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Nepotism and Letting Representative Democracy Do It’s Work

Nepotism is not good for ethical reasons and for practical ones, because if a decision maker is hiring based on family relationships, he or she is not hiring based on merit.  Setting hard rules from a distance and on a blanket basis in every situation is also not good, because it presumes much more sagacity than human beings can reasonably claim.

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That’s basically the perspective with which I approach Walt Buteau’s reporting on what seems to me to be a non-story:

One recent example — Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon’s appointment of second cousin Tarah Provencal to the city’s three-member Board of Public Safety does not violate the [state Code of Ethics].

Common Cause Rhode Island Executive Director John Marion said while the nepotism line had to be drawn somewhere, appointing a second cousin would seem to violate the spirit of the law.

“You should not be given a position of public trust because a member of your family gave you that. It isn’t theirs to give away,” [John Marion of Common Cause Rhode Island] said. “It’s the public’s to give away.”

At some point, this becomes silly.  Yes, public appointments are the public’s to give away, but the public elected the mayor to make such decisions.  I’d agree that a person should not be given a position of influence just because his or her parent’s cousin is the mayor, but should it really be the case that a person cannot be given a position of influence for the same reason?

We have to let our political system do its work, and a representative democracy is one in which elected officials figure out what they were elected to do and why, and it is for voters to figure out whether to reelect them.  The more we take away those two instances of authority, the less we have a representative democracy, but rather an aristocracy that decides for us what decisions we can make and what we’re supposed to care about.

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Political Monday with John DePetro: Throwing Nickels and Dimes

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about new fees for beaches and parks, Mayor Hurricane signs on against climate change, and a mysterious personage in RIGOP circles.

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I’ll be on again Monday, March 4, at 1:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Everything We Thought About 2018 Employment Was Wrong

Every year, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revises its numbers for states’ employment statistics.  Those results will be released tomorrow, but Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training (DLT) typically releases a limited press release the day before.  As of this writing, the DLT’s Web site does not include the press release that went out to journalists and other interested subscribers.

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In a word, the results are not good.  The BLS revised data back to 2014, and the DLT only released round numbers back to December 2017, but in the name of informing people at Internet speed, here’s a preliminary chart comparing the revision to the originally reported numbers.

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Some things to note:

  • 5,300 employed Rhode Islanders disappeared.
  • The workforce dropped by 4,800.
  • That notched unemployment to 4%.
  • The better part of all the gains we’d thought we’d made during 2018 evaporated.

For political context, I’ve marked the month that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s first budget went into effect.  Throughout most of 2018, the reported numbers were sufficiently good to open up the possibility that the governor’s policies simply had a lag in their effectiveness.  Now, that seems to be less plausible.

From the time she took office, employment in the state has grown at a slower pace than it had been previously — by half.  From December 2014 through December 2018, Rhode Island employment increased 0.77% per year.  From the time the state hit bottom, around December 2011, through December 2014, the growth rate was 1.42% per year.

Perhaps relying on incorrect numbers, Rhode Islanders didn’t change direction with the last election.  One test for the governor — and a sign of her intentions — will be whether she makes some adjustments or doubles down on her top-down, progressive, crony-capitalist approach.

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Chris Maxwell: National Academic Board Finds No Data to Support Raimondo & RIDOT’s Claims of Truck Damage to Highways & Bridges

The National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently met to assess whether changes to truck size and weight (TS & W) should be implemented. The nation’s scholars, engineers and infrastructure “wonks” came away from the conference with a consensual determination that there was not enough data to support changes and that further studies were needed before any revisions were made to either decrease or increase the allowable dimensions and weight on America’s highways and bridges. In fact, the group spent significant time developing a plan for future research on the TS & Weight issue because there are information gaps and inconsistencies in studies.

So why are DOT leaders around the country yelling “fire in the theater” as they pin the trucking industry with the ills of our infrastructure? Simple….trucking is an easy target and we’ve given very little indication that we’re not willing to pay a dime more. Instead, in trying to derail the inequity and inefficiency of tolls in general and truck-tolls locally, we continually espouse our industry’s willingness to contribute more and, in doing so, essentially implicate ourselves for the “crimes” we did not commit. Take the ongoing, false narrative of Governor Gina Raimondo and RIDOT Director Peter Alviti who, since May of 2015, have lobbied the voters for support of truck tolls by claiming that “trucks do all of the road and bridge damage” and “truckers don’t pay their fair share.” While the Rhode Island Trucking Association (RITA) pushes back on this, we, at the very same time, offer up more resources over what we already pay.

In countering truck tolls, RITA offered an increase of 19 cents per gallon on diesel. Guilty as charged – anything but tolls!!! Currently, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is offering up 20 cents per gallon on the national fuel tax over the next four years in its Build America Fund. These are noble and generous offers from the trucking industry that has historically paid more than its fair share while, at the same time, saying we would pay even more if called upon. Rhode Island trucks paid $57 million in state and federal roadway taxes in 2016 which was 25% of the tab owed by all motorists despite representing only 6% of miles traveled in the state. The return favors for this generous position are an epidemic of tolls and abject lies about our industry.

Peter Vanderzee, President of Lifespan Technologies, continually questions the level of need for more infrastructure investment. Vanderzee, an expert on bridge assessment technology, a great source of information to RITA and a volunteer ally in its truck-tolling opposition, believes that the current state of antiquated, subjective bridge inspections allowed by FHWA allows for overly conservative ratings and, you guessed it, premature and unneeded expenditures on bridges and structures that have plenty of life. According to Vanderzee, state DOT’s who are reacting to the “truck damage narrative” are doing so without the benefit of consistent and reliable data to perpetuate and defend truck-only tolling actions. In fact, FHWA agrees with this viewpoint on the current state of bridge inspections. So we, as an industry, are forced to fight a war based on bad data , outright lies and a flawed system that government is aware of but is powerless or indifferent toward correcting?

Patrick Jones, Executive Director and CEO of the International Bridge and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) wrote that “heavy trucks are responsible for most of the damage done to the state’s bridges” in an article published by the Providence Journal in 2016, and Rhode Island’s elected and appointed leaders continue their campaign of lies and hyperbole aimed at fleecing our industry to cover their decades of sin, neglect and malfeasance. Critically, however, the findings – or lack thereof – of the very braintrust that is tasked with advising the federal government on this matter has just poured cold water on all of this baseless rhetoric. (View their report here: Research to Support Evaluation of Truck Size and Weight Regulations

Chris Maxwell is the President and CEO of the Rhode Island Trucking Association.

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An Unexpected Suggestion to Fix Providence’s Pension Woes

To fix Providence’s pension fund, Mike Riley proposes a solution that might surprise some folks:

People dont Realize that Providence debt burden is the 3rd worst in the country. Raimondo and Elorza plan to pass this to State taxpayers. I say NO WAY !!@!!

This is Providence mess to clean up. They should impose a wealth tax to cut this number in half. Don’t tax us. Tax your own wealthy citizens who have elected Elorza and let him kick the can. Those wealthy people are dying soon so I would start imposing the wealth tax ASAP.

In addition the City should impose a real Estate Transfer tax of 50% on any Property over $3 million dollars that changes hands in the next 3 years or until the Pension Shortfall is < $500 million. These taxes , both the Wealth tax and the transfer tax, would be deposited directly into Providence Police and Fire pension plans.

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One suspects the “tax the rich” approach is offered, here, mainly for educational purposes.  Riley’s drastic proposal is made in response to an F for Providence’s finances from Truth in Accounting.  Those who’ve watched Rhode Island finances will find a catch in that linked document:  namely, that just about every Rhode Island municipality faces similarly dire straits.

Mayor Elorza's comments only served to illustrate his ignorance—as abortion is not a religious issue. It is an issue that pertains to human life.

Emily Cuellar: Pro-Life Hispanics in Providence to Look Elsewhere for Leadership

Dear Mayor Elorza,

My name is Emily Cuellar, and I am a Hispanic 23-year old woman who has lived in Providence my entire life. I first want to thank you for all the positive things you have done for Providence. I remember the feeling of joy when I found out we had a Hispanic mayor, but that all went away on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019.

I was at the State House from 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. listening intently to every single testimony. I’m not sure if you actually looked around at everyone who was there, but 90% of our fellow Hispanic brothers and sisters present at the hearing were pro-life, so I do not appreciate you using your authority to misrepresent both myself and our community. I would also like to point out that at least 70% of the youth and young adults present, who are current and future Rhode Island voters, were pro-life. I hope this helps you realize the horrible mistake you made in your testimony.

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The main point in your testimony was that a woman’s right to choose what happens with her body and over her body should take precedence over people who believe abortion to be morally wrong. I actually wrote my philosophy thesis on pro-life feminism, where I explained the history of feminism, as well as providing unbiased arguments from both sides.

Ironically, I ended up writing more on pro-choice arguments, so don’t assume this is just another letter from an “ignorant” religious pro-life person. I care deeply about women and help lead a women’s empowerment ministry, but since when does the luxury of choice come before the necessity of life?

“Abortion granted in the name of women’s privacy and reproductive freedom, [confirms] the view that pregnancy and children are a women’s private individual responsibility” (Charles E. Curran). Permitting the choice to be in the hands of the woman has a domino effect on parental and communal responsibility. In many cases, a woman chooses to have an abortion even though the father desires to keep the child, but what about if the father doesn’t want the child and the woman chooses life? Is now the father forced to participate in child support? Under pro-choice reasoning, if the father didn’t want the child, shouldn’t he be exempt from the burdens of fatherhood?

There is a huge inconsistency in the responsibility and decision-making because it is solely granted to the woman. This system is highly relativistic and has absolutely no overall standard of morality.

You seemed to be proud that Providence ranks in the top five cities for equality, but where is the equality for those in the womb? A woman’s stomach does not mask the fact that there is a pain-feeling, heart-beating, living child. You stated in your testimony, “What does this mean for the most vulnerable here in Providence?”  Does it mean that we are OK with tossing the most vulnerable away and letting those who are stronger choose their destinies? Is that really equality?

You also claim that if the abortion laws are reversed it will inevitably lead to illegal and unsafe abortions. Well, since murders still happen even though it is illegal, why not make it legal? At least murderers won’t have to worry about hiding the bodies and families will be able to have a proper burial. Speeding is illegal, but why not just take away all the speed limits since people speed anyway?

This is clearly absurd. People will always go against the law, but that doesn’t justify the killing of babies, especially to the extent of this bill, which would allow abortions up until nine months. Late-term abortions are inhumane and never necessary!

Both sides will always have a lot to say, and my letter only touches the surface of some very important issues and moral questions. I’ve noticed that pro-choice politicians always try to dodge this question, but I want you to honestly ask yourself without changing the subject: Is it wrong to kill a viable child, even moments before he or she is born, and do you really want to be responsible for that?

The relativistic ideologies and inconsistency in your testimony has caused myself and many other Hispanics to withdraw our support for you. I truly wish the best for you, your fiancé, and your beautiful son who has been blessed with the gift of life, but just know that we will be looking to new people to lead and properly represent us in the government.

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Loss of US Congressional Seat Underscores Need for Reform Agenda

The state of the State of Rhode Island is not good. Even as the rising national economic tide has lifted ships in all states, when compared with the rest of the nation, our Ocean State is severely lagging, and is in danger of sinking further behind if progressive policies continue to be implemented.
Perhaps no indicator more appropriately demonstrates the failure of the leftist status quo, than does the near-certainty that Rhode Island will lose one of its precious House seats in the U.S. Congress. The persistent jokes of family and friends “moving out of state” have now tragically manifested themselves into the harsh reality that our state is not competitive enough to see population growth on par with the rest of the country.
Despite false claims by political leaders, when compared with the nation as a whole, our Ocean State has would have 23,429 more jobs if our excessively liberal policies had not caused us to significantly lag behind the average national rate of recovery from the 2008 recession.
The Governor’s proposed budget would further deteriorate our state’s dismal business climate, further infringe on individual and constitutional rights, hasten erosion of our society’s moral compass – and would do nothing to improve educational outcomes. Combined with a General Assembly that is torn between advancing extreme political agendas and catering to special interest cronies (rather than advancing prosperity and freedom for its residents,) our state government is seizing more and more control over our lives, and leaving us with less opportunity for upward mobility.
In order for Rhode Island to become a more welcoming place to raise a family and build a career, the Center will be putting forth its 2019 legislative priorities this week. Please stay tuned. 
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Political Monday with John DePetro: Fees, Fraud, Fetuses, and Finding a Field of Candidates

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about the many new fees and taxes in the governor’s budget, a progressive’s alleged embezzlement, the significance of an abortion poll, and the multiple candidates for RIGOP chair.

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I’ll be on again Monday, February 25, at 1:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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The First Amendment and Criminalized Speech on Campus

Something just isn’t adding up with reports about a “racial incident” at Bryant University:

On Super Bowl Sunday, Quinton Law walked past a party in a townhouse on the Bryant University campus, and a young woman screamed at him:

She said five words: “I f—ing hate these n—–s.”

He answered: “That’s racist as hell.”

Her response: “I don’t care if I sound racist.” At least, that’s what he posted the next day on Facebook. When he quoted her over the phone last week, the sentence was more like she didn’t give a (vulgarity) if she sounded racist.

Since then, the reports appear to be that people living in the townhouse have received threats and the university asked Law to take the post down.  On one hand, the university found that “a bias incident” had occurred, but on the other hand, somebody apparently advised Law to find a lawyer in case the woman’s housemates sue him.

Given the contrast with how one would expect this story to go, there’s clearly not enough information available to the public in order to make any judgment about the substance.  One thing remains interesting, though, in a particular statement from Law:

“This is past racism,” he said. It is a First Amendment violation of free speech, he said.

And yet, here’s the characterization of how the “bias incident” was handled, per a statement from Bryant:

The University has an established process for responding to bias incidents and this process was followed. The University immediately opened a thorough investigation of the alleged bias incident which included interviews with multiple students and a review of security camera footage. The Bryant University Bias Incident Committee reviewed the results of the investigation and concluded that a bias incident had occurred.

This official and comprehensive investigation was conducted over something that a student said.  The “incident” was that “a Bryant student stated a racial epithet in a public setting.”

Quinton Law isn’t to blame for the state of affairs on American campuses, and again, something seems odd about how this story has played out.  Still, one can’t help but wonder whether it is the initial attempt to criminalize speech as “bias incidents” that creates this strange environment.

 

Featured image: A statue that was the subject of an episode of Last Impressions, regarding how we see and respond to racial issues.

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Pro-Lifers Care More About Abortion

In response to poll results from Citizens for Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness showing that Rhode Islanders don’t much support abortion law as it currently stands or efforts to ensure that it remains as radical as it is, Jennifer Laseless — who describes herself as “a political scientist who regularly conducts survey research, a member of the Board of Oversees for the 2016 American National Election Study, an expert of women and politics, and a former Rhode Islander” — retorts as follows, on UpriseRI:

The fact that nearly 8 percent of the Rhode Islanders polled placed abortion at the top of their priority list and that it ranked 7th overall is quite telling. But not for the reasons the Citizens for Life press release argued. Quite the contrary. Rhode Islanders care more about this issue – by a substantial margin – than does the overall United States population.

Even with a poorly worded question, Rhode Islanders are much more supportive of reproductive rights than they are of restrictions on a woman’s right to choose.

Well, about that:  Citizens for Life has released the crosstabs from the survey, so we can see exactly who it is who proclaims abortion as their top priority.  As it turns out, the answer is much more in keeping with the views of Citizens for Life than of Ms. Lawless.  Of those who named abortion as their top priority, 45% were people who stated that abortion should not be permitted under any circumstances; add in those who think that abortion should only be permitted in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, and you get 75% of everybody who said abortion is their top issue.

Combining the responses of the two most pro-choice groups (legal up to six months and legal at any time during the pregnancy), abortion is the last of nine named issues in terms of top priorities.  On the other hand, combining all of those who believe abortion laws should be no less restrictive than in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, abortion is the 4th most likely issue of the nine to be a top priority.  (The pro-life grouping, by the way is 32% bigger than the pro-choice grouping.)

Among the remaining group (legal in the first trimester), abortion is 8th out of nine as a top priority.  And in terms of political parties, abortion is much more likely to be a top priority for Republicans than for Democrats.

So, in summary (between this post and my prior one on this poll):

  • After universal concern about education, Rhode Islanders’ top priorities lean toward issues that tend to be conservatives’ priorities (jobs, taxes, and corruption).
  • Rhode Islanders tend consider themselves conservative, moderate, and liberal, in that order.
  • Most Rhode Islanders do not agree with the extreme state of abortion law as it stands.
  • And those Rhode Islanders who care greatly about abortion tend to be pro-lifers who want to restrict it more.

How is it, then, that the state’s politicians and news media seem to present the issue in the exact opposite way?  Generally speaking, could this have something to do with public distrust of these groups?

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Parks and Beaches: Another Investment We’re Already Making

Along with her budget’s request to increase fees for beaches and Rhode Island parks, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo is rolling out the usual message about “investing” in our state:

“Our beaches and parks are such a special part of who we are as Rhode Islanders, and we need to preserve them for future generations,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “The study DEM commissioned recently makes clear that we’re not doing enough now. It’s critical that we commit to long-term investments in our parks and beaches. Let’s make sure our kids have the same opportunities that we did.”

The study noted that Rhode Island exhibits high park use and low investment compared with the rest of the nation – ranking 1st in visits per park acre but 47th in state spending per visit. The study calls on the State to make a strategic, sustained, long-term investment to increase the self-sufficiency and economic potential of the park system, protect infrastructure, enhance programs, and bolster operations and staffing.

The missing statistic in that summary is anything gauging Rhode Island’s tax burden.  Especially in the messaging of our current governor, everything is an “investment.”  The problem is that we’re already making those investments.  We’re just not getting much for them, whether in terms of infrastructure, economic development, or education.

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Another budgetary favorite of Raimondo’s emphasizes the point:  budget scoops.  When the governor’s office makes a regular practice of “scooping up” money from restricted funds, which are often driven by fees of one sort of another, it sends the message that it’s all really about finding new sources of revenue.

In other words, she’s actually looking for investments in more of the same old insider deals that have drained money away from things Rhode Islanders actually value.

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Partisan Quip a Ding to Reed’s Image

Somehow, I’m always surprised when Rhode Island’s U.S. Senator Jack Reed isn’t better than this:

“President Trump’s myopic fixation on a border wall has resulted in the neglect of our nation’s highways, bridges, airports, public housing, and other key infrastructure investments. But today, Congress is committing long overdue funding to invest in public infrastructure and move America forward,” said Reed, the ranking Democrat on a key transportation and housing appropriations committee.

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Oh, come on.  Our infrastructure has been languishing for decades.  Yes, probably just the contrast with the rest of the Ocean State’s federal delegation, but Reed’s brand of honesty takes a little ding every time he makes a silly partisan statement like this.

These days, any area of political activity that ought to have the capacity to bring us together is simply seen as an opportunity to drive a different wedge.

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The Governor’s Progressive Priorities

A recent Providence Journal editorial highlights yet another indication that the administration of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo isn’t exactly exhibiting a casual competence when it comes to the basic operations of state government. This time, the problem is the company with which the state has contracted to ensure that people in need are able to make it to their medical appointments, and the House Oversight Committee, led by Representative Patricia Serpa (D, West Warwick), is looking into it:

It has not escaped Ms. Serpa’s attention that there is a pattern of problems in state contracting. For many years, the executive branch has had trouble drafting strong contracts (without requiring an abundance of costly change orders), making sure services are properly implemented, and providing sufficient oversight once services have commenced. At the same time, the Raimondo administration has dramatically increased the number of public-relations people on its payroll.

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Public-relations people on the payroll is just the start. Apparently, the governor also has plenty of time for things like this:

Gov. Gina Raimondo is all-in on a statewide bag ban and past opponents of the concept aren’t objecting.

Raimondo gave her support Feb. 14 at the final meeting of the Task Force to Tackle Plastics, an advisory board she created last July with the mission of cutting plastic pollution in the state.

That’s progressives (like socialists) for you: trying to save the world while letting those who rely on their competence for day-to-day operations suffer. The problem, at its bottom, is that people are willing to pay for certain services from government (for themselves and on behalf of others), but not so much for insider excesses and progressive schemes. So, to make way for the excesses and schemes, government has to scrimp on the things for which people are willing to pay so there’s money left over for the things for which they probably wouldn’t.

And at the end of the day, ensuring that the medical transportation vehicles run on time isn’t all that exciting.

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Governor Moves Toward Even More Restrictions On 2nd Amendment; Please Sign Petition

As the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity wrote after the State of the State address, the assault on individual and Second Amendment constitutional rights under the Raimondo administration is worse than expected. Her new scheme is one more example of the Rhode Island political class giving into the far-left Progressive agenda. Rhode Island families deserve to be able to exercise their God given right to self-defense without excessive government interference.  

Instead of protecting and preserving our individual freedoms, the Governor is expanding the attacks and infringements on those seeking to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves. Now is the time to demand better government, not more restrictions on honest citizens.  Click Here to sign a petition demanding exactly that from our elected officials
This “crystal ball” approach of justifying government infringement because something “might” happen must end!
Somewhere around Twitter, I saw somebody complain that people are spreading "lies" about Virginia Democrats.  The on-point response from somebody else (paraphrasing):  "People are spreading direct quotes."

What We’re Really Talking About with Abortion Decisions

Abortion, more than just about any other issue, is to a battle over focus.  To excuse the extremely broad law in the United States, allowing abortions up to the point of birth, proponents focus on women whose lives are endangered and children who are disfigured or likely to live short, painful lives.  An essay by Betsy McCaughey that has been making the rounds offers a response to this spin:

Fetal abnormalities “make up a small minority of later abortions,” according to Diana Greene Foster of the University of California, San Francisco, lead investigator of the largest-ever study of women seeking late-term abortions. Foster reports that threats to the health of the mother are even more rare. The study found women’s reasons were all over the place. They included travel considerations, expense, indecision and disagreement with the father.

Reading broadly on this specific question shows that Diana Greene Foster is actually rather (let’s say) sympathetic to the abortion advocates and sees paragraphs like the above as having taken her out of context.  The reality is that the numbers to answer these questions are not available.

That said, the focus on later-term abortions clouds the question.  The debate appears to circle around to an April 2018 FAQ, by the Congressional Research Service, concerning abortions that occur “at or over 20 weeks”of gestation.  Arguably, though, the study is more telling when it touches on abortion more broadly.  For instance, taking into account women who seek abortions at any point, “the primary reasons for wanting an abortion were: feeling not financially prepared (40%), not the right time (36%), and having a baby now would interfere with future opportunities (20%).”  That is, at least 96% appear not to fit the picture of emergency or extreme circumstances.

Another important point that the public debate glosses over is that the exceptions in most abortion legislation (including the bills currently before the Rhode Island General Assembly) conflate the life and physical health of the mother with her mental health.  Note that the three major reasons for seeking an abortion do not include anything life-threatening.

If we focus on the “mental  health” justification, the research suggests that it tends to be more of an excuse.  Indeed, the worldwide evidence appears to indicate that going through with an abortion has no psychological benefit for the woman, as opposed to carrying an unwanted child to term.

So what does this all come down to?

Following the citations for the statistics about women’s primary reasons for wanting abortions leads one to a study that fleshes out the picture.  Researchers interviewed women who sought abortions and then followed up with them a year later, dividing them into four groups:  those who had abortions in the first trimester, those who had abortions near the term limits of the particular providers they approached, those who were past those limits, but who had abortions elsewhere, miscarried, or put the children up for adoption, and those who wound up parenting the children.

The promoted conclusion of the study is that women who had abortions were more likely than women who parented the children to have positive goals for the near future and then to achieve them.  Buried in the report, however — and deliberately excluded from any charts or tables — is this:

There was no difference by study group in the achievement of aspirational plans among women who reported them—Parenting Turnaways: 46.2 %, First Trimesters: 44.7 %, Near-Limits: 48.3 %, the Non-Parenting Turnaways: 52.3 %

In brief, one week after seeking an abortion, women were less likely to report a positive goal for the next year if they were turned away, particularly if they were on the path to parenting the children.  That’s it!  (Obviously, there is no way to tell whether women who formed their one-year plans at some point after being asked the question actually achieved them, but presumably some did or would have.)

In summary, then, almost all abortions are performed for justifications that might reasonably be called “convenience.”  Having the abortion, versus not having it, appears to have no statistical effect on mental health, especially in the long term.  And parenting a child after having initially sought an abortion does not make women less likely to achieve their one-year goals (although it does seem to change the nature of those goals somewhat).

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Against Common Ground on Taxes

Tom Ward, editor of The Valley Breeze, is (as the saying goes) a gentleman and a scholar, and an asset to the State of Rhode Island.  A recent column of his, however, in which he explains why he, as a “Reagan conservative,” can find common ground with progressives on the matter of taxing the rich seems to me to cede ground without justification.  Consider this paragraph:

I also wrote about the young men who formed Snapchat and became billionaires before the age of 25. That wasn’t possible before the internet. And so, progressives rightfully ask “Is it fair for a person who quickly gains a billion dollars to pay the same taxes as the family which makes about $600,000?” This is a fair question. The answer should probably be “no.” And if we are to level a middle-class playing field and help those left behind, we really should be finding some way to get more of that money from those who get rich very quickly.

I’d preface my remarks by wondering why a Reaganite would let his hypothetical progressives get away with the assertion that the two taxpayers “pay the same taxes.”  The family making $600,000 would presumably have exemptions that would lower its taxable income below the line at which the 37% rate kicks in.  But even if $600,000 were the family’s taxable income, 37% would be $222,000.  Meanwhile, the techie with a $1 billion income would pay $370,000,000, or 1,667 times more than the family.

Moving to the key point: As a father of teenagers, I hate Snapchat.  If somebody wanted to go after the company for enabling ephemeral child pornography and that sort of thing, I might be receptive.  But Tom’s talk of what’s fair brings to mind my response when my teenagers made the same objection to my ban of Snapchat:  “Unfair” on what grounds and by whose metrics?

Why is it unfair that those young innovators made a whole lot more money and pay the same tax rate?  Did the merely rich family work harder?  Perhaps not.  Did the family’s breadwinners provide more value to society?  We could disagree on subjective grounds, depending what the breadwinners do, but at least by the standard of what society values, it is a tautology to say that they obviously did not.

The other absent question is why it should be government’s role to address this inequity.  Let the kids make their billions.  If they’re unwise and blow it, then it’s redistributed anyway.  If they reinvest it and do something productive, society reaps the reward (again, by society’s own values).

Those two possibilities raise the appropriate response to money-grabbing progressives.  If you want to redistribute the billionaires’ wealth, then increase competition, which requires getting government out of the business of judging fairness.  It also has the added benefit of keeping the money and power out of progressives’ hands.

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Early Indications of Legalized Prostitution?

Although I’m pretty sure state Democrat Representative Anastasia Williams, of Providence, has introduced this legislation in the past, with the possible legalization of marijuana this year, it’s worth mentioning.  As Ian Donnis reports for the Public’s Radio:

A Rhode Island lawmaker believes the state’s laws governing sex work are too punitive and she wants to create a 12-member commission to review possible changes. …

According to a bill introduced by Williams, H5354, “Criminalization of prostitution disproportionately impacts women, transgender individuals and people of color.” Her legislation points to findings showing that decriminalizing prostitution can improve public safety and public health.

If Williams’ envisioned legislative commission moves ahead, it would face a February 2020 deadline for reporting its findings.

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As I’ve noted repeatedly, there’s a reason Pottersville — the alternate reality in It’s a Wonderful Life in which the movie’s hero had never been born — combines drugs, gambling, and prostitution.  As I’ve also suggested before, it would be one thing to arrive at this state of affairs because our culture and our respect for liberty had become stronger, because then it would have implicit safeguards for individuals and the community as a whole.

As it is, we’re seeing the government move into areas that used to be the province of organized crime, largely for the same reasons: money and power.

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The Humorous, the Grotesque, and the Fanatical from Pro-Choice Advocates

The person who forwarded this UpriseRI post to me used the subject line, “Maybe the most ridiculous thing ever written”:

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England “supports Rhode Island increasing the minimum wage to at least $15/hour by 2023 as Massachusetts has done,” reads testimony in Support of Budget Article 13, presented to the Senate Committee on Finance on February 7. …

“True reproductive freedom,” explains the testimony, “means knowing that when you make the choice to raise a child, you and your family will have at least the minimum economic supports and resources to ensure that child has a great start in life.”

Certainly, I thought, if Planned Parenthood is taking a stand against poverty wages in support of families and children, then groups like Rhode Island Right to Life, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, the Knights of Columbus and the Gaspee Project must also be keen to demonstrate their support for increasing the minimum wage.

The post’s headline is, “Anti-choice groups silent on issues of real importance to children and families,” which raises the humorous one of three reactions I had to the post.  According to progressives like Steve Ahlquist, to be “pro-choice” is to believe that women should have the right to have their children killed, but not to agree to work for a penny less than the government tells them is enough.  An employer should have the right to choose to snuff out a child’s life because he or she will inconvenience her business, but she cannot choose to give a teenager a shot at a low-end job by lowering the pay to reflect his or her experience and risk.

Less humorous is the grotesquery of Planned Parenthood’s attempt to jam the complete left-wing agenda into its narrow mandate.  An organization defined by its business line of killing unborn children presumes to support a public policy in order to help those who manage to survive its defining trade.

Downright disturbing, however, is Ahlquist’s religious fanaticism with the following:

Well, color me disappointed, because it turns out the Gaspee Project, despite all scientific and economic evidence, believes that raising the minimum wage hurts children and families! This is akin to believing that vaccines don’t work, or that the earth is flat, or that man co-existed with dinosaurs, (as seen on The Flintstones.) I mean, it’s just plain stupid, but they believe it, apparently.

Note that he doesn’t make the case that the minimum wage is on net beneficial to children and families.  He doesn’t even provide a link.  Instead, he simply insists that all evidence supports his claim.  That’s nothing but an assertion of faith.  And you must share this faith, or you’ll face the progressive ridicule in which he dabbles above.  In other words, being pro-choice apparently means being unable to choose to disagree with UpriseRI’s resident scientific and economic genius.

Apparently, Ahlquist is becoming more zealous as he ages.  Back in 2014, he at least would link to research when making claims about the minimum wage.  Unfortunately, I can’t find an article I wrote somewhere along the line about that same study, but the point, here, is that on scientific and economic grounds, its findings are (at the very least) debatable.

Sadly, debate is apparently out of fashion among progressives, and it isn’t hard to understand why.  I mean, their worldview requires them to be fearful of laws that prevent the killing and dismemberment of unborn children after their heartbeats can be detected.  Scientific advancement has made it undeniable that an abortion kills a unique human life, and that’s a reality that true believers must deny.

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Political Monday with John DePetro: Pushing Back Against the Inside Advantages

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, was about the governor’s multiple PR firms, binding arbitration, the line-item veto, voter ID, and what the RIGOP needs in a leader.

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I’ll be on again Monday, February 18, at 1:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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New Poll Data on Abortion and Priorities

A new group called Citizens for Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness has commissioned and published the results of a new poll by the company Cygnal focusing on abortion:

The top-lines of the poll, which contacted 700 Ocean State residents via land and mobile lines, and with a 3.7% margin of error, include:

  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (92.8%) believe that the abortion issue should not be the “top priority” for lawmakers; the abortion issue does not even rank among the top-6 issues
    • Only 7.2% say it’s their top priority
  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (73.8%) believe that abortion should not be legal up until birth
    • Less than one-in-five Rhode Islanders (18.8%) believe it should be legal up until birth
  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (68.9%) oppose partial-birth abortions in all situations
  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (63.9%) oppose second-trimester abortions in all situations
  • An overwhelming majority of Rhode Islanders (63.0%) oppose legislation which removes restrictions as to who can perform abortions
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The largest group of respondents (27%) believes that abortion should only be legal in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.  A little more than half of those would leave off rape and incest, too.  Add in those who do not think it should be “permitted under any circumstances,” and the total is 39%.  Another 25% draw the line at the first trimester, making that the majority position.

This means that 74% of Rhode Islanders oppose the state of the law as it currently exists for the nation.

That result is particularly telling when put in the context of respondents’ priorities.  After the universal interest in education, the next three top priorities that Rhode Islanders have for the General Assembly arguably lean conservative:  jobs and the economy, lowering taxes, and combating government corruption.  Indeed, despite Democrats’ being heavily represented in the poll, the largest group of respondents considers itself to be conservative (35%, compared with 32% moderate and 30% liberal).

An interesting question may shed some light on the motivation for the emphasis on “combating government corruption”:  How is it, given these results, that Rhode Island’s statewide office holders are all progressive (perhaps excluding the lieutenant governor) and progressives seem to get so much attention?

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Moderate Party Fades from the Books

I was tempted to make the title of this post something that included the phrase, “reign of error,” but didn’t because folks have mixed feelings about the Moderate Party.  Whatever their feelings, though, apparently not enough people cared to keep the party alive:

By unanimous vote, the R.I. Board of Elections removed the “Moderate Party” that software entrepreneur and two-time candidate for governor Ken Block founded — before bolting for the GOP — as a recognized party.

Under state law, the party needed 5 percent of the overall votes cast in the governor’s race to stay alive.

Unable to recruit any other candidate to carry the torch, Moderate Party Chairman William Gilbert ran himself last year, getting only 2.7 percent in a multi-candidate race that the incumbent, Democrat Gina Raimondo, won with 52.6 percent of the vote.

One can reasonably debate whether the role of the Moderate Party was decisive in the one-two punch to Rhode Island’s gut of electing Lincoln Chafee and then Gina Raimondo.  One cannot doubt, though, that it was a big part of two confounding elections, lowering the barriers to entry for serious independent candidates.

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I guess we could also reasonably debate whether that development has been healthy.  I would suggest not, inasmuch as elections need the clarity and sorting that comes with a binary choice.

Whether we’ll be better off going forward without the Moderate Party or the system’s just too broken, at this point, remains to be seen.

 

Featured image: A volunteer collects signatures to put the Moderate Party on the ballot in July 2009.

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East Greenwich’s Cienki in the Race for State GOP Chair

Suzanne Cienki, the East Greenwich Town Council president whose local leadership had the town’s government in the headlines for a year, has announced her candidacy to be chairwoman of the state Republican Party:

“The State of Rhode Island is run by the Democratic Party,” Cienki said in letter to GOP Central Committee members. “Unfortunately, this one-party system is the same as a no-party system. The balancing of ideas and checks and balances by opposing parties is vital to a democratic society. The RIGOP needs to clearly identify a platform and educate voters in Rhode Island as to how Republicans will do things differently.” …

“I have the leadership skills, time and energy to devote to the position of chair,” Cienki wrote in her letter to party faithful. “I am not afraid of a challenge and willing to speak out on behalf of taxpayers on many important issues. The state party’s main goals should have a clearly identifiable message, focus on fundraising efforts, and recruit candidates to run for statewide offices.”

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Amid the behind-the-scenes chatter, I’ve heard it said that Cienki would be a bad choice because she led her council into a rout by the local Democrats, but Republicans should be wary of that argument.  The idea that somebody with the gumption to take on Rhode Island’s established interests should be penalized because she has had to learn from her experience is antithetical to an active movement that can advance a cause.

The way to gain advantage over time is to experiment, take risks, and then learn from the results, both good and bad.  Rather than writing off anybody who has a bad result, a movement that reassesses based on that experience and renews the charge will make progress.  And if the people who made the mistakes are willing to do the same, they’re particularly well suited to guide the change, at the same time that their participation makes it more likely that the opposition will learn the wrong lessons.

 

Featured image: Screen grab from Christa Coviello Thompson’s Facebook Live video of a chaotic East Greenwich Town Council meeting.

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Another Consideration with Binding Arbitration for Teachers

A Providence Journal editorial worries that the teachers unions may have finally bought themselves binding arbitration from the legislature and governor this year.

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Such a change would mean that the unions could dig in their heels when a contract is due and try their luck with a three-person arbitration panel that ultimately doesn’t have to worry about where the money will come from or what other priorities might be sacrificed, as elected boards must do.  The editors note the political imbalance:

Labor interests have immense financial resources, politicians in their pockets and batteries of relentless lobbyists to help secure their gains at the State House. Citizens have little more than their own vote and their voice in trying to restrain property taxes and move Rhode Island in a healthier direction. But voices and votes, if used, can frighten enough politicians into doing the right thing.

The leverage of citizens and their elected officials in negotiations is something I’ve learned a bit about since I was elected to the Tiverton Town Council in November.  When it comes to police and fire, the dynamic is very different.  Not only are they dealing with emergencies and public safety, but their 24/7 schedules create challenges that fall squarely within management rights.  That means arbitrators cannot touch them.

What are management rights when it comes to teachers unions?  Maybe I’ve been missing something, but I’ve never gotten the sense that school departments could simply force teachers to stay in their classrooms longer without negotiating that into their contracts, for example.  And any such moves may also impose requirements on students and families, making them less likely.

In other words, binding arbitration not only has less justification for teacher unions than public safety unions, but it also comes with less leverage for management.  That is, it’s simply a flex of political muscle that will create huge imbalance in local budgeting.

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Unnecessary “Fair Housing” Bill is Unfair to Landlords!

House bill 5137, deceptively named the Fair Housing Practices bill, which mirrors leftist-inspired legislation introduced in other states, is completely unfair to landlords. 
The legislation claims it seeks to end discriminatory housing practices because in the progressives’ land of social-equity, making a legitimate business decision should be a crime. Under the proposed law, any Section-8 lessee applicant (those whose rents are subsidized by the federal government) who are not accepted as a tenant, must have been discriminated against, and the landlord must be punished.
We all agree that if such discrimination were to be practiced… it would be wrong.
However, this legislation is not necessary, as there already exists multiple state and federal laws that protect against discrimination. Additionally, there are multiple legitimate reasons for making certain business decisions.
The legislation would make it illegal for a landlord to inquire about a potential tenant’s source of income, or even whether they are an adult over the age of 18.
According to federal guidelines, acceptance of Section-8 vouchers is supposed be voluntary. Yet this Fair Housing Practices bill would unfairly impose a defacto state mandate on landlords to accept any Section-8 application they receive. Even if the landlord makes a legitimate and nondiscriminatory business decision otherwise, they would be at legal risk of being prosecuted for discriminatory racial actions.
Further, this legislation is a back-door RhodeMap RI type scheme to advance a social equity agenda that will only tear at the fabric of our society … by making innocent private property owners appear to be bigots.
Yes, once again, after failing in 2018, the social equity extremists are back; those who believe that their views of society should prohibit the free-choice and rights of property owners to make business decisions that are in their own best interests. Once again, RhodeMap Rhode Island and HUD (the federal department of Housing and Urban Development), and its local surrogate, the RI Housing authority, are at it again!
Watch The New Video: H5137 = Bad Bill of the Week
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The Counterintuitive Consequences of Birth Control

A bit of recent research appears to confirm something I’ve been arguing from theoretical grounds for decades:

Access to the birth control pill in the U.S. has increased the births of children outside of marriage, especially among poor and minority women, according to a new study of the contraceptive’s historic effects.

“Our findings add to a growing literature which documents the power of the pill to shape women’s lives in broadly heterogenous ways, with minority and less-well-educated women bearing the brunt of the losses, a phenomenon we call the paradox of the pill,” economics professors Andrew Beauchamp and Catherine R. Pakaluk said in their paper, “The Paradox of the Pill: Heterogeneous Effects of Oral Contraceptive Access.”

“We find robust evidence that access to the pill increased nonmarital childbearing and reduced the likelihood of high-school graduation,” they said.

There are two important principles coming into view, here.  The first is something I wrote about in a 2004 post about the trajectory that our thoughts about sex, marriage, and family have been on, as a culture.  The relevant point, here, is that contraception intellectually and culturally separates sex from procreation.

Consequently, regardless of whether a particular couple is using contraception (or using it correctly), people begin behaving sexually as if children aren’t really a consideration.  When one is conceived, therefore, the tendency will be to blame the contraception, or its lack of availability, or whatever reasons one might have for not using it.  The pregnancy therefore seems unfair, increasing the demand for abortion.

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The second principle is one that I expressed frequently when same-sex marriage was still a matter of public debate.  Namely, that people who don’t necessarily need marriage in order to have healthy relationships or to raise children reasonably well are actually investing in a culture of marriage that benefits more-vulnerable people.

We see the same thing with contraception.  More-privileged groups of people will not only have more access to contraception but also stronger cultural guides for the regulation of their behavior.  Yet, their view of sex will define the culture and affect the behavior of those who are less privileged and less responsible.

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Looking for the Political Line on PR Staff

It appears that GoLocalProv asked Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s office for all communications related to Frank Bruni’s glowing profile of her.  The site reports:

The emails that cover three-months — this past November through January — cover 55 pages and include a number of efforts by Raimondo staffers. In most cases, Raimondo’s office responded to emails in minutes and proactively sent materials and powerpoint presentations that were not requested by the New York Times.

So, Rhode Islanders paid the governor’s staff for three months of assistance on an explicitly political and partisan profile in the New York Times?  GoLocal reports that “it was the New York Times photo desk that dictated Raimondo’s photo” (shown, in part, in the featured image of this post).  That would be the image taken in her official office and positioned so as to make reflected lights look like a halo for Saint Gina.

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Maybe it’s time we begin to ask where the boundary is beyond which these activities should be campaign expenses.

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Intersectionality as an Ideological Blockchain

Unless I’m missing something, all the chatter about blockchain technology makes it seem much more complicated than it is.  Basically, it’s just a way to link information together and share the full set so that everybody has the latest version and any modifications are easy to spot.

The information is chained so that broken links can be exposed and fixed quickly and securely.  This basic concept bears a striking resemblance to the ideological dogma of intersectionality.

That notion came to me while reading a blog post by Reason’s Robby Soave about the ludicrous “Green New Deal”:

Many … articles—including ones penned by Reason’s Ronald Bailey and Joe Setyon—have pointed how ludicrously broad the Green New Deal is. Notably, it does not confine itself to environmental policy: the proposal also asks for more education funding, more health care funding, the enforcement of “workplace health and safety, antidiscrimination, and wage and hour standards across all employers, industries, and sectors,” enforcement of “trade rules,” and, according to the Green New Deal’s FAQ sheet, “economic security for all those who are unable or unwilling to work.”

Why would the left include a provision about subsidizing the lifestyle of lazy people in its climate change manifesto? Because that’s what intersectionality requires.

As I explain my forthcoming book, PANIC ATTACK: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump (pre-order it here), intersectionality is a philosophical framework that has come to completely dominate progressive activist thinking in the 30 years since the sociologist Kimberle Crenshaw first coined it. An intersectional progressive recognizes that racism, and sexism, and homophobia, and transphobia, and age-ism, and classism, and so on, are separate-but-related phenomena. To ignore just one of these sources of oppression is to fail intersectionality; the seriously social-justice minded must treat all of these issues as equally important and confront them en masse.

Intersectionality codes disparate causes in terms of “social justice” and links them all together.  The coding is shared across social media such that everybody has an intrinsic sense of what’s included and the hierarchy.  The purpose, as with a blockchain, is to discover breaks in the chain.  Consider this, from Rod Dreher:

I agree that we need more pro-environment government laws and policies. I agree that the government needs to do something about strengthening the social safety net, income inequality, and strengthening the stability of the working class. I am somewhat to the left of the GOP on these issues. But if you think the Democratic Party as it exists today, post-Hillary and post-Obama, is going to let its standard-bearer vacillate the least bit from every maximal demand of the Left, you’re dreaming. It’s not right-wingers like me who are trying to smear socialism by attaching every crackpot thing the cultural left embraces to an economic program; it’s left-wing activists. One Millennial reader of this blog who works in DC Democratic circles told me last year that the militant activists really are driving this bus.

Parties, by their nature, are alliances of different constituencies.  For most of the past half century, the political right was united within the Republican Party roughly under the conservative theory of fusionism, which bound differing interests with the principle of freedom from government coercion.  This linked social conservatives with sometimes libertine libertarians because it proposed a civic structure that permitted genuine pluralism.

During that period, the political left was united within the Democrat Party on the more-patchwork principle of preference for action by the government, which covered socially conservative industrial union members as well as environmentalists as well as ideological Marxists.  The hardening of that coalition into a chain of “justices” has squeezed out those who couldn’t be made to fit because they were dominated by the necessary villain who united the rest (masculine, straight, white men).

Moreover, with the development of the Internet and social media, the broader coalition no longer has the protection of distance between conflicting constituencies.  The intersectional blockchain must attack a photo of coal miners in Arizona as if it’s a display of blackface, just as it must act quickly in response to sexual assault allegations against the black lieutenant governor of Virginia.  Just as it must embed its entire ideology in a Green New Deal.

By the old-time calculations of coalition government, one would expect this constricting chain to push itself out of power.  Unfortunately, a third dynamic of our time — added to the binding theory of intersectionality and the rapid transmission method of social media — is that the political left has invaded and thoroughly controls central cultural institutions like academia and entertainment media.  With that control it has indoctrinated generations of the Western elite with its insidious code, wrapping the chain around us all.

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The Coincidental Flow of Money and Jobs for Raimondo PR Shop

When Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s lead PR guy, Mike Raia, left government employ recently, many a politics-watcher wondered what giant leap into uncharted territory he might be taking.  Well, now we know:

The governor’s former communications director is joining the Providence-based ad agency NAIL Communications to lead its new public relations-oriented shingle, NAIL[PR].

Mike Raia, who stepped down from Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration as of Feb. 1, announced his new job as NAIL[PR]’s managing partner Wednesday. The firm will do PR work and strategic communications, Raia said.

Looking at the state’s transparency portal reveals quite a coincidence.  It turns out that NAIL Communications has done very well with government contracts under the Raimondo administration, with $39,500 in fiscal year 2016, $121,475 in 2017, and $223,805 in 2018, with the bulk of that last year coming straight from the Department of Administration, with no programs or subprograms listed.

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Per state law, Raia will “recuse” from contracts with Rhode Island’s executive branch for a year, which leaves him plenty of time to work alongside his former boss once again before she moves on to whatever’s next.

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A Consequence of Faceless Bureaucracy Using Cold Data

Back in the sunny days before many people had even heard about the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP), let alone before it was a byword for the Ocean State’s dysfunctional government, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity was warning about a “dependency portal.”

The idea behind the system is that state government will consolidate the information it collects for every type of welfare benefit and program it operates.  That information would be updated in an ongoing way, and people will automatically receive any benefits for which they are newly eligible.

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Of course, the flip side is that people would also automatically lose any benefits for which they are no longer eligible.  Moreover, nobody should believe that politicians and bureaucrats would not find other uses for this treasure trove of information.

Turn, now, to Elizabeth Brico’s commentary on Talk Poverty:

… after decades of collecting this data, the government is putting it to use. This information is feeding algorithms that decide everything from whether or not you get health insurance to how much time you spend in jail. Increasingly, it is helping determine whether or not parents get to keep their kids.

When someone phones in a report of suspected child abuse — usually to a state or county child abuse hotline — a call screener has to determine whether the accusation merits an actual investigation. Sometimes they have background information, such as prior child welfare reports, to assist in their decision-making process, but often they have to make snap determinations with very little guidance besides the details of the immediate report. There are more than 7 million maltreatment reports each year, and caseworkers get overwhelmed and burn out quickly — especially when a serious case gets overlooked. New algorithms popping up around the country review data points available for each case and suggest whether or not an investigation should be opened, in an attempt to offset some of the individual responsibility placed on case workers.

Admittedly, I get the impression I wouldn’t agree with some of Brico’s broader assumptions and prescriptions, but empowering a faceless bureaucratic system to intervene intimately in people’s lives based on cold data is a frightening idea on its face.

One aspect of the abortion debate with which one really must contend is the deception of those who advocate for abortion as a right, starting with the idea that legislation to preserve women's ability to kill their unborn children in the womb is about "reproductive health care."  Reproductive of what?

Projo’s Reversion to the PolitiFact Approach on Abortion Legislation

Maybe it’s me, but there seems to be something deceptive in the way this Providence Journal article presents controversy over progressive Democrat State Representative Edith Ajello’s legislation to lift restrictions on abortion under state law.  Consider:

The [LifeNews] article also contends that the Ajello bill “would even repeal the state partial-birth abortion ban and fetal homicide law, which provides justice to pregnant mothers whose unborn babies are killed by abusive partners, drunken drivers or others whose illegal actions cause the death of the unborn baby.”

Ajello says the article is part of a national campaign in states where there is a push on to codify Roe v. Wade into law. She said a number of “misled″ people from as far away as Ohio called her last week to rail against her legislation, based on their belief that “infants born alive in an abortion procedure would be left on the table to die.”

“It’s not true,″ she said, citing a Rhode Island law titled “Care of babies born alive during attempted abortions’′ that her legislation would leave intact. The law holds “any physician, nurse, or other licensed medical person who knowingly and intentionally fails to provide reasonable medical care and treatment to an infant born alive in the course of an abortion [who then dies] … guilty of the crime of manslaughter. ”

While her bill, if passed, would repeal Rhode Island’s “partial-birth abortion law,″ which a federal judge declared was so vague it was unenforceable and unconstitutional, she notes her legislation does not affect a superseding 2003 federal ban on “partial birth abortions.”

As reported, the LifeNews article makes two points:  Ajello’s legislation would repeal the state’s partial-birth abortion ban and remove the penalty for killing an unborn child as part of an assault (or other illegal and harmful action) hurting the mother.  Kathy Gregg follows Ajello in distracting from the question with commentary on laws related to children who are born despite attempts to abort them.

The next attempt at distraction is the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, which the federal government could repeal at any time.  Notice something:  The entire premise of Ajello’s legislation is that the federal government might in some way or another change its laws to make abortion a state issue, which she says requires the change to state law.  Yet, she hides behind federal law (that could similarly be repealed) as an excuse for eliminating this ban.

The article completely ignores the other point from the LifeNews article.  It almost feels like the Providence Journal has revived PolitiFact when it presents two statements that are true, but casting shade on them with distractions.

On a side note, while refreshing my memory about the federal partial-birth abortion ban, I came across this 2007 Boston Globe article and, once again, find it difficult to believe that anybody can really believe this is OK:

In response to the Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, many abortion providers in Boston and around the country have adopted a defensive tactic. To avoid any chance of partially delivering a live fetus, they are injecting fetuses with lethal drugs before procedures.

That clinical shift in late-term abortions goes deeply against the grain, some doctors say: It poses a slight risk to the woman and offers her no medical benefit. …

The injections are generally done in abortions after 18 or 20 weeks gestation. (Massachusetts bans virtually all abortions at and beyond the 24th week, except to protect the life or health of the mother.) Medical staff inject either the heart drug digoxin or potassium chloride, a potentially poisonous salt also used in state executions.

“To avoid any chance of partially delivering a live fetus, they are injecting fetuses with lethal drugs [also used for the execution of criminals] before procedures.”  I may be missing some of the niceties of the process, but this appears to mean that the doctors are executing the unborn baby before partially delivering him or her in order to suck out his or her brain and rip the body limb from limb.

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