dancing about infrastructure


Mike Grunwald, writing in Time, in 2014:

But that’s just a bow to political reality. Republicans say nice things about infrastructure but haven’t shown any interest in paying for it. As a result, the nation has failed to take advantage of historically low interest rates to invest more in our overcrowded airports, outdated railways and flimsy bridges.


Matt O’Brien, writing in the Washington Post, this week:

“It will be as exciting as the 1930s.”

That is what Donald Trump’s chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon said about the incoming administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan. “With negative interest rates throughout the world,” he argued, “it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything” from “shipyards” to “iron works” and just “throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks.”

bob corker, on cbs this morning


This week, one of my senators from Tennessee, Bob Corker, on CBS This Morning:

“I don’t know him. I’ve never met him. Reince [Priebus] just happened to be someone who I’ve had a number of interactions with and had dinner with,” the Tennessee Republican said in an interview on “CBS This Morning” when asked why he only praised Priebus’s appointment as chief-of-staff.

Bannon is considered a leader of the alt-right movement and has been denounced by civil rights groups as someone who promotes white nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism.

“The other gentleman I just never met,” Corker said, adding that he had just listened to a CBS News report about Bannon in which he said he learned some things he didn’t know about him.


Asked about the U.S.-Russia relationship under Trump’s administration, Corker said it’s helpful when leaders of two countries “begin on a positive note.”

He said while there are some things the U.S. can collaborate on with Russia, like terrorism, “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has shown himself to be a brutal dictator-like leader, and let’s face it, has worked against our national interests.”

“Mr. Putin, himself, will have to change the way he deals with the world in order for that to be a constructive relationship,” he said.


On Bannon, not good enough.

On Putin, happy to hear you know something about him and that, at least on this point, you agree that we shouldn’t ignore the reality of the people with whom our government aligns itself.

newt gingrich thinks everyone should calm down about this bannon guy


Nov. 14th of this year. From The Independent , Newt Gingrich speaking on Face the Nation.

“But the fact is, and you get this with all these smears of Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon is a naval officer, he was a managing partner at Goldman Sachs, he was a Hollywood movie producer,” he said. “The idea that somehow he represents, and I had never heard of the alt-right until the nut cakes started writing about it.”


Here’s Steve Bannon, back in August of this year, in an interview with Sarah Posner , saying some stuff about some things of which, until the nut-cakes started writing about it, Newt had zero knowledge.

“We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon told me.


Here’s Newt again, from the Independent .

“I’m thinking, this is crazy. Donald Trump is a mainstream conservative who wants to profoundly take on the left. The left is infuriated that anybody would challenge the legitimacy of their moral superiority, and so the left goes hysterical.”


And from Politico , Newt Gingrich speaking on Fox & Friends about Bannon’s appointment.

“Let me just start and say that everybody who is for Donald Trump and everybody who wants Donald Trump to succeed should cue off the mainstream media. If the mainstream media hates something, it’s probably a really good idea,” Gingrich said. “I mean, let’s be clear: They are the mortal opponents of what Trump is trying to achieve.”


From The National Review , that very left-leaning, totally mainstream media outlet, here’s Ian Tuttle.

The Left, with its endless accusations of “racism” and “xenophobia” and the like, has blurred the line between genuine racists and the millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump because of a desire for greater social solidarity and cultural consensus. It is not “racist” to want to strengthen the bonds uniting citizens to their country.

But the alt-right is not a “fabrication” of the media. The alt-right is a hodgepodge of philosophies that, at their heart, reject the fundamental principle that “all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” The alt-right embraces an ethno-nationalism that has its counterparts in the worst of the European far-right: Golden Dawn in Greece, or Hungary’s Jobbik. (It’s no coincidence that Bannon spent time this summer praising “the women of the Le Pen family” on London radio, referring to the head of France’s National Front and her niece, a FN member of the French Parliament.) And while this by no means excuses smashing shop windows to protest a legitimate election result, as rioters spent the weekend doing in the Pacific Northwest, it’s also the case that not every Trump detractor is as devoid of cerebral matter as Lena Dunham. If ethnic and religious minorities are worried, it’s in part because Donald Trump and his intimates have spent the last several months winking at one of the ugliest political movements in America’s recent history.


To conservative and liberal alike, that he has the ear of the next president of the United States (a man of no particular convictions, and loyal to no particular principles) should be a source of grave concern — and an occasion for common cause in the crucial task of the years to come: vigilance.


You should go read all of Ian Tuttle’s thoughts.

you keep using that word


President Elect Trump picked Steve Bannon to be his chief strategist. Here’s a good profile of him and the alt-right , found via Next Draft .

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a good overview of Breitbart, the website Bannon ran for the last several years.

Sarah Posner, writing in Mother Jones , quotes one of the former editors of Breitbart.

“Andrew Breitbart despised racism. Truly despised it,” former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wrote last week on the Daily Wire, a conservative website. “With Bannon embracing Trump, all that changed. Now Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [technology editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”

And she continues.

Trump’s new campaign chief denies that the alt-right is inherently racist. He describes its ideology as “nationalist,” though not necessarily white nationalist. Likening its approach to that of European nationalist parties such as France’s National Front, he says, “If you look at the identity movements over there in Europe, I think a lot of [them] are really ‘Polish identity’ or ‘German identity,’ not racial identity.

Bannon dismisses the alt-right’s appeal to racists as happenstance. “Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe,” he says. “Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that’s just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements.”


During our interview, Bannon took credit for fomenting “this populist nationalist movement” long before Trump came on the scene. He credited Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)—a Trump endorser and confidant who has suggested that civil rights advocacy groups were “un-American” and “Communist-inspired”—with laying the movement’s groundwork.


Bannon, himself, has expressed in the past his doubts over the continued problem of racism in the United States.

“I don’t think it’s a systemic race problem in this country,” Bannon continued after Hunter pressed him repeatedly about the legacy of racial disparity in America. “My own life experience. I’ve just seen in communities like Richmond, Virginia and in the United States military when I was a naval officer,” Bannon later said. “I don’t see systemic racism in the military. I don’t see systemic racism in these communities.”

“Cities like Richmond and Baltimore and Philadelphia have black mayors, have black city councils, have black police commissioners. How can it be systemically racist if these men and women today are actually in control of the city?” Bannon questioned.


Ashley Carman, reporting in The Verge , of a year-ago interview between President Elect Trump and Bannon.

Trump voiced concern over these students attending Ivy League schools and then going home: “We have to be careful of that, Steve. You know, we have to keep our talented people in this country,” Trump said.

When asked if he agreed, Bannon responded: “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think . . . ” he didn’t finish his sentence. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”

While Bannon didn’t explicitly say anything against immigrants, he seemed to hint at the idea of a white nationalist identity with the phrase “civic society.” Taken in tandem with the stories Bannon allowed to go up on Breitbart News, including pieces that attacked women, feminists, political correctness, muslims, and trans people, Bannon’s comment wouldn’t come as a surprise.


You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.