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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

by Lee Fang, Republic Report

“All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail.”

That isn’t a quote from an Occupy Wall Street protester or Senator Elizabeth Warren. That’s a common campaign slogan repeated by Dave Brat, the Virginia college professor who scored one of the biggest political upsets in over a century by defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary last night.

The national media is buzzing about Brat’s victory, but for all of the wrong reasons.

Did the Tea Party swoop in and help Brat, as many in the Democratic Party are suggesting? Actually, The Wall Street Journal reports no major Tea Party or anti-establishment GOP group spent funds to defeat Cantor. Did Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, lose because of his religion, as some have suggested? There’s no evidence so far of anti-Semitism during the campaign. Was Cantor caught flatfooted? Nope; Cantor’s campaign spent close to $1 million on the race and several outside advocacy groups, including the National Rifle Association, the National Realtors Association and the American Chemistry Council (a chemical industry lobbying association) came in and poured money into the district to defeat Brat. The New York Times claims that Brat focused his campaign primarily on immigration reform. Brat certainly made immigration a visible topic in his race, but Republic Report listened to several hours of Brat stump speeches and radio appearances, and that issue came up far less than what Brat called the main problem in government: corruption and cronyism.

Brat told Internet radio host Flint Engelman that the “number one plank” in his campaign is “free markets.” Brat went on to explain, “Eric Cantor and the Republican leadership do not know what a free market is at all, and the clearest evidence of that is the financial crisis … When I say free markets, I mean no favoritism to K Street lobbyists.” Banks like Goldman Sachs were not fined for their role in the financial crisis — rather, they were rewarded with bailouts, Brat has said.

Brat, who has identified with maverick GOP lawmakers like Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, spent much of the campaign slamming both parties for being in the pocket of “Wall Street crooks” and D.C. insiders. The folks who caused the financial crisis, Brat says, “went onto Obama’s Rolodex, the Republican leadership, Eric’s Rolodex.”

During several campaign appearances, Brat says what upset him the most about Cantor was his role in gutting the last attempt at congressional ethics reform. “If you want to find out the smoking gun in this campaign,” Brat told Engelman, “just go Google and type the STOCK Act and CNN and Eric Cantor.” (On Twitter, Brat has praised the conservative author Peter Schweizer, whose work on congressional corruption forced lawmakers into action on the STOCK Act.)

The STOCK Act, a bill to crack down on insider trading, was significantly watered down by Cantor in early 2012. The lawmaker took out provisions that would have forced Wall Street “political intelligence” firms to register as traditional lobbyists would, and removed a section of the bill to empower prosecutors to go after public officials who illegally trade on insider knowledge. And Brat may be right to charge that Cantor’s moves on the STOCK Act were motivated by self interest. Cantor played a leading role in blocking legislation to fix the foreclosure crisis while his wife and his stock portfolio were deeply invested in mortgage banks.

Most self-described Tea Party Republicans, including Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, have railed against Washington in a general sense without calling out the powerful – often Republican-leaning — groups that wield the most power.

Not Brat.

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  • Ainslie

    Leave it to you to take the obvious route. He didn’t win by calling out GOP corruption. Brat won because of a lucrative arrangement between several right wing talk radio show hosts and groups like Americans for Prosperity & FreedomWorks.

    • charleo1

      A good article. And disgusting to read about. Like most everything
      they’re doing, their dupes will never hear, or read about it. Or dismiss
      it as more liberal lies. Thanks for the heads up!

  • charleo1

    Brat’s stump speech is a sort of mishmash of truisms, such as, he says he don’t like, crony capitalism. Who does, but Crony Capitalists? Which he describes as “Big Government in bed with big business.” Fair enough. But he really can’t say what he would propose to do about it. Says, he, “Doesn’t believe in anything that interferes with the free market.” When ask about the minimum wage. If he could support the concept he says, “He does’t have a prepared response,” This from an economics professor, came off as, dodgy, and not believable. He did add, he thought wages should be directly related to productivity. Again, it is unlikely an economics professor would not be aware of the aggregate increase in productivity, of between 100 & 200% on average, for American labor, since the the 70s. With real wage increases, after inflation, being less than 10%. Or, what he might propose to address the growing income, and wealth inequity quotient. When ask about job outsourcing, trade policy, new trade deals, etc. Claimed he was all for it, and no isolationists, when it came to trade. Said after the Second World War, we rebuilt the economies of Germany, and Japan, and that worked out fabulously! Didn’t seem to have noticed any changes whatsoever, since. Or, evidently hadn’t taken into consideration, our domestic loss of jobs to Germany, and Japan in the 50s, and 60s, being practically nil. Were any different than the 10/15 million jobs we’ve lost to the global economy in the last 20 years. On top of the stagnant wages, and the rest, that is cratering the Middle class. This while bashing Cantor for believing, or caving, to the whole, raising the debt ceiling, Vs. default scenario. So, I call him a liar, a dole, or more likely, another corporate shill, masquerading as a Right Wing Elizabeth Warren. Squawking a phony, populist line against a corrupt Washington, he can hardly wait to join.

    • Sand_Cat

      He sounds good, but anyone who hasn’t learned anything from the Michigan, NC, and other Repubs who sounded moderate until they got into office deserves to suffer the likely consequences.
      Can’t see how I’d ever even consider voting for the GOP, no matter how bad the Dem.

      • Russell Byrd

        Why is Brat even teaching at that college? The report I read said he had a Master in Divinity. That qualifies to teach economics. Creepy economics maybe. Or maybe, it is his particular brand of religion that is creepy. Probably both.

        After watching the Q and A with this clown, I concluded he does not even have one clue about the world about us or government at all. If the campaign is fought on “issues,” I know, fat chance, then he has not got a prayer. He is against everything, literally. What is worse, he does not seem to have a thought pattern to come up with anything else. He is just a parrot. A dumb parrot at that.

        I admit, I have not thoroughly vetted Brat. Some of my assumptions come from the fact that his opponent was reported to teach at the same school. That is, the school
        is not a religious nut-job diploma mill. Or have I erred?

    • CPAinNewYork

      You’re right Charle01, but one step at a time. Let’s get the Republicans out of the House, the Democrats into the House and leave the Democrats in the Presidency and the Senate. Then, we can clean up the mess in Washington.

      • dana becker

        As long as those Dems aren’t DINOs. I read the other day there are several Dems spouting the wonderful virtues of the Koch brothers. No real Democrat would do that. Are there even any Blue Dog Dems still there?. I have not heard that phrase since the battle for the ACA. Anyway, just make sure to vote. Don’t let another 2010 happen. Get your ID in order and do your civic duty. VOTE.

    • sigrid28

      And plus he belongs to the Ayn Rand fan club–even requires reading her novels for his classes and won funding for academic conferences devoted to her ideology.

      • Russell Byrd


        • sigrid28

          As part of vetting this new guy, perhaps the media will find out if he is on a tenure-track or is an adjunct instructor. In the second category, he gets paid by course (maybe $3,000 or so), no benefits and probably no office or computer account to speak of, and otherwise treated like a second class member of the faculty. Divinity M.A.’s teaching economics sound like adjunct to me: this method of paying instructors covers as much as 60% of faculty now working in colleges and universities nationwide. It saves these institutions money while freeing them from the obligations of supporting faculty members on the tenure-track.

          • Russell Byrd

            Good points. The community college I attended some years ago stayed in danger of losing its accreditation because the situation was so bad. Particularly in languages, English, social science, and the Humanities the total number of tenured professors was probably no more than 10%. Even computer science as well. History strangely, had roughly a 50% tenured staff. Their pay was miserable though.

            I just did not think about the full range of possibilities about this “Brat.” Do you think this pillar of absolute extreme libertarianism has ever held a “real” job? I can see where he might be an ideal Teapotty candidate. He has a high credential in what is functionally nothing but opinionated ignorance. No offense to some that actually study divinity, but often there is little way to tell the difference between intensive study for this degree, like most Catholic and Episcopalian priests, etc. and diploma mill rejects. This Brat did not seem to be any intellectual giant. In fact, I would look for a “vacancy” light to be flashing on him somewhere. Now I see if I wanted to teach I should have taken divinity rather than trying to beat my head against a wall for a more specialized degree. Darn. . . .

            I guess that is another reason he would be so against increasing government spending. If the college had a bigger budget, Brat would be out of his teaching McJob. Should we refer to this airhead as Mr. McTeach or Mr. McProf? I hope the college gets a little less desperate for low paid instructors real soon.

          • sigrid28

            “Aye, there’s the rub,” as our friend Shakespeare would say (who famously did not teach college classes): Brat’s Democratic opponent teaches at the same college! I find it ironic that the Tea Party types, who are so vehemently anti-intellectual that they condemn all academics, elected a college teacher in a primary, claiming that his position contributes to his suitability as their representative in Congress. Consistency has never been a strong suit of the Tea Party, but this is outright contradictory.

          • Russell Byrd

            In my rather simplistic, tiny brain I came to the conclusion that basically Teabuggers are against everything. Absolutely and literally. They vote in droves out of hatred, imaginary conspiracies, and unfathomable fear of an unknown they do not even understand, and do not want to understand.

            I think that Cantor’s campaign was incredibly overconfident. Add to that generations of Pubs discouraging people from voting. They destroy a lot of their own base while they are destroying their opponents. In the end, I think immigration may have had a lot to do with it, but I think all Brat had to do was say the phrase “I’m a Tea Pottier” and that was enough for the faithful. You could have put a strategically shaved ape into a suit and they would have voted for it. And an ape they did do.

            Have you heard this guy talk? He can teach like I can do brain surgery. He makes rocks appear to be PhD candidates. He is LAZY and unprepared, and seems rather confused. Unfortunately, as much as I am glad to see Cantor chased off with his tail between his legs, I don’t think Congress will be improved with this clown. However, even if the worst occurs, I will make a rare prediction and say that he will stink so bad that even the Teabuggers will have him out in 2016. In fact, if we do lose bad in 2014, Brat and company will just make a 2016 expulsion of all Teathugs more likely, and all the sweeter. BUT, let’s hope the electorate sees Brat as he is, and opts for his

            much smarter and better qualified opponent.

            And an opinion that I formed after considering your earlier post. Nowadays, on most college campuses Econ is taught as a “business” science rather than a social science like it used to be. While never an absolute Liberal haven, these days the average Econ professor is likely rather right-wing, rather than an idealist that is almost dead center politically. I think one reason for this is Econ, being in real little demand on many college campuses, would not be taught at all except in conjunction with the “greedier” college majors. 🙂

            So, my conclusion is that there is probably a Tea Potty “greed” school department head that keeps this train wreck of a adjunct in a job. Obviously, he is not qualified in any form or fashion. Even his required curriculum makes him a joke. Of course, in the end, I might be eating a lot of crow on this one, but I am going to stick with this line.

      • charleo1

        Sometimes I like to browse through the quotes, some of
        them are pretty funny. Like the late George Burns: “When
        I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick!” Burrumphhh!
        When I read this one, I thought of your Ayn Rand post.
        “The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.”
        William Hazlitt

  • CPAinNewYork

    It’s good to see a bum like Eric Cantor dumped. I’m just sorry that it came from within his own party. I would like to see the Republicans lose both the House, the Senate and the Presidency in the next few elections.

    Eric Cantor is a good start, but the job has to be finished.

    • Allan Richardson

      It could happen in November. The Democratic machine needs some fuel and lubricant to get up and running in VA-07. Campus volunteers will be key on both sides, hopefully more on the side of reason. After all, our message is that ALL Republicans dance to the music of Wall Street, even the TP (an “Astro-turf” creation of the Koch brothers and Faux Nooz), while Democrats try to listen to Main Street for the most part. And THIS candidate, Trammel, certainly is no Wall Street pawn!

      Remember, it was not a Tea Party victory, it was a NOT-CANTOR victory. Trammel is even more not-Cantor than Brat.

      • You missed this sentence about Obama’s rolodex.
        The folks who caused the financial crisis, Brat says, “went onto Obama’s Rolodex, the Republican leadership, Eric’s Rolodex.”

        • Dominick Vila

          What infuriated Republicans in Cantor’s district was his decision to support immigration reform. Never mind that the only President in modern history to grant amnesty to 4 million illegal immigrants in 1986 was none other that Ronald Reagan, the GOP “Saint”. Never mind the fact that immigration reform has more to do with changing our immigration laws to make them more effective and, hopefully, solve the illegal immigration problem once and for all. There are times when I think the reason for the GOP attacks and decisions is influenced by hatred, intolerance, and greed. At times, I wonder if the reason is ignorance, and sometimes I think they are plain crazy. Maybe it is all of the above…

  • dana becker

    His stand against big business influence is something i agree on but after reading his stance on social issues, I am not in agreement at all. He will take all the taxpayer subsidized benefits while cutting social safety nets for everyone else. No thanks. It just might be me who he is kicking to the curb. I haven’t been in need of help but who is to say I never will?

    • Russell Byrd

      That is why I abhor the Libertarian viewpoint. By nature, I have no problem with everyone having being as free as possible. So, at first glance I support that ideal. Yet, Libertarians wam’t all the freedom, and money, for themselves. Just none of the responsibilities.

      In other words, they want it all, but give nothing in return.

  • howa4x

    Cantor had delusions of invincibility and that led him to over look his challenger. He thought the moneyed interests would never let him fail, after he had done so much for them. It will be interesting to see if Wall st money starts pouring into Brat. Then he could easily be called a hypocrite. His course if funded by a major bank in Va so he is a friend of banking. We can see if he campaigns for an end to corporate welfare or is the same old republican and attacks poor kids on food stamps. He graduated a seminary so we have to see if he practices the same perverse Christianity that most republicans do, which is hostility against the poor in favor of the rich. It is hard for me to fathom how one group got religion so wrong. Now he won’t be going against mr money, but a sociology professor who will take him to the mat on ethics, not just in business but social justice issues. Then we will see the real Professor Brat emerge.

  • sigrid28

    Well, Democrats, don’t hold your breath about doing well in 2014, even with Cantor’s personal debacle. OFA is stating its role as strictly promoting progressive ideas and not offering blanket grassroots assistance, like highly targeted and well-informed volunteer phone banks. If Democrats think they can get their voters off their duffs with ads alone, they are dreaming. Even if this were possible, registering more voters is needed, not only to secure the Senate for 2014 but to cultivate a majority for the general election in 2016. Let’s not forget that local Democrats in Cantor’s district were caught so flatfooted that they didn’t even mount a candidate against Republicans until it was clear that Cantor had lost, and then they chose a member of the same faculty that Brat belongs to. The decision suggests the same nepotism and cronyism that dominates state politics for Democrats in Iowa. Nobody new to town need apply to man the phone for our town’s “Democratic Committee” which is by invitation only, just like the local Rod and Gun Club.

  • James Bowen

    Good article. Dave Brat’s stance specific stance on immigration was very much in line with his general anti-crony capitalism platform. Excessive immigration benefits no Americans except the wealthy.

  • Bambi

    All I can say is thank you Laura Ingram and the other publicity hound, Ann Coulter, aka GOP saboteurs…..for giving the Democrats their future wins. Can’t wait for the first debate….face it; immigration reform is dead for Republicans. And they were hoping for reform? Double edge sword. Eric Cantor was the reform saint, until those lacking critical thinking skills entered the equation. Now, no Republican is safe with these garbage collectors aka political pundits, at the helm. And that’s just fine in my book. Keep your yellow flags close to your head, because yellow is non-emotional, coming from the head rather than the heart.