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

Why Did The New Yorker Want Steve Bannon to Headline Their Festival?

Steve Bannon

So, Bannon was due to headline a New Yorker festival. People became upset and now he isn’t.

Why was he invited in the first place?

I’m not one of those who’ll argue that Bannon isn’t smart. He is–very much so. But there are plenty of very smart, and indeed smarter, people on the left. Chomsky has never headlined for the New Yorker, and he’s a straight-up genius.

Bannon was invited because what the alt-right/fascists want is something centrists can live with. Fascists are big believers in corporations. Under the Nazis, executive wages soared. They crushed unions and depressed wages. They managed unemployment by choosing entire classes of people to make non-people, and the rest of the population mostly got a job.

All of this is stuff that centrists can live with. Elevated executive compensation, pro-corporate policies, keeping unions, and the left down.

Remember, always, that Jews weren’t killed first. Socialists and anarchists were.

So the bottom line is that centrists are okay with fascists because fascists are pro-corporate and executive wealth.

(Oh, Bannon says the right things about the working class, but then Trump gives a huge tax cut to rich people and corporations.)

On the other hand, the left-wing is hostile to large corporations and high executive compensation. At the least, the left would highly regulate corporations and break many of them up, while slapping on 90 percent marginal tax rates and punitive estate taxes.

At the most, some left-wingers would nationalize corporations wholesale and redistribute wealth, or they might force employee ownership of corporations or some version of that.

All actual left-wingers would end the obscene system of over-payment in corporate America.

Left-wingers are an existential threat to centrists because centrists are, substantially, supporters of the status quo. The state of the US and the world is (or was before Trump) essentially good to them. The parts of the status quo that right-wingers want to overthrow don’t hurt centrists. The parts of the status quo that left-wingers want to overthrow do.

So Bannon is okay with them. They don’t really believe he means his class war rhetoric (Hitler didn’t). They are sure that they’ll still be okay under him.

They might not be right. But that’s their bet.

It’s a bet that has been made over and over again since WWII. US elites have always been willing to support right-wingers over left-wingers. You see it in almost every Latin American country. You saw it in Greece, in Iran, and so on, and you’ve seen it domestically–repeatedly.

The center prefers the center. But they’ll always choose the right over the left on anything that even slightly smells of economics, because they want to retain their wealth and the right will allow that and the left won’t.

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  1. Hugh

    David Remnick, the New Yorker’s editor, said he was going to ask Bannon “tough” questions. I agree overall with Ian’s assessment. I think it was also mutually exploitative. Controversy sells. Remnick didn’t care about the legitimacy he was conferring on Bannon. All he cared about was clicks and the bottomline. As for Bannon, much like his master Trump, attention is oxygen. All attention is good. Remnick can go f*ck himself with his tough questions. Bannon would use the opportunity to merchandise himself, continue his comeback, and Remnick would be facilitating all that.

    There is a whole class of celebrity parasites: Trump, Bannon, the Kardashians that would kill to get in front of a mike or camera and that would dry up and blow away if this attention was denied them.

  2. The only thing in the middle of the road are dead skunks and white lines.

    I posted recently As the poem goes First they came for the Socialists. Seem to have forgotten that line.

  3. Tom

    Ah Bannon, the guy who brought the whole charade out into the open and threw gasoline over the US Government for a few weeks before Trump was forced to boot him by the Deep State.

    Well its interesting to note that Eisenhower believed in a 90% tax rate on the rich and the US had it during his time in office. If not for Reagan and the Red Scare, we might even have had passed Universal Healthcare and still could have if Johnston hadn’t stupidly jumped into Vietnam and blew all his political capital.

  4. Hugh

    Bannon was booted because he was caught being candidly critical of Trump.

    He floated but did not push what would have been an increase of about 5% in the then top income tax rate to 44% but only on those earning more than $5 million a year.

  5. Peter

    This is another brilliant move by the liberal/socialists and their Holleyweird mob and The Whole World Is Watching! They can’t tolerate anyone like Bannon challenging their regressive agenda Showing their true colors again will probably do more for the conservative cause than the actual Bannon interview could have done.

  6. someofparts

    I just finished an eye-opening history that brought several things into sharp focus.

    The problem is the way that people with power do things in this country. Some of the programs they enact are worthwhile on the face of it – integration, immigration, trade treaties. But they give all of these worthwhile efforts a bad name by imposing them on everyone else with no concern for the shattering dislocations they bring to those who are not snug in some cocoon of privilege.

    The way forward is to make the changes we need with everyone at the table. Make progress on integration and immigration in a way that does not upend entire households and communities. Make trade treaties that include protections for labor and the environment.

    All flavors of domestic popular resistance are pushback against oligarchs who impose their plans on the rest of us by hook and crook instead of honest popular representation.

  7. bruce wilder

    Bannon must have seemed like a safely provocative choice to Remnick precisely because of the ineffectual pseudo-left protest he provoked. The protest is against Bannon’s racist nationalism, which is identified as “the problem” fitting right into the gaslight narratives that dismiss Bannon’s acknowledgment of the on-going legitimacy crisis. And, Remnick can reinforce his own reputation for centrist seriousness and the politics by anthropological fieldwork which is the New Yorker’s stock-in-trade.

    The tristero @ Hullabaloo furnishes the relevant text for interpretation:

    In the wake of a world-wide resurgence of right wing extremism including neo-Nazism, xenophobia, and racism, Remnick wants to give one of the most unscrupulous and unsavory architects of this madness even more free fucking publicity?

    How about Elizabeth Warren? Ocasio-Cortez? Andrew Gillum? Bernie Sanders? Rachel Maddow? Or anyone else prominently involved in the effort to resist and help this world get back on its feet after the catastrophic damage Bannon has wreaked on us?

    The centrist pseudo-left, as typified by tristero above, cannot and will not admit the failures of (neoliberal) governance accumulating around us. In his fevered imagination, Rachel Maddow is not a foppish, self-involved multi-millionaire competing for eyeballs with Sean Hannity using the same playbook as Fox, she’s a leader of the Resistance. One, who, as some wag pointed out a few weeks ago, has gone a year without ever saying, “Yemen” on her daily “news” program.

    I don’t know that the centrists fear leftish economic proposals per se, but they really do fear any acknowledgement of reality where that acknowledgement includes telling the truth about the multiple failures of governance: multiplying perpetual wars or declining life expectancy. Or by extension, the reckless irresponsibility of the Hillary Clintons and Barack Obamas.

  8. Willy

    Most recent candidates sing to the wings, then after elected move to the center. But now it’s obvious that this kind of “center” is just a cover for those wishing to suck on the teat of oligarchy.

    I wish fascism was more easily understood for what it really is – the end game of economic libertarianism. Without regulation wealth concentrates upwards, becomes powerful, then takes over ‘representative’ government to make the ground fertile for itself at the expense of everything else.

    But under the guise of “centrism” this process can mask itself.

  9. bruce wilder

    In a functioning representative democracy, the center is a place no one belongs, but everyone ends up, because policy is the outcome of negotiation among competing and often opposed interests: the center is where your side settles for half-a-loaf because your side has agreed with the other side to slice the loaf in half.

    In our terminally corrupt oligarchy, the center is a place of myth, a source of narrative misdirection. Because the interests of the working and merely middle classes are not represented by any political force — there is no effective left, left — there is no need for a place to meet and negotiate. Political conflict, we are instructed by our centrists, is something best rejected and avoided, the complaints and demands of the “other” side are racism or madness; what we want is “normal” and “normal” is practical problem-solving or some other boring technocratic approach to make things more complicated and incomprehensible.

  10. XFR

    The problem is the way that people with power do things in this country. Some of the programs they enact are worthwhile on the face of it – integration, immigration, trade treaties.

    I’d strike the treaties off of that list, lately they’re more and more about privileging the investor class and have less and less to do with trade per say. (The last time I checked the TPP was actually projected to reduce trade.) And even if that were not the case the “globalization trilemma” would still make them rather frought.

    But they give all of these worthwhile efforts a bad But they give all of these worthwhile efforts a bad name by imposing them on everyone else with no concern for the shattering dislocations they bring to those who are not snug in some cocoon of privilege.

    I think a very big part of the problem is the breezily lawless attitude of the highest U.S. ruling circles, which over time results in an ever-growing accumulation of embittered and enraged people. (It’s no accident that “bankster” is an American coinage.) I think American pseudo-liberalism’s persistent (indeed sometimes thoroughly fanatical) refusal to acknowledge this is its most glaring failing.

    (And it’s worth noting that the current “crackdown” on migrant workers is targeting the migrants themselves, a bit like trying to bail out a boat with a sieve, when prosecuting their employers is a vastly more tractable strategy–the bosses are far fewer in number, are generally wealthy and thus much more vulnerable to a damaged legal standing and reputation than destitute migrants would be, and are mostly citizens of the country and unlikely to simply be replaced by others coming in from elsewhere–and eliminating the employers would eliminate the migrants’ reason for coming in the first place.)

    Canadians are no less capable than Americans of xenophobic hysteria–the mass panics over Chinese stowaways and Gypsies in the late ’90s put paid to that. (In the former case the public infamously showed far more concern for the welfare of the ship’s dog than for the migrants themselves–a local editorial cartoon strip had a sequence in which a Chinese migrant disguised himself as a dog in the hopes of winning the sympathy of the masses.)

    Canada managed to sustain substantial shifts in its demography without serious unrest, partly because of the different history and attitudes of its people (Canadian immigration historically came in brief but titanic deluges, which is quite different than the slow but steady trickle heretofore characteristic of American immigration), but also because its leaders always worked inside the lines and refrained from the use unlawful or underhanded tactics in the process, so while many may have been unhappy with the changes they did not feel that they had incurred a slight against their honour as a result of them. When they concern existential changes in the course of a society’s development, such slights may be regarded by some as being quite grave.

    America’s current leadership, obsessed with own their cleverness in railroading, manipulating, deceiving and otherwise “handling” the publics at home and abroad, seem to have created an entire society based on such elite lawlessness and dishonesty. It seems to me that that doesn’t bode well for the future.

  11. Willy

    what we want is “normal” and “normal” is practical problem-solving or some other boring technocratic approach to make things more complicated and incomprehensible.

    I’d hope that taking the big money out of politics would eliminate most of the cunning obfuscators at the top. Not too complicated and incomprehensible. Then mocking dogmatics in general, such as the conservative evangelical (the largest group to intentionally distrust so many things scientific) might be next. Of course, the liberal side of tomfoolery would have to be dealt with as well.

    Maybe then historians would be able to do their thing, and human history would be better understood and respected.

  12. XFR

    urgh, “trade per se”.

  13. Billikin

    OT, sorry, but. . . . Why is this site triple spaced? That does make it hard to read.

  14. Peter


    You must have missed the reports of ICE doubling the number of arrests of employers for I-9 violations and the over 3000 pending audits of other employers of illegal aliens. This could be one reason the democrat party is attempting to destroy ICE because they are interfering with the exploitation that draws ilegal aliens to the US.

  15. Hugh

    Bannon is a fascist and a racist. And this is the guy Remnick wanted to give a spotlight too. As Ian says, this is because Remnick is more comfortable with Bannon than he is interviewing or highlighting a progressive and giving a forum to their ideas.

    Bernie Sanders is a pretty mild progressive who advocates things that would benefit, often a lot, the lower 80% of US citizens. But for Establishment types like Remnick, Sanders is the Far Left as is anyone who supports programs that would help most Americans. So between Sanders and a fascist, Remnick would rather go with a fascist, not one of those working class Nazi types, but one who went to Georgetown and Harvard and worked at Goldman Sachs.

    Got to laugh about I-9 audits. An I-9 is an audit not an arrest. And 2 X some miniscule number of arrests is still miniscule.

    There are around 156 million employed in the US. Something over 18% of them are foreign born or 28 million. If a third to a half are illegal, that’s 9 to 14 million. So ICE getting a few judgments, and those are civil penalties, no CEOs going to jail, are drops in the ocean. There are whole industries: restauranting, hotelery, meatpacking, farming, and construction whose employers ICE could go after. *crickets*

  16. Peter


    Another uninformed comment, the Seattle Times reported that ICE made 594 criminal employer arrests between October ’17 and May ’18 along with filing 610 civil cases against employers of illegal aliens. The plan now is to increase audits to 15,000 annually to foster a culture of compliance with immigrant hiring laws.

  17. bruce wilder

    Taking the “big money” “out of politics” is its own category of do-gooderism — a favorite trope of pretend centrism. If only politics were pure and there was less bickering!

    It doesn’t work that way.

  18. Herman

    One of the dirty secrets of the center and center-left is that they probably like having the alt-right and nationalist types as enemies because they largely speak the same language when it comes to politics. Everything comes down to culture and identity for both sides so they have a kind of weird kinship even though they are supposedly archenemies. That is why the New Yorker would prefer Bannon over say Bernie Sanders. The center and center-left are more comfortable with Bannon than an old-school liberal like Bernie Sanders who mostly talks about economics. This is another reason why identity politics is so toxic. It helps to fuel and empower some of the worst elements on the right along with the neoliberal elements on the supposed left.

  19. Webstir

    To better understand the world I often find it useful to step outside traditional political analysis of motives, and instead analyze motives from a strictly psychological stance.

    I was told during the course my psych studies that the human brain is really nothing more than a glorified simplification machine. We are by nature, laziness maximizers. Politically speaking, then, Ian is on the right track in implying that the centrist really just wants to be left alone to do what the average american has now been programmed to do. Sit around and watch television while consuming things. To much political agitation either way will get you scolded at the polls.

    The fringe left and and right are simply individuals seeking to prey upon the central narrative to their own advantage. Usually money. Sometimes, such as in Ian’s case, it’s truly in the interest of humanity.

    That’s my cynical take, anyway.

  20. XFR

    Peter: I think my remark is accurate as far as the present state of affairs is concerned, but the proposed ramp-up in audits does sound like it would be in the ballpark of an actual attempt to quash the use of migrant workers–provided those audits were to result in actual criminal prosecutions of employers rather than “cost of doing business” slaps on the wrist.

  21. Willy

    Taking the “big money” “out of politics” is its own category of do-gooderism — a favorite trope of pretend centrism. If only politics were pure and there was less bickering!

    Taking the “recklessness” “out of driving” is its own category of do-gooderism — a favorite trope of pretend centrism. If only drivers were pure and there was less road rage!

    What’s the point of Rule of Law if it doesn’t work that way?

    I may not be getting you. My view is that centrism is just another political category which can be corrupted, and that modern “pretend centrists” hide behind the common knowledge that the best overall fit for complexity often falls in the moderate zone.

  22. Willy

    That’s my cynical take, anyway.

    I dunno. I’ve seen reasonably well-functioning groups turn dysfunctional with the introduction of a single cleverly corrupt individual. Unfortunately, none of those cleverly corrupt ever went around with a black cape and the stereotypical sinister snicker, preferring instead to camouflage themselves the way successful game hunters do. Maybe they took advantage of the ‘principle of laziness maximizing’. They sure did know how to play naive normals like puppets. Unfortunately, those who operate “truly in the interest of humanity” were the first to be taken out (marginalized, gaslit, discredited, whatever…).

  23. Peter


    Using the term Migrant Worker is confusing the people we are talking about with workers who follow the harvest and do farm work. I’m sure ICE is also investigating farm employers because some of them also hire illegal aliens. Businesses who hire only legal resident or contract alien labor are not targeted only those found to be hiring illegal aliens. The employers who are arrested are usually involved in tax evasion schemes while those charged with civil violations may have only made mistakes or failed to properly verify employee ID documents. If employers ignore their mistakes and the cost of civil penalties and continue breaking the rules they would probably then face criminal charges.

  24. different clue

    I wonder if the New Yorkerists hoped to begin a process of “killing Bannon with kindness” in order to wean him over to the sort of race-neutral eth-neutral Bigg Bizz-Bigg Munny fascism that the New Yorker, the Clintonites, the Obamacrats, the Pelosians and etc. prefer and are working to create here.

  25. bruce wilder

    Re: Webstir’s “cynical take”

    Is the archetypal “centrist” a common couch potato? Or, a millionaire pundit like the New York Time’s Tom Friedman or the late David Broder of the Washington Post?

    One of the simplifications to which the human mind is prone is apparently to confound leaders with followers in politics, thus failing to recognize that the attitudes, beliefs, philosophies, experience, expertise and world views — not to mention personal and class interests — of the former vary significantly and systematically from the latter, even within the same category of political identity. The preacher and the congregation are not identical in their political sophistication or druthers even if they share their church, and we are wrong to confuse and confound them.

    It seems to me that most ordinary people do not know much or care much about politics. You can fault them for disinterest, but if they feel confused and even repelled by the cacophony of politics, that response reflects their understandable disinterest. Ordinary people may also be suspicious and distrustful of politicians without knowing much; such uninformed suspicions may manifest as distaste without much discernment.

    Political pundits and operatives, on the other, take a professional interest in politics. Their opinions are carefully constructed and the expression of those opinions may be calculated and manipulative. Among them are the cleverly corrupt individuals (and organizations) to whom Willy refers.

  26. Hugh

    In the Asplundh tree trimming case, the largest to date, the company ended up paying $95 million in penalties. Illegals was there business model. No executive went to jail. The only people arrested were migrants scooped up in raids.

  27. Peter


    You failed to mention that three managers, including a vice president, pled guilty to felony charges for their part in this business model. The company has reformed their hiring practices to eliminate the hiring of illegal aliens and no legal ‘migrants’ were scooped up.

  28. Webstir

    “Maybe they took advantage of the ‘principle of laziness maximizing’.”
    The people in black capes roost out in the open in places like Madison Avenue and are paid well to understand social psychology. They understand how to play on our natural penchant to apply heuristics rather than logic in our daily lives. They are paid another species of blood sucking parasite, the maximizing corporation, to sell you things you don’t need so you feel better about yourself. If you rock the boat to far from center politically, they will try to make you pay for making them deviate from the business of profit maximization.

    The center are the people who don’t understand this, but they are of two kinds: generally authoritarian leaning useful idiots who follow the right leaning corporate narrative because deference to authority is an easily exploited laziness maximizing heuristic. Or, generally individual rights leaning useful idiots who follow the left leaning corporate narrative because blind support for the underdog (knee-jerk liberalism) is an easily exploited laziness maximizing heuristic.

    In both respects, Hugh touches on how they have been trained by the corporate media to be easily distracted, stating in the first comment to this thread:

    “There is a whole class of celebrity parasites: Trump, Bannon, the Kardashians that would kill to get in front of a mike or camera and that would dry up and blow away if this attention was denied them.”

    But the attention isn’t denied, is it? Why? Because the center isn’t paying attention, and their attention has been captured.

  29. XFR

    Using the term Migrant Worker is confusing the people we are talking about with workers who follow the harvest and do farm work.

    That’s a fair cop. I think I’m still trying to get my mind around the idea that anyone could regard such things as even remotely progressive–when I was younger the use of migrant labour of any sort was mostly considered the purview of skeezy right-wing despotisms and not something an enlightened liberal democracy would ever want to get mixed up in.

    In any case it looks like the labour market in the U.S. may really be tightening up to a degree that some companies are fretting about needing to gasp increase wages so perhaps it’s not all smoke and mirrors in this instance irrespective of the lack of employer prosecutions.

    (I’d like to add that I don’t really consider Trump part of the U.S. leadership in the sense I was using, rather he seems to me to be the start of the chickens coming home to roost.)

  30. XFR

    Argh, “the use of foreign migrant labour of any sort”. Obviously domestic migrant labour was reasonably commonplace.

  31. Peter


    Much of our agriculture cannot function without seasonal migrant workers, citizen and leagal alien. I don’t understand how anyone could view eliminating migrant worker’s jobs for political reasons as progressive. The United Farm Workers movement did improve their pay and working conditions which was progress.

  32. Hugh

    If US companies need workers, they can train them and offer wages to keep them. What they usually do is send jobs to Mexico and China where they can train workers, pay them shit, and treat them like shit. Or import workers, either legal H-1Bs or illegals, and pay them shit wages and treat them as badly as they can. Either way, this gives the companies leverage to pay and treat their US workers badly.

    I tend to be skeptical when I hear that unemployment is low or that the job market is tightening. First, the unemployment rate does not measure unemployment. It measures those currently looking for work. Second, real (inflation-adjusted) wages remain static. Third, I would add that warehouse Amazon-type jobs are shit jobs. You get the Orwellian ethos of Amazon when it can’t even call its workers workers. No, they’re associates. And their warehouses aren’t warehouses. They’re fulfillment centers.

  33. Yo, X, don’t feed the troll.

  34. “sort of race-neutral eth-neutral Bigg Bizz-Bigg Munny fascism ”


  35. someofparts

    “I think a very big part of the problem is the breezily lawless attitude of the highest U.S. ruling circles, which over time results in an ever-growing accumulation of embittered and enraged people. (It’s no accident that “bankster” is an American coinage.) I think American pseudo-liberalism’s persistent (indeed sometimes thoroughly fanatical) refusal to acknowledge this is its most glaring failing.”

    Historically the wealth of leadership in the U.S. was based on legally-mandated slavery, followed by legally mandated apartheid. Our current crop of nouveau mini-capitalists admire those traditions and wish to turn us into a neo-banana republic in honor of that ignoble old-money legacy.

    As our various bad-faith chickens come home to roost down here, I really do think the mostly-civilized folks in Canada need to think about a border wall to keep us out. It would also be amusing to recruit those who enforce that border from among your French Canadian citizens. I gather that their opinion of English-speakers in general is fairly low, so why not harness that robust energy and use it to keep Americans out with gusto.

  36. steeleweed

    Yes, the Left was the first/biggest enemy.
    Steven Vincent Benet wrote “Ode to the Austrian Socialists” in 1934.
    Kristallnacht occurred in 1938.

    The Center also contains the mandarins who keep the wheels on the status quo, in exchange for their SUVs and suburban lifestyle.

    I started out left-of-center and the older I get, the further left I drift.
    I’ll be 81 tomorrow and I’ve had about all I can tolerate of this crap. Time to bring out the pitchforks and start building the barricades.

  37. XFR

    I tend to be skeptical when I hear that unemployment is low or that the job market is tightening. First, the unemployment rate does not measure unemployment. It measures those currently looking for work. Second, real (inflation-adjusted) wages remain static. Third, I would add that warehouse Amazon-type jobs are shit jobs. You get the Orwellian ethos of Amazon when it can’t even call its workers workers. No, they’re associates.

    Yeah, I’m not sure just what possessed me to cite the WSJ up there. Perhaps I should look into an exorcist.

    And their warehouses aren’t warehouses. They’re fulfillment centers.

    Oy vey. The Ministry of Love would be proud.

  38. XFR

    It would also be amusing to recruit those who enforce that border from among your French Canadian citizens. I gather that their opinion of English-speakers in general is fairly low, so why not harness that robust energy and use it to keep Americans out with gusto.

    It’s actually quite commonly held in Quebec that its culture and way of life would be better protected as a state of the U.S. than as a Canadian province.

    It’s absurd but it’s very useful conceit from a bargaining standpoint.

  39. Hugh

    OT Re the most recent jobs report, in August, most job creation occurs because of the beginning of the school year. In the private sector, typically few jobs are created. (Everybody who is going to be hired this summer has been.) So the Total Nonfarm not seasonally adjusted increase in jobs in August was 334,000 versus 315,000 last year and 380,000 in my benchmark year 2014 (a solid but not spectacular year for job growth), while in the private sector just 99,000 were created versus 89,000 last year and 176,000 in 2014.

    Looking at just the private sector seasonally unadjusted, January to August 2.057 million net jobs have been created versus 1.897 million last year and 2.218 million in 2014.

    (Net means January-August growth minus the previous December-January drop off)

    In terms of wages for production and nonsupervisory personnel, the lower 82.48% of workers, average weekly wages declined $6.56, and average hourly wages declined 6 cents.

  40. Peter


    These macroeconomic stats are useful to Wonks for debate but for most people all economics is local. I live in a small town of 13,000 people in a poor state even though we have the premier national labs, Intel, the Atomic Alley and part of the Permain oil patch all high skill/high pay enterprises. I’ve watched business after business here close their doors due to the Great Recession and weak recovery. My local and state governments used the powerful incentives of lower taxes and lower cost financing to win the comperition for the location of a new Facebook campus. This is a multi-billion dollar seven year construction project creating about 3000 high skill/high wage union jobs that will inject at least millions of dollars into the local economy. My union electrician neighbor has been told to expect 58hr workweeks for the next five years and they have just approved a new contract for a $4.50 pay raise over the next three years. States such as the Peoples Republic of California where businesses and people are fleeing regressive economic policies are welcomed as refugees who will help increase prosperity here and many other states with actual progressive economic policies.

  41. Hugh

    I try to emphasize that the official stats like unemployment don’t measure what they purport to measure or because they are seasonally adjusted don’t measure what is actually happening in the economy at any given time.

    As the 2008 financial meltdown so vividly illustrated and whose effects are still felt by those in the lower 80% economics isn’t just local. You might have a great deck chair location (local benefit) but if the ship you are on is named the Titanic (your macro environment) you are still going to be screwed.

    I have lots of problems with race to the bottom, beggar thy neighbor incentives for wealthy companies like Facebook. A company like Facebook doesn’t need the incentives. It could locate anywhere and still be fantastically profitable. Sure, the particular place it chose would benefit (local benefit). But what gets ignored is that those unneeded incentives end up in the hands of investors who are overwhelmingly the rich. So the net effect is a wealth transfer upwards (macro effect).

    Not that you were making this point, but I find it wildly contradictory that people like Bezos, Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, etc. are lionized as being these super businessmen when so much of their fortunes and businesses have been based on some combination of dodging taxes, sucking up tax incentives, ignoring laws and regulations, establishing predatory monopolies, shipping what jobs they could overseas, using H-1B visas to import cheap labor, and treating both their employees and their customers like commodities.

  42. Ché Pasa

    Re: Peter’s paean to Facebook’s rescue of New Mexico

    The problem of course is that New Mexico continues to have among the weakest economy of any in the US — despite all those supposed incentives delivered to the private sector by one government after another over the years since the onset of the Interminable Recession and before.

    The ricos of course are doing just fine as they almost always do.

    The recession battered the fragile middle class through the major cutbacks in federal funding that supports The Labs, education, health care, infrastructure and so forth. Stimulus funding partially offset the loss of other funding, but it was very temporary and there has never been a recovery to speak of. Facebook’s server farm won’t revive a New Mexico economy that has historically been so dependent on government spending. The way things have been going, Facebook might become a government owned utility in any case…

    As to the subject of Ian’s post, seems to me that Remnick saw Bannon as a kind of cute provocation, essentially harmless, little recognizing how deeply disturbing that kind of provocation would be to the other participants in his little ideas festival. I’m sure it didn’t occur to him not to invite a poison-injector to what was no doubt supposed to be a high minded salon. The point has always been to normalize the emerging rightist white nationalism as it has already been normalized in Russia and much of the rest of the Former Soviet Union and its satellites –something which Remnick thoroughly understands and may well be sympathetic with.

    In other words, Bannon is not all that far off the thought-leader reservation. But Remnick found out now is not the best time to highlight it.

  43. “January to August 2.057 million net jobs have been created”

    And by how much did the work force increase?

  44. Willy

    It’d be so much easier if capitalism could just self-regulate itself already, more in the direction of integrity. We wouldn’t always have to be worrying about stuff like rent-seeking, wage races to the bottom, and talk of socialist revolution.

  45. Hugh

    This shows how important it is to understand how BLS data are set up. The stats for jobs and work force come from different surveys which cover different populations. Jobs comes from the much larger Establishment (CES) survey. It covers those who work for businesses. It does not cover farm work, “independent” contractors, and those defined as “unemployed”. The much smaller (statistically less reliable) household survey (CPS) is self-reporting. It does cover these groups. In particular, the work force is defined as those employed and those defined as unemployed.

    Things to keep in mind are that “unemployed” does not mean “without a job”. It does not even mean “without a job but want one.” Instead it means “without a job but have looked for one in the 4 weeks before the week in which the survey is taken which is usually the week containing the 12th.”

    I would note that neither survey covers those in the uniformed services or prisoner labor. Also although not a major category today, the CPS continues to classify some unpaid family labor as a job. Finally, employed and job apply equally whether you work one hour a week or 60, regardless of how well or how poorly paid, nor how socially useful or destructive.

  46. Tom

    Wow, if this doesn’t get Europe to wake up and start banning the Dollar in transactions and levying punitive sanctions on the US and its Companies, nothing will and it will openly be a world of might makes right and it will be clear to Europeans that they are puppets of the US.

    I say this as a US citizen who recognizes that this country has fallen irreversibly into tyranny and collapse.

  47. Peter


    My paean wasn’t to Facebook but to the local and state governments for bringing high quality business expansion to my small town and the whole state. The people of NM had to first reject the corrupt long ruling democrat party and its statist policies. The NM economy is growing again and this about 1% increase in employment won’t save the state but it certainly helps the economy to diversify and grow. NM is overdependent on oil and gas production, tourism and Fedspending so any new business especially a high wage one that feeds the local economy and doesn’t compete with it is welcome. I’m not a booster for Facebook, who I’ve never used, but I won’t condemn them for bringing prosperity to NM. The collectivists may dream of becoming fat parasites feeding on these sharks but we now have effective insectides and pest control leadership needed to exterminate the infestation.

  48. Willy

    On second thought, maybe Hugh’s first comment said it best. Narcissism shouldn’t be the primary qualification for allowing one to discuss the worlds socioeconomic ills on a public stage. That sort of thing was pretty much what got us all into this mess in the first place, wasn’t it?

  49. Peter


    It’s strange how you used a Chinese news report about the ICC to attack US tyranny. China, Russia and the US all refused to sign the globalist NWO Rome Statute that has been used mostly as a tool of European neocolonialism in Africa. The Left/deep-state alliance desires the tyranny of the NWO for their agendas but Trump and other nationalists leaders are leading the counteroffensive against these degenerate forces.

  50. different clue

    @Notorious P.A.T.

    ” Huh? ”

    Remnick supports and works to achieve a sort of kinder-and-gentler Mussolinian Corporate Fascism open to talented Oligarch-wannabes of all races and genders, Oligarchs and Oligarch-servants like Clinton and Obama, for instance.

    Perhaps he hopes to win Bannon over to the Oligarchs of All Races and Genders model, a sort of Rainbow Oligarchy.

  51. Webstir


    I hope what you’re talking about has all been happening in the last year, because the numbers don’t seem to support your narrative:

  52. Hugh

    Webstir, not sure what you are referencing. Your link refers to a 46 year and a ten year time period in 11 Western states. Personal income doesn’t mean anything unless we know things like the split between the lower 80% and the top 20%. The jobs data stops with 2016 and ignores something rather crucial like the 2007 recession and 2008 meltdown.

  53. someofparts

    different clue – “Rainbow Oligarchy”

    perfect, that just nails it

  54. Hugh

    BTW the US Census will be releasing its Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017 report today at 10 AM. Also Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2017.

  55. Webstir

    Do a little digging on the site, Hugh. You have to drill into the page a bit. You’re a bright guy, you’ll figure out how to do it.
    New Mexico’s numbers are all the for every job sector between 2007-16.
    Like Idaho, where I hail from, there has been a massive contraction in the jobs you are talking about, and an expansion of minimum wage style service jobs — which is par for the course in the large majority of the “right to work” anti-union states.
    The fact that educational talent flees Idaho as if it had the plague doesn’t help.

  56. S Brennan



    Has the MOA website been taken down?

    I’m getting:

    “503 Service Unavailable
    No server is available to handle this request.”

    The timing with what is going on in Syria seems suspicious?

  57. kevin

    to S Brennan,
    if it’s moon of alabama you’re referring to, i’m still getting it fine (i’m in canada, if that makes a difference)

  58. S Brennan

    It’s back up, thanks.

  59. different clue


    Thank you for the kind words. If you or anyone else wishes to use the phrase ” rainbow oligarchy”,
    feel free to do so. I hereby CopyLeft/ UnCopyright/ Give Away the phrase ” rainbow oligarchy”.

  60. Willy

    Rainbow oligarchy*
    (* except for the more blatantly Muslim and Mexican, maybe a few darkies who’d take a knee.)

    It’s always somebody gotta have a quibble.

  61. someofparts

    different clue: Thanks for the permission. I will be using the phrase every chance I get.

  62. someofparts

    You know, I deplore Bannon’s version of being conservative just as I deplore the Clinton version of being liberal. Some way, somehow, it seems it would be a good thing if our definitions of these distinctions were better.

    The reason I say that is because of this –

    Yes, that’s right, I have to go to a conservative website to find someone with the sense and decency to say we need to stop helping the Saudis commit horrors in Yemen.

    Meanwhile, there is this-

    I have to go to a socialist website to find people who are calling out the MeToo campaigns for the reactionary, destructive abuse being perpetrated under that false banner.

    I think there is a real argument to be made that our left wing/right wing categories are so garbled as to be meaningless. The problem seems to be that the people who are in charge of our public discourse are not qualified to figure out the real distinctions.

    I mean, seriously, if you want to invite someone conservative to participate in your event, there are decent people available. Picking Bannon to represent conservatives would be like picking Mario Cuomo to represent liberals.

    My dog could do better than that, which makes the cluelessness of our national press leadership frightening I guess.

  63. Webstir

    It got a chuckle from me as well.
    But, caution. I can see it being used to prove american exceptionalism by the Hullaballoo types.

  64. Webstir

    Thread warmer:

    Andrew Bacevich nailed it yesterday on Lobelog:

  65. someofparts

    Webstir – That Bacevich absolutely got the perspective right where it belongs.

    Wish there were some way to sidestep the horrors we are headed for, but that’s how our overlords roll.

  66. Hugh

    I both agree and disagree with Bacevich. Trump is a member of the Establishment club, albeit a very erratic and badly behaving one. But we need to keep in mind this is also the club to which Bacevich belongs, and to which most here do not. The disastrous trajectory which our country has been on since the late Sixties or late Seventies (depending on when you want to start the clock) is one defined by Bacevich’s class, comprised of the rich and elites. That trajectory represents a fundamental and ongoing betrayal of our class by his. So color me just a little bit irked that Bacevich lays the responsibility for that betrayal off on the rest of us. Or as he says it, that it is the “collective responsibility of the people themselves” to set things right, a responsibility he accuses us of shirking. This is like a bank robber absolving his own conduct by blaming society for not doing enough to keep him from constantly robbing banks. Obviously, we need to do more, but the fault does not lay with us. It stays with the bank robber. Just so, for the last 40 to 50 years, we have been the victims of an unrelenting class war meant to divide, confuse, and turn us against each other. I am not about to apologize that we do not turn on a dime and suddenly unite in collective action after all those decades of Bacevich’s class doing everything in its power precisely to destroy the possibility of such collective action.

    This gets back to what I so often say. Our elites justify their wealth and privileges by arguing they know more and better than the rest of us. But when they drive the country down the drain or off a cliff, suddenly it’s our responsibility. Not buying it.

  67. Ché Pasa

    Bacevich’s recitation of post-war history is wrong enough to be ludicrous. Hugh is right that he studiously avoids the class analysis that is really at the heart of all the hoo-hah, though we could go even deeper into the whole flawed and anachronistic social-political-economic system by which we are and have been governed to discover what’s gone wrong and find solutions to our apparently intractable problems.

    Bacevich like most of his class is a reversionist. Stay the course, everything will turn out just fine for we will revert to our steady state once this aberration is done with. Fear not, this too shall pass. And by the way, if you want something better then it is up to you to do what’s necessary to achieve it, for the High and the Mighty won’t — ever– lift a finger on your behalf. Suckers.

    But what he really wants, and what he ultimately hopes the untermenschen will go along with without too much fuss is an Emperor — just not this one. You know? He’s despicable, and nobody likes him. So he’s ignored — except by the press which dotes on his every desperate plea for attention from the Twitter Machine. Sad.

    The Emperor as Entertainer is only a stop-gap until we get a real one. Pence has auditioned and been found severely wanting, so it’s got to be some one else. No one in Congress comes close. The Geniuses of Enterprise in Silicon Valley and its extensions appear to be somewhere beyond the Moon or on the autism spectrum, unable to fathom the concept of national/international/Imperial responsibility. None of the Generals seem to have the correct gravitas and moxie either, so we’ll just have to wait until the right combination of style and substance emerges.

    It’ll all be fine in the end. Assuming we survive.

  68. Webstir

    He certainly wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. And my take was not that he was laying the blame on the people, but the politicians. And who on here doesn’t agree with the old saw that “we get the politicians we deserve”?

    Did you read the same article I did? He’s basically saying the same thing Ian did back in December of ’16, here:

    Trump isn’t an aberration. Our culture enabled his rise.

  69. XFR

    Perhaps he hopes to win Bannon over to the Oligarchs of All Races and Genders model, a sort of Rainbow Oligarchy.

    That Davos dream, such as it was, (I was none too happy with it but it was still leagues better than anything on offer now) died with the ascendance of the neocons under Bush II.

    The wall-to-wall identity politics we’re seeing in the media now is all sizzle and no substance, a gigantic and ludicrous exercise in straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

    If anything racism seems rather worse than it did in the late ’90s, English Canada’s cultural pluralism–which was a real and valuable thing–is all but dead now save for the hollow pieties still mouthed by our “leaders”, sexism seems about the same, the class divide is far worse now than at any other point in my entire lifetime, which leaves gay rights as the only area of real progress in an otherwise dismal era.

  70. Hugh

    Bacevich, per his wiki, served in the US military from 1969-1992, retiring with the rank of colonel. He got a “Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University before joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998, where he was a director of its Center for International Relations from 1998 to 2005.

  71. Ché Pasa

    Truly, it’s like some readers have no idea who Bacevich is and how he grounds his point of view.

    It’s really not at all like Ian.

  72. someofparts

    Well, the geniuses of Silicon Valley kind of are on the autism spectrum so, yeah, good to put that into focus and give it a public name.

    Also, am I the only one old enough to remember that our self-infatuated overlords also hated, isolated and vilified Jimmy Carter?

    Someone in a comments thread at the NYT linked to this article – It gets into the institutional nuts and bolts of why federal prosecutors have become unable to prosecute major corporate crimes. A clear look at what is broken is also a clear look at what needs to be fixed to get back to wholesome functionality.

  73. Tom

    This details America’s first fight with Climate Deniers, which the Deniers won, resulting in the Dust Bowls of the 30s.

    John Wesley Powell told the truth, was ignored, America paid the price because they could not break away from Capitalism despite it clearly leading to their doom.

    Technology can’t save us, we have to completely reorganize society, but vested interests and elites have to be purged first to do so.

  74. someofparts

    Thomas Frank is part of the oligarchy too, but his work is still useful for understanding what his social peers are up to and how we might push back against their predations. I don’t think that Bacevich’s standing as yet another member of that social class invalidates his analysis. To me, it reads as a useful counterweight to the way hysteria over Trump seems to drown out lucid analysis of our situation.

    In serious feminist communities, there used to be a widely followed rule that women determined the conversations and the men who invariably showed up and presumed to take charge were not tolerated. There are good, solid reasons for that standard, and it cleared the way for astounding, revelatory exchanges among a lot of remarkable women. There are also limits to that approach that can be damaging over the long run.

    That experience is where I get the idea that, long-term, it is unwise to exclude all input from members of the opposition. The lines between friend and foe are fluid and not as cut and dried as it is tempting to imagine they are.

  75. Webstir

    Che Pasa: “It’s really not at all like Ian.”

    No shit.
    I’m pretty sure it’s been me in threads past that has stated time and again to “never trust an Ivy Leaguer.” I get Bacevich.
    What I don’t get is the fact that nobody on this thread (including yourself, obviously) find it remarkable that, almost two years later, someone as mainstream as Bacevich has reasoned to basically the same point Ian did, shortly after Trump was elected.

    Thud …

  76. someofparts

    While the New Yorker flirts with giving Bannon legitimacy, look what Facebook is up to –

    “The Weekly Standard, a right-wing magazine with a long history of pushing false and misleading claims, has been anointed by Facebook as an official fact checker. The designation gives the outlet extraordinary powers to severely limit the distribution of any article on Facebook it deems “false.” ”

    “Now The Weekly Standard is using its power to limit the reach of an article critical of Brett Kavanaugh, published by ThinkProgress, in the days before his confirmation vote.”

  77. Hugh

    Facebook is striving for irrelevancy, and I hope it finds it. Zuckerberg and Sandberg have no problem currying favor with Republicans by bringing onboard some conservative censors, especially if it takes attention away from their predatory selling of their users’ information. They are not clueless Silicon types. They are just more would be masters of the universe. Interesting factoid: Sandberg was Larry Summers’ chief of staff back when Summers was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary helping to deregulate derivatives and repeal Glass-Steagall and thereby setting up the financial world for the 2008 meltdown.

  78. Tom W Harris

    Speaking of Sandberg, here she is hosting a confab/laugh-in on income inequality with three former US Treasury Secretaries.

    A good time was had by all.

  79. Ché Pasa

    This is not the place for a deeper consideration of Basevich and his ilk, but I’d say he’s been persistent and consistent in his perspective and approach. Basically he’s a contrarian establishmentarian, someone who wants a Better Establishment than we’ve got, and who believes sincerely that if he points out what’s wrong (in his estimation), the ship of state will right itself in due time, and even a freak like Trump cannot and won’t blow a hole in the hull and sink it.

    A Good Emperor would be just fine with him if that’s what it takes.

    As for Trump, some of us were on to his con long before he assumed the throne. Most of those of us who were on to him didn’t blame “the culture” for his emergence and rise, but rather saw and see him as an outgrowth of a seriously out of whack and perhaps irreparable political system intertwined with a diseased economic and power elite that at this point have divorced themselves entirely from the so-called “will of the people.”

    Trump is their baby, not “the culture’s.”

  80. someofparts

    Well, even though this comment thread is probably ending, this link is so pertinent to the conversation I wanted to post it anyway.

    Honestly, the best consolation for watching fine public voices of my own generation inevitably die off is spotting terrific emerging young talent like Ms. Johnstone.

    Anyway, that said, I think her revelations about the sly, underhanded shenanigans from ThinkProgress fits right in with the cautions Hugh and Che Pasa were expressing about anyone who is a member of the oligarchy. The Popular Info site I linked to is produced by the founder of ThinkProgress.

    I guess in our world, no matter how cynical one gets, it is never cynical enough.

  81. different clue


    I never would open an account on Facebooger, and I never did. Right from the start I remember reading a theory that since some of its earliest funders had “CIA links and ties” . . . that Facebooger itself was probably a long-range project in tricking people into building dossiers on themselves. And I was right.

    Hopefully a rising tide of current Facebooger users will seek to break out of the Facebooger Information Cage and go find other sources.

    ( I also never used Twitter, or MySpace or any of those things).

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