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How Top Pence Aide Made Masking Political -- And Doomed Thousands

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

In 2020 Marc Short, the chief of staff to then-Vice President Mike Pence, made a fateful decision that paved the way for the politicization of wearing masks. Had he chosen differently there's no question countless lives could have been saved.

Short, who once served as the executive director of the far right Young America's Foundation, "focused on the political and economic implications of the coronavirus response and approached many public health decisions by considering how they would be perceived," The Washington Post reveals. That report comes from a deep-dive into the Trump pandemic response detailed in the new book, Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, by Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta.

In possibly the most damaging of those decisions, Short nixed a plan, which was far along enough to have a PR campaign already created, to send face masks to every household in America. The Dept. of Health and Human Services was backing the program, while other reports have revealed the U.S. Postal Service was also working on it.

If it had been executed, "some public health experts think [it] would have depoliticized mask-wearing," The Post reports, but Short believed it "would unnecessarily alarm people."

Previous Post reporting revealed the program would have flooded the nation with 650 million face masks, five for every U.S. household.

Short has a long history of focusing on optics instead of fact-based communication to the public. As far back as the 1990's he labeled efforts to educate the public that HIV and AIDS do not only affect gay people a "propaganda campaign," a "distortion campaign," and "intentional deception."

And he called gay people "sodomites," while attacking "the perverted lifestyles homosexuals pursue," and delivered a warning to not "glorify homosexuals' repugnant practices."

Short tested positive for coronavirus in October.

Americans were already alarmed, but Short's and the White House's focus on optics and pretending the coronavirus was not as dangerous and deadly as it in fact is, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, led to hundreds of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided.

VIDEO: Evangelicals Heckle Pence As ‘Traitor’ At Florida Conference

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The conservative Christian Faith & Freedom "Road to Majority" conference erupted early Friday afternoon as pro-Trump attendees heckled and booed likely 2024 presidential hopeful Mike Pence, calling the former vice president a "traitor" for refusing to overturn a free and fair election on January 6.

Pence tried to ignore the verbal assaults, speaking over protestors. Some were escorted out of the room, according to a Tampa Bay Times editor:

Watch as Pence gets heckled. Video via Forbes' Andrew Solender:

Capitol Rioter Now Says He Was ‘Victim’ Of Internet Disinformation

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Some of the January 6 rioters who are facing federal criminal charges are now saying, as part of their defense, that they were misled, brainwashed or unfairly manipulated by then-President Donald Trump, MAGA media and/or the QAnon cult. And one of the rioters who is using that type of defense is QAnon supporter Doug Jensen, who is saying that he was a "victim" of false information from the far-right conspiracy movement.

Jensen is presently incarcerated, and a motion filed by his attorney argues that he should be released from jail while awaiting trial because he was misled by QAnon. The motion stated, "Doug Jensen was not an intended part of any group or mob at any time that day. He simply went to observe 'The Storm.' He was at the front of the crowd, but in no way leading anyone. He was in front of everyone for the now disclosed silly reason to get Q recognized for 'The Storm' that was about to take place."

According to the QAnon conspiracy theory, the United States' federal government was invaded by an international cabal of child sex traffickers, pedophiles, Satanists and cannibals — and that Trump was elected in 2016 to fight the cabal. In 2020, QAnon claimed that "The Storm" would occur when its battle against the cabal escalated.

As ridiculous as QAnon's beliefs are, some QAnon supporters have been elected to Congress, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

In video taken during the invasion of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, Jensen can be seen in his QAnon shirt leading others in the mob as he chased after Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman:

Jensen is facing seven federal charges, including obstructing a law enforcement officer and violent unlawful entry.

In an article published by Law & Crime on June 7, reporter Jerry Lambe explains, "Following his arrest in January, FBI Special Agent Tyler Johnson noted that Jensen 'said he went to D.C. to receive big news from Donald Trump,' and claimed to still be a steadfast believer of QAnon. Those theories, in short, purport that the world is run by a cabal of Satanist pedophiles which Trump was ordained to take down."

Lambe continues, "Jensen allegedly told Special Agent Johnson that he believed Mike Pence and several members of Congress were secretly going to be arrested on January 6, and even asked if law enforcement officials could 'let me in on that if you know those arrests are real.' Jensen also admitted to having a knife on him when he was inside the Capitol, though he claimed it was just his work pocketknife which he had on him 'for protection.'"

The motion calling for Jensen's pretrial release describes his actions on January 6 as "misguided" but argues that he thought he was being patriotic.

"As misguided as he was," the motion stated, "he believed he was a patriot waiting to observe the events anticipated by 'The Storm.' To be certain, Jensen refused to obey Officer Goodman's order to stop and leave. And he did continue to follow him up the steps inside the Capitol. But Jensen neither threatened physical harm to anyone, nor did he destroy any property."

Jensen's attorney argued, "For reasons he does not even understand today, he became a 'true believer' and was convinced he doing a noble service by becoming a digital soldier for 'Q.' Maybe it was mid-life crisis, the pandemic — or perhaps the message just seemed to elevate him from his ordinary life to an exalted status with an honorable goal. In any event, he fell victim to this barrage of internet-sourced info and came to the Capitol, at the direction of the president of the United States, to demonstrate that he was a 'true patriot.'"

Pence Stuns Crowd With Remarks On Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former Vice President Mike Pence broke his silence about the January 6 Capitol attack on Thursday, revealing that he and former President Donald Trump are still at odds over the event.

Pence stunned the audience with his remarks, according to one reporter present, appearing before a Republican Party event at the DoubleTree Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire. He has been reluctant to speak out about January 6., a day on which he was pitted against the Constitution by his former running mate. Trump, having bought into and stoked debunked claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen by now-President Joe Biden, repeatedly pressured Pence to use the congressional counting of the Electoral College votes on January 6 to overturn the result. However, Pence, like every reputable constitutional scholar, concluded that his ministerial role in the proceedings gave him no authority to change the result.

Ahead of the event, Trump gave a speech to his supporters who he had called to assemble in Washington D.C. and urged them to march toward the U.S. Capitol where Congress was gathered. Groups of his followers stormed the building and shut down the proceedings in a violent assault that left dozens of polices officers injured and several people dead. Democrats, along with more than a dozen congressional Republicans, accused Trump of inciting the violent insurrection.

Trump and the crowd's ire had been particularly targeted at Pence. One crowd of the insurrectionists was even filmed cheering "Hang Mike Pence."

"January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States' capital," Pence said on Thursday. "But thanks to the swift action of the U.S. Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured, and that same day, we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and laws of the United States."

At this point in the speech, the crowd was noticeably silent.

"You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day," he continued. "But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years."

The crowd broke into applause. But according to Business Insider reporter Jake Lahut, those remarks changed the tone of the evening.

"There was almost a palpable shock in the room when Pence mentioned January 6," Lahut reported on Twitter. "The vibe has gotten much quieter since Pence brought up Jan 6th."

Otherwise, Pence was full of praise for the former president, and he took shots at the Democrats. Even on the subject of Jan. 6, he accused Democrats of trying to use the day to "distract our attention" from the Biden administration. Though this critique rang hollow, given he both admitted to the seriousness of the violence that day and suggested that Trump was, at best, ambivalent about the attack.