Archives for category: Pence

During the last Trump-Biden debate, the moderator asked about the children separated from their parents. Trump said they were brought across the border by “coyotes,” and that they had never experienced such clean and pleasant surroundings. Biden expressed great remorse for the children who were wrenched from the arms of their parents (not “coyotes”) and left alone.

In my view, this cruel policy of separating parents from their children at the border should be prosecuted as a crime against humanity. International courts should press charges against Trump, Pence, Sessions, and anyone else who was responsible. The parents were deported, and the children were locked up, some of them in cages. Some of them were infants. Contrary to Trump’s claim in the debate, the Obama administration deported families; it did not separate the children from their parents and keep the children while the parents were deported.

The purpose of Trump’s inhumane policy was to discourage immigration by frightening them. The children were separated 2-3 years ago; private groups have been searching for their parents. The Trump administration has stood in their way and claims the parents don’t want the children they lost by force.

Now we know that 545 children are stranded here, and no one knows who or where their parents are. Some of these children are babies who do not know their names. Biden said it: this was “criminal.” Biden was right. The criminals should be prosecuted.

The dissident Republicans who created The Lincoln Project are fast and funny.

Here is “Covita.” It shows Trump returning to the White House after his hospitalization for COVID.

This one is called “Adultery.” It shows a sharp contrast between Pence’s Biblical view of marriage and Trump’s life. #hypocrisy

You may wonder, What’s a libertarian school? Good question. It’s not Summerhill. Read Mitchell Robinson’s post about Thales Academy in Apex, North Carolina, which is a voucher school.

It’s a low-cost, low-quality Private school that’s designed to standardize students and protect them from creative or critical thinking. It’s yet another entrant in DeVos’ “Cabinet of Horrors.” More of this and we will slip back into primordial slime.

This piece was published today on the New York Review of Books blog. Readers of this blog will be familiar with its contents. Readers of the NYBR blog will learn about the debate about how and when to reopen schools and will learn about how Trump and Pence strong-armed the CDC and forced it to weaken its guidance to schools on reopening.

Trump cares more about his re-election than about the lives of America’s students and school staff. He proved it. Today he tweeted a suggestion that the November elections should be delayed, a decision that belongs to Congress, not to him. You can bet that if Congress agreed (the Democratic House would never agree), there would never be another election in his lifetime. His good friend Putin should won a referendum to keep him in power until 2026. Trump must be envious.

Trump decided a few weeks ago that he could help his prospects for re-election if he could get schools across the nation to reopen fully, regardless of the state of the pandemic in their community, regardless of the risks to students and staff. He has threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that refuse to reopen fully, and he proclaimed that he and Pence were pressuring the CDC to weaken its guidelines.

At first, the CDC held firm, urging schools to practice social distancing, to require personal protective equipment, and not to reopen unless all safety precautions were in place.

But the CDC buckled to the White House pressure. It changed the tone of its guidance, now stressing the necessity of reopening over the importance of safety.

Now the CDC sings the song that Trump, Pence, and DeVos want to hear.

The top U.S. public health agency issued a full-throated call to reopen schools in a package of new “resources and tools” posted on its website Thursday night that opened with a statement that sounded more like a political speech than a scientific document, listing numerous benefits for children of being in school and downplaying the potential health risks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the new guidance two weeks after President Trump criticized its earlier recommendations on school reopenings as “very tough and expensive,” ramping up what had already been an anguished national debate over the question of how soon children should return to classrooms. As the president was criticizing the initial C.D.C. recommendations, a document from the agency surfaced that detailed the risks of reopening and the steps that districts were taking to minimize those risks [the document was incorrectly dated 2019].

“Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets — our children — while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families,” the new opening statement said.

The package of materials began with the opening statement, titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools This Fall,” and repeatedly described children as being at low risk for being infected by or transmitting the coronavirus, even though the science on both aspects is far from settled.

“The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms,” the statement said. “At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.”

While children infected by the virus are at low risk of becoming severely ill or dying, how often they become infected and how efficiently they spread the virus to others is not definitively known. Children in middle and high schools may also be at much higher risk of both than those under 10, according to some recent studies.

Beyond the statement, the package included decision tools and checklists for parents, guidance on mitigation measures for schools to take and other information that some epidemiologists described as helpful.

The new materials are meant to supplement guidance the C.D.C. previously issued on when and how to reopen schools, with recommendations such as keeping desks six feet apart and keeping children in one classroom all day instead of allowing them to move around.

The new statement released on Thursday is a stark departure from the 69-page document, obtained by The New York Times earlier this month, marked “For Internal Use Only,” which was intended for federal public health response teams to have as they are deployed to hot spots around the country.

That document classified as “highest risk” the full reopening of schools, and its suggestions for mitigating the risk of school reopenings would be expensive and difficult for many districts, like broad testing of students and faculty and contact tracing to find people exposed to an infected student or teacher.

An Associated Press/NORC poll this week found that most Americans said they were very or extremely concerned that reopening K-12 schools for in-person instruction would contribute to spreading the virus. Altogether, 80 percent of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned, including more than three in five Republicans.

Thanks to Trump, the public can no longer trust the impartiality of the CDC. Under pressure, it revised its guidelines to please the president. Science will not “get in the way” of Trump’s political campaign. Any student or teacher or other school personnel who dies because of a premature opening will be blood on the hands of Trump, Pence, DeVos, and the CDC.

The CDC and its director, Dr. Robert Redfield, are hereby enrolled on the blog’s Wall of Shame.

While other nations such as Spain and Italy have seen an overall decline in new cases of COVID, the US is reporting a new high in the number of those infected. Other nations have followed the advice of public health officials. The US has not.

Mike Pence looked for good news in the rising number of COVID cases in the south and west. The spike is only happening in certain counties, he said, and it’s mostly among younger people who have less risk of death.

Pence did not wear a mask at the press briefing of the coronavirus task force.

The Trump administration on Friday claimed “remarkable progress” in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, despite a surge of cases in the South and West and as several Republican governors allied with President Trump are under pressure to impose stricter public health restrictions to gain control of outbreaks in their states.

Vice President Pence held the first public briefing of the coronavirus task force in nearly two months and sought to deliver an upbeat message that was at odds with warnings from public health experts. The vice president dodged the question of whether people should wear masks in public, as his own administration recommends, and said campaign rallies that pack people together, in violation of public health guidance, will continue.

Pence offered no new strategies to combat the rapidly spreading virus and minimized record daily case counts in several states as “outbreaks in specific counties….”

While Pence acknowledged the rising numbers of cases in the South and the West, he sought to play down the threat while heaping praise on Trump for how he has handled the pandemic. The vice president argued that many of the new cases are being found in younger Americans, who are at less risk of developing deadly complications from the virus than older Americans are. He also argued that states have told him they have enough medical equipment to deal with the surge in infections and repeated the misleading claim that more testing is the main reason for the rising numbers of cases.

Pence rejected the idea that campaign rallies should be curtailed during the pandemic, arguing that the events are constitutionally protected free speech, and he defended two events Trump held in the past week over objections from local officials or the advice of his own public health advisers.

“Well, the freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, and we have an election coming up this fall,” Pence said, adding that people who attend such events are offered screenings and health advice.

Alexandra Petri is the brilliant satirist for The Washington Post. She wrote this column, titled: “The Greeks Are Gone from Troy, for Sure,” by Mike Pence.

“In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown. Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.”

— Vice President Pence in “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave,’” Wall Street Journal

In recent days, Cassandra has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a “second wave” of Greek attack that will soon come sweeping over us like the wrath of Poseidon and leave our city in ruins. Such panic is overblown. (Although, technically, “panic” is fear induced by the god Pan, so really this is not even panic at all. But whatever it is, it is overblown.)

Thanks to the leadership of King Priam and the courage and compassion of the Trojan people, our walled city is far stronger and even less pregnable than it was nine years ago, and we have won the fight against the Greeks. And if you doubt that, just look at this enormous and beautifully constructed wooden horse they have left for us, which is definitely not hollow and will absolutely not be filled with handpicked soldiers ready to pour out and devastate our city.

The Laocoöns and Cassandras are full of negativity about this horse. At least, I think that was what Laocoön was saying before he was seized mid-sentence and crushed to death by sea serpents, along with his two sons! Probably a sign that what he was saying was not important. And when has Cassandra ever been right about anything?

The point is: The war has been a great success. And I can’t think of anyone better to have led us through it than King Priam. Yes, we have had losses, but ultimately we were victorious. That is what this horse means. We should seize it and be grateful.

Looking back, everything the king did was good. It was good, actually, that he put his sons in charge of everything, Hector, Paris — even Deiphobus. Hector was — how do I put this? — godlike. And so good at taming horses. We all miss him. And we even miss Paris, who actually turned out to be kind of helpful and, seemingly by random chance, managed to kill Achilles! I would think that shooting someone in the heel with an arrow would actually be a sign that you were just hitting body parts at random and not very good at what you were doing. But no, it was brilliant strategy! Which is what we have had throughout. And Deiphobus is here, too!

When King Priam asked me to chair our Get the Greeks to Leave and Destroy Their Champion Achilles Task Force nine years ago (Hector was busy), he directed us to pursue not only a Whole-of-the-House-of-Priam approach but a Whole-of-Troy approach. And now that the Greeks have left, spontaneously, I think, I can look back on that task force and see everything we did as a success. It must have been the partnerships I forged, or perhaps it was the weapons I forged. Maybe it was our alliance with the warlike Amazons, a match for men that put us over the top. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)

We’ve also made great progress on developing a device that will keep the Greeks out of here forever. Operation Wind-Swift-Footed Iris is aiming to have a technology that will shroud our city in something even better than Apollo’s protection — though what, really, could be better than that? I hope this wasn’t blasphemy.
I know we have asked the Trojan people to make sacrifices, like not leaving this walled city because there were Greeks outside, something that, amazingly, a few people were unwilling to do but most of you have been great about. But the time for sacrifices is over, except in the sense that we need to make a literal sacrifice to thank the gods for their protection.

Now is the time to bring in the horse and commemorate this achievement. We have defeated this visible enemy, which was also sometimes invisible because the gods are tricky.

Look, we can test the horse, if you like, but I think testing just makes it more likely you will find out information that makes you unhappy, and that is the last thing we need in our moment of triumph. But sure, have Helen walk around the horse calling out in the voices of the Greeks’ loved ones, just in case! Knock yourself out! I am sure the worst is over.

This is a time of celebration, and I think we can all sleep soundly in our beds. And I, for one, will sleep better once we get that horse inside. Congratulations, people of Troy.

Politico wrote today about Mike Pence’s new stance on the coronavirus pandemic. Pence pretended to be thoughtful while he was head of the coronavirus task force. Now that the task force seems to have disappeared, he is free to echo Trump without any pretense of balance or thoughtfulness.

VEEP IN THOUGHT — Since February there has been a rift inside the White House between the scientists and the politicians over how to contain the spread of coronavirus. Anthony Fauci has been the consistent advocate of a forceful response and an opponent of any sugar-coating of the perils Americans face. President Donald Trump has been the reluctant warrior against the disease who took some major steps early on but soon grew impatient of the stay-at-home restrictions, the masks, and — most of all — the economic calamity that might jeopardize his re-election.

Vice President Mike Pence, the chair of the president’s coronavirus task force, often played the role of bridge between the factions. At the awkward task force briefings that dominated afternoon television in March and April, the three roles of the three men played out as theater: Fauci the doomsayer, Trump the misinformed optimist, and Pence the child of a troubled marriage trying to smooth things over during mom and dad’s public fights.

Pence abruptly reinvented himself as a coronavirus skeptic this week, with comments and an op-ed article that stray into pandemic denialism. In a conference call with governors, Pence incorrectly argued Monday that the spike in cases that almost half of the states are experiencing is simply a function of more testing. In a Wall Street Journal piece published today and headlined “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave,’” Pence wrote, “The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different.”

The op-ed cherry-picked a handful of positive statistics — there are of course bright spots — and emphasized the administration’s record in increasing testing and pumping up the manufacture of personal protective equipment. He boldly predicted a vaccine would be available “by the fall.”

Perhaps most telling, Pence made it clear that the effort to eliminate the disease before a vaccine is ready is not really the goal anymore. Instead, Pence argued that the White House now measures success by a lower level of daily deaths.

“In the past five days,” he wrote, “deaths are down to fewer than 750 a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago and a far cry from the 5,000 a day that some were predicting.” This purportedly tolerable rate of 750 dead Americans a day would equal 270,000 deaths in a year.

By this afternoon, the news pages of the Journal contradicted much of what Pence had to say. In an interview with the paper, Fauci reiterated that the jump in cases “cannot be explained by increased testing.” He warned that relaxed approaches to social distancing, such as congregating close to lots of people in large venues, and an aversion to mask-wearing would cause the disease to spread.

Pence is scheduled to be with Trump at a rally in Tulsa, Okla. on Saturday, while Fauci told NPR that he hasn’t talked to Trump in two weeks.

But Fauci did agree with Pence on one thing. “People keep talking about a second wave,” he told the newspaper. “We’re still in a first wave.”

Sorry to have missed this great story when Jan Resseger posted it. i happened to have been down and out with the flu. This is a story I wish I could include in SLAYING GOLIATH. The perpetrators returned to the scene of their crime and are shunned!

Jan Resseger writes:

Wisconsin and Ohio have the oldest school choice programs in the United States.  Milwaukee’s voucher program is 30 years old and the Cleveland Voucher Program is 24 years old.  Both states have expanded vouchers statewide beyond the two cities where they began. It ought to be a red flag that in these two states with the oldest programs, National School Choice Week may have been more contentious than anywhere else in the country.

National School Choice Week in Wisconsin

Last week Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos went to Madison, Wisconsin’s capital city, to honor National School Choice Week, a celebration of vouchers and charter schools that was established and is promoted every year by groups like the American Federation for Children—the group DeVos herself helped found and to which she has regularly donated generously—and Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd.

Pence and DeVos were not welcomed by Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who skipped the event altogether. Before he was elected governor, Evers was the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, and before that he was a public school educator. Evers has devoted his career to leading and promoting the state’s public schools.

Neither Pence nor DeVos was welcomed by the Capital Times in Madison, which editorialized: “Pence parrots the talking points of the wealthy campaign donors he has always served…. That’s what Pence did Tuesday in Madison… Pence was promoting ongoing efforts to undermine public education with the usual cabal of billionaire-funded advocates for the agenda of the Trump-Pence administration’s ‘school choice’ agenda… Out-of-state billionaires like DeVos and politicians like Pence have for years targeted Wisconsin in their efforts to promote ‘school choice’ initiatives. They got traction when one of their lackeys, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, was in office. But Walker, a Pence crony, was swept out of office in 2018 by a supporter of public education, Democrat Tony Evers.”

The Capital Times‘ editorial board adds that this year, there has been pressure against school privatization in the city of Milwaukee itself: “(I)n the spring of 2019, critics of school choice and school privatization schemes swept school board elections in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city… Key to the pushback against the ‘school choice’ advocates was the activism of African American and Latino Milwaukeeans, and the determination of groups such as Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) and Voces de la Frontera Action, Inc. to defend public education.”

On the very same day Pence and DeVos came to Madison to extol school choice, the Capital Times‘ Briana Reilly reportedthat State Representative, Jonathan Brostoff joined fellow Democratic lawmakers and public school advocates to reintroduce a bill that would phase out Wisconsin vouchers and reinstate a Student Achievement Guarantee in Education, to reduce public school class sizes and upgrade the curriculum in participating public schools.

Executive Director of the statewide Wisconsin Public Education Network, Heather DuBois Bourenane endorsed the Public Education Reinvestment Act being introduced. First she explained specific problems with private schools that receive vouchers: “They do not answer to a locally elected school board. They do not have to follow laws protecting students with disabilities. They do not have to follow the same stringent reporting and hiring requirements as public schools. They can use curriculum that is religious, unvetted and unscientific. They can—and frequently do—‘counsel out’ students who do not meet expectations, distorting the data on their performance and creating unfunded cost burdens for local public schools. This is unethical and we know it is wrong.”

As in other states, Wisconsin’s legislature has created “school choice” programs, but the same state legislature has neglected to pass the taxes that would fund the programs. In Wisconsin and other states, vouchers and charter schools have been funded at the expense of public schools. DuBois Bourenane described the fiscal disaster thrust on Wisconsin’s public schools by ever-expanding school vouchers: “Wisconsin is spending $351,180,390.29 this year to provide taxpayer funded tuition vouchers to 43,450 students at 317 schools, nearly 100 percent of which are religious schools. We know that nearly all of the students in the statewide program already attended these private schools… There are over 860,000 children whose parents choose to send them to the public schools that are the heart of our communities; public schools that accept, embrace, and proudly serve ALL students. Yet data from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that even as the unaccountable voucher program has been recklessly expanded, our public schools have been increasingly underserved by the state. According to the Wisconsin Budget Project, ‘In 2021, the state will invest less in public school districts than it did in 2011…. In 2021, Wisconsin school districts will receive $75 million less in state aid than in 2011 in inflation-adjusted dollars.’”

National School Choice Week In Ohio

Tomorrow, February 1, parents are scheduled to begin claiming vouchers for Ohio’s EdChoice Voucher Program for the 2020-2021 school year, but as of this morning, nobody knows what the program will look like or how many students will be able to qualify.

As Jan has previously posted, Ohio’s legislators don’t care about the public schools that most students attend. They are obsessed with charters (most of which are failing) and vouchers (even though the only research on the Ohio program shows that it harms children, who lose ground in math and make no gains in reading).

But isn’t it wonderful to see the two big Goliaths—DeVos and Pence—get a chilly reception when they arrive in Madison  to celebrate School  Voice Week? I will save this for the next edition of SLAYING GOLIATH. The Resistance is winning in Wisconsin!

As the Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy you love.”


Carol Burris describes in this post how Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Governor Mi,e Pence created the most expansive voucher program in the nation.

“Last year, the taxpayers of Indiana paid out $146.1 million to voucher schools, with most of it going to families who would have sent their children to private school anyway.”

The program was launched by Go Error Daniels in 2011.

Indiana’s 2011 voucher program began literally with a kiss when then Gov. Mitch Daniels picked up the bill and brought it to his lips. Daniels and his allies did more than just begin the nation’s largest voucher program. As the bill made its way through the statehouse, a $1,000 tax deduction for homeschoolers and private school families was also added. This allowed private school parents and homeschoolers to deduct costs above tuition, such as school supplies.

Daniels also expanded the already existing Scholarship Tax Credit Program that gives tax credits to companies and individuals who make donations to “scholarship” organizations that, in turn, provide vouchers. Those taking the credit get 50 percent of what they donate back.

The passage of the voucher bills and tax write-offs were hailed then by Betsy DeVos, then a school choice advocate and now U.S. education secretary, who said, “We thank Governor Daniels and the Indiana Legislature for working so hard to make widespread school choice a reality across the state.”

Since 2011, the political action committees (PACs) of the American Federation for Children, which she co- founded, have contributed $1,040,540 to Republican pro-voucher Hoosiers and PACs. DeVos family members, including Betsy and her husband Dick, have personally contributed $1,525,000 to Indiana candidates or PACs since the voucher law was put in place. Their prior contributions (1998 to 2010) in that state totaled only $62,000.

The passage of the voucher bill was also praised by Robert Enlow, president and chief executive officer of the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, which changed its name in 2016 to EdChoice. The chairman of the EdChoice board is the CEO of, Patrick M. Byrne. A Utah resident, Byrne contributed $465,000 to Indiana candidates and PACs beginning with Mitch Daniels’s campaign. He and his family financed over $4 million of the $5 million raised by Families for Choice, a PAC formed to support vouchers in a 2007 Utah referendum. Upon realizing that vouchers were rejected by 62 percent of voters, Byrne referred to the referendum as a “statewide IQ test that Utah voters failed…

Pence, as governor, did everything he could to expand school choice. He grew the number of charter schools by creating a $50 million, low-interest loan program for technology and transportation as well as a $500 per student charter increase, which the legislature had scaled back from his original $1,500 ask.

The greatest growth, however, was in the state’s voucher program. Pence, who describes his religious beliefs as evangelical, removed the cap on the number of students who could qualify for a voucher to a private school, increased the limits on qualifying family income, and removed Daniel’s stipulation that the student had to try the public school first.

No longer was money being saved as a small number of students transferred from public to private schools. Now middle-income families already using private schools were having their tuition paid for, at least partially, by the state.

Nearly all of the 300-plus Indiana private schools that receive vouchers are religious schools. Although they may not discriminate in admissions based race, color, national origin or disability, they can require attendance in a designated church, mosque or synagogue and they may select students based on other factors such as test scores, discipline records and the lifestyle of their parents…

Voucher schools with grades of ‘D’ or ‘F’ for two years in a row are prohibited from taking on new voucher students until they raise performance. This law cost private schools with poor test scores considerable funding. To keep the voucher money flowing, last summer the legislature passed a new law that allows voucher schools to appeal to the State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor. As soon as the law was passed, four religious schools applied for a waiver and all four were approved to take on new voucher students despite their failing grades.

The Indiana voucher program has also been an escape hatch for failing charter schools. The Padua Academy, a charter school in Indianapolis, had two years of consecutive failing ratings. Instead of shutting down, Padua became St. Anthony’s Catholic School. The same principal who led the failing charter stayed on as the leader of the replacement voucher school, which received $1.2 million in tax dollars.

Failing charters flipping to voucher schools is not limited to Padua. Imagine Schools is the largest charter management corporation in the United States. Imagine was founded and operated by Dennis Bakke, the former CEO of an energy company, AES, which merged with the Indianapolis Power and Light Company (IPALCO) in 2001. That merger would quickly become a disaster for IPALCO stockholders and workers. Stock price plummeted and many lost their jobs and their retirement savings.

When Bakke was ousted from AES in 2002 after its stock crashed, he moved into the charter management business. Imagine quickly expanded and became notorious for the real estate deals of its subsidiary company, SchoolHouse Finance. SchoolHouse Finance buys properties, often selling them for twice or three times the purchase to a buyer, and then leases them back from the buyer in order to then lease them to Imagine charter schools at exorbitant rates. Investigations of Imagine Charters in Ohio and Florida found charters paying leases that amounted, in some cases, to half of the schools’ revenue from tax dollars. Imagine was fined $1 million by Missouri for self-dealing.

We are reminded yet again that the allocation of public money without strict accountability is a invitation to commit fraud and self-dealing.