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Jessica Botelho writes on the efforts of Nichole and Tyler Rowley to put a spotlight on the misdirected thinking behind the presentation of abortion as an untrammeled right.

Me, Still Me, and the Time of Choosing

Jessica Botelho writes on the efforts of Nichole and Tyler Rowley to put a spotlight on the misdirected thinking behind the presentation of abortion as an untrammeled right:

Nichole Rowley, a mother of two, said she and her husband, Tyler, recently received a card from Gov. Gina Raimondo. The delivery marked six months since Rowley gave birth to their second son, Fulton.

“The card expressed the joy of having children, but the sentiment didn’t make sense coming from Governor Raimondo,” Rowley told NBC 10 News in an email. “If children are such a special gift, as the card claims, why does she offer those children no rights before they are born?” …

After hearing [Governor Raimondo support abortion legislation in her State of the State speech], Rowley said she and Tyler decided to mail the governor back the card, along with a card of their own, plus two photos inside: a picture of Fulton at 12 weeks in the womb, and another of him a few hours after birth. The words, “Me, Still me,” were printed across the photos.

The idea that our Catholic governor needs reminding of such an elementary concept — now fully visible through modern technology — is a travesty and a scandal.  She and other politicians of her ilk, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, ought to be informed of their excommunication for the good of their own souls as much as those whom they corrupt.

They like to claim that they aren’t pro-abortion, but pro-choice.  Well, when their fellow Democrat governor is out there excusing infanticide, we are clearly all in a time of choosing.  Life or death… pick one.  Nihilism or morality… pick one.  Choose.

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RI House May Expand Abortion, but Criminalize Cat Declawing

As the Rhode Island House of Representatives gives hints that some sort of legislation will pass to lock in or even expand the ability of women to kill their children in the womb, this legislation (H5073) enters the docket:

It is unlawful for any person… to perform or cause to be performed, an onychectomy (declawing) or flexor tendonectomy procedure by any means on a cat or other animal, unless the procedure is deemed necessary for a therapeutic purpose by a licensed veterinarian.

In addition to being able to impose a fine of up to $1,000, the court would gain the totalitarianesque power not only to forbid the person to possess any animals, but also to live “on the same property with someone who owns or possesses animals, perhaps for life.  Naturally, forced “humane education” would be a requirement.

But wait!  There’s more.

If H5113 also were to become law, the person who has his or her cat declawed would also be forced to participate in a new publicly accessible online animal abuser registry.  That way his or her neighbors could readily dig up details of the dastardly deed.

As long as we have our priorities in order.

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The SJWs Claim the Dreams of One of Their Own

Rod Dreher shares a story that shows the urgency of pulling our society away from the social justice warrior (SJW) cliff.

Amelie Wen Zhao is a Young Adult author whose debut sci-fi/fantasy novel, Blood Heir, was set for a June release from a major publisher, as part of a three-book deal. When the deal was announced a year ago, Zhao, who is just starting her career, made her excitement public.

Ms. Zhao has quite a story.  Born in China.  Fully accredited member of the right-thinking POC community.  Unfortunately, a Twitter mob formed, apparently focusing on the fact that the first book’s PR materials described the fictional world as one in which “oppression is blind to skin color.”

The result, as Dreher puts it, is that Zhao learned to love Big Brother.  In her apology letter, she expressed gratitude for having been taught a lesson and reports, “I have decided to ask my publisher not to publish Blood Heir at this time.”

Robby Soave is right to quote Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in this context: “There is more than one way to burn a book, and the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” This madness will come for us all if we don’t start stopping it.

One suspects the SJWs miss the irony that they’re bringing Ms. Zhao’s fictional world into being.  “Oppression is blind to skin color,” indeed.

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."

Pretense Has Fallen Away on Abortion: It’s Infanticide

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.”

Sometimes these things are better seen.  Watch Virginia Democrat Delegate Kathy Tran explain her pro-abortion legislation.  As the Republican chairman of the committee to which she’s presenting digs into what the bill would allow, Tran’s face actually winces, because she knows what she’s about to say:

Gilman: Where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth — she has physical signs that she is about to give birth.  Would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was [certified as having a mental health reason]?

[Pause]

Gilman: She’s dilating.

Tran: [Winces.] Mr. Chairman, that would be a decision that the doctor, the physician, and the woman would make at that point.

Gilman: I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.

Tran: My bill would allow that, yeah.

All pretense is now off the table.  This is infanticide, as Democrat Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam subsequently went on the radio to confirm.  The interviewer asked about the exchange quoted above, and Northam answered thus:

If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen.  The infant would be delivered.  The infant would be kept comfortable.  The infant would be resuscitated, if that’s what the mother and the family desired.  And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

Notice that we’re no longer talking about a fetus, here.  This is an infant.  Apparently, many Democrats have become so intrinsically radical that they are now willing to admit that.  It’s their religion, and human sacrifice is allowed.

By the way, infanticide is evil… just in case that isn’t clear anymore.

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?

The Strange Assertions of Abortion Advocates

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?

So much of the pro-abortion argument requires distortion of the language and concepts that are involved.  Why that is should be obvious.  The other day, a progressive state senator from Providence, Gayle Goldin, and Providence Journal reporter Katnerine Gregg responded to news that a judge had struck down an Iowa law restricting abortion when the baby’s heartbeat can be detected, implying that it’s a concern because it may give the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to address the question of abortion.

Think of the underlying issue.

This law that is, at the moment, arguably unconstitutional essentially states that if an unborn child is so provably unique from the mother as to have his or her own heartbeat, a doctor can’t suck out his or her brain, tear him or her limb from limb, or otherwise kill the child (presumably except to save the life of the mother).  When that’s the fact of the act, the only way to maintain support has got to be to misdirect attention some other way.

Activists at the Rhode Island State House, the other day, emphasized minorities’ access to abortion, but starting from a different perspective paints a very different picture.  Something around 8% of Rhode Island’s population is black, but they account for some 16% of abortions.  Abortion kills black babies at about twice the rate that it kills white babies in the Ocean State.

A chart from the Guttmacher Institute shows that minorities, especially black non-Hispanics, have much higher abortion rates than white non-Hispanics, yet the claim of the chart is that “lack of access to health insurance and health care plays a role, as do racism and discrimination,” in abortion rates that vary by race.   Is Guttmacher, which is associated with Planned Parenthood, suggesting that racism leads to the higher rates, or is it suggesting that, but for racism and discrimination, the United States would have even higher rates for killing black babies.

That’s what the Providence activists would seem to be suggesting when they talk about “access.”  Pursuing policies that would keep a significant portion of a minority population alive is a strange kind of bigotry.

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Governor’s Regressive Budget – The Wrong Direction?

Is the Governor’s budget pointing our state in the right direction? On Monday, I attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast hosted by the RI Ministers’ Alliance. At the breakfast, the Governor said that the country is moving backward, and that she is committed to moving RI ‘forward’ and in the opposite direction. What planet is the Governor living on?

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Governor’s Budget: The “Rhode To Serfdom”

Instead of seeking to shape Rhode Island’s future with the proven ideals of a free-society, Governor Raimondo’s proposed 2019-2020 budget is a stunning departure from America’s core values and, instead, would put our state on a “Rhode to Serfdom.”

The Governor’s regressive budget points us 180 degrees in the opposite direction of where we need to head, and would stifle any opportunity for growth.

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The Lie of That Gillette Ad

The Gillette ad going after “toxic masculinity” isn’t asking for change; it’s reasserting what most of us have thought masculinity was all about as if it’s been reinvented and handed back to us by our moral superiors.

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Charity and the Guilt of a Race

Rod Dreher has an interesting post on the balkanizing dangers of progressive anti-white rhetoric, and readers with an interest in the subject should read it.  What most caught my eye, however, was a tangential sentiment in a quotation Dreher includes from an NBC News commentary by Noah Berlatsky:

Even community service can reproduce racist ideas. It’s hard to see people as equals when you always have power over them, or when your primary experience with them involves giving them charity.

The spectacle of well-intentioned people working, half unconsciously, to solidify and perpetuate their own power is not an encouraging one. “I feel like my findings are pretty dismal,” Hagerman admits. “When you have people who have a lot of wealth alongside this racial privilege, they’re ultimately making decision that benefit their own kids, and I don’t know how you really interrupt that.”

However he arrives at it, Berlatsky’s ideology clearly gets charity wrong.

Maybe that’s a progressive versus traditionalist difference.  To a traditionalist — specifically a Christian traditionalist — we’re called to charity because we’re all equal in the eyes of God, and we’re to see God most especially in those who are suffering.  The last will be first.  If we are comfortable, we should be concerned that we have already received our reward, but when we humble ourselves, we will be elevated in Heaven.

There’s plenty of room for hypocrisy and imperfection in the actual application of this principle, but that’s the underlying view.  You owe it to the disadvantaged to help them because, ultimately, they are your equals, and what you have is an indication either that your priorities are wrong or that God has given to you so that you may help others.

The penance of progressives’ materialism is much more stern.  The obligation of the privileged is complete negation.  You don’t give to others because you are equal; you deprive yourself because you are inferior (and give to progressives, so they can profit from the redistribution of your wealth).

Actually, as Dreher explains, it would be more true to say that the altruistic progressive appears obligated mostly to express guilt and continue on with his or her privilege.  Culturally, it’s a ritual sacrifice of the less privileged of their own race for the expiation of guilt.

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Pot in Pottersville for the Profit of Political Insiders

On a Facebook page that he controls, WPRI reporter Dan McGowan has generated a good amount of discussion about Ted Nesi’s article concerning Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s plan to put the legalization of marijuana in the state budget.

We should pause a moment on the propriety of making major social changes as part of the budget process, which inevitably covers a wide range of contentious issues.  This sort of history-changing decision should be considered in its own right, not in a giant omnibus bill that buys votes from legislators for this or that other provision.

Much of the conversation on McGowan’s page, however, has had to do with concern about the use of drug legalization explicitly to raise money for government in a failing state.  That suggestion brings to mind the rationale that the General Assembly put into law for creating the state sales tax in the middle of the last century:

The recognition of the state of its obligation to grant pay increases for teachers in the manner provided in chapter 7 of title 16, to assure the maintenance of proper educational standards in the public schools, coupled with the compelling necessity for additional state aid to the several cities and towns now confronted with financial crisis, have created an increased burden on the finances of the state. To the end that adequate funds are available to the state government to enable it to meet these newly adopted obligations, without impairing the ability of the state to fulfill its existing obligations, a revision of the tax structure is unavoidable.

The money is always desperately needed, and there’s always an emotional hook, but government insiders never pay for the supposed priorities. Next will be prostitution or harder drugs, even as nanny state progressives create black markets for cigarettes, soft drinks, and firearms.

Clearly we’re in the world in which George Bailey was never born.  Let’s just change the name of the state to Rhode Island and the Pottersville Strip.

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“Choice” is Clear in Upcoming Furious Healthcare Debate

A federal judge recently ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional because the individual mandate, repealed in the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is no longer in force. Even though existing federal health-care laws will remain in effect during the appeals process, states should not panic and codify Obamacare into state law, as it is not certain how long federal subsidies will remain intact.

While the courts hear the appeals, and with Democrats winning back control of the U.S. House of Representatives largely on the health-care issue, another furious debate is about to unfold.

Democrats will probably introduce some kind of government-centric plan, while Republicans are poised to introduce their own free-enterprise solution. What we all want are simply more choices at lower net costs.

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Choosing Good Means Considering the Consequences

Some leading conservative commentators have been debating what it means to say that President Donald Trump does or does not have good character.  This point, from Roger Kimball, seems much more broadly applicable:

I think it is also worth pondering the work that Jonah [Goldberg] wants the adverb “wholly” to do in the deflationary phrase “wholly instrumental.” Any meaningful definition of good character has to involve an instrumental element. Otherwise the character in question would be impotent. This is part of what Aristotle meant, I think, when he observed that “it is our choice of good or evil that determines our character, not our opinion about good or evil.” In dismissing the connection between character and potency as “wholly instrumental” Jonah flirts with an idea of character that is unanchored to the realities of life.

The idea of character with which Goldberg flirts, according to Kimball, is a particularly progressive one.  So many policy debates, these days, wind up with those on the left wanting the government to do something as a statement of morals and those on the right pointing out that the thing that they are proposing government should do will not solve the problem and, usually, will have harmful effects, particularly on our civil rights.

I’ve actually been surprised, in the past, when intelligent, well-meaning people have responded to my observations about a foreseeable side effect of some policy by saying, “That’s not the intention at all.”  Well, I know it’s not the intention, but it is almost certainly a consequence.  If your policy will not resolve the problem it targets, and if it will have harmful side effects, and if this is reasonably foreseeable, advocates are choosing evil, in Aristotle’s construct, even though their opinions might be good.

In this light, modern liberalism is a game of hedging bets.  If you can pretend that the actual consequences of a policy are not obvious, then you can get credit for good intentions whatever may happen.  To the contrary, we have the concept of “gross negligence” in the law for a reason.  Deliberately failing to consider the consequences of your actions is not an alibi.  “How was I supposed to know” is only a defense if one really could not have known.

Character is good when a person fully considers an act and makes a choice that is good (not evil) with as much information as is available.  Whether that type of character is resident in the White House, I am not confident.  After all, choosing good because it is expedient is not necessarily an indication of good character.  However, an electorate that chooses somebody who will do good because he is forced to do good is still the more moral choice for us than a candidate who will do evil while claiming to believe that it is good.

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A Political Theory of Blogs and Social Media

I’m not sure I agree with Cal Newport’s description of the difference between blogs and social media (emphasis in original):

Blogs implement a capitalist attention market. If you want attention for your blog you have to earn it through a combination of quality, in the sense that you’re producing something valuable for your readers, and trust, in the sense that you’ve produced enough good stuff over time to establish a good reputation with the fellow bloggers whose links will help grow your audience. …

Social media, by contrast, implements a collectivist attention market, where the benefits of receiving attention are redistributed more uniformly to all users.

Not knowing Newport’s politics, I can’t say for sure, but I’d wager he’s pretty libertarian.  I say that because it would explain why he doesn’t see (in my opinion) that social media isn’t collectivist (in terms of distributing the currency of attention); it’s hyper-capitalist.  The owners have found a way to break down barriers so that more people can participate in the market, but one of those barriers, as Newport notes, is the requirement for quality.  A collectivist attention market would give the social media platforms’ managers the ability to distribute likes, follows, and replies as they thought justified, according to their own criteria.

This analogy actually raises important questions that conservatives strive to answer in contrast to more-thoroughgoing libertarians.  The higher quality and other benefits of blogs over social media represent a cultural good that was possible partly because they had barriers (to entry, to production, to audience building) that social media swept away.  The conservative question is: By what mechanisms we can balance those cultural goods against the also-good principle that everybody ought to have opportunities?

The (admittedly not very satisfying) answer seems to be the same for online content as for the economy and other broader social goods.  Basically, we have to remind each other of the value derived from an older way of doing things and make a deliberate effort to put aside seeming conveniences.  We should also develop tools that bridge some of the gap, like using RSS feeds for information rather than social media streams.  And of course, we have to make what we offer off the beaten path even more attractive.

Mostly, though, we just have to pray, and hope that less-healthy developments are fads that our society will self-correct.

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Happy New Year from the Center! How to Start Winning Conservative Victories in 2019.

Happy New Year from everyone at the Center! Do you want to start winning conservative victories in 2019? It is my view that conservatives in our state MUST boldly and relentlessly stand for the core values that have always bonded Americans together, and translate those values into kitchen-table issues that benefit families.

Our vision is based upon the core values of love of country, freedom of religion, self-sufficiency, and preservation of the individual rights granted by God to every American, as defined in our constitution.

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Merry Christmas From The Center!

Merry Christmas! Imagine Rhode Island as a more attractive home and destination of choice for families. We could be a state that offers financial security now and opportunity for prosperity in the future. We could have a policy culture where individuals and business are successful in increasing the overall wealth of our state’s economy, and enhancing the quality of life for every Rhode Islander.

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."

No Surprise If Abortion Provider Discriminates Against Pregnant Employees

The narrative is that one side of the political divide is all about tolerance and fair play and the other side is all about discrimination.  Of course, one needn’t be on the disfavored side of that teeter-totter to understand that it isn’t true:

According to new in-depth reporting from the New York Times, Planned Parenthood locations across the country have routinely discriminated against pregnant employees.

More than a dozen current and former Planned Parenthood employees told the Times that the group has been “sidelining, ousting or otherwise handicapping pregnant employees.” Women who worked for Planned Parenthood in California, Texas, North Carolina, and New York said that managers “declined to hire pregnant job candidates, refused requests by expecting mothers to take breaks and in some cases pushed them out of their jobs after they gave birth.”

The Times report also noted that the majority of Planned Parenthood locations don’t provide paid maternity leave, despite advocating paid maternity leave policies as a political-action group.

As Alexandra DeSanctis  suggests at the National Review link above, it’s not really surprising that an organization that relies so heavily on killing unborn children for its revenue and reason for being would err on the side of devaluing them and failing to accommodate the women who carry them.  The national organization “routinely imposes abortion quotas on its clinics,” and having pregnant women walking around can’t be helpful in that regard.

One also can’t help but wonder if the abortion provider has internal data on the attitudes of female employees after they’ve had children of their own.  It wouldn’t be surprising if that experience changed their perspective.

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Waning Success, Waning Congressional Influence

Well, the good news, with Rhode Island’s looming loss of a Congressional seat, is that we can’t go any lower than the minimum:

Rhode Island last had a single seat in the House in the original Congress in 1789, when the number of seats was set directly by the U.S. Constitution. Since then, under a mandate in the Constitution, the number of House seats has been determined under a complex formula approved by Congress and based on state populations. Since the 1790 census, Rhode Island has always had two seats in the House, except for two decades in the early 20th century, when a booming immigrant population earned the state three seats.

The complex formula ranks potential House seats for each state. The top 385 are awarded seats in the House. That’s in addition to the minimum of one seat that every state is guaranteed by the Constitution.

I’ll admit that my thinking has changed a little on this over the years, at least to the extent of acknowledging some complications.  Yes, Rhode Island is set to lose a Congressional seat after the next census because our local society doesn’t offer the opportunity that it should for families to grow.

Our failures have mainly been an accelerant, however.  In the long run, we simply don’t have the space to keep up with other states’ expanding populations.  My changing perspective is the understanding that it isn’t irrational for Rhode Islanders to resist a NYC-tri-state-area level of population density.

Still, losing a Congressional seat because your successful state doesn’t have room to fit more people looks very different than our current case of losing it because the state isn’t successful.  We’d all be much wealthier in the former case and have disproportionate national influence for that reason.

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