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.

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.

Yes, It’s Us

FirewallNOVA Left and FirewallNOVA Right are Joe Budzinski and Stevens Miller, though probably not respectively. Kudos to those who have already guessed, though it’s not like we were really keeping it a big secret.

Why have yet another political blog, particularly one with no clear political slant? It’s tempting to say that, if political slants are worth having, that makes this place twice the fun of other blogs, since we’ve got (at least) two of those here. However, that’s not the point of this project. Your proprietors are, in fact, as different in their political inclinations as you think we are. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we agree on.

Politically, we’re in mutual opposition, and that’s not likely to change. Philosophically, however, we are both way past the point of being fed up with bullshit. Theoretically, if one of our sides is correct, then straight facts and plain talk will make that clear to everyone. But, regardless of what might be promised elsewhere, it’s asking a reader to believe quite a bit when a forum is run by, for, or in the name of one side and not the other, while its hosts proclaim their God-like powers of fairness and objectivity.

We don’t claim, nor do we offer, neutrality (and we don’t suggest you put a lot of faith in anyone who offers that, either). We do claim and we will offer two things: first, we offer a place where, if you have a case to make, you can make it, provided you don’t waste anyone’s time with jive, bull, hearsay, or insults. We’re largely going to enforce that by relying on the honor system. If you’re clever enough for jive, you’re smart enough to know it. Police yourself, so we won’t have to. Second, we claim to be an example of political opponents actually cooperating with each other and making something work. Everyone says that’s what they want, but no one seems to think it’s possible. Well, this little project isn’t going to change the world, but we like to think it proves a point worth proving.

By the way, we don’t edit each other’s stuff. If you see a post or comment by FirewallNOVA Left, blame (or praise) Left, as Right had nothing to do with it. Likewise, if you see a post or comment by FirewallNOVA Right, blame (or praise) Right, as Left had nothing to do with it. When we’re on the same page, we’re just “FirewallNOVA.” (Posts from someone trading as “FirewallNOVA Guy” appear from time to time, but we’re not really sure if he’s real, a figment of our imaginations, or a hacker. Stay tuned.)

The 2015 cycle will soon be (or already is) under way. We thought this was the right moment, between elections, to go public.

Now on with the show.

Postmodern Jukebox At The Birchmere, January 19

STOP THE PRESSES: For those who who were dawdling around with politics and missed the big news for Washington DC on November 4: Scott Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox announced they are returning to the East Coast on January 19 for a single show at The Birchmere in Alexandria. (They missed the DC area on their recent tour).

You might, perhaps, notice who is running the United States Senate in January. But you will definitely rue your fate for the remainder of your days if you miss the chance to see PMJ while they are in town.

Tickets go on sale, formally, tomorrow at noon at Ticketmaster; HOWEVER, you can buy tickets right now, “pre-sale,” through the PMJ Web site.

If you want to see Postmodern Jukebox, you should get the tickets now, because last time they played in our area they sold out two consecutive shows at The Hamilton in DC. They have a serious fan base here.

Also, tomorrow at 2:00 pm, you can get tickets for the pre-show “mingle” with PMJ which is fun, inexpensive and, well, just silly to miss.

It’s one of the best shows you will ever see in your life, and it’s in Alexandria for goodness sakes, so make a list of all the people you really like and go buy tickets for the January 19 show while you can.

PMJ For A Cold Night – Von Smith “Shake It Off”

Coldest night since last winter!

So, here is something to warm up with: the Postmodern Jukebox version of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

(If video above does not play click here for YouTube.)

On lead vocals for PMJ: Von Smith, ladies and gentlemen. He’s come a long way from the top 17 on American Idol, has he not?