Mike Pence: You May Think He’s Preferable to Trump

But maybe you need to think again about that. A while back – okay, in October, The Curmudgeon has fallen behind in his reading again – The New Yorker published a long piece about vice president Mike Pence. Today, The Curmudgeon shares especially…interesting things about Pence. And offers a few comments. Tomorrow he focuses just on Pence’s relationship with Trump as reported by The New Yorker.

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[Paul] Weyrich condemned homosexuality, feminism, abortion, and government-imposed racial integration, and he partnered with some controversial figures, including Laszlo Pasztor, a former member of a pro-Nazi party in Hungary. When Weyrich died, in 2008, Pence praised him as a “friend and mentor” and a “founding father of the modern conservative movement,” from whom he had “benefitted immeasurably.”

 Isn’t this comforting?

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Never fear: there were other people present

…as Rolling Stone reported in January, he referred to her [his wife] in front of guests as “Mother.” Pence’s office has disputed the account, but a former Indiana Democratic Party official told me, “I’ve heard him call her Mother myself.” Pence also began observing what’s known as the Billy Graham rule, meaning that he never dined alone with another woman, or attended an event in mixed company where alcohol was served unless his wife was present. Critics have argued that this approach reduces women to sexual temptresses and precludes men from working with women on an equal basis.

Good lord.

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In 1990, Pence tried and failed again to unseat Sharp, waging a campaign that is remembered as especially nasty. One ad featured an actor dressed in Middle Eastern garb and sunglasses, who accused Sharp, falsely, of being a tool of Arab oil interests. But Pence’s campaign foundered after the press revealed that he had used donations toward personal expenses, such as his mortgage and groceries…

Great: another guy skimming off the top of the campaign donations.

The following year, Mike Pence wrote an essay, carried by local newspapers, titled “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner,” in which he said, “A campaign ought to demonstrate the basic human decency of the candidate.” He admitted to reporters that he had violated this standard, and said that he had no “interest in running for elected office in the foreseeable future,” but added that if he ever did he would not wage a negative campaign. “I think he realized he’d besmirched himself,” Sharp told me. “He comes across as Midwestern nice, but it was mean and shallow.”

Based on the 2016 campaign, it appears that Pence has gotten over his desire to pursue “basic human decency.”

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Cecil Bohanon, one of two adjunct scholars at Pence’s think tank, had a history of financial ties to tobacco-company front groups, and in 2000 Pence echoed industry talking points in an essay that argued, “Smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, two out of every three smokers doesn’t die from a smoking-related illness.”

 Think about that for a minute: his position in support of the tobacco industry is that it only kills one-third of its customers.

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 Even as Pence argued for less government interference in business, he pushed for policies that intruded on people’s private lives. In the early nineties, he joined the board of the Indiana Family Institute, a far-right group that supported the criminalization of abortion and campaigned against equal rights for homosexuals. And, while Pence ran the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, it published an essay arguing that unmarried women should be denied access to birth control.

 Say whaaaat?

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 In 2000, when a Republican congressman in northern Indiana vacated his seat, Pence ran as the Party favorite, on a platform that included a promise to oppose “any effort to recognize homosexuals as a discrete and insular minority entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.”

Because if he’s going to have to put up with those damn homos he certainly isn’t interested in protecting them.

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 Pence served twelve years in Congress, but never authored a single successful bill. His sights, according to Leppert, were always “on the national ticket.”

 Just what the country needed: another do-nothing congressman.

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 In 2011, he made the evening news by threatening to shut down the federal government unless it defunded Planned Parenthood. Some Hoosiers were unnerved to see footage of Pence standing amid rowdy protesters at a Tea Party rally and yelling, “Shut it down!”

Seriously?

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Pence became best known for fiercely opposing abortion. He backed “personhood” legislation that would ban it under all circumstances, including rape and incest, unless a woman’s life was at stake. He sponsored an unsuccessful amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have made it legal for government-funded hospitals to turn away a dying woman who needed an abortion.

So he’s in favor of hospitals turning away dying patients?

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 Pence, who had called global warming “a myth” created by environmentalists in their “latest Chicken Little attempt to raise taxes,” took up the Kochs’ cause. He not only signed their pledge but urged others to do so as well. He gave speeches denouncing the cap-and-trade bill—which passed the House but got held up in the Senate—as a “declaration of war on the Midwest.”

Great, another science-denier.

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 Pence’s tenure as governor nearly destroyed his political career. He had promised Oesterle and other members of the state’s Republican business establishment that he would continue in the path of his predecessor, Mitch Daniels, a well-liked fiscal conservative who had called for a “truce” on divisive social issues. “Pence was very accommodating,” Oesterle said. But after he was elected he began taking controversial far-right stands that, critics believed, were geared more toward building his national profile than toward serving Indiana voters.

Because being a demagogue on divisive social issues is a whole lot easier than rolling up your sleeves and getting down to the hard business of governing – especially for a guy who had even less interest in governing that he had success when he tried.

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 At the last minute, he killed an application for an eighty-million-dollar federal grant to start a statewide preschool program. Education officials in Pence’s own administration favored the grant, but conservative opponents of secular public education had complained. When reporters asked Pence about his decision, he said only that the federal government had attached “too many strings.” But, as Matthew Tully, a columnist at the Indianapolis Star, wrote, “he could not name one.”

Nothing like being tripped up on your own deceptive and misguided rhetoric.

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In the spring of 2015, Pence signed a bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which he presented as innocuous. “He said it protected religious freedom, and who’s against that?” Oesterle recalled. But then a photograph of the closed signing session surfaced. It showed Pence surrounded by monks and nuns, along with three of the most virulently anti-gay activists in the state. The image went viral. Indiana residents began examining the law more closely, and discovered that it essentially legalized discrimination against homosexuals by businesses in the state.

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The outcry over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was enormous. Gay-rights groups condemned the bill and urged boycotts of the state. Pete Buttigieg, the young gay mayor of South Bend, who is a rising figure in the Democratic Party, told me that he tried to talk to Pence about the legislation, which he felt would cause major economic damage to Indiana. “But he got this look in his eye,” Buttigieg recalled. “He just inhabits a different reality. It’s very difficult for him to lay aside the social agenda. He’s a zealot.”

In an effort to quell criticism, Pence consented, against the advice of his staff, to be interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on his Sunday-morning show on ABC. Stephanopoulos asked him five times if it was now legal in Indiana for businesses to discriminate against homosexuals, and each time Pence was evasive. Pence also sidestepped when Stephanopoulos asked him if he personally supported discrimination against gays.

So is the message here “dumb guy” or “bad guy”?

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As governor, he proclaimed his opposition to any expansion of the gaming industry, but, though the state had banned political contributions from casino operators, cash had flowed generously to him from such sources, through indirect paths. The state’s gaming companies, including Centaur, routed donations to “soft money” groups like the Republican Governors Association, which then transferred the money to Pence and other candidates. Pence, meanwhile, used executive orders to quietly grant several of the gambling industry’s wishes, such as allowing riverboat casinos to expand onshore.

Just because you’re against something doesn’t mean you can’t try to benefit from it, too, right?

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Just another day at the office

In 2002, he declared that “educators around America must teach evolution not as fact but as theory,” alongside such theories as intelligent design, which argues that life on Earth is too complex to have emerged through random mutation. Pence has described intelligent design as the only “remotely rational explanation for the known universe.”

 Again with denying science. Pence is a man for the times – only those times were the 1850s.

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 At the White House, Pence has been hosting a Bible-study group for Cabinet officers, led by an evangelical pastor named Ralph Drollinger. In 2004, Drollinger, whose organization, Capitol Ministries, specializes in proselytizing to elected officials, stirred protests from female legislators in California, where he was then preaching, after he wrote, “Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.” Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion,” calls homosexuality “a sin,” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband.

 It’s amazing that Pence would sponsor this kind of ignorance at the very highest level of the federal government.

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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, who has accused the Kochs of buying undue influence, particularly on environmental policy—Koch Industries has a long history of pollution—is less enthusiastic about their alliance with Pence. “If Pence were to become President for any reason, the government would be run by the Koch brothers—period. He’s been their tool for years,” he said. Bannon is equally alarmed at the prospect of a Pence Presidency. He told me, “I’m concerned he’d be a President that the Kochs would own.”

Well that’s certainly comforting.

This guy is certainly a piece of work, isn’t he?

Tomorrow, a look at Pence’s relationship with the man who is the constant object of his adoring gaze.

Puns

Puns remind The Curmudgeon of the old tv commercials for Slim Jims: people seem to love them or hate them.

The Curmudgeon loves them and tries never to miss an opportunity to use one. His philosophy: the bigger the groan you elicit, the better the pun.

Mrs. Curmudgeon appears to like them. The qualifier “appears” appears because he has this nagging sense that there are times when she’s just humoring him. The Curmudgeon’s stepson? Not so much. When The Curmudgeon offers a pun, J’s reaction is simply to utter “Please stop.”

Well, as the late Ricky Nelson told us in his song “Garden Party,”

But it’s all right now,

I learned my lesson well.

You see, ya can’t please everyone,

so ya got to please yourself

Which, on the other hand, may go a long way toward explaining why it took The Curmudgeon 59 years to marry.

Recently The Curmudgeon was delighted to see a brief discussion of puns in a New Yorker book review of a new novel by the Scottish writer Ali Smith, who through this review earned her way onto his lengthy and growing you-need-to-read-something-by-this-person list.

For your entertainment and maybe even enlightenment, that commentary about puns:

If you are tired of puns, are you tired of life? Puns are easy to disdain. They are essentially found, not made; discovered after the fact rather than intended before it. Puns are accidental echoes, random likenesses thrown out by our lexical cosmos. They lurk, pallidly hibernating, inside fortune cookies and Christmas crackers; the groan is the pun’s appropriate unit of appreciation. On the other hand, everyone secretly loves a pun, and, wonderfully, the worst are often as funny as the best, as the great punster Nabokov knew, because the genre is so democratically debased. Puns are part of the careless abundance of creation, the delicious surplus of life, and, therefore, fundamentally joyful. Being accidental, they are like free money—nature’s charity. There’s a reason that the most abundant writer in the language was so abundant in puns: words, like Bottom’s dream, are bottomless.

And the reviewer offered a sample of Ms. Smith’s work:

She shifts on the substandard bed. The substandard bed creaks loudly. After the creak she can hear the silence in the rest of the house. They are all asleep. Nobody knows she is awake. Nobody is any the wiser. Any the wiser sounds like a character from ancient history. Astrid in the year 1003 BC (Before Celebrity) goes to the woods where Any the Wiser, who is really royalty and a king but who has unexpectedly chosen to be a Nobody and to live the simple life, lives in a hut, no, a cave, and answers the questions that the people of the commonweal come from miles around to ask him (most probably a him since if it was a her she’d have to be in a convent or burnt).

Sold! The Curmudgeon immediately went to the Free Library of Philadelphia’s e-book web site to reserve one of her novels.

The Kind of People Who Are Running Our Government These Days

Along with the stench the Trump family brought to Washington came a trailing stench that is being smelled in the far reaches of government.

Whether it’s the EPA secretary who thinks his job is to protect the environment from clean-up efforts or the son in-law who is profoundly ethics-challenged to the attorney general who’s a throwback to the 1950s or the head of the Centers for Disease Control who buys stocks in tobacco companies or the communications director who lasted a week because of an extraordinary string of lapses of judgment or the press secretary who lied through his teeth or the treasury secretary whose wife lorded her wealth over her husband’s detractors or the health and human services secretary who thought holding high office meant never having to fly commercial again or the national security advisor who lied to the vice president about potentially illegal actions to the senior advisor who went on television and told people to buy products being sold by the president’s daughter, this administration is rife with people who consistently exercise incredibly flawed judgment and just plain bad thinking – if, in fact, they’re actually thinking at all.

Let us add to this list the name of Carl Higbie, former chief of external affairs for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs the AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps, it should be noted, describes itself as “…a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects over 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet community needs in education, the environment, public safety, health, and homeland security. AmeriCorps’ members serve with more than 2,000 non-profits, public agencies, and community organizations.”

In other words, AmeriCorps is the good guys.

But somehow, a really bad guy got himself a job fairly high up in the good guys AmeriCorps organization because, well, because what most people think of as “good guys” and what the Trump people think of as “good guys” are very different things.

Here’s a taste of Mr. Higbie, as reported by the Washington Post.

Not exactly one of the “best and brightest”

In 2013, he spoke about giving away free firewood while working in Virginia Beach on “Sound of Freedom,” an Internet talk radio show that he hosted, according to CNN. Higbie said that black women think “breeding is a form of government employment,” that blacks were “lax of morality,” and that culture “is breeding this welfare and the high percentage of people on welfare in the black race.”

On another talk show in 2013, he expressed dislike for the term “African Americans.”

 “The whole African American thing gets me whipped up because it’s like 99 percent — and I’m paraphrasing here — of people who write down African American have never been to Africa,” he said.

He also spoke disparagingly of Islam, saying that he didn’t like Muslims “because their ideology sucks,” and that he was fine if his views caused him to be labeled a racist.

 “I just don’t like Muslim people. People always rip me a new one for that. ‘Carl, you’re racist, you can’t, you’re sexist.’ I’m like Jesus Christ,” Higbie said on “Sound of Freedom” in 2013.

 On another podcast, Warrior Talk Radio, in 2014, according to CNN, he struck a similar chord.

 “I was called an Islamophobe, and I was like, ‘no, no, no, no, no, I’m not afraid of them. I don’t like them. Big difference,’ ” he said on the show. “And they were like, ‘Well, you’re racist.’ I was like, fine if that’s the definition of it, then I guess I am.’”

This is not the first round of controversy for Higbie, who worked as the spokesman for pro-Trump super PAC Great America before the 2016 election. During an appearance on Fox News shortly after the election, he cited Japanese internment camps during World War II as a “precedent” for some of the president’s potential immigration plans, and the remarks drew wide condemnation.

Higbie resigned when this information became known outside the circle of people who put him in this job, but how a guy like this wound up in an organization like AmeriCorps, which exists to help people in need, The Curmudgeon will never understand.

Well, that’s not quite true: unfortunately, The Curmudgeon DOES understand – and so do you.

 

Starbucks

As The Curmudgeon and Mrs. Curmudgeon were walking Sable – that’s the dog, not the stepson – at around 10:00 last Friday night The Curmudgeon felt the first stirs of nature calling.

Maybe it was in sympathy with all of the responding to that call that Sable was doing.

Less than a minute after that first stir the threesome coincidentally walked past the local Starbucks, still bustling despite the hour, and it was all The Curmudgeon could do to restrain himself from throwing open the front door and asking

Hey, may I use your bathroom? Don’t worry, I’m white.

The Most Serious Data Breach Ever

The number of people affected may be modest but the latest data breach, affecting customers of Panera Bread, may be the most serious such incident ever.

This particular failure of corporate America to show even a modicum of respect for its customers apparently affected only people who order food online through Panera’s customer loyalty program, called MyPanera.

No, hackers apparently didn’t get access to customers’ credit card information but they DID get access to the specific food orders they placed through MyPanera.

How much would you pay to prevent people you respect from learning that you eat this kind of crap?

Harmless? Hardly. Think about the potential for blackmail: how much would you pay to prevent a blackmailer from telling your friends and loved ones that you ordered one of those weird Panera sandwiches:  you know, like teriyaki tofu with sprouts and kale with sriracha garlic aioli on a gluten-free ciabatta roll with a side of fermented mung beans and heirloom tomato-infused green iced tea?

Flying Under the Radar – But Probably Not for Long

You may not have noticed during all the tumult surrounding the FBI raid of the office of President Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, but the person overseeing the Cohen legal proceedings is federal judge Kimba Wood.

Judge Wood

And if you’re old enough – sorry, (some) readers – and this name makes you pause for a moment and think “Hey, haven’t I heard that name before?,” then you’ve been paying attention to public affairs for a long time.

We’ve encountered Judge Wood before, but not as a judge. In 1993, newly elected president Bill Clinton nominated Wood, then a federal judge, to be his attorney general but withdrew the nomination when it was revealed that Wood had hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Unlike Clinton’s first choice for the job, Zoe Baird, who employed an illegal immigrant as nanny when it was against the law to employ illegal immigrants and also had not paid her illegal employee’s social security taxes, Wood had paid all of the appropriate payroll taxes for her nanny and had employed her before it was illegal to employ an illegal immigrant. Trying to explain the distinction to a public that wasn’t interested in hearing anything from people who could afford to employ nannies was too complicated and too much trouble for a new administration that had already swung and missed once so Clinton withdrew the nomination and appointed Janet Reno instead. Wood remained on the federal bench and returns now to the spotlight with her assignment to oversee the Cohen proceedings.

Keeping in mind how Agent Orange once criticized a U.S.-born judge of Mexican ancestry as someone who couldn’t impartially hear a case on an immigration-related issue, how long do you think it will be before Trump insists that as a former Clinton nominee, Kimba Wood can’t possibly be impartial in the Cohen matter?

And what kind of tortured logic do you think he’ll attempt when it’s pointed out to him that Wood was appointed to the bench by…

Ronald Reagan?

The Answer is Obvious

The headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer posed a question for which it suggested the article below it had an answer:

“John Boehner was a longtime opponent of marijuana reform. Here’s what changed his mind”

Boehner, you will recall, is the original Agent Orange: the former Speaker of the House whose strange orange skin tone both alarmed and amused.

As Speaker, Boehner opposed the legalization of marijuana, writing to a constituent in 2011 that

I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug.  I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”

 And he reiterated that opposition publicly as recently as 2015.

 But last week came news that Boehner, no longer Speaker of the House, has changed his mind because

I have concluded descheduling the drug is needed so that we can do research and allow the VA to offer it as a treatment option in the fight against the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our communities.

Not-so-coincidentally, Boehner was recently appointed to the board of a company called Acreage Holdings. The following is how Acreage Holdings describes itself on its web site:

Founded in 2014, Acreage Holdings (formerly known as High Street Capital Partners) has the most diverse portfolio of any company in the American cannabis industry, with cultivation, processing and dispensing operations across 11 states with plans to expand.

 Acreage has fostered strong partnerships with regulators, physicians and medical researchers with the aim of setting a new standard for the industry. As legislation and regulations evolve, Acreage is poised to build on its leadership position by expanding its footprint and capabilities in bringing safe, dosable and affordable cannabis to the market.

So it appears that we now have the answer to the question of what changed John Boehner’s mind about marijuana reform.

Money. Boehner’s principles apparently were for sale and Acreage Holdings paid his price.

Congratulations, Mr. Speaker.

A Great Way to Put It

Many thanks to sister in-law Martha, who put together on her Facebook page the following three tweets by Donald Trump in 2012 and 2013…

and titled them…

Operation Desert Stormy.

The Trump Watch (mid-April 2018)

Pants on Fire

We know Trump lies to us, lies to Congress, even – maybe especially – lies to his wife, but recently we learned that he lies to the leaders of other countries as well, as the Washington Post reported.

President Trump boasted in a fundraising speech Wednesday that he made up information in a meeting with the leader of a top U.S. ally, saying he insisted to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the United States runs a trade deficit with its neighbor to the north without knowing whether that was the case.

Trump was wrong, of course.

If he’s going to lie – even to one of our closest allies – and then he’s going to reveal publicly that he’s lying, why should the leader of any other country believe a word he says? And doesn’t that hurt the country Trump’s supposed to be leading?

“Would I lie to you?”

Another Lie

Trump recently told a rally in Pennsylvania that he won the women’s vote in his campaign; he said 52 percent of the women who voted picked him.

Okay, that number is off by a little: it was actually 41 percent, which is not only 20 percent lower but also means he didn’t actually win the women’s vote after all.

McMaster Drove Him Crazy

“it’s not like McMaster talks about anything important.”

Kim Jong-Trump and now-deposed national security advisor H.R. McMaster apparently were not a good match from the start but we’ve now learned about one of the things about McMaster that bothered Trump the most: McMaster’s meticulous attention to detail. Whenever they sat down to discuss a policy or a problem or a new way of doing something, McMaster would come armed with a PowerPoint presentation that laid out all of the options and explained the pros and cons of the various choices in great detail.

Which is pretty much what you’d expect of any national security advisor and especially from one who has spent his life in the military.

Trump hated it. He doesn’t want information, doesn’t want to know the details. He just wants to make quick decisions based on his instincts – instincts informed by virtually no knowledge or understanding of the issues at hand. So of course McMaster drove him crazy because professionalism drives him crazy and so of course McMaster had to go.

And replaced by John Bolton, the guy who gets practically orgasmic at the thought of the U.S. attacking North Korea.

Speaking of Bolton…

We now know that as far back as December of 2016 Trump was interested in appointing Bolton secretary of state but decided against it because…he didn’t like Bolton’s mustache.

Seriously.

Firing By Tweet

Agent Orange’s practice of firing people by tweet is appalling. It’s gutless and classless and just plain rude, especially when the people he’s firing, The Curmudgeon’s disdain for most of them notwithstanding, are people of accomplishment and distinction and deserve better.

Everyone deserves better. Remember when he sent his bodyguard to California to give James Comey a letter firing him and then was angry that the FBI let Comey fly back to Washington on the government plane that took him to the west coast?

Also deplorable is the manner in which Trump treats people when he’s getting ready to fire them – as the Washington Post found a source to explain:

“What’s befallen Shulkin is a favorite tactic of Trump’s, who followed a similar approach with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and, to a lesser degree, national security adviser H.R. McMaster,” they continue. “The president emasculates those who fall from favor, humiliating them through media leaks and in disparaging comments to friends. The mixed signals often leave even senior White House officials guessing who will be fired and when.”

Non-Disclosure Agreements

Published reports suggest that Agent Orange has required some of his senior staff members to sign non-disclosure agreements that could cost them as much as $10 million – for every violation.

That’s unacceptable. We may have no right to the inside scoop on operations in the Trump Organization but this is the White House and the federal government and that’s the people’s government, not the Trump Organization government. Books about public service, books about people who work in government, and the ability of people of conscience to express their concerns to the press, either confidentially or for attribution, are absolutely essential to our very form of government.

The Curmudgeon suspects that such non-disclosure agreements would not stand up in court, but that may not even matter if the people who signed them are too intimidated to challenge them.

And if that’s the case, we’re all worse for it.

The Caravan

We know that about 1500 Nicaraguans crossed their country’s border together into Mexico, fleeing violence at home. They were bound for the U.S., the president told us.

Actually, many of them were bound for Mexico, not the U.S. That’s not a surprise: border crossings from Mexico into the U.S. are reportedly at a 45-year low.

But that caravan, he told us, was dangerous: Trump insisted that women on the caravan “…are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.”

Only it’s not true. With all of the information sources at his disposal, Trump relied on a newspaper report – and promptly misinterpreted it. It said absolutely nothing about rapes within the caravan. In fact, NBC news reports about “… one woman who praised the men in the caravan for protecting her, noting that it “has begun to feel a little like a family.”

So once again, he made up fake facts to support the story he wanted to tell rather than the story of what actually happened.

Vote Fraud – Again

Never one to abandon a good lie even after it’s been debunked, Kim Jong-Trump continues to insist that millions of votes were cast illegally, most of them against him, in the 2016 election.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, he doubled down on his lies to a Virginia audience.

In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that,” he told the crowd. “They always like to say, ‘Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.

Of course there’s never been a whiff of proof that this is true. In fact, Trump appointed a special commission to look into vote fraud in the 2016 election and that commission found nothing and disbanded.

But it’s a great way to get a sympathetic crowd going and he’ll no doubt continue using it.

Bad Faith

Republicans and Democrats worked together through an agonizing process to craft a makeshift budget to take the federal government through the rest of the current fiscal year and to set spending levels for the year after that as well. There was a lot of give and take, a lot of compromises by both sides, and both sides had victories they could show their supporters and promises on which they failed to deliver. The final product is a hot mess that pleases no one but got the job done.

But just a few weeks after it passed, Agent Orange decided that he wants to cut spending some more as soon as possible.

To their credit, even a lot of Republicans are telling him his idea is a non-starter and that if they go back on their word just weeks after they gave it, they’ll never be able to negotiate with Democrats again because those Democrats would never have any reason to believe them about anything.

But Trump doesn’t understand that kind of thing, doesn’t understand integrity, doesn’t understand the importance of keeping one’s word.

Using the Presidency to Promote His Businesses

How does a president make a golf tournament all about him?

Trust Agent Orange to find a way.

When Patrick Reed won the Masters golf tournament, Trump tweeted his congratulations:

Congratulations to Patrick Reed on his great and courageous MASTERS win! When Patrick had his amazing win at Doral 5 years ago, people saw his great talent, and a bright future ahead. Now he is the Masters Champion!

 That’s nice, right? It’s arguably the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, the golf equivalent of the Super Bowl, and the president congratulated him. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Well, a closer look finds that the Masters was Reed’s sixth golf tournament victory, so why did the president mention only one of his other five?

Because the Doral tournament Reed won five years ago about which the president tweeted is actually called the Trump National Doral and it’s played on a Trump course in Florida.

The guy never misses an opportunity to use his office to promote his own business interests.

The Seven Deadly Sins

The seven deadly sins, we’re told, are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. When it comes to these standards, Agent Orange is a real achiever. His pride, we’re told, is off the charts. Greed we all know about. Lust? Ask Stormy Daniels and the others. Envy? He’s always been envious of anyone who has more money than he does. Wrath: we’ve certainly seen it, the adult version of a two-year-old’s temper tantrum.

But you wouldn’t suspect sloth. After all, he’s an enterprising guy who appears to have worked pretty damn hard to make money, build his reputation (such as it is), and then, late in life, enter politics and get elected president. But we’re hearing that he’s sort of resting on his laurels now, as many people his age do, and last week Vanity Fair wrote about a guy who’s apparently incredibly lazy.

This past weekend, we saw yet another report, this time from Jonathan Swan at Axios, on how little time Donald Trump spends at the office. Swan reports that Trump is spending about seven hours a day in the West Wing, much of it watching TV in the dining room, then taking off for home to watch more TV. This is consistent with other reports suggesting that Trump’s schedule consists largely of coming into the office to scream at people for seven hours and then going home to tear through cheeseburgers and scream at Fox. Even before the feds raided Trump’s lawyer, the president, according to The New York Times, spent his weekend “engaged in few activities other than dinner at the Trump International Hotel.” Policy discussions seem to be so difficult that the president now gets doses of “Policy Time” once or twice a day. Trump has bowed out of a Summit of the Americas trip, sending Mike Pence in his place, so that Trump can focus on Syria, except that Pence seems to be taking the lead on that, too.

 Even worse is what he does with all that free time.

Unstructured time seems to be incubating his biggest outbursts of rage, and those have mostly negative policy consequences. This week, he has been taunting Russia with promises to launch missiles at Syria. His sounding board on whether to indulge in such rhetoric is John Bolton, whose judgment on obnoxiousness is best compared to Caligula’s judgment on kink.

And then there’s all that tweeting. Aside from how ridiculous so many of his tweets are, don’t you find yourself wondering “Doesn’t this guy have anything better to do with his time?”

Actually, it’s sort of like…blogging. (Gulp!)

The Michael Wolff Book

The Curmudgeon has just finished Michael Woolf’s behind-the-scenes look at the Trump administration (Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House) and all he can say is that if you choose to believe even 25 percent of this book you’ll realize that it’s all far, far, far worse than you ever imagined. If you haven’t already read it, try to find a copy (The Curmudgeon got his from the Free Library of Philadelphia).

The Word of the Day

The word of the day is “kakistocracy,” a 730 SAT word that leaped into the public consciousness on Friday when former CIA director John Brennan tweeted the following message to President Trump:

our kakistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey. As the greatest Nation history has known, we have the opportunity to emerge from this nightmare stronger & more committed to ensuring a better life for all Americans, including those you have so tragically deceived.

For those of us unfamiliar with this nearly 400-year-old word – and The Curmudgeon was among them until Friday – the Oxford English Dictionary tells us that kakistocracy means “government by the least suitable or competent citizens of a state” or “a state or society governed by its least suitable or competent citizens.”

Mr. Brennan: well-done, sir!