Sunday, August 30, 2020

Trump spread lies on my lawn

            I wanted no part of the Republican National Convention. Never did I think I'd be hosting it.

            What a lovely Wednesday evening I was having, entirely free of racist lies and smarm. Then the GOP showed up.

            I heard the rattling of equipment in my backyard, the assembling of a stage, "Trump" banners tacked to my fence.

            And then: Stage lights. Melania Trump ascending the stage. Lies and smarm.

            You say this didn't happen in my back yard?

            Oh, yes. The White House is my property. The Rose Garden is my garden.

            I did not consent to a political convention on my property. If you consented, shame on you.

            President Trump and his band broke the law with their smarmy convention. Lock them up.

            The Hatch Act prohibits about a dozen things that happened there, from the speeches exploiting my property as a backdrop, to a citizenship ceremony using immigrants as props, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo making a political plug from Israel.

            We paid – you and me – for all those stunts.

            Government grounds and functions are not vessels for political conventions. Conventions are for pricey venues paid for with real American money from people like the DeVoses (whatever it takes to buy the Department of Education) and DeJoys (whatever it takes to own the postal service).

            It should be paid for by Big Pharma and Big Oil and as they deduce whatever it takes to buy the government.

            The New York Times story said the convention "blurred the line between campaigning and governing."

            "Blurred." That's a nice name, like "meddle." Like Russia "meddled" in our elections. Like Trump just "asked a favor" of Ukraine. La, la, la. Like picking petals in Melania's garden.

            Well, that's not her garden. It's mine. Trump's convention didn't "blur" a distinct line. It obliterated it.

            Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows essentially acknowledged violating the Hatch Act when, rather than denying what we saw with our own eyes (and on our property), he said, "Nobody outside the Beltway really cares."

            What he said is what Trump has embodied from Day 1. The law does not apply to him.

            We used to know the White House as the People's House, where Abe Lincoln would throw open the doors for plain folks. They owned the place after all: the People's House.

            Now, instead of the People's House, the White House has become the Imperial Palace.

            This is a Great Leader named Kim, a great son named Kim, his sister Kim, the other son named Kim. Oh, and their sister Tiffany.

            The Hatch Act doesn't matter to the Great Leader and his followers. The Emoluments Clause doesn't matter to them.

            Extorting foreign nations to gain re-election doesn't matter. Criminal acts by his associates don't matter. Neither do criminal probes into Trump businesses.

            Thursday night I thought I was done with the RNC.

            Then I heard the familiar racket on my front lawn, the assembling of lights and stage and draping of Trump posters.

            Then the poster boy ascended the stage before a bleached crowd which, jammed together on my lawn, exhaled germs and rattled jewelry to his every utterance.

            For 70 minutes Trump prattled. Fact-checkers calculated 20-plus lies.

            When it was over, my grass trampled, all I could do was spray my front yard with Lysol.

            Voters must do more than that in November.

            We must have someone in the White House who honors it as a loaner. We do not want squatters who assume it to be theirs.

            What Trump did in his convention was illegal -- to use my property in this way, to use the functions of my government this way. His followers do not care.

            All that matters to them is that He is in power. All that matters is the Great Leader Him.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, August 23, 2020

'Hello, America': Team Trump checks in remotely

            Welcome back to the Republican National Convention. To review, we had hoped, via a teeming arena in Florida, to infect as many as possible with our special brand of recklessness, but Gov. DeSantis beat us to that.

            So we've taken notes from the Democrats and will do it remotely.

            In a few moments we will hear our great president -- live -- a few feet from his secure bunker. But first: the remote roll call:

            "Hello, America. This is Steve Bannon, talking to you from the courthouse jail in New York's Southern District. Here along with others yearning to breathe free, I'm sharing Donald Trump's message of white grievance and selling autographed border wall time-share panels.

            "As Deep State prisoners, we pledge allegiance to QAnon above all. As for America, who better to ravage it all than the agent of chaos I had wrapped around my pudgy little finger in 2016: Donald Trump?"

            "Hello, America. Paul Manafort here, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, reporting to you from home detention. I was in Loretto Correctional Institute when released due to the coronavirus. It's a good thing I'm not an essential worker.

            "You know, prison is no fun, but as I await my pardon for crimes against my country, I keep up on the news.

            "Just because a bipartisan Senate committee judged me to be a 'grave counterintelligence threat' in dealing with Russians doesn't mean I was a threat to anyone, certainly not Russians. They were very kind to me and my boss, and their kindness was reciprocated.

            "Speaking of reciprocation: Donald, if you're listening . . ."

            "Hello, America. Michael Flynn here. You may remember me from the 2016 RNC Convention leading the 'Lock Her Up' chant. Good times.

            "The Deep State convicted me of lying to the FBI and buttering Russians' bread relative to sanctions even before my man Donald took office. Is that so wrong? I was only colluding with them, canoodling with them -- nothing more. That's no crime. Ask Bill Barr."

            "Hello, America. You know me. I'm the Cheshire cat, wear a derby hat, a Nixon tattoo on my back. I'm Roger Stone.

            "It looked like I was going to spend a lot of time behind bars for lying to prosecutors, threatening witnesses, and that whole Wikileaks dump of stolen DNC data. Yada, yada, yada.

            "When Donald Trump said, 'Russia, if you're listening,' he knew it was unnecessary because he had me on speed-dial.

            "Now I'm a free man because I'm Trump's friend. Don't like it? Those of you who think we're crooks can kiss me right below Tricky Dick's waistband."

            "Hello, America. I'm Rick Gates. You may not remember me, but I headed up Donald Trump's inauguration and was Paul Manafort's second-in-command. I served 45 days in jail and am on three years' probation for obstructing Bob Mueller's investigation.

            "It was worth every penny. Manafort and I made big money from our Ukrainian lobbying. Throw in that Trump tax cut, and that's some quarantine stash. On behalf of business partner Paul, let me say, 'Two thumbs up, GOP.'"

             "Hello, America. This is Vladimir Putin, Russia's president for life. Four years ago we put the full weight of our 1,000-member-plus Internet Research Agency behind the Republican Party and Donald Trump, one of our best-tipping guests at the Moscow Ritz Carlton. We look forward to further 'intergovernmental' patronization. Nostrovia, Comrade Donald."

            "Hello, America. This is Cyrus Vance, district attorney for New York County. I'm looking forward to learning all about Donald Trump's activities by examining his tax . . ."

            "(Technical difficulties. Please stand by.)"

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Not only is she from America, she IS America

            Mike Pence just turned a whiter shade of pale.

            The very last person with whom he wanted to share TV glare on-stage is coming his way.

            If Donald Trump can't delay the election, can Pence delay the vice presidential debates -- till Bowl Week?

            Kamala Harris vs. Mike Pence is, um, Muhammad Ali vs. Jurgen Blin (KO in 7).

            She is everything the Democratic Party aspires to be. Smart. Quick-footed. Quick-witted. Serious. Eloquent.

            More importantly, she's a reflection of a nation of possibilities. If I were the GOP's troll-in-chief or his troll-in-waiting, I'd fear her, too.

            Then again, from the sublime to the unconscionable, Harris isn't the only political star who made a splash last week.

            So did Marjorie Taylor Greene, GOP congressional nominee from the Planet QAnon.

            Greene, nominally from Georgia's 14th District, is living a reality that isn't entirely real.

            Let's just say that when she speaks, one can hear radio waves interviewing moon rocks. One can detect the songs of intergalactic static.

            She's all in on QAnon, the "deep state" conspiracy club that I could attempt to explain, but why waste good pixels? It could take pages.

            However, one could whittle much of it down to a three-syllable component: racism.

            Greene called the election of two Muslim women to Congress an "invasion of our government." She has called the leaders of Black Lives Matter "idiots" and said "the most mistreated people in American are white males."

            No wonder Donald Trump thinks she's peachy.

            What a contrast: One woman who stands for a nation that would move forward in bringing out the promise of every individual based on his or her own special attributes vs. another who doesn't buy into that "all created equal" stuff at all.

            There's been talk of Trump dropping Pence and adding a woman to his ticket. How about Georgia's queen of "Q"?

            Actually, we may be premature in so crowning her, planetary origins aside.

            On Colorado's western slope another contender for the title has arisen.

            In March, Lauren Boebert, who owns a restaurant at which wait staff wears guns on hips and invites firearms onto the premises, defeated District 3 incumbent Scott Tipton for the GOP nomination.

            Boebert has praised QAnon as a sign of a resurgence of American values. And of course Trump has praised her as the hope of his party.

            We'll see about that.

            Ironically, a whole lot of Republicans are worried about people like Boebert and Greene becoming the face of their party.

            Former Arizona senator Jeff Flake, for instance. "If the GOP wants to be a relevant political force in the future, it cannot endorse those who embrace QAnon and other conspiracy theories."

            You mean, like a president who has retweeted garbage promoting QAnon at least 185 times? 

            If you're a thinking American who worries about the ascendance of a QAnon believer to Congress, don't. It only makes her more visible and her party less viable. It's the same dynamic by which Trump is leading his party off a cliff in 2020.

            Back to Joe Biden's running mate and the claim Trump's adoring wingnuts have made about Kamala Harris not being an American. If you are thinking of Donald Trump's America, she most assuredly is not.

            However, if you are thinking of a country where a little girl born in Oakland to a mother from India and a father from Jamaica can grow up to be vice president, she is of that America. If you are thinking of a country where a little boy born in Hawaii to a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas can grow up to become president, she is of that America.

            Biden and Harris are that America.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Popping wheelies in a pandemic

          This week, Sturgis, S.D., is the best place in America to be a germ.

            Its population of 6,943, has grown by 250,000 or so for the Sturgis 2020 motorcycle rally. Even if we don't count microbes, it's by far the nation's biggest gathering since the pandemic began.

            Elbow to elbow, few masks, no fear, tons of exhaust.

            Pandemic, shmandemic. They dined together, drank together, partied together. They did what any virus would endorse.

            I'm not calling bikers unclean. I'm sure there was a lot of hand-washing, maybe even Purelle between shots of Cutty Sark.

            I'm not saying the assembly is passing around one wineskin, or that Bandidos and Cossacks have shown up and coughed on each other in lieu of gunfire.

            The rally itinerary is respectable and clean.

            That's not the point.

            The point: In a pandemic where roughly a third of those infected show no symptoms, a gathering like this is petri-dish ridiculous.

            What were the people of Sturgis thinking? Actually, most were and are in accord with others' sense of alarm. It's just that city leaders weren't.

            A survey found 60 percent of residents wanted the rally postponed because of the virus. However, business interests won the argument on city council.

            Public health lost to the buck that could be made. That includes your health and mine, or what's a pandemic for?

            The United States is doing worse at dealing with this scourge than any developed country, despite whatever charts Donald Trump might have in his lap.

            The tragic thing: Unlike him, most of us are taking the pandemic seriously. We are making the requisite sacrifices and precautions.

            But even as we do, as the meme says, when a certain segment behaves like there's no problem, "It's like having a peeing section in a swimming pool."

            Survey after survey finds most Americans share the concerns of the townspeople in Sturgis. To them, public health should be preeminent over juicing the economy. They realize this is a moment in time. Now is the time to defeat this virus. Only by doing so will the economy do what it can.

            Instead, people will die so others can take the fast lane to satisfaction.

            Our need for speed makes it impossible to rein in the virus. Florida. Texas. Georgia. Arizona. The leaders in each thought that they could live apart from this worldwide crisis and behave differently from New York and its silly lockdowns. No they couldn't. 

            Now a school year arrives. Ever hoping to goose the economy, Trump threatens school districts that won't stomp on the accelerator.

            It didn't take but one day for some school districts that opened in-person to send students home. That's going to be the story of 2020, guaranteed.

            The best way to get grade-schoolers back to the loving embrace of their teachers is to curb the disease stalking them.

            To that end -- toward fighting the disease with facial coverings, social distancing, testing and contact tracing – our president behaves like a 2-year-old in a "You can't make me" crouch on the floor.

            At first I typed "kindergartner" to describe him. But the nation's kindergartners will be much more responsible than Trump whenever they convene in-person. They'll do their best, and the teachers will do theirs.

            But it's absolutely impossible to keep these children from exchanging hugs, wiping noses on arms, and generally sharing microbes.

            Anyone who's had a kindergartner knows that the red track beneath the nose is the central trademark of the in-school experience.

            In this case, however, the problem is not one that'll be mitigated with boxes of tissue.

            After Sturgis returns to population 6,943, we shudder to consider how many will fall ill while, like a giant sneeze, motorized microbes are expelled out on our highways and byways, and toward membranes near you.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Of facial coverings and 'cancel culture'

           What do my pet store and the great grandson of Theodore Roosevelt have in common?

            Quite a bit, actually.

            First, my pet store. It's a big chain -- no surprise -- and therefore nothing unusual. However, its devotion to people's safety is remarkable – so much that it offers a 10 percent discount to get goods curbside.

            Hence customers don't infect each other or store employees inside. Our cat and dog food are handed over from a gloved hand with a smile beneath a mask.

            Now to Teddy Roosevelt's great grandson.

            In a commentary on "CBS Sunday Morning," Mark Roosevelt said that the statue outside New York's Museum of Natural History of Teddy astride a horse while a head-dressed Native American and a bare-chested African hold fast at his stirrups should go away.

            "If we wish to live in harmony and equality with people of other races, we should not maintain paternalistic statues that depict Native Americans and African-Americans in a subordinate role," he says.

            Wait. Doesn't Mark Roosevelt care about his family name?

            It depends on your definition of family. His is bigger than the House of Roosevelt. He is president of St. Johns College in Santa Fe, N.M. As such, he serves all cultures and colors, something anyone who subscribes, say, to the Christian faith would do as well.

            That would apply to my pet store.

            This has been a grim period in so many ways, particularly with a president whose sole concern appears to be serving his base and, not coincidentally, his race.

            By contrast, credit businesses and their employees for showing concern for everyone. File for history's keeping the photos of store clerks in masks and gloves. They are among 2020's heroes.

            At the same time, file for history's keeping the image of Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert mugging and sulking about having to act responsibly in a pandemic. Now he's infected, and he wants to blame the mask he mostly shunned. Right.

            Back to that Teddy Roosevelt statue, and what defenders of gray eminence deride as "cancel culture."

            Gohmert wouldn't cover his face and protect others from a virus that often doesn't show its own. Similarly, those who venerate symbols of racism and white supremacism don't see that governments, like colleges and pet stores, serve every race and creed.

            Face coverings and "cancel culture" are one in the same. Both are discreet means of siding with smart over the opposite.

            True, not all of the grievances related to the latter are about racism. Some "cancellations" are about rank stupidity.

            Twitter said it was stupid for Donald Jr. to retweet a video promoting COVID medical theories that would make colonial-era bloodletters blush.

            I won't call Ivanka Trump stupid. However, the administration of Wichita State University Tech realized it was stupid to have her speak to 2020 graduates once faculty and students asked what in the world she'd done to merit the honor. You mean being born to the House of Trump is insufficient? Oh, woe.

            In most cases, "cancel culture" is a grievance only for the hyper-privileged or the hyper-ridiculous, or both. And it's most assuredly not about free speech. (Just as wearing a mask is not an abridgement of your freedom.)

            In the Washington Post, author Eve Fairbanks writes that when it comes to getting "canceled," the argument from the aggrieved is not so much about speech but a protest from "people worried their points may be weak."

            As with pet food, this is about the marketplace of ideas. Some win; some lost around the time we emerged from the '50s. Sorry, Don Jr. Sorry, Ivanka. Get a sign and stand out on the sidewalk. No one will abridge that freedom, unless your daddy has a photo op nearby.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: