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TBR News January 29, 2020

Jan 29 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. January 2, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose

Commentary for January 29: It is finally becoming clear that the purported deadly Chinese flu virus is actually just that: a flu virus. The hysterically funny media screamings that we will all die are fading away and attention is turning to the Sentat hearings. If Bolton testifies, Trump will be in serious trouble so he is screaming like a fat woman sitting on a hot wood stove. He claims Bolton is useless so then one wonders why he appointed him to his staff in the first place? Trump lies like an old carpet and can’t remember today what he said yesterday…or even two hours before. He would be better off strutting around on television as a game host than in the Oval office. He had a serious heart attack recently, one that was covered up, and if pressure on him continues, Fat Donny might well end up in a rubber bag.”

Trump’s Approval/Disapproval rating January 28 reporting

Source                         Approve        Disapprove
_________________________________________
Morning Consult            40%               55%

The Table of Contents

-Trump’s Legal Team Opened Their Impeachment Defense With a Blizzard of Lies
-Trump rages at John Bolton amid signs former adviser could be called to testify
-McConnell says Republicans do not have votes to block witnesses – reports
-U.S. files lawsuits over robocall scams, cites ‘massive financial losses’
-Should you panic about the coronavirus from China? Here’s what the experts say
-The Dark History of Donald Trump
-The Season of Evil
-The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Trump’s Legal Team Opened Their Impeachment Defense With a Blizzard of Lies
“The president did absolutely nothing wrong.”
January 28, 2020
by Dan Friedman
Mother Jones
President Donald Trump’s lawyers launched their defense Saturday morning with a blizzard of false claims.
It started with the president’s critical July 25th call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. White House Deputy Counsel Michael Purpura referred repeatedly to how what he called “the actual transcript” and “the real transcript” of this call led to an investigation that resulted in Trump’s impeachment. But the document Purpura quoted is not a transcript. It is a “memorandum of telephone conversation,” which means that it reflects the memories of aides who listened in, but may exclude significant parts of Trump and Zelensky’s conversation. Purpura should know the difference.
Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, are accused of withholding a White House meeting from Zelensky to try to force him to announce investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as an investigation into a false conspiracy theory that a Democratic National Committee server is secretly stored in Ukraine When that didn’t work, Trump is accused of withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to increase his leverage in forcing Zelensky to announce the probes.
That adds up to two quid pro quos, but Purpura on Saturday simply ignored the first one. He played a clip that showed US Ambassador the European Union Gordon Sondland saying that while he believed Trump had conditioned the release of aid on Zelensky announcing investigations, he didn’t know for sure. But Purpura didn’t mention Sondland’s unqualified statement that Trump had conditioned a White House meeting for Zelensky on his announcing investigations. “Was there a ‘quid pro quo’?” Sondland said in his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in November. “With regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
Purpura also ignored the part of Sondland testimony in which the ambassador said he had told Zelensky’s top aide on September 1 that US aid would not resume until Ukraine announced the investigations. That is, Sondland, believing he was acting on Trump’s behalf, actually offered this supposed trade.
Having pretended that one of the proposed quid pro quos Trump is accused of did not exist, Purpura attacked the existence of the second one with additional false claims. “The Ukrainians did not know that the security assistance was paused until the end of August,” he said, arguing Ukraine couldn’t have been extorted if they didn’t know of the hold. But evidence Purpura blew off suggests they did. Olena Zerkal, Ukraine’s former deputy foreign minister says Ukrainians knew of the hold in July. “We had this information,” Zerkal told the New York Times last month. And that’s not all. Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of Defense, in testimony before the House last fall, said that her staff received an email on July 23 indicating that Ukrainians were asking about the delay in delivery of aid.
Trump’s lawyers also rolled out the litany of their favorite old arguments. They noted that “security assistance flowed” to Ukraine in September without Zelensky announcing the investigations Trump wanted. The release of the aid, of course, only came after a whistleblower complaint drew intense media scrutiny. As House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of Democrats’ impeachment managers, memorably put it: The Trump administration released the aid because “they got caught.” Trump’s lawyers simply pretended the release of the aid came without public pressure. Purpura also argued that Trump had increased lethal US support for Ukraine, an argument that overlooks the president’s alleged subverting of that very policy to benefit his presidential campaign.
But the attorneys real argument is more basic. “The president did absolutely nothing wrong,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, said in his opening remarks on Saturday. That’s what they’re going with when the next phase of the White House defense begins Monday afternoon.

McConnell says Republicans do not have votes to block witnesses – reports
Trump’s defense team and his Republican allies have argued against the inclusion of witnesses at impeachment trial
January 28, 2020
by Daniel Strauss in Washington and Tom McCarthy in New York
The Guardian
Republicans do not yet have the needed votes to block witnesses from appearing at the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, told his caucus in a meeting on Tuesday night, according to multiple reports.
With an unknown number of Republican senators still undecided on the question of calling witnesses, McConnell could still get the votes he needs to block witnesses and stop the trial from reeling off into unpredictable – and potentially hazardous – territory for the president. At least four Republicans would need to join Democrats to force witness testimony.
Trump’s defense team and his Republican allies have argued vehemently against the inclusion of witnesses at the trial, saying they already had enough information to decide the case and that the Senate should not be burdened by what they have framed as an incomplete process in the House of Representatives.
But those arguments appear not to have been persuasive to the necessary number of senators. Trump’s lawyers concluded their opening arguments on Tuesday.
Led by Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, the defense team dismissed objections to Trump’s conduct towards Ukraine as “policy disagreements” and warned senators not to “lower the bar of impeachment” by voting to convict the president.
The defense team briefly grappled with charges reportedly appearing in an unpublished manuscript written by the former national security adviser John Bolton that Trump had conditioned security aid for Ukraine on the delivery of personal political favors.
Even if Trump did that, his lawyers said, it would not be impeachable. But reports about the Bolton book were in any case “inadmissible” as evidence, Sekulow argued, owing to the secondhand nature of those reports.
“You cannot impeach a president based on an unsourced allegation,” Sekulow said. “Responding to an unpublished manuscript that maybe some reporters have an idea of maybe what it says – if you want to call that evidence, I don’t know what you want to call that – I’d call that inadmissible.”
A two-thirds majority of voting senators is required to convict Trump. An acquittal, much more likely, could be voted on as early as Friday. In the final visible hurdle remaining between Trump and acquittal, senators planned to vote, also on Friday, on whether to call witnesses in the case.
Before McConnell told his caucus that he was short on votes, Republicans had threatened to respond to witnesses called by Democrats with a call for witnesses whom Democrats say are irrelevant to the case but whom Trump has been very much focused on: former vice-president Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, the whistleblower whose complaint launched the impeachment inquiry and potentially others.
Hearing from numerous witnesses could extend the impeachment trial, which began last week and so far has had a brief run by historical standards, into next month and potentially beyond.
But if Sekulow’s argument sounded like a call for Bolton to testify, that was an aberration from the strong posture of the defense team against witnesses and in favor of ending the trial as quickly as possible.
The White House was reportedly spreading the word to senators on Tuesday that calling Bolton or other witnesses would result in a court battle that would prolong the trial indefinitely. Republican senators were to meet on Tuesday afternoon to discuss strategy for the next phase of the trial, a two-day question period in which queries submitted by senators in writing will be read aloud by the chief justice, John Roberts, who is presiding.
It is still far from certain that witnesses including Bolton will testify, but since Sunday night, when Bolton’s manuscript was first reported, some more moderate Republican senators have voiced openness to the prospect, a sticking point for congressional Democrats in the impeachment trial.
“Certainly a few days ago [the chance of witnesses being called] was zero and now it’s something,” Republican strategist Rob Jesmer told the Guardian. “I think that will massively prolong the trial.”
In a Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday, 75% of registered voters responding said that witnesses should be allowed to testify in the impeachment trial, versus 20% who did not want witnesses. Support for witness testimony included 49% of Republicans.
Congress was still digesting the news, reported by the New York Times on Sunday, that Bolton says Trump told him he wanted to keep withholding nearly $400m of security aid to Ukraine until officials there agreed to help investigate political rivals including former vice-president Joe Biden and his family.
On Monday night, the New York Times returned to the well, reporting that in the forthcoming book The Room Where It Happened, Bolton writes that he told the attorney general, William Barr, he was concerned Trump was doing personal favors for autocratic foreign leaders.
News of Bolton’s book has spurred some more moderate Republican senators – Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine – to signal openness to supporting the calling of witnesses.
On Tuesday, the minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said the “drip, drip, drip” of information from Bolton’s manuscript was “reminiscent of Watergate”, the scandal that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.
Sekulow found another construction to describe the impeachment proceedings in his closing statement on Tuesday: “Danger, danger, danger.”
He said: “To lower the bar of impeachment based on these articles of impeachment would impact the functioning of our constitutional republic and the framework of that constitution for generations.
“To have a removal of a president based on a policy dispute? That’s not what the framers intended.”
While Trump’s lawyers have painted Trump’s alleged efforts to force the Ukrainian president to announce an investigation into Biden as a “policy”, Democrats have argued it amounted to election tampering, with the goal of providing Trump with a means to smear his potential 2020 rival.
Trump’s defense team could be pressed during the next question period of the trial to explain why not hearing from Bolton personally is preferable to calling Bolton, who has pre-emptively agreed to testify, as a witness.

Trump rages at John Bolton amid signs former adviser could be called to testify
• President complains of Bolton’s ‘nasty and untrue’ book
• Book alleges Trump did link Ukraine aid delay to Biden inquiry
January 29, 2020
by Joanna Walters in New York
The Guardian
Donald Trump launched a direct attack on his former national security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday amid signs that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell does not have Republican votes locked down to block Democrats’ efforts to call Bolton as a witness in the president’s impeachment trial.
As another tense day unfolds on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with US senators able to begin asking questions of the Democrats’ prosecution team and Trump’s defense team in the trial, the issue of witnesses and fresh evidence being submitted is in the balance.
Trump attacked Bolton after reports that a draft manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book claims Trump directly linked a delay in military aid to Ukraine to a condition that the Ukrainian government investigate his Democratic rivals, especially Joe Biden.
Trump wrote of Bolton: “… if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?”
One of Trump’s defense arguments during the impeachment inquiry was that those two were not connected. Critics say he was trying to use a vulnerable Ukraine to help his re-election chances; Trump said he was just trying to root out corruption there.
Trump maintains Bolton was fired last fall, while Bolton claimed he resigned.
On Wednesday, Trump also complained about Bolton’s timing. He wrote: “Why didn’t John Bolton complain about this “nonsense” a long time ago, when he was very publicly terminated. He said, not that it matters, NOTHING!”
Moderate Republicans in the Senate are under pressure from Democrats to compel witnesses to appear at the impeachment trial, with Bolton top of their list.
Meanwhile, McConnell is under pressure to round up his caucus and move to vote by the end of the week first to block witnesses and then to acquit Trump on the impeachment charges altogether.
McConnell told his caucus in a meeting on Tuesday night, according to multiple reports, of the stakes.
With an unknown number of Republican senators still undecided on the question of calling witnesses, McConnell could still get the votes he needs to block witnesses and stop the trial from reeling off into unpredictable – and potentially hazardous – territory for the president. At least four Republicans would need to join Democrats to force witness testimony.
Trump’s defense team and his Republican allies have argued vehemently against the inclusion of witnesses at the trial, saying they already had enough information to decide the case and that the Senate should not be burdened by what they have framed as an incomplete process in the House of Representatives.
But those arguments appear not to have been persuasive to the necessary number of senators. Trump’s lawyers concluded their opening arguments on Tuesday.
Led by Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, the defense team dismissed objections to Trump’s conduct towards Ukraine as “policy disagreements” and warned senators not to “lower the bar of impeachment” by voting to convict the president.
A furious Trump complained on Twitter on Wednesday morning that Democrats could not be satisfied. During the inquiry process in the House of Representatives last year, the White House blocked senior administration officials from testifying in the House.
No witnesses have appeared at the trial in the Senate, with House managers detailing the case for the prosecution of Trump that he abused the power of his office and, in gagging officials and blocking the release of some documentary evidence, obstructed Congress – forming the two articles of impeachment relating to Trump’s conduct with regard to Ukraine.

U.S. files lawsuits over robocall scams, cites ‘massive financial losses’
January 28, 2020
by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Tuesday sued five U.S. companies and three individuals, alleging they were behind hundreds of millions of fraudulent robocalls that scammed elderly Americans and others into “massive financial losses.”
The U.S. Justice Department lawsuits said most of the calls originated in India and used voice over internet protocol (VoIP) carriers, which use internet connections instead of traditional copper phone lines.
The companies named in the suits include Tollfreedeals.com, Global Voicecom Inc., Global Telecommunication Services Inc and KAT Telecom Inc. The Justice Department said the robocalls led to “massive financial losses to elderly and vulnerable victims across the nation.”
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, who overseas the Eastern District of New York office, said that for the first time, the Justice Department was targeting “U.S.-based enablers” and seeking temporary restraining orders to block further calls. The government said the firms were warned numerous times they were carrying fraudulent robocalls.
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a measure aimed at cracking down on the billions of irritating and deceptive robocalls that Americans receive.
The companies did not respond to requests for comment.
The Justice Department said calls facilitated by “gateway carriers” had “falsely threatened victims with a variety of catastrophic government actions, including termination of social security benefits, imminent arrest for alleged tax fraud and deportation for supposed failure to fill out immigration forms correctly.”
The Justice Department alleged TollFreeDeals.com carried 720 million calls during one 23-day period, and that more than 425 million of those calls lasted less than one second, which suggests they were robocalls.
The government said in a court filing Tuesday that “with little more than off the shelf VoIP technology, an autodialer and a business relationship with a gateway carriers, any individual or entity with a broadband internet connection can introduce unlimited numbers of robocalls into the U.S. telephone system from any location in the world.”
Robocall frauds are a significant issue. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 400,000 complaints allegedly imposter fraud claims of $152.9 million, which the Justice Department said “substantially underestimates the extent” of fraud because many do not report losses.
Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; Editing by David Gregorio

Should you panic about the coronavirus from China? Here’s what the experts say
January 24, 2020
by Emily Baumgaertner Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
It’s a virus scientists have never seen before. Health officials don’t know exactly where it came from, but it has traveled more than 7,000 miles since it was discovered late last month in central China. New infections are confirmed every day despite an unprecedented quarantine. The death toll is rising, too.
If this were a Hollywood movie, now would be time to panic. In real life, however, all that most Americans need to do is wash their hands and proceed with their usual weekend plans.
“Don’t panic unless you’re paid to panic,” said Brandon Brown, an epidemiologist at UC Riverside who has studied many deadly outbreaks.
“Public health workers should be on the lookout. The government should be ready to provide resources. Transmitting timely facts to the public is key,” Brown said. “But for everyone else: Breathe.”
More than three weeks into the outbreak that has spread to at least 1,354 people in 11 countries and territories, scientists have learned some important things about the virus.
It is a coronavirus, which makes it a relative of the pathogens that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. Those diseases have sickened thousands of people around the world and caused hundreds of deaths.
Other coronaviruses result in nothing worse than a common cold.
In addition to humans, coronaviruses can sicken cows, pigs, cats, chickens, camels, bats and other animals. Most of the outbreak’s early victims said they had visited a large seafood and live animal market in the Chinese megacity of Wuhan, suggesting that the virus originated in another species before jumping to humans.
When experts examined the organism’s genetic code, they found a sequence that was entirely new to science. That means many people have not had a chance to develop sufficient natural immunity to the coronavirus that has been dubbed 2019-nCoV — an important consideration since vaccines take years to develop.
Fortunately, the virus seems to cause only minor symptoms — such as fever and difficulty with breathing — in people who are young and healthy. Most of the 41 deaths tied to the coronavirus to date have been in people who were at least 50 years old with underlying medical problems or weakened immune systems, Chinese officials said.
“We don’t have evidence yet to suggest this is any more virulent than the flu you see in the U.S. each year,” said said Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiology researcher at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Most people, with proper medical attention, will do just fine.”
In fact, it’s possible that hundreds or even thousands of people in China and elsewhere have been infected but have had such mild reactions that no one even noticed, said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Some might have fought off the bug without showing any outward symptoms at all.
“It’s too soon to know,” Inglesby said. “Often in new outbreaks, the most serious or severe cases are recognized first,” and that may result in a skewed picture of just how dangerous the virus truly is.
Epidemiologists are also trying to nail down when the new coronavirus gained the ability to jump directly from human to human. More than 85% of patients identified in the past week said they had not visited the Wuhan market that is believed to be ground zero for the outbreak. (The market is now closed.)
“It is clear the growing outbreak is no longer due to ongoing exposures at the Huanan seafood market,” according to the latest situation report from the World Health Organization.
Patients in Guangdong province have spread the virus to family members who had not traveled to Wuhan, which is about 600 miles away. The WHO also reports a few cases of hospital employees and other healthcare workers becoming sick after treating infected patients.
Public health officials said they expect to see human-to-human transmissions continue in the short term. That means new cases are sure to emerge throughout Asia, and even in the United States.
Information is spreading faster than the pathogen — and that’s just as novel.
The 2003 SARS outbreak that began in China’s Guangdong province in 2002 sickened 8,098 people and killed 774 in 29 countries by the time it ended in 2003. But in the outbreak’s early days, the Chinese government obfuscated the number of cases, hindering foreign leaders’ efforts to help citizens’ ability to protect themselves. The resulting public backlash prompted the dismissals of the country’s health minister and mayor of Beijing.
This time around, Chinese officials have moved swiftly to alert other countries to the outbreak’s developments. They’ve also shared the virus’ genetic sequence, which can help epidemiologists track its spread and make predictions about what it might do next.
“This is definitely not 2003,” said Rebecca Katz, the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University. “The speed with which this virus was identified is testament to that.”
Within 24 hours of receiving the coronavirus’s genome, the CDC programmed a real-time diagnostic test called an RT-PCR assay, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. The tool quickly confirmed that a man in Washington state and a woman in Chicago were infected with 2019-nCoV and not some other pneumonia-causing virus. Other institutions around the world have used the genetic code to design similar tests.
That leads to another reason to avoid alarm: The rapidly rising case counts may be deceiving you. Before these new tools were developed, doctors had no surefire way to confirm a case of 2019-nCoV. That means that, as testing becomes available, infections appear to skyrocket.
“You’ll see a spike of 300 cases, but maybe those 300 were there all along,” Mina said. “This might not reflect a growing epidemic as much as it reflects better detection.”
Until they have a better count of the number of people infected, experts can’t calculate the coronavirus’s death rate. And since viruses are capable of mutating quickly, much of the information scientists have gathered may only be temporarily accurate.
“In any evolving outbreak, you need to make response decisions with imperfect information,” Katz said.
Mina said he has “absolute faith” in the CDC’s ability to stay on top of the situation. The health agency alerted doctors in early January to be on the lookout for patients who might have the virus, and last week it began screening passengers at U.S. airports that receive flights from Wuhan.
But the CDC isn’t running the show, and questions still abound about global preparedness. On Thursday, WHO officials said the outbreak did not rise to the level of “a global health emergency,” but that “it may yet become one.”
Dr. Guan Yi is almost certain that it will. Yi, an infectious disease expert at the University of Hong Kong, told reporters that even the drastic quarantine measures affecting 36 million people in and around Wuhan won’t be enough to keep the coronavirus from spreading because the Chinese government acted too late.
Yi also said he visited markets in Wuhan after the outbreak began and was dismayed by the lack of hygiene he observed there. Though he has put his expertise to use to fight SARS and several influenza outbreaks involving novel strains from birds and pigs, this is the first time he has felt hopeless, he said.
Indeed, Mina said some pathogens prove to outsmart even the world’s best public health agencies — and when they’ve never been seen before, they have a competitive advantage.
“Something as horrific as Ebola can seem better than this, because we’ve had years to understand it. At least we would really know the beast we’re up against,” he said. “As humans, we are always fearful of the unknown.”
Times staff writer Richard Read contributed to this report from Seattle.

The Dark History of Donald Trump
January 29, 2020
by Michael Hunt

The current American President, Donald Trump, a proclaimed dedicated friend of Israel, once claimed his family was Swedish but then admitted was German, from the Westerwald. The reason for claiming Swedish origins is because his great uncle in the direct line, was Arnold Trump(f), a native of the village of Kallstadt in the Westerwald area
Arnold Wilhelm August Trumpf. was Vorstand Reichsverband Deutscher Landwirtschaftlicher Genossenschaften-Raiffensene.V and Hauptabteilungsleiter III of the Reichsnahrstand, Allegemeine SS since 1934.
This Trumpf was also a director of the Reichsbank.
SS background of Arnold Trumpf:
SS-Oberführer / Leutnant d.R. a.D.
Born: 27. Oct. 1892 in Gifhorn
Died: 7. January 1985 in Garmish-Partenkirchen
NSDAP-Nr.: 389 920 from 1, December 1930
SS-Nr.: 187 119
Promotions:
SS-Oberfuhrer: 30. Jan. 1939
Career:
Bei dem RuS-Hauptamt: (9. Nov. 1944)
Decorations & Awards:
1914 Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse
Kriegsverdienstkreuz II. Klasse ohne Schwerter
Verwundetenabzeichen, 1918 in Schwarz
Ehrenkreuz fur Frontkampfer
Ehrendegen des RF SS
Totenkopfring der SS
The RuSHA was founded in 1931 by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler
Among their duties were:
• Kidnapping of children suitable for Germanization
• Population transfers
• The persecution and liquidation of Jews

The RuSHA also employed Josef Mengele from November 1940 to early 1941, in Department II of its Family Office, where he was responsible for “care of genetic health” and “genetic health tests”
This family information is never discussed by Trump or his Repubican co-conspirators for fear of alienating the American Jewish voters.
References
• http://de.metapedia.org/wiki/Trumpf,_Arnold
• Das Deutsche Führerlexikon, Otto Stollberg G.m.b.H., Berlin 1934
• Dienstaltersliste der Schutzstaffel der NSDAP 9, November 1944

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

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

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 71
Tyler McKnight was ecstatic. As he told his wife repeatedly on the drive back to Winnetka, meeting the President would be the first step towards the elevation of Tyler McKnight. His wife, who was never too well wrapped sober, was now inebriated and kept singing songs of her childhood in an eerie monotone while Tyler babbled about the possibility of snatching at least an under secretarial position in the Administration. Once he met with the President and was able to reveal his talents to the leader of the Republic, there was no doubt that they would be moving to Washington, probably to Georgetown.
The flurries of snow that swept across Sheridan Road in no way distracted him from his fierce fantasies or caused him to slow down. He narrowly missed rear-ending a number of cars but there was no break in the flow of words. They would, of course, attend many dinners at the White House and Tyler would be able to expound his views to a much wider spectrum of the national elite than he could at present. Ambassadors and heads of state would replace swimming instructors and club barmen and soon, the firmament would flame with the ascending star of Tyler McKnight.
His wife, Rhoda, fell asleep in Wilmette and didn’t wake up until Tyler poked her in the ribs as they were nearing their house.
Charles Rush had spoken with the Illinois Chairman of the state Democratic machine and decided on that New Year’s Eve to have a small, intimate meeting with the President and some of his top advisors, probably within the next two weeks.
The party leadership had determined that the present governor of Illinois would make a perfect running mate for the President and there was the question of the interim appointment of a new governor. Rush had modestly turned down the offer and there were two other possible candidates. As the backing of his media was extremely important, the decision was made less than an hour before that the President would come to Chicago in the near future and would meet with Charles Rush to discuss these important issues.
The nature preserve business would happen much later, when the weather had improved. The decision to draft the governor hastened the process.
Mark Mitnik managed to evict his generally drunken guests before one in the morning of the first, surveyed the damage to his house and decided that in future, he would host no more such bacchanalian festivals in his house and Robert Conners had eventually fallen out of his chair and was now drooling onto his mauve carpet. In the morning he had an appointment to discuss certain matters with his Latin American drug dealer but for the present, he snored on in blissful ignorance of what was to come.

When Chuck finally awoke, shortly after nine, Gwen was still deep in sleep on the other side of the bed. When he stretched and started to get up, she awoke.
“Hi love. Happy New Year to you too. God, we had a wonderful time, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we certainly did. Well, I have to get downstairs and start in on the dinner.”
“Oh, why not wait a while, Chuckie? We can take up where we left off last night. Do you want to?”
“I’d love to but let me get the food started first.”
She stretched her bare arms up over her head.
“I didn’t know you had it in you, lover. If that’s how you can act when you drink, I’ll buy you a nice big bottle.”
“Yes, well thanks for the compliments but I really have to get downstairs.”
“Want to take a shower with me?”
“Why don’t you try to get some more sleep, Gwen? You’ve got bags under your eyes that look like you could put bowling balls in them.”
She looked intently at his bare, wiry torso.
“I just know I put marks on you last night, Chuck. I can’t see them.”
“I’m wearing my pajama bottoms, dear.”
“No, I mean I’m sure I left little surprises on your chest.”
“I’m thick skinned or hadn’t you noticed? Let me go and I’ll come back later when we’re both awake. OK?”
He took a brief shower and went downstairs, thinking very negative thoughts.
Being outdone by a fifteen-year-old boy was not something he enjoyed contemplating. Now, Gwen would be pestering him to do this or that and he had no idea what Alex had really done. Questions would have to be asked to find out. He couldn’t imagine someone as thin and harmless looking as Alex creating such a lasting impression on a vigorous and attractive young lady that he had a propitiatory interest in.
Claude and Lars had appeared at various times for breakfast and Alex came into the fragrant and warm kitchen at noon. Like Gwen, he too had purple marks under his eyes and he was wrapped in a new bathrobe with his feet stuck into a pair of slippers.
“Hey, Chuck.”
“Hey, Alex. Back in the land of the living I see,” he looked around and saw no one else. “How’s the joint today? Still sore?”
“Oh, not as bad. It smells great.”
“Your joint?”
“No, man, the food. Can I help out?”
“Are you up for the day?”
“I guess so. What happened upstairs?”
“I was going to ask you the same thing, lad. We fooled her, you and I, but we have to have a nice man-to-man talk about your activities last night. She thinks I’m wonderful, all thanks to you and your abraded member.”
“My what?”
“Your raw primary sex organ.”
“Chuck, I don’t understand you.”
“Your sore dick. Got it now? Good. I hear someone coming, so cool it.”
It was Gwen, looking drained and ragged.
“I could smell your feast up there and I decided to come down and see how it was coming along. Hello, Alexis. Did you get a good night’s sleep?”
Alex blushed.
“Well…yes, I did. You slept OK, too?”
She looked at Chuck and smiled.
“Oh, I had a marvelous sleep. Such lovely dreams, too. How long before we eat?”
Chuck looked at the clock on the wall.
“About three hours. Can you survive?”
“I’ll have a bowl of cereal if it’s no trouble.”
It wasn’t and she left.
Alex began to snicker.
“Did you sleep well, lovie?” he said in a falsetto voice. Chuck could hear Gwen climbing the stairs and shook his head.
“Alex, try to show more respect to your elders.”
“Are you talking about you or her?” He pointed towards the door.
“Both of us.”
“Well, you took the heat for me so I’ll be respectful to you. After what she asked me to do last night, I’m not too sure about showing respect to her. You have no idea…”
“Alex, shut up and if you want to learn how to cook, help me with the Yorkshire pudding mix.”
“Oh, you hurt my feelings, Chuck.”
“And you hurt your genitalia, smartass. That’ll teach you to seduce older women and toy with their emotions.”
“Chuck, how old is Gwen?”
“Eighteen.”
“Jesus! She’s only three years older than I am! She doesn’t act eighteen, does she?”
“No, Gwen is a very mature young lady. I mean, having sex with her is not like having it with your mother, is it?”
Alex picked up a mixing bowl and set it on the counter.
“No, but my mother did it with just about everybody else but me and sometimes when I was right there. When Claude went down and got my stuff, I’m surprised he didn’t knock off a piece right in the living room. Look, I had fun last night but I really don’t like sex much. Am I a wuss, Chuck?”
“No, not a wuss. Just burned out. Now, get me six eggs out of the fridge and set them by the bowl. After that, we’ll measure the flour and go from there.”
Dinner, that New Year’s Day, was at eight. There was a salad with a wine vinegar dressing, a black bean soup with sherry, standing ribs of roast beef, baked potato with sour cream and chives, creamed spinach and Yorkshire pudding. An excellent Burgundy accompanied the dinner and there was a hot apple pastry for dessert.
Gwen had slept late and still looked exhausted. Chuck noted that she sat down very carefully and winced as she did so. Claude was in a particularly ebullient mood and spent a good deal of time attempting to get Gwen to laugh, which she only did in a very forced manner. Alex ate a great deal of food, having seconds on everything, and studiously avoided looking at Gwen.
Lars, as usual, started out the dinner saying very little but warmed up after his first glass of wine.
“We should have invited my mom, don’t you think, Chuck?”
“No, your mom has receded into the past and will stay there. You know, I tried to call her, just to find out if people had been asking questions about you and her number has been disconnected with no referral. If you’re lucky, maybe she and her idiot husband moved to Minneapolis and opened a billiard parlor. If you’re really lucky, Lars, she went for a walk in the woods and the bears ate her. I have discovered that they will eat carrion.”
Lars frowned. Chuck had a terrible habit of using large words he did not understand and he disliked displaying his ignorance.
“What? Carrion?”
“Rotten, dead meat.”
“Oh. No, she would scare the bears away, Chuck. I don’t think any bear would want to be seen near her. She’d talk him to death.”
“Speaking about that, Chuck, we have to do something about our guest outside,” Gwen said, referring to LeBec. Alex, who was in a spiteful mood, looked at Chuck and winked.
“Do you mean me, Gwen?”
“No, dear, I had someone else in mind.”
“Oh, I know who you mean.” he said brightly, “That skinny dead guy out in the snow.”
Gwen stared at Chuck who managed to ignore her.
“What dead guy?” Lars asked as he started on his second thick rib of beef.
“The one we rescued,” Chuck said while trying to kick Alex under the table. He missed and caught Claude on the shins.
“Hey, watch it, Charlie! That’s my leg if you don’t mind.”
“Wait just a minute here,” Gwen interjected, “Alex, what are you talking about? What dead guy?”
“The one the bears ate.”
And the entire story of the invasion of the hungry bruins and the subsequent massacre slowly unfolded. Claude found it highly entertaining, Lars was entranced and Gwen wished she had stayed in bed.
Alex had warmed up and was thoroughly enjoying himself.
“Well, look at it this way, Gwen. I mean you guys didn’t have to go out and dig a hole for him, did you? I’ll bet the ground is really hard now so when the bears came after him, Chuck and I decided to throw him over the side of the hill and see if they would eat him. We couldn’t leave him out in front of the house because he was naked and his legs were sticking all up in the air. When we went out the next day, he was gone so they must have snacked on him.”
Chuck merely put his face in his hands and began to laugh.
“That’s not funny, Chuck!” Gwen admonished him. “That must have happened when we were out buying clothes for Alex. I talked to you before about setting a good example for him and here you are….what did you shoot them with? One of my guns?”
“The Magnum.”
“Well I hope the hell you cleaned it afterwards.”
“No, I forgot in all the excitement.”
“What a terrible thing for you to drag an impressionable young boy into.”
“I’m not that young,” Alex said cheerfully. ” I’m only three years younger than you are. Why you could be my sister, Gwen.”
He looked at her out of the corner of his eye and there was a sly grin on his face.
Before Alex could make any more dangerous comments, Chuck gave him such a terrible look that he decided enough was enough and he returned to his dinner.
After the dessert, Gwen decided she ought to take a nice, hot and therapeutic bath to relieve the discomfort in various parts of her lower body, and the party broke up relatively early.
Lars had decided to watch one of his favorite tapes, “Little Jeannie’s Swimming Lesson” and left early, locking himself in his room with the friendly VCR.
When the table was cleared and the dishes safely ensconced in the large washer, Claude expressed some interest in using the sauna. Chuck had no problem but Alex, who initially was willing to do whatever Chuck did, expressed some concern when he discovered exactly what going into a sauna entailed.
He was standing in the basement while the others were undressing.
“Do I have to take off my clothes, Chuck?”
“You don’t wear clothes in a sauna, Alexander. If you feel modest, wear a towel. There are some on the rack there and for sure, you’ll need one under your ass. The bench gets very hot.”
Alex waited until everyone else had stripped and gone inside, looked around and slowly took off his clothes. He had three towels with him when he opened the heavy door and was engulfed in a rolling wall of steam. One he held in his hand to put down on the bench, another was around his waist and a third draped over his shoulders.
Once he was inside, he realized no one could see him anyway and the towels were not necessary so he dropped off two of them and spread the third on a bench at one end of the room.
“God,” Claude said from the depths, “this feels good. Are you alive down there, kid?”
“Yes. It’s hot in here.”
“It should be. Sweat out all that poison from your system.”
Someone coughed and Alex could now make out dim forms on the benches.
Chuck cleared his throat.
“If I wasn’t such a kind hearted person, Alex, I’d take a belt to your pathetic young ass. Don’t needle people like that. What got into you?”
“Why don’t you ask Gwen what got into her? I did. Now she’s all worried I might get dissed about seeing some naked geek in the snow and she forgot all about what she kept telling me to do last night. What is that called, Chuck? Do you have a big word for it?”
“I think we’ve hatched a monster, Claude. The word would be hypocrisy, Alex.”
“Explain?”
“Saying one thing and doing another. Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, Alex, but you are forgetting that poor, sore Gwen thinks it was I romping with her, not poor, innocent and sweet Alexis. And I will pay for your youthful exuberance, kid. No question at all about that at all. I’ll have to lock my doors at night from now on.”
“Oh, lighten up on the kid, Chuck. Any sweet young kid of fifteen who knows about the Cat Whiskers can’t be all bad. If you get concerned about not being able to measure up to a younger, better hung and more virile man, go soak your pathetic ass in a cold tub.”
“Why don’t you shut up, Claude? Rude bastard..”
“You can do better than that, Charlie Tomato. Call me a French fuckhead, why not?”
Alex, who greatly enjoyed the chaffing, began to laugh.
“Hey, Claude, can I ask you a very personal question?
“You can ask me Alex but I might not answer you.”
“Well, when you went to get my stuff, you met my mom, didn’t you?”
“Yes I did, Alex. I met your mom.”
“And you told me she was good looking, didn’t you?”
Claude was now beginning to be wary, sensing what was coming.
“Yes, your mom is a handsome woman. So what?”
“Well, I know her better than you do, Claude. Do you want to make a bet with me?”
“No, Alex, I really don’t.”
“I don’t have any money but I’d win anyway. A hundred bucks?”
“No, Alex, no bets.”
“Well, I’ll ask you anyway.”
Chuck got up and poured more water on the heater and vanished in a pillar of cloud.
“Alex,” he said as he regained his bench, “you’re full of pure shit today. No piece of ass, no matter how exciting, is worth you making so much trouble.”
“Claude, did you scrag my mom? I mean she’s screwed guys a hell of a lot uglier than you. No, I don’t mean it that way! I mean you’re about ten times better looking than the fat dudes she used to bring home. Well, did you?”
“Alex, ask Charlie here. Gentlemen don’t discuss their affairs with others. Right, Chuck?”
“Right, Claude. Alex, mind your business and don’t ask such gross questions.”
“OK, but Claude just doesn’t want to lose his money. Well, we’re real private down here, Chuck. Tell me, who was this dead guy? You said you’d tell me about him sometime.”
“Listen to him, Claude. He’s on a real tear today. Let Alex here have just a little pussy and he’s out for real blood.”
“A little? All night long, my dick’s still sore and you call that a little?”
“No doubt Claude here, renowned cocksman that he claims to be, would view your activities last night as a mere curtain raiser to the great act to follow. Right, Claude?”
“Right, Chuck. Why I remember the time I nailed…” and he rattled off the names of three particularly gorgeous young movie actresses, “at the same time. Just like shish kabob and I went for two days and three nights without stopping for breath. Of course we were making a movie then so the money helped but Uncle Claude is no stranger to real, abiding and spiritual love.”
“Did you really make a movie?”
“No, Alex, it was a tape. One of those X-rated tapes that ministers like to bring home when their wives leave town to go to their mother’s funeral.”
Chuck sat up.
“Are you joking? All three of them?”
“Ah, you don’t believe me, Charlie. He doesn’t believe me, Alex. Look, I have a copy of the tape in my bags so anyone who wants to watch a real master in action can watch it and weep.”
“That’s not the sort of thing,” Chuck said reprovingly, “that someone as young and inexperienced as Alex down there should watch….”
“Hey Chuck, I’m not inexperienced.”
“No? How many women have you nailed, Alex?”
“Well, just one but I’ve nailed a dozen cantaloupes.”
Claude snickered.
“Now you can graduate to watermelons, right?”
“Gentlemen, this conversation is getting awfully sick. Alex, what’s this about melons?” Chuck asked while mopping his glistening face with a towel.
“Well, see, Ernie liked cantaloupes. I mean for breakfast. He ate cantaloupes and cottage cheese to try to lose weight. So I heard from a guy in bible class that if you cut a hole in a cantaloupe, you could…you know, have sex with it.”
“Isn’t that wonderful, Claude? He ought to get together with Lars. How does one have sex with a melon?”
“Well, you cut a piece out of one end, never the middle and then you…well you just stick it in and…well, you know what.”
“No, I do not know what.”
Claude laughed again.
“Chuck, you core the melon, stick your johnson in it and work away. It’s not as messy as a cut down milk carton filled with raw liver. Ever try that one, Alex?”
There was loud laughter from the end of the room.
“I guess not. So, that’s how you fuck a melon, Chuck. It’s a pretty simple concept when you think about it. I guess you had a love affair with your hand when you were fifteen but more advanced sex gods like Alex here and myself tried lots of interesting things to get off. Tell me, kid, what did you do with the ravished melon after you finished with it? Throw it away?”
“Oh no, Claude. Ernie would have slapped me all over the place. I put the piece back nice and neat and stuck the thing into the refrigerator.”
“Jesus!” Chuck erupted. “Back in the refrigerator? And I suppose someone actually ate the melon after you impregnated it?”
“Sure. Ernie and my mom said it tasted sort of salty but they ate all of it.”
Chuck began to choke with laughter.
“Claude, I’m going to throw up, I swear to God! This degenerate weasel is a genuine bad boy.”
“I don’t know, Chuck. I would have put some drain cleaner in it. That would have sure tasted salty. They would have heard old Ern two blocks away while he was dying.”
Alex got up from his bench and came down to where Claude was lying, totally forgetting that he was naked and someone might see him.
“Drain cleaner? Tell me about drain cleaner, Claude.”
“You could use Drano. I got mad at a drug dealer once and I broke into his place and cut his cocaine with Drano. It must have wiped out two dozen addicts in one night. They snort that stuff up into their sinuses and when the drain stuff gets in there, it blows their heads off. Really neat to watch. I don’t have any use for drug addicts anyway. And when the dealer got arrested, the cops swiped two kilos of the loaded stuff out of his house, sold it on the street and killed about twenty more. Three of them got blamed for being anti-drug vigilantes and two went to jail for fifteen minutes.”
Alex slapped his bare thigh and then clapped his hands together several times.
“I sure wish I’d known you before, Claude. Ernie used to snort coke all the time. Oh, I would have loved to watch his head explode!”
“I have the feeling, Alexander, that you have a very negative attitude towards your elders. Think of the mess your mom would have to clean up after Ernie’s head exploded. Claude, the heads don’t actually blow up, do they?”
He visualized skull fragments embedded in the walls.
“No, not actually blow up. The front of the head sometimes gets loose and there is a hell of a slimy mess but mostly the heads do not come right off. But the snorter is always very dead, guys, very dead.”
It had been an entertaining and instructive session in the sauna and about ten minutes later, it was mutually decided to call it a night, shower and go to bed.

(Continued)

This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Brad Smith et al.

In 2013 a group of pagans planned and arranged a festival to celebrate the summer solstice in Pahokee, Florida. It is probably little surprise that the event was not exactly welcomed by the area’s resident Talibanists, who packed a city commission meeting and demanded that the city prevent the festival from taking place because pagans, devil worshippers. We suspect many of them would be firm defenders of religious freedom but also be baffled if told that religious freedom means that people who hold religious views different from yours also have the right to have and express them.
Among the protestors were Brad Smith, a funeral director and apparently the Florida Director of Kids for Christ, who called the event “an abomination”; “I just found out about this today. I am disappointed in the city of Pahokee for allowing this group to come,” he said, under the delusion that the city has the power to deny groups that Smith doesn’t like the ability to exercise their fundamental constitutional rights. Evangelist Lillian Brown, of Saints on the Move, pointed out that “God cannot heal our land if we have witches and warlocks violating our community,” which is a fine example of fractal wrongness. At least if you ever wondered how witch burnings could go on for centuries back in the days despite the patent ridiculousness of the charges, people like Lillian Brown should give you some indication. Rev. Raul Rodriguez, of Church of God Door of Jesus Christ, just pointed out that “we don’t need this in our town. Not now. Not ever”, even though whether Raul Rodriguez needs the event or not seems to be strikingly irrelevant to the issue at hand.
Daniel Mondragon, however, warned that by hosting the event “we are opening ourselves up to things we should not, like belly dancing and magic spells;” belly dancing and magic spells are almost equally bad, and the former could potentially even take place: “We do not welcome these things. This is the first annual event, and it should be the last.” Dire warnings also from Bishop Jared Hines of New Destiny Community Church: “This event is not only detrimental to our city but to our county. What goes on at that lake will affect us all; it will move from the dike and into our homes.” Pastor Eugene Babb of Harlem Church of God, meanwhile, in an apparent attempt to top the others, asserted that “we cannot expect our city to survive and prosper if we allow these things.”
When their attempts to prevent the event from taking place by legal means failed, they resorted to their most powerful weapon: prayer. Pastor Jorge Chivara of the Hispanic Nazarene Church led the effort: “We want to begin praying about what’s taking place before the event, during the event, and after the event,” Chivara said.
Diagnosis: Yes, they are theocrats, plain and simple. It is a very telling illustration of what many fundies think religious freedom amounts to, at least. Though the delusional nitwits described here – they really give Sir Bedivere’s audience a run for their money – are local nitwits with negligible influence on civilization considered individually, their actions and responses also seem to be pretty standard fare many places in the US.

Patricia Slusher

Chronic Lyme disease is (almost certainly) a non-existent condition, but the diagnosis remains popular in woo-minded and (largely overlapping) conspiracy-minded groups. There is, accordingly, a thriving market for people who “diagnose” and “treat” chronic lyme disease, and they are often termed LLMDs, or “Lyme Literate” doctors. Some of these are spineless or deluded MDs; many are not. Patricia Slusher is not. Slusher is an “ND” – a naturopath, or not a doctor – and a “CN”, i.e. “certified nutritionist”. That certification means nothing, of course: Ben Goldacre once got his cat, which had been dead for years, registered as a certified member of the American Association of Nutritional Consultants – Slusher presumably got her certification from something called the American Health Science University, which you can read about here. She is, however, treating patients for “chronic Lyme disease”.
According to one of her patients, “[f]or the first 3 weeks my Lyme protocol consist of taking 3 supplements from Percision [sic] Herbs, LLC; LYX, Spirex and Puricell and spending 30 minutes 2X a week getting a Quad Zapper treatment.” The Quad zapper is a Hulda Clark device, no less. So, Slusher treats her patients with Hulda Clark devices and worthless supplements, as well as with homeopathy. It’s fortunate that chronic lyme is not a real disease. That, however, doesn’t clear Slusher of wrongdoing – her patients are clearly suffering, and taking their money is not likely to make things better.
Consultations with Slusher start out with “Quantum Reflex Analysis”, which is applied kinesiology with “quantum” added on (Slusher likes quantum mumbo jumbo), and an examination of the patient’s tongue, nails, and face. Then you can sign up for:
– The Zyto Biocommunication Health Evaluation, a bogus electrodermal diagnostic process using a biofeedback machine hooked up to a computer.
– Avalon Photonic Light Therapy (equally nonsensical).
– Distance Consultation and Testing: you don’t actually need to come to her office; sending a photo or handwriting sample will do.
– Saliva Hormone Testing. Yeah; no.
– “Detoxification” treatments with ionic foot baths, no less.
– Chromatherapy Light Goggles, because “God designed people to be exposed to full spectrum sunlight several hours a day”, with color pairings for various organ systems.
– Electronic acupressure
– A chi modulator.
– Meridian therapy.
Slusher, who describes herself as an energy medicine “doctor”, obtained her naturopathic “degree” from the Trinity College of Natural Health; now, accreditations by the official naturopathic college organization, the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Colleges, really shouldn’t convey any sort of authority either, but it is worth pointing out that even they don’t recognize Trinity.
Diagnosis: You probably have to be stupid or desperate to fall for any of this, but those are precisely the characteristics of the victims Slusher targets. Complete and utter bollocks.

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