Archive for November, 2016

Trump’s Transition Team Takes Shape

In my copious free time, I’ve been looking over the names on the “Trump Transition Team,” (and there’s a phrase that, 48 hours ago, would have free-associated with, “medical marijuana”) gleaned from an org chart obtained by the AP.

Below the line, I’ve reproduced the chart with some quick links to bios, background stories, and a few comments of my own.  Some of the names are common, so I wasn’t able to find out something about everyone.

This will come as a surprise to some, a disappointment to others, and no doubt the City of Shushan will be perplexed, but from the spot-checks I’ve made, these are not the choices of a liberal New York Democrat, a maniac, or a pyromaniac.

Some are quite conservative, some are libertarian-leaning, and a few could probably by fairly characterized as part of the swamp Trump promised to drain.  In includes insiders, outsiders, experts, a major fundraiser, and even a few lobbyists.

Now, understand that this is the transition team, not the cabinet or agency appointments. Part of the job of the transition team is to ease the way for those appointments and make personnel and policy recommendations, but not always fill those positions themselves.

It’s worth remembering that a large number of the Never Trumpers came from the foreign policy ranks.  Some have extended Never Trump to mean that they wouldn’t work in a Trump administration.  That seems to me to be a recklessly irresponsible position to take.  Trump is certainly inexperienced in foreign policy.  If he is truly as wrong-headed and unsuited for the position as they think – and I’m among those who said he was unfit for the job – he’s still going to be President for four years.  By their own reasoning they’d be doing a great service to the country by serving in his administration, and helping to save us from the worst national security consequences of his governance.

Contrast that with Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute.  Out of 17 candidates, Trump had to be Brooks’s 18th choice.  But at least three of the names here have ties to AEI.  Brooks didn’t burn bridges, didn’t put his organization at risk over an electoral decision, and now is in a position to influence policy for the better.

Nevertheless, this gives them considerable leverage in setting the tone, approach, and priorities for the new administration. On the whole, I see not much to be scared of, a little to be wary of, and a lot to be hopeful about.

You know, there’s a glimmer of hope that this just might work out.

  • Ron NicolDirector of Agency Action
    • DefenseKeith Kellogg
      • Kellogg was one of the first military men sent into Iraq after the invasion, and he eventually went to work for CACI, a large defense contractor, as head of their R&D divison.  Make no mistake – his job wasn’t to head reasearch, it was to help get contracts.
      • DefenseMira Ricardel
      • Mira Ricardel is an interesting choice for Defense. She was at Boeing for about 10 years, and recently wrote a piece for The Hill about the need for a comprehensive missile defense strategy.
      • VA – Ret. General Michael Meese
      • National SecurityMike Rogers
        A lot of us were surprised and disappointed when Mike Rogers left the House for a career in media.  He’s the former head of the House Intelligence Committee, and a very welcome addition to Trump’s team.
      • StateJim Carafano
        Carafano is a national security guy, less than a diplomacy guy, and may be a bit of a round peg in a square hole here.  One of his major concerns has been the national security implications of our porous southern border.
      • DHS – Cindy Hayden
      • IntelRon Burgess
        Former DDNI and head of DIA, so some serious experience chops here.
      • NSCMatthew Freedman
        Reported association with Manafort is of some concern
      • Justice – Kevin O’Connor
    • EconomicsBill Walton, David Malpass
      Walton also has a free market-oriented, generally pro-freedom site here.

      • TreasuryDavid Malpass
        David Malpass (like Ebell, educated at Colorado College), has prior experience at Treasury under Reagan and GHW Bush, and is on the record opposing easy money as a substitute for pro-growth policies.
      • Commerce – Ray Washburne
        Dallas developer, Trump Finance Committee Chair, former RNC & Chris Christie finance chairman
      • USTRDan DiMicco
        Hostile to TPP, and has written extensively about the need to start actually making things again
      • Indep. AgenciesPaul Atkins
        Former SEC Commissioner, with appropriate hostility to Dodd-Frank. Also a scholar at AEI
      • SBAChristine Toretti
        Oil industry exec from Pennsylvania, someone who embodies everything feminists say they like, except for the whole motherhood-and-Republican thing.  Longstanding ties to the Pennsylvania party.
      • FCCJeff Eisenach
        Jeffrey Eisenach is at AEI, and his expertise seems like an excellent fit for FCC
      • SSA – Michael Korbey
    • DomesticKen Blackwell
      “Since his days mixing it up inside the home-state GOP, Blackwell has taken on an increasingly visible national role. He serves on the boards of the National Rifle Association and conservative Club for Growth.”  I remember when Blackwell ran for Governor of Ohio.  Liked him then, like him now.

      • DOE/NRCMike McKenna
        Also an energy lobbyist.
      • EPAMyron Ebell
        Ebell is at CEI, and famously hostile to Climate Change orthodoxy, and was the source for Trump’s comment that climate change was an scam developed to hobble us economically.  For the record, I think he’s probably right.
      • LaborSteve Hart
        Major, high-powered lobbyist; I don’t know much else about him
      • HHSAndrew Bremberg
        “McConnell!  McConnell!” I hear you cry, but he also worked on Scott Walker’s campaign for a while.  He had hoped to help Romney repeal Obamacare
      • DOTShirley Ybarra
        Ybarra has been involved in transportation issues for years, and has found a home writing for Reason
      • EducationWilliamson Evers / J. Manning
        Evers is with Hoover, a strong proponent of choice and innovation and opponent of Common Core
      • InteriorDavid Bernhardt
        Based out here in Colorado, a lobbyist and attorney representing clients on land-use issues.  Let’s see if he’s willing to recommend people who want to devolve some public land back to the states.
      • AgricultureMichael Torrey
        Lobbyist specializing in Agriculture
    • Mgmt/Budget – Ed Meese (yes, that Ed Meese) / Kay Coles James
      • OMBP. Winfree / L. Springer
        Winfree is with the Heritage Foundation, as a budgetary expert
      • OPM – Kay Coles James
        Associated with AEI and has worked with OMB before
    • Agency Tranform & Innovation – Beth Kaufman / Jonathan Beck

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