THE DAILY INTELLIGENCER: AMERICA’S “TOADY IN WAITING”

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/mike-pence-first-toady.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily Intelligencer – December 6, 2017&utm_term=Subscription List – Daily Intelligencer (1 Year)

Ed Kilgore reports for The Daily Intelligencer in NY Maggie:

“Most reactions to McKay Coppins’s vast new profile of Vice-President Mike Pence have focused on an October 2016 incident wherein the then-candidate for veep offered to replace Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in the wake of the Access Hollywood revelations, which for a moment looked likely to bring the mogul down.

But the far more enduring picture Coppins paints is very different: Mike Pence as a man who decided early on in his relationship with Trump that no one could look in the mirror at night and see a browner nose.

In Pence, Trump has found an obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the president appears boundless. When Trump comes under fire for describing white nationalists as “very fine people,” Pence is there to assure the world that he is actually a man of great decency. When Trump needs someone to fly across the country to an NFL game so he can walk out in protest of national-anthem kneelers, Pence heads for Air Force Two.

This willingness to serve as First Toady was evident in Pence’s initial interview — on a Trump golf course — as a potential running mate:

Pence had called Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, whom he’d known for years, and asked for her advice on how to handle the meeting. Conway had told him to talk about “stuff outside of politics,” and suggested he show his eagerness to learn from the billionaire. “I knew they would enjoy each other’s company,” Conway told me, adding, “Mike Pence is someone whose faith allows him to subvert his ego to the greater good.”

True to form, Pence spent much of their time on the course kissing Trump’s ring. You’re going to be the next president of the United States, he said. It would be the honor of a lifetime to serve you. Afterward, he made a point of gushing to the press about Trump’s golf game. “He beat me like a drum,” Pence confessed, to Trump’s delight.

This set the pattern for Pence, notwithstanding anything he might have contemplated during the brief but intense hours after the Access Hollywoodrevelations.

What makes Coppins’s take on Pence especially valuable is his understanding that sucking up to Trump was entirely in keeping with the Hoosier governor’s sense that God was working through the unlikely medium of the heathenish demagogue to lift up Pence and his godly agenda to the heights of power. Just as it has been forgotten that the Access Hollywood tapes nearly brought Trump down, it has rarely been understood outside Indiana that Pence was down and possibly out when Trump reached out to him to join his ticket.

The very fact that he is standing behind a lectern bearing the vice-presidential seal is, one could argue, a loaves-and-fishes-level miracle. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters.

Pence’s apparent demise, moreover, came after his careful plans to position himself to run for president in 2016 went awry via his clumsy handling of a signature “religious liberty” bill and a fatal underestimation of the resulting backlash from the business community.

All of a sudden, he was lifted from this slough of despond and placed a heartbeat away from total power thanks to his ability to, as Kellyanne Conway put it, “subvert his ego” in the presence of his deliverer, whose own ego has no limits. He clearly has not forgotten this lesson of an ambition fed by self-abasement rather than self-promotion. And according to Coppins, he even has a theological justification for blind loyalty to Trump:

Marc Short, a longtime adviser to Pence and a fellow Christian, told me that the vice president believes strongly in a scriptural concept evangelicals call “servant leadership.” The idea is rooted in the Gospels, where Jesus models humility by washing his disciples’ feet and teaches, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

Usually the idea is to be the “slave” of one’s followers and of the less fortunate, not the slave of the billionaire POTUS, but Pence has the “humility” part down pat.

Pence’s presumed reward in this redemption story could, of course, extend beyond the power he exercises as one of the more influential vice-presidents in history, and as Trump’s designated mediator with the Christian right and with those Republican elected officials who aren’t themselves in the great man’s retinue. He would be the obvious successor to Trump in 2024, when he will still be a relatively youthful 65 — whether or not Trump wins a second term in 2020. And in the meantime, as in the panic-stricken hours after the Access Hollywood tapes were released, Republicans will look to Pence as a reassuring and unifying figure whenever Trump’s presidency is endangered, whether it’s by the Mueller investigation or his own erratic conduct.

Pence has indeed come a long way since he was airlifted out of what was probably a losing gubernatorial race to the role of worshipful sidekick to Donald Trump. And he’s earned his actual and potential power via a habit of slavish loyalty that he may consider godly, but others find infernally corrupt if effective.”

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I’ve called Pence a sycophant. But, sycophant, toady, you get the picture: spineless, and when you get beyond the disgustingly un-Christian and un-Jesus brand of intolerant religious zealotry that Pence passes off for Christianity (thus giving Christians a “bad name”) you get a guy that no thoughtful American should want for President.  Doesn’t, of course, mean that he won’t be President; just that he shouldn’t be.

Now, there is a school of thought around “The Swamp” that “Mikey the Toady” is “going down” along with The Trumpster in “Russiagate,” leaving us with the “Weaselly  Badger” Paul Ryan as President. Before you get too excited about that prospect, however, best to read the following article to understand that in addition to being a spineless coward who isn’t as smart as he and his backers think he is, Ryan is a “Joint Venture” (50-50 ownership for you non-corporate types) of the National Rifle Association and the Koch Brothers. Yeah, I know that this is a “fake news” satirical piece by none other than the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz. Sadly, however, it contains more accuracy than a standard White House press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (a disturbingly low standard to be sure — where oh where is “Spicey” when we need him?). In the end, he could turn out to be just as damaging to America and the world as Trump and Pence.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/koch-brothers-and-nra-reach-timeshare-agreement-over-ownership-of-paul-ryan

“WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a unique accord, the billionaire Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association have reached a timeshare agreement over the ownership of House Speaker Paul Ryan, representatives of both parties have confirmed.

Speaking on behalf of the Kochs, Charles Koch said that he contacted the N.R.A.’s executive director, Wayne LaPierre, with the timeshare proposal “so that we could all get the maximum enjoyment out of owning Paul.”

The arrangement is intended to minimize conflicts between the Kochs and the gun group that have arisen in the past when both co-owners have wanted to use Ryan at the same time, Koch said.

“I said to Wayne, ‘This is craziness,’ ” he said. “ ‘Let’s work something out where you get Paul half the year, and we’ll take him the other half.’ ”

Under the timeshare deal, the Kochs will have the exclusive use of Ryan during the months when tax cuts and environmental deregulation are put to a vote, while the N.R.A. will have him for the months when gun legislation is to be defeated.

Additionally, each co-owner is responsible for insuring that Ryan is well maintained and in good condition when the other’s period of using him commences.

Koch indicated that, if the timeshare agreement is a success, the two parties are likely to work out a similar deal for their longtime joint ownership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

So, what’s a self-respecting country to do? The answer is actually pretty obvious. Stop putting Republicans in elective office. No, that won’t cure all the country’s ills; indeed, just repairing the damage already done by this Administration could take decades.

But, at least we’ll have some folks in office who are working for the common good and trying to solve the nation’s and the world’s problems (yes, amazingly, they are interrelated) rather than actively making them worse every day. And, that would be a start!

PWS

121-08-17

WARNING: THIS IS SATIRE FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT IN THE NEW YORKER: “Kim Jong Un Fears That G.O.P. Tax Bill Makes His Plan to Destroy U.S. Redundant!”

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/kim-jong-un-fears-that-gop-tax-bill-makes-his-plan-to-destroy-us-redundant

Andy writes:

“PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report)—Kim Jong Un is concerned that his long-standing plan to destroy the United States has been made totally irrelevant by the Republican tax bill moving through the Senate, a source close to the North Korean dictator said on Friday.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Kim fears that his scheme to turn the United States into an uninhabitable hellhole has been to a large extent upstaged by a similar proposal from congressional Republicans.
“You have to understand, destroying America is something that Kim and his family have been plotting for decades,” the source said. “To see the Republicans swoop in at the last second and basically steal that idea—it’s got to hurt.”
According to the source, Kim has been watching C-span non-stop, praying that the Republicans’ plan to end life as Americans know it might come undone at the last moment, but he is “not getting his hopes up.”
“After having such a wonderful missile test, he should be on top of the world this week,” the source said. “Instead, he’s afraid that all his hard work has been for nothing. He now understands why so many Americans despise the Republicans.”

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Getting harder to tell the difference between satire and reality these days. And, Borowitz probably could have substituted “President Xi,” “President Putin,” or for that matter the “Leader of ISIS” for “Un.”

The point is that weave done this to ourselves. A completely preventable disaster, but not one that will be easily repaired, if ever.

PWS

12-02-17

NOT ALL DHS AGENTS ON BOARD WITH GONZO ENFORCEMENT POLICIES — Current Atmosphere Breeds Disrespect For Migrants! — Detaining Kids “Because We Can” — Consciously and Irresponsibly Overloading The U.S. Immigration Courts “Because We Can” — “Targeting The Most Vulnerable People, Not The Worst!”

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/a-veteran-ice-agent-disillusioned-with-the-trump-era-speaks-out

Jonathan Blitzer writes in the The New Yorker:

“The agent went on, “The whole idea is targeting kids. I know that technically they meet the legal definition of being adults. Fine. But if they were my kids travelling in a foreign country, I wouldn’t be O.K. with this. We’re not doing what we tell people we do. If you look next month, or at the end of this month, at the people in custody, it’s people who’ve been here for years. They’re supposed to be in high school.”
The agent was especially concerned about a new policy that allows ice to investigate cases of immigrants who may have paid smugglers to bring their children or relatives into the country. ice considers these family members guilty of placing children “directly in harm’s way,” as one spokeswoman recently put it, and the agency will hold them “accountable for their role in these conspiracies.” According to ice, these measures will help combat “a constant humanitarian threat,” but the agent said that rationale was just a pretext to increase arrests and eventually deport more people. “We seem to be targeting the most vulnerable people, not the worst.” The agent also believes that the policy will make it harder for the government to handle unaccompanied children who show up at the border. “You’re going to have kids stuck in detention because parents are too scared of being prosecuted to want to pick them up!” the agent said.
U.S. immigration courts are facing a backlog of half a million cases, with only a limited number of judges available to hear them and issue rulings. “We still have to make decisions based on a responsible use of the government’s resources—you can’t lock everybody up,” the agent said. “We’re putting more people into that overburdened system just because we can. There’s just this school of thought that, well, we can do what we want.”
Before this year, the agent had never spoken to the media. “I have a couple of colleagues that I can kind of talk to, but not many,” the agent said. “This has been a difficult year for many of us.” These people, not just at ice but also at other federal agencies tasked with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, are “trying to figure out how to minimize the damage.” It isn’t clear what, exactly, they can do under the circumstances. “Immigration is a pendulum—it swings to the left sometimes, or it swings to the right,” the agent told me last week. “But there was a normal range. Now people are bringing their own opinions into work.” In the agent’s view, ice is a changed agency.
“I like predictability,” the agent said. “I like being able to go into work and have faith in my senior managers and the Administration, and to know that, regardless of their political views, at the end of the day they’re going to do something that’s appropriate. I don’t feel that way anymore.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Sure sounds like the “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist agenda with a extra touch of arrogance, cruelty, and inhumanity thrown in. Nice “culture of hate” that Kelly is apparently building over at DHS. The reputation of Gen. Kelly who is permitting this gross abuse of authority and resources on his watch should continue to deteriorate.

PWS

07-25-17

THE NEW YORKER: Bureaucratic Delays Impede Due Process In U.S. Immigration Court!

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-will-trump-do-with-half-a-million-backlogged-immigration-cases

Jonathan Blitzer writes in The New Yorker:

“In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions travelled to Nogales, Arizona, to make an announcement. “This is the Trump era,” he said. “The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigrations laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.” While his tone was harsh, and many of the proposals he outlined were hostile to immigrants, he detailed one idea that even some of his critics support: the hiring of more immigration judges.

U.S. immigration courts are facing a backlog of over half a million cases—and each one, on average, takes almost two years to close. These delays mean that everyone from asylum seekers to green-card holders faces extended stays in detention while awaiting rulings. Speaking about the problem, one immigration judge recently told the Times, “The courts as a whole lose credibility.”

Much of the backlog can be traced back to the Obama Administration, when spending on immigration enforcement went up, while Congress dramatically limited funds for hiring more judges. The number of pending cases grew from a hundred and sixty-seven thousand, in 2008, to five hundred and sixty thousand, in 2017, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The broader trend, though, goes back farther. Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, in 2002, the increase in resources allocated for border security and immigration policing has always significantly outpaced funding for the courts. (Immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice.) As more and more people have been arrested, detained, and ordered deported, the courts have remained understaffed and underfunded. “We’ve always been an afterthought,” Dana Leigh Marks, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told me.

Roughly three hundred judges nationwide are responsible for the entire immigration caseload, and hiring is slow—filling a vacancy typically tak

es about two years, according to the Government Accountability Office. In Nogales, Sessions said that he would try to streamline the hiring process. But until that happens the Administration has been relocating judges to areas where they’re deemed most necessary. “We have already surged twenty-five immigration judges to detention centers along the border,” Sessions said, as if talking about military troop levels.”

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To state the obvious, a court should be run as an independent court system, not a bureaucratic agency within a highly politicized Executive Department like the DOJ. (If you ever wondered whether the DOJ was politicized, recent events should make it clear that it is.)

And, Jeff, these are judges, not troops; and the individuals are not an “invading army,” just mostly ordinary folks seeking refuge, due process, and fair treatment under our laws and the Constitution. Remember, it’s not an immigration crisis; it’s a crisis involving the steady degradation of due process within the U.S. Immigration Court system.

PWS

06-21-17

POLITICS/SATIRE: Latest New Yorker Cover Says It All!🤡 — But, Over In The “Parallel Universe” Of Trump Backers & The GOP, Everything Is A-OK!

“Comic Riffs
New Yorker cover renders Trump as a ‘Modern’ clown of his own making
By Michael Cavna June 9

The New Yorker
WERE FILM FANS to pick a Charlie Chaplin picture that most summons thoughts of President Trump, some might choose “The Gold Rush” or “The Great Dictator,” if not a short titled “The Property Man,” “His New Job” or “Gentlemen of Nerve.”

For his latest topical New Yorker cover, though, Barry Blitt goes with man vs. political machinations in a sly spoof of Chaplin’s gear-grinding clowning in “Modern Times.”

GIF
by Barry Blitt / The New Yorker 2017
“Both Chaplin and Trump are iconic clowns,” Blitt says. “In the classic ‘Modern Times,’ the iconic Little Trump character struggles to survive in a world fraught with calamities of his own making at every turn. Alas, his big red clown tie getting caught repeatedly in the works.” Continue reading POLITICS/SATIRE: Latest New Yorker Cover Says It All!🤡 — But, Over In The “Parallel Universe” Of Trump Backers & The GOP, Everything Is A-OK!

Read Political Satire From Andy Borowitz: “Nation with Crumbling Bridges and Roads Excited to Build Giant Wall”

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/nation-with-crumbling-bridges-and-roads-excited-to-build-giant-wall

“WASHINGTON ()—As America’s bridges, roads, and other infrastructure dangerously deteriorate from decades of neglect, there is a mounting sense of urgency that it is time to build a giant wall.

Across the U.S., whose rail system is a rickety antique plagued by deadly accidents, Americans are increasingly recognizing that building a wall with Mexico, and possibly another one with Canada, should be the country’s top priority.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of a Washington-based think tank called the Center for Responsible Immigration, believes that most Americans favor the building of border walls over extravagant pet projects like structurally sound freeway overpasses.

“The estimated cost of a border wall with Mexico is five billion dollars,” he said. “We could easily blow the same amount of money on infrastructure repairs and have nothing to show for it but functioning highways.”

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Will the incoming Trump Administration sound the death knell for political satirists like Andy Horowitz?  It’s getting pretty hard to tell the difference among “satire,” “fake news,” “made up facts,” and what passes for “truth” these days.

After all, we do actually have a a group of so-called “fiscal conservatives” in Congress lining up to throw perhaps as much as eight billion dollars (almost like “real money”) at a project that most immigration experts, whether “hardliners” or “softliners,” agree is a waste of time and money and won’t solve the problems of border security and immigration enforcement.  These same legislators can’t, or won’t, come up with the money to fund things like health care, the safety net, public education, our infrastructure, or government salaries.

And, for those of us who are, probably naively, hoping that soon to be Attorney General Jeff Sessions would take his new, broader responsibilities to our country seriously, rethink some of his ill-advised anti-immigrant positions, and at least occasionally act as the “adult in the room”  — counseling prudence and moderation — there is some, perhaps not unexpected, bad news.

According to the article below from today’s Washington Post, Sessions and his closest advisers apparently are working behind the scenes to “egg on” the Administration and Congress to throw taxpayer money at this futile, and nationally embarrassing, project. Could we fix the current mess in the U.S. Immigration Courts — which Sessions will run — for eight billion dollars?  You bet we could!

We could build a first-class, independent, due process oriented court system that would be a source of national pride and would live up to its currently unfulfilled vision of “through teamwork and innovation be the world’s best tribunals, guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.”   And, there would be plenty left over from the eight billion dollars to spend on thoughtful immigration and border enforcement if that’s what Sessions and others in the Administration and Congress really want.  It should be a classic “win-win.”  But, will it happen?  Only time will tell.  But, the early signs aren’t very promising.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hill-republicans-embrace-building-of-border-wall-despite-cost/2017/01/06/06f29b18-d432-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.fac057dfce36

PWS

01/07/16