Monday, March 20, 2017

#SOL17: Fascism

from my art journal


The other day I was listening to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, rationalize Trump's budget blueprint. The blueprint represents about a third of federal spending (discretionary spending). I had already read about the budget, but I was interested in learning more. As I listened, I noticed that there's a certain swagger, hubris, and condescending attitude that Mulvaney wraps about himself when he speaks. He is not unlike many of Trump's inner circle (i.e., Bannon, Conway, Spicer) who take condescension to a higher art whenever they get in front of a camera and a mike. Given Trump's swagger this is not too surprising and in this regard, Mulvaney did not disappoint.


At a press conference, Mulvaney when asked about defunding the Public Broadcasting Corporation  and other arts-based entities, said this:

The message the president sent right now is, 'We want to defund those' for completely defensible reasons....It's a simple message by the way. I put myself in the shoes of that steel worker in Ohio, the coal miner, the coal mining family in West Virginia, the mother of two in Detroit and I'm ok, I have to go ask these folks for money and tell them where I'm going to spend it. Can I rally go to those folks, look them in the eye, say look, I want to take money from you and I want to give it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That is a really hard sale. And in fact something we don't think we can defend anymore.

There's irony here given the speaker of these words. Mulvaney, you might remember, is the guy who failed to pay $15,000 in payroll taxes for a household employee.  He hardly rubs elbows with the 'character types' he mentioned, let alone would know how to step into their shoes. But the poor are convenient props.


It's irksome when people so distant from the folks mentioned--blue collar workers and single moms--use them to rationalize budget decisions. Unlike Mulvaney, I am a single mom. I'm a single mom who under Trump's tax plans will see an increase in my tax bill. 

Unlike Mulvaeny from South Carolina, I live in a state that pays the 6th highest total amount of taxes to the federal government ($153,917,572 in 2015). Of the top 10 states that provided $1.9 trillion of the $3.2 trillion 2015 federal budget--almost 2/3 of the funds for that budget came from states (7 out of 10) where Clinton, not Trump was the winner. Yet, interests from the majority of those voters who contribute the greatest amount to the federal government are not represented by this president or his advisors. 


Given our president's penchant for lying, I do not believe him when he says our military is depleted. How can it be depleted given the funding it receives?  For example, in FY 2015, the US had "a declared military and defense budget of $601 billion, which is more than the next 7 highest spending countries combined" (from here). Business Insider states, "The US military is unquestionably the dominant force on the planet." Doesn't seem too shabby.

What about our tax dollars that are proposed by Trump to finance his foolish southern wall? All his bravado about Mexico paying for the wall was bluster and lies. According to the New York Times, "The proposal, which includes a $2 billion down payment on Mr. Trump’s signature border wall, is one of the single largest investments in the president’s budget plan." 


Apparently Mulvaney and crew have no difficulty asking the steel worker, coal mining family, and women like me to shell over hard earned money for a $54 billion increase in military spending and billions on a wall we don't need and will do nothing to correct issues regarding immigration. After that ridiculous wall is built, people wanting to stay in America illegally will do as they do now: They'll fly in and overstay their Visas.

What price are we paying for these poor decisions? Trump's proposed budget guts the EPA, foreign aid, diplomacy, community development block grant, 20 programs in Education (including feeding poor kids), specifically calls for the elimination of climate change research, and more. Every federal department except the military, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs will see massive deductions.

Make American great again? Hardly. What's behind this emphasis on might?


Nationalism is foundational for fascism. White nationalists currently occupying the White House, have a tendency to reference God being on their side, the need for dominant military power, and the unity of the country. In the early 1930s when the Nazis came to power--a fascist regime, Hitler promised to re-arm Germany and make it a military power. He told the people, "Providence shows no mercy to weak nations, but recognizes the right of existence-only of sound and strong nations…" 

At the inauguration in January, Trump told us, "We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we will be protected by God." 

And the God Trump references is a Christian God.  As Trump told a crowd of his followers, "...we're Christians. I'm Protestant. I'm Presbyterian..."I'm a true believer. And you're many true believers — I hope all — is everybody a true believer in this room? I think so. But Christianity is under tremendous siege" (from here).  

In February, when Trump was speaking to conservatives, he told the assembled, "We will rebuild our military...We're also put...a massive budget request for our beloved military... Nobody will dare question our military might again..." (from here). 

I wonder if the good people living in Germany imagined that such horror that accompanies fascist states could not possibly be their future? I wonder if they turned a blind eye to the systematic build up that led to genocide?

Will we turn our heads too?  Are we?



  1. Mulvaney, who has long been associated the Heritage Foundation (I believe), is all about tearing down the budget *except for bombs and war. It's a disgrace on so many levels, leaving so many struggling families on the lurch while the Wall Street fat cats, and friends of Trump, sit in DC, wielding power. Are things moving towards Fascism? I don't really know. I don't think so, but I know the world turns slow and then suddenly, there's the cliff ahead of us, and the world tumbles.


    - Kevin

  2. Mary Ann,
    This is a powerful post. I appreciate your thoughtful concerns. You have certainly been thinking and studying about these issues, as becomes clear when you read your post. I am in your camp, to be sure. I'm sickened and saddened about the lack of compassion in this budget. I read this opinion article recently about the cruelest cuts in the budget.

    I'm concerned about what's happening in our country, and I pray for a swift return to sanity. Our country can't get much

    Take care,

  3. I am not a fan of the current administration's budget and I firmly believe it will not pass. The military does need upgrading but not that much money. The coal miner Mulvaney refers to has children who benefit from the CPB through programs such as Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow. They clearly have an agenda and will do what is needed to stick to it. Keep voicing your opinion, stay informed and vote.

  4. Thank you. Thank YOU. THANK YOU!
    Thank you for writing about what is happening in our America, and the fears you have about our future. It is only in speaking up, speaking out, out that our voices will be heard. Resist. Indivisible. maribeth batcho

  5. I wrote about Mulvaney in a post on RALH the other day. I was disgusted by the "compassionate" cuts he talked about. I thought I'd calmed down about it until I saw him on "Meet the Press" yesterday. More of the same.

    We have to keep writing and talking about this. We cannot be complacent. Not now. Not ever.

  6. Watching parts of today's FBI/NSA hearings was traumatizing, too - what the hell have we gotten ourselves into, and how do we fight our way out?

  7. This whole scene is terrifying....truly terrifying. I and many others have been more politically active in the last few months. We must keep on and resist. Thank you for this well thought out piece.

  8. I am with you, Mary Ann, am amazed daily at the lies put forth as truth, like Mulvaney implying that those people he is caring for would gladly not have to pay for things like PBS and the NEA, when that part of the budget is a trickle compared to the proposal for the "wall" and the military. What is of great concern to me is the slashing of the veteran personnel in the departments of the government. It's as if he doesn't want anyone to know what they're doing, until he tells them! I depend on quotes to keep me going in addition to all the mail and phone calls. This is one I had my class discuss every year, talking about our and others' history, about questioning always, not accepting a rule just because it was there.

    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
    This was first written by Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its Reply to the Governor (11 Nov. 1755)



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