My next newspaper column:
Some thoughts on Robert Mueller’s report, about which we hear much but know little:
Specified in Attorney General Barr’s four-page summary was that it did not exonerate Trump. Trump, being Trump, lied that it did. Republicans picked up the ball and are running with it.
Barr wrote, Mueller “did not establish” collusion, which is different from saying he established there was none. It’s consistent, though, with Mr. Mueller gathering facts for presentation to Congress, leaving conclusions to them, rather than to an A. G. who trolled for the post with unsolicited opinions on obstruction.
In that job application, Barr ruled out prosecuting Trump for obstruction, long before the final report, and despite agreeing, during his confirmation hearing, that actions similar to Trump’s constitute obstruction.
Following Special Prosecutors’ reports on Nixon and Clinton, their Attorneys General deferred to Congress. Barr, though, did what he was selected to do: the opposite. More so if he censors the report. Either it contains material that’s more damning than he implied, or the deals Mueller granted were for what, nothing? Why, for example, lie about the Trump Tower meeting?
Barr wrote that Mueller found both-sided evidence but chose not to opine about obstruction. Trump’s end-zone dance may or may not be on the five-yard-line. If the report does provide total vindication, you’d think he’d want its full disclosure, immediately. (Reportedly, he required a summary of the summary. Read to him.) Let’s see if he orders its release. If not, we’ll understand there’s plenty he wants to remain hidden.
Spiking the ball, Trump named people he’d ban from media, calling them “evil” and “treasonous.” (Amusingly, he also announced plans to force speakers on colleges.) As certain as his next lie, we’ll see more vindictiveness from Trump and his cheerleaders.
So, celebrating the possibility that the “president” might not be a criminal or have colluded with them, we return to our regular programming, beginning with updating Trump’s torrential lies and promises he’s broken like the eggshells on which we’ve all been walking.
At every campaign rally, Trump vowed to end budget and trade deficits. Last month saw the highest of each, ever, all-time. Strangely, his supporters are silent. Also: he just resumed trying to extinguish Obamacare, without creating a promised, beautiful replacement.
Though his latest budget proposal has zero chance of becoming law, it underscores Trump’s dishonesty, including reneging on pledges to protect Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Throughout his campaign, to full-throated hosannas, he vowed not to cut any of them. His 2020 budget does exactly that, well beyond a trillion dollars’ worth. Again, silence.
Giving the Pentagon more than requested, Trump’s proposal makes huge reductions to education, research, and student loan funding. It cuts the EPA drastically, removes $200 billion from SNAP and $20 billion from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Trump extends a hand of riches to his corporate sponsors, withdrawing a helping hand from Americans in need. It’s shameful dereliction of a “president’s” duty to protect all citizens, present and future. Intentionally, it exacerbates sequestration of wealth in the hands of a few. His few. For our capitalist republic to survive, such imbalance is unsustainable.
More unsustainability: projections of future budget shortfalls show trillion-dollar deficits lined up like boxcars on a coal train, far as the eye can see; and significantly lower growth than Trump asserts. It’s timely to recall his promise to balance budgets and eliminate the national debt in eight years. No rational person believed it, but his supporters did; now they pretend otherwise.
Speaking of coal, Trump’s administration just admitted production has declined during his term, and will continue to do so. Bringing it back was one of his most ridiculous lies, swallowed only by the sort that attend his rallies. Happily, despite his efforts to stop it, energy from renewables rose by thirty-percent in the last two years. Trumpic cravenness toward the fossil fuel industry hasn’t hidden reality from forward-thinking entrepreneurs, as opposed to his credulous abettors. Maybe there’s still a chance, however small, to mitigate anthropogenic climate change.
Finally, to those communicative conservatives who concluded my previous column called them all white supremacists: it didn’t. Serendipitously, this week a study reported that counties in which Trump held rallies experienced a 226% increase in hate crimes. That’s Trumpism. I implored decent Republicans to acknowledge it, reject it, and reclaim their party. Perhaps that could still happen, too.[Image source]