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Political Incentives for the Opposition as for the News Media

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

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

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

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


Imaginary Discrimination Bill is “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week”

This week’s bad bill is a thorny issue, but one that highlights yet another danger of the progressive-left’s agenda to control our lives via a government driven by political correctness. In our American society, this means a direct threat to free speech and free thought.


Return of the Republican Wing of the Republican Party?

Former chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party Mark Smiley is seeking to revive the Rhode Island Republican Assembly (RIRA), which is meant to be a home for explicitly conservative Republicans:

Like many individuals and groups in the Republican Party, energy wanes, and groups lose momentum. However, this State and our Party needs an organization directly supporting Conservative Candidates. The Rhode Island Republican Assembly (RIRA) is that organization and we need to bring it back.

Smiley pledges that the group won’t resume its sometimes-contentious relationship with the state party, but I wonder if the possibility of comity is in some small way related to the group’s decline.  Back when the party was divided between a Chafee wing and a Carcieri wing, there was a clearer need and interest for a distinct group.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t a need for a conservative Republican group, but that the contention might have kept the group going for longer than generally waning participation might have otherwise allowed.  With a relatively conservative Republican Party, those who remain active are more likely to focus their attentions there.

More participation is critical, though, so if the resurrection of RIRA inspires people to do more and bring more people into the fold, that’s a good thing. If you’re interested, head to the state GOP headquarters at 1:00 today.


Cicilline Reinforces the Suspicions That Elected Trump

In the Bonus Q&A of a recent Rhode Island Public Radio Political Roundtable, Democrat Congressman David Cicilline responded to a question by RIPR commentator Scott MacKay in a way that affirms the suspicions that many of us have had about the thinking of federal politicians, especially on immigration and especially among Democrats.  MacKay asked, “Would you be willing to appropriate federal money to build Trump’s wall in exchange for taking care of the Dreamers?”  Cicilline responded as follows (emphasis added):

You know, the proposal that Senator Schumer put before the president, that he has now withdrawn is something that I think it would be challenging for most Democrats to support. I support border security. I think that will obviously mean repairing some of the existing wall, maybe building some fences. It ought to be done in a smart, efficient, effective way. The president’s own chief of staff said a wall is not the way to secure our border. So, it’s probably not the best way to go forward.

Although, Louis Gutierrez said the other day: We ought to vote for the wall, take care of the Dreamers and then when we get back into the majority, in November, we can repeal the wall. That’s not a bad strategy.

As the recent cliché goes, this is why we got Trump.  Part of the reason that immigration has become such a challenging issue is that the political Right has known for decades, now, that any deal must implement the stronger security that they seek before any of the laxity that the political Left wants can be done.  That’s because we know that any sort of amnesty or relief will be done immediately, and then the federal government will never get around to implementing greater security.  All that sequence does is send the message worldwide that the U.S. will ultimately bend its rules for people who can get here while leaving open the gaps to enter the country.

The lesson applies more broadly, too.  We know from experience, and now from Cicilline’s own words, that his party nationally is not interested in fair negotiation and good faith negotiations.  They have political objectives, and any promises, rules, and a sense of shared nationality are nothing in the face of those goals.


Commerce’s Out-of-State Candidate

Today’s Providence Journal Political Scene reports the large fundraising take of recently declared Rhode Island Senate candidate Nick Autiello.  He’s currently making $80,000 (not including benefits) working for the quasi-public Commerce Corp. and says he’ll give that up if he’s elected to the seat currently held by Democrat Paul Jabour.

The first question is why somebody would find a senate seat that valuable.  Since I can’t answer that, the next question is where his fundraising money is coming from.  At over $50,000 in a few months for the 27-year-old, his campaign touts this as the biggest fundraising haul of any first-time candidate’s first quarter… ever.

Not mentioned, though, is that the state’s campaign finance database shows more than 94% of that money coming from donors with out-of-state addresses.  Between his Commerce connection and the out-of-state domination of his fundraising, Autiello’s may be the most-Rhode Island story of the Raimondo Era thus far.


The Blind Spot Too Big to See Through

We should thank Ruth Mayer for her op-ed in the Charlotte Observer and the psychological lesson that it offers for all of us, across the political spectrum.  After having driven to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., with her daughter in order to find people who commiserated with them in their rage, Mayer had a spot of car trouble on her way back to Charlotte, and a random act of car-repair kindness from a passing “redneck” set her anger to spinning sadness and something she takes to be self revelation:

Our encounter changed the day for me. While I tried to dive back into my liberal podcast, my mind kept being pulled back to the gas station. I couldn’t stop thinking about the man who called himself a “redneck” who came to our rescue. I sized him up as a Trump voter, just as he likely drew inferences from my Prius and RESIST sticker. But for a moment, we were just two people and the exchange was kindness (his) and gratitude (mine).

As I drove home, I felt the full extent to which Trump has actually diminished my own desire to be kind. He is keeping me so outraged that I hold ill will toward others on a daily basis. Trump is not just ruining our nation, he is ruining me. By the end of the drive, I felt heartbroken.

Note the thoroughgoing passivity.  She hasn’t allowed herself to become the sort of person with a coffee mug reading, “I hate to wake up when Donald Trump is President.”  Trump made her that kind of person.  Although he has no idea who she is, the problem isn’t that she’s feeding off of rage at him, in some sense enjoying it, but that he’s actively “keeping [her] so outraged.”  She wants to commune with her helper, but she puts Trump in the way.

And notice that she doesn’t ask why the helpful man could (presumably) support Trump.  What might she be missing that would enable a person to be both charitable and willing to support the object of her hatred?


The Possibility of Escape from Progressives’ Plans


The Choice After the Memo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yes, It’s a Serious Matter


A Feat of the Imagination in the Bureaucracy


Enough with the Talk, Put Some Solutions on the Table


Daring to Note that Ginsburg Is the Icon for What She Laments

It must be nice, being a progressive and therefore able to publicly say one thing while behaving in a contradictory way.  Consider Katie Mulvaney’s Providence Journal report on comments made by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a “fireside chat” at Roger Williams University School of Law:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg assured a crowd at Roger Williams University School of Law that the bitter partisanship that grips Washington, D.C., will pass, as did the Red Scare of the 1940s and ’50s.

“That time has passed. This time will pass,” Ginsburg said Tuesday at the law school, during a fireside chat with 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Senior Judge Bruce M. Selya.

“We will see this time end, this fierce partisanship,” Ginsburg continued during a wide-ranging and spontaneous discussion with Selya, whom she has known since their time at Harvard Law School.

She observed that there were only three votes against her in the U.S. Senate when she ascended to the Supreme Court in 1993, unlike the great political divide that has faced the past four high court nominees. Her fear, she said, is that Americans will begin to view federal courts as yet another political branch of government.

None of the coverage of this appearance by “Notorious RBG” has mentioned that she was the lone Supreme Court justice to endorse one side in our last presidential election, when she said:

“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be  — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said.  “For the country, it could be four years.  For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

Well, we can now say that the country with Donald Trump as president is still a place in which progressive jurists can walk around publicly as hypocrites on stilts.  Of course, this is nothing surprising from a jurist whose position on any given case can much more reliably be predicted by its politics than its law.


Fake Claims From The Progressive Land Of Make-Believe

The legislative onslaught from the left has begun. As the poster child of their desire for government-control over the lives of residents and businesses, Rhode Island’s progressive-Democrats announced they will introduce legislation this week to establish an estimated $13.2 billion single-payer health insurance system.