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Clarifying the Meaning of P3

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Rhode Island as the Land of Insiders and Suckers

On his still-new Web site, Russell Moore shares a conversation he had with a couple of guys at the gym:

That’s when the second gentleman spoke up.

“If you live in Rhode Island, and you’re not in a public sector retirement system, you’re a sucker,” he said. “You’re paying for lavish benefits you’re not going to get.”

I’ve been covering government and politics in Rhode Island since 2005. Never in my life had I heard the situation put so succinct–or so blunt. You can’t argue with his logic.

And there you go.  The anecdote raises two questions for those who aren’t on the winning end of that seesaw:

  1. Why are you here?
  2. What are you doing to stop being a sucker?

Too many people choose to leave.  We need everybody to speak up.  If folks (especially business owners) are worried about the consequences of doing so, get in touch with those who are active, as we’re working on ways around the obstacle of intimidation.

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Political Incentives for the Opposition as for the News Media

A few weeks ago, Rhode Islanders were reacting to the rapid-fire news of two Providence Journal reporters’ transition to jobs in government offices on which they’d recently written stories.  Shortly thereafter, the announcement came that former Republican state Senator John Pagliarini had taken a job as the Senate parliamentarian, and Rhode Island Public Radio reporter Ian Donnis asked state GOP Chairman Brandon Bell whether this was a matter of concern as well.  I never saw Bell’s response, but mine was:  of course.

An item in today’s Providence Journal Political Scene fleshes out why I’d say that:

Until recently, [Pagliarini] had kept the door open to a potential GOP run for a range of political offices from mayor to lieutenant governor. Now? “I have no aspirations to run for political office as of today,″ he told Political Scene about a week ago. He has also resigned as the state GOP’s general counsel.

And there you go. As with the reporters, the problem isn’t so much the appearance that the government is buying out the potent soldiers of the opposition, but that the prospect of a $54,259 part-time gig makes clear who has the career prospects on offer for anybody who might consider the possibility of raising the sorts of objections that might offend the powerful.

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The Choice After the Memo

Roger Simon asks a good question with a PJMedia piece titled, “Why Did the Democrats Lie So Baldly about the Memo“?

It seems this particular lie was a last line of defense — for now — against a coming potential Armageddon for their party.  This memo, bad as it is, is apparently only the first of many, a small percentage of what is to come. And the Democrats know it.

Fear is operative. Maybe panic. An entire weltanschauung is under threat — jobs, friends, self-image, who knows what. If this goes on much longer and much more comes out, some Democrats -—not apparatchik Schiff, needless to say, but others — might have to face reality and say something. A few journalists (not at CNN, but maybe someplace else) might have to report the truth. It happened with Watergate. Republicans turned against Nixon. But, of course, they’re “the stupid party.”

Obviously, we don’t know where all this is going, but I have to say I’ve found the anti-Trump response a little too predictably incredulous.  Nobody is immune to bias, naturally, but it seems to me that behaving as if there is nothing disturbing in this memo proves an unwillingness to see something that contradicts one’s beliefs or one’s political imperative.

And, by the way, the other side in this equivalence is not that there is proof of illegal collusion on the part of the Trump campaign, but that the Trump campaign was full of political amateurs whose skewed standards for assessing value in others made them vulnerable to unsavory characters and prone to mistakes.  In short, they were outsiders who weren’t schooled in the distinctions of boundaries in government and every other area of life.

The hysterics and see-no-evil attitude dismissing this memo suggest that those opposing President Trump understand all too well those distinctions. First, they attempted to violate them and hide it.  Now, they are panicked about how obvious it is.

Suspicion of that very sense of entitlement is what created such distrust that the people went so far as to elect Donald Trump as president.  Increasingly, the two ways out appear to be to clean the corruption up or for the corruptocrats to regain power and amplify their abuse of power.

The first is better, even if it means tolerating a boorish executive.

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Let’s Not Be Fooled Again by the Big-Government Pitch

It became a joke among those of us on the political right that every failure of the economy to surge during the Obama years happened “unexpectedly,” at least in the eyes of the mainstream media.  Now we have President Trump, and economic growth has improved, and here come headlines like, “Is the global economic expansion party over?,” which the Providence Journal gives to a Washington Post article by Heather Long.

Long lists a number of areas about which people should be justifiably concerned, but one can’t help but feel that the Post was disappointed that Trump wasn’t sufficiently rebuked by the global elite at Davos and is searching for something critical to say.

All that said, it’s hard to argue with this:

No one knows exactly what the next crisis will be. The best defense is to make the necessary tweaks to government programs and spending now, top business leaders and experts say. This is especially true for the United States as it goes up against China in the battle for global supremacy.

Of course, what the big-government types mean by that is to cut short the policies that are leading to expansion (decreased regulation, lower taxes, and generally more emphasis on the private sector than government) in favor of more reliance on government spending and power.  And of course, they hope that people won’t understand that this is the fault of government intervention and mismanagement, not neglect:

“You must have good infrastructure. Our infrastructure has fallen from first or second in the world to the teens. And our education has gone from No. 1 or 2 in the world to 27th or 28th,” [Blackstone chief executive Steve] Schwarzman said.

Conspicuously, Schwarzman’s Blackstone has been relevant to discussions about government-directed investment in projects around Rhode Island.  So, government undermines U.S. infrastructure and education by redirecting those investments to special interests, and now special interests are (we can infer) arguing that more money ought to flow into those two areas.

Let’s not be fooled again.

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A Feat of the Imagination in the Bureaucracy

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Vitality Is in the Eye of the Person Who Didn’t Do Much

There’s something sadly typical about the claims that the “resource officer” at Portsmouth High School makes regarding a former student’s strange assault on a teacher as he attempted to enter the gymnasium:

The school resource officer sprang into action and soon arrived to find a physical education teacher in hysterics, saying she had just been assaulted by a man trying to get into the gym. The teacher told [Maddie] Pirri the suspect had left and ran towards the school’s main office. …

[Marcus] Schlip, 22, denied the assault, according to Pirri, but because of multiple 911 calls from students identifying him as the perpetrator, she arrested him. A 7-inch, military-style blade was found in his backpack. …

“As soon as I entered the main office, I did observe the suspect in the main office sitting down,” Pirri recalled. “Just casually sitting.”

In summary, the dedicated on-campus police officer did pretty much nothing.  A teacher stopped the assailant from entering the gym; students called 911; and the suspect walked to the main office and sat down of his own volition.  The claim of Shaun Towne and Steve Nielsen’s WPRI headline — that the incident “shows why [the resource officer] position is vital” — could be fodder for an Onion article or a comic skit.

Sure, one could imagine circumstances in which her presence was critical to a relatively desirable outcome, but then again, one could imagine circumstances that were the opposite.  If Schlip had panicked upon seeing a single cop coming toward the office, he could have become dangerous again or run, whereas a larger police presence — even if it arrived a few minutes later — may have prevented that outcome.  Or not.  We don’t know.

The point is that, in the scenario that actually occurred, we find evidence on the side of those who argued that putting a police officer in every school at great expense in response to Sandy Hook was generally a waste of resources.  Other security measures along with changes in patrol routes (for example) could ensure at least the same security without the cost in pay and benefits (including pensions) and without giving kids the sense that they must live always in the presence of uniformed police.

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The Journalist-Government Revolving Door Spins Again

Sorry to those who think I’m being unfair, but I don’t see how this isn’t a problem for Rhode Island journalism and especially the Providence Journal:

Especially coming right on the heals of Kate Bramson’s jump to Senate Policy Director under Democrat President Dominick Ruggerio, Bogdan’s move to be the new $82,699 Deputy Communications Director for Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo looks really, really bad.

I’ve had cause to point out too many times, in Tiverton, that letting your misbehaving employees gracefully retire (with all of their accumulated sick pay) sends a very strong signal to other employees that they can relax their standards.  Just so, all of these big promotions into government communications offices — or government offices of any kind — send the very strong signal to other journalists that they should be sure to keep their options open as they ask those proverbial tough questions of potential future employees.

If they were smart, Rhode Island news organizations would all initiate revolving door policies.  Of course, first they’d all have to admit the problem, and I’ve seen no sign of that.

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