There is a brace of interesting articles in The Independent at the moment (since the Indy has gone online only, can you now say “in” The Independent?). Firstly, one article, titled “In the White House things are looking bad. This could be the beginning of the end for Trump”, includes:
Six weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, and that corrupt political bog we all used to scoff at has devolved into a muddy hellscape covered in smog so thick you couldn’t cut it with a knife. Instead of draining that swamp, the President has spent the past month and a bit needlessly bending over backwards to prove to us all just how great he is at wallowing within one.
Seriously, it seems like one of Trump’s minions tosses a little more dirt in the pit every day – and if Trump doesn’t start cracking the whip and cleaning house soon, this mess he’s creating for himself will inevitably send the guy packing long before we stumble into 2020.
Without wanting to sound prescient, this is exactly what I claimed straight after Trump’s election in an article titled “Drain the Swamp? He’ll Drown in It.” Let me remind you:
Trump has claimed he will “drain the swamp”, meaning that when he gets into power, he will get rid of the political elite in Washington, and freshen things up in an anti-establishment purge.
In some senses, that is refreshing, and perhaps not a bad ideal.
But in reality, it’s just another ridiculously unrealistic claim.
Trump is a sort of loner. He didn’t have universal Republican backing throughout his campaign, and he doesn’t have the largest of teams around him. In fact, right now, he will be scrabbling around in order to get some sort of cabinet ready to hit the ground. In office, he has both houses as Republican backers now. They are the key to him enacting his promises and ideas. He needs them. They are the key to his success….
My goodness, if he could get rid of lobbyists, then the world would be a better place. But I think this is just another nebulous soundbite of a claim that will never happen. Worse, I think the swamp as the political class, and those of influence around the White House and Washington at large, are just the sort of people Trump will be doing deals with. He loves doing deals. He has, in a contradictory fashion, claimed he has been one of the ones doing deals and paying money to get return favours in the past. This is the world Trump lives in. He has been one of the largest alligators in the swamp for years. And now we expect him to bite off the hand that fed him. Perhaps he will; perhaps it will be a case of “Well, I know it advantaged me, but let’s now get rid of it so that no other similar person can benefit”…
It seems Trump is all about contradictions. We have had three views on abortion in five days. We have had claims about illegal immigrants only to find out he employs as many as he can get his hands on, as well as marrying one. We have had claims of a free trade future alongside staunch nationalistic protectionism. And so on.
He says whatever he thinks people will want to hear at the time.
And this includes draining the swamp that will feed him. Feed him until, perhaps, he is so full that he sinks like a brick.
The point the Indy article goes on to make is that if the man who is the arbiter for morality and ethics in government (as Attorney General), Jeff Sessions, lies under oath, how much lower can you continue to go? It’s no real surprise, as Sessions is “a climate change sceptic who voted against banning torture and has allegedly missed out on jobs before in the past for making racist jokes and slagging off the NAACP.”
This Russian thing isn’t going away, and an investigation even has some bipartisan support. Indeed, there appears to be bipartisan support for Trump’s tax returns to be made public. And Trump himself has some four dozen lawsuits sitting against him. As the article finishes:
Every time it looks like things can’t get any worse for Donald Trump, he always manages to surprise us with another unconstitutional doozy. He’s really got quite a knack for it. But if Trump wants to stay in power for the next four years and keep his fragmented support base in one piece, he’d better start treading a bit more carefully.
After all, even Republicans can only handle so many lies before they start to lose patience – and a swamp can only get so muddy before nature decides to take its own course.
But I don’t want to end there. I could talk about the “Trump Slump”, which is the financial shot in the foot that the tourist industry has received from its own government due to the “Muslim ban” and general rhetoric that has put tourists off, around the world, from visiting. This is looking to cost his country a huge amount of money, with NYC already downgrading its original visitor number forecast by a staggering 300,000!
But I won’t. I want to talk about the environment.
Trump is doing what so many Republicans salivate over the prospect of doing, through his minion Scott Pruitt. Or the other way round: Scott Pruitt is doing it because Trump will sign anything off that comes from such people, and that sound particular pro-business and fossil fuel industry intentions. Who knows. But things are very worrying. It has ever been the case, in this insidious world of lobbying, that Republicans the country over laud and love big business and hate the environment. The environment is the last thing on the list of priorities, which is sad because we literally owe it our lives.
Trump is planning on cutting climate change funding by a whopping 70%. The irony here is that it looks like this is being done to fund a massive increase in military spending. Ridiculously enough, the US already spends more on the military than the next twelve countries. CNN has this chart:Trump has made his intentions to reverse Obama’s green legacy very open. In his new budget proposal, he seeks to:
- cut the environmental regulator’s overall budget by 25 per cent to $6.1 billion (£5bn).
- cut staffing by 20 per cent to 12,400.
- cut all staff at a research program, called Global Change Research, as well as 37 other programs.
- according to Reuters, cut grants that support American Indian tribes (30 percent to $45.8 million)
- cut energy efficiency initiatives.
- cut grants to states for lead cleanup 30 percent to $9.8 million
- cut EPA climate protection program (on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases like methane) 70 percent to $29 million.
- cut funding for the brownfields industrial site cleanup program by 42 percent to $14.7 million.
- cut funding for enforcing pollution laws by 11 percent to $153 million.
And so on. Indeed, Greenpeace spokesman Travis Nichols said: “As a candidate, Trump made a big deal out of EPA’s failure in Flint, but now he’s cutting 30 percent out of lead cleanup in his proposed budget. This is an example of his empty promises to do right by the American people.”
It came as the Trump administration forced the EPA to delete all of its pages on climate change last month.
The move came as part of a broader crackdown on postings by all agencies who track the effects of global warming on the environment.
All of those organisations – as well as others, like the National Parks Service – were banned from talking to the public by the US government.
Now scientists are scrambling to save some of the most important parts of the EPA’s website before they are deleted off the internet entirely.
“If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear,” one official told Reuters soon after the order to shut down the website was sent.
This is the sort of authoritarian approach that I hinted at the other day, and which should be cause for concern for people no matter what side of the fence they are on. Muzzling actual factual information in order to advance an ideological agenda. I know the Trump cabinet love Putin, but to want to emulate Soviet-style Communist authoritarianism? That’s a scary world.
This all genuinely terrifies me.