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Governor Takes Class Time from School with 10% Proficiency in Math to Pitch Free College

Not to belabor Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s free-tuition vote-buying scheme, but doesn’t this seem presumptuous and out of line:

Gov. Gina Raimondo brought her proposal to provide free tuition to students attending Rhode Island’s public colleges to a cheering crowd of juniors, seniors and faculty at Cranston High School East on Wednesday morning.

In keeping with every other news report I’ve seen, Providence Journal reporter G. Wayne Miller doesn’t say whether the governor made her remarks while appearing at the school for some other reason, and she shared the stage with a bunch of like-minded politicians, so it seems as if class time was simply being used for a political event and photo op.  Republican Mayor Allan Fung — a past and possibly future contender for governor — had to offer his views via press release.

One could see allowing the governor to explain her proposal in the context of a debate in front of the students, but something so even-handed and educational is apparently beyond the ken of Rhode Island public schools.  Instead, Rhode Islanders receive the spectacle of their governor sounding like a candidate for class president, promising that all grades will be on a curve and the cafeteria will bring back decent food.

In case you’re wondering, only 30% of Cranston East students are proficient in reading and 10% in math, which makes the event just about a perfect representation of the governor’s political strategy.  Her policies are geared toward and presented to people who stand to benefit directly, who lack the context or experience to understand the likely consequences, and many of whom can’t legally vote.


An Administration That Looks Better After the Election

The ordinary course of events is for politicians and their campaign staffs to be all things to all people before the election and then, after they’ve won, to start disappointing people, typically those who most wanted them to do what they promised to do.  The Trump administration, in contrast, has been comforting those who worried that all pretense of policies to the right of political center were just for show.  William McGurn recently took the Wall Street Journal to point out more encouraging news from the Trump camp:

Kellyanne Conway has just upended another Washington convention. She did so when she agreed to speak at the annual March for Life, one week after Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

With this one gesture, Mrs. Conway steals some thunder from the celebrity-heavy Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration. She focuses attention on big changes ahead for abortion policy. She challenges the feminist trope that to be a woman is to be pro-choice.

Above all, she guarantees coverage of a march the press would prefer to ignore, and gets the New York Times to report that, having “made history” as “the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign,” Mrs. Conway will now make history again as “the first sitting White House official to address the annual march in person.”

I’ve seen multiple articles, from the Newport Daily News, the Providence Journal, and so on, about a handful of women from Rhode Island marching against Trump.  The presentation has been such that one would think they were traveling by the thousand to the Middle East to protest how women are treated there, rather than taking a brief trip south for a predictably fashionable cause.

It’d be nice if somebody at the state level would bring Conway-like attention to the pro-life march.  If only Rhode Island’s first female governor were Catholic or something.


Obama’s Crocodile Tears for American Institutions

Kevin Williamson is must reading on Obama’s crocodile tears for American institutions:

If President Obama does not understand why our institutions and the common ground they once represented are in a shambles, he need not look very far for an explanation: He is a man of the Left, and the Left corrupts every institution it touches: the news media, the educational and academic institutions, the cultural institutions, professional organizations, government bureaucracies, everything from National Geographic to the English department at the University of Texas. This is not a case of “both sides do it” or an instance of a conservative polemicist simply fitting his political opponents for black hats. If you want to understand why Americans have so little faith in institutions that were once granite pillars of respectability, you must understand the Left’s coopting of them.


Raimondo Insults Your Intelligence with College Plan

This morning, I noted that legislators are the only people in Rhode Island who can promise workers a 10% increase in pay without worrying about where the money will come from.  It just magically appears in their imaginations.  At noon, I suggested that Rhode Islanders should be embarrassed that their state is so dependent on federal government welfare.

The state government’s latest revenue and caseload conference estimated that the government’s revenue will fall $52 million from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2018.  And during the budget process, last year, the state expected that deficits would climb $40-60 million per year, hitting $333 million by 2021.

So how in the world does Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo state the following — and get away with it in G. Wayne Miller’s Providence Journal article — while promising the new $30 million expense of giving all Rhode Islanders two free years of college at a state institution?

We have the money. This is affordable. It’s a smart solution.

It’s a vote-buying giveaway pure and simple that counts on Rhode Islanders’ not noticing that they’re paying the bill.  It’s an insult to our intelligence.

Moreover, we should expect that the estimated cost is laughably low.  Given free tuition, more families will use the colleges and university, and the institutions will surely increase their tuition rates once the cost to the decision makers (students and their families) is zilch (or half-price, for four-year degrees).  And this doesn’t even get into the governor’s assumptions that people who have no financial skin in the game for their degrees will actually take their studies seriously and apply themselves and that those who do will stay in the state rather than taking their subsidized degrees to states that actually have healthy economies.

One can only hope that Rhode Islanders aren’t so far gone, at this point, that they fall for the governor’s snake oil sale.


In a Bad Place with the Impolite Trump

Let’s be very, very clear:  As superficially satisfying as many of us on the right may find it, President-elect Trump’s treatment of the CNN reporter at his press conference today wasn’t appropriate.  CNN didn’t exactly sneak into the press conference, and many Americans still use it as a source for information.  Trump’s style may differ, but there are ways for a president to express disapproval without excluding journalists and, in turn, their audiences.

That said, Trump is less likely to receive push-back from his political allies than he should be for two reasons.  First, the double standard of the mainstream media leaves its practitioners deserving of ire.  Here’s a fresh example:  After weeks of hearing how unconscionable it was of Russia to use hacking and other methods to manipulate the American public, Politico reports:

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

If these efforts had worked out and Clinton had been elected, would she be the subject of as much aspersion as Trump has been with respect to Russia?  Not a chance.  That fact leaves conservatives who aren’t comfortable with Trump’s style, views, or policies less likely to echo a media that we find so incredibly un-credible.

But that’s only the first-level problem.  The deeper hindrance is that the mainstream media aided, rather than checked, President Obama when his administration suppressed the Tea Party.  Consequently, we’ve less leverage on our side.  As Glenn Reynolds often writes, the government and media crushed the polite Tea Party; welcome to the impolite consequence.


Senator Reed Gets to the Heart of the Russian Hacking Story

A remark by Democrat Senator Reed in a recent Providence Journal article by Donita Naylor deserves notice and comment:

Three of Rhode Island’s four congressmen have called for a congressional investigation into Russia’s interference with the U.S. election of 2016.

“Our elections should be decided by American citizens, not foreign hackers, heads of state, or their propagandists,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said Friday in reaction to a U.S. intelligence report saying Russia had “actively manipulated” the election.

Reed helpfully gets to the heart of the matter:  Nobody at all is alleging that the election was not decided by American citizens.  At worst, we chose to give credence to information — some false, like “fake news,” but some apparently true, like the Democrat email releases — regardless of the source.

That isn’t a minor distinction, and it’s difficult not to see Reed’s complaint as essentially that elections should be decided by the elites who presume to tell Americans what to believe.


Horwitz Cranks the Left-Wing Noise Machine on WPRO

Steve Klamkin’s WPRO interview with Roger Williams University Law Professor Andrew Horwitz is unbelievable.  Horwitz is a Rhode Island signatory to a “character assassination” letter promoted by a bunch of his peers about President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R, Alabama) as attorney general.

The guy — that is, Professor Horwitz — gave over $5,000 to Rhode Island Democrats between the 2012 and 2016 elections, and to listen to Klamkin’s interview, you’d think he’s either a neutral expert called in to talk about some apolitical topic or a charitable philanthropist who’s organizing for an objectively good cause that Klamkin wants to help him promote.

In reality, the “news” is probably that Horwitz is the typical signer of this letter: not somebody offering a professional assessment, but a political hack.  Glenn Reynolds has it right: “At this point, the Left is mostly just a noise machine.”  The longer it runs, the more people will tune it out, which will be a benefit on the political front, but a detriment when it comes to the news media and even academia.


Not Surprising a Social Justice Warrior Would Bring Students to a Trump Protest

This is hardly surprising:

Central Falls High School math teacher Seth Kolker has independently organized the group [joining the anti-Trump “Women’s March on Washington”]. He did so to help students “channel their fear, anger and confusion” after the election, when they began asking such questions as, “Will I be deported,” or “Are Latinos going to be allowed to go to high school in America anymore?” 

Some might question the propriety of public school teachers’ using their positions of influence with students as a connecting point for political activism, but remember that Central Falls is the school district that is literally hiring social justice Warriors.  Of course, if we were to flip the politics, the Providence Journal would have written a scandal story rather than a celebrate-the-community story.


Obama Scandals and the Standards of Outrage

Debra Heine gives some thought to the repeat-it-until-it’s-true nonsense that the Obama Administration “hasn’t had a scandal”:

This lie was already an insult to the American voter in 2011 with the Dealergate, DOJ Black Panther whitewash, Obamafication of NEA art, Sestak affair, politically expedient IG Gerald Walpin firing, misspent stimulus funds, DOJ’s secret astroturf propaganda unit, Shorebank, oilgate, Blagojevich/Rezko /Obama corruption, Obama’s  unaccountable czars, Fast and Furious, the Gibson Guitar Raid, Pigford, Solyndra and LightSquared scandals already on the books. …

Obama’s second term began with an explosion of them: DOJ spying on the media, IRS, NSA, State Department war on whistleblowers, four EPA scandals, Obamaphones, and the “gag order” at the Department of Energy.

As time went on we saw the VA scandal, Benghazi, massive ObamaCare lies, skewing of ISIS intel, Iran deception and ransom payment, Bowe Bergdahl, the EPA’s polluting of the Colorado River, the GSA scandal, the Secret Service sex scandal, “government shutdown theater,” and of course EmailGate.

What the Obama boosters really mean is that there was no scandal that the news media and political elites were willing to treat as such.  Put simply, there hasn’t been an Obama scandal because, by definition, there could not be.

Now contrast that attitude with the obviously coordinated — up and down the political ladder — hyperventilation over a House GOP rules change making an independent ethics commission less useful as a political weapon (which has been a bipartisan, multiracial complaint).  Like the law, if application of the rules of scandal are applied in a biased way, people will stop respecting the standards.  That’s not good for any of us.  (One might even suggest we’re about to install one consequence in the White House.)


The Missing Point in the Russian Hacking Story

Any way you look at it, this information, if true, is disconcerting:

Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome.

The ebullient reaction among high-ranking Russian officials – including some who U.S. officials believe had knowledge of the country’s cyber campaign to interfere in the U.S. election – contributed to the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow’s efforts were aimed at least in part at helping Trump win the White House.

To some extent, what follows might be considered inflammatory, so I want to preface it with the disclaimer that my intention is to express a feeling.  That feeling may be in need of correction, but acknowledging it would be the first step toward doing that.

I figured out what the missing piece of this whole controversy is for me.  The information about Russian “hacking” is just sort of being thrown out there without a clear “and so.”  Consequently, the effort just seems nakedly political, without a point.  In general, one would expect the point of an opposition-party Congressional inquiry to be the failure of the current administration, whether forgivable or not, to guard against such actions.  Prompted by the executive branch, the point might be to further some policy for a response, as in the build up to war.

But this just seems like a post facto rationalization why something political happened that the people who try to predetermine our electoral outcomes didn’t foresee and to throw mud on the incoming administration.  It’s all just so bizarre, and frankly, unless the Russians did something more like real hacking than releasing true information about the Democrats, it isn’t crazy to feel like they were — albeit by sheer coincidence — more on the side of the American people than those who hold us in such contempt that they think it’s self evidently corrupt when their status as our ruling class is challenged.


Less Influence for RI a Benefit to the Country

Here’s the lede for Paul Edward Parker’s Providence Journal article suggesting that Rhode Island won’t long have two Congressmen in the U.S. House:

Having just one congressman would mean a loss of prestige and clout for the state.

If anybody happens to be putting together a poll at this moment, I’d be interested to know how many Rhode Islanders think this would actually be a good thing for the country.  That’s certainly my opinion.


Agreement That RI Liberals Should Meet People Outside Their Comfort Zone

I had to chuckle at this paragraph from the Providence Journal’s “R.I. business innovators: 11 trailblazers to follow in 2016“:

As the head of the all-girls Lincoln School in Providence, [Suzanne] Fogarty, 48, is making sure her students have not only the skills but the mindset to be nimble in a fast-changing workplace. She is also pushing her students to experience people and places that extend well beyond their comfort zone.

Sadly, the subsequent paragraph makes clear that she’s not talking about having the school’s students meet, interact, and appreciate the points of view of conservatives, whether locally or in other parts of the country.


The United States’ Party of as Religion

Emma Green’s interview in The Atlantic with former Obama faith-outreach director Michael Wear should be read and considered by anybody interested in understanding the political and social field facing the United States just now:

Green: Why is it, do you think, that some liberals—and specifically the Democratic Party—have been unwilling to do outreach to people who hold particular kinds of theological points of view?

Wear: They think, in some ways wrongly, but in other ways rightly, that it would put constraints around their policy agenda. So, for instance: You could make a case to evangelicals while trying to repeal the Hyde Amendment, [which prohibits federal funding for abortion in most circumstances,] but that’s really difficult. …

The second thing is that there’s a religious illiteracy problem in the Democratic Party. It’s tied to the demographics of the country: More 20- and 30-year-olds are taking positions of power in the Democratic Party. They grew up in parts of the country where navigating religion was not important socially and not important to their political careers. …

Another reason why they haven’t reached out to evangelicals in 2016 is that, no matter Clinton’s slogan of “Stronger Together,” we have a politics right now that is based on making enemies, and making people afraid.

I’d suggest that these aren’t disconnected factors, but rather, that they are all tied in with the progressive tendency to deify government.  Echos of this can be found in Daniel Greenfield’s FrontPageMag review at George Soros’s consequences for the Democrat Party (emphasis added):

Leftists used Soros money to focus on their own identity politics obsessions leaving the Dems with little ability to interact with white working class voters. The Ivy and urban leftists who made up the core of the left had come to exist in a narrow world with little room for anything and anyone else.

Soros turned over the Democrats to political fanatics least likely to be able to recognize their own errors.

Wear’s party is having difficulty most of all because its members see other organized religions as competition.


The Political Realities of “Fixing” ObamaCare

Megan McArdle is well worth a read on why Congressional Democrats designed ObamaCare in the flawed way they did and what the consequent political reality means for Republicans’ likely steps for repeal-and-replace.  Both those who would prefer to save the law and those who would prefer to trample it to dust should consider the political reality.

Option One:

For Republicans to fix the system as it stands, they would have to jack up the parts people hate — not to deliver new benefits, but mostly just to keep the existing system from flaming into a tailspin. Only the price tag would now be much higher, for boring technical reasons I’ll leave in a footnote.

Option Two:

Yet repeal and replace now seems almost as unlikely, because it means taking something away from voters — stuff that polls really well, such as, er, prohibiting insurers from looking at pre-existing conditions.

Option Three:

Of course, the last option — doing nothing while the individual market flames into a tailspin — doesn’t look all that hot, either.

McArdle states that she’d probably go with a variation of the third:

I’d announce a blue-ribbon commission designed to study the matter and propose a comprehensive alternative. I’d give it plenty of time to study and make recommendations. Then I’d wait and see if 2017 brings more premium hikes and insurers pulling out of smaller counties — disasters that could then be blamed on Obama…

The key point, here, is that we’re in this situation — with our healthcare system, economically, and politically — because President Obama and his fellow partisans who controlled both chambers of Congress felt they had to, and had the power to, push through something big (as the vice president put in vulgar terms at the time).  But the American people didn’t want what the Democrats were pushing, so a party-line Congress created a system destined to fail and hoped its failure would teach Americans to want the socialized medicine that the party wanted to provide.

November made that possibility so unlikely that McArdle doesn’t even mention it.


Harry Reid Is Another Warning Sign for the Well-Meaning Left

Outgoing top-Democrat in the U.S. Senate Harry Reid of Nevada has long counted as evidence against the mainstream media and supposedly reasonable members of his party, for reasons that Jim Geraghty details here:

Dear friends in the media: you can’t complain about “fake news” and lament the poor ethics, overheated rhetoric, petty partisanship and sheer nastiness of our elected leaders, and then turn around and compare Harry Reid to Yoda. When you do that, you whittle away at the disincentive to do things like tell blatant lies and make baseless accusations about your political enemies.

Yes, it’s awful when Donald Trump does this sort of thing about his rivals. But where do you think Trump would get the idea that he could lie blatantly and suffer no consequential rebuke?

I can’t remember a political point that’s been better or more-quickly proven than the hypocrisy of the Left under Obama.  The whole progressive edifice has been decisively proven to be a power-seeking sham.  That doesn’t mean they won’t be able to reinvigorate their success in fooling a population that pays little attention, but among those who pay attention, once-assumed credibility is gone for many individuals and institutions.

Politics and a culture war can be messy business, so players will make judgment calls in any given situation, but at some point, it has to be evident that principle ultimately overcomes power or else people will rightly judge you by your actions, not your stated intentions.


An Opportunity for Secularists to Recognize How Far They’ve Leaned

Even non-Catholic Rhode Islanders, particularly those of progressive bent, should carefully read this recent editorial from The Rhode Island Catholic:

What happens now [following the national election] is the continued battle between good and evil. God’s people must not discount the work of Satan in our world, who will be working full time to stop the progress of God’s will. If the administration-elect, in conjunction with the support of Congress, achieves even a few of their stated objectives, the devil will not be pleased. He will fight against the pro-life movement. He will fight against the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which stifles the voice of the Church in the public square. He will fight against religious liberties. He will fight against the appointment of constitutional Supreme Court justices. Like a dog backed into a corner, he will turn on the good even more viciously and seek any opportunity to exacerbate the divide among the people. As long as the devil is fighting, the faithful must stay vigilant as they continue to pray and support those who were raised up.

I hope non-radical liberals in Rhode Island understand how important this paragraph is.  As a local conservative and Catholic who has periodically had difficulty publishing in the paper, I can say that The Rhode Island Catholic is by no means a right-wing publication.

Some quick googler may prove me wrong in some degree, but my impression as a reader is that the conclusions of this editorial have been a long time building, not only at the paper, but in the Catholic-community context that informs and influences its editors.  Under Obama, nationally, and Chafee-Raimondo, statewide, even people who are relatively moderate religious believers feel under attack, and for good reason.

As a matter of practical analysis, this editorial could be put among the evidence behind Donald Trump’s electoral victory, indicating yet another factor that contributed to his upset victory.  But moderates and liberals should look past the political calculation and recognize the extremity toward which they’d been leaning, away from their neighbors.


Education Outside of the Progressive Bubble

Education policy is certainly an area in which the establishment Left has been giving greater insight into its true beliefs, lately.  Maybe it’s the shock of following eight years in which the White House floated within the progressive bubble with the sharp prick of its exit under Donald Trump.  Here’s Frederick Hess, writing on National Review Online:

Within days of [Betsy] DeVos’s nomination [for education secretary], the Washington Post ran an op-ed by Columbia University professor Aaron Pallas that included this: “I’ve been joking that Ben Carson’s – Trump’s pick to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – primary qualification is that he grew up in a house. But Betsy DeVos attended private schools and sent her children to them. Her qualification to be Secretary of Education? She doesn’t even have that going for her.”

In a December New Yorker story titled “Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools,” columnist Rebecca Mead lamented that DeVos graduated from Holland Christian High School, “which characterizes its mission thus: ‘to equip minds and nurture hearts to transform the world for Jesus Christ.’” The horror of it all. Apparently, the 5.4 million students enrolled in 33,000 private schools have no standing at the U.S. Department of Education, parents (like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) who send their children to private schools have no standing in education policy, and graduates from religious schools are to be regarded with suspicion.

Education, to these people, is not about informing children; it’s about maintaining a near monopoly for labor unions and an industry for bureaucrats.  Perhaps more centrally, though, its mission is to shape children, and shape them according to the progressive worldview.  Allowing more than a sliver of well-heeled students to be shaped according to the religious views of their parents is, to progressives, heresy.

They know they need the free run of 12-20 years of indoctrination for their delusional, emotion-driven beliefs to stand up against reality when students exit to the real world.  (Of course, it helps if they can then keep the dependency going with corporate and social welfare and other programs, like loan forgiveness.)


Rhode Island-Style Economic Development’s Inevitable Failure

Put aside any partisan — or individual-politician — loyalty.  Clark Judge offers a valuable lesson for Rhode Island in his recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Rust Belt Is Right to Blame Obama“:

First, and no surprise here: From 2010-15 regulatory risk jumped—an average increase across all industries of 79%.

Second, and more surprising: As regulatory risk climbed, annual capital expenditures fell, a total drop of nearly $32 billion when comparing 2010 to 2015. This negative relationship was strong across the board, but it was statistically tightest for “industrials” (heavy manufacturing plus railroads and airlines).

Third, as regulatory risks grew and capital expenditures shrank, major corporations also cut jobs by more than 1.1 million. Among the biggest losers were heavy manufacturing, airlines, railroads, information technology and consumer products—America’s industrial core.

Fourth, while the business of making things and moving them to market was eroding, the value of gaming the government increased. The Vogel and Hood team constructed two trial portfolios composed solely of companies that ranked high in lobbying strength. From 2010-16 these portfolios outperformed the S&P 500 by 22% and 27%.

In short, with the expanded reach of regulation (as well as the increased propensity to continue that expansion), companies stop investing in their businesses, both their capital and their labor, and focus attention increasingly on getting government to help them out.  This has obvious benefits for elected and appointed government officials, and it has benefits for established companies that game the government in a way that hobbles their competition.  But it hurts everybody else, from entrepreneurs to workers, and leads to inevitable decline.

This dynamic covers regulation, taxation, and even the Raimondo-esque corporate welfare programs that compensate politically favored companies for the inconvenience of doing business here, and it’s an across-the-board failure.  Not only are more-innovative companies washed out, but the companies that survive produce less and innovate less, because they’re focused too much on redistribution.

Forcing our elected officials to get us off this one-wheeled bandwagon — focusing instead on family prosperity — should be Rhode Islanders’ resolution for the new year.


A Reminder After Attempt to Hijack Electoral College Fails

The electoral college vote has come and gone, with no civil-war-inspiring insurrection, but we shouldn’t forget how the Left handled itself during this period, as John Sexton wrote before the vote:

This harassment campaign has been going on for weeks. I first wrote about it a month ago and it seems to have only gotten worse as Democrats get more desperate. Progressives concerned about violating Democratic norms ought to be asked about tens of thousands of harassing calls, letters and emails—some of them threatening—being sent to GOP electors. Is that how we do things in this country?

The curiously well-coordinated campaign has come to nothing, but we must remember, as candidate Barack Obama once said, “We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. They will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks and months to come.”

Sadly, I don’t think the Left will learn.  Aided by a sympathetic news media, they will stoke their own frustrations and expand their harassment, continuing to stoke the violence that has led to the killing of police officers and aided in the radicalization of Islamic radicals.  In places like Rhode Island, where they feel sufficiently comfortable to speak their minds, they’ll continue demonizing their neighbors as “white supremacists” for living in the suburbs.

In turn, the violence will expand.

I fear we’re at the beginning, not the end, and to the extent that the new administration manages to take the progressive ropes off of our economy and Americans’ circumstances improve, the Left will only become more panicked.


Political Perspective for Rhode Island

This VividMaps image of counties that broke for Hillary Clinton really puts the results — especially the declarations that Clinton won the popular vote — in perspective (via John Cardillo):


There we are on New England Island, around a much larger bay and not far from Springfield Lake.  Isn’t that worth a little bit of reflection as to how we handle politics around here?


Convenient, Predictable Story of the Year

You know, when the story you pick as the top one for the whole year just happens to coincide with one national party’s talking-point needs of the moment in December, you don’t do the credibility of your review any favors: 

The pounding taken by fact and truth in public life from the rise of fake news and propaganda is the 2016 National Story of the Year, according to the Pell Center at Salve Regina University.”The Story of the Year identifies the most important narrative to emerge in public life in the previous 12 months,” said G. Wayne Miller, a Providence Journal reporter, visiting fellow at the Pell Center, and director of the Story in the Public Square initiative.

Sorry, but that’s a joke, made LOL funny by this amazing coincidence with the standalone running gag that is PolitiFarce:

“Because of its powerful symbolism in an election year filled with rampant and outrageous lying – PolitiFact is naming Fake News the 2016 ‘winner,'” they added.

Others would be defensible, but in my opinion, the national story of the year was Hillary Clinton’s email fiasco, both on its own merits and for generating additional stories and even dovetailing with the whole “fake news” thing. Unfortunately, partisan organizations like most mainstream news productions and universities couldn’t pick a story that reminds people of the corrupt core that gives all of the other stories weight and plausibility.