Monday, October 02, 2017

The Mercers Would Like To Create A Fascist U.S. And They've Hired Bannon To Help Them-- Could Work


Bannon Unleashed by Nancy Ohanian

Alabama isn't the U.S. In fact, Alabama is barely part of the U.S. A month after the election of one of America's greatest presidents, Alabama had embarked on the road to secession. In December 1860, Stephen Hale, Alabama's commissioner to Kentucky, wrote to the Kentucky governor bitching about blacks. "[I]n the South, where in many places the African race largely predominates, and, as a consequence, the two races would be continually pressing together, amalgamation, or the extermination of the one or the other, would be inevitable. Can Southern men submit to such degradation and ruin? God forbid that they should... [T]he election of Mr. Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration, on the part of a great majority of the Northern people, of hostility to the South, her property and her institutions-- nothing less than an open declaration of war-- for the triumph of this new theory of Government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans." The state called a secession convention in January, 1861 and seceded over one overriding issue, preserving slavery and racism. There are some in Alabama who have changed, but, judging by the state's electoral outcomes, most most haven't. Take the Trumpanzee election. Alabama voted for Señor Trumpanzee 1,318,255 (62.08%) to 729,547 (34.36%). How did Hillary get so many votes? She won landslides in the Black Belt counties, like Macon (82.49%), Bullock (74.96%), Greene (82.21%) and Lowndes (73.05%). Most of Alabama's black vote has been segregated by gerrymander into Terri Sewell's 7th district, which is 64% black and contains all 11 of Alabama's black-majority districts. Hillary did nearly as well as Obama had in 2008 and 2012-- 69.8% in AL-07. But let's contrast AL-07 to the whitest district in the state, Robert Aderholt's north central Klan haven (7.2% black), AL-04. Romney took that one in 2012, 74.3% to 24.7% and Hillary did even worse. Trumpanzee won the district 80.4% to 17.4%.

Last week, with the nascent political machine Bannon has put together for the Mercers, a crackpot extremist, Roy Moore, won the Republican Party primary runoff for the Senate, beating the establishment candidate, McConnell and Trump-endorsed Luther Strange in an ultra low-turnout election. Outside organizations spent $13.9 million on the race, most of it to bolster Strange. McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund alone kicked in $8 million for Strange. The only substantial outside spending for Moore came from Great America Alliance ($118,000) and Proven Conservative PAC (125,000). Ken Vogel and Jeremy Peters suggested in a NY Times piece last week that the win in Alabama should be seen as a blueprint for Mercer's war against the Republican establishment. "Bannon and two of his longtime [not really-- unless 5 years counts as "longtime" these days] benefactors," they wrote, "are putting together a political coalition designed to ensure that the victory of a Republican insurgent in the Alabama Senate primary this week was just the beginning of the surprises that await the party establishment."

Bannon brings to the effort the political and promotional skills he showed as President Trump’s chief strategist and advocate for populist stances on issues like immigration and trade. His benefactors, the billionaire hedge fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, bring wealth and their own proven anti-establishment streak.

The obstacles Mr. Bannon and the Mercers face are formidable: the well-funded resistance of mainstream Republicans; a shortage of viable anti-establishment candidates like Roy Moore, the victor in Tuesday’s Alabama Republican Senate primary; an absence of political infrastructure for supporting them; and their own reputations for not always following through on big political plans.

But the Bannon-Mercer alliance is likely to be a potent factor in widening the divisions laid bare by the Alabama race and the intraparty battles that have crippled the Republican agenda in Congress. It could put Mr. Bannon and the Mercers on a collision course with not just the Republican establishment but with other donor-driven political organizations, including the one built by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch-- and potentially with Mr. Trump.

At Mr. Moore’s victory party, Mr. Bannon promised that “you’re going to see in state after state after state, people that follow the model of Judge Moore, that do not need to raise money from the elites, from the crony capitalists, from the fat cats in Washington, D.C., New York City, Silicon Valley.”

But Mr. Bannon acknowledges that the disruption he and the Mercers hope to foment will not be easy.

“We’ve got a long haul in front of us,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview at the Capitol Hill townhouse that doubles as his part-time residence and as the Washington headquarters of Breitbart News, the website owned in part by the Mercers and run by Mr. Bannon.

In particular, he singled out what he called the lack of “a deep bench” of polished candidates who could carry the “America First” banner into battle in Republican primaries against establishment favorites as effectively as Mr. Moore, who did not need any outside help to defeat Luther Strange.

“But look at how the conservative movement and the Republican establishment groomed the guys that the populist, nationalist Trump went through like a scythe through grass,” Mr. Bannon said. “How long had they been groomed?”

He and Mr. Mercer began hashing out a rough outline for a “shadow party” that would advance Mr. Trump’s America First agenda-- even if Mr. Trump himself strayed from it-- during a five-hour meeting last month at the family’s Long Island estate a couple of days before Mr. Bannon’s resignation from the White House.

Early plans call for the creation of a sort of think tank to articulate the animating issues of the coalition, according to donors and operatives who have talked to Mr. Bannon, the Mercers or their allies. They say the coalition will ally with existing groups on specific issues and will support vetted candidates and causes.

Mr. Bannon has already forged an alliance with a “super PAC” and a nonprofit group-- the Great America PAC and the Great America Alliance-- which were among the biggest spenders on behalf of Mr. Moore in Alabama.

The goal is for approved groups and candidates to be funded by not only the Mercers, but by other donors recruited by the family and Mr. Bannon-- a funding model similar to the one used by the Kochs and other major donor operations. After the Alabama primary, Mr. Bannon flew to Colorado Springs to recruit donors and candidates at a conference of conservatives.

But the Bannon-Mercer coalition is much less organized at this stage compared with other major donor operations, particularly the Kochs’ network, which resembles a privatized political party with offices in most states and which has spent more than $1.5 billion over the past dozen years trying to reshape American politics around the brothers’ free-enterprise ideals.

Mr. Bannon and the Mercers also stand out as more pugilistic in their tactics and ideology, bonding less over a shared cohesive political ideology than over a desire to disrupt the political establishment-- the Republican establishment in particular.

That has led them in the past to support candidates as varied as Mr. Moore, a hard-line Christian conservative who has said “homosexual conduct should be illegal,” and Mr. Trump, who rarely attends church and has been married three times.

To the extent that there is any ideological overlap among candidates the new coalition will support, it will probably be that they favor limiting immigration, making trade policies more advantageous to American manufacturers and disentangling the United States from sweeping international agreements-- and destroying the establishment.

The establishment does not seem concerned, at least not yet.

“We’ll see,” said Steven Law, the president of the Senate Leadership Fund, which backs establishment Republicans and spent more than $10 million in the Alabama race in support of Mr. Strange, whose campaign and allies drastically outspent Mr. Moore’s supporters.

While Mr. Bannon “has made a lot of noise about attracting capital from the Mercers,” Mr. Law said, “as we’ve seen ourselves, money alone is not the dispositive factor.”

...Among the donors who have been briefed on-- or expressed interest in-- the coalition being assembled by Mr. Bannon and the Mercers are several who have given to the Kochs’ efforts over the years, including the high-frequency trading pioneer W. E. “Ed” Bosarge of Houston, as well as the Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm and the Dallas businessman Thomas O. Hicks Jr.

Mr. Bosarge said that Mr. Bannon “has the capacity, the knowledge” to lead his own donor network, “and he certainly has a wide following of people.”

Also expected to play a key role in the new coalition, according to people involved in it, is the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel, a significant donor to Mr. Trump’s campaign and an informal White House adviser, who is close to both the Mercers and Mr. Bannon.

In the meantime, the new coalition will not be afraid to call out Mr. Trump when he wavers on campaign promises like building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, said people familiar with the plans.

“We want to be supportive of him, and we believe the agenda he ran on was correct,” said Chris Buskirk, the publisher of the online journal American Greatness, who has been recruited to help articulate and defend the policy positions espoused by the coalition. “We also want to lay the foundation for political change that both outlives this administration and expands upon it.”

Eric Beach, who started Great America PAC and Great America Alliance, said that “enforcing” Mr. Trump’s vision was only part of the goal.

“Our efforts are about replacing the G.O.P. establishment,” he said.

The groups spent about $175,000 backing Mr. Moore by airing ads, placing robocalls and staging a rally last Thursday featuring speeches by the former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the former Trump White House adviser Sebastian Gorka.

Already, Mr. Bannon, the Mercers or their deputies have had talks with at least seven Republicans who are eyeing Senate campaigns, and the Mercers have donated $500,000 to super PACs that could support three of the candidates.

Mr. Mercer also donated $50,000 to a super PAC called Remember Mississippi that is affiliated with an aide to Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state lawmaker who is considering challenging Senator Roger Wicker in a primary next year.

Mr. McDaniel, who was accused of racism during an unsuccessful 2014 primary campaign, met with Mr. Bannon after a rally for Mr. Moore in Fairhope, Ala., where he was asked if he was invited by Mr. Moore’s campaign or by Mr. Bannon.

“Aren’t they one in the same?” Mr. McDaniel responded, according to a reporter on the scene.
McConnell lapdog Steven Law, who just wasted close to $10 million on Strange, may claim the establishment isn't concerned and that "money alone is not the dispositive factor," the Washington Post's Robert Costa paints a picture of GOP incumbents trembling and shaking in their Lucchese or Tony Lama boots. The Mercers and Bannon, he wrote, offer more than just cash-- "a vast media and advocacy ecosystem that generates attention on social media as well as small-dollar donations. Run by Rebekah, the Mercer family foundation has given $50 million to conservative and free-market think tanks and policy groups from 2009 to 2015, according to tax records compiled by the Washington Post and GuideStar USA, which reports on nonprofit companies.
And that blue bus-- sponsored by the Great America Alliance and carrying former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, among other conservative celebrities across Alabama-- is scheduling stops across the country.

“If you don’t do your job, you’re going to see the bus, and you’re going to get bounced,” said Ed Rollins, the group’s strategist.

Rollins and Eric L. Beach, another adviser to the advocacy group, insisted that money would not save their elected Republican targets, pointing out that in Alabama they spent about $200,000, compared with the more than $10 million spent by the national GOP and Strange-aligned groups.

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel-- who traveled to Alabama to meet with Bannon and is considering challenging Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) next year-- called Moore’s success “inspiring” and said he is moving closer to launching a campaign fueled by the “establishment’s betrayal.”

“The environment feels so much better-- people are so much more fed up than they were in 2014,” McDaniel said, referring to the year he nearly beat Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in a Senate primary race.

The rumblings of an uprising come days after Senate Republicans shelved the party’s latest health-care proposal and as GOP lawmakers are inching forward on a proposal to cut taxes, but far from bringing legislation to a vote.

“Every Republican member of Congress is sitting there saying, ‘shit, this could happen to me,’ ” Rollins said.

Many players from the tea party era have returned to the breach: Palin, Bannon, Fox News personality Sean Hannity, talk-radio host Laura Ingraham and a cast of familiar foils who have long haunted House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Their enemies, however, go beyond those Republican leaders-- anyone remotely linked to them is at risk of attack.

“You are going to see, in state after state after state, people that follow the model of Judge Moore, that do not have to raise money from the elites, the crony capitalists, from the fat cats in Washington, D.C., New York City and Silicon Valley,” Bannon told Moore’s supporters on Tuesday.

Bannon added that Moore’s upset of Strange was “starting a revolution” that would either topple GOP incumbents or prod them to not seek reelection in 2018, as Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) announced on Tuesday.

Seven Senate Republicans are expected to run in next year’s midterm elections: Wicker, Jeff Flake (AZ), Dean Heller (NV), Ted Cruz (TX), Deb Fischer (NE), Orrin G. Hatch (UT) and John Barrasso (WY).

Wicker, Heller and Flake, in particular, are seen as vulnerable to the coming war because of their ties to McConnell-- Wicker is on his leadership team-- or because they have clashed with Trump (Heller, Flake).

The early pitch from the challengers overlaps in part with the outcry of previous election cycles, but it is far more about wrestling power away from traditional Republicans than Democrats.

“The Republican Congress has replaced President Obama as the bogeyman,” Steven Law, president of the McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, wrote in a memo about the Alabama contest.

Businessman Danny Tarkanian, who is running against Heller and has met with Bannon, said: “The longtime politicians in the Republican Party haven’t done anything since they took over and everything is stalled. So while President Trump has tapped into the anger, McConnell hasn’t-- at all.”

...Patrick H. Caddell, a veteran pollster who has worked with Bannon, said the “Republican electorate is in revolt.”

“The Republican Party is very close to coming apart,” Caddell said. “The voters feel economic deprivation, and their children don’t have the same opportunities. They’re becoming more anti-trade than most union Democrats, in some respects, because of anger with the global economy.”

Bannon met this week with former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo to urge him to consider running for governor-- another sign of how prominent critics of illegal immigration, like Tancredo, may return to the fore of the GOP scene.

Trump’s fingerprints are all over the ruckus-- and he has volleyed complaints at Republicans who have criticized him, most notably Flake, who wrote a book about his displeasure with the GOP’s Trumpian turn. Trump has lashed back and praised Flake’s primary rival, state Sen. Kelli Ward.

But Trump is not the movement’s standard-bearer, and his positions guide the candidates and groups only to a point, as Strange’s defeat attests. More important to them is the president’s anti-establishment style-- the aura of authenticity along with his aggressive take on illegal immigration. His supporters and populist leaders celebrate that approach as a model of defiance.

“I love the Trump agenda,” said persistent Nevada candidate Sharron Angle, who won a Senate GOP primary in 2010 amid the tea party’s rise and plans to run for Congress next year. But Angle said Trump’s seeming lack of concern for federal deficits has vexed her: “Sometimes, I can’t figure out the president. And I don’t think I am alone in that.”

Added consultant Tom Ingram, a Corker adviser: “Trump’s an aberration, a sign of what’s happening out there more than anything. He’s not really Republican, and he’s not really tea party. He’s just Trump.”

Democrats see an opening to possibly pick up seats if the chaos builds, even in Alabama. Moore, who has made controversial statements on race and sexuality, is facing off against former U.S. attorney Doug Jones, who will soon be joined on the trail by former vice president Joe Biden.

A Decision Desk HQ poll released Friday showed Jones only a few points behind Moore among likely voters-- Moore 50.2 percent, Jones 44.5 percent.

McConnell’s former chief of staff Josh Holmes tweeted about the poll: “In a surprise to nobody, looks like the Bannon crowd created a new problem” for Trump and the GOP.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a statement declaring that the result in Alabama had poured “gasoline over already raging primaries” and “throws into question how Republicans can confront the insurgent candidates who now feel even more emboldened to run. Reminder: Republicans now own Roy Moore and the uncomfortable questions he’ll provoke in races across the country.”
There are scores of Republicans in swingy House districts who just want primary season over with so they can creep back towards the political center. If they don't they could lose the independent vote-- and their seats. That even includes no less a figure than Paul Ryan where he's sitting in a district with 30% Republicans, 30% Democrats and 40% independents. If incumbents have to go through high-profile primaries against far right extremists that forces them into taking positions too far right for the districts, they may not survive 2018. Mercer is fine with that and would be delighted to rebuild a new Republican Party on the smoldering ruins-- and he'll pay Bannon too do it.

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At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you use Mussolini's definition of fascism, we've been there for decades.

What bannon and the mercers seem to want is a Nazi state. Moore and Alabama are logical starting points there. The whites in the state are Nazis and moore is insane thinking all his hate is sanctified by his gawd.

But realize that all this is the logical end point for the republican party, nationwide. They've been running on hate since Nixon used Lee Atwatter's "southern strategy" after LBJ and the Ds passed voting rights and civil rights as part of LBJ's "Great Society". They assimilated white hate-based Christianity when Democrats failed to overtly and properly exhibit hate for LGBTQs, in spite of Clinton's DADT and DOMA.

Yeah, the R elites cling to their lust for mammon, but as their base becomes all white and hate-based, they HAVE been hiding their mammon love a bit more than ever. And as they APPEAR to solely serve their white Nazi base, they then become the white Nazi party.

Sentient people, there are so few any more in this shithole, saw this coming 50 fucking years ago. I wish Molly Ivins were still alive to tell everyone 'I told you so' time after time.

At 6:22 AM, Blogger Ronnie Goodson said...

Another fine example of personal wealth corrupting the democratic process of a democratic representative government. If you want better government limiting personal wealth through taxation should be the first thing on your agenda.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Elizabeth Burton said...

Oh, those silly folks at the New York Times—always so polite while they dilute the actual danger people like the Mercers represent. Referring to them as "anti-establishment" is like saying Harvey was "a bit of a rain."

And how about all those people who spent so much time chortling gleefully after the primary that "Trump's candidate" had lost—"In your face, Donald!"—abysmally ignorant that they were at the same time celebrating the election of a total lunatic who, unless his Democratic opponent does a lot better job than Jon Ossoff, is going to be sworn in as a US Senator next year.

Anyone who considers the mainstream corporate media a reliable source these days is either willfully ignoring how corrupted they've become or (more likely) needs to bone up on how propaganda doesn't need to be blatant to be successful. Couched in the kind of sophisticated, cultured language employed the the NYT and its ilk, it does more damage because it's undetectable.


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