Thursday, August 18, 2016


A paragraph in this New York Times story about the Trump campaign shakeup jumped out at me:
[Stephen Bannon] was appointed [CEO of the Trump campaign] a day after the recently ousted Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, emerged in an advisory role with Mr. Trump. It was not lost on Republicans in Washington that two news executives whose outlets had fueled the anti-establishment rebellion that bedeviled congressional leaders and set the stage for Mr. Trump’s nomination were now directly guiding the party’s presidential message and strategy.
Wait -- what? Roger Ailes is now seen as having been an anti-establishment threat to the GOP mainstream? Didn't the GOP rely on Ailes to be its communications director for twenty years? Sure, that Tea Party thing got a wee bit out of control, but there was never the slightest indication that the Republican Party was upset at Fox News, or wanted to stop using Fox to disseminate its talking points. Why this revisionist thinking?

The truth is, Fox News has always made its audience angrier, more radical, and more conspiratorial than was good for the party in the long run. And, of course, Fox allowed Donald Trump to establish himself as a political pundit on its airwaves. But until 2016, the only negative consequence for the GOP was that its presidential nominees in 2008 and 2012 had to appease the Fox-maddened crazies, and thus ran campaigns that were too right-wing to succeed. In this cycle, though, it all came crashing down with Trump. Ailes, a guy who was extremely useful to the GOP, helped to turn it into what it is now.

But there hasn't been a clear line between establishment Republicanism and the fringe for years. Consider the rich donors who now have significantly increased influence in Trump World:
Donald Trump’s dramatic staff shake-up on Wednesday revealed the growing influence wielded on his campaign by a Republican mega-donor duo.

The fingerprints of Robert Mercer, a New York hedge fund billionaire, and his middle daughter, Rebekah, can be seen all over the new Trump staffing appointments and other decisions being made by the GOP presidential nominee....
Robert Mercer has reportedly made a “substantial” additional investment of at least $1 million in the new [Defeat Crooked Hillary] super-PAC, which has already spent $500,000 on digital ads attacking Clinton in eight battleground states. Additionally, he and particularly Rebekah have become influential figures in Trump World in the past few months.
Trump's new top operatives -- Stephen Bannon, the campaign's new chief executive, and Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager -- are longtime advisers to the Long Island, New York-based investor and have aided his family on a web of interlocking projects....

Mercer's ties to Bannon date to at least to 2011, when Bannon's conservative Breitbart News network was struggling financially, and Mercer made a $10 million equity investment, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The next year, Bannon founded an organization called the Government Accountability Institute to research cronyism in Washington, and Mercer's family foundation became a major supporter.

The group produced a book, "Clinton Cash," last year highlighting conflicts of interest between the Clintons' government service and their family foundation's courting of foreign donors. This year, Bannon and Rebekah Mercer turned the book into an hour-long documentary. Robert Mercer sent his 203-foot yacht, Sea Owl, to the premier of the film at Cannes.
It's easy to portray the Mercers as fringe-y:
A surprising amount of Mercer’s attention and money finds its way to some of the most unusual fringes of the right wing. He’s attended and funded an annual conference organized by Jane Orient, an Arizona physician and activist who recently suggested in an opinion article that elements in the U.S. government might have taken part in the San Bernardino massacre. Mercer money also found its way to an Idaho activist named Fred Kelly Grant, who travels the country encouraging legal challenges to environmental laws, which he says are part of a sinister plot by the United Nations to depopulate rural America.
And then there's this:
One of [Robert Mercer's] most long-standing beneficiaries is a chemist and sometime Congressional candidate who is collecting thousands of vials of human urine in freezers in rural Oregon for medical research.
I've written about this candidate, Art Robinson, who has collected urine:
Robinson, co-founder of the nonprofit Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, said he is hoping to get 15,000 samples to help calibrate a machine that could use urine profiles to help predict if a person will develop degenerative diseases such as cancer.
But that seems less crazy than crackpot notions such as the belief that radiation is good for your health:
In a monthly newsletter called Access to Energy, Robinson has used his academic credentials to float theories on everything from AIDS to public schooling to climate change (which he believes is a myth). In perhaps his most famous missive, Robinson once proposed using airplanes to disperse radioactive waste on Oregon homes, in the hopes of building up resistance to degenerative illnesses.

"All we need do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low radiation level and sprinkle it over the ocean -- or even over America after hormesis is better understood and verified with respect to more diseases," Robinson wrote in 1997. He added, "If we could use it to enhance our own drinking water here in Oregon, where background radiation is low, it would hormetically enhance our resistance to degenerative diseases. Alas, this would be against the law." ...

In another essay, he called public education "the most widespread and devastating form of child abuse and racism in the United States," leaving people "so mentally handicapped that they cannot be responsible custodians of the energy technology base or other advanced accomplishments of our civilization."

Robinson theorized that the government had overhyped the AIDS epidemic in order to force social engineering experiments on those aforementioned public school students....
But many Mercer donations have been very much in the GOP mainstream:
[Robert] Mercer [has] donated ... $668,000 directly to the Republican National Committee....

Mercer has given ... $2 million to American Crossroads ... and $2.5 million to Freedom Partners Action Fund.
American Crossroads is Karl Rove. Freedom Partners is the Koch brothers. These aren't donations to the fringe.

And what was Mercer's specific goal with that money to Freedom Partners?
Big donations included a $2.5 million check to Kochs' Freedom Partners Action Fund—more than what the Koch bothers themselves gave to it -- a "super" political action committee that spent $24 million to support Republicans including winners Joni Ernst in Iowa and Cory Gardner in Colorado....

Mercer also gave $1 million or more each to super PACs Club for Growth Action, which worked to limit the size of government by backing conservative candidates like Arkansas Senate winner Tom Cotton; Ending Spending Action Fund, which also focused on small government by attacking Georgia Senate loser Michelle Nunn, a Democrat; and John Bolton Super PAC, a group supporting the potential GOP presidential candidate and other politicians who are seen as strong on defense, such as North Carolina Senate winner Thom Tillis, a Republican.
So Mercer cash bankrolled the campaigns of some rising stars who are very much in the GOP mainstream (Cotton) or who've been welcomed into the mainstream despite fringe beliefs (Ernst, Gardner).

The Mercers aren't barbarians who stormed the GOP barricades -- they were invited guests. For that matter, so was Trump, who gave a lot of money to within-the-pale Republicans, and whose endorsement Mitt Romney actively sought even after Trump went birther. Republicans, nobody forced you to take money from wealthy enablers of crackpots and racists. This is a crisis of your own making.


Tom Hilton said...

"Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it's bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too."

Jim Snyder said...

To your point about Faux Snooze: amusing reax to Bannon from "a second House Republican" in The Hill:

“This doesn't sound to me like someone interested in running a rational, positive message, let alone winning. Breitbart isn't a legitimate news organization. It's a disgraceful propaganda machine that is trying to divide the party."

Quick, bring me the smelling salts! Someone let a disgraceful propaganda machine into the Republican party. I feel faint!

h/t booman

Feud Turgidson said...

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine - Taking the Piss Since 1980.

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine - If You Thought The Bundy Occupation of Malheur was Nuts ...

Robinson actually studied for a while under Linus Pauling. Thing is, that was not the young Pauling who knew WTF he was talking about, that was old Vitamin C Obsessed Linus, who actually said thing that some folks who followed them actually got various forces of diabetic disorders and toxicity based collapses, from which some died.

The idea behind the urine analysis is some mumbo jumbo sidebar boobiness about the so-called molecular clock. Ask a real biologist: it reflect about the same relationship to biology as hormosis - actually, the two nuttisms are not that easy to separate.

Victor said...

The GOP needs wealthy conservative crackpots and demented loons, because their rank-and-file spend all of their money on Richard Viguerie's appeals to stop liberals, their grifting douche-canoes in the front of their church, and gold and other precious metals at Glenn's and Rush's programs!

Sure, they can spare a few bucks to send to t-RUMP, but not enough for that grifter to win the Presidency!

Enter, Bag-men (and women)!

KenRight said...

The Elite used the white working class, keeping them dumbed down and job outsourced, while, generally also, these Elite were milquetoast at their Chamber of Commerce best on immigration, to the detriment of wages, crime etc, as affecting the White worker.
These latter attempt to free themselves while you in effect blame the GOP Elite for not selling them out as thoroughgoingly as did the neolib Dem Elite.
And obviously you would prefer the Elite recapture the workers to the workers building a strong sustained ethnosocialist movement, inside the GOP or Third Force.