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Bannon an Early Indication of the Suspicion the Left Has Sown

Ian Donnis gave me some space in his weekly bullet-list column to offer a conservative perspective on the Stephen Bannon brouhaha. Sample:

In short, those of us not caught up in the internecine feuds between Trumpkins and NeverTrumpers can’t help but see the fingers of progressive guru Saul Alinsky, who advised radicals to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” It’s a tactic to sow chaos, division, and hatred. However, the effect may be to unify the Right. We’re watching this tempest spun up within the mainstream media, which we understand to hate us, with the pervasive involvement of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which we’re inclined to see as a hate group.

If anything, the process that has led to the Right’s suspicion has accelerated.  Witness the scene when the cast of Hamilton on Broadway opted to single out Vice President–elect Mike Pence in the audience in order to deliver him a condescending speech with the basic message, “We believe all the worst that’s been said of your administration, and we wanted to disingenuously call for you to respect us by implicitly insulting you and turning your evening of entertainment into a hate-happening that’s sure to attract national attention.”

While I’m concerned about the danger and the rifts that progressives have lost no time in promoting, my perspective as a conservative is otherwise positive.  The opposition is leaving President-Elect Donald Trump no easy path to selling out his base.  By hardening the sides, rather than softening them, lefty activists are ensuring that he can’t afford to let down those audiences that cheer him and his administration rather than booing them.


Updated: Dear RI Media: Is First-Woman-X Important or Not?

Let’s start with a counter factual.

Imagine that Rhode Island’s House in the General Assembly had historically been run by a Republican majority.  The current speaker of the House, a white man, just won narrow reelection and unanimous reappointment to his leadership position, bringing with him a white male majority leader.  The Democrat minority, by contrast, just elected the first female minority in the history of Rhode Island.

The reportage is not difficult to imagine.  The headline from every news outlet would be some variant of, “Democrat Minority Elects First Female Leader.”  Some reporters might look back in Rhode Island history to see whether any women had ever even bothered to run.  Others would look across the country and immediately inform their readers/listeners/viewers of Rhode Island’s position in the race to break the “glass ceiling.”

And yet, the House Republicans just elected Patricia Morgan (Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) to the position — calling her “the first female House Minority Leader” in their press release — and the initial reaction of the local media is very different.

RIPR reporter Ian Donnis does mention this distinction, but phrases it as hearsay.  In paragraph 5, he notes that the new Minority Whip, Blake Filippi (Block Island, Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown), “believes Morgan is the first female minority leader.”  Patrick Anderson doesn’t bother mentioning gender in the Providence Journal blurb.

On Twitter, journalists seem more interested in being very clear about whether the vote was unanimous and making fun of Filippi for mentioning that he’s the first Millennial Whip.

Look, I think it’s all a phony game to continually make first-[identity group]-[position] proclamations, but the news media clearly does not.  If this particular appointment is not a Big Deal™, one really must wonder if the glass ceiling only matters insofar as it’s a branding aid to Democrats.

(Post script: As I prepared to click “publish,” the Associated Press story appearing on WPRI came out headlining Morgan’s gender.  That doesn’t change the certainty with which we might expect it to be the very first tweet and headline from every single news source were the parties reversed.)

UPDATE (11/17/16 7:15 a.m.):

After this was posted, WJAR headlined Morgan’s gender, as did the Providence Journal in its extended article.


Forgotten Families

Will the political class in Rhode Island learn the lesson of the election? It is time to remember forgotten families. As President -elect Donald Trump, and Sen. Bernie Sanders have been claiming for a long time, the system is rigged. While other states are decisively moving forward, Rhode Island is falling in the wrong direction. The Ocean State needs to dare to disrupt the status quo and boldly evolve itself into a regional outlier so that we can become a magnet – on our own – for businesses, jobs and families.

The biggest election impact in the Ocean State is status quo politicians may no longer have their government-centric schemes funded by the federal government! We want a government that works for all of us, not just the chosen few. We understand that if the Ocean State is to become a better home destination, we must offer a better life for American families by creating an environment that will organically produce more and better businesses so as to create more and better jobs.

Rhode Island has the worst business climate in the nation. It ranks 48th on both the Family Prosperity Index of the American Conservative Union and the Jobs and Opportunity Index of our Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. It has virtually zero population growth, and it has suffered the ignominy of dozens of other near-bottom rankings. Despite all this, our Rhode Island political class appears content not to rock the boat. We need to empower entrepreneurs, families and all of the people of Rhode Island to make the decisions for our state.

Unless we want our home state to continue with failed rankings, we must switch tracks and focus on policies that broadly help families and small businesses. Haven’t you had enough? Rhode Island has been crippled by a rigged system for far too long. Big spending, high taxes, and insider handouts have led us to where we are now. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, there are empty chairs at our holiday dinner tables. We all know people forced to leave Rhode Island. Your voice is powerful. Continue to speak out and the wave of change will come to the Ocean State.


We Took the Leap, Now for the Grab and Scramble

Last night, when even liberal outlets like the New York Times started putting Donald Trump’s odds of winning the election at better than 75%, my stomach started to ache.  I’ve made strides in overcoming stress since my very-stressful twenties, so it was a strange experience.  Making it worse was that my agita would have been worse if the results had been going the other way.

We’re now like the hero in an action movie who has made an unavoidable but frighteningly risky and dangerous decision, like diving for a falling rope bridge. We’re still going to have to leap for a handhold on the rocks as the bridge comes near the bottom, and then there’s all that climbing to do. But the alternative was slow torture by the Bad Guy followed by painful, ignominious, and isolated death, with our final thoughts devoted to the fate awaiting those whom we were trying to save.

The plans of those who would enslave us have been disrupted. Now we’ve got to work even harder to seize the opportunity, because the chaos around us may be even more immediately dangerous than the slow burn we were fighting before.

In that vein, I hope Trump’s ardent supporters (particularly the alt-right) see that they’ll need those of us who were more circumspect as ballast, so as to actually lead — to govern rather than crash and burn.  For one thing, that will mean some magnanimity and some practical concessions, like moving quickly to work with Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House.  For another, it will mean spending some time on practical steps that will unite use, such as erasing Obama’s imperial legacy by reversing his unilateral moves and wiping away policy lunacy like ObamaCare, as well as ensuring that a fair and thorough investigation and prosecution of the corrupt Clinton Inc. replaces the Obama administration’s cover-up and cleaning house in now-corrupt agencies like the IRS and the Dept. of Justice.

More than anything, though, I hope the shock of yesterday gives progressives and the media a wakeup call. But for their contempt for the American people, and especially those who don’t agree with the forward lunge into radical transformation, the country would not be in this place. But for Obama’s unilateral action, scorn for half the country, and then the sheer audacity of nominating a person like Hillary Clinton, we wouldn’t be here.  Identity politics have to be recognized for the poison that they are.

Those who aren’t thoroughly converted to the left-wing cult must rethink their political philosophies.  We can be absolutely sure that the lesson the zealots will take from the election results will be that they have to be even more calculating and ruthless.  Let’s just say that would be a mistake.


Imagining a Counterfactual State Police Colonel

Is State Police Captain Ann Assumpico the most qualified person on the planet, or even among the Rhode Island State Police, to take the reins of the department at this point in time?  I don’t know, but I’m sorry to say the appointment strikes me as unavoidably tainted.

According to Providence Journal reporter Katherine Gregg, Assumpico is (or was) the seventh in command in the department.  That seems like a rather large jump.  That seems like a rather significant number of professionals who’ve put in years of dedicated service to the state who were skipped over.

Even then, I probably wouldn’t say anything, but the person doing the appointment, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo, annually conducts an official, unconstitutional, and sexist contest that discriminates against boys in Rhode Island schools.  She’s a politician who actively supports an astonishingly corrupt presidential candidate explicitly because she’s not a man.

Imagine the outrage we’d be hearing from all quarters if a male governor who hosted a no-girls-allowed contest and told voters they should pick the man running for president because of his maleness proceeded to skip over six higher-ranked women in the State Police to appoint a man.  This imaginative exercise is rated “too easy even to bother.”

All the journalists on-hand for Assumpico’s appointment as I write this just tweeted her statement that “she didn’t have any female role models in law enforcement growing up.”  That’s an unfortunate remnant of our societal evolution, but it’s one that our current cultural trajectory would likely eliminate within a few generations even without putting thumbs on scales.

Even so, in order to accelerate the process (and give powerful politicians credit for breaking the cultural speed limit), is it worth sending boys growing up now the message that they have no chance because of past history?  That they have to be seven times better than any girl in order to get any breaks?  Because the evidence suggests (see herehere, and here) that that’s the message they’re getting.

As for identity politics (seen in today’s earlier post, too), one gets the feeling that the people in charge, like our governor, don’t actually think that the jobs that we’re hiring people to do are the most important considerations, but rather the employees’ demographic qualities — which we used to be encouraged to see as superficial.  And if that’s the case, let’s just get government out of all of these apparently unimportant activities and pay people to be female or to have dark skin.


Breaking News: Men and Women Are Different

File this under “researchers rediscover the obvious”:

There are chemical differences in how male and female brains regulate aggression in response to stress, Georgia State University scientists suggest. …

In a study of hamsters, the research team found serotonin promotes and AVP inhibits aggression and dominance in females. The reverse effect was found in males, with AVP promoting and serotonin inhibiting aggression and dominance. The serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine, one of the most prescribed drugs for psychiatric disorders, was also found to increase aggression in females while inhibiting it in males.

Inasmuch as I lack specific expertise on these hormones’ effect on the body, take this as an amateur summary for the purpose of illustration, but if I’m understanding the implications correctly, when a chemical transmitting information throughout the body increases, women become more aggressive and men become less aggressive, and when a chemical pushing blood throughout the body (preparing it for action), men become more aggressive and women become less aggressive.

To take the amateur generalization a bit further, when new information is flying, a man will step back and take it in then, when the brain and body send the muscles the signal that it’s time to act, the man will be less open to instruction and feel more urge to give it.  Women, presumably, would generally react in the opposite way.

Imagine a nuclear family (husband, wife, and children) facing some science-fiction calamity.  As the initial sparks fly, the husband will want to take in information while being less inclined to assert his will, while the wife will be more-immediately inclined to dominate.  Asks he, “What’s going on here?”; commands she, “Let’s get out of here.”  As the situation focuses on some particular threat — zombies, because they’re fun — and both switch from information transmission to action, the husband (generally larger and stronger) will tend to begin issuing the commands, while the wife will become more amenable to accepting them.

Whether this conclusion about behavior accurately reflects the ways in which men and women react to the same chemical processes is incidental; the opposite could be the case without affecting the underlying lesson.  The key point is that those of different sexes will respond to stimuli in different ways.  Like male chauvinists before them, feminists will insist that one or the other is objectively better, but reasonable people should understand that each is better under different circumstances.  That is to say that they are complementary, and fundamental units of social organization (i.e., families) will generally do better with both.


Influencing Elections for Personal Gain and Power

The Rhode Island Democrat Party and other left-wingers have been trying to make a big deal out of the fact that conservatives aren’t entirely sitting on their hands during this election cycle:

On Thursday, former Democratic party chairman William Lynch, now senior adviser, issued a news release calling on voters to “reject special interest money” from “outside right-wing organizations” trying to influence the election.

He pointed to $90,294 in combined independent expenditures from the Roosevelt Society, led by former Republican Providence mayoral candidate Daniel Harrop, and the Gaspee Project, founded by activist Mike Stenhouse, and suggested they were being secretly funded by the trucking industry.

That’s two organizations spending on a range of candidates and issues.  A GoLocalProv article out today actually puts the groups’ combined spending at $60,850, but either way, the idea that this represents some invasion of voter sanctity by self-interested parties is absurd.  Just look through the bigger spenders on GoLocal’s list:

  • $335,000 from the URI Foundation and URI Alumni Association to push voters to put taxpayers in $72,937,126 of debt (principal and interest) for spending on URI programs
  • $175,000 from two individuals directly involved in ProvPort to push voters to put taxpayers in $112,210,962 of debt to expand their port and do work at the one in Quonset
  • $100,000 from United Way, as mentioned on this site yesterday, to push voters to put taxpayers in $80,150,687 of debt to fund the local affordable housing industry
  • $1,700,000 from Twin River to promote state and local ballot questions to allow a new casino in Tiverton
  • $146,500 from Alan Hassenfeld, partly to push for passage of ethics reform, but more to back candidates who’ll work to infringe on Rhode Islanders’s Second Amendment rights
  • And rounding out GoLocal’s top 10 list is Planned Parenthood, with $25,712 to promote politicians who’ll fight to continue allowing the killing of babies before every inch of them is clear of their mothers’ bodies

Anybody who’s concerned about the use of government to take away people’s property and rights should be much more concerned about money for debt and left-wing policies.  Voters should also be concerned about a party and ideology that tries to make it seem scandalous that those who disagree with them have the audacity to participate in the political process.  They’d rather be able to take your property and your rights without any opposition.


Stop the Pre-K Union Giveaway

Via Gary Sasse’s Twitter stream comes a post from the left-wing Brookings Institution suggesting that the evidence is mounting that universal pre-K may not only do no measurable good, but might actually do harm:

By the end of kindergarten, the achievement test boost for treatment group children in the consenting subsample [who had been in a government pre-K program] had disappeared. By the end of first grade, teachers rated the same children’s work skills and preparation as weaker than the control group; the effects reversed. By the end of second and third grade, control group children did better on academic tests than treatment group children.

As always, the question is why.  In this case, the study’s authors, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Ron Haskins, speculate that pre-K might make kids just too darn prepared for school, so they get bored or otherwise distracted when mixed with children who aren’t as well prepared.  In June, another study put forward the alternative speculation that the organized pre-K is actually worse for a significant portion of students than the alternative care that they would have received from parents, grandparents, or some other care provider who’s in it for the relationship.

Maybe the answer is some blend of the two.  It wouldn’t exactly be surprising if the best education for children at very early ages is extensive interaction with people who love them and mildly guided free play, which then becomes gradually more focused on learning as they progress through kindergarten and elementary school.  The pre-K kids might do better early on in kindergarten because they’re already trained in the basic classroom techniques that kindergarten teaches, but once the non-pre-K kids pick up those simple skills, their own developmental advantages begin to make the difference.  Or maybe it has more to do with parents, who’ve begun the natural emotional separation earlier.

Whatever the answer turns out to be, perhaps we should consider the possibility that this is an area too individual and personal to families for government to be meddling.  Of course, that would put an end to public-sector labor unions’ push for more government-mandated members.


Empty Chairs At Our Holiday Dinner Tables

The Providence Journal’s endorsements of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, spending bond questions, and incumbent congressman are, in essence, support of the status quo. Such endorsements should be made with a broad, external-looking, national perspective, not with a narrow, inward-looking local lens – as we see so many in our political and media elite continually do.

This perspective is vital for voters. The political class believe that large corporate handouts and small, targeted tax cuts are good for economic development. As compared with other states, these measures are insignificant and ill-directed.


This Is What Fundamental Transformation Looks Like

With an extended quotation from Peggy Noonan’s most-recent Wall Street Journal column, Glenn Reynolds gets right to the heart of what we’re experience.  Here’s a bit from Noonan:

What struck me about the [focus] group wasn’t its new insights, which were few. What was powerful was its averageness, its confirmation of what you’ve already observed. The members weren’t sad, precisely, but they were unillusioned. They were seeing things with clean eyes and they were disappointed. They wanted a candidate they could trust and believe in.

We don’t trust or like either candidate for president.  We don’t think our children will be better off than we are.  We don’t like that we’re forbidden from setting up our own safe-spaces (if they conflict with beliefs we’re told are beyond dispute).  We don’t like the level of anxiety we’re forced to live under (often so that politicians can claim they have a problem to solve with new laws).

Here’s Reynolds:

We’ve been fundamentally transformed.

Many of these trends were underway well before Obama stepped into the Oval Office, but as for the government-driven redefinition of marriage after the institution had been somewhat undermined by the culture and no-fault divorce, the point isn’t that the new thing is entirely new.  It’s that it locks it in.  Progressives’ project during the Obama Era has been to make it more difficult to go back and fix some of the errors that they’ve pushed us to make.

Sometimes I think what we’re seeing in 2016 is like the howl of a cartoon cat who was badly injured but couldn’t immediately vocalize the pain.  We haven’t been permitted to really be honest about the harm that Obama’s been doing — partly because of his race, partly because the media gatekeepers haven’t allowed it, and partly because his corrupt administration has suppressed our ability to organize.  So now that we’re almost away from the thing that was keeping us from shouting (whether it was a sleeping dog or a precarious rock that we didn’t want to disturb with our echoes), our scream has awakened Clinton and Trump.

And if these are the choices our system produces at such a time, the prospect of actually healing our society seems like an impossible undertaking.


Father Healey Puts a Marker in the Mainstream Ground

Thank you to Roman Catholic priest Father Bernard Healey for raising the local profile of the anti-Catholic scheming of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle in the Providence Journal:

When public officials and political organizations such as the Clinton campaign create phony political groups to attack the teachings of any faith community, this act must be justly condemned by all right-minded people. The free exercise of religion is a constitutional hallmark of our nation’s foundation.

However, Catholics have come to expect the silence of the media, the Clinton campaign, civil libertarians and other faith communities in the face of such intolerant bigotry and shameful tactics. Intolerance of the Catholic faith is the last acceptable prejudice in our country and quickly becoming a hallmark of “enlightened” elites in our society.

I’m sure Father Healey will take heat from multiple quarters for writing so plainly in a mainstream publication about a political figure, but it’s becoming increasingly important for clergy to stand up and cast a cutting light through the smoke of public discourse.

And clergy aren’t the only ones.  Even as we (properly) retrench in our own communities (religious and local) and shore up our own foundations, more believers must step forward into public view.  In the past, I’ve tried to stand up for unpopular opinions (that happen to be undeniably correct), but the Providence Journal commentary pages won’t publish me anymore, so others have to fill that breach.


More of the Vicious Progressive Playbook Becomes Evident

Writing about James O’Keefe’s latest videos and one of its central characters, Democrat operative Robert Creamer, Stanley Kurtz notes that he’s a long-time ally of Barack Obama’s.  Kurtz’s essay ends with a quote from a book that Creamer wrote while in jail for financial crimes, and it casts light not only on the behavior of our current president and the amped up gaslighting many have observed in recent months and years, but also the strategies of progressive activists all the way down to the local level:

In general our strategic goal with people who have become conservative activists is not to convert them—that isn’t going to happen. It is to demoralize them—to ‘deactivate’ them. We need to deflate their enthusiasm, to make them lose their ardor and above all their self-confidence…[A] way to demoralize conservative activists is to surround them with the echo chamber of our positions and assumptions. We need to make them feel that they are not mainstream, to make them feel isolated… We must isolate them ideologically…[and] use the progressive echo chamber…By defeating them and isolating them ideologically, we demoralize conservative activists directly. Then they begin to quarrel among themselves or blame each other for defeat in isolation, and that demoralizes them further.

It would go too far to assume that Creamer’s book is a hidden guide that progressives prominent and unknown have memorized, but the above does indicate that such notions are in the air among them, and the standard rhetoric of progressives across the board proves that Creamer isn’t on his own in promoting these sentiments.

Most disconcerting is his emphasis on demoralization.  This is war to progressives.  The first assumption that non-progressives should make is that they are not really interested in dialogue, consensus, and harmonious living.  They want power and “the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless,” as Orwell put it.

Adding this tidbit to the running list of revelations about how the Clinton camp, the Democrat Party, and progressives generally think and operate, perhaps the most critical lesson for conservatives is that it is a strategic ruse.  Knowing what it is should help us to avoid feeling demoralized, as they desire.  Take their insults and their insistence that we’re alone as fuel, as reason to persist.

As for the advisable counter strategy, at this level of spiritual warfare (which is ultimately what this is) fighting fire with fire will not work, particularly where they have the advantage, which they do in popular culture.  Rather, we have to fight fire with water, which means upholding standards, adhering to a principle that everybody has value and deserves our attention and patience, and simply being better people than they are.  Judging from Creamer’s writings and O’Keefe’s videos, that shouldn’t be difficult to do.

People are generally good, and few can keep up a strategy that requires them to be unjust if their victims don’t reinforce the bullies’ hatred with a sense that it’s kill or be killed.


Unsightly Yoga Pants, Unsightly Politics

Rhode Islanders’ first reaction to the Providence Journal’s front page, today, might be, “What? A local yoga-pants letter-to-the-editor controversy on the front page?”  With some meta-analysis, though, the story’s a bit too perfect.

The most obvious observation is that the story is another contribution to the Hillary Clinton campaign, in the long line of stories to build up her woman-power narrative.  In this regard, the Providence Journal is just playing its role fomenting division and separating people from each other so politicians in the Democrat Party can capitalize on people’s aggravation and feelings of disconnect and powerlessness.

The story could also be seen as an upscale community’s sit-com take on current events, as a commentary on liberals’ fascist urge to escalate every issue to the point of personal confrontation and violence for the express purpose of forcing others to back down.  In Orwell’s 1984 the Party lured citizens into violations in order to crack down on them and make them suffer.  That was the point.  Party boss O’Brien tells our hero, Winston, the following.  (I quote the most relevant part, but readers should find the long paragraph in the middle of the page and read it for its astonishing relevance to our time)

There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.

Some women (and men) are planning a parade in yoga pants down the street of a man who did nothing but express an opinion about appropriate clothing (published in a forum that only a portion of even his town’s residents encounter on a regular basis).  If it happens, the event will be mainly than an opportunity for some people to live out the fantasy of valor on a Sunday afternoon by reveling in somebody else’s powerlessness.

As with their attempt to stop the newspaper from allowing such views to be published, the parade’s effect — its intended effect — will be to warn others away from expressing views to which fascist agitators like Erin Johnson of Barrington might object.  In matters of disagreement with the self-righteous, only those willing to depart from the challenges of their daily lives in order to escalate the fight will push back, isolating the great majority of people who just want to go about life in harmony and forcing them to choose between extremes.  (Nevermind that one of the extremes is largely fictional.)

Our society once strove to encourage discussion of differing points of view to foster understanding and to resolve those differences in a way that we used to call “civil.” Guess those days are done.