Toxic Bannon Bane of Eco Policy

Bannon the Hutt (Photo illustration by from a character created for the Star Wars universe by Phil Tippett)

I felt a bit guilty about taking a position on the Paris climate accord on social media before fully investigating the positions of both sides. The realization that it’s okay to support, in principle, proactive tactics to protect the planet’s rapidly deteriorating environment and a U.S. leadership role in same didn’t hit me until a day after I posted a repulsive image of presidential adviser Stephen K. Bannon as “Bannon the Hutt.” Bannon was widely reported as influencing the president’s decision to pull out of the agreement, which 148 nations have ratified.

But you don’t need to do research to know, after seeing photos like the attached of our oceans, that something is terribly wrong in how we are managing our natural resources. But not to get too off topic…

Having subsequently read enough about the Paris agreement to offer an informed, if not expert, opinion, I’ll admit that while it’s not perfect, it’s pretty darn good, and to the U.S. detriment to abandon it. To do so on the part of President Trump and his administration is short-sighted and a blatant play to pander to the base, which is where the Bannon-bashing comes in.

If we believe Trump’s suggestion that he’ll continue to explore a “better deal” — one he feels is less onerous to U.S. jobs and the economy — it seems likely that he would have a better chance of changing the terms as an insider, with a seat at the table, rather than as a global pariah. To the extent that Bannon — and White House counsel Don McGahn, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — advised the president to abandon the accord, it put ideology ahead of the national (and global) good, offsetting any upside for keeping his campaign promise to voters.

A destructive promise kept is more onerous than an empty one, and Trump owes it to all U.S. citizens — not just those who voted for him — to get the facts before acting. Barring legal proceedings that remove him from office, we’re stuck with Trump for another three years and seven months (find a helpful countdown clock here). Not so his advisers.

An unrepentant optimist, I remain hopeful that public scorn, midterm elections and congressional pressure will trigger a wake-up call, and the president will begin seeking more sensible advice. To that end, it seems useful — not to mention cathartic — to share publicly derision of Bannon, who has brought his own special brand of pollution to the White House.

I’m pretty sure I’ll lose a few Facebook friends for posting the Bannon the Hutt images. Most people — me included — prefer looking at pretty pictures. But ugly images have their place, and pollution is vile. To the extent that the Jabba the Hutt character from Star Wars that inspired my Photoshop musing resembles a toxic sludge heap, it’s a fitting visual signifier for the slovenly garbage-lover Bannon.

Wikipedia describes Jabba as:  “a fictional character and an antagonist in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. He is depicted as a large, slug-like alien. His appearance has been described by film critic Roger Ebert as a cross between a toad and the Cheshire Cat.” Sounds about right. The Cheshire Cat part seems a bit generous, but to the extent that the famous feline of Alice in Wonderland is “an intelligent and mischievous character that sometimes helps Alice and sometimes gets her into trouble,” it’s probably accurate too.

“Jabba the Hutt’s image has played an influential role in popular culture, particularly in the United States. The name is used as a satirical literary device and a political caricature to underscore negative qualities such as morbid obesity and corruption.” Jabba was a gangster and crime lord and overall bad influence, according to

Let’s throw in repulsive while we’re at it. Pollution is filth, and to sacrifice planetary sustainability and cleanliness in favor of a last gasp for fuels like coal and oil is equivalent to wallowing in it. There are better ways to revive the economy of former coal towns and to usher in growth opportunities for the children of miners than propping up coal, which economists agree has suffered more as a result of cheap natural gas than eco policy (but please don’t get me started on fracking).

When I started the “Bannon the Hutt” Photoshop project three months ago, a web search produced no results. Today’s search reveals several like-minded art enthusiasts. I’m not really what one could call a Star Wars buff, but having seen the first six installments, it does seem the Galactic Senate of George Lucas’ imagination gets more done than the United Nations. So here’s hoping life will imitate art in the best possible way (and even in the lesser ways of reality TV, losers get voted off).

One of the more telling op eds in the flood of them triggered by the Paris pullout (most against, some supportive) was David Brooks’ “Donald Trump Poisons the World” in the New York Times. Brooks makes a case that Trump and advisers Gary Cohn and H.R. McMasters share a “core worldview that life is nakedly a selfish struggle for money and dominance,” with no room for altruism and community good.

Intelligent people realize that the community good is self-interested. America can do better, and so can this president if he’ll seek out better advisers. To “drain the swamp” was another campaign promise. One swamp creature conspicuously remains.

Bannon the Hut by Elegante 101

“Bannon the Hutt” interpreted by Reddit user Elegante 101


Bannon the Hut by simluOx6

“Bannon the Hut” as imagined by’s simluOx6