Change the fate of our state with Anchor Rising support!

By Justin Katz | July 23, 2021 |
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An explosion of light

News across Rhode Island — related to state and local government, the news media, social developments, and more — has a consistent underlying theme:  Our state has taken a bad turn, and those striving to correct it are struggling to gain a foothold.

We can save the Ocean State!  People still have their consciences and common sense.  Humanity can still tell right from wrong.

The silver lining of clouds as dark as those that hover over the forces of freedom and civil rights in Rhode Island is that every little flash of light is amplified in the difference it can make.  The difference between a unified mob shouting, “Go!,” and a crowd in which one person stands up to say, “Hold on.,” can change the world.

That’s a difference Anchor Rising can make, but we need your help, and the silver lining applies to you, too.

Every donation is worth many times its cost as encouragement to keep going.  It won’t take much to make expanded research and reporting possible.  Then, it won’t take much more than that to begin bringing more hands on deck.  As we grow, political insiders will find it harder and harder to brush us off.

The Internet is still an open field in which it is possible for us to be heard.  As we speak, others will be encouraged to do the same.  We can change the fate of our state!

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Featured image by Casey Horner on Unsplash.

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At this point, just assume that every company and organization is out to indoctrinate your children.

By Justin Katz | July 23, 2021 |
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Hasbro building on a red sky

In recent years, one worrisome question as political stories have unfolded has been:  Where are the whistleblowers?

James O’Keefe has found another one for Project Veritas.  David Johnson is a packaging contractor with Rhode Island–based toy company Hasbro, who is also a Black man, and couldn’t watch the company go down the path of using packaging to manipulate children toward critical race theory (CRT) without saying something.

As encouraging as the emergence of another whistleblower may be, we have to be aware of how the debate is framed, because progressive manipulation of language can back us into unexpected corners.  Consider this:

Katie Ishizuka, one of the “Conscious Kids” co-founders that trained Hasbro employees, was recorded explaining how young children are prone to racist behavior.

“By three to six months, babies are beginning to notice and already express preference by race,” Ishizuka said.

“[Babies] as young as two are already using race to reason about people’s behaviors. We may see this play out in daycare or on the playground — and how kids are starting to choose or exclude playmates and friends,” she said.

“It’s absurd to just state as fact that at two years old, children are going to be racist and using race to reason about who they’re going to play with,” Johnson said to O’Keefe in response to the recording.

Note that Johnson’s objection is to Ishizuka’s assessment of toddlers’ race consciousness, not to the toy company’s assumption that it should be using its influence to indoctrinate children as an end-run around their parents.

Most of us will agree that reducing racism and bigotry is an important goal, but the fight over critical race theory (CRT) shows that agreeing to that goal can be corrupted into assent to teaching bigotry of a different kind.  Moreover, wokeness isn’t limited to race.

Some years back, my daughters somehow wound up with a toy guitar branded with characters from the movie, Frozen.  On the guitar, the two female lead characters gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes.  Anyone who knows the story knows they’re sisters, but the gaze was decidedly not sisterly, suggesting the goal may have been to imprint onto children’s mind the idea of women looking at each other in that way.  Take a short spin through television shows and magazines targeted at teens and tweens, and you’ll see active promotion of alternative sexual behavior.  On a recent visit to a children’s hospital, I noticed the plexiglass along the check-in counter decorated with “pride” flags representing a dozen different sexual preferences (from asexual to pansexual).  Whatever one’s views on the matter, it should be possible to see how questionably aggressive that is in such a place.

Worse, however, is that the ideological fashion of today will not be the ideological fashion of tomorrow.  Discarding boundaries that help us live together while respecting our genuine diversity is a bigger decision than promoting any one cause.  We used to understand that, back when we were a liberal society.  Now that we’re becoming progressive, boundaries and rules are collapsing.

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GoFundMe’s bigotry has become so predictable.

By Justin Katz | July 23, 2021 |
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GoFundMe Campaign Not Found

Speaking with John DePetro this week, I suggested that competing GoFundMe campaigns around the controversy on Sayles Street in Providence showed a healthy social response to cancel culture and institutional biases.  I did predict, however, by way of noting it as something to keep an eye out for, that GoFundMe would cancel one campaign and not the other, with the cancelled one (obviously) being the one showing support for the police officer.

Well, that didn’t take long.

Yesterday, folks began to notice that the fundraiser supporting suspended Officer Patrick Hourahan — which had exceeded $20,000 by Tuesday morning — had been removed from the site.  Brian Amaral of the Boston Globe posted the following statement from GoFundMe on his Twitter stream:

Thanks so much for reaching out to our team, Brian.

I can confirm that the fundraiser for Officer Hourahan was removed from the platform because it violated GoFundMe Terms of Service, and all donors are being refunded.

You can find the terms of service here:  https://www.gofundme.com/terms.

The general reference to the terms of service is no help, especially because it includes a provision banning “User Content or reflecting behavior that we deem, in our sole discretion, to be an abuse of power or in support of hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, serious disabilities or diseases.”  So, basically, if you’re not left-wing enough, you violate their terms.

As of Tuesday morning, Hourahan’s fundraiser had 361 donations, compared with 252 for the family at the center of the household feud and police response.  The competing totals were over $20,000 for the former versus $14,000 for the latter, which had been up much longer.  The officer’s campaign also had a slightly smaller average donation, $56.14 versus $57.19, the biggest donations were not as high, meaning that it was a grassroots movement, not a political statement by a few big donors.

The lesson is simple:  don’t ever use GoFundMe, because the company believes a large number of Americans (probably an actual majority) are beyond the pale and should not be able to offer support to each other.

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Turning students into trend-following activists is not evidence of civics “proficiency.”

By Justin Katz | July 23, 2021 |
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"Injustice Won't Be Postponed" sign

The headline over Alexa Gagosz’s Boston Globe article is misleading: “Civics proficiency now a requirement for all Rhode Island public school graduates.” Just look:

… this new law does not necessarily require that students take a separate civics course or civics exam. Instead, individual school districts will determine how their students can “demonstrate proficiency” because according to lawmakers, many “aspects of civics” are already incorporated into other subjects’ curricula.

The new law also requires that students complete at least one student-led civics project in either middle or high school. The project could be individual, group, or class-wide and is designed to show the student’s ability to reason, make logical arguments using evidence, and understand the connections between federal, state, and local policies.

Class time could be spent designing and executing a plan to advocate for (say) bigger school budgets, and the district could give every student in the class credit for the project and meeting the requirement.  Meanwhile, this legislation would do nothing to remedy Rhode Island’s statewide F in the teaching of civics and U.S. history.

Those who engage in local and state government and politics should prepare themselves to be inundated with youth activism (directed by self-interested adults in the school system) with all its characteristic overzealousness, unreasonableness, emotionalism, and disregard of consequences.  Consider state Representative Patricia Morgan’s description of the hearing for her bill on the teaching of “divisive concepts.”  Progressive activists (including Barrington teachers) succeeded in getting enough people to testify (even to say things like “I’m only doing this because my teacher told me to”) that Morgan’s experts were limited to one minute of speaking time.  Why should adults bother, if that becomes the case?

That dynamic will soon flood every level of government in the state on a broader array of issues.  In my years of reading legislation, I don’t know that I’ve seen a single bill that has had more potential to make Rhode Island worse than this one.

 

Featured image by Taylor Turtle on Unsplash.

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Those who control the Census count control the relative power of each state and the direction of the country.

By Justin Katz | July 22, 2021 |
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U.S. Capitol Building

The link may be a little stale, at this point, but no local mainstream sources that I’ve seen have reported the suspicious revisions of the U.S. Census count, despite the obvious interest to Rhode Island, so it’s worth a mention.  Here’s Stephen Moore, writing in Rasmussen Reports:

There is something very fishy about the new 2020 Census Bureau data determining which states picked up seats and which states lost seats.

Most all of the revisions to the original estimates have moved in one direction: Population gains were added to blue states, and population losses were subtracted from red states. The December revisions in population estimates under the Biden Census Bureau added some 2.5 million blue-state residents and subtracted more than 500,000 red-state residents. These population estimates determine how many electoral votes each state receives for presidential elections and the number of congressional seats in each state.

Is this a mere coincidence?

There are a lot of ways to game these numbers, especially because they include illegal immigrants, and one should assume that people in government attempt to put their thumbs on every scale they can and always have.  This matters even more now because of our current situation.

Most notably, political margins are razor thin.  A little bit of apportionment magic here and there can flip the entire governance of our country from one party to the other.

This fact is exacerbated by the reality that the parties are becoming less ideologically diverse internally, especially among Democrats.  Thus, manipulation of the system in favor of one party isn’t merely a way to partisan advantage.  Partisans can be increasingly confident in conformity from those who are elected as a result.

While the cause and effect aren’t clear, this trend coincides with the persistent ideological divide among the people.  The parties are aligning more precisely with ideology, which again means that all of the boring technical details of governance become avenues to culture war victory.

Finally, government is just so big and pervasive.  Handing out checks.  Making and breaking entire industries.  Banning language.  Redefining bedrock cultural institutions.

Disguising the population losses of New York and California, as well as the population gains of Texas and Florida, isn’t just the difference of which party gets the upper hand in Congressional negotiations (with a field of diverse members who force compromise even before the aisle is crossed).  It’s the difference between imposing an ideological program on the country and preserving citizens’ liberties… for a decade.

Whether or not this makes the argument that the Census was manipulated, it certainly makes the case that we must keep in mind that it very well may have been.

 

Featured image by ElevenPhotographs on Unsplash.

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A local charter can never be clear enough to thwart local officials with no respect for their community.

By Justin Katz | July 22, 2021 |
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Tiverton Town Hall

On Tiverton Fact Check, I’ve posted an update on efforts to block residents from putting budget proposals on the ballot of our financial town referendum.  The upshot is that it’s not good.

In the course of declining to intervene and force the Board of Canvassers to reverse its refusal to allow voters to consider other options than the town’s original proposal, Superior Court Judge Brian Van Couyghen took an ax to the rules as the people who wrote the charter intended them and as they’ve been enforced since the referendum was created more than a decade ago.

Ever since the day the people of Tiverton overwhelmingly voted to add the financial town referendum (FTR) to our home rule charter, local insiders have been striving to change or stop it.  Christopher Cotta, who was then the Budget Committee chairman, went so far as to attend a General Assembly committee hearing to beg legislators not to allow voters to have their way.  (Legislators’ passing of home rule charter amendments is typically done simply as a matter of course.)

In 2018, the town council blew off all suggested charter changes by the elected Charter Review Commission and substituted their own desires on the ballot, including changes giving them a stronger hand in the FTR.  Voters rejected every change.

But with Cotta as town administrator and Denise deMedeiros sitting as the Town Council president, Tiverton’s town solicitor, Michael Marcello (who is a former state representative and a member of the town council in his hometown of Scituate), found a way to change the charter without requiring a vote of the people.

But every situation comes with positive opportunities, and in this case perhaps it will be possible to reset some of the hostility in town by redrawing political lines between those who agree that rules are meant to help us work together, not to give government a way to leverage its limitless legal budget to thwart electors’ attempts to be involved.

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State of the State: Critical Race Theory in Public Schools

By Richard August | July 21, 2021 |
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Patricia Morgan and Richard August on State of the State

Critical Race Theory in Public Schools from John Carlevale on Vimeo.

The teaching of Critical Race Theory has been introduced into several Rhode Island public schools. Some people are advocates and some are not, in fact they oppose the teaching of CRT in our public schools. In this interview Representative Patricia Morgan explains the oppositional position. For more information visit the following website StopSchoolIndoctrinationNow.com.

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Advocacy Solutions took one for the insider team in South Kingstown.

By Justin Katz | July 21, 2021 |
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South Kingstown schools logo

The South Kingstown school department has provided Anchor Rising with a little bit more detail on the hiring of a PR firm to handle the matter of local mom Nicole Solas (and to criticize her):

Then Chair and School Committee member Emily Cummiskey reached out to the District’s legal counsel, wanting to quickly respond to a Fox News inquiry requesting comment on deadline on June 1, 2021. Legal counsel connected the then Chair with Advocacy Solutions in Providence, RI, as legal was familiar with their work locally. Because there was no School Committee approval, and because the entire School Committee did not review the statement prior to it being read, it was not an approved service by the School Committee. Given the circumstances, Advocacy Solutions has graciously agreed not to charge anything for their services.

Why the elected members of the school committee — whose role is the political one of defining the direction of the district — would turn to the district’s lawyer for public relations help is not clear.  Whatever the reason, that attorney, Andrew Henneous, has since resigned, adding to a growing list of local officials who have done so.

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When CRT advocates say they want to teach “the good and the bad,” we should ask if they’re even teaching “the good.”

By Justin Katz | July 21, 2021 |
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Lincoln Memorial

I’ve got an article on the site of Accuracy in Media noting that the providers of mainstream news seem more interested in making sure that schools teach what’s negative in U.S. history than in ensuring a balanced education:

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten insists that teachers in her union will and must “teach the good and the bad” about American history — a talking point that has echoed even in the most-local of government meetings as the fight over critical race theory (CRT) in the schools has escalated. In media coverage of the issue, however, a notable question is rarely asked: Are schools actually teaching the good? …

… the mainstream news media narrative continues to be that controversy over CRT is a Republican-manufactured attempt to stir up crowds for political advantage. Weingarten claims it amounts to Republicans “bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching kids honest history.”

At least one of her union’s members, Ramona Bessinger, a middle school teacher in Providence, Rhode Island, believes the aggression goes the other way.

 

Featured image by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash.

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Free gifts for tourists doesn’t seem like the best use of federal COVID money but might make hotel lobbyists happy.

By Justin Katz | July 21, 2021 |
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Buildings in Providence

When Governor Dan McKee floated the idea of using “leftover federal stimulus funds” to hand out up to 100,000 gift cards to Rhode Islanders back in May, I made note to follow the story because I wasn’t sure whether it was a good idea or a meh idea.  If this just-announced program is the same thing, put me firmly in the “meh idea” camp:

The “Go Providence Pass” program will provide $100 rewards cards to guests who book and stay at participating Providence hotels. The rewards cards can be used at approximately 80 participating businesses. The full list of participating hotels and businesses can be found at goprovidence.com/goprovidencepass. The “Go Providence Pass” is sponsored in part by Rhode Island Commerce.

Giving out $25-50 gift cards for Rhode Islanders to use at local businesses would get them to patronize (perhaps discover) the store and probably put forward more of their own money for the purchase (and maybe return to the store later).  Distributing the cards, maybe as a bonus for shopping at particular stores, would compound the benefit.  In contrast, $100 does not seem like enough of an inducement to schedule a hotel stay that one otherwise wouldn’t book, even as it’s probably enough to cover a full purchase at a store.

So, a program that might have had some multiplier effect across the state will probably do little more than displace tourist dollars (much of it from out-of-staters) that would have been spent anyway and in a single city.

Given Rhode Island’s insider, special-interest way of doing things, one can imagine the process that led to this meh program.  When the word went out that McKee was thinking of a gift-card program, the hotel lobbyists rushed to get in on the action.  Then, rather than add hotel gift cards into the mix, perhaps to inspire Rhode Islanders to have an in-state vacation for a night or two, some bureaucrat had the brilliant idea of pleasing multiple special interests at once by distributing the cards via hotels and for use at other businesses.

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