Archives for category: Pence

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 Overstock.com., 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.

We will never find out how low they will go.

This one, at least, is funny.

Mike Pence held a rally in Michigan. He wanted to show his respect to the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The “rabbi” invited to speak was not Jewish. He was a convert to Christianity and part of a group called “Jews for Jesus,” which seeks to convert Jews to Christianity.

But now it turns out that he was defrocked as a “rabbi.”

He was not only a fake rabbi, he was a fake fake rabbi.

There was a burst of semi-bewildered outrage this week when Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, attempted to pay respects to the 11 Jewish victims of an explicitly anti-Semitic attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue two days earlier by appearing with a fake rabbi at his rally in Michigan on Monday. The “rabbi” in question, Loren Jacobs, subscribes to Messianic Judaism, a belief system that sees him spend most of his time essentially trying to convert Jews to Christianity. After all, if you think Jesus was the Messiah, you sound a lot like a Christian, and mainstream Jewish groups do not recognize Messianic Judaism as a Jewish faith.

It was, in general, a gesture of profound ignorance and disrespect. Jacobs, who reportedly attended “the Moody Bible Institute, a conservative Christian institute in Chicago,” invoked Jesus by name in his rally oratory and asked God Himself to back the Republican Party in the midterms. All God’s children, and all that.

But the tragicomedy only continued Wednesday, when NBC News came out with a stupefying new layer to the story. Jacobs is not, in fact, just a Fake Rabbi. He’s a Fake Fake Rabbi, which somehow doesn’t make him a real rabbi.

“Loren Jacobs, who was invited onstage by Vice President Mike Pence to speak at a rally in Michigan for a GOP congressional candidate, was defrocked 15 years ago, according to a spokeswoman for the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations.”

Whatever Pence’s intentions, he certainly did not pay respect to the 11 Jews who were massacred in Pittsburgh, who were real Jews.

Frank Bruni of the New York Times reviewed a new biography of Mike Pence.

Who is he? A religious zealot.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Like his friend Betsy DeVos, he is on a mission from God.

He writes:

“Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.

“That’s the takeaway from a forthcoming book by the journalists Michael D’Antonio, who previously wrote “The Truth About Trump,” and Peter Eisner. It’s titled “The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence,” it will be published on Aug. 28 and it’s the most thorough examination of the vice president’s background to date…

“The book persuasively illustrates what an ineffectual congressman he was, apart from cozying up to the Koch brothers, Betsy DeVos and other rich Republican donors; the clumsiness and vanity of his one term as governor of Indiana, for which he did something that predecessors hadn’t and “ordered up a collection of custom-embroidered clothes — dress shirts, polo shirts, and vests and jackets — decorated with his name and the words Governor of Indiana”; the strong possibility that he wouldn’t have won re-election; his luck in being spared that humiliation by the summons from Trump, who needed an outwardly bland, intensely religious character witness to muffle his madness and launder his sins; and the alacrity with which he says whatever Trump needs him to regardless of the truth.

“In Pence’s view, any bite marks in his tongue are divinely ordained. Trump wouldn’t be president if God didn’t want that; Pence wouldn’t be vice president if he weren’t supposed to sanctify Trump. And his obsequiousness is his own best route to the Oval Office, which may very well be God’s grand plan…

“So it’s time to look harder at Pence. “The Shadow President” does. It lays out his disregard for science, evident in his onetime insistence that smoking doesn’t cause cancer and a belief that alarms about climate change were “a secret effort to increase government control over people’s lives for some unstated diabolical purpose,” according to the book.

“It suggests callousness at best toward African-Americans. As governor, Pence refused to pardon a black man who had spent almost a decade in prison for a crime that he clearly hadn’t committed. He also ignored a crisis — similar to the one in Flint, Mich. — in which people in a poor, largely black Indiana city were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead. D’Antonio told me: “I think he’s just as driven by prejudice as Trump is…”

“You can thank Pence for DeVos. They are longtime allies, going back decades, who bonded over such shared passions as making it O.K. for students to use government money, in the form of vouchers, at religious schools. Pence cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate to confirm her as education secretary. It was the first time in history that a vice president had done that for a cabinet nominee.

Fiercely opposed to abortion, Pence once spoke positively on the House floor about historical figures who “actually placed it beyond doubt that the offense of abortion was a capital offense, punishable even by death.” He seemed to back federal funds for anti-gay conversion therapy. He promoted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

“He is absolutely certain that his moral view should govern public policy,” D’Antonio told me.”

Phyllis Bush writes a blog about her battle with cancer. So far, she is winning, which is not surprising because Phyllis is a fighter. She also has an irrepressible sense of humor and insists on calling the disease “cancer-schmanzer.” Many years ago, people called it simply “the C word,” fearful of saying the word. Phyllis refuses to be cowed.

This post is not about cancer.

It is about a cause dear to Phyllis’s heart.

Phyllis lives in Indiana. She is a retired teacher. She has seen the Pence-DeVos privatization movement up close. It is divisive, unproductive, anti-democratic.

I hope you will honor her fight by joining her in the battle to save public education.

Thanks to Duane Swacker for this hilarious piece from the Onion!

Mike Pence asks the waiter to remove Mrs. Butterworth from the table until his wife arrives. Her comely shape embarrasses him.

Someone on Twitter said that Mike Pence seems to be obsessed with the sanctity of marriage, but obsessed with interfering in the sanctity of other people’s marriages.

The IndyStar reports that former Governor Mike Pence used a personal AOL account to conduct state business, and that his account included sensitive information about security.

Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues.

Emails released to IndyStar in response to a public records request show Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges.

Cyber-security experts say the emails raise concerns about whether such sensitive information was adequately protected from hackers, given that personal accounts like Pence’s are typically less secure than government email accounts. In fact, Pence’s personal account was hacked last summer.

Is it time to start chanting “Lock him up”?