in chemistry and got 2 Cs, a D, and an F. He also got a D in a course called “Meats.” I swear, I’m not making any of this up! As Bill Maher said, “He may not know what a centrifuge is, but he can jerk off a horse.”
This whole wrecking crew will be confirmed, every one, because the Senate has the majority, and confirmations for cabinet positions cannot be filibustered. This is due to a rule change by then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2013. Then Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that the Democrats would regret that decision, and maybe sooner than they think. And here we are. But don’t worry, little sheep. Did your President not say during his Inauguration speech, “Hear these words: you will never be ignored again!” So do not trouble yourselves. He cares for you so much that he has appointed a pack of hungry wolves to look after you, and keep you from any harm.