Hodge: Concerns over presidential political shift

If the past several months didn't foreshadow dark times then surely the past few days of negative news bites and cabinet appointments do

Charlie Hodge's column Hodge Podge runs weekly in the Capital News.

Charlie Hodge's column Hodge Podge runs weekly in the Capital News.

I’m not sure how this happened. If one suggested a year ago I’d care this amount regarding the mind boggling election antics of our noisy neighbours to the south I’d have laughed.

Now I’m captivated.

I suspect the answer is a combination of two factors: The realization that Barack Obama’s eight year reign as U.S. President is over – and the stomach sinking, gut rumbling worry of what the future holds with Donald Trump at the helm.

Be afraid.

If the past several months did not foreshadow dark times then surely the past few days of negative news bites and cabinet appointments do. Are we ready for the wave of absurdity and ignorance that is about to tsunami common sense around the world?

Trump is swelling up larger than life with defiance and venom as his January 20 inauguration nears. However, it seems the 45th president is having a tough time filling dance cards for his big party. Entertainers are balking at invitations to perform at the event. So far the list of ‘thanks but no thanks’ stars include: Elton John, Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Ice, Dixie Chicks, Charlotte Church, Rebecca Fergusson and numerous others.

On Wednesday Trump held his first news conference since the election tersely responding to suggestions that Yankee intelligence agencies intentionally leaked unverified reports to the media about his relationship with Russia.

“I saw the information and it is all fake news, it’s phoney stuff, it didn’t happen,” Incoming Vice-President Mike Pence and press secretary Sean Spicer joined Trump in mocking reports that Russia received, “compromising personal and financial information” about the incoming president. Naturally Russian President Vladimir Putin also denied the reports stoically suggesting Russia, “does not engage in collecting compromising material.”

And the drama continues.

Trump closed out his conference with a media session, however denied questions from various members suggesting they were not reputable. He also took the opportunity to name the latest addition to his planned government; announcing David Shulkin will lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I am not familiar with Shulkin, however some of Donald’s other appointments are just plain scary. Such as:

Rex Tillerson outgoing chairman of ExxonMobil. ‘Tilly’  has a history of close business ties to Putin, (hmmm?) who bestowed the Order of Friendship on Tillerson in 2013. Tilly signed an agreement six years ago giving his energy company access to the huge resources under the Russian Arctic in return for giving a giant state-owned Russian oil company a chance to invest in ExxonMobil’s operations. Tillerson holds significant financial interest in the energy company.

James Mattis -Defense. The retired marine general was US Central Commander until 2013. Hawkishness especially on Iran put him at odds with the Obama. Nicknamed “Mad Dog”.

Steve Mnuchin – Treasury. Campaign finance chairman this former Hollywood producer (Sully, American Sniper, The Legend of Tarzan) swooped in on doomed IndyMac bank as it sunk in 2008, acquired it, and scored big time when government bailed out the bank. His nickname is  ‘foreclosure king’.

Jeff Sessions – Attorney General. Former US attorney and state attorney general Sessions is an immigration hardliner. Sessions’ bid for a federal judgeship under Ronald Reagan in 1986, was derailed when colleagues testified he used the N-word, called a black assistant US attorney “boy” and joked he thought the Ku Klux Klan were, “OK until I found out they smoked pot.”

Tom Price – Health and Human Services. This orthopedic surgeon staunchly opposed to Obamacare and attempted to defund Planned Parenthood through a budget maneuver. Seen as opponent of women’s health programs. Described as having “a 100% pro-life record”

Scott Pruitt – Environmental Protection Agency. A climate change denier and long-time enemy of the EPA, whose rule he called, “unlawful and overreaching”. On the overwhelming scientific evidence that human activity is causing the planet to warm he said, “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”

Alrighty then. Are you nervous yet?

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