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:

Monday, November 16, 2020

My Joe Biden double fantasy

            I'm no front-runner, band-wagoner, Johnny-come-lately. I backed Joe Biden from the start.

            Or at least from Aug. 30, 2018.

            About that date in a moment.

            I didn't write about my support of Biden back then because I didn't want to throw shade on any of the great Democrats seeking to end the days of Trump.

            From my progressive friends I heard a lot about Biden's supposed deficits – too old, too moderate, gaffe machine – all that.

            Yeah. Did you notice that the man just ran successfully for president of the United States, and the Trump Destruction Machine was left with absolutely nothing (that it couldn't falsify online) to depict Biden as too feeble, too prone to falling over his tongue?

            One whole presidential campaign: no gaffes! Guy mastered every ramp before him.

            I have to admit, I worried about those very things, even after Aug. 30, 2018. That's when I knew Biden was the man for me – and for the country.

            That was the day he flicked a tear from his eye as a featured eulogist, and said, "I'm a Democrat. And I loved John McCain."

            A Democrat memorializing a Republican, inserting words like "dignity," "honor" and "respect" in a memorial masterwork about what binds us as a human race.

            Meanwhile the chief Republican in the White House, uninvited to McCain's service, had to be arm-wrestled to lower the White House flag.

            I was sold on Biden with all else he offered: his career, his character, his electability – but that funeral cinched it.

            So, Joe Biden Fantasy No. 1. Call it an Arizona fantasy: that sufficient numbers of voters there would be sufficiently offended by Trump's behavior, and impressed by Biden's, to help take the incumbent down.

            I imagined Arizona being the state on Election Night that awarded the presidency to John McCain's friend: Joe Biden.

            My next Joe Biden fantasy was spawned last fall.

            That's when it was revealed that Trump had used the purse and power of the United States to pressure Ukraine to help sabotage Biden's candidacy by going after Biden's family.

            So doing, Trump signaled that Biden was the last Democrat he wanted to face in 2020.

            Extorting Ukraine should have been the last corrupt thing Trump did as president. Being caught in the act should have resulted in his ouster. Of course, Republicans in the Senate looked away – all but Mitt Romney. Had brain cancer not taken McCain, we can be certain he would not have looked away.

            With Trump's political neck having been spared by spineless GOP senators, my second Joe Biden fantasy was that my man would get the Democratic nomination and the two would meet on a debate stage.

            Biden would say to Trump, "You came after my son to take me out. Well, here I am, pal. You are a con and a coward. Now, let's talk about your children."

            I told you they were fantasies. Neither No. 1 nor No. 2 came to pass.

            In the debates Biden did not do what I imagined. He didn't take the poison bait when Trump tried to make Hunter Biden an issue. 

            Puny, pitiful try, Donnie.

            And Arizona wasn't the state that awarded the presidency to Biden. It was Pennsylvania.

            When Arizona flipped -- stunning, earth-shaking -- the talk mostly was about how long Trump and a raft of attorneys would stave off reality.

            It's over. Biden has scored the same "landslide" Trump trumpeted: 306 electoral votes. Biden looks certain to have 6 million more votes than the Great Con Man, who will continue to convince his supporters it never happened.

            They are entitled to their fantasies. Thanks to American voters and a great candidate, mine came a lot closer to reality.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Monday, November 9, 2020

What the stars in that flag mean today

            This is not fake news.

            Donald Trump does not run the country.

            You say he never did. You say the Constitution does. Ah, but he was prepared to show you differently.

            When he was impeached, Republicans in the U.S. Senate told him he could. All but one of them barely flexed an eyebrow over his illegal act of extorting a struggling nation to help him torpedo a campaign rival -- that rival who just became president-elect.

            After those proceedings, Trump knew he could get away with anything.

            Oh, yes, Barack Obama was right: The fate of democracy itself was at stake in this election. Democracy won.

            This just in: Vladimir Putin has no more sway over U.S. foreign policy.

            Today, like Trump, Vlad paces his quarters, steaming at what our voters have done. Vlad would never let this happen in his election.

            Russia invested so much in destabilizing this nation. The good works of the 1,000-plus-employee Internet Research Agency paid off in 2016. Now? Nyet.

            So much invested in making Americans disbelieve in their system.

            Freedom. Many a Trump supporter has sent that word ringing through hills and valleys. But what does that word represent to them? For too many, it represents the freedom to stomp around in camo, an AK slung over the shoulder.

            Freedom from fear? Don't change the subject. The camo crowd couldn't care less if you are a fearful person of color, or an immigrant, or if you are gay, or lesbian or transgender and fear for your rights.

            GOP support wasn't necessarily about freedom anyway. Look at the Republican Party platform. Basically it says, "What Trump says."

            Now he's bound for civilian life and the life of a criminal defendant. What does his party do now?

            Back to the Russians' designs to mess with American voters' minds, particularly people of color. Trump gloated over the lower-than-expected Black turnout in 2016, rightly pointing out that a no-vote by them was a vote for him.

            As his presidency seeped away it was mostly Black votes that provided the drip, drip, drip that took him down, in Detroit, in Milwaukee, in Philly, in Pittsburgh, in Atlanta, in Savannah.

            If ever an American election had a fitting coda, it was provided there in those communities.

            Trump had trashed voting by mail. We in Colorado who have been doing this for years knew he spewed bilge. Now voters in many more states fully appreciate the process.

            In the end it was mail-in votes -- drip, drip, drip -- that caused the waters to swell around and snuff a Trump dictatorship.  

            Trump trashed scientists and health professionals – and masks -- amid the pandemic. Thursday and Friday more of his inner circle contracted COVID along with thousands more Americans.

            But Trump no longer is there to mess with our means of fighting this threat, no more so than he will be there to cause deeper divisions with him as the epicenter.

            My son, who has been bothered by the way the MAGA crowd has co-opted our national banner as it has flown from too-big pickup trucks with bulging gun racks, said the day the race was called that the American flag now meant something different to him, something far more affirming. The voters, the poll workers, the health-care workers and first responders, the postal workers, they are the stars in that blue field.

            Today the flag does not mean racism, sexism, anti-immigrant hatred and gun lust.

            Today it means less fear, less division, more tolerance, more thoughtfulness, more hope.

            Today the flag stands for America again. A greater America.

            This is not fake news.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Monday, November 2, 2020

Paying the bill for all that is Trump

            The Trump presidency has been a collage of outrages.

            The biggest outrage: It's all been our tab.

            Like the three-dollar glasses of water billed to us by Mar-a-Lago when Trump's club raked in $37,500 hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

            Ahem. What did we pay for the oyster crackers?

            In his four years in office, reports the Washington Post, Trump's businesses have reaped $18.1 million in business from taxpayers and supporters.

            If this offends you, or if it doesn't, consider: The Justice Department has run up massive legal bills trying to get Trump out from under a defamation suit based on allegations of rape.

            Former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll accuses him of that. Trump calls her a liar. The Justice Department asserts that he can't defend himself and wants the federal government -- you and me – to do that. A federal judge just nixed the idea.

            Your tax dollars at work -- enriching this man and buffeting him from accountability for an accused felony.

            In fact, the whole of the Carroll defamation suit, and the Justice Department's indefensible role in it – he was Private Citizen Trump when the offense was alleged -- is analogous to this man's presidency.

            The whole four years have been a battle by his appointed loyalists to keep him from testifying under oath.

            That's a hefty chunk of the first of Bob Woodward's two books on the Trump presidency.

            It's called "Fear," which one assumes to mean a ruthless and wrathful leader. Instead, it should be called "Fear of a Subpoena."

            The fact is for someone so practiced at lying, Donald Trump is just not very good at it.

            That's why former White House Counsel John Dowd fought with every sinew of his creaking body to keep Trump from an under-oath conversation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

            Dowd, who resigned over disagreements with Trump over his legal strategy in the Mueller investigation, knew that the moment Trump opened his mouth he would break the law.

            Dowd, a former DOJ employee and expert defender of accused white-collar criminals, finagled a chance for Trump to obfuscate via written responses to Mueller's questions.

            This helped the greatest liar in our annals to lie that he was "totally exonerated" of obstructing justice and colluding with Russians and their handmaidens at Wikileaks.

            Two years before Woodward reported that Trump also lied to this country about the severity and danger of the pandemic now ravaging the country, here's how Woodward ties up "Fear" in describing the frustrations of Trump's lawyer:

            "In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying 'Fake News,' the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to tell the president: 'You're a (bleeping) liar."

            Woodward does not expurgate that. The record affirms that.

            Notice how weakly Trump responded to the report that he called war dead "suckers" or the intelligence about Russians placing bounties on the heads of U.S. troops. He defended not visiting the gravesites of fallen U.S. soldiers at a cemetery outside Paris by saying the weather prevented him from going. For someone so practiced at lying, you'd think he'd be better at it.

            Instead, he's come to realize that his cult following doesn't care about those things. He might as well be standing before them wearing a ram's head and asserting command of moon and stars. They're fine with it. They're believers.

            Right now, however, a lot of Republican office holders are losing their religion. They face riding his coattails into oblivion.

            One of them is South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who figures in one of Woodward's most telling anecdotes.

            Graham was in the room at the White House, and expressed offense, when Trump referred to mostly black nations as "shithole countries."

            The next day, the story having become an object of national conversation, Graham and Trump were on the golf course.

            Trump said he didn't say what was reported.

            Graham said, "Yeah, you did."

            Trump pivoted, "Well, some people like what I said."

            True. Some people – we are about to see how many -- like a practicing liar and viper in the White House.

            Vote for Trump if chaos, hatred, and dishonesty are also your values.

             Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: