Three Disaster Stories
Story #1. 9/11
It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since the 9/11 attacks. As with other national crises --- the ‘60’s assassinations (JFK, MLK, RFK), & the Challenger explosion, for example --- those who lived through the event remember exactly where they were when they heard about it. As regards 9/11, the tragedy of that day is still with us not only through its commemoration but also because of our endless (and futile) “war” in Afghanistan. Everyone should take some time to not only remember those who perished in 2001 but all the other victims (including Iraquis, Afghanis, Syrians, et al) who have been lost as a result of the interminable “War on Terror.” And let’s not forget our “President” claimed to see “thousands of Muslims cheering in Jersey City” and that, from Trump Tower, he watched people jumping from the buildings (impossible!). A craven, pathological liar.
Story #2: Hurricanes
The last few weeks has seen the Southern United States bombarded by the forces of Nature as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have ripped through Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. Above and beyond the Herculean efforts of citizens, government officials, and the media to insure the safety of the residents in the affected areas we should not lose sight of an Administration filled with climate change deniers! While climate change does not cause these storms, we do know it embellishes their ferocity and the amount of damage they wreak. While FEMA may be doing a great job, we should not issue a free pass to those in the EPA and other Cabinet Departments who are still beating the drum (including the Chief Executive) about climate change being a “hoax,” possibly created by the Chinese. We need to organize and put this group out asap.
If you didn’t catch Steve Bannon’s first televsion interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday night you missed a chance at seeing why the Trump Administration is as perverse and twisted as it is. Charlie Rose barely did a competent job in raising questions but, even with his blatantly lame job, we got to see just how Bannon (and, one was led to believe, Trump) really see the United States and the World. When asked about DACA, Bannon revealed not only his narrow-minded true colors but also his selective (and ignorant) understanding of U.S. history.
Bannon’s stance on DACA was straightforward: “No path to citizenship, no path to a green card, no amnesty --- amnesty is a non-negotiable. . . as work permits run out, self-deport.” Rose failed to press Bannon on where, exactly, he believed these young people, raised in the United States since age 6 or younger, should “self-deport” to. But it was Bannon’s explication of why DACA should be eliminated that was most revealing. When Charlie Rose pressed Bannon about the U.S. being a nation of immigrants Bannon’s response was this:
You’ve couldn’t be more dead wrong. America was built by its citizens. Look at the 19th century --- from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts --- a system of protecting our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturing, okay, and a control of our borders. Economic Nationalism is what this country was built on. The American System, right? If we go back to that, we protect our own . . . and this country is going to be greater, more united than its ever been.
If we examine that statement we can see how Bannon’s myopic view of American History informs his false narrative and energizes Trump’s base. Let’s first consider that his reference point is the 19th Century! Ignoring that we are in the 21st century and harkening back 200 years might give one pause regarding anything Bannon says from that point on. Nonetheless, let’s consider all the other manipulative (and incorrect) “facts” he relies on. Just to straighten Mr. Bannon out about “the American System” he seems to believe will be the salvation of our nation: this theoretical construct was developed by Henry Clay (when he was Secretary of State for John Adams, 1825-1829) and Andrew Jackson and the Democrats of the time never let “the American system” see the light of day!
The American System called for a “self-sufficient” U.S. economy (even impossible in the 19th century, btw), encouraging the growth of manufactures (as Hamilton had), and using high, protectionist tariffs to spur such growth. Anyone who knows U.S. history and “tariffs” is aware of what a contentious issue it has been --- causing as much harm as good (almost creating a Constitutional crisis in Jackson’s administration and certainly a reason for the Civil War). Also, Bannon claims “America was built by its citizens” --- totally ignoring the 19th century driver of the U.S. economy: SLAVERY. Charlie Rose’s failure to raise this issue shows how poor an interviewer (and student of history?) he is. To glibly claim the Clay’s American System (never implemented) and American "citizens" (the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision stated Blacks could never be citizens!) created the thriving economy of the 19th century is patently. blatantly untrue.
Mr. Bannon is also fast and loose with his historical analogy by ignoring the Depressions of 1837 and 1873 (which marked the beginning of The Gilded Age, when the wealthy widened the gap between themselves and working class people --- sounds familiar, right?) and he mentions Polk without noting that Polk stole the Southwest territory (New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada) and California from Mexico through a war he provoked to fulfill America’s “Manifest Destiny.” To then claim that Lincoln and the Roosevelts were also part of this “American System” is equally spurious historically --- as is ignoring the waves of immigrants in the late 19th century who drove the U.S. economy. This all reveals the slanted and inaccurate philosophy Bannon bases his entire worldview on --- and sold to this rudderless and politically/historically clueless President.
Bannon is now back at Breitbart News where he and his staff freely admit they “custom choose” their stories (claiming the NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, and the rest of the “mainstream media” do, too, but “won’t admit it”). Labeling Breitbart a “populist, nationalist, grassroots conservative” publication, Bannon has promised to be the President’s ally and “wingman” in continuing an assault on the institutions of the United States government and promoting economic nationalism.