September 22, 2014
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Stopping wrong-way drivers before they become killers
My take on the news
Lonnie Barham

A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO WRONG-WAY DEATHS: Last Friday yet another wrong-way driver killed an innocent motorist in Rhode Island. Driving the wrong direction on I-95, an occurrence that happens far too often, the wrong-way driver was headed north in the southbound lanes of the interstate highway. He crashed into another vehicle that was heading in the right direction, killing an occupant.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation responded that it is planning to install flashing “wrong-way” lights on busy interstate exit ramps that will warn drivers who erroneously attempt to use the exit ramps as entry ramps. The lights will also send an email to state police when a car heads the wrong way on an exit ramp. This will certainly help in a few instances, but it will certainly not solve the problem.

Anyone who has ever rented a car has driven over the one-way metal spikes at the entryways when they return their rental cars. The spikes are intended to prevent cars from being driven out through the entryways. They work! Why doesn’t our DOT install such one-way spikes at the bottom of exit ramps off I-95 and I-195? Even if an operator is so drunk or disoriented that he continues after crossing the spikes, he won’t be able to drive very far or very fast with four flat tires - thus, giving oncoming motorists far more time to react. Installing these spikes would take awhile and would cost a fair amount but it would undoubtedly save lives.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ABANDONS ANTI-FREE PRESS INIATIVE: It’s hard to believe it could happen in a free-press America, but the Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission had actually initiated a “study” on “critical information needs” to determine whether or not news broadcasters and print journalists were putting out the “right” information. The FCC was to interview reporters, editors and media owners about the companies’ “news philosophy” and to determine “who decides which stories are covered.” The study’s emphasis on “the demographics of news management” was supposedly aimed at identifying “news bias” and to determine if the news needs of “underserved populations” were being met.

The Obama administration’s plan for government influence of news coverage and delivery should outrage every American. A free press is the bedrock of a free country. But a free press is gone when government jackboots attempt to control or influence the news by dictating news media’s “news philosophy” or meddling in “who decides which stories are covered”.

The public outcry against the administration’s move against the First Amendment caused it to be abandoned. But it doesn’t remove from our collective psyche the absolute astonishment and fear that the Obama administration would even consider such an egregious assault on the First Amendment. It’s truly scary!

WILL IT BE PRIVATE vs. PUBLIC UNIONS IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY?:  It may be too early to tell, but right now it looks like labor unions are lining up behind different candidates for governor depending on the unions’ private vs. public status. Public service unions, those whose salaries are paid by taxpayers, are lining up solidly behind Angel Taveras. Unions in the private sector, whose salaries are paid by companies that actually produce something, are lining up behind Gina Raimondo.

Ironworkers Local 37 has just endorsed Raimondo; this following a previous endorsement of Raimondo by Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 51. Taveras has garnered the support of unions representing firefighters and college professors.

It’s nice to see that even union members, albeit only private sector union member thus far, recognize that taxpayer funding of public service unions and their lucrative pensions has gotten out of hand. Private sector unions also recognize that Raimondo is the Democratic candidate who is most likely to spend taxpayer money on improving roads, bridges and other infrastructure instead of pouring more tax dollars into public service unions and social welfare programs.

OBAMA DIPLOMACY COULD HAVE PREVENTED UKRAINE SITUATION: Many months ago it became clear that former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, who had already agreed to align his country with the European Union, was instead vacillating and was likely shifting toward Russia because his country was so far in debt. Suddenly, a $15 billion loan by Russia’s Vladimir Putin put Yanukovych over the edge and he denounced his country’s agreement to move into the EU camp. That’s what started the protests that resulted in Yanukovych being thrown out of the country and that resulted in Russia invading Crimea.

All of this could have been prevented had President Obama had the diplomatic foresight to understand what was happening in Ukraine leading up to the $15 billion Russian loan. Our country spends $15 billion every day on senseless programs like research on things we already know the answer to and on subsidies to big oil and big farms. Surely we could have joined with the EU on a $15 billion loan to Ukraine that would have prevented the mess we are now faced with.

Obama’s dangerous lack of foreign policy skills has manifested itself again and again from Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran, Syria, Egypt and Israel-Palestine. Now he’s done it again in Ukraine. His lack of foresight has put us in a situation where Russia once again has the upper hand and Obama has no leverage. With Obama at the foreign policy helm, our country has become the diplomatic laughing stock of the global community.

AN EGREGIOUSLY SOCIALIST MOVE: Providence state representative Raymond Hull, a Democrat, has introduced a bill in our state legislature that would require Cox Communications to continue operating an unprofitable call center in Rhode Island. Cox plans to close the local call center and 13 other small ones in order to consolidate its call center operations into seven regional centers. It’s a move that will ensure Cox’s continued profitability but will result in 234 layoffs in Rhode Island.

What exactly does Hull think he can do? Require a business to lose money so that its employees will keep their jobs? That’s exactly what the former Soviet Union did and we all know what happened to its socialist system.

So long as we keep “economic thinkers” like Raymond Hull in our General Assembly who believe businesses exist as de facto welfare agencies instead of profit-making enterprises, our state will continue down its economic death spiral.

TAVERAS, LUSI AND EDUCATIONAL POLITICS: Against all logic, gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras is opposed to high school students having to demonstrate partial proficiency on high school subjects before they can graduate. His opposition to the NECAP test and other standardized tests is typical of left-leaning politicians who seem to want to keep low-income students in the poverty cycle. Surely he knows that encouraging such students to excel in high school, to include preparing for standardized tests, will serve them well in life and will help elevate them out of poverty. But getting votes is more important to politicians like Taveras than actually helping constituents. To such politicians the more voters who remain in poverty and who continue to depend on government handouts, the more voters there will be to vote for the politicians who are handing them the taxpayer-funded handouts.

Providence Schools Superintendent Susan Lusi has now joined Taveras in trumpeting her opposition to standardized tests as a component of high school graduation requirements. While it’s disgusting for a politician to oppose good educational practices, it is far worse for an educator like Lusi to oppose them. Eva-Marie Mancuso, chairwoman of the state Board of Education, summed it up best when she said of Lusi, “She works for the mayor. The mayor is running for governor and he is opposed to the NECAP...It seems like grandstanding to me.”

QUOTES OF THE WEEK ON PUTIN AND OBAMA:  Speaking of President Obama’s weakness on foreign policy issues, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had this to say: “Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody’s eyes roll...We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.” Speaking of Obama’s recently published plans to dramatically downsize U.S. military forces, Representative Buck McKeon of California said, “Putin’s not a dummy. He looks at it and says: ‘Hey, America is cutting back their defense. I can push here.’”


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