Review, notes & thoughts on audiobook Bannon by Keith Koffler

By: Keith Koffler
Narrated by: William LeRoy
Length: 5 hrs and 37 mins
Release date: 11-13-17

Introduction

I thought I’d give the Bannon book a go when I heard an interview of him on Australian television talking about the possible threat of China, trade war & otherwise, and thought… ‘wow, this guy is actually incredibly well spoken and seems to have some good points’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVra2ncC-ss

Then I thought to myself about all the times I heard him quoted as a racist & a bigot, and… as a Nazi sympathiser etc…. and thought… ‘I wonder how much all of that is true?’  ‘let’s watch some of the full videos with him, … not just the news articles, and see how much sense this guy is actually making, and how much of what I’ve heard in the news has been taken out of context’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAfm5L_DOLM

The videos I watched essentially showed that so much of what is known about him is taken out of context and so some extents just vilification by the media.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G70NhmvufRM

Now this is nothing new, everyone should be aware that the media is biased and has been promoting popularist opinions as facts or as ‘genuine news’ for the last decade or so. But, you often get so inundated with the mass of common opinions on the topic that you begin to believe that they must be true.

Turns out that quote by Bannon stating ‘we are going to war with China’.   Was actually part of a question, ‘we are going to war with china, aren’t we?’ …The ‘news’ source basterdised a question to turn it into a statement, and in doing so completely changed the meaning and feeling of the person that spoke it.  That’s pretty low. But… as it turns out, happens all the time.

I wouldn’t go as far as Donald Trump to say ‘fake news, fake news’; but in reality we are all slightly aware that there’s some massive embellishments in the news.

So in listening to this book, was …. Let’s get the whole story on who this man actually is, or at least the opinion from the other side of the coin.

Style of writing

The book is NOT written by Bannon himself, its written by Keith Koffler who interviews not just Bannon, but friends, former colleagues, former classmates & business partners and gives context to events happening at the time, such as the Breitbart news scandals etc.

It’s a biography, so it traces Bannon growing up, his family structure, family values, education, friends made, values he had growing up etc, work ethic, and follows him right until he left the Trump administration to pursue the ‘china threat’ with his own terms.

Although most of it is enlightening, I feel like some sections are quite glossed over, like why exactly he decided to leave the Trump administration.  For the most part it seems unbiased but some sections seem like you’re viewing events through rose tainted glasses.

Recommendation

I would definitely recommend this book.  If you’ve been suspicious of the media, or are justifiably cynical that what they tell you on the news in 6 minute segments is exactly the whole truth….. then this book is for you.

More education in terms of getting the other side of the story, is not a bad thing.

It’s well written, its well narrated, its reasonably short, and you learn a lot about a pretty well educated, inquisitive and for the most part a man with a high moral value.

It can be one of those bi-partisan books where … when you actually pay attention you realise there’s a lot of things you actually agree with him on. “It’s not just I like blue, blue is right therefore red is wrong.” Both sides have good things, both sides have bad things, Bannon is pretty much standing as a well learned independent and seems to be setting the administration on the right path for the things that he gives credence to.

At the end of the day it will make you look at the media with a keener eye… which is what we all should be doing in the 1st place.  If they (the media) can do this to Bannon, he’s surely not the only one.

Happy listening/ reading!

Knock on effects for me

More reading into what ‘The Muslim Ban’ was actually all about.

More reading into what the Trans-pacific partnership’ was about.

Reading into what Trumps official written down policies were before the election got started. (He talks a lot of shit, fair enough… but what was he actually going for on paper?

https://www.politiplatform.com/trump

I would say some key ones like ‘Allow states to legalise marijuana if they chose to do so’; legalise drugs to take profit away from Cartels’ made me realise that this issue was never talked about in the media… and of course it’s an incredibly important one, especially after having read The War On Drugs and the conclusions drawn from that.

His policies on gun control & the border wall I don’t agree with though.. But read through the list, and I think you’ll be surprised.

More understanding of Bannon’s ideas on China, America’s foreign interventions (wants to pull back from that, focus more on America 1st), military, plight of the common people, economic stability etc)

I went to a Trump ‘intellectual discussion’ 2 weeks ago to hear what other people had to say about Trump, and for me… really to see if people that considered themselves intellectuals, were getting the whole picture when it came to Trump & the current situation… or were simply believing whatever they heard/ read/ saw from the News networks?

It was about as I thought, people were arguing from a perspective of ‘Well I don’t like Trump, so everything he does must be the wrong decision’  – which is of course stupid, and not necessarily the case at all.

Lots of discussion of if he’s a racist, with people not actually knowing what the word racist means.  Many people pointing out his comments for the Charlottesville riot without understanding how America or ANY other country allows for protests to happen.

One lady was actually saying that ‘Trump has a terrible tanning policy’ which is of course is not a reason to think that his actions are good or not good.

At the end though, I managed to convince a few people that even though I’m still not a fan of Trump….and in my mind he still seems like a bit of a dick… luckily that’s not how the system works, and that him being a dick doesn’t necessarily translate to crappy policies. When you look at how the policies being enacted at the moment work.. from a much deeper perspective from just what the News tells you, then you begin to understand the real situation.

I feel particularly nervous in today’s world because people like this, and people far less educated are the ones that actually have the vote, 1 person, 1 vote… and with so little reasoned and educated opinion on key issues… you can tell that people might be making a decision that negatively effects them in the future just because they can’t understand the entire situation/ perspective.

In the end, having more educated, reasoned information is a great thing, thus reading/ listening to this book & then using that as a stepping stone to research more, learn more in your own time is a very worthwhile venture… build that critical mind of yours.

Throughout the book, there’s some very interesting recommendations for further reading that I’ve highlighted below.

Notes taken / interesting information gained from the book

Would Jen bush, or Marko Rubio get ahead? Not a chance, they couldn’t even see the problem, and according to Bannon people like bush were part of the problem.

Bannon’s office was just 2 doors down from Trump. Location, location, location. Bannon could be direct with trump. Similar sense of humour.

Banning is really just an advisor.

Bannon is the strategic thinker- the visionary.

The ‘Muslim Ban’ as the media dubbed it, was actually a temporary barring of refugees from certain county for 90 days.

The 7 countries that had the temporary ban were actually countries that the Obama administration highlighted as countries that had potential concern, for the reasons of having terrorist activity, & more importantly not being able to run in depth /adequate background checks etc on the refugees from the country to be sent to the USA. + The government is either this actively against the United States or in a state of turmoil, (the latter of course being the need for refugee status in the 1st place)

The 7 countries = Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen.

Policy towards Syria was, no refugees, none from Syria at all.

It wasn’t like the media suggested an actual ‘Muslim Ban’ Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia (largest Muslim country in the world) were not on the list because they were countries for which COULD have proper background checks done on the people applying to come to the USA.

David Graham – “Trump has quietly accomplished more that it appears.” (A staff write for The Atlantic news)

Bannon says… “The liberals are only focused on anti-Trump, and while they’re distracted with that… They’re missing Trump’s quiet achievements. Including policy restructures within agencies.”

Trump and Bannon view the removal from the Paris climate accord as something they both value very highly.

Plus the trans-Pacific partnership.
Me. Why were these agreements bad? Have to do some research into both these agreements.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership

Bannon says, Trump is not an isolationist, people often confuse that when looking at his America first policy. It’s just that he’s NOT a globalist.

He doesn’t want America in foreign interventions that they don’t need to get into. The Syria decision Bannon said, he did so reluctantly.

Only because his generals convinced him that from the situation he inherited, this was the best course of action.

Bannon states, “I respectfully admit that democracy is something that people take a while to be ready for. You can’t force it.”

Don’t enforce a western culture on others.

It’s a deeper respect for other cultures. Not everyone wants to be progressive and liberal like other countries.

Bannon, – “Trump doesn’t lecture other leaders, he listens. But when he thinks America is being threatened he’s quite content to be bold and assertive in defending America’s interests . (Like with North Korea) ”

When Trump got into office, he ordered a review of current operations against Isis, and demanded it be more aggressive afterwards.

Not a war of attrition, a war of annihilation.

Trump speech in Poland. Need to see it. This books makes it seem like it was quite a passionate and defending speech for western civilisation.

Leaving the white house.

The same day that Trump ordered an investigation into China’s trade policies.

Bannon believes the economic war with China is a fundamental issue.
Says, half of what he does going forward is going to be about combatting China.
Felt he could do that better outside of the Whitehouse rather than within it.

Sounds like he’s getting in physical shape.

What Bannon was trying to do was change the way the Republican party thinks from within. Be more reserved for some issues like military, but also more aggressive for foreign interference, trade violations, and illegal immigration.
He more stands for the workers. The American people first. Through him and his strategy and advice. (Not just because of him, as Trump did make his own decisions) he has been able to achieve quiet victories.

Rebel with a cause. – The cause is America.

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is 1 of his favourite books.

Bannon’s family voted democratic, go for the underdog, to represent the poorer class.

Nat, (Nathaniel) a black dude that Bannon said was the hardest worker he’d ever seen. Jogged to work each day because he didn’t have a car.

Always wanting to read more and learn more. Autodidact

Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) or self-education (also self-learning and self-teaching) is education without the guidance of masters (such as teachers and professors) or institutions (such as schools). Generally, an autodidact is an individual who chooses the subject they will study, their studying material, and the studying rhythm and time. An autodidact may or may not have formal education, and their study may be either a complement or an alternative to it. Many notable contributions have been made by autodidacts.
(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism)

Went to an all-male Catholic military school. Lots of discipline.

“Steve is the defense guy, the guy challenging the system”

“Steve didn’t have a sexist or racist bone in his body”

Was very liberal in university working for the working class.

Was against the Vietnam war. Because it wasn’t in America s national interest.

Served 7 years in the Navy.

Kept a tally if the ‘misery index’ which skyrocketed under Carter.

The misery index is an economic indicator, created by economist Arthur Okun. The index helps determine how the average citizen is doing economically and it is calculated by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate. It is assumed that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation create economic and social costs for a country
(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misery_index_(economics) )

Reagan built a 600 ship navy?

Was reading the Wall Street Journal when in the Navy.
Was in great shape in the Navy.

Got a Master’s degree in National Security Studies + Harvard MBA.

Is a multi-millionaire, part because of his stake in the TV show Seinfield, part because of his other ventures.

Worked at Goldman Sachs. Investment banker, mergers and acquisitions.

Competitive advantage is that he could both out-think and out-work people.

The Bannon constantly uses white boards, to show policies and promises, and check them off.

Has part stake in Seinfeld TV show, which continues to make him millions of dollars due to syndication & re-run rights.

Took managing control of the Biosphere 2 project.

Changed it so that I would study the effects of Global warming. Environmental sciences used it instead of surviving in space.

Ironically he later became a global warming sceptic.

Was against the concept of ‘The Party of Davos’. A group of rich that meet every year to determine what is best for mankind.

Extra reading: https://www.thenation.com/article/party-davos/ (super interesting article)

Essentially = the super wealthy & people with power that meet at the World Economic Forum, usually held in Davos, Switzerland.
Me. Makes you think of some James Bond villains meeting

Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland. The meeting brings together some 2,500 top business leaders, international political leaders, economists, celebrities and journalists for up to four days to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Economic_Forum )

Bannon consistently worked 100 hours a week.

“He is a man that shuns ostentatious displays of wealth” , friend & former college classmate.
Quietly generous with others.

Made a bunch of documentaries.

“Islam has a problem adapting to modernity.” – Steve Bannon.

He studied Sufism.

The Fourth Turning book. (on the cyclical nature of Empires)

Thinks the world should be based on a neo-liberal model. (reductions in government spending, increase the role of the private sector)
Me.. Isn’t this against his current policy with regard to tariffs? (then again the tariffs are more to do with national security rather than government intervention)

Should be a Hamiltonian system

USA should maintain a manufacturing base.

Generation Zero- Bannon documentary.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Zero

Only watch the trailer if you want to know how not to get your message across in a trailer, by using the most amount of hyperbole, scare tactics as possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAFiaraA3Bk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsqu9gh6xhk (Whole documentary in crappy quality.)

Free trade has instead been enforced. And jobs are taken away from America.

“A country is not an economy, a country is about a culture that has an economy.”

The Republican elites want the illegal border crossing.  Because they own the infrastructure companies & use Mexican labour.

Believes that America is following in the steps of the Roman empire, and will follow the fall of it too. That power was put into the State, rather than the people. People had no sense of pride in being a citizen but they had a sense of pride for the country. And what the country had achieved (nationalism, rather than citizenship… ism) meaning when the Huns came…And started conquering parts of the world… The people of the Roman empire liked/ was comfortable the idea of the empire…But didn’t want to die for it.

Islam, he believes is the new battle. It’s historical, it’s current.

Says “we are not enemies of Islam.” (For which he calls a major great religion of the world) ..”We are enemies of the Islamists that preach a political Islam…A universal Islamic empire. And Sharia law that supersedes all else, including the law of the land.”

Says militant Islam is theocratic. And imposes itself on other societies.
The West should stand absolutely opposed to that, as a culture.
Anything the preaches sedition…It must be confronted. Shouldn’t be preaching Islamist supremacy.
Civil war in Islam between Shi’a and Sharia. The war between extremists and moderates.

“We are in need of a religious revolution”

He admits,- “that while any religion can become radicalised, or has radical elements, it’s more prevalent within Islam… You don’t see the same sort of enforcement of radical forms of Christianity nowadays.”

For Bannon it’s always America first. Stop trying to mould other countries in our own democratic image…Prefer to work on one’s own country first.

Doesn’t agree with wars in other countries. Or intervention.

Me. I think his point is, it’s just more money that’s flowing outside of the USA, that the American citizens have to pay back later.

He disputes the notion that ‘America is an idea’, rather than a country.

“America’s culture is based on a particular history, coming from particular people coming from a particular tradition. ”

We are an outpost of Judaeo Christian English speaking West; other countries have far different traditions and need to find their own way.”
“Americans are not utopians, we understand the fallibility of man so we’re not chasing some utopian society that can be applied globally.”
Me. Very insightful words and sentiment.

Me. Bannon seems to be a great studier of history, understanding not just what happened, but why…But also how these seem to work in cycles and how the lessons may be applicable today.  A true student of history, trying to make sense of the world around him.

Bannon says that WW2 was really a battle of Judaeo Christian vs atheism.
Me. But that sounds like an illogical statement to me. While it may be coincidental that that is true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a contributing factor or cause for the war.

Was Germany and was Italy non-religious?? I don’t think so, I think it was more about standing up against non-justified action and oppression…For which then got carried away…The addition of scapegoats etc.

Bannon is a great student of Thucydides. Hero of the Peloponnesian war.

Which provides lessons from an interventionist foreign policy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thucydides

The Law of Unintended Consequences. (So many books with that title, or that in the title, don’t know which he is talking about)

The Best And The Brightest “The most comprehensive saga of how America became involved in Vietnam. It is also the Iliad of the American empire and the Odyssey of this nation’s search for its idealistic soul.”

Ironically while he’s often being accused of being a Nazi, his most recent films were anti-Nazi, anti-holocaust, he stood for civil rights with Martin Luther King, and his ideas and viewpoints actually reflect anti-Nazi thinking.

Have to read Plutarch’s Lives. (Is a book, says everyone should read)  Greeks and Romans

“What you got to do is bound these guys together and get them mad”  about the readership of Breitbart. And the untapped Republicans.
Me. fair enough, this probably helped with a lot of Trump’s campaign behind the scenes.

The alt-right connection with Breitbart, was not intended. Although he once said, “Breitbart was the platform for the alt-right”.  However this was before they got together and went all racist.

At the time they were just a bunch of people on forums for the conservative thinking that were marginalised.

Ben Shapiro was a former editor of Breitbart News.

“OK… the comment section to Breitbart got a little rough”, Bannon admitted.
Me. A very understated comment

Friends, family, colleagues everyone that knows him says he’s not a bigot or racist. Many people around him are black or Jewish. Breitbart is pro Jewish.

His assistant is black.

In fact he stands up for woman’s rights and empowerment.

‘honey badger don’t give a shit’ – is the unofficial motto.

Lots of explanation on the Breitbart Trump support and the resignations of Michelle fields (groped at a Trump rally) and Ben Shapiro. And other resignations that were unhappy at the direct of the news outlet.

Michelle Fields – A reporter for Breitbart that resigned over a scandal that she claimed she was inappropriately touched at a Trump rally and that her organisation (Breitbart) & editors didn’t have her back.

“Modern political speech is about evasion, it’s aim is to pacify the votership, whilst the political elite look after their own interests”
Me. Yes, exactly.

Steven Miller = Trump’s speech writer.

Worked with Steven Miller to create the message that:

“Hilary Clinton was the Establishment, and Trump was the agent of change (a hardcore nationalist message, a hardcore populist message) she’s the representative of an elitist, ineffective, corrupt status quo, HE is an outsider agent of change, he’s a business man. ”

“Oh and it’s the economy, stupid. Trump was to stick to economics.”

Reporter covering Trump, – “Before Bannon came along Trump was about gut instincts, then it was suddenly more about policies.”
Me. Vague as they were.

‘Give people permission to vote for Trump’

First & foremost was to :

‘Turn Trump’s lack of political experience into an advantage, to present the outsider Trump as a man who could affect real change and contrast him with the corrupt insider Clinton who represented the establishment political class.’

But Bannon also decided, ‘The campaign also had to highlight traditional Republican messages that would appeal to traditional Republican conservatives’

“If you put this stuff into here about the courts and stuff they cared about as well as Trump’s own message, at least these conservative Republicans would say…Donald Trump’s terrible, but he’s not Hillary Clinton.”

‘Like courts, to deregulation, to tax reform, to boosting the nation’s military that could be deployed that would convince reluctant Republicans to vote for Trump. ‘

Charisma was Trump’s advantage over his Republican rivals.

Trump actually went to Mexico.

One of Bannon’s favourite books = Anti Fragile.

‘Hillary presented herself as the same and reliable candidate who’s supporters didn’t have to like her, but we’re commanded to respect her’