Monday, August 28, 2017

The unbridled ride of Donnie Rebel

The headline said, "Echoes of Vietnam in Trump's about-face on Afghanistan."

Said my wife, "He'd have to have a face for that to happen."


Here was a guy who in 2013 tweeted that U.S. involvement there was "a complete waste." Now he says it's worth thousands more American troops.

He's just a bundle of convictions.

Speaking of convictions: With a hurricane on the march that would yield the rainstorm of 10 centuries and paralyze America's fourth-largest city and half of the Gulf Coast, Donald Trump figured it was that sweet spot in time to erase the federal rap facing fellow birther, and virtuoso race-profiler, Joe Arpaio.


With Hurricane Harvey bearing down on Texas, Trump found time to tweet that, after he graced Texas with his photo-opulence, he would head to Missouri ("that I won by a lot in '16") to campaign against Democratic Sen. Clair McCaskill, 'cause she doesn't support "big tax cuts."

Yep.  Let's talk about waging war, dealing with a mega-disaster, and having less money to do both because tax cuts are tremendous, particularly for the tremendously wealthy.

So, be assured that Trump was laser-focused on the biggest cataclysm to hit America since, um, him.

Put away those clinical attempts to explain away his behavior based on psycho-derangement or ADHD. How irresponsible. In his case, we have the garden-variety blood disease HCCL – He Couldn't Care Less. We see this disorder in many 16-year-old males.

In a Huffington Post commentary, Marina Fang observed that in such cavalier acts of caprice in the face of Hurricane Harvey, like his actions in the wake of Charlottesville, Trump "has abandoned essential duties of this office, failing to provide basic measured responses to violence and natural disasters."

The baffling thing about HCCL: With the actual world in upheaval, a sufferer can be roused to give a damn about things that can be wholly insignificant, say, about Twizzlers, or about a misplaced fidget spinner.

In Trump's case, he planted his feet, and further damaged his presidency, to defend the racist statuary that several local communities decided is wholly unnecessary.

We can understand what this is all about. As Republican tickets have done almost without fail since desegregation, Trump-Pence swept the South. Let us say, he owes some voters for this.

Judging by historically obscene approval ratings, his advisors might suggest Trump is trying too hard.

I'm trying to picture Trump, as he contemplated his presidency, imagining himself taking time out from the rigors to explain that "some very fine people" unwittingly found themselves at a joint rally of Nazis and white supremacists.

This, however, is what happens with an acute case of HCCL.

Jimmy Kimmel, offering Trump voters a mulligan after a huge mistake, offered a solution: Since it's a steep climb to remove him from office, offer the man a figurehead role in which he could preen and tweet, and not affect policy at all.

Kimmel suggested that Trump be made king.

Kimmel is onto something, but making Trump king would mean he would reign (if ceremonially) over all of us.

The suggestion here is that with his devotion to the region and its historic cause, Trump be offered the presidency of the Confederacy.

Though we occasionally hear of threats by Texans to secede, or from Florida to slide off the Continental Shelf, we know nothing will ever come of it. The South is going nowhere. Trust us. So, let Trump, the Rebel, assume the shade of gray he fancies.

He's a Yankee from Queens, but call him Beauregard if it feels good. Call him Donnie Reb.

Like a fidget spinner, that would keep him occupied.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Trump: a man with no soul (he pawned it)

Adventures in spinelessness:

The year Jesse Owens burned bright under Nazism's glare, a grave injustice was obscured beneath the Olympic flame.

Avery Brundage, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, held out two American Jewish sprinters from the 1936 Games so as not to anger Adolph Hitler should Jews mount the medal stand.

Why? Simple. Brundage had a financial stake in not offending. Brundage's construction company was bidding for German contracts.

The ranks of those who would grant dispensation for this coward's errand surely are microscopic. We do, however, know one man who would award Brundage a hearty thumbs up: Donald Trump.

If Robert Mueller is the gumshoe we assume him to be, we will come to know the extent to which Trump, the developer, has sold his soul to insidious outsiders.

"Follow the money" is no throw-away line when it leads, for instance, to Germany's Deutsche Bank, which over that last 20 years has loaned Trump $4 billion, necessitated largely because the Orange Scofflaw's credit had dried up on these shores.

As Vanity Fair reports, the bank has strong and seedy ties to Russia that the German government is investigating, and about which it can expect to hear from Mueller, if he hasn't called already.

Trump's simian "speak-see-hear no evil" posture on Russia's election meddling said everything. His refusal to release his taxes (being audited, he said this time last year) screams as much.

Someone has something on him.

But even Trump will acknowledge that not everything comes down to money. Often it comes down to power, and deals with any number of devils, like these:

Trump is owned by the "alt-right": That explains why he just couldn't denounce Nazi hoodlums, as his handlers wished that he would, and leave it at that.

Just as Breitbart knows that white supremacists have helped make it a player on the national scene, so, too, with Trump. Or what's a Steve Bannon for?

If the tea party is the life force of the Republican Party, the alt-right it the life force of Trumpism.

Note the absence of women at the torch-bearing marches and bullhorn symphonies of these dangerous dudes. It's Donald Trump's core support: angry white men.

Angry men like Jack Posobiec, a Trump supporter who the Washington Post theorized as being the brainchild behind a sign reading "Rape Melania" that was doctored into pictures of anti-Trump rallies. See how horrible Trump's opponents are? Ah, that fake news.

The alt-right goons are doing Trump's bidding the way goons do. Sweaty white supremacists have been foot soldiers in his quest for power. He owes them and now owns the problems they cause.

Trump is owned by the religious right: Isn't it amazing that leaders of the religious right are so silent about Trump's – well, everything? His racism. His sexism. His misogyny. His dogged dishonesty in business and in office.

Jerry Falwell Jr. was telling CNN over the weekend how this president is a man of deep beliefs. Yes, deep. So deep no one can find them.

Donald J. Trump is as alien to what Christ stood for as a brush salesman on the moon. But to the pious right he proved to be a useful ally in holding court in red-state culture wars, so he played its game. It was a Faustian twosome.

Trump held his nose and kissed preachers' rings. And the preachers held their noses as he did, glomming onto his disreputableness in their never-ending quest to order gestation by state mandate, to further stigmatize gays and lesbians, and to treat transgender individuals like mythical ogres.

So we know what motivates these neo-partisans (new term for these "evangelical leaders"). We still have no idea what Donald Trump stands for, none, except maybe what the Deutsche Bank ledger has to say.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Trump's foot was on that accelerator

Where was Sebastian Gorka to set us straight?

When a Nazi sympathizer ran down people protesting a "Unite the Right" rally in Virginia, why didn't the Trump administration have Gorka speak for it like he did when a bomb destroyed a mosque in Bloomington, Minn.?

At that time, Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, cautioned us about making assumptions. It might have been a "fake hate crime," one of a "series of hate crimes" that "turned out to actually have been propagated by the left."

You've heard of those fake hate crimes, no doubt. No?

That kind of explanation will be difficult to prosecute in Charlottesville. We know who the killer was.

Driver aside, however. We also know who stomped on the accelerator: President Trump.

He didn't drive the car. He just provided the fuel.

If you consider that an unconscionable claim, his handling of events in Charlottesville say everything.

It was an equal-opportunity abomination, he said, blaming "many sides" for what might emanate when young Nazis, Klan members and white supremacists gather to do – you know – what they do.

Then after two days and a penumbra of surrogates trying to explain away his feckless explanation, he said something that actually sounded condemnatory toward white supremacists and hard-right terrorists.

If he had condemnation in mind, he wasn't just two days late. Why didn't he say something the night before when torch-bearing white supremacists shattered the sanctum of the University of Virginia?

Let's face it. In condemning this flammable hatred, Trump is months in arrears.

Why didn't he send Gorka out to say the events in Charlottesville were concocted by the fake news media?

Then-candidate Trump, who is "very smart" – ask him -- acted dim when asked about being endorsed enthusiastically by former Klan Grand Hoo-Hah David Duke. Trump said he didn't know much about the man.

What's to know except the cone of the man's cap?

Saturday after the incident at Charlottesville, Duke sounded like he wanted Trump to send out the National Guard to protect his fellow salamanders from themselves.

"It was White Americans who put you in office," tweeted Duke to Trump in what sounded like an SOS to a blood brother.

I know that Trump apologists are going to say that "guilt by association" is an unfair slur. But, my goodness, it's not simply a matter of association when an avowed right supremacist like Steve Bannon is one of the president's most trusted advisers.

And then there's Gorka.

At Trump's inaugural ball, Gorka wore something that is stunningly symbolic of the team he was joining.

The Vitezi Rend cross signifies a group to which Gorka's father belonged and which was identified by the State Department as having collaborated with Nazis. Its members have denied or dismissed the dimensions of the Holocaust.

Fake news, you know.

This is the caliber of counsel our president has sought out. The other day when Trump made his reckless and rash statements about "fire and fury" aimed at North Korea, and when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to tamp down matters as a diplomat should, Gorka basically said Tillerson should clam and let the war mongers talk.

"The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical," said Gorka.

When Gorka had to explain himself, he blamed the "fake news industry" for putting Tillerson in a position to have to say something. Actually, we should assume Tillerson is in that position because he is secretary of state.

What a gallery of scoundrels our president has assembled, from Bannon, to Gorka, to Stephen Miller, who presumes now to speak for the Statue of Liberty about immigration. And don't forget the segregationist Trump appointed attorney general.

But when it comes to fanning the flames of race-based hatred, understand that Donald Trump can do it all by himself.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, August 6, 2017

When Trump says 'leaks,' you say 'truth'

Historians will note how Donald Trump used social media to say what he wanted -- unfiltered by media gatekeepers.

Let history note, however, that the tables have turned.

With so many insiders so willing to leak what they know, Americans are getting boatloads of damning information -- unfiltered by Trump.

Right now Trump wants us to be alarmed about leaks, as opposed to – you know, everything else about him. Here's another word for leaks: truth.

Truth about meeting with Russians peddling campaign dirt. Truth about Don Sr. covering up why Don Jr. did it.

Truth about how an oaf conducts business, like telling Russians in the Oval Office exactly why he fired James Comey – to stop an investigation.

And consider the oafishness displayed in leaked transcripts of two calls abroad.

First, and most embarrassing, was the Jan. 28 call where Trump berated Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about a matter of which our president showed no grasp (a 2016 agreement to resettle some boat-arrival refugees, each to be vetted thoroughly by our government. Trump said they were in "prison." No -- a refugee camp).

Or consider the mortifying Jan. 27 call with the president of Mexico. Despite his bluster about it, he called the border wall "the least important thing we are talking about." Politically, though, "This might be the most important," and he wanted Mexico to pay for it.

When Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto refused, Trump told him: "But you can't say that to the press. The press is going to go with that and I can't live with that."

It turns out that Trump can't live with the press, period.

After all, the press is in the truth business, and Trump is in the Trump business.

In a gesture clearly meant to regain favor with his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that in addition to ramping up investigations to find leakers, the government might file charges against reporters who share leaked information.

Sessions framed this as a matter of national security. It sounded a lot like what the Nixon administration was saying when it sought to block publication of the Pentagon Papers, which showed the shady manipulation of truth in prosecuting the Vietnam War.

The Supreme Court sided with truth and the First Amendment in 1971 when it ruled the government could not stop publications from printing information it had obtained lawfully.

Before it's over, Trump will have left Nixon in the dust, both for overall corruption and for antipathy for truth.

Fortunately, with The New York Times and The Washington Post more leading the way, the press has behaved in spectacular fashion in nudging along investigations into collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice by Trump.

Trump so wishes he could clamp down on a free press (maybe have critics terminated?)  as happens in Putinland.

He's talked about changing libel laws to make it easier for public figures to sue. That would take a constitutional amendment to overrule court precedent, but Trump knows not of what he speaks.

He should be satisfied having his own Putin-style media arm, also known as Fox News.

Unfortunately for him, Fox is losing its mojo amid its own scandals, and MSNBC, with truth-seeking superstars Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes, is on the rise.

Oh, and let's not forget Stephen Colbert, whose barbs about Trump are as hilarious as they are informative, and which have boosted him to the top of late-night ratings.

Once upon a time presidents stood for truth. Not this one. Truth is his mortal enemy.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: