In June of this year, AlterNet quietly published an article about Herman Cain's deep ties to Americans for Prosperity. At the time, no one paid close attention because most people had no idea who Herman Cain was or why they should care. But now
October 17, 2011

In June of this year, AlterNet quietly published an article about Herman Cain's deep ties to Americans for Prosperity. At the time, no one paid close attention because most people had no idea who Herman Cain was or why they should care. But now that Cain is the current frontrunner of the day in the Republican primaries, it's worth revisiting and re-examining Cain's close relationship to the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity.

From the AlterNet article:

Not only is Cain a frequent speaker at AFP Foundation events, he was also, by his own account, tapped by [Mark] Block to be one of the faces of Prosperity 101, a workplace seminar program, designed for employers to present to their employees at "voluntary" workplace gatherings where they are told that the legislative initiatives typically embraced by Democrats -- health-care reform, energy reform, higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans -- could so hurt their employers as to force layoffs. The program was set in motion during the lead-up to the 2010 elections. (AlterNet, working in collaboration with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, published an expose on Prosperity 101 last week.)

Mark Block is Herman Cain's campaign manager now. And about Prosperity 101? Here's an excerpt from that expose published in June:

The idea behind Prosperity 101 is simple: Employers gather employees for a "voluntary" seminar where nervous workers, already sweating in an economy that is shedding jobs, are told that government regulation, unions and tax increases -- even if only on the wealthy -- are bad for their employers, thereby threatening the workers' own livelihoods. Then they're reminded to vote -- for example, in last year's midterm elections. (The Prosperity 101 textbook includes a sample voter registration form from the State of Wisconsin.) And in the program textbook, employee participants are urged to join Americans for Prosperity, which has a history of alliances with GOP candidates.

In the textbook's introduction, Hansen, Prosperity 101's creator, plays on workers' fears of economic insecurity, stirred up by the lingering recession:

'You go to work every day, giving your best efforts in hopes of keeping your job through every economic cycle and every corporate downsizing…Will you be included in the next round of layoffs?… Do you know your job security is not just dependent on your performance?...Prosperity 101(TM) is designed to empower you, the employee, to go beyond your paradigms and look at job protection in a new way.'

It isn't just Herman Cain involved in Prosperity 101, either. The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore and John Fund were also involved.

In addition to workplace "education", Prosperity 101 is actively involved in voter registration drives in the workplace. From The Nation Institute:

"A key component of Prosperity 101 is working with employers to help them encourage voter registration among their employees," Hansen, trim and stylish at 52, explained to the crowd. "So when Herman [Cain] first heard the concept here, he said, 'You've come up with the answer to ACORN!'"

Hansen then played the Prosperity 101 promotional video, which features Cain and the Journal's Stephen Moore.

Moore's segment confers a crucial air of legitimacy upon Prosperity 101 by virtue of his post at the world's premier financial newspaper, an affiliation that is highlighted both in the video and in the program's other promotional materials. "Washington is working against employers," Moore tells viewers. "It's working against people who are trying to create wealth and are trying to employ workers."

Each audience member received a copy of the program's textbook, a slender paperback that features material by Cain and Moore, among others.

Suddenly Herman Cain's "surge" begins to fall into place. The combination of workplace indoctrination and voter registration last year means many workers have a clear idea of who he is, as compared to others. At this point, he may be the single candidate with name recognition.

There's an even larger strategy at work here, coordinated with tea party groups and others who seek to drive a wedge into the African-American community and shave away some of Barack Obama's popularity. They do this by playing the "Cain would be the first 'REAL' black President" card. That initiative has begun and is spreading via conservative radio talkers and tea party groups, who see it as an opportunity to push back on the perception that they're racists.

Think Progress:

That notion, however, spurred Ingraham to contemplate the GOP’s African-American presidential candidate Herman Cain. In comparing the “blackness” of the two African American politicians, Ingraham wondered whether Cain would actually be 'the first black president' because he doesn’t 'have a white mother, white father.' Therefore,isn’t he the real black candidate?:

INGRAHAM: And what happened with Obama is that he gets this job that he’s not qualified for… OK, so [Obama is] Constitutionally qualified for but he’s not really qualified for. And guess who pays the price? All of us. Because we had such a yearning for history.Well I have a question. Herman Cain, if he became president, he would be the first black president, when you measure it by — because he doesn’t — does he have a white mother, white father, grandparents, no, right? So Herman Cain, he could say that he’s — he’s — he’s the first, uh — he could make the claim to be the first — yeah, the first Main Street black Republican to be the president of the United States. Right? He’s historic too.

Listen to it here:

By the way, this really is an issue in the African-American community. Mixed race is another layer to the already-complicated race issue, which is why the Kochs hope it will effectively divide them.

As much as I'd like to shrug Herman Cain off as the newest Republican shiny thing, it's difficult to do when he enjoys the corporate backing of Rupert Murdoch, Charles Koch and David Koch. I expect they will throw as much mud and money as need be to get their guy in the front of the pack. The Wall Street Journal is moving full-tilt boogie to attack the President on as many fronts as possible, including this ridiculous editorial published yesterday, which once again begins with the even more ridiculous premise that President Obama is a "loner." Ann Althouse joined the echo chamber with her own laudatory review of Cain's Meet the Press appearance yesterday, practically falling over herself in adoration of his heritage:

Notice how simply and vividly he struck a chord — the classic black American experience — and made it resonate for anyone who works for living. There is a quality of nobility, that fits with the idea of heritage.

The bottom line here is that Charles and David Koch are patient men with a lot of money. Cynical patient men. They will stop at nothing to enrich themselves at the expense of every citizen in this country, including grooming and backing a completely unqualified candidate, extolling his heritage as being "authentic African-American," and positioning him as the guy with the awesome tax plan that will cripple the working poor in this country more than they already are, even as they clamor for it.

David Axelrod may think Cain isn't a top-tier candidate, but David and Charles Koch see that differently. As long as they have the money and resources to pour into his campaign, my suspicion is that he will continue to 'surge', at least until he implodes like the rest of them seem to do.

In the meantime, I expect we will be hearing and seeing a lot more of Herman Cain.

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