By Carlton Joseph
On February 2 last, I decided that I needed a reprieve from the political acrimony of my adopted home and to go to my birth home. Usually a visit to any Caribbean island for a few days would help me to decompress and recharge my batteries but this cycle was different. The new Trump administration was actually being overtly racist; his cabinet nominees were obviously chosen to destroy the agencies they were supposed to lead; he and the Republican Congress were determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deny millions of people insurance. I needed to go home for 14 days in order to recuperate.
Upon returning to the US, I was again bombarded with the incessant machinations of the Trump administration. Worst, the media was continuing to treat his tweets as a press conference. His latest tweet -“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump offered no evidence, but within 24 hours, he called on lawmakers to probe Obama’s actions.
On the radio program “Democracy Now,” Scott Horton, lecturer at Columbia Law School and a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine discussed Trump’s tweet concerning the wiretap. He indicated that in order to obtain that order, a judge had to review an application that justified it, and had to find that there was probable cause to issue the order. He went on to say that all of the judges of the FISA court are Republicans. In fact, they’re all selected by Chief Justice Roberts, and they’re all people very much like him. So for a FISA judge to have authorized this is quite something.
Why is this incompetent person allowed to use up so much of the media oxygen in the country? Yes, I said incompetent; anyone who files bankruptcy as much as he did is incompetent. Also, the banks refused to loan him money and some oligarchs from somewhere in the world now own him, and that is why he refuses to submit his tax returns. If an ordinary US citizen wanted to buy a house, he/she would have to submit two years tax returns plus a lot of other information. But the President of the country, who has filed bankruptcy many times, does not have to show anything. This is total nonsense. The courts should be used to force him to submit his tax returns.
But let’s get back to the machinations. Trump replaces his old ban on Muslims with a new one. The new ban would apply to people from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen but not from Iraq. The new executive order is not expected to apply to people from these countries with green cards or who already have a visa. But this does not allay the fears of many Muslims from places like Somalia, Ghana, and other African countries.
A recent report from the New York Times tells the story of scared Africans who had emerged on the Canadian side of the border, cold and hungry, after walking much of the night across frozen farm fields, sinking to their waists in snow and of the farmers who are “worried about what they’re going to find when the snow melts.” Have we forgotten that we have bombed the countries from which these people came, for the past 20 years, decimated their economies and totally disrupted their way of life? Worst, some of them have “cooperated with our US government” – another way of saying they committed treason against their own country, and now we deny them entry into the US.
More machinations. DHS is considering a proposal to separate mothers from their children if they are caught trying to cross the border together. Under the plan, mothers would be held in custody while children would initially be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Do not forget that under the Obama Administration, we approved the coup d’état of President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, and replaced him with our puppet. In addition, we continue to impose/support our puppets in Latin America. We have destroyed local Latin American economies in order that our multinational corporations could exploit these countries. Do we expect them to remain in their countries and starve to death?
More bad tidings from the Trump-dominated news media. The White House has informally offered to keep taxpayer dollars in place for Planned Parenthood – as long as the organization no longer provides abortions. Then this. According to a leaked copy of the EPA’s 2018 budget, the agency’s overall budget would be slashed by 25 per cent. Staffing would be reduced by 20 per cent or by 3000 jobs. The plan calls for the complete elimination of EPA programs on climate change, toxic waste cleanup, environmental justice, and funding for native Alaskan villages. It would slash state funding for clean air and water programs by 30 per cent. Is this how we make America Great Again? Poison our water supply, pollute the air, and put people out of work.
I am ready to head back to the Caribbean so that I could get away from this madness. I am more reflective and really beginning to appreciate that although we have many problems in the Caribbean and that the crime rate in Trinbago is out of control, I am thankful that I have a place where I can go to reenergize myself.
This is the Trump and Republican America, the America that committed genocide against the native population, stole, bought and sold men and women into slavery, welcomed European poor and destitute masses to create what we now call the United States. They seem to be on track in reinstating the old order.
I am now able to say without reservation that Trinbagonians are the luckiest people in the world. Lucky, because no matter where we decide to live we always have “home,” a place where we can escape the hustle and bustle, the acrimony of rival political and economic philosophies, the true impact of racial and religious bigotry, a place to recharge our energies and put things in their proper perspective. A place where the road march for carnival was:
“The treasury could bun down, we jamming still
The economy could fall down, we jamming still”
Yes, a place where even a call from the President of the US to our Prime Minister, concerning Trinbago citizens joining ISIS, made no difference to our normal activities and especially the activity of carnival.
(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph who lives in Washington D.C., is a close observer of political developments in the United States. He recently visited Trinidad.)