Monday, May 22, 2017

ANS -- Reframing the health care conversation

Doug Muder is such a great writer and thinker that I haven't been reading him much lately because I keep wanting to send all of his articles to you.  I know some of you have started reading his stuff regularly, and this one is from the UUWorld, so you may have seen it there.  But the reasoning is so clear and so good and so opposite to what most people think, that you just have to read it!

Reframing the health care conversation

The persistent myth that poor people need less is putting them at risk.

DOUG MUDER 5/15/2017
man holding a large, half empty red cross, the red of which he is pouring by drips into a little person's little red cross.

(© 2016 Robert Neubecker)

ANS -- Step Around the Benghazi Trap

A bit of sanity in today's political world.  Let's keep some perspective.  Wait for the results of the investigation before we decide what they are.  This is from Doug Muder.  

Step Around the Benghazi Trap

As the Trump scandals deepen, Democrats should learn from Republican mistakes: If you let your expectations get too far ahead of what's known, confirmation bias can lead you into an a universe of alternative facts.

A few days before last November's election, I saw a guy wearing an anti-Hillary t-shirt with the slogan "Benghazi: I will never forget!". And it made me wonder: Of the things he will never forget about Benghazi, how many are imaginary? Will he always remember, for example, the stand-down order that was never given? Or that Clinton's response to four American deaths was to ask "What difference does it make?"

Benghazi was a real event, but eventually it got surrounded by a cloud of virtual events conjured up by conspiracy theorists. The virtual events — did you hear that Obama knew the attack was coming and intentionally did nothing? — stick in the mind so much better than the real ones. I suspect they're the ones that guy (and the millions like him) will always remember.

Republicans went certifiably insane about Benghazi. When seven separate investigations failed to verify their wildest accusations against Obama and Clinton, they did the obvious thing: spent millions of tax dollars on an eighth one that also found nothing, in the vain hope that someday the same evidence would start saying something different.

Last week, a commenter on this blog asked how Democrats will know if we've gone down a similar rabbit-hole about Trump and Russia. I replied that it was way too early to make such a comparison, because we haven't even completed one investigation of Trump/Russia, much less started our eighth. But the longer I thought about it, the more I wondered if there wasn't something worth thinking about here: It may have taken four years and eight investigations for their Benghazi insanity to play out, but when exactly did Republicans start making the fatal mistake that eventually drove them insane?

Early days, I think. Right about where we are now.

And here's what I think the fatal mistake was: convincing themselves that they already knew what had happened and how everything was going to play out. Within days or weeks, they knew that this was the big one, the scandal that was finally going to bring Obama down. Obama and Clinton had done something horrible here, even if nobody was sure exactly what it was. The point of investigating was to find the horrible thing they did, not to determine whether it existed. Any investigators who failed to find something bad enough to end both of their careers — and maybe send them to jail as a bonus — just hadn't looked hard enough.

The point of me bringing this up isn't to pooh-pooh the seriousness of what we're finding out about Trump, or to suggest that an investigation shouldn't be pursued with all possible vigor. I think Trump and a number of his people are acting like they're guilty as hell. And the seriousness of the possibilities is undeniable: One of the determining factors in the 2016 election might have been a conspiracy between the winning candidate and a hostile foreign power. An unsavory Trump-Russia connection might go back decades, to Trump getting bailed out of his terrible investment decisions by money that Russian oligarchs needed to launder. Or maybe Trump campaign officials like Manafort and Flynn were Russian agents paid to manipulate the useful idiot who was their candidate.

Those possibilities can't just be left out there for people to wonder about. If there's even a tiny chance that one of them is true, a major investigation is necessary.

It's possible that all this will come out quickly, in months or even weeks. Maybe Flynn or somebody will flip on Trump and produce a smoking gun that will either force him to resign or convince reluctant Republicans in Congress that they need to impeach him. Maybe Pence is in it up to his eyeballs and he'll be forced out too.

It's possible. But at this point, I don't actually know any of those things. Trump does a lot of stuff I don't understand, so he could be acting guilty for some ridiculous reason that isn't illegal at all. Remember how adamant he was about his inaugural crowd being bigger than Obama's, or how he didn't really lose the popular vote? Maybe the Big Thing he's hiding is some similarly ego-diminishing fact that anybody else would just own up to. Maybe the stuff that looks like a giant conspiracy is actually made up of dozens of unrelated instances of stupidity and incompetence. Maybe the corruption being covered up is ordinary money-grubbing by lower-level Trumpists, and doesn't have anything to do with high-level treason.

That's all possible too.

We need to find out. So we need to keep paying attention. All the avenues of investigation should be pursued as vigorously as possible, and everybody needs to remain vigilant against attempts to change the subject or derail the inquiries. We need to stay on guard against the worst: If the tension keeps ratcheting up inside the White House, eventually somebody is bound to suggest a Reichstag Fire — a real or fake attack on America that is supposed to make us circle the wagons around our Leader.

Or our enemies could decide that now, while the country is divided and so many of us are inclined to disbelieve anything our president says, is exactly the right time to launch a real attack.

As Americans, we need to keep the pressure on our elected representatives to take all this seriously. We need to stay ready to protest in the streets if it all goes wrong, just as Tunisians and Egyptians did to chase their corrupt leaders into retirement.

But while we're making sure we'll be geared up for whatever happens, we also need to make sure we're staying in touch with reality, and that we're maintaining the separation between what we know, what we suspect, and what we're getting ready for just in case. We can't let ourselves live in a speculative future where everything we've always suspected about Trump turns out to be true, and everyone who supported him finally has to admit that we were right.

If you get too attached to that future, you'll most likely miss the turn when reality decides to go some other way. As the facts unfold, you'll only see the ones that point in the direction you want to go. That's a well-documented cognitive failing called confirmation bias. It's not a conservative or liberal thing, it's a human thing. Unless you're some particularly well-designed artificial intelligence, you're susceptible to it.

It's already starting to happen in certain circles. Things that might eventually turn out to be true are being reported as if they are inevitably going to happen, or maybe have already happened. (Did you hear that Trump has already been indicted?)

It's very satisfying to respond to Trump's alternate reality (where his inaugural crowd was bigger than Obama'shis electoral college margin was historically largeonly fraud prevented him from winning the popular vote, and no politician — not even one who got assassinated, like Kennedy or Lincoln — has ever been treated so unfairly) with an anti-Trump alternate reality.

But as boring as it can be sometimes, we need to hang onto real reality. It sometimes takes a while to manifest itself, but in the long run real reality has a power that we want on our side.

It's tempting to believe that we already know what's going to happen: We know what James Comey is going to testify to, we know that Michael Flynn and/or Paul Manafort are going to flip on Trump and what they're going to say; we know where the money trail is going to lead; and so on. We're just waiting for that inevitable future to arrive, when Trump is ridden out of town on a rail.

But I don't know any of that stuff, not yet. So I'm going to have to listen to the witnesses as they testify. I'm going to have to read the investigators' reports as they come out.

Trump's defenders are telling us that because we don't already know that he did something wrong, we shouldn't be investigating. The answer to that isn't that we're investigating because we do already know. The reason to investigate is because we don't know. Trump's defenders — other than possibly Trump himself and a small circle around him — don't know either.

We should move forward, but with full knowledge of the uncertainties and ambiguities. That's harder than moving forward with full certainty of where you're going. But in the long run, it will keep you sane.

ANS -- How the Swastika Became a Confederate Flag

Here's an interesting idea.  I had never heard that Nazi Germany modeled itself on the USA.  

The statue of General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va. CreditMatt Eich for The New York Times

The easy-listening white supremacists who surged out of the shadows during the presidential campaign are no less dangerous than their white power survivalist or raving skinhead counterparts. But they are hoping to rebrand themselves by wearing business clothes and attempting to sound reasonable as they advance a racist agenda. The debate about removing monuments to white supremacy that were built throughout the South a century or more ago is tailor-made for this tactic.

The white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Va., this month over a plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, shows how this is likely to go. The marchers feigned civility. But a closer look shows that the protest drew on the toxic symbolism of the Third Reich in ways that few Americans would recognize.

By wielding torches in a protest staged by night, the demonstrators nodded to Nazi rallies held during the 1930s at Nuremberg, where the open flame was revered as a mystical means of purifying the Aryan spirit. They reinforced this toxic connection by chanting "blood and soil," a Nazi-era slogan that connected German ethnic purity to cultivation of the land and, more broadly, to the notion that the "master race" was divinely entitled to confiscate the holdings of "lesser peoples," even if it meant slaughtering them along the way.

The demonstrators at Charlottesville — led by the theatrically inclined white supremacist Richard Spencer — had no real interest in the civic or aesthetic value of the monument they ostensibly came to defend. The essence of their argument was that any attempt to renounce Confederate ideology by moving this — or any — monument would be an assault on the so-called white race.

The protest also celebrated the intimate connection between Nazi-era rule in Germany and Jim Crow-era rule in the United States. That connection, long overlooked by historians, was obvious to the network of black-owned newspapers that reached the peak of its influence during World War II.

Continue reading the main story

The barons of the Negro press ridiculed the attempt to frame the war as a fight for liberty at a time when the military was segregating by race soldiers, nurses and even plasma in the wartime blood bank, and running Jim Crow military bases in ways that were fully consistent with the German view of Negroes and others as not fully human.

Editorial cartoonists underscored this point by depicting Hitler and Hirohito together, laughing uproariously, while reading newspaper accounts of lynchings in the American South. The Pittsburgh Courier finally made it palatable to African-Americans to support the war in Europe by recasting it as a struggle to vanquish Nazism abroad and Jim Crow racism at home.

Hitler drew a similar, more sinister comparison in "Mein Kampf." He describes the United States as "the one state" that had made headway toward what he regarded as a healthy and utterly necessary racist regime. Historians have long sought to minimize the importance of that passage. But in recent years, archival research in Germany has shown that the Nazis were keenly focused on Jim Crow segregation laws, on statutes that criminalized interracial marriage and on other policies that created second-class citizenship in the United States.

The Yale legal scholar James Q. Whitman fleshes this out to eerie effect in his new book "Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law." He illustrates how German propagandists sought to normalize the Nazi agenda domestically by putting forth the United States as a model. They assured the German people that Americans had "racist politics and policies," just as Germany did, including "special laws directed against the Negroes, which limit their voting rights, freedom of movement, and career possibilities." Embracing the necessity of lynching, one propagandist wrote: "What is lynch justice, if not the natural resistance of the Volk to an alien race that is attempting to gain the upper hand?"

"Hitler's American Model" shows that homegrown American racism played a role in the notorious Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which deprived "non-Aryans" of citizenship and the right to marry "true" Germans. As Mr. Whitman writes, Nuremberg "signaled the full-scale creation of a racist state in a Germany on the road to the Holocaust."

Nazism and the tradition of American white supremacy that is memorialized in monuments throughout the South are the fruit of the same poisonous tree. In this light, the Confederate flag can legitimately be seen as an alternate version of the Nazi emblem.

After the war, Germany tried to put Nazism back in its box by banning public display of swastikas and other emblems of the Third Reich. Later generations understood that to wear such an insignia was to smear oneself with history's worst filth. Many Americans have failed to grasp this point. This explains why one still sees people parading around with both Nazi emblems and Confederate flags, openly embracing the meanings of both.

The new-age white supremacists who want so eagerly to expand their market shares recognize that covering themselves with swastikas is a route to marginalization. They are betting that they can achieve the effect they seek by embracing the Confederate cause, while serving up easy-listening Nazism on the side.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

ANS -- The Wisdom of Wolves

This is very short, and you have to see the picture, so if the picture didn't come through, go to the site.  It's about how wolves organize themselves. (Perhaps we are taking the idea of letting the old and infirm set the pace a bit too literally?)

The Wisdom of Wolves

Image may contain: outdoor

The 3 in front are old & sick, they walk in front to set the pace of the running group lest they get left behind.

The next 5 are the strongest & best, they are tasked to protect the front side if there is an attack.

The pack in the middle are always protected from any attack.

The 5 behind them are also among the strongest & best; they are tasked to protect the back side if there is an attack.

The last one is the LEADER. He ensures that no one is left behind. He keeps the pack unified and on the same path. He is always ready to run in any direction to protect & serves as the 'bodyguard' to the entire group.

Just in case y'all wanted to know what it really means to be a leader.

About David Robinson

REVISED: David Robinson is an Author and Journalist living in the mid-coast area of Maine. He is a Graduate and Alumni of the Brunswick Police Academy. He served as a JUROR seated on the Cumberland County, Maine, Grand Jury for the first four-month session of 2014. Publisher Robinson served 3 months of a 4-month sentence for Conspiracy to defraud the United States, at the FCI Berlin minimum security Satellite Camp in Berlin New Hampshire, as retaliation after he and a friend sued the IRS, unsuccessfully, for Unfair Trade Practices, under Title 15 of the US Code. +++ Maine Lawsuit Against The IRS: For Unfair Trade Practices ( +++ Failure to File & Conspiracy: United States vs. Messier & Robinson - No. 2:14-cr-00083-DBH ( +++ On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District Court of Maine / REPLY BRIEF OF ROBINSON ( +++ Books by David E. Robinson (

ANS -- Two articles on whether Pence would be better or worse than Trump

Here are two articles -- one saying Pence would be worse than Trump, and one with the opposite opinion.  You pays yer money and you takes yer chances....

Mike Pence Would Be Far Worse Than Donald Trump

Would President Pence be "better" or worse than Donald Trump? That's a fair question. A quick Google search will give you a number of people who think he would be better. And a number who think otherwise. Let's talk about this.

V. P. Mike Pence - Waiting On The Bench (Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum)

V. P. Mike Pence – Waiting On The Bench (Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum)

Better is a relative term and, given the low bar set by Trump, it is an easy goal to achieve depending on how you define "better." Pence would definitely bring far less drama and volatility to the office. He would not have the entourage of family members and fringe misfits that Trump has assembled. Indeed, a President Pence would surround himself with far more "mainstream" conservatives. He would have the advice and counsel of people who have made advancing a conservative agenda their life's work. He would employ people who have studied the issues and who, through years of practice, have become skilled in promoting a meaner, more racist, more sexist, more stratified America. And this, I believe, makes him far worse for America.

Trump is like the bumbling drunk who staggers down the street bouncing off walls and parked cars in an effort to stay upright and heading in one direction. If the drunk bumps into you it is not intentional, there was no plan, it just happened. Yes, you were harmed when he knocked you over, and the stench from the drunk's puke stained clothes now envelopes you, but that was not the drunk's plan. No one is certain what the drunk was planning. Even the drunk is unsure. Is the drunk dangerous? Certainly! But it could be worse.

Down the same street comes President Pence. Stone cold sober and calculating every step. You are the target. He and his gang want to harm you. They want to make an example of you. They crowd you like school-yard bullies. They poke you and test your defenses. They mock you and try to provoke a reaction, a justification for what is about to happen. The attack intensifies. Any who are your allies are targeted also. Family, friends, casual associates are all vilified. You are isolated. You are a woman. You are gay. You are an atheist. You are black. You are an immigrant. You are poor. And years of planning, and practice, and indignation rain down on you crushing you and putting you in your place. This would be a Pence presidency.

Fellow Patheos writer Erin Wathen has echoed the sentiment of many and has given us "11 Reasons President Pence Would Not Be "Just As Bad." I disagree with Erin, who makes some valid points about Pence, but also, like many, minimizes or overlooks that he has a history and a plan to fundamentally change America. An impetuous man like Trump, devoid of any moral or intellectual moorings and driven by unvarnished narcissism is undoubtedly bad for America. But the studied and deliberate crafting of policies, driven by a mixture of corporate fealty, theological dominionism, and a survival of the fittest society is far worse.

These points barely scrape the surface of Mike Pence's dystopian vision for America:

1. Mike Pence Wages War On Women.

Pence's religious views over-ride and equality and fairness that our society has been (slowly) moving to extend to women. On top of legislation that would make women poorer he has also signed a law that requires women who have had abortions or miscarriages, no matter how early, to arrange for either burial or cremation of the remains. The law does not require a formal funeral but it does preclude any disposition other than burial or cremation. You could donate the body of a newborn for medical research but cannot for a miscarried fetus.

In Congress Pence co-sponsored a bill to redefine "rape" to "forcible rape" or what the bill's author called "legitimate rape." Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) claimed that "legitimate rape" does not often lead to pregnancy because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." This law would allow the government to challenge a woman who was raped and wanted an abortion. They would be able to interrogate the victim and determine if the rape was "legitimate" or not because, according to their warped view of women and science "legitimate rape" does not lead to pregnancy so therefore the victim is lying.

2. Mike Pence Wages War On LGBTQ+ Americans

Pence has advocated that tax money be spent on conversion therapy. When running for congress he wrote that: "Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior." On the same site he wrote: "Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage."

As governor of Indiana Pence  signed a "license to discriminate" bill allowing businesses to refuse services to LGBTQ+ citizens of Indiana. In an interview on ABC's This Week he refused eight times to say he opposes discrimination against gay people. In Congress he voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which was written to prohibit discrimination against people based on sexual orientation. Pence voted against that law. He later said the law "wages war on freedom and religion in the workplace."

3. Mike Pence Wages War On The Elderly

"Few members of Congress have an anti-seniors voting record as consistently strong as Mike Pence.

Mike Pence was one of Congress' biggest proponents of privatization. He supports cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age, reducing the COLA, means-testing and turning Medicare into "CouponCare." As he told CNN, 'I'm an all of the above guy.  I think we need to look at everything that's on the menu,' and the record shows he has done just that by supporting every form of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefit cut proposed in the past decade.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare scored Mike Pence at 0% on issues important to seniors during the 2011-2012 Congress since he voted for multiple pieces of legislation that would cut benefits and programs that protect senior's health and financial security."" – National Committee To Preserve Social Security And Medicare.

4. Mike Pence Wages War On The Poor

Pence would like to "convert Medicaid into a block grant program… with the likely result that countless low-income beneficiaries could lose their health insurance or see steep reductions."

At a time when there were one million available jobs and two million job seekers in the mid-west Pence decided to kick people off of food stamps in an effort to "ennoble" them.

He signed a law capping the minimum wage in Indiana. He also repealed a law guaranteeing that "prevailing wages" be paid to workers on publicly funded construction projects. This would allow construction companies to pay far less for skilled workers than the current market rate.

5. Mike Pence Wages War On American's Health

Pence voted for at least 35 pieces of legislation aimed at repealing all or part of Obamacare. Some of the votes included provisions against things like "death panels" that never existed.

As chronicled here Pence has continually advocated and voted for policies that harm Americans in many areas including:

The Nuclear Problem

His finger on the nuclear button may be the best argument that Pence is better than Trump. As Erin Wathen  says: "The bottom line is, this would all be so much more fun to watch if there weren't nuclear weapons involved…" And I admit I am not clear on whether I believe Trump would use nuclear weapons. I tend to doubt it but I am not certain. But I am certain that both he and Pence would be equally ready to send American troops into war. When I protested the Bush war in Iraq I said it would be a long and costly war. It has cost countless lives, trillions of dollars, decimated families, ruined cities, paralyzed nations, spawned a new generation of people with reasons to hate America, weakened us internationally, eroded our freedoms, and put us in a state of continual warfare. The next war will be worse. Much worse. And it may involve nuclear weapons regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

Pence is today's garden-variety conservative Republican. Motivated by an apocalyptic theology, a strident religious nationalism, a belief in the mythical "free-market," a survival of the fittest view of humanity, and an allegiance to corporate interests. I find his calculated form of evil far more unsettling than the haphazard evil of a Donald Trump. It is for this reason and those mentioned above that I must conclude that Mike Pence is far worse for America than Donald Trump.

Follow me on Facebook and on Twitter. On Facebook I share cat and chicken pictures and the occasional musing about what is going on in the world. On Twitter I bang my head on my desk a lot because who can communicate in 140 characters?

About John WL Berry

John is a former digital Sherpa who uses sock puppets to create alternative methods of growth in long-term information intelligence. His focus recently has been on free-range, artisan, locally sourced, gluten-free, and disruptive information supply chains.

Just kidding. He is a grief counselor, a former hospital chaplain, a pretend farmer who uses real dirt, an award-winning writer (OK, it was a gold star in the 5th grade but it was still an award), and the guy who always talks to you when you are standing in the checkout line. Raised in Boston (Roxbury) he has lived in Maine for 23 years. John spent over 40 years participating in, observing, questioning, and avoiding American politics while learning to follow Jesus.


Second article:  

11 Reasons President Pence Would Not Be "Just As Bad"

I know. I know. Practically every week since Trump announced his candidacy, there's been a "surely this will be the end of him" headline, and none of them ultimately amount to anything. And even now, there remains a carefully crafted narrative that his base will uphold no matter what.

And yet. This one might be different.

Things are starting to hit the fan. Even his biggest supporters in the House and Senate are starting to skulk away, with midterms on their minds. It is getting harder to make excuses for his blunders; and nearly impossible to deny to the obvious shady business surrounding Comey, ties to Russia, and now, the possible obstruction of justice related to both.

There must be a boiling point, after all. The current pace of everyday gaff and scandal is not sustainable–not even for a giant demagogue with every resource and tool of manipulation at his disposal. Whether it's today, or next week, or a year from now, something is going to burn this thing down. And it will probably be a spark from within.

As the certainty of some game-changing revelation grows, I keep hearing the same thing from progressive circles: "But Pence is just as bad." Or, "President Pence will be worse."


While I get the general sentiment, he is not worse. Not even "as bad." Is he an ideological nightmare? Sure. Would he be a friend to women, people of color, the poor, or the LGBT community? Lol, no. But he's a far safer presence than the current resident of the Oval Office. Here's why:

  1. Global relationships and diplomacy. Whatever damage he might do, policy-wise, here at home, he will not be a stage 4 cancer on America's worldwide credibility. DJT has proven, again and again, that he doesn't know who our friends are, doesn't care and won't learn how foreign policy works, and cannot keep his tiny hands off of the big red button. It is terrifying. Say what you will about Pence, but his brand of gross will not lead to this level of escalating global tension.
  2. Experience. "Career politician" is not always a selling point in campaign season. But I'd rather have a career politician than a zero-experience constant liability. As a seasoned politician, Pence knows about things like "optics" and "ethics." He knows, for instance, that you cannot fill the highest positions of power with your kids and your billionaire BFF's. He has experience, and so he will value experience in those he places around him.
  3. Conflicts of interest. Pence doesn't have them. At least, not on the obvious and epic scale that Trump does, with his endless web of corporate connections and favors owed and expected.
  4. A Vague Awareness of Other People. Whatever I may think of his politics (terrible) or his personal beliefs (gross) he is not a complete narcissist, incapable of taking feedback or gathering input from trusted and informed sources. One of Trump's biggest weaknesses is the utter lack of regard for what anyone else thinks, even within his own circles.
  5. Military Experience. He has some. So maybe he'd be a little less likely to send our children off to a conflict without thoroughly plotting a path in and out, and discerning the consequences.
  6. Family. I'm just guessing that a guy who will not eat a meal alone with another woman, would not be too wild about the idea of living apart from his wife. No more spending obscene amounts of taxpayer money to secure basically the whole city of New York, to build a secondary fortress for the First Family.
  7. The Private Resort Situation. To the best of my knowledge, Mike Pence does not own a resort in Florida, or elsewhere, that he would treat as his second office. Trump's frequent travel to his vacation spots is not just concerning because of the expense; it also means he frequently takes state affairs out of the public eye. "Private" is the operative word… When the White House goes to Mar a Lago, a lot of "our" national business happens behind closed doors. Or behind the 9th tee, if you will.
  8.  Faith. Do I agree with his theology? Hell nah. It is harmful, and I've expounded on that in other posts. However–it is, at least, what appears to be a more genuine faith than Trump's "how do I work this communion cup thing" and "two Corinthians" performances that clearly pander to a certain demographic. Trump's posturing makes a mockery, not just of a particular faith, but of faith in general. Not to mention, I'd like to think that a President who at least believes in a higher power could muster up a certain degree of humility on occasion. That's always nice to see in a leader.
  9. Education. Again–Pence has some. I'm over Trump's blatant anti-intellectualism, disregard for facts, and consistent scorn for informed and intelligent people. Pence might not have the oratory skills of Kennedy or Obama, but damn, it would be nice to hear at least a high school vocabulary when we turn on the State of the Union. I mean, let's be real. I will settle for complete sentences at this point. 
  10. Temperament. If nothing else, I look forward to a break from the midnight Twitter storms. It might be refreshing to live in a country that is no longer the laughing stock of the world.
  11. Freedom of the Press. Remember what that is? We may be stuck with the legacy of "2 Americas," and the tension between Fox News and…well, everyone else. But Pence does not appear to have the overt animosity for the free press that puts Trump constantly at odds with them. And therefore, we might return to a somewhat stable relationship with our shared narrative.

The main thing that concerns me about Pence is that he could, in this moment, strategically position himself as the anti-Trump, and come out smelling like a rose. A hero to both conservatives and moderates, and possibly even a portion of the progressive base. It could mean a certain win for him in 2020, and unprecedented power for Christian fundamentalists in the upcoming midterms. That makes me shudder. But ultimately, his brand of damage is easier to reign in than the full-on global meltdown we face with the existing Trump administration.

Yes, Pence exhibits his own brand of racism; his own harmful kind of patriarchy; his own willful ignorance of poverty, and an overt homophobia that might set equality back a few decades. But these are all things we can fight. These are all issues that we can resist at local and state levels…provided we remain a functional democratic system. And, you know, that we don't get blown off the map by North Korea. If we want to keep democracy in tact–and stay alive to fight another day–that means first ousting the sitting President.

The bottom line is, this would all be so much more fun to watch if there weren't nuclear weapons involved…