Will Ryan’s Retirement affect Nunes’ Reelection?
Congressman Paul Ryan’s retirement as Speaker of the House could mean good news or bad news for Congressman Devin Nunes.
The bad news is Mr. Ryan’s retirement shakes the foundation of the Republican Party and puts into question President Donald Trump’s innocence.
The good news is maybe Mr. Nunes will become Speaker, that is if the Republicans can keep control of the House this November.
There are two men who outrank Mr. Nunes for Speaker, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Whip Steven Scalise.
Mr. McCarthy already had his chance to become Speaker in 2015 when former Speaker John Boehner unexpectedly retired after an emotional visit with Pope Francis.
But then Mr. McCarthy gave a couple of incomprehensible speeches, and later told the world how Republicans cleverly reopened the Benghazi hearings to score political points, versus to bring justice for those who lost their lives in the attack.
As for Mr. Scalise, he is a Tea Party darling and probably not able to bring the fractured Republican House members together for crucial votes in the way Mr. Ryan was so adept.
Mr. Nunes, a high ranking, veteran House member, can effectively communicate in front of a camera, is a prodigious fundraiser, and is not seen as an extremist.
That’s not a glowing endorsement for the job as Speaker, but Mr. Ryan–as a former Vice Presidential candidate, third in line to the presidency, and a House member who can deliver the votes–is leaving some very big shoes to fill.
Despite Mr. Ryan’s assurances, he is not leaving Congress with a team of able Republican leaders. He is leaving Congress with a dense cloud overhead that even the strongest Sirocco winds can’t dissipate.
Mr. Ryan and Mr. Nunes are not just political allies but they are friends. Both Mr. Nunes and Mr. Ryan entered Congress in their late twenties and have lead scandal-free lives, at least before Mr.Trump, marrying and raising families during their tenure.
Mr. Nunes and Mr. Ryan worked for years on the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that would have greatly benefited Valley farmers, but which Mr. Trump canceled soon after taking office.
They collaboratively started writing the recently passed tax overhaul legislation 11 years ago, though their original plan reduced the deficit and looks nothing like the mess that was rushed through the House and Senate.
They both rose up through the ranks of the party, attaining the most prestigious posts.
Mr. Nunes became one of the youngest chairs of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2011. Mr. Ryan became the youngest Speaker to take the office in 100 years.
But now Mr. Ryan, one of the most powerful people in Washington and at the peak of his career, is walking away.
How do his Republicans peers explain that?
To start, you could say that Mr. Ryan never supported Mr. Trump for president until he was forced to. The two men share no moral, ethical or religious values and Mr. Ryan must have a pretty hard time explaining Mr. Trump’s behavior when his name comes up around the family dinner table.
The unconfirmed explanation for Mr. Ryan’s departure is that he wants to leave Washington while his reputation is still intact.
He also may not have wanted to defend the massive public debt produced by his tax overhaul legislation, a debt that is predicted to balloon by one trillion dollars.
The not so benevolent explanation is that Mr. Ryan’s departure telegraphs that the Republican image of family values, balanced budgets, law and order, and free trade is just that–an image.
Mr. Ryan knows Mr. Trump is guilty of rampant sexual promiscuity, lying, and humiliating our most honorable Americans.
He also probably has confirmation that Mr. Trump is guilty of collusion, obstruction of justice, or money laundering and doesn’t want to be left holding the bag when the special council announces its findings.
That makes it particularly difficult on Mr. Nunes’ campaign, who has been one of Mr. Trump’s loyal soldiers and recently closed the House’s Intelligence Committee investigation because he found no evidence of wrongdoing in Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign for the presidency.
Mr. Nunes has strongly defended Mr. Trump, attacking the media as lying, accusing the FBI, CIA, and the Justice Department of having a Clinton bias and denouncing the Steele Dossier.
Mr. Ryan, on the other hand, who when faced with hypocrisy or political suicide, decided to leave politics entirely.
Mr. Nunes would never lose an election for his lack of loyalty, but because of Mr. Ryan’s retirement, might possibly lose because of it.
The Fourth Estate
The League of Women Voters is hosting a panel of journalists on May 15 during a luncheon at the Wyndham Hotel to discuss the role of the Fourth Estate in a Democracy.
That seems to be a concept taken for granted recently.
Baby boomers assume newspapers will always be around as they saw their parents read the morning or afternoon paper then took up the habit themselves as adults.
Readers’ favorite thing to do back then was to gripe about their local rag, and the same is as true today.
But times have changed. The wisdom behind that constant griping, or threatening to cancel your subscription because you don’t agree with the day’s cartoon, no longer seems so wise.
As the facts unfurl how extensively Russia meddled in our elections and amid President Donald Trump’s attack on the building blocks of our Democracy, one thing becomes clear; if America’s Democracy survives, it will be because of the Fourth Estate.
Hyperbole? I think not.
People need to be reminded that those countries whose presidents have attacked or suppressed the press no longer enjoy a functional democracy and the privileges that go with it.
Mr. Trump and many Republicans refer to CNN as the Clinton News Network and constantly allude to the Washington Post, New York Times and many others as reporting “fake news.”
So when an investigative reporter merely reports the truth, the news outlet is often labeled as left-wing, liberal, biased, or fake.
But reporters have no skin in the game whether one politician or another is elected.
The Valley Voice has extensively reported on Assemblyman Devon Mathis’ personal challenges and political missteps in Sacramento. But if Mr. Mathis loses he is only going to be replaced by a more conservative Republican.
The same is true for Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones, who is a Democrat. The mayor’s bullying and possible misuse of public funds, brought to light by the media, might lead to his defeat. But he also most likely will be replaced by a Republican.
So where is this left-leaning bias?
The irony in Mr. Trump’s favorite hashtag “fake news” is that it was Russian trolls spreading fake news about Hilary Clinton though Facebook that was partially responsible for his becoming president.
Mr. Trump’s razor-thin electoral victory came with 70,000 votes over three purple states in a country of 350,000,000 souls, while he lost the popular vote by over three million.
When Mr. Trump bemoaned the fact that the election was rigged, he was correct.
Mr. Trump inhabits the most powerful pulpit in the world. Though while he attacks the FBI, the National Security Agency, Justice Department and strategizes on how to fire Mr. Muller, there is one special council he will never be able to fire.
And that is the media. And the media is not going to relent until the truth is told.
One of the more surprising aspects I discovered about being a reporter is the fact that I have as many Tea Party contacts as liberal contacts.
I have find myself commiserating as much about local and national government with Central Valley Tea Party Chair Dennis Smith as I do with liberal Democrat Ruben Macareno.
Maybe that is because I live in a conservative area.
But maybe it is because something deeper runs between us humans than being conservative or liberal, and that is integrity.
So in these chaotic times where does the Fourth Estate fit into a Democracy?
Elected officials have their dais, the wealthy have their lawyers, but the people, who make up a
Democracy, have the media.
National and local news shine a bright light on those with power, and provides an accountability which almost always leads to justice–sometimes not quickly, but justice just the same. And justice is neither conservative nor liberal and reporting the truth is neither Republican nor Democrat.
Just one article can reverse the course of a huge injustice.
Take for example the abuse endured by all those women at the hands of Bill Cosby or the Healthcare Conglomerates Association mishandling the public’s money.
The media brings justice where justice has not been served.
It provides a platform for those who do not have one.
Newspapers level the playing field between the powerful and those with limited power, but who have the power to vote.
And that is where the Fourth Estate fits into Democracy.
A few Sundays ago I put aside reading my weekend edition of the New York Times and wrote a story maybe no one wanted to hear.
I reviewed my notes of emotional testimonies, and recounted the tearful phone calls, and then wrote the article Why are These Men Free, featured in this issue.
It’s a story about six victims of child sexual abuse and their abusers who have never seen the inside of a jail.
That Sunday was one of my more difficult days, and as anyone who reads my column knows, I’ve had some doozies.
But if it was difficult for me, how much more difficult was it for the victims who live with the constant memories, and now–as adults–fear for the safety of their own children?
It was fate that two of the six victims, Samantha and Frasier, came into my life.
But until I met them I had no idea that identified child molesters lived freely amongst us. They are our neighbors, standing with us in the checkout line, drinking coffee with us at Starbucks, and sitting next to us and our children on the bus.
From Samantha’s testimony it seems that the Exeter Police Department should have filed charges against these men a long time ago.
From Frasier’s testimony it seems that the Tulare County District Attorney’s office misplaced its case and it fell through the cracks.
The first known molestation incident was around 1994, and the last known incident was in 2011.
That means these men were molesting children over the span of 20 years even though the police had been notified at least twice.
The Valley Voice does not report on crime.
Nevertheless, I get regular press releases from local law enforcement agencies about the arrest of human traffickers, drug dealers and child molesters.
So how did these men slip through the cracks, and are there many more out there just like them?
Is it the Exeter or Farmersville Police Department’s fault? Is it the DA’s office fault? Is it the fault of the system? Or do the gears of justice just turn so slowly that it is incapable of keeping our children safe?
Frasier and Samantha are certain these men are still abusing children.
“They have been doing it for 20 years,” said Samantha. “Why would they stop now?”
It wasn’t easy for Samantha or her mother to relive those years. But she didn’t think it was fair that her abuser was free to ride his bike, enjoy the fresh air and go about his life while everyday she has to live with the memories of what he did to her.
Samantha and Frasier wanted to tell their painful story so more children won’t have to tell one of their own. Hopefully it was not told in vain, and might bring about real change and a little bit of justice for them.