The “Best People”

Remember when Trump promised an administration populated by the “best people”?

I thought I’d devote a post to former Secretary of Labor Acosta before his particular scandal is eclipsed by others–most recently, Trump’s effort to appoint a nutcase supporter with absolutely no credentials to the Intelligence post being vacated by Dan Coats.

Gail Collins, as usual, summed up the Acosta situation with pith and vinegar:

On Wednesday, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta tried to hold back the outrage that’s been building since people learned that, as a federal prosecutor in South Florida, he had brokered a very lenient punishment for Jeffrey Epstein, a rich guy who liked to have sex with underage girls.

Explanation: It was a good deal. You know how this administration feels about good deals.

“The Palm Beach state attorney’s office was ready to let Epstein walk free,” Acosta said in his calm, sort of toneless voice. “Our prosecutors … presented the ultimatum.” Which was that Epstein, who had molested a parade of teenagers, some only 14, had to serve at least a little jail time. The punishment Acosta wrangled with his alleged best possible efforts involved 13 months in prison, during which Epstein was free to spend most days at his office as long as he slept overnight in the clink.

Before the uproar caused Acosta to resign, Trump (of course!) defended him–in terms that, as Collins notes, displayed his total ignorance of what it is the Department of Labor does:

Ever since the Epstein scandal arose, Trump has been defending Acosta, stressing what an “excellent” job he’s doing. After all, the president told reporters, “our economy is so good, our unemployment numbers are at record lows.” You might have thought he was under the impression the secretary of labor had something to do with boosting the economy. As opposed to things like workplace safety and collecting job statistics.

And oh, yeah, human trafficking. Very embarrassing that Acosta is one of the people who’s supposed to protect underage women from being sold as sex slaves.

Hmm. Before this week, what do you think Donald Trump thought the Department of Labor did?

My husband and I recently spent a week with a cousin who lives near Palm Beach, the nexus of this scandal. She recommended a book by James Patterson and two co-authors, written in the wake of the sweetheart deal negotiated by Acosta. (The book was written long before Epstein’s recent arrest.) I downloaded and read it, and it was eye opening–if you can be nauseated and have your eyes opened at the same time.

Titled Filthy Rich: The Billionaire’s Sex Scandal–The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein, the book offered a view into a lifestyle enjoyed not just by Epstein, but by the obscenely rich milieu in which he traveled–a lifestyle incomprehensible to most Americans. Patterson is known for his fiction, but this book was solid reporting, with sources clearly identified.

Leaving aside the predatory sex (and the inevitable curiosity about which of Epstein’s “pals” participated, or at least were aware of his proclivities), what the book most vividly described is the gigantic gap between the criminal justice system encountered by the rich and that system as applied to the rest of us. The local police detectives who did their jobs and documented Epstein’s abuse–and the incredible extent of that abuse–were no match for Epstein’s high-powered lawyer friends, including Alan Dershowitz.

Donald Trump was a member of Epstein’s milieu for a number of years. Whether or not he participated in the sex (a reasonable question given his history), he clearly and fully accepted the billionaire club’s cultural assumptions, including the belief that the rules that apply to the “little people” don’t apply to them.

One “takeaway” from the book: In Trumpworld, the “best people” are pretty despicable specimens.


  1. Trump Lies, so his idea of the best people is based on their loyalty to him and supporting and upholding his lies. “To The Biggest Crowd EVER “!

  2. Trump and the men he has always surrounded himself with and those in his administration all seem to have the mind set of “johns”; the men who pay prostitutes, and prey on young girls and boys for sex. The prostitutes are often arrested and jailed; the young girls and boys lose their childhood years and the “johns” move on to their daily lives. Epstein, with his billions, has paid his way out by hiring or paying off the “Acostas” for years, of which there are too many currently in power in this country. The scariest part of all of this latest example of one of Trump’s cronies; is that the evangelicals continue to support the whole crowd…and offer their blessings.

    “Leaving aside the predatory sex (and the inevitable curiosity about which of Epstein’s “pals” participated, or at least were aware of his proclivities), what the book most vividly described is the gigantic gap between the criminal justice system encountered by the rich and that system as applied to the rest of us. The local police detectives who did their jobs and documented Epstein’s abuse–and the incredible extent of that abuse–were no match for Epstein’s high-powered lawyer friends, including Alan Dershowitz.”

    Of course, throughout our justice system, those “high powered lawyers” don’t even have to be friends, you just need enough money to pay their fees…and those with enough money are usually considered to be “the best people”. Remember Jason Whatshisname of Subway sandwich fame; the shining example of healthy living who was found to be a pedophile.

  3. Trump doesn’t pledge allegiance to our country. He knows he’s going to migrate sooner or later. That’s why he’s romancing Putin for a place to call home.
    Few are aware that plans are laid for Trump’s escape from the lawsuits that will be filed against him in 2021. Who can believe otherwise? Doesn’t he always stiff his creditors?

  4. The intoxicating mix of narcissism and effectively unlimited wealth assures the perpetrators that they are the object of every desire. They can’t force themselves on anybody, because everybody wants them. They are entitled to their every wish, because everybody agrees they deserve it. The mindset is alien to the rest of us, but to them, every whim is an entitlement, every wish a guarantee.

  5. Well said, David.

    I believe Bill Clinton’s name was mentioned as a client. Surprised it wasn’t mentioned above. 😉

    There are two justice systems in this country. Only one applies to us common folk where a bag of weed can destroy your life. Not so for the rich.

    We suffer under a class system and oppression. It’s way past time we call it what it is so we can make moves toward fixing it. Corporate feudalism with all the characters including Plutarchs and Monarchs. It’s a top-down system — not a right to left political spectrum.

  6. i am reminded of Leona Helmsley’s comment: “Only the little people pay taxes.”

  7. Pascal, even Leona did more time than Jeffrey. Come to think of it so did Martha. I guess only rich women go to jail, right?

  8. One only has to look at the record turnover in the Executive Branch to see what a failing administration looks like. If a business had to endure this sort of revolving door, they wouldn’t be in business long. Add to that the fact that so many cabinet departmental jobs go unfulfilled even after almost 3 years, is another testament to piss-poor management.

    Rick Wilson: “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”

  9. It isn’t so much that the people Trump has brought into the government are incompetent: it’s that so many are immoral, unethical and flaunt it for all to see. Trump has shown his followers that they too can parade their immorality and lack of ethics. He himself taunts the public with his racism showing the world that he can get away with it knowing that no one will do a thing about it. He knows this because so many other leaders ( think the entire GOP delegation to Congress) are racist too, corrupt too, and willing to do anything to hold onto the power they have amassed.

  10. Theresa; I agree totally. I also believe there are so many “acting” department heads because Trump and his advisers know NOT to appoint a nominee which would require a hearing. Questionable how many of them would/could pass a hearing.

  11. There requirements for an Authoritarian Dictator especially a narcissist like President Agent Orange.

    First here are some characteristics of a narcissist:
    1.) an inflated sense of importance
    2.) a deep need for excessive attention and admiration
    3.) lack of empathy for others
    4.) often having troubled relationships
    5.) grandiose sense of self-importance

    The dictator will not select not the “Best People” in terms of competence. They are selected for their loyalty. The dictator will not select people who have any potential to outshine the dictator.

    Given the characteristics of a narcissist and loyalty being the number one criteria for selection for a dictator, Pastor Pence was an ideal choice.

    The 1% and the old European Royalty have their own rules. Essentially Rule # 1 is you can exploit anyone with less power. Justice is supposed to be blind. We Proles take that to mean, we are all treated equally under the law. For the 1% – Justice is blind to their crimes.

    The 1% have an interlocking defense of elected and appointed officials, plus influential – connected defense lawyers to nullify the Justice System.

  12. People who have tasted power are like tigers who have tasted people. Once they’ve tried it the second helping doesn’t make them any worse than before and offers the benefit of a meal.

    Trump’s father gave him power right from the git go. It’s all he’s ever known. People who either have only known it like he (though perhaps for other reasons than wealth like the color of their skin or the arrangement of their genitalia) have tasted the forbidden fruit and become addicted to it sort of like Adam and Eve. So those who have tasted power vote for those who promise them more power instead of those who promise freedom for all.

    Power for some vs freedom for all. It’s an easy choice for everyone. The question is how many of us will choose freedom?

  13. ML,

    Read David Callum’s haunting book, “Columbine”. In it you will find this checklist applied to the shooter Harris, the brains behind that massacre. The psychological summary for these traits is PSYCHOPATH. Some of those traits apply to Trump supporters too, especially those who are blind to his disease and con game.

  14. In Trumpworld, the “best people” are pretty despicable specimens.

    This is why the DC “swamp” that trump referred to during his campaign has morphed into an even more despicable and dangerous swamp during his administration.

    Those of us who are intelligent and sane become more amazed on a daily basis by middle class and lower class American citizens who continue to support him and his cabal of thieves while they are being robbed blind and kicked into the trump administration’s sewage.

  15. grew up in newark,n.j. 50/60s i lived in L.A. in the seventies, i worked in hollywood as a tow truck driver and repo guy. I had contact with all types of elbows. sex,its was flaunted,and open,if you had money,you had the means. but, back then,women, girls whatever,were quite open about their sex life. and so was everything else. until the age of prude returned,around king george the second,GWB. then all of a sudden, its trafficking!and orgs up in arms about some teen on her own accord, doing it.whether for money or fun. (i am not talking rape here,im talking how the word trafficking is being misused)
    sure theres trafficking, and its wrong,but today we have,the internet and people who work the crowd,who are not pimped,or exploited,they are working class like anyother. except,god forbid some senators college age or even high school,age, is working the crowd. (web cam,etc,..). i feel after a life long run on the road and living in the city, ive come to see and feel what is real,and fake. epstien may be a scum bag,and his cash on hand made him attracted to many a girl, who may or may not,have been pimped,bumped or exploited by another, wrong,right? seems many out there use trafficking as the only word today.. many are outright self employed in the online sex trade,and the straights ,evangelicals,etc. are just uppity prudes looking to hang another chain around someones neck, for merely wanting a living wage,or to make ends meet..over in euro world, its a job.and like here,it is to. yes, we have issues, but when the whole industry is treated like a some subterranean insect,by one word, trafficking,thats unfair….epstien got caught,and his money got him out,i find that a bigger issue than laying some stigma on someone who merely works for a living. like i asked those who bitch about welfare people, i ask them,,and how many living wage jobs did you create today? its no secret money buys you anything,its a fact that its has bought our freedoms to be exploited by the rich..while kicking the working class again,by words. question flotus,ask her, and see what you get.

  16. All:

    A Netflix series called “The Family” begins this evening that exposes the secretive DC Fundamental Evangelical organization that has been at work since 1953 to destroy the Constitution’s separation of Church and State. The org claims to be working to spread faith, but the members’ real motives are to gain personal power and influence worldwide.

    I can only imagine that pence must be a long time member in this org.

    This series is based on two books written by Jeff Sharlet.

    You can find more info about the five episode series on

  17. Nancy, that group is similar to the NRA except the NRA is motivated by money and the organization you refer to by power. The two things have become interchangeable here and now.

  18. Behind the headlines and tweets The Duck (with a hat tip to MM) already has put in place more Federal judges than almost any president in history. In the 2 1/2 years that Trump has been in office, his administration has appointed nearly 1 in 4 of the nation’s federal appeals court judges and 1 in 7 of its district court judges. Given the relative youth of some of his judicial picks, experts say, those judges could remain on the bench for 30 or even 40 years.

    Per an NPR report: “What stands out to me is that President Trump is deliberately nominating the least diverse class of judicial nominees that we have seen in modern history,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “It is stunning to me that 2 1/2 years in, he has not nominated a single African American or a single Latinx to the appellate courts.”

    In all, around 70% of Trump’s judicial appointees are white men. Dozens of those nominees have refused to answer whether they support the Supreme Court’s holding in Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 opinion that said racial segregation of public schools is unconstitutional.

    Another term – more of the these “best people”???

  19. Pete, I agree. Both are motivated by power which ultimately rewards them with money and money brings more power.

  20. Hey, Donald Trump said he was going to drain the swamp, and he did! He dug a ditch from the swamp right into his administration, LOL. He brought in the people that he felt comfortable with, no morals and no ethics. He didn’t want anyone the question his immorality so he brought in all of those of like mind. The genie is now officially out of the bottle, and once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s almost impossible to put it back in. Feel sorry for the young ones, because if it does change at all, it will take generations. In regards to tying this into yesterday’s article, you can see the gods that these people worship. The gods of money, and the gods of sexual gratification. Their whole life revolves around those two idols.

  21. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and several other books of thoughtful literature are often touted in lists of Most Influential Books since 1950.

    Wrong! Wishful thinking!

    The list of REAL most influential books (based on resulting behavior and actual functioning philosophy) should ONLY include the thousands of HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL and HOW TO GET RICH books…and maybe three novels written by Ayn Rand.

    Then, after seventy years reading those How-To books, it’s time we noticed that every characteristic those books teach us to develop is also a characteristic warned about (with atomic alarm) in a whole different genre of literature–the writings of psychologists and sociologists about the nature and characteristics of the sociopath.

    Why should we be surprised that our “successful” people seem resplendent with sociopathic traits? Especially, when those sociopathic traits have been hammered into our psyches for so long as the best and most virtuous traits to develop?

    If we burnt the most dangerous books in America, the pile of How-to books would tower over our tallest mountain and the flames would be mistaken in China for a nuclear firestorm.

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