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Trump 27: Happy Holidays Orange Menace


Destiny

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Merry whatever you celebrate friends. Here’s to next year being an Orange Menace free year, and less of a shitshow than 2017!

continued from here: 

 

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Rufus, please let him lose his phone for the next ten days or just get distracted by something shiny so we can have a little peace and quiet for the Holidays! I beseech you, I need a break.

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I’m not gonna lie, I’ve gone out of my way to wish known trumpers in my life Happy Holidays. I might be a terrible person. 

Unless I’m wrong, isn’t this how the subsidies were done as well? I know very little about the subsidy stuff. 

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14 minutes ago, Destiny said:

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve gone out of my way to wish known trumpers in my life Happy Holidays. I might be a terrible person. 

Unless I’m wrong, isn’t this how the subsidies were done as well? I know very little about the subsidy stuff. 

So he's not going to shut up, is he? Mother of God. I cannot take his mindless yammering for the next 10 days. No one to guide him, he'll insult just about everyone, and possibly get us into a war. Can't Melania be useful and plan non-stop parties for the holidays? Doesn't he have about a thousand rich fucks he needs to say Merry Christmas to? Grandchilden to fuck up? It's the fucking holidays, Donnie, speak to your children and grandchildren! GET OFF TWITTER! 

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"Trump eyes former aides as West Wing staffers depart". I'm not going to quote the whole article. However, this part was too good to let go by:

Quote

...Trump’s admiration for his old standbys is seen by some as a potential challenge for his chief of staff John Kelly, who since arriving in July has succeeded in ridding the West Wing of big personalities who stayed on after the campaign and short-circuiting direct lines to Trump himself.

In recent weeks, Kelly, according to frequent visitors to the West Wing, has started to do “bed checks”—that is, walking through the lobby waiting room to get a sense of who is coming and going from the White House.

And lately, Trump has been turning for political advice to Kelly’s predecessor, Reince Priebus, who speaks with the president regularly and joined him for lunch in the White House on Tuesday.

...

The image of a retired general having to do "bed checks" is pitiful.

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I see fuck face thinks things are going to be more bi-partisan next year;

Quote

President Donald Trump suggested Friday that Republicans and Democrats who have been at odds over nearly every major policy issue this year might soon come together on an infrastructure plan “for the good of the country.”

“At some point, and for the good of the country, I predict we will start working with the Democrats in a Bipartisan fashion,” the president tweeted Friday morning. “Infrastructure would be a perfect place to start. After having foolishly spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is time to start rebuilding our country!”

A massive infrastructure package has been on Trump’s to-do list since last year’s presidential campaign and is the policy goal on which he is most likely to find cooperation from Democrats, at least in theory. But Trump has spent much of the year bashing members of the opposing party over his efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare and pass a package of tax cuts, as well as over the ongoing Russia investigation, which he has described as a hoax created by Democrats to excuse Hillary Clinton’s loss in last year’s election.

Yeah, good luck with that fuck face.  Bi-partisan does not mean simply doing everything your side wants.

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He may want to consider starting with not talking shit before the meetings if he wants to be bipartisan. Just a suggestion.

Happy holidays Donald. The advice is free. ;)

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"Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago, where he often stirs up trouble"

Spoiler

President Donald Trump’s aides and allies are hoping he’ll lay low during his holiday break in South Florida, savoring his big tax reform win and spending little time stewing about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Trump being Trump, that’s unlikely.

The president will have his regular golf outings to distract him from the Washington whirlwind he left behind. But there will also be plenty of reminders of what’s waiting when he returns to the White House in January as he catches up with longtime friends, family and dues-paying Mar-a-Lago members who have so far shown little hesitation in offering up their opinions about how he’s fared in year No. 1.

Republicans in Washington have been vacillating between crowing about their tax reform achievement and stewing about perceived bias on Mueller’s team of FBI officials and prosecutors. People who know the president say they’ll be watching to see how he reacts in his time away, the exact type of situation when Trump often seems to generate his biggest self-inflicted crises.

"He’ll be watching the news and he’ll probably react according to that," said Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King, a longtime Trump supporter and prominent Mueller critic. "You never really know what’s going to trigger the president."

Trump held a gleeful celebration at the White House Wednesday after Congress voted to pass his tax legislation, and his advisers touted his success in television appearances. But there were signs the Russia probe was still wearing on his team. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred to the Mueller investigation as a “hoax,” borrowing language from Trump himself, on Fox News.

During his Thanksgiving visit to Mar-a-Lago, Trump told friends and members he was expecting Mueller to issue an exoneration by year’s end. That timeline, which his own lawyers had previously stated publicly, seemed wildly off the mark. Now some of his former aides say they’re worried Trump is about to get a big let-down over the holidays.

Mueller, after all, appears to be nowhere close to finished. Two former senior Trump campaign aides — Paul Manafort and Rick Gates — have been indicted, and their criminal trial is possible next spring. Two other Trump officials, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

Lawyers working with clients mired in the Russia probe have told POLITICO they’ve been bracing all month for Mueller to file more criminal charges. They routinely ask each other who they think is next.

It’s with that reality that Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago for his longest visit since last December’s presidential transition. During that trip, a Trump senior aide accompanying the then-president-elect took a phone call from Flynn about a U.N. resolution vote condemning Israeli settlements. Flynn would later lie to the FBI about the situation, one of the factors leading to his guilty plea.

Trump’s time spent out of Washington has also sparked some of his presidency’s biggest controversies.

During an early May weekend at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, Trump and a handful of senior aides strategized about how to publicly explain the firing of FBI Director James Comey — a move that would prompt Mueller’s subsequent appointment.

And while Trump has posted multiple tweets signaling an obsession with being seen as working, he’s also sent some of his most provocative messages when away from the White House. There have been attacks on NFL players and attacks on fellow Republicans, including John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham. Early on a Saturday morning in March, Trump sent a series of posts suggesting then-President Barack Obama had tapped his phones during the 2016 campaign. He was at Mar-a-Lago at the time.

“It wasn’t incidental,” Roger Stone, a former Trump campaign strategist, said of all the presidential tweets that have been sent when Trump wasn’t spending the night at the White House.

Stone, a friend of Trump’s dating back to the 1980s, said the president relishes his chance to reconnect with friends and family at Mar-a-Lago, many of whom are eager to share their frank advice. “I think he gets, pardon me, the stone-cold truth from people,” Stone said.

While White House chief of staff John Kelly has reportedly been looking for ways to keep Trump away from his club’s members and their guests, Stone said he doubted that would happen. “Nobody keeps Donald Trump out of where he wants to go,” Stone said. “He loves Mar-a-Lago. He loves to mingle. He really is a hotelier at heart.”

Mar-a-Lago is expected to be teeming with visitors during the presidential visit, including Donald Trump Jr., who earlier this week in nearby West Palm Beach suggested during a speech to young conservatives that Mueller’s probe was biased and that “people at the highest levels of government” had been conspiring against his father’s presidency. The club’s annual New Year’s Eve party with the president — with ticket prices up from last year, selling for $600 for members and $750 for guests — is expected to be a sell-out. Reservations for weekday meals are also a hot commodity.

“Everyone likes to go to Mar-a-Lago, especially now that it’s been called the ‘Winter White House’,” said Jeff Greene, a club member and South Florida real estate developer who expects his out-of-town guests will make a request for a visit while Trump is in town.

Trump’s lawyers, who have been urging the president to leave Mueller alone, say they’re not concerned about the holiday break fomenting any new presidential ire. Ty Cobb, the lead White House attorney handling Russia matters, also rejected concerns raised by Democrats and other liberal advocates that president will seek to fire Mueller during the holidays.

“The White House has no criticisms concerning the special counsel,” Cobb said on Thursday.

“If the media is going to continue to ask for responses to every absurd and baseless rumor, attention seeking partisans will continue to spread them,” he added. “For five months or more the White House has persistently and emphatically stated there is no consideration of firing the special counsel and the White House willingly affirms yet again, as it has every day this week, there is no consideration being given to the termination of the special counsel.”

Whatever advice Trump hears about the Russia probe over the holiday break, some of his former aides say they’re not concerned he’ll act on it.

“I imagine there will be people in his orbit who believe he should [fire Mueller] and may yap about it over dinner,” said Mark Corallo, a former Trump legal team spokesman. “But at the end of the day he’ll listen to Ty Cobb.”

Chris Ruddy, a Mar-a-Lago member and Trump friend, insisted the president won’t hear anything while he’s back in Palm Beach that he hasn’t heard before. “I don’t think he has to go down to Mar-a-Lago to hear new ideas or thoughts,” said Ruddy, the CEO of the right-leaning website Newsmax.

Former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg said one key for the president maintaining calm over the holidays was to stay away from the likes of Fox News, especially “if he’s watching segment after segment, three hours straight saying, ‘This is a coup.’”

“I think he’s going to try to put that stuff aside,” Nunberg added. “I think he’s there to relax and not think about it.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told POLITICO he wasn’t concerned about Trump being preoccupied with the Russia probe over the winter break. “I just hope he relishes this pretty good year we’ve had in 2017,” he said. “With a lot of regulatory rollbacks, federal judges confirmed and now this tax bill, it’s been a pretty good year.”

Trump’s lengthy holiday does, however, have the left nearing DEFCON 1. MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell during his Wednesday program posited Trump could launch a “Christmas massacre” to oust Mueller, akin to the “Saturday Night Massacre” when President Richard Nixon in 1973 forced out his attorney general and deputy attorney general because they wouldn’t follow his order to fire the Watergate independent special prosecutor.

Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, said during a Facebook live session on Thursday that the president was “feeling very high on his horse right now” with the passage of the tax bill and warned that Mueller could be fired before Congress returns after the new year.

“It’s a time when we’re out of town and people are into eggnog and mistletoe and those things,” Cohen told the liberal network act.tv. “So it’d be a perfect time for him to act, and that’s what I think he’ll do.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned Trump that he’d trigger a major congressional backlash if he did fire Mueller.

“That’s all that would have to happen to really prompt a major crisis,” she said in an interview, adding: “I hope good will and peace toward men and women and the world will evolve over this holiday.”

Is it wrong that I was hoping and praying that Mueller would drop a bombshell indictment this afternoon?

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That "poll" needs one more question:

What is your opinion on the increase in the chocolate ration?

-Good

-Plusgood

-Doubleplusgood

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"“Welch’s Grape Jelly with Alcohol”: How Trump’s Horrific Wine Became the Ultimate Metaphor for His Presidency"

Spoiler

‘I thought you needed something good to drink,” the server said, slipping two glasses of deep-ruby-red wine in front of me and my guest. My guest was a nationally known wine expert. The server wanted to apologize for the wines I had made my guest taste for the previous 90 minutes, which the server had brought to the table with mystified, foot-dragging reluctance.

We had come to the main restaurant of the Trump International Hotel, in Washington, D.C., to taste as many of the 11 wines bearing the Trump Winery label as we could. A few weeks later I again sampled Trump wines, this time at the suburban-mall-style Trump Grill—open only for lunch—in the basement of Trump Tower, in New York City. The red-marble and cheap-looking-dark-wood restaurant features views of busloads of Japanese and middle-American tourists trooping past the open-plan tables to the bathrooms. On the way they are obliged to pass by a shop, visible from the tables, featuring Trump T-shirts and baseball caps. The otherwise very nice servers at the Grill tend to run from the table if you ask questions about the few Trump wines on the menu. When I ate there recently, one server did promise to get me some information; after a while, he returned bearing postcards of wine bottles and scenes of Trump Winery, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump wines are in fact hard to find except online; the winery’s Web site charges $18 to $54 a bottle for most of what it sells. Several calls I made to the Charlottesville office to find places to buy Trump wines yielded only the two restaurants I’ve mentioned and a chain called Total Wine, which claims to be “the country’s largest independent retailer of fine wine” and has 173 stores in 21 states, most of them in suburbs. (A representative of Trump Winery says the wines are distributed to retailers and restaurants in approximately 25 states.)

This is not what you might expect from “one of the largest wineries in the United States,” as Donald Trump called it in a bizarre aside during a press conference following the deadly Charlottesville riots, in mid-August. Trump Winery isn’t even the largest winery in Virginia, going by the standard industry measurement of cases produced per year: at about 45,000, it is behind two other Virginia wineries that each produce 60,000 cases. Trump Winery’s claim, on its Web site, that it has the most acres planted in Vitis vinifera, the classic species of wine grape, of any East Coast vineyard, is also way off, according to the fact-checkers at PolitiFact. (Trump has 210 acres; Pindar, on Long Island—Long Island!—has 500, and produces almost double the number of cases.) In his press conference after Charlottesville, the president also called himself the owner of the Charlottesville winery. He certainly was the man who initially bought it, years ago, when he acquired it on the cheap from a bankrupt friend. But the owner today is his son Eric.

In using the family winery to deflect questions about white supremacy after the deadly riots, the president did manage to plug yet another Trump product. A surprised nation wondered: How’s the wine?

Thus my invitation to the visiting wine expert, who is known for his bloodhound nose and encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s wines, and who actually likes Virginia wines. The Trump International, hard by the White House, occupies the Old Post Office building, with a glorious, soaring, sumptuously restored Romanesque-revival interior. Before the hotel became the reason people can now pronounce the word “emoluments,” its restaurant was a prime spot for power lunches. The renowned José Andrés was in the process of designing a new restaurant to go into the space when the not-yet-Republican-nominee referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, and Andrés, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Spain, pulled out of the deal. The Trump Organization sued him for breach of contract, and the case got as far as a pre-inauguration deposition of the president-elect before it was settled out of court. Andrés has been conspicuously quiet about the president even as he showed up the administration by efficiently serving thousands of meals to Puerto Ricans without power or water in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Now the restaurant is operated by David Burke, a New York chef and restaurateur, as a standard steak house. It serves stubbornly cold and hard popovers as a giveaway and large, overpriced portions of bland tuna tartare; Maryland crab cakes that taste of nothing other than pepper; and dull steaks. In contrast to the cheesy Trump Grill, in Manhattan, the fittings seem opulent, the service is professional, and the restaurant is fully staffed and overseen by a director of food and beverages who has the bluff heartiness of Sydney Greenstreet. The place brings to mind the grim bonhomie of Maxim’s in occupied Paris.

I certainly surprised and probably irritated the server by asking for each of the three Trump wines on the menu and also to see if there were any more kinds in the cellar. We drank through as many as we could get. With an anything-to-oblige-a-visiting-fireman shrug, the server turned up Trump wines not on the menu, and also analogous non-Trump wines for fair-comparison purposes, with my expert guest commenting on each one.

The Trump version of Chardonnay? “Oaked up,” my friend said. “Sweet. Too much residual sugar. Harvested too ripe. Flabby. Really clumsy. Goes with the cuisine.” Expensive too: $68 a bottle at the restaurant for the 2015, $22 on the Web site for the 2016.

What about the 2015 Trump Meritage, a blend of red grapes that are “sourced,” meaning trucked in from the West Coast. The label calls it “American red wine”; it sells for $30 on the Web site. My guest tasted the Meritage: “Welch’s grape jelly with alcohol. A terrible, fumy, alcoholic nose. If I served you that on an airline you’d be mad.” (A buyer at a well-known Washington wine shop I later asked to evaluate the wines—he once sold Trump vodka, produced from 2005 to 2011, because he liked it—took one sip of the Meritage, wanted no more, and said, “Grocery-store wine.”) My guest went on, “They’re lying about the alcohol on the label.” He knew this, he explained, by a strange method of marching his two front fingers down his chest after he swallowed, saying that when he could feel the alcohol down to his belly button he knew it was 14 percent alcohol, which is what the label said. But this wine pushed his fingers below the belt. He knew the Meritage was 15 percent—and a 1 percent variance, oddly, is permitted on labels. “This’ll rip you,” he said.

We tried Trump Winery’s far more expensive New World Reserve, made from a similar blend of red grapes but all grown in Charlottesville. The bottle has the words “estate bottled” and “Monticello” on the front and sells for $54 on the Web site. It was better than the Meritage. A server also brought us a glass of Trump Winery’s sparkling blanc de blanc, a calling card of any Virginia winery. “It’s fine,” my friend said. “No reserve, by which I mean flavors that keep unwinding like an onion skin. It doesn’t offend. I’d get drunk on it at a wedding.” He paused. “Let’s be honest. I’d get drunk on anything at a wedding.”

I managed to engage my friend and one server in a discussion of Virginia wines, which both admitted could be decent or, in the case of a few wine-makers, much better than decent. But the server did everything possible in the course of a long meal to steer us away from Trump wines. The idea had been to impress a famous guest, and serving him products from Trump Winery was not the way to do it. “We sell these,” the server said with a theatrical eye-roll, taking in the collection of glasses that by then were crowding our table, “because we have to.”

Why wine—and why Charlottesville? Not because Donald Trump likes wine: he is a teetotaler. The official answer is that he was helping out an old friend in her moment of financial duress, giving new life to a dream project that had tanked just a decade after she poured into it much of her estimated $100 million divorce settlement. Patricia Kluge, raised in Iraq, the daughter of a British father and a mother who was half Chaldean and half Scottish, had married John Kluge, a self-made billionaire, in 1981, when she was 33 and he was 67. They bought up land in horsey Charlottesville, a short drive from Jefferson’s Monticello, and built a 45-room, 23,500-square-foot Georgian-style mansion where they entertained lavishly, using the golf course, the five lakes they constructed, and the game preserve they stocked. In 1990 they divorced, and nine years later, with her third husband, Patricia Kluge established a winery bearing her name. Her ambitions were simple: to make the best wine in the world.

Gabriele Rausse, the affable, Italian-born director of gardens and grounds at Monticello, worked as the Kluge wine-maker for the first 10 years, 1999 to 2009, and then consulted unpaid for an additional year and a half after Patricia Kluge went broke in the wake of the mortgage crisis. He recently recalled that when, at the outset, Kluge said she wanted to charge a stupendous $450 a bottle, “I told her, ‘If you put my name on it, you can charge $4.50. If you hire the best wine-maker in France as a consultant, you can try to charge $450.’ ” So he put her in touch with a famous wine-making friend from Champagne, and, Rausse recalls, she paid him “a crazy amount of money.” Word got out in the nascent local wine industry, which Rausse had helped build after arriving in Charlottesville, in 1976. That was a time when local wines left a lot to be desired. The first bottles he made, in 1978, he couldn’t give away: friends kept passing them along to other friends, fruitcake-style. The millions Kluge poured into her vineyard, Rausse said, made other wine-makers step up their game.

Now 72, Rausse is both frank and philosophical. “She was shooting for quality,” he says. “Her main mistake was that she wanted the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world, but it needs four to five years to take off. She sold it right away, because she was short of money. It was a constant contradiction.” (A source close to Kluge says financial considerations played a part only after the financial crisis.) Even so, the wines, particularly the sparkling blanc de blanc, had some success, including being served at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.

The real reason Trump helped out his old friend was the chance to buy the estate for a predatory price, so laughably low that the bank which had seized the house kept refusing his offers. So he went around them, buying 217 acres that surrounded the mansion—in effect, the front lawn—from the trustees for Kluge’s adopted son; then the 776-acre vineyard for $6.2 million, plus $1.7 million in equipment and leftover wine; then the mansion itself, for $6.5 million. Kluge had initially put the mansion alone on the market for $100 million. At the time of the sale, Rausse recalls, “she said, ‘Gabriele, don’t worry—he’s my friend.’ ” And, indeed, Trump hired Kluge as director of the winery. A year later, he fired her. Kluge, who now sells jewelry, called Town & Country’s Sam Dangremond last August to dis the wines after Trump made his preposterous claim about the winery’s size. “The wine is not good anymore,” she told Dangremond. “I have had several people in Palm Beach lament that it’s the only wine they have on the menu at Mar-a-Lago.” She did credit the official owner and current president of the winery for keeping up the grounds: Eric “is doing a great job at maintenance,” she said.

Rausse is still friends with the wine-makers and managers at Trump Winery, who include Monticello veterans. And he acknowledges the increased demand for the wine, even if it means buying grapes from other parts of the country to make it. “All my wine is made in Virginia,” mostly from grapes he grows himself, he says. (He produces 2,000 cases a year under his own name and consults for other Virginia wineries in addition to holding down his Monticello day job.) Rausse long ago bought land for a house just half a mile from the Trump Winery, and recounted a story of a tanker truck recently pulling into his driveway to ask directions. “The driver said, ‘I have 15,000 gallons of wine I need to bring to Trump, and I’m lost,’ ” Rausse recalled. His son pointed the driver down the road. It’s easier to “source” finished wine than it is to source grapes, especially when the truck has to come cross-country. Rausse, too, is careful to give credit to Eric Trump. “I’ve met the son three or four times,” he told me. “He is a person in control of himself. The father is not, in my opinion.”

A month after the Charlottesville riots, I spent a day at Monticello moderating panels on race and food—a theme I had chosen months before, as honorary chair of an annual event called the Heritage Harvest Festival. During a brief break I decided to sneak over to the Trump Winery, whose gates I had passed on previous trips, a short 20-minute drive away. Would my Park Slope-dwelling stepdaughter like to accompany me beyond the gates? “With a sledgehammer, maybe,” she replied. I instead took a young woman from Monticello who was a frequent drinker of Virginia wines and had happily visited the winery under the previous regime.

Eric Trump is certainly doing a good job of keeping up appearances: the rolling hills are emerald and manicured. As you drive in you can see three mansions in the far distance—but you can’t stroll beyond the patio outside the tasting room itself unless you rent the houses for catered affairs. No tours of the winery, either, though a young woman working there mentioned various events throughout the year that would include them. You can, however, stay in the 45-room main house, which has been converted into a hotel, where rooms range from $250 to $650 a night, depending on the season.

At the winery, two long bars, one on an enclosed patio where lunch is also served, offer tastings of four or five Trump wines, with the single wineglass you’re allowed to use presented to you at the end as a souvenir. We opted for the deluxe tasting, which a young woman led us through by rote. It ends with a wine called Cru, a Chardonnay fortified with brandy, which is “unique to Trump Winery” and, according to Rausse, started when he salvaged defective Chardonnay that had been stored in a faulty tank, and that Patricia Kluge refused to throw out, by distilling it and then adding grape juice at the next harvest. (Sources close to Kluge dispute the origin story; a Trump Winery representative says the current method is to mix fresh grape juice and Chardonnay brandy and age it in wooden barrels.) Cru sells for $34 a bottle as an aperitif to sip before dinner, when apparently buyers mistake the mud I tasted for depth. The young woman and an associate behind the counter radiated the freckled freshness of the sorority sisters they may have been—a common look in Charlottesville, and my similarly enthusiastic young guest talked with them about the fact that they had all visited and enjoyed the same tasteful tasting room back when it was Kluge Estates. The women who conducted the tastings had the forced cheer of cult members who never meant to sign up.

The cheer finally cracked when my guest asked them how business changed before and after the election. “Last summer was crazy,” one young woman said, meaning 2016. “Not now. Suddenly it’s political.” So customers want to talk politics? “Sometimes,” she said carefully. Her friend practically poked her in the ribs. “Constantly,” she said. “She’s sugarcoating. They want to talk at you, not to you.” The friend surveyed the predictably white, very casually dressed customers. “They’re tourists now,” she said. “They don’t want to drink. They want to say they were here.”

Even in the still-stunning setting, the wines suffer in isolation. The Viognier, the Virginia state specialty, was clean but tasteless; the rosé was water, the Chardonnay, the Cabernet, and the Meritage, alcoholic and sweet. At best the wines, such as the sparkling blanc de blanc and the Viognier, are, as my expert friend said, inoffensive; at worst, like the Cru, they demand to be spat out. “At the end of the day Trump wines suck,” my visiting friend said as our Washington dinner came to a close. “But they give a lot of good and loyal people paychecks.”

As we left, the young woman who’d guided us through the tasting handed me my glass, with a surprisingly discreet white decal of the winery’s name and logo—just a capital T. I’ll use it to toast this jobs program, but find something else to swallow.

I don't drink wine, but even if I did, you couldn't convince me to drink toddler swill.

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I do drink wine, but the chances of me drinking the Orange Menace’s wine are are somewhere around no and fuck no. Even if he weren’t an asshole president I still wouldn’t. I don’t want someone’s vanity lemme show you my penis size project, I want something that is designed by someone who cares. Also, how the fuck does he think he can make decent wine if he doesn’t drink?

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Just something I've been wondering about; Now that the GOP has its beloved tax overhaul will they turn against Trump?  I figured they were putting up with him just enough to get that thing passed.  The Roy Moore defeat had to scare them a little.

With the midterm elections coming up will we see more and more criticism of Trump coming from his own party?  Impeachment talk maybe if Mueller turns up some credible evidence?

 

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Because of course: "It’s ‘very gold’: The presidential coin undergoes a Trumpian makeover" (pictures included in the spoiler).

Spoiler

For two decades, the commander in chief has doled out distinguished-looking coins as personal mementos. Now, the presidential “challenge coin” has undergone a Trumpian transformation.

The presidential seal has been replaced by an eagle bearing President Trump’s signature. The eagle’s head faces right, not left, as on the seal. The 13 arrows representing the original states have disappeared. And the national motto, “E pluribus unum” — a Latin phrase that means “Out of many, one” — is gone.

Instead, both sides of the coin feature Trump’s official campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

The changes don’t stop there. In addition to his signature, Trump’s name appears three times on the coin, which is thicker than those made for past presidents. And forget the traditional subdued silver and copper: Trump’s coin, a White House aide marveled, is “very gold.”

The aide said the president, whose real estate properties are known for their gilded displays of wealth and status, was personally involved in redesigning the coin. Trump, who also had a hand in creating his famous red campaign hat, “wanted to weigh in on it,” the aide said. “It’s beautifully made.”

The White House offered conflicting accounts of which funds were used to purchase the coins, with one aide saying they were paid for by the White House and a second aide later saying that the Republican National Committee is covering the expense. An RNC spokeswoman confirmed Friday afternoon that the party is paying for the coins.

“They’re going to be used in ways they haven’t been in the past,” said the second White House aide, adding that they may be distributed at campaign rallies and to donors. Aides were not authorized to comment on the record and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

White House officials declined to say how much the coins cost or who designed them.

Some ethics experts questioned the unprecedented decision to include a campaign slogan on the coins, which are often distributed to members of the military.

“For the commander in chief to give a political token with a campaign slogan on it to military officers would violate the important principle of separating the military from politics, as well as diminishing the tradition of the coin,” said Trevor Potter, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

Aides said the coin reflects a president determined to make good on his promises to the American public. Asked why the campaign slogan was included, a White House aide replied: “That’s central to the message. I’m sure there will not be just one coin during his tenure. I’m sure the next one will say ‘Made America Great Again.’ ”

Challenge coins got their start as military baubles bearing division insignia and presented by officers to troops for exemplary service. The moniker came from a tradition in which service members challenged one another to produce their coins. Those who did not have one had to buy a round of drinks.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have pressed the discs, slightly larger than a silver dollar, into the palms of officers and troops. Bush was said to place them on graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

The coins are hotly sought by collectors. Online, the official Obama challenge coin was being sold Friday for as much as $999.

Collectors often display the coins in a glass case or laid flat under a glass coffee table. But Trump’s coin, nearly twice as thick as those of his White House forbears, is designed to literally stand on its own. It features a gold-plated, ribbon-shaped banner bearing his name in capital letters — DONALD J. TRUMP — that doubles as a rocking-horse-style base.

“It’s definitely not a standard coin,” said John Wertman, a collector of federal challenge coins who served as special assistant to the director of presidential letters and messages in the Clinton White House. He was among the first to get Trump’s coin, having received one in the mail at his Northern Virginia home after sending a letter of request to the White House.

“I’m assuming the gold appeals directly to Trump,” said Wertman, whose collection include coins from Obama and numerous former Cabinet secretaries. “He has a certain way he projects himself.”

Trump personally trademarked the phrase “Make America Great Again” in 2012. His campaign then filed for the rights to the slogan in 2015 when he launched his presidential bid.

The motto is featured prominently in his campaign materials but has also been used in official White House statements.

Nonpresidential challenge coins have become popular among emergency first-responders, including police and fire departments, as well as some federal government agencies. The cost varies depending on their size, colors and design, but experts said coins usually range from $3 to $10 each.

Aides said Trump grew to appreciate the custom during his campaign, when military officials or other dignitaries presented coins to him.

Trump “is a big proponent of military first-responders, police and sheriffs,” said former press secretary Sean Spicer. “When he met with them, some of them would give him coins.”

After entering the White House, Trump asked aides to have the coins he received be displayed in the Oval Office, where a case is positioned behind the Resolute Desk. Another case of coins is in the president’s library, aides said. (In Clinton’s official White House portrait, he is portrayed standing in front of his challenge-coin display.)

As in past administrations, Trump’s Cabinet has gotten into the act, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has a coin with his name on it.

Spicer had one of his own that featuring a lectern on the back. A long time Navy reservist, he has amassed a collection of about 150 coins, including one presented to him from Bush at the White House when he was promoted to commander.

Spicer estimated he ordered several hundred of his own coins, paying for them personally. He said he recently gave one to a pilot on a commercial flight who had served in the Air Force.

“If you get it, you understand the importance of it,” Spicer said.

Not everyone in the Trump administration has followed the boss’s lead, however. Among those who do not have their own challenge coins is Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general.

Asked why not, a spokeswoman replied: “It’s not about him. It’s about the person whose hand he is shaking.”

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I can just imagine the TT's "thinking": "mine is bigger than everyone else's."

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"The cameras go off, and then comes the collapse"

Spoiler

President Trump awarded himself a 10 out of 10 score two months ago for his response to Hurricane Maria, which leveled Puerto Rico.

“If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died,” Trump said as he toured Puerto Rico in October. “What is your death count, as of this moment — 17?”

“Sixteen certified,” the governor of Puerto Rico replied.

“Sixteen versus literally thousands of people,” Trump said. “You can be very proud.”

How proud we are now.

This week, we learned the truth. Some 1,065 more Puerto Ricans died in September and October of this year than in previous years, almost certainly storm-related deaths, according to the Center for Investigative Journalism. When all is tallied, the destruction in Puerto Rico will be very much on par with what Trump considers “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” which killed about 1,800.

Incredibly, a large portion of the island remains without power — three months after the storm. It was reported this week that power may not be fully restored until May. Puerto Ricans — American citizens — are still awaiting tarps and temporary roofs to shelter them after an untold number of homes were destroyed.

A new report from Refugees International said, “Thousands of people still lack sustainable access to potable water and electricity and dry, safe places to sleep.” The group faulted the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “bureaucratic and opaque assistance process” for leaving survivors with “enormous challenges.”

This, in the United States of America, in 2017. Ten out of 10, Mr. President. A-plus for you!

In October, when Trump was tossing “beautiful, soft” rolls of paper towels at Puerto Ricans, he offered lavish promises of aid and said Wall Street lenders were “going to say goodbye” to Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt. But the debt was not written off, and disaster-relief aid has been inadequate and piecemeal. Now, Trump and congressional Republicans are hitting Puerto Rico with an additional, man-made catastrophe.

The GOP tax bill, which Trump celebrated this week, treats Puerto Rico as a foreign country, imposing a 12.5 percent tax on the income companies there receive from intellectual property — a big hit to its crucial pharmaceutical and medical-device sector. Rather than give Puerto Rico special tax treatment, which it urgently needs, Trump and his congressional allies gave employers a powerful reason to move jobs off the island.

You might recognize this pattern, even if you don’t care about Puerto Rico and the suffering of the more than 3 million Americans there. Trump comes in with razzle-dazzle and self-congratulation, promising great things to come. Then, when the cameras are off, comes the quiet collapse.

The prototype is the Trump Taj Mahal Atlantic City. In April 1990, it opened with much fanfare as the world’s largest casino-hotel complex. Six months later, it defaulted on payments. Nine months after that, it filed for bankruptcy.

Now this happens on a world scale. Trump promises an easy peace in the Middle East but winds up setting off a new wave of violence. He promises a tax cut for the middle class and winds up with a giveaway to corporations and millionaires. He promises to improve upon Obamacare but ravages the program with no replacement.

In business, when Trump attended the ribbon cutting and then moved on while deals went south, people lost their investments. But when the United States walks away from promises, people lose rather more.

Nearly 1 million low-income Puerto Ricans are in danger of losing health care early in the new year because the territory’s Medicaid program will soon be unable to pay providers. Federal law restricts Medicaid reimbursements for Puerto Rico to not quite 20 percent, about a quarter of what it would get if it were a state. Puerto Rico’s leaders have called for a few billion dollars to avert this latest crisis, but the request went unanswered as Congress rushed to complete the tax cut.

Puerto Rico’s (Democratic) governor, Ricardo Rosselló, made a dumb mistake in October when, appealing to Trump’s vanity, he praised the president’s hurricane response. That gave Trump cover to do nothing for Puerto Rico. Now Rosselló has apparently realized his mistake, and, in an interview with Politico this week, he vowed to mobilize the more than 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the mainland United States. That includes hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens fleeing Puerto Rico since Maria.

They are eligible to vote, in 2018 and 2020. One suspects they might award Trump something less than the 10 out of 10 he gives himself.

It's absolutely obscene that these poor people are suffering needlessly.

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2 minutes ago, GreyhoundFan said:

"The cameras go off, and then comes the collapse"

  Hide contents

President Trump awarded himself a 10 out of 10 score two months ago for his response to Hurricane Maria, which leveled Puerto Rico.

“If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died,” Trump said as he toured Puerto Rico in October. “What is your death count, as of this moment — 17?”

“Sixteen certified,” the governor of Puerto Rico replied.

“Sixteen versus literally thousands of people,” Trump said. “You can be very proud.”

How proud we are now.

This week, we learned the truth. Some 1,065 more Puerto Ricans died in September and October of this year than in previous years, almost certainly storm-related deaths, according to the Center for Investigative Journalism. When all is tallied, the destruction in Puerto Rico will be very much on par with what Trump considers “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” which killed about 1,800.

Incredibly, a large portion of the island remains without power — three months after the storm. It was reported this week that power may not be fully restored until May. Puerto Ricans — American citizens — are still awaiting tarps and temporary roofs to shelter them after an untold number of homes were destroyed.

A new report from Refugees International said, “Thousands of people still lack sustainable access to potable water and electricity and dry, safe places to sleep.” The group faulted the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “bureaucratic and opaque assistance process” for leaving survivors with “enormous challenges.”

This, in the United States of America, in 2017. Ten out of 10, Mr. President. A-plus for you!

In October, when Trump was tossing “beautiful, soft” rolls of paper towels at Puerto Ricans, he offered lavish promises of aid and said Wall Street lenders were “going to say goodbye” to Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt. But the debt was not written off, and disaster-relief aid has been inadequate and piecemeal. Now, Trump and congressional Republicans are hitting Puerto Rico with an additional, man-made catastrophe.

The GOP tax bill, which Trump celebrated this week, treats Puerto Rico as a foreign country, imposing a 12.5 percent tax on the income companies there receive from intellectual property — a big hit to its crucial pharmaceutical and medical-device sector. Rather than give Puerto Rico special tax treatment, which it urgently needs, Trump and his congressional allies gave employers a powerful reason to move jobs off the island.

You might recognize this pattern, even if you don’t care about Puerto Rico and the suffering of the more than 3 million Americans there. Trump comes in with razzle-dazzle and self-congratulation, promising great things to come. Then, when the cameras are off, comes the quiet collapse.

The prototype is the Trump Taj Mahal Atlantic City. In April 1990, it opened with much fanfare as the world’s largest casino-hotel complex. Six months later, it defaulted on payments. Nine months after that, it filed for bankruptcy.

Now this happens on a world scale. Trump promises an easy peace in the Middle East but winds up setting off a new wave of violence. He promises a tax cut for the middle class and winds up with a giveaway to corporations and millionaires. He promises to improve upon Obamacare but ravages the program with no replacement.

In business, when Trump attended the ribbon cutting and then moved on while deals went south, people lost their investments. But when the United States walks away from promises, people lose rather more.

Nearly 1 million low-income Puerto Ricans are in danger of losing health care early in the new year because the territory’s Medicaid program will soon be unable to pay providers. Federal law restricts Medicaid reimbursements for Puerto Rico to not quite 20 percent, about a quarter of what it would get if it were a state. Puerto Rico’s leaders have called for a few billion dollars to avert this latest crisis, but the request went unanswered as Congress rushed to complete the tax cut.

Puerto Rico’s (Democratic) governor, Ricardo Rosselló, made a dumb mistake in October when, appealing to Trump’s vanity, he praised the president’s hurricane response. That gave Trump cover to do nothing for Puerto Rico. Now Rosselló has apparently realized his mistake, and, in an interview with Politico this week, he vowed to mobilize the more than 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the mainland United States. That includes hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens fleeing Puerto Rico since Maria.

They are eligible to vote, in 2018 and 2020. One suspects they might award Trump something less than the 10 out of 10 he gives himself.

It's absolutely obscene that these poor people are suffering needlessly.

Too fucking right they will remember, and they fucking vote. This mess is gonna haunt his orange ass, as well it should. 

Bff still has no power or communications, and his water has to be boiled. Too bad he can’t actially use his stove cos no power, no?

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@Destiny -- I'm so sorry to read that about your BFF.
"The moral authority of the presidency is in tatters"

Spoiler

Vice President Pence’s obsequiousness at a recent Cabinet meeting — “Thank you for seeing, through the course of this year, an agenda that is truly restoring this country. . .” and on, and on — might be appropriate at a Communist Party Central Committee meeting or at a despot’s birthday party. But it is not the language of any self-respecting republic.

The divestment of self-respect is a qualification for employment in the Trump administration. Praising the Dear Leader in a Pence-like fashion seems to be what the Dear Leader requires — not in the way we might need dessert after dinner, but in the way an addict needs drugs. President Trump divides the world into two categories: flunkies and enemies. Pence is the cringing, fawning high priest of flunkiness. It is hard to know whether to laugh or puke (and difficult to do both at the same time).

It is precisely the claim of miracles by mediocrities that makes it hard for some of us to judge Trump’s first-year record with any objectivity. Compared with his claims of world-historic change, Trump has accomplished little. But how does his record compare with more realistic expectations?

The Republican case for Trump comes down to: the appointment of conservative judges, including Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court; the “defeat” of the Islamic State; and tax and regulatory reform. Whatever your views of the merits of these actions, they are consequential. Add to this the facts that Trump hasn’t blown up the world or suspended the legislature, and Trump is gaining a strange new respect among some conservatives.

There is less here than meets the eye. Trump chose Gorsuch from a Federalist Society list and didn’t fatally undermine Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) careful confirmation effort. The demolition of the Islamic State was largely the continuation and culmination of an Obama-era strategy. And the tax overhaul, with serious virtues such as the cut in corporate rates, also has serious distributional and deficit problems.

This agenda was remarkable only for being so typical. Any Republican president from the 2016 primary field would have appointed conservative judges, continued the offensive against the Islamic State, and cut taxes and regulations. (He or she would also, in all likelihood, have succeeded at an Obamacare replacement.) But this is precisely the point. Trump spent the political capital of his first year — the highest it will ever be — on a few, generic GOP goals. Despite the fulminations of the left, this is not as frightening as some of the alternatives.

It is important to count our blessings, even when they are meager. But for Republicans and conservatives, it is also important to count the costs — the tonnage on the other side of the balance.

The war against terrorism has been rebooted on the basis of anti-Muslim bigotry, which undermines domestic law enforcement and anti-radicalization efforts. Authoritarian regimes around the world — now shielded from human rights criticism — feel more secure. Dissidents and democratic activists feel more lonely and abandoned. Fleeing refugees feel more desperate and friendless. The president is conducting delicate nuclear negotiations with demeaning pet names. Morale at the State Department is in collapse, leading to the hemorrhaging of diplomatic talent and experience. Trump has alienated important allies with demands for protection money. The United States has stepped back from effective economic competition in Asia, leaving China a more dominant regional power. Russia, in all likelihood, has helped elect a favorable U.S. president in the largest intelligence coup of modern history.

Trump has tried to undermine the credibility of important institutions — the courts, the FBI, intelligence agencies, the media — that check his power and expose his duplicity. He has used his office (and Twitter account) to target individual Americans for harm without due process. He attacks the very idea of truth in a daily torrent of despicable lies. The moral authority of the presidency is in tatters. He has made our common life more vulgar and brutal, and complicated the moral education of children. Racists are emboldened and included in the GOP coalition. He has caused a large portion of Republicans to live in an alternate reality of resentment and hatred, which complicates the possibility of governing and is likely to discredit the party among the young, minorities, women and college-educated voters for decades to come.

Trump’s domestic agenda . . . requires another column. But after a year, this much is clear: Almost all of Trump’s accomplishments are the work of traditional Republican policy staffers and congressional leaders. Almost all of Trump’s failures are functions of his character. And that isn’t going to change.

Sadly, nobody on the "right" will ever care about any of this.

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2 hours ago, Destiny said:

I do drink wine, but the chances of me drinking the Orange Menace’s wine are are somewhere around no and fuck no. Even if he weren’t an asshole president I still wouldn’t. I don’t want someone’s vanity lemme show you my penis size project, I want something that is designed by someone who cares. Also, how the fuck does he think he can make decent wine if he doesn’t drink?

Yeah, I'd rather drink horse piss than fuck face's "wines."  Hell even Welch's Jelly with some alcohol would be better than that toddler's swill.  And it would be like me going around calling myself an expert on tequila since I don't drink much beyond wine or beer.

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"Trump’s Mar-a-Lago tax deal veiled from IRS review" --  an exclusive from the Palm Beach Post

Spoiler

PALM BEACH — Donald Trump’s deal with the town of Palm Beach to turn Mar-a-Lago into a private club hinged on an act of charity crafted to skirt IRS scrutiny and deliver for Trump a seven-figure tax break, a Palm Beach Post investigation has found.

To make sure Trump could get the $5.7 million deduction, America’s future president and his lawyers intentionally left out those details from the written agreement with town officials.

The deal, which took shape in public meetings over several months in 1993, provides the best look at Trump’s largest form of charity: an obscure and controversial land-use deduction known as a preservation easement.

Since then, Trump has applied the tax break to his golf courses and estates to potentially deduct more than $100 million from his taxes, even though the IRS once listed such deductions among their “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.” One tax expert said that if Trump is under audit, as he says he is, his frequent and vigorous use of the deductions “absolutely” could be why.

Congress created the charitable deduction in 1969 as an incentive to conserve land and preserve historic buildings, but by the 2000s, it became widely abused by the wealthy. In such easements, owners donate control of property, be it land or historic features, to a nonprofit, reducing an estate’s value.

One way it was abused: Donors claimed the deduction when they got something in return, which means, in essence, that it wasn’t a charitable donation. In Trump’s case, he did get something in return: permission to turn the private residence into a money-making club.

At the time, the IRS did little to scrutinize such deals, tax experts told The Post, and even if they had, it would have been harder to confirm because the deal was not put in writing.

With little to worry about from the IRS, Trump stood to deduct $5.7 million in income from his 1995 tax returns, an amount never-before revealed publicly.

The Post discovered the appraisal, which Trump paid for to calculate the deduction, amid documents in a lawsuit he filed against Palm Beach County. Easement appraisals normally are considered private tax documents.

Trump has not released his tax returns so the status of the deduction is unknown.

But the deal, made nearly 25 years ago, continues to pay dividends: Mar-a-Lago has been restored to its original glory and is a thriving private club, a winter White House where Trump now entertains diplomats and heads of state.

Was it charity?

In the early 1990s, the future of Mar-a-Lago, the island’s most opulent estate, was in jeopardy.

Trump said he had spent millions fixing up the mansion built in the 1920s by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. With the rest of his real estate empire crumbling and the bank demanding payment on the mortgage, it was time to make some money off it.

His first try — breaking up the 18-acre property and building homes on it — was rejected by the town council in 1992, partly because he didn’t have an adequate plan to preserve the mansion.

The next year, he pursued a new idea.

In March 1993, his Palm Beach attorney, Paul Rampell, filed paperwork asking the council to allow Trump to turn Mar-a-Lago into a private club, one that would be open to anyone who could afford initiation fees, which would start at $50,000.

This time, Trump knew he had to have a preservation plan. Rampell told the town council that Trump would offer to “voluntarily make an income tax deductible donation,” vowing to preserve the interior of Mar-a-Lago.

But the town council was highly suspicious of the brash New Yorker: If Trump wanted a club now, what would he ask for next?

Proposing an easement was a preemptive strike, said Alan Ciklin, a West Palm Beach zoning attorney who was among the lawyers representing Trump.

“It wasn’t that they foisted the condition on us. … We initiated the easement; it was not initiated by the town council,” Ciklin told The Post.

During several meetings, council members quizzed the attorneys about the easement: When would Trump donate it? Who would he donate it to? If they voted in favor of Trump’s plan to turn Mar-a-Lago into a private club before Trump donated the easement, how could they be assured he would follow through?

To address some of those concerns, Trump selected the National Trust for Historic Preservation to ensure Mar-a-Lago’s finest features would be maintained forever.

Such an act would have its reward for Trump. He could deduct the $5.7 million estimated value of those features from his income taxes — as long as his intentions were charitable.

But Trump’s promise couldn’t be in writing, Trump attorney Rampell told the council, according to meeting minutes and transcripts. If the council insisted Trump’s commitment be in writing, his donation might be disqualified by the IRS as a charitable contribution.

But Rampell couldn’t get around the council’s concerns. To appease them, he promised the club would not open until the easement was in place.

The town council wasn’t convinced and the easement became a sticking point that threatened to derail the deal.

Council members wanted the easement in place before they signed the final agreement. Trump wanted the signed agreement in place before he donated the easement.

“Suppose I put preservation easements in place and then they decide to not sign the agreement?” he told a Palm Beach Daily News reporter for a story published on Aug. 1, 1993. “Nobody has ever accused me of being stupid.”

They eventually came to an agreement: Trump could have his club, but the town wouldn’t issue a certificate of occupancy for it to begin operations until the easement was in place.

“If there is one blade of grass out of order, there will be no certificate of occupancy,” Councilwoman Hermine Wiener said at the July 1993 meeting.

It took two years, but ultimately Trump donated the easement and the town let the club open.

‘Plainly a quid pro quo’

Even though the promise to donate the easement wasn’t in writing, it was still part of the agreement, tax experts and a former Mar-a-Lago manager said.

“That’s plainly a quid pro quo,” said John Echeverria, a Vermont Law School professor and former general counsel for the Audubon Society. The phrase means Trump got something in return for his donation.

Bill Hutton, a San Francisco-based lawyer who has handled preservation easements since the law was passed in 1969, said he had “no doubt” it was a quid pro quo.

“There really should be no serious question about whether they came to a deal,” he said.

That’s also how Wes Blackman, who was hired by Trump to be project director six months after the deal was approved, viewed it. He was responsible for making sure the conditions of the deal were met so the easement could be donated — the club couldn’t open without it, he said.

“That was a condition and requirement of the estate becoming a private club,” said Blackman, who worked at Mar-a-Lago for 10 years.

Nancy McLaughlin, a University of Utah law professor, said it was not clear whether it was a quid pro quo. However, she said other court challenges to easement deductions have proved one thing: “Saying it was voluntary doesn’t mean there wasn’t a quid pro quo.”

Ultimately, it would be left up to the U.S. Tax Court, she said.

To get the deduction, Trump hired appraisers to determine how much Mar-a-Lago’s property value would drop because of the easement.

The appraisal by Chicago-based Clarion Associates pointed out that the easement places so many restrictions on the historic property that it would reduce the number of potential buyers if Trump ever decided to sell. Future owners could not change interior and exterior details and would be forced to meet strict restoration standards.

Clarion called the agreement “one of the most restrictive preservation and conservation easements that has ever been placed on a historic property in the United States.”

The bigger the drop in value the appraisers identified, the higher the tax break for their client, Donald Trump.

The appraisal, completed in 1996, determined that before donating the easement, it was “highly likely” that Trump would gut some of the rooms, sell off its critical features and build homes on the property.

Among the $2.9 million in decor likely to be sold: seven antique needlework tapestries from a Venetian palace worth $100,000; about 3,000 square feet of Spanish tiles worth $30,000; and 10 shields bearing the Post and Merriweather coats of arms worth $25,000.

Clarion also calculated that Trump or a future owner had enough room to keep the mansion and subdivide the rest of the 17-acre property into eight additional home sites. But the easement required that two of those sites be preserved forever. That limited to six the number of new sites, valued in 1995 at no less than $1.8 million each, that could be built.

Since he or any future owner could no longer sell the antiques or build the two homes, among many factors, the appraisal concluded that the value of Mar-a-Lago was reduced from $25 million to $19.25 million.

That meant, the appraisal said, that Trump could deduct the difference — $5.75 million — from his personal income taxes.

Golf course tax breaks

When it comes to easements, Trump was ahead of his time.

They were seldom used until the late 1990s. It wasn’t until The Washington Post in 2003 and 2004 exposed how the deductions were being abused that the IRS became aggressive, targeting inflated appraisals and donors with questionable intentions. Various easement abuses repeatedly made the IRS’ list of “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.”

The IRS has been especially watchful of people who take out easements on golf courses, which often provide nothing of value to the public or the environment.

Despite the scrutiny, Trump hasn’t been shy about tapping his golf courses for tax savings.

Since the Mar-a-Lago easement, he was able to deduct $39.1 million from his 2005 federal income taxes under the terms of an easement that barred him from building houses on his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., according to The Wall Street Journal.

Trump also donated an easement for his Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, N.Y., according to the report. In 2015, Trump donated an easement on 11.5 acres of his Trump National Golf Course in Los Angeles.

According to records he gave The Associated Press in 2016, he donated nearly $64 million in easements between 2010 and 2015, bringing the total amount he donated to more than $100 million.

Echeverria, the tax expert, said that if Trump is being audited by the IRS, it “absolutely” could be because of his golf course easements.

Public records don’t reveal how much Trump deducted for each easement or whether the IRS has challenged them. That can’t be known without reviewing Trump’s personal tax returns, which he has refused to make public.

Although tax breaks for easements for golf courses have long been considered a loophole that both former President Barack Obama and some Republicans wanted to close, Congress’ recent tax bill does not touch conservation and preservation easements.

The IRS has declined to comment. Rampell would not comment for this story. The White House referred questions to the Trump Organization, which did not respond.

But Trump is proud of his tax prowess.

“I have brilliantly used those laws,” Trump said during an October 2016 campaign rally in Pueblo, Colo. “I have a fiduciary responsibility to pay no more tax than is legally required. … Or to put it another way, to pay as little tax as is legally possible.”

Is Mar-a-Lago open to the public?

If Trump’s deal with the National Trust had a drawback, it’s that he must open Mar-a-Lago to the public.

But he found a way to get around it.

For one day a year, up to 100 members of the public must be allowed on the grounds of the estate for “viewing and study.” On one other day, Trump must allow up to 20 members of the public into the mansion “for the purpose of viewing and studying the historic and architectural characteristics of the property.”

So who are the lucky ones standing in long lines to get a glimpse within the lavish estate?

Socialites who pay up to $1,000 for tickets to charity galas. Friends of members and small groups invited in for weddings, lectures and luncheons.

And that’s just fine with the National Trust.

“We are comfortable that the public access provisions of the easement (both exterior and interior) have been followed,” said Paul Edmondson, the trust’s chief legal counsel.

But McLaughlin, the University of Utah law professor, is not. Charity galas should not be considered public access, she said. Why should preservation easements allow donors to get “outrageous deductions” but provide no real public access, she asked.

“It really irritates me,” McLaughlin said. “Charities have a responsibility to make sure these are benefiting the public … and that it’s not a wink and a nod.”

What is the National Trust?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, nonprofit organization that works to save and preserve America’s historic places. Chartered by Congress in 1949, it is supported primarily by private contributions. With headquarters in Washington, it has 800,000 members and supporters.

It acts as an IRS-approved entity to make sure designated places, including Donald Trump’s Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, are preserved in perpetuity.

Its signature program is the National Treasures portfolio, a diverse list of more than 80 of the most important and critically threatened historic places in America. Other important endeavors include Main Street America, which has aided in the revival of more than 2,000 historic downtowns, including Northwood Village in West Palm Beach.

Other programs include Historic Hotels of America, which preserves the authenticity of noteworthy inns. Among them: the Colony and Cabana Club on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach and The National Hotel and The Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach.

Florida properties protected by the trust include Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami and Little Havana in Miami.

Shady, shady, shady.

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1 hour ago, Destiny said:

Too fucking right they will remember, and they fucking vote. This mess is gonna haunt his orange ass, as well it should. 

Bff still has no power or communications, and his water has to be boiled. Too bad he can’t actially use his stove cos no power, no?

An ex acquaintance of mine is from PR.  She and her husband are rabid RABID Trump supporters. I kicked her off Facebook when I was still using it.  I want to email her now and ask her 'Hey, how is that Making Puerto Rico great again working out for ya'?  To think she called Obama a narcissist. Ugh.

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An ex acquaintance of mine is from PR.  She and her husband are rabid RABID Trump supporters. I kicked her off Facebook when I was still using it.  I want to email her now and ask her 'Hey, how is that Making Puerto Rico great again working out for ya'?  To think she called Obama a narcissist. Ugh.

Easily half my friend base is Puerto Rican. There’s not a trumper in the bunch. They hate him with a passion over there. I guess even a smart group of people can have some morons?
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8 minutes ago, Destiny said:


Easily half my friend base is Puerto Rican. There’s not a trumper in the bunch. They hate him with a passion over there. I guess even a smart group of people can have some morons?

She's lived state side for decades and now lives in Idaho because Florida was too full of Democrats. She and her husband are Jewish.  I wanted to ask her if she thought being such staunch TTs would protect them.  Protect them from the Bannons and Gorkas?  Just what did she think  "Jews will not replace us" means? 

ETA: Not that I want your friends to leave their homes, but how about just for 2018 and 2020. You know move here, vote here?

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    • PennySycamore

      PennySycamore

      My niece is going to be a seat filler at this year's Academy Awards.  Seat fillers are asked to wear tuxedos regardless of sex/gender.  If you see a pretty young woman with very curly hair, it could be my niece. 
      · 0 replies
    • 47of74

      47of74

      Yeah, that's me.  Though to be fair I am trying to learn Italian and Spanish.

      · 0 replies
    • Kiki03910

      Kiki03910

      IT'S BASEBALL SEASON!!!!!
      ⚾❣️
      · 4 replies
    • mango_fandango

      mango_fandango

      It’s not supposed to be mosquito season right now but I still appear to have been bitten twice on the side of my foot. Bastards. I know I shouldn’t scratch but it’s so tempting… 😑
      · 0 replies
    • Therapy Outside the Box

      Therapy Outside the Box

      Hello,
       
      I'm brand new to this forum. It was suggested to me by former and outspoken Remnant Fellowship member (Natasha Pavlovich) that I join this forum and put out here what I do. She also warned me that no one on here trusts, or trusts easily, and that I'd likely be assumed to be a Remnant plant or spy until vetted and verified as not that. Fair enough. 
      In short, and in truth, I'm a psychotherapist with 25 yrs experience in Franklin TN (less than three miles from RF incidentally) with a special interest in working with people formerly associated with cults, cult-like or any and all high control intitutions. I'm especially interested in working with those desiring not only deconstruct, recover and learn to thrive post-indoctrination, but those desiring to recapture or cultivate an authentic sense of theology without walls, or spirituality with borders. 
      To date, I've worked with former Amish, Mennonite, LDS/FLDS, FOG, and a those representing a whole slew of evangelical, fire and brimstone fear/shame/guilt-inducing institutions.
      I am especially interested in working with former Remnant Fellowship and Scientology members. I view RF as basically Scientology without the budget. 
      I'll leave it there. Much more can be gleaned about me through my website: therapyoutsidethebox.com or IG: @ therapyoutsidethebox
       
      Peace,
       
      Chris Hancock, LCSW
      Franklin, TN

      · 3 replies
    • Kiki03910

      Kiki03910

      I have a friend with untreated autism and ADHD. I've tried so fucking hard to help. He refuses. It's a mess. I'm really really tired.
      · 0 replies
    • Kiki03910

      Kiki03910

      Making Jill Duggar's brownie recipe because why not stay up late.
      · 2 replies
    • 47of74

      47of74

      Party on aisle 15....

      Also no interest if fully paid in so many months.
      · 0 replies
    • WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?

      WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?

      Happy Supper Bowel Sunday!!  No, wait. That isn't right...
      Anyway, enjoy the game (or the half time show, or the ads)!
      And a very happy Sunday to everyone who doesn't care about the NFL! 
      · 0 replies
    • Kiki03910

      Kiki03910

      I'm a huge baseball fan. This year, MLB TV showed Liga Dominicana games in December and January and it was a fucking revelation. The players had so much fire and joy. The announcers with their charming DR accents were a blast, though I could hardly keep up with the Spanish. DItto the Serie del Caribe. As a White Sox fan, the MLB season is going to suffer by comparison. Te amo los Tigres del Licey!
      · 2 replies
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