Phony Patriotism and Real Setbacks: PENCEmortem, 10/9 to 10/13

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Finally! Written confirmation of what we’ve long known: Steve Bannon doesn’t think highly of Mike Pence, or “Wobbly Pence,” as incorrigible provocateur Milo (with Bannon’s approval) referred to the former Indiana governor. So much was revealed in emails released to Buzzfeed earlier this week:

“An unfortunate necessity.” “A deal with the devil.” “The price we pay for cruzbots and a #nevertrump movement.”

After being ousted by John Kelly’s West Wing purge, Bannon is setting his sights (and siccing his disciples) on the GOP establishment. Despite his proximity to the President, Pence is a top mark.

If the first salvo is a sign of what’s to come, then it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Vice President. The VP’s support for establishment favorite Luther Strange in the Alabama GOP primary couldn’t stave off the junior Senator’s loss to maniacal Christian nationalist Roy Moore, the Bannon-backed disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice.

With that hefty win under his belt, Bannon looks to continue trolling Pence and the GOP establishment, replicating his success in other races around the country, targeting the likes of incumbents Senators John Barrasso (WY) and Roger Wicker (MI), and setting the stage for an no-holds-barred war to control the conservative narrative which will no doubt see Pence in action in the trenches.

What a week it has been! And where better to begin than last week.

The release of emails revealing the alt-right’s condemnation of Pence comes at an opportune time, really, at least for those fighting on the fringe front.

Last week, Mike Pence experienced a rather unfamiliar feeling for residents of the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue adult day care center: a surge in popularity. This bump in favorability seemingly irked his boss, already reeling from reports that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had called a “fucking moron.”

The following week—directed by a Commander in Chief apparently unburdened by the need to handle several historically devastating natural disasters and the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history—Pence ran up several hundred thousand dollars in travel costs to condemn protests by San Francisco players against racial injustice, walking out of the stadium after several 49ers kneel during the national anthem.

This primetime “statement” on NFL Sunday cost $242,000. Had he skipped the political stunt, his travel to Las Vegas for a scheduled appearance at the memorial prayer walk would have cost $45,000. That leaves taxpayers footing $200,000.

When he finally did arrive in Las Vegas, he refused to address gun control, instead continuing to offer thoughts and prayers to all those affected.

And all that was before the workweek started.

  • Following the memorial prayer walk on Sunday, Pence flew to California for three days of fundraising for GOP congressional candidates (including Russia’s fave House member, Dana Rohrabacher) and speeches about the administration's recent tax proposal. On Monday, he found himself in Sacramento, pledging federal assistance to fire-swept Northern California just days before the President threatened to abandon Puerto Rico recovery efforts. On Tuesday, he was in Bakersfield visiting The Spaceship Company, where he received a tour of businesses developing commercial space flight capabilities. This comes a week after he introduced a reconstituted National Space Council and promised to put humans on the moon again.

  • Never one to pass up a PR scam, the President and his team sent out a fundraising email Monday—subject line “VP under fire for standing for”—seeking donations to the GOP in the wake of the taxpayer-funded NFL stunt. But by Wednesday, Trump had apparently forgotten his reverence for the military and the troops, remaining seated during an interview with Sean Hannity (where the topic was… respect for the flag and troops) while “Retreat,” the traditional signal of end of the official duty day on military installations, played in the distance. The President jested that the song was being played in celebration of the Fox News host’s ratings.

  • Pence waded into the feud between Trump and retiring Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, sparked by Corker’s comments that the President’s threats could lead the US “on the path to World War III.” Pence denounced the remarks as “empty rhetoric,” claiming instead that his boss had “restored the credibility of American power,” and that “no amount of criticism at home can diminish those results.”

  • Remember the email scandal? No, not the one involving Hillary Clinton—the one involving the AOL.com accounts Mike Pence kept as governor. Yep. That’s still a thing.  This week it was reported that “Indiana officials are refusing to release an indeterminate number of emails...and they're not saying whether the vice president's lawyers influenced which messages should be withheld.”

  • The creepy veep, a noted climate change denier, has long been an ardent supporter of the destruction that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is wreaking on the natural world. So we’re sure he was all smiles when Pruitt declared “the war on coal is over” on Tuesday as he signed a rule to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Pruitt wants to eliminate federal tax credits to wind and solar power industries, preferring to trust utility companies to make the best decisions for the common good. And in what might very well be the most frightening signal of all, the phrase “climate change” does not appear in the EPA’s draft four-year strategic plan, nor any mention of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas.

  • On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that ended Affordable Care Act subsidies for the poor, eliminating regulations governing small businesses that join together to buy health insurance. The order will also lift limits on short-term insurance coverage and expand ways workers could use employer-funded accounts to buy their own insurance policies. In practice, this means cheap, junk coverage for healthier, younger consumers and higher costs for the sick. This policy is likely to cause chaos among health insurance exchanges and further undermine the ACA marketplace. After proudly announcing his destructive plan, Trump walked off, and Pence had to remind him to actually sign the EO.

What else is happening?

Pence’s former chief of staff and longtime aide of 12 years Josh Pitcock landed a new job at the tech company Oracle, having left the White House in August during the high-profile exodus including that included Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer. He will assume the role of vice president of government affairs.

What does Pence have planned for the weekend?

Despite a poor showing in the Alabama primary, Pence plans on making an appearance in Virginia to stump for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie at a campaign stop in Abingdon. The former lobbyist and ex-RNC chair stands for tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the working class, wants to lessen investment in infrastructure such as transportation and high-speed internet, and as chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee helped engineer redistricting that resulted in Republican takeovers of statehouses around the country. Shouldn’t come as any surprise that Mike is a BIG fan.

Don't Trust Pence's "Big Heart": DACA Deadline Is Thursday, October 5

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If you have DACA status that expires before March 5, 2018, don’t be fooled by reassuring words from Mike Pence (or Donald Trump). Your application must be received (not postmarked) by October 5.

Although Pence promised that Donald Trump would make his decision on President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) with a “big heart,” Trump claimed he will revisit the issue before the program fully expires in March, his own Department of Homeland Security has a different policy. According to Vox:

Immigrants whose DACA protections and work permits (which must be renewed every two years) are set to expire before March 5, 2018, are required to apply for their renewals by October 5, 2017—or else their DACA protections simply won’t be renewed.

That deadline was set by a memo from Trump’s Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday—part of the administration’s efforts, formally announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to wind down DACA over the next six months.

For resources and information about the October 5 DACA deadline, visit Here To Stay online or call the Own The DREAM toll-free hotline 1-855-DREAM-D-1 (1-855-373-2631).

Anyone aware of the Trump Administration’s heartless agenda of attacks on society’s weakest members—or Pence’s long record of inhumane anti-immigrant policies, in Congress and as Indiana governor—couldn’t have been surprised when Sessions was sent in front of cameras on September 5 to announce the six-month phase-out of the DACA program.

Pence has never showed much “big heart” toward American-raised immigrants. In Congress, he helped block the DREAM Act, intended to legalize the status of immigrants who were brought to the country as children and raised here.

Even before joining Trump’s ticket, Pence helped create the current DACA crisis, joining the Texas lawsuit against Obama’s executive order as Indiana governor, over objections by his attorney general, who refused the case, requiring Pence to hire private lawyers. Pence then praised the Supreme Court’s muddled June 2016 decision that plunged DREAMers and millions of other immigrants into limbo and fear.

Texas, along with Indiana and other red states who had joined it, dropped their lawsuit after Trump’s pledge to end DACA. And while Trump may or may not have meant to dilute the impact of the DACA suspension with a Tuesday night tweet implying he may walk it back, National Review editor Rich Lowry observed, “It'd be hard for him really to revisit DACA after his AG made the case it's illegal.”

(Trump may have planned to use DACA as a threat to force Democrats to fund his border wall. But he undermined his bargaining strategy with the public suggestion he could be bluffing.)

For his part, Pence praised Trump’s order:

From @POTUS: In best interests of country & keeping w/ office of POTUS obligations @DHSgov will begin orderly transition & wind-down of DACA

Of course, this “orderly transition & wind-down” is intended to please the Trump-Pence base of casual haters, many of whom have only ever seen immigrants on television, while sowing fear among the nearly 800,000 immigrants protected by DACA and causing major economic disruption. Dozens of business leaders had begged Trump to maintain the program—advice the White House cheerfully ignored.

“The cruelest thing about DACA repeal is that it's mass entrapment,” said one writer. “They came forward! They trusted the government. Now it's betraying them. Even if it's mitigated, and even if we have a better president after 2020, there's no fixing that broken trust. Which is the point, I'm sure.”

If only Mike Pence had a heart. In Congress, he voted for a 2004 proposed crackdown on immigrants with provisions allowing hospitals to deny emergency treatment to immigrants—recipe for a public health disaster—and blocking federal reimbursement for immigrants’ health costs.

The bill Pence supported “would have required hospitals to gather and report information on possible undocumented patients before hospitals could be reimbursed for treating them,” according to Bustle.

Pence’s heartless war on immigrants extends as far as ending citizenship rights for children born in the US, enshrined in the Constitution since 1787. His “Birthright Citizenship” law would have denied citizenship to children unless at least one parent is a US citizen.

Though this bill failed—like all of Pence’s legislative efforts over 12 years in Congress—during the 2016 campaign he promised that the Trump Administration would “review” the status of so-called “anchor babies” born to undocumented immigrants, despite that constitutional guarantee of citizenship.

Pence also introduced a “forced deportation” bill that was slammed by both parties, which he called a “no-amnesty immigration reform proposal.” He boasted that the law “puts border security first for two years, at the end of which the Secretary of Homeland Security must certify to the Congress and the White House that the border security measures have been substantially completed.” Then, “we would initiate a new series of what I call Ellis Island centers outside the United States of America that could process the 10-12 million illegal immigrants in this country by asking them to leave the country and apply for the legal right to be here under a two-year work visa.”

Pence expressed complete confidence that his measure’s “tough fines” would have led rapidly to the self-deportation of all 12 million undocumented immigrants now in the US. But that bill failed in Congress, as did Pence’s nativist English-only law supported by anti-immigration lobby.

As governor, Pence used the November 2015 mass terror attack in Paris as a pretext to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. (“During these uncertain times, we must always err on the side of caution.”) He was sued in federal court, where a judge blocked his order. Naturally, Pence has been a major supporter of US policies in the Middle East which created the refugee crisis in the first place.

Like President Trump, Pence is unconcerned about the economic impact of suspending DACA, which CNBC reports will cost the US economy $400 billion in GDP and an estimated 30,000 jobs per month. This kind of economic damage is consistent with Pence’s Indiana record: he didn’t mind costing Indiana $60 million in lost convention business resulting from his law allowing anti-LGBT discrimination.

If, as The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb argues, the real purpose of Trump and Pence’s DACA suspension is to reinstate the racist immigration policies of the 1924 Immigration Act, damaging the economy is not really their concern.

For Mike Pence, heartlessness is its own reward—and is always worth the cost.

Pence Offers Love, But No Help, In Face Of Mass Shooting

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Over 50 people killed in Las Vegas. At least 200 injured. And now the distinction of the worst mass shooting in modern American history. And from Vice President Pence: “Karen & I are praying for you & offering our love.”

“You have our condolences and sympathies,” posted the Vice President to Twitter.

But as helpful as Pence would like to think his love and condolences are, it would be hard to find a politician who has done more to block action to end the epidemic of U.S. gun violence that has intensified under Donald Trump.

If The Outline’s Emmett Rensin is right in saying, “We have reached a density of mass shootings where even pointing out that we aren't going to do anything feels tired and oversaid,” Mike Pence is a big reason why.

As we told the VP on Twitter: “You have an NRA A rating, blocked background checks and required IN schools to allow guns in their parking lots.”

Mike Pence earned his NRA A rating while serving in Congress. There, he co-sponsored a national standards bill to require states to honor concealed carry permits from other states, and proposed a law loosening restrictions on interstate gun sales.

But Pence really earned his gun lobby stripes with his repeated votes to prevent Americans from suing gun manufacturers whose weapons are used in massacres like the Sandy Hook school shooting, shielding them from any liability.

Pence also voted for the ATF Modernization Act of 2006, which would have undermined law enforcement authority to prevent gun trafficking and hold gun dealers accountable for irresponsible, dangerous behavior.

When Pence was governor of Indiana, school officials begged him to veto a law requiring every Indiana school to allow guns in their parking lots. But Pence signed the law, telling journalist Chris Wallace “I truly believe that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens makes our families and our communities more safe, not less safe.”

Pence’s support for Indiana’s pro-gun laws and lack of background checks is blamed for a spike in Chicago’s gun violence. From 2011 to 2015, 10,000 guns sold in Indiana were recovered at crime scenes outside the state and successfully traced by the ATF. (Indiana is Chicago’s largest out-of-state source for crime guns.)

In Nevada, open carry, concealed weapons and machine guns are all legal. The gun rights lobby which Pence so strongly supports is entirely responsible for our inability to do something about this senseless, unstoppable loss of life. This very week, Congress is set to vote on a law to remove silencers from the list of regulated items under the National Firearms Act of 1934, making it harder to detect source of gunfire in mass shootings. Will Mike Pence oppose this law?

It is not enough to grieve for victims and thank first responders. If Mike Pence really cares about the “victims, families & loved ones affected by this senseless violence in Las Vegas,” he has the power to do more.

I’m A Black, Female Entrepreneur. We Need to Talk About Mike Pence.

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As a black female founder of a startup, I’d love to share my grave concerns about Vice President Mike Pence with him in person over dinner.

But since that would upset Karen Pence, a.k.a. Mother, this will have to suffice.

Pence’s true bête noire is, as is widely known, the throngs of women out to lure him away from Mother. Pence himself is presumably not able to grab pussy, as he has a strict rule forbidding any one-on-one contact with women. He is also presumably not able to cultivate strong working relationships with women, as he only interacts with them over the roar of a crowd.

While there are surely yet-to-be-excavated skeletons in the 1 Naval Observatory closets, the irony of Pence’s discriminatory rule is that unlike Trump, he does not seem to have a sexual harassment allegation rap sheet that goes back decades.

His aversion, then, is not based on a personal failing that he takes out on women, but rather an almost darker insistence on treating us like an airborne illness to be carefully avoided lest he fall ill.

As a woman who has worked in many male-dominated industries, men like Pence slamming the door on career advancement in the name of their wedding vows is particularly hard to tolerate. I fully support men like Pence staying home with their wives where they can’t be tempted by women who have zero interest in them romantically, but the VP seems determined to work outside the home to the detriment of the women who want a career anywhere in his general vicinity.

Perhaps a bundling board could be brought into Eisenhower Executive Office Building so that Pence can enjoy the same freedom with women granted the Amish?

Personally, I would politely decline all offers to work for the VP on efforts to dismantle my human rights, so his EEOC-violating views don’t impact me mano e womano. But all women are affected if the man in the second-highest office in the land considers their gender to be a threat prima facie. The dangerous precedent it sets for industries like mine — that already struggle and fail to be inclusive — is that there is little legal or moral downside to systemic exclusion of the majority of the population.

Pence isn’t merely contemptuous of us, he is scared contactless. German president Angela Merkel, known for her subtly brilliant diplomatic disses, would have a field day insisting on private meet-and-greets to discuss policy. But the rest of us would be left with yet another example of why Leaning In doesn’t work if no one wants us at the table.

The VP’s out-of-context Bible reading has led him to attack funding for women’s health care provider Planned Parenthood and work to ban abortion from every angle, including one particularly illogical and coldhearted parry that demanded rape be “forcible.”

While there would be a certain amount of relief if Trump were to leave office, Pence is not a Republican in the mold of George “Rubbers” Bush or even George “WMD” Bush. Our pussies and nuclear arsenals might be safe, but what of our human rights, health care, ability to start businesses, get educations and not die of AIDS?

Minorities

Sometimes we look for outside indicators of racist behaviors. White hoods, tiki torches or the adjective “dapper” in major newspaper profiles of certain domestic terrorists have all come to symbolize a particular type of “this ain’t gonna end well” for minorities in America.

We are woke to our history, and pretty sure that even without a 23andMe kit we know exactly how our ancestors arrived to America. (Hint: not the Mayflower. Unless the Mayflower also had slaves quarters.) When Donald Trump showed up, the collective amygdala of Black people in America breathed “aw hell naw” in unison. Why? Because Trump has a long history of racism, from housing discrimination to calling for the murder of five innocent black men.

Pence, in contrast, has taken a cue from his dog Harley, and keeps his bigotry at whistle pitch. As Governor of Indiana, he enthusiastically upheld the death penalty in spite of its disproportionate use on minorities and Indiana’s terrible record of wrongful convictions. Intent on keeping the preschool-to-prison pipeline full, Pence’s Indiana was a frontrunner in defunding public education in favor of failed charter schools and segregation.

To ensure these atrocities went unchecked, he also restricted voting, closing polls hours before most states and not requiring that employers allow time off for voting. The minorities who made up large swathes of hourly wage earners were less able to vote.

Pence doesn’t wear a hood, but he’s not helping anyone from the hood and he’s pretty sure we shouldn’t vote either.

Immigrants

As governor, Pence focused on growing Indiana’s tech sector. But as part of Trump’s administration, he has supported the elimination of the Obama administration’s “startup visa” program that allowed talented foreign entrepreneurs to come to the US to start companies.

Pence — himself a grandchild of Irish Catholic immigrants — was so intent on denying Syrian refugees, even infants, the opportunities he has been afforded that he sought to ban all of them from entering Indiana. His attempts to close the borders to others like him were shot down by the US Appeals Court.

Pence has also shifted his position on the various iterations of Trump’s Muslim ban. Gone are the heady GOP primary days of Pence calling the ban illegal and unconstitutional. Now, this child of second-generation immigrants has affirmed Trump’s desire to bar refugees and immigrants based on their religion and country of origin. You know who hasn’t? (Besides hundreds of thousands of protesters NOT paid by Soros.) A lot of judges, from both sides of the aisle, who know illegal racial and religious profiling when they see it.

If I’m agreeing with a George W. Bush appointee about the fate of brown people, it’s safe to say that Pence is not the going to be Mr. Teeming-masses-yearning-to-breathe-free if he takes up the mantle.

Not-Rich

Despite a rise in hate crimes, Russia pwning Facebook and a decades-low number of women in a presidential administration, the 2016 election is chiefly seen through one lens: as a fight for the soul of the White Working Class. This group, though less Trump-voting than higher-earning whites, was the ballyhooed battleground Hillary supposedly lost by acknowledging people of color. Without this sacred base and their thousands of coal mining jobs, Trump wouldn’t be in office today — goes the lore.

Notwithstanding his working-class family roots, Pence believes in directing public education funds to for-profit charter schools. He believes higher-education loans are best serviced by private banks who lean on low-income students for additional interest.

Pence has transitioned from a Democrat who idolized JFK and MLK to someone who believes that illness is caused by a lack of “personal responsibility.” Inability to pay for the skyrocketing cost of college or exorbitant medical bills is a moral failing to our VP, while being a billionaire who wants tax cuts is understood and respected.

Pence once proposed the largest tax cut in Indiana history. He has been a vocal proponent of the succession of schemes to cut basic health care to fund tax savings for the 1% that Congress has floated and failed to pass in 2017. The White Working Class is on track to see a tax cut of almost $6 in the most recent plan. Both they and the people of color who share their tax bracket can breathe easier knowing that most of a Happy Meal is theirs for the taking.

Pence is the grandchild of a bus-driving immigrant who’d likely snatch him baldheaded if he could see the pain his progeny has in store for those foolish enough to not be born rich.

LGBTQ

Pence’s efforts to turn Indiana into a tech hotbed were no match for his desire to ensure no same-sex wedding had cake, when he supported Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, ensuring the legal right to discriminate according to religious beliefs best summarized as “Gay sex freaks me out.”

Tech leaders, from inside the state and out, were up in arms, and many in the Indiana GOP party protested. But nevertheless Mother’s main man persisted. Not content to just enshrine discrimination into law, Pence directly contributed to an AIDS resurgence when he diverted HIV treatment dollars for the LGBTQ community into thoroughly debunked programs to “pray away the Gay.”

Lesser of Two Evils?

It’s only natural to imagine that the lesser of two evils might actually be not so bad. We watch TV and fantasize about the secret good side of a kidnapper who allows an extra 30 seconds in the bathroom.

But as any acolyte of “Law and Order: SVU” knows, the partners in crime of bad people are also, it turns out, bad people. And should Mike Pence ever assume the presidency, this truism may be a cold dose of reality for any who see the close-cropped Midwesterner as Trump’s saner foil.

So while Pence’s fingers, both Twitter and nuclear, are less itchy than his angry orange boss, the 48th Vice President has proven in both word and deed that he is no friend to minorities, immigrants, the not-rich, LGBT and women.

And so as a not-rich woman of color, balancing student loans and a startup, my Stockholm Syndrome hopes were dashed after taking a closer look at the man who dubbed himself “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.”

Mike Pence will not save us.

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Sarah Kunst is Founder and CEO of sports media platform Proday.co and a contributing editor at Marie Claire Magazine. She has been named a Forbes Magazine 30 under 30.

Worst-ever Health Care Repeal Bill Is A Mike Pence Special

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To Mike Pence, “freedom” means freedom from health coverage. It means the freedom to die from a preexisting condition. This is why he’s taking the lead in pushing through the highly unpopular Graham-Cassidy bill, the latest Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

When the Vice President was asked by Tucker Carlson of Fox News about millions of Americans losing health coverage if the ACA is repealed, the Vice President callously lectured, “The very essence of living in a free society is people get to make their own decisions.”

And when Pence was asked last week about the Graham-Cassidy bill’s failure to protect Americans with preexisting conditions, he replied, “Thomas Jefferson said, ‘Government that governs least governs best.’” (One problem: Jefferson never said that.)

On Sunday night, Republicans struggling to pass Graham-Cassidy issued a new revision of the bill, making it worse than ever. According to Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, “The revised Graham-Cassidy bill is in effect federal deregulation of the insurance market.”

Pence called the Graham-Cassidy bill “a fresh start for America on health care.”

The real “fresh start” that Pence is hoping for is with Republican donors. According to reports, the party’s wealthiest contributors are threatening to cut off funding for GOP candidates unless Graham-Cassidy goes through. Why? The bill’s drastic reductions in health spending are needed to fund the GOP’s proposed $1.5 trillion in corporate tax cuts.

After a trip home to Indiana to pressure Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly to support those tax cuts, Pence—recently described by Stephen Colbert as a “man/mayonnaise hybrid”—was off on a GOP fundraising tour.

If ACA repeal manages to pass the Senate, it will require Pence’s tie-breaking vote. It’s a vote he’d love to cast, having devoted his career to destroying health care in Indiana and for Americans nationwide. Some highlights (or lowlights):

Mike Pence has proven he won’t let health care for all Americans get in the way of his top priority: massive giveaways to the wealthiest Americans. As long as he holds office, no Americans can feel safe about their ability to afford a serious illness in their family.

The Case For Keeping a Watchful Eye on Mike Pence

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America has had a long week. Between the aftermath of two horrifying and epic natural disasters and the never-ending dystopian reality show that is the Trump presidency, it’s hard to focus on anything besides making it to the end of the month in one piece. But we’d like to draw your attention to someone we should all be keeping an eye on, even if he isn’t gleefully manufacturing camera-ready dumpster fires in between Arby’s runs and Fox & Friends like his publicity-addicted boss.

We’re talking about Mike Pence (the awfulness of whom we have chronicled for you here).

Relative to Donald Trump, Pence seems low key, quiet, calm. So quiet, he sometimes seems harmless. But you know what they say about the quiet ones; they sit around waiting for their bosses to self-immolate so they can finally achieve a level of power that they’d have never in a million years been anywhere near if they hadn’t failed upward into a senior level position solely because no serious Republican was willing to hold his or her nose and get behind Donald Trump.

(Okay, that’s not exactly what they say about the quiet ones, but you get the picture.)

So we’re here to make a case for not letting the beady-eyed Vice Weasel off the hook just because he’s made to look like a saner head in an administration peppered with white supremacists, grossly incompetent amateurs, incorrigible liars, and Donald Trump, who manages a trifecta on all three counts. If Pence seems like the reasonable person in the room, that says more about the room than it does about Pence.

Here’s a case in point. What is Michael Richard Pence doing right now? (Besides fantasizing about redecorating the Oval Office and anxiously avoiding being alone with a woman for any reason.)

We’ll tell you: he’s convening an all-white, all-male voter suppression effort disguised as a voter fraud committee. Among other things, the committee is considering background checks to determine voter eligibility, but Pence is personally no stranger to more on-the-nose efforts to prevent non-Republicans from voting, having undermined African American voter registration efforts in his home state of Indiana.

And it’s easy for this to get lost in the unending stream of chaos that is the Trump administration. There have been arguments made that if Trump leaves office, a Pence presidency would be something of a relief, if only because you wouldn’t expect him to impulsively declare war on a country he can’t spell, or accidentally tweet out the nuclear codes.

But we think that’s a failure of the imagination. What do we already know about Mike Pence? We know he is a liar. We know he may have had some involvement in Russian interference in the last election and likely knew that Trump was planning to fire James Comey to try to suppress investigation efforts into the same.

We also know what his policy stances are, and they’re far more extreme than Trump’s in most cases. So we’ve decided to provide a static reminder of what we’re in for, if Trump leaves office for any reason.

As a public service, we’ve created aPENCEcalypse Now, a site dedicated to envisioning the ramifications of a Pence presidency and tracking the damage he’s already doing as Donald Trump’s creepy teeth-achingly ambitious understudy. And if you want real time updates, you can go to @apencecalypse on Twitter, or https://www.facebook.com/ApencecalypseNow/ to monitor Pencian malfeasance as it happens. We will obsess over him for you, and as he gets inches closer to the presidency, we’ll publicly smack his hand away and say, “Nope, not for you, Pencey. Not in our lifetimes. Back to Indiana with you! And Mother, too.”

Someone has to do it.

Pence Is Corrupt

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In a normal White House, where graft, nepotism and deceit are the exception rather than the rule, Vice President Mike Pence wouldn’t be thought of as a squeaky clean choir boy. But the Trump administration, with its remarkable ability to produce a new scandal each day, is anything but normal.

Pence used private email to conduct state business despite criticizing Hillary Clinton for the same

That’s why Pence’s very own email scandal passed without notice. As governor of Indiana, Pence used an AOL email address to conduct official state business. When was asked to turn over the emails, he stonewalled. After months of fighting, he finally complied in August. The brazen behavior demonstrates both Pence’s opposition to transparency and his hypocrisy after months of hammering Hillary Clinton’s email issues. But coming out of Trump’s scandal-plagued White House, it received little attention.

Pence paid his mortgage and credit card bills with campaign donations

Pence benefitted from Trump’s ability to generate headlines during the campaign too. How else to explain the lack of coverage given to an egregious ethics violation in Pence’s past? In 1990, while running for Congress, Pence was busted paying his mortgage, credit card bills and car payments with campaign donations. Though it wasn’t illegal at the time, it was clearly unethical and it led the FEC to rewrite its rules on the personal use of campaign funds. But Pence defended his actions, which included paying for golf tournaments with donations, by telling reporters, “I’m not embarrassed that I need to make a living.”

Pence’s role in the Trump administration’s possible collusion with Russia is still murky

Pence may soon long for the days when reporters were asking about fleecing campaign donors, because his name keeps coming up in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government. And even though names like Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort get more attention, Pence’s role in this torrid scandal should not be overlooked.

It was Pence, after all, who sat in front of a national TV audience and said former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn did not discuss easing sanctions with the Russian ambassador just as President Obama was levying those sanctions. That was later determined to be a lie. But blame fell on Flynn, who was fired for misleading the Vice President. 

Pence is either incompetent, or a participant in a cover-up

Pence also says he only became aware of Flynn’s lobbying for a Turkish businessman in March of 2017. But that detail was passed to the Trump transition, which Pence ran, by multiple people well before inauguration day. So either Pence is an incompetent rube who didn’t ensure the incoming NSA wasn’t a foreign agent, or he’s covering something up.

If it’s the latter, it wouldn’t be the first time Pence appeared to take part in White House cover-up. Consider the May 9 firing of former FBI director James Comey, which Pence said had nothing to do with Russia. The next day Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt his real motivation for firing Comey was “this Russia thing.” Once again, a Pence public statement was proven false.

The evidence implicating Pence in the Russia scandal continues to mount and that’s bad news for his political ambitions. It’s widely believed that Pence has his sights set on the Oval Office. If Trump is impeached, there’s a chance Pence could land there without having to win an election. But with each new revelation in the Russia probe, it seems likely that if this scandal ends in Trump’s removal from the White House, Pence will be sent packing too.

Pence Has Worked to Destroy Health Care for Millions

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In the summer of 2012, after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and ensured coverage for millions of Americans, Mike Pence stood in front of his Republican Congressional colleagues and compared the decision to 9/11. There may be no better illustration of Pence’s twisted view of health care, a topic of increasing importance as he joins President Trump and Congressional Republicans in a relentless pursuit to destroy access to affordable care in the U.S.

It’s a mission that would already be complete if Pence had his way. Earlier this summer, as the Senate went late into the night to vote on its repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Pence travelled to the Capitol intent on casting the deciding vote to end the landmark legislation. Sen. John McCain’s surprise dissension ended those plans, but Pence has declared his intention to continue the fight to destroy the ACA and with it, the lives of many sick Americans.

Pence is willing to destroy health care options for the elderly to benefit private corporations

This is not a new obsession for Pence, whose extreme record on health care has been on display since the day he got to Congress. For years, he was one of Washington’s most vocal advocates of privatization. He supported House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, which would have jeopardized health care coverage for millions of elderly Americans, and advocated taking money from the Medicare prescription drug benefit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Pence has also been credited for turning the effort to defund Planned Parenthood from a fringe GOP issue into a primary plank of the party. From 2008 to 2011 he introduced bills to defund the reproductive health organization and though they failed every time, he remained committed to the effort.

Pence believes women are little more than walking baby incubators and has pushed anti-abortion bills that are cruel and dangerous to women

After he was elected governor of Indiana, Pence continued his assault on women. He signed at least eight abortion bills in his four years in office, including one that would have required cremation or burial for all fetal tissue, a measure that was intended to make abortions more expensive and thus, less accessible. That bill, which also banned women from having abortions because of a fetus’ disability, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.

Pence has made it harder for the poor and the sick to qualify for Medicaid

Pence also enacted policies that made life harder on those in poverty and struggling with addiction. In 2016, he surprised some by embracing Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, but ensured that families below the poverty line had to jump through endless hoops to qualify. Meanwhile, he cut public health spending in the state to remarkably low levels, despite Indiana’s high smoking, obesity and infant mortality rates.

Pence objected to needle exchanges, preferring that people with addiction problems in Indiana be punished and potentially die of their sickness

One of the biggest failures of Pence’s time in Indiana came in the spring of 2015, as an HIV outbreak was spreading through the state. With local officials desperate for needle exchanges to slow the outbreak, Pence held out, citing moral objections. As more Hoosiers became sick, Pence prayed. Then he relented, but ensured that exchanges were difficult to set up by denying them state funding and implementing an onerous application process.

It’s often said that the vice presidency is a ceremonial position without any real power, but Pence showed the folly in that thinking when he nearly cast the tie-breaking vote to end Obamacare. It’s clear that if he ever does get the opportunity, he’ll destroy health care as we know it.

Pence Is A Climate Change Denier

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When Mike Pence arrived in Congress in 2001, there was little mystery surrounding his thoughts on climate change. “Global warming is a myth,” his website said flatly. Over the years, the Vice President has evolved little on the issue. In 2009, he said “the science is very mixed,” in 2014 he said it’s not a “resolved issue,” and in 2017, he suggested that the global catastrophe projected to kill 250,000 people a year by 2030 is just an issue for “the left.”

Pence will destroy the environment for the benefit of the fossil fuel industries

Pence’s words are not unique. The GOP’s cult of climate denialism has many members. But over the years, as a congressman, governor and now Vice President, Pence has been in a position to turn his anti-science ideology into policy. In Washington, that meant voting at an astounding rate against policies to restrict polluters and promote clean energy. All told, he voted for environmentally-friendly positions just four percent of the time, according to the League of Conservation Voters, consistently siding instead with Big Oil and King Coal and against the interests of the American people.

Pence sued the Obama administration for plans to require lower emissions from power plants

When Pence became governor of Indiana, his assault on the environment began in earnest. At every turn, he went out of his way to support industries that hurt the environment, publicly supporting the Keystone XL pipeline despite it not passing anywhere near his state and begging his former colleagues in Congress to defund President Obama’s carbon dioxide controls. When that effort appeared lost, Pence declared his intention to ignore the Clean Power Plan, which called for power plants to lower emissions. When Obama announced it anyway, Pence sued.

Pence’s anti-environment efforts weren’t always so partisan. In 2014, he ended an energy efficiency program put in place by his Republican predecessor. A year after Energizing Indiana was shuttered, an independent report showed that it had led to the creation of nearly 19,000 jobs and saved 11 million megawatt hours.

Pence supports an EPA administrator hellbent on destroying the EPA

In January, Pence brought his aversion to clean air and infatuation with dirty industry to the White House, where he teamed up with two like-minded men. President Trump and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt have already proven to be a destructive force. Trump has raved about “beautiful, clean coal,” a misnomer if there ever was one, signed a sweeping executive order meant to undo Obama’s climate legacy and, most notably, pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, a pact between 196 nations to combat climate change.

Pruitt, meanwhile, has quietly wrecked havoc on the EPA, an agency he warred with as Oklahoma’s attorney general. The self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda” has reversed a range of rules aimed at cleaning up power plant emissions, reducing methane gas leaks and preventing chemical explosions.

He’s also done untold damage to the culture of the agency, preferring to consult with industry insiders over government scientists and slashing the agency’s budget and staff so much that even Republicans are concerned.

Not all of them though. There’s little doubt that Trump, who once said the EPA should be eliminated, and Pence support the destruction Pruitt is wwreaking on the natural world.

Pence Is Backing Racist Voter Suppression Efforts

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When President Trump launched a voter fraud commission in May to substantiate his claim that millions of illegal votes lost him the popular vote—and to lay the groundwork for massive voter suppression—he didn’t have to look far for someone to lead it. Vice President Mike Pence was an obvious pick.

Now, the vote-suppression commission Pence heads is even considering forcing Americans to undergo background checks (like those required for buying a gun) before registering to vote.

Pence raided the office of an organization dedicated to registering African American voters

As governor of Indiana, Pence oversaw an effort to suppress minority voting. A month before the 2016 presidential election, and one week before Indiana’s deadline to register to vote, state police raided the offices of Patriot Majority USA, a group dedicated to registering African-American voters. The group’s director called it a politically motivated attack meant to intimidate voters and suppress the vote in urban areas. Later, state police found that the voter registration discrepancies that led to the raid had nothing to do with fraud.

Pence scaled back early voting opportunities in Dem-leaning urban areas

Also under Pence, the Indiana GOP expanded early-voting opportunities in largely white, GOP-dominated parts of the state while scaling back those opportunities in urban, Democratic areas.

It’s no wonder then that Pence was put in charge of Trump’s commission, which also includes the nation’s leading figure in the voter suppression movement, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Briefly floated for a cabinet position, Kobach is a voter fraud conspiracy theorist like Trump and the architect of Arizona’s infamous “papers please” law.

Pence is spreading the Trump lie that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election

Together, Pence and Kobach have set out to find evidence backing up Trump’s unsubstantiated claim of widespread voter fraud, while also making it harder for people of color, working people and the elderly to vote in 2018 and 2020. If they follow the model set forward by Kobach in Kansas, that will mean an attempt to encourage more voter ID laws, which make it harder for people in poverty to register and to vote.

One of the commission’s goals appears to be implementing Kobach’s Crosscheck system, which compares voter rolls across states in an attempt to find fraudulent of duplicative registrations. Problem is, the exceedingly flawed system is, by one measure, wrong 99 percent of the time.

The commission has already proven its incompetence. In late June it began asking states for vital information on voters so that it could “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.” Problem was, in his letters to each state, Kobach asked for information that officials could not or would not turn over. In all, 41 states denied the request from Pence’s commission, with one Republican secretary of state saying, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Still, the main problem with the commission is not how it operates, but that it exists at all. Study after study shows that voter fraud isn’t a problem, while other studies show the harm that voter ID laws can inflict. The entire commission is an exercise is soothing Trump’s ego and Pence is the man making it go.

Pence Is A Religious Extremist

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When Donald Trump was shuffling through the deck of potential running mates and landed on Mike Pence, there was one obvious reason to select the then-governor of Indiana—the religious right loves him. Trump, with his three marriages and myriad moral failings, needed a devout running mate to win over the GOP base and Pence fit the bill.

Pence’s extremist religious views are also anti-science views

The bible-quoting evangelical is so out front with his religion that an Indiana columnist once wrote “Pence doesn’t simply wear his faith on his sleeve, he wears the entire Jesus jersey.” Hoosiers would know. They saw Pence argue that creationism should be taught in schools, deny the potential of stem cell research, advocate for redirecting funds meant for AIDS patients to anti-gay conversion therapy and attach his name to the Pence Amendment, a 2011 bill to defund Planned Parenthood. 

Homophobia and misogyny are key features of Pence’s version of Christianity

As governor of Indiana, Pence was at the forefront of the religious right’s efforts to discriminate against LGBT people and control women’s bodies. The 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed businesses to turn away gay customers, was a disaster for the state’s image and economy, but no surprise from a guy who once said gay couples signal a “societal collapse.” The following year, Pence approved one of the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion laws, which mandated burials for fetuses. At the time, Pence said he signed it “with a prayer.”

Pence is willing to abandon his religious values selectively for political power

So how did a man of this much religious conviction and moral certainty come to align himself with a cretin like Trump? He believed he could help lead Trump down the path of righteousness.

Failing that, he could at least inject the religious right’s agenda in the White House. Now in Washington, that’s what Pence has done. The VP has emerged as the most religious member of a “near-theocratic administration” that has set out to dismantle the wall between church and state by, among other things, diverting federal money from public to religious schools and allowing churches to engage in politics. Pence alone has already become the most senior White House official to address the anti-abortion March for Life and pushed Trump to ban transgender troops from serving in the military.

Pence is willing to discriminate against people who risk their lives for the country, using his religion as a justification

Pence’s reported role in the military transgender ban, which the Pentagon neither asked for nor wanted, is a sign of the type of harm he could do if he ever ascended to the Oval Office. While Trump is happy to merely support discriminatory measures, Pence would fight for these policies, such as the First Amendment Defense Act, a national version of the LGBT discrimination bill Pence signed in Indiana.

He would also ensure that the next Supreme Court vacancies are filled by judges on the fringes of the religious right, opening up challenges to landmark Supreme Court cases such as Roe v. Wade and further allowing the religious right to to discriminate under the guise of “religious freedom.”

Pence Is A Shameless Warmonger

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In March of 2003, then-Congressman Mike Pence stood on the House floor and gave a speech intended to convince his colleagues to vote for a resolution, which he co-sponsored, that would send the U.S. to war with Iraq. He ended it by saying that the U.S. and an international coalition would “lead Iraq into a new dawn of civilization.” Nearly 15 years later, we know just how wrong he was. And based on his recent national security decisions, we know he hasn’t learned from his mistakes.

In August, Pence and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, successfully pushed for a troop escalation in Afghanistan. Still, it remains as unclear as ever how thousands of Americans on the ground will lead to victory in a place where that concept is so difficult to define. More likely, the escalation is a way to save face, delay the admission of defeat and make a little cash for the administration’s friends in the defense industry.

Pence has a habit of pushing for military confrontation.

Despite the isolationist tone President Trump struck during the presidential campaign, Pence seems eager to escalate the war in Syria, where he’s called for the U.S. to “use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime.” When talking about North Korea, he uses the same saber-rattling bluster that comes out of Pyongyang. In the Baltics, he’s courting confrontation with Russia. And during a trip to Latin America, just days after Trump suggested a possible military intervention in Venezuela, Pence refused to rule it out.

Even with nations that are ostensibly U.S. partners, such as Pakistan, Pence can’t help but create conflict. “We’re putting them on notice,” he said in August 2017, doubling down on a warning Trump gave Islamabad. As some experts have pointed out though, pressuring Pakistan could drive it further away from the U.S., during much more harm than good.

Pence shamelessly exploits religious groups to justify his warmongering

Meanwhile, on Israel, Pence moved the White House into uncharted territory in July by speaking to the group Christians United for Israel and framing the administration’s support in religious terms. The upshot of this unprecedented endorsement is that the U.S. could have a much harder time claiming to be an “honest broker” in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. And that’s not a conflict that needs any more muddying.

But even a decade and a half later, the best illustration of why Pence should be kept far away from foreign policy and national defense decisions is his handling of the Iraq war. Pence’s promise to usher in a “a new dawn of freedom from oppression and torture,” has instead created a country that leads all others in terrorism. His public statements at the time, which include connecting Iraq to al Qaeda and claiming Saddam Hussein was a threat to Americans, display a remarkable misreading of the circumstances in Iraq. He also showed a disconcerting willingness to twist the facts to get what he wanted: war. The U.S. already has a president who will lie to get his way, it does not need the next one to do the same.

Pence Is An Economic Flat-Earther

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In February, a month after taking the oath of office, Vice President Mike Pence stood in front of a massive piece of construction equipment and assured a friendly Missouri crowd that the GOP deliver tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans “before we get to this summertime.” 

Pence still believes in trickle-down economics

They did not. But that failure hasn’t stopped Pence from becoming the public face of the White House’s backwards tax plan, which hinges on cutting income taxes for the highest earners, reducing the corporate tax rate and eliminating the estate tax—changes that would disproportionately help the richest Americans. The White House says the goal of the plan is to “grow the economy and create millions of jobs,” despite the reliance on the widely discredited theory of trickle down economics—a theory so thoroughly abandoned post-Reagan, invoking it now is as preposterous as floating a theory that the earth might be flat.

Pence’s budget cuts disproportionately hurt the poor and benefit the rich

The fight over tax reform begins this fall, just as Washington will be called on to pass a new budget. With GOP majorities in both houses of Congress, that would seem to be an easy task. But the White House tax plan, with its dramatic cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and services such as Meals on Wheels, is such a right wing fantasy that it faces a tough road to the President’s desk.

That’s where Pence comes in. He’s expected to play a “critical” role in the budget and tax battles on Capitol Hill. It should feel familiar after he led the Trump administration’s fight to repeal and replace Obamacare. In April, NBC News called him the White House’s “point person on health care reform” as the GOP fought to strip access from tens of millions of Americans. Pence failed when he couldn’t even get members of his own party to vote for its own bill. But he remains committed to cutting health care access, recently saying repeal of the Affordable Care Act “ain't over by a long shot” and advocating for dumping the ACA without a replacement, which the Congressional Budget Office has said would be a disaster.

Pence believes in entitlements for corporations, but not for people who need them

Pence’s willingness to strip away social services and his dedication to supply side economics is no surprise to anyone who remembers his time as Indiana’s governor, a job he used to repeatedly give handouts to corporations while cutting spending for social programs. Pence bent over backwards to give millions in handouts to companies that went on to ship facilities and jobs overseas. Meanwhile, he was cutting money to higher education and infrastructure projects.

Even before arriving in the governor’s mansion, Pence’s poor judgment on economic policy was on display in Congress. He voted against the 2008 auto bailout, which rescued an industry that’s now booming in Indiana, and opposed President Obama’s stimulus bill, which prevented a second recession. In 2009, then-Congressman Pence said the stimulus, which saved 1.6 million jobs a year for four years straight, would not “put Americans back to work.”

“The only thing it will stimulate is more government and more debt,” he said, once again demonstrating that his stubborn commitment to wrongheaded ideology is more important than the livelihoods of his constituents.