Sunday, January 31, 2021

One-way ticket for a super weasel

            It all depends on which side you're on.

            Historian Michael Beschloss' choice is clear on the insurrection Donald Trump incited.

            "Did we treat Jefferson Davis as some honored citizen?" he asked on MSNBC. "No. He was in disgrace, and he was punished."

            A whole bunch of historians have chosen that side.

            Eight hundred and seventy-eight of them, including Pulitzer-winners Garry Wills, Ron Chernow, Jon Meacham and Stacy Schiff, signed a joint letter calling Trump "a clear and present danger to American democracy" and saying he shouldn't be allowed to run for office again.

            Unless you are using the QAnon Service App in the pandemic, this should be a no-brainer.

            However, if possible, for a moment set aside the impeachment of now -- the images of terrorists bashing in Capitol windows and spidering up its walls with "Trump" banners -- and know this:

            Trump should have been forever exiled in Year Three of his presidency. He tried to extort Ukraine with our defense dollars to knee-cap the man who would cut him down to size in 2020.

            It wasn't a "perfect phone call," not a moment's whim. It was a months-long plot that blew up in his scorched-caramel face.

            Then again, this:

             He'd have been gone by Year Two had he not exerted all of his super-weasel powers to evade accountability in Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

            Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller's top lieutenants, makes that case in his book, "Where Law Ends," about the special counsel's investigation and Trump's efforts to obstruct justice when Russia – with Trump's clear blessing because, heck, it aided him – sabotaged our democracy.

            Weissmann writes, "We were attacked, repeatedly, and in a way that is as pernicious as anything we faced in World War II or on 9/11."

            If you're counting, that's one presidency, two concerted attacks on our country on Donald Trump's behalf.

            Russian operatives did far more than hack emails from the Democratic National Committee. They nosed into state elections systems. They engaged in voter suppression by using social media for deep-data profiling of voters.

            Played the patsy by Vladimir Putin, Trump did nothing about any of this, much as when on 1/6 Trump scurried off to the White House to tune in to what his red-capped windup goons did at the Capitol.

            Robert Mueller told Congress the Russians weren't through. And what do you know? They had just begun.

            Trump obstructed the Mueller probe at every turn – firing the FBI director for not kowtowing to him, intimidating Justice Department officials and ordering the White House counsel to fire Mueller. He must have had a lot to hide.

             "A brazen effort to undermine the rule of law," Weissmann calls it.

            Brazen. What an understatement.

            Trump's effort to evade accountability was abetted by the whitewash of the Mueller report by Attorney General William Barr which allowed Republicans to say Trump had been "cleared."

            In fact, Mueller cited and Weissmann affirms a handful of acts for which Trump could be indicted, but which Justice Department policy prevented Mueller from pursuing.

            Maybe those indictments are yet to come.

            Possibly most egregious was the bartering of Trump's pardon power when associates like Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Mike Flynn were being convicted for varied crimes, including lying to federal prosecutors.

            Now they've been let off the hook by he who thus far has skated from accountability.

            The title of Weissmann's book comes from John Locke: "Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins" -- words displayed at the very Justice Department Barr defiled by playing Trump's toady.

            The historians are right. Trump should never be in public office again. He doesn't care about the law. He cares only about himself and bolstering his cult.

            Let him establish his own personal Guyana where he is king, Kool-Aid at the ready.

            Let's then resume a democratic republic, a more perfect union where the law applies to all of us.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Conned by you-know-Q

            "The fact is we won the election. We won it big."

            Believe that? Then believe this: On Inauguration Day, with members of Congress, former presidents and spouses assembled and Joe Biden about to be sworn in, Donald Trump arose from the sandstone, had all executed, and took survivors for sno-cones.

            Or: Refusing to concede -- as he vowed he would never do – Trump stood his ground and pardoned all the goons who bravely risked all that broken glass to ransack the Capitol.

            Since none of these things happened, not A, B or C, it means that QAnon, which expected the executions, and the Proud Boys, who expected the pardons, can join the rest of us who know we were conned by you-know-Q.

            Those who still don't believe they were conned will say that Donald Trump never pretended to be Q, the messiah of a sect of people whose brains had turned to bat guano.

            No, Trump just patronized and profited from the believers, which is what con men do. Or what's a Jim Jones for?

            Listen to the dis-delusioned, as the BBC reported in these online comments from QAnon believers:

            "It is done and we were played."

            "I want to throw up. I'm so sick of the disinformation and false hope."

            Another word for that is "lies."

            Listen to Proud Boys' morning-after-inauguration online confessions courtesy of the New York Times.

            Trump's response to the assault on the Capitol was "very weak and flaccid," and he proved he was "not the same guy that ran in 2015."

            Good point. The tough guy didn't even accompany his precious mob on its march to the Capitol as he said he would.

            "Trump will go down as a total failure," said another of the Boys in the flock.

            "Total" is a strong word. Let's say he's been a success in harvesting dollars for his purposes.

            Back in 2016 I remember a guy saying he'd vote for the man because Trump could finance his own campaign.

            I wonder what the guy said when it was revealed that Trump is $421 million in debt, or that Trump has been shaking down supporters for funds ostensibly to support his challenge to the 2020 results.

            The fine print on the appeal for the $495 million raised is that only a sliver of the money went to the election challenge. The lion's share goes to a PAC formed by Trump to do mostly what he wishes.

            Yep. It was all a con – like "drain the swamp." Trump not only made Washington a greater haven for influence peddlers, he helped pump dollars into his properties.

            And look at one of his last actions as president: Revoking the five-year ban on lobbying by administration staffers he had established at the start of his presidency, along with a lifetime prohibition on their lobbying for foreign governments.

            The last thing Trump wanted was clean or ethical government. He wanted power, allegiance and the riches attendant.

            Trump, naturally, talks about returning as America's savior in 2024. If he's lost QAnon and the Proud Boys, however, that's starting out in a hole.

            Trump's disgraceful fall sadly calls into question the future of QAnon, described by one news report as intent on crushing a massive ring run by Satan-worshipping Democrats "devoted to the abduction, trafficking, torture, sexual abuse and cannibalization of children."

            Combatting this seems like a modest cause for a former president.

            Recall that O.J. Simpson vowed to search the ends of the earth to find the killer of his former wife and her friend. Maybe on some Florida tee box, he and Trump can compare strategies.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Camo or no, traitors clearly visible

            Apparently I have extra-keen perceptual powers.

            Analyzing an Associated Press photo from last week of armed protesters stalking the Kentucky statehouse, I clearly made them out through their camouflage.

            The camo might have fooled any deer in the area, but surely not anyone upright on two legs.

            All one had to do was see how the contours of background foliage did not keep pace with the warriors' XXXL bellies.

            They came armed to add menace to their outrage that Mitch McConnell voted to affirm Joe Biden's election – something McConnell did because that's what the Electoral College did.

            See? Our enemy is clearly visible – the enemy of the system that is ours.

            Enemies like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Louie Gohmert, and of course the con man they would make king.

            Cruz and Hawley owe an apology to a lot of Republicans. Their comments on the Capitol floor imply that as a whole they are stupid and un-American.

            Indeed, based on the comments of the two insurrectionists, a whole lot of Republicans wear the horns of anti-democratic hysteria.

            That's just wrong. For many the horns fit. But what about the rest?

            Hawley: "74 million Americans are not going to be told that their voices don't matter." That implies that all who voted for Trump reject the election results.

            No they don't. Most Republicans can do simple math. The math says Joe Biden won by 7 million votes.

            They could have overturned the Electoral College results in Georgia – and lost.

            They could have overturned Pennsylvania – and lost.

             Arizona. Lost. Michigan. Lost. Wisconsin. Lost.

            They lost. They know it. They know Trump lied when he pronounced, "We won this election," just as he lied every time he has sidled up to a mic as president.

            If they didn't or wouldn't believe they lost, 60-plus court cases hence, and with 50 states certifying, they knew the score.

            That leaves the others – the enemy – they who reject reality, like our twice-impeached president and members of the Sedition Caucus.

            As Trump moves on, he leaves us with fanatics in red caps and camo openly speaking of kidnappings and assassinations.

            He leaves us with Qanon supporters, white nationalists or those simply off their noodles serving racist-safe districts in Congress. Gerrymandering will assure that we have more. How about it, Texas, Arizona?

            We've now seen evidence that via districts drawn to certain specifications one can be elected to Congress or the statehouse simply by virtue of brandishing an assault rifle on video.

            That doesn't make them representative of most of us, not of America, not of Republicans in general; no, they are enemies of us.

            If you voted for Trump, no assumptions here: Are you one of us, we who support a constitutional republic and can do math, or are you the enemy, wholly in support of an autocracy?

            Despite what Cruz and Hawley imply, a lot fewer Americans believe in the Big Lie about the 2021 election. A lot more believe in our system, and that the election was as fair as it could be.

            Ted Cruz said on the Senate floor that our democracy is in crisis. That is only because of a serial liar and his serial enablers. Otherwise, we just had an election and some people are violently refusing to accept the results, with Cruz and Co.'s tacit approval.

            Now we brace for acts of insurrection to follow through on those insurrectionist acts Trump and his sycophantic caddies in Congress attempted.

            We should all worry about public safety. However, it's most likely that armed traitors in red caps or camo will give us a new slang term for how to end it all: suicide by Trump.

            If a resounding majority had not voted for safe and sound leadership, our nation would be set to experience that very end.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Bomb-throwers from the start

            While authorities investigate the presence of suspected incendiary devices at our riot-ravaged Capitol, we can confirm two.

            Ted Cruz.

            Josh Hawley.

            Add the sulfuric smolder of Louie Gohmert, John Carter, Pete Sessions and more. Not big-time explosive elements like U.S. senators, in July 4 nomenclature they are known as "sparklers" and "snakes," each saluting a bright, shining lie.

            All have refused to accept the people's verdict in the 2020 presidential election. All pumped up Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" volume.

            All thereby bequeathed wooden nickel tokens to terrorists who literally drove them and their colleagues from their desks the morning of the vote.

            Hence in succession, competing portraits (1) representative government, (2) governing under Donald Trump and his enablers.

            First, an excruciatingly orderly process of civility. Next: windows knocked out, police swarmed, a face-painted man wearing buffalo horns in the presiding officer's seat

            Let us now award Ted Cruz with his own set of horns. On the Senate floor that day, he was the first insurrectionist to enunciate, to consecrate, the horrific logic behind a ploy that led to these horrors and will lead to more.

            Simply put, said Cruz: A lot of people believe this president's lies. Those lies must be given currency.

            For a few syllables, Ted Cruz must have thought he'd pulled off something grand. He got applause from fellow members of the Sedition Caucus.

            Moments later, the mob got involved and Cruz's grand act became one of the most ignominious in American history.

            Good job, Ted. This is what you and Donald Trump came to Washington to do.

            You came to throw bombs.

            Cruz came to Washington to do the bidding of tea party patrons who, like Trump's rioters, wanted to shut that mother down. The government did exactly that at his frantic insistence in 2013.

            Trump arrived with every intention to knock and mock every convention honored by every predecessor to the office he disgraced.

            Even before gaining office with 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, he said that if he lost it would be because the election was rigged. Even after he was elevated by the racist construct that is the Electoral College, he spewed lie after lie about illegal votes. He couldn't leave well enough alone. And he didn't stop there.

            To lie is Donald Trump's very nature, his means of success. So he lied daily, even about things that can even be disproved on video and audio.

            Sedition? Ted Cruz rationalizes his act as a harmless symbolic gesture, a nod to Trump and his supporters. Oh, but amplifying those lies caused great harm, and not just to the nation to whom these so-called leaders pledged allegiance.

            It also hurt them. Cruz, Hawley and his co-conspirators lost control of the Senate because the Trump-beat about a "stolen election" caused some granite-brained Georgians to stay away from the polls.

            More problematic for them, their party is now forever more to be identified by the portrait of people scaling the walls of the Capitol, "Trump" banners held aloft.

            And I mean forever.

            Cruz and Hawley forever will be remembered as the floor leaders of the insurrection.

            Again, they will say that all they did was make a symbolic statement on behalf of noble patriotic supporters.

            Symbolic lies. They patronized the lies and the liar. As Mitt Romney said, if they wanted to respect those voters who believed the election was stolen, they owed those voters the truth.

            George Will is right. Along with our disgraceful president, Cruz and Hawley, and Gohmert and Carter and Sessions, get to wear the scarlet letter of "S" for sedition.

            It would seem that everyone, even Republicans, would emerge from this presidency understanding that words have consequences.

            Ted, you smell of gunpowder.

            Resign already.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Trump's end plays out like 'Jaws'

            Donald Trump cut his Mar-a-Lago stay short and hurried back to Washington. Why?

            -- To attempt to staunch a pandemic's wave of death? To soothe legions of the bereaved?

            -- To address the fact that on distribution, Warp Speed has yielded to Operation Molasses?

            -- To calmly broker a defense bill and a stimulus package to his liking?

            Nah. No way. Hah hah. You're killing me.

            Trump returned to swim round and round the boat – our boat -- his orange fin projected above the waves, as Congress finalized the end of his presidency.

            In "Jaws," the shark swallowed half the boat before being blown to sushi.

            True to Trump, his end is shaping up as something from the mind of Steven Spielberg.

            The part of the trawler disappearing in the foam is the Republican Party. Trump has consumed it. He is it. It is him. His Happy Meal.

            He has a mighty mandible, but Trump's fate is sealed – detonated by the voters – despite a school of GOP guppies who thought they could change tides with their tiny tails.

            Josh Hawley: What a little swimmer. Louie Gohmert: You mighty minnow.

            At the coast, there's a term for you: live bait.

            Trump has directed this blockbuster with an eye to receipts. "Stop the Steal" has stirred swarms of fact-averse followers. The better to wring dollars from them.

            The big-screen drama that has followed in the wake of the voters' verdict is true to Trump's comportment from the start.

            His vetoing of the defense bill, his threatened veto of the stimulus legislation, was more about enjoying that bass-fiddle sound that Spielberg used so well to stir movie-goers' fear. Ba-bum. Ba-bum.

            Trump doesn't want to govern. He doesn't want to serve humanity. He just wants attention.

            He enjoys most the sight of policymakers helpless on the shoreline, sweat beading on their brows, as townspeople scream and flee the surf.

            A lot of Republicans are feeling dehydrated right now. Mitch McConnell. Mike Pence. Any Republican official in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin or Michigan who can do math.

            Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, one of the House Guppies challenging the Nov. 3 results, tweeted that the election results were "untrustworthy."

            Pardon the use of a holy acronym in vain, but OMG.

            These people have been swept along by a tide of lies from the most untrustworthy president in history, averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims per day over four years, based on the exhaustive and exhausted fact-checking of the Washington Post.

            No court will countenance any of their claims about Nov. 3. Why? Because evidence is needed to back up a claim in court. Trump's supporters have none.

            So why did Trump return to Washington early? My guess is that he's $400 million in debt and he needs to pump up that "Stop the Steal" go-fund-me effort by which he's reaped $250 million so far.

            If you were surprised that Trump would turn charitable and join Democrats in appealing for $2,000 stimulus checks, my wife has this theory: He's banking on supporters signing those checks over to him.

            Someday we'll look back at this presidency and wonder: Did it really happen? Or was this just over-the-top fiction?

            Oh, it happened. The beast from the deep – OK, from the 26th floor of Trump Tower -- came to the surface and did horrible things.

            In the movie, the boat bit it. That's the big difference in this "Jaws" remake.

            Many worry that Trump has damaged democracy irreparably. They are mistaken. Democracy held on. He did not.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: