We are getting towards the end of the Trump Pick ‘Em process for the 2017 first version of the new Cabinet. Trump has now chosen 23 of the 28 highest level Administrative positions (President, Vice-President, 15 formal Cabinet Secretaries, 7 Executive Cabinet Level jobs, and 4 of the highest level staff, not quite cabinet grade, in the White House).

Since our last listing here two weeks ago (November 30), Trump has ramped up and chosen 9 more nominees for everyone to coo over. Among the formal Cabinet positions only Agriculture and Veterans Affairs are unselected. Among the unofficial 7 Executive Cabinet group there are blanks for Director of Office of Management & Budget, U.S. Trade Representative, and the Head of the Council of Economic Advisors.

With the prize plum of the Cabinet (Secretary of State) just awarded to an oil executive who has worked his entire life (more than 40 years) for a single company, with no public diplomatic service, some of the early sparkle of anticipation for the Cabinet Beauty Parade has begun to fade.

By the way, does Tillerson’s summary job resume remind you of any other high ranking new Administration member, like the Big Dog himself? Besides his cozy relations with Putin, that might be his best calling card for Trump. Tillerson is a loyal one-man company bandleader, who has never strayed.

As for the Agriculture Department, Trump knows nothing about farming politics, policy, technology, price supports, or food export issues from his business activities, so why should he care? Maybe it is no surprise this big deal for the Heartland is at the tail end of Trump’s attention span.

As for Veterans Affairs Trump has considerable rhetorical skin in the game for this one. He is apparently being lobbied by some parties to keep Obama’s current businessman choice in place. This idea is something that might simultaneously repel and attract Trump. On the one hand, he can impose a clean sweep of his prior nemesis; on the other perhaps a calculation that if things don’t go much better at the VA in the next year or two, despite the guy’s rep, it won’t be Trump’s fault. Trump could lay it all off on Obama’s bad choice; another pleasing prospect. Anyway the VA is bringing up the rear of Trump’s Cabinet choices.

As for the three remaining Executive Cabinet level jobs: OMB, Trade Representative, and of Council f Economic Advisors, one might well harbor the suspicion that Trump already intends to fill those roles by himself, and doesn’t need anybody stepping on or diluting his own personal message with respect to U.S. Trade policies and how to run the top level federal government machinery.

As for a professional economic perspective, Trump trusts his own gut which talks loudly, doesn’t much care for economists of the professional persuasion (see Janet Yellin & the Federal Reserve), and is absolutely convinced he knows better than a room stacked full of ivory-tower Ph.D. eggheads who never made a real buck in business, like Trump has.

Whether Trump will take the next step and leave these positions open to lie fallow while he does the jobs himself is a minor interesting question to ponder for a few moments. Of all the Cabinet level jobs, these three are perhaps the ones that Trump considers most in his experiential wheelhouse, along with his steady guiding hand as Commander-in-Chief, of course, as he tells the generals what to do.

Repeat Reminder: Cabinet Setup Pre-Trump

In 2016, the President’s Cabinet consists of 15 Department heads (all named Secretary, except the Attorney General of the Justice Department). These are the highest ranking government executives in America, besides the constitutionally elected President and Vice-President. The Vice-President is considered part of the Cabinet. Each of the 15 Cabinet officers must be approved by the Senate, after nomination by the President. In addition, there are seven other government officers considered of Cabinet rank.

Vice President of the United States
Official Cabinet Departments
1 Department of State
2 Department of the Treasury
3 Department of Defense
4 Department of Justice
5 Department of the Interior
6 Department of Agriculture
7 Department of Commerce
8 Department of Labor
9 Department of Health and Human Services
10 Department of Housing and Urban Development
11 Department of Transportation
12 Department of Energy
13 Department of Education
14 Department of Veterans Affairs
15 Department of Homeland Security
Additional Cabinet Rank Appointments
1 White House Chief of Staff
2 Environmental Protection Agency
3 Office of Management & Budget
4 United States Trade Representative
5 United States Mission to the United Nations
6 Council of Economic Advisers
7 Small Business Administration

New Boys on the Block Since November 30th Update

Since our last observation sighting two weeks ago here are the latest selections.

These new potential cabinet selections are:

  • Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State
  • Gen. James Mattis for Secretary of Defense
  • Gen. John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy
  • Scott Pruitt for Administrator EPA
  • Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor
  • Dr. Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Rep. Ryan Zinke (MT) for Secretary of Interior
  • Linda McMahon for Administrator of Small Business Administration

Mini-apologies to Ms. McMahon, who was by all accounts a fierce competitor in her own right in an especially testosterone-soaked male business environment, like the WWE.

Selected Sources: Trump’s Latest Round of Appointment Choices












A Small Christmas Theme Diversion

After all, It is only two weeks until Christmas, and the traditional times for joy and cheer to all mankind. A huge number of Americans, at least 46% of voters at last count, may regard this holiday season as a bright beacon of hope and relief compared to the dark and dreary last eight years.

Let’s be precise here before the Christmas Amendment Demanding Verbal Respect passes both Houses of Congress and is signed by the President to start the year as an act of primary statesmanship and faith. Merry Christmas! Let me say it again,

Merry Christmas to all!

We must carefully watch for any slips of the tongue which may be grating and insulting to our Leader’s ears. No more to utter, “Have a Happy Holiday!”, you better believe it. As for the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists and assorted other non-believers, go get your own holiday life, why don’t you?

This is America. It says so right on the money, coins and paper. In God We Trust. And you know that comes straight out of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. And anybody that says any different is planting a deplorable fake left-wing news story, because Breitbart told me so, And I believe them; and so does our next President Donald J. Trump.

What to Make of the Latest Cabinet Selections (as of December 13)

In the true spirit of the season, Trump is barreling toward a new modern record of Whiteness. He is still eager to Go With What You Know.

Nine Cabinet selections since November 30th. Among them seven white guys, one woman and one black male to properly balance the flow. There are some naysayers who might quip that we don’t really need a brain surgeon to run a public housing department and enforce housing regulations, but maybe this is the spear tip of abolishing the Department’s core functions as Trump liberates us from the 80% or more of useless federal regulations we all wear around our collective necks in Trump’s enlightened view.

This last round there were no double duty two-fer selections in Trump’s bounty; no combo women-ethnic minorities for example. Each choice stands on its own, straight up. Trump did add two retired Generals, bringing his current Cabinet total to three. Of greater interest, two more (Rick Perry, Ryan Zinke) have substantial Military Service records as officers, but not General Staff officers. This trend is a welcome one, and Veterans may take some comfort in it. For the rank and file, a former General is one thing, but what really matters to troops on the line when bullets and bombs are flying are the lower ranked leaders, like the sergeants who share their foxholes, crappy food, lousy weather, and enemy fire up close and personal.

One piece of advice my father (who served 8 years in two branches during WWII and then Korea) always stressed to me, was that no one could ever really understand both the great strengths and weaknesses of the American armed forces who had not worn the uniform and seen American military might in all its collective awesome power and bureaucratic stumbling. All G.I.’s recognize the essential truth of the slogan, “Situation Normal, F.U.B.A.R.” Sometimes it has been more elegantly called “The Fog of War.” You pick. Real soldiers know all about it.

If you don’t know what the phrase means, ask someone who has served. They can give you an earful, from personal experience.

Trump has now chosen 8 Veterans among his 19 male appointments (including five who were officers, but not Generals), a total more than 40% with service as Veterans. Furthermore only one of them (Zinke) spend a substantial portion of his work life in the Military, besides the three retired Generals (Mattis, Kelly, and Flynn).

That is a substantially higher proportion of military service than exists in general American civil society today. Citizen soldiers who go back to civilian life after a period of service are a valuable asset for all of America. We need more of them. Not because we ask for more armed conflict with deaths and injuries, but for the unit cohesion, discipline, training, and exposure to other kinds of Americans in close living and working proximity that military service requires and fosters.

The likelihood that someone is a Veteran is highly dependent on his or her age. Members of Trump’s cabinet are largely men from 40-70 years old. The military service rate around the country is about 20% for U.S. men who were of age during the Viet Nam era; in Trump’s cabinet selections it is roughly twice that number. Women make up about 2% of U.S. veterans rather consistently by age, and none of Trump’s female choices have had military service.

While some reporters have made much of Trump’s apparent fascination with General Officers. I think the more significant and more hopeful fact is that he has selected five men who answered their country’s call to military service without making it their entire professional career.

It is however too bad that the very top echelon of Trump’s team, including all four of the President, Vice President, Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary were all too busy. Not one of them could find the time to serve their country when they were needed and had a personal chance to contribute. Pressure of business and private affairs, don’t you know?

Trump has an annoying habit of basking himself in the sacrifice and renown of others. Like the time he proudly displayed a Veteran’s Purple Heart from the rally stage, as if it were his own. Perhaps surrounding himself with the security blankie, as in the shelter of distinguished Generals like James Mattis, pumps up Trump’s interior low-shine, mental image beyond his earned neatness medal from New York Military Academy in high school. I suspect real Veterans would rather a man earn his own stripes, badges, and medals in the Armed Forces, and not try and borrow them from someone else in order to look tough.

One can only wonder how a time-traveling General Mattis might have regarded fresh Marine Recruit Trump, if he had had a chance to command him during the Viet Nam era, in or out of combat.

State of the Proto-Cabinet Summary

Including Trump and Pence, the 22 cabinet rank posts, and the four special significant add-ons (Senior Political Advisor, National Security Advisor, White House Counsel, and CIA Director) makes a total of 28 picks at issue. That said, Trump’s proto-cabinet is now more than 80% selected (23 of 28). Women comprise 17% (a small downtick from last time); ethnic minorities 13% (holding steady). No major changes from two weeks ago, overall still very top-heavy White Males at 78%.

To provide a taste of just how White Trump’s version of White is, consider the following pesky, stubborn facts. As of 2013 there were 97.2 million non-Hispanic White Males in the U.S. (there were 100.2 million non-Hispanic White Women). The total US population in 2013 was 316.5 million. Thus, in America non-Hispanic White Men make up just 30.5% of our population. Since Trump has drastically favored this special group in his cabinet choices selecting members for 78% of the jobs, he has promoted them at more than 2.5 times their relative proportion. Trump’s version of White Maleness is 2.5 times more White than American actually is.

Now that’s a new protected class, all right. Or better yet, a restoration of an old protected class with a vengeance. Way out there, man. MAGA. What a colossal waste of brain power, experience, and energy in the rest of urban and fly-over female, Hispanic, and minority Americans.

Whites of both sexes make up either 87% or 91% of his choices so far, depending on Nikki Haley’s preference. Still snow blindness territory observed as far as the eye can see.

With less than 20% of the Cabinet slots left open, nearing the finish, given Trump’s promises of fair inclusion for all of America’s citizens by gender and ethnicity, he is far short of his goal. Few women, few ethnics. One black, no Latinos.

Go with what you know, even if what you know ain’t much.

In one respect however, Trump is being quite true to himself. Trump’s America is not the America most of the rest of us live and work in every day. Trump’s America is a land of privilege, money, and luxury. Fancy cars, gaudy houses, expensive private schools, domestic staff, private jets, chauffeured cars, luxury hotels, and country clubs.

Minorities are staff or help (except for the occasional sports star or celebrity), women are not in the inner corridors of power, though always welcome as assistants and on social occasions. Daughters are excepted, sometimes wives as well.

This is the private, privileged White America Trump knows and loves. The one he seems intent on re-creating from the top down to lead America’s 21st Century way forward. Not exactly what DWA experiences or had in mind when they cast their ballots just a month ago.


In trying to conjure a fitting image to summarize Trump’s Cabinet journey in this Holiday (correction, Blessed Christmas) Season, The only one that seems to help is a child’s beloved “Frosty the Snowman”.*

Four verses from the song, written in 1950, and first recorded by none other than singing cowboy Gene Autry:

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul

With a corn cob pipe and a button nose

And two eyes made of coal


Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say

He was made out of snow

But the children know how he came to life one day


Frosty the snowman knew the sun was hot that day

So he said, Let’s run and have some fun before I melt away

Down to the village with a broomstick in his hand

Running here and there all around the square

Saying Catch me if you can


He led them down the streets of town

Right to the traffic cop

And he only paused a moment

When he heard him holler stop

A perfect message for our time and Trump’s Cabinet. 90% white, two black eyes of coal in honor of Ben Carson, A corn cob pipe for McArthur and the Military Spirit Trump wants to channel to his purported toughness. The traditional colorful neck scarf covering not so much real estate, for the women and ethnic color Trump’s Cabinet brings to us all.

Lastly, the straw broom held aloft in Frosty’s right hand to remind us of Trump’s promised clean sweep of the stables of Congress, the influence of greedy lobbyists, and the removal of business conflicts of interest for Trump and his family (by his grace (or fiat) if necessary). As Trump is at recurrent pains to remind us, the conflict of interest laws for all other Federal employees, Judges, Congressmen, Cabinet members, and Presidential appointees don’t personally apply to him (so his lawyers say). Who knows what strictures his gene-entitles children might or might not follow, if Trump has any say about it?

Final Note

For those discouraged by the tone, dirty tricks, and shenanigans of this year’s political cage match (not to mention the apparent, potential Red meddling), the final results pending for the December 19 meeting of the Electoral College can act like a dead-weight spiritual drag. One might even be tempted to shout Bah! Humbug! at no one in particular.

Yet, it is the Christmas season. Our musical offering to close must be “White Christmas”. Bing Crosby first sang the song in 1942, and made the movie musical, along with Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney in 1954,with the songs of Irving Berlin, and a new version of “White Christmas”.**

Crosby’s disc is still the single best selling record of all time at more than 50 million copies worldwide, almost double the total of the second place entry which stands at 33 million.

Of course it’s schmaltzy, but that is how it’s supposed to be.

So, in the best spirit of healing, Merry Christmas to All.

Even the poorly informed, who haven’t figured it out yet. There’s always next year. Baseball’s Red Sox fans used to say it (1918-2004). Chicago Cubs fans had said it for 100 years (1908-2015). Now they don’t need to.

Here are the full lyrics from “Frosty the Snowman” (!950):

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul

With a corn cob pipe and a button nose

And two eyes made of coal


Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say

He was made out of snow

But the children know how he came to life one day


There must have been some magic in

That old silk hat they found

For when they placed it on his head

He began to dance around


Frosty the snowman was alive as he could be

And the children say he could laugh and play

Just the same as you and me


Frosty the snowman knew the sun was hot that day

So he said, Let’s run and have some fun before I melt away

Down to the village with a broomstick in his hand

Running here and there all around the square

Saying Catch me if you can


He led them down the streets of town

Right to the traffic cop

And he only paused a moment

When he heard him holler stop


Frosty the snowman

Had to hurry on his way

But he waved goodbye sayin’, Please don’t cry

I’ll be back again some day

Listen to Gene Autry singing the original.

Facts you probably didn’t know: Frosty the Snowman was a follow-up record to Rudolph the Red Nodes Reindeer as a seasonal hit for Gene Autry from 1949. And say it isn’t so, Frosty. Although everybody knows deep in their hearts that this is a Christmas song par excellence, yet the stubborn fact is that Christmas is never mentioned in the song anywhere. Imagine that, all you Merry Christmas literalists before you pass the Christmas Amendment, Trump or a buddy will doubtless offer to annihilate once and for all the despicable War of Christmas we must endure year after year.

From the Wikipedia entry:

“Frosty the Snowman” (or “Frosty the Snow Man”) is a popular Christmas song written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950. It was written after the success of Autry’s recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” the previous year; Rollins and Nelson shipped the new song to Autry, who recorded “Frosty” in search of another seasonal hit. Like “Rudolph”, “Frosty” was subsequently adapted to other media including a popular television special Frosty the Snowman. The ancillary rights to the Frosty the Snowman character are owned by Warner Bros., but due to the prominence of the TV special, merchandising of the character is generally licensed in tandem with that special’s current owners, DreamWorks Classics.

Although it is generally regarded as a Christmas song, the original lyrics make no mention of the holiday (some renditions, like that in the Rankin-Bass TV special, change the lyric “I’ll be back again someday” to “I’ll be back on Christmas Day”). The song supposedly takes place in White Plains, New York, or Armonk, New York; Armonk has a parade dedicated to Frosty annually. The chorus is similar to the chorus of “Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee” (1932),

And while we’re at it, here is the first “Frosty the Snowman” short animated film from 1953.

Since it’s Christmas, let’s go for our own musical Gene Autry two-fer. Here is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer from 1949.

**”White Christmas”, the Movie and the song from Wikipedia.

White Christmas is a 1954 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. Filmed in VistaVision and Technicolor, it features the songs of Irving Berlin, including a new version of the title song, “White Christmas”, introduced by Crosby in the film Holiday Inn.

On Christmas Eve, 1944, somewhere in Europe, two World War II U.S. Army soldiers, one a Broadway entertainer, Captain Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby), the other an aspiring entertainer, Private Phil Davis (Danny Kaye), perform for the 151st Division. But, word has come down that their beloved commanding officer, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Dean Jagger), is being relieved of his command. He arrives for the end of the show and delivers an emotional farewell. The men give him a rousing send-off (“The Old Man”).

After the war, Bob and Phil make it big in nightclubs, radio, and then on Broadway, eventually becoming successful producers. They mount their newest hit musical titled Playing Around. The same day they receive a letter from “Freckle-Faced Haynes, the dog-faced boy,” their mess sergeant from the war, asking them to look at an act that his two sisters are doing.

When they go to the club to watch the act (“Sisters”), Phil notices that Bob is smitten with Betty (Rosemary Clooney). Phil has eyes for her sister, Judy (Vera-Ellen). Betty and Judy join Bob and Phil at their table, and Phil dances with Judy, so that Bob and Betty can get to know each other. Phil and Judy hit it off (“The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing”). Bob and Betty do not, getting into a minor argument about how Bob thinks that everyone has an angle in show business.

Judy and Betty head for the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, where they are booked to perform over the holidays. Due to a disagreement with their landlord, the girls have to leave immediately, so Phil gives the sisters his and Bob’s sleeping-room accommodations aboard the train to Vermont.

When the train arrives in Pine Tree, there’s not a snowflake in sight, and chances of it falling appear dim. Bob and Phil discover that the inn is run by their former commanding officer, General Waverly. Waverly has invested all of his savings into the lodge, which is in danger of failing because there’s no snow and thus no guests. To bring business to the inn, Bob and Phil bring the entire cast and crew of their musical Playing Around, and add in Betty and Judy. Bob and Betty’s relationship blooms (“Count Your Blessings”) and they spend a good deal of time together. Meanwhile, Bob discovers the General’s request to rejoin the army has been rejected. He decides to prove to the General that he isn’t forgotten.

Bob calls Ed Harrison (Johnny Grant), an old army buddy, now a successful variety show host, to arrange a televised invitation to all the men formerly under the command of the General to come to the inn on Christmas Eve as a surprise. In response, Harrison suggests they go all out and put the show on national television to generate free advertising for Wallace and Davis, but Bob insists that it will have nothing to do with their business. Unbeknownst to Bob, nosy housekeeper Emma Allen (Mary Wickes) was eavesdropping, but she only heard the part about free advertising, not Bob’s rejection of the idea.

Watch the extravagant title number from the movie on YouTube. Watch it all the way through. There is a German surprise hiding in the middle for those who stick it out.

Bing Crosby was the King of the Crooners. For a more jazzy doo-wop version of this utter classic, you can’t do better than the Drifters.

Listen and enjoy. Listen to that bass line and harmonies. Now these fellows can pick up a flagging spirit and restore some lift to your step.