Sunday, August 7, 2022

Dark money's assault on our planet

Something is killing the Great Salt Lake. Any guesses what that might be?

Lake Mead and Lake Powell are in the clutches of the worst water-level drop in their life-giving histories. What might the problem be?

With hundreds of wildfires this year, over 200 Texas counties have earned "crop disaster area" designation. Any suggestions as to why?

No suggestions, no guesses, and certainly no solutions from Republican-controlled legislatures committed to bury their heads in arid sand.

All that concerns them is drilling, pumping and consuming – gas, oil, water – whatever. In other words, business as usual. The planet be damned.

In Utah, a rancher told the New York Times the existential crisis of the Great Salt Lake is an "environmental nuclear bomb."

Ho hum, say Republican lawmakers -- and voters who send them to the Capitol in Salt Lake City to ignore (Earth's) reality. This being a political body tightly wrapped around a Big Lie, why not falsehoods, about the very existence of our planet?

One would think Utah, with its stunning and delicate ecosystems, from snow caps to desert flats, would be as intently focused on the environment as any state. Nah.

As such, Utah is one of the states represented in a well-oiled contraption called the State Financial Officers Foundation. It's made up of Republican state treasurers devoted to undercutting any and all efforts at addressing climate change.

For instance, members vow to redirect state business away from "woke" businesses that express devotion to climate action.

Texas served as a model for this when Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law blocking state agencies from investing in businesses that have cut ties with fossil fuel companies.

In addition to spending taxpayer dollars to conspire thusly, the organization benefits from the largess of the Koch petrochemical dynasty and other players like the American Petroleum Institute, Heartland Institute and Heritage Foundation.

For those in a civics coma, this is one more example that parties matter, philosophies matter. Oh, yeah, and voting matters.

When pondering down-ballot races like treasurer and attorney general and secretary of state, consider the damage partisans can do, and many are sworn to do.

Rest assured, if one runs for any of these positions as a Republican, he or she can depend on massive dark money facilitated by the Citizens United ruling of 2010. Read all about the filthy stuff in Jane Mayer's "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right."

For decades, petro players like the Koch family have spent like mad to elect state officials who pledge to the vow that carbon extraction is next to godliness.

Part of that campaign is and was the effort to populate the courts with friends of polluters.

To that end, the biggest victory in the dark money offensive was the Supreme Court's recent ruling in West Virginia vs. EPA that ruled the agency couldn't regulate carbon emissions. That's up to Congress, sayeth the Koch Court.

In question was what's called the "Chevron deference," the principle that it's unrealistic to rely on lawmakers to sign off on intricacies of environmental policy, hence empowering the experts at the EPA.

The absence of such is frightening considering the technological ignorance that pervades this or any Congress.

Exhibit A was the explanation in 2006 by then Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, describing the internet as a "series of tubes."

Stevens said he was only speaking metaphorically. Whatever. For something more authoritative, let's leave it up to one of the Apollo astronauts, unattributed, who said of the level of technological expertise he found on Capitol Hill:

"A lot of these people, they don't know their butt from third base."

This fully explains what enlightenment awaits when innocents become industry sock puppets.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

We know what the majority supports; will it vote?

Poll after poll after poll.

Name your indicator and know the Republican Party is completely out of touch with the majority of thought in America. Completely on the wrong side of history. Completely wrong. Period.

Abortion rights. Sane gun laws. LBGTQ rights and social advancement. Voting rights. The Affordable Care Act and other steps to insure more Americans.

Not to mention the desire never to see Donald Trump in a position of power again.

It's a rout. So how is it possible that the Party of Trump could reclaim control of Congress in the fall?

We all know how – the same way Trump became president in the first place: voter apathy -- miserable, unforgivable non-turnout by people who support all the above.

Republicans knew where the prize was when they looked at the bankruptcy king and said, "What the hell?" in 2016.

The prize was the Supreme Court. Trump got fewer votes, but thanks to the Electoral College, he got the prize.

Now Republicans hope – assume – that by way of voter apathy and gerrymandering they can have control of Congress with the new year.

For those very reasons, prospects are not good in the House.

A principal reason is a Supreme Court sculpted by the forces of backsliding and racism. Fair districts and much of what came from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have been flushed down the toilet.

Things are looking less bleak in the Senate, thanks to – drum roll – Donald Trump.

Trump's hand-picked celebrity candidates (Dr. Oz? Herschel Walker? Don't make us laugh.) and made-to-order election deniers aren't doing too well. Meanwhile, the abortion issue is proving to be exactly the kind of voter motivator Republican strategists feared.

Let's face it: The GOP's driving cause is to keep people away from the polls. When turnout goes up, Republican candidates go down.

Off-year elections are notoriously low turn-out. The party in power almost always gets punished by the "anti" vote – voters motivated by grudges and momentary concerns.

Inflation is the biggest concern of the moment, and Republicans hope to hang it around Democrats' necks.

Too much of the reporting on inflation has been a disservice ("What's the stock market saying?") Too few Americans understand that this is a global problem driven by two factors: supply-chain problems worldwide related to the pandemic and stunningly sweeping sanctions against Russia for the horrors it has wrought in Ukraine.

It's going to hurt the Democrats, without question.

Other issues are going to motivate people, however, headed by Republican policies to empower states to order every pregnant woman to gestate to term.

It's been stunning and revealing how quickly red-state legislatures have taken this step. Republicans will not profit from this politically.

Poll after poll after poll shows this to be true.

The horrifying carnage in Uvalde, Texas, once again has drawn a focus on the fact that the GOP is motivated not by public safety but the needs of commerce when it comes to gun-happy constituents -- and the gun lobby.

The organic grassroots protest in Uvalde demanding that Texas lawmakers convene in special session to age-restrict the purchase of assault weapons shows the desire among the masses to shed nutty Old West inclinations about killing machines.

The U.S. House was representing the majority of Americans when it voted to ban assault weapons last week. Of course, the gun lobby will ride the filibuster in the Senate, and dependable Republican lap dog obedience, to have the final say.

This is a scary time. Suddenly lawmakers must protect such things taken for granted, such as contraception and the right of privacy. The highest court has become an adversary of basic and long-held rights.

The majority must stand up. It must assert itself by voting. It must put the minority in its place this November, not in control of Congress.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Party of Trump is certifiably off its rocker

Donald Trump and shoeshine boy Rudy Giuliani like to throw around claims of dead people voting in massive numbers.

Eight thousand dead voters in Philly! Make that 30,000!

Uh, yeah. As he admitted to Arizona's House speaker, Giuliani had no evidence for any of his claims, only theories.

Ah, but I'm here to report that Colorado has confirmed an instance. Sorry, Rudy, but the dead person's vote went to your client.

It's quite a story, actually, because the man who cast his presumed-dead wife's vote was (is?) being investigated for her murder.

Barry Morphew is the name, a resident of Chaffee County in Southern Colorado. His wife Suzanne disappeared two years ago. He was held for months as the prime suspect, then released in April when the case grew cold. Whoever killed Suzanne did a really good job of concealing the deed.

Morphew didn't try to conceal his illegal vote, however. He told the FBI, "I just thought I'd give (Trump) another vote. I figured all these other guys are cheating."

Who are "these other guys," Barry? Maybe Rudy can tell us. The only other cheaters we can lock-cinch confirm from 2020 were those conspiring to re-install Trump president after getting shellacked at the polls.

"All these other guys." That line is one of the fruits of the Big Lie.

Trump has built an industry of out of bogus claims, brick by brick. In the process, he's raked in millions of dollars from followers who believe he needs their money to investigate the "steal."

In the Jan. 6 rally that sent rioters on their merry way up the Capitol steps, Trump juiced the crowd with specious voter claims:

"Dead people. Lots of dead people. Thousands."

In Pennsylvania, he crowed, "you had 205,000 more votes than you had voters" and "10,000 votes illegally counted."

All were among the claims Trump's own attorney general, Bill Barr, pronounced to be "bullshit."

Of course, Trump knew it was all a lie. Steve Bannon assured as much in a broadcast before the 2020 election: When Trump lost, he was going to say he won – bigly. Then he would surf the wave of chaos as far as he could.

As grievous as was Trump's comportment, lounging before the big screen while big-bellied rioters assaulted the Capitol and threatened his vice president's life – more egregious is what the Big Lie has done to our elections system.

Draconian moves have been made nationwide to make voting more difficult and purge voters, all based on unconscionably bogus claims pertaining to "ballot security" and more.

Last week the Republican-majority Wisconsin legislature passed a bill to ban voting drop boxes except at county election headquarters.

As one who uses them, let me say, "You've got to be kidding."

Ballot drop boxes are absolutely secure and are the essence of voter convenience. No evidence exists – none – that they can or ever have been used fraudulently. They are more secure, for example, than the mailbox outside your pharmacy.

The only reason for this move is the Republican power structure's pledging allegiance to Trump's Big Lie.

It was a disgusting spectacle -- an insult to Americans far and wide -- that at its state convention, the Texas Republican Party voted to pronounce Joe Biden's win null and void.

Based on what? Rudy's "theories"? No -- based on the calculated fiction of one serial liar on the cusp of indictment for defrauding the U.S. government and fomenting an insurrection.

Texas Republicans also called for a vote on secession from the United States. Let me be the first to say:

Good luck, compadres. After our troops at Fort Hood, Fort Bliss, Fort Sam Houston and elsewhere occupy all major citadels, gulf ports, petrochemical facilities, oil fields and pro football palaces, and control the entire I-35 corridor, they will have reduced New Texas to a place where only the deer and antelope play – and a functioning electric grid won't matter at all.

The Republican Party, running on a lie and supporting a lawbreaker, isn't fit to hang a shingle in a constitutional republic.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: