Republicans Opposing Trump are a Bit of a Mystery

Why have some Republicans fought so much harder against the Trump presidency and Trump legislative agenda than they ever did against Obama? It’s especially the case among Republicans in Congress, and as noted on this blog before, I think it’s also the case among certain GOP factions here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Normally, when your candidate loses a primary, you hate the victor and his supporters for a modest period of time but then everyone makes up and moves on to the general election. I’m not a Democrat, but I get the impression that’s what the Democrats usually do. It’s an intelligent approach, obviously, in fulfilling the mission of the party, which is to get its candidates into public office.

Some Republicans REALLY did not pull together after Donald Trump won over Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and the others, which is weird, because Republican office holders have often been terrible and every Republican knows it. Those who suggested Trump was likely to be not “conservative” enough were either ignorant or liars, because the party had not had such a person in the White House or as the nominee for a very long time.

The last couple Republican presidents left legacies that departed substantially from whatever “conservative” platform the Republican Party and the presidential campaign foisted on unwary voters to get the putzes elected.

Actually, the last couple Republican presidents’ legacies are worse than unkept promises because all that stuff that “conservative” think tanks and thousands of Republican political campaigns have been saying are so critically important, as reasons to vote for the Republican du jour, all the terrible changes to American society and government that this or that Republican was going to prevent, got worse under the Republican presidents named Bush.

Were the Bushes better than Clinton or Obama? Probably, but not by a lot. Here’s how you can tell that: you don’t see many people writing stories contrasting the Bush presidencies with the Obama or Clinton presidencies.

You don’t see a lot of infographics or memes put out by “conservatives” recalling the glorious eras of the Bushes. That’s because there is very little to feel proud about from those periods, I believe.

Thus we have to wonder, for any Republican with any knowledge of history, what is the problem with Trump? After his first year in office, we now know, he’s come a lot closer to accomplishing what the “conservatives” have been promising than any other recent president. If not for opposition by Republicans in Congress, Trump would have accomplished much more of what Republicans promise every time an election comes around.

It’s not my purpose to get into a detailed public policy discussion at this time, but any Republican with a knowledge of history knows exactly what I am referring to. The short answer is that when it comes to the “conservative” principles that candidates and consultants have been bloviating about for the past 25 years, President Trump doesn’t look too bad compared to nearly all other Republican office holders.

Unless the logic is that the past two Republican presidents get a pass for almost total failure, but Donald Trump will suddenly be held to the very highest standard of “conservative” wish lists or be deemed an enemy of the people, there seems to be some disconnect. There seems to be some major inconsistency from the “conservative” elites, almost to the point that one wonders if they are worth listening to, on any subject, ever again.

The thought that “conservative” leaders could be anything less than exemplars of integrity is inconceivable to me, so I will leave that dilemma for now and go back to the original question of: Why the Trump hate?

One of many bizarre examples will suffice. Speaking of Republican presidents: George W. Bush did not make a single public comment about anything that Barack Obama did during the latter’s presidency. Maybe I missed a statement or two, but I think I’m right in saying that Bush never said a word as Obama spent years verbally trashing the Bush presidency and, policy-wise, being rather non-conservative, adding over $9 trillion to our debt, and even using the federal machinery in ways that some consider unethical. Does George W. Bush not care about our grandchildren? But Bush never found much to criticize in Obama — or Bill Clinton, in fact.

How is it, then, that Bush finds the motivation to come out of his respectful shell and criticize Donald Trump so relatively mercilessly? There’s a topic that, seriously, someone could write a book about, knowing what we know now.

We know that Trump is divisive. He is more divisive for American political and media experts than Godzilla was for urban neighborhoods in Japan. In the end the Japanese loved Godzilla, as I think in one of the later films it was revealed he was fed GMO fish as a child and once he transitioned to soy-based foods he mellowed considerably. But there will be no soy for Donald Trump. And the rationale for political opposition seems to transcend all the normal triggers, such as public policy.

Republicans seem to have finally gotten a president who is willing to sign into law all the “conservative” agenda items that “conservative” Republicans have been shilling with for two or three decades, and it’s almost like these Republican elites are petrified that they could be allowed to deliver on marketing messages. Why, it’s almost as though all those campaign messages and fundraising letters were untrue, and actually depended on the promises not being fulfilled in order to continue to scare ignorant voters and donors in the future.

But now comes Trump, looming over the skyline, threatening to trample and destroy the City of Promises by delivering on Republican promises. He’s a monster.

That’s one reason, then, for the Trump hate.

Another reason, which is purely speculative on my part, but I am grasping for straws here, is that maybe there have been activities that people in Washington D.C. are not proud of, and that Trump threatens to expose. Maybe some people knew even before Trump was elected that he would not “play ball” and that’s why they went on the warpath against him, and now that he is in office, are worried about what he might do.

Who knows. But one thing I do know is that if Republicans had the political intelligence of their Democratic Party counterparts, the GOP might accomplish all the things it has promised for so long. That thought must keep some of them awake at night.

Jimmy Carter and the Inspector General Act of 1978

When did we get the U.S. inspector general offices as watchdogs within our federal agencies, and what is the purpose?


President Jimmy Carter signed the Inspector General Act into law on October 12, 1978, to address “fraud and mismanagement and embarrassment to the Government” at a time when we had advisory commissions and offices for public integrity within various departments, but over time a bipartisan consensus was reached that we needed a more formal approach to problems of incompetence, waste, corruption, and other illegal activity.

At the bill signing ceremony, President Carter explained:

It establishes 12 Inspectors General who will be within the agencies involved, the 12 major agencies. They will be appointed by me. They will be confirmed by the Senate. They will come under the Hatch Act to prevent any politicization of the functions. They will make their reports to the Attorney General if law violations are involved. They’ll make frequent, periodic reports to the head of the agency. They’ll make reports to the Congress. When they make a report directly to the Congress, the head of the agency cannot modify that report in any way. The head of the agency can append comments. These Inspectors General will be responsible for auditing, and they will be responsible for investigating any allegations of fraud or mismanagement.

In addition, there is a provision in the bill that protects whistleblowers. If someone comes from within the agency, meets with the Inspector General, reports something that’s a violation of the law or an example of gross mismanagement or waste, the Inspector General has the authority to protect the identity of that person, if that person so requests, to make sure that there is no punishment inflicted on that person who brings attention to the public of mismanagement or fraud…..

You can read the full text of the original legislation here, and following is the purpose statement:

Purpose and establishment of Offices of Inspector General; departments and agencies involved
In order to create independent and objective units—
(1) to conduct and supervise audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations of the establishments listed in section 12(2);
(2) to provide leadership and coordination and recommend policies for activities designed (A) to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of, and (B) to prevent and detect fraud and abuse in, such programs and operations; and
(3) to provide a means for keeping the head of the establishment and the Congress fully and currently informed about problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of such programs and operations and the necessity for and progress of corrective action;

Congressional Investigations: Not What They Used To Be

The U.S. Congress has done a fair amount of “investigating” in recent years and very little has come of the investigations. Some people wonder why, during Republican control of one or both houses of Congress, this “check” on the other branches of government has done so little to uncover instances of illegal or unethical behavior and punish or refer such behavior for prosecution.

In fictional works, or in true stories of olden times, Congress conducts meaningful investigations, and that’s where a Jack Bauer or Jack Ryan go to spill the beans.

3 branches of government
But today, the role of Congress has evolved, as shown in the above infographic.

I’ve heard rumors that House and Senate “hearings” are public displays that Congress has no intention of allowing to proceed to any form of punishment, but are held merely to satisfy quaint notions of rule of law until the next season of The Bachelor begins — but such cynical ideas are impossible to accept.

What I do know is that people often have the wrong impression of the modern role of Congress, and therefore have unrealistic expectations when there are cases of apparent malfeasance by members of Congress, or within some federal agency or the White House itself. People may have seen too many movies, where the congressional hearing is the grand inquisitor; where the whistleblower or rogue spy in days of yore could start the wheels of American justice turning.

This is why hearings in the House or Senate are less like a courtroom and more like a weak homeowners’ association design review board. If someone gets called to a hearing, they can refuse to talk or just laugh at the panel — “I’m keeping my green garage door” or “so what if I broke a few laws” — and then it’s over and presumably they all go out for drinks.

The checks and balances role once filled by Congress is now conducted by Tom Fitton and Judicial Watch, but you probably already knew that.

What’s Happening in Washington Today?

Last night, one of the best news bloggers, Sundance from Last Refuge, had this odd, cryptic post on twitter:
Last Refuge twitter
There’s been an ongoing rumbling beneath the surface of the commercial news as well as independent news outlets that affairs in the nation’s capital are more confusing than usual, like a storm is about to break but the weather radar is broken.

My take has been that the Trump Administration has lost faith in the media and therefore is careful what is revealed and when. It leaves the public with unanswered questions, but if the news media are unreliable, then unanswered questions are what you will have.

But Sundance is among a tiny number of reliable commentators at any level, which makes this post stand out to me.

So: Something’s coming?

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.

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.”

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.