TBR News December 30, 2019

Dec 29 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 30, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 30 “The nonproft organisation PEN America, found that newspapers have lost more than $35bn in advertising revenue and 47% of newsroom staff over the past 15 years. Over 1,800 newspapers have closed, leaving more than 3m people with no newspaper at all, and more than at least a thousand have become ‘ghost newspapers,’ with little original reporting. The public gets its news, controlled or bizarre, from the Internet for nothing and as this progresses, more and more print entities will cave in and vanish.”

The Table of Contents
• The biggest business con of 2019: fleecing workers while bosses get rich
• The Empire in Collapse
• Trump Has No Clue About Homelessness. This California Lawmaker Actually Does.
• Christianity Today’s split with Trump highlights deeper issue in white evangelical America
• An earlier ‘Fake News!’ to delude the American public
• ‘Talking in Tongues’ for Fun and Profit.
• Revenge is sweet
• The Season of Evil

The biggest business con of 2019: fleecing workers while bosses get rich
From Boeing to Whole Foods, companies are touting social responsibility as profits soar. Don’t believe a word of it
December 29, 2019
by Robert Reich
The Guardian
Corporate social responsibility is the second-biggest con of 2019 (Donald Trump remains in first place).
Consider Boeing, whose board just fired its CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, in order “to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders”.
Restore confidence? Muilenburg’s successor will be David Calhoun, who, as a longstanding member of Boeing’s board of directors, allowed Muilenburg to remain CEO for more than a year after the first 737 Max crash and after internal studies found that the jetliner posed an unacceptable risk of accident. It caused the deaths of 346 people.
Muilenburg raked in $30m in 2018. He could walk away from Boeing with another $60m.
Boeing isn’t the only large corporation with a confidence problem.
Until his ouster, Muilenburg was a director of the Business Roundtable, an association of 192 CEOs of America’s largest corporations. With great fanfare last August, it announced a “fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders” (emphasis in the original) and not just their shareholders.
The Roundtable’s commitment came in response to growing public distrust of big corporations, and proposals from several Democratic candidates to rein them in.
Another Business Roundtable director is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. Just weeks after making the commitment, and despite GM’s hefty profits and large tax breaks, Barra rejected workers’ demands that GM raise their wages and stop outsourcing their jobs. Earlier in the year GM shut its giant assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.
About 50,000 GM workers then staged the longest auto strike in 50 years. They won a few wage gains but didn’t save any jobs. Meanwhile, GM’s stock has performed so well that Barra earned $22m last year.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is another member of the Business Roundtable. Just weeks after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, Whole Foods, an Amazon subsidiary, announced it would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce.
The annual saving to Amazon from this cost-cutting move is roughly what Bezos – whose net worth is $110bn – makes in two hours. (Bezos’s nearly completed DC mansion will have 2 elevators, 25 bathrooms, 11 bedrooms, and a movie theater.)
GE’s CEO Larry Culp is also a member of the Business Roundtable. Two months after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, General Electric froze the pensions of 20,000 workers in order to cut costs. Culp raked in $15m last year.
Last week the Business Roundtable issued a widely advertised Christmas message. It asserted that the success of the American economy “depends on businesses investing in the economic security of their employees and the communities in which they operate”.
Sure. Just in time for the holidays, US Steel announced 1,545 layoffs at two plants in Michigan. Last year, five US Steel executives received an average compensation package of $4.8m, a 53% increase over 2017.
Instead of a holiday bonus this year, Walmart offered its employees a 15% store discount. Oh, and did I say? Walmart saved $2.2bn this year from the Trump tax cut.
The tax cut itself was a product of the Roundtable’s extensive lobbying, lubricated by its generous campaign donations. Several of its member corporations, including Amazon and General Motors, wound up paying no federal income taxes at all last year.
Not incidentally, the tax cut will result in less federal money for services on which Americans and their communities rely.
The truth is, American corporations are sacrificing workers and communities as never before, in order to further boost record profits and unprecedented CEO pay.
Americans know this. In the most recent Pew survey, a record 73% of US adults (including 62% of Republicans, and 71% of Republicans earning less than $30,000 a year) said they believed major corporations had too much power. And 65% believed they made too much profit.
The only way to make corporations socially responsible is through laws requiring them to be – for example, giving workers a bigger voice in corporate decision-making, making corporations pay severance to communities they abandon, raising corporate taxes, busting up monopolies, and preventing dangerous products (including faulty airplanes) from ever seeing the light of day.
If the Business Roundtable and other corporations were truly socially responsible, they’d support such laws. Don’t hold your breath.
The only way to get such laws enacted is by reducing corporate power and getting big money out of politics.
The first step is to see corporate social responsibility for the con it is.

The Empire in Collapse
December 29, 2019
by Christian Jürs
Because of the growing, and serious, public discontent that had been manifested during the course of the Vietnamese War from 1950 through 1973, the American governmental establishment resolved to take steps to recognize, infiltrate and neutralize any significant future national anti-government actions.
Once the most powerful nation, the United States is rapidly losing its premier position in the international sphere while at the same time facing a potential serious anti-government political movement developing in that country. The number of unemployed in the United States today is approximately 97,000,000. Official American sources claim that employment is always improving but in fact it is not. Most official governmental releases reflect wishful thinking or are designed to placate the public
This situation is caused by the movement, by management, of manufacturing businesses to foreign labor markets. While these removals can indeed save the companies a great deal of expenditure on domestic labor, by sharply reducing their former worker bodies to a small number, the companies have reduced the number of prospective purchasers of expensive items like automobiles.
The U.S. government’s total revenue is estimated to be $3.654 trillion for fiscal year 2019.
•Personal income taxes contribute $1.836 trillion, half of the total.
•Another third ($1.224 trillion) comes from payroll taxes.
This includes $892 billion for Social Security, $270 billion for Medicare and $50 billion for unemployment insurance.
•Corporate taxes add $355 billion, only 10 percent.
•Customs excise taxes and tariffs on imports contribute $146 billion, just 4 percent
•The Federal Reserve’s net income adds $70 billion.
•The remaining $23 billion of federal income comes from estate taxes and miscellaneous receipts.
•The use of secret offshore accounts by US citizens to evade U.S. federal taxes costs the U.S. Department of the Treasury well over $100 billion annually.
By moving from a producing to an importing entity, the United States has developed, and is developing, serious sociological and economic problems in a significant number of its citizens, and many suffer from serious health problems that are not treated.
It is estimated that over 500,000 American citizens are without any form of housing. Many of these people either are living on the streets, in public parks, living in cars or in charity shelters. There are at present over 200,000 family groups in America with over 300,000 individuals involved and 25% of the total are minor children.
Over 80,000 individuals are permanently without any residence. Many of these have physical disabilities such as chronic alcoholism or drug addiction. Many are classified as having severe mental disorders.
About 50,000 of these homeless individuals are military veterans, many of whom have serious physical or mental problems. One of the most common mental disorders is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Governmental treatment for these individuals is virtually non-existent. Approximately half of this number are either black or Latin American (“Hispanics” in official designation.)
Of the total number of the homeless individuals, approximately 10% are female.
Official but private, estimates are that there over 500,000 youths below the age of 24 in current American society that find themselves homeless for periods lasting from one week to a permanent status.
Over 100,000 of this class are young people who are defined as being homosexual. Those in this class find themselves persecuted to a considerable degree by society in general and their peer groups in specific.
Approximately 50% of this homeless population are over the age of 50, many of whom suffer from chronic, debilitating physical illnesses that are not treated.
Drug deaths in the U.S. in 2019 exceeded 160,000. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involved prescriptions. Opioids are a class of strong painkillers drugs and include Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin which are synthetic drugs designed to resemble opiates such as opium derived morphine and heroin. The most dangerous opioid is Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. The increasing demand for these drugs is causing them to be manufactured outside the United States.
Suicide is the primary cause of “injury death” in the United States and more U.S. military personnel on active duty have killed themselves than were killed in combat last year.
The growing instability of American families is manifested by the fact that:
• One out of every three children in America lives in a home without a father.
• More than half of all babies are being born out of wedlock for women under the age of 30 living in the United States
• The United States has the highest child abuse death rate in the developed world.
• The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world although the numbers have declined in recent years due to the use of contraceptives.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate and the largest total prison population in the entire world. The criminal justice system in the United States holds more than 4,166,000 people in 1,719 state prisons, 102,000 in federal prisons, 901,000 in juvenile correctional facilities, and 3,163,000 in local jails. Additionally, 5,203,400 adults are on probation or on parole.
The number of people on probation or parole has increased the population of the American corrections system to more than 9,369,400 in 2019. Corrections costs the American taxpayer $69 billion a year.
There are a huge number of American domestic and business mortgages, (67 million by conservative estimate) which have been sliced up, put into so-called “investment packages” and sold to customers both domestic and foreign. This problem has been covered up by American authorities by cloaking the facts in something called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System)
This results in the 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.
Another festering problem consists of the official loans made to students in colleges and universities in the U.S. the predatory nature of the $90 billion student loan industry. These so-called student loans are the most serious economic problem faced today by American university students.
This problem arose due to federal legislation originating in the mid-1990s which effectively removed basic consumer protections from student loans, thus permitting extensive penalties and the methodology for enforced collection.
Because of the highly inflated cost of higher American education, very few students from high school can afford university education. The new college graduate has, on average, a student loan in excess of $20,000 and students attending graduate programs have average debts of over $40,000.
America today has seriously failing public school systems. Upper economic class Americans are able to send their children to expensive private schools and avoid the exceedingly incompetent public systems. The average American lower school graduates are only a step above illiteracy and their lack of knowledge of world affairs is quite unbelievable.
A small number of extremely wealthy men control and operate all of the major American print and television media.
Each of the few very powerful, rich men have their own reasons for deciding what qualifies as news.
But the public in America now gets its news, without cost, from various internet sites and the circulation number of major print news has dropped dramatically. This has forced the internet editions of the print news media to erect what they call “paywalls.” This permits a very limited number of articles to be read or downloaded before the system demands money for the use of additional material.
The major print media in America is faced with imminent bankruptcy and are making frantic efforts at attempts to prevent free news sites from being aired on the internet.
Government surveillance of the American public is very widespread and at the present time, almost every aspect of an American citizen, or resident, is available for official surveillance. This includes mail, television viewing, telephone conversations, computer communications, travel, ownership of property, medical and school records, banking and credit card transactions, inheritances and other aspects of a citizen’s daily life.
This is done to circumvent any possible organization that could contravene official government policy and has its roots in massive civil resistance to governmental policy during the war in Vietnam. The government does not want a reprise of that problem and its growing surveillance is designed to carefully watch any citizen, or groups of citizens, who might, present or future, pose a threat to government policy.
Another factor to be considered is the current American attitudes towards racial issues. There has always been prejudice in the United States against blacks. In 1943 there were bloody riots in Detroit and Los Angeles, the former aimed at blacks and the latter against Mexicans. Since then, there has been chronic racial prejudice but it has been relatively small and very local. Also, there is growing anti-Semitic prejudice in American but this is officially ignored and never is mentioned in the American media. Much of this growing problem is directed at the brutal actions of Israel against Palestinians. Israelis have an undue influence in the American political scene. The very far right so-called neo-cons are almost all Jewish and most are Israeli citizens. Also, the middle-level ranks of American CIA personnel are heavily infiltrated by Israelis and it is said that any secret the CIA has is at once passed to Israel and that countries needs are assuming importance in CIA actions.
The attitudes of the working class Americans were inflamed during the last presidential elections by Mr. Trump who catered to them and encouraged rebellious attitudes. By speaking against Central American illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has caused a polarization of attitudes and the militant right wing in America, currently small in number but well-organized and potentially very dangerous, has begun to make its views very well known in public demonstrations.
This movement has played into the hands of far-right American political manipulators.
It is their intention to clandestinely arm these groups and use them to cause violent public confrontations with the far left groups.
By causing this potential violence, the manipulators intend to use the American military to move into unstable area to, as they say, ‘establish law and order’ while in reality, they will use martial law to firm up their basic control of a potentially fractious public.
It is then intended, according to information, to incorporate organized, para-military groups into a sort of domestic Federal police force. These people will not be punished for their actions but rewarded and utilized to ensure further right-wing control of the country.

Trump Has No Clue About Homelessness. This California Lawmaker Actually Does.
“He’s been cutting affordable housing funds, aggressively attacking the social safety net,” says state Sen. Scott Wiener. “These are all things that increase homelessness.”
October 11, 2019
by Marisa Endicott
Mother Jones
In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has escalated his ongoing feud with California, repeatedly turning his attention and Twitter feed to the state’s homelessness crisis. The administration is reportedly planning a crackdown that may involve moving homeless people in the state to government-backed facilities. After visiting last month, Trump claimed—seemingly without basis—that needles and other trash from San Francisco and Los Angeles are “pouring into the ocean.” Confusingly, he tied the cities’ legitimate housing problems to water pollution, threatening federal action for supposed Clean Water Act violations. Then, last week, the EPA lent credence to the president’s claims by citing San Francisco for environmental violations relating to its homeless problem. (Ironically, Trump and the EPA voiced sudden concern for California’s environmental protections around the same time they officially revoked the state’s ability to set stricter auto emissions.) On Thursday, in response to this and other recent EPA actions against the state, almost 600 former EPA officials called for an investigation into the administration’s targeting of California, saying the warnings “were intended as retaliation for the state’s failure to support President Trump’s political agenda.”
Meanwhile, in the 2020 budget request, the Trump administration proposed cutting the Housing and Urban Development budget by a drastic $9.6 billion (19 percent below 2019 levels).
The absurdity of Trump’s attacks, though, shouldn’t paper over the very real housing crisis in California. State Sen. Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco—where the median price for a one-bedroom rental is about $3,700 a month—has seen this crisis up close and has been a vocal affordable housing proponent since he served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He’s known for pushing bold but sometimes controversial policies. He is currently sponsoring a bill, after a previous iteration failed last year, that aims to ease the housing squeeze by increasing high-density residential building around transit hubs. The proposal has left affordable housing advocates divided; more housing could ease costs and outsized demand, and the current version of the bill includes more renter protections and affordability requirements, but some think it will exacerbate gentrification.
What they can all agree on is that Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about. “Our housing policy doesn’t work in California,” Wiener says. But “the president is not interested in helping us solve our problems.” I recently caught up with Wiener to talk about the real roots of the housing dilemma, the solutions he thinks are necessary, and why the president’s comments pretty much make no sense. Below is an edited and condensed version of our conversation.
President Trump has made accusations about San Francisco and California’s homelessness problem causing water pollution. Then last week, the EPA cited San Francisco, saying the city could face fines for violating the Clean Water Act.
The attacks are really despicable and baseless. This idea that somehow feces or needles could be going into the sewer drain and that would go directly into the ocean, that’s just flat out wrong. If the president knew anything about our sewer system, he would know we have a combined sewer system. All of our sewage, whether it comes from people’s toilets or from the sewer drains, gets treated at a world class water treatment facility and purified. And so there’s just no factual basis for what what he’s saying. You expect this kind of ridiculousness from Donald Trump, but you don’t expect that from the EPA.
The EPA has been involved with San Francisco’s combined sewer system for a long time. It has repeatedly signed off on different changes that we’ve made. And now the EPA has been politically hijacked by Donald Trump to issue some sort of notice of violation where there is no violation. It plays into the president’s broader political narrative attacking California, attacking San Francisco, for the exclusive goal of riling up his base because his presidency is falling apart.
We need to be clear: We have a real problem with homelessness in California. There’s no doubt about it. Our housing policy doesn’t work in California. We have big problems. But the president is not interested in helping us solve our problems. He’s simply interested in attacking us to score political points.
What will happen with the EPA citation?
I think it is a stunt and he’ll probably keep going down this road until the election. But ultimately, the city of San Francisco strongly disagrees with the EPA’s political assertions, and I suppose it could result in litigation. But we’ve been litigating with this administration quite a bit, so there’s nothing new there.
What does the federal government do to help or hurt states and cities tackling homelessness?
This president has just been atrocious in terms of providing help and resources to cities and states and our efforts to fight homelessness. He’s been cutting affordable housing funds. He’s been cutting food assistance, aggressively attacking the social safety net, trying to throw people off health care. These are all things that increase homelessness. If he wants to help us fight homelessness by increasing investment in housing and other services, then we welcome that.
There’s still the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which we rely on. But in the past, the federal government funded significant investment in housing and that’s really drying up. And we would love for that to come back so we can build more public or social housing for low-income people.
Why is the homelessness problem in California so intractable despite big investments and a lot more focus?
The push has really only been in the last few years. Before a few years ago, California wasn’t doing nearly enough. It’s still not doing enough, but it’s doing more, and I think some of those seeds that were planted will bear fruit. But we also have to fix our underlying housing scarcity problem. We’re short 3.5 million homes in California, and it’s pushing a lot of working class people into homelessness, people who don’t have any mental health or addiction problems, but they lose their apartment, and there’s nothing they can afford so they live in their car. And that is a result of 50 years of bad housing policy where we’ve made it hard or impossible to build new housing. That’s the underlying root cause. Financial investments are very important, but there is not going to be enough funding to house every low-income person in California. So we have to solve the structural housing shortage as well.
What actions are most important to take?
There are three major things we need to prevent people from becoming homeless: We need to be protecting renters, so people aren’t getting evicted in no fault evictions and ending up on the street; we need to invest aggressively in helping transition homeless people into housing with support services; and then we have to make structural changes to our housing policy to fix the problem over the long run. That’s what SB 50 is about—my legislation to legalize more housing by jobs and transit, so we can start filling in that 3.5 million home gap.
What do you think of the drama that’s played out with a San Francisco neighborhood putting up boulders on the sidewalk to discourage homeless encampments? [Editor’s note: In September, a group of San Francisco neighbors pooled funds and had boulders installed along the sidewalk to break up a homeless encampment and cut down on reported drug dealing and harassment on the block. Homeless advocates were critical, calling the tactic inhumane; activists and media coverage sparked a barrage of social media outrage and threats against the residents. Last week, the city removed the rocks, but strategic landscaping to deter homelessness is used in other parts of San Francisco and other cities.]
Boulders on the sidewalk are not the solution. But with that said, I don’t think it’s appropriate to demonize these neighbors. I used to represent this area when I was on the [San Francisco] Board of Supervisors, and I’m very familiar with Clinton Park. This was not just about homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk. It was not what pushed these neighbors over the edge. It was the rampant and very dangerous behavior of drug dealing, the violence, the harassment. The neighbors reached the end of their rope, and I can’t criticize them. The city was not meeting their needs, and they took it into their own hands. I was really disappointed to see the really vicious attacks on these neighbors for trying to address an issue in their neighborhood. Again, boulders are not the solution, but I understand why they got to the point where they felt they had no other choice.
I think it is really, really important to distinguish between homelessness and criminal behavior. Because when people are engaging in criminal violence and harassment and drug dealing, homeless people are being victimized, too. I’ve had homeless people come up to me on the street and point out a guy that’s being violent and ask me to call the police. The vast majority of homeless people are not engaging in criminal or violent behaviors. They’re just trying to survive, and they’re being victimized as well.
What’s the immediate solution?
In the tent encampments, we need to really focus on transitioning those folks into navigation centers and then transitional housing. Tents on the sidewalk are not a good or safe healthy approach for the homeless or people in the surrounding neighborhood. For people who are engaged in drug dealing and violent behavior, we have to enforce the law.
But then there’s NIMBY resistance to setting up navigation centers like in the Embarcadero. [Editor’s note: After San Francisco Mayor London Breed proposed a navigation center—a type of streamlined transitional homeless shelter— in the Embarcadero neighborhood this spring, residents of the gentrifying SoMa area rallied to block the facility from being built. Their efforts, including raising money against the effort and filing a lawsuit, failed, but were seen as part of the the strong NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) presence in the the Bay Area.]
I actually passed a law this year that streamlines navigation center approvals so we’ll be able to avoid these endless lawsuits and appeals as occurred at the Embarcadero. That will address the NIMBYism that we’re seeing around navigation centers.
A lot of people support services for homeless people, but then they have concerns about putting them in their neighborhood. But what we try to explain to people is that homeless people are in your neighborhood. And so why not have a place where we can start transitioning people into housing and services? It’s better to have navigation centers where people go than people pitching tents on sidewalks. People are going to go somewhere, so let’s have somewhere for them to go where they can begin the process of getting them housed.

Christianity Today’s split with Trump highlights deeper issue in white evangelical America
December 29, 2019
by Simon Lewis and Heather Timmons
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After evangelical publication Christianity Today published a blistering editorial on what it called Donald Trump’s “grossly immoral character”, some church leaders and the U.S. president himself denounced the criticism as elitist and out-of-touch.
The Dec. 19 editorial sparked a Christmas holiday debate over religion in U.S. politics, and posed new questions about the close alignment between white evangelical voters and Trump, who has given their beliefs strong political support.
However, the coziness with the Republican president, who was impeached this month by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, is exacerbating a long-term crisis facing white evangelicalism, some Christians say – it is being abandoned by younger generations.
There has been a big drop-off in white evangelical church participation among adults under 40, and publications such as Christianity Today and religious leaders are struggling to engage “Gen Z,” or those born after 1996.
“One of the major factors is that the church is too tied up in right-wing politics,” said Greg Carey, a professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. Evangelical activism against gay rights is particularly repellant to many members of a generation where “everyone has friends who are LGBTQ,” Carey said.
Trump’s presidency may make the age gap worse, some evangelical Christians believe. “Having to go out and defend this guy day after day, as many of these Trump evangelicals are doing, they’re just destroying their credibility,” said Napp Nazworth, who until Monday was politics editor of another publication, the Christian Post.
Nazworth resigned over the Christian Post’s plans to criticize Christianity Today for its anti-Trump editorial.
He told Reuters many younger evangelicals opposed Trump’s immigration and asylum policies and were concerned about alleviating poverty, in contrast to older members of the faith. Evangelical leaders standing with Trump “will have no moral authority to speak to moral issues of the day after defending him,” Nazworth said.
Evangelicalism, like all forms of Christianity in the United States, is struggling to attract younger members, amid an unprecedented surge in recent years of the number of people identifying as religiously unaffiliated.
White evangelical protestants declined as a proportion of the U.S. population between 2006 and 2018, falling to 15% from 23%, according to analysis by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Higher-than-average voter turnout among evangelicals means the group still represents more than a quarter of the U.S. electorate, but a failure to draw young worshippers means their electoral heft is set to diminish, said Robert P. Jones, chief executive and founder of PRRI.
The median age of white evangelicals and white Christians overall is 55, according to PRRI data, compared with 44 for the overall white population.
The evangelical church’s “singular focus” on same sex marriage, relationships and abortion is failing to engage younger generations, said Randall Balmer, a professor of religion at Dartmouth University, and a former editor at Christianity Today.
They are motivated by a broader set of issues, he said, adding “in terms of sexual orientation the younger generation just shrugs about that.”
The perhaps unlikely alliance between conservative Christians and the twice-divorced New York real estate developer has been important for Trump in a country that is more religious than most other western democracies and where a president’s spiritual life is closely examined.
White evangelical Christians overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016, when exit polls showed he won 81% of their votes. They have mostly stuck with him despite the controversies over his harsh attacks on political rivals and demeaning comments about women, thanks largely to Trump appointing scores of conservative judges who support restrictions on access to abortion.
Many U.S. evangelicals also strongly support conservatives in Israel, and hailed Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there.
Trump, who describes himself as Presbyterian and whose advisors include evangelical figures such as Florida televangelist Paula White, dismissed Christianity Today as “far left”.
A group of nearly 200 leaders from the conservative wing of evangelicalism defended him in a letter to the magazine, praising the president for seeking the advice of “Bible-believing Christians and patriotic Americans”.
Franklin Graham, son of the magazine’s founder Billy Graham, who advised both Republican and Democratic presidents over several decades, said the editorial was a “totally partisan attack.”
Meanwhile, other religious scholars and leaders have signed a petitihere in support of Christianity Today, stating that the “United States evangelical and Christian community is at a moral crossroads.”
Younger evangelicals are put off by church leaders’ seemingly unconditional support for Trump despite his “cruel” treatment of migrants and deregulation that could damage the environment, said Marlena Graves, a Christian author on faith, culture and justice, who signed the petition.
“No political party embodies Jesus’s teaching closely. You can’t depend on government to do what Jesus says because, oftentimes, you have to go against the government,” she said, citing evangelical believers who worked to abolish black slavery and Christians who resisted Nazism in Germany.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment. It announced on Friday the Jan. 3 launch of “Evangelicals for Trump”, a coalition to support the president in the November 2020 election.
Reporting by Simon Lewis and Heather Timmons; Editing by Daniel Wallis

From Wikipedia
United States
Christianity is the largest religion in the United States. In 2016, Christians represented 73.7% of the total population. In 2019, Christians represented 65% of the total population. Nationwide Catholic membership increased between 2000 and 2017, but the number of churches declined by nearly 11%. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) lost about 30% of its congregation and closed 12.5% of its churches: the United Methodist church lost 16.7% of its congregation and 10.2% of its churches. The Presbyterian Church has had the sharpest decline in church membership: between 2000 and 2015 they lost over 40% of their congregation and 15.4% of their churches. Infant baptism has also decreased; nationwide, Catholic baptisms are down by nearly 34%, and ELCA baptisms by over 40%.
In 2018, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that churches in Minnesota were being closed due to dwindling attendance. Mainline protestant churches in Minnesota have seen the sharpest declines in their congregations. The Catholic Church has closed 81 churches between 2000 and 2017; the Archdiocese of Minneapolis closed 21 churches in 2010 and has had to merge dozens more. In roughly the same time frame, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Minnesota has lost 200,000 members and closed 150 churches. The United Methodist Church, which is Minnesota’s second-largest Protestant denomination, has closed 65 of its churches. In the early 1990’s, the Archdiocese of Chicago closed almost 40 Catholic churches and schools. In 2016, increasing costs and priest shortages fueled plans to close or consolidate up to 100 Chicago Catholic churches and schools in the next 15 years.
Moderate and liberal denominations in the United States have been closing down churches at a rate three or four times greater than the number of new churches being consecrated. However according to The Christian Century, the rate of annual closures is approximately 1% and quite low relative to other types of institutions. It has been asserted that of the approximately 3,700 churches that close each year, up to half are unsuccessful new churches.
Denominations like Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Eastern Orthodox have had slight increases in membership between 2003 and 2018. Nevertheless, the number of adults in the United States who do not report any religious affiliation nearly doubled over that period. In 2017, Schnabel and Bock argued that while “moderate religion” has declined in the United States since the late 1980s, “intense religion” including evangelicalism has persisted.

An earlier ‘Fake News!’ to delude the American public
Decemter 29, 2019
by Christian Jürs

In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel’s occupation of the rest of its “biblical lands” (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.
What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that before the big battle begins, all “true believers” (ie those who believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow.
The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. This means staging confrontations at the old temple site (in 2000, three US Christians were deported for trying to blow up the mosques there), sponsoring Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, demanding ever more US support for Israel, and seeking to provoke a final battle with the Muslim world/Axis of Evil/United Nations/ European Union/France or whoever the legions of the antichrist turn out to be.
The believers are convinced that they will soon be rewarded for their efforts. The antichrist is apparently walking among us, in the guise of Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, Yasser Arafat or, more plausibly, Silvio Berlusconi. The Wal-Mart corporation is also a candidate (in my view a very good one), because it wants to radio-tag its stock, thereby exposing humankind to the Mark of the Beast.
By clicking on www.raptureready.com, you can discover how close you might be to flying out of your pajamas. The infidels among us should take note that the Rapture Index currently stands at 144, just one point below the critical threshold, beyond which the sky will be filled with floating nudists. Beast Government, Wild Weather and Israel are all trading at the maximum five points (the EU is debating its constitution, there was a freak hurricane in the south Atlantic, Hamas has sworn to avenge the killing of its leaders), but the second coming is currently being delayed by an unfortunate decline in drug abuse among teenagers and a weak showing by the antichrist (both of which score only two).
We can laugh at these people, but we should not dismiss them. That their beliefs are bonkers does not mean they are marginal. American pollsters believe that 15-18% of US voters belong to churches or movements which subscribe to these teachings. A survey in 2019 suggested that this figure included 33% of Republicans. The best-selling contemporary books in the US are the 12 volumes of the Left Behind series, which provide what is usually described as a “fictionalised” account of the Rapture (this, apparently, distinguishes it from the other one), with plenty of dripping details about what will happen to the rest of us. The people who believe all this don’t believe it just a little; for them it is a matter of life eternal and death.

‘Talking in Tongues’ for Fun and Profit.
by Cyril Blakeley, DD
The Christian Journal
December 25, 2019
The Pentecostals are a Christian cult that seriously believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but differ from fundamentalists and other evangelical Christian denominations by practicing exorcism, speaking in tongues, faith healing, and, in general, seeking supernatural experiences. Some of the better known Pentecostal denominations are Assemblies of God and the United Pentecostal Church.
Most consider the father of Pentecostalism to be Charles Parham, a young college student from Kansas with roots in the Methodist Church. While the Wesleys (John and Charles) could not be defined as Pentecostals, their theology laid the foundation upon which the Pentecostal movement would be built. Principally, it was the Methodist view that sanctification was a second work of grace, separate from salvation, coupled with the Holiness belief of a third experience, the “Baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire,” that intrigued Parham. Parham was also influenced by a fresh desire within his denominational circles to experience divine healing and speaking in tongues — practices that most Christians at the end of the nineteenth century believed had ceased with the apostolic age.
The Pentecostals created the theory of Rapture and the Tribulations, based on strained and improbable misinterpretation of Biblical verses and cobbled together a very irrational dogma that spoke of elevations to some kind of Paradise for cult members, the fictional Battle of Aramageddon, the return of Jesus Christ and other interesting but totally unfounded myths and legends.
In 1900, Parham opened a Bible college to promote these views, which he deemed “Apostolic Faith” theology. An interesting footnote is Parham’s theory that God would soon give His church the gift of tongues, in the form of known languages, so that the world could be quickly evangelized.
This end–time revival, accompanied by believers speaking in known languages they had never learned (xenolivia), would bring to an end the church age and bring back a triumphant Christ. Later, this theory proved untenable because most of the congregations could barely speak English, let alone other languages, and a more plausible new theory was invented that alleged the ecstatic speeches were actually unknown languages.
In point of fact, recordings of Pentecostals engaged in tongue talking were played to a number of language specialists and all of them stated, without disagreement, that the speech was not connected to any known language and was, in essence, nonsense.
This sort of behavior is known as religious mania and has been seen in societies for millennia. The Middle Ages saw the Dancing Mania and a large number of religious outbreaks of a similar nature. Pentecostals now forbid any recording of their verbal utterances while in the throes of ecstatic “experiences” because their leadership is well aware that “Talking in Tongues” is a psychological manifestation, not a religious one.
While Parham and his followers would not be the first modern day Christians to “speak in tongues” (that dubious honor apparently goes to W. F. Bryant and his disciples in 1896, who later formed the Church of God in Tennessee), Parham was the first to claim that “speaking in tongues” is the initial ‘evidence’ of “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” It was at a New Year’s Eve watchnight service in 1900 that Agnes Ozman, one of Parham’s students, finally “spoke in tongues”. Before the week was over, about half of the 34 members of the school, including Parham, had “spoken in tongues”.
In 1905 Parham opened a Bible school in Texas and began publishing a newspaper entitled The Apostolic Faith. Out of this Bible school came a major figure in the Pentecostal movement, William J. Seymour, a southern black Holiness preacher. Seymour soon moved to Los Angeles, where he led a revival at what was locally called the Azusa Street Mission. It was here that a Los Angeles Times reporter wrote that “colored people and a sprinkling of whites practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories, and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal”
Regardless of such criticism, by September 1906 the church reported about 13,000 people had received the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Although Seymour would seldom preach, meetings would often begin at 10:00 A.M. and continue until two or three the following morning.
Between 1906 and 1909, several thousand persons visited Azusa Street But while the Azusa Street Revival weathered the external storm of criticism, it soon began to unravel internally. Perhaps the handwriting was on the wall as early as October 1906, when Parham came to preach. He was shocked by many manifestations being portrayed as from the Holy Spirit, but were really, he believed, of the flesh or demonic. Parham and Seymour split and never reconciled. Seymour, from that time forward, eclipsed Parham as the dominant personality in the movement.
The fledgling cult was also beset with heightened racial tension. In the early months of Azusa Street, blacks and whites, men and women, shared leadership, although blacks were predominate. But soon Seymour asked all the Hispanics to leave, and eventually wrote by-laws that prevented anyone except African-Americans from holding office in the Pentecostal Mission. By 1909, the revival movement was spent, and the mission building was torn down after Seymour’s death.

Revenge is sweet

Just a moment or two thinking about the glories of the past.
I once lived in a nice, upper middle class town.
One of its inhabitants was a Jewish gentleman who happened to be a senior police official in that town.
He had heard that I was a collector of German helmets so, ipso facto, I must be a vicious Nazi Jew-hater.
With this motivation, he began to harass me.
I rather did not like being harassed.
I read in the local paper an article about his wife’s wonderful, jewel-like rock garden, the joy of her life and something she was deeply attached to.
Also, a bit later, I read in the same paper that both she and her husband were going on a vacation to visit her mother in some distant place.
When the same newspaper, which I personally would have used to line a cat box with, told me there was a heavy rain expected in the next day, an idea occurred to me.
Later that evening I walked over to their house, only three blocks from my own. On my back was a pack containing a big bag of rock salt and a smaller bag with roofing nails.
Their house was dark when I walked up the drive and into the back yard, wherein lay the famed rock garden.
In a half an hour, I had salted the entire area and on the way down the driveway, I tossed out random handfuls of roofing nails onto its surface.
And then I chanced to notice a garden hose coiled up on a drum on their front porch.
I connected one end of the hose to a faucet on the front wall of the house and stuck the other end into a mail slot on their front door. Turning on the water full force, I finished my evening stroll by going home and taking a nice hot shower.
Later that night, there was heavy rain.
I was not around when my targets returned from their visit but I was able to construct a reasonably accurate scenario from brief observations, comments from neighbors and articles in the local paper.
First, a gentle crunching sound as they drove over the roofing nails.
Then they noticed water running down their front steps and onto the lawn.
Putting their bags down on the dry part of the walk, they went up on the porch where the husband noted the hose stuck in his mail slot.
I understand this short-tempered and foul-mouthed man was loud in his comments.
He turned the water off but for some reason, probably tons of water behind it, the front door would not open.
He shoved it hard and it opened enough to permit a huge wave to pour out, drenching his legs and feet and those of his wife and soaking his luggage.
The police and fire departments were called on his car radio.
The fire department came and later brought in a pumping vehicle to get more water out of the fully-flooded basement.
What I did not know was that they had lovingly turned their cellar into a wonderful area for relaxation and enjoyment.
A pity that her sewing room and his memory room containing his family pictures and military service awards and pictures, along with the billiard table, carpets, furniture, heating and air conditioning units were all ruined.
The furniture had been floating, bumping against the ceiling, and upstairs there was even more desolation and ruin.
The flooring, the carpets, the lower extremities of the furniture, the linoleum, all the wallboard and many other features of their house were soaked through and essentially ruined.
Also, as an added attraction, the entire house was full of mold.
They had to live in a motel for three months while the insurance company had the house almost completely rebuilt inside but the real jewel in the crown of anguish happened the day after the return.
Wanting to water her plants, the wife drove back to the ruined house and the neighbors said her shrieks of anguish as she viewed the total destruction of her precious plantings could be heard for miles.
It took two months to repair the water damage and when the hysterical wife replanted the flowers, she did not change the salt-soaked earth with the result that within a week, all again was death and destruction.
But this was not the end of my tale.
Her father died and she inherited money so she and her husband, who was still searching for the vandal, or vandals, who had destroyed their abode, moved out of town to a neighboring, and very expensive, other town.
A pity for them the local paper reported this, for more joy and happiness became their reward.
The new house, a colonial place at the end of cul-de-sac on a quiet and exclusive street was my next target.
Someone, apparently from the local newspaper, called the wife and told her they were going to do an article in the paper on their new house and would she and her husband be at home the following Saturday?
And could their gardening editor view the new rock garden?
She was delighted to invite them.
I came too on that Saturday, sitting in the back of a panel truck belonging to a local plumber whose son, a friend, was driving.
My, my, about nine in the morning, instead of respectful reporters, hundreds of people to include plumbers, electricians, pool salesmen, painters, driveway renewers, furniture salesmen, Chinese dinner preparers, insurance salesmen, tree trimmers, people seeking work via inserted articles in many local papers, funeral homes, pet groomers, various religious organizations, attorneys, and landscape gardeners were jamming into the narrow street in response to many, many phone calls I had made earlier.
The rampant confusion, noise, rage and destruction was more precious to me than a well-performed Bach cantata.
The peaceful area was turned into something depicted by Bosch and irate people, unable to negotiate the jammed lane, took to driving across well-groomed lawns, murdering stone lawn dwarves, flowerbeds, fences and lamp posts in their desperate attempts to get back on the main roads.
And at the height of the frenzies, some friend called not only the fire department to report a serious house fire, but the local police to report a murder and three ambulance firms to request aid for a heart attack victim.
I can tell you, sitting in the van, that the loud bellowing of sirens, the smashing noises as vehicles collided, the crunch of defenseless fences, the screaming and cursing of violated neighbors whose lawns looked like the battle of the Somme had taken place there, was something that once heard could never be forgotten.
Subsequently, the wife divorced her husband, partially because her beloved Siamese, Mr. Wong, was run over by an insurance salesman trying to drive across her back lawn.
The police official left the employment of the local police department, after he got out of the clinic where he had spent two weeks recovering from the outrageous events.
The violated neighbors sued the both of them for damages but at that point, I had more or less lost interest in them and had gone on to other things.
The motto here is that no one is safe from some people and that it is an excellent idea to avoid these people and their ire.
And there is no defense against such attacks, is there?

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 43
A city bus, stopped in the heavy traffic, opened its back door to let off several curious passengers and Claude scrambled on board. The driver was too preoccupied with the traffic jam and never bothered to ask Claude for a fare.
The bus finally managed to break free from the city’s clogged traffic arteries and Claude watched the nightlife of Philadelphia through water-streaked windows until the bus finally stopped at a covered passenger shelter in a more up-scale suburb.
Right behind the stop was a motor inn with a vacancy sign in the window and Claude climbed down the steps.
The desk clerk looked curiously at this small, young man who had very red eyes and a haunted look.
“And what can I do for you, son? Looking for someone?”
“Can I rent a room, sir? I’m supposed to meet my father here tomorrow.”
The clerk leaned over the counter and stared at him.
“You have to pay for the room in front, kid. You don’t have any luggage, do you.”
“No, sir. It’s out at the airport. I can pay for it now and my dad gave me some money. He has to meet his boss right now.”
He pulled out the handful of bills he had taken from the sandwich shop and mollified the clerk.
“You want to check in for two or one?”
“My dad said for one. He said I need my sleep after the trip and he’ll get his own room.”
“Then you want a single. Do you want cable? Movies?”
Television was not allowed at the orphanage and the only movies the inmates ever saw were VCR reports of various Papal trips.
“I guess so, sir. Movies would be fine. Where can I watch them?”
He envisioned a theater right in the hotel.
“Why in the room, son. I’ll hook you right up as soon as you check in. The directions are on the card by the TV set.”
The room was a standard, moderately up-scale hotel room but to Claude, it looked like the palace of Versailles. There were two huge double beds, a full bathroom, a large television set, a telephone, tables and an empty ice bucket and paper-covered glasses. He took some time exploring the room and then peeked outside through the thick drapes. All he could see was falling snow punctuated with distant moving lights. There was no sign of the fire which by now had burnt itself nearly out, along with all of the tenants and a number of emergency personnel who had been trapped when the walls collapsed.
Now, Claude reasoned, he was at least half an orphan but he ceased mourning and began to investigate the television. The directions were indeed by the set and he looked at the choice of films available to him. Strangely enough, he had no real idea about how to operate a television set and it took him about ten minutes to figure it out.
Before he embarked on a visual journey, he decided to take a bath, a very rare luxury at the orphanage where the orphans were allowed one cold water shower a week, a shower strictly supervised by the sisters to prevent any untoward sexual problems from developing amongst their charges.
Claude wandered nude around the bathroom while the tub filled. He looked at the hair dryer attached to the wall, the magnificent toilet with a paper strip over the seat and a great pile of plush towels. At the orphanage, each child had a single towel with their name imprinted on it, a towel that had to last for one year and dared not be lost, misplaced or otherwise damaged. Here, there were stacks of luxurious towels, all available to him for his own use to soil, lose or even dry himself with if he wanted. All of this because he had stolen the contents of the cash drawer. If he had not done so, he might have had to take his precious horde out of his shoe and that might have proven embarrassing in front of the clerk.
He lay supine in the large tub, the rubber safety matting pressing against his buttocks and the room filled with so much steam that he couldn’t even see the neighboring toilet. Claude sank down into the water until only his nose stuck out and he lay there for a long time, thinking back over the events of the past week.
When the water began to cool off, he surged upwards and added more hot water. A hot bath, he was discovering, was a relatively cheap but very effective way of washing away more than the dirt of the day, or week as it were in his case.
An hour later, his body a deep red and his fingers wrinkled like white prunes, he dried off and then began to investigate the promising pleasures of the television set and the movies. Claude had never seen a movie since he was six and he had no idea what the choices on the card consisted of but he chose one with an exciting title. He eventually managed to negotiate the directions and then lay down on one of the beds and watched one hour and thirty two minutes of car chases, shootings, two rapes, one bank robbery, one scene of a man being set on fire by his wife and assorted other depictions of mayhem.
This was followed by an interlude of local news which he watched with great interest because most of it was dedicated to the building he had torched earlier in the day. The announcer, standing in front of a backdrop of smoke and flames, indicated that the death toll could reach as high as fifty and that the reason for this was because the rear fire escape had caught fire at the same time the flames destroyed the electrical power, disabling the elevator.
He saw almost the same production on three different channels and then decided on watching the other movie. This one consisted of a science fiction drama where alien life forms sucked the blood out of screaming, large-breasted women. He went to sleep long before someone discovered that the aliens could be killed with ordinary table salt and was spared the sight of bubbling and foaming computer-created giant snails lurching around the streets of Los Angeles in their death throes.

Claude was used to getting up at six in the morning to the dinning of the bells that had regulated his life for seven years. There had been no bells and he was tired after his hot bath and the previous day’s exertions, and he slept until eleven.
The phone began to ring and he managed to get the receiver off the hook with very little trouble. It was the daytime desk clerk, a woman, reminding him that checkout time was one o’clock and did he plan to stay another day?
He replied that he would let her know and quickly got up and dressed.
The damp money went back into his socks and he walked down to the lobby, still unsure of what course he planned to take. He had never had to make any decisions for himself for years and he was unused to the concept. Claude was, however, a quick learner. He would not go back to Florida under any circumstances and he had strong objections to remaining anywhere near Philadelphia. Aside from his absent father and vaporized mother, he was unaware of any relatives and he certainly had no friends to importune.
Before making up his mind, he sat down in the lobby and tried to look serious.
After about a half an hour of watching guests come and go, he noticed a tall man with curly graying hair engaged in conversation with the desk clerk. The man looked at his watch and then around the lobby. Claude paid no more attention to him and picked up an elderly magazine from the stack on the table beside him.
“Excuse me, son, are you waiting for someone?”
It was not the police or the desk clerk but the man he had been looking at a few minutes ago.
Claude had no idea who he was so he was very careful what he said.
“Yes sir, I’m waiting for my cousin to come by. I guess he’s about two hours late.”
The man sat down in the chair next to him.
“Do you want a ride somewhere? I’m here for a doctor’s convention and I have to get to a seminar later this afternoon. I would be glad to give you a ride. Where does your cousin live?”
Sensing the possibility of a trap, Claude shrugged.
“I don’t know. He lives in…in Miami and he was supposed to drive up here and meet me. He’s always late. Once he made me wait for a whole day because he got lost.”
The man smiled.
“Well, don’t you have a family in town here?”
“No, sir. Both of my parents are dead. I was living with my aunt but she died last week. My cousin wants me to go to Florida and live with him and his girlfriend but I don’t think she likes me.”
If nothing else, Claude was a very creative liar and quick on his feet.
“Well,” said the man, who was apparently a doctor, “would you like to have some lunch? I had to take a room here because my usual hotel was booked solid. It’s so inconvenient being stuck out here in the boondocks. Are you staying here?”
Claude thought about this for a minute.
“No sir, I don’t have any place to stay.”
The man looked very sympathetic and put his hand on Claude’s leg. This was the same approach that Father Benedict had used on Claude and a number of his friends and he recognized the intent at once.
“Well, I tell you what, I’ll go and tell the desk clerk to let us know when your cousin gets here and we can go up to my room and order some lunch from the dining room. That way you can be comfortable until your cousin comes. Now how does that sound?”
Claude could have told him what it sounded like but he said nothing. Instead, he nodded tentatively.
“I guess that sounds OK with me. Are you a doctor?”
“Why I certainly am. Do you have a problem?”
“Well,” Claude thought for a minute, “see there was this big fire downtown and the wall came down and something hit my back. I can’t see back there but it’s still sore.”
The doctor was properly solicitous.
“Why of course, I will be glad to look at it for you. We don’t want anything to get infected, do we?”
No, Claude thought, we sure don’t.
“Then it’s all decided? I’ll go over and talk to the desk clerk and you can go up to my room.” He looked at his key. “It’s room 408. Just go down the hall and take the elevator. I’ll meet you up there in just a minute.”
When Claude disappeared down the hall, the doctor got up, looked at his watch ostentatiously and walked over to the clerk.
“I think I’ll be staying another night. I doubt if my regular place will have any checkouts. Just put it on my card. Oh, and can I have room service?”
“Yes sir. The number is on the card by the phone.”
There was no mention of the cousin.
And in this manner did Claude enter into the second phase of his life.
He had some rudimentary knowledge of how it worked based entirely upon his own embryonic experiences at the orphanage and as long as matters did not get out of control, he had no problems with the various activities required of him.
The doctor had been celibate for too long and initially tended to be frantic in his endeavors but eventually settled down to less intense activity.
His medical conference over, he was so pleased with Claude’s behavior that he took him back to his home in one of the better parts of Boston.
Here Claude took up residence on the second floor of an old but substantial house. The first floor was occupied by the doctor’s invalid mother, her nurse and a maid and cook combination. As none of them were permitted above the first floor, the doctor felt his nocturnal, and occasional weekend, romps would pass unnoticed.
With the doctor gone most of the day because of his surgical duties, Claude amused himself by making tours of Boston. He had a small allowance and this permitted him to use public transportation at will and dine in various fast food restaurants.


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