“Meanwhile”–Mike Pence Version

While we are transfixed by the latest “shiny object”–the latest betrayal of long-time allies, the emergence of emails documenting the White Nationalism of the White House, Trump’s approval of war crimes, the daily evidence that our President is quite insane, and of course the Impeachment hearings–the current administration stays busy behind the scenes destroying both democratic norms and constitutional barriers.

I have previously posted about a number of these assaults–generally, they are being led by the unqualified and ethically compromised individuals currently ensconced in cabinet and other administrative positions. Recent reporting, however, locates one such offensive in the White House itself: efforts by wannabe theocrat Mike Pence to further erode the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.

As ProPublica reports

Last November, a top Trump appointee at the U.S. Agency for International Development wrote a candid email to colleagues about pressure from the White House to reroute Middle East aid to religious minorities, particularly Christian groups.

“Sometimes this decision will be made for us by the White House (see… Iraq! And, increasingly, Syria),” said Hallam Ferguson, a senior official in USAID’s Middle East bureau, in an email seen by ProPublica. “We need to stay ahead of this curve everywhere lest our interventions be dictated to us.”

The email underscored what had become a stark reality under the Trump White House. Decisions about U.S. aid are often no longer being governed by career professionals applying a rigorous review of applicants and their capabilities. Over the last two years, political pressure, particularly from the office of Vice President Mike Pence, had seeped into aid deliberations and convinced key decision-makers that unless they fell in line, their jobs could be at stake.

Some five months before this email was sent, Ferguson’s former boss had been fired. The action followed a communication from Pence’s chief of staff, in which recipients were told that Pence was “displeased” with USAID’s work in Iraq, especially the agency’s decision to turn down Christian groups for aid.

The administration’s efforts to influence USAID funding worried professionals within the agency. Not only did it risk violating First Amendment prohibitions on favoring one religion over another, but there were practical concerns: if the U.S. was perceived as favoring Christians, that perception could–indeed, it probably would– worsen Iraq’s sectarian divides.

USAID regulations state that awards “must be free from political interference or even the appearance of such interference and must be made on the basis of merit, not on the basis of the religious affiliation of a recipient organization, or lack thereof.”

Despite the clear language of the regulations, USAID recently announced two grants to Iraqi organizations that had previously been rejected. According to the Pro Publica article, political appointees, rather than professionals charged with making these determinations, “significantly impacted” the awards.

Typically, such appointees have little to no involvement in USAID grants, to avoid perceptions of undue political influence on procurement.

One of the groups selected for the newest awards has no full-time paid staff, no experience with government grants and a financial tie that would typically raise questions in an intense competition for limited funds. The second organization received its first USAID direct grant after extensive public comments by its leader and allies highlighting what they described as a lack of U.S. assistance to Christians. The two groups — a charity that primarily serves Christian Iraqis and a Catholic university — were not originally listed as front-runners, according to a document seen by ProPublica.

The remainder of the lengthy article documents the measures taken by the administration–especially Pence’s office–to change the criteria by which funds would be awarded in order to benefit Christian organizations. It also reports on Pence’s “pushback” to warnings that favoritism to Christian organizations would run afoul of both the First Amendment and agency regulations.

Just more evidence that while we are transfixed by Trump’s bizarre behaviors and ungrammatical tweets, lobbyists are running federal agencies for the benefit of their former clients, faux Christians are undermining the Constitution and distorting foreign policy, the entire administration is undermining the rule of law…

And today’s GOP is fiercely defending all of it.


  1. No one should be surprised. Pence probably is grateful that he had no chance to get the nomination for the presidency. As Veep, he can act as the “grey eminence” and as such, can do much more damage, because no one pays attention to him, thinking that all he does is shine Trump’s shoes every day. In fact, his influence is insidious.

  2. Is it the White House or the GOP which is now the newest, strongest, wealthiest Christian denomination in the United States; with it’s own school system paid for with our tax dollars? Only one book required and the vast mission field circling the globe.

    Just askin’

  3. Today’s blog corroborates much of what most of us have been saying about Republicans, Trump and Pence: They are way past being harmful to the nation and the Constitution. They are a existential threat to democracy around the world. I’m reading Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here”. How did he know? He wrote the book in 1936! His fears are being realized today…and for the same reasons: THE PUBLIC AND THE ELECTORATE DIDN’T CARE ENOUGH TO KEEP THEIR REPUBLIC.

    Insidious corruption, greed and power mongering is inherent in the natural chaos of scrabbling for food and resources. When very large societies allow this caveman instincts rule those societies, we get fascism writ large and capitalism run amok, thus exacerbating the loss of individual freedoms, societal order and the rule of law.

    Trump will not be convicted by the corrupt and mindless Senate because of the corrupt and mindless Republicans led by the most corrupt legislator in our history, Mitch McConnell and the fools who voted for him. That said, the real concern will be that once Trump is acquitted, he will suspend the Constitution and the November elections. That should finish us off and let the Russians finish coopting our ability to govern ourselves.

    Well don, voters: the 62 million whining bitches who voted for Trump and the 92 million slugs who stayed home and allowed this travesty to occur. You all must be so proud of yourselves.

  4. “Trump will not be convicted by the corrupt and mindless Senate because of the corrupt and mindless Republicans led by the most corrupt legislator in our history, Mitch McConnell and the fools who voted for him.”

    Vernon; as a retired teacher and if you watched the hearings, did you recognize it was a political English lesson in action. The Republicans dealt totally in past tense on all issues while Democrats remained in present tense and warned of the future tense dangers if Trump is acquitted. There are many lessons to be learned from the past two weeks; maintaining the status quo will result in evangelical rule. Trump’s quid pro quo, if deemed acceptable by the government, will bring to an end e pluribus, unum as the foundation of this country.

  5. It seems to me that the current (let’s hope temporary) Vice President should change his last name from Pence to Faust! I would really be hard pressed to think of a better example of someone selling their soul to the devil than Mike Pence.

  6. thanks Gordon, im saving a file on the LuLa,Morales coup stuff. just for study, and see the path each is taking and whos involved..keep the journalism alive with such stories many time hidden from mainstream..pass em on…
    with studies like this,we have the signatures of who,and where decisions are made,and who signs off on them..when we vote november,we have a tally and point to make prior to election season,to question this story,those who sought to influence where,and when,now we want to know why? a public forum of every canidate is needed,from everyday people,who can ask this question,and get a public statement why. if the canidates will not stand on forum to their constituents, vote em out,obviously they have their own agenda,and the people be damned.

  7. JoAnn,

    I did indeed notice that. In fact, whenever I read and/or enter into a discussion with a Republican about the current events, the Republican starts in with the “Yeah buts…” They circle back to the Clinton e-mails, George Soros and, of course, Barack Obama’s abject failure as a President.

    Republicans are like the three sensory deprived monkeys right now, because they know they are criminals awaiting trial. So, as almost all criminals do, they deflect, obstruct, bully, intimidate and lie. Sound familiar? Oh. Yes. This is Donald Trump’s and his posse’s modus operandi. We clearly have a criminal enterprise in the White House and the Republican party is enabling it, thus making the accessories to ALL the crimes being committed by the Trump administration.

    Not the least of those crimes is the dismantling of the EPA and its ability to police polluters. These bastards simply don’t care about poisoning the environment…and the body politic at the same time. All these things are found in the writings of Karl Marx and Sinclair Lewis. They could see it coming…..and here it is. Donald Trump is the madman they predicted.


    If you only RANT….after the election you can no longer talk about or complain about politics.

  9. Vernon on the spot, criminal,enterprise..if pence is made chief, then what? new impeachment? seems the demos have alot on the plate,whereas they need time to reach their constituents now. election is looming, but many articles of law, and holding office, tells theres a game plan by the conservitives(last century republicans) to hold office even if elections boot them out. the courts,where will they stand,and what if we hit the streets, and find a morales type military shutdown? im not suprise this would even be a question, but as i see corporate america take sides, money may win…corporate board room decisions on capital hill,and democracy is kicked to the curb….

  10. One of the items of entertainment media faith that perhaps one or two authoritarians will wake up to now is that the administrative state is not the den of incompetence and corruption that Bannon and company portrayed. In fact it is Bannon’s solution, Trump and co, who have been trying to force them astray now through the application of pure power contrary to our rule of law.

    Even I, a committed liberal believer in the capability of self government, am impressed by the quality of the personal being paraded through the Capitol in an effort to discern the truth and the facts.

    In a perfect world this would be the decisive end to the drugs of deception paid for by would be oligarchs that have poisoned the minds of so many Americans desperate to have their biases confirmed by advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing.

  11. The USA has long targeted Evo Morales President of Bolivia for years. Morales was a champion of the indigenous population, and a leftist, who in a nutshell resisted foreign Imperialism and was not shy about condemning it.

    Even though he was recently re-elected there were charges of election irregularities. Side Bar – as if we in the USA do not have election “irregularities” – Think gerrymandering, voter suppression, purging of voter roles, etc.

    The USA immediately approved the military coup against Morales and he was forced to flee to Mexico.

    Before the coup, Evo attempted to nationalize its large lithium reserves, an element necessary for electric cars. Since the coup, Tesla’s stocks have skyrocketed.

    Now here is where the Pastor Pence influence toxicity seeps in:
    His replacement, Jeanine Añez Chávez, “I dream of a Bolivia free of satanic indigenous rites,” the opposition senator tweeted in 2013, “the city is not for the Indians who should stay in the highlands or the Chaco!!!”

    Chavez declared herself interim president while holding up a large bible, though she failed to get the required quorum in the senate to do so. Next to her stood Luis Fernando Camacho, a member of the Christian far-right. After Evo’s resignation, Camacho stormed the presidential palace, a flag in one hand and a bible in the other. “The bible is returning to the government palace,” a pastor said on a video while standing next to Camacho. “Pachamama will never return. Today Christ is returning to the Government Palace. Bolivia is for Christ.”

    FYI > Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. She is also known as the earth/time mother.

    Unlike Luis Fernando Camacho, who stormed the presidential palace, a flag in one hand and a bible in the other in Bolivia, Pastor Pence and Betsy DeVos are already there in the White House.

  12. So, Lindsey Graham says he’s going to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, after, he swore he wasn’t interested in doing that a couple of months ago. If this was such a big issue, why didn’t Republicans launch an investigation when they had control of both houses of Congress? How would someone who considers himself a friend to Joe Biden, do something like this? Pressure from the religious right and Trump which are interlocked, that’s why! It’s the Hillary Clinton redo! They are one trick pony, they don’t have truth and ethics on their side, so they fall back on their tried-and-true chicanery.

    So, the religious right, supports criminal behavior, treachery against neighbors, endorses coveting your neighbor’s wife, gives a thumbs up to adulterous activity, supports misogyny, and completely disregards the separation of church and state in our Constitution! You know, the Constitution that Donald Trump wrote, LOL!

    In all seriousness, it looks like because of this religious interference, the backlash is going to be severe. I would be surprised if Donald Trump is removed from office by impeachment, I wouldn’t be surprised if he loses the election. Will he leave office if he loses? There very realistically could be a bloodletting. After that though, I would believe that most religious activities and affiliations will be banned, that in itself is going to create an extremely tumultuous time.

  13. Pence is certainly obeying the “Go ye into all the world” scriptural mandate, but with our money and, by extension, our approval of one religious grouping over another, as though non-Christians and/or political dissidents don’t need food, clothing and shelter. We the taxpayers are thus rendered unknowing contributors to a secular collection plate for a specific population, which is at odds with regulations designed to benefit one and all of such population.

    One has to wonder how the likes of Pence would like it if politicians overruled those charged with administration of such programs and made such aid available only to Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Jews for Jesus, tree-worshipers et al. (?) As I inquired recently in another context, Pitchforks, anybody?

  14. When Mike Pence was Governor (and Mitch Daniels too), the continual command was that government funds for anything had to be merit based.

    If Christian groups were not receiving funds, it was because their proposals didn’t meet standards in one or more areas. For instance, if they didn’t have staff to properly account for, spend, and implement their proposals while other organizations did, the Christian groups would lose out to better managed groups. If V.P. Pence had to put his thumb on the scales for Christian groups, that is evidence that their proposals had shortcomings. Unfortunately, this is an invitation to fraud. Now that the word is out on how ‘merit’ is determined, charlatans will come out of the woodwork labeling themselves as Christians and seeking government money. It appears the career government folks who uncover the chicanery will be over-ruled.

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