Primer on the Insanity of the 14th-Amendment Solution

Let’s go through all of the basics.  Most basic of all:  A debt remains real, even when you don’t have the money to pay it. And what makes a debt real? Basically, a debt is real when the parties who agreed to it and other parties around them agree that something bad will happen, if…

Money pouring out of the Capitol Building dome.
Watch the inversion from their responsibility to care for you to your responsibility to die for them.

In recent conversation with Tim Ferriss, Canadian writer-explorer Wade Davis took a slight detour to speak of the community benefits of Canada’s socialized healthcare system: It has everything to do with social solidarity. It has everything to do with every Canadian knowing that they belong, and knowing that if their kid gets sick, they will…

Goya Attended by Doctor
The RI media is deliberately ignoring the most-important story in education.

Announcing the move of his cable news show to Twitter, Tucker Carlson suggests that most of what mainstream journalists report is factually true, but their stories are chosen and constructed so as to paint a completely false image of reality.  Take Rhode Island education as an example. As long as I’ve been following the story, government-run…

A young woman shushes
“Pay equity” mandates are another weight dragging down the Ocean State.

Clearing out some old links reminded me that Rhode Island’s “pay equity” statute goes into effect this year, as Jack Kelly wrote in Forbes in late 2021.  While generally supportive of the legislation, Kelly did acknowledge the potential for “unintended consequences”: According to Joshua Nadreau, a partner in the Boston office of the labor and employment…

Arms hold an anchor above the water
Newport’s character and cost is a matter of choice.

Artsy people’s complaining about gauche wealth-culture is nothing new, but something about this complaint by progressive podcaster and musician Bill Bartholomew struck me as oblivious of the obvious: Working late on Friday to frame out a roof on Ocean Drive 15 years ago, while watching BMWs roll by, I had similar thoughts.  But I also…

Lighthouse on Goat Island at sunset with Newport Bridge in the background.
Justice for Jeann Lugo Despite the Defamatory Video

Jeann Lugo was acquitted in November of simple assault against Jennifer Rourke at the State House melee last June. The other criminal charge against Lugo, disorderly conduct, had been dismissed in August. Now a three member panel of police officers, in a process arising out of LEOBOR, has unanimously voted to set aside the firing of…

Don’t miss the fact teachers unions want standardization… for themselves.

Sometimes the cognitive dissonance from special-interest ideologues’ commentary is so strong it’s difficult to know whether they’re brainwashing, trolling, or both. Consider this tweet from Rhode Island labor union executive and progressive activist Patrick Crowley: Before Crowley moved up the union-organizer ranks and was still specifically with the National Education Association of Rhode Island, I…

A dark classroom
Think more deeply about self-storage bans.

Justin Roias — the Providence City Councilor for the ward covering the North End — doesn’t like self-storage facilities. That’s fine, but his response and reasoning raise crucial points of organization and problem solving: I came across Roias’s tweet via Rachel Miller, who is participating in “the effort to update our zoning laws to prohibit…

An indoor self-storage facility.
Why are the “most educated” suddenly the most afraid of information liberty?

Observing that a significant majority of Americans now believe the COVID lab-leak theory despite the idea’s having recently been banned on “Big Tech platforms,” Glenn Greenwald recalls a 2021 Pew Research finding that over a mere three-year span the percentage of Democrats who support big-tech censorship had grown from 60% to 76%, and (worse, in…

Young adults covering each other's mouths
Bud Light has provided a warning case for our culture.

If you pay attention to non-leftwing media and/or haven’t blocked or muted anybody who isn’t progressive on social media, you’re likely to have heard that Anheuser-Busch has taken a huge financial hit after a young marketing executive aligned the company fully with radical gender ideologues by partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, a man whose…

A masked figure shushes silence
McKee’s Learn 365 RI education initiative may justify a response of Turn 180.

Whether it’s peculiar or not (given his governance style) the most-conspicuous thing about the Learn 365 RI initiative — for which Democrat Governor Dan McKee has sought (and received) a PR boost — is how undefined it is.  There’s some effort to get municipalities to commit to something, although what that may be isn’t clear. …

A child with hands over face.
Seth Magaziner’s gun tweet is a scary symptom.

To solve problems without causing unexpected damage, you have to have some reasonable explanation for the circumstances.  This recent anti-gun tweet from Democrat Congressman Seth Magaziner illustrates how politicians are moving farther and farther away from problem-solving: If you’re accustomed to analyzing data visualizations, it might take you a moment to understand Magaziner’s point.  The…

"Injustice Won't Be Postponed" sign
American kids’ life expectancy isn’t so bad, if all things are considered.

To what extent, do you think, is our current predicament caused by a feedback loop of blindness?  Perhaps the people investigating society’s questions are actually incapable of considering some possibilities for ideological reasons.  They therefore craft policies and advance cultural changes whose outcomes they cannot measure because of the blind spot with which they began….

Children at sunset
Too much single-family housing is not nearly a problem in Rhode Island.

Talk about housing has been all the rage in Rhode Island over the past year.  Unfortunately (and tellingly), it doesn’t seem to be a policy area in which activists, politicians, and journalists believe data ought to be front and center.  Sure, we get numbers about the effects of the problem — housing costs $X; Y…

A house made of mone
Maybe Stephen King started it with his approach to villain-picking.

As an undergrad, back when the Internet was still brand new, I decompressed by reading through Stephen King books borrowed from the Carnegie Mellon library and noticed something.  One of his recurring techniques was to imagine the familiar as the monster.  Cujo was a dog.  Christine was a cool car.  Firestarter was a little girl.  The title character in Cycle of the Werewolf, which became the movie, Silver Bullet, was the local priest.

As a non-King movie, Child’s Play, showed, the idea caught on, and naturally, artists’ explored the opposite: heroes whose appearances or identities are typically associated with villains.

One of the defining peculiarities of the present day is that this species of literary device has become written into our society and is affecting our ability to assess reality. Consider this headline: “‘Drag Mom’ Who Mentored 11-Year-Old At Satan-Themed Pub Sentenced For 11 Child Sex Felonies.”

At this point, we’re being encouraged to actively suspend our common sense and long social experience to avoid harm before it’s done.  What do we think is going to happen?

Another datapoint in the anti-Catholic shift of the federal government.

As I’ve said, it’s possible to make too much of such incidents (and politics often seems designed to make too much of them), but they’re worth noting as they happen, nonetheless:

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, [Republican Congressman from Ohio Jim] Jordan alleged the FBI “relied on at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis, and that the FBI proposed that its agents engage in outreach to Catholic parishes to develop sources among the clergy and Church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith.” Jordan further alleged the FBI suggested that “certain kinds of Catholic Americans may be domestic terrorists.” …

In March 8 in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Wray said when he learned of the memo, he was “aghast.”

Withdrawing a memo after it is released is an easy way to CYA.  The question is how many similar memos are out there unwithdrawn that have simply not been leaked, yet.

The greater concern is that all of these supposed problems go in the same direction, like the incident with the Franciscan Catholics and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, to which I recently linked.  If these “errors” were ideologically distributed, we could believe they aren’t systemic and targeted.  Instead, it does seem there’s at a minimum an unstated, ideological, and partisan culture in the bureaucracy.

The Vermont homeless shelter killing cuts across narrative lines.

As we’re rightly reminded frequently in the face of such incidents, we would err if we overgeneralized from incidents like this one:

A homeless woman “was wiping blood off of her hands with a paper towel” after she allegedly killed a homeless shelter coordinator with an ax, police said.

Zaaina Asra Zakirrah Mahvish-Jammeh, a 38-year-old resident of Morningside House shelter in Brattleboro, Vermont, wanted to talk to Leah Rosin-Pritchard, a 36-year-old social worker, in the living room, according to a probable cause affidavit. …

After attacking Rosin-Pritchard, Mahvish-Jammeh then turned to another employee and said, “I like you. It’s Leah I (sounds like didn’t like or don’t like). I like you,” the affidavit alleges.

On the other hand, we would err if we didn’t realize that historical narratives can become established because they may have truth.  Sometimes people are in circumstances like homelessness because they have mental problems.  Axes and knives will do in lieu of guns for the purpose of killing.

The U.S. government moves toward state-approved churches.

Conflicts like this can be nothing more than bureaucratic squabbles. They can also be evidence of a move toward a Communist China–esque absorption of religious organizations.  And they can also be mere bureaucratic squabbles that prepare the ground for government absorption of religious organizations.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) slammed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for issuing a “cease and desist order” to Holy Name College, a community of Franciscan Catholic priests and brothers who have provided pastoral care to troops and veterans at Walter Reed for nearly two decades, just before Holy Week.

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.

Edwin Lord Mills A Royal Procession

Politics This Week: Those of Unknowing Privilege

John DePetro and Justin Katz explore the increasingly disconnected behavior of RI’s political elite.

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence march in Washington, D.C. in 1993

The Dodgers’ disinvitation of a queer anti-Catholic hate group clarifies the cultural stakes.

Presentation of an anti-Catholic hate group as a charity, sartorial evangelism after a school shooting, and taxpayer-funded abortions are warnings of a tightening totalitarian grip on the United States.

Crazy Eggs

We can pay attention now or find out how many bodies it takes to break a narrative.

An entirely plausible interpretation of events sounds crazy, suggesting we all have an interest in pushing back and enforcing accountability for those who’ve brought us to this point.

A mother spoon-feeds her adult son

Politics This Week: Rhode Islanders Admit Mommy Government Knows Best

John DePetro and Justin Katz discuss the ways in which Rhode Island is sliding into full dependency.

Digital eye made of numbers.

Catching Up with Rhode Island Misadventures

John Loughlin talks various Rhode Island controversies with his guests.

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence march in Washington, D.C. in 1993

The Dodgers’ disinvitation of a queer anti-Catholic hate group clarifies the cultural stakes.

Presentation of an anti-Catholic hate group as a charity, sartorial evangelism after a school shooting, and taxpayer-funded abortions are warnings of a tightening totalitarian grip on the United States.

Crazy Eggs

We can pay attention now or find out how many bodies it takes to break a narrative.

An entirely plausible interpretation of events sounds crazy, suggesting we all have an interest in pushing back and enforcing accountability for those who’ve brought us to this point.

A mother spoon-feeds her adult son

Politics This Week: Rhode Islanders Admit Mommy Government Knows Best

John DePetro and Justin Katz discuss the ways in which Rhode Island is sliding into full dependency.

Digital eye made of numbers.

Catching Up with Rhode Island Misadventures

John Loughlin talks various Rhode Island controversies with his guests.

A sleeping giant as an island

Politics This Week: Fraud from Voting to Pandemics

John DePetro and Justin Katz explore the falsehood that govern Rhode Island politics.

Fake politician wearing a smiling character's mask and hiding is real identity

Politics This Week: Fraudulent Faces in RI Government

John DePetro and Justin Katz discuss the costliness of Rhode Island government’s decisions.