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The Board of Elections’s Voice for Clerical Aristocracy

A recent tweet from retired judge, current Rhode Island Board of Elections member, and Ken Block agitator Steve Erickson inadvertently raised a critical point of difference between government insiders and (some of) the rest of us.  He insisted that a driver’s license or Social Security Number is still mandatory for voter registration in Rhode Island.  And then:

This statement so well captures progressive thinking — as if the law should be this mysterious thing that only a clerical class of lawyers can interpret, as proclaimed by an oracular order of prophetic judges.  Let’s review basic civics.

We elect representatives to pass laws with the expectation that we can hold them accountable when they do not behave in our interests.  We elect an executive under similar principles who then goes about applying the legislation in the operation of the government.  In this case, that’s the Board of Elections, as appointed by the governor.

When there is disagreement about how the law should apply to a specific circumstance, the judiciary is authorized to be the final voice on which interpretation is correct.  At that point, if the electorate doesn’t agree, they push the legislature to change the language of the law to conform with the intent of the people.

In this case, as I described in the article at the top of Erickson’s thread, the U.S. Congress required license or Social Security ID from any and all voter applicants who had been “issued” one.  After some ebb and flow, the Board of Elections decided that anybody registering for the first time in person didn’t actually need ID.

It’s that plain.

If judges have somehow interpreted the language of federal law to mean something other than what it plainly says, then they are in the wrong.  Insisting that it is somehow inappropriate for the general public to point out that the practice of the law doesn’t match the language of the law is to demand a level of trust to which no free people should consent.  Frankly, it’s disconcerting that somebody who served as a judge and now has direct authority over our democracy would be so dogmatic in his support of clerical aristocracy.


Another Data Point on the Left’s Real Understanding of Men and Women

Standing in for the honeymooning Ted Nesi, reporter Dan McGowan compiled this weekend’s Nesi’s Notes column, which includes this gem of an anecdote:

Bizarre Rhode Island story from former President Obama speechwriter David Litt, who appeared on David Axelrod’s podcast this week to plug his new memoir, “Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years.” As part of an effort to pick up a girl in 2008, Litt claims he drove with the woman from Yale University to Providence to knock on doors on the day of the presidential primary. After Obama lost – “He got thumped by Hillary in Rhode Island,” Axelrod recalled – Litt asked the woman if she wanted to drive back to New Haven with him naked. “It seemed like the Barack Obama of propositions,” Litt joked, referring to his chances of getting her to agree. For some reason, she did.

A conservative’s first reaction may be to wonder how this would be covered if it were a Republican’s speech writer telling such a “good times” story.  The topic takes another turn, though, when we remember that two other Obama communications guys — Speech Writer Jon Favreau and Spokesman Tommy Vietor — were photographed in a classic sexual-assault pose with a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton around that same time.  Asking a young woman to drive across state lines naked sure does seem to be a very Barack-Obama-campaign proposition.

In light of revelations about Weiner and Weinstein, one really must wonder just how spot-on John Ringo is in his explanation that left-wing women so loathe conservative men because they take on faith that men of the right must be even worse than the guys who give them rides to left-wing political activities and auditions for movie roles.


Government Can’t Stop Evil

Andrew Klavan hits a chord of truth, writing about the massacre in Las Vegas and the individual instances of heroism:

Like most conservatives, I was sickened by the way the left rushed to manipulate the nation’s grief and anger in an attempt to strip us of our right to defend life and liberty, a right also known as the right to bear arms. Then Mollie Hemingway said something on the Special Report panel that was so compassionate and illuminating, it cooled my outrage. “We’re pretending we’re having a debate about gun control,” Mollie said, “but we’re really having a debate about the nature of evil and whether a big enough government can contain it.” It was an observation so womanly wise that a mere news discussion couldn’t address it. The rest of the panel ignored her and the talk immediately turned to the utterly meaningless effort to ban bump stocks.

But of course, she was right: that’s exactly what we’re really talking about. The left sneers at conservatives for “doing nothing,” but conservatism understands the tragedy of the fallen world: we can only choose between freedom with evil and slavery with evil, because no government is large enough to make evil go away.

Indeed, evil will go where control exists, including government.  If the last century should have taught us anything, it was that.


How We React When We’re Outsiders

One line from Mark Patinkin’s latest Providence Journal column strikes a strange chord.  He writes about how he was a national anthem protester (in spirit, anyway) when he was young, feeling as if the United States was “a country where our voice was ignored.”  As he grew up and work took him around the world to un-free places, he came to appreciate his country more.  The NFL kneelers brought the echo of his youth back to his ears:

I remembered how I’d once felt.

And realized those kneeling today feel as I once did — that their voices are ignored by their country.

What’s curious is that those of us on the other side of the ideological divide felt a lot like that for eight long years under the reign of President Barack Obama, when the IRS and other agencies were targeting us to prevent our organizations from being able to change electoral outcomes in a sea of double standards — always against us — from the news media to the Department of Justice.

And what did we do?  We held community readings of the Declaration of Independence and read it with even more feeling each year.

I’ve never had cause to travel to the hostile countries that Patinkin has experienced, so something else must explain the difference.  It seems there’s come more fundamental distance between progressives (latter day “liberals”) and conservatives (truly “classical liberals”).

When progressives feel like “their voices are ignored by their country,” they protest the country.  Their entire attitude is that there is something wrong with the country.  When conservatives feel like the institutions of their country have turned against them, they protest that contrast to the country’s ideals.

I don’t write this to be divisive, but if you blame the country any time your side is over the line in the political tug of war, you can’t see the rest of us as countrymen of yours who’ve gotten something wrong.  You must see us as the enemy and our political victories as something more like invasion.  Otherwise, you’d see that your country isn’t ignoring you; your countrymen are just disagreeing with you.


Spinning Evidence of Climate Change Alarmism

A curious thing happens by the end of Harry Cockburn’s Independent article about scientists’ admission that they overshot the mark with their warnings of global warming a decade ago.  We start with this acknowledgment that those of us who were sneered at as “deniers” were actually right to be skeptical:

The study, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, does not play down the threat which climate change has to the environment, and maintains that major reductions in emissions must be attained.

But the findings indicate the danger may not be as acute as was previously thought.

But we end with the new spin, from University College London Professor Michael Grubb, who suggests that keeping the global increase in temperature to 1.5° Celsius “is simply incompatible with democracy.”

New calculations suggest that humanity can emit more than three times the amount of carbon than scientists had previously prescribed (as a pretense for imposing economy-changing regulations on the planet), which is great news, according to Grubb, because:

“That’s about 20 years of emissions before temperatures are likely to cross 1.5C,” Professor Allen said.

“It’s the difference between being not doable and being just doable.”

Catch the trick?  Under the previous assessments, it would already be too late to do anything about catastrophic climate change, so we might as well keep our democracy (and prosperity, I might add) through to the bitter end.  If we acknowledge that the models have been alarmist, on the other hand, there’s a chance that we just might be able to save the world.  So, there’s still a reason to hand over our freedoms to an international bureaucracy of elites.

Whether the models might still be too alarmist, we cannot yet tell, but why risk it for the petty sake of our inalienable rights as individual human beings?


The Governor’s Inappropriate Blurring of Roles with DACA Initiative

A larger percentage than I’d like of recent posts, in this space, have to do with the actions of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo, but the hits just keep on coming, as they say.

We can offer wry quips, as John Loughlin deftly did, about Raimondo’s initiative to pay the $495 filing fees of applicants for federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.  Loughlin imagines the governor paying off the minimum corporate tax for small businesses in the state as an alternative.  Put aside, though, the specific policy (and questions about why the governor wants to create more incentives for illegal immigrants to locate in Rhode Island) and look at the process.

Data point 1: As Kim Kalunian reports on WPRI, the governor announced this program with at least the trappings of her official office, holding a PR event in the State Room of the State House, at a government podium.  Additionally, in a fundraising appeal (see below), Raimondo blends this initiative with various official programs of the State of Rhode Island as if they’re of the same nature.

Data point 2: The governor’s statement notes that “the Rhode Island Foundation is coordinating contributions and making grants to community agencies that have stepped up to do this work.”

Data point 3: A fundraising appeal for the initiative that the Providence Journal’s Kathy Gregg tweeted out was sent courtesy of the PAC, Friends of Gina Raimondo.

This blurring of public and private sector is absolutely inappropriate, but it’s a regular practice of Raimondo’s.  Recall, for example, the overlapping interests of Wexford Science and Technology (of I-195 Redevelopment fame), Raimondo, the RI Foundation, and the Brookings Institute.  Or consider her “hiring” of a chief innovation officer for her cabinet one step removed from government by being housed in the RI College Foundation.

It would be one thing if the governor were merely expressing support for some private-sector initiative, but instead, she’s acting through a shadow government serving unknowable interests and a far too obvious ideology.


When Government Becomes a PR Machine

Gary Sasse asks an interesting question on Twitter regarding Kathy Gregg’s Providence Journal article about the expanding PR corps in state government:

Does the proliferation of PR folks reflect a lack of trust that civil servants can be trusted to deliver the Governor’s spin?

Although Sasse is on to something, his question is targeted a little below the critical development.  The entire nature of government information distribution has changed under Governor Gina Raimondo.  We can see this in minor controversies, like her use of unknown numbers of blue Rhode Works signs to promote her name… and efforts to hide the costs of doing so.  And as Gregg notes, we can see it in the fact that the state employees who are actually doing stuff, and are therefore better positioned to explain that stuff, are harder to reach, more often redirecting questions through the spin apparatus.

Maybe most notably, we can see the change in the behavior of department heads.  Stefan Pryor has turned the Commerce Corp. into an elaborate Raimondo promotion vehicle, and watching him talk in hearings or in interviews proves him indistinguishable from a PR flack.

Education Commissioner Ken Wagner wasn’t quite that bad on a recent Newsmakers but was notably more reliant on catch phrases and talking points, whereas his predecessors engaged much more in genuine-seeming conversation during such appearances.  Deborah Gist, for example, always gave the impression of “I know what you’re asking, and I’m going to answer your question to the best of my ability.”  Wagner’s impression is more like “I know what you’re asking, but I’m going to pretend that I don’t, or that these fancy phrases actually answer your question.”  (I’ll probably have more to say on this for my Last Impressions podcast, Friday.)

Basically, it used to be that the PR folks were the professionals tasked with conveying the thoughts and intentions of elected and appointed officials and doing a little bit to promote government initiatives, while the other professionals were there to do and explain their work.  The big change under Raimondo is that she’s attempting to steer the whole ship of state toward the task of marketing.


The Madness That Lies Ahead with the Erasure of Gender

Don’t blink as you react to news that British identity politics has advanced to such a state that a convicted multiple rapist has been moved to a female-only prison upon declaring that he identifies as a woman.  We can be sure that if you do blink, the progressive narrative will have advanced to the point that you’ll only be allowed to have one opinion.  Whatever we’re permitted to say, we should take Brendan O’Neill’s warning, written for Spiked, to heart:

This strange urge of trans activists and commentators to accord more sympathy to Ponting than to women prisoners — to argue the corner of a rapist rather than women — speaks volumes about how unhinged the trans ideology has become. Or rather how abjectly unwilling society is to withstand this ideology and to tell its believers that they are wrong. In the treatment of Ponting’s belief that he is a woman as more important than the concerns of hundreds of actual women, we see in extreme form the extent to which society is now expected to bow before the narcissistic individual and his or her demands for recognition; to validate every identity, even where that identity is self-evidently irrational.

And where this expectation of validation is annoying and sometimes illiberal in everyday life — such as when student officials pressure people to use pronouns like ‘ze’ or when feminists are harassed online for saying men cannot become women — in the case of prisons it becomes positively dangerous. A society that cannot say even to a man convicted of rape, ‘You are not a woman’, is a society that has truly lost the moral plot. It is a society that has left the realm of reason and objectivity for the unbalanced, unpredictable and plain dangerous terrain of post-modernism, in which what an individual feels counts for more than what others know to be true.

Progressives with no sense of boundaries or rational understanding that they are, indeed, seeking radical ends are at least doing us the service of rushing right to their ludicrous conclusions before society has been drawn along the “that will never happen” path.


Rhode Islanders’ Nostalgia

In the context of a general melancholy feeling among some about the closing of Benny’s, Ted Nesi expressed an interesting thought on Twitter:

It is amazing that the PawSox have had so little ability to capitalize on sentiment in a state as nostalgic as RI

That does seem curious, but on the other hand, people’s nostalgia for Benny’s didn’t lead them to forgo the conveniences and prices of Amazon or even other local retailers and shop there more often.

The reality is probably something more like this:  Only a segment of Rhode Islanders are actually all that nostalgic, or rather, all that nostalgic about a particular institution, and one would expect the sorts of people who participate in public life and news media (as producers or consumers) to be especially interested in local details.

That’s true everywhere, of course.  Perhaps what makes it seem more prominent in Rhode Island — apart from the state’s size and general quirkiness — is a social comfort with letting relatively small segments use government to impose their interests.  That is, whereas most people in Rhode Island (or anywhere else) will observe a departing institution and give it little more than the thought, “Huh; the world changes,” Rhode Island has a high proportion of people who feel like somebody ought to do something to make the world exactly as they want it (probably at public expense).


You Will Be Made to Conform

If you need any evidence that progressive organizations like the Rhode Island ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Rhode Island Working Families, and the State Council of Churches have no intention of leaving any room whatsoever for people to hold different beliefs than theirs, consider that they are working to have the Rhode Island Department of Education to make mandatory its guidance on transgender students.  Apparently, one-quarter of Rhode Island schools have yet to implement a “comprehensive policy,” and that’s just not acceptable to the Conform Now crowd.

Mind you that these schools may follow the progressives’ beliefs in every detail without having formalized policies.  Moreover, they may have had no reason to make this a pressing issue that demands distraction from other priorities (such as overcoming the state’s abysmal record for educating children).

More importantly, keep in mind how radical, oppressive, and intrusive the “guidance” actually is.   Not only does the state Department of Education call for schools to impose reeducation on any students who might be uncomfortable with transgenderism in bathrooms and changing areas, but it actively encourages teachers to attempt to discern the beginnings of transgender feelings in students and to draw those feelings out, working to hide the process from parents if the government-run schools think that the parents might not agree.

The basic promise of the American system is that everybody has a right to form their own beliefs about life and reality and to live under a system of government that respects those beliefs.  Progressives only partially agree.  To them, you’re free to hold any belief… as long as they agree with it.


“Principles” Do Seem to Have Selective Application

I wouldn’t 100% endorse Kurt Schlichter’s criticism of national Republicans, but he articulates a feeling that a great number of conservatives around the country surely share:

Yeah, so after nearly two years of tiresome finger-wagging about “the Rule of Law” and how we need to put our “principles” above our desire for “winning,” the whole sordid scam we always knew it always was is revealed for the world to see. They can’t hide it anymore and they aren’t even trying. Their glorious “conservative principles” aren’t principles at all but a skeevy ploy designed to tie our hands and keep us from pursuing policy goals our establishment coalition partners disfavor. They want open borders. They want illegals. They want cheap foreign labor that doesn’t get uppity to man their donors’ corporations so the Captains of Crony Capitalism don’t have to fuss with American workers who won’t tolerate being treated like chattel. Yeah, “we’re better than that” all right – if you mean that we are better than enforcing the laws the American people passed through a constitutional process if the ruling class decides it doesn’t like them.

One aspect that Schlichter leaves out is the role that the national Democrats are playing by being so radical.  In the absence of a plausible alternative for either party, the power of voters loses out in the balance against the power of moneyed special interests.

Whatever the case, this isn’t a healthy development.


Does an Ideological Discipline Deserve the Suffix, “-ologist”?

In a co-written article for City Journal, John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi make an important observation that applies much more broadly than just to the field of study that forms their topic, criminology:

Walter Miller, one of the few mid-twentieth-century criminologists whose work was unapologetically conservative, suggested that ideology can turn “plausibility into ironclad certainty . . . conditional belief into ardent conviction . . . and reasoned advocate into the implacable zealot.” When shared beliefs take hold, as they often do in the academic bubble in which most criminologists live, ideological assumptions about crime and criminals can “take the form of the sacred and inviolable dogma of the one true faith, the questioning of which is heresy, and the opposing of which is profoundly evil.” …

Liberal political values can shape and distort the research that criminologists do and the public positions that they take. Lee Ellis and Anthony Walsh surveyed several hundred criminologists and found that self-reported ideological perspective was strongly associated with the type of theory that the scholar most often advocated, with liberal criminologists primarily supporting theories that locate the causes of crime in social and economic deprivation. Coauthor John Wright has recently collected data showing that political ideology predicts almost perfectly the policy positions of criminologists. On issues ranging from gun control to capital punishment to three-strikes laws, liberal criminologists showed almost no variation in their beliefs. (Needless to say, they dislike guns, oppose punitive sentences, and vehemently object to the death penalty.)

As an aside, consider how telling is the list of positions in that closing parenthetical.  The liberal criminologists, don’t tend to believe in putting people where they can’t inflict crime on society for extended periods, but they’d like to permanently limit all of our freedoms when it comes to the weapons that criminals sometimes use, thus making our entire society a little bit more jail-like.

More to the point, though, it’s difficult not to be suspicious when some discipline of academics — some “-ology” — begins to behave as if there’s really very little debate to be had about practical political issues, and that the public’s popular leanings are wrong.


Beware the Endgame of Diversity Quotas

John Tierney posted something galling on Instapundit:

Affirmative-action hiring endangers the FDNY. One female recruit failed the entrance exam six times but was hired anyway to satisfy a court-ordered quota system. The goal in hiring firefighters, one judge opined, should not be to identify “those who are strongest or fastest.” Sure, a few victims might not be rescued in time, but think how empowered the new recruits will feel.

The linked City Journal article by Bob McManus is worth a read in full.  He contends that policies like affirmative action or the “ban the box” insistence that criminal records should not be considered are founded simply on lies.

Common sense is still common enough, in the United States, that most folks will probably come to the conclusion that any job for which meeting ideological gender, race, or other quotas can be a higher priority than demonstrable ability to do the job in the first place must not be very important.  Perhaps folks will come to different conclusions about different jobs, but can we agree that any physically demanding job in which people’s lives are on the line should demand a higher priority on ability than demographics?


Reality Reasserting Itself… for Some

Frank Somerville, an anchor for KTVU news in California, has declined the mainstream veil of silence on the nature of Antifa.  After visiting the “anti-hate protest” in Berkeley, he wrote:

I walked away stunned. I grew up in Berkeley. I marched in anti-war protests during the sixties. It’s one thing to read about hate. It’s another thing to be right next to it. In my opinion, these people dressed in black are just as hateful and intolerant as the people they are protesting against.

Afterward I was talking to several other protesters (not dressed in black). One of them actually stood up for me as the people dressed in black were threatening me. I was touched. They were just as disappointed as I was. They said that the people dressed in black represent a small minority and that they “hijack” the protests.

I can’t help but contrast, however, the insistence that this represents “a small minority” “hijacking” protests with the treatment of the Tea Party.  The conservatives didn’t even have “a small minority” hurting people and breaking things, and they received no credit for it.  Rather, the news media slandered the entire movement and yawned away a “non-scandal” as the Obama Administration’s IRS targeted such groups to disrupt their political advocacy and harass them.

(Curious, isn’t it, that the “small minority” of vicious masked thugs is on the same ideological side as the administration that corrupted government into dictatorial behavior.  It seems almost like a coordinated effort to undermine our system of government.)

As the new saying goes, that’s a big part of why you got Trump.


Obscuring Reality One Headline at a Time

The dishonesty of reporting about Antifa has been something to behold, even down to the local level of the Newport Daily News.  On Monday, the paper carried an AP story about violence in Berkeley on page A2 with the headline, “Berkeley protest against hate turns violent as left, right clash.”  Here’s the first paragraph:

Black-clad anarchists on Sunday stormed into what had been a largely peaceful Berkeley protest against hate and attacked at least four people, including the leader of a politically conservative group who canceled an event a day earlier in San Francisco because of fears violence could break out.

Two notes:  The headline makes it sound as if there were two groups of substantial size fighting.  That’s a “clash.”  When one group arrives and assaults the other, that’s an “attack.”  Catch, also, the qualifier that the “protest against hate” had only been “largely peaceful.”  In other words, what Berkeley saw was a very violent subgroup enter into a larger — ideologically sympathetic — group that was already engaging in some violence and the now-larger mob attacking the actually peaceful protesters with which the mob disagrees.

Here’s video of Arthur Christopher Schaper, who occasionally submits essays to the Ocean State Current, being chased by a mob and then spat upon.  Now, Arthur’s more of a provocateur than I am, but journalists across the country should begin considering whether they really want to further a narrative that compounds the injustice to those attacked by left-wing mobs by denying the reality of the attack.


Being Colonized by Our Betters

This pair of paragraphs from Rod Dreher on The American Conservative invites an interesting analysis of the nature of our country’s political and social division:

Starting in the 1960s, writes [political scientist Samuel] Huntington, “deconstructionists” of national identity encouraged “individuals were defined by their group membership, not common nationality.” Pushing identity politics was a time-tested strategy for colonialist regimes, for the sake of dividing and conquering subject peoples. But the governments of nation-states instead focused on uniting their disparate peoples. (Indeed, the Civil Rights Movement was about compelling the white majority to extend the promises of the Constitution and the Creed to black Americans — in other words, to fully unite them to the whole.)

Huntington says that this did not start from below, but was imposed from the top, by American political, legal, and cultural elites. He writes, “These efforts by a nation’s leaders to deconstruct the nation they governed were, quite possibly, without precedent in human history.”

In essence, our elites are colonizing us.  If that’s unique, it’s because the American project was unique.  Our would-be aristocracy has just taken some time to find the right formula, for government to grow, and for technology to advance.  The aristocrats have developed as a subculture, isolated and different from the masses of Americans, even if they didn’t have to travel an ocean to get to us.

This development is not without its irony.  During the reign of President Obama, some observers (notably Dinesh D’Sousa) characterized the president’s ideology largely in terms of its anti-colonialism.  One might fairly opine that the anti-colonialism of the leftist likes of Obama is superficial; the notion of colonizing per se isn’t what offends them, but rather that Western civilization did the colonizing.

This antipathy isn’t principled or genuine, as the pop-culture-loving, golf-playing Obama proved, but simply forms the basis for a rationalization to deprive others of their rights and to undermine the greatest country in human history for their own personal aggrandizement and advantage.


Conservatism and Liberalism on Economic and Social Scales

For years, we’ve heard politicians and other political actors promote themselves as “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative.”  (Let’s call it the “soli-fico” position.)  Nationally, this impulse has seemed to be driven (at least in part) by donors.  Business elites are more likely to fall in that category, and the Koch Brothers were notable funders of the right with a libertarian mandate.

Recently those who’ve tried to remain at least palatable to the soli-fico advocates have been reconsidering.  On principled grounds, soli-fico is maybe the most cold of philosophies, leaving vulnerable people lacking the protections of both government intervention and social stability.  Once soli-ficos could claim that getting government out of the way would let society address cultural issues, but after many libertarians embraced the use of government — mainly the courts — to redefine marriage nationwide and then proved, at best, ineffective in keeping at bay early persecution of objecting Christian businesses, that balance proved illusory.

On financial grounds, the right has many donors who are not socially conservative, and they were arguably under-served during the soli-fico years.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, F.H. Buckley highlights a study reinforcing this recent turn:

Most Hillary Clinton voters were deeply liberal on both [the economic and the social] axes. The surprise was the Trump voters, who were very conservative on social issues but moderate on economic ones. By Mr. Drutman’s count, 73% of all voters were left of center on economics. Most of the remaining Trump supporters were quite moderate on economic questions. …

While the great majority of voters were liberal on economic issues, a small majority (52%) were social conservatives at the top of the diagram, enough to swing the election to Mr. Trump. Only 3.8% of voters were libertarians in the lower-right quadrant, socially liberal and economically conservative. They split their votes evenly between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton.

The scatterplot that Buckley reproduces and other charts from the study are worth reviewing.  Soli-fico voters make up just 4% of the electorate.  Moreover, the opportunity for social conservatives to win over voters by explaining why their policies will accomplish the same goals as economic liberalism is greater than the opportunity for social liberals to win over economic conservatives.


Fung in for Governor

Citing the inspiration of Governor Baker in Massachusetts, Allan Fung tells the Tiverton Republicans he is running for governor again.

He cites problems with our governor and the General Assembly and the flight of younger families and has plenty of material to cite in criticizing the incumbent.

He cast eyes to New Hampshire and its lower capita budget and promised to propose tax cuts, mentioning the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity and the elimination or big cut to the sales tax. (Of course, he’s aware that I’m here.)

[caption id="attachment_28215" align="alignnone" width="300"]Allan Fung Speaking at Li'l Bear Lounge in Tiverton Allan Fung Speaking at Li’l Bear Lounge in Tiverton[/caption]

“Base Amoralism” Across the Progressive Left

I read this opinion piece by Dinesh D’Souza when he first published it, but something in particular stands out to me, now.

In it, D’Souza quotes from a 1998 interview with progressive megadonor George Soros in which the wealthy investor describes his experience pretending to be Christian under Nazi rule and going out to help confiscate the property of his fellow Jews.  Soros says he felt no guilt at all, because he couldn’t stop their property from being confiscated, so he might as well be on the side of the dictator.  D’Souza writes:

Soros reflects the type of base amoralism that is more characteristic of fascism and Nazism than of the forces that defeated fascism and Nazism. His anti-fascist pose camouflages deep affinities between Soros and the Nazis, in the same way that antifascist groups today closely resemble the Blackshirts of fascist Italy and the Brownshirts of Nazi Germany.  Soros and the left’s self-styled antifascism is a fraud because there are no fascists they are fighting.  The only fascism that is recognizable in their actions is their own.

“Base amoralism.”  Recall my post from last Monday about a Princeton philosophy professor’s belief that an unborn child whom we know is going to die (because the mother is certain to have an abortion) is “a very different kind of entity” than an unborn child whose mother is likely to bring him or her to term.

This sort of thinking pervades the Left because it makes every moral decision contingent and every issue about power — about being the one with the power to make decisions about who is deserving of life and rights.  That’s why progressives are so prone to excusing the bad behavior of their co-religionists (progressivism being a religion) based on their intentions.

In 2003, I wrote a series of essays after reading Frank Tipler’s Omega Point, and in one, I pointed out that Tipler’s promise of a god of man’s creation at the end of the universe would be prone to washing away the ethical protections of those who opposed such a project.  The same applies to the progressive god of government: Opposition is evidence that one’s intentions are bad, a disqualification for rights.