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Waelti: From the bad to the ludicrous, to the invisible
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Whether it's stock prices, a sports team, or a president, there are distinct advantages to low expectations. It's easier to exceed them.

President Donald Trump proved that he could read from a teleprompter for an hour while veiling his partisanship and insults in a "softer tone." That was enough for the babbling celebrities of the broadcast media, and even some print media scribblers, usually more alert than the broadcast nitwits, to hail Trump as "presidential."

Trump spent his first several weeks as president repeating the fiction that he won with the biggest margin ever, and were it not for "millions of illegal voters," he would have won the popular vote. While squabbling with the media over crowd size at his inauguration, he labeled them as "enemy of the people." Surely, the media deserve criticism. But it's because they are still asleep at the switch, allowing Trump to continue playing them like a fiddle.

With Trump's recent sniping at Arnold Schwarzenegger and Obama's fictitious phone tapping, we're supposed to take seriously his "time for small thinking is over." Meanwhile the media nitwits agonize over how the Democrats can capitalize on the discontent and anger with Trump and his Republican henchmen.

Let's start with the kind of people we want governing the country, especially Supreme Court and Cabinet appointees. Trump's nominees and appointees are a combination of the good, the bad, and the ugly, including the ludicrous and the invisible.

In previous columns, we covered the good, namely Gen. Mattis of Defense, Gen. McMaster of National Security, and Mr. Shulkin of Veterans Affairs. Gen. Kelley of Homeland Security and Nikki Haley, U.N. Ambassador, are potentially good, if yet untried.

Two of the ugly include the already-sacked Gen. Michael Flynn, and Labor nominee Andrew Pudzer, who withdrew before his Senate hearing. Two more of the worst include Betsy DeVoss of Education and Scott Pruitt of the EPA.

Another of the very worst is Tom Price, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. As a Georgia Congressman, Price profited from stocks directly affected by legislation he pushed.

Price has long opposed the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA). Price, along with Paul Ryan and Republican colleagues, insists that he wants something better, like "low-cost, patient-centered" plans. They had over six years to come up with something. What the sleep-walking media fail to note is that were it not for Obama and the Democrats addressing health care problems, Ryan and the Republicans would not even be talking about healthcare for our most vulnerable citizens.

Senior citizens who don't need the ACA might well be concerned that Price is no friend of Medicare and Social Security either.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with a sorry record on civil rights, has a history of using his power as Alabama attorney general to attack political enemies on flimsy grounds. Sessions has already affirmed that voting rights need no longer be monitored.

Two of the worst appointees, not requiring Senate confirmation, are in the White House, having the president's ear. Steve Bannon, White House chief strategist, has a history with a White Supremacist organization. He was once a Navy officer, and maybe even looked like one. Today he resembles a bum staggering home from an all-night drunk. Okay, so he no longer has that squared away look in which the naval services take pride. It's his policy recommendations that are dangerous.

Steven Miller, chief policy advisor to the president, is a 31-year-old kid who was once press secretary for Michelle Bachman, and staff assistant to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions. He is already infamous for his botched appearance on Sunday morning TV, commanding that "The president will not be questioned." The nation has declined to snap to attention and obey that ill-advised command.

As Secretary of the Treasury, we have Steven Mnuchin. A former member of Goldman Sachs, he took over a financial group including One West Bank, and engaged in predatory practices during the Bush Recession. His bank once had the locks changed on the house of a Minneapolis woman during a blizzard.

Ex-congressman Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, is a longtime foe of Medicare and Social Security. His appointment is inconsistent with Trump's solemn vow to leave Medicare and Social Security intact. We'll see.

Dr. Ben Carson was confirmed to administer the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has previously opposed federal housing programs. Maybe he changed his mind now that he has a good government job. He should return to administering his operating room staff.

Reince Priebus as chair of the Republican National Committee was like the kid with the toy steering wheel, pretending he was driving the bus during the election. As the Republicans won, no thanks to him, he continues that role, masquerading as White House Chief of Staff. Instead of running the joint, it's clear that Miller, Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway with her alternative facts are in charge.

Speaking of which, Press Secretary Sean Spicer has the unenviable task of regurgitating those alternative facts. The hapless sap has to please his boss while facing a White House press corps showing signs of awakening from a deep slumber.

Moving to the ludicrous, we have Rick Perry, who Trump once accused of wearing spectacles in a vain attempt to look intelligent. It worked. Trump deems him intelligent enough to administer the department he forgot that he once wanted to eliminate. Perry was shocked to learn that the Department of Energy's responsibilities include presiding over the nation's nuclear stockpile - not shill for oil and gas.

And the invisible - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The senior Cabinet official has yet to weigh in on foreign policy. Where has he been? His department is slated for drastic budget cuts. Is he aware? Does he even care?

The bad, the ugly, the ludicrous, the invisible - with the above-mentioned exceptions, the most incompetent, unqualified gaggle of misfits in recent American history.

- John Waelti of Monroe, a retired professor of economics, can be reached at His column appears Fridays in The Monroe Times.