Monday, February 27, 2017

We must not suffer fools gladly for the sake of our children
  What exactly does it mean to advocate "tolerance"

Wikipedia offers this definition:
Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist has called "an order of existence". Different religions may or may not contain various elements, ranging from the "divine", "sacred things", "faith", a "supernatural being or supernatural beings" or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life."
Take some time to digest that definition, because the entry goes on to say:
"With the onset of the modernization of and the scientific revolution in the western world, some aspects of religion have cumulatively been criticized."
In a different entry, Wikipedia too carefully offers this definition:
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.
"Science" allowed us to achieve landing on the moon. "Religion" allowed some to say and "believe" that didn't happen and all the evidence showing that it did was fabricated. "Religion" allowed people to say their family members who died from smallpox moved on to a better place. "Science" allowed us to eliminate smallpox.

Wikipedia also offers this definition:
Ideology is a collection of beliefs held by an individual, group or society. It can be described as a set of conscious and unconscious ideas which make up one's beliefs, goals, expectations, and motivations.
The entry explains further:
Even when the challenging of existing beliefs is encouraged, as in scientific theories, the dominant paradigm or mindset can prevent certain challenges, theories, or experiments from being advanced.
When I read the full entry on "ideology," what I see is a description similar to "religion" in that beliefs are passed on that are not knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Both religion and ideology require a belief at the core that does not permit a real world verification process that can be repeated by others. You either believe it or you don't.

Science is a curious "systematic enterprise." There are "beliefs" known as an "hypothesis" which is a suggested solution for an unexplained occurrence that does not fit into current accepted scientific theory.

Our common use of the word "theory" has caused confusion about science which those with political agendas have taken advantage of to advocate beliefs. From Wikipedia:
A scientific theory is an explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can, in accordance with the scientific method, be repeatedly tested, using a predefined protocol of observations and experiments. Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and are a comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.

It is important to note that the definition of a "scientific theory" (often ambiguously contracted to "theory" for the sake of brevity, including in this page) as used in the disciplines of science is significantly different from the common vernacular usage of the word "theory". In everyday non-scientific speech, "theory" can imply that something is an unsubstantiated and speculative guess, conjecture, idea, or, hypothesis; such a usage is the opposite of the word "theory" in science. These different usages are comparable to the differing, and often opposing, usages of the term "prediction" in science versus "prediction" in vernacular speech, denoting a mere hope.

The strength of a scientific theory is related to the diversity of phenomena it can explain. As additional scientific evidence is gathered, a scientific theory may be rejected or modified if it does not fit the new empirical findings; in such circumstances, a more accurate theory is then desired.... They describe the causal elements responsible for a particular natural phenomenon, and are used to explain and predict aspects of the physical universe or specific areas of inquiry (e.g., electricity, chemistry, astronomy). Scientists use theories as a foundation to gain further scientific knowledge, as well as to accomplish goals such as inventing technology or curing disease.
There is confusion about this in "the public square" where many Americans have come to believe it is important that everyone has a right to say anything and offer there own untestable "theories" that are equal to scientific theories. Thus we have:

And so now we have come to the crux of the matter, for in that web page above is used the word "truth." From Wikipedia:
Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard. Truth may also often be used in modern contexts to refer to an idea of "truth to self," or authenticity.

The commonly understood opposite of truth is falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on a logical, factual, or ethical meaning. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts, including philosophy, art, and religion. Many human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most (but not all) of the sciences, law, journalism, and everyday life. Some philosophers view the concept of truth as basic, and unable to be explained in any terms that are more easily understood than the concept of truth itself. Commonly, truth is viewed as the correspondence of language or thought to an independent reality, in what is sometimes called the correspondence theory of truth.
As the family curmudgeonly pessimist when I look at that definition of "truth" I immediately see a chance for someone to confuse "belief" with "truth" particularly because "belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty."

A fact is something that has occurred or is correct. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is, whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience. But people get these terms confused. The opposite of "fact" is "fantasy" which is not a "lie" but rather comes from  the activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable. When one asserts that a fantasy is "truth" that person is either crazy or is talking about their religion or ideology.

Thus someone standing in the deepest snow they've ever seen in their hometown will say there is no global warming. For them their "truth" ignores their assumption that their "local weather" must be the same as their "regional climate" which must the same as the "global biosphere." That's not a fact, it's their "truth." And in a Trump world they can correctly consider anything contrary a "lie."

Thus when the Center for Religious Expression states "we believe the Christian's right to speak in the public square about these vitally important matters is fundamental because justice - as it relates to any of these issues - cannot exist without truth" they are 100% correct that their viewpoint about abortion, same-sex marriage, etc., is based on the truth.

It's their truth, not my truth, and may not be your truth. That makes truth entirely subjective, and therefore meaningless in a discussion except with the like-minded who don't want to be confused by the different meaning of fact and science.

For this curmudgeonly pessimist, "truth" is a word that has no meaning mostly because it is and always was about a fantasy precept dependent upon belief.

If you must use it, you must understand that it has to do with the intent of "deception." Deception "is a trick or scheme used to get what you want, like the deception you used to get your sister to agree to do all your chores for a month." Deceive is a word that comes from the Latin de- meaning "from" and capere, meaning "to take." In Christianity Leviticus 19:11 provides the "taking" context: "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another." You see, the truth about "truth" can best be understood in the context of the intent of its opposite - a "lie." And that is different from the opposite of "fact", the term "fantasy."

Last week on his "Real Time" show, one of Bill Maher's guests was journalist and author Asra Nomani. According to her web site, among other things, she is "dedicated to ... principles of tolerance in the Muslim world."

Her website also tells us she "was raised in the foothills of West Virginia in Morgantown" and attended West Virginia University. That was followed by a long career in mainstream media journalism. But recently her views have appeared in Breitbart News stories.

In watching Nomani on the show, she explained she voted for Donald Trump and she has strong concerns that were quickly picked up and fairly reported by Breitbart News:
Nomani, who voted for Trump, stated, “[T]here are two issues that the Dems lost on, and one was Islam, and the other was on identity politics, and that’s what I think…I’m afraid that they’re going to go to the extreme, and that would mean [Representative] Keith Ellison (D-MN).”

She added that if Ellison is picked to run the DNC, it would mean “more apologetics on Islam, and more identity politics, and what I would prefer as somebody who is in the middle. We have this mayor from South Bend, Indiana, who — Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] is his name, and we have [Representative] Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who was on your stage. she was amazing, centrist, a realist on Islam and extremism, and that’s what we need, civility, dignity.”

Nomani praised “true liberals” for giving her strength and courage as a Muslim reformer.

She further stated that a lot of liberals aren’t helping reform Islam, and are “selling America short. They are surrendering America.” Nomani criticized the Women’s March for “standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Muslims that are on the far right of the Westboro Baptist Church.”

Nomani concluded by arguing that civility has to [be] demanded “from the White House to the streets.”
In a discussion about a basketball player thinking the world is flat, fellow panelist Seth MacFarlane asked how she can reconcile supporting someone like Trump, who rejects science. He said to her she seems more intelligent than that. Her response was that we must all come together.

Effectively she is advocating "tolerance" which means to not appear to dismiss people whose beliefs might differ from you. That is what Maher, MacFarlane, and the rest of the panel were doing regarding the guy who says he believes the world is flat.

Nomani attacks those who would not suffer fools gladly, which according to the Cambridge English Dictionary means those who have little or no patience with people who are stupid or have stupid ideas.

"Tolerance" is generally offered up as a virtue. According to Wikipedia:
The term “toleration”—from the Latin tolerare: to put up with, countenance or suffer—generally refers to the conditional acceptance of or non-interference with beliefs, actions or practices that one considers to be wrong but still “tolerable,” such that they should not be prohibited or constrained. There are many contexts in which we speak of a person or an institution as being tolerant: parents tolerate certain behavior of their children, a friend tolerates the weaknesses of another, a monarch tolerates dissent, a church tolerates homosexuality, a state tolerates a minority religion, a society tolerates deviant behavior.
Thus one might allow the young basketball player to express his belief that the world is flat in the context of "non-interference with beliefs, actions or practices that one considers to be wrong but still 'tolerable',” such that they should not be prohibited or constrained." After all it is an American value established in the First Amendment which says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And so it is absolutely clear that the American value is to let people blather about their thoughts and beliefs. But we are not obligated to embrace those thoughts and beliefs - we put up with them, we suffer fools gladly, but in the town square we disagree vehemently with them.

Thus if the "flat Earthers" want to express their beliefs which are fantasy they can. But we who do not suffer fools gladly fear the stupid serving as officials in government and public schools. We fear that if you a person who believes something is "right, just, and moral" then even though others might not believe as you, you believe you must advocate imposing through government what is "right or just or moral" on us all.

And that is the problem with "tolerance." You see, the population Nomani spent her childhood with doesn't believe in science. And here I am not talking about Muslims, but way too  many West Virginians. From the Charleston Gazette:
The West Virginia House of Delegates completed its latest attack on the state's education standards Friday, blocking new science standards from taking effect because they mention climate change.

The Republican-controlled House voted 73-20 for legislation (HB 4014) that delays implementation of the science standards at least a year.

Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason, said the state's new science standards “expect students to believe in” global warming and “prove it with evidence.”
Nomani is a Muslim. She is seeking a reformation in the religion of Islam because she does not agree with how the vast majority interprets the faith with regard to women. And she opposes terrorists who are also Muslims who believe their faith requires their violence.

She is serious about her reformation effort. And she has written a book Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam in which she explores her ideas. In a review of the book that appeared in Comparative Civilizations Review reviewer Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman, a writer and historian who formerly taught World History and Islamic Civilization at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, where she was also Executive Director of the San Francisco United Nations Association and was a frequent speaker for the World Affairs Council and the Commonwealth Club, observed:
Asra Nomani's pilgrimage opened her eyes to the discrepancy between what she thought was Mohammad's mission and the practices of fundamentalist Islam today. There is no such movement as "Reformed Islam," but because of her efforts and those of other American Muslims with liberal interpretations of their religion, there may soon be such a movement. Nomani has already staged sit-ins at her mosque, called upon American law to challenge her mosque's board on its discriminatory rules (it is a tax exempt organization), and banded with other liberal Muslims to create a new mosque where for the first time a woman led the call to prayer.

All of this is to be commended, but it is still just moving the furniture on the Titanic. Nomani approached her problems with Islam by picking and choosing among the commentaries in the Koran and its companion piece, the Hadith, in which are the memories of the family and friends of the Prophet Mohammad after his death. She did not even bother with the Sharia, which is the Islamic code of law that has no mechanism for change over time. Ninth century Sharia law is hopeless.

The only thing that comes through about the Prophet Mohammad's mission was summed up in the basic five pillars of Islam: affirmation that there is only one god, prayer daily, fasting one month a year, alms to the poor and widowed, and a pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime. This is the core of a valid religion, and the rest is history and commentary. Even I, as a resolute secularist, find these rules impressive and think that if one must be religious at all, this is not an unacceptable modern choice.
That's fine. But whether it's a Muslim woman or a West Virginian Christian, arguing over interpretation of a religious faith falls into the category of arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. As Wikipedia notes the question has been "linked to the fall of Constantinople, with the imagery of scholars debating about minutiae while the Turks besieged the city."

When you believe in angels dancing on pin heads and you take over the government, one of your first legal priorities must be to protect pin heads.

And that is the risk with advocating tolerance particularly in the public square. That public square (or town hall) is the mechanism used by the stupid to take over your government.

You see, in the end if because of our belief structure we are fretting about tolerating the pin heads and not the collapse of the biosphere, then our children and grandchildren will likely not survive because of us.

It is urgent that we stop advocating "tolerance" as a primary value overriding any concerns about facts established by science through testing and observation of the real world.

The word "elite" meaning "a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities" is used as a pejorative accusation in the form of the term "elitist." Another word, "stupid" means "having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense."

An Italian economic historian Carlo Cipolla in his The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity promulgated five fundamental laws of stupidity:
  1. Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.
  3. A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.
Because of that danger, I frequently say I have no tolerance for stupid people. That may make me elitist, but it doesn't make Cipolla wrong in saying "A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is."

To Asra Nomani I would say it is dangerous to try to find some middle ground between those who believe things such as the world is flat. I say that because the world is round. What is a middle ground, that the world is square? Maybe we should revise NASA and NOAH web pages to reflect a square world?.

While that may seem like a silly statement, the Earth's biosphere is in serious trouble and unemployed coal miners who worked in the Murray Energy Company's Monongalia County Mine (formerly Blacksville Mine) near where you were raised deserve assistance. They do not deserve us putting up with, countenancing or suffering their stupidity. They support a President who says we'll go back to prior levels of burning coal because of this lie (he said it with intent to take):

Ms. Nomani, Trump's Neoliberal Administration on behalf of your ex-neighbors (but mostly on the behalf of the entire fossil fuel energy industry) will have no problem at all revising NASA and NOAH web pages to reflect a biosphere free of global warming impacts.

And if you countenance that, you are equally stupid and dangerous, far more dangerous than the Muslims you seem to fear. This is foolishness that should never be suffered gladly.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why you should fear Trumpism's Steve Bannon: war with China within 8 years and other reasons

Wisely observing the Donald Trump Presidency is difficult because of the deliberate fog-of-confusion created by seemingly random iWorld emanations coming from Administration officials and directly from the President.

One of the thickest fogs surrounds Steve Bannon, the most significant manipulator in the Administration. With their usual attitudes, the Democrats and main stream media have focused on Bannon's association with Breitbart News deepening the fog that hides Bannon more effectively than he could achieve on his own - and he's the fog expert. He is also far more effective and dangerous than Karl Rove.

Factually Bannon is a 63-year-old Baby Boomer from an Irish-American working class family and Breitbart News was not the center of his being for those 63 years. Simply, most people do not consider their 50's and 60's as their formative years.

Yes, Bannon was on the Board of Directors of Breitbart News Board since its beginning in 2005 when he was 52, but from 2007 through 2011 Bannon was the chairman and CEO of Affinity Media. In 2012 when founder Andrew Breitbart died unexpectedly at age 43 and when Bannon was 59, The Hollywood Reporter reported:
Stephen Bannon, the filmmaker responsible for the pro-Sarah Palin movie The Undefeated, has been named executive chairman. Bannon, a former naval officer with masters degrees from Georgetown University and Harvard Business School, was a mergers and acquisitions investment banker at Goldman Sachs and has also been a Breitbart News board member since its founding.
What we know about Bannon beyond Breitbart is much more informative about him. Here's a quick rundown:
  • His working class, Irish Catholic family were pro-Kennedy, pro-union Democrats and his father was a telephone lineman.
  • Like a lot of Baby Boomers from working class families, he went to college - Virginia Tech - graduating in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in urban planning, but unlike a lot of Baby Boomers he was president of the student government association in 1975-76.
  • Like a lot of Baby Boomer college graduates, after college he was an officer in the United States Navy for seven years, first serving on the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific Fleet (in 1980, the Foster was redeployed to the Persian Gulf during the aborted Desert One mission to rescue American hostages being held in Iran); unlike a lot of Baby Boomers he then served as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.
  • While at the Pentagon, he obtained a master's degree in national security studies from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
  • After leaving the Navy Bannon received a Master of Business Administration degree with honors in 1985 from Harvard Business School.
  • After Harvard he worked as a mergers and acquisitions banker with Goldman Sachs beginning at the peak of Wall Street's hostile takeover and junk bond booms and after achieving the title of vice-president, in 1990 Bannon and some Goldman colleagues left to launch a media-focused boutique investment bank called Bannon & Co. before it was purchased in 1998 by French bank Société Générale.
  • From 1993 to 1995, while still managing Bannon & Co., Bannon was made acting director of the Earth-science research project Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona; under Bannon, the project shifted emphasis from researching space exploration and colonization toward pollution and global warming.
  • In 2006 Bannon persuaded Goldman Sachs to invest in a company known as Internet Gaming Entertainment, a company that made its name and fortune as an online marketplace to sell virtual gold to World of Warcraft players and other online gamers; following a lawsuit, the company was rebranded as Affinity Media and Bannon took over as Chairman and CEO from 2007 through 2011; Bannon was involved in Hollywood for several years, financing and producing films while gradually getting more and more involved in Breitbart.
  • Bannon became a Director of Cambridge Analytica which describes itself as a unique mix of data scientists, engineers, marketing specialists, political strategists and research psychologists; Cambridge Analytica was involved in 44 U.S. congressional, US Senate, and state-level elections in the 2014 midterm elections working with the John Bolton Super PAC which advanced Bolton's pro-war national security agenda.
  • Bannon has been married three times; with his first wife Cathleen Houff Jordan he has one daughter, Maureen Bannon who is a West Point graduate and lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division who has served in Iraq; Bannon had twin daughters with his second wife, Mary Louise Piccard, an investment banker. 
Bannon served in the Navy in his late 20's and early 30's which can be critical years for forming adult behavior patterns. One report indicates:
“He constantly used military terms, used military terms to describe people who worked for him… like, ‘grunts,’” one former Breitbart staffer recalled. “He always spoke in terms of aggression. It was always on-the-attack, double down... macho stuff. Steve has an obsession with testosterone.”

“Steve is a strong militarist, he’s in love with war—it’s almost poetry to him,” Jones told The Daily Beast in an interview last year, well before Trump won the election and Bannon landed his new job. “He’s studied it down through the ages, from Greece, through Rome... every battle, every war… Never back down, never apologize, never show weakness… He lives in a world where it’s always high noon at the O.K. Corral.”
Bannon has been said to have a love affair with war - not from any direct experience getting shot at, just a little-boy-pro-war bent offered from an ideologue's armchair view. Listen and learn when on his radio show in a March 2016 discussion with Neoliberal Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation he justifies the U.S. starting an inevitable war with China in order to save face because of a perceived insult:

Because he talks rapidly with a lot of emotion, here is a transcript:
We’re going to war in the South China Sea. I was a sailor there. We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years. There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea. That's a throwdown, is it not sir.
One might be tempted to dismiss this as rhetoric to make a radio show appeal to a particular audience. After all, it conflicts with what would be called the Administration's  February 2017 "China policy."

On February 10 we saw this headline in the Washington Post Backing away from a fight, Trump to honor one-China policy which offers:
President Trump just backed down from what could have been a serious fight with China.

On Thursday evening in Washington, he appeared to shy away from confrontation with Beijing by agreeing to honor the one-China policy, during a lengthy telephone call with China’s President Xi Jinping.

The move is set to ease tensions between the world’s two most powerful nations: relations had been inflamed after Trump suggested he would only commit to the one-China policy if Beijing addressed his concerns about trade and currency issues.
On the same date theXinhua News Agency, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China, in a story with this headline Xi, Trump agree to boost win-win cooperation, develop constructive China-U.S. ties, told us:
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump pledged Friday to boost win-win cooperation in a variety of areas and develop a constructive China-U.S. relationship.

Trump expressed his satisfaction with the close communication the two sides have maintained since he took office and admiration toward the Chinese people for the historic accomplishment they have achieved in developing their country.

Developing U.S.-China ties has won wide support from the U.S. people, Trump said, adding that the two countries, as cooperative partners, can make joint efforts to help the bilateral relationship reach an unprecedented level.

The United States is committed to enhancing win-win cooperation with China in economy, trade, investment and international affairs, Trump said.
USA Today provided commentary:
Trump’s pullback from his provocative words and softer tone after accusations against China of unfair trade and militarism in the South China Sea could be a negotiating tactic, said Michael Auslin, a China analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Until this week, Trump seemed to go out of his way to antagonize Xi. After his election, he took a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s president, which is a break in protocol under "one China." He then used Twitter and interviews with Fox News to assail China’s military installations in disputed waters in the South China Sea, its failure to control North Korea's nuclear weapons development and China's unbalanced trade policies toward the United States.

Trump politely repeated the "one China" mantra of previous U.S. administrations "to make Xi Jinping happy," said Richard Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Arlington, Va. “What America has to do in order to deter China from here on out is not going to make (Xi) happy at all.”

At stake is whether Trump will acquiesce to China’s long-term goal of pushing the U.S. out of Asia and become the world’s sole and dominant superpower, Fisher said. If that "underlying tension" is not dealt with now, the U.S. will “face the prospect of real disaster in the not-to-distant future.”
So here we are with a question. Was Bannon's expressed opinion about war with China irrelevant?
Bannon is an ideologue who is creating policy for Rust Belt President Donald Trump as White House chief strategist. That position already made him one of the most powerful people on the planet.

Nonetheless, over the last weekend in January 2017, he was given more power as explained in The New York Times:
But the defining moment for Mr. Bannon came Saturday night in the form of an executive order giving the rumpled right-wing agitator a full seat on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council — while downgrading the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence, who will now attend only when the council is considering issues in their direct areas of responsibilities. It is a startling elevation of a political adviser, to a status alongside the secretaries of state and defense, and over the president’s top military and intelligence advisers.

In theory, the move put Mr. Bannon, a former Navy surface warfare officer, admiral’s aide, investment banker, Hollywood producer and Breitbart News firebrand, on the same level as his friend, Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, a former Pentagon intelligence chief who was Mr. Trump’s top adviser on national security issues before a series of missteps [resulted in his resignation].
About China, as Bannon well knows, there is a model for behaving aggressively towards another country then moderating. In fact one might think Trump's "backing down" from his China threats is akin to the methods used by Hitler when the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was signed as a delaying tactic to give Germany time to achieve other goals before engaging in a surprise invasion of Russia. But Hitler had an ideology that favored war. He wrote several early works on his beliefs before at age 36 he completed Mein Kampf which published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, eight years before he became Chancellor of Germany; in it he wrote:
"The soil on which we now live was not a gift bestowed by Heaven on our forefathers. But they had to conquer it by risking their lives. So also in the future our people will not obtain territory, and therewith the means of existence, as a favour from any other people, but will have to win it by the power of a triumphant sword."
Donald Trump has not written an ideological doctrine book nor has he publicly embraced any ideology. One review of his eight books (all but one openly co-written or ghost written) offered that the only consistent theme is: “We need a leader that wrote ‘The Art of the Deal,’ Trump declared during his presidential campaign announcement in June, and he has repeatedly cited that 1987 book in other appearances"; from his media interviews, his"speechifying" and his "tweeting" one can see that he has held conflicting views lacking a clear ideological orientation; with regard to war, all we have is in The America We Deserve by Donald J. Trump with David Shiflett (2000):
My rules of engagement are pretty simple. If we are going to intervene in a conflict it had better pose a direct threat to our interest- one definition of “direct” being a threat so obvious that most Americans will know where the hot spot is on the globe and will quickly understand why we are getting involved. The threat should be so direct that our leaders, including our president, should be able to make the case clearly and concisely....At the same time, we must not get involved in a long-festering conflict for humanitarian reasons.
On the other hand, Bannon has a different backstory that would allow him to define Trumpism in different ways. And he has an ideology that seems to appeal to Trump as explained here:
“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.

“Lenin,” he answered, “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.”

As the Bolshevik leader once said, “The art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive.”
Which brings us full circle back to the Democrats. The Democrats in power think the blathering media are important. Apparently they are too stupid to realize that of the 330,000,000+ Americans, less than 1% are watching Fox News and ranks #107 in "news and media websites" in terms of internet traffic. If you are evaluating what to focus on to win elections, forget either one of those. They didn't win the election for Trump, though Democratic politicians and liberal media talking heads focusing on those right wing news outlets allow those outlets to create the conversation.

Be smart like Steve Bannon and focus on using Facebook and other social media sites. You see, listed above is the fact that he is on the Board of Directors of Cambridge Analytica. You probably don't know who they are, but using their tool psychometric profiling, they divided the US population into 32 personality types and focused on just 17 states to get Trump elected.

CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander James Ashburner Nix, 41, on September 19, 2016, in a lecture outlining why 20th Century blanket advertising is dead:  "My children will certainly never, ever understand this concept of mass communication."

Nix has also explained: "We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America—220 million people." Cambridge Analytica wants to become a key player in marketing and advertising, not just politics. From their webiste, you can see this:

If you're interested in how the world was radically changed by a young PhD candidate Michal Kosinski beginning in 2008 read The Data That Turned the World Upside Down which includes the following:
"In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump's campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to 'suppress' their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These 'dark posts'—sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example."
A recent Forbes writer said about the Trump Campaign and Cambridge Analytica:
I speculated that this apparent lack of interest beating his opponent at the data-crunching game was likely to be a hindrance at the last leg of the contest, when he would be in a head-to-head race with a Democrat with access to the same data and technology as Obama had at his disposal.

Well, it turns out that what I (or most other people) didn’t know was that Trump – while vocally proclaiming that he thought personality, not processing power would win the election – would just weeks later quietly engage the services of UK data analytics providers Cambridge Analytica. I say “quietly” as this was actually done by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, through a group he set up to campaign on Trump’s behalf.

Kushner is said to have been the brains behind Trump’s election technology strategy but is also a recent adoptee of Big Data. He became aware of the power of online marketing while experimenting with Facebook targeted advertising, and noticing how quickly he could increase sales of his father-in-law’s branded merchandise by a factor of 10 – from $8,000 to $80,000 per day – simply by refining the target demographic.

Trump’s data campaign followed a different strategy than the Democrat one which had been credited with playing a large part in securing the last two elections. Obama’s operation focused on identifying swing voters who could go either way, in areas with a likelihood of high voter turnout. Trump’s campaign, on the other hand, centred around deciding which of his key political platforms – for example cutting immigration or “draining the swamp” of corrupt or incompetent politicians and bureaucrats – would work best with segmented voter groups. Once up and running at the end of the summer, it was soon sending out tailored messages to 100,000 targeted voters every day.
What the writer of that story either did not know or failed to report is important - Steve Bannon has been on the Board of Directors of Cambridge Analytica since its creation. On August 17, 2016, Bannon was appointed chief executive of Donald Trump's campaign. The Forbes story says "the Trump data campaign" was "up and running at the end of summer." Perhaps that timing was just a coincidence.

It is not as if there is no warning. We have been given a picture of what goes on in his mind such as this from The Hollywood Reporter Ringside With Steve Bannon at Trump Tower as the President-Elect's Strategist Plots "An Entirely New Political Movement" (Exclusive):
"Darkness is good," says Bannon, who amid the suits surrounding him at Trump Tower, looks like a graduate student in his T-shirt, open button-down and tatty blue blazer — albeit a 62-year-old graduate student. "Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they" — I believe by "they" he means liberals and the media, already promoting calls for his ouster — "get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing."

On that precise point, The New York Times, in a widely circulated article, will describe this day at Trump Tower as a scene of "disarray" for the transition team. In fact, it's all hands on: Mike Pence, the vice president-elect and transition chief, and Reince Priebus, the new chief of staff, shuttling between full conference rooms; Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and by many accounts his closest adviser, conferring in the halls; Sen. Jeff Sessions in and out of meetings on the transition team floor; Rudy Giuliani upstairs with Trump (overheard: "Is the boss meeting-meeting with Rudy or just shooting the shit?"), and Bannon with a long line of men and women outside his corner office. If this is disarray, it's a peculiarly focused and organized kind.

It's the Bannon theme, the myopia of the media — that it tells only the story that confirms its own view, that in the end it was incapable of seeing an alternative outcome and of making a true risk assessment of the political variables — reaffirming the Hillary Clinton camp's own political myopia. This defines the parallel realities in which liberals, in their view of themselves, represent a morally superior character and Bannon — immortalized on Twitter as a white nationalist, racist, anti-Semite thug — the ultimate depravity of Trumpism.

The focus on Bannon, if not necessarily the description, is right. He's the man with the idea. If Trumpism is to represent something intellectually and historically coherent, it's Bannon's job to make it so. In this, he could not be a less reassuring or more confusing figure for liberals — fiercely intelligent and yet reflexively drawn to the inverse of every liberal assumption and shibboleth.
That last paragraph summarizes why we should fear Bannon.

At the end of the article Bannon is quoted as saying: "I am Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors."

While some called Cromwell a doctrinaire hack, others consider him the presiding genius handling the break with Rome and creating the laws and administrative procedures that reshaped post-Reformation England by translating royal supremacy into parliamentary terms, creating powerful new organs of government to take charge of Church lands, and largely removing the medieval features of central government.

Bannon should keep in mind that despite his successes as an insider revolutionary, ultimately Cromwell was executed by the ruler he served.

Nonetheless, that self-characterization should remind us to keep in mind that Bannon:
  • Is the White House Chief Strategist.
  • Advocates a disruptive political revolution as defined by Lenin "to destroy the state" and "to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment."
  • Believes Lenin's statement “the art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive" which we must recognize in the context that Bannon is an expert on using big data to target propaganda to generate public political support for political goals including warfare.
  • Favors Militarism (his daughter is a West Point graduate serving in the 101st Airborn, a fact that must reflect on her father in some way) and he believes in going to war "to save face."
  • Sits on the National Security Council alongside the Secretaries of State and Defense, and over the President’s top military and intelligence advisers.
  • Expects, perhaps even relishes the prospect of, a war with China before the end of Trump's second term, which could easily be triggered as I will explore in a future post.