Saturday, August 27, 2016

Steve Bannon is one weird dude

Over the past day or so we've seen several revealing news articles with one bottom line: Steve Bannon, head honcho of the Trump campaign, is a really weird dude.

Steve Bannon and voter fraud. Bannon does not live in Florida, yet he is registered to live there. For a long time, his listed residence was an abandoned home. When he was caught, he changed his official voting address to that of fellow Breitbarter Andy Badolato.

Funny innit? The right-wingers keep wailing that voter fraud is a real and growing concern. But the only people who actually practice this kind of fraudulence seem to be prominent right-wingers!
In June 2012, Breitbart published an article under the screaming headline “ELECTION FRAUD: CALIFORNIA UNION OFFICIAL VOTED IN WI RECALL” that seems relevant to Bannon’s residency issues:
Wisconsin state law requires that before a person cast their ballot in a Wisconsin election they be a resident of the state. Specifically, residence is defined as the place “where the person’s habitation is fixed, without any present intent to move, and to which, when absent, the person intends to return.” [Wis. Stat. 6.10(1)]

Shansky’s move to California in March, nearly two months before the election, and acceptance of a job out there would almost certainly mean that he does not qualify as a Wisconsin elector and should not have cast a ballot. He no longer lives in the state and he does not appear regard his move as a mere temporary absence from Wisconsin.
Hmm. This seems like it’s a pretty serious problem for Bannon, given the “ELECTION FRAUD” headline, but let’s dig a little deeper. A few months later, as the presidential election loomed, Breitbart ran another piece on Wisconsin residency requirements that made the case that non-resident voters in a battleground state were a direct threat to democracy...
Look out, Steve Bannon. Breitbart News has a moral obligation to dig into the story and, if necessary, alert local law enforcement regarding their findings. This could get ugly for the Trump campaign CEO.
How ugly? This ugly...
“Wilfully submitting false information on a Florida voter registration – or helping someone to do so – is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.”
If Bannon never lived in that abandoned residence, is he not guilty of submitting false information? If he's arrested, will Trump bail him out? Does Trump even have that kind of money?

Maybe it's all about taxes. Bannon has homes in both California and NYC; he also stays in the Breitbart "Brown House" in DC. (The term "Brown House" is mine, and I hope it will catch on. Some of you may understand the historical reference.) However...
California and New York are both high income tax states, actually some of the very highest in the country. DC is a high income tax jurisdiction. (When I say 'high', I'm of course speaking of relative terms vis a vis other states.) New York City has its own additional income levy. So from a tax perspective, if you're rich, New York City is a particularly pricey place to live.
Steve Bannon ran Bioshpere II. What's more, some of the people who actually lived "under the dome" seemed to hate his guts
He called a female science researcher who wrote a report about safety concerns a “deluded” “bimbo,” and threatened to “ram it down her (expletive) throat.” He also threatened to “kick her ass.”
“In the two years Bannon ran Biosphere 2, he also produced and promoted a nuanced documentary on illegal immigration near the Sonora border about 100 miles south,” according to the Star-Telegram report.
He also gave interviews which embraced the theory of global warming. Now, of course, he works for a candidate who denies the reality of man-made climate change.

(To be honest, I always thought that the whole "Biosphere II" thing was really kind of stupid.)

Hey, Steve Bannon: When did you stop choking your wife? Yeah, I know: The question is just a tad unfair. The only justification for asking such a question is that we all know damned well how the Breitbarters would react if a prominent liberal had something like this in his background. Them what dishes it out had best be ready to take it.

Nevertheless, my first reaction was to let this matter slide. Not that I'm in favor of non-consensual spousal strangulation, but we're talking about an incident that happened twenty years ago. People do change, time passes, and forgiveness is a virtue. Malcolm X, Tim Allen, Kweisi Mfume and the Black Widow were all guilty of serious wrongs during the earlier stages of their lives. Besides, marital spats always have more than one side.

But one aspect of this story is, I think, legitimately relevant to Bannon's current occupation:
Mary Louise Piccard said in a 2007 court declaration that Bannon didn't want their twin daughters attending the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles because many Jewish students were enrolled at the elite institution.

"The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend," Piccard said in her statement signed on June 27, 2007.

"He said that he doesn't like the way they raise their kids to be 'whiny brats' and that he didn't want the girls going to school with Jews," Piccard wrote.

Stephen Bannon, Trump campaign CEO, allegedly attacked ex-wife

"I told him that there are children who are Jewish at (a competing school), and he asked me what the percentage was. I told him that I didn't know because it wasn't an issue for me as I am not raising the girls to be either anti-Semitic or prejudiced against anyone," she wrote.

Frankly, most parents in Los Angeles want their kids to go to schools -- at least the public schools -- which happen to have many Jewish students. Those schools just tend to be better.

(Except when it comes to basketball. I could tell you some stories.)

I certainly am glad I got the chance to attend a school "south of the Boulvard," as we used to say in the San Fernando Valley. For one thing, there were more days off. Nobody showed up on Jewish holidays.

The right-wing anti-Semitism spectrum.
Bannon's 2007 outburst has me wondering: Just what is the current right-wing "take" on Jewishness?

Many decades ago, before WWII, things were simple. The far right hated Jews. Old-school "eastern establishment" types -- Yale and Harvard Brahmins -- did not hate Jews, at least not in the way that Julius Streicher or Gerald L.K. Smith hated Jews. The Brahmins simply felt that Jews weren't the kind of people one invited into one's club. Much of America considered Jews to be the Other.

More recently, thanks to the fundamentalist takeover of the GOP, the right has been suffused with a near-worshipful attitude toward Israel. Of course, many of the southern Baptists who support Israel no matter what never met a Jew in their lives, and would probably feel strange attending a seder or a bar-mitzvah. Neverheless, as recently as a few years ago, I could comfortably say that the mainstream American right had transcended anti-Semitism.

However, the non-mainstream right -- neo-Nazis, Klansmen, extreme conspiracy buffs -- still defined itself by a crude hatred of Jews. Sometimes they disguised their feelings. Their writings would replace the word "Jew" with euphemisms like "cosmopolitans," "dark forces," "serpent people" and the ever-popular "international bankers." My favorite euphemism was "alien," a clever bit of verbal trickery which allowed anti-Semites to seed the UFO literature with Nazified conspiracy theories. There are aliens living among us! They look like us! They have gained control over our media and our banking system! Cute, huh?

The situation became very bizarre in the wake of the Anders Brevik massacre in Norway. Brevik is a neo-Nazi murderer of the lowest order -- yet he admires Israel and frequented Pam Geller's site.

And now we have the Breitbarters, who seem about evenly split between the ones who say "My Israel, right or wrong" and the ones who say "You know, this was all predicted in The Protocols."

We also have the phenomenon of Donald Trump, praised by both David Duke and Sheldon Adelson. Trump's campaign head doesn't want his kid going to school with Jews, yet a recent CNN headline reads: "Donald Trump finds corner of support among Israel's Americans."
At a mall in Modi'in, in central Israel, American-Israeli Republicans press the flesh. Red, white and blue balloons flank a sign in Hebrew that appears similar to Trump's "Make America Great Again" logo, but it doesn't promise to restore America's greatness.
Step back and consider the spectacle: The political candidate who "mainstreamed" anti-Semitism is a son of New York City -- and he is beloved in Israel. (Added note: As a reader reminds me, Ivanka converted to Judaism.)

What the hell is going on? I'm stumped. I admit it: I'm flummoxed.

The world I knew and more-or-less understood is no more. Our entire "anti-Semitism spectrum" needs revision. Maybe all of our other presumptions need revision as well. One day, perhaps, scholars studying American political history will employ the labels B.D. and A.D. -- Before Donald and After Donald.

I just want the world to make sense again. Maybe it's too much to ask for a world I like. But what the hell happened to the world I could comprehend?
Trump's daughter, son-in-law and two of his grandchildren are Jewish, which makes this all even stranger.
Well, you understand once Israel is destroyed, either by war, violence, or demographic reality, there will be no "Christian" Zionist cult to speak of. Oh, maybe a tinier than Amish curiosity piece, but none of political import. Hal Lindsay's specter will have failed, Christ will not have come in the clouds to convert a third of the Jews and Armageddon will not have destroyed the earth. The American Christians can rever to being actual conservative Christians again with all the usual doctrines--like Jews have to accept Christ to be saved, which even Billy Graham abandoned in his dispensational cultism.

Just as importantly, the US will be relived of a political albatross. That is if Israel has acquired us so many enemies in the meantime, the US still exists in its present form.
The Muslims and the Jews probably have the most intense religions of all and each probably has their ways of balancing it out for the younger kids so the younger kids don't rebel. The Jews it could be by spoiling, the Muslims by Sharia.
Another Hoop comment got through. Should we blame the dog again? ;)
There are really two questions here, why the antipathy to Obama and why to the progressive left. As to the progressive left, there seems to be a meme that Israel is bad and the Palestinians good. Many, though certainly not all ( and for example), liberal blogs demonize Israel to the point of indefensibility against charges of anit-semitism. Certainly, Israel could do better by its poorer citizens, so could everybody. But to want all flirt with Hamas, an organization that demands the death of all Jews, not just Israeli Jews but all Jews, to hold Israel to higher standards than any other country in the world, to suggest that Israel has engaged in genocide, is simply beyond the pale. When the only Jewish refugee county in the world is chosen for destruction, what are Israelis to think? As to Obama, he views conflict resolution as the ultimate good. The problem is that to get to that resolution he, like many mediators, simply leans on the party he perceives to be weaker. When that happens, the parties rapidly grasp that the best strategy is to be the most intransigent. The Palestinians adopted that strategy long ago and Israel has come to the same realization. While the animus between Obama and Netanyahu is palpable, the roots of Israeli unease with Obama is the perception that he continues to lean on them, not the Palestinians.

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