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“Publick Occurrences” – The Fundamentals: Patriotism & Faith

As part of the recent Providence Journal sponsored “Publick Occurrences” panel discussion at RI College, I’d like to share some thoughts I prepared, but did not have the chance to put forth. The event’s premise – “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” and the polarization of public discourse – leaves us two factors to consider:

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The Truth on the Center’s Funding

Will this statement about the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s funding put a rest to attacks about our funding?

The vast majority of the Center’s funding is derived from almost 500 in-state private donors, who support our mission to see Rhode Islanders live and work in a freer society. The occasional grants the Center may be awarded from national foundations are earned via a competitive grant application process in support of policy initiatives conceived by the Center.

There is no regular source of funding to our Center from any out of state group that seeks to influence our operations.

It is curious why our critics fail to understand that there are many, many concerned citizens in our state who share the Center’s free-enterprise vision. Such donors voluntarily choose to financially support our mission to put forth policy ideas to realize our vision to achieve increased freedom and prosperity, They, like us, believe that all citizens should be able to freely engage in a robust and honest public debate about such ideas.

The Center’s staff and Board of Directors make 100% of the decisions about which policy angles to pursue. We do not do the bidding of any outside group, however the interests of our Center and certain state and national foundations may occasionally overlap.

The answer to my question, above, is: of course not.  Dark allegations about our funding are not sincere.  They’re opportunistic slanders meant to belittle our work.  There will never be a satisfactory level of transparency, because progressives will insinuate we’re hiding something (while attacking our supporters to chase them away).

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Reporting by OSC: Veteran Struck With Bike Lock By Antifa Rally Attendee

I want to share with you an outstanding piece of reporting done by our Ocean State Current on a violent politically-motivated assault of a veteran by an alleged member of Antifa last Saturday. The Current broke this important story, and brought Rhode Islanders the real message of what was happening.

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Each Subscription Does Matter

We’ve been using our email list and social media accounts to remind folks about our new subscription opportunity.  “Subscription” is a bit of a misnomer; basically, it’s a monthly recurring donation (tax deductible, by the way) of $7.60 — about a quarter a day.

I won’t copy and paste the basic pitch on the donate page, but one point that I’d like to emphasize is that subscriptions do matter.  Naturally, we’ve got some bills to cover, but more importantly, we’re increasingly convinced of the need to bring the Ocean State Current to the next level.  Having a regular source of revenue will give work on the Current more weight versus other things we have to do and create the ability to promote what we do.  That, in turn, should increase the number of readers, bringing more incentive to build the site and opening up new opportunities for content (and revenue).

Beyond the business strategy, knowing that people are willing to pay some of their hard-earned money in a completely voluntary way for our work — and the prospect of more of it — is extremely encouraging.  Every person who makes that decision is like a shot in the arm, pushing us to find new ways to improve Rhode Island with information and a message that is too often absent (and too often suppressed).

Please, give it some thought and sign on for a regular donation.

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Deserving of Poetry on Memorial Day

Casting about for something new (and yet sincere) to write this Memorial Day, I happened upon Mark Steyn’s quoting of his daughter’s poetry.  In his New Hampshire town, apparently, the tradition is for fifth graders to read selected or self-authored poems in remembrance of the deceased heroes who have safeguarded our freedom and our way of life.

Fille Steyn’s offering is sweet and simple and not but so original and raises the question of poetry in our age.  We don’t hear of adults’ reading poetry at such events anymore, and when we do, it seems contrived (not the poetry, necessarily, but the reading).  Appreciation of the art seems to have faded.  Perhaps the fault lies with the pill of modernism, deathly to the arts, that found a subject for mockery in the effort of crafting profundity and making it rhyme.  Perhaps we’re not training ourselves to be as literate as once we were.

Or perhaps (and causal of the other possibilities) with a surfeit of entertainment soaking up our boredom, we’ve lost appreciation for the task of creating and understanding depth.  My mother’s father, when we was old, took to writing poetry.  One imagines the practice was once more common, and a population that writes poetry for leisure is more likely to read the pros for pleasure.

In 2012, I placed my grandfather’s picture over the first of two poems I wrote on successive Memorial Days.  Here’s the second.  I have to confess that it took some sitting with the poems, this morning, to find the meaning.  That is the point of poetry, isn’t it?  Poetry is rich and thick and, when it works, leaves us with memorable lines that somehow hint at the fertile contextual soil from which they sprang.  Poetry is work.

On this day, last year, my subject was the quasi-debate about our proper attitude on Memorial Day… celebratory or somber?  That question seems related to the loss of poetry.  Simple words easily understood allow us to tread lightly on the ideas beneath.  We nod at sentiment and congratulate the fifth-grade author.

There is most definitely a place for that, not the least in the training of the young to honor the dead.  Still, the effort of deeper communication enriches the honor, and the richest of honors is due to those whom we recall on Memorial Day.

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An Easy Way to Keep Us Going

Long-time readers will have watched the content on the Ocean State Current ebb and flow.  We’ve published extended investigative reports that have brought statewide media attention to issues; we’ve published stories and produced multimedia that have shed national light on compelling controversies; we’ve provided a forum for countering the mainstream narrative in the Ocean State… and sometimes we’ve struggled even to keep up a stream of blog posts that consist mainly of links to interesting things we’ve found on other sites.

When it comes to talent and know-how, we have the capacity to do more and better work and to grow this site as an alternative source of information and analysis, but we can only do what our resources allow us to do.  The case isn’t easy to make in a state as monolithic and adrift as Rhode Island, but arguably, the most dire need of the state is just such an alternative voice as the Ocean State Current could be.

So, we’re asking you to consider clicking right here and signing up for a voluntary “subscription” that will add $7.60 per month to our bottom line.

We want to do more.  Rhode Island needs us to do more.  The problem is that so many holes are gaping to be filled by advocates for freedom, justice, and prosperity in our state that it’s frantic work trying to be the people with the tools and material for every one.  Help us to keep the Ocean State Current as a priority.

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Arthur Brooks Of AEI Inspires Audience at Center’s Leadership Luncheon

This last week, one of America’s leading conservative thinkers, Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, inspired over sixty local leaders at our Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity leadership luncheon. One guest said: “Every once in a while I get the opportunity to experience something that will change my life in such a profound positive way, that was exactly what happened to me yesterday as I listened to Mr. Arthur Brooks’ words of wisdom. I was further empowered and assured that together we all can and should make that needed difference!”

With “life entrepreneurship” as his central theme, Brooks encouraged the lawmakers and civic leaders in the audience to advance a “start up your life” attitude among the people of Rhode Island. Brooks said that by taking the risk of investing love, time, and commitment to the important people and self-improvement opportunities in one’s life, that this “start up your life” attitude will bring happiness, prosperity, and overall returns on that investment many times over.

The feedback from the bipartisan attendees, whether liberal or conservative, was overwhelmingly positive. As only Arthur Brooks can do, he challenged us intellectually to consider the kind of moral, family, and work culture we want to have in our state. Click here now to see pictures of the event.

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Budget Season: Opportunity for Articulating a Vision for Rhode Island

Every year, this time of year, the budget for the State of Rhode Island comes out and, accompanied with surrounding legislation (much of it premised, one can infer, on quid pro quo for budget votes) shows the vision of the insiders who run our state.  Every year, life in Rhode Island becomes more restrictive, business becomes harder, government budgets go up.

Earlier in this legislative season, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity put out a pair of “Hey, Dude!” radio ads illustrating the point from the perspective of somebody who wants more freebies and somebody who sees the opportunities inherent in a society out from under government’s thumb.

For a little fun, here’s a pair that I’ve put together.

Open post for audio.

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Responding to Matthew Arnold, Tide Still Going Out

[As mentioned (and read) in my latest Last Impressions podcast, Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach” had such an effect on my that I couldn’t stop myself from writing the following response.]

 

What if the tide is going out? So what?
It ebbs and flows and comes and goes and shows
then only girdle, but soon only gut.

And that soft skin the tide of cloth exposed,
should I see it as vulgar truth displayed
or as my loved one bare, from nose to toes?

Matthew, a younger man than I, though staid,
when he wrote of Dover’s retiring din,
mistook mere hours’ light for life useless — grayed.

Young sir, my elder!

There’s beauty going out as coming in.
The tide’s a tiff, each sally to rebut.
The end o’erwhelmes where you or I begin.

AFF-RI: Progressivism is not cool.

Announcing AFF-RI: Progressivism is not cool.

Progressivism is not cool. Let me repeat that, because it is worth repeating: Progressivism is not cool; it is the opposite of cool. They want to control how you think, what you can say, what you can and cannot do. Progressivism is about dogma, it is not a political movement. It is a cult.

The cult of Progressivism is running rampant in Rhode Island. Unchecked or aided by the powers that be, the Progressives are gaining strength.

In Rhode Island, they have marched on the home of a defenseless Barrington resident and his partner, and brigaded a local town councillor … all for the grave crimes of daring to tell off-color jokes. Those are just two of the countless Progressive sins. SAD.

They have tried to silence peaceful rallies. They control the universities, even the Catholic ones, and they control the entertainment industry. But, most importantly here in Rhode Island, they are trying to trick you into believing they can control everything.

AFF Rhode Island

Progressives hate human life. Liberty is about human life. Liberty-minded millennials, like me, believe in human activity. We believe that individuals are capable of accomplishing great things, if only they were allowed to have a chance. We believe in big ideas, ideas like sales tax reform and school choice, that will unleash the power of human potential. These smart ideas will allow Rhode Island families to achieve their dreams. The progressive agenda is a sterile lifeless world of grey — a nightmare.

But, we are not without hope. Time and time again, I have seen the real people of our home state stand up and tell the progressives enough is enough. The regular people of our state have carried the torch of freedom, when our so-called political leaders have sat back and watched.

Now, it is time for a new generation to carry the torch of freedom. It is time for Rhode Island millennials to ditch the safe-spaces and coloring books, because there is a better way.

The America’s Future Foundation (AFF) is for conservative and libertarian young professionals who believe that they know how to better run their own lives than some bureaucrat.

We will be launching the Rhode Island chapter on June 2, 2017, at the Jake Speakeasy Lounge in Providence. (133 Douglas Avenue #1 Providence, RI 02908) Be there from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for our huge launch party. This event will be free to attend, we will have a free appetizers, and there is ample free parking.

Our featured guest speaker is Rep. Blake Filippi, Rhode Island’s first millennial House Minority Whip.

The stakes could not be higher. While progressivism is spreading like a disease across our country, here in Rhode Island, we are their petri dish. We aren’t the front line, we are deep within enemy territory. Unless they are stopped, they will continue to experiment on the normal people of our state with their radical social engineering schemes to try-and-fail at their “utopian” delusions.

AFF-RI will work to advance individual liberty, personal responsibility, free-markets, and clean government. In short, the opposite to the progressive agenda that is poisoning the Ocean State.

We are the counter-culture. We are the resistance. Join the brand-new AFF Rhode Island chapter for our huge launch party on Friday, June 2, 2017. Kickoff at 6:30pm at the Jake in Providence! I want you there.

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Who Is That Guy?

Rick Snizek, executive editor of the Rhode Island Catholic, has posted a profile of me related to my being awarded a Lumen Gentium award for communication of the Catholic faith:

Katz says that being honored with the award makes him feel as if he has to redouble his efforts to deserve it.

“While I have written quite a bit that has been explicitly Catholic, I’ve tended to see my vocation as a more subtle evangelism,” he says. “In our place and time, many people are entirely unmoored from our Christian roots, and the secular culture has taught them to be suspicious of the religious presentation. Articulating the beautiful logic and practical wisdom of a worldview rooted in Catholic belief and tradition can be the force of revelation in such an environment.”

The dinner and award ceremony — also highlighting the activities of others, whom I’d concede are much more deserving than I am — is next week and, apparently, sold out.

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Lumen Gentium Award and Banquet

Among the most significant surprises that this year has brought me was the news that I’ll be receiving a Lumen Gentium award from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.  As the Rhode Island Catholic newspaper reports:

The 10 categories of service in which the awards are presented include Parish Service, Community Service and Charitable Outreach, Catholic Education, Evangelization, Communications, Administration and Stewardship, Respect Life, Public Service, Distinguished Catholic Youth and Friend of the Diocese.

The Lumen Gentium awards are presented to honor those “who toil in the vineyard of the Lord,” across the diocese.

Proceeds from this year’s Lumen Gentium Awards banquet, which will be held May 17 at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, will benefit senior priests who have served the Diocese of Providence.

The category that applies to me is “communications” — basically, defense of the faith in communications media.  Honestly, I’m so much more impressed with those who defend the faith through the example of their deeds that I feel the award to be a future-focused call for me to better deserve the honor.

As it is each year, the banquet on May 17 is a fundraising event, this year to support the growing ranks of retired priests, so if you’re able and interested, I’d love to see you there.

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Ease on Easter

Easter vigil and eggs hidden for four children kept me up later than I’m accustomed, and (I suspect) a little too much sampling of the candy made me restless in the night.  I suppose it’s theologically appropriate to have this mixture of exhaustion and excitement on Easter Day.

Also appropriate, perhaps, is the reminder that one must relax from time to time.  I’ve found I can no longer do it.  Movie watching I do while folding laundry or some other stationary task.  Exercise comes also with reading (on the exercise bike) or podcast listening (on the machine).  Some tasks can only be done on their own, such as book reading and piano playing, but these I’ve put on the itinerary as productive tasks.

It occurred to me, while pouring my first post-Lent beer before undertaking the late-night tasks, that I once could sit and listen to night sounds for unplanned spells.  Or maybe I’d contribute to the suite with a guitar in hand, but idly, not as practice or on a schedule, simply strumming for as long as I felt like it.  Once, at my parents’ apartment, a raccoon poked his head up on the deck to see what I was playing.

It’s a short life, perhaps, but a long wait for the Savior’s return, and relearning how to be at ease can only be healthy.  Seems to me there’s a Commandment involved in it, too.  Perhaps I’ll make it a resolution for the Easter season and beyond.

Simply sitting and being is difficult, though.  Thoughts intrude… challenges to resolve at work, a family to order and raise well, a house to maintain, a community to guide toward a more harmonious and fairer future, and a parade of the “least of these” through whom to serve the Lord.  All these demands must be ordered and prioritized and scheduled and planned.  How can one simply sit?

I’ll give it a try, today.  I see I’ve got an opening from 4:00 to 4:25.

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The Conversation Starts Tuesday: Opportunity To Become Self-Sufficient

Everyone concerned about the well-being of our state’s families should be alarmed by our unacceptable 48th-place ranking. It is time to challenge the status quo insider mindset and to search for a more holistic path to help real Rhode Islanders improve their quality of life. This week, the Center will co-host a forum at Bryant University, that will provide an ideal opportunity for community, religious, and political leaders to convene and begin the process.

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Leaders… and a New Perspective… Wanted

Could the key to a healthier, more-prosperous Rhode Island be as simple as a change in perspective?  Many of us believe so.  If the top priority… the first question… the lynch pin… of every policy discussion in the Ocean State were, “How will this affect our families?,” instead of, “Will this disrupt the way government insiders do business?,” a whole new vista of possibilities would arise.

Kicking off an effort to begin changing the perspective of Rhode Island’s movers and decision makers, the Family Prosperity Initiative of Rhode Island is hosting a forum on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 17.  During the free event, national and local experts will address the findings of a recent report about the Ocean State’s ranking of 48 among states on the Family Prosperity Index and begin to apply the lessons to the state’s policy environment and civic culture.  (Lunch will be served.)

Register here.

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