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February 05, 2017


The Islamophobia clash of civilizations crap has been bubbling on the right and also in segments of the left ( Bill Maher, Sam Harris and I think Dawkins and of course the late Hitchens) for a number of years now. Back in the late 00's I knew a couple of conservative friends who were reading Melanie Phillips book " Londonistan". One of these friends also was a fan of Robert Spencer, Brigette Gabriel, and various other Muslim haters. During the primaries some of the Republican candidates were playing footsie with this crap, but of course Trump took it past the dog whistling stage and just endorsed it flat out with lies like the claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/ 11. Flynn is another crackpot Muslim hater. Anyway, visit the comment section of almost any yahoo news piece involving Muslims and you will see Islamophobes going on about the " religion of piece", and so on. It is remarkable to look back at George W Bush and see him as a liberal, but comparatively speaking he was. Trump represents what millions of Americans think, to their shame.

While I am on this, though, there was some not so subtle dog whistles on the Democratic side when the subject of Israel came up. Anyone who supports BDS is an antisemite, according to our lovely Democrats. I would like to return the favor and point out that anyone who says this is either ignorant or cynically pandering to racist jerks in AIPAC who think Palestinians have no right to use traditional nonviolent methods of protest.

" Religion of peace" not " piece".

This too on Bannon's film outline.


Ugh, this time you beat me to it. An almost identical piece on Bannon was in yesterday's paper Guardian, and I spent about 10 minutes earlier searching for it online to link to it, but could only find a sort of abridged version, which missed out (in particular) the part I have bolded below, and which I found particularly germane:

The outline warns about “front groups and disingenuous Muslim Americans who preach reconciliation and dialogue in the open but, behind the scenes, advocate hatred and contempt for the West.”

It names the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America as examples of such “cultural jihadists.” After The Post’s revelation of the 2007 script, CAIR officials on Friday urged Republicans to call for Bannon’s dismissal, saying that he promoted “virulently anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.”

The proposal also lists other “enablers,” including The Post, the New York Times, NPR, “Universities and the Left,” the “American Jewish Community,” the ACLU, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department and the White House.

BDS = Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions

It occurs to me to wonder, where is Bannon on Trump's big bromance with Putin?

Does he see this as a matter of uniting with another "Christian country" against Islam? Or of cheering on another country which is acting in foreign relations simply and entirely in what it sees as its (short term) self-interest, the way he thinks the US should.

Does he even agree with it at all? (I'm not sure I believe that he has all that much more ability to change Trump's mind on something than anybody else.) After all, he might have noticed that, while China has embraced the capitalism he cheers, Putin's Russia shows little sign of going that way....

Religion of peace

Yes, I have a sister who is all over the "Islam is not a religion of peace" thing. She posts the Prager U video with Hirsan Ali, the quote from some cardinal or other asserting that Muslims worship a different god than Christians.

Any religion - or any human organization of any kind - with over a billion adherents who come from cultures and traditions all over the globe is going to include folks who are wonderful, and folks who are not so wonderful.

God only knows how easy it would be to paint Christianity as a religion of violence and imperialistic will to power.

People see what they want to see. Which is all well and good, sort of, until what they see tells them they need to start blowing other people up.

It occurs to me to wonder, where is Bannon on Trump's big bromance with Putin?

I'm pretty sure what Bannon thinks about that could be summed up with the phrase "Deus Vult". Putin has done a very good job in the last few years - decade, maybe? - in globally branding himself and his Russia as the global defender of Christendom, particularly when compared to the dhimmi (yes, I know, that's so 'aughts) Europeans.

I wouldn't object if people said that the world of Islam has huge problems with its radicals and that many Muslim countries are guilty of human rights violations. That's true. They can also discuss the role of Islam as it is used to justify those violations, just as one could discuss the role of various Western ideologies ( including in Hitchens case militant secular bigotry against Islam) in justifying the Iraq War. But with Islamophobes it never stops there. Basically, every Muslim is held responsible for the crimes committed in the name of Islam and American Muslims are told to maintain perspective because the US gives them more rights than non Muslims would have in a Muslim country. It shouldn't be necessary to tell people why that is wrong, but there were letters in the NYT today which said essentially that. And some people are worse.

There is maybe a law of conservation of bigotry here. A lot of people need an outgroup they can hate wholesale. It's not enough to denounce particular subgroups who really do terrible things. If it is no longer acceptable to hate one group, you just switch to another.

I wouldn't object if people said that the world of Islam has huge problems with its radicals and that many Muslim countries are guilty of human rights violations.

A lot of Muslims would, and do, say that.

And, a lot of them not only recognize that it's true, they want to get the hell away from it, and go someplace where they can live and worship in peace.

"A lot of people need an outgroup they can hate wholesale"


russell, this was your post about Bannon. What do you think about his film proposal 10 years ago including, as "enablers" The Post, the New York Times, NPR, “Universities and the Left,” the “American Jewish Community,” the ACLU, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department and the White House

for those “front groups and disingenuous Muslim Americans who preach reconciliation and dialogue in the open but, behind the scenes, advocate hatred and contempt for the West.”

Wouldn't you think e.g. Kushner might have a problem with this? Not to mention the CIA, the FBI and the State Department - not that they have much clout at the moment.

My opinion is this article gets to the heart of bannonism pretty well:


Nice package.

On Friday, I saw this, forwarded from the SPLC:

We just learned that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security is taking calls about Steve Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council (NSC).

We’re told that they’re tallying calls. You might get a busy signal but try, try, try again all this weekend. Leave a message if you get through to voicemail. The number: 202-224-4751

Be sure to tell the committee that you believe no individual whose primary responsibility is political in nature should be allowed on the NSC or authorized to attend its meetings.

Partisan politics have no place in our national security.

Or use a more personal script. I was able to leave a message on Friday.

What do you think about his film proposal 10 years ago

I think he's out of his mind. Basically, I think he took the brown acid.

I have no idea what motivates Kushner.

Basically, none of these people make any sense to me. I can generally follow the logical bread-crumb trail of what appears to be their thought process, but their basic motivations seem bizarre. To me.

Extra disturbing thought about Bannon:

Trump is notorious picky about the appearance of the people around him. Not just women: many people predicted he would pick Pence for VP, Gorsuch for SCOTUS because of their looks. He's a TV performer, he knows how important appearance is.

In this group, Bannon stands out like ... not just a sore thumb, an oozing pustule. He's incredibly slovenly, usually ill-shaven, only rarely in a real jacket much less a tie. He looks like an alcoholic on the way down.

So why does Trump put up with him? What does he give Trump that can over-ride his aversion to disgusting-looking people?

So why does Trump put up with him?

Bannon arguably got Trump into the White House.

So, Trump doesn't worry too much about what he wears.

The Atlantic has chosen to repost Hunter S's Nixon obituary which he wrote for Rolling Stone (I really wonder why now?...), and you might find some of its invective apposite:

This deserves resuscitation:
He was a flat-out, knee-crawling thug with the morals of a weasel on speed..


That implies that Trump is keeping him there out of a loyalty that's stronger than his sense of theater. I don't believe it.

Does Bannon have something on him? Does he massage Trump's ego in just the right way? Is there an unexplored Putin connection?

Maybe he's just identified a tool who can produce even more outrage than Trump himself ? That he looks like a wino who's been dragged through a hedge might make his ability to outdo Trump in this respect palatable to the giant ego?

well, that was my best guess.

Really, I don't know what these people are about. I'm sure somebody will chime in to tell me how unfair I am, but as far as I can tell they're all some combination of opportunistic power-grabbers, greed-heads, or plain old nuts.

Frankly, I think about a third of the country is of its meds. I'm just hoping the institutions we have are sufficient to keep things on the rails until the fever breaks. The ruling denying the DOJ appeal on the immigration ban was, to me, a really good sign, as was the eventual compliance of the CBP with the court's orders.

If those things had gone the other way, I'd have said we were utterly FUBAR.

I'll take what I can get.

"off its meds" not "of its meds".

Oh Hunter S of blessed memory. My sister recently quoted her favourite part of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to me (I think from what I remember it's the end), and said she finds herself thinking of it more and more in these times:

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

Judging by Trump's latest tweet, having a self professed revolutionary on his team is necessary:

Chris Christie trying to find his way back to the warm:

“He respects Vladimir Putin because he believes that the leaders of countries deserve to get treated with respect,” Christie said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” instantly raising questions as to why leaders of nations like Australia, Mexico or Germany did not similarly deserve the same level of respect from the president.

“The president likes to volley back and forth with people. And when he’s being challenged, he likes to challenge back,” Christie added. “But the fact of the matter is I know President Trump believes that America is morally superior to Russia. I know that he’ll stand up and be tough with Vladimir Putin. But I also know that he believes that a world where people are speaking with each other, dialoguing, cooperating is a potentially safer world than one when we’re constantly in conflict.”

I think that Bannon bears paying attention to, I'm rooting for Preibus to bring order and some of the appointees seem to be lining up with him. He was going to have a role, but it isn't a guaranteed role, ask Giuliani, or Christie. As far as the first two weeks go, this stuff is hard at first. People talk about wanting governors etc. just because this learning curve is not easy. There is a lot of power with being President, but it has lots of realistic constraints to internalize. I am encouraged that there was a slowing down of EO's to review a process. There were multiple WH staff this week that said we will be better, recognizing the need to be. They didn't undo the Russian sanctions and specifically didn't rollback Obamas LGBTQ EO protecting federal workers, along with supporting gay marriage he seems to not have an anti gay agenda despite his religious freedom views. Explicitly questioning Israeli new settlement activity was a pretty important step. All of these first are signs Bannon doesn't get to run things and they are signs the rush of things to meet campaign promises may be slowing down and he could be turning to work with Congress on an actual agenda.

It may be helpful to recall that President Obama had his own learning curve http://townhall.com/columnists/janiceshawcrouse/2009/02/04/obamas_first_two_weeks and missteps, and some questionable initial selections and credibility questions.

I made the call to the Senate Committee that Dr. Science suggested.

Explicitly questioning Israeli new settlement activity was a pretty important step.

I'll admit that one is a real poser, given who he chose to be Israeli ambassador. But like you say, it's early. Works both ways.

Unlike Giuliani and Christi, Bannon shows a distinct disdain to spout his garbage before TV reporters. I hear Rasputin was also a diffident dresser.

@ bobbyp

I'd put that - and a lot of what's going on - down to rival actors in the WH, and Trump's habit of agreeing with the last person he spoke to. It's clear that *someone* there is radically pro-settlement, but others may disagree.

What's less obvious is who's who. The first guess might be that Kushner is pro-settlement and Bannon anti-, since the former is Jewish and Zionist, and the latter very likely an anti-Semite. But then, Bannon is also, perhaps above all else, anti-Muslim; while it's possible that Kushner actually knows a bit more about the real situation in Israel-Palestine and is aware that e.g. moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a very bad move for everyone.

I don't know much about either of them, and they're not the only ones driving policy - Pence, for instance, might have extreme views.

@ Adam

The question is who, in the midst of all that intellectual puss, would advocate the reining in of settlements?

I don't see any obvious suspects.

Some insane shit in this article. Make sure you mark down the tidbit that Paul Ryan and Bannon text everyday when Ryan tries to claim he was Speaker of the House and what could he be expected to know?



Generation Zero “focused on the key aspect of their theory, the idea that every 80 years American history has been marked by a crisis, or 'fourth turning', that destroyed an old order and created a new one”.

A February 2017 article from Business Insider titled: Steve Bannon's obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome, commented: "Bannon seems to be trying to bring about the 'Fourth Turning'."

Bannon is totally crazy shit.

Its like he already had fanfic scenario on world history, and he is doing anything to brought his fanfiction to reality.

There were multiple WH staff this week that said we will be better, recognizing the need to be.

From your lips, as they say.

Meanwhile, from the Strauss-Howe Wiki:

which discusses the history of the United States as a series of generational biographies going back to 1584.

I think I see a problem already....

the NYT was maybe one of the most depressing things I've read in a long time.

People hold meetings in the dark because nobody knows how to turn the lights on? Trump wanders around at night trying to figure out where stuff is?

But I was particularly struck by this:

“I think, in his mind, the success of this is going to be the poll numbers. If they continue to be weak or go lower, then somebody’s going to have to bear some responsibility for that.”

Whatever happened to "the buck stops here"?

Whatever happened to "the buck stops here"?

There's no there there.

He's underwater so the buck goes straight to Deutsche Bank.

SFF writer Alexandra Erin mused about that NYT article on Twitter, and when she was talking about how Trump clearly feels that Bannon is truly loyal to him, I realized:

I think Bannon's wino-bum look is part of this. Trump is v sensitive to appearance, knows how important it is. Bannon

can never EVER look the part of a Leader, so in Trump's mind he cannot be a threat, much less a usurper. Basically,

Bannon looks like he doesn't belong, like he will never belong - his presence validates Trump's claims of outsiderdom

"There are a number of points Bannon makes here that I agree with - the loss of any sense of social responsibility in capitalism as it is practiced, the neglect of working people's interests."

Gotcher "war of civilizations" right here, buddy.

It really is deplorable how Syrian refugees have forced the offshoring of US manufacturing jobs, leading to intense economic anxiety, amirite?

Doctor Science, thank you very much for your heads-up on the Bannon/Senate Committee on Homeland Security issue. As you no doubt intended, vital suggestions like that are eddying out to greater numbers of US citizens than read this blog, or would otherwise be aware of them. Don't stop!

....the loss of any sense of social responsibility in capitalism as it is practiced..

I detect no such "loss" anywhere in the historical record.

I detect no such "loss" anywhere in the historical record.

I'd say that in the mid-20th C, private industry in the US did a better job of spreading created wealth to labor and other stakeholders than they do now. I would also say that the theoretical understanding of the purpose of private for-profit corps, as expressed in the law and economic theory, has changed significantly since that time, to a focus on shareholder value full stop.

A lot of that is due more to political choices than to changes in the "conscience of capitalism", but the changes are nonetheless there.

With even Fox News reporting that "Trump not fully briefed on Executive Order that gave Bannon seat at NSC meetings", this is really not looking good for Bannon. Obviously, it makes Trump look bad for not knowing what he's signing, but you've got to believe that he won't be happy with Bannon and Miller now it's out in the open and causing such a ruckus. Excellent! *best Mr Burns impersonation*

Just in case McKT ever repeats the tired old stuff about snowflakes and safe spaces...

So, apparently Bannon (or somebody) put the EO in front of Trump that removed the DNI and the DoD guys from the NSC, and put Bannon in.

And Trump signed it without really understanding what it did.

This is a somewhat inflammatory question, but I'm asking it in all seriousness: at what point do we start thinking of this as a coup?

I think it would be good if there was a clear line in the sand.

For it to be a coup, wouldn't we have to see a change in who was in charge?

Given that Trump seems to routinely sign stuff with only maybe an oral paragraph about what it does, it doesn't see like he is actually (as opposed to nominally and legally) "in charge". Not that he doesn't set direction now and again, mostly with tweets. But that's not the same as actually managing the government.

Or were you suggesting that, at the inauguration, someone else was doing the sorts of managerial things that Bannon is doing now?

"For it to be a coup, wouldn't we have to see a change in who was in charge?"

To be pedantic (and who amongst us does not like to be pedantic?), that would be a "putsch", not a "coup".

For it to be a coup, wouldn't we have to see a change in who was in charge?

I don't know. That's my question.

Well, I remember during the campaign a lot of people figured Pence would be the actual President, since Trump was going to go around "Making America Great Again," as his SIL said. Lots of rallies and victory parades.

So I don't think many people thought Trump would ever be actually "in charge." Bannon seems to be in charge of strategy, and Pence is responsible for tactics (e.g., choosing the Cabinet).

I don't think *anyone* is in charge of, say, military operations, considering how badly that raid in Yemen went. The raid was approved by Trump "with no advice or consultation from intelligence officers or military commanders," but Mathis apparently supported it. Based on what, one wonders.

I don't think many people thought Trump would ever be actually "in charge." Bannon seems to be in charge of strategy, and Pence is responsible for tactics

But then, a lot of people thought (and argued) that Trump would become more moderate once the campaign was over and he was in office. Lots of wishful thinking going on in a variety of quarters.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is how to think about the situation where Bannon (or anyone for that matter) appoints themselves to positions of authority without any effective review, or perhaps any review at all.

I haven't looked at the US Code for the NSC in detail, but I know that some of the folks who were removed are supposed to be on the council, as a matter of statute. And, presumably, folks who are not on the council as a matter of statute need to be added by someone other than themselves.

It would not be surprising if the POTUS had the authority to do those things, but is that so if he did not even know what was in the EO?

It all seems kind of beyond irregular, it seems like a fairly naked power grab, executed by virtue of the POTUS' inattention.

At what point do things like that become matters, not of clumsiness or bad form, but illegal?

Note that the makeup of the NSC is defined *by statute*, see here.

As much as I dislike the current POTUS, no military mission should be presented to POTUS that is not 'ready.'

I don't think it is reasonable to claim this operation failed because POTUS did not ask the right questions. Some very smart, educated, experienced people thought it was prepared enough to get to POTUS.

Even if POTUS asked for more aggressive operations that the previous administration was afraid to approve, this plan was provided to him.

Each President makes his own decisions on who he wants on the National Security Council. To that degree, this was not unusual.

As far as I can tell, the law doesn't actually explicitly require that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or the Director of National Intelligence be on the NSC. It seems like folly not to have them there, but it doesn't seem to be required -- possibly because it didn't occur to the Congress, when they were drafting the law, that anyone would fail to include them.

That the changes were a power grab by Bannon seems quite likely. But power struggles within the White House, especially early on, are routine. There is more scope for those struggling if the President isn't paying attention, but the struggles seem to come with the territory.

wj, I think there is a difference between accepting an existing government plan, as in my example, and the administration initiating a plan. I don't hold Trump responsible for developing a plan in Yemen (he owns the decision, not the planning). I do hold him responsible for his transition. It seems abysmal.

wj, I think there is a difference between accepting an existing government plan, as in my example, and the administration initiating a plan. I don't hold Trump responsible for developing a plan in Yemen (he owns the decision, not the planning). I do hold him responsible for his transition. It seems abysmal.

The debt ceiling expires in five weeks.

Who will prevail?

The far-right anarchists in the republican party who tried numerous times to burn the joint down AND destroy the full faith and credit of the United States of America, or the Hillary Clinton Goldman Sachs far-right deplorables now studding the deflating dough of the unpersonneled empty-desked trump administration like poisonous raisonettes?

No one in the Federal Reserve or the Treasury Department below Munchaboutnothkin will be consulted either way.

Funny how we haven't heard a peep from Larry Bad Dentistry Kudlow yet.

Does that mean we return to the gold standard five weeks from now by tweet?

Does that mean we return to the gold standard five weeks from now by tweet?
Steel and lead, not gold.

A lot of that is due more to political choices than to changes in the "conscience of capitalism"...

Er, yes, precisely my point. cf New Deal.

Er, yes, precisely my point. cf New Deal.

No disagreement.

If there were ever a president who would solve debt ceiling problems by "minting the Trillion dollar platinum coin", it's Trump.

Because SHINY!!

I suggest that the Mint take the precaution of making these new coins the size of Yap Island Stone Wheel currency, so that short-fingered thieves have a more difficult time slipping them into their trousers.

I think it's incumbent on SNL to let Rosie O'Donnell play Steve Bannon on this week's show, which Alec Baldwin is hosting.

Does the chairman of the Joint Chiefs really have any other major role than being the top military person in the NSC? Being the president's top military advisor is the main purpose of the job. The actual "joint chiefs" is just an advisory body, and without access to NSC, it isn't that important. After all, the combatant commanders report directly to the Secretary of Defence. Removing the Chairman of Joint Chiefs from NSC means that the Secretary of Defence is the only conduit through which the NSC gets military advice. Considering that Mattis is a general, this is actually workable, but it means, simultaneously, that he is, for most intents and purposes, the overall commander of the US military.

Lurker, it isn't a matter of who commands the military. The NSC isn't in the chain of command. It's a matter of getting good advice from a military perspective. Having General Mattis there (by law) as Secretary of Defense is helpful. But having an ex-general it's not a substitute for having someone from the currently-serving military. You want someone who is in the loop with the rest of the military. And from what I have seen of Mattis, he isn't really tied in to the informal communications which are critical to getting a non-political take on what is happening.

Also, even with his background in intelligence, Mattis isn't in the loop on current intelligence matters the way the DCI is.

In short, having these two individuals left out of meetings looks like an attempt to avoid having to address inconvenient facts in deciding national security policy. Not that political considerations should be totally absent from the discussions. But operating with less information is not better than having more.

"But operating with less information is not better than having more."

Gonna get yourself drummed out of the GOP with heresy like that, you know.



Big wars on the horizon.

Looks like American Capitalism done heightened it's own contradictions.

Here are some of the faces:


All of these human beings were ridiculed for the past 15 years by conservative politicians for their plights for one reason or another, while conservative policy-makers and business people refused to employ them for one reason or another.

Heck, for the last guy on the list, making too much money in his former job was the equivalent of having a drug addiction or a criminal record or a disability.

These are the people Clinton did NOT call deplorables, though who would blame them for voting for a deplorable authoritarian regime that promises to stomp some heads, anyone's heads.

Their heads, probably. No, most assuredly.

Hopefully, these five will be denied health insurance and access to medical care soon as punishment for their sins.

They need to open those health savings accounts.

Bannon needs to undergo daily urinalysis screening.

They could move abroad and get healthcare maybe.


They certainly won't get it in Texas.

Now, if their Super Bowl jerseys were filched, the Texas Rangers would be right on it in bullshit America.

Yemen hates us, as well they should, and Elizabeth Warren is gagged by McConnell

We're not yet three weeks in.

On to the Vatican:



Git yer red-hot satanic Marxism rightchere:


President Bannon's Bannon, who no doubt has her own Bannon. They are like those Russian nesting dolls:


Well, it's 5:00am my time and I've already reached my blogging quota for the day. Have a good one.

Bannon needs to undergo daily urinalysis screening.

Now that's just silly, Count. You have to know that it is possible to go and be utterly insane without any external chemical involvement.

Not exactly about Bannon, but not OT either, because it goes to who is in charge in the White House, and what they know. Do any of you believe this happened, or do you think this is fake news, or designed to test who's leaking?


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