EDITORS NOTE: We’re discontinuing the Tracking Trump series due to general disinterest. We’re instead focusing on the upcoming Living with PTSD, Living with ADHD, and Historical Negationism series.
The week passed with Trump tossing claims that Obama wire tapped him to claims that the Brits did before ending up accusing Germany of draining America’s funds. Paranoia. Huge. Largely overlooked was a fascinating article by Buzzfeed that reported that Trump delights in surveillance and practices it whenever he can:
At his private club at Mar-a Lago, as BuzzFeed News revealed last June, Trump listened in on employee phone calls using a special switchboard that was installed in his bedroom and was connected to every phone line in the estate. The Trump Organization employs a “director of surveillance,” Matt Calamari, son of Trump’s longtime bodyguard… Inside Trump’s house near Washington, DC, where guests would sometimes stay, an extensive video surveillance system was monitored by Trump security personnel in New York. A surveillance company said that in public areas of the Trump National Doral resort, it installed video cameras to blend in with the décor by looking like smoke detectors.
And so on and so forth. Projection and deflection – part of the game.
Cruel budget – typically Trump. A la Ayn Rand, no Meal on Wheels, no money for heat for the poor, and nothing for the Arts, Humanities or Sciences. Likewise, no money for public broadcasting and development groups as well as steep cuts to agencies like the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency.
Some notable inclusions:
- Health and Human Services, the department responsible would face a $12.6 billion cut
- Environmental Protection Agency: $2.6 billion
- National Institutes of Health: $5.8 billion
- Eliminates the USDA Water and Wastewater loan and grant program
- Reduces or eliminates 20 programs within the Department of Education, including Striving Readers, Teacher Quality Partnership and Impact Aid support payments for federal property and international education programs
- Eliminates funds for Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing
- Stops funding for the Clean Power Plan
- Eliminates funding for Chemical Safety Board
- Nil for Global Climate Change Initiative
- And, of course, nothing for the United States Institute of Peace
Only Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs get a boost.
Programs for disadvantaged workers, including seniors, youths, and those with disabilities, would be reduced or completely eliminated. The Senior Community Service Employment Program, training grants at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and technical-assistance grants at the Office of Disability Employment Policy would all disappear. Job-training centers for disadvantaged children would be shuttered and funding for more general job-training and employment services would move from the federal budget to states.
America First? More likely, America Last.
Trump Care – The numbers:
24 million people will lose their health insurance by 2026 (the Congressional Budget Office). The White House revamped that to 26 million. Older people will no longer be able to afford insurance, so insurance companies will no longer cover their expensive treatments. The result? More than 17,000 people could die next year who’d otherwise live, and that number would climb to 29,000 people dying per year in 2026.
One overlooked travesty of this 45th Administration is its war, not against the media or the judges or Sweden, Britain, Mexico, Muslims or the Pope, but against the inspectors general:
There are 73 inspectors generals charged with serving as independent and objective watchdogs to root out waste, fraud, and abuse. They also serve as a check on the White House.
Wednesday, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) wrote a letter to Trump detailing the ways his administration impeded their duties. One of these was that January 13th, multiple inspectors general received calls from Trump transition officials warning them that they should start looking for other jobs. Unlike many other politically appointed positions, they serve open-ended terms. Their position is nonpartisan by definition and it was unusual for them to be asked to leave their jobs by a new administration.
Top Trump adviser, Stephen Gorka, won’t deny the report that he is a member of Nazi-linked group, but instead directed all questions to the White House press office which did not respond.
The Forward reported that Gorka, who spent years living in Hungary, has deep ties to Hungarian anti-Semites and neo-fascists, and reportedly co-founded a political party with ex-members of Jobbik, a far-right Hungarian party frequently described as fascist. More important, this Gorka belongs to Vitézi Rend, a party founded in 1920 by Hungarian nationalist ruler Miklós Horthy, later a Nazi collaborator. ThinkProgress noted that “the outfit [Gorka] wore to Trump’s inaugural festivities recalled the garb of the Vitézi Rend, down to a medal that seemed to be associated with the group.”
“Birds of a feather flock together” – Trump’s party seems to be full of Nazi, rather, fascist collaborators. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn reportedly met with the head of a far-right Austrian party founded by a former member of the SS. Steve Bannon, Trump’s svengali, espouses affection for extreme right-wing parties like France’s National Front and Germany’s AfD. Any wonder then that Gorka is a member of the Strategic Initiatives Group, Bannon’s “internal think tank” within the Trump administration!
In Trump’s universe of Alt-fact, his Environmental Protection Agency spokespeople quibble about reliability of established climate science. On March 9, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt had falsely claimed that carbon dioxide is not the “primary contributor” to global warming. On Wednesday, an EPA spokesperson defended his boss’ claim by telling Reuters that “there is ongoing scientific debate on climate change, its causes and its effect.” Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists would beg to differ.
Billionaire George Soros called Donald Trump a “would-be dictator” who is “going to fail.” During a panel discussion in Davos, Switzerland, Soros said that President-elect Trump was “gearing up for a trade war,” which would have “a very far-reaching effect in Europe and other parts of the world,” Agence-France Presse reported Friday.
“I personally have confidence that he’s going to fail… because his ideas that guide him are inherently self-contradictory,” said Soros, adding that members of Trump’s cabinet are each fighting for different interests.
But he predicted the loss of the United States’ “positive influence in the world” and said said this would have “a very far-reaching effect in Europe and other parts of the world.”