On Carrot Cake and Steve Bannon

Folks … we need to talk.  Yes, I know you’d like another Groundhog Day post this morning, but unfortunately Groundhog Day comes but once a year.  Okay … yes, it IS National Carrot Cake Day and also National Wear Red Day.  Carrot cake I can do … wearing red?  NO.  I do not wear red.  So, here’s my nod to National Carrot Cake Day.


Now seriously … we need to talk … and think.

Today’s topic for pondering is none other than Steve Bannon.  I have been pondering a question for the past several days, and I want to walk through my thought processes for my own clarity, as well as yours.

bannon-1Yes, that’s Steve Bannon, white supremacist, ‘former’ head of Breitbart, with links to both KKK and neo-Nazi organizations. The same Steve Bannon who was named Trump’s “Senior White House Advisor” and then, just last week, was given a seat on the National Security Council, despite having absolutely no experience that qualifies him for that position.

Now … I want to pose a question to my readers … a question that keeps invading my thought processes:  what if Steve Bannon is actually the person running the government?  What if he is both the brains and the vitriol behind Trump?

bannon-2Let me explain my thinking.  Bannon had absolutely no qualifications to become a presidential advisor, yet he was the first chosen and the position Trump assigned him did not require senate confirmation. It is said that Bannon has been the framer of most, if not all, of the executive orders Trump has issued in the past two weeks, which makes sense, as we have seen Trump’s communication style and its … shall we say, ‘limitations’ (2 syllables), so to believe he crafted executive legislation is a stretch.  Then Bannon is given a full seat on the principals committee of the National Security Council, for which he is even less qualified than I am.  But the final slap-in-the-face for me was the fact that when Trump made his obnoxious call to Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia on Saturday, not only was Bannon in the room, but it is said that Trump deferred to him on at least one occasion.

Now, we all know that Trump disturbs me:  he is a narcissistic, poorly educated, unqualified, arrogant buffoon.  However, Bannon may well disturb me even more.  Let us look at some of the things he has said over the past few months:

  • August 2016 – “I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment. National Review and The Weekly Standard are both left-wing magazines, and I want to destroy them also.”
  • November 2016 – “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when ‘they’ get it wrong. When ‘they’re’ blind to who we are and what we’re doing. If we deliver [the Trump Administration] we’ll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years. I am Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors.”
  • January 2017 – “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this: The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States. The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work.”

According to Foreign Policy,  a notable, award-winning source:

“Even before he was given a formal seat on the National Security Council’s “principals committee” this weekend by President Donald Trump, Bannon was calling the shots and doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff, according to an intelligence official who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution.

“He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,” the official said. He described a work environment where there is little appetite for dissenting opinions, shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings, and no guidance or encouragement so far from above about how the National Security Council staff should be organized.”

I am not alone in my thinking.  Yesterday, Time magazine’s latest edition features Bannon, on the cover with text that reads “The Great Manipulator.” The headline used for the piece inside the magazine asks, “Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?”

bannon-time-2So I have to ask the question … who is actually calling the shots?  Who is driving this Ship of Fools?  And which is worse?  Trump, an idiot extraordinaire who is as likely as not to destroy this country with his energy, environmental, educational and national security policies, as well as destroy every foreign alliance we have?  Or Bannon, a man who, while equally disgusting, is more intelligent and better educated, and thinks like Lenin … a sly and devious man whose every move has purpose?  Where does Putin and his vision of a new Soviet-style empire fit into the equation? Are we being buffeted willy nilly by a fool or are we being guided purposefully by Captain Bligh?  Why have Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn both died when we need them to help us figure this out??? Either way … my final question:  will we see a Mutiny on the Bounty?

I am not a conspiracy theorist at all … I do not believe that our government played a role in 9/11, other than perhaps the intelligence community being so disjointed that they missed what was right under their noses.  I do not think that Lyndon Johnson ordered the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Nor am I saying that Bannon is the brains of this operation and Trumpet merely a pumpet.  However, I am asking your opinion.  I am asking you to watch and listen … that is all.

Oh alright … fine … here is a link to the Carrot Cake Recipe.  Send me a piece, please …


U.S. Ranks #1

Donald Trump claims we need him to “make America great again”.  Well, apparently nobody needs to “make America great again”, as we are already #1, numero uno, numéro un, Nummer Eins, رقم واحد, Nummer een, 一番, worldwide!

Top ten most racist countries in the world:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Australia
  4. Rwanda
  5. Japan
  6. Germany
  7. Israel
  8. Pakistan
  9. Russia
  10. India


Granted, ranking such as this are tricky and there are several different sets of rankings, however I looked at several that I would expect to be relatively reliable, and 3 out of 4 ranked the U.S. as the #1 racist country in the world, followed by the U.K. and Australia.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation. The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. SPLC defines hate groups as those that “… have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”  By this definition, SPLC has reported that there are 784 active hate groups operating within the United States.  The groups included:

72 separate Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups

142 Neo-Nazi groups

115 White nationalist groups

119 Racist skinhead groups

113 Black separatist groups

37 Neo-Confederate groups

21 Christian Identity groups

165 “General hate” groups (subdivided into anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, Holocaust denial, racist music, radical traditionalist Catholic, anti-Muslim, and “other”)

It seems to me that is an awful lot of hate going on in our nation.  Some of these groups are more lethal than others, some have never committed a racially motivated crime, but the fact that they exist is a sad enough statement about our country.

While one cannot blame the current crop of political candidates for the existence of 700+ hate groups, the fact is that the politicos and wanna-be’s are contributing to the environment of hate, and in some cases even encouraging it.  In Louisville, Kentucky last month, Matthew Heimbach, a 25-year-old white nationalist, shoved a young, black college student multiple times, screaming at her to leave. In North Carolina, several protestors attending Trump’s rally were escorted from the premises. While they were being led away by authorities, a white attendee sucker-punched a black protestor.  In Las Vegas, attendees can be heard screaming obscenities at a black protestor while he is being escorted from the premises. “Light the motherf***er on fire!”.  These are but a few examples of racist incidents that have occurred at Trump rallies.  Trump, rather than attempting to diffuse the hate, the racism, the violence, has encouraged it by telling his audience to “knock the crap out of ‘em” and offering to pay legal fees for anyone who does so.

It is not just Trump, either, although his racism and bigotry are more blatant than most.  At a recent event in New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his endorsement of Clinton, she teased him about taking a long time in endorsing her, to which he replied “Sorry, I was running on CP (coloured people’s) time.”  Two thumbs down to Mayor de Blasio, but two thumbs up to actor Leslie Odom Jr. for standing up and saying “That’s not [funny], I don’t like jokes like that, Bill.”  Ted Cruz: “It’s every bit as true now as it was then,” Cruz said. “We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.” (Former Senator Jesse Helms was against civil rights law and tried to block MLK Day from becoming an official U.S. holiday).  Again, these are mild compared to Trump’s acrimonious statements and the actions of his followers, but they bespeak of underlying bigotry, of intolerance based on nothing more than skin colour, or religion, or ethnicity.

Donald Trump claims that “The big problem this country has is being politically correct.” Ted Cruz and Ben Carson apparently agree with him.  I have to wonder if this is not a part of his allure.  With so many hate groups, so many in this nation apparently opposed to allowing people into this country who do not look, think, and speak like they do, does the racism of the political candidates hold appeal somehow?  Political correctness is defined by Merriam Webster as “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.”  The definition I think sums it up best is “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.”  In other words, quite simply put, a lack of rudeness. What, pray tell, is wrong with a bit of respect, a bit of decency toward our fellow human beings?

I do not understand bigotry of any sort.  I am not proud that our nation holds the number one spot of all 196 countries in the world.  It is not a record to be proud of, and I say “shame on you” to the public figures, candidates, and politicians who promote bigotry, either directly or indirectly.  Those people have the capability that most of us do not have, the capability to speak out against hatred, against bigotry in all of its many forms.  And many do, but the few who do not are to be rebuked, repudiated, for their failure to do their part in bringing cohesion to this nation.

A couple of links, in case you would like more information:

Are We Doomed to Repeat the Past?

History is indeed cyclical and history does sometimes repeat itself, despite our best efforts to learn from the past. There are a number of not-so-shining examples around the globe today that may ultimately prove this point.

  1. With anti-Semitism seemingly on the rise in much of Europe, Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf is being re-published (the new version is 2,000 pages compared to the 800 page original) and it is reported that the German Teachers Union is in support of the new, annotated edition being used in German schools.  I am conflicted about the re-publication of the book, as I certainly do not advocate the banning of books, however I am not eager to see this book on shelves at my local bookseller.  I don’t think there is any danger of your average citizen grabbing it up and adopting the ideology of Hitler.  However, I do not see a reason to re-publish the book in the first place … it is nothing more than a treatise on anti-Semitism … and I am thoroughly against using it as a teaching tool or as required reading in schools.  When I hear the phrase “we will not forget”, whether in reference to the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, or any other historic episode, I wonder whether that is true.  Certainly those of us who lived through any of those events will never forget, but what about future generations?  Has enough time passed that we have actually forgotten the lessons of Hitler’s domination and of the Holocaust?  Very few Holocaust survivors are still alive today, and those are 70+ years old.  In another twenty years, there will be none left to remind us.  Certainly there are enough books and films, but is that enough?  Is it possible that we might forget the lessons and be lured once again into the mentality of bigotry, narcissism and racism that was Hitler’s dark legacy?  I hope not, but I am not sure.  To use Mein Kampf in teaching school children seems a recipe for disaster.  Despite an overall decrease in the number of members of “official” neo-Nazi groups in Europe, neo-Nazi propaganda and activities have nearly doubled in the last three years. (Felicity Capon, Newsweek, 24 March 2015)
  2. It is becoming increasingly obvious that Vladimir Putin, President of Russia and a former KGB officer, is working toward a goal of resurrecting an empire similar to the USSR of yore.  In an address to the nation in April 2005, he is quoted as saying “ …we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” In March 2014, Putin annexed Crimea, then a part of the Ukraine, saying that “Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia”. He has also made statements that Ukraine and Russia are “one nation” on more than one occasion.  More recently, in September 2015, Putin lent military aid to support the crumbling al Assad regime in Syria.  (Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy, 7 October 2015).  Due to falling oil prices, the Russian economy is already crumbling, and yet Putin has somehow seen fit to involve his country in the war in Syria.  One must ask the question:  WHY?  It is a situation that bears watching.
  3. At here in the U.S., racism is yet again on the front lines.  A 2015 poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in conjunction with CNN found that 49% see racism as a big problem, as compared to just 28% four years ago.  Another 33% see it as “somewhat” of a problem, while only 12% think it is either a small problem, not a problem at all, or don’t know/don’t care.  Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s rhetoric in his bid for president seems to have given a boost to white supremacist groups such as Stormfront, a white supremacist group referring to themselves as “white nationalists”.  Much of today’s racism against African-Americans can be seen in events such as the murder of Trayvon Martin and the exoneration of his killer under Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland as well as numerous others. The question becomes, are these events a cause of increased racism, or the effect?  I do not know the answer to that question, but before it goes any further, lawmakers, police departments and courts need to analyze and, in the words of Donald Trump, “figure out what’s going on”.  We cannot tolerate a return to the racist environment of the Civil Rights era, and that appears to be precisely where we are heading.

None of the above examples, taken at face value, indicate a return to the past.  There is still a long way to go until a neo-Nazi party comes to power in a European nation, or the Soviet empire returns to power in Eastern Europe, or the United States returns to the Civil Rights era of the 1950’s-1960’s.  But these are indicators that the winds may be blowing in that direction and I think it is prudent to realize this, be ever-vigilant and carefully elect leaders who will use their power to stop any further progression toward a return to a past that holds nothing but shame … a past that is made of “we will never forget” moments.