Essay: “A View from Across the Pond” by Claudia White

Claudia White

A View from Across the Pond

Donald Trump’s first year in office as seen by an American living in Ireland.



Donald Trump will be the President of the United States in less than three weeks. This horrifies and scares me but mostly makes me sad. I make jokes about him dying in bed but then my daughter says, “Pence is worse. His idea is ‘pray away the gay.'” Not a comforting thought when many of your closest relatives are gay as mine are. Or if you believe in human rights as I do.

What will he do to peace in the world or American healthcare? I live in Ireland but am an American citizen. Will Trump’s presidency impact my Oregon pension or my social security? But mostly how will the world change? I am a left-leaning liberal who shares none of his ideas or ideals. For the next year, I am going to keep a journal of how Trump’s presidency effects me, my friends and realtives and the rest of the world. Maybe I will be surprised and the world will improve. At this point, I am not hopeful of this as an outcome.

Here in Ireland the concerns are the J1 Visa, undocumented Irish people living in the US being deported and what might happen to Palestain.

The biggest question in my mind is how did the US go from the hope of Obama to the fear mongering of Trump?



As I clean up after the Christmas season, I am rereading the cards and letters I received. From one friend: “I’m in a funk right now. I think our poor country is lost. We’re about to have a horrible, deceitful, completely unqualified jerk at the helm, who is surrounding himself with other equally unqualified and evil jerks.” As much as I agree with these sentiments, and I do, it doesn’t make me feel any better about what is going to happen next.

Nor does Trump’s reaction to the Russian interference with the election. To not believe the US intelligence community and to think Putin is an honorable person does not seem like a good beginning but just more trouble ahead for all of us.



At the Golden Globes last night, Meryl Streep made an anti-Trump speech citing, in part, his making fun of a disabled reporter. Trump tweeted that she was an “over rated Hollywood actress” and that he had never made fun of a disabled person. Of course, the newscast, from Scotland, had shown Trump doing just that at a rally.



Last night President Obama gave a farewell address. It was very inspiring and, near the end, emotional as he talked about Michelle and their daughters. One suggestion he made: “If you are dissatisfied with your elected officials, get a clipboard, gather signatures and run for election yourself.” A lot of the speech was “get out there and make a difference.”

Now it is Trump’s turn for a news conference. His first order of business was to disparage CNN and the intelligence community. Now he is taking credit for Ford “not building in another country” and disparaging the pharmacy industry and Boeing. This is his first news conference since July and he is bragging about his “accomplishments” and how wonderful the inauguration is going to be. And, “We are going to straighten out the VA for our veterans,” according to Trump.

Trump denies the reports about compromising intelligence. “It is fake news. Should never have been released.” But he also says “I think Russia is behind elections hack.” “It’s an asset if Putin likes me.” And, he is still saying how bad Hillary is as if he is still running against her instead of being the President-elect.

From Trump tweets: “I have no dealings with Russia in business; no loans, no pending deals with Russia.”


“No conflict of interest as President” because under the law the President can not have a conflict of interest.



There is a tattoo shop near where I live. Since November there has been a flyer on the door: “No Trump Supporters Welcome Here. Black-Latino Obama look-alike works here.” Every time I see it I am bothered. On the one hand, I firmly believe in the freedom of speech for everyone. On the other hand, I do think the flyer only spreads the hate. So far, my faith in freedom of speech has won out over the temptation to go in and say something about the flyer.



Congressman John Lewis, and others, are boycotting the inauguration on Friday. Trump tweeted Lewis was “all talk and no action.” Someone needs to shut down Trump’s tweeter account! Does that go against what I said last night about freedom of speech? Probably!

My friend Michael is convinced that the business outlook will get better for a short time when Trump is president. Michael called the election correctly so I am not going to question his conclusions.



CNN reporter: Internationally and domestically Trump is the “great disrupter.” That was okay when he was a candidate but disconcerting when he is President-elect. He says he “won’t be beholden to the one China policy,” that he doesn’t see the need for NATO, that Nigel Fergle should be UK ambassador to US.



Today, on PBS America, I watched a program on the Freedom Riders. John Lewis was a very courageous young man who lived his values and beliefs despite the violence rained down on the riders.



Watching the inauguration. Words of Trump’s speech are okay: the power belongs to you the people. If only his cabinet reflected the words. A man who talked about dismantling the Department of Energy appointed as head of DOE. A woman who believes in schools for the elite as head of the Department of Education. Billionaires who have sent jobs out of the country as Trump talks about jobs for Americans in America. Before he began speaking, he looked bored, even yawning.



Tonight I received emails from my daughter and from a friend who were going to participate in today’s Women’s Marches. The news said five hundred thousand women showed up in DC. From my friend’s email: The paper this morning announced that there will be a women’s march here in KF tomorrow—even though folks from here are attending the marches in Portland and Ashland. I am not a big fan of organized protests, but may attend this one since I have fears for our rights under the new administration.

Another friend wrote: We watched the Presidential Inauguration yesterday. I think, I hope, I pray that the change will be good for the country. The riots in DC, San Francisco, LA, and Seattle are disgusting. Peaceful protesting is one thing but destroying businesses and property is just vandalism, not protesting anything.

I would think of both these friends as Republicans and the second one as a Trump voter. On the other hand, my daughter is a true liberal. Her email: “On my way to the SF Women’s March and have been meaning to drop a line to you as ive been sharing w/others memories of you walking and campaigning for candidates you believed in back in the day. I feel very strongly compelled to be at this march & volunteered for it even (i will be a greeter & also help at the ‘mobility trolley’ during the march). Im pretty excited abt the momentum this has taken around the world! Is there a march in your area? Are you participating? Nicole is going to one in Ashland!! Im impressed there is one even in Iraq!! I even participated in a group that made ‘pink pussyhats’ for the march!!! One of my neighbors organized it and i think we sent around 14-15 hats to the Sacramento march!!”

Nicole is my granddaughter. I am proud that another generation is involved and concerned. It is a legacy from my dad that I am happy has been passed down through four generations.



ITV led off their 10 o’clock newscast with the story of Trump and the “alternative facts.” This may be because Teresa May is going to the White House on Friday so it is a British story as well as an American one. The third story is about Trump’s first three days. The conclusion is that Trump is not trying to unite anyone with the speeches he has made.

There are a lot of photos on Facebook of the Women’s March. The protest took place all over the country and my niece and her oldest son as well as my sister participated in Portland. My friend in Klamath Falls said at least three hundred marched there. That is a lot for a number of reasons not the least that Kfalls is a fairly conservative area and that it has been snowing for weeks.



Today’s press conference with Trump’s press secretary seemed to go very well and everyone was civil. There were even hints of humor. The most promising thing yet about this new era.



The new civility didn’t last very long. Trump, through his press secretary, today was still maintaining there was massive illegal voting and that is why he lost the popular vote. Trump is the most whinny winner I have ever come across and I was involved with Little League and Babe Ruth baseball for twelve years.

China has now jumped into the fray with an interview on NBC Nightly News saying, in effect, the disputed islands are not for the US to decide ownership but between China and its neighbors to settle. And, there is one China―China and Twain are not separate entities but one country.

The dismantling of Affordable Health Care goes on. The Dakota pipe line is back on the table.

Israel announced “we will continue to build.”



France24, a news channel in English, tonight has spent about a half hour on Trump and his spending proposals. “Is Trump really a Republican” was the lead. Big spending on infrastructure is not a Republican ideal.

The Irish Independent has an opinion piece by Patrick Geoghegan headlined “America First.” The headline is a throwback to disastrous periods of US history and goes on to discuss the presidency of Harding and the America first views of Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh was a hero when he flew solo across the Atlantic and a tragic figure when his baby was kidnapped and fell from grace when he spoke for America First in 1940 and attacked Jews.



Mexican President canceled a meeting with Trump because Trump keeps saying that Mexico will pay for the border wall he intends to build. Mexico is an important trading partner with the US. Now, maybe, there will be an import tax on items coming from Mexico―which means American consumers will pay for the wall.

The DOW average reached twenty thousand, the highest level ever. “The rich get richer” as usual.

How much of Trump’s promises of a wall and infrastructure fixing is because he is a contractor and real estate mongol and his sons are now running the Trump empire? How much of the government money will go to Trump enterprises?



Trump has banned travel to the US for people from seven countries that could effect over one hundred thousand people including tourists and students. America was “founded” by immigrants. Too bad the Native Americans did not have an immigration policy in 1600. The statue of Liberty must be crying Sometimes it is just too hard to take in every thing that is happening.



Today on Meet the Press Tom Friedman said: “Some things are true even if President Trump believes them.” But every day it gets harder to think Donald Trump has any redeeming qualities. Also on Meet the Press, there was a discussion of the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that managed not to mention Jews. I agree that more than Jews were killed by the Nazis but at least six million of the twelve million killed were Jewish. It doesn’t seem right not to at least mention them.

Nicole posted a list on Facebook of all the defunding Trump has ordered and the departments that have been told not to talk to the media or use social networks.



At the Leisure Centre this morning the talk was of the travel ban and the shooting in Canada. At the Dungeon, the used bookstore where I volunteer, the talk was of the travel ban and just how bad and scary Trump is. Then I was watching Sky News and a radio talk show host from the US was talking about how Trump is doing the right things and how the country loves him and how bad the media is. (Of course, he is part of the media but that did not seem to occur to him.) According to other news sources, the Dow Jones average is slipping fast today as investors react to the travel ban. That will impact the addition of jobs to the American economy. And, will people who are not banned decide to boycott the US and impact the tourist industry? So many questions, so few answers.



Unintended consequences: As the travel ban into the US takes effect does it not only add more reasons for Muslims to join ISIS? Will forcing companies to manufacture in the US mean higher prices on cars, clothes, electronics? Will keeping out migrants from Mexico, Central and South America raise the price of produce and hotel rooms as “cheap labor” disappears?

Eight days in Trump’s disapproval rating is 51%. Usually it takes a couple of years for a new President to drop below 50% approval.

The travel ban has caught up people who have US issued green cards or have been vetted for two years such as the Iraqi translator who put his life on the line for America and American troops.



Today there was a coffee morning for the Friends of the Children of Chernobyl at the golf course. As has happened continually since last summer, I was asked, “What do you think of Trump?” Most of those asking are horrified by the President, his actions and how he says what he says. I have heard more people comparing him to Hitler—first you pick on a religious group, then you take on the media.

A US military raid went terribly wrong in Yemen and civilians were killed and one American soldier. Presidential press secretary said it was a very successful mission.

Maybe Trump will follow Romania’s example and reduce the punishments for corruption.

From the book Guilt by Association by Susan Sloan that I am currently reading:

“… understanding clearly that the qualities one needed to be elected President of the United States had nothing to do with the qualities one needed to run the government.”

The book was copyrighted in 1994. Too bad more voters didn’t take it to heart in 2016.



Consumer protections are on the way out; Affordable Health Care is being dismantled; the environment is being drilled, torn up, and spoiled—two weeks of President Trump and America will never look the same again.



Today I took the train to Dublin to see the play Pillowman. No one talked about Trump either before the play or during the interval. Then, on the train home, I heard a joke—Pence: “My Fuhrer.” Trump: “Don’t call me that, yet.” Later there were about five people in a discussion of Trump’s impact on the US and on the world.



This summer Norwegian Airlines was going to begin flying from Cork to Boston.

Now the news here is reporting that the permit will be rescinded by the Trump administration because Norwegian is not an American company. Norwegian was going to offer lower costs flights that would probably have led to a price war. Another area where “America First” will mean higher prices for Americans and effect the world.

I would like to make this more positive but every day there seems to be another outrageous law or tweet. Tonight’s tweet: “All negative polls are fake news.”



Am I just adding to the discord by writing this? The US is so divided. It is almost impossible to have a civil conversation. At Berkeley, students protested, including setting fires, an invited speaker. Does not freedom of speech mean all speech? I do not like what Trump says or how he says it but I would not stop him even if I could. Why must everyone do a monologue instead of people engaging in dialogue? People in public and private talk over each other and at each other. No one listens.



Trump and Russia—real news or fake news? Russia hacked Clinton. Snowden to be returned to US as a present from Putin to Trump. It is sounding more and more like a soap opera instead of an American administration running the country and showing the world how democracy works.



A hard line on immigration and the undocumented is playing well with the Republican right but not the majority of the US Obama deported more undocumented people than any President in history but the ones he deported were criminals. His agenda included deporting criminals and giving a path to citizenship to other immigrants. The second part did not happen. The Republicans’ agenda was “no” to anything Obama proposed.

Trump is allowing Norwegian Airline to keep permit so low cost (maybe as low as sixty-nine euros one way) flights from Cork to Boston might begin this summer.



Trump’s security adviser, Flynn, may have contacted the Russians about sanctions last December. This is illegal contact. Then he lied to Vice President Pence about the conversation. Does no one learn that it isn’t the event, it’s the cover up and lying that follow that hurts the person, the company, the administration? And, is this the point where Trump says “You’re fired!”?



“Happy Valentine’s Day—you’re fired.” Michael Flynn is out. Who will be next?

Letters arrived today from friends in Oregon and in California. From Oregon: “What will happen when all the folks who voted for him start to realize that they are paying higher prices at Wal Mart because of his duties on imports from Mexico and China? Or when the small businesses, farms, and hotels and restaurants don’t have all the low wage immigrants to hire anymore?” And, from California: “Pray for us to survive Trump world.” I do not think I have lived through a time when Americans were so violently divided. Will the country recover? Will the world?



“U.S. Tech Firms Hit the Pause Button on Hiring Here” was a headline in the business section of the Irish Independent today. Trump’s talk of taxes and other penalties for US firms working out of the US has caused a slow down in employment in Ireland by these firms. More unintended consequences or deliberate policy? There is so much rhetoric coming from the White House, in news conferences and on twitter, that it is hard to know.

Netanyahu is in Washington, DC, and this time he had a joint news conference with the President. On his last visit, he avoided Obama and spoke directly to the Congress. After the news conference with Trump he may wish he’d done that again. He defended Israeli policy (although I think it is indefensible) only to have Trump say he’d like the settlements put on hold and might support a two state solution.

And, the man who was nominated for Secretary of Labor has pulled out before going before the Senate committee for confirmation.

If this was a movie, you wouldn’t believe it.



Trump had a news conference today. Again he whined about winning. He is the poorest winner ever—still saying how he beat Hillary, had the largest number of elector votes since Reagan which is untrue since every President since Reagan has had more than Trump. He complained about leaks and the news medias have shown him campaigning saying how great Wikileaks is. From reports on NBC Nightly News, Trump’s base loved the news conference.

Today’s “Day without Immigrants” protest seem to have been a success. All immigrants were encourage to stay home rather than go to work or school. One teacher reported only seven of twenty-six children in her classroom today.



A friend, Ruth, dropped by today. We were talking about Trump and yesterday’s news conference. Although Ruth felt like I do that it was a confused rant she thought he made a point when he said Flynn did not do anything wrong. I said he did. He talked to Russia about the US lifting sanctions when Trump was President-elect not President. As far as I know, this is illegal. No one outside the government can negotiate with a foreign power on such issues. By just showing the news conference without any fact checking, Trump can tell the same lies until people believe him. Misquoting Goebbels: “The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed.”

Trump is now twenty-nine days into his presidency and is campaigning in the South instead of working in the White House. Maybe for him too 2020 can’t come fast enough.



Trump is ranting again. This time he’s at a rally in Florida. “We are going to do a great job for our veterans.” “We love the police.” “We are going to build safety zones in Syria paid for by the Arabs.” And, he’s taken after CNN again saying they won’t show the crowd. CNN is showing the crowd. And, he goes on and on about how he won the votes of police, women, blacks. Is he delusional or just a liar?



From Janet Daley’s column in this morning’s Irish Independent: (about the Trump news conference last Wednesday) “As we saw – those of us who watched goggle eyed through the entire 75-minute performance-the second press conference was almost beyond belief. It was certainly the most shocking public display of unhinged, out-of-control, buffoonish aggression by a US president in living memory.” So that is at least one view from this side of the pond.

Today is President’s Day (a holiday combing Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays) in the US. Protesters held “not my President” rallies and marches. I sympathize. I’d probably even be taking part if I lived in the US. And yet, and yet, Trump is the elected President. Is the US going to become a country that overthrows a leader?



There was a poem after WWII by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “First they came for the Communists,  / but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. / Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, / but I was neither, so I did not speak out. / Then they came for the Jews,  / but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. / And when they came for me,  / there was no one left to speak out for me.”

First Trump went after Muslims, then immigrants, and now transgender children. Where will it stop? Will it stop?



I was raised by a liberal father and have always “leaned left” but as I hear from friends that I went to elementary school with I find that most are also liberals. We are now in our mid-seventies, various religions, white and women and all of us are worried about how the world is going. We worry about the future for our children and grandchildren whether it is about health care or the environment.

Today CNN, BBC, and The New York Times were banned from the White House press briefing. So much for the first amendment. Maybe someone (Vice President Pence?) will invoke the twenty-fifth amendment.



The longer I write this the harder it gets to write. Today Trump said he’ll skip the Annual Press Dinner. This is another break with tradition but Trump calls the press the opposition so why would he attend? On the other hand, can he not be a “good sport” about anything? He is governing by Twitter and not “way to go” but “bad” is most often used. If he was not President of the United States of America, he’d be a joke. But he is President and that should be a serious job.



Leaks about leaks―Spicer, press secretary, is checking the phones, business and personal, of his staff to see if anyone is leaking inside information to the press. He said “don’t tell” and so that was the lead story today. Trump calls the press “the enemy of the people.” Others call for a special prosecutor to follow up on the Russian hacking and connections to Trump family and appointees. Less than forty days in office and the mess gets messier. Is anyone governing?



Just when I thought there would be nothing to write about today, CNN had a story on Trump saying “health care—who knew it would be this complicated?” The answer, of course, is every American over the age of ten.



Montecatini, Italy: No TV in English. New York Times for sale. Haven’t bought one yet. No Italian has mentioned Trump but I had a discussion at breakfast this morning with two couples Debbie, my daughter, met on her way here. Geri, very anti-Trump, says she feels safer living in Republican Jacksonville, Florida, near a Navy base than she would living surrounded by liberals like herself.



Overheard at Rome airport: Hillary lost voters because of scandals.

News of the day: Russian connection and wiretapping during election process. My thought: Is any real work getting done in DC?

Trump’s second travel ban was rejected by the courts.



I spent a lot of time watching the US Senate intelligence committee hearings on BBC. The FBI and NSA (National Security Agency) say there is no evidence that Trump or people around Trump were wiretapped by the Obama administration. The NSA representative said that US relationships with Germany and Britain are strong enough to withstand Trump’s anti Tweets, comments.



The news only gets worse. Both Trump and North Korea are threatening war. US war ships are practicing maneuvers near North Korea.

It has been almost one hundred days since Trump took office. Not much progress on his vows about what he would do “the first day”: jail Hillary, build a wall paid for by Mexico, rescind the Affordable Care Act. Hillary attended the inauguration. Now Trump says the wall must be built with American taxpayer money and then Mexico will pay for it. His healthcare bill did not make it to the congressional floor for a vote.



Today I read two articles that made me weep. The first was from Sunday’s Business Post in an article, “100 Days of Ineptitude” by Marion McKeone. McKeone wrote about many of the things that have bothered me since Trump was elected but the one that really concerns me is American funding for UN agencies that provide family planning and healthcare services for women and girls living in refugee camps or displaced communities has

The second news item was in the Herald and News (Klamath Falls, Oregon): President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday directing his interior secretary to review the designation of dozens of national monuments on federal lands, calling the protection efforts “a massive federal land grab” by previous administrations.

The uncaring for people and places goes on and breaks my heart.



One hundred days of Trump’s presidency. He is now praising dictators like Putin, Duterte, and Kim Jong-un, surrounding himself with family as advisers and defaming the media as dictators do.

I intended to write this for a year. I can’t. It is too hard to watch, even from afar, what is happening in the US.

On Friday, 21 April, I became an Irish citizen.



Like Sinatra, who retired many times, I am making a comeback. Yesterday FBI director Comey was fired and CNN has been also exclusively playing up the story for over twenty-four hours now. There may have, or may not have, been justification for the firing but a letter delivered to his office in Virginia when Comey was in LA and Comey finding out because of a glance at a TV Is just boorish. Being a poor loser is one thing but being a poor winner, as Trump continues to be, is very distasteful.



Today it was “revealed” by the Washington Post that Trump shared highly classified information with the Russians. CNN going with the story big time. Is Trump just bragging, stupid or mentally incapable of being President? Or, all of the above? Laptop bans tomorrow? The stress this kind of news is highly toxic!



The intelligence that Trump shared with Russia was from Israeli sources. Is there anyone Trump won’t disrespect?



I planned on taking a “CNN” break but put it on about midnight and now a Special Counsel has been named for the Russia probe. It is going to come down to a “cover up.” Trump denies telling Comey to let it go. Comey says he has memos. Trump said, “You’d better hope we don’t have tapes.” If there are tapes, like with Nixon, that will be the downfall bit. (Or is this more “pie in the sky” liberal thinking?)



Trump is in Europe, after a few days in the Middle East, spreading his usual unrest with Merkel, Teresa May, and possibly even the Pope. “Germans are bad, very bad” according to Trump. And, there were US leaks on the Manchester terrorists attack that Teresa May lectured Trump about. The Pope spoke to him about peace and climate change.

Meanwhile, campaign promises on infrastructure are being broken. So nothing changes.



Two people were killed on the MAX in Portland by a male screaming anti-Muslim rhetoric. Will other countries now ban Christians from traveling? Probably not. But where does the hate end? When do we push education, healthcare, and housing around the world instead of weapons? Each murder begets more murders and that includes every one killed by any military personal. If you watch, either in person or on TV, American or British or UN soldiers killing unarmed men, women, and children doesn’t that make you want to join the opposition?



Today Angela Merkel gave a speech saying that Germany could not depend on the US or Britain because of Trump and because of Brexit. Seventy years of bringing Europe and America together may go down the drain in six months. Meanwhile, North Korea is launching missiles, Syria continues to be bombed into oblivion and Palestine and Israel are no closer to peace. There are days when I am glad I am going towards the end of life and not just beginning a family and a career.



Today Trump announced that the US will pull out of the Paris accords on climate change. Makes US one of three countries that are non-signers. The other two are Nicaragua and Syria. What great company Trump keeps! Some of the states are saying they’ll go it alone. But it was one of Trump’s campaign promises and the decision seems to be going over well with his small segment of supporters.



Today former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence committee. Broadcast live on CNN and CNBC. The last senator to ask questions was McCain. He asked about the Clinton campaign and why that investigation was closed when the one into Trump, his campaign, and associates is ongoing. No matter how Comey said that the investigation into the Clinton emails was closed but not the campaign and the Russian interference in the election process, McCain either wasn’t listening or is getting to the point of not understanding what is being said to him.


Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Claudia White moved to Oregon with her husband and three children in 1969. She fostered children from 1970-1982, and was widowed, at age fifty-nine, after forty-one years of marriage, in 2002. In 2008, she moved to Killarney, Ireland, and became an Irish citizen on April 21, 2017. She has four adult children and three grandchildren aged four to twenty-eight.

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