Freedom has no noncompete with propaganda.

Many people would likely see it as an obscure topic reported in a minor venue, but Christian Winthrop’s recent article in The Newport Buzz about the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) move against noncompete agreements hits three distinct notes that fire me up. The first is that it is unambiguous propaganda: In a landmark decision aimed…

Men shake hands in a dark alley
The assumption seems to be we’re all either children or slaves.

Civility and compassion are important traits we should, as a society, strive to inculcate in our children and uphold ourselves.  However, big-state nannyism has reached the point that well-meaning people no longer appreciate the distinction between how we should act as responsible people and what we should be forced or forbidden to do by an…

A threatening nanny glowers with a switch
Interest rates have become like rent control.

And they’re both artificial thresholds created by interventionist policies.  realEstateTrent makes a great point, here:   Progressive policies, which shift decision-making to the blunt tool of government, create these unhealthy thresholds everywhere.  People stay on the public dole because they’d have to earn so much money for a job to be worthwhile that no job…

A mechanic stares down a destroyed machine
Land use may be the dog that’s not barking in the housing debate.

Catching up on email, I came across this October article from the American Stewards of Liberty about a federal push for conservation areas: The Service is planning to acquire 250,000 acres of private land in the new federally designated area by offering “voluntary” conservation easements in perpetuity to landowners. Those who do not want to…

A man dreams of depopulation.
Rewriting history, especially to erase the stages of progress, is a dangerous practice.

The featured image of this post compares the original cover of Mountain Music by the band Alabama with the censored version now used for music streaming services.  I should specify that I’m not alleging the band and the companies that manage its music were forced to make the change by a government agency, but censorship it…

Comparison of the two covers of Mountain Music by Alabama
How should we compare Scott Avedisian’s severance package and Caitlin Clark’s basketball salary?

The short answer is that we shouldn’t, but Bill Bartholomew’s attempt is worth a double-take and some thought about what he’s missing: at nearly 68k, Scott Avedisian’s termination payment is almost as much as the contract that the most exciting player in college basketball, Caitlin Clark, signed after being selected first overall in the WNBA draft…

A man in a suit shoots a basketball at a city bus
Increased productivity is a communal good.

Somehow, despite ample reason for civic disappointment, I find I’m becoming less cynical as I get older, not more.  Even now, when I come across reasoning like that expressed by young progressive Democrat Representative David Morales, I can’t help but feel hope that we can salvage reason from the flames of ideology: Here’s the reality:…

Artwork of a worker transforming into a boss
Days of Reckoning for the Salt of RI’s Earth

The point can’t be stressed enough that Rhode Islanders should understand the Washington Bridge debacle as a representative lesson on our state government.  For that reason, not the least, Mark Patinkin’s conversations with local affected business owners is an article to print and review periodically in the future.  Restauranteurs and venue owners bought and built…

A prison warden hides his keys behind his back during a fire
The Maher life can’t be representative of human needs.

Arguably, Eric Abbenante— overstates the degree of “debate” in this clip featuring Dr. Phil and Bill Maher, but the difference in point of view he highlights is the crucial one.  Here’s Abbenante: Bill Maher and Dr Phil debate the importance of family and religion: “You think family and faith are a big fix to the…

A yacht sails toward an almost entirely submerged city.
Freeing teachers means freeing them from an inapt industrial employment model.

Brandon Busteed’s argument in Forbes well taken: U.S. teachers are dead last among all occupational groups and professions in feeling their opinions count at work, that their supervisor creates an open and trusting environment and that they are treated with respect each day. Teachers are also the highest of all professions in experiencing burn-out and…

A teacher at the blackboard in a cage
Student loans are another crisis for the benefit of government.

Whatever one’s political leanings, the incentives of government must be understood as simply reality.  Government agencies don’t have to create a product or service that people will voluntarily purchase.  Rather, they must find activities for which they can justify forcing people who are not the direct beneficiaries to pay.  This model is justified, in some…

A farmer in a suit admires his corn with graduation caps
The details are the important part in the “housing crisis.”

By its nature, advocacy journalism glosses over the details that many would consider crucial.  Headlines from a pair of such articles by Katie Mulvaney in the Providence Journal illustrate the point: Six months pregnant with nowhere to go – an unhoused woman’s plight on RI’s streets After months of sleeping on the street, pregnant woman finally…

A homeless mother pushes a baby carriage in Providence, RI
Journalists should be conspicuously fair, even with groups nobody likes.

In the last couple decades, Americans (at least those who occupy seats in academia and mainstream media) appear to have lost their ability to distinguish between upholding a principle and supporting any given people who might benefit from that principle from time to time.  Nobody likes to defend groups that are broadly deplored, like Nazis…

Street artist draws passing white people as MAGA
What is it about social media lately? (A hope for controlling the crisis.)

Almost in passing during a recent podcast featuring Greg McKeown, Tim Ferriss stepped into an idea I’ve been contemplating lately: [A]s my job, I interview some of the top performers in the world, hundreds of them, and the change that I have seen for those people in that subset who are already, I think most…

People stare at their cell phones while disasters happen around them
Don’t forget the importance of audience for mockery.

This video of some proverbial “frat bros” mocking some antifa clowns brought to mind Saul Alinsky’s encouragement toward mockery of the opponent:

RichardHanania: Frat bros at University of Washington in Seattle challenge antifa to a push-up contest. Something is happening. There is more on the ground spontaneous resistance to these protests than all others in recent years put together. They’re inspiring a disgust reflex in normal people.

Preparation for conflicts is crucial, however.  The mockery worked because the antifa were outnumbered and in somebody else’s element.  Mockery is a group activity.  You must have a group.

A policy of “socially transitioning” children without their parents’ consent…

… leads me to the conclusion that whoever is controlling education policy wants young adults to be ignorant and emotionally unstable:

AmyGansettRep: Rhode Island public and federally funded schools facilitate social transition in school. This can be done without parental consent.

I’m glad people are starting to pay attention, but I’m not optimistic anything can be done.  I couldn’t believe when this policy filtered down from the Obama administration a decade ago.  And I still can’t believe there hasn’t been more outrage or, at least, a political cost to the promoters of these policies.

Chanting murder in another language is cheating…

… but it’s illustrative, at MIT:TaliaKhan_MIT: Translated and subtitled at 
@MIT — calls to murder Zionists and martyr oneself for the cause of destroying Israel.

I should note from the replies to the tweet that some people are contesting the translation, saying it’s “death to Zionism,” not “Zionists,” which supposedly makes all the difference.  On the other hand, some commenters say the chant references “Jews” in places where the translation says “Zionists.”

I’m not sure that the “Zionism” and “Zionists” distinction is as significant as defenders claim, given the fact the chant also refers to “martyrs.”  Nonetheless, the salient point is that so many young adults in America are chanting along not knowing whether it’s “Zionism,” “Zionists,” “Jews,” or whatever.

So much of young activism, these days, seems draped in this sort of ignorance.  The different language only puts an exclamation point on it.

I’m getting worried about how obvious it is our monetary system is largely fictional.

It’s bad enough that the Biden administration has convinced a generation of young Americans that tens of billions of dollars of their debt can just disappear with no effect because the debt didn’t really exist, anyway, but the Chair of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisor’s being unable to sound coherent when asked why the government borrows money when it can print more really brings the bonfire into the house:

amuse: BIDENOMICS: The reason the economy is imploding might be because this guy, Jared Bernstein, Chair of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors is setting our economic policy.

In fairness, it is a complex question that could be answered from multiple perspectives, but one gets the impression Bernstein doesn’t know because it’s not important to know.  The primary means by which the government (in the form of the Fed) prints money is buying securities with fictional dollars.

The economy isn’t going to be pretty when everybody stops trusting that the fiction is backed by good faith.

This has been RI’s preferred budgeting method for the past 15 years.

They limp along hoping for a catastrophe that gives Democrats in Washington, D.C., an excuse to borrow waves of cash for one-time windfalls:

RIPEC_: RIPEC’s new report finds that the governor relied on surplus funds and remaining federal pandemic relief dollars to pay for operating expenses, thereby sidestepping more difficult spending choices, and contributing to budget deficits in FY26 and beyond.

It’s understandable that politicians and bureaucrats would incline this way, but it’s inexplicable that anybody continues to believe giving increasing amounts of power to people with these incentives and this history of bad judgment is a good idea.

Keep an eye on the progress of violence.

Note something about the riotous behavior reaching American campuses, as Ted Gehring spotlights, here:

GehringTed: UCLA out of control tonight. I don’t know. Maybe USC and Texas were right to clamp down to some extent. UCLA has really let things get out of hand.

The last go-round of riots took place mostly in urban areas, this one has been on campuses. Granted that they’re often in urban areas, but their attack on colleges seems like the revolutionaries’ taking another step.  One or two more and they’ll be in the suburbs.

This isn’t to say that people in the cities should be expected to put up with this stuff while those in the suburbs should not.  (This stuff shouldn’t be happening at all.)  Still, I haven’t seen much consideration of the value to a society of having enclaves and a path to greater calm and order.  Instead, we get so bogged down in superficial arguments about class and race that we risk losing sight of underlying factors that make our society as dynamic as it is.

Questions get complex when you upend social (and biological) fundamentals.

This video of a police interaction with a young couple entered my awareness at a moment of reduced willpower, so I watched it.  Although it escalates from a towed car to an arrest and flirts with even more-dangerous outcome, the entire twenty minutes is primarily a display of young adults, feeling their economic oats, whose lessons on responding to the world were… incomplete.

One twist occurred to me, though, related to police protocol.  The arresting officer was male, so when he arrested the female, he placed her in his car and then called for a female officer to drive to the scene and search her.  What is the woke thinking on such things?  What if the second officer weren’t biologically female, but only identified as a woman?  Once this question lands on the table, things we’ve been able to take for granted become murky.  Why do we think a female should be more comfortable with another female touching her body?  If the woman objected to an officer who only identified as a woman touching her, would that be reasonable?  Could adding these variables escalate such tense interactions to the next level?

Progressives deny it explicitly, but there is wisdom in things people just feel to be right and proper.

These are the choices will-to-power policies will drive us toward.

“Had the girl not broken the law by purchasing and using pepper spray, she likely would have been raped — or worse.” Sure, the story Stephen Green is sharing comes from Denmark, and sure, one big advantage we have in the United States is the Second Amendment.  But policies change and, increasingly, our rights can go unprotected.

Overbearing government will come down hardest on those it can control, and we can’t afford to let it come to the point that we have to decide between protecting ourselves (increasingly often from people the government has let into the country or let out of prison with unreasonable leniency) and following the law.

I’ve wondered how Americans are getting by in this economy.

This may be part of the answer, and certainly corresponds with my experience:

GameofTrades_: CAUTION: Households have officially run out of excess savings

A reminder for Republicans about immigrants.

They can be won, as James Brooke suggests in the The Sun:

In the latest sign of a rightward swing of the pendulum in Latin America, voters in Ecuador opted overwhelmingly for tough anti-crime measures, including joint army and police patrols against cocaine gangs.

Ecuador is only one example.

This reminder does not mean the border does not need to be brought to order or that the Democrats’ illegal immigration flood should be absorbed in entirety.  It also does not mean Republicans should try to win immigrants’ support the same way Democrats do:  by pandering to them and trying to win their votes.

Rather, Republicans should put in the effort to craft a genuine and coherent set of policies with positions many immigrants will find attractive.  Furthermore, they should not dehumanize immigrants, as Democrats do when they instrumentalize and infantilize them.  Rather, even when policies involve options for deportation, the humanity of people seeking a better life should never be forgotten.

Too often we lose the debate to progressives when we accept their emotionalist intellectual shortcut.  The fact that somebody is deserving of compassion does not mean the appropriate actions of others is obvious.  The success of the West is premised on trying to bring people into the fold and to offer them a path toward mutually beneficial relationships.  Keep that always in mind.

You can tell how journalists see their role by the stories they cover.

This has become a focus of the Providence Journal’s city reporter:

amymrusso: Meanwhile over at Providence College, E. Corry Kole gave their first public remarks on their discrimination charge against the school, filed with the RI Commission for Human Rights.

What stories is Russo not covering because she’s spending so much time on this one?  Why is a personnel matter at a private organization newsworthy?

As for the content, it finally provides some explanation for a mythical cliché.  I’ve never understood the rule that you had to invite a vampire into your house.  The rule applies well to DEI “professionals.”  Once you let them in, they’ve got you.  That is the critical decision point.

I’ve lived under a wide variety of partisan combinations in government at the state and federal levels.

With that perspective, I’d suggest that America works better when voters put the adults in charge but then laugh at them through media and entertainment.  Once, adults could be of either party, but they became increasingly of the Republican variety.  Unfortunately, voters’ frustration with the inability to return to adult policies is loosening that rule, too.

That said, what we need above all is a division between government and social and cultural institutions.  That means electing problematic Republicans so the media can come closer to fulfilling a healthy role, rather than acting as propaganda organs for problematic Democrats.

Western tradition already has the answer to the attempts to undermine it.

That’s why, although I agree with Jordan, here, I think he’s a step away from the key point:

jordanbpeterson: Think about it this way: How can society continue successfully when success itself (which always characterizes a relative minority) is equated with theft and oppression?

We must reframe. A libertarian lean is correct, but valorizing success won’t work. The impulse to identify with the oppressed has to be changed to wanting to help people, to make THEM successful. It’s the principle at the intersection of Christianity and free markets.

Why are the key questions of politics so easy to ignore?

This exchange between CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr has made the rounds and received its share of commentary:

kaitlancollins: Bill Barr responds to Donald Trump mocking him after he said he would vote for him in 2024. And it's something.

To my mind, the most telling part is when Collins looks for a comparison among conservatives to progressive bureaucratic government impositions and points to a local library debate. What Barr should have asked is: “Do you think you’ll have a better chance changing policies you don’t like in your hometown or in Washington, D.C.?”

The notion that different activities are appropriate at different levels of government is too often glossed over, and it’s central to our civic system.  Arguably among the biggest contributors to growing division is the sense that progress means political questions are answered at higher and higher levels.  In that view, it’s great if your local library board promotes your beliefs, but it’s even better if the federal government does, because it affects more people.  That isn’t the pluralistic ideal of self-governance on which our country was founded.

Democrats are moving deeper into the dark side of triangulation.

The concept of triangulation used to mean politicians looked at the political landscape and positioned themselves on the field to advance their policy goals.  The worsening development, facilitated by mass media and social media, is the attempt to manipulate the landscape.  That’s where we start to think of the Overton Window, shifting the range of positions people think are acceptable, and it’s what we see here:

JonahDispatch: I agree Barr’s argument is bad. But you know what? If Democrats really believe Trump poses an existential threat to democracy (I think he poses a major threat, but not an existential one), maybe they should stop doing the nanny-state crap that repels gettable voters.

I think Jonah misunderstands (or pretends to misunderstand) what’s going on, here.  Democrats (among whom I count the mainstream media) promoted Trump and are doing everything they can to paint him as a monster because the worse they make him out to be the worse they can be.  That’s why Barr is right that, in a binary decision, Trump is preferable, and not seeing it may be why Jonah has taken his wise reservations about Trump so far as to be an error.

Government-funded journalism is a bad idea.

One suspects mainstream journalists don’t see this as a problem because they can’t imagine reporting any differently just because the governments they support are directly paying them money:

grantbosse: Remarkably bad idea. Government-funded journalism is propaganda.

And realistically, we’re finding in Rhode Island that government PR is such a lucrative next step for journalists that it’s more a question of whether they work for government sooner or later in their careers.

Progressive policies only seek to manage increasing hostilities and problems.

The headline of a Alexa Gagosz’s recent Boston Globe article asks, “Will tenants unions make a difference in Rhode Island’s housing crisis?”  The answer, we can be confident, is “yes,” although it will make a difference by making it worse.

The state’s problem is insufficient housing, and the only durable, healthy way to give tenants, workers, or any group of people, more power is to give them more options.  Using progressive-style union activism power creates disincentive for people to work together, and working together includes one person creating an apartment for another to rent.

A street protest against a big landlord will make people considering becoming landlords rethink.  When the easy compromises are exhausted and landlords simply refuse demand, politicians will take it as an excuse to tighten the legal noose.  That will lead to even less housing.

As with most policies, what’s needed is to think of both sides as human beings, to think of the incentives that govern their cooperative interactions, and to get constraints out of the way, not build up more hurdles and obstacles invented by politicians.  They serve special interests (note that one of the elected representatives in the story is actually a union organizer) and have no expertise.

The people leaving Massachusetts are no surprise.

Here’s the Boston Globe’s description of the people leaving Massachusetts:

Boston Indicators, the research arm of the Boston Foundation, published an analysis exploring trends in so-called domestic outmigration in Massachusetts, or people leaving for elsewhere in the United States. Looking at a two-year average across 2021 and 2022, the analysis found that the people moving out of Massachusetts were predominantly white, middle- and high-income earners, and college-educated.

Particularly dire: Working-age adults are leaving in droves. On net, Massachusetts lost an average of 22,631 people ages 25 to 44 across 2021 and 2022 — the largest number of any age group and a marked increase over previous years, according to the report. For perspective, that’s about the size of the population of Winchester.

It’s been about 20 years since I started warning Rhode Island that our data told a similar story, and I coined the term “productive class.”  Rhode Island and now Massachusetts are driving out precisely those people who move an area forward:  those who are primed to transform their time and talents into productive activity.

Lose these folks and, as we’re seeing in precipitous experience in the Ocean State, you get the government plantations, which involves special interests using government to make government the areas core occupation by finding clients for government services and looking for excuses to bill other people.  That model won’t last long, probably not even to the point that the mid-career special interests are ready to cash out and move to Florida.

Keep tabs on who gets ousted in Rhode Island government

Whatever one thinks of Avedisian, seeing Alviti in this picture is a reminder that state government incompetence can harm the lives of hundreds of thousands, but it’s the guy who leaves the scene of a fender bender who’s shown the door.

PatricAnderso_: The 
 Board has accepted Scott Avedisian’s resignation.

Not long ago, objecting to the Trump cases would have been uncontroversial.

As he’s done for a long time, Mark Steyn zeros in on the truth with panache:

There are times, however, when it is necessary not to conceal it. This week’s Trump Trial of the Week is the bazillionth attempt by the ruling party to nail the leader of the opposition on …something, anything, whatever’s to hand. So naturally a certain artfulness is required. In this case, if one accepts as true the charges of corrupt prosecutor Alvin Bragg, Trump paid former crony Michael Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels. Which would be a falsification of business records. Which is, under the “laws” of New York, a misdemeanour – albeit one in which the statute of supposed limitations has already kicked in. So Bragg is arguing that the expired misdemeanour is actually a non-expired felony, because it was used to cover up another crime.

What other crime he has not said. And, as is now familiar in the State of New York, the corrupt judge Juan Manuel Merchan has been happy to indulge him.

… why all the Trump cases wind up in the hands of this particular Biden donor is a mystery to me.

Well, actually it isn’t: much of “American justice” is stinkingly corrupt. QED.

One wonders if the enormity of the corruption has become its own incentive for Democrats to turn a blind eye.  Once down the road of acknowledging it, what else might be overturned?

The more bucks, the less education.

As shocking videos emerge of progressive fascism showing its antisemitic face, Nick Freitas’s on-point observation here comes to mind:

NickJFreitas: I want you to imagine universities sitting on billion-dollar+ endowments lobbying for taxpayer-backed student loans in order to get more people into their schools.

Americans have been had in a major way (this issue not the least), and I’m not sure there’s any way to turn things around.

A horse-riding general leads his troops off a cliff

Politics This Week: Breaking from the Top

John DePetro and Justin Katz look for the realities behind the headlines in Rhode Island.

Man jogging on a treadmill while on cell phone threatened by snake

When did life-optimizers become snowflakes?

A self-improvement celebrity’s partisan trigger warning provides a warning about the extent to which we’ve lost our civic heritage.

A Democrat self-interviews

Politics This Week: RI’s Eternal Return

John DePetro and Justin Katz explore recent examples of Democrats setting the stage for themselves.

Parents have a picnic with their alien children

Politics This Week: The Twilight Generation of Political Normalcy in Rhode Island

John DePetro and Justin Katz worry about the significance of creeping lunacy in RI politics.

A weatherman reports a sunny day while it storms outside

Politics This Week: The Era of Messaging

John DePetro and Justin Katz highlight some of the ways the local media and political establishment distort the public message.

Man jogging on a treadmill while on cell phone threatened by snake

When did life-optimizers become snowflakes?

A self-improvement celebrity’s partisan trigger warning provides a warning about the extent to which we’ve lost our civic heritage.

A Democrat self-interviews

Politics This Week: RI’s Eternal Return

John DePetro and Justin Katz explore recent examples of Democrats setting the stage for themselves.

Parents have a picnic with their alien children

Politics This Week: The Twilight Generation of Political Normalcy in Rhode Island

John DePetro and Justin Katz worry about the significance of creeping lunacy in RI politics.

A weatherman reports a sunny day while it storms outside

Politics This Week: The Era of Messaging

John DePetro and Justin Katz highlight some of the ways the local media and political establishment distort the public message.

A woman in a business jacket walks on stage

Politics This Week: A New Stage for the Self-Promoter

John DePetro and Justin Katz check in on politicians’ emphasis on promotions.

Girls jump class in a 1960s gym class

Title IX Becoming a Victim of Its Own Success

Title IX has given generations of American girls and young women athletic opportunities on an equal footing, but that success has made it vulnerable to the latest social revolution.

If necessary to see the tyranny, reverse the political parties.

Let’s be blunt about it:  the January 6 protesters being treated so poorly are political prisoners.  In the United States.  Reverse the parties, and we’d be hearing nonstop mainstream media proclamations about how Biden is “literally Hitler.”  The government is actually arguing that stay-at-home-parents are more of a terrorist threat!

When profiling claims another victim.

Michael Morse tells a cute story about how he used his one phone call from prison to explain to his future wife why he had missed their date.  Before going on read how he tells it and come back.  Here’s the summary with the key details for this post.

Morse was racially profiled as some other white guy and asked for ID.  That turned out to have consequences, because he had missed a court summons for driving with an expired license.

I can testify from experience that these sorts of things happen to young men who are still trying to figure out how to balance respect for the rules with the challenges they present.  So, you take a risk, and sometimes that leads to the next step in enforcement.

Now change his race, and way people would tell the story changes.  The way the participants engage in the incident changes, too.  Maybe indignation even turns into confrontation and tragedy.  Then political drama increases the likelihood of conflict in other cases.

Kinda starting to feel like things are falling apart more than people are acknowledging.

Months to get a car part.  No juice boxes at the super market.  Computer prices shooting up.  Paper towels disappearing from BJ’s.  And now simple bloodwork has to be scheduled weeks in advance.

Any chance I’d feel like the only person observing these phenomena if there were a Republican in the White House?

Contrasting coverage when people lie to the FBI is instructive.

Remember the massive coverage and overheated rhetoric (continuing to this day) when the FBI tangled General Michael Flynn into a “false statement”?  Compare that memory with this just-the-facts coverage of a Democrat National Committee lawyer’s predicament in the New York Times.  

The headline is in the passive voice: “Durham Is Said to Seek Indictment of Lawyer at Firm With Democratic Ties.”  The lede emphasizes that “he denies wrongdoing.”  The reporters imply that the matter is only newsworthy because, if it goes forward, the case “is likely to attract significant political attention,” in true “Republicans pounce” fashion.  Oh, and by the way, “an indictment is not a certainty.”

The New York Times treated such “political attention” cases quite differently when the people in the spotlight were on the other side, with headlines like:  “Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation,” “What (if Anything) Does Carter Page Know?,” and “Ongoing Trump Migraine: His Initial Foreign Policy Team.”

The Times led the way in drumming up scandal, making them seem real rather than “political,” and pinning things on President Trump.  Now they’re doing the opposite.

Elorza bowing out of the gubernatorial race was the right thing to do.

GoLocalProv is reporting that Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza won’t be following through with his plan to seek the governor’s office.  It’s the obvious move to make, given the state of political play in the state right now.  I suppose it would be too much to hope, however, that Elorza has realized he’s out of his depth already and the governor’s office would only be more so.  It boggles my mind that some of these people even want to go down this path.