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Pence the Bold breaks his silence to praise Limbaugh, his mentor in life

Peter Eisner

Let us take a moment to consider the case of Michael Richard Pence, the former vice president of the United States, who dropped from view after the inauguration of President Joe Biden. As the new president began to repair the desolate landscape left behind, as Congress considered impeaching the former president’s incitement to riot on January 6, Pence was not to be seen. Some humanists even thought that Pence, somewhat rehabilitated by simply performing his ceremonial duty on January 6 after the murderous mob receded, would stand up and criticize The Big Lie.

But we heard nothing – Pence did not decry the actions of the man whose supporters would have hanged him outside Congress. Pence did not volunteer a word in support of democracy. It was said that he was couch hopping around Indiana, not ready to take permanent residence anywhere.

It was announced meanwhile that Pence would become a “distinguished visiting fellow” at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative Washington think-tank that never severed ties with the impeached insurrectionist president. Pence, said Heritage President Kay C. James, was “a man of faith, principle, and character [and] Vice President Pence is a heroic protector and defender of the Constitution and the values that unite us as a nation.”

Pence was largely silent, yes, until he fired up his Twitter account on Wednesday, February 17 to eulogize Rush Limbaugh, the rightwing radio talk show host who Pence idolized and considered his mentor.

“He was the anchor of Conservatism, giving voice to a movement and fighting for the ideals,” Pence tweeted.

“Rush Limbaugh’s legacy will live on for generations in the hearts of the millions of Americans he inspired. His matchless voice will never be forgotten. May God comfort his family and all those who loved him. God Bless Rush Limbaugh.”

The same Rush Limbaugh who mocked the disabled, espoused his racist view as party favors, mocked the victims of AIDS, disparaged the gay community, the list goes on. Even in the aftermath of the former president’s Big Lie, Limbaugh largely condoned the attack on Congress.

“We’re supposed to be horrified by the protesters,” Limbaugh said on his program a day after the insurrection. “There’s a lot of people out there calling for the end of violence … lot of conservatives, social media, who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.” 

But Limbaugh went further, equating the insurrection with the revolutionaries of 1776: “I am glad Sam Adams … Thomas Paine … the actual tea party guys … the men at Lexington and Concord, didn’t feel that way.”   

Pence the silent, however, who could have testified before Congress about an insurrection that might have killed him, endorsed Limbaugh one final time – his mentor and the man he said was instrumental in helping him enter politics at all.

Said Pence: “Rush Limbaugh gave voice to the ideals and values that made this country great, he inspired a generation of American conservatives, and he will be deeply missed. Rush Limbaugh made Conservatives proud and he made Conservatism fun.”

Sing along with him, once more: Limbaugh “made Conservatism fun.”

Thanks, Mike Pence the bold, for filling us in on your version of fun.

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No Praise for Pence

Peter Eisner

Mike Pence’s last-minute decision on January 6, 2021 to tell trump the truth – he had no power to overturn the election – is not at all praiseworthy. He did the bare minimum to meet the role that he had been given – a figurehead destined to read the words of others – in this case the tally of electors from 50 state legislatures that declared officially that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won the election.

In the days between November 3, 2020 and January 6, 2021, Pence was as guilty as the rest of the trumpites, gutlessly allowing fraud and lies to fester. He was protecting no one but himself – he sees himself as part of a divine plan to be the president of a glorious godly state on a hill. His mantra, “I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order.” Rightly so – he neglects to mention what must come first, that he is an American.

He might deserve praise if he had called a news conference at any moment and looked into the camera, into the eyes of Americans, and apologized – he had been an accessory to a monster for four years.

Yes, he read the words himself on January 6, Biden had won, trump had lost, after Pence had ducked for cover with his family and others in the Congress while members of a pre-planned insurrection shouting that they would hang him. This was not enough impetus for Michael Richard Pence to acknowledge that donald trump is a psychopath representing a clear and present danger to the United States. Instead he wrote to Nancy Pelosi that “invoking the 25th Amendment…would set a terrible precedent.”

An analogy for those who would agree with those who say Pence saved democracy in the form of a chronology:

2016 and earlierTrump all along: I’m going to kill the baby

    Pence: Disgusting words, but I could be president

2016 The campaign Others: He’s capable of killing the baby

     Pence: God wants me to be president

2017 inauguration trump: Here I go, I’m going to kill the baby

    Pence—He is a powerful man, but he’s not really killing the baby. And I could be president.

[Interval, 3 years 11 months of evidence the baby is being poisoned. Pence knows it, can see it.]

2020 November 3.

    trump: I win. My job is almost done.

    Pence: He’ll be out before he can really kill the baby. I can still be president.

2021 January 6

trump: You know what, Mike, I want YOU to kill the baby with me.

    Pence: I’m sorry, mr. president, I cannot. If I did, I could not be president.

A Vice President worthy of the title: You have not only conspired to murder the baby, you are a murderer. I have the power to remove you now.

  This is Mike Pence. Four years of blind fealty and hypocrisy, hiding behind a haircut, a pseudo-pleasant, bland expression, and false humility. All the while, mouthing the extreme garbage about Nancy Pelosi as a socialist, and radical Democrats. He was holding the line to maintain good graces with trump (actually trumpite voters) until finally on the morning of January six he had to finally say that he had no power to change the vote. He behaved, and still behaves as the hypocrite he is.

Michael D’Antonio and I wrote about his aspirations and his weakness, amoral governance and extremism in The Shadow President. Pence and his ilk should be consigned to ignominy, and he deserves no more than a job working for Jimmy McGill, squeezing blobs of dough at a nameless Cinnabon in a mall I will never visit. Jimmy and his alter ego, Saul Goodman, had more of a sense of right and wrong than Michael Richard Pence has ever shown.

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Crisis at the Capitol: Unconventional Threat

The latest podcast from Unconventional Threat, Jonathan Winer, Paul Woodhull and me.

What comes after the insurrection?

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Why A CIA Psychiatrist Called Trump Nuts

Peter Eisner

First Published on SpyTalk

Dr. Jerrold M. Post was a highly respected trailblazer as the CIA’s first political profiler, the founder of the discipline of political psychology. Post, a psychiatrist who served for two decades at the  CIA, died on November 22 of covid-19. He was 86 years old. 

In January, just  before the start of the pandemic, Post participated in one of his final interviews with Jonathan Winer and me for our podcast, Unconventional Threat.

By that time, his concerns about President Donald Trump had led him to break with the strictures other colleagues felt to produce and publish a profile equivalent to others he had done for the CIA. Post had created the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior at the CIA. Over time, he had profiled Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat for President Jimmy Carter prior to the Camp David Accords. He also produced profiles of  Kim Jong-Il, Osama bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein, among others.

He now decided to apply the same techniques he had used on world leaders and others to analyze the President of the United States. In so doing, he was breaking a longstanding guideline established by the American Psychiatric Association, known as the Goldwater rule, in which professionals do not diagnose public figures who they have not personally examined and assessed. However, in a long-ranging interview, Post said that Donald Trump represented a clear and present danger to the United States. He said that Trump’s actions in plain sight and his well-known biography made it possible to describe the dangers in psychiatric terms. And he felt compelled to discuss his findings.

One of Post’s fellow psychiatrists, Dr. Bandy Lee of Yale University, also spoke to us for the podcast. Specializing in violence prevention and prison reform, Lee edited a book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, essays by 37 psychiatrists and mental health specialists about Trump. Lee said that Post offered his prominence to highlight analysis of the Trump presidency and Trump’s mental state, despite the strictures placed on psychiatrists by the Goldwater rule. Post contributed an essay to that volume, before writing his own book, Dangerous Charisma: The Political Psychology of Donald Trump and His Followers.

Lee praised Post’s decision to go public and said that his support and prominence in the field helped guide her role. 

 “He, too, was very disturbed about the president’s dangerous psychology,” she said. Post’s “generous concern moved me since, in this country, while the CIA may have done profiles regularly for decades, the same is not permitted for the public (the American Psychiatric Association also made clear with the Trump administration that our own leaders are off-limits, no matter the dangers they pose).”

In our interview, Post said he applied the profiling categories he had pioneered over time not only to describe Donald Trump as a dangerous personality. Among other things he said he had fears for the 2020 elections: If Trump won by a small margin, he would once again declare a landslide. But if he lost, he would never accept the outcome. 

Here’s the full story on SpyTalk, including condensed, edited excerpts from our talk:

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Whitehouse on the White House, a conversation

The latest podcast from Unconventional Threat. @SenWhitehouse

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Are you feeling better? No!

Peter Eisner

Message from friend after elections: So now, are you finally breathing easier?

Answer no.

Look, the dude won’t go away on his own. He is thinking of holding a rival event on January 20 during the inauguration. His calculation: the media will keep covering him. Television and social media will continue to provide the oxygen.

How do we account for 73 million people who voted for the dude?

They need answers, we need a strategy, they need economic support, they need more than your disdain.

A tweet this morning from a prominent oncologist in Cincinnati:

Syed A. Ahmad

@SyedAAhmad5

·

13h

Just got an email from work that our hospital is full and all elective surgical cases have been cancelled. No transfers allowed to hospital. Driving home, passed a restaurant that was full. Shaking my head. Frustrated is an understatement.

We live in separate realities

Recommended reading: Heather Cox Richardson’s daily blog. Today, she includes this quote from a reporter:

“hard-hit communities still don’t believe COVID is real. Misinformation is rampant.” Burns told of patients who, according to nurses, “don’t believe they have COVID until they’re in critical condition.”

And her comment:

Trump’s vision is destroying faith in our electoral system and spreading death. It is destabilizing our democracy, an outcome that helps those who are eager to see America’s influence in the world decline.

When the Supreme Court is tilted toward unreality, we are screwed.

The Supremes voted 5-4 to allow religious organization to propagate the virus with trumped up reasoning. Dissenting opinion from : justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan:  

The majority is “second-guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.”

Mitch McConnell will perpetuate indecency in the Senate if he is able to after January 5.

What will happen in the Georgia runoffs?

By the way, why are people on TV wasting even a minute in discussing giving cabinet posts to Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren? How does either of them get confirmed by, a Republican senate? And, in Warren’s case, how do you let a Republican governor replace her in the senate?

Some suggest that, as with Nixon and Bush, Biden should let bygones be bygones with Trump’s misdeeds.

This is a danger. An independent judiciary must examine and apply the blind balance of justice. Recommended reading: Andrew Weissmann in the New York Times.

Holier than thou media during the upcoming Biden administration:

A headline in The New York Times on Sunday, November 30:

Biden Aides’ Ties to Consulting and Investment Firms Pose Ethics Test

Compared to what? Every f…ing appointee in the current executive branch who is stealing and operating with disdain and incompetence?


Right-wing crazies perpetuating garbage in public discourse and violence.

Left-wing of the Democratic Party not maintaining a sense of proportion and eschwing pragmatism.

Happy Days!

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The Would-be King’s Gambit: Lessons in Trumpian Chess.

Peter Eisner

The most captivating show on television for the last month has been The Queen’s Gambit, well, at least for those who have tried to wean themselves off a four-year political diet. It is the fictional story of a young woman who won the world championship by playing three-dimensional chess better than anyone else.

Interest in chess is on the rise – people stuck at home, trying to break the Trump TV habit, have been buying chess boards at a brisk pace.    

Now, however, the lame-duck president is offering a new gambit for the holidays. His opening move was to pardon his short-time former National Security Advisor, Michael Thomas Flynn, a move that could also be called  “pawn to king’s pawn – 4ever.”  How good an opening will that prove to be?

The pardoning of Flynn on November 25 was no surprise and has everything to do with Trump’s attempt to protect himself. It is likely that other pardon moves will follow. Yet, there are ways to counteract the Trumpian gambit.

Presidential pardon power is mighty and broad — we read, for example, that among the hopefuls of presidential benevolence is media star Joe Exotic, lobbying to weasel out of a 20-year murder-for-hire conviction.

Presidential power may not extend to Trump’s ability to pardon himself, though do not put it past him to try. If Trump was worried enough about that move, he could always resign a few hours before January 20, 2021 and get a pardon deal from the temporary new president, Michael Richard Pence. Careful Mike, are you in the game?

Anyone who obtains a pardon faces unusual liability under the law. Pardons do not protect recidivists for their future crimes. Take the case of Flynn. It is true that Flynn was being paid $500K as a lobbyist for the government of Turkey, and this was a conflict of interest, with questions of legality.

Thanks to Trump, all previous crimes, including failing to register as a foreign agent, and lying to the FBI about Russia (both federal crimes) are wiped out. The Russia appears to be more important than the Turkey story, although Flynn might have information about a plot to seize a Turkish opposition leader in Pennsylvania–and could be forced to talk. Others could be implicated in a criminal enterprise involving the alleged kidnapping plot.

More broadly, Flynn still could be called in to testify on any subject before a Grand Jury about his interactions with the soon-to-be former president and soon-to-be former vice president. That is where Pence might be as concerned as Trump.

With new game pieces in a restored Justice Department, U.S. attorneys maybe very well be making moves of their own. One key player, Andrew Weissman, former senior prosecutor under Special Counsel Robert Mueller, argues that Trump and cronies must be pursued.

Writes Weissman in the New York Times:

 “Mr. Trump can’t point to what the special counsel investigation did not find (e.g., “collusion”) when he obstructed that very investigation…”

 “In short, being president should mean you are more accountable, not less, to the rule of law.”

Were Flynn’s contacts during the 2016 Christmas holidays with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak of his own device? Who knew he was doing this? Did the president know? Did the vice president know?

Journalistic boilerplate tells us that after Flynn lied about his talks with Kislyak when interviewed by FBI agents,  he repeated in turn the same fib to Mike Pence. Pence, the story goes, then spoke untruthfully about Flynn’s contacts — because Flynn deceived him.

Pence has always said that he knew nothing about Flynn’s talks with Kislyak until Flynn told him about it in 2017. When the story broke, Pence said he had spoken to Flynn about the Russian contact, and that the subject was benign.

 “He had sent a text to the Russian ambassador to express not only Christmas wishes but sympathy for the loss of life in the airplane crash that took place,” Pence said on CBS Face the Nation. “It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”

Pence said he only later realized that Flynn had lied. Is that true? Michael D’Antonio and I wrote about Pence’s role during this period in our book, The Shadow President–The Truth About Mike Pence.

At the time, Pence was overseeing the Trump transition to the White House. Conveniently, as often has been the case, Pence was not on station when controversy was unfolding.

Despite what should have been the pressure of the transition, Pence was out of Washington back home celebrating Christmas in Indiana. Concurrently, Flynn was talking with figures in the Trump transition about Obama’s sanctions against Russia in December 2016.

 There were email communications with other transition members, but there was no sign that Pence was cc’d or in the loop. We are left to believe that Pence did not know about the Flynn communications with the Pence’s transition team. If that is all true, Pence should rest easy and settle for an easy game of parcheesi as he slips into private life after January 20.

However, after Flynn’s pardon, and after admitting his own lies, Flynn could be forced to testify if called before a federal Grand Jury. He no longer has 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination on the crimes he was prosecuted and pardoned for. If he refuses to testify, he could be charged with contempt. What if prosecutors delve into Flynn’s conversations with transition figures before he spoke to Russian ambassador Kislyak? What if prosecutors ask: did Donald Trump and/or Mike Pence know about your contact with the Russian?

If Flynn were to lie, a new perjury charge could be filed. Dealing with pardons, the past can be prologue, especially if there are more lies left to be told.

So, if there is a careful review in 2021 of the Trump presidency and all his men, there are a number of possible moves on the board – the would-be King’s gambit to save himself from checkmate would be very much in doubt.

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How Much Damage Can he do? The Perils of the Interregnum

How much damage can Donald Trump do before he leaves office on January 20, 2021?

Jonathan Winer and I discuss the dangers with our guests on our podcast, the latest from Unconventional Threat.

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www.iwillvote.com

Yes, today, vote. Help someone vote. Vote

John Lewis (1940-2020)

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TODAY

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November 3, 2020 · 7:27 am