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On the road through Trump’s America

BY PAUL STRICKLAND

Special to the Daily News

Tensions and problems were evident during my trip to the far Western states of the U.S. during late November and early December.

The country remains divided.

At a middle-class family restaurant in Central Point, Ore,, a friend engaged an older couple, motorcyclists wearing black leather, in a discussion of the administration of Donald Trump.They were Henry and Gerry (for Geraldine) from Rogue River, Oregon, about 60 kilometers north of Central Point. They wore Make America Great Again caps. Gerry’s cap had the added message of “Tell all the Liberals to Trump Off!”

They said hanging would be too merciful a punishment for Nancy Pelosi for her role in impeachment hearings. They added the only purpose of the hearings it to “put another Democrat in the White House, so they can finish the job of wrecking the country.” Gerry said people support Trump because “he supports the country, the military and the cops.”

A retired Medford pediatrician said Trump’s adolescent tendency to get into meaningless personal squabbles with Chinese officials is hurting American computer research and development of a viable domestic solar-panel industry. China has control of the most easily accessible sources of rare earth elements essential for the most advanced communications and computer industries, she said. Her contacts in the Austin, Texas, district, which has become a Silicon Valley for

Texas, say Trump’s new tariffs against China have set back the advancement of high tech industries there.

Homeless people had stationed themselves at entrances to Wal-Mart and to Starbucks outlets in Medford, Ore., holding signs with messages saying “Need money for food.” On Nov. 28, American Thanksgiving Day, two homeless men were warming up in the Starbucks just south of a Wal-Mart in the southern part of the city. One, who seemed to be in his late fifties, said that when that Starbucks closed early at 6:30 for the holiday, he would go to s church that offered shelter to the homeless.

A movement for a State of Jefferson (soj51.org) in the northern counties of Callifornia persists and makes its presence known. Proponents believe the rural, agricultural areas of northern California are ignored by the.California state legislature in Sacramento which they see as dominated by representatives of huge, heavily populated urban districts in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

The organization does not seek separation from the U.S. but believes a 51st state should be carved out of northern California. The movement also favours diligent protection of the Second Amendment, which in the U.S. federal Constitution guarantees the right to own and bear arms. One representative says the current California state government in Sacramento is unfriendly to open-carry permits.

A weathered 1940s farm truck on a hillside along I-5 just south of the Oregon border carried the message, “Choose Life!”

In the agricultural counties of north-central Oregon, which contains much of the Oregon wine industry, there were signs in front of many farm houses saying “Oregon legislators are trying to take away your guns” and “I will not comply [with new state-level gun-control legislation].” The signs were sponsored by an organization called TakeBackOregon.org. I was unable to contact representatives of this organization.

Oregon is considered a Blue (Liberal Democratic) state, but the liberal thinking appears to be confined to the Portland metropolitan area, Eugene and university and college towns like Corvallis and Ashland. Farming districts and central and eastern Oregon are quite conservative.

As I approached Seattle from the south last Monday, I saw a regional park alongside the I-5 that was full of colourful tents and other makeshift housing.There were also many tents among bushes and trees in the I-5 right-of-way north of the downtown core..

Seattle has about the lowest rental vacancy rate on the West Coast, and in facing this problem is like the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, Oreg., and Los Angeles.

Near the University of Washington Bookstore and Bulldog News, a woman was seated on the sidewalk with a girl who appeared to be about four. She held a sign that said, “Single Mom. Please help. Need money to care for my daughter.”

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