Category Archives: Primaries

Follow the money: Robert and Rebekah Mercer

There has been a substantial amount of reporting in the past week or so on Stephen Bannon, the white nationalist crypto-fascist editor of Breitbart News and Trump adviserand his war on the GOP establishment.  At the entirely misappropriately named Values Voter Summit, Bannon declares ‘war’ on GOP establishment. He told Fox News’ propagandist Sean Hannity earlier in the week that he was declaring “war” on the Republican establishment.

The media mythologizing Bannon as the alt-right Svengali to Donald Trump is misplaced. Bannon would be “Stephen who?,” a political nobody, but for the “wingnut welfare” (the lavishly-funded ecosystem of right-wing billionaire-financed think tanks and media outlets) financial backing of far-right extremist billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Some say Bannon is their Svengali.

When the media focuses on the vicious barking dog, they ignore the owner holding the dog’s leash to the peril of the country. When the media reports on Stephen Bannon, it has an obligation to also report on Robert and Rebekkah Mercer in the same breath, exposing them to the bright light of public scrutiny that they seek to avoid.

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker did a deep-dive investigative report into The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency back in March (excerpts):

People who know [Robert Mercer] say that he is painfully awkward socially, and rarely speaks. “He can barely look you in the eye when he talks,” an acquaintance said. “It’s probably helpful to be highly introverted when getting lost in code, but in politics you have to talk to people, in order to find out how the real world works.” In 2010, when the Wall Street Journal wrote about Mercer assuming a top role at Renaissance, he issued a terse statement: “I’m happy going through my life without saying anything to anybody.” According to the paper, he once told a colleague that he preferred the company of cats to humans.
Several people who have worked with Mercer believe that, despite his oddities, he has had surprising success in aligning the Republican Party, and consequently America, with his personal beliefs, and is now uniquely positioned to exert influence over the Trump Administration.

Continue reading

The Plutocrat civil war for control of the GOP

There has been much reporting this past week about a GOP civil war. But this is really a civil war between the wealthy Plutocrat donors of the GOP over which one of them will control the party. It is a case study in how money — especially dark money — has corrupted our political system. This is what the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and its progeny have wrought.

Stephen Bannon of Breibart News,and two of his longtime benefactors, Robert and Rebekah Mercer, are putting together a political coalition designed to ensure that the victory of a Republican insurgent in the Alabama senate primary this past week was just the beginning of the surprises that await the party establishment. The New York Times reports,  Alabama Victory Provides Blueprint for New Bannon Alliance:

Mr. 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.

Continue reading

The GOP is failing the ‘Roy Moore Test’

Last week, disgraced former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore, twice removed from the bench for unethical conduct in violation of the judicial code of ethics, nevertheless easily won the Alabama special election GOP primary for U.S. Senate.  Moore was supported the by far-the right fringe, in particular, white nationalist Stephen Bannon from Breitbart News and his billionaire financier Robert Mercer, who are waging a war on the GOP “establishment.”

Moore served as a columnist for years at the right-wing conspiracy site  World Net Daily. Moore was a leading proponent of the “birther” conspiracy theory, which posited, without evidence, that former President Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Moore took exception to Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D-Minn.), a Muslim, taking his oath of office with his hand on the Quran. Moore questioned  Ellison’s qualifications to be a member of Congress” because, he wrote, Islam is “directly contrary to the principles of the Constitution.” (The Constitution prohibits a religious test for office). Moore has argued on multiple occasions that America’s secular shift is responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and recent “shootings and killings.” He regularly rails against abortion, and argued in 2005 footage reported by CNN that homosexuality should be illegal. Roy Moore’s five most controversial remarks.

Roy Moore has been a household name for years among the Christian Right nationalists who want a theocracy in America. Yet Senate Republicans are pretending that they don’t know anything about him. Senate Republicans have never heard of Roy Moore:

Senate Republicans say they know almost nothing about Roy Moore, their wildly controversial candidate in the Alabama special election. But they really, really want him to be elected to the Senate.

What about Moore’s history of racially insensitive comments? Haven’t heard anything. Homophobic remarks? Nada. Moore’s claim that some American communities are living under Sharia law? Crickets. Moore’s statement that 9/11 happened “because we’ve distanced ourselves from God”? Nothing for you on that. Moore’s assertion that Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress because he’s a Muslim? We’ll get back to you. Moore saying Mitch McConnell should be replaced as Senate majority leader? Uhh, zip.

[T]he only thing that matters for party leaders is what Moore does from now on — not what he’s done before. And that he wins the Dec. 12 runoff against Democrat Doug Jones.

Continue reading

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema to run for U.S. Senate

I have never been a big fan of Representative Kyrsten Sinema, even when she was in the state legislature. My discomfort with her is that she appears to me to be “all show and no substance.” She is not much of a policy wonk, and has a slim legislative record. Of course, she has always been in the minority, so that is a contributing factor.

And as Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly points out, “Sinema has had a colorful career in politics, starting out as a green in her idealistic youth and growing into the kind of moderate Democrat who votes with the Trump/congressional GOP agenda agenda nearly half the time.

After her election to the House of Representatives, Sinema joined the conservative Democrat Blue Dog Coalition, and more recently the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus with her fellow Arizona congresswoman Martha McSally.

I’m not sure how one evolves from being a Ralph Nader Green Party “lefty” liberal to a conservative Blue Dog Democrat. That seems rather chameleon to me, adopting whatever one’s circumstances dictate in order  to survive politically. That speaks to more ambition than a principled politician. But then, this is Arizona where this can be said just about every politician.

The Arizona Republic reports, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema enters Senate race, hoping to unseat Jeff Flake:

U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is running for the Senate seat held by Jeff Flake, ending months of speculation about her political future and giving Democrats a top-tier fundraiser with experience on Capitol Hill.

In a video announcing her bid,the Arizona Democrat recounts her upbringing in a family that fell from the middle class into homelessness. She made her way to Congress, Sinema says, with hard work and help from “family, church and, sometimes, even the government.”

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 6.05.22 AM

“I really feel like I have a duty to serve and give back to this country, which has given so much to me,” she said in an interview with The Arizona Republic. “Working hard is all I know; it’s who I am. I believe I’ll be the hardest worker for Arizonans in the United States Senate.”

Continue reading

Devil’s Bargain and Shattered: Read Both

I’ve now read both Devil’s Bargain, by Joshua Green, and Shattered, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. Together, these two books provide insight into the 2016 election that you could never get from either alone. I highly recommend reading both, starting with Shattered.

Trump’s election really was the perfect storm, but not in the sense that he got really lucky. There was far more to it than that. And there are lessons to be learned.

The most important lesson, politically speaking, is that primaries have a purpose, and when the primary process is manipulated to clear the field, it likely won’t work out well in the end. We’ve seen this in prior campaigns, but 2016 will be the textbook case for decades to come. I’ll return to this point later in the post. Continue reading

Donald Trump’s ‘Pity Party’ in Phoenix

Did you know that there was only one victim in Charlottesville, Virginia, and it wasn’t Heather Heyer? Oh no, the victim was our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief at the hands of a “dishonest” media that accurately reported his words live on TV.

Donald Trump came to Phoenix to throw himself a “pity party” among his sycophant supporters with a long list of perceived grievances against all those whom he feels have done him wrong. He’s the victim in his revisionist history. The Daily 202: Trump’s penchant for revisionist history on display during Arizona rally.

This is in keeping with the conservative white grievance sense of victimhood, that they are “victimized” for their whacked-out conspiratorial non-factual beliefs in utter nonsense for which they are fed a steady diet from the conservative media entertainment complex. This sense of victimhood is the unifying “tribalism” around which they rally in this anti-intellectual movement led by the most dangerous demagogue in American history.

The Washington Post reports, Trump threatens government shutdown, suggests controversial pardon at Arizona rally (paragraphs have been reordered):

President Trump’s freewheeling comments came at a boisterous campaign rally here during which he went on an extended diatribe about the media, blaming reporters for the negative fallout he has received over his responses to the hate-fueled violence in Charlottesville.

At the outset of the rally, Trump selectively recounted the series of statements he made in the days following the melee in Charlottesville, arguing that he “spoke out forcefully against hatred and bigotry and violence” but that the media — whom he called “sick people” — refused to report it properly.

“You know where my heart is,” Trump said, before pulling a copy of his first of three statements on the violence out of his suit coat and reading it to his audience. He later accused the media of giving a platform to the hate groups that were central to the violence in Charlottesville that led to three deaths.

Following his comments last week, Trump was criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for blaming “both sides” for the violence and saying that “fine people” had marched along with white supremacists to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.

Trump did not mention either of those remarks in his diatribe against the media on Tuesday. He lied by omission to his sycophant supporters in his revisionist history, and his sycophant supporters didn’t care. Facts simply do not matter to these people, they are in thrall to Trump lies, President Trump has made more than 1,000 false or misleading statements, all that matters to them is their unquestioning devotion and loyalty to their “Dear Leader.”

Trump also never mentioned Heather Heyer, the woman mowed down by a white supremacist with his vehicle in Charlottesville. In Trump’s revisionist history, he was the only victim that day.

Continue reading