Trump/Pence Can’t Fulfill Promises to Workers and to the Billionaire Class
Paul Jay discusses the danger of Pence, who will model Dick Cheney’s vice presidency, and then responds to promises in Trump’s inaugural address
PAUL JAY: I want to talk a little bit about Pence, who’s about to be inaugurated as Vice President. This is a guy who not only is all connected with the Koch brothers, and you can go to our website and others, there’s lots of evidence to how significantly the Koch brothers have financed his entire political career. Meaning, he’s allied himself with climate deniers, and people that are pushing for a total free market, and essentially have owned a great deal, if not most of Congress, and State legislatures across the country.
But it’s more dangerous than that with Pence, because Pence says he wants to model his Vice Presidency on Dick Cheney. And that’s a very important statement. Because not only was Dick Cheney a super powerful Vice President, in the sense that he was really running much of what normally the President would run. But Cheney is the guy, who first of all, circumvents the normal intelligence pathways pre-9/11, so that instead of intelligence agencies reporting up to Richard Clarke — who was the Anti-Terrorism Czar — and thus all the agencies would coordinate pre-9/11 intelligence, of which there was a great deal.
I mean, there must be as many as 10 very important examples, I won’t go through them now, of intelligence, which, if had followed up, would have in all likelihood prevented 9/11 from even happening. Cheney gets the intelligence agencies reporting to him, and bi-passing Richard Clarke. This is according to whistle-blower Thomas Drake, and there’s a great deal of other evidence.
Cheney then does what with that information? Well, he does nothing with that information. There is no coordination of the intelligence agencies pre-9/11. And when one connects this to Cheney being a signatory of, “The Project for New American Century” documents that called for essentially, the assertion of U.S. geo-political power to reshape the world, specifically regime change in Iraq, then Syria, and then Iran. And in it, it says to get the American people on board for this — we need a new Pearl Harbor — and they get their new Pearl Harbor. So, for Pence to say that he wants to model his Vice Presidency on Cheney…
Let’s go another step, John Kiriakou, another whistle-blower, says that in the lead up to the War on Iraq, every morning there was a call with all the heads of national security agencies, military leadership, and with Cheney preparing them all, almost a year ahead of the invasion of Iraq, for the invasion. And on it, according to Kiriakou, who’s on the calls, part of the CIA team — the… I shouldn’t say it’s the heads of all these agencies — it’s the number two of all these agencies. But who’s chairing this meeting every morning? Vice President Dick Cheney. And why is he even there?
On these calls, all these people are representing their agencies, and the Pentagon, are saying they’re against the War in Iraq. That it’s going to be an enormous strategic error, according to Kiriakou. Cheney says, “You’re on board, or you can resign.” So, this is the guy Pence says he wants to model his Vice Presidency after, and we know Pence has said the number one problem in the world right now is Iran.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right. We’re going to now switch over to the inauguration, where Vice President, Mike Pence, is getting sworn in.
MIKE PENCE: (clip)
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, welcome back. So, that was Vice President, Mike Pence, getting sworn in. Paul, what do we know about him?
PAUL JAY: Well, I think we’ll have other guests, a little later, that get into some of the details of Pence and Indiana. But what we do know about him is that he’s part of a team, in terms of foreign policy, which is very much focusing… Look at Flynn, who’s National Security Advisor, the Secretary of Defense, and so on. They all have in their cross hairs — Iran. They’ve all been on record in the past of wanting regime change in Iran. They’ve all been greatly critical of the deal Obama negotiated.
Now, there was a lot of to-do made in the hearings, how Mattis, Defense Secretary, and some of the others, Pompeo at the CIA, said that they wouldn’t rip up the Iran deal. And there was lot made of how this was contradictory to what Trump had said in the campaign. And on the face of it is, it’s contradictory, but I don’t think in substance it’s going to be. If you look at some of the things that are coming out of the Jerusalem Post, prior even to the election, and you see this in other areas, in terms of the drum beat on the far right, which is they’re already accusing Iran of violating the Nuclear Agreement.
Now, Pompeo had to, in his hearing, had to acknowledge — I think it was Senator Feinstein — went through the fact that Iran is actually living up to the Agreement, and she gave very concrete examples. And he had to acknowledge that’s all true. What, you know, people that follow this fear — and you can hear the drum beats, as I say, in various parts of the very militant right press, including Jerusalem Post — which is, they’re going to manufacture evidence. And the manufacturing of evidence is going to be, Iran is now violating the Agreement.
So, for the sake of the hearings, they can look so reasonable, “Oh, yes we acknowledge that we can’t get out of this deal even though we didn’t like it.” And so on. But there’s a whole track record during the whole negotiations of this deal, of intelligence, supposed intelligence, of an Iranian secret program. In fact, the American intelligence agencies have yet to revise their basic estimate that Iran was not building a bomb. In fact, during the Democratic Primaries a few years ago, Biden said out and out, there is no bomb being built. If there was, we would know about it.
So, the problem is, these guys all talk as if there is a secret Iranian program, that Iran is violating the Agreement. There’s no evidence. But they can manufacture that evidence.
SHARMINI PERIES: Yes, as they did in Iraq.
PAUL JAY: Exactly.
SHARMINI PERIES: But in terms of the Iran deal, it’s not just the United States who’s involved in holding Iran accountable, and negotiating with Iran. It is a, you know, P5+1 agreement, so all of Europe would have to agree with the United States that there’s any shifts being made.
PAUL JAY: I think that’s why they didn’t want to just pull out. I think they’ve kind of adjusted their position now, not just to look more reasonable in the hearings, but they would like to get the P5 on board, all of them, if they can manufacture evidence that Iran has violated the agreement.
So, just to pull out of the agreement, will make any possibility of any kind of international consortium alliance to enforce the, what do they call it, the snap back of the sanctions. What they want is the snap back of the sanctions. They want full sanctions back on Iran, and they want to weaken Iran regionally. And more importantly, I think, and some of them, I think, want to do the bombing.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, so we’re now going to cut back to the actual broadcast of the Trump Inauguration.
DONALD TRUMP: (clip)
SHARMINI PERIES: Welcome back. As you witnessed, the 45th President of the United States has been sworn in. He’s just given a speech, and all day and all morning, this morning, there’s been demonstrations going on all over the gates, the entranceways, to the Inauguration has been blocked.
There’s been quite a bit of back and forth between security and the protestors all morning. But as the swearing in took place, and as the speech was given by Donald Trump, things seem to have subsided a bit. I will make sure that you see some of that footage later on, but right now we’re going to go to Paul Jay, to analyze President Donald Trump’s speech, that was just given on Capitol Hill. Thanks for joining us, Paul.
PAUL JAY: Hi. So, let me just say again, I’m not a pirate. For people that didn’t hear earlier, I have an eye condition, now I know it looks a little bizarre, but so it is.
SHARMINI PERIES: So, what are some of the highlights of his speech that you noted?
PAUL JAY: Well, it didn’t have a lot in the speech. I mean, you try to analyze a speech, there’s not a lot in it. But there’s a few key points, I think, that are worth talking about. I think the new decree, which he talks about, which is America First, America First, America First. That suggests that under the Obama administration, the Bush administration, and every President in the history of the United States, that somehow it wasn’t America First.
It’s always been America First. The difference here, particularly if you want to contrast the Trump administration with the Obama administration, but it’s true even for Bush, a little less, but again, with Clinton, is that America is the manager of global capitalism. America First means global capitalism has to work. If global capitalism is dysfunctional, then the American economy will also suffer, even though it’s by far the largest economy in the world.
So, you take the ’07-’08 crisis. You had the Federal Reserve Bank actually loaning money to European banks, even to some individual European companies. The bailout wasn’t just an American bailout. It was in various places in the world, and they had to do it, because if the banking system of Europe crashes, it’s a disaster for the American banking system as well. So, the role and responsibility of the United States in managing the global affairs, is always done, and always has been done, on the principle of America First.
They just dress it up to make it look like they’re giving foreign aid, not because they want to pillage the resources of Africa. Of course, that’s the reason they grease the way for American mining companies, and so on, whether it’s in Latin America or Africa. America First is always the underlying principle. The issue is, will Trump pay attention to this role of managing global capitalism, or will he let things unravel?
Who knows what he would have done in ’07, ’08? Maybe he wouldn’t have — one, allowed the Fed… I know the Fed’s supposed to be independent, but still, to play this global role. And second of all, would they have allowed such stimulus to try to save this recession from getting worse? Certainly, Obama did do some stimulus.
There’s another part of America First. If Trump can actually accomplish what he’s talking about — bring jobs back, and buy American products. His big slogan was, “Make it in America, and buy American made.” If you really do that, then what is going to happen to wages? Well, wages will go up, because one of the guarantees of lower wages and stagnant wages in the United States has been globalization — the ability of corporations to farm stuff out. A significant number of unemployed people puts a pressure on wages.
Well, we know that the real underlying principle of Donald Trump, and his cabinet, and even more importantly, his billionaire backers and allies — whether it’s Robert Mercer and daughter Rebecca, or the Koch brothers, or Sheldon Adelson or others — their fundamental principle is profit. And they make no bones about it.
SHARMINI PERIES: This is why I found the contradictions in his speech, you know, when he said, and in fact one of the biggest and main points he made at the very beginning of his speech — just after he congratulated President Obama and Michelle Obama and the transition and how gracious they’ve been and so on — he went right into saying that, you know, Washington has been reaping the benefits of the wealth of the nation. And this is going to be the first day where the people will benefit from the wealth of the nation.
And he, you know, spoke for five, six minutes on that particular issue. And I was very surprised, because it’s a blatant contradiction in terms of the people he’s appointing. Who’s going to be the wealthiest cabinet in the history of the United States, and what he’s saying in this speech.
PAUL JAY: Yeah, I think it’s a good point. But this links to what I was saying. You can’t have jobs coming back to the United States. You can’t have, “Buy American Products.” You can’t have that and have profits at the rate they’ve been being generated. So, where is his real allegiance? Is it to profit, or is it to, you know, what he’s promising workers?
I mean it’s clear from his history. His history is, his allegiance is, to his own profit. And now it’s going to be to his allies’ profit. So, it’s a completely unattainable goal, because of who he represents, they need lower wages, and you need to be able to offshore jobs to ensure that.
What you raised is very important because what he said is completely deceptive. It’s not a little clique in Washington that has reaped the benefits — yes, of course some have — it’s the billionaire class that has reaped the benefits. Wall Street, fossil fuels, Silicon Valley. I mean, go through the whole thing, or Vegas casino man, Sheldon Adelson. The idea that the government, and people working in the government, have been the ones reaping the wealth, it’s total nonsense.
You look at, you know, the growth of income after the crisis is something, what is it — 90% of the growth in income after ’07, ’08 went to less than 1% of the population. Now, the people in Washington helped facilitate that happening. They passed laws that made it happen. The way the bailout took place by President Obama and his finance team facilitated all this.
But Trump hides the role of the billionaires and tries to make everyone focus on cops. It’s almost like a city like Baltimore, where focus on the police, focus on the police… You know, don’t focus on the people with wealth, who the police are protecting.
SHARMINI PERIES: I notice that Sheldon Adelson was very comfortably positioned just directly behind Trump as he was being sworn in. You can actually see him sitting there. I found the contribution that Sheldon Adelson had made to the Trump campaign. I mean, obviously he was buying a seat at the Inauguration as well, and there’s been some references to that.
PAUL JAY: Oh, he bought a $25 million seat. Adelson jumped in with money for Trump when Trump was really in trouble. And I don’t know what Trump’s views were, if they were so fully formed on Israel-Palestine before that $25 million hit. But boy, were they ever in line with Sheldon Adelson, once he got the money.
Adelson has also contributed a whack of money to the Inauguration itself, but he’s one of the more… he’s sort of active on Israel-Palestine. But in some ways he’s a little more passive than some of the other billionaires, compared to, like, Koch brothers, and Mercer and his daughter Rebecca.