Corruption News

Whitcomb: Fixing Immigration; Empty ‘Defunding’ Rhetoric; Electrifying Round Up


Sunday, September 25, 2022


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Robert Whitcomb, columnist

“I still see myself watching

from the safety of my front lawn, eyes fixed


across the street, my left hand gripping


the cold handlebars of my battered
Schwinn, the wobbly kickstand trying

to support it, my right arm cradling

the bag of groceries for my mother.’’

— From “Matadero, Riley & Company,’’ by Paul Mariani (born 1940), American poet and emeritus professor at Boston College



“To sit and look at light-filled leaves

May let us see, or seem to see,

Far backward as through clearer eyes

To what unsighted hope believes:

The blessed conviviality

That sang Creation’s seventh sunrise….’’

— From “Sabbaths,’’ by Wendell Berry (born 1934), Kentucky-based poet, essayist, environmentalist and farmer



“The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, that the ties of brotherhood  may still bind together the rich and the poor in harmonious relationship.’’

–Scottish-American steel mogul and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), in his 1889 essay “The Gospel of Wealth’’





{imaqe_2}As the migrant flood to our southern border continues, driven by violence, tyranny, poverty, and climate change, there are at least partial solutions. They will require spending a lot more money, which would be well worth it.


We need to funnel much more aid to Central America, Venezuela and Mexico via long-established nonprofit organizations (not the corrupt governments there) to reduce poverty,  mitigate crime, help monitor and defend human rights and address the local effects of climate change.  This would moderate the desperation that pushes millions to try to get into the United States.


Think of it as a kind of Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe after World War II.

It would take a while to get going.


What would help much faster is for President Biden to ask Congress – now — for far more border guards,  immigration officials, social workers and humanely run accommodations at our southern border, as well as more of such high-tech tools as drones for monitoring migrant flows and, yes, better fencing in certain areas.


For that matter, we need far more immigration officials around America to handle such things as asylum claims, whose backlog is vast, and more officials to  quickly deport migrants when appropriate wherever they’re found in our country.


The whole asylum system needs to be tightened, made much clearer and faster. And U.S. embassies and consulates in the countries whence come most of the migrants need to be expanded, including posting there immigration judges and staff to resolve claims for asylum before people make the dangerous attempt to get to our border.


It seems that too many people get into the vast U.S. via sometimes dubious asylum claims and then disappear. And we urgently need a system for organizing and formalizing the status of the millions of illegal aliens who are in the country and are far too numerous to throw them all out.


We also need to increase the punishments for enterprises employing illegal aliens, widen associated workplace monitoring, and set up rigorously overseen temporary-worker programs for some immigrants.


We know what measures would help alleviate the mess. The question is whether we have the political will to implement them.


Realistic immigration reform has been held up in Congress for decades by political posturing, ideology and economic special interests. What, for God’s sake, will get it going?





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Truck toll struck down PHOTO: file

I suppose that U.S. District Judge William Smith’s ruling that Rhode Island’s truck-toll program is unconstitutional may be appealed, but in any case, it’s too bad because user fees are generally the fairest way to get revenue to pay for infrastructure.


The judge wrote that there was  “compelling evidence that the General Assembly {in passing then-Gov. Gina Raimondo’s toll legislation} sought to {unfairly} protect local businesses with its decision to toll only Class 8+ trucks”. Those are the heavy vehicles, most of them registered out of state, that inflict the heaviest wear and tear on roads and bridges.



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Councilor Rachel Miller, leading candidate to be elected President
PHOTO: Campaign

Empty Rhetoric

As I write this, Providence City Councilor Rachel Miller, a trendy leftie, seems poised for the council to elect her their president. Ms. Miller is best known as an advocate of that rather fuzzy idea of “defunding the police” in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, in 2020.


But reality bites. The Providence Police won’t be defunded. Indeed, under the next mayor, Brett Smiley, they’re more likely to get more resources. Ms. Miller will find that for her to try to pull resources away from law enforcement would be political suicide.


Just about all voters worry a lot about crime, real and perceived.






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Ashley Kalus PHOTO: GoLocal

No, GOPQ gubernatorial candidate Ashley Kalus, Gov. Dan McKee is not responsible (with Biden) for high inflation in the state.  But she charges:


“Under Joe Biden & Dan McKee inflation is out of control. Rising food and gas prices are crushing R.I. families.”


The inflation surge is worldwide,  mostly driven by the effects of COVID and of Putin’s assault on Ukraine.  Ms. Kalus knows that, but puts out that lie anyway. On the other hand, accusing Mr. McKee of being boring might have some validity, as might be charging that he’s old.


Hit this link for a look at inflation around the world:



Electrifying News Roundup

I wonder how Newporters and tourists will respond to the sight on the horizon of 100 offshore wind turbines to be put up by Revolution Wind about 15 miles south of Little Compton. And there are other big offshore “wind farms’’ in the works south of New England. The Revolution Wind turbines will be the closest to Rhode Island.


There will be complaints from some folks who don’t want to look at them, even from a distance, but most people will get used to them fast, as they generally do with big new infrastructure. And many think that the giant turbines, of the sort that have long been spinning along the coasts of Europe, are beautiful. (Thank God the Europeans have been much more decisive than us in putting up wind farms, thus reducing their reliance on Russian fossil fuel, which is used to finance Putin’s mass murder and torture in Ukraine.)

Some yachtsmen will complain about the wind farms, saying that they’ll cramp their summer racing and cruising, as will some fishermen. But many of the latter may come to appreciate that wind-turbine supports act as reefs that attract fish.


In any event, I’m sure that some boat-owning entrepreneurial types will sell tickets to take tourists from Newport to see these things close up, with blades rotating to a height of 873 feet as they cleanly, if eerily,  generate electricity.






Connecticut has opened its first electric-car-charging operation on its stretch of Route 95 (aka the Connecticut Turnpike), at its Madison service plaza. And more are coming.






Finally, the folks at Regent tell me that its electric “Seaglider” achieved its first series of flights on Aug. 14 on Narragansett Bay, “proving its full ‘float, foil, fly’ mission—making it the first craft to take off from a controlled hydrofoil to wing-borne flight.’’


The demonstrator is a quarter-scale prototype for its 12-passenger Seaglider, Viceroy.


The company calls the Seaglider “a new category of electric vehicle that operates exclusively over the water, is the first-ever vehicle to successfully use three modes of maritime operation—floating, foiling and flying—marking a major step forward in maritime transportation.’’


Regent is now focusing on developing its “full-scale, 65-foot wingspan prototype, with human-carrying sea trials expected to begin in 2024.’’


 (No, Regent doesn’t pay me.):



REGENT Seaglider Achieves First Flight from REGENT Craft on Vimeo.



Probing Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution very seriously threatens our ecosystems.

Thus it was good to learn that the University of Rhode Island has won a $1 million contract to research the effects of this growing  and still inadequately understood pollution in the water and on land that kills wild animals and harms human health. To get some sense of how serious this problem has become, just walk on a beach.

The reputation of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography is the major reason the university won this contract.

Hit this link for an article about international plastic pollution of the ocean:






The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding a $30 million pilot program to encourage New England forest owners to help address global warming by growing bigger trees, which store more carbon and provide better wood for the building, furniture and other industries than smaller ones. The program, of course, will have the biggest impact on Maine.


The New England Climate Smart Forest Partnership Project is one of 70 department projects aimed at absorbing carbon from greenhouse-gas emissions.


This project includes “pre-commercial thinning” of trees to let the surviving trees grow larger and faster. Sounds reasonable, but this won’t please wildlife that thrives in areas that are thick with smaller trees and bushes.






This is actually good news: The government reports that while rising interest rates have sidelined many potential buyers of single-family houses, permits for construction of  multi-family housing, including rental apartments, jumped 28 percent in August from July.  Multi-family housing, because it includes apartments, is less rate-sensitive. Permits for single-family housing rose only 3.5 percent.


This should lead to a slowdown in sprawl development and provide more options for home seekers, including by making “affordable housing” more available.


That’s Entertainment

The death at 91 (by suicide) on Sept. 13 of the great Franco-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard, a giant of the “New Wave” of French directors, brought back memories from the ‘50s and ‘60s of the thrill of seeing European movies in general and French ones in particular, with their inventiveness and intimacy, and of course, with the special allure of more openness about sex and nudity than you’d find in American movies. And even just hearing another language (usually with English subtitles) was fun  in our provincial little world.






While watching the PBS series The U.S. and the Holocaust think about such things as QAnon/MAGA, Jan. 6, 2021 and Ukraine.

Hit this link:




What the Empire Did

The exit of Queen Elizabeth II has led to many complaints about British colonialism, including, among other offenses, its role in slavery (though nothing about the Africans who sold the slaves to Europeans and Americans).


But there have been only a few brave remarks about how the Brits brought generally honest and professional governance, well-functioning and generally fair legal systems,  modern transportation and other public infrastructure and public health systems, basic education and so on to its colonies, most of which were just regions , not nations, when the Brits moved in. Indeed, Britain created most of these countries.


Of course, most people don’t want to be ruled by people from far away, many of whom were, like most people in history,  racially or otherwise bigoted in varying degrees. Anyway, I’ll leave it to the readers to decide which of the Third World nations that have cast off British rule are better run now as a result.





Maybe the U.S. should join the Commonwealth of Nations, the descendent of the British Empire that’s a voluntary association of 56 nations, most of which are former British colonies. It promotes democracy and human rights and cultural and commercial ties. Useful! Of course, I write this from a former British colony.




I joined a bunch of cronies at Maria’s Cucina, the restaurant in the Italo American Club at 477 Broadway, Providence, last Thursday — delicious old-fashioned Providence!




The New York Times reports that restaurants are serving more customers very early in the evening and closing up earlier than a few years ago. Some of this change, which we see in eateries around here, too, stems from COVID-created staffing problems.

But I think a lot of it stems from an aging population, that late dining is less fashionable these days, and that you sleep better if you don’t eat late.

Here’s The Times’s story:



Textbook for Scholars of PR

Tom Bower is a long-time investigative reporter who has done a splendid job in his new book, Revenge: Meghan, Harry, and the War Between the Windsors.

While the book is focused on numerous juicy stories about the deeply narcissistic, materialistic,  pathological liar and con woman Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, and her hapless husband Harry Windsor (aka the Duke of Sussex), I found the book actually useful.

That’s because it could almost be a textbook for those studying how to do public relations, public-image creation, celebrity cultivation, damage control and so on and how to do journalism in response to it. The book will introduce you to the techniques and strategies of some of the English-speaking world’s most practiced spin doctors.

It will, of course, bring back memories of the myth creation around Harry’s pathetic mother, Princess Diana.

Robert Whitcomb is a veteran editor and writer. Among his jobs, he has served as the finance editor of the International Herald Tribune, in Paris; as a vice president and the editorial-page editor of The Providence Journal; as an editor and writer in New York for The Wall Street Journal,  and as a writer for the Boston Herald Traveler (RIP). He has written newspaper and magazine essays and news stories for many years on a very wide range of topics for numerous publications, has edited several books and movie scripts and is the co-author of among other things, Cape Wind.



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