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James Cournoyer: Tolls – Resist the Urge to Create a Big Bang Wrapped in the Worn Flag of “Economic Growth” and “Creating Jobs”

Dear Members of the General Assembly,

Please vote against Governor Raimondo’s and Speaker Mattiello’s Rhodeworks plan that calls for Tolls and more Debt.

RI may have the worse roads and bridges, but we are also saddled with one of the highest Debt burdens in the nation – both on a per capita basis and as a percentage of Gross State Product. We simply do not need more debt.

The Governor explained to us in October that the RIDOT, which has a stunning $450+ million budget this year, was “dysfunctional” and that they “never produced start-to-finish budgets and schedules”. That is precisely the reason our roads are in such disrepair. It is NOT due to a lack of funding; rather, it is due to a lack of planning and oversight, and gross mismanagement.

Tolls will simply add to RI’s already notorious national reputation of being “anti-business”.


UDPATED: A Tip for Pushing Back on the Community Organizing Fascists

If you haven’t seen this footage of students, apparently corralled by at least one professor, acting to eject and exclude anybody fulfilling the role of a journalist at a protest event at the University of Missouri, set aside the 12:41 for some preparatory research:

To me the most telling moment comes at the beginning, when a bespectacled guy who looks a little older than the average student tells photographer Tim Tai, from within the arm-linked circle of “protestors,” that the photographer “cannot push [the protestors] to move closer.”  It’s a reasonable sounding rule of engagement from somebody presenting himself as some sort of an authority figure.

A moment later, the students start pushing Tai away from the center of the circle, and he turns to the same guy with a complaint that they’re breaking the rules that he had just laid out.  The reply: “Don’t talk to me; that’s not my problem.”  Tai then spends several minutes arguing with the students while being physically pushed back.  The argument is fruitless, because the mob is clearly not interested in reaching fair conclusions.  They are righteous, and any infiltrating journalists are not.  It’s not about coming to a rational conclusion.  The only rule is domination.

The second half of the clip is videographer Mark Schierbecker’s already-infamous conflict with Professor Melissa Click and the aftermath after she gets her requested “muscle” to eject him.

The bespectacled guy’s role is classic Saul Alinsky: force the enemy to live by his own rules… and then deny them as your own.  In a chaotic interaction, people want some sort of authority figure who can negotiate between the sides.  Pretending to be that figure deflates some of the leverage of the target while not limiting the pretender’s own options.

If one refuses to capitulate — to subordinate one’s own rights to those who do not acknowledge them — the only two approaches are to (1) abandon your own rules or (2) bring those among the fascists who are unaware that they are behaving as such face to face with their decision.  In the first approach, Tai and Schierbecker would physically push back; find a weak link in the human chain, perhaps, and push through it.  Of course, then the fascists would call in the actual authorities (perhaps armed) who would proceed to enforce the rules (which the fascists were ignoring in the first place) in a one-sided way.

In this case, the second approach would have been better and would probably have been even more clarifying for those now discomfited by Schierbecker’s footage.  Standing on two legs leaves us susceptible to being pushed back by even jostling, as we strive to keep our balance.  Sitting down would have required the fascists to escalate or to give up.  Forcing somebody who’s sitting to move requires much more than simply leaning against him.  Brainwashed students might convince themselves — in the thrill of the mob action — that stepping forward is not really “pushing” or “assault,” but somebody who’s sitting would have to be unambiguously pushed or dragged.

If you’re feeling particularly interested in preserving your liberties, could reverse the leverage. As the fascists strive to keep their balance around you, they’ll naturally shift their weight away a bit, at least periodically, leaving room to advance against them.

In this case, the likelihood of things escalating out of control looked pretty minimal, and too many of the students had looks on their faces like they thought they were only mildly misbehaving for fun.  Contrast Schierbecker’s video with the scene when union thugs assaulted Steven Crowder in Michigan.

A little bit more fortitude while the fascism is still budding may prevent the need for actual risk of life for the next person down the line who attempts to resist.

UPDATE (7:51 a.m. 11/11/15):

Erik Wemple (via Instapundit) identifies the bespectacled guy as “Richard J. ‘Chip’ Callahan, professor and chair of religious studies at the university.”  From his bio page:

I am particularly interested in the ways that people creatively and constantly negotiate identity, significance, and power through religious idioms in the dense contexts of their everyday lives.

So, Professor Chip clearly understood the moral dimensions of his statement to Tai that other students pushing him, in violation of the rules that the professor had just articulated, “Don’t talk to me; that’s not my problem.”

Saul Alinsky did dedicate his Rules for Radicals to Lucifer, after all.


Privacy No Longer a Side Benefit of Tall Structures Like Wind Turbines

A California man vacationing on Aquidneck Island thought he’d send up his personal drone to get some footage of a coastal wind turbine in Portsmouth.  Here’s the video:

Providence Journal reporter Patrick Anderson initially thought it was the non-functional turbine owned by the town of Portsmouth, but it’s not.  It’s the nearby turbine on the property of the Portsmouth Abbey school.  If I’m not mistaken, the man on top is one of the monks (see here). The likelihood is, then, that he isn’t, as the Daily Mail suggested, a “sun worshipper.”

One would think that such a remote height would be a safe place to relax and take in the warmth of God’s bounty, and it would be in a world without a proliferating number of flying video cameras.


Thoughts on Ross Douthat’s Portsmouth Institute Speech and Pope Francis’s Role in a Divided Church (With Video)

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat expects divisions within the Roman Catholic Church to avoid coming to a head for many decades, but it will depend on Pope Francis’s understanding of his own role in the world and on whether Catholic progressives follow the path of American progressives in pushing fundamental transformation.


On HealthSource RI on State of the State

4-9-2015 HealthSource-RI: Cost, Performance, Future Funding from John Carlevale on Vimeo.

The key points come at the end, when I suggest that Rhode Islanders should see if their representatives and senators are on some of these bills for socialized medicine and never, ever vote for them again.  It’s frightening that people who want to do these things to us could get into office.