Who can keep up with the madness of our never-ending Trumpian media moment? Each day is a lesson in the bizarre, in ever-wilder comments, accusations, charges, and claims of every sort from or against The Donald and crew. Each day spotlights subjects you hardly knew were subjects until they burst onto cable news and individual screens nationwide. Did an American president really call the country’s justice system “a joke and a laughingstock” (in the context of the possible sending of terrorist Sayfullo Saipov to Guantanamo) during a televised cabinet meeting? And that very afternoon, did his White House press secretary flatly deny he had ever said such a thing? Is a “seething” Donald Trump truly angry at his son-in-law Jared Kushner for his advice on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation? Did Paul Manafort really use (launder?) $1.3 million, assumedly from Russian oligarchs, on clothes? Is special counsel Mueller about to be fired by the president? Had you ever even heard of the Diversity Visa Lottery program before Donald Trump pinned its existence on the Senate minority leader — “a Chuck Schumer beauty” — even though it was actually signed into law by President George H.W. Bush? Did the White House chief of staff, who adamantly refuses to apologize for an erroneous accusation against a Democratic congresswoman, actually call for “compromise” when it came to the years leading up to the Civil War?
I mean, in your wildest dreams could you make this stuff up? And worse yet, in the maelstrom of claims, tweets, wild statements, strange bits of information, and god knows what else, it would be so easy for what truly matters in our world to get lost in the shuffle. For instance, amid all Donald Trump’s bluster and tweets, it’s not hard to forget who he really is: our first elected billionaire president. (Nelson Rockefeller undoubtedly came closest, historically speaking, but he was only vice president and was in any case appointed, not elected.) Trump should be seen as the living, breathing result of an inequality gap that first began to widen almost four decades ago in the era of President Ronald Reagan and reached cataclysmic proportions in this century. It was, of course, the Supreme Court which, in 2010, released all the money that has flowed so steadily upwards into the political system big time with its Citizens United decision and so paved the way for the truly wealthy to organize and fund a genuine 1% politics in which a billionaire could finally become the people’s candidate.
It’s easy in the chaos of the moment — every moment these days — to forget that Donald Trump appointed the wealthiest cabinet in our history by a country mile and so prepared the way for the further promotion of a system in which the benefits of… well, you name it… will flow ever upwards ever more rapidly. Amid all the chaos and “fake news” of our moment, something profound is happening and, under the circumstances, it’s easy enough to ignore. However chaotically, we’re witnessing the creation of a new American system of injustice, a true government of the plutocrats. Fortunately, we still have TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power, to remind us of this reality, as today when she focuses on Secretary of the Wealthy… oops, I mean Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.