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The Bannon Call

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I just have no idea what to say at this point. Steve Bannon called Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect, evidently just to chat. Yeah, I guess Bannon reads The American Prospect.

I asked Bannon about the connection between his program of economic nationalism and the ugly white nationalism epitomized by the racist violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s reluctance to condemn it. Bannon, after all, was the architect of the strategy of using Breitbart to heat up white nationalism and then rely on the radical right as Trump’s base.

He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”

“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.

Um, OK. So, like, Bannon is one of the less racist members of the Trump circle? Or something? That would be weird enough if he didn’t spend the rest of the interview openly undermining the State and Defense Departments.

But what about his internal adversaries, at the departments of State and Defense, who think the United States can enlist Beijing’s aid on the North Korean standoff, and at Treasury and the National Economic Council who don’t want to mess with the trading system?

“Oh, they’re wetting themselves,” he said, explaining that the Section 301 complaint, which was put on hold when the war of threats with North Korea broke out, was shelved only temporarily, and will be revived in three weeks. As for other cabinet departments, Bannon has big plans to marginalize their influence.

“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”

But can Bannon really win that fight internally?

“That’s a fight I fight every day here,” he said. “We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying.”

“We gotta do this. The president’s default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like, every day.”

Bannon explained that his strategy is to battle the trade doves inside the administration while building an outside coalition of trade hawks that includes left as well as right. Hence the phone call to me.

And then there’s his statements on North Korea:

Bannon said he might consider a deal in which China got North Korea to freeze its nuclear buildup with verifiable inspections and the United States removed its troops from the peninsula, but such a deal seemed remote. Given that China is not likely to do much more on North Korea, and that the logic of mutually assured destruction was its own source of restraint, Bannon saw no reason not to proceed with tough trade sanctions against China.

Contrary to Trump’s threat of fire and fury, Bannon said: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

What the hell is this? Is Bannon trying to get fired? Is this a challenge to Trump? Is he just insane? Is he so drunk with power that he thinks he can undermine the entire American government? But hey, I’m sure we will get through this administration just fine!

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  • Yestobesure

    It’s weird – he’s talking sense on North Korea, but only because it’s a DISTRACTION from his anti-China crusade.
    Also, this is clearly a guy enthralled by his own intelligence.

    • sigaba

      Also, this is clearly a guy enthralled by his own intelligence.

      This is a man who became a multi-millionaire, indeed made most of his fortune off of Seinfeld, a show he had no hand whatsoever in producing, and only acquired revenue from out of a side deal in asset transaction he acted as agent of. He essentially won the lottery, except there’s just enough of his own fingerprints on the ticket that he can tell himself that his astounding wealth and power are all due to his brilliant dealmaking.

      He was born on second, stole third, someone batted him home, and he thinks he’s the guy who should get credit for the run.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        HBS grad finds himself in a situation where he can make money, does, now believes himself smarter than Newton. News at eleven.

        • sigaba

          HBS Grad in postgame interview: “I’d better be an awesome human being and a genius, otherwise there’s something really wrong with the world. [long pause] NAHHHHHH!!!”

          • Unemployed_Northeastern

            HBS grad hired by McKinsey at age 26, gets placed in, say, the telecom division. Now believes himself smarter and more knowledgeable about telecom than every career employee and executive of ATT, Verizon, Comcast, etc.

            I didn’t that because that's how HBS grads actually think.

      • Shalimar

        Didn’t Larry David and a bunch of other people who receive Seinfeld royalties say last year that they have never heard of Bannon and think he’s lying? His life story sounds like a series of grifts that culminated with years on the Mercer payroll. His wealth mostly comes from them.

        • sigaba

          Larry David might not be in a position to know, the deal, IIRC, was a liquidation of Castle Rock Entertainment years before Seinfeld was even greenlit — he claims he was offered backend on the property in development. There’s some quote from Rob Reiner somewhere saying “if only we’d known!”

      • Robbert

        “He was born on second, stole third, someone batted him home, and he thinks he’s the guy who should get credit for the run.”

        To be fair, that still makes him far more of a self-made man than his boss.

      • Howlin Wolfe

        Baseball pedant says: “he’s the guy who should get credit for the RBI.”

        • wherewhich the werewitch

          No no, he thinks he should get credit for the batter’s run, too, and would think that even if the batter hadn’t actually scored one (that would be the batter’s fault).

          But we know the batter hit a homer out of the park, from inference — there’s no way Bannon would’ve made it from third to home before getting tagged otherwise. He walked that puppy.

    • mongolia

      Also, this is clearly a guy enthralled by his own intelligence.

      i think this is the best way to understand everything that goes on in this white house. it’s literally just a collection of fox news dumbasses who think they are insanely intelligent.

      • LeeEsq

        Winner, winner. Chicken dinner.

  • JMV Pyro

    For some reason, I found his relative sanity on North Korea to be the most unnerving thing about this.

    Like the rest of it was awful, but I expect awful. I don’t expect to agree.

    • catbirdman

      But do you believe him, and why would you? Were he planning to advocate an attack on NK, he would say exactly what he said. After all, if there’s one tactic of war the Trumpistas are most proud of, it’s maintaining that all-important “element of surprise,” and this renders meaningless his statement about giving a crap about 10 million people in SK.

      • JMV Pyro

        Not really, no.

      • BeatnikBob

        No. I don’t believe a word ANY of them have to say. They are all liars, thieves and murderers, to quote Mike Malloy.

    • mausium

      Never trust a junkie.

      • Sentient AI From The Future

        The overwhelming majority of junkies ive known have been more compassionate, forthright, and just better people than anyone in this administration

      • Origami Isopod

        "Never trust someone with a medical disorder."

    • Yeah assuming this is true, I’m uh, not exactly scared of this NK or fringe talk (unless it’s some gambit which it could be)

    • CS Clark

      The most unnerving thing for me was that I couldn’t dismiss the possibility that there are self-described leftists who will take his dismissal of ethno-nationalism at face value and work with Bannon on being trade hawks.

      • Yestobesure

        Yeah I imagine him snickering under his breath as he said that

        • cpinva

          I don’t think he’s smart enough to do that

      • Anna in PDX

        This possibility is a fact. I saw two on my FB feed today. Really, some people are really, really invested in infighting. It is all they live for, literally.

        • Anna in PDX

          Almost edited out one of the “reallys” but decided to leave it. I am truly upset by the existence of this phenomenon and it makes me gibber like an idiot.

  • sanjait

    What the hell this is … I can only guess, but my guess is that being a complete wingnut means a part of your brain is broken, and that part of the brain is the part that prevents you from calling up some random reporter and telling him honestly and on the record a bunch of stuff you aren’t supposed to say out loud.

    We could call it “Scaramucci syndrome.”

  • sigaba

    Bannon knows he’s on the outs and that Trump just suffered a political catastrophe at the hands of the Breitbart crowd. The simple fact is that Bannon can tell an outlet like The American Prospect pretty much whatever he wants, because Trump doesn’t read anything longer than a page and probably can’t read a complex article, and TAP is the definition of a Fake News organization.

    The media markets are well-silo’d. Bannon, or Trump or Kushner, but really Bannon, can tell a liberal outlet the sky is blue while telling his own rag the the liberals turned the sky orange, and the liberal outlet is Fake News. The normies and all of us literate people are going to read the straight story and discount the Breitbart one, because it’s transparently self-serving (if we’re aware of it at all). Meanwhile the Breitbart audience will accept the Breitbart line and reject the establishment one, because it fits into the established tropes of conservative news. Thus Bannon is telling everyone that the interview is somehow not legit and of dubious provenance (if not challenging the facts of what he said).

    This puts Trump in a remarkable bind, because even if he believes that the Prospect is straight dope, he’s picking an existential fight with his base if he takes the word of a liberal reporter over the publisher of Breitbart News. He simply can’t, but because Bannon told Prospect, Trump has enough of an out to pretend it didn’t happen. If Trump tries to fire Bannon now, Bannon can claim that Trump is simply playing into the hands of a liberal media plot to have him removed.

    Also, Bannon might just have been drunk.

    Long story short, because Steve Bannon controls Breitbart News, he can call up any sufficiently-liberal reporter and openly criticize Trump, with no risk to himself whatsoever, and he can do this whenever it’s convenient to him to inject his agenda.

    Meanwhile, everybody in Trumpworld, from Trump himself down to the lowliest Pepe, has to pretend it didn’t happen, because the consequences of calling him on it are disastrous, and it requires lending credence to The Liberal Media over the word of Steve Bannon. But everyone knows he said it.

    WHY YES I DO PLAY DIPLOMACY JOIN MY CLUB.

    • Murc

      I’m gonna be honest. I don’t think this holds water.

      Bannon has plenty of enemies in the administration, and plenty of those people are more than willing to use something like this against him, and if Bannon tries to lie baldly to Trump that people who spoke to him on the record fabricated an entire interview out of whole cloth, Trump isn’t going to buy it for one second. Trump is pretty dumb but he’s not that dumb, especially since there’s almost certainly tape.

      • sigaba

        There’s this part of me that wants to figure out where the margin is on Breitbart News over Trump, if you had it, how would you use it?

        You’ve got all these people who absolutely depend on BN and The Blaze and Fox for their news (Limbaugh, Infowars, etc etc), but also for any semblance of community and social life. In the 1950s and 60s, men of a certain age would go to the Elks lodge, or Masons, or the VFW, they’d socialize with men and their wives their age, shoot the breeze, drink, all the good stuff*. Nowadays people use their social nets to do that, Facebook and Twitter, and the currency of these interactions are Breitbart and Fox links.

        Social clubs in the US have always been powerful institutions on the local level — from the Masons to the Klan — and Bannon owns a huge chunk of that now.

        * I was recently watching The Founder, a great film that the Weinsteins totally undersold, and you get a taste of how Ray Croc worked all of these local groups to the hilt to recruit McDonalds franchisees, it was where you went back then if you were a huckster with a get-rich-quick scheme.

      • rrhersh

        I agree that the scheme is a bit too cute, but I appreciate the shout-out to Diplomacy, the greatest board game of all time.

    • Sentient AI From The Future

      So, ‘look at me, I can manipulate this moral/emotional infant to continue his attacks on you and clutch me to his bosom’?

      Pretty audacious, though I can’t help but wonder if fuckbag45 might have learned something from his interactions with NY gossip media over the last 50 years.

      • sigaba

        Maybe has, I’m not sure I’ve seen it yet, maybe I have, dunno. His go-to, roundhouse, Konami code trick seems to be “Call the publisher of the Enquirer and have him run something.”

        • Sentient AI From The Future

          Well I’m not saying he can learn in the sense that a less maladjusted person might learn from mistakes. But on a long enough timeline repeating the same mistakes with different people might count as learning?

        • Unemployed_Northeastern

          “Up, up, down, down, alt-right, alt-right…”

          • Sentient AI From The Future

            This is the joke that dozens of regular commenters decided not to post, because it was low hanging fruit. While I’m certainly biased, my own joke about the alt left was much better, I think.

            Fucking millenials. I bet you put ketchup on your hotdog sandwich too.

            • Unemployed_Northeastern

              DAMMIT I THOUGHT OF THAT ON MY OWN.

              • Sentient AI From The Future

                I dont doubt that you believe that, Chad.

                • Unemployed_Northeastern

                  The Konami code was the only way I could beat Contra…

                • sigaba

                  You two settle down. And I put sriracha on my vegan Dodger Dog.

    • Interesting hypothesis, whoa if true, UPVOTED FOR THE PUNCHLINE.

      • I thought PUNCHLINES were reserved for use on NAZI FACES.

    • JKTH

      I’m going with drunk.

  • JBC31187

    I think the best way to understand Bannon is: he’s just like Trump. He’s a mediocre white asshole who assumes that his good fortune is genius. He sucks up to his target and tells them what he thinks they want to hear, but has no sense of loyalty or basic humanity. He confuses his idiot fever dreams for machiavellian schemes.

    So, is this some clever plot? Bannon probably thinks so, but only because Trump is dumber than him.

    • efgoldman

      He’s a mediocre white asshole who assumes that his good fortune is genius.

      And he’s going to keep telling us what a genius he is while he’s being fitted for an orange jumpsuit.

      • brad nailer

        I would totally listen to that.

      • Bufflars

        Orange Is the New White (Supremacist)?

    • Bruce Baugh

      This is the guy who managed Biosphere 2 so badly that the scientists quit en masse, came back to vandalize the place, and still won a lawsuit against him for his treatment of them. Of course now he’s on about chaos and such. He can’t do anything else, so he’s worked out a rationalization for handful of things he has any chance of pulling off.

  • weirdnoise

    What the hell is this? Is Bannon trying to get fired? Is this a challenge to Trump? Is he just insane? Is he so drunk with power that he thinks he can undermine the entire American government?

    “Alt-right leader drunk-dials American Prospect. Film at 11.”

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      Bannon doesn't look like the sort who drinks...

      • mausium

        Meth?

        • Unemployed_Northeastern

          Note my strategic use of . Bannon looks like the sort who drinks his nearest liquor store dry on the reg.

          • Cheap Wino

            Somebody had to buy that Trump vodka.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        Does embalming fluid count?

  • Trump’s Razor: the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts almost always turns out to be right.
    Bannon’s Razor: Even stupider than that. Also, Steve don’t shave.

  • tsam100

    To all your last paragraph questions: yes…?

  • Murc

    I don’t find what Bannon is saying dumb, per se. It’s an entirely coherent world view based on the idea that America Rulez, Other Countries Drool, combined with a strong dose of economic nationalism viewed through a lens of “for America to win, everyone else needs to lose” and rooted in traditionally white and masculine notions of the postwar manufacturing economy being some sort of ordained, halcyon state we need to return to from our present, fallen status. Basically “let’s make it 1955 again, economically and socially, using science or possibly magic.”

    It’s vile where it’s not unworkable, unworkable where it isn’t insane, and insane where it isn’t vile. But it is coherent. And I completely understand how white dudes from places that have been hollowed out economically could lap this stuff up. If I worked in a shattered steel town in Pennsylvania or Michigan or a hollowed-up Maine county that’s degenerated into a meth haven since the paper mill closed, I might be willing to hear out a dude saying “we’re going to smash China in the teeth repeatedly and bring all the jobs home.”

    But what’s baffling to me is Bannon calling people up out of the blue and undermining his boss like this. I mean, it’s like Erik says. This is madness purely from a “don’t end up fired” perspective. It’s like Bannon has spent months with Trump while knowing nothing of the man at all.

    • David

      I wonder how many of those people saw their industry crumbling and rather than take stock of it and begin making plans, continued to fight knowing they would lose? I worked in VFX for films, this used to be situated squarely in L.A., it paid well despite the hours and was booming until the last 5 or 10 years. In the late 1980’s and early 90’s starting pay was easily six figures and now sits at about $12 an hour. Now it’s almost gone from the US. It’s been moved to Vancouver, London, Bangalore, anywhere with a tax subsidy. Pay has plummeted even overseas and cheap new employees flood the market looking for the scraps that are left. I watched while the race to the bottom accelerated and studios went bankrupt, from Pacific Title (around since the Jazz Singer) to Oscar winners like Rhythm and Hues (now owned by foreign entities).

      I realize that cash wins. We were told to give studios a 40% discount or open in Vancouver. There are really only 5-6 clients at any given moment (Sony, Disney, Fox, etc.) So I spent a few years making attempts and plans for an exit. Is it great that something I’ve wanted to do since before Toy Story is no longer viable? No. But I sucked it up and have begun to move away from it, more and more with each career move. I can still use my skills in design, manufacturing, architecture, etc, all of which are more stable than film and commercial work.

      Anyone that tells me, “It will be ok, it will come back” I look at like they have three heads. It’s not. And if it did (let’s say the Government suddenly taxes the crap out of digital deliveries from overseas) it won’t come back like it was before.

      What can we do for these people that don’t get it? We don’t have monuments to wagon repairmen or to farriers. And no one is trying to get rid of cars so that these professions can return. It’s gone. They should look for what’s next, not the pipe dreams of people that have never worked an honest day in their life. When Clinton said coal was dead, she was right. Lying to these workers makes it worse, it perpetuates false hope and deeper resentment.

      This is where I wish the Democrats would make progress. Provide the right safety net for disappearing industries and help people move to better and more future-proof options. It will take time, but after enough people in the neighborhood succeed, come home with a new car, others will follow. Kicking and screaming, but they will follow.

      • Brien Jackson

        It’s interesting that a real left populism has no real constituency looking to fight for it. “Job training” gets mocked, but WE NEED TO HELP PEOPLE RETRAIN FOR NEW WORK! But we also need an organized effort to get the Fed to stop maniacally focusing on low inflation. We need a serious and aggressive push for more unionization and labor rights. We need more antitrust action. We need better and more available vocational training.

        But there’s just not much interest in pushing this kind of platform, LEAST of all from the self-styled populists on the left.

        • Linnaeus

          “Job training” gets mocked, but WE NEED TO HELP PEOPLE RETRAIN FOR NEW WORK!

          We do, but I don’t think it’s the idea of job (re)training itself that gets mocked as much as the inadequate implementation of job (re)training. If we’re serious about job training programs, we need to devote a lot more resources to them (as well as other programs that support people being (re)trained, e.g., housing, etc.). The enthusiasm for the “new economy” in the 1990s and 2000s included to some degree a sense that people would just adapt and that this could be done on the cheap. But that hasn’t really worked out for a lot of people.

        • Richard Gadsden

          Job retraining should mean things like “a full-ride scholarship to a four-year degree”, not “six weeks in a class of fifty listening to some bored asshole explain how to send an email”.

        • Murc

          “Job training” gets mocked, but WE NEED TO HELP PEOPLE RETRAIN FOR NEW WORK!

          “Job training” with the sarcasm quotes around it absolutely should be mocked, because it’s an intensely mockable thing.

          I’m a self-styled lefty populist, and I’m all for job training. But when I say job training, I think “free attendance to a college or vocational school, plus a living stipend sufficient to support a family on.” And that’s my minimum ask. Actually existing job retraining programs have been so inadequate they might as well be an insult.

          However, that said, politically speaking its still a heavy lift. People don’t WANT to retrain. They want the job they had! They knew how to do that job. They invested years into learning how to do that job and accruing skill, institutional knowledge, and seniority. Nobody wants to start over at the bottom, they hate and resent that.

          Which means there’s always gonna be a political opening for someone willing to lie about bringing it back or preserving it.

          • applecor

            Doesn’t a job retraining program depend on the assumption that there are skilled jobs that are going unfilled? Otherwise, there are just a greater number of qualified people competing for the same jobs. At the micro level, an individual might benefit from job retraining, but at the macro level, the displaced workers as a group will not necessarily be better off. I understand that capitalism is often sold on the basis that “No, not everyone succeeds, but YOU CAN” and maybe some political steam is let off that way, but globalization and automation continue apace.

            UBI can keep people alive but will probably increase, rather than decrease the political steam.
            I agree with your implication that saying in effect “No one has a right today to the job they had yesterday” is pretty close to “No one has a right to a job” – not a good look for the left

            No answers from this quarter, I’m afraid.

        • Origami Isopod

          I’ve gone through job retraining several times in my life. A lot of what is out there is garbage that absolutely will not help anyone find new jobs. It exists to put money in the pockets of the training corporations and to continue to brainwash workers that their inability to find work is entirely their own faults.

        • David

          And it’s true, not everyone will hop on board with new training, change is awful and scary. But when you see your neighbors succeed it gets harder to ignore. That’s part of the problem here, these places are very insular.

          And yes, not all training is created equal, it’s a big problem, but it’s a better place to start than, “We’ll go back in time and get these jobs for you!”

          As for unionization, I wish! VFX is the only segment of the film industry not unionized (it came about after unionization swept through) and getting artists to sign a card is nearly impossible. And the unionization attempts keep going after the wrong studios first making it even harder, they need to go after the smaller shit show studios before the larger comfy places.

      • Linnaeus

        What can we do for these people that don’t get it?

        Let’s start with more money.

  • hellslittlestangel

    So he’s Trump’s Mini Fatty Sloppy Dirty Me.

  • Chet Murthy

    Y’know, I feel like saying something about Bannon’s critique about China. But … the problem is, it wouldn’t matter whether Bannon was being honest or not — he’s a fucking fascist, and you -first- have to make sure they’re in the ground. Only once they’re in the ground, can you even -begin- to discuss …..

    So …. [and b/c I’m -that- fucking angry, none of this matters until he’s in the fucking ground]

    China -does- have some pretty unfair trade policies regarding technology. I know this from my 19yr at Ye Olde Gynormous Computer Company — when Huawei (no need to anonymize the fuckers) bought stuff from my employer, and there were problems, and a colleague went over there to fix, he had to give them the source code to every tool he used. Etc, etc, etc. This sort of thing, yeah, it’ll be the death-knell of US industry. Oh and yeah yeah, I know we used to do it to Europeans, “back in the day”. I’m enough of a patriot, that I don’t give a shit.

    [And yet, again, I must note: I don’t give a shit about any of what I wrote, until Bannon is literally in the ground.]

    • Sentient AI From The Future

      Although i believe in working towards complete abolition of prisons and the carceral state, I also believe that most fascists can be persuaded enough to not require putting them in the ground. Cognitive dissonance, I has it.

      • Chet Murthy

        I never specified that he’d be put in the ground before his time. Merely that, until he’s in the ground, I can’t be bothered to address his issues.

      • farin

        He merely needs to be given one of the many fine new coal-mining jobs that have suddenly sprung into existence.

    • Sentient AI From The Future

      As an addendum, perhaps you should look into this whole “open source/free software” thing, because otherwise your contempt for $entity seems like just another whiny cracker slapfight over revenue. Call me when youre willing to name your employer because you’re confident in the benefits they provide to the public (by which I mean non-investors)

      • Chet Murthy

        Sentient AI, I’m with you on the “interesting” ways in which corps leech on open-source, while keeping whatever they want closed. But this is immaterial. If I ever open-source any software, I’ll be sure to use a “no patents” version of the GPL — b/c fuck these software companies.

        What’s happening in China is different. China isn’t demanding that the tech be open-sourced — rather, that it be disclosed to “Chinese partner companies” (which are owned by the PRC).

        Lemme be clear: I don’t think that trade secrets, (most) patents, (most) copyrights, and certainly the secrecy of -any- corp accounts, is of any value to society. Quite the opposite. But as long as we have the system we live under, I don’t want some geopolitical competitor stealing my country’s technology.

        [oh, and yes, I realize that my country routinely steals their best brains, by offering them a better place to life — haha — until recently with Commander Bone Spurs.]

        • Sentient AI From The Future

          Uh. Its only stealing if youre not already giving it away freely.

          Asshole.

          • Chet Murthy

            Whoa, hold on. When I said “my country routinely steals”, I meant that as a joke. My family came here from India when I was four years old. My father was a doctor. America “stole” him from India.

            Did you not see the “haha” in the same sentence?

            PS. And I have a friend who to this day thanks GHWB for his blanket amnesty of Chinese students after Tiananmen Square.

            • Sentient AI From The Future

              You’ve got a lot of the rhetoric down pretty well.

              I still think youre an asshole.

              As a former governor of california put it, “Fuck you, asshole”

              • Chet Murthy

                I’d like to understand why you think I’m an asshole. Is it

                (a) my remarks about tech and OSS

                (b) my remarks about geopolitical competitors like China

                (c) my jokes about immigrants (I was born in Bangalore, to be clear)

                Or something else?

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  Just as background, dinesh d’souza was born in Mumbai and I still think he’s an asshole. I would even call him a cracker asshole given his public associations. but I also dont have a good understanding of Hindu or Muslim fundamentalism in south Asia. I’d love to listen or maybe even ask questions on these latter points.

                  …So your invocation of Bangalore seems a little bit desperate. And/or hand-wave-y. But I’d genuinely love to hear how my cynical assessment of other peoples’ values and motivations are wrong.

                  The floor is yours.

                • Chet Murthy

                  OK, so I’m inferring that your problem is with my #b. And this is simple. The terms of trade with China, at least when it comes to high-tech, -are- unfair. Companies that set up there -must- use Chinese partners, and transfer tech to them. And when (as I said) somebody comes from overseas, anything they bring with them, gets left behind in source.

                  I’m a patriot. China is a geopolitical competitor (like Russia). -Chinese- -people- are not geopolitical competitors. But the PRC is. And if this were a Hillary Clinton administration, I’d be completely OK with pushing back on that. [Oh and BTW, though I have enormous problems with the TPP (I’ve said as much here), I understand that the TPP was partially about pushing back on China. You might remember some Obama official saying “TPP was like another aircraft carrier in the Pacific”; again — I have GRAVE problems with the TPP.]

                  You don’t have to hate people, to see their government as a competitor (note carefully that I didn’t say “adversary”).

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  I fail to see how saying “if you want to set up manufacturing of your widgets here, you need to share information about those widgets” is anything other than Good Business Practices.

                  I do see how saying “here, we want you to make these widgets, and since you asked we will give you detailed background about widget development” without also saying “hey, can we know a bit more about your labor practices in this supply chain? We’d like to be seen as taking a stand on human rights and suchlike.” could be problematic. But here I am simply reiterating the blog position, so I assume you agree with me.

                • Chet Murthy

                  Let me explain in two parts:

                  (1) A famous computer scientist, Brian Kernighan, once said: “if you put all your cleverness into writing a piece of software, you have already made a mistake”. B/c all software has bugs, and if you’ve already put all your cleverness into your code, you’ll have nothing left for debugging. So …. IN THE PARTICULAR CASE, the software that my friend had to leave behind in source, was the DEBUGGING SOFTWARE he’d developed. But even besides that, the source code of the software that was shipped with the hardware …that also had to be provided … again to the Peoples Liberation Army.

                  (2) More generally, it is OFTEN the case, that the software required to -design- a thing, is not necessary to -fabricate- the thing. And yet, the Chinese are pretty clear that that’s not good enough. They require that all the software that touches a thing, be provided. Regardless of whether these are trade secrets. And provided to the PLA, to be clear.

                  And now, yaknow, I could ask -you- why you think this is OK. B/c a -patriot- shouldn’t think it’s OK.

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  Ok
                  Point 1: couldn’t care less. Write code, fine. Assume that code.is going to make you rich or keep you fed beyond next week, you can go fuck yourself.

                  Point 2: you’re a fucking dipshit.

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  I think this is ok because my allegiance to the scientific method supersedes my allegiance to the US nation-state.

                • billcinsd

                  Those issues were known going in, and the idiot corporations went ahead with them anyway. I’m not sure that bailing out corporations for their bad mistakes is good policy

                • Chet Murthy

                  Yaknow, I didn’t notice this at first. But now I do: I’m an immigrant. And I treasure other immigrants (frankly, whether documented or not, b/c we’re all in this together against Lord Putinfluffer). But the -idea- that I”m anything like that shitbird felon D’Souza …. ffs.

                  I pointed out that I was an immigrant, as part of noting that I wasn’t bashing Chinese immigrants, but rather the PRC government. If you can’t see the difference, really, I don’t know what to say. If you’re unaware of the extent to which leading Chinese companies are owned, lock-stock-and-barrel by the PLA and the PRC government, yaknow, I got nuthin.

                  And this has nothing to do with the *Chinese people*.

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  This seems at odds with your prior posts, especially in light of the fact that I think “intellectual property” is through and through* horseshit that impedes scientific progress.

                  * I’ll make an exception for Bass Ale’s trademark claim.

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  and just to be perfectly clear…

                  My position on IP is relevant because you repeatedly invoke it as some kind of metric. I can’t even be arsed to figure out what kind of metric, given my ideological blinders. So all this talk about the PRC stealing stuff, I get a resigned chuckle out of, and then get back to pirating game of thrones episodes.

                • Chet Murthy

                  Yes, I thiink that IP, esp. in software, is bad all-around. But China didn’t say “if you wanna sell us stuff, you must OSS everything”. They didn’t say that. They said “show us everything”.

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  And the decision to continue as closed source while also sharing code with PRC is one option just as opening the code is an option.

                • Chet Murthy

                  OK, we’re good now. I’m happy for you to believe I’m a raging asshole.

                  I believe that intellectual property is a bad thing. But guess what? Unless everybody goes along with that, others will take what we create, and keep their creations private. Our geopolitical competitors do it -today-. And I’m a patriot. So hey, I’m a raging asshole. Happy to wear that badge.

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  “I believe that intellectual property is a bad thing.”

                  This seems at odds with th a number of your prior statements but I’m willing to let bygones be bygones.

                  How do we organize to get adequate quantities/levels of HIV drugs to underserved populations in the us and/or developing world?

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  You seem pretty happy to let internecine warfare among IP centers be the rule. I think the public library system helps us improve as a society, and that the model should be extended to corporate IP but what do I know.

                • Sarah Bitter

                  Chet, I’ve never bothered to comment here, but your outrage at the Chinese practice of demanding and then taking all the technology from “partners” matches mine. That happens, but it’s unfair, and bad for the US. Anyone who doesn’t have a problem with Chinese corporations/gov entireties/PLA (they’re kinda the same thing) stealing technology/ideas because they believe in open source is misguided. One can oppose theft, especially by a competitor, and still be in favor of greater sharing of technical and scientific information. Um. What you said.

                • billcinsd

                  how is it theft for the US company to accede to the request of their partner? They weren’t required to set up shop there — they thought the benefits would outweigh the costs and the companies must still think that, although the calculus is different now then when the company moved operations. It was bad for the US to move the jobs to China in the first place, both for workers and for whomever you think is getting hurt by this. Sadly far too many people only care about things that directly effect them. Now maybe you were one of the few trying to keep this from starting 20 years ago or were too young to be involved and so this doesn’t apply to you

                  Everyone would like protection from the clear and obvious consequences of their bad decisions, but this seems to only get offered to large corporations and rich people. In the end it’s better to not get in the car and drive if you’re drunk, than to hope you won’t get caught.

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  Which wouldnt have been an issue if the code had been written to benefit everyone.

                • Chet Murthy

                  It is to laugh, the naivete. Maybe look into the many, many cases of industrial espionage. Not to speak of the cases of espionage of real defense secrets.

                • HugeEuge

                  Yeah, what Taylor said. SentientAI is OTT having a bad day in this entire thread

                • Sentient AI From The Future

                  Glad youre on the case. Those goalposts won’t move themselves!

        • Taylor

          Forget it, Jake, it’s OSS. Imagine you’re talking to Richard Stallman.

      • Wow. Just. Wow.

    • so-in-so

      I dunno, dangling six feet above works too.

  • AlexSaltzberg

    Sure, why not. Makes about as much sense as everything else happening.

  • JamesWimberley

    Not sure if I should really point this out, but Bannon’s sane position on NK rests on nonsense. It’s impossible to kill the entire population of Seoul in 30 minutes with artillery. It’s not Stalingrad or Tokyo, largely wood-built cities that could be destroyed by incendiary bombing in a day. There is a core of truth in that civilian casualties would be unacceptably high, in the thousands no doubt. Total civilian deaths in the London Blitz were about 40,000 over almost a year’s bombing.

    • When you’ve written something debating “acceptable deaths” with Steve Bannon and you’re on the “It wouldn’t be that bad” side, you should take 10 deep breaths before pressing post.

    • njorl

      If NK decided they just wanted to destroy Seoul, and didn’t want to use their military to win a war, they could inflict much more damage than the German blitz in just a half hour. In the first 30 minutes, they could put about half as much high explosives into Seoul as the entire, cumulative London bombing. Much of the artillery are fairly accurate rockets which could be targeted at high rises or other densely populated targets or hospitals, whereas the Germans were just hoping to hit London. This would be into a population that was unprepared, not warned to get to shelter by early warning systems like the Londoners were, with twice the population density of London.

      Any estimate that comes in below 100,000 dead is ridiculously optimistic. That being said, it’s unlikely NK would do it. They would probably try to win a war. Firing your artillery as fast as you can exposes you to very accurate counterfire. Fighting a long war of attrition will kill a lot more people.

  • Frank Wilhoit

    “…Is Bannon trying to get fired? Is this a challenge to Trump? Is he just insane? Is he so drunk with power…”

    None of the above. He is simply a lightweight, maundering in verbal talismans about things he does not understand. But there is one thing that he fortuitously understands, and that is that his audience wants verbal talismans and nothing else.

  • MariedeGournay

    Grima Wormtongue really let himself go.

  • LeeEsq

    Talk about awkward phone calls you don’t want to get in the middle of the night:

    Kuttner: Whose calling? Its 1 AM?

    Bannon: Its me, Steve Bannon.

    Kuttner: Why are you calling?

    Bannon: I just want you to know that I’m one of the least racist people in the Trump White House.

    Kuttner: Okay

    Bannon: When you think about the number of people on the staff, it means I’m not very racist at all..

    Kuttner: Okay

    Bannon: That’s all. Sorry for waking you up, love.

    Kuttner: I want my mommy.

    • Darkrose

      “Honey, is that Jake from State Farm?”

      “I wish.”

  • Gross white supremacist egomaniac chafes at having to stand in the shadow of a gross white supremacist egomaniac.

  • addicted4444

    This isn’t that complicated. Like every other Republican, Bannon is probably adopting a leftist position when it affects him personally.

    Bannon probably is friends with someone who lives in or is from South Korea and therefore understands that a military solution against North Korea is disaster waiting to happen.

    • Bannon probably is friends with someone

      Assumes capacity not in evidence.

      • njorl

        He might own some Samsung stock.

        ETA – I’m being too kind. He might have been given a lot of money by Samsung to influence Trump to not cause the immolation of the Korean peninsula.

        • firefall

          Bingo! that sounds far more likely

  • DJ

    Disruption is the name of Bannon’s game,
    Predictability is a man’s only shame.
    A fiendish genius, at least in his own mind,
    Let others grovel while he slaps Trump’s behind.
    Yeah, he might get fired, but Trump might just thank him—
    Sure the toddler-in-chief likes a good spanking.

    • Darkrose

      I may not sleep again.

  • benjoya

    He’s obviously trying to get fired so he can return to his hordes, blaming his ouster on jared, gary cohn, goldman sachs, leonard cohen, shylock, etc.

  • N__B

    The Call of the Bannon is a little known novel in which a RWNJ is forced to live outside his echo chamber, but lacking the inborn skills of a fully functional human being, he fails.

  • jpgray

    “The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics,
    I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is
    focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we
    can crush the Democrats.”

    This is laughable. We’re talking about racism in regard to Charlottesville. Who’s getting crushed in that debate?

    How do you purify economic nationalism to be free from race and identity when it is always found in nature hopelessly mixed with ethnic nationalism? Even if you manage this by some miracle, Trump is your messenger. If you like your water free of dirt, you don’t pour it into one of the most filth-caked vessels imaginable.

    What the Democrats need to figure out is how to sustain a community that wants to remain where it is after the industrial occupations that sustained it have gone, because those occupations are never coming back. The same miserable cycle of substance abuse, family bonds degraded to the point of being useless, and just general hopelessness that have had an unspeakable effect on Native and black communities are now grinding rural white communities to pieces. From my anecdotal experience, all that’s staving off disaster is their clinging to a bare residue of wealth these rural white communities retain from past generations, by virtue of having been white.

    We should have had an answer when it wasn’t whites, but electorally we are going to need an answer now. In my view, it won’t be 1% more chicken chopper RSI-prone jobs, or 5,000 more coal jobs, or a marginal advantage in steel over China. Right?

    • kvs

      Who’s getting crushed in that debate?

      He doesn’t care about winning the debate about racism. He thinks that the debate is divisive, that the squishy middle doesn’t like divisive politics, and that he can win the squishy middle with populist appeals. He thinks the squsihy middle will engage with the economic argument but ignore the racist components because that part of the conversation makes them uncomfortable.

      • BigHank53

        Oh yeah–the racists are firmly in the GOP camp. And they’re useful idiots, too, providing copious amounts of smoke to cover whatever revolutionary steps* Bannon would like to see take place. So he can dismiss them. Having set them in motion, they’re a wind-up toy for distracting the media, Democrats, and even Trump himself.

        I really don’t see how economic nationalism gets turned into a winning issue, though. The modern world economy is hopelessly interwoven. Cellphones would only cost a little bit more if we made them here, but we’d still need components from ~25 countries to build them. We’d need coltan ore, and there isn’t any to speak of on this continent. Extend that to everything with a chip in it…

        Nobody’s tried running on economic nationalism because there’s no way to make it work. Trade war with China? Good-bye to Wal-Mart, Target, Five Below, and every other retail job that involves cheap Chinese stuff. No Black Friday this year, kids: you’re getting a pound of carrots in your stocking and you’ll be glad.

        *Other than degrading the State Department and the EPA, it’s tough to see areas where they’re making much progress. Voter suppression? And honestly, looking at those actions it’s tough to see how they lead to any kind of improvement. Even if you wanted to utterly tear down the American state and replace it with $REGIME, you’re still going to need a functioning government afterwards. See Iraq for a grim example.

        • kvs

          You’re thinking in terms of facts and policy outcomes. Bannon’s not. He doesn’t rely on having viable alternatives to the status quo, he just relies on people being dissatisfied with it.

      • NonyNony

        He thinks that the debate is divisive, that the squishy middle doesn’t
        like divisive politics, and that he can win the squishy middle with
        populist appeals. He thinks the squsihy middle will engage with the
        economic argument but ignore the racist components because that part of
        the conversation makes them uncomfortable.

        This tactic only works so long as the conversation is making them uncomfortable because they empathize with the racists more than with the targets of the racists.

        I strongly believe that the biggest miscalculation here is that the squishy middle will actually continue to have that attitude when swastikas are being waved around and white supremacists are goose-stepping in the streets. From my experience here in Ohio just the past few days there’s a giant gap between the discomfort suburbanite white people feel about being asked to consider their privilege and the discomfort they feel when they realize that they are on the same side as people who advocate for the extermination of entire ethnic groups.

        The right-wingers around here really wanted Trump to condemn Nazis hard. Because they’re the kind of casual racists who don’t want to think about themselves as racists, and his decision to cuddle up to Nazis is making them uncomfortable in a way that is pushing them away from him. I’m happy to see it – even if I want to scream at them for it.

        • kvs

          Bannon’s theory is that it works so long as people prefer not having conversations about racism. The tipping point doesn’t happen when one side is more empathetic than the other because Bannon’s counting on the squishy middle empathizing with neither.

        • There was a reason for the dog-whistle.

          Even in the South at the height of Jim Crow the KKK hid their faces and Dick Russell couched everything in “states rights not hate” rhetoric, these dumb fucks just gave away the whole game.

      • I do think Charlottesville has solidified a fair number of squishes. Its not hard to denounce Nazis. By openly aligning with Nazis, the white supremacy/identity movement has made itself open to squish scorn.

        • kvs

          Most squishes are equally scornful of antifa and anti-racist protesters. It’s all just so icky to them. That’s why they’re squishes in the first place.

        • Unfortunately, what I’m seeing (less than a minute ago, in fact), is that a lot of them are coming down on the side of the Nazis. Because taking down Confederate “monuments” is “unacceptable” and “stealing our history”, and if the Nazis agree with them then they’ll take that support. They’re even somehow blaming the Barcelona attack on BLM!

          • Really, the squishes or RWNJs?

            • The folks I saw talking about it weren’t (at least previously) RWNJs. They weren’t Dems or leftists, either, mind you. Most of them didn’t vote last year because Trump was just another corrupt rich guy who couldn’t be trusted and Clinton supported “welfare cheats” and “Bummercare”.

    • habitus corporis, soros $hill

      I’ve seen more calls for BLM to be listed as a terrorist organization from LawNOrder folks in the past week than I’ve ever seen. If anything it is riling up the racists.

      That said, national media is bending Trump over the table. I’m sure The Base doesn’t like that.

    • JMV Pyro

      Bannon’s argument on identity politics is basically what you’ve been hearing from people like Lilla and Nagle lately: identity politics is a losing issue and the left/liberals needs to drop it and unify around *insert what writer cares about hear*.

    • njorl

      His argument works better if we’re talking about racism and they’re not. But they’ve backed themselves into a corner where they have to talk about racism. That’s gold for us because they can’t do it without sticking their heads up their asses.

      Donald Trump is on racist fire and he can’t stop, drop and roll. Until some external force extinguishes that fire, he’s going to suffer.

      • Gwai Lo, MD

        “Donald Trump is on racist fire and he can’t stop, drop and roll.”

        Words cannot express my love of this line.

    • If you like your water free of dirt, you don’t pour it into one of the most filth-caked vessels imaginable.

      That’s kind of how I feel about Lilla’s book, from the last radio interview with him I heard. He’s veering into Deresciewicz “I had a weird conversation I can’t rightly describe but I now feel compelled to preach to my fellow liberals about how we all need to stop talking different from the white working man” territory. Hm.

      I mean sure you don’t catch fish by shouting at them. Who is doing that? This sounds like a waste of ink for an audience that exists only in his head.

  • kvs

    “What the hell is this?”

    This is the cirrhotic alcoholic sitting at the end of the bar on St. Patrick’s day surveying the crowd and thinking to himself “Fucking amateurs.”

    But yes, his project is to undermine the American state.

  • This is just Bannon sucking his own cock, no?

  • come on. this is CYA.

    this is Bannon saying “no, we’re not racists” and then pretending he didn’t know he was saying it.

  • david spikes

    Sitting alone having a few drinks, that wonderful feeling of exaltation, literally intoxication and you just have to share it with someone.
    The only real question is why it was the editor of the Prospect.
    Fascinating that his choice of pronouns shows that he really does believe he runs the administration.

  • Sebastian_h

    People, do we really not understand how to properly headline articles in Trumps’s America. This one is :Bannon, the real decision maker behind Trump.

  • BeatnikBob

    Ever consider the simple fact that Bannon was…lying to a liberal reporter working for a liberal outlet? Talk about your Occam’s Razor solutions. Why does anyone parse, much less believe a single fucking word he OR Trump says?

  • YNWA40515

    “Chaos is a ladder” apparently isn’t just for shit-stirrers of the fictional variety.

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