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).

The Pictures Tell The Story

Saw these two signs, promoting some prominent Republican candidates, at the new Ashby Ponds polling place:

IMG_0808

 

Say, is that a Post-It note on the “Plowman” sign? Let’s look closer:

IMG_0809

 

Yes, it does appear to be a Post-It note. Let’s be sure we can read it:

IMG_0810

 

Ah, must have been on top of a stack, left for a volunteer. But, is there something hidden immediately behind it? Let’s see:

IMG_0812

 

My goodness, there’s another sign, covered up by this one. Whose can it be?

IMG_0813

 

Ah, Republican unity. Charming.

Tom Bellanca Endorses 2015 Candidates

tom-bellanca
Tom Bellanca, Independent candidate fpr chair of the Board of Supervisors, has announced his list of endorsed candidates.

Tom Bellanca, running as an Independent for chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, announced his endorsements for Tuesday’s election. Bellanca said:

In the past 12 months and in many cases the past 5-10 years, I’ve gotten to know many of the candidates involved in this local election personally. While there are no candidates I dislike, and most of the candidates can, I believe, do a good job, I believe it necessary to indicate which of those candidates I believe will be and act in the best interests of the residents of the county. For this reason, I am endorsing the following candidates for leadership in our county. I believe these persons to be the best options to lead our county forward in all respects and I hope you will vote for them on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

Board of Supervisors and Constitutional Officers:
Chairman At Large – Tom Bellanca (I)
Sheriff – Michael Chapman (R)
Commonwealth’s Attorney – Jim Plowman (R)
Clerk of the Court – Gary Clemons (R)
Treasurer – Roger Zurn (R)
Commissioner of the Revenue – Bob Wertz (R)
Ashburn District – Ralph Buona (R)
Sterling District – Koran Saines (D)
Blue Ridge District – Richard Jimmerson (I)
Catoctin District – Craig Green (D)
Dulles District – Matthew F. Letourneau (R)
Algonkian District – Andrew Resnick (D)
Broad Run District – Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R)
Leesburg – Kristen Umstattd (D)

School Board:
At Large – Stephen Knoblock
Algonkian – Ryan Myers
Blue Ridge District – Jill Turgeon
Catoctin District – Dusty Sparrow Reed
Leesburg District – Tom Marshall
Sterling District – Brenda Sheridan
Dulles District – Jeff Morse
Broad Run – Joy Maloney
Ashburn – Eric Hornberger

Kuesters, Maloney, and FDK

If you’re wondering what “FDK” is, read something else. If not, then you know that bringing full-day kindergarten to Loudoun county would cut the list of Virginia jurisdictions that don’t already have it from four down to three, and that doing so has become one of the short list of critical issues in this campaign cycle. Of course, it matters most in the race for school board, where the choice in Broad Run is between the incumbent, Republican-endorsed Kevin Kuesters, and his returning challenger, Democratic-endorsed Joy Maloney.

Here’s the short version: Maloney is solidly in support of FDK, Kuesters thinks it isn’t worth the money.

The longer version is where policy gives way to politics, as both of them know how popular the idea of FDK is in Loudoun county. Thus, for Joy Maloney, the fact that she is with the majority on this issue is something she wants known as widely as it can be. For Kevin Kuesters, the fact that he’s, at the best, on the fence about it, just isn’t going to win him many votes. So, Joy has the relatively easy task of telling voters she will try to get them what they want, while Kevin is stuck trying to look like he’s in favor of something that he actually doesn’t support. And that’s where you find out if a politician will talk straight or not. Alas, Kevin’s not.

Now, for what it’s worth, I get along with Kevin pretty well on a personal basis. He’s a pleasant guy who, with me, proves that two people with opposing political views can be mutually cordial. However, we’ve never run against each other in an election. Joy (who is also a very nice person) has fairly put it out there, in her campaign materials, that Kevin isn’t backing FDK. Here’s one of her flyers:

Comparative Mailer1

 

And, albeit a bit hard to read (for the lack of a lot of pixels), here’s Kevin’s online denial (from a Facebook ad):

kevinad

Let’s blow that up a bit:

kevinadx

It says, “Joy Maloney’s mailer is dishonest.”

Is it? She does cite a reference. Let’s look at Kevin’s full statement from Ashburn Rising:

I will not support expanding full-day kindergarten just so the third graders reader better,” he said, also requesting more information [from school staff] about benefits in the senior year of high school.

That could be read as leaving him with an open mind, but still in need of convincing. That bit about “third graders” is an example of what we lawyers call “weasel words,” which are qualifiers that let you avoid the hard implications of whatever else it is that you’ve said. But, Kevin’s apologists might jump on the fact that Joy’s mailer kept the definite part (“I will not support expanding full-day kindergarten…”) while leaving out the weasel words. Those words, his apologists might say, make a difference.

Except they don’t and here is why: Kevin made his comment about third-graders in December of last year. In January of this year, in Leesburg Today, he said this:

There is clearly a strong belief that FDK is a valuable and desirable program offering for schools, which is a real benefit for property values. It is also true that FDK assists with childcare expenses and logistics for parents who do not have to arrange for half-day schooling and half-day childcare. On the other hand, research consistently shows that by third grade there is no statistical difference between the academic performances of students who attended FDK versus those who attended half-day kindergarten (except at-risk kids). As a school board member, I have to decide if the actual benefits (perceived value, short-term performance and childcare) outweigh the actual costs ($50 million one-time construction costs, $12 $14 million recurring annual costs).

In other words, Kevin had already made up his mind that his weasel words really didn’t matter. Moreover, he says he has to balance the needs of the students against the impact on the taxpayers. As a former member of the board of supervisors, I can say with certainty that such balancing is not the job of a member of the school board. The school board’s job is to develop a budget that will meet the needs of the students. While the Code of Virginia imposes a duty of frugality on school boards, it does not authorize school boards to knowingly exclude funding a program just to ease the burden imposed on taxpayers. (I will add that a bit of Googling will show you that research on the benefits of FDK are far from consistent in proving what Kevin asserts above: there’s a lot of evidence that FDK, if followed by appropriate first-grade and later curricula, has lasting benefits.)

Bottom line: Joy’s mailer is not dishonest. She’s holding Kevin Kuesters to his own position, which he now knows is not the one that the voters want him to take. Dirty politics is what you get when people make stuff up, lie about their opponents, or attack each other’s character. Joy’s mailer is as clean as it gets. Kevin may wish he’d said something else, but it’s the political process doing its job (and a political candidate doing hers) when all a campaign is doing is holding an elected official accountable for his public record.

Joy Maloney supports FDK. Kevin Kuesters doesn’t. That’s as clean as it gets.

 

Jebbie, We Hardly Knew Ye

Jeb Bush Boring Supporters
Jeb! (which in Spanish means “Wake Up!”) was chosen as Jeb Bush’s campaign theme because “Me!” sounded too vague and “Blah!” too edgy.

Jeb Bush is toast, the annointing is canceled, because after his disastrous debate performance the other night, all those rich people who wasted millions of dollars on his presidential campaign will decide to do something more useful with their remaining cash, like burning it in the backyard to make s’mores.

Anyone not from Florida may wonder what all the fuss is about, and most of those in Florida are probably nodding sagely and saying “Yeah, we could have told you he did not have that much going on upstairs.” The only people troubled or vexed by Bush’s humiliating implosion will be the few, the shallow, the bandwagon-jumping political establishment and consulting class folks who saw patronage and paychecks in them thar legendary hills of Tallahassee.

Politics, which can be defined as a jobs program for blabbermouths, provides speaking opportunities for people whose minds are not sharp enough to normally merit anyone paying attention to what they say.

Many of the blowhards in politics are in it for one thing and that is to draw a paycheck. Of the rest, most seek ego fulfillment, which may seem to us a thin motivation, but when a very rich person is trying to upgrade from a great yacht to a better yacht, and something gets in the way of that purchase, you’ll see how big a factor mere ego can be. Political careerists will say ANYTHING to keep hold of the power position that delivers the cash or recognition they so desperately need. A few people thereby occupy positions of policy influence for years and years, solely because they can work the system.

In addition to all the economic and social destruction delivered by our oligarchic government, they irritate us to no end. We are a nation of spectators, which probably is not so great from the standpoint of personal life value, but no one can deny we the people can set a high bar for entertainment. So when a politician is boring, it pains us. Because Person A is in politics – either as an office seeker or a political consultant or an “expert” commentator – Persons B through ZZZ are often forced to listen. This is annoying for the listeners, particularly when the yammerers are spouting formulaic nonsense, as they so often do.

But that is how Jeb Bush became a “frontrunner” in the Republican presidential primary before any polls were taken and Bush’s only recent accomplishment had been the trail of dozing millennials left behind his every public appearance.

(Full disclosure: Jeb Bush’s mother says he’s not boring.)

Thus, when an opportunity arises to shut the doofuses up, to mute the speakers, to draw the curtains, well, gosh darn it, people really love that sort of thing.

Now, we’ve seen all of the “Bush dynasty” that we will ever likely see. What the hacks have lost is America’s gain, and worth savoring, because chances to derail another ensconcing are few and far between. The ruling class generally does not tolerate opposition, and that is why every Cantor-ization is so treasured, and why a Donald Trump who thumbs his nose at both the Party and the Media Commentariat brings such joy to the commoners.

Bruce Lee once said the focus of life should not be on increasing what we can take on, but decreasing distractions – “hacking away” at non-essentials. That’s advice we should especially heed today, with so many voices coming at us from so many directions. As we close the chapter on Jeb! our lives will actually get better.

Matt Letourneau Admits He Was Fooled

Dulles district supervisor Matt Letourneau got raked over the coals in a letter to Leesburg Today, for not warning his constituents that Dominion Virginia Power planned to run power-lines directly along Route 50. Big ones, too. Like this one:

transformer3

Letourneau didn’t warn anyone because (he says) he didn’t know. His challenger, Anjan Chimaladinne, is pointing out that, after having multiple meetings with Dominion, months ahead of time, Letourneau should have known. Anjan is right, and it proves conclusively that he should be the next district supervisor.

Albeit with different boundaries, I was the previous Dulles supervisor. I regularly met with representatives of businesses and other groups that wanted to build projects in our district. As a Democrat, I knew that a lot of those projects were sponsored by entities that don’t typically support us lefties. Still, we met, and, as best I could, I made sure I was able to pass reliable, complete information to my constituents. Letourneau, as a Republican, particularly as a Republican associated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and most particularly as a Republican associated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his capacity as a public relations expert on energy, should have known what Dominion was doing.

In a stridently defensive letter of his own, Letourneau goes on at great length, recounting the extensive history of his many contacts with Dominion, including the public-input phase that he apparently wants credit for having helped orchestrate. A funny thing to brag about, however, when, in his own words, Letourneau says, “the public outreach process was for show.” After all those meetings, how could Letourneau not have known that?

…the public outreach process was for show.

In his letter, Letourneau starts out by attacking the writer of the letter complaining about his ineffectiveness, saying it was written by, “a long-time Democratic activist.” Why that’s a defense, he doesn’t say. What’s important, however, is that Letourneau, a long-time Republican activist, is supposed to be the friend of business (as all Republicans say they are). If anyone should have been able to build a relationship of trust with, and get straight information from, Dominion Virginia Power, wouldn’t a Republican say he should have been able to do it? Instead, Letourneau still wants you to vote for him, even though he didn’t know what Dominion was up to, because he got fooled, and he says we shouldn’t blame him for that.

I don’t recall anyone, ever saying my mistakes as a supervisor (yes, I made some) were excusable in those cases where somebody played me. Most certainly, I would not have suggested that being played was an excuse when the issue involved something that was a bedrock Democratic strong-point. Here, an elected Republican whose professional resumé emphasizes his fondness for the energy business community, just got played by one of the biggest energy businesses in Virginia.

If a pro-business Republican, particularly this pro-business Republican, can’t protect you from the public-relations trickery of a major Virginia business, what good is he to you?

If I still lived in the Dulles district, I would vote for change. I would vote for Anjan.

CREW Spin-off Goes After Comstock

The American Democracy Legal Fund, created about a year ago as a more overtly political spin-off of David Brock’s Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has sent a letter of complaint to Democratic Representative David Skaggs (co-chair of the Office of Congressional Ethics), alleging misconduct by Barbara Comstock. The full text of their complaint (which actually names quite a few members of Congress), essentially says she has signed a contract requiring her to tailor her legislative agenda to the tastes of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in order to get their help in her next campaign. ADLF says this is a misuse of government resources, in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 1301.

ADLF has gone after Comstock before, shortly after coming into being last year. Comstock’s office isn’t commenting, but NRCC’s spokesman says, “This ridiculous complaint is by a partisan complaint factory and completely without merit.” I’d be surprised if it goes anywhere with the current congressional majority (if there is one). But CREW has been around for over a decade, meaning that ADLF was created by experienced watchdogs. If nothing else, they may be compiling good material for future challengers.

Barbara Comstock Professional Republican
Barbara Comstock