Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bannon fodder

The critical position of chief of staff — the gatekeeper for the president inside the West Wing — is expected to come down to a choice between Mr. [Stephen] Bannon, the editor of Breitbart News who was chairman of Mr. Trump’s campaign, and Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. (NYTimes)
Oh, what's Mr. Bannon up to, now that the election's over? You could have seen him this weekend, had you been so minded, at The Breakers in Palm Beach where the David Horowitz Freedom Center is holding its 2016 Restoration Weekend, alongside his old Breitbart comrade Milo Yiannopoulos, Governor Mike Huckabee, two congressmen (Jim Bridenstine and Sean Duffy), two National Review stalwarts from our Bad Writing stable (Victor Davis Hanson and Monica Crowley), Gunga Dinesh D'Souza, and Member of the European Parliament (Ukip) Nigel Farage, the Stupidest Man in England, and many other distinguished speakers, for a mere $1,750 ($2,750 a couple, not including the $370 per night special room rate, and more exclusive pricing, from the $5,000 Bronze to the $20,000 Platinum, for opportunities to schmooze a little more closely or golf with the good and great).

Cocktails and Islamophobia, and probably some furtive outdoor trumping in the gardens after dark. It's how the biggest Trump backers relieve their economic anxiety, don't you know.

There is so much money in the world of our new overlords! And the normalizing of alt-right evil, in the persons of Bannon and Yiannopoulos for a start, continues apace. It's almost more shocking to me than the advent of President-Elect Trump that it's accompanied by the creeping out of the shadows of people like Stephen Bannon:
In a sworn court declaration following their divorce, [Bannon's ex-wife Mary Louise] Piccard said her ex-husband had objected to sending their twin daughters to an elite Los Angeles academy because he "didn't want the girls going to school with Jews."
"He said he doesn't like Jews and that he doesn't like the way they raise their kids to be 'whiney brats,'" Piccard said in a 2007 court filing.
Well, you know how ex-wives are. Or at least Donald Trump does.

But then there's Kurt Bardella, who quit as the Breitbart press spokesman after the company seemed to be turning on its own reporter, Michelle Fields, in favor of Trump's then campaign manager and woman-beater Corey Lewandowski, who later debriefed himself on the working atmosphere:
“If anyone sat there and listened to that call, you’d think that you were attending a white supremacist rally,” said Bardella, citing what he called Bannon’s “nationalism and hatred for immigrants, people coming into this country to try to get a better life for themselves.”
“This is someone who has a very low moral compass,” he said of Bannon, “and the idea that this is the type of person that Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee, as president, would have closest to him is very disturbing.”
Which may be just hearsay, but Bardella happens to have been one of the great insider-color leakers of recent years, as press secretary of Darrell Issa's House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, which fired him for leaking emails in 2011, and reporters like Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker and Mark Leibovich of the Times (whose terrific 2013 profile of Bardella is my source) never found any reason to doubt his veracity. (And it wasn't even so bad, he worked for Issa again for a while later on.)

One other thing about Bannon that I can't get out of my mind has nothing overt to do with politics, but a lot underneath. It's about the moment of his career of being, basically, a rich guy (online sources give his net worth as $10 million) who will keep getting richer wherever he goes (from Goldman Sachs to starting his own boutique investment bank to messing around in film production), between 2006 and 2011, when he got his friends at Goldman to put up $60 million to help him become chair and eventually CEO of Internet Gaming Entertainment, later Affinity Media, a company that started out farming virtual gold: that is, they paid kids in China to play World of Warcraft all day and earn WoW tokens and I guess gear and animals, which they then sold to players in America for real-world cash, as through the factory run by Liu Haibin in Jinhua, according to the enthralling narrative of the whole story by Julian Dibbell that appeared in Wired in 2008:
with about 30 workers on staff, Liu was able to keep a gold-farming setup running around the clock. While the night shift slept upstairs on plywood bunks, day-shift workers sat in the hot, dimly lit workshop, each tending three or four computers. They were “playing” World of Warcraft, farming gold at an impressive clip by hunting and looting monsters, their productivity greatly abetted by automated bots that allowed them to handle multiple characters with little effort. They worked 84-hour weeks, got a couple of days off per month, and earned about $4 a day, which even for China was not a stellar wage. 
The company was almost brought down by a lawsuit from a player in Florida complaining that IGE was ruining the pleasure of the game, I assume on the grounds that you can be in a magical world where having more money increases your chances of winning without even turning on your computer, but as Bannon and his friends dived in they simply pulled it out of the gold farm business and into simply marketing gaming community websites, or virtual real estate they had picked up cheap. And ultimately, as Issie Lapowsky wrote in Wired a couple of months ago,
He stayed in that role [as CEO] until 2012, when he joined Breitbart, which, coincidentally, also peddles imaginary stuff on the Internet.
Indeed. Or maybe not so coincidentally, is what I'm thinking. And now he's still peddling imaginary stuff in the form of Donald J. Trump's "ideas" for Making America Great Again, though they've gone beyond the computer to our beloved Republic-if-you-can-keep-it.

Got my first frog-face tweet today, speaking of racists taking over our world:

Pretty winsome how the racism is packed in there in the "degenerate monkeys" (better in the original German, entartete Affen, where the phrase is used, however, in a Devo sense to refer to all of humanity descended from the primate ancestors we share with the less corrupted great apes, not just the various Jews, darkskinned persons, and Mischlings who cannot qualify for the Good American label).

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