Sunday, January 10, 2021

Bomb-throwers from the start

            While authorities investigate the presence of suspected incendiary devices at our riot-ravaged Capitol, we can confirm two.

            Ted Cruz.

            Josh Hawley.

            Add the sulfuric smolder of Louie Gohmert, John Carter, Pete Sessions and more. Not big-time explosive elements like U.S. senators, in July 4 nomenclature they are known as "sparklers" and "snakes," each saluting a bright, shining lie.

            All have refused to accept the people's verdict in the 2020 presidential election. All pumped up Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" volume.

            All thereby bequeathed wooden nickel tokens to terrorists who literally drove them and their colleagues from their desks the morning of the vote.

            Hence in succession, competing portraits (1) representative government, (2) governing under Donald Trump and his enablers.

            First, an excruciatingly orderly process of civility. Next: windows knocked out, police swarmed, a face-painted man wearing buffalo horns in the presiding officer's seat

            Let us now award Ted Cruz with his own set of horns. On the Senate floor that day, he was the first insurrectionist to enunciate, to consecrate, the horrific logic behind a ploy that led to these horrors and will lead to more.

            Simply put, said Cruz: A lot of people believe this president's lies. Those lies must be given currency.

            For a few syllables, Ted Cruz must have thought he'd pulled off something grand. He got applause from fellow members of the Sedition Caucus.

            Moments later, the mob got involved and Cruz's grand act became one of the most ignominious in American history.

            Good job, Ted. This is what you and Donald Trump came to Washington to do.

            You came to throw bombs.

            Cruz came to Washington to do the bidding of tea party patrons who, like Trump's rioters, wanted to shut that mother down. The government did exactly that at his frantic insistence in 2013.

            Trump arrived with every intention to knock and mock every convention honored by every predecessor to the office he disgraced.

            Even before gaining office with 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, he said that if he lost it would be because the election was rigged. Even after he was elevated by the racist construct that is the Electoral College, he spewed lie after lie about illegal votes. He couldn't leave well enough alone. And he didn't stop there.

            To lie is Donald Trump's very nature, his means of success. So he lied daily, even about things that can even be disproved on video and audio.

            Sedition? Ted Cruz rationalizes his act as a harmless symbolic gesture, a nod to Trump and his supporters. Oh, but amplifying those lies caused great harm, and not just to the nation to whom these so-called leaders pledged allegiance.

            It also hurt them. Cruz, Hawley and his co-conspirators lost control of the Senate because the Trump-beat about a "stolen election" caused some granite-brained Georgians to stay away from the polls.

            More problematic for them, their party is now forever more to be identified by the portrait of people scaling the walls of the Capitol, "Trump" banners held aloft.

            And I mean forever.

            Cruz and Hawley forever will be remembered as the floor leaders of the insurrection.

            Again, they will say that all they did was make a symbolic statement on behalf of noble patriotic supporters.

            Symbolic lies. They patronized the lies and the liar. As Mitt Romney said, if they wanted to respect those voters who believed the election was stolen, they owed those voters the truth.

            George Will is right. Along with our disgraceful president, Cruz and Hawley, and Gohmert and Carter and Sessions, get to wear the scarlet letter of "S" for sedition.

            It would seem that everyone, even Republicans, would emerge from this presidency understanding that words have consequences.

            Ted, you smell of gunpowder.

            Resign already.

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

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Trump's end plays out like 'Jaws'

            Donald Trump cut his Mar-a-Lago stay short and hurried back to Washington. Why?

            -- To attempt to staunch a pandemic's wave of death? To soothe legions of the bereaved?

            -- To address the fact that on distribution, Warp Speed has yielded to Operation Molasses?

            -- To calmly broker a defense bill and a stimulus package to his liking?

            Nah. No way. Hah hah. You're killing me.

            Trump returned to swim round and round the boat – our boat -- his orange fin projected above the waves, as Congress finalized the end of his presidency.

            In "Jaws," the shark swallowed half the boat before being blown to sushi.

            True to Trump, his end is shaping up as something from the mind of Steven Spielberg.

            The part of the trawler disappearing in the foam is the Republican Party. Trump has consumed it. He is it. It is him. His Happy Meal.

            He has a mighty mandible, but Trump's fate is sealed – detonated by the voters – despite a school of GOP guppies who thought they could change tides with their tiny tails.

            Josh Hawley: What a little swimmer. Louie Gohmert: You mighty minnow.

            At the coast, there's a term for you: live bait.

            Trump has directed this blockbuster with an eye to receipts. "Stop the Steal" has stirred swarms of fact-averse followers. The better to wring dollars from them.

            The big-screen drama that has followed in the wake of the voters' verdict is true to Trump's comportment from the start.

            His vetoing of the defense bill, his threatened veto of the stimulus legislation, was more about enjoying that bass-fiddle sound that Spielberg used so well to stir movie-goers' fear. Ba-bum. Ba-bum.

            Trump doesn't want to govern. He doesn't want to serve humanity. He just wants attention.

            He enjoys most the sight of policymakers helpless on the shoreline, sweat beading on their brows, as townspeople scream and flee the surf.

            A lot of Republicans are feeling dehydrated right now. Mitch McConnell. Mike Pence. Any Republican official in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin or Michigan who can do math.

            Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, one of the House Guppies challenging the Nov. 3 results, tweeted that the election results were "untrustworthy."

            Pardon the use of a holy acronym in vain, but OMG.

            These people have been swept along by a tide of lies from the most untrustworthy president in history, averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims per day over four years, based on the exhaustive and exhausted fact-checking of the Washington Post.

            No court will countenance any of their claims about Nov. 3. Why? Because evidence is needed to back up a claim in court. Trump's supporters have none.

            So why did Trump return to Washington early? My guess is that he's $400 million in debt and he needs to pump up that "Stop the Steal" go-fund-me effort by which he's reaped $250 million so far.

            If you were surprised that Trump would turn charitable and join Democrats in appealing for $2,000 stimulus checks, my wife has this theory: He's banking on supporters signing those checks over to him.

            Someday we'll look back at this presidency and wonder: Did it really happen? Or was this just over-the-top fiction?

            Oh, it happened. The beast from the deep – OK, from the 26th floor of Trump Tower -- came to the surface and did horrible things.

            In the movie, the boat bit it. That's the big difference in this "Jaws" remake.

            Many worry that Trump has damaged democracy irreparably. They are mistaken. Democracy held on. He did not.

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

 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

2020: a petri dish of dumb

            It's the quote of the year, or the last four.

            Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore' described the matter as "operating on a level of stupid I have never seen before."

            It wasn't just stupid, he said. It was "super stupid."

            So, which of the following was it?

            (A) Not finding a moment in a half dozen phone conversations to ask Vladimir Putin about bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan;

            (B) Downplaying the immense likelihood of a massive Russian hack of U.S. systems;

            (C) Mulling martial law to overturn the 2020 election.

            Answer: Honore' was reacting to "C" – but we can assume any number of military brass said as much about "A" and "B."

            Donald Trump said he wasn't considering martial law after Michael Flynn suggested it in an interview. Oh, yeah, then why was Flynn in the White House talking up the idea?

            A level of stupid not seen before? Sorry, General, but we've endured code-red levels of dumb over four calendar sweeps, and not just from the soon-to-vacate man in the White House. He's just the super-stupid spreader.

            Trump wants to blame China for the devastation wrought in this land because of COVID-19. No, considering how the virus has ravaged this country as opposed to others, the only rightful agent is willful ignorance.

            Forget the spreader potential of this or any virus. The year 2020 showed the far greater contagiousness of stupidity.

            Unfortunately, we cannot close our borders from that.

            Our health-care providers did heroic and amazing things this year against what has cultivated in a petri dish of ignorance.

            In that germ farm, rumor and preconceptions are the agents of infection; social media and agenda-driven broadcasters are the spreaders. It helps also to have a self-obsessed serial liar as president.

            Trump, the man entrusted with our safety and health, stood on a White House balcony in October -- after his own hospitalization with the virus -- and proclaimed, "It's going to disappear. It's disappearing."

            Trump made the same claim or a variant of it 38 times as people continued to suffer and die.

            Compatriots in Trumpian spin have been just as ignorant.

            "It's just a common cold, folks," said Rush Limbaugh in February. Right now an American dies of the virus every 33 seconds. Tell us again it's no big deal.

            Texas Republican Louie Gohmert cavalierly walked the halls of Congress without a mask, even escorting over 100 school children on tour. His staff members said he berated them for wearing masks. Then he contracted the virus. Then he said masks might have caused it. Then he got re-elected.

            What's the chief cause of the devastation, Louie? People like you.

            Texas mega-preacher John Hagee stuck to the Trumpian script and downplayed the virus. Then he got it and spent 15 days in the hospital with double pneumonia.

            On the side of reason and rightful inquiry, Congressman James Clyburn, D-S.C., has subpoenaed Trump administration officials to respond to allegations that they pressured the Centers for Disease Control to alter data and reframe safety precautions in politically palatable ways.

            This is the kind of inquiry to which a new Congress should commit itself. Call these hucksters back to explain themselves. Our health infrastructure never again should be a tool of science-denying fools and charlatans.

            Meanwhile, Republicans seek to seed chaos with absurd claims that Democrats "stole" the election from Trump.

            Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered $1 million to anyone who could provide proof of Democrat voter fraud to help make the case. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has put in Pennsylvania's chit for $3 million, having found three people – all Republicans – voting multiple times.

            Pay up, Mr. Patrick.

            A resolution for 2021, America. Let's resolve to no longer make it profitable to be dumb.

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