Scotland: A Nexus for Trouble?

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

I started writing this post back in early 2018. Might even have been very late 2017, I can’t tell now. Something about Scotland bothered me at the time even though I’m a keen fan of the country.

Now I’m even more bothered than I was when I first started putting words together about Scotland.

~ ~ ~

There is an old maxim for which I can’t find attribution: “He who holds Stirling, holds Scotland.” Stirling is smack between the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands, on the Central Belt of Scotland — the country’s heart. The saying may once have referred to Stirling Castle, but one might wonder if it means something more today.

The University of Stirling, eighth largest in Scotland, is built on the grounds of a different castle. A public school founded in 1967 by royal charter, the school is relatively young compared to University of St. Andrews (1410) and University of Glasgow (1451). It’s comparable in size to small American state universities. It reorganized in 2016 into four faculties and two schools — faculties of Social Science, Arts and Humanities, Natural Science, Health Sciences and Sport, Stirling School of Management and Stirling Graduate School.

It’s the Faculty of Arts and Humanities to which I want to draw attention, as it includes the London Academy of Diplomacy.

You may also know this as the school which employed Professor Joseph Mifsud, the Russian agent who told Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos that Russia had Hillary Clinton emails.

You probably read reporting on Mifsud’s mid-2017 disappearance. If you haven’t, check out the detailed profile on this archived page and the University of Stirling’s student newspaper online. Read them while you can; our fellow contributor Jim White noted in January 2018 how Mifsud’s profile online was being scrubbed (indeed, the underlying source for the archived site above has an odd habit of going offline erratically).

What puzzles me after reading quite a lot about Mifsud: how did the London Academy of Diplomacy end up at Stirling — who suggested it, set up the curriculum, funded it?

Why does LAD look like a clone of DAL — the Diplomatic Academy of London — but located in Stirling instead of London?

And why Stirling, Scotland, located a mere 17 miles from Gleneagles Hotel, far away from the United Kingdom’s diplomatic action? Its population is around 36,000, it’s located inland away from an ocean port, and it doesn’t even have an airport.

Even smaller Gleneagles is an interesting location; the site is beautifully rural and easy to secure. It’s been used for a G8 meeting for this reason.

Mifsud is very little less of a mystery now than he was 18 months ago, but there’s more not quite right about Scotland when it comes to U.S. politics.

~ ~ ~

Why, for instance, did Steve Bannon show up at a “secret” meeting hosted by think tank Scotland International Ltd. (SIL) at Gleneagles in early December 2017? SIL was founded and funded by investment banker Sir Angus Grossart; the think tank hosts a “secret” meeting each year.

Bannon also met with former Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg that same trip — both of whom are staunch Brexit supporters.

Scottish papers didn’t stint when labeling Bannon and his presentation; he was called “dangerous” and a “far right agitator” and his reception was described as chilly.

Bannon’s appearance at SIL also hasn’t aged well; his host Grossart received the Pushkin medal from Putin in October 2018, which didn’t agree with Scotland and the rest of the UK after the Skripals’ poisoning. Why does Bannon’s circle have so few degrees of separation from Russia and Putin, even in Scotland?

It may be the relationship between the so-called “economic nationalism” Bannon claims he espouses and Putin’s desire to destabilize the EU and NATO. Grossart is also the chairman of Charlotte Street Partners (CSP), a lobbying group which sought to disrupt education reform:

“… Proposals from the Scottish Government sought to expand democratic decision making in higher education, following previous conflict over departmental cuts and excessive salaries for top university officials.

While the proposals gained support from staff trade unions and student groups, universities management representatives criticised the plans and claimed that the bill threatens the charitable status of universities. …”

Why was there such invested effort in mucking up government and organized labor and student groups? CSP’s work looks like that of the U.S. right-wing think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy, funded in part by the DeVos family. Mackinac Center has been intent on shaking out government funding to redirect to private charter schools (school choice), undermining collective bargaining power, while promoting hijacking teachers’ union retirement funds to private investment management.

Is Grossart looking to sink his chops into management of Scottish teachers’ pension funds if Scotland’s government is rattled by whatever happens after Brexit?

~ ~ ~

It was our illustrious Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who first triggered my spider senses about Scotland, what with his sketchy request for a military plane for his vacation, including his honeymoon with Scottish actress Louise Linton during early August 2017. A subsequent investigation by the Office of the Inspector General for the Treasury Department indicates Mnuchin’s office requested the plane on August 1 for a trip beginning August 3, and that the request was withdrawn.

That trip and any others Mnuchin took using military planes should be the subject of a House Oversight Committee hearing if not House Armed Services Committee if they investigate military aircraft flying to airports or bases near Trump hotels or resorts.

What I want to know now, though:

— Did he conduct any U.S. Treasury business while on this August 2017 trip? If so,

— Did this trip take him to the airport closest to his in-laws’ digs near Edinburgh, Melville Castle?

— Or did Mnuchin’s trip in August 2017 fly into Glasgow Prestwick Airport near Trump’s Turnberry golf course, whether or not he flew on a military aircraft?

— Were any accommodations during this trip paid for by Mnuchin or were they charged to the U.S. government, and were those charges audited against any U.S. government business conducted during his trip?

Assuming he did U.S. government business I’d expect no less from Mnuchin’s expense reporting than I would at a Fortune 500 company — all government business fully documented and accounted for with receipts.

Mnuchin’s first trip requesting and using a military aircraft was in March 2017 for the G-20 event; the routing on the aircraft request was for London/Berlin/Baden-Baden. But did this military aircraft stop at Prestwick?

Was Mnuchin’s second flight using a military aircraft in May 2017 to Bari, Italy a direct flight from the U.S., or did it stop at Prestwick?

It’s odd that both trips were so close in total amount of aircraft time — 18.83 hours for the first trip, 19.66 hours for the second trip. Very odd.

Odder yet: for Mnuchin’s eighth trip using a military aircraft, this time to the Middle East in October 2017, there’s no reported total aircraft time in the memorandum from the Treasury’s OIG (pdf). The investigation into the previous seven flights was conducted before the Middle East trip.

How convenient.

~ ~ ~

Glasgow Prestwick Airport, of course, is the one that U.S. military planes have been stopping at for refueling while their crews and passengers stay at nearby pricey Trump golf resort, on the Department of Defense’s dime. Our dime.

If you follow the tweet above you’ll note someone determined the date of this Google Earth photo — June 17, 2018 — which means the U.S. military had been boosting Glasgow Prestwick Airport and possibly Trump Turnberry as well. The House is now looking into this.

When was the first U.S. military plane refueling visit to Prestwick, though? Was it August 2017?

No, it looks even earlier, and on Jim Mattis‘ watch as then-Secretary of Defense (note the date, description, and content on the photo at the top of this article). But this doesn’t answer whether Mnuchin’s borrowed planes also sponged off taxpayers to line Trump’s pockets.

We don’t know what other executive branch departments have borrowed military aircraft and/or stayed at Trump hotels and resorts yet, either.

There also doesn’t seem to be a good explanation for why U.S. government aircraft have increasingly stopped at Glasgow Prestwick Airport before Trump was inaugurated.

… The Air Force’s use of the Prestwick airport has also steadily grown. Indeed, the use of the facility has nearly tripled — and overnights in the area increased more than five-fold, the Air Force acknowledged Sunday.

From 2015 to 2019, they said, Air Mobility Command aircraft stopped at the civil airport 936 times. Of those, crews stayed overnight in the area 659 times.

The frequency of the stops and overnight stays has increased steadily each year, from 95 stops and 40 overnights in 2015; 145 and 75 in 2016; 180 and 116 in 2017; 257 and 208 in 2018; and 259 stops and 220 overnights through August 2019. …

This doesn’t help appearances whatsoever:

~ ~ ~

This post is a bit clunky because I’ve strung together bits and pieces accumulated for nearly 18 months.

But whatever is going on in Scotland is just as clunky and badly in need of sorting.

110 replies
    • Frank Probst says:

      I agree that the current use of the airport and the resort probably has a simple “grifters gonna grift” explanation, but it looks like this started prior to the inauguration and possibly even before the election in 2016, which I think is what Rayne is zeroing in on here. That means there’s an angle to this that we’re not seeing yet. If the Air Force investigation is truly independent, we may get to see what it is If it’s just for show, it’ll all be buried.

  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Good topic. Lots of other stuff going on, as you point out. The Russians seem to be all over Nigel Farage and Aaron Banks, and Farage and Banks seem to be all over Jacob Rees-Mogg. One might even consider Steve Bannon to be an intermediary. That Scotland will likely renew demands for independence must also be making big capital smack its lips.

    • Tom Marney says:

      “And if Scotland becomes independent, the rest of the UK is done for, politically,” explained Captain Obvious.

      • Rayne says:

        I don’t think that’s the case; ditto for Wales. But the Trident missile’s future is certainly precarious.

        If UK post-no-deal Brexit does worse than an independent Scotland, it wouldn’t be because of Scotland’s independence. It would be the stupidity of xenophobes who can’t see the existing EU single market has been to the UK’s benefit.

        • Frank Probst says:

          Yes, but an independent Scotland would be in an entirely different negotiating position than the UK currently is in. They could negotiate directly with the EU for a Norway-style relationship, or they could apply for EU membership as an independent state. (Or both, depending on how the timelines work out.)

          • bmaz says:

            I don’t understand it all well enough, but why wouldn’t the non-Britain entities want to gather their independence and stay part of the EU? They have been flirting with this for a while now. Here is their opportunity. The ex-UK will deal with them, because they will have to.

          • Rayne says:

            I haven’t seen anything to suggest Scotland wants anything apart from what they currently have as part of the UK. I wonder how many seats they’d still have in EU parliament if Scotland applies immediately or if they lose all representation.

            • Rugger9 says:

              While Earl’s comment above might hint that Scotland’s independence movement might be orchestrated like Brexit was (and that one was) there are plenty of other reasons that Holyrood is not tolerating Westminster’s actions, and Scotland was independent before 1603 (James I / VI personal union) and 1707 (Act of Union) with the matter settled at Culloden in 1715.

              On the whole it is a good partnership, but as of late Westminster has been dictating instead of engaging. I also doubt that big business will be as successful as they think negotiating with the Scottish government, they are very hard bargainers.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                I think the Scots have wanted to be independent from England since Robert the Bruce.

                The momentum for independence is building. The utter shambles in Parliament right now is making the case for it. Were it admitted, it would be a solid contributor to and member of the EU.

                • P J Evans says:

                  England started trying to conquer them long before that. (Wallace was fighting 1297-1305; Eddy 1 died in 1307; the Bruce became king in 1306.)

            • Frank Probst says:

              I guess my question is this: What happens if there’s a “hard Brexit” on October 31, and then Scotland becomes an independent state next summer? (Yes, that’s ridiculously fast, but it’s not really relevant to my question.) At that point, Scotland would have crashed out of the EU along with the rest of the UK. Is there some sort of “fast track” way that they could become part of the EU again, or do they have to go through the same process that every other country does when they apply for EU membership?

              • Herringbone says:

                Scotland’s potential EU membership is actually a tricky subject. The Scots would certainly want full membership in the EU (that’s their vision of independence: small as they are, they’d be the equals of Ireland or any of the Balkan countries in terms of population and the size of their economy). EU membership would also resolve the question of what currency they’d use (though Paul Krugman’s questions about why they’d entrust the ECB with economic management rather than the more localized Bank of England would still be germane).

                But there’s no guarantee that Scotland would be admitted, mostly because several big players in the EU would see the admission of a breakaway region as setting a bad precedent. Spain, especially, is regarded as unlikely to approve membership, given the serial crises they’re having to deal with in Catalonia.

                In short, they’d have to reapply for membership, and there are reasons to think they wouldn’t have an easy time of it.

                • Rayne says:

                  I think you’ve forgotten the Royal Bank of Scotland; it will figure into this equation somehow. The bank has already been preparing for Brexit, communicating with its customers, preparing banking facilities abroad to maintain links with the ECB. The big problem is RBS’ size — the bank says its balance sheet is too big for Scotland and will likely need to move to London. I doubt RBS would pull out of Scotland entirely, though; Scots are a better risk per capita than Brits, improving their overall balance sheet.

                  As for legitimacy, Scotland has a lengthy history of trying to break away from British control (cripes, our own Declaration of Independence may have been modeled in part on the Declaration of Arbroath circa 1320). As of two years ago 50 MEPs were in favor of speedily allowing Scotland membership to the EU; I’d be surprised if this number hasn’t increased several fold.

                  • Herringbone says:

                    All good points. A couple of responses: the ECB vs. BOE comparison was about Scotland moving from the Pound to the Euro and what it would mean for monetary policy. A small country like Scotland has to look at what happened to Greece and wonder if they wouldn’t be better off with monetary policy set by the Bank of England, which would at least respond specifically to the UK economy. RBS is big, no doubt, but it doesn’t set monetary policy in Scotland or anywhere else in the UK.

                    The European Parliament doesn’t vote on admitting members; entry negotiations are done via the Commission, and each individual EU member government has to sign off on the entry treaty. If Spain wanted to veto Scotland’s membership, they could easily do so. Protests by MEPs in Brussels (or is it Strasbourg?) haven’t stopped the Spanish government from locking up Catalonian separatist leaders, even though a couple of them also happen to be MEPs. It’s by no means a given that Spain would veto Scotland’s entry, but again, Scotland has no guarantees.

                    • Rayne says:

                      RBS being partially state-owned (by Scotland), I don’t see why Scotland would rely on BOE for monetary policy or any other financial+economic benchmark particularly since no-deal Brexit will throw any BOE policies for a loop. No-deal BOE will be under pressure to increasingly regress to decisions based on pound sterling instead of the euro, the opposite of Scotland.

                      Greece is a poor example, the product of economic hitmen and crappy management; I pitied Yanis Varoufakis trying to guide Greeks into plugging that long-sinking ship’s hull. While a sizable chunk of its economy is based on oil exports, it’s had a bad balance sheet for a very long time. Scotland is in better shape economically than Britain; it currently exports about 15% of its GDP as North Sea oil and gas. Its challenge over the short term is that it exports far too much to the rest of the UK compared to the EU; though its oil reserves are somewhere around USD$1 trillion, they must plan for a day when fossil fuels are not their largest single export (while dealing with their vulnerability on food imports). A better model would be Iceland but instead of simply existing within the European Economic Area, going for full EU membership, and avoiding the mistake Iceland made pre-2008 crash by overweighting financial services.

                      As for Spain: they already said they wouldn’t veto Scotland’s membership.

              • Rayne says:

                No idea if there’s a documented fast track. Just as EU law outlined the methodology of an Article 50, there are laws regarding wind-on of a new EU entrant. I imagine there must be some ability for EU parliament to convene a special vote to shortcut the entrance process since Scotland has not assented to Article 50. This article suggests it will take 2-4 years to rejoin the EU. The biggest stumbling block will be commitment to currency; can Scotland maintain the euro until it is a new member of the EU in its own right, though neighboring Britain reverts to GBP only?

                I would be so bloody pissed off right now if I were a Scot.

                • Puzzled Scottish Person says:

                  Well, speaking as someone born and brought up in the Highlands (but then lived and worked in Englandshire for many years), I am, firstly, ashamed that Rayne seems to have a vastly superior knowledge of my country’s history than I ever learnt at school; and, secondly, yes, I am indeed bloody pissed off by Boris’s attempts to ape Donald Trump.

                  I do hope that Nicola Sturgeon, or someone close to her, is looking into Trump’s tax returns here because he does appear to have been somewhat inconsistent in assessing the value of his Scottish properties, depending on which tax authority is doing the assessment. In other words, it’s probably not just your country that is getting tangerine-weasel-fucked here.

                  I need to do a bit of research first but I suspect it’s time for a letter to my local MP.

                  • Rayne says:

                    I hope you write to both your MP and the Scottish tax authority, Revenue Scotland, and ask if an audit has been conducted of Trump’s taxes looking for understatement of property values reported in Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (now-2015) and Stamp Duty Land Tax (2015-earlier). His former lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee here in the U.S. implies this is a habit. Scots need tax revenues owed them when Trump’s businesses place increased demand on government services.

                    Do let us know if you write and hear back from your MP on this. Hope you’ll have access to conclusive information under FOISA. :-)

          • e.a.f. says:

            and once that is achieved there will be money to be made in the new country. perhaps these are explorations as to how to make that money and how to access the oil in the North Sea and what military equipment can be sold and can they win an independent Scotland away from NATO.

      • P J Evans says:

        In the 19th century, they got the funding for maintenance by marrying daughters of American robber barons.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Sadly, buying up old titles, along with a bit of land still attached to them, is still very much around. The titles confer few rights, and none to sit in the Lords. Apart from the real estate, it’s like buying the right to wear you’re own tartan. It might get you first off the tee at a Trump club, I don’t think it would get you a better seat in an Edinburgh restaurant.

        Separately, I would not ignore that the UK really is Airstrip One for the US. I don’t think that even Chalmers Johnson counted all the US bases there.

        Apart from obvious Air Force and Navy sites, many are quite small. They are scattered about, normally with local sounding signage that avoids disclosing the US connection. Several are quite important for signals intelligence.

  2. Zwik says:

    I’d love to see what kind of multi-dimensional modeling system all of you use to document and order all the moving parts involved in these countless scandals and sinister connections.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know about my fellow contributors — Marcy has a holographic memory, as far as I can tell — but my system looks a lot like a bunch of text files, spreadsheets, and sticky notes. LOL

      EDIT: I was just joking with a friend this past week about one project (for lack of a better word) that looks like a detective’s board in my head with all manner of pins and tacks stuck in corkboard with red yarn strung to map networks.

  3. BobCon says:

    Looming over the issue of Scottish independence is control over the North Sea oil and natural gas and whether Scotland nationalizes production or raises taxes significantly.

    A state owned Chinese company announced a major natural gas discovery in Scottish waters earlier this year, and Scotland has long been tempted by the prospect of setting up a sovereign wealth fund in the manner of Norway, which expects to be benefiting from investments long after their oil production shuts down.

    Naturally, a lot of interests are not happy with the idea of Scotland changing the rules set up by the UK. I’m sure there is a lot of pressure by dark money in the mix.

    • e.a.f. says:

      A Chinese corporation, that puts a whole different spin on things. Perhaps China wants an air base which can be used without too many military prying eyes. A Communist government of China corporation in Scotland’s new independent oil fields off shore. omg, how wonderful to establish a base or at least a place to have a good look from and into the rest of England and parts of Europe

      Chinese corporations mean more members of the Communist Party of China taking up residence and as we have seen just recently in Canada, they don’t take well to protests in Canada supporting Hong Kong democracy. One of their little “protests” included circling a church in Vancouver, B.C. which was holding a prayer meeting to support Hong Kong protestors.

    • Frank Probst says:

      When it comes to learning about new things, I need pretty much what the youngs call EL5–Explain it to me like I’m a 5 year-old. If you need a quick primer on sovereign wealth funds, there was an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (on Netflix) that explains them. Minhaj splits them into two categories: Like Norway’s, where the management of the money is fairly transparent, and the money goes to the people; and, well, “not like Norway’s”, which is all of the other ones. If an independent Scotland created a sovereign wealth fund, I’d imagine that it would be modeled like Norway’s is. There will be dark money, and the Chinese will be involved, and both of those things would siphon some money off of what goes into the fund, but as Rayne has pointed out, an independent Scotland would likely want to have the same international relationships that it has right now as part of the UK, which would mean membership in both NATO and the EU. I don’t see it allying itself with China any more than membership in those two groups would allow.

      • P J Evans says:

        I always thought that the “dumb questions’ were the best ones to ask, because then they’d need to provide clear answers, instead of assuming you know it already. (In my case, I was working literally without the manual: the lead person never provided one for me (I wasn’t supposed to be working in the database), and assumed that I knew all of the stuff in that manual already, even after I asked for a copy so I could find out what I was supposed to already know.)

  4. Eureka says:

    I can’t hear Mnuchin (-Linton) without also hearing Blavatnik (et al.).

    And what was that about Butina and her jet fuel deal?

    Music’s Mystery Mogul: Len Blavatnik, Trump and Their Russian Friends

    Also the other thought running thru as I read (thanks to Palins in news): I can (almost) see Greenland from my house.

    (Clearly I am going with the defrosting (sub-)Artic/ pipelines-access and lets make all the money themes)

    • Eureka says:

      Oh– plus the timing of Mifsud going missing around when that source in RU was pulled…

      Also there’s another Mnuchin thing at the tip of my…

      Thanks, Rayne. Lots to think about here.

      • Rayne says:

        Yeah. That. The timing was just fuzzy and nebulous enough that I can’t sync Mifsud going AWOL with the exfiltration of that source.

        Do share the Mnuchin thing when you think of it. I don’t think he’s been followed closely enough.

        • Eureka says:

          Rayne, I remembered: long story short, look at the long and recent history, jointly and some severally (wrt overlaps of interests), with Mnuchin and Blackstone/Schwarzman.

  5. Vicks says:

    Selected for “Trump’s aviation operation”?
    What operation?
    “Private jet buyers can now write off the full amount of their new plane’s cost on their tax return, which applies to both new and pre-owned aircraft. That’s due to a policy change within the Trump Administration’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that updated the US tax code to allow 100% bonus depreciation for items such as aircraft.

    For the mega-wealthy of the world, this deduction accounts for much, if not all, of their millions in tax liability — meaning buying a new private jet could practically wipe out their tax bill in the year they buy it.

    The new tax bill also addressed a technical clarification that now prevents operators of private charter flights from being charged with a tax that was originally designed for commercial flights.”

    I’m getting itchy.
    We need to see Trump’s financials.
    Crap, it took me weeks to get the scene where Barr talks about landing the planes out of my head, now it’s back, and he’s wearing a kilt…

  6. Chetnolian says:

    May I offer all you Americans a bit of history?

    The entire US media has failed to do its research.

    When ,someone asks, did the USAF start using Prestwick? Well I am 76, interested in aircraft, grew up in Ayr five miles away and do not remember when the USAF was NOT using it.

    Indeed Prestwick was a USAF base in the 1960s, the major staging post for the Military Air Transport Service. Our skies were full of US planes. As a result it has a very long runway and lots and lots of concrete, built to accommodate all the C54s and C97s.

    Fuel stopping has gone on ever since and you might recall that Guantanamo bound rendition flights were caught stopping there.

    Use may have increased and here’s a possible reason why. The current major staging post is Ramstein, Germany. Now Trump hates the EU and might wish to avoid dependence on anything German, for instance for getting to Iran. So perhaps US planners don’t want Prestwick to shut.

    As for travelling for twenty miles down winding country roads to Turnberry, now that’s another thing entirely.

    • PSWebster says:

      Chetnolian: his post implies a lot. A little wiki reveals long history with military which has been famous for throwing money around to support their “projects”.
      Hey, Elivs was here:
      Elvis Presley stopover

      Plaque commemorating the only occasion when Elvis Presley set foot in the UK.
      Glasgow Prestwick Airport is the only place in the United Kingdom where Elvis Presley (who had distant Scottish ancestry) was known to have set foot, when the United States Air Force transport plane carrying him home to the United States stopped to refuel in 1960, en route from Germany.[10][11]

      I dunno you all but am having a little trouble seeing this as more collusion by the grifter in chief…except when he so vehemently denies it with CAPS does he seem to implicate himself.

    • Rayne says:

      Look, even if the U.S. has used Prestwick for the last 50-60 years, it doesn’t explain why the uptick in military use in 2016 or military spending on accommodations at Turnberry. These should be reviewed by Congress as part of normal oversight.

      If the U.S. military had been using Prestwick so steadily over the years prior to the uptick, why was the airport at risk of closure because it wasn’t able to bring in adequate revenue? Why didn’t the UK negotiate with the US to keep Prestwick open for its use if it has been used so long and so often? This is a huge hole in the logic underlying claims that the U.S. used Prestwick all the time.

      For that matter why hasn’t the U.S. used other facilities other than Prestwick which may have saved the U.S. money? The C-17 flight which kicked off the House investigation flew out of Kuwait; why didn’t it stop at other sites it has used for the same ex-Kuwait trip?

      Like Ramstein Air Base-Germany; Naval Station Rota-Spain; Lajes Air Base-Azores; Naval Air Station Sigonella-Italy — all of which have U.S. military facilities.

      Why not RAF Lakenheath Air Base with which DoD has an agreement including cheaper refueling and accommodations? Or Shannon, Ireland where military flights have also stopped and refueled, where the volume of flights make the facility cheaper to use?

      We made Jimmy Carter sell his peanut farm because of the potential for conflicts of interest but we’re supposed to shrug about the potential for yet another grift via Scotland for Trump? Nope.

    • P J Evans says:

      My UK road atlas shows an A-road from near Prestwick almost to the front door at Turnberry. Not a “winding country road” at all.

  7. e.a.f. says:

    Who owns the fuel concession stand at Prestwick? If the re fueling started prior to the Trump win, it could be all about the sale of fuel and it maybe some one who has lasted over two administrations and isn’t in the “public light”.

    Keeping Prestwick up and running may have some thing to do with something else, which we just don’t know about. If the military airport could be used for re fueling for less money, perhaps they want Prestwick to stay open so things can go in and out of there without being observed by those in the military, who may like to keep an eye on all sorts of things. I do remember reading about people being taken out of the U.S.A. on planes, via some small American airport to “black” private prisons in other part of Europe.

    it is weird, especially if it started pre Trump win. Trump may just have decided to take advantage of a situation, which the rest of us don’t know about. my suggestion: go ask the Scottish P.M.

    Scotland has voted to leave G.B. at one time. Vote to leave, lost. However, as Brexit gets closer, Scotland may decide once again to hold that vote. If they vote to leave G.B. to stay with the E.U. what role does the Prestwick airport play in a new country and again, who holds the fuel concession stand.

    • Rayne says:

      … perhaps they want Prestwick to stay open so things can go in and out of there without being observed by those in the military, who may like to keep an eye on all sorts of things. …

      Really? You’re saying this after I included in my post a tweet with a Google Earth satellite photo of a USAF aircraft on the tarmac at Prestwick?

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If anyone deserves the next Nobel Peace Prize, it is Chef Jose Andres, who founded World Central Kitchen. It has just served its 100,000th meal in the Bahamas. [and]

    But it’s not just about delivering food to eat – it’s the message. We are all here for you during this difficult time.

    Thankfully, a lot of people walk that talk, but few quite as well as Jose Andres. None of them throw paper towels and doodle with a sharpie.

    • Jenny says:

      I agree with you earlofhuntingdon. Yesterday, I sent a check to Chef Andres World Central Kitchen in support of his work to nourish those in need. He touches people with love through food. Authentic man.

  9. scribe says:

    We Americans have been using Prestwick since the earliest days of active US involvement in WWII, when it was one of the major stops on the New England-Gander NF-Greenland-Iceland-Scotland-England ferry corridor for the US’s air forces deploying to England to go after the Germans. In those days very few, if any, aircraft had the ability to fly transatlantic without refueling and the time such a flight would take would definitely exhaust aircrew. Moreover the mechanical unreliability of aircraft (and inexperienced maintenance crews) would have imposed unacceptable losses of aircraft and aircrew from crashes into the ocean when something broke. Shorter hops worked well.

    As to the rest of the data points strewn across the post: who knows?

    • P J Evans says:

      You would think WaPo would pay attention to what goes on in DC, and not forget it in six months, or four or eight years. There was a trial there, after all….

  10. joel fisher says:

    The HJD needs to start an impeachment inquiry with at least 10 sub-committees dealing with the various areas of Trump crime: Russia, cashing in, condo sale to crooks, taxes, bs charities, obstruction, Scotland (why not?), Saudi Arabian murderers, bank fraud, condo sales fraud, money laundering, the list goes on and on.

  11. BobCon says:

    Bolton is fired!

    I realize this could easily be a frying pan to fire situation, but for a minute at least I’m going laugh about Bolton’s monumental stupidity and egotistical self delusion in thinking he could run this circus wagon down the road of his choosing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      John Bolton is an ass and a danger as NSA, but that is not likely why Trump fired him. Whatever the rationale, Bolton’s version of events is more credible.

      Trump defers accepting Bolton’s offer of resignation to avoid the appearance that Bolton has any choice in the matter. He pretends to want to delay his decision, putting it off a day. Trump then grabs the early morning news cycle with a, “You’re fired!” tweet about but not to Bolton. Indirect. Humiliating. Personally arousing for Trump. What fun.

      Too bad about not having a properly staffed national security team. Easy, peasy, though, because if there’s a problem, Donald will just call Vlad and ask him what to do.

    • Vicks says:

      Considering his stance on Trump sucking up to the Taliban, I’m betting Bolton’s solemn tweets about 911 over the last couple of days were those of a passive aggressive looking to give the bear a couple of pokes on his way out.
      Am I the only one that thinks the country may get an earful of information, some interesting out of this guy in the next couple of news cycles?

  12. Chetnolian says:

    What have I done? Here was me thinking I was a friend of this site and I find myself attacked from all sides. Firstly, Rayne, I thought you would want to know that the US had been a low level user of Prestwick over the years but it seems not. Ah well!

    Then I get a lecture from PJ Evans based upon reading of a road atlas about what an A Road is. Trust me, by US standards the A77 is a country road.

    It may not have been as obvious as I thought it was, but the point I was making was that to suggest, as the administration is doing, that Turnberry is anything like convenient to Prestwick, is absurd. They are lying. Who knew?

    If I sound a bit annoyed at being attacked by distant people from the greatest nation on Earth because I might be the only regular lurker who has some local knowledge on this subject it is because I am. I shall just stay away for a while till I calm down.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Thanks for your comments. As you point out – and as Ian Bannen could attest, were he still alive – A roads in Scotland are a mixed bag. Between the terrain and the road quality, driving on them is never quite the same as, say, the A3 or the M11, never mind the rain and fog.

      I agree with Rayne that it is the uptick in military usage since 2017 that is of concern. Trump has obviously shown a close interest in Prestwick since he bought Turnberry in 2014. Why is not clear: he could easily sell whales on helicopter shuttles and others on limo or luxury coach transport to Turnberry.

      Prestwick’s number of flights and tonnage has dropped by two-thirds from its peak, as has the number of passengers. So the airport is in trouble, obvious to the public since Scotland bought it for one pound in 2013.

      The question is why US military flights would be up, given the number of other military airports in Western and Central Europe. Trump does not recognize or do favors for anyone without expecting to get back twice in return.

    • bmaz says:

      Chetnolian, I tried to weigh in on this above.

      Also, no, please do not stay away. We need that input from locals on the other side of the pond. Badly.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Most Americans know little about their own history, next to nothing about the history of their country’s foreign policy, and absolutely nothing about any other country’s history. Many of then would be lucky to find Canada or Mexico on the map.

        • orionATL says:


          i have read regularly about the brexit conflict in britain for months with increasing concern, but with the sense that, even with our shared language and culture, I really do not understand the politics – hell, I don’t even understand the english the guardian uses in describing events.

          I don’t mind guessing, though, where unrestrained, egotistical executive power is taking their nation and mine – over a ledge and down into a deep canyon.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’ve been to the UK. I’ve been on motorways, A-roads, B-roads, and the ones that don’t have labels but have maximum-speed-limit signs and a bend every hundred or so feet. I vividly remember the one east of Rye with several 90-degree bends. (A259, two lanes – but not bad.)
      FWIW, I was looking at A77, which is the main road through the area.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t mind you telling us what you know about Prestwick having been used by the U.S. military.

      I do mind that Donald Trump has been profiting off an uptick in use of airport by our military on top of all the other grifts he’s pulled on U.S. taxpayers. I mind when it’s clearly obvious there are other places the U.S. military can, has, and should go for refueling.

      If you had said exactly this in your first comment, to suggest, as the administration is doing, that Turnberry is anything like convenient to Prestwick, is absurd, you would have made your point succinctly.

      Have a single malt on me. I’m going to in about 2 hours; gods know I need one today.

  13. orionATL says:

    scotland? yes.

    Scotland is the crack in “britain” (aka “the United kingdom”), i.e., england, wales, and scotland, that could allow the brexit wedge being driven by Boris Johnson (you’ve got to love the irony of that name), fronting as prime minister for a tiny minority of wealthy, right-wing tories, to destroy “britain” and simultaneously restart Irish/English terrorism. all this encouraged and possibly funded by the Russian government.

    and after that? Texas or California secession.

    oh what these wealthy spawn of corporations can accomplish. and without an army.

  14. Jenny says:

    Martyn McLaughlin journalist for The Scotsman has written 5 articles about Trump. Here is his twitter with all the articles listed.

    For the interest of new followers, here’s a few other stories I’ve broken recently about Trump Turnberry. First up, from July, the latest in a series of articles detailing how the US State Dept has paid Trump’s resort tens of thousands of dollars:

  15. greengiant says:

    A little known slush fund scam operating in the US and just perhaps in the rest of the world is aircraft landing fees. The cover story is that the landing strips are rated for such and such a useful life and the more weight touching down the usage of that life increases exponentially. My informant told me that on a whim they asked about this at a US airport where they knew the strips had been constructed to higher standards than publicized and were told to leave now. As previously mentioned is the money to be made by refueling. Might be more than the hotel fees on the line.

    • P J Evans says:

      A chunk of that anchor is sects like the Southern Baptists (and far more conservative groups), who teach, starting early, that women aren’t capable of running businesses or government, and really should leave all decisions up to Manly Men and not bother their fluffy brains with that hard stuff.

      • orionATL says:

        I think that is right.

        but my lifetime here tells me that this is a bigger problem than just evangelicals, conservative Catholics, or Mormons. there is an inherent hardness here in the south in both sexes toward government “kindness,” and assistance. I’m thinking that maybe women can be challenged by politicians on these issues more successfully nowadays than in the past using moral arguments. I think there might be more openness to change in conservative bias given the sense of sexism and exploitation has seeped into their consciousness from media stories about weinstein, epstein, dear prez’s paramours, et al.

        using Facebook in 2016 to psych out individual voters wasn’t the Republican party’s first attempt at exploiting classes of voters’ emotions and biases:

        Republicans have been very assiduous at keeping the upper hand thru careful strategy?

    • Rayne says:

      It’s a cult. Follow Chrissy Stroop’s work on evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity and you’ll recognize the cult at work.

      They don’t simply switch gears when their mindset is challenged. We don’t have a mechanism for deprogramming an entire demographic. Southern white women aren’t going to go against the power structure in which they benefit with little effort on their part — one well established by more than a hundred years of deeply racist infrastructure, preventing majority minority communities from breaking racist southern whites’ grip on power.

      This country is increasingly non-white. Eventually demographics will change the power structure. The bigger problem is this interim period when whites become a minority and they desperately claw back power. How will southern white women act at the point when they lose their place just below southern white men? Worry about that, not about challenging their mindset.

      • orionATL says:

        you would think so. the numbers are there, but I am not so confident that dems can depend on demographics. that was the argument by texiera and judas a couple of decades ago, but it just never seemed to take hold. it should have been the case in 2016, but something went wrong. dems won with a royal flush in 2018 in my not especially knowledgeable view strictly on female outrage at Trump over the bret kavanaugh outrage. will Dems be lucky enough to be given – rather than creating thru strategy – another such outrage by the president which generates a tidal wave of anger near voting day 2020?

        yesterday in the suburbs of charlotte, n.c., a competent dem candidate with plenty of money narrowly lost to a republican candidate best known for sponsoring the “bathroom bill” in the state legislature:

        in addition, I have observed a strong conservative feeling in the Hispanics I have interacted with, though non were citizens, well-being,educated, or very interested in politics.

        • P J Evans says:

          NC-09 was actually a more difficult win for the GOP-T than they had expected. (They got bigger wins in previous years, with or without cheating.)

        • Rayne says:

          I think you are forgetting a few key factors about demographics and campaigning.

          — the specific white southern woman crowd is easily identified through their social media habits, easily targeted;
          — southern white women were nowhere near as upset as northern and western blue state women about the Kavanaugh vote; a YouGov poll showed 70% Republican women supported his confirmation, making it likely his support among white southern women was strong;
          — we have NO idea if there was micro-targeting aimed at this audience in 2016 because the swing states’ results drew far more attention, and we have no idea if the same tactics may have been used in 2018 and this special election.

          As for the GOP wins in NC state: I’m not impressed or worried at this point. NC-09 was won within the margin of error in spite of Trump campaigning on Monday in NC. We already know the reason NC-09 was lost based on comparison with 2018 votes — Democrats didn’t turn out for a mid-term election do-over with only a year left in the term and no chance of losing Congressional majority if the seat didn’t swing.

          I haven’t looked at NC-03 yet but I’ll bet the results tell a similar story. Bigger immediate problem is whether either of these far right schmucks will be seated on committees.

          And I’ll also bet there’s a wealth of micro-targeted messaging that propelled the GOP’s two racist, misogynist candidates.

          • orionATL says:

            this is a nice analysis rayne.

            we are looking at different things though.

            I am interested in the future, in the possibility of converting heathens 😊 (a favorite term of one grandmother – “you little heathens making too much noise in heah, go on out and play”) to reliably voting Democrats.

            I think the ice might be breaking with some conservative women based on the widespread and persistent “meetoo” conversation and their own awakening to the blatant sexism within both the general economic system they live in and the fundamentalist/Catholic religious subculture. so I’m wondering how candidates can talk to them. I suggested some essentially moral messages. I suspect you’d want to work beginning with younger women.

            in fact, within the last year or do some powerful leaders of the top of the southern baptist convention were forced out by women’s outrage over hiding sexual abuse. I think additional allegations are starting to show up in their private schools. anywhere you have autocracy and paternalism, you will have this behavior.

            • Rayne says:

              Younger women will be more likely to vote for Democrats. Doesn’t matter where in the U.S. — but young single women are among the most challenging to get to the polls regularly.

              The Parkland shooting was a watershed as has been the gradual regression of women’s reproductive health rights. Older white southern women won’t change; we can only hope the younger ones are reachable because of these issues, and that they will turn out to vote.

              • P J Evans says:

                The big problem is convincing them of that without using anything that would make them think of “feminism” – which many of them seem to consider a dirty word and something to be avoided.

                • Rayne says:

                  Who, older women or younger women? It’s the olds who have a problem with that label thanks to fucking Phyllis Schlafly, may she fry in hell. Ditto with the words socialism and liberal — labels which have been weaponized by Movement Conservatism and Fox News.

                  • P J Evans says:

                    A lot of younger women have been taught that – probably by their mothers, and likely also their church-school teachers.

  16. otionATL says:

    I don’t think this is pop psychology, but I also don’t know just how sound these studies are. certainly the theme has been hiding about in discussions of american voting patterns for years. I do know it it is time to challenge the issue before November 2020.

    • Vicks says:

      Political views start in the home and while some young people will change their positions as their life experiences widen, many women go on to marry a man who bangs the table over religious, political and racial views just like daddy.
      I will argue that because the culture in a conservative home has so many factors that are oppressive to women, with political and religious views designed to keep women barefoot and pregnant and in the home (keeping America “great” you know) the submissive role of these women makes it reasonable to assume they will vote in step with their husbands.
      It also makes sense that women raised in liberal or moderate homes will go on to marry men with similar views. They too will more than likely vote the same as their husbands
      I believe there is another category of women, and that is conservative women touched by the #metoo movement and conservative women in financial situations where the wife simply can’t stay home like in the good ole days.
      Their husbands may be banging the tables like daddy did, but these woman are having real life experiences that are much different than their conservative sisters who live in areas of the country where a single income can still support a family, or women that are “lucky enough” to have husbands with Incomes large enough they can take their judgmental bubble with them wherever they go.
      While not exactly “woke”, lower wages, the high cost of child care, and the brutal honesty of the #metoo movement have these women in an interesting place. The media call it “the suburbs” but i think it’s more complicated than that.

      • orionATL says:

        Vicki’s writes:

        “… I believe there is another category of women, and that is conservative women touched by the #metoo movement and conservative women in financial situations where the wife simply can’t stay home like in the good ole days…
        While not exactly “woke”, lower wages, the high cost of child care, and the brutal honesty of the #metoo movement have these women in an interesting place. The media call it “the suburbs” but i think it’s more complicated than that…”

        this is exactly the key group. but I would also like to see both these and others challenged on moral grounds like accepting as o.k. the mistreatment of refugees, cheating (vote suppression) to win elections, persistent lying to citizens, unchristian treatment of the poor.

        throw in the economic/income factor of women persistently getting less pay for equal work, and you might engineer a conversion to democratic.

        • Vicks says:

          Nix the “challenge” language, many of these women are still in the closet.
          If the goal is to persuade, you need to start with what’s in their wheelhouse.
          Chipping away at Daddy’s version of the how the world works will take empathy. Tribal baggage runs deep

  17. Alan says:

    Scotland is a nexus of trouble for the UK government as well. The Scottish Court of Session’s decision today has put the cat among the pigeons. Three Scottish judges have determined that the PM lied to the Queen and the decision to suspend parliament is therefore “unlawful and is thus null and of no effect”. The government were prepared to lie to the Queen but couldn’t find anyone stupid enough to lie to the Scottish courts and face the legal peril that involved. As they failed to provide a witness statement the court concluded their motives were improper.

    The Court of Session (est. 1532) is the Supreme Court in Scotland. Scotland has a different legal system from England. It now goes to the UK Supreme Court that has to adjudicate conflicting English and Scottish decisions.

    • orionATL says:

      thank you, Alan for this interpretation.

      I read about the Scottish high Court’s decision in the guardian with great interest. but what to make of it? and what was the context?

    • P J Evans says:

      Charlie Stross, raised in England (by actual socialists) and resident in Scotland, has interesting views on this. ( ) In a comment at “Making Light”, he wrote this:
      “(Not sure of the status of the appeal over the English lawsuit—England and Scotland have distinctively different legal systems, and the Scottish one has some subtle constitutional differences—but if that one results in prorogation being ruled legal, while under Scottish law it’s ruled to be illegal, welp, that’s some interesting weed we’re collectively smoking.)”

  18. LaNita Jones says:

    Does this mean he will not be receiving his free Lord of Manx entitlement program? Or perhaps that was promised to Boris the Great. Or perhaps Erik the Prince. The bloodlines of the egaming round table!

  19. Blueride27 says:

    Its funny how the airforce decides what’s worth spending money on. In basic training. We were told that due to funding issues, each trainee was only allowed fewer then 15 bullets to use at the rifle range. You even had to return every shell casing so they could do inventory.

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