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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: mike pence

As Trump Announces, GOP Rivals Are Packing Into The Clown Car Again

The campaign is underway. I’m going to be covering it right down to the wire in November of 2024. This column is free to all subscribers, but many will be available only to paid subscribers. If you want to receive all of my columns, free and paid, you can become a paid subscriber right here.

Donald Trump’s in the pool – in fact, he’s in the deep end, over his head with all the investigations and possible indictments he faces – and the question now is, who else is going to jump in?

Mike Pence? He’s on a book tour, polishing his Jayzus bona fides, perhaps responding to the fact that several evangelical leaders have expressed doubts about the former president, at least giving the former vice president some hope. Robert Jeffress, a pastor at the First Baptist Dallas church in Texas and previously a close ally and spiritual adviser to Trump (yes, there were such things afoot in the land in past years), told Newsweek last week that he isn’t prepared to support Trump just yet. Although he called the Bellowing One “a great president” and said he would support him in 2024 if he becomes the nominee, for now, Jeffress is sitting on his Bible: “The Republican Party is headed toward a civil war that I have no desire or need to be part of,” Jeffress told Newsweek.

Another evangelical leader spoke out frankly about the Eminently Indictable One at a meeting last week of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers (NACL) in Irving, Texas. James Robison, the president of the Christian group Life Outreach International, told the group that Trump acted “like a little elementary schoolchild…if Mr. Trump can’t stop his little petty issues, how does he expect people to stop major issues?” Christian lawmakers in the room did not respond positively, The Washington Post reported: “The crowd remained still. Some lawmakers in the ballroom exchanged glances, appearing unsure of how to respond. A few people chuckled awkwardly.”

Mike Evans, Texas author and Christian Zionist who raises money for outreach and support in Israel and was on Trump’s loosely-formed “evangelical advisory board,” wrote in an op-ed in the Post earlier this month that he once left a rally held by the Fake Christian One “in tears because I saw Bible believers glorifying Donald Trump like he was an idol. Donald Trump can’t save America. He can’t even save himself. He used us to win the White House. We had to close our mouths and eyes when he said things that horrified us,” Evans wrote in the Post. “I cannot do that anymore.”

Ron DeSantis? The Harvard and Yale Educated One is said to be meeting with major Republican donors and biding his time. Dan Eberhart, a big-time Republican fund-raiser who has backed the Palm Beach Secret Hoarder in the past, told NBC he’s all-in for DeSantis this year. “If Trump is going to be in, I would like for him not to be the only national Republican candidate out there. But DeSantis isn’t going to get in until after the Florida legislative session ends, at least. Anyone that gets in now runs the risk of peaking too early.”

What about the rest of them? Well, the Clown Car is still out there. You remember Nikki Haley, don’t you? Former South Carolina Governor and Trump’s ambassador to the U.N., Haley told the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas over the weekend that she is considering getting into the race “in a serious way.” She told the crowd that it’s time for “a younger generation to lead across the board.” Hinting strongly at who she was really talking about, Haley said she wasn’t ready to blame “one person” for the disastrous Republican showing in the midterms, but “we don’t need more politicians who just want to go on TV and talk about our problems.” Then she pointedly reminded the crowd that “I have never lost an election and I’m not going to start now.”

Mike Pompeo? He was at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference, too, declaring that although he had been “loyal” in the past, his loyalty had never been “to a person, or a party or a faction.” By omitting the name of the guy who appointed him to be secretary of state, Pompeo left no doubt who he was talking about. If Republicans want to win elections, Pompeo thundered, they can’t just “go on Fox News or send tweets. Personality and celebrity just aren’t going to get it done. We can see that. The American people did not want to look back, they wanted to move forward. They care about what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday.”

In fact, there was a whole thing about it’s not a time to “look back,” and we’re finished with “talking about the past” at the meeting in Las Vegas. Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who was term-limited and did not run for reelection this year, told the crowd that his reading of the Republican losses in the midterms showed that voters had “sent a clear message that they want to turn the page.” Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the crowd that Republicans lost the midterms because “Donald Trump has put himself before everybody else.”

The ex-Trump confidant Christie, however, was the only speaker at the conference to utter the name of the FBI Searched One out loud.

The Associated Press reported that while “No fewer than 10 White House prospects stepped onto the stage in Las Vegas…perhaps no one was cheering louder than Trump himself from his Florida estate.” Why would that be, you ask? Well, with so many challengers making noises about getting into the race, Putin’s Favorite Candidate is in the same position he was in back in 2016, when he trashed the occupants of the Clown Car one by one and split the vote in the primaries until he arrived at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July as the Anointed One.

What do we hear from the Lily-Livered Caucus in the Senate? Well, The Hill reported today that only one Republican senator, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, has come out and said he will support Trump for the presidency. What about the Senator from Obsequious, Lindsey Graham (R-SC)? Not on board yet, but he has allowed as how Trump will be “hard to beat.” Senator Kevin Cramer from North Dakota – I know, I’ve never heard of him either – bravely says “it’s too early.” Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming – another Republican stand-out from a state with a population smaller than Brooklyn – “made a splash last week when she identified DeSantis, not Trump, as the de facto leader of the Republican Party,” according to The Hill. But perhaps Utah's Mitt Romney, the Senator From The 47 Per Cent, described the reaction of the Lily-Livered Caucus best: “One senator in a meeting we had this week said, ‘How many in this room want to see President Trump announce he’s running for president today?’ Not one hand up.”

With all this bravery in the Senate, how, exactly, does a prospective candidate begin inching away from The Frightening One? For an answer to this imponderable, let’s go back to West Point graduate Mike Pompeo. He should know something about Courage In The Face of Imminent Danger, shouldn’t he? Well, this is what he told Semafor when he was asked how and when he was going to begin to move away from Le Gros Terrible de Mar a Lago: “I haven’t shifted. Tell me what the shift is? I’m contemplating presenting myself as the potential president of the United States to the citizens of America. There’s no shift. The things that worked, we should continue to go do.” Wow, you’ll be on the list for the Silver Star for that one, Mike.

Back at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas, Eric Levine, a Republican donor from New York, told the AP that it was past time for some of the clowns to get off the stage so the party could settle on two or three candidates and avoid the mistakes they made in 2016. “I don’t think we have the luxury of waiting,” Levine said. “If he [Trump] becomes the Republican brand, the party is going to be destroyed.”

But try to tell that to the base, even the relatively wealthy base that was at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas over the weekend. Politico reported that when Trump addressed the crowd by video from Mar a Lago on Saturday, he was “met by rapturous applause.”

I can think of a few folks who hope the crowds stay just as rapturous about The Excessively Made-Up One as the campaign gets underway. Let’s see…the entire Democratic Party, maybe?

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Theater Of Cruelty: The Indecent Republican Response To Pelosi Attack

The House speaker's husband was brutally attacked, and most GOP officeholders — even the "good Republicans" we've been assured will usher us out of Trumpism — failed the test.

A handful still had enough of a decency default to find the right words. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted his concern, as did former Vice President Mike Pence. But the former president was silent. Most elected Republicans were as well.

Kevin McCarthy took his time. He didn't tweet for most of the day except to say, through an aide, that he had reached out privately to Nancy Pelosi. That's nice, but that's not what the situation calls for. The crucial thing is to condemn the act publicly and leave no doubt that when it comes to acts of violence and terrorism, there are no Democrats or Republicans, only Americans.

On Saturday evening, Kevin McCarthy finally found it within himself to say the attack was "wrong" but immediately vitiated the sentiment with heavy-handed whataboutism. "We've watched this with Lee Zeldin, we've watched this with Supreme Court justices, this is wrong — violence should not go. You watch what happened to Steve Scalise and others. This has got to stop." McCarthy's list contained only Republican victims.

While Paul Pelosi was in surgery, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin told a campaign crowd that "Speaker Pelosi's husband, they had a break-in last night in their house, and he was assaulted. There's no room for violence anywhere, but we're gonna send her back to be with him in California. That's what we're going to go do." Very tasteful. The audience naturally cheered, because crowds, especially at political rallies, are not given to sober reflection. That's why leaders must set the right tone.

So even the "normal" Republicans are, if not trolls themselves, troll adjacent.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, another Republican who seemed, if you squinted just the right way, to be normal, appeared on Meet the Press the day after Paul Pelosi was attacked. Sununu looked wise when he declined to run for the Senate and accurately characterized Don Bolduc, the GOP's eventual Senate candidate, as "not serious, a conspiracy type" back in the spring. Today though, Sununu is supporting Bolduc because he wears the correct jersey. So it's not terribly surprising that he lapsed into whataboutism, saying, "This started back in the summer of 2020, right, when you saw cities burning, you saw not a whole lot of accountability there."

This is a version of a Republican talking point. Democrats failed to condemn the violence that followed the murder of George Floyd, they say, so they have unclean hands when it comes to the violence committed by Trump's mob on January 6. While it's true that some Democrats seemed soft on antifa violence in the summer of 2020, there are a few flaws with the argument.

For one thing, leading Democrats, including the party's presidential nominee, did condemn the violence repeatedly. Second, the rioters were not acting as agents of any political party. They were not called into the streets by the president of the United States with the words "stand by" and "will be wild!" They were not carrying flags emblazoned with Biden's name. And third, while the violence that followed Floyd's murder was unconscionable and extremely destructive of property, it was not political except in a very abstract sense. It was not designed to, and could not have, affected the outcome of any election, for example. Nor did it involve threats of violence against political figures. There was tremendous property damage, but no gallows erected for Republican officeholders and no rioters chanting, "Hang Donald Trump."

Democrats have not fetishized guns and violence as the GOP has. They have not elevated to hero status a young man, Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot his way into a protest, killing a man; nor featured gun-brandishing suburbanites at their national convention; nor filled their commercials and even their Christmas cards with images of themselves bedecked with weaponry.

So Sununu's bothsidesism breaks down.

Nor is there anything to compete with the GOP's descent into sheer brutishness. Larry Elder, noting that Paul Pelosi had been arrested for a DUI a few months ago, tweeted: "Poor Paul Pelosi. First, he's busted for DUI and then gets attacked in his home. Hammered twice in six months."

What the hell is wrong with these people?

All of this is a garden party compared with the bilge (thank you, Charlie Sykes) released into the atmosphere by Donald Trump Jr. Repeating a rumor from the fever swamps (which rumor was later retweeted and then taken down by the new chief Twit), he displayed a picture of men's underwear and a hammer, saying "Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready." The vile, baseless claim that Pelosi was in the midst of a homosexual tryst with his attacker thus became the official conservative response to a horrifying attack on a defenseless 82-year-old man.

It's beginning to look like Republicans go along with Trumpism not because they feel they must, but because they've really come to embody it.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Pence Blames Trump For Stoking January 6 Capitol Riot In New Memoir

Former President Trump hit “sowed” the seeds for the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack when he appointed the Inebriated Rudy Giuliani and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell legal strategy leads for his crusade to overturn the 2020 election result, ex-Vice President Mike Pence writes in a new book, titled So Help Me God.

The publisher, Simon & Schuster, in a promotional piece, said the book, debuting November 15, “is the inside story of the Trump Administration by its second-highest ranking official” that “chronicles President Trump’s severing of their relationship on January 6, 2021, when Pence kept his oath to the Constitution.”

In an excerpt published by Axios on Monday, Pence recalled how a post-election meeting to brief then-President Trump on his failing election challenges turned into a fiery exchange between Trump’s official campaign lawyers and the external attorneys.

"What began as a briefing that Thursday afternoon,” Pence wrote, “quickly turned into a contentious back-and-forth between the campaign lawyers and a growing group of outside attorneys led by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, an attorney who had represented General Mike Flynn [ex-national security adviser convicted for lying to the FBI who was pardoned by Trump].

“After the campaign lawyers gave a sober and somewhat pessimistic report on the state of election challenges, the outside cast of characters went on the attack ... Giuliani told the president over the speakerphone, ‘Your lawyers are not telling you the truth, Mr. President.’

"Even in an office well acquainted with rough-and-tumble debates, it was a new low .... [and] went downhill from there," Pence wrote. "In the end, that day the president made the fateful decision to put Giuliani and Sidney Powell in charge of the legal strategy ... The seeds were being sown for a tragic day in January."

Pence’s relationship with Trump has made many headlines since the former president — whose coup attempts were denounced by the courts, the “Team Normal” arm of his party and counsel, and a majority of American voters — turned to his vice president to advance his coup efforts, in abject betrayal of the Constitution.

The House Select Committee, in its public January 6 hearings, painted in evocative detail a picture of the blistering public and private pressure Trump and his inner circle applied to Pence to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

The fake elector scheme, arguably the most expansive of Trump’s coup plots — which Trumpworld pressed Pence to agree to, including sitting members of Congress — centered on appointing a slate of bogus electors subservient to Trump in crucial swing states that Biden won.

Pence’s dismissal of the elector plan and subsequent refusal to bow to pressure culminated in a “heated” phone call between Trump and Pence the morning of January 6 and, later that day, the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of irate Trump supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

“Donald Trump wanted Mike Pence to do something no other vice president has ever done: the former president wanted Pence to reject the votes and either declare Trump the winner or send the votes back to the states to be counted again,” select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said on June 6, during the House panel’s public hearing.

“Mike Pence said no,” Thompson continued. “He resisted the pressure. He knew it was illegal. He knew it was wrong.”

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing but has berated Pence — first during the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the January 6 riot and multiple times thereafter — for his refusal to cooperate with his election subversion campaign.

Pence has suggested he won’t back a potential Trump 2024 bid, saying, “There might be someone else I prefer more,” according to the Washington Post.

The former President, who is reportedly waiting out the midterms before announcing his 2024 ambitions, has

allegedly stated that he won’t ever pick Pence as a running mate again because the former VP “committed political suicide” by refusing to intervene in the electoral vote certification.

Oath Keeper Threatened Pence's Life Before January 6 Riot

When far-right supporters of then-President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, they were not only angry with Democrats, but also with Republicans they believed had betrayed Trump — including then-Vice President Mike Pence. Crowds of Trump supporters chanted, “Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence” that day, and some of them even set up a gallows outside the Capitol.

But the danger that Pence faced did not start on January 6. Journalist Pilar Melendez, in an article published by the Daily Beast on October 14, reports that a pro-Trump member of the Oath Keepers was threatening violence against Pence even before that.

Evidence presented in a courtroom on October 14, according to Melendez, revealed that Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell threatened Pence with violence in a text message dated January 1, 2021. Caldwell said of the then-vice president, “If he hopes to live till Friday, he better stand tall.”

As members of the Oath Keepers, QAnon, the Proud Boys and other far-right groups saw it, Pence let Trump down when he said he did not have the authority to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

In a December 2020 message, according to Melendez, Caldwell said, “It begins for real Jan 5 and 6 in Washington DC when we mobilize in the streets. Let them try to certify some crud on Capitol Hill with a million or more patriots in the streets. This kettle is set to boil.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Within Secret Service And FBI, Trump's Influence Is Strong -- And Ruinous

Americans’ confidence in once sacrosanct institutions is ebbing at a rate not seen in this country since the Vietnam War drove people to protest in the streets in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Latest to disappear down the rabbit hole Trump has burrowed beneath the foundations of the nation’s government are the Secret Service and the FBI, two institutions long revered as bastions of service and the high ideals of the rule of law.

The Secret Service is tasked with providing protection to the president and vice president and their families, former holders of the two highest offices in the land, and candidates for those offices while they campaign. In addition, the Secret Service as a law enforcement agency safeguards the banking system and other financial institutions, investigating cases of bank and mail fraud and the counterfeiting of currency.

The Secret Service is also part of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force which is supposed to combat terrorism on both international and national levels. And there, my friends, is the rub, because both the FBI and the Secret Service came under fire at yesterday’s hearing of the House Select Committee that is looking into what happened before, during, and after the assault on the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. It has been a mystery since that day why the FBI did not have intelligence before the attack that it was going to happen and that the assault would be violent.

The mystery surrounding the Secret Service includes its behavior while protecting Vice President Mike Pence from the mob and the steps it took both before the insurrection while Trump was preparing to speak on the Ellipse, and afterward, when the agents had made plans to bring Trump to the Capitol that were canceled only after it became clear that the attack was violent and the Metropolitan Police refused to cooperate in clearing the way for the presidential motorcade.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Secret Service revealed by the House Select Committee hearing was during the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who was present backstage before Trump’s speech on the Ellipse. She heard Trump’s deputy chief of staff, a former Secret Service agent who had been on Trump’s personal protection detail, talking about how Secret Service agents policing the Ellipse had seen Trump supporters armed with handguns and rifles in the crowd outside the fenced-in area where they observed the speech.

She also told the committee that she had heard Trump tell the Secret Service to turn off the magnetometers which had been set up on the Ellipse to prevent people carrying weapons to enter. “Let my people in,” Trump commanded the Secret Service. “I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking mags (metal detectors) away.”

The Secret Service and Trump aides pushed back against Hutchinson’s testimony, trying to discount it as coming from a disgruntled former employee no longer loyal to the former president. But the texts of communications between Secret Service agents on January 6 before Trump’s speech proved that they knew that at least some in the crowd of Trump supporters at the Ellipse rally were armed. It turned out that the Park Service even arrested one man near the Washington Monument who had a sniper rifle, and the Secret Service was aware of that arrest, too. Other texts and emails from the Secret Service showed that agents were aware that threats had been made against members of Congress and the Vice President by groups planning to assault the Capitol.

The texts came to light in a million-page “document dump” by the Department of Homeland Security received by the select committee in August, after they had sought Secret Service text messages that the agency had deleted soon after the January 6 assault on the Capitol -- despite the fact that the DOJ and the House of Representatives had sent letters to the agency demanding that they maintain security over all messages sent by Secret Service agents both before and during the assault. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the “Secret Service had warnings earlier than previously known that supporters of President Donald Trump were plotting an armed attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to records revealed in a congressional hearing Thursday.”

Pence famously refused to get into an armored Secret Service SUV after he had been removed from his position overseeing the certification of electoral ballots. He was afraid they would spirit him away to a so-called secure location that might have turned out to be the blast-proof tunnels near Camp David where Vice President Cheney was taken on September 11, 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Pence knew that if he was taken to such a place, he would be unable to preside over the Senate and the House as they went about the business of certifying the electoral ballots and officially declaring Joe Biden the president-elect.

Most of the controversy revealed about the FBI by the select committee had to do with reports that there had been an intelligence failure in the FBI prior to January 6. Testimony and documents gathered by the committee revealed that the FBI, the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security had received warnings that there would be an attack on the Capitol on January 6, that it would be violent, and that some groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys had armed themselves and were prepared with so-called quick reaction forces with weapons and body armor that could be called on if the police used firearms in protecting the Capitol from the mob.

CNBC reported yesterday that after the events of January 6, a senior official in the FBI was warned that a “sizable percentage of the employee population” of the agency “felt sympathetic to the group that stormed the Capitol,” according to an email shown at the select xommittee hearing on Friday. CNBC added that the writer of the email listed multiple examples of FBI agents’ sympathies with the rioters, including “a Facebook page full of #StoptheSteal content from a senior analyst who had recently retired.”

So what’s going on here appears to be the same thing that recent polling has revealed: that a large percentage of the American public and an even larger percentage of the Republican Party are not bothered in the least by what happened on January 6. Something like 61 percent of Republicans believe that Joe Biden became president only because of election fraud, and Trump’s average approval rating of about 40 percent among Americans in general has remained the same throughout the committee hearings.

The FBI and the Secret Service are filled with conservatives who self-select as volunteers to serve in both agencies, and many of the agents in both organizations doubtlessly voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, still support him, and subscribe to his “stop the steal” lies about the election. There isn’t anything that can be done about that. People cannot be fired from civil service jobs in the government because of their political beliefs.

And the beat goes on with Trump and his own personal assault on our government, which appears to have hollowed out institutions like the FBI and the Secret Service and is probably having a corrosive effect on the military services as well. Beating Trump at the ballot box in 2020 didn’t stop the erosion of integrity in these organizations. Everything that happened surrounding January 6, for example, happened after Joe Biden had been elected, and revelations about rot within these agencies just keeps on coming.

Beating Trump in 2024 if he decides to run probably won’t stop the erosion of integrity in the government either, because Trumpism is now bigger than the man himself. He will be with us, it seems, for much, much longer, in spirit if not in body. So buckle up. We’re in for a rough ride.

Heritage Foundation Chief Hails Neo-Fascist Victory In Italian Election

The Heritage Foundation is ranked as the third most influential think tank – left or right – in the U.S. A right-wing Washington, D.C. organization, it’s where Donald Trump went to deliver a speech in April when he was trying to reposition himself as someone who was getting ready to run for president again, this time with “policies.”

Policies are what once made the Heritage Foundation the jewel of the conservative movement. It provided Ronald Reagan with the backbone of his body of work that transformed the American right into what it was until Trump took it over. It’s now home to at least four former top Trump administration officials, including former Vice President Mike Pence.

Critics on both sides of the aisle overnight were stunned and outraged when the new head of the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Kevin Roberts, applauded Italy’s election this weekend of a fascist, Giorgia Meloni, to be its new prime minister.

“Italy’s far-right coalition led by Meloni wins election, exit polls say,” is the headline at European news agency France 24, calling her a “neo-fascist.


Here in the U.S., ABC News’ headline reads: “How a party of neo-fascist roots won big in Italy.”

“A century after Benito Mussolini’s 1922 March on Rome, which brought the fascist dictator to power, Meloni is poised to lead Italy’s first far-right-led government since World War II and Italy’s first woman premier,” an article from the Associated Press makes clear.

It also makes clear Meloni’s fascist focus: “Yes to the natural family. No to the LGBT lobby. Yes to sexual identity. No to gender ideology,” the AP says she “thundered” at a rally.

The Heritage Foundation has assets of around $400 million. Its latest annual report, 2021, is titled, Always on Offense. The cover boasts a flattering quote praising the organization from former Trump secretary of state and possible 2024 presidential hopeful Mike Pompeo.

Dr. Kevin Roberts leads Heritage. He’s the former CEO of the far-right wing Texas Public Policy Foundation, based in Austin, Texas.

TPPF has received funding from Koch Industries, is a big supporter of school vouchers, and an even bigger supporter of climate change denialism.

Its Fueling Freedom Project, it says, is working to “Explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels.”

Back in 2016 Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott proposed nine major changes to the U.S. Constitution. He chose to make his announcement at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Those proposals could have led to the elimination of many federal LGBTQ protections, including same-sex marriage.

Dr. Roberts is a former president of Wyoming Catholic College. In 2015 he decided to opt out of accepting federal financial aid, citing the school’s religious beliefs against LGBTQ people as part of the reason.

“Roberts said that his university loves all people and has charity towards all, but they would have problems with the admissions and employment of transgender individuals or people with a same-sex sexual orientation,” Fox News reported at the time.

So perhaps it’s unsurprising that Roberts celebrated Italy’s election of a fascist leader with a strong anti-LGBTQ agenda Sunday evening – urging conservatives to fuel more elections of people like Meloni.

“If exit polls are right, then conservatives will come to power in Italy, just weeks after conservatives in Sweden won,” he tweeted, glossing over the fascistic aspects of their "conservatism."

“This can be a trend,” he urged, “conservatives everywhere need to define the choice as what it is—US vs THEM, everyday people vs globalist elites, who’ve shown they hate us.”

Roberts was highly criticized, even by fellow conservatives.

Tom Nichols, a staff writer at The Atlantic who is the popular and now retired U.S. Naval War College professor and an expert on Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security, blasted Roberts.

“The president of a DC think tank explains how he’s just a regular guy helping the little people against the globalists, and not all aligned with a political movement that trades in hateful rhetoric,” tweeted Nichols, a Never Trump conservative.

Former Bloomberg Opinion columnist Noah Smith who writes about economics at Substack, mocked Roberts.

“‘Globalist elites’? Man, you have a PhD and you’re the president of a think tank that fights for free trade. Who do you think you’re kidding??” he tweeted.

Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the right wing Manhattan Institute, slammed Roberts’ remarks.

“I’d just like a party that stands for free markets, less government, originalist judges, strong defense, and against woke excess. Count me out with this Pat Buchanan-style tinfoil hat populism,” he tweeted, referring to the far-right anti-immigration former Nixon-Ford-Reagan advisor.

A former editor for the right wing Cato Institute also criticized Roberts.

“When the president of your think tank is cheering on the electoral victories of actual fascism, that’s probably a sign it’s time to resign from the organization if you’re an employee, or pull your dollars if you’re a donor. American conservatism mustn’t continue down this path,” warned Aaron Ross Powell.

“Recovering libertarian” writer and editor Jay Stooksberry also mocked Roberts.

“Careful, Kev. If I saw somebody with the title ‘Ph.D. and CEO of one of the largest, most influential think tanks in D.C.’, I’d assume they were one of the ‘global elite’. Us-versus-them populism is some raunchy, anti-intellectual, and dangerous thinking, my dude.”

Conservatives weren’t the only ones criticizing the Heritage Foundation head, with some seeing his “globalist elites” remarks as anti-Semitic.

“American fascists, crawling out of their holes,” wrote Jay Bookman, author and award-winning journalist.

“We see you and your cutesy code words. You want to embrace fascism? We will stop you and your ilk. Our democracy will destroy your fascism,” David Sugarman, an Oregon attorney, wrote.

Writer and director David Avallone did not mince words in response to Roberts’ remarks.

“L’Shanah Tovah, you absolute fucking Nazi scumbag,” he tweeted. “Stop being a pants shitting coward. Just say ‘Jews’ when you mean Jews.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Raskin: Mike Pence And Ginni Thomas Should Talk To Select Committee

Rep.Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday that he wants "anyone who has relevant evidence" to testify voluntarily before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Among the individuals whom Raskin hopes to interview are Ginni Thomas, Newt Gingrich, and ex-Vice President Mike Pence.

"I don't want to overstate her role," Raskin said of Thomas, the right-wing activist spouse of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

"We've talked to more than 1,000 people. But we'd like to hear from Gingrich and we'd like to hear from her too," Raskin continued, adding that Thomas should "come forward" to reveal what she knows about former President Donald Trump's coup.

Raskin shared similar remarks about Pence.

"Vice President Pence was the target of Donald Trump's wrath and fury and effort to overthrow the election on Jan. 6. The whole idea was to get Pence to step outside his constitutional role, and then to declare unilateral lawless powers to reject Electoral College votes from the states," he said.

Raskin also stressed that while "in no one's case is a subpoena out of the question," he expects that Pence would agree to cooperate in "the way the vast majority of people have."

Watch below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Pious Mike Pence Sold His Soul -- For Nothing

Mike Pence thinks he has a shot at the presidency.

You can imagine how the conversation went with his political advisors: People are tired of Trump. They want to move on. And you're the perfect person to fill the void. You served him faithfully, but when it came to violating the Constitution, you stood your ground. And you are the true conservative!

Marc Short, Pence's vice-presidential chief of staff, offered that, "If he were to run, he may not be the biggest celebrity. But if we're going to go back to a principled conservative who represents the things we stand for, then there's no one better than Mike."

"If we're going to go back." Not likely. But Pence seems to think there's a yearning for that. He's blown the dust off yellowing copies of his Before Time speeches and sprinkled his text with the sort of Christian-y talk that got him a House seat and the Indiana governor's chair: "Pray for our opponents," he told a (small) audience at a South Carolina church.

Isn't that nice? But there are a few flies in the ointment.


First problem. Now? Now is the moment that Pence rolls out the prayer? As Pence is well-situated to know, big chunks of the GOP base have become hungry for a very different tone. Christian charity is out. Vulgar insults, shameless lies and secessionist hatred are in. It sure is ugly, but Pence is in no position to complain. It's a revolution that Pence did so much to encourage, and it's bizarre that he seems to think he can carry on as if nothing has changed.

Pence prostituted his reputation for Christian piety to the most vile figure in the history of American presidential politics, a man who modeled the opposite of every virtue taught in Sunday school. Pence's pious conscience was remarkably quiescent when Trump encouraged his followers to rough up hecklers; when he bore false witness against Muslim Americans (falsely claiming that he saw them celebrating after 9/11); when he attempted to extort the president of Ukraine to lie about Joe Biden; when he separated asylum-seeking parents from their children; when he refused to condemn the tiki-torch Nazi wannabees in Charlottesville; when he elevated a series of kooks and conspiracists to high office; and when he insisted that the election had been stolen.

Pence was fine with all of it.

Second problem: Worse than simply remaining silent, he played the toady with seemingly endless reserves of self-mortification, uttering cringeworthy encomia to Trump's "broad-shouldered leadership" (a phrase he repeated at least 17 times) and audacious lies about matters big and small.

Pence helped transform the GOP from a conservative party into a cult, and as he is discovering to his sorrow, cults don't behave the way normal political parties do. That's why Pence's gamble that he will get credit from the base for his loyal service to the leader is foolhardy. He is at the mercy of the leader. If the leader disowns him, no history of loyalty to Trump himself, far less service to conservative goals, will save him. Ask Jeff Sessions. Ask Mo Brooks.

Third problem: It's impossible to say how large a contingent of Republican primary voters are in the "Pence is a Traitor" camp, but consider that a recent New York Times/Siena poll found that only six percent of Republicans would vote for Pence in a 2024 primary. At their dueling campaign appearances in Arizona, Trump assembled a rally attended by thousands while Pence spoke to a crowd estimated at 300.

There may indeed be an audience in the GOP for someone other than Trump. A softening in his support is now just barely discernible in polling and lack of donor enthusiasm. But the Trump base will not forgive Pence. Better to turn to someone like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who hasn't been guilty of abiding by the Constitution.

And if the GOP were, by some miracle, to seek an honest, non-authoritarian, traditionally conservative candidate, there are other choices including Rep. Liz Cheney, Gov. Larry Hogan and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who have reminded Republicans of what conservatism can look like.

Pence's tragedy is that he has managed to earn the contempt of the MAGA world and the anti-MAGA world. He deserves full credit for not obeying Trump's command to refuse to count the Electoral College votes on January 6, 2021. But considering the stakes, he should have followed it up with total honesty about how we reached that frightening moment in American democracy. If he had attempted to invoke the 25th Amendment, or encouraged senators to convict Trump at the second impeachment, or testified in public to the House Select Committee, it might have gone some way to compensate for the infamy of the past several years.

Pence chose another path — trying to have it both ways. It will end, perhaps appropriately, with a whimper.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the Beg to Differ podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.