Lost in the supply closet

Trump loves him some private plane status symbol.

“The plane is very much an extension of the Trump brand,” Donald Trump toldThe New York Times of the Boeing 757 he took to calling “Trump Force One” during the 2016 presidential campaign. It was an outdated model, and, as the Times drily noted, “an odd choice for a man who put his net worth at $11 billion.” But the plane was huge, and lined with gold on the inside, communicating to his supporters both might and prestige.

Well besides, it’s a giant flying penis-shaped thing – what’s not to love?

He sets the tone.

[A]n astonishing number of his cabinet members are ensnared in scandals involving air travel, whether on private or civilian planes: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in the mix, too, though for slightly different reasons.

Too many of Trump’s cabinet members have taken to behaving like middle managers let loose in the supply closet for the first time, stuffing their pockets with notepads and pens, hoping the stern secretary doesn’t notice. Oh, but she has. Inspectors general for federal agencies seem to be especially busy these days. Ethics lawyers, too.

Trump’s gang of imitation moguls seems to have forgotten that it was supposed to be working for the “forgotten Americans.

Now that’s just silly. Of course they haven’t forgotten; it was never true in the first place. It was a campaign slogan and nothing else.

Price has used a private flying phallic symbol 24 times so far, including a drop in to that favorite hangout spot of forgotten Americans, the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Then there’s Mnuchin, a financier known as “the foreclosure king.” He’s worth an estimated $300 million. You’d think the guy could afford a Mint upgrade on JetBlue, if not a Learjet of his own. And he probably can, but why pay when you can get something for free? We recently learned that Mnuchin wanted to use a government airplane to shuttle him and his wife Louise Linton around Europe during their honeymoon. This would cost taxpayers $25,000 per hour. Some sane person denied the request, but months later, Mnuchin and Linton managed to finagle a government jet to view the solar eclipse in Lexington, Kentucky.

But they explained that: he had to check on Fort Knox.

Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, is a zealous foe of the environment, but at least he isn’t all that committed to his job. Observers see Pruitt making moves for a gubernatorial run in his native Oklahoma. It’s hard to otherwise justify his apparent longing for the Sooner State. As of August, he had spent more than 40 days in Oklahoma, which cost you and me $12,000.

People do not like Pruitt, at least judging by the number of threats he has received. That’s wrong, no matter how much people may hate his policies. But it’s also wrong to turn high-ranking EPA investigators who are supposed to be delving into environmental crimes into your own security detail. Pruitt has done just that, managing to weaken the agency he runs while abusing its resources.

“This never happened with prior administrators,” a former official of the agency’s Criminal Investigations Division told The Washington Postwhich first reported the news. “These guys signed on to work on complex environmental cases, not to be an executive protection detail.” The Post report suggested that the EPA would spend $800,000 for “the security detail’s travel expenses” this fiscal year.

Yes but on the upside think of all the complex environmental cases that won’t be investigated.

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