Scarlett Johansson… slut, government inadequacy, and true love.
Open post for podcast.
Scarlett Johansson… slut, government inadequacy, and true love.
Open post for podcast.
Rep. Jared Nunes (D, Coventry, West Warwick) may not have succeeded in passing much-needed reforms to the state House of Representatives’ rules with recent legislation, but he managed something very important, indeed. Reformers at any level of government in Rhode Island face a long, frustrating slog and must find encouragement wherever they can.
One source of encouragement is that having somebody push against the establishment wall at least forces its supporters to dispense with some pleasant illusions. In that way, even unsuccessful reform efforts show where doors are merely painted on the wall or where something solid proves to be soft.
Consider this, from a recent Providence Journal Political Scene:
“There are a number of reasons you put a bill in; sometimes you put a bill in to engender discussion,” [Arthur Corvese (D, North Providence)] said about the “held for further study” amendment. “Sometimes people put in bills and tell the chairman or leadership, ‘I don’t want this bill to see the light of day.'”
There you have it. Many of the bills that give activists hope on one side or headaches on the other are never intended to go anywhere, even by their sponsors. They’re meant to patronize you and stitch together a constituency that keeps legislators in office to accomplish what they’re really there for — mainly structuring government in ways that benefit their friends and special interests that actually pay for their connections.
A young father who leveraged government and the news media to avoid health care costs is upset that local politicians didn’t find that to be evidence of his expertise.
RI media should consider Phil Eil to be its id and consider whether that’s really what journalism is all about.
The odds are pretty obvious and challenging, if you think about it: Government at all levels employs millions of people; many of them have access to information the public does not; many of them make decisions that affect their own compensation and that of their peers; and (at least for now) their continued wealth and opportunity depends on getting people to allow government to take their money away.
Since the years of Obama stimulus spending — let’s say Rhode Island’s fiscal years 2009 through 2011 — I’ve been convinced that the administration’s goal was to ensure that government agencies were insulated from the recession. (Another goal was to launder money to left-wing activists, but that’s not my subject with this post.) As time moves along and data becomes more available, it’ll just take some work to trace the dollars.
But it is a lot of work. The general public, occupied during working hours in their own private-sector occupations, can’t hope to keep up. This fund blends into that fund from the other source through technical accounting categories, with repositories here and there that must remain shielded from public view for privacy or other reasons. The opportunity to mislead is structural.
In a small way, though, I think I’ve got a handle on how the Tiverton School Department transformed temporary stimulus money into a permanent increase in local funding and have written about it on Tiverton Fact Check:
In summary, when the state money shifted from regular aid to “restricted,” the school department built the excess into its budget. But when the funds shifted back, the increase was buried in this “restatement,” so local taxpayers would remain forever responsible for the supposedly temporary increase. As a matter of fact, the “restricted” aid didn’t actually decrease much; the accounts just changed.
Thus, the Tiverton schools maintained healthy budget growth even as the Great Recession wore on and housing values plummeted.
I’d be surprised if something similar wasn’t accomplished by school districts throughout Rhode Island and across the United States. Actual stimulus would have been a government reduction in taxes, but that wasn’t Obama’s goal.
Economic changes and government policy have been drawing millions of Americans toward a life of dependency on both government and drugs.
Such developments as this too often go unchallenged:
Hoping to avoid boring visitors with “the life of a dead guy,” staff of the Roger Williams National Memorial Visitors Center presented a new exhibit Saturday that brought the political leader’s provocative viewpoints into the 21st century.
The exhibit, “New and Dangerous Opinions,” is the center’s first new show in more than 20 years. It draws parallels between Williams’ exile from Massachusetts and modern struggles for equality, seen with the refugee crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement.
If the goal isn’t to maintain awareness about an important “dead guy” and the details of his life, why are we funding it? Moreover, looking for modern parallels will inevitably turn the exhibit into political propaganda to advance a particular viewpoint and should not be maintained with taxpayer dollars.
One suspects, for example, that the “refugee crisis” is presented in a decidedly left-wing way and that the celebration of the Black Lives Matter movement is not accompanied by any parallel that isn’t encompassed by the progressive, Democrat-helping narrative. One suspects, for example, that such an exhibit would never lead visitors to see a similarity between Roger Williams’s exile to Rhode Island and Christian small-businesses’ inability to decide what projects they will take for moral reasons.
Again, if taxpayers aren’t funding straightforward maintenance of historical artifacts, then the programs ought to be ended and the money returned to the people. Let the exhibit designers find some other way to advance the progressive cause and the destruction of Western civilization that isn’t funded with money confiscated from people who’d rather keep it.
Gary Sasse has an essay published with the Ripon Society that raises a point one hears more and more on the right side of the aisle:
Political success will require many things. Rather than talking about the economy in broad terms, for example, GOP governors must be ready to focus on specifics that place state government on the side of both working families and small business. Rather than being critical of social programs, Republican governors must lead and promote those that foster work, opportunity and self-sufficiency. Rather than imposing state mandates, Republican governors must deliver services based on the principles of choice and devolving responsibilities to communities. Finally, New England’s GOP governors must contrast their “fix it” solutions for failing schools, unsafe streets, economic stagnation, over-taxation, costly regulation and cronyism to the Democrat’s identity politics and liberal overreach.
Through the turmoil of the last half century, conservatives have had difficulty adjusting to the new demands of the Left’s “narrative” approach to public discourse. First, the Right condemned; then, we relied on a common sense and a nostalgia for the good days that the Left was working to undermine. We’re finally realizing that we have to do the work of explaining why our approach is really the one that puts people, not ideology, first.
We’ll win, ultimately, because we’re both correct and more respectful of humanity, but progressives have had an unchallenged pop-cultural and academic field for decades to imbue into our society the sub-rational sense that we’re the bad guys. It’s so thoroughly become a staple of movie plot twists, for example, that the bad guy will turn out to be the person whom 1950s America would have naturally seen as the good guy that plot twists don’t work anymore.
Well, just like the villain in such stories must do something decisive to prove to the hero and the audience that he’s really bad, it’s going to take a lot of absurdity, anger, and probably actual violence from the Left before a critical mass of Americans begins rooting them out of our institutions.
On a party-line vote, the City Council of Cranston has taken a step that supporters see as a safety issue.
Despite the objections of politicians who want the support of progressives and the money of abortionists, H5343 is either unbelievably radical or all-too-believably incompetent in its drafting.
It’s always nice to see the Providence Journal catching up on topics that Anchor Rising covered long ago. Here’s Monique Chartier writing in 2011:
When someone goes to the State of Rhode Island and applies for social services, one of the first pieces of information for which they are asked is a social security number. However, there are instances when the applicant/recipient may not have one (more on that in a sec). When that happens, the staff at the Dept of Human Services is permitted to enter a “666” by-pass number – a nine digit number that starts with 666.
Know how many people are receiving benefits under a 666 by-pass number?
And here’s Katherine Gregg writing in the Providence Journal the other day:
The numbers: As of February 8, there were 3,419 people without Social Security numbers listed as receiving benefits by the new state computer system that tracks eligibility determinations and payments of publicly-subsidized benefits in Rhode island, from cash assistance to health care.They have been entered into the state computer system with the code “666” or “000” in lieu of a Social Security number.
That tiny increase brings to mind Monique’s 2011 question: “Are we to believe that there is a steady new batch of 3,300 applicants continuously coming into the system who need to use the by-pass number while waiting for a social security number or a copy of their card to arrive?”
Curious, indeed. Gregg got the state to insist that “fewer than” 750 of the beneficiaries using the bypass numbers are illegal immigrants. Per Monique’s earlier question, one wonders to what extent they are the same people receiving benefits six years ago, or whether there’s amazingly consistent churn.
We shouldn’t forget, by the way, that the bypass numbers can’t be the complete count of illegal immigrants receiving benefits. Consider this recent video of illegal immigrant activist Jose Vargas acknowledging that his grandfather bought him a Social Security Number. One gets the impression that such things are common, given that Vargas raises the matter as evidence that illegal immigrants pay taxes.
In summary, we still don’t know how much Rhode Islanders are paying for illegal welfare benefits.
People across the political spectrum concerned about religious liberty should give a read to an article by Matt Hadro of Catholic News Agency. The Supreme Court of Washington state has upheld a ruling that a Christian florist is not free to choose her jobs:
“It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees,” Kristin Waggoner, senior counsel with the group Alliance Defending Freedom who argued the case before the Washington Supreme Court, stated Feb. 16.
“This case is about crushing dissent. In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist,” she added.
Consider the dangerous reasoning of the court:
The law “does not compel speech or association,” the court added, stating that it “is a neutral, generally applicable law that serves our state government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.”
What couldn’t fall under this construct? Particularly problematic is that it’s built on a patently false premise: The law does “compel speech or association,” whether or not it is “neutral” or “generally applicable” or “serves [a] compelling interest.” As a legal matter, the question would be whether the law can compel such speech or association, which it clearly cannot — hence the dissembling.
As for the neutrality and general applicability, that’s of no comfort at all. A legislature (or executive or court, in our corrupted version of representative democracy) need only declare a particular group (and its behavior) as exempt from moral criticism and then forbid everybody from discriminating against it.
Furthermore, if the state government has this “compelling interest in eradicating discrimination,” why is it limited to public accommodations? And why does it protect some types of human activity and identity and not others?
People who agree with the Washington Supreme Court simply don’t believe in religious liberty for people of whom they do not approve. Whether they realize it or not, they’re implicit tyrants and very possibly bigots, too.
News of domestic spying and the continued activities of anonymous “former officials” ought to raise concerns and return everybody (including progressives) the the lesson that loyalties can change.
According to the Rhode Island Family Prosperity Index, “startups aren’t the only thing when it comes to job growth. They’re the only thing.” The only way to incentivize enough start-up activity to make a difference in our state is to create a business climate that is attractive enough to make thousands of entrepreneurs want to invest here. Crony deals for a few dozen companies will not get it done.
CBC Radio Canada News takes up a second-order aspect to a news story about a man who is alleged to have inappropriately touched several teenage girls at a water park in Canada:
When Edmonton police announced the charges on Wednesday, they urged any other complainants or witnesses to contact them. One more complainant and one more witness have since come forward, police spokesperson Scott Pattison said Thursday.
The man charged in the case was a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada in January 2016, a fact that was reported Wednesday by numerous news outlets, including CBC News.
The story was quickly picked up by alt-right websites and anti-immigration groups. It was shared widely on social media.
As CBC tweeted, “When a refugee faces criminal charges, should the public be told?” How can there be any other answer than “yes”? As reaction to the story has proven, the detail is absolutely relevant to public discourse. Sure, the new bogeymen on the “alt-right” will attempt to amplify any such stories to advance their own point of view. But then, failing to report the detail is to aid and abet the “ctrl-left,” by maintaining talking points about how there’s no evidence of any problems with refugees.
The area across Northern America and Europe is sufficiently large that a unified decision among our media betters to withhold information they don’t find relevant in isolated cases could brush away hundreds of stories and present a false impression of reality to news consumers. It would be Rotherham on a Western Civilizational scale.
A news media that doesn’t trust us to be sufficiently intelligent to absorb and process this information is just feeding us ideological propaganda because they think they’re better than us. It’s that clear.
In keeping with my post, yesterday, about the government’s impositions on people who dare to work with others’ hair without a license, Jeff Jacoby highlights, in his Boston Globe column, an exchange between Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and hair salon owner LaRonda Hunter during the senator’s debate last week with his Republican peer Senator Ted Cruz.
Ms. Hunter wanted to know how she’s supposed to grow her business when the government imposes thresholds for benefits, like health care, that don’t work within her profit margin. Jacoby:
The exchange could not have been more enlightening. For entrepreneurs like Hunter, a mandate to supply health insurance triggers inescapable, and unignorable, consequences. For Sanders and other defenders of Obamacare, those consequences are irrelevant. They believe in the employer mandate — a belief impervious to facts on the ground.
Lawmakers so often enact far-reaching rules with worthy intentions, but little awareness of how much harm government burdens can cause.
Jacoby goes on to note this classic anecdote about liberal Democrat Senator George McGovern:
After a long career in Congress, former senator George McGovern tried his hand at running a business — a small hotel in Connecticut. “In retrospect,” McGovern wrote after the inn went bankrupt, “I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business. . . . I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day.”
Think of all the idiotic (yes, idiotic) legislation being submitted by the likes of the General Assembly’s quintessentially inexperienced Ivy League legislator Aaron Regunberg. Voters must become the adults in the process, because too many of the politicians and their special-interest-or-ideologue supporters are not capable of playing the role.
A thoughtful, well grounded op-ed by former state rep Doug Gablinske in Thursday’s Providence Journal, who makes the reality case that the electricity to be generated by the proposed Burrillville power plant is very much needed.
Although some of us on the right find their viewpoints intellectually incoherent, progressives do have consistent guildelines that can help one to predict what their opinions will be on particular issues. On matters of biology and sexuality, the guideline appears to be that any movement away from the attitudes and lifestyles that facilitated human society’s advancement through to the 1960s is good. Consider legislation that Steve Ahlquist promotes on RI Future:
House Bill 5277, which if passed would prohibit “conversion therapy” by licensed health care professionals with respect to children under 18 years of age was popularly supported at the House Health Education and Welfare Committee meeting Wednesday evening. Conversion therapy as defined in the bill includes any practice that “seeks or purports to impose change of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, practices which attempt or purport to change behavioral expression of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or attempt or purport to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”
So, to review: Progressive legislators have submitted an extremely broad and radical bill that would prevent just about any government interference when women want to kill their babies in the womb. The Department of Education has issued regulations authorizing schools to guide students along the path of changing their genders, even if it means deceiving their parents.
And yet, progressives want to forbid people who wish to reduce or eliminate their same-sex attractions from working with professionals who might be able to help them do that. This is pure ideology, like a fundamentalist dogma with no tolerance for individual choices that stray from the accepted beliefs.
Not to play Internet psychotherapist, but one gets the impression that people who’ve made radical lifestyle choices want to use the law to prevent others from choosing differently if their doing so might imply that the radical choice is wrong. As for the progressive movement, as a movement, undermining the social structures and freedoms that empower individuals in the context of their families leaves a hurting population ripe for progressive rule.
It would seem that progressive identity politics are now working their way up the scale of priorities of the state police:
In one of her first moves as the state’s top cop, Rhode Island State Police Col. Ann Assumpico has commissioned a study of recruitment practices aimed at retaining a “racially and gender-diverse department,” the state police announced Friday.
The project is expected to cost $225,000 and will be paid for from the state police’s remaining portion of funds secured in the federal settlement with Google.
Hopefully law enforcement remains the agency’s top priority, but two years of the Gina Raimondo in the governor’s chair haven’t been good for the institution’s once-impeccable reputation. A diversity obsession can do a lot of damage.
Rhode Islanders may have noticed that Providence Democrat Representative Anastasia Williams has submitted legislation to allow people to braid hair for pay without requiring a license. This is actually a subject that the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has raised in the past (although I can’t find a link, just now) and is consistent with both our long-running insistence that the state government is strangling our economy with regulations and our more-recent emphasis on shifting policy in favor of helping Rhode Island families and facilitating non-government civil society.
Via Instapundit, however, comes an entry by Eric Boehm of Reason, who may very well have spotted the poster child for the government’s overreach in directing our lives and preventing us from serving one another as human beings:
The Arizona State Board of Cosmetology is investigating Juan Carlos Montesdeoca after receiving complaints that he was cutting hair without a license, Tucson News Now reported Monday. According to the complaint, which Montesdeoca shared with the TV station, the board received an anonymous complaint alleging that Montesdeoca was “requesting local businesses and local stylists to help out with free haircuts (unlicensed individuals) to the homeless.”
This morning, the Tiverton Budget Committee (of which I’m a member) toured the town’s Senior Center, and the new director related some of the anecdotes that she’s heard about the 100-year-old building. Back when it was a school, apparently doctors would open weekend clinics for various procedures, including the removal of tonsils.
Now, given advancements in knowledge, we can surely agree on a role for government in requiring sanitary conditions and licensed professionals to perform such surgeries. At the same time, we should be able to agree that rules against hair braiding and charity trims don’t really protect anybody but established practitioners who are able to charge more money the less competition they have.
Come on, now. This is like lie-detector 101:
“There was pressure [to launch UHIP despite its not being ready], no doubt about it,” Raimondo told reporters. “High ranking members of the General Assembly said, ‘Deliver this now.'” …
[Department of Human Services Director Eric] Beane, called to testify about his month-long probe of UHIP, tempered his answer, saying employees he spoke with at DHS and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services talked about pressure from former House Finance Committee Chairman Raymond Gallison and former Rep. Eileen Naughton, who chaired the finance subcommittee on health and human services.
So, the governor tried to deflect some blame, and the administration realized it was starting a political fight, so a flunky ostensibly testifying with a neutral assessment of what went wrong implied (indirectly, notice) that the blame should fall on two legislators whom a governor would hardly take seriously as directing the administration’s actions and who, conveniently, are no longer in office (one because he was jammed up with criminal investigations).
This is cover-up land. The governor can’t be trusted. As I suggested in my “Last Impressions” podcast this week, it appears that Raimondo has invested in the tagline that she’s the “governor who gets things done,” and sliding down the UHIP wormhole had to be a major concern.
Even those who noticed that the “Day without Immigrants” was Thursday might have heard a different message than organizers intended.
I’ve been meaning to nominate the headline that the Providence Journal used in its print edition for this article (from the Associated Press):
‘Obamacare’ sees high enrollment
To be fair, the Projo headline writer was taking his or her cue from and amplifying the spin of AP writers, Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar and Kevin S. Vineys who try to slip in the real story in the third paragraph:
Although initial enrollment is about 4 percent lower than last year, the sizable number of sign-ups illustrates the risk Republicans face as they begin moving to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and put in its place a yet-to-be-defined conservative approach.
You can’t get from a 4% drop in enrollment to a headline proclaiming “high enrollment” without being something more like propagandists than journalists. If I were an objective journalist working for one of these organizations, I’d be furious with my coworkers for undermining our publication’s credibility.
Here’s an interesting study. It’s from GEMS Educational Solutions, and I found it via a positive mention in a Guardian article, so we’re probably not talking a right-wing group, here.
The study compares certain educational statistics across countries, and one of its principles is that “inefficiency can be a result of either underpaying or overpaying teachers.” By that measure, the United States would become more efficient (better managing results versus tax rates) by lowering salaries by five percent and increasing class sizes by 10%.
Rhode Island’s teacher salaries are top 10 for the country, so 5% would be too low for our state. Also, the 15.3 student:teacher ratio listed on GEMS’s application compares with a Rhode Island average of 8.
To be clear, these are back-of-the-envelope comparisons. A more-thorough review might require adjustments of the numbers (different years, different teacher roles included in the student ratios, etc.). I come across people, though, especially locally, who find inconceivable the idea that less spending on anything government does might be bad.
Over on RI Future, Steve Ahlquist complains that, under President Donald Trump, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now detaining people for “even minor crimes.” Here’s Ahlquist’s example:
According to sources familiar with the incident, José Eduardo Cames (the third part of his name may be misspelled) lied to immigration officials at the border when he and his wife entered the country. They carried a baby with them that was not theirs, loaned to them from another family, to make a better case for themselves to stay in the United States.
An investigation revealed the lie, but under Obama, that did not make the couple a high priority for deportation and as long as they made periodic visits to an ICE office in Warwick, they were allowed to stay in the country. At their most recent visit to the Warwick ICE offices on Friday, ICE did not let them leave and detained them, said a source familiar with the case.
In other words, the “minor crime” that the couple broke was entering the country illegally, with the added dynamic of fraud, and the agency that the federal government has created at great expense to enforce that particular area of the law is holding them, perhaps to deport them. (Never mind that they “borrowed” a baby, as one borrows a car, perhaps with the intention that the child’s actual parents would then have an excuse to enter the country, which is arguably a form of exploitation and human trafficking.)
As I’ve written before, there are legitimately difficult cases in the immigration debate, but one gets the impression that progressives don’t actually believe that any of the cases are difficult. Their view appears to be that we should let everybody in at the border and then let them stay (seeding the government plantation and giving progressives political leverage).
A bad guy on the 12:00 train, UHIP messaging, and the rule of the experts.
Click here for the podcast.
An article by Tim White on WPRI raises an interesting question. State Trooper James Donnelly-Taylor pleaded no contest to charges of assaulting a Central Falls man who had been arrested, and now he faces a civil lawsuit in the matter:
… the attorney general’s office has refused to represent Donnelly-Taylor in the civil suit. But they are representing the other defendants, including the state of Rhode Island, former State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell, Gov. Gina Raimondo, another trooper who took part in the traffic stop, and other officials. …
A spokesperson for Attorney General Kilmartin said his office believes this is the first time the office has not represented a state trooper in a legal action.
“As attorney general, I will never accept that criminal conduct falls within the job description of any Rhode Island state employee,” Kilmartin said in a statement. “Committing the crime of assault upon a prisoner – or anyone – is outside of the course and scope of the duties of a state trooper, and the taxpayers should not have to defend or pay for the criminal actions of Donnelly-Taylor.”
As White goes on to explain, Rhode Island law allows the attorney general to do as Kilmartin has done if “the act or the failure to act was because of actual fraud, willful misconduct, or actual malice.” The question is at what point an AG gets to make the decision that these characterizations apply.
If Donnelly-Taylor had been found innocent in the criminal case, or if it hadn’t been completed, one could argue that Kilmartin’s decision would be wrong, for the same reason that journalists tack “alleged” onto their stories even when the crime seems obvious: People charged with crimes get their day in court.
Another aspect to consider is that U.S. District Court Judge John McConnell has prohibited the release of a video of the incident so as to prevent its spread from tainting the pool of people who may be assigned to the jury. If that’s a concern, isn’t the attorney general doing something similar by calling it “criminal conduct”?
Thanks to Kate Nagle and GoLocalProv for inviting the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s Mike Stenhouse on their new GoLocal LIVE program yesterday. They discussed, in part, Governor Raimondo’s recently announced manufacturing advisory council, which is comprised of lots of people but not a whole lot of economic diversity.
Meanwhile, congratulations and best wishes to Kate Nagle, Molly O’Brien and GoLocalProv on the launch of their cutting edge new program!
Just in case you’re thinking the grim reaper of euthanasia won’t be a creeping killer, here’s a Catholic News Agency article to consider:
An Oregon bill on advanced medical directive rules could allow patients who suffer from dementia or mental illness to be starved or dehydrated, opponents warned.
These are patients who are awake, can chew and swallow and want to eat, even though in some cases they may need help in delivering food to their mouths,” Gayle Atteberry of Oregon Right to Life said Jan. 31. “Current safeguards in Oregon’s law protect these patients from this type of cruelty. This bill take away these safeguards.”
Whether proponents see euthanasia as compassion or as a scheme to slough off some excess population, it has no boundaries once one cedes the argument over the sacred value of human life.
The evidence continues to appear that government schools are drifting from their educational mission and toward left-wing indoctrination.