Fane Tower Shows Rhode Island Has No Center to Hold

Now that it is no-longer-proposed, we are free to look at Fane Tower renderings in detail, beyond the gut reaction that it is odd and would be misplaced in Providence.  Structurally, the building would have been akin to a tree trunk that began to split near the ground.  The strength comes from the middle, providing…

Fane Tower rendering
Something more than hypocrisy is going on on the Left.

We’re probably all feeling the increasing (let’s say) incoherence of things over the past decade or more, but I’ve found it clarifying.  Distinctions and beliefs have reached cartoonish levels, which teaches lessons that may continue to apply in subtler degree when (if) life moves back toward sanity. One may long have suspected that progressives (once,…

Child being grabbed by monsters
Self-checkout laws are the sort of question civics education should address.

Americans really need to be able to step back a bit from the immediate issue addressed in legislation and think about how it relates to our understanding of society’s proper structure.  A Rhode Island bill going after self-checkout lanes in retail stores is an excellent case study.  Kathy Gregg writes in the Providence Journal: An army…

A couple uses self-checkout.
How many weeks do you have to work?

Oren Cass’s analysis of the weeks required to support a middle-class lifestyle for American Compass raises some interesting points.  The study focuses on the income of men and shows that the combined cost of food, housing, health care, transportation, and education surpassed the median male income in the mid-’90s.  By 2022, that income was about…

Adraien Van De Venne's Allegory of Poverty
Education reforms are meaningless in RI unless they include accountability.

An omission in Asher Lehrer-Small’s recent article about reforms spearheaded by the state Department of Education puts a spotlight on the reason I’m skeptical and fear the changes are yet another cover-up of incompetence that will put Ocean State students even farther behind.  The reasonable hook is this head-scratching finding of a problem that should…

A disintegrating apple in a child's hand
Always ask how “good government” reforms affect access and influence.

Perhaps the most-challenging thing about good-government reforms is that, for the most part, we’re seeking to develop and implement them on the basis of a shallow political and organizational philosophy.  Consider legislation that would change Rhode Island’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA).  Some of the adjustments make sense, but I’m not so sure about…

Meerkat tells a secret
Funny, the difference in misinformation analysis of parents and labor unions.

If mainstream media analysts and college professors weren’t overwhelmingly true believers of the Left, they could find fertile ground for analysis and lessons in the interaction of media, labor unions, and parents when it comes to Rhode Island schools.  Case study 1 comes in the form of an article by Alexa Gagosz of the Boston Globe,…

A child with hands over face.
Apocalyptic demands for funding are too cost free.

Sometimes the lack of response to statements — I mean just an ordinary, slightly skeptical response — is striking.  Here’s Warren Town Manager Kate Michaud asking the U.S. Senate to protect the town from an apocalyptic future: “The data analysis concluded that by the year 2100, three hundred and six of the area’s four hundred…

Gustave Courbet's The Stormy Sea (The Wave)
Could it be that the status quo’s defenders just don’t get the economics?

University of Rhode Island Economics Professor Len Lardaro reminds us of the magic by which the state makes its employment numbers look good: To me, the apologists for the status quo are the scariest part. Saying, “Oh, don’t worry. People are just retiring,” completely misses the point. If Rhode Islanders are retiring, shouldn’t their jobs…

A mural on a highway bridge
Junk science in service of trans ideology is an assault on truth.

One of the ways in which our society has gotten to its current predicament is a combined corruption of and overreliance on science.  Contrary to those who treat it as a source of existential truth, science is merely a process for answering questions.  My preferred formulation is that it’s a way of coming to agreement…

Potions and skull
History suggests that now is the time to start speaking up in Rhode Island.

A broad review of history suggests that the time to stop a dangerous social or political trend is when the changes being implemented are relatively minor and the concerns are arguably still hypothetical.  At that stage, the general value of cooperation can overcome the preferences of this or that faction.  As the factions disregard the…

Racial conflict fist as a green light
Providence’s mugging visitors is a dumb (but typical) thing to do.

Although the bit has probably been recycled many times, the easiest version to find is a scene from L.A. Story, with Steve Martin.  A street ATM has two lines:  On the right are people waiting to take out cash; on the left are people waiting for their turn to mug them.  As Martin walks away with his…

Surveillance cameras on a pole
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
The bitter taste of Projo alums…

It’s interesting to watch these partisan ideologues bash the newspaper that contributed so much to their careers. One wonders whether they’ve ever considered whether their work-product and the journalistic culture they’ve perpetuated has contributed to the paper’s plight:

Scott MacKay and Mike Stanton bash the Projo

It may be tempting to be accommodationist on the cultural front.

And we definitely should not understand the alternative to be aggression and disregard of others’ humanity.  Still, we have to recognize that it will not stop with the cause of the day.  Just as it did not stop with same-sex marriage, it will not stop with the trans demands.  Similarly, it did not stop when America proved it would put a black man in the White House (why wouldn’t we?), but instead, the racial activists upped their demands and sowed greater division.

On this or that issue, there may be good reasons to accept particular policies, but we have to recognize that it will not stop there, and we’ve very nearly given up our senses of both reality and identity as a nation — which was a shared sense that strove for freedom, no matter what the radicals say.

Everybody knows what “woke” means, even if they can’t articulate a definition.

Woke is a parasitic derivative of Marxism providing cover for dishonesty with the claim that reality is subjective and aggression with the weaponization victim status and the psychological instability of its adherents.  Its purpose is to destabilize our civilization under the theory that a perpetual revolution will somehow boil away the imperfections of society, leaving a communist ideal.

Of course, one complication in defining it is that most woke people lack the historical and philosophical background and self-awareness to understand what they’re doing and are being manipulated by those who do, who have no problem lying as a route to power.

Indoctrinated wokesters are deluging American institutions.

You can watch it happening in particular with advocacy organizations.  Where once they had very specifically defined missions — like RI Kids Count keeping track of information about children in the state of Rhode Island — that mission becomes merely a mild flavor differentiation from every other progressive organization.  Witness:

RI Kids Count "birthing people" tweet

The divisive racism is bad enough, but it’s a dire warning sign when ostensible advocates for children can’t even acknowledge the existence of women and, specifically, mothers.

The government plantation model requires a cartel.

With Lawrence, MA, as my inspiration, I described what I’ve since come to call the “company state” or “government plantation.”  Just as big companies used to set up “company towns” which existed mainly to serve the companies, now governments are becoming the central industry and animating force of the regions under their control.  Their model is to find clients for their services and then collect money from others (whether within or outside of their jurisdiction) to cover the cost.

Unsurprisingly, just like businesses, governments are forming cartels to ensure the people whose money they harvest can’t easily escape their influence:

State legislators from California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Washington announced a coordinated set of bills to hike taxes on wealthy individuals, families, and businesses. The purpose of coordinating is to try to keep these taxpayers in their respective states by making it seem like crushing taxes are inevitable wherever they move.

We can predict this won’t work (certainly in the long run), but the most important point is that it’s plainly immoral and beyond the bounds for representative governments of free people.

Beware the unexpected consequences of positive-sounding slogans.

One can hardly doubt that Jessica David means all the best with such sentiments as this:

Jessica David's tweet about changing systems

I attempted to explore the specifics with her, but I didn’t get very far.  Basically, she believes all variety of sectors ought to take money from all variety of sources to work toward population-wide goals that they and their funders set, and that somehow this should all be accountable to the public. The ways this could go wrong are so manifold one hopes a moment’s scrutiny by a reasonably aware person would spot the danger.

One gets the feeling we’ve gone around the circle and are now articulating in nice-sounding ways precisely the worldview our system of government was designed to circumvent.

The Smithians do what Marxists promise, including on race.

For several reasons (voluntary and not-so-voluntary), I’ve been digging into Marxism a bit more over the past year.  I mean both ol’ Marx himself and his followers, up to modern practitioners.  One point that has come home very strongly is that the ideal that Marxists sell is actually the end toward which a system built on free markets and political liberty draws us.  The difference is that Marxists want a short-term dictatorship so they can be sure the result conforms with their own prejudices.

This general observation applies to turbulent questions of race, too. Consider:

In his new book The Real Race Revolutionaries (December 2022), Ortiz, a long-time advocate for small business owners and their employees in the US, argues that the government policies that are ostensibly intended to equalize economic outcomes between the white majority and minority groups in America have actually had the opposite effect.

What our society faces is the classic difference between an approach built on assertions of intent and one built on incentives and results.  Results are better.

Well, David Cicilline leaving Congress this year will shake up RI politics a bit!

Politics is full of wildcards:

Cicilline said he will resign from Congress effective June 1, 2023, to serve as the next president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

“Serving the people of Rhode Island’s First Congressional District has been the honor of my lifetime. As President and CEO of one of the largest and oldest community foundations in the nation, I look forward to expanding on the work I have led for nearly thirty years in helping to improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders,” Cicilline said in a statement.

A new congressperson may be good, bad, or indifferent.  The same is true of having the political landscape shaken up a bit, because it creates opportunity for change which can be positive or negative.

This development is almost certainly a bad omen for the RI Foundation, though, which has become an increasingly political organization over the past decade.

And we await the official statements about hate not being tolerated…

Let’s see how different the reaction is to this incident compared with vandalism targeting other religious groups.

Tweet showing anti-Catholic vandalism

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.

Man hiding money behind his back with his fingers crossed.

Politics This Week: Rhode Island, the Begging State

John DePetro and Justin Katz discuss the factors behind Rhode Island’s inability to raise sufficient funds for major projects.

Jim Palmisciano, Sarah R, and John Carlevale on State of the State

State of the State: Introducing the RI Forward Party

Host John Carlevale introduces viewers to the RI Forward Party with Jim Palmisciano and Sarah R.

Shady businessman with contract

Politics This Week: State Vulnerability to the Virtual Con

John DePetro and Justin Katz examine the ways an excessive purview and incompetence leave Rhode Island politicians and bureaucrats vulnerable to scams and other bad decisions.

Ellen Schroeder and Susan Orban on State of the State

State of the State: Promoting Mental Wellness Using The Greatest 8 Skills

Host Susan Orban speaks with URI professor Ellen Schroeder about strategies for parents to develop their children’s mental wellness.

A man holds a red smoke signal on ice

Politics This Week: The Insiders’ Clear Messages

John DePetro and Justin Katz interpret the unmistakable messages of RI insiders’ actions.

Jim Palmisciano, Sarah R, and John Carlevale on State of the State

State of the State: Introducing the RI Forward Party

Host John Carlevale introduces viewers to the RI Forward Party with Jim Palmisciano and Sarah R.

Shady businessman with contract

Politics This Week: State Vulnerability to the Virtual Con

John DePetro and Justin Katz examine the ways an excessive purview and incompetence leave Rhode Island politicians and bureaucrats vulnerable to scams and other bad decisions.

Ellen Schroeder and Susan Orban on State of the State

State of the State: Promoting Mental Wellness Using The Greatest 8 Skills

Host Susan Orban speaks with URI professor Ellen Schroeder about strategies for parents to develop their children’s mental wellness.

A man holds a red smoke signal on ice

Politics This Week: The Insiders’ Clear Messages

John DePetro and Justin Katz interpret the unmistakable messages of RI insiders’ actions.

Gregg Amore and Darlene D'Arezzo on State of the State

State of the State: A Discussion with Secretary of State Gregg Amore

Darlene D’Arezzo interviews Rhode Island Secretary of State Gregg Amore about his approach to the various responsibilities of his new position.

A soldier signals to hold

Veterans and Ukraine

John Loughlin interviews RI Director of Veteran Affairs Yasim Yarn and Ukraine military expert David Demorrow.

The scandal is more Mayor Lightfoot’s than the priests.

She must have known a non-Catholic in a lesbian marriage shouldn’t take the Eucharist.  Incredibly disrespectful… and at a police officer’s funeral. (Autumn Jones reports for Catholic News Agency.)

“‘It would be better to die under the Taliban’s bullet’ than face the crowds again, a staff member was quoted as saying in the cable.”

Reports from local staff members at the U.S. embassy in Kabul as Abigail Williams and Yuliya Talmazan report for NBC News. (Via Instapundit.)