The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Those Who Fall with Steve Bannon

One interesting note about the Cambridge Analytica story was on Bannon’s role:

A few months later, in autumn 2013, Wylie met Steve Bannon. At the time, he was editor-in-chief of Breitbart, which he had brought to Britain to support his friend Nigel Farage in his mission to take Britain out of the European Union.

Steve Bannon

What was he like?

“Smart,” says Wylie. “Interesting. Really interested in ideas. He’s the only straight man I’ve ever talked to about intersectional feminist theory. He saw its relevance straightaway to the oppressions that conservative, young white men feel.”

Wylie meeting Bannon was the moment petrol was poured on a flickering flame. Wylie lives for ideas. He speaks 19 to the dozen for hours at a time. He had a theory to prove. And at the time, this was a purely intellectual problem. Politics was like fashion, he told Bannon.

“[Bannon] got it immediately. He believes in the whole Andrew Breitbart doctrine that politics is downstream from culture, so to change politics you need to change culture. And fashion trends are a useful proxy for that. Trump is like a pair of Uggs, or Crocs, basically. So how do you get from people thinking ‘Ugh. Totally ugly’ to the moment when everyone is wearing them? That was the inflection point he was looking for.”

Absent Bannon meeting Wylie, there is no Trump Presidency. That’s not the only inflection point, of course, but it is there.

Bannon’s a weird bird: nativist populist, very smart, rich himself, and apparently quite likable in person, which surprised people in Congress.

It was Bannon’s ideas which undergirded Trump’s rise, which gave him a leverage point. While initial reports suggested that Cambridge Analytica was related to Kushner, the core operation which mattered traces back to Bannon.

Meanwhile, since Bannon left Breitbart after falling out with Trump, it has lost half its readership.

I mention all this because one of the most important things is to grant our enemies their virtues: Bannon is smart, has social insight, can get along with most people (interviewers usually find him quite likeable), and he can execute on his ideas. He also is able to understand popular rage.

This is not to say that Bannon has no flaws. He couldn’t handle Trump. He was taken out by his own inclination to shoot his mouth off and not stay in the background. When people started seeing him as the power behind the throne it was obviously something that Trump would not stand for.

His world model is actually, pretty good. It doesn’t have to be entirely accurate, and it’s not; what it has to be is something with which enough people agree, and to the extent they will act on it, and it is.

Bannon saw where the pain was. He saw where the rage was. He assembled a team, found a front man, ran with it, and he won.

Then he lost, because his front man could win, but was a very flawed tool when it came to actually ruling.

I don’t know if Bannon has a second act. Second acts are hard. If he wants one, he has to position himself as the operator other people can work with.

And right now it looks like he’s doing that. He may well be back, after Trump, with a second attempt, learning from these lessons.

But he may be too damaged. There may be too much fallout from his methods. I don’t actually think that Analytica is the unprecedented act people are making it to be, I believe that many others will turn out to have scraped Facebook in much the same way (developers I know find it amusing that people think this is new).

But unprecedented act or not, it is a scandal, and depending on how Trump falls, the damage to Bannon may make him beyond the pale.

Meanwhile, the money behind the scenes, Robert Mercer, will look for another brilliant executor.

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Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and Inevitable Abuses that Inevitably Happen


China and Saudi Arabia Show Anti-Corruption Is Often About Seizing Power


  1. bruce wilder

    “Bannon is smart, has social insight, can get along with most people (interviewers usually find him quite likeable) and can execute on his ideas. He also is able to understand popular rage.”

    And, Hillary Clinton is not: able to understand. Not just Hillary Clinton personally, but a whole and large part of the political class entire.

    The political establishment, of which Clinton was the champion, has made a business out of harvesting the electorate and delivering them to their corporate and billionaire patrons, in much the same way a magazine editor creates content as bait for a readership and delivers that readership, their attention captured, to advertisers. It is how our politics works.

    Not understanding popular rage or popular discontent is part of the job description after a while — as a political operative, your job is bait the electorate in ways that do not jeopardize the policy agenda of your moneyed sponsors. Karl Rove was fairly brilliant at this, on behalf of George W Bush, who was no slouch himself. Obama was genius personified. But, to do this effectively, I think it is actually a necessary part of the job, to not hear or respond to the consequences for the electorate, to not hear the rage. A political operative cannot let herself be distracted.

    And, amazingly to me, a large part of the electorate itself goes along with the program. Perhaps because the most effective “appeal” of this misdirected kind is to simply suppress political awareness and participation. Confuse people. Discourage them from voting or paying attention to political struggle. Misdirect, sure; listen know. It is not possible to do this kind of politics and deliver the goods to the electorate. The goods go to the sponsors. Exclusively.

    So, if Bannon was able to listen and understand, then he is a remarkable exception, even if he was in business to deliver the electorate to Robert Mercer.

  2. tony

    “[Bannon] got it immediately. He believes in the whole Andrew Breitbart doctrine that politics is downstream from culture, so to change politics you need to change culture. ”

    Depending on his goals, he might not need any sort of formal or public role to change culture to his liking. He has the money, connections and skills needed to act behind the scenes.

  3. nihil obstet

    I’m afraid you may be underestimating the ability of the American propaganda industry to sprinkle fairy dust over anyone who might be useful or profitable. If it now remembers George W. Bush as a responsible president (hell, if it remembers that old traitor and criminal George H. W. Bush whose biggest hit was Iran-contra as a statesman) and Henry Kissinger as a foreign policy guru, it can turn Bannon into the man who tried to make Trump govern. If the country makes a slight political move to the left in a way that really matters in mainstream politics, Bannon will be lionized as part of the frenzy of hippy punching that our leaders will loose.

  4. As I have observed here before, the Ruskies, or whomever, were only doing what the banks and business have been doing since Y2K, only better. It’s just business. It has also long been my observation the Ruskies, or whomever, by all accounts, almost ran a perfect game, the perfect con, and that their only mistake was the mark, the rube, Our Tea Pot Dictator.

    Bannon could easily be whomever.

  5. alyosha

    Both Wylie and Bannon have interesting backgrounds (google Christopher Wylie). I found it interesting that Wylie says that the name “Cambridge Analytica” as well as Nix’ locating the company near Cambridge was purely an effort to woo (and fool) Bannon, who likes ideas and idea people.

  6. Alan Smithee

    Bannon is nothing without the Mercers. If he wants to move ahead he’s going to need another billionaire sugardaddy.

  7. realitychecker

    The role of the sheep is to be the sheep. No matter who is the shepherd of the day.

    Those who bleat for safe spaces and unearned power will always be the sheep.

    Too bad, so sad. But we are still more secure than other mammals lol.

  8. highrpm

    hadn’t known that bannon precipitated trump’s first campaigning forays around the country at the start when he used in own jet and donned the signature red baseball caps. really?

  9. NR

    Bannon’s economic populism is, and always was, a sham, just a tool to get votes. He talks a good populist game, but when you look at his actions, it all unravels fast. The beginning of a president’s term is always his best chance to get things done, and what policies did Bannon pursue at that time? It wasn’t populist economics, it was stuff like the Muslim ban.

    It’s obvious what Bannon really cares about, and it’s not economics.

  10. realitychecker

    BTW, for those still in doubt about whether modern American feminism has totally jumped the shark, I urge you to read the entire link Ian provided on “intersectionality.”

    I don’t want to get deleted, so all I’m going to say is, ‘Invest in sex robots.” Sigh. I can still remember when a man could aspire to happiness by simply picking an ugly woman for his wife lol. (“If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife.”)

    These days, there are no such simple paths to happiness.

    OTOH, perhaps it will help with the overpopulation problem.

    When do men get to complain about our lot in such exhaustive detail, I wonder? (Answer: Never, just get a penisectomy.)

  11. The Stephen Miller Band

    Meanwhile, the money behind the scenes, Robert Mercer, will look for another brilliant executor.


    “And The Beat goes one……and The Beat goes on…..”

    Sonny & Cher were so brilliant & prescient. They knew.

    If you don’t strike at The Root, The Weed comes right back.

  12. different clue

    Future rage-directors can only direct the rage if the rage is still there to be directed.

    The pro One Percent mainstream Democrats, led and directed by the Clintonites, will keep stoking and building that rage. As an example of how they will do that, I will copy-paste a couple paragraphs from Naked Capitalism describing a piece of Clinton’s own recent political meddling in a primary in Illinois. ( Well, I tried to copypaste it, but it was from Twitter and apparently Twitter would rather be linked to than copypasted, so I will have to offer the link as well).

    “Hillary Clinton intervenes in the Illinois governor’s primary to help the self-funding to the tune of $70 million Pritzker billionaire win in the primary over non-rich person and anti-private equity candidate @DanielBiss. Yay Democrats!”

    The link itself will allow the reader to read the more detailed material which Matt Stoller showed along with his own tweet.

    Equally instructive is the very first response to Stoller’s material. It is a perfect expression of everything the Goldman Sachs feminists stand for as they continue to support the Rainbow Oligarchy.

  13. Herman

    @NR ,

    You might be correct that Bannon’s economic populism is a sham but even so I have to say that Bannon at least understands the mood of many people in the United States and also the mood of many people in other countries.

    Trump, Brexit, the recent Italian election, these are all connected to the belief among many ordinary people that the system is just not working for them and that it is skewed in favor of wealthy, cosmopolitan elites who hate and despise them for being culturally backward. There is certainly a racist and nativist aspect to the current wave of populism but there is also an economic aspect.

    Bannon understands that for many Americans, things are worse now than they were in the past. Much is made of Trump’s base having a relatively high household income but that likely reflects the age of these people. They might be doing well but their kids are probably not doing as well as they did when they were younger and their communities are likely in decline as manufacturing and retail have collapsed.

    There is indeed an economic component to the current wave of populism and the fact that it is tied to racism, nativism, misogyny and other untoward beliefs doesn’t change the fact that millions of ordinary people in the West have been badly screwed by their leaders in the political class. We know that in times of economic anxiety people are likely to turn toward scapegoats unless someone can redirect their anger in a different direction.

  14. Willy

    Rage-directors. I agree with those who believe that for “them”, this is all just business. Follow the money. It should be obvious.

    CA was in the business of manipulating masses for profit. That’s it, with all other outcomes being irrelevant to them. They are surrounded by conservatives/conservatism because it’s easier to hide their true intentions. This poison infected the Democrats when neoliberalism became a useful cloak, and excuse.

    Why would Bannon be any different? Just because he can sometimes be charming while talking a good line, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t in it for the sole reason of making bank off of those good lines. I met his kind in business. Now that you “like me”, could you please go out and do what benefits me, before I screw you over as the foolish sucker you are.

  15. Willy

    “He’s the only straight man I’ve ever talked to about intersectional feminist theory. He saw its relevance straightaway to the oppressions that conservative, young white men feel.”


    Back in playground days, the alpha didn’t just bully his targets for the pleasure he’d derive from exercising personal power, but also for strategic reasons: “See this example? This is what will happen to anybody else if you dare challenge my power!”

    Women are being bullied by the very same people who now bully most conservative young white men. If one needs to ask who these people are they’re not grokking Ians posts very well. These men who could once tell themselves, “Well, at least I’m not a woman… or a black, or a gay, or some crippled guy…”, are now having to lick the same dog poo as the historically sanctioned victims.

    Your union job is in China. Your national deficit is funding the buying back of stock shares for the “job creators”. Forget about them reinvesting in much of anything that helps your future. And, you won’t get ahead in a corporate organization without forcing one of your brothers to lick some dog poo, on behalf of the bully.

    Bannon sees their pain. Publicly, he’s going to change things back to the way they once were when men were men and victims were victims (but it’s a lot more money and a lot less risky aiding the bullies, shhh. *snicker*).

  16. realitychecker

    As usual, bruce wilder offers some very good insights, and I would like to highlight this one in particular:

    “And, amazingly to me, a large part of the electorate itself goes along with the program. Perhaps because the most effective “appeal” of this misdirected kind is to simply suppress political awareness and participation. Confuse people. Discourage them from voting or paying attention to political struggle.”

    This is a point everyone should chew carefully and digest thoroughly. I have made it in the large sense in the past with no take-up by anyone here, but I think it is a key concept for understanding how the Masters control us.

    It takes a lot to motivate a citizen to take his precious spare time and devote it to a particular political fight. He will never take the risk of doing so unless he is sure he is in the right, Which means he must first really feel he understands the facts and the importance of the issue(s) involved.

    You want to keep him passive and at home? Simple. Just introduce a bit of ambiguity into the information flow, and voila!, he is unsure he really understands, and suddenly it just seems smarter to seek simpler entertainment at home.

    Now add in the deep psychological desire of most people to want to feel they are on a team. They already know what team they are on. Ambiguity also makes it easy for them to stay there. And so we see citizen partisans exhibiting the same degree of blindness as the politicians do.

    The tactic of deliberate ambiguity is so powerful, and so easy to employ, that it is hard to be hopeful for seeing any substantial good coming out of the modern political process for regular people.

  17. Hello any thought that Trump heralded some kind of post neocon right should go out of the window with the apparent re-elevation of Bolton.

  18. Starting to look like scorned Facebook founder and board-member Peter Thiel and his buddy Blackwater mercenary Erik Prince, an advocate for the privatization of the military and brother of Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, an advocate for ensuring babies are born to be apocalyptic cannon fodder, were the whoever doing this since Y2K, only better.

  19. Willy

    When Trumpers thought their vote would be draining swamps, it looks like they’re getting more trickle down neocon fail instead. Well, except with the additional mad clown twist. At least I know that incorrigibly headstrong narcissists can themselves, be manipulated.

  20. Tom

    John Bolton is now to replace McMaster as NSA to Trump.

    Make your peace, do whatever, because soon every oil well in the Persian Gulf will be destroyed by Iranian retaliation for US strikes and South Korea will be a nuclear waste land followed by the North.

    Or pray Bolton is just speaking to the audience and isn’t actually that evil…

  21. realitychecker

    Laugh of the day: David Brooks opines in the Times today that we are still teaching children to be critical thinkers lol. David, where ya been for the last few decades?

    For the evidence that we suffer a dearth of critical thinkers, consider how difficult it is for anybody on the left to understand that the true value of Trump is that his election signals a beginning breakdown of the rigidly controlled duopoly political game. That an outsider to the club got elected, means that another outsider entity might succeed after him, maybe even a viable third party.

    For those who say that is insignificant, consider how impotent the left has been for decades at accomplishing or furthering that very necessary change.

  22. Ché Pasa

    Looks like this whole “Collusion” drama is coming full circle and involves a good deal more players than Mother Russia and Vladimir Putin-With-Horns. 

    Vulnerability to the sort of propaganda and psychological manipulation that’s been going on —
    and on and on and on — depends in part on how aware one is that it’s happening and on having the tools and skills to resist.

    Most people seem to be believers in what they’re told and easily fall for sales pitches thus allowing con-artists to flourish. False beliefs are held to rigorously so long as they fit a system of faith that explains the world and events well enough.

    Thus, we are immersed in falsehood all the time. The Overclass no less so than We, the Rabble, though the falsehoods and beliefs may differ depending on class.

    The truth wears a mask in the midst of so many lies. But it’s there.

  23. John

    Bannon, Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and so on become irrelevant in light of Sen Market’s comment about Trump lining up his War Cabinet with Pompeo and Bolton. At this point, what war cabinet would not be the last one? And melting ice will be the follow up in the double tap strike on the human biome.

  24. It should be easy enough to identify problems and anger as this is what people protest about all the time. Few politicians however know how to solve those problems and many are so overwhelmed with information overload they just stop listening. We need talent in politics as well as empathy, but talent doesn’t easily succeed in populist politics. In a world of social media echo chambers non-conformist problem-solvers are often rejected.

  25. And … The political action committee founded by John R. Bolton, President Trump’s incoming national security adviser, was one of the earliest customers of Cambridge Analytica, which it hired specifically to develop psychological profiles of voters with data harvested from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, according to former Cambridge employees and company documents.

    Cooking in a nuclear conflagration will certainly be quicker than suffocating in our own flatulence.

  26. S Brennan

    The “liberals” that I know were cheering Hillary’s crew in the Deep-State/Deep-State-Media as they successfully, [through the use of falsified FBI interview transcripts to support a malicious prosecution], stripped Trump of Flynn* and then later Bannon [by purposely confusing multi-ethnic nationalism with racist nativism**]. So now, all of the Koch-Bros-Boys [& Girl] are in place…and yet the “liberals” I know [& Democratic “leaders”] are not as nearly as concerned as with Bannon & Flynn..why? Well let’s follow the money.

    The Koch-Bros stand to make billions from their domestic energy supply…with the ME consumed in flames.

    The [D]’s paymaster; Likud Israel, stands to gain an empire [Lebanon/Syria] if Iran can be disposed of…on the USA’s dime of course. Have I got a real estate deal for you? Not since the USA’s “manifest destiny” days has their been such a real estate bargain in the offing. Yeah, you got to kill a few million natives…but so what? It’s all been done

    So…as we*** jump off this cliff together, I’d like to thank the hard core nuts on both sides of the aisle for their willingness to follow media Pied-Piping ideologues rather than spending a few moments a day to have some independent thoughts.

    *Yeah, Flynn was obsessed with arm/fighter flows from Iran, but never advocated outright war, which Bolton & Disaster McMaster have.

    **Just because there is an intersection groups doesn’t mean they are the same thing, not everyone who was impressed with Hitler’s military was an effing Nazi.

    ***Hillary/Trump [D]&[R] War Advocates.

  27. Willy

    It’s becoming quite obvious that Trump was informed by experts at mass manipulation that he’d have a much better chance if he campaigned as an “outsider”. Obama likely received the same advice. Hillary campaigned as an “experienced expert” with disastrous results. The closest to a real outsider was Bernie, with his political issues, but he couldn’t defeat the system.

    The danger with Trump is voters becoming so jaded by “outsiders”, they grudgingly revert back to hoping status quo “experienced experts” will listen to their issues. And these experts at mass manipulation will have no problem reformulating their strategies accordingly.

  28. @ Alan Smithee
    “Bannon is nothing without the Mercers. If he wants to move ahead he’s going to need another billionaire sugardaddy.”

    Not necessarily. I wrote Bannon off after he back-stabbed Trump, but Trump’s signing of the omnibus budget bill has caused LOTS of BreitBarter’s to write off Trump.( ) In their impotent rage, some are talking about the 2nd Amendment ‘solution’, which is hard to take seriously. As I asked one hothead, “Who, exactly, would you shoot? Who would take their place, you and your buddies?”

    Now, if Bannon would do for conservatives and libertarians, what Cenk Uyghur and Kyle Kulinski did for progressives, in the form of Justice Democrats ( ), then all might be forgiven. Bannon’s embrace of the Mercers (and their money), plus the lack of transparency and democratic input into his supported candidates, made him suspect. In the case of Progressive Democrats, their candidate vetting process is not transparent, and not terribly democratic, either, but they seem to have the money thing figured out, compliments of the Bernie Sanders campaign serving as a model, and are generally strategically competent.

    A Republican/conservative/libertarian-facing-analog of Justice Democrats could probably give them a run for their money, being likely to be appealing with more Americans regarding immigration.

    Ah, but you can’t win a race that you’re not in. The Justice Democrats did pretty well in the Texas primary (, while the “America First Republicans’ won nothing in TX – because the don’t exist.

    (Having said all that, the Justice Democrats have been stalled at 51-52 candidates for what I believe is a few months, now. I can’t help be wonder if they haven’t been co-opted by mainstream Democrat operatives.)

  29. Hugh

    There is no consistency. Even the zigs and zags are erratic. Still there are some things we can see. Trump taints pretty much anyone and anything around him, and then eventually throws them away. The quality of those people is like so much about Trump. You think it can’t get worse and then it does, and does, and does. He tends to throw red meat morsels to his rubes, but the real bucks continue to go to the rich. Despite his initial isolationist rhetoric, he has embraced a highly militarized, highly interventionist foreign stance. I can’t say policy because that would imply some minimal level of consistency. Trump definitely has a Russia/Putin thing that is creepy to say the least, not to mention his general worship of dictators and dictatorism. At the same time, he has nothing but contempt and lack of support for traditional allies, especially those in Europe. He and John Bolton are the last guys I would want within a million miles of having any say over North Korea and Iran. Trump’s current foray into trade wars hurts two of his constitutencies: the rich and farmers and antagonizes China which one would think we would need for any North Korea. Meanwhile Trump’s Iran “stance” undercuts his supposed North Korean efforts. Well that and that Trump says one thing one day and the opposite the next completely undercuts his credibility. And finally, does anyone believe he won’t fire Mueller? Anyway, all this is a long way round to say that Bannonism isn’t especially coherent, but in comparison to Trumpism was. The difference is that Bannon’s inconsistencies are the internal contradictions of a poorly thought through world view but they are stable. Trump’s inconsistencies are by comparison completely unstable without any real or imagined theoretical substrate.

  30. someofparts

    Google is ground zero for a wholly new subspecies of capitalism in which profits derive from the unilateral surveillance and modification of human behavior. …

    In our time, Google is to surveillance capitalism what Ford and General Motors were to mass-production and managerial capitalism a century ago …

    The year 2001 brought the bust and mounting investor pressures at Google. Back then advertisers selected the search term pages for their displays. Google decided to try and boost ad revenue by applying its already substantial analytical capabilities to the challenge of increasing an ad’s relevance to users –– and thus its value to advertisers. Operationally this meant that Google would finally repurpose its growing cache of behavioral data. Now the data would also be used to match ads with keywords, exploiting subtleties that only its access to behavioral data, combined with its analytical capabilities, could reveal. …

    It’s now clear that this shift in the use of behavioral data was an historic turning point. …

    What just happened was the discovery of a surprisingly profitable commercial equation …

    The equation: First, the push for more users and more channels, services, devices, places, and spaces is imperative for access to an ever-expanding range of behavioral surplus. Users are the human nature-al resource that provides this free raw material. Second, the application of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science for continuous algorithmic improvement constitutes an immensely expensive, sophisticated, and exclusive twenty-first century “means of production.” Third, the new manufacturing process converts behavioral surplus into prediction products designed to predict behavior now and soon. Fourth, these prediction products are sold into a new kind of meta-market that trades exclusively in future behavior. The better (more predictive) the product, the lower the risks for buyers, and the greater the volume of sales. Surveillance capitalism’s profits derive primarily, if not entirely, from such markets for future behavior. …

    This is how in our own lifetimes we observe capitalism shifting under our gaze: once profits from products and services, then profits from speculation, and now profits from surveillance. This latest mutation may help explain why the explosion of the digital has failed, so far, to decisively impact economic growth, as so many of its capabilities are diverted into a fundamentally parasitic form of profit. …

    The significance of behavioral surplus was quickly camouflaged, both at Google and eventually throughout the Internet industry, with labels like “digital exhaust,” “digital breadcrumbs,” and so on. These euphemisms for behavioral surplus operate as ideological filters, in exactly the same way that the earliest maps of the North American continent labeled whole regions with terms like “heathens,” “infidels,” “idolaters,” “primitives,” “vassals,” or “rebels.” On the strength of those labels, native peoples, their places and claims, were erased from the invaders’ moral and legal equations, legitimating their acts of taking and breaking in the name of Church and Monarchy.

    We are the native peoples now whose tacit claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own behavior. They are erased in an astonishing and audacious act of dispossession by surveillance that claims its right to ignore every boundary in its thirst for knowledge of and influence over the most detailed nuances of our behavior. For those who wondered about the logical completion of the global processes of commodification, the answer is that they complete themselves in the dispossession of our intimate quotidian reality, now reborn as behavior to be monitored and modified, bought and sold.

  31. Peter

    The talking heads are beginning to explode over John Bolton’s appointment and it is somewhat entertaining to watch. I doubt Bolton will take any lip from the appeasers or apologists for Iran and Trump’s long held policy on Iran will be enforced as they are rolled back.

    There is no neocon viable war plan for Iran so Bolton will be limited to drive what can be used to weaken Iran’s hold on the region. The Israel/Hezbollah war will probably be the first major offensive aiming to destroy that proxy force in Lebanon and southern Syria with full US support.

  32. Hugh

    While Bolton wants to drag us into more wars in the Middle East and while such wars might be in the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia, there really is no argument that they would be in the US’s interest. It is important to point out that neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia is a US ally. There are no defense treaties, such as we have with our NATO allies or Japan. Nor has either shown itself to be a dependable partner. The Saudis have been big funders of terrorism and the Israelis have routinely torpedoed US peace efforts in the region or as with Iraq and now Iran sought to suck us in to fight their conflicts. This is the essential contradiction at the heart of the Bolton/Trump approach. They say they are America first but you are not in control if you are doing the bidding of others. Bannon at least seems to have had this understanding.

    Bolton is one of the few remaining unregenerate defenders of the second Iraq war, a war that neocons like him lied us into and then totally blew because they knew nothing about Iraq and could be told nothing about Iraq. He thinks that we should never have left, conveniently forgetting that Obama left on Bush’s timetable, Obama tried to stay, but outrage in Iraq to lenient court treatment in US of those involved in the Haditha massacre forced the Iraqis to demand a full withdrawal. But really what do facts have to do with either Bolton or Trump? Or Bannon too for that matter. And therein lies the danger to us that we are not only ruled by crooks but increasingly crackpots. Neither is viable but the second puts on the fast track to failure.

  33. different clue


    Some (perhaps many) people are prisoners and/or hostages of Google. If they have built parts of their material survival lives around the Google, then they are no longer free to live.
    So they will be mined and farmed, farmed and mined, farmed and mined and drilled and pumped for years to come.

    Other (perhaps many) people are not material survival prisoners or hostages of Google. They may be addicted to using it. Some may be not even addicted. Perhaps they could use something else, if there is still something else to use. Other email services, other search engines, etc.

    The same is true for people and Facebook. Some people have built their survival around Facebook to earn a living in this No Money = You Die society. It would take them years to grow a new survival model in order to detach from Facebook.

    Other people are merely addicted. If they see themselves that way, perhaps they can undergo the misery of withdrawal from Facebook involved in detaching and getting the Facebook out of their lives. I have read here and there that rising younger generations of rich-country people consider Facebook to be unhip and uncool and “their parents’ social medium of choice”. Perhaps this revelation of Facebook’s true-all-along nature and purpose will make Facebook poison for all the younger people who wish to be seen as cool and hip and groovy by all the other cool, hip and groovy young people. Perhaps a steady choke-off of “new members” will lead to Facebook’s shrinkdown or extermination from existence.

    I imagine the Clinton supporters like to present themselves as “outraged . . . or something” by the way that Facebook ” helped Putin win the election for Trump”. Well, let those Clinton supporters who feel that way do something useful and organize a years-long effort to extermicott Facebook from existence.

  34. Ché Pasa

    Bolton’s appointment is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel. There is no lower one can go in the foreign policy/”national security” realm, which even Trump must know.

    Of course it’s a provocation and so far, it’s an effective one. There is little oxygen left in the room.

    Whether he and Trump get their wars on depends on whether they can assemble enough domestic allies and weapons to sally forth. Right now, they don’t have them. Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway do not a Mighty Army make. However, if they are clear-headed enough, determined enough and make effective use of the tools of propaganda and psychological manipulation available to them — tools which go well beyond what’s been exposed so far — they may well achieve their goals. The nihilists will finally see the End they’ve longed for.

    Up to now, Trump and his cronies have been seen by the High and the Mighty as entertainment while the looting continues and expands. But war fever interferes with looting. At some point before the missiles fly, the West Wing reality show is liable to be canceled. And it won’t be pretty.

  35. Willy

    These Lives kids are impressive. It seems that no amount of tired old tribal shaming, ad hominems, condescension, conspiracy theories and lies… is going to deter them from that which is so clearly obvious in the statistics, and in adult citizen opinion from virtually every other civilized country in the world.

  36. S Brennan

    Please make your case for what “is so clearly obvious in the statistics” in regards to Mexico, our closest neighbor physically/culturally…”Mexico* has recorded its highest homicide rate in years, with the government’s interior ministry reporting there were 29,168 murders in 2017…in spite of having the toughest gun laws in the Americas” because what “is so clearly obvious in the statistics” isn’t so “obvious” when you don’t cherry pick.

    “Lives kids are impressive…so clearly obvious in the statistics.” – Willy – March 24, 2018

    *About 1/3rd the population of the USA

  37. Hugh

    The important thing to remember about Trump is that there is no bottom. There will always be a lower and a worse. It is his modus operandi, the essence of his con: distract from this piece of shit with an even bigger piece over there. Repeat as needed. The complicity and silence in Trumpism of large parts of the rich and elites as well as his continued support from about 30% of Americans provide a blueprint to the damage in our society.

  38. Willy


    Many figures to play with here.

    FYI, choosing only Mexico the last three years during a drug war crisis, is cherry picking. IMO, if we had a similar crisis here I might have different opinions along self-defense lines, but not about things like random schoolyard shootings or accidental firearm deaths.

    Would I be cherry picking if I asked you to explain the stark firearm differences between Israel and the USA?

    If you believe that Wikipedia or are unreliable, please provide a better source of data.

  39. S Brennan


    You didn’t attempt/try to answer my question which is at odds with your attempt to claim an unchallenged statistical case, so you hardly deserve an answer to attempt to obfuscate, however, here’s a chart that shows you are just pulling poop out of your-butt-hole.

    Although I think it ridiculous to compare a mono ethnic/religious country with the most pluralistic in the world, “anyone who has ever been to Israel knows that this estimate is ridiculously low. Indeed, about 12 to 15 percent of the adult Jewish population in Israel is allowed to carry weapons in public…private ownership numbers do not reflect government owned guns in private homes..the vast majority of weapons in private homes are government owned”

  40. Willy

    Sigh. One can never be vague around here. I’d said “These Lives kids” implying what would commonly be known as their specific issue of the easy availability of military firearms for all, and the impact on school and random mass shootings in what should be the world leader of civil societies.

    And now we’re heading down a “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies” rabbit hole, complete with direct quotes. So be it.

    In 2017 the homicide rate in Mexico spiked to 24 per 100,000, more than double that of previous years after it had been declining. In 2016 Canada had 1.68 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, while the United States had 6.8 per 100,000.

    At the worse end of the crimeresearch chart we see: Honduras, El Salvador, Jamaica, Venezuela, Guatemala, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, South Africa, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico… several Caribbean islands.

    At the better end we see: Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Norway, France, Hungary, Poland, Israel, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, India… and Bermuda.

    What’s the difference? Why is it so dramatically different? Is there anything in that book which clearly illustrates where and why gun violence of that kind happens? Or is that book just one big cherry pick?

    Why the enormous (overall) statistical differences between Canada and Mexico? The most reason plausible I found was that the homicide rate in Mexico had been escalating, the government stepped in temporarily reducing it, and had recently given up allowing the rate increase to resume itself.

    As far as Israel goes, you merely proved my point. The laws there are very tough and those gun-carry Israelis have passed numerous strict tests to be able to do so. Wasn’t that the Lives kids point?

  41. S Brennan

    Much writing, little content, ever more obfuscation. Sigh. Mexico’s homicide rate has never been low. For the readers who have been bamboozled by Willy’s sleight of hand. Willey claimed to have a statistically open and shut case…

    I said look next door to Mexico, it has exceedingly tough gun laws, arguably the harshest in the hemisphere and it has the 3 times the gun homicide rate of the US…and because of massive immigration, it is far more like the USA than Canada.

  42. Willy

    There is no attempt at obfuscation. I don’t know the answer, and I don’t need to be right. Just looking for truth.

    What’s your point? What do you even stand for? Mine was hoping that Lives kid provides hope and momentum against a corrupt PTB. I don’t believe that violent revolution is the only way.

  43. realitychecker

    Apparently, one is no longer allowed to comment on how ubiquitous obfuscation has become as a tool in public political dialogue.

    The moderation pendulum has swung too far, IMO.

  44. Willy

    Ubiquitous obfuscation is now the American Way.

    Gun laws, like all laws, have two parts. There’s the mandate part. And then there’s the enforcement part. I don’t think Mexico has a very effective enforcement part.

    Analogy. I was once fired from a place for having been rumored to have broken one of the unwritten ‘laws’. Management themselves routinely broke the written laws, but if somebody else did so they were judged on a case by case basis. Myself, I never broke any law, written or not, as far as I know. But one nasty rumor was enough for those guys. Too risky, when I didn’t have a management sponsor. I think law enforcement in Mexico is a lot like that.

    This place editorializes (authors?) that the USA is far from the worst for mass shootings:

    Yet these guys say the opposite:

    Here, a criminologist breaks it down:

    Sadly, right here at this fine website I have been told by commenters that places like Politifact, and that most “scientists”, are not to be trusted. When I asked the obvious question: “So who shall we trust now?” I received no answer.

    In my experience, this is exactly how the PTB wants it. I would think that this factor would need to be figured into any detailed analysis of gun violence in Mexico. And since nobody is to be trusted anymore, that would likely require much personal on-site time and investigation. And I don’t even speak Spanish.

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