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The Board That Didn’t Investigate…

… is kind of like the famous dog that didn’t bark in Sherlock Holmes.

Part of what keeps the election-security issue going is the strange behavior of those who want to prevent greater restrictions on voters.  If groups like Common Cause and the ACLU are so sure vote fraud isn’t a big deal, why attack Ken Block when he started raising questions?

Once again, Board of Elections member Stephen Erickson acts as a glowing beacon of this strangeness.  The latest news comes via Block’s observation that Rhode Island’s various boards of canvassers did indeed find votes that were improperly cast.  Here’s Erickson’s response:

Robert Rapoza, the elections board’s new executive director, referred questions on Block’s renewed call for an investigation on Monday to outspoken board member and former District Court Judge Stephen Erickson, who said the decision is not his alone to make. But absent any evidence of fraud, Erickson said, he is not inclined to “turn people who make mistakes into criminals.”

“People move all the time,″ Erickson said. “And updating an address is not necessarily something that is at the top of people’s minds.”

That just sounds like an excuse.  The statute criminalizing illegal voting is clear that the vote must be fraudulent, and fraud requires intent, not mere error.

Given the minimal danger to people who erred and the degree to which Block has narrowed the question to just a couple hundred people for the Board of Elections, why not just devote some limited resources to completing the investigation to a degree that would satisfy critics?  If government agents are so sure they’ll find nothing worthy of note, following the path all the way to the end will provide a compelling response every time the matter comes up for the foreseeable future.

As made clear when I investigated a related matter in Tiverton, I agree with Erickson that voter registration shouldn’t be a game of gotcha, and the regulations should accommodate, rather than complicate, voters’ ever-shifting lives.  But the reluctance of an election official to give the public complete confidence in the system (and get those who’ve made mistakes out from under this cloud) is inherently suspicious, as is his willingness to advertise to potential fraudsters that Rhode Island won’t seek them out.


So… Still No “REAL ID” In RI?

The Providence Journal has a small article on a procedural matter (Rhode Island receiving an extension to comply with federal standards for drivers’ licenses), but this paragraph is interesting:

In 2005, the federal government passed the REAL ID Act in response to the 9/11 terror attacks to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. The act prohibits federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration, from accepting licenses and identification cards for official purposes from states that do not meet certain standards. Those standards include requiring applicants to provide proof of identity and lawful status in the United States, and states to use counterfeit-resistant security features in the IDs.

So, do we know if the DMV is adequately checking identity and/or lawful immigration status?


The Value of Money Earned

At least here in the West, our political discourse too often devolves to mutual assumptions of bad intentions.  In this regard, the cliché about what each side thinks of the other holds some truth; conservatives think progressives are dumb, and progressives think conservatives are evil.  In other words, those on the Left tend more often to believe that their ideological opponents are either recklessly cavalier or outright hostile toward their fellow human beings.

Comments from Nigerian Roman Catholic Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, while certainly not providing cover for every economic policy of the Right, give a good starting point from which one can see how conservatives consider even their economic policies to be the most moral course:

“The leaders of our future must be formed with a mentality that only the truth sets a people free,”  said Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, during remarks at the conference.

“Corruption will be eradicated if the students begin to learn that only money that accrues to a person as a result of hard work can be enjoyed.”

Given the setting in which those suggestions were made and the theme of the conference (“Peace and National Development”), one can infer that the archbishop was applying the principle on a national scale.  That is, developing countries should find their own wealth within, not rely on wealth donated from other countries.  As with any economy that relies on a massive influx of money from a limited number of sources, the charity model enables corruption by creating distribution choke points.

But the principle applies more broadly.  Only money freely given in exchange for something — money earned — is truly rewarding.  Moreover, it contributes to a sense of mutual value in human relationships.

Charity is good and necessary, but it can’t become the basis of an economic system.


Behind the Perpetual Push to Make Us Deny Reality

Sean Davis hearkens to C.S. Lewis to help explain our culture’s current pronoun wars, which really aren’t anything new, on a fundamental level:

The natural correspondence between reason and reality, the correspondence denied by the authors of the literature textbook Lewis derides, is the same correspondence between simple things like pronouns to the physical reality of sex. Once reality becomes a function of one’s feelings, though, rather than vice versa, the concept of objective reality itself is destroyed. According to Lewis, as soon as society discards the ideas of reason, rationality, and self-awareness — the very traits that distinguish humanity from all other life on earth — mankind itself is abolished. Hence the title of Lewis’s book.

In most of the particulars and in his broader conclusions, I agree with Lewis.  My one hesitation is that I find there truly to be a subjectivity to reality.  In a given case, a person can choose to see an actual other person as a different sex than his or her biology should prove, for example.  As one expands this flexibility to become rules that apply across society, one must discard other facts or elements.

The question becomes how much “objectivity” one is willing to discard.  We’re finding that, for many people, the answer is “quite a bit,” although a large portion (probably a majority) of them aren’t ignoring reality as much as they’re willfully ignoring their position’s conflict with reality.

Ultimately, anybody who is serious about understanding life (which is turning out to be depressingly few of us) needs some reference point.  I’d say that must be God in the grand scheme, but feelings about other, unrelated facts or principles can be more-immediate reference points.  For example, a desire to let people declare their own sexes can quickly conflict with a sense of fairness in sports.

In some sense, therefore, we’re not really talking about objective reality, but coherent reality.  The real affront of relativism, then, isn’t its challenge to what we call “objective,” but the degree to which it devalues coherence.


Less Abortion Is Good, a Culture Valuing Life Would Be Better

The notion of killing one’s children is so extreme, this is overwhelmingly positive news:

According to the study, abortion rates have fallen 22 percent between the years of 2005-2014. In 2014, the CDC cited 653,639 performed abortions, while over 1.4 million abortions took place in 1990.

The news would be an unmitigated positive if the numbers weren’t still so staggeringly high and if they weren’t accompanied with a decrease in fertility:

… another factor is the declining birthrate in the U.S. The National Center for Health Statistics found that the number of babies delivered in the U.S. has declined by about 1 percent over the past few years. It said that 3,941,109 babies were born in the U.S. in 2016, which was 37,388 fewer babies than were born in 2015.

Just eying the numbers, it appears that avoidance of pregnancy can’t account for all of the decrease in abortions, so some of the decline would be explicitly pro-life — and in a great many circumstances, avoidance of pregnancy is the better decision.  Still, numbers don’t tell the whole story.  We need a culture that understands that children are valuable — people are valuable — and that the full cycle of life, including parenthood, is not something to be avoided.


Needing Proof That Government Is Accountable

Maybe it’s a sign of conditioning, but even before I got to the end of the block quote contained in an Instapundit post, Glenn Reynolds’s closing sentence occurred to me almost verbatim.  The subject is the anti-conservative raids undertaken by the bureaucracy in Wisconsin, and here is the key paragraph of the block quote:

The Government Accountability Board, the state’s former “nonpartisan” speech cop, proved to be more partisan than originally suspected, the state Department of Justice report found. For reasons that “perhaps may never be fully explained,” GAB held onto thousands of private emails from Wisconsin conservatives in several folders on their servers marked “Opposition Research.” The report’s findings validate what conservatives have long contended was nothing more than a witch-hunt into limited government groups and the governor who was turning conservative ideas into public policy.

This episode, involving pre-dawn raids of the homes of politically active conservatives was police-state activity through and through.  It ought to be abhorrent to every American across the country, and it ought to produce a consequence so harsh that those tempted by the powers of government learn from the example.

In short, as Reynolds and I both reacted: Those involved need to be disbarred and jailed.  The governing system of our country cannot persist if people even suspect that such behavior by government might actually be plausible and not the stuff of spy-thriller fiction.

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