Steve Bannon’s unrequited effort to kiss Robert Kuttner’s YKW ass

Posted by DanielS on Tuesday, 22 August 2017 02:46.

Robert Kuttner revealed his conversation with Bannon: “To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything.” ... “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.

Democracy Now, “American Prospect Editor Robert Kuttner on His Extraordinary Interview with Steve Bannon”, 22 Aug 2017:

Democracy Now, Juan Gonzalez: Bannon’s departure came after a series of meetings last week with billionaire funder Robert Mercer who funds Breitbart and funded Trump’s campaign. Bannon met with Mercer on Wednesday and Trump met with Mercer on Thursday. Bannon departed the White house the following day.

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now: Just before he was ousted, Steve Bannon granted an extraordinary interview to Bob Kuttner, co-editor and co-editor of the liberal magazine the American Prospect

American Prospect Editor Robert Kuttner on His Extraordinary Interview with Steve Bannon:

Robert Kuttner: “Every once in a while you get lucky as a journalist, and he never bothered to put the conversation off the record. As you know in journalism if a high public official or anybody calls you and doesn’t bother to say that its off the record it’s the default is that its on the record ...and he proceeded to say a bunch of staggeringly incuatious things; on the assumption because I had also criticized America’s China policy as having been dominated by corporations at the expense of workers; and because that sort of overlapped his critique that we were sort of old buddies and soul-mates…and he spent to first few minutes of the interview kind of ingratiating himself with me, telling me what a thrill it was to meet me after all these years, he’s been reading my stuff…

It was one part naivete (which is an odd word to use for Bannon), it was one part bravado, it was one part recklessness, and it was weird, because if he knew that he he was on thin ice, what’s he doing reaching out to me? Can you imagine Bannon trotting into a meeting of the National Security Council saying, “you’ll never guess who agrees with my analysis, Bob Kuttner’ ...that would push him over the edge and in fact it kind of did.”

... (the best explanation is that) he was on the ropes and he was negotiating with General Kelley and Trump to postpone his departure to after labor day and he thought he could rally his forces on let’s get tough with China….

....if he’d already been fired it would have been completely bizarre that he would have called me and said, ‘hey won’t you come to the White house?’ because that would have been complete fantasy land.

...this is not the world’s most stable person; on the other hand he has a very strategic analysis of how you connect ‘neo-Nazi’, ‘White supremacy’ nationalism to economic nationalism. What’s interesting here is that he’s been able to sell his boss, Trump, on the get in bed with the White supremacist parts of nationalism but he hasn’t been able to sell the rest of the administration on economic nationalism because of course they’re in bed with the corporations; its complete fake populism:

The most recent example of that is the idea that he would use crony capitalism, hiring these private armies and masquerade as isolationism. Who does he think pays for those private armies? It’s the US taxpayer and expensive as the pentagon is, these private armies are even more wasteful and more expensive; so he’s all over the map on a lot of stuff.

But on one thing he’s quite coherent and that came through in the interview: he thinks the winning strategy is, you connect racist nationalism, anti-immigrant nationalism, to economic nationalism.

The other interesting question going forward is whether Bannon is going to play a kitchen cabinet role, where he talks to Trump in the middle of the night, coaches him; Trump is famous for these midnight phone calls.

Or is he going to join a Breitbart who right now is kicking the president in the shins as kind of a sell-out.

....and in that interview with The Weekly Standard he was kind of on both sides of the question, he said that the Trump presidency that we fought for was over….so, even Bannon can’t have that both ways, especially because Trump hates being upstaged by his advisors. That’s what did in Bannon, its what did in Scaramucci.”

Amy Goodman: Talk about the other issues he addressed with you, for example, Charlottesville. ...with Charlottesville his brand of White supremacy, neo-Nazi, the whole issue of The Confederacy, he suddenly comes front and center…and this is when he’s talking to you the midst of this catastrophic news conference on Friday…in fact what was the timing and Trump saying both sides were responsible on Saturday…

Kuttner: He called me about 20 minutes before the press conference started and its pretty clear that his finger prints were all over Trump’s strategy of doubling down on the racism.. there was a kind of a war between the people like Jared and Ivanka, who wanted him to back off, General Kelley, and Bannon who wanted him to double down, which makes the timing of the phone call even weirder.

Goodman: He said to you ‘the Democrats, 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 economics we can crush the Democrats.’

Kuttner: Yeah, and I pushed him very hard on that in the interview. I said look, even if we agree that our China policy is basically selling-out to a combination of Bejing’s economic nationalism and our own corporations who are happy to take the subsidies, happy to take the slave labor in China and then re-export back to the United States, that really does hurt American industry, hurts American workers; but, I said, even if we agree on that, why do you have to get in bed with neo Nazis on order to take a harder line on China on behalf of American workers? And that’s when he kind of drew this picture of a grand strategy where you connect the economic nationalism and the racism to the idea you box in the Democrats by forcing the Democrats to defend people of color.

You know, I was listening before we went on, Amy, to the fellow who was talking about pulling down the statue of Columbus, because it all started with Columbus. If that’s the strategy that the left adopts, it almost plays into Bannon’s hands…  I think if you took a vote and asked people do you agree that we ought to pull down the statue of Columbus because the racism and the anti-native peoples all started with Columbus, most people would side with Bannon; so he’s very astutely playing off of liberals and decent people against this idea that the White working class is beleaguered; he does this much more deftly than his boss does. You get the feeling that Trump’s default setting is now just pure racism, pure jingoism, nativism and even getting in bed with Neo-Nazis; whereas Bannon at least (((has a grand theory))) about what he’s doing.

There are two ways to look at what’s going to happen going forward, either with Bannon out Trump becomes even more unhinged, left to his own devices, or he decides to pull back and make more (((an alliance with the mainstream - laughs - far right, otherwise known as the Republican Party.)))

I think we’ll get an indication of this in Phoenix, if he does pardon Sheriff Arpaio, that’s doubling down on the Bannon recipe, because Bannon was the buy who really coached him, using Breitbart, about the genius of going after Mexicans as rapists, and going after anti-immigrants and building a wall, that was pure Bannon.

Juan Gonzalez: I would like to ask you about his remarks on North Korea?

Kuttner: He made it very clear that he completely disagreed with his boss and on this point Bannon was actually right, he said unless someone can explain to me how ten million South Koreans in greater Seoul are not going to be killed by conventional weapons in the first thirty minutes, this talk of war is not sensible, and of course that directly contradicted what his boss had said just days earlier.

Bannon’s view is that because the Chinese are not really helping us out with the North Koreans, they just go through the motions of that, it’s the logic of mutually assured destruction that prevents Kim from launching a nuclear attack on The United States, even Kim is not that crazy. And because that’s the reality, says Bannon, and I agree with him on this one point, we could be taking a much harder line on China. But State Department, Defense Department, U.S. Trade Rep. are all backing off on China on the belief that China is going to pull its chestnuts out of the fire with regard to North Korea.

That’s a shrewd analysis, this is not a stupid man. But its a hundred degrees opposite to what his boss says.

And iterestingly, both Trump and Kim have pulled back in the last few days and that’s also classic Trump, ‘oh, that was yesterday, never mind.’

Goodman: In fact, after pulling back on North Korea, Trump said he was going to bomb Venezuela.

Kuttner: Yeah, and what’s really interesting about bombing Venezuela is that he’s given a free pass dictators from the Philippines to Turkey to Hungary, to Moscow… but somehow..

Goodman: to Saudi Arabia

Kuttner: to Saudi Arabia, we could go on, but somehow he picks Venezuela to go after, so if you have a left wing regime violating human rights you go after them, if you have right wing dictatorships going after human rights, god bless them.

Goodman: So, he talked about the White supremacists at Charlottesville as clowns; can you talk about his evaluation of what took place there?

Kuttner: I think that was another effort in his part, completely insincere to ingratiate himself with a progressive journalist..’s like the guy who’ll say anything to get a woman to got o bed with him, so he starts improvising, ‘oh, they’re clowns, we don’t take them seriously, we’ve got to crack down on them’ don’t think he believes that for ten seconds and his base knows he doesn’t believe that for ten seconds.’s very encouraging to see the upsurge of activism on the anti-racist side. What is tricky is that most Americans who are not well defined left or well defined far right...

Goodman: Interestingly, the White nationalists have just cancelled a bunch of rallies after getting trounced in these organizing counter measures from Boston on…

Kuttner: I was very proud of Boston. We had upwards of 40,000 demonstrators.

The far right people who called for this rally were revealed to be the pitifully small group that they really are. And that’s what we need to show them up for. the end of the day, there are not that many Neo-Nazis.

Part of the way that the way this is playing out makes it look as if a lot of American sympathize with neo-Nazis, they don’t. And they need to be contained, and the fact that decent Americans all over the spectrum are willing to come out, demonstrate, contain them, that’s fantastic.

Related article: Bannon’s disregard of ethno-nationalism is “leaked.”



Posted by Trump pardons Arpaio on Sat, 26 Aug 2017 22:28 | #

Vice News, “Donald Trump pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio”, 25 Aug 2017:

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona was convicted of a federal crime, but he won’t have to serve a day. On Friday evening, President Donald Trump pardoned the former lawman, whose illegal “anti-immigration sweeps” were described by one Justice Department investigator as the “most egregious” racial profiling case he’d ever encountered.

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon,” proclaims the White House statement announcing the pardon.

Arpaio was originally found guilty in July of criminal contempt changes, which were related to a 2007 class action lawsuit accusing the former lawman of targeting and illegally detaining Latino residents because he suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. He was to be sentenced in October.

In 2011, after a three-year investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop unlawfully detaining Latinos in his “anti-immigrant sweeps.”  Arpaio declined, later claiming he’d violated the judge’s orders unintentionally, though the judge didn’t buy it, alleging that Arpaio had continued the sweeps in an effort to further his 2012 reelection campaign. Arpaio ultimately lost his sheriff seat in 2016.

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