While national media twists themselves up trying to find reasons why Eric Cantor lost his primary Tuesday night, the obvious is right in front of them. They're still not talking much about it. However, Thom Hartmann got it right:
The official narrative is that Cantor lost because he was too "moderate" (from a Republican point of view, at least) on immigration, that he didn't spend enough time in his district, and that the conservative base was sick and tired of someone it saw as a sellout.
And while there is a lot of truth to that narrative - just check out any right wing blog and you'll see what I mean - it misses the bigger picture of what's really going on here.
One of the reasons - if not the biggest reason - Eric Cantor lost was that he totally underestimated the dark money machine that was the real force behind David Brat's campaign.
Brat's Stealth Dark Money Machine
The media is making it seem like Brat was some sort of underdog, but in reality, he's strapped to the hilt with billionaire support and billionaire money.
In fact, you could argue that he pretty much owes his job to people like the Koch brothers and their cronies. John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T bank and the current head of the Koch-founded Cato Institute, gave Brat's college a $500,000 fellowship back in 2010 so he could teach Ayn Rand and libertarianism at Randolph Macon University. Like hundreds of other college professors across the country these days, David Brat is really just a bought-and-paid-for shill of Charles and David Koch and their buddies.
The Kochs and their network have been funding academic institutions for years, most notably George Mason University's Mercatus Center, because they knew they had to bring up young academics in their libertarian money tradition in order to fully realize their political ambitions.
Brat's campaign manager, 23-year old Zachary Werrell, cut his political teeth at Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty, which is closely affiliated with Americans for Prosperity and the Kochtopus. His treasurer is Steven D'Ambrosia, an executive with Altria Corporation.
Free advertising, via right-wing talkers
Most significantly, Brat received the full support of the conservative messaging machine, from churches to right-wing talk radio hosts like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin.
Over the past few months, right-wing talkers like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin have been pushing Brat and attacking Cantor non-stop on their radio shows. Ingraham even went so far as to say that she wished that President Obama traded Eric Cantor to the Taliban in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl.
Laura and Mark are both on the populist end of the Republican Party, so it's not all that surprising that they would want to see Brat take down Cantor. But since both of them have taken a lot of money from conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity over the past few years, there's good reason to be suspicious of why they've been pushing so hard specifically for Brat.
As Politico reported a few months ago in what should have been a blockbuster story but was ignored by the mainstream media,"[F]ilings with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, as well as interviews and reviews of radio shows, found that conservative groups spent nearly $22 million to broker and pay for involved advertising relationships known as sponsorships with a handful of influential talkers including Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh ... Since then, the sponsorship deals have grown more lucrative and tea party-oriented..."
Levin alone apparently took about $757,000 from the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity over the 2012 election cycle, and if Politico's report is accurate, he's still taking money from them.
The reports are accurate.
Kochtopus tentacles and Mark Levin
Levin is also the architect and spokesperson for the 'movement' to calls a constitutional convention via the nonprofit Citizens for Self-Governance, which was incubated by the John Hancock Committee for the States.
Disgraced former Tea Party Patriot founder Mark Meckler serves as Executive Director of the John Hancock Committee (JHC) for the States and Citizens for Self-Governance alongside Ned and Drew Ryun, Tim Dunn and Michael Sullivan.
JHC was incubated by American Majority with the Ryuns at the helm. American Majority was incubated by the Sam Adams Alliance, funded with Koch and Bradley foundation funds.
In 2012, $900,000 flowed through the Vanguard Charitable Gift Fund to JHC. This Vanguard donor-advised fund is often used as a conduit by conservatives to direct anonymous donations to political organizations. In fact, it's not unusual to see donors move money into Donors' Trust or Donors' Capital and then out to Vanguard or Schwab's donor-advised funds to give them double indemnity against identification.
Thom Hartmann mentioned Pete Sessions' reference to a "Taliban-like insurgency". Here's what he meant:
"Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban," Sessions said. "And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about [sic] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with."
One of the ways to change processes is to mount a stealth campaign that runs under the radar of national media and challenges a high-ranking government leader. In other countries, they call it a coup. In the United States, it's a Republican primary.
Dave Brat isn't some populist lucky guy. He had a machine behind him. It's just that the machine wasn't one right in front of Beltway media, so they missed it and then created the myth of 'unpopular, unpopulist Eric Cantor' to counter it.
What about those voting machines?
Here's something else to consider: The vote counts seem skewed. Even if Cantor's internal polling was off by 15 or 20 points he should have won. I can't ever remember an election where polling was off by more than 30 points. Voting machine irregularities came immediately to mind. After all, a Taliban-like insurgency means everything goes, right?
As we've noted many times, problems with voting systems and tabulators often show up only days --- and sometimes weeks and months (or even years, as with the NYC incident cited above) --- later. Late last year, in Virginia, coincidentally enough, some 3,000 votes were discovered to have been left out from the final computer tabulator totals in the exceedingly close statewide race for Attorney General. Those missing votes were only noticed in the days following the election, as citizen experts pored over the reported results, attempting oversight, and looking for potential anomalies and inaccuracies in the incredibly close contest.
Three days ago, the Washington Post reported that Cantor's internal polling showed him 34 points ahead of Brat. Tonight, it's a given among the pundit class, that those numbers were simply wrong and tonight's completely unverified computer-reported results are correct, showing Cantor losing instead by more than 11 points.
Those results may be correct. Or they may not be. Nobody actually knows. Given the broad reported victory by Brat in several different counties, on several different voting systems, it seems, at first glance, unlikely that malfunction or malfeasance gave him the edge. Still, nobody actually knows that, as election results, even where they can be verified by human beings, will likely never be.
Read Brad's whole post, and look carefully at the numbers. Then compare those to the 2012 primary numbers, and tell yourself those voting machines are entirely accurate. As Brad says, maybe they are, and maybe they're not.
Don't kid yourself into believing this is some kind of populist outpouring. It's not. It is simply the Billionaire version of a Taliban-like insurgency, carefully orchestrated to harness the forces of religion and libertarianism. There's a reason Koch affiliates have poured big money into the religious-political complex since 2011, after all. Churches are one way to get out the vote, stealthily endorse candidates, and function as the fundamentalist Taliban in key districts.
The billionaires may have won this round, but they don't have to win in the general election provided people actually show up and vote in November. Spread the word.