Bannon’s Out!

Steve Bannon has been fired. This should create some interesting fallout, although Charles Pierce thinks it might not all be for the good.

While this is all entertaining as hell, and it is, and while it’s even more entertaining to speculate what vengeance Bannon and his army of angry gnomes could wreak on this presidency*, I am not going to be turning handsprings along the Charles over this development. First, it’s eight months overdue and both Stephen Miller and the ridiculous Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D. are still there. Second, I decline at the moment to believe that Bannon will be blocked entirely on the president*’s cell phone. And third, given that this is a president* who would require his paper boy to sign a non-disclosure agreement, I think it’s reasonable to speculate that Bannon’s silence will be handsomely remunerated. But there’s one more general reason that I am not popping corks over this.

Whatever else he was, Bannon was one of the few people in that operation who still at least was making mouth noises about economic populism after inauguration day. I have to think that the various corporate sublets in the Republican congressional leadership—Paul Ryan, chief among them—are looking at Bannon’s departure as an opportunity to lead a president* who knows nothing about anything right down the trail of corporate oligarchy. I’m glad he’s gone, but there’s still enough left to concern us all.

Josh Marshall has an interesting observation:

Here’s one thing to consider as Steve Bannon leaves the White House. There’s hardly anyone in the close Trump orbit who hasn’t been tripped up in some way by the Russia investigation. There’s one big exception: Steve Bannon.

Obviously I don’t know all the ins and out of the Russia probe. The Mueller operation has been extraordinarily tight. But I keep pretty close tabs. Look at all the stories. Bannon’s name basically never comes up. As far as I know he hasn’t even hired a lawyer in the probe. Why is this? My best guess is the most obvious one: for whatever reason he just wasn’t involved. …

… Bannon probably knows a lot that could be big trouble for Trump. But would he hurt Trump like that? Who knows? Initial reports suggest otherwise: What we’re hearing is that he and Breitbart want to go to war with the ‘globalists’ – some mix of the Jews, the former Democrats, the generals and perhaps basically everyone who’s still left.

But here’s the last part of the puzzle and it’s a key one. Back in early summer, Bannon seemed to have the idea that Kushner could and would take the fall for Russia. He was dirty and, if he could be jettisoned, the White House and Trump could be walled off from the damage.

That always struck me as zany.

Zany, because blood comes before anything else with Trump. Come to think of it, other than Chief of Staff Kelly is there anyone left in Trump’s inner White House circle he is not related to?

Jonathan Chait writes that Bannon simply had nothing to offer the White House any more:

Steve Bannon, the most recent loser in the White House game of thrones, leaves the White House best known as the chief ideologist of a new right-wing synthesis, which he used to call “alt-right” and now calls “nationalism.” Those ideas, though, have been followed only intermittently. President Trump has followed Bannon’s xenophobia and barely disguised racism, but ignored his anti-Semitism and fascination with fomenting trade war with China, a trillion dollar infrastructure bill, and a higher tax rate on the rich. Bannon’s true contribution to Trump is less widely understood. “Devil’s Bargain,” Josh Green’s fine history of Bannon’s role in the campaign, makes clear that the chief strategist’s essential work lay in his attacks on Hillary Clinton. That was what won the presidency for Trump. And that, of course, is a skill made obsolete through Trump’s victory.

In other news

The remaining members of a presidential arts and humanities panel resigned on Friday in yet another sign of growing national protest of President Trump’s recent comments on the violence in Charlottesville.

He really does seem to be coming apart at the seams.

Donald Trump, Patron of Art

Trump this week, on Confederate monuments:

Trump should know about art that can’t be replaced.

Dust swirled and jackhammers pounded outside the Bonwit Teller building in Manhattan as undocumented immigrants tore apart the façade. It was June 5, 1980, and a sense of bitterness hung over the work site that afternoon; paychecks were often weeks late, but since the Poles didn’t have legal status in the United States, there was little they could do about it.

The exterior they were destroying was an architectural masterpiece–bronze, platinum, hammered aluminum, glazed ceramic and tinted glass that shimmered like jewelry. Many New Yorkers had hoped the grandest portion would survive; curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art had asked the developer to carefully remove the two bas-relief sculpture panels so they could be restored and put on public display. But that afternoon, the laborers, acting on orders from the developer, smashed the 50-year-old art deco panels into a rubble of stone, pebble and dirt.

The desecration horrified Manhattan’s art community, but the developer, a brash 34-year-old named Donald Trump, dismissed the criticism–pretending to be his own spokesman, “John Barron,” as he talked to reporters by phone. Saving the panels would have cost him $32,000 each, he said, and delayed work for a few days on his $100 million project, Trump Tower. Besides, he declared, he knew more than the curators–the panels had no artistic merit and little financial value.


Trump discovered that taking out the sculptures would delay demolition by two weeks. He wasn’t willing to wait. “On his orders, the demolition workers cut up the grillwork with acetylene torches,”rt wrote. “Then they jackhammered the friezes, dislodged them with crowbars, and pushed the remains inside the building, where they fell to the floor and shattered in a million pieces.”

The art world was shocked. “Architectural sculpture of this quality is rare and would have made definite sense in our collections,” Ashton Hawkins, the vice president and secretary of the Met’s board of trustees, told the New York Times. Robert Miller, a gallery owner who had agreed to assess the friezes, told the paper that “the reliefs are as important as the sculptures on the Rockefeller building. They’ll never be made again.”

The Times reported that Trump also lost a large bronze grillwork, measuring 25 feet in length, from the building that the museum had hoped to save.

So much for irreplaceable art. But we should also be concerned about the promise he made concerning infrastructure.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday rolled back rules regarding environmental reviews and restrictions on government-funded building projects in flood-prone areas as part of his proposal to spend $1 trillion to fix aging U.S. infrastructure.

Trump’s latest executive order would speed approvals of permits for highways, bridges, pipelines and other major building efforts. It revokes an Obama-era executive order aimed at reducing exposure to flooding, sea level rise and other consequences of climate change.

“It’s going to be quick. It’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it – very simple,” Trump said at a press conference at Trump Tower in New York.

Well, unless it costs somebody money or slows down construction by a few days. I mean, who needs spotted owls, right? No artistic merit.