TBR News November 7, 2018

Nov 07 2018

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

Washington, D.C. November 7, 2018:” The Republicans, having lost the House, are willing to negotiate future legislations but Trump is scraming with frustrated rage and attacking the media and his own party for the loss. This man will never negotiate and  does not tolerate being crossed by anyone. It is not difficult to prognosticate that the nation is in for tempests in tea pots and instead of diplomacy, Trump will descend into fury, threats and petty revenges because the voters have dared to challenge him. Since any competent professional psychologist can clearly see that Trump is suffering from pre-Alzheimers, it would not be surprising if, at a press conference, he began a string of senseless babble while his horrified aides stood by and the insulted media members made notes. Trump might be more pitied than censured if he were not the President and had the ability to launch nuclear-tipped missiles against anyone he chose. I had such a mother-in-law at one time and I, not my wife, had to commit her to a clinic. She spent the rest of her life, five years to be exact, talking to dead relatives and voiding yesterday’s dinner in her hospital bed. ‘Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.’ This is an old Roman adage but it is applicable today.”

The Table of Contents 

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 73
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Donald Trump’s unchecked hold on power has come to an end
  • Trump vows to resist any Democratic effort to investigate White House
  • America Goes to War
  • More candidates, more money and a big bet: How Democrats won the House


Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 73

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

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 teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • May 17, 2018

“It’s very hard for us to sell our cars into the European Union. But the European Union — in this case, Germany — has its Mercedes and its BMWs and its cars pouring into the United States with no barriers.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: The U.S. also has non-tariff trade barriers on European cars. These barriers include environmental standards that differ from those of the European Union. “It’s worth noting that all countries have ‘barriers’ to foreign-sourced vehicles, and the U.S. is no exception. I refer to safety and emission laws,” said Bill Hampton, editor-in-chief of AutoBeat Daily. “Volkswagen’s diesel emission scandal is about this very issue: VW diesels that meet European emission standards aren’t clean enough to meet our regulations. Rather than spend the money to add more sophisticated emission controls, VW opted for illegal software to game the emission test.”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“And frankly, the European Union — outside of China and a couple of others — treats us, on trade, as badly as you can be treated. They have trade barriers. Our farmers aren’t allowed, to a large extent, to sell their product into the European Union.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: While U.S. farmers do face some trade barriers in selling into the European Union, it is a gross exaggeration to say they “aren’t allowed, to a large extent,” to make these sales. According to the website of Trump’s own Department of Agriculture, the U.S. exported $11.6 billion in agricultural items to the European Union in 2016. That is a 55 per cent increase, the department noted, from $7.5 billion in exports in 2006. The department also noted that the E.U. is the fourth-largest agricultural export market for the U.S.

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“Look, the European Union has been terrible to the United States on trade. They’ve been terrible to our workers. The European Union — last year, we had a trade deficit of $151 billion.” And: “So we lost $151 billion last year dealing with the European Union.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: The $151 billion figure counts only trade in goods and ignores trade in services, in which the U.S. has a significant surplus. Including all kinds of trade, the overall U.S. trade balance with the European Union in 2017 was a deficit of $102 billion, according to U.S. government statistics.

Trump has repeated this claim 29 times

“So when the MS-13 comes in, when the other gang members come into our country, I refer to them as ‘animals.’ And guess what? I always will. But we’re getting them out by the thousands.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: “By the thousands” is an exaggeration; it is more like “by the hundreds,” or “by the dozens.” ICE told PolitiFact that its investigations division arrested 405 MS-13 members in the first quarter of fiscal 2018.The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, said in December that “a renewed focus on ID’ing & dismantling the ultra-violent MS-13 gang led to nearly 800 arrests in (fiscal year) 2017, for an 83 per cent increase over last year.” That figure is disputed, as some of the people arrested may not be actual members of the gang. Even if they are, though, that too is far from “thousands.”

Trump has repeated this claim 15 times

“But we’ll see. That’s just — look, if you remember, a few weeks ago, all of the sudden, out of nowhere, Kim Jong Un went to China to say hello, again, a second time, to President Xi. I think they were dedicating an aircraft carrier paid for largely by the United States.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: This aircraft carrier was the first Chinese aircraft carrier to be made in China. It is not at all clear what Trump meant when he said it was “paid for largely by the United States.” (He sometimes argues that the U.S. essentially pays for all Chinese infrastructure because of China’s profits from a trade relationship he believes is of disproportionate benefit to China, but he did not explain here that he was making this kind of indirect argument rather than speaking literally.)

“Now, whether or not we should have, I could tell you I was against it from the beginning because look what we have right now: We’ve spent $7 trillion — can you believe that — $7 trillion in the Middle East. Right out the window. You might as well throw the money right out the window. And we’ve done a lot of infrastructure. We just had airports approved. You saw that. A lot of things are happening. But we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, and look where we are right now. It’s pretty sad.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: There is no basis for the “$7 trillion” figure. During the 2016 campaign, Trump cited a $6 trillion estimate that appeared to be taken from a 2013 report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project. (That report estimated $2 trillion in costs up to that point but said the total could rise an additional $4 trillion by 2053.) Trump, however, used the $6 trillion as if it was a current 2016 figure. He later explained that since additional time has elapsed since the campaign, he believes the total is now $7 trillion. That is incorrect. The latest Brown report, issued in late 2017, put the current total at $4.3 trillion, and the total including estimated future costs at $5.6 trillion.

Trump has repeated this claim 17 times

“But we lost $800 billion on trade last year, if you add it all up, of which China was around the $500 billion mark.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: The trade deficit with China was $337 billion in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods. There is no definition under which it was even close to $500 billion. (Trump was also wrong about the overall trade deficit. The U.S. had a $566 billion trade deficit in 2017. The deficit can only be described as $800 billion — $810 billion, to be precise — if you ignore all trade in services and only count trade in goods. As usual, Trump did not specify that he was doing so.

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“But we lost $800 billion on trade last year, if you add it all up, of which China was around the $500 billion mark. So we lost $800 billion. Can you believe that? Is that an amazing thing to even think about? We lost $800 billion on trade. We’re not going to be doing that any longer.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: The U.S. had a $566 billion trade deficit with the world in 2017. The deficit can only be described as $800 billion — $810 billion, to be precise — if you ignore all trade in services and only count trade in goods. As usual, Trump did not specify that he was doing so. (Trump was also wrong about the trade deficit with China: it was $337 billion in total in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods; there is no definition under which it was even close to $500 billion.)

Trump has repeated this claim 30 times

“Well, I’ve been telling China that we are — you people have been covering trade, and you’ve been covering China, and you’ve been covering everything for a long time. Have you ever even seen a negotiating in trade? Nobody has ever seen anybody from our country even negotiate on trade — trade with China and with other countries.” And: “But with all the years, and all the years that you’ve covered trade and nations and wars, and everything else, you’ve never seen people come over from China to work on a trade deal.”

Source: Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

in fact: Trump is free to criticize how his predecessors handled their trade negotiations, but it is obviously false that nobody has ever seen Americans negotiate on trade at all. The claim is false even with regard to China in this decade. For example, Chinese leaders and the Obama administration completed negotiations in 2014 “on a plan to eliminate tariffs on dozens of high-tech products — including GPS devices, medical equipment and game consoles — in a breakthrough that U.S. officials said could boost trade and create jobs,” the Washington Post reported at the time.

“Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History…and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction. The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — simply does not apply to the Russia-related activities of the Democrats. This accusation is based on the fact that the British ex-spy who produced a research dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia, which was funded in part by Clinton’s campaign, used Russian sources in compiling his information. This does not come close to meeting the definition of “collusion.”

Trump has repeated this claim 22 times

  • May 18, 2018

“America is blessed with extraordinary energy abundance, including more than 250 years worth of beautiful clean coal.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is debate about just how many years worth of coal the U.S. has left. The government’s Energy Information Administration says “recoverable coal reserves would last about 348 years” based on 2016 use patterns, so Trump’s substantive claim is based in fact. However, the phrase “clean coal” is dishonest in itself, a creation of industry spin — and even if you believe the spin, the phrase is not meant to be applied to all coal, which is how Trump uses it. The phrase “clean coal,” the New York Times reported last year, “is often understood to mean coal plants that capture the carbon dioxide emitted from smokestacks and bury it underground as a way of limiting global warming.”

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There may have been reports somewhere that said this. But it is not true, and we’re not going to cut the president slack for saying something untrue merely because he has attributed it to an unnamed source — especially with the “indeed” that suggests Trump had confirmed this claim. What actually happened, according to reports from credible media outlets, is that the FBI used an informant outside the campaign, a university professor who is a longtime Republican, to obtain information from people within the campaign. There are no credible reports of an “FBI representative implanted” into the campaign itself.

“‘Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit.’ David Asman @LouDobbs @GreggJarrett Really bad stuff!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is not an actual quote from Asman, the Fox personality. Asman said: “‘Apparently the DOJ put a spy in the Trump campaign. This has never been done before, and again, by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump.” More than four minutes later, Asman was talking about the leak of banking information about Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, when he said, “Very private records, and individuals have leaked them to the attorney for the porn star, to Michael Avenatti, which is a crime. I mean, who is doing all this if not a group of people that, as you say, are out to frame Donald Trump?” Trump took the “frame Donald Trump” part of that quote and added it to the first quote about the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign.

  • May 20, 2018

“The Witch Hunt finds no Collusion with Russia – so now they’re looking at the rest of the World. Oh’ great!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is no indication that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has found that there was no collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Trump has repeated this claim 18 times

“….At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP! They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction…”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Nothing in this rapid-fire series of claims is verifiably true. Trump’s estimate of the cost of the special counsel probe might come the closest to accuracy: the probe cost $6.7 million in its first five months, so it’s not impossible that it will eventually cost $20 million. The rest, though, is either highly misleading or plainly incorrect. In claiming the probe is composed of Democrats, Trump omitted that the person running it, special counsel Robert Mueller, is a longtime Republican. Trump did not say here who he was claiming “worked for Obama for 8 years,” but he has previously made this claim about Mueller himself; Mueller served under Obama for less than five years. And there is no indication that the probe has found either “no collusion with Russia” or “no obstruction.”

Trump has repeated this claim 18 times

“Now that the Witch Hunt has given up on Russia and is looking at the rest of the World, they should easily be able to take it into the Mid-Term Elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is no indication that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has “given up on Russia.”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“Things are really getting ridiculous. The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The New York Times story did not indicate that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has “found nothing on Russia.” The story, about the interactions between Donald Trump Jr. and a man allegedly acting as an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, actually said Mueller was looking into — among other things — whether any election assistance offered to Trump by countries other than Russia “was coordinated with Russia.”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

  • May 22, 2018

“Since the election, we have created more than 3.3 million new jobs. And if I would have said that prior to the election, those people back there — you know who that is, right? That’s called ‘the fake news, fake news.’ They would have said, ‘What a ridiculous statement. He’s saying he’s going to project 3.3 million new jobs? How ridiculous is that?’ Well, guess what? We did it. Fake news.”

Source: Speech to the Susan B. Anthony List

in fact: It is not true that nobody would have believed 3.3 million jobs could be created over this period (November 2016 through April 2018). That is an 18-month period. The number of jobs created over the previous 18 months, under Obama, was 3.9 million.

Trump has repeated this claim 16 times

“And the other day — just the other day — Nancy Pelosi came out in favor of MS-13. That’s the first time I’ve heard that.”

Source: Speech to the Susan B. Anthony List

in fact: Pelosi expressed no support for MS-13. She simply objected to Trump’s use of the word “animals” at an event in which he criticized the gang. (The precise meaning of Trump’s comment was unclear. Some Democrats, and others, believed he was referring broadly to unauthorized immigrants; Trump said he was only talking about members of MS-13, which had been talked about by the person he was addressing.) Pelosi, one of the Democrats who interpreted Trump’s comments broadly, argued that “we’re all God’s children, there’s a spark of divinity in every person on Earth,” and that “we all have to recognize that, as we respect the dignity and worth of every person, and as we recognize our responsibilities with that spark of divinity within us.”

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“And something you haven’t heard for 21 years: Wages are rising at the fastest pace in more than time — they said 21. I did hear 19. I have to be very accurate with these folks. Let’s put it this way: Wages are rising at a very fast level. Very fast.”

Source: Speech to the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Gala

in fact: Wage growth in early 2018 has been widely described by economic analysts as “weak” or “slow.” (One CNBC headline in early May: “All the signs are there for higher pay, but the ‘mystery of missing wage growth’ continues.”) Wages are not rising at a faster past than they did even in the recent past: the 2.6 per cent growth in April was lower than the 2.7 per cent growth in Obama’s last full month in office, Dec. 2016.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“As I said, we lost $500 billion a year (with China) for many years. And then it varied from $100 billion to $500 billion. When you’re losing $500 billion a year, you can’t lose in terms of a negotiation.”

Source: South Korean President Moon Jae-in

in fact: The U.S. has never once had a $500 billion trade deficit with China, according to U.S. government data — even if you only count goods trade and don’t count the services trade at which the U.S. excels. The goods deficit itself has never been higher than it was in 2017: $375 billion.

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“…Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is simply no evidence that the FBI, much less political officials in the Obama administration, used an informant to try to assist Clinton against Trump, or that they did anything nefarious to sabotage Bernie Sanders. The informant was used once the FBI became concerned about the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia; he was not “implanted” in the campaign, as Trump alleged, but rather made contact with campaign aides to try to glean information.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

November 7 2018

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. 60

Date: Wednesday, January 22, 1997

Commenced:  10:01 AM CST

Concluded:  10:21 AM CST

GD: Good day to you, Robert. Thank you for the mailing on Costello. I will send you his death certificate after the weekend. Of course it was AIDS. Lee was almost hysterical when I told him this.

RTC: I wonder why?

GD: He’ll probably rush to his doctor for a checkup.

RTC: Now, now, Gregory. Unkind.

GD: Well why get your balls into an uproar when you find out someone died of AIDS?

RTC: There could be many reasons.

GD: Yes, no doubt, but the first assumption is one of personal concern, not sympathy. I understand Costello’s brother, who is in the RN, refused to accept the body. Ah, well, in the midst of life, Robert.

RTC: Of course. Just the certificate?

GD: And the post-mortem report. It was the AIDS pneumonia that took him off on the plane. I wonder if rigor had set in when they landed? They would have to carry him off in a sitting position. Maybe they put one of their cheap blankets over him and pretended he was a broken seat.

RTC: You are in a fine mood today, I must say.

GD: I beat Jesus at poker last night and he wouldn’t pay up. He keeps hiding cards in that hole in his side.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: I wanted to ask you about this business with Oswald. You know, shooting with two guns out of the window, shooting some Dallas cop, and so on. Can you give me any input here?

RTC: Oswald had nothing to do with the business. Nothing at all. He was an asset of ONI and he worked for both of us at Atsugi. That’s our U-2 base in Japan. He spoke Russian, after a fashion, and was instructed to act like a Marxist to rope in some Jap spies there. A clever young man but a bit of a troublemaker. No, Oswald had nothing to do with it. I said we had used him once and we had a dossier on him. He was perfect for the role of patsy. Married the niece of a top MVD officer, an avowed Marxist and so on. And, joy of joys, he worked at the book building. We had the presidential cavalcade rerouted to go right past it, to be certain. And we had a resource in the Cuban Embassy in Mexico who swore Oswald was in there trying to flee to Cuba. It does pay to have people in the right place, Gregory. Never know when you might need them.

GD: Interesting. And he was using an Argentine Mauser which magically turned into a Mannlicher-Carcano. My God, you couldn’t hit a barn with that piece of shit if you were inside it. The Mauser, on the other hand, was a good gun.

RTC: Yes. The Mauser belonged to the wrong people, so the other piece was substituted. We made sure that it could be traced to him. And we got the wife to admit seeing the wop gun. Of course in her condition, she would identify a crossbow or a polar bear.

GD: And the Ruby business. Too pat.

RTC: Of course. Ruby was from the Chicago mob and I had connections with them through my father. You see, Ruby had cancer and knew he was probably going to die soon enough so he was put up to silencing Oswald. Oswald was not involved and if it ever went to trial, it would all come out. The Navy didn’t want it to come out that they hired him and the FBI didn’t want it out that he had worked for them so everyone was happy when Ruby did his deed in the basement. Of course, later he found out they might execute him instead of letting die comfortably in a Dallas hospital so he got alarmed and was trying to get out of it. I don’t know why, Gregory. He knew all about keeping quiet, but he was a Jew and very emotional. Not stable, but he did his work as he was told. And we had some use for him earlier over sending guns to Castro. I suppose you knew that the Company was an early supporter of Castro? Put him in place, as it were. Now that was a classic mistake. I had nothing to do with that. We spent years trying to clean that one up. Kennedy found out about our role in that because he had Bissel’s phone tapped and loose lips can sink careers as well as ships.

GD: The tangled web.

RTC: What?

GD: ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

RTC: Sounds like Shakespeare.

GD: Walter Scott to be exact. Anyway, given all the loose ends, I’m amazed none of this has come out.

RTC: No, we had an army of real idiots running around with fifty different weird theories and stories, so the public had other things to amuse and entertain them. The umbrella man, the man in the sewer, the tramps in the railroad yard, shooting at General Walker and on and on.

GD: The Warren Report is an un-indexed pack of creative writing.

RTC: Of course it is. Our many friends at The New York Times have been pushing that and the really silly Posner fairytale. Well, the Times is one of our finest assets right along. Not a bad paper, but they do what they’re told. And Jerry Ford running to Hoover, tongue hanging out, with the latest news of the commission’s meetings. Of course Colonel Hoover knew the whole thing. What a huge farce all of that was.

GD: I wonder why none of the truth ever came out?

RTC: Gregory, the American public is as stupid as a post. They’ll go for fried ice cream every time. And the press knows where their bread is buttered, so we never worry about them. Bought and paid for, Gregory, bought and paid for. And we had Ben over at the Post to cinch up matters there for us. Very reliable. He and Angleton cleaned up some of the messes after Kennedy was hit. No, the press can always be counted on.

GD: My late grandfather used to say something right on point. ‘Once a newspaperman, always a whore.’

RTC: Was your grandfather a reporter?

GD: No, a banker.


(Concluded at 10:21 CST


Donald Trump’s unchecked hold on power has come to an end

The midterm elections just fundamentally changed the president’s life. He may not know it yet, but he soon will

November 7, 2018

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

Deep in the darkest recesses of Donald Trump’s very, very large brain, there is now a nagging feeling that gnaws at his braggadocious narcissism. His own supporters are just not that into him any more.

Not all of them have abandoned him, for sure. The angry old men are still there, screaming their insults at immigrants, the media and anyone else who isn’t an angry old man.

But all those white women – the people he called a majority of women (because the rest of them don’t count to him) – they just ran for the doors that say Trexit.

The exit polls gave Democrats a massive 21-point advantage among women, while Republicans scored just a two-point lead among men. White women split 50-48 for the anti-Trump movement known as Democrats. The only age group that Republicans won were 65 and older – and that was only by one point.

Just two years ago, in those same exit polls, white women gave Trump a nine-point lead over the first woman to hold a major party’s presidential nomination. Married women were pretty divided in 2016, but leaned heavily towards Democrats on Tuesday.

The 2018 election was a story of suburban white female flight away from Trump, shifting a Texas statewide race into nail-biting territory for the first time in more than two decades. You don’t need to be a political consultant to know what a competitive Texas means for the presidential contest that begins almost immediately.

To be sure, this is the point where sensible pundits say that midterms are different from presidential cycles. Obama lost heavily in the 2010 midterms and won re-election handily two years later. But he was, um, sane and normal and cared about reaching voters in the middle. Trump isn’t and doesn’t and shows no capacity to learn.

So let’s remember the essence of Trump as people speculatively suggest that he could triangulate between the newly elected Democrats controlling the House and the old-school Republicans running the Senate. This is a man who can’t help himself whether it’s blabbing intelligence to the Russians, trashing the woman who accused his US supreme court nominee of sexual assault, or race-baiting Latinos who are the fastest-growing voter bloc in the nation.

No, Trump can’t change, no matter what the voters tell him. He just gets ever more Trumpy, grasping for the last thinning hairs of his far-right conspiracies as they circle the bathroom sink.

Of course there’s enough decent news for Trump to fake himself and his followers into thinking that everything is orange peachy. The 2018 midterms were not a complete tsunami wiping out every standing Republican. The Republican party picked up a few US senate seats on a battlefield that tilted heavily towards them, based on a six-year cycle that coincided with Obama’s re-election year. If that qualifies as a victory, then England can celebrate several World Cup wins since 1966.

Republicans should have sailed to victory at a time of relative peace and prosperity, with unemployment at historic lows and wages rising. But in the House – a truly national contest, unlike the US Senate – voters showed there were clear electoral limits to Trump’s rabidly anti-immigrant racism and stunningly shameless sexism.

It turns out that so-called populism isn’t all that popular. It turns out that suburban women voters don’t much like forcing family separations and slashing healthcare coverage. After reading all those interviews with Trump voters in small-town diners, who knew?

In Florida, where the Democratic disappointment in the Senate and governor’s races was profound, the changes are coming. A state that just decided two contests by less than 100,000 votes also decided to restore voting rights to 1.4 million former felons.

Yes, Ron DeSantis won the governorship despite his close ties to white nationalists. He’ll need many more of the white-sheet gang once those former felons start voting. Meanwhile, Kris Kobach in Kansas, running with the support of similarly racist friends, failed to win the governorship in a state that Trump won by more than 20 points.

Life just changed fundamentally for Donald Trump. He may not know it yet, but he soon will. With his defeat in the House of Representatives, Democrats have ended two years of the Republican party’s determined refusal to conduct any meaningful oversight of his administration.

In place of the far-right Freedom Caucus, there will be multiple investigations into the scandalous loss of thousands of American lives in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Republicans have successfully blocked any serious inquiries into the hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for disaster relief that could have saved so many lives.

In place of an obsession with repealing Obamacare, there will be serious scrutiny – backed by subpoena power – of Russian interference in the 2016 election, collusion with the Trump campaign and business ties with the Trump Organization.

Donald Trump’s unchecked hold on power has come to an abrupt end, and if his predecessors are any guide, it won’t return any time soon. There will be no more Trump tax cuts for big businesses, and no slashing Trump cuts to social security or healthcare. Still, there will be more Trump judges and possibly more US supreme court nominees.

For many senior Democrats, this is not a wonderful prospect, but the scenario of a wholly controlled Congress wasn’t all that great either. They feared rolling into a 2020 presidential contest with Trump running against a Democratic Congress. That just got a lot harder with the Republican pickups in the Senate. This year’s contests were the prelude to the real battle for both Congress and the White House. Until Democrats win back the presidency, they can’t hope to repair the festering wounds of Trumpism.

It is no coincidence that among the Democrats who won the House there are significantly more women than the old Republican majority. They will be led by the first female speaker, taking control of half of Congress for the second time – which counts as two historic achievements.

So it will be no coincidence when the leading Democratic contenders for the presidency in 2020 – and the right to take the fight directly to Donald Trump – will be female candidates. The 2018 midterms weren’t a blue wave for Democrats, but they were a landslide for women voters and women candidates.

For a man who famously thought he could grab women by the genitals, Donald Trump is about to experience just how painful a squeeze that can be.


Trump vows to resist any Democratic effort to investigate White House

November 6, 2018

by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed to jettison any attempt at bipartisanship and fight back if the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives used its powers to press investigations into his administration. Trump, speaking during a combative news conference in which he trumpeted his role in the Republican gains made in Tuesday’s midterm elections, warned that he would adopt a “warlike posture” if Democrats investigated him.

Democrats will now head House committees that can probe the president’s tax returns, which he has refused to turn over, possible business conflicts of interest and any links between his 2016 election campaign and Russia, a matter that is being investigated by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump was buoyed by victories that added to the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, telling reporters at the White House that the gains outweighed the Democrats’ takeover of the House. He added that he was willing to work with Democrats on key priorities but felt any investigations of his administration would hurt prospects for bipartisanship.

“They can play that game, but we can play it better,” Trump said of the possibility of Democratic investigations. “All you’re going to do is end up in back and forth and back and forth, and two years is going to go up and we won’t have done a thing.”

The divided power in Congress combined with Trump’s expansive view of executive power could herald even deeper political polarization and legislative gridlock in Washington.

There may be some room, however, for Trump and Democrats to work together on issues with bipartisan support such as a package to improve infrastructure, protections against prescription drug price increases and in the push to rebalance trade with China.

“It really could be a beautiful bipartisan situation,” Trump said.

He said Nancy Pelosi, who could be the next speaker of the House, had expressed to him in a phone call a desire to work together. With Democrats mulling whether to stick with Pelosi, who was speaker when the party last controlled the House, or go in a new direction, Trump said in a tweet earlier that she deserves to be chosen for the position.

The Democrats fell short of a tidal wave of voter support that would have won them control of both chambers of Congress. But in the 435-member House, the party was headed for a gain of around 30 seats, beyond the 23 they needed to claim their first majority in eight years.

A Senate majority would have allowed Democrats to apply even firmer brakes on Trump’s policy agenda and given them the ability to block any future Supreme Court nominees.

House Democrats could force Trump to scale back his legislative ambitions, possibly dooming his promises to fund a border wall with Mexico and pass a second major tax-cut package. Legislators could also demand more transparency from Trump as he negotiates new trade deals with Japan and the European Union.

“Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration,” Pelosi told supporters at a victory party Tuesday night.

Trump also mocked Republican candidates who had refused to back his policies and ultimately lost their races, such as U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia.

“They did very poorly. I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad but I feel just fine about it,” he said.


U.S. stocks jumped on Wednesday as investors, who often favor Washington gridlock because it preserves the status quo and reduces uncertainty, bought back into a market that had its worst month in seven years in October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained more than 1.5 percent by early afternoon while the broad-based S&P 500 index was up 1.6 percent. The dollar was slightly weaker against a basket of currencies.

A Democrat-controlled House could hamper Trump’s attempts to further his pro-business agenda, fueling uncertainty about his administration. His corporate tax cuts and the deregulation that have played a large hand in the U.S. stock market’s rally since the 2016 election, however, are likely to remain untouched.

“With the Democrats taking over the House we will now have to see what gridlock in Congress means for policy. As for the market impact, a split Congress has historically been bullish for equities and we expect to see the same pattern again,” said Torsten Slok, chief international economist for Deutsche Bank.

Democrats will use their new majority to reverse what they see as a hands-off approach by Republicans toward Trump’s foreign policy, and push for tougher dealings with Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

Foreign policy has been an area that Trump has approached in a very personal way, sometimes antagonizing allies such as Canada while making what critics see as unduly warm overtures to traditional U.S. rivals or foes.

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Democrats could work with Republicans to produce a long-awaited bill to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges and airports.

“Of course, we want to work in a bipartisan fashion. I think we can get an infrastructure bill,” he said.

Trump had hardened his rhetoric in recent weeks on issues that appealed to his conservative core supporters. He threw himself into the campaign, issuing warnings about a caravan of Latin American migrants headed through Mexico to the U.S. border and condemnations of liberal American “mobs” he says oppose him.


Every seat in the House was up for grabs on Tuesday and opinion polls had pointed to the Democratic gains. The party with the presidency often loses House seats in midterm elections.

The Republicans had an advantage in Senate races because elections were held for only 35 seats in the 100-member chamber and many of them were in states that often lean Republican.

Republicans built on their slim Senate majority by several seats and ousted at least three incumbent Democrats: Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

In Florida, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson was trailing his Republican rival by a slim margin, with the possibility of a recount looming. Republican Martha McSally was leading Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the U.S. senate race in Arizona with some votes still to be counted.

The Republican gains are sure to bolster the party’s efforts to get conservative federal judges through confirmation proceedings. In the 36 gubernatorial contests, Democrats won in several states that supported Trump in 2016 but lost high-profile races in Florida and Ohio.

Democrats could infuriate Trump by launching another congressional investigation into allegations of Russian interference on his behalf in 2016. Moscow denies meddling and Trump, calling the Mueller probe a witchhunt, denies any collusion.

Trump said he could fire Mueller if he wanted but was hesitant to take that step. “I could fire everybody right now, but I don’t want to stop it, because politically I don’t like stopping it,” he said.

A majority vote in the House would be enough to impeach Trump if evidence surfaced of collusion by his campaign, or of obstruction by the president of the federal investigation. But Congress could not remove him from office without a conviction by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, an unlikely scenario.

The Democratic gains on Tuesday were fueled by women, young and Hispanic voters, a Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll found. A record number of women ran for office this election, many of them Democrats.

Although Democrats picked up seats across the map, some of their biggest stars lost.

Liberal Beto O’Rourke’s underdog Senate campaign fell short in conservative Texas against Republican Ted Cruz. Andrew Gillum lost to Republican Ron DeSantis in his quest to become Florida’s first black governor.

In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams was seeking to become the first black woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state. Her opponent, Brian Kemp, was ahead in a very close race early on Wednesday and Abrams said she would not concede until all the votes were counted.

Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton, Patricia Zengerle, Amanda Bedcker and David Alexander in Washington and Megan Davies in New York; Writing by Steve Holland and Alistair Bell; Editing by Frances Kerry and Paul Simao

America Goes to War

Fighting Russia, China and al-Qaeda simultaneously requires more money

November 6, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

Some believe that the Cold War ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell apart. In retrospect, many observers also believe that a golden opportunity was missed to heal the wounds inflicted by over 45 years to hostility between the Washington and Moscow. Rather than encouraging development of a Russia that would adhere to Western European norms for elections, transparency and individual liberties, some in Europe and America instead sought to steal the country’s natural resources and other assets, a process that went on for some years under President Boris Yeltsin. The looting went hand-in-hand with particularly inept political moves on the part of President Bill Clinton, who ignored end of Cold War agreements to not use the break-up of the Soviet Union as an excuse to bring its former member states in Eastern Europe into NATO or any other military alliance hostile to Russia. The process of NATO expansion continues to this day, together with military maneuvers and the placement of new missile systems right along the Russian border, increasing Moscow’s justifiable paranoia about its security.

The military moves have been accompanied by a political deep freeze, particularly ironic as President Donald Trump during his campaign for office pledged to improve relations with Russia. They are now at their lowest ebb since the hottest days of the Cold War, including as they do the totally bogus sanctioning of Russian government officials under the maliciously conceived Magnitsky Act and the ongoing saga of Russiagate, which blames Moscow for interference in America’s 2016 election, so far without any real evidence being provided.

For those who think all of this is theater, think again. Some critics are beginning to recognize that the United States has become a country addicted to war and one need look no farther than the federal budget, where everything is being cut except military spending, which is set to increase even though there is no country or group of countries in the world that genuinely threaten the U.S.

Two recent stories in particular demonstrate just how far Washington has gone towards accepting that war has more-or-less become a natural condition for the United States of America. The first is an article “After years of fighting insurgencies, the Army pivots to training for a major war” that has largely been ignored, regarding how the U.S. military is changing its doctrine and training to enable it to fight a major war against a powerful national opponent. Previously, the armed forces were emphasizing countering non-government hostile agents like al-Qaeda and ISIS, the so-called counter-insurgency doctrine or COIN. According to Pentagon spokesmen, the shift is in recognition of the fact that over the horizon major conflicts are no longer as unthinkable as they once were.

According to the article, U.S. commanders are now beginning to emphasize the type of training that prevailed during the Cold War, tanks against tanks, artillery bombardments, and use of close air support. The change in doctrine derives from the 2018 National Defense Strategy assessment, which identified four national players that might go to war with the United States. They are major powers Russia and China, supplemented by nuclear North Korea and conventionally armed Iran.

The transition was discussed by former and current senior officers at the recent annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army, with particular concern being expressed that the “lessons learned” from the past seventeen years of insurgency warfare not be lost as the military returns to a more conventional model. There was also concern that the army is insufficiently resourced to continue to fight insurgencies while also taking on a major conventional component. Some officers believed that the army can handle both jobs simultaneously, but others were not so sure, observing that one really needs two distinct armies, one trained for conventional warfare and the other trained for insurgency operations, which are far more likely to occur and which are more difficult to manage.

Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, explained that “The future of war will be a hybrid threat. There’ll be everything from tanks and missiles and fighter-bombers down to criminal gangs, terrorists, suicide bombers and guerrilla cells. … We’re going to have to do all of that, the full spectrum of conflict.”

General David Petraeus, the “very model of a modern major general” i.e. one who never actually experiences combat, put his finger on why the change to conventional warfare is taking place now. It’s all about money, or as he put it, “it’s about getting resources. And big wars get you big resources.”

Retired Lt. General Guy Swan explained the challenge for the Army in military-speak, citing the career of his son, a West Point produced first lieutenant “…who hasn’t deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, and what he’s been doing has been tank gunnery. He is focused on Russians and other high-end competitors.”

Between Petraeus’ comment on “big” resources and Swan’s on enemies to be killed as “high-end competitors” one might well begin to understand what today’s bloated defense establishment is all about. More money and business school jargon to euphemize wars and killing, with little regard for the possible consequences, including those competitors’ possession of nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them on target. Russia has already warned that if it were attacked by a superior force (NATO) it would used tactical nuclear weapons as a first resort to defend itself. So much for learning tank gunnery.

The second article, also little commented on, made plain that the “competitive” army that is now evolving won’t be just some pretty toy sitting on a shelf unused. The former US commander in Europe from 2014-7 retired Lt. General Ben Hodges spoke at the Warsaw Security Forum on October 24th, where he told NATO allies that they would have to increase defense spending because the United States will not be able to protect them against a “resurgent Russia” while it is fighting China. He predicted that the U.S. will probably be at war with China within 15 years to protect its interests in the Pacific region.

Hodges cited increasing tension between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea, China’s alleged “constant stealing [of] technology,” and Beijing’s perfectly legal purchasing of infrastructure in Africa, Latin America and Europe through the funding of and investment in projects. There was no mention of China actually threatening the United States and those were presumably Hodges’ reasons for going to war against a powerful nuclear armed nation.

Hodges is currently a strategic expert with the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington-based think tank that is heavily funded by globalists, NATO governments, and democracy promoters. Supporters include the U.S. government funded National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Mission to NATO, the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of State, the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the Raytheon Company, the European Defense Agency, the Chevron Corporation, Bell Helicopter, Textron Systems and BAE Systems. Oh yes, and also the neocon heavy United States Institute of Peace. The Center’s “experts” and staff are top heavy with Eastern Europeans who are focused on the threat from Russia, as is the institute. Donations to the Center are fully tax deductible by the IRS.

The awfulness of the two articles should be evident. The Army is only “under-resourced” if one considers its appropriate role to be continuously fighting countries in Asia and Europe that pose no threat to the United States. And the reality is that there is no reason for China and Russia to be viewed as threats at all. They are only turning into enemies due to the actions of the United States in their own neighborhoods, to include the NATO expansion and other provocations in the Middle East. Regarding China, the U.S. clearly believes that it is entitled to a sphere of influence that includes the entire Pacific Ocean while China cannot assert that it has any interests on own doorstep in the South China Sea.

And then there is the Strangelovean General Hodges and his pro-war establishment think tank. I wonder how much he gets paid for being a dependable mouthpiece for continuous aggression? He “predicts” war with China within 15 years. And what are the issues for what would justify risking a nuclear war? China stealing technology and protecting its local interests in Asia. And investing in the third world to acquire access to resources, which is precisely what the United States and Europeans have been doing to their benefit for many, many years. Smedley Butler once opined that “war is a racket.” If he were around today he would probably say that it is in reality a low-risk high-cost business designed to keep “heroes” like Petraeus, Swan, Townsend and Hodges fully employed.


More candidates, more money and a big bet: How Democrats won the House

November 7, 2018

by Peter Eisler, Tim Reid and Letitia Stein


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – “Expand the battlefield.” The Democrats’ mantra for seizing control of the U.S. House of Representatives took shape within weeks of President Donald Trump’s stunning 2016 White House victory.

Democratic strategists wanted to go beyond the traditional strategy of flipping Republican seats in swing districts. Now, they would also compete in more conservative areas, forcing Republicans to burn resources defending seats they considered safe.

It meant rolling the dice, gambling that a polarizing president would drive independent and moderate Republican voters away from his party’s candidates, gambling that Democrats would remain energized by antipathy towards him, gambling that history and a political map that had Republicans on the defensive would work in their favor.

In the fight for the House, Democrats were “starting the 2018 election cycle on offense,” Dan Sena, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote in a memo assessing the party’s chances days after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

On Tuesday night, the Democrats’ bets paid off with a projected win of at least 30 new seats, which would be seven more than the 23 needed to secure their first House majority since 2011.

“We owned the ground,” Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi said as the takeover became clear. She credited the win to the party’s “dynamic, diverse and incredible candidates.”

Reuters reporters visited more than a dozen battleground House districts and interviewed candidates, campaign officials, strategists and voters to learn how Democrats laid the groundwork to capture the chamber. They also analyzed historical election trends and data from Reuters polling partner Ipsos.

In his memo, Sena offered an initial list of 59 Republican-held seats deemed flippable by the DCCC, the party organization that oversees House races. Democrats needed to take just over a third of them, an ambitious goal, but not unprecedented. Republicans would be defending dozens of districts where Trump either lost or won narrowly.

To fight on a much larger battlefield, Democrats needed “candidates with diverse profiles that fit unique, Republican-leaning districts,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján, a U.S. House member from New Mexico, wrote in a June 2017 memo to staff. “Look outside of the traditional mold to keep recruiting local leaders, veterans, business owners, women, job creators, and health professionals.”

By early this year, Democrats had broadened their target list to more than 100 battleground races where they felt they had competitive candidates.

Top targets were the 41 open Republican seats, including dozens vacated by incumbents who retired rather than seek reelection in districts where Trump is not popular. Many of those districts were won by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or carried narrowly by Trump in 2016.

Besides the open seats, Democrats focused on 21 Republican incumbents in districts that also were closely contested in 2016. Republican-held districts with large minority populations were another priority, as were white, working-class districts that backed Barack Obama for president before swinging to Trump in 2016.

History suggested Democrats had a good shot for a “wave” election in the House – a power-shifting win with a turnover of dozens of seats. Those reversals typically occur when the president’s approval sits below 45 percent and the share of voters who believe the country is going in the right direction is below 40 percent.

For much of this year, Trump’s approval in Reuters/Ipsos opinion polls has hovered around 40 percent, and “right direction” sentiment has been around 35 percent. Exit polls showed similar sentiment among voters on Tuesday.

The Democrats invested $2.5 million early in the campaign cycle to expand fundraising databases and hire digital strategists to boost online donations, according to figures released by the party.

By Election Day, the DCCC had raised at least $270 million – upwards of 20 percent more than its total in the 2015-16 election cycle. That allowed the party to make six-figure investments in 85 districts, including many once seen as safely Republican.

The committee also trained nearly 3,000 campaign workers and dispatched field organizers earlier than usual, including 20 in Republican-held districts before Democrats even had candidates in them. It also forged new partnerships with outside organizations to help recruit candidates and energize key voting groups.

Once Democrats had identified the districts they wanted to contest and the candidates they wanted to win them, party leaders sought to apply one of the big lessons of 2016 – don’t let Trump dominate the conversation. They urged candidates to focus on healthcare and economic security, issues that consistently registered high voter interest in polls.

“We urged our candidates to focus on the issues that are most important to voters,” DCCC Press Secretary Tyler Law told Reuters. “We just let Trump be Trump.”


Until Tuesday, voters in New Jersey’s 11th congressional district hadn’t sent a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives in nearly 40 years – but the seat was ripe for flipping.

Perched at the western edge of the New York City suburbs, the district has the kind of wealthy, well-educated, moderate Republicans who aren’t especially keen on Trump. In 2016, its voters backed him for president by less than 1 percent, a fraction of the margin they usually give Republicans in White House races.

And when 23-year Republican incumbent U.S. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen announced in January that he would not seek re-election, the district slid into a coveted category for a Democratic Party eager to seize the U.S. House majority: an open seat.

The party nominated Mikie Sherrill, a centrist, first-time candidate with a resume party officials saw as a perfect fit for the district.

She was likely to attract college-educated women, a group shown in opinion polls as especially unhappy with Trump. And her background – former Navy helicopter pilot, former federal prosecutor, coach of her children’s sports teams – seemed sure to appeal to independent and moderate Republican voters.

On election night, Sherrill romped to victory over state assemblyman Jay Webber.

Sherrill, 46, campaigned mostly on kitchen table issues, such as health care, economic security and improving transportation infrastructure. She positioned herself as someone who would “fight back against Donald Trump” but made little mention of him on her campaign website or social media accounts.

Still, many who backed Sherrill had Trump on their minds.

Rick Haan and Martin Smith are the sort of lifelong Republican voters who had kept the district in the party’s hands since 1985 – successful, well-educated professionals who favor candidates in the small-government, fiscally conservative mold of former President Ronald Reagan.

Both are repelled by Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and nationalist politics and want a Democratic Congress to stand in opposition.

“I won’t vote for anyone who isn’t against him,” said Haan, a 64-year-old business consultant.

“There’s only one issue,” said Martin, a retired lawyer, “and that’s getting back to a civil society.”


Abby Finkenauer, daughter of a union worker and sister of a soybean farmer, was precisely the sort of candidate Democrats needed to flip Iowa’s 1st congressional district, a mostly white, culturally conservative, working-class swath of eastern Iowa.

Finkenauer, 29, ousted two-term Republican Representative Rod Blum, a wealthy businessman she painted as out of touch with working-class voters.

“I decided to do this because it is so dang personal,” Finkenauer said, noting her family’s working-class roots at a gathering of union workers over burgers and hot dogs in Anamosa, population 5,500.

In 2016, Trump won the district because typically Democratic union members liked his economic populism and promises of job creation. To win them back, Finkenauer stressed her union roots: one ad featured her talking about how her father, a retired welder-pipefitter, would wring sweat from his belt after a day’s work.

In hundreds of appearances, many in union halls, Finkenauer promised to protect families’ health care and oppose any efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare healthcare programs for senior citizens.

Nearly 40 percent of the district’s voters are independents, and it’s dominated by farmers and union workers employed at the John Deere factories in Dubuque and Waterloo and the Quaker Oats and General Mills plants in Cedar Rapids.

Like many Democrats who won Republican seats, Finkenauer outraised Blum, mostly with donations of $20 or less. She routinely criticized the Trump-backed tax-reform bill, which passed last year with Blum’s support, as favoring the wealthy over workers, a sentiment many voters echoed in interviews.

Blum’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. In a recent debate, he dismissed Finkenauer’s tax-cut criticism: “Our economy is absolutely booming, if you haven’t noticed, and it’s due in large part to those tax cuts.”

But Finkenauer’s message resonated with union voters such as Robbie Frommelt, 28, a Cedar Rapids ironworker. He voted for Obama, then Trump, but has grown disillusioned with Republicans.

“I think the Democrats are more on the side of the workers,” Frommelt said in an interview days before the election, noting that many of his co-workers have told him they feel likewise. “A lot of the guys are going to switch back.”


In South Florida’s Latino-dominated 26th congressional district, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, an immigrant from Ecuador, followed Democratic leaders’ script of focusing mostly on “kitchen table” issues – and not Trump.

Campaigning in a district where half of constituents were born outside the United States, Mucarsel-Powell highlighted health care, pocketbook issues and the environment, a top concern in a district that stretches from the Florida Everglades to iconic Key West.

While the university administrator consistently painted her Republican opponent Carlos Curbelo as a strong supporter of Trump, she didn’t make Trump’s controversial immigration policies the chief focus of her campaign. In a district that backed Clinton by 16 points in the 2016 presidential race, Curbelo had worked hard to separate himself from Trump’s hardline stance on immigration.

So Mucarsel-Powell emphasized the issues where Curbelo was more closely aligned with the president. Time and again, she highlighted his vote to repeal the Obama health care law and his support for the Trump-backed tax bill, which she characterized as a giveaway to the rich that would have little benefit for the district’s working class voters.

“All you need to do is look at his voting record to see who he truly is,” said Mucarsel-Powell said of Curbelo. “Time and time again, he caved into his party,” she said, “and some of the most extreme members of his party.”

On Tuesday voters gave Mucarsel-Powell a narrow victory.

Curbelo knew he faced a challenge.

“The truth is this is a swing district,” Curbelo said about a week before the election, “and I am always ready for any outcome.”

Reporting By Peter Eisler and Tim Reid,; Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Las Vegas; Editing by Jason Szep and Ross Colvin

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