Revolted Colonies

U.S. Politics and Culture

Month: August 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

For the Presidential Debate: A Klansman of One’s Own

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A Quote from Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir by J.D. Vance

“We talk about the value of hard work but tell ourselves that the reason we’re not working is some perceived unfairness: Obama shut down the coal mines, or all the jobs went to the Chinese. These are the lies we tell ourselves to solve the cognitive dissonance—the broken connection between the world we see and the values we preach.”
― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Escort-Gate: Tarnishing Melania Trump’s Reputation

www.ohfree.net

It is appalling that online and print media outlets and tabloids have circulated a story suggesting that Melania Trump, the former Melania Knauss, was a paid escort before marrying Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for U.S. President.

Attorney Charles J. Harder has been retained by Mrs. Trump to pursue claims for defamation against Politico and other internet news aggregators, and against the Daily Mail, a UK tabloid. Mr. Harder successfully put Gawker out of business recently by obtaining a judgment of $140 million on behalf of Hulk Hogan for invading his privacy. Gawker published a video of the Hulkster having intimate relations with Heather Clem, at that time the spouse of Bubba the Love Sponge, who it turns out was the camera man for this DIY project. The couple has since divorced.

Mr. Harder issued the following statement regarding Mrs. Trump:

“This law firm is litigation counsel for Melania Trump. Mrs Trump has placed several news organizations on notice of her legal claims against them, including Daily Mail among others, for making false and defamatory statements about her supposedly having been an ‘escort’ in the 1990s. All such statements are 100% false, highly damaging to her reputation, and personally hurtful. She understands that news media have certain leeway in a presidential campaign, but outright lying about her in this way exceeds all bounds of appropriate news reporting and human decency.”

The Daily Mail, a British tabloid with a taste for the sensational, could not back up its claim, relying upon a bizarre third-hand account. The story does not actually accuse Mrs. Trump. As for the Daily Mail, it knows only what it reads in the papers.

Earlier this month, a Slovenian magazine, Suzy, published a front page story claiming Melania’s modeling agency in New York, run by New York entrepreneur, Paolo Zampolli, also operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients. Mr. Zampolli denied the allegations as “f***** rubbish.”

Although Politico and a number of other news aggregators delinked its articles in reference to the Daily Mail article, those publications have not delivered the apology that Mr. Harder demanded. The Daily Mail has not retracted the story or removed it from its website.  That’s because the article is not defamatory.  It does not state that she was an escort or impugn her reputation. It refers to the Suzy magazine article, stating that the Daily Mail was unable to confirm the story. The libel laws in England afford the press less protection than the First Amendment does for the U.S. press. In addition, the losing party in UK litigation must pay all of the attorney’s fees of the victor.  The Daily Mail has been through these wars, and its lawyers must know that they colored within the lines.

Melania Trump is a beautiful woman with a career in modeling, who happens to be married to one of the world’s richest men. It is no reason to abuse her good name with false stories about her being a hooker. She did not bargain for such insults when she decided to wed Mr. Trump. It is unacceptable that such lurid accusations have been made against Mrs. Trump, the modest and family-oriented wife of an American leader in business and, now, politics. There is absolutely nothing to support the Daily Mail’s story. It is another smear, following the Lesbo-Gate and Visa-Gate attacks from prior weeks. It is a perverted media attempt to punish her because she loves a man everyone loves to hate.

By hook or by crook, Melania Trump has worked her way up from her modest background to take her place on the world stage. She is not anyone’s punching bag, and no one puts words in her mouth. She speaks for herself. As a strong, proud, black woman, she will not back down.

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

Why There is a Donald Trump: The Authoritarian Strain

tumblr_obpvgfOkjt1rbam90o1_500 Donald Trump watches Vladimir Putin admiringly, as the despot reassembles the Russian Empire, and he dreams of similar conquest.  Trump has vowed to make America great again, and domination is what he means.  Donald Trump’s vision is a grotesque paraphrase of Ronald Reagan. Trump sees this country as the Shining Fortress of Solitude on the Hill, dispatching the military to rule over its Imperial outposts.

Trump supporters long for an America of memory, one that will not be kicked around. But this is a faulty memory, a confabulation. For all but the twenty-five years following the Second World War, America hasn’t dominated the world.   America didn’t win the World Wars alone, for that matter.  America did not even get into those wars for two years after they began.

The undeclared Korean War is a stalemate that has never been resolved. The Vietnam War was a debacle.  The first Gulf War essentially was uncontested, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been unqualified disasters. No disrespect for those who served and serve, the wars themselves were atrocious mistakes. The Iraq war was a fraud on the troops and the taxpayers.

Yet Trump promises to return America to its winning ways.  He believes in an America of the imagination, a vision of Empire that drove this country down the dishonorable road of genocide and displacement of the indigenous peoples; into a series of wars in the West to maximize its North American territory;  and wars in the Caribbean and the Philippines to drive Spain out of North America once and for all, while establishing a U.S. beachhead in East Asia.

Empire is inherently despotic, even those that are nominally democratic, because there is no equality between the ruler and the ruled, domestic or foreign.   Trump says, “I am your voice.” No, you’re not. You’re not my voice, and you’re not my Nation.

The American people will have to fall much farther than we think we have fallen to abandon our civic sovereignty, our right of self-determination. Why would Americans give up the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to someone who does not respect the rule of law?

Trump’s admiration for Putin is instructive.  He lauds Putin’s assertiveness in the Crimea and Syria, just as he attacks Obama for his decision not to enter those military theaters.  Russia’s actions have precedent,  pushing out to the expanse of the former Tsarist and Soviet Empires.  Putin has the backing of many countrymen who rue the collapse of Communism.  Marcel H. Van Herpen, the author of Putin’s Wars,  explains why Russians are willing to yield their hard-won freedoms:

In such a case, the home country’s imperial conquests provide an ersatz satisfaction. Feelings of powerlessness and a lack of personal pride and individual accomplishment are compensated by a process of identification with the power and the glory of their country. The lack of personal respect that they receive as individuals is compensated by the respect—and fear—that their home country inspires. “If a man is proud of his Belief, his Fatherland, his People,” one can still read in an anonymous Russian publication of 2007 attacking democracy, “he finds internal pride in himself as a representative of this great people and great country.” This mechanism can be observed in a population of serfs that has been enslaved, as well as in a population that gives up its original freedom and enslaves itself for the sake of national glory.

Trump’s nostalgia for an idealized American past, a short-lived one at that, taps into an anger borne of a sense of powerlessness. Americans have limits, as all other people of the world do.  People who grew up in the post-Second World War era take this as a defeat, because from 1945 to 1968, America was a country of nearly limitless resource and possibility.  That era has been gone for longer than it was here, and all of us longing for it will have to live off the fumes. The world has changed, and America is no longer its overwhelming economic force.

For many Americans, it has meant financial desperation and hopelessness for their children.  Somebody’s going to pay for that.  The authoritarian strain in America is real. It has been gaining force, while the European-descended portion of population slips in political force and our economy comes back to the pack.

© 2016  The Revolted Colonies

Taking Florida By Swarm

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Florida is the U.S. port of entry for the Zika virus. So far, two neighborhoods in Miami have been declared places of active infestation by Zika-infected mosquitoes. The first was Wynwood, a hip community of funky, painted walls and edgy restaurants. Authorities call the infestation the Wynwood Exclusion Zone. As of this morning, Wynwood is no longer exclusive. The virus has spread to Miami Beach. There’s plenty of warm and humid weather left, so Zika is on the move. That’s no good for tourism, Florida’s $24 billion cash crop. The Florida Congressional delegation and Governor Rick Scott are flipping out.

Zika can be traced to the forests of Uganda, where it was first identified in 1947.   By 2007, it had spread to Micronesia, then French Polynesia and from there to Brazil in April 2015. Since then, Zika has been working its way north. The Center for Disease Control posted its first travel alert in January 2016. At last count, a total of 8,000 cases have been reported in the U.S.

The virus is transmitted by mosquito bite and less reliably by human sexual contact. It causes a fever similar to dengue and yellow fever. There is no cure but it is not normally fatal in adults.  However, Zika poses a serious risk of complications for a pregnant woman. The virus may pass to the fetus,  creating the risk of fetal brain injuries.  There is a vaccine in the works, as well as a genetically modified mosquito, which dies before being able to reproduce.  The most reliable strategy and toughest to execute is not getting bit.

You’d think that all politicians could agree on funding to get rid of a mosquito that eats baby’s brains. You’d be wrong.  The Administration requested $1.9 billion to eradicate Zika. The Senate came up with  a $1.1 billion package which was defeated. It had been tied to an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico and another that eased restrictions on the use of pesticides.

The House countered with a bipartisan proposal of its own, which would allow the Administration to use $600 million left over from fighting Ebola. This one died in committee, like a genetically-modified mosquito. In April, Obama took the money from Ebola funding anyway by executive order,  but it is not enough. In June, Congress went to summer camp without passing any measure at all.

Funding is needed and quickly. Just yesterday, the CDC published that maybe Zika isn’t harmless for adults after all. Studies on rats suggest the possibility of an Alzheimer’s-type effect on adult brains.

Still, Congress lacks a sense of the urgency of the situation. Most members are too busy worrying about reëlection to attend a special session. They’re content to wait until September, when they all come back with their suntans, lanyards and possibly, hopefully, a few mosquito bites.

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

You’e Fired!…and You’re Fired…and You’re Fired!

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It took Donald Trump exactly two days to undo his new Teleprompter demeanor and turn his campaign on its head again. He demoted campaign manager Paul Manafort in favor  of Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, a team calculated to walk Trump back further into the political wilderness.

No matter what you thought of the content of Trump’s recent speeches, the fact that he was delivering them in a more conventional style gave the impression that he was starting the all-important pivot from sideshow freak to politician. In fact, the Celebrity Apprentice Candidate reality show was continuing off-camera the entire time. The pivot, when it came, turned away from the center, not toward it.

It’s been all bad news for the Trump campaign lately. Poll numbers are going through the floor. He was blaming his opponent, Hillary Clinton, until recently, when he declared the media as the true scourge and President Obama and Clinton as the founders of ISIS. He dog-whistled his Second Amendment friends what to do when President Hillary Clinton nominates Supreme Court Judges unacceptable to the Duck Dynasty crowd.  This situation cried out for a campaign chief who knows how to put out fires. Instead, he hired someone who brings his own Molotov Cocktails.

Stephen Bannon is now CEO of the campaign. He is the former chairman of Breitbart News, the late Andrew Breitbart’s conservative e-zine for the Torch and Pitchfork Crowd.  A former Goldman Sachs investment banker turned Sarah Palin acolyte, Bannon was named the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America in October 2015 by Bloomberg News. For example, Bannon thinks that Fox News is too soft and needs to take the gloves off.

Kellyanne Conway was promoted to campaign manager. Conway is a lawyer and pollster.  She had been a GOP operative since 1988.   Trump first tried hiring Conway while she had been running Ted Cruz’s super-PAC. When his campaign collapsed, Trump hired her initially to improve Trump’s image with women.

The story within the story is that Manafort had been a compromise choice, acceptable to the Republican National Committee and Trump.  After six weeks, Trump’s campaign was failing and, hey, you can’t fire the candidate, can you?

Actually, the RNC had been working on trying to dump Trump but hadn’t found a way out of its mess. After exploring the legal and electoral consequences, it reallocated its resources to protect the down-ballot candidates in the House and Senate, where the GOP currently holds majorities.  Its hold on the Senate is tenuous and especially troubling.   Retaining Senate control is the key to blocking any of Clinton’s judicial nominees.

Finally, the RNC pulled back on its operational support. This, in turn, caused Trump to fire the RNC symbolically, by canning Manafort.    Hiring Bannon was Trump’s declaration of war.  Trump accompanied this staff turnover with the announcement that he will not pivot. Trump’s going to dance with the one who brought him, even if they both fall off the dance floor.

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

Third Rate Romance

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This week, Hillary Clinton’s campaign launched Together for America, formalizing its recruitment of Republicans who are defecting from its nominee. The website so far consists of a list of Republicans and Independents who have officially declared for Clinton. The common fear and loathing of Donald Trump have made for strange bedfellows, but no one is calling this a love match. Hillary has been reviled by the right as much as President Obama and for a longer period of time.

Long-time National Security advisor Brent Scowcroft, Bush 2 Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry Paulson, Nixon and Reagan EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus, and Bush I National Security Advisor and Intelligence Director John Negroponte are the best-known names on the Leaders list.   They have thrown their support to Hillary Clinton this one time as a vote against Trump.   Her foreign policy approach, although criticized by Republicans, does not scare them the way Trump does.

This Who’s Who is dominated by foreign policy experts, who are appalled by Trump’s unabashed lack of information, experience, temperament or curiosity. Global politics are far too complex to be handled like a hotel acquisition. Clinton is not their domestic dream. Her economic policies will get the typical Republican rebuff.

Clinton’s economic speech delivered this week in Michigan was predictably Middle of the Road. The far-right National Review crowd called it a disaster, and policy wonks correctly called it lacking in specifics.  Left-leaning economists and pols have been quiet with good reason. The plan satisfies some of the main Progressive goals. She has protected her left flank sufficiently. More importantly, she signaled that she would not abandon her economic plan for a short-term marriage of convenience.

© The Revolted Colonies 2016

The Company She Keeps

 
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The State Department’s latest email dump outlines a dark, serious and subversive story.  Bill Clinton’s operatives and Hillary Clinton’s aides at State conducted a back-scratching arrangement from which the Clintons substantially benefited.
The Clintons were in middling financial condition upon taking office in 1993. Thanks to book advances, they were flush upon leaving it in 2001.  The Clintons were forced to return some government property taken when they left the White House. They did get to keep the “For Sale” sign they’d hung on the door of the Lincoln Bedroom. 
Now, they are truly wealthy. The wealth comes primarily through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), whose benefits are indirect as far as is presently known. and speaking fees, which often coincide with CGI business.  You don’t get rich on a government salary. 
On Bill Clinton’s last day in office, he issued a pardon to Marc Rich, a fugitive who had amassed great wealth by trading illegally with America’s enemies: Ayatollah Khomeini of the Islamic Iranian Republic, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, and Kim-Jong Il of North Korea. Rich, who died in 2013, and his wife had donated almost $1.5 million to the Clinton campaign and Presidential Library.  Democrats and Republicans alike were scandalized by the pardon. 
Many suspected that cash from Rich and his friends continued to flow into the Clinton coffers long after the pardon. His colleague Gilbert Chagoury, convicted in Nigeria of money-laundering, surfaced in the emails made public yesterday.  In 2009, Doug Band, the former President’s body man and a Clinton Global Initiative aide, sought assurances from the State Department that  Chagoury would get special treatment, being introduced to a person of substance at State. The Clinton Global Initiative, now in its second decade of operations, collected at least $1 million from Chagoury over the years. It gets worse. There are other deals involving uranium assets and oil
The FBI requested DOJ investigation of Clinton, CGI and Dr. Muhammad Yunus over a year ago.  The truth as to the allegations against Yunus and his Grameen Bank are disputed.  What is incontestable is that the State Department facilitated a package of financial benefits for Dr. Yunus through an array of U.S. government agencies and that Dr. Yunus made a contribution of between $100,000 and $300,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative.
So far, there is no smoking gun or quid pro quo in these email revelations. Hillary Clinton has skittered along the edge of the law for nearly 25 years.  It’s no longer possible to dismiss all accusations of corruption as the work of a right-wing conspiracy. 
  
© The Revolted Colonies 2016


 

Return to Sender

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Dear Mr. Manafort,

     The Editorial Board of the Deseret Herald-Sentinel wishes to express its thanks for your surprise visit to our offices today, and we ask that you convey our thanks to Mr. Reince Priebus as well. We realize that your stop in Salt Lake City was not strictly “on the way” from Green Bay, Wisconsin to Portland, Maine, even on Trump Force One, and it makes your stop here all the more gracious.   I give you our assurance once again that we will not make an endorsement until the end of October, and your candidate and party will get a fair hearing.

      We must caution you that our paper does not represent the view of or speak for all people of the Mormon persuasion (sic).  Nonetheless, through our relationship with the Church of Latter Day Saints, we can say that some of the members are uncomfortable with the views expressed by your candidate. They are equally disappointed with your party’s failure to renounce those utterances of intolerance toward Muslims or the plans of profiling and excluding them.

      The LDS stands apart from Protestant Christianity in many ways, and its faithful often have experienced discrimination for that reason. You were probably not aware until we mentioned that the second largest community of our global religion resides in Mexico or, as historian Max Perry Mueller has pointed out, there are now “more nonwhite Mormons than white ones.”

       We acknowledge the message conveyed that your candidate loves Mormons and that Mormons are terrific. However, it will take something more substantial to establish good-will with the Church leaders. Alas, the overnight delivery of a full set of Trump Select Gourmet Coffees was well-intentioned but misguided.

         Your concern is well-founded that Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and Idaho may not go Republican this year, as they have traditionally done.  The falling poll numbers there are something less than a vote of confidence among the significant LDS populations.

          However, the offer of day-passes to the Trump Provo Spa and Resort does not set things straight.  Has your candidate no idea of the damage done by calling Mormonism a loser religion or his intimating the threat of eminent domain to create a Trump Tabernacle?  These indignities cannot be “walked back” as you say. The offer to create a line of Trump Temple Garments “gratis” is unseemly and undesired.

          We fear that the candidate’s suggested appearance in Salt Lake City will do more harm than good, and a “show Baptism” is the wrong approach entirely. We recognize the attempt to identify with the church by mentioning the candidate’s three wives.  However, polygamy is no longer recognized as a tenet of Mormonism.  Furthermore, our genealogists have advised us that the candidate was not married to the three concurrently, or at least not entirely so.

          We believe it is the best course for your party’s prospects this fall to run an honest and respectful campaign for the next three and a half months and hope for the best. If you feel the impulse to make a special appeal, we recommend that you approach the Seventh Day Adventists.

Most sincerely,

Rafter Smoot, Chairman
DHS Editorial Board

© The Revolted Colonies 2016

Here Come the Reformicons!

From the Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956

Some folks in town don’t seem to be themselves lately.  Oh, they say that they’re Republicans, but some things we’ve been hearing and seeing just don’t seem right.

Take that nice Peter Wehner fellow.  We don’t know him personally, of course, but we see him almost every week at the Church of the Almighty Dollar.  Our friends, Miles and Wilma, were sitting near him recently.  Wilma said she saw him take money out of the plate, instead of putting some in, like the rest of us.

“You didn’t!” I said.

“I’m quite sure I did,” Wilma said. “And I don’t think he was the only one.”

“Imagine that!”

We’ve read strange things too. The other day I saw in the Daily Weekly something hare-brained, about tax subsidies for children and poor people. Even Colored People. I could not believe my eyes.  I’ve heard about these subsidies before but I thought it was a joke. How odd to be giving money away. The next thing you know they’ll feel entitled to it.

None of this seemed to phase my husband Norman, but I was so upset that I decided to go see Pastor Will. He’s a little snooty, and I don’t know why he goes on so about baseball. But he’s awfully smart. He’s explained other strange things to me like what “fair and balanced” really means – that was very confusing.  When I asked about these subsidies and taking from the plate, his face got red, and a nervousness came over him.

“I’m afraid it is so. Subsidies amount to giving money to some people – they call them target populations.”

“Then, that item in the Weekly about the — “

“True,” he said. “And them some.”

Without naming any names, I asked him about Mr. Wehner and the plate.  He confirmed that collections were way down, and he said it had to do with subsidies.

“You mean, he’s using our money to pay for the subsidies?  Well, isn’t that like a new tax?”

“Precisely,” Pastor Will said.

“Well, that’s just wrong!” I said, recoiling in horror. “What’s come over him?”

“Them,” he said.

“Them?  How many are there?”

The Pastor’s face darkened as he explained that the numbers seemed to be growing. He’d spent a retreat in Kennebunkport last summer, and he noticed something peculiar even about a couple of the Bushes. Especially Jeb.

“I sat with him for more than an hour, and by the end I could swear I was talking to a Democrat! He talked like he’d been brainwashed. It looked like Jeb, but it wasn’t Jeb.”

Some friends have joined with us and we’re following some of these people who are acting differently.   Our friend, Ray Taft, thinks that they’re being turned into Democrats. He’s organizing a house to house search till he gets to the bottom of this.

Norman thinks we’re all crazy, chasing after bogeymen.

“Nobody’s different. Same-old, same-old,” he says.  “I’ve heard this talk about the Reformicons,” which is what these folks are being called.  “Take my word for it: old wine, old bottles.”

Norman usually pooh-poohs me.  But lately, he seems to protest too much, if you get my meaning.  I see him carrying the latest issue of the Arch Conservative, but it looks like it’s wrapped around a copy of the National Review.

© The Revolted Colonies 2016

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