Sunday, June 26, 2022

What non-voters have wrought

Last May, Gallup found eight of 10 Americans supported the right the Supreme Court just tossed in history's waste basket – the right for a woman to choose.

Next to go? Same-sex marriage in states bold enough to abolish it. A person's right to use contraception also is threatened.

What thereafter? Prohibition of interracial marriage? Resegregation of lunch counters?

Last week's ruling on abortion rights shows no precedent is going to stop Republican appointees from doing what partisans hired them to do.

Such are fruits reaped for leaving the most consequential matters in American history up to chance.

The chance that one justice would die on the cusp of a presidential election.

The chance that a previously pro-choice con man would become president with millions fewer votes than his progressive challenger.

The chance that on any number of matters – gun laws, reproductive rights, voting rights – the nation can and will be governed by a minority of a minority.

And we aren't just talking of the Cruz Caucus in a filibustered Senate.

In 2016 a lot of Republicans held their noses and voted for the Orange Con. They knew that the essence of the quest was control of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile a whole bunch of squishy centrists and haven't-given-it much thought progressives, particularly at a tender age of self-induced ignorance, didn't vote.

They convinced themselves that it didn't matter, that "there's no difference between the parties," or, "Hillary's going to win."

The local newspaper where I live interviewed collegians wearing "Vote for Nobody" buttons. Hardee har-har.

The Electoral College wasn't the reason behind the con man's gaining the power to populate the courts in 2016. Apathy was.

Four years later sufficient Americans were appalled by the con man that they removed him from office. Too late for what would happen to the Supreme Court.

Three Supreme Court vacancies presented themselves in the four years prior, including one opened up when Senate Republicans denied even a hearing to Barack Obama's nominee.

So, two points: (1) elections matter; (2) parties matter.

Never in modern history have the two major political parties presented such stark differences – on abortion rights, on LGBTQ rights, on voting rights, on gun laws, on corporate control of lawmaking.

Oh, yes, corporate control. The conservative control of this court is corporate – the result of years of big-money plotting by interests like the Koch dynasty and proxies in the Federalist Society.

This is what we have because too many voters left too much of governing up to chance.

This matter goes back to when another Republican ascended to the presidency with fewer votes than his opponent.

Lest we forget: That man, George W. Bush, appointed Samuel Alito, author of last week's ruling, along with Chief Justice John Roberts.

In 2000 much was made of an already conservative Supreme Court siding with Bush in awarding Florida to him. Much was made of the unfairness of the Electoral College.

But the Supreme Court didn't award Florida to Bush. Nor did the voters who thought they were voting for Al Gore but were confused by ballots into voting for Patrick Buchanan.

What awarded the presidency to Bush was the thousands of progressive Floridians who cast a protest vote for Ralph Nader, somehow a blow for a greener world.

Ironic it was then that Gore -- too squishy for Nader voters – would win the Nobel Peace Prize for heroic efforts to warn the planet about what carbon pollution is doing to it and to us.

The bottom line: People who believe in all of the things Republicans oppose – abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, expanded voting rights, stronger gun laws -- have got to start voting against the those who would put the minority in charge on our highest court.

This is going to happen, in increasing numbers.

Trump himself, while crowing of his anti-choice achievement on Fox News, privately has warned that the Supreme Court's abortion ruling will hurt the GOP at the polls.

Darned right.

The lesson to voters: Stop leaving your government up to chance.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.  

 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Deputized to defend abortion rights

Rattle, rattle. What's that sound? It's a big-government conservative picking through the garbage of a woman alleged to have been pregnant.

Click, click. That's big-government conservatives hacking into a woman's menstrual cycle app.

When politicians make a woman's private medical decisions their own, things like this can happen.

Indeed, President Biden this week was pondering several measures, including having the Federal Trade Commission order the makers of apps that track menstrual cycles to warn users that their bodily functions could become prosecutorial fodder.

I hadn't considered the true ramifications of today's red-state rush to ban abortion until I read a fiery New York Times commentary from Fairfax County, Va., district attorney Steve Descano.

Descano is among a growing group of prosecutors who say they will not go after women or providers impacted by laws that criminalize abortion.

He wrote of "Orwellian" means tailored to Republican ends, say, if a woman had to prove to the state that a miscarriage was not an abortion.

Anti-abortion zealots will call that an overwrought notion. They won't blink, however, at laws right out of Orwell like deputizing citizens to sue providers and those who aid in abortions after fetal cardiac activity is noted, around six weeks into a pregnancy. The Texas Legislature crafted this bill in its 2021 session.

It is encouraging to hear of people like Descano and jurisdictions that won't play along with the quest to criminalize a woman's medical decisions.

The Austin City Council would effectively decriminalize abortion with a resolution putting it the very bottom of law enforcement priorities. Other cities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are considering similar measures.

Now it's time for all in the majority of Americans who support a woman's right to act on that feeling.

Consider yourselves deputized.

Joe Biden is doing it by considering options to preserve women's control of their own bodies.

One is to declare a national health emergency should the Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade. Another would be to use federal authority to prevent states from prohibiting out-of-state travel to obtain health services.

Another would assert federal preeminence over state bans of abortion medication obtained across state lines.

To that end, on behalf of all deputized to defend reproductive rights, let me share this web site:  shareabortionpill.info

It holds the key to obtaining abortion medication in a state that prohibits it, along with support from the growing number of entities.

Be a supporter.

Lend a hand, financially and vocally, to Planned Parenthood and organizations that do so much heavy lifting to help women control their own reproductive destinies.

No, we aren't just talking about abortion, though that's all the anti-choice right wants to talk about.

The anti-choice right, and scandalously, the leadership of the Republican Party, not only is a sworn enemy of Roe but also of contraception and its providers.

The Republican vendetta against Planned Parenthood is a disgrace – and indefensible – considering that no entity does more to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies and, by logical extension, the abortion dilemma.

To any big-government conservative who says, "How dare police and district attorneys not enforce an abortion ban" – what have you been saying when sheriffs in rural counties have refused to enforce red flag and other gun measures? Likely you've applauded them. Great Americans. Supporters of freedom.

Yes, freedom. Freedom to consult one's doctor. Freedom to decide how many mouths to feed.

With a Supreme Court ruling imminent, we are at the juncture where the dog that chased the car – the religious right with the Republican Party its master – catches the car and gets a bumper smack in the grill. The GOP will not prosper politically from this.

 

All deputized to defend reproductive rights must make sure the GOP feels the bite at the polls.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The lie is what these hearings are about

The polls say Liz Cheney will get scorched in August's Wyoming primary.

No surprise there. Donald Trump is The Man in a state where carbon is god and carbines are currency.

Wyoming's ruling majority embodies Trump's boast: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters."

Or he could sit on his hands during a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Or revel at chants about executing his vice president.

Or piece together a political conspiracy to flush this democracy down the drain.

The horrors portrayed by the Jan. 6 committee will not penetrate enough consciences in Cheney's state to reward her own acts of conscience.

But Cheney won the evening – and assured herself a role in history's retelling -- when she said of her many Republican cohorts, "There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain."

The Fox News crowd can ignore them. The hearings will pierce enough consciences to further wound Trump and the party that continues to look the other way at his crimes and conniving.

In advance of the hearings, I was concerned that Day 1 mostly would be a chronology of the Capitol riot, a "seen it" matter for those not inclined to relive it.

To my immense pleasure, the first night did a masterful job of interweaving two crimes: the terrorist attack and the Big Lie that underpinned it.

Wow. What a testimony in the widened my-dad's-a-serial-liar eyes of Ivanka Trump.

What a testimony in the shrug of Jared Kushner, that the threatened resignations of those Trump put atop the Justice Department team were just "whining."

"Whining." I imagine that's what Kushner had to say about Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards who told of getting bear-sprayed, tear-gassed and crushed under a big-bellied mob.

All of this suffering. All of this trauma. All because of a lie and a liar. The most skilled and practiced liar in American history.

As former Missouri senator Claire McCaskill said on MSNBC, Donald Trump "embraced immoral lying all his life and thought he could get away with the ultimate lie of all."

A lie? Tucker Carlson says the whole Jan. 6 narrative is one of those. "It wasn't an insurrection," he hyperventilated as the committee convened. Tucker is going to play the semantics game. The terrorists were playing a head-cracking game.

The good thing about where these hearings appear headed is that the lie is the thing.

Ah, but, "Trump was just exercising his right to free speech at the Ellipse." "He couldn't know a riot would emanate." "There's no evidence he conspired directly with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers." 

The fact is, all of these matters are immaterial. This is all about the lie and the conspiracy to make it into reality.

The lie was why the rioters were there. Co-conspirators like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Mike Lee, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are central to why rioters were ready for war.

Trump continues to prosecute that lie, continues to raise money to advance the lie. This is not good for the party that has sworn allegiance to him.

What becomes of Liz Cheney after conscience-less voters vote her out? Here is my fondest wish:

Cheney should run as a third-party candidate for president. Former GOP chairman Michael Steele asserts there's a growing political segment called "accountability Republicans" who would cringe to vote Democrat but don't want another Trump presidency.

It would also mean that at every debate, and every step of Trump's candidacy, she would be there, reminding voters of what he is all about.

Cheney as an option on the ticket would be the death knell for the Trump phenomenon.

Then Trump truly will be gone, leaving in office only those whose dishonor will remain.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

 

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Big Lie hearings will make memories

I wonder if anyone else my age thinks of Watergate as a bonding experience. I certainly do.

I was home from college. My father and I watched every second of the congressional hearings, he on his olive-green recliner, me on the floor, sometimes gripping the tan ottoman as we watched the Nixon administration unravel in a cavalcade of lies.

A similar opportunity awaits with public hearings on Jan. 6 and the Big Lie, starting Thursday evening June 9.

Pull up an ottoman.

Not to equate Jan. 6 and Watergate. They don't compare. In scope and intent, Donald Trump's effort to subvert democracy is Hurricane Katrina, and Watergate is but a spring mist.

Back in '73 we got to know the names: Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, Colson, Liddy.

Crooks they were, con men, serving a man who said he wasn't one of those.

Ah, memories.

Now let Americans be reminded of those who not only helped organize an insurrection but conspired in the shadows to literally wrench democracy from the voters' hands.

Let Americans know about Trump's role.

For a long time, the issue seemed to be that while rioters were overtaking the Capitol, Trump was silent. Now we know that he was celebrating it, even the urgings of his trained goons to hang his vice president.

Let's hear about that.

Let's hear about the parade of people who urged Trump to show a thimble full of conscience and express his outrage. Instead, his message to the terrorists was, "We love you."

There's so much more for Americans to know. We deserve to know more about the fake electors lined up to make it so the 2020 election never happened. A Georgia grand jury right now is hearing about that abomination.

We deserve to know more about the war-room strategy of Trump toadies in Congress to stop the count in hopes that Mike Pence would throw out what the people did. Of course, he had no such power. He said so. Then Trump issued a statement saying Pence said just the opposite.

As a liar, Trump makes Richard Nixon look like Nathan Hale. Hale had only one life to give for his country. What a sucker. To hold power, Trump would let his country die.

The truth about the Big Lie is that it wasn't precipitated by anything that happened on Election Day 2020. Trump telegraphed his claims of a rigged election long before the voters said, "Out."

The morning after his 3 million-vote drubbing, Trump strode to the mike and delivered, what Jonathan Karl, in his book "Betrayal," calls "perhaps the most dangerous speech by a president ever."

That's where the Big Lie was born -- Trump saying he had won, and won by a lot, calling the results of the election a "fraud on the American public."

The seeds of insurrection had been sown.

At this point, more than 150 people who broke the law Jan. 6 have been convicted. One law-breaker is at the fifth tee right now.

There's a useless discussion about whether the Jan. 6 hearings will change minds. For those who subscribe to the disinformation of Fox News talkers, no way.

But a lot of people, the independent voters who don't hang on Sean Hannity's every word, will be listening and be reminded, some forewarned in detailed fashion, of the threat Donald Trump and his Republican Party present to our nation.

Those memories will linger.

Right now, adherents of the Big Liar are drawing up plans to subvert all elections with the goal of gaslighting voters in the next presidential election to re-install their guy as president. Where possible, they are installing election deniers to administer voting --foxes salivating in the hen house.

Nothing Richard Nixon ever conceived matched what Donald Trump tried and his supporters continue to try.

Another key distinction: When Nixon's connivers and conspirators were sent on their penal ways, they were done. Trump and his conspirators are not done.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

'Warning signs'? How about at point of purchase?

As Donald Trump butchered the names of the 21 Uvalde dead, a ghoulish gong chimed for each.

That's not what was heard by those he addressed at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston.

Each gong was a "ka-ching."

"Ka-ching" for gun sales to come, for appliances of death to fly off shelves, for profits to swell. They always do after a major mass shooting, you know.

So, too, with campaign funds.

Trump got a standing O. Ted Cruz, too. That's some courage. A group pays you gobs of campaign stash to do something. You do it. People stand, applaud, and donate more.

This is a simple transaction.

Transactions – riches exchanged for the power to kill -- are what this is all about, not the Constitution. The gun lobby's (and the GOP's) interpretation of the Second Amendment, said Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Republican appointee, was "one of the biggest pieces of fraud on the American people by special interest groups."

Recently Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted to chide Texans at figures showing California tops in gun sales and Texas No 2.

Let's keep that hardware flowing. The better to fund our campaigns.

"Arm teachers," say Cruz and fellow NRA marionettes. Texas has allowed this for some time. Few teachers are willing. All of them should be affronted that they are asked to do what Ted Cruz won't – step forward and do something to save lives.

What a high-caliber canard from the Thoughts and Prayers Caucus.

"Arm teachers" ignores the other venues where heavily armed and armored individuals have laid innocents low with weapons of war – which is just about anywhere.

Except at NRA pow-wows – no guns allowed there.

'Warning signs" are things we contemplate, and about which news services report, when things like this happen. Mostly we read about messages on social media from young maniacal males telegraphing their deeds. Rarely do they make it a secret.

Everyone should take those words seriously. But the most acute "warning sign" is when that young man plunks down money for an assault weapon, a truckload of ammo and tactical gear.

Whoever sells it to him has blood on his hands.

The Constitution does not convey the right of anyone to buy any weapon imaginable. The assault weapons ban that a Republican majority in Congress allowed to lapse in 2004 was upheld by the courts. "To bear arms" doesn't mean "any and all arms."

Those who say such restrictions don't do a thing are ignorant of the facts.

In the first four and half years of that ban on the sale and importation of specified weapons, signed by President Clinton in 1994, the nation had no – zero – mass shootings.

The fact that so many AR and AK weapons are in circulation should be noted as wholly irrelevant. The objective should be to put up official roadblocks at every step and start to curb their rush into human hands.

As to another canard – that there's no such thing as an "assault weapon" – the answer should be: An assault weapon is whatever we, the people, say it is.

Similar logic should apply to high-capacity magazines. How much is too much firepower? It should be what we, the people, deem it to be.

The National Rifle Association should not write our laws. Those are our laws. This land is our land.

Gun violence is the greatest crisis this country has ever faced. Last year alone 17,555 Americans died at the end of a gun.

That toll being just shy of six 9/11 catastrophes, we should have precautions that are six times as stringent.

That would mean a ban on the sale of assault weapons, universal background checks, FBI probes for social media threats or the purchase of excessive ammunition or Kevlar vests. And that should just be the beginning.

At the NRA meeting ("No time to politicize these things") Trump ended his purely political appeal to friends and donors with what one report called a "cha-cha dance."

So solemn, so respectful in the face of tragedy. But then, the media had misreported. He was actually doing the "ka-ching" dance.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

 

Monday, May 23, 2022

'Replacement theory' is designer ignorance

           Dear Fox News viewer: Whatever you might think about "critical race theory," one thing it hasn't done is kill anyone.

            Not like the "replacement theory" Tucker Carlson can't stop talking about, the "great replacement" that drove a man many miles to a grocery store in Buffalo to shoot Black people.

            The same idea, Tucker's pet talking point, motivated a gunman to kill 23 brown-skinned people at an El Paso Walmart in 2019.

            It's the same idea that has been so politically profitable for a certain political demagogue who won the presidency in 2016. Find your constituents. Scare your constituents.

            Hear Cynthia Miller-Idriss, senior fellow with the Center for the Analysis of the Radical Right:

            "Rhetoric that uses the word 'replace' definitely legitimizes and reinforces the idea of a 'great replacement.' Language like 'invasion,' 'incursion,' 'defense,' all reinforce the idea of a threat."

            Throw in "caravan." All are preferred terms of Donald Trump and MAGA zealots.

            Of course, if we understand American history, we realize that the forefathers of MAGA were marginalized and terrorized.

            The Irish. The Germans. The Italians. "Coming to replace us."

            What were Protestants protesting, anyway? Repression at the hands of the majority. They were the "others" across the ocean.

            The root of the Baptist denomination was the oppression of a tyrannical sectarian majority and the imperative of separating church and state.

            This is American history. It is fascinating that people who spread fear and distrust keep these truths at education's margins, and put myths about Manifest Destiny front and center.

            That brings us to what candidates seeking to appeal to aggrieved whites (aggrieved about . . .?) have chosen as the boogieman of the moment: "critical race theory."

            Rather than attempt to dissect what exactly the term means, let's just say that what opponents fear is too much truth.

            Too much truth can make you think.

            Here are some truths:

            The vast majority of Black soldiers who fought and died for freedom overseas in World War II were excluded from the GI Bill of Rights.

            This is because lawmakers in the South made sure the federal program was administered by states, putting Jim Crow segregationists in charge of the many benefits returning soldiers expected and white soldiers enjoyed.

            That may be the clearest example of how institutional racism is part of this nation's DNA. And I know that if the preceding words were in a textbook in Texas, Florida and a host of states run by social censors, they would never see the light of day. If the state didn't censor them, the teacher would, in order to keep a job increasingly in peril.

            In Virginia, Glenn Youngkin shamelessly campaigned for governor on the supposed threat posed by critical race theory. In victory, he issued an executive order banning it, whatever the term means.

            In practice, for instance,I presume it means Virginia school children have no chance of learning that Virginia passed the Racial Integrity Act in 1924, which, in prohibiting interracial marriage and otherwise legitimizing segregation, defined a white person as having "no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian."

            Institutional racism? A scurrilous claim!

            I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if the Buffalo shooter had repeatedly seen the truth about America's history of racial exclusion and the hysteria historically aimed at the "others," he would possess a shred of life-sparing empathy.

            Jim Crow was at the height of his glory, the Ku Klux Klan ruling many statehouses, when in a speech to the Urban League in 1946, Albert Einstein said the truth about America's racist underpinnings must never be obscured:

            "The taboo 'let's-not-talk-about-it' must be broken. It must be pointed out time and time again," saying the treatment of people of color was "a slap in the face of the Constitution."

            This treatment of "the other" is the story of all of us. People who know it are far more prone to understand those of us who still feel the weight of yesterday's oppression.

            Education saves lives. Designer ignorance kills.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.