Politics RSS feed for this section

Gender Distractions in Leadership

Per Jessica Sparks, in the Wall Street Journal, reporting on Gallup poll results, Americans believe the country would be better governed with more women in office.  The first thing to note is the distance between the poll question and the headline.  Here’s the question:

Do you think this country would be governed better or governed worse if more [women] were in political office?

And here’s the headline (with ellipses excluding other categories of answers):

Americans Think Women… Govern Better

That’s not an accurate summary of the results.  One could believe that having more women in government office at this point in history (when they are underrepresented) would take advantage of the sexes’ complementary qualities and bring broader perspective to government. If the dominance simply flipped from men to women, then that would decrease the advantage of diversity.

I do think, however, that a question asked the way the headline implies would still find a large number of people saying “better,” rather than “worse.”

Before the summer began, and I was doubling as daytime caretaker of our newest child, I’d sometimes watch the Fox News show Outnumbered while feeding her.  (Put it in the category of simply not having interest in seeking out some other source of background noise.)

On one episode, the four women and one man (Geraldo, I think, that day) discussed exactly this question, with unanimous belief that, yes, women would govern better if they dominated our politics.  I thought then, as I think now, that such a belief is mainly a testament to the success of cultural propaganda.  From every commercial and sitcom in which the woman is a calm, collected mastermind while the man is a bumbling doofus (especially if he’s a husband) to the monomaniacal focus of variations-of-Marx college curricula, tarring “the patriarchy” with every problem in human history (and sometimes in quantum physics, too), it’d be surprising if the poll results were any different.

The increasing tilt of the propagandists helps to explain this curve, from the Gallup poll:

The size of the gaps is telling, with dramatic drops in the “govern better” category as one’s education and cultural formation was during periods of lighter progressive hegemony.  It’s also interesting that the “govern worse” percentage doesn’t go up in kind.  The real growth is in “no difference” and/or “no opinion,” which were the other two options.  This isn’t a fading patriarchy; it’s a fading of true tolerance and rationality.

Freedom as Guarantor of Justice

The story of the Obama administration, and its path toward tyranny, becomes clearer with each scandal (whether or not the media reports it objectively).

The Left’s Machine

When you see something captured this concisely, it’s worth passing along.  From a John Hinderaker post on PowerLine, about progressives’ selective desire for donor transparency:

Why are the Democrats carrying on this selective war against “dark money,” which is itself, ironically, funded almost entirely with dark money? Democrats want to be able to identify conservative donors so that the Obama administration can use federal agencies to take revenge on them; so they can try to get them fired (like Brendan Eich); and so union goons can lead busloads of demonstrators onto their lawns. When liberal ideas have to compete with conservative ideas, they consistently lose. So the Democrats want to intimidate conservative donors in order to have the political field to themselves. There is nothing noble about their selective enmity toward “dark money.”

Bingo.  There’s something of a consistent theme from progressives’ approach to constructing their beliefs to their method of constructing a movement.  They believe, for instance, that their views are simply, objectively correct.  To disagree is ideological; to agree is to acknowledge reality.  To rewrite a culture and legal system according to their progressive delusions is merely to bring out the inner truth of reality; to defend yourself, your organizations, or your society from their onslaught is to “impose” your beliefs on everybody else.

Just so, it’s just plain justice, to progressives, to have labor unions collect money from taxpayers and shuffle it to political allies.  It’s just plain advancement of society for the Obama administration to filter billions of dollars to progressive organizations as “contractors” at every level of government — federal, state, and local.  If the entire federal bureaucracy is little more than a Democrat support organization, with every indication that it has been breaking laws and destroying evidence in order to attack political opponents, then it’s just government protecting the people.  It’s simply charity when law firms donate millions in in-kind contributions to defend left-wing clients.

And it’s just natural that progressives can use control of the media and of education in political battles, while upstart conservatives are somehow cheating when they mount counter-initiatives.

I’m not suggesting that progressives should be forbidden from doing any of these things (except its laundering of government resources), but it is telling that they want to foreclose avenues to public debate that they do not dominate.

The Mission of Government Labor Unions

When Rhode Island’s government-sector labor unions — organizations that engage in politics to elect people who will negotiate employees’ contracts with kid gloves so that more taxpayer dollars can be funneled to the unions and then back into politics — came out against a constitutional convention in Rhode Island, many observers thought it might be out of concern that a surprise wave of good-government interest in the Ocean State would usher in policies that make it harder for their racket to continue.  Now, an activist group has emerged, funded almost exclusively with government-sector labor money (which is to say, with taxpayer money), and its emphasis does not fit those observers’ assumption at all:

The group has warned that such a gathering will open the door to actions that could impede women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights and rights for minorities and immigrants.

In brief: social issues, not labor issues.  The organization’s Web site lists more labor unions and also a broader array of groups, but they have a particular bent, such as the Economic Progress Institute (aka the Poverty Institute), Humanists of RI, Jobs with Justice, RI NOW, RI Pride, RI Progressive Democrats, and the Secular Coalition for Rhode Island.

It’s possible that the unions are carrying the financial weight of this organization because they don’t want a convention based on their own self interest and just feel that trumpeting the social-issues angle will stoke the public’s fears more effectively.  If that’s the case, then Rhode Islanders should question whether it’s appropriate for the labor organizations representing taxpayers’ employees to be using their money to carry far-left free riders.  Even the most strident believer in the right of workers to organize can admit that the process shouldn’t distort our system of government on so many issues that have nothing to do with contracts and working conditions.

After years of observation, however, I’d suggest that the real lesson is that labor services are just the way in which the unions raise money for themselves.  Their real mission is far-left progressive politics.  If that’s the case, union members should ask themselves whether they really to gain such tremendous benefits that it’s worth so much destruction of our rights and our society.

Steve Ahlquist, the Oppressors’ Heir

In attacking Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, Steve Ahlquist gives reason to believe he’d have been a different kind of oppressor in a different time.

When Immigration Truth Is the Friday News Dump

Friday afternoon is the day that governments across America release information that they’d like to see downplayed.  During the weekend (especially in the summer), Americans are distracted, and journalists aren’t able really to dig into a late-Friday release until Monday, at which point the news cycle has moved on.

In the collection of Friday news dumps, this is a strange one:

The data, which was dumped by the U.S. border patrol late Friday afternoon, shows that inflow of youths and children traveling without parents has doubled since 2013, to 57,525 in the nine months up to July 2014.

But the number of migrants who cross the border in so-called “family units” has spiked five-fold to 55,420, according to the border patrol’s data, which came out amid a storm of news about the shoot-down of a Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine, delays in failed U.S. nuke talks with Iran, and on Hamas’ continued war against Israel.

So why should a simple demographic fact be treated like a political liability?  It changes the image of what’s happening on the border, doesn’t it?  Firstly, it changes the image of the invasion — from a wave of lonely children traversing Mexico alone to whole communities’ taking a journey.  It could be that many of the “unaccompanied” minors were actually very much accompanied, right up to the border.

Secondly, it changes the talking point that the wave is a result of the “Buse era” Wilberforce Trafficking law that required enhanced due process for unaccompanied children from nations other than Canada and Mexico.  That talking point is disingenuous because (1) the migration of children en masse does not relate to the intent of the law, (2) the law provides plenty of room for discretion in extreme and unanticipated circumstances, and (3) the Obama Administration is hardly a stickler for the letter of the law.  But still, it’s a talking point by which Democrats and progressive activists can muddy the water and prevent honest debate.

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 37 (WJAR Gubernatorial Debates & Immigration)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the first Republican and Democrat gubernatorial debates on Channel 10, WJAR, with some emphasis on the illegal immigration crisis.

Rally Tomorrow To Oppose The Disbursing of Illegal Alien Children to Rhode Island

RIILE, Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement released the following alert this afternoon via e-mail.

Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement invites all concerned Rhode Islanders to gather tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the Smith Street side of the Rhode Island Statehouse to protest the Obama administration’s plan to disperse illegal alien minors to Rhode Island.

“Two planeloads of illegal aliens have already landed at Hanscom Air Base in Massachusetts, only 45 miles away, and Massachusetts has declined to accept them,” said Terry Gorman, president of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement. “This may be our only chance to express our concerns to Governor Chafee and to discourage him from overwhelming our state with an unknown number of additional people needing government social services.”

Governor Chafee so far denies having been asked by White House administration officials to harbor the illegal alien minors in Rhode Island.

With the ink barely dry on a new state budget, Rhode Island is clearly in a fragile economic condition. Concerning illegal aliens, there exists a thriving underground network of grayscale government policy that combines passive sanctuary, benefit compensation, and lax, selective law enforcement. Accepting an unplanned influx of undocumented, unimmunized, and unsupervised aliens of minor age – all of whom illegally crossed the United States border to gain entry and none of whom can provide for themselves – is not an acceptable course of action for any state government, but especially not Rhode Island’s.

“We are not a people lacking in compassion, but this is a practical matter of survival and the obligation we have to Rhode Island citizens. Suicide is not noble and compassionate – it’s reckless,” Gorman said.

Illegal Alien Children: Governor Chafee’s Strangely Narrow Statement

The latest regional development in the disbursement of illegal alien children from the southern border, drawn to the United States in part due to a dramatic drop in deportation of other such children over the last five+ years, is that the state of Connecticut has declined a request by the federal government to house children in the Southbury Training School.

This morning, I called Governor Chafee’s office and urged him, via a staff member, not to accept illegal alien children into the state. I was given a response that it turns out had also been given to WPRO and which Bill Haberman and John Depetro had read on the air. It was, simply,

No federal entity has reached out to the State of Rhode Island requesting assistance with housing undocumented immigrants.

My follow up question for the gentleman on Governor Chafee’s staff whom I spoke to, to preclude confusion over terms, was “or refugees” and he agreed that the statement also applied to “refugees”.

But the Governor’s statement, specific and brief as it is, leaves a couple of large loopholes. No “federal” entity has reached out to the state. Have any other entities or individuals done so? If not to request assistance with “housing” undocumented immigrants, how about “temporarily sheltering” them?

It is not pleasant to have to parse the words of one of our elected officials this way but the narrowness of the statement compels us to do so.

Much as we sympathize deeply with the plight of these children, there are huge ramifications, budgetarily and public health-wise, to any state accepting dozens or hundreds, much less thousands, of illegal alien children, even if – especially if! – it is framed as a temporary situation. It is to be hoped that Governor Chafee will act accordingly and not out of a completely misguided sense of compassion.

Mayor de Blasio’s Very Reasonable Rate

Here’s a good example of what communities across the country are facing if they look to reform public education in such a way as to achieve good results without bankrupting themselves — by Chris Bragg:

Less than a month before Mayor Bill de Blasio struck a major contract agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, gave $350,000 to a nonprofit run by de Blasio advisers, which lobbies on behalf of the mayor’s priorities, newly released records show.

The AFT’s donation, on April 9, was the largest donation to the de Blasio-affiliated nonprofit, Campaign For One New York, since it was founded after the mayor was elected last November. Its timing raises questions about the ability of outside interests to advance their agendas before the city by supporting a nonprofit close to the mayor.

Glenn Reynolds suggests, “It doesn’t raise questions, it answers them.”  But I’m not sure that the question being answered is actually whether the mayor can be bought off.  After all, teacher contracts in New York City are counted in the billions, so $350,000 would indicate a very reasonable payoff rate.

More to the point, though, as Jim Epstein indicates, the progressive de Blasio’s affection for the union doesn’t require payoffs as an explanation.  Consider the involvement of both the American Federation of Teachers and de Blasio with Democracy Alliance — a dark-money group tasked with shuffling the money of wealthy individuals and organizations (like teachers’ unions) to progressive activists.

In short, what we’re looking at is a movement that controls both sides of negotiations to take money away from the private sector and advance the cause of government control of everything… by which I mean the progressive movement’s control of everything.

Illegal Aliens and RI Social Programs: Qualifying Documentation Ranges from Strong to Alarmingly Weak

… In response to an inquiry from Ocean State Current-Anchor Rising, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services sent over several documents. One of those listed all of the documents that an applicant for social services can submit to verify citizenship qualification for those benefits.

Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 5 of 6

Part 5 of a response to Aaron Renn: What kills the entrepreneurial spirit in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island Fix a Philosophical Shift; Contra Renn, Part 2 of 6

Skepticism about Aaron Renn’s suggestions for Rhode Island. Part 2: shedding pounds by changing location or voting differently.

AFSCME Adds “Mean Girl” to Bully Reputation

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking the moral authority rests with the United Negro College Fund on this one:

A powerful government workers’ union will end its support for the United Negro College Fund after the group accepted $25 million from the conservative powerhouse Koch brothers and the college fund’s president appeared at a Koch event.

In a letter made public Thursday, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said it will no longer partner with or raise funds for the fund, known for its iconic motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

It couldn’t be clearer that the main purpose of government-sector unions is advocacy for progressive politics.  Labor services are just the way they raise money and gain power.

How many young black men and women will have their lives changed for the better by an unanticipated $25 million toward their education?  Apparently, it doesn’t matter when it comes to AFSCME’s ideological, partisan activism.  As Glenn Reynolds puts it, “The sooner [the public-sector union organizers are] all out on the streets selling pencils, the better for America.”

I wonder, by the way, if any of the local media in union-heavy and union-interested Rhode Island will carry this particular Associated Press story.  I note that it’s not in today’s Providence Journal (and doesn’t turn up in a search of the last 15 issues).  Of course, like AFSCME, the Providence Newspaper Guild is part of the AFL-CIO, so it may be unlikely that its members will think this is news fit to print, despite a proven interest in the activities of the Koch brothers… even where simply assumed.

(Here’s AFSCME president Lee Saunders’s letter.)

From 8,143 Deportations to 1,669 – Another Way the President Precipitated This Flood of UAC’s (Unaccompanied Alien Children)

Justin describes the situation on the southern border and how those children have become “political chips”.

Let’s add deportation figures, supplied by the Los Angeles Times.

The number of immigrants under 18 who were deported or turned away at ports of entry fell from 8,143 in 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, to 1,669 last year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released under a Freedom of Information Act request.

This portrait of alarming (and deliberate?) inaction become even more acute when considered in the context of rapidly rising arrivals.



According to the Border Patrol, unaccompanied children apprehensions increased from 16,067 in fiscal year (FY) 2011 to 24,481 in FY 2012 and 38,833 in FY 2013.

President Obama has used this crisis to call on Congress to

fix our immigration system once and for all

a fix that the President clearly envisions as some variation of amnesty.

But an enormous question is posed by this “fix”. How would it do anything other than exacerbate the problem of illegal immigrants – of all ages – coming here uninvited? Accordingly, how could it possibly be called a fix?

Mark Zaccaria on Issues Facing the US Senate


After his campaign announcement, Republican Senatorial candidate Mark Zaccaria answered questions posed by Anchor Rising on the subjects of:

The guiding principle and vision of American foreign policy.

Where to go on Obamacare, from where we now are.

The institutional way to deal with executive overreach.

The gulf between the elites and the people, on illegal immigration.

Mark Zaccaria Announces for Senate


Mark Zaccaria: “[Y]our taxes, your food and your housing costs are all up as a result of what the Federal Government has done, and Jack Reed has voted yes for every single one of those increases, certainly during the last couple of terms. I contend that Rhode Islanders are ready to vote no, and it’s about high time.

But they have to have a choice to be able to do that, to be able to vote for better monetary policy, or smaller government that costs less, so that it takes less money out of your pockets. You have to have that alternative on the ballot. I hope to be the face of that message to the hard-working, tax-paying men and women of Rhode Island during this campaign.

There is another way, folks. We can do that. And I will be making that point, to anyone who will listen to me, every day between now and the fourth of November…you don’t have to vote for the guy you voted for last time. In fact, it might be better if you voted for somebody new.”

Electing Cianci to Capitalize on the Image of Corruption

On his own blog, frequent commenter Dan has the novel idea that Providence should elect Buddy Cianci as mayor again in order “to follow the uber-successful sex-tape stars of reality television by leveraging its source of embarrassment into a cause celebre and tourism boon.”  I’d be interested in details about how a city could monetize such a thing… at least if the broader society is the reference point, not just insiders and a filmmaker or two.

It’s the basis for Dan’s suggestion, though, that merits serious conversation:

Reputations are fragile things, to the extent where a single bad act can overshadow a lifetime of otherwise laudable behavior. Like the perpetually struggling economies of former Soviet-bloc states, Providence has, for all practical purposes, passed the point of no return. It has missed the mark so consistently and in so many respects, that it could take generations to fill in the hole it has dug before building something positive in the space would even be possible. In the face of such an intractable position, the only rational course of action is to keep digging in the hope of striking oil.

As I’ve been saying, the possibility of a Cianci comeback is nothing so much as an indictment of Rhode Island’s political class and broader civic society, and their inability to produce leaders who don’t make voters feel as if they’re rolling the dice.  Partly, that’s a consequence of the speed at which politicians feel like they should climb the ladder:  From the current mayor of Providence, Angel Taveras, to every Republican candidate for Congress, Rhode Islanders run for the highest office that doesn’t threaten laughter, not the one in which they have the most knowledge and likelihood of accomplishing good things.

Perhaps more, however, it’s yet another indication of the state’s decline.  Most of the people who would run for office with the intention of setting things right have given up.  Either they leave, or they calculate that they’re better off staying out of the political fight.

In that regard, members of the local establishment and media who lament Cianci’s history of corruption should look in the mirror.  The state wouldn’t be in this condition if they weren’t in on it.

State GOP Endorsement Convention Results


Endorsed for Governor: Allan Fung (over Ken Block 120-46).
Endorsed for Lieutenant Governor: Catherine Taylor (over Kara Russo 134-31)
Endorsed for Attorney General: Dawson Hodgson.
Endorsed for Secretary of State: John Carlevale.
Endorsed for United States Senate: Mark Zaccaria (over Kara Russo 151-14).
Endorsed for Congressional District 1: Cormick Lynch (over Stan Tran 54-21).
Endorsed for Congressional District 2: Rhue Reis.

Brief excerpts from each endorsed candidate’s acceptance remarks are below the fold.

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 35 (Cianci and the Providence Mayoral Campaign)

Andrew and Samuel Bell discuss the Cianci effect in the Providence mayoral campaign.