Sunday, December 29, 2019

Happy New Year from the Conserva-Myth Party

            In time for New Year's Eve, a big lie on a big Colorado billboard: "A Coloradan is killed every three days in a marijuana-related traffic crash," it shouts.

            Republican-dominated Weld County has deployed this demonstrable falsehood and other reefer-maddening roadside claims in a taxpayer-funded anti-pot campaign.

            It's just one more lie in a year where Republican falsehoods flew so fast they congealed in the air like a ladder of lard.

            What is it about Republicans and truth these days? They have become blood rivals.

            The head of the spear in the GOP offensive against truth is liar-in-chief Donald Trump.

            Indicative of this was a recent New York Times profile about a website often touted by Trump that, as a vessel for nothing but alt-right bilge and fabrication, was banned from Facebook and Twitter.

            Guilty as charged? Hell, yes. Indeed, pleading his case in hopes of getting back before the eyes of the scrolling multitudes via social media, the site's proprietor said he'd change.

            Is that even possible among conservatives anymore? Can they do truth? Don't think so.

            The New York Times reported on phony websites linked to the Trump re-election campaign aimed to "exploit fissures in Democratic ranks," like one labeled "Biden2020," which "hews closer to the information spread by Russian bots in 2016 than typical political messaging."

            What? Can't the party of Trump come up with its own lies? Surely we don't need to outsource those as well.

            An aside here: The Republican Party long has been good at truth-twisting. (Exhibit A: tax cuts that "pay for themselves!") I observed years ago that Republicans were just like the business shouting from its storefront "Going Out of Business Sale" from January to December.

            I have to give yesterday's Republicans at least some credit for decorum. They were more interested in receipts than anything verging on veracity, but they kept their storefront swept. Today's Republicans? Picture the guy outside the storefront accusing the fire hydrant of not speaking English. That's them.

            Today's GOP orthodoxy is whatever comes out of Trump's melon, and that's mostly lard, er, lies.

            Every time Trump opens his mouth before a hive of redcaps it's a national disgrace. His recent rant about wind turbines was a steady stream of bogus-ity from one who doesn't know what he's talking about for the benefit of those who don't want to know.

            For one instance, Trump wanted his audience to believe that wind turbines are polluters, their manufacture resulting in "tremendous" emission of "fumes and everything."

            Um, yeah. Except for their manufacture, wind turbines are virtually carbon-neutral.

            And since when did Donald Trump care at all about carbon loading? He doesn't. He's interested in is posturing himself for the coal and petro-chemical industries.

            If you call yourself a thoughtful conservative, you might consider forming another party. Today's Republican Party is not conservative but conserva-myth.

            Back to those Republican-promoted billboards about the supposed highway carnage caused by marijuana in Colorado. My wife and I both guffawed. Imagine how the target audience – teens – sees them.

            As the Denver Post reports, the claim is based on just one more debunked study. At its root is the fact that marijuana stays in the blood stream a long time, so it's not that unusual to find traces in a host of people in Colorado at any time, and therefore in a host of traffic fatalities.

            But, of course, truth doesn't matter at all to today's Republican Party. To a lot of people, like the youths looking at those ridiculous billboards, the whole conserva-myth movement has just become a joke from January to December.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Charity seize his mind? Not a ghost of a chance

            "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

            That was Ebenezer Scrooge's response to gentlemen soliciting a sliver of silver to help those whose meager fates were at the bitter mercy of the Gilded Age.

            Say what one might about Scrooge. He was no hypocrite. He didn't even pretend to model Christian values.

            Not like, say, the man glowering this holiday season from behind White House shutters. To himself, he is God's gift to Christianity, though all his life he's not even not had a window-washer's relationship with it.

            To the editors of Christianity Today, he is the great pretender – "a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused."

             In what might be called the commentary of the year, the magazine cites Trump's philandering, his shady business doings, and lies, lies, lies in calling him unfit for office. What it doesn't mention is policies harming those whom Jesus called the "least of these."

            Trump will take away health coverage from as many as he can. He will do the same with food and housing assistance.

            He will shred refugee families. He'll grin and shrug when a redhat shouts, "Shoot 'em."

            He'll dangle the futures of DACA designees and other immigrants like baubles on the White House tree.

            The greatest gift to our nation would be for him to be visited this week by a specter that imparted charity in his soul where spite now resides.

            Speaking of charity:

            Does anyone remember the tremendous stink Republicans made about the Clinton Foundation? Yes, an actual charity that actually helps people.

            Not a peep from Republicans, though -- total silence -- when a judge ordered $2 million from the Trump Foundation to go to actual charities, not to his political devices and his own aggrandizement, like $60,000 for a portrait of himself. The Bible calls that idolatry.

            Faith, hope and charity. Anyone who assumes the title "evangelical" should know which of these outweighs the other. Yet too-large numbers of self-described Christians have pledged their troth to a man who embodies privilege and avarice.

            The "moral deficiencies" Christianity Today blasts are qualities one doesn't need laser eye surgery to see.

            But let's shift our focus back from carnal sins to sinful public policy.

            The Trump administration recently trotted out rules projected to kick 700,000 Americans off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP – also known as food stamps.

            Shorthand coverage says the directive is about work requirements for this aid. But work requirements have been in place for decades. Actually, what this does is limit states' ability to ride economic down cycles by obtaining waivers when jobs are hard to find.

            Yes, most food-stamp recipients work. Sometimes the issue is finding sufficient hours at sufficient pay.

            Their harvest? A whopping $145 a month on average.

            Trump supporters will say: Well, sacrifices are necessary to get the budget in order. Sacrifices by whom? Not by the wealthiest Americans.

            And when does a sacrifice become a must-have? Some would think it's when you have to decide whether to purchase medicine or buy Ramen noodles for dinner.

            To do the bidding, tax-wise, of the wealthiest people in the history of humankind, the self-proclaimed "king of debt" has piled on $4.1 trillion to the national debt in three short years. A wonderful legacy.

            Meanwhile, Trump's spite offensive aimed at anything touched by Barack Obama continues. Job 1: to obliterate the Affordable Care Act. This without any alternative except a return to the Dickensian days when 44 million lacked health coverage.

            "Oh, but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! A squeezing, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!"

            Faith? Hope? Charity? Bah.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Monday, December 16, 2019

Mitch’s jurors: foresworn to ignore truth

           When the Senate tries Donald Trump on slam-dunk charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress, Senate Republicans will recite after Mitch McConnell:

            "I swear to ignore any and all evidence, and serve the leader of our party. Truth be damned."

            That's not the actual oath they will recite, just the thought-oath as their lips move.

            The actual oath will call on members of the Senate to consider the evidence thoughtfully and objectively.

            But they don't want evidence, based on the breeze-thru process (Wash? Wax?) McConnell says he will direct. All he wants is a brisk end to the inconvenience of Donald Trump's impeachment.

            They want to send a message to this president that it doesn't matter what he does in office as long as he signs on to tax cuts, and a Supreme Court and courts system Republicans can rig.

            That's been the message all along. I heard Sen. Lindsey Graham say that if Robert Mueller came up with anything objectionable he'd have considered the matter serious. Mueller came up with at least 10 instances of obstruction by Trump that a raft of prosecutors said were indictable.

            Graham simply heard what he wanted – that Mueller was prevented from indicting Trump himself.

            Republicans like Graham and "Moscow Mitch" chose not to hear Mueller say that instances of Russia's attack on our elections to aid Trump were "multiple" and "systematic." Mitch and the gang cupped their ears. Why? Of course with an assist to Russia and, of course, the Electoral College.

            And now we have the Ukraine matter and the dizzying effort to make us believe what our eyes, ears and all mental faculties tell us to be true:

            Our president attempted to bribe the Ukrainian president into providing politically damaging theatre to help Trump's re-election. Yes, inviting more foreign involvement in our election system.

            I said "our" eyes tell us these things are true. That means all Republicans – every one of them. They simply don't care.

            When this all first came down in September I posed this question to Trump supporters:

            "When suspicions first were raised, did the man you helped elect sound like someone who pressured the president of a foreign country to investigate the son of a political opponent?

            "Ah hah. You nodded your head. Ever so slightly, you did.

            "Or maybe you said, 'Hell, yeah.'"

            All about second- and third-hand information? Not at all.

            We see the president's own words, "I would like you to do us a favor . . ." This while $400 million in armaments to fight Russian invaders and pro-Russia separatists dangles before the eyes of Ukraine's new president.

            No, it wasn't just one phone call, either. As Congressman Adam Schiff pointed out, "It was neither the start nor the end" of the matter. Trump's own ambassador to the European Union said so, and stressed there was in fact that quid pro quo Trump says was never in play.

            McConnell and Senate Republicans don't want to hear it.

            But this crime – bribery is what bribery does – is only the half of it.

            The other half, impeachment-wise, is Trump's ignoring the law and blocking oversight by Congress -- a continuation of the obstruction to which Mueller pointed: a criminal pattern performed in plain sight.

            Schiff, whom history books will record is a hero in this sorry episode, laid out what this is all about on behalf of the House Intelligence Committee.

            He said our country's relationship with Ukraine can be repaired. However, unless Trump is sanctioned for his actions, our system of checks and balances will not.

            "Any future president will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three."

            Trump supporters cannot deny this. And they couldn't care less.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Monday, December 9, 2019

Is it about self-government, or just uniforms?

            I've seen that blank look from someone who doesn't know football.

            "I don't follow it. Don't understand the rules -- just teams in different uniforms."

            I see the same look these days from some about impeachment.

            "I don't follow it. Don't understand it. Just two parties going at it."

            Just parties. Two sets of uniforms. Just a game.

            Yep, that describes it -- like, oh, just armies on the black sands of Iwo Jima, on the rolling Gettysburg terrain. Who understands that war stuff?

            Then again: A whole bunch of us are quite versant on football: stats, personnel, schedule. Ask for the depth chart of that favorite team.

            But politics? Governing? A whole bunch of the same people quickly say they're out of their depth.

            With wonder, social commentator Noam Chomsky has observed people discussing sports with "quite a high degree of thought and analysis. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it's at a level of superficiality that's beyond belief."

            Most often when one hears the claim, "I don't keep up with that stuff" when the stuff is politics, the follow-up response is that the person doesn't trust politicians, any of 'em, and the two major parties are one and the same.

            Easy to say for one who doesn't keep up with that stuff.

            One and the same? Yes. And Ohio State and Appalachian State are in the same conference.

            Never in my memory have the two parties been so distinct.

            The Republican Party has chained itself to the ankles of a lumbering agent of chaos who tweets like a second-grader, flaunts ethics and can't spell "accountability."

            The Democratic Party increasingly is earning its stripes as a reflection of a diverse nation, not just with people of color but people of varied sexual orientation.

            To get the GOP nomination and hold the South, Donald Trump, a one-time adherent of abortion rights and gay rights, decided against both.

            The Democratic Party remains the vanguard on behalf of both.

            Trump, who at one time said he supported universal health care, has been devoted as president, along with his Republican foot soldiers, to yanking health coverage out from under millions.

            From FDR through LBJ to Obama and Pelosi, the Democratic Party has been a foe of a philosophy that treats proper health care as a hood ornament.

            Trump and the Republicans, harping all the way about the deficit, in 2017 mortgaged the future to award tax cuts to people who didn't need them. And look now – a deficit that dwarfs that left behind by Trump's predecessor.

            Republicans talk a good game about budget austerity, but they are far more inclined to award themselves tax benefits, leaving the balance of payments and debits further out of whack.

            Again, the differences between the parties could not be more glaring. And so it is with the impeachment proceedings.

            Trump was caught using military aid to bribe a foreign nation under siege by Russian forces and Trump BFF Vladimir Putin. The Republican defense of this outrage has been a ground blizzard of obfuscation.

            Americans are entitled to focus on Sunday's game or Macy's balloons. They are entitled to think the impeachment process is "just politics."

            But they can't say these things don't matter. Those who assailed Iwo's beaches and sprawled across Gettysburg's fields didn't.

            As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, "As soon as any man says of the state, 'What does it matter to me?' the state may be given up for lost."

            Sure, but what did Rousseau have to say about football games lost?

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Gleam in Rick Perry's eyes: King Trump

           Soon-to-be-outta-here Energy Secretary Rick Perry has certainly changed his take.

            A couple of years ago he labeled Donald Trump a "cancer on conservatism" and called on fellow conservatives to "excise" it. Now that cancer is divine.

            All praise. He says he's told Trump: "Absorb that you are here at this chosen time because God ordained it."

            Perry talks in terms of royalty, comparing Trump to ancient kings – "Old Testament kings," no less.

            Perry is free to be frothy. However, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's job is to stay sober. Trump's efforts to dodge all accountability, the federal judge wrote: "Presidents are not kings."

            But you see, today's Republican Party frantically begs to differ. Trump is king. Like Johnny Carson -- king of late night. Like Tarzan -- king of jungle.  Like Pablo Escobar -- king of cocaine.

            Today's Republican Party has chosen the Pablo Escobar model. There can be no other explanation. Trump simply is above the law.

            Once upon a time, by remarkable numbers Republicans, rejected this.

            Republicans in Congress came to acknowledge that Richard Nixon abused his power and committed removable offenses. It was they who convinced him to step aside.

            Today's Republicans are of another mind. No amount of evidence will sway them. Their man is immune from inquiry, immune from sanction, immune from the law.

            The "partisan witch hunt" they decry started with a dogged, snail's-pace investigation by a stodgy Republican careerist, Robert Mueller, whose report identified 10 indictable offenses – and that was just about obstruction of justice, not colluding with Russians and Wikileaks, which the Trump campaign clearly did.

            Now the focus is a political shakedown of Ukraine, extorting a political favor with our tax dollars. We don't need Bob Mueller to tell us this is indictable -- that is, any of us who can read a telephone transcript.

            Witness after witness in the House hearings has affirmed he or she heard what our eyes told us.

            None of that matters to those who see things the Rick Perry way, the Lindsey Graham way.

            Graham said if he believed an actual quid pro quo was demanded of the Ukraine with those tax dollars, he might support impeachment. That he is leading point for the Trump defense in the Senate can only means Graham was wearing sound-limiting headphones when European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland said for all of the rest of us to hear, "Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes."

            Ask Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and know that nothing Escobar – er, Trump – has done with Ukraine would merit his conviction in the Senate, no matter how much evidence mounts against Pablo -- er, our king.

            As for Republicans in the House, they know as well as the rest of us that Trump abused his power in extorting Ukraine. They are simply gutless.

            On this inquiry, says Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., "Many of my Republican colleagues have tremendous courage in the elevator on the way to the second floor where the House is and somehow leave that courage behind when they walk onto the floor of the House."

            The most amazing claim is that Trump is not getting a fair hearing.  He and his team have every opportunity to set the record straight, even produce witnesses, but are seeking to run out the clock by refusing to participate and diverting attention to Hunter Biden.

            This is where Judge Jackson inserted herself to rule that Trump's people cannot ignore subpoenas in a constitutionally authorized procedure: impeachment.

            So, whom or what will win the day? King Trump or the Constitution?

            God ordained Trump to be our burden? OK, then God also ordained Nancy Pelosi to impeach him.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Got to get me one of those sweet-potato detectors

            I'll take my shoes off to that.

            Whatever the Transportation Security Administration wishes to do. Done.

            Strip search. Check. Mouth scraping. Check. Hair sample. While it lasts.

            I'll surrender all fluids. Body scan? I'll stretch out on the conveyor and slide along with the tennis rackets.

            Some say today's airport procedures are excessive and invasive. Not me.

            Some say it's silly to shed footwear 18 years after one person tried to blow up a plane with explosives in his shoes.

            I say, "Where do I shed? What else do I remove?"

            Continually, we hear about dangerous things that would get onto a plane were it not for TSA's diligence.

            Like Kevin Bacon's sweet potato.

            It didn't pass security. Agents at the Los Angeles airport caught it before it became airborne.

            And a nation breathed a triumphant sigh.

            Bacon told Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" the sweet potato was in his bag for eating at his next stop.

            Bacon is not to be trusted. What was his true intent? Sweet potatoes are not for eating.

            I have done extensive research into this -- this eating thing.

            I ate sweet potatoes once. Once.

            That tongue sounded the lights, the alarm -- half a century ago -- a sinewy orange mass having infiltrated my once-inviolable defenses.

            I had fended off turnips, and all sorts of greens. I had turned away cauliflower and varied cruciferous agents.

            But I was duped that Thanksgiving -- by the goodwill at the table, the smiles, the joyous sharing, the construction-paper pilgrim hats.

            On that day of communal celebration, my sense of homeland security had left me vulnerable.

            Never more would it happen. Not when a co-worker attempted to make me think that a sweet potato pie he'd delivered to me was pumpkin. Not with any number sweet-potato entreaties portrayed as tasty and nutritious.

            Never more. I would commit myself to speaking truth across the land, especially with all the duping done on Thanksgiving.

            The years have gone by, and I have not ceased the lonely crusade I started in print sometime back when the '80s were new.

            My children have heard me preach the message. My wife has been devoted to my dining dictum. For years my home was secure from this terror.

            Then a few years ago a young lady who had earned a son's invite to Thanksgiving dinner showed up with – I struggle to wrap my mind around it:

            Sweet potatoes.

            Suddenly, right there at my dinner table, a full-blown revolt took place. "Um. Good. Pass that over, please." "Delicious."

            Orange with fury, I couldn't say a thing. My wife shot steely glances to preempt any insult to our guest. Under duress, I feigned placidity.

            Back to Kevin Bacon and his sweet potato. TSA's gallant act of stopping it before it went up in the air harks back to one of the (decades of) commentaries in which I explained that sweet potatoes may have good uses, just not to eat.

            George Washington Carver, I wrote, showed that without serving the role of food, sweet potatoes could serve mankind -- toward the manufacture of ink, or plastic, or makeup. All hail him.

            I wrote also that sweet potatoes could serve as effective weapons when dropped from above or flung at an enemy.

            So, then, what exactly was Kevin Bacon planning to do up there at 35,000 feet?

            All I can say is if airport security wants me to empty my luggage and take off my size 12s, indeed remove all of my garments, to prove I am not bearing tubers that could harm so many, I will.

            As for those TSA sweet-potato detectors, I'll check online to see if one can be purchased for home security.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Truth is not in this man's repertoire

            The front-page teaser read:

            "Did Trump lie to Robert Mueller?"

            The mind reacted:

            What? Does Mueller have a television? Internet access?

            Does Mueller have ears? Can he compute linguistic signals?

            If any of the above, Trump lied to him just as he has lied to you.

            Mueller is a citizen of the United States – the employer of the at-will employee in the White House. If you are a citizen as well, whether sensory-deprived, illiterate, brain-damaged or cut off from all reality by design, you have been lied to by Trump. Daily.

            To know this, all one has to do is listen.

            The legal question "Did Trump lie?" in this case is whether he did so in written responses to Mueller about impeachable acts regarding Russia's attack on our elections.

            Of course he did.

            How do we know those actions are impeachable and his defense is built on lies?

            Simply because Trump has refused to participate in any evidence-gathering by which truthful words would clear him. Instead, he has sought to obstruct at every turn. If he were clean, in the vernacular of villains, he would come clean.

            Democrats are seeking the grand jury transcripts about what Trump told Mueller about his dealings with long-time partner-in-slime Roger Stone.

            Trump says he had no contact with Stone when the latter was in communication with Wikileaks regarding stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee.

            Ah, but Trump's Svengali of intrigue, Steve Bannon, has testified that Stone apprised the campaign of "potential releases of damaging material" courtesy of Wikileaks.

            If you believe Trump knew nothing about this, you believe Kool-Aid is milked from unicorns.

            The same pastel of fantasy accompanies Trump's claim that he knew nothing about a certain pre-election meeting in Trump Tower involving his son, son-in-law, campaign manager and a Russian delegation.

            We are to believe, according to unicorn talk, that while this meeting was going on, candidate Trump hung out a few floors above it all, fashioning skyscrapers with paper clips.

            Not a chance. With Trump's relationship with the truth, know he was there from "Welcome" to "Dasvidaniya."

            On to the most recent torrent of lies, portrayed in the large black letters in grade-school script that supposedly tell us what Trump wanted from Ukraine in exchange for military funds appropriated from Congress.

            Congressman Adam Schiff said it: This wasn't, as Vice President Pence said, about investigating corruption in Ukraine: "That is not anti-corruption. That is corruption."

            We are left with a coterie of large-eyed, short-legged political chameleons hustling back and forth with color-changing arguments to make us all not believe our own eyes and ears.

            Watergate reporting legend Carl Bernstein, who knows a thing or two about lies in high places, calls Trump "untruthful in ways and to an extent that had never been dreamed."

            Bernstein didn't intend those words to reflect solely on the liar-in-chief.

            Said Bernstein, "There is very little interest in the truth by the president's Republican defenders," a matter, he said, that will haunt the party "for many, many years."

            It's soggily ripe to hear the Republicans say that Trump is getting a raw deal – "not a fair hearing," "kangaroo-court," etc. – when Trump has blocked from testifying many who might illuminate us if any of them could speak truth.

            He also could step to the microphone (and take an oath) any moment he desires.

            The problem, of course, is that he simply cannot do that – truth, that is. He is congenitally without moral footing.

            Speaking of footing: Those feet got him out of the draft. They're not getting him out of an impeachment trial.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: