Sunday, November 28, 2021

GOP blames whom as virus flares?

            Webster defines gall as "brazen boldness coupled with impudent assurance and indolence."

            House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has a lot of that

            Enough to pave an interstate.

            In his recent dusk-to-dawn prattle-athon trying to stop Joe Biden's social spending initiative, McCarthy said many idiotic things. Topping all was blaming Biden for the current state of the pandemic.

            If we must assay horse manure for purity, this claim is extra-virgin.

            If any partisans are to be blamed for the state of the pandemic it is McCarthy and his Trumpy pals.

            Blaming Biden is like ignoring your electric bill for three months and complaining to the power company because you missed "Real Housewives."

            It's running a red light and blaming the police for not being there to stop you.

            It's letting your milk go rancid and blaming the dairy.

            It's like how too many Trumpy WASPs have acted throughout this health emergency -- like toddlers.

            Trump scandalously downplayed a disease that killed millions. He lied to the nation, though he knew of its severity. Not only did he mock basic prevention, he demanded super-spreader events from which many got ill and some died.

            He caught COVID himself, then made it all about – guess whom? Himself.

            Too bad for all of us without presidential health care.

            In the months since Trump was cast out from the White House, Republicans have been the ones to wage jihad against mask mandates and play troll games about vaccines.

            And they have gotten ill -- and died -- at far higher rates than those aligned with Biden.

            How much higher? The difference is stunning, and indefensible.

            Data from Johns Hopkins University show the Trumpiest counties have nearly three times – 2.78 percent – more new COVID cases than those siding with Biden in 2020.

            This corresponds, naturally, to far higher rates of vaccination among Democrats than those suckled on Tucker Carlson propaganda.

            In the face of the discrepancy between rates of infection in the South, apologists of the Trump kind have asserted that rates of infection among black and brown people have dragged them down.

            As with just about anything else Trump and his cultists have to say about the pandemic, this is not true.

            Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that unvaccinated whites are outpacing people of color in dying from COVID.

            It's true that early in the pandemic the disease disproportionately affected people of color. No more. In almost every state, reports the CDC, white people are dying at higher rates.

            This is the Democrats' fault, say Trumpy Republicans. People have bowed their backs at mandates for masks and vaccines, they say. They would have done the smart thing, we are to believe, if the Great Pretender still was in charge.

            That assumes Trump would not still be mocking science and common sense, lying, and doing anything other than addressing the pandemic as president.

            This is the man who did not meet with his own COVID task force his last eight months in office.

            Of course not. First he needed to watch his impeachment on TV. Then he had a presidential election to overturn. He pretended to be president then, just as he does now. Except now he really isn't president but refuses to acknowledge that fact.

            So, Biden is to blame for being – um – too involved? Apparently this is the charge.

            A spokesman for McCarthy said vaccine mandates are unnecessary because "natural immunity from those that have recovered from infection" will blunt the illness. You know, herd immunity.

            Medical professionals say that those placing their bets on natural immunity have Joe Rogan on the brain.

            The CDC says that previously infected but unvaccinated people have twice the risk of infection as those fully immunized.

            But what does the CDC know? It won't promote horse de-wormer. And it wants to enslave people in face covers.

            The next thing you know it will insist on hand-washing. Whatever happened to our freedom?

            Because of Trump, because of Trumpy governors like Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, simple precautions have assumed the equivalent of war. Yeah, culture war.

            Sure, Kevin McCarthy. Blame the Democrats. With the swath of pain the virus cuts every day through your political base, someone must be held responsible.

            Don't you ever pin "responsible" on the party of Trump.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Don’t even try to change the subject

            Sure, there are other problems in the world.

            Raisins are a problem -- cooked raisins, plumped and pleading, contrived to make muffins and cinnamon rolls vessels of subversion.

            Turnips are a problem. Steamed in their own ooze, they bite the young innocent who thinks it's a bit of -- what? Potato?

            Liver is a problem. Goose. Chicken. Calf. No onion should ever give its life for this.

            All are problems, but they are not the problem, and we are not changing the subject.

            A reader emails: "Why denounce sweet potatoes each Thanksgiving when there is this? Please take a stand."

            "This" is a photo of a magnificent turkey, brown and basted, posing in a steaming pile of Brussels sprouts.

            Let me just say: Anyone who builds such a moat around the main course needs counseling.

            But Brussels sprouts are no more the issue in 2021 than voter fraud was in 2020.

Sweet potatoes for dinner: Now, that is rampant fraud.

            And so, again I press my case against sweet potatoes as food. I know them not to be. I ate sweet potatoes once. Once.

            The world needs this crusade because so many are deceived – defrauded.

            There was Parade magazine the other day pitching "Candied Sweet Potato Pie" (with orange liqueur and orange zest "to add zip").

            Then there's the "sweet potatoes au gratin" recipe from George and Laura Bush, not only depleting the nation's strategic reserve of Gruyere cheese, but employing already-scarce rosemary. The recipe also squanders two cloves of garlic. Listen, people: That garlic never hurt anybody.

            A reader sends a threatening news clipping from the Magnolia Gazette of Pike County, Miss.

            A cheery headline, "Take Note of the Wonder of the Mississippi Sweet Potato!" cannot mask the menace. (We don't like exclamation points, either.)

            Mississippi claims the title: "Sweet Potato Capital of the World," which is no brag.

            The article praises the "artful agriculturists" who made this possible. My reaction: If artful, why not grow something edible?

            The inedibility of their product was affirmed by my already well-educated taste buds more than a half century ago.

            The article exhorts Mississippians to "take prideful notice of the sight of 'Mississippi-grown Sweet Potatoes'" being shipped far and wide.

            Let me just say that if those starchy objects are headed to factories to be made into jet fuel, eye-liner or Hula Hoops, let them take wing.

            However, those of us without palates of stone must fight the whole sweet-potatoes-as-side-dish thing.

            Once again, I could be addressing other world problems. Fruit cake is one.

            More than one seismologist has warned that the accumulated weight of fruit cakes that are given but not eaten will -- at a point undetermined -- cause the Earth's crust to give way.

            But that's a down-the-road problem. Sweet potatoes are a problem of today.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, November 21, 2021

A little boy and a gun that owned him

            In the book "Rampage Nation," author Louis Klarevas, who narrowly averted death at the barrel of a long arm, employs the standard term "mass killing" for four or more victims.

            Had one of Kyle Rittenhouse's rapid rounds not torn through the arm of one of the three people he shot but instead hit his heart, head or torso, the junior vigilante would have been three quarters of the way there.

            Arm, not head or heart. Just "winged," not dead, like Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26.

            Is the placement of that bullet the slender thread by which Rittenhouse today is a free man and not a convicted mass murderer?

            Whew. Lucky for you, kid.

            Regardless, the new mascot of MAGA valor – Rep. Matt Gaetz says he'd offer him an internship -- has been reunited with his family and his firearms, where he can dream of whom to plug next.

            Call it a travesty. Call it a vindication. But acknowledge that had an urge not possessed this child to arm himself, cross state lines and insert himself into a scene of chaos, much would have been avoided.

            Two dead. One maimed. A trial as costly as it was ghastly. One perpetually traumatized community.

            Imagine what would be if Rittenhouse had stayed home and lived his teen fantasies through Fox News.

            More pertinently, imagine if he had exercised his driving privileges and delved into Kenosha's chaos with a smartphone, not an AR-15.

            So much tragedy in this world because someone was owned by a firearm:

            George Zimmerman would not have indulged in raw stupidity, ultimately killing a dark-skinned teen, had he not possessed his gun, or had it not possessed him.

            Without his piece, Zimmerman would have summoned police – you know, professionals trained to enforce the law.

            While we're at it, the victim of Rittenhouse who was wounded but survived, Gaige Grosskreutz, was possessed of stupidity himself, and suitably armed.

            Grosskreutz said he fired his Glock in the air before Rittenhouse shot him in the arm.

            I'm thinking Grosskreutz wishes he had packed a second sandwich for the Kenosha protests instead of the Glock. Unlike the sandwich, the gun made him do something dumb – confront a loose cannon in little Kyle Rittenhouse.

            In Colorado, a "good guy with a gun" is dead. John Hurley, 40, shot dead a gunman who had killed an Arvada police officer. It was heroic. It also was ill-advised. When another officer arrived, that officer assumed Hurley was the bad guy. He killed Hurley.

            These are scenarios to be acted out over and over in states where being openly armed is sanctioned, even encouraged.

            It's the kind of mortal threat that's courted with calls to arm teachers.

            One would think the gun sanity organization Everytown for Gun Safety, which formed after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, might be open to this idea to keep schools safe. Hardly.

            "The notion of a highly trained teacher armed with a gun is a myth," it states. Teachers could never attain gun training anywhere comparable to what police departments require.

            With other factors involved – confusion at an active shooter scene, the potential of accidental discharge or theft – it's no surprise that the nation's largest teacher's organizations, as well as major police groups, roundly oppose this horrible idea.

            Says C. Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, "The more guns that are coming into the equation, the more volatility and the more risk there is of somebody getting hurt."

            Kyle Rittenhouse might agree with this were he not living a MAGA/NRA/Fox News fantasy.

            Tragedies like this are what you get when people elevate implements of death to mythical status. Two dead, one maimed because a gun made a boy think he could be of service at a disturbance a state away.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, November 14, 2021

When culture war is all you're about

            Donald Trump is still president, say cultists. So where is that infrastructure plan?

            That "beautiful" health care plan – "insurance for everyone." Where?

            Balancing the federal budget? He said he'd do it "fairly quickly." (Or, he'd add $7.8 trillion to the national debt in four years, one of the two. Well, he did do that.)

            Oh, my. Trump wants nothing to do with any of that stuff, all that governing stuff. He hates all that public service folderol, that democracy rigmarole. He wants power. He wants to settle scores. The needs of the republic be damned. Just tell people what they want to hear and then do what you want.

            Consultants advised pre-candidate Trump that the way to power, or at least a GOP nomination in 2016, was to exploit wedge issues – like "radical Islam" (i,e. anyone who is Muslim), like "illegals," like guns and gays and foreigners, like whatever the religious right wants exploited. Right, Ted Cruz?

            All right. Whatever Joe Biden's official position, he keeps acting like the president. He's maintained a grueling pace engaging with world leaders and negotiating at home with those who want to address highways, bridges, water, health care and assorted human needs.

            Listen, people: To be a Trump Republican today one must swear off such stuff. Instead, one must devote each waking breath to the culture war.

            One must join Sen. Cruz in denouncing Big Bird for exposing children to the specter of vaccination.

            One must mount the war on "wokeness." Whatever that is.

            The same with "critical race theory." Ask Tucker Carlson; he has no idea either.

            Republicans are outraged about "cancel culture," except for any book or school lesson plan featuring a clear-eyed assessment of America's racial past.

            When it comes to hypocrisy on said grounds, there's no place like Texas.

            Culture warriors and Big Bird denouncers say, "My body, my choice." They see no contradiction when women face state-mandated gestation upon conception.

            In Texas, Republicans have decided that "public service" means full devotion to wedge issues.

            Thank goodness we have leaders in Washington like Biden who look at national needs and seek to do something about them.

            By the way, how often have you heard Republicans refer to themselves as supporters of the family? We've heard Republicans say a lot about high prices of late, and a dearth of workers, and of course blame Biden.

            I wonder, though: Is there a single Republican in Washington who cares about the cost and availability of child care?

            Biden's proposals to help working families include subsidies so that families pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care.

            This is a massive national problem. Some parents are having to pay more for child care than rent.

            The percentage of Americans who did not return to work after the pandemic is stunning. But when it costs more to find a place for one's child than to put on that apron or join that phone bank, it's not really a choice.

            A study by Child Care Aware America in 2020 found on average nationwide, child care with a licensed provider rapidly approaching $1,000 a month.

            Cost is only one concern. A poll commissioned by NPR finds 36 percent of families on the verge of despair in finding child care.

            Sen. Joe Manchin has said he wants to attach a work requirement to extending the child tax credit that Biden signed into law with his economic stimulus plan.

            One would hope Manchin understands the link between moms working and trained providers with whom they can entrust their children.

            Culture warriors no doubt will respond to this with the same 1950s world view that possesses today's Republican Party.

            They would lead us back to those days, before menaces like Big Bird preyed on our young.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, November 7, 2021

From the GOP's Build-a-Myth workshop

            What's that you hear? The sounds of hammering and pounding, sanding and carving.

            It's the Republican Party, hard at work constructing myths and phantoms.

            At the Build-a-Myth workshop, the GOP builds the wedges it hopes will boost it back to national power.

            Like in Virginia, where governor-elect Glenn Youngkin rode a phantom to victory last week.

            The ghost in question is the absolutely hair-raising specter of "critical race theory." Youngkin said he'd ban it as his first order of business.

            It's a great appeal to fearful white people, though so ill-defined and so academically obscure as to barely even be a thing.

            It reminds me of a study that found the people most alarmed about illegal immigration have never met an undocumented individual and rarely deal with any people of color.

            I'll wager that applies to Fox News' Tucker Carlson, who by one count used the term "critical race theory" 130 times on his show since May.

            Carlson said on his show last week, "I've never figured out what 'critical race theory' is, to be totally honest, after a year of talking about it."

            This is the latest in a long line of Republican lies and logical fallacies akin to "Joe Biden wants to take away your burgers" because methane from cattle production harms the planet.

            What is it? Where is it?

            Phillip Bump in The Washington Post: "The boundaries of 'critical race theory' have been drawn with intentional fuzziness" to serve as an "umbrella descriptor" for anything that will alarm white voters.

            Right now Republican candidates far and wide turn to their consultants and say, "Hand me a wedge."

            Texas has become the nation's laboratory of wedge politics, with contrived crises constructed around anything having to do with transgender individuals, undocumented people -- caravans! invaders! -- the myth of rampant illegal voting and so much more.

            The voter fraud myth is that which Texas politicos have sought to prosecute for years and without a boot scratch of evidence. It underlies vote suppression efforts contrived to tamp down the voices of people of color. It is the forebear of Donald Trump's Big Lie.

            After big-bellied goons in tactical gear stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose father lost most of his family in the Holocaust, mused:

            "Germany was one of the most cultured countries in Europe. One of the most advanced countries. So how could a country of Beethoven, of so many great poets and writers, and Einstein, progress to barbarianism?"

            How? Lies, of course. Phantoms. The Jews. The gypsies. Homosexuals. All were threats to the Third Reich and the master race.

            Trump – just having unveiled his own social media platform with "Truth" as its trademark -- remains the standard-bearer of all liars.

            Everything about the man is a myth.

            A good businessman? Ask bankruptcy courts.

            A friend of the working man? Ask the contractors he stiffed.

            A guardian of our borders? Ask legions of undocumented employees he exploited.

            A patriot? So filled with love of country as to not lift a finger to protect the U.S. Capitol and Capitol police against rioters.

            The only cause in life to which PFC Bone Spurs has been committed is his own.

            While we're talking about myths, let's address the claim that Glenn Youngkin's win in Virginia was a repudiation of Joe Biden's policies. Sounds like something from the merry myth-makers.

            What happened in Virginia with Youngkin's win over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe was much like what happened in the 2016 presidential race:

            A person with a ton of experience -- with accompanying scars and enemies -- was beaten by someone with no political track record and "I alone can fix this" bromides. The winner was able to stir just enough swing voters to build on the enthusiasm that dog-whistle signals did for his base.

            Yes, Virginia. It worked. The Create-a-Myth Workshop hopes it will work every political season.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: