Photo: Steve Bannon and his father Marty
4/18/17 Trump just gave a speech at a tool plant in Wisconsin. He brought DeVos and Mnuchin along to pose behind him. That’s fine. The Secretaries of the Treasury and Education have nothing better to do. And their portfolios have a great deal to do with jobs for factory workers. Who needs them? Steve Bannon wants to deconstruct the administrative state.
The speech — including the use of Cabinet secretaries as props (as in PROPaganda) was pure Bannon — a fantasy of a world economy that only existed in the minds of ill-informed voters of the 1970s and placed in the minds of the ill-informed of our own era, supported by a burlesque of philosophical thought as could only be put together by an investment banker and hack pseudo-intellectual writer like Bannon.
Automation demanding new definitions of work? What’s that and those? Training for the new economy? Education is for sissies. Global economy geared to more fairness to labor? Why when we can make war — trade or shooting — against weaker countries?
Less than mediocre men — Trump and Bannon — lustily enjoying the illusion of their murderous power — frustrated by their own incompetence. Still getting weak base hits if barred from the fences.
Weak base hits still hurt the other team — us:
Attack on internet privacy.
End of consumer protections on student loans.
Persecution of immigrants.
End of voting rights enforcement.
End of investigations of racial discrimination by police officers.
Neil Fucking Gorsuch.
Loss of life in reckless ill-considered and conceived military operations.
Stealing millions at Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties.
Just a few — in no particular order of importance.
Forget that talk that Bannon has lost power. He is powerful. Trump has agreed with him for a long time. (Lots on this on The Rick Blog.)
Checks and balances. (Russia collusion scandal will bring them down.)
They must be stopped. Even a lousy hitter hits a home run if the swing into a lucky wind.
Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas
Steve Bannon says that he believes that America and the world were more prosperous and secure after World War II when Plutocrats still believed in values associated with the Judeo-Christian tradition, and treated the 95% of the population that was not wealthy with empathy and respect.
What actually happened after World War II is that democratically elected leaders placed regulatory and tax burdens upon the wealthy, and developed socio-economic safety nets, as safeguards against the excesses of capitalism which they rightly determined helped cause the Depression and the War, and that benefitted the greater good of all classes for decades thereafter. Leaders like FDR, LBJ and Clement Atlee in Great Britain, created, fostered and executed public policies grounded in reality, not self-serving myths.
Bannon says today’s wealthy classes are not moored with the Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition, and therefore hurt those who are not rich, and society as a whole. He ignores the fact that throughout history the rich have lacked a moral compass — see slavery and the exploitation of labor in the Industrial Revolution as two examples. What is happening now is nothing new. What is new — or at least new in the last 40 years, is the rollback and erosion of our post-war protections.
Bannon’s argument is very attractive to Plutocrats such as his patron the billionaire Robert Mercer, and his sometimes protege, Donald Trump, because it requires them to relinquish no money, power or control at all. Vague moral prescriptions and self-regulation are concepts which suit the rich fine. They can do whatever they please and go to sleep at night believing that they are good people — sanguine in self-deception and sweet hypocrisy.
Bannon’s father, Marty, famously (because Bannon portrays Marty’s financial misfortunes as a mythic event) lost all of his money in the Stock Market Crash of 2008. Marty, a second generation employee of AT&T who was 88 years old and far into his retirement in 2008, heard Jim Cramer say on CNBC that he should sell all of his AT&T stock as a result of the crash. He did so in a panic. It was a big mistake.
Steve Bannon’s response to his Dad’s misfortune was not to advocate the regulation and/or punishment of Wall Street. It was to formulate his views on economic nationalism. His applied beliefs in a nutshell: have the wealthy use their capital to make the biggest profits possible as good capitalists should, but also to favor American workers because it was the right Judeo-Christian thing to do.
Steve Bannon’s response was also to embrace White Nationalism even as he tepidly tries to obfuscate his position while promoting it for political advantage. Capitalism — (in other words rich people) — knows best when it is informed by white Judeo-Christian European values. Rich white Christians and Jews should run the world. (Although, I need to learn more about Bannon and Jews — why the Executive Order on Holocaust Remembrance Day that didn’t mention Jews?)
Bannon has “thought outside the box” (He really makes things up. He doesn’t look at facts from new perspectives as a true intellectual would.) in a way that justifies the Trump Administration’s policies against Latin Americans and Latino-Americans (radical right-wing immigration policies), Muslims (travel bans, foreign policy doctrines committed to wars against “Islamo-Fascism,” and the rhetoric of fighting “radical Islamic terrorism” which makes the fight against terrorism a holy war or crusade against all followers of Islam), and African-Americans (rolling back voting rights’ laws and federal investigations of allegations of discrimination against African-Americans by local police departments).
Steve Bannon is a pseudo-intellectual and a phony moralist. He is a propagandist. He knows how to kiss the asses of the amoral rich, and con some of the unthinking and misguided poor.
One side of Bannon’s mouth implores the rich to accept God — a Western Judeo-Christian God (none other are recognized in his fictional world) while another side of his mouth gives them carte blanche to do as they please. Still another side of his mouth offers God’s mercy and justice to whites of European ancestry while oppressing and persecuting everyone else.
What does an investment banker and propagandist know about history, religion, real writing, justice or morality? Nothing much. But he knows a lot about manipulation. Bannon’s lies masquerade as ideas. He occupies a prominent place in our current marketplace of ideas because he is sponsored by rich people and he has done well himself.
Being rich has nothing to do with knowing about anything except the way that the rich person made his money. Rich people may know about other things, but when they do it’s it’s because of other factors, not their wealth.
Bannon is a great con artist. The most effective con is when the trickster fools himself. No lie detector can detect the lie the liar has accepted from himself. Bannon likely took his rationalizations for his own selfishness — he was a Catholic schoolboy once —- and turned it into a career. Trump listens to Bannon— and in so doing thinks he, Trump, is a good person. So does Mercer. Consciences clear, let the looting continue and accelerate!
Great wealth is a gateway to mental illness. Only the strongest can achieve great wealth and maintain their humanity. Camels and eyes of needles, to allude to a line from the Judeo-Christian tradition.
What to do? Tax and regulate the rich. Take much of their illegitimate wealth away from them and re-purpose it for the common good. Embrace diversity and globalism. Achieve world stability and security through the rule of international law, and a just and equitable international economic system.
Provide secular and religious moral education to teach people to see through Steve Bannon — including Steve Bannon.
Note: Bannon may or may not be being marginalized as tactician in the Trump White House recently, but his perspective remains the prevailing world view of Trump, Mercer and the Republican Party writ large. In practice it is not much different than what Republicans have largely believed for years — and anything new in Bannon’s views are compromises they willing make for electoral success. (Yes, the Bush II Administration was consciously not anti-Muslim, but it isn’t a point of strong conviction if there is contemporary money and power to be made and grabbed).
Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas