Cutthroats and Useful Idiots

If your reading of local commentary extends beyond papers like the Central Virginian, you might appreciate an older 2014 letter from the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star written by A. Beecher Sutherland, now a former member of the Orange County Republican Committee.

Where he states that “The Republican Party or, more specifically, the tea party Republicans, have just slit their throats in the 7th District of Virginia,” and when you “… mix enthusiasm with stupidityyou soon havewhat Vladimir Lenin once referred to as “useful idiots.”

Yet when you ask any of them why they worked so hard to get rid of Eric Cantor, they are hard pressed to give any coherent answers. And since most of these folks were the same ones responding enthusiastically to Cantor’s dog whistles for these past seven elections, one has to ask, what changed their minds?

Was it really because those dog whistles were starting sounding shriller and shriller, and less “real” as the years went by? Or was it because they needed something else to focus on, something that could give all their fears and prejudices a new relevancy?

And since much of conservative’s cultural identity is based on being opposed to everything liberal, despising anything associated with it, including empiricism and reason, and “where being a “conservative” increasingly means taking a contemptuous view of reality. And so the proudly ignorant grow more belligerent, day after day.”

Brats Supporters

And while these enthusiastic tea party supporters certainly did their part in ridding the 7th district of Eric Cantor,  they were joined by many Democrats who remain convinced it was their vote that put Brat over the top.  Now there would finally be a “weak” Republican in office who could be defeated over the course of the next few election cycles.

What neither Democrats or Republicans realized is that Brat wasn’t just another pretty boy party stooge, he is just one of many Manchurian candidates  supported by a cadre of right wing supporters from around the country, and he’s been involved in implementing their agenda for over a decade.

Even before formally entering into politics,  Dave Brat was  a proud participant in the BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Program funded by John Allison, head of the  Cato Institute, one of the many organizations sponsored by the Koch brothers.

According to Allison, this is just one of 68 programs around the country “at most of the major universities in our operating area.” Boasting that “many [students] indicate the program is the first time they have heard capitalism defended from an ethical perspective.”

As a college professor, Dave Brat was  a bought-and-paid-for shill who was part of a well coordinated effort to steer the next generation of young people into their brand of libertarian economics.

But the connections between Brat and his libertarian supporters doesn’t stop there. And even though many on the left felt that his historic primary win seemed to have the Koch brothers fingerprints all over it, in fact both the Koch Industries’ PAC and David Koch personally donated to Cantor’s campaign.

What Democrats and Cantor both missed was that during the 2014 primary campaign, right-wing radio hosts like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin were pushing Brat non-stop on their radio shows. And according to a recent  Politico report, their shows were part of a fast growing and influential network of conservative radio talk shows that were driving and keeping the countries conservative movement alive.

Filings with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, as well as interviews and reviews of radio shows, found that conservative groups (including the Koch Brothers sponsored group Americans for Prosperity) spent nearly $22 million to broker and pay for sponsorship’s with a handful of influential talkers… Since then, the sponsorship deals have grown more lucrative and tea party-oriented.”

Levin alone apparently took about $757,000 from Americans for Prosperity over the 2012 election cycle, and according to Politico, he’s still taking money from them. And while we don’t know specifics about just how much money Ingraham took from conservative groups, we do know that she is or at least was taking money from them, which could go a long way towards explaining her enthusiasm for David Brat.

Nor does Brat’s plutocratic sponsorship stop there, since taking office he has been a regular contributor to the Washington Times  (aka Moonie Times) and the Washington Examiner, along with being given seemingly limitless op-ed space in the BH Media Group chain of regional papers, which includes the conservative Richmond Times Disgrace, the Charlottesville Daily Progress, and the Fredericksburg Fer-De-Lance Star.

It should be noted that the Examiner, along with The Weekly Standard, one of the nation’s most influential conservative magazines , AND now daily web site is owned by Phil Anshutz, an ultra conservative billionaire. And like the Standard’s original owner, Rupert Murdoch, Anshutz’s instructions to his employees were explicit, “…nothing but conservative columns and conservative op-ed writers.”

So make no mistake, “David Brat isn’t just some college professor, he’s a foot soldier of the libertarian billionaire class and its army of talk radio hosts. This is the brave new world of dark money politics, a raving-loon industrial complex … financed by a vast lagoon of plutocratic payola.

And just days after his primary win Brat received the maximum $5,000 donation from Sarah Palin’s leadership PAC, the National Association for Gun Rights PAC, the National Automobile Dealers Association’s PAC and Rep. Louie Gohmert‘s (R-Texas) leadership PAC.

And despite campaigning against corporate sponsorship, Brat has managed to capture many of Cantor’s former supporters as his own, receiving contributions from several corporate PACs that had been Cantor donors, including those of tobacco giant Altria, professional services firm Deloitte and AKSM, a medical company.

Brat’s campaign received more than $550,000 from  individual donors, and most of that — $468,000 — came in contributions of greater than $200, with nearly a third of those  donations coming from groups or individuals outside Virginia.

Several high-profile House members, as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee, have kicked in to help the giant-slayer as well. And the man responsible for a seismic shakeup in the House Republican leadership has since received campaign contributions from its top members — Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Boehner and McCarthy joined fellow Republican Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Randy Forbes (R-Va.) in donating to Brat’s campaign through their leadership PACs, giving in amounts that ranged from $1,000 to $5,000.. with Scalise giving $2,000 directly from his campaign account.

Other donors to Brat’s campaign include the Senate Conservatives Fund, Virginia Senate candidate Ed Gillespie and of course the Koch Industries‘ corporate PAC.

Whenever Brat speaks in public, you can count on the entire affair being tightly controlled, scripted and little more than dog and pony shows for the faithful.

From his  informal meet & greets at brewery’s to more Town Hall’s he goes out of his way to give his supporters the impression that he’s taking from the heart.  Although to call these Town Halls meetings informative, is to give credence to his pretense of “listening” to what the audience has to say.

With one commentator over at the conservative blog Bearing Drift making the following observations about Brat’s meetings, “But… But… But… Brat listens to his constituents! It doesn’t matter if he does anything in Congress, is a nativist, or is incompetent, he strokes the egos of his base and that’s what matters! It really is a cultish devotion to an Elmer Gantry like snake oil salesman.


Frankly it’s scary to see his call and response speeches to his followers. He frames his questions in such a way as to get the answers he wants and they suspend critical thinking to provide those answers. And then feel like he is “listening“.

Anyone  who attended his Town Hall in Louisa this past February, would have found this observation to be an accurate take on what happened.  The purpose of that Town Hall wasn’t to inform the people about his actions in Congress, it was a tent revival gathering of the faithful.

And just like the 2014 Town Hall hosted by State Republican Delegate Farrell, and Senators Reeves and Garrett, Brat told the audience  exactly what they wanted to hear.

With such a cast of characters supporting him, perhaps that’s why Mr. Sutherland decided to leave the Republican party. Let’s hope more come to their senses after his first do-nothing term in office and follow suite, because it’s obvious that Brat’s all about exploiting existing nativistic and racist sentiments in order to cover how faithfully he implements his master’s agenda.

Jon Taylor

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