Wednesday 23rd of January 2019

bannon flying back the banner...

  • bannoning
  • Stephen K. Bannon, who is quoted in a new book calling Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians in 2016 “treasonous,” said that Mr. Trump was “both a patriot and a good man.”
  • Mr. Bannon’s mea culpa came as the White House continued its assault on him, with Stephen Miller, an adviser to President Trump, saying on CNN that the comments were “out of touch with reality.”
  • read more at the NYT...

is this an semi-attempt to make trump look good?

President Trump’s former chief strategist offered a semi-apology Sunday after days of withering castigation from the White House over his scathing comments in a new book, praising Trump in a public statement that aimed to soften his earlier criticism.

Stephen K. Bannon’s mea culpa came as Trump and his senior aides continued a barrage of public insults against him. The president’s top policy adviser, Stephen Miller, on Sunday called Bannon an “angry, vindictive person” whose “grotesque comments are so out of touch with reality.”

In a written statement, Bannon asserted that passages in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff in which he was quoted as being critical of Donald Trump Jr.’s contacts with a Russian lawyer — calling their meeting last year at Trump Tower “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” — were a mischaracterization. 

Bannon insisted his criticism was aimed not at the president’s eldest son but rather at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was fired and is facing charges in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation. Manafort, who also attended the meeting along with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, should have known “how the Russians operate,” Bannon said.

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warfare mindfuck tool...

Two months later, when he arrived in London from Canada, he was all those things in the flesh. And yet the flesh was impossibly young. He was 27 then (he’s 28 now), a fact that has always seemed glaringly at odds with what he has done. He may have played a pivotal role in the momentous political upheavals of 2016. At the very least, he played a consequential role. At 24, he came up with an idea that led to the foundation of a company called Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that went on to claim a major role in the Leave campaign for Britain’s EU membership referendum, and later became a key figure in digital operations during Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Or, as Wylie describes it, he was the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool”.

In 2014, Steve Bannon – then executive chairman of the “alt-right” news network Breitbart – was Wylie’s boss. And Robert Mercer, the secretive US hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, was Cambridge Analytica’s investor. And the idea they bought into was to bring big data and social media to an established military methodology – “information operations” – then turn it on the US electorate.

It was Wylie who came up with that idea and oversaw its realisation. And it was Wylie who, last spring, became my source. In May 2017, I wrote an article headlined “The great British Brexit robbery”, which set out a skein of threads that linked Brexit to Trump to Russia. Wylie was one of a handful of individuals who provided the evidence behind it. I found him, via another Cambridge Analytica ex-employee, lying low in Canada: guilty, brooding, indignant, confused. “I haven’t talked about this to anyone,” he said at the time. And then he couldn’t stop talking.


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the war between EU federalism and nationalist populism...

With the European Parliament elections of 2019 looming, the battle for the future of Europe, as many like to phrase it, is drawing ever closer. Two visions dominate this clash. On one side is Emmanuel Macron, the French president, who is trying to take the next step towards his dream of an “ever closer union.” On the other side is Matteo Salvini, the Italian secretary of the interior, leader of the Lega Nord, and ascendant right-wing populist. Thus did the recent headline blare off of Politico Europe‘s front page: “Macron and Salvini face off over Continent’s future.”

This is hardly the only dichotomy that matters. After all, older-school liberals like Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte aren’t too happy with Macron’s ideas either. But the war between EU federalism and nationalist populism is how the media has characterized Europe’s “Judgment Year 2019”—and both Macron and Salvini are at the center of it.

At least one American has also involved himself in this contest, seeing an opportunity to challenge the liberal world order—and perhaps renew a career that has hit a few roadblocks. A few weeks ago, the Daily Beast reported that Steve Bannon was planning to get his hands dirty in Europe’s elections, establishing his own think tank in Brussels to help right-wing populists build an alliance in their fight against the EU elite.

Europe’s populists have so far reacted to Bannon with skepticism. They seem unsure as to why they need someone who was deemed too far to the right even for Donald Trump. After all, the likes of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Poland’s Jarosław Kaczyński were already in power before Trump even decided to run for president and certainly before Bannon was brought onboard.

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bannon wins the debate...

The New Yorker announced today that on the program at its festival next month would be Steve Bannon, interviewed by editor David Remnick. Others scheduled to be at the festival started bailing out, and some of his staff were protesting publicly, so Remnick cut Bannon loose. Remnick said in a public statement:

In 2016, Steve Bannon played a critical role in electing the current President of the United States. On Election Night I wrote a piece for our website that this event represented “a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism.” Unfortunately, this was, if anything, an understatement of what was to come.

Today, The New Yorker announced that, as part of our annual Festival, I would conduct an interview with Bannon. The reaction on social media was critical and a lot of the dismay and anger was directed at me and my decision to engage him. Some members of the staff, too, reached out to say that they objected to the invitation, particularly the forum of the festival.

The effort to interview Bannon at length began many months ago. I originally reached out to him to do a lengthy interview with “The New Yorker Radio Hour.” He knew that our politics could not be more at odds—he reads The New Yorker—but he said he would do it when he had a chance. It was only later that the idea arose of doing that interview in front of an audience.

The main argument for not engaging someone like Bannon is that we are giving him a platform and that he will use it, unfiltered, to propel further the “ideas” of white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, and illiberalism. But to interview Bannon is not to endorse him. By conducting an interview with one of Trumpism’s leading creators and organizers, we are hardly pulling him out of obscurity. Ahead of the mid-term elections and with 2020 in sight, we’d be taking the opportunity to question someone who helped assemble Trumpism. Early this year, Michael Lewis interviewed Bannon, who made it plain how he viewed his work in the campaign. “We got elected on Drain the Swamp, Lock Her Up, Build a Wall,” Bannon said. “This was pure anger. Anger and fear is what gets people to the polls.” To hear this was valuable, as it revealed something about the nature of the speaker and the campaign he helped to lead.
The point of an interview, a rigorous interview, particularly in a case like this, is to put pressure on the views of the person being questioned.

There’s no illusion here. It’s obvious that no matter how tough the questioning, Bannon is not going to burst into tears and change his view of the world. He believes he is right and that his ideological opponents are mere “snowflakes.” The question is whether an interview has value in terms of fact, argument, or even exposure, whether it has value to a reader or an audience. Which is why Dick Cavett, in his time, chose to interview Lester Maddox and George Wallace. Or it’s why Oriana Fallaci, in “Interview with History,” a series of question-and-answer meetings with Henry Kissinger and Ayatollah Khomeini and others, contributed something to our understanding of those figures. Fallaci hardly changed the minds of her subjects, but she did add something to our understanding of who they were. This isn’t a First Amendment question; it’s a question of putting pressure on a set of arguments and prejudices that have influenced our politics and a President still in office.

Some on social media have said that there is no point in talking to Bannon because he is no longer in the White House. But Bannon has already exerted enormous impact on Trump; his rhetoric, ideas, and tactics are evident in much of what this President does and says and intends. We heard Bannon in the inaugural address, which announced this Presidency’s divisiveness, in the Muslim ban, and in Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville. What’s more, Bannon has not retired. His attempt to get Roy Moore elected in Alabama failed but he has gone on to help further the trend of illiberal, nationalist movements around the country and abroad.

There are many ways for a publication like ours to do its job: investigative reporting; pointed, well-argued opinion pieces; Profiles; reporting from all over the country and around the world; radio and video interviews; even live interviews. At the same time, many of our readers, including some colleagues, have said that the Festival is different, a different kind of forum. It’s also true that we pay an honorarium, that we pay for travel and lodging. (Which does not happen, of course, when we interview someone for an article or for the radio.) I don’t want well-meaning readers and staff members to think that I’ve ignored their concerns. I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues—and I’ve re-considered. I’ve changed my mind. There is a better way to do this. Our writers have interviewed Steve Bannon for The New Yorker before, and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage.

I think this is pretty awful. I’m not a big Steve Bannon fan, but I would love to watch Remnick grill him about populism, race, migration, and other hot-button issues. You don’t have to admire Bannon to recognize that he understands something about the world of 2018 that typically eludes The New Yorker crowd (which I guess includes me, as I have been a subscriber for a couple of decades). I’m not sure if Remnick had much choice but to back down if his festival was going to be boycotted, but this looks bad for the magazine. I suppose New Yorker festivalgoers only want to hear from people who agree with them, or who don’t seriously challenge their worldview.


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Bannon wins by forfeit...

for those interested in the debate, please see:...


Sarah Ferguson and the award-winning Four Corners team investigate the issues and uncover the hidden stories that will have Australia talking. Here she interviews Steve Bannon. Gus noticed that Sarah interrupted Steve, as much as she could get away with, and to some extend, she prevented him to hang himself or to fully promote his alternative ideas, while trying to hang him or at least punch him in the gonads. by the end, Steve Bannon has stirred the mud enough though he acknowledge to Sarah "you're good" "that was fantastic"... But the result is that Bannon is also a good presenter of facts... whatever facts are...


See you after the US mid-term election in November...


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Please note for those who don't know how the system works, Bannon was "fired" by trump, but in reality Bannon had done "his" job and, being "sacked", he could go around the world and preach the Trump doctrine, free of attachments to the White House. This is clever tactics.

As well, the general problem was that we have been led to believe under the previous presidencies that the president, including Obama, cared about the "little people" — but the reality is that the high end of the street got all the strawberries. Trump is populist enough to make workers realise this and give a bit more economic burley to the little fishes... A well as fiddle trade.

The Chinese situation is understood from the Trump viewpoint, though one would have to realise our own conflicts in profiting from trade with the Chinese... See:

tired of being the cake of kings and of emperors, after the opium wars and being the US slave factory...

our invitation to mr bannon will stand...

IN LIGHT of the criticism of my decision to interview Steve Bannon on stage as part of The Economist’s Open Future festival on September 15th, I would like to explain why we invited him.

The Open Future festival is the culmination of an initiative to mark this newspaper’s 175th anniversary. Our goal is to remake the case for liberal values in the 21st century by engaging in a global conversation about our world view with our supporters and, crucially, our critics.

Our premise has been that progress is best achieved when ideas are tested in open debate. For the past five months the Open Future initiative has spawned a vibrant discussion online on the prospects for free markets and open societies. We have included contributors with whose views we agree and disagree; we have hosted debates on controversial subjects.

The event on September 15th will be a live continuation of these conversations. A variety of prominent people will appear on panels and in other forums. It will be a day of robust argument, where ideas and individuals are challenged.

Mr Bannon stands for a world view that is antithetical to the liberal values The Economist has always espoused. We asked him to take part because his populist nationalism is of grave consequence in today’s politics. He helped propel Donald Trump to the White House and he is advising the populist far-right in several European countries where they are close to power or in government. Worryingly large numbers of people are drawn to nativist nationalism. And Mr Bannon is one of its chief proponents.

The future of open societies will not be secured by like-minded people speaking to each other in an echo chamber, but by subjecting ideas and individuals from all sides to rigorous questioning and debate. This will expose bigotry and prejudice, just as it will reaffirm and refresh liberalism. That is the premise The Economist was founded on. When James Wilson launched this newspaper in 1843, he said its mission was to take part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” Those words have guided us for 175 years. They will guide our debates at the Open Future festival on September 15th. That is why our invitation to Mr Bannon will stand.

Zanny Minton Beddoes
Editor-in-Chief, The Economist


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