Russia Abroad, Theocrats at Home

Welcome to the Trump/Pence Administration.

Per Right Wing Watch

Last month, it was reported that President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team was giving Religious Right activists, especially the members of his presidential campaign’s evangelical advisory board, unprecedented input in shaping his administration,

Earlier this week, one of the members of that board, Richard Land of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, appeared on the “Point of View” radio program, where he told host Kerby Anderson that he has been shocked by how much influence he and other Religious Right activists have had over the make-up of Trump’s administration.

“Some of my conservative friends and I, we have been pinching ourselves, are we hallucinating or is this actually happening?” Land said. “I know a good number of people on the transition team and I can tell you right now, about half of them, Kerby, think I’m liberal. I mean, these are very conservative people.”

Land went on to say that he had personally been solicited several times for names of potential appointees, something that had never happened with prior administrations. He predicted that the Trump/Pence administration would have more conservative Christians in it than any administration he’d had contact with, including the Reagan Administration.

Hoosiers who suffered through four years of his administration can see Mike Pence’s fingerprints all over these appointments.

Americans now have a President who has neither experience with nor interest in government. He still hasn’t filled most staff positions, he hasn’t educated himself about the challenges he’ll face, and he’s given no evidence that he understands what the job of President entails. Instead, he has engaged in the same petty, self-aggrandizing behaviors we’ve come to expect: arguing about the size of inaugural crowds, lashing out at the women and men who marched in opposition to him, threatening the press, and generally acting like a five-year-old spoiled brat.

Meanwhile, reports of his campaign’s Russian connections continue to grow.

It shouldn’t surprise us that, in the absence of any interest in actually governing, Trump would hand off pesky details like staffing to his Vice-President. After all, when Trump Junior approached John Kasich about the Vice-Presidency, he reportedly promised Kasich he could run the country while Trump spent his time “making America great.”

If it were Kasich making the decisions, I would actually feel a lot better. Giving Mike Pence that authority is another matter. Pence is equally uninterested in the boring details of policy (ask anyone who observed his performance as Governor of Indiana), but unlike Trump, who is concerned only with himself, Pence does have an agenda–a theocratic one.

Pence is a Christian culture warrior. His priorities are outlawing abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood, taking money from public education and directing it to Christian schools (Betsy DeVos was deeply involved in Indiana’s voucher program), insuring that Christians can discriminate against LGBTQ citizens and a variety of other measures that would legally privilege fundamentalist Christianity. (He seems to have skipped over those passages in the Christian bible that counsel caring for the poor, refraining from judgment and abstaining from public prayer…like most culture warriors, his is a highly selective reading of the bible.)

So this is what voters in white, rural America have given us: an unstable child-President with mysterious ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the various oligarchs who funded his projects after American banks declined to do so, and an equally vacuous Vice President who is a True Believer intent upon imposing his crabbed version of God’s Will on the rest of us.

Worse, if we somehow got rid of both of them, we’d get Paul Ryan, whose deepest desire is to throw grandma off Medicare…..The next few years are going to be very trying….


  1. Speaking of religious zealots, the story was reported that when Bush II staffed his embassy in Bagdad after the invasion, as the insurgency was beginning, as bodies turned up daily, as confusion swept the country and the search for WMD continued, a criterion for working at the embassy was the candidate’s position on abortion.

  2. Jim,

    ” a criterion for working at the embassy was the candidate’s position on abortion.”

    It had to be. The plan was for Bill Graham’s son Frank to go Iraq and convert the Iraqis. Have we forgotten that little “tidbit” of history? It was no secret at the time.

  3. I wouldn’t be concerned with Russia or China. In fact, while King Baby was fussing over the size of crowds and reassuring the CIA, he’s smart, China took a leadership role in Davos.

    Americans are getting ready to learn that our “exceptional country” isn’t that exceptional. In fact, we have lots of problems. Yesterday, Trump froze government hiring, so guess who’s going to get contracts for rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure?

    Pence is a hypocrite and corrupt. His “Christianity” is all Ego just like Trump. Pence reworked the laws so he could take money from the mob running casinos in Indiana. I’m pretty sure “gambling away money meant for family” is a sin in the bible.

    Pence sold out to the Koch brothers agenda many years ago. Don’t forget, he was part of the Indiana Policy Review a very long time ago. He was their state policy director in the Koch funded State Policy Network.

    This network is being monitored by the George Soros funded, Center for Media & Democracy. They’ve been tracking and writing about the Koch funded, American Legislative Exchange Council. We’re talking global corporations, like Exxon Mobil, who fund the “Political Class” and then meet with them behind closed doors to underwrite policies to be implemented by our elected officials.

    Policies that enrich their interests over the interests of the people. If you want to know why we have policies which have created the greatest shift of income and wealth to the Ruling Class, look no further then ALEC. This conservative network has been built over decades to fight against the New Deal created by FDR. They’re not done. Who do you think spent a fortune on Todd Young in Indiana against Evan Bayh?

    Do you think all this political ad buying draws silence from a “media/press industry” starving for revenue?

    I laugh whenever I read accusations by CNN or WaPo on who is “fake news”. Why does it take a billionaire like Soros to fund a company to research and expose corruption between corporations and our political class?

    I thought our Fourth Estate, our 4th branch of government, served “we the people” by holding the powerful accountable within our other three branches of government. Meanwhile, isn’t our government supposed to be holding the powerful within our private sector accountable?

    Thank about it…

  4. While we are at it, the Bush’s most ingenious plan is for the Jews to kill the Jews. That is nothing original since it was the Jewish inmates who did all the dirty work at the concentration camps such as Auschwitz.

  5. When one considers the entire “team”, TrumPence Putin, the cabinet, Congress, the Supreme Court, who is negatively affected by any of the changes in law that they are naking?

    There is only one that affects all of them.

    Tax cuts.

  6. Pence is going to run the country while Trump plays king of the world. If the rest of the country wants to know what that means all they have to do is look at Indiana’s dismal rankings on all things important like education, health, and the environment. Too bad the national media spent all of last year focused on Trump; the real threat to the nation was and is Pence.

  7. Why would anyone be surprised? If you are a “grown-up,” and you are devoutly religious, then you are either mentally disabled or you are a crook. Religion is of course the perfect control mechanism for the dumb masses as it reinforces the natural authoritarian tendencies of the weak-minded. And of course the GOP could not survive without the votes of the weak minded. What we are dealing with here are crooks who have figured out how to harness the mob, to rule.

  8. On evaluating Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, one must remember the importance of Benito Mussolini’s Jewish mistress in the creation of Italian fascism. In addition, to that fact, as well as I can remember, three out of the sixteen of Mussolini’s original fascist inner circle were Jews.

    Mussolini’s harsh treatment of the Jews, which led to their deportation, came later.

  9. Nancy’s reference to an article in the Rolling Stone as of yesterday is to an article I have read and forwarded to my followers earlier today and I recommend reading it to all who read my contribution today. The clueless one masquerading as president can’t be bothered by details such as governing since that interferes with his real estate and branding businesses, so he has turned that over to Pence. The article uncovers Pence’s adherence to a 2,000 year old philosophy as his rule and guide for governing, Constitutions and other democratic institutions aside. Church and state are one, and dismantling the influence of the Fourth Estate is essential to success of this toxic marriage.

    Given such a fascist lite return to a Norman Rockwell society (which never existed), it is of little solice to remember Mark Twain’s reference to the Fourth Estate when he advised those in power never to threaten those who buy ink by the barrel. We live in dangerous times as the barrel is being punctured by incessant propaganda and the clueless one and his base are doing a good job of diverting our attention from our ongoing loss of democracy with their Carrier, tax return and where cars are assembled yak while engaged in the destruction of our democracy in the back room.

    Nothing is more important than the preservation and expansion of our democracy and we should robustly exercise our First Amendment rights to make that clear to bullies, preachers, neo-fascists and anyone else who would remove this precious asset (or what is left of it) from us that we hold in common. Nothing.

  10. They have mass media because they have wealth although never enough because more means power.

    We have social media and numbers.

  11. From Wikipedia:

    Actress Susan Sarandon portrayed [Margherita]Sarfatti in the 1999 movie Cradle Will Rock which was written and directed by Sarandon’s then longtime companion, Tim Robbins. Sarandon discussed her role, saying:

    “Margherita is someone who is a legitimate historical figure. She really existed. She really was Mussolini’s mistress and was very involved in the cultural shaping of Italy’s art movements. She was a patron of new painters in Italy. She came over to the United States to sell Mussolini to the American people, and she did that by using Hearst’s column. She wrote a column, and that was how they prepared the United States people for the concept of entering the war on the side of Mussolini, I suppose. And also she was trying to fund the war.”

    “And the complication of this was the fact that she was Jewish, and she in fact was facilitating her own crisis, which eventually would make her flee the country and live in Argentina, I believe, for a number of years before it was safe for her to go back. Whether or not she was just in complete denial or she really truly believed that there was a way to sleep with Mussolini and not be held accountable, I don’t know. But she ended up in an awkward position. She was hobnobbing with all these rich American people. I think in the context of the film, she’s somebody who has a job to do and because she loved art, she sometimes finds herself to be giving all this art away to people she feels don’t really appreciate it.”

  12. What I have never understood about the neo-Republicans, beginning here after losing Mayor Bill Hudnut, is – what is conservative about denying American citizens our civil and human rights, protected by the Constitution? How have we made such deep inroads into becoming a country ruled by religious based laws, founded on the pseudo-religious views of a few in power?

    Marv; long before Billy Graham’s son was sent to convert the Iraqis, I have questioned why missionaries have been sent to foreign counties for probably 200 years to cram their version of Christianity down the throats of entire groups of people who have no other source for information. Most were tribes and villages in third-world countries who were getting along fine with their own beliefs and culture; passing down their histories by word-of-mouth. Whose word-of-mouth do we put our faith in today?

    Americans laughed at Hillary Clinton’s book, “It Takes A Village” without knowing it’s source or that many who laughed grew up in the age when we were essentially raised by the protection of our neighbors, teachers, religious leaders and business owners. Our own small “village” setting; communes of a sort. The spread of Soviet Communism seems to have changed the definition of the word “commune” and now our president is sucking up to Russia for money and guidance…and the right to drill for oil.

    Let us not forget oil and money. Trump is talking about another possible invasion of Iraq and taking their oil; I will complete Anthony’s brief statement – “The the victors go the spoils!” Exxon has massive oil land ownership in many foreign countries; their largest oil land ownership in in Russia who refuses to allow them to drill for that oil. Trump’s sucking up to Putin and Russia beings us back to oil and follow the money.

    But doesn’t everything turn full circle; always bringing us back to follow the money?

  13. Pence’s fingerprints are all over the new administration, just as Charles Koch’s fingerprints are all over Mike Pence.

  14. JoAnn,

    Great point about missionaries. I also have wondered why we feel it necessary to “save those people from themselves”. The church leaders speak so proudly of how many people in far away lands they have converted. Sigh……

  15. As a former farmer and retired school teacher, let me say this:
    the rural counties and states are now devoid of Democrats. Indiana used to have one and it carried the southern half the state regularly.
    This is the result of two things: the Republican gerrymandering – a result from Democrats not voting in 2010, and the Democratic party ignoring places between the Cascade Mountains and the Appalachians across the North, and between the Sonoran Desert and the Atlantic Ocean across South. Now we have seen the final dominoes, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania topple.
    Having catered the the Left Coast and the Right Coast, we have omitted making any stops for ‘refueling’ in Kansas, Montana, Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Dakota, and now we wonder why we lose elections?
    Putting issues aside for a moment, look at it this way — if a candidate gives a speech in Grand Island, Nebraska, they are not speaking to the residents of a few counties. We need to learn (again) that a speech there or in Minot, North Dakota is a speech to most of the people in about 15 or 20 of the states, period. Sadly, I don’t recall hearing that Ms. Clinton visited any of those states. But, neither did Mr. Trump? He didn’t have to. they are naturally programmed to what the Republicans offer, but we have to work to get votes there, and we gave up in about 1980.
    Note: the Electoral College will never go away and it’s time we liberals ‘relearned’ how civic life works in this country — IF our country survives.

  16. Let’s not forget two things about Betsy DeVos. First, her brother, Erik Prince, is the founder of Blackwater. Second, her religion is probably more conservative than even Pence’s. She’s reported to be a follower of Christian dominionism, the extreme right-wing brand of Christianity preached by Ted Cruz’s father.

  17. By the way, did you notice the article on the front page of today’s Indy Star, about the demolition of the old RCA plant, funded in part by a grant from EPA? That’s great news for Indianapolis and a laudable accomplishment for Mayor Hogsett. But not so fast…..did you also notice the news elsewhere that all EPA grants have reportedly been frozen?

  18. Lets also not forget that that DeVos family made their fortune with Amway, which is a giant pyramid scheme/scam. So those billions are dirty billions, more so than Trump’s.

    And Amway, surprise, surprise, exists symbiotically with fundamentalist Christianity and prosperity theology. Like, they either get you in to the scheme and then try to convert you, or if you are already converted they use that to get you into the scheme.

  19. mirsm; I did read that article with much interest because I worked in the Hudnut administration when we worked so hard to bring Thomson Electronics here. I was in the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development at that time so was part of those working hard to bring them to this city. Also the United Airlines Maintenance Hub and the United States Postal Service Hub to the Indianapolis International Airport. Great additions to this city. During the Goldsmith (yes, there is that name again) administration I became disabled after 2 years, moved to Florida for 7 years; when I returned Thomson Electronics was gone along with the United Airlines Maintenance Hub (don’t remember about the USPS Hub) and the Hoosier Dome was the RCA Dome.

    Why did it take all these years to do anything; make use of or demolish, that huge steadily demolishing facility? The former Eastgate Shopping Mall is being used but looks abandoned and deteriorating – an ugly eyesore. How long with Irvington Plaza Shopping Center sit vacant and deteriorating? Too many areas of this city have these trashed areas and with the only Democrat in office being Mayor Joe Hogsett; how many will just sit along with the abandoned houses?

  20. I hear alot of comments and complaining! Try doing something instead of just shooting off your mouth. Now is the time for action not talk.

  21. As the professor says, we indeed have trying times ahead. I gave up on Christianity decades ago because I couldn’t take the Pharisees anymore, that is, the people who felt they had all the answers, and were entitled to all the power and money as well. There are nuggets of truth in the Bible, and the truest of all is “the love of money is the root of all evil.” I see the younger generations, at least those in my life, rejecting the acquisitiveness and greed, along with their rejection of religion. They own very little, are working toward living off the grid if possible. They have clear eyed visions of what the Mike Pences of this world are, they aren’t completely jaded about politics yet, but they will be eventually. Around my age, my father was very pessimistic about politics; I used to think, poor dad, he’s lost all hope. Well, I understand it now. I have very little hope that the problem of money in politics can be fixed, and I certainly doubt that I will be in my lifetime. There aren’t enough Bernie’s in the world. One Bernie isn’t enough.

  22. Here is a brief test I found via Mother Jones:
    A better approach is to focus instead on attempts to mislead. But how do you judge that? A few years ago I developed a three-part test that I use to check my immediate emotional reaction to things politicians say. I’ve found it pretty useful in practice, though it’s not perfect and it doesn’t apply to every kind of slippery statement. Here it is:

    1.) What was the speaker trying to imply? This is necessarily a judgment call, but it’s what gets us away from a single-minded focus on “lying” and instead focuses our attention on how badly a speaker is trying to mislead us.

    2.) What would it take to state things accurately? This is the most important part of the exercise. Without getting deep in the weeds (nobody expects politicians to speak in white paper-ese), what would it take to restate things reasonably accurately?

    3.) How much would accuracy damage the speaker’s point? Obviously, if accuracy dents the speaker’s point only a bit, not much harm has been done. If it demolishes the speaker’s point completely, it’s as bad as an actual lie even if you can somehow spin it as technically true.

  23. Too bad the national media, such as Rolling Stone, didn’t pay more attention to Pence and his record in Indiana before the election. All they would have had to do is visit Indiana and do a little nosing around. But I doubt that it would have made much difference in the outcome of the election anyway.

    First, Presidential elections are basically about the presidential candidates. But in this weird election, Pence was selected, I believe, by Steve Bannon and Kelly Ann “Conweasel” (a shout out to Mike from Iowa for a great name for Ms. “Alternative Facts.”) solely and only because he was a religious bigot that they could use to get the Christian Right on board — seeing as how Don-the-Con’s religious bona fides were more than a little lacking.

    Pence’s reward for aligning himself with a man with no moral, ethical, or religious principles and pretending that The Donald wasn’t a pathological liar was the power to try to force his brand of so-called “Christianity” down the throats of the entire country.

  24. “I hear alot of comments and complaining! Try doing something instead of just shooting off your mouth. Now is the time for action not talk.”

    Terry Vanhorn; you have posted comments based on your assumptions regarding several people you know nothing about. I view your comments as “alternative facts” because they are not facts but based on your opinion using faulty, untrue information. Many on the blog as commenters have been politically and socially active for many years. As members of national and local organizations we have have researched and passed on vital information; written letters to the editor, donated financially and many donated their time and physical efforts. Many on this blog marched on Saturday, have marched with protesters at other times, walked streets in cold, rain and snow to knock on doors and pass on political information and do what they can to get people registered to vote and get to the polls to vote on election days. One of the regular commenters, a senior white woman has done all of this plus works weekly with a Black church downtown providing clothes and other necessities to the homeless. People here have attended meetings, begun new organizations, supported old established organizations, posted yard signs and all voted.

    I am a former worker for the City of Indianapolis from 1972 to 1994; under all Republicans, Goldsmith drove me out, he was the beginning of the end of the true Republicans who were also humanitarians. I was an Independent voter until 2000 when the Republican party drove me out due to their private ownership and greed. I am 79 years old, deaf and disabled and have made arrangements with my daughter-in-law to borrow a wheelchair to join the next march in Indianapolis. With us will be her sister and two nieces who returned late Sunday night from marching with 500,000 men, women and children in Washington, D.C. The granddaughter of another friend went from Los Angeles to join the heart of the march in Washington, D.C., and she will be marching in Indianapolis. I have belonged to local and national political organizations and non-political national service organization for years. The Indianapolis Star has stopped publishing my letters to the editor so I make my voice “heard” on Facebook, through E-mails, signing on-line and mail-in petitions and on this vital blog. I may be physically unable to participate but, like Ralph Kramden, “I have a BIIIIIIIG Mouth!”

    What have you done?

  25. Nancy, thanks for the link to the RS article. Some of it was a review but I had no idea about the East Chicago lead poisoning there. Wow.

    And he’s a heartbeat away from Potus. OMG, we’re screwed, totally screwed. The next 100 days scare me most. the orange one making threats against Chicago because of faux spews!

    I am thinking that the women’s march of 3 million world wide is just the beginning of what is to come. Seriously if 65 million people in the states took to the streets…there is no military action that could overcome that. We outnumber them. People will die and I hope I am not in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yikes.

  26. The Park Service twitter account has been frozen by the orange one.

    Here’s a new Twitter account that is gaining 10k followers every 30 minutes or so since it was created. Check it out. Alt Nat Park Ser – the tweets are awesome!

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