Sunday, December 27, 2020

2020: a petri dish of dumb

            It's the quote of the year, or the last four.

            Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore' described the matter as "operating on a level of stupid I have never seen before."

            It wasn't just stupid, he said. It was "super stupid."

            So, which of the following was it?

            (A) Not finding a moment in a half dozen phone conversations to ask Vladimir Putin about bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan;

            (B) Downplaying the immense likelihood of a massive Russian hack of U.S. systems;

            (C) Mulling martial law to overturn the 2020 election.

            Answer: Honore' was reacting to "C" – but we can assume any number of military brass said as much about "A" and "B."

            Donald Trump said he wasn't considering martial law after Michael Flynn suggested it in an interview. Oh, yeah, then why was Flynn in the White House talking up the idea?

            A level of stupid not seen before? Sorry, General, but we've endured code-red levels of dumb over four calendar sweeps, and not just from the soon-to-vacate man in the White House. He's just the super-stupid spreader.

            Trump wants to blame China for the devastation wrought in this land because of COVID-19. No, considering how the virus has ravaged this country as opposed to others, the only rightful agent is willful ignorance.

            Forget the spreader potential of this or any virus. The year 2020 showed the far greater contagiousness of stupidity.

            Unfortunately, we cannot close our borders from that.

            Our health-care providers did heroic and amazing things this year against what has cultivated in a petri dish of ignorance.

            In that germ farm, rumor and preconceptions are the agents of infection; social media and agenda-driven broadcasters are the spreaders. It helps also to have a self-obsessed serial liar as president.

            Trump, the man entrusted with our safety and health, stood on a White House balcony in October -- after his own hospitalization with the virus -- and proclaimed, "It's going to disappear. It's disappearing."

            Trump made the same claim or a variant of it 38 times as people continued to suffer and die.

            Compatriots in Trumpian spin have been just as ignorant.

            "It's just a common cold, folks," said Rush Limbaugh in February. Right now an American dies of the virus every 33 seconds. Tell us again it's no big deal.

            Texas Republican Louie Gohmert cavalierly walked the halls of Congress without a mask, even escorting over 100 school children on tour. His staff members said he berated them for wearing masks. Then he contracted the virus. Then he said masks might have caused it. Then he got re-elected.

            What's the chief cause of the devastation, Louie? People like you.

            Texas mega-preacher John Hagee stuck to the Trumpian script and downplayed the virus. Then he got it and spent 15 days in the hospital with double pneumonia.

            On the side of reason and rightful inquiry, Congressman James Clyburn, D-S.C., has subpoenaed Trump administration officials to respond to allegations that they pressured the Centers for Disease Control to alter data and reframe safety precautions in politically palatable ways.

            This is the kind of inquiry to which a new Congress should commit itself. Call these hucksters back to explain themselves. Our health infrastructure never again should be a tool of science-denying fools and charlatans.

            Meanwhile, Republicans seek to seed chaos with absurd claims that Democrats "stole" the election from Trump.

            Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered $1 million to anyone who could provide proof of Democrat voter fraud to help make the case. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has put in Pennsylvania's chit for $3 million, having found three people – all Republicans – voting multiple times.

            Pay up, Mr. Patrick.

            A resolution for 2021, America. Let's resolve to no longer make it profitable to be dumb.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Monday, December 21, 2020

My lawsuit against Texas


John Young, plaintiff,

vs. State of Texas, defendant.

Filed in: Court of Public Opinion, United States

            Plaintiff John Young brings forth the following:

            Plaintiff is a resident of the United States, Planet Earth.

            Defendant is one of those United States, same planet.

            In December of 2020, pursuant to the personal whims of its attorney general and a just-defeated president for whom said attorney general offered his services as a lackey, Defendant filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court against the system called democracy. A unanimous court found it to be 100 percent horse hockey.

            Pursuant to this legal outrage, Plaintiff brings forth the following counts:

            That Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and co-plaintiffs engaged the highest court in the land with a frivolous complaint as a political favor to a president who lost the election by 7 million votes and refuses to acknowledge that fact. Materially significant, four years into his disastrous term, this president refuses to acknowledge just about any fact at all.

            That by giving him the keys to the state's civil justice mechanism, Texas and its voters have inflicted Ken Paxton on all U.S. citizens through said frivolous litigation.

            That by enlisting 126 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives in this frivolous suit, Paxton, acting as an agent of Defendant and of a desperate out-going president, managed to pull Congress into this mud puddle.

            That Paxton has his own legal troubles – having had some of his own employees file complaints against him alleging crimes including bribery.

            That while he was suing to overturn our democracy, Paxton was served by FBI agents with a subpoena over those very matters.

            That Paxton remains under indictment on a 2015 case alleging securities fraud.

            That Paxton and his co-plaintiffs in the horse-hockey suit against democracy were completely fine with election results in the states that awarded their electors to Donald Trump.

            That Paxton and his co-plaintiffs instead sought to toss out the results in the presidential race in four key swing states that awarded decisive electors to Joe Biden.

            That though Paxton and his co-plaintiffs alleged, without any evidence whatsoever, that the election in Georgia, the one in Michigan, the one in Wisconsin and the one in Pennsylvania each was a hot mess, their suit against democracy failed to acknowledge that in those same states 18 Republicans won races for Congress. Apparently those elections were fair and accurate.

            In sum, Paxton and co-plaintiffs sought to disenfranchise 10.4 million voters relative to one elected office alone, based on the whiny-pants tantrum of an incumbent of that office.

            Defendant – Texas – has failed to protect the general public, including Plaintiff, from irresponsible litigators like Ken Paxton by electing him twice despite clear evidence of all that Ken Paxton is and will be.

            Pertaining to the matter of legal standing, Plaintiff was a resident of Texas for 25 years during which he paid taxes that helped provide for the attorney general's office and thereby Ken Paxton's means of filing frivolous lawsuits. Plaintiff also is a citizen of the nation that benefits from the democracy that Paxton and co-plaintiffs seek to dynamite.

            Pertaining to any allegation that mine is a frivolous lawsuit unto itself, anyone who sent Ken Paxton to Washington to represent Texas in a suit against democracy can just zip it.

            Defendant – Texas -- has failed to act responsibly in keeping someone like Ken Paxton in office, therefore making Texas liable for civic negligence. Civil law is based on the "reasonable man" standard. Ken Paxton is not that. Therefore Plaintiff's suit alleges one count of negligence by Defendant for having him on its payroll.

            Though living in another time zone, Plaintiff suffered immense pain and suffering at the sight of Ken Paxton convening with the loser of the 2020 presidential election, seeking to invalidate America's system of self-government.

            For compensatory relief, Plaintiff seeks (1) to have Defendant remove Ken Paxton at the soonest possible opportunity, and (2) to award Plaintiff, from a smoked-meat purveyor of his designation: one hot-link-and-brisket plate, dill pickles, sliced onion, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, Texas toast, extra barbecue sauce.

            And a tall Dr Pepper.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Monday, December 14, 2020

On vaccines, predictably, two lines form

            Sign me up; pump me up – that sweet, biotech nectar.

            Anyone uneasy with it, step aside.

            As my wife has remarked, oh, 10,000 times over the last nine quarantined months, the fact that many won't take the shot for COVID-19 means a vaccine sooner for us so that our family can be one again.

            With the approval of the first vaccine on our shores, two debates: (1) who should get it first; (2) why anyone should take it at all.

            That so many say they'll refuse vaccination is alarming. Just like all the other forms of dogged denial in this pandemic, it means extenuated suffering, more time before "normal" defines our lives.

            We can see how this resistance is established. It's embedded in Alexander Pope's line, "A little bit of learning is a dangerous thing."

            Too many people have the means of finding, through Google or one's chosen forum, just enough to affirm their suspicions.

            In 1954 during the polio epidemic, when some people said we should trust herd immunity instead of a vaccine, a double-blind study of 1.8 million children came out with clear-cut results:

            Vaccinated, children dodged the disease. Unvaccinated, life and limbs were at risk.

            I can't imagine what grief and guilt visited parents who rolled the dice against those odds.  

            Whatever he might say today or tomorrow, Donald Trump was an early anti-vaxer – tweeting back in 2014 about vaccines and autism with the clinical discernment of one who argues with fire hydrants.

            Today Trump is pro-vaccine, apparently, except that he thinks "big Pharma" held up good news for after his defeat at the polls.

            Know that he can convince one-third of Americans about that very thing.

            This points to what outgoing Republican Virginia Congressman Denver Riggleman called a "contagion of disinformation" besetting the nation.

            Trump will be ex-president shortly, but he will continue to be royalty. Refer to him henceforth as Donald, Archduke of Dishonesty.

            It's encouraging to see former presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton volunteering to be vaccinated publicly. To conquer this pandemic, we need role models, not a lame-duck president who refuses to admit he lost the election.

            While acknowledging that, per normal, Americans are divided on vaccination, the other debate is over who should get vaccinated first.

            In Colorado a tempest was stirred when state health department guidelines put prison inmates ahead of the general public (but behind critical workers and nursing home residents) for vaccinations.

            This gave Republicans, led by former attorney general candidate George Brauchler, a cue to demagogically denounce Gov. Jared Polis for, I guess, coddling criminals.

            (Republicans only coddle criminals who worked for Trump.)

            Polis, a Democrat, quickly distanced himself from the guidelines. That was unfortunate. With their vulnerability to the virus and in our custody, of course we should vaccinate them promptly. They cannot quarantine in their homes.

            As expected, other issues have proved thorny, such as who else should be at the front of the line.

            Colorado firefighters have complained that the state guidelines don't have them in the same priority group as hospital workers, an egregious oversight.

            These are crucial judgment calls. I want a vaccine, but I want to see checkers at the supermarket get it first – meatpackers, K-12 teachers, restaurant works, anyone who works in a hospital and anyone who continues to punch a time clock amid this pandemic.

            I want mine. You bet I do. I want you to have yours, too.

            Then we can all high-five – OK, elbow bump -- some bright morning in 2021.

            Unfortunately because of the line some have drawn against vaccines, even when we do it will be too soon to ditch the mask.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, December 6, 2020

We're already attending Biden's inauguration

           So what is the defiant deviant in the White House doing these days?

            Nothing at all to stem wave upon wave of new COVID infections, not even to acknowledge the human suffering or the waking nightmare of health professionals.

            Nothing to exhort miserly party brethren to help millions of Americans dangling on twin ledges of eviction and hunger.

            The only thing Donald Trump is doing is spewing falsehoods like a water weasel. In other words, nothing has changed since he took office one harsh January day.

            This presidency never was about serving us. It was about serving Donald Trump. Now, in defeat, Trump's central motive is to tend the cult he cultivated.

            In the process, he's pocketing millions of dollars from the terminally gullible who think they can blow up the election that took him down.

            That cult is so deranged that Trump's worshippers can't do simple electoral math, so addled that adherents would look any way other than the evidence that the man disciples venerate is a con and crook.

            Meanwhile, Joe Biden already is doing the job that more than 80 million taxpayers expect: hiring experienced and principled people, laying out policies with long-range and short-range considerations in mind.

            We should cease calling Biden president-elect. From the moment the skyrockets lit the sky to signal his win, Biden has been president-in-effect.

            Donald Trump has ceased being our president. Until he finds another home, he is our maleficent foster child.

            "Will he won't he" talk of his attending Biden's inauguration is the most pointless matter imaginable. Let him do what he wants. Let him sulk away his last hours in the White House among the dead presidents. Let him share aerosols with his red-cap arm.

            If he ever honored the terms of his employment, Trump has relinquished his station with his actions since the election. Prince Edward VIII abdicated his royalty for the love of a woman. Trump had abdicated for love of what he sees in the mirror.

            Joe Biden has bigger things on which to focus. Last week he spoke to Americans about what can and should be done to address the ravages of the pandemic on the economy.

            Meanwhile Trump spoke via staged video about how this thing called democracy had robbed him of four more years serving himself. (Washington Post: "Trump campaign groups spent $1.1 million at Trump properties in last days of re-election bid.")

            Biden hired Anthony Fauci to help steer the nation to safer waters amid today's deadly swells.

            Trump, meanwhile, can't even keep his as-seen-on-Fox-News pandemic adviser for the remaining gasps of his presidency.

            Biden prodded lawmakers to make a pandemic relief package happen.

            Trump threatened to veto the defense authorization bill without irrelevant-to-defense rule changes he wants in his war with Twitter. Yeah, that's a big issue facing this nation.

            In her book, "Leadership in Turbulent Times," Doris Kearns Goodwin cites empathy as the central characteristics of great leaders like Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Americans have elected a man in Joe Biden who exudes empathy and models the kind of dignity that made others heroes for their countrymen.

            For the last four years we have had a president who exhibits the clinical signs of narcissistic personality disorder: "excessive need for admiration, disregard for others' feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement."

            Many Republicans have ashen faces over the possibility that in Georgia the cult Trump has established is more interested in massaging his ego and abiding by his conspiracy rants than the crucial battle for control of the U.S. Senate with the two run-offs there.

            It would be just like him to let political allies go down the drain if he can't have the White House for another term.

            Which he can't. In word and deed – leadership -- Joe Biden is already inaugurated.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Free to pray, free to spray?

            It's a busy season at Trump's Pardon Workshop.

            So many felonious enablers, so little time.

            Add to them MAGA loony-pants Raymond Deskins, 61, of Sterling, Va.

            Deskins, wearing a Trump-headed floaty around his sumo-sized waist, huffed and puffed on two women protesting outside the president's Virginia Golf Course.

            The Loudon County Sheriff's Office has charged him with assault.

            What? For breathing?

            That's exactly right. Unfortunately it's only a misdemeanor.

            I wish the authorities where I live in Colorado would prosecute a man on similar grounds. The offender in question was among an anti-mask, pro-Trump group gathered at the Larimer County Courthouse posing and preening for the viewing enjoyment of those hand-delivering their mail-in ballots.

            As voters in masks did their citizenly duties, one red-clad protester consciously turned and coughed on them. He was having a grand time. He should be eating jail food.

            Someone behind the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., should be wearing diagonal stripes. An analysis of the event's contagion found it spread to 20 states and infected at least 300 people.

            Of course, those numbers are from early November. In COVID terms, a month is a year.

            Right now the Dakotas are among the most heavily impacted states. The Sturgis Rally surely has the silver medal for root causes, the gold cinched by Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

            Republicans continue to demonstrate that they are mostly fine with the death and destruction from this pandemic.

            Observe the ruling by a Supreme Court newly weighted toward the religious right against restrictions on houses of worship in New York.

            If any institution should be able to get through this disruptive moment, it is a church. What the hell did God make Zoom for, anyway?

            None other than the Jehovah's Witnesses have pronounced that keeping parishioners safe, and saving strangers in ways other than front-door encounters, is what the Lord commands.

            Instead of knocking on doors, the Witnesses are sending letters and making phone calls. Annoying, yes. Contagious, no.

            "As people who care for other people and especially their well-being, you can't be spreading something else than the good news," one Witness leader told the Denver Post.

            This brings us to Donald Trump and his continued criminal negligence about the pandemic. As of this writing, 45 people in Trump's orbit -- including him, his wife, two of his sons, his chief of staff, and the presumed humanoid known as Kellyanne "Alternative Facts" Conway, has got it.

            (As carpenter Gepetto exclaimed when Pinocchio came to life, catching the germ makes Kellyanne "a real girl!")

            None of this matters to Trump. None of the people sickened by his super-spreader events. None of the families left to mourn and to deal with long-term health effects of the virus.

            Reportedly he will host in-house holiday gatherings in the White House.

            Here we go a-dropletting among the leaves so green.

            Here we go a-dropletting, our germs cannot be seen.

            In Thanksgiving comments, as if we asked for them, Trump effectively urged Americans to ignore CDC recommendations and gather in traditional ways.

            Par for the (golf) course for a hypocrite who exhibits the piety of a fire hydrant, Trump tossed in "houses of worship" for those gatherings. Why should he care? Churches only are for exterior photo-ops -- once pepper balls have cleared protesters.

            So for now we are left with a leader who flouts the evidence, and supporters who think it's a game.

            Back during the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 50 million worldwide and 657,000 at home, some cities imposed no-spitting ordinances and signs appeared on streetcars warning, "Spit means death."

            Today as before, it's not hard to find people who spread lies and promulgate stupidity about a killer contagion. They don't give a spit.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

That other heinous orange matter

            Momentarily you'll forgive me for assuming, incorrectly, that Stacey Abrams had joined my cause.

            With Thanksgiving approaching, regular readers of this column can understand why I misread her intentions when I heard the Democratic dynamo say something about "orange putrescence" in an MSNBC interview.

            I thought, "Hell, yes; a big-hitter has joined my informational campaign about sweet potatoes."

            False hope: "Orange putrescence" was instead her descriptive term for the soon-to-be-leaving occupant of the Oval Office.

            Abrams has a lot on her plate, having just helped turn Georgia blue. Maybe after she helps Georgia flip the Senate, she can ply her campaign magic to help get my informational campaign about sweet potatoes over the top.

            I call it informational because my political enemies have mislabeled it as a campaign against sweet potatoes.

            Wrong. The only thing I'm against is eating them.

            I'm not prejudiced against sweet potatoes. It's my tongue's inclination. It tried to escort sweet potatoes down my gullet once. It bailed. That was enough for a lifetime.

            I'm as pro-sweet potato as anyone you've ever met as long as the orange matter is used for good, not steaming evil.

            Sweet potatoes have immense non-food use. I've saluted many through the years. Ink. Plastic. Ethanol. Rouge. Lighter fluid.

            Hence, it was wholly uncalled for when, after I extolled the non-food virtues of the tuber in one of decades' worth of seasonally informational commentaries, I got a letter from the executive director of the United States Sweet Potato Council. In several well-chosen lines, he told me to quit it.

            I won't do that, not when every year I see troubling recipes attempting to rationalize and disguise sweet potatoes as food.

            There – staring at me from the corkboard above my desk: "slow-cooker curried sweet potato soup with coconut and kale." Good gosh.

            There – "whipped sweet potatoes and bananas with honey." The recipe employs bread crumbs, butter, pecans and apparently the absence of any sense of taste or smell.

            There – "sweet potato dessert fries." Ingredients: chocolate-hazelnut sauce, powdered sugar, whipped topping, walnuts. This abomination is served at Chicago's Guaranteed Rate Field, where the White Sox play ball. What a desecration of America's pastime.

            Usually at this point someone attempts to say that all that stuff slathered on sweet potatoes is wholly unnecessary. All they need, goes the assertion, are butter and 425 degrees.

            Usually at this point someone attempts to espouse that sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients. So is tree bark.

            All of these claims would be defensible if sweet potatoes could be eaten, but in fact they cannot.

            No mobilization of marshmallows will acquit them.

            This is a different Thanksgiving, a scaled-down Thanksgiving, though we have good reason for thanks. Heading the list: The most corrupt, least worthy leader of this land is soon to depart.

            With all those voters – 80 million-plus – seeing the light regarding the orange squatter in the White House, maybe now more of them will see the light regarding the orange, sinewy mass that masquerades as a side dish.

            Stacey Abrams, let us collaborate.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Staging a sabotage of voters' rights

            Herold. Azterodt. Mudd. Powell. Arnold.

            Move aside.

            Make room for company.

            Giuliani. Graham. McConnell. Cruz. Bannon.

            For those whose American history lessons have expired, that first bunch was convicted of a plot to facilitate the act of a charismatic assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

            The second bunch of plotters?

            They are following a similar actor.

            Instead of taking out one person as Booth did with this derringer, today's conspirators seek to blow up democracy itself.

            Lincoln was elected by American voters to guide them through a tragically tumultuous era. Joe Biden was elected to end one.

            Observe Donald J. Trump and fellow plotters as they seek to keep the tumult going, to subvert the will of those voters.

            For a day or two it appeared that it was just a pout -- Trump's "delusions about the vote count," in the Washington Post's phrasing. The Post quoted one GOP strategist observing that Trump wanted a "participation trophy" and shortly would be done with his histrionics.

            No. This wasn't about delusions. This was about a calculated plot against America and anyone who ever voted.

            It's a plot against U.S. fighting forces bellying across the beaches of Anzio and the black sands of Iwo Jima.

            It's a plot against paratroopers, faces painted black, air-dropping into the Ardennes woods.

            What Trump and his schemers now attempt is an assault and an insult.

            It's an assault on our singularly defining institution: the vote. It's an insult to the amazing volunteers who made the 2020 election (how possible?) proceed with stunning dispatch.

            Trump appeared the early morning of his extenuated whipping to express shock at how late-coming numbers had eviscerated his red mirage advantage.

            The performance was a Trump-stylized masterpiece.

            Trump knew exactly what was coming down and what he would do next in an effort to counteract the voters' verdict on him.

            Reporting in the New York Times lays it out: "the culmination of a years-long strategy by Trump to use the power of the executive branch, an army of lawyers, the echo chamber of conservative news media and the obedience of fellow Republicans to try out his most audacious exercise in bending reality: to turn losing into winning."

            John Heilemann explained as much on MSNBC. In October Steve Bannon told him all about the political heist planned by Team Trump to sabotage the election results.

            This involved appealing to Republican-led legislatures to overturn voters' verdict and choose their own electors.

            This involved turning to the Trump-seeded Supreme Court to adjudicate any close call.

            The problem for Trump, of course, is that the election wasn't close. By his own 2016 boast, it's a landslide

            Hence, we aren't talking about rightful challenge to votes still in doubt. What we are watching, says Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, is a "constitutional crime."

            Americans of color – and Americans of conscience – should observe how in the frantic effort to overturn the results of the election the administration has sought to throw out the votes of black and brown Americans.

            The front-end suppression of these votes has been the Republican way for years, but only now do we see the tactic plied at the back end of an election.

            Trump lost. With his actions in these raw moments, he is going down as the biggest loser in American history.

            He wants to be president regardless of what the people say. What a fool. Too many have contributed too much to this enterprise to let him succeed. The last act plays before us. History will afford no curtain call.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: