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What You Are and Aren’t Allowed to Try to Change on the Left

Although some of us on the right find their viewpoints intellectually incoherent, progressives do have consistent guildelines that can help one to predict what their opinions will be on particular issues.  On matters of biology and sexuality, the guideline appears to be that any movement away from the attitudes and lifestyles that facilitated human society’s advancement through to the 1960s is good.  Consider legislation that Steve Ahlquist promotes on RI Future:

House Bill 5277, which if passed would prohibit “conversion therapy” by licensed health care professionals with respect to children under 18 years of age was popularly supported at the House Health Education and Welfare Committee meeting Wednesday evening. Conversion therapy as defined in the bill includes any practice that “seeks or purports to impose change of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, practices which attempt or purport to change behavioral expression of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or attempt or purport to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

So, to review:  Progressive legislators have submitted an extremely broad and radical bill that would prevent just about any government interference when women want to kill their babies in the womb.  The Department of Education has issued regulations authorizing schools to guide students along the path of changing their genders, even if it means deceiving their parents.

And yet, progressives want to forbid people who wish to reduce or eliminate their same-sex attractions from working with professionals who might be able to help them do that.  This is pure ideology, like a fundamentalist dogma with no tolerance for individual choices that stray from the accepted beliefs.

Not to play Internet psychotherapist, but one gets the impression that people who’ve made radical lifestyle choices want to use the law to prevent others from choosing differently if their doing so might imply that the radical choice is wrong.  As for the progressive movement, as a movement, undermining the social structures and freedoms that empower individuals in the context of their families leaves a hurting population ripe for progressive rule.

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News Flash: The Law Even Applies to People Progressives Like

Over on RI Future, Steve Ahlquist complains that, under President Donald Trump, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now detaining people for “even minor crimes.”  Here’s Ahlquist’s example:

According to sources familiar with the incident, José Eduardo Cames (the third part of his name may be misspelled) lied to immigration officials at the border when he and his wife entered the country. They carried a baby with them that was not theirs, loaned to them from another family, to make a better case for themselves to stay in the United States.

An investigation revealed the lie, but under Obama, that did not make the couple a high priority for deportation and as long as they made periodic visits to an ICE office in Warwick, they were allowed to stay in the country. At their most recent visit to the Warwick ICE offices on Friday, ICE did not let them leave and detained them, said a source familiar with the case.

In other words, the “minor crime” that the couple broke was entering the country illegally, with the added dynamic of fraud, and the agency that the federal government has created at great expense to enforce that particular area of the law is holding them, perhaps to deport them.  (Never mind that they “borrowed” a baby, as one borrows a car, perhaps with the intention that the child’s actual parents would then have an excuse to enter the country, which is arguably a form of exploitation and human trafficking.)

As I’ve written before, there are legitimately difficult cases in the immigration debate, but one gets the impression that progressives don’t actually believe that any of the cases are difficult.  Their view appears to be that we should let everybody in at the border and then let them stay (seeding the government plantation and giving progressives political leverage).

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Isn’t That Just Liberal Jurisprudence?

Not to seem too caustic and cynical (who me?), but I’m not sure what specific controversy Kate Bramson intends to highlight in this article, deriving from the broader controversy of one Rhode Island judge’s turn on the other side of the bench:

It was a Superior Court judge who brought to the attention of the District Court chief a transcript that appeared to show that District Court Judge Rafael A. Ovalles didn’t understand the legal concept of beyond a reasonable doubt.

I mean this sincerely:  In all of my dealings with and readings of people who take a liberal view of the act of judging according to the law, right up to the Supreme Court, I’ve found that text and precedence mean much less than the perceived good of what the judge wants to achieve.  After all, we can almost always count on the block of four liberal Supreme Court Justices to fall on the side that benefits the Left in any case.

So what is Ovalles’s particular legal sin, here?  Is it just that he took the next obvious step and — rather than go through the work of correctly explaining a term only to bend its meaning or ignore its implications — simply defined a term as he needed it to be defined?  That seems to me a minor difference, having more to do with showmanship than the application of the law.

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The Rigged System of Unions and Town Government

The cliché about the news media is that readers will always find reports in their own areas of expertise erroneous, and something similar applies to news reports from one’s own town:  What’s happening locally seems to prove the point of the whole broad world.

Even adjusting for that tendency, though, I have to say that Tiverton controversies are starting to feel as if we’ve come just an inch away from making it legal for town employees to walk into our homes and take our money. As I write on Tiverton Fact Check:

Such proclamations become more difficult to believe each time it appears that town employees are learning the lesson from former colleagues’ reaping the rewards of (alleged) bad behavior. We had Town Foreman Bob Martin and his pal, former Town Administrator Jim Goncalo. Last year, it was an entire shift of police officers led by overtime king Lieutenant Timothy Panell. And now it’s the fire department’s turn, with firefighter Patrick White:

The case of a firefighter who was terminated in early 2015 for allegedly abusing sick leave has been settled, with the town agreeing to pay $175,000.

That’s right. We paid him (and his union lawyer, naturally). The “neutral” arbitrator in the complaint sided with the union member.

One of the problems with settling is that neither side can claim vindication.  The institutional bias toward that sort of ambiguity, like union contracts and arbitration practices, is part of the problem.  Rhode Island has created a fundamentally dishonest system of government.

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Line Item Veto – Please Shoot An E-Mail To Your Elected Officials

The line item veto is one of several good government measures that need to come to Rhode Island. It would impart some – though certainly not excessive – balance between Rhode Island’s executive and legislative branches. (Rhode Island is notorious for a weak executive branch.) Please visit this website to quickly and easily communicate your support to our state elected officials.

More reasons to do so from the blast sent out by Ken Block, who is leading the charge on this, a couple of weeks ago.

The momentum keeps building for getting a line-item veto in RI. 2017 could be the year we get this major reform done – especially if you help.

Governor Raimondo has expressed support for the line-item veto, as has Senate President Paiva-Weed. Pressure, created by people like you sending emails like the one I am asking you to send below, is 100% responsible for putting Rhode Island on the cusp of a major government reform.

Let’s get the job done!

In less than 60 seconds, you can send an email to our elected leaders asking them to give voters a chance to say YES to the line-item veto on the 2018 ballot.

In less than 60 seconds, you can add to the pressure which will certainly yield what we all want – a better functioning government.

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Setting RI Right on Crime

For the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, I’ve posted a brief report suggesting reform to Rhode Island criminal justice system, helping families to break the cycle of crime and familial breakdown.  With my interest in how the state government functions to restrict our freedoms and perpetuate a public-sector-first business model, the most important piece is also the one least likely to generate supportive legislation:

… it isn’t surprising Rhode Island has the lowest incarceration rate in the country. It is surprising, however, that the Ocean State’s probation and parole rate is fourth highest. That, in turn, leads to a high rate of recidivism, with 52% of former prisoners re-arrested within three years.

As researchers find to be true with other government programs, Rhode Island’s cost to supervise and provide services to prisoners and parolees is high (over $58,000 per prisoner). One might conclude that the state has an institutional bias against letting go of residents once they fall within its net of supervision.

Criminal justice reform is not only the right thing to do for Rhode Island families, it’s also a good example of the bureaucratic mentality that is strangling our state.  For reforms to be sufficient, they’ll have to begin treating that attitude as the crime that it is.

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Fix-the-System Reform Means Preserving the Very Things Causing the Problems

Andy Smarick, of the American Enterprise Institute, explains how President Obama wasted a whole lot of money for zero results in education reform:

The final IES report on the SIG program is devastating to the Obama administration’s legacy. An evaluation commissioned by the US Department of Education and conducted by two highly respected research institutions delivered a crushing verdict: The program failed and failed badly.

As I’ve periodically written, fix-the-system education reforms that seek to preserve the very qualities that are causing the problem — predictable labor union incentives, central planning, the disconnect of decision making from bill paying, and a lack of direct accountability to students and parents — cannot work. We must admit this.

In any area of life except government (specifically, progressive government) it would be considered pathological to look for all sorts of complicated ways to avoid addressing the underlying problem of unhealthy behavior.  Unfortunately, the clear objective of those who do such things (specifically, progressives) is to make government do things it shouldn’t be doing, so of course perpetuating that activity becomes the irreducible factor.

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The Effect of Socialist-Friendly Policies

Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s Wall Street Journal column is eye opening:

… many Guatemalans I spoke with here last week are not dreading an anti-immigrant, protectionist Donald Trump in the White House. They’re focused on the exit of Barack Obama, whose foreign policy they saw as politicized in favor of left-wing causes and environmental extremism that harm Guatemalan development. …

The complaints extend beyond a difference of opinion about the role of the state. During the Obama years Uncle Sam repeatedly backed those who flouted the rule of law in the name of “social justice.”

Let me summarize what one might infer the Obama administration’s policy accomplished based on what O’Grady is saying.  Yes, I’m insinuating a more cohesive plan than there may have been, but it’s telling whether intentional or not:

  • One: Back corrupt groups that share Obama’s general ideology.
  • Two: Drive people out of those countries and toward America.
  • Three: Open the borders with selective border enforcement and promised benefits.
  • Four: Change the electorate of the United States (they think) in favor of the former president’s party.

If that were, in any degree, the plan, one can’t help but wonder whether it assumes too much to think people driven from their homes by leftist governments wouldn’t carry that lesson with them. It seems like there ought to be opportunity for conservatives, here, if we can figure out how to communicate on the level of core values with communities that have this sort of experience in their background.

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When the “Home-School Community” Is Separate from “the Community”

In Tiverton, the School Committee sees public education as promoting government-branded schools, not ensuring educational services that suit the needs of all of our children, as I’ve written on Tiverton Fact Check:

This distinction became clear at the January 24 meeting of the Tiverton School Committee, which introduced a new policy explicitly denying home-schooled students the opportunity to take classes — particularly technical and vocational classes — outside of the district through arrangements that Tiverton has made. Students enrolled in Tiverton schools can take such classes, even attending alternative schools full time at no cost to their families. …

The education officials in Tiverton have already decided that it is the responsibility of taxpayers to cover the tuition of students who want courses of education that they can’t get within the district. They are just applying that policy in a discriminatory way. No matter how much you may pay in taxes or contribute to the town in some other way, unless you put your children under their complete control, you are part of “the home-school community,” which is apparently separate from simply “the community.”

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Deescalation After the Left-Wing Hit

In November 2015, while progressives at the University of Missouri were busily destroying the school’s image with their fascism, I pointed out an Alinsky-style manipulation of a student journalist by religious-studies professor Richard Chip:

To me the most telling moment comes at the beginning, when a bespectacled guy who looks a little older than the average student tells photographer Tim Tai, from within the arm-linked circle of “protestors,” that the photographer “cannot push [the protestors] to move closer.”  It’s a reasonable sounding rule of engagement from somebody presenting himself as some sort of an authority figure.

A moment later, the students start pushing Tai away from the center of the circle, and he turns to the same guy with a complaint that they’re breaking the rules that he had just laid out.  The reply: “Don’t talk to me; that’s not my problem.”

The professor appeared to be an authority and articulated what sounded like fair rules, but then he only stood by the rules when it served his ideological (rather, tribal) purpose.  Something similar is in play in the video of Canadian conservative reporter Sheila Gunn Reid being punched by a left-wing thug, apparently named Dion Bews.

After the attack, a woman steps between Reid and Bews and — as the other “feminists” casually form a wall behind her and usher the violent man away from the scene — speaks in reasonable-sounding terms to “deescalate” the situation.  The clearly missing component is justice, which would have required similarly reasonable actions to keep Bews in the area for a civilized resolution when security had arrived.

As it was, Reid’s employer, The Rebel, had to offer a $1,000 reward and run a campaign to find the guy.  Whether government authorities would have taken the same pains is another question, and it depends in large part how far along they, too, are in seeing justice as a one-way street.

The lesson: When anybody (particularly a progressive) assumes a position of authority or mediator in a conflict, assume that he or she will apply justice only when it suits him or her and act accordingly.

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