Ignorance, often deliberate ignorance in the name of greed, is the calling card of the current administration, which has shunned and run off many State Department officials since the facts that they have amassed over years of dedicated service do not match the president’s prejudices. Our “very stable genius” will likely nominate an ambassador for “Nambia” before we get a high-level representative in South Korea (proceeding without us in negotiating with the North) or in any of the important Arab Bloc states where the president’s pal Putin is extending Russia’s influence daily. But, international affairs is not the only area where ignorance rules.
The ridiculous stipulations that the Center for Disease Control omit such heretical terms as “science-based” or “evidence-based” from its writings proves this administration’s fear of facts. Don’t bother these knaves with the truth. Biases, prejudices and anything that promotes the richest one percent of us takes precedence over reason or reasonableness.
A September Politico article, by Jenny Hopkinson shows how much the president cares about the rural Americans who gave him so much support: “President Donald Trump’s appointees to jobs at Agriculture Department headquarters include a long-haul truck driver, a country-club cabana attendant and the owner of a scented-candle company.
“A Politico review of dozens of resumes from political appointees to USDA shows the agency has been stocked with Trump campaign staff and volunteers who in many cases demonstrated little to no experience with federal policy, let alone deep roots in agriculture. But, of the 42 resumes Politico reviewed, 22 cited Trump campaign experience. And based on their resumes, some of those appointees appear to lack credentials, such as a college degree, required to qualify for higher government salaries.”
My favorite example of political patronage over meaningful qualifications is Christopher O’Hagan, “an appointee as a confidential assistant at the Agricultural Marketing Service, which helps producers of food, fiber and specialty crop growers market their goods….His resume lists only one actual job prior to joining the Trump campaign in January 2016 – employment as a cabana attendant at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, while in school.” O’Hagan was hired as a GS-12 level government employee, but has since suffered the fate of being transferred to a GS-11 role, with an annual salary of only $66,510. A college graduate, he does not have the master’s degree or equivalent work experience required for that position. He must have picked up some high-level agriculture and marketing skills while making sure the country clubbers had fresh towels.
And, of course, Oklahoma’s own Scott Pruitt, charged by Trump with crippling the Environmental Protection Agency, despoiling America and degrading the air we breathe and the water we drink proves himself a loyal soldier. He has appointed a one-time – but never-again – banker to “streamline” the nation’s Superfund program. Albert Kelly was fined $125,000 last May by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and later banned from banking for life, according to a consent order, obtained by Sharon Lerner of The Intercept under a Freedom of Information Act filing and appearing in the Tulsa World last month. In July, the FDIC cited Kelly’s “unfitness to serve as a director, officer, person participating in the conduct of affairs or as an institution-affiliated party of the Bank, any other insured depository institution.”
Two weeks later, Pruitt named Kelly to lead the effort to streamline the Superfund program. Not only unqualified, but ethically challenged. A perfect fit for this administration.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)