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Trump Presidency


TRIBE Member
Can someone please tell me who the “Targeted Patriot Farmers” are? Is the War of Independence still happening? Has the FAKE NEWS been suppressing information on 18th century agricultural-warfare? Is there a backlash against New England’s football team recruiting farmers? I don’t get it.

...and do they know that, any way you slice it, this is socialism at work? Lol!

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TRIBE Member
^^ "targeted patriot farmers" are basically farmers whose crops have been "targeted" by retaliatory Chinese tariffs after the US started playing the tariff war game.

Trump is trying to redirect the stress they're feeling onto China so they don't blame him, hence the fellating with the "patriot" thing.

China did a good job ensuring their tariffs would cause political and economic pain in key trump supporting states.


TRIBE Member

Trump’s Afghanistan Debacle
Posted on September 8, 2019, 11:19 PM Daniel Larison

Trump’s abrupt announcement over the weekend that he was cancelling a meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David has displayed much of what is wrong with the president’s handling of foreign policy:
What would have been one of the biggest headline-grabbing moments of his tenure was put together on the spur of the moment and then canceled on the spur of the moment. The usual National Security Council process was dispensed with; only a small circle of advisers was even clued in.

And even after it fell apart, Mr. Trump took it upon himself to disclose the secret machinations in a string of Saturday night Twitter messages that surprised not only many national security officials across the government but even some of the few who were part of the deliberations.
The negotiations to bring the war in Afghanistan to a close were probably the closest thing to a diplomatic success that the Trump administration has had in the last two and a half years, so it is fitting that Trump himself destroyed the process by trying to put himself at the center of it. Once again, the president has shown that he much prefers a grandiose spectacle to the slow, unglamorous work of patient diplomacy, and he would sooner dynamite a negotiating process than give up a chance at a photo op. Once again, John Bolton gets what he wants on a major foreign policy issue thanks to the arbitrary whims of a clueless, narcissistic president. In the end, it was Trump’s ego that torpedoed the process:
Mr. Trump did not want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal; after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump wanted to be the dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be.
The deal itself left much to be desired. Thousands of American troops would have remained in Afghanistan even after it was implemented. But it did offer a chance to bring our longest war to an end, and if he had had slightest idea what he was doing Trump could have seized that opportunity. As it turned out, he would rather blow up talks than not be able to take personal credit for the result. That is a warning to every other government that tries to negotiate with this administration that nothing Trump’s representatives say can be relied on, and the president may yank the rug out from under their feet at any time.

Trump’s decision to reveal the meeting and its cancellation is more proof that he cares more about putting on a show than he does about governing. If he decided that the meeting should be postponed or cancelled, there was no need to broadcast it around the world. Advertising the now-cancelled meeting was bound to annoy everyone and please no one, and so it has. Above all, this episode shows that Trump is incapable of following through on anything, and when push comes to shove he will cave and run away. Such a man is unable to conclude a successful negotiation with anyone, and he certainly doesn’t have the wherewithal to defend an agreement in the face of determined opposition. Trump is a provocateur, and he doesn’t have the concentration or discipline to complete any diplomatic initiative. The president had an opportunity to stop more Americans from having to fight and die in Afghanistan, and he squandered it. That is the real scandal here, and the president is the one responsible for it.
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New Member
John Bolton gone! Wonder how long Mike Pence continue to be unmuzzled. The story is that Trump "strongly disagreed" with Bolton on many issues.

The Kid

TRIBE Member
So what's going on with Turnberry, exactly?

Turnberry Golf Course and Resort was bought by the Trump Organization in 2014, shortly before Trump announced his run for office. This, in itself, is not unusual; it's one of about sixteen gold courses Trump owns, and one of two in Scotland (along with two in Dubai, and one more at Doonbeg in Ireland; more on that later). However, Turnberry has recently made the news due to its proximity -- and association with -- Glasgow Prestwick Airport. The big news story recently came when it emerged that five members of the Air National Guard stayed at Turnberry during a routine flight to Kuwait.
Now sure, the airmen have to stay somewhere, but consider the fact that this is a five-star resort. It fell within the bounds of what the USAF allows for overnight accommodation, but the fact that it's so expensive (and that it belongs to the President, so the money goes straight from the US taxpayer into his pockets) has raised a lot of eyebrows. As Politico reported:
One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel — markedly different than the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to — that he texted someone close to him and told him about the stay, sending a photo and noting that the crew’s per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort.
This is also not the first time that Turnberry has made the news with regards to the Trump Organisation's finances. In 2013, golf reporter James Dodson claimed that Eric Trump, son of the President, had told him that the only thing keeping Turnberry afloat was funding from abroad; as Dodson reported, Trump allegedly claimed 'Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.' (Eric Trump denies these claims, Hashtag-Fake-News.) However, it's also worth noting that Turnberry has run multi-million-dollar losses every year since the Trump Organisation took it over.

So how does Prestwick come into this?

Until recently, Prestwick Airport was flat broke. (Quite literally, in fact; in 2013 it was bought for £1 -- not one million pounds, one pound -- by the Scottish government to keep it from closure.) Even now, it's not doing great, but there have been some notable changes. Prestwick lobbied incredibly hard to get US government contracts during the Obama years and continuing through the Trump administration -- and as the number of landings by US military aircraft shows, these contracts were pretty successful. (There were 40 in 2015, 75 in 2016, 116 in 2017, 208 in 2018 and 220 through August 2019, with four months left to go.) As for why this continued increase, the DoD noted that as of 2017, the decision was made 'to increase efficiencies by standardizing routing locations, with Prestwick being among the top five locations recommended for reasons such as more favorable weather than nearby Shannon Airport, and less aircraft parking congestion than locations on the European continent.') (Two things from that. a) The Department of Defense is under the responsibility of the President in his role as Commander-in-Chief, and b) the US military's use of Shannon Airport is not without its own storied history.) Between 2015 and 2019, per CNN, Air Mobility Command aircraft stopped at Prestwick a total of 936 times, and 659 of those stops involved overnight stays; there is no word on how many of those stops included a stay at Turnberry.
  • Consider, for example, the fact that the US Air Force has bought more than eleven million dollars in aircraft fuel from Prestwick; fuel that is paid for by the US taxpayer, and that would (probably, per Politico) be cheaper if bought in the United States.
  • Consider also that, in 2014 -- just after buying Turnberry and one year before announcing his run for the White House -- Trump personally pledged to make Prestwick 'really successful', specifically to benefit his Turnberry golf course and resort.
  • Consider also that the accusations that Trump is using his office to enrich his businesses have been present basically since Day 1 of his Presidency, that while he resigned from his position as CEO of the Trump Organisation he merely passed the baton directly to his children (hardly a blind trust), and that he can legally pull money from any of his businesses any time he chooses.
Now, there's a lot going on here; it's a story that is far, far more complicated than a bunch of airmen getting a night in a swanky hotel on the taxpayer's dime. That's why, in response to the March 23rd stay at Turnberry, the House Oversight Committee -- the section of government that exists to basically make sure that politicians are playing according to the law -- asked the Pentagon to provide information about this stay. (To reiterate: this is their job. They're in charge of ethics and... well, oversight. Clue's in the name.) They felt as though there were enough niggling questions to justify opening an investigation, which they did in April of 2019. In June, they sent a letter outlining their concerns and asking the Pentagon to provide more information; the Pentagon did not for three months, and the Committee was not thrilled. However, on September 8th, the Pentagon announced -- prompted by this increased focus and media speculation -- that while it had found no wrongdoing on this occasion, it would conduct a worldwide review into how accommodations were managed and arranged as a result.

Now, from the Pentagon's side, they did put out a (weirdly amateurish-looking but I promise you that as far as I can tell it's official) fact sheet in which they laid out all of the reasons for choosing Prestwick over other options (including 24 hour access) and explaining the decisions behind lodgings; there is no specific reason given why Turnberry was chosen, but being twenty miles from Prestwick, it's not necessarily the craziest choice. (However, it is important to note that this is precisely the information the House Oversight Committee has been asking for since June.)
This is the point where the Trump supporters rise up and exclaim 'A-ha! This isn't really a story at all!' -- and, in some ways, they're not entirely wrong. The Turnberry and Prestwick situations all have sort-of reasonable explanations that sort-of make sense, and while they do look pretty bad, it's one of those stories where context is important. If you take the USAF at their word, the rules have been followed.

So it's a non-story?

No, it's not. It's just part of a larger whole, and it's raising questions about exactly how America is supposed to deal with a question that's never come up before.
Let's go back to that USAF memo. Right at the top, it explains that they're going to take a look at how the policy works:
While initial reviews indicate that aircrew transiting through Scotland adhered to all guidance and procedures, we understand that U.S. Service members lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable. Therefore, we are reviewing all associated guidance. Even when USAF aircrews follow all directives and guidance, we must still be considerate of perceptions of not being good stewards of taxpayer funds that might be created through the appearance of aircrew staying at such locations.
If a room is five bucks a head a night more expensive in a hotel that's not owned by the President, is it better to stay there instead? Well, consider how much time and effort has gone into investigating this -- and remember, that's not wasted time and effort. Conflicts of interest (or at least, potential conflicts of interest) are supposed to be investigated. It's a good thing that there's a committee whose focus is to make sure that everyone's playing by the rules and no one is twisting them to their own nefarious purposes. It's precisely for this reason that, traditionally, Presidents and holders of high office have divested themselves of any ties to anything that might be considered conflicting. It's a way of holding yourself to a higher standard and ensuring that nothing -- nothing -- could be seen as you putting personal interests over the interests of the country. (At least until you finish your term; after that, write as many memoirs and give as many speeches as you please.) Remember, just to put this into some sort of historical context, Jimmy Carter gave up his goddamn peanut farm when he became President -- a decision that put him literally a million dollars in debt by the time he left. The idea that the President should not be seen to in any way be profiting from his position was so fundamental to politics at the time that even that comparatively small interest was taken out of Carter's hands. (As is so often the case in these troubled and troubling times, The Onion said it best.)

The reason for this is that Donald Trump never fully settled the small issue of the Emoluments Clause, right up there in Article One of the Constitution. The idea behind it is that a President -- reasonably -- should not profit from the office while in power; the reasoning is that to do so would put the President in a position where favour could be bought, which would weaken democracy and the interests of the nation as a whole. During the campaign, Trump announced that he would divest control of his business enterprises and put them into a blind trust (in short, he'd let someone with no connection to him take over the running of the company while he was in office, and take it back later). By January 2017, as he entered office, he announced that no, in fact he wouldn't be doing that, and would be handing over control to his sons instead. (Note that that does precisely zip to get rid of the whole 'conflict of interest' thing, all of which is completely irrelevant anyway, because Trump can personally pull money out of business that he's supposedly divested from any time he likes.)

Again, Jimmy Carter gave up his peanut farm.

And there are big questions that arise from Trump's unwillingness to separate his personal business interests from his role as President. These range from the huge and worrisome -- things like the fact that Saudi nationals have used staying in Trump hotels as a way to curry favour to the numerous questions about the Trump Tower Moscow project (and the potential plan to give Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse) -- through to the less earth-shattering but still pretty bad, like when Kellyanne Conway straight-up used her position as a Presidential spokeswoman to promote Ivanka Trump's clothing brand. There is at best a blurred line between the Trump administration and the Trump organisation, and it's only becoming more brazen. Case in point: last week, Attorney General William Barr (he who put out the Mueller Report summary that claimed -- incorrectly -- complete exoneration) announced that he would be spending $30,000 at Trump's hotel in DC over Christmas. This week, Vice President Mike Pence caught the attention of the media on a trip to Ireland; despite the fact that his only meetings were in Dublin, Pence chose to stay 180 miles away at Trump's Doonbeg resort -- literally on the opposite coast, or the equivalent of having a meeting in Washington and deciding to drive back to Philadelphia. (He claimed that it was because he was 'trying to connect to the bonds of his family'; other reports note that it was suggested by the President. Trump himself claims he had nothing to do with the decision, and Democrats have launched an investigation to see how true that is.)

Consider also that when high-level government officials stay at Trump properties, their security and entourage also stays with them. The Secret Service spent $20,000 on a single trip in Canada protecting three of Trump's children as they stayed at a Trump hotel in Vancouver, and $250,000 in a single month as Don Jr. and Eric went to Dubai to open a new golf club -- not to mention the fact that every time Trump spends a weekend golfing at one of his own properties (and that's not rare; he's had 215 visits to golf clubs overall, as of today, with an estimated cost to the taxpayer of $119 million), a portion of that money goes into his own coffers. The issue goes well beyond a couple of airmen at Turnberry. It's all part of a larger, thornier problem, and one that shows no sign of slowing down; at a recent press conference, Trump floated the idea of hosting a G7 Summit at his Miami property. His response to the criticism that followed was 'I don't care about money', which... I mean, come on. Trump's obsession with money has led to him literally suing a writer who claimed he was worth less than Trump said he did (for double the amount he initially claimed he was worth, by the way), and living in what appears to be the world's largest Fabergé egg, so I'm going to go ahead and say that's not an honest assessment of his thoughts on personal wealth.

The Emoluments Clause exists to protect the US from foreign influence -- but it also exists to protect the office of the President from the grime that would come from the idea that it's being used for profit. Financial scandals have a way of sticking and eroding public trust in the highest officeholders in the country; until Watergate in 1974, the biggest scandal the US had seen was probably the Teapot Dome bribery scandal that, despite having a fairly twee name, pretty much brought down Warren G. Harding. (Historical sidenote: it was as a result of that scandal that Congress got the current powers it has to view the tax documents of high-level elected officials... the same powers that Trump is currently doing his damnedest to avoid.)

This story is being painted as a question of whether or not it's acceptable for soldiers to stay at a hotel that aims to profit the President. I'd argue that that misses the point. The question is whether or not there should even be a hotel that aims to profit the President, and how the United States is going to deal with that question both now and in the future. That's why the Turnberry story matters -- not because it's a big deal in itself, but because it's symptomatic of a larger issue.
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