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TBR News January 16, 2019

Jan 16 2019

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

Washington, D.C. January 16, 2019:” There are questions and there are answers.

When men came down out of their caves and stood on their hind legs, questions began to form in their small minds.

Would they live forever?

Where would they go when they stopped breathing and began to smell bad?

And other men, more clever, told them what they wanted to hear so desperately.

Yes, they would live forever and in a wonderful place.

Yes, they would see their dead family again who would be waiting for them, smiling.

Of course in order to get to this wonderful place and see smiling dead family members they would have to become a paying member of a certain religious group.

They would have to believe just what the leaders of this religious group told them to believe or they would go to some cold, wet and nasty place when they died and have to sleep with dead rats.

And because they wanted to believe these entertaining and entirely invented stories, they did.

Those who promised paradise got rich and those who believed were content. But when they died, they slept with the worms.

Of course they weren’t aware of anything at that point.”

 

 

The Table of Contents

  • 815 false claims: The staggering scale of Donald Trump’s pre-midterm dishonesty No 15
  • Brexit likely to be Britain’s greatest disaster
  • Pelosi asks Trump to delay State of the Union address, or deliver it in writing
  • Factbox: Impact on U.S. government widens on 25th day of shutdown
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

 

815 false claims: The staggering scale of Donald Trump’s pre-midterm dishonesty No 15

November 15, 2018

by Daniel Dale Washington Bureau Chief

Toronto Star

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

He just made another 815 false claims in a month.

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

How bad have these recent weeks been?

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

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

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

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

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

  • Oct 29, 2018

“CNN and others in the Fake News Business keep purposely and inaccurately reporting that I said the ‘Media is the Enemy of the People.’ Wrong! I said that the ‘Fake News (Media) is the Enemy of the People,’ a very big difference. When you give out false information – not good!” And: “Check out tweets from last two days. I refer to Fake News Media when mentioning Enemy of the People – but dishonest reporters use only the word ‘Media.’ The people of our Great Country are angry and disillusioned at receiving so much Fake News. They get it, and fully understand!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is absurd. Trump has said that three-quarters or more of the media is “fake,” and he has repeatedly pointed at groups of reporters at his rallies and described them as “fake news.” Therefore, even if he adds a “fake news” into the sentence, it is not “false” to report that he is referring to the media broadly as “the enemy of the people.”

“In Florida there is a choice between a Harvard/Yale educated man named @RonDeSantisFL who has been a great Congressman and will be a great Governor – and a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There is no evidence that Democratic Florida candidate Andrew Gillum is “a thief.”

“So Revealing!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump made this Twitter comment while sharing a video, from an account called @BlacksForTrump5, that claimed that CBS had “deleted” from its website the video of his September 2015 appearance on late-night host Stephen Colbert’s show, and that the clips in the video were not available on YouTube. In fact, as Colbert and others pointed out, clips of Trump’s appearance were available on YouTube, including one of the ones featured by BlacksForTrump5, in which Trump discusses his proposal for a border wall. Colbert said on Twitter: “I don’t know why the president would take time on a National Day of Mourning to retweet something weird like this, but the original clips have always been online. 16 million views. Here they are:”

“We have really helped rebuild China. They’ve take up — they’ve been taking out an average of $500 billion, billion, a year, for many years. Not going to happen anymore.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham

in fact: The U.S. has never once had a $500 billion trade deficit with China, according to U.S. government data. The deficit was $337 billion in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods and exclude trade in services.

“Because the Latinos, the Hispanic Americans have the best unemployment numbers and employment numbers in the history of our country. The African-Americans have the best employment and unemployment numbers in the history of our country. Asians, best employment numbers in the history of our country.

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham

in fact: The Asian-American unemployment rate briefly dropped to a low, 2.0 per cent, in May — a low, at least, since the government began issuing Asian-American data in 2000 — but the most recent rate at the time Trump spoke, for September, was 3.5 per cent. (It fell to 3.2 per cent for October.) This was higher than the rate in Obama’s last full month in office — 2.8 per cent in December 2016 — and in multiple months of George W. Bush’s second term.

“Look, here’s a guy (Andrew Gillum) that, in my opinion, is a stone-cold thief. And his city, Tallahassee, is known as the most corrupt in Florida and one of the most corrupt in the nation…This other guy is a stone cold, in my opinion, he’s a thief.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham

in fact: The FBI is investigating various dealings at Tallahassee’s city hall during the period in which Gillum was mayor. But there is no evidence at all that Gillum is a “thief.”

“They’re going at it away — and I’m getting 25 and 35,000 people to these rallies — nobody’s ever seen — there has never been a — this isn’t bragging — there has never been anything like what’s happening.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham

in fact: Trump has not drawn even close to 35,000 people at any of his 2018 rallies. In Houston, he drew somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 people inside and outside the arena where he spoke

“North Korea, as an example — we would have been going to war — normal would have been going to war with North Korea. I think President Obama would have gone to war very — if he had an extra year he would be in right now a war with North Korea — he told me it was by far, and I’m not knocking him for this, he said it’s by far his biggest problem. Look at what we’ve done. And yet, when they talk about North Korea, they say, what’s taking so well?” And: “And if you go back to before I got here, it looked like we were going to war, a bad war, with North Korea.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham

in fact: We can’t fact-check Trump’s prediction of what would have happened with North Korea, but it did not look to experts like the U.S. was going to war with North Korea under Obama; contrary to Trump’s frequent claim, which he did not make explicitly in this case, there is no evidence Obama ever told him he was on the verge of such a war. Obama’s office has declined to comment on Trump’s previous claims about Obama supposedly making this statement at his post-election meeting with Trump, but it referred to the Star to Ned Price, a former special assistant to Obama and spokesperson for the National Security Council. Price called Trump’s remark “absolute revisionist history,” saying, “I’ve never heard anything even remotely like that coming up during that session.” Obama’s strategy of “containment and deterrence” was “predicated in part on the understanding that a military conflict on the (Korean) Peninsula would be nothing short of catastrophic,” Price said.

“…it was sent by Bibi Netanyahu thanking me for opening the embassy in Jerusalem, which as you know, is like the biggest deal…I just opened up — and we opened it up; we didn’t just name it — you know, it was going to take years and years to build and it was going to cost over a billion dollars — I opened up a beautiful building for $400,000, already open, saved well over a billion dollars — and it’s opened after four months.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham

in fact: The renovations required by the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem will cost far more than $400,000. ABC News reported in July: “Documents filed with the official database of federal spending show that the State Department awarded the Maryland-based company Desbuild Limak D&K a contract for $21.2 million to design and build an ‘addition and compound security upgrades’ at the embassy. These updates will be made to the former consular building in Jerusalem — the embassy’s temporary location.” The ABC article continued: “A State Department official told ABC News today that President Trump’s estimates only factored in that first phase of modifications to the former consular building, not this second round of renovation.”

  • Oct 30, 2018

“If you want your Stocks to go down, I strongly suggest voting Democrat. They like the Venezuela financial model, High Taxes & Open Borders!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Democratic candidates do not support Venezuela’s economic model or “open borders.” Most of them support a less aggressive immigration policy than the one Trump advocates, but they are not calling for people to be able to walk across from Mexico unbothered.

  • Oct 31, 2018

“We will end visa lottery. How about visa lottery? Pick a name, pick a name, come on into the country.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: The Diversity Visa Lottery process is not so simple as “pick a name, come on into the country.” Anyone whose name is picked by the State Department is subjected to a background check before being allowed to enter the U.S. The process includes an in-person interview. As Factcheck.org noted: “There are more than a dozen grounds of inadmissibility, including health issues, criminal activity, national security concerns and the ‘likelihood of becoming a public charge,’ meaning ‘a person who is primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.’ And in order to even be eligible for the lottery, applicants must demonstrate that they have a high school education, or its equivalent, or ‘two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.’

“And I know most of you don’t care about this that are in the military, but we gave our great warriors their largest pay increase in over 10 years. I know you don’t care about that.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: The military pay increase in the 2019 defense bill, 2.6 per cent, is the largest in nine years, since the 3.4 per cent increase under Obama in 2010. We’ve let Trump get away with saying this is the largest increase in “a decade,” but “over 10 years” is incorrect.

“We passed Veterans Choice. For many, many years, they were trying to get it, giving our veterans the right to see a private doctor when they have to wait on line for weeks and weeks and weeks, get sicker and sicker. Can you imagine — can you imagine — we passed Veterans Choice. They’ve been trying to get it passed for 44 years, and I got it passed two months ago. Now they see a line when they go to their doctor, we pay the bill, and, boy, it works out great. They’re very happy. And the landmark V.A. accountability law to ensure anyone who mistreats our veterans has to be accountable.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: The Veterans Choice health program was passed and created in 2014 under Obama. The law Trump signed in 2018, the VA MISSION Act, modified the Choice program.

“And, yes, we will finish the wall. It’s moving along. We want to do it fast. Want to do it much faster. But watch what we do. Instead of building a little bit of a wall down there very quickly, watch.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started, and Trump has not secured $4.8 billion for the wall. When Trump has claimed in the past that wall construction has begun, he has appeared to be referring to projects in which existing fencing is being replaced. The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump has proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction. Trump has requested another $1.6 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, but this has not yet been approved, much less spent. In these comments, Trump also added a third “$1.6 billion” that does not exist.

“It’s called the Democrat Party — is openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders. You see what’s happening right now, because they won’t give us any votes on border security and overwhelm our country. And they want to sign them up for free health care, free welfare, free education, and the right to vote.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: Trump’s claim about voting is so misleading that we’re calling it false. Many Democrats, and a significant number of Republicans, want to offer the unauthorized immigrants currently in the country a path to citizenship, which would allow them to vote years down the road. They do not want to invite people into the country and “sign them up” to vote immediately, which was Trump’s clear suggestion.

“It’s called the Democrat Party — is openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: There is no basis for this claim.

“People of Florida, as we speak, the Democrat Party — do you notice, I don’t say Democratic — I say Democrat, because that’s their name, even though the other flows so much nicer. The Democratic Party. They should change their name and send me a check for giving them some free advice. But it’s not the Democratic. It’s called the Democrat Party.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: The name of the Democratic Party is the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party.

“The Democrat plan also raids Medicare to fund benefits for illegal aliens at the expense of our seniors.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: There is no basis for this claim.

“And we will always protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. Always. Always.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: This claim is belied by Republicans’ actions. The party has tried repeatedly during Trump’s presidency to replace Obamacare with a law that would give insurers more freedom to discriminate against people with pre-existing health conditions. As part of a Republican lawsuit to try to get Obamacare struck down, Trump’s administration is formally arguing that the law’s protections for pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional and should be voided. Trump has not said what he would like to replace these protections with.

 

“A majority of Democrats on the ballot for Congress have already signed up to support a socialist takeover of health care that would destroy Medicare, eliminate Medicare Advantage for nearly 2 million Florida seniors.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: Democrats’ “Medicare for all” proposals tend to be vague, but they would not take Medicare health insurance away from seniors. Rather, they would extend similar government-provided health insurance to younger people as well, and they would give current Medicare recipients additional coverage for things like vision and dental services.

“So Ron (DeSantis) is running against a radical socialist who wants to turn Florida, frankly, into Venezuela. Get used to it.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florid

in fact: While Democratic Florida governor candidate Andrew Gillum is on the left wing of the mainstream Democratic Party, his policies are not even comparable to those of Venezuela, and he has expressed no desire to emulate Venezuela.

“…Bill Nelson wants open borders. We don’t want open borders. Our country can’t survive with open borders.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: Nelson, the Democratic Florida senator, has never wanted “open borders.” He has called, for example, for “immigration reform with tough border security.”

“Getting prepared for the caravan. And they’ve got a lot of rough people in those caravans. They are not angels. They are not. You saw what happened two days ago with the Mexican military and the Mexican police. You saw what happened there, how tough the opposition is. We’re tougher than anybody. We’re tougher than any force.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: Mexico deployed federal police to confront the caravan, not soldiers. CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago reported that she had spoken to the Mexican government; “they tell me two federal police officers were struck by rocks during a confrontation at border. Injuries were ‘not serious or life threatening.’”

“And the wall is being built. We just spent $1.6 billion on a big section. Another $1.6 billion now. We have another $1.6 billion coming, but we want to build it all at one time. All at one time. Not in little pieces.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: Construction on Trump’s border wall has not started, and Trump has not secured $4.8 billion for the wall. When Trump has claimed in the past that wall construction has begun, he has appeared to be referring to projects in which existing fencing is being replaced. The $1.6 billion Congress allocated to border projects in 2018 is not for the type of giant concrete wall Trump has proposed: spending on that kind of wall is expressly prohibited in the legislation, and much of the congressional allocation is for replacement and reinforcement projects rather than new construction. Trump has requested another $1.6 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, but this has not yet been approved, much less spent. In these comments, Trump also added a third “$1.6 billion” that does not exist.

“Democrats want open borders, and they want to invite caravan after caravan into our country, which brings crime upon crime.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: Democrats do not want open borders, and they are issuing no such invitations to migrant caravans. Most of them support a less aggressive immigration policy than the one Trump advocates, but they are not calling for people to be able to walk across from Mexico unbothered.

“We passed a massive tax cut, biggest tax cut, for working families, and we will soon follow it up with another 10 per cent tax cut for the middle class.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: We do not usually fact-check promises of future action, but there was no sign that Republicans were actually pursuing an additional 10 per cent tax cut for the middle class; Trump suddenly introduced this claim two weeks before the election, with no details attached. We will amend this item if he proves serious.

“African-American, Hispanic American, and Asian-American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels in recorded history.”

Source: Campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida

in fact: Trump was correct about the first two, incorrect about the third. The Asian-American unemployment rate briefly dropped to a low, 2.0 per cent, in May — a low, at least, since the government began issuing Asian-American data in 2000 — but the most recent rate at the time Trump spoke, for October, was 3.2 per cent. This was higher than the rate in Obama’s last full month in office — 2.8 per cent in December 2016 — and in multiple months of George W. Bush’s second term.

“So we were losing a tremendous amount of money, and unfortunately, it’s a number that nobody can even believe — close to $800 billion a year. When you hear that number, folks, you can’t be too proud of our representatives from the past.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: The U.S. has not once had an $800 billion trade deficit in any one year. The overall deficit was $566 billion in 2017. (Trump habitually ignores trade in services when he talks about trade deficits, choosing the number that refers only to trade in goods. The U.S. had a goods-trade deficit of $810 billion in 2017.)

“U.S. Steel is building many plants and expanding many plants. Nucor is building — and these are new plants, in many cases. These are big, beautiful plants.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: Though Trump had been making such claims for four months, there was still no evidence at the time that U.S. Steel is building any new plants. At the time Trump spoke, U.S. Steel had only announced a major development at two existing facilities since he introduced his steel tariffs. First it said it was restarting two shuttered blast furnaces at its plant in Granite City, Illinois, then that it was investing $750 million to revitalize a plant in Gary, Indiana.

“And one of the things I’m very proud of is the steel industry. The steel industry was dead. It was as dead as a doornail. We weren’t going to have a steel industry in two years.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: The steel industry was dead or not nearing extinction before Trump imposed his tariffs, though it was obviously much smaller than it was at the heyday of large integrated steel mills. The American Iron and Steel Institute said then: “The steel industry directly employs around 140,000 people in the United States, and it directly or indirectly supports almost one million U.S. jobs.” Bloomberg reported in an October fact check: “In fact, U.S. steelmakers Nucor Corp. and Steel Dynamics Inc. were two of the healthiest commodity companies in the world before Trump took office and imposed 25 percent tariffs on foreign steel imports.”

“We’re now negotiating with the European Union, which has been — I mean, just absolutely hurting the United States. They don’t take our product. They don’t take your product. They don’t take our product. They don’t do a lot of things.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: Through September, the U.S. had exported $238 billion in goods products to the European Union in 2018. While the EU has some trade barriers to the U.S., “they don’t take our product” is an obvious exaggeration.

“Well, if you remember, the previous administration said there won’t be any more manufacturing jobs; you’re going to need a magic wand and all of that. Well, we had the magic wand, because we have almost 600,000 manufacturing jobs since the election, and it’s going to go much, much higher than that.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: The economy added 446,000 manufacturing jobs between Nov. 2016 and

Oct. 2018.

“Well, if you remember, the previous administration said there won’t be any more manufacturing jobs; you’re going to need a magic wand and all of that.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: The Obama administration never said “there won’t be any more manufacturing jobs.” Rather, at a televised PBS town hall in Elkhart, Indiana in 2016, Obama said that certain manufacturing jobs “are just not going to come back” — but also boasted that some manufacturers are indeed “coming back to the United States,” that “we’ve seen more manufacturing jobs created since I’ve been president than any time since the 1990s,” and that “we actually make more stuff, have a bigger manufacturing base today, than we’ve had in most of our history.” Obama did mock Trump for Trump’s campaign claims that he was going to bring back manufacturing jobs that had been outsourced to Mexico, saying: “And when somebody says — like the person you just mentioned who I’m not going to advertise for — that he’s going to bring all these jobs back, well, how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do? There’s no answer to it. He just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.” But, again, Obama made clear that he was talking about a certain segment of manufacturing jobs, not all of them.

“And I guess the stock market is up to — getting close to 50 per cent, if you think about it — that’s incredible — since the election. And it’s — in fact, I hear today it’s doing very well, Larry. It’s up another 400 points. It was up 450-or-so points yesterday. And it’s just doing well.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 37 per cent between the 2016 election and the day Trump spoke. The S&P 500 Index was up 27 per cent.

“And the end result is we have an economy that’s the hottest economy right now in the world.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: The New York Times explained why this is false: “The United States does have one of the fastest growing of the world’s largest economies. But it is not the fastest growing in the whole world. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development compiles quarterly growth in real gross domestic product for its 36 member nations and nine other major economies like China, India and Brazil. The United States had the eighth-highest rate in the second quarter of 2018 out of this group. Its rate was the highest among the Group of 7, the largest of the industrialized democracies. Among the entire world, however, the United States is nowhere near ‘the fastest-growing economy.’ Growth rates among developing nations, while volatile, often exceed those of the big industrialized countries. In 2017, the United States’ GDP annual growth rate ranked in the bottom third out of more than 180 countries, according to data from the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund’s projections for GDP growth rate for 2018 place the United States among the bottom half of about 190 countries. Similarly, Harvard University’s Atlas of Economic Complexity projects that the United States will reach an annual growth rate of 3.07 per cent by 2026, placing it No. 104 out of 121 countries.” While China’s growth rate has slowed down in 2018, its 6.5 per cent growth in the third quarter was still about twice the forecasts for the not-yet-announced growth rate in the U.S

“Because we have — just in Japan alone, we have six major car companies going to open up new plants and coming in — they’re coming into Michigan and they’re coming to Ohio, they’re coming to a lot of different places. We have a lot of car companies coming. We have a lot of companies, period.”

Source: Pledge to America’s Workers event

in fact: There is no evidence of this. The Los Angeles Times reported: “The facts: Toyota and Mazda announced in August 2017 that they would jointly build a $1.6 billion assembly plant in the United States and in January said the factory would be in Huntsville, Ala. That is the only new U.S. factory announced by any of the major automakers, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, a nonprofit research organization in Ann Arbor, Mich.” We will update this item if additional evidence emerges.

“You saw what happened in Mexico, where they came through the troops, and they hurt the troops. Tough people. They hurt the troops. They were throwing rocks at ’em. They were doing a lot of things, and they burst through the police and the troops in Mexico. That’s not happening here.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Mexico deployed federal police to confront the caravan, not soldiers. CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago reported that she had spoken to the Mexican government; “they tell me two federal police officers were struck by rocks during a confrontation at border. Injuries were ‘not serious or life threatening.’”

“It is outrageous what the Democrats are doing to our Country. Vote Republican now! http://Vote.GOP”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump made this comment while passing along a video of an unrepentant murderer, Luis Bracamontes, who had been deported before he killed police officers in California. The ad’s script said “Democrats let him into our country” and “Democrats let him stay.” But Bracamontes was deported under Democrat Bill Clinton; upon his return, he was released by Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Trump ally and a Republican hard-liner on immigration. Multiple U.S. media outlets reported that he last entered the country under Republican president George W. Bush.

“…Harry Reid was right in 1993, before he and the Democrats went insane and started with the Open Borders (which brings massive Crime) ‘stuff.’”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Democrats in general, and former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid in particular, do not want open borders. Most of them support a less aggressive immigration policy than the one Trump advocates, but they are not calling for people to be able to walk across from Mexico unbothered.

“So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other. It is not covered by the 14th Amendment because of the words ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof.’ Many legal scholars agree…..”

Source: Twitter

in fact: It is telling that Trump did not name any legal scholars. The overwhelming consensus of legal scholars is that the 14th Amendment ensures citizenship for everyone born in the United States.

“The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Mexico deployed federal police to confront the caravan, not soldiers. CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago reported that she had spoken to the Mexican government; “they tell me two federal police officers were struck by rocks during a confrontation at border. Injuries were ‘not serious or life threatening.’”

“No, but I want to replace pre-existing conditions and I’ve always been there. What the Democrats are going to do is destroy our entire health care and you’re not going to have any health care. [Video Break] You would destroy the country. You are not going to have health care. The Democrats are going to literally –- you’ll have to pay three times the taxes and they’ll destroy health care as we know it in this country. You won’t have pre-existing conditions. You won’t have anything.”

Source: Interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl

in fact: The Obamacare replacement plans Trump tried repeatedly to pass would not have “replaced” Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing health conditions; they would have weakened those protections. There is no basis for Trump’s claim that Democrats’ health plans would mean “you are not going to have health care” and “you won’t have anything.”

“And you take a look at it and they’re strong young men. And you look at the skirmish they had with the Mexican police and army and it was a nasty skirmish.” And: “Look what they did to the Mexican army at the border. Look at the skirmish they just had. That was a very bad thing for the Mexican army; that was not easy.”

Source: Interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl

in fact: Mexico deployed federal police to confront the caravan, not soldiers. CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago reported that she had spoken to the Mexican government; “they tell me two federal police officers were struck by rocks during a confrontation at border. Injuries were ‘not serious or life threatening.’”

“Actually it’s mostly men. Actually mostly young men. And a lot of rough people, lot of rough people, Jon. You look –- and it’s been well reported –- it’s a lot of young people, lot of young men. They are pushing the women right up to the front –- not good –- and the kids right up to the front. But if you take a look at the caravans –- and now there’s more than one.”

Source: Interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl

in fact: Journalists who covered the caravan said they had not seen any evidence of women and children being pushed up to the front (allegedly, in Trump’s telling, to make the group look less threatening). The Washington Post’s Nick Miroff said in an email, “I think there are just a lot of women and children in the caravans and photographers are taking a lot of pictures of them.”

“You have caravans coming up that look a lot larger than it’s reported actually. I’m pretty good at estimating crowd size. And I’ll tell you they look a lot bigger than people would think. So we’ll find out.”

Source: Interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl

in fact: Trump has been reliably inaccurate about the size of his crowds, from the crowd at his inauguration to the crowds outside his rallies. There was no evidence that any caravan was actually bigger than media outlets were reporting..

“Well, they’re going to show up for me, because nobody has done more for Christians, or evangelicals, or frankly, religion than I have. You see all the things that we’ve passed, including the Johnson Amendment, and so many things that we’ve nullified.”

Source: Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network

in fact: Trump has not “passed” or “nullified” anything related to the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates. His 2017 executive order merely says the Treasury Department will, “to the extent permitted by law,” not impose a tax penalty on a person or religious organization who “speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective.” The government almost never imposed such penalties even before the order, and such a directive is far from complete repeal. “Trump’s Religious Liberty Order Doesn’t Answer Most Evangelicals’ Prayers; Prayer breakfast pledge to ‘totally destroy’ Johnson Amendment comes up shy,” read the headline on the website Christianity Today.

“But now we have another election coming up. We need Republicans, because the Democrats will give us no votes on anything. They don’t mind open borders. They don’t mind crime, because open borders mean crime. They don’t mind crime.”

Source: Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network

in fact: Democrats do not want open borders. Most of them support a less aggressive immigration policy than the one Trump advocates, but they are not calling for people to be able to walk across from Mexico unbothered.

“If you look at our unemployment numbers that just came out again, they’re the best in the history of our country, for African-Americans and frankly, for Asians and for Hispanics. They’re the best ever in our country.”

Source: Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network

in fact: Trump was correct about the first two, incorrect about the third. The Asian-American unemployment rate briefly dropped to a low, 2.0 per cent, in May — a low, at least, since the government began issuing Asian-American data in 2000 — but the most recent rate at the time Trump spoke, for September, was 3.5 per cent. (It fell to 3.2 per cent for October.) This was higher than the rate in Obama’s last full month in office — 2.8 per cent in December 2016 — and in multiple months of George W. Bush’s second term.

“…and you look at the violence, and people being hurt. Mexican soldiers being hurt and police. They’re throwing rocks in their face. Look, we’re not going to let them come into our country. We have 10, and we might even go up to 15,000 soldiers on our border.

Source: Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network

in fact: Mexico deployed federal police to confront the caravan, not soldiers. CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago reported that she had spoken to the Mexican government; “they tell me two federal police officers were struck by rocks during a confrontation at border. Injuries were ‘not serious or life threatening.’”

“I’m all for people coming into the country legally, and people based on merit. But when you see a caravan that’s pouring up to our country with thousands of people, maybe 10,000 people now.”

Source: Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network

in fact: There was no basis for Trump’s “maybe 10,000 people” estimate. The migrant caravan had gotten smaller by the time he spoke; the Mexican government and U.S. media outlets said there were less than 4,500 people, from an earlier estimate of about 7,000.

“And I think that phony news, fake news, when you see the kind of things happen, like happened yesterday where Pittsburgh was so beautiful. Went to the hospital, they didn’t even cover it, and they didn’t have to cover it. But it was — it was a great thing to meet these warriors, they’re really warriors who did a phenomenal job where it could have been even worse, could have been much worse. They did such a great job. They don’t even cover it. All they did were say protesters, protesters.”

Source: Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network

in fact: Trump’s visit to the hospital was mentioned in media coverage. It was not possible for the media to intensively cover it: as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted, the visit was closed to the press.

“But I will say, the media, if you look at yesterday, I went to Pittsburgh. I was treated so well with the first lady…And there was a small group of protesters, but they were very far away, so we didn’t get to see them or hear them. They were very far away. It was a very small group. They tried to make it like it was a big group. It was, maybe a hundred people, maybe less. And we came home, and I thought it was actually a beautiful day. And the media just absolutely, you know, went after me it was the most incredible thing. There was so violent and vicious. All of the news: ABC, CBS, NBC. CNN, I don’t even watch, but I assume, you know, I know — I’m sure, it’s with CNN, but because, they’re just, you know, automatically fake. But it was really fake news. We had a great day. It was — it was so respectful of the Office of President. And if you got home, and if you read The New York Times or The Washington Post, or if you saw any of the networks, you would say it was violence. It was — it was riots.” And: “And the protesters were blocks away and it was a very small group — I know protests — it was a very small group of protests. But if you read this morning’s New York Times or Washington Post or saw the networks, you would say it was World War 3. It’s really disgraceful.”

Source: Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network

in fact: Nobody covered the Pittsburgh protests as “violence” or “riots.”

“But I will say, the media, if you look at yesterday, I went to Pittsburgh. I was treated so well with the first lady…And there was a small group of protesters, but they were very far away, so we didn’t get to see them or hear them. They were very far away. It was a very small group. They tried to make it like it was a big group. It was, maybe a hundred people, maybe less.”

Source: Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network

in fact: The protests in Pittsburgh were much larger than Trump claimed. “By the time Air Force One arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport, the protest had swelled to about 2,000 people,” the Washington Post reported.

Brexit likely to be Britain’s greatest disaster

Prime Minister Theresa May has earned her defeat in Parliament and only has herself to blame. No matter how this Brexit drama ends, the damage will remain,

January 16, 2019

by Barbara Wesel

DW

Theresa May has suffered a crushing defeat in the vote on the UK’s withdrawal agreement with the EU. A prime minister would normally step down after such a historic defeat, but May nipped the question of her resignation in the bud. She said she had taken on the role of prime minister in order to implement Brexit and would fulfill this task. And that’s that.

May will also survive the opposition’s confidence vote. This is because the conservatives will close ranks again as soon as it’s a matter of holding on to power. But for British politics, May’s persistence, which has long bordered on stubbornness, is a disaster.

The prime minister deserves this defeat in Parliament because she herself is to blame. Brexit has divided and deadlocked her government and British politics in general — and that’s May’s fault, too. From the outset, as head of government, she only had her Conservatives in view. She spoke only to her own hardliners, trying to keep the party together at all costs. In doing so, she failed to build alliances, reach out to the opposition and sound out compromises.

May’s hostility toward EU workers in Britain and against the European Union itself, has only deepened the rifts. And she has not made any friends among her European colleagues, whose support she will be depending on when the UK leaves, as well as afterward. May lacks the stature of a head of government. She is not showing any responsibility for the future, or for Britain’s welfare. As a politician, she is too small-minded and too narrow, too rigid and unimaginative for the difficult times that Brexit has brought about.

Britain needs a new prime minister, but opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is plagued by the lack of unity within the Labour Party. And so far, there has been no one else in sight to take on the role. It seems that common sense, compromise and any historical insight into the international role and possibilities of the country have disappeared from British politics overnight.

More to come

Britain’s political institutions have shown that they are not up to facing the challenges of Brexit. The government is at loggerheads and failing. And until now, Parliament has only been able to make decisions against existing proposals and remains unable to find a way out of the crisis.

The House of Commons is Britain’s only chance to escape the Brexit horror show. Members of Parliament will have to find a majority across party lines. That could mean a softer Brexit, such as remaining in the internal market. Or it could mean a second referendum, when the Labour leadership finally breaks away from its socialist illusions.

None of this would be easy to achieve; there’s no guarantee of a good outcome. But this shows Brexit’s unprecedented destructive power: It is not tearing apart the European Union as expected, but, rather, it is tearing Britain apart. Brexit will likely prove the country’s greatest disaster.

 

Pelosi asks Trump to delay State of the Union address, or deliver it in writing

House speaker says event would place an undue burden on the departments responsible for security, as a result of the shutdown

January 16, 2028

by Lauren Gambino in Washington

The Guardian

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has requested Donald Trump delay, or deliver in writing, a State of the Union address scheduled for 29 January unless the government reopens this week.

In a letter to the president, Pelosi said the annual remarks would place an undue burden on the departments responsible for security at the event, as a result of the record shutdown that began on 22 December over Trump’s demand for a border wall.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29,” Pelosi wrote in the letter.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The address to a joint session of Congress gathers leaders from all three branches of government in the House chamber. With so many officials in one room, the event takes weeks to coordinate and involves law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level.

Traditionally, one member of the cabinet is selected to be the “designated survivor” and does not attend in the event a catastrophe incapacitates the president, vice-president and all other officials in the line of succession.

“Both the US Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now – with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs,” Pelosi wrote.

Although George Washington and John Adams delivered the State of the Union in person, presidents for over a century delivered it via writing. It wasn’t until 1913 that President Woodrow Wilson began the practice of delivering a speech to Congress as a way of rallying the nation behind his agenda. The last time a president delivered the State of the Union in writing was in 1981 when Jimmy Carter did so days before Ronald Reagan took office.

Hours after she was elected speaker on 3 January, Pelosi invited Trump to deliver his speech to a joint session of Congress on 29 January. Since then, the shutdown has stretched into a fourth week while the White House is warning that the funding lapse could have a sustained negative impact on economic growth as nearly 800,000 federal employees are furloughed or working without pay.

Trump has demanded that Democrats, newly empowered in the House of Representatives, designate $5.7bn to build a wall along the southern border as part of legislation to fund the government. Democrats have refused and urged the president to reopen the government and allow the parties to separately negotiate their disagreements over border security.

The House has passed bills that would fund parts of the government departments but the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to take up the measures. Negotiations between the White House and Democrats have stalled.

The last time a State of the Union address was moved was in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan postponed the speech after the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. He instead addressed the nation from the Oval Office that evening and delivered his State of the Union speech the following week.

 

Factbox: Impact on U.S. government widens on 25th day of shutdown

January 15, 2019

Reuters

(Reuters) – The longest U.S. government shutdown in history reached its 25th day on Tuesday, with most of the 800,000 employees who have been furloughed or are working without pay having missed their first paychecks last week.

The White House and congressional Democrats remain divided over Republican President Donald Trump’s demand for money for a border wall.

The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, is the 19th since the mid-1970s, although most have been brief. A 1995-1996 shutdown over a funding battle between Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republican House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich lasted 21 days. The current one has not affected three-quarters of the government, including the Department of Defense and the Postal Service, which have secure funding.

But some 800,000 employees from the departments of Homeland Security and Transportation, among others, have been furloughed or are working without pay. Private contractors working for many government agencies are also without pay and private companies that rely on business from federal workers or other consumers – such as national park visitors – are affected across the country.

The following is what is happening around the federal government:

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

Nearly 70,000 IRS employees, or about 88 percent of the workforce, have been furloughed, raising concerns about American taxpayer filings and refunds and the ability of the agency to manage government revenues ahead of the April 15 income tax filing deadline.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service said on Tuesday it intended to bring back more than 46,000 furloughed workers to process annual tax returns and refunds and other tasks.

HOMELAND SECURITY

The department that oversees Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard and the Secret Service is affected.

Of 245,000 agency employees, nearly 213,000 have been deemed “essential,” according to the department’s contingency plan, so they are working without pay until a funding bill is passed.

More than 50,000 TSA officers are working without pay, but Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern about some transportation employees failing to show up for work or calling in sick.

HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD)

Most of the department’s 7,500 employees are “non-essential” and only about 340 are working. Nearly 1,000 others may be called in for specific tasks, without pay.

The shutdown has left administration officials scrambling to prevent the eviction of thousands of people covered by a HUD program that expired on Jan. 1 and now cannot be renewed, according to the Washington Post.

Public housing authorities and Native American tribal housing entities are not part of the federal government and so are not required to shut down. But the federal government provides some of their funding, so some have reduced services or changed operating hours.

HUD, which oversees some housing loan and low-income housing payment programs, warned that a protracted shutdown could result in a decline in home sales.

INTERIOR

The Interior Department intends to temporarily recall some furloughed workers to prepare an upcoming Gulf of Mexico oil lease sale, using funds left over from last year, according to a department document.

The National Park Service, under the umbrella of the Interior Department, is operating with a skeleton staff. Under its contingency plan, some parks may be accessible, with others closed completely. The park service is providing no visitor services such as restrooms, facility and road maintenance and trash collection. Some volunteers have worked to clean up sites, according to media reports, and some states and other localities have also pitched in funding to keep parks operating. There has been damage to fragile lands by unmonitored visitors. Some campgrounds have closed because of sanitation issues.

The parks are losing about $400,000 a day in fees because no rangers are staffing the entrances, according to Senate appropriators. The park service has authorized using previously collected entrance fees to bring in additional staff to clean up trash and other tasks in a move some critics have said is illegal, the Washington Post reported.

The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington, which receive U.S. government funding, are also closed.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and Census Bureau is not publishing economic data, including figures on gross domestic product, inflation, personal income, spending, trade and new home sales, during the shutdown.

OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

The agency that oversees the federal workforce has given advice to workers on dealing with landlords, mortgage lenders and other creditors, including sample letters explaining severe income loss because of the lack of federal funding. Some federal workers are applying for unemployment benefits, according to media reports.

JUDICIARY

The U.S. court system said on Tuesday it could operate until Jan. 25 and that most proceedings would continue as scheduled. Cases involving furloughed lawyers from the executive branch of government may be delayed. Initially, the courts had estimated funding would be exhausted on Jan. 18, but “aggressive efforts to reduce expenditures” bought extra time.

Immigration judges are among those furloughed, leading to thousands of long-delayed deportation cases being rescheduled.

HEALTH

The Food and Drug Administration and other agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services are partially affected by the shutdown. Some food and drug inspections are on hold, but the FDA says it is still able to respond to emergencies, such as food borne illness outbreaks. The Indian Health Service is not able to provide most of its funds to tribes and Urban Indian Health programs. Some scientific research projects also cannot continue in full.

AGRICULTURE

The Department of Agriculture has said that U.S. farmers could have more time to apply for aid aimed at mitigating any harm during ongoing trade disputes with China, among others, adding that farmers who had already applied would continue to receive payments.

USDA has also delayed several key reports on major domestic and world crops that were due to be released on Jan. 11.

Funding for food aid for low-income Americans, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, will continue in February, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said last week, but he warned the outlook for March was uncertain if there was no end to the shutdown.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

The FCC, which regulates radio and television broadcast and cable systems, has suspended most operations. Work for “the protection of life and property” will continue as will operations at the agency’s Office of Inspector General, the FCC’s internal watchdog.

TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT

Of its 55,000 employees, 20,400 have been put on leave. That excludes most of the Federal Aviation Administration, where 24,200 are working and the Federal Highway Administration, where all 2,700 employees are funded through other sources.

The FAA said on Tuesday it was calling back 1,700 aviation safety inspectors “to perform duties to ensure continuous operational safety of the entire national airspace.”

Air traffic control, hazardous material safety inspections and accident investigations continue, but some rule-making, inspections and audits have been paused.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has furloughed nearly 60 percent of its staff, halting auto safety investigations and new vehicle recall notices. The agency said it would recall furloughed employees if it “becomes aware of an imminent threat to the safety of human life.”

Air traffic controllers and other aviation industry workers protested on the Capitol grounds last week.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

An estimated 1,100 of the office’s 1,800 employees are on leave. That includes most of the Office of Management and Budget, which helps implement budget and policy goals.

NASA

Most employees at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are on furlough. The small percentage who remain are working without pay. Work on any satellite mission that has not yet launched will be suspended until the agency receives funding, according to its contingency plan.

ENVIRONMENT

The Environmental Protection Agency has furloughed most of its 14,000 workers, with fewer than 800 deemed “necessary to protect life and property” reporting to work without pay. Workers who monitor pollution and clean up superfund sites are among those furloughed.

Reporting by Makini Brice, David Morgan, Amanda Becker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Lawrence Hurley, David Shepardson and Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Richard Cowan and Peter Cooney

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

January 16, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conversation No. 80

Date: Thursday, April 17, 1997

Commenced: 2:21 PM CST

Concluded:  2:52 PM CST

 

RTC: Good afternoon Gregory. Did you get your car back from the shop in one piece?

GD: Yes, and it actually runs better now that they got the stroller out from under the engine compartment.

RTC: Now, now, Gregory, somehow I can’t believe that. How could a stroller get under your car?

GD: I like to run red lights, Robert, how else. And last night, I got a ticket for going twenty miles an hour.

RTC: Normally, that’s not so fast.

GD: Ah, but it was in the local mall.

RTC: Gregory, you must have been at the coffee again.

GD: What else? Glue is just too expensive. And when I used it in the past, my face kept sticking to the sheets. Oh, well, enough ribaldry so late in the day. And getting stuck to the sheets is a forbidden topic, I guess. Last week I dreamed I was eating an angel food cake and when I woke up, my pillow was gone. Enough, enough. How is life treating you?

RTC: Good days and bad days, Gregory.

GD: How is Emily?

RTC: Very good. Thank you for asking.

GD: Not at all. I had a privileged childhood. We were taught to be polite. I have no idea what good that does but I have been conditioned.

RTC: Bill Corson is thinking of running for Congress, by the way. Did he mention this to you?

GD: No. Is he serious?

RTC: Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell what is serious about Bill.

GD: Kimmel should run. The ladies would flock to his standard.

RTC: I think he’d spend most of his time on the platform discussing his grandfather and Pearl Harbor.

GD: Yes. He is a little limited in his scope. I was involved with politics one time and it was a hysterical romp in the sheep pen.

RTC: You ran for something?

GD: A speeding bus. No, I ran for nothing but I helped out a friend of mine who wanted to unseat a local judge. Interesting sort of thing. Do you want to hear about it?

RTC: Does this involve drag racing in the mall?

GD: No, actually it doesn’t but it had its roots in my friend, Marvin, and his Ferrari. He was going too fast in it and had a few drinks under his belt so the local cops grabbed him. The judge in his case, a local power, was nasty with him and Marvin loathed the man. Also, I note, Marvin had a lot of money. We knew each other, and he was aware that I could get things done in let’s say unorthodox ways. We had the same lawyer. Anyway, the judge, who was part of our local power elite, had been on the bench for centuries and was a permanent fixture. He was up for the standard reelection and Marvin wanted him booted off the bench. We made a deal, did Marvin and I. I would get rid of the judge and Marvin would pay my out of pocket expenses plus whatever he thought proper if I was successful. Now, we had some young attorney running for the job. He had no money and the sitting judge had all the local money behind him. How to unseat him.

RTC: You had one of your nasty friends shoot him?

GD: Now, you’re trying to use CIA tactics here, Robert. No, I was not going to shoot him or even run over him with someone else’s car on a rainy night. First, I went to see the young candidate. I asked him, in private, that if I got him elected at no expense to himself, would he throw out Marvin’s conviction for drunk driving and he laughed and agreed.

RTC: Did he?

GD: We’ll get to that in good time. Well, the first thing I did was to design a bumper sticker telling voters to vote for the judge. All perfectly straightforward. Took it to Frisco to a professional printer along with a phony purchase order I had drawn up using a letterhead from the judge’s reelection campaign. They printed 20,000 stickers and billed it to the judge. Next, I went to some of my Teamster friends for whom I had done a recent and significant favor and in return, we took all of these stickers and had the boys put them on the back of every car they could find in parking lots and other public places. Now note, I did not say on the rear bumper. They put them on the back trunk lids of the cars. Ever try to get a bumper sticker off, Robert? They stick like shit to a blanket. Many very angry citizens, Robert, many. Now, that was the first thing I did. The second was to write up a letter to every citizen in the town, telling them the reasons to vote for the judge. I ran off thousands at a girl friend’s church mimeograph service. For free, of course. Then we stuffed many thousand envelopes, sealed them and stuck labels on the front. I had the judge’s campaign office stamped with a rubber stamp on the front top and I had bought gummed labels for every registered voter in town. That I also billed to the judge. The stamps I had to buy. Now the overall theme of this mailing sounded as if it were written by a participant in the Special Olympics and the terrible sketches accompanying it were equally awful. We marked them as third class postage but sealed the envelopes, Robert, making them first class mailings. We, Marvin and I, dropped thousands of these into the main post office late at night and then a day later, we had so much fun. You see, the letters had postage due because they were not third class and notices were left for residents absent at work. The day after this, we drove past the local post office and I would have sworn that it had been snowing. There were vast snowbanks of ripped up letters all over the front lawn and sidewalk in front of the building as thousands of citizens flocked down there to pay their two cents only to discover really awful campaign trash.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: Marvin did enjoy it too. And the next thing we did was to hire a sound truck to drive all over town early Sunday morning with a loud appeal for anyone hearing to vote for judge so and so the next week. My, my, so many irate late sleepers, wrenched from the arms of Morpheus, or their idiot sister, and having to listen to the message. Oh yes, we charged that to the judge as well. Let’s see now…yes, and then we got a couple of ladies I know to do a number. See, they would stand at bus stops in town around four in the afternoon, a block apart. One would get on the crowded commute bus and at the next stop, the other would. My, they would recognize each other and start a nice dialog that could be heard from one end of the bus to the other. They discussed the coming election and one said she would never vote for the incumbent judge because her cousin in the sheriff’s office had told her that the distinguished jurist had a fifteen year old black girl out in La Honda for weekends of endless fun. And they would then get off the bus, one stop at a time, and repeat the act again.

RTC: Now that’s really evil, Gregory.

GD: Oh, I thought so at the time. But creative and very, very deadly. See, when people hear something like that, they repeat it, Robert, but they don’t want to say it was gossip heard on a bus to they tell their co workers or family members that an unnamed high level police official told them. And so the good work prospers. And I rather like what I did on the day before the election. You see, in that town, you could get a permit from the city and bag the parking meters, paying for the daily take in return for free advertising….

RTC: Jesus

GD: So I bought some bread bags in Frisco and had another printer up there indicate that there was free parking that day, courtesy of the reelection campaign for the judge. Naturally, people parked and felt they could stay there all day, thanks to the judge and his friends. I got m y Teamster friends and we bagged every meter in town. Along came the parking cops who looked at the bags and then called in to check. When they found the bags were fake, they tore them off and ticketed the cars.

RTC: Oh lovely, Gregory. I always said we should have put you on the payroll.

GD: I don’t take blood money. Interesting election results. The challenger spent about $200 on silly ads but a whopping 90% of the electorate turned out and about the same amount voted him into office in a stunning landslide. They voted their annoyance. I understand the judge’s people had some terrible bills they challenged. Anyway, Marvin got his conviction overturned.

RTC: Did he make it good to you?

GD: Well, I gave him my out of pocket expenses, mostly stamps, and told him as for anything additional, I would leave it up to his generosity. He gave me a check for the stamps and another sealed envelope. Of course I didn’t open it because that would be in bad taste and after he took me out to a wonderful, and very, very expensive  French dinner, I went home and opened the second envelope. Five hefty figures, Robert, five figures. I call that sowing seeds of kindness.

RTC: You missed your calling, Gregory.

GD: A wardheeler or a parson, Robert?

RTC: Not much difference in the end.

GD: Yes, and that’s where the judge got it.

(Concluded at 2:52 PM CST)

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

 

 

 

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