Who's Who in the Bush Cabinet

While pundits thrashed about desperately during Election 2000 to inflate micronic differences between Gore and Dubya, one of the most important differences went largely unremarked: their probable Cabinet appointees. Now that George II has unveiled his choices, the cause for alarm has become apparent. In contrast to Bush's mediagenic rhetoric of bipartisanship and healing, few of his top administrative picks can be considered "moderate."

Meanwhile, the prospective Cabinet is littered with nominees that the Democratic Party should oppose -- for example, several are frothing, rabid ideologues, and several (Veneman, Norton, Mineta, Whitman, Rumsfield) are frightfully cozy with the industries they will be enriching. Others are completely unqualified. The Democrats zeroed in on John Ashcroft, and, improbably, Linda Chavez -- who needed opposing not because of acts of compassion to "illegal" immigrants, but because she was an unqualified zealot who knew nothing about labor. Democrats should also, at a minimum, be going after Veneman, Abraham, Norton, Whitman, Thompson, Martinez, Rumsfield, Powell, and Rice. At minimum.

Instead, the Democrats, who should rightfully occupy the White House, are rolling over and playing dead. Ashcroft will win confirmation; excepting John Tower's 1989 scandal troubles, the Senate has never in modern history failed to confirm a former colleague to the Cabinet. The others, despite some noise, will all sail through with the usual Senatorial and media kissy-kissy. Here's what we're in for:

Dept of Agriculture, Ann Veneman

Assistant Secretary of Agriculture under George I (91-92). Spent seven years in Dept. of Agriculture under Reagan-Bush (86-92). Ran CA state Agriculture Dept. Served on the board of Calgene, which researches genetically engineered foods (92-94). She's pro-GE foods, pro-export, pro-globalization, pro-cutting (she will oversee the Forest Service), and helped to negotiate farm portions of the GATT agreement.

Dept of Energy, Spencer Abraham

In 1999, he was one of a handful of Senators who sponsored a bill to abolish the DOE. He was a top aide to VP Dan Quayle. He's a major advocate for auto industry. In 2000, he joined a bid to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. Strongly favors utility deregulation. No idea how to manage the DOE's nuclear weapons facilities.

Dept of Interior, Gale Norton

Norton lobbied in DC for a lead paint manufacturer, NL Industries, which is named as a defendant in lawsuits involving 75 Superfund and toxic waste sites, plus a dozen suits of children poisoned by lead paint. Was Colorado's Attorney General from 91-99. Supports mining and oil and gas exploration and more timber harvesting on all federal lands. A harsh critic of the Endangered Species Act, her first job in 1979 was at James Watt's Mountain States Legal Foundation. Founder and serves on the Advisory Committee for the Coalition of Republican Environmental Advocates, a pseudo-green front group funded by energy companies and associations representing the mining, logging, chemical, and coal industries. She pushed for Colorado's "self-audit" law that allows polluting companies to monitor themselves.

Dept of Transportation, Norman Mineta

Currently Commerce Secretary under Clinton. He was a senior VP at Lockheed Martin Corp. He was a key author of the 1991 Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which devolved responsibility for transportation down to state and local governments. Most importantly, he's a big supporter of the aviation industry (Boeing & Lockheed Martin love him).

EPA, Christine Todd Whitman

As governor, she cut the New Jersey environmental protection budget by 30%, relaxed enforcement of pollution regulations, promoted voluntary compliance by industry, abolished NJ's environmental prosecutor's office. New Jersey has the highest number of Superfund sites in the nation. She regularly fought with the EPA over numerous issues concerning lax compliance with environmental laws in her state. Whitman has said she doubts that the giant ozone hole over the North Pole or global warming are actually serious problems.

Dept of Commerce, Donald (Donnie) Evans

George II's closest friend and confident. As his presidential campaign chairman, he raised $100 million. Only worked for one company in his life: Tom Brown, Inc., an oil and gas company. Nine years as President and 10 yrs as CEO. No Wall Street or economic experience at all.

Dept of Treasury, Paul O'Neill

Was deputy director of Office of Management & Budget under Ford. Chairman of Alcoa Corp., one of the nation's largest toxic polluters; O'Neill's shares are worth more than $50 million. Political policy insider, no Wall Street or economic experience. Supports balanced federal budget, critic of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes. Chair of the board of Rand Corp., serves on other right-wing think tank boards.

Office of Budget & Management, Mitch Daniels

Corporate VP for Eli Lilly & Co. pharmaceuticals for the last 13 years. The two things he'll be doing in his job is drafting the national budget and dealing with tax issues; he is completely without experience in either arena. Served as political director under Reagan (85-87). Headed right-wing think tank Hudson Institute. A key player in Quayle's VP campaign.

Assistant for Economic Affairs, Larry Lindsey

A defender of Reagonomics. Long-time tax-cut advocate who drafted George II's tax cut plan and his plan to reform Social Security by creating individual investment accounts. He'll pull the economic strings.

Dept of Education, Rod Paige

Former collegiate head football coach. As Houston School Superintendent, he raised test scores, downsized administration, moved authority out to individual schools. His key issues are literacy, school safety, testing. He takes a fence-sitting role on school vouchers.

Dept of Health & Human Services, Tommy Thompson

As governor, imposed Wisconsin's harsh, trendsetting welfare reform. He opposes abortion, signing legislation that forces WI women who want abortions to seek counseling first, then wait three days before surgery. Wants to convert Medicaid to a system of block grants to states. Wants to "restructure" Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid.

Dept of Housing & Urban Development, Melquiadees Martinez

George II's thank-you kiss to Florida. His only housing experience is serving as chairman of Orlando Housing Authority for two years (84-86). He's very vocal on right-wing Cuban issues; he has called for a naval blockade of Cuba. A yes-man who has no clue about housing.

Dept. of Labor, Elaine Chao

A Taiwanese immigrant, Linda Chavez's replacement also has little experience with unions or industry; she comes from a stint as President/CEO of United Way, and is a past (91-92) director of the Peace Corps. A Dept. of Transportation official under Reagan. Married to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is famous for his strident opposition to any and all campaign finance reform. Her actual record is indistinguishable from Chavez: she opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which increased worker rights to sue for discrimination in the workplace. She's against affirmative action and has criticized efforts to diversify workplaces. She opposes the new rules on ergonomics in the workplace and she supports allowing workers to withhold the portion of their union dues that would be used for political purposes. She's also likely to oppose any increases in the minimum wage.

Dept of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi

Deputy Secretary of V.A. under George I, later ran the agency under him. He's a decorated vet of Vietnam War. He has also served as chief operating officer of Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems.

Dept of Justice, John Ashcroft (Atty General)

Opposes abortion, hates gays, supports the death penalty, opposes a moratorium on executions, wants tougher sentences for drug crimes, opposes any and all gun control laws. Scuttled the appointment of Ronnie White (the first African-American on the Missouri Supreme Court) to a federal district court bench. In a 1998 interiew he lauded the cause of pro-slavery Confederate secessionists; in 1999, Ashcroft got an honorary degree from Bob Jones University. Lobbyists reportedly consider him an advocate for drug companies and the automotive industry, and for preventing consumers from suing HMOs.

Dept of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

Defense Secretary under Ford ('75-'77), ambassador to NATO in '72, worked for pharmaceutical companies GD Searle and Gilead Science Inc. He testified against the chemical weapons convention, opposed the SALT II arms agreement, and supported the MX and B-1 and B-2 bombers. Past board member of Hoover Institution (right wing think tank), and is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. A leading proponent of Star Wars and other costly, hi-tech gadget weaponry, his Rumsfield Commission's inaccurate, alarmist views of North Korea and Iran gave Clinton the necessary cover to support National Missile Defense. Opposed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He supports -- surprise! -- massive increases in an already bloated military budget. Paranoid about attacks against US communications satellites and US computer systems.

Dept. of State, Colin Powell

In Vietnam, Powell's casual investigation rejected as false initial charges of a civilian massacre at My Lai. As a member of Reagan's national security team, he personally arranged the illegal transfer of at least 2,000 missiles to Iran. In his autobiography, Powell claims that he was "the chief administration advocate" for the Contras. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for both the invasion of Panama (and decimation of civilian neighborhoods) and the Gulf War. Powell has been dismissive of Gulf War Syndrome, while 184,000 of the 697,000 Gulf War troops have filed disability claims with the government. Powell has no experience with diplomatic matters of state.

National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice,

Spent two years as a mid-level staffer and Soviet expert for the National Security Council during the '80s, her only federal experience. Her only expertise is the old Soviet Union. She is an ardent globalization fan, and is on the board of Chevron Oil, one of Africa's worst human rights abusers. Chevron recently named an oil tanker after her. She favors continuing Iraq sanctions, likes Star Wars, and argues for global domination. She has lots of opinions, but very little knowledge of contemporary foreign affairs.

US Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick

Most notable for his ardent support of free trade and globalization, Zoellick, as a State Dept. Undersecretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs in the George I years, was a prime architect and negotiator for the proposals that became NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. An Assistant Secretary in the Treasury Dept. under Reagan, he became Deputy Chief of Staff late in George I's term, moving on during Clinton time to be, among other things, Senior International Advisor for Goldman Sachs -- the notorious international investment firm some suggest is responsible for widespread Third World economic misery.

Iron Triangle (close friends who are the closest advisors to George II):

Senior Advisor and Assistant to President, Karl Rove

A close friend of George II since the '60s. Worked on his campaigns for Congress in '78, Governor in '94, and '98. According to a George II biography, his campaign dirty tricks include sending out false invitations to political events, falsifying documents on opponents' stationery, and using false names.

White House Counselor, Karen Hughes

Dubya's communications director & spokeswoman during campaign, co-wrote (auto)biography with him, previously Dallas TV reporter, worked on '84 Reagan campaign in Texas, George II's campaign for Governor in '94.

Chief of Staff, Andrew Card

Headed General Motors lobbying efforts. Formerly director of Office of Intergovernmental Affairs under Reagan. He worked on various campaigns and then as deputy chief of staff and Secretary of Transportation for George I. He then took $600,000 lobbyist job as president of American Automobile Manufactures Association. Ran 2000 Republican national convention and Republican role in running presidential debates.

Thanks to Maria Tomchick for her invaluable research assistance.

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