Sina-cism: A thankfully modest sunrise for local journalism

The Worcester Sun’s print debut represents a very modest chapter in the history of American newspapers, and one for which we can be very thankful, for if there’s anything that journalism in America today needs, it’s more modesty.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

The Sun’s move to print got me wondering about the state of journalism in America, so I turned to the Columbia Journalism Review, whose fall “Trump issue” carries the one-word title, “Takeover,” with a sub-heading “The year that changed journalism.”

Editor Kyle Pope proclaims that Donald Trump “… doesn’t seem to accept the central role of a free press in a democratic society. That’s never happened in the United States before.”

On the bright side, Pope continues, Trump’s election has forced journalists to grapple with enormously difficult issues, including the appropriateness of discussing the president’s mental health and how journalists should cover race.

“Someday,” Pope concludes, “when history looks back on The Year That Changed Journalism, we’ll all have the great good fortune to say, ‘I was there.’ ”

Mariano: Democratic leaders are tone-deaf

“For the past decade, the Democratic Party has been losing voters who used to be the bedrock of their support: blue-collar workers, even union members. … Democrats need an agenda and a message that shows the American people what they stand for – who they are willing to fight for. Democrats must offer a vision of hope.”

Sina-cism: An integrity commission that has none

I’m not nearly as much into baseball these days as I was in my youth, but I have to admit I am enjoying watching some hardball this summer — the kind going on between the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and several states.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

The commission was created May 11 by the signature of President Donald Trump, who seems as incredulous about Hillary Clinton’s 2.85-million-vote margin in the popular vote as many Americans are incredulous about his 77-vote victory in the Electoral College.

The commission’s purported mission is to ensure the fairness and integrity of the electoral process by collecting detailed electoral and demographic data.

Now, from a mathematical perspective, it is surely true not every one of the more than 130 million ballots cast last November was legitimate. Americans move a lot. Municipal voting records are not always up to date. Clerical errors are made. Even machines err.

But mathematics also assures us that however many ballots were illegitimate, it wasn’t remotely close to 2.85 million. This Washington Post piece makes the case for why the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is an absurdity. Democrats did not “steal” the popular vote — a meaningless concept — any more than Republicans stole the Electoral College.

Birthday cake

Requiem for Dissent: McGovern-ing in the era of Trump

“We ought to look at this moment as a privilege to be on the playing field and to engage in these battles. … Ten years from now people are going to ask what you did at this time. I think it’s important for people to stand up and to resist when it’s appropriate.”

If the 2nd Congressional District were carved into Worcester County only, U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, might have a problem. Many of those towns voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.

But the 2nd has roots in Franklin and Hampshire counties as well, with liberal enclaves like Northampton and Amherst that combined with Worcester should keep McGovern safe as long as he wants to hold office.

The 2nd voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent. So that would indicate that the district is safe for McGovern for at least the time being.

To that end, it’s not your imagination: McGovern, one of the most unabashed liberals in Congress, has been ubiquitous in active resistance in the weeks since Donald Trump was elected president — calling for, among other things, an independent investigation into Russian influence in the election.

“If you don’t have an independent investigation,” he said, “people aren’t going to believe the results.”

His higher-than-normal profile has been a conscious course of action.

“There’s so much happening that I think it requires more responses and more action, more resistance,” he said in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Worcester Sun. “I want to protect the values I think are important to the country.”

“2nd Look” — how Clinton and Trump fared, town-by-town, in McGovern’s district [chart]

2016 presidential election results in the 2nd Massachusetts district, which comprises 63 cities and towns in Central and Western Mass.  City / town
Clinton
Trump

Amherst
12,030
1,233

Athol
2,074
2,329

Auburn
4,408
3,936

Barre
1,201
1,429

Belchertown
4,366
3,140

Bellingham
4,027
4,056

Blackstone
1,850
2,327

Boylston
1,422
1,124

Deerfield
1,942
767

Douglas
1,780
2,685

Erving
389
289

Gill
579
259

Grafton
5,333
3,872

Greenfield
5,546
2,094

Hadley
2,121
864

Hardwick
565
708

Hatfield
1,278
659

Holden
5,553
4,602

Hubbardston
1,039
1,373

Leicester
2,422
2,825

Leominster
9,793
8,180

Leverett
996
185

Mendon
1,528
1,694

Millbury
3,138
3,432

Millville
624
874

Montague
2,858
1,094

New Braintree
246
326

New Salem
337
208

North Brookfield
906
1,413

Northampton
13,200
1,870

Northborough
5,085
2,959

Northbridge
3,376
3,939

Northfield
1,013
533

Oakham
435
633

Orange
1,482
1,540

Oxford
2,736
3,572

Palmer
2,475
3,083

Paxton
1,204
1,194

Pelham
738
98

Petersham
416
312

Phillipston
374
550

Princeton
1,183
898

Royalston
313
321

Rutland
2,020
2,343

Shrewsbury
10,501
6,786

Shutesbury
976
142

Spencer
2,265
3,044

Sterling
2,136
2,302

Sunderland
1,351
387

Sutton
2,287
2,881

Templeton
1,507
2,051

Upton
2,284
1,808

Uxbridge
3,254
3,694

Ware
1,852
2,189

Warwick
271
142

Webster
3,110
3,570

Wendell
402
104

West Boylston
2,137
1,837

West Brookfield
865
1,008

Westborough
5,911
2,721

Whately
582
328

Winchendon
1,787
2,310

Worcester
42,534
17,634

Total
202,413
136,760

Editorial: Marches send a message

The signal sent Saturday was damaging and clear: [we have] a petulant president whose words, whether directly or through a spokesperson, cannot automatically be trusted or believed.

There are facts, there are “alternative facts” — and then there are feet.

In terms of the latter, last Saturday trumped Friday by a mile. The Women’s March on Washington brought women, and plenty of men as well, out in force.

The sheer numbers of participants in Washington plus some 600 sister rallies elsewhere were jaw-dropping. At least a half-million descended on D.C. alone. The message it all came down to was powerful beyond measure: We’re here, and we’re watching.

Worcester and Central Massachusetts added a healthy showing. We wouldn’t expect less from a community distinguished by educational opportunity, diversity, and activist history. Still, it was a pleasure to see, while the overall impact of the women’s marches and rallies surprised— astonished —  and impressed us, as it did millions of others.

Saturday’s energy was an interesting juxtaposition to the fairly flat reception given President Trump’s inauguration address last Friday and its “America first” theme. The new president’s immutable me-first persona made the “This is your day; this is your celebration” of his opening ring hollow probably even to his supporters.

“We are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people,” Trump intoned Friday, Jan. 20, from the Capitol steps. The next day showed no such give-back was necessary.

Editorial: A divisive speech in D.C. — but continuity, too

Trump’s inauguration speech strained credulity by promising to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism “from the face of the Earth.” Rain fell in the chill and applause was generally sparse. It came across as a reheated campaign speech.

While most of us were sleeping Friday morning, the next president of the United States was tweeting.

“It all begins today! I will see you at 11 A.M. for the swearing-in,” he wrote. The 4:31 a.m. Twitter missive then switched to all-caps: “THE MOVEMENT CONTINUES — THE WORK BEGINS!”

Yes, in large part thanks to the grace and good sense we expect from Democrats, the work maybe will begin again in a long-stalemated Washington.

“We’re not going to oppose things just because Trump’s name is on it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday’s “Today” show. On certain issues, such as infrastructure and trade, “if he sticks to good values that we believe in, we’ll work with him.”

The senator added: “But on most areas we’re going to have to fight him, and we’ll fight him tooth and nail.”

Sina-cism: Do ballot questions matter much?

There wasn’t much drama in Massachusetts on Election Day. As expected, Democrat Hillary Clinton easily won our deep-as-the-deep-blue-sea state. No incumbent state representative or state senator, Democrat or Republican, was unseated.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

About the only excitement was generated by four ballot questions.

About $50 million — much of it dark money, and from out-of-state — was spent on those four questions. About 80 percent of that, some $40 million, was spent on Question 2, which would have allowed for an increase in public charter school enrollments. Another $5 million or so was spent trying to persuade or dissuade voters on the legalization of marijuana for personal adult use. A little more than $1 million was wasted in a doomed effort to obtain a slots license for one particular proposal associated with Suffolk Downs — an obvious abuse of the initiative process. And about another million dollars was expended on Question 3, regarding the treatment of certain farm animals.

So, $50 million spent, and for what? Not much.