Nel's New Day

October 20, 2017

Pence, a Christian Ideologue Who Could Destroy Democracy

[Note: Yesterday’s blog post about not impeaching Donald Trump (DDT) brought a few comments. One is that “DDT” is a pesticide. Yes, it’s a poison that kills humans and harmless creatures, and the man inaugurated as U.S. president in January 2017 displays many characteristics of a dictator. Another one—”Explain to me again why just Pence would be worse than 45 + Pence.” Without DDT, Pence would be unleashed to make the nation a total unconstitutional theocracy. DDT is only interested in benefiting himself; Mike Pence will do anything to spread Dominionism throughout the world. People who still aren’t afraid of Pence after reading the following should go to some of the links for additional information.]

Becoming candidate for vice-president was a personal advantage for Mike Pence because his term as governor of Indiana was up for renewal. He was unpopular with both parties, his favorability down to 40 percent and only four points ahead of his Democratic opponent when 30 percent of the people in the state didn’t know who the Dem was.

Pence is an ideal sidekick for DDT, always willing to lie for him and always looking adoringly at DDT. Joel K. Goldstein, a historian at St. Louis University, calls him the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” Pence brought conservative donors who didn’t trust DDT back into the fold, especially the Koch brothers.

During his campaign for vice-president, Pence denied concern about the “Access Hollywood” tapes when DDT was caught bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” but a campaign aide said his wife, Karen, was horrified. Pence wouldn’t take calls from DDT but sent DDT a letter saying that he and his wife were deeply offended and needed to make an “assessment” about whether to remain with the campaign. Pence decided to stay, and DDT dumped New Jersey governor Chris Christie—and his thirty binders of résumés and plans—to make Pence head of his transition team. In his appointments, DDT leaned heavily on Koch-supported people: Scott Pruitt, Patrick Traylor, Don McGahn, Betsy DeVos, and Mike Pompeo. Koch involvement caused DDT base’s priorities to move down, subsumed by the corporate right. Gone are such Koch-opposed proposals as infrastructure reform, “border-adjustment tax,” and higher tax bracket for earnings over $5 million.

Two days after DDT was inaugurated, Stephen Roderick wrote about how Pence and DDT claimed to save jobs in Indiana by preserving 730 jobs at Carrier. Another 550 jobs that were being sent to Mexico. As usual, Pence had given the typical spin about Washington policies driving jobs offshore, but Mexican workers get $6 an hour, $1.75 less than federal minimum wage. As governor, Pence gave Carrier $7 million in state tax breaks. Sarah Palin called it “crony capitalism.”

Pence may be responsible for some of DDT’s current problems. Christie told DDT to avoid Michael Flynn, whose financial ties to foreign interests may have been the impetus for the investigation. Pence hired Flynn with almost no vetting although Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent warned him about Flynn’s questionable ethics: Flynn failed to disclose that he had done paid lobbying work during the campaign for Turkish interests. Pence claimed he didn’t see the letter, but Cummings has an email from the transition staff, promising to carefully review his letter. Flynn’s hiring most likely led to the special investigation surrounding DDT’s connection with Russia.

After DDT fired former FBI director James Comey, Pence again lied, claiming that the firing had nothing do to with the Russia investigation. He had attended a meeting about DDT’s intention to get rid of Comey where a letter connecting the firing to the Russia investigation was distributed. White House Counsel Don McGahn recommended against sending the letter, and the DOJ’s Rod Rosenstein made up an excuse for the firing. Hours after Pence claimed that DDT’s decision was based on Rosenstein recommendation, DDT told Lester Holt in an interview that Russia was the reason for his action. Pence’s lies may be classified as obstructing justice, or “misprision of a felony,” for giving the public a false cover story about a meeting to shut down a federal investigation.

Pence’s Bible-study group for Cabinet members is led by Ralph Drollinger who wrote:

“Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.”

Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband. He said that Pence “has uncompromising Biblical tenacity” and “brings real value to the head of the nation.”

Joan Walsh wrote that Pence is a far worse person than DDT “because of his creepy Handmaid’s Tale patriarchal approach to women’s equality. But also because he usually knows he’s lying about Trump, and their administration’s agenda, and he lies anyway.”

Pence’s argument against athletes taking a knee to protest injustice during the national anthem is the use of “national” in the NFL. He said, as if the NFL belongs to the government, “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that players in the National Football League to stand for our national anthem.”

Jeremy Scahill wrote about other Pence beliefs:

Pence wants to ban the burning of the U.S. flag and make the Patriot Act permanent. He thinks that law enforcement should not need a FISA warrant for domestic surveillance and voted against requiring any warrant for domestic wiretapping. He wanted to give retroactive immunity to telecom companies involved in warrantless surveillance. Pence said that “enhanced interrogation” has saved lives and doesn’t want congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. He also opposes protections for whistleblowers to prevent retaliation for reporting crimes and misdeeds. Expansion of the military tribunal system and “filling up” Guantanamo Bay are other Pence goals. No matter what, Pence will stand with Israel. Fortunately, he and other legislators failed in making a U.S. policy to use military force to eliminate nuclear threats in Iran.

Roe v. Wade would disappear in a Pence presidency, and he wants 14th Amendment protections for fetuses by declaring them persons. He voted for two-year sentences for doctors performing late-term abortions for any reason except the danger of women’s lives. If this had passed, women would have had to carry dead fetuses to term. According to Pence, “condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.”

Pence wants DDT’s “wall” and advocates greater militarization against drugs. He said that “police officers are the best of us” and finds it offensive to “use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism and that really has got to stop.” Stop-and-frisk programs are “on a sound constitutional footing,” according to Pence, who wants these on a nationwide basis.

No-bid contracting should not have restrictions, according to Pence, perhaps because he has a close relationship to Blackwater’s cofounder, Erik Prince, Betsy Devos’ brother. Pence and his Republican Study Committee welcomed Prince to Washington in 2007 after Blackwater operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. The Prince family joined with the DeVos family to fund the Republican Revolution when Newt Gingrich became House Speaker in 1994 on the platform Contract with America.

In the Concord Monitor, Robert Azzi wrote:

“I want [Donald Trunp] to stay in office because I fear a President Pence more than I fear Trump.

“While Trump the narcissist is an uneducated wanna-be statesman who seemingly has never read a book, who lacks empathy even for those close to him, and whom I believe couldn’t find Jerusalem on a map – at least not until either he or Jared got a contract to build a new tower or embassy there (a really, really, really beautiful thing – amazing, really!) – there are currently enough Republicans and Democrats (supported by grown-ups like Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster) who are equally so revulsed by his lies, his ignorance and his erratic-ness that they’re willing to stand in his way to keep his fingers off the nuclear codes.

“Trump’s ambitions can be deflected (he has the attention span of a gnat); Pence’s can’t, and his elevation to the presidency – either through Trump’s impeachment or resignation – would, I believe, present a clear and present danger to the pluralistic, aspirational, constitutional values upon which this nation relies for its strength and prosperity….

“Pence is the real thing. He’s much smarter than Trump, has better hair, has much more government experience, and he unrepentantly embraces and advocates for an unreconstructed Christian supremacist America…. Pence is the tip of the spear for a Christian Dominionist movement envisioned, as Betsy DeVos says, to “advance God’s kingdom….

“A Pence presidency would herald the rise of an American supremacist Taliban who’ll have their way rolling back the privacy and civil, human, religious and personal rights of Americans whom they believe, both in the present and in the hereafter, are less worthy than they.”

The worst part of impeaching DDT is that the Trumpets would solidify with the GOP party, giving them far more leverage. The U.S. is better off by leaving DDT where he is and controlling his ability to blow up the world. If DDT is impeached, only a Pence impeachment could save the nation—and that would never happen.

I have long believed, like longtime Democratic operative Harold Ickes, that Pence would work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. Newt Gingrich believes that Pence will be the 2024 GOP nominee. Pence is the first vice-president in history to have his own fundraising effort instead of raising money for the president, the party, and congressional and state-level candidates. He may be aiming at 2020. A Pence presidency would erase what is left of democracy in the United States.

 

October 13, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-eight – Unraveling, Part 1

The sole goal of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has been to erase everything that President Obama which includes “unraveling” all the improvements of the past eight years for the United States. This past week, however, the term unraveling has been used as often for DDT’s mental condition, in short his lack of fitness for leadership. In a piece for Vanity Fair, Gabriel Sherman wrote about how a number of Republicans close to DDT “all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.” DDT’s mental issues have come after another week of leaks, including his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling him a “moron,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) warning that DDT could start World War III because the White House is a “adult day care,” and a report about DDT calling for a ten-fold increase in the nation’s nuclear abilities during a meeting last summer.

DDT is furious that he has no major legislative accomplishments and lost the GOP senatorial primary in Alabama to Roy Moore. Two sources said that DDT ranted, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” Another source claimed that Chief of Staff and John Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis are trying to figure out what to do if DDT orders a nuclear first strike. Long-time DDT friend Tom Barrack is “shocked” and “stunned” by DDT’s behavior. A GOP donor said that calls to the Oval Office aren’t put through. Although DDT was willing to be interviewed by his friend Sean Hannity, he refused an interview with 60 Minutes.

Former white supremacist and strategist Steve Bannon told DDT early on that his greatest risk was the 25th Amendment, in which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove a president. About that amendment, DDT asked “What’s that?” Bannon has told people that DDT has a 30 percent chance of lasting the entire four-year term.

Even Rush Limbaugh has begun to criticize DDT. Regarding DDT’s attempt to make NFL athletes stand during the national anthem, Limbaugh said, “I am very uncomfortable with the president of the United States being able to dictate the behavior and power of anybody.”

White House staff use parenting techniques for toddlers with DDT. When he wanted to instantly end NAFTA or fire AG Jeff Sessions, former chief of staff Reince Priebus would suggest waiting until the next week or bring in advisers to talk with DDT. If that didn’t work, another tactic was to call all of DDT’s friends to talk him down from the edge. NF Gov. Chris Christie was asked at least five times to talk down an angry DDT, and aides kept Corker’s number on speed dial. DDT’s friends and aides would publicly criticize him, hoping that the media might help him listen to concerns. Decisions work better for DDT if there was only one choice. When he starts the day “worked into a lather,” aides “have to just move the conversation along to something else.” Daniel Drezner has a collection of how the aides to the Toddler-in-Chief have had to “contain” the Leader of the Free World.

This article is not the first to use the term “unraveling” for DDT’s actions: last spring Joan Walsh described DDT’s behavior last spring with the firing of former FBI director James Comey in connection with DDT’s insistence on the biggest numbers—for example, at the inauguration and in the popular vote. She gave Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee as one of DDT’s reason for firing him:

“Comey himself was confirming Trump’s darkest fear, the font of his angsty, crazy late-night and early-morning tweets: that he hadn’t won the presidency legitimately.”

DDT had always criticized the Iran deal because it was an important part of President Obama’s legacy. Ignoring the danger of a nuclear war, DDT has de-certified the international agreement that keeps Iran from building nuclear weapons. He didn’t totally withdraw, but he gave Congress 60 days to save the deal, knowing that the dysfunctional legislative body can’t even pass simple bills. DDT’s decision weakens the United States because the other five countries in the deal want it to continue. it is only one of five other countries in the agreement that plan to continue the agreement. The result may united Europe, the UK, Russia, and China against the United States. Any changes that the U.S. attempts will violate the agreement.

DDT’s base may want his “hardline” approach, but Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis agree that the constraints on Iran are in the U.S. national security interests. Mattis argued that Iran should be left alone, especially because of the nuclear issues with North Korea. Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush’s secretary of state, and Ehud Barak, hawkish toward Iran as a former Israeli prime minister and defense minister, also disagree with DDT’s de-certification.

DDT had no valid reason for his decision because Iran is still in compliance and the deal is working very well. Iran is in compliance, moving the country farther from building a bomb. The money Iran has redeemed after the agreement—formerly sanctioned Iranian money that DDT misrepresents as U.S. money—has increased Iranian business with Europe, an influential part of the six-country deal. U.S. departure won’t hurt Iran alone but it can keep inspectors from Iran, allowing nuclear weapon buildup. DDT has no idea what is contained within the Iran deal except it needs to be re-certified every 90 days—which annoys him.

DDT made two moves this past week in an attempt to unravel the Affordable Care Act and take health insurance from tens of millions of people. His decision to eliminate subsidies for low- and medium-income buyers of health insurance will increase both premiums by 20 to 25 percent for the next two years and the federal deficit by an average of $20 billion a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The end of subsidies will leave many counties without insurance providers for low-income people. DDT’s intent in ending subsidy payments to insurance companies may be to leverage Democrats into replacing the ACA. Fifteen states are suing to replace the payments.

DDT’s executive order provides a way for people to avoid higher premiums leaves them with insurance that provides little healthcare. It frees coverage from ACA regulations by exempting many association health plans from core ACA requirements, allowing individuals to join these plans, and extending short-term insurance to one year. Insurance policies, with no mandate to cover essential health benefits, allows insurance companies to charge sick people more than healthy people and permits them to deny people coverage based on their medical history. Another indication that DDT is personally unraveling is that he proudly announced the signing and then started to leave the room. When he was called back to actually do the signing, he said, “I’m only signing this because it doesn’t cost anything.” Once DDT was reminded that he needed to sign the order, he smiled proudly like a toddler in toilet training.

Other DDT actions to sabotage the ACA:

  • Erase almost all funding for outreach and assistance in enrolling for ACA;
  • Cut the open enrollment by over half;
  • Shut down the federal exchange on the first day of open enrollment as well as for twelve hours every Sunday except for December 10;
  • Use taxpayer money for negative ads about the ACA to post on YouTube;
  • Post negative information on Twitter and in press releases;
  • Remove guidance for ACA from website;
  • Fail to require individual mandate.

DDT is enacting a policy  in which the government spends billions more to insure fewer people in opposition to the wishes of the population. Seventy-one percent—48 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of independents—want the GOP to make the healthcare work.  In addition, DDT is violating the oath of office to uphold the constitution, specifically “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The ACA is a law, not a regulation.

DDT wants to take away licensing from media outlets because “it’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write.” There goes the “free press” in the First Amendment. Yet DDT has been good for some media outlets because of the vastly increased interest in following politics. At least one Republican has indicated a concern about DDT’s censorship plan.   Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) tweeted to the conservatives, “What will you wish you had said now if someday a President Elizabeth Warren talks about censoring Fox News?”

More unravelling in Part 2.

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