Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech was actually a fundraiser for a veterans group with no members

Last night, Donald Trump gave a foreign policy address aboard the USS Iowa, where he received the endorsement of Veterans for a Strong America, a veterans group that previously defended him when he claimed that Senator John McCain wasn’t a war hero.

Except by “foreign policy address” I mean “fundraiser.” And by “a veterans group” I mean “one guy from South Dakota.”

You see, Veterans for a Strong America is as much of a “group” as Kenyon Grads for a Strong AMERICAblog is a group. As reported by Rachel Maddow last night the organization’s only “member” is its founder, Joel Arends. And while Arends is himself a veteran, his organization doesn’t exactly trade in big activist or financial numbers. According to FEC filings, the organization had $30 cash on hand and a little over $300 in debts — to a company Arends also owns — as of their last filing. Here’s the Maddow clip:

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And in case you were wondering if there was any actual foreign policy discussed in Trump’s foreign policy address, there wasn’t. The closest he got to detailing any actual proposal was to say that he’d make the military so big that no one would bother to mess with us. Apart from that, he bungled basic facts — the most egregious being his claim that the Iranian assets that will be un-frozen as part of the Iran Deal are actually taxpayer dollars — and drifted into his more familiar rhetorical territory of bashing immigrants and reminding everyone how well he’s doing in the polls. He also took care to reminded everyone that veterans are being treated terribly — another problem he has a secret plan to fix — since, after all, he had an endorsement to receive and funds to raise.

Donald Trump and Joel Ardesen, screenshot via

Donald Trump and Joel Arends, screenshot via YouTube

Giving a foreign policy-free foreign policy address on a battleship named for an early primary state in order to raise money for shell group that you used as a prop to deflect criticism over wildly offensive past comments is about the most Trumpian thing Donald Trump could have done the night before the second Republican debate. It combined his marketing gravitas with knack for shameless grift, his proud disdain for expertise with his expertise in the Art of the Con.

The more interesting question here is whether any of his opponents call him out on this tonight. One would think that Republican voters would like to know whether Donald Trump is using a fake veterans group for political gain.

Then again, maybe Republican voters care more about the facade of valor than its theft.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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23 Responses to “Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech was actually a fundraiser for a veterans group with no members”

  1. Indigo says:

    Which brings us to the topic of Hungary today, apparently striving for the title of Texas in Europe. Intolerance and pig-headedness, can’t beat that combination.

  2. Number Six says:

    What’s even more amazing is what the Trumpster’s followers are capable of ignoring.

  3. Indigo says:

    One thing I have learned from voting in Presidential elections since the election of President Johnson is never to second guess the Republicans. In 1980 they rejected George W. Bush and John Anderson, both sensible and established choices, to run with a divorced B movie actor in poor health. That reign of terror could pale compared to the tub-thumping we can expect from President Trump. Be very afraid.

  4. UncleBucky says:

    Well, I still think all this grandstanding is simply red herring for Jebya.

    Yes, I believe that Jebya will still be the candidate. There is NO OTHER candidate with as much stability and perceived lack of bad baggage.

    BTW, visualise: PRESIDENT BERNIE SANDERS 2017!!! (I’m there)

  5. BeccaM says:

    Good combo there, George.

  6. 2karmanot says:


  7. BeccaM says:

    Meanwhile, of course, Trump proves yet again he has no familiarity whatsoever with the book he claims is his favorite.

    In an attempt to perhaps pander to conservative Christians who make up a sizable chunk of the GOP’s voting base, Republican candidate Donald Trump cited a verse from the Bible that apparently doesn’t exist.

    “There’s so many things that you can learn from it (The Bible),” CNN reports Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview. “Proverbs, the chapter ‘never bend to envy.’ I’ve had that thing all of my life where people are bending to envy.”

    CNN tried to find the Proverb that says “never bend to envy,” and came up short, and notes that while Trump has cited the Bible as his favorite book on numerous occasions, he’s never been able to quote an actual verse.

    They came up short, of course, because that phrase/verse not only isn’t in Proverbs, it exists nowhere else in the Bible either. Of course, what Trump was really saying is he believes everybody envies him. How any Christian can listen to Trump and not immediately conclude he’s pandering and talking to them like he thinks they’re all idiots is beyond me.

  8. emjayay says:

    Actually the Iron Curtain worked pretty well. Lots of guard towers, wide no-go zone, multiple fences, razor wire, maybe some land mines, and most importantly orders to shoot to kill on sight. Not cheap, but effective.

  9. GeorgeMokray says:

    US media is almost all now based upon a Society of the Spectacle in constant crisis to promote the addictive system that is our political and social “culture.” Chomsky + Guy DeBord + Anne Wilson Schaef provide good explanations of what is really going on.

  10. BeccaM says:

    You could have a point. Actually, I’m beginning to see a bit of news-cycle traction in the reports (including in the Murdoch-owned WSJ) about Trump supporting Democratic candidates — including Jimmy Carter against Reagan. That might be the angle the GOPer kingmakers work with.

  11. Indigo says:

    Actually, that makes sense. Just pray it isn’t the Jebster.

  12. nicho says:

    He’s sheepdogging — whether he knows it or not. The cast of characters in the GOP race at this point is generating the excitement you would expect from a bucket of lukewarm spit. If there isn’t some excitement, the “base” is going to start drifting. Trump is being used to keep the sheep in the pasture until the Koch Brothers decide who is going to carry the banner. At that point, Trump will be given the Ross Perot “crazy as a bedbug” treatment and they will try to shift the excitement over to Mitt or whoever they decide to run as the “sane” alternative to the current freak show.

  13. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, me too, Indigo. I have even made myself watch a couple of Trump’s speeches and it’s nothing but end-to-end boasting and self-aggrandizement, coupled with a simplistic and almost infantile worldview, and of course seasoned heavily with jingoism and xenophobia.

    So now I’m asking, as are you, “Whose interests are served by propping up this would-be fascist?”

  14. BeccaM says:

    Yeah… if it was easy to completely seal borders, there would be no Syrian refugees trying to get into the UK now.

    Lots of folks aren’t old enough these days to remember the partition of Germany. The Soviet Union and East Germany did their damnedest to keep their own people from being able to flee to the west. It didn’t work, not even with walls, razor-wire, minefields and machine guns.

  15. Indigo says:

    I’ve converted to near-Chomsky-ism. The propaganda paradigm works much better as a tool to understand/decode the mainstream media than assuming a news and analysis approach in any of them. Whose interests are they advancing? What are they concealing? What stereotypes are they manipulating? How much information was included and how was it clouded with anecdote, irrelevant human interest, and gaps in the information stream?

  16. Zorba says:

    Someone once said (it may have been Molly Ivins, or she may have been quoting someone else), “Show me a ten-foot wall (between here and Mexico), and I’ll show you an 11-foot ladder.”
    Desperate people will find a way.

  17. BeccaM says:

    It’s more for me than them, as I expect to be ignored.

  18. Zorba says:

    Good luck with that. The media’s fascination with, and constant reporting about, Donald Trump is pervasive. And, as you said, amounts to free campaign commercials.
    Where is Edward R. Murrow, or someone like him, in the mainstream media today?

  19. Indigo says:

    It’s amazing what The Trumpster is capable of ignoring.

  20. BeccaM says:

    I’ve written MSNBC a few times already in the last couple of weeks, complaining about their seemingly 24/7 Trump free-airtime campaign commercials masquerading as a news and analysis network.

  21. BeccaM says:

    With one big, classy, gold-encrusted door. And obviously there is only a single border crossing between the U.S. and Mexico. I mean, it’s not like tens of thousands of people and vehicles (including trucks and trains) legally cross that border at literally dozens of points along the 1500 mile border every single day. One big, beautiful door, one bottleneck, no problem, right?

    Just gotta make sure nobody knows how to swim or make boats either.

  22. tedmills says:

    No candidate is going to call out Trump–they’re probably jealous of these tactics. “Trump, that’s some next-level shit! Why didn’t we think of that?”

  23. Indigo says:

    . . . and the Mexican government will gladly pay for the Wall. It’s going to be a beautiful wall, a regular TajMaTrump of a Wall.

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