Swamping The Drain In Washington

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

Just whom Donald Trump will appoint to various key posts in his future administration has an unbearably enticing set of moving targets for the media (until, as at a recent rally in Cincinnati, dramatic announcements are made at unexpected moments, or released in other ways). And give The Donald credit: if he has a genius for anything, it's for dominating the news cycle in ways -- from his pre-crack-o'-dawn tweets to those rallies -- that simply haven't been seen here before. And be suitably amazed that, as during the election campaign, he continues to have an uncanny knack for flooding the screens of our world with that larger-than-life figure of his dreams, Donald Trump, nearly 24/7. He's the media-made man of our -- and his -- (endless) moment.

Until each appointment is announced, the speculation goes on endlessly about which billionaire or multimillionaire will be included in the latest round of The Chosen. In some ways, those officially or unofficially being considered, whether appointed or not, offer us a strange window into the future Washington world of Donald Trump. Take, for instance, two oily selections touted recently as possibilities for the man who has committed himself to elevating fossil fuel extraction to a high art. Trump has, after all, already promised to make a future Saudi America independent of oil imports from the actual Saudi Arabia or any other "foe" or member of the "oil cartel," come -- if you'll excuse a phrase that, in the context of climate change, is all too apt -- hell or high water.

In such situations, it undoubtedly makes a certain sense to think about going directly to the trough. If you want someone to oversee the Department of Energy, why not, for example, consider Harold Hamm, the Oklahoma oil tycoon and 60th richest person on the planet, whose fortune, according to Forbes, rose by $1.7 billion to $14.7 billion in the wake of Trump's election victory? (On the subject of such a possible appointment, Hamm himself has been diffident.) Or if it's the State Department you're thinking about and global energy policy is on your mind, why not put aside the thought of frog legs and Mitt Romney for a second and at least consider -- as Donald Trump reputedly is doing -- Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, a man who made a salary of $27.3 million last year alone? After all, it would ensure transparency if the global energy policy you were going to pursue was directed by the man who had steered one of the top fossil-fuel extractors on the planet through years of choppy waters, right?

If you're a normal human being and not a billionaire, this ongoing spectacle has to have a phantasmagoric feel to it. After all, we're now in a world in which -- I'm not kidding you -- Sarah Palin has denounced Trump's deal with Carrier to keep 1,000 jobs in Indiana as "crony capitalism"! And if you're feeling that way now, just wait until you take the initial tour of his onrushing world that author of All the Presidents' Bankers Nomi Prins offers today, billionaire by billionaire, in "Trump's Bait and Switch." My suggestion: buckle your seatbelt; it's going to be a bumpy ride.