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10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 41 (Primaries and Unions)

Justin and Bob Plain pick favorites in some primaries and argue about pensions and government labor unions.

Compliant News Media Fosters Corruption

It’s almost difficult to remember what it was like, in that long era before the veil dropped during the second term of President George W. Bush, back when we actually had to debate whether the mainstream news media was biased.  It’s almost as if the MSM decided that the charade wasn’t worth maintaining back when that picture of Bush walking with a copy of Bernie Goldberg’s book, Bias, made the rounds.

After the vitriol and lies intended to destroy the Bush presidency and the cult-like madness and cover-ups to promote the Obama presidency, can there be any real doubt that, on the whole, mainstream journalists are, as Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit frequently states, Democrat operatives with bylines?

Seth Mandel suggests that media bias is central to the perhaps-destined-to-be-successful strategy of the IRS to cover up its unconstitutional, tyrannical targeting of conservative activists to help ensure the reelection of Obama:

If the latest revelations about the IRS are correct, then its officials have approached the abuse-of-power scandal with a clear strategy, pretty much from the beginning. They have been betting that, since their illegal targeting campaign against those who disagree with President Obama has had the backing of Democrats in Congress, they needed only a media strategy, not a political one. And that media strategy appears to have been: conceal or destroy potential (and actual) evidence, and assume that this activity will be less damaging than whatever is in the files they’ve worked to hide.

It’s a direct challenge to the media, in other words.

It’s not a direct challenge.  It’s an echo, a commiseration, evidence of solidarity.  After all, if the news media were willing to throw away any plausible ability to defend its objectivity in order to bring about the era of hopenchange, why should the IRS (or the rest of the federal bureaucracy) be any different?

It may be that the only two opportunities for the United States to avoid dissolution and/or nation-rending violence are for the American people finally to stop paying attention to News Media Incorporated or for those professional journalists and editors to take it as a learning experience that they were played for saps to promote a thuggish regime that embodies everything the standard liberal narrative warned against beneath a very thin veneer of the platitudes that liberals like to believe they believe in.

Clay Pell and the Coast Guard Reserves

Is it OK to have a Governor that needs to be away from his duties to fulfill his required US Coast Guard Reservist obligations?

Campaign Events at a School Near You

I just got a pre-recorded call from Clay Pell and Michelle Kwan (“Paid for by Clay Pell for Governor”) advertising a campaign event at a Middletown public school on Monday.

It makes sense, I suppose, that the hand-picked candidate of a teachers’ union would take that route.  After all, the unions are very familiar with the value of using school property and resources (such as school phone-tree announcements and handouts sent home with students) to give political activism an official feel.

I don’t know where the lines are for use of school property for political events, but this feels vaguely wrong.  If I were advising any other candidate for office, I’d suggest demanding use of the same space at the same time of day for the same length of time.

Don’t Abort a Constitutional Convention Over Scare Tactics

Government insiders want to do to the constitutional convention what they do to any opposition that comes their way — kill it before it can be born.

Judicial Objectivity When Politics Is a Job

Honestly, I’m torn about this one, although it brings me back around to the same place as much political news:

A federal magistrate judge has granted the city’s bid to delay Providence Mayor Angel Taveras’ questioning under oath in a lawsuit involving changes to the retirement system until after the upcoming primary election for candidates for governor.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond late Tuesday granted the city’s emergency motion for a protective order to postpone Taveras’ deposition in the city’s lawsuit against its former actuarial firm, Buck Consultants LLC, until after the Sept. 9 primary. Almond found, without further explanation, that the city had shown good cause to delay Taveras’ questioning and to limit it to three hours.

On its surface, this looks like further evidence supporting the common wisdom that, if you’ve got a lawsuit involving political insiders in Rhode Island, you’re best off getting  it in a federal court.  On the other hand, if the mayor weren’t the mayor, but something else, and was requesting a brief delay of judicial proceedings to the other side of a major work project on which his career hinged, that would seem reasonable in a case with no major urgency.

Of course, the mayor is the mayor, and it’s difficult not to conclude that he’s worried about the ways in which his testimony (and the opposition lawyers’ spin of it, amplified by other candidates for the office he’s seeking).  In that regard, it’s a question of transparency.  After all, his administration brought the lawsuit.

And if it’s a matter of the time preparation for the deposition will require, we shouldn’t accept the notion that government must stop operating because people in office are bucking for a promotion.

At the end of the analysis, put this one on the stack of arguments against fostering a government environment in which politics is a career.  If public office were in fact — as politicians like to claim — a question of service, then the argument for delaying the deposition pretty much evaporates.

One in Six Legislators, Employers Have Received Payments from the State

Representative Peter Palumbo isn’t the only legislator in the General Assembly whose places of business have received money from the state government. The Ocean State Current takes a look at some of the others.

A Constitutional Convention in Rhode Island; Citizen Democracy in Action

A constitutional convention could help bring an end to a state government of the special interests, by the special interests, and for the special interests.

Education Rhetoric from the Unions’ Candidate

It’s disappointing that — at least in Linda Borg’s Providence Journal presentation — none of the candidates for Rhode Island governor even mentioned support for school choice beyond the entirely intra-government variety, charter schools.  A silver lining, though, is that the teacher unions’ hand-picked candidate, Clay Pell, offered a perfect example of what he means when he rebuffs attack ads by claiming the campaign should be about ideas.

Borg places this after a question about teacher evaluations, which means either Pell skirted a direct answer or she wanted to make sure he got an irrelevant talking point toward the front of her article:

“As governor, I will provide strategic direction and strong leadership to ensure a world-class education for all Rhode Islanders. I will support our classroom educators and make sure they have the flexibility to innovate and embrace students’ creativity. I do not support a charter school system that erodes the quality and sustainability of public schools. I believe it is critical that we invest in our public schools to ensure equity and high-quality education for all students; no matter their ZIP code.”

That’s by far the longest quotation in the article, so Borg must think it’s important, yet it appears to be nearly substance-free, with respect to the policies that the candidate supports.

  • It’s nice that Pell would have a “strategic direction,” but what would it be?
  • What will he do to provide “strong leadership”?
  • How will he measure a “world-class education”?
  • What sort of “flexibility” will he ensure for teachers, and how will he make sure they aren’t abusing it?  (It was a question about evaluations, after all.)
  • Is “students’ creativity” really the singular trait of children on which schools teaching basics should focus?  What about the varying degree of creativity found among a diverse student body?
  • Does he support a charter school system that does not “[erode] the quality and sustainability of public schools”?
  • Does an “investment” that “ensure[s] equity… no matter their ZIP code” mean anything other than redistributing wealth to the union-operated schools in urban areas?

One gets the impression that Pell has memorized — like prayers — some of the meaningless, sound-good phrases that the people who’ve brought us a failing state drape over the rot of their ideas.

George Shuster: Obama’s War on We the People (Told You So)

Early indications of President Obama’s disrespect for freedom of speech have blossomed into an attack on the very fabric of our republic.

Reevaluating the Wisdom of a Constitutional Convention

I don’t know if I’ve written about it anywhere, but privately, I’ve expressed wariness of a constitutional convention.  It has seemed to me that opening up the constitution at a time when the power of opposition voices has managed to fade beyond what seemed an impossible whisper is to risk a final roll.  Partly by virtue of working on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s initial analysis of the convention, and partly owing to the growing vehemence with which people are advising each other to leave the state, I’m starting to reevaluate.

As the conclusion of the Center’s analysis says:

Although it often depends whether or not they have the advantage in a given circumstance, activists on both the left and the right see the risk of direct democracy as a general principle on which to base government.  However, for some issues, and at some points in history, letting the people make final decisions is appropriate, the best available option, or even absolutely necessary.

The Ocean State is at such a point in history, with many Rhode Islanders feeling that the solutions are as obvious as the problems are intractable.  A constitutional convention would present an opportunity to settle some of the relevant questions.

Maybe a constitutional convention could motivate the people who understand the direction in which the state needs to head before there are just too few of us left in the state to make a difference.  Maybe working around the normal, corrupted, rigged electoral system will prove that there are more of us than insiders in government and the media would have us believe.

And maybe if all of that is so much misplaced optimism, it’d be better to let the inevitable happen sooner than later.  It would be clarifying, anyway, for Rhode Islanders currently agonizing over decisions about what to do with their lives and where to live.

When We’re All a “Community,” Even a Majority Can Be Voiceless

Mickey Kaus highlights President Obama’s apparently corporatist vision of the U.S. Constitution.  Read the whole thing, but for my purposes, here are some key phrases from a comment from the president that Kaus highlights as follows:

… we have a bipartisan bill, Wendell, bipartisan agreement supported by everybody from labor to the evangelical community to law enforcement. So the argument isn’t between me and the House Republicans. It’s between the House Republicans and Senate Republicans, and House Republicans and the business community, and House Republicans and the evangelical community. I’m just one of the people they seem to disagree with on this issue. …

And in circumstances where even basic, common-sense, plain, vanilla legislation can’t pass because House Republicans consider it somehow a compromise of their principles, or giving Obama a victory, then we’ve got to take action. Otherwise, we’re not going to be making progress on the things that the American people care about.

Kaus translates an apparent argument for bypassing the people’s elected legislature, as follows:  ”Where the key interest groups of society — business, labor, religious organizations and the MSM (who else is going to anoint a bill “common sense … legislation”?) — are lined up behind a policy, then if Congress doesn’t act, the President can.”

What I find most intriguing about this theory — based on my recent education in the Rhode Island elite’s method of designating fellow insiders to represent this or that “community,” ensuring that nothing changes — is that it enables Obama to make the American people non-people… to make what may be a majority simply disappear.  At the very least, one must admit that a whole lot of Americans are very concerned about illegal immigration, want it stopped at the border and dealt with within the country, and want to reduce the total flow of people immigrating.

You can agree or disagree with all of those people, but it’s a masterwork of deception for the president to make them all disappear on his way to arguing that they shouldn’t be represented in government.  Of course, division, deception, and dehumanization are what this president and his fellow progressives do.

(Via Instapundit.)

Government Funding of Activism

This story is worth reading as a small outcropping of a massive subterranean network:

Are tax dollars being channeled through the Environmental Protection Agency to Democratic activists working in the nonprofit sector?

A comprehensive new report released Wednesday by the Republican staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee makes clear that the answer to that question is yes. The report is entitled “The chain of environmental command.”

It would be reasonable to expect that this sort of thing goes on throughout government.   For another example, I’ve noted before how the federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been funneling money to PolicyLink, a group whose previous work involved plotting to shift the United States to an economic system to the Left of European socialism.  That money stream flows not just directly from the feds, but also via grants given to lower-tier governments (including for the RhodeMap RI initiative).

Throw in the actual activism of government agencies (such as the IRS targeting of conservatives) and the taxpayer money that flows through labor unions back into activists’ and Democrats’ coffers. It’s just another indication that government in the United States no longer serves the people as its primary mission in any meaningful sense. 

Fact-Checking Sheehan’s Anti-Gist Attack

Sen. James Sheehan uses official State House channels to issue an attack on Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and winds up illustrating the mentality that teachers unions foster.

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.