Sunday, May 9, 2021

Culture war's ghost hunters

            If this is "woke," bring it.

            Add my voice to those calling on the NCAA to stick it to states that marginalize transgender individuals.

            That could mean pulling tournaments based on the NCAA Board of Governor's April 12 statement that "firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender athletes to compete in college sports."

            The action of taking business away from those states requires newfound spinal fortitude from the NCAA and would allow it to show its expressed policy of being committed to sites "free of discrimination."

            Like mastodons ahead of a thunderstorm, red-state legislatures have stampeded to make life even more miserable for those who don't identify with their birth genders.

            This includes "bathroom bills" based on wild claims about the ridiculous threat when someone who is transgender meets nature's call.

            Their miserable actions create horrific and unconscionable restrictions against gender-affirming medical care, and require schoolchildren to compete in high school sports based on the gender of their birth.

            That's the one that has the NCAA's attention.

            With all this action – bills in 20 states -- you'd think that transgender athletes are coming in like waves of sword-bearing Cossacks.

            Actually, an Associated Press analysis found this to be a ghost pursuit -- almost no examples of transgender students stepping into the fields of prep athletic pursuit, citing but two – one in Hawaii and one in Alaska.

            That leaves 48 states to be plundered.

            This is in keeping with Republicans' forever efforts to do anything but meet the needs of the commonwealth – instead to posture and engage in the culture war maneuver of the moment.

            This is what has made Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz what he is – a man in search of a new offensive. Hear him huff against "wokeness."

            Let highways crumble. Let schools gasp for resources. Let the working poor despair for the lack of health coverage. Let's create a menace and alarm the troops. Down, Ted. Down.

            Years ago in Texas, then-Gov. Rick Perry, another Republican culture warrior, put a lot of miles on state vehicles campaigning for a state constitutional ban on gay marriage, which – ahem -- was already illegal there. In other words, it was posturing and nothing more.

            A raft of court rulings on behalf of gay rights have cut off avenues of discrimination against people based solely on their sexual orientation. With the religious right clamoring for something to discriminate against, the Republican Party has chosen transgender individuals.

            The most phantasmagoric of all threats remains the so-called specter of voter fraud. No matter how hard Republicans search, they can't seem to find it.

            That hasn't stopped waves of "ballot security" measures.

            Of course, as several federal judges have observed, the one and only reason for these measures is to boost Republicans' advantages at the ballot box. More pertinently, it is to make voting more difficult for the aged, the poor, the people who need help voting and their helpers, and people of color.

            Now these bills are papered around the newfound imperative to do anything to posture one's self before the Golden Calf, the con of Mar-a-Lago.

            What do Republicans stand for anymore? Observe the national debate over leadership. By and large, they stand for the Big Lie and a big liar. Only a few of those Republicans who know the Big Truth have spoken up.

            The rest have found an issue in "woke" initiatives aimed at making states and people in power pay for policies that harm those with the least power, seeming to ignore the fact that some voters who are Republican actually like easier voting.

            Understand that "woke" has its roots in black slang, a statement about not submitting to injustice.

            That should tell you everything about today's Republican Party. It was once the Party of Lincoln. Now it is the party of pettiness, motivated by phantoms and fallen idols.

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

Monday, May 3, 2021

Where's America's apology for lie after lie?

          I'm waiting for my apology from Newsmax.

          Last week it apologized to Eric Coomer, director of security for Dominion Voting Systems, for spreading Republican lies about the 2020 election.

          It apologized for "any harm that our reporting" caused to Coomer and his family. They had received death threats generated by the Trump lie machine.

          Newsmax is trying to save its tail feathers ahead of a lawsuit for which, in the case of Fox News and its own Big Lie claims, Dominion seeks $1.8 million.

          Dominion also is suing Rudy Giuliani and One America News Network, among others.

          It dropped Newsmax from its lawsuit after the apology and a retraction of its false reporting.

          What I want to know is why Newsmax is not apologizing to me, and to all Americans who value democracy and dread oligarchy.

          I want an apology from agents who triggered an insurrection -- blood flowing in our Capitol – my Capitol.

          I want an apology from those who continue to live by the Big Lie. I won't get that apology, because they live for lies.

          Lies – like the claim that Joe Biden is out to take the hamburger right out of your hands, and cut beef production by 90 percent. Based solely on a British tabloid's squirrely "analysis" of Biden's climate proposals, Fox News went to town on that Whopper with cheese.

          Fox News' John Roberts later acknowledged the speciousness of that. Though among his on-air comrades, he was the only one with the guts to admit it.

          They felt no such obligation, as truth is not what they do.

          Further evidence comes from the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, where a reporter resigned after being ordered to write that a children's book by Kamala Harris had been imposed upon unattended minors at the border. 

          Lies, lies, lies. But none supersedes the Big Lie about the dethroning of our previous president.

          A recent survey found that 60 percent of Republicans think the election was stolen -- a harrowing premise if derived from actual evidence.

          Clearly 60 percent of Republicans need none.

          Donald Trump will go down as a most inconsequential president for his lack of accomplishments, but as pertains to lasting radioactivity, the Big Lie looks to have the half-life of plutonium.

          As the Republicans populate their leadership ahead of 2022, quite clearly the only thing that matters is allegiance to the Big Lie.

          That means that Congresswoman Liz Cheney is toast.

          To be nominated by the GOP, truth need not apply.

          The folly of the Arizona recount now ongoing, and claims that the results in Georgia and Pennsylvania were rigged, is that several Republicans won in precincts where voters could not hack voting for Trump. Were their ballots tainted as well?

          The interesting thing about the posturing to win Trump's favor in advance of what's to come in Republican primaries is that he is more reviled today by Americans than ever before – and that's a lot, because he's Gallup's least popular president ever polled.

          As low as Trump's approval ratings are – 38.6 percent in leaving office, it's still stunning that even that many Americans support him. But they have been conditioned to accept lie after lie, and so they were quite ready to accept the Big Lie.

          Back to the matter of Joe Biden supposedly wanting to take beef off your table:

          "Crazy narratives are tough to dispel," writes Molly Roberts in the Washington Post. "They're designed to inflame by warping a matter of policy into a matter of identity."

          With the lie about Biden taking our beef, Roberts writes, Trumpians find a way to deflect any serious discussion of climate change, just as Trump did in dismissing wind power: "And they say the noise causes cancer."

          The Big Lie lives on not because of anything factual that supports it but because angry people don't want to think about serious responses to serious national challenges. They desire that a clown shall lead them.

          America deserves an apology and a retraction.

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

 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Hearsay and 'herd' stupidity

            "First one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff."

            Sad to say, that 2005 account from USA Today reflects not only the behavior of woolly creatures but also those we assume capable of knowing a water hazard from a fairway.

            But then we elect people like Ron Johnson – and Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Marjorie Taylor Greene – people fit only to lead followers off a precipice.

            Johnson, the senator from Wisconsin, has, like too many Republican leaders chosen the path of ignorance in the face of a pandemic that continues to kill and hospitalize.

            Johnson, who has had COVID-19, has questioned the need for mass vaccination, assuming, I guess, that somehow the virus will burn itself out.

            He's eschewed the vaccine, saying that having had the virus makes him immune, and the numbers of Americans who have had and recovered it so far negate the need for mass vaccination.

            Ah, but Senator, the CDC says don't bank on immunity from contracted COVID-19, either in its effectiveness or in its longevity.

            Last December the previous occupant of the White House was spouting nonsense like this.

            "You develop immunity over a period of time, and I hear we're close to 15 percent. I'm hearing that, and that is terrific. That's a powerful vaccine in itself."

            In terms of dealing with a pandemic, this ranks with Clorox spritzers.

            "I hear" – favorite words of that one-time, one-term president -- words typical of knowledge that is nothing.

            People like Sen. Johnson cannot be prevented from speaking, but we all could hope for the scientific breakthrough by which, when an elected leader tells a whopper, he gets a mackerel across the kisser.

            Anyone who talks about herd immunity at the expense of vaccination should get a wet one until further notice.

            Fifteen percent. Those who know something about epidemiology say the notion is not relevant until we exceed 60 percent immunity, although the threshold could be as high as 80 percent.

            Until then, vaccinations are the answer, most likely with booster shots required in a year. The virus won't vanish, nor can it be wished away.

            For Johnson to act as if he is done with the illness is pure idiocy, which is looking like the chief means of getting nominated as a Republican in 2021.

            One of the key resources in understanding the pandemic is a forecasting model by independent data scientist Youyang Gu. Until recently it was called "Path to Herd Immunity." Recently, however, Gu changed the name to "Path to Normality."

            He said that herd immunity may be unattainable because of several factors, headed by reluctance to be vaccinated.

            In other words, the ignorance of the very people who talk up herd immunity as our salvation are the reason it may never come to pass with this virus.

            As with COVID-19, the rampant speculation bred by the political and media leaders on the right is a virus unto itself.

            From what we know after a year of this pandemic, "herd immunity" at this stage is nothing more than wishful thinking minus the thought.

            I recently heard a radio voice say that he'd like to see someone other than Anthony Fauci, someone "without the baggage," lead the nation's pandemic response.

            The only "baggage" Fauci has is that weighted on him by the previous clown squad that second-guessed and otherwise made his job so untenable.

            As of this writing we have lost 571,000 Americans to this illness. How many followed a leader like Ron Johnson right off the cliff?

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