January 17, 2006

Notes on the Breakfast Table, Page 3

Justin Katz

Representative Bruce Long's discomfort when the U.S. Senate primary race came up during his East Bay GOP Breakfast introduction of Mayor Steve Laffey spoke volumes. It might go too far to speculate about an underlying fear that a primary will alert Rhode Islanders to the fact that they have erroneously elected a Republican. Whatever the case, the idea that somebody within the party would challenge a Republican incumbent apparently requires explanation of the appropriate response.

The Laffey campaign seems to have recognized that need and has — wisely — left expression of the magnitude of its rebellion to the pages of the Wall Street Journal, for example. From the candidate, himself, the message is that "it's just a race," as he put it during his breakfast speech. Laffey appears, also, to have made a conscious effort to use the more-inclusive and better-sounding "we" (as in "we had a message") — although the effort at times seemed so conscious as to be humorous ("a combination of me... and us!").

But this is all strategic analysis. The bottom line is that Laffey is undeniably compelling on personal and rhetorical levels — eliciting, for inconsequential example, smiles across the tables when he patted his daughter's head with a "hey beautiful" as she strode nonchalantly between him and his audience. It was even endearing in a regular-guy way when he cited Animal House mistakenly in place of Animal Farm (an error sure to attract the attention of Jonah Goldberg conservatives everywhere).

Ultimately, though, the reminder of these qualities finally helped me to give form to my doubts about Laffey's campaign for U.S. Senate. The tremendous integrity that he rightly trumpets in his political biography — dropping everything and running for mayor to save his hometown from corruption and poor government — is the stuff of primetime dramas. It does not, however, translate immediately into compelling motivation to become a Senator. The need to make that translation is obviously on Laffey's mind, but to my mind he does not manage the accomplishment.

"I see the American Dream dying across America" explains neither the vantage point from which he made the observation nor the reason that he individually can do more to remedy the problem from Congress rather than (at least at first) within the local and state government. I'd suggest that the people of Mississippi and California would be better able to save their own American Dreams than would a Rhode Islander reaching out to those states through the federal legislature.

The more pragmatic argument that Laffey makes on this count is that the RI GOP needs a "strong leader at the top of the ticket," to cause not only votes, but participation and recruitment, as well, to trickle down. During his speech, Laffey pulled out a few pages of a table tracking registered voter trends by town and, probably correctly, took credit for Republican advances in his city of Cranston. It isn't at all clear, however, that a Washington politician would have that effect; indeed, if strengthening the party locally is among Laffey's goals, staying local for a while would seem more likely to achieve it. (I hope the mayor would agree that people change their political affiliation not on the sheepish basis of admiration for the guy at the top of the list, but because they have seen his policies put into action in their own towns.)

Bill Harsch is correct that Rhode Island must begin electing state and local officials who will redefine their positions to be useful, rather than honorary and beholden to established powers. I believe that Steve Laffey had unimpeachable motives to improve the town that raised him. I believe that he's brazen and compelling enough to force similar improvements on the state surrounding that town.

Perhaps the most astute observation that Laffey made during his speech was that opponents of the policies that he espouses "view the world as a static thing." From the economy to energy usage to cultural changes, the world is not static, but ever shifting. The same is true of public offices and their places in the government dynamic. If Laffey were to play a prominent role in redefining the Rhode Island system as an irrefutably representative one — a prosperous and irrefutably representative one — his motivation for further advancement would require no translation, and the in-party discomfort would belong to those who are afraid less of the disruption that comes with disagreement than of the success of the other side.

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The essence of your argument seems to be based not on the qualifications of the candidate, his ability to deliver on his promises, his reasons for running for higher office, and his plan to fix what is broken when he wins, but rather on your notion that he lacks the justification for running for the US Senate at all.

Isn't this America? Land of the free and home of the brave!

Here is a simple and direct question. Would you prefer six more years of Chafee or six years of Laffey? Dont blow any smoke about the general election. Chafee or Laffey, that is the question.

The people await your answer.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at January 18, 2006 12:07 AM

Whether you agree with Mayor Laffey's decision to run or not, the fact remains that RI is in desperate need of principled candidates to step forward who are willing to serve the public rather than their personal interests.

One thing that you cannot dispute is that Steve Laffey stepped forward to a bleak situation in Cranston and was able to bring about real change in a short period of time. We need that same result thoughout state government, and for that reason, I understand the point that Justin has raised.

On the bright side, we DO have some of those candidates stepping forward to lead our state. From Bill Harsch's campaign for Attorney General on the state-wide level, to candidates being fielded in the General Assembly such as Lloyd Monroe, Republicans have reason to believe that 06 has the potential to be a banner year. Even on the local level from Westerly to Providence, seats previously handed to Democrats are now being challenged.

Could the state use Mayor Laffey's energy here? Of course! But so long as we have candidates like Bill Harsch to fill that gap, I think the RIGOP will continue to stand as the party of reform in Rhode Island.

Whatever you think of Washington politics, without an economically and politically competitive environment, RI will continue to lose business, jobs, and revenue as we run ourselves into the ground and ever closer towards a mini entitlement-society. I don't know about you, but it's the health of the state, more than anything else in Washington, that is of immediate concern to me.

Posted by: john b at January 18, 2006 12:40 AM

I agree with John's comments. Joe has some good points, too, though I'm sure I would have said it differently. As for Justin, while you've made good points all around, the fact is that the decision vis-a-vis Laffey has already been made. It's like asking whether FDR should have run for a fourth term in 1944 -- it's history. Laffey is running for Senate, he's definitely running as a Republican, and he's running to win, and win it all.

As for Rep. Long, he's a nice guy to know. However, he's been in the business of politics for a very long time. He's a known close ally of both father and son Chafee, and his views on a host of issues are not even necessarily indicative of the state party, nevermind the national party. He's what I would call a nice RINO. He probably should consider calling it a career.

Honestly, knowing him and his views, I was very surprised at how polite he was when introducing Laffey, only being a few feet away from him!

Posted by: Will at January 18, 2006 1:28 AM

PS One thing I hope you took away from the East Bay GOP Breakfast, which was dominated by Chafee and/or undecided folks, was the difference in audience reaction before, during, and after Mayor Laffey spoke.

Initially, as someone noted in another post, the crowd wasn't what I would deem overly receptive; a little hesitant on the introductory applause. More than a few times during the mayor's speech, he was spontaneously interrupted by applause (esp. the part about supporting the President). Afterwards, he was given a significantly more generous standing ovation. I'm sure he changed more than a few minds in that room.

Having heard from the current senator at the prior East Bay GOP Breakfast, I can't stress enough how much of a difference there was in the tone, delivery, and reception to his speech, as opposed to that given by the mayor. If one didn't know the candidates, you'd think they were running for different offices!

Posted by: Will at January 18, 2006 1:39 AM

It's not "like asking whether FDR should have run for a fourth term in 1944." Laffey hasn't gained the office. Voters can still tell him, "not yet." (And what he does subsequently will be vital to observe.)

And of course, Joe, he's free to run. However, his running does not obligate me to vote for him, even if I agree with him on the bulk of issues.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 18, 2006 5:50 AM


Our election law spells out the primary process. There is a reason for this. It is for - primaries.

Now, I've heard your argument numerous times, and I must say that it still doesn't resonate with me.

You remind me of those who just want things the same "because that's the way we've done it", and not for well grounded reasoning.

Furthermore, if a player in AAA ball is ready to go to the majors, would you deny him that opportunity, because the AAA team will be worse off for it?

I just can't understand the logic of your argument. And, the stakes here are far more serious than some game.

Posted by: Jim at January 18, 2006 6:21 AM

Boy what a choice we have for the Senate, a weakling or a nutjob.
The upside to the weakling is that he's an honest and likebale person even if he's maddening in his weak and wavering views.
Or we go with the nutjob who's a natural irritant and who will turn people off in Washington with his know-it-all egomania.
The equation is simple: Chaffee can win the state and Laffey can't so the question really should be do you want Linc Chaffee or Sheldon Whitehouse in Washington.

PS - Please retire Bruce Long.
Being a part of the corrupt and socialist circus that is the RI General Assembly for twenty five years is NOTHING to be proud of.

Posted by: Tim at January 18, 2006 7:19 AM


Do not bother trying to apply logic to the Republican U.S. Senate race in RI - the vast majority of the Laffey-haters and the Chafee-lovers are basing their arguments on their feelings.

Granted, some are adept at cloaking their feelings-based opposition with multisyllabic words and "sleight of hand" with the issues. I have seen this before with the Romulans, and I am not, as you Humans say, "falling for it."

As for the rest of you Tribbles, the real deal is:

Chafee loves government appropriations that provide funds for local improvements to ingratiate legislators with their constituents - "pork." That love costs me - and every other Human and/or Vulcan - upwards of $1000 per year.

Laffey hates pork, and correctly sees this as a practice that must end.

Chafee is a RINO, and his public displays of indecision rile real Republicans.

Laffey is a Republican with a capital "R," and his public displays result in wild applause and standing ovations by real Republicans. He even went so far as to vote for our Republican President.

Chafee is meek and timid, and cites as an example of his mettle a trip to Canada...alone!

Laffey is assertive and outspoken, and cites as an example of his mettle the turning around of a near-bankrupt city by challenging the status quo and fighting special interests.

Chafee prefers not to speak on the Senate floor, but rather engage his colleagues whenever they say "What do you think, Linc?" I am sure that does not happen very often.

Laffey would undoubtedly speak volumes on the Senate floor and build consensus in the same way Teddy Roosevelt did - with gusto and a "big stick."

Chafee prefers to maintain a domicile outside of RI.

Laffey is a Rhode Islander, through and through, and will remain a Rhode Islander when he is in the Senate.

Chafee does nothing to build the RI Republican party.

Laffey inspires others to become Republicans (refer to the voter lists in Cranston for the huge upswing in registered Republicans.) Laffey is the reason that many ordinary Humans will run for office.

I could go on and on, but Dr. McCoy is begging to be destroyed in a game of three-dimensional chess.

So although Chafee does tend to use one of my favored words - "fascinating" - logic dictates that Laffey must be our next Senator from Rhode Island.

Posted by: Spock at January 18, 2006 8:40 AM

I think Justin's reasoning (though he can speak for himself) is that Mayor Laffey is both not quite ready for that big jump to the national scene and that his talents would be put to better use her in Rhode Island for a few more years.

To draw upon a contemporary sports analogy, the NY Jets just hired former NE Patriots Def. Coordinator Eric Mangini to be their head coach. No one questions Mangini's football acumen, but there are questions about his "seasoning" and his ability to perform as a head coach. The Jets have gambled that Mangini's pedigree as a Belichick protege far outweighs his practical inexperience in running a team. However, though a great coordinator he may be, it doesn't necessarily follow that is equiped RIGHT NOW to be a head coach.

Similarly, Mayor Laffey has enjoyed a meteoric rise in Rhode Island politics as a political executive (Mayor). He is rightly praised for "getting things done," but doing such is easier when one holds a position that can effect change without needing to rely on the support of others. Are those skills translatable in the ol' Boy senate where compromise is championed over ideals? Rabble rousing is good, but it can also lead to alienation and a tougher row to hoe when one needs just one more vote to put a pet project over the top. Can Laffey play nice even when his head is about ready to explode when face with possible intransigence or the excessive parliamentarianism of his fellow senators? (Not that I like the "senatorial" approach, but it is what it is). Personally, demeanor is less an issue than how one stands on the issues, but it is a concern if it effects one's ability to implement an agenda based on those issues.

That being said, I happen to agree that the cat is already out the bag and that not much can gained by wishing the Mayor had taken a different path. As Justin said, it will be interesting to see how he reacts should he lose in the primary, but right now that is still a far-off hypothetical.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at January 18, 2006 8:46 AM

Marc, your Mangini-Laffey comparision is interesting, but I don't think it holds water. People made the same statements about Jon Gruden when he left the Philadelphia Eagles to coach the Oakland Raiders, and that certainly turned out okay for Oakland.

And it's not like Chafee was a state-wide political heavyweight when he was appointed to his father's seat in 1999.

This is not about "paying your dues." This is about RI voters selecting someone with passion and vision, someone who will best represent RI in the US Senate. Do we really believe that Lincoln Chagee is that person?

Posted by: Leon Berg at January 18, 2006 9:06 AM

This is a great discussion on an important topic, it reminds me of the discussion amongst all the A-team members before we decided to go underground and fight injustice.

To begin, let's just ignore Tim's post, anyone who begins with character assassination of both candidates in order to make his point should be ignored.

Second, I appreciate Justin's comments on Mayor Laffey, it is by far the best "Laffey can't help us from Washington" diatribe yet, however, it is the same tired argument (usually put forth by the pro-Chafee camp).

Other incarnations of this arguments includes, "why is he leaving RI", or, "he is moving too fast, there is a stepped process to politics in RI", or "Chafee is the best we can do to hold the seat".

With all due respect, these are loser arguments. I don't know if Justin is a native Rhode Islander or not but it sounds like he probably is, because he is afflicted by the same low expectations we all have for our elected DC representatives. Our congressional delegation has provided great job security for themselves because most people just ignore them, figuring if the go to DC we'll never see of hear from the again (heck, they might even move out of State).

Laffey offers a contrast, even from his seat in Cranston he has fought for all of us on big state issues like the Kelo decision, The Big River Reservoir, The Taxpayer Relief Act. Mayor Laffey was testifying a year ago with the Urban league on Smith Hill about this tax lien sale business before the elderly women in Providence got tossed from her house and everyone else started talking about it.

Laffey will do the same thing from a much bigger pulpit in DC and get results for RI.

To all out there who buy the "he can't do as good in DC as he can in RI", you are the victim of low expectations, get over it. It's time to elect a candidate who makes you proud to be a Republican and a Rhode Islander, and will get the job done, all while commuting to his job in DC.


Posted by: Bosco "BA" Baracus at January 18, 2006 9:22 AM

Great point on low expectations, BA.

And addressing the comment that Laffey should stay local, should Harry Truman have avoided running for the US Senate in the 1930's despite the fact that his only prior political experience was as a county judge???

Posted by: Leon Berg at January 18, 2006 9:35 AM

Trotting out the unseasoned argument again, huh?

I like the sports analogies used by others. In that vein, I would liken Laffey's career so far to that of Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. They both left school early to pursue careers at another level. Jordan won the NCAA's for North Carolina with that last second jumper. Laffey saved Cranston with a last minute bail-out. Jordan and Woods accomplished more in three years than anyone else could have in decades.

Have you ever heard of the concept of "star power". Stars don't stay in the same type of job forever -they rise and evolve at higher-and-higher levels where their talents can reach and impact more-and-more people.

Reagan - an obvious star going all the way back to his 1964 Goldwater speech - served two terms as Governor before ascending to the national stage. This is a direct parallel with Laffey.

Laffey has established a philosophy and mechanism to keep Cranston strong. It would he foolhardy for his successors' to turn back the tide inherent in Laffey's overwhelming landslide mandate. In short, his accomplishments there will live for a long time, no matter who leads that city.

The bureaucratic and career politican mindset that would chain Laffey to certain political roles could use a little creativity and big picture thinking. For example, have you ever thought that Laffey's articulate championing of solar and wind power could help establish Rhode Island as a viable corridor for hundreds of these companies, replete with thousands of high-paying technology and manufacturing jobs?

Any conservative ought to know that the "American Dream" is getting stifled at the national government level - not by the state of Mississippi. Over $500b in true deficits and spending at 22% of GDP are emanating from Washington - not Starkville or Jackson - the last time I checked.

The monstrous size of the federal government is the overarching issue that conservatives should be keying on. Get spending down to a mid-teens percentage of GDP and myriad other problems take care of themselves. And to think that one person cannot make a difference is to completely ignore world history, as well as the history of Steve Laffey's career up to this point.

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 18, 2006 10:30 AM

This has been a terrific discussion, and the first in a long time where I think things have stayed mostly civil. But for all of the energy that we are expending focussing on the Laffey-Chafee race, it's not going to mean a hell of alot when we're going down with the ship here at home.

Whether or not Chafee voted for CAFTA, or Laffey has/has not been able to bring new investments in Cranston is clearly reflective of this group's economic concerns. So why is more attention not being paid to our own failing economy here in Rhode Island? What about the bill that is before the GA that seeks to penalize employers for not giving their workers the day off on V-Day? What about the looming reintroduction of the Child Care worker legislation? We are creating not just an unfriendly, but openly hostile business environment here in RI, and the only thing either Chafee or Laffey will be able to do for us is bring in federal dollars to bail us out.

How much is corruption costing tax payers in this state? How many bloated contracts are being handed out? Why were we paying Urciuoli six figues to run a non-profit medical center? What about William Irons? Is the AG just holding off prosecution until it's politicallly convenient for him to get tough on corruption? How much money is coming out of our pockets to pay for uncontested utility and health care rate increases?

We need solutions to these problems, and we need to start looking locally for answers.

Perhaps that is why Justin and others have brought up the points that they have. Let the primary play out as it might, then let's get behind the victor and concentrate on our own sinking ship

Posted by: john b at January 18, 2006 10:46 AM

Regarding your comment "Are those skills translatable in the ol' Boy senate where compromise is championed over ideals?" - are you conceding that this way of operating cannot or should not be changed? If not, who, of all the candidates in this race, do you think is most apt to play a roll in changing this modus operandi?

This "bigotry of low expectations", which, candidly, is all I take from, Justin's argument, is a liberal characteristic seen all to often here in Rhode Island.

Further, Marc, the notion that Laffey "is not ready for the jump to the national scene" is nothing but absurd and nonsensical, particularly when matched against what Chafee did in his tenure as mayor of Warwick?

Warwick has been on auto-pilot for years; Cranston was a catastrophe with the lowest bondrating in the USA. Laffey has done far, far more as mayor of Cranston than Chafee ever did in Warwick. Do you dispute this?

Chafee has the seat for one reason, and we all know what that is. And, what it isn't - a proven ability to stand up, and make a difference, like Laffey has done.

Posted by: Jim at January 18, 2006 10:49 AM


I think I understand where you are coming from. However, I really don't get the whole "not ready" idea. He's probably more ready for the Senate than anyone in Rhode Island right now, which includes the incumbent. Admittedly, my analogy re FDR 1944 was imperfect. However, in the general sense, I do believe it to be valid. As I said, Laffey has already made up his mind to run for Senate, and not to run for reelection as Mayor, considering all the pros and cons thereof. Considering the nature of Rhode Island Republican primaries, it may as well be history, because barring a catastrophe, Laffey will not only win the GOP primary, but I am willing to say on the record already, he will win it easily -- that is, if a primary is actually allowed to occur.

The only variables are: Will Lincoln Chafee run as a Republican or go the independent route in order to avoid a primary? If Chafee runs as an independent, is he willing to risk splitting the Republican/center-right vote in the general election? If a GOP primary occurs and Laffey is the winner, just how close will the general election be in November? After Laffey's second term in the Senate is over, will he run for President in 2018? (okay, I'm thinking really far ahead). I think we can agree that between now and primary day, Laffey has to get more Republicans (perhaps yourself) and center-right independents to realize that not only can he win the whole thing, but is actually more likely to, as well.

Posted by: Will at January 18, 2006 12:35 PM

I wish we did not hid our identities in this discussion and others but I decline to do so!I realize there could be a good reason for it!Some would say I am a RINO, however I have found at least the ones I personally know in such groups as the NFRA as solid REPUBLICANS!I like BOTH Mayor Laffey and Sen.Chafee personally.(Sen.Chafee's support of Patricia Morgan as our state GOP DOES NOT warm my heart but I do not hold it against him but I wish he recognized a problem about her "leadership" of the State GOP and talked to Governor Carcieri about it!
I GREATLY appreciate the kindness Mayor Laffey and a number of those identified with the NFRA in Rhode Island affodrd my alternate slate of at-large delegates and alternate delegates at the Rhode Island Republican State "Convention" in June,2004;.
Sen. Chafee was the ONLY prominent state wide figure who took the time to contact me on "Big Box" store issue in Hopkinton while I was on the town council.Despite the fact I was one of two Republicans on the Hopkinton Town Council at the time neither the Governor or one of his staff people even bothered to contact me!
Scott Bill Hirst
Member,Hopkinton,R.I.,Town Council,1996-2004;.

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at January 18, 2006 12:58 PM

Leon: I used the Mangini analogy because it is contemporary and both he and Laffey are at the same stage: Lots of promise and a few doubts about future performance in a new arena. The positive analogy of John Gruden, Andy Reid and Michael Jordan would be a good outcome for both. But there are also negative analogies that I'm sure can be made (though--of course--none come immediately to mind!).

Jim: First, please be sure you realize that I was attempting to summarize Justin's argument (and apparently did a bad job of making that clear.) Because I chose to attempt to summarize Justin's post does not mean I agree with it, as I think my final bit that "I happen to agree that the cat is already out the bag and that not much can gained by wishing the Mayor had taken a different path."

Also, I did say that Mayor Laffey "is rightly praised for 'getting things done'", so there is nothing to "dispute" with you.

Another point: I don't think that my observation that the Senate is historically--like it or not--much more resistant to radical change can be taken as some sort of resignation on my part. (My parenthetical remark, "Not that I like the 'senatorial' approach, but it is what it is" should have implied as such, but I should have been more clear, I guess).

I just don't think that it is realistic to think that a FRESHMAN Senator can stride into the Senate and Kick A**. I wish it were so, but it isn't. Besides, the subtle approach can be just as (if not more) effective, even if it doesn't make good press conference. That's just my opinion.

Look, just because I don't stand on the rooftops screaming his name and waving a scarlet red banner with LAFFEY emblazoned in gold doesn't mean I don't agree with both what the Mayor has done in Cranston and the majority of his positions on the issues. I personally have some questions about how effective he can be if he doesn't tone it down a bit. That's all.

Tell me Jim, is it possible that I can disagree with some of what makes up Laffey's style and have a few disagreements over a couple issue positions, but still be inclined to support him over Sen. Chafee? Or is it all or nothing in Jim's World?

Posted by: Marc Comtois at January 18, 2006 4:00 PM

This is an addendum to my previous post, just to finish up the thought:

Being intelligent and competitive, a man of Laffey's qualifications could have run for any other office in Rhode Island, but decided to run for Senate in spite of (or because of) that. Why? There are a few reasons, but one is that he sees dethroning Chafee and his ilk as making the greatest long-term difference for the future viability of the entire RI Republican Party and the prospects of having a true two-party state in RI. I use the word "dethroning" quite literally, as we have someone in power, based solely on his family lineage, and not on his actual merit to hold the position.

As long as the Chafee family leads (using the term very loosely) this party, we will never be able to get ahead, because we will never be allowed to stand for anything worthy of the name "Republican." I think I can also safely say, that when elected, Laffey will not be a typical senator! That's a very good thing.

Posted by: Will at January 18, 2006 5:32 PM


Certainly, honorable people can disagree.

I just prefer to see a debate that includes support for an argument, rather than some of the nebulous retorts that are seen all to often, if any attempt is even made.

Posted by: Jim at January 18, 2006 5:50 PM

There is no jump for Laffey. There's no leap of faith. He's not 27 years old, single and putting down his electric guitar to run for the U.S. Senate. Stop the nonsense.

He's 43 years old. He had a tough personal life growing up. Overcame it. Been divorced. Was in charge of over 2000 employees by 38 in a deep southern culture firm. Very successful. Listed as one of the top stock pickers in the country. Made his clients and employees lots of money. Has five kids. Stopped his career as he entered the highest income period of his lif, 40-55, to run for office for a city he loves. Spoke out for all of us and WON. Goes anywhere and answers any question. Talented enough and enough of a risk takers to host a statewide radio show while in office. Answered everyone's questions in front of the whole state. Is a risk taker. Convinced majority of democrats to fire crossing guards... In fact convinced city council to vote his way almost every time!

Don't waste your time on these issues please. Ready? Leap? Analogies to football coaches? Huh? Listen he dominates all of our discussion. Don't you know what that means?

Hey if you don't like his ideas, don't vote for him..

Me , I'm in all the way with Laffey.

Posted by: Ron Milton at January 18, 2006 6:05 PM

wow ron, you certainly are with laffey all the way. in fact, judging from your post, you either have his stump speech memorized or right in front of you.

i don't exactly love it when i'm falsely accused of being a chafee staffer, but i think labeling you as a laffey staff member (or mayor laffey himself) is a pretty solid guess.

go back to tv land with fred sanford, the A-Team, roadrunner, spock, and the rest of the laffey gang

Posted by: james at January 18, 2006 6:26 PM

Laffey left Morgan Keegan, b/c he got the boot. Not to serve "the city he loved."

Posted by: Thomas at January 18, 2006 6:36 PM

FYI to the talking points folks on both sides: if you keep it up you'll only be "talking" to each other.

Jim: I agree, and without further specificity, I can't respond concerning any "nebulous" arguments I may have proffered.

Will: The best explanation I've seen yet as to why a Senator Laffey can help the RIGOP.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at January 18, 2006 6:40 PM

Thanks Marc for your kind comments. As I'd hope you've figured out by now, I do support Mayor Laffey. That doesn't mean I think he is perfect or totally right on every issue of importance to me. It is not definitely not done blindly. I'm one of the more deliberate people that I know. As I've often said, I "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." The problem is when I've tried to use the same criteria for Chafee as I do for Laffey, I can't even get to the level of "good" when it comes to the former. "Mediocre" would be putting is very kindly.

Laffey has the ability to do several things that we just don't have at present. He can think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems. Better yet, he can lead - convince people to follow his leadership - and most importantly, lead them in the right direction. Sen. Chafee's "marching band of one" simply doesn't constitute a leadership style.

Posted by: Will at January 18, 2006 7:09 PM

"Tastes Great"
"Less Filling"

"Tastes Great"
"Less Filling"

We all know that Chafee is moderate/liberal and Laffee more conservative. Yelling back and forth is just wasting oxyen unless we talk about the issues. Unless we can convince moderates that supporting the conservative side of the issue is right and WHY it is right there isn't much more to say about this. I won't be convinced by arguments like "Chafee is a nice guy" or "Laffee is a revolutionary". Let's keep hashing out why we believe what we believe about what issues. If more people can be educated enough to agree, then who they should vote for should become apparent. It's not as though there is some sliver thin line between the two candidates.
P.S. (How's that Fred?)

Posted by: Rebekah at January 18, 2006 8:29 PM

Okay now some talking out of two sides of the mouth has gone far enough.


The reason you will not vote for Laffey (even though you agree with a Bulk of his issues) is since he can not win the general election? That Makes You a RINO. If not I apologize.


I guess you have forgotten several of mine and Fred on the Car phone outbursts. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A NICE RINO. AKA Mr. Long. from a previous post.

Tim (Post #7)

What is the difference between Lincoln Chafee or Sheldon Whitehouse? Does it really matter which Democrat is in the Senate.

Bosco "BA" Baracus

You seem like a good conservative republican. Please lose the I PITY THE FOOL after all your posts it lowers your Respectability.
Keep up the Conservative Posts For Laffey.

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at January 18, 2006 8:36 PM


Now that's what I am talking about

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at January 18, 2006 8:38 PM

Please stopping pretending you are a Republican on this blog. Go take your liberal views to rifuture.org, Mr. I prefer liberal Sheldon over Laffey, and want Saddam in power in Iraq. You are not a college intern, but your political knowledge and skills are no better than the grade schoolers you probably teach (yeah I am going to support Chafee's position on the war on a conservative blog-real smart move).

All you can make is personal attacks on Laffey, make the usual Chafe talking points. Get one of the interns to blog about substantive issues or talk substance yourself, and please no pork..it's bad my health, and our country's fiscal health.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 18, 2006 9:28 PM

I never will understand why laffey has chosen the route he has. When Langevin is facing challenges from his party and elsewhere; when Reed has intimated that a reelection bid may not be in his future; When the state party has not been able to field a full slate; and when cranston is still in a rut of economic malaise, i simply cannot bring myself to support his candidacy.

Laffey does not differ with chafee on issues such as ANWR or free-trade. He has advocated for a weak immigration policy that, combined with our state handouts will only encourage more illegals to seak out Rhode Island as a destination for their travels. And he has continually taken cheap shots at the senator ("I'll debate Chafee at the yacht club of his choice"). Meanwhile, his 'pork spending of the week' series continued on that same chord of "yacht owners"/class warfare tactic that is usually associated with the DNC, and leads me to ask 'what's in it for me?' if Laffey is going to go to DC and pledge NOT to bring back needed funds to RI to make up for our wasteful GA and state contracts.

I am supporting Sen. Chafee b/c I believe he has the best chance to work with the national party to bring needed resources into the state while at the same time securing the GOP majority for 06 and beyond. And unlike many laffey supporters, I am perfectly at ease disagreeing with 'my' candidate. In fact, I do it often. But as was pointed out above, it seems that in order to be in the laffey camp you have to be 1.) a fictional television character, and 2.) an absolute echo of your candidate.

Also, you bring up RIfuture. I find it incredibly telling that the folks over there would just LOVE for Laffey to win! Just as they don't publish Matt Brown releases, they don't carry anything positive on Chafee, but gleefully report on Laffey's progress.

Posted by: james at January 18, 2006 10:30 PM

James, the bad grade school teacher, you just won't quit getting laughed at. 1, Laffey doesn't not care what political insiders think he should run for because he wants to make a difference now. 2, Cranston is doing well, or at least the people who re-elected him think so. 3, On the big Repub issues like tax cuts, spending,terrorism, and probably Alito Laffey is with the Republicans ...you and Chafee are with the Democrats. 4, Laffey won't bring back pork, but he never said he would not bring regular appropriation money to RI. 5, Chafee does not work with the national GOP if he did he would have voted for the President, 6, I disagree with Laffey on stuff like the speed cameras, although I could care less about it.

Now that your talking poitns have been responded to, please stop wasting everybody's time and embarassing yourself- Mr. I want Saddam in power, and Sheldon to win in Nov. rather than Laffey. Get one of your students to come on here, and sound like a Republican...they will do a better than you.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 18, 2006 11:38 PM

I've let the saddam comments go unanswered for a reson. But one more personal attack by you has left me unnerved to point of great offense.



Posted by: james at January 19, 2006 12:45 AM


Yes "nice RINO" is a oxymoron. I know I had that coming. I know, RINO's need to be hunted to extinction. Maybe I should have said kind-hearted RINO? :)

I'd prefer to keep debate on issues. As it relates to Sen. Chafee, I disagree with him strongly on his positions and policy. It is not and should not be "personal," like saying your mom is fat or your feet smell bad or something.

Well, as for the other post, since were bringing up personal pain, I let you know about mine. My younger cuosin was the first casuality from Rhode Island, as a result of the war in Iraq. He almost died in the middle of a desert on of all days, Easter Sunday. Fortunately, he somehow managed to hang on. However, he lost four internal organs, was in a coma for six weeks in a military hospital in Rota, Spain, and spent nearly a full year at Walter Reed in DC. I'm sure he was just delighted to see peaceniks protesting outside his window there.

Since I'm in rant mode now, here's another gem, while he was at Walter Reed, he was visited by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Gen. Centracchio, Sen. Jack Reed, and even Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Gee someone seems to be missing here. Oh right, Sen. Chafee never visited. Good Lord, even Patrick Kennedy came by! I'd love to know his excuse. If that weren't bad enough, it was Sen. REED that expedited my aunt and uncle's passports for their emergency trip to Spain, when it looked like he was going to die. I'm definitely not a Reed fan, but I give credit when it's due. I'll spare more detail for privacy reasons. As Republicans and even as Americans, we are supposed to be better than that. Even excluding all the many issues on which I disagree with Chafee, that alone makes him unworthy of my vote. Bitter? Perhaps.

Despite all of that, the generally lousy pay, too many ungrateful or ignorant Americans, and obviously less than ideal working conditions, he has said to me repeatedly, even knowing what he went through, that he would do it again. We honor the sacrifices of people like that, and especially those that didn't make it back, by finishing what we started. We don't honor them by declaring it a mistake, turning tail and giving up Iraq to terrorists and to dictatorship, when the Iraqi people cannot adequately defend themselves.

You know what, it makes me sick -- actually it makes me extremely angry -- when I hear people like Sen. Chafee provide excuse after excuse why we shouldn't have deposed Saddam Hussein. What Sen. Chafee is saying -- whether or not he actually knows it -- is that he would have preferred that Saddam remain in power, because our objectives would NOT have happened by "diplomacy" and "sanctions" and "more inspectors." That's Neville Chamberlain reincarnated. I want Winston Churchill.

Even worse, in a time of war, Sen. Chafee has done NOTHING but try to undermine our Commander-in-Chief. I'd tell you what I think should be done about that, but I'm trying awfully hard to be a nice guy. Done.

PS Venting is very refreshing! Ahhh! :)

Posted by: Will at January 19, 2006 2:28 AM

I do wonder what the Laffey supporters in these comment sections hope to gain through personal insults and the jokey use of television characters, not just for pseudonyms, but replete with parodic references.

Is it merely the rebel's lack of care for others' opinions? That may be gratifying, but it isn't smart politics.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 19, 2006 5:02 AM


You do your best writing at 0230 am

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at January 19, 2006 5:16 AM

FYI: "BA," Leon Berg, and Ron Milton are all the same person (or are at least using the same computer). Multiple postings under different names is a strategy that I think I'll begin keeping track of.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 19, 2006 5:18 AM


You are correct, Lean, Ron and I all share a house because we can't afford the high heating bills (due to a lack of a national energy policy) if we lived alone. Just for the record, Fred Sanford lives down the street and Roadrunner is at the other end of Route 6. It's a place we like to call TV Land!

Keep having fun.


Posted by: Bosco "BA" Baracus at January 19, 2006 9:50 AM

I'm at the other end of Rte 6, but I can be over B.A., Leon and Ron's in a flash. Beep Beep!

Posted by: roadrunner at January 19, 2006 12:13 PM

Since James is no longer going to blog here since I caused him to flip out at 1 AM yesterday,..I hope he is OK. I would just state something to whomever is interested in our bloging community.

First, I am accused of making personal attacks for which I should be embarassed. Sadly, it is James who this week on this blog said Laffey is nutcase..that is a personal attack, which is very common among Chafee bloggers here. Now, if James and others want to dish out personal attacks on Laffey, they need to accept taking some hits themselves.

Second, my statement was that James was not credible as a Republican/conservative on this blog. This is based on two statements he made on this blog in the past. One, he said he would vote for Whitehosue over Laffey, which even Andrew noted caused James to lose credibility. Two, he said he loved what Chafee said about the war on Iraq on the Yorke Show. These statemnts I repeat are not Republican/conservative statements.

Third, I enjoy real meaty (non-pork though) policy discussions on this blog. For example, I liked talking to Marc about the pros and cons about ANWR. I believe we had a respectful discussion although we disagreed. I would also enjoy political/election analytical discussions as long as it based on facts and objectivity.

Fourth, unfortunately, many in the Chafee camp come on here with personal character attacks on Laffey, and the same old rebutted Chafee talking points they have been saying for a few months now. They take their example form the Chafee campaign which sends out nasty press releases, refuses to debate, or discuss substantive issues.

Fifth, I like others here believe in having a sense of humor. I enjoy being humorous about what can be a rather dull topic- politics so that is why I make the jokes/parodies. Otherwise, this is the same old , same old for me.

Well got to go. I got drive my red truck to pick up Stretch Cunningham at Archies for a night of TV Land at BA, Leon and Ron's house.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 19, 2006 6:05 PM


You still haven't answered my question from post #1.

Would you prefer six more years of Chafee or six years of Laffey?

When you go in the box to vote you alone know how you voted. In that private moment you make the choice. Follow your gut and do the right thing for RI and America.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at January 19, 2006 6:56 PM

Six more years of Laffey in-state.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 19, 2006 7:21 PM

The bottom line: If Laffey wins the RI taxpayer wins.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at January 19, 2006 10:23 PM

Where's James?

Posted by: Ron Milton at January 20, 2006 8:21 AM

Bountyhunter has lots of experience skip-tracing missing people. If he can find fugitives - he can surely find wayward bloggers.

James -

There are people concerned about you here. Do us all a favor and return to the blog. Please refrain from the all-capital letter posts, though. They are jarring.

The pro-Chafee group is thin enough as it is. Just come armed with more substance to your arguments and everything will be fine. Laffey supporters tend to know their stuff, so use this opportunity to improve your game and rise above emotionalism and pettiness.

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 20, 2006 10:00 AM

Why should someone who is pro-Chafee particpate in this blog?

The content posted by the editors for discussion is universally pro-Laffey. A true discussion would involve posting perspectives from both Republicans who support Chafee as well as those that support Laffey.

When Chafee takes a conservative position, is he encouraged by the bloggers who post here to reinforce the position? No, he is attacked on other issues.

We've now gotten to the point where pro-Laffey bloggers are making comments while posing as fictional TV and comic strip characters. You ever wonder where the NRSC got the idea to run a commercial showing Steve Laffey as a bizarre comic strip character? Maybe we should ask his supporters: Fred Sanford, BA Baracus and roadrunner?

One other thing. I noticed that there were 44 postings under this Chafee/Laffey heading and only 2 (including mine) under the Roe v. Wade heading. Not for nothing, but let's not forget that this political campaign may be fun, but the conservative movement is not driven by bashing "RINOs" or debating the speaking performance of candidates, but by the promotion of ideas.

So here are some recommendations:

1. This blog should find a Republican is who pro-Chafee to post headings. The vast majority of bloggers will still be pro-Laffey, but having at least one pro-Chafee editor would make this blog less like Pravda in the old Soviet Union and maybe create some interesting debate.

2. Reduce the cartoon and TV references. Reading posts from Fred Sanford talking about picking up junk, Spock talking about Vulcans and Tribbles and the BA Baracus guy who is posting under three different screen names is annoying.

Before you all go taking offense and pointing your plastic phaser guns and light sabers at me, I am a conservative who found out about this blog through an article in the Providence Journal. I think the editors of this blog were probably proud when it was picked up in the mainstream media.

If bloggers continue to post gibberish, no paper or TV station will ever take this blog seriously. Its views and the bloggers who post here will be viewed as jokes and rightfully so. Let's try to avoid that.

3. Finally, people should stop posting under multiple screen names. Why on earth would you do that? To make it seem like Steve Laffey has more support than he does?

Newsflash, everyone on this site has already made up their mind on which way they're voting. Laffey will get most of the blogger votes here. I think that is true or at least true so long as there isn't a Star Trek convention coming to town on election day. In that case, it would appear he might have turn out problems.

4. Post on some of the blog threads that don't involve the Chafee/Laffey race. I was disppointed to see only two (including mine) comments on Roe v. Wade and NO comments on a disturbing post that talked about how civil rights are now being taught to kids.

Chafee/Laffey is a very important political campaign and a great race to watch, but let's not forget the bigger issues.

5. If you're working for a political campaign, fine, but don't monopolize twenty postings. Try to limit your posts to express your point and leave it at that.

Look most of the non-campaign people on this blog aren't idiots. For example, it's obvious that Fred Sanford does research for the Laffey campaign. How? He provides facts and figures for everything Laffey-related, but doesn't post a word on a blog thread if doesn't involve Steve Laffey.

What does that mean? I usually dimiss postings from Fred and BA Baracus as talking points issued from the Laffey campaign. In contrast, I enjoy reading postings from people like Will, Carroll and Marc. They obviously support the broader conservative cause and their support of Laffey is secondary to their their personal beliefs.

If I were at Laffey headquarters, I would tell the "professional" pro-Laffey bloggers to get back to making coffee and let the pro-Laffey conservatives who care about the cause do the posting on this blog. Their postings are much more peruasive to the average person.

Posted by: Anthony at January 20, 2006 6:34 PM


I think it will be tough to find a Real Republican that is pro Laffey.
Real Republicans do not support RINO's before the General election.

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at January 20, 2006 6:48 PM

To clarify some misunderstanding:

The only "bloggers" on this Web site are the six contributors listed in the left-hand column. We are the "editors," with the right to post directly to the main page for anchorrising.com, as well as to mediate the conversations in the comment sections.

Everybody else whose posts appear on this site are "commenters," for whom the privilege is granted to comment on individual posts by the bloggers. If you visit the main page, commenters are separated by a different page altogether; if you visit the page for an individual post (e.g., here is the page for this post), the comments are clearly separated by actual space and by font differences.

As for finding a "pro-Chafee" "editor," although I differ somewhat from Fred, Anchor Rising is explicitly a Web site by "conservative" Rhode Islanders. The pool of such people who are pro-Chafee is likely to be exceedingly limited. At any rate, part of the mission of this blog (part of what keeps it "open minded" in a broader-picture way) is that the bloggers (as opposed to commenters) are not chosen based on particular positions, but on the basis of general socio-political philosophy and the ability to express themselves.

And regarding commenters, the liberty of the comment sections is a question with which every blogger in the world (who has any readership at all) grapples. Given the environment in Rhode Island, we err on the side of liberty, including anonymity. We'll try to keep readers well-informed about others' commenting practices on the site, but the comments are, by design, an open forum.

And whatever the case, although you make some excellent points, Anthony, it strikes me as presumptuous to leverage mainstream media coverage to dictate the commenting policy that we bloggers should have, particularly given the errant parsing of the "blogger/commenter" distinction.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 20, 2006 7:28 PM


Interesting post, but you are advocating that which you claim the Laffey supports are doing. By calling for stricter blogging rules, you seek to stifle the very freedom the blog represents. Let the bloggers blog the way they want, otherwise you will end up with Pravda.

Besides, the only people who should have a say in how the blog is run are the good people who take the time to run this thing.

Posted by: Leonard Marshall at January 20, 2006 9:07 PM

At the outset, I just want to indicate that I generally agree with the sentiments of Fred on the Blog and Justin Katz. I would also note that we have not always agreed.

In response to Anthony, I would like to make a few points, that I did not get from any campaign but my own brain.

1, Chafee rarely votes "conservative" and when he does, it is nearly always on lopsided votes like the Roberts confirmation or CAFTA. He rarely votes conservative when there is a tough vote. For example, he voted with the Democrats when it cam time to cut spending by 40 billion over 5 years which went to a 50 to 50 tie in the Senate.

2, The fictional character name, at least for myself, was to be different. I can speculate that others may have done so though in response to the NRSC cartoon character attacks ads on Laffey.

3, As for research, yes I do perform research but not on behalf of Laffey but on Laffey, other candidates, and issues. For example, on ANWR I can talk to Anthony or Marc, and present facts that are avaiable on the interent. Sometimes, they happen to be on the Laffey website. I tend not to post under other topics because I either generally agree with the post, or feel I need not add anything. But I do post, in response to obvious Chafee talking point plants, who just repeat the same stuff over and over again, which has been rebutted over and over again. They are just so dumb at times, (Laffey is a nutcase, Laffey is a liberal, blah, blah) I feel they should be responded to by someone.

4,The Laffey-Chafee race is a significnat event in the history of the RIGOP, and to a much lesser extent the national GOP. Many people sense it, and therefore are excited, and talk about it a lot at least on the Laffey side.

5, This idea of making anchor rising have a "pro-Chafee editor" sounds like some kind of quota and just complaining. When one side is losing the debate on issues, they make character attacks. If that doesn't work they cry foul, no fair and take their ball and go home.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 20, 2006 9:10 PM

Fred on the blog

Time for some fresh thinking, Laffey is no RINO and you know it. This is a tired line of argument, there is only one RINO in this race and the other candidate stands with the taxpayers. On this there can be no dispute, just look at their platforms (or look as soon as Chafee has one).

Posted by: Leonard Marshall at January 20, 2006 9:10 PM

I apologize for posting so quickly I read Fred on the blog's post to quickly and thus misread it. I do need to disagree with Fred on the blog because a RINO would not support the Bush tax cuts, oppose pork spending, the war in Iraq and Alito. Laffey is a Republican on all those issues.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 20, 2006 9:18 PM

Justin, perhaps I applied the wrong label to decribe an "editor" of the blog, but my point still stands.

Leonard, I was not suggesting that the blog adopt stricter "rules". What I am suggesting is that some of the commentators trying advance their points may be having the opposite effects. Specifically, I don't think it helps when people begin posting comments under three different names or every posting comes from a TV character. I didn't say that the editors should delete this commentary, but that commentators may wish to look at how they post if they are trying to persuade others. More self-regulation than censorship.

I've run into several RI conservatives who are supporting Chafee because they are interested in retaining the Senate majority. Justin, I don't think the pool of conservatives who are supporting Chafee is as small as you suggest. I'm sure that there are small groups of very politically active conservatives who are energized by Laffey. But once you get outside that community and into the broader business community where people feel the brunt of taxes first-hand, there are plenty of conservatives who are more interested in the GOP keeping the Senate seat than in making some type of political statement. President Bush, who I think is the nation's leading conservative, supports Chafee.

Fred Sanford, I don't think of having a conservative with a different view as a 'quota'. I think of it as a way to create new discussions and to examine new issues. Otherwise, you're just left with stale repetition.

I know that you're trying to promote your guy and I can respect that. You were also one of the first "TV characters" on the blog, which was a little different and somewhat humorous. At least until every other commentator decided to do the same thing.

In the end people can do whatever they want. I was merely suggesting ways I thought might help keep the blog relevant and help bring new people to the cause.

I guess I was hoping that this blog would be a place to exchange ideas and in the process, help expand the conservative movement by attracting new participants. But I suppose it's really more of a forum for a small group of conservatives to share political gossip. Which is fine.
It would just be nice to find a blog that attempts to do the former.

Posted by: Anthony at January 21, 2006 2:58 AM


I apologize since my statement was a Freudian slip and should have been; I think it will be tough to find a Real Republican that is pro Chafee.
Real Republicans do not support RINO's before the General election.

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at January 21, 2006 8:31 AM

Anthony, I appreciate the civil/not typical talking point response to me.

I acknowledge that there are conservatives who support Chafee out of simple pragamtism/electability. However, my feeling is that over time, Laffey will be shown to be electable as well. As I have noted if you can win in Cranston or Warwick, you can win statewide.

Also, I think this group of pro-Chafee conservatives is very small, since the overwhelming majority of voters don't vote based on eletability. They vote based on who they agree with.

In contrast, political insiders tend to vote and donate based on electability....this is typical of the business community in RI that I think you were referencing. (As a side note, a reason why the business community in RI does not try to get involved in changing the legislature is due to this prgamatism. They are afraid to take risks and support Republicans and instead end up backing Democrats who are are at least not directly controlled by labor, but it doesn't do them much good in the long run.)

My preference is that this blog remain an open forum to all to express themselves in the manner they choose, that the editors of this blog stay true to their conservative convictions(even when it means diagreeing with Laffey), and that we discuss issues, not deal with childish character attacks/or listen to the same old talking points.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 21, 2006 9:49 AM

Blog within a blog: BWB

This is the 55th post on this topic. Why not try to keep this going as a blog within a blog.

Nothing but Laffey trouncing Chafee all the way to September.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at January 22, 2006 7:07 PM