Our world, individual lives sacrificed to a single ego

Posted by Tom Camfield

I’ll begin with a general assessment of the feckless spoiled child who is the current leader of our country before moving into specifics and concluding with a reasonable question about it all. And I won’t even mention the environment more than once.

The illustration above goes back a ways, but I call it all up here just as a reminder of the underlying sociopathic, self-oriented character of Donald J. Trump. He’s a mean individual all around. He seems to regard empathy as a social disease and altruism as a mental disorder. He not only is callously disrespectful of women—something that can’t be pointed out too often—but he also looks upon poverty as a choice of those saddled with unfortunate circumstances. Lazy “losers” in his mind, not to be encouraged. Never mind the suffering of those not born to millionaire parents—the actual millions of children of abandoned single mothers, elderly on threadbare fixed income, disabled, those enslaved by minimum wage, maimed military veterans. He serves them not, despite occasional staged photo ops and his inane blathering any time he can book TV time.

 The greater part of the foregoing pay no homage to Donald Trump. They don’t travel in circles where they can compliment his golf score. They do not contribute millions to his “campaign fund” (wherever that money may go). They do not pay significant taxes to support his armies. These are people to whom our president should be looking compassionately when considering on a regular basis “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We had a president who did that in the person of Barack Obama—but he was Black and a fixated Donald Trump spends even more time in trying to destroy Obama’s legacy than he does on the golf course and basking in the glow of praise from the nation’s ultra-wealthy.

A basic difference between Obama and Trump is that Donald’s goals are all personal ones. The reality of truth does not serve the Trump ego, so he makes up a fake reality to serve his goals and massive narcissism as things move along. He’s an “end justifies the means” kind of guy. You’ll never convince him that kneeling during playing of the national anthem is actually a prayer for justice and equality. A plea for help against the type of racial brutality that is actually encouraged by some of Trump’s own words and actions.

Our society is truly sick, elevating such a person to the presidency. True, he didn’t get the popular vote—and thus he remains dedicated to defaming Hillary Clinton, who actually received better overall acclaim. But the Electoral College served him just as well as the representative-district gerrymandering in red states (along with voter suppression) helps maintain the Republican majority in Congress.

"If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom." -- Rex Tillerson, May 16, 2018

Tillerson joined the Trump administration as Secretary of State on Feb. 1, 2017. Trump dismissed him on March 13, 2018, making his tenure one of the shortest in recent history. The foregoing quote makes it pretty obvious why Tillerson never fit into the cadre of Lying Donald Trump.

Donald demands what he describes as “loyalty” from his chosen underlings—by which he means day-long “Yes, Mr. President” and publicized supportive adulation of every detail of his being. He also wants all credit for anything of a positive nature and doesn’t hesitate in the least to throw the nearest scapegoat under the bus if one of his half-cocked proposals goes awry. Initiative will have you halfway out the door if you’re a While House staffer. I’m surprised Donald’s allowing his newest Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (confirmed by the Senate just five weeks ago, on April 26) any publicized involvement in current negotiations with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. 

Of course, Donald himself continues to strut before the camera with regard to the Korean  matter, with visions of the Nobel Peace Prize dancing in his head. Pompeo will serve well as just one more prominent Trump scapegoat if such is needed—as just the latest on a hired-fired list of more than 30 highly-placed individuals during Trump’s first 500 days in office.

See: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/16/us/politics/all-the-major-firings-and-resignations-in-trump-administration.html

Speaking about nuclear peace, attention certainly has been diverted from Trump’s stepping out of the nuclear agreement with Iran (forged basically by Obama and to some extent by Clinton). It’s sort of on the back burner along with Donald’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Accords on the environment. 

Donald keeps throwing mud at the wall to see what will stick to the  stucco—at the same time, diluting the capacity of  public attention in any given direction. So we have things like the Farm Bill, up for renewal. It includes the Food Stamp program (SNAP). Donald has said he will refuse to sign any version of the bill that does not require more work requirements for recipients. Factual reality means squat to him as he spews forth disdain for the poverty-ridden. 

Lord! It must be a demanding life living up there at the top of Trump Tower, strutting around the White House, golfing and dining at Mar-a-Lago. Governing in large part via Twitter. Closing business deals via the kids.

Nationally, 21% of children live in families with incomes below the poverty line.  About 4 of 10 children were born to unwed mothers; nearly two-thirds were born to mothers under the age of 30. Today, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18—total  of about 17.2 million—are being raised without a father. And still, Trump conservatives deny women control over reproductive choice with great vehemence, at every opportunity—then refuse to feed their children. 

April 12, 2018—“If Republicans in Congress have their way, millions of people who get food aid through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) will have to find a job or attend job training classes for about 20 hours each week, or lose their benefits.”

The legislation calls for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 59 to work or be enrolled in a job-training program for at least 20 hours a week beginning in fiscal year 2021. That minimum number of hours would jump to 25 hours per week starting in fiscal year 2026. (And just try getting a deferment because of bones spurs.)

Illustrative of the vacuous mind of Donald Trump and his sycophants is the fact that most able-bodied recipients of SNAP-program assistance who are able-bodied also already work—to whatever extent circumstances allow them.

I see problems immediately with this latest Trumpian vision of a world wallowing in the inequality that he champions.  Such as a mother with several young children being required to somehow ditch her kids for half of every single week day and find her way to the closest available job-training program (which might be 25 or more miles away). Chances are she’s already working part-time at minimum wage but still can’t make ends meet without SNAP assistance. “Those who violate the work requirements could become ineligible for SNAP benefits for a 12-month period. Subsequent violations could result in three years of lost benefits . . .”  Starve ‘em; that’ll show ‘em.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the proposed new work requirements would end up denying or reducing nutritional aid to around 2,000,000 people, mostly in families with children. The entire SNAP program helps 40,000,000 people.

The Trump-proposed program drew an overview recently by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, which stated in part: “Let me be up front here. There’s something fundamentally obscene about this spectacle. Here we have a man who inherited great wealth, then built a business career largely around duping the gullible—whether they were naive investors in his business ventures left holding the bag when those adventures went bankrupt, or students who wasted time and money on worthless degrees from Trump University. Yet he’s determined to snatch food from the mouths of the truly desperate, because he’s sure that somehow or other they’re getting away with something, having it too easy.”

Many conservatives besides Trump have the attitude that such things as Food Stamps make things too comfortable for the poor. It’s not that they envy that life, mind you. I feel it’s just the arrogance of those who judge their own importance as being superior to others in all ways possible. They rationalize that people are scamming the system, yet they work with and for Donald Trump. As Krugman opined, it’s not really about money, or racism. “This is about petty cruelty turned into a principle of government. It’s about privileged people who look at the less fortunate and don’t think, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ They see a bunch of losers. They don’t want to help the less fortunate; in fact they get angry at the very idea of public aid that makes those losers a bit less miserable.

“And these are the people now running America.”

SNAP (“food stamps”) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. Average monthly benefit for a family of 4 estimated for 2018 is $456 a month. That’s $5,572 a year. SNAP benefits at present gradually phase our as family earrings rise toward the nation’s income poverty line (currently $25,100 for a family 4). That is the work incentive that already exists in the program.  An example: for every additional dollar a SNAP recipient earns, her benefits decline  by something between 24 and 36 cents—as she struggles to make it up to the poverty line. But ‘Hey, guys! Let’s add $50- or $60,000,000,000 to this year’s defense budget.” It often seems we’re spending more and more to protect less and less of the American way of life.

Most SNAP recipients who can work do so. Work rates have continued to rise, especially among households with children, over recent decades. About two-thirds of SNAP recipients are not expected to work, primarily because they are children, elderly or disabled. Some 93% of government SNAP spending is for food. Caseloads and costs actually have been falling since Bush-administration recession and costs already are projected to fall further without GOP bullying.

The farm bill, dealing with such things as farmers’ subsidies among other things, is traditionally renewed every five years. The current deadline is in September, so it will play a role in this year’s mid-term elections.

Here’s a very informative web site: https://www.cbpp.org/research/policy-basics-the-supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

So tell me again how Donald Trump is “making American great again” by cutting taxes on the wealthy and cutting assistance to the unfortunate.

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