Thursday, May 28, 2009

On the Slave Trade in RI Today (Yes I said Today)

Several people have asked Professor Donna M. Hughes of the University of Rhode Island for her opinion about the film “Happy Endings,” a documentary on Asian indoor spa-brothels located in RI, a film by Tara Hurley.  On Sunday, Professor Hughes had the opportunity to see the film in its entirety. Here are her comments.


What Do Rhode Islanders Really Believe About Gay Marriage

A couple of things happening in RI today.

Brown Taubman Center Poll:

First, the Projo’s top of the fold piece on a poll taken by Brown University’s Taubman Center for Public Policy on Rhode Islander’s views on same sex marriage.  RI is dominated by blue collar, Catholic Democrats , and unless something happened while we were sleeping, the results of this poll seems very questionable, and I hope it places very large question marks on all polls coming out of Brown.  The Projo reporters would have been wise to vet the results further.  Maybe Projo isn’t paying their reporters well enough for them to do some extra legwork because internet competition is causing them to tighten their belts?  Maybe the reporters were so enthusiastically in favor of what they wanted to hear and believe that they figured, well, after all this is BROWN.  I mean BROWN University.  It must be true.  Fallacy of Appeal to Authority.

Here’s why the poll results are specious, and from their own data. The following is from the Taubman website:

May 2009 Survey Questions and Responses

  1. Would you support or oppose a law that would allow same-sex couples to get married?
    Support 60%; Oppose 31%; DK/NA 9%
  2. Would you support or oppose a law that would allow civil unions for same-sex couples?
    Support 75%; Oppose 17%; DK/NA 8%
  3. Do you think same-sex couples should be allowed legally to marry, should be allowed legally to form civil unions but not marry, or should not be allowed to obtain legal recognition of their relationships?
    Should be allowed legally to marry 55%;
    Should be allowed legally to form civil unions but not marry 22%;
    Should not be allowed to obtain legal recognition of their relationship 15%;
    DK/NA 8%

Okay, here’s what puzzles me: In question 1, 60% support same sex couples marrying.  Yet, in question 3, 55% support same sex couples being allowed to marry.  Now why such a quick shift from the same sample of respondents?  I realize there is a margin of error, but regular people if they said “support” in question 1 would also say “should allow legally to marry” in question 3.  Right?  Even though there is a purported majority in both, the disparity of the percentage leaves one to wonder about the accuracy of all of it, if you get my drift.

Also, there is no information on where the respondent sample came from: phone calls?  door to door polling? dorm room interviews?

There is specific mention of the difference between respondents and their age group – from the report:

Younger voters support same-sex marriage at a higher levels than older voters. For example, among 18-29 year olds, 87 percent support same-sex marriage, as do 70 percent of the 30-39 year olds. Among those 60-69 years old, however, only 49 percent support same-sex marriage, and only 32 percent of those 70 and older support same-sex marriage. The survey also uncovered partisan differences in support for same-sex marriage. While 77 percent of Democrats say they support same-sex marriage, only 28 percent of Republicans do. Among independents, 56 percent said they would support a law allowing same-sex couples to marry.

What was the size of the 18-29 year old respondent sample?  How did it compare with the 60-69 year old sample? How do we not know if, of the total 593 respondents, 500 were 18-29 year old Brown students?  We don’t. 

And in RI, everyone knows that liberalism, for the most part, resides among Republicans.  Democrats, as I mentioned earlier, tend to be more conservative.  RIer’s who’ve been around know this.  So why are the results of Democrat respondents versus Republican respondents so, well, non-Rhode Island-ish?  Republicans in RI overwhelmingly against gay marriage?  No way.  Democrats overwhelmingly for?  Not possible.  This is RI, not Utah.  Something is wrong with this picture.

Frankly I therefore don’t believe these results, and neither should you all.  And here’s a couple of other reasons why too:

On the Projo website which includes this article, signed in readers could comment, and one comment caught my eye.  It read: ‘Taubman Center "polls" are always to be viewed with a jaundiced eye as the sample is largely made up of the "East Side" group.  Skewed slightly toward the "Left".’

Someone else commented that liberal university polls predicted California’s favorability to gay marriage before the recent election and prop 8 which we all know proved the opposite.  And that was during a liberal Democrat landslide.

I am a realist, and believe somewhat along the lines of Whitaker Chambers, that we’re fighting a losing battle here, and ultimately the Left will win out on this issue.  After all when political conservatives like Ted Olsen are ready to argue in favor of gay marriage, it’s time to pack it up; but for now, let’s be real about what RIer’s really think.


The Governor Race:

Secondly, the news about Arlene Violet considering a run for governor.  Now I like Arlene as an entertainer in the same way I am amused and entertained by the likes of Rush Limbaugh (she is no Rush Limbaugh of course), but I would not like a Violet governorship.  What I see brewing is a major battle among the Democrats: Lynch, Roberts, Caprio.  I see Caprio potentially winning the primary, but that remains to be seen – I am not sure Lynch will win despite his positives – he is rather obsequious and smarmy and eventually that will wear thin.  Lincoln Chafee has already indicated he’s running as an independent.  The Republicans will not put up anyone as conservative as Carcieri unfortunately, we we’ll get the likes of Violet.  So can you see a Caprio – Chafee – Violet race in November of 2010?

I won’t predict further as I usually guess wrong, but you get the picture.  Not pretty.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009


It’s Saturday night, and Memorial Day “observed” is not for a couple more days, but the cable stations are playing old war movies.  I came across the last of the HBO series “Band of Brothers” Episode 9 when they liberated a concentration camp on their way into the heart of Germany near the end of the war.  HBO did a remarkable job reenacting a true event, the incredulousness of the American Army as it discovers the heinous and criminal inhumanity of the Nazis.  On the other channel was an old 1949 movie about the Battle of the Bulge and the 101 stuck in Bastogne.  When the Germans told them they were surrounded, the commanding officer had only a one word response: “Nuts.”

Episode 9 of “Band of Brothers” was entitled “Why We Fight.”

A reminder of why we fought in past wars, and why we will fight wars in the future assuming Western Civilization lives on.  Young men have given their lives; young men will give their lives again.  As a father of a young man, I grieve bitterly with only a shadow of a sense of the cost. To those we remember this weekend:

“When they shall die, take them and cut them out in little stars and they will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

Wm. Shakespeare

Is There a “Middle Ground” on Dealing with Terrorism?

On the recent “debate” between former VP Cheney and President Obama, an analysis from Gerald F. Seib of the WSJ, an excerpt:

Mr. Obama portrayed the search for the proper strategy for handling terror suspects as a debate between those on the left who "make little allowance for the unique challenges posed by terrorism" and those on the right who argue that "anything goes" in fighting terrorism.

"And both sides may be sincere in their views, but neither side is right," he said.

Mr. Cheney would have none of it. "The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism," he said. "They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum....But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground. And half-measures keep you half-exposed."

I agree with the former VP, but you decide.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Credit for You

When one squeezes the balloon in one direction, it grows in the other.  What I suspect will happen now that the Senate has passed credit card reform legislation is that the House will surely approve some version of the bill, and it will be undoubtedly signed by the President; but ultimately it will have an effect on consumers, and not necessarily a good effect.  People will find it a lot harder to get credit, and the convenience of a credit card.  In order to counter the impositions placed upon them by this legislation, credit card companies and banks will offset the new demands by making it a lot harder for people to obtain credit cards.  This may be momentarily helpful in that Americans are credit crazy and heavily in debt right now, and perhaps it will deter bad behavior; but it will also still commerce, and a slow economy could continue for a much longer time.  When you fiddle with markets, markets tend to fiddle back.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Jack Kemp, RIP

Jack Kemp was a different kind of politician. The polar opposite of the Arlen Specter types who only want power for themselves. Kemp wanted to empower every American and probably every non-American, for that matter, by giving them the freedom and opportunity to achieve everything they yearned for. Read one commentary on his life here.

State of Tedium

I recently watched the 6 hour BBC version of the relatively recent movie “State of Play” starring Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren and Ben AffleckThe BBC version weaved an intricate plot about a member of Parliament, played by British actor David Morrissey, who was an heroic opponent against the mean ol’ right wing energy companies who were exploiting the people.  The 2 hour “American” version is about a Congressman played by Affleck – someone who has never once convinced me as an actor – set in Washington DC.  In this version, Affleck is an heroic opponent to the mean ol’ right wing private contracting “Blackwater” type outfits.

If you are a DC-afile then you might enjoy the scenery. Ben’s Chili Bowl.  Union Station.  The monuments.  Ah. 

The self-righteous and politically “aware” Affleck patronizes us with several tirades against these right wing villains who sound like, if unchecked, will one day rule not only the world, but over the entire Universe.  The writers lose all credibility here.  This kind of conservative bashing is outright tiring: banality bathed in ennui to people like me.  If I was watching this at home on DVD, this nonsense along with the watered down plot would be the point I turn off the DVD and return to “Days of Our Lives.  The writers stretch it so far that one of the obvious dirt soaked bad-guy Congressmen we find at the denouement, you had to know, was some kind of Christian right winger who takes umbrage of the Affleck character “taking the Lord’s name in vain…”  My, how hypocritical and so, so ho hum.

A couple of weeks ago, Joe Morgenstern of the WSJ picked up on the superiority of the BBC version.  Watching the two is like reading a book, then going to see the movie version.  Always a bit disappointing, and certainly over exploitive of those guys who are always the villains.  But at least the shots of downtown DC are fun to see.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

…We All Have Our Roles

From Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review,…

I’ve been travelling this week and meeting with some wonderfully good people here in Los Angeles so I haven’t kept up with every step of the back and forth Danielle got rolling. But, having read some of it, and firmly believing this Notre Dame story is a significant one for the nation and the Catholic Church and human dignity, I want to say something as a Catholic, a conservative, a pro-lifer, a citizen of the United States of America, where Barack Obama is my president.

I feel nothing beleaguered in me. I am not isolated. To be frank, I know that my Redeemer lives. So that’s that.

That’s simplified, or shorthand, at least. But it’s why [Professor] Mary Ann {Glendon] did what she did and why I love her for it. She’s operating very much in this world, but knowing she owes her ultimate trust and service to another. She loves her country, whoever the president is, and knows the importance of the processes and the institutions. Notre Dame, though, is one of those important institutions. And what is its reason for being? That question needs to be answered within, or they’re just not going to be prepared for their supposed dialogues with the most powerful and influential and arguably persuasive personality of the present moment.

I love a story Rush Limbaugh tells of being at National Review’s 50th anniversary party. I may butcher the story, but the gist of it is a beautiful young soul of a man approached him, an obviously wounded warrior in his dress best, and expressed his admiration for Rush. Rush was so moved and humbled and when he expressed an unworthiness, our young hero said, Mr. Limbaugh, we all have our roles.

That’s it. And that’s why Mary Ann did what she did. And that’s what Notre Dame needs to be meditating on (every day, and everyone). That’s what conservatives need to be doing as a movement and as individuals and individual parts. Otherwise it’s all a crapshoot. It might be any way, to some extent, but if you at least walk into every new door knowing your role there – walk in knowing what you’re about — you’ve got something to work with.

Notre Dame is a tremendous institution. But if it loses its mission, it’s for naught. That’s why Mary Ann did the right thing. As that young mom wrote Friday, addressing Notre Dame’s president:

Who draws support from your decision to honor President Obama—the young, pregnant Notre Dame woman sitting in that graduating class who wants desperately to keep her baby, or the Notre Dame man who believes that the Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is just dining-room talk?

Mary Ann joined no one in any way in questioning or demeaning the moral legitimacy of the office of the presidency or the president himself. It is precisely because Notre Dame and the president have such great responsibilities that she had to stand athwart and say thank you for the opportunity to highlight some fundamentals. I believe she couldn’t have done that on Commencement Day without doing some damage (ironically in the way Danielle suggests she has).

Mary Ann Glendon’s move had nothing to do with self-destruction, but renewal. Public fights can not be engaged in successfully without constant private work, too.


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