February 28, 2008

What Should We Throw in the Bay?

Justin Katz

So I'm at the Tea Party event hosted by the Portsmouth Republicans. So far, Steve Coaty and Mayor Laffey have spoken. (Unfortunately, I didn't get set up in time to catch some of Laffey's pithy phrases, but I'm sure we'll be hearing them around the state over the next few years.)

The striking thing — at least for a guy whose involvement is mainly via Democrat-run municipal meetings and while sitting in my basement office at the computer — is how clearly the core problems facing the state are understood. (Really, how many different examples do we have to pile on the list?)

The problem is that a sizable segment of the people who understand those problems are in this room. There's a fair crowd, but the space is small. (I will note, by the way, that I'm thankful that not everybody put on their complementary flashing elephant pins. This time on a Thursday night, I don't know if I could take it.)



In case you're wondering, the pith of the discussion is that spending is out of control, taxpayers can't afford increases in taxes, we need to get outraged, people need to run for office as Republicans, and others need to get involved with and contribute to the party (or get involved in other ways).

ADDENDUM II (7:50 p.m.)

And in walks the governor (with Gio Cicione)...

"We're at a key, key point."
"Right now, RI's tax burden... ranks sixth highest in the country."
We've used up the money we've inherited from our rich uncle ("somebody called the tobacco settlement").
Three things we've got to do (aka "what's in this budget"):
1. Reduce spending by bringing public sector benefits into line with the private sector and making government more efficient.
2. Reduce handouts, but protect the safety net. "We've got people who are dependent on the state, and we can't abandon them."
3. Reduce aid to cities and towns. ("Out of $1.1 billion, I've reduced just $42 million.") In response to the complaint that he took one budget problem and made it 39: "That's exactly right." They've got the same problems. "We need, at the city and town level, to do the same thing" as at the state level.


ADDENDUM III (8:11p.m.)

A bit of advice from a novice in the audience: keep the speeches down. These things should be held in every town — and often — but they really have to be more interactive. Save the lectures; we all agree; we've all heard our leaders speak. Mayor Laffey seems to be the only guy who gets the logistics of stoking political flames. Here is what happened to his emotional momentum after the speeches (and I think he mirrors the crowd):


ADDENDUM IV (8:21p.m.)

Now we're having a heart-to-heart seminar on ensuring proper nursing care as we age.

Did I mention that we've got to get fired up, run for office, donate to candidates, and discuss death-related personal financial planning with strangers into the night?

ADDENDUM V (35 minutes until Lost starts):

The governor and Bob Watson have drifted away from a great question/suggestion from the audience to put together a Republican-reaction network that can get people on the phone and to the statehouse to counteract similar activities from special interests.

ADDENDUM VI (8:30 p.m.):

The governor is gone. The audience is following. (Did I mention that Lost starts soon?) While answering a question about illegal immigration, Mayor Laffey is offering to help any candidate who wants to run for office as a Republican. That's what we needed two hours of: not specifically Mayor Laffey, but suggestions, offers, and encouragements for involvement. Laffey's closing line: "Do something!"

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To ask a related question-how does a sane (by RI standards anyway) voting populace like Portsmouth elect a tax and illegal alien loving dimwit like Chuck Levesque?
We can expect such a creature in West warwick or Pawtucket, but Portsmouth??

Posted by: Mike at February 28, 2008 9:44 PM

A lot of people in Portsmouth ask themselves the same thing.

Levesque is like Karl Marx coming back reincarnated in Jaba the Hut's body.

Another stellar example of a Rhode Island Democrat.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 28, 2008 10:38 PM


Did Bob Watson bring his favorite Projo pen pal Kathy Gregg with him? Did Steve Laffey bring his Ginsu knives? Did the governor have his state police driver literally watching his back the whole night? Pep rally? What?
Such a joke this Rhode Island Republican 'party'.
Such a joke!

Posted by: Tim at February 29, 2008 7:38 AM

Watson was too busy giving fellow RINO McCain a buff and polish.

Posted by: Greg at February 29, 2008 9:45 AM

--"Watson was too busy giving fellow RINO McCain a buff and polish."

Amen Greg.

I'm in anguish having to root for the Democrat candidate for President to win.

We'll get more of a Democrat agenda enacted under McCain than we would under a Hillary / Obama regime.


Because McCain delights in sticking the knife in his own party - particularly conservatives - and he'll "reach across the aisle" and "bipartisan" their agenda, and the "party loyal" Republicans in Congress will go along.

But with a Democrat President, the Republicans in Congress are much more likely to oppose (filibuster) identical legislation.

Plus, if we're going to have open border and amnesty (and McCain is LYING about sealing the borders first) then better to have a Democrat do it. Then a real Republican can run against it in 2012.

Conversely, what would a real Republican run against in 2012 / 2016 if the Democrat agenda was enabled by a "bipartisan" Republican.

McCain will destroy the Republican Party for decades; better we lose this one and regroup for 2012.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 29, 2008 11:00 AM

"McCain will destroy the Republican Party for decades; better we lose this one and regroup for 2012."

That's the same argument I've been making for the RIGOP not running a candidate for governor next election cycle. Hand THEM the hand grenade and let it go off in THEIR face instead of having a completely democrat government with a powerless republican figurehead for them to blame like they are now with Old Man Don.

Posted by: Greg at February 29, 2008 1:10 PM

Hard to argue with the logic Greg.

I'd make an exception for Laffey - though I have some reservations about him, both as to ego / personality and ESPECIALLY about his apparent propensity to pander to the illegals - he's enough of a fighter (willing to call the union spade a union spade) that I don't think the Democrats would be able to make blame stick to him.

Now a RINO like an Avedesian, that's a whole 'nuther story.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 29, 2008 2:20 PM

For Avedesian to have a shot, Gio and the RIGOP would have to give the conservatives in the party a big, fat middle finger and support him. That would cause the Laffeyites like me to bolt the party and support him as an independent.

Posted by: Greg at February 29, 2008 2:58 PM

--For Avedesian to have a shot, Gio and the RIGOP would have to give the conservatives in the party a big, fat middle finger and support him. That would cause the Laffeyites like me to bolt the party and support him as an independent.

I'll give Gio credit for at least tolerating the conservatives and reaching out to us - big improvement over his predecessor.

As for the RIGOP as a body, Gio is just one figure, albeit with some influence - but certainly not control. Like Management 101, we should only hold him responsible only to the degree that he has authority.

Getting rid of Chafee was a good start - the Chafee clan has been the de facto "Chair" of the RIGOP for decades.

We conservatives (such as the folks at RIRA) need to become more involved - with the RIGOP and elsewhere. Once we generate a critical mass we can influence, if not control, direction.

Let's face it, the "moderates" are "go along to get along" by preference and personality - for now that means doing so with the controlling Democrat ideology and machine.

But moderates are followers, not leaders. If conservatives become equal in this state (and most RI'ers do lean this way) the "moderates" will be neutralized due to the balance of power; and if conservatives become ascendant / controlling the "moderates" will come along for the ride.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 29, 2008 10:34 PM
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