Sunday, July 21, 2019

Four genuine public servants and one big phony

            I know what many want at this moment: to denounce him, to impeach him, to send him back to where he came from -- a career of eluding debtors.

            Sorry, but this time I'm going to thank Donald Trump.

            Were it not for his unconscionable racist screed, I would not know U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

            Because of what Trump recently said about her and three other congresswomen of color, I got to meet her on the other side of our TV screen as they held a joint press conference.

            Pressley said Trump's comments are but a "disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration." Tell it.

            I wouldn't know about Pressley at all were it not for this distraction. I'm glad I do.

            The Massachusetts Democrat couldn't be more eloquent and couldn't be more devoted to her job, which is to focus on matters that matter to her constituents.

            Health care. Gun Violence. College debt. Income inequality. The environment. Infrastructure: You know, issues which largely have been spit upon by the Party of Trump.

            Again, though, we should thank Donald Trump at this very moment and for that particular rant. Because of him, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar was greeted at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last week like she has the Vince Lombardi Trophy in her hands for Vikings fans.

            Thanks to our president, I now know more about Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the firecracker whose utter devotion is to Michigan's 13th Congressional District and not to religious-right charlatans and foreign dictators.

            I didn't need an introduction to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We've all been hearing about her.

           (If you want to get woozy quickly, turn to Fox News, haul out the schnapps, and take a belt every time AOC is brought up.)

            Yes, she's a communist out to destroy America. You'd think she had the entire 1,000-plus-person Russian Internet Research Agency backing her election effort. Oh, wait, that was Donald Trump.

             Ocasio-Cortez is a force of nature – human nature. She is as genuine as Donald Trump is phony.

            She works for the victims of unfettered greed in her borough in the Bronx and across America. You may disagree with her policies, but you can't call her a shape-shifter or wonder what she stands for.

            Trump says he's the most transparent president ever. Well, he's right on that. Every gesture he makes is a transparent bid to retain the love of the angry white voters.

            Coal? Beautiful coal? Talk about a see-through play for misbegotten loyalties in the Rust Belt. Sir, that train has left the station. Didn't they discuss market forces at Wharton? With its polluting properties, coal is as in-demand today as K-cars.

            A friend of American manufacturers? Trump talks that way while his family exploits overseas labor.

            A friend of the middle class? His tariffs (taxes) have wiped out the pittance that sector got from his tax cuts. (We know which sector benefited, by the way.)

            A foe of illegal immigration? He wasn't so fierce while undocumented workers staffed his New Jersey properties.

            Judeo-Christian values? He mouths a serviceable code for the benefit of Bible Belt voters. But my goodness: With his lying, his philandering, his coarseness, his gesticulating to voices of hate -- in his hands the stone tablets of Moses are rendered to pea gravel.

            Then you have a true American like Rep. Omar, who gained citizenship at the tender age of 17 – amazing for someone three years removed from a refugee camp. Then she had the resolve to run for Congress – and the eloquence and vision to win.

            It was heartening to see Minnesotans shouting to her, "We got your back."

            So again, thanks to Trump for helping shine a light on four courageous women who serve in the public sector, an excellent reminder of why we must return him to the private sector.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

That oath was Trump's first lie in office

            Did you hear why Peyton Manning chose not to be color commentator for ESPN's "Monday Night Football"?

            Because it wouldn't be right.

            He declined, reports Yahoo Sports, because his commentary would be compromised should his brother Eli be on the field. So, too, Peyton would feel torn in commenting on his former teams in Denver and Indianapolis.

            Few realizations could be sadder: A retired quarterback has a higher sense of honor regarding a broadcast stint than a man who stood on the Capitol steps swearing he'd do right by the law, then strode into the White House and did what he pleased.

            As of now, the man electorally assigned to execute our laws stands to be the only man in America who believes he can ignore them.

            On Jan. 20, 2017, he swore he would preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. It was his first official lie.

            Other countries have any number of dignitaries who do that with impunity – military dictators and their generals, cartel bosses and their corporals, mullahs, sheikhs.

            Here, we have Donald Trump, the one and only.

            The law applies to his former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, in prison for illegal deeds. It appears not to apply to the man for whom those deeds were done. The law applies to buds and influence brokers Trump hired and Robert Mueller has indicted. Apparently, though, it doesn't apply to Mr. Big.

            Shortly we'll hear more from Mueller when Congress gets to ask him about what we all know to be true: Regardless of whether or not you are a Trump fan, you know he obstructed justice. He did it over and over, and in full sight. Trump fans: You rooted him on as he obstructed.

            He fired the man heading a probe pointed straight at him. He threatened witnesses. He pressured people in the know to not say what they knew. He lied and lied and lied again about Russian contacts as a candidate and in Russian business entanglements.

            But that offense is not our subject today. Today we discuss the impunity with which Trump has violated that founding document -- or more pertinently, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8.

            It's known as the Emoluments Clause, and it says the most powerful man in our government will not place himself in the position of being compromised by foreign gifts.

            Trump refused to divest or blind-trust himself when he became president. Since then his brand has raked in foreign government dollars hand over fist.

            As just one example: In one six-month stretch starting in October of 2016, the government of Saudi Arabia spent $270,000 at Trump International Hotel.

            What might the Saudis have expected in return? Indeed, what did they get?

            Such conflicts are why House Democrats have subpoenaed Trump's financial records. Americans need to know to what extent foreign governments have played our White House like a slot machine.

            The other day Trump pronounced the emoluments matter just another witch hunt when a federal appeals court threw out a suit by attorneys general in Maryland and the District of Columbia on the matter.

            As Trump says almost every day (every other sentence?), "Total exoneration."

            Nope. The dismissal wasn't on the merits of the matter but the court's ruling that the two states didn't have standing to sue.

            Another emoluments suit, this filed by more than 200 members of Congress, is still alive, and so is the legal bid to acquire his financial documents.

            Trump is the most corrupt, and corrupted, American president – period.

            Even his biggest fans know this. As he said, he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" and he wouldn't lose them.

            So, go for the gold, Golden Boy. Get what you can while the gettin's good. Drop-kick those ethical questions right down the field. That's what winners do.

            That Peyton Manning. Integrity is for chumps.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

Monday, July 8, 2019

President with a pronoun problem (reposting)

           (Readers: Though our president is inerrant -- just ask him -- the rest of us make mistakes. This is a corrected, reposted version -- JPY)

            Hear the distant rumble. Ram the ramparts. Hustle the muskets to the nearest landing strip.

            The sound you hear is not a summer storm but the rolling plunder of Donald Trump seeking further employment by us.

            Flanked by tanks, escorted by bombers -- with his presidential bullhorn he commends "unity" to a nation grown disorderly and just plain tired of him.

            By certain accounts he put on a great show at the feet of Lincoln July 4. Apologists in the pundit set certainly thought so. They exhaled a great gust of relief to see Trump stick to (fractured) American history and freebie points about our great military.

            Pat Buchanan gushed that Trump displayed perfect pitch: "positive, patriotic, uplifting," oh, and "presidential."

            Imagine anyone needing to plead said case for Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Obama. Each of those presidents knew from Day One what the office demanded.

            Marc Thiessen raved that Trump had been "unifying," and scolded critics who expected something else.

            On behalf of those who expected a clown act from Trump, let me apologize for having paid attention over the last three years.

            Most Americans by now judge any "presidential" pretense to be a ruse from a man whose every other sentence is either a tall tale or a low blow aimed at any who eschew the hook-line-sinker fascination that is him.

            The headlines said a surprisingly stately Trump called on his audience to "stay true to our cause," but we all know (even his acolytes know) the only cause that truly motivates his movement is his pronoun: "me."

            Most Americans know that the "us" Trump mentions doesn't include them. They know that the "us" is really the folks with the VIP tickets to the big event – those conveniently fenced off from the rabble.

            Chain-link: the defining feature of the Trump presidency.

            People who visit the national parks should ask for a refund for their fees – raised under this administration – for the $2.5 million siphoned from the parks budget to pay for this campaign event.

            Those fees are not cheap anymore. And only one American can rely on the taxpayers to pay for all of his recreation, not to mention steal from the military budget when Congress won't fund his border fence.

            Actually, a judge just said he can't do that. As with a citizenship question on the census, Trump proceeds as if he doesn't hear.

            Trump, by review, wanted something much grander than what transpired July 4, something far more extensive and expensive, but got major blowback from the Pentagon.

            He wanted what they do in Moscow and what they do in Pyongyang. He wanted, with Lincoln and our flag as his backdrop, to do what dictators do.

            Tanks? Fighter jets? Civilian flights grounded? No big deal, said he. "We own those things," he said. All it costs is a little fuel.

            We all know what "we" Trump is using in that sentence, and it's not you and me.

            Regardless, we will continue to foot the bill for angry rallies of red-capped people who love it when Trump goes all against "them." Read the thought bubbles of those crowds: "Them" means Muslims, Mexicans, gays and lesbians, and of course liberals.

            Unity? Patriotism? Voters who have been watching this divisive presidency now know what pronoun Trump is all about -- it's not "us." And it's not at all what the first half of the initials "U.S." stand for: united.

            With polls showing most Americans disapproving of what he is and has done, Trump should brace for when voters will remind him that "we" get the final say.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.