Stephen Bannon once kept a whiteboard in his office where he conspiratorially connected Hollywood films to Satan
In the beginning, there was Hollywood. Long before Stephen Bannon ever joined President Trump in the White House as chief strategist, the conservative firebrand navigated the glitz and glam of Southern California no less conspiratorially than he did his later tenure at the helm of Breitbart.
Bannon's films weren't exactly Finding Dory; think more along the lines of documentaries about eugenics, Hitler, and clones. But in 2005, he seemed "emblematic of a new wave in Hollywood, a group that intends to clean those media pipes with pictures that promote godliness, Pax Americana, and its own view of family values," The New York Times' James Ulmer wrote in a profile of Bannon.
Looking back at those conversations now, though, Ulmer admitted to The New Yorker that Bannon was a little strange:
In the Times article, Ulmer said that Bannon had told him, "We're the peasants with the pitchforks storming the lord's manor." Ulmer recalled, "He was always making these grand, hyperbolic analogies between good and evil, the culture of life versus the scourge of death that, in his view, Hollywood had become. Hollywood was the great Satan."
Ulmer met with Bannon at his Santa Monica office, where Bannon had written the names of some recent movie releases on a whiteboard. Ulmer reported that Bannon had said, "On Ash Wednesday, The Passion of the Christ is released theatrically, and on Sunday, Lord of the Rings — a great Christian allegory — wins 11 Academy Awards. So here you have Sodom and Gomorrah bowing to the great Christian God." Ulmer recalled, "I was watching him draw all these configurations and connecting lines about the Beast and Satan, and half of my brain was saying, 'This guy's a comic stitch,' and the other, 'He's really off the deep end.'" [The New Yorker]
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is learning the hard way what happens when you make moves without consulting the White House.
Several people with knowledge of the matter told Axios that President Trump was upset that Zinke went "rogue" two weeks ago and promised Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) his state would be exempt from the Interior Department's offshore oil and gas leasing program. Zinke never spoke with Trump or anyone in the administration about this, Axios says, and this could lead to legal problems — environmental groups and state attorneys general could sue the federal government, arguing it wasn't fair for just Florida to be exempt and not other coastal states.
The Eastern Gulf of Mexico next to Florida is filled with oil and gas resources, and former Interior officials told Axios they believe the Trump administration will find a way to work around Zinke's promise. Trump and Zinke have had a good relationship, and while this isn't the end of Zinke, he's been knocked down several pegs as far as the administration is concerned, Axios reports. Catherine Garcia
Congressional Republicans might want to say spasibo to the thousands of Russian bots working to make #SchumerShutdown a trending hashtag.
The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan project led by former top national security officials, says that on Sunday night, Russian Twitter bots and trolls were out in full force, and their No. 1 hashtag was #SchumerShutdown, HuffPost reports. The Alliance for Securing Democracy, which tracks the activity of 600 Twitter accounts that are linked to Russian influence operations, says these users are often spreading false information about U.S. politics and tweeting conspiracy theories.
Republicans are blaming the government shutdown on the Democrats, using #SchumerShutdown on Twitter as a way of pinning this all on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his demand for a compromise on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Democrats, meanwhile, say the shutdown is due to President Trump's shifting demands and other Republicans, who have control of the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives, refusing to work together on a bipartisan bill. Catherine Garcia
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Veep, and This Is Us were some of the big winners Sunday night at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, hosted by Kristen Bell.
Three Billboards won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, with stars Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell winning for best female actor in a leading role and best male actor in a supporting role. This Is Us won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, while star Sterling K. Brown was named best male actor in a drama series. Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus was named best female actor in a comedy series, and the show's cast took home the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Morgan Freeman also was honored with a lifetime achievement award.
The Philadelphia Eagles had a huge victory over the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7, in Sunday night's NFC championship game, and will now face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. This will be the team's third trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history. Quarterback Nick Foles completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards, with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Super Bowl LII is set for Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Catherine Garcia
With no deal reached Sunday night, the Senate adjourned and will vote at noon Monday on a bill to reopen the government for at least three weeks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wanted to hold a vote at 10 p.m. Sunday, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) objected, saying there still wasn't a plan in place that works for Democrats and Republicans. Earlier in the day, more than 20 senators from both sides of the aisle met in the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to work on a plan that would provide funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. Democrats have also said any bill that comes forward must address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The government shut down at midnight on Friday after McConnell was unable to get the 60 votes necessary for a bill to keep the government open for a month. On Monday, only federal employees deemed essential will go to work, and several services will be unavailable. Catherine Garcia
Afghan security forces announced Sunday that all six Taliban militants who took over Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday night have been killed.
At least 18 people, including 14 foreigners, were killed during the siege, and 10 were injured. The militants were wearing suicide vests and exchanged gunfire with security forces, and witnesses said they went up and down the hallways of the luxury hotel, targeting foreigners and government officials. Several of the victims were employees of KamAir, a private Afghan airline.
A spokesman for the Taliban said that originally they wanted to attack the hotel on Thursday, but they postponed their plans due to a wedding on the premises, wanting to minimize civilian casualties. Catherine Garcia
The New England Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 during Sunday's AFC championship game, sending the team to its third Super Bowl in four years.
The Patriots had a late comeback, with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Quarterback Tom Brady, who has five Super Bowl victories under his belt and has been Super Bowl MVP four times, played with an injured hand, and completed 26 of 38 passes. The Patriots will play the winner of Sunday's NFC championship game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings. Super Bowl LII is set for Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Catherine Garcia