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“Cruz Sugar Daddy Funds A Fake Black GOP Group”: “Black Americans For A Better Future”, Has Just One Member

One of the GOP’s leading billionaire donors is also funding 96 percent of a super PAC named “Black Americans for a Better Future.”

Funny thing is, that donor, eccentric billionaire Robert Mercer, is white.

Two eagle-eyed watchdogs, Derek Willis of ProPublica and Dave Levinthal of Public Integrity, spotted the funding in a recent set of FEC filings, and The Intercept first reported the news. As the filings showed, Mercer has provided $400,000 of the group’s $417,250 donations so far.

Is it odd that an organization that says it’s made up of “Black Americans” is in fact bankrolled by a white billionaire? Sure, but that’s just the beginning.

The organization, “Black Americans for a Better Future,” essentially a one-person shop run by longtime GOP political operative Raynard Jackson.

Jackson is an unusual character. This is clear even on the surface: his slapdash website looks like a bad parody of 1998, and is littered with typos and grammatical mistakes. (“Is homosexual entitlements the new civil rights?” “I am also available for speaking engagements also.”)

But the weirdness goes deeper than that.

So far, the only expenditures for “Black Americans for a Better Future” are Jackson’s own salary of $155,000, travel costs (including, as The Intercept reporting, $5,000 at Morton’s Steakhouse in New York), and the $13,000 cost of its only activity thus far, a November 17 luncheon at the National Press Club.

Jackson himself is a profilic blogger who often takes fellow African Americans to task. His favorite target, unsurprisingly, is President Obama, of whom Jackson says, “He is light skinned, has no connection with the Black community, Ivy League educated, and seems very uncomfortable around Blacks who are not part of the bourgeoisie.”

Jackson is also not fond of Spike Lee, describing Lee’s newest film, Chi-Raq, as a “profanity laced, liberally biased, finger pointing diatribe that blames Republicans and Whites for all the murders taking place in Chicago.”

It’s an odd critique, given that Chi-Raq, a retelling of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, is about black women demanding that black men stop killing each other (and withholding sex until they do), clearly placing responsibility, for the most part, on black men.

Maybe that’s because Jackson’s “review” is actually a pitch for one of his pet projects.

“It is extremely imperative that Republicans have an active surrogates program,” Jackson writes. “Black Republicans are constantly ridiculed in movies, TV sit-coms, and in pop culture. I have constantly expressed to party leaders the necessity of having a vibrant surrogates program where Black Republicans are seen on TV, heard on the radio, and interviewed in newspapers.”

Who does Jackson like? “Black men need more white women like Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham,” Jackson wrote in a 2014 post. Even though they are conservative media personalities, they have done more to promote the well-being of black males than many of the very women who stridently complain about the lack of ‘eligible’ black men.”

Wait, what?

Jackson explains that Coulter’s anti-immigration stance helps black people, quoting her statement that “We owe black people something… We have a legacy of slavery. Immigrants haven’t even been in this country.” As for Ingraham, Jackson quotes her statement that Democrats “turn their heads away from the millions upon millions of black babies slaughtered in the womb over 10 years.… Is that racist?”

Jackson concludes, “We black men need more white women like Coulter and Ingraham, not back [sic] women who will give a pass to a failing black president.”

Of course, it’s not just black women; President Obama received 96 percent of the African American vote in 2012. But Jackson says they are deluded by Black leaders who refuse to criticize the president else they “jeopardize their invitations to the White House’s Christmas party.”

So, Jackson continued, “it’s ok to do specific things for the Black bourgeoisie—private invitations to the White House, rides on Air Force One, private movie screenings at the White House, but [Obama] can’t do things specifically to address the high unemployment rate in the Black community?”

(The black unemployment rate when Obama took office was 12.7 percent; as of June, 2015, it was 9.5 percent. Obama also started the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative in 2014 to focus on improving the lives of young African American men.)

In fact, the predominant theme in Jackson’s many online screeds seems to be his own resentment at being excluded from such elite circles. In a 2015 blog post, he complained that GOP chairman Rience Priebus stole his idea of giving out a “Black Republican Trailblazer Award” each February.

Most curiously, he complained in 2012 that “My Republican Party Has Abandoned Me” and rebuffed his efforts to attract more black voters. And yet, he wrote in 2012, “twice this year some of these same people have approached me about funding for some election year tricks that they (White Republicans) have conjured up and simply need a Black face to execute the plan. On these two separate occasions, these funders were willing to spend upwards of $20 million to have me organize a national campaign to identify Blacks who would be critical of President Obama.”

But wait, isn’t that exactly what Robert Mercer is paying him $400,000 to do in 2016?

The funding is not out of character for Mercer, part of a small cadre of .01-percenters who have bankrolled Cruz, upended the Republican Party, and mainstreamed formerly fringe ideas like abolishing the EPA and returning America to the gold standard. Last year, cluster of pro-Cruz super PACs called “Keep the Promise” raised over $38 million, chiefly from four extremely wealthy individuals: $11 million from Mercer, $15 million came from Farris and Dan Wilks, two brothers who made their fortune in the fracking industry, and $10 million from Toby Neugebauer, founder of the private equity firm Quantum Energy Partners.

Even that is just a small piece of the pie. Since 2012, Mercer has given $15 million in support of a wide range of ultra-conservative causes, candidates, and think tanks, including the tobacco-denier-turned-climate-change-denier Heartland institute ($4 million). That’s in addition to $10 million he invested in the far-right news site Breitbart.com back in 2011.

Moreover, as my colleague Mike Daly described last week, and Bloomberg Politics’ Zachary Mider reported in an excellent long-form profile, Mercer is an odd duck. A former computer programmer, Mercer is co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a fabulously successful hedge fund based on sophisticated computer modeling and algorithms. One of its funds earned an astonishing 39 percent average annual return from 1989 to 2006. (Mercer joined the firm in 1993 and became co-CEO in 2009.)

Renaissance has also been investigated by Congress and the IRS for using accounting tricks to dodge $6.8 billion in taxes. The IRS investigation is still underway. (Cruz, of course, has promised to abolish the IRS.)

In his spare time, Mercer has funded quack scientists and fringe political candidates (or both: one Mercer-funded candidate is also stockpiling a huge collection of human urine), played at the world series of poker, and installed a model train set in his mansion at a price tag of $2.7 million.

Now, it’s too much of a stretch to impute Jackson’s quixotic ideas, via Mercer, to Ted Cruz himself. True, both Cruz and Jackson are beneficiaries of the same idiosyncratic billionaire donor. True, they share a certain dislike of the currently sitting president. But Cruz is no more responsible for BAFBF than he is for Mercer’s $2 million dollar train set.

And Jackson gets around: his website features pictures of him with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, and even segregationist fanboy Senator Trent Lott.

But this is the world in which Cruz travels. The same donor who has underwritten nearly one-third of his “independent” super PAC is also funding a wingnut shill to be the black face of faceless white billionaires.

 

By: Jay Michaelson, The Daily Beast, February 26, 2016

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Black Americans for a Better Future, GOP Campaign Donors, Robert Mercer | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Insufficiently Conservative”: It Doesn’t Matter Who The Next Speaker Is Because This Is A Permanent Conservative Rebellion

Many Republicans are looking at what’s happening in the House of Representatives right now with something between consternation and horror. The party is tearing itself apart, unable to pick a leader for one of its key institutional bases of power and riven by disagreements that seem unbridgeable.

But you want to know who isn’t upset about all this? The ultra-conservative members who are driving it, not to mention the conservative organizations and media figures who are cheering them on. They’re having a blast.

The most important thing to understand about what’s happening now is that this is a permanent rebellion. It has its demands, both substantive and procedural, but those demands aren’t the point, and if they were met, new ones would be forthcoming. For the people behind the chaos, rebellion itself is the point. It’s about the fight, not about the outcome of that fight. They will never stop rebelling.

That’s why it doesn’t really matter much who actually ends up in the Speaker’s chair. Whoever that Speaker is, he’ll be judged inadequate, not enough of a fighter, too willing to roll over. After all, no matter who he is or what he does (and yes, I’m assuming it will be a man, because there aren’t any viable female candidates at this point), he won’t successfully repeal Obamacare, or send all the illegals away, or slash taxes rates, or outlaw abortion, or pound his gavel until the thunderous vibrations reach down Pennsylvania Avenue and drive that usurper Barack Obama out of the White House and back to Chicago. In the eyes of the rebels, the next Speaker will fail, just like his predecessor did. And the rebellion will have to continue.

Speculation today centers around Paul Ryan, who commands a good deal of respect within the caucus. Though Ryan has said repeatedly that he isn’t interested in being Speaker — he’s now chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a powerful position he sought for some time — he is coming under intense pressure from colleagues to accept the post. Here’s how Paul Kane and Robert Costa described the state of affairs this morning:

By mid-afternoon, outgoing speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had spoken to Ryan at least twice, trying to convince the reluctant congressman that he was the only man who could save House Republicans from their self-created chaos.

By day’s end, after hunkering down for two hours in his ceremonial office a few steps from the House floor, after listening to pleas from friends to take the reins of the bitterly divided Republican caucus, he emerged, declining to explicitly state his plans…

As they voted on the House floor late Thursday, Ryan was besieged by his GOP colleagues. As the lawmakers huddled, Ryan aides canceled his fundraising and political events for the next 48 hours, a move interpreted by his friends as a signal that he had gone from a hard “no” to undecided after speaking with Boehner.

The latest statement from Ryan’s office reiterates: “Chairman Ryan appreciates the support he’s getting from his colleagues but is still not running for Speaker.” Of course, this could still change.

The assumption among many is that Ryan could be a unifying figure, the only one who could bring together the fractious caucus. But not only is there no particular reason to think that’s true, his potential candidacy for Speaker is already dividing the party.

Ryan is being promoted by establishment sources like the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the National Review, which in itself is being read by the rebels as a reason to reject him. Influential radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted: “Are they talking abt the same Paul Ryan who once lost a VP debate to JOE BIDEN?” She added, “Chaos? Only if you are bought and paid for by the Establishment. Cathartic for most.” “Paul Ryan Is The Absolute Worst Choice For Speaker,” says Brietbart.com, explaining that he’s really a weakling who’ll knuckle under just like John Boehner did.

The House Freedom Caucus, which has become the center of the rebellion, has a document outlining its current demands in the form of a questionnaire for any potential Speaker, which includes things like not raising the debt ceiling without “significant structural entitlement reforms” (i.e. cutting and restructuring Medicare and Social Security); shutting down the government unless they can defund Planned Parenthood, repeal Obamacare, invalidate the Iran deal, and more; and perhaps most importantly, a series of process “reforms” that would take power away from the Speaker to determine how legislation proceeds and distribute it around to all the members of the caucus. They seem to want to ensure not only that the next Speaker is someone disinclined to make compromises with the Senate or the White House, but that he won’t be able to even if he wanted to.

They’re not going to get all that from the next Speaker, which they surely know. But deep down that’s probably okay with them, because in a way, not getting what they want is exactly what they want. They didn’t come to Washington to write legislation and craft policy. They came to fight — to fight Barack Obama, and just as important (if not more so), to fight their own party’s leadership. Many of them won their seats in the first place by either challenging incumbent Republicans who were deemed insufficiently conservative and confrontational, or besting a field of primary contenders by proving they would fight the establishment with more vigor and venom than anyone else. Every defeat only makes them more sure that the answer is to fight harder. This is their purpose. Fighting is energizing, exciting, and inspiring, much more than sitting in some boring subcommittee hearing.

There’s a reason old rebels keep talking about “the revolution” years and decades after they came out of the jungle and stormed the capital. Nothing about the work of governing can match the righteous thrill of the battle against the oppressors. The innovation the tea partiers brought to Washington was that you could get power, but then not bother to figure out how to use it to achieve the policy goals you claim to hold. Instead, you could just keep fighting, so the rebellion never ends. It’s obvious now that’s precisely what they intend to do, no matter who the next Speaker of the House is.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, October 9, 2015

October 10, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, House Freedom Caucus, Paul Ryan, Speaker of The House | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Let’s Go Inside His Head”: The True Confessions Of Mitt Romney

Say you’re Mitt Romney, and you still can’t believe you lost the 2012 election. You’ve been aiming barbs at President Obama and sending heartwarming Christmas cards featuring your large family. In 2014, you star in a flattering documentary and post charming photos of your hike through the Mountain West with five of your 22 grandchildren. When asked whether you will make a third try for the White House, you and your wife say absolutely not, many times in many ways.

And then suddenly you’re giving off definitive “let’s do this thing” vibes: telling donors you will almost certainly run, calling former allies and aides, adding yourself to the program at the Republican National Committee meeting in San Diego and inviting conservative radio host Laura Ingraham to an “off the record” lunch at a ski resort in Utah, after which she tells The Washington Post you were “fully engaged and up to speed,” and seemed no longer content to be “just a passive player in American politics.”

So what catapulted you off the sidelines? Jeb Bush’s forceful entry into the emerging field was the spark. But you’ve been reconsidering for a while, looking at the other establishment favorites and wondering why the heck not. It’s not like you’re too old. The baby boom generation is still clogging up the runway. At 67, you’re about the same age as Hillary Clinton and not all that much older than Jeb, who will be 62 next month. As for old news, you’re practically a fresh face compared with Clinton, who has been in the news nonstop for more than two decades. And seriously, how damaging is a third grab for the ring when your competition is the third guy in his family to run?

What else is Romney thinking? Let’s go inside his head.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s tendency to erupt at people was fun for a while and raised lots of money, he muses. But I can raise money, too. And while I’m kind of awkward sometimes, I’m pretty sure voters won’t want a president who gets into public screaming matches. Not that I hold a grudge against Christie, even though his 2012 convention keynote was much more about him than me. But what makes him think people are going to disregard eight downgrades in his state’s credit rating, a poor job-creation performance or investigations into Bridgegate, the five-day traffic nightmare that punished a Democratic mayor? I certainly won’t.

It’s impressive, yes, that Gov. Scott Walker took on unions and has won three Wisconsin elections in six years. But would voters really pick this untested young candidate over the man who saved the 2002 Olympics and countless floundering businesses? (That would be me). And does Walker have the presence and skills to dominate a national race? I’ve already proven I can crush a sitting president in a debate.

And don’t get me started on Jeb and his family: his father’s reversal on his no-new-taxes pledge; his brother’s wars, deficits and intrusive federal education law; and his own support for comprehensive immigration reforms and Common Core education standards. All I did was sign “Romneycare” when I was governor of Massachusetts. I’ve already denied that it was the model for Obamacare. I’ve already said no other state should be required to do what I did. I’ve already said the federal law should be repealed. Problem solved.

I want to pause here to thank my good friend, the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, for his advice on how to deal with that time I dismissed 47 percent of the country as moochers who are dependent on government, believe they are victims, and will never take responsibility for their lives. Hewitt is right, everyone makes mistakes. Look at Hillary’s “we were broke when we left the White House” gaffe; Rick Perry’s “oops” moment when he forgot the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate; and Jeb’s description of illegal immigration as an “act of love” by people trying to give their families better lives. I never pretend to be poor, and I don’t start lists I can’t finish. Maybe I went a bit too far with the “self-deportation” business on immigration. You won’t hear me use that phrase again.

Above all, I won’t forget that a lot of those 47-percenters are veterans, seniors, low-income workers, the disabled and people searching desperately for jobs. And I won’t forget that a lot of them vote Republican — even for me! I won the seniors and the veterans, and I nearly won the union vote. I’m not only going to remember these folks, I’m going to focus my next campaign on opportunity and upward mobility. Wait, what do you mean, Jeb already named his political action committee Right to Rise, and stole the phrase — with permission — from my own 2012 running mate?

Back to the drawing board for the third round. I know the right message is out there somewhere.

 

By: Jill Lawrence, Creative Writers Syndicate; The National Memo, January 15, 2015

January 19, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Mitt Romney | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mitt ’16 Gets Real, Praise The Lord”: Romney Tosses A Hand Grenade Into Jeb’s Tent

Just as it appeared the political news day was winding down, along came this bombshell from WaPo’s crack political reporters Costa, Rucker and Tumulty:

Mitt Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, spending the weekend and Monday calling former aides, donors and other supporters — as well as onetime foes such as Newt Gingrich.

Romney’s message was that he is serious about making a 2016 presidential bid. He told one senior Republican he “almost certainly will” run in what would be his third campaign for the White House, this person said.

His aggressive outreach over the past three days indicates that Romney’s declaration of interest to a group of donors in New York Friday was more than the release of a trial balloon but rather was the start of a concerted push by the 2012 nominee to be an active participant in the 2016 campaign.

Over the past few days, Romney has been in touch with an array of key allies to discuss his potential 2016 campaign, according to people with knowledge of the calls. They include Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), his former vice presidential running mate; former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (R); Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman; former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown; former Missouri senator Jim Talent; and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

I suppose you could call this a shot across Jeb Bush’s bow, though it seems a bit more like a hand grenade tossed into his tent. Check this part out:

In the conversations, Romney has said he is intent on running to the right of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who also is working aggressively to court donors and other party establishment figures for a 2016 bid. Romney has signaled to conservatives that, should he enter the race, he shares their views on immigration and on taxes — and that he will not run from party orthodoxy.

Well, lest we forget, Mitt ran as the Movement Conservative Candidate in 2008, and was Mr. Self-Deportation and Cut-Cap-Balance n 2012. Both those campaigns were a bit more recent than Jeb’s last, in 2002. But here’s a particularly strong signal:

On New Year’s Eve, Romney welcomed Laura Ingraham, the firebrand conservative and nationally syndicated talk-radio host, to his ski home in Deer Valley, Utah. The setting was informal and came about because Ingraham was vacationing in the area. Romney prepared a light lunch for Ingraham and her family as they spent more than one hour discussing politics and policy, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

A strong signal, and a strong stomach.

Well, it will be interesting to see how Mitt handles the alleged appetite of Republicans for “populism” going into 2016; of all his personas, I don’t think he’s ever worn that one. But his candidacy, unless this is a massive head-fake, sure will complicate the already insanely crowded 2016 field. Conservatives may cheer because Mitt ’16 will make the “Establishment” lane as crowded as their own. But as he’s shown before, he’s really good at projecting himself to primary voters as the electable and well-financed version of whatever it is they want.

As a progressive political writer, all I can do is to thank a beneficent God.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 12, 2014

January 13, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Facing A Demographic Reality”: The So-Called ‘War On Whites’ Is A Fight The GOP Can’t Win

At this point, you really have to wonder: Is it still news when a Republican says something asinine?

On the off chance it is, let us spend a few moments pondering the strange case of Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, who said last week that the Democratic Party is waging a “War on Whites.”

Yeah, he actually said that. You can look it up if you want.

Brooks was responding to radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, who had asked him to comment on a remark from National Journal columnist Ron Fournier to the effect that the GOP cannot continue to be competitive in national elections if it continues to alienate voters of color. This is a truth so self-evident as to have been adopted by the GOP itself in its “autopsy” report after the 2012 election.

Yet here is what Brooks said in response: “This is a part of the war on whites that is being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things.”

“A War on Whites.” Yet it’s President Obama who is guilty of racially inflammatory rhetoric?

Brooks’ words so alarmed Ingraham that she suggested his rhetoric was “a little out there.” This woman belches fire on all things conservative; for her to suggest you’ve gone too far is like Charlie Sheen telling you to cut back on hookers and cigarettes.

But Brooks doubled down, repeating the claim in an interview with a website, AL.com: “What the Democrats are doing with their dividing America by race is they are waging a war on whites and I find that repugnant.”

OK, so let’s say the obvious first. There’s something surreal and absurd about this lecture, coming as it does from a member of the party that invented the Southern strategy and birtherism and whose voters were last seen standing at the border screaming at terrified Guatemalan kids.

But it’s not the ridiculousness of Brooks’ words that should be of greatest concern. You see, Fournier is right. If something does not arrest its present trajectory, the GOP seems destined to shrink into a regional party with appeal only to older white voters. It will be irrelevant in a nation where white voters will soon cease to be a majority — no group will be a majority — and appeals to racial and cultural resentments have less power to sway elections.

That should concern the GOP brain trust. It should concern us all. As a practical matter, this country has only two political parties; if one ceases to be competitive, we become a de facto single party system. That is not democracy. No ideology has a monopoly on good ideas. So America needs a healthy Republican Party.

Yet for every Rand Paul trying — albeit in a fumbling and deeply flawed manner — to reach constituencies the party has written off and driven off, or to engage on issues it has disregarded, there seem to be five Mo Brookses doubling down on the politics of resentment and fear.

His party needs to realize once and for all that that day is done. It is critical for the GOP to wean itself from the cowardly belief that simply to discuss race and culture, to acknowledge disparity in treatment and outcomes, to put forward ways of addressing those things, constitutes “playing the race card” or “race baiting” or fighting a “war on whites.”

That idea was always wrongheaded and dumb. Very soon it will become electorally untenable as well. So the GOP must learn to speak a language it has shunned to people it has ignored.

Because its biggest threat is not the Democratic Party but demographic reality. And right now, that reality is winning, hands down.

 

By: Leonard Pitts. Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, August 11, 2014

 

August 12, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Republicans, War on Whites | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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