An effort to turn the writer’s focus from the markers of children’s progress out of the house and to the truly valuable time between those markers.
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.
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.
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.
On Friday, the Center held our first inaugural fundraising banquet -the 2017 Ocean State Freedom Banquet. At the banquet, a capacity crowd of 200 people were on hand to hear the keynote address by Grover Norquist, famed DC anti-tax warrior and President of Americans for Tax Reform.
— RI Ctr for Freedom⚓️ (@RICenterFreedom) November 10, 2017
Sympathy for the racist; learning how (not what) to think; in favor of price gouging and dismantling unions; and saying goodbye to an old friend
Who’s happier: the family man who mows the lawn and reads a good book, or the thug who gains notoriety for a profitable crime that he then blows because he’s a degenerate?
Spare a moment for the cranky person whom you encounter (or, ahem, read) and see if you can help him or her resolve the underlying ache.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The reasoning behind my use of the word “slut.”
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.
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.)
There are two ways that Christmas can come to feel like every other day, and one of those ways is incalculably better.
At the truck stop in West Greenwich off Route 95: 849 Victory Highway, West Greenwich, RI 02817. Tuesday, October 18, at 11:00 am. (No question, a bit of a tough time of day for a lot of us working folks.)
The Rhode Island Trucking Association and NATSO, the national association representing travel plazas and truckstops, announced today that they will host an informational rally and press conference Oct. 18 to discuss the devastating effects that “RhodeWorks” — the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s truck-only tolling plan — will have on local businesses and commercial truck drivers that operate within the state of Rhode Island.
The small group of state officials advocating for truck tolls say that they are necessary because the money to repair our bridges cannot be found within the budget. Like most of the data and talking points that accompanied the passage of truck-only tolls, this is a flat-out lie. This money can be found in the budget. Remember also that, under Governor Gina Raimondo’s highly destructive RhodeWorks toll plan, shepherded through the General Assembly by a flip-flopping Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, hundreds of millions of dollars would be completely squandered on items other than bridge repairs: gantries, toll fees, interest – meaning that hundreds of millions of dollars would be coming out of the pockets of truckers and all Rhode Islanders and going down a rat hole rather than into infrastructure repair.
Adding urgency and danger to the situation, a recent federal court ruling in New York has brought tolls on cars in Rhode Island one giant step closer. As WPRO’s John Loughlin correctly pointed out on air Saturday morning, this is almost certainly why the start of work on the 6/10 Connector was rushed. Governor Raimondo and her organized labor supporters want to be sure to sink their toll claws into the state as quickly as possible by getting projects hooked on this destructive new revenue source ahead of a court ruling. (“Oh darn. The courts ruled that we can’t toll just trucks. We have no choice but to toll cars because look at all of the borrowing and construction that we rushed through … er, that is now underway.”)
In addition to the big red flag of the federal court ruling in New York, it is important to note that no other state tolls only trucks. From the beginning, this posed an enormous constitutional flaw in the RhodeWorks toll law. (For more on this, check out Rep Blake Filippi’s excellent op-ed in Thursday’s Providence Journal.) Accordingly, any state leader or legislator who voted for truck tolls in February took the unnecessary and very dangerous step of inviting the toll vampire into all of our homes. If state leaders don’t wise up and rescind truck tolls, it is now just about impossible to envision a scenario by which the toll vampire doesn’t turn to feast on the blood … er, wallets of car owners. It is critical, therefore, that state legislators who voted for tolls be held accountable. Please go here to see how General Assembly incumbents voted on tolls, where their challengers stand on the matter and vote for the candidate who did NOT invite the toll vampire to Rhode Island.
And if you’re able to get away from work for an hour tomorrow, please also stop by this rally. Garlic is optional. But your presence at the rally and, especially, your anti-toll vote on November 8, would send an important message against the toll vampire.
Happy Independence Day from everyone at the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity! As we celebrate the Fourth with our family and friends, it is important to reflect the principles that led to the American revolution. On this anniversary of the original Brexit, we must remember that “US-Away” happened because free people stood up to an imperial power and demand that their rights be respected. In our own time, people are standing up against the elites here in Rhode Island that want to micromanage our lives.
We should all be proud of our fellow citizens working to advance freedom here in the Ocean State. The recent opposition to the Brookings agenda is a good example. Because Rhode Islanders spoke out against RhodeMap RI and central planning, many of the crony corporate welfare deals were squashed before they could begin. The stadium deal and the superman building are two more examples of stopping corporate welfare in Rhode Island. There are reasons to hope. However, we must remain vigilant and continue to speak out. The political elites will continue to try to give special deals to their cronies.
When will the insiders learn? We are warning the status quo against seeking to devolve Rhode Island into a dependent appendage to the Boston economy, or to some other form of regional governance. The citizens of our state demand local control. Centralized plans are not the answer for the Ocean State. We urge lawmakers to reject the concept of a centrally controlled, regional bureaucracy that will infringe on the authority of locally elected officials. Rhode Islanders do not want intrusions into their own lives.
There are better solutions than the central planning of economies and the loss of local control. It is time to end the insider culture where the little guy suffers. As we saw in the recent Brexit vote, citizens are demanding more from their leaders. How many of us would say that the status quo public policy culture in Rhode Island is making anything easier on the average family? For too long, the political elites have thought they’ve known how to better run your life than you do. I encourage you to speak out against the status quo and remember that things can change here in the Ocean State.
And once again, Happy Fourth of July.
[Mike Stenhouse is CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity.]
On Thursday (June 23, 2016) at 5:30 pm, the Gaspee Business Network will be holding a Partner Information event at the Radisson Hotel, 2081 Post Road, Warwick. If you’re a business owner and you’re not satisfied with the state’s business climate, please consider dropping by to check out the “Incorruptible Voice of Rhode Island Business“.
We will be discussing why the GBN is different from other business networking groups and how you can take part in the most formidable force to fight the hostile business environment so prevalent throughout Rhode Island.
For (probably) my last post of the year, I’ll direct your attention to two articles on NRO. George Will grabs a long list of lowlights from 2015:
We learned that a dismal threshold has been passed. The value of property that police departments seized through civil-asset forfeiture — usually without accusing, let alone convicting, the property owners of a crime — exceeded the value of property stolen by nongovernment burglars. The attorney general of New York, which reaps billions from gambling — casinos, off-track betting, the state lottery — moved to extinguish (competition from) fantasy football because it is gambling. Florida police raided a mahjong game played by four women aged between 87 and 95 because their game’s stakes allegedly exceeded the $10 limit set by state law. A Michigan woman was fingerprinted, had her mug shot taken, and was jailed until released on bond because she was late in renewing the $10 license for her dog. New Jersey police arrested a 72-year-old retired teacher, chained his hands and feet to a bench, and charged him with illegally carrying a firearm — a 300-year-old flintlock pistol (with no powder, flint, or ball) he purchased from an antique dealer.
And on it goes. Then there’s Stephen Miller’s humorous recollections and foreshadowing for President Barack Obama’s final year in office, written as if it’s a TV show titled SOTU:
The television show SOTU premiered a teaser promo on Twitter Tuesday night, hoping to get viewers who have fallen off over the course of recent seasons excited for the long-overdue final season’s premiere on January 12. The season will conclude with a series finale in January 2017.
Not much is revealed about the plot of the upcoming season, but the promo does feature the smirking president (played by Barack Obama) adjusting his white-tie tuxedo, an upbeat image in stark contrast to how last season ended: the country he presides over suffering another devastating terror attack in California, as well as one in Paris, with our hero rushing away to Hawaii.
In the (deliberately) labored preface of my novel, A Whispering Through the Branches, I questioned the significance of a clock turning the gears from one year to another, even when it turns the number for a millennium. This year, I suspect we’ll simply graduate from the foolishness of 2015 to a 2016 that will either be so ridiculous it’s painful or so painful it’s ridiculous.
For the country, 2016’s saving grace may be that the major consequences of the Obama presidency won’t be experienced so soon, just as the major consequences of the Clinton presidency weren’t felt until September 2001 and the recession of the late ’00s. Maybe in our stumbling or our wisdom we’ll choose well in the election, although the odds seem to be against us.
When it comes to Rhode Island, well, not much can be expected. Our governor still has some momentum for her experiment in choosing the wrong direction, but maybe it will be the year the people and the news media start to catch on.
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.
Ocean State Current and Anchor Rising before it have always had completely open commenting systems. Times have changed, though. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have developed to answer a lot of the impetus that used to lead people to leave one-off comments on blogs, and proxy servers have become so commonplace that the light-touch comment management we used to pursue for random stoppers-by isn’t really possible anymore. Meanwhile, many of the comments are from folks who read regularly.
Therefore, some registration will now be required in order to comment. You can use Twitter, Facebook, or Google, or you can register quickly for a Disqus account. It only takes a moment, and it’s still anonymous, if you insist. The only real difference, if you go the Disqus route, is that if you don’t verify your email address, your comment will have to be approved before it appears.
We’ll give it a try and see how it goes.
Long-time readers will know that I used to write, every year, from the Portsmouth Institute conference on the grounds of the Portsmouth Abbey school in late June. It was always one of the highlights of my year, and for some reason, the institute took a hiatus.
Well, it’s back, and extending its activities through the year. In fact, this Saturday, Dr. Tim Flanigan will be talking about his missionary adventure in Liberia, rebuilding medical infrastructure in Africa. The talk, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is titled “Faith and Fear in the Ebola Crisis: Two Months Volunteering in Liberia.”
The event is free and open to the public, but the institute is requesting that people RSVP.