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The Threat of the Federal Government

[Note: This post was initially misclassified as a Liveblog. See here for the correctly placed post under Longer Twitter.]

Under President Obama, the belief that the government poses “an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens” is held by nearly half of all Americans, according to Gallup.


In terms of presidential politics, the fact that the biggest leap came between 2003 and 2006 is interesting.  To be sure, after 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, civil libertarians were right to express concern about the new powers being claimed by the government.  But the Patriot Act passed in October 2001.  What characterized the later six years of President Bush’s time in office was a concerted and constant press by the news and entertainment media to make the Republican administration appear as a threat.

Another chart farther down at the above link bolsters this point, showing that, after a dip in the threat assessment by supporters of both major political parties from 2004 to 2005, Democrats increased in their sense of a federal threat from 45% to 59%, while Republicans only increased from 23% to 24% by late 2006.

By the next time the party question was asked, in late 2010, the parties had essentially switched, with Republicans worrying about the threat at 63% and Democrats at 26%.  The fevered pitch of distrust that the media stoked remained, it just took hold among a different group.  Interestingly, since that time, despite the concerted and constant effort of the news and entertainment media to support President Obama and downplay his scandals, the sense of a threat among Democrats has grown from 26% to 32%, while only 63% to 65% among Republicans.

This is purely my interpretation, of course, but I would argue that some concern was justified after the passage of the Patriot Act, but that the Democrats’ allies in the media worked overtime to convince Americans that President Bush wasn’t just a less desirable choice than other options, but a threat to the country, blending seamlessly with the delirious hysteria surrounding Obama’s election.  Since then, however, it’s become increasingly clear that the government under Obama has actually become a threat.


Coalition Radio Introduces Three Fiscal Topics into the 2014 Campaign

Issue 1: Do any candidates for Rhode Island Governor or Rhode Island General Assembly support modifying or repealing Governor Chafee’s Wall-Street-first law regarding municipal priorities?

Issue 2: Will any of the candidates for Governor of Rhode Island have their fiscal staffs look immediately into the possibility of a Providence receivership. Will they tell us if they do?

Issue 3: Buddy Cianci, according to some research done by Michael Riley, once advocated for pension obligation bonds to help finance Providence’s pension system. Might he do so again?


RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.


Speaker Mattiello at the Rhode Island Taxpayers Summer Meeting, Part 2 (38 Studios)

A retro-liveblog formatted transcript of remarks made by Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Nicholas Mattiello, at this Saturday’s summer meeting of the Rhode Island Taxpayers organization, on the subject of the aftermath of 38 Studios; including why the Speaker favors paying the bonds, why he opposes using his subpoenas in a House investigation, and what the public should expect at the end.


Speaker Mattiello at the Rhode Island Taxpayers Summer Meeting, Part 1

A retro-liveblog of remarks made by Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Nicholas Mattiello, at this Saturday’s summer meeting of the Rhode Island Taxpayers organization. The areas the Speaker touches on include education, the gas-tax, reducing regulations in RI, and some general ideas about what governing means and how it should be done.


State GOP Endorsement Convention Results

Endorsed for Governor: Allan Fung (over Ken Block 120-46).
Endorsed for Lieutenant Governor: Catherine Taylor (over Kara Russo 134-31)
Endorsed for Attorney General: Dawson Hodgson.
Endorsed for Secretary of State: John Carlevale.
Endorsed for United States Senate: Mark Zaccaria (over Kara Russo 151-14).
Endorsed for Congressional District 1: Cormick Lynch (over Stan Tran 54-21).
Endorsed for Congressional District 2: Rhue Reis.

Brief excerpts from each endorsed candidate’s acceptance remarks are below the fold.