Rhode Island Republicans need a new policy strategy.

Two stories in the news recently have been nagging at me in combination over the past week.  The first is the Republican response to Democrat Governor Dan McKee’s State of the State address, as delivered by Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz.  Here’s the part that resonates particularly oddly: Where McKee called for cutting…

A message in a bottle at the beach
Rhode Island’s privileged class may begin getting more than half off its property taxes.

Once upon a time, the common wisdom was that government work couldn’t compete with the private sector for pay but made up for it in benefits and job security.  Whether that was ever true, I don’t know, but it has long been the case that government workers in Rhode Island get the best of all…

A behind the back cash bribe
Goyette is a problem for mainstream Democrats.

Or rather, he would be if anybody were reporting on the story.  As Republican state representative Brian Newberry noted a week ago on Twitter, Jordan Goyette’s story is not one that anybody in Rhode Island’s mainstream is keen to cover: If you picture the news media as a filtering machine, Goyette falls easily through one…

A hooded man in shadows
Maybe we should try for a more-empathetic political atmosphere.

Somewhere or other in my social media flow, I recently came across the outrage of a moment, wherein a director of communications for a school district jumped in to halt a Dr. Seuss reading that had prompted discussion of America’s racial past: The assistant director of communications for Olentangy Local School District abruptly stopped the…

A teacher reads to children
The underlying problem in education is depressingly difficult to repair.

Perhaps my favorite moment in all of music ever comes in the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  The music is a bouncy march, and in the libretto, the singers are proclaiming an intent to take paradise by storm, like “a victor.”  The mood changes suddenly, however, and I’ve always thought it a deliberate statement…

A toy school bus
Go back to the first question of spending.

Like it or not, we’re all tangled up with each other, so in some degree, the choices we make and the value we create or destroy affect everybody.  How we structure society is a decision about how we utilize “our” resources.  That doesn’t mean maximizing efficiency or economic advancement or anything else must be the…

RI State House over caution tape
Can the provaxers change their minds?

A skeptical reader can find many things worthy of comment in David McRaney’s How Minds Change even beyond the author’s central objective of training people how to manipulate others psychologically to implement radical policies.  Not wanting to write a book in response, I’ll probably just bring them up as they become relevant. One side point…

Teenager gets vaccinated
Why are Christmas trees scarce?

It’s “climate change,” of course; that’s the easy go-to answer for anything having to do with the natural environment.  Even when there’s a more proximate explanation, the global bogeyman has to be tacked on, as the Boston Globe’s Dharna Noor does in this case: The culprit behind all those dead trees: Drought, which hit New England…

A Mrs. Claus ornament on a Christmas tree
Another front that reasonable people in RI can’t forget.

I know, I know… put something else on the list why don’t you?  Well, this is an area that cannot be forgotten: Progressives have spent decades deliberately invading institutions with an eye toward turning them politically to their favor, which mean first making them political.  I’m not among those on the other side who believes…

A wolf removes its sheep mask
Keep the RI Foundation off the pedestal.

At the moment, it appears to be simply talk, but this is a concerning idea for Democrat Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio to float: Ruggerio floated an outside-the-box idea for the state takeover of Providence schools: He wants to work with the Rhode Island Foundation, the state’s largest philanthropic organization, to see if it…

A shadowy man on the phone
What if Abe had landed a plumb paid internship when he was young?

That’s the question that comes to mind when I see an historical anecdote such as this from Jean-Marie Valheur (via Instapundit): You will often hear about his great speeches, wonderful quotes, witty little anecdotes here and there. Or insights into his complex marriage. His mental health issues and how he overcame them and carried on…

Lincoln Memorial
The federal government is sowing the seeds of our division.

I’m midway through reading a book about the psychology of changing your mind, and the author apparently sees understanding the subject as an important tool in overcoming our polarization.  I’ll have much more to say about the book, no doubt, not least to suggest that increasingly subtle psychological manipulation may be causing the polarization.  After all,…

Cash, cuffs, and the American flag
Are you represented in the Rhode Island House?

Although the core political story in Rhode Island is inevitably Democrat, this isn’t a partisan post.  The one detail I recall from Amity Shlaes’s book, Coolidge, that detracted from the 30th President’s story was an anecdote from when he was the Republican president of the Massachusetts Senate.  A lobbyist persuaded him to go one way on…

Vilhelm Pedersen illustration of Hans Christian Anderson's The Emperor's New Clothes
Elorza is right to avoid Providence schools for his son.

A peculiar aspect of the mental abuse promulgated by progressives in Rhode Island (and the labor union activists who control them and the state) is the predicament in which they forbid honest discussion about issues like school reform, thus condemning students to substandard education, while casting aspersions at those who seek better for their own…

A chart of RI students by school type compared with comparable other states.
Ripples
Journalists face a real risk to digging into Antifa.

Andy Ngo continues to do the work mainstream journalists won’t digging into the ranks of Antifa:

They present themselves as rebels against the system, fighting to preserve a piece of local woodland.

Yet many of the terrorist suspects arrested and charged over occupying government property and the violent attack in downtown Atlanta on Saturday are children of pampered privilege from out of state.

Ngo has been beaten to the point of hospitalization for his reportage, but one suspects members of the mainstream media may be more afraid of awkwardness at dinner parties.

Lock the robots out of your bathroom, at least.

Nobody should be surprised by news that Roomba vacuums caught images of users in (umm) compromising positions and then the Venezuelan workers who review the images for product development posted them in an online forum.  This is a major reason that, even as an “early adopter” type of guy, I’m reluctant to move onto the “Internet of things,” especially when images and video are involved.

Then again, I’m old enough to remember the pre-digital-camera days when people would take their (let’s say) “fun” couple photos to be developed without thinking that somebody might be going through them.  Most often (we can hope) the review was simply a matter of quality-assurance, but even so… humans are human.

The English can now be arrested for possibly praying silently in their heads, now.

This incident occurred the week before Christmas, but I still can’t believe it’s real:

A charity volunteer has been arrested and charged on four counts after she told the police she “might” be praying silently, when questioned as to why she was standing on a public street near an abortion facility.

Police approached Isabel Vaughan-Spruce standing near the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton, Birmingham. Vaughan-Spruce was carrying no sign and remained completely silent until approached by officers. Police had received complaints from an onlooker who suspected that Vaughan-Spruce was praying silently in her mind. 

The provided by video of the arrest doesn’t make it any less unbelievable.  At least the police were cordial to somebody who was obviously not a threat.

Canada is going over the totalitarian cliff (and we’re not far behind).

Like him or hate him, this thread of tweets from Jordan Peterson should be a wakeup call as to the direction of Western Civilization:

BREAKING: the Ontario College of Psychologists @CPOntario has demanded that I submit myself to mandatory social-media communication retraining with their experts for, among other crimes, retweeting @PierrePoilievre and criticizing @JustinTrudeau and his political allies.

I have been accused of harming people (although none of the complainants involved in the current action were clients of mone, past or present, or en were even acquainted with any of my clients. …

We are now in a situation in Canada under @JustinTrudeau where practicing professionals can have their livelihoods and public reputations threatened in a very serious manner for agreeing with the Official Opposition and criticizing major government figures.

To modern progressives everything is political.  Everything you value in life is another lever for them to force assent for the things that they value.

Those who support this shift — believing the new rules will only tangle bad people doing bad things — must try to objectively consider to important points:

  1. Eventually, the suppression will target something you value.
  2. Participants in oppressive movements always think they’re on the right side and justified for trampling boundaries.
Women attempting to enroll in Catholic seminaries as men point to a more-profound problem of sin and radical politics.

Grappling with matters of identity and the complicated experience of being human isn’t, of itself, the problem.  The follow-on transgressions, such as a willful action to deceive and undermine others’ beliefs based on false pretenses, are:

“Recently, the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance was made aware of instances where it had been discovered that a woman living under a transgendered identity had been unknowingly admitted to the seminary or to a house of formation of an institute of consecrated life,” said the memo.

The memo suggests DNA tests as a possibility, which puts a spotlight on the basic problem that people seeking to become priests shouldn’t be lying in order to do so.

One can hold various opinions about the Church’s beliefs, but it violates more than its teachings on sex to knowingly deceive about one’s stance.

Michael Munger’s reference to Bastiat’s proposal to grow the French economy by burning Paris is a worthwhile reminder.

For that lesson alone, readers should give it a few minutes.  But this paragraph near the end captures something far more intimately relevant to our times than even Munger may have intended:

Once you are duped into believing destruction is productive, almost everything that a rational public policy would label as a cost becomes, by some judo move of seraphic intuition, a benefit. If need is wealth, then it makes sense to outlaw fossil fuels immediately, because of all the jobs created trying desperately to provide basic transport and energy.

How well this captures our current moment!  It does so for two reasons.  First, we have been duped as Munger suggests.  From economics to unions to social issues and identity groups, the solution on offer to cure our ills is always destruction.  Smash the patriarchy!

Second, for many of the people leading that march, other people’s need is the advocates’ wealth — directly, in the sense that they are in the business of selling other people’s deprivation for their own gain.

I’m not making claims of election fraud, here…

… but the ability to spend $1.7 trillion with relative ease and minimal scrutiny is a whole lot of incentive to manipulate elections.  In debates about such issues, it’s shocking that nobody ever mentions the incentive.

Cicilline doesn’t trust the American people.

Whatever your view of Donald Trump and/or David Cicilline, take a moment to think about the underlying perspective required for a position like this:

Democratic Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline is leading an effort to ban former President Donald Trump from holding public office again.

If this means anything, it means that Cicilline wants to forbid the American people from electing Donald Trump.  That means Cicilline believes either (A) the American people can’t be trusted not to operate an actually representative democracy or (B) he doesn’t trust our electoral system to accurately reflect the will of the people.

In fairness, Cicilline is pretty much guaranteed election for the rest of his life in Rhode Island, so he has good reason to be cynical about the effectiveness of elections.

Sometimes the special interests are on the insightful side.

Yes, Marcellus Drilling News appears to be more on the advocacy side of things, but its mockery of Rhode Island is worth keeping in mind as a brutal cold front lashes its way across the United States:

Last year the State of Rhode Island, a small Communist stronghold in the United States, voted to phase out the use of all fossil energy by everyone in the state by 2050–the so-called Act on Climate. It’s more like the Shoot Yourself in the Head Act. Of course, passing a law and then trying to accomplish what the law stipulates are two completely different things, as the Commies in Rhode Island are discovering. They are beginning to flail about looking for solutions to how they can force their citizens to dump fossil energy without completely destroying the state’s economy. (Spoiler alert: They won’t find such a solution.)

Being arrested for praying is on the road U.S. progressives are dragging us down.

Sure, yes, this is in England, which does not have a First Amendment:

A charity volunteer has been arrested and charged on four counts after she told the police she “might” be praying silently, when questioned as to why she was standing on a public street near an abortion facility.

This appears to be video of the arrest.

Do not doubt, however, that this milestone exists farther down the road that progressives and Democrats want to take the United States, in a world where speech can be violence.

The prospect is even worse than it seems, however.  These are not objective, even-handed rules that apply to everybody.  The way they get to “speech is violence” is by creating protected classes (e.g., minorities) and favored activities (e.g., abortion) that call for special protection.  Your speech is violence, but their violence is speech.  Thus, they can shut down roads and attack pro-life organizations, but silent prayer as you stand on the street is forbidden.

Has anybody seen coverage of this Nicole Solas’s lawsuit?

As readers have surely observed, I’m doing an end-of-year cleanout of my bookmarked links.  Oddly, after a news search on Google and Bing, I’m not seeing any local coverage of this story, reported in the Washington Examiner in August, at all.  Is that correct?

Nicole Solas and the Goldwater Institute filed the lawsuit against the South Kingstown School Committee after the board refused to allow her to attend the meetings of its black, indigenous, people of color, or BIPOC, advisory board.

This is powerful political art.

It’s a shame the mainstream media (extended to glossy magazines) has no space for illustrated commentary as powerfully accurate as this.

We’re so comfortable these days that progressives can exist many layers of abstraction removed from the consequences of their policies and therefore enact policies that roll painfully downhill while undermining real progress.

Imagine if real journalists were doing journalism…

From the other side of the election, with the Hunter Biden laptop known to be real, the J6 commission calling for criminal prosecutions, COVID-related decisions coming under renewed scrutiny, and Elon Musk providing revelations about what really went on inside Twitter to support the Democrat Party, it’s worth revisiting J. Peder Zane’s fictional account of how journalists would be acting if their reality matched the image they promote.

Showing what could be investigated really highlights what is not.

There’s only one reason to ban bulletproof vests for citizens…

as New York has done.  It’s to make civilians more vulnerable.  Supporters framed their intention as making bad people more vulnerable to the police, as during mass shootings, but the ban doesn’t apply only to bad actors.

As simple common sense, policies designed to make people more vulnerable ought to be approached with suspicion.  They are difficult to reconcile with the notion that we are a nation of free, independent people.

Keep in mind that, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center poll, nearly half of Democrat men under age 50 support assassination of political figures they don’t like.  Unfortunately, that’s just the biggest cut of the data.  The percentages of Republican women (40%), Republican men (34%), and Democrat women (32%) in that age group supporting political assassination are way too high and contrast hugely with those over 50, who remember more-chaotic times and are much less likely to support assassination.

They’re preemptively trying to sell this as evidence of global warming…

… but keep an eye out for claims of increased flooding that could be caused by a wobbling moon (which, if it needs to be said, is in no way related to carbon emissions):

Beware, coastal communities. The U.S. is set to face a surge in high-tide floods along its coasts due to a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit coupled with global warming, according to NASA.

Starting in the mid-2030s, a lunar cycle will amplify rising sea levels fueled by climate change, causing rapidly increasing high-tide floods on every U.S. coast, according to findings of a new study by the NASA Sea Level Change Science Team from the University of Hawaii.

The “coupled with global warming” piece is the CYA maneuver.  Otherwise, people might begin to wonder if maybe all the “climate change” evidence might have other contributing factors that are even more beyond our control than completely reversing the course of human progress by undermining our energy and industrial bases.

When the mainstream thinks they’re counterculturalists…

This tweet from local left-wing writer Phil Eil, quoting WPRO journalist Steve Klamkin, is some months old, but it’s still worth a head-shaking ponder:

Phil Eil and Steve Klamkin lament the lack of counterculture

Is it possible that progressives don’t recognize that their co-ideologues are the ones forbidding a counterculture from forming because they’re in power and don’t want alternative views to be heard?  Is there any psychological mechanism that could get them to recognize that the Tea Party, MAGA, and so on are the counterculture for which they claim to pine?

As I near a half-century of life, it seems to me that what they want is what Boomers enjoyed for the entirety of my life, and then some:  a safe, pop-culturalism counterculturalism in which the mainstream society is so secure and so competent that lifelong adolescents can rebel forever and never reap the damage of revolution.

Ah, well.  Those days are gone.  The damage cometh.

Is education the solution to abortion?

Clearing out some links from the past year, I came across this abortion-related interview with URI student Antonia Simmons by The Public Radio’s Lynn Arditi.  This part makes me wonder if maybe all that’s needed is more education about biology:

I am a 20 year old woman and I deserve the right to make my own choices about my own body and my own health and my own future.

So if I were to get pregnant, first of all I am in college, I have absolutely no desire, or really the ability right now to be a good mother to raise a child. So the first thing on my mind would be, how can I safely end this pregnancy. And as somebody who’s on the state health insurance, it would not be covered currently by state health insurance. And abortions can run between $500 and $1,500 for the procedure. So we would have to pay that out of pocket.

Maybe the problem is that young women just don’t know how it is that they can “get pregnant,” because then they could make informed choices about their health, bodies, and futures.  If that’s not the problem, then it seems what women like Simmons want is an undo to make the choices they prefer easier at the expense of whoever is paying for the procedure and, of course, the children whose lives they would snuff out.

Ethan Shorey is inspiring a short story.

Something about a pair of tweets from Valley Breeze editor Ethan Shorey feels like inspiration for a short story (or maybe a poem):

Ethan Shorey tweets about coffeehouse rants

The journalist is quietly sitting out there in the community, reporting to his 6,657 followers in a judgmental way about what somebody is saying to somebody else within his hearing.  That person may never know he was the star of Shorey’s vilification tale.

And here’s the thematic twist of the story:  Shorey may never know he was the star of my own vilification tale because, perhaps seeing me as yet another ranting antagonist, he appears to have muted me, condemning me to sit here in the Twitter coffee shop ranting about his ranting about somebody’s ranting.

At least the first guy is having a human conversation in person.

The difference between for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations isn’t as big as many think.

Soccer player Tesho Akindele tweeted this curious thought earlier today:

Public transportation doesn’t need to be profitable

Nobody demands that public schools, libraries, or fire departments are profitable

We understand that these things are an investment in the well-being of our society

Public transportation is an investment, not a cost

This phrasing is common, but the language is implicitly spun.  No organization operates for long if it is not “profitable.”  The questions are only who profits and in what way.

Like businesses, government agencies and nonprofits have employees and managers, who are often very well compensated.  The differences come with customers and stockholders.  Unlike most business activities, the customers of government and nonprofits often are distinct from the people paying for the products and services.

The other difference is that government and nonprofits aren’t expected to generate money as their residual value (that is, payments to stockholders).  They are, however, expected produce some beneficial effect on behalf of taxpayers and voters.

A lack of clarity on these points often leads us to build incentives around and manage government and nonprofit institutions poorly.  It also makes it too easy for those who do profit financially (those employees, managers, and non-paying customers) to obscure the need to provide social value.

Don’t miss the significance of the amoxicillin shortage.

Such efforts are easy to dismiss as blame-laying, but it’s important for us to take careful stock of recent decisions, and the more gargantuan the effect, the more attention we should pay.  So, put this on the list:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently reported a shortage of liquid amoxicillin, which is typically prescribed to children.

The FDA listed an increased demand for the antibiotic as the primary reason for the shortage. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists amoxicillin as a “first-line” therapy for most pediatric bacterial infections, there are alternatives that can be used instead.

We kept children isolated and then masked for more than a year.  We shut down large parts of the economy.  Both shortages of supplies and reduced natural immune responses were predictable consequences of that action.

An ideological contrast provides today’s lesson in MSM bias.

We may (or may not) be past having to prove media bias, these days, but an Amanda Milkovits headline in the Boston Globe still seems worth a short note:

Voters largely reject candidates affiliated with conservative group Parents United RI

Contrast with this Boston Globe headline on an Edward Fitzpatrick article from September:

Top R.I. legislative leaders withstand challenges from progressives

Conservatives are “rejected.”  Progressives are “withstood.”

The Globe is obviously not alone in this, but readers must remember that all of its reportage must be adjusted to account for its ideological mission.

Liquid pouring into an invisible glass

Politics This Week with John DePetro: The Defining Problem (and Opportunity) of RI

John DePetro and Justin Katz find evidence of the missing ingredient in RI politics everywhere.

Edwin Lord Mills A Royal Procession

Politics This Week with John DePetro: When Czars and Chiefs Become Politicians

John DePetro and Justin Katz discuss the dislodged line between politics and administration in Rhode Island government.

Machine Elements by Fernand Leger

Politics This Week with John DePetro: RI as Narrative Machine

John DePetro and Justin Katz pick apart the false image the establishment presents of the Ocean State.

A wave engulfs a lighthouse

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Interesting (Maybe Dark) Times in RI

John DePetro and Justin Katz consider the year ahead for Rhode Island.

Liquid pouring into an invisible glass

Politics This Week with John DePetro: The Defining Problem (and Opportunity) of RI

John DePetro and Justin Katz find evidence of the missing ingredient in RI politics everywhere.

Edwin Lord Mills A Royal Procession

Politics This Week with John DePetro: When Czars and Chiefs Become Politicians

John DePetro and Justin Katz discuss the dislodged line between politics and administration in Rhode Island government.

Machine Elements by Fernand Leger

Politics This Week with John DePetro: RI as Narrative Machine

John DePetro and Justin Katz pick apart the false image the establishment presents of the Ocean State.

A wave engulfs a lighthouse

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Interesting (Maybe Dark) Times in RI

John DePetro and Justin Katz consider the year ahead for Rhode Island.

Liquid pouring into an invisible glass

Who Can Claim Cooperation as a Core Value

Whether Western Civilization is fundamentally build on a principle of cooperation is a fundamental philosophical dividing line in our current politics.

A person dressed as Darth Vader sits on stairs.

Politics This Week with John DePetro: The Establishment Back in Control

John DePetro and Justin Katz note the return of the RI establishment’s confidence and evidence that its underlying approach remains flawed.

Ripples
Michael Munger’s reference to Bastiat’s proposal to grow the French economy by burning Paris is a worthwhile reminder.

For that lesson alone, readers should give it a few minutes.  But this paragraph near the end captures something far more intimately relevant to our times than even Munger may have intended:

Once you are duped into believing destruction is productive, almost everything that a rational public policy would label as a cost becomes, by some judo move of seraphic intuition, a benefit. If need is wealth, then it makes sense to outlaw fossil fuels immediately, because of all the jobs created trying desperately to provide basic transport and energy.

How well this captures our current moment!  It does so for two reasons.  First, we have been duped as Munger suggests.  From economics to unions to social issues and identity groups, the solution on offer to cure our ills is always destruction.  Smash the patriarchy!

Second, for many of the people leading that march, other people’s need is the advocates’ wealth — directly, in the sense that they are in the business of selling other people’s deprivation for their own gain.

I’m not making claims of election fraud, here…

… but the ability to spend $1.7 trillion with relative ease and minimal scrutiny is a whole lot of incentive to manipulate elections.  In debates about such issues, it’s shocking that nobody ever mentions the incentive.

Cicilline doesn’t trust the American people.

Whatever your view of Donald Trump and/or David Cicilline, take a moment to think about the underlying perspective required for a position like this:

Democratic Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline is leading an effort to ban former President Donald Trump from holding public office again.

If this means anything, it means that Cicilline wants to forbid the American people from electing Donald Trump.  That means Cicilline believes either (A) the American people can’t be trusted not to operate an actually representative democracy or (B) he doesn’t trust our electoral system to accurately reflect the will of the people.

In fairness, Cicilline is pretty much guaranteed election for the rest of his life in Rhode Island, so he has good reason to be cynical about the effectiveness of elections.

Sometimes the special interests are on the insightful side.

Yes, Marcellus Drilling News appears to be more on the advocacy side of things, but its mockery of Rhode Island is worth keeping in mind as a brutal cold front lashes its way across the United States:

Last year the State of Rhode Island, a small Communist stronghold in the United States, voted to phase out the use of all fossil energy by everyone in the state by 2050–the so-called Act on Climate. It’s more like the Shoot Yourself in the Head Act. Of course, passing a law and then trying to accomplish what the law stipulates are two completely different things, as the Commies in Rhode Island are discovering. They are beginning to flail about looking for solutions to how they can force their citizens to dump fossil energy without completely destroying the state’s economy. (Spoiler alert: They won’t find such a solution.)

Being arrested for praying is on the road U.S. progressives are dragging us down.

Sure, yes, this is in England, which does not have a First Amendment:

A charity volunteer has been arrested and charged on four counts after she told the police she “might” be praying silently, when questioned as to why she was standing on a public street near an abortion facility.

This appears to be video of the arrest.

Do not doubt, however, that this milestone exists farther down the road that progressives and Democrats want to take the United States, in a world where speech can be violence.

The prospect is even worse than it seems, however.  These are not objective, even-handed rules that apply to everybody.  The way they get to “speech is violence” is by creating protected classes (e.g., minorities) and favored activities (e.g., abortion) that call for special protection.  Your speech is violence, but their violence is speech.  Thus, they can shut down roads and attack pro-life organizations, but silent prayer as you stand on the street is forbidden.