BY JOHN SHAFFER
There is a tug-of-war going on over the Chairmanship of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. The director, Richard Corday, resigned and passed the agency onto his assistant, Leandra English. The law that created the CFPB allows that sort of thing, but it has never been tested in the courts; and it is very likely that the Constitution does not allow a federal agency to establish an inherited leadership (similar to say, North Korea). President Trump appointed an Acting Director shortly after Mr. Corday appointed Ms. English as Acting Director, and therein lies the tug-of-war: two directors aiming to grasp the same reins. So far, the courts have decided in the President’s favor, as has the General Counsel for the agency itself. It may be noteworthy to point out that Mr. Corday had never been confirmed by the Senate as Director; he was a recess appointment by President Obama. The idea of an unconfirmed director passing the agency over to the control of someone of his choosing sure sounds unconstitutional to us; we wonder how many times a transfer like that could take place – merely passing it on without Presidential appointment nor Senate confirmation. Of course, we know why Ms. English wants the job so badly, the agency has massive power to dragoon settlements out of financial institutions and compel them to pay the fines to various progressive groups.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
The list of prominent men accused of some type of sexual harassment lengthens daily, and involves politicians of both parties, celebrities in the movie and music business, TV journalists, at least two former Presidents, and who knows who will be next. The charges range from unwanted attention to aggressive behavior to assault.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the current spate of accusations is the treatment of former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Clinton has been stoutly defended by almost every member of the mainstream media against all the charges for over twenty years – but the shock of the Harvey Weinstein case and the accusations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore have made it extremely tricky for Mr. Clinton’s defenders to keep defending him, lest they sound too selective and hypocritical. After all, when the man you have championed has done worse things and more of them over a longer period of time than the person you want to attack, something has to give. Even Hillary Clinton has acknowledged (perhaps unwittingly) that had Fox News been around when his scandals broke, her husband probably would not have been elected.
As to Roy Moore – it certainly appears that he dated, or tried to date, girls 18 years of age or less when he was past 30 – not in and of itself illegal, but creepy nonetheless. Of course, such instances took place 40 years ago, and we are free to speculate that his accusers must have known that he held the position of state judge in Alabama as well as other lesser offices, and yet never brought such charges to light. Again, we easily can question the truth of a charge so old; that does not mean it is untrue, but it is curious why it would never be brought forth during the first 40 years of a man’s public career, and Mr. Moore’s candidacy in a US Senate race makes the scandal not only more juicy, but also raises the stakes for both Mr. Moore and his accusers.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Off-year elections have generally been unfavorable to the party holding the White House, and this year underlined that point in blue ink – as in blue for the Democrat “blue states.” Republicans lost the governorship of New Jersey and failed to win that of Virginia, and took a thumping in the Virginia state house elections, losing at least 15 seats and putting control of the state house of Delegates in jeopardy. Republicans also lost seats in the Georgia legislature and lost a seat in Washington, flipping control of that body to the Democrats. The one bright spot was a victory in a special election for a US House seat in Utah that had been held by Republican Jason Chaffetz, who resigned earlier this year. As one might suspect, if the best thing one can say about his party’s performance is that it managed to hold one safe seat, it wasn’t a very good night for your party.
On the other hand, the Democrats had a great night, and hope to build on that momentum in next year’s Congressional elections.
As noted, the party holding the White House has not fared well in recent mid-term elections, and typically loses Congressional and Senate seats, some times in substantial numbers. The Republicans got wiped out in the Senate races in 1958, which set the stage for a long period of Democratic control; and we all know about how bad the “Watergate” election of 1974 was for the Republicans. The Democrats lost control of the US House in the 1994 elections for the first time since Eisenhower was elected in 1952. (The Republicans lost control of the house in Ike’s first mid-term election and didn’t regain it until Bill Clinton’s first midterm in 1994. The Republicans lost that majority in George W. Bush’s second midterm in 2006; President Obama had a majority until he lost it in the midterm election of 2010, and the Democrats are hoping to continue that pattern by retaking the House in the 2018 midterm. The Republicans didn’t win control of the House in the 1966 midterm when Lyndon Johnson was President, but they did gain 47 seats. So history is not on the side of the Republicans in 2018, and there are many reasons beyond the typical “election cycle” stories.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
A few weeks ago Bowe Bergdahl entered a guilty plea to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. You remember Bergdahl – the US soldier who sent his valuables away and took an unauthorized walk away from his base in Afghanistan back in June 2009, and within a few hours was captured by the Taliban. Over the next few months, at least five videos of Bergdahl were released by the Taliban, and the Obama administration began negotiations to secure his release. By May of 2014, the Administration was successful – it pried Bergdahl out of the clutches of the Taliban, and all it cost was the release of five Taliban “generals” who had been in US custody at Guantanamo Bay. Oh – we forgot to mention that within hours of Bergdahl’s initial disappearance, perceptive critics smelled a rat, and, what do you know, those suspicions were well-founded. A lot of evidence points to the likelihood that Bergdahl attempted to defect to the enemy, and that he may even have provided them information that placed other US soldiers at risk. At the very least, some were placed at risk searching for him or trying to rescue him, and the other soldiers in his unit universally thought that he was a defector. President Obama, in a Rose Garden ceremony, didn’t bring any of those unpleasant facts to light, and apparently thought that he would be lionized for repatriating Bergdahl. Actually, public opinion, though initially sympathetic to Bergdahl, soon came to pretty negative toward him, believing he was, at least originally, attempting to aid the enemy in some fashion.