Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Who's Next?

There has been a lot of talk of impeachment ever since donald trump took the oath of office in the rain that didn't happen in front of the biggest inauguration crowd ever that wasn't really there. I have a problem with this.

Not because I think trump is fit to serve as president. Far from it. My problem lies in the line of succession, because the list of people who would take over are as bad, if not worse (for the most part), than the trumpster fire himself. Consider the list below (in order of succession):

 Vice President: Mike Pence

The guy is a raving right-wing religious nut who famously said that he is a "Christian first, a conservative second, and a Republican third." A hard-core ideologue, he is just as belligerent and nasty to marginalized (aka "not straight white Christian men") groups as trump is, but with a soothing FM radio voice and some political skills. Pence would, in all likelihood, attempt to lead the United States into a theocracy and (I suspect) ignore the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment if not have it thrown out entirely.

Speaker of the House of Representatives: Paul Ryan


Paul Ryan is that guy who read Ayn Rand in high school and constantly pesters people with supposedly deep insights gleaned from "Atlas Shrugged." The problem is a) it's not high school any more, and b) he has demonstrated time and again that he is basically a whore, willing to do whatever it takes to boost his campaign donations and remain in power. Often cited as the "intellectual center" of the Republican Party, Ryan has the rare gift of being able to convince people that he is a brilliant conservative thinker when he is showing himself to be nothing more than a lap dog.

President pro tempore of the Senate: Orrin Hatch

Senator Hatch is probably the most thoughtful, least-likely-to-get-us-all-killed person on this list. A staunch, principled conservative, his policy proposals would probably anger those on the left, but it's a safe bet that he wold work across the aisle to get things done and it is unlikely that he wold launch a nuclear first strike against the New York Times.

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

Oops, my bad ...

Egad, no. An oil executive as president? This guy would drill for oil in Arlington National Cemetery if he thought there was even a hint of profit to be made.

Secretary of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin

Other than him being a Goldman Sachs stooge, consider his role in the 2008 crash ... he bought IndyMac in 2008, renamed it OneWest Financial, and began a campaign of aggressively foreclosing on homes whose owners had fallen behind on mortgage payments ... contradicting efforts by the Obama administration to shore up home ownership as a way of mitigating the financial crisis. He then sold OneWest in 2015 to CIT Group.

Secretary of Defense: James Mattis

It is common knowledge that Mattis is a highly capable, decorated military man, with an impressive military record. However, I am not at all comfortable with someone named "Mad Dog" in a position that requires diplomacy, tact, and nuance. Just sayin'.

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions

Let's see ... Hank Hill's dad as president of the United States. What could go wrong?

Secretary of the Interior: Ryan Zinke

Riiight. A Secretary of the Interior that makes James Watt (Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, who once banned the Beach Boys from performing on the Mall for an Independence Day concert because "they attract the wrong element") look like a reasonable moderate. This is a guy who has voted repeatedly to turn federal lands over to the states, presumably because it would then be easier to circumvent environmental regulations in favor of drilling interests. Where do I sign? 

Secretary of Agriculture: Sonny Perdue

Look, I like Ed Asner as much as the next guy, but a Southern governor who signed into law a voter ID law that was deemed by a federal court last year to target African-Americans "with almost surgical precision," and who ran (and presumably still has a stake in) a company that trades agricultural commodities globally ... which, incidentally, is regulated by the Department of Agriculture? Yeah, that's a GREAT idea.

Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross

Okay, not for nothing, but this guy looks for all the world like he's about to launch into a tirade about those pesky neighborhood kids. Do we really want someone running the country who looks like he's about to demand that North Korea get the hell off our lawn?

In addition, Ross has been a partner in the Bank of Cyprus with Viktor Vekselberg, one of the richest people in Russia who also has close ties with Vladimir Putin. But there's no Russia connection in the trump administration, right?

Secretary of Labor: Alex Acosta

Alex Acosta, formerly the dean of Florida International University's law school, was selected by trump after Andrew Puzder backed out due to opposition from Senate Republicans. Acosta was chosen presumably because he a) has no skeletons in his closet (yet), and 2) did not publicly advocate for eliminating the minimum wage entirely, thus giving employers the ability to screw over their hourly employees even more than they already do.

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Tom Price

Here we have a Secretary of Health and Human Services who was accused of insider trading because he bought stock in a medical device company that was under discussion for favorable treatment from Congress. Perfect. Sounds very trumpian.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson

Yeah, that's right. The "Eqyptian pyramids were grain silos" guy.

Secretary of Transportation: Elaine Chao

The Secretary of Transportation is the next in the line of succession. However, Ms. Chao is not eligible to server as president by virtue of not being a natural-born citizen (having been born in Taipei).

Secretary of Energy: Rick Perry

This is a guy who, when nominated to head the Department of Energy, was unaware that the department oversees America's nuclear arsenal. He honestly thought his role was, basically, to be a lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry.

Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos

She's opposed to public education, preferring private religious institutions. She is part owner of a company that makes student loans and is more than willing to undo any regulations to protect consumers from usury. She is arguably the least qualified candidate in history (apart from trump himself). What's not to love?

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: David Shulkin

A former undersecretary for health in the Department of Veterans Affair, Dr. Shulkin is probably the most qualified person trump has appointed. Little is known about his stance on issues outside the VA, however, so he's kind of a cipher.

Secretary of Homeland Security: John F. Kelly

General Kelly has publicly stated that trump's border wall will probably never be built. However, he is as much of an immigration hawk as trump and has publicly stated that sections of the wall will be built in places that make sense (whatever that means).

So there ya have it. The rogue's gallery of trump administration officials who are officially in line to take over if he is removed from office. As you can see, with one possible exception (Hatch) and one definite one (Chao, by virtue of not being eligible for the presidency), none of these people would be much of an improvement. However, in the interest of not being completely negative, might I propose that removal efforts begin against trump, Pence, and Ryan simultaneously, hopefully generating enough political heat that we can get Hatch in there (who could actually do the job)?

My two cents.

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