Donald Trump

Tech elite sent to Trump Tower

Tuesday, 13 December, 2016 0 Comments

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will be there, as will Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz and technology investor Peter Thiel. Making up the list is Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, CEO and chairman of Google parent Alphabet, respectively. We’re talking about the meeting between President-elect Donald Trump and tech-industry executives today in New York.

Apart from Thiel, the Silicon Valley elite backed Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, so sackcloth, ashes and humble pie will be handed out to them by liveried footmen as they trudge up the steps of Trump Tower.

Like most journalists, Kara Swisher of Recode is a certified Trump hater, and the headline on her piece ticks all the bias boxes: “As Trumplethinskin lets down his hair for tech, shame on Silicon Valley for climbing the Tower in silence.” Here’s how she imagines the thoughts of the Valley elites upon being summoned to Manhattan:

“Fuckfuckfuck — now I have to become a reality show star in a new episode of ‘The Apprentice: Nerd Edition,’ bowing and scraping to that luddite Trump, who will probably simultaneously berate us in person and bully us on Twitter later with a lot of poop emoticons. Even worse, I have to act like Thiel is a genius, which he kind of is for backing a man who called serious and sophisticated hacking incursions by sovereign nations ‘the cyber’ and said ‘somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds’ — did he mean the bed or the hacker? I have no idea still — could have pulled it off.”

As regards tech, Trump has come down hard on issues considered vital to the industry’s interests, including trade and immigration. The Trump administration will possibly restrict the number of workers who enter the US with an H-1B visa — a type used by many tech employees. Incidentally, that’s the visa Donald Trump’s wife Melania received in 1996 to legally work in the US.

Etymology note: The expression “sent to the Tower” traditionally meant being imprisoned or punished in the Tower of London.


Donald Trump, Political Innovator

Friday, 2 December, 2016 0 Comments

“The next US president, Donald Trump, seems to be a textbook political innovator. During a period when his party was quite up for grabs with many contenders, he worked his crowds, taking a wide range of vague positions that varied over time, and often stepped over taboo lines. In the process, he surprised everyone by discovering a new coalition that others had not tried to represent, a group that likes him more for this representation than his personal features.”

Says who? Says Robin Hanson, associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute at of Oxford University. So, does the election of Donald Trump herald the Apocalypse? Not quite, says Hanson, who argues that disruption does not mean End Times:

“Many have expressed great anxiety about Trump’s win, saying that he is is bad overall because he induces greater global and domestic uncertainly. In their mind, this includes a higher chances of wars, coups, riots, collapse of democracy, and so on. But overall these seem to be generic consequences of political innovation. Innovation in general is disruptive and costly in the short run, but can aide adaptation in the long run.”

Robin Hanson clearly believes that innovation is good for the body politic and he offers these words of comfort to the anti-Trump factions in their time of grief and denial:

“So you can dislike Trump for two very different reasons, First, you can dislike innovation on the other side of the political spectrum, as you see that coming at the expense of your side. Or, or you can dislike political innovation in general. But if innovation is the process of adapting to changing conditions, it must be mostly a question of when, not if. And less frequent innovations are probably bigger changes, which is probably more disruptive overall.”

All that’s from “Trump, Political Innovator,” which Robin Hanson posted on 17 November on his excellent blog, Overcoming Bias. It’s included in the Rainy Day blogroll.


Michael Wolff goes to Wolf Hall in Manhattan

Saturday, 19 November, 2016 3 Comments

“The real business of journalism, or at least a major sideline, is envy of those who get lucky,” writes the columnist Michael Wolff. “Nice to be the lucky one this time,” he adds. Wolff was responding to a barrage of Twitter criticism directed at his scoop interview for the Hollywood Reporter with Steve Bannon, chief strategist and Senior Counselor for the Presidency of Donald Trump. It’s a remarkable piece of reportage and one that will send shivers down the liberal spine. Snippet:

“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.”

But now the tables have been turned. Bannon is in Trump Tower and world leaders are booking suites above his office in the hope of getting access to his boss, the US President-elect. It’s a revolution and heads are going to roll:

“Bannon represents, he not unreasonably believes, the fall of the establishment. The self-satisfied, in-bred and homogenous views of the establishment are both what he is against and what has provided the opening for the Trump revolution. ‘The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what’s wrong with this country,’ he continues. ‘It’s just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no f—ing idea what’s going on. If The New York Times didn’t exist, CNN and MSNBC would be a test pattern. The Huffington Post and everything else is predicated on The New York Times. It’s a closed circle of information from which Hillary Clinton got all her information — and her confidence. That was our opening.'”

And now? And next? Time to read some of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which documents the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII. Steve Bannon has read it and understood it and intends to live it.

“I am,” he says, with relish, “Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors.” Some five hundred years from now, a lucky journalist might conduct an interview that concludes, “I am,” he says, with relish, “Steve Bannon in the court of the Trumps.”