God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen on These Christmas Treats (Fifth Edition)

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Food has always been essential to a Christmas feast since the holidays are a time for friends and family. On any platter you may find turkey or ham as a main course along with so many other delights. While desserts often feature Christmas cookies shaped like Santas, reindeer, trees, and other icons of yuletide yore. In any case, a large Christmas table often leads many to list weight loss on their New Year’s Resolutions which they’ll never fulfill. Anyway, over the years I’ve done an annual Christmas treat post featuring plenty of unique food this holiday season. Though many of these treats are professionally made, some don’t seem hard to make at all. Yet, I’ve found most of them on Pinterest or on Google Images. So for your reading pleasure, I offer another assortment of Christmas delights. Enjoy.

  1. A reindeer cake should always include golden antlers.
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It also contains golden ears and red nose to indicate it’s Rudolph. Even has jingles on the collar.

2. Watermelon Christmas trees are a delightful yuletide treat.

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This just has Christmas trees cut out from watermelon. May not be green, but they’re simple enough.

3. Nobody could resist this penguin cake.

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This guy wears a Santa hat with a bough of holly. While its face is just so adorable you want to eat up.

4. Would you like a train on your plate?

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This mostly consists of graham crackers, whipped cream, and M&Ms. Great for kids to make for themselves.

5. Do you want to build a snow tree?

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They’re actually cake balls or donut holes. Includes holly boughs as decoration.

6. Bet you’ve never seen a fruit tree like this before.

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This is a fruit platter decorated as a Christmas tree. Includes apple slices, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

7. These pretzel reindeer seem rather thin.

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Well, these are made out of pretzel sticks of varying thickness. Not sure what the red nose is made out of though.

8. Grace your holiday dessert platter with these Christmas tree peanut butter blossoms.

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These mostly consists of peanut butter blossoms decorated like Christmas trees. Includes green icing and sprinkles.

9. These Santa star cookies certainly shine during this holiday season.

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Well, they’re just star cookies decorated with Santa faces. Great for any holiday party during the season.

10. A snack platter should always have a Christmas tree cheese ball.

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Though it’s all covered in olives with a yellow pepper star. Will certainly shine at any office Christmas party.

11. These melting snowman meringues will melt your heart.

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These meringues have snowmen melting to their detriment. Features are made from icing.

12. Christmas tree cupcakes will always make your season bright.

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Though the snow is covered with coconut which I don’t like. But I love the pretzel trees.

13. Hope you have an appetite for these chocolate penguin truffles.

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Indeed they have raisins but I usually go on looks when I do these food posts. Still, they may not be from the North Pole, but they’re adorable.

14. Please your guests with a slice of peppermint cheesecake.

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Well, it’s more of a peppermint pudding cake. Since peppermint is a major flavor during the holidays.

15. Perhaps you might enjoy a bun from a tree.

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These buns contain cheese and garlic you can pull apart. Brought to you by Betty Crocker.

16. Two gingerbread men can really get tangled in lights.

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The lights consist of icing and candy. And yes, you can put 2 smiling gingerbread men entangled in them. So cute.

17. Snowman Oreos always make for a tasty treat.

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The Oreos are dipped in white icing. Eyes and smile are made from chocolate chips. While the carrot nose is candy corn.

18. Take a bite out of these wreath cookies.

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Each of these has a feathered wreath of icing. Like the bows, too.

19. Would you like some holly and berry cookies?

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Both are covered with red and green icing. While the real life counterparts are nothing to touch and taste at.

20. A holiday cake should always contain tasty treats.

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This one includes tree cookies, gingerbread men, and candy canes. And all on a layer of dripping chocolate icing.

21. You’ll find plenty of snowflakes inside this snowman cookie.

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Though the snowflakes are made out of sprinkles. Perfect for any dessert platter.

22. You can make a wreath out of holly cookies.

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Each leaf is white and green with plenty of patterns. And it’s all topped with a bow.

23. Impress your guests with this fruity Christmas tree.

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It’s made mostly of grapes and berries. While kiwi, cantaloupe, and orange slices consist of the decorations.

24. What’s not to love about these reindeer Rice Krispie treats?

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Each of these are dipped in chocolate with pretzel antlers, a red gum drop nose, and M&M eyes. So cute.

25. Nothing makes Christmas like a candy cane cupcake.

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These are chocolate cupcakes with candy cane icing and some peppermint on top. Wouldn’t mind eating them though.

26. No table is complete without a fruit wreath.

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Consists of grapes, raspberries, and orange slices. Great for any holiday party.

27. Care to take a piece of this wreath?

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Mostly comprises of green bean pods and cherry tomatoes. Not sure what those white tuffs are.

28. Marshmallow snowmen will always warm your winter days.

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They’re on sticks and hold Christmas trees. So adorable you’d want to eat them up.

29. These cucumber Christmas trees are an ideal holiday appetizer.

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Each of these are held together by toothpicks. Includes a cherry tomato base and a carrot star.

30. You can decorate an ornament cupcake in however way you want.

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Each of these baubles are in green, blue, and red. While they’re decked in unique designs.

31. Nothing warms people like these snowman cake pops.

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Each of these has hat made from a Reese’s cup and a Hershey’s Kiss. While each hat has a different color flower on it.

32. These fudge trees will always brighten your winter nights.

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Consist of evergreen trees on toothpicks in various shapes, sizes, and shades. While each can fit into a bowl of sugar.

33. Be in the spirit of the season with this Christmas cookie platter.

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Each of these have an assortment of winter icons in the holiday spirit. Love the penguins the best.

34. Perhaps you might want a pie with lights.

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Actually it’s an apple pie decorated with Christmas lights. They may not be in color but they sure shine bright.

35. Christmas cookies should always come with a box.

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These are gingerbread cookies inside a gingerbread box. And most consists of snowflakes in white and light green.

36. Serve your guests this holiday season with reindeer Sloppy Joes.

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You’d think these were all part of Santa’s sleigh team. Each has pretzel antlers and an olive nose. Save for Rudolph who has a cherry tomato one.

37. Care for a reindeer treat on a stick?

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Each of these is made from a chocolate cake with pretzel antlers along with a candy nose and icing eyes. One even has a holly sprinkle decoration.

38. This gingerbread village cake is pure winter wonderland.

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These are covered in pastel icing like a retro Christmas village. Love the snowflakes and trees.

39. You’ll always ring for joy with these jingle bell cake pops.

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Each of these is covered with silver icing. But they don’t ring.

40. Bring the holiday spirit with this snowman veggie platter.

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This one has a snowman cheeseball. Though it has a cauliflower head and bottom.

41. Make your holiday party festive with this ugly sweater cake.

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This is a different design than the one I showed in a previous year. Yet, you have to love the lights on the collar.

42. Perhaps you’d want this graham cracker fireplace as an ideal winter snack.

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Consists of 3 fruit-roll up stockings and a cookie hearth. The top mantle consists of holly sprinkles.

43. Grace your Christmas platter with this fruity wreath.

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Consists of grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Makes a perfect edible arrangement for the season.

44. Celebrate the season with a pesto stuff Christmas tree.

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I don’t think the star is fake. Yet, you have to like the cream cheese and cherry tomato ornaments.

45. Perhaps a Rice Krispie gingerbread house will suit you.

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Well, it’s made from chocolate Rice Krispies. Like the icing on the roof. So pretty.

46. Cream cheese Christmas trees are a quintessential yuletide snack.

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Wonder how big the crackers are. Yet, each tree consists of a pepper star, green herbs, and bacon.

47. Nobody could resist this Ho Ho reindeer.

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Includes a red candy nose, pretzel legs, a Reese’s head, and candy cane antlers. And yes, it’s so cute.

48. Bet you wouldn’t guess what’s in these cookie presents.

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You’ll find sprinkles and M&Ms inside. While each present is topped with a red bow.

49. A marshmallow snowman belongs on a sled.

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Well, a candy cane sled anyway. Yet, you have to love its pretzel arms. So cute.

50. Care for a reindeer candy cane?

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Rather, they’re candy cane cookies dipped in chocolate resembling reindeer. Love the pretzel antlers though.

51. If you like the country, this gingerbread birdhouse will do.

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Includes a bird and a more natural wreath. Love that blue roof by the way.

52. Snowman lollipops make a tasty winter treat.

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Well, I don’t know how to make candy. Though you have to love the snowman and snowflake sprinkles.

53. Wake up this Christmas morning to some Santa Claus pancakes.

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Unlike some other pancake Santas I showed in the past, his beard is made from banana slices. While his hat consists of raspberries.

54. Celebrate the holiday spirit with this chocolate Christmas tree.

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Even has chocolate presents under it. Wouldn’t mind eating this as long as it doesn’t contain any cherries or coconut.

55. You’ll have a lot of joy in this veggie platter.

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This one mostly consists of a wreath. And yes, the letters spell out “JOY.”

56. Hope you can munch on some Christmas tree bark.

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Well, it’s not Christmas tree bark you’re thinking about. Also contains candy cane pieces.

57. It’s possible you might prefer these present sandwiches.

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Most of these are ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread. But you can make them however you want.

58. A brownie Christmas tree will always warm your cold winter nights.

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Each of these has circular tiers and minty green icing. They’re also decorated with sprinkles for good measure.

59. Treat yourself this holiday season to some snowman cookie sticks.

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Though each of them has more than 3 snowballs on the body. Nevertheless, great to have with coffee.

60. Nothing makes the holiday season like a mouse Santa on his sleigh.

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Not sure why they have a candy mouse here. But you have to love its little Santa hat and suit. So cute.

61. Perhaps you might like a small cup of cocoa.

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These are mostly cookies with chocolate fudge and mini marshmallows. Also have pretzel handles.

62. For a Christmas lunch, serving tree sandwiches will do quite nicely.

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These often have red spots for ornaments. While inside, they’re filled with peanut butter and jelly.

63. Holly makes a nice touch to any cake.

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Though the cake is covered in coconut. Yet, real or fake, don’t eat the berries or leaves.

64. You’ll go “ho, ho, ho” over this Santa Claus cheese ball.

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Mostly consists of red peppers for the suit and hat. And I think cream cheese consists of most of the beard.

65. Feel free to eat from this Christmas tree snack platter.

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Most of this consists of bread, crackers, and dry meat. Love the cream cheese star on top.

66. Help yourself to some postage cookies.

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All of them seem directed to the North Pole for Santa. But don’t put them on your letter.

67. Perhaps you might want some gift tags.

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These are gift tag candies with holly on it. And best of all, you don’t have to write anything on them.

68. Anyone would like to have these reindeer pretzel snacks.

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Though none seem to be Rudolph since their noses are black. Nonetheless, they’re dipped in chocolate with pretzel antlers.

69. Oreo angels are nothing less than heavenly.

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Both sport rings and a halo. And yet, they seem to sing.

70. On Christmas Eve, it only seems appropriate to leave these cookies for Santa.

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These are Christmas pajama bottom cookies. And they’re all in different kinds of styles.

71. If you live in the desert, you might like this Christmas cactus cake.

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This one has lights and a star. You can even serve it in a pot like this one.

72. For healthier options, may I suggest these fruit Santas?

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These mostly consist of strawberries, Rice Krispies, whipped cream, chocolate chips, and marshmallows. Great for any dessert platter.

73. Impress your holiday visitors with a Christmas tree veggie tray.

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The tree mostly consists of broccoli and celery with yellow pepper and cherry tomato ornaments. Even has a star-shaped dip tray with a yellow pepper star.

74. Nothing makes your dessert platter like a marshmallow snowman cookie.

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Helps that the cookies are chocolate chip. Love the hats, too.

75. You’ll have peace on earth with this Christmas angel cake.

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The angel even has a garland with bells in the night sky. Sure it’s professionally made. But I think it’s cool.

76. Wake up this Christmas morning to some Christmas tree cinnamon rolls.

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These are covered by a green drizzle with candy decorations. Hope you get one while they’re hot.

77. A Santa cake will always set the season right.

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This one consists of cupcakes you can pull apart. Though this Santa doesn’t seem happy about it.

78. Throwing an ugly sweater party? Try these pizzas.

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You can put any toppings you’d like on for extra garishness. Except pineapple because that’s a cardinal sin as far as pizza toppings go.

79. Want to open this Christmas present cake?

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This one has a red ribbon and bow along with holly decorations. Hope it’s chocolate inside.

80. Make your Christmas party memorable with this Christmas tree cake.

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This one includes presents and a train track at the bottom. Nonetheless, this giant cake is simply spectacular. Love it.

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NSFW Elf on the Shelf (a. k. a. the Post I Ruin a Stupid Christmas Tradition) (Fifth Edition)

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Over the years, I have done posts showing parents the multiple ways Elves on the Shelves have been quite naughty behind closed doors. Indeed, every year during the Christmas season, Santa sends these red-clad spies to look into whether children are good enough to receive presents. Yet, this doesn’t mean the elves will be good themselves when nobody’s looking. I’ve often seen looking for incidents of elves behaving badly on the internet. And let’s just say a lot of these images aren’t suitable for an innocent child’s eyes. Nonetheless, parents have the responsibility on keeping an eye on the household Elf on the Shelf and report any shenanigans to Santa at 1-800-BAD-ELF1. In the meantime, feel free to look at another assortment of Elves on the Shelves behaving very naughty. By the way, many of these images are unsafe for work and aren’t for kids, naturally.

  1. Dinkler has a confession to make.
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Man, that elf is quite devious. Wonder if he was planning to sell these drugs. Then that makes me ponder what Santa’s paying these guys.

2. Grinley is all dressed in black.

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Is he planning to rob something? Or is he dressed up as a ninja? Don’t have a great feeling about either scenario.

3. What the hell is Oliver doing with that contraption?

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Well, I’m not sure what that thing is. But Oliver seems to use it as a vibrator, apparently. So it’s kind of disturbing.

4. Cringle had to come back for Walking Dead night.

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Here he is among the undead. Makes me wonder how he can last before a zombie bites him.

5. “Hello, Clarice.”

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Seriously, you don’t want to go near Quincy. For he has a ravenous appetite for human flesh.

6. Twinkie likes to do target practice in his spare time.

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Are those dead birds? Looks like it. So how did they get inside in the first place?

7. Rump promises to make Christmas great again.

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Though he may not be as scary as Donald Trump, he’s certainly terrifying with his spray tan and horrendous toupee. If your kid has him for their Elf on the Shelf, they’re totally screwed.

8. Rumpy wants to build a wall at the US-Mexico border.

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Sorry, but that wall won’t keep undocumented immigrants out of the US anymore than a life-sized version at the border which would be a massive waste of money.

9. What’s bursting from Elliot’s chest?

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Oh, God, that’s a xenomorph! Get out of the house and get Ellen Ripley on Line 1.

10. Norman likes to doodle in his spare time.

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Is that what I think it is? And I thought graffiti was bad.

11. Got something to say, Rennie?

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Is he dressed up as Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs? Indeed, he must be a very sick bastard.

12. Danny wants you to know that Winter is coming.

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This is straight from Game of Thrones. And the marshmallow snow figures don’t seem happy about it.

13. Jingler has Woody all tied up at the moment.

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And I don’t think this constitutes in kinky stuff. Yet, Woody doesn’t seem to mind, disturbingly.

14. Calvin and the dolls are in for a wild ride.

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Are they all in the dryer? This won’t turn out well.

15. Snowball has really gone downhill lately.

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He seems passed out on booze and pills. Guess someone’s going to rehab after the holiday season. If the North Pole features a rehab center.

16. Plinko always likes to browse the web.

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Hey, at least he’s not looking at porn. Rather, he seems turned on by gorgeous women in sexy Christmas costumes.

17. Wendell and his doll don’t care about the rules.

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The sign says: No Horseplay in Hot Tub. Yet, they don’t seem to listen. Though the tub is a glass bowl with marshmallows inside.

18. Tinker is the only player with his clothes on in this strip poker game.

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Then again, his clothes are basically sewn onto him. That can’t be said for these dolls.

19. Perry has a knack with a sharpie.

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Here he’s put mustaches on the whole family. I know he’s not respecting his welcome to the Hendersons’ home.

20. At least Petey tries to play it safe.

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Yet, that doesn’t excuse him from doing a 3 way with a couple of Barbies in a stocking. Also, what are those nooky pills?

21. “Take that, Ken Doll!”

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Man, Winkle’s really going to town with him. Hope he doesn’t hurt any onlooking Smurfs.

22. Clinker has a profound confession to make.

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So kids can’t touch him due to a court order. If that’s the case, he shouldn’t be an elf on the shelf, period.

23. Daenys is the Mother of Reindeer.

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This is a takeoff on Game of Thrones. She’s supposed to be Daenyrs Targaryen who keeps dragons. Yet, the antlers seem to blaze fire for some reason.

24. Tina wants to try on a new face.

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Yet, that face seems to come from a Mr. Potatohead Santa. And the spud is certainly not pleased.

25. “Congratulations, it’s a reindeer.”

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Look, I have no idea how this is possible. So don’t ask me to explain. Seriously, this is really fucked up.

26. Chinker wants to show that Elf Lives Matter.

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Yet, I don’t know whether this policeman is convinced. Though in his defense, the elf is pretty creepy.

27. “This house isn’t big enough for both of us elves.”

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So Rinko has to put Gregor Elf into a candy dish. Man, that’s so cold with the “It’s easier if you don’t struggle.”

28. Crumpet has a lot of explaining to do.

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Apparently, he’s confessing to running a young girl’s innocence with Princess Jasmine. Guess he doesn’t know the meaning of discretion.

29. Belle’s been distraught over the Beast and Dinkie.

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I know it’s so wrong on so many levels. And unlike Belle, I can’t bring myself to look away.

30. Apparently, Brumpet has a bit of a drinking problem.

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Perhaps he might want to lay off the wine. I know that spying for Santa is quite a stressful job as it is.

31. Beware of Wembley when he’s in one of his moods.

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This is a takeoff on the Saw series which I’m not very familiar with. Yet, you don’t want to see an Elf on the Shelf wielding a bloody ax.

32. Jack Sparrow Elf can’t resist his Southern Comfort.

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Though you’d think he’d be more of a fan of Bacardi or Captain Morgan. Still, the Jack Sparrow get up is spot on.

33. Freddy wants to try his talent in the kitchen.

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Yet, he seems to enjoy hanging around hte knives for some reason. And no, the sharp end shouldn’t stick out like that.

34. Starky wants everyone to know that Christmas is coming.

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Indeed, another parody of Game of Thrones. Like how the iron throne is made out of cutlery.

35. Seems like these 4 elves really let themselves go.

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This is a spoof on Duck Dynasty. And yes, it’s kind of strange to see these elves in long beards.

36. Grigsby doesn’t mind losing his head over anything.

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Yet, he seemed to spill blood upon decapitation. Still, the smile remains.

37. Roddy loves enjoying company now and then.

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Here he is wearing chains with 2 Barbies and a bottle of Smirnoff. Elf thinks he’s gangster doesn’t he?

38. Apparently, Elmer doesn’t have good taste in TV.

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Well, maybe he’s homesick for the North Pole. Still, there must be better things to watch than The Real Housewives.

39. “Say your prayers, Blinko!”

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Apparently, these figures had put up with his shit way too long. But could you hardly blame them?

40. Frankie loves the gangster life.

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Wonder what the hell he’s doing with the British Queen. Still, those who live the gangster life usually go down to a violent end.

41. Trinkler just wants to tinker with the baby’s car seat.

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However, I wouldn’t want to put him in the same car as the baby. Since he seems bent on sabotage.

42. What’s Elver and the Abominable Snowman doing in the toilet?

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Yet, the yeti spreads Elver’s leg over the bowl for some reason. And I really don’t want to know why.

43. Don’t worry about Axel. He won’t harm anyone anymore.

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Seems like he killed an alien, Ham, and a couple Ninja Turtles. Thank God Dexter took care of him when he did.

44. Nicky wants you to put your furs on since winter is coming.

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Indeed, this is another takeoff on Game of Thrones. Though the fur doesn’t seem like anything you’d find in Westeros.

45. “Decorate your Christmas tree with this!”

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Here Quinkles smashes a bauble like it can’t be easily replaced. But it can since you can find them at almost any store this time of year.

46. Flicker appears like he’s out for blood.

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Seeing he’s got fangs, you’d take him for some elf vampire. If he’s in your house, keep him away from your kids.

47. Dingle has been sentenced to death by firing squad.

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Here he’s bound and blinded with plastic wrap. As plastic army men are commissioned to do the grisly deed.

48. Somehow Stevie got into some dirty laundry.

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Seems like he’s sniggering over what he’s seen among hte clothes. If you want to kill him with fire, be my guest.

49. Looks like Marvin’s ingratiating himself well among the toys.

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Yet, they seem to play cards with bottles of booze beside them. I’m sure they’re gambling as well.

50. Flinker is desperate for fast cash these days.

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So he’s resorting to raiding Travis’ dino bank. You’d think an elf wouldn’t sink so low to steal money from a child.

51. Gary should know better than get between 2 witches.

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Because a love triangle involving witches won’t end well. Gary should be lucky he’s not turned into a toad by this point.

52. Gringy has a penchant for some crazy pranks that go too far.

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He’s written “Redrum” on the mirror with lipstick. Cue the family freak out a few minutes later.

53. Ringer wants these tampons to smell better.

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Yet, putting candy canes into tampons doesn’t help. Seriously, it’s a very terrible idea for so many reasons.

54. Lexo is always fond of animals.

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Is he humping that dog? And what are the plushies doing in front of the elf? Okay, I really don’t want to know.

55. “Draw me like one of your French girls.”

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This is straight from Titanic as you can see. But Alvie relishes in drawing nudes.

56. Dare to come under the sidewalk.

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This is from IT by the way. Yet, seeing Rinty and the creepy kid, I’ll take my chances with Pennywise.

57. Pinny is watching you.

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This is an Elf on the Shelf as Pennywise the Clown. And yes, he’s quite terrifying to incite nightmares.

58. Tinkle always likes to try new things.

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So it’s supposed to be like they’re lighting his farts. Let’s hope he doesn’t eat anything from Taco Bell during the month of December.

59. Clickel knows how to make an entrance on his makeshift sleigh.

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This mostly consists of a Coors Light box and beer bottle reindeer. So it’s not a wholesome Christmas image meant for a postcard.

60. Chris can’t go back to the North Pole without a souvenir.

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Here he seems to get Mrs. Malmsey’s bra. What a dirty elf to come into her house.

61. Jimmy wants to know what’s under the caroler’s skirt.

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The caroler even carries an expression of shock. Apparently, this elf has his mind in the gutter when it comes to dolls.

62. Denny knows how to communicate with those trapped in the Upside Down.

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This is a takeoff from Stranger Things. Remember when Will’s mom came up with this display to communicate with him?

63. Yulie has been left to the dinosaurs.

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He’s tied up to make a meal out of the dinosaurs. Hope he enjoys this small toy version of Jurassic Park.

64. Tony always needs to get his hit now and then.

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In true Scarface fashion, here he is about to sniff some coke while he’s holding a weapon. Don’t mention the mustache and gold chain.

65. I wouldn’t go near Lexie if I were you, Blinkerbells.

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She’s been somewhat pale lately. Like she’s an undead zombie who’d infect you with her bite.

66. Tiller prefers to do what he likes on his ride.

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Apparently, he’d rather make love to a Barbie against a green screen. Not the safest thing to do on the road.

67. You can’t put Elmie down the drain.

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Sure you might have blood everywhere in your kitchen sink. But the elf will always rise again. Terrifying.

68. Santa knows when you’re sleeping. Vinnie knows when you’ll never wake up.

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Because if he could get away with it, he’ll try to kill you in your sleep. Sweet dreams.

69. Finley hasn’t been himself lately.

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Yeah, he’s kind of been eating the dolls as you can see. Also, he’s been a zombie for awhile. So it’s best to kill him with fire.

70. “Ready, aim, fire.”

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Lingle doesn’t like other elves in his premises. So he uses them as target practice. I know he needs to be put away somewhere. But I don’t know the jail situation in the North Pole.

71. Twinkletoes knows what’s pleasing to his eyes.

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Here we got him admiring Barbie’s tramp stamp under the Christmas tree. Indeed, he’s quite naughty, isn’t he?

72. Dinkledums wants to show the kids something.

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Uh, I don’t think the kids want to see a dead body. Seriously, they don’t want to do that during the holidays.

73. Turns out Teddy bit off more than he can chew.

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Now he’s floating in the toilet. It’s going to be a very icky job getting him out of there.

74. “Say goodbye, baby doll.”

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I’m sure Hinkle will add some fava beans to the baby stew. God, he’s a very sick elf, indeed. Kill him. Kill him with fire.

75. Dinny just wants you to leave the scissors on the table.

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Yet, he likes to watch you sleeping. So it’s best if you don’t trust him with sharp objects.

76. Look at what the Grinch has in his jar.

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Seems like he’s going to keep Yinkler in this mason jar for quite some time. And I wouldn’t blame the Grinch doing so.

77. Dinko won’t be deterred by the Grinch.

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Here he is tying the Grinch up and standing on it like he’s his trophy. My condolences to the Grinch.

78. Sly and Sleigh Bell always know how to have fun.

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Wait, they’re lighting each other’s farts. Seriously, this is a dangerous activity, especially during the holiday season.

79. Don’t look behind the shower curtain.

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Because Slinker is inside wielding a knife. Kill him with fire, please.

80. “Any last words, Elmo?”

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Apparently, Elmo doesn’t seem to have much to say. Though you can see him screaming as Buddy points a big ass knife at him.

Ho, Ho, Ho, Holy Shit Vintage Christmas Advertising of Yesterday (Fifth Edition)

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Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, I am now free to get into my Christmas posts. And fortunately for the Trump folks, I’ll most likely be busy with these for most of December. Anyway, the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, or a day when I try to avoid the stores unless I have to work at one. Sure most of them probably don’t have people rushing inside to buy shit. Yet, you’ll always hear about one Black Friday brawl over a hot item on the news. Nonetheless, retail giants are known to advertise heavily in the days leading up to this iconic shopping day. Seriously, your Thanksgiving newspaper bundle probably comes with countless ads and catalogs on the latest deals. And yes, you’ll find plenty of Christmas ads from back in the day. Some might age well like this Goodyear ad above. But some not so much since they could be quite unintentionally funny, offensive, or creepy. So for your reading pleasure, I give you another yearly assortment of crazy vintage Christmas ads. Enjoy.

  1. There will always be a Christmas, even in the future.
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And in the future, it seems they’ll always use Rolex. Except that digital technology and smart phones haven’t been good for the watch market these days.

2. There’s no better gift for Christmas than Playboy.

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I’m sure your man will always read it for the articles. Though I would suggest you’re better off giving him a tie. Also, I don’t think this woman’s wearing a bra.

3. This Christmas, give her a Hoover.

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Sorry, but if a man gave me a vacuum for Christmas, I would not be happy. Seriously, I hat these things.

4. It’s always a holiday party with 7 Up.

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Apparently, Jack’s trying to score with Susie at the dinner table. While Eric gets a bottle from behind.

5. Budweiser is always the beer for the holiday season.

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You might think she’s happy and engaging in the holiday cheer. But she’s only putting on a smile to hide her dismay over Roger’s gift. And she’s not exactly in the mood for booze at the moment.

6. Santa likes to dance with his reindeer at the North Pole Christmas party.

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Yet, I don’t think Santa has any good intentions for dancing with Dancer. For he’s eyeing the reindeer like a piece of sweet meat.

7. Timmy really seems to like his new train.

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The boy’s like, “Wow, just what I need for my death machine I intend to use for torturing the neighbor’s cat. Thanks, Mom and Dad.”

8. This Christmas, give your loved ones a box of interwoven socks.

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To be fair, Socks are essential for everyday living. Yet, I get the impression that Santa’s giving Bobby socks just to spite him for being a brat.

9. Kupperheimer always makes good clothes for the season.

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Still, while Hank was eager to do the Christmas shopping, he didn’t like using bags. But, check out his coat.

10. Thanks to Greyhound, Daddy will be home for Christmas.

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Unbeknownst to Mommy and little Johnny, Daddy would never be the same after Korea. Often he’d drink and fly into rages with no apparent reason.

11. With gifts, it’s always the thought behind it that counts.

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Nonetheless, little Maisie knows that whatever present she gives to her family, nobody will be impressed than the new car Dad bought for the family. But she knows he got it for himself to enhance his ego.

12. Decorate your house with brightly-colored GE Christmas lights.

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Or else, Santa will come down your chimney and murder you in your sleep. Don’t think that he wouldn’t.

13. This Christmas, give her the gift of lightness with matching luggage.

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Though I’m sure she wouldn’t be able to take a whole set on a plane. Also, not very keen on the colors.

14. Seems like it’s the mom’s job to come up with the Christmas list.

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Well, at least the girl is writing her own. But the boy just wants to play wit his new ray gun while the dad doesn’t really give a shit. But the mom knows she still has to get a gift for him.

15. Nothing makes a party memorable like 7UP.

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Wonder if they have anything else in their pop. Or whether whoever’s here will end up doing more than kissing under the mistletoe like the couple in the back.

16. Santa always enjoys a bottle of Coke from the fridge.

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Seems like milk and cookies couldn’t satisfy Santa enough. So he had to raid the fridge. Despite that he has plenty of other places to visit that offer the exact same treats.

17. ETA always makes the best Christmas nuts.

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From Flashbak: “This couple literally seems on the point of tears over the sight of their gift of Christmas nuts. Suffice it to say, this mom and dad are easy to buy for.”

18. Not it’s Santa’s turn to receive his Christmas gift.

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Though he doesn’t seem certain if this shirt would fit him. Or when he’ll use a tie. Then again, Santa may also have a day job for all we know.

19. “Kids, come on down. Grandma’s here.”

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Though Bobby doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about seeing Grandma. Maybe because it’s snowy and he’s wearing shorts.

20. All this boy can think about is the new Plymouth.

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Yet, the boy has his head down as if he’s possessed by some demon. That or he may be thinking about the futility of human existence or the inevitability of death.

21. This Christmas stop the sag and end the fag with Allen A underwear.

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Apparently, guys often hung out together without a care in the world back in the olden days. I’m sure they’re just friends. Even the toy soldiers like to check out these briefs.

22. Nothing makes a great gift for dad like his favorite cigars.

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Apparently, show your love for dad this Christmas by giving him lung cancer if you don’t know what to buy for him. Seriously, that’s what you give your dad when you give him cigars.

23. Santa Claus digs Adidas cleats.

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Since how does Santa wear a red jumpsuit? Because I don’t get the impression he regularly works out at the gym. Also, doesn’t seem like I’d want to see him there either.

24. Want to make sure you don’t get underwear this Christmas? Ask for Atari.

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Well, that’s one way. But I don’t think it’ll get past the parents. Seriously, video games are expensive.

25. This Christmas, Colgate gives the gift of dental hygiene.

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Apparently, Colgate products come from Santa’s disembodied hand in the night sky. Didn’t know he cared about oral health.

26. For this wartime Christmas, Santa chooses Chesterfields.

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Santa even has his own military outfit. But still, he promotes a product that kills 1/3 of the world’s population a year.

27. Crosman guns are the gift of the season.

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For nothing says, “Peace on Earth” like a bunch of guns under your Christmas tree. For God’s sake, these are instruments of death and not appropriate for Christmas. Or any other occasion.

28. Take Santa’s advice and get a supply of Lundborg’s Perfumes.

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Apparently, Santa doesn’t think people around the turn of the century bathed as often as they should. Though given how many chimneys he goes through, he could use a shower.

29. “Look, Tommy, it’s Tinkerbell!”

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Seems like this girl’s kind of freaked out by Tinkerbell appearing in front of her eyes. Then again, we’d feel the same way if we were her.

30. Make sure you spice it up with your Christmas wrapping.

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Though this boy thinks the presents are all his, And he’ll fight to the death to make sure no one else gets them.

31. “Now what would you like for Christmas, Ralphie?”

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“I’d like a train set, a Rough Rider BB gun, a chemistry set, a box of knives, and rat poison. Also, I want Cindy’s head on a platter.”

32. An Underwood typewriter always captures the spirit of giving.

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But don’t mess with the Weird Sisters. Or else they’ll curse the living daylights out of you in your nightmares.

33. Karo gives a sturdy body for your Santa Claus.

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To be fair, it is a syrup. Yet, since it’s mostly made out of sugar, its health effects might range from obesity to Type II diabetes.

34. Santa wants you to smoke Chesterfields for far and near and in good cheer.

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Apparently, demonic Santa Claus wants you to smoke and die of lung cancer. Or else he’ll break into your house and kill your family.

35. Let Christmas last a lifetime with a Remington 22.

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Great, get your boy a gun for Christmas. He’ll never forget it. Let’s hope he doesn’t accidentally shoot someone in the eye.

36. Nothing beats a long day at the slopes like a Budweiser.

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“Hey, Christie, join us for a beer at the fire. And once we get drunk enough, we could have a three-way.”

37. Want to keep her young and pretty? Give her a Star vibrator.

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I know it’s supposed to be a massager. But the word “vibrator” has come to mean “sex toy” in recent years.

38. A Parker Pen is a friend for life.

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Yet, why would you take a pen form a disembodied Santa hand? Besides, a pen is a gift you give someone for secret Santa or because you don’t know what to get them.

39. Make this merry trifle with Bird’s custard.

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Looks like a cream cheese snowman sinking in a bowl of cheese and cherries. Kind of disgusting.

40. Didn’t know trains could spring from Santa’s sack.

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Well, this is for New York Central. But it makes Santa seem like a big train enthusiast or a god who can fit massive trains in his bag.

41. For Christmas, polar bears choose Calvert.

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Didn’t know that polar bears liked boozing during the holidays. Hope they don’t run into anything with the sleigh.

42. Buy Kentucky Tavern Whiskey and you’ll get this snowman decoration.

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I hear it even talks to you and urges you to murder people. But only when you’re really wasted on this stuff.

43. Corby’s always makes a great gift for fathers and sons.

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Booze for Christmas? Still, let’s hope that alcoholism doesn’t run in this family. Though I wouldn’t be surprise if it does.

44. Take a break from Christmas shopping with a nice Coca Cola.

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From Flashbak: ” Supposedly, they stopped putting cocaine in Coca-Cola in 1903; however, this 1962 advert, proclaiming a special ‘zing’ down to your toes, makes me think it was a bit later.”

45. An RCA Victor is perfect for the whole family.

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From Flashbak: “Everything’s so white….is this what Christmas looks like in Heaven?” Let’s hope not since I don’t want to imagine this family dying in a car crash before then.

46. Throw a great Christmas party with the Hallmark party books.

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She’s like, “God, I hope this book doesn’t make me mess up. Since I don’t want this shindig to end up like last year.”

47. Pop brings you happiness from a bottle.

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Little girl’s like, “Drink all the happiness you can, Mom. Cause I’m going to kill you in your sleep and serve you for Christmas dinner.”

48. Santa thinks Interwoven socks make a great gift.

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Santa also looks like he’s had a few too many. Maybe he should go home before his sleigh crashes into a house.

49. Planters Peanuts makes a great holiday party staple.

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The guy is looking at the woman eating nuts and thinking, “Man, she’s really making an ass out of herself.” While he’s carrying a tray of cocktails.

50. 7UP can always please the holiday crowd.

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Something tells me these kids shouldn’t be drinking it. Since they’re in their pjs and their parents are hosting a party downstairs.

51. Wrapping presents doesn’t have to be a hassle on Christmas.

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From Evolvor: “Nothing says getting ready for Christmas then wrapping presents for the kids. And by wrapping presents I mean, kicking back with some ice cold brews and making the ladies do it. I’m sure a few minutes after this snapshot someone’s ass got slapped. Good work girls.”

52. Double Bubble always makes the season right.

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From Evolvor: “I’m not sure if the kids these days know what an excuse for “gum” Double Bubble is, but I’m damn sure kids were not getting TOO excited over getting a handful of this shit in their Christmas stocking. The stuff is barely passable on Halloween and is a total fail of a holiday candy. If little Johnny ends up with a lump of ‘Bubble it’s because he was either bad that year and we needed coal to heat the house or Santa (*ahem* Dad) got laid off and this is all he could afford.”

53. Drinking beer is always a tradition during the holidays.

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From Evolvor: “There’s nothing wrong with this ad really, I just love the idea of my grandparents getting bent on the holidays. Again clearly the men get to dick-around, most likely talking shit about all the people who sent them Christmas cards. “Look at John’s stupid kids, what an asshat” the one guy is probably saying. Meanwhile the ladies are again doing what they do best.”

54. A Lincoln-Zephyr is the quality car for the holiday season.

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From Evolvor: “Many of you know how I strongly I feel about our obsession with cars (and how we use them to give us some sort of social status), and there’s nothing I hate more then seeing luxury auto ads during the holidays. Seriously who the hell gets a NEW CAR for Christmas? I dunno, maybe the day I strike it rich I’ll start buying people cars to make up for something really shitty I did to them in the past. Anywho, the not-so-wholesome past wasn’t any different, and here Santa is either dropping a brand new Lincoln off for some brat or is trading in the reindeer and sleigh for a V12.”

55. Schlitz gives you a light refreshment over the holidays.

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Here she’s holding a small present. Wonder who it’s for and wonder what’s in it. Also, the guy seems to have a different “present” idea in mind. Cue the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

56. Give Kentucky Club to all the men on your Christmas list.

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After all, lung cancer is the gift that keeps on giving. Even during the holiday season, apparently.

57. “For me? You shouldn’t have.”

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From Evolvor: “Another classic Christmas car ad. This one SCREAMS “sugar daddy”. Nothing says love during the holidays like keys to the car *ahem* I mean heart.”

58. Send Christmas wishes through airmail this holiday season.

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So Santa ditched his sleigh for a print plane. Hope the reindeer don’t go on strike when he returns to the North Pole.

59. For your holiday platter, banana quick bread makes a tasty treat.

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Okay, that bread looks very disgusting. Yet, Santa munches on his banana nonetheless.

60. This Christmas, take a bottle from the J&B Scotch tree.

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The bottles even have candles. Best to stay away from it if you’re the designated driver.

61. This year, give your children a real Roy Rogers Christmas.

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And yes, this means Dad getting the saddle and giving horsey rides to the kids. I know it’s an undignified moment in fatherhood. But at least it’s cheaper than giving your kids a real pony.

62. Make this year a lucky Christmas.

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Well, you won’t be so lucky with Lucky Strike. Seriously, smoking will kill you. But he doesn’t care.

63. Make your Christmas party planning easy with this new Toastmaster hospitality set.

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Actually I don’t want to put any of these appetizers on toast. Seems like something you’d have on the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special.

64. Decking the halls is always a family tradition.

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Of course, Dad had to put the garlands around the archways. Hope he watches his hand or he’ll be causing a bad accident. Especially if Sally’s running with the star. Hardly seems like having peace of mind. Still, I can’t help thinking they’re in the midst of an accident waiting to happen.

65. With Camel, it’s Merry Christmas with every smoke.

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Man, Santa seems to appear in a lot of cigarette ads. Despite that smoking kills and gives people lung cancer.

66. Santa Claus always enjoys one on the rocks once in awhile.

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This is from Japan, I think. Still, the guy is a clear mall Santa since the beard looks obviously fake.

67. Kid can’t help but talk about the new Plymouth.

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Don’t look now, but I think the older sister has a devious look in her eyes. Like she has murder on the mind. Also, the dog’s jumping on her.

68. The Targeter is a sure-fire gift for the whole family.

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Since nothing makes Christmas family fun like endless target practice. Hope Mom doesn’t shoot anyone’s eye out. Or kill anyone.

69. With Avon, you’ll always make the spirits bright.

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Here’s an assortment of cosmetics in fine containers sold by a multi-level marketing firm. And I believe she’s lighting a candle or burning incense. Either way, don’t want to have an open flame near a tree.

70. Chesterfields always make the perfect Christmas gift.

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This woman’s like, “That way when my sugar daddy dies of lung cancer at 53, I’ll get the whole estate. Mwha ha ha ha ha!”

The Donald J. Trump Foundation: A Self-Dealing Charity for One

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When it comes to rich people, there is a lot I have to criticize on how they perpetuate economic inequality through their vast sums of money and power while leaving the poorer masses with little leverage to assert themselves. But when it comes to their philanthropic foundations, I think that they at least put their own money in it and donate the money for a good charitable cause. Even if it’s just to name some sort of building after themselves. After all, many wealthy people usually contribute their money to the arts, college campuses, research facilities, libraries, and public works projects. Hell, though I think Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos treat their workers like shit, the fact they want to contribute some of their vast fortunes for going to Mars seems pretty cool.

However, despite that Donald Trump’s excessive vanity is the stuff of legend, such philanthropic endeavors don’t seem to be the case with the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Trump originally created this foundation in 1988 for his proceeds from his book Trump: The Art of the Deal to charitable causes. However, in since 2008, Trump had stopped contributing personal funds and instead solicited donations from outsiders. Though the foundation was based in New York City’s Trump Organization, with no paid staff or dedicated office space. Until its forced closure in 2017 due to an array of complaints in self-dealing, its board of directors consisted of Trump, his 3 adult children by Ivana, and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg (though he told investigators he wasn’t aware of being a board member “at least for the last 10 or 15 years.”) In 2015, a Trump Organization spokesperson told The New York Post that Trump made all the decisions regarding the Trump Foundation money grants. Despite calling himself an “ardent philanthropist,” Trump has only donated $3.7 million to his foundation from 1990-2009.

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Here’s a sheet of David Fahrenthold’s notes he showed on Twitter to prove that what he wrote about the Trump Foundation wasn’t fake news. He ended up winning a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for his coverage in 2017.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold initiated an investigation into Donald Trump’s philanthropic activities after Trump held a fundraiser for veterans in January 2016 in lieu of a televised Republican debate appearance. Trump claimed the event raised $6,000,000 for veterans’ causes, including supposedly $1,000,000,000 of his own money. Fahrenthold began his investigation by trying to confirm the receipt and dispersal of that $6 million. All donations should’ve gone to the Trump Foundation which should’ve granted the money to others. Instead, Fahrenthold determined that, several months after the rally, the Trump Foundation had yet to send any funds to veterans-related charities. Though some of the funds went directly to causes without passing the Trump Foundation, Fahrenthold widened his search to a wider investigation.

In June 2016 as a response to this criticism, Donald Trump publicly asserted that he had given approximately $102 million to charitable causes from 2009-2015 and released a 93-page list of the money’s beneficiaries. However, subsequent reporting by the Washington Post and other news organizations found that many of the donations Trump claimed making personally over this 5-year period were made by the Trump Foundation. And by 2009, no longer held any of Trump’s money. While further investigations led to an increasing of abuse inside the foundation since its creation. David Fahrenthold’s investigation into the Trump Foundation and Trump’s history of personal charitable giving involved hundreds of calls to Trump-associated charities. It’s also notable in that Fahrenthold heavily drew support and investigative help from a larger number of his Twitter followers helping him track down leads on specific charities. The accusations against the Trump Foundation are many, including the following (which mostly comes from Wikipedia, by the way And yes, it’s most of the information comes from cited sources, including Fahrenthold).

Failure to maintain proper governance

In June 2018, the New York Attorney General office filed a petition explaining that: “…none of the Foundation’s expenditures or activities were approved by its Board of Directors. The investigation found that the Board existed in name only: it did not meet after 1999; it did not set policy or criteria for choosing grant recipients; and it did not approve of any grants. Mr. Trump alone made all decisions related to the Foundation.” Also, Trump Foundation treasurer Allen Weisselberg claimed he wasn’t even aware of his position on the foundation’s board until investigators approached him. Such signs in a foundation give a bright red flag to a charity scam.

Donation solicitation without a license

Under New York state law, a nonprofit foundation must register as a “7A Charitable Organization” if planning to solicit outside donations over $25,000. Initially, the Trump Foundation was registered as a private foundation set up solely to receive Donald Trump’s own personal donations. As long as it was registered as a private foundation and not soliciting outside funds, it didn’t have to file annual reports with the New York State Charities Bureau. Of course, given Trump’s aversion to transparency in financial matters, this might’ve been the reason why the Trump Foundation didn’t register as a “7A Charitable Organization.” But records show that Trump began soliciting donations at least as early as 2004, maybe even 1989.

Mishandling of funds raised for veterans’ causes

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Here’s that fucking piece of shit Donald Trump bestowing a large check to a veterans’ charity in Iowa in 2016. Still, I wouldn’t cash in that check if I were these ladies. Mostly because the check might bounce.

In April 2016, Fox News reported that more than 2 months after Donald Trump said he raised $6 million for veterans at a pre-Iowa Caucus fundraiser, “most of the organizations targeted to receive the money have gotten less than half of that amount.” At the same time, Trump said he contributed $1 million of his personal funds. In late May, Trump revised the figures, claiming that $5.6 million had been raised at the event and that he contributed his $1 million share only the week before after the media criticized him. He also provided a list of beneficiaries of that $5.6 million. Although a 2018 New York state lawsuit further disputes this, citing $2.8 million.

Coordinating foundation grants with Trump’s presidential campaign

It should surprise nobody that Donald Trump might’ve used Trump foundation grants to advance his presidential campaign. This violates rules barring charities from engaging in political activity. Trump at least distributed some of the funds publicly at “Donald Trump for President” political rallies, displaying large-size checks including his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” or a link to a campaign website. In an October 2017 deposition, Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg testified that he witnessed Trump’s campaign staff coordinate with him to use the Iowa fundraiser for the campaign’s benefit. In a larger suit against the foundation in 2018, New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleged that Trump in using the foundation for campaign promotion during and after the Iowa fundraiser, had violated charities laws.

Grants to the National Museum of Catholic Art and Library

In each of 1995 and 1999, the Trump Foundation granted $50,000 to the National Museum of Catholic Art and Library. According to a 2001 Village Voice report, after visiting the East Harlem museum, the facility had “next to no art” and no official connection to the Catholic Church, despite having a 10-year track record of soliciting large-scale donations for its collection. The Voice and later, The Washington Post concluded that Trump may have directed the grants to the museum to curry favor with then museum chairman, Eddie Malloy, who was also head of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The Council had worked on behalf of one of the workers’ unions who worked on Trump construction projects.

Failure to make pledged 9/11 donations

An October 2016 New York City Comptroller office investigation showed that Donald Trump or the Trump Foundation might’ve failed to honor at least one pledge to charities established to provide relief to 9/11 victims. In late September 2001, Trump pledged $10,000 to the Twin Towers Fund on The Howard Stern Show. Created by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the Twin Towers Fund was “to benefit the families of firefighters and police officers who died in the attacks.” During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Giuliani announced that Trump made unspecified “anonymous” donations after the September 11 attacks. Though such donations have never been identified. Ever the sycophant, Giuliani also said in support of Trump’s candidacy, “Every time New York City suffered a tragedy Donald Trump was there to help,…. He’s not going to like my telling you this but he did it anonymously.”

The New York City Comptroller’s office told the New York Daily News it manually reviewed “approximately 1,500 pages of donor records of the Twin Towers Fund and the related entity NYC Public/Private Initiatives Inc., containing the names of more than 110,000 individuals and entities that were collected as part of the audits” through August 2012. According to them, Comptroller Scott Stringer, “found that Trump and [the Trump Foundation] hadn’t donated a dime in the months after 9/11.” However, because the reviewed period only covered one year after the attacks, the Comptroller office was “unable to conclude definitively” that Trump never gave to the fund after August 2002. According to its IRS Form 990 tax filings, the Trump Foundation made no grants to the Twin Towers Fund or to the NYC Public/Private Initiatives, Inc. it’s a part of from 2002-2014. Though Donald Trump might’ve made personal donations after August 2002 that wouldn’t have shown up in the filings.

After the convention in 2016, Donald Trump’s campaign suggested that the Trump Foundation made a grant to the American Red Cross after the attacks. But no record exists in its tax filings from 2002-2014. As with the Twin Towers Fund, a personal donation by Trump wouldn’t have shown up in its filings.

Using Trump Foundation money to settle Trump Organization legal disputes

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Those who read my post about Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago may remember the outsized flag dispute with Palm Beach. Well, guess where he got the money to pay for that. Yep, his Trump Foundation slush fund.

Donald Trump might’ve used Trump Foundation money to settle his personal or business legal disputes on at least 2 occasions. In 2007, Trump used foundation money to settle his 2006 legal dispute between the town of Palm Beach, Florida and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club. This pertained to Trump putting up a gigantic flagpole that was too high and hoisting a flag that was too large as far as the town’s ordinances are concerned. If you read my post on Trump at Mar-a-Lago I published earlier this month, then you probably know how it goes. Anyway, settlement documents show that in return for discharging the club’s obligations to Palm Beach, Trump agreed to personally donate $100,000 to a veterans and military families charity Fischer House. However, Trump made the grant using foundation money, not his.

Donald Trump’s foundation paid $158,000 to the Martin B. Greenberg Foundation as a settlement in a lawsuit Greenberg brought against the Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York. Martin Greenberg alleged that he rightfully won a $1 million prize for scoring a hole-in-one during a 2010 charity golf tournament. But the club denied the award on technical grounds, arguing the hole was shorter than the required 150 yards. He sued and both parties reached a settlement according to the Washington Post that, that “on the day that Trump and the other parties told the court that they had settled the case, the Donald J. Trump Foundation made its first and only grant to the Martin B. Greenberg Foundation, for $158,000.” In September 2016, the Post reported that the grant money was directly linked to the legal settlement, likely violating IRS self-dealing rules by using charitable funds to pay Trump’s personal or business obligations. To raise the needed money for the settlement, the Trump Foundation auctioned a prize of a Trump-owned golf course lifetime membership, with a $157,000 donation to the Trump Foundation as the winning bid. The auction winner might’ve believed they were donating to Trump Foundation charitable causes instead of Trump’s tax exempt personal piggy bank. According to the foundation’s available tax returns, Trump National Golf Club Westchester paid over $200,000 to the Trump Foundation in 2016, with $158,000 of the funds for the Martin B. Greenberg settlement.

Donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

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This is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. In 2013, during her office’s investigation into Trump University, Donald Trump gave her money from his foundation to make it go away. She dropped the case shortly afterwards. And she’s not the only one either.

In 2013, Donald Trump donated $25,000 in support of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s election campaign while her office was reviewing fraud allegations against Trump University, a for-profit real-estate program scam Trump created. At the same time, Trump also hosted a fundraiser for Bondi at his Mar-a-Lago resort at a fee well below his normal market rate. In return, Bondi’s office ended the investigation without bringing charges. According to a Trump Foundation attorney, “the [$25,000] contribution was made in error due to a case of mistaken identity of organizations with the same name.” But Trump personally reimbursed his foundation for the $25,000. It paid a $2,500 fine for violating IRS rules against political contributions by charitable organizations. In 2016, then New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman publicly stated that the Trump Foundation was now subject to investigation by his office.

Nonprofit watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the IRS. Obtaining a letter from the Trump Foundation’s lawyer to the New York Attorney General’s office also cast doubt on Donald Trump’s story. According to CREW Communications Director Jordan Libowitz, “We’re past the point where a reasonable person could believe this is just a never-ending series of once in a lifetime errors. This may not be anything nefarious, but if it isn’t, that would mean that the Trump operation is completely inept when it comes to running the Trump Foundation.” In October 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported details of how Trump had made campaign contributions to various US state attorneys general while reviewing cases involving the Trump Organization or himself personally, on several occasions since the early 1980s. Though the Bondi case is the only one cited as involving Trump Foundation money.

Grants allegedly made for political purposes

In 2012, Donald Trump paid $100,000 to the Reverend Billy Graham Evangelical Association. NBC News has called Graham “an early ally” of his. In 2011, Graham told ABC News, “The more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, ‘You know, maybe the guy’s right.’” In October 2016, Graham revealed to the Charlotte Observer that he instructed Trump to make a $100,000 donation which was used for full page ads urging voters to support 2012 presidential candidates who support “biblical values.” The time and tone of the ads indicate they were placed in support of Mitt Romney as the Observer suggested. Graham also headed the Boone, North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief agency that received $25,000 from the Trump Foundation in 2012. Graham credits then-Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren for soliciting the donation from Trump. Van Susteren had accompanied Graham on Samaritan’s Purse trips to Hawaii and North Korea. The Charlotte Observer quoted Graham saying, “[Trump] was on her show, and [Van Susteren] said, ‘I was just in Haiti and Samaritan’s Purse is doing this down there, and Donald, you need to help.’ He sent a check out.” In 2016, several media outlets alleged that Van Sustreren had been producing overtly pro-Trump reports on her Fox News show On the Record. These donations seem to explain some of Trump’s support with some white evangelicals in the Bible Belt.

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Here’s Donald Trump shaking hands with David Bossie, best known for being head of Citizens United. You know the group in that Supreme Court case that ditched a slew of campaign finance laws and allowed rich people to spend as much money they wanted on political candidates. Also Trump gave money to him via Trump Foundation funds.

In 2014, the Trump Foundation made a $100,000 grant to the Citizens United Foundation, a charitable foundation closely related to David Bossie’s conservative group, Citizens United. If that sounds familiar, Citizens United was the group behind the Supreme Court case that allowed unlimited contributions from corporate donors, Super PACs, and dark money in political campaigns. At the time, Citizens United was engaged in a lawsuit against then-New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office was also pursuing a civil lawsuit against Trump University. It was the largest single grant the Trump Foundation made that year. Schneiderman’s office called the grant part of a “vendetta” by Donald Trump. While Citizens United rejected any connection between the grant and its own lawsuit against Schneiderman. The Trump Foundation’s 2014 tax filing misidentified Citizens United as a public charity (501(c)(3)) when it’s actually a social welfare organization (501(c)(4)).

From 2011-2013, the Trump Foundation donated at total of $40,000 to the Drumthwacket Foundation, a charitable organization formed to pay for renovation and historical preservation of the New Jersey governor’s mansion of the same name. In 2011, Donald Trump was trying to get permits for a personal cemetery on the fairway at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey and may have needed political help in obtaining approval. Keep in mind that Chris Christie was governor at the time.

Donald Trump directed $100,000 in Trump Foundation money toward the National September 11 Memorial Museum days before the 2016 New York State Republican presidential primary, where he was on the ballot, mischaracterizing the foundation grant as a personal donation.

In May 2015, the Trump Foundation granted $100,000 to conservative filmmaker and conspiracy theorist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. In October 2016, O’Keefe released videos apparently revealing how Democrats incited violence at Donald Trump’s rallies through dubious means. Except that’s not true. During the third 2016 presidential debate, Trump claimed the new videos O’Keefe produced and released that week proved that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama “hired people” and “paid them $1,500” to “be violent, cause fights, [and] do bad things” at Trump rallies. Despite the fact such details are utter bullshit. Besides, there are many instances where Trump has incited violence at his rallies. A Democratic National Committee spokesperson noted Trump’s donation after Project Veritas released another video on the 2016 election. A Project Veritas spokesperson responded saying, “We have a multi-million dollar budget and the cost of this video series alone is way up there. The donation Trump provided didn’t impact our actions one way or the other.” Though you have to strongly doubt that.

Then there’s the fact that Donald Trump might’ve directed Trump Foundation money to support his presidential campaign. In one case, the grants were used specifically to pay for newspaper ads. In October 2016, Real Clear Politics reported that Trump directed significant amounts of foundation money to conservative organizations, possibly in return for political support and access. They found that from 2011-2014, Trump had “harnessed his eponymous foundation to send at least $286,000 to influential conservative or policy groups…. In many cases, this flow of money corresponded to prime speaking slots or endorsements that aided Trump as he sought to recast himself as a plausible Republican candidate for president.” At least 2 of the groups are based in Republican-leaning early presidential primary states. In addition to the infamous Citizens United, groups include Iowa’s The Family Leader, the South Carolina Palmetto Family Council, the American Conservative Union, and the American Spectator Foundation. Trump’s foundation money grants could’ve violated the law if it was in return for his personal right to speak and gain access to networking events. Considering that he seemed to be an outsider early in the 2016 campaign, I wouldn’t put it past him.

  • The Trump Foundation’s $10,000 grant in 2013 to The Family Leader might’ve led to a speaking engagement for Donald Trump. The Family Leader is an Iowa-based organization whose stated mission is to “strengthen families, by inspiring Christ-like leadership in the home, the church, and the government.” Following the grant, the group’s leader Vader Plaats invited Trump to speak at its leadership summit. Because The Family Leader is a (501(c)(4)) corporation established “develop, advocate and support legislative agenda at the state level” and not a charity, these grants might’ve been illegal. Though Trump might’ve intended to make a grant to The Family Leader Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. Either way, it seems shady.
  • Donald Trump was invited to speak at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2013 after directing $50,000 of Trump Foundation money to the organization. That same year, Trump was invited to speak at Washington’s Economic Club after the Trump Foundation made a grant there.

Partial payment of an assessment owed by the Plaza Hotel

In 1989, the Trump Foundation paid more than half for a “voluntary assessment” imposed on the Plaza Hotel by the Central Park Conservancy. The Trump Organization owned the hotel at the time and the assessment was for the renovation of the severely dilapidated Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza directly facing the place. Toward the $500,000 assessment, the foundation granted $264,631 to the Conservancy while the Trump Organization paid between $100,000 and $250,000. The grant to the Conservancy was the Trump Foundation’s largest single grant since its inception through 2015.

Using foundation money to purchase personal or business goods or services

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Here’s one of the paintings Donald Trump bought with his fake charity money. This one from Doral was discovered on TripAdvisor and a Univision reporter just had to check it out.

On 2 occasions, Donald Trump used the Trump Foundation’s money to buy portraits of himself.

  • In 2007, Donald Trump spent $10,000 in Trump Foundation funds to purchase a 6ft-tall portrait of himself by artist Michael Israel at a Florida benefit for a charity, the Children’s Place at Hornespace, held at his Mar-a-Lago club after his wife Melania made the highest bid. The painter’s former production manager told The Washington Post that he shipped the painting to the Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York, allegedly for display in the country club’s conference room or boardroom, at Melania’s request. The charity paid half the proceeds to the artist for the painting, establishing that it had a fair market value of at least that amount. Tax experts told the Post that if it was displayed at a golf club, it could violate IRS rules prohibiting nonprofits from self-dealing (like using charity funds for noncharitable purposes). In September 2015, President Barack Obama publicly criticized Trump’s painting purchase.
  • In 2014 at a charity benefit for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Donald Trump bought a 4ft tall painting of a 1990s version of himself by Argentine artist Havi Schanz, paying for it with $20,000 Trump Foundation funds. A photo of the portrait was found on a TripAdvisor review of Trump National Doral Miami. Later a Univision reporter went to the club, asked the various staff about the painting, and eventually discovered it hanging on at the golf resort’s Champions Bar & Grill restaurant. Trump campaign spokesman Boris Epshteyn explained on MSNBC that Trump’s use of the painting there was not only proper but beneficial to the foundation based on IRS rules allowing individuals to store items “on behalf of the foundation – in order to help with storage costs” and that its use at the restaurant is “absolutely proper” in that Trump was “doing his foundation a favor.”

During a charity auction at his Mar-a-Lago club in 2012, Donald Trump bid $12,000 for a Tim Tebow autographed NFL football helmet and a Tebow football jersey. Newspaper accounts credited Trump for his generosity. However, the purchase was made with $12,000 in Trump Foundation money, not his own. The helmet and jersey’s current whereabouts are unknown. But according to tax law experts, if Trump kept them, the purchase might’ve violated the self-dealing rule, banning private foundations from “the furnishing of goods” to their own officers.

In 2008, Donald Trump used $107,000 in Trump Foundation funds to purchase luxury trips to Paris, including a meeting with actress Salma Hayek at a charity auction for the Gucci Foundation.

In 2013, the Trump Foundation made a $5,000 grant to the nonprofit D.C. Preservation League. According to The Washington Post, the nonprofit’s support was helpful to the Trump Organization in obtaining the rights to convert Washington D.C.’s historic Old Post Office Pavilion into the Trump International Hotel. In acknowledgement for the donation, the Trump Foundation received ads in the event programs. But the ads promoted the hotel rather than the foundation, in possible violation of IRS self-dealing rules.

The Palm Beach Post has suggested that Donald Trump benefitted personally when the Trump Foundation made grants totaling $20,000 from 2011-2014 in return for band and choir performances held at his resorts.

Diverting business or personal income as donations to the foundation

Donald Trump may have directed income personally owed to him to be sent to the Trump Foundation instead of his bank account, in possible tax rules violation. In September 2016, The Washington Post reported that Trump directed that $2.3 million owed to him by various people and organizations should be paid instead as donations to his foundation. Hell, the Post found old Associated Press coverage showing that Trump may have started directing income to the Trump Foundation as early as 1989. IRS rules prohibit individuals from diverting taxable income owed to them toward charities if they benefit directly from them, unless the person declares the income on their personal tax forms. Since Trump has yet to release his tax returns as of 2018, the Post couldn’t confirm if Trump declared the income for any of the received donations.

The Trump Foundation received at least $1.9 million from ticket broker Richard Ebbers who had bought goods, services, including tickets from “Trump or his businesses.” He was allegedly instructed to pay for them to the Trump Foundation in the form of charitable contributions instead as Trump Organization income.

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Donald Trump had his money from his WWE appearances directed as donations to the Trump Foundation totaling to $5 million. I guess it was to avoid taxes since he doesn’t like paying them.

In 2007 and 2009, the Trump Foundation received a total of $5 million in donations from World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon and his wife Linda. Trump appeared twice for WrestleMania events in those years. The 2007 donation was $1 million while the 2009 one was $4 million. The WWE later told The Huffington Post that, “during this period of time, WWE paid Donald Trump appearance fees separately,” and “separately, [WWE chief executives] Vince and Linda McMahon made personal donations to Donald Trump’s foundation.”

In 2007, the Celebrity Fight Night Foundation hosted a fundraiser to benefit the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center in Phoenix, Arizona. According to a CFNF spokesperson, in return for Donald Trump’s appearance and his offering a New York-based dinner with himself at auction, Trump stipulated that the Parkinson’s charity share the total auction proceeds with the Trump Foundation, which totaled to $150,000 that would’ve otherwise gone to the center benefitted Parkinson’s Disease research.
Other donations made to the Trump Foundation that might’ve been in return for Donald Trump’s personal work include:

  • $400,000 from Comedy Central for Trump’s attendance at a celebrity roast in his honor.
  • $150,000 from People Magazine in return for exclusive photos of Trump’s son, Barron.
  • $500,000 from NBC Universal in 2012 while airing Trump’s show, The Apprentice.
  • $100,000 from the family of Donna Clancy, whose family law office had been renting space at the Trump Organizations 40 Wall Street building.
  • $100,000 in 2005, for Melania Trump’s work for Norwegian Cruise Lines on a segment later included on The Apprentice. A company spokesperson confirmed that Melania’s appearance fee was paid in a Trump Foundation donation

Granting money to charities that rented Trump Organization facilities

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These people are protesting the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for holding events at Trump resorts. Good thing, since Donald Trump earns money from their fundraisers than what his foundation gaves to them.

Donald Trump has been accused of directing money toward several charities that in turn paid the Trump Organization to host charity events at Trump-owned resorts and golf clubs. High-profile charity events at Mar-a-Lago cost as much as $300,000. Notable examples include:

  • In 2010, Donald Trump was personally honored by the Palm Beach Police Foundation after the Trump Foundation donated to the charity $150,000 during the 2009-2010 period. According to the police foundation’s public tax records, the Palm Beach Police Foundation paid the Trump Organization $276,463 in rent in 2014 for it “Police Ball and Auction” held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago hotel. The 2014 tax filings also lists $44,332 in unattributed “direct expenses” the police foundation paid for the same event along with $36,608 in “direct expenses” for its annual “Golf Classic” it holds yearly at a Trump Organization-owned golf course. For each of the 4 years prior to 2014, the police foundation’s public tax records show significant “direct expenses” incurred for both the Police Ball and Auction and the golf tournament. Though filings don’t list expense categories.
  • In 2013, according to The Washington Post, Donald Trump donated to the V Foundation, a cancer-fighting founded by former basketball coach Jim Valvano, in return for the V Foundation hosting a fundraiser at his Trump Winery in Virginia.
  • The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute paid the Trump Organization substantial fees to hold annual events at Mar-a-Lago. In turn, the Trump Foundation granted a total of $85,000 to the Institute in 2006 and 2007, among other grants in subsequent years.

Donald Trump taking personal credit for donations made using foundation money

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Donald Trump often likes to boast about his philanthropy. But in reality, he often donated to charity using other people’s money from his Trump Foundation personal piggy bank. And he’s said to be one of the least charitable billionaires to date.

In 2016, both Fox News and The Washington Post reported that Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed in public to have made over “$102 million” in charitable donations “in the past five years.” The Trump Organization provided journalists with a 93-page donation list. None of the cash donations were confirmed to come from Trump personally while many were grants from the Trump Foundation, which no longer contained any of his own money.

For instance, Donald Trump took personal credit while honored for a Trump Foundation grant to the Palm Beach Police Foundation that actually came from an outside source. Though he pledge money personally before the Trump Foundation solicited $150,000 earmarked for the police foundation from an unrelated philanthropic organization, the Charles Evans Foundation. It took that money and paid it to the Palm Beach charity. The police then personally honored Trump with its annual Palm Tree Award at his Mar-a-Lago hotel during its annual fundraiser. The Washington Post wrote that, Trump had effectively turned the Evans Foundation’s gifts into his own gifts, without adding any money of his own.”

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has honored Donald Trump variously as “Grand Benefactor” and “Grand Honorary Chair” at its annual fundraisers held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. However, Trump may have also earned money from the event fees he received from the Institute than the Trump Foundation paid to them in grants. Since 2010, Trump has directed at least $300,000 in Trump Foundation grants to the Institute.
On his prime-time TV show, The Apprentice, Donald Trump has received highly visible praise for his personal generosity on multiple occasions. He’s frequently offered to make generous donations to his contestants’ charities. But records show that he ultimately directed the Trump Foundation to make a grant or instead had the show’s network, NBC Universal to make the donation instead. Examples include:

  • A 2008 episode where Donald Trump told mixed martial artist Tito Ortiz, “I think you’re so incredible that — personally, out of my own account — I’m going to give you $50,000 for St. Jude’s [children’s hospital].” St. Jude’s is also Eric Trump’s favorite charity. Trump then had the Trump Foundation make a $50,000 grant to the children’s hospital.
  • In 2012, Donald Trump promised at least 6 personal $10,000 donations each to contestants’ chosen charities on a Celebrity Apprentice episode. In another episode from the same season, he pledged $10,000 to contestant Aubrey O’Day’s chosen charity, a gift “that moved [contestant and comedienne Lisa] Lampanelli to tears.” According to The Washington Post’s review of the tax filings, Trump directed all this money to be granted to the charities out of Trump Foundation funds.
  • In 2013, Donald Trump promised personal $20,000 donations each to charities of basketball star Dennis Rodman, singer La Toya Jackson, Playboy Playmate Brande Roderick, and actor Gary Busey. Trump then used Trump Foundation money to make the payments. He told them, Remember, Donald Trump is a very nice person, okay?” According to a Washington Post reporter reviewing the show’s transcripts, by 2013, “contestants had come to expect these gifts — and even to demand them, when Trump didn’t offer money on his own.”
  • For a $14,000 gift to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, a Marliee Matlin’s chosen charity, Donald Trump was credited this this “personal donation” though it actually came from the Trump Foundation.

Other alleged examples include:

  • In 2009, Donald Trump appeared on Extra where he promised to pay a struggling viewer’s domestic bills. “This is really a bad time for a lot of people,” he said as the contest was announced. Trump eventually paid the winner with Trump Foundation money. A Trump representative later explained the grant was legal because the winner qualified as an “indigent” individual under Internal Revenue Code section 4945(d)(3), a contention at least one tax expert has disputed.
  • Donald Trump was honored with a chair and a plaque with his name at the Raymond J. Kravis Center of the Performing Arts after the Trump Foundation donated $10,000.
  • In 2014, Donald Trump took personal credit for a $25,000 Trump Foundation grant at a speech honoring slain journalist, James Foley. At the time The New Hampshire Union Leader published an article titled Trump leads tribute for slain journalist James Foley. Foley was posthumously awarded the 12th annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award, “given annually to New Hampshire organizations or residents who protect or exemplify the liberties listed in the First Amendment to the Constitution.” Trump was the ironic, “featured speaker of the event.” Compare this to how Trump regularly attacks the media for reporting negative stories about him instead of lavishing him with unearned praise like Fox News does. Or how he’s willing to defend Vladimir Putin or the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince despite that these 2 have had journalists murdered.
  • In 2016, Donald Trump received personal praise for a $100,000 Trump Foundation grant to the National September 11 Memorial Museum ahead of the 2016 New York State Republican primary.

Making grants to other private foundations without fulfilling IRS “expenditure responsibility” rules

By law, the Trump Foundation was responsible for ensuring that any grant it takes to another private foundation is strictly used for charitable purposes. To fulfill this IRS “expenditure responsibility” the foundation is required to attach “full and detailed” reports describing the grant money’s uses to its IRS 990 tax return for each year to a private foundation is made. Trump Foundation tax returns show it failing to do this all of the 20 grants it made to private foundations from 2005-2014. Such grants in this period totaling to $488,500 could be subject to significant fines and penalties.

Receiving donation from Ukranian oligarch during 2016 presidential campaign

In 2015, Ukrainian Victor Pichkun donated $150,000 to the Trump Foundation in return for Donald Trump’s video conference link appearance at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. The appearance was broadcast on a large screen and lasted 20 minutes, including translation and technical difficulty delays. Pichkun is the son-in-law of former Ukranian president Lionid Kuchima. In 2018, the New York Times reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating this donation as a possible illegal in-kind foreign national campaign contribution intended to curry favor with then-candidate Donald Trump.

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.

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.