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President Trump, that ol' conflict-of-interest scamp, has just had another whole slew of trademark applications approved in China, not that there's anything wrong with a smart businessman making money off his name while in office. OK, technically there are plenty of things wrong with it, including maybe violating the Constitution's emoluments clause and any number of ethics rules, but it's pretty clear Congress has no real interest in whether Trump's international businesses are a problem, because he's not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and so why do we even care that Trump's trademark applications seem to be getting approved remarkably quickly anyway? Like his taxes, it's really none of our business, because Trump loves America and hates China, which is why he appears to be gearing up to do a lot of business there -- to teach the bastards a lesson about how rich he can get off them. No conflict of interest, though, since Donald Trump himself has turned over the operations to his sons, and he wouldn't actively be involved in the businesses, just get a share of the profits. Thank goodness he's so ethical, or we'd be worried.

According to the Associated Press, the possible new business ventures for the president and his family in China include

branded spas, massage parlors, golf clubs, hotels, insurance, finance and real estate companies, restaurants, bars, and bodyguard and a class of trademarks called "social escort and concierge services"

But the AP is careful to point out that Trump has pinkie-sworn not to start any new foreign deals in office, and that "many companies register trademarks in China only to prevent others from using their name inappropriately," so despite our very unfair headline, don't get your heart set on dating any any Trump-branded pee hookers just yet. We feel simply awful about spreading such fake news.

Still, a lot of nervous nellies think there's something unseemly about the President even getting a load of trademarks approved, in his own name, in a country he spent much of the campaign accusing of being terribly, terribly unfair to American workers:

Concerns about potential conflicts of interest are particularly sharp in China, where the courts and bureaucracy are designed to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.

Dan Plane, a director at Simone IP Services, a Hong Kong intellectual property consultancy, said he had never seen so many applications approved so expeditiously.

"For all these marks to sail through so quickly and cleanly, with no similar marks, no identical marks, no issues with specifications — boy, it's weird," he said.

Given the impact Trump's presidency could have on China, Plane said he would be "very, very surprised" if officials from the ruling Communist Party were not monitoring Trump's intellectual property interests.

"This is just way over your average trademark examiner's pay grade," he said.

Well, that's, like, just your opinion, man. Why all the McCarthyism against our friends the Chinese, huh? It'd be nice to see an American making some money off them for a change, wouldn't it? (There, Mr. Spicer, all ready for your afternoon press briefing.)

A couple of ethics lawyers, Normen Eisen and Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics attorneys for presidents Obama and G.W. Bush, respectively, and show up on cable TV like a government-ethics version of the old balcony guys from the Muppet Show, warn Trump's foreign business ties could be trouble for the country. Eisen told the AP:

Every American should be profoundly concerned by this enormous expansion of President Trump's entanglements with China [...] If the president is receiving these flows of benefits from China, how can he be trusted to staunch the flow of jobs from the United States to that country?

Painter added,

A routine trademark, patent or copyright from a foreign government is likely not an unconstitutional emolument, but with so many trademarks being granted over such a short time period, the question arises as to whether there is an accommodation in at least some of them.

The two attorneys are taking part in a lawsuit accusing the Trump administration of violating the Constitution, so Trump dismisses their concerns as so much hooey. Trump's own White House ethics advisor, a discarded gym sock, could not be reached for comment.

We should note the AP did find an attorney who sort of defended the Trump branding efforts in China; Spring Chang, who has represented the Trump Organization in the past, wouldn't comment specifically on Trump's trademarks, but said she advises her clients to pursue defensive trademarks to keep other companies from using their names unfairly in China. If anyone's selling Trump Escort Service tee shirts, it should be the Trump organization and not some pretenders.

"I don't see any special treatment to the cases of my clients so far," she added. "I think they're very fair and the examination standard is very equal for every applicant."

Well, then. Since she wasn't talking about Trump specifically, that's terribly reassuring: Trump's Chinese lawyer says she's certain the Chinese government, with which she has to stay on good terms, is scrupulously fair and equal. Sounds credible to us!

Also, at the risk of needing your tinfoil hat, let's also point out this note from the Twitter machine, reminding us of one detail from the infamous "Steele Dossier," which is still unverified but becoming more credible as some of its details have been checked out:

Mind you, those specific claims haven't been verified, so let's not go wild with speculation just yet. It would be premature and a disservice to assume the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence to draw attention away from his business deals elsewhere, like maybe China, or "other emerging countries" -- like maybe Azerbaijan -- so let's not fly off the handle and start assuming he's guilty.

Very unfair indeed! It's probably nothing. The only way to know whether we need to be concerned would be if Trump releases his taxes (never) or if he suddenly starts tweeting out of nowhere about Hillary Clinton and uranium.

[Associated Press]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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