Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Rs vs. the dreaded D -- demographics

            It's a race against time, and against diversity.

            For Republicans that foe was illustrated last week on stage in Miami -- brimming with Democrats running for president.

            It featured candidates of varied colors, fiery non-submissive women, a gay mayor. It represented something for which today's Republican Party isn't programmed: a world of difference.

            The Rs will protest that they have blacks and browns and quite a few women and even a smattering of gay people among them.

            The fact that Republicans can claim these things doesn't mean that they haven't made that D-word – diversity – their everyday enemy. Just look at a MAGA crowd and listen to their leader talk about "the other."

            More importantly, look at what the Supreme Court did that same week. It ruled that Republicans in power could continue to marginalize and undermine communities of diversity to make seats in Congress and the statehouse invulnerable.

            The Supreme Court will not intervene as the GOP seeks every day and in every way to negate the one-man-one-vote protections of the Voting Rights Act.

            The court will look the other way as the choices of black and brown voters are neutralized and tokenized.

            This will happen through vengeful gerrymandering and through guileful vote- suppression tactics aimed squarely at the poor and people of color.

            These clear intentions were built into the quest to include a citizenship question on the census. Reduce census participation by Latinos – the better to minimize them and under represent them.

            Texas Republicans were so dead-set on the citizenship question that they appeared willing to lose a congressional district or more even though the question would mean a population under count.

            No worry. Because gerrymandering now looms as large and destructive as ever, the district lost would be one that served those very Latino citizens.

            Right now Republicans are furiously counting all the black and brown bodies in each state they control so as to make those bodies count for less than before. 

            It really is a race against time, for this nation is getting more black and brown each day, and the Party of Trump is not.

            Throw in increasingly exasperated women and an increasingly active LGBTQ community, both segments of all colors, seeing Trumpism as a remnant of ages-old oppression.

            And then, again, there is race.

            I have said a time or two that racism, or at least racial exclusivity, will be the demise of the GOP. Now it appears that race – or the racial opportunism of gerrymandering and vote suppression, and the representative abomination that is the Electoral College -- stands to be the GOP's only means of enduring.

            It may work for a while, because GOP-controlled legislatures, not constrained by federal courts will strengthen their hand with unfair districts.

            But as said, this nation every day is becoming less like the Republican Party.

            Yes, look at that stage in Miami with all the brilliance and promise inherent.

            By the way, last week a federal judge sentenced Alex Fields Jr., a neo-Nazi, to prison for life for killing Heather Heyer when he drove his car into a crowd protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, W.Va.

            President Trump showed his true colors after that vehicular horror. He spoke of "good people on both sides." The Republican hierarchy stood mute.

            Yes, this is what it has come to. We know good people on both partisan sides of the debate about the direction of this country, but so many on one side – the Trump side -- are so focused on maintaining their political advantages that they simply cannot change what they do and say about race.

            The political science aphorism is, "Demography is destiny." The Republican Party is going all-in on how to define who they are. There's no turning back now.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, June 23, 2019

As Pride flag rises, sun sets on this bigotry

           Denver was awash in rainbows. Thousands had gathered for the annual Pride Fest, celebrating LBGTQ lives and advocating liberties.

            Jared Polis, the nation's first openly gay governor, was grand marshal.

            Among the throng: several Democrats running to take Republican incumbent Cory Gardner's U.S. Senate seat. Not among the crowd: the senator.

            Gardner wouldn't dare be there to embrace these people, his constituents -- not when soft-sell bigotry remains one of the foundational planks of the Republican Party.

            OK, there's nothing soft about it.

            Not when the Trump administration orders embassies not to fly the multi-colors of the Pride flag.

            Not when Mike Pence's cold, cold aortic structure (same-sex marriage signals "societal collapse" said he) is one beat away from the presidency.

            Not when every gesture of the Trump administration is sculpted to suit the bigoted urges of Franklin Graham and the religious right.

            Democrats in Congress have again gone to the mat on protections against discrimination by employers based on sexual orientation. Republicans in the Senate won't be playing along.

            They can't stomach human rights for human beings who are homosexual or transgender. So much for being "pro-life."

            Elizabeth Warren, the small presidential candidate with the big ideas, is promoting a law that will allow same-sex couples to amend their tax returns to get refunds for which they weren't eligible when federal law didn't recognize same-sex marriage.

            That would be a non-starter in Mitch McConnell's Senate, naturally. That just shows how tone-deaf Republican leaders are to the sea-swell of support of LGBTQ rights, particularly among young voters.

            It's why when people like McConnell are gone they will be gone for good.

            Ask around. Ask young Americans. They are so very accepting of LGBTQ rights, and of institutions like same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian adoption. It's not even an issue.

            Ultimately non-bigots will govern this country, and the religious right will stew in its corner.

            Massive Pride Month events across the country aren't the only indicator pointing to new days ahead.

            Local and national newscasts recounted the horrors that led to the Stonewall Riot 50 years ago. The protests that emerged had the feeling of Selma, Birmingham, and other heroic quests.

            PBS's stunning documentary "The Lavender Scare," recounted the Red Scare-era effort to purge the government of gays and lesbians fueled by whisper campaigns.

            Though it all seems so "back then," I well remember a few years ago in my Texas newspaper days when Republicans staged a not-so-whispery campaign that longtime bachelor, longtime Congressman Chet Edwards was gay.

            Ah, fake news. Today Edwards is happily married with two sons.

            It's sad to have to qualify a person's sexual status with facts. It's sort of like the lie that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Of course, neither claim should be considered a slur.

            Consider the mindset and how it might apply to you. If you don't think in an "approved" manner, your religion, sexual orientation or lack of children may be next up for discussion and dissection.

            Republicans once advertised themselves as having a "big tent." Actually, the first time I heard it was the 1992 GOP national convention, notorious for Pat Buchanan's horrible "family values" screed, packed with mostly anti-gay code in the early days of AIDS. It seems long ago, but the party has yet to change its stripes.

            I'm so proud that Pride Month is becoming an institution. The college at which I teach features it all over campus as I write this, pointing to activities to "fight prejudice and honor diversity." Amen.

            Ultimately those who tout discrimination against homosexuals and the transgender will face the unkind narrative that now accompanies long-ago segregationists and slave owners.

            On this count, Trump, Pence and enabling Republicans, firmly on the wrong side of history, are destined to reside in the dust with George Wallace, Lester Maddox and the Dixiecrats who made the denial of basic human rights a cause worthy of a last stand.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Trump's credibility chasm

           Ever since Donald Trump winged into Colorado to speak to the 2019 class of the Air Force Academy, I've tried to put myself in the well-shone shoes of those cadets.

            The man who spoke at their commissioning literally has their lives in his hands.

            I wonder about those cadets because in the scant weeks since they became officers, "tensions" and murkily framed events have developed that could led us to war with Iran.

            Any moment those pilots could be sent into battle based on the word of the least credible individual ever to hold his office.

            Indeed, credibility is as alien to Trump as job-shadowing a Guatemalan refugee.

            Lyndon Johnson had a "credibility gap." Trump's? A chasm? A canyon? Whatever the term, it's so wide we'd need Carl Sagan to parse it. What is a light year in rhetorical terms?

            Looking down at those Air Force cadets that May day was a face that has sailed a thousand lies – 10,796 as of June 7 according to Washington Post fact-checkers.

            He's not just a practiced prevaricator; he is the black hole of truth: a force of deceit so immense that the MAGA-netic pull swallows all light and sound.

            He asserts that Iran is being provocative in a war-like way. It may be. But can we trust the narrative of events from the source on which so many Americans have come to understand is completely untrustworthy?

            Back when Republicans tried to shoot holes in the testimony of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen – "a convicted liar" – a Quinnipiac Poll found that while 35 percent of respondents didn't believe Cohen when he called his former boss a "racist," "con man" and "cheat," 50 percent said Cohen was more trustworthy than the guy he was fingering.

            Yes, the guy with his finger on the button.

            Like a host of conservatives – from John McCain and Mitt Romney to George Will and Michael Gerson – Jennifer Rubin, author of the "Right Turn" column for the Washington Post long ago turned on Trump.

            Don't expect Rubin to buy any claim Trump makes about the situation in the Middle East.

            We have left behind, she writes, an era "in which the president and his administration generally tried to get things right, would not deliberately mislead and would voluntarily correct errors."

            Not from this president.

            With the aid of Fox News, she writes, Republican leaders "continue to enable and echo lies for fear of being at odds with Trump and his cult followers." That means you, Lindsey Graham.

            Trump's followers believed that an extenuated threat of tariffs caused Mexico to make 11th-hour concessions about how to handle the border. Reporting by the New York Times found that the arrangement had been in place for weeks while Trump milked the image of a strongman applying a vise to Mexico.

            Now we have a situation in the Gulf of Oman made out to sound like Iran is aching for a battle. Remember, however, what happened in 1964 when what was actually U.S provocation in the Gulf of Tonkin resulted in a morass that took 58,220 American lives in Vietnam.

            Speaking of a gulf: That was the width between what was real and what was advertised as pretext for invading Iraq under Bush-Cheney. How many times, and by how many players, will this nation be fooled into war?

            A fool is in charge today. We find ourselves at a place where, should the situation truly merit a military response, he who would order it is less trustworthy than someone headed to prison for lying.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Tariffs on the table (and everything else in the store)

            It's dark wood and cost $500, a figure that made my wife and I me wince.

            Then we smiled. The young couple's new dining room table showed they had graduated past second-hand stores -- and that their relationship is in its own stages of matriculation.

            For a purchase of a lifetime – it was for my wife and me -- one might say that a dining room table's price is secondary.

            It stinks, though, that President Trump stuck this young couple with something like $50 more on the purchase courtesy of his trade war with China.

            To Trump, having grown up in the gold trim of Daddy's millions, $50 is nothing.

            To most young Americans, it's real money.

            It's also a gaping chunk of what little in tax benefits they got when Republicans messed with the tax system in ways that mostly benefited paunchy billionaires and mega-corporations.

            Trump's tariffs have exacted an enormous price on society with more to come, and generally in ways few realize – higher prices for clothing, toys, household goods and just about everything one sees in the average home.

            Investment bank Cowen & Co. told the Associated Press that the cumulative cost of tariffs on Chinese goods alone could reach $100 billion.

            These sacrifices might go down easier if Trump had any FDR in him. You know: We're at war with China. Our economic survival is at stake. Collect scrap rubber and tin. Ration graham crackers. Can you rivet, Rosie?

            A truthful president might evoke citizen buy-in. Not gonna happen with this con man.

            Trump consistently has lied about the costs of his trade war. And it's his alone, as free-trade Republicans duck and scurry for their bunkers.

            One of the more embarrassing moments for this embarrassment of an administration was when Commerce Secretary Lawrence Kudlow, who has a job on Team Trump because of his show on Fox News, was forced by Chris Wallace to admit that American consumers will pay for the tariffs.

            Tariffs aren't penalties on foreigners. They are taxes on consumers -- you and me.

            Trump apologists will say that tariffs on Chinese goods simply mean that consumers and retailers will turn away from things made in China.

            (Would that Ivanka Trump did the same in the making of her footwear line. Yes: "Made in China." Her other go-to locales: Bangladesh, India, Vietnam and Indonesia.)

            One furniture retailer told Reuters he was raising prices on all of his furniture to cover the costs of the Chinese tariffs because, as he explains, "I don't have any other option. It's too hard to go through the 5,000 products I have and figure out what's from China."

            In the industry, Chinese-made goods make up 30 percent to 40 percent of furniture inventory, with the end result of Trump's tariffs with mark-ups ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent.

            Now let's go small-ticket -- as if there's any such thing for families living from paycheck to paycheck.

            Recently as Trump ordered his trade representative to begin plans for a more exhaustive set of tariffs on Chinese goods, 200 shoe retailers wrote Trump urging against them on Chinese footwear (indeed, what about Ivanka's bottom line?)

            The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of American estimates that Trump's threatened tariffs on Chinese footwear would add $7 billion in additional costs for consumers every year.

            What a fascinating dynamic it was for Trump to enact tariffs that crippled soybean growers and then offer to make it up to them with billions in assistance.

            What about the rest of us?

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Crime of the century and its beneficiary

           It wasn't "meddling." It wasn't "interference." It was "an attack" on our democracy: Robert Mueller.

            It wasn't one "400-pound guy" on a couch: Donald Trump. It wasn't "a couple of Facebook ads": Jared Kushner.

            It was a systematic operation by a foreign government that helped Trump become our president.

            Mueller has no doubt about what Russia did, and he left none when finally speaking about it.

            Trump's role in all this? Not simply to throw shade. Not simply to deflect. Not simply to spew reality-show bombast. No, his role was and is to obstruct. That's a crime.

            How different this is to hear in Mueller's gravel, not Bill Barr's Rudy Vallee falsetto.

            As Mueller implied when no one could parse his words for him – sorry, Fox News; sorry, water-carrier Lindsey Graham – the crime of obstruction is very much on the table for Congress to probe.

            Republicans know Trump did everything in his power to stop the investigation. He fired the FBI director. He pressured people to not cooperate. He lied over and over about numerous contacts with Russians, especially one in his very own high-rise in a meeting convened by his son.

            No collusion? Mueller only says that there was "insufficient evidence" to say one way or the other. That doesn't mean it didn't happen.

            The first act of clear collusion was Michael Flynn's offer to ease sanctions. Trump's effort to block the investigation of Flynn – by firing FBI director James Comey – was what begat the Mueller probe in the first place.

            By the way, anyone who assumes Trump did not know what his national security adviser-to-be was doing is gullible enough to . . . to believe anything else our liar-in-chief says.

            So Don Jr. and other key campaign officials met with a Russian contingent in Trump Tower – mere elevator dings below Mr. Big. And he didn't know about it? And he didn't poke his head in the room to talk, um, adoption? (If that wasn't the reason for the meeting, why concoct an alibi, Mr. B?)

            Then there are the questions about the info-dump by Wikileaks of criminally obtained emails at the same time that Trump was saying, "Russia, if you're listening . . ."

            Put all that aside for a moment, as Team Trump wants us to, but which Democrats in Congress should not.

            If Trump is not in cahoots with his godfather in the Kremlin, when is he going to do something about the crime that Mueller, several grand juries and our intelligence agencies ascribe to Russia?

            On several occasions he's said that President Obama should have done more about these matters. What has he done considering what we know, what he knows?

            One thing Mueller's comments should put to bed is the portrayal of the investigation in sinister tones – "spying," "Deep State" machinations. No, this was about a crime involving a foreign adversary. This is the crime of the century. Any surveillance was legal and justified.

            So, too, with the right's denunciation of "fake news" to discredit what probing media reported. As more than one analysis has pointed out, the Mueller report essentially affirmed the heroic efforts of the Washington press and all those seeking truth about this deceitful president.

            That takes us back to the crime of obstruction. We didn't need Mueller to tell us what we have seen with our own eyes. This president has done his utmost to undermine the probe.

            "When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at their government's effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable": Robert Mueller.

            If no collusion, no need for obstruction, and no need for Mueller to use his own inflection to tell Congress: I did my job. Do yours.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young live in Colorado. Email: