Eric Cantor and the Conventional Wisdom By Roger Kimball

There are two words that recur like a drumbeat in the news stories about David Brat’s defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia primary last night. One is “historic.” The second is some variant of “stunning” (“staggering,” “shocking,” etc.). John Fund does us the courtesy of deploying both: “Eric Cantor’s loss is historic,” he writes at National Review [1]. “No sitting House majority leader has lost an election since the office was created in 1899. While Cantor’s loss was a stunning surprise, the warning signals were around for a while.” He then supplies a list of explanations that seemed obvious only after David Brat won. Yesterday afternoon, the wise men of the commentariat would have dismissed them with a self-assured thoroughness and consistency that is truly marvelous to behold.

“Historic” and “stunning.” That is, the triumph of the tea-party-backed economics professor was both 1) important and 2) unexpected.

It was unexpected because (for example) Cantor outraised Brat by $5.7 million to $231,000 [2]. Cantor was the establishment candidate. He has (how long before that “s” becomes a “d”?) a national profile. Brat is . . . (pause for Wikipedia check) an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, an obscure institution in Ashland, Virginia.

Frankly, though, what surprises me about such events as David Brat’s victory is the surprise they occasion. Nigel Farage and the other anti-EU politicians weren’t supposed to trounce the established parties in the European elections a couple of weeks ago. Members of the established parties and the human remora [3] that attend them told us so. But Farage, Le Pen, and the rest trounced them across Europe. This, said Manuel Valls [4], the French prime minister, was “a shock, an earthquake that all responsible leaders must respond to.”

Right. And how’s that working out? From where I sit, the response of “responsible leaders,” i.e., representatives of the conventional wisdom, has been mostly confined to what they used to call in the Wild West a circling of the wagons. Demonize the bastards. Ostracize ’em. Talk incessantly about “fringe candidates” and “extremists” who cannot win (except they just did), who will upset the status quo, which by an extraordinary coincidence just happens to benefit those registering their “shock,” their having been “stunned,” “staggered,” not to say “utterly dismayed.”

Cantor’s Loss and the Sensenbrenner Bill to Empower Eric Holder Posted By J. Christian Adams

So Majority Leader Eric Cantor has lost to a Tea Party candidate. Correction, Majority Leader Eric Cantor was crushed by a Tea Party candidate.

In some ways, Cantor’s exit is a political tragedy. It shows that flirting with the existential enemies of the Constitution, of liberty, and of core Republican principles can bear a very heavy price. I’m convinced that had Cantor resisted the siren calls of the left on two key issues — immigration and giving Eric Holder renewed power over state elections — he would have won tonight.

The moral of the story tonight is that when a Republican flirts with the left, that Republican risks it all. This isn’t 1995 anymore. Party insiders are less equipped to drive a narrative than they used to be. Now, talk radio, conservative media and grassroots organizing can drive an outcome better than a party apparatus. Big Money doesn’t produce the big results it used to. Insurgents, in the right battlespace, can beat the most powerful incumbents if they battle smart.

Back to the two issues that undermined Cantor — immigration and reempowering Eric Holder to control state elections.

Immigration was by far the more dominant of the two issues in the Cantor loss. Others have covered it better than I will here. But something odd happened over the weekend.

First, I, along with other conservative leaders like former Attorney General Ed Meese and Ken Blackwell, sent Mr. Cantor a letter. The letter addressed a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wi) that would reverse a Supreme Court decision and give Eric Holder renewed powers over state elections, including the power to block photo voter ID and citizenship verification procedures. It was a power wickedly abused by the Holder Justice Department (where I used to work) and is regularly used to help Democrats in the name of civil rights. The bill sponsored by Rep. Sensenbrenner explicitly removes white voters from the protection of the law and unleashes all sorts of other mischief and federal mandates on state election officials. The letter to Mr. Cantor stated:

This bill will fundamentally and intentionally change American elections into race-reliant battlefields where, for the first time in our history, the United States, as a legal matter, would EXCLUDE a majority of Americans as a class from the full protection of the law – based solely on the color of their skin. As House Majority Leader you alone have the authority to bring this bill to a vote. Therefore, your continued ambiguity on a bill that is so clearly and deeply flawed is troubling to say the least. On behalf of our organizations, and of the millions we collectively represent, we are compelled to reach out to you directly and ask for a meeting to address the issue and your intentions.

There it is. The election in Virginia tonight can be explained by two words: continued ambiguity. The continued ambiguity undermined Cantor’s brand as a fighter for limited government. Cantor went to Selma, Alabama, and marched with some of the most bitter racialists in American politics. It was all part of an effort to cozy up with the NAACP and ethic interest group crowd. Instead of snuffing out the effort to give Eric Holder more power over state elections, the majority leader may have tried to build a bridge with the left.


Four years ago I predicted that the result of America’s apparently successful effort to contain violence in Iraq through the so-called “surge” would be a devastating and uncontrollable civil war in Iraq. I titled the essay “Gen. Petraeus’ Thirty Years War,” arguing that

Petraeus created a balance of power between Sunnis and Shi’ites by reconstructing the former’s fighting capacity, while persuading pro-Iranian militants to bide their time. To achieve this balance of power, though, he built up Sunni military power to the point that – for the first time in Iraq’s history – Sunnis and Shi’ites are capable of fighting a full-dress civil war with professional armed forces.

Gen. David Petraeus, then the American commander in Iraq, quieted the Sunni opposition to the American-backed Shi’ite majority government by giving them money and weapons. By doing so the U.S. rebuilt the Sunni military capability that it had ruined in 2003 when it destroyed the government of Saddam Hussein. With the fighting capacity of the Sunni minority now on par with the Shi’ite-majority government army, as we saw in the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

I have nothing to add to what I wrote four years ago about the bungling of the Bush administration as compounded by Obama. The present disaster in Iraq is not wholly of our making, but American policy was a key enabler. The “surge” made it inevitable. There will be no resolution now without the exhaustion of the contending forces, in a long war of attrition with dreadful consequences for civilians, starting with the 500,000 who fled Mosul this week.

In a broader sense, American bungling set the stage for Syria’s civil war as well. I had the Ghost of Cardinal Richelieu explain why in a 2012 essay:

Richelieu looked at me with what might have been contempt. “It is a simple exercise in logique. You had two Ba’athist states, one in Iraq and one in Syria. Both were ruled by minorities. The Assad family came from the Alawite minority Syria and oppressed the Sunnis, while Saddam Hussein came from the Sunni minority in Iraq and oppressed the Shi’ites.


In Andrew McCarthy’s excellent new book “Faithless Execution” he lists President Obama’s flouting of the law. While there is enough evidence to lead to impeachment, McCarthy recognizes that there is no public appetite for impeachment but still hopes that Americans and their legislators will insist that the President abide by the law and by the Constitution and by the mandates given to the President of the United States to govern with transparency.

Yesterday to my extremely pleasant surprise I learned of an organization that actually does insist on transparency in government with scrupulous research. Please go to their site and subscribe:

Open The Books founded by Adam Andrzejewski, is a project of American Transparency, a 501(c)3 non-partisan, non-profit organization. Visit us online at

“Open The Books” has become a national rallying cry for transparency in public spending.

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, sponsor of the 2006 “Google Your Government Act,” recognized our work, “Open the Books is doing the work I envisioned when the Coburn-Obama bill became law. Their innovative app and other tools are putting sunlight through a magnifying glass.”

Please contact us to help “Open The Books” on your state and local units of government. Our goal is to post “Every Dime. Online.” of all government spending. Currently displayed are 1 billion lines of spending from federal, state and local governments across America.

Open The Books Transparency Portal

Adam Andrzejewski, CEO
Read biography:

Read local profile:
Matthew Tyrmand, Deputy Director
Craig Mijares, Chief Technology Officer



When speaking of Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940), Menachem Begin habitually referred to him by the traditional rabbinical honorific of rabi v’mori, “my master and mentor.” And yet Begin was in some ways, as Daniel Gordis writes in his recently published biography, “the most Jewish prime minister that Israel has ever had,” while Jabotinsky, in the eyes of many of his contemporaries and not a few historians of our own time, was the “least Jewish” Zionist leader of his age. Did Begin deliberately overlook this in honoring the man whose follower he was as a young Polish Zionist in the 1930s? Did he misunderstand Jabotinsky? Or did he understand him better than others did?

Jabotinsky, as I observe in my own newly published biography, was not the product of the assimilated or even semi-assimilated Jewish home that he is commonly thought to have been. His widowed mother (his father died when he was a small boy) kept a kosher kitchen, regularly lit Sabbath candles, spoke Yiddish far better than Russian, and saw to it that her son studied Hebrew and had bar-mitzvah lessons. This is not what is generally thought of as assimilation, even if Jabotinsky rarely attended synagogue as a boy and had little familiarity with the world of Jewish religious ritual that Begin was thoroughly at home in.

Nor would anyone have thought of it as assimilation had Jabotinsky grown up in Central or Western Europe, where real assimilation was widespread, rather than in the Czarist empire, where it was not. Yet the Eastern Europe he grew up in was that of cosmopolitan, sophisticated Odessa, the least East-European-like city ruled by the Czar, and, Jewishly speaking, the distance between him and Begin might be said to have been no greater, if also no less, than the distance between late-19th- and early-20th-century Odessa and Begin’s native town of Brest-Litovsk, the Jewish Brisk, in the 1920s and ’30s.

In fact, this has been said, and the first time it was said, as far as I know, was as long ago as 1950. To understand the context it was said in, moreover, we need go back still further, to September 1938. It was then that the third world convention of Betar, the Zionist youth movement founded by Jabotinsky and affiliated with his Revisionist party, was held in Warsaw.


The House of Representatives of the United States will very likely swear in this fall a former Randolph-Macon College (R-MC) economics professor, Dr. David Alan Brat — or Dave Brat, as he prefers to be called.

In a stunning upset whose shock waves have yet to be fully felt or understood, Brat handily defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Evidently taken aback by this unexpected and unprecedented outcome, Cantor failed to include the obvious in his concession speech: “I congratulate my opponent and promise to work to elect him in the fall.” Let’s hope Mr. Cantor does that soon. Americans don’t like sore losers.

According to the home page of R-MC’s Economics/Business Department, which Dr. Brat joined in 1996, he taught the following courses:

Intermediate Microeconomic Theory.
Public Finance.
International Economic Development.
Economic Justice.

The last of these is especially telling. Here is the course description:

An historical examination of the major conceptions of economic justice primarily in the Western world. Major ethical schools of thought include the Socratic/Platonic/Aristotelian, the Judeo-Christian, and the Enlightenment school of Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill and Marx. Finally, contemporary moral theorists such as John Rawls and Robert Nozick will be used to compare/contrast this legacy of ethical thought with the orthodox models of economic thought, as represented in the writings of economists such as Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman.

Cantor Fell Because He Wouldn’t Fight the Good Fight By Rabbi Aryeh Spero

Cantor became the national symbol of a Republican Party unwilling to represent our people in our need to stop a corrupt and dictatorial President and his party.

Tuesday night, David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, right outside Richmond, accomplished something stunning: defeating the House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, something never done before in American history.

Some are trying to pigeonhole Mr. Brat as a Tea Party candidate, but the truth is that, while he appeals to the Tea Party constituency, he is what a bread-and-butter Republican is supposed to be: a believer in free markets, limited government, strong defense, and a morality based in our Judeo-Christian ethos.

I first met Mr. Brat years back when he invited me to speak at Randolph-Macon College on the topic of “The Morality of Capitalism” based on an article I had published in the Wall Street Journal. He is well grounded in the fundamentals of American political philosophy.

The issue of immigration played heavily in the last two weeks of the campaign: specifically, the unacceptable daily phenomenon of illegals walking across the border and almost immediately becoming wards of the state by taxing hardworking American citizens and too-quickly finding loopholes for them to vote and determine America’s destiny. Americans are afraid they are losing their country and are being made powerless to stop it.

Mr. Cantor, as House Majority Leader together with Speaker Boehner, did not seem to share the alarm that many of us do. In effect, an invasion is happening to America and the weapons are not bullets but the ballot box: Democrat leaders are orchestrating an influx of illegals to use the ballot box to install socialism and permanently maintain the power of the Democrat Party. Their eligibility to vote is often suspect, but legitimate challenges are shot down by invoking the tried-and-tested accusation of racism.


It may seem extraordinary, but Hamas used to be seen as gentle and enlightened by many in the Arab world. But as the reality of its brutal rule in Gaza is revealed, minds are changing, as this personal testimony illustrates

As an Arab, when I heard about the Fatah-Hamas unity government, I was happy and saw this as positive. In fact, like many in the Arab world, I had always thought that Hamas was a force for good and represents a majority of the Palestinian people.

However, my eyes were opened via a chance meeting I had recently with a Palestinian from Khan Yonis who related some horrible stories that disclosed to me a dark side of Hamas that had not been visible to me. Before telling any of these stories, I should say that the young man at first asked me not to write anything about our meeting.

“Please don’t write about what I told you; please don’t write anything; Hamas reads everything in the news, and has a very strong intelligence body; they even spy on us; it is not difficult at all for them to know what they want to know; if they know me, they will kill not only me but also my whole family; they’re real criminals.”

After a long series of attempts, I convinced him that I would keep his identity anonymous and that everything wouldl be okay.

The young man was genuinely frightened. He said that Hamas had killed four people (a physician, a judge, an engineer, and a lawyer) from his family, who were semi-opponents of the group. “Hamas broke into our houses using heavy weapons; Hamas militants invaded us like tartars and we were like orphans with no power at all to resist; they killed many of us,” he stated.

Two Generations Lost to Communism 50 years of Communism Have Left Cuba Poorer Than Ever: Tim Congdon ****

Old habits die hard. On April 29, Itar-Tass, the state-owned Russian news agency, issued a press release. Following talks between Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, Russia is keen to invest in Cuba.

The two countries want to resolve tensions arising from a legacy of debt that has long plagued relations between them. In the 30 years before its break-up, the Soviet Union supplied Cuba with oil at beneath the world market price, and did not always demand full and immediate payment.

Cuba sent the bulk of its sugar production to the Comecon countries in return, but the value of the sugar exported was much less than that of the oil imported. Over the years Cuba incurred a debt of about $35 billion.

Russia’s rulers, lonely in European diplomatic circles after their annexation of Crimea, have decided they need friends in the world. Cuba is being embraced as if the Cold War had never ended. So the recent talks have resulted in Russia writing off 90 percent of the $35 billion owed by Cuba.

This may sound drastic, but all is not lost. The two governments, no doubt with assorted cronies and hangers-on, can work together to profit from the remaining $3.5 billion. The Itar-Tass press release quotes Lavrov as saying that the $3.5 billion will be transformed into “investments” and, in his words, “we’re interested in making these investments productive to the maximum.”

In the geopolitical struggles between capitalism and Communism in the 20th century, Cuba had an importance out of all proportion to its size. When Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista dictatorship in 1959, many outsiders expected his government to be quickly replaced by one more friendly to American interests. But Cuba adopted a communist model devised by Che Guevara, the theoretician of the revolution, and received such massive help from the Soviet Union that the new regime became entrenched.



The best candidates for GOP leader are Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling.

The rout of Majority Leader Eric Cantor means a period of turmoil for House Republicans, but also a chance for some new and invigorating leadership. Mr. Cantor announced Wednesday he’ll resign as leader by the end of July, and various Members are considering a run to replace him. This is a chance to fix what has too often been a dysfunctional majority.

One place to start is not by panicking into a false conclusion about the reasons for defeat. David Brat, the economics professor who beat Mr. Cantor 56% to 45%, rode a wave of popular frustration with Washington and an incumbent who had lost touch with his district. Considering the unpopularity of Congress, the surprise this year is that we haven’t seen more such upsets.

Far from being a radical, Mr. Brat sounded traditional free-market themes and assailed the House GOP for getting too close to big business. He ran against Fannie Mae FNMA Freddie Mac, , as well as the farm and flood insurance bills that Mr. Cantor guided through the House this year. To the extent his victory warns the GOP to disavow crony capitalism, Mr. Brat has done a public service. Let’s hope he joins the GOP’s growth wing, and maybe now the Export-Import Bank will finally be allowed to expire.

Mr. Cantor also suffered from having to govern in a polarized Washington. That fault lies more with President Obama and the Republican kamikazes who hurt the GOP image by shutting down the government, but many grass-roots activists wanted someone to pay for that political failure. Mr. Cantor’s national travels also took him away from his district and he rarely engaged with grass-roots activists.