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Evergreen Contracts One Positive of Special Session

As Ted Nesi reminds us in his weekend roundup, the legislation making municipal labor contracts, including those for teachers, essentially permanent until renegotiated did not overcome Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s veto at this week’s special session of the General Assembly:

The issue has become a game of chicken between the two chambers, with the Senate saying the House needs to vote first because Raimondo vetoed a House bill, but the House saying the Senate first needs to pass its own version and get that vetoed, too. …  a Senate spokesman reiterated that there will be no override unless the House votes. A House spokesman declined to comment, but there’s little indication Speaker Mattiello is inclined to call a vote.

That’s pretty obviously a pair of thin excuses to do the right thing in the face of labor union pressure, but hey, we’ll take it.  The lingering question — as with so much legislation that works its way into law — is why our representatives and senators would pass such horrible legislation to begin with.

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RhodeWorks Signs Bring More Censure from Feds

Rhode Islanders who follow the news can’t help but begin wondering how many times the federal government will have to send letters of complaint against our corrupt and inept state government.  The Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) is obviously the giant archetype of the problem, but even those blue RhodeWorks signs promoting Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo are an illustration.  Here’s Patrick Anderson in the Providence Journal:

The Federal Highway Administration has found the hundreds of signs scattered over roads and bridges are “not in compliance” with federal traffic regulations, Carlos Machado, Federal Highway’s administrator for Rhode Island, said Wednesday. …

Nancy Singer, a Federal Highway spokeswoman, provided The Journal with the federal regulation at issue in Rhode Island, which does not allow “promotional or other informational signs regarding such matters as identification of public officials, contractors, organizational affiliations, and related logos and symbols.”

Also of interest is that the signs cost an extra $100 each to make and install, bringing the total to $52,000, because the original estimate didn’t include labor costs.  Unionized state employees are both making and installing the signs.

Recall, in this context, that Raimondo’s Director of the Department of Transportation, Peter Alviti, was previously an employee of the Laborers’ International Union (LiUNA).  Shortly after his hiring, Alviti scuttled a hiring plan that called for the state to bring in more design and development employees, as recommended by an expensive outside analysis, and instead hired more laborers.  One effect of the change was that the new hires shifted from a different union to LiUNA.

Recall, also, that Alviti brought some tasks in-house, like road striping, claiming that having more union members on the payroll year round would be less expensive than hiring outside vendors for the part-year work.

Now we are reminded that the DOT has been finding work for its employees making overly political signs for the governor.  At what point does the federal government stop the cease and desist letters and send in the investigators?

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State House Report with John DePetro, No. 26: Resurrected Legislation and the Ghost of Failures Past

For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WADK 1540 AM show, last week, the topics were the likelihood of an evergreen veto override, whether the DCYF would haunt Gina, PawSox, DACA, and Rhode Works transparency.

Open post for full audio.

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The Promotion of a Governor, Q.E.D.

How out of control is Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s use of government for self promotion?  So out of control that somebody appears to have leaked an internal email to the Providence Journal that puts the cherry on top of my observation, yesterday, that the whole state government has turned toward narrative-building and the promotion of the governor:

Raimondo’s communications director, Mike Raia, spelled out the plan to all of the public-relations folk in the executive branch in an email earlier this month, which has since been obtained by The Journal, with the subject line: “October 2: #1000DaysOfProgress — Comms Planning.”

Reading like a campaign flier for Democrat Raimondo, who is expected to seek reelection next year, Raia’s email read, in part: “October 2, 2017 marks Governor Raimondo’s 1,000th day in office. In those 1,000 days, Rhode Island has built some incredible momentum and our state has made a lot of progress….”

But wait, there’s more!

“In addition to the Governor’s events, we are asking every Cabinet member to plan at least one event highlighting a specific and tangible accomplishment from these 1,000 days. Please copy and complete the form below with two suggestions, including locations, for your agency and send it … no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, September 8. Our office will provide final guidance on events by Friday, September 15 to ensure that we have adequate coverage across the entire state.”

Apparently, it’s not enough simply to do the people’s business, in Rhode Island.  UHIP is still a disaster; the DCYF is still in disarray; the budgeting and revenue offices have to figure out how to address a massive deficit upcoming; and on and on.  One might wonder whether a state government that surprises people when it does something right has the spare capacity to be choreographing PR blitzes, but all those PR folks have to do something.

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When Government Becomes a PR Machine

Gary Sasse asks an interesting question on Twitter regarding Kathy Gregg’s Providence Journal article about the expanding PR corps in state government:

Does the proliferation of PR folks reflect a lack of trust that civil servants can be trusted to deliver the Governor’s spin?

Although Sasse is on to something, his question is targeted a little below the critical development.  The entire nature of government information distribution has changed under Governor Gina Raimondo.  We can see this in minor controversies, like her use of unknown numbers of blue Rhode Works signs to promote her name… and efforts to hide the costs of doing so.  And as Gregg notes, we can see it in the fact that the state employees who are actually doing stuff, and are therefore better positioned to explain that stuff, are harder to reach, more often redirecting questions through the spin apparatus.

Maybe most notably, we can see the change in the behavior of department heads.  Stefan Pryor has turned the Commerce Corp. into an elaborate Raimondo promotion vehicle, and watching him talk in hearings or in interviews proves him indistinguishable from a PR flack.

Education Commissioner Ken Wagner wasn’t quite that bad on a recent Newsmakers but was notably more reliant on catch phrases and talking points, whereas his predecessors engaged much more in genuine-seeming conversation during such appearances.  Deborah Gist, for example, always gave the impression of “I know what you’re asking, and I’m going to answer your question to the best of my ability.”  Wagner’s impression is more like “I know what you’re asking, but I’m going to pretend that I don’t, or that these fancy phrases actually answer your question.”  (I’ll probably have more to say on this for my Last Impressions podcast, Friday.)

Basically, it used to be that the PR folks were the professionals tasked with conveying the thoughts and intentions of elected and appointed officials and doing a little bit to promote government initiatives, while the other professionals were there to do and explain their work.  The big change under Raimondo is that she’s attempting to steer the whole ship of state toward the task of marketing.

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State House Report with John DePetro, No. 24 and 25: Voter Fraud, Pawsox, Dreamers, and DACA

I neglected to post my August 30th appearance on John DePetro’s WADK 1540 AM show, so this week, you get twice the audio.

On August 30, the topics were Elorza’s Dreamers, Pawsox, and District 13 follow up. On September 6, the topics were official silence on Ken Block’s voter fraud report, the start of the Senate’s PawSox road show, and local response to the DACA.

Open post for full audio of both episodes.

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Gorbea’s Inappropriate Press Release

Politics in America have taken on a strange tone in recent years, amped up by the election of Donald Trump as president.  This is particularly notable in discussions of election integrity, both in the notion that Russians interfered in our national election and in different views on the significance of voter fraud.

Today, Rhode Islander Ken Block presented findings of his voter roll review to the president’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.*  Among other things, in that presentation, Block highlights that “30.7% of 2016 votes in Rhode Island were cast by voters with no identifying information in voter registration database.”  He doesn’t allege that those voters are doing anything wrong, but does insist, “It is vitally important to know how many voters in each state cannot be identified by their data.”

In a press release that is clearly more of a political document than an informative one, Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea mischaracterizes this presentation in a strange way:

Today the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity met in New Hampshire. Part of their presentation included the erroneous claim that 30 percent of Rhode Island voters in 2016 are somehow illegitimate or not verified. …

In short, these voters are your friends, your family, and your neighbors. If you registered to vote in Rhode Island before 2002, these voters likely include you. Allowing unsubstantiated claims to influence our public policy can lead to real consequences and the exclusion of legitimate voters.

Gorbea is speaking out about claims that nobody is making and, in doing so, sidesteps the important question of whether Block’s findings are correct and a legitimate cause of concern.  Note, for illustration, that apart from mischaracterizing his claims, she unprofessionally declines to name Ken Block, attributing his statements to the commission, and attempts to make voters take this as an attack on them.

Obviously, folks are behaving with political motivation on both sides of these matters, but more and more, I find myself wishing that everybody involved, especially officials elected to do a job representing all of us, would let some opportunities for political jabs pass by in order to provide the public with a fair and reasonable understanding of what is actually going on.

* Memo to the editors of the Providence Journal: That is actually the proper name of the commission, as formed by the President of the United States.  Putting quotation marks around the whole title or (especially) just the “election integrity” part is unnecessary grammatically and inappropriate as journalistic practice, illustrating yet again your newspaper’s bias.

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So Much for That “No Evidence of Vote Fraud” Thing

Well, this sure is interesting:

Over 6,000 voters in New Hampshire had used same-day voter registration procedures to register and vote simultaneously for president. The current New Hampshire speaker of the House, Shawn Jasper, sought and obtained data about what happened to these 6,000 “new” New Hampshire voters who showed up on Election Day. It seems the overwhelming majority of them can no longer be found in New Hampshire.

That was enough to give Hillary Clinton the state.  She didn’t win, obviously, but the margin could have given the Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate the victory, as Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach points out. (Imagine, too, if a similar report were to come out showing that fraud could have given President Trump Wisconsin.)

If you’ve been paying attention, J. Christian Adams’s PJ Media article quoted above fits perfectly with the early-2016 sting by video journalist James O’Keefe.  Note, in particular Chuck Ross’s description of O’Keefe’s video for the Daily Caller:

“Like, I think in many ways New Hampshire is incredibly proud of their first in the nation primary, and for that reason they make all of these really lax laws, surrounding voting, so people can, like, take advantage of it,” Waterman tells a PVA journalist.

“Why doesn’t just every volunteer, like, ever in the office, just…,” the journalist begins to ask.

“I think they all have honestly,” says Waterman. “And like, all of our paid canvassers have done it. It’s very, very easy.”

“It almost seems like…it’s better to have people from out of state. Because they can do that and it’s like more votes,” the journalist says.

The poll workers whom O’Keefe filmed talk about using other people’s addresses, even the office building in which they were talking.  That starts to sound like the alarm that Ken Block has been sounding in recent months, here in Rhode Island.

It’s scandalous that Rhode Island politicians, including the Secretary of State, get away with brushing these concerns aside.

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“Principles” Do Seem to Have Selective Application

I wouldn’t 100% endorse Kurt Schlichter’s criticism of national Republicans, but he articulates a feeling that a great number of conservatives around the country surely share:

Yeah, so after nearly two years of tiresome finger-wagging about “the Rule of Law” and how we need to put our “principles” above our desire for “winning,” the whole sordid scam we always knew it always was is revealed for the world to see. They can’t hide it anymore and they aren’t even trying. Their glorious “conservative principles” aren’t principles at all but a skeevy ploy designed to tie our hands and keep us from pursuing policy goals our establishment coalition partners disfavor. They want open borders. They want illegals. They want cheap foreign labor that doesn’t get uppity to man their donors’ corporations so the Captains of Crony Capitalism don’t have to fuss with American workers who won’t tolerate being treated like chattel. Yeah, “we’re better than that” all right – if you mean that we are better than enforcing the laws the American people passed through a constitutional process if the ruling class decides it doesn’t like them.

One aspect that Schlichter leaves out is the role that the national Democrats are playing by being so radical.  In the absence of a plausible alternative for either party, the power of voters loses out in the balance against the power of moneyed special interests.

Whatever the case, this isn’t a healthy development.

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Ideological Loyalty Oaths and Professions of Faith in California

Mary Rezac reports for the Catholic News Agency (CNA) that California is considering legislation that would make it a crime for “nursing home and long-term care workers” to refuse to use the preferred pronouns of people under their care.  Employees could face up to $1,000 in fines and a year in jail.

Fortunately, those who disagree with progressives have (relatively) solid protection of their rights through the Constitution and its amendments, but we should certainly be concerned that politicians are disinclined to allow us to work out our own relationships.

Organizations have incentive to please their customers, and there’s space for them to serve different markets.  They also have incentive to keep their employees happy.  The instances in which a long-term care patient would have no other options and the organization would be unable to provide some distance between a customer and an employee who have an irreconcilable difference would seem to be vanishingly small.

California State Senator Scott Weiner (a freshman Democrat), in other words, considers First Amendment rights so lightly that he is willing to trample them even in the absence of a substantial social conflict.  The rarity of this conflict raises a critical point:

“In many ways it seems to be a solution looking for a major problem,” [Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference,] said.

“That’s certainly one of our concerns – is this just part of a larger ideological drill? Do we have examples of people being mistreated around the state because of their gender experience? It seems that this is more like – let’s fix something that we don’t even know needs fixing.”

Exactly. This movement isn’t a push to solve actual problems.  It’s a strategy to imagine problems that will create justification for ideological loyalty oaths or professions of faith.  Citizens whose conscience prevent them from making such professions will find government excluding them from public life, including the professions of their choosing.

These people are tyrants.

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Hurricanes and Vultures

Here’s another one for your “what if the ideology were reversed” file.

Two seemingly separate items on today’s Providence Journal opinion page have a telling connection if your morning news stream looks like mine.  The first is the top-of-page political cartoon by Dave Granlund.  It shows some vultures saying, “We’re the other responders,” and holding a newspaper with headlines of people taking advantage of the victims and the destruction.

The second is a letter from Michael Hayes of East Greenwich who wants to know why, if events in Charlottesville merited four days of spontaneous front page coverage on the Providence Journal, a wave of even-more-deadly police shootings didn’t deserve the same treatment:

I wonder if anyone remembers the Black Lives Matter marches and the chants of “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now.” I guess those words were not “disgraceful” and “shameful.”

Where were the headlines “WAR ON POLICE CONTINUES” or those telling us that our Rhode Island leaders were “sickened” over the killing of police officers?

The story that connects these two items comes courtesy of left-wing activist Linda Sarsour, who has had a high profile with “The Resistance,” offering the news media an opportunity for photos of a hijab-wearing radical.  Sarsour’s response to Hurricane Harvey’s devastation was to promote a left-wing community organizing PAC under the title of “Hurricane Relief Fund.”  Called on the scheme, Sarsour could only draw the fine distinction that it wasn’t her PAC and accuse people of being white supremacists.

So, what do you think?  If some prominent right winger were out there telling people that a donation to a conservative PAC in Texas was “hurricane relief,” would that be transformed into a national story?

Even if you wouldn’t go that far, the letter to the editor and the Sarsour story provide a reminder that we can’t rely on mainstream news outlets to keep us informed about what’s going on in the world would have a distorted view.

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Observations of Political Scene on Out-of-State Raimondo Fundraising

Let’s dispense with the minor observation of today’s Political Scene in the Providence Journal:

Rhode Islanders contributed [to Gina Raimondo’s campaign fund] more than any other geographic group — a total of $440,557 between Jan. 1 and June 30 to Raimondo’s anticipated bid for reelection, according to her most recent filings with the state Board of Elections. She banked another $23,025 from Rhode Island-based PACs, such as the RI Laborers PAC and the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

Isn’t this kind of expected?  In fact, isn’t the more-newsworthy point something that Katherine Gregg never mentions: namely, that Raimondo has received roughly 60% of her donations, this year, from people out of state?  I can’t help but feel that if Raimondo were a Republican the Providence Journal’s question would be the same as mine:  Whom is this woman serving?  A big majority of Raimondo’s political income, so to speak, comes from people out of state.  How central can the state’s interests actually be to her?

The more-intriguing observation (which may help to answer the first) comes from this:

Also among Raimondo’s first-quarter contributors is Peter G. Peterson, a one-time U.S. Commerce secretary and CEO of prominent companies including Lehman Brothers before founding the private equity firm Blackstone Group, which he grew “into a global leader in alternative investments,″ according to his online biography.

This may be mostly a story about how small the world of investment elites actually is, but as I’ve detailed before, Blackstone purchased the parent company of Wexford — of I-195-subsidy fame — in 2015 and spun off the Wexford component in 2016.  It would go beyond the scope of my resources to investigate the amount of profit these transactions created and sort out the timing of Raimondo’s Commerce RI dealings with Wexford, but it’s telling nonetheless.

Regardless of the specifics, one could easily summarize that the governor Rhode Island receives a substantial majority of her political donations from people outside of the state that she governs, and some not-insignificant number of her donors are conspicuously connected to deals that she makes as the governor.  These associations sure ought to raise more questions than those posed by a weekly political-interest column.

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Mainstream Media Figures Should Give More Details on Decisions

Last week, Providence Journal Executive Editor Alan Rosenberg penned a column on “how [the paper] decided on big front-page treatments of stories related to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, four days in a row, starting last Sunday.”  Unfortunately, he never quite gets to the interesting part, which is why a particular story is bigger news than another.

Why, for example, was it “of course” the right move to put promoting an “anti-white-supremacy vigil at the Rhode Island State House” on the front page Monday?  I’m not suggesting it wasn’t, but what made it so?  Is that what Providence Journal readers want to know about, especially?  Was the hope to tap into interest in a national story with a local angle?

By Wednesday, such questions have a little sharper edge.  Why was President Trump’s “both sides” comment so newsworthy as to bring the front-page coverage count to four days?  These aren’t idle questions, because as we saw, coverage like that provided by the Projo contributed to a massive mob descending on Boston to intimidate a small group of local free-speech advocates.  Where do the objective news decisions end and the contribution to a partisan left-wing narrative begin?

Ed Driscoll recently raised a telling reminder on Instapundit:

Note that this syndicated column by Ruben Navarrette, Jr. is running in the San Francisco Chronicle,which buried its editors’ videotaped interview with Obama in January of 2008 in which he vowed to bankrupt the coal industry, instead of putting his words in giant 72 point type on its front page the next day. A serious presidential candidate vowing to wipe a major industry should be major news no matter what your political leanings or your views on environmentalism. Its omission by the Chronicle served as a stark reminder that long ago, old media morphed into Democratic operatives with bylines, who merely produce content as a side function of their main goal of keeping their team in power and accumulating more of it.

It sure feels that way, and if Driscoll’s impression is incorrect, the Rosenbergs of the news industry are going to have to be a little more detailed in their explanations of why.

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Conservatism and Liberalism on Economic and Social Scales

For years, we’ve heard politicians and other political actors promote themselves as “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative.”  (Let’s call it the “soli-fico” position.)  Nationally, this impulse has seemed to be driven (at least in part) by donors.  Business elites are more likely to fall in that category, and the Koch Brothers were notable funders of the right with a libertarian mandate.

Recently those who’ve tried to remain at least palatable to the soli-fico advocates have been reconsidering.  On principled grounds, soli-fico is maybe the most cold of philosophies, leaving vulnerable people lacking the protections of both government intervention and social stability.  Once soli-ficos could claim that getting government out of the way would let society address cultural issues, but after many libertarians embraced the use of government — mainly the courts — to redefine marriage nationwide and then proved, at best, ineffective in keeping at bay early persecution of objecting Christian businesses, that balance proved illusory.

On financial grounds, the right has many donors who are not socially conservative, and they were arguably under-served during the soli-fico years.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, F.H. Buckley highlights a study reinforcing this recent turn:

Most Hillary Clinton voters were deeply liberal on both [the economic and the social] axes. The surprise was the Trump voters, who were very conservative on social issues but moderate on economic ones. By Mr. Drutman’s count, 73% of all voters were left of center on economics. Most of the remaining Trump supporters were quite moderate on economic questions. …

While the great majority of voters were liberal on economic issues, a small majority (52%) were social conservatives at the top of the diagram, enough to swing the election to Mr. Trump. Only 3.8% of voters were libertarians in the lower-right quadrant, socially liberal and economically conservative. They split their votes evenly between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton.

The scatterplot that Buckley reproduces and other charts from the study are worth reviewing.  Soli-fico voters make up just 4% of the electorate.  Moreover, the opportunity for social conservatives to win over voters by explaining why their policies will accomplish the same goals as economic liberalism is greater than the opportunity for social liberals to win over economic conservatives.

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AG Suggests the Use of Government Staff Has No Cost

This snippet from yesterday’s Providence Journal Political Scene caught my eye.  Concerning Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s running his office as “part of the Trump resistance movement”:

The cost?

“Although the office has spent significant time reviewing the various legal actions brought by attorneys general, this work continues to be handled by staff, without the need for outside resources,″ Kempe said.

Are we to understand that the AG’s staff is entirely volunteer, or that they would have been sitting around doing nothing if not for this activity?  Those are the only two ways an initiative to thwart the activities of the President of the United States wouldn’t have a monetary cost.

Otherwise, we ought to amend the Access to Public Records Act to take away government agencies’ ability to charge the person requesting information for the time of staff members in producing it, because as the AG’s office now suggests that using staff imposes no cost.

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Out of Touch Elite Don’t See the Nerve Trump Touches

Rod Dreher got to this point before I was able to do so:

The news media have been seriously distorting public reaction to Trump’s handling of Charlottesville. Whether this is a matter of only seeing what they want to see, or a matter of the talking heads being concentrated among coastal elites of both parties, is a matter of conjecture. True, a slight majority of Americans think Trump didn’t go far enough, but judging from the coverage and commentary, you would have thought at Charlottesville, Trump met his Waterloo. It didn’t happen. Charlottesville is not nearly as big a deal to Americans as it is to the media and coastal elites.

From coverage in the national media (and across the board, here in the Northeast), one would expect the “not far enough” opinion to rate in the 90s.  The only quibble I’d make is that Dreher skipped one possibility:  Maybe it’s not only that journalists are seeing what they want to see within their coastal elite bubble, but that they actively want to shape the narrative.

Whatever the case, one might fairly suggest that, when it comes to anything having to do with President Trump, journalists aren’t doing their job.  That’s true even if they see their “job” in some respects to be advancing their ideology.  Consider this, from Dreher:

This is likely to cause them to seriously overreach. If Democrats and liberals only pay attention to the media and to each other on the statue debate, they are going to alienate a lot of people. The hostile media environment has made it very difficult for anybody to speak up for keeping the statues, even though that is a majority opinion in America. So people will keep that opinion to themselves.

Keeping their opinions to themselves doesn’t mean forgetting the issue altogether.  Even people who don’t particularly care about Confederate statues will observe the way things work, these days, and may conclude that the country very much needs forces pushing back against the elite zeitgeist.  President Trump is currently the most visible manifestation of that conclusion, and I fear there are worse.

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Why Trump Won: Ending Tyrannical Obama Projects

Such thoughts are surely verboten across the entire Left and among some on the Right, but I don’t see how a reasoned assessment can conclude otherwise than this:  President Trump is still preferable to the President Clinton from whom he saved our country.  Yes, that’s a bit like saying amputation is preferable to death or blindness to a vegetative state, but sometimes life (and our countrymen) force such decisions upon us.

President Trump is reinforcing the Left’s divisive culture war and could certainly be handling that better, but a President Clinton would have reinforced the dismantlement of our rights.  If President Trump’s great sin, recently, was that he was too quick to equivocate over blame in Charlottesville, Hillary Clinton would have been unequivocal in furthering the treatment of conservatives, broadly speaking, as people without rights.  In that regard, even where Trump’s bad, at least he’s reminding liberals why we maintain those rights.

I offer the foregoing preamble in preface to a “hurrah” in response to this news, reported by Joseph Lawler in the Washington Examiner:

After the Obama Justice Department began Operation Choke Point in 2013, Hensarling and other conservatives accused them of denying the constitutional rights of businesses like gun dealers and payday lenders by targeting them for scrutiny under the program, cutting off their access to the banking system under the guise of investigating fraud and money laundering.

The GOP said companies were still wary that they could lose access to the banking system, and needed clear guidance from the Trump administration that the program wouldn’t be continued.

In a joint statement, Hensarling, Goodlatte, and Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri and Darrell Issa said that the Trump administration has “restored the Department’s responsibility to pursue lawbreakers, not legitimate businesses.”

In all the Sturm und Drang we see in the news, don’t lose sight of the fact that the absence of what we have now does not mean the ideal, or even the tolerable, but the elevation of some other intolerable circumstance.

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We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Left-Wing Violence

So… Boston.  A small group organized what turned out to be an actual rally for free speech, and left-wing “counter protesters” — likely ranging from Antifa to well-meaning college kids and others — turned out ready to brawl with Nazis.  In fairness, the news media promoted it as if it was the same sort of white supremacist rally as in Charlottesville, because that sold stories and helped them advance the narrative that racists are resurgent in America.

When it turned out there were no white supremacists to attack, the “counter-protesters” dragged an elderly woman by her American flag, screamed threats at a young man with a MAGA hat and an Israeli flag, and threw bottles of urine at police officers.

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds offers a related reminder:

Note that although the Tea Party movement was treated much worse by mainstream media than Antifa has been, Tea Partiers never physically attacked journalists, or anyone. Note also that this didn’t get the Tea Party any credit, or even spare it from being compared to Nazis and the Klan.

Shame on the journalists and politicians creating the false sense of boogeymen.  On the other hand, thank you for doubling down on your ideological winnings from last week and losing it all, bringing us back to status quo ante: left-wing violence and opposition to free speech.

From what I’m reading, more “counter protesters” were arrested than actual free-speech advocates attended.  Guess that means there really aren’t two sides to the political violence.  The whole thing was a good lesson, though, of what the Left, mainstream media, and national Democrats hope to accomplish by tarring the entire Right as racist and minimizing the violence of the Left.

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Center Blasts Newest Truck Toll Tyranny; RIDOT’s Laughable Denial

It has come to light that, on August 11, RIDOT *corrected* requested a hearing, scheduled for today, to issue commercial truck route restrictions within the state. The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (for whom I am Communications Manager) has just issued a statement strongly condemning this. It says, in part,

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Incumbents Comply with Incumbent-Protection Regulation

Is anybody really surprised that only 7% of Rhode Island politicians (neutrally meant) with open campaign finance accounts failed to comply with a new law requiring them to submit their bank accounts to the state, as Political Scene reports?

The law, which went into effect in 2016, requires all candidates and officeholders to submit bank statements to the Board of Elections following fourth-quarter campaign finance reports. This year marked the first time the statements had to be filed. While copies of the bank statements are not public documents under the law, the Board of Elections provided Political Scene with the names of those who have not yet complied.

As of this week, 49 of 668 individuals with active campaign-finance accounts had failed to file their bank statements. Another 24 of 199 political action committees also failed to file the statements in the required time frame.

The most significant effect of such legislation is to dissuade people from running for public office.  So I have to file a campaign finance report regularly with the state?  OK, I guess I can do that.  And an Ethics Commission report, too?  Well, that’s a lot of forms.  What’s that?  Open a new, separate bank account and give copies of statements to the state government?  Gee, this local volunteer office is looking like more trouble than it’s worth.

Here’s a noteworthy indication of how carefully legislators review the laws that they pass:

Reached last week, [Democrat Representative from Cranston Arthur] Handy said… he initially misunderstood the new law and thought he was exempt because he didn’t meet a spending threshold. (Another campaign-finance bill passed in 2015 requires that candidates who raise or spend $10,000 or more in a year retain a treasurer or deputy treasurer other than themselves.)

From my conversations with the folks at the Board of Elections, all candidates are supposed to have separate bank accounts for campaign purposes, even if they raise no money, but realizing how ridiculous that is, the board isn’t enforcing it against those who don’t have to file campaign reports.  Of course, the way to avoid it all is to not volunteer in the first place.

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