Sunday, October 31, 2021

Official atrocities on your dime and mine

            Colorado fired John Eastman right around the time America fired Donald Trump.

            Trump's employers gave him notice in November. In Eastman's case, it was, "Hit the road" in January.

            Actually, it was the University of Colorado that told Eastman his services were no longer needed.

            This after the part-time CU lecturer and full-time conspiracist sounded the bullhorn of insurrection and the Big Lie at the Jan. 6 riot fest.

            What Colorado taxpayers didn't know at the time was the extent to which the crank attorney provided the schematic which led Trump to say he could nullify the election.

            I'm one of those taxpayers. To think that my tax dollars helped pay Eastman's plane fare to Washington.

            To think that Trump used my tax dollars during the period from election to certification to illegally extend that which 81 million voters said must end: his con-man presidency.

            Now to think that a considerable number of Americans want the con to continue.

            University of Colorado officials were alarmed that Eastman was among several exhorting the mob that wrecked the Capitol.

            We can only imagine their reaction to hearing that Eastman drew up for Trump the schematic for nullifying the vote. He said Vice President Mike Pence could refuse to certify the election and throw it to the House of Representatives.

            Did he bill the White House for that service? That would be you and me.

            Oh, Lord -- the bills Trump ran up as the most corrupt president in American history, twice impeached. The digits continue to pile up as he fights our right to know his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

            We already know a lot thanks to reporting like that provided by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their book "Peril."

            Among the book's many stunning revelations is that after Pence told him he couldn't stop certification, Trump issued a statement "speaking on the vice president's behalf" that Pence was in "total agreement" that he had that authority.

            Again, official lies on your dime and mine.

            In effect, says Costa, a soon-to-be-ousted president had seized control of a constitutional office, the vice presidency, to advance his Big Lie and build up the hopes of the goons who stormed the Capitol. The goons who chanted, "Hang Mike Pence."

            Trump never denounced these actions. He spent Jan. 6 watching the chaos on television and feeling proud of his incitement, telling rioters by video, "We love you."

            In the video he said he had "directed all federal agencies" to restore order. Not true, say Woodward and Costa. Others, most prominently Pence, took those necessary steps.

            House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who at the time (not today) would denounce Trump's role in these events, was frantic in telling Trump by phone, "You've got to tell them to stop."

            Trump's response: "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."

            Let's face it. Trump never was interested in governing – serving the people, protecting the commonwealth. He is interested in serving his own interests.

            Last week, Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump's yes-person on his coronavirus response, told congressional investigators Trump failed to take steps that would have saved the lives of tens of thousands.

            The virus did not take a break for Trump to assemble a War Room to take back the presidency. The virus didn't take a break for Trump to lobby officials in Georgia and Michigan and Arizona to help him do that.

            The virus continued to do its job without charge. It was Trump who apparently saw his only job in his final days on our payroll, to be figuring out how to make 81 million votes go away.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, October 24, 2021

GOP cheers on race to bottom

            It has the support of the G-7 powers. It has the support of more than 130 nations.

            Promoted by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, it would curb abuses by which corporations escape taxes overseas and help pay for America's immense infrastructure needs.

            Only one thing stands in the way. We'll give you one guess.

            Yep. The Republican Party.

            Yellen's proposal -- a global minimum 15 percent tax rate for multinational corporations and foreign subsidiaries -- has accrued a stunning level of support.

            Even the Retail Industry Leaders Association, including giants like Target and Home Depot, supports it in the name of tax fairness.

            No amount of support elsewhere could lead today's Republican leaders to buy into anything the Biden administration supports.

            No benefit would be beneficial enough, particularly if signed by a Democratic president.

            We're talking about ending what economists call the "race to the bottom," other countries offering microscopic tax rates to induce corporations to establish shell accounts.

            Nothing wrong with that race, say Republicans. That's just "tax competition." We must cut corporate taxes further to compete, they say.

            This "competition" means that Apple, for one, has assigned a huge share of its profits to a subsidiary in Ireland simply because of low, low tax rates.

            Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman calls the trend "leprechaun economics."

            What this all means is that the United States, which provides Apple's home base and so much of what sustains it – highways, railways, health care, clean air and water, college-educated workers -- gets minimal tax income from Apple to provide all that.

            The trend greatly adds to our nation's fiscal straits. In the '60s, observes Krugman, federal taxes on corporate profits accounted for 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. Now? About 1 percent.

            Democrats hope to achieve this through budget reconciliation and a majority vote. With contrarians like Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema being the tails wagging the dog, however, a solid bloc of minority Republicans stands as a virtual veto.

            We continue to be a nation ruled by a minority, and to ignore our responsibilities to the planet and civilization.

            Hence Donald Trump, with fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, won a ticket thanks to the Electoral College to torpedo U.S. support of the Paris Climate Agreement, though Americans by large margins support climate action.  

            But back to the issue of tax fairness:

            A report by ProPublica details the extent to which the nation's wealthiest individuals, Trump-style, paid no or next to no taxes.

            It should alarm everyone that, as the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reports, 55 corporations that earned a combined $40.5 billion paid no income tax in 2018.

            What do you say, Republicans?

            In 2018, Elon Musk, on track to becoming the world's wealthiest individual, paid no federal income taxes. This is made possible by the treatment of stock valuation as non-income. It may not be cash, but billionaires can of course convert it any time, and can borrow against their shares.

            Now Musk moves to Texas, where he'll pay no state income taxes either.

            The Pandora Papers investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has shone a light on the industry of sheltering the income of billionaires, cons and criminals.

            This is a manifestation of what some economists call the "wealth defense industry --  aimed at hiding monstrous gains from the tax system or otherwise masking the fruits of criminal enterprises.

            On a similar plane is dark money – the means of making policymakers do what special interests want without any means of identifying them.

            The Republicans want it that way. They want "tax competition," and for their horses to win every time.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Call it the 'Green Real Deal'

           With grimy smokestacks belching out what smokestacks do, the Southern Colorado town of Pueblo used to be known as Steel City.

            Now it can be known as Solar City.

            The town's signature steel plant -- once powered entirely by coal -- is soon to be almost entirely solar-powered.

            The juice – 90 percent of what the plant requires -- will come from 75,000 solar panels across 1,800 acres.

            This is a retrofit that is fit for a nation that needs an energy makeover.

            The steel plant – EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel -- has been there 150 years under multiple names and owners, with various stages of activity and dormancy.

            Steel production amounts to 7 percent of the nation's carbon emissions.

Switching this one plant to solar will remove the equivalent of 92,100 cars from the road, reports the Denver Post.

            The solar plant that will transform it into the cleanest steel plant on the planet,  is the work of a U.S. subsidiary of British Petroleum – yes, the dreaded, oil-slick-creating, BP.

            BP, by the way, has committed to producing zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

            Joining in the effort toward the green steel plant in Pueblo was regulated Colorado utility Xcel Energy and the state, through millions of dollars in tax incentives.

            A few years ago Xcel said it would close two coal-fired plants in Pueblo and increase its use of alternative energy.

            The steel plant owners considered moving operations out of Colorado, but the state and the utility intervened. The 300-watt Bighorn Solar project was devised to fill the energy void.

            Consider this analogous for an entire nation that has the opportunity and challenge to retrofit.

            The barkers of high-carbon industries -- that means you, Gov. Abbott; you, Sen. Cruz, and of course the archduke of Mar-a-Lago – have done all they can to throw shade on alternative energy.

            They have good reason: patronage from the merchants of grime.

            In the case of the previous president, his "Clean, beautiful coal" posturing was central to his vacuous "Rust-Belt strategy" in 2016.

            But times are changing. Energy markets are changing. Technology is changing. It's time for industry, and government, to change.

            Donald Trump could not bring back coal, in part because producers of power don't want it.

            Natural gas is a "cleaner alternative." Yes, indeed. But fracking is the furthest thing from clean, not to mention making Oklahoma a tectonic basket case.

            Joe Biden, following in the footsteps of Barack Obama, is right in touting the economic virtues of the alternative energy revolution.

            And a revolution it is. Advances in solar and wind technology are making them more cost-effective and efficient every day.

            The engineering concept called Moore's Law holds that the power of computing via improved microchips increases two-fold every year. This doesn't just apply to smart phones. It applies as well to increasingly efficient silicon cells of solar panels.

            Hence, solar is bearing down on fossil fuels for cost effectiveness, as is wind. We know which runner is going to win the race.

            The doubting class wants to assail solar and wind as undependable. The latter was the "Who? Me?" pose of culpable Republicans when Texas froze last winter in its epic grid meltdown.

            Abbott disgracefully blamed wind generators. But those generators in much colder climes operate just fine.

            The fact is that Texas lawmakers years earlier refused to allocate the funds to keep the state's energy generation infrastructure operative in easily foreseen contingencies.

            This brings up another matter: Modernizing, winterizing and maintaining old-technology energy is costly. It's not the same for solar and wind.

            And by the way, when was the last time a solar pipeline broke and destroyed a swath of American coastline?

            Of course we will need petroleum and natural gas far into the future. But Biden's aspirational idea of the future is far better, far cleaner.

            The Green New Deal is a distraction. The Green Real Deal is where we need to be, today, tomorrow and for however long this planet will have us.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, October 10, 2021

When did recklessness become ideology?

            A letter to the editor in the Denver Post asks: Is it "conservative" to resist urgings of health professionals?

            Responding to a story on the low vaccination, low-mask tendencies in Wyoming, the letter-writer calls the linkage to conservatism absurd. He also assails the statement that Wyoming residents resisting vaccines are being "fiercely independent."

            The story in question is a report from Gillette, Wyo., with a vaccination rate of 20 percent.

            Fierce independence? Or herd behavior?

            The latter, says the letter-writer. For one, just about all of these people had the vaccines that spared them polio, pertussis and more. So do their children, vaccinated prekindergarten, because Wyoming requires it.

            The difference now for them? He cites two.

            (1) "Browsing social media for evidence-free things people with no expertise say."

            (2) "The ironclad cult conformity of being on the Trump/MAGA/Q team."

            Throw in Fox News. That's some triumvirate.

            Sure, some Americans, regardless of political slant, were firmly anti-vax before this. But what explains today's red-state, anti-vax, anti-mask phenomenon? The letter-writer nails it.

            It's not independence. It's not conservatism. It's pure arrogance, and recklessness.

            It is traits modeled by the man who as a defeated president sought to blow up democracy in January.

            South of Denver, in Republican-dominated Douglas County, these very traits are on display.

            The high-income county has been identified by the CDC as a COVID high-spread community. Against the reasoned measures laid out to combat the disease, it also is a high-pitched-whine community. And we're talking really high pitches – decibels generally audible to a select few, headed by Tucker Carlson and some Republican governors.

            The county has withdrawn from a joint health district with two other counties. Now a newly contrived health district has revoked the school mask mandate of the previous health district, which was supported by its school district.

            We've heard the song and dance before about the so-called oppression of masks and how they harm the young. I laugh about this when I see a 4-year-old sporting a SpongeBob mask and bounding up the aisle at the grocery store. So oppressed.

            A mask opponent at the Douglas County hearing laid on a violin chorus: "learning cues, social-emotional cues, and developmental milestones missing."

            If keeping children safe in an unvaccinated setting isn't enough, a school official offered this reason: "to keep the schools open uninterrupted."

            The mask foes say "severity should be the metric" for mask mandates and the virus doesn't affect kids like it does adults. Tell that to the families of the 700-plus children who have died in this pandemic.

            It's true that most cases of COVID in children are mild by comparison. That is not the point. The point is that this is a disease that doesn't show its face like the flu or chickenpox. It is not just about what the children might acquire but how the disease spreads.

            That is why experts call it a pandemic.

            More than 140,000 children in this country have lost a parent or grandparent to the virus.

            Once upon a time, "conservative" meant "prudence." Wild-eyed liberals were the ones who flaunted convention.

            Where are so-called conservatives headed with their claims that masks and vaccination infringe on their freedom?

            They are headed down Interstate 95 on Florida's rightward coast, turning east toward Atlantic swells and setting anchor at the Mar-a-Lago Golf Club, where a cult leader plots his return with help from those who want to control the country and maybe the world.

            They will disregard everything about his reckless reign, his corruption, his fomenting of an insurrection, his impeachable acts, his lies about the pandemic, about masks, about everything. They will disregard everything, because to them, he is the ideology. All else – even what health experts say -- is "fake news."

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, October 3, 2021

Fox News: Dialing up lies for dollars

            In a New York courtroom, freedom of the press is being juxtaposed with the freedom to lie.

            Freedom to lie to subvert an election.

            Freedom to lie to aid the chief patron of a gold-digging cable network.

            Donald Trump's Big Lie -- and his covey of mouthpieces on Fox News -- is on trial in a $2.7 billion suit by voting technology company Smartmatic.

            Fox is being sued along with disgraced Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for claims the company conspired to "steal" the election.

            On trial are statements by full-time Trump sycophants Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs. They wouldn't dare check any of the claims coming from Trump and his co-conspirators, even if ruinous to a company.

            If truth wins with Fox News on trial, the network is in for major hurt. We await the suit from victims of the Jan. 6 insurrection and the role of Fox News' craven cast after the horse on which they had bet came in out of the money.

            MAGA hordes heard Pirro advertise the Jan. 6 rally as the first shots of the second Revolutionary War.

            This was going to be great television. "They wanted a coup," writes Brian Stelter. "They needed a coup."

            Interestingly, the Big Lie and Jan. 6 are barely parenthetical in Stelter's book, "Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth." That means a lot of lies before the biggest one.

            That Stelter is CNN's media correspondent will be seen by Trump believers as discrediting him. The fact is just about all his reporting comes from in the beast's belly, interviews with current and former Fox News employees.

            Former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith spoke of the honor of having a "platform of public influence," yet mourned the fact that his former employers propagated lies "and pushed them over and over again" to the dual end of appeasing Trump and his hard-core supporters.

            Stelter depicts a struggle within Fox between actual news-gatherers and news fabricators who would take their every cue from Trump. Guess which side won? Not Shep Smith's side. He's now at CNBC.

            One victim was Fox News' digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt, who had the onerous task of defending the network's call that Joe Biden had won Arizona Nov. 3. Stirewalt shortly got canned.

            After his dismissal for -- yes, telling the truth -- Stirewalt wrote an oped labeling "Stop the steal" a "cynical, knowing effort by political operatives and their hype men to steal an election or at least get rich trying."

            We now know how Trump has reaped untold riches from his followers on the bogus pretext of fighting the election results. We need not ask, "What was in it for Fox News"?

            Ratings, baby. Ratings. The cult status of Trump with his loyal viewers was pure gold.

            "Fox News is not a 'news network,'" Stelter quotes a veteran host there. "Don't think of it as a network at all. It's a profit machine."

            As in cut from Trump's cloth. No wonder the Trump administration was a revolving door for Fox News personalities and employees, with Fox News' door always open for former Trump hires.

            Today, Fox News personalities remain Trump's faithful servants. After his defeat, the network became "the Trump administration in exile," writes Stelter.

            As such, it will stir up fear, such as Tucker Carlson's racist drumbeat about "replacement theory," or the seeding of deadly doubts about the COVID vaccine.

            Stelter calls the whole shtick far from news but a "serialized drama" – OMG, where's that Central American caravan now? -- aimed at "filling viewers' nights with terror."

            It is so very fitting that Trump was the fastest and loudest to shout "hoax" and "fake news," when in fact he and Fox News have been master barkers of both.

            By Stelter's count, and I'd trust it, the word "hoax" was uttered on Fox News more than 1,500 times in 2020 alone:

            "Every time Trump tweeted it, or Hannity shouted it, a little bit more truth was chipped away from America's foundation."

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: