Steve Bannon named runner-up for Campaign Manager of the Year

Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon

Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon

Congratulations to Stephen Bannon, who has clinched the runner-up position in this year’s Combat! blog award for Best Campaign Manager by registering to vote at a house where he never lived. The Guardian found him registered at a Miami home he once rented for his ex-wife, now vacant and scheduled for demolition. Bannon is a former editor at Breitbart news, which has made a pet issue of voter fraud in recent years, so I know what you’re thinking: Is this his only ex-wife? Nah—the newly minted CEO of Donald Trump For President also divorced Mary Louise Piccard, whom he impregnated in 1994 and then married just as soon as amniocentesis could prove the fetus was healthy. Per the New York Post:

Bannon had allegedly also earlier told Picccard, who was then his girlfriend and the expectant mother of their twin girls, that he would only agree to marry her if the kids were “normal.” He married her on April 14, 1995, three days before the twins were born.

“Bannon made it clear that he would not marry me just because I was pregnant. I was scheduled for an amniocentesis and was told by the respondent that if the babies were normal we would get married,” Piccard claimed in a document. “After the test showed that the babies were normal the respondent sent over a prenuptial agreement for me to review.”

That’s amore! In Bannon’s defense, though, it is much easier to abandon the mother of your disabled children if you aren’t married. It’s too bad these two didn’t work out, but at least she’ll always have her memory of the moment when he got down on one knee and sent over that prenuptial agreement. And Bannon will always have his Combat! Blog Campaign Manager of the Year: Second Place 2016 trophy. Congratulations to this year’s first-place winner, Robby Mook, who continues to win by not fucking up.

As Trump founders, Gianforte mailer strives to imitate him

The mailer Greg Gianforte, Republican for governor of Montana, sent last week

The mailer Greg Gianforte, Republican for governor of Montana, sent last week

Yes, that’s Governor Steve Bullock, letting terrorist refugees from war-torn stock photos just loom over the mountains of Montana. He refuses to use his power as governor to ban Syrians. Greg Gianforte, on the other hand, promises to stop refugee resettlement—presumably after he takes a job at the State Department, since the governor of Montana does not have the authority to prevent foreign nationals with valid visas from entering the state.

That’s one problem with the mailer above, which the Gianforte campaign sent out last week. Another problem is that it arrived in Missoula at roughly the same time as a family of refugees from the Congo, where Islamist militias are targeting Christians. Welcome to Montana, scared and exhausted family of six! One of our two candidates for governor has promised to prevent you.

The third problem with this mailer is tactical. I don’t know whether Gianforte or Bullock is ahead right now. No one does, because Montana is too big and empty to poll. But Bullock has the advantage of incumbency, and Gianforte has the disadvantage of the giant albatross perched atop his ticket. Donald Trump won the Montana primary with 74% of the vote, after all the other candidates dropped out. The candidate who got the most donations from individuals within the state was Ben Carson. Wild for guns and freedom though they are, Montana Republicans prefer a soft-spoken type. They’re ranchers and small business people, and the immigrants with whom they compete are mostly Canadian. A lot of them are likely to stay home this year, because the Republican candidate for president is a shit-eating wildman.

Why, then, would Gianforte emulate him with this mailer? Low-information xenophobes are already turning out. He should be pitching his appeal to the lifelong Republicans in this state who are disappointed in the top of their ticket. He should show the Rotary Club wing of his party why he’s still worth voting for, even if Trump isn’t. Arab-baiting appeals to public ignorance are not the way to do it. That’s what I think, anyway; only November will tell. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.

Over half Clinton’s non-government meetings were with foundation donors

Hillary Clinton hears the beat to "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" for the first time.

Hillary Clinton hears the beat to “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” for the first time.

More than half the people outside of government whom Hillary Clinton met in her capacity as Secretary of State were donors to the Clinton foundation, the Associated Press reported yesterday. Beware autoplay video with sound at the other end of this link. According to the AP’s review of State Department calendars:

At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs.

Does that mean Secretary Clinton sold access to State in exchange for donations to her foundation? No. But if she had, she only would have needed to update about 45 percent of her calendar. Since this is an election year, we don’t have to worry about whether what she did was ethical. We only need to know what it means for the horse race.

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American press remains free to defend itself against nine-figure lawsuits

Peter Thiel makes a grasping, strangling gesture.

Peter Thiel makes a grasping, strangling gesture.

The New York-based gossip website Gawker.com shut down yesterday, after its parent company, Gawker Media, lost a $140 million lawsuit to Hulk Hogan. Univision purchased Gawker Media from bankruptcy and will continue publishing many sites in the network, including Deadspin and Gizmodo, but the flagship has been eliminated. Yesterday, former executive features editor Tom Scocca published this scathing postmortem advancing two points, one of which I find more interesting than the other. First, he contends that Gawker was effectively gaslighted by its enemies, who convinced founder Nick Denton and other key members of the staff that they really were operating beyond the pale of respectable journalism. That seems both plausible and unfalsifiable. Second, and more compellingly, Scocca suggests that freedom of the press is complicated when billionaires can fund massive lawsuits designed to put media companies out of business. Background and consideration after the jump.

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Autostraddle retracts Sausage Party review, citing problematic taco

Selma Hayek plays a sexually ambiguous taco in Sausage Party.

Selma Hayek plays a sexually ambiguous taco in Sausage Party.

The problem with going on hiatus is that you invariably miss the year’s most important events, e.g. controversies over racial/sexual overtones in talking food. Probably, you already heard that Sausage Party has been added to the long list of Seth Rogen movies we agree to remember as funny. The film garnered mostly positive reviews, including one from Autostraddle written by a freelancer and subsequently unpublished. The site took down that review and ran a lengthy retraction/apology last week. It reads, in part:

After we published the review, we heard from Latinx readers who believe the portrayal of Salma Hayek’s taco was racist and that it reinforced harmful stereotypes. We heard from readers who were upset that we labeled the taco a lesbian when it seems more likely that she was bisexual. We heard from readers who questioned the consent of the sexual encounter between the taco and the hot dog bun. We heard from readers who found the taco to be a damaging portrayal of a predatory queer woman.

They are not kidding.

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