November 2, 2012
Romney Rally Compare & Contrast
This Twitter compare and contrast, from an Ohio Romney rally, is too stark not to mark with commentary. The first comes from AP reporter Steve Peoples, formerly a journalist on the political beat for the Providence Journal:
Steady stream of people leaving Romney rally in the middle of his speech. Maybe it's the cold, but energy level low in Ohio. #2012— Steve Peoples (@sppeoples) November 3, 2012
Next comes a picture from somebody in the audience (note that I've seen multiple similar pictures in my feed in the last half-hour or so:
Why I don't believe the polls that Romney is down in OH. I know crowd sizes don't equal victory, but enthusiasm does. twitter.com/dgjackson/stat…— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) November 3, 2012
Even with social media, it really is possible to live in your own world, if you want to. Of course, being behind the curtain in Rhode Island makes it a bit easier... at least on one side of the aisle.
Update: Here's a video snippet of that "low energy."
August 10, 2012
10 News Conference - Justin and RIFuture's Bob Plain
Jim Taricani invited me and RIFuture.org owner/editor Bob Plain to sit in for 10 News Conference, this morning. The topics leaned more toward politics than policy, but we bloggers did manage to pull the conversation toward political philosophy a bit. Specifically, we discussed economic development, the RI economy, the Congressional district 1 race, and the presidential race.
July 26, 2012
Talking Teen Unemployment and the Minimum Wage on the Dan Yorke Show
630AM/99.7FM WPRO has posted my appearance on the Dan Yorke show, Tuesday, in two segments. The first is the initial half hour introducing the research from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity and touching on some conclusions. For the second hour, Economic Development Corp. board member and VIBCO President Karl Wadensten joined us in the studio for a broader discussion.
July 19, 2012
Credit for Building, Blame for Dividing
President Obama's teleprompter style has been the subject of substantial (often mocking) critical commentary, and with some justification, as this nearly parodic 2010 video from a Virginia classroom proves:
Given recent political events, one can sympathize with the desire of public officials to avoid extemporaneous speech. In a world in which one's every public utterance can be recorded, scrutinized, and exploited, one can't rely on an audience's capacity to get your drift and give you the benefit of the doubt. And it's all to easy to blurt out a sentence such as the now infamous, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that."
Predictably, in the realm of commentary, the debate has moved to the meta matter of whether commentators are deliberately misconstruing the President's meaning. On Slate, Dave Weigel charitably infers "a missing sentence or clause" that Obama neglected to utter because he was "rambling." On Reason, Tim Cavanaugh rejoins that "at some point it helps to look at that thing above the subtext, which is generally known as 'the text.'"
July 11, 2012
Portsmouth Institute, Day 3: Rev. Nicanor Austriaco, "What Can Genomic Science Tell Us About Adam & Eve?"
The Portsmouth Institute conference on "Modern Science, Ancient Faith" closed in spectacular fashion with Rev. Nicanor Austriaco, who teaches both biology and theology at Providence College. With the ease and humor of somebody used to speaking before college students, Austriaco explained what genomic science tells us about our ancestors and speculated about the timing and historical environment of the common ancestors whom the Bible calls Adam and Eve.
In brief, Austriaco said that, mathematically, one would have to have had between 1,000 and 2,000 mating pairs 50,000 to 70,000 years ago in order for everybody alive today to have common ancestors and yet to be as diverse as we are. That is, Adam and Eve were not the only human beings (or matable humanoids) alive at the time, but they did something to displease God (I would say something having to do with the choice of self-awareness and related knowledge) that made them distinct, and their ancestral lines blended with others as time went on.
(That would certainly ease quite a bit of the discomfort with which the modern is likely to read the first few generations described in the Bible.)
He elaborated that anatomically modern human beings date back about 100,000-150,000 years, but behaviorally modern humans go back only 50,000.
During the question and answer portion (which ran beyond what the schedule had initially allowed), Austriaco spoke about original sin and its application to all of nature, not just the children of Adam and Eve. He referred back to Aquinas, suggesting that before the Fall, "eagles were eagles and lions were lions," but they killed in a somehow "ordered way," meaning with the proper alignment of things... material to spirit, man to God.
It doesn't take much effort to connect this thread with the idea articulated by William Dembski about two forms of information: one internal to nature and one entailing some form of creativity and intentionality. The information inside an acorn that leads it to "build" a tree can be seen as ordered; access to the disordered information that a material creature such as a human being applies to the creation of which he's a part fits very well with the Old Testament's description of events.
From there, one can see the accomplishment of Christ as being the reintroduction of the proper perspective for use of human beings' capacity for knowledge, with the emphasis on that which is outside of nature, in the same way that God is outside of His creation. The cross is the symbol of this proper alignment of material life and spiritual existence.
But as the various speakers at the conference illustrated by their own talks, one needn't go quite this far in order to see that science and religion can coexist, even as they press against each other along the uneven border between regions of human thought.
July 10, 2012
Portsmouth Institute, Day 2, Session 4: Dr. Michael Ruse, "Making Room for Faith in an Age of Science"
With a joke about philosophers and theologians (he being the former), Michael Ruse used the dinner speech of day two of the Portsmouth Institute conference on "Modern Science, Ancient Faith" to take up the ostensibly neutral (mutually skeptical) approach to arbitrating between religion and science.
He referred to both approaches to knowledge as "symbolic" — presenting metaphors to explain reality. For its part, science long ago became wedded to the metaphor of the universe as a machine. The human brain, for instance, is "a computer made out of meat." (That made me wonder whether they could be seen as accessing a spiritual Internet.)
Ultimately, he suggested, if your area of interest is investigating the clockworks of the world, then you're "just not talking about" things like ultimate causes, morality, and the point of it all. Of course (I'd interject), a great many people who see science and religion as opposed and incompatible insist that it can and should dabble in such philosophy.
Because they see science as potentially providing "ultimate causes," and they "worship chance" as Kevin O'Brien put it, in the character of Dom. Stanley Jaki, they do claim access to moral discernment. That, for instance, has been the core cause of push-back against evolution in the classroom. As misplaced as they may be, those religious believers aren't imagining that evolution as presented has given the faith of materialism a way around the otherwise iron-fisted separation of church and state.
July 9, 2012
Portsmouth Institute, Day 2 Concert
Among the many great pleasures of the Portsmouth Institute conferences is the musical performances, thus far conducted by former Portsmouth Abbey music director Troy Quinn. This year's performance was no exception.
The aesthetic bonus of a windy thunderstorm rolling by outside doesn't quite convey in the video, but in any event, if one is in need of evidence of reality outside the material world, such concerts provide just that.
Aaron Copland, "Appalachian Spring Suite"
Jean Sibelius, "Andante Festivo"
Arthur Honegger, "Pastorale d'été"
Samuel Barber, "Adagio for Strings"
Portsmouth Institute, Day 2, Session 3: Kevin O'Brien as Dom Stanley Jaki
At each of the Portsmouth Institute's conferences (except the first, as I recall), Kevin O'Brien of Theater of the Word has had some sort of performance. Last year, being on Catholicism and Shakespeare, his troupe performed scenes from Shakespeare with accompanying commentary.
O'Brien's other two performances, however, were self-composed biographical lectures given in the character of some notable religious figure. This year, it was Dom. Stanley Jaki, a priest who wrote voluminously on science.
As a performance art collection of various writings by Dom. Jaki, the talk stood as a collection of insights toward the broad statement of a particular case. Two related quotations illustrate well: "Science is the quantitative study of things in motion," which can lead to the fallacy that "what cannot be measured exactly cannot be exactly."
July 7, 2012
Portsmouth Institute, Day 2, Session 2: Dr. William Dembski, "An Informative-Theoretic Proof of God's Existence"
From an entertainment standpoint, the most interesting aspect of Bill Dembski's talk at the Portsmouth Institute conference on "Modern Science, Ancient Faith" was the continuation of what is apparently a long-standing head-to-head with the previous speaker, Ken Miller. Dembski is a notable personage on the intelligent design side of the public debate, and at one point issued a throw-down for a sort of public trial pitting Miller's crew against his own.
Most interesting from an intellectual standpoint, though, was Dembski's step away from the heat of a politically charged issue to his substantive argument with respect to evolution. In an echo of Miller's suggestion that organisms collect information from their environment, Dembski pointed out that "natural selection is a non-random search." How, then, did nature find that process?
Think of a time when you've done some tedious project. Eventually you may have come up with a process, or series of steps, that was more efficient than that with which you began. That took observation and analysis.
Dembski divided processes into two types of information. There is the information inside an acorn that tells it how to make a tree, and there is the information that a shipwright brings to bear when following a blueprint. Both forms of information exist, but only one is interior to nature and available for natural processes.
He told the story of an artist hired to make a bust of Beethoven. The client was none too impressed when the artist arrived with a large, untouched stone and explained that every particle of the Beethoven bust was inside the stone. Therefore, he had delivered exactly what he had promised.
I'd go a step farther with the analogy. What's critical about the fable is not that the artist didn't have a point; modern art is full of such gimmicks. The point is that the particular client did not like the statement made and, indeed, considered it to be a lazy scam. It's not just the material information contained in the particles of a statue, and it's not just the intellectual information contained in an artist's sketch (or even his too clever argument about the bust).
Rather, what we seek in art is that which speaks on another plane of existence: communication. The client did not like the message that he felt the artist had communicated.
This clearly, is the reemergence of the running, unspoken theme of the conference. That which makes suffering out of mere pain and beauty out of mere material coincidence is communication and the conscious sense thereof. Slippery and prone to misinterpretation as it may be, it is as real as the subatomic particles in our atoms and indicates an abstract space outside of the material universe.
July 5, 2012
Portsmouth Institute, Day 2, Session 1: Dr. Kenneth Miller, "To Find God in All Things"
Brown University biology professor Ken Miller opened the second day of conferences at this year's Portsmouth Institute conference, "Modern Science, Ancient Faith." Readers may find his name familiar, inasmuch as he was a central figure when the teaching of evolution was big news a few years back. He also stood out, among the academics for evolution in that he remains a practicing Catholic and does not present evolution as counter-evidential to God.
As a professor and one who has spoken on the topic many times, Miller's presentation was very enjoyable, and he handily won over the audience. Of course, it was clear from the beginning of the conference, that the audience was far from creationist in its general viewpoint. It is descriptive, rather than derogatory, to say that one would expect such a view from educated Catholics.
That said, Miller still had the pique of the heated public debate days, as evident in his insistence that the decisions of a school district in Pennsylvania was nearly an existential battle over "the place of scientific inquiry itself." That may be true, if one believes that scientific inquiry ought to be the pole star of all society, without variation across the vast landscape of the United States, but conservatives (at least) ought to worry about the implications of dictating even that.
Surely, in the mix of considerations that society must integrate for the health and happiness of its members, other principles can be higher than scientific inquiry. That, one can't help but feel, explains some of the uneasiness even among evolutionist believers with the terms of the evolution versus intelligent design debate (and has a familiar feel, the day after Independence Day). Perhaps there are higher ideals that supersede the narrow debate about evolution, just as God supersedes the observable natural process itself.
Most significant, though, was Miller's tacit continuation of the theme that underlay the entire conference, manifesting in two points that he made. Describing the relatively rapid evolution of bacteria in the lab to be able to break down a pesticide, he explained that "living organisms harvest information from the environment." One could pivot on the point (and the experiment) to note that shaping the environment is precisely a tool for designing life, but it's the idea of information that leads toward new discussion, as opposed to returning to the battles of the past.
The second appearance of the theme arose when Miller highlighted fire rainbows as so beautiful as to constitute a religious experience, yet entirely explicable through the material processes. As with John Haught's reference to suffering, though there appear to be two types of information in play: one involving the instructions within nature about how material things must respond to their environment, and one involving a higher perspective of conscious subjectivity.
The former explains ice crystals' treatment of light and a living organisms reaction to painful sensations. The latter is what elevates pain to suffering and refraction to beauty.
July 4, 2012
Portsmouth Institute, Day 1, Session 3: Dr. John Haught, "Evolution and Faith: What Is the Problem?"
Georgetown University theology professor John Haught firmly established the theme of the Portsmouth Institute conference on "Modern Science, Ancient Faith" with his talk on the reconciliation of religion and science even if he arguably did so without explicitly stating it.
Dr. Haught did so by taking up several of the philosophical objections to Christian theology, where it touches on the observable world. How, one question asks, could a good God have created a world with so much suffering?
Haught's entire presentation was in some ways an answer, but one of the key concepts that he offered was that life has a "narrative character"; it's a story, which is after all the "medium of meaning." He asked, rhetorically, "Would you try to make the world nice and safe?" Beginning a world with that requirement would sure produce a different outcome, but by many human measures (and probably most divine measures) it would be inferior.
Another rhetorical question that Haught poses inspired his most memorable image: If the point of the universe was intelligent life, why did it take so long? To illustrate argument, he showed a picture of 30 books of 450 pages each. Human life would appear on the very last page of the very last volume.
His answer was that the universe is in the process of becoming "something other than God in creation." We're experiencing that process..
One might also inquire of the rhetorical asker (somewhat whimsically) how long he could play in the sandbox of the universe, with full view of the tiniest particle and the largest galaxy, before interest demanded a new features, like life. But the idea at the next intellectual step after Haught's argument is much more satisfactory: As a Being in some sense beyond creation, God may be considered outside of time, as well as material. That being the case, creation was instantaneous from His perspective; we're just within it as it unfolds.
The idea of God of spirit beyond the material universe also provides answer to the argument about suffering, as would come into focus as the conference proceeded the next day.
This paragraph, from a New York Times article about the official "discovery" of the Higgs boson, seems supremely relevant to the above:
Confirmation of the Higgs boson or something very like it would constitute a rendezvous with destiny for a generation of physicists who have believed in the boson for half a century without ever seeing it. And it reaffirms a grand view of a universe ruled by simple and elegant and symmetrical laws, but in which everything interesting in it, such as ourselves, is due to flaws or breaks in that symmetry.
July 3, 2012
Portsmouth Institute, Day 1, Session 2: Abbott James Wiseman, "A New Heaven and a New Earth"
Among the truly fascinating aspects of the entire 2012 Portsmouth Institute conference, "Modern Science, Ancient Faith," was the pervasive appearance of an underlying theme. That, in itself, is not surprising; the fact that nobody took its appearance as opportunity actually to state it is.
In retrospect, in the second lecture of the series, Brother Wiseman was most explicit on the point. His talk had much to do with the proper relationship of science and religion and the translation of revelation into terms consistent with the material world. Revelation, as he said, does not give exact knowledge of the world, present or future, but rather a sense of how things are and ought to be.
Of particular interest was the time that Wiseman spent on eschatology, or the religious expectation of the end of this world. In this regard, he spoke of past theologians who held that we could not separate the material and the spirit in our hope for "a state beyond decay and suffering." Indeed, and here's the hint of that which grew to be fascinating later, he spoke of the end days as a "conversion of energy into pure information."
It appears that the theologians were conspicuously reluctant to translate that vision into concrete predictions, but when combined with the notion expressed by Wiseman and repeated throughout the weekend that one must look beyond science for a full explanation of reality, it begins to transform into a workable model for ultimate questions.
July 2, 2012
Portsmouth Institute, Day 1, Session 1: Dom Paschal Scotti, "Galileo Revisited"
It was fitting that the the 2012 Portsmouth Institute conference, "Modern Science, Ancient Faith," held at the Portsmouth Abbey school, opened on the topic of Galileo.
Brother Scotti addressed the ways in which other factors brought about the Catholic Church's blunder with respect to Galileo. There were internal politics. Factional rifts between the Jesuits, who were more friendly to Galileo, and the Dominicans. Personality conflicts and ego-driven attacks, including on the part of the "academic superstar" scientist himself.
The bottom line, however, as Scotti told an audience member after the speech, is that the Church has actually done very well with respect to integrating science into its worldview and presentation. But when it got things wrong, with Galileo, it got them spectacularly wrong.
One particularly interesting point arose when an audience member asked whether our intelligence has arguably returned mankind to status as the center of the universe. Scotti replied that, in the old Ptolemaic view, Earth wasn't the pinnacle of the universe, but "the lowest place, the worst place," the place to which frailty sank.
June 14, 2012
Well, that word is a big of mouthful. I even have to slow down to make sure I type it correctly. Sensationalization.
Anyway. I get a morning email each day of the top stories from GoLocalProv.com, which include some headlines and a brief blurb about the story. So this morning when I saw there were some "secret" documents uncovered, I couldn't wait to see it. Additionally, Helen Glover has the "Big Story of the Day" around 7:40 each morning and this was the topic and how exciting it was that these secret documents were discovered. So what were they about?
They explained that lending money to 38 Studios was a huge risk. One that should not be taken lightly. These disclosures were made to another potential investor in 2009, when the company was seeking a $25M loan. However, similar documents were not made available to the EDC prior to backing the $75M loan to the company.
Is that a big deal? I don't know, maybe. Should the company have offered the same disclosure to the EDC? Of course. However, this seems like an attempt to imply that something really dastardly or underhanded was done here and possibly give a reason for why the EDC didn't properly evaluate the risk. C'mon. If the EDC didn't have any idea of the risk without being told that it was a high risk, then they are far more incompetent than we could have previously imagined. I mean, if the EDC were handed these documents, do we really think that then they would have thought to themselves, "Oh, this really is a big risk. We don't want to do this deal." Seriously? They had no idea that the full investment could be lost? I dabble in the stock market every so often and I fully understand that all the money I put into it could be completely lost. I'm aware of that kind of risk. If I'm aware of it at this level, then how in the world could the EDC be unaware of it at their level without that disclosure? Clearly, they weren't unaware. They knew at least that much. So when you take that away, what then is really the big secret?
I can understand what GoLocalProv is trying to do. They're new, trying to establish themselves in this media market, trying to take on the Journal head on. I get that. But they have some great writers over there that work hard and do some excellent work. I'm not sure that the headline writers need to embellish quite so much. This wasn't the first time I read an article and felt the content didn't quite match the excitement of the headline. Eventually, you get a "Boy Who Cried Wolf" mentality with that kind of stuff, but like I said, the writers are great, so that in itself keeps you coming back.
April 22, 2012
Taking on Ted
Ted Nesi writes a weekly notes column and posts it on Saturday mornings. I tried writing my own for a few weeks and it's really a lot of work. It's not something that can be thrown out there in a few minutes, as it does take a bunch of researching and note taking. So it's a big credit to him for the work he does on it each week.
I try to read the column each week and while there may occasionally be a point in there that makes me pause, this week there seemed to be a few. So rather than just posting in his comments section, I figured I'd post them here.
3. Greg Mankiw: ”If people feel that their taxes exceed the value of their public services, they can go elsewhere.Not always. After being in the situation where I had my house up for sale and had a somewhat limited timeframe of about six months to sell, I can say that this isn't always true. It eventually came down to my deadline where my realtor wanted to drop to a price where my house would have sold at a loss, or not nearly enough in order to qualify for the next mortgage. So voting with my feet turned out to not be an option. I imagine this is the case for many people who want to move but also want to be able to get another mortgage again in the next 7-10 years. They're stuck where they are.
6. The best argument for the idea that David Cicilline didn’t know what a mess Providence’s finances were during the 2010 campaign may be his botched communications strategy after the details emerged last March. If the congressman really understood how bad things were but was hiding it, wouldn’t he have used that advance knowledge to prepare some sort of response? And wouldn’t he have waited fewer than 13 months to pivot to an apology?No. It's called "arrogance." He greatly underestimated the people in Rhode Island, at least with regard to their ability to answer poll questions. It's yet to be seen if they can be trusted to do the same at the voting booth. David Cicilline is a smart man and is very skilled in the art of argument. He thought he could argue and spin his way at least into another term in Congress. Like I've written before, there's no way he didn't know the full story of the condition of Providence's finances. If he didn't, then there was no reason to block the auditor from getting the records he needed to do his job.
The Providence Phoenix’s David Scharfenberg made a similar point in his profile of Rhode Island’s Future proprietor Bob Plain, calling him “part of an emerging, alternate daily press corps that also includes Rhode Island Public Radio, golocalprov, and WPRI blogger Ted Nesi — a youthful, digital-savvy crew that has taken on increased importance since the Providence Journal put most of its reporting behind a paywall in February.” (I would agree with that analysis, though, wouldn’t I?)Imagine if there were any other bloggers or "alternate daily press corps" in Rhode Island that weren't mentioned. Like, a conservative leaning one. Now that'd be cool.
Like I said, Ted does a great job and some of these points aren't even necessarily directed at him, but just some things that I wanted to add as I read his column.
December 16, 2011
Hot or What?
GoLocalProv has a weekly article by Dan McGowan where he tracks the locals that are "Hot or Not", which is more a barometer of public perception than any physical characteristics.
It's pretty surprising to see David Cicilline ranked as a "hot" in a week where he's been getting negative criticism from his own party and even called a liar by Anthony Gemma. McGowan's reasoning on the "hot" ranking is that Cicilline may be coming out of the redistricting process with a better map for his re-election bid. However, this could be a "win the battle, lose the war" scenario, as also mentioned by Ian Donnis. I'm just not too sure how you can go through a process that is supposed to be transparent but then get lambasted by people who should be supporting you, and be considered a win.
Also mentioned in the Cicilline column is that Merrill Sherman isn't going to contest Cicilline in the primary and this is said to be a win for Cicilline. I'm not so sure that's true. Cicilline has a big negative rating and will have a great many people looking to vote against him, so they'll need someone to vote for. If there are multiple candidates with which to vote against Cicilline, that splits up all those votes and maybe dilutes them to the point of Cicilline getting enough votes to make it through the primary. Having just one opponent to gather up all of the anti-Cicilline sentiment could prove politically deadly for the Congressman. The more candidates in the primary, the more that those votes get spread around.
As mentioned earlier, my understanding of the "hot or not" is to gauge the perception of someone recently, or even just over the last week. David Segal gets a "hot" when he didn't even do anything. McGowan mentions that maybe he'll get in the race for Congress again. Great. So that equates to a "hot"?
I definitely agree that Governor Chafee deserves a "Not" this week, and it's based on his popularity ratings in the recent Brown University poll. I also found it interesting when listening to the WPRO news this morning where they had Chafee talking about the numbers and he seemed to attribute it to the economy and that people are frustrated with the economy. Really Gov? The problem with your popularity numbers is the economy? I guess the only positive there is if that's what he thinks, then he's really not going to ever "get it" and will be a one-term governor.
One "Not" that I think was missing is Congressman Jim Langevin. McGowan gives a Not to Ed Pacheco, the Democratic Chair for not intervening in the Cicilline/Langevin kerfluffle, but I think at the same time if you're going to give Cicilline a win for what the maps may look like after redistricting, then you have to give Langevin a loss. Just as David Scharfenberg mentions this week in the Providence Phoenix, if you're going to be politically aloof and not engage with your party, don't really expect the party to come to your aid later on when you need it. This is how you choose to play the game, live by the results. Langevin deserved a "Not".
This column often gets criticism for being left-leaning and seeming to offer propaganda for the Democrats' benefit. I think quite often, McGowan is fair to a degree in his Hot or Not, but this week to say that Cicilline had a good week, might be a bit of a stretch to defend.
October 18, 2011
The New ProJo.com
Yesterday afternoon, the Providence Journal released their long-awaited new web site. Now the projo.com URL will redirect to providencejournal.com.
We've been hearing radio and television commercials about the value of the local media. The commercials explain that Pulitzers don't pay the mortgage. So the folks at the Journal will need to institute a pay wall.
The Providence Journal news organization is moving to the paid eEdition to protect the investment it makes every day in gathering and publishing Rhode Island news.Even the NYTimes realized a while back that they needed to charge for content, though they also realized that requiring payment to see anything more than headlines could be a death knell for the site. The NYT allows users to read their ten most popular stories free of charge every day. I'm not sure if the Journal will do something similar, as they don't indicate that they will.
At first, the eEdition will be free to all web users, to allow them to see how it works. "People can experiment with it," Sutton said. After about a month, a paid subscription will be needed to view the eEdition.As for the new design of the site, I'm certainly not sold. If you want to see a great design of an online newspaper, look at Tom Ward's Breeze Observer newspapers. Their design is clean, easy to find what you're looking for and appealing, while including advertising that is non-intrusive.
The Journal's site on the other hand feels very 1998 to me. The Journal is the main paper for the state of Rhode Island and much of southern New England but when you view the new web site, it's not very inspiring, information is still pretty hard to find and the first things you see are ads. There is an ad banner across the top and ads down both sides around the content.
The actual content on the home page is in a space of 380 pixels wide. Ok, as Dan Yorke often says, that's inside baseball. How big is 380 pixels? Well you can see for yourself, but people are buying bigger monitors with increased resolution. Look at some of the more common sites and how big they chose to make their sites. Data from 2009 shows the White House made their site 1006 pixels wide. Most are in the 900s.
Today, the most common width of a screen resolution is 1280 pixels. Yet the Providence Journal chose to use about 1/3 of that size for the part of their site that people are looking for.
There are other little questions I have about some of the decisions made. For example, what is an "Index", shown in the last navigation button on the right. If you click on it, it is a site map in web terminology. It is an index if you're using print terminology. This makes me to think the print side of the house is making decisions on the web design.
If you're looking for editorials, where are those? Everyone that I asked this to initially went to the Topics menu. However, it's actually under RI Speaks as are their blogs. The ProJo blogs were probably one of their most popular and commonly used parts of their web site. The "7 to 7 News Blog" is where they often posted the latest breaking news and where you could get caught up on the news quickly. It was prominent on the old site, now the blogs section is hidden and the "7 to 7" seems to be gone.
Lastly, look at the Sports menu button. Keeping in mind that this is the Providence Journal, look at the options you have under Sports. No mention of the Providence Bruins or the Pawtucket Red Sox. They have the Bruins and Red Sox. If you click on either of those, it takes you to a page with the headline of Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox. So they can't even make the argument that both Bruins teams or both Red Sox teams are included in that menu.
I understand the issue that the company is up against. The ads model that they thought could support the business just wasn't enough to sustain them, so they're giving away a lot of content for free or after the ad revenue is figured in, at a very discounted price. However as long as we have sites like cnn.com for my national news and the Valley Breeze for my local news, and the Journal's web site isn't very easy to use, I think this redesign was a swing and miss.
August 18, 2011
We began talking with Matt Allen on WPRO every Wednesday just before 7 p.m. back in early 2008, and last night I took our final call. We just don't feel right about having him tout our activities on such a regular basis when we're not sure how active we'll actually be. That doesn't mean we won't be listening to his show or even that we won't be calling in from time to time, but when we do, we'll be regular callers.
July 28, 2011
Public Sector and Politics
July 21, 2011
The Signs of RI's Doom
Matt and I discussed the forces affecting Rhode Island's politics on last night's Matt Allen Show. I expressed skepticism that the General Assembly will actually do much to reform pensions, referring to the four horsemen of Rhode Island's apocalypse that is, the four groups that have locked in power in RI, and which the General Assembly must strive to appease to maintain the current balance. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
July 8, 2011
Civics in an Evolving Society
The topic of conversation, when Andrew spoke with Tony Cornetta on the Matt Allen Show, last night, was constitutional principle and the wise structure of our government. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
June 30, 2011
Arbitration and History
June 24, 2011
In and Out of the Public Sector
June 21, 2011
Portsmouth Institute, "The Catholic Shakespeare?," Sunday, June 12
This year's Portsmouth Institute conference changed things up a bit by eliminating the one or two presentations from Thursday and lining up three for Sunday. It definitely made sense to better utilize the second weekend day, although the talks came in such rapid succession that a second viewing with time to ruminate is in order.
The speakers each took up a different play and offered some suggestion about their basis and meaning. First, Dr. Gerard Kilroy, of University College, London, assembled linguistic and thematic cues to suggest Romeo and Juliet as an allegory for believers and the Catholic Church, respectively:
The next speaker, Dennis Taylor, took a more historical approach in his review of Shakespeare's play The Tempest, tracing Catholic links to early efforts to explore the Americas. Apparently, some of the initial ventures in that effort carried with them the prospects of founding a refuge for English Catholics.
Closing out the day and the conference, Fr. David Beauregard took a religious and philosophical look at relationships, charity, and the development of virtue in The Tempest. (I apologize for the technical lapse in the middle of the speech.)
As always, I left the Portsmouth Abbey campus with a bit of melancholy that my annual taste of a more refined and intellectual life had come to a close. Was Shakespeare Catholic? Well, he was certainly sympathetic to Catholics' plight and had personal connections to people who were persecuted for their faith. Moreover, in the artist's quest for the profound, the tremendous religious turmoil of his day would have been a ready well.
With such venues and events as presented by the Portsmouth Institute, one can draw a sip and begin to see the deeper threads through the human experience, into our own day. Whatever the topic when next year comes around, it is always regenerative to find that the complications and labors of passing life are not all.
June 17, 2011
Portsmouth Institute, "The Catholic Shakespeare?," Saturday, June 11
The Saturday sessions of the Portsmouth Institute's conference, this year, began with Clare Asquith, speaking on "As You Like It and the Elizabethan Catholic Dilemma":
Mrs. Asquith's acute thesis is that Shakespeare wrote the play with a particular Catholic family in mind indeed, perhaps under that family's patronage. Her broader suggestion is that the religious atmosphere of the time couldn't help but permeate the plays. For one thing, the various religious identity groups created character types who would have to appear in order for the play to seem authentic; for another, religious images were very useful for drawing characters and creating allegory.
One interesting example of the deep questions and interesting dynamics that were practically in the air for the plucking was the conflict between those who favored light and those who favored dark. The "Golden Bride," for example, could be seen as desirable because pure or otherwise because phony, thus creating a fabulous literary device that depended on perspective say the distinction between Roman Catholics and Calvinists.
At any rate, there persisted, at the time, to be a sizable class of wealthy Catholics from whom Shakespeare could have derived patronage.
Next up was Dr. Glenn Arbery, of Assumption College, talking about "The Problem of Catholic Piety in the Henry VI Plays":
As you'll note from his accent, Dr. Arbery is a Southern man, and it's therefore not entirely surprising that he drew parallels between Shakespeare and William Faulkner, both of whom wrote at times of social adjustment, with all of the anxieties and changing orders that such times bring. When a society is thus shaking at its core, authors come to realize more deeply what its characteristics are who its people are and observe what it is being urged to become. There are good and bad in both, of course, just as there are positives and negatives in both the dark and the light (as Asquith put them), and part of what makes contemporary literature so rich is authors' inclination to highlight aspects of each, explicitly or inherently as a means of encouraging their societies to preserve or discard certain aspects.
Reading between the lines of Arbery's speech, one can discern inchoate buds of a distinction being made between what makes a good man and what makes a good leader (in the context of religion and monarchy). Secular democracy, though still a good distance off, was on its way an excellent development, to be sure. But Shakespeare's history plays warn of the sorts of men and women who will strive to be the alternative to the "good man" who is not such a good king.
After Arbery's talk (and lunch) buses took us down the length of Aquidneck Island to Stanford White's Newport Casino Theater, which has not been entirely completed, yet, but which hosted the next presentation for the conference, scenes from Hamlet performed by
Theater of the Word Incorporated interspersed with analytical narration by Joseph Pearce:
The method of presentation was an excellent and entertaining method of explaining a thesis (although it was dark and so entertaining that I didn't take notes). And the theater itself was sufficiently compelling as to make me wish I had time to write plays again.
Back on the campus of the Portsmouth Abbey School, Saturday finished with a dinner talk by Father Peter Milward, whom I understand to have led the charge of research into the Catholic dimension of Shakespeare's plays.
Fr. Milward made among the most interesting points of the weekend when he noted that persecution of Catholics had gradually increased over the 1500s, climaxing during Shakespeare's time. Ever since, the Protestants have written the history, as it were, making Shakespeare seem to be a secular writer. Now, as Milward puts it, England "is not so much anti-Catholic as anti-Christian."
So it goes. See it as evolution or progressive devolution, a society that teases its profundity away from the underlying conclusion that made it profound in the first place will drift until its philosophy is hollow and its language unable to support the many layers of true depth.
June 16, 2011
What We Expect from Our Leaders
June 14, 2011
Portsmouth Institute, "The Catholic Shakespeare?," Friday, June 10
As always, the Portsmouth Institute's annual conference was an edifying and relaxing taste of high intellectual pursuit, and one can only wish such events were more regularly available... and more broadly pursued by the general public.
Rt. Rev. Dom Aidan Bellenger, the Abbot of Downside, set the scene with the opening lecture on Friday afternoon. He described the religious upheaval during Shakespeare's time, during which "targeted attacks on tradition [cut] the culture adrift from its ancient moorings." Thus Shakespeare worked in an atmosphere of "creative tension of religious uncertainties."
Following Fr. Bellenger, Dr. John Cox, an English professor at Hope College, surveyed the use of prayer in Shakespeare. Specifically, Cox addressed the question of whether the prayers in Shakespeare's plays are notably Catholic, coming to the conclusion that they certainly show him to be knowledgeable of Christian practice and not unsympathetic, but that there was nothing strikingly Catholic about them. Overall, Shakespeare appears to have taken prayer seriously, and presented it as a sort of functional activity within a comprehensible moral framework, but he's dealing with characters (many unseemly), not with exegesis.
Later in the conference, I had occasion to mention to Dr. Cox my observation that prayer is very much like play writing in that the author is composing words to be spoken to convey some idea to an audience. He offered St. Augustine's Confessions as essentially a very long prayer, and I noted somebody's comments during Cox's Q&A session citing a character's use of the word "indulgence" when petitioning the audience for applause, as if the audience were a collection of saints available for appeal.
His reply was that some critics conclude that Shakespeare began to empty the language of profundity by using such words in light theatrical context and thus diminishing their utility for describing religious concepts. I wondered if that's led to a modern period in which the language provides the author no inherent profundity at all. But it also occurs to me that the double meaning of words is a very Catholic idea not to say that Catholics invented the device, but that (as with Transubstantiation) the religious significance of words exists as a real, almost tangible thing however used.
After Dr. Cox's talk, however, deep thoughts were swept away for the time being with a specially collected orchestra's fantastic performances of Sir William Walton's Henry V Suite and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, under the conducting of Troy Quinn:
Then, after a typically excellent Portsmouth Abbey meal, three students from the school offered the nightcap of some scenes from Romeo and Juliet:
June 9, 2011
Books and Stuff
May 26, 2011
Endorsements and Blame
Marc's call in to Matt Allen Show, last night, touched on the Projo's now-laughable endorsement of David Cicilline and Treasurer Gina Raimondo's efforts to blame nobody for the pension mess that she counts as the issue facing Rhode Island. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
May 19, 2011
What's Been Earned
May 12, 2011
A People Beaten Down
May 5, 2011
Andrew All Over the Radio
Andrew will also be on WRNI's Political Roundtable tomorrow, airing somewhere around 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. and streamable online thereafter.
April 29, 2011
A Winner by Fiat
Oh, happy day. Keynes and Hayek are back for round 2 of their rap war:
Not surprisingly, the representatives of the public sector and media, as portrayed in the video, have a preference.
April 28, 2011
A Main Page Summary
April 25, 2011
April 21, 2011
Talking with Tony
With Tony Cornetta filling in for Matt, I called in to the Matt Allen Show to mention David Cicilline's continuing dishonesty, Pennsylvania union overreach, and the effects of standardized testing. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
April 17, 2011
UPDATED: John Derbyshire: "Dissidents and Doom"
John Derbyshire, writer for National Review and author of We Are Doomed spoke last night to the Providence College Republicans, displaying his erudition and low-key humor on the topic of the dissident personality.
The upshot of Mr. Derbyshire's lecture had a relevance that I didn't expect to Rhode Island's current predicament. He spoke of "a dissident scene full of petty squabbles," which has certainly applied to Rhode Island's center-right reform movement at times over the past few years.
One question that would be worth further exploration arises from his very conservative suggestion that dissidents should have a due respect for the gods and pieties of the tribe, so to speak. That strikes me as applying a bit askew to Rhode Island and to the United States generally. Broadly speaking, our society is pretty sharply divided between two tribes, which has the effect of giving both a reasonable claim to dissidence (although conservatives have the better). The pieties of one are the blasphemes of the other.
Readers won't be surprised that my opinion is that dissidents of the Left are mainly conforming to a carefully woven groupthink that presumes itself to be the default truth for the culture. Still, resolving the conflict of opposing factions that each believes itself to be the righteous revolution founded in the original principles of our society will be quite a project... assuming the United States can survive it.
The title of Mr. Derbyshire's book gives some indication of what his opinion might be on that last count.
April 14, 2011
The Two Languages of Rhode Island
Monique's appearance on last night's Matt Allen Show focused on the distance between the people and businesses of Rhode Island and the governor and political class that presumes to lead the state... and are leading it into a ditch. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
April 7, 2011
To Anchor Rising for Further Study
March 31, 2011
The Government Way: Doing Less with More!
March 24, 2011
The Never-Ending Upward Line of Government Spending
March 17, 2011
Sacrifice Starting from Unequal Footing
March 10, 2011
Naming the Broader Tax Base
March 3, 2011
The Power of Blogs
I claimed an influence on Providence Mayor Angel Tavares with respect to his handling of education costs on last night's Matt Allen Show. Matt and I also touched on technical difficulties over at RI Future. It didn't occur to me to connect the two topics, but fertile ground for bombastic declarations exists in the fact that RI Futurre's founder is now a member of the Tavares administration. The influence of blogs! Stream by clicking here, or download it.
February 24, 2011
Human Nature and Unions
February 17, 2011
Catching Up with Matt Allen
Please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011 to help us create a full-time job within Anchor Rising.
February 3, 2011
How a Bill Gets a Hearing
Matt gave Andrew some running room, on last night's Matt Allen Show, to explain his findings on how the General Assembly can be made to operate a bit more like a real legislature. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
Imagine how much more of this sort of thing we could do if we didn't have to spend all day doing something else. Please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011 to help us create a full-time job within Anchor Rising.
January 27, 2011
The Science of Test Scores
Once again, I didn't go into the sales pitch, but please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011 to help us create a full-time job within Anchor Rising.
January 20, 2011
Who's Leaving and What the Legislators Are Doing
Once again, I didn't go into the sales pitch, but please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011 to help us create a full-time job within Anchor Rising.
January 13, 2011
Once again, I didn't go into the sales pitch, but please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011 to help us create a full-time job within Anchor Rising.
January 7, 2011
The audio from today's WRNI Political Roundtable is up.
December 30, 2010
Politics and Redemption
I didn't go into the sales pitch, but please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011 to help us create a full-time job within Anchor Rising.
December 23, 2010
What They're Planning, and What We Should Plan
The insights available through Andrew's liveblog of that event (here, here, and here) illustrate well the ability of Anchor Rising to collect and analyze the likely strategies of the folks who've laid Rhode Island low and thereby prepare counter arguments. Such activities are crucial if Rhode Island is to turn itself around and may prove critical just to avert utter ruination over the next two years. Please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011.
December 20, 2010
Two Senators and a Rep (with Correction)
Last Tuesday, when I summarized some points that two state senators and a representative made to the Tiverton School Committee, I misstated something that Democrat Rep. Jay Edwards said, and he corrected me in the comments to the post. At the meeting, Edwards mentioned meetings with the House speaker (Gordon Fox) and the Democrat majority leader (Nicholas Mattiello), saying that the latter is relatively conservative on matters of teachers' unions and education. Because Edwards referred to them only as "speaker" and "leader," I mistakenly conflated the two and said that he'd characterized the speaker as conservative.
For those interested in the content of the delegation's visit, here's the video:
December 16, 2010
Teachers, Meetings, Speeches, and Money
How Central Falls should resolve its education problems, meeting (or not) with the governor-elect, speaking to the Tea Party, and needing dough were the topics when Matt and I spoke last night on the Matt Allen Show. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
Again, please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011.
December 10, 2010
Taking Up the Problem
Here's my speech to the RI Tea Party meeting, on Wednesday:
The speech is only incidentally a sales pitch, but it's worth tagging on the reminder that you can email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011, helping to create a full-time job doing what we do, addressing the problems that I raised on Wednesday night.
December 9, 2010
Immigrants and Bake Sales
Again, please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011.
Doreen Debuts as Representative Costa
Fresh from orientation at the General Assembly, State Representative Doreen Costa (R, Exeter, North Kingstown) told the crowd of about 100 people attending last night's RI Tea Party Strategy meeting about her day:
Of particular note, Costa mentioned that the equipment is in place and almost final to post the results of every vote of the General Assembly on the legislature's Web site within minutes of its being tallied, including who voted how. Anybody who's ever tried to sort through the legislative journals to give legislators credit or blame will appreciate not having to do so anymore.
One interesting take on a social issue: Costa doesn't think passage of same-sex marriage legislation is likely and that raising it would be a distraction from the critical problems of the state. She went so far as to suggest that, if Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee decides to push the issue, it would be "political suicide."
Costa also announced that she'd declined the General Assembly's healthcare benefit (and, presumably, the waiver payments available for those who don't take it). The handful of representatives who were doing the same, as of last April included Roberto DaSilva, John Edwards, Christopher Fierro (since knocked out in the primary), Scott Guthrie, Joy Hearn, Robert Jacquard, Peter Kilmartin (now attorney general), Michael Marcello, Rene Menard, and Patricia Serpa, with Frank Maher as the lone senator.
December 2, 2010
Toward Changing the Conversation in Rhode Island
Again, please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support as subscriptions, donations, or advertising for 2011. We've still got a long, long way to go.
November 18, 2010
Prognostication and Remedy
I used our Wednesday call to the Matt Allen Show to connect our current pledge drive with the dire prognostication for the state. Stream by clicking here, or download it. Anchor Rising has been critical in the opposition movement (so to speak) over the years, and there would be tremendous value in helping us to expand our activities rather than watch them retract, as has already begun to happen, given economic reality.
It occurs to me to clarify, by the way, that we're seeking pledges for the entire year. We won't be knocking on doors expecting the checks in their full amounts the moment we hit the threshold at which one of us can focus on Anchor Rising full-time. Monthly, quarterly, semiannual, and periodic payments would be wonderful. We just need to line up the support that will enable our leap and then manage the books to ensure that enough is coming in on a regular basis to keep our employee above water.
November 11, 2010
At Least We'll Keep Our Humor
Speaking with Matt last night, on the Matt Allen Show, about recent developments in the state, Marc lived by example the principle that we must at least keep our sense of humor. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
November 4, 2010
A Journal of the Downfall
October 7, 2010
The Best and the Worst of the Legislature
September 30, 2010
The Unthrilling Election
September 16, 2010
September 9, 2010
Corruption and the Kids
September 2, 2010
Bonds, Morals, and Conservatism
On last night's Matt Allen Show, Andrew touched on the nature of conservatism and the trustworthiness of the General Assembly when it comes to moral obligations to pay debts. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
August 26, 2010
Covering AR Ground
August 5, 2010
Topics Local and International
July 29, 2010
Borders, National and Educational
July 23, 2010
Digging into Government
Calling in to the Matt Allen Show, Wednesday night, Andrew described the series of posts on and pending on Anchor Rising addressing some of the basic facts of Rhode Island governance. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
July 15, 2010
UDATED: Government Supplanteth
UPDATE: The audio links weren't working this morning; they are now fixed.
Just before I called in to the Matt Allen Show, last night, guest host Tony Cornetta had been discussing whether bringing home federal dollars was an accomplishment of Congressman Patrick Kennedy's of which we all should be proud. I brought up for consideration that study, recently discussed hereabouts, that federal dollars actually supplant activity in the private economy. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
July 8, 2010
A Candidate and a Blog
July 2, 2010
Portsmouth Institute 2010 Table of Contents
With summer now fully underway, we return to ordinary life. Yet, moments and ideas drawn from the Portsmouth Institute's conference on "Newman and the Intellectual Tradition" linger, and one needn't but scoop away life's loose gravel to find the undercurrents that run through thought and living both. Something in the structure of Catholicism and in the emphases of its theology keeps intellectualism from drifting too far from experience. There is always that Man on the cross reminding us that belief must be lived and metaphysics must be applied.
Thanks once again to Jamie MacGuire both for organizing the event and for inviting Anchor Rising to participate and gather the speeches into online video so that the experience may be relived.
Friday, June 11:
Rev. George Rutler, "The Anglican Newman & Recent Developments"
Professor Paul Griffiths, "The Grammar of Assent"
Dr. Peter Kreeft, "The Dream of Gerontius"
Edward Elgar evening concert
Fr. Richard Duffield, "The Newman Cause"
Saturday, June 11:
Edward Short, "Newman and the Americans"
Patrick Reilly, "Newman and the Renewal of Catholic Identity in Higher Education"
Rev. Ian Ker, "Newman's (and Pope Benedict XVI's) Hermeneutic of Continuity"
July 1, 2010
Government and Related Matters
June 28, 2010
Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Rev. Ian Ker
The final lecture of the Portsmouth Institute's 2010 conference on "Newman and the Intellectual Tradition" was given by Oxford Theology Professor Rev. Ian Ker, on "Newman's (and Pope Benedict XVI's) Hermeneutic of Continuity." Introducing Rev. Ker was frequent Providence Journal contributor and Providence College Professor Fr. David Stokes.
(The remainder of Rev. Ker's speech is available in the extended entry of this post.)
As the title suggests, the conference closed pretty deeply into the specificities of its subject, Newman, and the Church in which he will soon be a saint, the Roman Catholic Church. One point, however, that is broadly relevant to contemporary discourse in the United States is that it was not a healthy turn of events for the Catholic Church to be established as a state religion. As Ker reports Newman's view: "Italy would be more religious were it necessary for religion to fight for its place."
Another supremely relevant point derives from Newman's observation that, in different times and places, monasteries became refuges for religious people when secular society became too oppressive. One application of that to the modern day might be that the Church must assert its presence more forcefully in education in order to extend that refuge beyond the proverbial monastery to the laity. How better could the Church model the signifying function of Christianity?Continue reading "Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Rev. Ian Ker"
June 26, 2010
Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Patrick Reilly
According to its Web site, the Cardinal Newman Society works to "renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education." To that end, the organization's president spoke on "Newman and the Renewal of Catholic Identity in Higher Education" at the Portsmouth Institute's 2010 conference, here introduced by Portsmouth Abbey Headmaster James DeVecchi:
(The remainder of Mr. Reilly's speech is available in the extended entry of this post.)
Reilly began with some statistics from a recent survey showing that students at Catholic universities still tend to drift toward the views of the secular political left on social issues (most prominently abortion and same-sex marriage), although as I recall, religious schools do mitigate the effect somewhat and also preserve the connection to the Church (among its adherents), presumably easing a future return to Catholic ethics. Still, Reilly's argument is sound that Catholic institutions of higher learning have some readjustment to do when it comes to the balance between their religious mission and their educational mission.
Notably, following on Newman's view of the university, Reilly emphasizes the environment. In Newman's conception, the experience of college life was as important as the subject matter, and Reilly points out that many Catholic colleges put aside the Catholicism of faculty and staff in order to improve standing and educational product. As I said, there is an appropriate balance to be struck, but if professors and other institutional leaders are to be advisers and role models, it's hardly reasonable to expect those who do not believe in the Church's teachings to model them.
Reilly suggests that the control of campus life has been reduced to an administrative function that separates the intellectual and moral formation of students from their college experience. In other words, he believes that Newman's view of such institutions as an opportunity for holistic life training has fallen out of fashion. I think he's incorrect, here. The actuality and the actual complaint that those who share our worldview should make is that the training has become adverse to Catholic principles, in favor of those of the secular left. There is no void; the gap has just been left to non-Catholic even anti-Catholic forces with an interest in college-age adults to fill.
On the matter of education, Reilly argues in line with Newman that universities cannot remove the existence of God from other topics and still present it as something possible. If believers' concept of God is true, then every intellectual pursuit is ultimately a subset of knowledge of the divine. Religion, in other words, cannot be made a secondary elective to fill out students' schedules in a subordinate way to "important" topics like science, math, and art, because the foundations of those subjects necessarily rest in existential questions, and they all continually run into ethical choices that they cannot answer by their own discipline.
This isn't to say that every professor should be required to incorporate religion into the teaching of their courses. Rather, the claim is that a university cannot present its offering as comprehensive education if it dismisses a central topic of existence as unworthy of required research and debate.
An interesting moment came when Professor Paul Griffiths, who remained throughout the conference after his own lecture, ran into some disagreement with Reilly over the degree of concern that active Catholics should have regarding the Catholicity of Catholic schools. The Duke professor suggested, by way of argument, that the Catholic segments of non-Catholic schools are often stronger and more faithful to the Church's teaching.
It's an exchange worth considering in greater detail, but my initial thought was that parents and students should have the option between public and Catholic institutions, but insofar as they desire a Catholic one, it should be fully as advertised. Reilly's premise, it seems to me, points in the direction of emphasizing Catholicity as a differentiation of Catholic universities rather than something to be de-emphasized.
In any case, it mightn't be a bad idea for the Cardinal Newman Society, or some other organization, to rate all Catholic programs in all colleges and universities with respect to their fidelity to Church teaching and the opportunities that they offer for participation in a Catholic campus culture.Continue reading "Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Patrick Reilly"
June 24, 2010
Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Edward Short
The Saturday session of the Portsmouth Institute conference on Cardinal John Henry Newman began with a speech concerning Newman's view of American religion.
(The remainder of Mr. Short's speech is available in the extended entry of this post.)
As one finds with a great many authors of the past few centuries, Newman treated the United States as an analog and a metaphor typically in a positive light. A theme that arises specifically with religion, though, is the effect of economic mobility.and opportunity.
As Short puts it, self-made men and women have made their own success, tackled their own trials, exerted their own effort, and in the process of gaining status have had no time to develop intellectual habits. They are religious, therefore: "not for love and fear, but for good sense."
During the question and answer period at the end of the lecture, the audience proved more interested in current trends and controversies in the United States than in Newman's view of our ancestors his contemporaries. Indeed, a bit of a debate broke out about the appropriate reaction of Catholics to the spirit of the day.
For his part, I'd say that Short was perhaps the most optimistic commentator on American Catholicism's prospects that I've yet heard.Continue reading "Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Edward Short"
A Recreational Call
Marc gave a quick review of Anchor Rising's content, on last night's Matt Allen Show. The theme seemed to be recreation, with mention of fireworks, soccer, and Andrew's attempt to take Patrick Lynch seriously. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
June 20, 2010
Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Fr. Richard Duffield
The after-dinner speech of the Portsmouth Institute's Friday, June 11, session centered around Cardinal John Henry Newman's residence, the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, in Birmingham, England, and efforts to collect and preserve his writings. With a video about the effort, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly introduced the Oratory's current provost, Fr. Richard Duffield, who gave the lecture.
(The remainder of Fr. Duffield's speech is available in the extended entry of this post.)
I've quite a number of one-line quotations jotted in my notes, but they're much more profound in the context of Fr. Duffield's presentation. One that stands out, though, is his description of Cardinal Newman's "prophetic stand against 'compromises of the spirit of the age": "People don't like to have the consequences of their compromises pointed out to them."
Of more thematic significance, given the threads that I've been tracing throughout the Portsmouth Institute's conference, is Fr. Duffield's suggestion that the Oratory's project allows Newman scholars to conduct their research in harmony with the environment in which the Cardinal did his work. The conference itself presents a parallel, with its religious services and evening vespers on the grounds of a school-monastery.
Indeed, it further illustrates the cohesive whole of the Catholic tradition, in which it is possible to investigate the writings of a great intellect not only within the building that he inhabited, but very nearly within the lifestyle from which he drew his experience.Continue reading "Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Fr. Richard Duffield"
June 18, 2010
Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Edward Elgar
Among the tremendous pleasures of the Portsmouth Institute's annual conference are the musical interludes. (Of course, I write that as a high-culture junky who can rarely afford a fix.) Friday night's concert feature music by Edward Elgar was no exception. The first three clips feature selections from Elgar's song cycle "The Dream of Gerontius," based on the poem by Cardinal John Henry Newman, and the rest feature an Elgar composition for string orchestra. The former were performed by Jeffrey Nardone (tenor), Kara Harris (mezzo-soprano), and Michael Kregler (piano), and the latter by the Portsmouth Institute String Orchestra.Continue reading "Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Edward Elgar"
June 17, 2010
Putting a Stop to Citizen Action
As he often does, Andrew used his appearance on the Matt Allen Show, last night, to put a topic on which he's been expounding on Anchor Rising in the plain terms by which it affects Rhode Islanders. This time, that topic was the new municipal receivership law. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
June 16, 2010
Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Prof. Griffiths
The lecture on Cardinal John Henry Newman's Grammar of Assent, by Duke Divinity School Professor Paul Griffiths, reminded me what I miss about college. To think of such high and fundamental reasoning being a subject of everyday contemplation and discussion! (We strive for some small taste of that, on Anchor Rising, but it's just not the same when partaken during 15-minute coffee breaks on the construction site.)
Portsmouth Abbey teacher Dimitra Zelden gave a humorous introduction of the speaker:
(The remainder of Prof. Griffiths' speech is available in the extended entry of this post.)
Among the quotations that I jotted in my notebook (a neat imprinted one included in the Portsmouth Institute's registration package) is: "Credulity is the first principle of good cognitive functioning." Put differently, thought must be premised on belief in something. This belief a general sense, really, of how the world functions forms an "illative sense" that intellectual and even empirical argumentation cannot ultimately change.
At first stating, the conclusion seems bleak. Prof. Griffiths denied the possibility of ultimately convincing others of a proposition to which their illative sense will not allow them to assent, because the first belief necessary for a change of position that the world can be such that a proposition to which we're opposed can be true is not subject to rational dispute. "When we disagree fundamentally, argument is almost always useless."
In response to an audience question about whether argument therefore comes down to a resort to force, Griffiths offered the alternative strategies of "prayer and fasting" and the emphasis on (I'd term it) argument by aesthetics. Appeal to people's sense of beauty, of which truth is a natural component.
A number of directions for exploration present themselves. First, it seems to me that the end of argumentation's fruitful run brings us to the realm of politics, and that democracy's signal purpose is to redirect the impulse of sides to impose their views on those who disagree (which, objectively considered, circumstances will sometimes require) toward a non-violent process. Second, Griffiths' thesis (or Newman's, if the speaker was not adding his own extrapolation) risks eliding everything between intellectual argument and political or military force for those habituated to emphasize rationality.
It is critical to be aware that argument is really just one form of appeal. Debate appeals to logic. Beauty appeals to aesthetics. Violence appeals to survival instinct. Furthermore, there's no border between logic and aesthetics; it's more of a spectrum, with the upshot being a conclusion that Christians have understood even where they could not state it: To convince ultimately requires a change in illative sense, which must be accomplished through proof of action. That is to say charity, as well as an attractive relationship with the world, whether comfortable or challenging. Christ's indomitability even as His material circumstances thrust Him toward the cross stands as the stark model.Continue reading "Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Prof. Griffiths"
June 15, 2010
Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Fr. Rutler
As with last year, Rev. George Rutler pastor of the Church of Our Savior in New York City and well-known author gave the opening speech of the Portsmouth Institute's annual conference, although this year, his wasn't a lone Thursday speech, limiting his audience, but a fully attended Friday morning affirmation of anticipation.
Introducing Fr. Rutler, writer Edward Short made much of the shared Anglican beginnings of the speaker and the subject of this year's conference, Cardinal John Henry Newman. The recently deceased founder of First Things journal, Fr. Richard Neuhaus, also began as an Anglican, as I recall. It needn't be a slight against mainline Protestantism to note these high-profile conversions as evidence that the Roman Catholic Church excels in acknowledging and fostering the habits of intellectuals.
(The remainder of Fr. Rutler's speech is available in the extended entry of this post.)
Joining that observation with my initial musings at the conference's beginning having to do with my religion's understanding that everything in human society, notably religious structure and wealth, can point toward a spiritual undercurrent in life one can't help but marvel at the comprehensiveness the catholicity of the Church. Intellectual habits can also bore down to that flowing well of internal peace, although as with structure and wealth, it must be cultivated in right order.
The tragedy (although that may be too strong of a word) is that such blessings are difficult to convey to the young, and modern society certainly doesn't encourage the accumulation of wealth, for example, on the grounds that it helps to create an environment conducive to contemplative strolls. If that were more a point of emphasis, perhaps more young adults would follow other paths toward the same ends, whether intellectual, charitable, or religious life.
There's ever hope, though, I suppose. I think of Ryan Bilodeau, who had been an active and well connected young Republican activist in Rhode Island and is now well into the seminarian's procession toward the priesthood. In conversation, last year, he made clear that the possibility of an intellectual life, with the space for prayer and deep consideration, in proximity to the incomparable context and content of God, was an attractive part of such a life. Indeed, it is.
On a tangential shoot of this notion of an accessible current, running through and beneath society, I note that the moderator of Fr. Rutler's question and answer period, Vincent Millard, referenced the priest's staying at Millard's house in Little Compton, the town directly south from my home in Tiverton. Little Compton comes up, from time to time, with a surprising number of connections to national scenes particularly with a conservative bent. Having gotten myself lost on the rural byways of the town a time or two, it's not difficult to see why successful people of various professions would take up residency there. Once again, though, I find I'm hovering on a fringe, in a neighborhood more properly seen as a suburb of urban and deteriorating Fall River, Massachusetts. (Where, I recall, Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton once mentioned staying.)Continue reading "Portsmouth Institute Conference on Newman: Fr. Rutler"
June 10, 2010
Craziness and Hope
Matt and I consoled each other about the craziness of Rhode Island politics on last night's Matt Allen Show, with the reasons for hope to be found in conversations such as we have here, on Anchor Rising. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
June 3, 2010
E-Verify and the General Assembly
May 28, 2010
A Unique Notion: Previewing Legislation Before It's Passed
On Wednesday night's Matt Allen Show, Andrew expressed surprise at the unique notion of attorney general candidate Erik Wallin that he should release his preferred legislation so early that he's not even in office, yet. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
May 20, 2010
Campaign Fire Money
Monique's topic on the Matt Allen Show, last night, was David Kane's intended use of the settlement money that he receives as the father of a Station Nightclub fire victim to prevent Attorney General Patrick Lynch's advancement into the governor's seat. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
May 13, 2010
Radio Last Night & This Morning
I'll be on the John DePetro Show, this morning at 6:20 a.m. for the same purpose.
May 6, 2010
What Reamortization Means to a Future Business Owner
April 30, 2010
On the Political Roundtable
Ian Donnis and co. invited me to participate in today's WRNI Political Roundtable, on the topics of teachers unions, Central Falls, polls, and wind. You can listen here.
April 29, 2010
FIXED:Tea Parties and Healthcare Polling
Update: The links weren't working earlier; they're fixed.
April 22, 2010
TCC on the Richard Urban Show
Two other members of Tiverton Citizens for Change and I had the opportunity to talk Tiverton budgetary politics on the Richard Urban Show, yesterday. The video is up on the TCC Web site.
Blog Interview on the Radio
April 21, 2010
Interview with RI's Education Commissioner
Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Gist has reworked her office space. The unguided visitor would surely pass her desk by, thinking it that of a secretary although a secretary to whom it would not be clear, because she has knocked down the wall to the large corner office and transformed it into an inviting conference area. That was the room to which she led me for our interview, yesterday afternoon.
Our conversation touched on obvious topics such as union participation in the Race to the Top application, regionalization, and vouchers, but I also asked about her office's appropriate involvement in communities and the relevance of school department-taxpayer relationships to the state.
I'll have further commentary as my schedule loosens, but here is the unedited video. (Click "continue reading" for segments one and two.)
Continue reading "Interview with RI's Education Commissioner"
April 15, 2010
Talking Money with Matt
April 9, 2010
Flipping Political Coins with Amendments
On Wednesday's Matt Allen Show, Andrew brought up the interesting juxtaposition that, while some states' attorney generals are suing the federal government over healthcare with reference to the 10th Amendment, Massachusetts's Martha Coakley is making a 10th Amendment argument against national marriage law. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
April 4, 2010
Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 4, General Assembly Candidate Michael Grassi
Slipping in at the end of Wednesday's Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates event, General Assembly candidate Michael Grassi got to go it solo for a bit and managed to run out the battery on my camcorder. (Click the "continue reading" link for more video.)
Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 4, General Assembly Candidate Michael Grassi"
April 3, 2010
Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 3, 2nd Congressional District Candidates
The candidates for the second Congressional district had a lively time at Wednesday's Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates event. The more contentious segments is the third in this post. (Click the "continue reading" link for more video.)
Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 3, 2nd Congressional District Candidates"
Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 2, Lieutenant Governor
The only candidate for lieutenant governor who was able to make it to Wednesday's Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates event was Robert Healey, who treated the audience to an edifying and entertaining monologue. (Click the "continue reading" link for more video.)
Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 2, Lieutenant Governor"
Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 1, General Assembly Candidates
The first batch of video corresponding with my liveblog of Wednesday's Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates event covers the candidates for General Assembly. (Click the "continue reading" link for more video.)
Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 1, General Assembly Candidates"
April 1, 2010
Of Twitter and Governing Water
March 25, 2010
Politics at Night
On last night's Matt Allen Show, Marc and Matt discussed various topics including the multiple candidates for representation of the second Congressional district The frequent question is why Republicans don't run for General Assembly seats, rather than crowd onto the ticket for higher offices. I'm beginning to think that it may be less a matter of prestige than of income; national offices, the governorship, and so on, come with paychecks. There are fewer union members and lawyers among Republicans, so fewer can afford to invest so much time and effort into fruitless General Assembly offices. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
March 18, 2010
Talking About the Demon Pass
Monique and Matt talked about the foolishness that is "deem and pass" on last night's Matt Allen Show. The biggest question seems to be: Whom do the legislators think the maneuver is going to fool, especially now that it's become a catch phrase? Stream by clicking here, or download it.
March 11, 2010
Early Education on Education
March 4, 2010
A Toll on the Governor's Race
For my call in to the Matt Allen Show, last night, the topics were the proposed toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge and Board of Regents Member Angus Davis statements against Lincoln Chafee and the importance of maintaining a strong chain of authority for necessary reform up every rung of government. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
March 3, 2010
RI Tea Party Meeting Video, Continued
I'm finally catching up with myself and have processed the rest of the video from the RI Tea Party's meeting in January. To refresh your memory, here's my liveblog from the event, and here's the video of Colleen Conley and Steve Laffey speaking.
In the extended entry of this post, readers can find the brief presentations of Ocean State Policy Research Institute Executive Director Bill Felkner, Congressional Candidate Mark Zaccaria, and Operation Clean Government's Sandra Thompson.Continue reading "RI Tea Party Meeting Video, Continued"
March 2, 2010
Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 4
Additional video from the Rhode Island Voter Coalition Burrillville "meet the candidates" General Assembly Q&A may be found in the extended entry.Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 4"
March 1, 2010
Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 2
Additional video from the Rhode Island Voter Coalition Burrillville "meet the candidates" attorney general Q&A may be found in the extended entry.Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 2"
Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 1
Additional video from the Rhode Island Voter Coalition Burrillville "meet the candidates" gubernatorial Q&A may be found in the extended entry.Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 1"
February 28, 2010
Rhode Island Statewide Coalition Winter Meeting Table of Contents
Anchor Rising's complete coverage of the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition's winter meeting:
- My on-the-scene liveblog
- Video: RISC Chairman Harry Staley's opening remarks
- Video: 630AM/99.7FM Host John DePetro
- Video: Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo
- Video: RISC President James Beale and Business Network Organizer Jeff Deckman
- Video: Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri
- Video: Board of Regents Member Angus Davis
Governor Don Carcieri at the RISC Winter Meeting
As has been a regular tradition Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri spoke at the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition's 2010 winter meeting, described in my liveblog of the event. (More video in the extended entry.)Continue reading "Governor Don Carcieri at the RISC Winter Meeting"
Jim Beale and Jeff Deckman on the RISC Business Network
RISC President James Beale and Business Network Organizer Jeff Deckman went into detail about the Business Network at the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition's 2010 winter meeting, described in my liveblog of the event. (More video in the extended entry.)Continue reading "Jim Beale and Jeff Deckman on the RISC Business Network"
February 27, 2010
630AM/99.7FM Host John DePetro at RISC's Winter Meeting
RISC Chairman Harry Staley Opens the RISC Winter Meeting
Rhode Island Statewide Coalition Chairman Harry Staley opened the group's 2010 winter meeting, described in my liveblog of the event, by noting their years of activity and the hope that this is the one that the effects are truly felt in Rhode Island. (More video in the extended entry.)Continue reading "RISC Chairman Harry Staley Opens the RISC Winter Meeting"
Board of Regents Member Angus Davis at RISC's Winter Meeting
NOTE: Any members of the media who couldn't make it to the meeting and rely on this video for future reports are encouraged to do so, but a brief note of the video's source would be appreciated.
Rhode Island Board of Regents member Angus Davis came out with guns blazing in a surprise speech at the Winter meeting of the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition, as described in my liveblog of the event. (More video in the extended entry.)
Davis was especially animated when discussing an email from gubernatorial candidate Linc Chafee at the beginning of this clip.
Yesterday, I received an email from Senator Chafee. In this email, Senator Chafee asked for clarification on whether or not teachers had really been offered 100% job security, describing it as, quote, the basic question that must be settled, unquote. He said he does not want to, quote, inherit the labor mess, unquote, as he works to build a more prosperous Rhode Island as governor.Continue reading "Board of Regents Member Angus Davis at RISC's Winter Meeting"
What kind of leadership thinks the basic question about a school in which only half of children graduate and 90% can't do basic math what kind of leadership thinks that the basic question involves job security for its adults rather than the educational outcomes for its children?
Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo at RISC's Winter Meeting
NOTE: Any members of the media who couldn't make it to the meeting and rely on this video for future reports are encouraged to do so, but a brief note of the video's source would be appreciated.
Herewith, the video of the speech given by Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo at the Winter meeting of the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition, as described in my liveblog of the event. (More video in the extended entry.)
Although the entire speech is notable as the most comprehensive statement of Supt. Gallo's position that I've seen (and I don't claim to have searched high and low), the beginning of this segment may be a new news item:
I'll answer now, although I was never asked by anyone: No. We can't mediate now. I'll say it clearly, and I mean no offense to anyone, but those ads continue. What kind of an effort at true desire for change when you keep those ads.Continue reading "Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo at RISC's Winter Meeting"
February 25, 2010
Politics & Pupils
February 22, 2010
Moderate Party Kick-Off Event Video, Part 4
Closing out the video that corresponds with my liveblog from the Moderate Party's kick-off event, herewith are the clips of Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Block's presentation. (Additional video in the extended entry.)Continue reading "Moderate Party Kick-Off Event Video, Part 4"
Moderate Party Kick-Off Event, Part 3
Following along with my liveblog of the Moderate Party's kick-off event, on Sunday, at the Everyman Bistro in Providence, the next videos are the presentations and speeches of the candidates for Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor (Additional video in the extended entry.)Continue reading "Moderate Party Kick-Off Event, Part 3"
Moderate Party Kick-Off Event Video, Part 2
As described in my liveblog, the Moderate Party's kick-off event, on Sunday, at the Everyman Bistro in Providence, began with Executive Director Christine Hunsinger and Chairman Robert Corrente. (Additional video in the extended entry.)Continue reading "Moderate Party Kick-Off Event Video, Part 2"
Moderate Party Kick-Off Event Video, Part 1
After the Moderate Party's kick-off event, yesterday, Andrew and I had the opportunity to interview Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Block, Lt. Gov. Candidate Jean Ann Guliano, and Attorney General Candidate Chris Little. Here are the videos (click the extended entry for the latter two.)
A couple of quick thoughts:
- Ken Block is more liberal than I'd thought. He's much more comfortable with the welfare industry than one would expect from a "fiscal conservative." Although he'll take the easy fruit of eVerify, I'm not so confident that he'd oppose amnesty-type programs. He sees same-sex marriage as a "civil rights issue" and would vote for it. And he's pro-choice. Interestingly, he referred to his upbringing when stating his views on abortion, as if being pro-choice is a religion into which one is raised.
- It's a shame that the Republicans didn't recruit Guliano. If the GOP has no candidate, she's got a shot, and if she were the GOP candidate, I think her chances would have been good.
February 19, 2010
Learning to Hear the Union
Mike at Assigned Reading is dead on that the Newsmakers head-to-head between Central Falls union representative Jim Parisi and Superintendent Frances Gallo is very revealing about the two sides' priorities. Perhaps the most crystallized example of unions' determination to spin rather than inform because everything's "negotiable" comes at approximately 9: in the video:
Asked about the extra tasks that the administration is requesting from teachers, Parisi says:
What people aren't informed of is that Central Falls teachers already have more common planning time and professional time than any other public school district in the state, because we were a willing partner to make that happen. How come the union and its teachers don't get the credit for something like that?
Sounds like a reasonable statement, no? The teachers are already working hard, compromising, so that they can accomplish as much as possible for their students. Well, the spin unravels when Gallo explains:
That time is taken out of the school day out of the instructional school day. We're trying to add the time to the after school time so that the instructional day remains such. We actually have an instructional day of just over four hours.
In other words, that state-leading planning and sit-down time was negotiated as time away from the most difficult part of the job: interacting with the students. A union will brag about helping its clients to lower their blood pressure leaving out, of course, that it does so with a knife.
February 18, 2010
Schools and Dollar Signs
February 11, 2010
On the Culture of Snow
Matt and I pondered the cultural causes of snow-aversion on the Matt Allen Show, last night. Is it related to global warming (or lack thereof)? Is it related to the Internet and video games? Stream by clicking here, or download it.
I actually think it's a softening of our regional character. We once braved the weather, in the Northeast. We dealt with it. We put the chains on the tires and felt as if we're ready. Now, people have become enamored of the opportunity to run and hide. I suppose, therefore, it's less a matter of diminished bravery against the snow as it is diminished fortitude against the daily grind of life.
February 5, 2010
For Those Who Couldn't Make the Announcement
A reader has posted video of John Loughlin's candidacy announcement on YouTube:
February 4, 2010
A Conservative at the Library
On the Matt Allen Show, last night, Andrew admitted to using the public library (albeit a couple of times per year) and suggested a reason for RI towns' fiscal profligacy. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
My two cents: Public libraries are wonderful resource for students and people who don't work. During a period when my wife's job gave her summers off, she took our children to the library all of the time, where the books and various programs kept them engaged and learning. Other folks seeking to find ways to fill their days, and perhaps those who work from home, also benefit from the system. Whether that's enough of a reason to fund libraries is up to each town to decide. Personally, I think a certain baseline access to knowledge, especially now that libraries can be a public portal to the Internet, is worth maintaining.
February 1, 2010
A Seat at the Roundtable
We can only hope that the Violent Roundtable hour, on Friday night, passed as enjoyably for listeners as for Marc, Monique, Matt Allen, and me (find out for yourself by downloading the podcast). We covered everything from the Fourteenth Amendment to the gubernatorial race to Anchor Rising's place in the secret cabal of right-wing reformers and whether we'll sell our souls.
For my part, I can only point out that one doesn't get to my level financial difficulty by lacking stubborn integrity, so my view of politics is of an "ain't got nothing, ain't got nothing to lose" sort. And of course, we've a good dynamic among the contributors and the commenters for keeping each other respectable.
January 29, 2010
From Tiverton to Patrick Lynch
January 28, 2010
RI Tea Party Meeting Video
Because the inquiries started before I'd gotten to the door, here is as much video as I was able to get up before most of y'all are awake. I'll add the presentations of Bill Felkner, Mark Zaccaria, and Sandra Thompson as soon as I'm able. Seven of ten segments are up (click on the extended entry).
Continue reading "RI Tea Party Meeting Video"
January 21, 2010
A Note on Availablegate
By now you've caught wind of Senator-elect Scott Brown's joking around about his daughters' availability on the dating scene:
I appreciate that it's an interesting topic about which to talk, but the conversations really tell you more about the people having them than about Brown. Even taking the joke as a significant gaffe (which I don't), there are too many off-stage factors that would mitigate the import.
I'm picturing a conversation, as the campaign really began to demand the family's time and effort, in which Brown's daughters joked with their father about his having to do something to make up for the effect on their social lives. That's pure conjecture, but it's an example of the sort of inside jokes and running gags that families can develop.
The line would have been better made at a more-private post-game celebration, but sheesh, the guy just came from out of nowhere to win a seat in revolutionary fashion the U.S. Senate.
A Brown Radio Call
January 14, 2010
On Activism & Chafee
On last night's Matt Allen Show, Matt and I discussed his interview with gubernatorial candidate Linc Chafee and the great need for good-government types to pay minute attention to our government, this year. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
By the way, Matt's interview with Chafee is up here.
January 11, 2010
A GOP-Heavy Beginning
On the first Anchor Rising call of the year to the Matt Allen Show, last Wednesday night, Marc took up the topics of legislators' letter to the governor and the possibility of a closed Republican primary. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
January 10, 2010
Extremity Doesn't Necessitate Impracticality in Politics
Matt Allen's Violent Roundtable on last Friday night is worth a listen even if only for the encouragement that there are such folks as Joe Trillo (R, Warwick) and Jon Brien (D, Woonsocket) in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and there are multiple specific statements worthy of thought.
One suggestion that merits targeted comment, though, is the notion that closing the parties' primaries would lead the extremes of each to leave moderate voters with no attractive option in the general election. That outcome strikes me as hugely improbable. For one thing, it's reasonable to suppose that the sorts of voters who are inclined to participate in primaries in the first place would also be more likely than the average to take a moment to register for one or the other.
More importantly, the "extremes" of the parties will quickly learn that it's unwise to put forward the most pure candidates they can find. Rather, they'll favor of the most pure candidates they think they can get away with. That may move the candidates slightly away from center, but hardly to a choice between unpalatable options. Indeed, one could argue that it would actually give voters a real option.
December 21, 2009
Garbage Goes Straight to Video
Mostly for the edification of Tiverton residents, I've posted the portion of the last town council meeting that represented the public hearing on a pay-as-you-throw trash program. Nine of the 10 video clips are in the extended entry.
Continue reading "Garbage Goes Straight to Video"
December 10, 2009
A Holiday for Hiring
December 4, 2009
Everybody's Got a Secret Plan
Last night, Matt and I mused on the unspoken and do-nothing plans of Rhode Island's leadership class when it comes to fixing the economy, Matt Allen Show. There's a related thread, here, to the conversation that Matt had been conducting during the previous hour, regarding Congressman Patrick Kennedy's support for micromanaging the credit card industry; Rhode Island is at the other end of the process whereby politicians seek to compile constituencies by promising to force other people to fund their lifestyles. By "the other end," I mean when the system begins to fall apart. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
November 30, 2009
Anybody who missed my appearance on WRNI's Political Roundtable on Friday can find the audio here. There were two points that I didn't manage to work into the extremely rapid format:
- In response to Scott MacKay's suggestion that the Roman Catholic Church would find its pews empty were it to be as intransigent on every issue as it is on abortion (vis Patrick Kennedy), it ought to be pointed out that few issues are as stark and straightforward as abortion. On one level, there is no room for prudential judgment on the question of whether it's morally proper to deliberately kill children for any reason short of life-and-death. On another level, there isn't really much room to work prudential judgment around abortion. In healthcare, for example, additional funding for abortion will be used for that purpose, but the expanded coverage and "improvements" to the healthcare system that Kennedy (for example) cited as justifying compromise are wholly prospective mostly suspect.
- Regarding Gordon Fox's day out at the ballpark with lobbyists, I would have liked to point out the effect of this whole frame of mind on the citizenry. Fox (to recap) sat in a $120 seat purchased by GTECH lobbyists at a Red Sox game and claims to have paid his way. Whatever the specifics of the case, if a carpenter like me were to be elected to office and err in judgment over a $100 sports ticket, the potential $10,000 fine would be devastating. Another problem with the oppressive effort to pluck all influence peddling from government is the adverse effect of making government a game that only people insulated from the risks can play. Shrinking government would be a better approach.
November 29, 2009
Tiverton School Committee Merit Pay Workshop Video, 6
Tiverton School Committee Merit Pay Workshop Video, 5
Tiverton School Committee Merit Pay Workshop Video, 4
Tiverton School Committee Merit Pay Workshop Video, 3
Tiverton School Committee Merit Pay Workshop Video, 2
Tiverton School Committee Merit Pay Workshop Video, 1
So when I arrived at last Tuesday's Tiverton School Committee workshop on merit pay for teachers, I set up such that I could capture the faces of speakers in the audience. But the committee out-thought me and positioned a microphone at the table typically set aside for the stenographer, and by the time I realized it, the more-appropriate side of the room was filled (and with my political opposition). Consequently, my video features mainly the backs of non-committee member participants. Consider it an effort to make the viewer feel as if he or she is actually there.
Each of these posts will include three videos, two in the extended entry.Continue reading "Tiverton School Committee Merit Pay Workshop Video, 1"
November 26, 2009
November 24, 2009
Voter Forum, Part 2
November 22, 2009
Thanks and Violence
At the tail end of Friday night's Violent Roundtable on the Matt Allen Show (the podcast of which may be found here), Matt asked Andrew, Marc, and I what we're thankful for. I've always found that to be a tough question, binding me up in considerations of appropriate pithiness.
Back during the dark days of my early adulthood, I'd have probably tossed out some heavy sarcasm phrased as levity that red M&Ms had reemerged, or something meant to imply that I found very little worthy of gratitude. A dumb, pitiful mindset, that was.
My difficulty now is quite the opposite. What am I thankful for? Well, literally everything. Sure, some items on that extensive list I include grudgingly; it's difficult to be jubilant about, say, the periodic sharp pains that accompany standing when I've been working low to the ground, but there they are, and truth be told, I'm thankful for the reminder that I'm aging, that I'm active, and that physical reality does place boundaries on the ability to contort one's body so as to swing a hammer with the correct velocity while crawling around in dust from a 150-year-old wall. And yet, that dust (whatever else it introduces to my body) brings odors rich with memory and imaginings. If it appears that thankfulness requires contradiction, well then, I'm thankful for the faith that the appearance is deceiving and the challenge of sorting through to the underlying truth.
Yes, yes, "everything" includes in large supply of all those aspects of life for which it is easy to be thankful. Family, friends, food, conversation. And certainly, there are changes to my current circumstances that I'd welcome with boundless enthusiasm... even as I give thanks for having had the experiences from which I'd emerged.
You can see why I hesitated before offering a "ditto" to the others' replies to Matt. I'll say this, though: I'm grateful that the final moments of the show were not indicative of our performance throughout, which I'd suggest is worth a listen.
November 19, 2009
Two Distinct Topics
November 13, 2009
A Fishy Kind of Reform
November 11, 2009
Talking About Merit Pay for Teachers
The footage from last night's discussion of merit pay by the Tiverton School Committee begins with Tiverton Citizens for Change President David Nelson and continues in the extended entry:Continue reading "Talking About Merit Pay for Teachers"
November 9, 2009
East Providence GOP Fall Fundraiser, Part 5
RI Tea Party founder Colleen Conley capped off the East Providence GOP's Thursday night fundraiser with a message that GOP politicians should certainly heed:
East Providence GOP Fall Fundraiser, Part 4
Interest in gubernatorial candidate Rory Smith is sufficient that his speech at the East Providence fundraiser on Thursday night, merits its own post:
East Providence GOP Fall Fundraiser, Part 3
Next up, from the East Providence fundraiser on Thursday night, is East Providence School Committee Chairman Anthony Carcieri:
Followed, in the extended entry, by General Assembly Candidate Tom Clupny, Attorney General Candidate Erik Wallin, and East Providence School Committee Vice Chairman Steve Santos.Continue reading "East Providence GOP Fall Fundraiser, Part 3"
East Providence GOP Fall Fundraiser, Part 2
The next batch of video from the East Providence fundraiser on Thursday night begins with Congressional Candidate John Loughlin:
In the extended entry: Loughlin's brief Q&A and East Providence Assistant Mayor Robert Cusack.Continue reading "East Providence GOP Fall Fundraiser, Part 2"
East Providence GOP Fall Fundraiser, Part 1
Herewith, the first YouTube clips from Thursday night's GOP fundraiser in East Providence.
In the extended entry: RIGOP Chairman Gio Cicione, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, and Congressional Candidate Mark Zaccaria.Continue reading "East Providence GOP Fall Fundraiser, Part 1"
November 5, 2009
Holding Court in RI
October 22, 2009
Andrew & Matt Talk Binding Arbitration
Last night's Anchor Rising on the Matt Allen Show was a bit more expansive than usual, as Andrew and Matt discussed binding arbitration's relationship to governing philosophy. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
October 18, 2009
Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates Forum Video: Q&A 3
By way of a reminder: Any of these posts that have a "Continue reading" link at the bottom include additional videos in the extended entry.Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates Forum Video: Q&A 3"
Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates Forum Video: Q&A 2
Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates Forum Video: Q&A 1
The question and answer section of the Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates Forum pretty much began with what sounded like a withdrawal from the governor's race by Joe Trillo and the introduction of probable candidate Rory Smith and only got more interesting from there. Be sure to click the "continue reading" link for more videos.Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates Forum Video: Q&A 1"
Two on the Roundtable
If you missed Andrew and Monique on Friday night's Violent Roundtable with Matt Allen, the online audio is definitely worth a listen. I'll tell you right now that I intend to... ummm... appropriate some of the points made thereon, and the only way in which to catch me is to listen for yourself.
Download it to your mp3 player (or your iPod, if you're one of those people).
October 17, 2009
Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates Forum Video: Opening Remarks
Herewith, video of the opening remarks and initial speakers from the four invited candidates at last night's forum:Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates Forum Video: Opening Remarks"
October 15, 2009
"The Hummel Report" Launches
Former WLNE-TV news reporter Jim Hummel has released the first video from his recently-opened-for-business website that is attempting to add something new to the local blogosphere: investigative reporting meeting television-level production standards, sans the television station. (Initial release of the videos is through the WPRO (630AM) radio website; Anchor Rising has a promotional relationship with the Matt Allen show on WPRO that this post and any future commentary on Hummel videos have nothing to do with.)
A major component of the success of any new-media venture hinges on its ability to uncover and explain news items of potential significance that traditional media has been missing. Judging by Hummel's first entry, about a Woonsocket police officer who has been on full salary for a decade despite not having to report for work, there's plenty of stuff out there that's been missed and that the public should be aware of for him to work with -- or perhaps more appropriately, to work against.
Bonus item: See Hummel confront Woonsocket Mayor Susan Menard -- and live to tell about it!
"The Hummel Report" Launches
Former WLNE-TV news reporter Jim Hummel has released the first video from his recently-opened-for-business website that is attempting to add something new to the local blogosphere: investigative reporting meeting television-level production standards, sans the television station. (Initial release of the videos is through the WPRO (630AM) radio website; Anchor Rising has a promotional relationship with the Matt Allen show on WPRO that this post and any future commentary on Hummel videos have nothing to do with.)
A major component of the success of any new-media venture hinges on its ability to uncover and explain news items of potential significance that traditional media has been missing. Judging by Hummel's first entry, about a Woonsocket police officer who has been on full salary for a decade despite not having to report for work, there's plenty of stuff out there that's been missed and that the public should be aware of for him to work with -- or perhaps more appropriately, to work against.
Bonus item: See Hummel confront Woonsocket Mayor Susan Menard -- and live to tell about it!
Families and the Lion
October 13, 2009
Vlog #9: Planning Against Human Nature
Herewith, further thoughts emerging from things said at healthcare town halls. The focus is, obviously, healthcare, but the argument is against socialism in general (ahem).
October 11, 2009
Congressional Candidate John Loughlin Healthcare Town Hall, 9/30/09
As I said, I was a little late to John Loughlin's healthcare town hall, a couple of weeks ago, but I did get most of it on video and capture a good number of interesting points from all involved.Continue reading "Congressional Candidate John Loughlin Healthcare Town Hall, 9/30/09"
October 9, 2009
Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2 Afternoon, Video: Young Republicans
Concluding the Saturday session of the Republican Northeast Conference was a trio of Young Republicans: Rhode Island's Ryan Neil Lund, Massachusetts' Matthew Boucher, and Britny McKinney, in from D.C.Continue reading "Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2 Afternoon, Video: Young Republicans"
Starting Small on a Big Stage?
Those who missed it (and are interested) can hear my WRNI Political Roundtable appearance here. (A preemptive admission: The different format from AM talk radio threw off my oratorical pacing, leaving me something to keep in mind next time.)
The speed of the show necessarily leaves many worthwhile thoughts unspoken, but one that I really wish I'd managed to make sparked from the collision of two distinct points made by Scott MacKay and Maureen Moakley: Scott had just complained that promising conservatives and Republicans always shoot for the high-profile federal jobs, when they should start at the state level, and Maureen jumped on the centralization train. These two concepts are in inevitable conflict.
If we acknowledge that one of Rhode Island's major problems is the dearth of fresh voices in government and the wall of intellectual and habitual rubble that protects entrenched interests and keeps citizens from becoming more involved, then collecting the state's power base into larger groups is clearly the wrong move. Scott had it right that Republicans and other reformers in the state should start small and view their ascent in long terms. In order to make that path attractive or even plausible there must remain local positions that have the responsibility and authority that enables newly minted public servants to learn and maintain their motivation.
The "regionalization" and (now) "centralization" buzzwords have strong currency on the right, of course. Some in the right-leaning minority of the state seem to have an inexplicable belief that we'll be able to impose a libertarian-conservative structure from above as we simultaneously reform the manifold governing systems into fewer. The problem with this intellectual approach is that it's a back door to statism: We solve the problem not by moving authority toward the people and other social mechanisms, but to an increasingly legitimized Big Brother.
More importantly, advocating for a reform on the basis of the abstract final product ignores the predicament that we're actually in. Those with imbalanced and undeserved power, in Rhode Island, will not sit idly by while their subjects build a parallel system. They'll take it over and either destroy it or use it to increase their advantage.
A Personal Appeal
Going on the radio regularly and participating in all of the events and activities that Anchor Rising affords us the opportunity to attend are unambiguous perks of the occupation. More than simple interest and enjoyment, observing interactions and personal behavior across a deep swath of human society is pricelessly edifying for somebody who, like me, should probably confess to being a writer before all else. This is not to suggest that those whom I meet should expect (or fear) to be recast as thinly disguised fictional characters in some future novel, but that a broad experience with humanity enhances authorial sympathy, enabling art to reflect life and the artist to perceive the brilliance of Creation.
Such familiarity cannot be gained, of course, without the periodically painful pinch of contrast. Rubbing shoulders with moguls and masters, politicians and professors, inheritors, icons tends to bring into sharp relief the poorly hidden stitches in one's own tattered suit. (No doubt, some of the aforementioned have noticed worn shoes and loose buttons.) My financial difficulties are mostly of my own doing. They are also edifying, in their way, and a sense of humor rooted in religious faith makes their burden not entirely bereft of enjoyment. But they exist and they require answer each month in a stack of unpayable bills.
The plain reality is that Anchor Rising now lacks the resources to free me from any more mornings or days away from the construction site. At my own current trajectory, 2010 may find me unable to afford the gasoline to traverse the state in the evening. It would not surprise me on any given morning to awake and find that the high-speed Internet that makes posting video a matter of minutes, not hours, has been cut off. That's just the way it is. It's embarrassing, to be sure, and it's perhaps too easy to find experiential value in such a state of being, as well. An author will always be inclined to have the most sympathy for his or her own situation. But as romantic as the notion might be, it simply wouldn't be plausible to pen Anchor Rising on assorted papers and hop upon cargo trains to travel from one event to the next. It's all well and good to jot the bulk of a blog post on a fingerjointed and preprimed scrap of one-by-ten, but if that's where the words remain, the storage costs would quickly become astronomical.
With that, we end our week of financial appeals. Please help it to have been a success.
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October 8, 2009
Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2 Afternoon, Video: Tony Blankley
Columnist, commentator, and long-time Republican figure Tony Blankley spoke during the lunch hour on Saturday. (Full speech in the extended entry.)Continue reading "Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2 Afternoon, Video: Tony Blankley"
October 7, 2009
Marriage from Their Perspective
Yes, I still have video to post from the afternoon session of the Republican Northeast Conference, as well as from John Loughlin's healthcare forum in Tiverton, but since RI Future's Brian Hull was at last night's same-sex marriage event, as well, a competitive streak spurred me to secure initial bragging rights for coverage. (I say "initial" because he was closer and will probably have better results.)
Click the "continue reading" link below for the rest of the video. Of potential interest to some is RI Democrat Chairman Bill Lynch's spiel spanning clips six and seven about the importance of electing liberal Democrats, which non-liberal Democrats might want to consider as we move toward the next election.Continue reading "Marriage from Their Perspective"
October 5, 2009
Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: John Sununu
The speech by former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu certainly increased the enthusiasm of the audience, and a great many laudatory comments could be heard in the halls on the way to lunch. (Based on viewing trends, I get the impression that it would be worthwhile to clarify that clicking the "Continue reading" line at the bottom of each of these posts leads to additional videos from each speaker; I've only been putting one in the main post because the site would quickly become a beast to load.)Continue reading "Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: John Sununu"
October 4, 2009
Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Thaddeus McCotter
He surely benefited from contrast with our Congressional delegation, here in Rhode Island, and perhaps his dry mid-country humor and his intellectual phrasing appeals uniquely to me, but the Q&A speech with Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R, MI) was probably the highlight of the conference, from my perspective.Continue reading "Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Thaddeus McCotter"
Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Congressional Candidate Panel
Of local interest, RI House Minority Whip and Congressional Candidate John Loughlin is clearly increasing his comfort on the campaign trail. One pleasant surprise, though, came with the short speech of Charles Lollar from Maryland. (Both candidates' clips are in the extended entry.) Lollar exudes that articulate-northeast-southerner confidence in conservative values and principles and is very persuasive in his declarations that the rest of us ought to be, too. Whatever the outcome of his race against Stenny Hoyer, I'd peg Lollar as one to watch.Continue reading "Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Congressional Candidate Panel"
Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Robert Simmons
Former Congressman Robert Simmons, from Connecticut, is currently running in the Republican primaries for the U.S. Senate.Continue reading "Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Robert Simmons"
Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Ken McKay
RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay went over the current standing of the party, with the emphasis on issues.Continue reading "Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Ken McKay"
Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Carcieri
Herewith, the video corresponding with my liveblogging of the Republican Northeast Conference. First was the welcoming presentation of event co-chair Louis Pope; Governor Carcieri's speech is in the extended entry.Continue reading "Republican Northeast Conference, Day 2, Video: Carcieri"
October 3, 2009
Republican North East Conference, Day 1 - Video and Follow-Up
Following the opening event of the Republican North East Conference (video of which is in the extended entry), I followed up with Vermont Governor Jim Douglas regarding the need to define a "Northeastern Republican": stream, download. His answer wasn't particularly Earth-shattering, but it struck me as astute, in an understated Vermontian way. His emphasis is on local issues and local character, citing the diversity of the country and (therefore) the Republican Party and standing up for moral principle when the opposition forces the issue (as on same-sex marriage).
If I may paraphrase his answers in the terms of the intra-GOP debate: We shouldn't attempt to market a sub-brand of a particular type of Republican for local consumption, emphasizing our difference from Republicans elsewhere; rather, we should prove our character and intentions on issues of direct concern to local constituents and rebuff attempts to tie us to the most extreme statements of any minor Republican figure anywhere in the United States by lauding the inclusiveness of the party and the willingness to work together on matters of agreement.Continue reading "Republican North East Conference, Day 1 - Video and Follow-Up"
October 2, 2009
A Camcorder on the Other Side
I'm happy to see Brian Hull making sure that it isn't only the Rhode Island right that's always on camera. Over on Rhode Island Future, he's posted video of the Democrat Primary Debate in Providence's District 10.
On a related topic, I haven't rushed to publish my footage of Rep. Loughlin's healthcare forum, because the Ocean State Policy Research Institute is going to be posting a more professional video on its Web site. If I get a moment, this weekend, I'll put mine up.
October 1, 2009
The Never-Ending Union Contract
Marc confessed, on last night's Matt Allen Show, that he's tempted to forsake all and join a union, arguing that they're impervious: as individuals, union members get away with everything, and as bodies, their contracts can't be allowed to expire. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
September 29, 2009
Vlog #8: What They Want to Suppose
My vlog, this week, addresses a thread through our Congressional delegation's healthcare forums, indicative of their worldview and illustrative of the problem with with progressive thought, generally:
I'm curious how many people could explain the vlog's title without watching to the end. (Actually, probably only those within a pretty narrow range of television experience will recognize the phrase, even having watched the video.)
September 26, 2009
Kennedy and Friends in Forum
Inasmuch as the first 10-minute video clip from this morning's forum on healthcare began attracting viewers almost as soon as I posted it, and the first has surpassed many clips from previous events that have been up for weeks, interest would seem to be high.
Therefore, I've put the videos that the various computers involved have finished processing in the extended entry and will add the rest as they're available. (There are twelve, in all.)Continue reading "Kennedy and Friends in Forum"
September 24, 2009
Towns and Common Law
Last Wednesday, on the Matt Allen Show, Andrew raised the ongoing battle between municipalities and the state. Conspicuous, the host agreed, is the absence of anything more constructive than complaints and bickering. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
September 23, 2009
Revisiting the Violent Roundtable
September 22, 2009
Union and Democrat Party, Speaking with One Voice
This past weekend's episode of Newsmakers, with AFL-CIO RI President George Nee, is worth a watch:
Nee is among the more reasonable-sounding of the labor representatives, but that presentation only emphasizes the absence of space between how he responds to questions and how any given Democrat partisan would answer them. Sure, he's the guy who said that the state needs more political competition between the parties, but some Democrats have said the same thing, and there's an underlying insinuation that the Republicans should become more like Democrats and, for one thing, court labor more enthusiastically.
His take on a "public option" in healthcare, for example, comes directly from a conversation with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: He cites public universities as an example thereof. Perhaps to the extent that "public" means "union jobs," the comparison has some validity, but in practice the two structures are substantially different. Notably, public universities are state-level operations, not federal.
More importantly, though, universities hire professors and not only put course offerings together, but fulfill them, as well. Health insurance is almost purely a matter of paper processing and funding. "Public option" doctors would not be competing with private-sector doctors to offer a more attractive healthcare regimen. Moreover, given the location-specific nature of higher education, translating such a thing into healthcare would represent a dramatic restructuring with clients having to travel to a central healthcare campus, or the government seeking to place its doctors in every community.
Federal and state governments also have not built a web of regulations and mandates for higher education. Apart from accreditation and general business laws, colleges and universities operate under their own directives, which allows actual competition. In healthcare, so many offerings are explicitly required, and the incentives guiding the means of payment are so heavily manipulated, that the entire system is effectively becoming a "public option."
Somehow, I suspect that Nee, like any partisan Democrat, would not extend the principle of competition which the left is happy to extol under the currently restrictive circumstances if it meant permitting citizens to purchase plans more freely and companies to offer a greater variety.
September 21, 2009
Vlog #7: Draft So-and-So
Whether it's an off-season taste or the initiation of the 2010 election season on Anchor Rising time will tell, but my vlog this week concerns the practice of "drafting" candidates for office; specifically for governor:
September 11, 2009
Ocean State Policy Research Institute Hosts Grover Norquist
Ocean State Policy Research Institue was good enough to invite me to its fundraising event at the Providence Marriott featuring famed tax hawk Grover Norquist. Some of Norquist's speech was familiar from his last appearance in Rhode Island, but considering all that has happened with the election, tea parties, legislative assaults, healthcare there were many new topics to address. And Grover gives an entertaining, informative speech.
Video in the extended entry.Continue reading "Ocean State Policy Research Institute Hosts Grover Norquist"
September 10, 2009
Gotta Have Humor on Healthcare
Both of us being giddy with anticipation prior to the president speech last night, my conversation with the host of the Matt Allen Show was full of sarcasm and laughter, which strikes me as the only appropriate posture to the current situation. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
Oh, by the way, the person who called out "You lie!" causing a very interesting moment in the speech #&151; when the president declared that no illegal immigrants would receive taxpayer-financed healthcare under his plan was Republican South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson. The Associated Press tsks at the "nastiness" of the moment, but if that's the gauge, there were plenty of moments of nastiness in the speech itself.
September 8, 2009
A Return to Vlogging?
Well, it's been almost seven years since I dabbled in video blogging which was back before most people even knew what regular ol' blogging was. The technology and the fashion wasn't there, yet, though. Herewith, I explain why it might be worth another try:
September 3, 2009
Wearing Out the Public
Matt Allen and I touched on the legislative process on last night'sMatt Allen Show and the way in which it wears the public out as legislation moves toward law. After all this heat and energy, we still have multiple versions in the Senate over which to argue, likely with various provisions, all of which have the potential to drift out of awareness only to reemerge during conference. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
August 28, 2009
Whitehouse and Reed Community Dinner, Take 2
Complete video of Wednesday's community dinner with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed is available in the extended entry.
On a behind-the-scenes note, the tripod and new software have definitely helped. In fact, they helped so much that I was able to liveblog the meeting while filming it, which explains why it periodically takes a moment for the camera to adjust for movement of the speakers.Continue reading "Whitehouse and Reed Community Dinner, Take 2"
August 26, 2009
Dinner in Johnston
Rhode Island roads are designed for people who already know where they're going. That's why I barely made it to Johnston in time to set up for the community dinner hosted b y Senators Reed and Whitehouse. And what do I find when I arrive:
Andrew sneaking up on Pat Crowley! We're a violent mob we right wingers. (No YouTubable video came out of that incident, unfortunately.)
Whitehouse is listing ways to reduce costs in healthcare, most of which are unacceptable (e.g., throw people off the roles). His vague response is that we have to "reform the delivery system in ways that save money." No real solutions.
Jack Reed just repeated the lie that folks who like their insurance can keep it. He didn't add the necessary qualification that it would only last five years.
A 75-year-old from German is testifying that his wife's small business has been having trouble keeping up with payments for employees health insurance. Germany, by contrast, is a nirvana of free healthcare. Not sure when the last time Germany led the world in healthcare innovation.
Whitehouse is trying to explain that foreign companies have an advantage in exports because they don't have to incorporate healthcare for employees into their costs. Of course, the taxes must be worked into the price.
Reed used a popular comeback when an older attendee spoke against the Democrats reform: "Well, what insurance do you have." When the answer is Medicare, he makes a face that says, "Well..."
It's certainly the most quiet crowd tonight. Plenty of shushers when opposition voices make such suggestions as economics lessons in the Senate.
An elderly man, who testified that he's happy with American care, brought up tort reform. Reed is downplaying the importance of that issue, and he looked to the table of planted Brown University medical students .
A 14 -year-old asked whether a national healthcare would be Constitutional, and both Senators said "probably" and brought up a number of state-level public systems (e.g., colleges) as examples of its plausibility. Uh-huh.
Will Grapentine just asked why, if America has the best of hospitals, medicine, etc., as he says Reed suggests, then why change it? He also suggested steps toward privatization.
Whitehouse is also bragging about America's medical facilities. "My concern is that we take all of that talent and excellence, and then we grind it through a system..." that kills people and leaves people out.
Asked about free market competition, Reed said that they're trying to build a better system. Makes me wonder why, if they're such geniuses, in federal government, they went into "public service" instead of applying that insight throughout the economy as private actors.
More repeats of favorite stories, such as Sheldon's example of hospitals not wanting to invest in efficiency equipment because it costs them billable minutes.
I've yet to hear anybody ask or explain why the feds aren't looking at specific problems, first, and then expanding to rewrite the entire system, if necessary.
Whitehouse once again stated that the problems with Medicare originate in the fact that it hasn't been funded, as if some other entity than the government making those decisions.
Whitehouse asserted that Obama has already cut taxes for the middle class, so we can trust him not to break the pledge only to tax rich people.
Whitehouse expressed that the reform is intended to make the system, better, more efficient, and even more super duper. When asked how Congress will pay for it, he brought up digital medical records. First of all, can't that be done on its own? Second of all, is that really the big plan for saving money to pay for a public option et al.
A young woman just noted that businessmen are not accountable to her, but these two senators are. Ah, youth.
A social worker just synopsized the liberal point of view by putting his entire perspective in terms feeling good about helping neighbors, equating a refusal to back a government system naked cruelty of soul.
I have to say that I'm suspicious of the folks who come to these things in white jackets and stethoscopes around their necks are suspicious when they declare themselves doctors. Maybe it's just too much television as a youth, with the whole "I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV" thing.
One such doctor just said that a public option must be big enough to negotiate. That seems to conflict with earlier efforts to diminish the significance of a public option.
August 25, 2009
UPDATED: Langevin Town Hall Video
UPDATE: The video below is now complete; I've also managed to take some of the echo out of the audio, so it might be a little easier to understand what people are saying.
Given that Andrew and I attended a separate press session before Congressman Jim Langevin's town hall meeting in Warwick, tonight, and that the event itself went well over the scheduled hour, there's a lot of video to process. It doesn't help that YouTube won't accept videos longer than 10 minutes.
My plan is to upload all the raw footage and some of it proves definitively that I need practice with my new blogging tool in one swoop and then to go back and upload segments that merit a closer look for one reason or another. The raw footage phase will take place within this post.
Congressman Jim Langevin 08/19/09 Town Hall, Warwick, RI, Preliminary Press Q&A (1):
Congressman Jim Langevin 08/19/09 Town Hall, Warwick, RI, Preliminary Press Q&A (2)
Additional videos in the extended entry.
August 22, 2009
RIGOP Fundraiser Video
The video from this morning's RIGOP fundraiser with RNC Executive Director Ken McKay is available in the extended entry.
My apologies to RIGOP Chairman Gio Cicione; I was trying to learn on the job, as it were, and figure out how to improve the picture because of the bright backlighting of the windows and missed most of his opening remarks.Continue reading "RIGOP Fundraiser Video"
August 21, 2009
A YouTube Star Is Born
While I was toiling away in obscurity inside the West Warwick Senior Center, last night, Andrew was outside getting famous:
August 20, 2009
Health and the Town Hall
August 16, 2009
NOM Marriage Picnic
Conservatives in this state must share a certain apprehension as they drive to ideologically tinted events hoping that somebody shows up, but not the wrong people, and maybe it'll be an indication of our powerlessness, but what if we have to prove ourselves in front of a one-time crowd... Well, tea parties aside, the traditional marriage event that National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island is hosting at Aldrich Mansion in Warwick is definitely among the best attended right-leaning events that I've attended thus far. In fact, I may have to allocate some Anchor Rising resources to pay a parking ticket, since I'm not sure the line of cars down the street is actually legal:
And talk about gemstone corners of Rhode Island:
From where I sit on the stairs overlooking the lawn and the bay, I think I'm looking directly at the hill down which I walked my dog countless times and marveled at the view though I had no idea what I was looking at. How can Rhode Island encompass Rhode Island? [I apologize if that thought seems scattered, but I was interrupted midsentence by somebody who wanted to impress his young charges with the fact that I speak regularly with Matt Allen... certainly not an interruption that I minded!]
Whatever else this event proves, a major takeaway is just how abstract and intellectual is the argument that "fiscal conservatives" and libertarians can jettison us social conservatives. Attendance aside, this is by far the most diverse crowd that I've seen at any conservative event. You want hope shaking the opposition to its core? Come to an event like this.
I wonder if that explains some of the disgusting vitriol that social and religious conservatives attract from progressives...
Here's NOM-RI Executive Director Chris Plante:
And NOM President Maggie Gallagher:
And to be fair and balanced, here's the protest out on the street just after Gallagher's speech:
I don't agree with everything that the speaker who initiated the marriage vow renewal section of the program said. He ends the following clip, for example, thus:
You have not defined marriage, you have not shaped marriage, and you have not set its boundaries in place; rather, marriage has defined you. It has shaped you, and it has set boundaries in goodly places. And so it should be. We all choose to submit to marriage and should never seek to have marriage submit to us.
In terms of the functioning of marriage, as an institution, married couples do indeed define and shape the institution, which is why society must encourage them to respect the boundaries that it imposes. Put differently, it is because our own relationships define marriage that we must submit to it.
But minute disputes aside, hearing this speaker (especially in the context of the day) contributes to the sense that there's something peculiar about protesting such an event:
There were children running around with their faces panted. There were bouncy houses. The bulk of the performances weren't political, but musical. If right-wingers were to protest a similar gay family day organized by a group that advocates for same-sex marriage on a lazy summer Sunday, they'd rightly be lumped in with the Phelps family, but on the left, the impulse to protest to frighten away attendees concerned with what their children might witness is mainstream.
The small group of protesters who showed up, however, did evoke the tragedy of the issue. For the most part, they only wish to be accepted, to live their lives in as close an accord as possible to the ideals that the culture had put forward to them, but their ordering inclines incompatibly. Their predicament (meant neutrally) is one through which our culture has only recently begun to wend its rules, and understandably, they wish for it to bend as they desire.
Marriage is what it is, though, and it would be to universal detriment to divorce it from the principle that men and women are uniquely compatible with each other in ways of breadth and depth that no other relationship to similitude.
One absence that didn't strike me until I was getting ready to leave was that of politicians. The only candidate or current elected official whom I saw was Will Grapentine, and he's more ubiquitous at conservative events than either Caprio or the governor.
Rhode Island Republican Assembly "Victory Over Statism" BBQ Speeches
Per our usual practice of reinvesting just about every dollar that we take in, for Anchor Rising, we're expanding our capabilities to include video, and the collection of short speeches presented at the Rhode Island Republican Assembly's Victory over Statism Barbecue presented a fantastic first run. Videos (with quotes and commentary as I'm inspired) for the following speakers may be found in the extended entry:
- Erik Wallin, Candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General
- Bill Felkner, Executive Director of the Ocean State Policy Research Institute
- Mark Zaccaria, Candidate for United State Congress
- Helen Glover, 920 WHJJ Radio Personality
- Rep. John Loughlin, Candidate for United State Congress
- Terry Gorman, Founder of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement
- Colleen Conley, President of the Rhode Island Tea Party
- Barth Bracy, Executive Director of Rhode Island Right to Life
- Travis Rowley, Chairman of the Rhode Island Young Republicans
- John Robitaille, Communications Director for Governor Carcieri
- Dan Reilly, Candidate for Rhode Island House
- William Sousa Grapentine, Candidate for Rhode Island House
- Robert Paquin, Candidate for Rhode Island House
- Kathleen McCurdy Dennen, Candidate for Rhode Island Senate
Continue reading "Rhode Island Republican Assembly "Victory Over Statism" BBQ Speeches"
August 13, 2009
Things Around the Site
August 12, 2009
Staley Cheats with His Wand
At about minute forty-four of the podcast of Dan Yorke's interview with RISC Chairman Harry Staley, Dan poses the "magic wand" question that I'd answered in a union-busting way, and Harry answers as follows:
More than anything else, I would like to effect a change in the citizens of Rhode Island from the terrible apathy that they have. I'd like for the citizens of Rhode Island to wake up and look at what's at issue, because their lives are going down the tubes, and they don't realize it. The terrible things that are coming out of the lack of good management of our government is desperate for these people.
For reasons partially explained here, I find the notion of manipulating others' consciousness to be such dangerous territory that it's best avoided even in impossible theoreticals. Practical realities make it easy to abide by the aphorism to manipulate the world, not the soul, but whether one internalizes it makes a difference in what is considered to be acceptable. Propaganda deliberately unattached to truth, after all, is a method of attempting to bend people's will by inciting them to react to a false reality, and conservatives and other rightward reformers mustn't slip into a mentality of using ends to justify means.
Even in the abstract, if the goal is to "wake the people up," the object of the waved wand ought to be to change a policy or remove a material obstacle in such a way as to accomplish as much. This isn't merely a moral or aesthetic preference; if we can figure out what policy we would change by magic, we might find it worth attacking politically.
(Don't take this post to imply that nothing else in the interview was edifying; this is just a point that I thought might move the discussion forward by its being made.)
August 11, 2009
The Case for Fixing Corruption First
Somebody commented, after the show, that it was interesting to hear me respond to news from the Democrat representative from Cranston, Peter Palumbo, of a possible "Traditional Values Caucus" in the State House with the admonition that repairing Rhode Island's corrupt system must take precedence over all else. In case it wasn't clear what I was saying, it should be obvious that I'd support the goals and probably the actions of such a group.
I'm just very wary of being distracted by showmanship about social conservatism if it means that the things that'll destroy the state continue. Basically, I don't want conservatives being roped into the coalition of the corrupt because they're promised some thin gruel on causes about which they care. And there may be a danger, here, of being outmaneuvered by progressives if they can neutralize the importance of corruption issues because they have a "traditional values caucus" to run against. For one thing, it disrupts alliances with those who fancy themselves moderates.
Such a position relies upon a sort of holistic view of corruption: Although it has existed under every shade of government, structural corruption of our political system (e.g., statism) has arrived hand in hand with corruption of our morals. It's possible that things didn't have to progress in that manner, but I suspect that traditional values will not long survive in a politically corrupt system, in part because such a regime stokes envy and greed. But in a healthy system, the case for morality can be made to win, though non-governmental instruction and pressures, because it's correct.
It may be a choice between winning on political corruption with the real chance to strengthen traditional values and losing on political corruption only to see wins on social issues prove ephemeral.
August 7, 2009
Putting the Politics to Music
As a production of serious musicianship, Kathleen Stewart's lyrics are heavy-handed and the music programmed and canned, but for a few moments of light entertainment, she does evoke some chuckles. I particularly liked "Dumbing Down Our Youth":
Preparing kids for failure on the job.
Preparing kids to join the clueless mob.
They'll yield to the state,
'Cuz sheep will never debate.
We gotta help our children learn.
Before the point of no return.
Dumbing down our youth.
You know I'm tellin' the truth.
Instead of education.
Dumbing down our youth.
You know I'm tellin' the truth.
Instead of education.
We should take up a collection to bribe the DJ to play this song at the next Winter Solstice party of the National Education Association Rhode Island. I'm sure Crowley does an impeccable Carmen Miranda.
August 6, 2009
A Fireside Chat with Dan
Alright, there wasn't really a fire, but since we're talking radio, I like to imagine that there was one. Dan Yorke and I had that sort of conversation, yesterday, on 630AM/99.7FM WPRO. Those who missed it or who would like to revisit something (for kind or scurrilous reasons) can stream the whole segment (about an hour, without commercials) by clicking here, or listen to portions:
- On Anchor Rising, my writing habits and schedule, and blogging specifics (traffic, money, etc.): stream, download (5 min, 49 sec)
- On our blogging mission (or obsession) and the effect that AR and blogs in general are having: stream, download (3 min, 46 sec)
- On profiting (or not) from online writing: stream, download (4 min, 03 sec)
- A call from Mike and discussion of "excellence" in Rhode Island and the effects of local participation, with Tiverton Citizens for Change as an example: stream, download (12 min, 45 sec)
- On Dan's opinion that RI reformers need a "big win" and my belief that we focus on smaller victories: stream, download (2 min, 52 sec)
- On hopelessness and a magic wand policy change in Rhode Island (public sector union busting) and the problem of regionalization: stream, download (6 min, 48 sec)
- On what to do about unions: stream, download (2 min, 18 sec)
- On the coalition of problems in RI and whether all are addressable by the same principle (dispersing power and building from the community up, as well as a tangent about binding arbitration: stream, download (6 min, 2 sec)
- On the Republican Party in Rhode Island and awareness of reform groups: stream, download (4 min, 7 sec)
- On prescriptions for Rhode Island and the lack of leaders: stream, download (6 min, 34 sec)
- A call from Robert and discussion of Republicans and the Tea Party as a political party: stream, download (3 min, 14 sec)
- On the Moderate Party: stream, download (2 min, 9 sec)
- A call from John and discussion of Steve Laffey's plan: stream, download (1 min, 42 sec)
August 1, 2009
The Sounds of RISC Summer
For those who were unable to attend, or who would like to revisit this morning's RISC Summer Meeting, the following audio corresponds with my liveblogging:
- RISC Chairman Harry Staley's opening remarks: stream, download (10 min, 23 sec)
- RISC Vice President & Secretary Harriet Lloyd's unveiling of the new RISC Web site: stream, download (3 min, 29 sec)
- Board of Regents member Angus Davis: stream, download (8 min, 20 sec)
- Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist: stream, download (16 min, 44 sec)
- RISC Jim T. Beale: stream, download (3 min, 54 sec)
- Federal Government Affairs Manager of the National Taxpayers Union Jordan Forbes: stream, download (9 min, 47 sec)
- Governor Don Carcieri: stream, download (37 min, 54 sec)
- Bruce Lang question, with Gov. Carcieri responding: stream, download (4 min, 34 sec)
- Martha Staten question/commentary: stream, download (3 min, 5 sec)
- Dick Smith question/commentary: stream, download (1 min, 33 sec)
- Brian Bishop question, with Commissioner Gist and Gov. Carcieri responding: stream, download (4 min, 31 sec)
- Sue Story question, with Jim Beale responding: stream, download (1 min, 45 sec)
- Steve Santos question, with Jim Beal, Gov. Carcieri, and Harry Staley responding: stream, download (3 min, 51 sec)
- Paul Tavares question, with Harry Staley and Gov. Carcieri responding: stream, download (4 min, 06 sec)
- Jim McGuinn question, with Commissioner Gist and Gov. Carcieri responding: stream, download (7 min, 20 sec)
- Anthony Carcieri question, with Gov. Carcieri responding: stream, download (3 min, 13 sec)
- Ed Rollins question, with Harry Staley responding: stream, download (2 min, 31 sec)
- Commissioner Gist, noting that "pay for performance" measures for teachers should be judged based on student growth universal milestones: stream, download (24 sec)
- June Gibbs commentary on master lever, with Harry Staley responding: stream, download (1 min, 37 sec)
July 30, 2009
A Debacle in Healthcare
The Lenin-era cliché that Capitalists would sell Communists the rope with which to hang them comes to mind, only in this case, it involves voters allowing their representatives to get to the point of not even reading the legislation by which they're taking our freedoms away.
Such was the conversation last night, on the Matt Allen Show, during which I had the pleasure of checking in with Tony Cornetta, who was covering for Matt, who was covering for Dan Yorke. I mentioned, to Tony, a line in Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's recent Projo op-ed, in which he declares that he's "confident that with the landmark bill our committee has passed, we're on the right track." In light of the quip from Representative John Conyers (D-MI) that reading such legislation is temporally impossible (and therefore an unreasonable expectation), I've contacted the senator's office to inquire as to his own accomplishments with respect to the text of the bill. It would be discouraging to learn that his confidence in the legislation is based mainly on faith.
July 23, 2009
Health... of the Nation, of the State, and of the Town
On last night's Matt Allen Show, Monique and Matt covered the travesty that is healthcare "reform," the travesty that is underage exotic dancers in Rhode Island, and the travesty that is the Caruolo lawsuit in Woonsocket. (If I may interject: perhaps there's a solution to be found, among these three issues, if the government requires strip clubs to pay for family health insurance for their dancers and applies an additional payroll tax for those in-demand minors, which money would be cycled back to school districts to cover unwise contractual agreements. Sure, such a plan would represent an exploitation twofer, but the teachers' unions might have something to teach us about maximizing the value of the resource of communities' children.) Stream by clicking here, or download it.
July 22, 2009
The Door Closed Tellingly
Rappleye's very careful not to make the prostitution accusation, which the spa owner denies, but something odd emerges from the video. If you were a small business owner and a TV news reporter came to your place of business with camera rolling, wouldn't you take the opportunity to dispel those nasty rumors of untoward behavior and get some free publicity by presenting your establishment to the viewing public? I guess I just don't see why the proprietor of a legitimate massage parlor wouldn't have invited Bill in for a look-see.
July 8, 2009
The Good and the Bad on Newsmakers
It shows how far behind I am on catching up that I've just managed to watch the episode of Newsmakers featuring OSPRI's Bill Felkner and Pat Crowley of the NEA, RIFuture, and various other special interest groups.
Bill did admirably, but the viewer can observe something that I've found to typical of such head-to-heads. Crowley got in all of his (no doubt) scripted talking points, from "astroturf" to "tax cuts for the rich," while Felkner tried to give examples and put particular facts up for discussion. It's difficult to understand why the three other participants in the discussion let Pat get through the whole spiel, but the following quotation illustrates the disinterest in clarity and extemporaneous discussion:
What's wrong with working people making a good salary and having a decent benefits package? I mean, that's really what this comes down to. Instead there's arguments from taxpayer groups and from the right saying that just because a working person makes a living wage that that's a bad thing. No. That's a good thing. It's the model that we need to actually need to encourage more in this state. And I think the fact that this is being positioned as working people versus taxpayers I think that what that actually shows is that there's a political agenda in the state that actually is trying to disempower working people, not so that the wealth is spread throughout the state, but so that the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a very few. And I think what this last weekend [of union strikes during the mayoral conference in Providence] highlights is that working people in the state of Rhode Island especially organized workers are tired of being used as scapegoats for a political agenda.
The strategic objective: equate public-sector unionists with "working people." If the reality is that give-aways to organized labor are not sustainable and inevitably harm those who are most susceptible to harm private-sector workers do a quick hop-skip to distract from that fact through allusion to some vague "political agenda" pursued by rich masterminds. The distraction was certainly not hindered by host Tim White's reference to Bill as "from the conservative think tank Ocean State Policy Research Institute", while Pat was simply "from RIFuture.org and the NEA." (Earlier, White called RIFuture "left-leaning.")
Crowley effected this sort of maneuver throughout the show. To White's question about the economic damage should the NEA sue the state over pension reforms, Crowley couldn't even muster a "look, we appreciate that litigation puts an additional strain on taxpayers, but..." Instead, he walked away with this, correcting Tim on what his question should have been:
Well, think that the real question is why do the public sector workers and the teachers of Rhode Island have to keep on taking the hit? I mean, like I said, there was another reform in 2006. Prior to that there was a major reform in 1997. Prior to that, there was one in 1992. All of those reforms were taking benefits away. So the idea that all of these things are just heaped upon teachers and public sector workers simply isn't true. And every time there's a reform, there's a promise. "This is the last time guys" "Really, this is the last time." "No, this time's really it." So how many times do the public sector workers and the teachers of the state have to open up their pocketbook so that the state can balance the budget, especially when the state has year after year cut taxes for rich people. Cut taxes for corporations. The reason we're in a budget problem in this state isn't simply because we pay our teachers well; it's because, over the last decade, we've cut taxes, cut taxes, and cut taxes, and created this economic black hole for ourselves.
Thus does Crowley brush away decades of unbelievable hand-outs that have made public-sector workers, especially teachers, Rhode Island's elite class on the grounds that, every now and then, the gorging must be mildly restrained. Inasmuch as most viewers don't have the history Rhode Island's pension system at their fingertips, Pat's references might as well be plucked from a hat, but they do lend an air of legitimacy to his complaint. Describing the actual changes would likely expose his game. In 1992, the state introduced the requirement that pension recipients endure the long slog of 10 years of actual work for the state in order to be eligible; I didn't find any change in 1997, but in 1994, the General Assembly introduced a requirement of at least 20-hours-per-week of work. And in 2005, introduction of minimum ages (a ripe old 59) and other changes, as to cost of living adjustments (COLAs), were already known to be insufficient and only applied to those not already vested with 10 years of service.
As for the supposed promise of no further cuts, perhaps we're getting a whisper of behind-the-scenes talk, because such declarations are certainly not prominently made in the public. Whatever the case, it is irresponsible of legislators to make them.
And none of that touches upon the deeper debate about the effects of tax cuts on revenue. (Tax revenue from "the rich" has actually gone up, over the last decade, both in real terms and as a percentage of total taxes collected.)
Bill began to turn the tables at around minute 14:30, with his introduction of some of the structural strategies whereby left-wing groups shuffle money and redirect influence. He also made a strong point, against the combined efforts of Crowley and Ian Donnis to challenge the transparency of OSPRI on the grounds that it doesn't disclose small-dollar donors, responding that people give freely to such groups in a way that is not true of public-sector unions.
He could have further noted that the public has the same amount of information about, say, Ocean State Action as about OSPRI. That point was brought to the fore by the minor spat over what organizations are housed in NEA-RI's headquarters at 99 Bald Hill Rd. Crowley disputed that Marriage Equality RI is located there, although as of last August, the group's tax exemption was registered at that address. More significant is the reference to WorkingRI; although Bill may have misspoken about its relationship with the address, a little research shows how little difference it makes.
The group's Web site isn't very informative when it comes to its operations or management structure. (Its address is a P.O. box in Warwick.) But a 2008 Projo article about the links between labor organizations in RI names Frank Montanaro as the chairman of its board. Montanaro is also president of the RI AFL-CIO, as well as chairman of the Institute for Labor Studies & Research, which is indeed headquartered at 99 Bald Hill. NEA-RI President Lawrence Purtill is listed as the Institute's secretary treasurer, a post that NEA-RI Executive Director Bob Walsh fills (according to the Projo) for WorkingRI.
WorkingRI is a prominent player on RIFuture, by the way, and the AFL-CIO has a very large ad in the hardly-prominent position at the bottom of the blog.
Bill's point, in short, is irrefutable, which is why it's disappointing to watch an episode of Newsmakers hover in the zone of talking-point assertions. But ensuring such outcomes is, I suppose, part of Patrick Crowley's job which may explain why his union pays him $5 per year for political activity, according to Felkner.
July 2, 2009
Corruption and Dollars
June 25, 2009
But for Some Legislative Popo
As one might expect, Matt and my topic was the state budget and the flat tax on last night's Matt Allen Show. By way of explanation for my opening comments, "popo" is the word that Rep. Anastasia Williams used to indicate the police when she said that the flat tax would lead her constituents to burglarize each other because if any of them including her, a "green Nubian queen" were to appear in the rich neighborhoods, the "popo" would swoop down. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
June 24, 2009
Portsmouth Institute Table of Contents
So the Portsmouth Institute's conference on "The Catholic William F. Buckley, Jr." has come and gone, and we who've returned to our ordinary lives with both glass slippers, as it were must move through our days as before, awaiting the next opportunity to glimpse the world through which the threads of history run. For my part, I've been grateful for the spurs to contemplation that have served to occupy my mind during damp days building a deck under a tarp. I'm also extremely grateful to Jamie MacGuire, first, for organizing the event and, second, for inviting Anchor Rising to participate.
Herewith are my excerpts, summaries, and reflections:
"Portsmouth Institute Bill Buckley Conference, First Thoughts"
"The Erudite Father, Spiritual Enrichment, and the Personal Pianist": Fr. George Rutler (speech) and Lawrence Perelman (piano)
"The Marriage Debate in the Wake of the Buckley Conservative Movement": Maggie Gallagher (speech)
"The Writerly Catholic on Mr. Buckley's Catholic Writerliness": Joseph Bottom (speech)
"Correcting a Misimpression, and the Charitable Speaker": Roger Kimball (speech)
"The Musical Pursuit of Life": (musical performances)
"The Liberal's Tempered Perspective": E.J. Dionne (speech)
"The Journalist Who Believed Catholic Christianity to Be True" and "BREAKING: K-Lo Not Leaving NRO": Kathryn Jean Lopez (speech)
"The Professor and Friend": Lee Edwards (speech)
"Memories of William F. Buckley, Jr.": Neal Freeman, Dom Damian Kearney, James MacGuire, and Clark Judge (speeches)
"To the Final Notes": (choral performance)
June 23, 2009
To the Final Notes
The performance of Fauré's Requiem, Op. 48 with which the Portsmouth Institute ended its conference on "The Catholic William F. Buckley, Jr." doubled as a celebration of the completed restoration of the Church of Saint Gregory the Great, in which the concert took place.
This particular requiem is among my favorite works in the classical canon certainly among choral works and the setting and temporal context made it a magnificently fitting culmination of my three-day glimpse of a life of the mind. The horns punching into the "Sanctus" finally pierced the gauze with which the necessities of daily life tend to wrap our spirits. Stream, download (3 min, 17 sec).
Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God of Hosts
Heaven and earth are fully of thy glory
Hosana in the highest. Holy.
Thus struck, I scattered my nearly illegible scrawl as notes in the margins of my program:
Think of the divine order that brings together these people, each of whom believes his or her present task to be the most important thing to be doing at this time (ipso facto) even extending the performance back to the piece's composer, adding in the engineering of the instruments over centuries, the honing of talents, the skill: all for the glorification of God and to request His mercy, His intercession in the cold workings of nature's machine. Even if the music were not created or presented for that purpose, I defy you to explain that it was randomness and pure human preferences that brought it to be.
I defy it because I shall not believe it and will think you tragically deprived of grace by Satan himself.
The performers needn't believe themselves to be doing otherwise than singing pretty music. Even Fauré when it comes to it could have had other intentions for all it matters. A librettist, try as he might, could not deprive the Maker of this sort of praise. Even constructing the archetype of all that is disgusting and base destroying all marks of the beauty that is divine inspiration the devil would by that very act prove an order and thereby point to the One whom he detests.
Memories of William F. Buckley, Jr.
The final session of the Portsmouth Institute's conference on "The Catholic William F. Buckley, Jr." could be considered fated in the fashion of those humorous suspicions that something is cursed. First slated to be filled by the subject's son, Christopher, the slot was handed within the past few weeks to Reagan speechwriter Anthony Dolan. A last minute scheduling problem, however, required substitutes for the substitute. Such was the caliber of the conference's audience that organizer James MacGuire was able to put together a compelling set of speakers within a mere hours.
The first to take the podium was Neal Freeman, a close friend of Buckley's who undertook multiple professional tasks at his behest.
Suitably, Mr. Freeman focused on WFB's talent for making friends: Stream, download (27 sec). That talent was not a contrivance, though, as Freeman illustrated through a humorous anecdote relating Buckley's ostensibly confidential comments about him to the FBI: Stream, download (1 min, 35 sec).
Expanding the portraiture, Portsmouth Abbey Oblate Director Dom Damian Kearney related his experiences with Bill Buckley, first when they were both students at Yale (among the strictly limited 10% of students who were Catholic) and later when Mr. Buckley sent his son Christopher to Kearney's school, where the monk once caught the young man thumbing through an issue of Playboy, featuring an article by his father: Stream, download (59 sec).
James MacGuire was a friend of Christopher's in those days, and remains such, now, so he had several personal anecdotes about the Buckley family, as well, when he took the microphone (which had been reduced to a mere turn of phrase by the failure of the actual microphone's battery).
MacGuire's central mission, though, was to read some excerpts from Christopher Buckley's book Losing Mum and Pup, and he summed up Christopher's tenuous relationship with his father's faith thus: Stream, download (1 min, 8 sec).
The final speaker of the whole shebang was Clark Judge, Managing Director of the White House Writers Group, who brought the conversation back toward the academic and strove to describe the essence of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s accomplishment: Stream, download (46 sec).
June 21, 2009
The Professor and Friend
In summarizing the first three speakers at the Portsmouth Institute's WFB conference, I observed their different styles. Among subsequent speakers, I'd say that, truly, E.J. Dionne and K.J. Lopez spoke much as columnists. They offered facts and quotations, giving their own opinions, and building overall arguments. None who've read their work would be very surprised at, essentially, their style of reading of their work.
Roger Kimball's presentation was that of a compelling university lecture. It's difficult to articulate the difference, but one can hear it in reviewing the speeches. The best that I can do is to say that the lecturer's first objective is to edify, while the columnist's is to state an argument. Perhaps another way to think of it is to see the lecturer as reading a chapter from a book; it's still the presentation of an argument, but it's a longer form argument, stretching beyond the bounds of an individual chapter.
Lee Edwards, of The Heritage Foundation, joins Mr. Kimball in that category.
The perspective of the personal acquaintance was particularly valuable in Mr. Edwards's talk which was, after all, billed in the program as "The William F. Buckley, Jr., I Knew." It is, therefore, an obvious act to relay some personal anecdotes:
- Young Bill and Trish Buckley's adventure to secretly baptize house guests in order to save their souls: Stream, download (1 min, 3 sec).
- In the line of Bill Buckley investing in the human capital of young conservatives, an anecdote involving Mr. Edwards's wife and her hanging-up-the-phone disbelief that the celebrity would call her dorm: Stream, download (2 min, 28 sec)
- Summing up much of what had been said of Buckley's charitable nature and self-contradictions (that are not really contradictions at all, in the end): Stream, download (2 min, 22 sec).
Additionally, during the Q&A period, Mr. Edwards offered an abstract-type summary of his essay, "The End of Conservatism?" in which he describes five essential elements required for a movement, stream, download (1 min, 54 sec):
- A philosophy
- An infrastructure/constituency
- A financial base
- Media facility
- Charismatic and principled leaders
Members of the budding Rhode Island reform movement could benefit greatly by heeding Mr. Edwards's advice.
The Journalist Who Believed Catholic Christianity to Be True
Kathryn Jean Lopez, of National Review Online, began her speech beginning day three of the Portsmouth Institute's conference on William F. Buckley, Jr. by stating that she would not have described WFB as a "Catholic journalist," because both descriptors were so thoroughly integrated into his persona, and she seemed genuinely awed that he plainly and directly incorporated religious beliefs in his writing. Her first example was his handling of a question on Satan, which she asked us to imagine being posed on Hardball: Stream, download (1 min, 26 sec).
Lopez read, as well, an extended excerpt from a WFB column in the '90s decrying the taping of a murder suspect's Catholic confession to a priest as "the end of the line" to "fascism": Stream, download (3 min, 20 sec). The point came up again, during the Q&A, when an audience member asked the outcome of the controversy, and Kathryn promised to post the answer in the Corner on Monday. Of course, being a blogger, my Anchor Rising co-contributor Andrew Morse had googled the matter and let Ms. Lopez know that the district attorney had ended up apologizing. The case apparently became quite a row, with the defense ultimately seeking to use the tape (raising questions about whether the suspect had known to expect the recording) and the courts disallowing it, although not going quite as far as the local diocese requested and destroying the tape.
I've seen no indication, through quick online research, to indicate that Bill Buckley played a role beyond that typically inhabited by a columnist in that case, but as Lopez suggests, his death has left somewhat of a void where previously we all might have expected an additional, trusted, and authoritative opinion on matters of interest to those who explicitly undertake, share, or are incidentally interested in the contemporary Catholic mission. What, she wonders, would he have said of President Obama's rhetoric when speaking at the Notre Dame graduation? Stream, download (48 sec).
A couple of notable (or, rather, especially notable) segments came during Kathryn's Q&A. One is her response to conference organizer Jamie MacGuire's question about her experience with Buckley as a young NR employee in which she described something that came up repeatedly during the several days devoted to the man: his investment in human capital. Stream, download (4 min, 16 sec). She suggests that WFB's investment in and support for others extended even when they moved beyond the reach of his immediate projects, such as National Review, and sees the workings of his Christianity in that tendency. I see, as well, his larger project of building a movement of which NR was a central part; if the movement is the thing, one doesn't want to ghettoize the soldiers in a single publication, but to send them out into the world.
A second notable exchange began with New England Cable News Reporter Gregory Wayland's relation of his experience producing stories on the anniversary of Humanae Vitae (video) and embryonic stem cell research (video). On the first, he (and Kathryn) stated some surprise that it had been acknowledged as newsworthy. On the second, he expressed that he'd felt pressure to lessen the prominence of a scientist who researches and supports adult stem cell research. The question to Lopez was, in Wayland's words, how to deal with "the well-worn trough down which the waters of journalism flow lined by very definite assumptions which are the received wisdom of the journalistic community." Stream, download (3 min, 39 sec).
The Liberal's Tempered Perspective
The first thing to note about Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne's after-dinner speech at the Portsmouth Institute's conference on William F. Buckley's conservatism is his mention of something that struck me for the duration of the event: namely, that religious life does not preclude real life, much less intellectual life. Stream, download (52 sec). Experience with the monastery and admiration for the monks, Dionne said, saved him "from a sometimes popular and always foolish prejudice against men and women of faith."
That perspective brings into relief the difficulty of Dionne's task at the conference, as the lone liberal speaker in the program as well as an alumnus of the school, a personal friend to many in the audience, and an ideological dissenter handed a microphone at what was, after all, a multiday tribute to WFB. Still, I would have preferred his going a good bit further in challenging his audience, because the debate that he might have sparked would have exposed a more comprehensive picture of what Buckley actually accomplished.
Dionne described, for example, what he takes to be "the many contradictions of contemporary conservatism," and the messiness and continual threat of collapse that such composition implies: stream, download (47 sec). Missed in his convenient observation (for a liberal) is, first, that reality itself is messy and seemingly self-contradictory and, second, that Western civilization itself is more a brilliantly contrived pile of loose stones than a solid monolith. He speaks of conservative fusionism as an idea that "never fully cohered" without apparently seeing that an ideology that would accurately address the world as it stands must necessarily involve an organic process of adjusting to infinite semblances of incoherence in the universe and human nature.
Of a piece is Dionne's characterization of Buckley's conservative counterculturalism as a paradox: stream, download (46 sec). Dionne describes Buckley's work as a reaction to the stultifying conformity of the '50s, but he seems not to understand that the objection to "middle of the road qua middle of the road" is that making moderation a goal is not only incoherent, but points to emptiness.
WFB's accomplishment, in this regard, is that he manifested the age's aesthetic preference for rebels but pointed it toward an intellectual structure concerned, at its soul, with a higher order, compared with the deliberate (and selectively beneficial) chaos underlying the prescriptions of radicals.
The Musical Pursuit of Life
Friday's pre-dinner musical interlude consisted of three soloists with piano accompaniment by Dom Ambrose, one of the abbey's monks, a graduate of Harvard and attendee at Julliard who now teaches music theory and English.
First came trumpeter Nathaniel Hepler, a professional with that instrument. Mr. Hepler played Bruce Broughton's "Oliver's Birthday" and a Sonata by Eric Ewazen.
Second was Evan Geiger, currently a graduate student in music at the Manhattan School, on horn. He and Dom Wolverton played Adagio and Allegro for Horn, Op. 70, by Robert Schumann, the audio of which I select for my excerpt for several reasons: I've always had an affection for the sound of the French horn; Marc Comtois and I had a subsequent disagreement about the quality of that instrument in general; I was too slow on the record trigger to capture the beginning of "Oliver's Birthday"; and I note a death year next to Mr. Schumann's birth year in the program, so there will be one less party in any complaints about intellectual property. Stream, download (8 min, 55 sec).
Closing out the program were tenor Troy Quinn performances of Handel's "Ombra mai fu" from Xerses and "Johanna" from Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd (an odd interposition, given the content of the conference). Mr. Quinn (although and mortality taps me on the shoulder as I write this very young to my eye) is the school's director of music. Infer no ageism with that; music can be a young-man's game, and in my limited observations, Troy is a man of substantial knowledge and ability.
To dispel accusations of ageism in the other direction, I'll note that Dom Ambrose Wolverton was the star of the performance. I overheard, as I attempted to advance my blogging backlog during a rehearsal, that he'd had no more than ten days to learn the music. To be honest, I don't know what the monk's schedule might have been during that week and a half, but it was quite an achievement, whatever the case.
Once again, the figure of the hooded robe at the piano served to disprove my erroneous impressions of what life as a monk entails. As a man fully happy in his role as a husband and father, I nonetheless pass by my own piano with lament all too frequently (or, every time I pass by my piano) and cannot find fault with a life that has deliberately made way for contemplation and such pursuits as music.
June 20, 2009
Correcting a Misimpression, and the Charitable Speaker
Between the Friday morning talks of Maggie Gallagher and Joseph Bottum, I was asked in the presence of a notable personage about my conversion to Catholicism. It took some time well past the cessation of the conversation for my mind to catch up to the realization that said personage's response indicated that I had inadequately characterized my emotions about the circumstances that brought me to the event in question.
My pithy summary was that, having had no experience with religious faith, I found myself within a year graduating from college, moving to a new apartment, pursuing employment, getting married, commuting for over an hour each way to and from work, and inhabiting a gray cubicle for the better part of every weekday, and I realized that something within my belief structure (more accurately, my non-belief structure) was not functional. The distinguished gentleman suggested that only the long commute and gray cubical were dispiriting aspects of the life that I'd described, and it still bothers me to think that he might not have understood how integral to my meaning precisely that actuality was.
What I'd meant to convey was that the rapid succession of these life-changing events seemed to have as their consequence a lack of success so profound that it couldn't even be called a failure. My great sprint through the final years of youthful development hadn't left me falling because unable to fly; rather, they'd placed me on a treadmill (the walls of which, I might add, were not only gray, but of such a design that it seemed as if a previous occupant had taken up the habit of checking off the days of his captivity). Furthermore, I had no basis to expect anything other than the continuation of that treadmill until my ultimate collapse into oblivious death.
Thence religious faith, which gave me a context by which to understand that, even if phony cloth partitions were to become the sum of life's setting, its real texture spread to spaces inherently unaffected by them.
Which brings me to the afternoon speech of New Criterion editor and publisher Roger Kimball.
Mr. Kimball gave an exquisite, if negative, description of the sign of peace moment in Roman Catholic Masses (stream, download) in which he lamented the disruption of "the mood appropriate to the celebration of the awful mystery of the Mass." The aesthetician does not like the moment, to say the least, but I'd propose that it makes a difference which threads are setting the mood.
My first trip to Mass as a might-be believer (rather than mere accompaniment for my wife) was made alone to an old urban church in Fall River that was, at the time, under construction, making it dark and close, with boards on windows and scaffolding constricting the pews. To this day, I remember how suffused was the service with the invocation of the quality that my days were desperately lacking: internal peace. And the moment at which that message's light managed its first wink into my psychological darkness came when the small boy behind me held out his hand and wished for it to do so (albeit with no great enthusiasm).
There may be something, here, of the distinction between those who've had faith and those who are approaching it. Kimball went on to describe the delight that Bill Buckley took in life (stream, download), and I can't imagine that he (or Mr. Buckley) would object to the observation that there are prerequisites to delight. Among them is that internal peace.
That is to say that one profits nothing from concentration at Mass if one's mind is a chaos of despair. A handshake can only be disruptive of prayer if a person's very thoughts are not a prior disruption. As one who knows neither man, and for many years knew not peace, I find Kimball's reference to Buckley's spiritual generosity significant (stream, download); how conducive to spiritual advancement it would be were one to find Mr. Kimball or Mr. Buckley among the randomly proximate churchgoers reaching out across the pew with a smile.
Speech after speech, this week, made the case that WFB was generous, indeed, with his smile, so it's odd that he would share Kimball's aversion to offering it during Sunday worship. Perhaps he needed that time for his own rejuvenation. I'll confess, however, that my newly Catholic eyes (relatively speaking) do not see the difficulty in reformulating that rejuvenation to the minor degree of affirming the importance of the church community as a constituent part of one's own, personal, and humble relationship with God.
Toward the end of his speech, Kimball spoke of time's internal complement (stream, download): taking away moments, while still providing the substrate on which achievement can grow. Just so with that non-traditional practice that he so loathes. Just so the presence of traditionalists among parishioners who don't know more than a garbled phrase or two of Latin.
Just so, as well, was it an act of spiritual generosity for Roger Kimball to offer his thoughts for our audience's consideration, facilitating the sort of discussion that even if online, and even if without response draws participants into the mechanics of the faith such that, by focus of the intellect, they almost do not notice that they have moved more deeply into belief.
BREAKING: K-Lo Not Leaving NRO
Perhaps because they don't realize how little understood the world of opinion journalism is among the public, various posters in the Corner have left a large question mark in their posts about Kathryn Jean Lopez's employment change at NRO: Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, and John Derbyshire.
Right after her speech at the Portsmouth Institute's Bill Buckley conference, I asked Kathryn what she'll be doing now that she's leaving NRO, and with a look of great emphasis, she waved her arms and explained that she's doing nothing of the kind. The "career change" is more of a lightening of responsibilities, perhaps to write a book, although she said that she doesn't currently have any specific plans.
(NB: I'll have excerpts from her speech up in due course, as I blog about the conference, a task for which I'm way behind, by blog standards, but life is interfering... such as the circus that I'm squeezing in for my children between today's sessions.)
The Writerly Catholic on Mr. Buckley's Catholic Writerliness
The thought that rushed to mind as soon as First Things Editor Joseph Bottum began his speech had to do with the striking differences in style between the speakers at the Portsmouth Institute's conference on William F. Buckley, Jr.
Fr. Rutler spoke from a prepared text as a transcendent intellectual with years of experience speaking in public, attempting to convey the practical application of abstractions to religious followers. His style was measured the computer rendering of his speech patterns shows the expression of a thought followed by a pause, as if he has constructed his speech like a work of music, with beats and measures ordered so as to better convey the theme.
Maggie Gallagher speaks like the columnist and activist that she is. There is a point to be made and evidence to be marshaled in its service, and having become thoroughly comfortable with the material, she embarks on her talk with no script, ready to adjust as her audience requires. When the listeners respond with inadequate evidence of familiarity with the origins of conservative fusionism, she is prepared to devote some minutes in summary. If a particular point seems to have more or less resonance than expected, she dwells or moves along as appropriate.
Joseph Bottum strikes me as a writerly speaker. I thought of audio that I've heard of William Faulkner's Nobel acceptance speech. Writers some writers, at least, among whom I number hear their texts in their heads, and for them, speechifying is not much different than the recitation of poetry. If a sentence seems rushed, it's the downward arc to something poignant. A mumbled phrase is akin to a passing note. The musical parallel comes from the Romantic period; the feel of the thing is what's being conveyed, because its intellectual theme is inextricable from the images and emotions in which it is saturated. That, of course, does not substitute for intellectual content, and Mr. Bottum in no way attempted such an exchange.
- A wonderful description of the young Bill Buckley: stream, download (1 min, 48 sec)
- Making a critical point about the money's role in Buckley's career, specifically with reference to God and Man at Yale, namely that it brought notice to uniquely compelling content that could then flourish: stream, download(35 sec)
- On the perspectives of different generations of Catholic writers, with Buckley illustrating an inclination to assume his faith and write about other things while standing on its foundation: stream, download (3 min, 22 sec)
- Answering a question on the drift of Catholic institutions (i.e., colleges) from the Catholic Church, suggesting that, at some point, the bishops will have to pull the trigger and threaten to declare the institutions to be no longer Catholic: stream, download (1 min, 11 sec)
- Addressing a question about simply moving on and supporting smaller, more faithfully Catholic institutions by suggesting that it would be better to get religious institutions off the path of drift, because the metaphysical assumptions on which Catholicism is based are worth preserving (because they happen to be true): stream, download (1 min, 36 sec)
June 19, 2009
The Marriage Debate in the Wake of the Buckley Conservative Movement
For the opening speech of the Portsmouth Institute's Friday session, Maggie Gallagher traced the effects of a few cultural (particularly marital) trends on the conservative fusionism that William F. Buckley, Jr., helped to develop.
- On the character Bill Buckley cut for himself by "refusing to grow" (meaning to become gradually more liberal upon becoming famous). Stream, download (52 sec).
- On the left's attack on conservative fusionism, assuming neutrality and leveraging Americans' general prosperity. The focus of this audio clip is abortion, but the interesting application to the same-sex marriage issue comes, first, in the further challenge of the notion that cultural traditionalism can coexist with limited government and, second, in the disallowance of traditionalists to continue to practice their faiths without bowing, in the public square, to a radical proclamation on marriage. Stream, download (2 min, 5 sec).
- On the intellectual difficulty that divorce and same-sex marriage present to those who wish to choose a traditional marital arrangement, in which both sides agree on the indissoluble nature of the relationship are enabled, that is, to make vows that they truly know mean in the eyes of the law what they profess them to mean. Stream, download (3 min, 25 sec)
- On the same-sex marriage movement's attempt to make marriage address the cultural problem of toleration in such a way as to detract from the institution's ability to address its own mission. Stream, download (59 sec)
- On the danger (especially for cultural conservatism) that the traditionalism of the creative class in which group Gallagher includes business people, especially entrepreneurs are breaking away from the structures of society that have nourished our own. Stream, download (2 min, 25 sec)
June 18, 2009
And the Budget Discussion Begins
Monique and Matt had a somewhat extended discussion of the beginning of the budget debate on the Matt Allen Show, last night. Another year of the wrong focus in the General Assembly, enabled with one-time revenue. You can be sure that we'll have much more to say as the days and weeks pass. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
June 12, 2009
Revisiting the Roundtable
For those who missed it live and/or who would like to hear the impetus for my posts on same-sex marriage, on church and state, and on populism I'd like to join Marc in noting that WPRO now has the audio online.
June 11, 2009
Tea Parties and the Attitude of the RI Revolution
Appearing on the Matt Allen Show, last night, Marc discussed the tea party with Matt and described the "resigned determination" of we who keep banging our head against the wall of Rhode-apathy and the corruption that it enables. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
June 4, 2009
AR's Optimism That It Doesn't Have to Be This Way
Andrew presented the question, in studio with Matt Allen last night, about whether Rhode Islanders believe that their state must always be at the wrong end of every list (especially those that are economic in nature). Stream by clicking here, or download it.
May 21, 2009
The Crier and the Untold Story
Last night, Matt Allen and I chatted about our new Community Crier feature and reviewed some of the particulars of Paul Kelly's ordeal with the Rhode Island judiciary. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
May 20, 2009
Your Late-Night Entertainment
Via the College Republicans at Roger Williams, "Obama-man can 'cause he mixes it with hope and makes the world feel good."
May 14, 2009
Painful Glimpses of the Rhode Island Way
There was an air of exasperation as Monique and Matt Allen discussed tax breaks for political supporters and threats from teachers. On a separate issue, hope remains that the General Assembly will pass E-Verify. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
May 7, 2009
Gambling, of the Casino and of the Region
On last night's Matt Allen show, Marc spoke of reemergence: of the gambling issue and of the regionalization issue (the latter of which perhaps we can dub Westconnaugium). Stream by clicking here, or download it.
May 2, 2009
Sitting 'Round the Table
The link for the online stream isn't working; I'll let y'all know when it's fixed.
For those who missed it, Matt Allen has posted audio from last night's Violent Round Table, featuring Tea Party organizer Kristen Bond, Andrew, and me. The conversation ranged from the swine flu to left-wing activists to prostitution. (Some might suggest that a thread or two run through all three topics...)
April 30, 2009
Taxes and a Possible Taxer
Andrew briefed the audience of the Matt Allen show last night on the nature of Rhode Island taxes and fees, along with some notes on the bungling beginning of Lincoln Chafee's gubernatorial run. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
April 29, 2009
Participate, Because Somebody Else Will
Let's be honest. For most of us, this whole civic participation thing is a chore. It's a responsibility. We stay informed; we vote; and really that should be enough. One reason we have elected representatives is to free up the rest of us to be productive, keep the economy going, and pursue happiness.
And yet the previous speakers who called for increased participation to the extent of committing ourselves to campaigns and elective office are absolutely right. We may have no desire to make a career, or even a sabbatical, out of public service, we may have no thirst for political power, but that is precisely why we are needed. Simply put, if we don't step forward, somebody else will. Somebody who doesn't see government as a chore.
As an indication of what I'm talking about, I'm going to read a few lines from the infamous fire-truck petition:
This proposal is being sought because the item was not considered by the Tiverton Budget Committee in the docket for this year and because numerous members of the Tiverton Budget Committee have advocated a maximum increase in the annual tax levy not to exceed one percent or zero, because the Tiverton Budget Committee is recommending a slashed school operational budget in order to achieve their desired goal ... and because these same Budget Committee members are squandering the limited ability to utilize tax revenues under the State mandated cap of 4.75% to improve the community as a whole.
There's no statement of dire need to buy such equipment despite the horrible economy. No research about the likely changes in property insurance. No examples of lives that would recently have been saved. The authors of this petition didn't even bother to note properties that might have been preserved in the past. According to news reports, they didn't even consult the fire chief!
Their primary motivation, in other words, is to out-maneuver people they don't like on the Budget Committee, and secondly, to claim as much of your income as possible. Their design is to take money from every taxpayer in Tiverton and allocate it to the priorities of a few people with the time and motivation to manipulate procedure.
Some of these people either benefit directly from town government or are close to people who do. Others of them, well, who knows? Maybe they've got their eyes on the State House and maybe, in their long-term aspirations, on Congress. Maybe they just like the feeling of a little local prominence. Or maybe it's more like a high school popularity thing.
I want to stress, here, that I'm not talking about everybody in local government, whether I agree with them or not. But this is certainly a segment a vocal and active contingent that must be countered. And the reason it must be countered is that if somebody is in government for personal gain, whether of the wallet or of the ego, or even if he or she just thought it'd be a nice way to get involved in the community, then that person is going to be more susceptible to special interests.
For example, throughout the recent teachers' contract discussions, we heard again and again, from the union as well as people on the other side of the negotiating table, that the money was "in the budget." The people of Tiverton the argument went wanted that money to go to the teachers' union. And now, here we stand, with all of the town's major contracts up for negotiation during a down economy, and the school committee chairman told the Budget Committee that he's got no bargaining leverage. The Town Council President claims it's easier to have too much money in the budget for labor and to put some back in the general fund if negotiations go well.
What these representatives should be advocating is to force the unions to negotiate against a taxpayer-mandated cut. Instead, there's been a push, which we'll probably see again at the financial town meeting, to postpone budget decisions until after the unions are all settled up. The Committee and the Council want to negotiate with an admittedly weak hand rather than to be able to say to the unions, "The money is not in the budget. At least you have your jobs."
You probably already know the argument that we'll hear if the FTM occurs after the fact. "These contracts are signed. There's nothing we can do. Except raise taxes. Oh, and by the way, we're going to need more money to staff, equip, and fuel our new fire truck."
Folks, we do have to start small, and that means simply attending the financial town meeting. But we also have to build, because these people, these problems, already permeate our system at every layer of government. TCC is available to provide some structure and some moral support at the town level, and the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition is growing at the state level for the same purpose, but there really is no substitute for participation.
We've reached the point in Tiverton and in Rhode Island that participation is no longer a civic duty or chore. It's a matter of self defense.
TCC Taxpayer Forum Audio
The following speeches were given at the Tiverton Citizens for Change taxpayer forum on Monday, April 27.
- TCC President David Nelson: stream, download (4min 30sec)
- TCC and Tiverton Budget Committee member Thomas Parker: stream, download (13min 39sec)
- Rhode Island Statewide Coalition Executive Director Harry Staley: stream, download (19min 39sec)
- TCC member and Tiverton Budget Committee Chairman Jeff Caron: stream, download (17min)
- East Providence Taxpayers Association spokesman Bill Murphy: stream, download (27min 4sec)
- Anchor Rising's me: stream, download (5min 29sec)
- TCC member Joe Souza: stream, download (35sec)
April 28, 2009
Operation Clean Government Panel Audio (Continued 3)
- WPRO's Dan Yorke asks how leaders can accomplish a major change in Rhode Island: stream, download (57sec)
- URI economics professor Leonard Lardaro suggests that we have to look toward the future in our decisions and that "everybody's indirect motto is 'everything's negotiable'": stream, download (1min 32sec)
- First audience question goes to the man who shouted out angrily at General Treasurer Frank Caprio, who predicts a Governor Caprio and winds up asking why Rhode Islanders vote so badly: stream, download (2min 38sec)
- Representative Elizabeth Dennigan (D., East Providence, Pawtucket) suggests that voters should "be discerning" and vote based on issues, not personality: stream, download (27sec)
- John Hazen White, Jr., President and CEO of Taco, Inc., expresses the opinion that people should vote for politicians who don't see it as a career: stream, download (19sec)
- Buddy from Johnston asks Dennigan to stop legislative grants ("rub and tug"), and she replies, "It's not an equitable system, and it's not dispersed equallly, so it shouldn't be dispersed at all": stream, download (1min 49sec)
- Caprio answers a call for a pitch from government to business by saying that the government should exist to serve businesses, period; "Over taxation; over regulation; every time a business deals with government, it's confrontational":stream, download (1min 29sec)
- An audience questioner asks, as a landlord, where tenants are going to come from, and she and Yorke have an interesting discussion on citizen activism: stream, download (5min 23sec)
- Another questioner decries government cronyism: stream, download (1min 57sec)
- Terry Gorman of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement asks why the state can't pass E-Verify: stream, download (1min 29sec)
- Dennigan is "glad to see that the Obama administration is working on a system that will secure our borders": stream, download (41sec)
- Caprio says, "Pass E-Verify; we're a country of laws; enforce the law": stream, download (13sec)
- Department of Administration director Gary Sasse notes that the state currently uses E-Verify and businesses should be able to, and Yorke notes the difference in citizen enthusiasm between illegal immigration (high) and government inefficiency (low): stream, download (2min 56sec)
- Caprio turns the question toward state aid and minimum manning mandates: stream, download (39sec)
- Harry Staley of Rhode Island Statewide Coalition takes the audience mic expresses the concern of suburbanites that regionalization and consolidation will only direct money to the maw of Providence, and Yorke suggests that RISC make this its issue: stream, download (2min 38sec)
- An audience questioner promotes ending the straight ticket ballot option, and Dennigan says she "strongly supports" it, as do others on the panel: stream, download (1min 13sec)
- An audience member offers her diagnosis of Rhode Island's problem: "Rhode Island is a victim of rape": stream, download (32sec)
- Another audience members says Rhode Islanders don't know what to believe and are too trusting of their leaders and asks how to develop a relationship with their representatives; Caprio: "Run against them or get in their face with a lot of people": stream, download (2min 29sec)
- Yorke talks about wrapping up: stream, download (24sec)
- An audience question about searching for a new Economic Development director; Sasse answers: stream, download (1min 17sec)
- Governor's wife Sue Carcieri mentions the problem of monopartisanism and raises voter ID: stream, download (1min 32sec)
- Caprio notes his ranking on Anchor Rising's top 10 right-of-center list for RI and, after some prompting from Yorke, declares definitively that he is not considering switching parties: stream, download (1min 17sec)
- A college student expresses fear about not finding a job in Rhode Island and asks whether the people leaving the state like him or are more established people packing up and going; general agreement of "both," including from Lardaro: stream, download (1min 16sec)
- Former OCG director Bruce Lang speaks of reducing the size of government, implementing term limits for legislators, and the power of public employee unions ("run the legislature"): stream, download (1min 20sec)
- Dennigan notes that 55% of the state budget is social services but refuses to answer whether unions and social service advocates should dominate government expenditures, instead giving an example of somebody who relies on social services: stream, download (1min 54sec)
- Yorke recalls the question about having state government "get out of a business" or two: stream, download (27sec)
- An audience member talks about cutting taxes and being more targeted in government solutions and citizen activism: stream, download (1min 23sec)
- Another audience member recaps and raises the straight ticket issue again: stream, download (51sec)
- Representative Rod Driver (D., Charlestown, Exeter, Richmond) decries prevailing wage requirements and other state mandates on cities and towns: stream, download (41sec)
- The panel members state that which they learned during the morning's event: stream, download (1min 32sec)
- Governor Don Carcieri offers a closing summation, saying that government is not the proper channel for charity and social justice: stream, download (6min 38sec)
- Yorke offers his own closing summation: stream, download (2min 42sec)
April 26, 2009
Operation Clean Government Panel Audio (Continued 2)
- WPRO's Dan Yorke asked where the side that's supposed to counterbalance special interests has been, to some confusion over whether he means elected representatives or voters, with short responses from General Treasurer Frank Caprio: stream, download (29sec)
- Representative Elizabeth Dennigan (D., East Providence, Pawtucket) says the public has to do its homework, seeming to imply that citizens ought to analyze portions of the budget; "help us out": stream, download (1min 7sec)
- Yorke specifies the question to ask why the General Assembly leadership isn't in the room; "Do you think they give a damn?"; audience, "No!": stream, download (57sec)
- Dennigan attempts to compliment her leadership, but slipped up to say, "I'll give them kudos for letting me be here"; 30 seconds of audience turbulence, including one shout of "there's the diagnosis"; Yorke pursued, and Dennigan responded awkwardly: stream, download (1min 29sec)
- Yorke questions whether anybody is in the room from labor, alludes to labor YouTube videos, compliments Bob Walsh, calls labor's point of view "legitimate," and lists the various issues that politicians must be able to address: stream, download (2min 49sec)
- Yorke prods Caprio on how he would battle the General Assembly and test labor if governor; when he said, "You dig in with the General Assembly," an irate audience member stood up and started shouting, "You're grandfathered in"; Caprio clarified that "you dig in against them": stream, download (3min 52sec)
- Having turned the question toward the "one thing" that a governor has to insist upon to turn the state around, Yorke points to Department of Administration head Gary Sasse begins on cutting taxes: stream, download (32sec)
- Prompted to provide her philosophy on taxation, Dennigan says, "No new taxes; why can't we decrease them?": stream, download (1min 1sec)
- URI economics professor Leonard Lardaro jumps in to say that "the people of this state have to demand results": stream, download (1min 35sec)
- Yorke asks what business(es) the state government ought to get out of: stream, download (2min 14sec)
- John Hazen White, Jr., President and CEO of Taco, Inc., replies "government"; Yorke asks if he's "advocating for chaos": stream, download (1min 2sec)
- Sasse cites pension reforms, management rights, and tenure reform as areas that need to be accomplished more efficiently; he enumerates that government should be in education, infrastructure, and "realistic safety nets"; "everything else is irrelevant"; "We haven't discussed what we can afford. That's why we've become an entitlement society, because we never assess what we can afford.": stream, download (5min 16sec)
- Dennigan responds that we need "pension reform" and begins to ramble: stream, download (1min 33sec)
- Sasse raises provinciality, which becomes a sort of take-away for the morning: stream, download (58sec)
- Caprio says that we don't need "government layers on top of government layers": stream, download (1min 17sec)
Operation Clean Government Panel Audio (Continued)
As some have already noted in Anchor Rising's play-by-play, some significant and interesting things were said at Operation Clean Government's spring forum. Last night, I posted audio of Governor Carcieri's unscheduled speech; thereafter, the panel took the stage:
- OCG President Arthur "Chuck" Barton introduces the panel, points out some significant people in the audience, and gives brief opening remarks: stream, download (2min, 9sec)
- WPRO talk show host Dan Yorke kicks off the discussion, asking the panelists to give their diagnosis of Rhode Island's illness: stream, download (3min, 53sec)
- Dan directs the question to RI General Treasurer Frank Caprio, who gives a solutioning speech (state must be "user friendly" to business), leading Dan to drive the conversation to the question: stream, download (4min, 10sec)
- John Hazen White, Jr., President & CEO of Taco, Inc., repeats the governor's take, "We are creating a much bigger tax burden; at the same time depleting the tax payers": stream, download (41sec)
- Unfortunately, an attempt to locate a beeping noise (which turned out not to be my equipment), rendered the short response of Director of Administration Gary Sasse, as well as the beginning of Rep. Dennigan's response, inaudible.
- Representative Elizabeth Dennigan (D., East Providence, Pawtucket) points the finger at efficiency and transparency, saying "I can tell you as a long-time member of the finance committee that we don't know how we are spending millions": stream, download (29sec)
- University of Rhode Island Economics Professor Leonard Lardaro blames an endemic approach of Rhode Islanders, specifically that "Too many people in this state have a very exogenous view of the world; things just happen; they don't really associate actions now with outcomes later": stream, download (2min 32sec)
- Yorke redirects the question redirects the question to define Rhode Islanders: stream, download (3min 20sec)
- Caprio mentioned the sacrifice of our parents and noted an inclination to help each other, to which Yorke responded that he's describing Americans: stream, download (2min 33sec)
- Hazen White lauds ingenuity, creativity, etc: stream, download (1min 31sec)
- Yorke specifies that he's looking more for the philosophical in order to resolve RI's status as "submerged": stream, download (50sec)
- Dennigan says that we should stop "complaining and encouraging our young students to leave and go somewhere else" and market the state: stream, download (1min 58sec)
- Yorke suggests that Rhode Islanders must and can be honest about themselves; "The doctor doesn't say, in his mind, you're dying of cancer, but you know what? You're a good egg.": stream, download (1min 34sec)
- Lardaro says that Rhode Islanders are "deeply caring" but are "consumption oriented" and are "way too trusting of our leaders"; "Tone always seems to supersede accuracy": stream, download (1min 33sec)
- Sasse expands that "what happened is we became an entitle-mentality state" based on political decisions, which fostered "an inferiority complex": stream, download (1min 42sec)
- Yorke asks Dennigan whether Rhode Islanders have courage; the crowd says, "no"; Dennigan points to the people in the room as an example of courage: stream, download (33sec)
- Yorke defines the question as having the grit to change our lifestyle, making it healthier; "Would Rhode Islanders rather die than do the things that the doctor has prescribed?"; audience member: "They don't believe it": stream, download (1min 9sec)
- Hazen White says there's "a tremendous lack of courage and maybe an uninformed path" and that he was "dumbfounded" that the Democrats expanded their power in the last election; and another thing, "we've got a union problem": stream, download (1min 56sec)
- To laughs from the crowd, Caprio shifts to call it "a special interest problem" in that there's no opposing force for the taxpayer against them: stream, download (1min 8sec)
April 25, 2009
Today's Panel... and Others
Having not attended many events like this, I can only take a general sense for comparison, but I thought today's panel courtesy Operation Clean Government was particularly good and, incidentally, provided further evidence of a growing intention to be heard among Rhode Island's regular citizens. Some of that may have been an effect of the tone that Dan Yorke set as moderator, but in context of broader observations, well, it leaves room to hope.
As the event came to a close, Andrew suggested to me that a similar event for the younger set would be worth organizing and participating in, and I agreed. The prospect brought to mind a possibility that has emerged every now and then, over the past few years, of a panel that crosses ideological lines, hosted, for example, by College Republicans and College Democrats and involving Matt Jerzyk and me. Sadly, I don't believe the current leadership (especially attitudinal leadership) among our counterparts on the left to be as prone to dialogue as I've always thought Matt to be even as we strenuously disagreed.
Our increasing prominence and the bubbling expansion of a right-of-center reform movement may be playing a role in that shift.
But to return to the subject at hand: There were some very compelling moments throughout the panel discussion, as well as some newsworthy statements. I'll be rolling out the audio as I'm able over the next couple of days.
"We've got to control the spending, so we can sustain what we have, and the other piece of the equation is we've got to get competitive from a tax standpoint."
"We've got to shift the focus to creating a vibrant economic base in this state that's privately structured so that we're generating the jobs."
"Now is the time that we've got to ratchet up the game."
April 23, 2009
Naysaying Man-Driven Global Warming on Earth Day
Monique explained why she believes trying to affect global warming by changing mankind's behavior is pointless and disruptive on the Matt Allen show last night. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
April 18, 2009
Giving Whitehouse an Easy Go
Although Arlene Violet subsequently whacked him with a great question about using stimulus money to suppress changes to teachers' healthcare benefits, I'm very disappointed that the Newsmakers gang let Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse ramble on with this partisan mumbo-jumbo for three minutes:
I think it's sort of an ironic moment on this subject, and particularly to the extent that the tea party was orchestrated through the Republican Party and its organizations, because here we are in a bleak recession, which is the one time when economists agree that federal spending is really important, even when you have to borrow to spend, because families are contracting their budgets, businesses are contracting their budgets, states and municipalities are contracting their budgets, and so the whole economy contracts and collapses unless the federal government can engage in what they call "countercyclical spending" to moderate the downturn. So, this is the one time when it really makes sense.
When George Bush took office, we were headed for being a debt-free nation now. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office took a look at where the budget was when President Clinton left it, and we were in surplus, and we were headed for debt-free, and in eight years, George Bush changed that, nine trillion now, 8.9 trillion, to be specific, and that was fair-weather times. That was money for everybody. That was Wall Street on a roll, and he spent that 8.9 trillion on things like a war in Iraq and letting Wall Streeters rake in billions of dollars and get their taxes reduced while they were doing that.
So, there's a kind of sad irony in, now that we need it, people becoming so upset about the federal spending when nobody really paid attention to it, and there weren't tea parties going on when George Bush was running up $9 trillion in debt to give tax breaks to Wall Street millionaires.
First of all, the Republican Party did not "orchestrate" the tea parties. Watch, for evidence, big-spending Republicans being booed at them across the country.
On the financial points, what is Whitehouse talking about with that $8.9 trillion? The total national debt now stands at $11.1 trillion (PDF). When President Bush left office, it was $10.6 trillion (PDF). But when Bush took office, it was $5.7 trillion.
It risks a fatal tangent, but it's worth noting that this number includes intragovernmental holdings, most notably the infamous Social Security IOUs. Such internal borrowing is not typically included in annual deficit numbers. In a sense, the government owes this money in promised services, but there aren't lenders with bills for eventual payment. Excluding this total, the debt under Bush grew from $3.4 trillion (9/29/00) to $5.8 trillion (9/29/08).
Whether we count the increase in the debt as $4.9 trillion or $2.4 trillion, it's still too much anything above zero is too much but it simply isn't true that the federal government under President Bush ran up "$9 trillion in debt." It's a lie. And it doesn't take into account the fact that about half of the increase by either measure occurred during the two of Bush's eight years during which Democrats controlled Congress, which controls the federal purse.
Moving on to Whitehouse's assertion of Wall Street's being on "a roll" during the Bush presidency enables a nice return to the notion of that "countercyclical spending" of which he's so fond. In actuality, the DOW dipped about 2,000 points around the time of 9/11, recovered some, and then spent much of 2H02 and 1H03 even lower. According to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, private domestic investment dipped from 2001 through 2003. During and beyond this period, government revenues plummeted.
Bush and the Republican Congress increased outlays at the outset of this downturn and held them reasonably steady as a percentage of GDP. (The fiscal conservative in me, though, is still inclined to complain that outlays went up steadily in absolute terms no matter the economic situation, PDF.) Then the economy improved. Consequently, the deficits under Bush show a U pattern, maxing out in 2004 and then heading back toward zero, until the recession began to really sink in in 2008.
An inconceivable number of factors come into play, here, but the point is that, if you buy Senator Whitehouse's economic excuse for the Obama-Dem spending spree (which I don't), the Bush years would have to count as a prime example of mitigating recessions through government spending. This intellectual necessity is evidenced most strongly in the fact that the dot-com bust, an unprecedented terrorist attack in the U.S. financial core, and years of war did not prevent those years from being such that Whitehouse speaks so glowingly of the economy, then.
Even so, in the graphic shown at that last link, the jaw-dropping difference between the Bush deficits and those projected for Obama and beyond makes so much mumbling of Whitehouse's chatter. The Congressional Budget Office expects most of the next decade to have annual deficits that more than double Bush's worst year.
It's understandable that the journalists wouldn't have had the information at hand to rebut the Senator's talking-points nonsense on air, but Whitehouse was sufficiently brazen that they should have recognized a need for him to explain his numbers. Maybe an inevitable stumble or two would have at least given viewers a sense that he wasn't rolling through economic gospel truth.
April 16, 2009
Talkin' Rally With Mr. Allen
What else would Matt and I have discussed during last night's Matt Allen show, other than the tea party? For thoughts on what to make of it and what to do next: stream by clicking here, or download it.
April 9, 2009
Feelings on the Radio
WPRO listeners will have heard the audio of the female Brown student who felt that if people feel offended about Columbus Day she wouldn't feel there to be a problem with removing it from the calendar. On last night's Matt Allen show, Marc and Matt discussed feelings and some of the things that we've been thinking about on Anchor Rising. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
April 4, 2009
Loughlin in a Rat-a-tat-tat
There seemed to be something different about the pacing of Newsmakers, last week, when Rep. John Loughlin was on. The questions came at a rapid-fire-pace. I think John did well, in that environment, although his answer didn't quite address what I would have liked to hear on the (now moot) question of delaying the financial town meeting in Tiverton.
The second segment of the show was instructive, as well. Republicans and Democrats in the public light seem to come from different places especially, but not only, in Rhode Island. Republicans don't appear to be in it for the career prospects created by the political process in the sense that those prospects were their primary motivation; they're either fed up, unable to watch the world go in what they believe to be the wrong direction, or looking for ways to do something different with their own lives. That's not to say that Republicans don't get caught up in the political game or swept away in fantasies of personal importance, but they seem more apt to answer questions as they're asked rather than mentally flipping through a notebook of talking points. Again: at least among our crew in Rhode Island.
Some might say it's a measure of integrity, others a measure of incompetence. Me, I'd recast "incompetence" as "inexperience" and suggest that politics tends to keep integrity and inexperience in correlation.
April 2, 2009
A Brief Chat with Number 10
Andrew stopped by the studio to take our Wednesday spot on the Matt Allen show and to discuss our top 10 list as well as the political philosophy and action that the state of Rhode Island requires. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
March 26, 2009
Perhaps If the GA Became Obsessed with Twittering...
Matt Allen and I touched on twittering, sex ed, and economic development, last night on the Matt Allen show. If twittering is as addictive and time-consuming as some folks have suggested, then we might do well to get our state legislators hooked. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
March 22, 2009
RISC Winter Meeting: Governor Don Carcieri on Budgets, Benefits, and the Future
- RISC Chairman Harry Staley's introduction: stream, download
- Opening remarks coverage of the budget proposal has been "incomprehensible"; "politics is a contact sport"; "I am mad as hell": stream, download
- The need for RISC and citizen action American Revolution began with just a few taxpayers who had had enough: stream, download
- The problem "We have gotten ourselves into a position over decades"; Look around the country and see all the states that have grown and prospered over the last decade: they are all the low-tax, right-to-work states, where businesses are happy to go there": stream, download
- On state employees "I don't blame them. If you can get it and your employer is dumb enough to give it to you": stream, download
- Riling up "I'm tired of just talking around the edges"; "The reason we are where we are with spending and these benefits are out of control is you've got special interests number 1, unions state employees unions that are controlling this"; "They've been masterful, and are getting more masterful every day, and you're seeing it happen right now at the national level.": stream, download
- Countervailing force needed "In playing the game, that means there's got to be a countervailing force."; "What I'm talking about is a party system that is essentially a monopoly... They just do what the leadership wants done, and the interest groups that are up there every single day.": stream, download
- Wall Street Journal editorial about taxation in Illinois "Everything I say here, think 'Rhode Island.'": stream, download
- We are improving "This doesn't happen over night."; after pension change, over 1,200 people left, so state employment is at its lowest point since they've been counting: "It isn't any surprise why your property taxes are constantly under pressure, because most of the money that the towns and cities and states spend is for people.": stream, download
- On being competitive "We've got to be competitive from a tax standpoint as a state... News bulletin! News bulletin out there: The government does not create jobs."; "The government's job is to create the environment where the private sector creates jobs, employs people, makes higher wages, and grows the wealth of the community.": stream, download
- We need to lower taxes across the board, not just one-off deals "The beauty about reducing and eliminating our corporate income taxes is that everybody's in the same boat.": stream, download
- Must move now "We are at such an axis point, right now. This is it. This year, either we're going to do the things that we need to position this state to really prosper and to be able to sustain what it is we're doing, or we're not... It's not a foregone conclusion.": stream, download
- Need to change our municipal operations, such as consolidating services on Aquidneck Island: stream, download
- On the budget and stimulus "There's a lot of confusion about what we're doing in this budget, what we're trying to accomplish."; "From my standpoint, there's three philosophical issues related to the so-called stimulus. ... A chunk of this stimulus money was... to help the states bridge [the revenue fall-off]. ... The hard choices are still there; they're not going away just because of this money."; "The second principle in this was, there's a lot of people out of work... so it was trying to help them."; "Third principle: Create jobs, but the only part of this whole package that's going to create jobs tangibly is the highway and bridge funding."; "I'm trying to get tax reform into place now because it's the only thing that's going to be our salvation going forward.": stream, download
- On motivation and legacy "I want to make sure that I'm leaving this state in a position that it's going to prosper; that's all I care about... change decades of bad behavior and bad habits."; "There's no other agenda. I'm not running for anything.": stream, download
- Closing remarks "You are the only hope. It's true. Don't look scared."; example: killing the Economic Death and Dismemberment Act last year; "We can do this, here. We're right on the cusp.": stream, download
RISC Winter Meeting: Treasurer Frank Caprio on Debt and Pensions
- RISC Chairman Harry Staley's introduction: stream, download
- Caprio's opening remarks (and shout-outs): stream, download
- Mock description of U.S. and RI governments as investment opportunities: stream, download
- Why are these entities able to find investors to cover debt? Private enterprise: stream, download
- Expressing intentions to "move things in the right direction (i.e., lowering taxes, increasing transparency, and furthering "strong financial management": stream, download
- Reviewing the pension system's history in RI "Is there any mystery as to why we as taxpayers are slated to pay a billion dollars of taxpayer money into the pension system in just seven short years?": stream, download
- The solution "being addressed right now by the state legislator": stream, download
- "The problem is that we have twenty years" to go" to fully fund pensions" while pursuing changes in health and logevity increases: stream, download
- Closing remarks, insisting that we not saddle future generations with our problems:: stream, download
March 21, 2009
RISC Winter Meeting: EPTA's William Murphy Encourages Engaged Citizens
The second speech at the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition's Winter Meeting came from the East Providence Taxpayers Association's William Murphy, who focused on local-level movement building (stream entire speech):
- RISC Chairman Harry Staley's introduction: stream, download
- Murphy's opening remarks: stream, download
- We must focus on our effectiveness as citizens: stream, download
- Step 1 is to formulate our goals clearly: stream, download
- Step 2 is to "offer the average citizen opportunity to constructdively participate," because "citizens have abandoned the public square": stream, download
- The reform movement needs to strengthen local taxpayer groups "we are learning in East Providence that shining the light on the process makes a difference": stream, download
- Describing the situation in East Providence and suggesting that the solution lies elsewhere than on taxpayers' backs, but that taxpayers must be more involved: stream, download
- Closing remarks: stream, download
RISC Winter Meeting: Gary Sasse Talks Taxes
Giving the first speech at the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition's Winter Meeting, Gary Sasse, Governor Carcieri's Director of the Department of Administration, spoke about tax policy (stream entire speech):
- RISC Chairman Harry Staley's introduction: stream, download
- Sasse's opening remarks we compete for capital and labor, and tax policy affects our success: stream, download
- The reason for a Tax Policy Workgroup was our lack of competitiveness we were "taking money out of the private sector and putting it in the public sector in a very uncompetitive way": stream, download
- The need for reform to prepare for the end of the recession: stream, download
- The tax reform in the governor's current budget increase exemption of estate tax, phase out and eliminate the corporate tax ("That is the perception change we need. That is a bold step."), decrease personal income taxes ("Every income group, up to a half million dollars, pays lower average income taxes under the proposed system."): stream, download
- Closing remarks: stream, download
March 19, 2009
Talking About Bonuses
On last night's Matt Allen show, Monique and Matt shared disbelief at the disbelief that Congress (particularly one marble-mouthed representative) has expressed regarding AIG's bonus handouts. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
March 12, 2009
In the Dark Land, the Man with a Flashlight Is King
Or maybe he's an easy target.
Matt and I had a few laughs (of the "or we'd cry" variety on last night's Matt Allen show. Why doesn't anybody in power see what needs to be done, and what's the appropriate attitude to have in response? Stream by clicking here, or download it.
March 5, 2009
"Like a Talk Show on the Internet"
March 1, 2009
While on the Topic of Pining (a Little Revivification)
If you've got ten minutes, it might do your patriotic spirit good to watch a couple snips of speeches from opposite ends of Ronald Reagan's political career:
- The first I came across while perusing Prof. Jacobson's blog: "Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory; they call their policy 'accommodation,' and they say that if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he'll forget his evil ways and learn to love us."
- The second is presented on Ocean State Republican as an answer to Obama's supporters: "All great change in America begins at the dinner table, so tonight in the kitchen, I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do."
It's tempting to bemoan that "they don't make 'em like Reagan anymore," but they do. We just have to find them and support them.
February 26, 2009
Dealing with Stimulation
Appearing on last night's Matt Allen show, Monique shone some light on strings attached to stimulus money such as the reversal of welfare reform and advised caution in accepting and deploying it Stream by clicking here, or download it.
February 19, 2009
Letting the Public Watch the Table
February 13, 2009
State on the Radio
Matt and Marc talked about the state of the state, on the Matt Allen show, Wednesday night, and the peculiarity of having a lieutenant governor from the governor's opposition party (sports analogy employed). Stream by clicking here, or download it.
February 7, 2009
Tiverton Fire and Money Issues
Of the three hours of Tiverton town council budget workshop discussion, the only mildly animated discussion came toward the beginning, regarding the fire department's budget. Here are two snippets:
- Discussing the union's refusal to lower minimum manning, space their vacations, or forgo their recent pay raise: stream, download. The first voice is Fire Chief Robert Lloyd, and the second is Town Administrator James Goncalo. Councilor Louise Durfee speaks up, followed by Councilor Jay Lambert confirming that the union would offer "no concessions at all."
- Discussing a new ladder truck (which is not actually in the budget): stream, download. The initial inquiry is made by Councilor Hannibal Costa, with the chief answering and Council President Don Bollin disagreeing on a particular example and noting that negotiations occur within a long-term relationship (to paraphrase). Louise Durfee's voice is in there, as well.
February 5, 2009
A Topical Puzzle
On the Matt Allen show, last night, Matt and I discussed the madness of the modern world from CEOs who are practically daring the government to begin finding ways to limit their pay to teachers' unions that are risking PR devastation to keep their contracts growing. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
February 1, 2009
The Leadership Dance
Part 2 of Tim White's investigation into misuse of public resources and time in the Providence Sewer Department mainly concerned supervisor Algot Abrahamson's use of a city truck for a spin to a known gambling house. More intriguing, in my opinion, is the similarity in some of the supervisor's phrasing to that of Mayor David Cicilline on White's related Newsmakers show. Says Abrahamson:
What I'm saying is a picture doesn't convince me there is any wrongdoing here, you'd have to speak to the director. I know the men, they are two of the best workers I have. ... Yeah, well, I guess I'm responsible for a certain amount of it, yes. I have so many guys, I can't follow everybody everyday.
And says the mayor:
The city of Providence has about 6,000 employees. We have extraordinary leaders in each of the departments in city government, and I would say without question that what you just saw was an aberration. ...
[Talking about issues in the Providence tax office:] Ultimately, the responsibility for that office, and all of the city offices is mine, but in any organization you have a director of administration, or any government, you have a director of finance who ultimately direct supervises.
Compliment one's workers, accept nominal responsibility, pass the blame down.
Cicilline dodged Arlene Violet's persistent questioning of why it took Tim White to discover abuse, and how he (the mayor) could possibly assert that the workers caught were in no way representative of a larger problem. Referring back to the transcript of White's report, I see that arguably the most egregious of the abuses uncovered the backhoe traveling across the city with a load of publicly owned sand for the foreman's house occurred on the very first day of surveillance.
Quite a coincidence.
January 29, 2009
A Bleg for a Blog
Long-time participants in the blogosphere a group in which I'd include lurking readers will be familiar with the term "blegging." It was coined, I believe, by Jonah Goldberg, of National Review, who used it to indicate a blog post begging for information from readers. Our current bleg is for financial support, as Monique explained to Matt Allen, last night, on the Matt Allen show. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
Monique and Matt are absolutely correct that, to the extent that we're able to raise money from readers, we won't have the appearance of being beholden to any particular interests. I'd stress, though, that our ideological drive and (at least my) stubbornness are strong protection against corruption-by-financing. This is currently volunteer work for all of us, and our sense of the project has been formed in that crucible, regardless of our ability to become, as Monique put it, "semi-pro."
January 28, 2009
Listening in on the School Committee
Here's some significant audio from last night's school committee meeting in Tiverton, as I described on scene. A key take-away from the evening is that almost half of the $300,000+ that the school district must cut from the 2009-2010 budget to stay within the state spending cap is a direct result of this contract's approval. Unless the committee plans to cut teacher pay next year, that means either layoffs or decreases in other budget items, which already constitute a lower percentage of per-student spending than is true for the state as a whole.
- Superintendent Bill Rearick: stream, download
- Carol Herrmann: stream, download
- Danielle Coulter: stream, download
- Leonard Wright: stream, download
- Sally Black: stream, download
- Jan Bergandy: stream, download
- David Nelson: stream, download
- Joe Souza: stream, download
- Richard Rollins: stream, download
- Me: stream, download
- Rob Coulter (and a long response from Jan Bergandy): stream, download
- Mike Burk: stream, download
- Chris Cotta: stream, download
- Denise Demedeiros: stream, download
- Jay Lambert: stream, download
- Amy Mullen confirms Wright's vote: stream, download
January 24, 2009
Comments from the Chair
Or maybe it was a bar stool; I couldn't see. Most of the talking at Thursday night's Young Republicans event was of a mingling sort among the 6080 people in the room, so I didn't record it, but Travis Rowley and RIGOP Chairman Gio Cicione did offer more public comments:
I'd like to note, for the record, that mine is not the voice of the "woohoo" that one hears just after Travis mentions me.
The setting made it particularly appropriate, but Gio made a point that applies much more broadly than just to young Republicans:
When I got reengaged in the party about three years ago, it was through the Young Republicans and through somebody like Travis taking the reins and starting to do good things with this group, and two years after I got reengaged, I was the chair of the party. That's not necessarily a good sign for a party, but it's a good sign for the people in this group, because there is a lot of opportunity for people who are willing to put in the time.
Gio's is a common experience, in this state, from local taxpayer groups on up. Owing to dire need, willingness to engage and a bit of native intelligence can bring a person rapidly to positions in which it is actually possible to make a significant difference.
January 22, 2009
On Interviews and Interviewees
In answer to questions, insinuations, suggestions, and allegations: Yes, we're certainly interested in, and will in the future make efforts to facilitate, doing such interviews with other folks in the public eye.
January 21, 2009
Sitting Down with the Treasurer
RI General Treasurer Frank Caprio invited Anchor Rising for a sit-down chat in his office last night, centering on pension issues, but touching on various other matters.
In general, I think the four of us in attendance were reasonably impressed with the treasurer's explanations for economic policies and his knowledge of political history in Rhode Island. In specific, some of the more detailed material is going to take time for us to digest prior to comment, but a few clips might be of interest to readers right off the digital recorder:
- On complete financial transparency in his office, to be unrolled in a few weeks: stream, download
- In opposition to the use of state-owned vehicles: stream, download
- I got a chuckle out of the notion of fear among those in his office promoted beyond the union's bounds to become (scary music) at-will employees: stream, download
- Caprio's got a merit-based promotion system in place with his workers' union, and he thinks the practice is transferrable across government: stream, download
- Apparently, Rhode Island "only" pays 7% of its revenue toward debt service. I wasn't wholly satisfied with the Caprio's description of the comparative appearance of that statistic against a typical business and wonder whether it's fair to compare the government to a mortgage-paying household: stream, download
- On the possibility of municipal bankruptcy (or entry into "a process"): stream, download
- On his pension-plan thinking. Apparently, much of the cost of switching to 401k would come from accounting rules, but with the possible loophole of diminishing, rather than "closing" the defined benefit program: stream, download
- The reason that Rhode Island actually ranks pretty well when it comes to retiree healthcare costs: stream, download
- On abortion and same-sex marriage, neither of which would be his center of focus for any campaigns or offices: stream, download
- Running for governor?: stream, download
- Wherein I continue to strive for an answer on the social issues: stream, download
- On eVerify and immigration: stream, download
- On branding the state otherwise than with corruption and mob films: stream, download
- With regard to a port project and other initiatives, the treasurer agrees with me that a broadly attractive economic environment (tax cuts included) ought to be the focus of policies: stream, download
- An interesting response to my question about his thoughts on Republicans running as Democrats ("Why not the reverse?") and a discussion of the RIGOP: stream, download
January 15, 2009
The Locus of Disruption
To the conversation about Anthony Carcieri's microphone volume (or lack thereof), I'd add my impression that Carcieri fully anticipated a disruptive atmosphere and was focused on moving through the agenda, without expectation that the audience would be following along or would be able to do so, given audience noise. Consequently, he didn't bother much ensuring audibility beyond the dais.
That said, from my limited experience in Tiverton, the tone that the union set in East Providence was pretty standard for negotiation-season school committee meetings. The "can't hear you" heckles are a mainstay anything to rattle the small-time public officials.
Indeed, if you listen to the second snip of audio from the meeting, somebody shouted that very phrase amid a drown-out wave of boos almost before Carcieri'd said a single word.
January 14, 2009
The Sound of the Beginning of the End
The following are some audio clips from the East Providence School Committee meeting. Keep in mind, while listening, that the sound isn't entirely representative. For one thing, I was sitting near the taxpayer group, so they might be overrepresented in the general sound level (although still greatly outnumbered).
- School Committee Chairman Anthony Carcieri makes his appearance to booing: stream, download
- The union sets the tone right from Mr. Carcieri's very first words (and, yes, that's me shouting "grow up" keep in mind that I'd already been subjected to a half-hour of union slogan chanting and screams): stream, download
- The teachers cheer that some of them have actually done (gasp!) extracurricular work: stream, download
- The teachers cheer that they can blame poor performance on "facilities" (nevermind that keeping up with teacher contracts has been bleeding other segments of school budgets for years): stream, download
- A moment of heckling, including the call of "Scared?": stream, download
- Just a snippet of the tone that continued, with a gradual escalation, throughout the meeting: stream, download
- The teachers find the phrase "anti-bullying" humorous: stream, download
- The teachers find the quip "outdoor voice" humorous: stream, download
- Anthony Carcieri attempts to lay down the ground rules for public comment, and local union leader Valerie Lawson speechifies: stream, download
- East Providence teacher Mary Texeira offers a reasonable statement although she probably goes off the union message a bit when she states that she wouldn't mind a five-year pay freeze if the school committee would lay out the reasons that it's necessary: stream, download
- Taxpayer Tom Riley takes the mike and faces down the hecklers inspiring the single most silent moment of the night when he suggests that younger teachers will lose their jobs if the union doesn't let the district spread the costs across their pay packages but the devolution of the meeting leads the school committee (almost inaudibly) to adjourn: stream, download
January 8, 2009
Last night on the Matt Allen show, I mentioned our coverage of the governor's speech and gave some general suggestions about the direction of Anchor Rising in the new year. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
I have to say that the governor's plan takes more ground (and concedes less) than I'd expected, giving me some hope that the state can head in a better direction without utter collapse. As I wrote in the comments to our liveblogging post, it's important, however, not to forget the basics of Rhode Island politics just because we're relatively happy with the governor's direction.
Part of the "political coverage" built into our system as it stands is coverage to do the wrong thing. The House may pass this proposal having already arranged for the Senate to make fatal changes. On something else down the road, the Senate will take a political risk, and the House will kill it. Meanwhile, the governor's new commission on consolidation (empowered to propose legislation directly) will contain a mole or two who'll scuttle advancement in the governor's name.
And as I said in response to a question about how legislators could get away with raising taxes in this environment: Wait until just after an election.
January 2, 2009
On Television, Sans Haircut
I'm a guest on this week's Newsmakers show, talking new media stuff with host Tim White, Ian Donnis, and Matt Jerzyk. The show airs on WPRI (channel 12) at 5:30 Sunday morning and Fox (channel 11) at 10:00 a.m., and you can watch it at your leisure already online (part 1 and part 2).
To put questions of style to rest, I'd like to note that, with the holiday, I didn't have a chance between notification and taping to get a haircut.
A couple of cliché busters are Matt and I.
I had an issue with each of the online parts cutting out about two-thirds of the way through and have received email letting me know that it wasn't just me. If you pause the show just after each commercial has finished and let the video download completely (the timeline bar will fill up), you should make it through to the end.
December 18, 2008
The Business of Poverty
December 13, 2008
Three Bloggers and a Talk Host
If you missed (or would like to recap) last night's allAnchor Rising Violent Roundtable on the Matt Allen Show, the download is available here. Matt, Andrew, Monique, and I discussed matters various and sundry, and I even sang a bar from the musical 1776.
December 6, 2008
Still Feeling the Violence
Anybody who missed last night's Violent Roundtable on the Matt Allen Show or who would like to listen to it again can download it here.
I'll tell you that, from the other side of the microphone, that hour just flies by. By habit, I keep out a notebook during such discussions and jot down points to which I'd like to return. Matt keeps the show moving at a pace that leaves those notes bare of check marks. I'd like to salvage two points, though:
- Marketing food stamps. It took a little of my drive-home time to articulate, but what bothers me about the idea of the government's marketing food stamps so more eligible recipients will apply is the message that it works into the culture. We've already done too much to erase the stigma of existence on the public dole. The more we do to market the "benefit" not the least by declaring it an economic stimulus for the state the more we cast it not only as something about which people shouldn't be ashamed, but as something about which they might actually be proud. "Hey, I'm helping to bring money into the state!"
- State government departments' overspending. Paul Tencher bragged that Lieutenant Governor Liz Roberts (for whom he was chief of staff) operated within her budget, in contrast to other executive departments. What that declaration elides is the fact that all of the other departments have functions actions that they are required to take and systems that they are required to perpetuate as a function of their very existence. The demands made upon them ultimately have their origin in the legislature. The lieutenant governor, in Rhode Island, is free of such burdens. Be that as it may, perhaps Tencher would agree with me that the various departments ought to have planned their activities within their budgets, rather than within the mandates that elected officials have placed upon them.
December 4, 2008
Relieving Rhode Island of Providence's Pension Burden
On last night's Matt Allen show, Monique presented her proposal that the state of Rhode Island deduct the unreasonable excess of Providence's pension system from its state aid. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
November 27, 2008
Thankful for... Bankruptcy
On last night's Matt Allen show, Don explained why bankruptcy isn't such a frightening thing and far preferable to business restructuring as performed by congressional Democrats. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
November 26, 2008
Not the Way to Arrive at a Salary
By far the most interesting audio from last night's Tiverton School Committee meeting, in my opinion, was Vice Chairwoman Sally Black's reasoning for voting to approve the teachers' contract (stream, download) because the thought processes are indicative of the flawed way in which Rhode Islanders have conducted their public business.
Mrs. Black cycled through a bit of education policy history to conclude that the state and federal governments have not followed through with promised funding for decades, even as they've demanded more and more from local schools. From her perspective, the school committee did the work that they were supposed to do, and moreover, she was very pleased with her children's experience in the school system and believes the teachers deserve as much compensation as the town can give them. Therefore, the contract is "fair and just" and ought to pass.
The problem with this approach is that it disconnects financial decisions from financial realities. We cannot come up with a notion of fairness and justice based on abstractions or on emotions and then make that the primary consideration. The primary consideration has to be the money that's actually coming in.
Especially from the perspective of elected representatives unless they were elected of the unions, by the unions, and for the unions the first question has to be what is good and what is sustainable for the town. Double-digit tax increases are not sustainable. The next question has to be what is good for the students, and as I've pointed out, based on Department of Education data, Tiverton already pays more per pupil for teachers than the state average, and its student-teacher ratio is only slightly lower than the state's overall. In other words, based on the money that the district actually has, it is already more generous to the teachers than the norm for Rhode Island, which is more generous than the norm for the nation.
Rhode Island has, for far too long, begun with the pay and benefits that "should be deserved" and only as an afterthought wondered where the money would come from and what the effects would be of taking it. Our teachers, specifically, are paid above the national average, even as our median household income is below the national average. We have to readjust, and we have to do so quickly.
Before I ask Doug a question, I just need to make it clear that, if the award is not agreed upon tonight, there will be a lot of harm done. Some of it will be financial; a lot of it will not be, and I'm not going to go into detail.
November 25, 2008
The Sinking Ship
November 20, 2008
The Straight Ticket Conversation
Out of the Hole
I'm a little delayed in posting it, but during last week's Anchor Rising spot on the Matt Allen Show, Andrew explained just how daunting is the problem of bringing the Rhode Island government within its budget. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
November 12, 2008
An Ear on the "Controlled Environment," or Why Regular Townsfolk Don't Participate
Now that I've discovered that I already had the technology to record audio at these events, I'll be able to let Anchor Rising readers better appreciate the experience of sitting in an auditorium surrounded by people with a financial interest in the proceedings. (I apologize for the sound of me typing; I'll get better at this.)
I would just ask, for all of us that are in the system, that you do consider to move past it approve it like you did the other two [the facilities and administrators contracts]. And let's start working on the new one, and give ourselves a little bit of room to refocus on the classroom and away from the adults.
I submit that Ms. Pallasch's admission that teachers are incapable of keeping their professional focus on the classroom while negotiating employment contracts is ample evidence that teacher unionization has got to end.
My equipment didn't fully pick up the low rumble of the teachers' reaction, but you can get the sense of what any citizen speaking against their demands would face. Note what happened next: Quite naturally, Tom turned around to address those who were attacking him from behind, and School Committee Chairman Jan Bergandy chastised him.
Overall, what struck me as a construction worker who knows people who are being laid off, as well as some who are being asked to take actual reductions in pay and benefits was the utter greed of the unionists. The town is raising taxes well past the state cap and, more importantly, well past what struggling families can afford, and people who are already compensated above the median Rhode Island household are acting as if tighter boundaries on their increases in pay are oppressive.
Their argument is that "the money is there" for such things as retroactive pay back to 2007, so that they can receive raises for their year of working to rule (which, a resident informed me after the meeting, did indeed cost students such things as teacher recommendations for college). The school committee should rephrase that to "money is there." There's no "the"; until the contract is approved, the teachers have no more claim to that money than, say, the students who still attend debilitated classrooms and have ever-more-limited opportunities as funds dry up. (Or even, perhaps, the parents who are so concerned about the effects of this environment on their children that they're struggling even more to pay for private school.)
November 7, 2008
The Sounds of Victory, Part 1
As a supplement to our liveblogging of election night, I thought I might as well release significant audio from my evening at the RI Democrats' Providence Biltmore. Here's the first batch:
As I've cropped the long audio files down to the individual speeches, it's been interesting to compare the graph lines of the recordings. Kennedy had brief spurts with an applause line every minute almost exactly. Whitehouse, well, you can guess how that one looked.
For part 2, I've got Langevin, Reed, Patrich Lynch, and whatever else I may have captured along the way.
November 6, 2008
A New Hat Called Optimism
It's been a strange twist believe me that's made of me an optimist, but such was the tenor of my somewhat tranquil conversation with Matt Allen, last night, in which we touched on Obama, conservatism, and local politics, à la Tiverton Citizens for Change. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
November 3, 2008
A Pre-Election History Lesson
A concerned citizen of Rhode Island sends along this brief video history of the Democrats' success in our state.
October 30, 2008
In It 'Til the End
After confessing to being such a political junkie that she maintains interest right up to the last moment, last night on the Matt Allen Show, Monique summarized some of the posts hereon. She noted a little bit of a shift from national to local matters in our posts; perhaps we're subconsciously shifting around to avoid fatigue! Stream by clicking here, or download it.
October 29, 2008
Monique: Radio Star!
Monique will be calling in for Anchor Rising's regular pre-7:00 spot, tonight, on the Matt Allen Show, and she also took a few minutes to discuss Barney Frank with John DePetro on Monday morning. Stream the latter by clicking here, or download it.
October 23, 2008
Hard and Soft News: A Difference of Candidate
October 17, 2008
Granted, they devoted some time to debate talk, but it says something encouraging that Andrew and Matt Allen actually pushed past the time slot on Wednesday to further discuss healthcare. I, for one, would have liked a whole hour of that conversation. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
September 25, 2008
Of Economics, Leadership, and Debate
I took the Anchor Rising Slot with with Matt Allen on 630AM/99.7FM WPRO last night to talk about John McCain's return to work, this week, and Barack Obama's pledge to debate. Stream by clicking here, or download it.
September 18, 2008
Economics and Taxes
The audio links weren't working when I first posted this in the a.m. They're fixed.
September 11, 2008
September 4, 2008
VP Talk on the Radio
September 3, 2008
Catching Up with Matt Allen
I've been delayed in posting Monique's appearance on Matt Allen's show, last week, during which she and Matt discussed the boringness of political conventions, the smackdown of the Cranston School Committee's Caruolo lawsuit, and the intersection of religion and immigration: Stream by clicking here, or download it.
Tune in to Matt Allen on 630AM/99.7FM tonight around 7:50 p.m. to hear Don Hawthorne live.
August 21, 2008
Thoughts on Energy
August 14, 2008
Last Night's Performance
The streaming link wasn't working all day, so having fixed it, I've moved the post back up to the top of the blog. Sorry for the muddleheadedness.
Listen as I stun Matt Allen with my confession that I voted for Sheldon Whitehouse, explain our Engaged Citizen, and summarize Bill Felkner's post using that feature all with the halt-sprint rhythm of one who's spent years typing his thoughts more often than speaking them. Stream by clicking here or download it.
August 8, 2008
July 27, 2008
Friday Night on Sunday
I've been remiss in not noting that readers who missed Andrew's appearance on Matt Allen's Violent Round Table can download the hour here.
July 17, 2008
Having Energy for Capitalism
Monique took the mic with Matt Allen, last night, to talk about our congressional delegation and its difficulty applying economic principles consistently when it comes to oil (segment streamable by clicking here, or download).
July 12, 2008
RIP, Tony Snow
Tony Snow died today, at age 53, of cancer. We remember his family in our prayers as we pay tribute to the memory of a wonderful man.
Finally, Snow wrote a poignant and powerful article last year entitled Cancer's Unexpected Blessings: When you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change where he discussed his cancer:
Blessings arrive in unexpected packages—in my case, cancer.
Those of us with potentially fatal diseases—and there are millions in America today—find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.
The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.
I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
But despite this—because of it—God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life—and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts—an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live—fully, richly, exuberantly—no matter how their days may be numbered.
Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don't. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.
'You Have Been Called'
Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. "It's cancer," the healer announces.
The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. "Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler." But another voice whispers: "You have been called." Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter—and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our "normal time."...
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.
There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue—for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.
Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.
We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us—that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us partway there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two people's worries and fears.
Learning How to Live
Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love...
[Snow's best friend, dying of cancer several years ago] gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity—filled with life and love we cannot comprehend—and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.
Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it.
It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up—to speak of us!
This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place—in the hollow of God's hand.
RIP, Tony Snow.
...I’ll remember Tony Snow more for his character than his career. I’ll especially remember the calm courage and cheerful optimism he displayed in his last three years, in the face of his fatal illness.
For quite a while now, optimism has had a bad reputation in intellectual circles. The fashionable books of my youth — and they are good books — were darkly foreboding ones like Aldous Huxley’s "Brave New World" and George Orwell’s "1984." Young conservatives of the era were much taken by Whittaker Chambers’s gloomy memoir, "Witness." We who read Albert Camus — and if you had any pretensions to being a non-Marxist intellectual, you read Camus — loved the melancholy close of his essay "The Myth of Sisyphus": "One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
The basic attitude one derived from these works was that pessimism is deeper than optimism, and existential angst more profound than cheerful confidence. This attitude remains powerful, perhaps dominant, among many thoughtful people today — perhaps especially among conservatives, reacting against a facile liberal belief in progress.
Tony Snow was a conservative. But he didn’t have a prejudice in favor of melancholy. His deep Christian faith combined with his natural exuberance to give him an upbeat world view. Watching him, and so admiring his remarkable strength of character in the last phase of his life, I came to wonder: Could it be that a stance of faith-grounded optimism is in fact superior to one of worldly pessimism or sophisticated fatalism?
Tony was one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet — kind, helpful and cheerful. But underlying these seemingly natural qualities was a kind of choice: the choice of gratitude. Tony thought we should be grateful for what life has given us, not bitter or anxious about what it hasn’t.
So he once wrote that "If you think Independence Day is America’s defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands-down." He believed that gratitude, not self-assertion, was the fundamental human truth, and that a recognition of this was one of the things that made America great...
...Tony was a fascinating type. He was, literally, the opposite of a paranoid. He was a “pro-noid.” He assumed people liked him. It is a rare quality for any person. It is almost unheard-of in Washington. Tony lived a wonderful life in large measure because he believed the universe was on his side, and it was. Until it wasn’t...
...From the start I could see that Tony was blessed not just with brains and great looks — he had a far rarer virtue: God gave him the most superior temperament I've ever seen in a man of his prominence. Unfailingly gracious, sweet, and genuine, he was always a pleasure to be around. We kept in touch over the years and when he was hit by cancer, the entire world saw that what had at first seemed like just niceness was something far more, something approaching greatness. Constantly dismissive of his woes and worries, steadfast in his faith in a loving God, he bore his affliction with a most surpassing grace...
...He had a uniquely jovial demeanor; he got along with people of all political persuasions; he treated everyone with respect; he was deeply knowledgeable in all matters with which he would deal and a quick study as to the limited others; he was a fierce advocate for positions he believed in -- and most of those aligned nicely with this administration's; and his verbal agility was unparalleled. Even in fierce debate, he was always of good cheer.
But in my opinion, Tony's greatest attributes were his genuineness and authenticity, his impeccable character, his abundant decency as a human being, his likability, his work ethic and, most of all, his profoundly held life priorities, beginning with his paramount and unshakable commitments to God and family.
Many have already spoken of Tony's consuming love for his wife and children and his passion for God. I am but another firsthand witness to his "walking the walk" and, like so many others, greatly admired him for it.
People tend to say very nice things about people who pass away -- and that is as it should be; it's the right thing to do. But be assured in Tony's case, all the eulogies you are hearing about and reading are heartfelt and utterly without reservation. Tony was the real article -- he and the life he led were examples to which we should all aspire...
...He was an amazing man who gave the impression he had all the time in the world for everyone he met. Which, of course, was the one thing he didn't have...
...the quality that most struck me then about Tony, whom I hadn’t met before, was not his energy and enthusiasm (which were wonderful—"a breath of fresh air" is quite right) but his deep and intensely cheerful curiosity.
In his first week in the job [as White House press secretary], I made the mistake of sending Tony a half page of “talking points” about an issue I was charged with that was likely to come up that day. This was how his predecessor had preferred to get information from the policy staff. I quickly got a call from Snow saying that was all very nice, but why don’t we talk in some detail instead about what had happened, the background, the people involved, the history, the parts reporters may not know about that ought to shape our response...it was also one of the most peculiar telephone conversations I’ve ever had. We didn’t know each other when he called, and by the end of that fifteen or twenty minute conversation, he not only knew all about the issue in question, he knew all about me, my family, and my life, and I knew more about him than I do about some people I’ve known for years. Needless to say, in that afternoon’s briefing, when the subject did come up, Tony batted the question out of the park, putting things much better than I had on the phone.
...it became clear that he wanted to learn everything he could not only so that he could speak with some depth and authority to the press...but also because he himself was moved by a love of the little details and the big stories. This was an important part of his infectious enthusiasm. His love of life and his amazement at our country had to do with an appreciation for how the little pieces added up, and what extraordinary things happen here every day. His deep reserve of principle, love, and faith was never far from the surface, and he drew on it easily and often, even as the surface was always bubbling with excitement, confidence, and optimism...
Live life until you can no longer. "Every moment's a blessing." Tony's moments with us are up, but don't let that be the takeaway from his life, that he died; we all die. Focus on how we can live — as you can see, it can make people take notice, and that's a good thing when it's for the right reasons.
July 11, 2008
'Round the Table at Your Convenience
July 10, 2008
I took the call last night to Matt Allen to talk about the RI governance philosophy on display at the Tiverton School Committee meeting this week (segment streamable by clicking here, or download). I'm not sure whether it's a good thing or reason for concern, but I think I'm starting to get the feel of Rhode Island politics.
July 3, 2008
June 26, 2008
Recorded Without a Warrant
Andrew was recorded last night on the Matt Allen Show without anybody's having secured a warrant, as far as I know (segment streamable by clicking here, or download). The topic was the FISA compromise that he's been addressing 'round here.
June 19, 2008
Holding Our Breath on the Budget
Perhaps the feeling isn't as common as I implied last night on the Matt Allen Show (segment streamable by clicking here, or download), but I can't shake a feeling of creepy serenity around the budget battle. Thus far, the legislature hasn't changed anything dramatic from the governor's proposal that would fire us up on the right, yet there hasn't been the primal scream of pain that an adequate budget would elicit from the other side.
It's as if everybody sees the budget as Good Enough for their provisional purposes. For taxpayers, it's good enough to refrain from spitting in a turning tide. On the left, labor, and special interest side, it's good enough to hold the grip until the next battle. What's disconcerting for the former group is the degree to which everybody plainly know that the "balanced budget" is a construction of numbers games. Even House Finance Committee Chairman Steven Costantino is already preparing the electorate for a future budget that will take care of some of the "slippage" from this one.
Look also to NEARI Executive Director Bob Walsh and his proposal to start giving the state pension system partial ownership of the lottery. His suggestion comes suspiciously late in the game to have an effect on this budget, and in the comments to my recent post on the topic, he made it clear that he's happy to wait until the November reevaluation after elections are done and the political hangover is in full throb.
I wonder how much such schemes are built right into the entire budget. How many numbers aren't going to match expectations but will require the really controversial steps to be taken down the road probably against taxpayers' interests.
June 5, 2008
Letting It Out On Air
Hear Marc's scream of frustration last night on the Matt Allen show, streamed by clicking here (or download). Really, what can be said about a handful of citizens requesting that their and our taxes to be raised?
May 30, 2008
Slightly More Violent
All of you who (for whatever inexplicable reason) found yourselves at the movie theater watching Sex and the City, tonight, can listen to Matt Allen's Violent Roundtable featuring Rep. John Loughlin, Senator Leonidas Raptakis, and me here. Two notes from the scene:
1. Sen. Raptakis didn't answer my question about from where the money is supposed to come to pay for increased minimum wages. It doesn't just materialize.
2. Listening to the off-the-air conversation, I'm concerned that legislators aren't constantly taking every opportunity to shout about the things that they see. Yeah, politics is politics, but it's no longer enough to complain about the way things are done when the mics are off. All other business ought to come after exposing the grit and grime of Rhode Island government.
May 29, 2008
Meeting on Matt Allen
Monique's conversation with Matt Allen last night can be streamed by clicking here (or download). They mainly discussed financial town meetings, and Monique teased a very interesting post on state-level nepotism.
May 22, 2008
People on Matt Allen's Show
Andrew brought together a couple of threads addressing economics, environment, and population growth for yesterday's segment on the Matt Allen Show. The conversation can be streamed by clicking here (or download).
Next Wednesday at 6:50 p.m., Marc will have his at bat..
May 15, 2008
Anchor on the Air
As those who listened already know, Don switched with Andrew for this Wednesday's segment on the Matt Allen show. His commentary related to his post on Rhode Island's failure to address its current crisis can be streamed by clicking here (or download).
Next Wednesday at 6:50 p.m., Andrew will have his moment in the spotlight.
May 9, 2008
Time Flying, Apology, and Preemptive Explanation
My hour in the the spotlight of Matt Allen's Violent Roundtable tonight was one of the most fun that I've spent in awhile, although I suppose one can only hope that listeners were that engaged. (Streaming audio available here). Really, conversation from commercial break to commercial break felt not unlike a seaplane touching down on the water for a few moments at a time. As the one non-radio guy there, however, I fear that I should take some responsibility in the face of complaints that this edition wasn't sufficiently "violent."
In keeping with my mitigated personality, I'd like to offer a preemptive explanation of something that I said: While discussing gambling in Rhode Island, I joked that the government ought to begin supplementing decreases in the public assistance that people receive with lottery tickets. (Hey, match it dollar for dollar!) Before RI Futurites get out their fire-dance costumes and add this clump of hair to the effigy of my evil opinions, I'd like to clarify that I wasn't promoting a system of giving people in precarious situations an unsecured rope to grab. To the contrary, my intention was to lampoon the practice of using gambling revenue to support the government. Statistically, it's a very regressive form of taxation, and further soaking the poor and working class into further debt with the dubious promise of unlikely riches is tantamount to giving them a turn at the roulette wheel in exchange for money or public investments that might actually improve their lives.
But I could go on. Such roundtables are like rapid-fire brainstorming sessions for more contemplative writing, and the breadth of the topics are evidenced by the conversation that continues during the commercial breaks. For example:
- How the storyline will go if Obama wins the nomination but loses the election. My thought was that there's plenty of time for the American people to forget the primaries and for Democrats to construct the much more comfortable storyline that it was the angry old white man who kept Barack down not the storied woman. Matt, I believe, took the position that the next few years will see Hillary building on that impulse with a ready-made retrospective "if only" of her candidacy. Jason Martins seemed to believe that Hillary's done after this.
- I got looks from the other panelists when I responded to a caller's question about Israel taking out Iranian nukes by suggesting that the Jewish nation would swing in with a last-ditch strike, that the world would be outraged for a day, but then everybody would go back to business as usual, knowing deep down that Israel had done not only what it needed to do to survive, but the right thing. Everybody else thought the radical Muslims wouldn't possibly tolerate Israeli military strikes inside Iran. My response was that these regimes are centrally concerned with maintaining their own fragile rule and realize that they cannot win an all-stakes battle with the United States and Israel. I'd add, now, that there isn't much amperage that they can add to their anti-Israel hate rhetoric.
- Although we didn't get into it, the whole concept of the state's profiting from gambling is excellent fodder for some ruminations about church and state to wit, that the state is committing us, via our representatives, to be in the position of profiting from others' misfortunes to so direct a degree that we're expanding the hours during which those people can lose their hard-earned money with the explicit intention of raising more to support our detrimentally large government. A theist might be tempted to suggest that thus do we pull ourselves further into darkness.
- I was going to say that the comic book conversation should have come first, as a warm up, but then again, it did: before we were even on the air, we were discussing the likely plot setting of a forthcoming Captain America movie. I swore I'd read somewhere that rumors are of a Captain America who's part of a U.N. mission of some sort (which was the missing context behind Jason's on-air comment about Captain United Nations), but I can't find the article that gave me that impression.
The audio quality of the above-linked stream has been increased to a more comfortable level.
May 8, 2008
In Case You Missed It
We'll be doing this every Wednesday; tune in at 6:50 p.m. next week for Andrew's at bat.
In the interim, by the way, I'll be participating in Matt's Violent Roundtable discussion this Friday night from eight to nine. (He clarifies the meaning of the name in the comment section of this post.) I heard it last week, and it's sure to be a must-listen hour of radio to cap each workweek.
July 16, 2007
Eight Intense Minutes
Buffalo versus lion versus crocodile. Umm. Would one describe the results as "a herd, not a pack"?
November 13, 2004
Too Late for Early Housing
While we're in the midst of our first weekend content lull, it seems as good a time as any to republish a vlog post of mine from January 2003 (mostly so it'll be in the archives here). In the surrounding weeks, I made a few short blog-like videos, but the time it took to make them became too costly for the payoff in viewers. It is, however, something that I'd love to take up again if the fruits of blogging begin to cover the expense in hours.
This time around, the vlog goes on the road... literally. (And the vlogger realizes that, if he's going to make these things on a regular basis, he's going to have to begin getting his hair cut more than once a season like he did when he was single and didn't work at home.) I've used some new tricks, so please feel at liberty to let me know what you thought and to offer suggestions.
Click the picture for the interactive RealMedia version that makes my head look wide (for which you'll need the free RealOne player available on the right side of this page). Click here for the plain ol' high-bandwidth, thin-headed Windows Media file, and here for the low-bandwidth Windows Media file.
I don't know if this holds true for others at the tail end of Generation X, but it seems as if I've frequently been just a bit too late or a bit too early. And I mean more than being born just in time to model plaid bellbottoms for the family photo album.
In grade school, renovations were just beginning while traditional activities were being canceled. In high school, dances and proms had become shadows of the glory days pictured in teenybopper movies. The University of Rhode Island, when I attended, was in the process of shedding its party-school image but had barely begun its efforts to improve its academic reputation.
Out in the "real world," the economic boom began to contract just as I entered the job market, and the teacher shortage that promised to land my wife a job has yet to materialize. Now, we're beginning to look into buying a house just as rising property taxes are forcing residents of our income level to sell, while the healthy real estate market has kept the prices out of our reach.
Mackey Ervin of Midland, Texas, recently made news by trying to sell a $100,000, four-bedroom house once inhabited by the Presidents Bush on eBay for $250,000. Within the past few years, real estate in my neighborhood has jumped that much even for cramped homes with no presidential history: $200,000... $269,000... $325,000... $449,000.
And I live on the less-expensive side of town. I don't even want to know how much these houses go for. Back in New Jersey, we used to call such areas "yuppie developments." They always remind me of the firstPoltergeist movie.
But that's midtown. The jaw-droppers are in Congressman Patrick Kennedy's neighborhood. Combining prices in the multiple millions for these houses and the fact that I can't even afford to live on the "wrong" side of the tracks, a natural impulse is to cry foul. Somebody of Kennedy's ideology might feel the need to "do something" about it.
Maybe it's a result of conditioning, but I can accept that this is just the way it goes. The rich have a right to raise the level of the municipality. Personally, I'd prefer to see property taxes arranged in such a way that locals wouldn't be thanked for helping to build the community by being forced to leave town. But that wouldn't help me; I came too late to grab a plot of land back when prices were in the five digits.
People in my position will have to do what we've always had to do: forge on. We can rent sheds with plumbing and enjoy the waterfront... only below the mean high-tide line. Or maybe we should move across the river, where the land is more reasonable, and build communities there, perhaps one day to sell our houses for many times our investment.
The world changes, often cyclically. Just as nature reclaims abandoned land, perhaps this town will once again be accessible to new families and regular folk. Change always brings as well as takes, so maybe you're never too late. As for being chronically early, the remedy is as simple as having patience.
November 8, 2004
Out with the Old, in with the New
I'd been considering republishing a June entry from my own blog here, mostly so that it would be in the archives for future reference, and Marc's latest post makes the topic more relevant. It's my "coverage" (including video) of the RIGOP convention. Even if the reality of last week's election has thrust the GOP revolution back into political context, I'm still hopeful that some retooling within the state's Republican party gives indication that things can and will change.
The format of the post is an experiment that I hope to pursue more regularly in the future (assuming I manage to maintain the time without going into bankruptcy or having to sell my video camera). I'll admit that this initial "v-blog" isn't very good. It took a good 10 minutes of listening to the protesters outside for me to realize, "Hey, this is what I carry around this video camera for." Furthermore, not having any defined purpose for filming, I didn't brave the sidewalk in their midst and I didn't give much thought to positioning, camera steadiness, and the like. Since I'd previously been remiss in my following of RI politics, I also didn't react quickly enough to catch most of the significant moments. Although, I did catch the defining moment: Mayor Laffey declaring "out with the old, in with the new."
As I suggested in the context of Edward Achorn's belief that Rhode Islanders' displeasure will, at some point, break through their political apathy, the motion might already be forming within the state's GOP. Voters need someone else for whom to vote, after all, before they can overthrow inadequate leadership.
For that reason, it is only more fitting that remembrance of Ronald Reagan permeated the RIGOP convention on Thursday from Chairwoman Patricia Morgan's misspoken request for "ayes" from all who wished to endorse President Reagan's bid for a second term to Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey's likening of his view of the RIGOP's prospects to Reagan's optimism about the fall of the Soviet Union. (Both of which seem laughably improbable as predictions.)
For some idea of just how mired this state is in its political system, consider that I had no idea that the speeches related to internal controversy were of any more significance than what might be found in a high school student senate until the highest high point of the evening. Even then, I didn't get a sense of the magnitude of the shift until I read Scott MacKay's explanation in the Providence Journal.
Video: Scott MacKay (3sec). Windows Media
According to MacKay:
In what some Republicans saw as his first foray into making a run for statewide office, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey spearheaded a move at the Republican State Convention last night to depose Michael Traficante, the former Cranston mayor and longtime Republican stalwart, from a top party post.
Traficante was set to run for reelection as national committeeman, a position that carries an automatic seat to the Republican National Convention, when people close to Laffey at City Hall discovered that Traficante had disaffiliated from the Republican Party.
Mayor Laffey has raised eyebrows across the state by cracking down on precisely the sort of degeneration in his town that infects the entire state and much of the country taking on everything from "political patronage" crossing guards and gas pump inspectors to ACLU attacks on Christmas displays. Not surprisingly, the mayor the only key figure who, despite being the most bustling politician in the room, offered a lurking blogger so much as a quick "hello" with his somewhat wild eyes and candid language, looks to be the focal point for the incipient revolution. From MacKay:
"Out with the old, in with the new," said Laffey in a campaign speech supporting Robert Manning, a 51-year-old retired banker from Charlestown, who was installed in Traficante's place.
Video: Stephen Laffey (28.6sec). Windows Media
A former head of Citigroup Japan, Manning reminded the crowd that the Rhode Island Republicans are the 15 in the 85/15 split and for a reason. Now the beneficiary of an upstart movement, he enters the scene as a representative of change.
Another such representative is Dave Rogers, who is running a second time against Patrick Kennedy for my district's seat in the U.S. Congress. As I believe is appropriate for a national candidate, Rogers's persona is less incendiary, and in his speech, he made a point of his intention not to settle into a political position (approximately): "Patrick Kennedy says he's never worked a day in his life. This won't be my first job, and it won't be my last."
I've implied before that Rogers is running against images and stereotypes that Rhode Islanders' believe about themselves and about conservatives. So, it is fitting that he's more approachable and less forward than Laffey and is inclined to make self-effacing jokes about the arrogance of having had to nominate himself the first time he ran. (This is by no means the best part of his speech, but for the below-mentioned reasons, I didn't film the rest.)
Video: Dave Rogers (18.5sec). Windows Media
All considered, and admitting that I am a political naif, I couldn't help but see, in the burgeoning movement within the RIGOP, reason for more hope for my state than I've yet been able to muster. I also couldn't help but notice the irony of different groups' relative roles. While, inside the Cranston Knights of Columbus building, a quiet revolution was beginning, with the intention of returning a balanced political system and sensible government to Rhode Island, outside, the activists marching on the street, drawing honks from passing cars, were protesting for bigger government and expanded benefits for a limited few.
Video: Protesters (30.1sec). Windows Media
As MacKay touches on, the marchers were private child-care providers who are trying to be defined as public employees in order to gain some of the benefits that come with that status in this state. In Spanish and English they exploited children and chanted ill-fitting clichés; "No justice, no peace" translated into the circumstances meant "no free healthcare, no peace."
If the rumble within the political party that is euphemistically called the "minority" in the state of Rhode Island continues to grow, perhaps we'll end up with justice, peace, and prosperity to boot.