— BlogWorld —

December 4, 2012

Over at OSC, Liveblogging the Second Toll Hearing

Monique Chartier

Over at Ocean State Current, Justin is liveblogging a second, packed DOT hearing on the proposed toll on the new Sakonnet River Bridge. Feel free to drop over and comment, boo, throw popcorn (...at the proposal), etc.

September 26, 2012

Things We Read Today (19), Tuesday

Justin Katz

Believing the political worst of priests; spinning bad SAT results; the skill of being trainable; the strange market valuation in Unionland.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

June 8, 2012

First Annual Breitbart Awards to be Held Right Here in Little Rhody

Monique Chartier

... tonight! Thanks to the Providence Journal for the heads-up.

Two conservative organizations will present their first Breitbart Awards on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Providence Marriott, timed to "collide" with the Netroots Nation 2012 convention at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

The awards honor controversial journalist Andrew Breitbart, revered by conservatives and derided by liberals, who died in March. He was 43.

The Heritage Foundation and Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity cite Breitbart's "monumental journalistic achievements."

That's right, timing of the two day "Future of Journalism" summit vis a vis That Other Conference is strictly

"... no coincidence, said Franklin Center spokesman Erick Telford. "In no way are we taking them [Netroots] on or trying to compete with them head-on. It's more just serving as a leverage point for contrast."

Announcement of the summit here. The rumor that Ocean State Current's Justin Katz will address the summit on Saturday has been confirmed. Presumably, however, unlike That Other Conference, the "Future of Journalism" summit will not harbor a senate candidate who has made an undocumented - and, even if proven, remarkably lame - claim of one thirty second Native American heritage.

April 30, 2012

The Ocean State Tea Party In Action Blog (Better Prepared for the Unexpected than Other Bill-Watching Bloggers You May be Aware Of)

Carroll Andrew Morse

The RI General Assembly website was down this weekend, so I wasn't able to do my weekly review of the legislation coming up in committees. (There was a similar occurrence, at least one time last year).

However, as fate would have it, this is also the week that the Ocean State Tea Party in Action's (OSTPA) blog went live. The OSTPA blog includes daily legislative alerts on the bills scheduled for hearings that OSTPA is tracking. (I've been consulting with OSTPA on the setting up and maintaining of the blog portion of their website, and will be a contributor to their blog; more to come on that later in the week). Since a major part of OSTPA's activity is staying current with GA activity, so as to be prepared to offer RI legislators different perspectives on bills before them than they might otherwise hear, OSTPA wasn't caught as flat-footed as I was by the unexpected technical difficulties.

Tuesday looks to be a very busy day in committee, the large number of bills on OSTPA's watch list that are being heard can be viewed here. Also, OSTPA's complete legislative alert for this week (including some interesting observations about what happened on Smith Hill last week) can be viewed here, at their main website.

I will provide my rundown of bills (which will continue to be a separate effort from OSTPA's fine work, in case anyone was wondering) after the GA website returns.

April 7, 2012

Derb Cut Loose on a Saturday

Justin Katz

So, National Review has let John Derbyshire go:

His latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible. We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways. Derb has long danced around the line on these issues, but this column is so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation.

Longtime readers of the National Review corner of the commentary world will note the genre in which Derb is writing. He's long relished the reaction that being politically incorrect to the verge of retrograde elicits. Whatever his private views might be, one suspects that his biases are insignificant in the shadow of his enjoyment of mischief.

What gives this recent episode such an air of sad error is that the piece, while clearly indefensible, reads like tone-deaf parody. Derbyshire recently acknowledged a dire reason that he's been off his game, lately:

The fact is, I have been under the influence of bendamustine. (Trade name Treanda; though that always looks to me like something I'd see on the name tag of a check-out girl at the local discount store. "That'll be $14.95." "Here you go." "Thank you, Sir. Have a nice day." "You too, Treanda.")

The nature of the influence is that my IQ seems to have dropped about 20 points, and my life processes have slowed to a crawl. Was there really a time when I simultaneously plotted and wrote books, conducted major home repairs, kept up a busy journalistic schedule, paid attention to my wife and kids, and took frequent breaks for travel? It seems incredible. This last few weeks, by the time I've roused myself from bed, got through necessary ablutions, checked my e-mail, and eaten a boiled egg, it's 10:30 p.m. and time to go back to bed.

Bendamustine, as Derb provides a link to explain, is a heavy-duty drug for treating cancer.

I don't see that National Review had any option but to disassociate itself from such an essay and its author. About the best one can hope — and it's far short of a defense to say it — is that Derbyshire's judgment has been so impaired that he didn't realize that he'd marched so far beyond the line as to enter a whole different realm from the merely controversial. Even had the piece found no greater audience than whatever the obscure Web site that published it can claim, Derbyshire's primary literary home would likely have found itself coming to the same conclusion.

It's a shame, though... first, that no editor protected John Derbyshire from himself and, second, that politics had to be politics, with the calls for his head seeming completely unmitigated by any acknowledgment of his circumstances.

September 6, 2011

Walter Russell Mead on the Collapse of Rhode Island

Carroll Andrew Morse

Walter Russell Mead of The American Interest offers an outsider's no-holds-barred view of Rhode Island's current fiscal condition. A few of the more evocative passages are excerpted below...

[T]he state could never afford the beautiful utopia it was crafting, and so politicians and union leaders chose the path of systemic deceit. Taxpayers weren’t told what the bill for the system would be; public service workers weren’t told that the pension guarantees they’d been sold were worthless because taxpayers would not and could not foot the bill.

An economic crisis is nature’s revenge on those who make and those who accept false promises; it is a holocaust of lies when the dross is burned away and only what is real and true remains. Think of cotton candy melting and charring in the flame of a blowtorch; that is what is happening to the secure retirements that “caring” blue politicians and “committed” blue union leaders promised gullible state workers...

As far as I can tell the union leaders and politicians who concocted this disaster between them have no plans to suffer any cuts in their own pay or pension plans — and intend to go on “serving the public” without any accountability at all.

...and Professor Mead offers an implicit question at the end of this next section that Rhode Islanders may have a thought or two on...
Nationally, state and local government face something like $3 trillion in accumulated lies and deceit; tiny Rhode Island has the highest per capita amount of systemic dishonesty on its books — I don’t know if the Ocean State is unusually rich in both knaves and fools or if some other factor is at work.
For readers interested in what Prof. Mead means by references to “'caring' blue politicians", "'committed' blue union leaders", and a "blue paradise built on lies", his concept of the blue social model is explained here.

June 21, 2011

Rhode Island is the Place Small Enough for Netroots Nation?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Professor William Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection blog has compiled several mainstream media sources saying that Netroots Nation has selected Providence as the site of its 2012 convention of progressive activists and new media participants, because the small size of the Providence convention market will prevent the annual RightOnline convention from being held simultaneously nearby. For several years now, RightOnline has scheduled its convention in the same city, at the same time as Netroots Nation.

If I may inject a randomly local suggestion, if the organizers of RightOnline are searching for a venue for their 2012 annual convention, one place they may want to look is the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, RI. The Crowne Plaza advertises meeting facilities able to hold up to 2,000 people, is a traditional gathering place for Rhode Island Republicans on election evenings, and has hosted a number of events put on by the Rhode Island chapter of the Republican Assembly. The Crowne Plaza is also about 10 minutes by car away from downtown Providence, and there's plenty of cheap parking at the Providence Place Mall, near the Convention Center, for RightOnline conventioners who might want to visit Rhode Island's captiol city for whatever reason...

April 27, 2011

Prudence with Politician's Personal Lives

Marc Comtois

So the muckrakers over at RIF were all upset--even calling us hypocrites! (oh no, I'm stung)--because we didn't jump on the Watson DUI story. They cited one example, which, as Justin noted, was a brief mention used as a comparison point for the truly egregious aspects of said pol: his political agenda. It was not a lone-standing open forum on a Democrat politician getting nabbed. And RI Future never mentioned it either (go ahead, search for yourself). But they were ready to jump on Rep. Watson, weren't they? Hm. Hint: think "(" then "R" then ")".

Nonetheless, several RIFuturites attempted a threadjack, which some justified because they thought it grounds for discussion based on how it affected the political future of the minority leader and his agenda. By then, Andrew had up his post on Rep. Watson's legislative history regarding medical marijuana. The "need" had been met.

The point is that we simply don't make it a regular practice to get into the private life shenanigans of our politicians just for the sake of it. Really. Now, I won't claim universal abstinence on our--or my--part (methinks references to Patrick Kennedy may include some allusions, for instance), but generally we try to focus on issues and wonkdom. When the "incidents" may affect policy then, yes (as commenter JParis suggested) perhaps it is time to talk about it. So we did.

Just not in a speedy, "progressive" fashion.

March 9, 2011

RE: Budget Thoughts

Marc Comtois

To fall into a political trap, as Justin suggests I have done, one would first have to take the bait. To stretch the metaphor further, I didn't take the Governor's budget bait--much less get caught in a trap--so much as look at the bait (tax "cuts") and offer a few observations. If anything, maybe I'm guilty of assuming the trap was self-evident (even though I pointed out some of its mechanisms--tax/fee increases, tolls). OK, enough of the metaphor-stretching.

I know what Justin was getting at when he wrote "It is insufficient to go through a budget proposals as if it were itemized lists of distinct suggestions." We agree, I think, that the general thrust of a budget proposal is more important than the sum of its parts in how it tips the hand of a Governor. But, questions of relative importance aside, my post was about "some of those parts" (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk), no more, no less. I didn't call it "A Comprehensive Budget Review" or "Chafee's Budget: A Holistic Conservative Response" or even "On Linc: The Hem-Hawed, un-TelePrompTered Propositions of a Horse-shoeing, Silver-Spoon Sucking Scion". I called it "Budget Thoughts" and offered a few.

I think what we've got here is a difference in style, not substance. So put down your velvet hammer Mr. Carpenter Man ("temperamentally conservative"...I see what you did there...soften me up then "thwack"..."fair-minded" ie; give the Guv a pass..."thwack thwack") I agree that, taken as whole, this budget is a mess with way too much reliance on vague promises of "things to come." Finally: we're due for a beer, aren't we?

March 4, 2011

UPDATE: RI Future Back On Line

Marc Comtois

It appears as if Brian Hull has maneuvered through the interwebs chaos and got RI Future back on line and functional (it was up earlier, but the links weren't working). An A+ for perseverance to Brian and here's guessing you'll be moving from the "Not" column soon.

On another note, an ISP-centric blog clarifies what really goes on (and takes both Ted Nesi--who already ran with the following--and myself to task):

Liberal blog RIfuture.org let its domain name expire on February 24. As is standard practice, domain registrar eNom replaced the DNS for the domain and pointed it to a parked page....
“It will come back,” Hull said. “There’s just some issues I need to try and work out with it.”
“Some issues” means Hull needs to pay his bill. Which isn’t mentioned anywhere in the article.

It’s also inaccurate that eNom now owns the domain through February 2012. The domain is actually in “Auto Renew Period”, which means the .org registry tacked a year onto the expiration date, not eNom.

Another political blog states:

It’s going on 5 days (or so) since RIFuture.org was “taken over” by one of those ISP vultures.

Now, that’s not to say that eNom won’t eventually take this domain and keep it in its portfolio. But don’t blame eNom right now — blame the guy who forgot to renew his domain name.

I don't know, still sounds kind of vulturish to me. Anyway, glad this is all straightened out.

March 3, 2011

Them and Us

Justin Katz

Via Ian Donnis's Tip Sheet comes the news that Brian Hull is increasingly eager to offload RIFuture:

Brian Hull, who purchased the site in 2009, says he's willing to transfer the site to someone for no financial gain.

"What's most important to me is rebuilding the RI Future blog to what it was when I was running it full time. There are a couple people I'm in touch with about running the blog full time, but nothing as of yet. Things are still fluid right now, and my main concern is getting it back live," he said via email Wednesday.

Ian paraphrases that as "he'll hand over the blog for free," which seems to assume more than the text allows — although Ian is certainly in a position to have additional insight.

Essentially, it sounds as if all of the folks who've run RIFuture have determined it to be more work than they've been willing to invest. By contrast, much of my activity over the past few months has been geared toward spending more time on this sort of activity. I let off the requests for full-time funding because (1) the regular pitches don't appear to do much good, and (2) a couple of other opportunities arose that, although not entailing full-time AR work, would have opened up more time.

Those opportunities have not yet borne fruit, though, with one falling away entirely and the other in limbo, so I'll venture the brief comment that it really wouldn't take all that much to get Anchor Rising rolling as an honest-to-goodness media operation. Just a few generous investors could make it happen. It would stand as something of a vindication of our efforts if we managed to go professional at the same time that a site that is ostensibly more in keeping with the state's political culture (and bolstered by union interests) struggles to remain in operation.

In the meantime, I do want to express gratitude to those who've joined our "subscriber" list in recent weeks. Every bit helps, and we're getting to the point that the regular revenue should ensure that Anchor Rising doesn't ever again become host to the young lady currently representing our progressive counterpart.


The penultimate paragraph didn't come out as I'd intended, so I've rewritten it to better capture my meaning. I don't particularly wish RIFuture gone or revel in its struggles. At the same time, the blogs are part of a larger social context, and at that level of competition, our side is hardly dominant.

The Power of Blogs

Justin Katz

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.

March 2, 2011

Welcome RI Future Refugees

Marc Comtois

It's going on 5 days (or so) since RIFuture.org was "taken over" by one of those ISP vultures. We experienced a similar thing hereabouts a few years back--in fact, the same pleasant young lady was hawking boats and other maritime gear for us--but we were able to get back up and running in short order. It appears as if the management over at RIF is having a more difficult time than we did.

In the meantime, I'd like to extend a hand of welcome to the RI Future refugees--from commenters to former RIF owners--who've found their way over to us since their home was invaded. We contributors have strong opinions and I'm sure you'll disagree with some or most of them. Obviously, as part-timers, we can't cover every angle, offer every source and rebut every possible argument, but we do what we can and we do it in good faith and without malice. Honest. So give us the benefit of the doubt and we'll do the same.

Here's hoping your natural home is brought back on line in short order. Until then, welcome.

UPDATE: WPRI's Ted Nesi has more info:

International records show the rifuture.org domain name was taken over around 11:30 a.m. Friday by eNom Inc., a Bellevue-based registration service and subsidiary of Demand Media, the infamous content farm that’s one of the major reasons Google is being forced to make large-scale changes to its search engine.

The records say eNom’s ownership of rifuture.org is good until February 2012.

Brian Hull, who bought Rhode Island’s Future in mid-2009, told me Wednesday he’s working on regaining control of the site’s domain name from eNom and is confident he will succeed, although he doesn’t know how long it will take.

“It will come back,” Hull said. “There’s just some issues I need to try and work out with it.”

October 16, 2010

A "Rescuing" Milestone

Monique Chartier

If you visit Rescuing Providence even on a semi-regular basis, you witness, through Michael's eyes, more than

what happens inside an advanced life support vehicle in Providence, RI

including, though not limited to, a great many examples of what happens when you cross human nature with a public service that is "free".

To Michael Morse (and his hippopotami), congratulations.

I started Rescuing Providence, the blog about four years ago. It’s a great place for me to leave it all on the table, so to speak. Little did I know that by leaving it all on the table, a lot of people would find it, and see it for more than just a bunch of crumbs left by a burned out medic.

This place has taken a few different turns, different looks and different perspectives over the years. I am graced with people from all over the country, and world who visit and leave a comment now and then. The comments give me the energy to keep writing, sometimes they are the only thing that keeps me going.

I’ve been keeping count. 500,000 hits sometime this morning.

Thank you.

July 26, 2010

"Getting Unstuck"

Marc Comtois

I don't usually directly plug a blog, but Seth Godin's Blog is a pithy record of his thoughts, mostly applicable to business, but broadly applicable to life. Godin looks at things from different angles and, though some of his solutions may boil down to re-wordings of the familiar, his explanation and method is engaging.

For instance, his latest entry is about "getting unstuck" from a problem. As he explains, while there are all sorts of problems, the ones with an obvious solution get solved and so the only ones we ever really have left are "the perfect ones." These are the ones that get us stuck. Why? Because they're perfect problems:

Perfect because they have constraints, unbendable constraints, constraints that keep us trapped. I hate my job, I need this job, there's no way to quit, to get a promotion or to get a new boss, no way to move, my family is in town, etc.

We're human, that's what we do--we erect boundaries, constraints we can't ease, and we get trapped.

Or perhaps it's your product or service or brand. Our factory is only organized to make X, but the market doesn't want X as much, or there is regulation, or a new competitor is now offering X at half the price and the board won't do anything, etc.

There's no way to solve the perfect problem because every solution involves breaking an unbreakable constraint.

And there's your solution.

The way to solve the perfect problem is to make it imperfect. Don't just bend one of the constraints, eliminate it. Shut down the factory. Walk away from the job. Change your product completely. Ignore the board.

If the only alternative is slow and painful failure, the way to get unstuck is to blow up a constraint, deal with the pain and then run forward. Fast.

Basically, short term pain for long term gain. Government could learn from this, too.

June 22, 2010

Hull Selling RIF to Shadowy Board of Directors!

Marc Comtois

Brian Hull (h/t Ian Donnis), current proprietor of RI Future is putting the old girl up on the block again. This will be the 3rd ownership change for our erstwhile Progessive counterparts in as many years. Hull has been accepted into the Masters in Public Policy degree program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the workload will be too much to both manage RIF and get the sheepskin. (I do believe we have a contributor here at AR who can relate).

However, Hull still intends to be part of the future of RI Future as a member of a new "Board of Directors" that will take ownership of the site with the intention of turning it into a non-profit. (Because--apparently--we need another progressive non-profit!). So, the blog founded by community activists will be run by a corporatist-like Board of Directors comprised of as-yet unknown individuals (with the exception of Brian). Meanwhile, this blog--oft-accused of being in corporate pockets like Big Radio, etc.--will continue to be run by volunteers. Ahhh, the Alanis Morrissette-like irony!

In all seriousness, best of luck to Brian in his studies. See you in the interwebs.

April 2, 2010

A short note on my tweeting

Marc Comtois

As Justin mentioned earlier this week, I'm now on Twitter. I've long toyed with the idea because, frankly, I often think that sometimes all I need to say on something can be done in a pithy sentence or two and not paragraphs of well thought out prose. So if it seems I have been mum on this or that over the years, its mostly because my thoughts on it weren't, in my opinion, "expoundable", so to speak. (Maybe it's the engineer in me that likes all that efficiency...) However, I have expanded upon a couple of my tweets already (ie; I tweeted about Bastiat's broken windows and that idea inspired a blog post). Anyway, if you're interested in my tweets ranging on subjects far and wide, head on over to my Twitter page. After the jump is a sample of some of my recent tweets to give you an idea....

Continue reading "A short note on my tweeting"

February 10, 2010

An Education in Blogging

Justin Katz

Blogging has come a long way since the early days, back when I had to define the word for anybody curious about my time-consuming hobby. Students in Brown's Continuing Education program can now study the medium in a classroom setting:

In this course, participants will create and launch their own blog. Together, we will look at successful blogs on different themes, and discuss how the writers create an audience, how they cultivate a blogging voice, how they elicit comments from their readers. Whether you would like to use a blog to promote a business, to connect with others in your community, or simply to chronicle your days, this course will help you make your first foray into the blogosphere. In six weeks, we will go from the nuts and bolts of blogging software to the art of writing online. Students should have access to a computer with an internet connection.

The course has its own blog, naturally, and I'm happy to see that Anchor Rising made its blogroll. If any students wish to have artistically rendered avatars for their posts, I know a guy...

November 6, 2009

Swing and a Miss

Marc Comtois

This morning, the NEA's Pat Crowley's lamely attempted to use Alinsky's Rules #5 (Ridicule) and #11 (" Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it") on Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and put up a post that displayed the sort of empathy and prudence we've all come to expect. In the post, Crowley vaguely alluded to getting the "Gist" (ha...ha...) of what the new Education Commissioner abilities were and then linked to this video with no further explanation. I suppose the reader was to anticipate that some egregious evidence contra the new commish was about to be laid out.

Instead, we saw a video that originally accompanied this story from the Washington Post from February this year (and which was mentioned in this story from the Johnston Sun Rise in October).

A few years ago, Deborah [Gist] said, she was flipping through a copy of the Guinness book and realized she didn't want to grow her toenails to epic lengths and had little chance of running 100 meters in less than 9 seconds. "Then I got to this record and it said 'Most Kisses in a Minute.' I've kind of been known for being affectionate in my kissing, and I thought, 'That's it. That's the one.' "

All she needed was 109 people -- you see, the record is for most consecutive kisses by different people.

On Saturday, about 140 people gathered at the house....She withstood the onslaught, and Vince and I clicked 118 kisses, minus six disqualifications, for a total of 112 and a record (pending Guinness's approval).

The event raised $20,000 for the Wellness Community, a cancer-support organization in Bethesda.

Gist was inspired to raise the money after her uncle died from cancer. I guess Pat thought this all was supposed to cast a negative light upon Gist, though I'm not sure what conclusions were to be drawn.

Understandably, the commenters to Crowley's post also apparently missed why this was so important to Pat and many praised Commissioner Gist for being light-hearted and caring (and even a community organizer!). I wouldn't have even commented on it...except now the post and the comments it generated have disappeared--"- This diary has been removed "--though reference to the comments can be found by checking some of the user profiles (like here, here or here) and this comment also mentions the disappearance of the post.

Why the post and comments were removed is obvious; it ends up putting Crowley, not Gist, in a poor light. But instead of blank space, maybe an explanation is warranted, guys? Regardless, it would appear the commissioner is winding Pat up so much with talk of teacher evaluations and dropping seniority that its affecting his well-known judgment and tact....ahem...or maybe he's just jealous that he didn't get a chance to kiss the commish himself.

October 2, 2009

A Camcorder on the Other Side

Justin Katz

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.

August 31, 2009

A Warm Anchor Rising Critique Welcome to Brian Hull

Justin Katz

We'd like to welcome, of course, Brian Hull to the RI blogscene in his new role as proprietor of RIFuture. I, for one, am hopeful for a return to the collegiality of the Matt Jerzyk years and am determined not to be the cause should that prove unworkable.

That said, what better method of offering a cyber handshake and slap on the back could there be than highlighting our fundamental differences? And they must be fundamental, because this argument seems flatly erroneous to me:

There is a real big problem with the [state government] shutdown days, over and above the forced pay cut of 4.6% that the employees will have to absorb. We already have a weak economy, and to essentially take another $17.3 million out of it won't make things any better. Consumer spending makes up the bulk of GDP, nationally and in the state. Add the multiplier effect and every dollar spent generates a dollar plus in economic activity. By stripping out $17.3 million from the local economy of Rhode Island, we're going to depress the economy by much more than $17.3 million. This is not a good thing.


We're in a recession, and while the recession might be getting better, there is no indication that employment will bounce back anytime soon. This will mean a suppressed economic situation in RI potentially for years to come. The unfortunate reality is that we need to raise revenues. And that means higher taxes.

We could certainly dip into the argument over whether state workers or taxpayers would use money in a more economically productive fashion. Even if we ignore the fact that it costs the government money to collect taxes, but nothing not to collect them, and even if we accept that new taxes would skew toward the higher end of the economic spectrum (which I assume would be Brian's preference), I'd argue that the business owners and wealthy residents thus implicated would be apt to spend additional money in a way that maximizes the multiplier effect.

The more direct point, though, is that Brian's appeal to the need to leave money in the economy ought to suggest a different form of government cut than to the labor force. Instead, he merely argues for redistribution.

He doesn't even advocate for easing restrictions, regulations, and mandates on businesses and productive individuals as a way of increasing economic activity and, thus, government revenue. One gets the impression, from his post, that "taxpayer dollars" exist in some sort of pool outside of the economy that folks won't "be happy about paying" to the government, but that they otherwise won't use.

August 21, 2009

A YouTube Star Is Born

Justin Katz

While I was toiling away in obscurity inside the West Warwick Senior Center, last night, Andrew was outside getting famous:

August 17, 2009

He Could Be the Perfect Man for the Job

Justin Katz

So, last week, Pat Crowley intimated that he may run for General Treasurer of Rhode Island. Those familiar with his body of, ahem, work will likely find it difficult to believe that the notion isn't a put-on at some level. Today, Crowley announced that RIFuture is something like the state's online hot potato:

RUTURE has been sold. After much consideration, and after receiving a substantial offer of purchase, I have decided to sell RIFUTURE. The sale creates an opportunity to pursue other state wide goals while still maintaining a voice in the progressive blogosphere. I will continue to be an active contributor to RIFUTURE, amongst other activities.

So, Patrick Crowley "small business owner" is no more, but based on his experience, I'm tempted to endorse his candidacy for the treasurer job. Who better to occupy that seat as Rhode Island plunges into the chilly waters toward which our gleeful leap off the economic cliff sent us rocketing?

August 6, 2009

A Fireside Chat with Dan

Justin Katz

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)

June 20, 2009

BREAKING: K-Lo Not Leaving NRO

Justin Katz

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.

Stream, download (2 min, 3 sec)

(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.)

June 2, 2009

Just an Observation

Justin Katz

Anybody notice that the proud (still) new owner of RI Future has ceased to post under his own name — both on the main index and in the comments?

I wonder if Mr. Crowley and/or others have recognized the toxicity of his personal brand. Or is there some other motivation?


I appear to have posted too quickly. There's some flipping back and forth, between the two names, although everything currently on the main page, including Pat's ham-handed Tuesdays with Eddie feature is labeled as "RIFUTURE." I've adjusted this post some, but truth to tell, I should have resisted the urge to quip. Chalk it up to tiredness and the sorts of minor errors in judgment that a blogger is apt to make from time to time.

It just struck me as odd to see a generic "RIFUTURE" posting using the first person so copiously, as well as engaging in vehement attacks. It honestly saddens me to watch the RI Future brand so despoiled.

May 27, 2009

Business Models, Blog Style

Justin Katz

Ted Nesi's got a good story on the "business" of blogging in the current Providence Business News. One thing that didn't quite make the transition from my conversation with him to the printed word is the significance of the ethos of blogging.

In a word, if something comes of this, great; if not, well, we've got lives. If this were to become a (more) profitable enterprise, that'd be wonderful, but an advanced business model following traditional design would tend to shift the focus. Just as bloggers have been doing something new with media itself, they're bringing a different emphasis to the business of media.

That has yet to translate into careers for all but a handful of the extremely successful among us, but to the degree that the business model of blogging isn't but so "advanced," it's because a developed model would be something new — something that hasn't been invented yet. When it has, I suspect, first, that it will seem obvious in retrospect, and second, that it will help to revive the news and information industry.

March 23, 2009

Lack of Introspection, Chapter I've Lost Count

Carroll Andrew Morse

Over at RI future, Pat Crowley argues that General Treasurer Frank Caprio's beliefs must lie outside of the Rhode Island's Democrat party mainstream, because the Treasurer appeared this weekend at an event sponsored by the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition

It seems strange to me that Caprio, an elected Democrat, would spend any time with an organization that seems intent on attacking core Democratic values and constituencies. Just a quick perusal of the web site shows their antipathy for what even centrist Democrats believe (never mind us on the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party).
Later this week, Mr. Crowley (along with East Providence Education Association President Valerie Lawson) will be appearing in a public forum with members of the International Socialist Organization.

I'll leave it to readers decide, using Mr. Crowley's own criteria, what this tells you about where the views of "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party" lie.

February 26, 2009

Link Cornucopia

Marc Comtois

Expect a run on Portugese Water Dogs.

We have a Senator striving to form a "Truth Commission." Brilliant, name. Sheesh.

We have a Representative calling his state's Supreme Court a "disgrace" because they...followed the law?

We have a tribal leader who can't give up the ghost of a casino (even if he won't say that's what this is all about); a battle he has fought and lost for at least a decade.

Schadenfreude: Colby Cosh is a GenXer who is taking some delight in these times. Warning: generational warfare.

Congrats to both PC and URI. Maybe there will be basketball in March in Rhode Island after all.

January 4, 2009

Hashing out New Media/Old Media Roles

Marc Comtois

Justin explained in his Newsmakers appearance one potential method by which the "old media", newspapers (like the ProJo) in particular, could recalibrate and take advantage of the forum that bloggers provide (basically for free). To summarize, let the MSM focus on collecting news and the blogs deal with the discussion of the news . Glenn Reynolds provides one example of the benefits of one such relationship:

[T]he relationship between blogs and Big Media should be thought of as symbiotic rather than competitive, and here’s some more evidence. Jack Lail, managing editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, emails that InstaPundit sent them nearly a million pageviews last year, and holds two spots (for instapundit.com and pajamasmedia.com/instapundit) on their list of top 20 referrers. Smart news people — like Lail — are more interested in getting bloggers to deliver traffic than in complaining about blogger competition. And smart news organizations will take advantage of new technology to facilitate their hard-news reporting ability via the “Army of Davids” approach, rather than complaining that people who post breaking-news reports on blogs or Twitter don’t have journalism degrees.

It’s interesting to me that we see far more anger from Old Media folks aimed at bloggers, etc., than at Craigslist, even though Craigslist has done far more economic harm to the newspaper industry than bloggers, who probably add eyeballs rather than (as Craigslist does) subtracting them. My suspicion is that the Old Media folks care more about prestige and position than money, and bloggers have hurt them in the prestige and position department. Of course, caring more about prestige and position than money isn’t a formula for a flourishing business . . . .

Meanwhile, here’s more on how bloggers and Big Media can work together in covering an issue.

January 2, 2009

On Television, Sans Haircut

Justin Katz

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 30, 2008

Keeping an Eye on Content

Justin Katz

Dan Yorke took the opportunity of the seasonal downtime on his radio show to turn back to an op-ed by Tim Giago published in the Providence Journal a couple of weeks ago:

About 14 years ago I attended a convention of the National Newspaper Association in New York. The publishers of all of the major newspapers in America were there. The keynote speaker was Bill Gates of Microsoft. Later I asked an officer of the NNA why it chose Gates as the speaker. I told him that I believed that the Internet would become the greatest enemy of newspapers. He angrily dismissed my concern. ...

The New York Times is now suffering because its publisher chose to put the paper on the Internet. The bean counters at The Times discovered too late that the paper could not make the money on advertising on the Internet that it made the old-fashioned way, by placing ads in the newspaper itself. It soon found that no advertiser would pay the price of an ad placed in the newspaper for an ad on the Internet. And advertising is the life’s blood of the newspaper industry.

The Internet is doing what radio and television could not do: It is killing the American newspaper. And until every newspaper publisher in America rebels and says, "No, we are not going to put our newspaper on the 'Net," the slow death of newspapers will continue.

Dan concurred, saying that "content is king" — by which he meant that the audience is after the content, which therefore ought to be placed behind the revenue stream like a castle behind a moat. I'd suggest that, while Dan's assessment of a media organization's value is dead on, his defensive strategy is misdirected, if understandably so. The alternative began to emerge when caller Chris offered the following comments (which begin around minute four in the mp3 file that Dan helpfully had his producer post for me):

I think the proposition has to be about value, and the newspaper has to have currency. That's what the value of your show is; you bring a currency to the topics that you don't get in print media. But the print media can certainly provide a quick read and synopsis of the news events that are going on out there and then provide a link or a reference in the article to their Web site, where you can get more details, and in that Web site location provide a link to their sources, if they can disclose them, so you can make your own opinion — validate the integrity of the paper. Then you've got a value proposition.

Dan paraphrased this as using the Web site as a "backup or development spot," rather than "a duplicative spot," but the specific suggestion isn't the key element, as evidenced by the easy transition that Dan made to decrying online newspaper "feedback" sections, which he likened to blog comments (with unflattering reference to another RI site). Both Dan and Chris are describing ways in which newspapers can use the Internet to add something — presumably of value — to their existing product. The critical difference that makes Chris's suggestion insightful and reader comment features dubious is that his plugs into the new reality of media distribution, while blog-like anonymous "reactions" attempt to trample it.

One can imagine the conversation in a hypothetical newspaper office boardroom: The executives saw the emerging force of bloggers and other Internet media as a threat and sought to leverage their own market clout to carve out a safe area. The goal was to "keep readers on our site," returning to pages (and triggering ads) again and again. As Dan stresses, though, any success in that area came at a huge loss of self-definition and credibility:

Dan: Why the newspaper business has tried to duplicate on the Internet what blog sites do is beyond me.

Chris: And that's where they lose their readership, because you look to the newspaper for consistent factual reporting.

The content, to return, has to be king. Newspapers have to invest in and reclaim their core competency: gathering and transmitting news. That doesn't mean that they should lock their content up on dead-tree pages and fight the Internet as so many journalistic practitioners would like to do; in general, the realities of new media won't allow such a thing. Tim Giago claims to have managed it, but his experience was at some unspecified time in the past, and more importantly, his audience was niche: a regional American Indian market. The same is true for the retrograde newspaper editor whom David Carr recently highlighted:

Finally, I thought, a story about a print organization that has found a way to tame the Web and come up with a digital business approach that could serve as a model. Except that TriCityNews of Monmouth County, N.J., is prospering precisely because it aggressively ignores the Web. Its Web site has a little boilerplate about the product and lists ad rates, but nothing more. (The address is trinews.com, for all the good it will do you.)

"Why would I put anything on the Web?" asked Dan Jacobson, the publisher and owner of the newspaper. "I don't understand how putting content on the Web would do anything but help destroy our paper. Why should we give our readers any incentive whatsoever to not look at our content along with our advertisements, a large number of which are beautiful and cheap full-page ads?" ...

"I don't allow our name to be used on any kind of content on the Web — not bulletin boards or listings or anything," Mr. Jacobson said. "I don't want anybody to connect The TriCityNews and the Internet. I don't want anything that detracts from the paper and the presence of those big, beautiful full-page ads."

Mr. Jacobson hasn't stumbled upon a revolutionary strategy of ignoring the Internet; his paper has a well defined niche, so the Internet hasn't smoked him out, yet. TriCityNews has bought itself some time, but it should use that leeway to adjust to the evolving market, not to set up barricades against change. Jacobson may not want TriCityNews associated with the Internet, but that won't be a choice that he'll be able to make for long. Aggregation sites will eat into his audience. His writers will make their offerings available online. And even the print pages themselves will be digitized in one fashion or another.

The scary thing, for newsies and we who rely upon their output, is that nobody's found the magic formula for online profitability, yet. Personally, I think the Era of Pay for Nothing is running its course, and if the newspaper industry would focus on what it does best, it could bring the online culture around more quickly to a willingness to pay for desired content by some mechanism.

For one thing, the mainstream media should let the blogs be blogs. I know corporate wants the "eyeballs" to impress potential advertisers, but they're missing the real lesson of blog economics. Perhaps a couple of dozen regular readers will engage in extended conversations on newspaper Web sites, but a greater number of readers will be attracted by letting independent blogs into the mix. Consider the result when high-traffic blogs allow smaller blogs to acquire links and traffic by tracking back to individual posts: To rack up their currency of readers, the smaller blogs race to write pieces that link back to whatever the bigger blog puts up; readers then tend to use the bigger blog as an aggregation site for topics initially of interest to its owner.

The same would happen if newspapers made the decision to let their readers comment on somebody else's Web site by means of a "what the bloggers are saying" feature. Let some hobbyist Web site commentator deal with the vitriol. New participants and rhetorical pugilists will ultimately go back to the source. And if bloggers and other readers have to pay a subscription to access more details, they'll do so more willingly if there's a wall between the room where the spittle flies and where the professionals make their wares available.

What will develop is a tiered market, in which the basic facts of any given story are free and widely available online, in which blog-level analysis is free (or just about free), but conducted on the wooden nickel of the blogger, and in which in-depth coverage justifies advertising and subscription revenue. That will mean that journalists will have to produce something for which people are willing to pay.

That's a frightening prospect for some, I know, but if the Internet is killing the newspaper star, it is only because it undermines the profitability of easy content. Newspapers won't be able to continue to be aggregators, themselves, because their medium just isn't ideal for that task. It is no longer enough — and never will be again — for a few hundred papers around the country to fill their pages by recycling AP stories, Washington Post reportage, and New York Times analysis, with a few syndicated columnists to flesh out the opinion section. (Especially when there are local bloggers who could use the money!)

December 28, 2008

From Blogger to Notable

Justin Katz

Congratulations to Matt Jerzyk for his inclusion as one of eight notable people of 2008 by the Providence Journal — or as Matt sardonically calls it, the Belojo — which puts him in company with a U.S. Senator, the RI Supreme Court Chief Justice, a big-city police chief, and an Olympic athlete, among others. Honestly, I didn't immediately identify Matt in his picture; he's undergone quite a transformation from the man I met some four or five years ago.

I note, by the by, that judging from the statistics that he's been offering for RI Future in recent media coverage, we're just about even in readership, nowadays. When last I took a moment to compare, back in May 2007, RI Future had us by about two-and-a-half times.

December 22, 2008

A Gift to the RI Right

Justin Katz

I don't know what makes Ian think think this news would "irritate" us: "Crowley to succeed Jerzyk at RI's Future." There's even more reason for optimism in the fact that the RI Left doesn't understand what a gift to Ocean State conservatives this is.

December 1, 2008

Embrace Your Inner Underfunded Pension!

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to RI Future contributor Pat Crowley, if your pension plan is underfunded don't think of it as a bug, think of it as a feature…

An unfunded liability may in fact enhance the security of the plan because it requires more caution, therefore, more long term thinking.
I wonder if progressives will apply this line of reasoning to universal health care too -- sure there's no way we can pay for our proposals, but that's a good thing, because it means the government will plan them better! (The version of this kind of thinking often joked about amongst salespeople is "we lose a bit on every sale, but we make it up in volume.")

Anyway, back in the reality-based community, understanding why pension underfunding is a bad thing is straightforward. A pension plan is underfunded if, according to reasonable actuarial and design assumptions, it will run out of money before all obligations owed can be paid out. This situation should be avoided not only in pension plans but anywhere else in life. Claims from defined-benefit advocates that the current underfunding of Rhode Island's public pension system does not present a serious problem severely undercut the notion that defined benefit plans can be as cost-effective as defined contribution plans, if decades of total annual contributions equal to at least 25% of employee payroll are considered par-for-the-course for keeping a defined benefit system afloat.

In terms of present specifics, the underfunding of Rhode Island's state employee pension plan means that the state is required to contribute over 20% of employee payroll next year, to help get the pension plan to point where it will be self-sustaining by 2027, while still meeting all obligations until then. If the pension plan had been fully-funded (and never raided), the required state contribution would be much smaller, probably somewhere in the vicinity of 3% to 4% of total payroll per year. Given the current size of the state workforce, the difference between 4% and 20% of payroll is about $120 million, meaning that, if the state employee pension plan had been funded in accordance with its obligations assumed, $120 million more would be available to pay for existing programs or to reduce the deficit next year.

Finally, the pension study cited in Mr. Crowley's post takes a curious approach to the concept of "moral hazard". Here is the study's explanation of the concept…

If [pension plans’] investment decisions are being distorted by moral hazard, then we would expect to see less well-funded plans adopting more risky asset allocations.
But this formulation is incomplete. Moral hazard could also manifest itself in pension managers who don't believe they need to pursue a high-return (and associated high-risk) strategy because, hey, no matter how poor the investment returns are, as much money as is needed can be taken from future taxpayers – or should I say from current taxpayers, at a future time.

November 23, 2008

What kind of bloggers are we?

Marc Comtois

Here's one of those weekend fluff things to do. The "Typealyzer" (h/t) claims to be able to analyze the content and writing of a blog and then categorize its character. Type in the URL of your favorite blog and away you go. Not for nothing, but both Anchor Rising and, er, Not for Nothing come out as "Thinkers":

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Heh. Anyway, the folks over at RI Future are "Guardians."
The organizing and efficient type. They are especially attuned to setting goals and managing available resources to get the job done. Once they´ve made up their mind on something, it can be quite difficult to convince otherwise. They listen to hard facts and can have a hard time accepting new or innovative ways of doing things.

The Guardians are often happy working in highly structured work environments where everyone knows the rules of the job. They respect authority and are loyal team players.

The future is more of the same!? Local blogs Kmeraka and The Ocean State Republican both are "Mechanics":
The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Blog action heroes? Whoda thunk. Finally, the Libertarian Observer and Antiprotester are "Scientists":
The long-range thinking and individualistic type. They are especially good at looking at almost anything and figuring out a way of improving it - often with a highly creative and imaginative touch. They are intellectually curious and daring, but might be physically hesitant to try new things.

The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communicating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use concrete examples. Since they are extremely good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone.

As in most general psychological analysis tools, there is a good bit of truth in all of these (cutting both ways).

October 3, 2008

And the Old Is New

Justin Katz

I see Bob Whitcomb — editorial page editor of the Providence Journal — has his inaugural blog post up. Projo readers may be find the format to be reminiscent of his Divers Ruminations columns, which is appropriate, because those columns were essentially printed blog posts, as they were.

September 11, 2008

Froma Harrop's Blog

Carroll Andrew Morse

Did you know that Projo op-ed columnist Froma Harrop has her own blog, where you can learn about things like her libertarian streak (h/t Jack Fowler of National Review)…

Froma Harrop is an independent voice on politics, economics and culture. Though often pigeonholed as “left of center,” she is widely known for her unconventional approach and libertarian streak.
I have no control over what anyone than myself posts in the comments section of another blog, but knowing the full range of the RI blogosphere like I do, I'm going to urge commenters who decide to participate in her forum to take advantage of the opportunity she providing to respond directly to her writings when you believe she's made a mistake (or even when you want to compliment her!), and not waste the opportunity available to get the attention of an MSM op-ed/editorial writer by lobbing general insults.

The good ideas win out in the end, when there's a forum for exchanging them.

May 22, 2008

Glad to Know It's Doing Something Good

Justin Katz

Apparently, blogging may do the body good:

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

Scientists now hope to explore the neurological underpinnings at play, especially considering the explosion of blogs. According to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a "placebo for getting satisfied," Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly. ...

The frontal and temporal lobes, which govern speech—no dedicated writing center is hardwired in the brain—may also figure in. For example, lesions in Wernicke’s area, located in the left temporal lobe, result in excessive speech and loss of language comprehension. People with Wernicke's aphasia speak in gibberish and often write constantly. In light of these traits, Flaherty speculates that some activity in this area could foster the urge to blog.

Although I'd prefer gently to ignore the potential link between gibberish and the urge to blog, I can't let slide the reference to sleep: When it comes to blogging, I suspect that any somnolent effects are negated (and then some) by the compulsion.

May 1, 2008

RE: World Famous in Rhode Island

Marc Comtois

Not sure if Ian was chumming the waters with his headline, but I'll bite: Jerzyk looking to sell Rhode Island's Future. Heh, some of us would agree (ba dum bum).

Ian has more from Matt:

For me, I have given 3 years of my life to getting RI Future off the ground and I am ready to pass the torch sometime in the near future. In fact, I have been talking with interested parties about selling the blog. Ideally, I would like to sell it to someone who will maintain the character and the integrity of the blog.
Ian also covered Matt's entrepreneurial quest in his article and quoted Justin to the same, if less ambitious, effect. As for us Anchorites, well, perhaps we are a little less profit-driven in our motivation for blogging. To quote, um, myself (forgive the pretension) from Ian's piece
You have to do it because you love doing it for its own sake. Lots of blogs flame out. People get bored or realize how hard it is. But I think that so long as you are passionate about something — whether politics, music, food or whatever — you will be able to keep it going. Just don’t ever look at it as a way to make money or gain power.
Don't get me wrong: more power to Matt if he can make a nice profit from his investment. Speaking for myself, I just never envisioned making a buck off of this blogging stuff. It may sound all altruistic and naive--cue "Kumbaya"--but my goal is simply to do my part to help improve RI's future for my kids and their generation.

April 17, 2008

Political Blogfire

Justin Katz

Brown student Sara Sunshine's article on the local region of the blogosphere is a worthy offering — much better than I'd feared, having been forewarned of Crowley's involvement. What better comment on the quirky, intangible power of blogging could there be than Ms. Sunshine's inclusion of a quotation from the post in which I mentioned our interview. And it was certainly good of her to give me the last word with this:

Crowley is "more of a rhetorician than an intellectual," Katz told The Herald. "And not a very good one at that."


For the record, I'm pretty sure that I said, "I made a joke when we started Anchor Rising..."

November 8, 2007

Introducing The Ocean State Republican

Carroll Andrew Morse

Give a warm welcome to the Rhode Island Republican Assembly's new entry into the local blogosphere, The Ocean State Republican (also accessible through the web address www.theOSR.com).

From the OSR's "About us" page...

The OSR is the new politically-focused, conservative activist-oriented blog, primarily sponsored by the Rhode Island Republican Assembly, “The Republican Wing of the Republican Party”....

As all good Rhode Island Republicans “in the know” know, The Ocean State Republican was the former moniker of a local electronic newsletter — which featured local political news and commentary from a Republican point of view — that was faithfully sent out by e-mail each month for a number of years, as a regular supplement to the Rhode Island Republican Update.

For reasons still known only to Divine Providence, The Ocean State Republican mysteriously disappeared in late 2003 … but it did not die! The OSR has been biding its time … integrating and adapting to emerging technologies … assimilating new ideas and concepts … refining its purpose and message … steadily regaining its strength … waiting for just the right time to awaken from its long slumber. The OSR has returned! (… and not a moment too soon!)

The OSR's impressive list of contributors (including some names you may recognize from Anchor Rising's comments section!) can be viewed here.

September 21, 2007

Finish This Sentence: When The Going Gets Tough, the Rockefeller Republicans…

Carroll Andrew Morse

Thursday's Warwick Beacon carried its report, written by Russell J. Moore, on former U.S. Senator/former Warwick Mayor Lincoln Chafee's disaffiliation from the Republican party. (Moore mentions Anchor Rising's early coverage of this story; we appreciate the hat-tip).

However, the item in the article that really caught my eye was current Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian's answer to the question of whether he would consider switching away from the Republican party…

Avedisian, a fellow Rockefeller Republican, said he personally wouldn’t leave the Republican Party as long as he is in his current term.
That's a little less than telling the rank-and-file that "I'm in this with you all the way", isn't it?

September 19, 2007

ProJo Will Print Baloney After All

Marc Comtois

Apparently some of the baloney that blogs put out is good enough for the ProJo to pick up.

And unattributed at that.

On Saturday, Andrew broke the story that former Senator Chafee had finally left the GOP. So did RI Report's Tom Shevlin, who has some "original thoughts" on the way it was reported by ProJo (h/t Ian):

Sunday morning, the vast majority of Rhode Islanders awoke with the impression that somehow the Providence Journal had by chance asked Chafee if he had left the GOP. The Journal’s opening paragraph read as follows:

“Lincoln D. Chafee, who lost his Senate seat in the wave of anti-Republican sentiment in last November's election, said that he has left the party.”

It goes on “Chafee said he disaffiliated from the party ‘in June or July,’ making him an unaffiliated voter. He did so quietly, and until Sunday, he said, ‘No one's asked me about it.’ He said he made the move because ‘I want my affiliation to accurately reflect my status.’”

So did the Journal just decide to ask him about it? Why ever would they do that?

What the Journal failed to mention, but which I reported on Saturday along with AnchorRising, is that Chafee’s disaffiliation was discovered by an eagle-eyed RIGOP activist who had specific questions regarding Chafee’s registration status.

In fact, there was no need to speak to Chafee except to gather his personal reaction to what was as clear as black and white. Confirmation of the initial assertion was easily obtained through public access to the voter roll available online through the Secretary of State’s website.

No, there was no press release from Senator Chafee; no press conference or unsolicited phone call to the Journal newsroom. Chafee had kept his disaffiliation quiet for several months before the news broke, and without the diligence of one nosy party activist, the Journal and the rest of us probably still wouldn’t know about it.

Now, I’m under no illusions. I realize that the meager readership of the Rhode Island blogosphere pales in comparison to that of the Providence Journal and makes bloggers for the most part bit players in the news cycle....But if the Journal chose not to cite these bit players in their “original” reporting, then perhaps they shouldn’t have used reaction to Chafee’s disaffiliation for the basis of their follow-up story on Monday. Especially if those reactions were taken from a blog which carried the real story the day before the Journal’s own report ran.

September 16, 2007

Kerr Must Be in the Index...

Justin Katz

Bob Kerr somehow got his hands on a copy of Rescuing Providence blogger (and regular AR commenter) Michael Morse's forthcoming book of that name, and he really thinks you should read it:

Morse has been an emergency medical technician (EMT) and firefighter in Providence for 16 years. He is one of those people, like most who work at firehouses, who are hooked on the job. Despite the falling-down fatigue that comes with call after call, he would have it no other way.

He has been a writer for a lot of years too. It is tough to say just when that part of him kicked in. He remembers his days at Bishop Hendricken High School, where he did not light up the honor roll. But he got that B in English once. There were some early indications that he could do things with the language.

And he has. He’s written a book, and it’s so damn good that I can’t stand this guy. I mean, just where does he get off climbing out of a rescue wagon and writing with this kind of feeling and pace and vivid recollection?

Oh to be so good that Kerr can't stand you! I guess we mere citizens will have to wait until October 1st to stoke similar resentment of Mr. Morse.

September 9, 2007

There's that "B" Word Again

Justin Katz

An old joke down in Washington (as I've heard) is that inhabitants have a peculiar method of reading books: index first. Of course, "Washington" is a metonym for American politics, and the index-first urge is a natural one for anybody who may find his own name (or that of another person or an organization about which he cares) in a political book.

That is why, although I'll confess that my interest in political memoirs in general and Steve Laffey's in particular is a nearly inaudible hum, this line in a front-page Providence Journal piece on his forthcoming book caught my attention:

The narrative travels from debates and behind-the-scenes strategy sessions to advertisements and door-knocking and the Laffey campaign’s efforts to seed its message into political blogs and radio talk shows.

The "B" word appears again in Darrell West's review in the Books section:

He says he has no regrets about his campaign and he blames “shameful journalism,” unfriendly newspaper columnists, aggressive bloggers, and national figures such as Karl Rove and the D.C. Republican establishment, which poured millions of dollars into ads, direct mail, and opposition research attacking him.

Honestly, I don't expect to find Anchor Rising in Laffey's index. We weren't particularly "aggressive" during the primary season, for one thing. For another, I don't believe that we played that large of a role in either his momentum or his defeat. But then again, I don't recall any blogs figuring very largely in the saga, so perhaps some adviser — of either a political or literary sort — put the "B" word so prominently in the marketing vocabulary of Laffey's book because "blogs are hot," or some such headline phrase from a marketing trade publication.

That said, if anybody who reads Laffey's book comes across a paragraph akin to the following made-up possibility, I'd be interested to hear about it:

My staffers so harassed the comment sections of Anchor Rising (the state's uninspiring conservative blog) that the Web site's contributors seriously considered closing down the interactive feature altogether.

If the book is of the Tell All variety, perhaps we'll finally learn who posted under which nicknames.

August 9, 2007

Net Root Hypocrisy

Marc Comtois

Didja hear about the netroot capo who had to settle with the SEC? Matt Drudge (of course) broke the story that, according to the NY Times, MyDD.com blogger Jerome Armstrong is paying close to $30,000 in fines to the Securities and Exchange Commission because he promoted the stock of a company on his blog and didn't tell anyone he was being "compensated" for it (here's the settlement). Roger Simon observes:

Now, as we all know, sleaze and corruption are not unique to either side of the political spectrum. But Armstrong, Kos & their netroot cronies have made a big deal out of clean government (and they should). So this kind of allegation speaks even more deeply to their ethics, as it it would for anyone in that position.

Moreover, this behavior, if true, besmirches blogging in general, harming all of us who take this enterprise seriously as a criticism of the activities of mainstream media....I'll give Armstrong the benefit of the doubt for now. But he owes us all a complete and thorough explanation of how this came to be. Otherwise, he might as well quit blogging. He and his integrity are toast.

All those followers of Kos should be especially interested in this. I hope they don't respond defensively, because if they do, the grounds for communication between intelligent Americans will be even worse than it is. How will we be able to take their pronouncements seriously?

Indeed. And Red State (schadenfreude, anyone?) reminds:
So, let's review: one of the founding members of the left blogosphere not only got his start in politics by predicting races on the basis of whether "Earley's natal Jupiter (that's being transited by Jupiter), is being dragged down by his south node there as well," he's now settled with the government over charges that he failed to disclose a conflict of interest when the law (as well as a basic sense of ethics) would have required him to do so. As noted at the time, this allegation in particular is troubling because of allegations that Armstrong was engaged in a hype-for-hire scheme in which he failed to disclose conflicts of interest with respect to his political career as well.

Now, lo these many months ago, in the course of exercising his remarkable powers of persuasion to make sure that the rest of the liberal bloggers kept quiet about the whole situation, Armstrong's long-time blogging partner and book co-author Markos Moulitsas said this:

Jerome can't talk about it now since the case is not fully closed. But once it is, he'll go on the offensive. That should be a couple of months off.

Well, it's actually been a year. But the case is apparently fully closed. We eagerly await Vis Numar "going on the offensive" to explain whether he did or did not fail to fulfill his legal obligations to disclose that he was being paid to tout a stock. More Markos:

My request to you guys is that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story. Then, once Jerome can speak and defend himself, then I'll go on the offensive (which is when I would file any lawsuits) and anyone can pile on.

Well, folks, the world awaits. Is an "offensive" from Armstrong coming? I mean to say, beyond deleting diaries at MyDD that make reference to the settlement (I am told that the "inflammatory" diary title in question was "Jerome Armstrong Admits Wrongdoing." The Google Cache has not caught it yet.)? Is Kos going to file a bunch of lawsuits now, to clear his name of the charges that the campaigns in question were really paying Armstrong in order to get favorable treatment from Kos? Or will another eerie silence fall over the left blogosphere like it did when this story originally arose?

The initial response over at Daily Kos? Drudge is Gay!!!!

How very "progressive." (As Glenn R. puts it, "What is it with the lefty types and gay slurs?").

Wonder what some of the local bloggers think of all this. (So far, crickets chirping...)

N.B. In the "Comments," RI Future's Matt Jerczyk points out that it wasn't Kos himself who posted that "Drudge is Gay", but one of his many "diarists." Point taken. Instead of originally pointing to a "Kos" response, I should have used the more accepted "Kossack" to avoid any conflation between the Kosfather and his fellow travelers.

August 6, 2007

Unionizing Bloggers?

Marc Comtois

Only the "reality-based" community could come up with this:

...a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards.

"I think people have just gotten to the point where people outside the blogosphere understand the value of what it is that we do on the progressive side," said Susie Madrak, the author of Suburban Guerilla blog, who is active in the union campaign. "And I think they feel a little more entitled to ask for something now."

But just what that something is may be hard to say.

In a world as diverse, vocal and unwieldy as the blogosphere, there's no consensus about what type of organization is needed and who should be included. Some argue for a free-standing association for activist bloggers while others suggest a guild open to any blogger -- from knitting fans to video gamers -- that could be created within established labor groups.

Others see a blogger coalition as a way to find health insurance discounts, fight for press credentials or even establish guidelines for dealing with advertising and presenting data on page views.

"It would raise the professionalism," said Leslie Robinson, a writer at ColoradoConfidential.com. "Maybe we could get more jobs, bona fide jobs."

While bloggers work to organize their own labor movement, their growing numbers are already being courted by some unions.

"Bloggers are on our radar screen right now for approaching and recruiting into the union," said Gerry Colby, president of the National Writers Union, a local of the United Auto Workers. "We're trying to develop strategies to reach bloggers and encourage them to join."
Sitting at a panel titled "A Union for Bloggers: It's Time to Organize" at this week's YearlyKos Convention for bloggers in Chicago, [Kirsten] Burgard said she'd welcome a chance to join a unionized blogging community.

"I sure would like to have that union bug on my Web site," said Burgard, a blogger who uses the moniker Bendy Girl.

Madrak hopes that regardless the form, the labor movement ultimately will help bloggers pay for medical bills. It's important, she said, because some bloggers can spend hours a day tethered to computers as they update their Web sites.

"Blogging is very intense -- physically, mentally," she said. "You're constantly scanning for news. You're constantly trying to come up with information that you think will mobilize your readers. In the meantime, you're sitting at a computer and your ass is getting wider and your arm and neck and shoulder are wearing out because you're constantly using a mouse."

Sheesh. Yes, they're serious. At least the KOS crowd. Not everyone is too keen on the idea, though:
"The reason I like blogging is that it's very anarchistic. I can do whatever I want whenever I want, and oh my God, you're not going to tell me what to do," said Curt Hopkins, the founder of the Committee to Protect Bloggers.

"The blogosphere is such a weird term and such a weird idea. It's anyone who wants to do it," Hopkins said. "There's absolutely no commonality there. How will they find a commonality to go on? I think it's doomed to failure on any sort of large scale."

Unsurprisingly, there's decidedly less support for a union movement among conservative bloggers.

Mark Noonan, an editor at Blogs for Bush and a senior writer at GOP Bloggers, said he worries that a blogger union would undermine the freewheeling nature of the blogosphere, regardless of its political composition.

"We just go out there and write what is on our mind, damn the critics," he said. "To make a union is to start to provide a firm structure for the blogosphere and that would merely make the blogosphere a junior-league (mainstream media). ... Get us a union and other 'professional' organizations and we'll start to be conformist and we'll start to be just another special interest."

I can see it now: Anchor Rising becomes targeted as a "scab blog". Will there be "virtual picketing"? An electronic "card check"?

May 23, 2007

Robert Whitcomb Hits the Big Time with Cape Wind

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Providence Journal’s Robert Whitcomb may think that running the editorial page of a daily metropolitan newspaper is already a big-time job. However, today, he really hits the big time -- a link from Instapundit, who previews Whitcomb's new book titled Cape Wind : Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound (co-authored with Wendy Williams).

Continue reading "Robert Whitcomb Hits the Big Time with Cape Wind"

Robert Whitcomb Hits the Big Time with Cape Wind

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Providence Journal’s Robert Whitcomb may think that running the editorial page of a daily metropolitan newspaper is already a big-time job. However, today, he really hits the big time -- a link from Instapundit, who previews Whitcomb's new book titled Cape Wind : Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound (co-authored with Wendy Williams).

Continue reading "Robert Whitcomb Hits the Big Time with Cape Wind"

May 14, 2007

Re: Now Here's an Interesting Development

Carroll Andrew Morse

Warwick Daily Times editor Louis C. Hochman summarizes…

For those of you who are keeping track, at this point we've got new media (Anchor Rising) commenting on old media (the Warwick Daily Times), which was reporting on how new media (RIFuture, and later Anchor Rising) commented on old media ([Dan Yorke's] show)…
…and editorializes on the chain of the “varied and sometimes seemingly self-contradictory” responses to the Dan Yorke/Scott Avedisian kerfuffle…
It's a credit to both Katz and Jerzyk (both of whom participated in our coverage as sources) that they've been able to turn an insensitive comment by an often-abrasive talk show host into an intelligent discussion on the responsibilities of media, Internet-age, transistor-age and printing-press-age alike. It's just too bad our local Imus-of-the-moment didn't put quite as much thought into what he had to say.

May 12, 2007

Now Here's an Interesting Development

Justin Katz

I'm not sure what its significance is, but a Warwick Daily Times story, by Matt Bower, on the Yorke/Avedisian kerfuffle places the story largely in the context of blogs and their commenters:

Matt Jerzyk, administrator of the generally liberal RIFuture blog, www.rifuture.org, said he wrote a post the next day expressing his outrage that the media was staying silent about Yorke's comments, rather than holding him accountable and taking him to task. ...

"Anytime we get over 20 comments on a post, it's considered a pretty hot issue. A lot of people were weighing in with their opinions on the matter," he said. ...

When Mark Comtois from the generally conservative AnchorRising blog, www.anchorrising.com, got wind of Jerzyk's post, he wrote a blog entry of his own asking whether or not bloggers have a responsibility regarding the comments on their blogs. ...

Justin Katz, administrator for AnchorRising, said bloggers need to be careful about spreading rumors that they may have heard.

"I think Matt's outrage is ludicrous and it's bizarre to believe that outing someone - the idea that that could affect someone politically and adversely is bizarre," he said. "The leftists see an opportunity to silence a voice that they want out of the media. It's almost as if we're requiring gay politicians to have a stance on [their own] gayness, which raises issues for concern."

Katz said there's value to the area in which public figures' lives aren't spelled out and scripted.

"I think there's a humanity lost if we start requiring a checklist of what we're allowed to say about each other," he said.

The fact that the story centers on a blog debate puts blogs in the position of being generators of news. That, of itself, isn't particularly unique at this point, but the number of commenters whom Bower quotes strikes me as a new development — almost as if blogs can become a repository for quickly available and easily quotable man-on-the-street reactions.

Frankly, I'm not altogether sure that such a thing would be a healthy development. One doesn't often read news stories in which the reporter writes, "One person I stopped on the street said X. Some guy sitting at a table outside the local coffee shop thought Y." (I'd categorize separately lazy/suspicious constructions such as "some people feel.") With an abetting blogger, anonymous commenters — perhaps each pretending to be multiple different people — can now generate the impression of a movement within minutes and reach a large audience of not-necessarily-tech-savvy print news readers within days. Just look at the upshot in this particular case: Matt and a bunch of nicknamed commenters manufactured some outrage, and now a print media source has given their production old-media credibility. Here's a well-lubricated chute for the creation of political avalanches out of a little spit and froth.

On the other hand (or perhaps on the same hand, I suppose), this dynamic clearly presents people a channel through which to discuss matters — such as the evolving significance of politicians' sexuality and society's reaction thereto — but have felt it improper to raise on a public stage for quite some time. Perhaps there is grounds for faith that free expression and a growing reward for participation are ultimately beneficial, despite opportunity for abuse.

The relevant page at RI Future appears to be unavailable for the time being. It may be some sort of technical glitch, but until Matt resolves it, here's the Google cache.

The original post is back up, and the only thing that I can spot that's changed from the cached version is that comment #27, by Mike, has been deleted. It read as follows:

Oh, Matt-everyone, and I mean everyone, in Warwick has known he was gay for years. I don’t think he’ll be running to the courthouse to file a defamation complainyt. LOL.

Of course, the cache is short 50-some comments from the actual post, so who knows what else Matt might have deemed inappropriate in that range. Other comments make it clear that Mike had other posts, and their disappearance is particularly peculiar, given comments to this post. I'd be curious what Mike might have said to become erased from the page that was more worrisome, from a blogger's standpoint, than comment 46.

May 10, 2007

Righteous Indignation and a Blogger's Responsibility

Marc Comtois

The left-side of the local blogosphere is atwitter with calls to fire WPRO's Dan Yorke for an assertion/information he let slip during his show. (I won't repeat the comment, you can find it on your own.) However, what I did find interesting was that a similar assertion had been made in the comments section (the last one) of one of the righteously indignant blogs almost exactly two years ago. It raises an interesting question: if it's not OK for Yorke to publicly assert something, regardless of whether or not it's common knowledge, what responsibility do we as bloggers have to ensure that our anonymous commenters don't do the same? Or does anonymity confer a mantle of plausible deniability for us?

I know that we at Anchor Rising let our commenters have a pretty free reign, but we have, in the past, removed comments that have made assertions that we would consider un-provable or distasteful. As part of the "new media" bloggers need to keep an eye out for such things in their comments section. I'm not trying to be holier-than-thou, after all, there are probably still a few "hearsay" comments floating around our comments sections, too. As named bloggers who have "ownership" of these sites, we are responsible for what is asserted by anonymous commenters on our blogs. Thus, it behooves us to reign in the "gossip" to help strengthen our position as "serious" news/commentary outlets. The trick is to do it without scaring away people. (I know, we've had this discussion before).

Update: For those interested in blogger-navel gazing, I posed a shorter version of this as a comment over at RI Future (comment #40), to which I've received a response (#44) and have replied (#50).