TRUMP’S APPOINTMENTS — WHAT DO THEY MEAN?
Commentary by Charles Sulka
Paul Craig Roberts is right. PCR has an amazing ability to speak truth. His is a voice of reason in a world that has lost its bearings. We should listen carefully to what he has to say.
And we should ask the good Lord for guidance, because …
Even before being sworn in as president, Trump has laid the groundwork for America’s economic melt-down. It looks like this is only the beginning of what is likely to be a calamitous period — America’s economic collapse, brought about by the asinine economic policies which Trump and his wealthy cronies embrace. In a demonstration of ‘the art of the deal’ — rather than anything like real leadership — Trump has allowed a major American manufacturer to extort $20,000,000.00 in tax breaks from state and federal governments in exchange for a promise not to move their production out of the country. The president-elect has just stepped on his own … (shot himself in the foot, in other words.)
The president-elect has set the stage for disaster. He has set a terrible precedent here. In short, he has demonstrated that the government’s policy will be to negotiate with terrorists — Trump thinks negotiations are the meaning and purpose to life — before capitulating to their demands. Economic terrorists such as United Technologies’ managers will hold the nation’s economy hostage, demanding ransom in the form of government largesse — subsidies, tax breaks, etc. This is as short-sighted as the government’s recent policy of surrendering to the Wall Street shysters who terrorized the nation with dire threats of economic collapse unless the government handed them trillions of dollars in payoffs. America’s business leaders will now see the way clear to bleed the nation dry through taxpayer swindles in a never-ending cascade of forced ‘deals’ with state and federal governments. Coupled with tax breaks for the rich promised by Trump and his Republican cohort, this will totally wipe out the American economy, sapping the nation’s dwindling revenues in a feeding frenzy of capitalist greed. You can bet the champaign corks are popping in Indiana tonight!
Remember the fundamental causes of America’s problems in the twenty-first century: the Republicans have undermined the nation’s economy while the Democrats have undermined the nation’s morals. (Both the economic collapse and moral decay are well advanced and glaringly evident.)
I really do feel sorry for Paul Craig Roberts, for this writer truly does have the nation’s best interests at heart (unlike so many others in Washington.). We all make mistakes. PCR has paid a dear price for a mistake he made a half century ago when he was little more than a boy in the new Reagan administration. It must be particularly painful for the man to watch the monster he helped to create — Voodoo economics, or Reaganomics — destroy what once was the greatest nation on earth.
Will the nation’s economic collapse prove, once and forever, the lunacy of neoliberal economics (Reaganomics) with its tax cuts for the rich, corporate larceny, and an ever-widening income gap? It appears that Trump and his cronies are determined to put in place an economic program that will mark the end of capitalism as we know it. Now is the time to get to work on an alternative system.
Probably more than any other person who could have attained the highest office in the land, Mr. Trump is the man to shake things up. From all appearances, internecine warfare is already tearing the “deep state” apart. This can only be good for America, as the ‘shadow government’ of elites and insiders poses a very real threat to the nation. Trump and the CIA are already at war. He refuses to even read the President’s Daily Brief because he regards the CIA’s ‘intelligence’ as worthless. Plus, his team of oligarchs is going to do whatever they want to do anyway, and to hell with what the intelligence services think is best for America. Let us hope he comes out the winner. As everyone knows, the CIA is in league with the corporatists and their vision of a New World Order managed by technocrats, controlled by the Zionists, all for the benefit of the bankers and international financiers. Trump needs our support in this battle — the battle for the soul of America. The stakes are high indeed.
I confess that I am worried. The situation looks bleak. The team Trump has assembled looks like something out of a horror film, a demented dictator surrounding himself with sycophants and fools — dangerous fools. As William Rivers Pitt wrote on December 12, 2016 in Truthout (“Dangerous Americans: The Trump Nominees in Full”) “This rogue’s gallery is, far and away, the worst, most unsuitable, most unprepared, most dangerous rack of nominees ever assembled. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rice collapsed the economy and got millions of people killed ….” His appointee for the Environmental Protection Agency is a climate change denier (as is Trump himself) who scoffs at reputable science and who, like so many others, exhibits what can only be thought of as a diabolical hatred for God’s creation. His economic ‘reformers’ are all Wall Street insiders. His Secretary of Labor is a fast-food exec who looks forward to the day when robots replace all laborers — robots don’t take vacations, get sick, or ask for maternity leave. This burger king is an outspoken opponent of a living wage for American workers. It’s hard to imagine a president selecting a less qualified group of individuals to lead the nation.
To many it seems that things could not be any worse. It’s actually worse than that. Some of these miscreants are the insiders who were behind the 9-11 World Trade Center false-flag operation and the attack on the Pentagon. Trumps’ foreign policy initiatives clearly play into the hands of America’s enemies. Who are America’s enemies? At least Trump knows it is not the Russians (and to the man’s credit, he figured that out all by himself.) But his other foreign policy initiatives look to be disastrous: these include undermining the Iranian nuclear accord, recognizing Israel’s illegal settlements and never-ending encroachment on the Palestinian homelands, etc.
It just doesn’t make any sense: is Trump proposing to defeat the corporatists by recruiting their leaders and assigning them to cabinet posts? Or is Trump thinking he can scam the scammers, usurping the corporatists’ New World Order and expand his private Empire on a truly global scale, fulfilling his delusions of grandeur as the world’s greatest deal-maker? It is not unimaginable.
Who are America’s real enemies? To quote Walt Kelly’s Pogo (a comic strip character), “we have met the enemy, and he is us.” It’s true — America does not need external enemies because we are entirely capable of destroying this nation ourselves. And we seem to be hell-bent on doing just that.
Now, I don’t want to end on a down note. So I will try to put a positive spin on the situation. This house of cards must fall before we can rebuild on a solid foundation. We can’t keep applying band-aids to what is fundamentally a hopeless economic situation. At least with Mr. Trump and the Republicans leading the way, we know exactly what lies ahead, and we can prepare. There might just be a silver lining in this cloud: after the collapse, the public’s outrage at the mismanagement of the economy will fuel the fires of revolution, leading to real reform.
(chs 12-25-2016 13:47 -0500)
Trump’s Appointments – What do they mean?
By Paul Craig Roberts
ICH “Information Clearing House”
December 03, 2016
Before I give an explanation, let’s be sure we all know what an explanation is. An explanation is not a justification. The collapse of education in the US is so severe that many Americans, especially younger ones, cannot tell the difference between an explanation and a defense, justification, or apology for what they regard as a guilty person or party. If an explanation is not damning or sufficiently damning of what they want damned, the explanation is interpreted as an excuse for the object of their scorn. In America, reason and objective analysis have taken a backseat to emotion.
We do not know what the appointments mean except, as Trump discovered once he confronted the task of forming a government, that there is no one but insiders to appoint. For the most part that is correct. Outsiders are a poor match for insiders who tend to eat them alive. Ronald Reagan’s California crew were a poor match for George H.W. Bush’s insiders. The Reagan part of the government had a hell of a time delivering results that Reagan wanted.
Another limit on a president’s ability to form a government is Senate confirmation of presidential appointees. Whereas Congress is in Republican hands, Congress remains in the hands of special interests who will protect their agendas from hostile potential appointees. Therefore, although Trump does not face partisan opposition from Congress, he faces the power of special interests that fund congressional political campaigns.
When the White House announced my appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Republican Senator Bob Dole put a hold on my appointment. Why? Dole had presidential ambitions, and he saw the rising star of Republican Representative Jack Kemp as a potential obstacle. As I had written the Kemp-Roth bill that had become Reagan’s economic policy, Dole regarded me in the Treasury as a one-up for Kemp. So, you see, all sorts of motives can plague a president’s ability to form a government.
With Trump under heavy attack prior to his inauguration, he cannot afford drawn out confirmation fights and defeats.
Does Trump’s choice of Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary mean that Goldman Sachs will again be in charge of US economic policy? Possibly, but we do not know. We will have to wait and see. Mnuchin left Goldman Sachs 14 years ago. He has been making movies in Hollywood and started his own investment firm. Many people have worked for Goldman Sachs and the New York Banks who have become devastating critics of the banks. Read Nomi Prins’ books and visit Pam Martens website, Wall Street on Parade ( http://wallstreetonparade.com ). My sometimes coauthor Dave Kranzler is a former Wall Streeter.
Commentators are jumping to conclusions based on appointees past associations. Mnuchin was an early Trump supporter and chairman of Trump’s finance campaign. He has Wall Street and investment experience. He should be an easy confirmation. For a president-elect under attack this is important.
Will Mnuchin suppport Trump’s goal of bringing middle class jobs back to America? Is Trump himself sincere? We do not know.
What we do know is that Trump attacked the fake “free trade” agreements that have stripped America of middle class jobs just as did Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot. We know that the Clintons made their fortune as agents of the One Percent, the only ones who have profited from the offshoring of American jobs. Trump’s fortune is not based on jobs offshoring.
Not every billionaire is an oligarch. Trump’s relation to the financial sector is one as a debtor. No doubt Trump and the banks have had unsatisfactory relationships. And Trump says he is a person who enjoys revenge.
What about the hot-headed generals announced as National Security Advisor and Secretary of Defense? Both seem to be death on Iran, which is stupid and unfortunate. However, keep in mind that Gen. Flynn is the one who blew the whistle on the Obama regime for rejecting the advice of the DIA and sending ISIS to overthrow Assad. Flynn said that ISIS was a “willful decision” of the Obama administration, not some unexpected event.
And keep in mind that Gen. Mattis is the one who told Trump that torture does not work, which caused Trump to back off his endorsement of torture.
So both of these generals, as bad as they may be, are an improvement on what came before. Both have shown independence from the neoconservative line that supports ISIS and torture.
Keep in mind also that there are two kinds of insiders. Some represent the agendas of special interests; others go with the flow because they enjoy participating in the affairs of the nation. Those who don’t go with the flow are eliminated from participating.
Goldman Sachs is a good place to get rich. That Mnuchin left 14 years ago could mean that he was not a good match for Goldman Sachs, that they did not like him or he did not like them. That Flynn and Mattis have taken independent positions on ISIS and torture suggests that they are mavericks. All three of these appointees seem to be strong and confident individuals who know the terrain, which is the kind of people a president needs if he is to accomplish anything.
The problem with beating up on an administration before it exists and has a record is that the result can be that the administration becomes deaf to all criticism. It is much better to give the new president a chance and to hold his feet to the fire on the main issues.
Trump alone among all the presidential candidates said that he saw no point in fomenting conflict with Russia. Trump alone questioned NATO’s continued existence 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Trump alone said that he would work to bring middle class jobs back to America.
And Trump said that he would enforce immigration laws. Is this racism or is this a defense of citizenship? How is the US a country if there is no difference between illegal aliens and citizens?
Commentators of all stripes are making a mistake to damn in advance the only government that campaigned on peace with Russia, restoring middle class jobs, and respect for the country’s borders. We should seize on these promises and hold the Trump administration to them. We should also work to make Trump aware of the serious adverse consequences of environmental degradation.
Who is blowing these opportunities? Trump? Mnuchin? Flynn? Mattis?
The more Trump is criticized, the easier it is for the neoconservatives to offer their support and enter the administration. To date he has not appointed one, but you can bet your life that Israel is lobbying hard for the neocons. The neocons still reign in the media, the think tanks, university departments of foreign affairs, and the foreign policy community. They are an ever present danger.
Trump’s personality means that he is likely to see more reward in being the president who reverses American decline than in using the presidency to augment his personal fortune. Therefore, there is some hope for change occuring from the top rather than originating in the streets of bloody revolution. By the time Americans reach the revolutionary stage of awareness the police state is likely to be too strong for them.
So let’s give the Trump administration a chance. We can turn on him after he sells us out.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House editorial policy.