Sunday, July 26, 2020

Trump sends in his storm swoopers

           Cure the evils of Democracy by the evils of Fascism! Funny therapeutics. I've heard of their curing syphilis by giving the patient malaria, but I've never heard of their curing malaria by giving the patient syphilis! 

                                     -- Sinclair Lewis, "It Can't Happen Here." 


            Yes, it's happening. A man whose political career is going down in flames has turned to setting fires at calculated locations, frantically hoping the wind shifts.

             In 1935 Sinclair Lewis imagined such a person – "A public liar easily detected . . . his 'ideas' almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture.

            "His political platforms were only wings of a windmill."

            And yet such a man rose to power in Lewis's novel, and that man resorted to fear and fascism to achieve his ends.

            And that man dispatched a paramilitary force to advance those ends.

            Well, slap our faces. We all assumed that this was a democratic republic where no individual was entrusted with unchecked power. We were wrong.

            Our previous assumption – that this is a nation of the people, and by and for them -- might hold today if the Great Leader's political party held to any of its republican principles.

            Like states' rights -- previously a fundamental GOP principle. Now? Disregard the protests of states and cities to which the Great Leader would dispatch his storm swoopers.

            In Portland they've been without identifying markers except for "Police" on their camowear – tooling the streets in their unmarked rented mini-vans, sweeping up stunned protesters and discovering the romantic pleasures of tear gas.

            All is completely uninvited, and according to local authorities and witnesses, totally counterproductive.

            There are all sorts of situations in which states and cities might seek the help of the Great Leader – say with testing for a pandemic, equipment to deal with a pandemic, federal coordination to deal with a pandemic.

            But the Great Leader is not about those matters. He is about windmill-waving and staging great scenes of discord for his favorite cable news channel. Send in the para-swoopers.

            Wag the dog? These tactics would incinerate the poor creature.

            Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said these uninvited invaders were not keeping the peace but "escalating violence," and that was their goal.

            The proof is in the powerful video of heightened tensions and confrontation.

            A Portland man who was at the protests said the feds' presence shifted things "from protesting racism to protesting the increased federal presence.

            A Navy veteran, attempted to engage a storm swooper in conversation, you know, that First Amendment stuff, only to be hit repeatedly with a baton and pepper-sprayed, his hand broken.

            Said the bone-spur-deferred Great Leader, people like that Navy veteran "hate our country."

            What a dire time for us.

            A Colorado Republican state lawmaker, hopped up on Fox News hype, wrote the Great Leader requesting similar federal presence after protests in Denver. (He cited graffiti and the presence of antifa!)

            Gov. Jared Polis called "BS" in so many words. He pointed out that if he wanted federal help he would request it, starting with the Colorado National Guard.

            What the Great Leader has in mind by sending in the swoops, said Polis, is to pour "oil on the fire." But then, oil on fire provides better illumination for fearful TV footage.

            At this point, all those folks talking about defunding police should shift to defunding Homeland Security. Start with the Border Patrol and ICE.

            Don't these people have a job?

            Shouldn't they be at the border fighting back brown hordes, bayonets gleaming?

            You say bayonetting brown people isn't what Border Patrol does? Well, neither, by job definition, is apprehending Oregonians.

            Any Republican, any American, should denounce what the Great Leader is doing.

            It couldn't happen here, but it did.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Marchers toward a better time

            What a horrible, horrible time.

            A staggering – and staggered -- 73 percent of us say the nation is headed in the wrong direction.

            Nonetheless – and don't count me among the unfathomable 27 percent giving today a thumbs up -- count me as highly encouraged.

            For one thing, more and more of us now deem Donald Trump a historic error and today's Republican Party a ship of tools.

            For another: Many, many impressive people have stepped to the fore, and to the streets, in response to the worst imaginable kind of national leadership.

            It reminds of a time when a young John Lewis linked arms with others on a bridge in Selma.

            There they absorbed blows, took racism's best shot, in a theater of carnage that would compel this nation to make that "all created equal" stuff more than faded parchment.

            Yes -- and, there goes the neighborhood -- the Civil Rights Act applied even where flags of Dixie flew.

            Lewis's passing, as with that of C.T. Vivian the same day, is cause to mourn.

            But what should encourage us is what's seen in the street,: the regeneration of outrage, the regeneration of a generation.

            Lewis and Vivian were towering oaks. I had to look this up, but do you know how oaks reproduce? Through the wind.

            And through Twitter, and Facebook, and TikTok, and Snapchat, and Instagram, and Reddit.

            The young people marching in the street, some bloodied by police, are of the stripe to fill the void left by great leaders like Lewis, Vivian and Elijah Cummings.

            The marchers' many hues hark back to the Freedom Rides and Mississippi's Freedom Summer where white students came to be at the side of black activists risking their very lives.

            As with then -- as with George Wallace and Lester Maddox and the Klan -- Donald Trump seeks to dismiss their rage as the work of extremists and shadow groups.

            Have you tried "outside agitators," guys? (That would be the Russians.)

            Those marchers haven't been the only people who have impressed and who now cause this to be a time to be encouraged.

            The combination of racial injustice and a pandemic that Trump treats like a golf ball lost in the rough has caused a gallery of impressive young leaders to fill the void:

            So many impressive people – Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, author Ibram X. Kendi and Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garner and Pulitzer-winning journalist Nicol Hannah Jones – have national presences they might not have garnered otherwise.

            They join such inspiring figures as congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley, and fresh voices like Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang and Texas Senate candidate M.J. Hegar.

            They are young. They are diverse. They want change.

            Contrast with the Republican firmament – characterized by blowhards like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, and statues like Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn. What does Lamar Alexander do, anyway?

            Yes, I am encouraged. Heck, even McConnell's Senate seat is in jeopardy at the challenge of one-time fighter pilot Amy McGrath. Even if McGrath doesn't beat him, the increasingly likely loss of four GOP seats in the Senate would make McConnell largely irrelevant.

            You be encouraged, too. Consider these words:

            "For the first time in years our side is empowered, our side is enthusiastic, our side is excited, our side is hopeful, but more than hopeful, we are confident."

            Expressions of confidence from the great white supremacist David Duke in 2016.

            For him, 2020 looks to be a horrible, horrible time.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Make America what again?

            Can he interest you in some statuary?


            We're talking fully functional statues here – Confederate heroes, conquerors, all the best. And at low, low flea-market prices.

            Donald Trump, whose cracked lips will never utter the "Black" in "Black Lives Matter," is your man if your interest is gray – the eminence of people long dead in a losing cause.

            What is it with Trump and statues? He says this is about history. But statues aren't history.

            If you want history, read about Harriet Tubman, the gash on her forehead and the people she saved from horrors wrought by entitled people.

            Trump isn't about history. He's about relics. And if the polls are any indication, he's four months shy of being one.

            But this is not just about racist totems. It's also about policy borrowed from another era.

Trump is Richard Nixon in his appeals to the aggrieved white voters, Bull Connor in his approach to peaceful protest, Joe Arpaio in his career of harassing the brown-skinned. Donald Trump is certifiably not of his era.

            Every item he offers has a layer of dust on it, sitting on shelves held over from when Dixie and when night-sticks were what made America great.

            Don't challenge him. He'll roll out the fire hoses from behind the shed.

            Right now someone in MAGA headquarters is trying to convince the man to offer something new to voters. "New" is not in this man's repertoire.

            Joe Biden is 77, but he is not too addled to think about America's future. He is drawing up a plan to refocus federal industrial strategy on the supply chains so lacking in the pandemic.

            Among those plans is restoring federal investment on clean energy.

            Remember the visionary energy policy of candidate Trump? If you don't, here are two words: "clean coal."

            Sorry to break it to you, folks, but the market heard Trump and went about its business of burying coal.

            Market demands, driven by technology and the understanding even among utilities that carbon-heavy industries are killing the planet, have consigned coal to less than 20 percent of the nation's mix in generating electricity, surpassed this year by renewables.

            Over the last decade, renewables' share of the nation's generation mix has more than doubled. This despite Trump's diatribes against wind generators, his war against environmental regulations, and his barking for Big Energy.

            "Fighting the transition (to renewables) is not going to stop the transition," Dennis Wamsted of the Institution for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis told the New York Times. "Economically, it will happen inevitably."

            Just one of many areas in which this president is completely out of touch with the times.

            At this moment when visionary leadership is demanded, we have a leader who can only look backward to the "again" part of his MAGA slogan.

            He has no idea how to serve the nation's health care needs beyond carrying out his vendetta against his predecessor's signature achievement.

            He has no idea how to improve schools or lessen the suffocating burdens facing college students and graduates.

            His only ideas seem to be coming from the inheritors of fundamentalist empires, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr., and the ghosts of racists past.

            His enablers on Capitol Hill are statuary themselves. Mitch McConnell's epitaph will be one of having crabgrass grow around his feet.

            Then there are Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz, both of whom once stood up to the man whose shoes they now shine. And you thought slavery had been abolished.

            The Republican Party is in a pickle because all it has to offer is Donald Trump and his statues.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Pandemic Duo: Numb and Number

            Where is Mike Pence today to tell everybody it's all under control? Come out, come out, wherever you are, people.

            Not to go all InfoWars here, but I'm going to offer a conspiracy theory: Everywhere Pence visits, COVID cases spike. Is he our super-spreader?

            Where is Donald Trump today? What workplace has he contaminated with his unchecked thermal breath?

            He's done nasal swabs. Maybe he will breathe on a week's worth of short ribs.

            Trump clearly thought he met his monthly quota simply by contaminating Tulsa. Yes, but it's July.

            Remember Tulsa? Sorry, we can't get Tulsa out of our heads – the stupidity of cramming people together sans masks, campaign attendants frantically removing stickers on seats that advised six-feet separation.

            Turns out the MAGA regulars had all the elbow room anyone would desire.

            I heard Trump's surgeon general speak this morning on TV. Talk about a non-essential job. He knows whatever he says, his boss will do the opposite.

            Trump says he needs no face covering because he's clean of the virus. The quintessential editorial cartoon depicting Pence reveals that he needs no facemask because he has no face.

            They are the face of the Republican Party, welcome mat for the novel coronavirus.

            Infected or no, if Trump were an actual leader who had a shred of compassion for people suffering and dying, he'd be the first to don a mask, like Joe Biden has done.

            I don't know what the focus groups are finding in honing Biden's campaign slogans, but I would like to nominate something he's said about the chief obligation of a president, and that is a "duty to care." Print that sucker and stick it in some front lawns.

            Which brings us back to all those things health professionals say we should do if we really want the economy back.

            As for those bleeping face coverings, two imperatives commend them: (1) actual protection – you know, "duty to care" (2) and modeling -- you know, showing you give a fig about doing the right thing.

            The most ridiculous claim made by those eschewing social distancing and other measures is that such things restrict their freedom. Dr. Payal Kohli, a cardiologist who appears on Denver television to discuss health issues, has an apt response.

            She calls the mask "a symbol of freedom," a means toward mobility and some normalcy in a very abnormal time.

            How we get the economy going again is listening to health professionals -- not Trump, not Larry Kudlow.

            Commentator John Pavlovitz, who has had a laser focus on Trump idiot-ology from the start, writes of the "cultic adoration" that has caused people to refuse to wear masks because "to do so would mean (Trump) was wrong all along and that they were lied to and that we are in grave danger."

            Which we are. The numbers don't lie. The Pandemic Duo lies.

            Watch as the cult now tries to say that this disease isn't so much of a problem because not as many people are dying of COVID-19, percentage-wise, compared to infection rates.

            Well, hear from those who've had the disease and didn't die. Anyone who continues to equate this to the flu deserves a "been-there, done that" dose. You first, Rush Limbaugh.

            In the midst of this, said Joe Biden, "We don't need a cheerleader, Mr. President. We need a president."

            Biden also might have said we need a president and vice president with certifiable nerve endings.

            "I'll show him," thought Trump. "I'll go to Mount Rushmore for fireworks."

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: