Apr 19 2010

On almost every news site, we can see regular requests for money.

I have been operating this site for years without asking for anything but there are now growing, but not huge, costs involved in producing this and so it is that we have a “donate” button to help defray expenses.

No, we won’t have to sell our children to the medical experimenters if we don’t raise $200,000 by next Thursday but as the fat man said, every little bit helps.

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TBR News December 11, 2019

Dec 11 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 11, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 11: ” Greta Thunberg, now known as the Climate Goddess, addressed a joint session of the US Congress yesterday in which she convinced the law makers that they could change the global weather for the good.
Yes, thanks to Greta, Congress is going to pass laws making bad weather vanish for ever and a new age of beautiful flowers and dancing deer will descend upon us.
After President Trump decorates Greta with a Medal of Freedom (with Oakleaves and Diamonds) she is headed for Rome where she will instruct the Pope on how he can also change the weather.
Then it’s back to Sweden on her sail-controlled surfboard for more accolades from the Nobel Prize committee and a session with the King and the Royal Family of Sweden.
And now we learn that TIME magazine has made her Goddess of the Year!
Next, Greta and Sorcha Faal are rumored to be working on a book equating the arrival of Planet X with the New Weather Law and then all of us can put on night shirts and go into the woods and dance the night away with the deer.”

The Table of Contents
• Judge blocks Trump plan to spend $3.6 billion in military funds on border barrier
• Congress to Vote on $22 Billion Defense Increase One Week After Trump Slashed Food Stamps
• Climate Change: Global Sea Level
• A ‘Mini Ice Age’ Is Coming in The Next 15 Years
• How to turn blood into gold: The faking of the Anna Frank Diaries
• Murderous Manipulations
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 10, 2019

Dec 10 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 10, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 10: ” It appears that Shiite Iran, being harassed by Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Trump creatures, has been shipping Russian-made missiles to southern Iraq where they are well within the range of the Gulf’s oil refining facilities. The serious side of the Beltway is quietly concerned lest Fat Donald gets a wild hair up his ass and starts in tormenting the Iranians again. The refineries will be flattened and the price of gas in the US will be so high that no one will drive a car any more.”

The Table of Contents
• U.S. Democrats unveil impeachment charges against Trump
• U.S. Sanctions Are Driving Iran to Tighten Its Grip on Iraq
• The Numbers Game: An Analysis of Demographics in Holocaust Literature
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 9, 2019

Dec 09 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 9, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 9: ” It was in the Spring of 2001 when a young computer expert living in the Mid-West developed a lethal virus intended to do a full-bore global destruction to the international computer/internet system.
The virus is spread from computer to computer system to computer and it is so constructed that it cannot be searched out by any known computer security system. The virus remains placidly dormant until it is triggered and then after a specific lapse of time, is fully activated.
What does this virus do?
Totally obliterates the computer hard drive and expunges it of all memory.
In essence, the hard drive is flat line and cannot be reconstructed.
What sort of a trigger would activate this?
Perhaps a first, middle and last name coupled with a fake social security number.
The probability of this trigger accidentally emerging would be a mathematical impossibility.
Let us say that this was triggered on the computer system of a major bank.
When the activating time arrived, everything on the bank computer would be gone. No one could access the ATM machine, cash checks, or otherwise have access to the bank’s services.
There would be mass panic and the bank’s computer people would install backup systems.
After a frenzied flurry, all would return to normal, that is until the activated triggers would work again.
Official records, social security, food stamps, passport data, criminal rap sheets, and dozens and dozens more of vital services would, in essence, be gone with the wind.
And since this project has been silently contaminating the global systems since 2001, the length and depth of the infections would be immense and all-inclusive.
Of course the Russians would be blamed but the computers would be as dead as a squashed cockroach and the entire societal global informational and business structures would gasp, gurgle and die.
People could not buy food, electrical systems would fail and soon, the woodlands of America, and the world, would be filled with frantic citizens digging caves in the soil, or places to bury their surviving family members.
The motto?
Never put all your eggs in one basket.”

The Table of Contents
• Trump is the natural consequence of our anti-democracy decade
• The War on Immigrants
• Trump and the Numbers Game
• The Bastion of Trump supporters
• The Empire in Collapse
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 8, 2019

Dec 07 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 8, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 8: ”Because he feels that Europen leaders have mocked him, Trump is furious and is planning a revenge against them. He especially hates Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau so he is planning to sanction Canadian wood pulp.
The Canadian forest industry as a whole (both pulp and paper and lumber) employs directly and indirectly nearly 600,000 workers and contributes roughly two per cent, or over $20 billion, to Canada’s annual GDP. Canada remains the world’s largest producer of newsprint.
By blocking Canadian paper from the United States, Trump will also impact the print media in the United States whom he believes are plotting to humiliate and destroy him. Workers whose offices are near Trump, are telling us that he has been shouting and kicking furniture in his office over what he feels is ‘Deep State’ evil directed at him.”

The Table of Contents
• Trump’s food stamp cuts are cruel politics and bad economics
• After disrupter Trump’s early departure at NATO summit, diplomats rally
• If Tehran is pushed too far, it may hit out in ways that are disastrous
• Hezbollah
• Origins of the Pearl Harbor Attack: Planned in Moscow
• Russian Intelligence Organizations
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 7, 2019

Dec 06 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 7, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 7: “Because Trump was so enraged at what he perceived as snide mockery of him in England, the orders have gone out to the American media not to mention the incident nor comment on it in any way.
Scanning the media today, I can see that the matter has been quietly dropped. The senior staff at the White House is afraid that either Trump will go ballistic on camera and say dangerously stupid things or have another heart attack, hence the requested media silence.
The staff will find something else, less provocative, for him to worry, and rant, about.
Instead of Secret Service guards protecting Trump, it would be more to the point to have a platoon of psychologists and ward attendants controlling him.
And here is a song being sung, away from White House ears for sure, about Trump. I give the first verse. Other ones are very disrespectful….
(This is to the tune of the “Camptown Races’)
‘Republican Senators sing this song, doo-dah, doo-dah,
Donald Trump is never wrong, all the doo-dah day.
Going to lie all night, going to lie all day…
He takes drug money from the Russian mob
And that’s all we have to say’

The Table of Contents
• FBI warns that smart TVs may be spying on users
• U.S. Supreme Court rejects Trump bid to resume federal executions
• American official mass surveillance of the public
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 6, 2019

Dec 06 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 6, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 6: “Trump is back in the United States, howling with rage at having been laughed at during a ceremony at Buckinghm Palace during the NATO conference.
If one remembers the past, when a fake report reached him that Syria was using chemical weapons, he ordered a US Navy ship to bombard the country with missiles.
This is an act of war and a completely illegal act on the part of Trump.
Now, it is being said he wants to attack someone because he was made a fool of. Someone should tell Chubby that no one at the NATO conference made a fool of him.
God beat them to it long ago.
And it is common knowledge here inside the Beltway that the military will never again launch an attack against a country we are not at war with.
Trump might order an attack on. Let us say, Turkey, but the Pentagon would toss his order in the shredder and laugh even louder than the top people at the NATO conference.
A General I know said Trump ought to wear a clown suit when he goes out in public.

The Table of Contents
What’s it like to stand stark naked on the world stage? Ask Donald Trump
• PLAYGROUND POLITICS: Trump Stomps Home From NATO Meeting After ‘Two-Faced’ Trudeau Was Mean to Him
• Video shows world leaders laughing and gossiping about Trump
• Russian and American Swindles: U.S. taxpayers and Oil companies lose billions
• Trump’s Russian deals
• The Keys Are Not Going To Save Everybody’: Officials Could Let Roads, Homes Be Swallowed Up By Rising Sea
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 5, 2019

Dec 05 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 5, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 5: “I am constantly genuinely appalled at the sociological failures of the so-called ‘Milleneals.’
They dress like Arkansas farmers, carry all kinds of electronic toys in their pockets so they can keep in touch with other failures in, as you say, an attempt to appear somehow important.
The truly awful educational level of these “university graduates” is almost a farce when witnessed close-up.
Oh, and to constant, illiterate text messaging, one can add vaping to the heap of decaying leaves.
These cunning, sociologically forward-moving devices cause serious lung disorders but neither the manufacturers (large tobacco companies) nor the dim-bulbs who use them seem to care.
The public parks are filling up with Millennials who cannot afford the rapidly escalating rents and soon, we will see shuffling armies of them moving from town to town in the United States looking for new dumpsters to feed from, fast-food restaurants looking for lavatory cleaners and, as the north American climate worsens in winter, safe logs under which to install their tattered and stained sleeping bags.
There are, official concocted numbers aside, over 96 million (!) unemployed in America today.
The White House is occupied by a mental case with the intellect of a chicken and everywhere, rampant decay is growing daily.”

The Table of Contents

• Trump cuts short Nato summit after fellow leaders’ hot-mic video
• Nearly 700,000 Americans to lose food stamps under new Trump policy
• FactChecking Trump’s NATO Remarks
• 10 of the Biggest Threats to Human Existence
• Scientists Predict New Ice Age By 2019 As Sun ‘Goes Blank’
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 4, 2019

Dec 04 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 4, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 4: “King Donald is now in England and the Brits are frightened lest he run his mouth and screw up their elections.
You can’t tell Trump to dummy up because he takes offense and deliberately does what he is asked not to.
He is viewed in Europe, and Asia, as a loud-mouthed nut.
Everyone is careful not to upset him lest he sanction their dogs or pipe tobacco and when he leaves their country, there is general relief and mocking satire in private.
If Trump knew what various foreign leaders thought, and privately said, about him, he would have a stroke and sanity would return to the American domestic, and foreign, political and economic scenes.”

The Table of Contents
• Trump blasts censure idea as House panel readies impeachment report vote
• Californians are turning to vending machines for safer water. Are they being swindled?
• House Democrats’ impeachment report accuses Trump of abusing power
• Think fake news isn’t a real problem? Look at Senator John Kennedy
• The Parentage of Al-Quaeda
• In Hong Kong, It’s US vs. China Now
• Germans in favor of ‘reducing reliance’ on US
• Andreas and Bernhard: Successful Counterfeiting and Economic Warfare
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 3, 2019

Dec 02 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 3, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 3: During the time of the Soviet Union, many European countries housed their gold in the United States.
Now that the Soviet menace has gone, many of the depositing countries have tried to get their gold returned.
This is not possible because most of it was sold to the Chinese by the Obama administration for business credits so the small amounts of, let us say, German or French gold have been returned but calls for the balances are quietly ignored.
Like the mortgage swindles that have deprived millions of Americans the clear title to their homes and businesses, this issue is not discussed in the American media nor will it ever be resolved.
The attitudes of Congress and American officialdom on such issues is “Not on My Watch, Dear” and in other words, they will be long gone by the time these buried menaces erupt. No doubt many will have moved to Aruba to join the perennial search for bits and pieces of Natalee Holloway.”

The Table of Contents
• China suspends U.S. military visits to Hong Kong, sanctions U.S.-based NGOs
• Nord Stream 2: Go-ahead for Russian gas pipeline angers Ukraine
• Russia, China launch gas pipeline ‘Power of Siberia’
• Trump will not participate in impeachment hearing, White House says
• A recipe for partisan stalemate
• Trump, Lying, Insists Rudy Giuliani Acted Alone on Ukraine
• U.S. court denies Trump administration bid to resume federal executions
• US-Ukranian Military Cooperation
• A ‘Mini Ice Age’ Is Coming in The Next 15 Years
• The Essenes, Jesus and the Homosexual issue
• Urban Myths and Legends
• The Season of Evil Continue Reading »

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TBR News December 2, 2019

Dec 01 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. December 2, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for December 2: “At the beginning of his reign, it was suggested that perhaps President Trump ‘exaggerated’ somewhat in his speeches. As time progressed, it became more or more evident that Trump made up more and more stories in his tweets and speeches.
Finally, the main-line media began to watch him more closely and now one can find many pages of lies, past and present displayed to an increasingly unhappy public..
If twenty people showed up at a Trump speech, he will claim that tens of thousands of cheering supporters filled the hall.
He constantly proclaims that his ideas are gratefully received by world leaders who, as all know, worship him as God’s Select President.
His erratic and provocative actions have foreign leaders convinced he is a lunatic and, as much as possible, to be ignored.
If they dare to question him, Trump will sanction their grandmothers and call them misspelled names in his illiterate tweetings.
No one outside the country pays any attention to Trump’s mindless bellowings but the really negative problem is that their contempt and aversion spills over to include everyone else in the United States.
Someone has written that much of Trump’s negativity stems from unpleasant incidents in his childhood.
The most significant one is that when his mother put him into the sandbox to play, all the neighbor’s cats flocked to the area and tried to cover him up.”

The Table of Contents
• Faith, but fury too, for Donald Trump at home
• President Trump made 53 false claims last week, including 29 in a speech to New York business leaders
• Legal storm clouds gather over Rudy Giuliani, America’s tarnished mayor
• The Season of Evil

Faith, but fury too, for Donald Trump at home
The US president arrives this week from a split nation amid signs of a Democratic revival
December 1. 2019
by Michael Goldfarb
The Guardian
Reality. We all used to know what it meant. The world as it is. Objective facts that provide the foundation for rational – not emotional – judgments and actions.
But the old definition of reality has taken a serious beating during the nearly three years Donald Trump, the reality-show president, has been in office. Partly because Trump himself seems to live in a reality separate from the one most of us inhabit. Partly because too many people still can’t accept the objective facts of his presidency.
This reality car crash will be on full display on Wednesday when Trump attends the Nato heads of government meeting in Watford, while in Washington the House judiciary committee takes over hearings from the intelligence committee, the next step towards his inevitable impeachment. Pictures of pomp and ceremony and outrageous Trump behaviour will be juxtaposed with testimony about his high crimes and misdemeanours.
Trump’s presidency has revealed the reality of what America has been for some time: a hopelessly divided nation whose institutional structures are rotten. The economy is riddled with corruption. Education is in a wretched state.
The Washington press corps has proved itself incapable of reporting the Trumpian reality. Reporters too often indulge in clickbait speculation about his mental and physical health. They report as fact gossip about who is about to quit the administration and blow the whistle on him. So far none of the generals and other high-ups humiliated and forced out of his cabinet or as chief of staff have done so. Washington journalists continue to feed a commercial model of journalism where it is understood that reporting objective facts doesn’t pay the bills. Speculation and rumour leading to online traffic do.
And, of course, Trump supporters don’t interact with the mainstream press; they live inside the Fox News filtered facts zone, a separate reality.
In politics, Trump’s Republicans have become a dangerous faction as defined by James Madison in the Federalist Papers. They are a single-minded group whose actions are “adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community”.
But that didn’t happen after Trump was elected. It was a process that has steadily unfolded over the last quarter of a century. In the last seven presidential elections the GOP has won the popular vote just once. Yet the Republican faction acts as if America is essentially a one-party – their party – state.
Republicans have relentlessly refused to work at the most basic bipartisan level with Democrats. They have deliberately tried to wreck Democratic presidencies, culminating in Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to give a hearing to Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
Although the GOP’s elites resisted Trump initially, it should be no surprise that they have come around to backing him blindly. He delivers for them and for their base.
The reality of the Trump voter has been plain to see since the latter stage of the 2016 campaign. I was in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, right after the bizarre debate performance where he stalked Hillary Clinton round the stage like a psychopath. What I learned in there confirmed what I had found out in Ohio several months earlier – his supporters were unswayable. They were loyal to the man. Nothing would make them change their minds.
And he has been loyal to his supporters. Although Trump lies like no other president in history, he has been surprisingly true to his promises to the unswayables.
He promised to appoint “conservative” justices to the Supreme Court and delivered two. He made good on his promise of a massive tax cut, even if the biggest beneficiaries were the very rich.
He promised to build a wall with Mexico, and even though he’s had no success in doing so Trump keeps trying to get it built. In the meantime, he is severely punishing those unfortunates who have tried to cross into the US, especially children. That works for his supporters. They no longer care about his promise to make Mexico pay for the barrier. The main thing is to keep the foreigners out by whatever means necesssary.
Trump promised to put “America First”, a slogan whose origins are in the 1930s isolationist movement. And he has pursued an independent, isolationist foreign policy, heedless of international relationships.
The way he’s done it has been unpresidential, but the US has been headed towards isolationism since the failure of the Iraq war followed by the 2008 crash. In 2016, candidate Trump told the New York Times his views on America’s role in global security. Asked if he would remove troops from Japan and South Korea, he said: “I would. I would not do so happily, but I would be willing to do it … We cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars on all of this. We just can’t do it any more.” Asked about Nato, he said, “Nato is obsolete …” and complained about how much the US paid to keep the organisation going.
Around the same time, President Barack Obama told the Atlantic magazine. “I suppose you could call me a realist in believing we can’t, at any given moment, relieve all the world’s misery.”
When Obama walked away from his own red line in Syria and refused to strike the Bashar al-Assad regime after the Syrian dictator dropped chemical weapons on his own people, was it that different from Trump walking away from Kurdish allies in northern Syria? Each was taking a step towards redefining the extent of American leadership in the west’s security architecture.
Of course, Trump and his supporters would bristle at the idea that he was just following in Obama’s footsteps. Much of the time Trump seems to be a living paraphrase of Karl Rove’s statement: “We’re an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality.”
But there are important facts too easily forgotten in the panic caused by the Trump reality distortion field. His base is unswayable, but it is far from the majority. Trump supporters represent at most 26% of America’s eligible voters. He lost to Hillary Clinton – an unpopular candidate – by 3 million votes.
Trump has had a galvanising effect on the Democratic grassroots. A year ago, during the midterm elections, I spent a Saturday morning in suburban Atlanta with a bunch of Democratic party volunteers who were canvassing the neighbourhood. They were overwhelmingly women who had no prior political experience. Many had gone on the Million Women March the day after the Trump inauguration.
All over the US, people like them helped the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives. In Georgia, Lucy McBath, a woman of colour, ran as an anti-gun candidate in Newt Gingrich’s old district and won. Stacey Abrams, another black woman, came within a whisker – and a bunch of suppressed ballots – of winning the governorship of that state. The trend continued into 2019’s off-year election. Democrats took over the legislature in Virginia. They kept hold of the governorship in Lousiana. The Democrats’ surge in the old Confederacy included taking the governorship of Kentucky – despite the Republican tying himself tightly to Trump.
In the separate reality Trump and his supporters inhabit these results may not mean much; in the reality you and I inhabit that is a positive indicator for the 2020 election.
Michael Goldfarb is the host of the First Rough Draft of History podcast. www.goldfarbpod.com

President Trump made 53 false claims last week, including 29 in a speech to New York business leaders
November 22, 2019
by Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam,
CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump made a conventional kind of presidential appearance last week, delivering a speech about the economy to a gathering of New York City corporate elites.
He then made 29 false claims in 71 minutes.
It isn’t only rally speeches in which Trump is relentlessly dishonest. His address to the Economic Club of New York was littered with inaccurate economic statistics, baseless claims about environmental policy, and one of his signature fictional tales about people crying in gratitude at one of his events.
Trump made 53 false claims in all last week. That was below his average of 66 false claims per week for the 19 weeks we have tracked at CNN. Through Sunday, Trump had made 1,255 total false claims since we started counting on July 8.President Trump made 53 false claims last week, including 29 in a speech to New York business leaders
The economy was the top subject of Trump’s dishonesty last week, with 15 false claims — the first time in seven weeks that neither his Ukraine scandal or Democrats’ related impeachment inquiry topped the list.
The impeachment inquiry came second last week, with 13 false claims.
The most egregious false claim: Schiff’s non-doctoring
Trump predicted on November 2 and again on November 3 that Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff would fraudulently alter any transcripts the House Intelligence Committee, which Schiff chairs, might release of closed-door impeachment inquiry testimony.
The committee then began releasing transcripts. None of the Republican members of the committee, and none of the witness who testified, alleged that any of these transcripts had been doctored in any way.
Trump was, naturally, undeterred. He tweeted November 11 that “Schiff will only release doctored transcripts.”
Before the transcripts were released, this was merely a highly dubious prediction. After the transcripts were released, it was an inaccurate smear.
The most revealing false claim: An assumption on health care
Trump held a Friday event at the White House to herald two new rules to increase transparency in health care pricing.
“First,” he said, “we are finalizing a rule that will compel hospitals to publish prices publicly online for everyone to see and to compare. So you’re able to go online and compare all of the hospitals and the doctors and the prices, and, I assume, get resumes on doctors and see who you like.”
The first part, his scripted line about hospitals publishing price information, was correct. The last part, his apparent ad-lib about people being able to see “resumes on doctors,” was baseless. Neither of the two new rules contains any provision about resumes.
Most presidents would not depart from the vetted text of a policy speech to tell Americans something they merely “assume.” But Trump isn’t like most presidents.
The most absurd false claim: Marie Yovanovitch and Somalia
Trump could have ignored the testimony of the former ambassador to Ukraine, or noted that she did not have personal knowledge about many of the allegations against him, or highlighted her acknowledgment that the President has the right to remove ambassadors for any reason.
Instead, he suggested on Twitter that Marie Yovanovitch was … responsible for ruining Somalia.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he wrote. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”
Yovanovitch has won awards for her performance as a diplomat, but that’s a little beside the point. She very clearly did not cause Somalia’s social and economic problems by showing up there as a junior foreign service officer in the 1980s.
And since Trump said “everywhere,” we should note that Canada is among the countries where Yovanovitch has served.
Editor’s note:
Below is the full list of 53 false claims from last week, starting with the ones we haven’t included in a weekly update before:
The Ukraine scandal and impeachment
The whistleblower and “fraud”
“The lawyer for the Whistleblower takes away all credibility from this big Impeachment Scam! It should be ended and the Whistleblower, his lawyer and Corrupt politician Schiff should be investigated for fraud!” — November 11 tweet
Facts First: This is nonsense. The whistleblower’s complaint has been largely corroborated. Nothing the whistleblowers’ lawyers have done in connection with the impeachment saga remotely resembles “fraud”; Trump has complained of anti-Trump tweets from lawyer Mark Zaid, but prior opposition to Trump does not make it fraudulent to represent a client who has filed a complaint about Trump’s actions.
We’ve written before that Trump has reasonable grounds to complain about confusing comments Rep. Adam Schiff made at a committee hearing in September; Schiff did exaggerate what Trump said on his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the rough transcript released by the White House. But political exaggeration is not “fraud,” and as Trump has acknowledged, the Constitution gives members of Congress immunity from prosecution for statements made at official meetings.

Ratcliffe’s question
“.@RepRatcliffe asked the two ‘star’ witnesses, ‘where is the impeachable event in that call?’ Both stared straight ahead with a blank look on their face, remained silent, & were unable to answer the question.” — November 14 tweet
Facts First: That is not exactly what happened. Trump omitted a second question Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe asked these two witnesses, Bill Taylor and George Kent. And Taylor did speak up after a brief silence.
Ratcliffe asked, “So, in this impeachment hearing today, where we impeach presidents for treason or bribery or other high crimes, where is the impeachable offense in that call? Are either of you here today to assert there was an impeachable offense in that call? Shout it out. Anyone?”
Both Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, stayed silent for about three seconds after the “anyone?” But then Taylor said, “Mr. Ratcliffe, if I could just respond. Let me just reiterate that I’m not…”
Ratcliffe interrupted, saying he only had a minute left for his questioning. When the committee chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, reminded Ratcliffe that he had asked a question the witness was trying to answer, Ratcliffe said, “I’ll withdraw the question.”
But Taylor answered anyway, returning to what he had said in his opening statement: that he was appearing at the hearing to provide facts, not to advocate impeaching or not impeaching Trump.
“I’m not here to take one side or the other. That’s your decision,” he said. He continued moments later that Kent was also not present to “decide about impeachment.”

Schiff and hearing transcripts
“Shifty Adam Schiff will only release doctored transcripts.” — November 11 tweet
“Just like Schiff fabricated my phone call, he will fabricate the transcripts that he is making and releasing!” — November 11 tweet
Facts First: Schiff had already released multiple transcripts of testimony from closed-door impeachment inquiry hearings, and there was no sign that any of them had been “doctored.”
Witnesses and their lawyers were given the opportunity to verify the accuracy of the transcripts prior to release, and Republicans who attended the testimony did not allege that any transcripts had been improperly altered.

Schiff and lawyers
“Schiff is giving Republicans NO WITNESSES, NO LAWYER & NO DUE PROCESS!” — November 11 tweet
Facts First: Trump was correct when he had complained four days prior that Schiff was not allowing Trump to have his own lawyer participate in impeachment inquiry hearings. But Trump was wrong this time when he claimed that Republicans more broadly were not permitted to have a lawyer.
As everyone who watched the subsequent public hearings saw, Republicans were permitted to have witnesses questioned by their House Intelligence Committee counsel, Steve Castor. Democrats were allowed to have witnesses questioned by their own committee counsel, Daniel Goldman.

Impeachment and gun violence
Asked what he can say to reassure Americans worried about gun violence in schools and retail establishments, Trump said Democrats are “not doing anything.” He continued, “They’re not doing the USMCA, which is the big trade deal between Mexico, Canada, and the United States. They’re not doing anything. All they do is the impeachment nonsense, and everyone knows it’s nonsense, and it’s even polling like it’s nonsense, and they got blown away yesterday — and that’s all they think about. It’s so bad for our country. So when we talk about having meetings on gun violence, or anything else, they’re not there. They — they are doing nothing.” — November 14 interview with NBC 10 in Louisiana
Facts First: Trump is entitled to criticize Democrats’ proposals to address gun violence, but he is wrong when he claims Democrats are doing “nothing” on the subject. The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill in February to require background checks on all gun sales; the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to hold a vote on the bill.
On the same day Trump spoke here, the day of the Saugus High School shooting, a Republican senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, blocked a Democratic effort to pass the bill quickly and unanimously.

Marie Yovanovitch’s career
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” — November 15 tweet
Facts First: There is no basis for Trump’s suggestion that Somalia “turned bad” because Yovanovitch arrived in the country as a new foreign service officer in the mid-to-late 1980s (the exact date is not publicly known). Somalia had severe economic and social problems prior to Yovanovitch’s arrival.
Yovanovitch, now best known as the former US ambassador to Ukraine, has won multiple performance awards for her work as a diplomat. Asked about Trump’s allegation during her impeachment inquiry testimony on Friday, Yovanovitch said, “I don’t think I have such powers — not in Mogadishu, Somalia, and not in other places. I actually think that where I’ve served over the years I and others have demonstrably made things better, you know, for the US, as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”
Since Trump said “everywhere” Yovanovitch served “went bad,” it is worth noting that Yovanovitch also served at the US embassy in Canada, where she was born, in the 1990s.

The impeachment hearings
Trump: “I’ve been watching today. For the first time, I started watching, and it’s really sad when you see people not allowed to ask questions.” Reporter: “Republicans have been asking questions all day.” (Trump said moments later: “And I watched today, as certain very talented people wanted to ask questions, and they weren’t even allowed to ask questions — Republicans. They weren’t allowed to ask questions. It’s a very sad thing.”) — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices
Facts First: As a reporter told Trump directly, Republicans were allowed to ask questions of witnesses during the impeachment inquiry hearing that day, which featured testimony from former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Trump might well have been referring to a moment in which the Democratic chairman of the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, denied an attempt by the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, to hand some of his questioning time to another Republican committee member, Rep. Elise Stefanik. Schiff denied the request on the grounds that the rules of the hearing prohibited Stefanik from speaking at that moment.
Contrary to Nunes’ claim, Stefanik was not gagged. She got her speaking time later in the day, during the round of five-minute segments allocated to members of the committee other than Schiff and Nunes.

Environment and energy
Waters of the United States
“We ended the ridiculous Waters of the United States rule. What a beautiful name. The name was beautiful. The act was a disaster…These laws were horrible. They took away everything. You would have a puddle in your land, and they would call it — you were under river control, you were under lake control, for what is called a ‘puddle.’ You couldn’t get anywhere near it. And if you did, you’d literally be arrested.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Puddles were not covered by the Obama-era Waters of the United States environmental regulation; the rule explicitly says puddles do not qualify as one of the waters in question.
A preamble to the rule explained: “The final rule adds an exclusion for puddles. The proposed rule did not explicitly exclude puddles because the agencies have never considered puddles to meet the minimum standard for being a ‘water of the United States,’ and it is an inexact term…However, numerous commenters asked that the agencies expressly exclude them in a rule. The final rule does so.”

Democrats and energy
“You want to see energy shut down? Take a look at what I’m competing against on the other side. I don’t think they even believe in energy. So far, I haven’t found any form of energy that’s acceptable to them. I think they think the factories are just going to work without energy, don’t they? They don’t have a clue, these people.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump was clearly exaggerating. Many Democrats are pushing for a transition to renewable forms of energy, like solar, wind and geothermal. They do not reject “any form of energy.”
Trump may have meant the word “energy” to mean energy from fossil fuels in particular, but that’s not what he said.

The Paris climate accord
“We withdrew from the one-sided, horrible, horrible, economically unfair, ‘close your businesses down within three years,’ ‘don’t frack, don’t drill, we don’t want any energy’ — the horrible Paris Climate Accord…” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: The Paris accord would not have required American businesses to shut down within three years.
The accord allows countries to set their own targets for reducing their carbon emissions. It does not mandate countries to rapidly shutter businesses.
It also does not mandate countries to stop extracting fossil fuels through hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) or traditional drilling, though it encouraged them to move toward renewable energy sources.

The Paris climate accord and China
“You’re talking about trillions and trillions of dollars of destruction would have been done to our country with the Paris Climate Accord. And it is so unfair. It doesn’t kick in for China until 2030.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump wrongly described how the Paris accord works. The accord did not give China more time than the US before it “kicks in”; it came into effect for all participating countries in November 2016. The accord simply allowed each nation to set its own targets for reducing carbon emissions. China picked 2030 as the year by which it planned to meet its primary targets, while the US picked 2025.
One of China’s targets was to hit peak emissions “around 2030.” Another target was to get 20% of its energy from sources other than fossil fuels by 2030. That did not mean the accord somehow wouldn’t “kick in” for China until 2030; 2030 was its (self-selected) deadline, not a start date. Since the accord came into effect, China has announced significant new policies to curb its emissions.
The Obama administration set a target of reducing US emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. That, similarly, did not mean that the accord would have only kicked in for the US in 2025. (Trump has begun the process of formally withdrawing the US from the accord.)

Net energy imports
“Net energy imports — this is so great — set a historic low; it’s a 58-year low, but that’s only because they only go back 58 years, meaning, I assume if it’s low now, it’s lower than it used to be, unless something happened that’s very strange back then. But it’s at a historic low.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump was off slightly in two ways.
The government’s Energy Information Administration reported in May that, in 2018, net energy imports were at their “lowest levels since 1964” — a 54-year low, not a 58-year low. (The Energy Information Administration told CNN this week that the 2018 data have since been revised, so the figure is actually the lowest since 1963, or 55 years prior.) And the Energy Information Administration confirmed to CNN that it has data on net energy imports dating back to 1949 — 69 years back from 2018, not 58 years.

Health care
New health transparency rules
“First, we are finalizing a rule that will compel hospitals to publish prices publicly online for everyone to see and to compare. So you’re able to go online and compare all of the hospitals and the doctors and the prices, and, I assume, get resumes on doctors and see who you like.” — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices
Facts First: Trump’s assumption was wrong. As the Washington Post noted, neither of the new rules he was announcing on transparency in health care pricing contained any provision about hospitals publishing doctors’ resumes online. (The American Hospital Association confirmed to CNN that it has seen no such provision.)

When the new rules take effect
“And I think you’re going to see things. It’s kicking in immediately. It’ll kick in as of today, but it’s going to really start going during the course of the year, the following year — this year coming.” — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices
Facts First: Neither of Trump’s new rules about transparency in health care pricing kicks in “immediately” or “as of today.” One of them, a final rule requiring more price disclosure from hospitals, is scheduled to take effect in January 2021. The second rule, which seeks to compel health insurers to provide consumers with more information on out-of-pocket costs, is merely a proposed rule — the administration is in the process of soliciting public comments on the proposal — and the administration is proposing to bring many of its provisions into effect at least a year after the rule is eventually finalized.
Trade and the economy

Nancy Pelosi and the USMCA
“For one thing she doesn’t work, she doesn’t do anything. She can’t even get the USMCA bill passed. OK. And every Democrat wants it — the Democrats, the Republicans, it’s on her desk for three months. And she hasn’t done anything on it.” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
Facts First: No such “bill” has been on Pelosi’s desk for three months. Though the Trump administration has pushed Pelosi to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, it has not sent her any legislation to implement the trade deal. In fact, the President’s trade team has been negotiating with her to address the concerns of Democrats, rather than immediately sending her a bill to which some of her party’s caucus had significant objections.
Pelosi suggested last week that an agreement between House Democrats and the administration was “imminent.” She has repeatedly said that Democrats want to “get to yes” on the USMCA.
Democrats’ level of support for the final version of the USMCA is still to be determined. Many Democrats criticized the original version of the deal, saying changes were needed on issues related to labor, the environment and pharmaceuticals.

The decline in poverty
“Nearly 2.5 million Americans have risen out of poverty. That’s a record.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: It is not a “record” for 2.5 million people to rise out of poverty over approximately three years.
Trump did not make clear where he was starting the clock to get this 2.5 million figure — he sometimes cites figures from the month or year of his election, sometimes from the month of his inauguration — but according to the Census Bureau, there was indeed a 2.5 million decline in the number of people in poverty between 2016 (40.6 million people) and 2018 (38.1 million people), the last year for which there is official Census Bureau data.
There have been larger declines in the number of people in poverty over previous periods of the same length. For example, there were 35.6 million people in poverty in 1997 and 32.3 million people in poverty in 1999, a decline of 3.3 million.
Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of public affairs and economics who directed the university’s Institute for Research on Poverty from 2008 to 2014, said that the 2.5 million figure “is not a record given that we have had much bigger drops in poverty in the past.”

A prediction about the unemployment rate
“In 2016, the Department of Labor predicted that Americans would continue dropping out of the workforce in record numbers…and they expected unemployment over 5 percent — and, really, 6, 7, and even, in some cases, 8 percent — for many years to come.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: We could not find any such Department of Labor predictions in 2016 about the unemployment rate. (FactCheck.org couldn’t either.) Michael Wolf, division chief for occupational employment projections at the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, told CNN that “BLS did not publish any projections in 2016.”
Wolf noted that BLS did publish projections in late 2015, for the period from 2014 to 2024, that assumed that a 5.2% unemployment rate in 2024 would constitute a full employment economy. But Wolf emphasized that this 5.2% figure was not a prediction of what the actual unemployment rate would be in the future; it was a research-based assumption about what unemployment rate would represent full employment. (The bureau’s analysis in its 10-year employment projections is always predicated on an assumption of full employment, a term the bureau explains here.)
Even if Trump and his team wrongly thought that 5.2% was a prediction of the future rate rather than merely a basis for the bureau’s analysis: the Department of Labor did not make anything resembling a prediction of a 6%, 7% or 8% unemployment rate.
And FactCheck.org noted: “The Congressional Budget Office projected in August 2016 that unemployment would fall to 4.5% in 2017, and wouldn’t exceed 5% for the following decade. That was in line with most economic forecasts. The median projection issued Dec. 14, 2016, by Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents was for a 4.5% unemployment rate in 2017, 2018 and 2019.”
Income growth
Trump made three similar claims about growth in median household income gains during his presidency, comparing these gains to gains under predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Trump claimed that, in addition to the “$5,000” income gain during his own tenure, people should add “$2,000 to $3,000 for regulatory and energy cuts,” or “$3,000 for regulation,” or “$2,000” for “the regulation benefit.”
Facts First: There is no basis for Trump adding — over and above the “$5,000” income growth he is asserting — another $2,000 or $3,000 to account for the impact of regulatory changes or for supposed energy savings.
The $5,000 figure Trump is citing came from a company called Sentier Research, not the Census Bureau. Sentier is run by former Census Bureau officials, so its data should not be dismissed out of hand, but it’s important to note that the Census Bureau, which uses a different methodology than Sentier, has found a smaller Trump-era increase in median household income.
We won’t get into the debate about whether the Sentier numbers or the Census numbers are better. What we can say for sure is that it does not make sense to add $2,000 or $3,000 for the supposed impact of Trump’s loosening of regulations, or for supposed energy savings, on top of Sentier’s $5,000.
Trump has not provided a source for these additions. (Sentier confirmed they did not come from the firm.) Regardless: Sentier’s income numbers are for pre-tax household income. Those numbers would include any income benefits from Trump loosening red tape on businesses. In essence, Trump is trying to double-count the impact of his regulatory reductions.
In addition, it is entirely unclear what Trump is referring to when he talks about “energy savings.” Household energy costs have increased since Trump took office, as have gasoline costs. (Gasoline costs are lower than they were for most of Obama’s presidency, but higher than they were in 2016.)
Here are the claims Trump made last week that we have previously fact checked in one of these weekly roundups:

The Ukraine scandal and impeachment
Gordon Sondland and “quid pro quo”
Question: “Do you recall having a conversation with Sondland (inaudible)?” Trump: “I don’t recall. No, not at all. Not even a little bit. The only thing — and I guess Sondland has stayed with testimony that there was no quid pro quo. Pure and simple.” — November 13 press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Facts First: Additional testimony Sondland submitted in writing in early November effectively conceded that he believed there was indeed a quid pro quo; Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, has not “stayed with” testimony that there was “no quid pro quo,” though he continued to say in the written testimony that he did not know when, why or by whom the aid was suspended.

A non-quote from Nancy Pelosi
“But when I released the call, all hell broke loose on the Democrat side, including the fact that I’ve heard that Nancy Pelosi blasted them. She said, ‘You can’t impeach a man on this call!'” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
Facts First: While we can’t be sure what Pelosi might have said in private, there is no public evidence Pelosi has said any such thing, or that she was underwhelmed by the rough transcript released by the White House.
Pelosi’s official statement on Trump’s call was scathing; she said: “The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now is exporting it abroad. I respect the responsibility of the President to engage with foreign leaders as part of his job. It is not part of his job to use taxpayer money to shake down other countries for the benefit of his campaign.”

The timing of Adam Schiff’s comments
“They never thought, Dan, that I was going to release that call. And I really had no choice, because Adam Schiff made up a call.” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
Facts First: Schiff made his comments about Trump’s call with Zelensky the day after Trump released the rough transcript, not before. (Before he started claiming that Schiff did not expect a transcript to be released, Trump had complained that Schiff did not read the transcript available to him.)

European aid to Ukraine
“Ukraine has a tremendous reputation for corruption. And I also wanted to know why isn’t Germany and why isn’t France and UK and all of these European countries — why aren’t they giving? Why is it always the United States that’s giving?” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
“Republicans & others must remember, the Ukrainian President and Foreign Minister both said that there was no pressure placed on them whatsoever. Also, they didn’t even know the money wasn’t paid, and got the money with no conditions. But why isn’t Germany, France (Europe) paying?” — November 17 tweet
Facts First: European countries have provided hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in 2014.
Zelensky acknowledged European “help” during his meeting with Trump at the United Nations in September, though he said the world’s efforts had been inadequate so far: “And, I’m sorry, but we don’t need help; we need support. Real support. And we thank — thank everybody, thank all of the European countries; they each help us. But we also want to have more — more.”

Biden and “corrupt” acts
In a series of tweets on November 12, Trump accused Joe Biden of corruption in pushing for the firing of Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin.
Facts First: There is no evidence that Biden acted corruptly in his dealings with Ukraine. You can read a full fact check of this series of tweets here.
The accuracy of the whistleblower
“I want to find out who is the whistleblower because the whistleblower gave a lot of very incorrect information, including my call with the President of Ukraine, which was a perfect call and highly appropriate. And he wrote something that was much different than the fact.” — November 13 press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
“So the whistleblower gave a fake or fraudulent — I’m not sure what you’d call it — gave a fraudulent report, a fake report, and based on that report, they started this whole nonsense.” And: “…the whistleblower also made up something that bore no relationship to the real call.” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
Facts First: The whistleblower’s account of the call has largely been proven accurate. In fact, the rough transcript released by Trump himself showed that the whistleblower’s three primary allegations about the call were correct or very close to correct.
Environment and energy

Air pollution
“But to me, it’s clean air and crystal-clean, clear water. And we have now the cleanest air we’ve ever had in our country, meaning over the last 40 years.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: By several measures, US air was cleaner under Obama than it has been under Trump. Three of the six types of pollutants identified by the Clean Air Act as toxic to human health were more prevalent in the air as of 2018 than they were before Trump took office, according to Environmental Protection Agency data.
Additionally, there were more “unhealthy air days” for sensitive groups in 2018 than in 2016 — 799 days across the 35 American cities surveyed by the EPA, up from 702. Though there were significantly more “unhealthy air days” in Obama’s first term than there have been in Trump’s, the lowest amount of unhealthy air days — 598 — occurred in 2014 under Obama.

Louisiana auto insurance
“Good morning Louisiana! Polls are open at 7AM. Get out and VOTE for @EddieRispone to be your next Gov! He will get your taxes and auto insurance (highest in Country!) way down”– November 16 tweet
Facts First: Louisiana has the second-highest average annual car insurance premiums in the country, not the highest, according to Insure.com rankings regularly cited by Louisiana news outlets. Michigan has ranked first for six consecutive years, Louisiana second for three consecutive years.
According to Insure.com, the average Michigan premium for 2019 was $2,611; the average Louisiana premium was $2,298. The national average was $1,457.

Energy production
“They tried to shut down American energy…America is now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas on the entire planet Earth.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: The US has not just “now” become the world’s top energy producer: it took the top spot in 2012, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration — under the very Obama administration Trump has repeatedly accused of perpetrating a “war” on the industry. The US became the top producer of crude oil in particular during Trump’s tenure.
“The United States has been the world’s top producer of natural gas since 2009, when US natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and it has been the world’s top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013, when its production exceeded Saudi Arabia’s,” the Energy Information Administration says.

People crying
“We ended the ridiculous Waters of the United States rule. What a beautiful name. The name was beautiful. The act was a disaster…I had to kill it. It was — it made land development prohibitive. It made impossible situations for farmers, for everybody. And I had 35 people in my office — farmers, and builders, and ranchers, and others. Strong people, very strong — men and women — and almost all of them were crying. They said, ‘You’ve given our life back.'” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: We checked the video of this 2017 event, and nobody in the vicinity of Trump was crying. (Trump had previously claimed that “half” of the people standing behind him were crying.)

Trade and the economy
Ivanka Trump and jobs
“To equip them with the skills they need, we launched the Pledge to America’s Workers. Three hundred and sixty-seven private sector partners are providing more than 14 million skills and career-training opportunities for US workers. And I have to say, I’m very proud of her. My daughter Ivanka, that’s all she wants to talk about. I say, ‘Ivanka, can we please talk about something else?’ ‘No, Dad. I met today with Walmart. They’re taking a million people. I met…’ She is — she wants to make these people have great lives. And when she started this two and a half years ago, her goal was 500,000 jobs. She’s now created 14 million jobs and they’re being trained by these great companies — the greatest companies in the world. Because the government can’t train them. It’s a great thing. So, Jared (Kushner) is here and you’ll thank — you’ll thank Ivanka. She’s done an amazing job. Fourteen million from 500,000. We’re at 14 million and going up.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Given that fewer than 7 million jobs had been created during the entire Trump presidency, Ivanka Trump has obviously not “created 14 million jobs.” As Trump said earlier in the speech, companies had promised to create more than 14 million “opportunities” for workers — but many of these “opportunities” are internal training programs, not new jobs.
The web page for the pledge program describes them as “education and training opportunities.” Also, as CNN has previously reported, many of the companies had already planned these opportunities before Ivanka Trump launched the initiative.

The US and the WTO
“And I will say this: Because they know that I’m very tentative on the WTO, we’re winning cases for the first time. We just won a $7.5 billion case. We never won cases. They’d rule against us because they said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about the United States. They’re the stupid people. Don’t worry. Rule against them.’…Now, we’re winning cases, because they really think that I’ll do something very powerful, which we have the right to do. And they’re right when they think that way. And we’re winning a lot of cases at the WTO level, we never — that we never even would have thought of winning before.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: The US has long won cases at the World Trade Organization, and there is no evidence that WTO adjudicators have suddenly changed their behavior toward the US because they are worried about Trump’s “tentative” support for the organization.
Contrary to Trump’s repeated assertion that the US “never won cases,” his own Council of Economic Advisers said in a report in February 2018 that the US had won 86% of the cases it has brought since 1995. The global average was 84% and China’s figure 67%, according to the council.
As is standard for the WTO, the US has tended to lose cases where it is defending the case rather than bringing it — but even in those cases, Trump’s advisers noted that the US did better (a 25% victory rate) than the world average (17%) or China’s rate (just 5%).
A Bloomberg Law review in March found that the US success rate in cases it brings to the WTO had increased very slightly since Trump took office, from 84.8% in 2016 to 85.4%.
When Trump spoke here about just having won a $7.5 billion case, he was referring to an October victory in a case about European countries’ illegal subsidies to aerospace company Airbus, which the US Trade Representative says hurt US aerospace companies and workers.
That victory was only the most recent in a series of wins in the Airbus case, dating back to the early Obama administration.

The trade agreement with South Korea
“The deal from the previous administration was projected by them to add 250,000 jobs, and they were right. It did add 250,000 jobs. Unfortunately, the jobs went to South Korea, not to the United States.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: There is no record of the Obama administration projecting an increase of 250,000 jobs because of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). President Barack Obama said the deal would “support at least 70,000 American jobs.”
Obama said in 2009 that increasing the US share of trade with Asia from 9% to 10% “could mean 250,000, 300,000 jobs,” but he was not specifically attributing that estimate to the potential effects of a trade deal with South Korea. Republican Rep. Kevin Brady later used an estimate of “about 250,000 new jobs” from trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama combined, not just the one with South Korea.
Trump has previously attributed the “250,000 jobs” prediction to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular, but there is no record of Clinton using that figure either.

Wage growth
Trump said wages are “rising very fast” after “years of stagnation and decline.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Wages have been rising since 2014, using one common measure.
There are various ways to measure wage growth. Median usual weekly earnings, one way that is frequently cited, began increasing in mid-2014 — though slowly — after a decline that began in the recession year of 2009. Median usual weekly warnings went from $330 per week in the second quarter of 2014 to $349 per week in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Trump can accurately boast that wage growth during his presidency has been faster than under Obama, but he is wrong to suggest it was declining before he took office.

Manufacturing jobs
“And manufacturing was supposed to be dead in our country. You would need, according to a past administration representative at the highest level of that past administration — you would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing jobs. Well, we brought them back, and we brought them back to over 600,000 manufacturing jobs as of today.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Between January 2017, the month Trump took office, and October 2019, the last month for which data was available, the US added 443,000 manufacturing jobs. If you start the count — as Trump often does — in November 2016, the month of Trump’s election, the gain is 470,000 manufacturing jobs.
Trump’s “magic wand” comment was a reference to a remark Barack Obama made at a PBS town hall in 2016. Obama scoffed at Trump’s promises to bring back what Obama called “jobs of the past” without providing specifics on how he would do so. Contrary to Trump’s frequent claims, though, Obama didn’t say manufacturing jobs could not be created at all or created in large numbers; Obama boasted of how many were being created during his presidency, saying, “We actually make more stuff, have a bigger manufacturing base today than we’ve had in most of our history.”

The unemployment rate
“Unemployment has recently achieved the lowest rate in 51 years.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: This is one of Trump’s usual slight exaggerations of an already-impressive number. The 3.6% unemployment rate for October was the lowest since December 1969, just under 50 years ago (if you ignore the fact that it was slightly lower, 3.5%, in September).

Japanese auto investments
“Because under my administration, we’re producing jobs and incentives for these companies to come back. I’m calling, as an example, Prime Minister Abe of Japan. And I say, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, Shinzo, we have a tremendous problem. We have big deficits with your country. You’ve got to start building plants.’ He’s building many, many car plants now in the United States that he would’ve never built here if you didn’t have this kind of a President.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: “Many, many” is an exaggeration. Japanese automakers have announced two new plants during Trump’s presidency. (It was the automakers, not Abe, who decided to make these investments.)
Toyota and Mazda announced a joint venture in 2018 to build a plant in Alabama. Kristin Dziczek, vice president for industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, said in November there had been only one other Japanese announcement of a new auto plant under Trump: Hino Motors’ 2017 decision to move its West Virginia truck assembly operations to a bigger West Virginia location.

Unemployment for women
“Women’s unemployment, the best numbers in 71 years.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating slightly. It had been 66 years, not 71 years, since the women’s unemployment rate has been as low as it was in September, 3.4%. (The October rate was 3.5%, which was a 66-year low if you ignore the Trump-era 3.4%.)

Highway approval times
“Highways were taking 20 years to get built, to get approved. You’d put in an application; 20, 21 years later, they’d reject it…But they were taking 20 years. We’re trying to get that down to one. And it may get rejected, and that’s okay. But you haven’t spent 20 years on environmental impact statements in order to build a simple highway or roadway that’s desperately needed. So we have it down close to one year. We want to hit the one-year number.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump is free to say that he wants to get highway approval times down to one year, but he was wrong when he said “we have it down close to one year.” According to the Federal Highway Administration’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) page, the department’s median environmental impact statement completion time was 47 months in 2018, up from 46 months in 2017 and 44 months in 2016.
A White House report in December 2018 found an average environmental impact statement completion time of 4.5 years and median completion time of 3.6 years across the government, for various kinds of projects.
Brad Karkkainen, a University of Minnesota law professor and expert on environmental and land use law, said in an email, in response to a previous version of this Trump claim, that he has “never heard of a highway project taking 18 or 20 years, though it’s certainly possible that when the median time was six or seven years, a few projects took twice as long, perhaps more.”

Who is paying Trump’s tariffs on China
“We are taking in billions and billions of dollars in tariffs that China is paying for. We’re not paying. China is paying because they’re devaluing their currency to such an extent and they’re pouring tremendous amounts of cash into their system.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: A bevy of economic studies have found that Americans are bearing the overwhelming majority of the tariff costs, and Americans make the actual tariff payments.

China’s economic performance
“They’re having their worst year in more than 57 years, more than half a century.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: China’s second-quarter GDP growth of 6.2% and third-quarter GDP growth of 6% were its worst since 1992, 27 years ago. Trump has repeatedly made clear that he knows that 27 years is the reported figure, but he has added additional years for no apparent reason.
Trade deficits with China
“We’d have deficits for many years — go back many years — $500 billion a year. Not million. Five hundred million dollars a year is a lot. Five hundred billion dollars a year in trade deficits with China.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Through 2018, there has never been a $500 billion trade deficit with China. The 2018 deficit was $381 billion when counting goods and services, $420 billion when counting goods alone.

China’s agricultural spending
“Our farmers — because I have a very good relationship with our farmers — our great American farmers — I call them ‘patriots’ — they were hurt very badly by China because China targeted them because they were my vote…And I said to Sonny Perdue, our Secretary of Agriculture, ‘Sonny, how much is it?’ And he said, ‘The year before last, it was $12 billion, and this year it’s $16 billion in orders.'” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: China spent $19.5 billion on US agricultural products in 2017, “the year before last,” according to Department of Agriculture figures. (We can’t definitively fact check Trump’s claim about this year, since it’s not clear what “orders” he is referring to.)
Judges

Obama and judicial vacancies
“When I came into office, one of the first things I said was, ‘How many federal judges do I have to appoint?’…They said, ‘Sir, you have 142.’ I said, ‘What?’ Because I was always told you would never have any. Maybe you’d have one or two, maybe three if the previous president wasn’t doing a good job. But they said, ‘You have 142.’ I said, ‘You have to be kidding.’ And we did. We had 142.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump exaggerated. According to Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments, there were 103 vacancies on district and appeals courts on Jan. 1, 2017, just before Trump took office, plus a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The history of judicial vacancies
Trump, speaking about the number of judicial vacancies presidents tend to be left by their predecessors, said, “…I was always told you would never have any. Maybe you’d have one or two, maybe three if the previous president wasn’t doing a good job.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: It’s not true that presidents are usually left zero, one, two or three judicial vacancies. According to Wheeler, there were 53 vacancies on January 1, 2009, just before Obama took office; 80 vacancies on January 1, 2001, just before George W. Bush took office; 107 vacancies on January 1, 1993, just before Bill Clinton took office.
So Trump had the most judges to appoint since Clinton, but, clearly, other presidents also had appointing to do.

Mexican soldiers and the border
“We have tremendous help from Mexico, despite what you read…they have 27,000 soldiers on our border now protecting us from people coming into our country.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Mexico has deployed around 27,000 troops, but Trump exaggerated how many are being stationed near the US border in particular. CNN reported on November 2: “Nearly 15,000 troops are deployed to Mexico’s northern border, where they’ve set up 20 checkpoints, Mexican Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said last week at a press briefing on the country’s security strategy. “At the southern border, 12,000 troops are deployed and have set up 21 checkpoints.”
Acting US Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan has offered similar numbers, telling reporters in September that 10,000 of approximately 25,000 troops were on Mexico’s own southern border.

Ammunition
“And we have the greatest military force on Earth. It was depleted when I took over…We had a military that was so depleted, so bad…I could tell you stories about ammunition. They didn’t have ammunition.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: According to military leaders, there was a shortfall in certain kinds of munitions, particularly precision-guided bombs, late in the Obama presidency and early in the Trump presidency. But the claim that “they didn’t have ammunition” is a significant exaggeration. Military leaders did not say that they had completely run out of any kind of bomb, let alone ammunition in general.

Prescription drug prices
“Our efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs — and I don’t know if you know that, but this is the first time, Secretary Azar, I think in 51 years, that prices have actually gone down…for prescription drugs. So, that’s quite an achievement.” — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices
“We’ve gotten the prescription drugs down. First time in 53 years that prescription drug prices have gone down.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. The Consumer Price Index for prescription drugs showed a 0.6% decline between December 2017 and December 2018, which was the first calendar-year decline since 1972, not the first one “ever.” (As The Washington Post pointed out in its own fact check, some experts say the Consumer Price Index is a flawed measure of trends in drug prices, since it doesn’t include rebates that drug companies pay to insurers. The IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, which studies drug prices, found that “net drug prices in the United States increased at an estimated 1.5% in 2018.”)

Pre-existing conditions
“And we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices
Facts First: We usually don’t fact-check promises, but this one has already proved untrue. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have repeatedly put forward bills and filed lawsuits that would weaken Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Trump is currently supporting a Republican lawsuit that is seeking to declare all of Obamacare void. He has not issued a plan to reinstate the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions if the suit succeeds.

Legal storm clouds gather over Rudy Giuliani, America’s tarnished mayor
Analysts say an indictment is likely as prosecutors focus on Giuliani’s work for Trump and himself in Ukraine
December 1, 2019
by Tom McCarthy
The Guardian
When the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani emerged as one of Donald Trump’s most bareknuckle defenders during the Russia investigation, attacking his former colleagues in the justice department, people asked: “What happened to Rudy?”
Now, as federal prosecutors tighten a net of criminal investigations around Giuliani, the question has become: “What is going to happen to Rudy?”
The poignancy of Giuliani’s downfall from national hero and presidential candidate to the subject of multiple federal criminal investigations has been often remarked in the past year.
The net tightened again last week when it emerged a grand jury had issued a broad subpoena for documents relating to Giuliani’s international consulting business as part of an investigation of alleged crimes including money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
“We who admired him for so long expected much more from Rudy Giuliani and his legacy,” Ken Frydman, a former Giuliani press secretary, wrote in a New York Times opinion piece last month. “‘America’s Mayor,’ as Rudy was called after September 11, is today President Trump’s bumbling personal lawyer and henchman, his apologist and defender of the indefensible.”
Giuliani has denied wrongdoing and scoffed at the notion he is in any legal jeopardy – particularly from federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York, an office he once led as a star US attorney during Ronald Reagan’s first term. There Giuliani built a reputation for taking on mob bosses and aggressively prosecuting the kind of criminal activity he now stands accused of.
“Me ending up in jail?” Giuliani told the celebrity gossip site TMZ at a Washington airport on Monday. “Fifty years of being a lawyer, 50 years of ethical, dedicated practice of the law, probably have prosecuted more criminals of a high level than any US attorney in history. I think I follow the law very carefully. I think the people pursuing me are desperate, sad, angry, disappointing liars. They’re hurting their country. And I’m ashamed of them.”
But in no version of events does Giuliani appear not to be in big trouble.
The immediate source of his current problems is the work he did in Ukraine over the last two years for himself and on behalf of Trump, who instructed the Ukrainian president to speak to Giuliani in a 25 July phone call.
Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to announce an investigation of Joe Biden, Trump’s chief political rival, according to US officials who testified in the impeachment hearings. In pursuit of his errand, Giuliani contacted current and former Ukrainian prosecutors, multiple Ukrainian presidential administrations and multiple Ukrainian oligarchs, according to testimony.
Prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani offered the oligarchs help with their problems with the US justice department in exchange for help with his project to harm Biden, a charge Giuliani has denied.
Two Soviet Union-born American associates of Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested last month on campaign finance charges, and Parnas is cooperating with investigators. Alongside the prosecutors in New York, the US justice department in Washington is also investigating Giuliani’s conduct, as is the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Congress is also after Giuliani, who came in for sharp public criticism in the impeachment hearings earlier this month, when Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch described a smear campaign Giuliani had mounted against her, allegedly because as an anti-corruption advocate she stood in the way of Trump’s Ukraine scheme.
“I do not understand Mr Giuliani’s motives for attacking me,” Yovanovitch testified. “What I can say is that Mr Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect, coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”
As the pressure on him has intensified, Giuliani’s antics in his own defense have grown increasingly animated. He warned last week that he had collected information that would put his political enemies on their heels.
“I’m also going to bring out a pay-for-play scheme in the Obama administration that will be devastating to the Democrat party,” Giuliani told Fox News.
He even threatened to start an impeachment podcast.
But what matters most for Giuliani right now is his long friendship with Trump, his most powerful protector, which goes back to the late 1980s, when Trump served as co-chair of Giuliani’s first fundraiser for his 1989 mayoral campaign, according to Wayne Barrett, who has written books about both men.
In a telephone interview with the Guardian, in response to a question about whether he was nervous that Trump might “throw him under a bus” in the impeachment crisis, Giuliani said: “I’m not, but I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid.”
Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, who was also on the call, then interjected: “He’s joking.”
“We are friends for 29 years and nothing will interfere with that,” Giuliani told TMZ of Trump. “The president knows that everything I did, I did to help him. And he knows it. I did it honorably. I did it legally. I did it in a way that it will embarrass the people who are pursuing me and have nowhere near the integrity and honor that I have.”
Trump has tweeted that Giuliani “may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer”.
In an interview with disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly last Tuesday, however, Trump distanced himself from Giuliani.
Analysts watching Giuliani’s case expect that an indictment could be handed down at any moment, raising the prospect of America’s Mayor in handcuffs.
“If Rudy’s story ends the way it feels like it’s going to end,” wrote Evan Mandery, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and veteran of New York City political campaigns, “it’s not plausible for anyone who knows or has studied him to say they never saw it coming.”

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 15
The print shop was located in a strip mall, wedged between a pet shop that had a dead rabbit and live flies in its window and a telephone answering service with a bright pink door.
“Instaprint” had no one at the front desk when Chuck walked in but there was the sound of a loud argument in the back that indicated that the OPEN sign was not lying.
“You filthy fuck!” screamed one voice, “you buggered up the entire fucking order! Jesus, you should have stayed in the fucking nut house!!”
“It’s not my fault Myron, I told you we ran out of brown ink way last week and you didn’t reorder because you got no credit! And I’m not a nut either. I was in a hospital for my nerves! Don’t shout at me!”
Chuck rapped on the counter with his car keys.
“Hello! Anyone back there? I’m a customer.”
There was silence in the back and a tall, thin man with a large paunch came out of the back. He had protuberant, watery blue eyes and a receding chin and wore a filthy T-shirt that was spattered with multi-colored inks and looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.
He wiped his long, pale hands on pants that were once a light tan and now looked like the contents of a long-unflushed toilet.
“Customer! Can I help you? We are having some problems here, just problems.”
Chuck looked at the faded wedding announcements stuck to the walls with pieces of masking tape and decided to find another print shop.
“Actually…I don’t suppose you do stationary and business cards?” he said, hoping for a negative.
Another man, short and red of face wearing what looked like an apron stuck his head around the corner of the doorway to the back of the shop.
“Yes, we do, yes indeed. Stationary. Tell him about our special, Edwin.”
Edwin glared at him.
“You tell him, smartass. Just tell him about the ink!”
Chuck turned to go and Edwin shouted at him.
“No, I was only kidding, sir. We do lovely stationary here. This is a first class establishment. We were rehearsing for a play, that’s all.”
“Yes,” said the other one, “just a play.”
And he disappeared again.
Edwin produced a stained book with samples of letterheads, which Chuck reluctantly leafed through.
He found a sample that looked respectable and pointed at it.
“Can you do these?”
“Why that’s easy. A very nice choice if I do say so myself, and I do.”
He whinnied like a horse, displaying chipped teeth.
“I need five hundred letterheads and five hundred envelopes, all in this style.”
The printer nodded fiercely and then whirled around when something smashed in the back.
“Pardon me, pardon me, I have to attend.”
And he vanished leaving Chuck to contemplate a calendar showing a small child patting a large dog.
There was more shouting from the back in which both parties discussed the unmarried state of their respective parents, a discussion punctuated with breaking glass.
Just as Chuck was trying to open the door, Edwin reappeared.
“No problem, something broke. Now how soon do you want the job done? Not tomorrow but the next day perhaps?”
Chuck shrugged.
“That will be just fine. Let me write out the copy for you and give me a price.”
He put down the name of his late cousin, added the phrase, ‘Investment Counselor.’
This phrase seemed to rivet Edwin.
“Are you an investment counselor, sir? Are you actually one?”
Chuck felt as if he was attending a group therapy session filled with amphetamine addicts.
“Yes, I am.”
The printer leaned over the counter and whispered behind his stained hand,
“What do you invest in? Money?”
“Sometimes. How much will I owe you?”
“No, no, I might have a deal for you. Do you deal with foreign money? Like currency from other countries?”
Chuck had no idea what the lunatic Gutenberg was up to but he nodded carefully.
“Why I do handle foreign currency from time to time.”
The printer looked over his shoulder and then lowered his voice.
“Do you buy foreign currency, sir?”
“Depends on the price.”
Edwin nodded rapidly.
“Why of course, sir, I understand. I mean, do you buy foreign currency? Of course at a great discount, a very great discount.”
Chuck, who had absolutely no idea what this manic was about, nodded again.
“Ah yes, you do! I could see right away that you were a man who understands money. Foreign money. I can give you a terrible good price on foreign money.”
He leaned over the counter again and said very slowly,
“At a very good price!”
A loud voice boomed out from the back.
“Don’t sell it too cheap! You always sell things too cheap!”
Erwin wheeled around.
“You shut the fuck up, Myron! Let me handle this and clean up your Goddam mess back there!”
Chuck decided to follow the matter up. The lunatic no doubt had worthless Mexican pesos for sale. As a dollar was now worth six hundred pesos, he could envision a box of them for sale at face value.
The money turned out to be a large box full of Canadian twenty-dollar bills.
Edwin had locked the door and pulled down the broken Venetian blind that covered its glass.
“Magnificent specimens, sir, the very best. And a special price just for you. Three dollars apiece. Just three dollars!”
Chuck picked up several samples and initially believed they were original because the serial numbers were different. If it was counterfeit, it was very good.
“There are thirty sets of numbers, sir. Thirty! No one else does this kind of work any more.”
Chuck held a bill up to the light and then looked at several more. They were of superb workmanship. Certainly fake because he found more with identical numbers but very good.
“Is this your work?” he asked, trying to estimate how many were in the box.
“Oh no, sir. It’s illegal to counterfeit. When my associate and I bought this place, we found this box hidden in the back of a closet. Under a grille as a matter of fact. The last owner was arrested by the Secret Service but they overlooked this box…”
He thumped the heavy box with one hand.
“Aren’t they beautiful pieces? An investment counselor would know what to do with these, wouldn’t he?”
“I’ll give you two dollars apiece for all of them. This is all of them?”
“Two dollars!” Myron roared from the back. “That’s robbery. Make it two fifty.”
They finally agreed on two twenty five and Chuck discovered that there were bills totaling three hundred thousand dollars in the old cardboard box.
He examined every one of the fifteen thousand pieces of paper with both Edwin and his gnome-like partner and finally, after an hour of bargaining, paid them thirty three thousand, seven hundred and fifty dollars in cash from a stash of hundred dollar bills he kept under the spare tire of his car.
Chuck took back the copy for his letterhead with his pseudonym and was happy to note that neither printer could see his car nor expressed any interest in noting down its license plate number.
When he left, Edwin and Myron were engaged in a fierce argument about how to divide the money and the last he heard was Edwin advising Myron that he would shove his head into the press and turn it on if he heard another word out of him on the subject.
On his way back to his new apartment, Chuck contemplated his latest venture into crime with some bemusement. Lunatic printers, old but very passable counterfeit at an excellent price. The question was where to pass it or whether or not to wholesale it to professionals at a profit.
If he did this, he could realize a profit of two dollars and seventy-five cents per bill and if he passed it himself, he risked being caught, a probable long jail sentence and a sixteen-dollar profit per bill if he was successful. Given that he would have to buy something with the money, something less suspicious than a package of chewing gum or a pencil, he could probably clear two hundred thousand if he was lucky. That sum, added to what he already had would give him a very nice bankroll indeed.
He balanced the risk against the quality of the money and the important fact that there were thirty different sets of serial numbers. The first bills would be detected by the banks probably the same day or at the latest, the next. That meant he had one full day and possibly part of another to pass nearly five hundred bills. If he could get Lars to pass half of them, that meant two hundred and fifty each. That was highly improbable so perhaps a better solution was to put together packets containing five different serial numbers and then buy expensive items that he could later convert to cash. Gold would do very well as would coins and stamps and there were also items that one could use like expensive luggage, watches, rings, some art, clothes, video equipment, computers and so on.
He would have to hit three major cities as quickly as possible and he thought that he could start in Vancouver and move his way back to Montreal and Ottawa before returning to the States via New York and Chicago.
That meant that there had to be a way to move the loot back to the United States and he decided that a parcel service that served both countries would be the best.
The boxes would have to go to several drop addresses with professional names attached so perhaps several parcel services could be used. The Canadian mail service was notoriously bad so one had to avoid it at all costs. There was no point in enriching criminally inclined Canadian postal employees with the products of his dishonesty.
Then there was the question of disguises. Eric would look much better with some kind of a mustache and he himself could grow a beard. Eric could bleach his dark hair and he could dye his black and no one would remember what they looked like. Fake glasses were a must and a distinctive, removable tattoo on the back of the hand would keep the attention of the victim on the other side of the counter. Perhaps a Masonic ring covered with diamonds would achieve the same effect. Or a fake scar on the side of the face or a clip-on earring with a glittering stone in it. Chuck knew that people would remember a tattoo, a fancy ring, an earring or a scar and nothing else. Both observers and their eyes were easily deceived.
And, he had to admit as he drove through the gates and past the friendly guard, the bills were of remarkable quality.
As he parked the car in his space, he calculated that he had a good week and perhaps a few days over, depending entirely on the press coverage. Eric was competent enough but would have to be instructed in the finer points of passing counterfeit money at the same time he was growing a mustache.
“Funny money,” Eric said, staring at the fetch of the Queen.
“Yes, lad, funny money. And very good funny money. Unless you have problem with all this, we are going to Canada and pass it. If we don’t get caught, we can make big money one way or the other. (And we can also pull big time one way or the other but we won’t discuss this with Lars, he thought.)

(Continued)

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