What changed in 2017 allowing sex crime victims to speak out?

The current spate of delayed high-profile sex crime allegations has to be one of the oddest phenomena in modern American history. Why in 2017 are these accusations, many of which seem credible, suddenly coming forth?

Sexual harassment has been considered taboo in the workplace for decades. Pedophilia has not had mainstream proponents for a long time and in recent memory seems to rank with other capital crimes in the minds of most Americans. And it isn’t as though we have suddenly found rape distasteful.

Yet these three crimes appear to have been committed on a large scale at the highest levels of American culture, among our political class and the entertainment elites whom we allow to form a lot of our popular attitudes, for years. For many, many years.

The duration of this unreported criminality is what really boggles the mind. Out here in the non-elite world, there seems to be quite a social prohibition against sexual misconduct.

Granted, there is a gray area with sex crime, and offenders are often not prosecuted or, if brought to justice, not convicted. Historically, people tend to get away with it at a higher rate than many crimes because of the nuances related to the offense. Sexual contact can be a normal human behavior in some instances, but not in others, which makes it different from robbery or assault or murder. Surprisingly often, prosecutors will not even bring charges. But all that is a discussion for another day.

What’s not a gray area in 2017 is that we now know literally hundreds of people have considered themselves victims of criminal sexual behavior and have desired to bring an accusation to the attention of apparently proper authorities, but were not listened to, or were threatened to keep quiet, or were punished into keeping quiet.

Why all of the alleged incidents could have been buried is not itself a huge mystery. People with money or influence accused of a crime probably have various means available to shut up their accusers. At the top echelons of Hollywood or Washington DC, where much of this criminality is supposed to have taken place, such power to silence victims would not be surprising.

But the weird thing is: some big change has taken place in America in 2017 that has opened a floodgate of victims suddenly overcoming the fears and powers-that-be that previously had them silenced.

Why do they now feel able to speak out? Certainly, the powers-that-be were all still in power when this series of bombshells began to explode a few months back. If people had money or influence in 2016 and before, they still had it this year, one would assume. Was there some larger controlling authority, some sinister force, in their minds at least, that no longer frightens them into silence?

These seem to be questions worth considering, as we reflect on a year that unfolded sort of chaotically but may be looked back upon as transformative when the history is written years from now.

Virginia Republican Loss Reveals Miscalculation

Here is a follow-up to the last post, about the rebuke Virginia Republicans suffered at the polls at the November 7, 2017 elections. My criticism might seem presumptuous without backing up the argument.

And yes, the Republicans were “rebuked” in the elections in the same sense that the rats that attempted to move into our yard were rebuked when I electrocuted them and threw their carcasses in the trash bin from whence they were hauled to the landfill.

I will note that there are likely much bigger stories in America right now than the GOP’s epic stomping in the Commonwealth. One gets the feeling events are afoot that could eclipse Virginia politics, but more on that below.

The reason I made the Republicans sound silly is because they seem to be operating with a concept of the Virginia electorate that defies common sense and basic arithmetic. As best as I can figure, the Virginia Republicans’ electoral calculation goes like this:

1). Subtract Democrat Party voters
2). Subtract supporters of President Trump
3). ??
4). VICTORY!

For the November 7 elections, step #3 was apparently “Be as boring as an old shoe.” That, we now know, was not a winning answer.

As noted last time, the Virginia GOP “expert” contingent have apparently decided that one cliff dive was not enough so they are preparing the party to take another plummet next year. To understand the mindset, it’s worth noting how they got to step #2 above.

Following the November 7 catastrophe, Republicans and conservatives from across the country weighed in in comments to the many news and social media stories. A familiar refrain was to the effect that “you have never seen such a hive of scum and villainy” as the Virginia Republican Party.

This is because Virginia Republicans have made a name for themselves as leaders in opposing President Trump. It began during the Republican National Convention last summer when Virginia Republicans were center stage trying to get delegates who had committed to Donald Trump “freed” to vote for other candidates. Since then, Virginians have apparently cemented that impression. I don’t know exactly how, but I would guess that Congresswoman Barbara Comstock has had something to do with it. Comstock rarely makes news for doing anything, but has managed to make quite a bit of news criticizing the current president — and doing so about 20 times more frequently than she criticized the last one.

Also, perhaps, politicos around the nation follow what their peers in Virginia are saying and writing. I’d estimate that 90 percent of Virginia GOP elected officials and party leadership are anti-Trump, shown both through explicit condemnation and also in more subtle ways, using their leadership position to paint the picture for lesser Republicans that “top people hate Trump.” I read a bit of news and follow some of the people on social media, and that is my impression at least.

Of course, what that says to Virginians who support President Trump is: “We consider you to be an idiot.”

It is not too much of a stretch to think that many erstwhile Republican voters would have gotten that message and had their voting ardor tamped down.

Not all of Virginia’s GOP candidates are as notoriously anti-Trump as Barbara Comstock, of course. But one odd thing you could definitely see during the past campaign period is that practically no Republican candidate even mentioned President Trump, at all. That seemed strange, especially considering that Republican also control both houses of Congress. There might be some relevance, one might presume, between the local and the national under such conditions.

But following the election, a dominant theme I saw among Republican experts was that the candidates did not sufficiently distance themselves from Donald Trump. In other words, with regard to step #2 above, future Republican candidates need to be more forceful in driving away those Trump supporters.

My personal opinion is that this might not be such a great idea, but I will reserve judgment until I see what the 2018 candidates propose for step #3.

Actually, if I had to guess, I’d say the Virginia Republicans plan to buff up some talking points from an address to Parliament circa 1903, emphasizing duty, love of country, and wool, prefaced with a quote from Ronald Reagan, and concluding by damning Donald Trump to Hell. If you think I’m joking, you don’t know Virginia’s self-styled Republican leadership.

But let’s not dwell on an imploding political party. To the point made at the top about Virginia GOP devastation not being the most important issue in America today, it is interesting to look back on how previous “big stories” can so thoroughly be eclipsed by bigger events. Back in 2001, I recall the biggest controversies in the news in this area were the disappearance of Chandra Levy and the Chinese military pilots who were flying too close to American military jets. There was also some matter with a U.S. jet that ended up landing in China and the Chinese would not let the American crew leave and also (I think) held onto the plane. These stories were a pretty big deal.

Then, September 11, 2001 happened, and all of those stories fell out of the news, and the national consciousness, for years. I bet almost nobody in the country has the slightest idea what happened with that American jet, and it’s likely that nobody outside of DC knows what the upshot of the Chandra Levy case was when it finally got reported on again 8 or 10 years later.

Here in November 2017, there seems to be a lot of world-changing activity on the horizon. Some of it, I think, might not only dominate the national news, but might even transform how we perceive the political stage right down to the local level here in Virginia. And maybe by next year the Virginia Republicans will have learned a way out of their rather hopeless-looking electoral equation.

Virginia Republicans Chart New Course

There was an election this week and GOP candidates throughout the commonwealth of Virginia got clobbered.

It’s not really too interesting because Virginia was easily won by Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, Virginia has had solely Democrat senators for many years, and every statewide office was held by a Democrat already. Republicans losing elections is what you would bet on, if you were a betting person.

What is interesting are two things: First, Democrats won a bunch of seats in the House of Delegates that they were not considered likely to win. So, bully for the Democrats. Who knows what all these Republican candidates did or didn’t do, but unless they wanted to lose, they sure did the wrong things.

Second, having driven over a cliff, Virginia Republican “thought leaders” woke up the next morning, shook themselves off, and then gamely began shouting about their road maps to the next cliff, at which the party’s next group of candidates can be expected to arrive roughly one year from now.

It’s funny because they’re proud.

I put leaders in quotes because in Virginia, the people on the Republican side who talk the most about politics, being genetically incapable of shutting up no matter how wrong they are proven to be, need to be insulated from normal people.

The quotation marks are for your protection, not theirs.

FirewallNOVA is a state of mind

Someone once said to me: “You know, back in my day we didn’t have PHP, and we didn’t need databases behind the scenes. All we needed was a hammer, some flint, and a text editor.”

I said: “Tell me more, Grandpa.”

But those were the last words he ever spoke to me.

But I think if my old grandfather had ever deigned to speak to me again, he probably would have told me about long nights hunched over a keyboard, copying and pasting text and code, and spinning fresh ideas onto that spartan framework. Uploading each new page via FTP. Having to quickly revise and re-upload if he forgot to change a date from one copy-and-paste job to the next. And occasionally having to edit manually dozens or even hundreds of pages every time a new element needed to be propagated across the entire site.

Isn’t it sad, here in 2017, how we’ve lost that hands-on craftsmanship, that personal approach to the Web?

Well here at FirewallNOVA, we say “Enough.” Enough with the impersonal, automated publishing. Enough with the page design. Enough with all the “software.”

The Web is a place for writing. Why do we need software to publish? When a man goes fishing in his rowboat in the canal, does he need to bring the Army Corp of Engineers along for the ride? Hell, no.

So in that spirit, and with the added factor that we don’t see an immediate way forward for our erstwhile mission of covering certain segments of politics and culture yet are not quite ready to delete the entire WordPress thingmajig, we are going to quietly transition to a different format and a different mission.

It will be simpler, yes. It will be plainer. It may remind you of days spent sitting around the dinner table with no television or any other noise in the house at all.

And it will probably – nay, very likely – load FAST, even on your phone or your seven-year-old’s seven-year-old tablet.

I bet the page will load so fast you get whiplash just by visiting. Whoa.

In concluding this first new portal to the new-old FirewallNOVA, let us say as an old man of old-time radio used to say:

“Good day.”

Frank Zappa City Of Tiny Lights – Live

If you’ve paid much attention to web video over the years, you may notice its inventory is growing massively, and not only from people posting new videos of themselves. An immense amount of archival cultural video is being unearthed and uploaded, so what’s old truly does become new again.

Actually, often it really is new because back when the video/film was recorded, distribution options were primordial. For instance, a lot of great footage from the history of rock music was taken in Europe, either by filmmmakers or, primarily, on European television broadcasts. In the 1970s, you could not watch European television in the American suburbs.

To me it is fascinating that we have access to such a growing body of footage …. of the past. Probably like the state of archaeology 120 years ago.

One caveat is that what we are getting is by no means a uniform picture. It is very eclectic. Frank Zappa and Ry Cooder, for example, left a pretty decent trove of video from that era, while Happy the Man left almost nothing.

Here is Frank with Adrian Belew on vocals and a very young Terry Bozzio on drums.

Firesign Theatre, Don’t Crush That Dwarf …

Porgie Tirebiter, he’s a spy and a girl delighter
Porgie, firefighter, he’s a student like you.

If you grew up in the U.S. in the 1930s or 1940s, you probably got to experience radio theatre as a mind-expanding and, when done well, mind-infesting form of entertainment that tapped into the imagination in a way that television usually lacks. It has something to do with allowing our brains to do the extra work of creating the visual world – which is closer to dreams, in composition, than to the concrete reality depicted in TV shows and movies.

If like me you are too young to have experienced the age of radio, the very next best thing, which was as good and probably superior, was the Firesign Theatre of the 1960s and 1970s. The selection included here was my first introduction and I can remember it like it was yesterday.

The year was 1973 and Weasel was still on the midnight shift at WHFS FM (102.3 in Bethesda, MD). If you were in junior high school and prone to lying in bed awake way too late, Weasel was one of your best friends.

Anyway, one night Weasel played the entire first side of Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers. As usual, the selection came on without any introduction (he’d detail each playlist after the half hour or so). I’d never heard of Firesign Theatre and could not tell what I was listening to, whether it was a show or separate things or bunch of commercials or what – but because of the format, and the late hour, I was drawn in. My first introduction to “theater of the mind.”

The Hour of the Wolf News came on, with the talking head noting “Adam, one threes and sebien negritude will come as a pleasant surprise to his honorary aquarium parents Ralph Bunch and Ida Lipino,” then the food was coming through the television, then Porgie and Mudhead, and though a voice in my head was saying “What the hell IS this?” they had me mesmerized.

The jokes were good enough, but it was the parallel reality that made the program so enrapturing. You often can’t tell what the joke is until your mind figures out the context …. and then you realize the context itself is part of the joke – riffing on tropes and expectations that leave you skimming along the edge between the separate reality and this one. I had never experience anything like it.

Unfortunately, I did not get to hear Weasel’s recap of what the hell that was, which meant although I tried to explain it to my friends, I couldn’t. If you were growing up in the American suburbs in 1973 reality had a fluid aspect to it anyway, so for many months afterwards all I was left with was the vague memory of another world.

Another DC station at the time used to play The National Lampoon Radio Hour every Sunday night before The King Biscuit Flower Hour. That very short-lived National Lampoon program was amazing – a couple years later sending several alumni to start Saturday Night Live – but even though I listened and listened I never heard anything like a reprise of that very weird late night episode.

Then, one night in 1974, again on WHFS, they played a selection from “I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus” and I managed to hear the recap. And within a couple years I probably had bought every album the Firesign Theatre produced. I can still say, even after this many years, there has never been anything like them.

When you get a chance, and have 20 minutes or so of uninterrupted time, put on the headphones, close your eyes, and check out Don’t Crush That Dwarf. If you are in Colorado, you can probably even get the full 1973 experience.

Basketball Jones

“That basketball, was like a basketball to me.”

At the time it was just plain funny, and edgy in a Mad Magazine sort of way. It was the coming out moment for those early 1970s heroes of so many adolescents and teenagers: Cheech & Chong, previously relegated to clandestine record albums our parents really had no idea about. We’d crack up in our bedrooms after school and repeat the jokes ad nauseam during the various self-directed, youth-oriented activities that filled our days.

The song sung by “Tyrone Shoelaces” appeared on a 1973 LP and featured members of George Harrison’s cadre of musician friends at the time (including Billy Preston and Jim Keltner) and the Mamas and the Papas on backing vocals. This animated short film was made the same year but most widely seen as the featurette preceding the great, and now pretty much unavailable, 1976 comedy “Tunnelvision.”

I am pretty sure I saw it on television sometime in the 70s but am a bit hazy on the specifics.

What is remarkable about Basketball Jones, the film, is the extreme, err, political incorrectness that leaps off the screen today. In 1976, not so much. In fact, I thought of Basketball Jones as a tame, mainstream sort of introduction to Cheech and Chong since it wasn’t focused on the certain illicit substances that comprised the central concern of their oeuvre up to that point.

To get a sense of how our mores and rules have changed over the past 40 years, Basketball Jones is a good measuring stick: Tame at the time; outrageous today.

While some people still hold to the ridiculous idea that modern American, left-wing-driven culture is becoming more free, the reality is just the opposite. What we are becoming is more sensitive and restrictive. It’s possible the freest we have ever been was in the 1970s when our president was Richard Nixon and you could buy record albums with giant rolling papers included.

I Named My Lottery Ticket “Hillary Clinton” Because I’m Hooked On Watching Her Lose

Hi, my name is Joe, and I’m addicted to watching Hillary Clinton lose.

I have to think I’m not the only one.

It all began during the 2016 presidential campaign. Who among us could fail to be moved by her cackling dismissal of questions into the instances of alleged corruption, incompetence, and ethical lapses. Her blithe brush offs of people who said they can no longer afford to go to the doctor. The shouted remonstrances of Americans who dared not pledge wholehearted fealty to her election.

Hillary Clinton rigged

Then, after losing the presidential election on November 8, as her supporters rioted in city streets, and bogus “recounts” were forced in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and Democrats began harassing the voters of the Electoral College, and suddenly Russia was touted as an all-purpose boogeyman for problems in the lives of certain members of the political class, the Clinton campaign seemed to go from silent to sanguine to outright supportive of these corrosive developments in American civic life.
Hillary Clinton lose
And then how the losses piled up.

Throughout all that, an idea that probably popped up in most peoples’ minds was:

Now there’s a woman who could use some good old-fashioned losing.

The moment of realization for me came last week when we learned Trump gained 130 votes from the Wisconsin recount. That was some pretty funny irony right there, when you consider that a whole bunch of people were hornswoggled into dumping cash onto the Green Party for it.

What I realized was: The Universe is rewarding us. The woman who needed a loss is running an endless gauntlet. It’s raining schadenfreude.

This never happens! The rude bureaucrat is NEVER forced to apologize. The jerk who cuts you off on the highway is NEVER pulled over by the cops. But this entitled, obnoxious, hectoring political candidate is getting spanked over and over. And each of these spankings, my friends, is a victory for the forces of Good.

It’s metaphysically intoxicating.

I love it so much I am loading up a stash so I never have to do without watching Hillary Clinton lose for the rest of my life.

I rarely play the lottery, but when I do, I lose, so I’m naming my lottery tickets “Hillary Clinton” from now on. Every unsuccessful scratch off is another victory for the World of Light.
I name my lottery tickets Hillary Clinton

My regular cartoon will be the Roadrunner and Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton and the Roadrunner

As a football guy, I will enjoy the weekly hijinks of the Cleveland Hillary Clintons.
Cleveland Hillary Clintons Football

And of course, their quarterback: Robert Griffin, the Hillary Clinton.
Robert Griffin the Hillary Clinton

We’ll watch the extreme dieting show, “World’s Biggest Hillary Clinton.” I want to change the vernacular so we teach our kids not to date a Hillary Clinton. When there’s a startling event we’ll break down the Winners and Hillary Clintons. Wherever there’s a trial, challenge, fight, or comparison where one party can end up with the short end of the stick, that will be the “Hillary Clinton” in that contest.

Then maybe someday, after the humility has set in, years from now we’ll see an interview with an elderly woman in a pantsuit, reflecting and explaining: “I used to be a Hillary Clinton, but life taught me some hard lessons, and now I just try to be a regular human being who treats others decently.”

Virginia’s FOI Act Pretty Much Worthless

FOIA window
FOIA request study shows government agencies in VA often less than transparent.

A recent test by 13 Virginia newspapers showed that Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are easily ignored by government officials. Newspaper representatives and the American Civil Liberties Union have found government agencies unwilling to respond to many FOIA requests.

Read the whole story at the Times-Dispatch.

An Interruption Of Your Irregularly Scheduled Programming

Now that the principal Firewall NOVA founder has taken leave of the site (which I will continue to think of, hopefully, as “leave of absence”), I will post this brief two-point update:

1) Firewall NOVA Right will possibly continue contributing, though he will need to clarify that matter. I have it on good authority that he is extremely grateful for the leadership provided by FW Left, and also for Left’s much more consistent work here.

2) We are going to conduct a housekeeping task which may cause some strangeness for a spell.

This has been a good experience for all involved. Perhaps we will be able to resuscitate or revive the project, on the off chance our world continues to be beset by controversy and trouble.

Peace, Out from the Left

This blog has been a fun effort for me and I think we’ve proven our point that the left and the right can work together. Our readership has never grown to what we would have liked, but, really, that’s not exactly a surprise.

With the 2015 elections over, this is a good time to say good-bye. FirewallNoVa Right now has complete control of your television set (or, at least, that part of your screen you devote to this site).

Life is too short for most things, but too long to say “never.” I might be back, someday. As always: watch the skies.

 

JPS

Democrats Sweep Sterling

Here is an interesting line from departing Sterling Supervisor, Eugene Delgaudio’s, Web site:

Kathleen Murphy, Jennefer (sic) Boysko, John Bell, took all 3 of Sterling’s House of Delegate seats.

That’s a remarkable observation, partly because Boysko and Bell were two of the only three seats to change parties. Looking down the list, it now seems that absolutely all of the Sterling district’s elected representatives who ran as party nominees are Democrats, except one:

  • Supervisor-elect Koran Saines
  • Chairman-elect Phyllis Randall
  • Delegate-elect John Bell
  • Delegate-elect Jennifer Boysko
  • Delegate Kathleen Murphy
  • State senator Jennifer Wexton
  • State senator Barbara Favola
  • Attorney General Mark Herring
  • Lt. Governor Ralph Northam
  • Governor Terry McAuliffe
  • Senator Tim Kaine
  • Senator Mark Warner
  • Vice-president Joe Biden
  • President Barack Obama

The only Republican still representing Sterling is freshman member of Congress, Barbara Comstock, and she did not win a single precinct in the Sterling district[*]. (A quick, but not necessarily definitive, scan of results of the above races suggests that all of the people above won the Sterling district.)

This is finally it: Sterling is a thoroughly Democratic stronghold, with the leadership at the local level that it deserves.

Sup. Delgaudio thanks the voters. We feel the same way.

[*] The astute politico will note that, actually, there are still several other Republicans who represent Sterling: the county’s constitutional officers. I’m giving myself the slack necessary to limit this post’s observations to people in law-making capacities (and Joe Biden).