TB News January 5, 2018

Jan 05 2019

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. January 5, 2019:”Given the enormous uproar Trump is causing on the domestic American political scene with his bogus wall,his employer, Vladimir Putin must be enjoying him and considering the bribe money paid to Trump for similar disruptions to be money well spent. Now, Trump’s list of dangerous enemies looks like a guide to official Washington and there is now betting inside the Beltway that Trump’s survival, let alone any political power he might have, will, like the book title, be gone with the wind. Trump is used to ordering his underlings around and he considers the entire United States government to be paid flunkies to be screamed at and fired at will.”

The Table of Contents

  • 815 false claims: The staggering scale of Donald Trump’s pre-midterm dishonesty No 8
  • Trump’s border wall demand is constitutionally illegitimate
  • Trump threatens years-long government shutdown, emergency powers to build wall
  • It won’t be easy. But Trump will lose ‘bigly’ on immigration
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • The Official Government Mortgage Scam ,
  • Eight Hundred Years of Glory: A short history of Christianity
  • DoTox G.m.b.H.

 815 false claims: The staggering scale of Donald Trump’s pre-midterm dishonesty No 8

November 15, 2018

by Daniel Dale Washington Bureau Chief

Toronto Star

WASHINGTON—It took Donald Trump until the 286th day of his presidency to make 815 false claims.

He just made another 815 false claims in a month.

In the 31 days leading up to the midterm elections on Nov. 6, Trump went on a lying spree like we have never seen before even from him — an outrageous barrage of serial dishonesty in which he obliterated all of his old records.

How bad have these recent weeks been?

  • Trump made 664 false claims in October. That was double his previous record for a calendar month, 320 in August.
  • Trump averaged 26.3 false claims per day in the month leading up to the midterm on Nov. 6. In 2017, he averaged 2.9 per day.
  • Trump made more false claims in the two months leading up to the midterms (1,176), than he did in all of 2017 (1,011).
  • The three most dishonest single days of Trump’s presidency were the three days leading up to the midterms: 74 on election eve, Nov. 5; 58 on Nov. 3; 54 on Nov. 4.

As always, Trump was being more frequently dishonest in part because he was simply speaking more. He had three campaign rallies on Nov. 5, the day before he set the record, and eight more rallies over the previous five days.

But it was not only quantity. Trump packed his rally speeches with big new lies, repeatedly reciting wildly inaccurate claims about migrants, Democrats’ views on immigration and health care, and his own record. Unlike many of his lies, lots of these ones were written into the text of his speeches.

Trump is now up to 3,749 false claims for the first 661 days of his presidency, an average of 4.4 per day.

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

 

  • Oct 16, 2018

 

“Medicare for All is a total lie… It’ll turn our country into a Venezuela, but that won’t actually happen because I will never let it happen.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Single-payer health care would not turn America into Venezuela. Canada, among many other countries, has such a system while retaining a capitalist economy.

“Now that her claims of being of Indian heritage have turned out to be a scam and a lie, Elizabeth Warren should apologize for perpetrating this fraud against the American Public. Harvard called her “a person of color” (amazing con), and would not have taken her otherwise!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The Boston Globe reported: “In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren’s professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.” The Globe continued: “The Globe closely reviewed the records, verified them where possible, and conducted more than 100 interviews with her colleagues and every person who had a role in hiring decisions about Warren who could be reached. In sum, it is clear that Warren was viewed as a white woman by the hiring committees at every institution that employed her.” At the University of Pennsylvania, the hiring committee explained at length at the time why they chose to hire a white woman over minority candidates; “not until she had been teaching at Penn for two years did she authorize the university to change her personnel designation from white to Native American, the records show.” At Harvard University, “Warren first listed her ethnicity as Native American nearly five months after she started her tenured position at Harvard and 2½ years after she was there as a visiting professor and first offered the job.” Also, a Stanford University professor who conducted a DNA test on Warren concluded that “the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor” six to 10 generations in the past. The analysis found that almost all of Warren’s ancestors were European, and many Native Americans reject the suggestion that a distant Native ancestor can qualify a person as any part Native. But it is not true that she has no Native heritage at all.

“We’re getting the wall. We’ve already started building it.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started. When Trump has claimed in the past that wall construction has begun, he has appeared to be referring to projects in which existing fencing is being replaced. The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump has proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction.

 

“I mean, look, in terms of meddling, Obama was told in September, just prior to the election, that Russia was trying to meddle in the election. He didn’t do anything about it he didn’t even say anything about it. He only brings it up after the election. That should be your investigation. Why didn’t he do something about it. Here’s the good news, it didn’t affect one vote, but Obama was to — and everybody agrees to that, but Obama was told before the election in September by the FBI about Russia and possible Russian meddling. You know what he did? Nothing.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: While Obama has been widely faulted, including by many Democrats, for not responding more aggressively when he was informed of the reported Russian interference in the 2016 election, it is not true that he did “nothing” in response and “didn’t even say anything about it.” In October 2016, a month before the election, the administration issued an extraordinary statement attributing the election interference to “Russia’s senior-most officials.” According to a comprehensive Washington Post story, Obama and his officials also delivered a series of warnings to Russia: CIA director John Brennan warned his Russian counterpart in August 2016; “a month later, Obama confronted Putin directly during a meeting of world leaders in Hangzhou, China”; national security adviser Susan Rice summoned the Russian ambassador to the White House in October “and handed him a message to relay to Putin”; “then, on Oct. 31, the administration delivered a final pre-election message via a secure channel to Moscow originally created to avert a nuclear exchange.” Obama reportedly also sought to get Republicans and Democrats to sign on to a joint statement denouncing the Russian interference; former Obama officials have alleged that Republican leaders refused to agree to participate.

“Richard Burr, the other day, they asked him, he’s the head of the Senate Intelligence. And they asked him, ‘Did you see collusion?’ ‘No. I see no collusion.’ He just said that, you know, he…they haven’t issued their final report but he said there was no collusion…There was no collusion, but Richard Burr, they asked him the other day, during. actually the floods in North Carolina, South Carolina, they said, ‘What about this committee?’ He said, ‘We have found no collusion.’”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: Burr, a Republican, himself pointed out that Trump’s claim is false. He did not make his comments on collusion “the other day”; it was a month ago. (Trump regularly moves up the date of good news to make it sound fresher.) More importantly, he did not flatly declare that there was no collusion. His actual September comments: “I can say as it relates to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation that we have no hard evidence of collusion. Now, we’re not over. That leaves the opportunity that we might find something that we don’t have today.” After Trump began mischaracterizing his remarks in October, Burr told CNN: “The president’s using a quote from three weeks ago, that you heard that I said we didn’t have any hard evidence. That’s fine. But we have a lot of investigation left.”

“We’ll see what happens (with Attorney General Jeff Sessions). But I think it was a disgrace. And by the way, my enemies, people that are on the other side, say for him to have taken the job and for him to immediately have recused himself is a disgrace. They say, ‘Trump is right about that.’”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: There is no evidence that Trump’s enemies have ever said this.

“It’s nothing more than a witch hunt. And most people get it, including Democrats. They wink at me. They look at me, they wink at me. The Democrats get it too.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: There is no evidence that Democrats agree that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is a baseless “witch hunt.” We have seen no corroborating evidence for Trump’s claim that Democrats give him knowing winks that tell him they agree with him on the issue.

“They (Saudi Arabia) made the largest order in the history of a country for outside — outside of our country for — for weapons for any kinds of military weapons missile systems, ships, they’re buying…From us. $110 billion dollars in purchasing. It’s 500,000 jobs, American jobs. Everything’s made here.” And: “So we want to be smart. I don’t want to give up a $110 billion order or whatever it is. It’s the largest order ever given by an outside country. OK. And I don’t want to give that up.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: There is no basis for the claim that Saudi Arabia’s business deals with the U.S. will produce “500,000 jobs” or “over a million jobs.” (The White House did not respond to a request for an explanation from U.S. website Axios.) As we explained in a separate fact check, there is no basis for the claim that there are “$450 billion” in total orders or “$110 billion” in military orders. Trump has increased his jobs estimates from “over 40,000” jobs in March to “450,000 jobs” on Oct. 13 to 500,000 jobs on Oct. 17 to 600,000 jobs on Oct. 19, the day he also introduced the “over a million jobs” claim. Reuters reported: “An internal document seen by Reuters from Lockheed Martin forecasts fewer than 1,000 positions would be created by the defense contractor, which could potentially deliver around $28 billion of goods in the deal. Lockheed instead predicts the deal could create nearly 10,000 new jobs in Saudi Arabia, while keeping up to 18,000 existing U.S. workers busy if the whole package comes together — an outcome experts say is unlikely.”

“They (Saudi Arabia) made the largest order in the history of a country for outside — outside of our country for — for weapons for any kinds of military weapons missile systems, ships, they’re buying…From us. $110 billion dollars in purchasing. It’s 500,000 jobs, American jobs. Everything’s made here.” And: “So we want to be smart. I don’t want to give up a $110 billion order or whatever it is. It’s the largest order ever given by an outside country. OK. And I don’t want to give that up.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: As the Associated Press and others noted, there has never been evidence that Trump has secured even close to $110 billion in Saudi military purchases. The AP wrote: “Trump’s wrong to suggest that he has $110 billion in military orders from Saudi Arabia. A far smaller amount in sales has actually been signed…Details of the $110 billion arms package, partly negotiated under the Obama administration and agreed upon in May 2017, have been sketchy. At the time the Trump administration provided only a broad description of the defense equipment that would be sold. There was no public breakdown of exactly what was being offered for sale and for how much…The Pentagon said this month that Saudi Arabia has signed ‘letters of offer and acceptance’ for only $14.5 billion in sales, including helicopters, tanks, ships, weapons and training. Those letters, issued after the U.S. government has approved a proposed sale, specify its terms…Trump’s repeated claims that he’s signed $110 billion worth of new arms sales to Riyadh are ‘just not true,’ said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution and former CIA and Defense Department official.”

“You have to understand that Democrats have programs that are a total waste of money. But in order to get the military $700 billion and $716 billion, I had to do it. Because President Obama starved the military. He didn’t give them raises, he didn’t give them anything. I gave them a 10 per cent pay increase, they haven’t had it in a decade.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: Obama gave members of the military a pay increase every year of his eight-year tenure. Military Times reported when Trump first started making such claims: “In fact, troops have seen a pay raise of at least 1 per cent every year for more than 30 years.” Trump’s increase for 2019, 2.6 per cent, is the largest in nine years – since the 3.4 per cent increase under Obama in 2010.

“Right now I’ve put tariffs on $250 billion worth of products, right. Nobody’s feeling that. There’s no inflation or anything in this country.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: “Nobody’s feeling that” and “there’s no inflation” are both exaggerations. Numerous companies have said that they have been hurt by Trump’s tariffs and have had to raise prices. Plus, many farmers have been hurt by China’s retaliatory tariffs on soybeans and other products. The most recent inflation rate at the time Trump spoke was 2.3 per cent.

“I really think the economy is going to bring people together because people are doing better now. African-American unemployment, the best ever. Asian-American. Hispanic American.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: The unemployment rate for African-Americans and Hispanics was indeed at a record low, at least for the period since the government began releasing data for this group in the 1970s. The Asian-American unemployment rate, however, was not close to a record. It briefly dropped to a low, 2.0 per cent, in May — A low, at least, since the government began issuing Asian-American data in 2000 — but the most recent rate at the time Trump spoke, for September, was 3.5 per cent. This was higher than the rate in Obama’s last full month in office — 2.8 per cent in December 2016 — and in multiple months of George W. Bush’s second term.

“Well, you know, it’s got a big setback with Justice Kavanaugh. Number one at Yale, number one at Yale Law School. You know, just like this person.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Trish Regan

in fact: As a Yale undergraduate, Kavanaugh graduated cum laude, which means he was not first in his class; other students graduated summa cum laude and magna cum laude. Yale Law School’s grading system does not allow the calculation of class rankings at all.

Question: “You saw the numbers, the coverage in the last couple of days about deficits. That the projected deficit is a trillion dollars. You railed on President Obama over deficits.” Mr. Trump: “Excuse me. No. 1, I had to take care of our military. I had no choice but to do it, and I want to take care of our military. We had to do things that we had to do. And I’ve done them. Now we’re going to start bringing numbers down. We also have tremendous numbers with regard to hurricanes and fires and the tremendous forest fires all over.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: The New York Times reported: “Disaster relief funding accounted for a very small percentage of the ballooning budget deficit. And while military spending did rise under Mr. Trump, the $1.5 trillion tax cut he signed into law was much more of a factor…The budget office estimated that the tax law added $164 billion to the deficit. In comparison, military spending contributed $23 billion and disaster relief $38 billion, said Maya MacGuineas, the president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.”

“So we had 4.2 (per cent growth) last month, last quarter. And everybody said ‘that’s impossible, because the most you can go is 2,’ and you know very slowly, but it would never be up to that number, we had 4.2.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: It is not true that everybody said it was impossible to achieve growth in one quarter of more than 2 per cent. There were three such quarters in 2015 and 2016, the two years before Trump took office.

“Do you know these Russian hackers you’re talking about from Moscow? They have nothing to do with me. How many people are they? Only 28 people? They have nothing to do with me. They were hackers from Moscow. Some of them supported Hillary Clinton. They had nothing to do with me. You look at all the stuff, it’s just nothing to do with me.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: U.S. prosecutors have presented evidence that the Russian government directed an extensive hacking operation designed to benefit Trump. There is no evidence that the hackers preferred Clinton.

“Now President Obama had the same law; he did the same thing. And, in fact, the picture of children living in cages that was taken in 2014 was a picture of President Obama’s administration and the way they handled children. They had the kids living in cages. They thought it was our administration and they used it and then unbeknownst to them and the fake news, they found out, ‘Oh my God, this is a terrible situation.’ This was during the Obama administration.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: Obama did not do “the same thing.” While Obama administration policies did result in some parents being separated from children — former Obama officials say this happened in exceptional circumstances like the parent being found carrying drugs — it was Trump who decided to attempt to criminally prosecute everyone found crossing the border illegally. This decision resulted in the routine separation of parents and children, which did not occur under Obama.

“So congratulations to them, but I wish they would have left the entire answer. When people enter our country illegally, there are consequences to pay. But despite the consequences, you have many children that, sadly, are there without parents. Then you have people that grab children and use them as a prop and it’s a disgrace. And they come in with a child and they don’t even know who the child is five hours before. And that’s a shame. That’s a terrible thing what they do.” And: “They take children and they use them to try and come into our country.” And: “Here’s the thing. I think we’ve done an incredible job with children. As I just said, we’ve taken children who have no parents with them standing on the border. We’ve taken many children, and I’m not talking about a small percentage, I’m talking about a very large percentage where they have no people, no parents. In addition to that, we’re separating children who are just met by people that are using them coming into the border, not their parents.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: The U.S. government has presented no evidence for Trump’s repeat suggestion that there are frequent cases in which strangers “grab children” they have never met in an attempt to fraudulently gain entry. The Department of Homeland Security told the Washington Post that there were a mere 46 cases of fraud of this kind (“individuals using minors to pose as fake family units”) in the 2017 fiscal year, 191 cases in the first five months of the 2018 fiscal year. That was an increase, but these cases were still nowhere near the norm: “there were 75,622 family units apprehended at the border in fiscal 2017,” the Post reported, “and 31,102 in the first five months of this fiscal year.” In other words, the alleged fraud cases represented a tiny fraction. Also, it is far from clear that the fraud cases involved people grabbing children they haven’t known “for 20 minutes.” As Vox reported, the government classifies family claims as fraudulent when “the adult isn’t the parent or legal guardian of the child they’re traveling with — even if it’s a grandparent who is raising the child as their own,” or when “the family’s documentation can’t be verified by the embassy of the family’s home country.”

“This (the allegation of collusion with Russia) was an excuse made by the Democrats for the reason they lost the Electoral College, which gives them a big advantage — a big advantage. And: “But winning the Electoral College is a tremendous advantage for the Democrats. And this was an excuse for how they lost the election. How they lost an election they should have won.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: Trump’s frequent claim about the Electoral College continues to be nonsensical. It is obviously false that the presidential election system is set up in a way that favours Democrats. Six of the last nine presidents, all of whom except for Gerald Ford had to win an Electoral College election, have been Republicans. (Also, Democrats did not invent the accusation of Russian election intervention as a post-election excuse; U.S. intelligence agencies announced during the campaign that they believed Russia was interfering, and the FBI during the campaign opened its investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia.)

“We’re using Russia to help me win the great state of Iowa or anywhere else is the most preposterous, embarrassing thing. And I will say that the Democrats know it and they wink. They’re all laughing.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: There is no evidence that Democrats agree that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is a baseless “witch hunt.” We have seen no corroborating evidence for Trump’s claim that Democrats give him knowing winks that tell him they agree with him on the issue.

“I won a case yesterday, a big case. They (Stormy Daniels) sued. Got thrown out. And not only did they get thrown out, but I get legal fees, which is quite unusual, because the case is so obnoxious and so wrong. And I give tremendous credit to the judge. And not only that, we go by Texas law. Texas law says you get every penny that you spent. Texas law is very tough for the legal fees.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: It is not “quite unusual” for the judge to order the losing side in a Texas defamation lawsuit to pay the legal fees of the winning side, lawyers in Texas say. “The judge in the Daniels defamation case dismissed the lawsuit under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, or TCPA. The TCPA allows for early dismissal of a lawsuit based on the exercise of expressive rights, such as the right to free speech. The TCPA requires a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to a defendant who wins a motion to dismiss filed under TCPA. So, it’s not at all ‘unusual,’ but rather the law that a defendant who gets a defamation case tossed under the TCPA recovers at least some attorney’s fees,” said Austin lawyer JT Morris.

“And Michael Cohen was a PR person who did small legal work, very small legal work. And what he did was very sad, when you look. By the way, he was in trouble not for what he did for me; he was in trouble for what he did for himself. You do know that? Having to do with loans, mortgages, taxicabs and various other things, if you read the paper. He wasn’t in trouble for what he did for me; he was in trouble for what he did for other people. He represented me very little. It’s a very low-level. And what he was is also a public relations person. And now if he wants to try and get a little bit lighter sentence for what he did…Totally uninvolved. I wasn’t involved and he had other clients, No. 1. And No. 2, he was a contractor to a large extent. But Michael Cohen, if you take a look at what he did, this had to do with loans, and I guess the taxi industry is something that I have nothing to do with, he did this on his own time.”

Source: Interview with the Associated Press

in fact: Cohen was executive vice-president and special counsel to Trump at the Trump Organization, Trump’s company, not a “low-level” player or a mere “PR person.” Two of the crimes to which he pleaded guilty were directly “to do with” Trump: campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments intended to silence two women who claimed they had sex with Trump. He alleged that he made the payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump.

 

Trump’s border wall demand is constitutionally illegitimate

No reading of our constitution would ever uphold the view that a president can stop the functioning of government, to insist upon a program unsupported by the public

January 4, 2019

by Lawrence Lessig

The Guardian

It feels quaint – maybe a bit absurd – to remark the fact that Donald Trump has no constitutionally moral justification for his demand that Congress fund the building of a wall on the Mexican border. Such an argument feels absurd when made against this president. Yet it should not be insignificant to Congress.

The president ran on a promise to build a wall “paid for by Mexico”. No majority of Americans has ever voted to support that idea. But that idea is not the notion that is now shutting down the government. A wall paid for by taxpayers is. That wall certainly was a central issue in the 2018 midterm elections. Overwhelmingly, the public rejected it as well. Thus has the president earned public support for neither version of his Mexican wall. Yet he is using his veto power to demand that Americans pay for a wall before he will allow the government to reopen.

The American constitution does not contemplate such presidential unilateralism, at least unsupported by the public’s will or the constitution. Perhaps the most salient historical parallel is President Andrew Johnson’s insistence that he had the constitutional right to control (and effectively stop) reconstruction after the civil war. Like Trump, Johnson insisted on his power; like Trump, he campaigned across the country to rally the nation to his view; like Trump, his view was overwhelmingly rejected at the polls; like Trump, nevertheless, he persisted – until a Congress, exhausted by his recalcitrance, impeached him and came within a single vote of conviction.

History has taught that Johnson had the better argument constitutionally, at least on the narrow question that ultimately determined his fate – whether the president has an unconstrained right to fire executive officers. But no reading of our constitution would ever uphold the view that a president can morally stop the functioning of government, to insist upon a program unsupported by the public or unrequired by the constitution.

Of all the constitutional norms that this president has upset, this, ultimately, may be the most significant. And it is this innovation that the Republicans especially should check. For do they now concur in the precedent that a president has the constitutional authority to insist upon whatever policy he likes, regardless of its support in the public? If a Democrat were elected on the promise to establish single-payer healthcare, does she then have the moral authority to shut down the government until Congress nationalizes the insurance industry? Or directly regulates pharmaceuticals? If she were elected on the promise to address climate change, can she stop the ordinary functioning of government until Congress passes a carbon tax?

The partisan gridlock of Washington has already sorely tested the framer’s system of checks and balances. We are, already, in the words of Francis Fukuyama, a veto-ocracy. Gone is the norm of governance, where both sides recognize their duty to come to terms with the other. Petulance is confused with principle. And the institutions of this constitutional democracy are critically weakened in the mix.

No doubt, the idea of a president elected by the people exercising the people’s will against a recalcitrant Congress has longstanding pedigree. But this president does not act for the people. He does not act to defend the constitution. He acts to avoid, as he acknowledged to Senator Chuck Schumer, “seeming foolish”.

Yet Trump is certainly not the fool in this tragedy. The fools are they who enable this constitutional immorality. Those fools are the Senate Republicans, who have placed party over country, and President Trump over the Republican party.

 

Trump threatens years-long government shutdown, emergency powers to build wall

January 4, 2019

by Richard Cowan and  Jeff Mason

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump threatened to keep the U.S. government partially shut for months or years on Friday after he and Democratic leaders failed to resolve their dispute over Trump’s request for $5.6 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border.

After Democratic congressional leaders refused Trump’s requests at a meeting in the White House Situation Room, the Republican president threatened to take the controversial step of declaring a national emergency and building the wall without congressional approval.

Trump is withholding his support for a bill that would fully fund the government until he secures money for the wall. As a result, around 800,000 public workers have been unpaid, with about a quarter of the federal government closed for two weeks.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats had told Trump during the meeting to end the shutdown. “He resisted,” Schumer said. “In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”

Trump confirmed that comment but painted a more positive picture of the meeting, the first since a new era of divided government began when Democrats took control of the House of Representatives on Thursday.

“We had a very, very productive meeting, and we’ve come a long way,” Trump said.

According to a source familiar with the White House discussion, Trump opened the meeting with a speech that lasted at least 15 minutes in which he insisted on the need for billions of dollars to fund a border wall.

The source also said Trump brought up recent impeachment threats during those remarks, arguing that he had notched a strong performance as president and should not be a target for impeachment.

The president later told reporters that Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, said Democrats were not looking to impeach him.

NATIONAL EMERGENCY?

Raising the stakes in his tussle with the newly emboldened Democrats, Trump threatened extraordinary measures to build the wall, which he says is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into the United States.

A reporter asked Trump whether he had considered declaring a national emergency to build the wall.

“Yes, I have. And I can do it if I want,” Trump said. “We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country … I may do it. But we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. And it’s another way of doing it. But if we can do it through a negotiated process, we’re giving that a shot.”

Emergency powers have been invoked by previous U.S. presidents during times of war.

Senator Jack Reed, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized the comments, saying in a statement, “Declaring a trumped up national emergency in order to skirt congressional approval is wrong.”

The U.S. Constitution assigns Congress the power to fund the federal government, so Trump likely would face legal challenges if he tried to bypass Congress on financing the wall. Building a wall – and having Mexico pay for it – was one of Trump’s main promises when he ran for president in 2016.

Trump’s wall project is estimated to cost about $23 billion.

Democrats have called the wall immoral, ineffective and medieval.

Pelosi said Friday’s meeting with Trump was “sometimes contentious” but that they agreed to continue talking.

“But we recognize on the Democratic side that we really cannot resolve this until we open up government and we made that very clear to the president,” she said.

Credit rating agency Moody’s said the shutdown will cause minimal U.S. economic and credit market disruption but there could be a more severe impact on financial markets and the broad economy if the closure is protracted.

A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll last week showed that 50 percent of the public blames Trump for the shutdown and 7 percent blames Republican lawmakers, while 32 percent blames Democrats.

In a Dec. 11 meeting with Pelosi and Schumer, Trump said he would be “proud” to shut the government over the security issue and would not blame Democrats. He has since said they are responsible.

White House officials and congressional staffers will meet at 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) on Saturday to try to end the impasse, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters that Trump had named Vice President Mike Pence, senior aide Jared Kushner and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to work over the weekend.

The partial shutdown is straining the country’s immigration system, worsening backlogs in courts and complicating hiring for employers.

Federal agencies such as the Justice Department, Commerce Department and departments of Agriculture, Labor, Interior and Treasury have been hit by the shutdown.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal, a Democrat, asked the Internal Revenue Service in a letter on Friday to explain the possible effects of the shutdown on the upcoming tax filing season for millions of Americans.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Susan Cornwell, Tim Ahmann and Lisa Lambert; Writing by Alistair Bell and Jeff Mason; Editing by Bill Trott, Rosalba O’Brien and Sandra Maler

It won’t be easy. But Trump will lose ‘bigly’ on immigration

Trump wants to keep the nation divided. It won’t work – but it will get worse before it gets better

January 5, 2019

by Art Cullen

The Guardian

Donald Trump has declared that immigration and a border wall will be the centerpiece of his 2020 re-election campaign, promising us nearly two years of misery.

He shut down the government over his demand for $5bn for the wall, although the billions already appropriated haven’t been spent. He has stepped up persecution of refugees properly seeking legal asylum at points of entry. When children die while in border patrol custody, the head of the Department of Homeland Security says they are bringing disease with them. Steve King, my north-west Iowa Republican congressman, referred to immigrants as dirt.

This is not going to let up.

There will be no resolution to the limbo of Dreamers – children brought to the US by their undocumented parents. You can’t negotiate border security versus Dreamers with Trump because he lies, has the attention span of a water bug and can’t let go of a leverage point.

Nancy Pelosi may control the House, but she does not control the fearmongering Freedom Caucus of 30-plus House Republicans who have sway over the tweeter-in-chief. They are among the only people he fears. A reasonable resolution of our immigration problems does not serve their interests.

Families will be chained. Petitions will be filed, federal judges will rule and border patrol will let people die to prove a point.

You could wish Our Lady of Guadalupe would somehow swoop in and smite them all. She remains the only protector, in that she promises relief and justice somewhere sometime, and makes the thirsty think: “Death, where is thy sting?”

When that is the best hope, that death overcomes this bondage, you wonder what liberties we are maintaining.

We have been herding and ethnically cleansing indigenous people since the Ioway roamed the Raccoon river valley. It has always worked. We create a “them” to fight, who endanger our security and raid our larder and diminish the claim we stole from them.

Yet the images tend to gnaw at people who know better, which is most of us. In Storm Lake, we have come to understand what our neighbors have been through and appreciate that they are here, buoying a rural community that otherwise would wither with the rest. But the main narrative is that refugees somehow erode what Storm Lake or Iowa is, when in fact they affirm the American immigration story. Just what are we about?

So it is good to have that debate full-out.

Republicans are embarrassed by King and Trump. We hear talk of the state GOP power apparatus looking to fund a primary challenge to King. They should consult Rick Bertrand of Sioux City, who managed about 35% support in his 2016 primary. And, they should consider that the leader of their party, the president, is in lockstep with King. How can you reject King and wave a banner for Trump?

King will be out there, and so will the three-fourths of Iowans who want to see a pathway to citizenship for the strangers among us.

That’s bad arithmetic for a congressman who cleared JD Scholten by three points.

In the heart of King country, dairy farmers are finding that immigrants are handy help at cleaning time. Their consciences cringe just a little when King slanders Mexican teens. They would like a more orderly system, too. Secretly, they might cast a vote for Scholten. Or they might not vote for King and Trump.

Immigration hence will color the Democratic presidential debate that is under way in Iowa. They should approach it as a human rights campaign, because that’s what it has become. People are dying at the border because we are changing the rules. Their hope: that they could land a job scooping manure in Amarillo or throwing turkeys on to a truck through sleet in the dead of an Iowa winter’s night. Those who make it live in constant fear, even if they have legitimate papers.

There are many people of good will in Washington working on a solution. There cannot be one until this politics of hate is put down, again, as Americans have put it down before. It will get worse before it gets better. This campaign will be among the worst we have seen because the president has determined it is the best way to keep the nation divided.

It won’t work.

The stock market is telling him to back off. The midterm elections told him to back off. People from around the globe resettled in Denison, Storm Lake and Marshalltown, Iowa, are getting along fine cutting meat. They don’t like the uncertainty any more than Wall Street does. We all know that the problem is in Latin American poverty and oppression and our own demand for drugs, and in the fact that nobody wants to scoop manure for $10 an hour any more except for the undocumented. So let’s have that debate and vote on it, and let the Democrats answer with a fuller throat than Hillary Clinton could clear. This is liberty and humanity versus fear and intolerance. Trump loses. Bigly.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

January 5, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

 

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

 

Conversation No. 104

Date: Wednesday, September 10, 1997

Commenced: 11:14 AM CST

Concluded: 11:30 AM CST

RTC: Gregory, I have just finished reading over the latest Mueller material. I think you have done a wonderful job with this, I really do. Bill wanted to see it but I said you wanted it right back. If he got his hands on it, off to the Xerox machines and it would be all over the District. But what I wanted to discuss with you is the very strong probability, based on what I have been hearing, that you will never expand your readership beyond its present level.

GD: Bender does well.

RTC: How big a customer list does he have?

GD: About thirty five hundred.

RTC: And does he do any national advertising?

GD: No, just within his own circles.

RTC: In other words, not in any of the major book stores, right?

GD: Oh, I suppose if a customer came in and made a special order, they could get it for him but not to carry it.

RTC: Ah, you see there. So as informative and very readable though it might be, no major publishing house would ever dare to print the Mueller material nor, most especially, advertise it nationally. And believe it, Gregory, that even if some big house printed it, it would never see the light of day. Why? Because our people would block it. It’s that simple. They would ruin you as they have ruined many other authors who have gone before you for daring to speak ill of them. Can you imagine the New York Times reviewing it? I think not. I think not ever. One phone call from us and into the wastebasket with any kind of commentary, good or bad. Gregory, the blanket of silence would descend upon you, believe me. Silly idealists somehow believe we have a free press here but it is as tightly controlled as it is in Russia or it was in Hitler’s Germany. Oh yes, the paper out in Podunk, Kansas is not controlled but all it talks about are whose cow won a prize at the state fair and how the local football team is doing. No, those papers are not controlled because no one but a bunch of hicks read them. But the AP, all the major papers, magazines, publishing houses and television people are under tight control. The rumor about the Jews owning all the papers is only partially correct. The media is owned by corporations. Yes, Jews have a strong say in both corporations and the industry but they do not control it. Corporations control the media. If some article injures any one of them, or has the potential to do so, the article ends up in the trash along with the reporter. I know the New York Times does just what we wish them to do, print what we wish them to print and kill off any story we tell them to. Besides, we control the AP and all across the country, many of the national and international news stories come direct from the AP.

GD: I know. I was a newspaperman once. Boiler plate. Smaller papers can’t afford to have  reporters in Moscow or Washington so they depend entirely on the AP for such news.

RTC: Yes, it’s a very effective choke point. The public are fed pap and contrived stories and nothing, not a word, gets out that we don’t want out. And I am afraid that this will apply to your books. Sell them door to door or to a few military historians via your friend Mr. Bender but no matter how well-written they are and no matter how many uncomfortable truths they may reveal, I am afraid you will never, ever, get rich as a writer. Whispering campaigns will start about you and even though I know that your Mueller Gestapo boss worked for us…Christ I had lunch with him at the Jockey Club once and the Metropolitan Club twice….no one in Washington will ever mention this. And I have heard that they are now frantically trying to find out if you have any papers on this. They can make snide dismissal comments but they are really frightened that you might have something to prove that the head of Hitler’s secret police not only worked for the Company but lived in luxury in Georgetown. Jesus, the Hebrews would scream so loud the Capitol dome would collapse. And not to mention the entire left wing of both coasts. No, enjoy yourself while you can because the blanket is about to come down. They won’t shoot you because if no one outside a small group of people ever hears about your activities with a typewriter, why should they care. And don’t talk to Kimmel or Bill about any of this because neither of them are your friend. Anything you say goes right out the other door. Have you read over the Kennedy assassination material yet?

GD: Working on it.

RTC: Well, it’s a forlorn hope, Gregory, forlorn.

GD: Well, I don’t think a hack like Steven Ambrose would dare to tread outside the fixed boundaries of official history. Of course, I recommend Ambrose books to my friends because if you buy any Steven Ambrose book, you get at least five other books at the same time.

RTC: (Laughter) Well, Hitler and Stalin had their state historians and we have ours.

GD: And old Winnie Churchill wrote all about how wonderful he was and called it history.

RTC: But just a little word here about not elevating your expectations. They are watching you, Gregory, and you might consider another line of work.

GD: Oh, I can be very creative, Robert, and believe me, I am vicious as hell when I choose to be. I have enough on some of these people to have them hanged in public and they can push and I will shove. It will all come out in the wash, I think. And do you think some fat pin head with a ski mask will shoot me in a shopping mall? Maybe twenty years ago but the CIA people I have run into over the past few years are a bunch of gutless faggots who might gang up on me and hit me with their purses but nothing more serious than that. True, they have made trouble for me but believe me, I have also made trouble for them.  If I ever meet you somewhere, I can tell you some wonderful stories. Sometime we can talk about the story of the pinheaded SEAL in Berlin and how he came to be tossed out of the country. I have lots of nice stories like that. Well, I am still working up the Mueller things and I agree with you although my tattered idealism still gives me some hope that justice will prevail. If it doesn’t, why I might become very annoyed. Well, we shall see. And no, I never tell Kimmel or Corson a thing and no, I do not trust either of them and yes, I know they run bleating to higher authority when I tell them some secret. Actually, I rather enjoy the little game but it is a bit like playing chess with a blind man as an opponent, A little unfair but then so is life.

 

(Concluded 11:30 AM CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

The Official Government Mortgage Scam

January 5, 2019

by Christian Jürs

This is rapidly becoming a decade of official deceit and public disillusion.

The issue under discussion here is MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System).

MERS, set up by the government  in 1995, now claims to be a privately-held company and their official function is stated to be ‘keeping track of a confidential electronic registry of mortgages and the modifications to servicing rights and ownership of the loans.’  MERS is actually a U.S. government initiated organization like Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and its current shareholders include AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, WaMu, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, GMAC, Guaranty Bank, and Merrill Lynch. All of these entities have been intimately, and disastrously, involved with the so-called “housing bubble,” and were subsequently quickly bailed out by the supportive Bush administration

In addition to its publicly stated purpose of simplifying mortgage registration MERS was also set up to assist in the creation of so-called  Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and Structured investment Vehicles (SIV). The CDOs is a type of structured asset-backed security (ABS) whose value and payments are derived from a portfolio of fixed-income underlying assets. CDOs securities are split into different risk classes, or tranches, which permits these entities to be minced into tiny tranches and sold off by the big investment banks to pensions, foreign investors and retail investors. who in turn have discounted and resold them over and over.

It is well-known inside the American banking institutions that these highly questionable, potentially unsafe investment packages were deliberately marketed to countries, such as China and Saudi Arabia, that are not in favor with elements of the American government and banking industry and were, and are, marketed with full knowledge of their fragility

The basic problem with this MERS system that while it does organize the mortgage market, it also knowingly permits fiscal sausage-making whereby a huge number of American domestic and business mortgages, (59 million by conservative estimate) are sliced up, put into the aforesaid “investment packages” and sold to customers both domestic and foreign.

This results in the frightening fact that the holders of mortgages, so chopped and packed, are not possible to identify by MERS or anyone else, at any time and by any agency. This means that any property holder, be they a domestic home owner or a business owner, is paying their monthly fees for property they can never own. Because of the diversity of the packaging, it is totally and completely impossible to ascertain what person or organization owns a specific mortgage and as a result, a clear title to MERS-controlled property is impossible to get at any time, even if a mortgage is fully paid. No person or entity, has been, or never can be, identified who can come forward and legally release the lien on the property once the loan is paid.

In short, MERS conceals this fact from the public with the not-unreasonable assumption that by the time the owner of the home or business discovers that they have only been paying rent on property they can never get clear title to, all the primary parties;  the banks, the government agencies, the mortgage companies, or the title companies, will be dead and gone. MERS is set up to guarantee this fact but, gradually, little by little, mostly by word of mouth, the public is beginning to realize that their American dream of owning a house is nothing but a sham and a delusion.

The solution to this is quite simple. If a home or business American mortgage payer , goes to the property offices in their county and looks at their registered property, they can clearly see if MERS is the purported holder of the mortgage. This is fraudulent – MERS has never advanced any funds in the transaction and owns nothing. It is merely a registry. If MERS is the listed holder, the mortgage payers will never, ever, get clear title to their property.

In this case, the property occupier has two choices: They can either turn the matter over to a real estate attorney or simply continue pouring good money after bad. And is there relief? Indeed there is. In case after case (95% by record) if the matter is brought to the attention of a court of law, Federal or state, the courts rule that if the actual owner of the mortgage cannot be located after a reasonable period of time, the owner receives a clear title from the court and does not need to make any further payments to an unidentified creditor! It will stop any MERS based foreclosure mid process and further, any person who was fraudulently foreclosed by MERS, which never held their mortgage, and forced from their home can sue MERS and, through the courts, regain their lost homes.

 

Eight Hundred Years of Glory: A short history of Christianity

by Darrell W. Conder

When Pope Innocent III was anointed as the Vicar of Christ in 1198, one problem that faced him was heresy — a heretic being someone who asked questions about the Bible. Good old Innocent decided the best way to deal with this annoyance was a bit of Jehovah-style bloodletting. So his holiness cast an eye on Beziers, France to put the fear of God into his subjects. It is recorded that the last savage Christian persecution under a pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian, killed some 2,000 Christians. In Beziers, Pope Innocent killed at least six times that number — 12,000 — in one afternoon! For this day’s holy work, his holiness pronounced a special blessing for his soldiers and promised an indulgence from purgatory. Where was Jesus when Christian soldiers murdered Christian men, women and children in his name? In the same place when his soldiers sliced open pregnant Midianite girls back when he was calling himself Jehovah.

At least the victims of Christ’s love died somewhat quickly in Beziers. Those who fell into the hands of the Holy Inquisition, which was a Christian office set up to seek out and punish heretics and witches, had it a bit more rough. One eye witness wrote: “feet wrenched off legs, eyes torn from their sockets, and the prisoner burned with brimstone and basted with oil.” This is no exaggeration.

First of all, let’s understand that torturing non-believers has a precedent in God’s holy word. In 2 Samuel 12:31 we can read about David, a man after God’s own heart, taking the men, women and children of Rabbah and all the other Ammonite cities by putting man, woman and child “under saws, and under harrows [toothed plows] of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln [i.e., roasted them alive].” So the Holy Inquisition had its authority to torture and murder in God’s name by simply imitating the work of a man “after God’s own heart,” the details of which were found in scripture.

When the Church arrested heretics they were taken to a torture chamber, stripped naked (in case the Devil had applied some secret mark to their body), and were made ready for the holy work of the ministers of Christ. Typically a victim was hoisted into the air by their hands, which were tied behind their back, effectively dislocating shoulders with horrific pain. While hanging in this agony, a priest might apply flaming balls of sulfur to the genitals, or feet, or breasts, or under the arms, or on the back. If the victim was a woman, there was a special device for spreading the vagina (called the vaginal pear), which allowed for the ripping of the cervix and also for placing flaming sulfur directly inside the vagina. In fact, genitalia were a special target for the Holy Inquisition, as historian Barbara Walker notes: “. . . [priests] liked to attack women’s breasts and genitals with pincers, pliers, and red-hot irons.” Even more terrible to contemplate is that in some cases there were no breasts to mutilate because under the rules of the Holy Inquisition, girls as young as nine years could be tortured in the name of Jesus. (Walker, Barbara G. The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths & Secrets. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983, p. 445.)

Dr. Paul Carus, in his famous book The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil (Avenel, New Jersey: Gramercy Books, 1996: originally published in Chicago in 1900 as The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil From the Earliest Times to the Present Day) provides us with an example of what it was like to be arrested for heresy: “The hangman binds the woman, who was pregnant, and places her on the rack. Then he racked her till her heart would fain break, but had no compassion. When she did not confess, the torture was repeated, the hangman tied her hands, cut off her hair, poured brandy over her head and burned it. He placed sulphur in her armpits and burned it. Her hands were tied behind her, and she was hauled up to the ceiling and suddenly dropped down. This hauling up and dropping down was repeated for some hours, until the hangman and his helpers went to dinner. When they returned, the master-hangman tied her feet and hands upon her back; brandy was poured on her back and burned. Then heavy weights were placed on her back and she was pulled up. After this she was again stretched on the rack. A spiked board is placed on her back, and she is again hauled up to the ceiling. The master again ties her feet and hangs on them a block of fifty pounds, which makes her think that her heart will burst. This proved insufficient; therefore the master unties her feet and fixes her legs in a vise, tightening the jaws until the blood oozes out at the toes. Nor was this sufficient; therefore she was stretched and pinched again in various ways. Now the hangman of Dreissigacker began the third grade of torture. When he placed her on the bench he said: ‘I do not take you for one, two, three, not for eight days, nor for a few weeks, but for half a year or a year, for your whole life, until you confess: and if you will not confess, I shall torture you to death, and you shall be burned after all. The hangman’s son-in-law hauled her up to the ceiling by her hands. The hangman of Dreissigacker whipped her with a horsewhip. She was placed in a vise where she remained for six hours. After that she was again mercilessly horsewhipped. This was all that was done on the first day.”

In 1599 in Bavaria, Germany, a convicted witch by the name of Anna Pappenheimer, after already being mercilessly tortured in prison, was taken into the public square where her flesh was peeled off with red-hot pincers, after which her breasts sawed off. But her tormentors were not through. The bloody severed breasts were forced into the mouths of her two sons, in a perverse parody by her Christian torturers of breast feeding the boys, who were later burned alive along with their mother. In the crowd, Anna’s ten year old son was made to watch all this horror. The next day, he too was burned alive beneath the cross of the Lord Jesus.

The Church had special horrors for males, whose testicles and penis were targeted, and special devices were invented solely for this purpose such as a hollow, hinged devise that was heated glowing hot into which the victim’s penis was placed — this pain on top of seared flesh, smashed bones, fingernails that had been smashed or pulled out, and any other horror dreamed up in the minds of good God-loving priests.

Another special torture instrument invented solely for use during the Inquisition, include the brodequin, a device which was used to crush the legs by tightening, or by using a mallet for knocking in wedges to smash the bones until the bone marrow spurted out. This device was handy because when the victim inevitably passed out from the pain, it was proof of their guilt because losing consciousness was a trick of the Devil to spare his children pain.

Other tortures included applying oil to various parts of the body and slowly roasting them over an open fire. Sometimes an oversized boot was fitted on the victim and boiling water or sizzling hot grease was poured inside. (Imagine the pain we all have felt when we inadvertently burn our fingers on a hot pan; now consider the pain these helpless victims suffered, and the pain they endured afterwards from the horrific lingering pain of massive burns over the most delicate parts of their body.) And then there was the torture of squassation, which entailed strapping hundred-pound weights to a suspended victim’s arms and legs, and then hoisting the weights up above the victim, and then releasing the ropes, which dislocated virtually every bone in the victim’s body. It was said that several applications were often sufficient to kill even the strongest man.

The wheel was perhaps the worst torture device. A naked victim, who often had already been subjected to the tortures described above, was stretched spread-eagle on a large wheel. Wooden cross pieces were placed under the wrists, elbows, ankles, knees and hips. The inquisitor then used a wooden mallet to smash the victim’s bones and joints in dozens of places, although taking special care not to kill his victim. According to the observations of a seventeenth-century German chronicler, the victim was transformed “into a sort of huge screaming puppet writhing in rivulets of blood, a puppet with four tentacles, like a sea monster, of raw, slimy and shapeless flesh (rohw, schleymig und formlos Fleisch wie di Schleuch eines Tündenfischs) mixed up with splinters of smashed bones”. In this indescribably horrid state, the victim’s smashed noodle-like arms and legs were braided into the spokes of the wheel; then the wheeled victim was hoisted up on a pole and left to the elements to suffer a slow death. Eyewitnesses tell how crows would often feast on the helpless, screaming victims as they begged God for the mercy of death.

The water torture began with a naked victim strapped to a table. A funnel was inserted down their throat and gallons of water were poured in until the victim’s stomach was literally ready to burst. The inquisitor would then beat the victim’s stomach with mallets rupturing internal organs. Or, in another variation, a length of knotted cord was forced down the victim’s throat with the water, and then yanked from the mouth, effectively resulting in disemboweling.

Cleansing the soul was accomplished by forcing a victim to swallow scalding water, grease or glowing coals. We can add to this list, the cat’s paw, the breast ripper, the testicle ripper, the rectal pear, the shin vice, the head crusher, Saint Elmo’s belt, the rack, ducking the witch, the heretic’s fork and numerous other ways to “discover” the mark of Satan.

During all of this sanctimonious horror God’s ministers practiced the ultimate absurdity by blessing the instruments of torture with “holy water” and invoking God’s blessing: “Lord God we pray thee manifest thy truth on this thy servant [the instrument of torture]. Thou, O god, who hast, in former times, done great signs and wonders among thy people by fire . . . If this thy servant, who is about to undergo this trial, is guilty, let his hand be seared and burnt by the fire: but, on the other hand, if he is innocent, suffer not the fire to affect him. Lord God, thou to whom all secrets are known, fulfill, by thy goodness, the hope of our confidence and faith, while we undertake this examination; that the innocent may be set free, but the guilty detected and punished.” von Bracht writes: “When the priest had finished this prayer, he sprinkled the red hot iron with holy water, and pronounced upon it the benediction; The blessing of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, fall upon this iron, that we may by it form a righteous judgment.” (von Bracht,The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs’ Mirror of the Defenseless Christians, p. 241.)

When all the torture was through, and if the victim had not died, he or she was returned to their prison cell awaiting their next “examination.”

Speaking of the “examination,” the rules of the Inquisition stated that a person could only be subjected to one torture session. Although the initial examination could go on for an entire day, even perverts get tired of torturing and raping, so they must take a break. To get around the inconvenience of the one session rule, the inquisitors simply declared a recess in the session, which could last for hours, days, weeks or months, meaning that a victim could be “examined” endlessly — unless they died. Not only this, there was an inducement for the “examination” to last because the Church charged the victim’s family for their torture services. That’s right! The ministers of Christ charged a family for burning and ripping their daughter’s breasts, wrenching off her fingers or toes, pulling out her fingernails, applying burning sulfur to her genitals and raping her. The longer the sessions, the more money extracted for the work of Christ. On top of this, there was a charge for the victim’s upkeep in prison: the family had to pay for their mother, father, son or daughter’s filthy rotten food and lodging in a filthy, disease-ridden overcrowded, rat-infested cell.

The medieval prison defies description. The places used for the ordinary prisoners were deplorable hell-holes, but the cells to which heretics were consigned were even worse. When a man or woman was thrown into a cell, it wasn’t unusual to find rotting corpses lying about covered with maggots. Food was often non-existent, and when it was given, was foul and rotten — tossed on a floor swarming with rats and roaches and covered with excrement, urine, maggots, pus and blood. If this wasn’t bad enough, the stronger prisoners, driven mad with hunger, often took the food from the weak, who were left to die in this filth.

Ten or fifteen people crowded together in one cell without sanitation brought predictable results — disease. Very often mass death occurred from an epidemic inside the prison, which the Church declared was God’s “divine retribution” because it proved the guilt of the prisoner.

There was no such thing as medical attention in prison, meaning that ill half-conscience prisoners were left to be eaten alive by the armies of rats swarming the prison cells. Rats in fact, were a useful tool to the Inquisitor, who would, on occasion, order that a prisoner be closely chained to the floor of his or her cell. The rats, accustomed to feeding on human flesh, would then feed on this living meal throughout the night — or days. In fact, the victim, in keeping with the priest’s perverse desires, might have fish oil, or other food smeared on their genitals or breasts in order to provide the rats with a target in their feast. It was all yet another tactic used by the inquisitors to induce the “heretic” to confess their “sin” against the Lamb of God, the “God of love and mercy” who was sitting up in heaven just waiting for the repentant sinner to come to him, as Billy Graham’s theme song proclaims: “Just as I am, without one plea but that thy blood was shed for me and that thou bids me come to thee Oh, Lamb of God, I come I come.”

In time, it became a custom to allow “zealous Christian” men to visit the cells of women prisoners, after they paid a few coins, so that they could, themselves, personally “examine” the accused women. (Walker, op. cit., p. 446.) At this point the condemned women, who usually had been gang-raped and tortured by their inquisitors, were subjected to brutal men who not only raped them, but thought it their God-given duty to inflict further pain and suffering.

That the arrests and tortures often were for sexual gratification can be seen in the case of a priest/inquisitor named Foulques de St. George of Toulouse. The people of Toulouse, thoroughly disgusted with his atrocities, gathered evidence that he arrested women only to rape and torture them. Indeed, the chronicler of Trier, Germany recorded that all the females in two nearby villages were killed by inquisitors in 1586. However, these actions were rare exceptions because to question the Inquisition was a one-way ticket to be arrested, tortured and killed by the Inquisition, which means that almost nothing was done to stem the perverse appetites of the Holy Inquisition.

In time, the charge of heresy was joined with another charge, which provided a very large number of female victims for Christ’s ministers. It was the charge of witchcraft. Karen Armstrong writes: “The old pagan belief in witchcraft received its Christian baptism in 1484, when Pope Innocent VIII brought out an astonishing Bull, Summa Desiderantes . . .” (Armstrong, The Gospel According to Woman, p. 103.) Innocent officially began the witchcraft hysteria, which was to plague Christendom for centuries to come. The pope empowered two Dominicans, Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer, to investigate the practice of witchcraft, and the result was a book called Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), which was a handbook to help the Inquisitors uncover witches. Released in 1486, The Hammer of Witches essentially placed full blame for witchcraft on women, while painting men as their victims. For a priesthood that enjoyed arresting, raping, torturing and burning women, this book was a God-send.

Among other perversions, Malleus Maleficarum taught that witchcraft was due to women’s “insatiable sexuality” and that owing to her “inferior humanity” a woman, was more susceptible than a man to the devil through sex. (ibid, p. 104.) Moreover, the more beautiful the women, the more likely a suspect she was because her beauty was used by Satan to entice innocent young men into his grasp! Armstrong writes: “Indeed, the Malleus is quite clear that part of a woman’s danger is her beauty.” (ibid., p. 112.)

Malleus Maleficarum was “filled with a pathological hatred of women,” as historian Walter Nigg writes, which was an attitude fostered by countless centuries of Christian teaching, via the woman-hating pen of St. Paul himself. Thanks to Paul, Christians taught that women were inferior “because, being formed from a man’s rib, they are ‘only imperfect animals’ and ‘crooked’ whereas man belongs to a privileged sex from whose midst Christ emerged.” (Nigg, The Heretics, p. 277.)

What a grand arrangement for a perverse priesthood! Beautiful women were in league with the Devil, and needed to be arrested, taken to a private cell, stripped naked, tortured and burned to death. Even more ludicrous, if the inquisitor became sexually aroused during the torture of these naked beautiful women, he claimed it was sure evidence that the Devil was working through the victim to entice him. And when this sexually aroused man of God raped his victim, she received full blame and her torture was even more savage.On December 5, 1484, Pope Innocent VIII declared that Germany was particularly infested with witches. For the next one hundred years Germany endured human bonfires — almost all being fueled with German women. (Lea, A History of the Inquisitions, Volume III, p. 540.) For example, in the spring of 1586 the summer was late in coming to Trier, Germany. The unseasonable cold, said the archbishop, was due to witches! A woman was arrested, tortured and made to confess that a coven of witches was going to cause the entire summer to be cold in order to ruin crops and thus the economy of the town. The archbishop arrested, tortured and burned 118 women and 2 men. For his part, the archbishop was praised by the Vatican for his quick action, while the victims of God’s love smoldered in the ashes. (Lea, op.cit., Volume III, p. 549.)

In the Gospel of Mark (10:14) Jesus once said: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” Well, “suffer the little children” is a fitting way to relate what Christ’s Holy Inquisition did when it arrested, tortured and murdered untold thousands of children. In mid-seventeenth-century Neisse, Silesia more than two thousand babies, girls and women were roasted alive in ovens during a nine-year period for suspected witchcraft. In 1629 the chancellor of Würzburg, Germany wrote that three hundred children of three or four years of age were accused by of having had intercourse with the Devil, all of whom were tortured and burned to rid the Church of their evil threat. Actually, it does not take much imagination to wonder why children were included in the priestly pursuit of burning heretics, especially in light of the mountain of recent charges about pedophile ministers and priests.

Being arrested for witchcraft by God’s church was a no-win situation for the victim. An arrest for witchcraft was a death sentence. First, a suspected witch was brought before an inquisitor and asked a trick question. Asked if they believed in witches, most said “no.” This was an incriminating answer because His Holiness, the Vicar of Christ, had said Europe was infested with witches, and one didn’t dispute papal authority. So, the answer was enough to convict — and no witch, even if he/she freely confessed, would be spared death the penalty because the bible expressly stated that no witch should live (Exodus 22:18). So, unlike the heretic, who on some occasions after torture, public humiliation, and confiscation of all his/her property, might be allowed to die in prison, the witch was doomed from the beginning to death — if he or she didn’t die during the “examination.”

Of course, if victims survived the torture of repeated examinations and their lodging in the prison cell, they still had to endure their punishment.

In the early days of the Inquisition, the judges often allow the victim to escape the death penalty by being punished in other ways. For instance, a victim could be locked in public stocks, which was a hellish predicament. Completely helpless, the victim was left to the tender mercies of the assembled mob: slapped, kicked, poked with sharpened sticks, urine and feces dumped on his or her head, or forced into the mouth, poked out eyes, torn-out tongues, stoned, ears cut off, castrated, fingernails and toenails ripped out, fingers and toes sawed off, whipped, etc. But this was in the days when the Church showed a victim mercy. Eventually death was the standard punishment.

When a heretic was sentenced to death, it was by fire because the Church reasoned that it was wrong to shed blood, and burning didn’t shed blood. Besides, the Lamb of God had paved the way for these holy, purifying fires in John 15:6 “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (Also, the bible itself teaches that burning was a godly form of execution: Joshua 7:15, which prescribes burning as a form of execution and Leviticus 21:9, which teaches that a profaning woman should be burned with fire.)

The burning of heretics dates all the way back to a papal statute of 1231, which demanded death by fire, adding that it was to be used universally. (Nigg, The Heretic, p. 220, Reinach, Orpheus, p. 328.) In fact, in the Inquisition’s heyday the pope promised indulgences (remission for punishment) in hell or purgatory for those who provided fuel for these cleansing fires. (Reinach, op.cit., p. 328.) This offer by the papacy wasn’t for any religious concern, it was because providing firewood was expensive and the Church was looking for ways to cut costs since the number of victims was increasing according to the Church’s perverse appetite.

There was one technicality to be carried out before someone was actually burned: the Church, in its sanctimonious piety, handed its victims over to the local governments so that God’s ministers could claim that the Church had never killed anyone. The victim’s trial ended with these words: “We [the ministers of Christ] cast you forth from this our ecclesiastical court and leave you to be delivered to the secular arm. But we earnestly pray that the said secular court may temper its justice with mercy that there be no bloodshed or danger of death.” (Coulton, Inquisition and Liberty, pp. 168-69.) But, no secular court dared contradict the findings of the Inquisition. No secular court dared let a victim go free — if any judge had dared do so, he would likely find himself before the very men whose judgment he had overturned, faced with a charge of witchcraft or heresy.

When the victim was led to a public place for his/her burning, they were often horribly abused by the assembled superstitious crowd, which often had been whipped up to a state of bloodlust by the ranting of their local priest. But this last abuse was nothing compared to what the victim had already suffered. If the victim was a woman, she usually had had her tongue cut out, or bored through with a glowing hot poker to keep her from telling bystanders that she had been raped by God’s ministers — the official excuse for this practice being that it kept the guilty from blaspheming God during their burning.

One of the most horrible recorded cases of burning is that of an unnamed Jersey woman, who was murdered in a public square in 1562. Being in the last weeks of pregnancy, the morning of her execution brought on labor. As the fire started to crackle beneath her feet, the wretched woman gave birth, after which a godly onlooker scarfed up the unoffending baby and tossed it into the flames beneath its screaming mother’s feet — all this happening while Jesus sat up in heaven on the right hand of his father watching the spectacle!

With that last comment, let us keep in mind as we read these accounts that the victims here were God-fearing, Jesus-loving Christians who undoubtedly cried out in their misery to those gods for mercy and deliverance. Where was this loving deity, Jesus we all hear preached? Well, either he sat in heaven and looked on approvingly, or, like Kenneth Taylor’s translation of 1 Kings 18:27 in the Living Bible, was doing what Elijah said about the god Baal: he couldn’t hear prayers because he was perhaps “sitting on the toilet”! Or, say I, perchance Jesus didn’t hear them because he is but a myth!

Mark Twain once wrote: “During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. . . . There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them still remains.”

One of the great tragedies resulting from the wholesale murders of “witches” was the almost total elimination of those who treated illness with natural remedies, which had been passed down through a thousand generations. Essentially the Church taught that the only remedy for illness was touching a holy relic (which the Church sold), or being anointed by a priest with holy oil. Anything else was regarded with suspicion — especially if the ill person recovered from the application of natural medicines. Hence, natural practitioners, most of whom were women, were the first to be arrested and charged with witchcraft. And so, in the cleansing fires of the holy mother Church died thousands of years of cures or treatments for every medical problem known to man. That loss was so great that even today humanity suffers the effect by paying absurdly high prices for chemical remedies, the side effects of which often outweigh the benefits. Oh, we all have so much to thank the Lord for, do we not?

Okay, so far I’ve covered God’s love for heretics and witches inside the Christian torture chambers and dungeons, but all of this was somewhat mild when compared to the Church’s remedy for a problem called the Protestant Reformation. People — hordes of them — countries full of them — were finally reading the bible and thinking for themselves, and something had to be done because people thinking for themselves are dangerous to any organization, be it churches or governments. In other words, the Holy Inquisition had to be taken to the streets on a massive scale. Good Christians everywhere had to be whipped up into a blood frenzy if the Church was to survive.

It is going way beyond the scope of this article to present a detailed history of the whole Reformation, nevertheless it is vital to offer a few significant horrible examples, such as when Pope Pius IV sent his armies into Orange (in the Netherlands) in 1562 to massacre Protestant heretics — the Holy Inquisition having already pronounced a sentence of death for heresy on the whole population. Hordes of merciless Catholic Christian soldiers were sent into the Netherlands with the promise of plunder, rape and torture, AND the promise of an indulgence from his holiness the pope! During the endless months of horror women were raped en masse, hung by their breasts and tortured with fire, knives and a host of improvised devices; men were hung by their genitalia until the helpless organs were ripped from their bodies, all the while being subjected to the love of God with fire, knives and glowing-hot pokers. Men, women and children were dragged behind horses until they died in their agony, or were tied spread-eagle between four horses and ripped apart; children were tortured to death and then hung up as decorations in the city streets — all the while with a priest watching and sprinkling “holy water” on the devices of torture.

On the occasion of their marriage, King Henry II of France gave his wife an unusual gift. King Henry “. . . celebrated the coronation of his wife Catherine de Medici with a bonfire of heretics.” (A Brief History of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Peoples, p. 450.) Queen Catherine was obviously delighted with the spectacle, which is borne by her later obsession for punishing heretics, and because it was she who loosed Catholic mobs into the streets of Paris to hunt down their fellow Protestant Christians on St. Bartholomew’s Day (August 24) in 1572. As in the Netherlands, the scenes of mobs publicly raping, torturing, murdering and plundering filled the streets. By the end of the day it is estimated that 70,000 Huguenot men, women, children and babies lay raped, mutilated and dead in the streets. When the Vicar of Christ, Pope Gregory XIII, got word of this great massacre, he held an elaborate celebration, said High Mass, gave special blessings to the murderers, gave great honors to the one who plotted the deed, Queen Mother Catherine, and then ordered a medallion to be struck commemorating the event. (DeRosa, Vicars of Christ, p. 145)

St. Bartholomew’s Day was only a fraction of the murderous terror against the Protestants of France. Reinach records that at Caen, and many other towns, “. . . parents might be seen following the hurdles on which the bodies of their children were being drawn, to be hacked in pieces by the pupils of the Jesuits.” (Reinach, Orpheus, p. 366.) No wonder that Voltaire wrote about the Inquisitions: “You follow these scenes of absurdity and horror with pity; you find nothing like them among the Romans, the Greeks, or the old barbarians. They were the fruit of the most infamous superstitions which has ever degraded man… but you know that we have not long emerged from such darkness, and that not even yet is the light complete.” (Reinach, op.cit., p. 326.)

Perhaps one of the saddest of tragedies was the case of Lutheran Church founder, Martin Luther. When this Catholic priest successfully rebelled against the papacy, many Germans were encouraged to begin thinking for themselves in matters of religion. This freedom was encouraged by Luther until it included questioning his doctrines. During the Peasant’s War, Luther urged the nobility to have no mercy, and to track down heretics: “track them like dogs and kill these children of the devil” was Luther’s orders. Taking him at his word, the nobles and their armies butchered over one hundred thousand God-fearing men, women and children. Luther later boasted that “I, Martin Luther, slew all the peasants in the rebellion, for I said that they should be slain; all their blood is upon my head. But I cast it on the Lord God . .” (O’Brien, The Faith of Millions: the Credentials of the Catholic Religion, p. 29.) Right on Martin Luther! The impetus for religious murder can always be rightly laid on the head of God and his holy word!

And then there was Ireland.

In a letter from Rome, dated May, 1538, the following instructions were received: “His Holiness Paul III, now pope, and the council of the fathers, have lately found, in Rome a prophecy of one St. Lacerianus, an Irish bishop of Cashel, in which he saith that the Mother Church of Rome falleth, when in Ireland, the Catholic faith is overcome. Therefore, for the glory of the Mother Church, the honor of St. Peter, and your own security, suppress heresy, and his holiness’ enemies.” (Fox’s Book of Martyrs, pp. 300-301.) This letter began the great bloody murders of Protestant Christians in that most Catholic Christian of nations, Ireland.

The massacre had been secretly planned by the Catholic clergy for months prior to its unleashing on 23 October 1641, the date of the feast of Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order. Throughout all Ireland “. . . every Protestant who fell in their [the Catholic’s] way was immediately murdered. No age, no sex, no condition, was spared.”

Countless Protestant children from one area were rounded up and attacked by a crowd, who hacked, stoned, and beat them to death. Their parents were hanged by their feet or hands from trees and tortured, or burned alive. In other towns, women and children were tied to trees, and vicious dogs were set loose on them, while cheering crowds watched. Some were tied to the tails of horses and dragged to death. Women were, of course, raped by the thousands, after which they were sexually mutilated. In one place Protestant women were stripped naked, and having their breasts cut off, were allowed to slowly bleed to death to the taunts of the Catholic crowds. Whole families were buried alive, while over their graves, others were skinned alive — while the Christian mobs who performed these deeds were granted a special indulgence by his holiness, the pope, which meant, according to Catholic doctrine, sending a group of murderers directly to heaven for killing their fellow Christians.

One Catholic priest a certain Father Mahoney, told his congregation “You have already killed 150,000 enemies . . . as your enemies confess in their writings. I think more heretics have been killed; would they had all been. It remains for you to slay all other heretics and expel them from the bounds of Ireland.” (Campbell, The Scarlet Woman of the Apocalypse, p. 19.) With the murder of little unborn babies, cut from wombs and fed alive to dogs and pigs, while their mothers, still barely alive, were forced to watch, the pope was able to “sleep better, knowing the enemies of Christ” had been put down in Ireland! Of course, this horror was recompensed in kind when the rabid Protestant Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, came to Ireland with his armies and killed untold thousands of Catholics, including burning terrified Catholic women and children alive inside their church during the siege of Drogheda.

Early seventeenth century Bohemia had a population of 4,000,000, eighty percent of which were Protestant. During the Thirty Years War, after the Hapsburg emperor Ferdinand II and his armies and the holy order of the Jesuits had done the work of Christ, only 800,000 people were left in all Bohemia and Hungary, all of whom were Catholic. Even worse, the war, which had started as a religious war in Bohemia, eventually drew in all the German states, and then Sweden and France, and in the end as many as twenty million men, women, children and suckling babes lay dead in the bosom of Christ!

And on and on and on it went. But hold on! God’s “love,” the kind about which we have been reading, is still alive!

 

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