Tag Archives: Mike Pence

False equivalence in a post-justice America

False equivalence is once again rearing its ugly head, as pundits attempt to balance their outrage at the fact-free excesses of the right by calling out the left for being intolerant of opposing views.

Just this morning on CNN, Fareed Zakaria, whom I generally respect, indulged in a little handwringing about students protesting against speakers engaged by their schools who represent an “unpopular” view. Apparently a group of kids walked out on VP Mike Pence during a commencement address. How rude!

This is somehow supposed to be a sign that the left is as bad as the right is about violating civil liberties.

I’m sorry, but that is just not so.

Non-violent demonstrations are central to our civil liberties. They may not be “polite;” they may not conform to an abstract metric of tolerance; but sometimes they are the only means within the grasp of an underclass (no pun intended) to express their strong disagreement, even outrage, at views or behaviors with which, not only do they disagree, but which they find downright abhorrent.

Of course the Ann Coulters of this world should not be barred from speaking; and, of course, colleges should be free to host public speakers who represent extreme views.

However, everyone knows there are reasons why prohibitions exist against yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.  Commonsense should predict that provocateurs will provoke dissent.

It appears that, for the most part the demonstrations that fuel rightwing outrage over their civil rights, are noisy but peaceful, except when “unidentified outside agitators” deliberately invade the protests to initiate violence.

Those “outside agitators” cannot simply be assumed to be sympathetic to the left. It is far more likely that they are either anarchists whose, sole objective is to raise havoc and undermine all authority; or that they are individuals who wish to disrupt the disruption and shed an unflattering light on the left.

They are in any case, an exception to the rule that protests against right-wing speakers are generally peaceful despite the noise.

Should demonstrators be scolded for “intolerance?” I don’t think so.

The fact is that some rightwing viewpoints on social justice issues which have traditionally been considered far outside acceptable boundaries have recently been elevated to a public platform that they have not enjoyed in recent memory. Inevitably the response is visceral.

This is a values judgment. There simply is no other option.

We have already undergone an election in which all the remaining norms of political etiquette and even truthfulness have been forcefully jettisoned by the man who actual succeeded in claiming the White House. Brutality and intimidation were celebrated by the winning candidate. We are learning that it was much less of a level playing field than we even imagined!

How are people on the unjustly marginalized perimeters of power…the actual majority…supposed to react?

The argument that we are somehow guilty of intolerance because we cry out against advocates of social injustice and bigotry is unworthy of our constitutional heritage.

Please, media voices: stop trying so hard to appear “fair” to the extreme right. Fairness has never been something they respect.

Mike Pence wants to channel Dick Cheney

As if Trump alone wasn’t bad enough, his running mate, hardcore conservative Mike Pence shared his thoughts on what kind of vice president he would like to be. If the unthinkable happens and they are elected, Indiana’s’ governor and former congressman apparently wants to be another Dick Cheney. He recently expressed his deep admiration for George W. Bush’s former vice President.

Said Pence: “I frankly hold Dick Cheney in really high regard in his role as vice president and as an American.”

Dick Cheney’s approval ratings have improved since he left office in 2010 but at the end of his eight years as VP he had “earned” a shockingly low 13% approval rating. He accomplished this feat in a variety of ways, not the least of which was seizing the  lead role in deceiving the country into the disastrous war in Iraq, expanding government monitoring of US citizen phone calls, and supporting torture. Some international war crimes experts now recommend Cheney (and his former boss George Bush) should be charged and tried for war crimes.

The conservative record that Pence established in Indiana has failed to get much attention with running mate Trump dominating the daily election news. An article in Rollcall.com spotlights some of his controversial efforts, including one that his hero Darth Cheney would just love. Governor Pence established an official state of Indiana news bureau — to be called “JustIN” – overseen by his administration, and to hire a “managing editor” to assist in the production of “news stories.”  Despite quickly abandoning the plan, Pence’s project set the media world ablaze, and drew comparisons to government-backed news outlets in communist countries.

Trump is supposed to have kind of a short attention span, and may want a VP to handle the “details.” But it seems unlikely, if elected president, that he would allow VP Pence to wield as much power as Cheney did — I doubt the Donald would share center stage that much. But it remains alarming (though not surprising) that ultra-conservative Pence would journey to the dark side and channel Darth Cheney’s spirit  as a role model.