Politics Opinion

Donald Trump the least of USA's problems

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The USA is facing a number of crises including a growing number of homeless citizens and no end to school shootings (Image by Dan Jensen)

While much media focus is on Donald Trump's indictment, there are still many social, economic and environmental problems sending the USA on a downward spiral, writes Sue Arnold.

FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury on more than 30 counts related to business fraud. Even though the indictment remained sealed until the arraignment on Tuesday, mainstream media in the U.S. went over the top with opinionated Republicans defending Trump, including former Vice-President Mike Pence’s expressions of disgust over Trump’s “victimisation”.

“It’s political payback, the far-Left Democrats are responsible for this witch hunt”, is repeated in many Right-wing news media. No one mentions this was a decision by a grand jury based on considerable evidence of significant criminal breaches of legislation.

The lack of information on the indictment charges didn’t create any barriers to the U.S. mainstream media’s reportage. Australian media followed suit with most news on the Trump indictment focused on charges over hush money to former porn star Stormy Daniels. Yet a quick check of reputable U.S. media articles indicates business fraud is the focus of charges.

No doubt all the crazies will climb out of their dark holes urging riots. The massive divisions in the nation will continue attempts to bring down democracy as a vicious minority campaigns for a career criminal to become president once again. 

Trump raised US$4 million (AU$5.9 million) within 24 hours of his indictment. He will continue to campaign for the presidency in 2024.

Under U.S. legislation, being indicted or arraigned for a crime is no barrier to standing for election, or serving. 

It was no wonder most Americans agree on one thing — we’re living in crazy times.

A brief trip to the west coast in these unpredictable times was an extraordinary experience for someone who has spent almost half their life in the USA.

When overseas travel opened up last year, I flew to San Francisco in July to spend a couple of weeks with my American family. The most obvious problem was the major crowds in cafes, malls and airports with no masks and no social distancing, with COVID-19 continuing to rage.

Major changes in the social order of any country take unpredictable times to make their presence known. This trip made those changes very obvious. The legacy of former President Donald Trump and his far-Right mates has wreaked havoc in the nation.

Not only is the U.S. a nation divided, but increasingly a land for the rich and the poor with no middle class.

In San Francisco, according to a social worker whose job requires him to be on the streets with his clients, there are over 7,000 homeless people in the city alone with 300 shelter beds available.  

He said the average age group was between 30-40 and that approximately 50% had drug problems with the remaining group impacted by economic problems including inability to pay exorbitant rents. 

According to the social worker, much the same situation with equally large numbers exists up and down the west coast. Given this winter has been a weather nightmare with bitterly cold freezing winds, rain, ice, snow and floods, being homeless is no joke.

Along many suburban streets in Palo Alto, an upmarket district of the city, entire blocks are taken up with caravans, buses, vans, trucks and cars being used as homes. A teacher in a school facing one of the crowded blocks said that she and the children were concerned by the number of homeless people living across the street in their shelters.

She said:

“The children have to walk back and forth to school negotiating their way between the caravans and other vehicles being used. Some are frightened. I have nothing against homeless people, but the taking over of suburban blocks isn’t the solution.”

Unfortunately, no one seems to know the solution. Homeless numbers keep growing and most NGOs have stopped providing tents (probably because of the impossible demand). Low-cost housing isn’t on the agenda in any major political platform. 

To add to the general misery, one of Trump’s federally appointed judges is currently considering his decision as to whether to ban the sale of abortion medication presently available in pharmacies.  

The lawsuit filed by “judge shopping” anti-abortionists in Texas challenges the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of medicine to terminate a pregnancy. According to the U.S. media, the judge has been asked to halt access to one drug nationwide, creating a precedent for similar drugs.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who presides over the challenge, has an appalling record.    

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights detailed the judge’s disapproval of LGBT people, opposition to marriage equality and his high-profile opposition to reproductive freedom.

If Judge Kacsmaryk rules in favour of the anti-abortion plaintiffs, an appeal to the Supreme Court is unlikely to succeed given the decision in the Roe v Wade case overturned the constitutional right to abortion, eliminating federal standards on abortion access established by earlier decisions.

In effect, a ruling in favour of the plaintiffs will make any form of abortion illegal. The U.S. will have turned reproductive rights back to the Dark Ages.

Walgreens, the second largest pharmacy chain, confirmed in advance of any decision in Texas that it would not dispense abortion pills in several states where they remain legal. 

According to Politico:

‘Nearly two dozen Republican state attorneys general wrote to Walgreens in February, threatening legal action if the company began distributing the drugs, which have become the nation’s most popular method for ending a pregnancy.’

Another school shooting killing three children and three adults in Nashville has produced the usual “prayers for the families”, hundreds of flowers and toys outside the school and no response from the Republican Governor or Republican-dominated Congress about gun control.

On a more mundane aspect, going shopping is another experience.

Visits to Walgreens or CVS pharmacies are missions. Taking a backpack with plenty of water and food for energy is helpful as the only staff is likely to be one person at the cash register.

These are huge premises with endless aisles and overwhelming amounts of products. Despite notices about locations of specific issues such as “colds and flu”, the likelihood of finding the product is dismal.

Many shops are closed. Others have signs indicating “staff wanted”. It’s impossible to ascertain why there’s an obvious shortage of staff and at the same time, a desperate need for jobs. A lack of affordable accommodation is likely to be the main problem.

Inflation is impossible to ignore. Prices of many food and household items have doubled. Eating out is an expensive exercise.

Environmentally, climate change is wreaking more disasters. The California grey whale population has dropped by 40%, an astonishing collapse. Skinny whales are now commonplace and many have died of starvation.

The lack of ice in the Arctic Ocean has ensured a significant lack of detritus which feeds the marine trophic layers, providing food for marine creatures including the grey whales. An ominous sign of further species’ mortalities.

At San Francisco’s Marine Mammal Centre, approximately 25% of female seals brought into the rescue facility have bladder cancer caused by run-off of DDT and PCBs.

With the national focus now on Trump as Americans wait for potential indictments in Georgia and Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed to investigate Trump’s efforts to hold onto power and his withholding of classified documents, the many problems facing the nation are likely to sink into the background.

On the plus side, if further indictments are made, President Joe Biden is certain to have a dream run back to a second term in the White House. And Trump will finally be brought to account.

But at what cost?

Sue Arnold is an IA columnist and freelance investigative journalist. You can follow Sue on Twitter @koalacrisis.

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