“Pro-life,” everyone.

So the rancid garbage heap that is Donald Trump has chosen as his running mate the blazing dumpster fire that is Mike Pence. As if it could be any other way. The Donald desperately needed a bona fide conservative berserker on the ticket to perk up the flaccid conservative base, because his own track record is simply not terrible enough to get them excited.

Much digital ink has been and undoubtedly will be spilled about Pence’s “pro-life” position. He is the real deal, a foaming-at-the-mouth Forced Birther, who enjoys a 100% rating from the National Right to Life [sic] Committee and a 0% rating from NARAL. Like most “pro-life” conservatives, Mike Pence has a bizarre obsession with blastocysts, and with requiring people to provide continuous organ donation for nine months followed by the horrifically violent expulsion of a newly minted human, voluntarily or otherwise. Yet strangely, he has very, very few qualms about the deaths of existing people.

On gun issues alone, a lot of dead bodies can be piled up right at Pence’s feet: he wants a national (cross-state) standard for concealed carry, looser restrictions on interstate gun purchases, and in Congress he voted repeatedly to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits. Naturally, he’s got an A rating from the fine folks at the NRA.

He’s also a big supporter of the Iraq war.

Pence has been an unwavering champion of the “War on Drugs,” the FAILest policy that ever FAILed, responsible for countless deaths, unfathomable miseries and untold millions of destroyed lives. SCHIP, the nation’s health insurance program for poor children, is also a favorite target: he voted multiple times to deny its expansion. And for what it’s worth, he doesn’t care much for non-human life either, having voted to deauthorize “critical habitat” zones for endangered species.

Now none of that is surprising, because people who understand how words work know that “pro-life” doesn’t mean anything of the sort. But I have to hand it to this asshole. He surprised even me with this shit: denying that cigarettes are dangerous, in exchange for large campaign contributions from Big Tobacco. In an astonishing editorial he wrote while running for congress in The Year of Our Lard 2000, he wrote:

“Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”

WHAT. I mean, the jury’s been in on that question since at least 1964.

At a later debate, he clarified exactly what he meant by that statement: that “there was no causal link medically identifying smoking as causing lung cancer.”


As governor of Indiana, Pence has created quite the legacy for himself on behalf of his cigarette manufacturer friends.

Indiana’s public health has paid the price. In 2015, Pence signed a law making it easier to create cigar bars in the state. And his administration slashed the already small amount of the tobacco tax and settlement money available for smoking prevention and cessation in 2013, well below the CDC’s recommended levels. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, “Funding for Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation was down to $8 million per year when Pence took office in January 2013. And within his first week, the Pence administration slashed the agency’s budget to $5 million.”

Indiana now has the highest adult smoking rates of any state in the industrial midwest region and the seventh highest smoking rate in the nation. With among the lowest tobacco taxes of any state, public health experts warn the state is “really in bad shape.” Indeed a 2014 article noted that 17 percent of pregnant women smoke — nearly double the national average — and this has been linked to lower birth weights and higher rates of infant mortality. As a result, it noted, “the state spends $28 million a year on health costs for infants born to mothers who smoke.”

“Pro-life,” everyone.


  1. cubist says

    Well, we don’t actually know that smoking causes cancer.

    We do know that for a ridiculously long list of ailments & conditions, people who smoke come down with those ailments & conditions at significantly higher rates than people who don’t smoke. And we know that for a ridiculously long list of ailments & conditions, there’s an undeniable statistical correlation between How Long You Been Smoking and How Bad This Ailment/Condition Is Fucking You up. And we know that smokers who stop smoking absolutely do see improvements in a ridiculously long list of ailments & conditions.

    But we do not yet know the specific biochemical mechanism(s) which underlie the aforementioned facts. So, Pence is technically correct—”the best kind of correct!”—to say that “there was no causal link medically identifying smoking as causing lung cancer”. There’s just, you know, this preposterously massive pile of statistical correlations that all point in the direction of smoking fucks up your body, dude. And as we all know, correlation is not proof of causation, amiright?

  2. dianne says

    If I read a dystopian novel where the president was a washed up reality TV star who was threatening genocide against multiple ethnic and/or religious groups and the VP was a pro-life extremist backed by the tobacco industry, I’d stop reading because it had obviously gone past the point of realistic concern about the way society is heading and fallen into paranoia. I mean tobacco? Come on! Smoking has become the universal sign of villainy in movies. A tobacco company executive who is anything other than the big bad or maybe the comic relief incompetent villain is unthinkable. And people are going to vote for someone backed by these guys? Get real!

    Apparently, I have once more lowballed how crazy the US can be.

  3. cubist says

    It’s really quite simple, dianne @2: Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense.

  4. dianne says

    Cubist: It makes a bizarre sort of sense, though, that Trump should choose someone evil for his running mate. It’s just all far more dystopian than I’d ever dare suggest in a work of fiction.

  5. dianne says

    One other random point re this: “SCHIP, the nation’s health insurance program for poor children, is also a favorite target: he voted multiple times to deny its expansion.”

    SCHIP saves money as well as improving the health of children. There is no reason to refuse to expand it except a desire to punish poor people, specifically children. Literally none. It saves the taxpayers money. It decreases public health problems. Where is the downside?

  6. Raucous Indignation says

    Cubist, you are wrong. As the Simple Country Doctor of Nofunnington, I have to note that SWOG, for instance, defines a “non-smoker” for research purposes as an individual who has smoked less than 30 cigarettes – 30 individual cigarettes over a lifetime. That is because we can detect the earliest mutations caused by smoking in lung tissue soon after that amount of smoking. We know the molecular basis of the damage caused by smoking-related DNA and protein adducts. And we know the progression of mutation that leads to malignancy. Some of that work goes back decades. Do not give Pence cover for his disgusting evil actions. There is not even a thin veil of “truthiness” to his vile and malignant assertions.

  7. johnson catman says

    Dianne @5:
    Truth is the downside. The republicans reject so much truth and evidence holds no sway on them. The fact that comprehensive sex-education and easy access to birth control prevents abortions makes no difference to their anti-abortion position. For freaks sake, they have declared that coal is a clean energy source!