Saturday, February 18, 2017

Donald Trump: A Fascist Billionaire Without A Budget

Donald Trump whom I've taken to calling "Donito Trumpolini" because of his attempts at creating blatantly fascist policies, can hardly go a day without making another outrageous claim or devising another outrageous policy. He wants to use 100,000 national guardsmen to deport undocumented citizens; and, he wants to reinstate the draft -- both of which wreak of a fascistic, militaristic and foul odor. Let me remind you that a marriage of corporations and government is another element of fascism; and, Trump is tapping billionaires who have little or no experience in politics or governance for different cabinet posts. Make what you will of that. It looks like unabashed fascism to me.

It's been said that every dark cloud has a silver lining. The silver lining in this case is that people the world over are becoming more politically- and socially- conscious, though they could still use a strong dose of spiritual consciousness. As Meatloaf would say, "Two out of three ain't bad". Until very recently, I didn't notice many people throwing around the "F" word -- "fascist". Of late, it appears in many of the comments made by my Facebook friends. A much higher percentage of the posts by my friends and myself are of a political nature. They often express worry about where Trumpolini will (mis)lead the country -- and even the world. (Being as my Facebook forwards to Twitter, Trump might read something posted or forwarded by me wherein he is called the "F" word.)

I engage in political conversation with homeless men at shelters and soup kitchens. I walk down the street, as I did earlier today, and hear homeless men talking about Trumpolini and homelessness. Living in DC where everything is political, I see many protests -- some being quite spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment. People are beginning to develop and articulate political views. They're no longer just "leaving politics to the politicians". The ICE raids are showing them in real time how politics affect their lives. Whether or not you support the deportations, you'd have to be keenly aware of how quickly you or a loved one can disappear after Trumpolini sends the word out. That's cause for concern.

While on Facebook earlier today, I read a comment from a friend wherein he quoted one of his friends who thought that comparing Trumpolini to Hitler was a little over the top. The "friend of a friend" held that, if we really thought that Trump was anything like Hitler, we wouldn't speak so openly against him; and, our current exercise of free speech is proof that Trumpolini is no Hitler. I chimed in to tell them that Hitler was the champion chancellor of Germany before going on a rampage and advised them to give him time, but not too much. I'll elaborate a bit more here and now by saying that, even as Obama drew that "red line" (as he called it) or that "line in the sand" which he then told Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad not to cross, Americans need to draw a line in the sand with Trumpolini in terms of his fascist leanings; but, unlike Obama, we need to take action against him when he crosses it. This requires that we have some knowledge of social theory, of how unacceptable systems develop within accepted ones before turning on the parent system and of what indicators there are that we might be reaching the point of no return.

My hatred of unchecked hyperbole (that is, anything beyond a catchy title and introductory paragraph) on the one hand and my not wanting to wait until it's too late on the other hand, when taken together, have me conflicted. Having been raised by a father who frequently admonished my siblings and I "not to cry'Wolf!'", it has become second nature for me to think long and hard before saying anything that might be mere hyperbole. On the other hand, I've watched as Presidents Clinton, Bush 43 and Trumpolini lied to the public. I've also noticed that Bush 43, Obama and Trump have exhibited a propensity for going after whistle blowers who expose wrongdoings by government and its military rather than addressing the wrongs they've exposed. It's clear that a good portion of the voting public, having been fearful of another 9/11-style attack, re-elected a "great protector" in the person of Bush 43 and gave him full run of the house so he could do anything he saw fit to do in order to protect Americans. He used every inch of space that he was given and used it to advance a totalitarian agenda -- albeit Cheney's. It's true that Watergate has gone down in history as the most noticeable point at which U.S. presidents became obviously, and then overtly, corrupt. However, I believe that the 2004 U.S. presidential election is the point at which the faucet of fascism began to be turned counter-clockwise and the flow has been steadily increased since then to its current wide open, pant-splashing force. Fortunately, the "white sink" hasn't overflowed nor the torrent flowed down Pennsylvania Avenue and overtaken Congress.

Congress, even the GOP, is largely at odds with Trumpolini. Members of Congress and of Trumpolini's cabinet have expressed concerns over his low level of honesty (save his propensity for keeping the promises that many people wish he'd never made in the first place), his lack of knowledge about government and his mental health. Cabinet members have said during their confirmation hearings that they'd disobey any unlawful orders from Trumpolini, which would relegate him to being nothing more than a symbolic figurehead -- a very angry and vindictive symbolic figurehead. Cabinet and congress members seem to be somewhat apologetic toward the world as they offer their condolences and assurances to other countries that Trumpolini will be kept on a short leash where he can't do them any harm -- the leash of disobedience from them. How long can and will they keep this up??? The silver lining for Trumpolini in all of this is that he doesn't have a full-on mutiny within his administration yet; because, he hasn't filled very many of the key positions yet.

That brings us to the title of this post: "Donald Trump: A Fascist Billionaire Without A Budget". While the talk about Trumpolini's politics, in-fighting in the "white sink of fascism"...err White House, congressional bickering, the pseudo-presidents weekends at the Mar - a - Lago Resort, his unhinged press conference(s), his disdain for media or intelligence and his wanting to take two courts (so far) to yet another court over their reversal of his Muslim ban are all over the headlines, there are some nuts and bolts issues that have yet to see the light of day. Thank God for Facebook. In the past month I've reposted some of my Facebook memories and, in so doing, have been reminded of how in 2011 Congress wanted to cut funding for HUD and the EPA -- things that have come up again this year, with the GOP controlling all three houses (if you want to call what Trumpolini exercises "control"). As Congress revisits the issue of Obamacare, the Facebook community and at least one of my flesh-and-blood friends have begun to discuss the fact that Congress should have had an alternative to the Affordable Care Act ready to be signed by Trump on January 20th. After all, they've spent at least six years making and remaking it. This speaks to the matter of congressional dysfunction, their failure thus far to have a vote of no confidence against Trump notwithstanding. That said, the GOP replacement to the ACA has yet to see the light of day.

But that's not why I call him "a fascist billionaire without a budget". I spoke to a couple of Hill staffers on Monday, February 13th while visiting a senator's office. One of them explained that a new president must make 200 nominations for positions that must be confirmed by the senate. They include secretaries, under-secretaries and various diplomatic positions. As of 2/13/17, only ten confirmations had been made. In Trump's defense, the senate democrats have sworn to obstruct the confirmation process at every turn. The most vocal staffer explained that, while the cabinet positions are vacant, the budgets for those departments can't be submitted to or voted on by the senate. Fiscal year 2018 begins on October 1st, 2017. If a full annual budget is not passed, then Congress will substitute it with as many three-month-long continuing resolutions as necessary. While each department would have some finances, they'd be wary of spending more than two-thirds of their quarterly allotment (the CR money); because, the final budget (if one is adopted) might leave them with less operating funds per month than they initially thought they'd have.

For those of you who are not budgetarily or mathematically inclined, imagine that you were given $3,000 to last three months -- $1,000 per month. Then imagine that, after much congressional deliberation, you were give another $3,000 to last the remaining nine months. If you've spent the first $3,000, you now have $333.33 for each of the remaining nine months. If you've only spent $1,500 of the first $3,000 after three months, you can add the remaining $1,500 to the second $3,000 and continue to spend $500 per month throughout the year. That said, if a department of government spends down the first installment of CR money and the monthly allowance must be reduced in the middle of a fiscal year, then programs and initiatives of that department must be reduced or eliminated abruptly in the middle of the year.

This concern causes departments to exercise high levels of constraint without having a full annual budget. So, cabinet, under-secretary and diplomatic vacancies hold up the budget process. Congress uses a piecemeal, stop-gap funding measure called a "continuing resolution". Departments are afraid to do much of anything. Not much gets done by government. The people whose sustenance comes from the government -- in part or in full -- might be directly impacted (with the possible...possible exception of entitlements like Social Security and Medicare). Most of the military's budget is an entitlement; and, given Trumpolini's promise to build up the military along with his stated desire to reinstate the draft and use the national guard for deportations, you can rest assured that all of the military's entitlement money and most or all of the discretionary funding that it requests will be given by Trumpolini and Congress. Fascist militarism.

As indicated in a prior blog post, DC's local government has a $13 billion budget of which about $3 billion comes from Congress. About $1.2 billion is discretionary and the rest entitlement money. Long story short, the DC Council might soon find that they must move local dollars around to different parts of the budget to make up for the loss of federal funding. Though they will have lost about !0% of the budget, some parts of the budget might be impossible to reduce, which would mean other parts would be reduced by more than 10%. Social services are generally the first things to be reduced during a budget crunch. That's not to speak of the fact that people whose federal benefits are received directly from the feds would be left to wonder about the future of those benefits. They'd be hit directly by presidential/federal dysfunction and indirectly as the council is forced to reduce services in lieu of reduced federal funding. Much remains to be seen. Unfortunately, the poorest citizens -- the ones who need a social safety net -- are also the least likely to stand up and speak out. This makes them the easiest ones for the likes of Trumpolini to prey on.

Speaking of preying, folk need to increase their spiritual consciousness too. Some of us saw in June 2015 that Trumpolini had the spirit of a grossly irrational demagogue who appeals to the lowest common denominator of people's thinking -- that he promises to give people what they want but fails to devise a rational and viable plan for doing so. Bush 43, under the leadership of Cheney, began an illegal war that cost a lot of lives; but, his administration was not fully dysfunctional. Having served as governor of Texas, his style was a bit more polished than Trumpolini's. People get a pass for not foreseeing what Bush43 would do -- the quagmire he'd drag us into with his war [of] terror. But I question the reasoning of anyone who was so drawn to Trumpolini's campaign promises that they didn't pick up on how unfit he was and is -- this in spite of a 17-month campaign. That said, the continual downgrading of presidential sanity and intelligence from 2004 (when we should have known better than to re-elect Bush 43) should cause us to wonder just how much worse things can get and to determine where we'll draw that line in the sand. We should realize by now that voting for a candidate who promises to protect us by building walls or by engaging in illegal wars only gives us more to fear. We have nothing to fear but fear itself and God. (Saddam Hussein is probably laughing at us right now.) In 2020, if we are still able to vote for a president, we need not vote a demagogue who appeals to the emotions of the masses, but rather for a rational candidate who reasons well and considers all available facts. As for that line in the sand, I think the masses will rise up spontaneously when Trumpolini uses martial law to quell dissent. It might be too late then. So, for me, that line is when one poor person dies (or even comes close) for lack of sustenance as a result of a Trumpolini policy. In the meantime, let's continue to increase our political, social and spiritual consciousness.

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