It's not so much that Donald Trump's Budget Manifesto of Hate is such a great big blow to our heads. For now, anyway, it's only a campaign speech dressed up in sadistic language and some alleged math.
It's the ceaseless drone of the swarms of mosquitoes that's doing us in. By merely voicing their desire to punish our most vulnerable friends and family members, Trump and his Congressional cohort are accomplishing their core goal, which is inspiring fear. That we might not, after all, lose the daily bodily and social sustenance of Meals on Wheels; that we might not, after all, lose all our Medicaid and Medicare health coverage; that we might not, after all, get deported, beaten up or killed on the basis of our race, religion or ethnicity is of secondary importance to the main agenda of the oligarchs now directly running the government. The agenda is intimidation.
We're still only in Phase One of the Trump regime. And it behooves both sides of the duopoly to prolong his reign in the interest of maximum psychological control of the population. It's the anticipation of pain that does us harm before even one dollar of our Social Security is cut, before even one trip to our doctor's office is cancelled, before even one unionized nurse or public school teacher loses her job to the complete privatization of what is still left of the commons.
We are being terrorized today, right this minute, by the mere threat of being punished tomorrow.
And once the Democrats make one of their feeble eleventh-hour deals with Republicans -- to perhaps rip more than the average number of holes in the social safety as opposed to tearing it to shreds in one fell swoop -- won't we psychologically tortured people feel ever so grateful to our leaders? We never let the perfect be the enemy of the good, do we? Our grit and determination and resilience and resistance will get us through, every single time. Rah, D-Team!
Klemperer wrote in his diary: "How I dreaded the house search. And when the Gestapo came, I was quite cold and defiant. And how good our food tasted afterward! All the good things, which we had hidden and they had not found."
A neoliberal gaslighting campaign is also on full bipartisan display in Congress. Democrats almost daily declare themselves absolutely helpless in the face of Trumpian tyranny, even as they make vague promises to save us if only we elect more candidates from within their own corrupt corporate apparatus. But for now, they say, we'll just have to wait Donald Trump out as they foment some more Russophobia to tide us over.
Dianne Feinstein, one of the highest ranking Democrats in the Senate, soothed that it's only a matter of time before we get some relief. There is no need right now for her and her liberal colleagues to personally confront Trump on his various conflicts of interest and his blatant breaches of the Constitution. As reported by Politico:
How are we going to get him out?" the questioner asked.So far, impeachment is off the table, just as it was once off the table for George W. Bush and his coterie of unindicted and still-thriving war criminals. Despite the mountains of evidence against Trump being unearthed almost daily, Feinstein claimed not to know whether he has committed any impeachable offenses. She did allow, however, that "questions are being raised" by such things as the Trump sons' international deal-making on behalf of the family. Trips for personal gain are being conducted on the taxpayer dime, and that doesn't look so good on the surface.
"I think he's gonna get himself out," the California Democrat and member of the Senate intelligence committee replied.
Her comment was captured on video by LA Times reporter Javier Panzar, who posted the exchanges on Twitter. A Feinstein spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
If Dianne Feinstein, with her estimated net worth of $42 million, can afford to bide her time, then so too must the frightened pensioner worried that her Meals on Wheels and her government heating assistance will get cut off. And once her food intake and her heat are mercifully reduced by a mere third, she'll rejoice just to be barely subsisting.
Meanwhile, we're told by liberal economist Robert Reich, "Washington is more divided, angry, bewildered and fearful - than I've ever seen it."
Oh, the poor things. It must be the upending of The Norms. The Republicans think Trump is nuts, and will pull the Party right down with him. Furthermore, Reich informs us, the White House itself is "a cesspool of intrigue and fear. Apparently everyone working there hates and distrusts everybody else."
While Washington insiders are quivering and bickering, the CIA now enjoys carte blanche to assassinate at will with Predator and Reaper drones, the Pentagon has sent ground troops into Syria with no input or discussion by Congress, and a ravenous cabal of oligarchs makes the Robber Barons of the first Gilded Age look like angels by comparison. At least back then they built company towns and company stores to keep people indebted. If you're poor and indebted nowadays, they've been building privatized prisons to fulfill all your housing needs.
So while the political ruling class prepares for even more war by drumming up our fear of the Russians, the Social Contract is being ripped to pieces right under our noses.
There's been a lot of ink spilled recently about how comparing of Donald Trump's America to Adolf Hitler's Germany is wildly overblown. For one thing, Trump doesn't have thousands of Brownshirts running around the country beating hundreds of people up, every single day. In the United States, "only" about one person is killed by a law enforcement officer in any given 24-hour period. Such fascistic practices as New York City's "stop and frisk" police abuse of black and Latino men have eventually been ordered stopped by a functioning court system. And so far, every single one of Trump's anti-Muslim bans have been overturned by the judicial system.
We are still allowed to choose from among a field of candidates approved by a handful of billionaires. We still have a free press, despite the corporate consolidation of the media into six main conglomerates and the demise of independent and local newspapers. Trump can call it "fake news" all he wants, but he doesn't have the power to send in federal troops to shut down the New York Times and CNN. For one thing, his approval rating is only the 30-something percent range. Hitler demanded, and got, national loyalty based upon his decades of hard work building up his very own hate-based political party.
Trump is more of an afterthought, a side-effect, an excrescence of decades of neoliberalism's hard work of feeding itself into a bloated and corrupt system of unaccountable capitalism
That "it" hasn't quite happened here yet doesn't mean it won't, or isn't happening already, like Klemperer's thousand little mosquito bites. The attacks on American social programs have been ongoing for decades, reaching their zenith with the Reagan Revolution, and continuing apace since then.
While we're being distracted by those damned Russians, Paul Ryan and his pals are tearing up the Social Contract in full public view but to little public fanfare. The first House vote to destroy Medicaid as we have known it since LBJ's 1960s Great Society anti-poverty legislation is scheduled for this Thursday. Since punishing more people has now been made slightly more cruel in order to attract more GOP hardliners, its chance of passage is considered to be slightly better than it was last week.
But you wouldn't know it from reading the front pages or turning on the TV news.
From the top of today's New York Times homepage:
Comey's Haunting News on Trump and Russia.
Fresh Worries on Russia from Trump's Weary Defenders.
FBI Confirms Inquiry on Trump Team's Russia Ties.
Stone, a Trump Ally and Dirty Trickster, Under Investigation For Russia Connections.Below what used to be called the "fold," we finally come to a piece about the planned destruction of Medicaid. In bloodless anodyne terms, the piece lists such additions to the GOP bill as allowing upstate (read: white) New York counties to reduce their Medicaid contributions to Albany (read: punishing "those people" in New York City.)
And in its opinion section, the Times today published an op-ed suggesting that Democrats and Republicans can heal their differences by allowing private insurance predators to market "universal catastrophic coverage" policies across state lines.
"It would be a step consistent with President Trump’s bold message and it could resolve the current debate on Capitol Hill, now headed in a direction unlikely to satisfy anyone. President Trump has never shied away from thinking big, and now he has the potential to turn the politics of health care upside down with a populist solution that might go a long way toward solving one of the nation’s biggest problems," enthuses Benjamin Domenech, publisher of the right-wing Federalist.
Got that, proles? Read mainstream media, and develop a constant unhealthy fear of Russia. Continue to also relentlessly fear and loathe Trump, the whole Trump, and nothing but the Trump. Cheer from your nosebleed seats as Democrats and pundits gleefully call out his constant lies, grandstand on his unproven Russian connections, ignore his proven decades-long track record of graft and corruption right here in the USA, and do nothing to remove him from office. After all, he brings lots of clicks, and cable and newspaper subscriptions, and ad revenue, and political donations from the sleepless and rattled population.
Quite deliberately, they never discuss Medicare for All as the only sane, humane and cost-effective counterweight to GOP nihilism.
Instead, we are told to dream the impossible dream of someday being able to purchase true, universal and unaffordable catastrophic coverage. We'll need it, because heretofore treatable, but soon-to-be neglected and uncovered, illnesses will needlessly lead to more humanitarian catastrophes.
Just take one item from the "budget," and the planned annihilation of the most vulnerable among us becomes all too obvious. Trump's proposed draconian cuts to the US Department of Agriculture alone are bound to cause a huge spike in the rate of food-borne illness, which in turn could lead to many catastrophic cases of sepsis in such vulnerable people as infants and the elderly and the immuno-suppressed.
And speaking of death by a thousand mosquitoes, Trump is even attaching a greedy profit motive to the fight against the Zika virus. As Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All proponent and the most popular politician in America, wrote recently:
But look over there, it's Russia infiltrating our democracy! Our leaders will never be able to prove it, but they'll gladly keep up the act as long as the right people continue to get rich.Now his administration, through the Army, is on the brink of making a bad deal, giving a French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi, the exclusive license to patents and thus a monopoly to sell a vaccine against the Zika virus. If Mr. Trump allows this deal, Sanofi will be able to charge whatever astronomical price it wants for its vaccine. Millions of people in the United States and around the world will not be able to afford it even though American taxpayers have already spent more than $1 billion on Zika research and prevention efforts, including millions to develop this vaccine.
Regardless of party affiliation, plutocrats will tolerate Trump because he deflects attention from the system which they created and of which they are such an integral, self-dealing part. Their resistance movement should not be our resistance movement. Don't buy into their buzz.
Don't be afraid of Russia. Be afraid instead of Paul Ryan's rushin' fingers, ripping the Social Contract into a thousand tiny shreds in the grim hope that we won't notice the real catastrophe until it's way too late.