Daily Archives: May 5, 2016

Profiles in Porridge

This week has turned into a festival of schadenfreude for liberals, as we watch Republicans of all stripes coming to grips with their putative nominee, Donald Trump. The reactions can be broken down into three categories, none terribly edifying.

Resignation and acceptance. Many Republicans and conservative commentators who staunchly opposed The Donald are now busily explaining why he’s really not that bad.

Some of these people can’t bear to utter the man’s name; they simply say they will support “the Republican nominee,” whoever that is.

Phony re-evaluation. These folks, like the insufferable Joe Scarborough, say they will decide based on how The Donald comports himself from now on. As if he didn’t have a lifelong record of being a self-entitled woman-hating narcissist, and a year-long record of conduct unbecoming a major-party nominee.

Denial. Some insist they will never vote for The Donald, although most refuse to say what they might do instead. A few are opting for Hillary Clinton, but most are temporizing. Which begs the question, is Clinton really worse than Donald Trump by any rational metric?

Here in Vermont, we have one gubernatorial candidate (Bruce Lisman) in category two, and one (Phil Scott) in category three.

Not that Republicans have any good options, but neither man is covering himself in glory.

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Shoot the Messenger

As its final months drag onward, the Shumlin administration is remaining true to one of its core principles: Shoot the messenger. We have two prime examples of this time-tested strategery today: a top state official slams a respected media outlet, a move that has backfired big-time in the past; and the administration puts a big fat price tag on transparency.

First, Lawrence Miller, Vermont Health Connect czar, has beef with VTDigger.

[Miller] testified Wednesday in the House and challenged the veracity of a VTDigger story that said the state has been unhappy with its current Vermont Health Connect contractor and is negotiating with another company.

… [Miller said] that any frustration he expressed in emails was a normal part of negotiations.

Digger’s earlier story had quoted emails from a state official expressing dissatisfaction with VHC contractor Optum. Which would be noteworthy, since Optum was supposedly the savior of Vermont Health Connect. Miller pooh-poohed the story’s assertion, saying that a certain amount of “friction” is a normal part of the process.

Maybe that’s true, but here’s the problem. This is the same “Lawrence Miller” who was in charge of the Agency for Commerce and Community Development when it was happily attempting to both promote and regulate the ill-fated EB-5 program. He headed ACCD from 2011 to 2014, when he was tasked with cleaning up the Vermont Health Connect mess.

In other words, Miller has been hip-deep in two of the Shumlin administration’s signature disasters. Is it possible he negotiated Shumlin’s original land deal with jerry Dodge?

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