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Monday, August 21, 2017

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Donald Trump’s elevation of Breitbart News CEO Stephen Bannon to chief White House strategist is prompting many to ominously predict the Trump presidency will be like the worst of the campaign. But there’s an even more disturbing power play in the works.

Before Bannon turned “Breitbart News into Trump Pravda,” as one ex-Breitbart writer put it, Bannon backed 2016’s darkest ideologue, Republican Ted Cruz. Bannon went all-in for Cruz, not just because of his libertarian economics, but because his patron and ally, the family of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, enlisted him and other Mercer-funded political assets for Cruz.

“Breitbart News was cranking out a stream of favorable Cruz stories,” Politico recounted in September. “And both the Mercer-backed pro-Cruz super PAC, ‘Keep the Promise I,’ and the Cruz campaign signed up Cambridge Analytica [Mercer’s data research firm]. And only hours after the Texas senator officially launched his campaign at the Christian university Liberty University, he and his wife appeared at [daughter] Bekah Mercer’s extravagant Upper West Side apartment for a fundraiser.”

The Mercers, led by Rebekah, didn’t quit after Cruz’s bid failed. They met with Trump’s children and the nominee, and in August their team, including Bannon and pollster Kellyanne Conway, were running Trump’s presidential campaign. As Politico noted, people who know the Mercers and their team said they were working for a far-right agenda, not any particular Republican candidate.

“I don’t think it’s about Trump. Trump is just a vehicle,” a Mercer family colleague told Politico. “It’s about wanting to be a player and wanting to beat Hillary, in that order. Because if you remember, they wanted to use Cruz as a vehicle before that. They do want to beat Hillary, but they also want to beat the Kochs and Paul Singer and the Ricketts [other far-right billionaires].”

This week, when Bloomberg described how campaign CEO Bannon directed Cambridge Analytics to test-market Brexit-like messages to white voters in Rust Belt states, Bannon had chilling words for anyone who believes in progressive federal government.

“This is not the French Revolution,” Bannon said, characterizing Trump’s achievement and goals. “They destroyed the basic institutions of their society and changed their form of government. What Trump represents is a restoration—a restoration of true American capitalism and a revolution against state-sponsored socialism. Elites have taken all the upside for themselves and pushed the downside to the working- and middle-class Americans.”

Who’s Calling Who Elite?

Bannon’s revolution is being led by the very people Trump demonized in his final political ads in Rust Belt states—the elite players in American finance and media. No one epitomizes that contradiction as clearly as the billionaire Mercers, and their long embrace of Trump’s new White House strategist, Bannon, who made a fortune at Goldman Sachs and in Hollywood before taking over Breitbart.

Bannon, who grew up in a Democratic household in Virginia, was a Navy veteran who became a Wall Street trader before turning to media. He is among a handful of grantees and causes that have been boosted by multimillion dollar investments or infusions from the Mercer family. Breitbart received $10 million, and in turn, as Politico said, dutifully publicized Mercer grantees and causes, including some of the most notorious right-wingers, such as the activists who made the 2008 anti-Hillary Clinton movie that led to the Citizens United lawsuit and U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the few remaining limits on campaign cash.

Breitbart, under Bannon, has relished vulgar attacks on liberals. It’s compared feminists and Planned Parenthood to Nazis, has had anti-Semitic headlines and embraced a spectrum of white supremacist causes. Two decades ago, Bannon’s wife filed domestic abuse charges that were eventually dropped. Early in the campaign, a Bannon-run non-profit, the Government Accountability Institute, astoundingly convinced the New York Times and other mainstream papers to partner with it and publish reports based on its latest attack on the Clintons, a book called Clinton Cash. As Bannon told Bloomberg in an extensive profile later in 2015, that “weaponized” the attacks, because old attacks broke out of the right-wing echo chamber and spread like a virus through the mainstream media.

Establishment Republicans have criticized Bannon’s so-called alt-right publications, and he has drawn considerable wrath from Democrats. But his uncompromising posture and no-holds-barred tactics appealed to the Mercers, who saw other libertarian activists, such as the Koch brothers, as being too genteel—despite spending multi-millions against Democrats.

As AlterNet’s February profile of the Mercer family detailed, they embrace virtually every ultra-right posture, from backing the most ardent climate science deniers (Heartland Institute), to reviving the gold standard behind the dollar (American Principles Project), to encouraging physicians to stockpile drugs in response to Obamacare (Doctors for Disaster Preparedness). Their fights with the Internal Revenue Service make Trump’s $900 million write-off in the mid-1990s seem paltry. Mercer’s computerized trading firm, Renaissance Technologies, has spent years fighting a $6.8 billion tax bill, Bloomberg has said.

Family patriarch Robert Mercer is notoriously publicity averse. But one daughter, Rebekah, isn’t, and has become one of the most powerful women in Republican circles. Last summer, according to a series of reports in the New York Times, Politico, The Hill and other  outlets, she persuaded the Trump family—the candidate, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner—to replace his campaign team with Bannon and their longtime pollster Conway, and to incorporate their data-mining operation, Cambridge Analytica, to expand the campaign’s voter targeting. That came after a series of conversations at Trump fundraisers and private dinners.

“A few days later, one of the guests, Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, would become Mr. Trump’s campaign chief in a sudden shake-up,” the Times wrote in mid-August. “But it was a guest without a formal role in the campaign, a conservative philanthropist named Rebekah Mercer, who has now become one of its most potent forces.”

The Times described the family’s relationship to Trump’s new team. “Mr. Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is a veteran Republican pollster who previously oversaw a super PAC financed by the Mercers. Mr. Bannon oversaw Breitbart, an outlet that has often amplified Mr. Trump’s message and attacked his perceived enemies. Mr. Mercer reportedly invested $10 million in Breitbart several years ago, and most likely still has a stake: A company sharing an address with Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund Mr. Mercer helps lead, remains an investor in Breitbart, according to corporate documents filed in Delaware.”

“Mr. Trump is also relying on Cambridge Analytica, a voter data firm backed by Mr. Mercer, whose staff members are working with Mr. Trump’s vendors to identify potential Trump supporters in the electorate, particularly among infrequent voters,” the Times said. “A Mercer-backed super PAC supporting Mr. Trump is now being shepherded by David Bossie, a conservative activist whose own projects [Citizens United] have been funded in part by the Mercers’ family foundation, according to tax documents. Mr. Bannon has worked particularly closely with the family in recent years.

“I think they have complete confidence, and rightly so, in Steve Bannon’s decisions and what he brings to the table politically,” Bossie told the paper. “He has been smart and successful in running these different political operations. And those things have come to the Mercers’ attention.”

It has become a cliche that no one knows how Trump will really govern because of a lack of specifics during the campaign. But it is clear what libertarians like the Mercers want—to remove any obstacle preventing corporations and the super-rich from enlarging their wealth; and what ideologues like Bannon want—the dismantling of federal safety nets, from the 1930s New Deal to Obamacare, the expansion of policing and immigration enforcement, and no action on climate change to create a post-carbon energy system.

For years, Robert Mercer quietly poured tens of millions of dollars into far-right political causes. But it took his daughter, Rebekah, to embrace the bulls in the GOP china shop—first Cruz and then Trump. When Trump assumes office in January, Bannon will be on the podium. And quietly observing the spectacle will be one of the real powers behind the throne, the libertarian billionaire Mercer family.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

IMAGE: Steve Bannon, head of the news website Breitbart News, was named to the new position of campaign chief executive officer. Bannon, a conservative flamethrower was referred to by ousted Corey Lewandowski as “a street fighter” like himself. The campaign statement announcing the changes touted a Bloomberg Politics article that branded Bannon “the most dangerous political operative in America.”  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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33 Responses to Bannon’s Gravy Train Is Secretive Radical Right-Wing Billionaire Family

  1. 1 yr have passed since I decided to resign from my old job and that decision was a lifechanger for me… I started to work from home, for this company I stumbled upon over internet, several hrs /a day, and my income now is much bigger then it was on my last job… Paycheck i got for last month was for 9 thousand bucks… Great thing about this job is that now i have more time to spend with my family… http://chilp.it/8d93f4b

  2. I rarely watch US media on TV anymore. Last night, I watched a Chinese government official being interviewed on the BBC and here is what he said, “If the U.S. becomes more insular, China will become the No. 1 Super Power.”

    Don’t ask why so many of our kids are scared out of their wits with the results of this election.

      • Here is where the Republicans will not only put an end to this country but to any of our allies. Trump is a brazen, bully big mouth who actually believes all he has to do is issues his commands like he did to the protestors when he said, “Stop.” Did they? No. In fact, now the kids in over 50 high schools are protesting.

        What in the hell makes these stupid, moron right wingers think all Trump has to do is issue commands to other world leaders and they will be obedient little puppies? What makes them think ISIS will bow to Trump’s commands?

        See how dangerous this is? I realize there are morons in this country who for reason they fabricated based on lies about Hillary. But, she was no threat to our allies, world leaders and had her finger on the pulse of how to deal with ISIS.

        You know why Trump chose a “retired” general for National Security Advisor. This guy is a placator who will try to get Russia to stand up to China.

        It is NOT Russia that’s the biggest threat. It’s China. I watched an interview with a Chinese official on BBC on Thursday night. He said and I quote, “If the U.S. under the new administration returns to the insularity of the early 1900s, China will become the No. 1 World Super Power.”

        Get any southern or midwestern uneducated Republican hick to admit that the man they chose for president could easily rile up ISIS enough for another attack. These mutton chops and CONBullies never learn when to shut their mouths.

        What is Trump going to do when ISIS refuses to just “Stop?” Bomb them? It is a well known fact that ISIS is just one of nearly a half dozen too well armed and dangerous terrorist groups. We are in the northeast may be first to go. But, ISIS will also take out the south and midwest. They have enough fire power to do it.

        • I am afraid your assessment is accurate. My neighbor told me he did not vote for Trump but let’s be optimistic…well I went ballistic:
          “You can be as optimistic as you want. It is one of the perks of white male privilege.
          Trump’s racism will never affect you. His discrimination will never affect you. His homophobia will never affect you. His hatred for marginalized people will never affect you. He never bragged about disrespecting and grabbing your private parts. He never called your gender pigs. He never threatened to make white Christians register. So of course you can be optimistic, shrug it off and move on. You were never the person Trump promised to go after, to take away your reproductive rights or your marriage. You have nothing to fear.
          You can choose to see the good in a racist, sexist bigot because you will not face the very real consequences of him being in power. You do not have anything to fear.
          But he did threaten to go after people. And those people are rightfully fearful of their safety. Do not dismiss our fear because you are safe. That is what happened in Nazi Germany and we know how that turned out”.

          • For me? I refuse to pledge allegiance since the flag is now the Stars and Bars. I refuse to cooperate in any way, shape or form with any spiteful, childish man who cannot accept that men are not the ruling species on planet earth. The more Trump tries to load up the goverment with the muscle boys, the more women will rebel. They cannot stop us. We are taxpayers just like them.

            The Mennonites and Amish had it right. When someone becomes a threat to their society, the entire community shuns them. Time to do the same to these bullies.

          • Really? So you actually think YOU are SO POWERFUL? You hate truth and facts. That is why you have more dissenters to YOUR posts and then only dissenters I ever have are from nuts like you.

            I realize you heavy hitter maniacs actually think by some bizarre stretch of the imagination, you can effect the normalization of your mentally ill, maniacal lust for power and control. You are a not only pond scum. You are a sand flea with no balls.

        • Hey”’! Has Any Man”? Found You Sexually Exciting To Be With”? you Must Be One Ugly butch”?”! The Way your Express Yourself. Angry Hard and……Bitter. Try Sex…..If You Can Find a Man Who Would Want To Lay Down with ‘your kind’.

          • You just Know these righties have Manboy Love files on their computers. That’s why they are so sexually adolescent.

            MIYAK YAK is proof of what the right really wants most and WILL NEVER get: Control of this country.

            Say MIKYAK YAK go the hell back to China were you belong.

          • Who is going to prevent that, you? To spend so much time on this website, you must not have a job. Are you retired or did some smart employers fire you when they discovered your incompetence?

          • Yes. Me and the rest of us who unlike you are not crooks, thieves and cheats.

            No. Ass. I am semi-retired from environmental engineering where I was an accounting manager for nearly 25 years. Our business was closed because boy genius, like Trump got a fine from the EPA for performing uncertified lab testing. Like Trump, boy genius was a daddy’s boy…like you and your hick women are Daddy’s girls. They owned a testing laboratory and only bought our engineering company when the original owner retired.

            As for now? I am still employed as a 1099 Freelance SEO copywriter who is on my computer every day at 6AM and I work part-time ghost writing technical articles for blogs and online businesses. I was a tech writer at ADP in the early 80s and when boy genius found that out, he had me writing technical articles for the PhD from MIT and Brit MSME educated at Cambridge England. My first employer in the late 70s was the ombudswoman to the SBA. Frank Lautenberg was my next boss. After that? I worked for the General manager of what was then AKZO Chemical. You are always online. What? No job? No company will hire a scumbag?

            You can try to smear me all you like you jealous little twit. I already proved what a liar you are when you claimed I “self published” my books and you found out they were in fact NOT self published. Do yourself a favor HATE eater. Find a toilet bowl, put your oversized head in it and flush. You are boring the hell out of an intelligent, accomplished woman like me.

            People like you need to be lined up in front of a firing squad. You are useless pustules.

          • Hey Exclamation Points….That your Lone Star insignia? Or the tattoo on your butt…bwhahahahahaha! DAVID with a tattoo of exclamation points on his butt. Maybe, you are planning to depants as a museum display for the Alamo?

            Or maybe, those exclamation points are supposed to scare a woman who would love nothing more than to do surgery on those tattoes and shove them down your liar moron asshat BLOWhard throat?

            Give it exclamation points. When you have something worthy of truth and facts, let me know..By the way…there are already several high tech computer groups claiming the voting was hacked into and these are being paid for by the US richest man in the country…swagger, swagger, boom boom…Go whistle Yellow Rose of TEXASS. That’s all you got you pathetic rancid tripe face.

    • Because They are The Dumbest (Kids) And ‘Effeminate Men’ in a Century’! The Women..if u call them that..are hard cold dress Like butch men,frigged up. Not Feminine in their ‘small minds’ they can’t see straight. some young people America has…..crybabies”! Cry ins’!”? (President Trump Win) Bunch of wimps..and Losers’! As a Vet, i’m ashamed of these No brains. America Has Created Sissy’s And Marxist Lovers’!’ (Barnie’s Bolshevik Lovers)

  3. Robert and Rebekah Mercer have bought another politician. This time they got a bargain. They knew about Trump’s glaring lack of intellect and how easy it is to manipulate him. With their man Stephen K Bannon at Trump’s side doing Trump’s thinking for him the Mercers could not have bought a more perfect stooge.

  4. After 5 yrs I quit my old job and it changed my life… I started doing a job from comfort of my house, over a site I found online, several hours /a day, and I make much more than i did on my previous work… Last paycheck i got was for 9 thousand dollars… Superb thing about this gig is the more time i got with my kids… http://secure54.com

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