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Anybody Buying the UHIP Spin?

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.

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How the Media Will Help Trump Get Away with Things

Even while reporting a correction in the Washington Post to a bit of fake news from the mainstream media that had (and probably still has) broad currency around the country, Jackson Diehl can’t help but push blame onto the Trump administration:

One thing Trump has decidedly not done, however, is downgrade the participation of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the deliberations of the National Security Council. You may have heard and read otherwise, repeatedly. Therein lies an illustration of how communication between the executive and mainstream media, and with it coverage of the Trump administration, has already come unhinged.

So a hostile media blames the administration for the media’s own inability to do its job while hopped up on hatred of said administration.  Instead, we get loud blasts of outrage and scandal over every little change or misstatement that members of the administration make, walked back or corrected in quieter, easier-to-miss follow-up stories.

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Support for Lots of Immigration, Not Necessarily Altruistic

Funny how moral principle in politics seems so often to align with self interest.  Here’s Byron York in the Washington Examiner:

Why is Washington State mounting such a vigorous challenge to President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending non-American entry from seven terrorism-plagued countries? Of course there are several lawsuits against the president, and there are lots of motives among the various litigants. But Washington State’s is the suit that stopped the order, at least temporarily. And a look at the state’s case suggests that, behind high-minded rhetoric about religious liberty and constitutional protections, there is a lot of money at stake.

Judging by the briefs filed by Washington State, as well as statements made by its representatives, some of the state’s top priorities in challenging Trump are: 1) To ensure an uninterrupted supply of relatively low-wage H-1B foreign workers for Microsoft and other state businesses; 2) To ensure a continuing flow of high-tuition-paying foreign student visa holders; and 3) To preserve the flow of tax revenues that results from those and other sources.

And don’t forget Medicaid, SNAP, public education, and other federally subsidized welfare programs available to legal and (probably) illegal immigrants on the government plantation.

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Scoffing at Trump for his Ethical Approach

I’ve seen variations of this comment, captured here in a Wall Street Journal article by Jess Bravin, in multiple places:

“If Trump is hoping that Judge Gorsuch will be a rubber stamp for the Trump administration, he is woefully misguided,” said former clerk Jason Murray, a Denver attorney who later clerked for Justice Elena Kagan.

The president’s expressed preference for pulling back restrictions on church leaders’ ability to make political statements has raised similarly cynical responses.  In a tweet that flitted through my stream, somebody suggested that Trump should be careful what he wishes for because many churches would use their new latitude against him.

As such thoughts pile up, even people who dislike President Trump should start asking themselves how many actions he has to take that could arguably constrain him politically in the future before they reevaluate their assumptions.  I’m not saying that this is my solid assessment, right now, but maybe Trump is doing things that he believes are right (or perhaps that some among his allies believe are right) without regard to their political consequence for him.

Somehow, I suspect we learn more about the people who make such comments (and the media that promotes them) than we do about President Trump when they scoff at his actions because they think he doesn’t realize the political implications.  They seem to be implying that they, themselves, would not do the right thing if it looked likely to have political ramifications for them.

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Wanting Government Restrictions on Others’ Behalf

As far as arguments against a policy go, points like this are terrible: 

While some conservative Christians would like to see the rule [against religious organizations’ involvement in politics] abolished, others, especially the younger generation, support a clear separation of church and political endorsements. Many liberal churches are also active on policy issues, and could potentially get more involved in partisan politics.

Mayer noted that for some religious leaders, the IRS rule has given them a way to avoid political pressure for an endorsement.

“Now a church that wants to say no has an easy answer, it’s illegal,” Mayer said.

Really?  Those tasked with promoting and explaining a religion are timid about explaining why they might not want to endorse anybody, or even a particular candidate?  Nobody will be forced to express an opinion.  I suspect it’s more the truth that they don’t feel comfortable with it themselves and wish to restrain others from what they see as an unfair advantage.

Perhaps, too, those who object tend to be of the sort who are entirely on the same page as the secular culture, so they know their political work will get done, making it worth taking a slight hit in order to impede others whose Churches play a role to the secular culture.

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A Deliberate Spectrum of Protest, from Riots Up

Overall, a Wall Street Journal article by Peter Nicholas and Carol Lee doesn’t exactly paint the picture of a White House in disarray, but rather of an ambitious president mixing things up and having to make adjustments in the process.  Those are very different stories, mostly of interest to those addicted to political news.

The more broadly significant, in my view, is this passage:

[Randy Bryce, political director of the local ironworkers union,]  learned through labor contacts the Secret Service had done a security check at a Harley factory in Menomonee Falls, Wis. He began organizing car pools and buses to bring demonstrators to the middle-class suburb in heavily Republican Waukesha County. Also, “we put up phone numbers for the [Harley] public-relations department and pretty much anybody we could get hold of,” Mr. Bryce said.

At Harley, which never acknowledged Mr. Trump planned a visit, executives became nervous about demonstrators, said a person familiar with their thinking. As word spread of the mounting protest, Mr. Trump’s appearance was canceled—at whose behest neither side has said.

Let’s stipulate that the labor union was planning a more-or-less standard union protest, maybe with some tense moments, but generally with a sense of control.  Even controlled protests, however, are now happening in an environment of potential riots, as seen at the University of California in Berkeley.

The first layer of threat against a company that takes the unextraordinary step of welcoming the President of the United States is that it will face organized boycotts and vitriol on social media.  If that isn’t sufficient, progressives have ensured a looming threat of property destruction, too.

Somehow, I don’t see this having the long-term effect that the activists want, but we’ll see.

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Ah, the General Assembly’s Legislative Grant Program

Here’s a telling little tidbit that slipped through the strainer of Tiverton politics, from a not-online Newport Daily News article by Marcia Pobzeznik on January 30.

Town Council Member John Edwards the Fifth (son of Democrat State Representative John Edwards the Fourth) appears quietly to have planned a beach bonfire for Christmas trees, which left his fellow council members feeling like “the Town Council was the last to know,” per councilor Denise DeMedeiros.  They finally found out when they were called to a special meeting to decide whether to cancel the event because of gusty winds.

Here’s the telling part that makes the anecdote of statewide interest:

Firefighters and a fire engine would have been required at the beach, deMedeiros said, along with a police detail for crowd control.  She asked Edwards if he had considered the costs.

A legislative grant would take care of the costs of the firefighters and the police detail, said Edwards, son of Rep. John “Jay” Edwards, D-Tiverton.

There is no such grant on the House’s list, although it’s dated only through October 1.  The Senate’s list is more up to date and has some grants for Tiverton, but whether or not they’re associated isn’t possible to tell.

Think of the process, here, especially involving the son of the legislator who successfully pushed legislation to make it more difficult for individuals to participate in local politics, creating hurdles for them to jump in the name of “transparency.”  A Town Council member almost pulled off a public event involving town property and the use of town employees without the knowledge of at least some of his fellow councilors, and the whole thing was supposedly going to be funded through a General Assembly handout that, likewise, nobody else had any idea about.

Obviously, given the lack of transparency, there’s no way to know whether this is relevant, but as I’ve written before, the state Ethics Commission would find no problem with a member of the General Assembly pushing to use state taxpayer money to fund a politically helpful event secretly orchestrated by his son because everybody involved is acting in official government capacity.

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Political Football

Trump wins again.

On the largest sports and media stage in the world, several news outlets somehow got it into their heads that Brady’s sole responsibility wasn’t to concentrate on football and lead his team to a fifth Super Bowl title. No, he also had a moral responsibility to denounce his friend and golfing buddy, Donald Trump.

In their attempts to put Brady and the team on notice about their problematic friendship, the media somehow managed to convert former Patriots haters into fans. Because while few institutions are more hate-able than the Patriots, the media is definitely one of those institutions.

Obviously, we New Englanders don’t hate the Pats and it’s not our fault the rest of the country – or the NFL offices – can’t handle their success (but those of us who grew up as Yankee-haters do sorta get it!).

That being said, the week leading up to the Superbowl saw Brady, Belichick and Kraft join the ranks of other celebrities who have fallen afoul of the media moralizers.  “Spineless Feminist” Taylor Swift came in for criticism when she didn’t attend the Women’s March on Washington.  Fellow Diva Lady Gaga has now fallen afoul of the Progressive Prudes for not properly politicizing her Superbowl Halftime show. “[I]t’s disheartening to watch someone with so much heart (and guts and spleen) stare down a moment of this magnitude and blink.Twitter was full of lefty media types gloating over the Pats performance and correlating the blowout to their support for Trump.  Karma or something.  But then at least some of those tweets got deleted once the Pats won.

Here’s hoping things calm down soon. I don’t think we can take this amped up environment that politicizes everything.  Can we?

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Political Omissions in Worcester Story

For some reason the Providence Journal ran a minor story on a Worcester, Massachusetts, political incident.  In doing so, however, the paper spotlights a curious… let’s say… tic of the mainstream media:

Mayor Joseph M. Petty is now apologizing for remarks he made that, unbeknownst to him, were picked up by an open microphone at the beginning of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

The remarks were unflattering observations about some of protesters attending the meeting. Earlier, there was a rally at City Hall attended by people unhappy with President Donald J. Trump’s immigration policy.

Funny — Don’t you think? — that the article doesn’t mention that Petty is a Democrat and the main voice speaking out against him, Michael T. Gaffney, although in a non-partisan seat, has been backed by Republicans.  Why do you suppose that is?  How do you suppose the reporting might have been different if it were a Republican mayor badmouthing a Tea Party group?

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And the Fake News Goes On and On

It looks like John Nolte has found a source of job security at The Daily Wire:

The original plan was to compile a list of the national media’s Fake News only as needed — but no more often than once a week. Unfortunately, our MSM has done so much lying in the last 5 days, I started to worry that I could lose track. Simply put, the last few days have been a fire hose of Fake News. Read everything below, and then try to make an argument that Steve Bannon isn’t 100% correct about the national media being the opposition party.

Locally, our ostensibly state-concerned major daily, The Providence Journal, has become like an anti-Trump pamphlet, not only in the wire stories it reprints, but also in the stories its own journalists pursue.  In doing so, the Projo is aiding local politicians in their strategy of putting Trump front and center as the latest reason Rhode Islanders shouldn’t look to closely at the mess our elected officials are making of the state.  Meanwhile, my impression mistaken, but it has seemed like the end of the anti-DePetro boycott of WPRO has caused a swing in the other direction, moving the station closer to being a platform for established interests.

We really need to develop a counter-balancing media environment.

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Moira Walsh: Crash-and-Burn? Or Shooting Star?

Walsh successfully ran for and won a RI House seat and subsequently received a glowing write up in The Atlantic for her waitress-fights-the-power story in which she detailed her single-mother, working-mom, working-class blues and activism as a union organizer. Honestly, she is a Progressive’s dream.

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Pundits Looking for Elusive Footing of Normalcy

Like everybody else who follows policy and politics, I’m still trying to figure out how to interpret the Trump administration.  I have to say, though, that I think a lot of established pundits on my side of the ideological field are getting something very wrong.  Here’s Jonah Goldberg, for example, writing about Trump’s executive order related to refugees:

If Trump had given agency professionals 30 days to review his order on refugees, he could have avoided the confusion at airports, not to mention the media hysteria and the protests. And if his communications team had been given time, they could have preempted some of the wild claims made by Democratic detractors.

I don’t believe this is accurate. If word of the deliberation had leaked — or if the policy had been discussed openly — we’d have had the same reaction, but without its being rooted to an actual order.  Opponents would have been able to warn of even more extreme possibilities, and moderation in the course of developing the policy would have been presented as hiding true, evil intentions, rather than error.

Then there’s John Podhoretz, talking during a Commentary podcast on Ricochet.  He warns that President Trump’s style and speed is galvanizing the Left, worrying, for instance, that no Democrats will be able to vote for Trump nominees, and the president won’t be able to peel Congressional Democrats away from their party for his policy initiatives.

Democrats may take that approach, but I’m not so sure it’s something that should frighten Republicans.  From where I stand in Rhode Island, waching the Far Left push the U.S. Senate’s most outrageous lefty, Sheldon Whitehouse, to be even more unreasonable, I don’t see how this can possibly be a majority-winner, especially this far out from an election

It seems like even conservative pundits want normality to apply in some way, but Obama, his party, and the news media have proven that the state of affairs we used to see as normality was just an illusion that served progressives’ ends.

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Governor Pitches Free College at High School 98% Not Proficient in Math

Ian Donnis of Rhode Island Public Radio noted, yesterday, that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo continues her inappropriate exploitation of government schools’ access to young Rhode Islanders for political purposes today.

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At Central Falls High School, a jaw-dropping 98% of students are not proficient in math and 93% are not proficient in reading, and Gina Raimondo is going there to pitch taking money from taxpayers to give away two years of free-to-students college.  She should be embarrassed, and if the public were adequately informed, she would meet an enraged auditorium rather than a laudatory one.

Will any journalists ask her about the apparent disconnect?

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Sleazy Raimondo Political Pitches to Under-Prepared Students Continue

Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo brought her gross pitching-politics-to-public-schoolers road show to Johnston Senior High School this week:

Gov. Gina Raimondo is out on the campaign trail, taking her pitch to high schools.

“You go from kindergarten to twelfth grade with public education. Why should it stop at twelfth grade?” Raimondo asked an auditorium of students at Johnston High School on Tuesday.

Afterward, she told reporters it is indeed a campaign to rally support for her plan to offer two free years of college tuition to Rhode Island high school graduates.

One wonders whether she believes it’s a positive or negative that the school has left her audience poorly equipped to assess the wisdom of her proposal.  More than 82% of Johnston Senior High School students are not proficient in math, and two-thirds miss the mark in reading.

Sadly, it isn’t clear that Rhode Island adults are very proficient in government ethics and simple good political taste.  Whether or not the governor’s political visits to government-run schools violate any campaign finance or ethics laws, this whole campaign is just unseemly.  The governor is using public schools to lobby our children on a politically charged policy proposal.  Just… yuck.

Shame on the school districts for allowing her to take advantage of their access like this, and shame on the parents for taking the abuse quietly.

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The Start of a Trail of Revelations About Obama Administration Deception

Surprise, surprise.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration used bad data to justify a policy attack on for-profit colleges:

In early January the department disclosed that it had discovered a “coding error” that incorrectly computed College Scorecard repayment rates—that is, the percentage of borrowers who haven’t defaulted and have repaid at least one dollar of their loan principal. The department says the error “led to the undercounting of some borrowers who had not reduced their loan balances by at least one dollar.”

The department played down the mistake, but the new average three-year repayment rate has declined by 20 percentage points to 46%.

Oops!  On the pretext of this information, the Obama administration forced only for-profit colleges to put warning notices on all of their promotional materials, while…

When proposing the regulation, the department claimed that its analysis of Scorecard data showed that a large number of for-profits have repayment rates below 50% while very few public or nonprofit schools do. The department said it would not be fair to “burden” public and nonprofit colleges with a regulation that would apply to so few. Yet based on the updated data, 60% of two-year public colleges and nearly all historically black institutions have repayment rates below 50%.

So was the bad data “alternative facts” or “fake news”?  Ah, never mind.  President Trump insists more people watched his inauguration than probably did.  That’s what’s important.

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We Should Want to Know What Elected Officials Really Think

Well, touché, Liberty RI!

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Considering whether to post this, I ultimately decided to do so partly for a chuckle, yes, but mostly to make the point that we shouldn’t want people in public office — particularly at the local and state levels — to feel as if every statement they make anywhere must be guarded and reviewed by a political consultant.

There’s no room for trust in a system in which there’s no chance people who disagree with you will tell you what they’re really thinking.  We can interact as human beings with whom we disagree when we give people some space for the slips of candor, but not when they can’t act like human beings.

Moreover, it’s to our benefit to know where people are coming from.  Along with the pervasive anti-man sentiment with which Representative Walsh peppers her Facebook posts are the outlines of an ideology.  Consider:

Yeah I’m single…but only because I can’t find a man who’s willing to spend all his free time lighting the fires of revolution that will burn capitalism to the ground.

Rhode Islanders looking for some understanding of legislators’ mindsets couldn’t find much better insight into at least one of them.  Walsh’s worldview appears to be that men are evil and that our electoral system (including the Electoral College) and economic system (capitalism) were explicitly designed to keep women down.  (Her appearance, today, on WPRO with Tara Granahan doesn’t do much, if anything, to mitigate this impression.)

I don’t see any dry land of sanity from which to begin arguing with an elected official who holds that view, but it’s definitely valuable to be aware of it.  It’s also valuable to have a system in which people who are willing to speak their minds don’t immediately dismiss the possibility of running for office.

By all means, respond to Sean Todd or Moira Walsh in public or in private, but I think we’ll find that running society on Outrage all the time lands us in a ditch.

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The Ideological MSM: Puff Pieces Versus Hit Jobs

Can we take a moment, during lunchtime to state the obvious for the benefit of those who might not see it?  If this article by Providence Journal reporter Kathy Gregg had been about a conservative grassroots movement, it would have been very different:

Groups locally and nationally are seeking to capitalize on the amalgam of energy, anger and fear that sent men and women by the thousands via car, bus, train and plane to Washington, D.C., and their home-state capitals to “make [their] voices heard.”

“Amalgam”?  If the politics were flipped, dark insinuations about funding would have played a major role in setting the tone.  As it is, Gregg doesn’t mention funding once.  A conservative-related article would also have included clearly dismissive statements attempting to make the whole thing seem like a partisan charade for the GOP.  In this case, Gregg doesn’t even bother to label far-left state Representative Aaron Regunberg as a Democrat.  The journalist would also have raised questions about how the talk of “love” and “tolerance” jibs with the vulgar and aggressive signs some were carrying.

But front and center would probably have been incidents at similar events across the country, like:

  • The man who hit a female conservative reporter in Canada.
  • The men who took signs from female pro-life marchers and mocked them while ripping them up.
  • The woman who lit a pro-Trump woman’s hair on fire in D.C.

The blatant double standard of discrediting people with whom journalists disagree, ideologically, while covering up for those who share their ideology is why people on the right don’t trust the news media.

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