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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Show off Sen. Jeff Flake gives bad name to rotten apples everywhere

It’s often said one bad apple spoils the bunch, but most people don’t understand why.

In the case of real apples and real bunches, one bad one really can turn the whole barrel sour. From MentalFloss.com, “The riper a piece of fruit is, the more ethylene it produces, and overripe fruit gives off even Flake in elevatormore ethylene, eventually leading to a concentration of the gas that’s enough to overripen all the fruit. Given the right conditions and enough time, one apple can push all the fruit around it to ripen—and eventually rot.”

How does decomposing fruit translate to the current situation in Washington? The answer should be obvious, but if not, ask Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his thoughts on fellow Republican lame duck Sen. Jeff Flake’s final act of party sabotage. The Arizonian is literally holding up every single judicial (and a couple administration) nomination in a feat of grandstanding that qualifies him as legendary in the eyes of obstructionists and anarchists everywhere.

Susan Ferrechio reported at The Washington Examiner last week, “For the second time in two weeks, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called off a planned meeting to advance more than two dozen Trump administration nominees because the panel would not have enough votes to favorably report them to the Senate floor.

“Republicans hold a one-seat majority on the panel, but Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he won’t support any judicial nominations until GOP leaders allow a vote on legislation that would prevent President Trump from firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing an alleged connection between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russians.

“Flake is not backing down, he told the Washington Examiner, and plans to oppose the judges until either his retirement at the end of the year or until the Senate votes on the Mueller resolution.”

Hmmm… let’s see. It’s the second week of December, almost all of last week was eaten up by honorariums for the dearly departed President George H.W. Bush and there’s comparatively very little time remaining in this lame duck Congress to get anything accomplished before representatives and senators call it a term and head back home to pretend they’re normal for a few days.

The next Congress convenes in early January (yes, in a little over three weeks) and there’ll be a different set of behinds occupying at least a few of the seats in the upper chamber. Flake’s chair will move to the other side of the aisle and be filled by newly elected 42-year-old space cadet Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a woman so intellectually challenged that one wonders whether she’ll even be able to find her place on the first day of the session.

Like Flake, Sinema is an out-of-touch Trump-hating loser from a state renowned for quirky voting preferences, having sent Flake and also “maverick” John McCain to Capitol Hill (in the latter’s case, for well over three decades). Most observers say Sinema will immediately fit right in with the rest of her wacko fellow Democrats, but at least she won’t have the power -- as Flake does now -- to hold up all of the president’s judicial nominations independently.

Why wouldn’t/didn’t McConnell do something about this situation when he had the chance? It’s one of the DC swamp’s greatest mysteries, since this is the time of year when everyone’s either scrambling to tie up a few loose ends or already dialed in the rest of 2018 in anticipation of enjoying a surge of energy beginning in 2019. There’s a reason why New Year’s resolutions start on January 1 instead of December 11 -- what’s the use of initiating a diet or an exercise program when the holiday dinner table’s just waiting to add to the existing fat layer?

Flake’s no fat layer -- he’s more like a wart that begs to be frozen or burned off. Given time he’d dry up and wither away, but it wouldn’t do Trump’s nominees any good to wait until the new Congress for lawmakers’ attention. With a 53-seat majority next term (and no filibuster, thanks Harry Reid!) McConnell and the GOP won’t have much difficulty confirming judges but many of these unfortunate would-be jurists will have to wait their turn again to even receive a hearing before a newly composed Flake-less Judiciary Committee.

All because of Flake. McConnell could’ve removed Flake from his Judiciary post and replaced him, but Grassley’s already said he won’t schedule any more committee meetings until Flake relents on his Mueller-or-bust showboating vow. McConnell’s just as stubbornly argued a “protect Mueller” vote isn’t necessary, a waste of time and ain’t gonna happen, so it looks as though Flake the bad apple will have spoiled the whole bunch of Trump judge nominees.

In doing so, Flake’s cemented his already well-established legacy as a turncoat and the left’s best insider friend, single-handedly accomplishing what 49 Democrat senators have thus far been powerless to do -- namely, stop conservative constitutional originalist nominees from receiving votes to advance. Is McConnell worried about taking a public relations hit if he’s too rough on Flake? That can’t be it -- Mitch has the GOP base behind him and Democrat voters are giddy and distracted gearing up for plenty of anti-Trump rancor from the new Democrat House majority.

By the looks of it this dilemma will end in Flake not getting his wish (a vote) -- and a lot of good conservative judges wondering about their status heading into next term. Flake’s selfish actions therefore impact thousands of lives (which includes other senators’ constituents and litigants to the court cases being held up by a shortage of judges to preside over them). The Mueller investigation will drone on -- or suddenly conclude -- with the Special Counsel not getting fired and Flake will disappear into the historical morass of stupid politicians who made ridiculous self-righteous stands and got nothing for it.

Flake isn’t hurting Trump with this nonsense -- he’s harming America. Arcane senate traditions have already turned the “world’s greatest deliberative body” into a running joke. Defenders of the DC swamp have found their hatchet man -- too bad for them he’ll be outta here soon.

For his part Trump shows no signs of intending to fire Mueller. The special prosecutor has spent tens of millions searching for something that was never well defined. Trump thinks it’s taken a toll on his popularity, too. Rebecca Morin of Politico reported, “President Donald Trump is blaming special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe for his relatively low approval ratings, adding that he believes it's ‘presidential harassment.’

“’Without the phony Russia Witch Hunt, and with all that we have accomplished in the last almost two years (Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judge’s, Military, Vets, etc.) my approval rating would be at 75% rather than the 50% just reported by Rasmussen,’ Trump tweeted on Thursday. ‘It’s called Presidential Harassment!’...

“Trump has frequently called out Mueller's probe as a ‘witch hunt,’ but he recently submitted written answers to the special counsel. Mueller is investigating whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, but he has widened the probe to include possible obstruction of justice and other matters.”

I agree with Trump that Mueller’s probe is a witch hunt in search of non-existent witches, but I disagree with the president that it’s costing him significant public support. Outside of swampy establishment circles and content hungry cable channels (MSNBC, CNN and Fox News) no one’s paying attention to the investigation at all. If the “witch hunt” had any effect on the 2018 midterms it was due to the American public’s disgust at having to hear Mueller’s name for months at a time.

Mueller’s Democrat-driven “probe” might’ve even motivated the GOP base more than the Trump-hating Democrats. Why? Because no one understands what it’s after and biased news outlets have done a historically poor job of explaining its purpose and why it was started. The only thing Mueller’s achieved is to provide a platform for rotting bad apples like Jeff Flake to toss a wrench in the machinery of government.

Trump’s job approval rating remains about the same as it was a year ago with the same people supporting him and opposing him with very little movement in either camp. Conservative commentators point to how Trump’s been remarkably effective in pushing through Republican platform items despite widespread public disapproval but it hasn’t translated into more warm feelings from Trump skeptics. Trump doubters complain about the same set of concerns -- his caustic tweets, his occasional off-the-cuff remark, his lack of manners with world leaders, etc…

When it comes to policy many conservatives take issue with Trump’s trade stances but it hasn’t been sufficient to deprive him of most Republicans’ favor. It almost seems people either “get” Trump or they don’t. Trump’s is one act that hasn’t gotten old for his backers who admire his punch ‘em in the nose fighting spirit -- but he’s definitely having trouble winning additional converts.

Mueller is like a fly on a horse’s rear, easily swatted away with a sweep of the tail but then buzzes around until finally landing and biting again. Does anyone really care about this stuff anymore? Do Trump’s enemies believe Mueller’s truly on to something and is simply waiting for the right time to pounce?

Mueller’s swamp creature team will keep doing their dirty deeds until time -- or funding -- runs out. After all, official Washington loves to dump buckets of cash to foster big shows. Take President George H.W. Bush’s funeral for example. Ever wonder how much all of that pomp and circumstance costed?

Alana Goodman of the Washington Examiner reported, “The late President George H.W. Bush’s funeral service and related ceremonies will cost American taxpayers at least a half-billion dollars in lost productivity and wages for federal workers and other expenses...

“The paid holiday for federal workers — including Congress and the U.S. Postal Service — could cost taxpayers upwards of $450 million, according to estimates.

“A 2008 analysis by the National Taxpayers Union found that federal holidays cost taxpayers around $450 million per day in holiday pay and lost labor. That figure is based on 2004 U.S. economic data. The figure is not adjusted for inflation, and federal salaries and the federal workforce have grown since then, making it almost certain the estimate is low.”

Like with every federal holiday it’s likely government employees (and those off because of a government closure) took an unexpected day of leave as an opportunity to sleep in, run errands and/or work on home improvement projects. We’d like to think everyone would’ve spend a few hours in church contemplating life and honoring the former president but few probably participated.

Taxpayers foot the bill for the honorariums, both the lost productivity from federal laborers not working and for the lavish ceremonies to properly bid farewell to a historic figure. I recall the capital region practically stood still in June, 2004, when President Reagan passed on. People waited in three-hour long lines in the middle of the night to pay their respects under the capitol dome. A friend of mine made the day-long roundtrip to drive to DC from Virginia Beach. The Gipper had that kind of meaning to folks.

Not to say H.W. Bush wasn’t as “special” as Reagan was, but at some point, the sheer costs of these gestures must be taken into account. The president declares an official day of mourning and by tradition it will likely continue whenever one of the four living former presidents dies.

Senator John McCain also had a grand and certainly costly state funeral as did Ted Kennedy and other important dignitaries. Where does it end? Would the departed policymakers approve of the huge amounts it takes to honor them after they’re gone? Am I just being a funeral scrooge here?

The media treated the solemn affair almost like a carnival with a casket in the middle -- and some took advantage of the opening to score political points against our current president. Naomi Lim of the Washington Examiner reported, “CNN's Don Lemon would not have extended a hand to President Trump as the Obamas did had he been seated next to the president at former President George H.W. Bush's funeral.

“’I'm going to say that I don't think I would shake hands with him. I would just — nope, couldn't do it. I'm not that big a person,’ Lemon told his CNN colleague Chris Cuomo Wednesday at the top of his show. ‘I would hope that I would be, but I don't — I can't fake the funk as they say.’ ‘They showed the ultimate respect for the office,’ Lemon said of the Obamas. ‘They do not have to show respect for someone who does not respect them.’”

Let’s not kid ourselves -- compromised loser Don Lemon wouldn’t be caught dead at a Republican’s funeral, so he wouldn’t have to worry about shaking the president’s hand.

The obvious enmity on display last week between President Trump and the Clintons was understandable under the circumstances. Crooked Hillary is/was ultimately responsible for the entire “Russian collusion” Mueller mess and Trump wasn’t about to give her the dignity of acknowledgement, even at a funeral.

It's unfortunate that one bad apple like Jeff Flake can spoil the whole bunch (in this case, President Trump’s judicial nominees). Even worse, there are tons of equally sour fruits in the nation’s capital, begging for a swamp draining mission of epic proportions. Is Trump up to the task?

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