Trump’s Appointments

Paul Craig Roberts

What do they mean?

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 ( ). 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?

Or us?

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.

Paul Craig Roberts

10 thoughts on “Trump’s Appointments

  1. “The more trump is criticized the easier it is for the neocons to offer their support and enter the administration”. Excuse me? What the hell sense does that even make? How would criticizing him for bringing in neocons and establishment figures make it easier for them to enter? Shouldn’t it be the exact opposite? Wouldn’t he want to distance himself from them if he’s sincere in “draining the swamp”?

    “To date he has not appointed one, but you can bet your life israel is lobbying hard for the neocons”. No shit! And I got news for you, trump himself is a hardcore neocon Zionist who’s alliegance is to Israel. When the hell are people gonna wake up? How and why the hell do people still believe we have an American government? It is beyond me how sincerely stupid and blind some can be. Even if he didn’t appoint one yet, just take a look at his picks to be appointed. And no one said we were gonna be able to turn this around by “voting” and working with insiders because thats all there is. Are you serious Paul Craig Roberts? You give him a chance, I won’t be so gullible. You’re basically saying there’s nothing but insiders so we have to go along with them. God damn fools. I can’t wait for this bastard to show them what he’s all about.

    1. For years PCR has been, for the most part, right on target with his commentary. If anything, he has erred slightly on the side of excessive pessimism. That’s why it’s unfortunate that he appears to have joined so many other individuals of otherwise sound intellect and judgment who have fallen into the trap of wishful thinking regarding Trump.

      I see little reason to wait until Trump actually takes the reins of the presidency to judge his values and intentions. We’ve heard his words loud and clear, and now we’re seeing his actions in the form of appointments. Why should we not believe that these are an excellent indicator of what his presidency has in store for everyone?

  2. “Commentators are jumping to conclusions based on appointees past associations”

  3. People will hate me for this opinion, but although I dislike the man, I have to agree with PCR to a small extent here. To see where he’s coming from, you have to see things from his point of view, which is that of one of the ruling elite.

    My personal opinion is that this nation won’t (or can’t) be saved peaceably, but PCR fears that truth, and would rather not consider it. His only mention of the possibility betrays his fear (“By the time Americans reach the revolutionary stage of awareness the police state is likely to be too strong for them”), and tries to discourage the thought with a statement that undermines the credibility of the entire article. The police state will NEVER be too strong for Americans, or the population of any country because of the sheer numbers. If ANYONE is ruling a population anywhere, they’re ALWAYS ridiculously outnumbered — that’s what ruling “the masses” is all about; a few people governing the many. PCR is a little too afraid to consider the possibility of violence, because he’ll be a victim of it rather than the cause of it.

    That being the case, he instead goes on to encourage the “work within the system” angle, because the death of the system will likely cause his death too. Most of us here know that no real change will occur as long as billionaires are running the show, and that none of them will allow the return of the Bill of Rights and common law courts, so we generally see very different solutions than someone who is “one of them”.

    Okay… that understood, we’re looking at this point from the angle of an oligarch, whose own life is threatened by the general opinion here, and if we consider that “work within the system” is all that will allow his survival, then his point of view makes some sense.

    See that? When violent uprising, or popular revolution occurs, people like PCR are hanged from tree limbs, and he knows it. He’ll always suggest solutions that increase his own chance of survival, and the fear of violent uprising may be why he writes independently today: he wants to make a name for himself as one of the “good guys” before the SHTF.

    But on to his opinion: If we’re going to accept “working within the system”, which seems to make sense to everyone who voted (or they wouldn’t have voted), then you can see where he’s coming from. Someone like Munchin’ may have gotten rich working for Goldman, but that was 14 years ago, when it wasn’t so obvious that the destruction of this country was the goal.

    And yes, after working for Goldman, your next job isn’t going to be in a car wash, but instead you’ll manage hedge funds, invest in movies, or whatever, because that’s what billionaires do. If you can put a monetary value on time, their time is worth more money than ours, because they have money to invest. As an analogy; if you owned ten houses, you’re not going to rake the leaves in front of any of them, because your wealth has made your time more valuable than someone who only owns one house.

    Getting rich is as American as apple pie, and you shouldn’t hate people for doing that successfully, unless they’ve also acquired their wealth immorally. (which is usually the case).

    The fact of the matter is that there aren’t 300 million people to choose from for these cabinet positions. If you exclude all the idiots, and all the people who have no experience in the world of high-finance, and national economics, you’re probably only dealing with a small handful of them to begin with, and Munchin’ is probably one of them, or Goldman wouldn’t have paid him the big bucks (made him a partner) He’s being described as “very smart” by some very smart people, so this guy probably has an I.Q. in the 150 range, and no, there aren’t many people available with his brain and experience.

    Like I said (days ago), it’s a question of where his loyalties lie.


    2. Where trumps loyalties lie is not a question. Why are we pretending that it is some mystery? In his own words “the days of treating israel like a second class citizen ends on day one”. He made it very clear his ambition and intent to see to that, as if israel is actually treated as a second class citizen. This is the base of globalism, a terrorist state, the corruption of the U.S., a genocidal and mass murdering entity and is applauded for being so and he wants people to think it’s being treated like a second class citizen? He, as I said and he openly and lovingly admits is a Zionist. His son in law who has no experience in politics, or at least not any we know of, is allowed to determine who he puts in his cabinet and is interestingly heavily involved in his decision making. A staunch backer of netenyahu and his party, both trump and his son in law. I don’t think there is any question as to where his loyalties lie. Playing devils advocate is one thing when we truly don’t know, but when time and time again the writing is on the wall, we can’t afford to blind ourselves. It’s not about him being rich. I really don’t care about that and I’m not one who thinks that because someone is rich they must be evil. I’d love to be rich. That’s incidental. The issue is his circle of friends and his “loyalties”. It’s very clear. Its a matter of waking up and, for lack of better words, believing. Many people want to think this govt is their own, it’s not. It hasn’t been for a long time and trust me when I say, trump is not gonna change that. I KNEW he would be selected. Why? Because the writing is on the wall. Has been. It’s nothing new actually. It’s the same old scene, every 4 to 8 years. The only difference I see is a harder stance by the zionists and a more in your face attitude. And they’re, as usual, training the American people to go along and love them and their ways. They know Americans are fed up, and they know exactly how to appease them. (Trump, make America great again). As I’ve said, I will not put my trust in the con man, I see it for what it is. We will find out trumps loyalties for sure. Although it’s not his alone and I don’t put all the blame on the puppets like him and Obama alone. They’re “just doing their job”. Question is, when it is beyond the shadow of a doubt, his loyalties, what will we the American people do? When will we do it?

      1. I hear ya, Jamal, but I was talking about Munchin’s loyalty.

        Trump’s appointments were the subject, and I stated from the beginning that we would have to look at this from an oligarch’s point of view to even address the question.


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