The Airy World of Balloon Sculpture

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Balloons often serve as trappings at parties and celebrations. While the rubber balloon was invented by Michael Faraday during experiments with various gases, some of the earliest of these were made out of dried animal bladders like a pig’s. Aside from rubber, modern balloons can be made of latex, polychloroprene, or nylon as well as come in a variety of different colors. Most of the time, we use balloons for decorations and entertainment. Though others can be used for practical purposes like meteorology, medical treatment, military defense, or transportation. Yet, I kind of covered the transportation part in a post last year on hot air balloons. Anyway, when you go to a party, you might be familiar with the idea of balloon animals like you see above. Well, do a Google search on balloon sculpture and you’ll find plenty of things people have made with balloons. Some of them for contests. Still, some might be of the simple balloon dog kind, there are plenty that can be rather elaborate. So for your reading pleasure, I bring you a treasure trove of stunning balloon sculptures.

  1. Clowns must always come stacked together.
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Clowns have been long associated with balloons. Still, if you add one more, the whole thing can topple.

2. Mr. Potato Head always likes to party.

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Though if he gets too drunk he might lose some of his facial features. Or arms or legs, possibly.

3. The mighty griffin always sits with grace.

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You can tell because it has a tail and paws. Real eagles have claws and tail feathers.

4. Care to listen to this juke box?

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Well, you won’t be hearing tunes from this one. But it’s great for a 1950s theme party.

5. This balloon girl has bouncing pigtails.

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She even wears a pink dress with a flower on it. So adorable.

6. You’d revel over this inflatable grand piano.

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Though be careful if you opt to touch it. Because it can easily pop. Also, don’t try to play it.

7. Hugging bears always enjoy a balloon ride.

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Though they’re on a raft instead of a basket. Love the rainbow hot air balloon though.

8. Better to have a blue bird in your hand than 2 in a bush.

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This is by a balloon artist as you can see. And I think it’s bigger than the real thing.

9. A rainbow can always make your days better.

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This one has a rainbow in the clouds. Tubes for colors. round ones for clouds.

10. Want to swing together?

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Seems like these 2 were made for each other. Though I have no idea what’s on the guy’s head.

11. A fairy princess is always happy with her flowers.

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She carries a wand and wears a crown. While the flowers surround her. So adorable.

12. The doctor will see you now.

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Well, these are doctor balloons. One of them has a surgeon’s cap and mask.

13. A single balloon is not enough to reach enlightenment.

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Yes, this is a Buddha balloon sculpture. And I’m sure some Buddhists won’t be pleased.

14. Check out her new pink purse.

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She wears a long green dress with polka dot balloons at the bottom. And yes, she’s ready to party.

15. Someone must’ve upset the earthen vessel.

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This is a balloon water scene. Has rocks and trees joined at the top.

16. Saddle up on this little horsey.

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On second thought, better not. Because it’ll go pop if you sit on it.

17. A butterfly always loves a flowery tree.

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Seems like it was made for a party. While the butterfly is so colorful and shiny.

18. “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one.”

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However, I don’t think you can save the world in a suit made out of inflated rubber. But it’s a nice resemblance that will make Tony Stark proud.

19. Wouldn’t you love to be in this gingerbread house?

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Hey, at least you won’t eat anything from it. Great for any Christmas party. So charming.

20. Perhaps you’d want a shiny rose bouquet.

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Contains pink and purple roses. Perfect for any table.

21. Grace your party with an inflated peacock.

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Comes with 3 lilies. Though best not to touch it or it will deflate.

22. Any child would enjoy a balloon Big Bird.

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Wonder if they had this at Carol Spiney’s retirement party. Still, this is so cute.

23. Perhaps you might want to drive this semi.

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Yes, this is a balloon semi truck. I’m sure who had to blow into this is all tuckered out already. Okay, they probably used an air pump, but still.

24. Nobody could resist a cupcake like this.

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Even has sprinkles on it. Wonder how you inflate them.

25. Hope you can see with these glasses.

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Comes on its own stand. Though it doesn’t have any lenses.

26. Now you, too can ride upon a purple horse.

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Okay, you can ride on a balloon horse. Even has a long flowing mane, too.

27. Bet you didn’t think to see a rooster like this at the crack of dawn.

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Sure he may not crow, but that might be a bonus. Comes with a couple of flowers.

28. Parisians would marvel at this balloon Eiffel Tower.

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This one even lights up. Didn’t know a balloon display can do that.

29. Hope you don’t get karate chopped by this guy.

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Yes, that’s a balloon karate guy. And he’s ready to deflate anyone who stands in his way.

30. Perhaps you’d like a fairy garden entrance.

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Includes a large flower and tree. And I’m positive that it’s for a little girl’s birthday party.

31. Bet you’ve never seen a flower like this before.

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This balloon flower reaches the ceiling of this building. Hope it doesn’t wilt.

32. Eek! Giant bug! Kill it with fire!

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Actually it’s a fly made out of balloons. Even has clear balloon wings.

33.  Beware of the ferocious fire-breathing dragon.

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Doesn’t look particularly vicious. Though he has a whole space all to himself.

34. A windmill will do quite well beside a waterfall.

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Indeed, you can make whole scenes from balloons. But the windmill seems kind of out of place.

35. A balloon house can be especially haunted.

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Well, I know Halloween is over. But this is a balloon sculpture post so I’ll include it.

36. You’ll find this imposing mask hanging from the ceiling.

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Wonder if this is for a superhero. But it’s perfect for a Comic Con.

37. Want to ride in this car?

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It’s an old timey yellow car. While this guy is having a good old time.

38. This dalmation wants to give you flowers.

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This dog loves has a nice bouquet of 3. So adorable.

39. This little raccoon has come out of its stump.

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And it seems this little guy loves to smell the roses. Though I suppose it likes to eat from the garbage once in a while, too.

40. Looks like somebody spilled some beer.

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Don’t worry since the froth is made form balloons. That ought to make you say, “dilly, dilly!”

41. With a steering wheel like this, it’s welcome aboard.

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Guess this is for an ocean themed party. Yet, I think this wheel is too big for a ship.

42. A Chinese dragon is dazzling in the air.

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This Chinese dragon is quite colorful and knows how to make an entrance. Wonder if it’s for a Chinese New Year party.

43. “Dinner is served.”

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Of course, he didn’t cook the food. Though he’s dressed as a chef in balloons.

44. “This is the night, it’s a beautiful night…”

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This a balloon version of the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti dinner scene. And yes, it’s amazing.

45. Perhaps you might like a white balloon dress.

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Yes, they have balloon outfits. Don’t know why these don’t pop. Or how these people manage to sit down.

46. Jazz it up with a giant light-up saxophone.

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Yes, it’s a light up balloon sax. Perfect for a party featuring jazz music.

47. A snow queen should always look resplendent.

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Yes, it’s another balloon dress. But I think you’ll see it again when Lady Gaga wears it at an awards ceremony.

48. You never know what can come from the rainbow.

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Includes cats and a large swan. Makes you want to be there.

49. Care for an inflatable Easter basket?

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Includes a bunny, eggs, and daffodils. So cute.

50. Would you like a cup of coffee?

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Well, it’s quite small enough to put on a table. And it’s always steaming hot.

51. “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

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Nice how it’s all in rainbow colors. So pretty.

52. This little leopard wants to be your friend.

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Don’t worry, it won’t bite you. Since it’s all made out of rubber anyway.

53. Hope you don’t forget your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

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Yes, it’s a balloon Spiderman. Hope he’s there for Stan Lee’s funeral.

54. Nothing makes a great gift like a fancy inflatable bouquet.

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This one has pink flowers inside the vase. Love the gold and black checks on it, too.

55. Perhaps you’d like a big fancy pink cake.

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Has an array of candles on top. But I especially love the purple roses on the bottom tier.

56. The Dark Knight will always protect Gotham City.

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Not sure what Batman would think about his balloon likeness. Because he doesn’t seem like a balloon kind of guy.

57. An inflated owl is one you don’t want to mess with.

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Contains a lot of mice for some reason. Mostly because owls usually eat them.

58. Deadpool always knows how to blow.

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Yes, there’s a balloon Deadpool. And I’m sure Ryan Reynolds doesn’t know what to think about it.

59. Want to make anchor?

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This one is blue with a white chain. But it won’t sink to the bottom since it’s made from balloons.

60. Behold, the mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

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Okay, it’s a balloon likeness of King Tut. An Egyptian pharaoh who gave his life for tourism.

61. Would you like a strawberry milkshake?

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Okay, it’s a balloon milkshake you can’t drink out of. But it comes with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

62. Wonder what this golden design is supposed to be.

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It’s either a trophy or a fancy golden flower. Can’t tell which.

63. Anyone would want to hold this little bunny rabbit.

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Seems like something you can hold in your hand. But keep it away from sharp objects or it will deflate. So cute.

64. “Who you’re gonna call?”

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This is a Ghostbusters balloon display. Though I’m sure one of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man has to be around somewhere.

65. Any queen would love to have this inflated crown.

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Even has purple flowers near the top. So pretty. Love it.

66. Don’t want to run into this creature from the deep.

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Indeed, this is a balloon shark. And yes, it looks pretty awesome.

67. Hope you can stand the glare of the rainbow sun.

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Well, its rays go into all directions. But the whole display is easy to pick up.

68. A large colorful butterfly should be there to greet you.

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Here it is on the front door. While the other balloons near the stairs are flowers.

69. Nobody could resist a sweet little walrus like this.

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it even has whiskers and tusks. So adorable. Want to give it a fish?

70. Of course, you can’t forget the iconic Marilyn Monroe.

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She has her dress rising up from The Seven Year Itch. So don’t look up her skirt.

71. “Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.”

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Yes, they have balloon characters from The Big Lebowski. Though some might think this Walter one is a bit over the line.

72. Sometimes you have to fly like an Egyptian goddess.

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This one is pretty elaborate. Love her golden wings. Hope her name’s not Isis since that name’s become associated with a terrorist group.

73. Perhaps this guy can scare the crows for you.

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Well, it’s a balloon scarecrow that’s not so scary. Even has a balloon crow in its arm.

74. Bet you wouldn’t guess who this Disney princess is.

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It’s Snow White by the way. And yes, her head is bigger than the rest of her body.

75. Perhaps you might want to spend some time under the sea.

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Seems like the octopus dominates the display. Yet, you’ll find a mermaid sitting on a rock.

76. Feel in the mood for an elephant ride?

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It’s an Indian elephant since you can’t tame an African one. Still, you have to love it in balloons.

77. Want a hot air balloon ride?

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Can even fit 5 people inside a balloon basket. Love the rainbow on the balloon. So pretty.

78. Sometimes we can all use a nap.

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Yes, it’s a balloon hammock. Though I’m not sure if I want to lie down on that.

79. Seems like there’s life out there after all.

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Okay, it’s a balloon alien in a flying saucer. Yet, its head almost takes the whole window.

80. Hope this lamppost can light your way home.

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Sure it’s a lamp post made out of balloons. Yet, it lights up at a party.

81. You can stun at a party in this long black dress.

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Even has pink lace at the bottom. Hope she doesn’t sit on anything sharp.

82. Perhaps you’d think this is a fitting knightly tapestry.

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Well, this is certainly spot on. Like the knight on his horse slaying a purple dragon.

83. Two swans can always enjoy a pond by themselves.

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Indeed, it’s a balloon display. But you have to love the weeping willow in the background.

84. Don’t you just love a rainbow?

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Well, the rainbow is even in a heart in this display. And among a background of clouds.

85. Perhaps you’d like to see a dinosaur with flowers.

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Well, it’s a purple stegosaurus holding flowers. So adorable though.

86. You can find plenty of flowers growing on this well.

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But don’t put a coin and make a wish. Since it’s not a wishing well.

87. Sometimes you’ll find a magical world underwater.

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You’ll find seahorses and plenty of fish. So amazing if you ask me.

88. At a wedding, it’s customary for rings to be intertwined.

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Yes, these are balloon wedding rings. And they’re touched with red roses.

89. There is so much to love about a heart shaped coach.

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And I guess this is for a wedding. Comes with wheels trimmed in gold.

90. This guy can cut anything with this giant pair of scissors.

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Actually, I don’t think he can cut anything. Because the scissors are inflated with balloons.

91. Did you take anything from the toucan?

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While it may seem quite sophisticated, you can’t help but love it. So cute.

92. As beauty, Belle holds a rose in a tale as old as time.

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Though she didn’t wear a crown in Beauty and the Beast. But she’s so pretty.

93. This lizard is as cool as a cucumber.

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I think it’s supposed to be a balloon iguana. As it sits on its own branch.

94. Hope you can stand with pride for this stars and stripes.

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Sure it’s made with balloons. But you can see the stars in the blue section.

95. Apparently, he intends to eat Thanksgiving dinner all by himself.

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After all, he only has a large knife and fork. Still, this is kind of amusing.

96. You’ll find a great bounty in this cornucopia.

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And yes, it’s filled with all kinds of fruit and veggies. Still, in the Hunger Games, the cornucopia has a way different meeting.

97. A phoenix can always rise out of the ashes.

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This one even has 3 tail feathers. Though don’t put it near fire.

98. Try getting a gumball from this candy machine.

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Though you’ll need a big coin. And you’ll probably get a balloon instead.

99. Hope you can hear these herald angels sing.

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Yes, they’re Christmas angels. But you have to love their smiles and candy canes.

100. You’d swear this balloon display is a work of art.

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This is a takeoff of Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus in balloons. And yes, it includes nudity like the original.

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From Russia with Donald Trump

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As of 2018, we don’t know whether the Trump campaign willingly colluded with Russia in its efforts to undermine the 2016 election. But we do know that Russia hacked into DNC emails and spread fake news propaganda on social networks to help Donald Trump. We know the Russians wanted Trump to win and did whatever they could to accomplish that. We know the Trump campaign was at least okay with the Russian hacking and efforts. Hell, one Trump campaign official even drunkenly bragged about the Russians hacking into Hillary Clinton’s emails. And we know that several Trumpworld figures have corresponded with Russian hackers, Russian oligarchs, and people with ties to the Russian government. Furthermore, Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin in his speeches, even when he’s every opportunity to criticize the Kremlin dictator. Though collusion hasn’t been proven, what we do know of Trumpworld’s connections with Russia gives us a reasonable case for Robert Mueller to investigate.

On November 9, 2016, just a minutes after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, a man named Vyacheslav Nikonov made a very unusual statement in the Russian State Duma. “Dear friends, respected colleagues!” he said. “Three minutes ago, Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in US presidential elections, and a second ago Trump started his speech as an elected president of the United States of America, and I congratulate you on this.” Since Nikonov is the leader of the pro-Putin United Russia Party, his announcement that day was a clear signal that Trump’s victory was a victory for Putin’s Russia.

Longtime journalist Craig Unger has attempted to gather all the evidence we have of Donald Trump’s connections to the Russian mafia and government and lay it all out in a clear, comprehensive narrative in his book, House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia. Though the book claims to tell the “untold story,” it’s not entirely unclear of how much is new. Because like a lot of the skeletons in Trump’s gilded closet, one of the hardest things to accept about the Trump-Russia saga is how transparent it is. In fact, so much evidence hides in plain sight, and somehow that’s made it more difficult to accept. In his book, Unger names 59 Russians as Trump business associates and follows the purported financial links between them and the Trump Organization, going back decades. Many of them are quite shady. Although Unger doesn’t provide any evidence that Trump gave Russia anything concrete in return for their help, the case he makes for how much potential leverage the Russians have over Trump is damning. In fact, Unger thinks Russia’s use of Trump constitutes “one of the greatest intelligence operations in history,” as he puts in his book.

As Craig Unger claims. what most Americans don’t understand is that the Russian mafia is different from the American mafia. While American crime syndicates are often targets for FBI investigation, the mafia is essentially a state actor in Russia. When asked about the mafia, former KGB Russian counterintelligence operations Gen. Oleg Kalugin told Unger, “Oh, it’s part of the KGB. It’s part of the Russian government.” In Russia, there’s no Wall Street or anything like Goldman Sachs. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, rich gangsters and government officials were able to privatize and loot state-held assets in coal, oil, minerals, and banking. In Vladmir Putin’s Russia, criminal syndicates have become increasingly intertwined with its intelligence services, blurring the line between mafia dons and spies. In fact, Russia expert Mark Galeotti would agree with Unger since he wrote in his book, The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia that Putin’s Kremlin consolidated power by “not simply taming, but absorbing, the underworld.” Putin didn’t care what these gangsters did as long as they strengthened his power and personal financial interests. Since the 1990s, its estimated that some $1.3 trillion has flowed out of Russia.

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Semion Mogilevich is one of the richest and most influential gangsters in the world. Known as the ultimate Russian mob boss, he may not have any direct connection to Donald Trump. But many of his associates and underlings do.

One of the key mob bosses is the squat Ukranian Semion Mogilevich. In Russia, he’s a big time Russian crime boss with a multibillion empire and a wide range of crimes that will make Al Capone look like an inept convenience store robber. According to the FBI, Mogilevich started out as the key money-laundering contact for the Solntsevskaya Bratva, or Brotherhood, one of the richest criminal syndicates in the world. Craig Unger believed that he could’ve been the CEO of Goldman Sachs if he was born in America. The FBI considers Mogilevich the “boss of bosses” of the Russian mafia who’s even feared by his fellow gangsters as “the most powerful mobster in the world.” He’s run drug trafficking rings at an international scale. He’s used a jewelry business in Moscow and Budapest as a front for art that Russian gangsters stole from museums, churches, and synagogues all over Europe. He’s even been accused of selling $20 million in stolen weapons to Iran. From what the FBI has on him, Mogilevich has laundered money through more than 100 front companies around the world and held bank accounts in at least 27 countries. Mogilevich is famous for designing elaborate financial schemes that are extremely difficult, even possible to detect. Since the planning and setup can take years and involve a wide range of people in various positions of power whose roles/identities are sometimes never discovered. In Russia, his influence reaches all the way to the top. Ex-Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko said in an interview with investigators in 2005, “Mogilevich have good relationship with Putin since 1994 or 1993.” A year later Litvinenko was dead, suspiciously poisoned by Kremlin agents. Many of the Russian mobsters who bought units from Donald Trump have ties to this man.

According to Craig Unger, it probably all began as a money-laundering operation with the Russian mafia. After all, anyone who’s known about Donald Trump for a long time knows that he likes doing business with gangsters. Partly because they pay top dollar and loan money when traditional banks won’t. Essentially, for more than 30 years Trump was working with the Russian mafia. He profited from them. They rescued and bailed him out, taking him from being $4 billion in debt to becoming a multibillionaire again. And they fueled his political ambitions. And since Trump had worked with the Russian mafia, he was in bed with the Kremlin as well, whether he knew it or not.

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This is a chart of the Russian-linked and notorious criminals who lived and worked at Trump Tower. Since the place has been the HQ for money laundering operations and more. Helps that during the 1980s, it was the only high-rise to accept anonymous buyers.

To Craig Unger’s knowledge, the very first documented episode he could find was in 1984 when a man named David Bogatin met with Donald Trump in Trump Tower right after it opened since it was the only high-rise in New York City at the time to accept anonymous buyers. Now Bogatin is a Russian mobster, convicted gasoline bootlegger, and close ally of major Russian mob boss and king of money launderers Semion Mogilevich. Anyway, Bogatin came to that meeting prepared to spend $6 million which is equivalent to $15 million today. At that meeting, he bought 5 condos, which the Kremlin later seized on claims they were used to launder money for the Russian mob. We don’t exactly know what was in Trump’s head at the time or what he knew. But Unger has documented 1,300 transactions of this kind with Russian mobsters. These real estate transactions were all cash purchases made by anonymous shell companies that were obviously fronts for criminal money-laundering operations. By the early 2000s, 1/3 of the buyers of Trump Tower’s most expensive condos were either Russia-linked shell companies or individuals from the former Soviet Union. In Florida, about 63 Russian buyers spent at least $98 on Trump properties while another 1/3 of the units were bought by shell companies. Since this represents a large chunk of Trump’s real estate activity in the United States, it’s difficult to argue he had no idea what was going on. Aside from Bogatin, there’s his brother Yakov, who was involved in an elaborate stock fraud with Mogilevich. Two of Trump’s Sunny Isles buyers Anatoly Golubchik and Michael Sall were convicted of taking part in a massive international gambling and money laundering syndicate run out of the New York Trump Tower.

Another Trump buyer was an Uzbek mob-connected diamond dealer named Eduard Nektalov. At the time, Nektalov was under investigation by a Treasury Department task force for mob-connected money laundering. He bought a condo in midtown Manhattan’s Trump World Tower on the 79th floor, directly below Kellyanne Conway. A month later, he sold his unit for $500,000 profit. The next year after rumors circulated of him cooperating with federal investigators, Nektalov was gunned down on Sixth Avenue.

In 1991, Semion Mogilevich paid a Russian judge to spring fellow mob boss Vyachelsav Kirillovich Ivankov, from a Siberian gulag. In Russia, Ivankov was infamous for torturing his victims and boasting about murders he arranged. After his release, Ivankov headed to New York City on an illegal business visa. Once there, he bought a Rolls Royce dealership to use “as a front to launder criminal proceeds.” One of Ivankov’s partners in the operation was Felix Komarov, an upscale art dealer who lived in Trump Plaza on Third Avenue. After receiving a briefcase filled with $1.5 million in cash, over the next 3 years, Ivankov oversaw the mob’s growth from a local extortion racket to a multibillion dollar enterprise. According to the FBI, he recruited 2 “combat brigades” of Special Forces veterans from the Soviet war in Afghanistan to run the mafia’s protection racket and kill his enemies. Feds later found out that Ivankov made frequent visit to Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where Russian gangsters routinely laundered huge sums of money. So much that it was repeatedly cited by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for having inadequate money-laundering controls. And in 2015, was fined $10 million and admitted for having “willfully violated” anti-money-laundering regulations for years. The also found that he lived in a luxury condo at Trump Tower. Though despite being Donald Trump’s neighbor, there’s no evidence they knew each other personally. But the fact a top Russian mafia boss lived and worked in Trump’s building shows just how much high-level Russian gangsters saw Trump’s properties as a home away from home.

Then there’s Russian mob leader Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov who ran an entire gambling and money-laundering network out of Unit 63A at Trump Tower (which is 3 floors below Donald Trump’s residence). In fact, Tokhtakhounov was a VIP attendee at Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow just 7 months after the FBI busted his gambling rings and rounded up 29 suspects. The operation, which prosecutors called “the world’s largest sports book,” was run out of Trump Tower condos, including the building’s whole 51st floor. In addition, Unit 63A served as “sophisticated money-laundering scheme” moving an estimated $100 million out of the former Soviet Union, through shell companies in Cyprus, and into investments in the United States. According to the federal indictment, the money launderers paid Tokhtakhounov $10 million. A decade earlier, Tokhtakhounov was indicted for conspiring to fix the ice-skating competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics and was the only suspect to avoid arrest.

Russian mobsters and oligarchs also had ties to some of Donald Trump’s other properties outside the United States. In November 2017, NBC News reported Trump’s Panama hotel had ties to organized crime. While a Russian state-owned bank under US sanctions helped finance the construction of the 65-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto. And in December 2016, Jared Kushner met with that bank’s CEO. Since this represents a large chunk of Trump’s real estate activity in the United States, it’s difficult to argue he had no idea what was going on.

But how did Donald Trump become a “person of interest” to the Russians over 30 years ago, before his ascent to the presidency was even fathomable? It’s actually not as strange as it seems. First of all, Russians have always wanted to align with certain powerful businessman. Nor was Trump the only guy they targeted. For the Russians have a history going back to the American businessman Armand Hammer during the 1970s-80s who they turned into an asset. In fact, Russia had hundreds of agents and assets in the US. According to Gen. Kalugin, the US was a paradise for spies and they had recruited roughly 300 agents and assets in the country. Trump was one of them.

Nor were Russian operations just limited to money laundering for there was a parallel effort to seduce Donald Trump. Sometime in 1986, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Yuri Dubinin visited Trump in Trump Tower, said that his building was “fabulous,” suggested that he should build one in Moscow, and they arranged for a trip to the Russian capital. According to Gen. Kalugin, this was likely the first step in the process to recruit and compromise Trump, which they probably succeed with flying colors. Since Trump is a sucker for flattery. So we shouldn’t be the least surprised if the Russians have compromising materials on Trump’s Moscow activities. Since they’re very good at acquiring compromising stuff on just about anyone. Not that it would be hard for them.

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Here’s a picture of Donald Trump with Tevfik Artif and Felix Sater. Artif would be busted for running a prostitution ring on his boat in Turkey. While Sater served as an informant while doing his Russia-linked dirty deeds to avoid prison time for racketeering.

Though we don’t have evidence whether such compromising material on Donald Trump’s Moscow activities exists and Craig Unger has tried but couldn’t find any corroboration from several people who assured him it does. But that’s all beside the point. Since Unger believes that the real evidence is already out there in the form of the Bayrock Group, a real estate development company located on Trump Tower’s 24th floor. The founder was a Kazakh man named Tevfik Arif while the managing director was Felix Sater. In 2005, Bayrock proceeded to partner with Trump and helped him develop a new business model he desperately needed. Because Trump was $4 billion in debt after his Atlantic City casinos went bankrupt that he couldn’t get a bank loan from anywhere in the West. Bayrock came in with a new business model that says, “You don’t have to raise any money. You don’t have to do any of the real estate development. We just want to franchise your name, we’ll give you 18 to 25 percent royalties, and we’ll effectively do all the work. And if the Trump Organization gets involved in the management of these buildings, they’ll get extra fees for that.” Apparently, Trump found the idea fabulously lucrative. Meanwhile, the Bayrock associates (particularly Sater) operated out of Trump Tower as well as constantly flew back and forth to Russia. In his book, Unger detailed several channels through which various people at Bayrock have close ties to the Kremlin. While he talked about Sater’s trips to Moscow even as late as 2016, hoping to build Trump Tower there.

Yet, Bayrock and its deals became quickly mired in controversy. First, Forbes and other publications reported that the company was financed by a notoriously corrupt group known as the Trio. In 2010, Turkish prosecutors arrested Tevfik Arif on charges of setting up a prostitution ring after found aboard his boat with 9 young women, 2 of whom were 16 years old. He was later acquitted since the women refused to talk. That same year, 2 former Bayrock executives filed a lawsuit alleging Artif started a firm “backed by oligarchs and money they stole from the Russian people.” In addition, the suit alleged Bayrock “was substantially and covertly mob-owned and operated.” According to them, the company’s real purpose was to develop expensive properties bearing the Trump brand and use the projects to launder money and evade taxes. Though the suit doesn’t claim that Donald Trump was complicit in the scam, The Financial Times found that Trump SoHo had “multiple ties to an alleged international money-laundering network.” In one case, a former Kazakh energy minister is being sued in federal court for conspiring to “systematically loot hundreds of millions of dollars of public assets” before purchasing three condos in Trump SoHo to launder his “ill-gotten funds.”

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Donald Trump has often denied his association with Felix Sater. Yet, in reality, the two have been quite close as this business card shows.

During his collaboration with Bayrock, Donald Trump became close to the man who ran the firm’s daily operations, Felix Sater. Sater had numerous ties to Russian oligarchs and Russian intelligence. His father was a boss for Semion Mogilevich who was convicted for extorting local restaurants, grocery stores, and a medical clinic. Sater tried making it as a stockbroker. But his career came to an end in 1991 when he stabbed a Wall Street foe in the face with a broken margarita glass during a bar fight, opening wounds requiring 110 stitches. He then lost his trading license over the attack and served a year in prison. In 1998, Sater pleaded guilty to racketeering on grounds of operating a “pump and dump” stock fraud partnership with alleged Russian mobsters that bilked investors of at least $40 million. To avoid prison time, Sater turned informer. But according to documents from the lawsuit against Bayrock, he also resumed “his old tricks.” By 2003, the suit alleges, Sater controlled the majority of Bayrock shares and proceeded to use the firm to launder hundreds of millions of dollars while skimming and extorting millions more. In addition, the suit claimed that Sater committed fraud by concealing his racketeering and that he threatened “to kill anyone at the firm he thought knew of the crimes committed there and might report it.”

By Felix Sater’s account in sworn testimony, he was very tight with Donald Trump. He flew to Colorado with him. He accompanied Donald Jr. And Ivanka on a trip to Moscow at Trump’s invitation. And he met with Trump’s inner circle “constantly.” In Trump Tower, he often dropped by Trump’s office to pitch business ideas. Trump and his lawyers claim he wasn’t aware of Sater’s checkered past when he signed on to do business with Bayrock. This is plausible since Sater’s plea deal in the stock fraud was kept secred due to his role as an informant. But even after The New York Times revealed Sater’s criminal record in 2007, Sater kept using office space provided by the Trump Organization. In 2010, he received a Trump Organization business card reading: FELIX H. SATER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP. As of 2017, Sater apparently remains close to Trump’s inner circle. One week before National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was fired for failing to report meetings with Russian officials, Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen hand-delivered a “back channel plan” for lifting sanctions on Russia to Flynn’s office. According to the Times, the co-author was Felix Sater.

Nonetheless, like many of Donald Trump’s business projects, his deals with Bayrock didn’t bear fruit. International projects in Russia and Poland never materialized. A Trump Tower being built in Ft. Lauderdale ran out of money before completion, leaving behind a massive concrete shell. Trump SoHo was ultimately foreclosed and resold. But Trump’s Russian investors left him with a high-profile property he could leverage since he and Ivanka are still listed as managers. And it’s said he made $3 million from it in 2015.

But is there any evidence that Donald Trump actively sought out Russian money by making clear that his businesses could be used to hide ill-gotten gains? According to Craig Unger, it’s difficult to say. Because he’s not sure if Trump had to. From how the Russian mob transactions took place, Trump didn’t have to say anything. After all, the Trump Organization was desperate for money and knew the caliber of people they were dealing with. So they were either okay with this or deliberately chose not to do their due diligence. Other real estate developers may do this as well, but they usually don’t become president of the United States.

Donald Trump seems much more motivated by money than political ideology. But was his drift into politics in any way influenced by his financial entanglements? There’s no clear answer. Yet, Craig Unger told Vox one weird anecdote about Trump’s first wife, Ivana, whom he married in 1977. Apparently, Czech secret police had started following her and her family in the late 1980s and one of their files said that Trump was being pressured to run for president. But what does that mean? Who was pressuring him and why? How were they applying the pressure? And did it have anything to do with potentially compromising materials the Russians had on Trump during his 1987 trip to Moscow? What we do know is that when Trump returned from his first Moscow trip, he took out full-page ads in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Boston Globe which pushed anti-European and anti-NATO views that were aligned with the Soviet plan to destroy the Western alliance. Whether he always believed such things or not, it’s worth noting.

Now Craig Unger didn’t go to Russia for obvious reasons given how Vladimir Putin tends to murder critical reporters. But most of what he found out came from public sources, which is stunning. One of his sources tipped him off on the high-ranking Russian mob boss Semion Mogilevich, whom he had never heard of before. He’s even been accused of selling $20 million in stolen weapons to Iran. Anyway, that led Unger to an online database revealing home ownership in the state of New York, along with purchases and sales. So he went to the Trump properties. Every time Unger found a Russian name, he’d research it. He’d take their name and Mogilevich in Google and as he told Vox, “it was like hitting the jackpot on a slot machine, time after time after time.” Among the Russians Unger found on the Trump property listings, there were countless people either indicted on money laundering or gunned down on Sixth Avenue. He also found a huge percentage with criminal histories, which sort of got him started. He also had a research assistant who spoke Russian and helped him break the language barrier for him.

But does Craig Unger’s book about Donald Trump and Russia offer anything new? Well, the insights Unger gained from Gen. Kalugin were completely new. Yet, most of what he did was compile what was out there but haven’t been pieced together. For instance, he found a lot of the Russian-connected stories published in the crime pages of the New York Post and the New York Daily News. These were just straight-up crime stories you’d see in a tabloid. After all, Americans don’t think crime stories involving the Russian mob would have any geopolitical implications or forces behind it. Nevertheless, many of these seemingly random Russian crime stories appearing in the tabloids again and again was connected to a much larger operation ensnaring Trump and the people around him.

Still, even if Donald Trump has no idea how many deals he and his businesses made with Russian investors, he certainly didn’t “stay away” from Russia. After all, he and his organization have aggressively promoted his business there for decades, seeking to entice investors and buyers for some of his most high-profile developments. Whether he knew it or not, Russian mobsters and corrupt oligarchs used his properties not only to launder vast sums of money from extortion, drugs, gambling, and racketeering, but even as a base for their criminal activities. In the process, they propped up Trump’s business and enabled him to reinvent his image. Without the Russian mafia, Trump wouldn’t be president of the United States.

However, if Donald Trump is a Russian asset, he’s not the only one targeted. During the 1980s and 1990s, the US government saw a pattern by which criminals used condos to launder money. As former Clinton official Jonathan Winer told The New Republic, “It didn’t matter that you paid too much, because the real estate values would rise, and it was a way of turning dirty money into clean money. It was done very systematically, and it explained why there are so many high-rises where the units were sold but no one is living in them.” One of the things Craig Unger’s book shows is that there’s a new kind of global war going on in which the weapons are information, data, social media, and financial institutions. The Russian mafia is only one weapon in this global conflict and the Russians have been smartly fighting it since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Russians start businesses and front companies and commodities firms appearing legitimate but essentially work to advance the Russian state’s interests. Many of today’s Russian oligarchs seek to portray themselves as unremarkable businessmen, preferring that their life-and-death struggles for riches in the 1990s fade into history. Yet, as their influence in the west grows, it becomes more important to understand any links to the authoritarians and kleptocrats back home. The Russians are very good at getting people financially entangled and then using that leverage to get what they want. This appears what the Russians have done with Trump and now he’s president. As former top official Elsie Bean told The Financial Times, “Russia has long been associated with dirty money. Anyone getting substantial funds originating in the former Soviet Union should have known that the funds were high risk and required a careful due diligence review to ensure the money was clean.”

Nonetheless, the most troubling part of all this is that the Russians simply exploited our own corrupt system. The studied our pay-to-play culture, found its weak spots, and very carefully manipulated it. As long as our culture remains unchanged, we should expect this kind of exploitation. Sometimes the worst part about a scandal is what’s legal. The Russians studied our campaign system and campaign finance law and masterfully exploited it. They’ve used pharmaceutical companies, energy companies, and financial institutions to pour money into politics. And we really have no idea the extent of their influence. Vladimir Putin may be right in his insistence that American democracy is also corrupt while he’s showing us exactly how screwed up it is. Donald Trump is just the most glaring example. But there are others, most of who we don’t know anything about.

Whether you believe Donald Trump is owned by the Russian mob or not, Craig Unger presents a compelling case in his book. Though some of his statements in issues might read like conspiracy theories, but so much of it makes a lot of sense. Besides, Unger isn’t the only guy who thinks the Russian mafia owns Trump. Nor Trump is the only prominent figure with shady Russian ties as you can see within his administration. Nor is the Trump Organization the only entity. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen had an uncle who owned a Brooklyn catering hall called El Caribe, which “for decades was the scene of mob weddings and Christmas parties,” and housed offices of “two of New York’s most notorious Russian mobsters.” Then there’s the matter with the NRA receiving money from 23 Russian donors during the 2016 campaign. Not to mention, Rep. Dana Rohrbacher was considered “Putin’s favorite congressman” long before Trump ran for president and was instrumental in killing some critical anti-Russian legislation. Thankfully, he’s lost to a Democrat this year. We may not know whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia or the full extent of the Trump-Russian relationship. But as with many aspects of Trump’s business practices, what we know is damning. There is no doubt that Trump has taken Russian money. And when Trump receives millions of dollars from someone, he’s more likely to be beholden to them. But that doesn’t mean Trump is loyal to them, because he’s just as likely to drop his Russian backers once they prove no longer useful. Since Trump’s true loyalty is only to himself. So we must be concerned.

The Coming Saturday Night Massacre

There are times when moments you long wait for don’t always taste so sweet as you’d think they would be. On November 7, 2018, Donald Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign, ending the longtime Alabama senator’s nearly 2 years running the Department of Justice. Now you’d think this would be a good thing. After all, Sessions is so racist that Coretta Scott King wrote a letter to the US Senate not to confirm him as a federal judge during the 1980s. And as attorney general, Sessions pulled back federal oversight of local police departments. He’s moved to prosecute anyone who illegally crosses the US-Mexico border, regardless of the conditions they’re facing back home, while pushing immigration judges to take on more deportation cases. And he’s even rescinded previous limitations on harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences for low-level drug offenses, and asked prosecutors to consider the death penalty in some drug trafficking cases. Furthermore, Sessions was an early Trump ally and a true believer with his boss on practically every single issue the Justice Department oversees whether it’s policing, immigration, prisons, or voting rights, all of which make up key parts of Trumpism. And because he so much embodied Trumpism is why I am happy to see him go. And it’s deliciously ironic that Trump removed one of his most loyal foot soldiers, which could imperil many parts of Trump’s agenda.

However, despite how it’s a spectacular blow to Trumpism, we shouldn’t celebrate Jeff Sessions’ firing. In fact, we should be very alarmed by it since the reason for his ouster is quite scary. In Donald Trump’s eyes, the ousted attorney general committed an unforgivable sin and act of betrayal that saw his ouster as a long time coming. For months, Trump has expressed anger which has prompted repeated questions about how long the attorney general would last. After all, Sessions has previously offered to resign at least once, which Trump refused to accept. But he’s also become Trump’s punching bag who’s had to endure tons of abuse all because he recused himself from the probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, when it came out he had met with then- Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak. This set the stage for the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who has repeatedly declined to fire him even at Trump’s request. Trump has also complained that Sessions wasn’t sufficiently loyal because, since then he’s failed to prevent Mueller from indicting a growing number of Trump confidantes and targeting others. Trump’s anger also transferred another gripe that Sessions wouldn’t investigate connections between Hillary Clinton and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. And in February 2018, Trump complained that Sessions wouldn’t corroborate his unfounded belief in the existence of a widespread conspiracy theory, led by federal law enforcement personnel to undermine his candidacy during the 2016 presidential election. Because Trump believes that the FBI tricked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to surveil former campaign member, Carter Page, based on a Democrat-connected Steele dossier. Yet, none of this is true. For one, the FBI investigation into the Trump campaigns Russian connections began when Trump aide George Papadopoulos drunkenly bragged about getting Clinton dirt from the Russians to an Australian ambassador. Second, surveilling Page was justified with ample evidence beyond the so-called “Steele Dossier” and was renewed several times by appointed judges all appointed by GOP presidents and selected for FISC duty by Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. Because they deemed the ongoing surveillance as fruitful. Now Mueller is currently investigating whether Trump’s alleged efforts to push Sessions out formed part of an endeavor to obstruct the probe, which would be a potentially criminal offense.

Now when a cabinet member resigns, you’d normally expect the Department No. 2 to take over in an acting capacity until a president hires a permanent replacement. In Sessions’ case, that should be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But Trump hates him since he’s overseeing the Mueller probe, has refused to fire Mueller, and doesn’t really care much about politics. So Trump tweeted that Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker would take over as acting DOJ head and will oversee the Mueller probe for the time being. Still, the fact he could either let Mueller do what he’s doing, curtail, or shut down the investigation should concern you. After all, Whitaker’s name cropped up in September as a replacement for Rosenstein when he appeared on the verge of getting fired himself. A former Iowa attorney, he’s the “eyes and ears” in the Justice Department, according to the New York Times. He’s also a fiscal and social conservative who unsuccessfully ran for the US Senate in 2014. Yet, what’s the most disturbing about Whitaker is that he was paid to sit on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing, which was ordered to pay a $26 million following federal legal action on allegations it tricked aspiring inventors into paying thousands of dollars to obtain patents and licensing deals for their inventions. As federal authorities noted, they “failed to fulfill almost every promise they make to consumers.” According to court filings, Whitaker received payments of $1,875 from the Florida-based company and sent a threatening email to a scam victim who complained to the Better Business Bureau, where he cited his former role as a federal prosecutor.

Still, why would Donald Trump tap in Matthew Whitaker as a temporary replacement for Jeff Sessions? Because while Whitaker aligns with Trump and Sessions on issues regarding crime and immigration, he comes with an added perk of having criticized the Mueller probe. In fact, Whitaker has expressed skepticism about the Mueller probe before joining the Trump administration as Sessions’ chief of staff in the fall of 2017. In August he wrote a CNN op-ed blasting the investigation which stated, “Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing. If he were to continue to investigate the [Trump family’s] financial relationships without a broadened scope in his appointment, then this would raise serious concerns that the special counsel’s investigation was a mere witch hunt.” In July of that year, he appeared on CNN offering his own take on how an acting attorney general could sideline Mueller. He said, “I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt.” Beyond this Mueller scrutiny, Whitaker has publicly lambasted Hillary Clinton. While serving head of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a right-leaning organization criticizing Democrats on ethics matters, Whitaker said in May 2017 that Clinton should be “extremely grateful” she wasn’t prosecuted for having a private email server. 3 months later, he wrote for The Hill that Clinton’s Ukraine connections were “worth exploring.” And let’s just say when a man dips into Clinton conspiracy theories, you know he shouldn’t be running the Justice Department.

But the truth is with Donald Trump firing Jeff Sessions and replacing him with loyalist Matthew Whitaker should literally scare the shit out of us. Indeed, Sessions was a terrible attorney general and an unapologetic racist sack of shit who’s been rolling back Americans’ civil rights. Granted, I don’t like the guy at all and part of me wants to feel glad to see him go. But while he’d do anything for Trump’s love, there were certain lines he wouldn’t cross. And it’s because Sessions wouldn’t cross them that he’s no longer attorney general. Nonetheless, Sessions’ firing should inspire the same surprise and anger on the level of May 2017’s James Comey firing as head of the FBI, which much of Washington treated as a serious crisis in American democracy. Because both cases have Trump nakedly assert power over an investigation’s direction while sacking people to block oversight into his own conduct.

However, this time, the panic is more muted. While Democrats and some Never Trumpers are objecting, Jeff Sessions’ firing doesn’t have the same earth-shattering impact the Comey firing did. And the fact Donald Trump has been signaling this move for awhile normalized it, routinized it, and made it thinkable. It probably didn’t help he did it the day after Democrats won control of Congress in the midterms. Yet, slowly but surely this is how the threat to American democracy has kept growing during the Trump era. Since actions once considered as inconceivable and abhorrent back in 2016 have become accepted parts of our everyday reality. They’re just facts of life in a country governed by Trump’s Republican Party.

As we know, the Robert Mueller investigation grew out of the firing of FBI Director James Comey as a way of protecting the Trump-Russia investigation from presidential interference. Since Day 1, Donald Trump has been raging against Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the probe. In addition, he demanded that Sessions either take control of the investigation or resign and let someone else do it. Ever since then, Trump has repeatedly violated the norms of governing the way a president should treat an attorney general and the Justice Department. For Christ’s sake, he admitted that the Comey firing was about the Russia investigation on national television. He’s suggested that the attorney general’s job should be defending the president, not investigating him. He blasted the “Jeff Sessions Justice Department” for bringing charges against Republican members of Congress before the midterms because it might jeopardize Republican chances of holding onto the House. Individually, each of these shatters longstanding norms of how a president is supposed to think and act about the Department of Justice. Yet, it’s harder to muster outrage over each one individually. Though disturbing as these incidents are, no single one constitutes the end of American democracy, or even the DOJ’s independence. But even if these little norm violations don’t make a big difference by themselves, they cumulatively amount to a major change in how a president gets to treat an agency that’s supposed to be a check on his power. The same thing happened, in microcosm with Jeff Sessions’ firing. Trump’s berating of the attorney general in public, the insults, the humiliation weren’t enough to incite intense public outrage. But they served together to construct a new normal when it comes to a president’s relationship with an attorney general. By the time we got to the actual firing and replacement with a loyalist, it felt less like a novel event and more like an inevitable result of an ongoing process. And it’s this what makes Trump’s approach to firing Sessions such a worrying moment.

While it’s difficult to see how American democracy would collapse would look like in practice, Donald Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions shows how democratic backsliding is possible. Since taking office in Hungary in 2010, President Viktor Orban spent the last 8 years setting up a system resembling democracy but isn’t actually one. He didn’t abolished elections, but gerrymandered parliamentary districts and seized control of the civil service administering elections. He didn’t ban the free press, but either bought up critical publications or forced them to sell to government-friendly allies. There was never a specific moment in time when you could say that Hungary wasn’t a democracy. It just evolved over time into something different and unfree. Same thing happened in Venezuela.

Nonetheless, Donald Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a serious threat to the health of American institutions. Even if acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker doesn’t fire Robert Mueller right away, it’s possible he could hamstring the probe behind the scenes with bureaucratic tools like refusing to approve Mueller’s indictments and subpoenas. Indeed, Whitaker has even floated the idea of cutting probe funding. He could run the same playbook of small fights over a major confrontation that helped him assume office without a huge public fuss.

Whether knowingly or not, Donald Trump is exploiting a weakness in the democratic immune system. Democracies depend on a motivated and involved public for their survival. But if politicians only take one small step away from democracy at a time, each one narrow enough to be justifiable by their political allies, then a systematic shift away from democracy and constraints on presidential power never ends up truly galvanizing the opposition. Since if you don’t give anyone a crisis point to rally around, you can get away with a lot. But the slow degradation of institutions and the normalization of an authoritarian approach to politics, makes any warning about a particular development seem out of proportion to the immediate threat. But let’s be honest about the big picture. Along with the public flagellation and eventually firing of Jeff Sessions, Trump’s approach to politics is damaging the foundations of American democracy. Though the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives is certainly a good thing and will provide a check for Trump, the threats of American democracy can’t be solved with one election. Since they involve big structural problems like polarization of elites and politicians, growing hatred of the opposition party, deep emotional affiliation with one’s own party, and white anxiety over the loss of control over American politics and culture that’s driving authoritarian impulses and conservative polarization within White America and the Republican Party.

Donald Trump of Mar-a-Lago

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From the moment in 1985 when Donald Trump decided to make Mar-a-Lago his personal castle, he has shattered the Palm Beach, Florida old-money conventions with the same thin-skinned, sue-you-in-a-heartbeat, self-congratulatory ethos which has made him such a mesmerizing character akin to a derailed train you want to ignore but can’t look away. As we’ve learned since 2015, you can’t write too much about Trump since he’s a narcissistic sociopath with no moral scruples and way more scandals than Henry VIII. Whether you like him or hate him, you can’t write too much about Trump since he’s an inexhaustible source of good stories.

The last of Palm Beach’s estates to stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway, Mar-a-Lago was a single-family of grand design. This Mediterranean-Revival style mansion had 118 rooms, including 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, 35 dining rooms, a ballroom, a theater, a 6 car garage, a 9-hole golf course, 3 bomb shelters, and a 75ft tower you could see for miles. Built in 1927 for cereal heiress and richest woman in America at the time, Marjorie Merriwether Post, she willed it to the federal government for use as a winter White House for American presidents after her death in 1973. Though the home became a National Historic Landmark, presidents didn’t use it while the federal government became sick of paying $1 million a year to maintain it. So the federal government gave the estate back to the Post Foundation who put up for sale for $20 million.

At the time, Donald Trump was a hotshot 39-year-old real estate developer who had opened his 58-story signature Trump Tower skyscraper in Manhattan. Eager to get the Florida mansion off their hands, the Post Foundation agreed to a bargain $10 million sale- $7 million for the property and $3 million for the furnishings and in a contract requiring Trump to only put down $2,812 of his own money. A Palm Beach County property appraiser later wrote in a court brief that anyone buying a “rabbit warren condo” in a lower-middle class neighborhood would’ve had to put more money down than Trump did. Nonetheless, Trump listed his purchase of Mar-a-Lago as an example of his deal-making prowess writing in The Art of the Deal, “I’ve been told the furnishings in Mar-a-Lago alone are worth more than I paid for the house.” Mar-a-Lago was “as close to paradise as I’m going to get.” Palm Beach County agreed by assessing Mar-a-Lago’s property at $11.5 million, which was 64% than he paid for it. This left Trump in a tough position of politically bragging about getting his spare mansion in Palm Beach for a bargain, while privately arguing in court filings he should get a tax deduction. He testified, “I paid the highest price for a piece of land that’s costing $2 or $2 ½ million a year to maintain. Maybe the tax assessment will force us to develop the land, which I’m sure won’t make the town very happy.” Except he didn’t. Furthermore, a 1988 Associated Press article depicts how Trump fought against a $200,000 property tax bill, which he claimed should’ve been half. Nonetheless, back in the 1980s, this was the kind of brash talk Palm Beach’s old-money aristocrats feared from Trump. Since he wasn’t the sort of genteel patrician Palm Beach’s Social-Index Directory favored. In fact, some regarded him as a gated community barbarian as well as a hustler too eager to impress. While his threat of chopping up Mar-a-Lago was an open of some rough relations on the horizon.

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While Donald Trump was trying to acquire Mar-a-Lago, he launched another real estate venture called Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches. However, he ended up selling about 100 out of 221 condo units as well as borrowed $60 million which he couldn’t pay back. In the end, Trump lost his financial stake in the project and the bank took over.

While his Mar-a-Lago investment was in doubt, Donald Trump launched another local real estate venture across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach. The property was an ailing 33-story, twin tower complex that a Palm Beach developer had lost in foreclosure. In 1986, Trump bought it for $40 million cash which was $3.2 million less than what the Bank of New York paid to reclaim the property at a public foreclosure auction. And like Mar-a-Lago, it was becoming a deal he couldn’t afford. Trump then renamed the West Palm Beach condo project after himself while spending millions to spruce up the Trump of the Palm Beaches’ public areas and advertise the sale of its luxury condos in Northeastern newspapers. Trump said at the time, “This is not a very large deal for me, but it’s a quality deal. We expect a lot of people in Palm Beach to be buying apartments for family, et cetera.” But after 4 years of heavy promoting, he only managed to sell 100 of the 221 units, which was less than half. In addition, Trump borrowed $60 million from the Marine Midland Bank of New York to pay for the project, which he couldn’t pay back. In 1991, 2 months before filing for corporate bankruptcy on his Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, Trump turned over the Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches to Marine Midland Bank of New York for his $14 million personal guarantee on the loan. The bank unloaded the unsold units in a fire-sale auction accepting bids of $75,000 for units previously priced as high as $470,000. Yet, because he can’t admit to personal failure, Trump took a victory lap saying, “It’s great for me because I get off a guarantee. Only because of the success of the development could I have done that.”

However, Donald Trump was still trying to find a way to salvage his Mar-a-Lago deal. So he didn’t want to give his Palm Beach neighbors the notion he was really drowning in debt. So after the bank sold off units from Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches, Trump took out a full-page ad in The Palm Beach Daily News, which read: “This is an advertisement to explain the great success of a development, Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches, which many people, until recently, had not been fully aware. When I look at Trump Plaza from Mar-a-Lago, I am proud that even in the horrendous real estate market of the early 1990s, I was able to rescue this previously troubled and unsold development, add management, construction expertise and the name Trump … and make it into one of Florida’s greatest success stories.” It didn’t mention that he completely lost his financial stake in the condos or how the project actually achieved full occupancy. So basically, Trump took an ad bragging about his “success” of his Palm Beach condo project, which was actually a total failure that he lost to the bank. Nor did that “success” change the fact that Trump still couldn’t afford Mar-a-Lago as a single-family home. And nobody was coming along to relieve him from the deal on “paradise” he had made.

Donald Trump’s proposed solution was to chop his National Historic Landmark into something he called the Mansions of Mar-a-Lago. This was a development that would put a public road running through the middle of the estate, leading to the 10 mini-mansions he’d build on the property, including one on the front lawn. But the Palm Beach Town Council shot down all of Trump’s proposed changes to the property, even when he reduced his mini-mansion plans from 10 to 7. Instead, they encouraged Trump to find a buyer if he couldn’t afford to keep the estate intact. After all, New York packaging magnate, Nelson Peltz had spent $21 million to buy Palm Beach oceanfront estate Montsorrel, 2 years after Trump bought Mar-a-Lago. So the town council advised Trump to just buy another Nelson Peltz to take the estate off his hands. However, as we all know, Donald Trump didn’t act on the Palm Beach council’s advice. In fact, when the town government refused to bend to his demands, he sued. The lawsuit against the Town of Palm Beach would eventually cause his neighbors to lawyer up against him. One of these lawyers told The Palm Beach Post at the time, “There are rules around here, and those rules apply to everyone, whether or not you have a famous name.”

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When Donald Trump’s Mansions of Mar-a-Lago plan fell through, he decided to turn it into a private club it is today. Naturally, the Palm Beach Town Council took him on it since it was an all around win-win situation.

After Palm Beach rejected his Mansions of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump found another way to salvage his stake in his property. He offered to drop his lawsuit if council members allowed him to convert his estate into a new private club on the island. Since so much of Palm Beach social life was dictated by club memberships, this was a tempting offer. This was especially since there hadn’t been a new club on the island for a quarter century. In the deal, the town would get to have Mar-a-Lago remain in appearance it was in the Merriwether Post days. While Trump could unburden himself of its expenses by selling off memberships while maintaining his property ownership. Membership would be capped at 500, not including spouses and children. The initiation fee would be $50,000 with $3,000 annual dues (fee is now $200,000 with $14,000 in annual dues and charges $2,000 for meals). Members would get to dine, swim in the pool, and attend private parties and special events with world-class singers, lecturers, and entertainers. The town eventually approved the club.

But many Palm Beachers were still reluctant to trust Donald Trump. Socialite Tamara Newell said at the time, “A lot of people like to think Palm Beach is a little more genteel and old money. This is a new-money idea at an old-money location.” And approval of the club only gave them more reasons to peck at him. Now a lot of these disputes in the 2016 Politico article I read about his war with Palm Beach consist of a lot stupid shit like wedding fireworks, attendance limits to an Elton John AIDS concert, or changing the coat of arms to put Trump as an advertising ploy. While Trump is known for being notoriously petty, Palm Beach is filled with petty rich people and a town government that once banned shirtless joggers for tackiness and scented its sewer water with lilac and honeysuckle fragrances. Such petty disputes between Trump and the rich set of Palm Beach don’t seem to interest me much. Mostly because I care more about Trump deliberately screwing people out of their money or using intimidation tactics to get his way.

Yet, there is a telling incident in the 2016 Politico article on Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago that’s very telling, especially on his insatiable appetite for self-promotion and the media’s role should be. In the first January after his divorce from his first wife Ivana was final, Trump’s publicist called all the local TV news and newspaper outlets in Palm Beach County to say that Trump was about to hold the party of all parties for that Winter’s Palm Beach social season. The publicist explained that one reporter from each news outlet would be allowed to attend this party-of-the-year to mingle with a guest list of invited celebrities such as Tom Selleck, Slyvester Stallone, and football star Herschel Walker. Frank Cerabino was on the guest list to cover the event for the Palm Beach Post. But it turned out his role at the party was far more complex than he imagined. Writing for Political in 2016, he recalled, “As the real guests arrived, which included busloads of fashion models from Miami, I was part of a local media contingent who wasn’t allowed to actually come into the party, but instead would form a visual tableau of over-eager reporters playing the role of gate crashers to those who would see us as their cars drove up to the portico of the mansion.” He continued, “Trump left us standing in his driveway in a little cluster. We were unaware, at first, of our role. But he couldn’t help coming over to wring out every last drop of publicity for the night.” In other words, Cerabino and the local reporters were at Mar-a-Lago to make him and his party look good as props. Going out of his way to show that he was winning divorce (like you can even do that), Trump invited a national TV reporter Judd Rose and his crew from ABC’s Prime Time Live show, into his home as guests for the weekend. Rose and his crew eventually filmed the money shot of the invitees, but shunned the local reporters yelling across the driveway to Trump to let them in. While Trump made a shooting gesture as if to wave them off and later described the reporters in the driveway as those who invited themselves to the party. Over the years, Cerabino has learned that Trump admires or despises journalists based on how useful they are to him while his sense of humor doesn’t include anything directed to him.

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One of the biggest Donald Trump disputes of legend at Mar-a-Lago was when he put up an oversized American flag on a tall pole at the resort. This incident would later be lampooned on The Colbert Report.

In 2006, without getting a permit and variance, Donald Trump put up an 80ft tall flag pole with a 15 x 25ft flag flying from it on his Mar-a-Lago resort. Since Palm Beach restricts residents flying flags no bigger than 4 x 6ft and on pole no higher than 42ft, he knew he was plainly inviting a lawsuit by out-flagging his neighbors. Taking the bait, the town council cited the oversized pole and flag as town code violations and fined Trump $250 for every day the display remained on his estate. In retaliation, Trump responded, “The town council of Palm Beach should be ashamed of itself. He went on Nancy Grace’s TV show to complain about Palm Beach’s lack of patriotism. Then, ignoring the town’s violations, which grew into a $120,000 fine and counting as of 2016, he filed a lawsuit against Palm Beach for $25 million in damages to what he called an abridgement to his constitutional right of free speech. Trump eventually dropped his flag lawsuit white town waived its fines. As terms of a court-ordered mediation, he’d file a permit and be allowed to keep an oversized pole on Mar-a-Lago that was 10ft shorter and on a different lawn spot. He was also called to donate $100,000 to veterans’ charities.

Tucked into Donald Trump’s patriotic posturing was a completely unrelated legal but more important matter: a complaint about the town code requiring large commercial enterprises to be “town serving.” Under this ordinance, Palm Beach requires proof from local businesses that local residents contribute at least 50% of their business to them. For instance, when Neiman Marcus opened in Palm Beach, the town allowed it as long as it only advertised in the local newspaper, and not in publications to shoppers not living on the island. For Trump, eliminating the “town serving” requirement would mean he could offer more memberships to his Mar-a-Lago social club to people with no Palm Beach connections, making it easier for him to keep his club full. Creating a distraction on the flag issue to pursue some other angle is a classic Trump move. Though he has yet to get this particular exemption waived, Palm Beach knows that Trump’s lawsuits never get settled, they just become dormant. While one of his Palm Beach lawyers told Politico in 2016, that the “town serving” issue is still unresolved and ripe for more litigation.

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Also in West Palm Beach is the Trump International Golf Club. Donald Trump got this made out of a dispute with the county airport. Though he wanted the jail moved, which he obviously didn’t get.

While playing defense against Palm Beach’s constant attempts to rein him in, Donald Trump went on the attack against the county and its airport. Airlines routinely used a flight path in and out of Palm Beach International Airport in nearby West Palm Beach that brought the planes directly over Mar-a-Lago. This didn’t sit well with Trump, arguing that the noise and fumes were ruining his investment, and that the decent thing for the county to do was to move the airport farther west. Actually Trump had been arguing that for years, to no avail. Acting like a spoiled brat not getting his own way, he called airport director, Bruce Pelly, among other things, a “moron” and “the worst airport director in the country.” It turned out to be a useful gripe for Trump, which he could turn into a new business opportunity. For just south of the airport was a 214 acres of vacant scrub land owned by Palm Beach County, which he wanted. So like any rich spoiled adult, he sued the county for over $75 million over the airport noise. Only to negotiate to drop that lawsuit in exchange for the county giving him a 75-year lease on the nearby property for $438,000 a year. That land became the Trump International Golf Club, a $40 million, 18-hole, Jim Fazio-designed course that imported nearly 2 million cubic yards of dirt to transform the flat scrub into hilly terrain with waterfalls, rock formations, a clubhouse 4 stories above sea level. While planning to open the course with initiation fees starting at $100,000, Trump wanted the county to do one more thing for him: move the jail. Because no matter how much landscaping he brought to the course, there was no way disguising the 12-story Palm Beach County Jail towering over the course’s north side and was visible from some of the holes. So as he had done with the airport, Trump asked the county to move the jail. Naturally, they refused, while the sheriff found the idea amusing.

Yet, Donald Trump’s war with the Palm Beach International Airport hasn’t quelled. When the airport considered expanding by adding another runway, Trump threatened another lawsuit. Though the expansion never came, Trump sued the airport again in 2016 for $100 million from county taxpayers for the sooty residue left by planes flying over Mar-a-Lago. Still, perhaps his actions aren’t about the airport, which he’s using for leverage to get what he wants but can’t have at the moment. Because Trump is always at war and woe to those who stand in his way.

Over the years, Palm Beach has gradually come to accept Donald Trump’s outsized personality along with his private club as more of an asset than a potential source of trouble. Mar-a-Lago has hosted many glittering social events, charity balls, and political fundraisers. As a concert hall, it has housed Palm Beach Opera shows and performances from top-notch entertainers like Celine Dion and Tony Bennett. As town officials moved on, their successors gradually loosened their tight reins on the club, easing the restriction on the numbers of outdoor beach barbecues it would allow, permitting the construction of an outdoor pavilion, and allowing the club to build a 14,000 sq. ft. kitchen on the grounds so waiters don’t have to use golf carts for hauling food inside and outside the mansion. Trump has also figured how to pay less taxes on Mar-a-Lago. By giving up development rights on the land to the National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation, it eliminated the county property appraiser’s ability to tax the place on the “highest and best use” standard that contemplated the estate can be still chopped up into lots and sold off. Yet, while Trump has become a Palm Beach fixture, it would be wrong to say he’s mellowed for he never does.

But that doesn’t mean Donald Trump’s presence hasn’t disrupted Palm Beach life in recent years. In fact, since his election to the presidency, his stays at Mar-a-Lago have raised issues not seen since he was a private citizen. Since they involve security and the impact his visits have on people and businesses in Palm Beach. Nowadays, whenever Trump resides in the Palm Beach region, the area becomes a zone of temporary flight restrictions affecting flights and other air operations within a 30 nautical mile radius. Coast Guard and Secret Service secure the 2 waterway approaches, ocean and lake. While the Secret Service cordons off streets to Mar-a-Lago. At Latana’s Palm Beach County Park Airport, the situation is dire. Whenever Trump is at Mar-a-Lago, Federal Aviation Administration restrictions ban all flights out of that airport, which is one of the busiest of its size in the country. It doesn’t help that the airport receives most of its business on weekends and holidays, particularly during the winter at peak snowbird season, when Trump would most likely be there. For instance, by the third weekend of February 2017, the Palm Beach County Park Airport had been shut down for 3 consecutive weekends, accumulating significant financial losses for multiple businesses. So to put it this way, as president, Trump’s visits to Mar-a-Lago during the winter have basically costs Palm Beach County millions of dollars in lost revenue from tourism. The county is also worried about the police overtime it’s racking up, which could be $60,000 a day.

While Donald Trump may give plenty of things for Palm Beach locals to talk about, there are other aspects we should discuss. First, since Trump became president, his visits have cost taxpayers millions of dollars for federal security detail, which has gone to the Trump Organization’s coffers. But it’s very clear that he’s making money off his presidency. Nonetheless, Mar-a-Lago club members enjoy the fact having Trump president gives them personal access to political power during his visits. In fact, since his inauguration, guests have been flocking to Mar-a-Lago to catch a glimpse of him. But the fact access to a president can be bought for thousands of dollars at his private club should worry every American. And it should make it alarmingly clear that Trump is a man of and for the 1%. Already, ProPublica claimed that a trio of ultrawealthy Mar-a-Lago members are effectively running the Department of Veterans Affairs in influencing policy and making personnel decisions. In fact, a veterans’ group has sued the VA over it.

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Here is Donald Trump with Melania and Barron posed with Mar-a-Lago’s employees. Most of them have HB-1 visas despite that Palm Beach locals were perfectly willing to do those jobs.

Second, despite Donald Trump’s self-promotion as a “champion” for US workers (which he isn’t), Mar-a-Lago has consistently hired a predominantly foreign workforce. He claims the local workforce is unwilling to do the work and that his foreign employees are best suited for the jobs. Except that’s not true. In 2016, The New York Times reported that over 200 locals had applied to work as cooks, waiters, and housekeepers since 2010. Only 17 of them were ever hired. Also, as with many Trump enterprises, there are plenty of wage theft complaints from contractors and employees. Given that foreign workers are easier to exploit since they can be threatened with deportation if they don’t toe the line, perhaps that’s why Trump prefers to employ them over locals.

Furthermore, The Palm Beach Post reported that Trump scored visas to hire 70 foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago for the 2017-18 tourist season. Third, in January 2017, Mar-a-Lago’s kitchens were hit with 13 health and safety violations, including 3 that were called “high priority.” Inspectors claimed that meat wasn’t properly refrigerated and could be unsafe for consumption, undercooked or raw fish that hadn’t undergone proper parasite destruction, and not maintaining coolers in proper working order. Another inspection in November resulted in 15 more health citations, according to the Miami Herald. In January 2018, Mar-a-Lago was cited for maintenance violations which could’ve posed a threat to public health, safety, and welfare like broken staircases, improper food storage, and inadequate smoke detectors.

Then there’s Mar-a-Lago’s security and cybersecurity woes. In recent years, Gizmodo reported that hackers found 3 of its networks as so weak that they could’ve breached the systems within 5 minutes. The 3 hackers behind the article claim they made the discovery using a 2ft wireless antenna from on board a 17ft motor boat parked offshore. Though Donald Trump’s company has expressed confidence in its cybersecurity as spokeswoman Amanda Miller told Gizmodo, “Our teams work diligently to deploy best in class firewall and anti-vulnerability platforms with constant 24/7 monitoring.”

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In April 2017, we have Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe receiving news of North Korea launching a nuclear missile in Japan’s direction. Note the classified information being shown in the cell phone screen.

Speaking of security breaches, Donald Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago afford an unprecedented opportunity for eavesdropping and building dossiers on his routines and habits along with those in his inner circle around him. Add that with each repeated visit, the security risk escalates. As former Obama official David Kris told TIME, “The president is the biggest, richest intelligence target in the world, and there is almost no limit to the energy and money an adversary will spend to get at him.” According to former Secret Service agents, the security setup at Mar-a-Lago and Trump’s other private clubs presents challenges to the agency wasn’t built to deal with. Since the Secret Service’s main job is to protect the president from physical threats and monitoring for wiretaps and other listening devices. Not from the kinds of counterespionage challenges presented by the president’s choice to eat, sleep, and work at a club accessible to anyone who can get a member to invite them in. White House visitors must go through a rigorous background screening before they’re let in the door. Agents scan every visitor’s full name, birth date, Social Security number, city of residence, and country of birth. Gaining entry at Mar-a-Lago doesn’t require that degree of disclosure. Sure guests entering the club have to pass multiple security checkpoints staffed by Secret Service agents looking for weapons or other immediate threats. But there’s only one requirement to produce a photo ID, while the club doesn’t ask guests to provide their names or other information as they enter through the main wrought-iron gated door. At public events, attendees are only asked to provide their name. Since has Trump has become president, the lax security measures can make Mar-a-Lago a free-for-all for spies.

Hell, spies don’t even need to go to Mar-a-Lago to do their work. In early 2017, lists of the club’s nearly 500 exclusive dues-paying members were leaked to the news media, giving foreign intelligence names of potential targets for surveillance, bribes, or blackmail that could help them get closer to Donald Trump. In addition, a page on Mar-a-Lago’s website (which is accessible to the public with just a little search engine sleuthing), reveals the names, work email addresses, and phone numbers for more than a dozen critical club employees, including the managing director, the housekeeping director, the official in charge of food and beverage services, and the chief of security. All would be obvious targets for operatives trying to get information on Trump or others in his entourage.

Mar-a-Lago may be a winter White House for Donald Trump. But since his inauguration, it has become another political arena where one with wads of cash can have access to political power. Indeed, plenty of these guests are rich people from old money. Though others can be politicians, foreign dignitaries, and corporate heads wanting something in exchange for their service. This can be donations, but it can also be policy that could affect our lives and not for the better. Yet, it’s another arena that can be prone to spy infiltration from eavesdroppers listening into conversations which can compromise our national security. Since it’s already happened in 2017. Nonetheless, we must be wary when Trump goes there since his visits are marketing events and he’s used his trips to make money off the presidency, which is a very clear conflict of interest.

 

The Wonderful World of Album Covers (Fifth Edition)

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While you might have noteworthy covers like the Fleetwood Mac Rumors album, there are plenty that aren’t on the standard radar. Mostly because they’re not very memorable since they normally feature the artist and the title. Yet, do a Google search and you’ll find plenty of album covers that can quite ridiculous. A lot of them can be unintentionally funny, creepy, or inappropriate. While some of them can be more risque than you’d think they be, considering if the release date was before 1970. Some can just be plain weird, especially if they’re sci-fi inspired or aimed to children. Nonetheless, most of these musical acts typically remain unknown. Though you’ll find a noted singer or band once in awhile. So for your reading pleasure, I give you another treasure trove of crazy old album covers. Enjoy.

  1. Moe Bandy: I Just Started Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today
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You can’t find a more country album like this. Apparently, his wife left him, his dog died, his pick up truck broke down, and he almost went to prison. And he probably has a drinking problem.

Moe has never been the same since Sandra left him for Pablo the pool boy.

2. The Beatles: Yesterday and Today

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Yes, even the Beatles had their share of terrible album covers like a the infamous butcher cover. Fortunately for collectors, this one is worth a lot of money.

Unfortunately, even the Beatles weren’t above mutilation.

3. Ivory Chuck: Ivory Chuck at the Ivories

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Ivory Chuck can always be handy with the piano keys. Yet, mess with him and he’ll strangle you and dump you in the river.

Hustler by day, lounge musician by night.

4. Ferrante and Teicher: Blast Off!

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One guy is lying with his legs up on the piano like he’s supposed to be in zero gravity. Star Trek this is not.

Unfortunately, they didn’t qualify as space camp material.

5. If the Bomb Falls: A Recorded Guide to Survival

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Sorry, but I don’t think this album has any good information on surviving nukes. Seriously, if a nuke dropped where you live, you’re most likely to die.

Need to know about surviving nukes? This album will tell you everything you need to know.

6. Music for Dreaming

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And yet, they lie in street clothes in the snow. Outside a village with very small people. My guess they’ll end up like Gulliver before they wake up.

Finally, a album you can play while you sleep.

7. Dwayne Smith: “Get Directly Down”

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Nonetheless, Dwayne is determined to hold a beach concert as a low-budget Elton John with his keyboard and amplifier in tow. While his trusted dog is by his side.

Why directly? Was “Get Down” already taken?

8. Esquivel: Exploring New Sounds in Stereo

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Then again, to explore new sounds in space may require a way larger telescope than he could muster. And they wouldn’t sell it in stores.

And yet, he’s using a telescope.

9. Si Zetner and His Orchestra: The Swingin’ Eye

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Someone must’ve been on acid to design this cover. Seriously, you’d think she was from the VFD strip club from A Serie of Unfortunate Events.

Featuring a large eye with a lady’s butt and legs.

10. Warren Barker and His Orchestra: William Holden Presents a Musical Touch of Far Away Places

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Here William Holden sits in the study with a nervous smile. Hoping the band doesn’t play the “Colonel Bogey March.”

Apparently, the bongos is making William Holden feel cramped.

11. The Stanley Johnson Orchestra: Have Harp Can’t Travel

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I’m sure any concert hall would have a harp there. I mean almost every one of them has a piano.

Yeah, I don’t think you can fit that in a tour bus.

12. Si Zetner and His Orchestra: High Noon Cha Cha Cha

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Sure she’s topless and wears high heel sandals. But ogle at her bare rack long enough and she’ll take you out her six shooters.

Featuring the notorious Ta-Ta Jane, the best topless straight shooter in the Old West.

13. Music to Light Your Pilot By

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Wonder what the pilot’s going to do with that large wooden propeller. Hope he’s not thinking a threesome.

After all, pilots need music while having sex, too.

14. Maya Angelou: Miss Calypso

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Yes, that’s Maya Angelou herself dancing to the fire in a strapless dress that she could stick her leg out. I know it’s kind of uncomfortable to see her this way.

Here you can listen to the great American poet and author sing calypso music.

15. The Incomparable Robin Hood Band: Spectacular Sounds

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If you had to wear a humiliating marching band uniform in high school, imagine having to dress up like Robin Hood while playing professionally. Because these guys look totally ridiculous.

Hear the music from this band of merry men.

16. Living Strings: Music to Help You Stop Smoking

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Wonder what kind of songs would be on this album. And wonder if that music helps people to break the habit.

Because if you need to quit, put on this record while going cold turkey.

17. Music to Keep Your Husband Happy

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Indeed, this is album is meant to be played during sex. Nonetheless, I’m sure Barry White and Marvin Gaye are somewhere on the listings.

Includes booklets inside to spice up your love life.

18. Fun’Da’Mental: Erotic Terrorism

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This is by a British Muslim hip-hop group from the 1990s which is still around today. Yet, the cover seems ripped from a foreign film about a guy with a thirst for revenge.

You don’t mess with this man with a gun.

19. Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves, and Other Truck Driver Favorites

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And yet, the cover features a truck stop waitress. Mostly because they think sex sells somehow.

If your job takes you on the road, here’s the soundtrack for you.

20. The Gateway Singers

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Yet, the outfits are much to be desired. Seriously, plaid sport coats and drapery dresses?

They’re just a wholesome group in front of a cabin.

21. Ron Johnson: “Happiness” with Ron Johnson

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Here he has his guitar in the garden. While he sings, “The Tax Returns Don’t File Themselves.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Ron from accounting would like to sing a song for you.

22. Jeff: Something Special from Jeff

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From Mental Floss: “Poor Jeff looks like death warmed over, from his Herman Munster tan to that funeral director suit. I just hope the ‘something special’ he’s got for us doesn’t involve that hook.”

Presenting something special by the all incomparable Jeff.

23. Rusty Warren: Knockers Up!

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They seem awfully close to one another while drinking martinis. I think I know where this is going.

This drummer always knows how to turn on the charm.

24. Alan Gardiner Accordion Band: Play It Again

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Oh, God, you don’t want to have 4 accordions in a room like that. That’s not a party. That’s torture.

With accordions you’ll always have a party.

25. Zillertal Band: Beer Drinking Songs by the Zillertal Band

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Yes, this album features a lot of German drinking songs. And a couple of guys just have to enjoy a beer with a barmaid who might be a Vulcan.

Finally, an album you can play for Ocktoberfest.

26. Millie Jackson: E.S.P

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Nonetheless, the crystal ball seems to magnify her boobs. Since the ball is almost totally transparent.

Millie Jackson sees all, knows all.

27. Elin Proysen and Egil Johansson: Med et Smil

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This is from Norway. Still, on the bright side, despite being stranded on their car, their music could attract flood rescuers.

Just because you’ve been flooded on the road, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun making music.

28. Mohamed El-Bakkar and His Oriental Ensemble: Port Said Music of the Middle East

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Still, it features a very scantily clad belly dancer that would infuriate many Muslims today. Besides, are those nipple pasties?

Be transported to exotic places with music from the Middle East.

29. Li’l Richard and His All Stars: Happy Easter

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Yet, he probably got that nickname while in prison for armed robbery. And no, I don’t think the bunnies soften his rough-hewn image.

No, he’s not that L’il Richard.

30. The McKeithens

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I mean the one woman has a beehive that’s straight from the 1700s. And yes, this is a Christian album.

Brought to you by Marie Antoinette hair products.

31. Jean Pierre Jumez: The Nimble Fingers of Jean Pierre Jumez

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Seriously, is this guy even wearing pants? Maybe I really don’t want to know.

He’s a musician so dedicated to his art that he practices on the toilet.

32. Siegfried Schwab & the Voice of Rosy: The Fabulous Guitar from Bach to Almeida

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Ironically, Johann Sebastian Bach wasn’t known for being a perv. In fact, he was a family man known for fathering 20 kids with 2 wives.

Didn’t know Bach was into women in pink bodysuits.

33. Sister Mary Bernadette O.P.: Sister Sings of Many Things

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So what kind of things does she sing about? Okay, I know religious music is most likely. But for all I know she could be singing about pina coladas or something.

There’s not just one singing nun out there.

34. Daniel DiCarlo and His Orchestra: Moonlight Madness

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Indeed, she’s touching the whiskers of a guy in a tiger suit. An early example of furry fandom at its finest.

Featuring Ginger and her tiger friend.

35. Buzz Martin: Where There Walks a Logger There Walks a Man

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Monty Python lumberjack-transvestite jokes aside, loggers aren’t known for their resilience. Should more appropriately be titled: Where There Walks a Logger There Walks a High Insurance Risk.

Because lumberjacks are the pinnacle of manliness.

36. Willeta Boren: Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord

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And yet, the wind has no effect on her large hairdo. Thanks to copious amounts of hair spray.

Here we have Willeta walking on the sand.

37. Black Sabbath: Born Again

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Man, that’s one freakish baby. Even has devil horns, fans, and claws. Still, Black Sabbath is a metal band so this isn’t out of the ordinary for them.

Featuring the infant spawn of Satan.

38. Cody Matherson: “Can I Borrow a Feelin?'”

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From Mental Floss: “Cody had the great honor of having his album title stolen by the writers of The Simpsons: in the episode “A Milhouse Divided,” after Milhouse’s dad loses his marriage and hits rock bottom he records a terrible album called “Can I Borrow A Feeling?” Sounds like Matherson should borrow a lawyer.”

By the hunkiest man from the trailer park.

39. The Melachrino Orchestra: Music for Daydreaming

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Yet, she feels quite inadequate with her life. With a boyfriend who won’t give her the time of day and a dead-end job, Blanche often sought to live a fantasy life.

Brought to you by the woman reading her book with a yellow rose.

40. ET: Best Friends

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Seriously, his pants have seashells on them. Also, comes across as a rap artist Eddie Murphy would parody on SNL during the 1980s.

Featuring his seashell pants.

41. W.W. Bauer, M.D. and Florence Marvayne Bauer: Explaining Sex to Your Little Girl: A Common Sense Guide to Growing Up

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Yeah, this is pretty awkward. And here the girl sits on her dad’s lap as he explains periods.

Need to explain sex to your daughter? This album could help.

42. Gary Dee Bradford: Gary Dee Bradford Sings for You and You and You

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Look into his eyes and you’ll see a soulless child from the Village of the Damned. Don’t let his smile fool you.

Here the voice of the kid who seems like he’d kill ants with a magnifying glass.

43. The Gospel Four: The Gospel Four Sings “I Won’t Walk Without Jesus”

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Seriously, look at their coats. Also, the woman’s bouffant is so garish. In addition, they seem like they’re watching a squirrel do something funny.

Sponsored by red denim.

44. Tex Ritter: Tex Ritter Sings “Happy Hands!”

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After all, children need clean hands in order to strangle the living daylights out of you. Seriously, those kids appear to be the stuff of nightmares.

Said to be “a song that teaches the value of clean and busy hands.”

45. Moscow Nights: Popular Russian Hits

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Apparently, they don’t party very hard in Russia. Though I think the happy couple dancing must be drunk on vodka. Since the others have blasé faces.

Listen to the popular music of Russia.

46. Music to Massage Your Mate By

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However, this woman’s face says, “Not feeling it.” While the guy could almost pass for a 1970s porn star.

Rub down your mate with a collection of these tunes.

47. Weela Gallez: A Hysterical Evening with Weela Gallez

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And yet, she dresses like she’s just been on vacation. Still, that face as she’s holding her monkey in sheer horror is priceless.

Caption: “My turtle’s dead!”

48. Julia & Barbara the Blind Slye Twins: It’s Me Again Lord

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Sure they can’t see a thing. But they’re bound to haunt your dreams with their big hair and thirst for blood.

Hear the songs of Christian twins you wouldn’t want to run into at a haunted hotel.

49. Tubby Boots: Tubby Boots Goes Topless

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Yet, that doesn’t mean you should put nipple pasties on your man boobs. Also, is that a centurion helmet?

But why do an album on that?

50. W.A.S.P: Animal (F**k Like a Beast)

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I’m sure any guy looking at this album cover would freak out over the saw in the crotch belt. Seriously, that looks really painful.

Brought to you by the crotch ripper.

The Wonderful World of Vintage Postcards (Seventh Edition)

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I usually do postcards in early August. But since I had to NFL and College sports posts as well as some articles on our Pussygrabber-in-Chief, it kind of slipped under the radar. Anyway, in late June, I went to Minnesota for my cousin’s wedding at St. Cloud since his wife is from there. And my parents, my sister, and I spent the next few days playing tourist in both St. Cloud and Minneapolis. In St. Cloud, you can see the Beaver Islands and Quarry Park. In Minneapolis, there’s the Walker Art Center, Minnehaha Falls, the American Swedish Institute, and the Mill City Museum. And yes, Mall of America does exist there. But come on, it’s just an enormous temple of conspicuous materialism with an overpriced amusement park. The only place worth seeing is the Lego store, nothing else. Anyway, there are plenty of vintage postcards out there that can show just about anything. So for your reading pleasure, I give you another treasury of crazy vintage postcards you won’t find at any souvenir shop.

  1. Fasten yourself to this metal horn.
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Yes, it’s another one of those old German torture postcards. And you can see the crowd laughing at him. Hey, at least you don’t live during the Middle Ages.

2. “Someone just took a dump at the corner of Maple and Elm Street.”

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Yeah, you have to feel bad for that guy in the wheelbarrow. Always having to clean everyone else’s messes on the street.

3. You’ll find all kinds of scenes inside this metal man.

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Actually, it seems like a guy inside a metal contraption. With the scenes depicting all the bad stuff he’s done.

4. Study hour is always a time for reflection.

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And yet, this kid fantasizes about the football game. Some things never change.

5. Protect your home from intruders with a safety guard.

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Actually, almost everyone has these. Seriously, they’re not really a big deal save the price.

6. Check out this papaya in St. Petersburg’s Sunken Gardens.

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While the term is a pejorative slang for a woman’s nether region in Cuba. So they use “fruta bomba” instead.

7. See the magnificent prehistoric creatures at the Phosphate Valley Exposition.

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Mr. Mastadon is utterly incensed that all the other giant mammals are on his lawn. Prepare to be gored.

8. Enjoy Swiss music and dance with Helmut and Ingrid in Miami.

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From Bad Postcards: “After the performance, I want to walk up to Ingrid and give her a big hug and kiss. Helmut, on the other hand, scares me a little.”

9. You’ll always have fun in the sun at the Blue Mist Motel.

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Apparently, I have no idea why the pillars seem to resemble Dr. Seuss like tennis rackets. Located in Miami.

10. It’s always amazing to try exotic new foods.

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And I think that guy’s about to say something racist. While his wife’s trying to keep a smile on her face to hide her embarrassment.

11. “Discover for yourself our complete line.”

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And yet, she’s decked in the most scantily clad hula skirt I’ve ever seen. While she has a bunch of thin skits strategically placed at her breasts.

12. “Just specify the shape you want.”

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I’m sure this postcard is totally photoshopped. Seriously, the light on the woman doesn’t match the light in the background. Also, is she just wearing a red sheet?

13. Just a fair catch at the Florida Keys.

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From Bad Postcards: “The dog at bottom left looks like he’s ashamed to be included in the picture.”

14. Would you want it in pink or blue?

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Either way, they seem like a couple of freaky old guy faces with sunglasses. Also what’s with the ears and legs?

15. Chief Halftown is a bowler supreme.

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From the back: “A full-blooded Seneca Indian, Chief Halftown has traveled thousands of miles in helping thousands of youngsters learn to enjoy the fun of bowling. There are Chief Halftown Junior Bowling Clubs in over 200 cities in the United States and Canada.” Wait a minute, I don’t think warbonnets are Seneca Indian garb since they’re Iroquois.

16. There’s always one in every bar.

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You mean a horse’s ass? Indeed, I can believe it. Since we already have a horse’s ass in the White House.

17. Protocertops once roamed the Gobi Desert.

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But I’m sure some people might see it as a combination between a Triceratops and a parrot. Seriously, look at that beak.

18. Any of these beautiful candles will make a great gift.

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These are great for entertaining your guests in the basement area where you smoke your pot to the Grateful Dead. Wonder if any of them are scented.

19. Hans and Alice Grossniklaus sell their cheese from their Alpine Cheese chalet mobile.

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And yet, they keep their van open. Despite that cheese often needs refrigeration.

20. Enjoy a toast to fine Alpine wine.

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While Heinrich was fine in his lederhosen, Bertha already had a few drinks. Besides, she thinks that Heinrich looks idiotic in his lederhosen.

21. “Stop Mastitis with Masti-Kure.”

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I think it has something to do with cows since they’re in the background. But there’s a nice collection of large syringes.

22. With Trip-It, you can feed songbirds with ease while baffling squirrels.

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I’m sure squirrels will eventually figure this out. Also, stuffed birds not included.

23. Greetings from Lizzard Butte, Idaho.

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Okay, I can sort of see the point with this rock formation. Yet, for a place called “Lizzard Butte” the sight is disappointing.

24. You can wear this scarf 4 ways.

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Looks include the Pilgrim, the choir singer, the shaky collar, and the preacher. Available at all retail outlets.

25. Come and marvel at the world’s largest cereal plant.

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If anyone wants me to admire an industrial plant, the architecture has to be amazing. This is not.

26. Sagebrush is Nevada’s state flower.

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Apparently, this postcard really doesn’t show the sagebrush’s splendor. Seems more like a bunch of desert bushes.

27. “Here’s the paper, here’s the ink, and here’s the toner.”

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I guess this is a very old timey printer. Yet, despite her smiling, Gladys isn’t exactly thrilled with showing the new recruits how to maintain one of these stupid machines.

28. Come to the Steiff Museum to see Susi and Fiffy.

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The cats are actually fine in this. But the taxidermy mice are straight from nightmares.

29. The office coffee maker should always match the table.

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She seems so happy getting the coffee at the office. Too bad she can’t poison it before giving the cup to her boss.

30. Enjoy the taste of Valleydale Honee Weenees.

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You know weenee also has a different connotation. Also note the guy on the left on the wrapper has a very long trombone.

31. Having a party? They’ll cover your catering.

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On second thought, I don’t think so. Most of what’s on these platters is disgusting. Save for the cake and buns.

32. Aluminum siding is an investment in better living.

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The house isn’t quite bad. But the chimney sort of seems like the owner’s trying to signal to aliens.

33. Shop and win this imported ceramic decorator set.

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Comment from Bad Postcards: “Holiday generosity – or passive aggressive rage? Innocent holiday table-ware – or slightly disguised alter pieces to H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder Gods?”

34. Wow your guests with Wetzstein’s all white meat cooked turkey.

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What the hell is this? I heard it’s called turkey cake. However, I think it’s really disgusting.

35. Anyone could enjoy these fireplace logs.

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Actually these are fake and only used for decoration. Also, the fires seem like they’re electric and don’t seem to ignite well.

36. A lady’s razor always needs a stylish pouch.

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The razor should also be decorated with painted flowers. Oh, and you should shave in front of your vanity instead of in the bathtub.

37. Buy from us and we’ll give you this “Gracious Living” set.

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And it’s on rooster pattern. God, this looks really ugly. Seriously, why?

38. Feel free to dine in The Wolf’s Den.

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Here Lula comes across her ideal man. Big, strong, and unapologetically savage.

39. In a mood for a catfight?

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It’s just a taxidermy depicting 2 cougars fighting. Nonetheless, it almost looks like the real thing. Almost.

40. Come down to Miami to meet Alan Shepard, John Glenn, and Scott Carpenter.

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Yet, all these guys have had their souls removed after returning from earth. So they’re all now lifeless zombies wandering the planet.

41. Come in and dine at Ft. Lauderdale’s Polynesian Room.

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Includes Polynesian cuisine and quality entertainment. Introducing scantily clad women with hula skirts and shirtless men. Check out the neon tiki images.

42. Wheatlands Motel gives you all the necessary amenities.

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“Home of the Blue Angels while in Garden City, Kansas.” Too bad their bright orange flight suits reminds me of prison uniforms.

43. “Having fun at Bradley Beach, New Jersey.”

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Don’t really seem like having fun to me. Not even the kids. Then again, they must’ve just seen Chris Christie pass by.

44. New York’s Georgian Hotel has a heart-shaped tub in every room.

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I don’t know about you. But if I were that woman, I wouldn’t spend one more minute in that tub with her creepy boyfriend. Seriously, he looks so creepy. Also, the mirrors really kill the mood.

45. Bob and Jimmie Nusca serve the Lord in Bangladesh.

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They seem more like doctors than missionaries. While the husband seems like an old Dr. House on happy pills.

46. In Van Nuys, California, come down and eat at the Valley Ho.

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For God’s sake, this is a family restaurant like Denny’s. Not a whorehouse. Who’d even have such a demented idea?

47. Greetings from Dancing Waters in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

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Seeing this neon light and fountain display, you’d think Wisconsin Dells was the Midwest equivalent to Las Vegas. Not sure if it’s true. But did they have to use all that red?

48. Here we come to a man harvesting peanuts in Dixie.

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On one hand, peanut cultivation wasn’t widespread until after the American Civil War. On the other hand, the South employed blacks as sharecroppers in agricultural work. Either way, I’m sure he’s not harvesting peanuts on his own land or for a sufficient wage.

49. Check out this gigantic power dam.

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It’s called the Moses-Saunders Dam, which extends from Canada to New York. Wonder if a beaver can build anything remotely like that.

50. Cardinal Francis Spellman meets Pope John XXIII.

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To have wax figures of either man like this is pure blasphemy. Also, someone doesn’t seem to like Spellman too much since he looks like a corrupt churchman.

51. Wish you were here at Auburn Prison.

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I don’t know about you. But why the hell would anyone want to visit a prison town? It might be nice. But the town is built around a prison.

52. Here we have 2 bull moose duking it out in the forest.

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Located in Gaylord, Michigan. Still, this seems more like a painting than a taxidermy display.

53. If you think your life is bad, look at a cow who’s stepped on her udder.

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Sorry, but I don’t think a cow can step on her udders. Think it’s physiologically impossible.

54. Mr. Tibbles closes in for the kill.

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Here a he climbs a tree to catch a bird carrying a salt shaker. So he really means business.

55. Come and enjoy the hunt for deer and duck in the great outdoors of New Jersey?

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When I think of New Jersey, I don’t imagine people hunting. Mostly because people don’t go to New Jersey to hunt animals.

56. It’s no wonder Birmingham, Alabama is seen as the “Pittsburgh of the South.”

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This postcard should actually read, “Greetings from Hell.” Because it looks more like a place where bad people go when they die.

57. These water skiers show a display of their Southern pride.

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While at best they’re showing their racial insensitivity and willful ignorance to Civil War history. At worst, they’re proclaiming to the world that they’re racist.

58. At Finocchio’s you’ll find fabulous female impersonators.

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Think of it as the old-timey version of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Some are even dressed from the 1920s.

59. The University of Illinois presents the Luther League of America.

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Comment from Bad Postcards: “At first I thought this was Lex Luthors secret society lair. Not just from the name, they honestly look pretty similar. “

60. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

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Indeed coffee may be strong. But Rosie’s added some arsenic, strychnine, and cyanide to enhance the flavor.

61. Perhaps you’d like to drop by for harvest time in Montana.

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I’m sure Montana has more interesting scenery than this. So they grow grain there, big deal. Can’t they have more pictures of Glacier before global warming makes it disappear?

62. Perhaps you’d like a large gourmet dinner with lobster.

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I’m sure the dinner doesn’t come cheap. Still, the soup looks really disgusting.

63. Death Valley is the Devil’s golf course.

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Wrong, everyone knows the Devil’s golf course is Mar-A-Lago in Florida. Or in Bedminster, New Jersey. Or wherever he owns a golf club.

64. Would you like to hear a poem about the seahorse?

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They forgot to mention that the female lays her eggs in the male’s body before she takes off. While the babies hatch inside him. Yes, seahorse reproduction is very messed up.

65. “Don’t you ever get tired of the same old bull?”

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If used as an expression, it’s not that bad. But if you use cows, then there’s a sexual connotation. Though to be fair, most farms would usually have one bull anyway.

66. Make the season jolly with R&R Toy.

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How could that baby sit beside that demonic man in the red suit and not sense any danger? Because the Santa’s about to put that child through a world of pain.

67. This group always dons the robes with the white hoods.

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For a second, you’d almost take them for cult members. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised.

68. Enjoy some South Sea fun at a Florida luau.

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While she dances, the drummer behind her watches her move. If he loses a beat, you know he’s distracted.

69. This dog wishes you a Merry Christmas.

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Look, a dog in a Christmas gift box may seem cute. But for the love of God, please don’t give live puppies or any other live animal for Christmas. A dog is a decade long commitment and responsibility, not a present since many Christmas puppies end up abandoned.

70. “Now, where did I park my car?”

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If you’re asking that question in a high snowy place like this, you might be in trouble. After all, that car can be several feet up in snow by now.

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover – Well, Most of the Time (Seventh Edition)

Whenever you go in a library, you’re bound to find all kinds of interesting books out there. You might see novels that might tell you a compelling story. You might want to know something more about a subject like animals, science, or history. Some might be manuals offering advice on certain aspects of life like dating or parenting guide. While some may be books geared for our own entertainment. Nonetheless, what all books have in common is that their cover usually serves as a marker on the shelves. And over the years I’ve done posts like these, I’ve found plenty with covers that can be downright strange. So for your reading pleasure, I give you another installment of insane book covers. Some of these might not be safe for work by the way.

  1. Two Guys Noticed Me and Other Miracles by Marjorie Sharmat
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And she seems to prefer one over the other. With the guy she’s more partial to sporting a mullet.

Since when is it a miracle that 2 guys notice you?

2. Snakes on a Sudoku: Official Snakes on a Plane Puzzle Book by Francis Heaney and Conceptis Puzzles

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Other similar titles are Crocodiles on a Crossword, Wendingos on a Word Search, and Cockroaches on a Cryptogram. Also, that Samuel L. Jackson quote doesn’t really do this book justice.

In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, “I’ve had it with these mother fucking snakes no this mother fucking sudoku.”

3. Surf Safari Nurse by Jane Converse

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Nurses go on an awful lot of thrilling, sexy adventures in Romance Novel World. I’m pretty sure it’s a trick played by the nursing industry to recruit the unsuspecting. You never see ‘Bedpan Duty Nurse’ or ‘Love Among the Gangrene Cleanup Crew.'”

Apparently, nurses prefer surfers for some reason.

4. Thong on Fire: An Urban Erotic Tale by Noire

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “This sounds more like a Chiller Channel Original Movie than an erotic novel. He lurks in the shadows outside the University For Totally Hot Chicks Who Study, Like, Science and Stuff. Just when they think it’s safe to sit down, the THONGBURNER strikes!”

A scorching story not for those with flammable underwear.

5. Chap Foey Rider: Capitalist to the Stars by Hayford Pierce

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “This looks thrilling. I can’t wait to get to the part where he files for a small business loan…in space! (Original title: Cousin Blobby and Ming The Merciless Go To The Goddamn Bank.)”

No, this isn’t about the life of Elon Musk.

6. After the Downfall by Henry Turtledove

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Admit it, Turtledove. You wrote this just so you could commission a painting of a Nazi riding a unicorn.”

Even Nazis love to ride their unicorns.

7. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Enhancing Self-Esteem

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However, we have too many idiots with very high self-esteem like Donald Trump. Seriously, the guy is a complete narcissistic sociopath who thinks he can get away with shit.

For the idiot who needs to believe in themselves.

8. Pigeon Wigs and Extensions by Chlorine Windle

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Pigeon wigs? For God’s sake, these birds look totally ridiculous in those hairstyles. Why do books like this even exist?

Now those pigeons at the park can look fabulous.

9. When You Touch Yourself an Angel Dies: How Your Child’s Filthy Habit Is Destroying America and What You Can Do About It by Douglas and Rosalie Gale

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For God’s sake, you’re going to shame kids over masturbation? How is that destroying America? I don’t understand it since I can think of a hundred worse things like Donald Trump and white supremacists.

Talk to your kids about the evils of masturbation.

10. The Caves of Death by Victor Norwood

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From the Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Maybe they’d be a little less deadly if you wore pants, Thongbad the Mighty.” Yeah, because he’s basically dressed like a guy in a 1970s porn movie.

About a mighty man who’d slay a fire-breathing dragon in a pair of skimpy leopard print underwear.

11. Everything Happens to Stuey by Lillian Moore

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Wow, this book looks incredibly exciting! I can’t wait to…ZzzzzZZZzzz”

And yet, he’s shown fixing an alarm clock.

12. Eat and Stay Slim by Better Homes and Gardens

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “I assume the plan consists of soaking all your food in the bizarre swirly mustard/poison concoction in the gravy boat. “That’s disgusting. I’m not eating that shit!” There! You cut a lot of calories!” Actually a great way to stay slim is to cook and eat at home.

Now you can cook your way to weight loss.

13. The Adolescence of P-1 by Thomas J. Ryan

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Also, I wonder if the rocket has any kind of subtle symbolism. Like as sexual awakening.

I’m it was absolutely hellish if your name is P-1.

14. The Agoraphobia Workbook: A Comprehensive Program to End Your Fear of Symptom Attacks by C. Alec Pollard Ph.D. & Elke Zuercher-White Ph. D.

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Then again, agoraphobes are usually out of their comfort zone when they’re out of the house. Still, you have to wonder what’s inside this book.

If you’re afraid of the outside world but have to interact with it, this book is for you.

15. How to Survive an Atomic Bomb by Richard Gerstell

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Actually my advice to surviving an atomic bomb is basically to hold your loved ones close and kiss your ass goodbye. Because your odds of survival are highly unlikely.

A survival guide to getting through World War III.

16. How to Avoid Matrimony by Herald Froy

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Depicts a cave woman with a wooden club chasing a guy. Seriously, I’m sure there’s plenty of sexist bullshit inside it. And you thought hookup culture was just a millennial phenomenon.

Recommended for the rogue men who want to play the field.

17. Awaken the Genius in Your Child Through Positive Attitude Training by Nicola M. Tauraso, M.D. and L. Richard Batzler, M.D.

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Yet, you have to wonder why they chose a cover depicting a girl being struck by lightning without being electrocuted. Obviously, she must be a mutant. Time to call Professor X.

Think your kid is a genius? Use positive reinforcement with this book.

18. Billi Gordon’s You’ve Had Worse Things in Your Mouth Cookbook by Billi Gordon

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Aunt Jemima caricature aside, a cookbook with a title like that doesn’t really inspire confidence in this woman’s cooking talents. Seriously, I’m sure the recipes inside won’t look remotely appetizing.

Well, at least she’s honest.

19. The Beast with the Red Hands by Sidney Stuart

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “The shadowy figure skulked out of the darkness, and an unearthly chill went through the room. Lady Ebonyheart Ravensblood turned around in shock, dropping her cursed amulet on the floor. Her face twisted into a grimace of disgust. ‘Steve, take those stupid red mittens off. I don’t care how cold it is. You’re seriously ruining the atmosphere here.'”

Like Twilight but with more death and blatant relationship abuse.

20. Beauty Contest Nurse by Dianna Douglas

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Sure, she’s killed several patients due to gross incompetence. But she’s so pretty!”

“But, doctor, I can’t assist you in the operating room today. I don’t want to damage my manicure.”

21. What Makes a Teenager Say….Sometimes I Feel Like a Blob by Ethel Barrett

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Note: when you want to draw a blob, don’t use brown. Because when you draw a brown blob, it resembles a turd.

Because some days you just feel like shit.

22. Brainwashing Is a Cinch by James Maratta

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Okay, this seems pretty disturbing. Besides, I can see how easy it is to brainwash people during the 2016 campaign. Seriously, the fact Donald Trump manage to win the presidency with 63 million votes scares me to this day.

The #1 recommended self-help book for any aspiring cult leader and fascist demagogue.

23. Vampire Voles: A Welkin Weasels Adventure by Gary Kilworth

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Terror in the pasture! SEE animals with tiny little bites on them! THRILL to the amazing hero weasel armed with his wee wooden stakes! BEWARE…no small-to-medium size vermin is safe from…VAMPIRE VOLES!”

They may look cute but these critters want to suck your blood.

24. Cat Massage by Maryjean Ballner

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Indeed, this is another crazy cat book. Not sure how you can give a kitten a pat down.

Want to learn how to massage your cat? This book is for you.

25. Castles in the Air by Christina Dodd

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “I think I may have found the greatest romance novel of all time. Why? Count the princess’s hands.”

Here’s a medieval romance between a knight and his 3-armed lady.

26. The Real McCoys and Danger on the Ranch

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “They look awfully cheerful for people in danger. Maybe they don’t realize they’re driving off a cliff.”

Apparently, they don’t seem aware of it on the cover.

27. Cry Havoc by James D. Forman

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: ” This rare treasure of a novel tells the rip-roaring story of the McKenzie brothers and their loyal dog Hosehead fighting the Nazis, who apparently took that ‘Great White North’ thing a bit too literally.”

Apparently, you might want to avoid the giant hell hound.

28. Woman Doctor by Sloane Britain

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “I can believe ghosts physically manifesting from psychological unrest. Interdimensional space travel, sure. But a woman doctor!? Ridiculous!”

Finally, a book that’s about a woman doctor. Hooray for feminism!

29. Dreamhouse by Christopher Fahy

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Pfft. That’s not scary. Every house in Maine has a doll like this in it. You get used to it pretty quick.”

“Come and play with me.”

30. E-Mail Addresses of the Rich & Famous by Seth Godin

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Wonder if this guy’s ever heard of doxing. Because he’s practically doing it. Would like to know how many people sued this guy.

Now you can send an e-mail to your favorite celebrities.

31. Entertaining to Please Him by Taylor Bradford

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Because men prefer a woman who’d be a perfect doll and hostess at the party. Seriously, look into her eyes and you’ll find nothing there.

The #1 bestseller in Stepford.

32. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Jay Gatsby isn’t a hardboiled playboy. Also, he picked the wrong Daisy. Seriously, I read the book.

“When it comes to loving…He knew which Daisy to pick!”

33. The Official Gay Man-ual: Living the Lifestyle (or at Least Appearing to) by Kevin Dilallo and Jack Krumholtz

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To be honest, there’s really no right way to be a gay guy. So you man’s men around here, you do you.

Are you a gay man who’s come out of the closet? This is the book for you.

34. Global Warming: a Pop-Up Book of Our Endangered Planet by Sandy Ransford and Illustrated by Mike Peterkin

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Look, I know that global warming needs urgently addressed. But doing it with a pop-up book isn’t really the way to go.

It’s basically Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth for kids.

35. Have a Happy Measle, a Merry Mumps, and a Cheery Chicken Pox written and illustrated by Jeanne Benedick with Candy Benedick and Rob Jr.

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Look, I know this book was probably written decades ago. But now that we have vaccines for all of these, we shouldn’t let them make a comeback. Yet, anti-vaxxers think vaccines cause autism despite evidence to the contrary.

Because being sick with incredibly contagious diseases is fun.

36. The Truth About the Homosexuals by Dr. Hugh F. Pyle

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “The horrifying truth: they could have designed us a much nicer looking book cover, but our pride in being crazy assholes to everyone is more important than such worldly concerns. I really have to wonder what the F stands for. Nah, I think I know…”

For an anti-gay book, the pink glitter doesn’t help matters.

37. Why Not the Best? Why One Man Is Optimistic about America’s Third Century by Jimmy Carter

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Of course, you’ll find a lot of naïve platitudes in here. But understand that Carter was much younger and innocent then.

Wonder what today’s Jimmy Carter would think about this today.

38. How Not to Kill Your Husband by Kevin C. Hutchin, M.D.

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Listen, if your marriage is so bad that you’re thinking about getting this book, you might need marriage counseling. If you’re Amazing Amy from Gone Girl, well…

Husband giving you trouble? This is the book for you.

39. Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “If there isn’t at least one “horse’s ass” joke in this, I’m going to be very disappointed.”

Catered to anyone who likes a woman’s chest and a horse’s ass.

40. Knitting with Balls: A Hands-On Guide to Knitting for Men by Michael Del Vecchio

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Funny how he’s got needles in one hand and a couple of yarn balls in the other. Still, wonder what projects they have in it. Camo tea cozies?

Finally, a book about knitting for men.

41. The Legacy: A Birthright of Living Death by John Coyne

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “This is Mr. Wibbles. He is a 5-time grand champion Persian cat, and his hobbies include loafing on the sunny spot on the floor and chasing the ball with the bell in it. Do not piss him off.”

This time, Fluffy means business.

42. Liberace Cooks! as told to Carol Truax

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “*crunch* Ow! Who put these goddamn rhinestones in the spaghetti!?” Also, kind of unusual to see Liberace dressed in plaid shirt like a normal person.

Know how to make a rhinestone salad.

43. Looking Forward to Being Attacked by Lt. Jim Bullard

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This cover basically tells women to be afraid, be very afraid. I guess there’s something about carrying guns. At any rate, that’s no way to live.

Because someone could try to kill you at any moment and anywhere.

44. Church Members Who Make God Sick by John R. Rice D.D., Litt. D.

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Wonder what kind of church members make God sick. Is it the self-righteous hypocrites who see nothing wrong with shaming and screwing the poor? Let’s hope so.

Man, someone must have an axe to grind for the Lord.

45. More than Magic by Kathleen Nance

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From the Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Warlock Lord Abraxxas Sexington carefully prepared for his dark magic ritual, making sure all the reagents were in place. Mandrake root, check. Basilisk eyes, check. Store brand cologne and Hawaiian Tropic man-chest oil, check and mate.”

Want to make love with this hot wizard?

46. Nothing’s Impossible! Stunts to Entertain and Amaze by Jeff Sheridan

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Warning: Performing some of these stunts will result in grievous injury that will send you to the emergency room. Also, the guy’s like “No, not the dining chair! Dear God, not the dining chair!”

Want to impress people at a party? This book is for you.

47. You’re Either One or the Other: A Children’s Book about Human Sexuality by Joy Wilt, Illustrated by Hergie

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But keep in mind that Gender is a spectrum and social construct. Also, trans and intersex people exist.

Also called, My First Sex Ed Book.

48. The Pantyhose Craft Book by Jean Ray Laury and Joyce Aiken

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From the Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Why, what a lovely and unusual quilt you’ve made, Muriel. I’ve never seen one quite like it. What’s that fabric?”

Got a lot of ripped up pantyhose you don’t know what to do with? Do craft projects with them.

49. Preparing for Contact by Lyssa Royal and Keith Priest

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Then again, it might not be a romance. He might be probing her brain or perhaps steal her soul.

This science fiction romance is a real meeting of minds.

50. The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Shhh. Don’t tell him…he’s adopted.”

Bill Cattington always suspected he was different.

51. Still Hungry- After All These Years: My Story by Richard Simmons

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Don’t like the way he’s biting on that fork. Seriously, that looks so creepy.

Learn about the life of fitness guru Richard Simmons.

52. Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men by Rosey Grier

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By the way, he’s a former NFL linebacker for the LA Rams. Yes, you read that right.

Because real men do needlepoint.

53. Sarah T. Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic by Robin S. Wagner

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This girl seems to have a really terrible problem. Since she can’t let go of the booze at 13.

Follow the sensational story of a teenage drunk.

54. How to Sell Your Car for More than It’s Worth by Gregory C. Hill

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Look at the guy posed with the car and he dresses like a shady used car salesman. And you know those guys are notorious for ripping people off.

If you got a clunker you need to get rid of, this is the book for you.

55. The Skunk and His Junk by Pam Scheunemann

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It’s actually perfectly suitable for children. However, the title just results in all kinds of shits and giggles for anyone 12 and older.

It’s just a book about a skunk and his junk.

56. Mommy, Why Is There a Server in the House? by Tom O’Connor, Ph. D.

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “Well, Jenny, it’s because it’s used for…uhm…internet…something. You know what, I don’t know either, and it’s probably boring anyway. Just don’t touch it, because that large heavy thing that I don’t know the purpose of is expensive as hell.”

Parents, talk to your kids about you stay-at-home server.

57. The Pirate City by Michael Robert Ballantyne

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Because all those guys seem like futuristic soldiers. Not 19th century Barbary pirates in Northern Africa.

Those guys don’t look like pirates to me.

58. The Breeze Horror by Candace Caponegro

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From The Museum of Bad Book Covers: “One of my favorite cover subjects is horror books about completely un-scary things. Grrr! Those curtains’ll teach you to call them ugly and claim they clash with the wallpaper!”

Boy, Frankenstein’s monster sure has a large mouth.

59. Cornerstones of Freedom: The Story of Watergate

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Man, those pictures aren’t very flattering. Still, this was a scandal when most Americans actually cared about presidential integrity. Because there was no such thing as Fox News to fill white conservative voters with so much outlandish conspiracy theories and have white supremacists on their primetime shows.

Kids, now you can learn about the story of one of the darkest moments of American history.

60. Y2K-9: The Dog Who Saved the World by Todd Strasser

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Now if this dog hacker can go after the Russian hackers backing Donald Trump. That would be great. Still, you can’t take this seriously.

About a dog hacker who’s such a good boy.